open thread – September 23-24, 2022

It’s the Friday open thread!

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

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

{ 1,148 comments… read them below }

  1. Pink Shoe Laces*

    If a job posting lists a salary range, and the recruiter asks “what salary are you looking for?” Should you always say the highest amount listed? In this example if the posting listed $90,000 – $110,000, should you say $110,000?

    And is anyone else nervous about job searching when there have been so many layoffs lately??

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      If the range is so small ($20k difference) and you’re a strong candidate (you meet most of the requirements of the job posting), you should absolutely say that the range is in line with what you’re looking for, but you’d be interested in the higher part of the range.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Agree with Anonymous Educator that “the posted salary range is in line with what I’m looking for.”

      If you want to be more specific (especially if the ad has a very wide range), you can benchmark off of how well you meet the criteria in the job ad. Ad say 5-10 years of experience and you have 5 and don’t have experience with a few of the bullet points? Probably matches up with the lower end of the range. But if you have 10 years of experience and you meet every bullet point than it’s very reasonable to say you’re interested in the higher part of the range.

    3. Annony*

      I think it depends on what you are actually looking for and how strong of a candidate you are. If a range is posted and you would be on the lower end as far as skills and experience go and you would honestly be happy with the lower end of the range I don’t think you should automatically say the top of the range. Make sure that the number you give makes sense.

      1. Snow Globe*

        I’d agree. If this is a stretch— you meet 65% of the requirements—don’t ask for top of the range. If you meet 85%+ of the requirements and several of the “nice-to-haves”, then you can justify asking for the top of the range.

        1. lost academic*

          I disagree strongly with adjusting the range based on the listed criteria. At the recruiter question stage you don’t know enough about which of the criteria are really important and how you match with the role as truly envisioned. This is not the time to sell yourself short -I’d say the majority of job descriptions don’t match reality. If the range is acceptable, say so – given the example narrow range, nothing more needs to be said and really most of the time nothing at all. Wait to negotiate until you have a lot more information and ideally an offer.

      2. Antilles*

        Good point, though I’d add the caveat that I wouldn’t go too far down on the range.
        I’d personally *never* list anything lower than the midpoint of the range no matter what since most humans unconsciously anchor around the midpoint.
        Nobody is going to blink twice at you listing off the average – even if you’re a bit underqualified and end up having to settle for less than the middle because you’re underqualified, there’s no reason to pre-emptively short yourself by offering the lower part of their range.

    4. Smithy*

      While I don’t see $20K as a very large salary range – I do want to flag that this is probably another case why it’s really important to be networking in your sector/region beyond just doing desk research.

      In my corner of nonprofits – its very common for salary ranges for positions to only be between $5-$10k. When it’s $5K, asking for the highest amount typically won’t bet a lot of pushback no matter how high the salary increase from your last job (particularly cause in the nonprofit sector salaries can be allllll over the place). When it’s a $10k range, it’s helpful to be a bit more mindful of how strong a candidate you are and while you certainly can aim for the top – I’d put in a little wiggle room to end up with a final figure in the middle.

      For nonprofits with an announced $20k range, again that’s rare… but with what I do know, I’d assume that top $10k range is being saved for candidates based in more expensive cities and/or a uniquely exceptional candidate. Depending your assessment, I think you certainly could say that you’re looking for a salary between $100k-$110k as a way to hedge your bets. But because it is more rare, and there will be candidates with 15 years of experience applying to some jobs that ask for 7 years…..what “exceptional” means, really can mean “above and beyond”.

      All to say – this is my nonprofit corner and may have no standing in your field.

    5. Pyanfar*

      As someone who both hires for our company and recruits for our clients, please, please, just tell me what you expect to make. If you have a “I really want” and “I can’t go below”, tell me both of those numbers. I know I’m not speaking for most employers, but I prefer to make an offer that we can afford that makes you as happy as possible to say yes!

      1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        I would tell them “I can’t go below x” if I didn’t believe I would end up with an offer of exactly x.

      2. Momma Bear*

        Agreed. I prefer the “Your salary is within my range. Ideally I am looking to make $x.” I usually don’t give a specific dollar figure but a small range of 2-5K that I could live with. This may also be an opportunity to negotiate things like amount of PTO. One reason I took this job was I got double the PTO with one week in the bank to start with. I also agree with those that suggest you learn the average rate for the area so you know about what people are giving other llama wranglers. Rarely hurts to have a basis of comparison.

    6. Parenthesis Dude*

      I would be careful if it’s a remote job. Many remote jobs take location into account when determining pay. So, the range may be $50,000 to $100,000, but someone living in Columbus Ohio may only be able to make $55,000-$75,000 while someone living in San Francisco might be able to make $75,000-$100,000.

      The other fear is that they might think you’re out of touch. If you’re not qualified for the position, but they see it as a stretch role for you, they may be interested at the low end of the range but not the high end.

      The final fear is if the range is ridiculous, like $45,000 to $225,000. You want to be careful about asking for the high end.

      1. Smithy*

        100% this, but this can also apply to more subtle difference like Los Angeles to San Francisco.

        I have a friend who lives in Ohio be really upset to be paid less than a similar colleague in Los Angeles, and was planning to go to her bosses/HR with guns blazing on this point. It really was all I could do to point out how common this is and would be unlikely to be seen as equal work for unequal pay.

        1. Momma Bear*

          Location, location, location. I’m living in one city and my friend in another. They can’t afford to live without roommates. They make at least $30K more than me, but cost of living is so much higher.

    7. just wondering what's out there*

      To answer your second question: yes! And for so many other reasons! After a lot of hemming and hawing I’ve decided to officially start job-hunting because I’ve realized I’m textbook burnt out. Although there seem to be (at least based on the job alert emails) tons of jobs out there, I can’t help but feel that it won’t last forever, or that none of them will be a good fit for me, etc. Trying to hold out the hope of being a Friday Good News someday! Good luck to you!

    8. Green Goose*

      One thing my company does that is quite annoying is that we expect, budget-wise, that we will be hiring people at the midrange of the salary band and hiring managers have to really fight to get people in at the top of the range and it’s usually unsuccessful unless if it’s a really, really crucial position. Not a great practice but wanted to flag in case other places do this too.

    9. WheresMyPen*

      I’ve heard (might have been on here) that the lowest figure is for someone with the potential to do the job well, but will need lots of training, the middle is someone who can handle some of the tasks but will need time to learn others, and the highest is for someone who can walk in and do the job easily from the start, so I wouldn’t ask for the top range if I knew there were elements of the job description I couldn’t do yet.

  2. Camellia*

    My company had decided to allow us to continue to work from home for the foreseeable future (yay!) but is talking about doing away with company issued laptops and moving to a ‘virtual desktop’, that we would log in to from our PERSONAL laptops. This would be a significant cost savings to the company, considering we have more than 700 employees, and many of us have older equipment – my work laptop is more than 6 years old.

    Aside from 1) not everyone has a personal laptop or desktop, what counter-arguments can I offer to try to dissuade them from this (imho terrible) idea?

    1. urguncle*

      – Virtual desktops can be slow and difficult to use. They’ll need to have a dedicated person or people who can regularly set these up, troubleshoot them, fix issues and any down time for the virtual desktop = major losses for the company. Any wifi issues mean there’s NO work getting done for that person that day.
      – This causes a lot of wear and tear on personal laptops and people are going to have very different ideas of what a “good” machine is. Even if they’re on a virtual desktop, they can save company files to their own machine, which is a nightmare for security.
      – How will they address personal laptops being down? Are they going to pay for repairs for many different types of laptops? Pay people for downtime?

      Frankly, if providing a (highly discounted, because they can buy them in bulk and at wholesale or close to wholesale prices) laptop is breaking the bank, they have other major cash flow issues. This is like asking people to bring their own forklifts to a job and expecting them to absorb the costs of the forklift, maintenance and parts. To me, being asked to use my personal laptop (in addition to my personal space, my personal desk, my personal air conditioning) is an enormous red flag for a company that is cutting corners in the stupidest possible way.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      From a security standpoint, that situation is a nightmare. They have no idea if you’re installing updates on your personal computer to patch security vulnerabilities. They have no idea if you’ve installed malware (like keyloggers) to capture the credentials you use to log into the “virtual desktop.”

      They’d also have zero control over data extrafiltration, since any data on your laptop would be your laptop, not the company’s. And if your personal laptop ever got stolen, they would have no recourse to send an MDM-initiated lock command to try prevent thieves from accessing the data (including your “virtual desktop” login credentials) on your personal laptop.

      1. Camellia*

        I thought it was the opposite – that ALL data on my laptop would essentially be considered company data and that they could wipe everything, any time they choose. I’ve read nightmare stories about that, although they usually apply to people using their personal phone for work, and the phone getting wiped by the company. Is that not the case?

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          How would they wipe it if it’s your personal laptop? Are they going to install management tools on your personal laptop? That’s not cool.

          1. ShysterB*

            That is exactly what my firm does for people who have firm apps to access firm email, etc., on their personal phone. Which is why I have two phones, the second one being the smallest/cheapest iPhone that meets firm requirements and is used ONLY for work email. (And gets left behind when I am “off the clock.”)

            So yes, I imagine this proposal would include telling employees they have to give the company such management rights. Which is another reason employees should object en masse.

            1. Anonymous Educator*

              If you have a personal Mac, there are no management tools they can install that you can’t just remove. The only non-removable MDM enrollment would be if they bought the device, and it’s owned by the company and managed in Apple Business Manager.

                1. Anonymous llama inspector*

                  Apple MDM is a nightmare, a friend just sent me a great blog post about it, link in reply.

              1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

                If you know about the software.

                Not everyone does know how to see what is running on their personal machine, and the average mac user is even less likely to know how to access process lists and installed software than the average PC user, in my experience with the public.

            2. miss chevious*

              Yeah, that’s why I have two phones as well — the company does not need to have insight into or the ability to control my personal information. If my company instituted a “personal laptop” policy, I would start looking for another job, immediately.

          2. Nancy*

            Yes, this is common when working with patient data. They need to be able to do so in case it is lost or stolen to protect patient information. It’s also why my organization discourages people from using their personal computer or phone for work reasons.

        2. Betty*

          Similarly I would be concerned about potential seizure of the personal laptop if there are legal issues. I work in government in a state that has some of the widest reaching rules on releasing public information, so I have had coworkers need to turn their personal phone over because they had used it to access their work email. Probably less of an issue if you don’t work in the government but there could be similar issues for some private sector work.

          1. WellRed*

            And if I have an issue with my work laptop it can be shipped to IT and I get a replacement. I’m not shipping my personal device to IT, I’m not going to pay for it be held responsible for outsourcing the repair and what device shall I use in the meantime?

          2. Velociraptor Attack*

            I’m in a role where it doesn’t seem like I’m a government employee but teeeechnically I am. Separate work phone, don’t touch my work email on any personal devices.

        3. Person from the Resume*

          Virtual desktop means that you log into a virtual desktop. The virtual desktop is an app on your computer. That’s it; you wouldn’t generally install any other work software on your personal computer. You might not even be able to download files to personal computer is security is tight.

          It’s better than just “bring your own device” where all the work apps are installed on your personal computer’s desktop, more secure, but you still have to provide them a machine.

          1. hamburke*

            right but you can save items to your desktop from the virtual machine. I have my local drives mapped to the virtual desktop, mostly to save directly to our company Google drive since our virtual desktop provider does not support g-drive for desktop.

            this brings up another thing – I can’t load any programs, even updates, on my virtual desktop. I have to call support. they’re actually good about windows updates and QuickBooks updates but any of the automation tools (only the ones that they support) I have to call about. this means I can’t demo a product that I might not end up using or get on something that a client sends or grab a useful tool when I need it – I have to get on the schedule. they are pretty quick, usually but not like before.

            additionally, I can’t really use zoom through the virtual desktop – it won’t pick up my mic. so I use web-based email and have zoom on my laptop.

      2. snarkfox*

        It is definitely a security nightmare. I have a side job working virtually for a university, and I’m “required” to use the virtual desktop… but I don’t. I can’t get it to work, and the one time I talked to IT, they remotely took control of my laptop. I am incredibly uncomfortable with someone poking around my personal computer! The few times I tried to use it, it was very slow and clunky.

        So… unless they strictly monitor whether or not people are using it, if it’s anything like the one my company uses, people are just not going to use it.

      3. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        Not exactly.
        The idea of a virtual desktop is that the personal laptop is essentially a dumb terminal (remember those?). Copying files (in and out) to local files is blocked; while one could do screenshots, other means of exfiltration can be prevented.
        This can be better for security than individual desktops (if properly managed, of course).

    3. EMP*

      I would mention the potential productivity loss when you’re all limited by internet speeds/connectivity. My work VPN will sometimes throttle us to the point where we can’t do video calls.

      1. Mid*

        Yup, we have to do video calls outside of our remote desktop program, and we only have 10 employees at my company. So, even if people don’t save files outside of their remote work desktop, business will still likely happen outside of the remote desktop, and that’s a security issue.

    4. Double A*

      The tech issues they would have trying to get this to work on 700 different machines will not be worth the savings of upgrading laptops on a rolling basis.

    5. learnedthehardway*

      I’d start with security issues – it’s going to be a nightmare to ensure the security, I would think, when people are going to be using their own computers for company stuff.

      There’s also the technology issue you mention – everyone is going to have different aged computer equipment, different operating systems (Macs vs Microsoft), etc.

      It’s also just a PITA to log into a VPN and have a whole different desktop, when you want to use your computer for something else. One of my clients wanted me to use my personal computer for their virtual desktop and I refused, because when I’m on their desktop, I can’t access any of my own stuff on the computer. I have to log out / leave the virtual desktop to do so, and then log back in again. I told them that this would just result in me logging in only 2x per day to see if anything important was going on, but that I wasn’t going to do it otherwise. They gave up on the idea.

      1. learnedthehardway*

        Another thought – personal computers are used by the whole family, potentially – that’s another security issue. How is the company going to restrict other family members from using the computer. I mean, sure, having a work-only computer at home could also be used by others, but it’s a whole lot less likely to be used that way.

    6. Charlotte Lucas*

      It can be a bigger security issue. I work in government & we are specifically told this is a bad idea, due to documentation needs. And if there is any legal action, private devices can be subpoenaed & taken away from the owner.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        When I started my gov’t job I had to use my personal computer for almost two months before I could get appropriate credentials to use the gov’t furnished laptop. It was very frustating as I was limited to publicly available content until I could get on the VPN/intranet because of the potential security issues.

        I don’t suppose the company will be inclined to provide a tech budget for replacing your personal computers when there are inevitable problems. If they need that money so badly they’re willing to risk major security issues, the company doesn’t sound very financially stable.

      2. IT Manager*

        And (since government) if anyone has access to classified information and accidentally emails it to you etc … we have to take away any device that touched it and incinerate it. Including any personal phones that automatically sync emails.

        Literally incinerate it. And no, you can’t turn it back on for just 5 minutes to retrieve those precious baby photos you forgot to back up.

    7. Massive Dynamic*

      Whether you have a personal computer or not, tell them you don’t have one and ask what the plan is for that.

      Also this idea is nuts. Check your state rules because some states (CA) would force them to reimburse you all for computer purchases to do your jobs.

      1. I should be working*

        Total agreement. I really hope people rapidly come to the conclusion that this practice is unethical, impractical, a security risk, etc.

        There is absolutely no way an employer should have access to one’s personal computer unless it’s part of a criminal investigation. This should not be allowed to become a normal expectation.

      2. just passing through*

        If you don’t want to lie: “I don’t have a laptop that is usable for this purpose.” It’s true–you can’t use it for this purpose because you need it to remain a personal device!

    8. Web Crawler*

      1. It’s a major security risk- they don’t know what kind of viruses you’ve picked up from suspicious sites in your spare time, and what kind of protections you’ve got on your laptop

      2. It’s a privacy risk for them, to have their work stuff mixed in with your personal stuff

      3. Are they going to provide the software that you need in order to work? Like, I don’t have Microsoft office

    9. Cats and Bats Rule*

      This will be a waking nightmare for your IT department! Most likely, everyone’s personal laptop is going to be different, so your IT help desk is going to spend a lot of (frustrating) time helping employees download and use the virtual software. This is going to take time away from supporting your organization’s infrastructure, lead to high turnover in your IT department, and generally waste everyone’s (users and IT staff) time when they could be doing what they were hired to do.

    10. Llellayena*

      We use a virtual desktop (remote desktop? log in to the work computer from the internet of the home computer) set up for WFH and I find it doesn’t task my laptop as much as other types of connections might. My laptop is ON all day, but it’s just connecting to the other computer via the internet. All the computing power of my daily tasks are happening to my work-based desktop (which is good because we use very heavy graphics programs and my laptop definitely can’t handle that). It does pose some issues for virtual meetings as you’re connecting sound and visual through the work desktop and not the laptop camera and microphone, so a separate call-in by phone is required and you won’t be sharing your pretty face! I can’t speak to security issues, it’s not a heavy consideration for my work.

    11. Nesprin*

      I’d highly suggest you publicly forget you have a personal laptop. Or “drop” it quickly so it ceases to exist.

    12. Other Alice*

      Quite aside from the many security issues… What about Linux users? Are they going to provide software that’s compatible with every possible OS?

    13. cubone*

      I just want to encourage you that my partner’s company had this same approach and after enough people continuously pushed back using many of the arguments here, they reversed and provided everyone a laptop (and monitor/keyboard/mouse if they’d like).

      In their case, the arguments about security where by far the most persuasive, given the work they do. So, if possible, try to see what things might be most relevant for your workplace or which ones they seem to maybe be considering as more compelling arguments and lean into those HARD.

    14. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      If they really do want to move to a virtual desktop environment, they could split the difference and go for thin clients – a lot of our individual contributors are on those, they’re pretty much useless unless they’re accessing a virtual machine on the main server.

      … on the other hand, as long as they’re working, they’re fine, but when any of my team members call into the help desk, the first thing the help desk person says is “Are you on an IGEL?” and they audibly groan when the answer is “Yes.” :P

      So then the question becomes, do they want your help desk suddenly responsible for helping all your employees maintain tech support on their personal computers, which may run the gamut from Macs to Windows to Linux, laptops, desktops, maybe even tablets, six months old, ten years old, what do you MEAN you’re using a hacked-up Atari?

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Right! We have a virtual desktop OPTION for remote users. I can, in an absolute pinch, get a virtual desktop through VPN on my personal computer or even on my iPad, and have done so a couple of times. It’s handy for me, but if something goes weird with it, our help desk has been very emphatic that they will not support personal devices, they only support org-issued ones.

    15. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      This would be difficult.
      I have a personal computer (a 2009 iMac) which is fine for internet but unsuitable for work purposes. I’ve let it lag since most of my work is now done on my company computer. I expect many people are doing the same.

      If a company expects all work to be done on the employee’s personal home computers, my thought is they ought to offer a yearly stipend for employees to go buy them. Otherwise, the employer needs to provide the equipment.

    16. what we do*

      This is how we have been handling the pandemic all along. If you are working remote you use your equipment to access your work computer. We have no issues with this set up as far as supporting it. Our IT is in office to attend to people’s computers if needed. At home all people need is a very very basic computer because they are really using our office computers. We are still providing the equipment to do the job – its in the office. Users who don’t / didn’t / couldn’t use their own equipment or who don’t have internet (we are quite rural) come in to the office.

    17. Mid*

      Does your company have an IT department? They’ll likely be a good group to work with to get support to push back on this, for all the reasons people have listed below.

    18. An Australian In London (currently in Australia)*

      For huge companies with a large established IT help desk (= $$$), BYOD (bring your own device) can be a good idea, but it doesn’t usually actually save them money.

      The burden on IT grows massively as there is no longer any standardisation. They now have to support everything – multiple brands, multiple operating systems, multiple versions of the operating system, ancient hardware that can barely meet the requirements. This results in a lot more help desk cases, meaning they have to hire a lot more help desk workers = $$$.

      The many security issues mentioned can be handled by minimum requirements for the VPN (requires enterprise solutions = $$$).

      This requires installing some and maybe a lot of company software on the device. Effectively this turns a personal computer into a company computer, will all that that brings: assume they can now see everything stored on that computer and see everything you do. Personal email, internet banking, etc.

      I personally find that way too much corporate overreach. If they want to control my work computer they can give me a work computer. I don’t allow end clients to install anything on my personal machines. I create a VM (virtual machine) per workplace, and all their corporate malware goes in there where it can’t access my stuff.

      This is course is both expensive and requires non-trivial IT skills to get right. (Audio and video through a VM running a VPN is a nightmare.)

      One of the places I work is a huge international investment bank who you will have heard of. They are fed up with all of the above issues and costs and have just done the reverse: they are issuing work laptops to literally every worker, of which there are more than 100,000 around the world. You have to figure that a bank doesn’t buy 100,000 laptops unless it has determined that this is cheaper and better than the alternative.

      An objection I haven’t seen anyone make yet is that this is a social justice / equity / DEI issue. Requiring workers to supply their own IT assets makes assumptions about their income that aren’t fair or reasonable. Most jurisdictions don’t allow these costs to be claimed on taxes unless they are used 100% for work, and most jurisdictions won’t believe that your only computer is used 100% for work.

      So for how to argue this: cost, security, legal liability, privacy concerns, DEI concerns, optics in the press.

      1. I should be working*

        “An objection I haven’t seen anyone make yet is that this is a social justice / equity / DEI issue. Requiring workers to supply their own IT assets makes assumptions about their income that aren’t fair or reasonable. Most jurisdictions don’t allow these costs to be claimed on taxes unless they are used 100% for work, and most jurisdictions won’t believe that your only computer is used 100% for work.”

        Socialism for the company’s equipment costs. Capitalism for their profits. It was actually the first place my brain went, but since that veers into the political I thought I’d avoid coming out and saying it.

    19. Camellia*

      Thanks, everyone, for great answers! I will monitor this thread and use all your inputs for my list. I really appreciate it!

    20. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Another possible security issue: this assumes that neither you nor any of your coworkers share your laptop with a spouse or other relative whose employer is also requiring them to use their own hardware. If Alice’s employer is sued and she has to turn over her machine for discovery, that could expose Bob’s employer’s data.

    21. beach read*

      We did this for a while at the beginning of the pandemic and then switched to company provided laptops. I had a lot of misgivings at first but was so thankful to be able to continue working. I never had any technical issues. After a while working from home, I decided I liked it very much. I got more work done, I didn’t freeze from the air conditioning, gas savings, time saved not commuting and not having to wear office clothes every day. If my employer required me to purchase a laptop, I would consider it a small price to pay to be able to continue WFH. That said, I would purchase one specifically for work purposes.

    22. Jane of All Trades*

      Other than issues already discussed (security etc), I have three big issues with this:
      1. You can’t work without consistent, reliable internet. So working on a plane or a train becomes a major issue, and any other situation where you don’t have reliable internet, because every time the connection is lost you can’t do anything with the computer until it has reconnected.
      2. It feels like you’re being charged to work. A computer meeting business needs that comes with a warranty easily costs more than $1,500. By asking people to make that level of initial investment you limit who can or wants to work for you. I started at a company that didn’t provide work computers a while ago (I didn’t even realize that was a possibility) and was asked to shell out a lot of money for a computer meeting the company’s requirements. I could not find any below $2,000, so if felt like I was being charged to start a job. There are also a lot of people who may not be able to cover an amount like that, especially when they haven’t even collected a paycheck yet.
      3. Making people responsible for repairs is inefficient. If something happens to an employees work laptop they will come out of pocket again to make sure they have a working laptop. Realistically that means if they can’t afford a new one, or repairs, they will not have a well functioning computer, or may be in a position where they have to coordinate with family members, and so on. Other than fairness issues that means you’re risking people being unavailable and working slower when they have computer issues.

    23. Me*

      We use a virtual desktop at my library (on the PCs that are installed there, not personal computers, so some of the issues don’t apply) and other than being able to log in at any computer in the building, it’s…not great.

      The biggest issue is that, if a hack takes down your virtual system, it takes down EVERYTHING. As in, back in April we had ZERO access to our computer network for about three days. After that, we got some access back, but it was minimal for another week. After that, it finally returned, but they had to revert to an older version of the system — and blocked all websites that don’t originate in America. Do you know how many important and useful websites aren’t located in the US? A couple of months later, they added Canadian sites as well, but it’s September and we still have no access to websites that are hosted anywhere other than the US or Canada.

      We were able to mitigate some of the damage by using laptops that weren’t on the system (there was nothing wrong with our internet), but it was a giant mess.

      The second issue is sometimes virtual systems mess with other stuff. For a while, if I had more than about five tabs open in Chrome on my work computer, it would sometimes randomly shut down or just stop working. More than ten, and that increased to often. This was incredibly frustrating when a) we have to use Chrome for our cataloging software and b) I manage social media for my library, and there are times I absolutely need more than ten tabs open at a time.

      I recommend against it.

      1. J*

        My workplace made us all use virtual, though I was a rare person who had a workplace provided device due to a special grant. When a car hit the transformer next to our work, no one could work for 3+ days. Because of my special laptop, I could do limited logins to our database because it detected I had an employer-owned device but otherwise outside IPs were banned so we couldn’t do anything. The phone system was linked so it was also down. Then soon after it came online a flood hit the building and took out computers for 1/3 of the remote users, since it was remoting into each individual desktop. They still didn’t plan to change their IT strategy after all that, just demanded we return to office. Which was an issue because many of our workers had to be off-site during the day anyway for court and such.

  3. Post interview follow-up*

    I had an interview on Friday September 9th and it seemed to go well. I sent a thank you email later that day and they said they’d be in touch by the end of next week.

    I haven’t heard back and should assume I haven’t been selected. I was thinking to email them Monday to follow-up. In the past Alison has said to give post-interview timelines some leeway. Is 2 weeks ok to followup?

    And how should I frame my follow-up email? Should I frame it as checking in? Or can I ask for feedback, which I’m really interested in?

    1. AsPerElaine*

      If they said they’d be in touch by the end of the week, I think a follow up after two weeks is very appropriate.

      Personally I’d just do a checkin, and ask for feedback later in the process if that feels appropriate. “Hi, I wanted to reiterate my interest in the Teapot Painter position; do you have an updated timeline for next steps? Thanks, Valentina”

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      September 9, and it’s September 23? I don’t think it’s wildly out of place to follow up to just ask where they are with your candidacy.

    3. learnedthehardway*

      Two weeks after your interview is just fine for a follow up. I would say you are checking in and continue to be quite interested in the role. Leave it at that.

    4. kiki*

      I think it’s a good time to follow-up, especially since they’re a week past the timeline they conveyed. I wouldn’t necessarily assume you weren’t accepted– hiring sometimes just takes more time than anyone thought.
      I recently accepted job at a company I worked at previously. It took them three weeks after my second interview to get me an offer. I assumed it must have been a hard debate between me and the other candidates or something. I was talking to my former coworker and soon-to-be-boss and he said that wasn’t the case at all. They decided on hiring me the day after the interview and all the rest of the time was internal bureaucracy and waiting for the hiring lead to have time in their schedule to get the offer to me.

    5. BRR*

      I don’t think it would be a faux pas to send a follow up email to check in on the timeline, but I wouldn’t ask for feedback just yet. This could easily be in “hiring takes longer than expected” territory.

      1. Oui oui oui all the way home*

        I agree. I think asking for feedback at this stage has the potential for coming across as high maintenance when they may still be in the midst of things such as getting approvals or dealing with other matters that are a higher priority for them.

  4. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    How are you guys capturing all the various requests you receive and remembering to follow up? I note that I often hand write them so they are forgotten. I used trello for one day and then forgot to use that too.

    1. Floppy Ears*

      I guess it would depend on the way you receive the requests, but I generally ask people to follow up with me via email if they are requesting something in person. I then flag the emails in outlook so they show up in my task list and reference that in addition to a “pending items” list that is a hard copy. Between the two I pretty much remind myself about following up. You can also set due dates for the items in outlook that you’ve flagged for your task list.

        1. Hlao-roo*

          Whatever system you try out/decide to use, the most important thing is transferring the requests from multiple sources into the One Task List to Rule Them All. Verbal requests should go into the One Task List immediately, or if you don’t have it on you at the moment then text/email yourself or write it down on paper and transfer it as soon as possible.

          For electronic requests (texts and emails), you can transfer them into the One Task List as they come in or you can block off a few times during the day where you spend 10-30 minutes going through your phone and email and moving requests from texts and emails into the One Task List.

          1. CharlieBrown*

            Exactly this. I have a lot of projects that I work on; some of them I only need to deal with for a couple of hours and some go on for weeks or months. So everything goes onto a color-coded spreadsheet and gets assigned an index number. I set it up as a table, so that I can sort by the index number. And because other teams have different priorities, I’ll add an index for their priority, so that I can easily sort it by their priority when I need to discuss it with them. Everything goes on this list.

            It seems needlessly complicated, but it works. I’ve adapted it over most of a year, adding features I didn’t know I needed and pruning things it turns out I didn’t, and it is finally to a point where I need it to be. But the important thing is that everything goes on it, and it’s the first thing I open in the morning and the last thing I close at night.

    2. Time for cocoa*

      I use the Stickies app. It gives me a similar vibe to hand writing notes, but typing is quicker/easier than using my horrendous penmanship. Color coding and font formatting help categorize.

      1. Overeducated*

        Similar here – I keep a notepad file open on my desktop. It’s pretty low tech but easy to update throughout the day.

    3. Everything Bagel*

      I mostly do it through Outlook. When I receive an email, I’ll set a reminder about it. If I have a conversation with someone, I’ll email myself a recap of the convo and set a reminder if one is needed. Otherwise I use the Outlook tasks manager for reminders.

      I used to be a note taker, with Steno pads being my favorite. however, when we move back to hybrid in the office and working from home, it was just too much of a pain to try to remember to bring my notebook everywhere with me, so I started using the above method to take notes and set reminders for myself. There’s probably better ways, but this has worked for me.

      1. Ama*

        This is what I do as well. I deal with a lot of issues over email where I need to give the other person 2-4 weeks to pull documentation together, so when I get a conversation to a place where that’s happening, I’ll flag the last email in the chain and set it to remind me however far out I want to check back in. I also keep several running to do lists in One Note for anything that isn’t being handled primarily through email (for example if I need to remember to bring a certain topic up in our next team meeting).

        In the early days of my career I was a big post it note person but my job got too complex to keep track of all the post it notes, so One Note has kind of turned into the replacement for that (plus it’s searchable which is helpful when I know I wrote something down but can’t remember what category I put it under).

      2. Joielle*

        Same here – Outlook tasks for everything. Super easy to flag an email for followup (or type in a task) and assign a date. I also use OneNote for longer term planning and I’ll send emails to the relevant OneNote page if I want to remember them for later.

        I tried Trello for a couple of days but it just felt like a lot of data entry when everything is already in Outlook. The MS set of software is not my favorite overall, but it’s what we already use at work so I’ve found it to be easier to just use the built in tools.

    4. Mostly Managing*

      I use a notebook. Just a regular, spiral bound, school notebook.

      Every new request gets a “Checkbox” drawn in the margin (literally, I draw a square) and then I have as many lines to write the request as I need. Some things are one line, eg rebook the dentist, or get pricing on ABC. Some things take several lines to write down all the details I need to remember, eg Check flight prices for (here) to (there) on (dates) for X people. Also hotels near the conference venue. Let Sam know by end of day Tuesday.

      Using a plain notebook means I can give each item as much/little space as needed.

      And it’s easy to flip back through the book and make sure all the boxes are checked off as “done”.
      (Once in a while, finishing something leads to another task. Then I make a new item on the current page).

      1. Mockingjay*

        Staples has graph-ruled steno books. These are my favorite for running task lists. I too draw checkboxes, one beside the main heading to indicate completion, and indented boxes for subtasks, which get checked off first. The graph ruling helps my lousy penmanship.

    5. Notfunny.*

      Depending upon the urgency, I do a couple of things: snooze emails in my inbox, set calendar reminders for myself, and also label/file the emails in a folder called “waiting for” which I go through on Fridays to see what I need to follow up about.

    6. Double A*

      We’re pretty integrated with Google so I’ve been using tasks more. but you need to get into the habit of checking it so things don’t slide if you didn’t do them the instant they popped up on your calendar.

    7. DisneyChannelThis*

      Outlook I flag and set reminders so emails come back to haunt me if I forget. In person requests go on a post it note while talking to the person then on the edge of my monitor or shelf. I’m very visual if I don’t see it I won’t remember it.

      1. Jack Bruce*

        Same! I use outlook flags and weekly remove stuff from my inbox that I’m done with. I also create a daily checklist to mark things off, so I have a couple places I have to see what needs to be done.

    8. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I keep a to-do list under my keyboard and I cross things off. Keeping everything in one place is important for me.

      Many years ago I put everything on little Post-Its and stuck them on my keyboard. Sounds old-fashioned, but it accomplished a few things: I wrote the requests down so I could process them in my head, the notes were right in front of me so I couldn’t forget, and I threw them away once they were done. I did this with requests that were emailed, phoned in, and made in person.

    9. CheesePlease*

      It’s also ok to ask people to email / slack /teams you a message with the request. After a meeting if someone says “Hey Stuckinacrazy job can you send me the teapot color report for last month?” you respond “Sure Sal, can you send me an email after this meeting so I don’t forget?”

    10. Temperance*

      I have two task pads on my desk – one has 3 columns, one for people to follow up with, one for tasks to do, and one for a shopping list. The other is a 5 day one.

      I write all smaller tasks on the pad with columns, and then bigger stuff on the 5-day pad.

      They’re on Amazon. The one with columns is “Productive AF Task Pad”.

    11. Librarian of SHIELD*

      Does the email client your workplace uses include a to-do list function? I use that a lot for work and I’ve found it super helpful because I can program reminders, and it’s the same software I was going to be using anyway so I don’t have to remember to log in and check.

    12. Quinalla*

      I use Onenote and have various lists that I check multiple times a day. As another poster said, whatever you decide to use, it is best to have one master list. Sometimes I’ve seen folks make it work with two, but I wouldn’t have more than that. And you have to check them as required throughout the day. But yeah, I like one master list that is split up into a few categories (for me it’s Work/Personal/Waiting For that are my major ones) and then I have my calendars that all display on my phone (Work, personal, shared family) so I have those two places that I use to plan my next task/day/week/2 weeks.

    13. snarkfox*

      I use a paper planner. Specifically, I use the Hobonichi cousin because it has a full page for each day, so I can create a to-do list each day and then migrate the tasks to the next day if I don’t get them done, bullet journal style.

      I have ADHD, and for some reason, digital reminders, apps, and alarms absolutely do not work for me. For some reason, I just ignore them.

    14. Accounting with Joy*

      I just use a Word Doc to list tasks for each work week. I break down my to-do list by day because I find assigning a time to work through requests helps me be more productive. At the bottom of the page, I have a list for next week of tasks I can’t get to right away. At the end of Friday I create a new Word Doc for the next week and pull forward any tasks I haven’t finished. The best part of this set up is that on subsequent pages I record notes for all the meetings I’m in that week. So if one of direct reports needs me to follow up on something, I highlight that item in my meeting notes and then later copy it into this week’s or next week’s to-do lists. Finally, I keep all these weekly Word Docs in Windows folder, so when I’m trying to remember when I worked on a Project A or where my notes are from a certain meeting, I just search the folder by keywords! It takes time to track things this way but has made me way more productive, and I don’t drop the ball on requests as often as when I just relied on sticky notes.

    15. Something something*

      I have a notebook that I take with me to meetings (really, almost everywhere). My to-do list lives there, and everything gets added to it. (plus, it’s very satisfying to check things off after completion!).

      The other thing that helps me is slack – you can set up reminders to check messages. Sometimes I’ll write one to myself, other times I’ll set a reminder on someone else’s message to look at it in more detail/respond.

      I’m working on transitioning to our task tracking system at work, but it’s a hard adjustment!

    16. Nightengale*

      Excel spreadsheet

      I’m a pediatrician and some of my “todos” are embedded in the EHR as messages, refill requests, etc. The rest – letters I need to write, a note to call a child’s therapist or CYF worker, something I need to print out the next time I am in the office – goes on the spreadsheet. I also keep a list of notes I need to write in there because it is easier to see in one place than looking day by day through the ERH. I have sections and color coding and stuff.

    17. ThatHRLady*

      I’m old school and use a white board. I manage a couple of departments — so high priority running tasks are listed under department headings. And then I have a column in the center of the board for things that are more urgent or pressing — usually requests from others land in this column unless they directly relate to a specific department project. All color coded for department, urgency, etc.

  5. Curve of Binding Energy*

    Where online do women look for ideas about what to wear to look professional when conventional business clothing isn’t appropriate? I’m in engineering, in an environment where I need to go in spaces that require long pants, shoes that cover the whole foot, etc., but I’m also a manager and want to step up my jeans and t-shirt look. My male colleagues can get away with a button-down shirt and slacks/jeans, but I’m short and extremely busty, so that’s a terrible look on me. I’ve tried looking around my company for ideas, but most of the women at my level, particularly those who are curvy, seem to be having a similarly hard time. Where else should I look?

      1. AsPerElaine*

        I like their pants too, but will note that they assume you’re wearing multi-inch heels (??? Weird assumption for a comfy pants company), so it’s possible that even “short petite” or whatever their shortest size is may still need hemmed.

        1. listen up fives, a ten is speaking*

          I’m 4’11” and don’t wear heels and I bought one pair of beta brand in the shortest size… they were so long that they completely covered my feet plus maybe one inch

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Some random polos I found on Amazon saved my life. I was able to find a longer one that prevented rear end cleavage. The collar makes it a little formal, they come in a million colors. It looks put together, but it doesn’t risk falling out of your blouse when you crawl under equipment. You can easily layer a sweater or cardigan on top. Khakis+black+dark green pants OR more casual with jeans. Just check the reviews for how they look on people, some are cut more busty and some are cut more unisex.

      1. Green Goose*

        This is a great suggestion, and if they still look too boxy it might be worth having them tailored. A button down or work shirt can look so much better when tailored. It is an added expense, but maybe worth it?
        My issue is I’m quite curvy so when I wear things that aren’t form fitting, I can look so much heavier than I am. I got a few items tailored and they just look so much better, and not frumpy.

    2. Leilah*

      are blazers going to come off as “too much” ? Expensive dark jeans, a belt and a casual blazer has been a good go-to for me.

    3. Running on Diet Coke and Cookies*

      Pinterest to get ideas. I work in IT in a government facility so I have to be okay getting dirty but still look smart if called into a meeting.

    4. to varying degrees*

      I have good luck with Banana Republic Factory, J. Crew and Old Navy (specifically the skinny/curvy fit for pants). You can also check out eSkakti and have some of the selections made to your actual measurements. The selection there isn’t huge but they some good basics.

    5. Sewist*

      There’s a shoe brand called Xena Workwear that makes steel-toed women’s boots that look very stylish – I haven’t bought any myself, but I’ve considered it for the look alone (I don’t need steel-toed shoes for my work but I like what Xena is doing).

      I find women’s button-down shirts to be a mess for anyone with >B cup and have taken to making my own shirts so they fit right and don’t make me look like I’m swimming in them. If tailoring shirts is an option for you, maybe try that before writing off button-downs? Otherwise, I find a nice blouse or sweater is appropriate.

      1. hamburke*

        I’ve found a few brands who do a hidden button that does well for keeping a shirt fitting. Duluth Trading does the best job and would likely work for OP on job sites, but it’s not always up to snuff for the business casual office. I bought a bunch of stretchy, washing machine safe shells that minimized my chest and dressy cardigans and jersey blazers.

        for pants, I have several wash-n-wear Rekucci pants – I think they look better than beta brand and are just as stretchy (plus slimming panel).

    6. ErinB*

      I’m on the other end of the spectrum in terms of body shape, so I’m not much help there, but I love Cole Haan oxfords for full-foot-covering shoes that are both comfortable and professional looking. You can almost always get them at a decent discount either on the Cole Haan site or at Nordstrom/Rue La La/etc.

      They have some “fun” colors if that’s something that you’re into but also solid leather and neutrals.

    7. Haven’t picked a user name yet*

      I like a blazer – they make knit/stretch ones everywhere now. I work at a bank and I feel totally pulled together in hand a striped t-shirt and a blazer. So if you pair a pair of pants/trousers with a non-matching blazer you can wear plain tshirts or other comfortable shirts and look great.

      I am also busty and never button the blazers.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Same – I have a knit three-quarter sleeve blazer that’s on the more casual side but still looks like I made an effort.

        If you find a t-shirt that fits well and wears nicely, buy multiples. Banana Republic Factory has some in crew and V-neck styles, short and long sleeve, and those have worked well for me.

        I used to have serious issues with button-down shirts, especially “fitted” ones, when I was a D-cup. Post-double-mastectomy, it turns out some button-down shirts are just badly constructed, usually the way the sleeves are put in. Lightweight sweaters can be a good go-to.

        For shoes – ankle boots are back for the fall.

    8. CheesePlease*

      I find that jeans / oxfords / cardigan over blouse is a good combo working as a supervisor in engineering. I don’t do polos or button-downs either. Black jeans look a bit nicer too.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        I use that combo a lot too. Or instead of an blouse, I’ll do a shell (either knit or poly and drapey to hide, ahem, things) or a turtleneck, depending on the season

    9. clothes*

      I am not a person who likes to spend a lot of money on clothes but I coughed up some money for some pieces at Universal Standard and love them. My go-to outfit is their Moro Pocket Signature Ponte Pants and and their Tee Rex shirt. The clothes are stretchy and comfy but look good in a semi-professional office environment.

    10. Temperance*

      J. Crew Outlet has some nicer shirts/sweatshirts that aren’t button downs and still look presentable but are pretty sturdy, too. I bought 2 sweatshirts from them with buttons at the neckline that look decent.

    11. Mockingjay*

      Try boatneck cotton shirts/sweaters. Can be worn out or tucked in. Look for slightly heavier fabric; the thin cotton stretch blends tend to ride up. LLBean, LandsEnd, Banana, Ann Taylor/Loft. I’ve found Ralph Lauren boatneck at TJ Maxx.

    12. Nesprin*

      If you find a good blog for lab-friendly work wear, please let me know- I’m in the same boat but a bit more straight figured.

      I can recommend cole haan’s oxfords which I think look better than sneakers.

    13. Alex*

      I think in cases like this, fit and fabric is everything. Well-fitting jeans, particularly in dark colors (and no rips of course, which is infuriating with the current styles where half of all the denim I find has rips!) actually can look very professional. I’m average height and very curvy, and I really like the T shirt like tops that have a little extra pizazz, like a high-low cut, or a longer cut overall that is supposed to be A-line shaped and flowy, etc. I’ve found some nice things for this niche in Marshalls/TJ Maxx, that kind of store.

      For winter/fall, I like a dark jean, tunic length sweater, and low-heeled boots.

    14. Storm in a teacup*

      I am a similar body type to you and have long accepted that shirts and trousers look terrible almost without exception.
      However I have recently found some decent black jeans / smart trousers that look ok.
      Tops I never wear shirts or anything button down but find that shell tops, or thin sweaters work well under a smart cardigan.
      Ultimately my work wardrobe is 98% dresses. Could you look at a smart dress and leggings combo?

    15. Quinalla*

      I’m an engineer and similar situation. I like polos since they only have the 2-3 buttons at the top, not button down disaster if you are busty. They also seem to fit with people’s preconceptions about what engineers should wear. I also have several blouses when I want to dress more feminine (think shirts that go over the head with various fashionable necklines and a floral or geometric pattern), but for real every time I wear one and go into a construction site/mechanical room I always have someone stop me and check that I’m not lost, etc. cause of course no one wears feminine clothing in these spaces ever (all the eye rolls). I keep wearing that stuff though as I want to change attitudes in my little corner.

      For pants, I usually just wear jeans, but also have some khaki-like pants in various colors for a more truly business casual look. I also will add small earrings and necklace (nothing dangly/big as that is dangerous) to dress it up some. For shoes, I have given up on dressy shoes so I just always have a pair of all-black shoes (think what someone would wear in a kitchen or retail) and all-black boots depending on the situation as those still look dressy, but are practical and comfortable. Orthofeet is my recommendation if you are standing on hard surfaces for hours like me when on site.

      I’ve seen some women dress up with a blazer and I have occasionally too, but that can be problematic if busty. I have also seen this one badass construction manager who did wear heels and dresses/skirts on job sites. Not for me, but she pulled it off and no one gave her crap, but it does make climbing a ladder to the roof impossible/indecent, so I wouldn’t do it and I don’t wear heels ever myself anyway! I loved her for it though.

    16. snarkfox*

      I work for a psychologist doing psychological testing for children, which means I’m often playing on the floor with kids, but I still want to look professional. Also, I’m busty, so I feel your pain! I also have broadish shoulders.

      What I’ve found is the typical work shirt that’s made of stiff material just isn’t going to work for me. Occasionally, I’ll find one in a stretchy material that works, but it’s rare. I wouldn’t order one from the internet because it’s definitely something I’d need to try on to see if it pulls across the bust or my back. I typically get shirts made out of stretchy t-shirt material, in solid colors or simple patterns like stripes. I wear them with a cardigan or (rarely) a blazer so that they look more “dressed up.”

      I also have some pants from White House Black Market that have 3-way stretch. They’re great for getting on the floor with kids because they look professional, but they’re stretchy. They’re pricy, but I wear them so frequently that I think it’s worth it. I also wear Oxford shoes or loafers.

      I also find that if I just put in some simple earrings (typically small fake pearl studs) or put on a necklace, I look that much more “dressed up.” I have curly/wavy hair that I don’t feel like dealing with most days, so I’ll do either a ponytail or put it up in a cute/somewhat professional claw clip.

      I saw a few recommendations for Beta brand “dress pant yoga pants,” and I just wanted to say that they didn’t really work for me. I don’t like pants that are wide-leg or loose, so I got the “slim ankle” version. I have muscular legs, so they ended up just looking like skin tight leggings. I kept them to wear on days that I’d typically wear leggings… but they didn’t look professional at all. They looked like leggings….

    17. Cheese Mom*

      Adding a few colored cardigans that you can wear open on top of jeans and tees looks is a nice, quick way to handle this (I always think of this as like a busty lady’s “tee shirt and suitcoat casual” for tech folks.) Rather than button downs, a blouse with a high neck and a pussy bow tends to be my preference as a work top, but your mileage may vary.

    18. WantonSeedStitch*

      Hi Curve! I feel your pain! I’ve got the same kind of figure that you do, but I’ve been fortunate to work in an environment where dresses are not a problem (jersey knit dresses are far and away the easiest thing for me to wear and look professional). A lot of the “made just for busty people” brands I used to love have gone out of business, sadly, but a blog I have looked at (Hourglassy, FWIW) recommended the “Riders by Lee Indigo Women’s Easy Care ¾ Sleeve Woven Shirt” for busty people who want the button-front look without gapping (extra buttons on the inside solve the problem, apparently). If you put that search string in Amazon, it should come up for you. Reviews are promising. I’m getting one for myself in black! If I like it, I’ll probably get red and purple as well.

    19. Chirpy*

      I like longer tunics that hit about hip height, they balance out my chest and visually lengthen my torso. (and definitely knits or pull over styles, not full length buttons, those are the worst. )

    20. Loud Thinker*

      I’m short and busty. A “popover” blouse doesn’t have buttons that go all the way down, and play nice with a fuller bust without gapes–it is the polo of blouses but more polished. Watch pocket placement (if there is a pocket). You want small and high, not low and wide, or it will give you the visual illusion of droopy breasts. I am a fan of a cardigan or jacket that hits me mid-thigh to below the knee. It is a very flattering look on me and looks polished, and somehow makes me look less dumpy. I have some ponte fabric “jeans” from Chico’s that are apparently made of steel–I think this may be year 5 or 6 and they still look new.

    21. Former EA in CA*

      I had a marketing manager sign off on her emails with “forever fluid” or “stay fluid” all throughout the pandemic. And then she started doing it on our company wide announcements and newsletters. It drove me nuts!

    22. Mouse*

      As a +sized woman, I love a plain sweater with a collared button down beneath it. It gives you the formal, professional vibe of a button down without the chest issues. I’m always cold, though, so if you’re running around and keeping warm it may not work as well for you.

    23. Maverick Jo*

      Spanx makes fabulous ponte pants in various cuts and lengths. They are stretchy, comfortable and still professional. A hardier material than other yoga “pants”. I also swear by Chicos button down shirts. The have a version that is wrinkle resistant, stain resistant and not see-thu. Favorite combo.

    24. AcademiaNut*

      I’m also a body type that doesn’t handle button-down or tucked in shirts (curvy, busty and short waisted). I love tunic style tops in a stretchy fabric. Cap, short or elbow sleeves so they don’t get in the way, long enough to cover my stomach and butt and extremely comfortable. Pair with jeans or slacks, and comfortable shoes. Shoe wise, I’m a fan of sturdy running shoes in funky fabrics – comfortable, but they look more like a deliberate fashion choice that the usual runner style.

    25. IT Manager*

      Blazers.

      100% blazers. Get some that hit you at the waist or hips so it doesn’t impede physical activity. Even the more casual ones with rolled up sleeves (again much easier to get work done) will up your game by a million.

      Wear them with normal jeans/t-shirt or switch to pants for important meetings.

      I made myself a uniform of black t-shirts, black pants or jeans, and then 6 different blazers I rotate. Works for any occasion.

      -signed, female IT manager who has to crawl around doing cabling and then go to exec meetings

  6. emailers anonymous*

    Hot take time: What professional email opening/closing makes you irrationally annoyed? Sound off below!

    1. Costa Rica Tica*

      I hate “kind regards” or “warm regards” – no idea why, I think it sounds incredibly rude and fake.

      1. Mostly Managing*

        Yes!
        And “warmest regards” is even worse.

        Really? I, a stranger you are interacting with over the internet, get your *warmest* regards?

        1. JessicaTate*

          Yes!! And, for me, it is in the signature of the dude who is perpetually condescending, rude, and blatantly sexist. So, after an email full of condescension and undermining our work and utter BS, he ends it, “Warmest regards.” AARGGH!!

        2. Yorick*

          I was just about to write something about “warmest regards.” My worst boss ever used that on every single email. My coworker and I started signing off to each other with “coldest regards” or “tepid regards.”

      2. Bunny Girl*

        I have a coworker who has that as part of her signature and she sent a kind of scathing email the other day to someone who was trying to blame her error on us and I have the say that it wrapping up with “warm regards” was slightly hilarious.

        1. smeep248*

          I had a coworker with “what else can I help you with” as their closer (why?????) and sent a rude email to a client outlining how they could not and would not help them with their issue and how they were basically SOL and left her closer in there. It came across so snarky that it’s been 2+ years and I still laugh about it.

      3. Golden*

        In that same vein, I don’t like “Warmly,” …it makes me think of someone peeing in a pool for some reason!

        1. SouthernLadybug*

          Now I need to change my signature – I don’t use this all the time but sometimes. And now I’ll never read it the same way again.

    2. emailers anonymous*

      Something about “cheers” really irritates me. Like thank you for your assistance on my invoice Connor from accounting, but it’s 11am on a Tuesday, let’s take it down a few notches. “VR” (virtual regards) also sounds like a business robot attempting to pass the Turing test.

        1. Svennerson*

          I’d also read VR as very respectfully.

          I use “respectfully” as my sign off right now. I had it heavily encouraged by my civics teacher in high school, who was a Marine. He said to use “very respectfully” or “VR,” but I always found the “very” there overkill. I like it because it is the tone standard I want to hit in professional communications – I don’t care one ounce if you like me or if I like you, I want to give and be treated with respect in this exchange. It also helps that I am still VERY junior in the working world (currently ending week 5 of my first full-time job), and so it feels a little more fitting.

        2. emailers anonymous*

          Interesting! I kept seeing VR so I Googled it, and virtual regards seemed to be the most common answer. But I’m sure some people are using it to mean very respectfully also. Either way, still very stilted.

          1. River Otter*

            That sounds like a recent interpretation and probably not applicable to people who have been in the workforce for many years. Some people spell it out, and I have seen people sign off with “very respectfully.” I have never seen someone sign off with “virtual regards.” That’s only my experience, not a comprehensive study of users, but I think you should change your interpretation of VR.

        3. Pam Adams*

          I’ve seen VR as meaning ‘very respectfully’ and I usually only see it from military/former military folks.,

      1. Just a name*

        Having spent much of my career working for the Navy, I always used V/r or R/ because that’s what the Navy correspondence manual says to use.

        c. Complimentary Closing. The following list of suggested complimentary closings for e-mail communication is not all inclusive: “Sincerely yours” or “With great respect” (Civilians) “Respectfully” (Junior in rank to signer), and “Very respectfully” (Senior in rank to signer). “Respectfully” and “Very respectfully” may be abbreviated in a reply to an initial e-mail (“V/r,” and “R/,”).

      2. Spencer Hastings*

        Yeah, “cheers” sounds fine from UK/Commonwealth English speakers who come by it honestly, but from fellow Americans, it just reminds me of when I was about 15 and my friends and I used British expressions because we thought we would sound more sophisticated. (Spoiler alert: we did not.)

        1. Valancy Snaith*

          It is “very respectfully.” I don’t believe “virtual regards” is a thing anyone would say.

    3. Sister Spider*

      “Please advise” makes my blood boil…usually because it stems from the person emailing me being loud and wrong about what they’re asking about.

        1. Lady_Lessa*

          I’m another one who dislikes “Please advise”. And this was in an email I recieved earlier this week. “advisement. ”

          FYI, I’m a chemist and my correspondent is a regulatory type (thinks like a lawyer)

      1. Rayray*

        Ohhh I hate this too. I especially hate when it’s used for a simple question, not necessarily something I can advise about. For example, “Do you have a stapler we can borrow? Please advise”

      2. londonedit*

        Ugh yes, to me ‘please advise’ means ‘I think you’ve bollocksed this up and I’m going to be smug about it’.

        I also have an irrational hatred of ‘pls’, after I worked with a woman who wasn’t directly my boss, but boss-adjacent, who believed everyone else in the office was her personal assistant and who used to send one-line missives with no opening or closing or proper punctuation, just ‘pls update spreadsheet now’ or whatever. Drove me mad, mostly because the majority of things she was asking me to do had nothing to do with my job.

        1. Mockingjay*

          I have a co-irker who uses ‘please advise.’ I switch between annoyed and amused because he is completely clueless and sucks at his job and needs all the help he can get.

        2. ferrina*

          ngl, I’ve used “Please advise” a few times and it’s almost always in a passive aggressive way (usually “you’ve asked me to do contradictory things, both of which are simultaneously illegal and impossible, using tools that do not exist, seeing as I do not have time to run down to Ollivander’s for a wand, please advise”)

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            Oh yeah I’ve only ever used it if I am at the end of the rope. Which to be fair is probably why I react to other people using it, even if they don’t mean it that way. That’s probably a chicken and egg situation who knows which came first.

          2. JanetM*

            Tangenting off this, I once read an anecdote in which I learned that “I await the Court’s guidance” is apparently Lawyer for “Your Honor, can you help me out here? My client is being completely unreasonable.”

            (The specific case was along the lines of, “All the parties agreed to something, one of the lawyers wrote up the appropriate document and sent it to the parties for approval, and one person pitched a tantrum that his rights were being violated and the Human Rights Commission would be his lawyers henceforth (which they don’t do).”)

      3. Jack Bruce*

        Ha, same! One guy at my previous job would always end his too-formal emails with “Please respond to this email to let me know you received it.” Like dude, I respond to emails when I have something to say and I haven’t ignored your emails all these years. So of course I’ll respond but not just to let you know it came through!

        1. just passing through*

          That actually sounds even more annoying than the supervisor I had once (I was someone else’s assistant, but she was in charge of my hours) who had read receipts on all her emails–it was Outlook, and you had to click a button to send her the read receipt, and if you didn’t she would send you another email to ask if you’d read it. Even if you had DONE THE THING SHE EMAILED YOU ABOUT. She also had every single email set as High Priority, I think automatically. And her emails were that style of “Come to my office TODAY……. I need to talk to you…… Mabel” that makes it impossible to read her tone. She was a lovely person face-to-face and a good administrator, but she had begun her career long before email and (unlike many people of her age!) never really gotten up-to-date on email etiquette.

      4. Policy Wonk*

        To me “please advise” is situational. I’d use it if someone hasn’t responded to a series of asks. But if it’s in the first instance, I agree that it’s irritating.

      5. Green Goose*

        This one makes me laugh a bit because when someone sends me a nonsensical email with a lot of contradicting and/or wrong questions, I’m sooooo tempted to point out the issues and then sign off with “please advise”. Been too wimpy so far but so, so tempted every once in a while.

      6. miss chevious*

        God, I LOATHE please advise, mostly because usually it comes at the end of a long and rambling email with no discernible action items in it.

        Please advise? I advise you to ASK ME A QUESTION.

        1. Me ... Just Me*

          I often use “Please advise” when, well, I need advice on what to do. It seems concise and to the point. I also will do the “Please let me know your thoughts” when I want feedback on something. My go-to signature is always “Thanks”, though.

    4. NoName Poster*

      “Anxiously awaiting your reply.” The absolute worst. It was in the woman’s signature block so it appeared on everything.

      1. emailers anonymous*

        Wow yes that would give me anxiety about how she reacts if you don’t email her back immediately!

      2. migrating coconuts*

        I am so glad I’m not the only one who absolutely hates “best”. Best what? Best regards? Best of luck? Best to get on that? I’m the best? Although I’d be curious if there is any closing out there that is universally liked. I think it depends on who you are emailing.

        1. Lex*

          Hahaha I get the hatred of “best” even though always use it when “thanks” doesn’t seem appropriate. I like the ambiguity! Best regards? All my best wishes? You best be quiet because you’re a total idiot? It’s a nice all-weather phrase.

        2. saf*

          A former DC Councilmember (anyone else remember Jim Graham) always signed his email “Bests.” God, I hated that.

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t care, as long as it might be sincere. If I hear some nice-sounding sign-off from someone who’s a douchebag, that’s what irritates me.

      1. Dinwar*

        That’s my take. I’ve got enough problems that someone’s sign-off on an email doesn’t register as significant enough to warrant an emotional response. To be honest, I generally don’t even read them.

        1. emailers anonymous*

          Well sure, I acknowledge this is a low-stakes question. As long as what someone’s greeting isn’t wildly inappropriate, and nothing said here so far has been IMO, there’s no need to ever address it. But it’s a human impulse to get irrationally annoyed at things sometimes (even if email greetings isn’t it for you), and I personally think it’s fascinating to see other peoples’ takes on this.

          1. Dinwar*

            I never said that anyone else should have a similar take to mine. I have long acknowledged that my view of emotions is non-standard. I was just giving my take on the subject, and venting a little.

    6. Time for cocoa*

      I hate BR instead of “best regards”.

      First, you don’t actually mean it, if you’re in such a rush that you need to truncate nine letters. Second, how can you be in a rush at all, when this is part of your automated signature and you only needed to type it once? Third, I don’t feel regard-ed by an abbreviation that sounds like a reaction to the cold.

      1. English Rose*

        Agreed, came here to say that. Or KR instead of kind regards. I use kind regards as standard and the best of several evils. Or cheers if it’s someone I know well – but I am British and that’s not so bad here. I think.

    7. Rayray*

      The only one that gets under my skin is “Best, Jane Doe”

      There’s no rational reason why I hate it, I just do.

      In the industry I work in, we have a lot of boomer age women who tend to use cutesy colorful fonts and have quotes, jokes, pictures,clip art etc. I don’t mind it, but it is funny because my own manager got mad at us one time about being unprofessional in our emails because we address it with “Hello” instead of Good Morning/Afternoon. Truly, she was just grasping at straws to get after us for something.

      1. Jack Bruce*

        Yes, the hanging best! Also irritates me, it seems incomplete and makes me think of people who sign their names to their facebook posts and blog entries.

    8. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I don’t know why but “best”. I know it’s just a default I know nobody means anything by it but it makes me full body cringe.

      1. Fiona*

        “Best” is so annoying. It’s like, “I’m too important and busy to even finish this phrase.” Best WHAT?

        1. Hlao-roo*

          I think it’s short for “best regards” or “best wishes,” but reading this thread I’m now amusing myself by imagining it’s short for “I’m the best” and functioning more as a display of dominance than a sign-off.

    9. Vermillion*

      I work with someone who signs everything “very truly yours” and it’s so strange. It’s weirdly intimate.

        1. The New Wanderer*

          In college I received several “anonymous admirer” emails that were signed “Yours Truly.” It was mildly creepy then*, and I would find it super off-putting in a professional context.

          * only mildly because I was pretty sure I knew who it was, made it very clear that the emails were not welcome, and they stopped.

    10. Marketing Unicorn Ninja*

      I had a reporter who started every email to me with ‘Hey.’

      No use of my name, no use of any meaningful salutation.

      Just, ‘Hey, Can I talk to someone about llama grooming trends?’

      He was always the last reporter to get his calls returned and his requests processed.

      1. Doris Thatcher*

        This has fast become a personal pet peeve of mine at work. I particularly hate it when managers do it. For some reason I find it either overly informal, or slightly aggressive.

    11. Bunny Girl*

      I hate weird inspirational quotes as part of a signature block for no reason. Like “Believe in the impossible” or “In the rain look for rainbows” with a different color for every letter. I’m working not attending an MLM conference.

      1. smeep248*

        I had a client with a quote in her signature block but she was quoting herself. I don’t even have words for how this made me feel.

        1. VLookupsAreMyLife*

          Oh my goodness, this made me cackle out loud! It reminds me of Michael Scott’s self-attributed Wayne Gretsky quote on The Office (US).

          1. smeep248*

            it was so arrogant and poorly executed and just…. tacky? I just looked on with horror every time I came across it

    12. Charlotte Lucas*

      I work with someone who starts emails with “Dear (name)”. For some reason, I find it weird & annoying. Emails aren’t letters, & we have a pretty informal workplace. It just seems to be deaf.

      She’s otherwise lovely, so I try not to let it get to me.

    13. no thank you*

      “Thanks in advance,” particularly when it comes from peers or people outside my chain of reporting who are asking for something that I am not in fact going to do for [business reasons].

    14. Cookies for Breakfast*

      Opening emails with just the person’s first name. As in, for example:

      “Cookies,

      Please print out the State Of Llama Grooming report by the end of today.

      Best,

      Colleague”

      The owner at my first job used to email every single question, comment or request instead of talking to people, and even the most mundane ones were formatted like that. It felt like, and most definitely was, barking orders down the chain. The level of dysfunction at that workplace was such that we all mirrored the owner’s written communication style in almost every way, knowing that if he was in a bad mood he would have a go at people for doing anything differently (I once got told off for using bullet points instead of a numbered list in a Word doc). So even though most employees spoke to each other in informal, friendly terms, and we were a fairly close-knit team, we all started internal emails that way.

      Everywhere else I’ve worked, everyone opens emails more informally (“Hi Cookies, please print out the report” or even just “Hi, please print out the report”), or leaves out the name & salutation altogether (“Please print out the report, thanks!”). That’s way better for me. I’ve only seen my old boss’s opening again in a client-facing job, from the minority of day-to-day contacts that acted as if on a constant power trip. Coincidence? I think not.

      1. Svennerson*

        Interesting. I was taught that only including the name was a show of deference, especially up the chain, sort of a “I understand your time is important, so I’m doing my best to minimize how many words you have to glaze over to get to the point.”

        1. Cookies for Breakfast*

          Interesting, I’d never heard that before! I have to say, as an immigrant in the country I work in, I never had any kind of “formal” training about professional norms in this culture, and developed my style of work communications by mirroring what colleagues and managers did. Nearly everywhere I’ve worked, the more informal style has been common, even up the chain or with prestigious clients.

      2. Velociraptor Attack*

        Cookies for Breakfast,

        I worked somewhere once and a few days in I got a gentle correction that every email should begin with the person’s name and end with a signoff. Things didn’t last long.

        Cheers,
        Velociraptor Attack

        1. Cookies for Breakfast*

          This made me both laugh, and wonder whether we’ve worked for the same people (of course, most probably not). “Gentle correction” suggests precisely the level of passive-aggression my old boss would have put into it, which I freely laugh about now, especially knowing it’s mentioned in plenty of Glassdoor reviews that didn’t come from me.

      3. Me ... Just Me*

        Nearly all of my emails begin with the person’s name – like 99%. Occasionally, if I am responding to something incredibly informally, I’ll leave off with the name and go directly to the point — but that seems so rude to me that I rarely do it. And I have never done the “Hi” or “Good morning”. It’s just not who I am. It never has occurred to me to do something like that. Humans are so interesting!

        1. Cookies For Breakfast*

          Ha, I absolutely don’t mind the going straight to the point! I’m thinking of an email thread between people who work closely together: if we know each other and speak often, adding name and salutation feels redundant after the first couple of emails. Getting straight to the point feels like the natural way of continuing the conversation rather than seeming rude. The first name thing…is probably nothing to most people as you say, and an irrational pet hate for me because I’ve always seen it used by people wielding power.

    15. Svennerson*

      I’m probably on an island on this, but I’ve always hated “sincerely.” It feels like “sincere” should be so totally the default setting for communications, that stating it at the end makes the whole thing feel less sincere. Adding on to that is the fact that it’s THE standard closing – what’s so sincere about using the least personal, most boring common closing out there?

      1. Maggie*

        I use it because people always seem annoyed and offended at every other possible one! So I’m just like “I’ll try to use the least controversial one” which apparently still bothers some people LOL!

    16. Everything Bagel*

      This thread has been interesting. What do people typically use to sign off? If I am responding to someone and I was helping them or providing them information they requested, “Thank you,” doesn’t really seem appropriate. In those instances I have used “Regards”. Most of you seem to hate that! So what do you use instead?

      1. londonedit*

        If it’s an informal email to a colleague, probably ‘Thanks!’. Or something like ‘Have a great weekend!’ or ‘Speak tomorrow’. Otherwise usually ‘Many thanks’ if I’ve asked the person to do something, or ‘Best wishes’ if I haven’t.

      2. OtterB*

        I use “Thanks” most of the time. When that’s not appropriate, I also use “Regards.” I switched to that from I’ve-forg0tten-what, probably “Sincerely,” a few years ago.

      3. LilPinkSock*

        Formal: sincerely
        Less formal or making a request: Thanks (sometimes with ! or just ,)
        Quick response: First name

        I’m sure everyone here hates me now for being cold and fake.

    17. Meep*

      Apparently “Best” is passive aggressive. I have been using it this whole time because I go dear-in-headlights when thinking of a send-off. “Thanks in advance!” drives me bonkers, but I will also use it.

      1. feline outerwear catalog*

        To me,”Best”‘used to signal “I couldn’t be bothered to change the Outlook default, which is why it annoyed me.

      2. Lex*

        As a habitual “best” user, it’s very common in academia.

        *literal dawning realization* wait…. maybe they’re all using it BECAUSE it’s passive aggressive? Oh no….

      3. WantonSeedStitch*

        I actually adopted “best” (not on every email, but on some) because when others used it, I liked it. It didn’t seem overly phony-friendly or overly formal, it didn’t imply a difference in status between the sender and the recipient, and it was short.
        I also use “take care” with some chattier emails because it’s how I say goodbye on the phone when talking to someone after a business interaction. So if the email is written more like how I talk on the phone, I sign off with that.
        Most of the time, though, I don’t sign off at all, really, though I’ll include as my last line either “thanks!” or “let me know if you need anything else,” depending on which is relevant.

      1. tessa*

        …especially in signatures where people are the exact opposite of the quote.

        I once had a boss who was a total raging bee-ATCH, yet her email signature was all (paraphrase) “Good leaders support their people and let them fly” blather. Could never figure out her disconnect with herself.

    18. Isben Takes Tea*

      “Thx” — for some reason this grinds my molars. “Thanks” or “Thanks.” or “Thanks!” but not “Thx”

      I think it signals insincerity to me — you’re thankful, but not enough to be bothered to write out an entire three additional letters.

      1. Melanie Cavill*

        I once had to deal with someone who punctuated all their professional emails as:

        ty

        It took me forever to figure out a) what they meant; and b) that their work phone hadn’t actually been stolen or hacked by someone named Ty.

    19. Snarky McSnarkerson*

      How do you all feel about “All the best”? Rubs me the wrong way, but it may be the person using it!

    20. Green Goose*

      HAHA, great question.

      For me, I work in a nonprofit where we work with vulnerable people so the very nature of our job is urgent and high stakes. I will sometimes have a coworker send me a really guilt-trippy, long, and last minute request that is a huge inconvenience on my part usually do to poor planning on their part and then they’ll sign off with “I appreciate you!” and it enrages me.

      1. Ampersand*

        I’ve gotten “I appreciate you” a couple times and it’s made me similarly irate. Unless someone is sending me an email telling me how awesome I am (they were not), it seems way too over the top.

        I could do with more Ampersand-is-awesome emails, now that I think of it…

      2. Doris Thatcher*

        omg this. I particularly get a kick out of managers who will send an email to basically order or voluntold someone to do something, and end it with “I really appreciate your cooperation with this” as if the person has any choice whatsoever.

        I had a coworker thank me “for my help” this week for something like this (where I had also literally done the whole thing, not “helped”)

    21. Melanie Cavill*

      This is one I see on the reg:

      Thank you for your time,
      Llamatina

      It sends me because I don’t get it. Is it a ‘enjoy the rest of your day’-style closer meant to end the conversation? Is it not that? If I haven’t given you my time, why are you using it? Is it meant to say that I failed to provide what you needed and therefore gave you time and nothing else? I’m getting annoyed just writing this response!

      1. Lalaith*

        I think it’s just thanking you for the time you took to read it, think about it, possibly respond to it. Because you have given them some amount of time just by reading the email.

    22. Quinalla*

      I hate “Best”, I know lots of people use it and I have no rational reason, it just sounds fake to me, like trying too hard.

    23. LuckyPenny*

      I once emailed back and forth with a mayor of a small town who had in her signature block an inspirational quote…attributed to herself.

    24. Kyrielle*

      “Blessings” / “Have a blessed day”. Unless you are working in a religious setting, neither of these belong in a business email signoff. Let alone, stored in a signature line. And yet….

    25. Girasol*

      My manager used to close with “Does that make sense?” and his name. At first I wondered if he was afraid that I might have a problem comprehending simple instructions or that I might blow up over the very idea of doing what he said and needed to be approached extra gently. After awhile I realized it was just his habitual alternative to “Sincerely Yours” or “Warmest Regards” and didn’t really mean anything. I suppose it’s as good an alternative as any. There are so many things that sound wrong that it’s hard to find something right.

    26. Despachito*

      Hi folks,

      the variety of your do-not-use openings and closings makes me despair. I have considered many of those standard/neutral, only to learn people hate them.

      Is there a wording that does not annoy (most) people? After reading this thread, I am a bit in a loss what should I use to remain professional, polite and not to sound weird or raise someone’s hackles.

      Sincerely?
      Regards?
      Best regards?
      Yours truly?

      Despachito

      1. Nancy*

        Use what you like or what seems to be more common where you work. Many people don’t actually care what you use.

      2. WheresMyPen*

        If it’s not a new relationship or very formal, I’d always go with kind regards, regards or just thanks.

      3. peasblossom*

        I wouldn’t take the responses here as typical or signifying most people’s opinions. Just pick something neutral and relatively common. (In fact some of these commenters have flagged as complaints they know to be irrational! I would go so far as to say that most people don’t really register openings or closings as long as they are standard.)

    27. Water Everywhere*

      I irrationally loathe “Hey there” and think it has no place in a business email. If you’re contacting me for business reasons then you already know and should use my name!

    28. beep beep*

      A new coworker of mine signs his emails “Very respectfully,” and it doesn’t drive me bonkers but it makes me want to know where it came from, because… I hope so??

    29. Ness*

      It irritates me when people sign their emails with their initials instead of their name. Especially if it’s like “JLT” instead of “Jim.” You didn’t even save any letters! This is admittedly irrational.

      1. Nightengale*

        I am a doctor in a setting where people call the doctors Dr Lastname and everyone else Firstname. And I hate this. Since I don’t want to sign my e-mails Dr Lastname but it would be out of place to use Firstname, I’ve defaulted to initials.

    30. vidwizard*

      “Keep up the awesome”
      just this one guy who used it, never seen it anywhere else, but it’s ludicrous.

    31. inkheart*

      My CEO used to sign off with “Now get back to work!”

      Um, I WAS working, until your email interrupted me. Gah!

    32. allathian*

      I don’t really care what the closing is, as long as you actually bother to write it out. Regards is fine, Rgds, VR, Best, etc. (or in my case, their Finnish and Swedish equivalents) just set my teeth on edge.

      I also think that including the closing in the signature block is lazy, it should be in the body of the email. If you’re writing to complain about something I’ve supposedly done, a Kind regards in the signature block is just going to make me feel worse. Tailor your closing to the message, please.

    33. cityMouse*

      “Stay safe.” Makes my eye twitch every. single. time.

      What if I don’t WANT to stay safe?! Why are you telling me what to do?

      …having read this thread, and realizing how much people hate “best,” which is one of my sign-offs, as is “cheers,” I’m going to stick with either “sincerely,” or “respectfully” from now on. I think “sincerely” is the most neutral.

  7. Hmmm*

    I’ve been thinking a lot about “self care” post the other day.

    I loved Alison’s suggestion of taking real time off. What do you do if you can’t take real time off – ie a week off? I feel burnt out / overwhelmed with no end in site. Ive been fortunate to take some time off (some great vacations), but every weekend, every 3 day holiday, every week off feels like a ticking clock of how much “free” time I have left. I find I can’t relax….at all.

    I’ve done all I can to give myself a break (hiring help); I have a wonderful family and friends support; I even work for a company that champions for mental health days. My company has boundaries and doesn’t reach out on your personal time.

    I admit I have a chaotic personal life due to nothing negative but things that are out of my control. How do you self care when it’s hard switching gears to vacation mode? I’d love to hear of others experiences.

    1. Sister Spider*

      I feel this – I work full time, have a young child, pets, and a house under construction so I have very little down time that involves actual relaxation. I took a full week off and was completely disconnected from work but spent the time catching up on personal life stuff and housework that there just isn’t time for. I wish I had better advice other than “get comfortable with letting stuff fall by the wayside sometimes” but if it makes you feel better, you’re not alone. My life is wonderful but every minute I’m focused on something, something else isn’t getting done and that’s just the way it has to be.

      1. This Old House*

        Yeah, I was just thinking about this last night. I can’t take more time off work because I’ve taken SO MUCH time lately – but it’s all been sick kids, those weeks at the end of the summer where there are no camps, catching things from my sick kids, doctors’ appointments (self care, but not kind that makes you feel like you’ve had a break!). None of it was me time, none of it involved getting to do things that I like to do, none of it was rejuvenating.

        Up next – all the superintendents’ conferences, the half days for parent teacher conferences, the fall holidays, the kids’ flu shots, the inevitable viruses, etc. and then it’s been months and I haven’t spent two full weeks at work in a row but I also still haven’t had a break.

      2. WantonSeedStitch*

        I feel this so hard. My house isn’t under construction, but still, mostly the same. Toddler, pets, housework that piles up and garden work that…well, let’s just say the crop of weeds is AMAZING this year because it hasn’t been a priority. That’s one of those things I’ve let fall by the wayside. I have felt guilty crashing on the couch and watching TV in the evenings with my husband after dinner when our son’s in bed because that’s time I COULD be, I don’t know, cleaning the bathroom or something. Dusting. But after a day of working at home while my husband cares for a noisy toddler downstairs–and I still do some child care before and after work and on my lunch break–I’m just not up for it. I’ve decided that the hell with it, that time is MY time. I’ve recently picked up my knitting again after neglecting it for ages, and do that while sitting on the couch watching TV with my husband. It makes that time a little less vegetative (and let’s be honest, sometimes we need to vegetate a bit), but gives me the warm fuzzies from doing something I love. And from that warm fuzzy yarn.

    2. Spearmint*

      Something that might help is to have a regular, recurring event that is pleasant and relaxing for you that you do every single week, is you have at least one thing you can look forward to that isn’t unpredictable and gets you away from things. Ideally it is something social as well, though it doesn’t have to be.

      A friend and I have a weekly call where we catch-up and play some online games together. Originally we did this just to stay in touch, but now he’s working full time and doing laser time grad school and her says knowing he has that time every week to look forward to really helps.

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      I think in general you may have to work at and practice setting boundaries with work. One tip I had from a therapist once was to set a visual marker on my commute, and picture chucking all my work thoughts and issues out the window when I passed that marker, and then leave them there until the next day when I passed it on my way in. It gets easier with time to say okay I’m home I’m not thinking about XYZ until 8am tomorrow, I’m not checking my emails till then either. So vacation then is just an extended leaving it all at the marker for me. Relaxation takes practice, there’s a lot of great beginner meditation stuff out there, that might be one avenue for trying to change your mindset from counting down hours/days till back at work into being more present in the moment and just enjoying yourself.

    4. SameSame*

      I try to get at least some time where I can feel “disconnected” and let time pass without marking it. For me, sitting in nature with my phone tucked away (or in the house); taking my watch off and making art; listening to a long piece of classical music with my eyes closed… as examples. It’s surprising to me every time how refreshing even 20 minutes can feel when I’m not “on”.

    5. Hlao-roo*

      I think Not a Girl Boss’s comment on the self-care post might help in your situation (I’ll link in a reply to this comment). Make a list of the top three things you miss in your personal life, and then look at how you can reorganize/re-prioritize to carve out time for those three things in your day/week/month. That way, your goal is to [go to the gym/read a book/go on a date night with your partner] instead of just a nebulous idea of “relax during any snatches of ‘free’ time I can find.”

    6. Isben Takes Tea*

      What works best for me is to try to take at least one Wednesday a month off and play “hooky” — I am not allowed to stay home, I have to go have an adventure somewhere I rarely go, even if it’s just “drive along a new highway you’ve never been on before and only heard of in traffic reports,” and stop at at least one bakery or ice cream shop. The goal is to totally disengage from normalcy by myself, even if it’s just for a few hours.

      Wednesdays work well because everywhere else is open, it feels excitingly scandalous to not be working, and I’m much less likely to just sleep in or get caught up in “home chores” like I would if I took a Friday or Monday off and just “extended the weekend.”

    7. OtterB*

      Some years ago, I took a several-month leave of absence from work. I was feeling overwhelmed. My husband was traveling a lot for work, I had two preschool-aged kids, one of whom had special needs and a bunch of therapies every week, even flexible schedules didn’t help enough. But I ended up telling my coworkers when I went back to work that I had discovered that the stressful thing was being Mom and since I couldn’t take a leave from that, I might as well come back to the office.

      Even longer ago than that, my husband and I took a “babymoon” when I was expecting our first, at a low-key Caribbean resort. It was wonderful, but it took me several days to stop thinking “How much per day is this costing me? Am I having x$ of fun?” So it would not have been relaxing as a long weekend, but was as a week-long trip.

      I could use a break that doesn’t involve travel to a family event, but I don’t know how to make one happen.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      What have you done for the physical damage you might be acquiring because of stress?

      The sentence where you can’t relax caught my eye. This could mean there is a physical component involved here.

      How’s your hydration levels? Usually with stress/chaos the first thing that goes out the door is water intake. Yet dehydration damage is huge and wide spread. There’s no part of the body that does not feel the lack of water. Can’t remember to drink it? That makes you a human being. I measure mine out in the morning so I can stay on track all day.

      How’s your nutritional levels? Fresh fruits and veggies are a simple way to get more nutrients into the body. A fortified body means a fortified mind. We would never attempt to drive a car with no fuel, but when it comes to our bodies we never give fuel a second thought.

      How many hours of sleep do you get per night? It’s amazing how much sharper the mind is if we have rest. What could be a source of stress never materializes because with enough rest we have enough mental clarity to quickly resolve some matters.

      Last. Start removing small yet fixable sources of stress. Ex. 1 Some how little bits of information can get lost on me. I make it a point to put info that I know I will need in a place where I can easily find it. For example, a phone number for a person might go in the inside of a file for that person as opposed to being on a scrap piece of paper that might get lost.

      Ex 2. I am supposed to call Bob for certain info. Bob doesn’t answer. He doesn’t call back. I end up chasing my tail. So I find some one who is Not Bob that I can ask the same questions of.

      The idea here is to decide that we don’t have to let ourselves be whipped around by other people’s chaos. We know what we need and we can aim to control how we handle what we need.

      At some point you may need to do a reality check by asking yourself what is under your control and what is not under you control. Then ask yourself how much of this is enough. There is a mindset that creeps in if we believe that there is NO end in sight. And this mindset can leave us broken and defeated in some instances.

    9. Quinalla*

      It’s not the same as a real vacation, but building in regular breaks, even if they are 5 minutes, but better if you can get 30m-1hr at times, to do something or be somewhere restful. I like to eat my lunch outside on our screened porch or go for a walk outside. For short breaks, taking 5 -10 minutes to drink a cup of tea while looking out a window or reading a bit of a book or article. If you like to draw, sew, etc. do that! I also will take breaks to play computer games, relaxing ones.

      Or if you are really slammed, just taking 1-2 minutes to do some deep breathing can help reset a bit.

      I also find regular exercise (walking, indoor bike, whatever) helps keep my stress level reasonable. I don’t do it to lose weight, but it helps with stress so much which is one of the big reasons exercise is so good for your health.

    10. Silence*

      You mentioned doing what you can to streamline the work side. Have you done the same on the home side? Any activity or friends that are habit / obligation not a current want to? Anything you can outsource (cleaners, gardeners or a meal service)?

  8. Job searching when burned out*

    How do you job search when you’re burned out and desperate without getting even more burned out?

    I’m a librarian, and I need to change fields because the way public libraries are staffed and structured will basically always lead to burn out. I’ve worked for four major library systems and the things that stress me out are constant between them all, and all the librarians I’ve seen nationwide on social media have the exact same problems I have. My current library has been understaffed (at least two empty positions, usually more) for over a year and upper management seems to be in no hurry to post the openings and get us help, so I’m in a pretty deep stress and burnout hole right now.

    I’ve been applying for basic clerical jobs outside the library sphere since March. Ive edited my resume so many times and had non-library people look it over to make sure my skills translate. I’ve had meetings with the career counselors at my local university. I’ve had a couple of phone interviews and some encouraging conversations with staffing agencies, but no offers yet. And with every week that goes by I get more and more desperate to leave this job. I can’t afford to just quit with nothing lined up, but my current position is increasingly unsustainable and I don’t know if there’s anything I can do.

    Is there anything you all can think of that I haven’t tried yet? I have to get out of here soon or I’m going to lose what’s left of my mind.

    1. Jack Bruce*

      Fellow library person here- Are you applying for other job types besides basic clerical jobs? Perhaps they think you’re overqualified and you should look for something one level up from those. A lot of librarians and staff go into knowledge management, project management, and jobs that need people who can organize and communicate with others, which includes many more positions besides clerical or admin/office work.

      1. Job searching when burned out*

        Those kinds of jobs are part of my long term plan, but a lot of them would require more re-training than I have the mental bandwidth for at the moment. The level of burnout where I’m currently hanging out is one where I really want a few months to a year in a “sit at a desk and do rote tasks without talking to very many people or having to solve anybody else’s problems” kind of job before I get back into something more people-based.

    2. Gracely*

      Have you got any contacts/networks you can pull from to find places that are hiring? Any chance your local university is hiring? There are a lot of higher ed positions that librarians are a great fit for. You could also probably get at least temp work substitute teaching if that’s something you think you could handle. Maybe look into media specialist positions at schools? And maybe try for things that are a step up from basic clerical work–it’s possible hirers think you’re overqualified for those roles.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        This! I work in higher ed fundraising, doing research on current and prospective donors. Lots of places are hiring in that field right now, and it seems like a rather large number of folks with MLSs find their way into it and excel at it.

      2. Esmeralda*

        And higher ed is desperate right now from professionals leaving — so that’s good for finding open positions, but carries some potential problems. I’d say if you look at higher ed positions, ask a lot of questions about how well staffed up they are, what the turnover is, really specific info about work/life separation. Are they allowing flexible schedules? hybrid? etc

        Also, hiring in higher ed can take for-fuckin-ever.

      3. Polly Hedron*

        Not “temp work substitute teaching”, because this poster wants to “sit at a desk and do rote tasks without talking to very many people or having to solve anybody else’s problems”.
        I suggest temp clerical work and then a job search from there.

    3. A Girl Named Fred*

      I don’t have the answer, (I’ll be eagerly watching replies to your post), I just wanted to comment and say you aren’t alone. I’ve been trying to leave my current role for months and have gotten to final round interviews three times with no offers yet. No bad feedback about me, just other candidates fitting better. I’m at my wits’ end just trying to make it through the work days, let alone applying and keeping any semblance of other stuff going on, so I feel for you and I hope that knowing you aren’t alone in this struggle is some comfort. We’ll get there someday.

      1. Job searching when burned out*

        Thanks. It does help to know I’m not alone. I’ve been seeing so many posts online about how easy it is to get a new job right now and feeling like there must be something wrong with me that I’ve had almost no traction at all in six months.

    4. Green Goose*

      Here is what a friend of mine did in a similar situation. She was being so overworked at her job that she basically did not have any downtime and was totally burnt out and it was making her depressed so she couldn’t muster the energy to start looking for another job.
      She had a mentor, a former boss, who offered her a more entry level position with the specific intent of giving her an easy job so that she could still receive a paycheck but also recover from her current burnout and then have the time and space to look for her next career position. She’s planning on staying at her easier job for 1-2 years, and she’s about six months in now and feels so much lighter. She just needed some work-life balance and was not getting it at her old employment.

    5. Mid*

      Can you work with a temp agency? That would give you income while you job search, but depending on your local market, it might be too much of a pay cut.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      In NYS we have different types of libraries. I don’t know what other states do. They all look the same to the patron but because of the type there are variations in how they are run. Some are better than others. I am not sure if you even care at this point so disregard me if that is the case.

    7. Baeolophus bicolor*

      To be a librarian, you have to have a masters in library science, right? If so, have you tried looking for technical writing jobs? My current tech writing boss has a masters in library science. Evidently a lot of stuff about organizing information translates really well to topic based technical writing. If you can find a short online course introducing you to DITA, you might do quite well in tech writing – quiet, a lot of it is fairly rote/low in thought requirement, doesn’t have you dealing with the public, etc.

  9. Medical exam for a job*

    I need a sanity check to know if my anger is out of line.

    My husband was given a form to obtain a medical physical for his new job. It was standard stuff, like immunization history and a checklist for any major medical conditions. He took an appointment with whoever was free at our PCP practice, in the interest of getting it done quickly, so he wasn’t familiar with the doctor.

    The doctor combed through his medical file in front of him, checked the form boxes acknowledging that he had no issues that would affect employment, then hand-wrote in the notes section that he was an “addict in recovery”. (For context, my husband is 17 years sober from alcohol, with no relapses.)

    When my husband protested that she had done this, she grew cold and said that addiction would follow him for the rest of his life and he had no shot of getting it wiped from his file, so he had better get used to it. He said that there was no reason to volunteer that information since she had filled out the form properly without it, and she said that she was legally bound to provide all the info she had access to, and she wasn’t willing to get in legal trouble for him. Yet, she wrote absolutely nothing about legitimately relevant issues, like old injuries that affect his mobility during severe weather.

    I think she’s a vengeful b*tch with an axe to grind, and I’m ready to go full Valkyrie. He’s shaken and uncertain about what to do from here. (Note that this is an office job, having literally nothing to do with entertainment or alcohol, so he needs no accommodations of any kind.)

    Am I totally off base to be furious? I don’t know a lot about how medical information intersects with employment, but this doesn’t pass the sniff test for me.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      I would be upset too. Can you get a clean copy of the form and see a new doctor? Also obviously never go back to that one. Addiction carries a lot of stigma with it, I would not want the new job knowing about it.

    2. lobsterbot*

      Not off base at all. Check with the relevant licensing board to see how to make a complaint. And complain to his regular doctor as well, letting them know this may make you leave the practice. And congrats to your husband for being sober so long!

    3. Eldritch Office Worker*

      If it wasn’t on the checklist they were looking for, it’s absolutely not her duty to report it – in fact she should not, without his consent, that’s HIPPA territory – and her response makes it sound like she absolutely has an axe to grind. I’d file a complaint and ask to see another doctor.

    4. DataGirl*

      Definitely go full Valkyrie. There was no need to add that to the paperwork as it has no bearing on his performance for a job and she definitely does not have a legal responsibility to include that in the paperwork. I’d recommend making a complaint with the practice manager, any hospitals that doctor is associated with, and your State licensing board. Also, don’t have husband turn in that paperwork! He should make a new appointment or go to Urgent Care and have a different doctor do the paperwork.

    5. Emby*

      full on rage monster sitting right here reading this. that is absurd. and not actually legal, i think (or maybe i wish)

    6. EMP*

      “vengeful b!tch with an axe to grind” sounds very personal given she presumably had never met your husband before! I think you do need to take a step back from that specifically.

      But I agree about starting over with a new form – maybe see if you can get it filled out by a primary care doc at one of those “urgent care” centers who won’t have your husband’s full history and can keep the form to the questions asked.

      1. to varying degrees*

        Totally agree. Additionally, this is something HE needs to do. He’s a grown up, let him make the call.

      2. Medical exam for a job*

        Not saying that she had met him before. Saying that I suspect she has personal baggage in regards to addiction.

        1. Meep*

          Yeah, but that is you projecting your personal baggage in regard to addiction onto her.

          I am not saying I agree with it, but addiction does follow you. Even nearly two decades later, the chances of your husband getting an organ transplant if he needs one is slim, for example, because he cannot be put on the national transplant list due to his addiction. It sucks, has no bearing here, and her professionalism is certainly up for debate, but she wasn’t wrong.

          1. Medical exam for a job*

            Not relevant to the issue at hand, and preachy as well. I think you should step away from this thread.

          2. Mid*

            Except he’s not looking for an organ transplant, he’s getting a medical form for an office job. So it’s inappropriate to include that information in this context.

          3. Rong*

            I believe you are wrong about the transplant list. 17 years shows a clear path of being able to adhere to restrictions and the things that come with transplants.

          4. Girasol*

            Alcoholism is forever, true, but no one would know that better than a guy who’s managed to stay sober for 17 years. Seems like he’s proven so well able to manage it that there wouldn’t be much call for his past to raked up now, except maybe by his personal physician. 17 years…wow!

          5. Jay*

            Nope. For a liver transplant, he’d need to be sober for six months (MD with years of experience in palliative care and addiction).

            1. allathian*

              If Larry Hagman could get a liver transplant after years of heavy drinking, which undoubtedly caused or at least significantly contributed to his cirrhosis, the same thing would no doubt apply to the OP’s spouse if it became necessary.

              Complain to the licensing board and to the practice, the doctor’s behavior was inexcusable.

          6. Books and Cooks*

            “Even nearly two decades later, the chances of your husband getting an organ transplant if he needs one is slim, for example, because he cannot be put on the national transplant list due to his addiction.”

            This is absolutely, positively, 100% incorrect.

            Being put on a transplant list requires six months–six MONTHS–of sobriety.

            The man in question here has been sober for seventeen years. There is no question that he would qualify to be put on a transplant list if it became necessary (which I certainly hope it never does).

            The doctor was definitely wrong to put that on his form, and should be reported for it.

      3. Banana*

        Seconding the using urgent care to get it filled out. I did that once when I forgot about the deadline and ran out of other options. It worked fine.

      4. Librarian of SHIELD*

        I’ve lost a loved one to addiction. At the time of his passing, I discovered that there is a relatively large and vocal subset of people who do, in fact, have an axe to grind with any person who struggles with addiction, whether they know the person or not. OP’s description of this doctor lines up pretty well with the people who told me my loved one deserved to die because he was irresponsible enough to become an addict.

        OP, everybody else in the replies is right on the money. Don’t use the form, tell the office at the medical practice that you and your husband do not want to see this provider again at future appointments, and file a complaint with your state’s medical licensing board.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I agree. This is a doc with some personal luggage she is carrying with her. I tend to think this because of how she delivered her message to your husband. There are many, many nicer ways of saying the same thing and yet this is what she found to say.

          Annnddd, I have to believe that the body works to fix itself. With each passing year your husband is healthier than he has been in the past. This woman is a doctor and she can’t see this. I’d find a different doc, because by her rules, there’s no point to quitting any addiction, once labeled always labeled.

    7. Anastatia Beaverhousen*

      As a therapist substance abuse and treatment has a special area of HIPPA coverage and there are special rules for disclosure under mental health laws. I would complain to the company that employees the doctor as well as the licensing board.

      1. Lady Ann*

        It’s actually not HIPPA at all, it’s a separate law called 42 CFR Part 2, and yes, I think this would be a violation of it. You cannot disclose a substance abuse disorder without specific permission from a patient. It literally reads, “The regulations in this part prohibit the disclosure and use of patient records unless certain circumstances exist. If any circumstance exists under which disclosure is permitted, that circumstance acts to remove the prohibition on disclosure but it does not compel disclosure. Thus, the regulations do not require disclosure under any circumstances.”

    8. KoiFeeder*

      This is not okay. Your husband does need to handle making any complaints himself, and I agree with the other commenters that he should go to a different doctor with a clean form and not submit this one.

    9. Bunny Girl*

      I don’t think the doctor handled it well, but there are some governing bodies where literally every single thing you seek medical treatment for can come out and it’s all required to be disclosed. I know DOT is super strict on making sure everything is documented from year to year. The FAA is notoriously strict as well. I’ve read quite a few stories from people trying to obtain their private pilots license who were either denied or put through a wringer for years to try to get their class 3 medical card for seeking mental health treatment years before.

    10. MissGirl*

      I work in healthcare analytics and addiction and certain mental health data actually has greater protections around it to keep folks from being singled out because of it. At the very least, go to another provider. This is ridiculous.

    11. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      Her obligation is to her patient (your husband) not his employer. He is the sole and final arbiter of what health information can be shared about him. Her only choices should have been to confirm the data’s accuracy, or refuse to fill out the form if she felt it would have misrepresented his medical history.

      You need to report the doctor to the HIPAA compliance officer at that practice, your usual doctor, and the medical licensing board.

      And also, have him do another appointment, with someone else, and get the form filled out appropriately.

    12. Princess Xena*

      At the absolute minimum this is cruel and unethical. I have no idea as to the legality of it but I doubt that she’s actually required to report anything like that. Do not turn that form into the business and DO start filing complaints.

    13. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      This would be one of the very very very few situations that HIPAA gets mentioned on this blog that it’d actually be relevant.

    14. learnedthehardway*

      Unfortunately, I think the doctor is correct from an insurance perspective. If it is in the health file, then I think she probably had to list it. My guess is that she did the best she could with the injury issues – since one generally recovers from those. The idea with addiction, though – as I understand it, anyway – is that this is something you are always recovering from.

      1. learnedthehardway*

        Unfortunately, I think the doctor is correct from an insurance perspective. If it is in the health file, then I think she probably had to list it. My guess is that she did the best she could with the injury issues – since one generally recovers from those. The idea with addiction, though – as I understand it, anyway – is that this is something you are always recovering from.

        ETA – apologies – I thought the doctor was filling in the form for insurance coverage – that would be much more stringent on a disclosure of addiction or prior health issues than a medical clearance for work. In the latter situation, it should only be CURRENT health issues that are reported, because only CURRENT issues will affect job performance.

      2. linger*

        Except that the doctor chose to write it in as a note: it was not needed in response to any specific question asked on the form. And even if some field had arguably required it (e.g. “other relevant issues”), the doctor’s phrasing was equally misleading by omission, as the “recovering addict” label serves to negate the “17 years sober” part.

    15. PsychNurse*

      WOW. Get a new form (honestly, use white out and xerox it if you have to). Go to ANY other provider you can find. Even the CVS Minute Clinic will do an employment physical for you.

    16. Choggy*

      My husband was a nurse (now retired) and also in recovery for only a few years before he landed his first nursing gig (he’s well over 20 years clean now). This information has no business on physical for employment form, and your husband should absolutely follow up with his own physician to question it, and get another form filled out without that irrelevant information. Employees do not have to disclose they are in recovery.

  10. Raindrops on Roses, Whiskers on Kittens*

    Has anyone experienced a new Director/VP joining your company, being an absolute nightmare, and then getting fired or leaving? Before they left, did you actually think they would be fired/leave? Were you planning on leaving while they were still there? How long did it end up being?

    My team got a new director a few months ago and within the past month, he’s basically taken over our jobs. His technical experience isn’t at the level he should be at, he frequently makes mistakes and gets patronizing if you try to correct him or give context. He’s funneled all lines of communication we have through him. He shoots down everything I say and goes ahead with his changes without critically thinking, and even told me that I’m not collaborative. My teammate confided me that after he (my teammate) did a task, he saw that our boss went in and reverted the change. It seems like he doesn’t trust us. We’re currently not hitting certain goals this month either.

    Overall I see he’s in over his head, I think my teammates see it, but I don’t know how obvious it is to upper management. Especially if he’s good at selling himself. While I’m looking for other jobs, I also wonder how long is he even going to last in this role? I would hate to find a new job and then he ends up leaving a month later or something.

    Curious who has experienced something similar.

    1. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      My last company had a similar situation with the director of the department I worked in. He was incompetent and not well-liked by anyone except the general manager of the whole facility, who was himself an empty suit who was overly impressed with our incompetent director’s business degree from a predatory for-profit “university”.

      It took over a year and many, many, many issues/complaints before he finally got fired. The damage was done and I left the company. Unsurprisingly, it was a cesspool of dysfunction in plenty of other ways. I suggest you start job searching now before this person does any further damage to you personally or professionally.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Happened to me at old job. Twice. Small startup, CEO who was also responsible for a lot of sales cycle.

      I had enough capital to report to the owners that they were not pulling their weight. And that got them looking closely enough that for one, they outright fired, and for the other, they mutually agreed to move on.

    3. Jack Bruce*

      I had this same experience and lasted about two years (mainly cause pandemic WFH- quite after a few months in the office FT with incompetent new boss). What is it with people like that getting into management jobs?

      Everyone in the place besides upper admin hated working with new boss, but it didn’t matter as they were good at selling themselves to admin. I pointed things out whenever I could spend some social capital (and was told by grandboss “I don’t agree with [x], but I don’t want to step on new boss’s toes…”), but ultimately left cause new boss was too toxic for me to stand. They are still there, taking over more people’s jobs and running a mini dictatorship. So look around and see what is out there. Don’t base your happiness on whether they will leave or not, cause most likely it won’t happen.

    4. Leilah*

      In my experience, the best case scenario is six months but that only happens 1% of the time. It’s usually at least two to five years.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        It took five years and a pretty public disaster before our incompetent senior manager moved internally to a new job with no direct reports. He was the loudest voice in the room and had the ear of multiple execs, which explains his tenure despite a number of HR and union complaints filed over the years. He was almost solely responsible for putting his division into a hole they are still climbing out of three years later.

      2. Raindrops on Roses, Whiskers on Kittens*

        Yeah ugh. At a former company it took 9 months to get a terrible VP fired, and then a bad VP quit after 6 months at another job.

    5. Anon for this*

      We went through something like this a few years ago. They were in over their head, didn’t trust any of us, and tried to change daily operations with zero input from anyone while telling half of us we could be replaced with robots/computers.

      It took literally all but one member of staff going to hr and upper admin (and people from other departments going to upper admin on our behalf) to get the situation addressed at all. Even once admin saw what was happening (4 months in), it took another 6 months for them to manage our director out (and amazingly, they’re still here, just demoted, actually reporting to one of the people they consistently derided).

      What terrifies me is if this had happened two years later after we had some turnover in upper admin, I’m positive they wouldn’t have been reprimanded or managed at all, and we’d all just be suffering. It is a really, really rare thing in our industry for someone in that director-level position to actually be forced to step down for just sucking at their job.

    6. Meep*

      I am prefacing this with I think you don’t necessarily need a degree to be a manager, sales, or marketing, but oh boy did she hold her not having a degree against the rest of us “privileged schmucks”.

      Our former VP of Business Development (aka Sales and Marketing) was a literal nightmare. Verbally abusive, micro-manager, and incompetent. She once yelled at a coworker of mine for sending an email to her boss, because HE asked said coworker to do such.

      Another time she cursed me out for renewing our business license after her boss asked me to. Safe to say, the following year, it didn’t get done until I copied her and her boss asking where it was two months after it expired. She had the nerve to say it was in her office and would bring it down, but the issue date shows she renewed that day loud and clear.

      We never hired anyone unless her boss went out of his way to do it, despite her also being the “Hiring Manager” (and HR, which is horrific). We exclusively hire new graduates so she would try to suck them try with free or cheap labor while dangling the promise of a job over their heads. We had a few contractors her boss was unhappy to see leave because he had told her to offer them a job MONTHS prior and they had to seek employment elsewhere to pay for their student loans. The money? It all went into her salary.

      The most amazing part was that she didn’t know how to resize an image, use excel, or even search her own fudging email. But was very knowledgeable about how to use her iPhone that she was constantly on! She literally couldn’t do anything and made it everyone else’s fault. She refused to give a straight answer and spent 30 minutes throwing some random employee under the bus any time she was asked a yes-or-no question.

      Unfortunately, it took 5.5 years, a lot of damage, me stopping covering for her, and new management for her to finally be fired. I ended up quitting earlier this year after making a sexual harassment complaint (the lovely lady claimed my bronchitis was just me ovulating) and a harassment complaint (the dear thing told one of my other coworkers I was trying to get him fired to create discord because I publicly defended him from her trying to blame him for something he didn’t do – unfortunately, she used to try this sh*t with me when we were on speaking terms so I knew better). That surprisingly lit a fire under her boss’s a$$ (as opposed to all the other people who quit because of her…) and after a two-month investigation, she was removed from management and put on a PIP.

      I don’t know the exact reason she was ultimately and abruptly fired (it happened over a Saturday), but it alluded she was stealing company funds and marking them as ‘commissions’, which wasn’t surprising. Our customers hated her and complained frequently about her. I had long suspected she would make a sale under the table, take the entire revenue from the sale, and never deliver the product with how many times I was told that a sale was made but never actually given direction on how to get our software into the purchaser’s hands. Not to mention, when we searched through her email there were tons of emails from past, current, and potential clients being ignored.

      Never again. Leave before you are too broken to leave.

      1. Raindrops on Roses, Whiskers on Kittens*

        Wow, I’m so sorry you had to deal with that. That company sounds horrid. I hope you are in a better place now.

    7. My+Useless+2+Cents*

      Not a direct manager but a department we work closely with. After Incompetent#1 left and everything was cleaned up and working properly, management hired Incompetent#2, same verse same as the first. On 5th iteration. I’d leave now if you have the opportunity.

      1. Raindrops on Roses, Whiskers on Kittens*

        True. The upcoming recession has me worried though about upcoming layoffs.

    8. Star Struck*

      yes. Mine wasn’t hired in, he was hired up. He was toxic and way out of his depth. one of his epic emails was to encourage bhso many good people left because of him before he pissed off enough higher ups to be blacklisted from the org.

    9. onyxzinnia*

      I’m currently experiencing something similar now, my sympathies for you. My nightmare is currently undoing years of customer goodwill by bulldozing into situations without understanding context or nuance.

      Sadly, I think the only answer is leaving. If upper management isn’t seeing it, he could be there for ages before they act.

      1. Raindrops on Roses, Whiskers on Kittens*

        :( I’m sorry you are going through this too. Ugh how do these terrible people get put into upper management positions!

    10. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I had someone like this as my direct manager, and he lasted over two years. Over those two years, I burned out and lost all confidence that I can do my job.

      Towards the end of Manager’s tenure, his manager (my Grandboss) also left. Grandboss was very well-liked and competent, but not given much autonomy by the dysfunctional higher-ups, so that the chaos they brought about was the rule. Long story short: it took months to find a replacement, and it eventually happened right after Manager was let go. The new Grandboss ended up being an even more patronising, even more smooth-talking, even more self-promoting and just as incompetent version of Manager. That’s when I realised that’s the kind of person the higher-up would always value and choose to hire, because it’s the kind of person they are too.

      I left that job. Half of my team left shortly after me, and the other half is looking for jobs. I still have a lot of work on myself to do to rebuild my confidence. My advice to you would be to assume the environment is unlikely to change even if the current problem person leaves, and start looking around.

  11. Melanie Cavill*

    For those of us who spend the majority of their workday at a computer: I’m curious what other people’s work browsers look like! How many tabs do you generally keep open? Do you shut everything down regularly or do you keep everything open forever? Are you a bookmark aficionado? How many hours out of the day do you keep an incognito browser open? etc.! Answer as robustly or as minimally as you wish.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Just a reminder that if your IT department monitors your activity they can still see what you do incognito!

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I have anywhere between 2 and 15 tabs open at a time. I know lots of folks who have 150+ tabs open, and I don’t know how they manage to keep track of all those tabs.

      1. Your Local Password Resetter*

        That’s when you start categorizing them. Also constantly forgetting half of them even exist.

      2. ferrina*

        That’s me! And I keep mine in multiple windows, organized by which project they relate to. Every few days I need to audit them and close the outdated ones.

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      <10 tabs, more than that I move to bookmarks. I do enjoy the save all open tabs as a bookmarks folder function. Don't use private browser/incognito – IT can still see it if they wanted to. I try to save banking, shopping, other personal stuff for my home network.

    4. Web Crawler*

      I’ve got somewhere between 10 and 20 tabs, most of them useless. About once a week, I go through and close the ones that are no longer relevant. I’ve got the important work sites bookmarked, but I rarely look in my bookmarks folder. Having them bookmarked just means that I can start typing the URL and the browser fills in the rest as the first option.

      For bullsht security reasons, I have no incognito option even though I very much need it for my job. I’m a web developer, and I just have to clear my cookies/cache every time I need to test something that requires it. For this reason and others, I’m job searching.

    5. to varying degrees*

      I currently have 3 windows open for Chrome: 1. is for a specific software we use (4 tabs); 2. 3 tabs with work relevant and non work relevant sites; and 3. webpage form generated from another tab. Additionally I have Outlook opened. I also normally have a separate page for streaming a music or news program to listen to. Also I occasionally have an Edge page opened so I can be logged in under another user for an online software.

    6. SameSame*

      I switched to Vivaldi because of the ability to make nested tab groups and switch the tab bar to the side if I want. Works great for organizing the many tabs I usually have open.

    7. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I’m running both Chrome and Firefox, and have anywhere from 15 to 30 tabs open at a time.

      Gmail, calendar, Google docs home screen, multiple docs/spreadsheets, project management tool, github (sometimes multiple tabs of that), automated test tool, several tech reference/architecture sites. And I will probably have at least a couple of StackOverflow tabs or technical documentation tabs.

      I try once a week to close out documents & reference pages I’m not looking at actively.

      I overdid it on bookmarks with my personal machine, and I’m trying to cure myself of that habit at work.

    8. djc*

      I usually have 3-4 browser windows open. I work on software development and one window is dedicated to Jira, which is our requirements system. I often have multiple tabs open for the various requirements I need to work on.

      I also handle trouble tickets for our team. I have another browser window open with the trouble ticket queue. I also use that window to open any applications I need to resolve the tickets.

      Third window is for non-work stuff, like AAM or other blogs I read.

    9. Time for cocoa*

      I get in, get the info I need, and get out. My department uses junky ThinkPads with ongoing fan problems that cause overheating, so I can’t leave programs running in the background.

      1. Jack Bruce*

        Same, even though my laptop is a year old and I have dual monitors. Having too much open is like visual and mental clutter to me. Right now I have a few email drafts open in outlook, teams, and one tab here.

    10. Less Bread More Taxes*

      I just counted, and I currently have 15 tabs open. That seems pretty average for me. Once every couple of weeks, I try to cull the open tabs, but it’s so hard for me! I’m also really bad at shutting down – I always unplug my charger at the end of the day and on weekends, but I never shut down completely unless I have to.

      I never use an incognito browser because I don’t see the point. My employer tracks everything we do with our computers anyway.

    11. Kimmy Schmidt*

      I usually have about 5 tabs open. If I need to open more, I try to do the thing I need with them and then either close or bookmark. I do love me some bookmarks, but I try to keep them organized and cull them relatively regularly. I only ever use incognito mode if I’m testing an error.

      1. Student*

        Same!

        Most of my work doesn’t happen in a browser window. When it does require a browser, it only rarely requires more than 2 windows open at a time, and on those occasions I’ll often pop tabs out to keep multiple things up on my screen at once, instead of jumping between tabs.

        Usually, if I have a browser window open, it’s just to read sites I am interested while I sit in meetings or wait on somebody. I have a job where we can’t use our computers for personal stuff, so I never have things like personal email or streaming services up.

    12. AlabamaAnonymous*

      I typically have 5-8 tabs open at a time. I monitor 3 different email address so that’s 3 tabs plus my calendar and chat for my primary email. Those are my Home tabs in Chrome and open up automatically when I open Chrome. I then have 2 other websites I’m in and out of regularly so I typically have at least one of those open or both of those open. I close out my browser at the end of the day but otherwise keep it up all day. I don’t typically use an incognito browser unless I need to log into the same software twice.
      And I do have a whole slew of bookmarks! Organized into folder and subfolders for sites I use regularly and/or might forget.

    13. Cookies for Breakfast*

      I can’t have more than 5-6 tabs on a laptop screen (maybe a couple more on a large monitor). If I can’t read the start of a tab’s title to remind myself of what it is, there’s no chance I’ll remember it’s there when I need it. So when the number starts to pile up, that’s my cue for starting to close tabs I haven’t used in a while – I probably don’t need them. I’m in awe of anyone who can have 10+ tabs constantly open in one single window and still know what’s what!

      Bookmarks I can see directly below my Chrome browser bar are great, but I try to limit the number of those too, because once I start having too many to fit the space, the ones that get hidden in a separate menu may as well not be there.

      If I need a lot of tabs open at a time, I try to split them by task type between different browser windows. For example, I’ll have one window with my inbox, calendar, project management software, etc., a separate window with all the tabs related to the specific task I’m currently working on, and maybe one for non-work stuff in the background. The maximum browser windows I find myself with on any given day is 3, usually I only have one or two open at a time.

    14. A Poster Has No Name*

      I currently have 14 tabs open on my main browser, which is a little on the light side. I don’t bookmark much, most of the stuff I need is already open in a tab or I just start typing the address and let the history auto-complete take over.

      I shut my computer down about once a week, and have Chrome set up to reopen tabs when it opens. Sometimes I will restart the browser in the vain hope that it will speed up my computer when it bogs down, though that rarely works.

    15. Anima*

      Oi, what a great question! I work IT-related and it’s tabs galore – but I also open any and all tickets I get in their own tab and sort them after priority, so I do have my day planned out via tabs. I just close the one I didn’t get to at the end of the day. But I also need to always be on in the product I work with, and I keep informational tabs open, too. I’d say 10-15 tabs is very normal.
      I bookmark stuff. I love me a good bookmark collection, I also maintain a large one on my private machines. But for work I tried to cut back a bit on bookmarks, because I rarely have the time to get back to any article I wanted to read. I sometimes find the bookmark months later and can’t even remember why I bookmarked this.
      I keep Spotify on in an extra browser window, for not closing it by accident and just having it separately from everything else.
      I do use inkognito sometimes, but rarely – I won’t get in trouble for looking up something not work related on Wikipedia or reading the news, if it’s not too much per day.

      I hope others chime in, such a good question and I’m nosy!

    16. A Penguin!*

      I run Chrome and Edge all day/every day. Edge runs a couple of specific program interfaces I use most/every day; I do all my searching (and AAM reading) in Chrome. Usually 3-4 Edge tabs and similar number of Chrome tabs, but can go up to the low teens. More than that and I can’t keep track and start purging. I close everything down every night, so back to minimum each morning.

    17. BlueWolf*

      Hardly any. I have one browser based program that most of my work is done in that I keep open all the time. I do occasionally have to use other websites, in which case I have them bookmarked because they involve logging in and would time out if I kept them open anyways. I always log out at the end of the day.

    18. Banana*

      I use my phone for most of my personal browsing at work.

      For work stuff, I have a program that generates a lot of new browser tabs as I navigate through it. Depending on what I’m doing, I may be getting a new tab every 10 seconds. I use one browser (Edge) for that program only, so I can torpedo the whole session occasionally without losing anything else. I have anywhere from 3-30 tabs open at a time typically. Most I don’t revisit but i don’t bother to close them as I go.

      I use Chrome for everything else. I have 1-3 Chrome tabs open at a time. That’s it.

    19. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I tend to stick with 8-10 tabs, because any more than that and I can’t read the name of the site at the top and if I can’t see it I’m going to forget it’s there. So when opening a new tab makes it hard to tell what my other tabs are, I have to get realistic and decide whether or not I’m actually going to go back to that page and finish that article.

    20. Isben Takes Tea*

      I have two screens, and usually anywhere from 2-6 windows open with 2-15 tabs in each, depending on the projects for the day. I close all windows down but my main one (with my gmail, gcal, drive, and general notes document pinned) every night, so that’s the one that reopens automatically on startup. If there are any lingering projects, I just move those tabs over to that window.

      I became a bookmark afficionado once I discovered that if you delete the bookmark name, all that remains is the favicon for the site, so I can have 30 bookmarks neatly and tidily in a row. Super handy!

    21. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      I’m big on bookmarks. I keep the links I use most frequently on the Favorites Bar. I’ve seen people with MANY tabs open at a time, but I’m more about having tabs open for a specific task, and then closing them out when I’ve moved on to something else.

    22. Not So NewReader*

      I usually have a least two tabs open. Some sites I have to get in then log out immediately once I have completed the task. If I look up and see too many tabs, I start going back through and exiting. My computer runs like crap if there is too much open stuff. I usually have to reboot after lunch anyway because my computer loses its way. sigh. If I haven’t cleaned up before then shutting down pushes the point.

    23. acmx*

      I’d say less than 10 (I’m off today). But some of our sites open in another tab so I’ll have more open for a bit. Whenever I get a lot of tabs open so that their like half an inch wide,I start closing them. Too much clutter.

      I shut down every day.

      1. acmx*

        Oh bookmarks, I have probably 10 of my own. But there are 100s of company ones for all/most of the departments.

        I only use private mode when I need to mimick EOTI for one of our applications. If there’s something to hide, I’d use my own computer.

    24. David*

      I run around 5-10 tabs most of the time: aside from one omnipresent tab for email and sometimes one for whatever music I’m listening to, I only keep them open as long as they’re relevant to whatever I’m working on. And I close everything at the end of the day, mostly because I turn off my computer at the end of the day – I know you can configure the browser to save and restore sessions, but I find that it helps me get a mental fresh start the next day if I don’t do that. (It also means I can sometimes use tabs as reminders of things to do that day; once I finish the task associated with a tab, I close it, and once I’m down to just the email tab I get to call it quits for the day.)

      Sometimes when I’m working on multiple different things during a day (jumping back and forth between them), I’ll try to set up a different browser window for the tabs relevant to each task. It’s like tab groups, but kind of better because I can focus the window for the task I’m working on at the moment and the rest of them are hidden and out of mind.

      I never really use incognito browser windows unless I specifically want to avoid trackers for some reason. Or occasionally, if my script blocker prevents some website from working and it’s an important website to visit, I’ll open it up in an incognito tab because I have the script blocker set not to run in incognito mode. But this only happens once every few weeks or so.

      Speaking of script blockers, I absolutely love having script blocker and ad blocker extensions. (ScriptSafe and uBlock Origin are the ones I use, but there are various options.) Not only because of the actual ad blocking, but they can be good for info security because they prevent a bunch of the sketchy things that sketchy websites do to try to, say, steal your credentials, in case you stumble on to a sketchy website.

    25. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Edge has three pinned tabs – two to open my primary work programs, one for our charge interface. Otherwise, I open stuff only long enough to use it, then I close the tab again. If I have too much stuff open I start losing things, so I keep as much closed as I can.

      I don’t do anything personal on my work computer because I work remotely and my personal computer is on the same desk, so all my AAM, amazon shopping, bill paying, facebooking, messaging etc is on my personal computer.

    26. WantonSeedStitch*

      I usually have 2-6 tabs open at a time (unless I’m doing some shopping and have opened up various product pages from a search page to compare them, but then I shut them). I close things down regularly. I rarely use an incognito browser. I have 10 bookmarks in my bookmark bar, and those are the only ones I use. I rely on autocomplete as I type in the search bar instead, which can be a PITA when I have to empty my browser cache (something I do as infrequently as possible). I am also a fan of LastPass. Oh, and in addition to my browser, I usually have Outlook, Slack, Excel, Acrobat, Word, and Zoom open at any given time. I don’t tend to close those apps until the end of the day, even if I don’t have any windows actually open in them.

    27. talos*

      40 or 50, but most of those are in collapsed groups or what have you and just around for reference or to track long-term todos. I’d say my “active set” is more like 10-15 (including email, chat, calendar, and task tracking board).

    28. TooManyTabs*

      I just counted and I have 38 Chrome windows open, and I’d guess that they average 10-12 tabs each. Each window has a collection of related tabs so the things I need stay together. One every 2-3 weeks I’ll go through and see if there are ones I can close down, usually for a project I’m finished with. For incognito windows it varies because I only use them for a specific use case and so it depends on if I’m doing that task that day and for how long.

    29. Sylvan*

      I have about a million tabs open at any moment and I keep things open forever. My bookmarks are a couple of work-related sites and a weather site.

    30. Ness*

      Usually 5-15 tabs. I usually keep a few OneDrive documents open, but if I have too many they all start crashing.

      I keep one document pinned that has links to several other documents I use regularly.

      I never use incognito tabs. If I need to do something that I want to keep private, I use my phone.

    31. WheresMyPen*

      I try to close down unnecessary tabs once I hit 10-15 throughout the day, and I always power down at the end of the day. I find it quite cleansing to close everything and step away, knowing I start with a clean slate in the morning

    32. IT PM*

      I love this question! I was this-week-years-old when I realized you can label windows in Chrome. I now have one window for that day’s meetings, another for to do items, and a third for reference. I use the first for meeting note pages or references I will need while in a meeting. The second is for things I need to do but also serves as a reminder because I check it before I log off for the day. The last is a set of windows I refer to while I’m doing the to do items (usually on the second monitor).

    33. Wordybird*

      I work remotely so I have a laptop on a stand and a larger second monitor. On the larger second monitor, I always have our project management software open in Safari, whatever documents I’m working with/on, and our intra-office drive up. On the smaller laptop screen, I have Safari open with two intra-office Google Sheets that I use multiple times a day + any other tabs I need open for that day’s work. I have dozens and dozens of bookmarks as I have to access lots of different websites with my work.

      At the end of the day, I close out and quit everything before I shut down the computer.

    34. asteramella*

      My job involves a lot of online research and uses GSuite, so I typically have a ton of Chrome tabs open with various Google Sheets/Docs open as well as tabs for researching different things. Usually a couple dozen. I use Chrome’s tab grouping function to keep it manageable.

    35. Parakeet*

      I’m a big fan of the OneTab browser extension for saving and organizing sets of tabs that I can then call up easily, rather than needing to have a million tabs open semi-permanently lest I lose something I needed. I can have a set of tabs stored in OneTab named “TPS Report Background Research,” a set named “Resources for Chocolate Teapots Webinar,” and so on.

      I use Mozilla’s Multi-Account Containers, as well as a lot of incognito browser activity, so as not to associate some of my work searches with my personal Google account (which I log into from time to time to check email) in Google’s back end.

  12. Elle*

    We’re in our annual employee review period. I wish HR would provide training on how they want the evaluations written and what the ranking system means. What’s the difference between meets expectations/exceeds/greatly exceeds? What kind of examples do you want in the narrative? What do the final scores mean in terms of salary and if a PIP is needed? Every place I’ve worked and boss I’ve had has different interpretations and there’s never any clarity. When I ask I’m often given a general how to write a performance eval webinar to watch. I want more specific instructions to the job and it’s rarely given.

    1. Purple Penguin*

      That kind of stinks that they don’t explain it. My workplace is very clear. Every year HR runs a little mini-seminar for new employees with an overview and Q&A. It’s a little bit of “how to write” and of course a little generic since there’s accountants and engineers and graphic designers and everybody invited to the same seminar, but Q&A covers stuff like “what difference does score ranking 3/5 vs 4/5 make to my annual pay” and they’re pretty clear that only 1/5 is associated with a PIP and only like 2 people per year are allowed to get 5/5. But when it comes to specifics, each team is probably a bit different, and this is 100% a good valid thing to take to your manager – ‘can you explain to me what you do with the performance scores’, but try to make it as specific as possible. Ask questions like are they allotted a certain number of 2/3/4 and they have to distribute as they see fit, or are some teams with a cranky manager going to get all 3s and some happy boss gives out all 4s, and when was the lat time there was a 5 in your team, and who decides what the average raise number is, and basically lots of details. If you just ask generally about the process you’ll get vague general answers.

    2. Mafalda Hopkirk*

      Many ranking systems are ridiculous. Especially “meets expectations”. I once had a manager say “if someone is really good at their job, and their work is always excellent, and people know this about them, then they “meet expectations”, because management EXPECTS them to always produce perfect work. Therefore they never get higher than a 3 on a 5-point scale.

      The argument that a mediocre worker with a reputation for so-so work, who does a good job on one project, would get “exceeds expectations” (4 on a 5-point scale) because management never expected a good job.

      Three guesses on which worker gets the merit raise.

    3. Ness*

      I’m a fed. We get rated on a 5-point scale, but they got rid of 2 as an option.

      1 – Not meeting expectations, likely to get a PIP
      3 – Meets expectations
      4 – Exceeds expectations, eligible for a bonus (usually around 1.5% of salary)
      5 – Outstanding, eligible for both a bonus and a Quality Step Increase, which is basically a pay raise ahead of the regular schedule. Managers are limited in how many 5s they can award, so they seem to be pretty rare.

      My performance plan has a rubric for what qualifies for a 3, 4 or 5. The rubric for 4 includes things like, “demonstrates unusually good leadership skills” and “consistently shows good judgement”. The rubric for 5 includes things like “Produces an exceptional quantity of work ahead of established schedules.”

    1. lobsterbot*

      I suck at it, but maybe a couple of “box breaths” where you breathe and hold and let go and hold to a count of four or the like

    2. SameSame*

      Set a 5 minute timer and tell myself I’m going to work on X for 5 minutes. By the end of the 5 minutes I’m usually in it enough to keep going. But it really helps my brain to say “It’s just for 5 minutes [to start with].”

      1. OneTwoThree*

        For these types of things, I set my stopwatch instead of my timer. When my timer dings, I’ll instantly have zero motivation to keep moving. However, if I don’t get the outside stimulus and I’m engrossed in what I’m working on, I’ll keep working on it.

        1. Hlao-roo*

          I love the idea of using a stopwatch instead of a timer so there’s no “ding” to pull you out of “work mode.” Brilliant!

      2. Sloanicota*

        For whatever reason, the way my brain is, this doesn’t seem to solve my issue. I start things but I have a hard time sticking with them. My brain is saying “ow, ow, ow, this is too boring, please let’s do something else” almost right away :(

        1. A Girl Named Fred*

          I’m the same. My brain absolutely knows I’m trying to trick it when I do this, so I either have to do a couple of legitimately only five minute blocks before trying to go longer or do something else and hope my brain switches back later.

    3. CrankyIsta*

      My issue is often that there’s a lot swirling around keeping me from focusing, so like SameSame, 5 or 10 minute timer but I use the time to list all the things so they’re out of my head. (It’s one time I don’t follow the ‘if it’ll take <2 minutes, do it now rule' because that way just continues the un-focused issue.)

      Once I've done that, I can usually settle down a bit and focus on my actual priority.

    4. Anonymous Koala*

      I work from home, so a quick walk around the block, a short break to browse instagram or aam (I set a 5 minute timer so I don’t get sucked into my phone), or some yoga poses are my favourites. In the office, I’d take a break to leave the building and walk around the block, and I’d try to schedule different types of work throughout the day – like writing in the morning, reading/researching in the afternoon, etc.

    5. WheresMyPen*

      Try to remove whatever it is that’s pulling focus, eg put your phone in another room, close any tabs that aren’t related to your task, turn off the TV. And set a timer for 30 mins and say to yourself that after that, you can get up/check your phone/do something else. I also find listening to a background noise app like Coffeetivity helps me feel more focused and productive too

  13. Helen_of_the_Midwest*

    I’m being offered the opportunity to take on a project that normally falls under the purview of a different team in my department. The work is right up my alley and I have the capacity. My only hangup is that the person who I would report to regarding that project, Jane, is negative, harsh, judgmental, and forceful. My boss, Fergus, who’s great, would still be my boss, so I’d only report to Jane on this project, but it’s a large project and I’m nervous about that much interaction with Jane. I should still take the project, right? I do genuinely believe Fergus when he says it’s optional, but I think it would benefit both the company/department and also my resume. Assuming I take the project, any tips on navigating reporting to someone like Jane? I think she likes me right now, but it feels like that could change at any moment.

    1. Leilah*

      If it was me, I would take it. I have had good luck turning people like Jane into allies once I work with them and show them I am competent and we are on the same team. Sometimes it turns out that we just don’t have aligned visions and then that means it’s not going to work out, but a lot of times for me it works out well in the end.

      1. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

        Agreed. This is your time to Shine! Knock that project out of the park and get Jane to be so impressed that she won’t be able to help but be kinder and gentler towards you.

    2. Banana*

      Depending on your relationship with your boss, you might want to raise your concerns about working with Jane and ask if they have any insight into how to make things smoother. That opens the door for them to follow up with you about how things with Jane are going, and for you to bring forward any issues.

      My team has a Jane, and we have a newly transferred employee, Todd, who was recently assigned both to train with her on some things and to work under our Jane on a project. I pulled Todd aside and explained that Jane can be very negative and gossipy, so if she says anything inappropriate or anything that makes him uncomfortable, he should be aware that it’s not a one time thing and he can talk to me or his boss about it and we will handle it (I am neither Jane’s nor Todd’s boss, I was Todd’s boss in the past when we were both in different roles, and I am a manager and senior to both of them on this team.)

      Our Jane’s boss, my peer, keeps saying Jane isn’t a problem because we haven’t had any complaints about Jane in a while, but we also hesitate to assign Jane to work with new employees, and think about her attitude and negativity when we’re figuring out where people’s desks are or how we’re going to frame things in meetings. We’re doing a whole lot of work, for something that “isn’t a problem”. I kinda want to stop doing it and just let the chips fall, which is why I talked to Todd in the first place.

      1. Just stoppin' by to chat*

        I agree with getting ideas for dealing with Jane from your boss first. My attitude about work has changed A LOT over the past few months, and while I would have taken an opportunity like this in the past no question, now I’m leaning toward NOT taking it. If you already know it could be stressful, demoralizing, etc to deal with Jane, then why put yourself through it.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Agreeing with talk to your boss.

          Based on what you have here, I am leaning toward NO. And the reason why is that she will probably do something to sabotage you from putting this on your resume.
          Assume you come up empty with nothing for your resume, do you still want to do this?

          When you talk to the boss instead of saying resume, use the term “work record with this company”.

          In talking with your boss, you want to find out how you will be protected from that. One example of protection is could he pull you off the project of the thing becomes a sh!tshow.

    3. Dr. Doll*

      Is it a “promotable” project, i.e. one that will get you longer term rewards and visibility, or just a pat on the back? (I’m reading “The No Club” right now, am extra sensitive to non-promotable tasks.)

    4. OtterB*

      Do you have personal experience with Jane, or have you observed her in action, or are you going by her reputation? Some years ago, I had an opportunity to move to a project team that I hesitated to take, because my current boss was very supportive and the new one had a reputation as difficult to deal with. I decided to take it anyway. My experience was that the new boss was actually quite easy to deal with as long as you could give him reasons for what you decided or recommended. He wouldn’t give you a bad time about a mistake, as long as you had a reasonable thought process that led to it. Further, I realized from the outside that the old, supportive boss was probably a little too easy to get along with; it made him prone to inconsistency because he agreed with whoever talked to him last.

  14. Who's afraid of salary transparency?*

    A recruiter recently contacted me about an open position in their company and sent me the link to the job description where I see this:

    This position may be performed remotely anywhere within the United States, except the
    role may not be performed in Colorado or Jersey City, NJ.

    As an applicant seeking to work in the state of California; city of Cincinnati; the state of
    Washington; Toledo, Ohio; state of Nevada; state of Connecticut; state of Maryland; or state
    of Rhode Island you are entitled to information about the salary range for this role. Please
    contact [general recruiting email address] for further information.

    I passed on the opportunity due to their unwillingness to hire in locations that require salary transparency and forcing candidates to ask if they’re from places where it’s not required upfront but must be provided on request. My guess is they are either offering below industry average or they are trying to prevent existing employees from finding out how much new hires are getting.

    I don’t live in one of the locations called out in the description. I’d love to hear from anyone who does if you’ve seen positive, or negative, impact from transparency requirements.

    I’ve been talking with a lot of recruiters lately. Almost all of them have asked me directly what my salary expectations are. I’ve answered by asking their budget and every person has told me the range. So why are you asking me my expectations then? If you’re willing to tell me if I ask, can’t you just do that?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Sounds like they are trying to prevent their competitors and/or customers how much they are paying.

    2. Anon for this one*

      I live in CO so job postings like that really bum me out! They must surely be missing out on talented employees. The desire to avoid salary transparency also feels gross. Just…stop underpaying anyone you might be underpaying and tell us the salaries.

    3. OyHiOh*

      A major US insurance company with snappy commercials utilizing a cast of misfits recently explicitly told someone I work with that while they are maintaining their existing employees in the state, they are no longer actively hiring in states/cities that require salary transparency.

      I cheer on states that are requiring transparency because as this becomes a norm, it will also become less of a perceived disadvantage for businesses to do business in all states!

      1. Who's afraid of salary transparency?*

        Agreed! This was a tech company. I’m hoping one of the states that has LOTS of tech workers – CA, MA, WA, etc – will require it soon and makes excluding them less appealing.

    4. lost academic*

      OK, I get Colorado, from a business perspective I can imagine why you can’t have staff in a particular state, but what’s going on with Jersey City? Anyone know?

      1. ERC*

        My dad grew up in Jersey City so had to dig into it after seeing that!

        It looks like Colorado requires that all job ads have a salary listed. Jersey City passed a similar ordinance. I’d suspect that’s why. Can’t violate their salary transparency laws if it’s specifically not for people in those areas.

      2. Who's afraid of salary transparency?*

        I should have included that info. I had to Google Jersey City to find out why they are excluded.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      My husband’s company was a global firm. They withheld salaries because they wanted to pay different rates depending on where the person lived.

      1. OyHiOh*

        Federal government manages to have pay bands that are tied to local cost of living. It continually puzzles me that major/multi nationals bend into pretzels trying to justify why they cannot do what the gov does.

        1. Ampersand*

          They just don’t want to! They either really are saving money, or they think they are. I really wish pay transparency was federally mandated.

    6. asteramella*

      I’ve been approached by a couple of recruiters lately who flatly refused to even give me a range! Very weird, and seems increasingly out of touch with norms.

  15. Slinky Dinky*

    I’ll try to summarize a lot of background: I work for a department of about two dozen in a large organization. For a long time we had no leadership (over a year with no director and a year one or both AD positions vacant.). Myself and two other senior llama groomers kept the operations moving. The first leadership position hired was my boss, one of the ADs. He was going to have 13 llama groomers as direct reports, including  us seniors. The senior llama groomers have always been in a weird spot because we assign and review work for most of the department, but don’t really have any “supervisory” or management duties. Through our discussions with the interim director (a higher up in the org) and later with the AD, management thought it would make more sense for the the senior llama groomers to be managers and have the llama groomers report directly to us, and the three seniors would continue to report to the AD. It took a long time from when the AD and interim director made the decision to when it could actually get processed through HR.  We were all set to go and have it officially announced an implemented about a week after the new director started. The director put a stop to it 2 days beforehand. She told out AD she “wanted to get to know us better” before deciding whether or not we could be managers. However, she has done nothing to get to know us better. We’ve had very few meetings scheduled with her, all of which she’s canceled. It’s part of a larger pattern I’m seeing from her in general, which is that she’s identifying problems with the department, coming up with half baked ways to solve them, but not actually talking to anyone who does the day to day work to gather information, get feedback, or find out whether her solutions make sense.

    Assuming it doesn’t get moved (AGAIN) I have a one-on-one with the new director next week.  How do I diplomatically express my concerns? I’m concerned that she isn’t speaking to anyone in the department to learn how we do things or get to know us. I’m angry that she put a stop to the management change at the last minute, a change that our AD and the interim director (her boss) both thought were a good idea, and has taken no steps to actually get to know us, or really talk to our AD about why this change makes sense (from what I’ve heard from him.) I know that I need to watch how I say this as she’s my grandboss, but I do want to express my concerns. Anyone have help with phrasing? 

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      “Hi nice to meet you in person Grandboss! (do some small talk, let her lead the conversation, when she asks if you have anything to add/concerns then) I was wondering if you could share the reasoning against restructuring the llama department. I’ve been reviewing and assigning work to other llamas for X years/months now, I was looking forward to having direct reports and gaining management experience. (listen to the answer, follow up). Will there be other opportunities for me to gain management experience?”

      I would not bring up the other stuff. Make it about your career goals, and your positions duties. Maybe assigning and reviewing work is going back to your boss’s duty. Maybe there’s plans to make some of the seniors equivalent or lateral to your boss and spread out the junior handlers.

  16. R*

    I like my position, immediate manager and coworkers, but not the company,mostly due to a couple things. Last year the CEO went floor to floor and asked everyone to sign a political petition to get someone back on the ballot as well as hosting gov representatives that I don’t agree with. I know I’m not the only one that has worked where their views don’t align. Any tips? I just ignore it as best as I can but it gets me down. I am starting to look, but I’ve only been here a year and that feels wrong.

    1. CharlieBrown*

      I’ve only been a year into my current position and I am also looking. It doesn’t feel wrong to me. I like the company, but I don’t particularly enjoy the work, so that’s I will say to interviewers. You could just say that the corporate culture wasn’t a good fit for you, I think. (I’m sure others will come up with possibly better wording.)

      1. ferrina*

        Yep, you should be just fine! Unless you have a stint of only 1-2 years for your last several jobs, short stays happen(*exceptions for certain industries). And if you are early in your career, this is even more normal.

        CharlieBrown is right that you can say that the corporate culture wasn’t a good fit for you (if the interviewer asks, which plenty won’t). You’ll need to specify what about it wasn’t a good fit (a good interviewer will want to make sure that they aren’t just putting you back into the same type of culture that you left), but saying “Despite not being a political organization, the CEO was actively enlisting employees to participate in a personal political agenda that did not impact our business and where employees did not have opportunities to opt out.” Say that as neutrally as possible, then focus on the future and why you are excited about Role your are interviewing for.

        Good luck to you both, and I hope you find a better fit soon!

    2. EMP*

      That would be a HUGE red flag for me in terms of having political differences respected in a neutral work way! Definitely start looking, a year is plenty to keep it on your resume if you haven’t been job hopping before this place and it sounds like you can get a good reference from your manager.

    3. Time for cocoa*

      My company has a PAC, and it really rubs me the wrong way. My previous company was in a severely misogynistic industry, so this is a big step up in terms of the way my peers treat me, but the overall company environment is still not ideal. I mentally compartmentalize, and auto-filter the leader’s e-mails directly into the trash.

      I also keep mental track of personl activism that countradicts their efforts, in an unofficial checks-and-balances sort of way. So, the latest petition grinds my gears? Let me quickly donate $50 to a charity that does the opposite.

    4. Snow Globe*

      If you are interested in leaving, I don’t think having just one year in this job is a bad thing (as long as you have other jobs with longer tenure and/or stay at your next job for a couple of years.) This is a good time to be job hunting, so go for it!

    5. Not So NewReader*

      It would be interesting to call the relevant board of elections to see if this petitioning is even legal. There are lots of rules about walking around with a petition. I think a CEO walking around a workplace might raise an eyebrow or two.

    6. Sylvan*

      Gross. I’ve been in situations like that and ignored it. However, it was a situation where someone was right-of-center and I was left-of-center, and we just had different views on where our taxes should be going. It wouldn’t be helpful of me to recommend ignoring it if the political difference were more extreme or involved something offensive or dangerous.

      1. Sylvan*

        Sorry — My other experience this was with a Trump-supporting boss, and I didn’t last long in that job for completely unrelated reasons.

    7. RagingADHD*

      I remind myself of a few things:

      1) I’m not there for personal fulfillment. I’m there to earn a living. I get personal fulfillment from my personal life.

      2) I’m there to get money. If I only took money from people I 100 percent agreed with about everything, I’d starve to death. As long as I can maintain my integrity about the actual work I do, it’s fine.

      3) The only people I really need to be in substantive alignment with are my spouse, close friends, and spiritual community. The people at my job are not usually in any of those groups, and their wrong opinions are not cooties that will contaminate me.

  17. CharlieBrown*

    Just found out that I’ve been selected to do work for a particular client, and I am not happy about it, for various reasons. E.g., their methods are unnecessarily complex, with instructions in two separate documents when all our other clients are in a single document (and those two documents sometimes contradict one another), their methods are not clear, the procedures are terribly complex and I work remotely (I’m doing basically QA work, signing off on results), and I have actually indicated absolutely zero interest in doing this client’s work, while I have indicated a lot of interest in doing the work of other clients. (I know this sounds weird, but it’s complicated and difficult to explain without breaching confidentiality–this is one of those fields.)

    But what bugs me the most is that I didn’t find out from my supervisor, but from a coworker. Apparently a lot of people know, but I haven’t even been officially notified yet. I like this company, but I’m not particularly happy in this role, and rather than working my way out of it, they’re just burying me deeper into it.

    I’m not really sure I have a question, just a rant. But I guess I’ll spend the weekend working on my resume and getting it out there.

    1. ferrina*

      I’ve got a coworker that had this happen a few months ago. High needs client, no one wants to work on it, but someone needs to cover it. She was moved onto the account and has no interest in being there. She does great work, but the client is impossible to please and her hands are tied in a lot of ways.

      Smart of you to get your resume out there. Good luck!

      1. CharlieBrown*

        Thank you! This is not our worst client, but we have a lot of eggs in their basket, and they are nit-picky and difficult to please, and my salary just doesn’t cover that.

    2. Qwerty*

      Commiseration story

      I once found out from a colleague that I had been transferred to a new team before even my manager had been informed. I came back from a C++ conference, because my official performance goal was specifically to focus on that programming language as highly necessary to my career growth. Ran into a colleague in a different department who congratulated me on moving to NewTeam, which does not touch C++. I laughed and told him he was wrong and he was very confused. IM’ed my manager who knew nothing about it. Manager asked CTO, and a meeting landed our calendar for the afternoon. CTO was shocked that I found out about it on my own.

      Frosting on the cake was that on the way back from my conference I met up with the manager of NewTeam for a quick recruiting trip, where I talked all about my C++ plans and how it was critical to my career. He already knew about the transfer and actively encouraged me in those plans!

      I quit shortly after that. CTO was surprised. No one else was.

    3. Hatchet*

      If you haven’t heard from your supervisor yet, I’d send them an email “So I heard that I’ve been assigned to work with Client X. Is that true? If so, I need some support in areas A and B – can we discuss what that will look like?” … and that’s if you need the support or extra eyes, etc. I’d also include in that email something along the lines of ‘after this project, what can we do to ensure that I’ll be able to work with Client Y or Z next?” (Y & Z being your preferred clients.) You could even mention how your skill set better matches Y & Z or how you’re looking to grow that skill set.

      1. CharlieBrown*

        This is a good idea; thank you. I would be willing to handle this for a lot more money and a lot fewer responsibilities in other areas, so this is a good approach!

  18. Running with scissors*

    Hi,

    I appreciate everyone’s responses to my post last week.

    I had a 1:1 with my manager this morning. She said she will be scheduling a team meeting in the office because she senses we are having issues working as a team.

    I want to mention the difficulty I have approaching a team member I provide coverage for. They have repeatedly gotten upset with me no matter how nicely I try to frame it. one idea I have is to say that I am out off by the responses I get.

    1. ferrina*

      Good luck! I hope you manager is able to resolve this with her authority, because it sounds like the coworker isn’t willing to let it be resolved.

  19. Leaving after paid parental leave*

    I want to ask about the ethics of giving notice shortly after taking paid parental leave (to take a new job, not become a SAHP if that matters).

    In my situation, there is no contract stating I have to pay anything back, and my leave is through the company only and not a government program. I am soon to return after several weeks of paid leave, but recently had a few promising interviews at another company for a role with a higher title, pay bump, and much better benefits. It wasn’t my intent to job search, but a listing came open and I applied on a whim. Would this burn bridges if I gave 2 weeks notice upon my return, or is this type of thing just cost of doing business?

    My current company has been good to me so if I do leave, I want to do it in a way that is respectful and convenient for my coworkers.

    1. introverted af*

      To me, that feels like just the cost of business. Opportunities will come when they come, and you shouldn’t turn them down just because you just got back from time off.

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

      I think as long as you give proper notice you’re fine. They’ve already managed coverage while you were out, so this might not be very disruptive to have to leave now.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      I knew the managers in a situation like this at a small office and they were frustrated. Not “and so we shall give you terrible references going forward” frustrated, but they had done a lot of stretching to cover for the temporary absence and that was finally going to be over, except instead they needed to start the hiring process. Logically it’s the cost of doing business; emotionally you have been stretching to do right by this employee and then they leave.

      Things worked out fine and annoyance cooled with the passage of time. It is okay for you to look out for number one–if layoffs had come at this small company and they had had to lay her off, they would have felt bad while doing it. Unless you know of an “ideal” time to quit (e.g. start of the quiet season) then anything close to a time when the company was stretching to accommodate you may lead to some less than positive feelings. And it’s okay to generate those in people occasionally.

      1. JR*

        Agreed. This isn’t a reason not to take the job – it will inconvenience them for a month or two, while it will majorly impact your life for years. But I do think you should be clear that you get the inconvenience, specify that you weren’t job searching (happy here, fell into your lap, couldn’t pass it up, etc.), and do everything you can (within reason, of course) to make the transition period smooth.

    4. Coffee Bean Counter*

      I felt so bad but I came back from leave and during it we had found out we were moving across country for my spouse’s job. My work had been so amazing, they actually ended up offering me to stay on remote which worked out for a bit. Just be honest that you know it is bad timing and that you have enjoyed working there but for xyz reasons you will be leaving

    5. RagingADHD*

      This isn’t a matter of ethics at all. It is a matter of relationships and reputation, to some extent.

      It is necessarily going to put some strain on your relationship with management. Best-case scenario, if you have a good prior relationship and they are good managers with a healthy attitude, it will be like Falling Dipthong describes: temporarily annoyed / frustrated, because it’s a hassle.

      If the relationship was already strained or they aren’t good managers, they could over react and it could affect your references. But if it were that sort of situation, you probably would have been job hunting anyway and not care what they think.

  20. introverted af*

    Any advice about supporting your spouse when they are going through a career slump?

    My partner is a graphic designer. We are both in our late 20s. They work for a university in a specific area of the university, and they recently got a new boss that they just don’t jive with. They have good benefits, but aren’t totally happy with the work they do and are thinking about career changes. They feel like they messed up too badly at their first job to ever recover and go on to a successful career that makes the kind of money that allows us to raise kids the way we want someday.

    They need direction, and I try to be supportive with things like, making sure they’re looking for a fix or a vent before I respond, encouraging them to pursue their interests and investigate, finding ways to be supportive at home when they’ve had a difficult day or week. But at the end of the day, if they won’t make a change or do anything, let alone anything different, to help theirself (themself?), there’s nothing I can do about it. And that’s just grinding me down to see them not try anything – not therapy to help with their depressive episodes and provide an impartial sounding board, not looking for jobs, not working on their portfolio when they have time, not exploring other skills they like and finding ways to build them into a career, nothing. I don’t care what they try, I just wish they’d do something.

    I feel like it’s also hard because I have been relatively aggressive in pursuing my career interests since college, and have moved to a good company in our area with good long term prospects. I also started after college with no idea what I wanted to do or how to get there, but I had supportive bosses encouraging me to do the things I was good at. I feel like when I talk about it, I want to say, if I can turn my liberal arts degree into a career track, you can make it work; but instead it’s just discouraging because they haven’t been able to do that. They have had more than one person tell them “your first job after college defines your career,” and I can’t argue that it’s important, but it doesn’t have to hold you down forever.

    Thoughts for me, advice for my spouse? TYIA

    1. SameSame*

      This is totally shaped by my recent experience, but maybe read (together) Designing your Life by Bill Burnett & Dave Evans? It’s about applying design thinking to life choices, and they also directly address some of the common ways our thinking gets “stuck” — like feeling that because we made a particular choice about our first job, then we can’t ever shift our trajectory again.

    2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      Is it really your problem to solve? A lot of people who ” aren’t trying ” are just trying to keep themselves afloat.

    3. EMP*

      Whatever you do, “if I can do X you can too” is not the right thing to say right now, but it sounds like you know that already.

      For you, I would say you might feel better if you can take a step back for a little while. Take a couple weeks (or whatever) to just not get involved. Dive into your own hobbies, journal your feelings, read a book – whatever you can do that’s not “fret about spouse’s lack of action”. Support your spouse, obviously, if they need it, but it sounds like you’re really frustrated with what they’re not doing and jonesing to do it for them, and you just can’t. So drop it for a week or two and see if some breathing room helps.

    4. SereneScientist*

      This is a rough situation indeed, much empathy to both you and your spouse. I’m sure other folks will have more to say on how to encourage them to be more proactive in managing their professional life. I want to direct my attention to you, Introverted AF.

      I was in a fairly similar position to you when I met my now-fiancee. I had finished undergrad and grad school earlier than my peers and had been working professionally for several years already. My fiancee, on the other hand, had just started grad school after a significant pivot from engineering to clinical psychology. Grad school was incredibly challenging for them: poor administration, inconsistent instructor quality, dysfunctional practicum sites, the works. This lasted through their internship year on the other side of the country during the pandemic, no less. Throughout this period, they valiently pushed on as best as they could, but was deeply discouraged by things not going their way. It was solidly five years of this.

      They finally made it through graduation and the completion of their dissertation. Now that they are in post-doc with the licensure finish line in sight, they have finally been able to:
      1. Find the kind of workplace environment that best suits them (a small org, close relationship with supervisors)
      2. Take more ownership of their day-to-day working life (less bureaucracy, more responsibility, more control over their clientele)
      3. Invest in professional networking and relationships
      4. Invest in themselves and the things they need

      All of the things I list above simply couldn’t happen while they were in a rough spot, whether because it was out of their control (aka a program requirement) or they were doing what they could with a less suited-to-them role. That can be such a weight that making an effort beyond survival feels impossible. Until they found the direction to go after getting through this period, could they start to see the possibility for real change.

      This is all to say: your spouse will not be in that hard place forever. It will take time, it will take energy and some changes to circumstances that they have to make, but they will not be there forever. And you’re right, there is only so much that you yourself can do for them. What you can do is continue to be a supportive partner, and that means making sure you have the resources to do so. Whether that means making sure your own social support system is strong, you’re taking time to do the things that make you happy and fulfilled, etc–you will be better equipped to weather these harder times and be there for your spouse when they are ready to take A Leap. Wishing you both very well and hope that your spouse can find the light at the end of the tunnel soon.

      PS I’d also suggest writing to Captain Awkward about the interpersonal aspect of this!

      1. ferrina*

        This is really interesting! Thanks for sharing this. I shared my story in one of the comments below, where it was the way my now-ex wanted to be forever (i.e., he wanted me to be endlessly, unquestioningly supportive while he “figured things out”).

        Just goes to show that there’s a lot of nuances about how the situation can differ! But definitely take care of yourself, and put your faith in your instincts.

        (also recommend Captain Awkward!)

        1. SereneScientist*

          Yeah, there are absolutely limits to that support. And sometimes, two people are just not compatible if these sorts of things don’t align. There is no shame in recognizing that and deciding that staying isn’t the right choice.

    5. Colette*

      If this was going to be your life forever, would that be OK?

      Some things to try:
      “You’ve mentioned that before, what is your plan to change it?”
      “You seem really unhappy”
      “I can’t keep being your sounding board for this, I think it’s try to try a professional who can help you work through this.”

      1. introverted af*

        Those are good phrases, thanks!

        I know part of this is on me and my personal struggle with conflict, and I haven’t wanted to be quite as blunt as “you’ve talked about this before.” But it has worked to frame it as, “I don’t have long right now. Is this related to XYZ we talked about before? If so can you give me the highlight, or is this totally new and we need to plan for a good chunk of time to discuss later?”

    6. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      First of all, this: “They have had more than one person tell them ‘your first job after college defines your career,’ and I can’t argue that it’s important” is just straight silly BS. You can start by telling them that people who have told them that are incorrect.

      I would also advise rethinking your “if my crap degree got me a good job then yours can too” strategy because it’s not helpful at all. Your job as their spouse is to support them emotionally while they fix their own problems, not to try to fix their problems for them. And bootstraps rhetoric is not a good way to emotionally support someone you care about.

      1. AsPerElaine*

        I agree on both these points. (My first job after college was only tangentially related to what I do now. It was also kind of a trashfire.)

      2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        It really is ridiculous. My first job WAS important, it started me on a particular path. But since then I’ve pivoted several times — it influenced my career, but it definitely did not define it! WTH.

    7. ferrina*

      How long has this been going on? If it’s only been a few weeks, give it time. If it’s been more than several months, then it’s time for action.

      Have you told your spouse how you are feeling? You say a lot about how they are feeling, but what about you? Reading between the lines, I’m guessing that it’s really frustrating that you are doing everything you can, and it feels like they are doing nothing but then also unhappy and bringing that unhappiness to you. This is not sustainable. Do they understand the impact that it’s having on you? Do they care? Have that conversation and see what they say. Do not suggest things for them. Let them ruminate and commit to something themself. If they decline to do anything, that’s valuable information for you. You cannot care more than they do (even if they have MDD or other mental health conditions- you can do the executive functioning tasks, but ultimately, you cannot do the healing for them)

      I went through something similar with my ex, and it did not have a happy ending. I’m hoping you and your spouse are in a different boat and I’m off-base, but just in case, here’s my story: My ex was deeply passive about everything. He regularly changed his personality to whoever he was around. He would say things he didn’t mean because it was the path of least resistance, then when it came time to deliver, he had a headache/didn’t sleep well/was too stressed from work/was angry that I held him accountable because my “standards were too high” (spoiler alert: any standards were too high). I knew he had self-esteem issues, so I supported and supported and supported, I made myself smaller so he wouldn’t feel “threatened”, I carried far more than my fair share for years. And while I was giving everything, he was taking. If I did all the cooking while he was sick for a week, then he would never cook again. If I de-escalated a fight, he would never back down again (this was an early red flag- he never de-escalated fights. I would always have to be the one soothing him, even if he was the one who had messed up.) If he talked over me repeatedly, it was because he was “so insecure” and I would be a monster to tell him he’s being rude, because “It hurt his feelings. Are you telling me not to communicate?”
      I later learned that he was a Covert Narcissist. His insecurity masked and childlike desire for attention masked a deep indifference to anyone else. He only did acts of affection if it was something that he’d be praised for. His being constantly down but also not doing anything was part of his victim mentality, and he decided that the world needed to change to accommodate him and he deserved that.
      Now I really, really hope that this isn’t your situation. But if some of this sounds familiar, I recommend you do more research and decide where you want to go from there. Good luck.

      1. SereneScientist*

        Ferrina, I am sorry your relationship ended but it also sounds like it was for the best. Your ex and my fiancee do indeed differ in how they approached these things. My fiancee struggled through challenging circumstances but wanted to get to a better place, your ex…just wasn’t interested in actually moving beyond whatever phase of life he was in as he “figured things out.” I’m sorry it had to come at the cost of you making yourself smaller.

    8. AsPerElaine*

      It sounds to me like you’re focused on what your spouse needs out of you supporting them, when instead you should be focused on what YOU need while support them. Because what I see in your comment is that this isn’t working for you. (It’s not clear to me if it’s working for your spouse. Clearly this isn’t a great situation for them, but also they aren’t trying to change it in any meaningful way, which could either mean that they aren’t in a place to be able to change it right now, or might mean that it’s working well-enough for the moment.)

      You talk about feeling like it’s grinding you down — what needs to change for that to no longer happen? Is it for them to find someone to vent to about certain topics? Is it to timebox complaining that’s just venting and won’t go anywhere constructive? Is it to designate a time “when we get home until 6:30pm” or a space “our after-work walk” for these conversations, and the rest of your lives are for things that aren’t thinking about work?

      I second the recommendation for Captain Awkward — I think there are already some good letters about My Partner Is Going Through A Thing And I’m Tired Of Being Their Primary Person To Vent To.

    9. Policy Wonk*

      Have you asked them how you can best support them? They may or may not have ideas, but that is the place to start.

      Agree that the bit about first job after college is BS. Many people change not just jobs bur careers multiple times in the first five-ten years out of college.

      Some suggestions: mental health screening – as we’ve all seen on this site, a bad boss can have a serious impact on one’s mental health. career counseling or coach – sitting down with someone who is not invested the way a spouse is to talk through skills, abilities, and options might help. Finally, self care for both of you. Spouse probably needs some TLC, but it is also hard to be the support person in the scenario you describe, and usually no one is looking at your needs.

      Good luck to you both.

    10. Dancethenightaway*

      I could have written this. I just went through a very similar experience with my partner. He ended up getting caught in a layoff earlier this year and was forced to find something different. He just accepted a position he is really excited about.

      Unfortunately, sometimes it takes losing a job to help us to make a better decision. He has told me several times he never would have left that job or company had he not been forced to, and he sees now how toxic that particular job was for him. Best of luck to you both!

    11. FormerHigherEd*

      It may help if they can connect with other designers. The field is huge! I recently left higher ed and am freelancing and I won’t go back to higher ed as an employee! Too much politics.

    12. A Girl Named Fred*

      As the person currently going through a career slump which has aggravated my anxiety and depression, have you tried telling your spouse how you’re feeling? The best thing my partner did for me in my current situation was to sit me down and say, “Look, I love you, and I hate to see you struggling like this. I will do whatever I can to support you. But hearing you complain about the same things day in and day out without taking any action to change them is taking a toll on me too. Can we talk about what actions you can take to get out of there? Because if not, I’m going to have to ask for the complaining to ease up for my own wellbeing.”

      Sure, it was painful to realize I’d been hurting him, but it was the butt-kick I needed to start taking steps. They’ve been small, and I’m not there yet, but I’m Doing Things, and he’s more able to support me when he sees that I’m Doing Things than when I’m not.

      So I guess my advice is, you can love them and want to support them, but ultimately only they can decide when they’ve had enough, and you’ve got to do what’s necessary to take care of yourself in the meantime, too. Best of luck to you both!

      1. introverted af*

        That’s really helpful to hear about it from the other side. I will try something like that I think. Thanks for your insight!

      2. JessicaTate*

        This is really, really well said, and exactly what OP needs to say. It does matter what this is doing to you, and your spouse needs to know it clearly. And it does point out that you, OP, HAVE been doing something (giving support), while partner has been enjoying the benefits of your unwavering emotional support.

        Ask me how I know. I silently supported an aimless and semi-depressed boyfriend for years. It took me WAY too long, and a therapist (for me; he “never got around” to finding one for his depression), to realize why I was becoming more and more miserable in our relationship.

        After we ended things, he pretty quickly got his shit together. Figured out a new career path, got a stable job, did all the things he “couldn’t” do when I was supporting him. My silent support wasn’t healthy for either one of us. I tell you this, OP, because, don’t think of it as conflict. The silent support could be inadvertently enabling behavior patterns that aren’t healthy for him either.

        Good luck!

    13. MacGillicuddy*

      You mentioned depressive episodes. This is an important point. Someone in the throes of a depressive episode can fall into an outlook of “my boss hates me, I’m lousy at my job, I can’t do anything right, so I’ll never succeed in this field and should never work in it again”. This is how depression talks.

      I’m not trying to diagnose your spouse, but I think you kind of buried the lede when you first mentioned the “doesn’t jive with new boss” and “messed up so badly that they can never possibly recover or work in this field again”. But then you mentioned a depressive episode.

      At first I was confused by your post, because I could figure out the actual issue. Bad boss? Messed up at job?

      What actually is going on? Is your spouse not good at graphic design? Or realizes they don’t like doing graphic design even though they do it well enough? Did spouse have unrealistic ideas about what the job would be about, or what working full time would be like ? (For example, even in relatively good jobs there’s going to be stuff you have to do that you don’t like doing). And having a bad experience in a llama grooming job doesn’t mean that a person can’t ever be a llama groomer ever again. The next llama grooming job could be great.

      Is the boss a jerk? A bad manager?(micromanages, overly critical, or doesn’t give good directions, changes his mind and blames others?) etc etc

      My suggestion is that your spouse needs to deal with the depression first, because otherwise the depression is going to affect your spouse’s take on what is actually going on at the job.

      This isn’t to diminish the job’s problems (Ask a Manager certainly has enough examples of horrible managers and jobs that are bad fits) but getting a handle on the depression will let your spouse have a better understanding of what is going on, and how to proceed.

    14. asteramella*

      It sounds like the root of the problem may be the depression/feeling of “stuckness” that is based on a general sense of inadequacy/failure—not their specific current job.

      It might be time to let them know that you NEED them to address this because it is negatively affecting your relationship. Seeing a therapist is a great way to try to address it. If they have good benefits through the university, now is the time to use those benefits for therapy! There are lots of therapists who have experience counseling people about career issues as well as working on depression.

  21. Free Meerkats*

    I’ve had a week with lots of doing virtual interviews on the hiring side (including 8 in one day) and have a couple of comments.

    Test your connection, test your connection, test your connection.

    If you’re using your phone, set it up on a stable base; please don’t try to hand hold it. You’ll make your interviewer seasick.

    Please don’t sit in front of a sunny window. You’ll be backlit and the glare is terrible.

    If you’re doing it on your computer, have your phone at hand if things go bad with your camera/microphone.

    And lastly, if your pet decides to join your interview, you are required to introduce them.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      I have one! When I was doing virtual interviews a few years back, I would reserve study/meeting rooms at my local library. Great & reliable Wi-Fi, reasonably quiet, good lighting, familiar space, no distractions.

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

      Fun thing about the window backlight (or any strong back lighting) is that it confuses the camera, so the person sometimes becomes translucent or fazes in-and-out like aliens keep trying to abduct them. Can be funny in a meeting with people you know well and can joke with, but not so professional for an interview. :-)

    3. I watered your plants while you had covid*

      And if the interviewer has a pet they also need introduced so I can include them in the thank you email!!!!

  22. Qwertyuiop*

    People at work tell me that I’m “quiet”, but is it just an observation? Do they want you to talk more? There is a woman who is in a higher position who teases me about “being quiet” but doesn’t socialize with me, so I don’t understand why she would say anything. I’ve tried talking to the people who say this, yet they don’t seem to want to talk to me. How do you respond to this? Any advice or words of wisdom are appreciated.

    1. Lex*

      UGH. I get this too and hate it so much. I haven’t figured out any better response than “Yup! Sure am :)” and then continue to do my work or whatever. I don’t think this is the best response, but anything else seems to come off as defensive.

      1. Lex*

        Also, to your question “do they want to talk more?” I think usually no, they want *you* to talk more because they can’t figure out how to deal with someone who isn’t super talkative. But sometimes there just isn’t anything to say! Sometimes people talk and say absolutely nothing! I hate that, I hate doing that, and would rather wait until I have something important/relevant to bring up.

    2. ferrina*

      Are you approachable? Do you speak up when you have a question or a concern? Is your boss satisfied with your professional demeanor? If the answer to these is yes, than you’re fine.

      I’d just own it.
      “Yep, I’m quiet like a capybara.”
      Then walk away while they try to figure out if a capybara is quiet or not.

      1. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

        Love your response, Ferrina. I wonder how those same folks would feel if we quiet folks said to them “Wow, you sure do talk a lot”

    3. djc*

      I’ve been told I’m quiet my whole life. It’s mainly because I am quiet in large groups. I will jump in to conversations here and there, but I’m mostly content to sit and listen. This is especially true with my family because there are some talkative people in the group.

      It’s a little different in work meetings because I do speak up if I have a question about something or if I want to provide a suggestion about something.

      It’s kind of annoying when someone tells me I’m quiet, but I just shrug it off and go about my business. As long as your work product is good and your manager doesn’t have issues, I don’t think you need to do anything about it.

    4. Purple Penguin*

      I’d be tempted to clarify – “Do you mean I don’t talk much or that you have trouble hearing me?” And then depending on their answer, you reply “That’s right, I don’t much, why does it bother you?” (or something like that) or “That’s good to know, I’ll be sure to speak up then”. And if they pull some crap like ‘I wouldn’t know if I can hear you when you never say anything’ you are perfectly within bounds to say “Exaggeration isn’t helpful” or any scathing thing you desire.

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

      I don’t think they want you to be more social in a conversation sense, but I’ve noticed that the people who are first to say “hello” or “good morning” without any additional conversation aren’t viewed as “quiet,” but those that always wait to be spoken to first, are. Just a thought. If you want to, you could just try to be the first to verbally acknowledge someone in the hallway/elevator/break room/meeting, etc.

    6. Graciosa*

      I tend to translate “quiet” to “introverted” in my mind when I hear it – and as a major introvert, I think it’s absolutely fine!

      The real question you might want to consider is how it relates (IF it does) to your current job or an aspirational job in your future. If you were doing software coding, for example (a little stereotypical as a choice – there are lots of jobs like this) sitting quietly and actually coding all day would be normal. If not wanting to spend the day chatting with other people made you more productive, this would be a benefit in your role.

      However some jobs – and some cultures – require certain levels of interaction. As I was becoming a manager, I had to spend more time at work talking to people – not just my clients (or members of my new-to-me team) but lots of other adjacent functions. It quickly seemed as though my “job” had a large portion that involved attending meetings – and speaking up.

      A lot.

      And getting along with lots of new people who wanted to talk about sports (not a fan).

      And it was my JOB.

      So I figured out how to do it better without driving myself crazy. Twice a day (once in the morning and once in the afternoon) I would literally get up and walk around the office. I would smile at everyone in greeting if they were on the phone, and stop for a moment to chat with others who looked open and receptive. I didn’t say much (Did you have a good weekend? How are the [favorite sports team] doing? Looking forward to [vacation / end of quarter / holiday / getting Project off your plate]?) but I’d listen to the answers as if I cared and make appropriate noises before wrapping it up and moving on. I can do this for 5-10 minutes twice a day, and people think I’m a friendly, pleasant person rather than just someone they don’t know who never seems to say anything. Sometimes being a good audience is enough.

      I also smiled madly at everyone at work from the time I started there. My resting [thinking!] face is not all that receptive, so I learned to just automatically smile at everyone I saw whenever I was at work.

      So the real question in my mind is whether you need to tweak anything in your work behavior [and it will really help to think of this as a learned skill or behavior – it doesn’t change you inside at all] to accomplish what YOU want to do in your career or company.

      I once got some feedback that my team members didn’t think I cared about them because I didn’t stop by to say good morning and see how they were doing – so I changed that behavior to get a different result. I certainly didn’t think just walking by and going to my office would hurt anyone’s feelings [sometimes this is a culture issue or a personal one] and it was definitely not my intention, so I was willing to tweak that a little.

      Think about what goes on in the office (does everyone else greet each other at certain times) and whether there is an adjustment you want to make.

      But you don’t have to! This is your career, and you should make your own decisions about what makes sense for YOU. Female executives at a couple companies I’ve been in have bonded over shoes! I don’t care about shoes – mine are quite plain – but I am willing to talk about interesting handbags. :) Think about what the subtext of the comments may be telling you, and decide IF you want to respond differently.

      It sounds here like people may not think you like them (which is silly – quiet introverts are rarely emoting secret disdain) and are reacting weirdly because of it. If that’s consistent with your observations, think about whether you’re willing to tweak anything to change the impression.

      1. allathian*

        I’m also an introvert, although a chatty one, so I’ve never been accused of being too quiet. That said, I’m also Finnish, and the culture here is much more tolerant of introverts than it seems to be in the US. Being able to enjoy someone’s company in companionable silence is a rather unique pleasure.

    7. Irish Teacher*

      My impression is that people who do this are generally trying to “be helpful.” They are, in my experience, generally people who think everybody is naturally an extrovert and that quiet people are “shy” or “lacking in confidence” and need to be “brought out of themselves.”

      I mean, to be honest, people who ARE actually self-conscious are more likely to be made MORE self-conscious by people constantly commenting on it and people who are not are likely to be irritated, but I think the point is meant to be, “it’s OK. You don’t need to be so quiet. You can be an extrovert as you obviously really want to be, because everybody does.” These people also often tend to believe that MAKING somebody do something will make them want to do it, which again, I don’t get. Like that teasing people who hate teasing will make them like it.

      Given that she is in a higher position than you, I would imagine she feels like she is “giving you permission” to talk more. She assumes you are shy and feel nervous and is trying to “encourage” you not to be shy. There are a whole load of false assumptions in that, from conflating “quiet” with “shy” to assuming that shy people can simply be teased into not being shy, but it seems to be what people try to do.

    8. Qwerty*

      Does it bother you to be seen as quiet? If not, then you can just shrug or agree with them when they bring it up. Or respond with “And?”. Kinda like if they had stated any other fact and said “Jane, you have brown hair”

      Caveat – double check your volume. Are you literally quiet when you do speak? I’ve known multiple people who have the stereotypical “quiet” personality who also speak softly when at work, so the translation was “you rarely speak but when you do we can’t hear you”.

      If it does bother you, sometimes people say this because they don’t have any other connection with you or anything else to socialize over. You are sort of a blank in their mental files because other details about you don’t come in casual conversation or work conversation. They might know that Fergus is a Star Wars nerd because every time he presents an idea he makes Star Wars analogies. Or that Bob really loves details because he’s long winded in meetings.

      Its also possible for being quiet and not talking much to be seen as standoff-ish and not approachable. It doesn’t mean that you have to change if that’s who you are! I tend to actively try to befriend these folks because I worry about people being quiet out of discomfort rather than personality (and even quiet personality people can become chatterboxes once comfortable), but its more likely that people will feel rejected by the quiet folks. People are coming up on a wall during the normal social flow (for them), they don’t know how to handle it, and blurt out that the other person is quiet. Which kills any chance at a conversation and the cycle repeats.

    9. My+Useless+2+Cents*

      I take it as a compliment. There are a lot of people who just talk to much! When I get the occasional comment I usually just smile and shrug.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      Them: “You’re very quiet.”

      Me: “Oh, okay. What would you like us to talk about?”

      Them: …..

  23. Guest*

    I am in search of a comfortable women’s shoe! Low heel, full foot coverage (I have a foot tattoo that I prefer to keep covered), not insanely expensive, comfortable. Thoughts?

    1. EMP*

      I don’t know your budget but I’m looking for something similar and got Clarks recommended several times. Don’t have a pair yet though!

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        I’m a teacher (so on my feet all day) and have owned multiple pairs of Clarks over the years. I also always have at least one pair of Toms in rotation.

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

      My go to is actually an ankle boot. I have 2 pairs of Cole Haan boots in black and brown, both leather or maybe “leather” IDK. They can be pricy but I bought them on sale at DSW.

      1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        Ankle boots are my go-to as well, huge fan of Born and Earth for those, also Romika. (I tend toward more casual Euro brands.) I find booties are more versatile and don’t rub my achilles tendon. Plus they are more forgiving of different pant lengths – you can wear them whether pants are a little cropped or a little long, because you don’t see the hem meeting/missing/drowning the top edge of the shoe around your ankle.

    3. LadyByTheLake*

      Check out Schulershoes.com — they specialize in comfortable shoes — with a large selection of work appropriate shoes.

      1. SameSame*

        And if you are near their physical locations, their staff are amazing! Very helpful in finding shoes that work for your specific feet.

    4. Isben Takes Tea*

      If you like ankle boots, I bought two pairs from Miz Mooz that 1) are extremely comfortable (i.e. I can take a 2-mile suburban walk in them with no issues) and 2) always get compliments. They are certainly the most expensive shoes *I’ve* ever purchased, but each pair was under $200, and I’d say very well worth it.

    5. Mid*

      Not sure what is insanely expensive, but I have a pair of Doc Martin Oxfords that I find very comfortable and durable. They have chunkier and more traditional styles. Also Clarks is a good option for most people, they’re very comfortable and usually have good sales. Oxfords and Chelsea boots are my go-to office shoes.

    6. My+Useless+2+Cents*

      Recently I went back to good old Keds. They have a few different styles to choose from. Due to some foot issues I tend to be a little limited on what I can wear but I find them comfortable without being overly heavy.

    7. Irish Teacher*

      Gabor. They are kinda expensive, usually around €100, not sure how that translates to dollars, probably somewhere between $120 and $150, but comfortable and professional looking.

    8. Despachito*

      Arcopedico. The first shoes after years that fit my hallux and I can walk in them all the day long without feeling them on my feet.

  24. JewishAndVibing*

    What’s a good way to try and negotiate for more relocation assistance? Or would it be smarter to negotiate for a higher salary? I have an official, written offer.

    I was offered a bonus that is nice for relocation, but because I’m going city to city, it maybe covers a lease deposit and first month, but not any possible moving fees.

    My payment offer is typical for new hires of this position, which is a shift in the work I’m doing (similar field, but very different work; this will be my first time doing this kind of work), but I do have a Master’s degree, while most people in this position have a Bachelor’s.

    1. Leilah*

      salary will roll up forever, relocation assistance only happens once. If you are picking one to negotiate, pick salary.

    2. PollyQ*

      Negotiate for a higher salary, because then you’ll get the benefit of it going forward, whereas the moving bonus would be a one-time thing.

    3. Bunny Girl*

      Could you maybe offer proof of how much of how much everything is costing to back up your request for more relocation assistance?

    4. Anon for This*

      I vote with those who say negotiate for a higher salary – that is the gift that keeps on giving. I also caution that you may be getting a “signing bonus” rather than relocation assistance. We don’t offer relocation assistance and if you tried to negotiate on that it could lead to a misunderstanding and the bonus being withdrawn.

  25. Taco Bell Job Fair*

    I keep seeing all these news stories about employees complain about their work place on tik tok. I was wondering does doing this make a person less likely to get another job? Because I potential employer could see this and think what is stopping this person from making a video about this place?

    1. KoiFeeder*

      I don’t know if it does or not, but I would not want to complain about my workplace with my name attached, much less my actual face and voice attached. Even if it doesn’t impact the likelihood of finding another job, it feels incredibly high-risk to do something like that.

      1. ferrina*

        +1 Relationships are a key part of my job, and if my boss or a coworker saw me airing dirty laundry on social media, I’d be torpedoing my own career.

        1. Alternative Person*

          Same. I leave out the majority of names even when I’m talking to my friends/family (often giving various difficult colleagues less than kind nicknames) and make a point of anonymizing details even when talking on semi-anon boards like this. Putting any kind of easily identifiable information, let alone real names/faces makes me squirm uncomfortably.

    2. Princess Xena*

      To me it would depend on what the nature of the video was. Kvetching about a hard day, no names attached? Happens sometimes. Naming coworkers or company? It would give me a serious pause, because I’d have to wonder if this was actually a bad company that had no good methods for handling internal issues or if the employee in question was a problem employee. Naming clients or internal information? Not touching with a 10 foot pole, major liability.

  26. Mimmy*

    Gripe / question about Applicant Tracking Systems

    TL;DR – Are job application statuses typically not changed until a position is filled? Or is it a case of sloppiness between the hiring department and HR?

    Every now and then, I check the status of my job applications via each employer’s (universities) ATS platform. At one university, I have two applications from this year, one for a Teapot Specialist, the other for a Teapot Coordinator, both in the same department; they both show my application as “In Progress”. Which is interesting considering that I interviewed for the coordinator position and was notified that I would not be moved forward. I would think my application status would thus reflect that. But then again, I live on what my husband calls “Earth 2” LOL. It’s a large state university, so I imagine it’s just a matter of getting all the pieces lined up.

    What made me think about this is that the Teapot Specialist job, which I applied for in the spring, came up again yesterday in the same department. I have not been officially notified that I wouldn’t be considered, so I wondered if it’d be worth reapplying or just waiting to see if they’ll consider my previous application.

    1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      In the government positions I’ve sent applications in to recently, the status doesn’t seem to be updated until they hired individual completes their probationary period in the role successfully – presumably because of the civil service nature of some of the positions, and the need to go back to the list and offer it down the line if someone doesn’t make it through the probationary period.

    2. Unladen European Swallow*

      In my experience within higher ed, an offer has to be made and accepted before all candidates are given a generic, “We have filled the position” type of communication and your status within the system is changed. Yes, this is completely frustrating and no, I have not been able to convince HR to move to a process where people are notified as we move through each round of interviews.

    3. linger*

      University hiring is notoriously slow, and since there’s not much to be gained from checking in, you may as well put it out of your mind for the moment. Presumably you’ll be contacted directly if successful. If not, the site probably still won’t be updated until there’s an incumbent in place. So, meanwhile, if it helps, just think of it as an “Applicant Tricking System”.

  27. Aiya*

    Has anyone seen the Nike resume cake post that’s been going around on LinkedIn?

    The self congratulatory tone is just total cringe. Reminds me of all the gumption stories that Allison has posted here.

    1. Cookies for Breakfast*

      I also cringed at the way the author worded the praise for the Instacart driver. It came across as patronising to me, and I don’t love that lugging around the cake with a sleeping child in tow was part of it (it doesn’t sound that different from employers singling out working late or logging in while on holiday as “above and beyond” behaviours that set an example).

      I hadn’t thought the cake might go straight to the bin – I’d imagined it landing in some department’s nondescript staff area, left out for people to take or completely ignore. Of course, reading Alison’s take on it and the comments, it makes sense why someone might throw it away. And that annoys me even more, thinking of the waste of time, money and food this gumption exercise turned into.

      1. Aiya*

        you summed up all of my feelings and thoughts perfectly. on top of that, I hate the thought of that poor Instacart driver putting herself in such an uncomfortable position (wandering through an unfamiliar office that she doesn’t have access to) just for a meager tip to help feed her family. it’s incredibly exploitative.

    2. RagingADHD*

      The poster is looking for a job in “branding.” Nike doesn’t need help with branding.

      If she were really after a job at Valiant Labs, she would have tagged them. Or Nike. But no. She tagged Albertson’s, Instacart, her former mentor, the driver, and some hashtags.

      And she got a whole bunch of people, including Alison and Alison’s Twitter feed, re-sharing her story because it is wierd, silly, outlandish, etc. I don’t know how many followers she had before the post went up, but it was about 8K when I saw it. The actual Director of Talent Acquisition at Valiant Labs has 1,800.

      Social media virality isn’t about making everyone like you. It’s about making people *talk about you.* There will always be some who like you and some who don’t, so by reaching the largest total audience you also find more people who like you.

      I’d also encourage anyone who is worried about Denise the driver (an actual person, with a name and opinion!) to follow the link to her own LinkedIn profile, where you can read all of her comments about how cool she thought the experience was, how much she appreciates all the publicity she’s getting out of it in the news, and how happy she is that she got the cake gig in the first place.

      Since she is an actual person with a name, anyone who is super worried about whether she and her baby are okay could start a crowdfund for her. Or DM her and Venmo her some support. She’s not hard to find.

  28. Get Me Out Of Here*

    Today’s my last day! All went as well as could be expected with giving my notice to my grandboss. (I wasn’t super-thrilled with his request that I email my boss – who was out of the office but seemed to still be checking messages – the news and to cc grandboss, but I’m content with how I phrased it – and apologized for not giving him the news in person.)

    I quit without another job lined up because I was finding it nearly impossible to interview virtually for remote positions with my in-office job 45 minutes from home. How should I bring that up in cover letters/interviews, since I’ll be updating my resume and sending more applications this weekend and in the near future?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      “Available to start immediately” is the phrase I’ve seen used to indicate currently unemployed. Just phrased a little nicer, and leaves the door open that maybe you just don’t need to give notice at current job or you’re just so eager for the chance to work for the company that you’re willing to burn that bridge lol.

  29. Amber Rose*

    I had a business lunch Monday and then accidentally awkwardly invited myself to lunch on Tuesday with management and I think I’m a lost cause for networking skills. It was so bad. Is there anyone in the universe more awkward then me? The answer is no. D:

    1. ferrina*

      I assure you that you are not the Most Awkward.
      Networking is the Worst for most people (myself included), but I’ve found that my best networks are built on a genuine desire to learn and share information. I ask questions and genuinely listen, I go to the subject matter experts for advice, and share what I know as well (always caveating as needed with “I’m not entirely sure; Cindy would know better than I would”). Being approachable and genuine is surprisingly effective at networking, though it’s not very flashy. (and don’t stress about the occasional social faux pas- most people forget about it pretty quick, and those that will hold a grudge about it weren’t going to be a healthy networking opportunity anyways. Learn and let yourself move on)

    2. Time for cocoa*

      I had a video meeting with a British subject matter expert last Friday, and he mentioned in passing that he had this Monday off (for the queen’s passing). When we were saying our farewells, I told him “enjoy your funeral”.

      Years ago as a hospitality employee, I repeatedly told people looking for a restroom to “enjoy your stay” but apparently that was not enough embarrassing automated platitudes for one lifetime.

  30. HIPAA-Potamus*

    Can we do another poll by state/region? Questions as follows:
    1. How many PTO days do you get a year?
    2. Are they frontloaded/is it an honors system, or do you have to accrue?
    3. Separate bank for sick, or all one bank?
    4. Use it or lose it, or accrue up to a max cap?
    5. If max cap, what is that max cap?
    6. Comp days?
    7. Do you have to take sick/PTO for COVID?

    1. HIPAA-Potamus*

      I’ll start:

      1. How many PTO days do you get a year?
      26, which includes the 6 holidays

      2. Are they frontloaded/is it an honors system, or do you have to accrue?
      Miserably slow accrual rate of 1 day every two weeks.

      3. Separate bank for sick, or all one bank?
      All one

      4. Use it or lose it, or accrue up to a max cap?
      Max cap of the 26

      5. If max cap, what is that max cap?

      See above

      6. Comp days?
      In extenuating circumstances, yes. The day of the Uvalde shooting, we were given off. .(We are a children’s health system.)

      7. Do you have to take sick/PTO for COVID?
      Yes. Stupid policy for a hospital

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      USA. Midwest.
      24 PTO days a year
      Acrue 2 per month
      Separate for sick
      Max cap (can sell back)
      Not sure, think its 180? Depends how long worked here
      Nope
      Yes

    3. Web Crawler*

      1. 20 days vacation, 10 days sick

      2. Technically I have to accrue, but nobody knows how this is tracked. I assume somebody high up knows how many vacation days I’ve taken bc I fill out a time sheet, but I can’t see that information and neither can my manager or her manager. So it’s functionally an honor system. I’m sure I regularly use more sick days than I have, due to chronic illness.

      4. Use it or lose it (which is frustrating because I have no way of knowing how much I’ve used besides tallying it in a text file)

      6. I get every bank holiday off, because I work for a bank

      7. Yes

    4. londonedit*

      UK/London:

      25 days’ basic holiday per year, increasing by 1 day after 5 years and a day per year after that up to 29 days (plus standard English bank holidays – New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, first Monday in May, last Monday in May, last Monday in August, Christmas Day and Boxing Day or their observed days if it’s a weekend). The office also closes between Christmas and New Year and that’s not part of our holiday entitlement, so it’s effectively an extra 3 days.

      Our holiday year runs from 1 Jan to 31 Dec and you’re given your holiday allowance on 1 Jan to use as you see fit during the year. If you start mid-year it’s pro-rated.

      Sick leave has nothing to do with holiday. It also isn’t a benefit to be used up in full each year – it’s for if you’re actually sick. We have no set limit on ad-hoc sick days (paid) and can self-certify for a week before needing a doctor’s note (but if you’re taking a lot of sick days then your manager/HR will want to discuss this with you to see if you need any accommodations etc). For long-term sick the company will top up statutory sick pay to your full salary for a maximum of 15 weeks after two years’ service.

      Holiday is use it or lose it, but you can carry 5 days over to the next year (however these have to be used before 31 March).

      I’m not sure what comp days are…is it like time off in lieu? If there was a rare occasion where I had to work at the weekend (say for an event or something) then I’d be given a day off in lieu to take within a reasonable time period.

      I’m actually not sure what the COVID sick policy is now – previously you could take up to 2 weeks sick with COVID/for self-isolation but I don’t think that’s the case now government guidelines have changed. I think basically if you have COVID then it’s a discussion between you and your manager as to how much or little you’re able to work from home, and any sick days for COVID won’t be questioned.

    5. ThatGirl*

      1. 15 vacation + 2 floating holidays + occasional extra half or full days off at manager discretion
      2. they are frontloaded
      3. we don’t have any official sick time bank, are just expected to take it as needed, dr’s note needed for longer absences, after a certain point they would ask you to take short-term disability
      4. use it or lose it
      5. n/a
      6. yes, though it doesn’t really come up for me much
      7. no, see 3

    6. djc*

      I’m in the US/Midwest, but my company has locations across the US and in India. I work in software development. I have unlimited PTO. My company culture is good in that people actually use their time off, so I like it.

      For example, this morning I had a doctor’s appointment. I was offline for a couple of hours. I don’t have to worry about trying to report that on my timesheet or make up the hours. We do “report” time off on our timesheets, but it doesn’t get tracked anywhere.

    7. I'm A Little Teapot*

      1. 200 hours
      2. front loaded
      3. all one
      4. carryover 40 hours
      5. n/a
      6. none
      7. yes, but management gives zero pressure or stress, just wants to be kept informed of if you’re working or off. And we tested this when literally half the team came down with covid 2 weeks before the busy season started. Management was freaking out behind the scenes but it didn’t show at all to the sick people (I was one of the sick people).

    8. Gatomon*

      1. 6 + 10 (1-4 years); + 15 (>5 years) and you get a few more at various anniversaries after that
      2. The 6 are available to start every year on 1/1, the rest are loaded in on your anniversary date
      3. Sick is separate and accrues monthly, total of 12 days per year
      4. The 6 are use-or-lose, the rest can roll over but they don’t like you to roll more than 5 days
      5. Not sure, I’ve heard of people being forced to take Fridays off for a while to burn time down, but I don’t know what the cap is
      6. Nope, private employer
      7. As of some point last year when the Feds stopped reimbursing, I think covid is treated like regular sick time

    9. Kimmy Schmidt*

      University in Mid-Atlantic USA.
      25 annual leave + 15 sick every year + ~11 holidays
      We accrue, but you can “borrow” against your future days if you get sick before you have enough days to cover.
      Unlimited sick carry over. There’s a cap on annual, but it’s pretty high. I think up to 50 days each year?
      Kind of unofficial comp days? If we work a weekend or something, we just note it in our calendar.
      Yes on sick leave for Covid :(

    10. Free Meerkats*

      Can we do another poll by state/region? Questions as follows:

      Western Washington, near Seattle

      1. How many PTO days do you get a year?
      Depending on longevity, 96-200 hours/year
      2. Are they frontloaded/is it an honors system, or do you have to accrue?
      Accrued on a pay period basis
      3. Separate bank for sick, or all one bank?
      Separate SL bank
      4. Use it or lose it, or accrue up to a max cap?
      Accrue
      5. If max cap, what is that max cap?
      2 year’s worth (192-400 hours)
      6. Comp days?
      Only with advance approval
      7. Do you have to take sick/PTO for COVID?
      Rules have been changing, not sure.

      1. Free Meerkats*

        Forgot a couple of things.

        Add in 2 floating holidays/year, use or lose

        SL accrued 96 hours/year for represented employees, 192 hour/year for appointive. Max accrual 960 hours.

      2. Niniel*

        USA, Midwest

        1. How many PTO days do you get a year?
        We get 7 holidays, 5 sick days, and 1-5 years gets 10 PTO days, after 5 years you get 15.
        2. Are they frontloaded/is it an honors system, or do you have to accrue?
        Holidays are on the set days, the rest are accrued.
        3. Separate bank for sick, or all one bank?
        All one bank.
        4. Use it or lose it, or accrue up to a max cap?
        Accrue, no max cap as far as I remember. I always use most of mine, so it’s not somthing I have ever worried about.
        5. If max cap, what is that max cap?
        N/A
        6. Comp days?
        Sort of? If we have to worke early or late I can make up that time by coming in later or leaving earlier the next day.
        7. Do you have to take sick/PTO for COVID?
        Yes, unfortunately.

    11. Murphy*

      1. 21, soon to be moving to 24 (based on years employed; hitting my next milestone in October), plus an additional 12 paid holidays. We celebrate everything short of flag day.
      2. Accrual. New hires do get a 40 hour bank though.
      3. All one bank
      4/5. Accrue up to 200 hours
      6. No
      7. It depends. My company followed the 80 hours of COVID-specific PTO originally recommended (required?) during the beginning of the pandemic, and has extended this. However. They did not grant more hours. If you are someone like me who has not knowingly had COVID, I still have 80 hours should I get sick. If you used these up, then it is from your bank. We are really flexible with work from home, so people usually aren’t using this for quarantine, only when they are actually too ill to work.

      In Michigan, governmental health care, so we do get paid a bit less than we would working elsewhere, so PTO is strong to help make up for that.

    12. Zephy*

      1. I get 7 paid holidays per year, where the campus is fully closed (New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day) plus 2 floating holidays (2 of Black Friday, Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve or MLK Jr Day, when we’re roughly half-staffed), plus between 80 and 160 hours PTO, depending on tenure (new hires get 80 after 90-day probation, after 2 years it goes up to 120, after 5 years it’s 160).

      2. They’re front-loaded and reset upon hire date, which obviously varies person-to-person.

      3. Holiday and floating holiday is a separate bucket from PTO, so I get those 9 days plus my 14-20 PTO days, but there’s no specifically-designated sick leave. There is a bereavement leave that isn’t charged to PTO but I think that’s only like 3 days and, obviously, requires special circumstances.

      4. When I started it was use-it-or-lose-it and any leftover PTO in the bank on your hire date would just vanish into the ether. Now, they’ve started rolling over unused PTO into an FMLA bank; my understanding is that if I were to invoke FMLA for an extended leave, I would first need to exhaust my normal PTO, but then I could continue to get paid for however many hours I have banked while on FMLA leave, before switching to STD.

      5. Max cap is 160 hours/4 workweeks for employees that have tenures over 5 years. Also worth noting, any request over 40 hours needs special approval from upper management. I don’t actually know how upper management feels about employees wanting to take an actual two-week vacation but the messaging to us peons is that it’s a BFD to even ask, which I recognize is not ideal.

      6. Nope, but I’m hourly. It might be a thing for salaried folks, I don’t know.

      7. As far as I’m aware, employees with COVID had to use their own PTO to cover their absence, but thus far I’ve managed to avoid the plague so I don’t know what the process actually is. My workplace was not transparent about any special COVID leave policy that may have existed (and that I imagine does not exist anymore), it was very much kept on a need-to-know basis for reasons I can’t fathom. Like, the messaging to employees was not “here’s what to do if you get COVID,” it was “contact your boss to find out what to do if you get COVID.”

      US, Florida. Higher education clerical/staff.

      1. Zephy*

        Edit to add, you didn’t ask but maybe this would also be illuminating: I can only get paid out up to 5 days/40 hours’ PTO upon departure from the company, regardless of how much I have banked at the time I give notice. I can’t use any PTO during my notice period, either, but that’s pretty standard at most places, I think.

        1. Zephy*

          One more thought (my kingdom for an edit button in these comments): we have a PTO blackout period that stretches through our “busy season” (mid-July to mid/late-September), during which vacation requests made in advance will typically be denied, but it is still possible to call in sick (or “sick”).

    13. LimeRoos*

      Minnesota, Non-profit.
      1. I started with 18, then once year 3 hit it went up to 23, but I also moved to exempt around the same time, so now I have 28 and it is glorious.
      1a. We also have 1 floating holiday, and 8 paid holidays.
      2. They’re accrued, but the float holiday shows up right away.
      3. All in one bank, non-exempt starts at 18 days, moving to 23 after 3 years, exempt starts at 23, moving to 28 after 3 years. The next jump is +5 days at 10 years. Managers have been pretty flexible though and we can/do wfh.
      4. Accrued to a max cap, only use it or lose it is the float holiday.
      5. It’s 33 days/264 hours.
      6. No idea – my managers have been pretty flexible. Probably up to manager discretion.
      7. We do have to use PTO for covid, but also have a hardship PTO bank that’s been in place since early 2020 for covid if you don’t have pto. We do get time off for getting vaccines, 4 hours per shot.

    14. Princess Xena*

      Washington state, USA

      1. 20 days (actually 25 but 5 are for fixed holidays)
      2. Accrue
      3. All one bank
      4. Accrue up to max cap
      5. 200 hours/25 days (note that management encourages us to take PTO so I haven’t had any problems capping or losing PTO)
      6. No, though we can switch holidays around if we have a reason
      7. Haven’t had to test it but I think yes, we would have to use it

    15. Isben Takes Tea*

      California, but for a global remote-first software company centered in Europe
      new, non-exempt mid-career employee, though I think everything is the same for everyone, or at least non-executives

      1. 25 PTO + 4 company holidays
      2. They track accrual but operationally it’s an honor system
      3. 5 separate sick days
      4. Company is use it or lose it, but CA law means I get rollover/payout
      5. Stop accruing once bank hits 10 days
      6. Not sure on comp days; I’d guess up to manager. We get overtime but they really discourage overtime/working on weekends/etc.
      7. No separate COVID policy

    16. BlueWolf*

      DC Metro Area
      1. How many PTO days do you get a year? For my role, 22 days, 1 floating holiday, 9 holidays, as new employee, increases to 27 days after 3 years
      2. Are they frontloaded/is it an honors system, or do you have to accrue? Accrue
      3. Separate bank for sick, or all one bank? All one bank
      4. Use it or lose it, or accrue up to a max cap? Accrue up to max cap
      5. If max cap, what is that max cap? 44 days at the 27 days/yr level
      6. Comp days? No
      7. Do you have to take sick/PTO for COVID? I actually don’t know, I think so?

      1. cheapeats*

        Also DC metro area so i figured i’d nest here:
        1. How many PTO days do you get a year? At my current level, 6 use/lose that do not roll over, 17 accruing, 3 floating holidays, 7 core holidays. we can also purchase PTO if we know we have something big coming up.
        2. Are they frontloaded/is it an honors system, or do you have to accrue? A week of use/lose is frontloaded and the rest is accrued
        3. Separate bank for sick, or all one bank? One bank
        4. Use it or lose it, or accrue up to a max cap? Accrue to max cap
        5. If max cap, what is that max cap? at my current level, 51 days
        6. Comp days? No, but I can flex my time in a pay period without issue as needed
        7. Do you have to take sick/PTO for COVID? yes

    17. Swingline*

      In the south, US:

      1. 22-30 days PTO depending on years of service, 15 holidays (not included in the PTO)
      2. Front loaded
      3. Sick and vacation all in one bank
      4. Accrues to a max cap
      5. It rolls over, up to the annual accrual amount – if I get 22 days per year, front loaded, I can also roll over 22 before I start forfeiting (so, as of January 1, I can have a max of 44 days). If I forfeit, the forfeited time is paid out at a 50% rate.
      6. No comp days
      7. Yes

    18. Mid*

      Colorado, USA.
      1. 15 PTO + Court Holidays, 8 sick days though it’s functionally unlimited sick time.
      2. Technically accrued quarterly, but in practice you can use them up early in the year.
      3. Separate
      4. Technically it doesn’t roll over, but in practice they let you roll over days, you just won’t get paid out for them if you leave.
      5. Max cap is your total time off
      6. Not officially but if I have to work late I can flex my time so they don’t have to pay me OT
      7. Yes, but we also have remote work so if you aren’t sick and just need to quarantine, you can WFH. And again, while we have 8 official sick days, I’ve been over that limit and don’t have to take time off unpaid ever.

      As a note, I currently work for a very small company so we’re able to offer a lot of unofficial flexibility, even though officially our policy isn’t as generous. It’s mostly written so the company wouldn’t have to pay someone for 2 years of PTO on Jan 2nd, which is what happened to them once.

    19. Actuarial Octagon*

      City in the Pac NW. We have unlimited PTO and close the week between Christmas and New Years. It aligns with our practice of allowing people to be flexible with their work schedule. I think it only works because we’re a small company and people who take advantage of the system are actually managed.

    20. Irish Teacher*

      Ireland, but I’m teaching, so not all will apply.

      1. We have set holidays and work 166 days a year. For non-teachers, the norm for annual leave in Ireland is 4 weeks. I do have something like 5 “personal days in a school year,” but that is at the school’s discretion to allow or not (pretty sure my school always WOULD) but I mean, they aren’t legally mandated.

      2. Not applicable.

      3. Sick leave is completely separate and works differently. I have 7 non-certified sick days across two years. These are the days I can just call in, no questions asked. Then I have up to 6 months, across…I think it’s 4 years? certified sick leave that is fully paid and I think another 6 months on half pay. It is of course, unlikely anybody will need that much except in extreme circumstances. There are also separate leaves for things like bereavement, maternity leave (this is six months on full pay), parental leave (again fully paid, something like 7 weeks can be taken at any time in the child’s first two years of life).

      The citizen’s information website specifically tells people that if they get sick during their holiday time, they should contact their jobs to let them know so the time can be changed to sick leave and they don’t miss out on holiday time being sick.

      4. Sick leave works on rolling period, so if I have taken 3 days in the last year, I have four within the next year, but say I took the first of those on the 27th of September 2021, then on the 28th of September, I would have 5 within the next year. It just keeps going like that.

      Personal days, as I said, are not legal requirement and are more for specific circumstances, so they are lost if you don’t use them. In the non-teaching world, people would be usually expected to take all leave.

      5 and 6 aren’t applicable.

      7. This is actually a good question. We used to have special covid leave but not sure if it still exists or not. Just checked and it looks like it is still available, but only for 7 days. The latter is a chance since last July.

      Great question, by the way.

    21. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

      USA/Northeast Questions as follows:
      1. How many PTO days do you get a year- 15 vacation Days + 10 holidays + 1 Floating day and 3 Personal Days
      2. Frontloaded–we can take all of our vacation days beginning Jan 1
      3. Separate bank for sick, or all one bank?- separate sick days –we get 8
      4. Use it or lose it, or accrue up to a max cap? we can carry over up to 5 of the vacation days into the next year (must use them by March 31)
      5. If max cap, what is that max cap?
      6. Comp days? so far, the only time we’ve gotten a Comp day is when a (former) US President has died. we had a day off on the day of the funeral.
      7. Do you have to take sick/PTO for COVID? Must take sick time for Covid

    22. Anon for this*

      Midwest, but working remotely for a company based in California. Unlimited vacation and sick days, but I just recently started and asked what they considered reasonable for vacation. I figured about 15 days a year. They told me some people take two weeks off and then don’t take any other time, and some people take every other Friday off in the summer but not much other time. I’ve had more PTO then that at previous employers that had a set number of days.

      We don’t actually ever go anywhere on vacation, so I’ll probably take a week off at some point, but I’m going to aim for more around 15 days of vacation, not 10.

      And if I’m sick, I guess I’m sick. I don’t foresee taking an unusual amount of sick days unless I get covid or something. I don’t know how the unlimited sick pay comes into play if you are out for a month or two after surgery or something. We have long-term disability, but not short-term.

    23. Time for cocoa*

      US/New England region.

      FTO or flexible time off, which is an “all the worst parts” version of unlimited time off, in which your manager has complete discretion over approvals. This basically means that you’re at the mercy of the generosity of whoever you report to. I have yet to put this policy to the test, since I’m still rather new and have a lot on my plate to ramp up to full speed. Maybe next year, once I’ve settled in.

      1. Massachusetts PTO Anon*

        Also in New England, so I’ll nest here. I am an engineer at a manufacturing company.

        1. 15 vacation days, unlimited sick days, 10 paid holidays
        2. Accrue vacation time, but I’m allowed to go negative early in the year — I would just have to pay back any negative vacation balance if I left the job (and positive balance of vacation days would be paid out if I left)
        3. Separate vacation and sick time
        4. Use it or lose it every year
        5. No max cap
        6. No comp days
        7. I worked from home when I had COVID because I had a very mild case (on par with a standard cold for me)

    24. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Large multi-hospital health care system, Indiana, US

      1. How many PTO days do you get a year? — 33. (Starts at 23 for hourly and 28 for salaried, goes up by 5 days every 5 years to a max of 38.)
      2. Are they frontloaded/is it an honors system, or do you have to accrue? — accrual per pay period
      3. Separate bank for sick, or all one bank? — all one
      4. Use it or lose it, or accrue up to a max cap? — accrual up to a cap
      5. If max cap, what is that max cap? — 360 hours
      6. Comp days? — nope
      7. Do you have to take sick/PTO for COVID? — yes, now – but we had a COVID coverage program up until the end of July that covered either if the team member had COVID or if they had a dependent with COVID that needed care.

    25. RussianInTexas*

      Can we do another poll by state/region? Questions as follows:
      USA. Texas
      1. How many PTO days do you get a year?
      10 vacation days, 4 sick days. The company is very generously allows you to take some unpaid time.
      2. Are they frontloaded/is it an honors system, or do you have to accrue?
      Front loaded
      3. Separate bank for sick, or all one bank?
      Separate
      4. Use it or lose it, or accrue up to a max cap?
      Roll over. Apparently.
      5. If max cap, what is that max cap?
      6. Comp days?
      No
      7. Do you have to take sick/PTO for COVID?
      Work from home, so if able to work – no, otherwise – yes. Can go unpaid.
      I will add that for a professional office job, even in Texas, my company is exceptionally stingy.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        5 paid holidays on top of this – we do not get Memorial Day or day after Thanksgiving paid.
        Small family owned manufacturer/distributor.

    26. Girasol*

      Midwest USA.
      PTO days 10 to start, 15 after 5 years.
      Front loaded.
      Sick and vaca all in one bucket.
      Accrues up to 999 days.
      (Excess paid out when you leave the company at 50 cents on the dollar usually, but PTO payouts can be cancelled in lean times)
      “There is no such thing as comp time.”
      PTO must be taken when time off is mandatory, like Christmas week plant closure.

    27. graphically inclined*

      US, new england

      1. 25 plus 10 company holidays
      2. frontloaded
      3. sick time is…very wishy-washy. technically it’s separate, but it’s not really a bank and more of a “if you take more than a week and a half off sick total, your manager is supposed to have Discussions with you”
      4. use it or lose it.
      5. n/a
      6. only for some departments (including mine) that require occasional weekend/holiday support
      7. yes, though see aforementioned wishy-washy-ness

    28. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      US, midwest HQ. “Unlimited” (which doesn’t mean take endless amounts of time but covers plenty of extended trips and illnesses no questions asked), no accruals or rollovers (obviously), all one bank, we don’t officially have comp time but unofficially my department does.

    29. David*

      Cool idea! For me in USA, California, SF Bay area (at a medium-sized tech company if it matters):

      1. 15 days PTO per year for your first 5 years at the company, then 20 days per year for the next 5 years, then 25 days per year; plus one “floating holiday” which is effectively an extra day of PTO. But three days of PTO normally have to be used for a company closure the week after Christmas, so it really works out to 13/18/23 discretionary PTO days per year. Observed holidays are separate and everyone gets the day off without having to use PTO. (IIRC those are New Year’s Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, Juneteenth, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day/Indigenous People’s Day, Thanksgiving and the day after, and Christmas and the day after.)
      2. PTO accrues each pay period, e.g. 15 days times 8 hours/day divided by 24 pay periods/year means I get a 5 hour PTO credit each pay period. People can temporarily go to a negative PTO balance, up to -5 days, if they want to take time off and don’t have enough accrued yet. Plus the floating holiday is always available.
      3. Sick leave is separate, 10 days per year. But if someone needed more, they’d probably find a way to make it work – the company culture is very supportive of people doing what they need to do to take care of themselves.
      4/5. Max cap of 200 hours (25 days), but other than that it rolls over
      6. …what are comp days? If it’s what I think it is (getting an extra day of PTO in exchange for working over a weekend or holiday), we don’t do that in my role, but I believe other teams at my company do, the ones who more often need to work outside normal hours.
      7. Yes, there are no special provisions for COVID so it comes out of regular sick time. But we’re very flexible about remote work aside from a few key in-office roles, so when people have gotten COVID they usually only take 2-3 days off, usually enough to make it to a weekend, and then once they feel up to it they just work from home for the rest of the isolation period.

    30. Lirael*

      In the UK working for the public sector

      1. How many PTO days do you get a year?
      32 days plus bank holidays (8 in a normal year, two extra this year – both for the Queen, platinum jubilee and funeral, and presumably an extra one next year for the coronation). I’ve been there over 5 years – got 27 when I first started and 30 after 3 years… I think.

      2. Are they frontloaded/is it an honors system, or do you have to accrue?
      You can technically take it all the minute the year starts if your line manager agrees, but most wouldn’t because you would then not have any for the rest of the year. Also you earn it each month so if you took it all at the start of the year then resigned the extra you’d taken would be taken off your last month’s pay.

      3. Separate bank for sick, or all one bank?
      There’s no bank as such. if you’re sick you’re sick. you get paid up to 6 months full pay and 6 months half pay if you have a genuine reason to be off and as long as you’re likely to be well enough to work when you recover. However there are also Meetings To Be Had if you’re off to make sure you’re not talking the piss.

      4. Use it or lose it, or accrue up to a max cap?
      you can carry over max 5 days of annual leave as standard. if you have a good reason you can carry over an extra 5 with the agreement you’ll take them very quickly in the new year, this has to be agreed with HR. You must take the legal minimum, no exceptions. anything in the middle you lose.

      5. If max cap, what is that max cap?
      don’t understand the question

      6. Comp days?
      if I work more than my hours for a good reason I can take time off in lieu, normally not more than 2 days a month, I think.

      7. Do you have to take sick/PTO for COVID?
      sick leave. originally it didn’t count against your sick leave triggers, I don’t know if that’s still the case

    31. blink14*

      Large, private university in Massachusetts.

      1. 20 vacation days, 3 personal days, plus 3 days of bereavement time
      2. Personal and sick are a yearly bank, vacation time accrues and depends on length of employment and salary grade, full time employees start accruing immediately and accrue up to 15 days per year
      3. Separate bank for sick time, with an allotment of 12 days/yr, with carryover of up to 30
      4. Vacation time has to be used by the end of the following fiscal year
      5. Sick carryover cap of 30 days, but the paid leave benefits are extensive
      6. Comp days? Not officially
      7. Do you have to take sick/PTO for COVID? yes, the state emergency leave act ended in March 2022.

      We also get 13 paid holidays, plus Christmas Eve – New Year’s Day as paid time off.

    32. Aphrodite*

      1. How many PTO days do you get a year?
      We get anywhere between 8 hours per month/96 per year to start and it goes up to 16.67 per month/200.04 per year.

      2. Are they frontloaded/is it an honors system, or do you have to accrue?
      It is on the accrual basis.

      3. Separate bank for sick, or all one bank?
      Separate banks for vacation time, sick time, jury time and bereavement time.

      4. Use it or lose it, or accrue up to a max cap?
      We can accumulate sick time without limit. Vacation time can be saved up to a two-year maximum. Anything over that must be used before June 30 since we are in California and the college does not want to pay excess out.

      5. If max cap, what is that max cap?
      Two years’ worth for vacation time; no cap on sick time.

      6. Comp days?
      Rarely do they want to pay that; on rare occasions we can get comp time for a specific project.

      7. Do you have to take sick/PTO for COVID?
      I do know they had that extra Covid sick time when it was initially offered but I don’t know about now. At any rate, we could work from home.

      1. Aphrodite*

        Oh, for an edit button!

        Vacation: Between 96 and 200.04 hours per year.
        Sick time: 96 hours per year.
        No limit on jury time (thankfully because I came dangerously close to getting stuck on a 4-6 month civil trial not long ago).
        Accrual on a monthly basis.

    33. Rara Avis*

      1. 3 PTO/8 sick
      2. PTO frontloaded, sick accrues
      3. separate
      4. PTO is use it or lose it; sick accrues until 240 hours
      5. 240 hours of sick
      6. no
      7. separate covid allowance

    34. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      Germany:
      1. How many PTO days do you get a year?
      Vacation: 30 by contract, 24 legal minimum; EU wide legal minimum 20 days. Plus public holidays (about 8 in my state, changes year on year as holidays falling on a weekend are not moved to Monday as in some countries)
      2. Are they frontloaded/is it an honors system, or do you have to accrue?
      Accrual.
      3. Separate bank for sick, or all one bank?
      Separate. Sick leave (fully paid) 6 weeks per illness, thereafter 6 months (at a lower rate) from mandatory health insurance.
      4. Use it or lose it, or accrue up to a max cap? Vacation carries over until March 31st the following year, then you lose it – but the employer has to urge you to actually take it
      5. If max cap, what is that max cap?
      6. Comp days? Yes.
      7. Do you have to take sick/PTO for COVID?
      Sick days if unable to work due to illness (many can work from home if in quarantine)

      1. allathian*

        Public sector, Finland

        38 days vacation after 15 years working full time for the government, 32 days after working at least a year, 24 days (2 days per month) for the first year. Unlimited sick leave, although the employer pays for the first 90 days, after that’s it’s social services/single payer insurance (about 60% of salary).

        Accrual. Vacation carries over until the end of April the next year, then you have to use it or lose it. Although HR systems are supposed to ensure that you don’t use vacation from the current year before you’ve used all of your previous year’s vacation.

        Comp days? Yes, and you don’t even have to take the full day at once.

        Sick days if unable to work due to Covid, just as with any other illness. It’s possible to get partial sick leave if you normally work FT but are only fit to work half time, but this requires an official diagnosis, and PCR tests are hard to come by. Covid is no longer considered a dangerous infectious disease here, so if you have been exposed but are asymptomatic, you are no longer put in quarantine.

    35. gwennian*

      In Interior Alaska
      1. 15 PTO days, plus 2 floating holidays and 6 scheduled holidays (10 PTO to start, after 5 years you get 15, after 10 years you get 20)
      2. Have to accrue. You only accrue time the first year, PTO is available to take after 1st anniversary.
      3. For hourly, all one bank. (Salaried employees get 80 hour sick time.)
      4. Accrue continuously. At your anniversary, anything over 80 hours is paid out to the employee. (Used to have to use anything over 80 hours by anniversary or lose it.)
      5. Kind of 80 hours. (see #4.)
      6. No official comp days, but management is decent about letting you take an unpaid day off after a heavy week. We still get the OT, though.
      7. Once the government subsidy for Covid sick time ran out, we were SOL and had to use PTO.

    36. Ness*

      I’m a Fed with 10 years experience.

      1. 20
      2. Have to accrue, but can get time advanced at supervisor’s discretion.
      3. Separate bank – 13 days/year
      4. There’s a cap for Annual Leave (PTO) but not sick leave.
      5. 240 hours
      6. We can earn credit hours/comp time for working extra hours with supervisory approval (the rules are somewhat different between the two and I don’t remember all of them)
      7. Yes, there was more flexibility earlier in the pandemic, but Covid is treated like any other illness now. I think you can still use work time to get vaccinated/boosted.

    37. seeeeeps*

      1. How many PTO days do you get a year? 9 holiday/24 vacation/18 sick. You can also convert sick hours to vacation hours if you maintain a minimum of 30 days sick (at a ratio of 1 hour of vacation for every 3 hours of sick leave)
      2. Are they frontloaded/is it an honors system, or do you have to accrue? accrue
      3. Separate bank for sick, or all one bank? separate
      4. Use it or lose it, or accrue up to a max cap? max cap
      5. If max cap, what is that max cap? 48 days vacation. No max on sick time.
      6. Comp days? non-exempt can choose comp or overtime. exempt doesn’t get comp days officially but it’s pretty fast and loose depending on your supervisor
      7. Do you have to take sick/PTO for COVID? we do now. we got a separate bank prior to July 1 of this year

      (The time off benefits are one of the reasons I stay in this place!)

    38. Not today*

      Missouri

      1. 15 days of AL plus 10 floating holidays = 25 days total.
      2. Accrue
      3. Separate. SL is not earned. You take it when needed. If you have more than five consecutive days you need a doctors note.
      4. Accrue to a max cap
      5. Depends on years with the company. 0-3 is 80 hours. Up to 20 years it is 120 hours cap.
      6. Yes you can get comp days but have to go over 48 hours a week to accrue that. You can flex the following week for hours over 40.
      7. Take SL for Covid but you don’t earn it. You just take it. They offer a separate kind of leave for Covid vaccinations.

    39. lil falafel wrap*

      Los Angeles. 15 a year, it accrues. Separate bank from sick. Idk if it’s use it or lose it or max cap. We do get comp days, but it only comes up a few days a year from what I’ve seen. We have a separate leave bank for COVID.

    40. fhqwhgads*

      1. 20
      2. Frontloaded
      3. Separate, 10 sick
      4. Use it or lose it (but California, so payout for unused at year end)
      5. N/A
      6. Nope
      7. Separate bank, 10 for anything covid-related

    41. CatMintCat*

      I’m a teacher in Australia.

      1. How many PTO days do you get a year?
      20 paid holiday. 8 weeks “stand down” when school is not in session through the year.
      We can technically be called in to work in that time, but I’ve never known it happen. I do
      work on planning and PD through that time, but it is quite relaxed.
      15 days sick.
      4 days FACS (carer’s leave – my husband is having surgery in November, I will use some of
      this leave for that).
      Long Service Leave that starts to accrue after 7 years of full time employment. I currently
      have twelve weeks sitting in my bank.
      2. Are they frontloaded/is it an honors system, or do you have to accrue?
      Holidays just are. If school is closed, we’re on a break. Sick leave and FACS are front load
      pro-rata
      3. Separate bank for sick, or all one bank?
      Separate
      4. Use it or lose it, or accrue up to a max cap?
      Holidays – we have no say when we take holidays, so they don’t accrue at all.
      Sick – can accrue forever – I know older teachers with enough sick leave that they could be
      sick for two years on full pay. It was wonderful for me in 2019 – I had the best part of six
      months off for cancer treatment – all on full pay. One less thing to worry about at a very
      stressful time. If you use all your sick leave, you can dip into Long Service or the “Special
      Sick Leave” category, which I have no idea how it works.
      FACS – maximum four days. If you use it, it re-accrues over the next year.
      Long Service – accrues forever, but must be taken on retirement or paid out on separation.
      5. If max cap, what is that max cap? Not applicable.
      6. Comp days? No
      7. Do you have to take sick/PTO for COVID? Yes, which is annoying. Schools are petri
      dishes for most ailments, Covid is no different.

    42. EJ*

      mountain west

      1. 20 pto, plus 9 holiday days
      2. accrued but can go negative with approval
      3. all one
      4-. max cap 200 hours which is too low!!
      6. comp days… sometimes, if we bill 48 hours in a week during busy season we can take a non-pto day off in slow season
      7. yes

  31. Time for Tea*

    How do you know when you’re ready to be a mentor, and if you’ll be a good mentor?
    My company has a mentorship program that I could sign up for and I’d kind of like to, but my role and career path is also really different to what a lot of the mentees will be doing. My role is also one that touches almost everyone in the company, so everyone gets to hear my opinion anyways. Pairings are randomly assigned, and there’s not a good way to request who you want to be paired with. Would it be useful if I sign up? Should I sign up then ask the mentee if I’m the right fit for them?

    1. Web Crawler*

      As a person who’s been a mentee, the important part for me is that you know how to listen. The second most important part is that you can help me figure out things even if you don’t have all the information yourself. Actually, I prefer people who don’t think they have all the answers. It’s valuable to hear about the process for figuring it out, and if you know a lot of people at the company, your network itself is going to be valuable for a mentee. Knowing who might know the answer is often half the battle.

      The worst mentors I’ve had have been people who know all the answers and can’t listen. Those are the people who hear my question, say “don’t worry about that, just paint the teapot” when my question is actually where we keep the brushes. Unfortunately, people like that love being mentors. Hearing “I don’t know where they are, but John is the brush keeper” is much much better, and next time I have a related question, I’ll know where to go.

      1. Time for Tea*

        Thank you! This is such a helpful perspective! I’m guilty of talking too much, but I definitely know where the brushes are kept!

    2. OneTwoThree*

      I have a company-assigned mentor. This person isn’t in my ideal position (they aren’t in a similar department to mine). However, I have found them valuable. When it comes down to it, my manager is able to provide me with feedback that is directly related to my position. (I realize I’m lucky with a good manager.) My mentor is able to provide me with big-picture advice (how to be professional, how to network outside of my department, being a woman in a male-dominated industry, etc.).

  32. Nothing left to sell*

    I posted late last week and realized by the responses that there were some details missing that might change the advice. I’m a professor at a university with significant money troubles. There are strong hints from higher-ups that we may not survive past the year. I’m already planning to “go down with the ship,” so to speak, and my department would not be slated to be cut prematurely, so I’m employed as long as the university exists. But the knowledge that it might not is continuing to haunt me, sometimes to the point of distraction. Does anyone have advice for how to cope? I don’t have time during the semester to job hunt, and could rely on my spouse for a bit while I do.

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      Can you try framing it as it doesn’t matter?

      1. The decision is out of your hands.
      2. You already decided you will stay through the end.
      3. You already said you can’t job search now anyway.

      So it really doesn’t matter. Open/close – none of it changes anything for you.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        I agree. It doesn’t sound like the information would make a huge difference one way or the other – you won’t be able to do anything until the other shoe drops. So try to just let it go and do your job like you otherwise would, for now.

      2. ferrina*

        Also agree with this.

        You can start getting ducks in a row – get your finances in a place where you don’t have to worry about it while job hunting, saving any documents you might need, etc. Then find a way to let it go. Maybe invest some time in a hobby (I got to one point where I would have been relieved to be let go, because I was ready to invest some serious time in my hobby.)

    2. Nesprin*

      Get your ducks in a row assuming that your Univ goes down:

      Use your health benefits/schedule yearly appts
      Get essential documentation somewhere accessible if the computer systems go out- i.e. ordering lists, protocols, copies of papers, syllabi etc.
      Get anything easy out the door- papers you’ve been sitting on etc. Make sure your students do the same+ make sure you have a plan for graduating students if your university ceases to exist.
      Make sure you go to your discipline’s conference this year+ schedule time for networking at whatever forum your discipline uses for job searching.

      If you were in charge of the money, you’d have a very different todo list, but you aren’t.

  33. Mysteria456*

    Hello! I thought this would be a great question to ask the AAM community, and I’m sure it’s not the first time this question has been asked (so links to previous comments are fine!). I’m a first time mom with a 6 month old. I’ve been working from home since the pandemic, and luckily I am able to only go into the office occasionally. I have part time help 3 days a week, but the other 2 days I’m caring for him and working at the same time. (as best as I can at least). Any advice on how to keep my 6 month old occupied? (without relying too much on just turning on the tv). Any advice appreciated!
    TIA!

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Unfortunately, you’re at the cusp where you can’t take care of the baby and work at the same time because the baby needs too much attention. Get child care. If you can’t or don’t, then you won’t be able to work effectively and will either not get your work done, or you’ll have to work in the evenings or something when you do have child care or the baby is asleep.

      1. ferrina*

        Agree. It’s only going to get harder as the kid gets mobile, and you’ll find that you’re only able to work in 5-10 minute sprints or when the kid goes down for nap (which leaves you with absolutely no downtime, and I guarantee you will burn out). This isn’t sustainable, and most businesses actually have policies against this (for this exact reason). You may risk being fired. Find childcare for your working hours.

    2. Nikki*

      Seconding I’m A Little Teapot. There’s a reason most companies require parents to have separate child care lined up during working hours. Employers were understanding during the worst of the pandemic when parents had no other choice but as child care has become more available again they’re less willing to allow for this kind of thing. Toddlers are needy little monsters who can’t keep themselves entertained for long and will get into absolutely everything if given the chance. You’ll have a very hard time focusing on your job and caring for a toddler at the same time so you’ll need to either extend your child care hours or work with your employer to flex your work schedule around your child’s sleep schedule.

    3. Daffy*

      I’m really sorry but you can’t. Six month olds are simply not able to entertain themselves for long enough. Five to ten minutes would be the top limit. In addition, your employer may have conditions about you not having kids in your care while working from home, although you’ve probably already checked if this is the case.

      To give you an idea, I can only now get work done from home with my five year old, and only in an emergency if she’s sick and I can’t get care. And it involves a whole day of tv.

    4. Sunshine*

      Would working alternate hours be an option if full-time childcare is not? Maybe you can have someone watch the baby for 2-4 hours during the day, then you can do the other 4-6 hours of work when your spouse is home/when the baby is in bed/early in the morning before baby wakes up?

    5. Magpie*

      It’s really untenable to plan on kids keeping themselves entertained while you work as a long term solution. As others have said, it will be nearly impossible while your child is an older infant and toddler, but even once he’s older it’s still not likely to work for you. I work from home full time and have two kids, 4 and 8. When the four year old is home from school, I have to take the day off or find someone to watch him. There’s no way for him to keep himself entertained for that period of time. The eight year old can keep himself entertained during the occasional day off school, but for longer stretches like summer and winter breaks I send him to day camp. Most kids just aren’t capable of keeping themselves busy on their own for long stretches to the extent that you can do your job.

    6. California Dreamin’*

      Yeah, mom of three kids here, and unfortunately there is no way to keep a six month old occupied on their own. That won’t be possible for years. I was in online school (making a career change) when my two younger children were born, and I really could only do schoolwork during naps. My program was self-directed so I could go at my own pace, and from the point those babies came on the scene, it took me about twice as long to finish as it would have without them. Sorry, but working while doing childcare is simply not going to happen.

    7. pieces_of_flair*

      Agree with everyone else who says you can’t work while caring for a very young mobile child. I’m surprised there are companies that allow this.

    8. RagingADHD*

      You can get short bursts at a time from a Jolly Jumper. We used to put a bunch of toys on a chair close by and the baby could grab stuff. But you can’t leave them in there for long. It’s good for making dinner or cleaning the bathroom. Not extended concentration.

      Aside from that, naptime.

    9. Maree*

      Are your hours flexible? I did fill time school with a babe by getting up at 4 and working till 7, then again after lunch till 3 (combo nap/tv time) then evenings. Changing locations really helped. I could get short spurts in by taking the laptop outside, sandpit/trampoline kept toddlers amused for an hour or so – expect frequent interruptions. Sit them in a little ‘cubby’ under your desk with toys can buy a half hour. Sit at the table with them while they play with play dough or do crafts. I couldn’t have done a traditional 8 hours.

  34. Pam - and maybe Jim too*

    This is, I believe, mostly a me problem, but I need advice on how to handle it. I used to work in a three-person office. In early November of 2021, Angela took medical leave, and ended up being out until mid-March 2022. In the meantime, Kevin, our third staff member, retired, leaving me as the only employee actually in the office. Kevin’s retirement was anticipated, we had been teasing him about it for some time before his birthday, and he did stay until the end of the calendar year.
    Fast forward to this summer, and Angela employee is WFH one day a week, which is fine. It’s technically not allowed by our employer, but since it’s just the two of us at this location, she does things that require concentration and I handle the customer service that day. It’s kind of nice to have the office to myself one day a week, I get to pick the music, etc. Angela just told me that she is pregnant, and it’s multiples. Which means that, instead of the usual pregnancy appointments, she will have (at least) twice as many.
    And have I mentioned that my boss still hasn’t replaced Kevin? So I’m now doing the work of 2 employees, and sometimes 2 and a half, since part of our job is attending local events, which means setting up a booth, carrying boxes of stuff. While Angela can woman the booth, she can’t set it up or tear it down without assistance. Most of these events are evenings and weekends, and the schedule divided among 3 people is okay. “Divided” among 1 person, it is not.
    Here’s the thing: I don’t mind supporting Angela. I’m thrilled for her, and glad I’ll get to hold babies I can return. But I’m done with my boss, Michael, over this. He works in a different office, less than 30 minutes from this one, and I can count the number of times he’s been in this location in the past 12 months on one hand. I can count the number of times I’ve spoken to him on the phone or gotten an email from him in the last month on 2 hands, including times he’s called and asked to talk to Angela. These issues are, of course, their own letter.
    He’s been hemming and hawing (and hemming and hawing and hawing and hemming) for months over filling Kevin’s position. It hasn’t been posted because we don’t usually hire that way, but Angela and I have both suggested people who would be good at the job and that we could work with. Kevin has even suggested some possibilities. None are “right.” At this point, as far as I’m concerned, a pulse and the ability to carry things are all the right I need.
    This weekend, I will drag my kid out of bed at 6 a.m., load her in the car surrounded by boxes of stuff, and drive to this weekend’s event. She will help me set up the booth. We are leaving it set up and unattended because boss also scheduled us to be at another event Saturday afternoon. After afternoon event, I will drive back to the first place where I will stay at the booth until 9 p.m., then tear it down, load up the car, collect my child from a very understanding friend, and then I get to go home.
    When Michael was reminded that I’m doing the work of 2.5 people, his “solution” was to leave the first booth unmanned for most of the day. Which is great, but my magical abilities don’t reach far enough for me to set up and tear down the booth long distance.
    Short of a hiring Johnny Paycheck* to serenade the boss on my way out the door, any suggestions for how to handle this? Making these things his problem has not worked, since he simply comes up with solutions that don’t do anything to assist me. Due to what are essentially nice wooden handcuffs (because they sure aren’t anything close to gold, let alone silver), I can’t quit, and boss is aware of it. I also don’t want to leave Angela in the lurch, because she can’t run this office by herself right now.
    * He’s the one who sings Take This Job and Shove It.

    1. Colette*

      I think you need to be more clear. “I am currently doing all of the setup for the events, including more than one on the same day. I cannot continue doing that.”

      But you may have to quit; if you do, it is your boss who is leaving Angela in the lurch, not you.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      The best past advice I have seen here when you feel stuck in a bad place is to frame it as a choice. You hate your job, but you are staying until you have managed to pay off an outstanding debt, or get your savings to a certain level, or get the certificate you need, or be able to mark a long stay on your resume after a couple of brief bad jobs. You are choosing to do the thing for its long-range benefit to yourself, and this includes a plausible endgame where you in future leave the bad job, once you have accomplished your goal.

      You can quit. Maybe you can’t afford to do that with nothing lined up, but you can afford to look for something else. Framing this to yourself as completely non-negotiable and just what you’re stuck with, like a medieval serf, is going to be a very harmful frame of mind. (If the business shifts and someone up top decides to close your branch, do you think they or Michael will feel trapped by wooden handcuffs and unable to lay you and Angela off?)

      Don’t stay in a bad job out of the conviction that you must do so to save your coworkers. That’s not really in your power.

    3. ferrina*

      Leave. If you trust Angela, you may want to let her know, but you need to leave. Michael has no desire to fix the problem, since in his mind it’s not a problem (you’re taking care of it). You could try Return Pain To Sender and stop being available for extra work, but Michael may very well punish you for that (be ready for an uphill battle, and likely damage to your reputation for ‘not being a team player’. When I refused to work more than 60 hours, my boss criticized my efficiency and tanked my opportunity at a promotion a year later- a promotion which I was eminently qualified for).

      Side note- Multiples don’t actually mean twice as many appointments- they aren’t going to have different ultrasound appointments for each fetus. If there’s other concerns, that could increase the prenatal appointments. And Angela may still be cleared for manual labor of set up and take down- she and her doctor will know that. I was fully capable of all my normal physical activities throughout my pregnancies, and I was really, really annoyed at my colleagues who wouldn’t let me lift a 20lb box (cmon! I was already carrying more than that in my belly, and they thought I couldn’t lift 20lbs!). I can’t tell if Angela told you she couldn’t do it, but if she didn’t, don’t make assumptions, and defer to Angela on what her needs are.

      1. Velociraptor Attack*

        Just as an FYI, with multiples, you do have more appointments because having multiples automatically assigns your pregnancy as high risk. So yeah, Angela will likely have regular appointments twice as often (every other week instead of every four weeks at the beginning, etc.).

      2. Pam - and maybe Jim too*

        She has an ultrasound every 2 weeks, plus instead of regular monthly appointments (at this stage), she’s doing appointments every two weeks now. When a “normal” pregnancy switches to every other week appointments, she’ll be going every week, and they don’t expect her to carry them long enough to be stopping in for a 2/week appointment. In addition, she has multiple weekly appointments with another doctor to manage physical issues that may or may not be related to her pregnancy.
        And yes, no carrying stuff, no walking long distances. She has a new parking space in our building’s parking lot.
        We’ll both be thrilled* if she doesn’t get put on bed rest, and if she’s still in the office when she’s 30 weeks pregnant I’ll eat several people’s hats.
        *I may be more thrilled than she’ll be, since I’ll at least have someone else to help cover the phones, but it would be rude to say that. Honest, but rude.

    4. My+Useless+2+Cents*

      I don’t mean to be harsh but…It doesn’t sound like you’ve made things his problem, you’ve made him aware of the problem(s) then either made it happen anyway or caved into his “solution” which was not a solution at all. Refuse to do some of the events and let things slide in the office. When Michael complains that company wasn’t represented at Event A, tell him you were at Event B. When he comes back with “just leave it unmanned” ask him who was supposed to set it up because you were at Event B. Don’t just let him know there is a problem, make sure he *feels the consequences*.

    5. Hatchet*

      A few thoughts: 1 – are you hourly or salary? If hourly, I hope you’re getting all due overtime pay for all of these weekend events. If you’re salary, I’d only be working over 40 hours + whatever is within reason (whatever that looks like for you – a few extra hours a week, one weekend day a month…)
      2 – What do those extra hours look like for people in similar roles at other branches of your company? Surely they aren’t having to cover every single extra event. If the other office is about 30 mins away, those people can help cover your events.
      3 – I’d tell boss that you were happy to help cover for the past X months due to these circumstances, but that you’re unable to continue this moving forward. You are available for Y # of extra hours/events each month – how would he like you to spend that time? Put it back on him. And then if events don’t get covered, they don’t get covered – this includes setting up/tearing down booths. Make it his problem in that sense. And confirm via email “I will be at Z event on this date, but will not be at W event. Who do I need to brief on this?” Get that documentation. Start setting limits on your time and stick with it (b/c he’ll likely assume you’ll keep covering it all). If anything just tell your boss that, respectfully, you have set plans that are unmovable and you aren’t able to cover that event. (He doesn’t need to know that those set plans are you on the couch or unmovable quality time with your daughter.) If he comes up with another solution that doesn’t do anything to assist you, then go back to him “this does not work for me. what other solutions do you propose?” If he is the kind of boss who will ignore emails until after the fact, then start proposing a solution and giving him a reasonable deadline for response: “This is what I suggest. I welcome any feedback you have. If I don’t hear back from you by EOD Tuesday, I will go with the plan listed above.”
      4 – With this time you’re getting back, brush up your resume. You’ve gone above and beyond for the past year, there’s likely some awesome things you’ve done or skills you’ve picked up that you can add to your cover letter and resume.
      5 – You mention that Angela can cover events, but can’t set up/tear down the booth. Are there events where you know the host has extra people to help carry materials? (I’m thinking college career fairs and the like.) Or can Angela call some of these hosts and ask if they have anyone available to help her move boxes and set up/tear down? (Because OF COURSE they’ll help her.) It’s another step for her, but it would be odd if you made those calls.
      Good luck!

    6. RagingADHD*

      Job hunt. And under no circumstances should you have your 6 year old child working to help set up this event.

      Not only is that profoundly unfair to your child, it’s violating all kinds of labor laws. Tell your boss that if he doesn’t show up, it’s not going to happen, because you are physically unable to do it.

    7. asteramella*

      Taking you at your word that you can’t quit—but he can’t really fire you either, because he doesn’t want to hire Kevin’s replacement, let alone your replacement.

      What would happen if you started saying things are impossible when they are, and just … declining to do them?

      You: “Hey, I’m scheduled to do 2 events on Saturday, which is not possible. Which one should I do, X or Y?”
      Michael: “Ummm, do both. Just leave the X booth unattended and work the booth at Y.”
      You: “I’m not able to do setup, teardown, and travel between the two locations, so I’ll need to either do X or Y, not both. Which one would you like me to do?”
      Michael: “But I want to do both.”
      You: “That is not possible. I am unable to do both. Which one would you like me to do?”

      He’ll either get motivated to hire a replacement or he’ll realize that you will only be doing the work of 1 person and that he will only get 1 person’s worth of work out of you.

      1. RagingADHD*

        It’s a good point that he can’t afford to fire you if he is unwilling to go through the process to hire anyone.

      2. Manchmal*

        My thought as well. Your boss can’t afford to lose you— the only person who can reliable do all the work. You might even tell him: “ I realized that in killing myself to keep the ship moving, I haven’t given you an Accurate picture of the amount of work we have versus the available labor. I’m massively burning out, and on the advice of my doctor, I’m going to stick with my normal hours / the hours I worked when we were fully staffed. Hopefully this will make our staffing needs more apparent.”

  35. Blueberry Jazz*

    There was a voluntary layoff at my company. We of course don’t know who’s affected outside of our team, except for a few cases when a satellite office location is closed. Colleagues in the HQ I know but aren’t in regular touch with disappear without a word. Stressful times.
    There’s a distant colleague I spent some time with outside of work when I visited his location on holiday. I know he’s been laid off because they are closing the office location. Can you help me with a script to reach out to him?

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      Can’t give a script without knowing why are you reaching out to him. Just to say sorry you got laid off? Offer assistance of some kind?

      I will also add that someone who was spared in layoffs contacting someone who lost their job can be a kick in the teeth. I know for me hearing sorry bout the job from someone still employed would not be welcome.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Edit as needed:

      Hi [name],

      I’m sorry to hear that the [location] office is closing and that you are leaving [company]. I enjoyed visiting you in [location] [last winter/whenever it was] and working with you on [project(s) – if applicable]. I hope we can keep in touch. Here are my contact details: [LinkedIn/personal email/phone # – however you want to keep in touch].

      Wishing you all the best!

      If it would make sense, you could also offer to be a reference for him during his job search.

    3. Colette*

      “Hi Colleague, I was sorry to hear that your office is closing. I hope you’re able to find something good! If there is anything I can do to help, my personal email is me@myemail.com.”

  36. EA with no ED*

    I need to get some outside perspective on whether something is reasonable or if I am right in feeling weird about it. I’m an EA at an organization with no ED, and while the search for a new person happens it was decided that the remaining leadership team will just work more instead of trying to do something like get a board member to act as interim ED. Didn’t seem like a sustainable plan to me (it will be months until we get a new person in the position), but, hey — not my decision to make. Then I was told that each leadership member is getting $500 extra a week in compensation. I am all for compensating people fairly for their work, and I’m not saying they don’t deserve that, but a lot of the work is ending up in my hands (and I’m expected to get it done in my regular amount of time, as I’m hourly and they don’t like to pay OT). So this is just rubbing me the wrong way and I don’t quite know how to feel about it. For context, I make around $700 a week.

    I guess my question is what, if anything, is appropriate for me to do? I was already considering drafting a more inquisitive email that’s framed more as ” I’d love to learn more about the decision-making process that went into this interim plan” (because I think asking an already stretched thin staff even thinner is a Bad Idea) and maybe even going so far as to ask what other solutions were considered. Now I’m wondering if I would be justified to try to ask for compensation as well, even though I am technically not working more hours, just being run ragged in the same time frame.

    Do I just keep my mouth shut and wait to see if the new ED improves things? I had really thought a lot of the issues I have with leadership here would be improved by the old ED leaving, but remaining leadership has already made multiple decisions that don’t sit right with me (the above is just the example that impacts me the most). Do I give up on any hope that anything will change and just move on without waiting to see how a new ED will be? I do really enjoy working with most of the staff here and there still are a lot of people trying to work to make things better… just not, it seems, in leadership.

    1. ferrina*

      I’d focus on the impact rather than the strategy. Handle this the same way you would if you were overloaded for any other reason.

      First, figure out what all your priorities are and how long they take. And they take however long they take- don’t rush it or run yourself ragged. Then clearly communicate your bandwidth to the leadership- “I’ve realized that in order to complete the combined tasks, I would need to work 50 hours this week.”
      Know what you are willing to do or not do. How much overtime are you comfortable with? If you are willing to do the overtime: “I’m happy to do the overtime so I can get all this done, but obviously I want to check with you on what course of action I should take. Would you like me to do overtime as needed (up to 55 hours), or would you like me to prioritize certain tasks and you will re-delegate the other tasks?”
      Or if you don’t want the overtime: “Unfortunately I’m not able to commit to more than 40 hours each week. Please let me know what you would like me to focus on!”

      And be very clear about the things that Won’t Get Done. At OldJob, I’d regularly have this conversation with a certain VP.
      VP: Can you take care of Massive Project by Friday? Thanks!
      Me: I can take care of that, but I won’t be able to complete Critical Document. Would you still like me to work on Massive Project knowing that Critical Document won’t get done, or would you like me to continue working on Critical Document and someone else will work on Massive Project?
      That return-to-sender conversation was magical in getting me more resources and/or an actually reasonable workload.

    2. Zephy*

      If you can’t just bounce, then try letting some plates drop. Be realistic about the time you can devote to what is being asked of you. That you’re being asked to do 60 hours of work in 40 hours’ time is not your problem to solve.

    3. BRR*

      I think you’re more than justified to also ask for compensation. Say that with the interim plan in place, you’re handling these tasks on top of your own and would like additional compensation as other are receiving to handle the additional work load. I would be prepared to answer if a they offer is something like 5 hours of overtime a week. Would you want that? The other option could be to propose having a certain number of overtime hours approved a week until a new ed is hired.

  37. just wondering what's out there*

    Updating my resume. What’s the right verb for handling budgets? Do I administer a budget? Oversee a budget? It’s a small part of my current job so not currently on my resume but, based on job postings, potentially a larger part of the work I’m trying to get into.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Depends on the lifecycle. Do you write the budget before the year/project starts? Or do you just manage expenditures (set timing, flag over-budget items, etc.) to the budget over its lifetime?

      I think you want “write” or “develop” for the first case, and “manage” for the second.

      1. just wondering what's out there*

        Thank you! I do not write the budget, I am given the budget and ensure we stay within it.

  38. New Mom*

    Hi, I am pregnant and had planned to tell my boss today. However, I just found out her sister had a very traumatic and early birth with her daughter (my boss’s niece) yesterday. She’s in the NICU for the foreseeable future. I want to be sensitive and not share today. But how long should I wait? A week? Two? Until the baby is out of NICU? Thanks! I’m bursting to announce.

    1. EMP*

      I wouldn’t wait on the sister but waiting a week or so for your boss’s news to be less recent sounds very kind of you. When you tell her I’d just try to be matter of fact and brief about your own announcement and maybe do it over chat or email so if your boss has a lot of feelings about it, they can have them in private.

      1. ferrina*

        Agree. Don’t wait until the baby is out of the NICU, because that can vary wildly based on what the circumstances were. I’d wait a couple weeks before saying anything.

        Really like EMP’s advice to be matter of fact and brief. I would do it in person (if you work in person) or in the usual way you communicate with your boss. Then give your boss space to feel what they feel- their personal emotions may be fluctuating as their personal situation changes.

    2. Fluffy Fish*

      These situations are hard because there’s no right answer.

      Bursting to announce indicates you want to tell because you’re excited vs telling so plans can start being made for your inevitable absence.

      Given the circumstances, if I were in your shoes, I would wait for one of 2 things, either it was going to become visually obvious that I was pregnant or there was a business need to share. I’d also probably state it more matter of fact vs they way I would tell a friend excitedly.

      Regardless of what you decide, know you aren’t responsible for how your boss feels. A decent boss will be professional.

    3. Eldritch Office Worker*

      How far along are you? How important to work operations is it that your boss know right now? Is your boss out of the office dealing with this?

      It would be kind to wait until the situation has resolved, unless there’s a business need to start planning your leave now. Also, do other people in your office know? If it’s office gossip and your boss will find out through the grapevine, would you be upset if that happened?

    4. Less Bread More Taxes*

      When are planning on taking maternity leave, and realistically how much time would your boss need in order to arrange for cover for you?

    5. New Mom*

      Oh wow, I realize I left out a lot of pertinent information in my haste to post! I’ve been diagnosed with severe hyperemesis gravidarum, and I’ve had to make numerous emergency OB triage visits for treatment and check-ups.

      I’m running out of reasonable excuses as to why I’m so sick, and I really feel like my work is beginning to suffer. I’m 3 months along, but because it’s HG, I could be experiencing this throughout the entire pregnancy.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        That sounds like something your boss needs to know. I think give it the weekend, but you’re fine checking in anytime next week. I know you’re excited but if at all possible maybe try to keep your tone more straightforward than ecstatic for this meeting – though with other people at your company you can be much more excited of course. Congratulations! I’m sorry you’re having a rough pregnancy.

        1. Velociraptor Attack*

          I think this is absolutely the way to go. It’s unfortunate timing but there’s a business reason your boss needs to know.

          You could, if you think it’s appropriate based on your relationship, include some language after you tell your boss about how you understand it might be a sensitive subject right now but with the issues you’ve been having, you wanted her to be aware.

      2. lost academic*

        That does entirely change the tone of your need to inform your boss. It definitely came across as “bursting to share exciting news which could fall flat with NICU baby in the forefront of Boss’ mind” to “ongoing work disruption information”. You can of course leave out the pregnancy information when talking to your boss to be overly cautious and just say at this time it’s a new chronic health condition that impacts your work as X Y and Z. You can also inform HR to cover your bases. And you can postpone telling your boss it’s pregnancy related for a little bit – not forever, since it’s not likely to be covert too much longer – but maybe to get through the personal crisis time.

        1. New Mom*

          Thanks, everyone! My bursting to announce is less I’m so excited and more that I’m literally bursting with vomit at least 5 times a day. Which I know is so so so gross. But I don’t feel like I can physically hold in the news that much longer given the frequency of my ER visits.

  39. KoalaTea*

    Anyone have advice on using Microsoft Milestones for project management and QMS application? I’ve recently learned about this app and find it intriguing as it seems to do what I wish MS Planner did, but on a multi-project scale.

  40. Gatomon*

    I could be acting prematurely, but it seems like the WFH situation at my company is about to end. My boss has been scheduling “lunches” in the office this summer to get us to show up. Corporate has been making noise about the company culture – far as I can tell it’s being impacted more by the poor raises this year and chronic overworking than people not being in their seats. When I come in, what I hear from other groups is that they’re very unhappy and various people have quit and their positions aren’t getting advertised. Now the boss has sent a cryptic meeting invite about WFH changes for next week. My company was very stodgy pre-pandemic and up until they tried to get us back in fall 2020 and everyone got covid, but I guess it’s “over” now.

    For many reasons – physical health (not just covid though that’s a big concern, I have a chronic illness exacerbated by exposure to things from commuting like air pollution, dust, etc.), mental health, the poor cube farm setup, feeling overworked and underappreciated – I really don’t want to go back to full-time in-office work. I’m willing to do 2 days a week, max. So, I think I need to brush up my resume this weekend.

    The only thing that’s giving me hesitation is that I’ve had a lot of Life things happen already this year, culminating in my mom suddenly dying, and my capacity to deal with changes is pretty much… nil. I’m not sure I have the capacity to deal with job hunting or adjusting to a new job, and I can’t afford to flame out. Going back into the office is a change, but it’s probably less of a change than a whole new job. But WFH allows me to take breaks as I need and that’s been helping me cope quite a bit.

    So my question is… should I even invest energy in job hunting right now? Or just sit tight, try to roll with whatever punches come and plan on starting a search in the spring when I’m hopefully feeling a little more resilient?

    1. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      You don’t have to expend a ton of energy just to look at postings, give your resume a dust-off, and see what’s out there. It costs you nothing and, in my experience, it pays dividends in peace of mind just having that visual confirmation that yes, there are other opportunities out there. I’m sorry to hear about your mom. Best of luck to you.

      1. Gatomon*

        Thanks, that is a good point. It doesn’t take much to look around. It’s been ~6 years since I’ve even touched my resume I think so it could definitely use some updates regardless.

        1. Plumbum*

          I like to update my CV every year at annual appraisal time. I’m already thinking about accomplishments so it feels like a good time, and means if I want to apply to something on a whim it’s recent enough to send off.

          1. Gatomon*

            We don’t have formal appraisals… at best you get a quick meeting with your boss in January where they tell you your raise for the year and are supposed to give feedback. Both of my meetings the last few years have been interrupted by my boss having to take a call from some other manager and ending things.

            This suits me fine though as I hate appraisals and STAR and all that nonsense. I’ve no interest in management and improvement is just skills and training, which basically happen on your own time here.

    2. Qwerty*

      How inclined are you to leave this job if there weren’t WFH changes until spring? Your comment about being overworked and underappreciated sounds separate from the whole in-office thing.

      Personally, I would have a passive job hunt. Casually browse job postings, but not be on the hunt. Update the resume when I feel like it, maybe not all in one go. Create a base template cover letter on a day I’m feeling motivated so its easier to generate one when a good job comes up. It really reduces how intimidating the process is and uses up less energy. When a job surfaces that excites/motivates you, go for it! Inching your way out can make the present feel more bearable, even if you only have a toe out the door.

      In the meantime – see what your boss has to say about the new WFH policy. It might be that they are switching to hybrid rather than full time on site. Most of the hybrid jobs that recruiters send me are 2days in office, 3 days WFH. Think about what would make those in office days feel more useful and bearable to you. Is it easier to have them more spaced out as Mon/Thurs so you have time to recover or packed together Tues/Wed so you do it all at once? Can you block out some recovery time to sleep in a little the day after an in office day, or take a longer lunch break on in-office days, or maybe rebalance your hours so in-office days are slightly shorter?

      I get that it feels sucky to be pulled back into the office and it sounds like your company might not handle it well. Feel free to disregard this paragraph if it isn’t helpful. For your own sanity, one way to look at the in office days is forging human connection. Bad hybrid plan: have people randomly show up for 2 days a week with zero coordination and everybody spends the day on zoom anyway. Good hybrid plan: coordinate the in-office schedule so people who work together are there together and having in-person discussions with managers rotating their schedule so everybody gets face time/opportunities. You can build on this by maybe trying to coordinate your in office schedule with a coworker that you like so you enjoy water cooler breaks

      1. Gatomon*

        I’ve been debating things prior to this, honestly. I really like what I do and all that I get to do at this job, and pay/benefits/city/hours are all good. I don’t love the people I work with, but I don’t hate them. I’m not opposed to working the office, sometimes I do need to go in and accomplish tasks, and I’ve been fine with doing that as needed. I just prefer to be able to plan out “okay, on Thursday I’m going in and spending the afternoon on x, y, and z” vs “well I need to be there Tuesday and Wednesday because corporate said so” and doing nothing that requires being there, and then Friday I’m headed back in because something came up that can’t wait for next Tuesday.

        We tried hybrid briefly in the summer of 2020, and I didn’t like it. Because schedules had to be staggered due to covid, it was pretty much just sitting alone in the office on Zoom and waving my hands to keep the lights on. Even when my coworkers were there, I noticed I lost a lot of productivity to distractions from others either talking to me or talking around me. This was a struggle pre-covid, and I’d bought noise-canceling headphones to try and cope. A coworker had a Costco-sized bag of earplugs.

        Unfortunately they’ve reorganized the office space since then and it’s actually more noisy than it was pre-pandemic. The thought was that us teapot engineers would be able to assist the help desk by sitting next to them, but frankly, I don’t have time to help them, they’ve all been here for years and ought to have a clue what they’re doing by now, and the noise from the constant phone calls/chatter really impacts my ability to concentrate and engineer teapots. My team pretty much works solo on our individual teapot projects so aside from training/questions/issues, there’s not a lot of collaboration beyond sending someone a spreadsheet and a quick chat for questions. Part of my team works in other cities/offices so we’ve always had to be on the phone/Zoom for all meetings. The “drive in and sit in the office on Zoom next to each other” energy is real. It wasn’t uncommon to have to IM a person next to you because they had headphones on pre-pandemic.

        Part of my frustration recently is probably also because when I have come in, I run into groups that are more in-office and hear how upset they are. Corporate is worried about culture, but the culture is failing because of issues that fall in their lap (pay, need to hire more folks, constant reorgs) not because we’re not sitting in the cube farm together. But there’s no feedback method, and since it’s not my workgroup it’s not really my business to offer my 2 cents to the powers that be. We need more people, but my boss doesn’t want to hear it, so I don’t see a point of making a case for that.

  41. When to go*

    How much notice do you think teachers should give with the shortage being so severe right now? I am an elementary school, special education teacher and planning to leave after winter break, so 3 months from now, and am trying to figure out how soon to let them know. In my experience, its usually expected to give a month, but I know some schools are taking a really long time to even find applicants for open teaching jobs. A friend of mine who works at a school in the same district has had a position open at her school for 4 months and administrators have been having to cover the class since they can’t even find substitutes. I feel like ideally I should have told them at the start of the school year so they could plan accordingly, but I didn’t know that I would be leaving. I don’t want to leave them in a bad position, but I can see some downside to letting them know too early, like someone being hired quickly and I have to leave before I have a new job. Any thoughts?

    1. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Do you have a natural break point somewhere in October, like a fall break or professional development day? I think that’s what I’d aim for.

    2. Former teacher*

      A teacher leaving in the middle of the year *is* leaving the school in a bad position. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t leave! Do what you have to do. But I wouldn’t pretend that it’s not going to put them in a pretty tough situation. I would advise giving as much notice as possible. With the current job market for teachers, especially the fact that special education is often one of the hardest specialties to fill, it strikes me as extremely unlikely they’ll force you out sooner.

    3. Mid*

      Given how severe the shortage is of teachers in general, and especially specialized teachers doing special education, I’d probably tell them sooner rather than later. Do you have a new job lined up officially, or are you still job hunting? A lot of jobs won’t want to wait for 3+ months for someone new to join the team, except in some pretty rare circumstances.

    4. Irish Teacher*

      Honestly, it’s not unusual for schools to have to fill vacancies mid-year. Heck, it’s extremely common and if it’s something like somebody getting seriously ill, they get no notice at all. In the three weeks our school has been back, we have had somebody leave fairly unexpectedly because she got another job and two teachers are going out on maternity leave (obviously there was some notice for those, though one took sick leave or something leaving up to her maternity leave, so we’re in a bit of limbo as there is reluctance to fill the position before the official start of her maternity leave), so we have three vacancies to fill this month. I am guessing the maternity leaves are likely to last most of the year – even if they only take the minimum six months, it would be April before they are back, so I would guess they’ll take a few weeks unpaid, so they don’t have to return until next September.

      Is it an incovenience for the school? Sure. Is it a big deal? Not at all. That’s just how things are.

      Would you really have to leave if they found somebody else quickly? Surely, the person’s job wouldn’t start until after your last day even if they were found earlier. Here, they wouldn’t be holding the interviews as soon as you told them anyway. They might advertise, but that would just mean longer for the CVs to come in and to choose who to interview.

    5. Generic Name*

      My son’s 4th grade teacher left mid-year. I don’t think she even waited for winter break. The school had to scramble to find a long-term sub and then hire the replacement. But the main problem was how it negatively impacted the children. They were really left in the lurch, and I’m sure more than a few blamed themselves. As a parent, I would respectfully request that you try to time your departure at the end of the year if at all possible. Of course, don’t put your physical or mental health in jeopardy, but if it’s just “more convenient” for you, I encourage you go wait if you at all possibly can.

      1. Gracely*

        It sounds like the “when they are leaving” is already decided. What they want help with is “when to inform”. There are a lot of reasons people need to leave a job that also have nothing to do with their own physical/mental health (spouse is getting new job, family needing help, etc.), and they have every right to leave at the time that works for them.

        Teachers already give so much of themselves that it seems rather callous for any parent to tell them to delay their exit when everyone in every other job is told to leave when it is best for them.

      2. Hi, I’m Troy McClure*

        You have no idea how hard things are for teachers these days. They are worn out to the brink because parents demand they give everything to the kids, and expect them to live with incredibly weak compensation for it. A person can leave their job whenever they want, and it’ll be an adjustment for the kids, but honestly? Adjustment is a part of life.

      3. Irish Teacher*

        To be fair, generally when people are leaving, it’s either for another job or retirement or due to some personal circumstances. I doubt it’s that often that people have control over the timing and certainly, I think most teachers would prefer to wait until the end of the year, but if…say, they are leaving because they have been offered the role of principal elsewhere, they have to leave when that job starts.

        And think if the teacher had become ill or got pregnant or something, the kids would have the same adjustment. Yes, adjusting to a new teacher mid-year can be tough, but it’s not THAT big a deal and it’s a fairly regular thing. When I was in 4th class (9-10 years old), we had a student teacher for a month, while our teacher sat at the back an supervised, then a couple of months later, our teacher went out on maternity leave and we had a sub for about 4 months (this was 30 years ago, so maternity leave wasn’t what it is today). In 6th class, we also had a sub while our teacher was on maternity leave. I would doubt any kid goes through school without having either a mid-year change of teacher or a sub covering a large part of a year at SOME point. That’s just part of life.

        I can’t imagine why any child would blame themselves. There is nothing to blame themselves for. The only way I could see that was if something or somebody made them feel the teacher left because they were bad. In that case, the fault is really with the school for not saying, “Miss X has gotten a great new job in Y school/is going to college to get an extra qualification so she’ll be an even BETTER teacher when she comes back/is having a baby is going to stay home to mind it.” Of course, if she were injured suddenly or something, I can see the school not wanting to scare kids by telling them, but it doesn’t sound like that was the case, so I would really blame the lack of information rather than the teacher leaving if kids were left feeling they did something wrong.

      4. When to go*

        It has nothing to do with convenience. For various reasons I am unable to stay later than winter break, and waiting until the end of the school year would mean staying an additional 6 months which just isn’t doable. The school has many different things they do to help prepare children for a change in teacher, and the parents will know about it as well. In a perfect world I would finish out the year with my class, but it’s not possible for me to stay on that much longer. I feel bad that I need to leave mid year, but people leave jobs for many reasons that have nothing to do with convenience, and in most cases they aren’t able to delay that departure by 6 months.

    6. Rara Avis*

      My husband got a teaching job last January that had been empty/covered by subs since the previous teacher left in September. It’s taking a long time to fill openings, so if you are willing to notify early, go for it.

      In our area your license renewal can be threatened by not fulfilling your contract.

      1. When to go*

        That isn’t the case here. At the school I work at, we don’t actually have contracts saying that we will stay for the full year (I work in a private school so they do some things a bit differently and things are treated more like other jobs where either party can end employment at any point) and because my reason for leaving is something outside of my control, I would have to leave regardless.

        It seems like the answer is to tell them early, so I will do that. Thank you!

    7. Glazed Donut*

      I taught in a few private schools. The main line: anyone leaving any job is never convenient, so there’s no winning in trying to be a “don’t want others to feel any pain” in a teacher leaving.
      In one school, I let the admin know in March that I wouldn’t be returning for the fall since I had accepted another position. The next three months were a combination of awkward and vindictive based on individual’s thoughts about my departure. I wish I had waited, but I couldn’t because contracts were due. Lesson learned: don’t think that the more time automatically = better/nicer from your side. In my case, the school hired someone in May and then canceled that contract and hired someone else in July.
      The other school: I let the school know over the summer that I wouldn’t be coming back in six weeks for the start of the year. They filled the position just fine, and were a bit snarky (disabled all my accounts within hours of me telling them).

      Teachers, for too long, are trying to thread an impossible needle. Do what is best for you. If parents had their way, they’d get to select the exact teacher who is with their kids for exact amounts of time and they’d be able to determine grades and curriculum. That sounds crazy because it is. Don’t let a parent who cares about *their number one* (aka their kid) stop you from doing what is best for YOU.

  42. YMMV here*

    I got an interview for an internal job I was really excited about, but a few things gave me pause. First, they required a virtual interview as the first step even though I’m an internal candidate (in a different department) and normally my company does HR phone screens as the first step. I got invited to another interview. The recruiter said that team had a particular way of doing things and limited availability, and then offered one slot 4 business data later, for a 3+ hour virtual interview that appeared to have no breaks, though I would be meeting with 3 sets of interviewers (I’ve never seen more than HR, the hiring manager, and in one case colleagues, so that’s also not typical for my company). She didn’t ask about my availability, just asked if I could make that slot. I could, so I agreed to it. The job is for an individual contributor role one level more senior than I am now, with 3 years of experience required. HR contacted me this morning to cancel the interview, explaining that the role would be filled internally (internal to the team I guess?). Am I off base to suspect the culture in that department might be problematic?

      1. ferrina*

        Agree, that sounds a bit funky. There may be legit reasons for why they do it that way; if so, they should explain what’s going on.

        1. YMMV here*

          Yeah, I won’t find out now, but one thing that pinged my radar was the lack of information coming my way. It felt like them inspecting a tool sitting on a shelf rather than a two-way business conversation.

  43. My+Useless+2+Cents*

    Awkward situation: I realized this week that I had a response from a company on a job search platform I’ve been ignoring over the summer. The message was asking to set up a video interview. Here’s the thing, it was from back in July.

    I checked the company website and they were still advertising the position so I responded with “I’m so sorry I missed your message” and I’m still looking if you are willing to talk. The company responded that they were still looking for that position and another related position and gave me an email. I was going to email this weekend with my resume but I’m struggling with wording. How do I respond back? I am only interested in remote positions (which they indicated was doable in the July message) but I have no problems going to their location for training. Do I mention this? Should I ask about setting up an interview or treat this more like they threw out everything from July and this is just a do-over (“cover letter” & resume) contact situation?

    I’m thinking:
    I have 20 years of experience in the llama grooming industry. I am most experienced with washing llamas and very knowledgeable of the federal codes and regulations that go along with that side of the industry. I have familiarity with the different methods and most common techniques of drying llamas. The past several years, I have been creating llama grooming proposals that focus on complete llama grooming packages using specifications and detail drawings.
    I would love to speak with you about a remote Sr. Llama Grooming Estimator position. My schedule is typically flexible so with a little notice I can usually make any time Monday-Thursday work. (contact info) Thank you, My Useless 2 Cents

    1. Mid*

      I wouldn’t mention anything about remote work or training yet, or scheduling unless the contact you had said it to email this person/address to set up an interview/phone screen, not just submit your resume, and I’d send a new resume and cover letter as if it was an entirely new hiring process, since it’s been a few months and it sounds like it’s about a new job (as well as the one you were previously in touch about.)

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Treat it like they threw everything out. I think your example is good, just swap the llamas for solid examples with details. Maybe add a line about some of your previous experience achievements.

      I’d also consider taking out the remote and waiting for the interview to ask about the ratio of in-person vs remote if that’s not a deal breaker for you in your search.

      (Unrelated I’m so confused about the obsession with llamas in the comment section every single time. Peeps there’s 6,000 fake career options why llamas????)

      1. My+Useless+2+Cents*

        Thanks, I will replace the last bit with some specifics.

        and, I went with llamas *because* it is so used on this board.

  44. Hi, I’m Troy McClure*

    I’m really struggling in my current role – it’s a short-term contract that is focused on a project that is realistically way too big for one person to do, although no one listens when I try to explain. I’m getting more and more depressed and finding it harder to focus, which makes it harder to get the project done. My mind is going to irrational places and I’m starting to second guess everything I do. There is not long left on the contract, so I will just try to finish what I can, but how do I survive in the meantime? I can’t afford to quit until I have something lined up, but am so burned out that it’s hard to job search on the side.

    1. Mid*

      How much longer is your contract?

      This is really difficult, but I think the best advice would be to try and care less about the work. Which is obviously easier said than done! And I’m a chronic over-care-r, so I know it’s not just flipping a switch to stop caring about things. Try to set small, manageable goals for each day/week, and ignore the stuff you can’t complete. Figure out what you reasonably can do with your remaining time, and then make that your new goal, regardless of what the Official Project is, and focus on your new goals and not on everything that can’t be done. Also, when you aren’t at work, make an active effort to not think about work, don’t check emails or engage with work issues outside of your working hours.

      And instead of trying to job hunt, try reaching out to your network to see if anyone knows of openings that would be a good fit and screen those before applying. That can help since you don’t have to spend the time looking through hundreds of terrible postings to find ones you like. You can also see if there are any recruiters you’d like to work with.

      1. Hi, I’m Troy McClure*

        A few weeks. Which seems like a little, but I’m terrified of getting fired/not getting a great reference from them/just making life harder in general. Essentially, that this job will be a blot on my Permanent Record, lol.

        I have awful anxiety and it’s just getting worse each day. Basically, any setback immediately jumps to Life Ruined in my mind.

        1. Mid*

          Ahh gotcha. I think then the best thing is to form new goals and deadlines, and focus on those instead of the official ones that are impossible. This will not be a permanent blot on your record! If asked about it, you can explain that the timeframe you were given was not adequate to complete the scope of the project, but you achieved X, Y and Z during your tenure, and then talk about other successful projects.

    2. My+Useless+2+Cents*

      I totally relate to the burn out and depression fog that sets in that just makes everything so much harder. Forcing myself to start job searching was a big help for several reasons. 1) I was taking steps (minor, sure, but forward steps) and that was motivating. 2) It allowed me to see light at the end of the tunnel. 3) It allowed me to stop over-caring about a company that wasn’t trying to support me back. Once I stopped caring so much about the company, I stopped putting so much pressure on myself to go above-and-beyond for the job. I hit my 8 hours and stop working, I don’t stress (so much) if not everything gets done on time, I refuse to even think of work outside the office. It wasn’t an overnight cure, but it has been helping.

    3. Silence*

      Is there any chance of them extending the contract to finish the project? If so would you be interested in doing so? Can you create a roadmap / project plan with realistic timelines so that you or the next person can continue?

  45. Not liking my new boss*

    Not really a question, but I needed to share this:

    As you can figure out for my name, I´m job hunting. I´m writing this just after an interview that I feel went really well (every good vibe you can send me is welcomed).

    I used the “magic question” for the interviewers and I saw how both of them put a smile when they heard it, then gave me a nice realistic overview of the work and I think it is a good fit for me, so fingers crossed.

    1. Sydney Ellen Wade*

      I’ve used the “magic question” and got positive responses, as well. Sending out good vibes for your job search!

      1. Hlao-roo*

        The “magic question” is:

        Thinking back to people who have been in this position previously, what differentiated the ones who were good from the ones who were really great?

  46. Qwerty*

    Looking for help on easy hot lunch ideas for remote work? Dinner leftovers haven’t worked – I don’t really cook much so they usually aren’t available or aren’t things that microwave well. The few leftovers that are functional are really carb based. I tend to have mid-day meetings so my lunch break can be very short or non-existant. What do normal people do for lunch at home?

    I’m open to making things ahead of time in a big batch that reheat well, ordering extra entrees when I do take out, or even easy dinners that produce good leftovers. I think one of my main problems is that the stuff I try doesn’t do well being microwaved (meat dries out, fish has issues, etc).

    I feel so silly asking this! I’ve been spoiled by multiple jobs where lunch was provided or had an on-site subsidized cafeteria so lunch wasn’t really my responsibility. Now that I’m fully remote and more sedentary I’m realizing that my high carb lunches aren’t going to work long term.

    Things that have worked
    – Chicken fried rice (ordered as extra entree when getting takeout)
    – Pizza (leftovers)
    – Stir fry noodles (made ahead on the weekend, feeds me all week)
    – Spaghetti (leftovers)

    Things that haven’t worked
    – Sandwiches (so bored of them, plus its more of a cold-lunch)
    – Salad
    – Soup (this is my main dinner option)

    1. Higher Ed Kitten Party*

      I batch-make breakfast burritos and freeze them, and eat them for lunch. Its the only thing I never get sick of! I like scrambled eggs, potatoes, roasted veggies, and cheese. I take it out when I make my coffee, then by the time lunch rolls around it is thawed enough that it only takes 1-2 minutes in the microwave.

    2. SameSame*

      I went through a phase where I was basically testing out all the microwave entrees from my supermarket. I’d buy some when they were on sale, and try a different brand when those others went on sale. I found some I reliably enjoyed and try to keep some around. It’s not for every day, though.

      I also like keeping a bag of pre-cooked frozen chicken patties around. Microwave for 2 minutes, slap in a bun, and it’s a hot lunch.

      I eat a pretty good variety of fresh foods for dinners, so I’m not too fussed about healthfulness of my lunches, though ;)

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I do the chicken patties too. Also, you can put one of them on a bowl of pasta with some sauce and cheese and call it a poor man’s chicken parmigiana :)

        If you’re willing to cook ahead — lasagne, mac and cheese, chili, all freeze REALLY well in single-serve portions, grab one out of the freezer first thing in the morning and then just zap it for a couple minutes at lunchtime. Meat loaf too — if you like meat loaf, you can cook it formed into patties or in muffin tins rather than as a whole loaf, and that makes grabbing a quick portion out pretty easy. (Pay attention when you moderate your cook times though, smaller pieces cook way faster.)

        Egg muffins – sort of like a frittata, mix up a half-dozen eggs with a splash of milk, pour it into muffin cups 2/3 full, top with cheese and whatever meat/veg you like in your eggs, bake at 350 for 20 minutes. They freeze fine and reheat in 30 seconds in the microwave without funky texture and can be eaten as-is or mashed up and put into breakfast burritos.

        The Halal Cart Chicken recipe from Serious Eats is really good and can be done both as a hot dish or as a cold salad, if you forego the rice and instead put the chicken on a bed of greens/tomatoes and use the sauce as a dressing.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          pulled pork — throw a pork butt in the crockpot with a bottle of your favorite bbq and shred it when it’s done, you can do hot bbq sandwiches, put a handful of it into mashed potatoes, use it to make nachos or burritos. A few chicken pieces crocked with a jar of black bean and corn salsa and shredded, likewise flexible. :)

    3. Redhaired runner*

      Roasted vegetables and a protein like chicken? Lots of variety available (seasoning, types of veggies etc) and easy to cook ahead.

      1. Joielle*

        This is what I do! Most Sundays I’ll do a bunch of roasted veg, some protein (chicken breasts, lean ground turkey, cubed tofu), and a grain (brown rice, quinoa) and eat that during the week with different sauces or seasonings to change it up. Not the most exciting lunch on earth but it’s easy, tastes good, and reheats well.

    4. Purple Penguin*

      Burritos? grocery store roast chicken shredded up with beans rice salsa cheese, microwaves pretty well, can do a batch on the weekend.
      If you focus on easy reheatability, look at the stuff that comes premade at the supermarket – not saying you have to buy that, but the people who make microwave dinner know that you have to cover meat in a sauce if you’re going to microwave it, so learn from that when you’re making stuff ahead. Pack a bowl with mashed potatoes, pulled pork or shredded stew beef/gravy, vegetables that stay moist and mix well with the potatoes, like peas or beans.

    5. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      Making your own fried rice can be quick and fun, and works well when you only have small quantities of leftovers.

      Quesadillas are another quick option.

      For dinners with plenty of leftovers, I love the cookbook Super Suppers by Julie Byrd – almost all of recipes in it include notes on how they can be prepped ahead of time and set aside (either frozen or otherwise) before being finished, and most of them are quite tasty but geared towards a family of four. When I was living and cooking for myself solo, this meant there were always leftovers if I followed the recipe as written – and a note on how I could preserve them if I didn’t want to cook them all at the same time (but I generally just made the full recipe and fridged the remainder – glass snapware is great for just plopping things in and then tossing it in the fridge, even right off the stove). Also, it has good photos, and none of the recipes call for particularly uncommon or expensive ingredients.

      1. Kimmy Schmidt*

        I like to make a big batch of quesadilla filling on the weekend – usually some kind of cheese, vegetable, bean, onion, and chili powder. Then I scoop it into the tortilla and cook it right before I’m ready to eat. It only takes a couple minutes per side and keeps me pretty full, and you can slice it up so you can eat the little sections as you have time.

      2. BlueWolf*

        Yep, I’ll make a big batch of stir fry for dinner and extra rice and it’s pretty easy to turn it into fried rice the next day. We use brown rice and you can always just try to load it up with lots of veggies and protein, so the ratio is a bit less crab heavy.

    6. Policy Wonk*

      My grocery store has a good selection of low-carb frozen entrees that are about the right size for lunch. The cost can add up, though. If you like to cook, look for recipes of things you can cook in large batches that freeze and microwave well, portion out into individual servings and use like frozen entrees. Chicken thighs work better for this than white meat; as the weather is getting colder stew and chili recipes might fit the bill.

    7. OneTwoThree*

      I enjoy the chicken sausages by aidells and gilberts. They are precooked and heat well in the microwave. I switch up the flavor for variety and to pair with my sides. My sides might be a premix salad, frozen veggies (Birds Eye makes good mixed veggies/ carbs with seasonings), something from the deli, etc.

    8. Zephy*

      I prep lunches for the week every Sunday. I have a rotation of 6 recipes that I cycle through – I find that’s long enough between repeats that I don’t get bored. My current rota looks like this:

      1. Shepherd’s pie
      2. Chicken parm over zoodles (the quickest prep – frozen chicken patties, jarred sauce, pre-shredded cheese)
      3. Some kind of pasta/grain salad (usually eaten cold in the summer, warm in the winter; this is the most flexible thing, literally any combo of small pasta or grains like barley/farro + any 3 vegetables + a protein, usually smoked sausage + some kind of vinaigrette dressing. Last time I basically made jambalaya but with barley instead of rice, and it was delicious.)
      4. Chicken salad (cold, tbf, just including for completeness)
      5. Chipotle-style burrito bowls (rice + onions and peppers + canned beans + cooked protein of some kind, usually chicken or pork, occasionally tofu sofritas + salsa)
      6. Stew of some kind (this past week was Moroccan-style tagine over couscous; I’ve also done Japanese-style curry over rice, boeuf bourguignon/coq au vin with potatoes in it, feijoada with plenty of beans, etc).

    9. Hotdog not dog*

      potatoes! I like to cook a regular or sweet potato in the microwave (about 5 minutes) then top with cheese, leftover veggies, or just butter and salt. Quick, easy, and filling.

    10. Gracely*

      Chili, casseroles (chicken poppyseed, chicken enchilada, large pasta shells stuffed with meatballs & cheese with some sauce over top, ravioli lasagna, etc.), shimp/chicken alfredo (or really any pasta + premade sauce + protein), prosciutto/bacon-wrapped asparagus & red bell pepper (grilled or roasted in the oven), nachos (chips + cheese + hamburger or chicken), quesadillas, chicken caesar wraps, “quick-monsieur” (what we call a ham and grilled cheese sandwich minus the bechamel sauce that you get on a croque monsier), and flatbreads with any number of different things on top, broiled in the oven for a couple of minutes.

      During the pandemic quarantine, one thing we did was grill a LOT of chicken seasoned with garlic salt, pepper, and lemon juice, then we could chop it up and put it in/on various things over the course of the week. It was just a matter of adding a carb, maybe some sauce, and a veggie.

    11. ferrina*

      – Omelets (I think Alton Brown has a great video on making omelets- it only takes a couple minutes)
      -BBQ (slather it in extra sauce to keep it from drying out)
      -Curries (or any kind of entree that is slathered in sauce)
      -Quiche (as a left over; though this one might just be me)
      – Anything from Trader Joe’s frozen section

    12. My+Useless+2+Cents*

      *Instant oatmeal – or regular oatmeal doesn’t take that much longer to fix – and can be made several different ways to prevent boredom
      *I’ve always found Mac&Cheese heats up nicely – a big batch made on the weekend can last all week
      *Some frozen veggies, heated up in the microwave, add a pouch of tuna and top with a drizzle of ranch dressing – sounds a little weird I know but it’s really quick to throw together, and other than the dressing which you can limit, not too bad for you

      1. beach read*

        I use the salmon pouch, heat it in the pan with a bourbon brown sugar type spice mix over a rice, quinoa, etc mix, it’s really fast and tastes pretty good.

    13. Person from the Resume*

      Things you cook in the crockpot tend to have liquid which works well for microwaving. Stews and stew-type things.

      Picadillo, chili (white chicken or red ground meat), roast with gravy to put over rice. Also casseroles with cheese on top seem to rewarm fine. I’m not a particularly fancy or sophisticated eater.

    14. beach read*

      I have done veggie burgers in the microwave, on a sandwich round for a quick hot lunch. For make-aheads, I make my own version of a lean cuisine that has buffalo chicken and mashed potatoes, but I do mashed cauliflower with it instead. I actually like the cauliflower better re-heated. For chicken stir fry, I use a combo of rice and riced vegetables so as to not have an overabundance of rice. Very easy to make the chicken part with variety of flavors too. I keep a couple of marinades on hand for that purpose. I have also done a semi homemade chili with ground turkey, beans, tomatoes that is easy to prep, makes a lot and reheats well. Hope this gives you some ideas!

    15. Chauncy Gardener*

      If you don’t mind buying frozen individual meals, there’s a relatively new brand called Scott & Jon’s which you mostly just microwave for 3 or 4 minutes and it’s done. They’re pretty yummy, low cal, not as high in sodium as the rest of the genre and have a decent variety.
      I like them because I work too much and have a lot of mid day meetings and need to eat FAST

  47. H*

    What are good reasons to go into the office? How often? What inperson work-related events are worth going to inperson v virtually? Just curious what people think (I know this is an office worker focused question! I work FT for the fed and have to go in 1 day a week and work in a hospital prn-weekends- and you can’t be home).

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Synchronous replies/meetings without any hassle of scheduling zoom or handling internet connection issues. Not waiting 2 days for an email reply when its a quick yes/no that would get lost in the inbox.

      Impromptu meetings – oh hey Sals here and George is here lets just clarify this together real fast. Not 3 emails trying to find a time for a 10min meeting.

      Socialization. Casual water cooler talk that doesn’t translate as well to slack.

      Not having to stare at the little zoom boxes of people for 6 hrs. Discovering how tall people are in real life. Jordy is short who knew?!!?

      Free coffee and snacks. Vendors who show up with lunch.

      Celebrating birthdays, marriages, graduations with more than a halfhearted “yay” on a zoom call.

      Being able to draw on whiteboards together. (I don’t know why there’s not a good zoom whiteboard, maybe its the mouse drawing weird but it never works as well as a real one)

      Having more mental distance between working and being home. Being able to literally leave work at the office. Having a clear end of day, and a commute to transition into evening mode.

      Not getting interrupted by children. Nanny having full use of the house and not tiptoe-ing around so the kids don’t know we’re home.

      Building cohesive teams – we’re a lot more kind to eachothers requests when we know and recognize the other people on the team as people and not just the button we click when we need the numbers for the TPS report.

      Getting out of the tiny apartment and getting new visual experiences was huge when I personally started in office work. Spent 2 years with the same 4 walls. Still not over getting to try new lunch spots.

    2. Plumbum*

      For me the biggest thing is cross-organisational familiarity. In the course of my job I only ever talk to the same 4 people about the same narrow area. In the office I can listen to people from other departments “talk shop” and get a better understanding of how my role affects theirs, put faces to names I’ll occasionally see on emails, and maybe pick up on policy or process changes that will affect me/my work that the people implementing them wouldn’t have thought of.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, this. And a lack of it is driving my employer to ask employees to come in 4 days a month, so it averages to once a week. I find that virtual meetings are good enough for the people I work with frequently, but I do sort of miss the water cooler chats with people I don’t work with regularly.

    3. Dinwar*

      “What are good reasons to go into the office?”

      Personally? I like compartmentalizing. When I’m in the office I’m at work, and worried about work things. When I’m at home I’m at home and am worried about home things. Plus, I keep certain resources (books, equipment, etc) at the office because expensive stuff plus small children equals a really bad day.

      Professionally? Depends on the person and the group. For the team I work with, being able to pop into one another’s cubicles and discuss issues is really important. We’ve found that even casual office banter can help us find issues on projects before they become nightmares–after all, work is our common ground, so it comes up even in casual conversation.

      There’s also something to be said for face time. I’m worried that in a few years we’re going to see a slew of people complaining about lack of upward mobility because folks involved in promotions opt for the people they know rather than the remote workers. In the Before Times that was why many managers in my company were extremely reluctant to allow WFH for people the first 5 years with the company–they didn’t have a good network, and thus couldn’t maintain workload.

    4. Adrian*

      Electronic court filings. Virtual remote software may cause security issues with accessing the court website. Not to mention what if your home Internet goes down.

      Even if the office network conks out, at least you know the problem’s not you and somebody’s working to get it back up asap. And you’ve truly done everything you can do by going in.

  48. Liz*

    Any advice for someone about to start full time work for the first time in a long while?

    I’m about to step up from 18.75 hours a week to 37.5 on Monday. My housemate’s work is going bankrupt and we need the money, and my job was trying to hire a second part timer so I asked for the hours and I got them.

    This was not the original plan. I am just finishing a long, intense professional qualification (literally compiling the final assignent today). I had originally hoped to have a break where I would finish up my assignments and then have a rest for a bit while I looked for work at my newly qualified level, but it was not to be. (I don’t even know if I’ll pass yet…)

    I’ve not worked full time since the recession hit in 2008. What advice would readers offer me to help adjust?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      It will take a bit to adjust, so expect to be tired for a few weeks. I remember the first time I worked 40 hours a week, I felt fine the first week and then slept for 13 hours on Friday night. So whatever you can do to get 8 hours (or however much sleep you need) during the week and give yourself time to sleep in on the weekends for the first few weeks is a good idea.

      1. ferrina*

        Yes! It’s so tiring for the first couple months. Only do the essentials, tell your friends you won’t have as much energy for a couple months, and as much as possible, give yourself a pass on cooking and non-essential housework.

    2. LimeRoos*

      I’d probably prep a lot of meals ahead of time or find easy ones to make. I moved into a new role this year and went from consistent 45 hour weeks (40 hours w/ usual breaks +5 hours OT) into one that ebbs between 25 and 60 ish. When I’m in a busy week, I find super easy meals for those weeks so I don’t have to think about it. And I plan for 1 chore a night, to kinda stay up on things, but also not burn myself. So just something simple like loading the dishwasher, tossing in a load of laundry, or just picking up a little helps.

      Also not sure how much you and housemate do stuff together/help out, but maybe enlist their help with a few of the things you usually do while you transition to more hours. Also, at least this was me, I was definitely a little more cranky and less patient than usual during busy times, so my husband would gently remind me to chill lol.

      And schedules! I have everything written down and we add chores to the weekend list during the week based on what we accomplished/didn’t accomplish after work. It also helps us sleep in more, since we know exactly where the house is cleaning wise and what projects we’re going to tackle when.

      1. Liz*

        The meals is the one thing we’re sorted on – basically housemate (queer-platonic life partner, if you’re familiar with such terms) loves to cook and does a lot of big pot meals that we then divvy into containers for the freezer. We were already doing that for the past couple of years because I’m terrible with food and she loves it. So i should be all sorted on that front!

        1. LimeRoos*

          Oh that’s lovely!! That’ll be perfect then. The food stuff was the hardest for us, we loved cooking together then both of our jobs got busy this spring and we moved to a new house so that kinda stopped with schedule changes and we’re still figuring out the new normal.

          And yeah, I’m relatively familiar, just wasn’t sure since housemate can range from unknown craigslist person to spouse based on my social circle’s use of the word. It sounds like you’ll have support and someone to help with any of the stress and chores, which is awesome. And just being open with where you’re at tired wise is also helpful, I know if either of us have a surprisingly busy day, we’ll pivot evening plans to be easier or if one of us is less tired, they’ll pick up any slack that night.

          But good luck!! Sending well wishes for passing your assignment and finding an awesome new job!!

    3. OneTwoThree*

      I would try to “get ahead” on duties outside of work. For example, can you pre-prep some meals (freeze ahead), catch up on laundry, etc. As you adjust to a new schedule, it will be nice to not have to work about these sorts of things.

      1. Liz*

        We’ve just had a massive laundry binge – there’s some stuff drying outside while the weather is still good enough, and i had a big put-away at the weekend because we had people over. The living room is a mess, but that’s just because it gets lived in!

    4. MJ*

      Re cleaning – set a timer for 5 minutes a day. Whether it’s swiping the bathroom sink & toilet, a general pickup, dishes (either washing or loading/unloading dishwasher), hanging laundry or something else. It’s amazing what you can get done in 5 min a day, and means you aren’t starting completely from scratch if you have energy to actually clean.

      Try to schedule some treat time outside of work. Don’t feel guilty about not getting “everything” done and carve out some time for fun.

    5. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      Don’t plan too many things outside of the job for the first 1-2 weeks since you’ll likely be pretty tired. Also, it’s okay to take things slow. Don’t feel like you have to ramp up too quickly.

  49. Higher Ed Kitten Party*

    I have a job interview next week (yay!). It is supposed to rain, and I can’t imagine wearing a blazer under a coat. The office itself seems business casual. Can I get away with a nice sweater over a button up, wide leg wool trousers, and oxfords? The outfit feels very classic J Crew, but I haven’t interviewed in person in 7 years.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Could you do an umbrella instead of a jacket? Or carry the blazer in a bag then take off jacket and switch? Blazer reads much more interview than a sweater to me.

    2. Purple Penguin*

      If they’re barely-business-casual then a nice cardigan (more stylish than Mr Rogers) ought to be fine. Outfit sounds good to me. If they’re old-school business casual that implies some of them wearing blazers as their day-to-day normal, and it might be weird to be noticeably less formal than the people interviewing you.

  50. AlphabetSoupCity*

    Any advice for a resume for a career change??

    Changing careers slightly but with many transferable skills and broadly within the same industry. Think going from working as a project manager and analyst in mammal public policy to working as a project manager in llama business operations.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      You should tailor your resume for the job posting. You’ll want the bullet points under your jobs to highlight any llama specific work you’ve done, as well as anything (non-llama specific) that connects to the business operations tasks/qualifications in the job posting. If you have an older job in anything more llama and/or business operations related, consider condensing or removing one of your more recent positions so you can put that old job back on your resume.

      But even more important than the resume is your cover letter. Address that you are looking to switch to a llama business operations position. Highlight the transferable skills you have and discuss how skills you learned as a public policy project manager and analyst will allow you to be a successful business operations project manager. The transferable-ness of your previous work may be obvious to you but not necessarily to hiring managers so make use of the cover letter to explain it to them.

    2. SameSame*

      I’m doing this right now. When you’re listing your accomplishments in each position, highlight the things that are transferable and most relevant to your new field. Lead with the transferable verbs.

      Managed a 2-year $X project… (whatever comes after this is less relevant than the project management piece) etc

    3. cubone*

      you could do a combined resume, which mixes chronological (the standard, reverse listing of jobs) and functional (the less common organized by skills). Usually comes with a short list of relevant skills at the top, then the reverse chrono work experience.

      other great advice I’ve gotten: find a few job postings of the roles you want and make a chart listing the major responsibilities you see. In the next column put any experience you have that’s similar (you could also add another column where you add any new skills you need to develop related to this). Then, make another column where you rewrite your relevant skill to be more in line with the goal job language, eg using terminology or skills they’re highlighting (without lying of course)

    4. PassThePeasPlease*

      All really good advice that was already said but just wanted to add another tip that’s been helping me with tailoring resumes/cover letters. If you put the job description into a word cloud generator (I use a free one online) and your resume/cover letter in another, you can see if the bigger words match to make sure you’re hitting the right info!

  51. Graphic Design Shift?*

    I’m feeling like I want to do a hard re-set on my career and pick something else. I probably have twenty years of work ahead of me so I feel like maybe it’s not too late. This week I was considering graphic design. If I went back to school to get an associate’s degree in graphic design and maybe an internship or two, I’d have a portfolio and maybe I could use the contacts from my past ten years of work. It seems like the pay range is wide; I don’t want to go into debt if I’m not going to be able to pay it back. I’m also feeling a bit burned because in the “jobs that are hiring” post a few weeks ago, most people concluded that there weren’t a lot of fields that the training would be worth the position. Are there any graphic designers who can weigh in on what they like or don’t like about their work? What is the most important thing someone should know about the field?

    1. Graphic Design Shift?*

      What I think I would like about the work is 1) it’s a different part of the brain than I use for my main hobby 2) it seems a bit more concrete of a service, like people know what they’re asking for specifically when they hire a graphics designer – my current career is in generalist roles – and presumably value good design on their communications products 3) I need a career that caters to working remotely or on contract because I might need to move in with my folks across country or be more available to them, depending on their health. Does this track? I don’t need to be rich, but if I could make around 80K I’d be satisfied.