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 or add one }

  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??

    Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
        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.

          Reply
      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.

        Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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!

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
      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.

        Reply
    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.

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
        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.

          Reply
    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!

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
  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?

    Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
      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?

        Reply
        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.

          Reply
          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.

            Reply
            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.

              Reply
                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.

                Reply
            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.

              Reply
          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.

            Reply
        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.

          Reply
          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?

            Reply
          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.

            Reply
        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.

          Reply
          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.

            Reply
      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.

        Reply
      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).

        Reply
    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.

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
    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.

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
      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.

        Reply
    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.

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
      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!

        Reply
    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

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    11. 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?

      Reply
    12. 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.

      Reply
    13. 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?

      Reply
        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.

          Reply
    14. 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.

      Reply
    15. 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.

      Reply
    16. 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.

      Reply
    17. 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.

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
    18. Camellia*

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

      Reply
    19. 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.

      Reply
    20. 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.

      Reply
    21. 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.

      Reply
    22. 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.

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
  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?

    Reply
    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”

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
  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.

    Reply
    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.

      Reply
        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.

          Reply
          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.

            Reply
    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.

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
    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.

      Reply
      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).

        Reply
      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.

        Reply
    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).

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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?”

      Reply
    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”.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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!

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
  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?

    Reply
      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.

        Reply
        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

          Reply
    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.

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
      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).

        Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
    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.

      Reply
      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

        Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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?

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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….

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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. )

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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!

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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

      Reply
      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?

        Reply
        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!!

          Reply
        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.”

          Reply
      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.

        Reply
        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.

          Reply
        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.

          Reply
    1. 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.

      Reply
        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.

          Reply
        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.

          Reply
          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.

            Reply
      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/,”).

        Reply
      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.)

        Reply
    2. 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.

      Reply
        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)

          Reply
      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”

        Reply
      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.

        Reply
        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.

          Reply
        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”)

          Reply
          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.

            Reply
          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).”)

            Reply
      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!

        Reply
        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.

          Reply
      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.

        Reply
      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.

        Reply
      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.

        Reply
        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.

          Reply
    3. NoName Poster*

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

      Reply
      1. 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.

        Reply
        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.

          Reply
    4. 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.

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
        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.

          Reply
          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.

            Reply
    5. 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.

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
    6. 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.

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
    7. 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.

      Reply
        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.

          Reply
        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.

          Reply
    8. 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.

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
    9. 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.

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
        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).

          Reply
    10. 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.

      Reply
    11. 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].

      Reply
    12. 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.

      Reply
      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.”

        Reply
        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.

          Reply
      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

        Reply
        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.

          Reply
      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!

        Reply
        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.

          Reply
    13. 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?

      Reply
      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!

        Reply
    14. 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?

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
      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.

        Reply
      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.

        Reply
    15. 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.

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
      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….

        Reply
      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.

        Reply
      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.

        Reply
    16. 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.

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
    17. 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.

      Reply
      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…

        Reply
      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”)

        Reply
    18. 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!

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
    19. 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.

      Reply
    20. 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.

      Reply
    21. 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….

      Reply
    22. 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.

      Reply
    23. 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

      Reply
      1. 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.)

        Reply
    24. 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!

      Reply
    25. 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??

      Reply
    26. 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.

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
    27. 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.

      Reply
    28. 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.

      Reply
  6. 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.

    Reply
    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.

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
      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.

        Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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”.

      Reply
    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.”

      Reply
    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.”

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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)?

      Reply
  7. 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.

    Reply
    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.

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
    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.

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
      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.

        Reply
      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.

        Reply
    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.

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
  8. 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.

    Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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!

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    5. 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.

      Reply
      1. 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.

        Reply
        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.

          Reply
          1. 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.

            Reply
          2. 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.

            Reply
          3. 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!

            Reply
          4. 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).

            Reply
            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.

              Reply
          5. 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.

            Reply
      2. 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.

        Reply
      3. 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.

        Reply
        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.

          Reply
    6. 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.

      Reply
      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.”

        Reply
    7. 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.

      Reply
    8. 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.

      Reply
    9. 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.

      Reply
    10. 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.

      Reply
    11. 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.

      Reply
    12. 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.

      Reply
    13. 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.

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
      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.

        Reply
    14. 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.

      Reply
    15. 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.

      Reply
  9. 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.

    Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
      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.

        Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
      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!

        Reply
    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.

      Reply
  10. 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.

    Reply
    1. 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.

      Reply
      1. 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.

        Reply
    2. 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.

      Reply
    3. 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.

      Reply
    4. 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.

      Reply
    5. 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.

      Reply
    6. 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.

      Reply
    7. 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.

      Reply
    8. 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.

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
    9. 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.

      Reply
    10. 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.

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
    11. 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.

      Reply
    12. 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.

      Reply
    13. 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.

      Reply
    14. 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!

      Reply
    15. 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.

      Reply
    16. 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.

      Reply
    17. 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.

      Reply
    18. 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.

      Reply
    19. 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!

      Reply
    20. 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.

      Reply
    21. 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.

      Reply
    22. 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.

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
    23. 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.

      Reply
    24. 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.

      Reply
    25. 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.

      Reply
    26. 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).

      Reply
    27. 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.

      Reply
    28. 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.

      Reply
    29. 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.

      Reply
    30. 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

      Reply
    31. 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).

      Reply
    32. 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.

      Reply
    33. 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.

      Reply
    34. 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.

      Reply
  11. 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.

    Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.”

      Reply
    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

      Reply
    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].”

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
        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!

          Reply
      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 :(

        Reply
        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.

          Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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

      Reply
  12. 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.

    Reply
    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.

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
    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.

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
        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.

          Reply
    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.)

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
  13. 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?

    Reply
    1. 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.

      Reply
    2. 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!

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
    3. 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?

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
      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.

        Reply
    4. 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.

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
        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.

          Reply
    5. 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.

      Reply
  14. 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? 

    Reply
    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.

      Reply
  15. 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.

    Reply
    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.)

      Reply
      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!

        Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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!

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
    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.

      Reply
  16. 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.

    Reply
    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!

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
      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!

        Reply
  17. 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.

    Reply
    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.

      Reply
  18. 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.

    Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
    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

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
  19. 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

    Reply
    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.

      Reply
    2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

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

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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!

      Reply
      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!)

        Reply
        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.

          Reply
    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.”

      Reply
      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?”

        Reply
    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.

      Reply
      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.)

        Reply
      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.

        Reply
    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.

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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!

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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!

      Reply
      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!

        Reply
      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!

        Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
  20. 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.

    Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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. :-)

      Reply
    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!!!!

      Reply
  21. 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.

    Reply
    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.

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
    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.

      Reply
      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”

        Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
  22. 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?

    Reply
    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!

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
    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.

      Reply