open thread – November 18-19, 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.

{ 1,084 comments… read them below }

  1. Welcome to the Jungle*

    How do you stay focused and engaged when your company announces layoffs?

    I work for the FAANG company that conducted layoffs this week and has announced more are to come in early 2023. I am as prepared as you can be- resume up to date, savings padded, cutting some unnecessary expenses- but still very nervous and it’s been difficult to get anything other than urgent work done this week. I work in a division that seems relatively ‘safe’ as we are top revenue generators but I also am new (7 months in) and one of the higher paid folks at my level/position.

    I really like my job, manager and WLB (I’m working half as many hours as my last job and getting tons of positive feedback) so while I’ll keep my eye on open positions, I can’t see myself leaving unless smoke signals are flying up. How do I stay concentrated and out of the doom and gloom spiral (I’ve already cut off convos with a coworker who is extremely nervous and adding to this). I keep teetering between ‘push your mind to the limit, do the best work and show them you are too awesome to lose’ and ‘none of that will actually matter so just keep skirting by’ and it’s stressing me out.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      This probably isn’t the answer you’re looking for, but it’s okay to not stay concentrated and focused and engaged when layoffs are happening, even if you’re not the one being laid off. It affects the whole company’s morale, and it should (unless you’re completely heartless).

    2. theothermadeline*

      Would it help to try to game theory out each scenario so that you can clearly see what your paths forward are? Layoff Scenario: In the new year you’re notified that you are part of a layoff. You receive x amount of severance and continue the job search that you’ve already started. What should you do right now to make that work out best for you? Do diligent work (don’t kill yourself at it, but act as though nothing has changed) to keep a good reputation with your manager and colleagues, keep your network very warm for good opportunities. Non-layoff Scenario: In the new year you’re notified that you are not part of a layoff. You feel badly for your colleagues, but glad that you get to stay in a job you like. You can consider directing a few of them to the opportunities you’ve heard about by keeping your ear to the ground with your network. What should you do right now to make that work out best for you? Really, the same thing. I would also consider in there Scenario 3 in which the WLB that you value decreases after others are laid off – what would you say is your cut-off point?

      1. MigraineMonth*

        Walking through (reasonable) worst-case scenarios and deciding what I will do in each gives me a sense of perspective and control.

        Also, keep in mind that the human brain exaggerates how much a possible future event will affect us emotionally. That’s why getting that promotion didn’t make us as happy as we thought it would for as long as we thought it would. It’s also why getting laid off won’t make us as miserable as we think it will for as long as we think it will.

      2. The Real Fran Fine*

        I do these kinds of thought exercises all the time, and they really help calm me when I’m panic spiraling.

    3. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      Remember that you can’t control the outcome of this, no matter what you do. Focus your mental and physical energy on doing what’s best for yourself and your future, and the things that ARE at least somewhat in your control – your resume, your expenses, etc. Put aside some tine for self care, even if it seems silly. The fate of your job and your company is out of your hands. Best of luck.

    4. Rain's Small Hands*

      One thing is that smart managers know that during this period of time, focus for employees isn’t great. If your manager is good, they know you are stressed, distracted, etc (they probably are too – they might get let go themselves, and letting people go is few people’s favorite part of management). So cut yourself some slack (and cut some slack to the people you depend on to get things done). Get done what you can get done, estimate tasks with a longer lead time as changes occur and people aren’t as responsive (or you need to look for the person who knows what you used to go to Sally for). In other words, give yourself space to just be and do – without either pushing yourself too hard to prove yourself or letting yourself completely slack off for weeks at a time.

      I’ve been through oh so many of these, and they are horrible to go through, and regardless of if you work there in another six months or don’t, it will work out.

    5. Prospect gone bad*

      Dealing with this today. My solution is to picked one complicated project, and do it really well, so that if anyone starts questioning what you are doing and whether your position is worth keeping, you can pull it out of the hat and say, I discovered this problem and here’s all the things I found and here is the solutions.

      The thing is that generalist are always the first to be let go, so you need to dive into something specific and technical so you appear irreplaceable. If you’re in tech that would mean doing the generic reports and coding, I would try to get some thing really technical onto my plate

      1. Squedward*

        Interesting – The company I work for is also in the midst of layoffs, and the prevailing wisdom from those who have survived in the past is that specialists are the first to go – many of their projects are less significant than the day-to-day work when it all shakes out. I try to find a balance where I am excelling in performing critical (boring, mundane) functions, while also have a few areas of niche expertise to keep myself engaged.

    6. Artemesia*

      I went through a devastating merger that almost killed my career in a field with few opportunities where I had one of the few jobs with a future in that field. I used denial until the ax fell; in our case in order to avoid lawsuits they fired people by department so there was no chance to be saved by merit.

      I think it is helpful to imagine the worst case scenario and what you will do if that comes to pass. And then do what is needed to be ready to act if it occurs. It sounds like you are doing that. Once you face the ‘worst’ it is easier to relax about the present. Hope you have a good outcome.

      1. RVA Cat*

        The “no chance to be saved by merit” is something we should all internalize. Mass layoffs aren’t personal and the decision is almost always up to someone you’ve never met.

    7. New Mom*

      I’m in a similar boat, new leadership, 10% layoffs already happened and it seems like more may come. You are doing a lot of things I’ve done, but I’ve also been trying to network a lot in anticipation that I may need to start reaching out in the next 6-12 months. I’m really involved in membership organizations and I’ve also been keeping an eye out for jobs I’d be interested in which is making me feel better because at least there are jobs out there.
      For work, now that I feel confident that I’d land on my feet in case I were to be laid off, I’m just doing work as if I won’t be but I don’t feel as anxious. My family also wants to go abroad for an extended vacation that I can’t do while at my current job so in my head I’ve been telling myself that if I DO get laid off, we can go on a once in a lifetime trip. I don’t know if that’s helpful for you, but that’s whats been working for me.

    8. Magda*

      This is very timely for me, I will be reading the comments with interest. I work for a nonprofit that is currently in a death spiral, and may not exist in a few months; nor am I positive that it *should* exist as a standalone organization TBH. But until my last day, I do need to keep putting one foot in front of another and doing whatever I can, while of course, looking after my own interests as nobody else is going to.

    9. Out of Office*

      Just had our layoffs announced this week…but we don’t know names until mid December. I am dialing back, updating my resume, and tracking only the essential tasks. My org is going to be hit hard and while I expect to still have this job I’m doing everything I can to prepare for being laid off. We’re at least getting 6 months severance so it’s not the worst situation.

      I’m trying to keep staff engaged while also being aware that this just sucks. We’re keeping the cadences of our meetings and not letting conversations get off topic. We’re also being as transparent as we can be.

    10. kiki*

      First, I want to say that this sort of turmoil and upheaval at a company makes it hard f0r just about anyone to focus and perform as well as they normally do, so make sure you’re kind to yourself about how much you are getting done.

      One thing that helps me in situations like this is reminding myself early and often that I don’t actually have control of whether or not I’m laid off– getting nervous or working harder won’t actually help me keep my job. It can seem counter-intuitive, but divest from your work a bit. Don’t completely check out, but make sure you have things in y0ur personal life that make you happy, keep your hobbies (even if you have to cut back the expenses of them a bit), make time to see friends and family, etc. You’ve been doing all the work you can to prepare yourself for a layoff (saving, getting resume ready, etc), so just remember that even if you lose your job, you will be okay.

  2. ASW*

    Trying to see if I’m off-base in being upset about something… My employer offers two floating holidays each year, so 16 hours total and they have to be taken in 8-hour increments. Some of our employees work 10 or 12 hour shifts. When they use a floating holiday, they have to add in 2 or 4 hours of vacation to cover the whole shift. Apparently some of them have complained about that and my employer is planning to start giving two 12-hour days and two 10-hour days to those employees. I’m not happy about that because the 12-hour shift workers will be getting 24 hours per year which is equivalent to three 8-hour days for those who work 8-hour shifts. To me, they are getting the equivalent of an extra free day off that that rest of us don’t. They don’t seem to realize that they are already getting a benefit that is not available to everyone by not having to go to work as many days out of the year. A full day off is more valuable than having a few extra free hours per day spread over multiple days. I did the math and the 12-hour shift employees get over two months’ worth of extra days off per year than those working 8-hour shifts (They work 7 days per two-week pay period versus our 10 days, so 78 less days over 26 pay periods). I think that’s huge but they’re too busy being upset that they have to use a couple hours of vacation when they use a floating holiday to see that. Am I unreasonable in being upset about this? I’m also upset about the lack of flexible schedule options for office workers so that could be clouding my judgement.

    1. CTT*

      I think it defeats the purpose of a floating holiday if they have to use vacation time to fully take it. Yes they are technically getting more time off than you under the new system, but they are also working longer shifts than you, which comes with its own downsides.

      1. Loulou*

        Right! I’m honestly pretty confused by the question, but bottom line: yes, you’re off base. It sounds like you’ve totally lost sight of the fact that office workers who work 8 hour days pretty much inherently have more flexibility than shift workers, also.

        1. ASW*

          I guess that depends on how you define flexibility. IMO, the office workers have less flexibility because we have to work M-F, 8-5 which means I have to do everything on the weekend or use leave to take care of something during the week. If I had a day or two off during the week, I would have a lot more flexibility to do other things.

          1. Sunflower*

            It’s pretty common for different job functions to allow different shift timings. If you think there is a way the business can properly function with office workers doing l3-4, 10-12 hour days/week then have you tried bringing that to management?

            My sister is a nurse and I often time am jealous of her schedule. However, I like the work I do and I wouldn’t want to be a nurse. The work I do wouldn’t be able to successfully run in a schedule similar to her. Are you interested in doing the work that requires 10-12 hour shifts instead of the ones you’re currently working?

          2. WellRed*

            Sure, but on the other hand, if you can’t schedule things for those days or you want to regularly hit the gym, it’s a little harder.

          3. shiftwork*

            I work 10-12 hour overnights (varies a little based on loads).

            If you think this is inherently unfair in their favor you are freaking *welcome* to work our schedule.

            We’re getting this Wednesday off (as well as Thursday/Friday) because otherwise we’d be at work until 8am Thanksgiving morning. I hear complaints about it every so often and, well, that’s my answer then…we’re always hiring!

      2. MigraineMonth*

        Yeah, ASW, in your place I’d be thanking my lucky stars I wasn’t working 12-hour shifts. I occasionally had to do those in the past, and it had measurable affects on my health.

        Maybe you can think of them as “days off” instead of a specific number of hours? You and the 12-hour shifters both get Thanksgiving off and don’t have to use vacation time to cover it. Win all around!

    2. Floating holidays*

      My employer does the same thing your company is changing it to — the idea is that the 8 hours aren’t about hours off but about being able to take a full standard work day for each employee. I think many people would consider 10-hour or 12-hour shifts a negative vs. the perk in the way you’re framing it. I understand you’re frustrated with the lack of flexible options available to you, that would annoy me as well. But I don’t think this is a great example of that.

      1. ASW*

        I’m not sure I agree that many consider longer shifts a negative. If that is the case, then why do so many people want flexible schedules like 4/10s or 9/80s? Those are considered perks that involve longer shifts and people want them because they want the additional days that don’t have to be spent at work.

        1. As Per Elaine*

          Honestly, many of the people who want them probably haven’t worked them. I worked at a school that did 4/10s during the summer, and sure, it was nice having Fridays off, but I was TOAST by the end of a 10-hour shift, despite the fact that work was really slow and we didn’t have that much to do (honestly, I personally thought they could’ve just given us Fridays off; we would have gotten as much work done). I had literally no free time for the portion of the week I was working, and I would be very reluctant to do it again.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            The times I have to work more than 9 hours in a day I don’t have time for exercise, cooking, laundry, socializing with friends, etc. I don’t sleep as well, I start drinking too much caffeine, I can’t focus, I feel chilled and I have constant cravings for high fat/high sugar foods.

            I think the 4/10 schedule would only be worth it for me if the commute was particularly arduous.

            1. Advenella*

              I’m in healthcare. I do 4/10s regularly, and have for the last year, though I have a later start time (afternoons). I love it, particularly in that I get a 3-day weekend every other weekend, and I almost never work more than 3 days in a row (it would be supremely rare). It’s not for everyone, though.

          2. Frickityfrack*

            I loved working 4 10s, but I had Wednesdays off, which may have made the difference. I was tired by the end of the day, but it was so nice knowing I was never more than 2 days away from a day off. I also had time to work on projects outside of my primary job duties (which are all customer-facing appointments that require me to be at my desk pretty much constantly from 8:30-4).

            Anyway, the point is that there are people who love that schedule and thrive on it, and people who really, really don’t, and it would be a whole lot better if we all got to choose.

          3. HBJ*

            And then there’s my husband who absolutely loved 4 10s for the years he worked a job that had that. Any given work schedule is not objectively bad/good or a perk/negative. It’s entirely dependent on the person doing it and what they like/value.

          4. Brrrrr*

            Yes, my partner works 12 hour shifts, 7 on/7 off which sounds amazing (every other week off!) until you realize that during their week on they are working an 80+ hour week and they do almost nothing other than work, eat, sleep, commute. Then during their week off it takes them 3-4 full days to recover, during which they pretty much just sleep. I wouldn’t want to do it.

          5. kiki*

            Yeah, I agree that it’s something people want before they work them. There are some people who adjust and really like the change, but a lot of people realize the extra day off doesn’t counter-balance such an intense 4-day week. And there are ramifications some people don’t consider at first, like having to be extra-organized about cooking, daily routine stuff, and childcare.

        2. Qwerty*

          Is the problem that *you* want a 4/10 schedule? Because that’s totally different. If you really want to work from home and have a different schedule, the solution is to search for a new job. Remote jobs are very trendy right now so hopefully you’ll be able to find something relatively quickly.

          “Many” people want a lot of things, and it all depends on your definition of many. I wouldn’t say “most”. The people I know who choose 4/10 schedules find they need longer days to be productive, due to tasks that take up bigger time chunks (like working in labs).

          But all of them take Wednesdays off rather than doing a 3day weekend because of the toll of working long hours requires extra sleep mid week. I wouldn’t say they do more with their lives outside of work – the errands that 9-5 workers run after work just get shifted to the extra off day.

          Having (briefly) worked 12hrs days in a plant – nope, life is way better for me at 8hr days.

        3. Drago Cucina*

          You’re right. My husband used to work 4/10s and loved it. When he had to change to 5/8 it really caused scheduling problems for him.
          I have been working 9/80 for the past couple of years and love it. Having a whole day to get things done or get out of town for a mental health day is wonderful. I don’t have to use PTO for them.

        4. Librarian of SHIELD*

          I’m one who would consider 10-12 hour shifts a negative. I have to do it sometimes if I’m scheduled to open and the person who was scheduled to close calls out, and I absolutely hate it. Long days mess me up so much, and I would rather work more days at a standard 8 hours than fewer days for longer hours.

          I’m really frustrated on your behalf that your employer won’t let you shift to longer days if that’s what would work best for you, though. That’s messed up.

        5. darlingpants*

          4/10s aren’t a *flexible* schedule, they’re just a *different* schedule. The 4/10 people aren’t allowed to change their hours to 5/8s, or come in an hour late because they can make it up at some point.

          Flexible schedules are a perk. 4/10s work well for some people and very badly for others, just like 5/8s. It sounds like you have a potentially reasonable problem with the treatment of plant workers vs office workers, but there are definitely plant workers who wish they had 5/8s and are jealous of you.

          1. HBJ*

            This is very true. 4 10s aren’t, in and of themselves, flexible. My husband loved having 4 10s, but we actually ended up doing many more fun things together in our off time once he switched to 5 8s. The reason was, at the time he was doing 4 10s, he worked over part of the weekend while I was in school (so M-F). That meant we only had one shared day completely off, and we had a non-work commitment for part of it. It’s actually a real disappointment to me that we were never able to take advantage of doing a lot of the cool things in that city. We moved and both switched to jobs that had the same schedule, resulting in two days off (we still had the same non-work commitment on one of them) the same, right when I graduated, and we did so many more cool things in the city we moved to. His 4 10s were completely rigid and the farthest thing from flexible.

        6. Ellis Bell*

          If you want to do long shifts, doing physical work, and you don’t need any perks for doing so, you absolutely should do that. Particularly if you are in such great shape you don’t need those extra days as a buffer to recover. Very few people actually do want to, or can handle it long term, so you should find yourself in a really good position by being baseline happy with the deal to start with. Then you will also benefit from the perks designed to keep people energized/happy/in the job as a bonus rather than a need. I gave up my job full time teaching to do part time small group tuition and I’m always hearing (some) teachers grouch they’d love to have my hours and deliverables. To that I usually say: “What’s stopping you? It’s only a cut of, like, half your pay and should see you a lot busier in school hours trying to get everything done in less time. Go for it!” And I mean it. I love the deal I made.

          1. Loulou*

            Right! This is like being mad the people working the nightshift have the day free, or that people who work weekends have weekdays off.

      2. HBJ*

        Whether or not a 10 or 12-hr shift OR two on/two off or any other type of schedule is a perk or a con is not an objective fact but rather exclusively depends on whether a person likes it or not. My husband used to work 4 10s and LOVED it. He was annoyed when he switched jobs and had to work 5 8s.

    3. to varying degrees*

      I think if the floating days could be taken in increments then I would get being upset, but they can’t. I think you are focusing too much on the details (individual hours) and not the bigger picture (a whole shift). It’s a floating holiDAY, and different jobs have different DAY descriptions.

      1. Atlantic Toast Conference*

        I also think looking at it in terms of “holiday” helps. If an employer says that Memorial Day is a company holiday, I think most people would expect everyone to get the whole day off– not just those with an 8 hour workday. I think OP is mistakenly thinking of this more like regular PTO because it’s not pegged to a typical holiday.

      2. Rain's Small Hands*

        Agreed. Its the day to take of your birthday or your religious holiday or Halloween or the first Monday of deer hunting season because its really important to you – that the company doesn’t give you. And thinking about it in terms of holiDAY helps.

        I’d be really upset if I were the 12 hour shift worker and got to take my birthday off, but my week check was short four hours because I work 12 hour shifts instead of eight hours.

    4. Alex*

      Not everything in life is always exactly equal. At the end of the day, a company has a right to give more time off to one group of people than the other, if they want. There are plusses and minuses to having longer/fewer shifts per week, and everyone will have a different opinion of what those are.

    5. Player1*

      “They work 7 days per two-week pay period versus our 10 days, so 78 less days over 26 pay periods”

      But 12 hours over 7 days is 84 hours versus the 80 hours in your pay period. They work more consecutive hours, so it makes sense that their vacation is commensurate to that.

    6. Llama Llama*

      Does it hurt you that they are getting a slight benefit that you are not getting? If the answer is no, then you are being unreasonable.

      1. ASW*

        I think that gets at the heart of why I’m reacting the way I am. That is the exact reason that my employer gives every time they deny the office workers a perk. Remote work? The plant workers can’t do that so we can’t let you. Flexible schedules? The plant workers can’t adjust their schedules so we can’t let you. But it never works the other way around. If there is even a hint that the office workers are getting something the plant workers are not, those workers complain and management bends over backwards to make sure that they aren’t missing out on something we might be getting. It’s all about the morale at the plants, even if it’s at the expense of the morale of the rest of us.

        1. I owe my soul to the company store*

          I’m going to try to be kind, but I’ve been a ‘plant worker’ for most of my career.

          I’ve spent shifts soaked to the skin in stuff that wasn’t clean water. I’ve worked shifts in 30degF below zero freezers and on 140degF roofs. I’ve had shifts where I never sat down or got a drink of water or a bathroom break…or lunch. I logged 14 miles on a sprained knee one time.

          There are tradeoffs to every job. The many times I worked through Thanksgiving, or Christmas or New Years because “schedule demands it” or the times I’ve been called in on my day off or been asked to stay over 4 or 6 hours when I’d already been there 12 “to help out” have made me long for office job where I can stay clean and dry and go home at the end of 8 hours.

        2. Observer*

          So?

          What exactly do you lose when plant workers actually get A DAY without being penalized for having a FULL day? Why is that a morale hit for you?

          If you have an issue that you are being denied things for stupid reasons, take that up with management. But pushing back on actually allowing people to use a benefit without being penalized is . . . not a good look, is the kindest way I can put it.

          Google “crabs in a bucket”

        3. JelloStapler*

          I think this is an issue of feeling like they are getting a perk when actually they are getting equal treatment.

        4. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

          This isn’t them getting something you aren’t though. You get two floating holidays off, and now they do too. Your full shift is 8 hours, theirs is 10/12. It’s supposed to be a full day off. Which you still have and always had, now they have it too.

          Also I have worked in the office of a plant, and my husband worked in said plant (not at the same time) and trust me, the plant workers do not get nearly enough. You need to let this go.

          1. Loulou*

            Exactly. When I started reading the question I thought OP was describing a system where they had to take 2 hours of PTO to use their floating holiday, and were they right to be upset about that? And my answer would be YES.

        5. Maggie*

          Ok going to be honest here but they’re factory workers, and that’s a hard job, they need to be happy and well cared for so they can be healthy and do their work. There are more flexible office jobs out there, so it may just be a mismatch with this particular company. Do you want to trade jobs with them to receive the treatment and ‘perks’ they get? If no, then you know deep down that it can suck to be a plant/factory worker and be on the floor for 12 hours a day. It’s ok for different jobs to have different benefits depending on the work.

        6. MigraineMonth*

          Now you’ve put your finger on the real problem. Management shouldn’t be tying your work conditions to the plant workers, or the plant workers’ work conditions to yours. Don’t resent management for giving plant workers a full holiday off; resent management for not allowing you the remote work and schedule flexibility that makes sense for your job.

        7. J!*

          Management is trying to play different groups of workers against each other because they know that they have an easier time if you resent each other instead of cooperating. You’re mad at the wrong people.

        8. Siege*

          Just because your employer is using plant morale as an excuse for not evaluating how your job could work doesn’t mean that they actually value the plant workers more. It means it’s an excuse to not have to think about navigating, for example, remote work.

          If your employer is, to your eyes, prioritizing the plant workers, that almost certainly means that either there’s a very small pool of potential employees OR that the plant employees are seeing the office workers as the overly-privileged people in the relationship, because “the plant workers can’t go to 5 8s because it’s too complicated to change the office procedures” or something. I’ve been in the plant, and I promise, people are not standing around saying “we’re really pulling one over on the office workers by getting a full day as holiday the way they do!”

    7. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      Am I understanding correctly that the people with the 10 and 12 hour shifts are choosing those shifts in order to work fewer days? If that’s the case, I agree with you that then giving them extra time off is not equitable. OTOH, if they are forced to work 10-12 hour shifts, then I think that the goal is giving people a day off and they should get a day off.

      1. LDN Layabout*

        They mentioned office staff, which means they’re complaining about something like nurses vs. hospital admin.

      2. E*

        The way I understand it, the people working 10 or 12 hours have different roles that require that length of shift, because the OP in a different comment made a distinction between office staff and shift workers. If this is the case, I think it’s reasonable that they get a different length of holiday to cover the longer shift.

    8. Ness*

      Assuming you also get regular holidays off, how do regular holidays work for these employees? e.g., if Christmas falls on a work day, do they get the full 10-12 hours of leave? If Christmas falls on a non-work day for them, do they get an in-lieu holiday?

      Knowing the answer to that would help answer whether this arrangement is actually unfair. But in any case, I think you should let it go. It doesn’t seem like this actually affects you beyond some concept of fairness, and pushing it is likely to make you look petty.

      1. DannyG*

        20 years of 7-on-7-off 12 hour hospital shifts. You work the holidays as they come. If it’s your week to work you work it. About every 6-7 years the calendar flips which holidays you work/have off.

    9. Tesuji*

      To me, it depends on whether 10- or 12-hour shifts are for the convenience of the employer or the employee.

      If the role they’re in is one where the employee defines a workday for everyone in that particular category as being a 10- or 12-hour shift, then it feels fair to me that their day off is a full shift off.

      If this is a role where everyone has flexibility, and some people work 5x 8-hour days a week, some do 4x 10-hour days, some do 4x 9-hours and a half-day Friday, or whatever… then, at that point, it feels like everyone should be getting the same amount of hours off.

      In the first situation, that’s just a part of the job. In the second situation, that’s allowing employees who are already benefiting from flexibility to game the system for added time off depending on which flexible option they choose.

      1. Lynn*

        I think this is a great point of distinction. Simply put, is the employee on that shift schedule for their benefit or for their employers?

    10. MsSolo UK*

      I think your workplace has muddied the waters by trying to balance time worked in hours (the 12 hour shifts work 84 hours a fortnight to 80 hours for the 8 hour shifts – so are working more hours but fewer days) against time available to book off which is in hours but, in any reasonable system, would be in days. As you say “a full day off is more valuable than having a few extra free hours per day spread over multiple days” – the floating holiday is intended as a day off, not 2/3 of a day.

      I’m coming at this from the other side, to be up front: I’ve been frustrated this year with the extra bank holidays in the UK being credited to my leave balance as 7 hours, but because I work compressed hours I have to take 9 hours out of my balance because there’s no option to not take the whole day. Over the whole year I’ve lost more than two days of leave that I have no control over.

      Honestly, I think some of this is bleeding over from the lack of flexibility for office workers; there are pros and cons to both shift patterns, and if it doesn’t conflict with your duties I can see why you’d want to be able to chose the one that best suits you. Are there other areas in which this inflexibility that manifests which are also frustrating? When it feels like the decisions being made are arbitrary, it’s easy to get hung up on who’s appears to be benefiting from the decisions, rather than who is making them.

    11. I owe my soul to the company store*

      What about sick time? My last job was 12-hour shifts and my 40 hours of sick time meant I got 3 sick days per year and they gave a demerit for taking over 40 hours sick. One demerit meant no raise for that year.

      I got a demerit for being 1 minute late to clock in, a demerit for being 1 minute late back from my unpaid 30 minute lunch and I had to schedule all my vacation time 1 year in advance.

      Most jobs requiring 12-hour shifts have no flexibility at all.

    12. Qwerty*

      Counter argument – do you want your holidays to be determined by part time workers? (5 days at 4hrs each)

      How would you feel about your company cutting your floating holiday hours in half in order to keep things “fair” with the part timers? They only need 8hrs off in order to cover two shifts, so to keep the hours equitable, you would be held to the same standard, effectively only getting one floating holiday per year. I’m guessing you’d be pretty bothered! (rightly so!)

      When the office is closed for Thanksgiving, does it bother you that you are only getting 8hrs off that day while other people get 10 or 12 off? Or are you just happy to celebrate your holiday?

      Time off is calculated relative to a person’s schedule. Companies usually start with a certain number of days for sick time, vacation, floating holidays, then multiple it by the shift length.

      Different shift allows for different lifestyles. Someone working 12hr days is less likely to be able to run a quick errand after work than someone working 8hrs days. Childcare is harder. Each individual shift takes longer to recover from. I know many people in longer shifts who would love to have the reliability of a 9-5 work schedule

    13. Robin Ellacott*

      I can see that there’s a discrepancy, but if their goal is to give people 2 paid workdays off, this would be pretty logical. It’s how we calculate stats here – you get an average workday paid, which varies slightly by employee.

      That said, if they earn the same money at a comparable job while working fewer hours, that would make this more irritating.

      I think this is just one of those situations where there’s no perfect solution. The lack of flexibility is another issue, though, and hopefully that can change.

    14. Sarahh*

      I think it makes sense to give them the day off. How do they handle holidays usually? What about if they fall on their off day? My job gives you 8 hrs off for holidays so if you work a flex schedule you either have to use vacation time or if it falls on your day off you earn in lieu time. It’s not a great system because you can’t work on holidays so there’s no way around using your time.

    15. Maggie*

      I’d honestly let it go. Everyone gets two days even if it’s not exactly fair on the hours. Sure they work less days but they also work 12hr days which means the days they work are just all work and nothing else. Idk I would really let it go

    16. Dark Macadamia*

      Look at it this way: the alternative to using 2 hours of vacation time to cover the rest of a 10-hour day off would be coming in for 2 hours, right? So even if they get the 8 hour floating holiday, they’re not getting a “day off” because they’re responsible for that 2 hours (either through vacation time or showing up). If the point is to not work that day, the floating holiday should be taken as a shift, whether that means 4 hours or 8 or 12, and not broken down into exact minutes and then compared to everyone else’s minutes.

      Are you happy with YOUR schedule? YOUR compensation? YOUR perks, flexibility, etc? If not, that’s what you should be upset about.

    17. BRR*

      I get why you’re upset and I think it’s a reasonable thing to be upset about, but at the end of the day you’re probably just going to have to let it go. If you’re employer can be flexible about the floating holidays, can you try and ask them to switch the system so everyone can take the floating holidays in single hour increments instead of 8/10/12 hour increments? Or maybe trying asking for a third holiday for 8-hour employees so it’s more equal (not sure how the 10-hour employees would factor into this)? Or can you ask if office employees can work 10/12 hour shifts? Use the argument that’s it’s about being fair/equal (try to use their approach for your benefit).

      I also think you really can’t compare number of days worked. That is only harming your argument because most people will differentiate between an 8 and 10/12-hour shift.

    18. yellow haired female*

      Yes, you’re being unreasonable. No one should have to use vacation pay for floating holidays. They get a grand total of 8 extra hours….. That’s nothing to get upset about.

      Also, the 12-hour shifts work 84 hours per pay period, whereas the 8-hours work 80 hours per pay period, so in a single month, you’re already getting those extra 8 hours that you’re upset about.

      Framing it as “they get two extra months of days off!” is way off-base because they’re working more hours.

    19. RagingADHD*

      Well, are there people at your workplace who make more than you?

      Are there people who make less than you?

      Are there people with more or less skilled or demanding duties?

      Are there people who have more or less physical risk inherent to their work?

      People have different jobs. Different jobs come with different terms.

      If you don’t like the terms of your job, you could always get one of those “cushy” 12 hour shifts for yourself.

    20. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      What? If you use PTO and request a “day” off, this usually implies the entire 24 hour day off.
      You company sucks if people are not being given the entire day off, regardless of their shifts. This is wrong, and I suspect illegal.

      1. Loulou*

        Wait, what? In the system I’m used to, and the one I suspect OP is also referring to, you don’t take a “day” off using PTO, you take hours — so if you colloquially asked your boss for a “day” off and your workday is 8 hours, you’d use 8 hours of PTO. Likewise, when I have a holiday off I’m actually recieving 8 hours of holiday pay.

        Not sure where the 24 hours you mentioned is coming from – day in this case means “workday.” Also not sure what would be illegal about this. I don’t think there’s any legal requirement to provide floating holidays. But it’s really crappy to give people floating holidays that they can’t actually use as designed (taking a day off without dipping into other PTO buttons), so what OP’s company is now doing seems right to me.

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

      I think you need to think of it that your employer offers 2 shifts off each year, weather that was 8, 10 or 12 hours.

      Yes those that work 10 or 12 hour shifts may have an extra extra day off but they work much longer, probably can’t spend as much time with friends or family after work, and are probably much more tired after work. You are all, I assume, working the same amount in a pay period so why shouldn’t those who have longer days get 2 full shifts.

    22. MurpMaureep*

      I’d think of it less in terms of hours and more in terms of workdays. Your workdays are 8 hours, others’ are 10 or 12 hours. The intent is to give people two days off a year to use at their discretion. The shift in policy fulfills that intent.

      And take this as you will, but I feel like in general lots of people would be a lot happier if they didn’t concern themselves with the hours others do or don’t work. It’s up to management to make sure work is covered and one person’s time away doesn’t cause a burden for another. If there is an undue burden, that’s the issue to address, not that one person gets “free” hours off.

      Enjoy your own time off work and be happy that your coworkers who have longer shifts get to do the same.

    23. Nancy*

      Yes, you are off-base. The purpose of a floating holiday is to let people take off for holidays they celebrate that aren’t already on the schedule as a company-wide holiday (yes, I know people can take them off for whatever reason). Whether people work 2 hours or 20 hours on the specific day is not relevant because it is to be taken as a day. No one should have to use vacation time to cover some of their hours on their floating holiday.

      Working 12 hour shifts sounds awful to me, personally.

    24. thelettermegan*

      I think this is a case of trying to be way too clarifying the rules with mud. Why does the floating holiday have a specific amount of hours? That seems very unnecessary.

      A floating holiday is one day off, and unless you’ve got the option to do double shifts, the amount of hours shouldn’t play a role. It’s a day off! No work and no commute! The amount of hours of Bob’s normal shift shouldn’t matter when he’s with his family, getting himself psyched up for the Festivus Feats of Strength.

      If Bob’s job or life requires four or three 1/3 days longer days per week, he shouldn’t be forced to take vacation time just to enjoy his holiday like everyone else.

    25. L.H. Puttgrass*

      You do seem to be cherry-picking hours vs. days: you talk about days when it seems like it gives the 10/12-hour shift workers a better deal (i.e., the number of “days” they work) and hours when it seems like it gives the 10/12-hour shift workers a better deal (i.e., the number of “hours” they get off for floating holidays).

      It makes sense to me that floating holidays should be for the whole day, not just part of it. Okay, people who work 12-hour shifts get 8 extra hours of vacation in a year. So what? How does that hurt you? They also have to take 12 hours of PTO to take a whole day off, so the same amount of PTO doesn’t go as far. There are pluses and minuses to a long shift, and as pluses go, getting an extra 8 hours worth of floating holidays—which is still just two days—seems pretty small. Certainly nothing worth getting jealous over.

      1. Joielle*

        Yeah, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head about the tradeoff – if a 10/12 hour shift worker wants to take a full day of PTO, they have to use more hours out of their PTO bank. That’s the downside of working those shifts. The upside is that when they are given a day off for a holiday (or floating holiday in this case), they get more hours.

        We could debate all the other merits of working longer vs shorter shifts, but that’s really down to personal preference. In terms of the fairness of holiday/PTO distribution, it’s basically a wash.

    26. Dancing Otter*

      If your work isn’t affected by whether they get a whole day off or only 8 hours, then what difference does it make to you?
      Does their getting more time off mean that you get less? Not less than they do, but less than you would otherwise?
      Are you still fighting with your siblings over who gets a bigger piece of pie? Because that at least might be a zero-sum game. This is not.

    27. Person from the Resume*

      Disagree.

      My org gives people a day/shift off for a holiday. However long you’re scheduled to work that holiday or the equivalent for you, you get the whole shift. It’s not fair that their holiday isn’t a whole day off without using PTO.

      Do not compare “days off”. They’re not getting extra days off. They work longer shifts, maybe a rotating shift, they end up sleeping extra and adjusting. 12 hour shift workers rarely do anything extra after work so those “extra l” days off are spent doing things you do at the end of your work day.

    28. Advenella*

      Yes, you are being unreasonable. You’re nitpicking the hours off, when instead it’s just a shift that’s being treated as a floating holiday.

    29. Gremlins*

      I was just today remembering someone I know who hates it so much when someone else gets a benefit she doesn’t get that she would rather no one get benefits. Comparison is the thief of joy. Someone else getting an extra 8 hours off is not hurting you!

    30. Clisby*

      I don’t understand the problem, but maybe I’m missing something. You say the 12-hour shift people work 78 fewer days, but *day* is meaningless unless you’re comparing workers with the same shift schedules.

      If you work 7 12-hour days in a two-week period, you’re working 84 hours. Someone who works 10 8-hour days in the same period is working 80 hours. The 12-hour shift people are working *more* than the 8-hour people.

    31. kiki*

      I think your judgment may be a bit clouded on this. Your employers has two very different sets of employees with very different scheduling needs, so some things are going to be different between the two groups. A holiday, imo, is about having a whole day off of work, not a specific number of hours. It would be very annoying to have a holiday I’m entitled to that I functionally couldn’t use without taking additional PTO.

      A full day off is more valuable than having a few extra free hours per day spread over multiple days.
      I also feel like you’re focusing a lot on the benefits of additional days-off and not looking at the costs of those longer days: childcare, exhaustion, being on a different schedule than a lot of friends and family, etc. Their schedule also seems not to necessarily be more flexible, just different than yours.

      Instead of focusing on comparing your days off to theirs, I would focus on advocating for your own group’s flexibility where possible.

  3. Writing For Change*

    This has been a very timely week in AAM-land! That “how to guide teens to careers/how to find jobs you maybe didn’t even know existed” topic today, and the “how do you balance day job with passion job” yesterday? Those are subjects I’m writing a job guidance essay about right now.

    I’m trying to offer and describe some off-the-beaten path suggestions, things many people wouldn’t even consider, usually because it’s not something they’d know about. So here’s what I’m trying to find out about:

    -What are some patrol jobs focused on physical movement (walking, not heavy lifting/labor) that aren’t the “standard” security positions (so, not security guard or cop or park ranger)? So far I’ve got floodwatch and firewatch and seed monitor because I’ve done those, but I’m drawing a blank on other patrol positions. The primary focus is on positions that involve little to no human interaction on the job, and no strenuous physical activity beyond walking and light lifting for this section of the essay (many of the audience have mental health issues like severe anxiety disorder or physical limitations), but I’ll be grateful for any suggestions.

    -What about less well-known travel-delivery positions? People always think mail carrier/local parcel delivery, courier, trucker, and food delivery, but there must be more to it than those. I’m just drawing a blank here! All I can come up with are boat ferries.

    Thanks so much. :D

    1. londonedit*

      One of my relatives was a coach driver. He spent his career in the forces, and of course if you stay in for your full service term then you end up retiring pretty young with a decent pension. He didn’t want another stressful job, but he wanted to do something, he was single, and coach driving suited him perfectly. I’m not sure if this sort of thing exists in the US as it’s such a huge country but he mainly drove for a travel company that would do coach tours of various bits of the UK and Europe, so he’d drive a coachload of people up to Scotland for three days of touring around, or he’d do a week-long trip to France or whatever. All he had to do was the driving according to the itinerary; there was a rep from the tour company who would organise the passengers and talk about the scenery as they went past and whatnot. And all his food and accommodation was paid for, so he’d get to stay in the same hotel as the tourists and have a nice dinner – people enjoyed chatting with him and they’d all get to know each other over the course of the tour, which he really enjoyed. He saw loads of interesting places, it kept him busy but wasn’t too strenuous, and he met loads of interesting and new people all the time.

      1. Writing For Change*

        This is a great suggestion to add! I don’t think coach tours are extremely common here, but I’ve definitely heard of them from time to time. This would be a great complement to the boat tours I was already thinking of including.

          1. Writing For Change*

            My grandparents did coach tours along the West Coast and loved them! There doesn’t seem to be much call for them where I live, which is sad, because we’ve got a lot of history and great sights. It would be a great suggestion for the people who can drive if they could find something like that locally.

      2. Scott*

        I recently visited the US state of Alaska and learned that many people go there to do similar bus driving for the summer. The gentleman driving our tour bus said he was to be there from May through September and was making more money in that time than he ever did in any year driving in the lower 48. He lives in Arizona. Apparently if you have experience driving a bus and a CDL, good paying jobs are plentiful in Alaska for the summer.

    2. Nannerdoodle*

      I know this is technically a delivery driver of sorts, but for things like nuclear/radioactive pharmaceuticals that need to be delivered to hospitals for patients (for PET/CAT/bone scans), they need delivery drivers for those. The hours/pay are usually much better than delivery of things like packages or doing something like food delivery since it’s pretty specialized to specific types of pharmacies (not the usual ones people go to for everything).

      1. Writing For Change*

        I see a lot of people suggesting lab specimen transport, and it sounds like a really good suggestion to include!

        1. Cedrus Libani*

          I spent the Great Recession doing that, and I concur. The job I had didn’t even require driving – big-city hospital networks usually have shuttle buses. Human interaction is minimal (“I’m here to pick up XYZ”) – and these humans are at work, so they’re sober and polite, which is definitely not guaranteed in other delivery jobs. Worth noting that my “packages” were mostly bits of human meat left over from various surgeries, so if you’re squeamish it might be an issue.

    3. yogurt*

      What about DOT/Construction workers that stand with the “Slow” or “Stop” signs? I am not sure how you specifically get that job, but I knew someone who worked it once and it was very well-paid, very chill environment (besides the risk of standing on a highway!)

      1. Anonyme*

        As long as you “flag” how brutal it can be. They are out, standing still, for hours at a time in all weather.

    4. Bird*

      Reliable pet transporters for your second question, maybe? With COVID, many airlines have drastically reduced their allowances for both in-cabin and cargo domestic animal transport, so people who are moving or need to otherwise travel with pets are struggling. This is especially true for larger pets or brachycephalic pets, who are often barred from air travel anyway. This kind of service could even be useful in a smaller local area, since some pet owners rely heavily on public transit or other transport services that tend not to allow animals that aren’t service animals. Interactions with people are usually brief (pick-up/drop-off) or could be done primarily via text updates.

      1. Artemesia*

        We just had to get two cats from California to the midwest; we had assumed we would have to fly out and carry them back, but it turns out there are people who drive animals cross country. It is very expensive but it is a service a fair number of people need. Our cats went from LA to Texas to Tennessee and to us dropping other travelers off in those other destinations.

      2. Free Meerkats*

        Thanks for this! I hadn’t even thought of this. I’m looking at what to do with myself after retirement and a long road trip alone is one of my Happy Places. Making it in the company of a pet or three would make it even better! On to Google!!!!

    5. I edit everything*

      There are escort vehicle drivers (the people who drive in front of wide loads on the highways), and people whose job it is to move cars, either between rental company locations or auto dealers. I don’t know if you’d count these as courier/delivery, but auto parts delivery drivers, the people who transport bloodwork and samples to labs. There are also people who will drive your car across a long bridge for you (like the Mackinac Bridge).

      1. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

        As someone who works in the pharma reverse logistics space, I know that there are also escort vehicle drivers for truckloads of controlled substances (mostly CII) that are expired or damaged and are being shipped to burn destruction facilities. These trucks are filled with fentanyl, oxycodone, morphine and other opiates.

        The escorts make sure that there is no drug diversion from when the truck leaves the return facility until it is delivered at the burn site. We often use retired police or security folks, or controlled substance cage employees from our own facility who volunteer to drive along for a few days instead of doing their regular job.

    6. Ranon*

      Crop surveying isn’t patrol per se but it’s relatively low contact with other folks and an outdoors kind of thing (I’m not totally familiar with the day too day but have a few family members in the field). Also has travel embedded for some folks as they follow the crops, one family member splits between the south and the Midwest

      Oil work is going more and more computerized but there are still a lot of folks out in the field who are mostly driving around to read data/ make sure the data bits are working with the machine bits/ doing repair and maintenance work. Same with utilities/ meter reading/ etc.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        I was also going to mention meter reading for electric companies. The potential downside is that presumably those meters are going to be upgraded to actually send the data back to the electric company.

        1. Banana*

          They are. My power and water meters are actually inside my house, and I used to have to send monthly readings to my power and water companies, and they’d send someone out to audit the reading a couple of times a year (if I forgot to send the reading, they’d bill me based on historical usage and send me a reminder…I forgot a lot…). My in-house meters were upgraded to self-sending readers about five years ago.

        2. Ina+Lummick*

          Yeah that definetly the case – my water meter got upgraded and my electric and gas technically are smart but they lost their connection a long while ago, so I still need to submit meter reading myself.

      2. LBD*

        I work in a remote location (10 miles from the closest community which has a population of less than 1000 people and a handful of places along the way in between) and I have interacted with the meter readers who read our meters. They announce their arrival on the property and go read our meters. I know that they cover a lot of distance driving, both along the highway and along the little side roads that take them in to all the customers. They spend way more time driving than meter reading and follow regular routes that bring them back every month or so.
        I talked to one meter reader who asked about any problem wildlife in the area, particularly bears, and she told me about their team requesting bear bangers in their gear kit which comes from a contracted company on the east coast. They were denied because apparently there were few official reports of problem bears in the area. Well, no, people who live or work in wilderness areas have to be pretty self sufficient and don’t usually call in outside official help if they can get Bill from up the highway to come help!

        1. LBD*

          Just to add, by remote location, I mean the job site is a long way from everything including where I live, not that I work from home, away from the main job site! I stay on site whilst working and return home for days off.

    7. The Prettiest Curse*

      There are people who get paid to drive cars to between dealership locations (not just on those huge transporters you see, but individual cars too.)

      1. Not Australian*

        I had an uncle who was paid to put X miles on new import cars so that they became ‘used’ and could be re-exported … I think? This was in the UK about 30 years ago so the details are vague and it may have been quasi-legal even then (knowing him, and he’s no longer around to ask) but my point is that there are a lot of driving/vehicle transport jobs that don’t spring to mind on first consideration. DH also had a job transporting rental vehicles to commercial locations; they were long days and a logistical nightmare, but it was always fascinating and unusual work.

    8. Not teenage but still ninja turtle*

      I’m not sure if this qualifies, but bakers! There are several bakeries and coffee shops in my area that hire special needs workers (my current job contracts with them to cater a few events a year). Someone else takes orders and handles sales, but actually following a recipe, making cakes or drinks etc has a physical component, is repetitive, and doesn’t deal with customer service.

    9. Weegie*

      I don’t know if this quite counts as ‘patrol’, perhaps more ‘compliance’ or ‘quality control’, but I once met an Australian who had a small lumber-measuring business. He would drop into lumber yards periodically, measure the cut lumber, and record the measurements. I think it always so the lumber yard could be sure the planks they were supplying to contractors were more-or-less a uniform length. He combined it with being a tour guide and a few other, mostly outdoor, jobs.

    10. Bagpuss*

      What is the specifc appeal of the travel/delivery type work? Are you looking for jobs / suggestions that focus on driving or travel or is there somethingelse about that type of role that appels and you want to include?

      Would things like medical courier (delivering blood / organs for transplant etc) fall into the same sort of category?
      I know here you can get a hire car delivered to your home for a fee but I am not sure if the drivers are a separate category of worker. Also increasingly there are second hand car copanies whihc will colelct and deliver the vehicles to people’s homes, so a slightly different type of delivery driving! And of course the people who specialist in moving unusual loadssuch as supersized machinery.

      If it is travelling / driving that appeals do things like cabbie / bus driver / count? Or hospital trnasport or even thhings like driving for an undertaker?

    11. Imp*

      Almost every industry has some kind of driving position! Event Production warehouses/rental warehouses have drivers to deliver gear for events/installs. Depending on the company, it might involve pushing things off said truck, but if you’re delivering to a union location, then all you’re doing is driving. Same for film/television. Lots of drivers involved! In general, warehouses might be a good place to look for jobs like you’ve described.

      I saw a suggestion for dog walker, but I personally wouldn’t include that. I worked for a dog training/walking business, and it’s A LOT more walking and management of dog behaviors unless you’re doing one-on-one walks. Even then, I don’t trust a lot of the Rover/Wag-esque companies due to poor animal vetting (is the dog reactive? trained on leash?) and equally poor protections for the dog/owner and the walker.

      1. 1LFTW*

        Agreed that pack walks require a lot of handling and behavioral experience, and with your skepticism of app-based services, but when I did this work I knew A LOT of dog walkers with neurodivergences, mental illnesses, and physical disabilities.

        Generally these folks are self-employed, and utilize referral networks to maximize the flexibility they need to make the job work for them. For instance, someone who couldn’t walk long distances might specialize in shorter walks for senior dogs, but might refer a larger/more active dog to me – I prefer walking to driving, because driving is what causes me pain.

    12. Al*

      I know you mentioned couriering already, but I always associated that with intracity document transport until recently, so I want to mention long distance courier driving also. Both my father and father-in-law have been doing this during their retirements. FiL mostly transports car parts around the Southwest, and my dad delivers everything from computer parts to transplant organs around the Deep South. They’re contractors rather than employees, and using their own vehicles.

    13. Gracely*

      Maybe animal control? Game warden? Retail floor worker? Elections monitor or poll worker?

      As for the second, in Alaska/Australia aren’t there pilots that do deliveries? And sea planes? Would trains/freight fit the description?

    14. Writing For Change*

      Hey, everyone, I just got slammed with post-lunch meetings, so I just wanted to thank you all for the suggestions so far! Even the ones you said you might not think would apply probably have some useful component for my essay. :)

    15. Sigrid says hey*

      Pipeline inspection and maintenance includes the job of literally “walking the line” doing visual ground observations and some testing.

    16. Hermione Danger*

      I don’t know whether this fits, but what about museum security? I live in a city with some pretty fancy art museums, and we have guards who stand in the rooms with the artwork or do walks through various galleries.

    17. Llellayena*

      Inspection of physical facilities? I saw that pipeline inspection was listed (which was my first thought) but other things need regular inspections as well.

    18. Not So Little My*

      A friend’s retired dad would deliver auto parts from a local supplier to various dealers and mechanic shops.

    19. Tabby Baltimore*

      Over 30 years ago, a friend at the time worked what he described as a medical courier job. I don’t know if he was based at a local-area hospital, or a lab, but 2-3 times a week, he was given liquid and tissue specimens (appropriately cooled and housed) and drove overnight to get them from Northern Virginia up to a lab in King of Prussia, PA, where he said a lot of diagnostic labs were located. On his trip back to his base, he would take back anything the lab needed to return to the originating hospital/base lab.

    20. Seeking Second Childhood*

      The one I’m thinking of may have too many people for your purposes… Railroad conductor.

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

      I had a friend who worked a job that was going out and spray-painting the markings on the pavement that show where water/gas lines go (I can’t remember if he was employed by Dig Safe and was marking where existing lines were, or if he was working for the utility company marking where new lines were going to be put in, but I think the latter). He said it was really nice because he was pretty independent and got to explore a lot of different parts of the city, plus the actual physical work wasn’t that strenuous.

      I don’t know if this counts as travel-delivery, but in my city I’ve noticed a lot of mobile notaries being advertised, which is certainly traveling to deliver a service.

  4. ThatGirl*

    Anyone here works or has worked at an ad/pr/marketing agency?

    I’m a marketing creative, but have only worked in-house for companies. I hear stories about how high-pressure agency life can be, and how layoff prone — although I’ve been laid off twice now, so clearly corporate life is not exempt from that. Anyway, I’m curious how people like it or don’t, any contrasts or useful info…

    1. KayDeeAye*

      Like you, I have spent my (now quite lengthy) career working everywhere but an agency. Several of my coworkers have agency backgrounds, though, and one thing that I have found really startling about their stories is how paltry the benefits are, e.g., maternity benefits. You would think that an industry that is so dependent on young women would have at least decent maternity benefits, but apparently not.

      They say the experience as a whole is valuable, but they don’t seem in any hurry to go back to it, that’s for sure.

      I’m very curious to see what other replies you get, though. Maybe my coworkers’ experience isn’t typical.

    2. Moonlight*

      My friend works for one and it seems manageable for her; I think she might be in a bit of a unique situation though.

    3. Filosofickle*

      There are tradeoffs. I’m not a huge fan of agency life because (IME) there’s typically a relentlessness about billables and growing accounts and crazy deadlines that wears on me. It often feels more about the money and awards than the work, and there’s an intensity to the people that I don’t love. It can feel like grind culture. On the other hand, you generally get access to a much broader range of projects and clients that benefits your portfolio and your creativity. It pushes you harder to develop skills and you naturally build your network more due to client exposure and higher turnover.

      There are agencies that are more likely to call themselves studios / firms / consultancies, that split the difference for me and that’s what I looked for. (Back in the day, agencies made the real money by selling the ongoing ad/media space, and studios made their money on the creative work. That’s where my distinction comes from.) So you have to consider the culture and values of individual agencies and look for ones that feel right regardless of the environment.

    4. College Career Counselor*

      Not me, but a college buddy of mine did a couple of stints in corporate agency PR. He said in his experience, there were two basic factors influencing quality of work life:
      1) the client is always right
      2) the client is always crazy

      This led to a lot of 11th hour changes and late nights for no real good reason.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Unfortunately that’s becoming a feature of my current corporate job (internal customers). But yeah I hate it.

    5. Not teenage but still ninja turtle*

      Without question, the PR agency was the worst experience of my life. Satan wakes up every morning and looks to my former CEO for inspiration. A truly vile human.

      1. ThatGirl*

        oh dear. to be clear I’m more focused on marketing/ad than PR – I know PR agencies can get sketchy – but ummm good to know all my concerns about agencies are valid!

    6. Eleanor Rigby*

      I work for a mid-size agency that mostly works for governments agencies/associations/nonprofits and have found that our work is relatively stable for that reason. The work is more demanding than in-house but less so than bigger agencies with mostly commercial clients like Ogilvy etc.

    7. Marketing*

      I have been in brand side copy and content for 22 years….minus 14 months I spent at an agency. Half of that time I was searching for a way back to brand marketing. It was the worst. Such a grind.

    8. Agency Life Ain't It*

      I was in house and then went to an agency. I stayed for a very short stint, it just did not work for me between the terrible benefits (I got a total of 8 days of PTO per year, 5 vacation days and 3 sick days, and my insurance costs were astronomical) and the pressure of billable hours.

      I was also told that being in a different time zone from the main office was fine and I could work 8-5 my time with no issues because they had multiple people in different time zones but meetings were still regularly scheduled that I needed to be there for at 6pm my time.

    9. FromCanada*

      I worked in ad agencies for 6 years over 15 years ago. I actually wanted to work in marketing but ended up in agency life. In my experience, women either leave before kids (me – while pregnant) or don’t have kids, or have a live-in nanny. The hours are horrible, there was no work life balance and you didn’t really have time out any outside commitments because you never knew if you would be able to make them.

      There used to be very few women beyond the account supervisor level (not sure if its still the case – this is basically first level management but its similar on the creative side) and the hours are horrible. The culture in most of the agencies was party hard and nothing else matters but the work.

      In those 6 years I was laid off 3 times (accounts moved, I was told I was very good at my job). I was so burned out at the end that anything to do with marketing or advertising made me physically ill.

      I would never go back and I do something very different now not at all related.

    10. urguncle*

      I worked in adtech and ended up in an agency and lasted 8 months. I absolutely hated every moment of it: the politics, the drama, everything. I consider myself to be a pretty outgoing and easy person to work with, but I was constantly being ridiculed and mocked.

      A good place to look might be some of the vendors that you used as an in-house advertiser. They all need marketing and they love to know what their customers want and you’re in a place to deliver that.

    11. Alfalfa Alfredo*

      I work PR in-house for a communications team, but that being said I have agency contacts across the country who I would consider dear friends. Everywhere from solo practitioners all the way up to SVPs of multi-city agencies.

      IMO, it really depends on the agency. Of course there are billables and client recruitment/retention that is critical, and sometimes losing a client means the entire client team is laid off. But there’s travel and some serious money to be made, so it could be a risk worth taking. Also, some agencies focus on B2B clients versus B2C, so it may be more technical at times.

      I personally wouldn’t like agency life for no other reason than to not get a deep-dive into your own product if you’re in-house. I love what I rep, I love the people I really, truly get to know, and in-house is a muck better place for me.

    12. PassThePeasPlease*

      I’ve worked at a subtype of advertising agencies (media agencies) for all of my career so I don’t have anything to compare to but what I’ve found makes the most difference in day to day WLB/happiness is the team you’re on and how willing the higher ups are to push back on quick client requests. I’ve been on teams with tight turnaround times (bordering on unachievable) but my current team really values balance so it’s never too hectic at a given point.

      And a nice thing about the layoffs is if it’s coming from a client (i.e. losing an account) rather than the agency, there is the opportunity to switch to a different account within the agency if there are open positions.

      If you are looking at switching to an agency I would advise that you should pay closer attention to the team you will be working with in the interviews than the prestige of the agency (since that changes so frequently and doesn’t mean much in the day to day). Also ask how the team handles client communications/requests to help give better insight.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Appreciate this feedback. I don’t know if it’s worth making the switch or not but all of this is giving me good ideas on questions I could ask if I do interview.

    13. Triumphant Fox*

      I worked in an agency and it was a great way to get started in marketing – I fell into that job and it was absolutely brutal. I loved it but it was basically gave me great experience to carry through the rest of my career. I had fantastic clients who I loved, but I would never go back. It’s not something I would choose now that I have children.

    14. Charles Shaw*

      Worked at an ad agency for several years — the layoffs were a constant and just about all deadlines were crazy. I’m now in in-house marketing, and while there still are layoffs, it’s not nearly the same churn, and timelines tend to be much more reasonable. Depends on the companies, of course, and there probably are more fun perks at agencies (although that tends to fluctuate with account successes) but I prefer the (relative) stability of in-house.

    15. Redaktorin*

      I’m actually very happy to have stumbled into ad agency work these past couple of years. In my field (editing), the agencies pay far better and the few in-house jobs come with absolutely horrible benefits. The work-life balance can be worse at some agencies than at others, but when this got to be too much I just allowed myself to be poached by a less busy employer. And my team is usually siloed far away from any dramatics.

      Honestly just very surprised that so many people here don’t like working for agencies.

  5. TeenieBopper*

    I like my job. I don’t really intend on leaving and I’m not actively looking (but I’ll take recruiters’ phone calls). Things I enjoy about my job:

    *Thirty five hour work week (40 hours with 1 hour paid lunch).
    *Incredible PTO package. Holidays/sick days/vacation is one big pool but I currently get 40 total days a year and will gain two more when I hit my anniversary in six months.
    *100% work from home and I even live in the city the company is based.
    *Lots of flexibility – it’s very easy for me to flex time in the middle of the day for an appointment.
    *I’m generally left to my own devices. No one is green dot policing me on Teams. I do feel like I abuse this sometimes, but I’ve never had a poor performance review.
    *I generally enjoy the work. I get to use software I enjoy using and solve problems that I find interesting. And there are opportunities to develop my skills with these tools and occasionally add new ones to my kit.
    *I qualify for student loan forgiveness with this company. Currently that’s approximately the equivalent of ~$20k per year and that number is only increasing because my student loan balance is staying the same, but I’m getting closer and closer to 120 payments.

    Things I don’t like about my job:
    *I’m in the 15th percentile in terms of salary of people with my job title and my skill set.

    This didn’t really bother me until recently. Even being underpaid for my job and skills, I was okay with it because I could still live comfortably. But as we all know, inflation is kind of a pain in the ass right now. Leading up to my last annual review, I asked for a raise that would have been my starting salary from 2018, but in 2022 dollars. It would have been approximately 11%. I was given 4%. Both my boss and my grand boss told me I’m a fundamental part of the team (there are only two of us in the department, and one of them is my boss) and that things would likely be very bad if I wasn’t there. I believe them, and I believe them when they said they went to the CFO and tried to get my that raise.

    I’m happy where I’m at and can still live comfortably (I make 60k in an average CoL area), but eventually I’m going to need to buy a new car and my girlfriend/eventual fiance wants kids in the next three years and I’m going to need to redo my kitchen/bathroom and none of those things will take PTO or job flexibility as payment. I don’t really know what I’m trying to say. There’s a salary number where I’d be okay giving up some of the things I like about my current job, but I feel like it’s a number that no one is going to offer me. I guess I’m just feeling depressed about this? Like I’m just going to be trapped in poor salary for my entire career because I don’t want to give up non-salary benefits. I’m also in early middle age, so I feel like job hopping every year or two for better pay is really an option anymore. Is my reading of the situation that it’s as poor as I think it is?

    1. ThatGirl*

      I think there’s a misconception out there that the higher up the salary ladder you go, the worse the work-life balance is or something along those lines. And that *can* be true, but it’s not universally true. There is probably a job out there that will pay you better and offer you most, if not all, of the benefits you currently have. And some of that comes with seniority within a company too; managers may keep a somewhat tighter rein on you at first and then give you more leeway and flexibility as time goes on.

      Anecdotally, my husband was in a somewhat similar boat where he thought he’d never get paid decently to do what he does with good benefits, etc, and this year he finally changed jobs and got a 58% raise.

      So I would encourage you to be picky, for sure, but maybe ramp up your job search a little in the hopes of stumbling across the right new fit. Because I feel like it’s out there somewhere.

    2. Choggy*

      Have you done a salary analysis that you can provide to your boss if you feel you are being underpaid? I have a feeling, given what you’ve listed as your benefits, that is what is probably holding this back. I’ve been in companies that offer lower salaries but have really good bennies and think it’s perfectly fine. I completely agree that benefits don’t pay the bills, so you have to decide if you want to have a hard discussion with your boss (when will my salary be at X, what do I need to get to that salary) or move on to greener (money) pastures.

    3. T. Boone Pickens*

      You actually make $80k+ with the student loan forgiveness. Definitely take that into your salary considerations. Granted, I’m not sure if that perk is universal in your industry so if it is, obviously disregard my notes.

      1. TeenieBopper*

        Yeah, I basically count forgiveness amount/years left as part of my current salary. Obviously not exact because forgiveness isn’t guaranteed in today’s political climate but it’s a reasonable estimate I think. Earlier this year I was offered about 80k but no loan forgiveness and was also giving up 15 days PTO, 4 days/week WFH and what sounded like a less chill office environment. I turned it down.

        1. Gyne*

          Yeah, I think you would be hard pressed to find another job with benefits and flexibility as good as you have now AND a higher salary. This certainly doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look around, but I wouldn’t get too hung up on the idea that you are being underpaid. Take a step back and look at your total compensation package – hours worked, pto, loan repayment, etc so you are truly comparing apples to apples when you do.

    4. Hen in a Windstorm*

      “I feel like it’s a number that no one is going to offer me”
      “I’m just going to be trapped in poor salary for my entire career”
      “I feel like job hopping every year or two for better pay is really an option”

      <- Based on what facts? You are sabotaging yourself to no purpose. Apply for some jobs, interview, find out if any of this is true.

      Take my word for it, I used to do this to myself because I also valued my 35 hour workweek, PTO and low cost health insurance. If you don't actually know what's out there, how can you tell yourself it's better or worse? Also ask yourself if you honestly believe this is the only company in the world with these benefits? No? Then find another.

      (BTW, this is called fortune-telling, where you negatively predict the future, thus justifying inaction. You are trapping yourself and then telling yourself there is nothing you can do.)

      1. TeenieBopper*

        Appreciate you giving a name to the mindset. Will be useful next time I talk to my therapist. It seems like the consensus is just “Apply to jobs. Don’t take an offer you don’t like.” Ramping up a search will probably be something I do after the holidays, assuming the looming recession hasn’t ground the last two years of worker advantage into dust (oh look, I’m doing it again).

    5. Anonymous Koala*

      Are you me? Lol. I am in the same position but probably about 10 years younger than you. For me, there are two reasons I stay in my chill but low paid job: (1) I can leave whenever I want. If the money I could get somewhere else ever outweighs the perks of being in a chill job, I can leave. If an opening comes up within my current org for more money, I can take it. (2) If I ever want to start a side business (something that is looking more and more possible for me) or our family ever needs more time/attention, my current job allows me tons of time and stability to do those things. I feel like my chill low paid job is a great way to give myself the bandwidth to explore my passions and try and make something lucrative out of them. It’s an advantage very few people have.

    6. peanut butter*

      To be honest, I don’t understand your work’s student loan repayment scheme. But, if you do want to jump to a higher paying job, make sure you include that. So, if they pay $20 to your student loan, is that the equivalent of making $80k? Be careful of that math.

      1. TeenieBopper*

        I’m in the United States and qualify for public service loan forgiveness working at my current employer. Once I’ve made 120 qualifying payments (10 years, and I’m about four and a half in) the balance of my publicly held direct loans are forgiven.

  6. It's a beautiful morning*

    Any update from the writer that works/worked at Twitter? Did they take the 3 months severance?

    Anyone on here that stayed?

    1. WellRed*

      I am not but in relation to twitter this week, I read that another concern of employees in the firing line is they may be on the hook for things they expected to get reimbursed for, in some cases thousands of dollars.

      1. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

        Not affiliated with Twitter – but it sounds like most of the company’s payroll department has opted to leave, which will make any kind of salary payments, company reimbursements, and severance payments even more… interesting.

        Meanwhile, those who are staying are locked out until Monday… and the World Cup starts on Sunday. That should also be… interesting.

        And the chaos goblin just keeps on joking about it all. Ugh, he really is a supreme parasite, petulant pimple, lawless oligarch, and mediocre manchild, just to name a few terms of endearment used by some awesome prankster.

        1. Cedrus Libani*

          I’m not affiliated with Twitter either, I’m just sitting here with my bucket of popcorn, enjoying the show.

          My analysis of this latest blunder is that he forgot he’s not dealing with SpaceX-type employees. I know these people. They genuinely believe they’re changing the world. They don’t WANT work-life balance, they want to watch the rocket they made fly into space, just like they dreamed of as children. Twitter? These people want to do their jobs and go home. They will laugh in your face if you challenge them to be “hardcore”. Which is exactly what happened.

    2. Other Alice*

      Hoping to get some update. It sounds like a royal mess. Twitter is how I keep in touch with most of my online friends so I’d be sad to see the site imploding (although satisfying because he so very much deserves it for his terrible decisions).

    3. calvin blick*

      I would love to hear an update. I’m curious as to whether twitter will have the cash to pay three months severance to 75% of the company, especially since they seem to be losing advertisers and I can’t imagine that many people are paying for Twitter Blue.

    4. WoodswomanWrites*

      I feel so bad for the Twitter workers who aren’t able to resign because they depend on the income, health insurance, visa status, etc. The New York Times reports that today Musk is tweeting requests for people who know how to do coding and substack to let him know. It seems the entire platform could collapse soon.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        Yes. I don’t know what fraction of the workers are H1B visa holders, but when losing or job (or quitting) can result in deportation, it’s a very different calculation.

  7. Countdown to retirement*

    Tell me your experiences of the last few years before retirement!

    I’m between five and ten years away from being able to retire and ideally would like to be doing something different 1-3 years from now. My current job is basically fine, well-paid and with a good retirement plan – but it’s getting stale, plus there are some internal politics/reorg stuff that means it might not be sustainable beyond next year anyway. And it’s quite high-level and is beginning to take a toll on my health.

    I’m wondering how others similarly placed have handled/are handling things. Did you decide to just stick it out until you could take your pension? Did you go part-time, or ‘downsize’ to a different, (hopefully) less stressful job? Start a business/side hustle? Did you experience age discrimination when looking for a new job? Whether you stayed put/made a move/lowered your hours/whatever, was it the best decision ever, or do you regret it?

    I’d love to hear any and all experiences, good or bad, of navigating the final years of being in the workplace.

    1. irene adler*

      I’m within 10 years of retirement.
      Age discrimination is real. I’ve been looking to change jobs for the past 7 years.
      No one will hire me.

      I’ve gone back to school and earned several certifications and multiple AA degrees. All pertain to my current industry. Actually, I’ve been taking classes all along.

      Makes no difference. I’m always the “we-went-with-the-other-candidate-good-luck-with-your-job-search!” candidate.

      So factor in impediments to whatever plans you have to change employers.

    2. Beth*

      I’m less than 3 years from retirement. My company has changed enough (and not for the better) in the last few years that if I weren’t so close to retiring, I might be looking around . . . but even if I could find something, I’m uninspired to try. It’s easier to coast than to change. I don’t like feeling this way, and I wish I didn’t; but the best approach I’ve found for the present is to detach emotionally and just not care the way I used to.

      I used to put a lot of energy into my work, and I used to be energized by it. That’s no longer the case. I had to go through a process of grieving for the loss of the work environment that I used to have, even though I’m still in the same job.

    3. ABK*

      I came here today to write a similar post! My 60th birthday is looming, and I plan to work until 65 and not a day longer.
      I haven’t been actively looking but have applied for a few positions over the past few months, got to the top 2 in one of them but didn’t receive an offer. I don’t know if the reason is age but it’s certainly possible (probable).
      I am thinking of downsizing, if possible, but in reality, I will most likely stay and coast,

    4. Dr. Prepper*

      I was in pharmaceutical clinical development (think board certified physicians as the talent pool.) As a typical US candidate I changed careers in my 40’s and was in the biz for 20 years now. But, whereas in the US you almost universally start out as a practicing doc first, then move into industry, globally many countries have programs specifically tailored for med school graduates to move directly to industry.

      That said, the age discrimination is pervasive and rampant, although they never admit to that. They are looking to cheap out by hiring a foreign-trained doc who can barely speak understandable English (sorry, but this is a reality, although most read and write proficiently) because they can get them for one-third of the salary.

      I say all this to warn others that the dream of someone looking to hire a 60+ year old employee due to their “life experience” is a fantasy in my experience. So, if you are seeking a new job in your same field, be aware of your uphill climb.

      Consider a side gig only if you absolutely do not need to rely on the income and you are very aware of the start-up costs. Most of these, unless they are purely service-based, take a while to get customers and become profitable.

      Lastly, be very, very certain of your GUARANTEED options as to health insurance, commercial (through a spouse) or Medicare, Social Security, pension and retirement benefits if any.

      Good luck

    5. Free Meerkats*

      My POV is a bit different from most because I’m in government (and have been since high school.) I’m at the point of retirement now; I’ve told HR I’m one bad day away from calling in retired. Fully vested in the state Public Employee Retirement System, past full Social Security age, decent amount of deferred comp set aside. Planned retirement date is March 31.

      Assuming you’re vested in your retirement plan and can keep it if you leave your current employer, I see little downside to moving on. I stayed where I was, even though I could have oved to another city and was recruited by a couple. I would have increased my retirement check by a bit by doing so, but am comfortable here, know the lay of the land, and have no desire to move. I’ve worked at paying down debt and doing house stuff I could while getting a paycheck. This year has been taking care of medical stuff while fully insured, I even extended my planned retirement date by 6 months so my spouse could take care of some deferred dental work under insurance.

      I’m still trying to decide what I’m going to do with myself once the daily work stops. Good luck with whatever you do.

    6. Magda*

      A lot of folks in this basket go for consulting. They use the connections they’ve made in their careers and do as much or as little as they want. Particularly if you have an insurance option, it seems pretty doable in many fields. Once you see the exit sign I think it’s hard to put up with the ordinary BS you’ve been dealing with all along.

    7. Pobody’s Nerfect*

      What is this pension thing you speak of? No such thing in the US, especially with both Social Security and Medicare likely on the way out and will be dried up before those of us who’ve paid into them all our working lives can use them. I’m in my 50’s now and expect to have to work well into my 70’s and maybe even later, and that’s just to be able to keep my house and health insurance so I don’t end up homeless or bankrupt from medical expenses. And that’s only if I can find non-agist employers who will let me keep working. Hell of a place, this country.

      1. dreaming*

        One of the BIG perks for most government workers is their pension plans that they have.
        I am 61 and plan on working till 67 to get the maximum SS (and I don’t see it ‘drying’ up – that is a political tactic). My house is paid off next summer – I have a full time job and a consulting 1099 job, but once the house is paid I may look for more consulting and get out of the corporate job where I manage people and have stress.

    8. Tesuji*

      Personally, I decided in my mid-40s that I needed to make sure wherever I was at 50 was somewhere I could handle being until retirement, because I very much didn’t want to be in that position.

      My experience/understanding is that unless you’re competing for jobs where everyone at your level is your age (e.g., senior consultant jobs where you need about your level of experience), age is a significant detriment. If you’re thinking of taking a leap, this isn’t going to get better, so you probably don’t want to sit on this.

      You might want to look at federal government jobs, since that decreases the chance of age discrimination while also potentially being less stressful of a job.

      … but, honestly, “basically fine, well-paid and with a good retirement plan” is going to be a pretty high bar to beat for most job-searchers in their 50’s. The fact that you reference a pension implies that either you’re not in the US (and hence, most commenters aren’t going to be able to help) or that you don’t realize how tough it’s going to be to do better.

    9. Camelid coordinator*

      I’d been at my higher ed workplace so long I could technically retire at 55. What this got me was the option to stay in my insurance plans but pay at a higher rate, and, most importantly, the ability to get the tuition benefit when kiddo goes to college (about $20K a year). I was very dissatisfied but decided to hang on once I hit 52. I will never say ‘you can do anything for 3 years’ ever again! After retiring from there I moved to a new town for my spouse’s job and started an absorbing half-time remote job (that often feels like full time). The job and geography changes feel like practice for retirement for me. I realize we are fortunate in being able to have my salary go down as much as it did.

    10. Drago Cucina*

      I’m about 5 years away. I can start drawing Social Security and draw my full salary in two years.

      At the start of the pandemic I “retired” from my state job to take a W2 contract position for a federal agency. In August I switched jobs to be a federal government employee. Now, I’m fortunate that while I won’t be able to save tons in the retirement, I was able to purchase my military time and am vested.

      I didn’t hit age discrimination because I was able to leverage my experience. There are lots of librarians, but not that many who have been around as long as I have and are willing to start fresh. I think the key is to think how you can translate your experience into a new adventure.

      A serious conversation I had with my husband was, ‘What will I do if I retire in two years?’ The reality is I would probably take a volunteer role and put in 40 hours a week. So, I’m planning on at least another five years.

    11. Fredericka Quintessa Biggard*

      I worked for a university since 1985, mostly in IT, last job as a web developer, which I really liked (turned out to be the best job of my career). Retired in March 2020, was asked to come back as a remote part time consultant several months later (and did), then worked until June 2022. It was hard for me to retire a second time because I really loved the work and the people, but the stress was a real thing. They tried to convince me to stay on another year, and it was gratifying to be needed, but I decided to retire for good, and haven’t regretted it. Pension and social security are working out for me, for which I’m grateful. It would have been a very different situation if I hadn’t been able to determine my own workload and if there were difficult office politics — I would have left at age 66 with no regrets. As it is, I still miss the work and my colleagues but I haven’t been bored by retirement, quite the opposite.

    12. California Dreamin’*

      My spouse and I just had to confront this head-on. He has a high-level, well paying job that is very stressful and the politics make him increasingly miserable, but it’s our only source of health benefits (my career is freelance.) We’d agreed last year that he needs to continue working until our youngest kids are out of college in six and a half years (spouse is nearing 60 so this would be good timing.). His company recently made offers for certain employees to take early retirement in hopes of avoiding layoffs next year. The offer was so very tempting. He agonized and agonized while I fretted and fretted. We worried about ageism and that he wouldn’t be able to find another comparable job (and would that even be an improvement?) He could shift to freelancing where he would be an independent contributor instead of leading a team, and honestly he would likely enjoy that more, but it would be a substantial decrease in income and we’d have to buy private insurance. But what price is one’s health worth? In the end he let the offer slip by because there was just too much uncertainty about his prospects and significant lifestyle changes would be required. But I’m sad that at his age, he’s probably stuck now until retirement.

      1. Countdown to retirement*

        I have been going through a really similar process of agonising and deciding! Hence why I made this post. Someone else mentioned consulting/freelancing, and I do know a few people who have done that. In all cases it has been their former employer who asked them to come back for a while as a consultant or trainer. It’s definitely something I’ve considered.

    13. Countdown to retirement*

      Thanks, everyone, for your comments and ideas. Looks like the consensus is mostly ‘stay put for now, coast, and cut hours/downsize when you can or if it becomes necessary’!
      Tesuji is right, I’m not in the US, and from what I read on here our pension systems are quite different. I don’t have enough in mine for early retirement, but in a year or so there will be sufficient funds in it to top up my state pension when I get it (who knows when that will be – they keep moving the goalposts!). At that stage I could move on to a less demanding, lower-paid job if I want to/ have to, and could persuade someone to hire me. Much to continue thinking about.

    14. Ready for more flixibility*

      On the same boat, planning to retire in two years, in my current job for two.

      I’m in a hot niche and get hit with requests to chat by hiring managers and headhunters every week. Age has not been a problem after 50, but I feel that the primary reason is continuous learning and publishing articles that showcase my skills for more than a decade.

      I’m considering moving to a lower cost of living area and working on a project by project basis to have more time to travel. My priorities have definitely changed as I got older, and now I’m much less attracted to important job titles or top salary…

  8. Rain's Small Hands*

    Is our Twitter employee from earlier this week around? I’ve been following the latest developments and keep thinking back to him/her and wondering if they jumped on the severance.

  9. One (1) Arctic Monkey*

    Let me set the scene: You’re in an office job. You are sick but not with Covid. Due to circumstances beyond your control, you only have ten hours of paid sick time left. You take one sick day. It only helps minimally. The next day, everyone is telling you that you sound terrible and should be at home… but you only have two paid hours of sick time remaining. What do you do?

    1. to varying degrees*

      In an ideal world you should be able to stay home, but sometimes that’s not realistic. Two questions: can you go ahead and use sick leave that you have yet to earn and have it deducted later? and 2. can you afford to stay home w/o pay for another day (or more)?

      1. D*

        Very true – and if you do go in you absolutely MUST mask, even if it’s uncomfortable and sucks with a runny nose. In my mind that is the bare minimum of being decent in a shared workspace while sick.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Ask my boss/manager if there’s any way to use sick time in advance of accruing it and/or ask if I can use PTO today since no sick leave left. If no options tell my coworkers “It sounds worse than it feels and I’m out of sick days anyway” in a cheerful manner.

    3. Nikki*

      Everyone is saying that to you because they don’t want to catch whatever you have. You should talk to your manager about the situation and try and figure something out. Maybe there’s an option to work from home or in a part of the office that’s isolated from other people so you’re less likely to spread your germs. Maybe there’s a way for you to borrow sick time from the future so you can take the day off. Just because it’s not Covid doesn’t mean it’s ok to infect all of your coworkers.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Nod and don’t be like me. Once I was sick with respiratory symptoms for six months. It was because I didn’t take time to rest and so every illness stacked on top of the first one. Now I am weak to respiratory illness but this can happen to normal people too

        1. Banana*

          This happened to me this year. Awful. And none of it was Covid, I took so many tests. It was a cold my family passed around that I got twice, then bronchitis and then a dust related aggravation of my bronchitis and then pneumonia. Awful awful awful.

      2. Just Your Everyday Crone*

        *Just because it’s not covid doesn’t mean it’s ok for the company to require that your co-workers be exposed.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          ^ THIS. I really don’t like it when I catch whatever my coworkers have. But not to the point where I feel it’s morally right of me to demand that my coworker lose a day or several days’ pay (assuming the workplace even allows to take sick time unpaid). Thankful that this wasn’t an issue at my current, and previous, workplaces. Both places had very limited PTO and sick time, but we were all encouraged to WFH when sick.

    4. Eeyore's Missing Tale*

      It depends on your personal situation, but I would probably go in. I’ve been coming in all week with a nasty cold because I’m saving my leave for when I (hopefully) go out on FMLA next year when my baby is born. Plus, if I or my daughter get COVID, I’ll be out for 5-10 days and there’s no more COVID pay.

      I’m sorry. It’s a super crappy system.

      1. Velociraptor Attack*

        So you have the time but you’re saving it for FMLA and instead coming in sick? Are you regularly around other people and exposing them to whatever it is you have?

        It’s a crappy system, absolutely, but that’s also really not a good way to handle it.

        1. Eeyore's Missing Tale*

          Mercifully, I have my own office.

          Like many employers in the US, my employer does not pay me while I’m on FMLA. I have to use my sick and annual leave. I can either take time off now and not be paid while I’m out on FMLA, or I can take leave my leave now and go on unpaid leave while I’m off. It’s a crappy system, but my family can’t afford to miss too many paychecks. I’m sorry to the people I’m exposing to my cold, but my family’s needs come first. No one else is lining up to help me pay my bills while I’m out. And I got short-term disability too late, so it won’t cover my pregnancy.

          How would you handle it?

          1. taki*

            I was in the same situation while pregnant- I needed to make sure I was getting paid while on FMLA (I had enough PTO to cover only half of my maternity leave) and I definitely came in on days I wouldn’t have previously, just to save the PTO for when I really, really needed it.

            It is indeed a crappy system that fails just about everyone. I was as careful as possible with my germs, but it certainly was not ideal. Sometimes you do what you have to do.

          2. Velociraptor Attack*

            Having your own office makes it a moot point for the most part as long as you’re able to close your door and avoid working with others.

            That said I have a follow-up – are you currently pregnant or in the process of adoption/surrogacy so you know you’ll need FMLA during x months or are you planning on attempting to get pregnant/adopt/do surrogacy and presuming you’ll need FMLA?

            As someone who was in the same situation (as are most people in the US), I’d probably be a bit miffed if you were avoiding using sick time that you do have and exposing your coworkers, who likely also have to work in order to help provide for their families, to save it up for hypothetical FMLA leave.

            I also would say this is a very different situation than the initial question from someone who quite literally does not have enough PTO to take any time off without it being unpaid.

            1. Eeyore's Missing Tale*

              You’re right. I injected myself into Artic Monkey’s question and I should not have. I was trying to commiserate and my neurodivergent brain screwed up.

              If everything goes well, I will have a baby next July. I said hopefully because I have miscarried in the past and and keeping my fingers crossed right now.

              I get that this is not a great situation. And I don’t like it. But when I’m out and not getting paid, I’ll also have to pay back my portion of health insurance and everything else that comes out of my check.

              1. Velociraptor Attack*

                Congratulations. I read into the hopefully as potentially being planned which is why I clarified.

                In that case, I agree 100% with what you’re doing. It sucks but you’ve got FMLA imminently happening (knock on wood, I miscarried before so I understand the touchiness about planning too far in advance on that) so yeah, you do what you have to do.

                I hope I didn’t come across as too rude and good luck!

                1. OpalescentTreeShark*

                  You did come across as rude and insensitive about a sensitive topic bug you didn’t seem too concerned about that when you hit submit.

                2. Velociraptor Attack*

                  I’m glad you were able to read between the lines of “hopefully needing FMLA next year” as it being a sensitive topic. Clearly, I wasn’t able to do that and instead focused on the sensitive topic of coming into work when you’re clearly sick.

      2. Anono-me*

        This is not good and in an ideal world, everyone would stay home when sick with something contagious.

        That being said, at some companies (at least one that a sibling worked at), people on extended sick leave need to keep enough PTO so that they can take enough paid sick or vacation time every paycheck to cover their health insurance premium or risk loosing their employer’s share of the payments.

    5. princessbuttercup*

      I would be tempted to say to those people: “I agree, I should be at home. Unfortunately I don’t have sick time left and can’t afford to take an unpaid day.” Just straightforward and honest. Say it enough and maybe others will also realize the problem isn’t that you’re at work sick, it’s that your employer (/country) doesn’t offer enough sick days, or they don’t allow WFH, or whatever it is they need to be safe at work.

      And/or: go to your boss and say “it’s clear people are uncomfortable with illness in the office, regardless if its COVID or not. I don’t have sick days left, so is there an option for me to WFH or use sick days I haven’t accrued yet?”

      Lastly… would wearing a mask at least get the coworkers off your back if you have to be there sick?

      1. Shirley Keeldar*

        Yes to all of this. Mask up and keep saying, “I’d love to be home, but I’m out of sick days. I can’t take a pay cut. I wish I could.” Masking shows you’re making an effort to think about your coworkers’ health. Repeating “I’m out of sick days” shows that this is on your employer, not you.

        Hope you feel better soon!

    6. Librarian of SHIELD*

      Does your company do sick and vacation time in different buckets? If so, can you take your two remaining sick hours and use vacation for the rest of the day?

      Otherwise, wear a mask, stay as far away from your coworkers as you can, and wash your hands and the surfaces you touch frequently.

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

      I am sort of in this situation, I used sick time for the first 3 days that were the worst, but if I stayed home until I was symptom-free, I could be out for weeks with this lingering cough. I am vaccinated to the hilt — covid, flu and pneumonia. I am fever free (never had a fever) and tested negative twice several days apart, so I mask up, maintain distance from others, take extra precautions with wiping down shared surfaces when I use them, stay away from people eating and don’t eat in any communal spaces or touch communal food, and use hand sanitizer or wash my hands extra.

      1. Rain's Small Hands*

        I get persistent bronchitis every Winter – starting around now and going until March. Sorry world – it isn’t contagious and it isn’t Covid, and I cover my mouth (and in a Covid world, mask up once it starts), but the reality is, I can’t sit at home for five months waiting for it to pass. And I know the cough sounds like any moment my lungs will end up on the floor, but it isn’t as bad as it sounds.

    8. Dr. Prepper*

      If you ARE sick, stay home and take the day without pay. It happens. OR, maybe your employer has a way to get PTO hours in advance – ask your manager or HR/benefits.

      If you feel better, but sound like crap, go ahead and go in, and if it’s respiratory-sounding (hoarse, croaking voice) wear a mask. If you are still coughing and sneezing actively, no one will feel comfortable around you.

      Know that your manager has the right to MAKE you go home if you sound bad enough, even with a doctors note etc.

        1. Water Snake*

          If they aren’t working, then yes. There is no requirement to pay someone when they are not working.

            1. Water Snake*

              Even if they are exempt. Being exempt doesn’t mean you can just flake off once you have put in a few hours in a week. There are absolutely circumstances where if you don’t come in, you don’t get paid.

    9. Qwerty*

      Talk to your manager – many places will let you go negative on sick time if you flag it for them. Or they might want you to use vacation time. Either way, they’ll work with you on this because everyone is afraid of getting sick.

      At the very least, you should be masking, avoiding your coworkers, and following your company’s policies. Most places still require you to not be in the office if you are sick and contagious. This is to prevent a domino effect of everyone else getting sick and ending up in the same boat.

    10. Maggie*

      Tell them I have no sick time, put a mask on and seal myself in an office. That is if they won’t let you WFH or give you a day off on the fly. I always let me employees take a partial sick day “on the fly”.

    11. Purple Cat*

      I would “work from home” and do the bare minimum of keeping work moving along, but resting as needed.

    12. yellow haired female*

      I guess it depends on how sick. If it’s a cold that’s for sure not Covid, I’d come in because when I get colds, the symptoms tend to last for weeks and I certainly can’t afford to take weeks off from work.

      If it was any kind of stomach thing or, like, the flu, I’d stay home.

    13. Anono-me*

      Assuming that you can’t work from home:

      Ask if you can work in a separate space such as a empty office, conference room or even a cubicle that is back in the far corner.

      Mask up.

      Have lysol type wipes and hand sanitizer. Leave some out for your coworkers and carry a tube with you. Wipe every hard surface you are in contactwith down.

      Call, email, zoom when you can. If you can’t, ask your coworker how they want to handle it.

      Stay at your workspace as much as possible, even for lunch and breaks.

      Tell people you would go home, but you don’t have any sick days left.

      Tell people what you know about what you have*. For example, due to chronic health issues, I often wind up with aspirational pneumonia. I am miserable. But it isn’t a risk to others like bacterial pneumonia. So when I get the diagnosis, I tell people so they don’t have to worry.

      Let people know what steps you have proposed to minimize the impact/ risk to them. Even the stuff that is denied. 1 . You want them to know you are trying to protect them. 2. Maybe they can suggest something or get something approved.

      *Only advocating sharing minor possibly contagious medical information. Not anything too complex or sensitive.

    14. Water Snake*

      If I have vacation time, I use that. Otherwise, I take a bunch of drugs and go to work wearing a mask.

    15. AcademiaNut*

      You look slightly sad and say “I’d love to stay home, but I used up the last of my sick leave staying home yesterday.”

  10. Amy Farrah Fowler*

    Has anyone ever had their employer change from a group health plan to an ICHRA (individual coverage health reimbursement arrangement)? If so, how did it go, what were the pros/cons?

    1. Small Business Owner*

      From the owner / management side: I compared both options, and, because we’re so small, could get a temperature from the staff of what they needed and wanted. My sense of the pros/cons — for my team and for other similar small businesses I talked to:

      –It depends a lot on the size of the business. As a very small employer, our group insurance rates weren’t any better than the individual market. So, if the company’s kicking in the same amount either way, it could be a wash for the staff financially. If you’re a bigger company and you have more leverage with the insurers for group rates, then it might be a financial hit.

      –It depends a lot on what the Individual insurance market is like where your staff live. If they are in a place with reasonable premiums and competition in that marketplace, it can be a good or comparable deal. If they live in an area where the premiums are insane [I kind of recall Chicago being crazy expensive], employees can feel/be screwed.

      –If you have staff with really diverse insurance needs or options — some on a spouse plan, some independent, etc. — the ICHRA can offer more flexibility. I think it can even be used for someone on a spouse plan to help them cover the premiums or deductible on that other plan. So, more happy employees getting benefits they can use.

      –The ICHRA puts the burden of finding a plan to the individual, which some folks just hate doing. I’d recommend putting staff directly in touch with a health insurance broker who can basically do the individual marketplace legwork for them and make sure they get a good fit. Brokers get commissions from the insurers, so it’s no cost to work with them, and it takes out a lot of the mystery and work.

      –If you’re operating in multiple states, the ICHRA can be better if getting multi-state insurers is hard / expensive when you have few employees. If the individual markets offer better options than a multi-state group plan (my experience), again, it can be a better deal for the staff if you still kick in the same amount. (As long as they’re willing to do the legwork to get a plan.)

      –Lastly, I had one employee who just adamantly wanted a group plan. They didn’t tell me why it was so important (and I didn’t ask), but it was a top priority. Which I realized meant there could be other factors I wasn’t thinking of.

      1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

        Thanks, they just announced the change at my company and there’s been a lot of confusion and not great communication. I’m worried that my coverage will be significantly worse than it was, but I’m trying to do my research and make sure I select the right plan.

  11. Chidi has a stomach ache*

    So, what are your best practices for managing a job search when your current FTE is overwhelming? I work in secondary Ed in a position with a lot of afterschool/weekend commitments, I have a longish commute, and it’s been super hard to make time for the job hunt since school started up again in Aug. I come home, intending to edit a cover letter or something (most of the jobs I’m applying to require one), but by the time I take the dog out, exercise, eat, it’s like 9pm and I should be winding down for bed, not gearing up to do more work. If I do work anyways, I end up exhausted and underslept. Weekends get eaten up with laundry and cleaning and groceries and all the stuff I don’t have time to do in the evenings as it is. I feel like I’m missing out on good opportunities because I simply don’t have time/energy for a good application.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Better answer: Take a PTO day and spend it searching.
      Honest answer: I did some job hunting while on the clock.
      Alternate option: Just submit without a cover letter. Lowers your chances some but not as much as being unable to do cover letter and not submitting at all!

      1. shruggie*

        This is good. I got my last two jobs with a simple resume, even though a cover letter was requested. Both asked me for a cover letter further in the application process (which was easier to be motivated to write because they had already expressed interest, and I figured anything cogently written wasn’t going to get me eliminated). So, I did wind up writing one in both cases, but it wasn’t a barrier to applying and being considered.

        Also, look for “easy apply” jobs on LinkedIn…they require about 5-10 clicks, a resume upload, and that’s it. It helped me gain momentum by applying to 5 or 10 jobs, and then feeling motivated to throw together a cover letter to knock out a couple more I was especially interested in impressing.

      2. Magda*

        Yes in the past I took a week or two of PTO (which was not paid out so I needed to use it anyway if I was planning to leave) and did a lot of job applications after the second day of relaxing. You could plan a vacation around this! Go to a hotel with good wifi and a pool maybe :D

    2. Tayra*

      If you have a cover letter template, that could help. I’m not sure if you’re starting completely from scratch here, but even if you are, once you have the first one written then you can usually just swap out the names, position, and keywords instead of starting over every time. If you can get on mailing lists either directly from potential employers or just from indeed or whatever, you can spend a minute or so skimming through positions when you get them to see if there’s anything worth applying for and bookmark them, and then that should cut down on the amount of time you actually need to spend sitting down and actually applying once you’re off work.

    3. theothermadeline*

      Is there a convenience you can temporarily buy yourself and/or give up to carve out the time? Can you suspend the formal workout and add in some more dynamic movement to the dog walk? Can you afford to hire a dog walker a few days a week? Can you switch to frozen meals a few days a week to cut out cooking? Can you send your laundry to a wash and fold place once or twice and/or order groceries delivery? You can’t add in more hours to the day, and I doubt any of these things are long-term possible for you (otherwise you may already have been doing them) but in theory this is a temporary need and some temporary solutions could be a good stopgap

    4. Hlao-roo*

      Can you accept that now is not the right time for you to be applying to jobs? Can you wait until a slow period at your work before you put effort into applying? (Will probably be easier if your work eases around winter break–in a month or so–than if you’ll need to wait until next summer.) If you can pause your job search for a bit, you’ll only have to worry about dividing your time/energy between your current job, commute, and other life things.

      No advice for how to balance it all if waiting isn’t feasible, sorry :(

    5. Hugs to You*

      Hang the heck in there and all the virtual hugs, Chidi. I was this person for a very, very long time. A friend sent me a posting and reader: I wanted this job, it fit my skill set perfectly and I knew I needed to get out AND could not for the love of god get my updated resume and cover letter together by deadline because my current job had worn me down so much. The guilt and shame of missing that deadline was overwhelming and I wanted to go to bed for a month.

      I eventually landed an introduction/ interview for that same role as they were asking around in my industry and a mentor of mine talked me up. Because I knew they were waiting for my CV I somehow found the ability to spend a couple hours and finally get it ready.

      All of this is to say, you are seen. The exhaustion problem is so real and you are not alone in experiencing it. AND it will never go away until you get out.

      I would recommend making everything one job at a time, one task at a time. No way are you going to spend four hours a week at home working on job stuff and it is fine that it isn’t realistic for you to do that. Really get your resume into the best possible shape for skimming easily and showcasing your skills. Alison is right that the perfect cover letter is a difference maker but ANY cover letter is better than not having the wherewithal to apply at all. Give yourself permission to just tweak slightly from job to job and know that your strong resume backs up your skills.

      The other side does exist and you will get there. Hugs.

      1. Emily Dickinson*

        Yes – any cover letter is better than none! Somehow I forgot to finish one of the last paragraphs in the cover letter when I applied for my current job (somehow = probably ADHD) and I still got an interview and got hired. Funnily enough, it was probably my worst cover letter but the first interview I got for that job search.

    6. cubone*

      Reading this, it’s clear you are trying very hard to take care of yourself and the priorities in your life. Of course you don’t have the time/energy for a good application, look at all you’re dealing with. I know that’s not helpful/practical advice, but I feel for you.

      I agree with theothermadeline that you either have to cut something on the list (cut, or make easier), which often means either a cost (dog walker, house cleaner, grocery delivery, laundry service), or asking a trusted friend for support (difficult for many of us).

      My other thought is how to make the application process easier – which also includes a time and/or money investment of hiring a career counsellor or resume editor, finding one weekend you devote to making a master resume, reviewing your big accomplishments, etc so you can “plug and play” more quickly. Again, this isn’t a magical solution, you likely know this already. But I was in a similar situation and I definitely feel like the “I need to sit down and write an application” was exhausting, overwhelming, and ultimately unhelpful. With job applications, spending the time on good prep (when you’re NOT looking at a specific application with a deadline) make it easier to be “I will change these 5 points in my cover letter and resume to highlight xyz skills of this application”. It’s this very fine balance between tailoring it to every application, but not doing it from scratch every single time.

      Good luck <3

    7. Pop*

      Can you schedule a recurring time each week that you work on job applications? For example, 1-3pm on Saturdays, with a goal of sending out 1 application per week. Your other weekend chores can be built in around that – this is just as important as cleaning! And maybe things are a little bit messier, or you eat more frozen Trader Joe’s meals, or you don’t visit your grandma as much, until you find a job.

    8. Your Computer Guy*

      I don’t have anything to add except for commiseration, because I have the same problem. So thank you for asking it and you’re not alone.

      Given how many small errors I find in the materials that I review when interviewing people at my job, I suspect a lot of us psyche ourselves out with a drive towards perfection that just isn’t necessary. But letting go of that is easier said than done.

    9. Glazed Donut*

      Hi there! I was in secondary ed for a while, so I get all the little add ons that are part of the job. If you are US based, can you dedicate some of your Thanksgiving break or winter break to job prep? Or switch up the routine to do a different type of exercise that isn’t so tiring?
      I’d also suggest handwriting or brainstorming the cover letter while at work in any down time or little snippets of quiet time, if you can, and the come back to it later after work.

      1. Ann Ominous*

        Seconding the hand-writing and brainstorming! You could also use your phone speech to text option and dictate a cover letter.

    10. LittleBabyDamien*

      I recently read someone’s idea of doing a master cover letter (can’t remember who or where but I thought it was a brilliant idea), with a paragraph for every possible point that they might want to include in a letter. When submitting an application, they would pull the 2 or 3 most relevant paragraphs for their cover letter. Compiling a list of points and then taking one point and writing a paragraph about it could be broken down into many short sessions that wouldn’t be as mentally draining as composing a cover letter from scratch.
      I wish you all the best, as I know how exhausting job hunting is!

    11. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      It is really hard, and I’ve been there.
      My best suggestion is to have your job searches all setup on the major job boards so you get email notifications. Browse these whenever you can and save jobs. On Saturday, carve out 2 hours to apply to jobs you’ve saved.

      If you get an interview, you’ll have to take off.
      I used to sit in my car for phone interviews!

    12. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

      Instead of trying to do job-hunt stuff after everything, can you give yourself 30 minutes *before* everything, and do something in the morning before work? I also agree with throwing some money at the problem on a short-term basis — hire a dog-walker, use a laundry service, order grocery delivery. Even if they’re not affordable as regular expenses, can you stretch to afford them just for a month or two?

    13. Banana*

      Take some time off to work on applications, but use it to build a good application foundation so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to tailor your materials for every application. I took one day off recently and used it to apply for four jobs, and I’ve got 3-4 versions of a cover letter now that are pretty easy to modify for the situation. One is for jobs focusing on my process improvement skills, one is for more technical roles, one is for jobs where the niche of my field I worked in a few years back is more helpful, and one focuses more on my current niche. I always tailor them to the application, but now I only have to make a few tweaks instead of writing the whole thing from scratch.

  12. Stuck*

    Lately I have been feeling sad and underutilized at work. I am in investment banking, so some of that is related to the broader market, but it doesn’t make me feel better to know that. I have been getting strong performance reviews since I started here four years ago, and people still seem happy with me but I am just feeling a bit stuck. Has anyone navigated something similar?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Ask your manager if there’s any new projects you can join.

      Keep your ears open for coworkers talking about new projects you could ask to be brought on.

      Identify what skills you would like to learn, (or would want to learn to advance someday) see if there’s ways to get those skills in current job. Also skills that are marketable.

      Consider projects outside your main work stuff too, is there a DEI committee needing members etc

    2. WellRed*

      We were acquired a few years ago and are now part of a larger corporate organization. For awhile I kept asking to be kept in mind for things/tasks/whatever that could increase my visibility in the company. I have an odd niche role that doesn’t fit in well with overall company (but is critical to my tiny division). I’ve stopped asking because nothing.

  13. I have to get out of here*

    I’m a trans librarian in Texas, and a newly-proposed bill regarding drag performances would effectively render me unable to perform my job responsibilities.

    A law proposed in the last week for consideration next session makes it a misdemeanor to allow a minor to view a drag performance, and defines a drag performance as any performance in which performers are presenting as a gender other than that assigned at birth. (This is a summary, it’s marginally more complicated than that.) So basically, trans visibility in the public life would become illegal.

    I honestly don’t know what I’ll do if this law passes. Do I declare to my boss that I can’t present storytimes and programs anymore due to it breaking the law? Do I continue to present programs as an act of civil disobedience, then sue the state if it becomes an issue? Since I’m kind of stealth about it all, do I just keep my head down, keep doing my thing and assume that no one is going to assume I’m anything other than a woman? I know those are all viable answers; my existence in this state is an act of defiance. Thanks for reading.

    1. Goose*

      I have nothing to suggest, but as a fellow trans adult working with teens I feel for you and I am with you. <3

    2. Kimmy Schmidt*

      I am so sorry. Safety would be my top priority, which might make option 3 most viable for you.

      I’m nervous for you to contact your legislators yourself, but do you have a trusted network of cis allies you can ask to contact their state legislators about the proposed bill?

    3. Gigi*

      I’ve got nothing but heartbreak and love over here. Just know that we see you and value you for who you are. I’ll keep fighting with all tools in my power for your rights. I’m sorry this is happening.

    4. Beth*

      My mind is now running through all the classic works that would be affected, starting with Shakespeare and pretty much all traditional Asian theatre arts . . . not to mention hundreds — thousands! — of movies and episodes of TV shows . . .

      If you aren’t known to have a Y chromosome, you could continue with a low profile. I wish I could express a hope that the bill won’t pass, but we’re talking about Texas, the land of gun care and health control, where Kafka rules.

      1. knxvil*

        I immediately thought of how this outlaws every episode of Quantum Leap that has Sam leaping into a woman. Oy vey.

    5. Camellia*

      My first thought is to consult a lawyer, to see the impact of this law and what happens if you are caught/considered to be breaking it. If there are real consequences I think I would be telling my boss about it.

      I hate the fact that we as a society are moving backwards in regards to so many, well, I was going to say ‘issues’ but they should not even BE issues! Arrgghhh!

      1. L.H. Puttgrass*

        Yeah, my first thought was, “How would you feel about being named plaintiff in a lawsuit by the ACLU?” Because while it’s been ages since I studied constitutional law, a law that would ban dressing in ways the state doesn’t approve of seems like a blatant First Amendment violation to me. And I’d bet the ACLU and/or Lambda Legal would love to take that to court.

      2. LabTechNoMore*

        On a similar bent, consult a lawyer, and know specifically what the law requires, but also consult your history. This isn’t the first time sumptuary laws have been used to outlaw the trans community. In NYC, the law was that one had to wear three articles of clothing of their sex assigned at birth. In San Francisco, when similar laws were on the books, drag queen activist Jose Sarria handed out pins stating “I am a boy!” to all the patrons at the Black Cat bar, and was successfully able to challenge the accusations of (problematically-named) “female impersonation” laws. He argued that the plainly stated pins demonstrated that no one had any intent to deceive. A lot of these methods might not work today, but there are so many possible forms of resistance to choose from.

        Queer history is replete other ingenuous examples of the LGBT community skirting these laws. Not just written accounts, either. Consult your queer elders; our community keeps a detailed (if exaggerated) oral history. Of course, activism is how we got our rights in the first place, so speak out to whatever extent you feel you must. Alternatively, make a relocation plan, because prioritizing your own personal safety is equally valid. Sometimes just surviving is resistance enough.

        Real talk: stealth mode/passing mean you’re going to be (relatively) safer. The people writing and enforcing these laws are picturing 90’s sitcom caricatures of transness, rather than actual people. They key is how they decide to enforce these laws; keep an eye on that.

        1. Despachito*

          “three articles of clothing of their sex assigned at birth”

          This makes me think of several questions:
          – what on earth would that be, given the long tradition of unisex clothing? I cannot think of any “boys-only” clothing item, and the only two “girl” items I can think of would be a skirt/dress and a bra.
          – how on earth would you prove that a t-shirt/trousers/socks you are wearing are “girl” or “boy” clothing?

    6. Robin Ellacott*

      That is a criminally evil piece of legislation and I’m so sorry.

      I don’t know what the right thing to do is, but in your place I think I’d probably keep doing it and hope nobody causes a fuss. But I think factors that might play in for me would be whether I could talk to my boss about it (it would be easier if they knew and were supportive) and whether I lived in an area where it seemed likely someone would be out there actively looking to report people.

    7. something about sharks*

      First, I am so, so sorry that this is happening to you. The fact that this is even a discussion at all sucks.

      Second, I think this will kind of depend on your boss. Is your boss someone who is supportive and will handle this well? If so, I’d sit down with them and explain your concerns. They may have suggestions for the best way to handle this, or at least be able to tell you how far the library will be able and willing to back you up on the civil disobedience element. If your boss will 100% back you up but the board won’t, for example, that’s good to know before you make your decision.

      If your boss is not someone who’ll handle it well (either due to transphobia or just being not great at their job), I’d recommend keeping your head down for now. Trust your gut on what will keep you safest – you’re the expert on your own situation – but I would guess your best bet is likely to be to keep your head down, do your thing, and not draw attention to it unless you have no choice.

      Again, I’m so sorry. Internet hugs from another queer individual in a deeply red state.

    8. Nesprin*

      I’m so sorry- this is entirely horrible.

      I think you’d benefit from talking to a lawyer- not as part of planned litigation but to understand what suing would look like, what civil disobedience would look like, what other options you have, and how best to protect yourself.

    9. AnotherLibrarian*

      This sucks. I am so sorry. Personally, I would start job hunting and having a quiet- get out of Texas- backup plan if that’s possible. I would probably hold off speaking to my boss until I knew if the law was going to pass. While I am not trying to dismiss your fears, as someone who used to work in state government, I saw lots of bills get put up for consideration and never even get to the floor vote. If the bill start to move, then I would consult with an attorney or someone who can outline the exact consequences for you. Again, this sucks and you shouldn’t have to deal with it.

    10. JelloStapler*

      So being a person in a space is a drag performance? Oh I am so sorry. As a cis ally in another state, what can I do?

      1. Hlao-roo*

        One thing you (or anyone in the US) can do is pay attention to legislation at the national and state level. Bills that would negatively impact LGBTQ+ people? Contact your representatives and say “I do NOT support bill XYZ.” Bills that positively impact LGBTQ+ people? Contact your representatives and say “I support bill XYZ.”

        Most (all?) people in state legislatures and congress have “contact” forms right on their website where you put in your name, address, and space for a message. It’s fairly low effort to contact them once you know who your reps are and what pieces of legislation you support/oppose.

        1. WellRed*

          My big industry conference is moving to Texas this year (after a long tenure in civil rights averse Georgia). This is absolutely something I’m happy to speak up against if they want to continue to pretend they are biz friendly.

        2. LabTechNoMore*

          Another tool to find and contact your state (or federal) legislators:
          https://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/

          You can also find whether or not your representatives voted for or against a bill on the main https://openstates.org page through the “search and track legislation” page, which also links back to the official state website.

          For the uninititiated, make sure you’re contacting both your State Senators and State Assembly members if your state has a bicameral legislator. Both represent you at the state level.

          1. LabTechNoMore*

            More things you can do as a constituent: For a bill to pass, your state governor also needs to sign the anti-trans bill(s) in question, and can also be contacted. Call their office, connect how these laws harm the trans community, the anti-trans misinformation campaign across the country, and the violence we’re seeing escalating against the LGBT (especially trans/non-binary) communities.

            Demand your governor, state reps, assembly members, etc. explain how they can justify stoking violence against our community. Do the same for Federal representatives in the GOP supporting anti-trans and anti-gay legislation. At the local level, contact the representatives of your City Counsel, and demand that they pass measures protecting the trans community, especially in states outlawing our kind.

            These laws aren’t just about “sports” or “surgery” or “drag performances”; this is fundamentally about bodily autonomy and the right to exist in public space with some semblance of safety. That’s the bare minimum needed to survive in this civilization.

    11. Mynona*

      It depends on your boss and your community. Since you are trans, I assume your boss is comfortable with you at a basic level already. Maybe share your fears and see what they say? And it makes a big difference of you are in a blue island or red ocean. I’m a blue-Texas native, and there is often a disconnect between my lived experience and the laws passed in Austin. Good luck.

    12. Despachito*

      This law definitely sucks, but are you sure it would apply in your case at all? I would understand it (perhaps wrongly) means theatre performances that have the impersonating a different gender than assigned at birth as their main point, as opposed to a person presenting a program about an unrelated subject who happens to be trans.

      The law would suck either way but I would never qualify a trans librarian presenting a program about, say, the library, as “drag performance”. Unless the “more complicated” part contains something pointing to the contrary, I’d continue presenting what you are presenting now and assume it does not apply to you.

      I am keeping my fingers crossed for the law not to pass.

    13. Deliciouschicken*

      Texas is particularly hostile to trans people so for me my priorities would be:
      1) safety
      2) finances
      2b) is it feasible to find work and living quarters in another state that is more welcoming to trans people?
      3) what potential legal consequences would realistically happen if I did my job same as before?
      4. If I get caught and sued, do I have the mental, physical and financial resources as well as supports to withstand a long lawsuit that may not end in your favor considering the judges sitting in Texas and on the Supreme Court?

      Thinking out the worst case scenarios in situations that worry me helps me to figure out what my decision is or will be.

    14. Texas resident*

      I know it’s not comforting, but I used to work for a Texas State Representative, and of the thousands of bills being filed right now, only about 2% will actually become law. The likelihood of that actually happening (even in red Texas) is incredibly slim. I sure hope it doesn’t.

    15. thelettermegan*

      I feel like there might be some federal equal employment laws that might override this state law. In theory, your employer cannot use gender identity as a reason to prohibit you from doing your work duties.

    16. Anono-me*

      I’m sorry that you are going through what you are.

      If you want to actively fight for civil rights in this area; please contact the civil rights organization that most closely aligns with your views. Plan your future moves with their advice in mind.

      If you are a worn out from all the other battles that you have already fought and just need to be safer: My suggestion is to start job hunting in a state that values civil rights right now.

      This law is a symptom, not the problem.

      If the law passes, the direct impact on your work would be horrible. However, if this law passes, I expect that people who are anti Trans will be encouraged to ramp up their efforts to erase Trans people from everywhere else.

      Even if the law doesn’t pass, I am concerned that the law has made it as far as it has and don’t expect it to be the last effort.

      If you wait to job and safer state search, you will have a longer time of stress and feeling and possibly being unsafe. Anti Trans behavior does not typically exist in a vacuum. You will most likely not only be competing for desirable jobs with people already there and other Trans people moving to be safer; you also will be competing with people facing all sorts of discrimination.

      Whatever you decide, I wish you all the best.

    17. Pennyworth*

      My reaction to your post was ”You are not a performer, you are a librarian” even if your work includes presenting stories. Do you belong to a union? They should be able to advise you if the law actually comes to pass.

  14. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

    I’m curious to get some feedback from people who write books professionally through traditional publishing:

    I have written some novels mainly as a hobby and have quietly self-published them. However, I’ve gotten more serious about writing and am starting to become hungry to get my work out to a larger audience beyond my family and friends. I think my work may be good enough to sell on a broader scale, and I could definitely use a more formal structure and a push to do so. Less importantly, expensive family issues are looming for me and I could use some extra money.

    However, I’ve never seriously explored the whole process of querying agents, seeking representation and getting the process of publishing traditionally started for one reason: I can’t be pressured to write on a schedule, under deadline. I just can’t do it. When I try to force myself to write instead of being inspired to write, my work is terrible… when I can even write at all.

    Two friends I have who have published through major commercial publishers — both of whom are critically acclaimed and have sold a good number of books — haven’t made enough money to make a really noticeable difference in their lives. They seem more stressed out than ever in their endless race to write or edit their next contracted work, under deadline. And they both still have their full-time day jobs on top of the added stress. The flip side, of course, is that they’ve both been able to get their books in the hands of a LOT of readers.

    So I guess I have three questions:
    (1) Is the experience I described with my two friends typical of all/most writers who work with traditional publishers? Is there a constant pressure to write my next work, or could I possibly sell something as a one-off? 
    (2) Will it give me any advantage if I have multiple polished works already completed before I try to publish traditionally, so that I have some work already “in the can,” so to speak?
    (3) If I do want to try to find an agent, should I immediately de-list my self-published works or is it too late for that (in other words, by self-publishing at all, did I automatically close the avenue to traditional publishing)?

    Thanks everyone!

    1. londonedit*

      I don’t work in fiction publishing, which I think definitely can be more like you describe. However not everyone is going to have a multi-book deal, especially not as a first deal – you probably would be able to pitch your book as a one-off.

      The thing from our point of view (speaking from a non-fiction perspective, working on less glamorous books than commercial fiction), we do have some flexibility with authors and usually we try during the commissioning process to come up with a publication date that gives the author enough time to write, if they haven’t written the book already or there’s a lot they still need to do on it. But we’re also under a lot of pressure to publish a certain number of books/make a certain amount of money in each financial year, so any slippage in terms of publication dates can be a huge problem. And the sales team will start pitching books to retailers months in advance, and if they then have to go back and say ‘Sorry, it’s not coming until three months after we said it would’ then the chances are the bookshops will say ‘Sorry, don’t want it in that case’ are much higher. Obviously with Amazon and website sales that doesn’t matter so much, but it’s still not ideal. And then there’s the schedule itself – we plan that well in advance to give everyone enough time to see everything through the publishing process, and if I’ve got a plan for the next year with 25 books on it all spread out across the year, and then the ones I need to send to press in March start slipping into June and then July, I’m going to end up with a serious workload issue.

      That’s just to give you a little bit of background behind why publishers make authors write to deadlines. It’s possible that if you’ve already written the book you might be able to arrange a publication date that works more for you than for the publisher, but yeah, if they’ve done well with one of your books and they want another, it makes commercial sense to get that second and third book out at regular intervals while you’re still a hot author. And that means you’ll be given deadlines to work to. There’s always some flexibility, but as I say, authors delivering things late can throw major spanners in the works so we want to avoid it.

      1. Lore*

        The other thing, at least in the US, is that the combination of supply chain issues and the overall decline in printing capacity means that you really do have to order paper and book time at a printer substantially in advance of the print date. Onsale dates can and do shift up to a certain point; authors generally have many opportunities to revise their final manuscript delivery date. But at a certain point, the constraints of the things londonedit mentions, as well as the actual logistics of making the book, come into play and there needs to be a schedule. You won’t be able to publish traditionally on the principle of finish whenever you finish, deliver the book, and then your publisher will immediately proceed to do their thing and get it out into the world. (I mean, if you’re George R R Martin and we’ve been waiting ten years for your next manuscript, then, yes, “drop everything and make a book” will apply, but for a first book, there does have to be a specific plan.) So if that flexibility is key to your process, then self-publishing is a much better fit for you!

    2. Roland*

      > in other words, by self-publishing at all, did I automatically close the avenue to traditional publishing)?

      I’m not in the industry but I do see self-pub books get acquired and trad-published so it’s definitely A Thing. I don’t see why you’d pull them before querying either way though? Either you can sell them or you can’t, taking them down doesn’t change the fact that you’ve self-pubbed them in the past.

      1. Redaktorin*

        People see this in a couple cases and think it’s a thing, but 1) if there are many thousands of self-published books and you’ve heard of a handful getting acquired, those are not great odds, and 2) your self-published book has to demonstrate truly incredible sales to be acquired, which is not likely to be the case for OP.

    3. Saraquill*

      I recommend checking out Mur Lafferty’s podcasts “I Should Be Writing” and “Ditch Digging” for in depth information related to your questions.

    4. I edit everything*

      1. Yes, that experience is probably typical. No, you won’t make much (any) money unless you’re the one in a million who becomes the next Lee Child or Nora Roberts. And the more successful you are, the higher the pressure to crank books out as quickly as possible. Do not attempt to publish if you’re thinking of it as an income source. It’s just not.
      2. Some, but not much. Lots of people have a pile of books they’ve written. It will tell the agent/publisher that you can finish a book, which is good, but not much beyond that. More to your advantage would be if you have a strong presence online in your genre of choice. You have a website, you comment and have the respect of other authors in your field, and you’re active in other ways. These are all things that demonstrate to publishers that you have a jump on the marketing side of things. Authors are expected to do most of their own marketing these days. So you have to set up the FB fan group, manage your newsletter (and somehow get subscribers), arrange talks or signings or what have you.
      3. No point in delisting those. They’re previously published, so publishers probably won’t be super interested in them. You can, however, market the heck out of them, if you want to, and use them to build a following, which will help you in point #2. And maybe be better income than traditionally published books, to be honest.

      Trad publishing is better for getting into bookstores, reviews in newspapers/magazines, and becoming the next Oprah book. It’s harder to get into, obviously, but for acclaim and influence and bragging rights, this is your path. But publishing isn’t a path to a comfortable bank account.

      1. LDN Layabout*

        Also, someone like Nora Roberts is prolific. I haven’t read her since she departed doing romance focused novels, but she’s been releasing four books a year for essentially decades.

          1. Lore*

            I would say definitely not the vast majority of fiction writers. I work for a publisher that does a large number of big-name authors and 90 percent of the books that involve ghostwriters are nonfiction titles. Believe me, if the marquee fiction writers were mostly using ghosts, manuscripts would deliver on time a hell of a lot more often.

          2. Loredena*

            She’s been very very clear that she doesn’t use ghost writers, and her voice is strong enough that it would be noticeable if she did

    5. IsbenTakesTea*

      From my experience on the (nonfiction) publishing side, the general expectation is that if you’re writing fiction, you should have a complete draft ready before agents submit to publishers. (If you’re writing nonfiction, you can usually get by with an outline and sample chapters.) You then still have deadlines for editing and revising, but not necessarily creating.

      Multi-book deals aren’t necessary the standard; in fact, I’d argue they’re not the standard, especially for “new” authors, simply because publishing is a gamble, and most publishers want to see how your work performs before signing up for more.

      Self-publishing is not necessarily incompatible with traditional publishing, and frequently can help if you can establish people are actually buying/enjoying your work! I wouldn’t advise someone to de-list their existing work in the hopes of possibly getting a deal.

      As your friends have demonstrated, publishing almost never gives you a living wage, and if you are one of the rare ones successfully pursuing it, it’s exhausting. But if your goal is just exposure for your writing rather than a substantial income, why not give it a try? If the only offers you get are for deals that don’t sound appealing to you, there’s no rule that says you still have to take it.

      Best of luck!

    6. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I’m in a publishing-adjacent field, so I don’t know the answers to all of your questions, but I do have some information that might help.

      For the most part, traditional publishers are looking for a sure thing. Most aren’t interested in republishing self-pubbed fiction unless it’s 1) wildly popular and selling like mad (50 Shades and the After series come to mind), or 2) They’ve published other things from the author that have sold well and are willing to buy the rights to that author’s older work. But that doesn’t mean your self published work will count against you. You can include some basic information about your sales records in your query letter with agents, and I assume as a self published author, you’ve got a social media platform and some solid marketing experience, which can be a point in your favor.

      The thing to keep in mind about the American publishing industry is that advances are continually being broken up into smaller and smaller amounts. Traditionally, an advance is something you’re paid, you know, in advance. But in recent years, some publishers have been splitting that amount into multiple payments, so you get half when you sign the contract and half when the book is published. Or a third at contract signing, a third at publication, and a third six months later. Some publishers are even splitting advances in fourths now. And if you’re not a big name or presenting them with a book they think will be an instant best seller, that original advance number isn’t going to be more than 4 or 5 figures to start with, so those fractional payments have been causing a lot of stress for the authors I know.

      It can take a long time to earn enough as an author to quit your day job. Hardly anybody is making Nora Roberts or Stephen King money. And from query to publication can take 2-3 years. Success as a traditionally published author of fiction is usually very slow.

      I don’t say any of that to discourage you. If you want your work in the hands of more readers, definitely start the query process and see if you can find an agent that’s a good match for you. But with the speed at which publishing functions, I don’t know that you’ll get that extra money in time for those looming issues you mention.

      1. londonedit*

        In my UK experience, advances have been split into thirds for at least the nearly-20 years I’ve worked in the industry. A third on signature of the contract, a third on acceptance of the manuscript, and a third on publication. Which, when you’re dealing with the sort of advances I’ve been used to in most of my small-publisher career, can mean you’re only getting a payment of £500 or £1000 each time. Not exactly enough to pay the bills!

        1. Magda*

          Ah, but it’s fourths now, in the US! A final payment a year after release :( I think they only do this for the bigger advances so far.

    7. Magda*

      I am a traditionally published author who also has some side projects I may self publish someday. If you like, I’ll drop a link to my book in my next comment. As you know, the first step is to query your current project with agents, using resources like query tracker and blogs like query shark. Querying is its own world in the way that resumes and interviews are different from working and require their own skillset. You do NOT have to unpublish your self-published works and I certainly wouldn’t do it unless your have already secured an agent/pub deal. You may also choose to query/publish under a different name, particularly if it’s a different genre. Agents understand that many people self pub these days. Some advice around that is outdated; it used to be looked down on or seen as a sign that you may not patient / trainable enough, but agents who think that now are foolish. It is minorly possible that low sales on your self pubbed books (and there are ways people can calculate those) will be seen as a prediction of the sales/market of your current projects *if they are similar genres*, but even that is a bit silly TBH. The rule of querying is that you query a specific project, but the agent/editor will be interested in your overall career if they like the project. It’s all about the book you’re trying to sell right now. Everybody is looking for the next best seller. Once you are in the industry, the pressure to write more books quicker is real, but that is like an intern worrying they won’t be able to make decisions as a CEO. Step one is to craft an amazing and marketable book, which I’m sure you can do!

    8. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

      Hi all. I really appreciate everyone’s comments and sorry that I don’t have enough time to respond individually while at work. This is all extremely helpful.

      I emphasized the money part too much in my post; that’s my fault. Basically, I want to make sure that the increase in stress I might bring upon myself should I be lucky enough to be accepted into the world of traditional publishing is worth whatever extra income I would make. I hope that makes sense! Obviously that’s a question only I can answer and I’ll continue to think this through.

      What I’m really glad to see from these responses is that the stigma attached to self-published books seems to be mostly gone. As you can see, I was working from out-of-date assumptions and advice in that regard. Thanks again!

      1. Magda*

        My suggestion in response to this is that if the main reason you’d be pursing traditional publishing is money, it’s probably not the way to go. At least with self publishing, you’re in the drivers seat and can choose how to proceed with advertising, marketing, etc. In trad pub you take what you’re given without a lot of recourse. Now, every once in a while a debut novelist writes something really “high concept” and scores a big advance on a single standalone novel (like, 100K or more – but keep in mind that’s divided over three-four payments and 15% goes to the agent). Most debut deals are more likely to be in the 5K range, best case scenario, after a lot of unpaid labor trying to get an agent and go on sub. For 5K the juice isn’t worth the squeeze economically, but there are a lot of emotional rewards.

        1. Magda*

          Also, to be the one person who’s gonna get that big deal, your book needs to be on-market, ideally similar-but-just-different from something else that’s really big right now so the publishing world can see you as “the next hunger games” or “the next Gone Girl” or whatever. This is how the agent will pitch you to the publisher and how the acquiring editor will pitch you to marketing/sales to get that big advance. For a creative industry they do NOT have a lot of imagination about what could sell. Other factors to be the one who gets that 100K offer would be having a big presence on TikTok, which they think is a sure bet to sell books (lol) or maybe to be “in” the business already and a known entity. They make the big advance as a business decision that you can sell so many books they will make it back. If you’re a normal person, they know perfectly well you probably won’t.

      2. WorkingRachel*

        I wrote fiction for a long time and tried to get traditionally published, including working with an agent for a few years. I did not get published, and I haven’t kept up with the industry for the past 5-ish years, so take my advice with a grain of salt.

        I don’t think there’s any reason to delist your self-published books. You will generally not be able to sell a book that you’ve already published, unless it has truly impressive sales numbers, so those books are a done deal. You’re selling yourself based on your most recent completed unpublished manuscript and the promise you have for the future. Having self-published in the past won’t necessarily help you, but it won’t hurt you, either. It’s neutral.

        Agents are generally not interested in representing authors who they think will be “one book” authors. They are in it for the long term career, since they also need to make money over the long term.

        I don’t mean to beat the money horse, but I do think there’s a fairly clear answer to the second version of your question. Will the increase in stress be worth any extra income you might make? Almost certainly not. If you’re actually making some money off of self-publishing, you’re already in a very small, elite group of authors. I wouldn’t expect traditional publishing to increase that income much, if at all. For midlist authors you are looking at a few thousand dollars per year maybe ranging up to mid 5 figures if you are publishing every year and have developed a backlist. There are reasons to pursue traditional publishing in this day and age but they mostly aren’t related to income. What traditional publishing CAN bring you is an increase in prestige, name recognition, eligibility for certain awards, an easier time getting into bookstores and libraries, access to a certain world of people. If those things are important to you, it might be worth the extra stress.

        Whatever you decide, good luck to you! Having several self-published novels is a huge accomplishment.

    9. Insert Pun Here*

      I work in book publishing (though not fiction.) I read a LOT of industry news/gossip/financials. If the extra money is a need, this is not a good plan and you should come up with another way to find those dollars. If, on the other hand, the money is a nice-to-have, might as well go for it. Someone’s gotta write books, might as well be you!

    10. MacGillicuddy*

      Janet Ivanovich (wrote the Stephanie Plum series) has a book called “How I Write”. It has tips and advice about how to get published, submitting your work, using an agent, etc. It’s worth a read.

    11. RagingADHD*

      My writer friends who publish trad with multi book deals make just enough money to be worth it as a side gig, not enough to support themselves or significantly improve their standard of living.

      Many of them publish some books trad and others self/indie. From what I see, it looks easier to sell a new book trad than sell one that’s already out, but having self published books does not appear to stigmatize the author.

    12. Westsidestory*

      My reply is going to be quite different. Having worked with many many authors, I’d say along with hunting about for an agent, you should see about hiring a publicist. All the fiction authors I know who do well spend more than half their available brain time PROMOTING their books and their brand. They post daily on social media, run blog promotions, show up at industry events and local charity opportunities. I should add that those who are self-published spend additional hours tweaking their online supply chain (Amazon, Ingram, etc) taking advantage of distributor options to maximize sales. It is an exhausting pace, and if you’ve got other concerns you won’t have the time or focus.
      That’s why trad publishers seem so appealing – theoretically they do all this work for you.
      But they don’t. Even if you land a publisher for new or backlist books, you’ll still have to do all the marketing on your own.
      If you can find some one to assist you with promotion, that would allow you to progress while writing at your own pace.
      Much of the comments from nonfiction folks here are absolutely true – you work back from the pub date because so much of the sausage machine needs to flow, and meeting deadlines is really crucial or production and marketing schedules get effed up and the very small window allotted to your book’s launch gets missed, and you are toast. Fiction may get a bit more leeway but the end result of missing deadlines is losing any support from the publisher teams – they’ll just skip your launch and go on to the next one.
      Try to write and enjoy the process of gradually expanding your audience. Good things may come, but don’t count on solid income unless – like the many successful authors I know – you spend as much time self-promoting as you Fido creating.

      1. Westsidestory*

        Sorry I meant “to do creating.” Non unsurprisingly the pup jumped on my lap.

        There is no stigma to be a self published author. I know many, they seem more interested in fame than fortune….

    13. Ann Ominous*

      This is peripheral to your question, because it’s not about the publishing questions themselves, but rather about your concerns and fears in general about doing creative work while also trying to publish or make money.

      Elizabeth Gilbert’s book ‘Big Magic’ (she also has a TED talk about it) really hits on so much of the ways to keep your creativity alive and free, rather than weighed down with the burden of having to also pay your bills. I listen to it on audiobook every 1-2 years.

  15. soontoberetired*

    You are doing the right things now.

    The thing about layoffs like this – your immediate manager may have no impact on who stays or who goes. So just be normal at work but hit any networks you have for other possibilities. And keep not engaging in the doom talk. And remember this isn’t going to be the end of your career regardless of what happens.

    The whole thing sucks, and it sucks they aren’t doing it all at once. Been there with a company who let the knowledge layoffs were coming but were coming in 6 months! Looking back I think they wanted people to leave on their own first. It did make everyone depressed.

  16. Big in Canada*

    I’m refurbishing my home office and want to splash out on a Really Good Chair.

    Looking for recommendations of chairs available in Canada (Staples, the Brick, Leon’s, whatever, somewhere I can go and sit in it and try it) that:
    1) Support up to 400lbs
    2) Have adjustable-height lumbar support (my butt is padded enough that lumbar support tends to just… make my butt further away from the back of the chair so that I have to be semi-reclining to just lean against the backrest!)
    3) Have adjustable-height arms (see above re: my butt is a cushion all its own) so that I can get them higher than my thighs.

    Decent-looking also a plus, but mostly I just want one that fits. I have a budget of about 1500-2000 CAD for this. Any recommendations?

    1. I was naïve*

      Glad you have a good budget. I spent $150 a few years ago thinking that was a enough for a chair. Noooo. It’s a POS: the padding isn’t sufficient anymore, and worse, when I sit on the edge on the chair, it “adjusts downward,” and lurches me onto the floor.

    2. L*

      I don’t think they generally have stores, but Herman Miller chairs are fantastic and definitely available in Canada. I think they might go above your budget when new, but can generally be found (very) lightly used on Kijiji or cheaper from authorized retailers.

      1. Filosofickle*

        HM has at least one showroom and two retail stores in my metro. Limited access but at that price point I’d see if I could find one near me!

    3. T. Boone Pickens*

      Herman Miller Aeron or Herman Miller Sayl
      Steelcase Gesture
      HON also makes quite a bit of adjustable stuff

      Before splashing out for full price, I’d try and find a store that sells ‘used’ chairs. While this might no longer be the case, there was a ton of surplus out there for when companies shifted to WFH so there were good deals to be had.

    4. LimeRoos*

      I know Herman Miller makes phenomenal chairs (our college had them everywhere and I still miss them 12 years later) which should be in that price range. They’re adjustable every which way and super comfortable. It looks like they have quite a few stores in Canada too – here’s the site, without the https so it doesn’t go to moderation (hopefully) http://www.hermanmiller.com/where-to-buy/find-a-store/

    5. MathPub*

      The Steelcase Gesture is super adjustable, particularly the arms. I think it should meet all of your criteria. It doesn’t have adjustable lumbar support by default, but you can add it on pretty cheaply (an extra $28 USD). It looks like they have a decent number of dealers in Canada, so hopefully you can find somewhere to try it out. They also have a ton of detailed dimensions listed online. I’ll post the link separately.

    6. SereneScientist*

      Seconding the Herman Miller recommendation! I would also check around and see if there are any office liquidation or similar resale spots–you can often find Herman Miller and equivalent equality alternatives on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace etc, especially given the turbulent times for commercials organizations.

      1. Cedrus Libani*

        Agreed. I got my fancy office chair from a resale place – they buy lightly used chairs from failed businesses for cheap, then put them in a warehouse where you can sit in them and decide which one you like. Highly recommend looking for one of these in your area.

    7. Hillary*

      Look for an office furniture dealer in your area with a showroom – not a superstore or generalist office supply store. They’ll have multiple high end brands that you can try. One way to find them is the where to buy function on the manufacturers’ websites. Your price range is going to cover pretty much anything they have on offer.

      I have a Steelcase Think and love it, I bought it because I have one at work and like it. One of my previous companies had Herman Miller Aerons, those never fit me right.

    8. Brownie*

      Leap Steelcase Plus. I’ve had this chair for 7 years now and it’s showing no signs of wear at all and I’ve got 64 inch hips. It’s comfy, incredibly adjustable in all the ways, the hydraulics still work after me bouncing and chair dancing for all those years, it’s amazing. The regular Leap should be findable in stores to try and the only difference between it and the Leap Plus is some width and invisible reinforcement like more heavy-duty hydraulics and casters, so if the Leap fits/adjusts for you then the Leap Plus should be even better.

      1. Brownie*

        The Herman Miller Aeron is incredibly uncomfortable for a lot of big-hipped folks because of the way the plastic seat is molded upwards at the edges. I had an Aeron before work got me this chair and it hurt to sit in because the seat edges dug into my hips and squished my butt.

      2. L.H. Puttgrass*

        As I type this, my butt is parked in a Steelcase Leap. My butt spends 9-14 hours each day parked in this chair, and has for over ten years. I’ve had to swap out a couple of parts during that time, but all under warranty. I highly recommend it. The standard Leap has a 300 lb weight capacity, but the Leap Plus is rated to 500 lbs.

    9. KatStat*

      I splurged on a Steelcase Leap 2.5 years ago and it is amazing. It is very adjustable. I got it refurbished from Crandall Office Furniture and it came with a full 10 year warranty. I don’t know if they ship to Canada but definitely check out a Leap.

    10. IndyDem*

      I’m WFH, and also a gamer, so I looked at gaming chairs when I needed to get an office chair. They seem to have a much better range of accommodation to sizes that standard office chairs. I have a Maxnomic chair, it’s designed for 12 hours+ use, and has adjustable arms (both up/down, and to the side).

    11. Specialized Skillets*

      Not sit-on-able BUT my husband (6’2″, 275 lbs) has a SecretLab Titan and I have a SecretLab Omega. Styled like a gaming chair but we use them for home office – me twice a week and him full-time WFH.

      We went through several “comfy” and/or “big & tall” chairs from the big box office stores in the $2-300 range that quickly became uncomfortable or rickety before ordering these sight unseen (butt un-sat?) and have been extremely happy with them.

    12. Big in Canada*

      Thanks for the suggestions, everyone! As it turns out, there is a Herman Miller showroom near to me — actually in walking distance, go figure! So many of you had good things to say — I will check them out and see if their fabled adjustability couples with the ability to sit on it without busting the air cylinder and slowly sinking to the lowest height as the air hisses out like a sad balloon.

      I knew the AMA commentariat would have good ideas.

        1. Specialized Skillets*

          Just to enthuse a bit more – the Titan is insanely sturdy and adjustable in myriad ways, and he can actually sit cross-legged in it, lay it straight back for a nap, etc. SecretLab lets you enter your height and weight on their website to determine which size chair is best.

          1. Big in Canada*

            … and appears to come with optional Batman logo.

            Not gonna lie, that is strongly influencing me.

      1. Office Furniture Maven*

        Also, if the cylinder does fail, they’re almost always designed for ease of replacement and can often be replaced free under warranty. Check out the warranty that comes with any chair you’re considering and understand how long the cylinder is covered. Chair cylinders and arm pads are some of my company’s most frequently replaced parts. If you wind up buying from a dealer, if you need to replace something, they’d handle getting the parts for you and often installing them (that’s part of the purpose of the whole selling-through-a-dealer sales model).

        1. Big in Canada*

          Great tip! Thank you :)

          I’m in that “can finally afford a good chair rather than getting used castoffs from people who are replacing worn-out ones” space, and I didn’t realize the cylinder might be warrantied differently (or at all).

    13. Mynona*

      From experience buying a chair for my 400 lb/6’2″ boyfriend–get a high-capacity chair. Not just a normal one rated to 350. We literally bought a random one from FB marketplace (serta? A us brand like that) because we’re poor, and it transformed his life. He fit in it, and doesn’t feel like it will break at any moment. He wheels it around our house to sit in, he like it so much. I am skeptical about herman miller or anything made of mesh…

  17. The "Nice" Professor*

    I am a college professor. If my students lobby me for a deadline change, I work with them. If they ask for an extra day for a take-home exam, I normally give it. I warn them of the deadline domino, and they work with me accordingly. I have come to this stance based on the idea that they need to learn in a safe place to advocate for themselves and to be realistic about the amount of work they can do. In turn, I think I get better effort put into the work they do for me, because they know I’m not trying to just work them to death. Are there counterpoints here that I’m missing? Am I doing them a disservice?

    1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      I don’t think so. In my work life, if things get overwhelming or a deadline becomes unrealistic, I go to my boss and we work on it. Are there industries that have unrealistic expectations about deadlines? Of course. But I think most sane employers operate the way my work does. You’re preparing your students not just for your class, but to be able to advocate for themselves in a work environment. I also think it’s important that the students are coming to you to ask for these changes. You are not just noticing that someone hasn’t turned something in and extending the deadline for them. That, in my mind, would be coddling. But you are recognizing that students are human beings with lives outside your class and giving them opportunities to succeed.

      1. LadyVet*

        I’ll second this. Sometimes if a story just isn’t going to come together by the deadline, my editor and I will decide to swap in a different story (maybe we’ve already made contact with the source), or will figure out a way to restructure it so it can be done… but the important thing is that I let the editor know of problems as soon as they arise, instead of at the last minute, so we have more possible solutions.

    2. OneOfTheSevenDwarves*

      I used to adjunct while a grad student at my university. There was one thing I learned very quickly….always make sure you put your policies and expectations in the syllabus, and that a student who is determined to fail will do so no matter how many chances you give them, but the ones who genuinely want to pass will take you up on your help and guidance if you’re a decent human being. You are correct. They need to space to learn to navigate being a responsible adult and to advocate for themselves and conversely to learn the consequences of their own actions. You also never know what is going on in their lives and a little grace, empathy, and understanding go a long way. My position was, if you come to me I will ALWAYS work with you and help you. If you never contact me until the last possible day of the semester, I’ll still do what I can, but after I bend it for you once and you don’t deliver, that’s on you. You’re doing the right thing for your students and your self. Don’t doubt that you can be “nice” without being a pushover.

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      One aspect to consider – some of the students wont feel comfortable asking for extension or think to ask for it and are just doing the best they can with the tight deadline. You don’t want to penalize those students for not having the gumption to ask for a bonus day to work on the exam. I was 3 years into college before realizing you could ask professors about rescheduling like that.

      1. The "Nice" Professor*

        I work with very small classes, of 5-15 students, so by the time they’re seniors, I know them pretty well. However, I do encourage them to ask, and allow the class as a whole some agency in deciding exam dates. For instance, I’ll give my traditional 7-10 notice for an exam, and ask the whole class if that sounds doable/reasonable to them. Then someone will pipe up with, “well, we have another exam from so-and-so the day before.” So we can adjust accordingly.

    4. Rick Tq*

      Some flexibility makes sense, but they also have to have HARD deadlines with zero points for the assignment if it is missed. The real world can be flexible or binary with no flexibility at all.

      I work in Computer sales, and a competitor (who was the favorite to win the bid) was disqualified to bid on a multimillion dollar order when they were 15 minutes late turning in their response.

      1. The "Nice" Professor*

        I know their other professors will do this for sure. So I try to be the balance to that. Perhaps I need to think more strongly about the balance in my own classes. The end-of-semester deadlines are often that way, regardless.

        1. Sparkle llama*

          That gets at a fundamental difference between most college and work environments. In college I had 4+ professors who set their deadlines independently of each other. So they could all choose the same time for major deadlines for people who happened to be in those classes. In most work environments deadlines can be managed by shifting work between people and moving internal deadlines to accommodate external deadlines.

    5. Hexagon*

      Another professor here – I do the same thing, for what it’s worth. I’d rather students learn the material than get hung up on hitting an exact deadline. Learning to communicate clearly and ask for some kind of temporary accommodation is an important skill too, and often a bigger one than whatever they’re gaining from turning in one specific project by 11:59pm on Sunday night.

      When there is a rigid deadline that cannot be extended, I’m very clear about that and give plenty of warning. Otherwise, what difference does it make? I can’t grade everything the second it comes in anyway, so it doesn’t affect my schedule too much.

      I certainly had undergrad professors who were far more rigid and punitive than any boss or scenario I encountered outside of academia, so the “real world” argument doesn’t hold up for me. Then in grad school, I noticed I was a lot more willing to take risks and try something new with the more accommodating professors. I felt like I got more out of those classes than the ones where the prof focused more on style over substance, so to speak.

    6. Geriatric Millennial*

      I think it depends a bit on whether this is groups of students, or individual students.

      I’m somewhat skeptical of allowing your class (as a group) to push for deadline changes unless it’s something like “50% of us are out sick” or “there is a major conflict for a large number of us” (for that last I’m thinking of students who are all in the same two classes or have a licensing exam or something). I don’t know if I can articulate why, though.

      For individual students, if allowing extra days/flexibility isn’t putting too much pressure on your own grading and organizational system, then I don’t see too many downsides to working with them. Especially since you are pointing out potential knock-on effects like deadline dominoes.

      1. The "Nice" Professor*

        It’s both. But I teach in a specialized field where they *are* taking almost all the same classes. So examples have been: “We have an exam with another prof the day before and another the day after what you’re asking for. Can we move the exam by a few days, so we can study for yours over the weekend and still do well on these others?” or “The field trip we went on took 6 hours instead of the expected 2 and we still need to get back, eat dinner, and finish your homework: can we please turn it in tomorrow?”

        1. What does max of 3 finals a day mean*

          I was a student at Penn State taking an honors major where our Junior year was entirely lock step, all the same students in our 6 classes one semester. We had 3 finals scheduled in one afternoon and the other 3 the next morning. When we complained we were told the rule was no more than 3 finals in a calendar day, and that finals schedule met the rule…. ARGH!!!!!

          1. ScruffyInternHerder*

            Sounds like architecture school to me! Stacking deadlines just so that you don’t sleep for 72 hours minimum while still meeting the letter of the rule!

    7. Moonlight*

      It sounds like you’re doing the right thing. In “the real world” peoples deadlines aren’t always fixed in stone and they can advocate to a boss on deadlines.

      I think it CAN be important to know when something can’t be moved, but it also sounds like you’re working within that too (e.g., you’re not going to be able to keep accepting assignments in January for the fall semester). I also think that teachers having strict deadlines because “that’s how the world works” is idiotic; I’ve had jobs where I have certain unmovable deadlines because of legislation that dictates that something that is reported to the government must be done by 10 am, end of story, or where there is an event. But even that can be worked with (e.g., if I can’t meet the legal 10 am deadline, then something else needs to be moved, if I can’t be ready for the event of the 24, then I need more help). I think teaching students to speak up allows them to work with their own unmovable deadlines like that and how to prioritize competing tasks too.

    8. Academic Advisor*

      Speaking as an academic advisor: thank you for your flexibility. It can make a big difference for students who are struggling (which, on my campus, feels like just about everyone right now).

      I especially love your framing that “they need to learn in a safe place to advocate for themselves.” So many issues can be avoided when a student is comfortable enough to reach out to their faculty or advisors and let us know what’s going on, instead of hiding away until the problem becomes insurmountable.

      If “Incomplete” grades are a thing on your campus, I’d suggest some caution around those. On my campus, the policy is that students may only receive Incompletes for courses in which they currently have a passing grade–but unfortunately many faculty ignore or aren’t aware of that, and grant Incompletes to students who have little or no realistic chance of successfully completing the course. That leads to false hopes and prolonged stress when the student might have been better off just failing the course and moving on from it.

      1. The "Nice" Professor*

        Oh, yes. Incomplete grades are reserved for special circumstances. Student with long Covid? Check. Student who was perfect the first half of the semester and had a significant break down mid-semester? Check. Student who hasn’t turned anything in since midterms and has just been flaking? Nah, you’ll need to retake next semester where we can keep an eye on you.

    9. Manchmal*

      Some people justify these decisions by comparing college to the “real-world”, but personally, I don’t think that’s great reasoning. I’m a tenure-track professor, and I generally am very lenient with students. If they ask for an extension, I give it. My approach is based on two things: it’s easiest for me, and my tenure case is decided in part by student evaluations, so I want my students to feel happy and supported, and positive towards me. If the university wants something different, then the university should structure tenure evaluation differently.

    10. NB*

      I had a prof who was very flexible with due days. She preferred that we take the time we need to submit good work. She said, “It’s so much easier to grade good work than crappy work.”

      1. Trawna*

        Indeed. Brava/o!

        In terms of the student’s experience in their careers, your example will be an excellent way for them to assess work environments.

        1. Ann Ominous*

          I was wondering what the gender neutral of brava/o might be and came up with breve. A breve can mean many things but my favorite is the half-circle mark over a syllable to show that it is not stressed … I’m going to put something on top of my head to show that I’m not stressed.

          This is a breve: ˘

    11. Nesprin*

      The only piece of advice I can give is making sure that all your students know that flexibility is available to them vs. letting the ones with the social skills and extroversion ask for flexibility. There’s cultural differences in ability to ask for help from people in authority, and I want my students to all understand that they can ask for help.

      I have largely the same policies for smaller classes, but larger classes I really don’t have the bandwidth to keep track of all students+ their deadlines.

      1. The "Nice" Professor*

        I teach at a small school and my largest class contains 15. I also teach primarily in-major classes, so they’re in pretty straightforward cohorts, so keeping track of them is simple for me in a way it would not be in the school I attended for grad school (taught a class of nearly 100 and it was the smallest of 8 sections).

        1. Nesprin*

          That makes a lot of sense then! I’d add your policies to your syllabus and go through them first day, just so everyone understands that flexibility is available to them, but other than that, I think you’re doing something great for your students and their quality of life!

      2. Educator*

        Yes, it might be helpful to track for yourself how many of these requests are coming from students in groups the system has historically advantaged so that you can provide targeted support for students who might not have the same historical experiences of success working the system.

    12. Robin Ellacott*

      I think this all sounds supportive and perfectly compatible with how the “real world” operates.

      The only thing I’d be watching is whether all students know they can do this and it doesn’t become a situation where the ones with the self-assurance to ask are the ones chiefly benefiting (because that’s so tied to gender, race, privilege, etc. etc.). But it doesn’t sound like this is an issue the way you’re working it!

    13. Educator*

      The main way I could imagine this doing students a disservice is if they are not learning the important executive functioning skills required to break a big task up into pieces and work on it on an ongoing basis, rather than trying to do it all at the last moment. Are a lot of these extension conversations happening within 24-48 hours of the deadline? If so, you might want to provide more up front support (and put a limit on how last minute extensions can be).

    14. JelloStapler*

      No disservice, I work in HigherEd and flexbility is great. If you can also talk with them about ways to break down their projects, offer to help give feedback and such- that is helping them learn. You also can decide for you/your class when you have hit the limit of what you can do for them to pass. can you offer incompletes in that case?

    15. Despachito*

      I think what you are doing is great, and thank you for that!

      I do not see what you would be missing – it appears that you are not rigorous about the formalities and let the students see that:

      – the priority is the quality of their work, not strict adherence to formal rules
      – the teacher is their partner, not their enemy, and has the same goal as them – that they learn as much as they can
      – it is not necessary to be afraid of someone higher-up, and it is normal to discuss things with them;
      – it is important to know beforehand you are not able to meet a deadline, and to communicate about that, rather than just let the deadline pass without saying anything,
      – you are not letting them slack off, they still have to turn in their work, even if it is a day or two later. In real life, it very often is like this – you can negotiate a later deadline knowing you will be able to do better work if you have more time.

      So I think you are not doing them a disservice, but a great service.

      This approach can be life-saving for those who are struggling, and I know it from experience of a very close person who was lucky enough to have a professor like you. And I would like to give you extra thanks for that.

    16. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      I think it’s great to be flexible. People get sick, hurt, and have emergencies both major and minor.
      That being said, there are people who will take a mile if given an inch. It’s still good to have deadlines because that will be the case in working life. The flexibility should be applied occasionally if truly warranted.

    17. LuckyClover*

      Fellow Higher Ed here! I encourage you to look into UDL (universal design for learning) as it relates to this area. Flexible policies are incredibly valuable and reduce barriers for students across the board. A key concept of UDL is that your learners are “experts at learning”, which is accomplished when you can be explicit with your expectations, and separate the “means from the ends” often times we unintentionally embed the means of achievement into a goal (meeting a deadline over the quality of work or style), thereby restricting the pathways students can take to meet it.

  18. Free Meerkats*

    I’ve talked about our office cats here and mentioned a few months back that one had disappeared; we figured the coyotes or eagles got him.

    Well, after almost 4 months, he came back! No idea where he’s been and he’s lost some weight, but overall in good shape. Right now he’s parked on coworker’s desk cleaning himself.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      He took a 4-month internship to try out a new career field, but ultimately decided your office was a better work environment ;)

    2. Ripley*

      That’s so great! My aunt had a cat return after 5 years. He disappeared one day and she eventually mourned him as dead. 5 years later, she got a call from the vet – he’d been hanging around a homeless shelter and they decided to adopt him as the shelter cat. They took him to the vet to get cleaned up, and they found his tattoo and called my aunt! She was thrilled to have him back and spoiled him rotten for the rest of his days. So you never know.

  19. londonedit*

    As it’s nearly update season, I’d love another update on this one:

    https://www.askamanager.org/2020/01/update-will-it-hurt-my-chances-of-getting-hired-if-i-can-only-do-video-interviews.html

    I stumbled across it the other day, and wow…talk about none of us having a clue what was to come! I hope the OP managed to make a go of their job in Brighton, but starting out in a new country so close to the whole Covid thing kicking off can’t have been easy!

  20. Interview Help*

    Hi all, I’m interviewing for a new job after just 8 months at my current job. I have a few reasons for this but I need to find a way to explain why I’m looking elsewhere. At my current job, I find I don’t like the disorganization, on-the-fly decision making combined with frequent mind changes, being used as a personal executive assistant to my boss when I’m actually an accomplished high-level industry pro with tons of experience and was hired to be said Professional.

    Also, I was hired as a remote employee but my boss is constantly opining that he can’t communicate well with me because he hates using the phone and needs to “brainstorm together in person”. So I’m being pressured to drive 2 hours to the office just to sit with him in his office thinking. I can’t spend $5/gallon on this anymore.

    1. ecnaseener*

      I would probably focus on the pressure to work in person when you really want full time remote work, that’s immediately understandable and doesn’t risk reflecting badly on you (assuming you’re applying to fully remote jobs)

      1. irene adler*

        And, you are interested in a position that utilizes your skillset associated with your self-described “accomplished high-level industry pro with tons of experience and was hired to be said Professional”. (yeah, not the best worded sentence there)

        Your current position isn’t doing that in ways that you like.

        1. londonedit*

          Yeah, I’d definitely frame it as ‘The job was advertised to me as X, which is something I really enjoy doing, but now that I’ve been there a few months it’s clear the job is actually Y. I’m keen to get back to doing X, because…’.

          1. NotARaccoonKeeper*

            I like this one too – it could also prompt a conversation about what you do want to be doing, to make sure it’s a better fit this time.

        2. Interview Help*

          Thanks. Maybe I misunderstood the intent but I feel the added editorial on your part was unnecessary.

          1. Something something*

            I might be mistaken, but I think that Irene was referring to their own sentence and how the quote fit into it, rather than critiquing your quote itself.

      2. Magda*

        Agree. This is a very easy to understand reason and the one you should focus on. Don’t feel obliged to tell the whole messy truth. “When I was hired, I understood that the job would be fully remote, however as time has gone on my boss has realized he needs someone in the office and that’s not right for me.” Best if you are applying for other remote jobs.

        1. irene adler*

          Good point! Don’t go negative about current employer via airing the dirty laundry, so to speak.

    2. Gnome*

      “I started a X Co. And it turned out that it just wasn’t a very good fit.”

      If they ask why you can say “I was expecting to be working primarily on A and B but am finding that about Y percent of my time is being spent on tasks like C and D.”

    3. Bernice Clifton*

      “I was hired to be a [your job title], but leadership has added a number of administrative assistant duties which is outside of my role and skillset.”

    4. Dr. Prepper*

      Do not go with the “the job was not a good fit” line. This is a euphemism universally understood phrase by interviewers and recruiters that there was a problem – instinctively they assume it was with you.

      Simply state – “I was offered a fully remote position and accepted the offer based on that understanding. The office management has altered their position and now is asking for in-office working, which is untenable for me to agree to.”

      1. Magda*

        +1 although it will be more tricky if the job you’re applying to is fully or partially in person. In that case, I might focus on the commute (if better) or how the proposed schedule will work better for you.

        1. Interview Help*

          Thanks! It would be fine to go in-person some of the time with the potential agency since it is in my city. The current job is 100 miles away.

    5. Anonymous Koala*

      +1 to the “I was hired to be fully remote but it turned out the job was in-person” line. But also, does your boss know how to use Zoom? Some of my older coworkers like cameras-on Zoom but resisted at first because they didn’t know how to use it. We recently had a team-wide Zoom training and it really seems to have helped!

    6. Tesuji*

      To me, “I was hired for a remote job, and then it turned out that my boss didn’t want me to be remote” completely explains everything without really requiring any followup or further questions, which feels like a success.

      I’d stay away from the “being used as a personal executive assistant to my boss when I’m actually an accomplished high-level industry pro with tons of experience and was hired to be said Professional” part.

      That ends up raising questions that weren’t there before, as it’s not enough information for your interviewer to know whether that was a reasonable response or not, which leaves you the choice of either (1) relitigating your grievances or (2) risking him walking away wondering if your boss was making reasonable requests and you’re too rigid. Both of those feel like failure modes.

      That’s assuming you’re applying to remote jobs, of course. If not, you probably have to confront the bad fit situation head-on, and have to choose between a vague safe answer (which risks an interviewer wondering if you were the one at fault) or going into details (which wastes time you could otherwise be selling yourself).

    7. I'm Done*

      If your formal place of work is your home, you’re not commuting, you’re traveling and should be reimbursed for mileage. If you work for a larger company there should be travel guidelines in place. You need to talk to your HR department about this. In addition, since you’re traveling the drive should be on work time. Maybe once it’s costing your boss/company instead of you, this nonsense will stop.

  21. Flowers*

    I’m at a work event for Women’s empowerment; one of the panelists is a higher up at my company. I’m enjoying it but I did NOT expect to be bawling in front of my table of coworkers.

  22. Jj*

    How do people with food tolerance issues handle international business travel, particularly to places where turning down food is impolite? I react to some very common ingredients, and while my reactions are not severe, I still feel awful for a couple days and effects are compounded by eating more

    1. I don't mean to be rude, I'm just good at it.*

      Due to medical issues, I no longer drink carbonated beverages or alcoholic beverages. I smile at my hosts and say, “I drink, I die.” It is said in a serious manner, but with a smile.

      It works for me.

      1. Educator*

        This very simple language has worked well for me too. It is so easy for the complexities of intolerance and allergy to get lost in translation, but “I die” is pretty unambiguous.

    2. Hillary*

      Ask your hosts in advance to help you navigate it. Almost everyone loves feeling helpful. Be graceful/kind/self deprecating and acknowledge that it’s not ideal. But also be matter of fact about it. Weirdly, being vulnerable about this has strengthened my relationships.

      If you’re going somewhere with a gift culture be sure to bring gifts. And pack some kind of energy bars just in case.

      Signed, a vegetarian who’s been to way too many banquets in China

    3. Gigi*

      I’m a diplomat and this comes up all the time. The advice I follow and give is to tell your hosts in advance. In a globalized world, people get it in both developed and developing countries. The important thing is DON’T LIE ABOUT IT because you think something is icky. (I’m not saying you are doing this, I’m sure your sensitivities are legit, I’ve just seen it.) Sure enough, you tell people you’re a vegetarian because you don’t want to eat reindeer and the reindeer host will see you going ham on a cheeseburger at the July 4 party.

      1. Generic Name*

        I know not the point, but do you get a little thrill when you say “I’m a diplomat”? Because it sounds as cool as heck!

    4. Policy Wonk*

      I’d recommend you get a letter in the host country language that explains your restrictions. I’ve travelled with a colleague who does this and it has been very helpful at answering questions – particularly with restaurant staff who may not have sufficient English to address this. Most people are happy to accommodate once they understand this. And the fact that you went to the trouble to get the letter beforehand demonstrates this is real – you aren’t just being impolite. (Bring a couple of copies in case someone keeps it.)

    5. Ms. Norbury*

      If you’re comfortable disclosing, mentioning a medical restriction (without any details) should end the subject in most contexts, and some warm praise for how good the food looks and how you wish you could have some should cover the politeness aspect. If you’re still a bit in doubt, it would be great if you could check how to navigate this with someone from the place you’re going to.

    6. Rara Avis*

      We had a situation with an international trip where someone decided not to go — they had started having allergic reactions to the smell of fish cooking, and there was just no way to control their environment enough to keep them safe.

  23. kittybutton*

    How do you actually find management positions? I am really interested in moving into management/leadership but the words “manager” and “executive” are in MANY job titles that have nothing to do with managing a team. It seems like each company calls them different things so I don’t even know where to start. It is also really unclear from many job postings how senior a position is because, again, different companies use different terms.

    I’m tapping my network and can look at internal postings, but finding external positions is challenging.

    1. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      There is management of projects, things, and agencies, and management of people. Sometimes the two coexist.

      You have to see in the job description if it mentions direct reports, or management of a team, or ask if you will have any direct reports.

  24. OneOfTheSevenDwarves*

    I just need a gut check. I work in public libraries. My branch is supposed to have a full complement of 15 (including the manager) over 2 teams (information and circulation). We’ve had one team member from each side out on long term disability. 2 empty positions on each team and then one of my info team members went on maternity leave in August to come back in November. During all this my manager announces she’s going on a mental health FMLA for 6 weeks starting mid-September to come back the day before my coworker on maternity leave. That’s all fine. Honestly, the timing wasn’t great, but for a bunch of reasons I totally understand my manager needing an extended break. My issue is this: it left 7 people (only 2 of which were full time) to operate a branch with 64 operating hours open 7 days a week. Myself and the other 3 part timers worked HUNDREDS of hours of overtime to help out and keep it so the branch literally could open it’s doors. Towards the end of the maternity leave/FMLA period 2 of the vacant positions were filled so now we are actually pretty well staffed. But my issue is this: my manager has not said one word to me or the other part timers (who are all the lowest on the totem pole) thanking us for our work, efforts, and teamwork. She’s mentioned something to my direct report who is full time but I don’t know if she’s said anything to the other full time person. But I’m just very hurt. I feel like I busted my butt to help out the team and the branch and my manager came back and just acted like it was business as usual and she didn’t put more additional stress on the team that was already in a stressful situation before she went on FMLA. On top of that, she DID get a funny mug for my coworker who was on mat leave when she came back. So the one person who wasn’t here the longest is the one that got a fun back to work gift while those who were left to run the ship didn’t even a card or even a verbal thank you/acknowledgment. So, I just need a gut check. This is kinda sh**ty right? It’s not the end of the world, but I feel really hurt and disappointed and don’t know if I’m overreacting to being unreasonable or not. Thanks everyone!

    1. ecnaseener*

      Yes, that’s fair to feel like you deserved a thank-you too. I’m sure she didn’t mean to be hurtful, but it was thoughtless.

    2. Rex Libris*

      Yep. You’re not wrong. At the very least I’d have had a meeting where I thanked everyone for pulling together and keeping the doors open, then bought everyone pizza (or whatever) for lunch.

      Since your manager is coming back from a mental health leave, it’s possible they don’t have the bandwith right now to do much beyond try and get things back to quietly normal, but there still should have been some appreciation shown.

    3. AnotherLibrarian*

      You have every right to be hurt by this. Your manager has been pretty thoughtless and that sucks. I’d assume it has something to do with herself being on leave and losing track of things. But yeah, I’d be hurt too.

    4. Academic Librarian*

      You have every right to feel shitty about it. I would too. I also think this is unfortunately WAY too common in libraries. I’m in academic libraries, not public libraries, but I see versions of this at my own institution. Everything and everywhere is so understaffed, people let work fall down to whoever else is standing, there is little proactive planning to keep it from happening again, and I think people actively avoid expressing their appreciation to those who pick up the pieces because they’d have to confront how bad the situation is. You have my sympathies.

    5. Gremlins*

      Comments like this make me wonder why so many people are against “love languages”. It sounds like it’s important to you to have words of affirmation and gifts to show that you are appreciated. A smart boss would give you both of those, but she would need to know they’re important as those things just don’t register as ‘important’ with those whose love languages are something else.

  25. Ivka*

    Not a question, just an lol moment at work this week…our annual harassment training advises managers that appearing on Zoom with a bed in the background can be inappropriate. Sure – and where’s my raise so I can afford a two bedroom apartment in our major metro area, or to not live with roommates?

    1. Rex Libris*

      I’m really tired of the whole idea that if you take a Zoom meeting from home, it absolutely can’t look like you’re at home… In 2020 we were just happy if everyone wasn’t in their bathrobe.

    2. LDN Layabout*

      They highlighted something that’s an issue that’s easily solved with the software you have available (either blur or background).

      But yeah, if you’re not being fairly compensated for your work it’s easy to focus on fairly innocuous points rather than the actual issue.

      1. Admin of Sys*

        There are a surprising amount of otherwise workable older machines that don’t have the ability to do the background blur or image in zoom. Folks can’t always use technological solutions to problems.

        1. LadyVet*

          Yeah, I definitely don’t have the version of Zoom that comes with fun backgrounds or special capabilities. My computers are too old, and can’t be updated to support that.

          1. Angstrom*

            System requirements for blur:
            Zoom desktop client, version 5.2.0 or higher
            Windows 7, 8, and 10 (64-bit)
            Supported processors
            Intel Core i3-5000 or higher
            Intel Core i5-3000 or higher
            Intel Core i7-3000 or higher
            Intel Core i9-8000 or higher
            AMD
            8 logical cores
            2.0Ghz or higher
            ARM64
            Qualcomm Adreno 680 and above
            Driver version 27.20.1640.0 or higher

            Latest client can be downloaded at zoom.us/download

          2. Adrian*

            That was why I bought a new laptop early this year. My old one’s processor is too old to handle virtual backgrounds.

    3. Educator*

      I think it depends on the bed! A tidy, made one with a lounging dog—totally fine. Messy satin sheets and body imprints—too much info.

    4. RagingADHD*

      If your job doesn’t pay you enough to afford an extra curtain and some wall hooks, or a chair that rolls, or a laptop/auxiliary webcam that can change angle, then you definitely should be looking for a raise.

      It’s been two and a half years. There are fifty-seven-eleven different ways to make a videoconference background look neutral and professional, from software to putting up a sheet, to rearranging the furniture, to just angling your camera one way or another.

      I didn’t realize people (people with management level problem-solving skills, apparently?) were still having issues figuring this out.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Welp, I tend to address things pretty literally and look for simple, practical solutions.

          I also find straw man arguments and hyperbole to be disingenuous. I do not think they are used in good faith. They are often used when people are pretending that reasonable, normal social or work expectations are somehow insurmountable, crushing obstacles. When they are not at all.

          I suppose people who like to blow smoke might find it “cutting” when others choose not to play along. If so, I’m okay with that.

    5. allathian*

      Ugh, sounds like this advice is outdated. A tidy, made bed shouldn’t be a problem, all of us need to sleep, after all.

      That said, if your computer is reasonably modern, you should be able to use blur or another background.

  26. Schedule A?*

    Hi all —

    Mid-40s ciswoman here. If I’ve never required formal accommodations before (def informal ones), but am now limiting my job search based on increased impact of my chronic condition/disability on my capacity, is it “fair” to “claim” being disabled for the first time when job seeking, specifically for federal (US) jobs (i.e. getting a Schedule A letter)? My medical provider would definitely write one.

    I have never experienced discrimination because of it (to my knowledge), but have been pretty open about my needs over the years, which have been met. I’m struggling with finding the right new job opportunity — so having an access to jobs that are open to Schedule A applicants but not the public may be helpful. And that feels wrong. Or is it?

    I can no longer do some of the things I used to be able to do, which is hard, but at the same time, the way I’m perceived in the world is as a non-disabled person. I don’t want to take advantage of something that isn’t for me. But maybe I need to accept that, at this point in my life, this is for me?

    Thanks for any advice — including “this isn’t for you, don’t go down that road.”

    1. Soup 4 Days*

      If your doctor agrees that your disability significantly impacts your life enough to give you a Schedule A letter, then you are the target demographic for Schedule A hiring, even if in another chapter of your life, you weren’t. You don’t have to prove to anyone that your need is “greater” than someone elses, or “prove” that you’re “disabled enough” by “looking it.” Use the letter. Apply for the jobs.

      Source: federal supervisor and loved one to persons with invisible disabilities

    2. Jeebs*

      It sounds to me like at this point in your life, it is, in fact, for you. Whether or not strangers perceive you as disabled isn’t really a reflection on that; I think that would be clear to you if it were anyone besides yourself that you were thinking of. We are often loathe to take resources for ourselves, especially if you are a generous and self-sufficient person.

      It might help to externalize everything this way: if a friend came to you with this problem, if they had the exact chronic condition/symptoms you have, and a doctor willing to attest that they were in some way disabled, impaired, or limited by their condition – would you be telling them that they didn’t deserve Schedule A status? Or would you be telling your friend that they were exactly who this kind of resource was meant for, and they deserve it as much as anyone else?

      1. Schedule A?*

        Thank you! I think more my concern is not the visible/invisible part so much as being wary of “claiming” an identity. I live on the margins of more than one identity group (like being bisexual but mostly dating men, plus more fraught racial and religious areas). And I think I’ve gotten used to something being a part of me, but me not being a part of the “group.”

        1. Irish Teacher*

          Yeah, I get what you mean about claiming an identity; I feel that way about a few thing. But I think when it comes to accommodations, it’s not really about identity, but about whether or not you need the accommodation.

          If you qualify and you need the support, then I think it’s for you. I don’t know the details of these schemes, but that seems to make sense to me.

    3. Librarian of SHIELD*

      It’s a pretty well known phenomenon in disability circles that people who were previously able bodied can take a pretty long time to claim a disabled identity. A lot of it is internalized ableism and the idea that disability is a yes or no question when it’s actually more of a spectrum, and people tend to slide back and forth on that spectrum at different points in their lives. A lot of us were raised with the mindset that either you’re completely disabled or you’re fine and you should just find a way to push through it, but that’s usually not the case.

      I’m on that disability spectrum myself (my condition is well managed with twice yearly injections, but there are a few weeks before each injection when my mobility is much more limited and I need more help than usual), and I don’t have any official accommodations in place at work yet. I mostly manage it the way that you seem to have done, through informal accommodations and asking for favors from coworkers (mostly just a one-off “hey, can you lift that heavy thing for me?” type favor). Sometimes people need full time accommodations, sometimes they need increased accommodations during a flare up, and either way, they should receive the accommodations they need when they need them.

      If you can no longer do some of the things you used to do, then I would say claiming disability status is appropriate, and you deserve a job that will allow you to have the things you need in order to be effective and successful. You don’t need my permission, but you have it all the same.

      1. Schedule A?*

        Thanks! I’m pretty comfortable talking about my diagnosis and how it impacts me (I’d name it here but pretty rare so don’t want to identify myself). It is just … a part of me. The new terrain is asking to have access to jobs that would not otherwise be available to me because they aren’t open to the general public. It feels uncomfortable to potentially get one of these jobs — for which I’m well qualified — but through a side door if I shouldn’t be using that door. But I’m realizing I need the side door. Cause I’m limited in the number of “front door” jobs I can take on, in ways that I didn’t used to be.

        But. I called my doctor’s office and made the request!

        Thanks to all of you — new insights into myself over here.

        1. 1LFTW*

          I’m so glad you did that for yourself. You’ve inspired me to go look up Schedule A work.

          I have a few chronic, invisible disabilities, and it’s just so easy to forget that they’re actually *disabling*. For instance, in a conversation with a colleague about picking up a second gig she was recommending, I said that the money sounds great, but it probably wouldn’t work out for me, because “my body won’t do X”. My colleague said “well, if you need the money, you’ll find a way do X”, and I just… reflexively agreed with her.

          On my drive home, I realized that, no, it doesn’t matter how badly I need the money because my body won’t do X! That’s what “disabled” means!

        2. k8orado*

          Hi, federal hiring manager here! I would encourage you to really shift this mindset. There are so many special hiring programs in the federal government (for recent grads, veterans, people with disabilities, can’t even remember all the others). They all exist to get people in who the government wants to hire, and might have trouble hiring through the regular, very rigid system.

          On the hiring manager side, they’re awesome! They let you bypass a lot of the bureaucracy and just bring in good people with needed skills. You’re not going to get a job just because you have a disability, you’re going to get your resume in front of someone who will be excited to bring in your skill set without having to wade through the convoluted regular process.

    4. RagingADHD*

      A *lot* of people who are disabled were not born with disabilities. There are significant differences in which the way we think about marginalized identities in relation to gender, sexuality, or race simply don’t apply to disability. There is nothing in the qualifications for Schedule A that asks about a history of discrimination, because that would automatically disqualify a significant number of people that the program was designed to support.

      If you were returning to work after a sudden, catastrophic accident that left you with a physical disability, you would also never have previously been discriminated against. A history of discrimination would be irrelevant to your current status, and it is irrelevant here.

  27. Harold*

    Any tips for feeling out of place?

    I started a new job a year ago and overall it’s going well. I’m about 10 years into my career and I had a stellar reputation at my old company. I was a go-to person for questions/troubleshooting and I was visible to senior management.

    The new job, well, I do not feel like this at all, which is fine–it’s more technical than my previous position which means there’s been a learning curve but I’m getting great performance reviews and the director of my department seems pleased with my work.

    However, I made an error which cost the company about $4000–not out of pocket, but with a credit to a client, but still. And I feel awful about it because I know at my old company everyone knew I was excellent and it wouldn’t have been a big deal, but here? I feel like this is all they’re going to see, even though I’ve been here for a year, doing a good job, etc.

    Neither my supervisor or the director has said anything about it to me directly, and I’ve been saying for months we need a more robust QC system in place and already since this mistake surfaced there’s now management movement to put one in place, but I still can’t shake the feeling that this is going to be bad for me. How do I deal????

    1. Jeebs*

      You say you are 10 years into your career – was most/all of that experience at your old company?

      Changing companies is almost always emotionally difficult (even in cases where it’s also awesome and exciting). There’s a lot of learning, even in a role you’re well-experienced in – you’re learning new internal procedures and heirarchies, meeting new people and forming new relationships with them, learning new company politics. It’s a lot! It’s totally normal to feel out of place and a little shaken in your confidence for the first year, maybe even two years. You know you’re good at what you do, but now you’re in a totally new environment, trying to prove yourself to new people, without the same support systems you had in place in your old role.

      Basically – what I’m saying is it’s totally normal to feel the way you’re feeling, and that it is NOT necessarily a reflection of how bad things actually are. You’re at a place where it’s natural for you to take longer to emotionally recover from making a mistake. That doesn’t necessarily reflect how the people around you see this mistake, or how they see you.

      My advice would be to take some time to yourself, unwind, and then really process what happened. $4k isn’t nothing, I’d be mortified too! (Although it’s worth noting that at the company-wide level, for many companies, this isn’t too serious of a figure.)

      So process that embarrassment. Maybe write down in a journal all the bad things you’re thinking about yourself or that you think other people are thinking about you. Really sit in those feelings for a bit. Then take some more time to decompress, and focus on the flip side – what evidence do you have that your new coworkers/bosses actually view you positively? What are some successes you’ve had at your new job? What are some positive traits that you notice about yourself, or that other people have noticed about you, that back up how competent you are? Etc.

    2. Hen in a Windstorm*

      $4000 is literally nothing. Like, mentally, drop all the zeroes when you think about this. Nobody has said anything, which means it isn’t something *they* are thinking about.

      “I feel like this is all they’re going to see, even though I’ve been here for a year, doing a good job” <- Don't let anxiety eat you alive. Stick to the facts. Your feelings are valid, but they do not accurately reflect reality. You have proof of this! You warned that you needed better QC, something did in fact happen, and now they are solving that problem. Score!

      Remind yourself also that EVERYONE makes mistakes. Forgive yourself for being human, just like everyone else.

    3. Purple Cat*

      You give yourself the grace that you obviously would give someone else in the same situation.
      I also recently started a new job after 15+ years at OldCo, and losing that safety net of a solid reputation is HARD! But your company hired you for a reason, and if you had already been pointing out the need for a more robust QC process, then there is absolutely no reason to blame you. Seconding others that unless your company is REALLY small, a $4k error is negligible.

    4. linger*

      At any sane workplace, the standard isn’t that nobody ever makes mistakes, it’s that people respond constructively to them — finding ways of reducing the risk of mistakes, and more easily identifying and correcting them when they do occur. Sounds like your workplace is sane, and you’re already in the process of a constructive response.

    5. Merrie*

      You made one mistake in almost a year of working there? And you’ve gotten good reviews and been praised by your director? You should be fine. Functional companies don’t have your head for a single mistake. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes. And particularly if your issue could have been avoided by a systemic quality control, it’s not entirely your fault because you were also trying to work within a system that set you up to make this mistake. I’m guessing people got raked over the coals for mistakes at your former company? I’ve recently switched jobs too and it’s taken me some time to relax and feel like I’m not going to get in “trouble” the same way as at Exjob.

    6. C.*

      First and foremost, and this is something I have to remind myself on a regular basis, everyone makes mistakes. Full stop, period. You are a human being learning a new job and operating within a new environment. Mistakes are going to happen. You caught it, and I’m assuming apologized for the error, which your company now knows about. It sounds like they’re even taking your suggestion to implement ways in which to prevent it from happening again. That’s a good thing. I think people lose sight of the fact that all errors are not the same; there are careless, preventable errors (which everyone makes) and then there are errors that are unforced because something about the environment causes them. It’s not necessarily you specifically who caused the error; it may have just happened because of some deficiency in the environment and you were the unlucky one that day.

      Give yourself some slack.

  28. Project Management Tips*

    I have been recently alerted by my supervisor that my project management skills/performance is not…the best. Do folks have any tips or suggestions for trainings I could get to improve my project management skills?

    (An example he gave is that I failed to flag an issue on a project that I was leading.)

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      How are you currently tracking your projects? Do you have a gantt chart or similar? Do you just have lists of steps and whose working on them? Or like a Kanban board? How are you QC-ing your results, do you check in daily/weekly/monthly to make sure there’s no unexpected issues?

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

      Did you see the issue, and failed to alert others, or did you not see the issue? The skills for spotting issues, and the skills for effectively communicating issues to others are different.

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

          Then, like DisneyChannelThis implied, you could work on your tracking system — every project should be charted out with stages, deadlines, tasks, and deliverables so you can spot issues as quickly as possible and course correct. I don’t know what you already have in place, but at the very least, you should have a written project outline. I usually work backwards on my projects because they have a hard completion date — I chart backwards to say that to make this date, I need X task completed by Y date, and so on. This charting needs to be done with the other stakeholders input on those deadlines and deliverables; for example, it doesn’t do any good to declare the widgets need to be completed 3 weeks before the project deadline if Procurement says the widget makers won’t have the necessary supplies to start until 2 weeks before the deadline.

          Then on the communication front, in my experience, you just have to make a pest of yourself to others and be fine with their discontent; follow up and follow up again on tasks and deadlines, and send out status updates to the stakeholders even if they don’t want them.

    3. Policy Wonk*

      Look into the Project Management Institute as a place to start – you could work toward a Project Management Professional certification.

    4. Magda*

      This advice as written is a bit vague to be actionable, but you can probably do the sleuthing yourself to figure out which part of the project management you’re struggling with. As described it sounds more like a communications issue (you knew of the problem but didn’t give your boss a heads up) but it could also be a management issue (you didn’t realize the problem) or a judgement issue (you tried to solve the problem in a way that didn’t work).

      1. Project Management Tips*

        I think it’s a judgment issue mostly. I solved parts of the problem but missed one of the problems and didn’t flag it.

        1. Hen in a Windstorm*

          But if you missed it, you couldn’t flag it. You said this is one example your boss gave. Were there others? Is there a pattern? Maybe it was just an error anyone could make, or maybe it is a problem, but it’s hard to say if it was a one-off.

          If it was a one-off that your boss is turning into “you need to improve your skills, no one should make mistakes” then maybe your boss is being unreasonable.

        2. Mockingjay*

          Who’s/what’s your backup? Every place and type of project I’ve worked, there’s always been (or I implemented) a check system. When you work with something daily, your mind fills in “how it should be” instead of “how it really is.” Whether it’s a peer/manager review when you reach a milestone, or a qc process in which a fresh pair of eyes looks over your report – you need something or someone to verify what’s been done to date and to look for errors. It’s a very normal, useful business practice.

          Talk with your boss again. Ask about other projects or departments – how do they avoid errors? Are there processes you can adapt for your own work? A better tracking tool? This is a very solvable problem, so don’t be hard on yourself.

          1. Ibis*

            Unfortunately part of the problem is that my boss doesn’t want to have to check my work. So that’s not an option for me.

    5. INeedMoreBeagles*

      Project-tracking tools like Jira and Confluence can be helpful for timeline planning and requirement completion tracking. There are trainings like PMP, Agile, Lean Six Sigma, etc. if you aren’t familiar with those. If you’re not engaging your team in thinking through possible pain points, user problems, and other issues that could cause your project to derail (manufacturing delays, integrated/vendor system bugs, people quitting, whatever is applicable in your situation, etc.), please make sure to talk through contingency plans. I’m an engineer and the worst projects I’ve been on have been the ones where project managers assumed they knew everything, didn’t listen to us (the grunts building it), we told the PM that we needed to test more or build in time for unforeseen circumstances and were told to stop being negative, and of course something happened that made us miss the deadline. Not saying you’re doing this, but I would strongly encourage you to engage your team in discussing risks (both likely and unlikely) and what risk management would like look. Other people may see a possible problem that you wouldn’t see. Doesn’t mean you’re not cut out for the job. We all see our own slices of the spectrum, so the more slices put together through brainstorming and discussion, the more problems you will be prepared for!

    6. Dilettante PM*

      I read a couple of basic books about project management, and found it helpful just to think about projects in an organized way (but not necessarily fully follow a formal PM process) I just googled the titles. Why reinvent the wheel, when professional PMs have thought it all through?

    7. Rosemary*

      I think it depends on what aspects of “project management” you are struggling with – some of which can be learned; others that I feel are more inherent “skills” (for lack of a better word) that either can’t be proactively learned, and/or are learned over time with experience. You mention you failed to flag an issue, and mentioned in another comment that you failed to see it. I am an experienced project manager – therefore I am able to see/anticipate issues that someone less experienced just might not (something that is simply learned over time). Other issues even a junior project manager should reasonably be expected to catch – perhaps you need to create detailed checklists, or reminders to yourself, of things to look out for?

      1. FashionablyEvil*

        Yes–you can definitely get better at using scheduling software, using checklists, etc., but I find that it’s much harder to teach “Having a holistic view of the project and understanding why the pieces you’re managing are important and how they fit into the project’s strategic objectives.”

        The people who are really good at spotting problems understand how all the pieces fit together and why, for example, that seemingly minor delay with that subcontractor is actually a major problem that will cascade and cause a lot of extra work for other people.

  29. à pied*

    Mostly commiseration but if anyone has cracked this nut I’ll take the advice:

    I’m a non-driving commuter (walk, bike, or bus.) It’s a midlength commute and my partner and I have a car that I drive a few times a month to do errands in the part of the city where I work, but unless the roads are hazardous for bikes, I don’t drive for weather reasons.

    It’s officially the time of year where everyone and their cubicle mate starts peering into my workspace in the mornings to spot my winter gear and express with surprise “You didn’t drive today?” or “You still biked in this??” almost every day.

    Yes. It’s how I get to work year round. We’ve had this convo before. Pleassssssse be the coworker that frees me from this Sisyphean conversation loop.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      It’s how I get to work year round. We’ve had this convo before. Pleassssssse be the coworker that frees me from this Sisyphean conversation loop.

      As someone who lives in a city where “everybody drives” and takes public transit to work when I go into the office, I hear you…

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Sorry—”everybody” else drives; I’m the one taking public transit. My sentence didn’t seem clear about that when I re-read it.

    2. Bernice Clifton*

      Can you say something like, “I prefer to bike because of the exercise/to save gas money/for the environment”? You shouldn’t have to, of course.

      1. Soup 4 Days*

        Those are actually our three reasons for being a single car household! And I’m far from the only cyclist at this office. I try to reframe it in my head as one of the social scripts people default to but my success varies.

        1. Hen in a Windstorm*

          Yeah, this is what I was going to suggest. People are just trying to make conversation and don’t realize that for you, this is the 3000 billionth time someone has made this remark. It’s like commenting on someone’s height or mentioning you like grapes and then every gift you get for the next 10 years has a grapevine on it.

          Accept the repetition, get a response script ready, don’t think about it anymore. :-)

    3. RandomlyGenerated*

      I also bike year round, and I treat these comments as a verbal autopilot. I don’t think people are trying to engage in conversation to convince me not to bike, they’re just trying to convince themselves that their choice not to bike is a legitimate one. So I do an agreement-type-thing to let them feel better about their life choices and move the conversation along.

      So,

      them: You still biked in this??
      me: Right?? … What can I help you with? /How was your weekend? / I’ve got to prep for a meeting / etc.

    4. EMP*

      Sorry this sucks! I don’t know if “Yep and I’ll keep doing this all winter!” will head it off but if this isn’t a new work place for you and they did it last year and they’re doing it now…sorry.

    5. A Becky*

      Novelty cubicle sign/desk ornament? “Yes, I cycled to work today!”

      Call it a gag gift from your spouse that made you chuckle so you brought it in to soften it a bit.

        1. A Becky*

          In a classic example of staircase wit, I realised an hour after posting that a bike = post gag poster of “not snow nor rain nor dark of night / shall keep me off my trusty bike” (or something along those lines) is definitely how I’d go about it.

    6. miseleigh*

      Print out a sign that says “Yes, I biked today” and hang it on your gear! On days with bad weather, add a second sign under it: “Yes, despite the weather.”

      It could come across as passive-aggressive instead of tongue-in-cheek depending on your office, since your coworkers are probably just trying to make conversation and may not be aware of how annoying it is. But I’d do it anyway.

    7. kicking-k*

      Oh, I have this problem too. “You’re not on the bike today?” Yes, I’m pretty well always on the bike. Yes, in the rain/sleet etc.

      I usually say “it’s really the most practical option for me” and move on. I can’t drive, and if I could, I might still choose to get my exercise this way. I’ve had to accept that although this conversation is mildly annoying for me, they are just making small talk and if it wasn’t that, it would be something else.

    8. Rascal*

      I bike to work almost every day, and I get this sort of comment all the time! I’d try to not let it annoy you- think of it as nice that they care! In addition to being a pretty safe small-talk topic, it’s a novelty to people who only have one choice for commuting. You’re probably best off just saying “yup, I biked in today!” and then immediately following it up with a subject change.

    9. Your Computer Guy*

      A cheerful “yes I did!” And then immediately add a “How are you doing today?” or “That TPS meeting later today is going to be a real bear, huh?” or “Sportsball team going all the way this year, right?” Acknowledgement and quick redirect – people are just looking for something to chat about and a lot of people seem to feel latently awkward with just a direct how are you/what’s new.

      I had a job I used to walk to – it was like 20 mins max, and while it wasn’t a particularly attractive part of town, it was totally fine/safe/had sidewalks. Every single person who worked at that company, at one time or another, would see me, pull their car over to where I was, and ask if I was okay/needed a ride/etc. They were all just floored that I would walk for the exercise.

    10. The teapots are on fire*

      I used to grin and say, “I love it.” That gave me some satisfaction and made the conversation more fun for me.

    11. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

      I’ve had a similar problem, only it was my hats. I routinely wear sun-hats because of my fair skin and red-head heritage, and people would always compliment them. Even when they were kinda ratty, people would always say, “Nice hat!” And I thanked them. And it was baffling. But I finally figured out that what they were really saying was “I see that you are wearing a hat” with a side of “hello, fellow human person”. In other words, it was Standard Greeting, variation 3b. After that, I relaxed about the whole thing.

      I suggest that you lean into “You know me, such a fresh-air fiend!” or something similar. Or possibly do the shocked “How did that bicycle get here?” thing, if you think it’ll get a laugh.

    12. Foley*

      Do you ever…pause. There are a few comments (not biking to work-related) that I get CONSTANTLY. I must have been having a crap day because someone made one of them and I gave them a look. And they said, OMG, you must get that ALL the time. I’m sorry.

      It doesn’t change things. But it was nice for someone to acknowledge I must get the comment eleventy billion times.

    13. SofiaDeo*

      Maybe start asking back, “And how did *you* get to work today?”. Hopefully at least some will see how silly it is to keep commenting on your method of getting to work.

  30. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    I wonder how people figure out whether a job is a decent place to work. I looked at Glassdoor for a place and half the reviews were ‘ this is a racist plantation “. I’m not sure whether that’s reliable l. The job listings are so vague and I want to know something about what I’m getting into before I put an hour into applying.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Don’t forget that during the interview you can get an impression too. Do women, minorities etc seem as present as white men in the company? Are people respectful of eachother? Does the hiring manager meeting you talk kindly to the admin or rudely?

      You can try to sus it out looking at the company webpages, are their team photos that show the makeup of the employees? Look for group shots, the 1-3 people smiling around a table are stock images or carefully posed. Some places have employee email and photo directory online too.

    2. ThatGirl*

      It’s a crapshoot sometimes, but if every Glassdoor review has a common theme (and they’re spread out over time and there are more than like, 5) it’s probably a sign.

      What I do: read Glassdoor reviews with a grain of salt. See how the company talks about themselves, are there any red flag phrases? If I have an interview, ask good questions and see how they reply. Ask a friend for a gut check if needed. And generally try to trust your instincts.

      1. Ali + Nino*

        I agree with this advice. This popped up in an interview I once had with a company that had been bought out by a much bigger firm. GlassDoor reviews were critical of the transition and some culture changes, so I asked about it, and the hiring manager’s response put me at ease. (I didn’t end up getting the job, but it was a good experience nonetheless.) I think I phrased the question along the lines of, “While I was researching your company, I found some criticism about X and Y. Would you say those are indeed issues here? If so, how is the company trying to address them?”

    3. Moonlight*

      I think it depends what places like Glassdoor have to say. For example, if they consistently complain about long hours and low pay and it’s a nonprofit or social service agency, then I am like “well, duh, this is a crappy place to work and, sadly, unsurprising” (based on where I live), or if they say that there aren’t a lot of opportunities to move up in the organization. These are 2 common themes I see and sometimes it makes sense because 100% of people won’t get to move up because most organizations are pyramid shaped with fewer and fewer people in manager, director, VP, etc. levelled roles so I usually consider that likely SOME people are moving up, and that everyone else is understandably resentful that they’re not moving up, I also know that a lot of organizations legitimately suck at investing in their staff (e.g., not funding continuing education) so it makes it harder to move up if you’re not taking courses or whatever on your own. I’m in no way trying to excuse it; I’m just sharing my rationale when I consider whether or not something I see as a criticism. For example, lots of places with criticisms about moving up will also have people praising the opportunities they got, and I would consider it a red flag if people are commenting that they always got outside hires for management roles; I don’t think it’s smart to always promote internally, but I think there should be a good mix of internal promotions and external hires.

      If there are criticisms about things like racism and sexism, and not just “regular” work things (e.g., pay, promotions), I take that as a much bigger warning sign. Was this a rogue manager? If so, why wasn’t it screened out? Was it handled so badly that it tainted the whole organization? Is there a bigger systemic issue at the organization? I would be very wary of an organization with wide spread accusations of racism, sexism or ableism. For example, there is a local organization in my community I won’t work for because they asked me in the interview if there was any reason in the next 2 years that I’d an extended period of time off or that I’d leave work (hint: it was clear to me they were asking if I was pregnant or planning to be!) and I was rather alarmed. It is illegal to discriminate against people for being pregnant in my country, but I DO plan to be pregnant in the next 2 years and I was very concerned about how my chances of promotion, my overall status or job, etc. would be harmed if they had some kind bias big enough to be stupid enough to ask in an interview. I didn’t write it on glassdoor though; so if places have issues with discrimination or bias, not every incident will end up online for review.

      I’m not saying to write this organization off, but I would definitely do more research and, again, see if it was linked to a particular rogue manager, if maybe it’s in some way facetious and pointing to a legitimate work problem where there is also a social issue present (e.g. is it a warehouse where most of the warehouse workers are Black AND it’s a shitty place to work with low pay and long hours?); I guess, how covert versus overt are the problems (I generally assume most orgs have insititutional racism and sexism and ableism present, and some try to fix it and others don’t so much, and some have rogue managers who are overtly or covertly discriminatory).

      Sorry for the rant. I am trying to give as much context as possible for how I work through what the red flags might be and my willingness to “suck it up”

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        The rant was very helpful ( as was everyone else’s comments I just can’t think of anything useful besides ” thank you” and ” my job is actually not that bad I just use this as a handle. My health isn’t super good so I’m searching for better work life balance even though I enjoy my job sometimes ‘

    4. Sherm*

      If these posts all literally said “racist plantation,” then that’s odd. I’d wonder if it was the same person posting numerous times, or someone influential who used the phrase repeatedly at the workplace. If posters mentioned racism in different ways, I would find that to be alarming.

      In general, though, going to the interview gives you the Technicolor/surround sound version of the atmosphere. I get that one’s time is precious, so a couple of considerations are: 1) How many other leads to you have? 2) How tolerable is your current crazy job?

  31. Moonlight*

    Is anyone else a trained health or social professional (doctor, nurse, psychologist, social worker chiropractor) who’s doing similar work to their education and prior work pretty soon after their degrees? Like pretty much immediately using a degree in, say, clinical psychology to do DEI work or research or quickly using a degree in medicine to be a researcher, policy administrator etc? Any advice?

    1. Jill*

      I got my degree in medical laboratory science and started a lab job within 2 weeks of graduation. And this was 2009, during the economic downturn. Since then, I was at my second job for over 12 years and now I’m in my 3rd for 8 months. Health care is pretty easy to get a job w the right qualifications right now, but make sure you actually like the work, and realize that many health care jobs are at places that operate 24/7. You likely WILL get stuck with a crappy shift starting out (but you would be v well placed if you like working nights and/or weekends).

    2. Job hunting is hard*

      I’m a pharmacist who’s done 2 post grad residencies because I wanted to do more clinical work in a very specific area of medicine (mental health). So with healthcare, I think internships (if pre-grad) or post-graduate residencies or fellowships are usually the best ways to get your foot in the door or to just get the training one would for niche areas like the ones you mention. Another way is to have an additional degree in such niche areas (like an MPH, MBA or MHA). Another way is folks simply migrate and work their way into these areas over their careers once they start their careers in the more “traditional” jobs in their field. So unfortunately, the “quickest” way is even more formal training but even that’s still not quick. Healthcare needs very specific skillsets, there are licensing issues, so there’s nothing fast about it.

  32. Grace*

    I’m an engineering student interviewing for jobs to start after I graduate. My subset of engineering has jobs pretty much everywhere, but I am specifically mostly looking in the West Coast/Mountain West region because that’s where I have family and professional connections.

    The issue is, I’m trans. Aside from listing specific cities and getting feedback, is there some sort of map/chart/index/list of general political inclinations of places so I can get an idea of whether I could comfortably live there? I know red regions have blue pockets and blue regions have red pockets, so the broad strokes aren’t a guarantee – there’s some regions of California I couldn’t go to, for example.

    Thanks!

    1. Moonlight*

      Do you have any particular companies or communities in mind? I know for myself, I would likely look at things like the DEI efforts of the municipal government and local organizations, see who the local politicians are and what initiatives they’re working on (e.g., in the municipal government), see if there’s any community centres for multiculturalism and/or LGBTQ+ groups. Sorry if that’s not helpful, but I figured having some things to look for is better than nothing.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      There’s a “corporate equality index: list of businesses with transgender inclusive health insurance benefits” from the HRC Foundation. They get that by part of the questions in their main yearly corporate equality index. It’s online.

    3. A Becky*

      If you want to screen orgs, putting pronouns in your CV isn’t a bad bet. It’s common enough not to immediately out you but will get you rejected by bigots.

    4. Hen in a Windstorm*

      I would definitely see what kind of laws the city has on the books before applying to a job. For example, I used to live in Philadelphia. They have an Office of LGBT Affairs, which already tells you they see that representation as important. If you google “city name transgender laws” I think you’ll get the results you’re looking for. But generally, the bigger the city, the more inclusive.

      I currently live in a smaller blue city near a big blue city in another purple state. Our governor is an A-hole and our city council literally wrote him a letter telling him his anti-trans BS wasn’t going to fly here and they were going to flagrantly ignore him.

      Boulder, CO is pretty awesome, btw.

    5. SofiaDeo*

      CNN has midterm election results. For the House, each county per voting district shows in their breakdown, percent as well as total number, as well as indicators of those who aren’t up for re-election as Blue or Red. As well as Senate races.

  33. Moonlight*

    How many jobs did everyone apply to while job hunting? Is applying to over 100 jobs in 3 months normal?

      1. Moonlight*

        What am I supposed to do if I am desperate for a job and need to apply a lot to hopefully get a few takers but this is way too many? I’m at a loss. My resume and cover letter are done the “correct” way, so it’s not like I can just… change my resume?

        1. DisneyChannelThis*

          Think of it like darts. Throwing 100 darts at the board at the same time- eh maybe some stick, a lot probably just fall or hit eachother. Vs throwing 1 dart, taking your time to make sure it’s lined up and aimed well – more likely to hit the bullseye. It’s not a numbers game 1 in 70 will hit so throw as many as possible as fast as possible. No it’s a select the right dart at the right target carefully.

          It might be you’re applying to a lot of jobs that aren’t a good fit. You don’t have the right skills they want, or the experience they’re looking for etc. When companies hire, they’re looking for a good fit, they want you to stay working for them for a long while, not just until you find dream job. So they’re looking to see if your wants/needs match up with theirs.

          More customized cover letters! There’s no way with 100 in a 3 month span that you’re putting a lot of research into the companies and details into the cover letters. Example type sentences to add: I am excited to work at (company) because (something related to their values, an experience you had with their product, something about their leadership or innovation). My experience in (specific project X) led to a passion for (specific type of work) and I think that skillset would be useful to the XYZ department. I’m excited about the opportunity to work on (company specific type of project). Vague/Generic cover letters are fine for jobs you’re not sure about or jobs that look acceptable but not the best fit. But tailored cover letters are one of the ways company can tell if you are excited about the role.

          Also in general, rushing applications (the as many darts as possible as fast as I can throw them approach) leads to more errors in the applications. You just can’t be as thorough. Also harder to track and follow up on them.

          One final thought – you should be reducing the time spent on applications and spending some of that time networking instead. Former classmates – do they know anyone hiring, do their parents know anyone hiring. Tell literally everyone in your life your job hunting. “How’s it going Moonlight?” “Eh I’m alright but filling out job applications is getting tiring, know anyone looking for a (job title)?” Tell your dentist. Tell your neighbors. You might have a lot more luck in that direction. (I literally was complaining about running a dataset to a friend and she stopped and goes can i give my mom your email? She was complaining about not having anyone in her department that can do that type of work).

        2. PollyQ*

          It’s extra work, but you can, and probably should, tweak your resume depending on what job you’re applying for. Not in the sense of a full rewrite or reformat, but just add or remove bullet points, depending on what experiences you’ve had that may be more relevant to the current job.

        3. Water Snake*

          Well, I’m an engineer, and I have applied to over 200 jobs (at a much slower rate than you did) during my job search. There is no such thing as too many. The number you apply to until you get a job is the correct number, whether it is 5 or 500.

          It’s always worth getting some additional opinions on your resume and cover letter, though.

    1. MissGirl*

      Between recruiters I met with and resumes I sent out, I did sixty in six weeks. I’m probably on the high side. For resumes I sent out, I averaged an interview request for about one in five applications.

    2. MissGirl*

      Maybe the better question is the quality of the applications. Are you applying to everything under the sun or are you truly looking for positions where you’re a decent match? Are you customizing your application materials? Are you getting interview requests? Normal is a relative term.

      1. Moonlight*

        I customize my applications.
        I apply things that I am a decent match for; it just so happens I am a decent fit for a lot of things due to the nature of my education and work experience.
        I am not getting a lot of interviews and THAT is where I am getting stuck. I don’t know if I am just overestimating my skills, which is unlikely, or if I am downplaying my skills more than I realize, which is more likely, if things just take longer than I realize, if my cover letter sucks despite my “following the rules” of cover letter writing, etc.; everyone thinks my shit looks ok though.

        1. MissGirl*

          You keep mentioning the rules and doing things the correct way. I’m wondering if you’ve inadvertently locked yourself into something that’s not working. Without seeing your materials, it’s hard to say for sure if that’s the problem. When I got my MBA, the career counselors kept telling me how my resume had to be in the Harvard format and had to look just-so. After a few months of sending it out and hating it, I created my own resume template and got a better response.

          If applying for a wide variety of things, I would make sure the cover letter shows how your experience applies. For instance, I’m changing industries so I spend time in my cover letter talking about all the different types of data I’ve worked on in my industry. I focus on how that has made me agile and capable of working in multiple types of data.

          How’s your LinkedIn? Are you open to jobs there? Most managers go right to your profile. Where you’re sending out so many resumes, it can’t hurt to switch it for a week and see what the response is. I found that most companies reach out within three days for an interview so you can see on the fly if changing helps or hinders.

          1. LadyVet*

            Just want to balance this by saying that I’ve been looking while freelancing, and I’ve had at least a month, if not more, pass between submitting an application and being asked to interview on most occasions this job search.

            But the advice to change up your resume is good; and if you can have a variety of people look at it, even better. Sometimes even getting obviously bad advice can give you a good idea.

        2. Jeebs*

          If you really have skills and background that are that broadly applicable, the issue might be that your resume is too generalized. It may be that hiring managers see too much ‘irrelevant’ vs ‘relevant’ skills/experience just based on how much diverse experience and skills you have listed.

          If you think that might be the case, you may want to make two or three versions of your resume specialized for specific areas you’re applying in. You don’t need to completely remove anything from these resumes, but you’ll put more emphasis on certain things by describing them in more detail or with more specific examples, while reducing less relevant experience and skills to just a few summarizing lines.

        3. Magda*

          There can also be an issue when applying broadly (and I have been there) where you’re applying to a lot of generalist jobs that get the most applications because so many people are well suited to the requirements, so the competition is really fierce. It beneficial to try to pinpoint your best niche where you can demonstrate unique skills that are in demand, if you can. Solidarity, my field isn’t particularly in demand and my job searches always take forever, whereas I hear other people say they only send a few inquiries or network their way into good roles :(

          1. MissGirl*

            This is so true and applying to more niche companies can help too. I would see some jobs with 200 applicants in the first hour and others with 20 applicants in the first week.

    3. Sherm*

      I once had a looong job search where most weeks would go by without my seeing one job that seemed suitable to apply to. I would have been delighted to be able to apply to over 100!

      I don’t see anything excessive about 100, *but* if you don’t have the time to do a solid job on each, it would probably be better to submit fewer applications that are high quality, rather than 100 that have some problems. Also, be careful if you’re applying multiple times to the same company. Even in large, bureaucratic organizations, word can get around that some person applied to a multitude of different jobs. It makes sense to apply to jobs that are similar, but if the jobs have vastly different qualifications (think llama groomer and teapot painter), then it will look like the applicant hasn’t given thought to what is a good match for them but is instead playing the numbers game.

    4. Irish Teacher*

      In teaching in Ireland, that would be fairly normal (but then, in teaching a high proportion of the jobs are advertised between April and August; obviously, maternity leaves and so on appear year-round but…the majority of long-term jobs are clustered at that point). Let’s put it this way; I once had a principal tell me he got nearly 100 jobs for a six week sick-leave position. I assume long-term jobs would get significantly more, so yeah, applying to that many wouldn’t be unusual.

  34. Jessen*

    So this might be a silly question but: is it going to be ok to wear a suit and tie to an interview as a person usually identified as female?

    I generally feel more comfortable dressing and presenting as male, but my documentation is female and most people tend to gender me as female. I’m in IT working on a security credential with a focus on government work – I currently work for a federal government subcontractor. I’m hoping to be hitting the job market soon and I’m worried about looking like I don’t know how to dress appropriately or like I’m trying to make a political statement of some sort in the interview (that last one’s a bit complicated when your existence is ‘political’). I’m not out at work and don’t know if or when I’ll want to make that change.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      This question from last year is slightly different but I think there’s a lot of overlap:

      https://www.askamanager.org/2021/04/im-a-woman-does-my-interview-attire-have-to-be-feminine.html

      The tl:dr is Alison’s advice boils down to “wear what you’re comfortable in.”

      There have also been a few questions in the past about when/whether to come out as trans during the interview process:

      https://www.askamanager.org/2015/09/when-should-i-tell-a-prospective-employer-that-im-transgender-and-in-the-midst-of-transitioning.html

      https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/boss-says-we-cant-share-our-lunches-employee-fell-for-a-scam-and-more.html
      (#4 at the link above ^)

    2. theothermadeline*

      Other than cut of the jacket and leg lines there is pretty little difference between gendered suits. If it concerns you how it will read to others, would you consider wearing your preferred suit and not wearing the tie?

      1. theothermadeline*

        And that’s not me saying that I think people will judge you. But you should be comfortable when you are interviewing, and if you’re worried about perception then you won’t be comfortable.

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      I wear a pant suit all the time when interviewing but no tie (I’m female). No one’s ever commented. I just do a shirt with a collar and buttons under it. (Summer sometimes do a fancier tank top/short sleeve blouse under the suit jacket instead but that’s definitely more girly).

      Do you feel more comfortable in the suit with the tie? I feel like that does read more masculine and ties are a little more unusual on a woman. I don’t think it is a problem (not going to register as a political statement) to wear one, just a little different.

      Tie wearing might be a good litmus test for how comfortable are they with non binary gender too. (I know a friend who dyes his hair pink when interviewing, he wants to work solely at the type of places that are fine with that even tho he often uses his natural haircolor).

    4. Gnome*

      I work as a federal contractor. So long as it’s formal, and not scruffy (two separate things!) My company does not care.

    5. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

      If I was interviewing you I wouldn’t think twice about it.

    6. Your Computer Guy*

      I think suit with no tie would help you walk the line you’re trying to navigate. The tie tips things over into definitely masculine and I feel like it often has the unintended side effect of making people with features that read more “feminine” look younger (which, unfortunately, is not always something you want in an interview).

      I’m a gay, cis woman and I present very butch. I usually opt for a suit (matching jacket/pants) with no tie (I just leave the top shirt button undone) or a vest/sweater vest and slacks. I’ve been very fortunate to live in places where no one hassles me about my identity and I’ve done fine with those combos.

      1. Jessen*

        Thanks for the vest and slacks suggestion, by the way! I was trying to figure out what some good combinations were for when I don’t need to be wearing a full suit. Government work you can go pretty formal but some of the other IT type things it might be too much.

    7. RagingADHD*

      If the clothes actually fit you and “suit” you (so to speak), and are well coordinated with shoes or accessories, you have a heckova lot more leeway. If you look like you’re wearing a costume or something you borrowed out of someone else’s closet that doesn’t fit right, you are more likely to look like you are dressing up as some kind of stunt.

      1. Jessen*

        Good point, yes. I’m definitely going to take myself down to a store and get fitted and depending on pricing I may go for a custom or semi-custom suit. If I’m going to drop a few hundred on a suit I’m going to make sure the thing is tailored properly at least.

    8. SofiaDeo*

      Wear the suit, perhaps with a bolo tie with some sort of interesting clasp/slide. You will technically be wearing a tie, but it won’t read quite so masculine, especially if you don’t get a standard cowboy looking Western US clasp, and get something more “individual”. I have some turquoise ones that have gotten great comments, and even have a small cowboy with red stones as stirrups. There are animal ones, artsy ones, flowers, and Etsy and Amazon have inexpensive options also.

  35. Strawberry Fields*

    I once left 15 minutes earlier than my scheduled leave time. I had enough hours, but my manager reported it to our boss. This was discussed at a meeting and my boss went over it. A few weeks later, a coworker left 45 minutes earlier than his scheduled leave time. I made a remark about it, but my boss brushed it off and said it was fine. It feels unfair- the coworker who also left early is on the same level as I am. His manager has also mentioned the coworker leaving earlier, but another coworker defended him and said, “He has enough hours”. So did I!! I’m the youngest in the office and feel like they come down hard on me, but no one else. (The other people on my same job level are in their 50s and 60s.)

    Any advice?

    1. I edit everything*

      If the others have been there for many years, they might have built capital/trust from the managers. I don’t know how long you’ve been there, but if you’re newer in the job, they probably don’t have that same sense of trust that builds up over time.

    2. theothermadeline*

      First and foremost, try to let it go. Jobs that nitpick on hours are annoying, and coworkers who nitpick on each others’ hours make them worse. I’m not saying that your situation is fair, but overall you won’t get anything by being very upset about it that you won’t get by not being upset about it. There are any number of reasons other than favoritism that your coworker my have more leeway than you such as: trust built up from time worked, they checked in with their boss directly when you weren’t aware of it (and their boss didn’t share, because it’s not really anyone else’s business), they have an arrangement you had never noticed before you were singled out, etc, etc. Your best way forward is to keep building up your trust and relationship with your bosses and say “I’m at my hours, is it fine if I head out today” or if you know something is coming up that week “I’m planning to meet my hours by x time this day so I can duck out a little early – wanted to gut check that with you” or “I know that we had a misunderstanding about this before and I wanted to get clarity on how you’d like me to approach leaving early if I’ve met my hours early.”

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

      Did you have prior approval to leave early, did the coworker? I’m salary exempt and even I don’t just get up and leave without a courtesy, “Hey boss, I’ve got to do X before they close, do you have anything urgent for me, or can I leave a bit early?” Never had them say no, so it’s mostly a social dance. I never raise my eyebrows at a coworker leaving early, because I assume that they have also discussed it with their boss.

      1. Strawberry Fields*

        No one really does this though. We all usually say good night and leave. Some people leave without saying anything.

        1. Hen in a Windstorm*

          But that’s not what we’re talking about. That’s when you are leaving at your normal time.

          You seem to have assumed leaving before your scheduled time would be okay and assumed that everyone would know what you were doing without explicitly saying so. You didn’t let your manager know “Hey, I’ve hit my hours, so I’m going to duck out early. Is that cool?” Your manager reported it. Clearly, then, your manager had a problem with it. The solution to that is not to argue how it “should be”, it is to deal with how it is.

          You should ask your manager about it. Not in an argumentative way, don’t talk about fairness, but because you want to understand. Say it is confusing, and ask them to please help you understand why it wasn’t okay for you, but it was okay for coworker.

            1. Hen in a Windstorm*

              Well, that’s gross. Now you know your boss is a sexist with a double standard. I’m so sorry, because you’re right, that isn’t fair, and it never will be.

              So the only advice I have is to accept that you will have to follow the (unwritten) rules even when no one else does *at this job*, and try to find another job. Grr, I am so angry on your behalf.

            2. WellRed*

              If you are feeling brave, make them spell that out.
              “ they guys are different.”
              “How are the guys different?”
              “….”

    4. Jeebs*

      It sounds like the coworker who left 45 minutes early had the boss’s permission to do so. That would be why boss said it’s fine.

      Generally speaking, if you’re scheduled for certain times, you need to run it by your boss before leaving, even if you’ve worked enough hours. Otherwise it can cause problems if someone’s looking for you and expects you to be there based on your schedule.

        1. WellRed*

          The problem is less that your coworker left early and more that you work for a company that nitpicks your time and then addressed it with you poorly.

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

          I think focusing in on your coworker’s schedule really won’t help you in this situation if you do want to talk to your manager or boss. If they give some leeway to employees that have seniority and a proven work history, you’ll just need to put in the same years to enjoy the same benefits. Or maybe the boss is less concerned with your “number of hours” and more concerned with work quality and quantity; the senior coworkers could be able to accomplish more in less time, or better quality, because they have more experience at it. I think you should let this go and be more focused metaphorically on your plate and not someone else’s plate; fair doesn’t mean exactly the same.

            1. linger*

              Unless there is some relevant difference in coverage expectations for the positions, it seems clear your workplace is sexist and won’t change. It’s not just the behaviour of your managers, but also the lack of support from coworkers in your case vs. dudebro’s case.

  36. Saraquill*

    Sharing another odd interview story.

    This was for a remote writing job. The more I looked at the website, the less interested I was in the position. An acquaintance called the website a “content mill.” I was curious how things would pan out, so after sending in a writing sample, I had a video interview.

    One of my questions was about their X number of photos per article requirement. Was I to take the pictures myself? No, I was to find them elsewhere.

    Was there a stock image website they recommended? I really don’t want to use other people’s images without permission. They said there was an image repository their writers used.

    Another requirement was imbedding Instagram posts in each article. Were there Instagram channels that gave blanket permission to this website for using their posts? No, just imbed whatever fits my articles and looks good. Feel free to use other people’s words and images without permission, it’s legal(?)

    I did not get the job. I was relieved.

      1. Saraquill*

        I don’t remember the exact name. It was along the lines of “The Dish” or “The Dinner Table.”

    1. Moonlight*

      That sounds super shady. I don’t know about the legality, because you might be able to argue that it doesn’t violate copywrite if the persons Instagram is effectively tagged when embedded, and the info is presumably publicly available etc, but it is definitely incredibly unethical. People should be given an opportunity to consent to how their information is used.

      1. Sadiemaesaderson*

        I had one of these articles pull a picture off my Instagram account without initially crediting me. My mom found it somehow, I left a comment about not getting credit, and somehow the miraculously added my @. It’s a public account, so nothing I could do about it, but it was pretty shitty of them.

  37. Ann Ominous*

    Looking for additions to my toolbox on handling compliments at work about physical appearance.

    I am a woman and work in an organization that manages a lot of volunteers, most of whom are elderly men.

    Recently, I met one of them in person for the first time, and he told me “you’re even prettier than you look on zoom!”

    I’m in the military and we are really clear and strict on not having these kinds of comments made among coworkers or within the command, ever, so this caught me a bit off guard. (I work with this volunteer in my official capacity). I just said ‘thanks’ and went on talking about the work-related thing we were there for. The next day, the same gentleman told another person, in my presence, that I was ‘adorable’ and the other (also elderly male) volunteer agreed. I had no idea what to say about that, and just ignored it and changed the subject.

    They’re all also very effusive about my competence as a problem solver, so it doesn’t feel entirely sexist, but I found myself wondering about different ways I could have handled it.

    My default is to joke but sometimes I have to reel myself in with people I don’t know well; however, many of these folks are retired military so I think there’s room for some directness and honest humor.

    I don’t want to be heavy handed and do want to take their intent and generational background into account (without of course giving them a pass for sexism because that’s not an excuse).

    I thought of things like ‘did you really just call me adorable’ or ‘adorable, that’s more of a term I use for my dog/toddler’ with a raised eyebrow but not a stern expression.

    I don’t want to get into a discussion of my looks with them or put the focus of the conversation on that. I don’t want to make a big deal out of it but I do want to make it clear that this isn’t a topic I want to engage in and here’s a better topic, and would like specific examples of scripts.

    If it was a fellow service member I would be more direct about addressing it but this feels different.

    Thank you!

    1. Valancy Snaith*

      Honestly, in a case like this I would let it go. If it’s not becoming the main point of their interactions with you (which it doesn’t sound like it is), and it’s not something you want to discuss, or become a big deal, I would just let them get it out of their systems and move on. At the very most I’d say something like “I hope I’m more productive than adorable!” in a light tone and move on. It is not worth my time, effort, or energy to change the way elderly volunteers think so I’d just move on.

    2. theothermadeline*

      As someone who has managed a lot of older volunteers in the past, their instinct to be mothering/doting/weirdly complimentary can really undermine authority in the eyes of others and can make work harder. I’d say the next time it happens in a group setting you shouldn’t acknowledge and move on to the purpose of the conversation. Then after the group has dispersed ask the volunteer to hang back, and just talk directly to him. “You’ve commented a few times on my appearance. I know that they are meant as compliments but they are distracting to me, and I think distracting others from the content of our meetings. I would appreciate you not talking about my appearance moving forward, thank you so much for your understanding.”

      1. JessicaTate*

        This is my strategy as well. Not in front of the group, but pulling them aside and saying something directly like this. I haven’t framed it as “distracting”, but more, “It’s important to me as a woman in field X, that people are focusing primarily on my work, and not on my appearance. For myself and for other women who may be around.” But whatever language makes sense for you.

        To that point: It is a form of sexism. They aren’t complementing Joe Soldier on his snappy haircut or tie. It’s not mean-spirited or sexual; and yes, it was the norm from an older time. (And it doesn’t change the advice.) But it is foregrounding a woman’s appearance as a key quality by which our value is being judged. It took me a long time to recognize that, but it was an eye-opener. It also took my (male) partner, who works in the same field, pointing out, “You realize, no one ever says to me the kinds of things they say to you.”

    3. Taller-Tap*

      Hello – fellow female service member here.

      They know military protocol, but they’ve been out of it long enough that they’ve forgotten it and more so with women whom they might not have served with at all ‘back in their day.’ They look at current female military as a wonder, they really do appreciate us and how much integration has occurred (but do not mess with their beloved Marine Corps), but for some reason their minds are still in pre-1960’s.

      Retiree: ‘Wow you’re a great problem solver and adorable, too.’
      You: Thank you. My job in the (branch) is XYZ and problem solving is what I do all day.
      – This reminds them your military, a modern peer, and deserve respect as a professional, not just as a woman.

      If it ever escalates
      1st time: “Your comments are appreciated, but we’re working in a professional manner. I’d like to keep it that way.”

      2nd time: “Your comments make me uncomfortable. I don’t think you’d be ok with someone talking to your daughter that way, at work.”

      3rd time: “This is the 3rd time I’ve had to remind you of how I feel about these statements. They’re getting out of hand.”

      You already know their history, that they probably only served with men, they’re of a different generation and you can’t take them out of that. Their time in the civilian world (if any) were in career fields with no HR and/or no women or so few that they skated by with off-handed passive comments like this. But you can’t ignore their comments because that isn’t respectful to who you are as a professional. Volunteers, regardless of the organization, don’t have the right to harass other volunteers and/or staff. (I’ve been in non-profit for 20 years while in the military).

      I assume there is some type of chain of command to whom you can discuss your concerns. You can say, “I need your help to talk to them when we’re working together.” You can document the conversations and ask for help to maneuver. Ultimately, you’re the paid staff and are in control of the program/project.

      1. IT Manager*

        “Your comments are appreciated but..” is terrific phrasing, I’m going to keep that for my entirely civilian life too. Thanks!

    4. FashionablyEvil*

      I’d go for a cool, “Hmm, thanks,” and then move right along. Basically, make it clear that it’s an odd thing to say without explicitly calling it out.

    5. Educator*

      I never say thanks or suggest that comments like this are appreciated. I am not grateful for unwanted comments on my body or appearance–this kind of thing is not ok. I usually say something like “What a thing to say in a professional context!” or just “Yikes!” with a raised eyebrow. If these volunteers work with the public, you can also try “Oh, we don’t talk about people’s appearances here. It might make other uncomfortable.” in a concerned, coaching tone.

      1. Taller-Tap*

        Please remember this is a unique situation in which veterans are working with military. While we’re not required to adhere to a rank structure we do acknowledge that in the relationships. We wish it flowed both ways but as a military member we have to take that approach and role model it first.

        We can’t go off half cocked and authoritative; we have to know when the disciplined and stern comments need to be employed.

        It’s okay to compliment people. But as a complimentor you have to be prepared to be rebuffed or rebuked. It doesn’t sound like the OP has a chip on their shoulder and/or doesn’t want to sound as if they do.

        1. Educator*

          Sorry, but it is 2022. There are no “unique situations” where unwanted comments about a woman’s physical appearance are ok in a professional context. We can shut it down politely, but we need to shut it down, or this horrible culture of “women are objects to be admired, not peers to be respected” will continue. If the military has a problem with that, that is a problem with the military.

    6. Dainty Lady*

      How about a flat monotone “yes sir, now about the thing.”

      If they persist then remind them that you are active duty and bound by those standards of conduct.

    7. AnonyMouse*

      This has happened to me. What I usually do is give a little laugh or a “huh/hmmm!” and just move on without responding. I think in this circumstance it’s unfortunately not worth addressing.

  38. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I’m getting increasingly frustrated with my new manager. He was a peer who got promoted. It didn’t go well for me from the start, but we’re now several months in and I just don’t know what to say to him. I like my job and I don’t want to leave right now (plus my industry is full of layoffs and hiring freezes).

    Our 1-on-1s, which are supposed to be my time, are dominated by him complaining about how busy he is, then complaining about our new hire. I volunteered to help out with the new hire, but my manager unloaded on me yesterday about things she’s doing wrong. I said, “You should be telling her this, not me” and he got angry. I want to say, “She doesn’t report to me and you are our manager, this is inappropriate.” Too much?

    Every time I bring up a concern or give an update, all I hear about is his workload, his clients, etc. We’re not peers anymore! This is not a venting session! I have no idea how to shut this down without irritating him.

    But the thing that bugs me the most is that he treats us– all professionals in our 30s and 40s– like we’ve never worked in an office before. I got a random message right before a holiday saying, “Don’t forget to set your OOO.” I got another random message with the company holiday calendar (fully accessible on our Intranet), and another telling me he’s going to “dismiss us early” for Thanksgiving. We are exempt, with unlimited PTO, and we all manage our own schedules, so… we kinda don’t need to be “dismissed.” These bits are probably me being BEC with him, but I just don’t know how to respond. Like, “Uh, have you met me? I have never failed to put up an OOO” would not be correct. I really just want to push back and remind him that this ain’t my first rodeo, but maybe I’m being too sensitive.

    I also just feel completely unsupported. He has no interest in my goals or my growth. He does not ask about how things are going with me, but I get to hear all about his life. My last manager was wonderful, super supportive, interested in me as a person, and… I just need some help with how to speak up. Or whether to do so.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Do you think you’re in Bitch Eating Crackers territory here? Like maybe the little reminders wouldn’t bug you as much if not for the bigger issues.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      What would happen if you raised some of your needs in your 1 on 1s? Don’t wait for him to specifically ask, tell. “Bob can we talk today about some of my professional goals, I’m wanting to get more growth in XYZ to aim for jobs like ABC someday maybe. Could we have me start doing more of the EFG task to practice XYZ?” Be assertive.

      Out of Office Reminder – someone probably told him to tell his team. Alternatively he forgot and just remembered last minute and thought maybe everyone could use a reminder. I would try really hard not to take that type of thing personally. A “Thanks!” slack reply takes <5 seconds to that reminder and doesn't burn any goodwill which you might need to use later.

      Him complaining about other coworker – someone will have better phrasing but push back a little "Hey bob let me stop you there, I need to be a peer with Sarah, I feel uncomfortable hearing about your issues with her when she doesn't know, you should address those with her first"

    3. Rick Tq*

      Peer to Manager is RARELY a smooth transition, and if he didn’t have ANY management classes it is likely worse. He is probably well over his head and struggling to coach instead of play.

      Do you have the capital to talk privately to HIS manager about what you are seeing. Management classes may help, but he may not be cut out to be a manager in the first place.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        It’s funny– I had a conversation yesterday with his manager about some other issues, and, “I’m always here if you need to chat” came up more than once. Part of me wonders if he was trying to open that door. I will likely take him up on it… once the steam stops coming out of my ears.

        1. Mockingjay*

          When you do talk to Grandboss, winnow your list to the top 2 or 3 concerns. What outcomes do you want with your ‘new’ manager? Separate the BEC items from the problems which impede your performance and growth.

          – “In our one-on-ones, Bob tends to discuss other employees’ performance instead of reviewing my contributions. I am very uncomfortable with him sharing sensitive information about my peers.”
          – “I am interested in Next Path, but Bob circles around the discussion each time I mention it. I would like to know what efforts and trainings I need to get on Next Path.”
          – “I’d like meetings with Bob to be focused on project progress – we’re coming up on a big milestone and I haven’t gotten substantive feedback or approval on what I/team has produced so far.”

          Identify the problem, mention what resolution might fix the problem, and see what Grandboss does from there. Keep personality out of it as much as possible; removing emotion allows senior management to see what the real problems are. (Petty stuff just sounds like griping from a disappointed candidate.) Let us know what happens.

          1. FashionablyEvil*

            Yes, this. These are the big issues that your grandboss needs to know about. (The small stuff like, “they reminded me to put up an OOO” is not worth mentioning.)

    4. Carpe Manana*

      Wow, wow, wow, this reads like a dark comedy. No, you are not being too sensitive. Little issues may be accumulating, but the big issue is that he’s incompetent. He seems to think that management means only dealing with petty details while being completely oblivious to the big picture.

      Is your organization large enough that someone up the food chain or in a different department could work with you as a mentor? Maybe you could phrase it as these are the areas your want to grow in and would like to work with someone who a more expansive point of view and the relevant experience. This might fill the gap left behind by your last supportive manager, and make it easier to deal with this guy.

    5. Dr. Prepper*

      Yes, as others have said, be proactive in the 1-1’s and don’t let him derail the hour. Are these meetings being used as a basis for promotions, raises and the like? If that’s how the company sees them, it’s time to start the CYA trail.

      Document every meeting, with durations if possible, note the topics discussed and keep the notes on a personal device or email them to your home email.