open thread – November 4-5, 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.

{ 1,049 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I’m doing a round-up of holiday/work questions for Slate … and ideally I’d write it in the next couple of weeks, which is a little before the big annual influx of holiday questions usually comes in. So, I’m rounding up some now.

    If you’ve got a work-related holiday question that you’d like help with, please email it to me at alison@askamanager.org and I will try to get it answered in this column!

  2. Jake*

    I’m transitioning from full- to part-time employment at my company but, for various reasons, I’m no longer interested in staying with them at all, so I’ve begun job-hunting in earnest. I’ve found a perfect position, but there’s a catch: it’s with an organization that partners closely with ours. Not only that, but I’m the contact on my company’s side of the partnership – and I’ve learned that the hiring manager is the contact on their side, so it’s someone I communicate with regularly (maybe a couple of times a month), albeit briefly. This person does not yet know that my role at my company is changing, let alone that I am exploring other opportunities, but the role change is not a secret and they will be informed this month anyway.

    How should I best handle the awkwardness that is certain to arise from this? Should I email her (from my personal email, not the work one where we regularly communicate) before applying to explain that my role is changing and why she might see my application in the pile? Should I just apply in the standard way without any other action or explanation? Should I reconsider applying at all? Any and all advice is hugely appreciated.

    1. cosmicgorilla*

      If you email from your personal account, the HM might not connect it with you, or might dismiss it as an external unsolicited email. I would call. And also offer to establish a different contact, as you applying and being the contact at the same time could be seen as awkward and a conflict of interest.

      1. Jake*

        I can try calling the general office number and asking to be forwarded to the HM/my contact; unfortunately, I don’t have a direct line (we’ve never actually met or spoken by phone or video before, so all our contact has been via email).

        I will definitely be establishing a different contact, which I’ll make sure to let her know. I won’t be the day-to-day anymore after my role change regardless, so that will happen either way.

        1. linger*

          As you’ll need to send that email anyway, you could phrase it as “stepping away from this role”, provide contact details for your successor in the role, and let that suffice. If you had a close working relationship, or had met in person, with the hiring manager, that might require more of a heads-up, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here.

          1. Jake*

            Thanks for this! We do have a working relationship, but I’m not sure I’d call it “close.” I’ll try it with that phrasing and see how it shapes up!

    2. HR Exec Popping In*

      I think sending her an email from your personal email letting her know you are considering a change and are interested in the role would be appropriate. You should also ask for her discretion regarding your application as you wouldn’t want her to mention it to anyone at your company.

      1. Jake*

        Thank you! And thank you for the reminder about discretion. I will make sure she knows the role change will take place regardless and that I’d appreciate her discretion while the specifics are not nailed down.

    3. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Go for it. It’s not awkward at all! It’s a chance for her to hire someone she’s got a track record with. No need to get into the whole role changing thing at Old Job, just talk about your fit for New Job.

      Apply for the position, and send her a little networking kind of email from your personal email saying “Sally, I’ve been in a search for a part time position so that I can step down from FT, and was excited to see a good fit at your company. I’ve enjoyed working with you in my current role, and would really appreciate a chance to talk more about this position. My application is in your system if you want to take a look. Thanks!”

      1. Jake*

        Thank you! I’ll be transitioning regardless, but I can keep the two things separate if that’s better, moving her to another contact via our work channels and expressing my interest in the new role via personal professional channels.

    4. FashionablyEvil*

      Do you talk on the phone with her at all? This definitely sounds like phone call material, in the “I saw your company was hiring for X—it sounded really interesting! I don’t know if you’re aware, but my role over here is shifting and X sounds right over the plate as a next step for me,” and then see what she says. Given how well you know her, I wouldn’t apply cold—I would find it a bit odd if someone I knew did that. She might also need to recuse herself from reviewing your application if there’s some sort of conflict of interest.

      Good luck!

      1. Jake*

        Thank you! We’ve never spoken on the phone (I don’t have a direct line, but can call the office number), which is why my original instinct was an email. In that context, would you still call? Happy to do that if the consensus is it’s the best approach.

        1. Haven’t picked a user name yet*

          I would definitely email rather than call. And I would also separate the role change, especially if it will be formally announced within the month. You do not want to communicate it if there is an official comm plan.

          Also- I work in an industry where people move to clients/vendors etc. it is a normal thing that happens.

          Good luck!

          1. Jake*

            Thanks so much. This is both helpful and reassuring (and I tend toward anxiety over everything workplace-related)!

        2. Voodoo Priestess*

          I agree with the others that you should definitely reach out. I’m in an industry where people change and go to clients/owners/vendors and back. The general rule is hiring managers typically won’t go after candidates so as not to ruin any relationships. However, if the candidate approaches the hiring manager, especially if the candidate is going to be making a change regardless, then it’s fair game.

          I would probably start with an email from your personal account and say that you saw they have an opening, and would they have 5-10 min to talk? On the phone you can express your interest, talk about why you want to make a change, and verbally ask for their discretion. I don’t like cold calls, so if I were the hiring manager, I’d rather get a 2-line email asking for a call first.

          Good luck! I hope it works out for you!

          1. Jake*

            This is great advice, thank you! I don’t like cold calls either and phone conversations are definitely not a strength for me, so thanks for reinforcing the idea of emailing first. And thanks for the well wishes!

    5. Hillary*

      If you have a rapport with her, you could also email her from your work address and ask to schedule a 15 minute call to catch up with each other. It’s a very normal way to network or give updates to professional contacts.

      And, absolutely apply and give her a heads up. You’ll probably be a good candidate, you already know the industry/business and the people. In her shoes I would want to make sure your application was reviewed.

      1. Jake*

        Thanks so much! This gives me more confidence to give it a shot despite the potential awkwardness, so I really appreciate it.

    6. I should really pick a name*

      Contact her, if she’s been happy with your work, it could improve your chances of getting an interview.

      1. Jake*

        Thanks! It would essentially reverse our relationship, so could be interesting. I hope she’s been happy with everything so far!

  3. EJane*

    I’ve been waiting for Friday to ask this question.

    why is it important to be kind in an office environment?

    I realize this is kind of a very basic question, but there has been some crap going down in my workplace that involves a lot of tension between people whom I previously considered mentor figures, who think that the office should be run differently and are not being particularly kind or charitable about it, and management, who is calling them out on creating a toxic environment.
    I’ve been caught in the middle, and with my own baggage and trauma history, I’m working really hard on getting myself back to center and not getting caught up in this crappy behavior disguised as “telling it like it is“ and “not being touchy-feely”.
    (I work in mental health. What the actual f.)

    Part of this for me is understanding the philosophical and functional reasons behind something, and I’m really curious to know everyone’s answers.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Because, in the words of George Costanza, we are living in a society!!

      Longer version: kindness – and general politeness – is part of the social contract. It makes interacting with other people easier and makes them more likely to cooperate with you. People can’t work or operate in vacuums – we need other people to do their part, to help us, etc. Being a decent human being means that all goes more smoothly and easily. Plus, if you foster a toxic or uncomfortable work environment, you’re less likely to keep good workers and the whole thing could fall apart.

      1. HR Exec Popping In*

        This is a great response. The only thing I would add is that work is hard enough without adding a lack of kindness (also known as a lack of empathy). Kindness isn’t about being fake, sweet or not truthful. It is treating people with care and grace while also being honest. When you work with people, you need to be able to count on each other, to trust each other. Without kindness that isn’t possible which means you are not able to work effectively.

        1. Middle Aged Lady*

          This. Mature people can disagree about how a process af work should be done, and can debate the merits of their ideas at meetings and so on. They do so while being kind and polite to others as they go about their day. I am not a religious person but ‘in your anger, do not sin’ comes to mind. You can be angry and say so, without being a rude person.
          Negative energy spreads faster than positive. Work is hard enough without the drama.

      2. Unkempt Flatware*

        Exactly. Because we sign a social contract when we participate in society. This contract allows us the trust we need to go into the world and interact.

      3. As Per Elaine*

        I think the retention part is important, particularly when talking to the sort of people who feel that not-kindness is a perfectly reasonable way to behave in the work environment. If my workplace is actively unpleasant, and I get accused of being “touchy-feely” when I make basic requests of colleagues, I will leave. That’s a loss of institutional knowledge, and hiring/onboarding is expensive.

      4. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

        Yes, what ThatGirl said.
        Also cosigning the importance of distinguishing between being “nice” and being kind, which can overlap but are not the same thing.

        And note that honesty, directness/telling it like it is, and emotional restraint/not being touchy-feely ARE compatible with kindness. One can be kindly honest or cruelly honest (and kindly dishonest or cruelly dishonest), and likewise for any other type of action.

        People just try to hide or excuse their choice to act unkindly by claiming a false dichotomy between kindness and another virtue, like honesty, directness, . If they can spin it so that everyone thinks their choice was just between, for instance, honesty and dishonesty (and “honesty” just happened to be incompatible with kindness), then they don’t have to be responsible for actually choosing the unkind way to be honest.

        Don’t buy that spin.

        1. Despachito*

          I love this response, and I am mentally copying the cruel/kind honesty/dishonesty thing.

          And you are 1000 % right, it is total BS to claim you cannot be honest without being cruel.

        2. Middle Aged Lady*

          Oh yeah! Here is one way to state it: Am I a peacekeeper (do anything not to rock the boat) or a peacemaker (engaged in the process, sometimes saying hard truths in a compassionate way.)?
          I trust a boss more who gives me hard feedback in a straightforward way behind closed doors, than one who is sweet to my face but afraid to tell me how I could improve. Growth requires a little discomfort.

      5. Take me to Italy, Tucci*

        “We are living in a society!!” is going on a sign over my desk. (Great answer overall, too.)

        1. SimonTheGreyWarden*

          It is what we tell my son as we teach him things like kindness and honesty and the importance of working hard.

    2. Hound Dog*

      Social glue that keeps interactions smooth, if nothing else.

      Sure, Alison has plenty of examples where being “kind” too long causes a bigger problem, but that’s usually because the person asking didn’t recognize when they needed to switch gears. Starting off kind allows people grace and dignity, and having to drop that for bluntness signals that This Is Important – which itself can be a kindness, depending.

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        I would argue that what you’re referring to here has more to do with the difference between kind and nice. People who want to be *nice* will sometimes let problem behavior go on for too long. People who want to be *kind* will address the behavior.

        An example from my past: One of my coworkers would complain incessantly that the job wasn’t what he wanted it to be. He would even do this in front of high level administrators when they visited our office. My manager never brought it up with him because she said it would feel “mean” to criticize him. But I decided that it would be even meaner to let him keep ruining his reputation in front of leadership and keep him from finding a different position in the organization that would fit better. So instead of being nice, I was kind, and I told him that if he kept complaining about his current job in front of the people who had the power to move him into another one, they might feel less inclined to help him.

        It’s possible to “tell it like it is” without being a blunt jerk. You can give people the information they need without using hurtful or accusatory words/tone. I know there are some people who will be hurt by negative feedback no matter how kindly it’s delivered, but most people will still appreciate knowing their boss/coworker put in the effort to tell them something they needed to know in order to succeed in a way that was not designed to be offensive.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      There’s a difference between being nice and being kind. Niceness isn’t important, but kindness is. And the crappy behavior disguised as “telling it like it is” can often be not just “not nice”; it can be extremely unkind.

      I would flip it the other way—why is it improtant to be cruel? Why not just be kind?

      1. Loulou*

        Tbh, I know some people LOVE this nice vs. kind distinction but I’m not at all sure it belongs in the workplace. Niceness, in the sense of being pleasant and polite and taking time to include pleasantries/softening language in communications when called for, actually is important in many, many workplaces.

        1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

          I think there are times when being nice and being kind are the same thing. And there are other times where being nice is being UNkind (e.g. not giving someone negative feedback when they need it to do their job; not telling someone that they aren’t going to be promoted unless they can improve X skill).

          1. Librarian of SHIELD*

            Right. In the Venn Diagram of nice and kind, there’s a good bit of overlap. But there are ways that one is different than the other. And in a workplace, there are situations where being nice rather than kind is appropriate. Sometimes kindness requires a lot more work and emotional investment than you need to give for what workplace relationships are.

    4. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I’m not sure ‘kind’ is the right word. I think it’s important to be ‘civil’ and ‘professional’ and ‘respectful’.

      It sounds like these people are being very blunt about how they think the office should be run, and blunt is often the opposite of kind. But blunt can be professional.

      EG:
      “Jane, your decision last month to change the billing cycle means we’re $9000 short on cash from where we normally are, and payroll is due tomorrow. Several of us told you that was a bad idea, and now we have to tap into our line of credit, and that means profit sharing is going to be cut.”

      That’s certainly blunt, but it’s professional and civil. Nobody called anybody else a name, they just pointed out the consequences of a bad decision. Whether it’s kind or not is, to me, irrelevant.

      1. Scott*

        I think it is all in how that message is delivered. Your scenario is certainly factual and to the point, but it is not, in an of itself, unkind. I think it would be the rest of the conversation that would determine whether it was kind or not. It sounds like an admonishment but what is Jane supposed to do going forward? That part of the discussion is where being kind comes in.

    5. RagingADHD*

      I think it’s important to be kind everywhere, all the time.

      Obviously we are all human and fail to uphold that pretty frequently. But that continual failure only makes it more necessary to be as kind as we can, as much as we can.

      Your coworkers are human beings who need kindness. You are a human being who is healthier and happier being kind.

    6. Dinwar*

      An important thing to remember is that civility doesn’t mean being a pushover. It was entirely possible 200 years ago to stab a man through the chest or shoot him in the face politely. (Duels among women also occurred, but tended to be a bit more…hostile. I draw no conclusions about that here.) In a modern office there are polite ways to tell someone where they can shove their opinions as well, or to go away and let me get back to work, or the like. Civility is about treating the other person with respect–often whether they deserve it or not–NOT about letting them have their way.

      From a personal standpoint I try to act to create the world I want to live in. I’d rather live in a world where people default to being civil to one another, even when things are tense, so I default to that. I’ve found it incredibly useful, too. I HATE the “holiday season”, because everyone seems to lose their freaking minds, but I’ve found that when I retreat behind a mask of cold, impersonal civility people actually kind of like it. They’re less obnoxious and act less like jerks. And it’s really funny to watch someone continually try to get a rise out of me while I’m in my “marble statue of civility” mode. They get genuinely confused, because I’m violating the script.

      From a philosophical perspective, look up game theory, specifically the Prisoner’s Dilemma. In iterative play betrayals almost inevitably lead to death-spirals where you just constantly backstab each other and get worse outcomes overall. The way out of this–the “almost” in the previous sentence–is to randomly NOT betray the other person. Don’t rat them out. This creates a situation where the other party is less likely to betray you, allowing a way out of those death-spirals. Same thing with interpersonal interactions. If I’m a jerk to you, you’re going to be a jerk back to me. That’s going to set me off, so I’m going to be more of a jerk to you–which makes you angry, so you’re more of a jerk to me. Same death-spiral. But if I do something kind to you, you’re likely to realize how much of a jerk you’ve been being and to back off a bit, allowing us an opportunity to climb out of that death-spiral.

      All that said, sometimes the situation is hopeless and it’s time to cut your losses.

      1. Grey Panther*

        “I try to act to create the world I want to live in. I’d rather live in a world where people default to being civil to one another.”
        Well said, Dinwar. I try to do the same. (And it’s interesting to see the reaction of the person I’m talking to—usually, they visibly unclench, having been prepared for anger and received none.)

    7. FashionablyEvil*

      Because most people spend at least a third of your day at work and who wants to be miserable for that percentage of their life?

      In all seriousness though, kindness enables people to stop worrying about gotchas (or worse) when interacting with colleagues and instead frees them up to do good work, think creatively, and be more productive.

      Do I think we have a moral responsibility to be kind to others? Yes. Is it good for business when we are? Also yes.

      1. Annie Moose*

        Precisely this. It’s a moral issue, obviously, that you should treat people well (which sometimes can include being blunt!), but it’s also a practical business one (people perform more effectively and work together better if they don’t dislike one another) and a practical personal one (it’s more enjoyable to spend your workday having pleasant interactions rather than abrasive ones).

    8. Pookie*

      Because coworkers are customers and should be treated with good customer service. This is something we reiterate often in my organization.

    9. Chauncy Gardener*

      I agree with what everyone has said above and also want to add that I add fairness to the kindness equation as well. So are people being fair? Are they considering that others may have valid points and thoughts? I always say that if there are two people in a situation, there are at least three sides to the story!
      I think as part of keeping an organization of any type (company, family, etc) running well, everyone deserves and needs to feel heard and to feel that their opinions are being taken into consideration. To me, that is fair. Then kind is the manner in which things are communicated: not nasty, snarky or mean, just even keeled and, well, kind.

    10. StressedButOkay*

      Because, in general, it makes everything easier. It’s not touchy feely to want to come into a work environment where people aren’t argumentative and nasty – that’s stressful and demoralizing. When you have a work environment that you look forward to going to (because people are nicer or work better together), you work better and you have a better connection to your colleagues. You also are generally far less a ball of anxiety and stress and burn out.

      Example: I am incredibly, incredibly overworked right now. Had I been in my last job, where it was a toxic work environment where my immediate coworkers were not ‘nice’, my mental exhaustion would be faaaar worse. But I have the support of my colleagues in this job, we’re not toxic and while it’s exhausting it’s not to the point where I want to just – leave. Like my last job.

    11. Irish Teacher*

      I would say the main reason is that even in “an office environment,” people are still human and can still be hurt if somebody is unkind to them. I think it is important to be kind in an office environment for the same reasons it is important to be kind anywhere: because other people matter too.

      I would add that “telling it like it is” is very rarely that. It’s usually a person giving their, generally offensive, opinion, as if it were an unarguable fact and insisting that the only reason other people don’t agree with them is because they are “too PC to admit it openly” when really, it is because…most people don’t think that.

      And even if they ARE “telling it like it is,” there are ways and means of doing that and in addition to what I said above, being rude and unkind is…generally counter-productive. If you are rude and unkind to people, you will often get their backs up or they will entirely miss the purpose of what you are saying because they will simply take it as an insult. For example, as a teacher, if a parent comes in yelling it me that I shouldn’t be teaching a particular novel because it’s unsuitable for young people and I am “pushing religion/atheism/a liberal/conservative agenda/whatever,” the odds are I’ll roll my eyes mentally and ignore their complaints. If they come to me and ask if I could avoid a particular novel because their child is triggered by something in it or finds a particular theme upsetting or something, I am far more likely to change what I have planned to teach. That’s not a great example, but generally, people are more likely to work with you if you appear reasonable.

      And of course, there is also the issue of burning bridges. We all know the stories of the person who went for an interview and was rude to the cleaner/caretaker/receptionist/admin staff, not knowing that the boss was friendly with this person and asked their opinion on the candidates afterwards. Being a jerk, quite frankly, makes people less willing to work with you.

      And it can also disadvantage you in subtler ways. For example, if a colleague of mine needs to leave early one day and asks if I can cover a class for them, well, if I’m free I’ll probably do it regardless, but…if the person is somebody who is always helpful and has previously covered a class for me, I am more likely to make an extra effort even if it puts me out. The colleague who probably does most covering for people once messaged me to ask if I could cover a class for her and I replied that I had a class then, but it was a small resource group, so if she also had a small group, I might be able to combine the classes. If the person asking were somebody who never put themselves out for anybody, then I would just have said, “oh sorry, I have a class at that time.”

      But the main reason, for me, isn’t in order to get something in response but simply because it’s the decent thing to do. Being unkind to people makes the workplace unpleasant for them and they deserve to have a decent place to work too.

    12. The OTHER other*

      Kindness =/= dishonesty, at least it shouldn’t be. What we mean by kindness in the workplace is really basic manners. People who “don’t have time” for this or find it dishonest–well, they mostly mean they want the benefit of RECEIVING it, without any need to return it. When they get the same treatment in return, they generally cannot handle it at all.

    13. IsbenTakesTea*

      Kindness is essentially the investment in the welfare of the living things around you. Investment always requires a sacrifice on your part, whether time, energy, money, or other resources. In most cases, the payoff is exponentially greater than the investment, but the catch is it isn’t necessarily paid out back to you—it’s paid forward, in radiating circles of well-being from the person, thing, or system you’ve invested in. Sometimes it radiates back to you, sometimes it doesn’t.

      But there are cases and situations where the sacrifice is a sunk cost, and those you invest in refuse to accept the kindness, refuse to pay it forward, or—at the worst—take your investment and use it as an opportunity to do further harm. Depending on the circumstances, you can decide whether to have faith that it’s worth it and keep doing what you’re doing, or recede from kindness back to politeness, further back to non-hostility, even further to completely ignoring them, or removing yourself from the circumstances.

      An office environment is a human environment, and human environments require sustained, mutual patterns of kindness to survive and thrive. But if an individual’s own health and well-being isn’t being served by the community, I believe the individual’s responsibility to sustain that community goes way down.

    14. TheraputicSarcasm*

      Nothing is more important than empathy for another human being’s suffering. Not career, not wealth, not intelligence, certainly not status. We have to feel for one another if we are going to survive with dignity.
      Audrey Hepburn

      1. starsaphire*

        Indeed! Also, for consideration:

        Moving parts in rubbing contact require lubrication to avoid excessive wear. Honorifics and formal politeness provide lubrication where people rub together. Often the very young, the untravelled, the naive, the unsophisticated deplore these formalities as “empty,” “meaningless,” or “dishonest,” and scorn to use them. No matter how “pure” their motives, they thereby throw sand into machinery that does not work too well at best.

        ― Robert Heinlein

    15. Educator*

      These are some great answers here. The one piece I would add is that work is a place where people cannot easily escape unkind behavior. If someone is unkind to me in a social situation, I can nope right out of there. But I can’t immediately do that at work without endangering my livelihood. So the bar for being decent to others is higher at work (and in court, on airplanes, in hospitals, etc.) because everyone has to be there. When it is about one issue though, like it might be in your case, you can sometimes make it known that you are neutral and uninterested to avoid a bit of the toxic talk.

    16. Greensboro*

      Because life is kinda hard enough for everyone already, so if you can engage with kindness in your workplace then you should. People’s struggles are different and there is indeed a difference (as many others have said!) between being nice and being kind. For context I’m a ‘tell it like it is’ person working in a touchy-feely industry and it has mellowed me somewhat in terms of my delivery and engagement. I’m in one of those roles where I pretty much only ever have bad news for people, so kindness matters. There are ways and means of being kind that don’t dilute the message or reality of what you’re talking about…and I always think of it in that way. Rather than thinking of being kind as some pointless add-on that is some kind of burden or hardship for me to deal with.

    17. Sherm*

      I’d like to add to the great responses that people are more likely to hide a mistake or problem if they will receive unkind behavior in return. This is especially true if they may be leaving soon. They might figure — “Why should I alert these jerks when before long none of this will matter to me?”

      How effective is the mentors’ approach anyway? It sounds like people are digging in and resisting. Their resistance might not be a coincidence if they are told “Are you dweebs stuck in the 90s? Get with the program!” If the mentors calmly explain their reasoning (“Our competitors have switched to X, which allows them to finish 50% quicker”) then reasonable people will listen.

    18. Quinalla*

      So it’s hard to say from what you posted, but it sounds like people getting caught up in a lot of rhetoric. Sometimes offices have a “nice” problem, where everyone just wants to get along at all times so there is no constructive feedback or dissent which is awful – either people don’t know there is a problem until they are fired suddenly or literally no one is ever fired. Bad processes go unchanged cause no one can bring up how bad they are, etc. And sometimes offices have a “no respect” or even “cruel” problem where no one has any problem given feedback or dissenting, but it’s done in front of a whole group tearing one person down, it’s backstabbing, it’s having zero respect that we are all humans with human needs and foibles. Neither of these is a kindness problem. You can give critical/direct feedback in a kind and respectful way – see 1,000,000 examples of wording from Alison. You also cannot without critical feedback if you want to be kind, it is unkind to not tell your report that their job is on the line because of something lacking in their performance. You can have a passionate debate about something while still being kind and respectful to everyone there by making sure all voices are heard, that everyone really listens to understand, etc. You may understand and still disagree 100%, there is nothing kind or unkind about that :)

      I do like another poster who substituted professionalism and respect, those words may be easier to swallow for people getting caught up in all this rhetoric.

    19. I should really pick a name*

      That depends on your definition of kindness.

      Some people consider it to be never saying anything negative.
      Some people consider it to be being honest, but compassionate.

    20. SofiaDeo*

      I don’t know so much if “kindness” is needed at work, so much as “tact” and “civility” and “being polite”. Kindness IMO implies more of “giving up my own time, doing something to better/help others” whereas in the workplace, it’s more about “getting overall work done, ideally as efficiently and pleasantly as possible.” So if someone is saying “be kind instead of mean/rude” I think what is being wanted is more along the lines of civility/polite/tactful. One can “tell it like it is” and “not being touchy-feely” without being unpleasant or rude. So maybe you can distance yourself emotionally/not get upset, if you can recognize and perhaps call out behavior that is rude/uncivil, without bringing “kindness” into it.

    21. Kes*

      I think it’s important both because it’s the right thing to do – ie you can unnecessarily harm those you work with by not being kind – but also because it’s the more effective thing to do. We’ve seen posts about one awful person dragging down the whole team and their morale, and at the manager level it’s even worse because a bad manager can drive away an entire team. There are whole books about why it’s not worth working with jerks, however brilliant.

      That doesn’t necessarily mean not telling the truth – it can be kind to tell someone they aren’t performing to standard – but “just telling it like it is” is often on the brutal side of brutal honesty. And even when disagreeing, not attacking and trying to see the other person’s viewpoint is much more likely to lead to an effective outcome vs making the other person likely to go on the defensive and attack back. See the book Difficult Conversations for more on this and how people get triggered and can derail and escalate the conversation.

      Being kind helps build trust and good relationships overall. People are more likely to be willing to help people they like and who have treated them well. They’re also more likely to share information which may be helpful to you. As a manager, your people are more likely to be motivated to do well, go above and beyond when needed, and raise concerns as needed. If people don’t think you’ll listen to them, they may just not raise things that you need to know.

      Even in a situation like yours where senior people are arguing with each other, as you see the fallout is broader in the environment it creates and the effects it has in general not only on their relationships with each other but with others as well and the workplace in general. With senior people it’s especially important because they’re effectively the ones setting the standards of culture and behaviour. If the culture they’re creating is negative it will stress the employees out and affect their work and work relationships and happiness and eventually, drive people away.

    22. EJane*

      Thank you so much to every single person who responded. My job is also fulfilling my internship requirement for my grad program, and I met with my supervisor this morning shortly after posting that question, and before reading any of the answers.
      At the end of our time, she told me that it was the first time in several weeks that I seemed like myself again, and said, “Welcome back, EJane”.

      The people who are being agents of chaos in this scenario are hurting, for various reasons, and due to my own challenges, both historical and contextual (long history of it being safer to smile, nod, and play along; being a caregiver in a lot of my personal relationships while finishing grad school and working 60+ hours a week, a supervisor who initially reminded me of an abusive parent figure and triggered SEVERE trauma responses), I didn’t have the bandwidth or emotional energy to fully recognize and address how much of that tension and anger I was taking on and perpetuating.

      All of your wonderful answers are so helpful, and I’ll be revisiting them periodically as I figure out how to formulate my own concise answer.

      And for now, I’m enjoying taking space from these coworkers, and finding relief in my improved relationships with my other colleagues.

    23. Gnome*

      Kindness serves two purposes as I see it. One, it makes the kind person feel good, be able to look themselves in the mirror and know that they are fundamentally kind (or at least try their best to be) -which is important to those who value kindness. Note that this can extend to being kind to oneself by setting appropriate boundaries with needy or difficult people so we don’t snap at them ,etc.

      The other purpose is to smooth interactions. This can range from just not ruffling those who really are relationship-focused (for those who are task/mission/process focused) to causing more spontaneous exchanges of information that come from collegial interactions – which can sometimes be pivotal to take success. It costs very little for basic kindness (saying please, using a neutral to warm tone, etc.) And can have significant payoff. To that extent, kindness when someone is struggling or has a personal issue is important because… Next time it might be you! Folks who never pitch in or grouse about it often find themselves without any volunteers to help when it’s their turn.

      My two cents :)

    24. Despachito*

      I think you sort of answered your question yourself in your initial post.

      You said that people at your workplace are not kind (likely due to stress), and that you have been caught in the middle of two fighting camps who are crappy to each other. You described the effect it is having on you, and it is not a good one. I assume you would feel much better if they were kind albeit under stress.

      Perhaps your real question was rather “if everything around me is unkind to me, is it fair to want ME to be kind back?” (Or at least this is what I would be probably asking myself in your situation).

      I have no good answer to this, alas. I think that being kind to someone who is not kind to you can sometimes defuse the person’s arms if they are acting out of stress, but this requires a lot of emotional work and your bandwidth is not infinite. And being mean back can spiral very quickly and is not something one would want for themselves. My reaction would probably be to get out of there ASAP.

    25. Moonlight*

      As someone else who works in mental health and who worked in social services, more generally, prior to going to grad school, I just want to validate the contradiction you’re seeing here with the dysfunction, toxicity, and the “I don’t want to be touchy feely/just telling like it is” mentality, contrasted against the fact that you’d think that people in social services, and especially in mental health in specific, would be more self aware, more interested in wanting to have a toxic workplace, and that it’s bizarre to be that dysfunctional while also purporting to want to help others with creating order, communicating better with others, and emotional regulation. I’ve seen this myself where the people doing the work seem to utterly lack self-awareness, and seem to also lack the ability to communicate and regulate their emotions, etc. It’s super tough to reconcile.

      I also think that it adds an additional layer of context as to how to deal with this situation because I know you’re dealing with a potentially different presumed knowledge set compared to, idk, a team of accountants or engineers; I am in no way knocking accountants and engineers, just acknowledging the different knowledge set, because things like emotional intelligence and self-awareness are not things I would consider a basic criteria to be effective at either job path.

      First of all, I don’t think this is your job to solve, even if you’re in the middle of it. However, I also want to honour that it just might not be possible for you to wash your hands of it and just walk away. Moreover, I respect that it may impact you in other ways to refuse to be involved.
      – It sounds like management is involved in telling these two to cut it out; is there anyone in management or HR you can talk to? I don’t know what that conversation would look like, but I thought I’d put it out there.
      – What is your contact with these managers like? If you work in mental health, I presume you see clients. Is there a significant amount of time where you also have to interact and collaborate with these two? Is it possible to work from home or otherwise find ways to lessen how much time you might be in situations where you end up in the middle of this? Is it possible to directly tell them both that their behaviour is impacting you and that you need X and Y on your end to not let it impact you? Can that be something that comes from management?
      – Are you talking to a therapist about all of this? Trauma is rough; I know this both as a clinician and a person who’s experienced trauma and I know the value of being able to work on a therapist on your reactions, which it sounds like you’re doing.

    26. Diatryma*

      I need citations on this, but:

      Because it is empirically better. We proved it. With science.

      The two things I need citations for: Surgeons who are mean/disrespectful (not the same thing, but I don’t remember if the behavior included both) to their staff have worse surgical outcomes. Their patients suffer. Surgeons who are collaborative and respectful to their staff get better outcomes.

      And, more globally, if you put people or systems in competition, competitive people will beat cooperative people, but teams of cooperative people beat teams of competitive people. Even if your work isn’t a team sport, being a person is.

  4. Katherine*

    Hi there! Hoping you can help me make sense what my manager told me today.

    In July, I started a new job as a Senior Associate. During the offer stage, the hiring manager (Head of Strategy) mentioned that she was leaving. Instead of replacing her, they moved Head of Ops over and he’s meant to look after both sides of business… I’m reporting into him, however it’s turned out to be impossible for him to keep up as I suspected. I also help him out with Ops here and then, despite it not being part of my job.

    Today I asked him what their longer term plan was. He said ‘Well from my discussions with our Director, you were part of the solution. We thought of giving you the fiddly, adminy, excuse the language, but more time wasting projects so I wouldn’t need to worry about them and keep up with higher level tasks’. My stomach dropped.

    In my mind (and it’s how it goes in my industry), I was working towards becoming a Manager in the next year or so. My line manager pushed back when I mentioned this and kept commenting ‘focus on what you’re doing now, and good things will come for good people’. He even said ‘keep your head down, don’t rush things’.

    I’m pretty sure they aren’t one bit interested in my career development. It wouldn’t benefit the department or my line manager as they are certainly in need of a more junior person. There’s no budget to promote me and hire an additional person.

    I appreciate I’m hired to do what’s good for the organisation, but I’m worried that I’ll be given menial tasks for the foreseeable future. I know I’m still newish but I have aced all my performance reviews so far and my line manager knows that I can deliver. They keep dumping me less visible but time wasting tasks. Please don’t think I’m belittling these, but they are way below my experience/expertise.

    Am I thinking too much into what my line manager said today or am I right to treat it as a red flag? Thank you!

    1. Artemesia*

      oh yeah. Have you had a discussion with your manager about your career development and asked him to help you envision what progress would look like? If there is no path and no effort to help you find one, that is your message to seriously explore for yourself what that might look like elsewhere and begin to scan the environment for place where you might develop. Obviously you would want the next position to be a solid one with growth where you could stay awhile if you jumped so soon after starting this one, so you take your time. But don’t let the newness of this job stop you.

      1. Katherine*

        When I mentioned my aspirations, I received ‘focus on what you’re doing now, and good things will come for good people’ and ‘keep your head down, don’t rush things’ as an answer. He is also aware that I was on track of becoming a Manager in April in my previous job, and I decline 2 other job offers in Manager position to accept this job as I thought they were a better company with more growth opportunities…

          1. I'm Done*

            That 1000%. No one ever gets rewarded for doing things no one else wants to do. On the contrary. You do them well, they want to keep you doing them forever.

        1. Huh*

          You are in demand and need to get out. If there is a path toward promotion at this place, it’s going to be a very bumpy path.

        2. Librarian of SHIELD*

          That’s him telling you he’s not going to promote you without actually having to say the words. “Focus on what you’re doing and keep your head down” essentially translates to “don’t try to advance in your career.” He doesn’t plan to help you, so you should probably go back to those other companies you received offers from and find out if they’re still hiring.

        3. Observer*

          He is also aware that I was on track of becoming a Manager in April in my previous job, and I decline 2 other job offers in Manager position to accept this job as I thought they were a better company with more growth opportunities…

          So he’s aware that he can sell you promises.

          Time to press for specifics of what “ good things will come for good people” looks like and the timeline for this. And if you don’t get a good answer start looking for a new job.

    2. Avocato*

      If I’m reading this right, someone’s got to do those small tasks, and there are two options: the manager, who is now responsible for at least part of the work of the departing manager in addition to his own work (plus has been there longer and has both seniority and institutional knowledge), and the junior who has only been there a few months. This is not only a good solution, but the only sane one. What exactly were you hoping for?

      1. Feral Humanist*

        Um, my guess is work appropriate for the job she was hired for? It’s a good solution for the company but not for Katherine, who was hired as a SENIOR associate and is now (in my understanding) doing work far below her pay grade that isn’t going to help her advance — and being dismissed when she brings this up.

        But because it is a good solution for the company, they are not likely to change. Move on.

        1. Katherine*

          Absolutely right Feral Humanist, thanks. I’m hired as a Senior Associate with 7+ years experience in my field. I’m performing Assistant level tasks day in, day out. Last time I was assigned to these type of tasks were back when I first started working just after University and worked so hard to get where I am. I feel like I’m being held back. Could be best for the company, but I also need to care about my OWN career development.

          1. Temperance*

            I would start looking, so long as you don’t have a track record of job-hopping. The role wasn’t what you expected and you were more or less demoted and your job is now a support role.

            1. No Longer Looking*

              Regardless of the track record, most interviewers will accept “Job not as advertised” as a reason for a short stay.

    3. Sunflower*

      Are these tasks he is referring to part of your job description and what you thought you’d be doing when you accepted? Or is a situation where you are not doing the job you were promised because you are being saddled with this?

      1. Avocato*

        +1

        I’m surprised at all the people crying “red flag.” You haven’t even been there five full months and your manager has his hands full dealing with major changes above him that directly impact his work.

        It’s not malicious to assign lower level work to the lower level employee. It’s also not necessarily a red flag that your desire to do higher level work isn’t a priority for the manager, especially since you’re so new that you might not have yet proven your skills at your current level.

        1. Dinwar*

          That’s my reading as well. I’m doing exactly this to new employees–I’m passing along fiddly little tasks that NEED done, but which I don’t have time for. The thing is, as I get more and more involved in higher-level stuff, more and more tasks become “fiddly little tasks”. To ME, collecting samples and shipping them off and conducting daily safety meetings are fiddly little things that get in the way. To THEM, these are new tasks that are vital to the continued operation of our jobsite, and which put them on the path to move up the ladder.

          It’s a conveyor belt sort of thing: As the person above me moves up they pass their former work on to me (and others at my level) and I pass my former work on to my staff.

        2. Emily*

          If the issue were that she weren’t being given tasks above the level where she was hired, sure. But being hired at one level and then being given tasks significantly below it – that is a red flag for me. It’s one thing to have to get up to speed at the new employer, and that can take time, but you shouldn’t need to prove that you can indeed do the things you did at your prior job and were hired to do.

          And if the issue is that those tasks just need to get done and there isn’t anyone else to do them, that’s properly a conversation where this is acknowledged and there are timelines discussed. Someone should say “I know this isn’t what you expected to be doing,” and then they can talk about whether it’s the right fit, are there other places in the company she can go, does she want to stay, etc. They shouldn’t just assume she’s cool with doing much more junior work that’s not helpful to her from a career development perspective.

          I’ve had multiple situations where I’m on a team and their needs change so that they no longer need me to do work that’s what I was brought on to do or that is helpful to me from a career development perspective. That’s fine, it happens. But a functional employer will talk about and not act like you’re petty or unreasonable for caring how this affects your career trajectory.

          1. The Real Fran Fine*

            All of this. The manager can also try to find other employees to take some of this work off Katherine as well so it’s not just her constantly being asked to do the grunt work that needs to get done.

        3. The OTHER other*

          “It’s not malicious to assign lower level work to the lower level employee”–No, but it’s disingenuous to hire someone for a senior role and then give them only very junior and entry-level work to do, it’s a bait-and-switch.

          This job is not what the company posted nor what the LW applied for and accepted. Given the info shared by LW (org has no budget for an additional person, her manager is doing the work of two managers, her concerns have been dismissed with vague not-even-promises) I would say change is unlikely. In the comments LW has said her reviews have been excellent and the director knows she is capable, so that’s not an issue.

          It sounds as though this job is wasting LW’s talents and has no path for career advancement, I would start looking elsewhere.

      2. Katherine*

        The latter. Some tasks are definitely within my scope and I’m more than happy to take on these, but they are mostly things dropped on me last minute as my manager didn’t have time to do or didn’t think was as important.

        1. Sunflower*

          I think you’re focused on the wrong thing here. This isn’t about long term plans- you aren’t doing the job you were hired to do. I would approach the boss about that before talking about your long term plans here. However…you’ve now seen how they work here.

          It seems like you took this job because it looked like quicker and better advancement. IME promises on quick advancement almost never pan out. They are used by companies who don’t care about the churn and burn of new employees. It’s used to keep good people working above their levels for a year until they realize they were sold a lie and move on- then they do it to the next person. Also IME- most people are not promoted until at the very least, 2 years into a job but closer to around 3-4. If someone is promising you advancement earlier than that, it’s probably BS.

          I would start applying for Manager roles or see if you can get your old job back.

          1. Avocato*

            Agreed. After reading the replies, I think this is a different issue.

            Question: If these tasks are beneath your level, and the person who left was two levels above you, who did them before? It sounds like rather than replacing the departing manager, maybe the company should consider a lower-level hire or an intern.

            1. Katherine*

              The person left was 1 level above me, would’ve been my line manager. She did this tasks before (In hindsight, perhaps one of the factors contributing to her departure?) Absolutely. They should’ve hired a new Head of Strategy, an Associate and an Assistant or intern/trainee in my opinion. I think they just don’t have budget. I wasn’t made aware of these financial problems before starting.

              1. No Longer Looking*

                So you’re doing tasks normally part of the level 1 above you, but consider those tasks to be things that ought to be done by someone 1 level below you? …someone needs to give some careful consideration to how the work is being defined and apportioned, and you also need to make sure that that someone isn’t you misunderstanding the level of the work just because it comes easily to you. I’m not saying it is or isn’t that, but do give it a moment of thought.

                1. Katherine*

                  It was acknowledged by the person who has left the business, my line manager and the Director that it was too much on her plate and she was on her own doing a whole department’s job. Maybe one of the reasons she left, although she said she was headhunted. Therefore, I think instead of this mess of an arrangement, they should’ve arranged the team as I mentioned above. They also admitted that my position wouldn’t have opened up if she didn’t leave the business. In their mind, they thought they could give me time wasting low impact tasks and allocate higher level tasks to my current line manager so that he also can perform his other duties from Ops side.

        1. Sunflower*

          What part of the OP’s post or comments prior to my comment being posted did she make it clear it’s the latter? While she expressed she felt she was overqualified for the tasks, that doesn’t mean they weren’t the tasks she was hired to do thus asking for clarification. All she stated in her post was she helped with Ops here and there despite it not being part of her job (here and there would indicate to me that it’s infrequent and not enough to impose on her core duties). The person directly above her was even doing these tasks before OP was hired- the question needed to be clarified to give appropriate advice.

    4. irene adler*

      Have you expressed to management what your interests/career goals or objectives are?
      If not, then they are operating without your input and will simply decide what’s best for the company.
      No one has your best interests at heart except for you. And only you can take the steps necessary to further your best interests. At times, it may look like a company is concerned with your best interests- you get promoted or receive training for new skills. But ultimately, these things are for the good of the company.
      If you haven’t approached management and discussed what tasks, promotions, projects, etc., you want, then try that first. If your expressed interests are then ignored, THAT’S when you know to find opportunity elsewhere.

    5. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Yeah, this is going to work out great for them, but not so much for your own goals.

      Do the easy stuff while you’re job seeking for a better spot somewhere else. Mgr doesn’t seem motivated to help you toward anything better in-house.

      1. Katherine*

        That’s what I’m afraid of. I could even live with ‘see what happens’ kind of attitude. But he seems to be opposed to any kind of career development for me. And after my discussion with him this morning, pieces kind of fell together.

        1. Temperance*

          The fact that he says “keep your head down” when asked shows that he doesn’t care and is actively opposed to you growing.

    6. CharlieBrown*

      As they say, more red flags than a May Day parade in Leningrad.

      You do not have a future with this company.

    7. Liane*

      When people – or the company – tell you who they are believe them.

      I suggest looking elsewhere. Yes, it’s only been a short time but the job is changing. While it’s still a buyers’ market for jobs, finding a new one can still take time, especially if you’re making sure you next job is a good fit. And no matter how good the job market, there’s still decision makers sick/vacationing, hiring company politics, etc. to extend the time it takes a company to make an offer or set a start date.

    8. Parenthesis Dude*

      “Today I asked him what their longer term plan was. He said ‘Well from my discussions with our Director, you were part of the solution. We thought of giving you the fiddly, adminy, excuse the language, but more time wasting projects so I wouldn’t need to worry about them and keep up with higher level tasks’. My stomach dropped.”

      It’s possible I’m stupid, but I don’t understand what this means. Are these tasks ones that need to be done by a manager/director, but are really time consuming and considered adminy? Or are these menial tasks that can be done by an admin and someone with significantly less experience? If you’re getting tasks that are for a Junior Associate, then they probably don’t see you as close to being ready for a Manager position.

      The red flag for me is that they told you to keep your head down when you mentioned you want to a manager. That means they don’t think you’re good enough. If they thought you were good enough, they’d tell you that or tell you what they need to see.

      1. Katherine*

        Not at all, you’re not stupid! Apologies I probably could’ve explained better. The tasks are bit of both and I’m having to deal with them all if they’re deemed as ‘time wasting & not as important’ by my manager. Funnily enough, I do know he trusts me. He speaks very highly of me (to others as I’m told by others), and he did confirm he had no doubt I’d make a great manager. But it does not align with business needs I think.

        1. Employee of the Bearimy*

          This sounds like a case where you’re stuck but it’s nobody’s “fault” and the only real solution will be for you to get out. They hired someone with expertise above what their actual needs are, but since 1) you can clearly do the work that needs doing, 2) they can clearly afford to pay a higher-level person to do lower-level work, and 3) they’re preoccupied with turnover at senior management, they have no incentive to change things. I’ve been on the other side of this in the past, where someone who reported to me should rightfully expect to move up, but I had no way to help them advance. If you’re a decent manager, it sucks to be on this side of it, too (I don’t know that your management is really thinking about it that carefully, but it also doesn’t sound like they’re lying to you about what’s going on).

          1. Katherine*

            I love and respect my manager so much. He isn’t being malicious, it’s just the way it is and his hands are also tied up I think.

        2. Parenthesis Dude*

          “Funnily enough, I do know he trusts me. He speaks very highly of me (to others as I’m told by others), and he did confirm he had no doubt I’d make a great manager. ”

          I’ve had a manager like this. She did really trust me, spoke highly of me to others, and thought I would be a good promotion candidate. She definitely could tell where I had my strengths, and they complemented her weaknesses. As it turned out, she also felt that I would be a good promotion candidate in ten years and needed to make my strengths the same as hers.

          Leaving her helped my career significantly. Even though she trusted me.

          1. Anonosaurus*

            This. I worked for years for someone I liked and respected and who trusted and valued me, but who could or would not perceive me as capable of operating at a more senior level. I left to take a director level position at another company and it turns out I can do this just fine but for whatever reason my former boss just got stuck on having a certain perception of my abilities which was positive and supportive but fundamentally quite restricting as well. I outgrew the situation. I’m doing very well in my new position and am still on very good terms with my former boss. I should have left a lot sooner. OP, I think you might be in a similar situation where you are too reliable and trustworthy at middling work for anyone to have the bandwidth or generosity to support you to take a shot at the next level, because they would have to change what they do to make that happen. Don’t get stuck! I think you need to look elsewhere.

    9. Echo*

      This is a 100% classic, typical pattern with women who report to sexist men. Men are given the visible, meaningful tasks and get promoted, and women do the drudge work and the career path is “wait and see”. This is a sexist environment, and you should work on getting out.

      1. T. Boone Pickens*

        Whoa, this is a giant leap to make. No where did OP mention that her boss is sexist. You are grasping at some serious straws here.

        1. Green Beans*

          It’s not a giant leap – this is a known sexist pattern and the boss is hitting just about every beat. Honestly, it was my first thought when I read the top comment, too.

        2. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

          Being sexist doesn’t only look like “women are inferior”. Sometimes it looks like “women are marvellous… for doing the tedious jobs”.

    10. Anonymous Koala*

      They’re telling you pretty clearly that they do not see you growing into a management position anytime soon. Could it happen eventually? Maybe. But in the near future it sounds like you’ll be the one doing the fiddly admin-y tasks. If that’s not what you want, and not what you expected when you took this job, I’d start looking around immediately.
      It’s harder to gauge whether or not it’s reasonable for them to expect you to do those fiddly tasks. “Senior Associate” is not an entry level position in my field, so I’m surprised they want a senior associate doing admin-y stuff at all. But your field might be different. I’d look at what you’re learning from those admin-y tasks and see whether or not the skills you’re accumulating line up with the roles you want to take on in the future.

    11. thelettermegan*

      Is he really phrasing it as the ‘time-wasting’ tasks? If the tasks are a waste of time, why are they still on the to-do list?

      There can be a lot of value ( and reputation building) in taking on such tasks and figuring out to make them automated, delegated, or retired.

      For example, I once discovered one of my tasks was incredibly boring – I went to my manager and told him, in a professional way, that it wasn’t worth our department’s time or energy. Next quarter, I got a raise for discovering and ending an inefficient process.

      I’ve been discovering and ending inefficient processes ever since.

      But if you do get a lot of pushback in the form of “we’ve always done it this way,” or “just take care of VP Bob’s vanity project,” then yes, it’s time to move on from this team.

    12. Felicity Flowers*

      As someone who works in HR here’s my sense on what’s happening. Occasionally we get hiring manager who have roles that are Jr positions/Entry level, that would involve hiring someone and training them from scratch and for whatever reason they get it in their head they do not want to train so they insist on hiring a Sr. level person at a Sr. level pay scale and giving them the work of a Entry level person with some additional responsibilities to justify the title. They do this despite objections from HR/Recruitment because what tends to happen is you hired a person who will be looking to be promoted in a couple of years with nowhere to promote them unless someone else leaves, when you could have hired a Jr. Level person and promoted them to the Sr. level.

      You described the manager was transitioning out during your hiring process so it wouldn’t surprise me if this is what happened, they didn’t think they had the resources to train a Jr person hired a more qualified person and then gave you tasks below your pay grade.

      Additionally I guarantee you what happened when you went to the Ops person is they interpreted you approaching them about growth as an immediate request not a hey what do you need to see from me to grow in this direction in two years. Your line managers response would be appropriate for someone new still learning their current role and asking for a promotion before they’ve fully learned the ropes/ ins and outs of the company. Ultimate you might just need to clarify “Hey I hope I didn’t give you the wrong impression when I asked about growth opportunities, I’m not looking for an immediate promotion I was more speaking in terms of taking on tasks to help with my professional development.”

    13. Voodoo Priestess*

      You already know the answer. These people will never help you grow or advocate for you.

      One of my mentor’s once told me “There is no one more interested in your career than you are.” Which really helped me become more proactive.

      Get whatever you can out of this position, then find some place that actually values you.

    14. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      I would treat it as exactly what it was…a description of what your employer is going to have you do for the foreseeable future. It means the job is different than what you thought, so embrace that, and decide if you want to stay knowing the current situation. It’s unlikely to change, at least for a while, so do you want to stay? Is it an option to take on fiddly work (is that also easier work), and then spend your time and energy on things you really care about? Or do you still want to pursue management, and thus need to find a new job?

      That sounded like a gut punch, and I get why. Is it also possible to reframe it as: well at least my employer is being upfront about not planning to make me a manager? I was previously in a role where I was told that the role would never be a senior-level position. So I eventually moved to a team (in the same company) where I was promoted to the senior-level role I knew I was qualified for.

    15. Janeric*

      I’m in a somewhat similar situation and would really appreciate it if you could update us on how it shakes out.

  5. Llama Event Planner*

    Sorry for such a long mess. Legitimate question, just looking for context because I’ve seen this situation play out several times at my company.

    We have “stable hands” – they do all the day to day operational work, have tons of institutional knowledge – on our stable, llamas, the industry etc. Some of them would like to move up to the professional llama competitor level. Usually, you need some extra training to get to that level. Our company LOVES to brag/advertise how it promotes from within and it’s a place where you can grow your career (“you can start in the mail room and eventually be the CEO”).

    When a professional llama competitor position opens up, stable hands will apply. Everything outwardly from the company is absolutely do that b/c we want to grow from within. You’ve taken the classes we’ve asked. You’ve done our in-house training; you will definitely be interviewed for this and have a serious leg up b/c you already work here. When all is said and done? They hire an outside hire who is either 1) fresh out of Professional llama competitor school or 2) has been showing llamas for at least 5 years already. While this person usually does well for the showing/competitor part of the job, they struggle with the rest. It’s a 50/50 split; they can do about 50% of their job well and struggle with the other 50%. They usually struggle along for a couple years before they start to gain the institutional knowledge.

    Six stable hands in the past 3 years have left the company over this citing “hey, you said you wanted to grow from within and you’d train me up, I’ve done everything you asked and you aren’t coming through on your end”. And yet the powers that be scratch their heads and wonder why they left. Some of those powers that be still hold the belief that you can and should be a stable hand for your entire career, blatantly ignoring the lower pay range for that position. Stable hands at my company start around $35k/yr and the pay bands max out at $60k/yr; the only way up from there is to be promoted or go into management. Compared to Professional llama competitors who start nearer the low 6 figures and only go up from there (without needing to go into management). When I point this out, that someone could hit that upper pay band and what — you expect them to accept barely cost of living raises for the rest of their career? I get met with totally blank stares.

    I started as a stable hand and have moved over to llama event planning but it took me 3 years to convince them that was feasible basically doing my job and half of an event planner job. It’s not something I’d use my time doing again. In their mind the ONLY career path for a stable hand is to move up to Showing llamas. But they never promote any of their stable hands that actually WANT to do that. And then we circle back to – why can’t we find any good stable hands anymore/why do they all leave….???SMH it’s a circular conversation I’ve had so many times with the powers that be, it’s like talking to a brick wall.

    Is there context I am missing here? As a hiring manager if you have someone in the company who has all the institutional knowledge – knows the systems, the people, the industry, but just needs a little of bit training, is it really more advantageous to hire outside the company? Do you take into account the perception issue as well? I mean word has gotten around about my company. People know if they start as a stable hand here they will have to leave to get promoted.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Sounds like they have an inherent bias (against stable hands) problem.

      I assume I’m in a completely different industry but if someone started at my workplace in a sub-professional position, and then got the professional qualifications needed to move up and a position was open, there is as good a chance as any that they’d get it, and they wouldn’t still be treated as a stable hand afterwards.

      1. yetelmen*

        Agreed, sounds like a bias (depending on the industry, could be a classism issue as well). At my org we have a class of operational employees who are unionized, and a class of “professional” employees. I’ve been advised by HR (unofficially) to not hire someone out of the operational group to a professional position. I asked why, and they couldn’t give me a real answer…something like “they don’t fit well” or something realllll shady.

      2. Llama Event Planner*

        Yes, that seems like the logical progression doesn’t it? That is what I would do were I in the position to hire. I think they have a bias that that is what happens regularly because of a few outliers who have done it that way.

        I see a lot of managers get so caught up in fighting fires they can’t see past it. They want to keep all their people where they are so they can fight this fire, they can’t possibly train someone new. And then their people leave – causes them more stress – the cycle continues.

        1. Employee of the Bearimy*

          Early on in my career I had a supervisor who advocated to his boss for me to get a promotion, and the way he did it was by telling his boss, “Listen, I lose [Bearimy] either way, whether to a promotion or to another job. But YOU don’t have to lose her, and I’m trying to look out for the company’s best interests.” That was a really effective argument and I’m forever grateful to him for doing that.

      3. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

        Especially this if your stable hands tend to be predominantly women or more POCs than you see in the higher salary bands or tend to have degrees from state school not Ivys, etc. This is supposed to be “good enough” for them.

    2. Jake*

      This is an issue my company faces as well. We have had numerous people leave either because they weren’t getting promoted (for no reason or a variety of inadequate excuses) or because their promotions were less advantageous than outsiders coming in. As a (sometimes hiring) manager, I see the value in bringing in fresh expertise, but not at the cost of losing trained employees who already have both the necessary skills and experience with the company structure and processes. I don’t have any useful suggestions because I’m facing the same brick wall, but (assuming you have approximately the same power in your position as I do in mine) I’ve had to learn the approach of “well, I tried, can’t make them listen, their loss” just for the sake of my own mental health.

      1. Llama Event Planner*

        Yes, I’m trying to just cut these conversations off anymore for my own sake. It drives you crazy to keep pointing out the same stuff and it not get through.

      2. Alternative Person*

        Yep. Long term pay freeze, worsening conditions, closing middle management posts all contributed to the ongoing exodus of mid-career staff at my job (often with the same or higher credentials as the high ups, at much younger ages), but bring it up to local management and they just do not get it.

        Then Local Management complained about having to bring in an outsider and wait several months for them to arrive when a new high level management position was opened. Well, of course they had to hire from the outside, there were no local middle managers with the experience to take it!

        Local Management does not see the problem at all.

    3. FashionablyEvil*

      If you’re asked about it by the higher ups, I would just say, “I’ve given my feedback here—we say we promote from within but we don’t and people pick up on it and leave.” I would also be straight with any stable hands and tell them what you’ve observed (that your company talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk when it comes to promoting from within.) No point in banging your head against this brick wall.

      1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

        Yeah. And have the statistics to back it up.

        Open positions, outsiders hired, stablehands who resigned. And if you can find them on LinkedIn and see that they are in the professional track elsewhere, even better.

        “Boss, our best stablehands resign and go to work across the street. Why are we training them and letting other companies poach them? Shouldn’t we promote from within, like we keep saying we do?”

      2. Llama Event Planner*

        I am honest with any new Stable hands I’ve trained. I try to get to them to all the better resources for driving their career in this field and let them know they have to drive it! No one is going to just pull them along.

        It just baffles me the disconnect between all the stuff my company does so well and the brick wall our stable hands hit when they’re ready to move up.

    4. Temperance*

      Is the problem that the outside hires have a degree that the stable hands don’t, or is it that the company doesn’t want to lose people in operational/admin roles, so they lie about promoting from within to keep people on the hook?

      1. Llama Event Planner*

        My personal experience is, they don’t want to lose people in the operational/admin roles. For example, when someone has worked as a stable hand, while attending college to get their professional llama competitor certificate, once they get that they usually end up having to leave to get experience elsewhere.

        I have literally watched a person start as stable hand right out of high school, attend college for the certificate while working, and the next position that opened up the company hired a person who did the exact same thing – for one of our competitors and told the stable hand it was b/c they had knowledge they could use about our competition! Then all shock and personal betrayal about how much they invested in this person when they left!

    5. disgruntled*

      Hah, this is also the case in my subfield of academia. If you are not hired as a professor within 3 years of finishing grad school and instead take an adjunct/lecturer position, you will never become a professor. But they don’t scratch their heads; they just never think of the lecturers at all.

    6. Librarian of SHIELD*

      This feels like it’s on some level of willful misunderstanding. It’s not that you haven’t said enough or said it the right way. It’s not what the higher ups want to hear so they’re going to disregard it as not important or correct.

      1. Llama Event Planner*

        I think that is the part that annoys me the most. They love to come to me and ask about how they can deal with the morale issue the stable hands are having and how they can better serve them because I used to be one. They look at me and say see! They can easily move up – what’s the problem? It’s clear to me they don’t care what I really say. They want me to yes and them or carry on about “kids these days” or something similar. Not actual feedback they could use to actually try to solve the problem.

        1. Green Beans*

          I would start saying, “you know my thoughts on this. I don’t have anything new to add,” and then just end the conversation and move on. You don’t need to entertain their thoughts or argue with them or whatever they’re looking for.

          1. asteramella*

            Absolutely. They may not want to hear it, but eventually they have to either believe you or stop asking because they already know what you’re going to say.

  6. Sunflower*

    For people who work mostly remote and moved further from the office once it went that way, how did you go about discussing that with your boss? Additionally, how long should I be in my role/secure enough before approaching this?

    I have been in my job for 6 months. I currently live in NYC and want to move to Philadelphia (between a 90 min to 2.5 hr door to door commute depending on mode of travel) in the next 1-1.5 years. I’m an event planner and while my job doesn’t require me to be in the office on a schedule, I’d estimate needing to be in NYC 1-2 times a month and maybe 5 overnight trips a year (all of which I am OK paying for myself).

    I’m not sure how to go about framing this as while I am technically moving to another city, the commute time…isn’t really that much longer than some local commutes. I also don’t want to seem out of touch and ask too soon. TBH I would love to move sooner but realize I should at least wait til I have an annual review (in April). I understand there are a lot of nuances to consider (what if boss leaves, what if job changes, etc) but I feel comfortable assessing that when the time comes.

    1. Avocato*

      Two questions: would this actually change the amount of time you’re in the office, and is there anyone else at your company currently living in the new state?

      Not sure this is helpful, but I read in a thread on here a while back that companies have to pay different taxes depending on the states their employees work in. Can anyone on here confirm? IANAL, but it might be worth looking into. If that’s true, and the employer does not currently have any employees in the new state, that might put the kabosh on the whole thing. It seems unlikely that they’d want to pay for/deal with state taxes for a whole additional state.

      1. Rose*

        Companies have to set up something (no idea what/what it is called) if they have an employee living in another state. During the pandemic my small company had several people move to different states, which required some legwork on my company’s part. It impacts taxes, health insurance, etc. Some companies are willing to do this (like mine); others are only willing to do it for certain states, if at all. So this is definitely something the LW needs to look into. Because even if the boss is fine with her in/out of the office schedule, it is moot if they do not want to deal with an employee in PA.

          1. rosemaryshrub*

            Another note on this is that if your office is located in NY (or at least NYC) you still have to pay some NY taxes even if you don’t live there. This was an annoying realization.

            1. turquoisecow*

              Yes, you have to pay NYC taxes even if you don’t live there. My husband’s company is based out of NYC and we lived in NJ until recently.

        1. Agile Phalanges*

          Yep, you have to set up to withhold that state’s payroll withholding taxes (if any), and once you do THAT, they often want you to get a business license, collect sales tax, pay excise (business income) tax, etc. etc. etc. It opens a business up to a WHOLE LOT of stuff they wouldn’t otherwise be (assuming they don’t do actual business in that state already). Hence why employers don’t want employees moving states unless they’re already registered and paying other employees there. It sucks. (Source: Have done payroll at multiple companies, have had to register for all these things in new states occasionally.)

      2. Sunflower*

        I go into the office ~1-2 times a week only bc I have a roommate who WFH 100%. I should mention my team is pretty scattered through the US- only 2 of my 10 teammates are in my office and my boss has been West Coast based since she started 6 years ago (she actually moved ~2 yrs ago and is now fully remote). There is no in-person collaboration when I’m in the office.

        We have offices in PA and employees who live there so should be good from a tax perspective.

      3. higheredrefugee*

        Honestly, the taxes are usually the least complicated part (though it is easiest amongst states with tax compacts), it is the labor/wage laws and opening yourself to liability in those state courts that makes things complicated. For example, posting jobs to states or allowing workers to work from Colorado means all posts must have salary info, and California has additional wage and hour laws, as two examples. There are also some specifuc state wage laws on how often and how quickly people must be paid and complications around how wages are garnished for things like child support and back taxes. It can fiddly fast.

        1. DrRat*

          Very true. I am on a remote team with a new manager and recently she told me I needed to plan to use more PTO before the end of the year “because we can only roll 40 hours over.” I told her that the REST of the team can only roll 40 hours over, but because I am in California, I can roll over as much as I want. She had no idea and I had to send her to the internal site that explains. (She talks about the “perks” I get here but somehow ignores when I mention sky-high rent and $6-7 a gallon gas…)

      4. Chauncy Gardener*

        Yup. Came here to ask if your company is registered to do business in PA? You can’t just assume they want to establish NEXUS in PA.

    2. higheredrefugee*

      Much of this will depend on whether your employer is willing to extend their nexus to allow you to work from another jurisdiction. If your primary work location (your home) is another state, they must abide by that state’s labor, wages, and tax laws, and usually opens them up to being able to be sued in that jurisdiction’s local courts and allows federal courts to apply that state’s laws and regulations, depending on the nature of the suit (gross oversimplification, but that’s the gist). Are they already paying others to work from Pennsylvania? That’s your best case scenario, they’re managing the above pieces already and this is being risk managed. If no, but doing business there, is the HR infrastructure large enough/have enough resources to do the additional tracking of the above? Do they want to spend the money to do those extra things? Figuring out how much of a lift needs to be made beyond the logistics of your boss will make proposing such a move will help you determine if/when to open that discussion. Until April gives you some time to do more research about where folks are working from already as well.

      1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        Yep. Lots of people assume that fully remote means you can work from anywhere!! Sure, maybe for a few days. Lots of people at my old company lived in the Bay Area and packed up and moved somewhere cheaper. We got an email from HR that anyone who moved to a different state need to disclose that immediately. I don’t know how it shook out but I’m sure it was quite a mess.

    3. Echo*

      I think this is quite different from asking for something like a raise or asking to work remotely when you don’t currently work remotely, because it doesn’t change anything from your boss’s perspective at all. I think you can start discussing it now and this is the scripting I would use: “For family/personal reasons, I’m considering a move to Philadelphia within the next 1-1.5 years. Ideally sooner, but of course I understand if you’d want to see me through the first review while I’m still local. This wouldn’t change anything about my commute or travel responsibilities—I’d estimate that I need to be in NYC 1-2 times a month, and I can easily plan around the commute. Is there anything I should know about the role that would make you concerned about this?”

      Absolutely DO NOT offer to pay for your own work travel!

      1. Echo*

        Ah, after reading the other comments, that’s a good reminder about business nexus. You might want to talk to HR first and ask if it would be approved by policy before going to your boss.

      2. Sunflower*

        Thank you for your thoughtful reply. My one concern about paying for travel – it’s unclear to me if NYC based employees are paid more for HCOL. I’m not sure if asking for travel to be covered would bump me into being classified as remote and possibly result in a pay cut. All employees do get an $80 monthly travel stipend that I could put towards it but it’s unlikely to cover everything.

    4. Hillary*

      Assuming you’re performing well and getting good feedback, I don’t think your boss will see it as a big deal. You said they already have employees in PA and it’s a train away. A surprising number of people have this commute. I’d float the idea in a 1:1 (ideally face to face) and see how it goes.

      I’m going both ways on who should pay for train tickets & hotels, but given how much you’ll say on your transit fares (if you’re paying for monthly stuff now), it might work out anyway. I would ask if the initial conversation goes well (especially if the overnights can be worked into client contracts) and be ready to negotiate.

    5. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I’d start by looking for an HR policy on remote work. See if there are any requirements regarding which distances/commuting times from home base are ok, and which states are acceptable, and under what circumstances.

      If HR doesn’t have anything written down publicly, then ask them if there are any internal documents or plans.

      Then I’d start doing a really darned good job, and when you get closer to a decision about moving, drop some hints to the boss as appropriate – possibly with some of the thought processes behind how you believe it would work. (e.g., “even if I did move closer to Philly, I have so many friends and connections here in NYC that coming in for a few meetings a month wouldn’t be too bad because I’d be here anyway” or “It would be an Amtrak commute — so much more luxurious than driving in because I could work on my laptop on the way!)

      Employers can change their mind on stuff, but so can you. I’d keep it low level for now, and see where things go in the next year.

    6. turquoisecow*

      The Philly to NYC commute is not that uncommon, especially for remote workers. My husband works in an office in NYC and he has coworkers in Philly who come in periodically and it’s not an issue.

      Since you haven’t been in the role that long it might be worth it to figure out exactly how often you’ll have to go in and exactly what that involves, from the standpoint of timing and transportation (driving vs trains) and how feasible it is, and go into the conversation with your boss with that information in mind. “Yes, if I need to be here at 9:00 to set up for an event, that would involve leaving my house at X:00 and taking the Y:00 train, and if I leave at 9:00 pm after an event I’ll have Y plan for getting home.” They might balk at the idea of you living so far and try to point out logistical issues like travel, so if you research it in advance to head off the questions that might help.

      As a remote worker I was told that if I had to go other work sites my time would be paid but coming to the office would not as it’s just a commute, so verify all that with HR if you’re doing anything off site, like they might be willing to pay you to go from the NYC office to an event in Yonkers, but not from Philly to Yonkers.

    7. Moonlight*

      I don’t know if this is helpful or not BUT I know there are tax implications for this in the US. I don’t know if it’s not always legal to employ someone who’s living in a different state because of taxes, or if it just creates a hassle that not all companies want to work with; I’m not an American, so I just know all I am saying here.

      I guess it also depends on how much you’re willing to potentially live several hours from your job. I know tons of people who live anywhere from 1.5 hours to 20 hours from their jobs and it’s perfectly fine. I am, in fact, one of these people. In doing so, I recognize that, should things change, I may have to accept getting a different local job. I am not overly concerned about it because my work has offices that are all several hours away from one another with people having jobs that serve far reaching communities, and many people who work from home even prior to the pandemic. But yeah, I guess that’s something to be open to.

  7. Американка (Amerikanka)*

    I have a virtual interview later today. I bought a new laptop to avoid the technical issues that arose on my last two interviews with borrowed laptops.

    I sometimes appear scatterbrained in interviews (I get overstimulated with coming up with good answers while keeping my tone of voice and demeaner professional). I am naturally quirky (move my hands a lot, end my sentences with a high tine at the end).

    Hoping I can keep it under control so I can FINALLY get a job offer one day.

    1. cosmicgorilla*

      Deep breaths. Sounds like some of this is stemming from nervousness, and deep breaths will help. Take a breath before you respond.

      Good luck.

    2. rinathin*

      I’m pretty scatterbrained/quirky too, and I got lucky with my current job (fresh out of college) — the people interviewing me gravitate to people who show passion. So yeah, if you can frame your quirkiness as passion, that might help make it a positive. Coming up with good answers while keeping a cool exterior is also somewhat tough, but that might just come down to taking a deep breath and getting lucky. Good luck, you can do this!!!

    3. Call Me Dr. Dork*

      One thing that helps me keep stuff like this under control is remembering that you’re interviewing them, too. That helps me keep my “OMG love me please love me!” tendencies at bay because I’m now thinking about things like “do they have good processes?” and “are they expecting me to be on call on weekends?” Turning the spotlight on the employer takes me out of the spotlight…which is a much happier and competent place for me to be in.

    4. Susan Calvin*

      Fingers crossed for you!

      FWIW, I just accepted an offer today, after a couple weeks for interviewing with several companies and really leaning into all the things you mention, because same, and I believe in “what you see is what you get” as an interview philosophy. My current job ended up being a total flop because my boss (who is a fairly new manager) somehow thought 6 months of existing in his general vicinity would give me a level of professional polish that 6 years of consultancy experience didn’t.

      I know often a bad job is better than no job, but still. Turns out there are also teams out there that *love* to hire excitable weirdos like us, we “just” have to find each other!

    5. RagingADHD*

      Agree with cosmicgorilla that it sounds like nerves. It’s totally normal to get an adrenaline rush in a situation like an interview. The problem is that when that adrenaline has nowhere to go, it leaks out in weird ways. Like stage fright.

      If you can, try burning some of it off immediately before the interview starts- jog in place, do some squats or pushups, shake your hands and feet like you’re doing the hokey pokey.

      If mobility prevents major muscle things like that, try using your voice to make big yawning noises, sing, or even blow motorboat noises.

      One reason actors do this stuff before going on stage is to blow off steam from nerves. It helps.

    6. jef*

      If you can make the part of you that’s visible on camera only your head/neck, you can get away with having a (silent) fidget activity going on to help project a less-scattered version of yourself. As long as it’s not something you have to look down to do, they won’t be able to tell. I have a worry stone that I rub to help me focus. Sometimes I will play with a rubberband or even just a piece of paper. It helps get the nerves out without it being visible (unlike in person interviews where they can see your hands). Good luck on your interview!

    7. Madeleine Matilda*

      One suggestion is to make notes before hand on how you would answer possible interview questions based on what you saw in the job listing and practice how you would connect your accomplishments to the work so if you get overstimulated you can look briefly at your notes before answering. It is also fine to make a few notes about the question you are being asked so you recall it as you are answering it.

    8. Anonymous Koala*

      I am like this in virtual interviews too, and having something to do with my hands under the desk is a massive help – no one can see it, so I look professional from the camera’s point of view. I also wear my comfy pajama pants and a professional top so that I look professional but I’m actually really comfortable and that helps keep the stimming at bay. If you are overstimulated during interviews, is there something you can do out of the camera’s line of sight that helps keep you regulated? Some suggestions:
      Play dough/fidget toys under the desk
      A weighted blanket on your lap/legs
      Taking hand-written notes / doodling
      Fuzzy socks
      Aromatherapy

    9. thelettermegan*

      I’ve found that practicing answers to anticipated questions is really helpful, and also practicing filler phrases such as “Oh, I have so many good answers, let me figure out the best one,” etc.

    10. TheraputicSarcasm*

      I have the same problem. What helps me is taking a breath before I answer, whether I’ve got an answer ready or not. That extra second calms me and lets my mind catch up. To the interviewer, it just seems like I’m giving the question consideration.

    11. Middle of HR*

      I am also an active hand mover – I have my camera set up so the interviewer only really sees from collarbone area of my top up, which helps as I can wave around and wring my hands and tap my knees all off camera in video interviews. I also hold a pen which allows me to fiddle with it and jot notes.

      I also keep my resume up in a side by side window for video interviews, which helps with “forgetting” what I have done in the moment. I rarely actually need to refer to it, but sometimes I’m trying to remember lists of things and a word will jog my memory.

      The voice thing sounds pretty neutral, very few interviewers will think about it much.
      Good luck!

    12. Американка (Amerikanka)*

      Thanks everyone! I really appreciate your tips and support. Interview is in 1.5 hours!

    13. Sparrow*

      I think there’s some really good tips in the comments! I’ve found a lot of them useful myself. For me, THE most important interview prep is practicing answers ahead of time. I don’t write a script, but I might make bullet points in response to common or likely questions, then I make a voice recording of myself answering those questions. Listening back is really helpful in finding weaknesses, and the whole process helps me pre-organize my thoughts so I’m prepared to answer most questions without scrambling, even if they’re framed differently than the specific ones I thought about ahead of time. I also make a short list of major projects, etc. I’ve done that I keep in view during the interview, so if I’m scrambling for a good example, I can glance at that and hopefully it will jar my memory. I also go in with some questions written down, because otherwise I will totally blank when they ask if I have questions.

      And do a test run with the new laptop before the interview! If you’re feeling more confident that the technology will behave, I think that will go a long way toward calming your nerves.

  8. Fork in the Road*

    I commented here a few weeks back when trying to decide between two job offers – one that was for a fast-growing company in my industry (higher pay, probably more hours), or one in a different department in my same company (similar hours, well-respected manager). Both were similar jobs in my field. Thanks to the commenters who provided advice and shared similar situations.
    I ended up picking the internal job and turned down the external one… and then a week later, my company announced layoffs. I’m still set to start my new job in a few days, but the role has shifted quite a bit due to the cuts.

    I appreciate the irony of picking what I thought was the more stable job, turning down the thing that seemed more “risky”, only to have all of that come crashing down a few weeks later. Just wanted to share that update in case anyone else is in a similar situation!

    1. Artemesia*

      years ago my husband left a partnership track legal job to follow me to my new job full of confidence that he would have no trouble catching something. It was a nightmare. It is hard to get hired into a firm when you have a few years experience but are not yet a rainmaker and it was a ‘brother in law’ town and we had no connections at all. After a year he had two job offers — a house counsel that paid well and a state asst AG that paid less. He took the AG job for various reasons and learned that the guy they hired for the house counsel job got laid off 6 weeks later in a re-org. We had thought that was the safer bet given politics of AG offices and the better pay. We were lucky.

    2. No Longer Looking*

      I mean, there’s still a slim chance that you could / could have reached back out to the other company and said “I’ve recently received new information that may impact my decision, and wanted to confirm whether the position we were discussing is still available before moving forward.”

  9. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    I had a visit with the dr today and looked so bad from doing on call work all night ( my actual boss is pretty mad now) that she suggested experimental medical treatments. I might have to be off a half day for 2 days a week and I’m not sure how to tell my boss about that.

    Also how do you find a job with low mental overhead? I have too many special circumstances ( need to eat regularly, get sick easily) to work retail.

    1. Not my normal name*

      I just switched back to a low level admin job at a university for similar reasons – excellent insurance, easy work, and nothing bad happens if I have to drop everything to run to a doctor appointment. It can be tricky to figure out how to apply to a civil service job but once you’re in, it’s often worth the slightly lower pay for the side benefits (pay cut by 1/3, insurance costs cut in half, and deductible is 1/4 of what it was at my “better” job). And I’m still remote 3 days a week.

      1. moql*

        Government jobs can also be like this. Most of admin will be paid hourly but they don’t have the budget for overtime so they don’t have the option of asking you to work late. It was a shock for me when my boss came around the first week at 5 on the dot (kindly) kicking people out. Pay is a lot less but the work life balance is there. Look at usajobs too. You will want to do some research on how to “get in” though, because there’s things about the federal hiring stem that aren’t obvious to someone who doesn’t know.

        1. OyHiOh*

          Non gov job, but the operations person at my job will frequently do the same thing. If we’re not actively engaged in project prep (can be a couple times a month, can be once every few months), he will gently shove us out of the office at 5. It’s lovely.

        2. Librarian of SHIELD*

          Not just usajobs, though. Check your state, county, and city websites and look at the hiring pages. You might have a bit of sticker shock when you look at the actual salaries, but as earlier posters have mentioned, the health insurance savings will balance some of that out.

    2. Xaraja*

      I work in IT and it’s a desk job that’s low stress, but that really depends on the company and the manager. But if you’re technically inclined at all, getting one of the certifications (I think A+? something like that) can be done online without a degree and can often net you a desktop support job which is still dealing with people but depending on the company can be a lot easier and be a stepping stone to better IT jobs (for example, a desktop support guy at the company I work for was promoted to system administrator).

    3. ferrina*

      In general, office jobs will be more relaxed than office/retail. Low level admin can be a good start. Finding a job with a predictable routine can also really help- if a company is talking about a rigorous growth time, well, that might not be where you want to be right now.

      Honestly, the two special circumstance you list won’t be a big deal in most office jobs. Eating regularly- no problem. I eat like a hobbit and I’ve never had an issue in any office. Being sick? Anything that allows remote work will make that so much easier.

      The hardest part can be breaking in to office work. Receptionist, admin or assistant can be a good way to start. Temping can also be a good option, if that’s something you’re able to financially/logisitcally do. Once you have that first experience on your resume it gets easier.
      Good luck!

    4. Anonymous Koala*

      Remote data entry? Or I have a friend who does medical billing from home who likes it – it’s office hours work only and she gets to be 100% remote.

    5. turquoisecow*

      Data entry person here. Depending on the data and the place you work it can be pretty low-stress. Mind-numbing sometimes but no on-call stuff and unless it’s crunch time you can usually stick to a routine and go home on time.

      1. No Longer Looking*

        Reception and Data Entry tend to be jobs that you stall at for YEARS though. No one takes anyone there seriously, and nothing you do particularly stands out as promotion-worthy, with the occasional notably exceptional company. I also found very few of my data entry jobs to be high-stress, but I was running at 14,000ksph (~85 WPM) which was at least double the speed of most of my coworkers, so I certainly never had to try to catch up to the output requirements or anything.

        1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

          Well I actually didn’t get promoted at my job simply because I knew I wouldn’t have the energy for it.

    6. DrRat*

      The insurance industry can’t hire people fast enough, especially for the entry level jobs. Many of the big companies offer paid training even with no experience, work from home, lots of PTO, etc. Many of the big players are very accommodating with flexing schedules, too.

      One of the big Fortune 500 just announced that the minimum pay for anyone in the company will be over $20 an hour.

      It’s not sexy but it’s steady!

    7. Moonlight*

      I’ve worked a lot of admin jobs that were fairly repetitive, I could have even moved around and learned new things and kept doing the same repetitive typed work, had I gotten bored. I know plenty of people who enjoy things like working for FedEx, USPS delivering mail, or people who are tow truck drivers, (basically driving where you’re on you’re own for long stretches – so NOT things like delivering food because that requires a lot more customer contact and rushing orders around), and I know that data entry jobs, research jobs, etc. are other chill jobs for people.

      I know that research, data analysis, policy analysis or other similar roles CAN be stressful for people because it requires a lot of attention to detail, can have high stakes, but I know for me it’s what works because it allows me to deal with stuff that I care about (e.g., social policy, research that helps prevent certain adverse outcomes etc.) without having to deal with the messiness of client facing work or being constantly in the place of subordination; I still have bosses, but I am seen as something of a subject matter expert or someone who does something they can’t or don’t want to do, so I find it tends to lead to less toxic or disrespectful treatment.

      I hope some of these suggestions help.

  10. HIPAA-Potamus*

    Idea- what about a separate thread/post/guest blog from an HR expert on open enrollment season- common terms/questions and answers to know. For example, I never opt in to flex spending; am I an idiot?

    1. ThatGirl*

      Flex spending can be tricky – but if you have a good idea of how much you’ll spend on the things that it covers, it can be a good deal. I personally haven’t had a FSA account in ages, but I have had a high-deductible plan with an HSA at my last job and my current job, and THOSE are much better deals because the funds aren’t use it or lose it. But it’s still a very individual decision.

    2. FashionablyEvil*

      If you have regular, uncovered vision, dental, medical or dependent care costs then YES, you are wasting money. A flex account lets you pay those things with pre-tax dollars so you spend about a third less.

    3. Chauncy Gardener*

      What would you use an FSA for? If you have known amounts of out of pocket medical or dependent care expenses, it can make sense. But if you don’t, most FSAs do not let you roll over unused amounts into the next year, so you actually lose that money.

      Now, if you’re not participating in your company’s 401(k), you should be, whether they match or not. Your contribution reduces your current year’s taxable income and will help pay for your retirement, because it’s tough to live on social security alone

    4. Anonymous Koala*

      I love my FSA! My healthcare is a fixed cost model with no deductible, so it’s easy for me to predict how much I’m going to spend – a primary care appt is $30, specialist is $40, etc. If you get any sort of regular treatment or prescription, like therapy, acupuncture, contact lenses, etc. you can also calculate those costs and add them to your plan and basically pay for them pre-tax.
      The easiest way to figure out if you’d benefit from an FSA is to figure out how much you spent on healthcare last year (look at your EOBs from your insurance) and how much tax you paid on that money. That’s the amount you’d save with an FSA. Also there’s usually some amount that you can roll over to next year’s FSA if you don’t use it one year.

    5. The Ginger Ginger*

      I always opt in to an FSA with at least the amount of my deductible for the year and then what I know I’ll spend on my prescriptions for the year so I pay for those with pre-tax dollars. I do often end up with money at the end I kind of have to push to make sure I spend, but it helps me buy updated glasses, etc come Nov-Dec so it typically works out. The important thing is to make sure you USE the money because you will lose it if you don’t.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        Then why not put the money in an HSA instead? That’s also pre-tax dollars, but you don’t lose it at the end of the year. (There must be some benefit to an FSA, but I sure haven’t seen it yet.)

        1. ThatGirl*

          Not every health insurance plan is eligible for an HSA, it has to be considered high-deductible. (Mine is “only” $2k but it really varies.)

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            random: Am I correct in assuming that, once I switch from a high deductible plan this year to a not-high-deductible plan next year, I can continue to use the funds currently in my HSA, but I cannot add new funds to it, either through my employer or as a deposit from my regular checking account?

            1. ThatGirl*

              Correct. The funds that are in there are yours to keep, but you can only add to it if you have a high deductible plan.

            2. Chauncy Gardener*

              Correct. You have to be enrolled in a high deductible plan as of 12/31 to contribute to your HSA

            3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              Excellent, thank you both! (But I *could* put a bunch of money, up to the cap, in there yet this year for future use if I feel the need? Yes?)

              1. No Longer Looking*

                Make sure they aren’t going to start charging you. My jerk of an HSA started auto-deducting $3.50/month after I left my last job (basically stealing money that was federally mandated to only be spendable on healthcare as far as I can tell).

        2. WellRed*

          At our company that better health plan only has an FSA attached. I’d prefer an HSA but would have worse coverage for my chronic illness.

    6. lost academic*

      Yeah a little bit. But to usefully use an FSA you need to have some data on your spending habits on the items that would be eligible for FSA dollars – some things are no brainers – copays, other medical visit bills, prescriptions. Some other things are eligible. If you’ve tracked your spending or receipts for at least the last year or have a good idea of your costs, you can opt to just put that much money into your FSA and use it next year. That way you are spending your pretax earnings and saving a significant percentage on known and necessary costs. The more you track that data, the more you can maximize the use of it.

    7. As Per Elaine*

      The use-it-or-lose-it is the big part of an FSA — it can save you a lot of money if you have predictable medical/childcare/commute expenses, but you can also just straight-up lose the money you had in it. Personally, I’ve also found them really fiddly in terms of reimbursements for health stuff, and when I had a transit one my deductions for January got messed up one year so my transit pass didn’t go through, and there I was on February 1st with no transit pass.

      Can you reliably predict how much you will spend in the next year on eligible categories? (And will you remember to use the FSA card for those?) Then it might be worth it to you.

      Will it be a big hassle to remember to spend it all before the end of the plan year, and if you have to submit receipts to back up your expenses, will you consider that a hassle? Then maybe you’re leaving money on the table, but that money isn’t worth it to you/isn’t money that you would spend that way.

    8. seahorsesarecute*

      The general rule of an FSA is you’re saving about 25-30% since the money is taken out pre tax and reimbursed to you on your health expenses.

      Yes, you need to know your past pattern of spending so you don’t lose anything. There is a long list of over the counter items that are also covered, so check that list – feminine hygiene items, cold meds and so on – look for what you use to get an estimate of your yearly expenses.

      This year I’m going to be short because our copay for doctor’s visits went way down, so my estimate was off, my spouse and I will be getting new glasses in December to spend the money rather than lose it. Other years, lots of dental work uses up all the FSA money by March and you can’t predict that.

      1. Student*

        That’s a pretty high overestimate of how much most people will save with an FSA. Even if your marginal tax rate is in the 22% bracket, you aren’t saving 22% on your health expenses. Your savings is going to be based on your personal overall tax rate. It’ll vary by family, but 5%-15% is probably more accurate for most people using these.

        That’s still worthwhile for saving money on predictable expenses. However, the lower savings means it’s important not to over-invest and lose money at the end of the year, since the funds usually won’t roll over or will have a very limited roll-over.

        1. Tax prof*

          seahorsesarecute is correct: the amount you save is based on your marginal tax rate, not your overall tax rate. If you reduce your taxable income by putting, say, $1,000 in an FSA, your savings will be equivalent to the amount of taxes you would otherwise have paid on an additional $1,000. That amount is based on your marginal rate — i.e., the rate at which each additional dollar of income is taxed.

          For example, if you’re in the 22% bracket and you put $1,000 in an FSA, your taxable income will go down by $1,000, so you’ll save the $220 you otherwise would have had to pay if that income were taxed.

    9. mreasy*

      I always opt in to FSA, but that’s because I have weekly appointments. If you know your copays for any regular appts, prescriptions, and anything else, you may as well have that come from your FSA. Also a LOT of drugstore stuff like bandaids/etc. apply. You can also sometimes get doctor permission to use it for things like yoga class (if you have a mental health diagnosis, e.g.) or other treatments like massage for other uses.

      1. HoundMom*

        Never let FSA money be forfeited. There are lots of ways to soak up those funds. One of my clients runs her FSA card through before buying groceries just in case she bought OTC meds or bandages. You can use the funds for safety and emergency kits. There is a website called FSAstore.com that has lots of compliant ideas though you may find products less expensively elsewhere.

    10. Gnome*

      It depends. If you are young, single, healthy, and have good dental and no glasses it’s probably wise. If not… Then you are probably leaving money in the table. If it’s just a bit for, say, a dental copay and a couple prescriptions, then you might be just saving yourself paperwork. If you have glasses and, say, see a therapist weekly, then you are probably making a mistake. Most out of pocket medical expenses, including copays and deductibles, can be paid for via FSA. Even some other things like sunscreen and first aid kits are valid. But you only have the year (ish) to spend it.

      If you know you are going to need surgery, orthodontics, or other things, it can be helpful. Just glasses for a family can be helpful. Also, you can withdraw funds BEFORE you deposit them (up to your elected total for the year) so it can happen with cash flow.

    11. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I had an FSA for years, but my my ADHD riddled brain could never remember to submit receipts for reimbursement. (Did I get a receipt? Where did I put it? Oh. I spilled my drink on it. Is it still readable? What’s the portal to submit those again?) It was too many steps and the money I was putting in the account ended up being wasted. I’m sure a lot of people benefit from it, but I’m not one of them.

  11. Anon fired spouse*

    My husband got fired this morning, in the last week of his 6-month probationary period at a new job. It wasn’t 100% unexpected – he was in over his head without a lot of training or support – but he kept asking for feedback and being reassured that he was still learning and doing fine. We’ll be fine, he’ll be fine, it just sucks. It’s been a rough few years for various reasons and it was finally feeling like things were getting back on track, and now this.

    Internet hugs gratefully accepted, and any reassurance or stories you might have of recovering after being fired. Many thanks!

    1. Artemesia*

      Someone close to me accepted a job in a start up that would be primarily paid in stock. Put in a year getting an internet presence established — it was an on-line sales company. One day before his stock vested they fired him. He is today a very successful professional making great money and has had tons of good offers over the years and always been able to make a move when the time was right. Sometimes it sucks. Sometimes it gets better. Tough times. But hang in there.

    2. irene adler*

      My sister had a similar thing happen to her. She quit (without another job lined up) a receptionist job because the people were nuts to work with.

      She then found an admin job with a small, very old company (I cannot recall what they did). From the start it was not easy. No clear-cut job duties (“just do everything we throw at you”), a boss that could not give instructions, all feedback was 100% positive, lots of enigmatic encouragement from co-workers (“you are doing well, just do better!”), and then six months later, she’s fired.

      This left her in a very precarious position financially. As in, “Irene, can you front me rent money please?”

      She quickly signed up at a temp agency. First assignment, they sent her out to a large hospital (admin position). To her delight, she found herself in a job where her unique skills/abilities meshed perfectly. They hired her on. She spent over 20 years working there. Pay was good (union), outstanding benefits, good working conditions, good people to work with, etc.

      1. Johanna Cabal*

        Did your sister find it difficult to get a temp job after being fired? I tried that after mine and while I did get a temp assignment, it was after the background check and I think they found out I was fired and they seemed to sour on me.

        In my case, I floundered a bit after my firing (see the temporary assignment) and wound up taking a position in a totally different field. I wasn’t planning to stick around for long but I actually was pretty good at it and got promoted.

        I really do think most firings are due to a mismatch between the person’s skillsets and the role. There should be some sort of middle classification between layoff and a termination in many cases.

        1. irene adler*

          For whatever reason, my sister did not encounter issues with being fired. Not even with the temp service nor when she was hired by the hospital.

          Yes, I agree, many “firings” are simply skills don’t fit or other innocent reasons (like cultural fit or ran out of funds for the position). Problem occurs when folks hide the firing which causes suspicion-when there shouldn’t be any.

          (note this was over 20 years ago so ‘times have changed’. I like to think for the better. )

    3. ferrina*

      I’m so sorry. This sucks so much, especially when they tell you that you are doing fine- i.e., they are lying to protect their own comfort.

      Silver lining is that your husband’s instincts were right on- he knew something was wrong, he knew what the outcome was likely to be, and he took the right steps to try to mitigate it. Good for him! He knew the business needs and had a strong perspective on how his performance measured up- plenty of people don’t have that skill and perspective!

      This is not on him at all. This company sounds pretty unhealthy. Lack of training/onboarding is them not investing in their own business, and anyone can be scuttled by that. It sucks that he has to start the job search process all over, and I’m not going to tell you that it will be easy. But I know in a year or two you will be in a much better place, and he will be much happier at a healthier company. You can do this!

      Internet hugs!

    4. tessa*

      “…he kept asking for feedback and being reassured that he was still learning and doing fine” and got fired.

      He has dodged a toxic bullet. Big virtual hugs to y’all.

    5. New Mom*

      Hugs. My sister has had a really tough past few years with an extended job search (over two years of no job and constant rejection) that took a pretty severe toll on her mental health and then when she finally got hired at a company it was a disaster. She was hired by a flat management company that’s trying to be Google, so she was interviewed and hired but someone totally different then the people she would work with. The HM liked my sister’s personality and knew she was super green but thought that was fine. Well, my sister started on a severely understaffed and stressed team who needed someone who could hit the ground running. She needed a lot of training and they didn’t have the time. She had a one year contract but it was obvious that it wouldn’t work out by month two or three but she stuck it out. It was really hard especially after the two years of rejections.
      Just saying this to let you know you are not alone but this will pass eventually. I’m sorry you guys are dealing with this.

    6. anon for this*

      Internet hugs.

      I was fired about seven years ago by a sexist jerk who found reasons to get rid of all the women over 25 on the team. These days he’s still sitting in that role; I’m in a more senior role, make more money, and have much more interesting work. It’s a small town, everyone knows what he did to me and a few other people.

      A while ago a recruiter told me if you haven’t been fired you probably haven’t been taking enough chances. 20 years into my career I think they’re right, and I know a lot of people who’ve been fired or semi-involuntarily separated. It sucks in the moment and it takes time to find center again, but things get better.

      1. Also Anon for this*

        Yeah, I’ve had a couple of acrimonious mutual separations. In the most corporate one, it got pretty toxic, and I did the big “See ya, suckers!” quit, but some negotiations followed. A friend heard me mention that I got severance, and said, “I thought you said you quit?” And I replied, “They were really happy that I quit.”

        I honestly don’t remember what it said on my Record of Employment. I was actually out of the workforce for about 5 years afterward due to personal family stuff, and came back to an entry level position in an unrelated sector. Importantly, my completely non-linear “career path” has not hindered our happiness as a family. My spouse is the same. We’re hard-working people, and in spite of a few dry spells we’ve been comfortable overall. Just try to stay strong and reasonably optimistic. He sounds like a heads-up employee… he’ll find a fit somewhere. :)

    7. Random Biter*

      Here’s your “been there done that” hug! For both of you. Even when you suspect it’s coming…even when you’ve been sabotaged, knowingly or not, by the company…even when it doesn’t tear your financial world apart….IT SUCKS HARD. I always just had to remind myself “this too shall pass” and cannonball back into the fray.

      I was lied to about a job by the hiring agency (even though they said it was contract to hire, yeah, no), I was blindsided by a “permanent layoff” at a place after 25 years there, I was displaced when a company relocated…. all the feels, sis. Your hubs ain’t alone and you’ll both get through to the other side. If saying that company can eat a bag o’, then here’s your affirmation.

    8. Elle Woods*

      Sending internet hugs. It sounds like he’s out of what could be a poor workplace. Still, it sucks.

      On his first day back from his honeymoon, my brother was fired from his job. The department he was in didn’t value having a life outside of work nor did it value collaboration between workers. The director was a tyrant would was prone to making mistakes and then refusing to take responsibilities for his actions. During the three years my brother was there, his department had a turnover rate of almost 85%.

      After he was fired, my brother took a temporary contract gig at an old employer while he searched for something permanent. He landed a permanent role a couple of months later at a major financial services institution. Not only was it a bump in responsibility, it was also a bump in pay and benefits. Best of all, he’s working with people who encourage you to have a life outside of work and believe in the power of collaboration.

      I hope your husband finds a better, more supportive job soon. Sending hugs and good wishes.

    9. DrRat*

      I got fired several years ago the day after I got back from an expensive vacation. I was devastated at the time but looking back, in the long run, it was one of the best things that could have happened to me career-wise. The place was unethical, one friend left after telling me that she felt like her job was to lie to people all day, the cliques were based on race or age and God help you if you weren’t in one of the “in” groups, the “manager” had no time or ability to manage and was just assigned to it because he had been there the longest, my stress level was through the roof, I was guilted to death once for not coming in when I had active diarrhea and could not drive in without pooping myself…you get the picture!

      I changed gears and careers and started looking for something stable, long term, with a work-life balance. I’ve been here almost 10 years and while I may take new positions within the company, my hope is to retire from this place. I tell people this may not be my dream job – but it’s certainly my dream company.

      I wish I could give credit for the quote but I read once of a judge who said “When one door closes, another door opens…but the hallways are hell.” You two will get through the hallways!

    10. feline outerwear catalog*

      I was fired for the first time earlier this year. A friend who has a more colorful job history was impressed that I wasn’t fired before I got into my 40’s. That helped put things into perspective a bit.
      I ended up finding a new job sooner than I expected. I was taking training courses after work to transition fields, and planning to leave within a year. I managed to get a job in my new field even though my training wasn’t complete yet.
      Friends who’ve been through similar situations and reconnecting with mentors who believe in me helped, too.
      Best of luck to your spouse!

    11. Anon for this*

      Out of my first four post-college jobs, I was fired from two, left one (during which I told them over and over that I didn’t have the experience to do one of the projects they had me on and begged them to move me to a project on the same team where I would have been less over my head, which they declined to do) while on a PIP, and the other I did well in but it was a contract job and they didn’t have money to extend the contract. This was in the span of five years. No conduct issues – I was simply trying to make it in a type of job that I was fundamentally not a good fit for. I wanted to be the type of person who was good at that type of job. It did lay the foundations for some skills that eventually worked out better for me!

      A decade later, I’m in a mid-level job that I love at a prestigious organization with a manager who regularly calls me brilliant and tells me how glad she is that I’m on the team.

      I worried for a long time that while there were things that I was good, even EXTREMELY good, at, that I’d never find a way to translate them into something I could do as paid work. I did in the end though – and all the oddball meandering, while volunteering on the side in things that I liked, that I did after trying to fit my square self into a round hole, actually gave me a really useful skillset for my current role, and tends to pique people’s curiosity besides.

      I don’t want to say that it will all be okay or that he’s bound to find something soon that’s a great fit. But if nothing else I think my story illustrates that a firing isn’t the end of your professional life and doesn’t mean you won’t ever get a job that’s an excellent fit.

    12. Moonlight*

      I’m so sorry! Even though it was not unexpected because he was struggling, it sounds like they did a real disservice to him by not being honest about his performance and how he needed to improve. Maybe it wouldn’t have made a difference, but it also feels misleading and crappy to maybe let him think he was skating by JUST well enough versus letting him know that his job was in jeopardy.

      I am so sorry. I am glad you two will be ok, but he deserved better. SO MANY INTERNET HUGS!

  12. Meeting without me*

    I am off sick and had asked a colleague to postpone a meeting with an internal team till I was back (I sent the email in the morning at 7AM and the meeting was 930AM). I found out that the colleague proceeded with the meeting and the internal team sent an email indicating their displeasure with an approach she conveyed to them.

    Once I’m back in office….I’ll be in touch with the other internal team and try to smooth it out. But in the interim….how do I approach the colleague that proceeded with a meeting even though I emailed them not too. A note this colleague is in another department with a different Director.

    1. CharlieBrown*

      Two and half hours is pretty short notice for some people to change gears, so I might address that like this:

      “I’m wondering why you went ahead with the meeting when I emailed you to let you know that I would be out sick and asked you to postpone the meeting. Did you not see my email? Is there a better way I should have contacted you in such short notice?”

      1. I-Away 8*

        Exactly. For some of my colleagues, 9:30am is “first thing in the morning.” They probably wouldn’t get the message until literally the last minute.

      2. Vinessa*

        I wouldn’t use this wording. If it turns out that an executive or someone directed the colleague to keep the meeting, it could make the OP look really bad, like they were assuming that the colleague was incompetent or acting with questionable motivation when it actually had nothing to do with them.

    2. ferrina*

      Unfortunately, there may not be much that you can do. It sounds like you and Colleague Who Didn’t Postpone are equals, so you didn’t have official standing to tell them to postpone. Would it have been nice for them to do that? Yes, and often that’s the right call. But we can’t force our colleagues to do what is nice and right.

      I don’t think you have any leverage to scold your colleague. You can be disappointed from a personal perspective, but can’t really tell them they made the wrong decision- that’s not something we can usually decide for our collegaues. You can ask for a recap so you have the full information when sorting out the situation with the other internal team (and honestly, that object lesson in What Can Go Wrong might be the most effective message to Colleague, nothing you need to add to it). If they are more junior, being more neutral and non-judgmental can actually add to your gravitas and reputation (i.e., you are clearly not taking it personally and are focused on work outcomes….which also implies that when you ask to postpone a meeting, it’s not a personal thing, it’s because it will get a certain outcome)

      In the future, email the whole group that you’ll be meeting with instead of one person. That makes it harder for that person to ignore you.

      1. Employee of the Bearimy*

        Yes, I think the actual issue here is that if you had standing to cancel the meeting, you should have done that with an email to the entire team. If you didn’t and it was reasonable to assume from your roles that your colleague could run the meeting in your stead, then there’s work the two of you need to do to get on the same page about your approach to this work. If you’re so far apart in your approaches that now you’ll have to manage the fallout of this meeting, it’s probably a good idea to loop your own director in to help you manage the relationship.

        1. Meeting without me*

          Here’s the thing though….I felt really ill in the morning and didn’t have the mental capacity to send emails to everyone to cancel the meeting….I know it was short notice….but I’m actually sick.

          1. Ann Non*

            So one way to reframe your question would be to ask, “how do I recover from making a mistake while ill – not emailing the whole team to cancel the meeting instead of just one person – and what can I do to keep that from happening again?”
            I agree with commenters who suggest talking to your boss about what to do in cases like this so you are clearer on whether the company thinks the meeting can run without you or not.

          2. ferrina*

            It happens! It’s the worst when trying to cover your own work while you’re sick!(which is why I think managers should do this as much as possible).
            This isn’t a ‘mistake’ per se or something you did wrong, it’s just something that now you know how to troubleshoot next time

    3. Annie Moose*

      Are you certain your colleague saw the email early enough to cancel? If she didn’t see it until shortly before the meeting, she might have felt it was too short of notice/disrespectful of the other invitees to cancel on them. Or she may not have seen it until after, of course. If this could be the case, then I would definitely start from “hey, did you see my email about postponing the meeting? I really wanted to be there” or something like that, instead of something more accusatory.

      But yeah, assuming this colleague is an equal and has roughly equal stake in the purpose of the meeting, I feel this is kind of her problem to solve, not yours? The others could see that you weren’t there, so I doubt you’d get blamed for her approach. Assuming she was on the email where they expressed their displeasure, she already knows they aren’t happy with how she handled it. Seems like the ball is in her court.

    4. Someone Online*

      Ask the colleague how the meeting went and their impression of it. It’s quite possible that they were told by their Director to move forward even if you were not there.

    5. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

      Oooo, I’ve seen this play out a time or two. My guess is that your colleague a) didn’t want to wait, and b) had an approach she wanted to put forward that would be easier to introduce without you in the room. You didn’t make a mistake and she didn’t make a mistake: it’s office politics. And now it will play out. I’m not sure you should bother going to her with “why did you do this” if she indeed took advantage of you being out. I’d suggest talking to the people who were unhappy with the direction proposed, explain that you were out sick but if you’d been in the meeting you would agree with them. Maybe you can get things moving back in the direction you want; maybe not. But I don’t think this was a simple communication issue.

    6. fhqwhgads*

      I wouldn’t have emailed one person to postpone meeting. I would’ve changed the time on the meeting request and sent it to all the recipients so it’d change in their calendars. Or can it with a note why and saying it’d be rescheduled when you’re back, if a new time weren’t pickable at the moment.
      By reaching out to just that one person, you left it up to them to do what you asked or not. If you had ownership of the meeting, you could avoid the situation by moving it yourself, instead of asking them to and hoping they do. If there are more nuanced politics than that, and you couldn’t unilaterally decide to cancel/move it, I probably still would’ve gone with a “tell all participants you’re sick” approach, because then you’re more likely to get the group agreeing with you to postpone and overulling the person who wanted to proceed.

    7. Nancy*

      It is better to send the one email to everyone who will be at the meeting instead of sending it to one person only. It is often a pain to find time that works for everyone, so it is often much better to go ahead and update the one missing person later. Especially at such a short notice.

    8. Observer*

      <I. But in the interim….how do I approach the colleague that proceeded with a meeting even though I emailed them not too. A note this colleague is in another department with a different Director.

      You don’t. 2.5 hours is pretty short notice to move a meeting in the best case. When the meeting is at 9:30 and you’re talking about a 7:30 am email, you might as well call it what it effectively is in reasonable workplaces – half an hour notice at the beginning of the day.

      Considering that you are not even in the same department and are at about the same level, I don’t see that you have any standing to really raise this as an issue.

    9. Dark Macadamia*

      I’d focus on the fact that the meeting ended with the other team expressing displeasure – talk to the colleague about their impression of the meeting and let them know the team is upset, and troubleshoot/plan together if that’s something that makes sense to fix the issue.

    10. RagingADHD*

      You approach the colleague by asking them what happened and their thoughts on why the other team is unhappy.

  13. Stephen!*

    I recently moved to a new state, having finally, finally gotten a job in the field I have been trying to transition into for a few years. Only to find that this particular business is in trouble with it’s certifying board and pending a hearing may be forced to shut down. Holy heck. And having been here for a little over a month… my sympathy is with the certifying board. No news on when the hearing will be and things take time- it could be years. But, in the meantime, I have anxiety about whether I’ll have a job if the process moves more quickly than anticipated and also if I’m learning problematic procedures that will hurt me with jobs in this industry down the road.

    So… I’m applying to jobs again. I know the advice is usually to leave short stints off the resume, but I’ve had trainings here that are usually only open to people currently working in the industry. And it is a small industry- news of the business’s issues have gotten out and I competitor already sent out a letter to all our clients to solicit their business. Is there a good way to say something like, “while I had intended to stay at Struggling Business for the long term and I appreciate the training opportunities i have had so far, I am concerned about their longevity” in a cover letter?

    1. Artemesia*

      I wouldn’t. If it is well known they will know. It can also come up in dialogue, but I would not write something that defensive in a cover letter.

    2. CharlieBrown*

      I think the advice against leaving short stints off your resume is when you have chosen to leave the jobs, because that makes you a job-hopper.

      But having your company shut down by regulators is not your fault. I think it would be fine to leave it on there, with the addition that you had access to some trainings you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. I would mention in your cover letter that you were not aware they were struggling until after you had been there a month, which seems to be the case.

    3. Educator*

      If it is a small industry, everyone will know and it will be fine. I left an organization that was known to be having difficulties for a different reason years ago, and no one even asked me why I wanted to leave my current role. Everyone knew, and everyone understood.

      Leave it on your resume, just focus on why you are a fit for the job in your cover letter, and be ready to say something like “I’ve really enjoyed the training at Struggling Buisness, and it has helped me realize that I want to focus on [skills relevant to the job description] at the company where I build my career long term.” Don’t fall into the trap of badmouthing anyone, even though they are clearly the worst for not disclosing this in their hiring process!

      Sorry this is happening.

    4. *daha**

      It belongs on your resume as your current job and your first job in the industry and as it has high relevance to the jobs you are applying for. I think you can be oblique in your cover letter rather than explicit. “I am seeking to transition to an established firm with stable certification.” They will put two and two together.

    5. Observer*

      Is there a good way to say something like, “while I had intended to stay at Struggling Business for the long term and I appreciate the training opportunities i have had so far, I am concerned about their longevity” in a cover letter

      If word of the issues has gotten out, you don’t need to say that. People can put 2 and 2 together.

    6. DrRat*

      I wouldn’t mention it in a cover letter. If it’s a small industry, your competitors know exactly why you are trying to leave that sinking ship. I read once of someone who applied for a job and the interviewer said, “Well, normally I would ask why you are considering leaving your old position but 8 of the 9 people in your department at X Company have applied with us, so I think we can skip that part.”

  14. ThatGirl*

    Back in October the higher-ups at my newly-acquired company announced they wanted us in the office 4 days a week, for no good reason other than “we said so.” (We’d previously been doing a 3/2 split.)

    This left a lot of people frustrated and annoyed. We have every-other-week town halls with the VP of my division, and people submit anonymous questions for a designated person to ask. This week someone asked if there had been any reconsideration of the in-office policy given various things going on, including flu season and rising covid cases and a poor employee engagement survey. The VP basically said a bunch of nonsense and that she was sticking with the policy as-is. Which … it’s 2022. We’re *going* to lose more people, because of that and other reasons.

    1. Jujyfruits*

      It’s so mind boggling. I took a hybrid job and in the first week was notified that two people had Covid and I was exposed. I started wearing a mask. I’d say about 1/3 of people wear one, the rest don’t. Also employees who have been there longer than me come in once a month or less. It seems like they want people in the office and can force the newest employees to come in. So why am I coming into an office to work essentially by myself? Companies need to get over their real estate investments and let people work from home.

    2. Ann Ominous*

      That is so frustrating. The job I just left had that same approach. All the people with any other options were leaving. All direct feedback as well as anonymous survey feedback was completely ignored or misunderstood.

      The job I am in now? 100% remote, even though we are all authorized to return. Our director said all our metrics have gone up since we went home, why would we force that to change? If you want to come in you can (and several people do, once a week or so, to collaborate or train) but it’s 100% voluntary and situation-dependent.

    3. Unkempt Flatware*

      It’s quite clear our bosses have no good reason than “because I want control and I don’t know what managing is if I can’t have control over my workers”. I had a job for 10 months during the pandemic where during the very few times I worked in the office, I saw an old attendance board in the huddle area. Asked what it used to be used for and my colleagues said boss required that they indicate if they went to the bathroom, to lunch, on a walk, doctors, etc. I cannot believe we ever put up with that level of surveillance.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        “because I want control and I don’t know what managing is”

        pretty sure you could have stopped there

      2. ThatGirl*

        Yeah, thankfully this is nowhere near that level of control – we still have fairly flexible schedules and can WFH on other days if circumstances arise – but it definitely stems from a corporate urge to fill office space.

      3. JustaTech*

        Yeah, my VP has always responded to changes in management (we’ve had a lot) or big scary things about the future of the company by canceling people’s WFH.
        Which was always rare and sporadic (I did one morning every other week, one coworker did every Monday, but no one was more than 20% WFH).

        But just because I’ve identified a pattern doesn’t make it any easier to deal with when he’s on a tear.

      4. Esmeralda*

        WE had an attendance board at a company I worked for in the 1980s. It just showed in/out. Because reception had a legit need to know.

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          Right. I’ve had them at previous jobs and it was in case of building evacuation, so we would be sure everyone was accounted for. There were the in/out boxes, and a notes section people could use if they chose to. It was usually stuff like “back at 3:30” or “off until Wednesday.” Nothing specific or detailed.

          1. No Longer Looking*

            I’m chuckling as I picture the entire floor streaming past the front desk during a fire alarm so they can shift their box to Out…

    4. lost academic*

      New direct question: “How many experienced staff is Company prepared to lose over this policy in the next fiscal year before rescinding it?”

      1. ThatGirl*

        Unfortunately the actual decision was made above the VP’s head, but earlier this year I asked a question about employee retention and her answer was basically “we are concerned about it, what would help with that?” like the onus was somehow on us to tell her…. but if we do… they just shrug.

      2. No Longer Looking*

        LOL I asked almost that exact question back in 2019 when our company announced they wanted to move our office 20 miles, from the west suburbs to central Chicago, increasing most commute times by a solid hour. I didn’t say prepared I think, I asked what percentage of staff loss they were budgeting for. They did NOT like that question one bit, but everyone knew it was part of the reasoning (we had combined 2 companies and a third calved-off department in our location, and the overall company had acquired I think 6 other companies in as many states). What I can’t figure out is the managers who make those decisions without thinking they’ll lose people over it.

    5. I-Away 8*

      Companies that insist on onsite work drive out WFH employees so they can replace them with workers who don’t mind working onsite. Your employer will end up with exactly what it wants.

    6. Gatomon*

      Our boss is trying to slowly force us back, so far just once or twice a month. I am, predictably, not feeling verywell after our first such event this week. I’ve started looking very sporadically, but this year has been so awful for me that I don’t really have the bandwidth to job hunt seriously right now.

      I guess I should go dig out a rapid test.

    7. Girasol*

      Sometimes one company acquires another in order to buy the intellectual property – products, patents, customer contacts, etc. The acquiring company may not want all the employees. In that case losing them would not be a big concern, and having them quit of their own accord could be desirable. That’s not what you wanted to hear, I’m sure, but something to consider before you decide to drive a hard bargain.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I’m not planning to die on this hill – I would just as soon look for a new job. I’m just frustrated. And they need my office and my department, if they have any business sense at all. (There were some high-level consolidations, like, our C-suite people all left but they need the rank and file types.)

        1. Girasol*

          In my experience with mergers, there’s about a 50% chance that they have any sense at all. Each company lacks the institutional knowledge of the other and both sides are prone to moving quickly and making poor decisions.

  15. Moonlight*

    I am job searching. My ultimate goal is to have
    (a) a full time job – research based
    (b) 2 part time jobs – one is as a freelance writing related gig, and one is teaching fitness classes, neither of which add up to a second full time job.

    I am wondering how to negotiate this and represent it on my resume so that I can be well positioned to handle it all. For example, I plan to start a freelance writing gig soon, it involves research and is thus relevant to my (a) full time job. Should I comment in my resume/cover letter that it won’t interfere with my full time work?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      A resume is a marketing document more than an exhaustive history of every place you have ever worked, so you can leave off the part time roles when you are applying for full time research based positions. And you can have multiple resumes. If you need to submit resumes for your part time jobs, you can have one tailored to highlight your writing experience (for freelance writing gigs) and one tailored to highlight your fitness class instructor experience (for those gigs).

      Also, resumes are best when they showcase your accomplishments, so I wouldn’t add your freelance writing piece that includes research to your resume until after you have completed it.

    2. ZSD*

      If I understand correctly, you want *both* (a) and (b), right? I think that when you’re applying for (a), you just leave the (b) parts off your resume, and vice versa. As long as the full-time jobs you’re applying for are really just 40 hours per week and not the type of research jobs where you have to be ready to come in to the lab at 8 PM because that’s when the mice are going to be ready for the next step, then I don’t think the fitness classes or your writing gig will interfere with the full-time job. Just leave them off your resume, and the hiring managers won’t need to worry about them.

    3. All the Birds*

      I would NOT mention your part-time jobs at all. Especially because, from what you wrote, you don’t have the PT writing job yet, so it has no bearing. Mentioning up front that you plan to work two other jobs while doing a FT job will turn off hiring managers. It won’t help you.

      1. yetelmen*

        Yeah, as a hiring manager, I don’t really care to hear about your side gig, unless it fills in some experience gaps I wouldn’t have noticed from the rest of your resume. When I was applying to jobs about 10 years ago, I included my consulting company on my resume that I was an active co-owner in, because the type of work I was doing supplanted the experience needed for the job I was applying to. What I did not address, nor did anyone ask, was how I planned to manage the side gig if hired.

      2. Rose*

        Agreed. That would be a big red flag to me, to be honest. I don’t really care what you do in your free time/time off from work (assuming it isn’t another job that has security/compliance/noncompete implications), but hearing about two other “jobs” would give me pause and make me wonder if you’d be able to fully commit to the job I am hiring you for.

    4. tessa*

      I wouldn’t mention the part-time gigs, for reasons other commenters have stated.

      But it’s possible that your full-time job will require you to declare any outside activities that require 8 or more hours of your time weekly. That’s where you will want to devote your mental energy in terms of whether you should report the two part-time jobs. Some people do, some people don’t. Very situational. (I work at a public university that requires such disclosures; the private sector might not have such a requirement).

      1. Tris Prior*

        Like ANY activity, even if unpaid, volunteer, hobby-related? Or just paid work that is 8 hours a week or more?

        1. Student*

          It varies by job! I work in STEM research. You generally have to report anything that might overlap with your employer’s interests, whether paid or unpaid. If your hobby involved posting social media articles about something similar to your job, you’d likely need to report it. If your hobby involved tutoring (for money or for free) in the same subject matter your worked in, probably yes. If you were volunteering for a food bank or something else clearly unrelated to work, probably not – but sometimes, yes. Hours didn’t necessarily matter much. They don’t want you working for their competition off the clock, no matter how many hours it is; they don’t want you to create image problems for them; most of all, they don’t want you stealing their IP from them.

          Part of what fuels this is a culture of… how shall I put this… rampant IP theft and profiteering and disregard for company business interests if you can make a personal buck. I’ve known several people who have used their work time and resources to set up a start-up to directly compete with their day-job, or sell stuff to their day-job that their day-job is already paying them a salary to produce (like setting up a side business to supply the employer with a critical part they need for their main product, even though your job is critical part manager for main employer). Some of the best-known tech companies there are didn’t originate their own ideas – they stole their ideas from people who were good at tech, but bad at marketing and legal IP management.

          As a result, employers crack down on a lot of harmless behavior in an effort to try to get some leverage over the people who are stealing major money from them.

        2. Moonlight*

          I have worked in finance and health care and you typically had to declare this stuff. I never had any once actually care though, it usually had to do with conflict of interest and confidentiality in my cases.

  16. Going anon for this one*

    The best advice I’ve had about work in a long time came from a NY magazine article about a miniature donkey; it covered how said donkey (Jenny) got to be cast in the movie Banshees of Inershin, and Colin Farrell said this: . “A film set can be an intimidating environment, and the best way to feel like you belong there is to know exactly what your purpose is,” he tells Vulture. “Whether you’re the sound guy, you’re making the sandwiches, delivering the lines — if you know what your purpose is, you’ve got a chance to be comfortable. Now Jenny … I’m not sure she knew what her purpose was. She didn’t know what a piece of tape on the floor meant.”

    Just thinking of that – purpose, what is mine, how do I know what it means – has been deeply clarifying for me. Thank you Colin! And Jenny!

      1. Going anon for this one*

        It explained a huge amount to me about why I struggle and gave me some instant insight in how to fix that. Still wish I could just be an adorable donkey though…

        1. Warrior Princess Xena*

          One of our neighbors down the road has a whole herd of miniature donkeys. Every now and they I see foals. They’re seriously the tiniest things ever and they have amazing ears.

    1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      It’s easy to mock culture building & brand purpose type work — and yeah, it’s often done very very poorly — but it DOES make a difference to a lot of people to know why the work matters and how you fit into that work. Done right, that kind of work can be transformative to connecting us and giving our day to day jobs meaning.

      I’m struggling a lot in my current role because I can’t find my place in it. They keep telling me what it should be, but I don’t feel it and my heart isn’t aligned with their purpose. I’m not good at just working for a paycheck, sigh.

      1. Put the Blame on Edamame*

        I 100% agree. There’s a good way to do it, pity we tend to focus on the cringe side.

  17. Super Duper Anon*

    Short version: Any tips for multi-day face-to-face meetings and work socializing when you are burnt out and crabby, but don’t want to blow your reputation as a nice and helpful teammate?

    Long version: My home life has been a bit of a mess since this summer. Things are now stabilizing and I have booked some vacation in a couple months that I am looking forward to, so by the start of next year I should come back refreshed and in a much better place. In the meantime, I am now tired, crabby, and just generally burned out. I have managed this fine as while I am in the office there isn’t a ton of other people here so interactions have been short and easy, with light small talk. My team is also remote, so interactions have basically been through meetings, chat, and email which are all fine to manage as they are either short (5 minute chats before a meeting start) or I can take a break before answering an email if I am snappy.

    However, in a couple weeks I have to go to HQ for multi-day team building and other meetings. This includes meeting most of my team in person for the first time (I have met a few in-person before) including my manager. I am not great at this at the best of times, and with the burnout it is going to be harder. Plus, I am kind of rusty after a couple of years of purely remote work because of the pannini.

    So I have gained a good reputation, do not want to blow it, and to top it off, it is also performance review time. Any tips to make it through this?

    1. FashionablyEvil*

      I find it’s (a lot) easier to be nice to people in-person because you have all the other social cues and context, opportunities to talk about light topics like pets and hobbies, etc.

      I would honestly just do your best with the things in your control—get a good night’s sleep, try to fit in a walk or some exercise each day, make sure you have some healthy snacks with you.

      Someone once told me that all problems become easier if you first ask yourself, “Could this problem be solved with a hug, a snack, or a nap?” Basically, take care of your needs for connection, fuel, and rest before you do anything else.

      Hope the trip ends up being better than you expect!

      1. Ann Ominous*

        Seconding all these good tips! Sleep, nutrition, and exercise are so overused as tips but that’s because they truly are essential.

        I’d also bring comfort items in with me that stimulate various senses:

        – smell: a tiny bottle of rose or lavender essential oil to sniff (which reminds me of happy memories)

        – touch: wear my favorite socks/undies that day (don’t wear the scratchy uncomfortable things that decrease the amount of spoons you have)

        – taste: extra snacks, mint gum, hard candies

        – photos that make me smile.

        Basically things to stimulate different parts of your senses that bring comfort.

        And plan something at the end of each day that is flexible (so you can change your mind last minute) and engrossing (so it completely refreshes your mind and body, like knitting, reading, hiking, watching a movie, painting model cars, whatever – but probably not social media because you can lose hours that way but not feel nourished by it).

    2. The teapots are on fire*

      Maybe you could own the rust. When it’s time for chit-chat (which I don’t so much like, either), maybe you could just say, “I’ve been at home for so long I’m socially rusty and I’m not even sure I remember how to act. How are YOU doing?” And if you’re lucky, they will tell you and you can just nod sympathetically, maybe ask a follow up question, nod some more, and then go get a snack.

      Fingers crossed for you.

      1. Mockingjay*

        I was going to suggest a variation of this. People love to talk about themselves.

        Since it’s a work meeting, there will probably be colleagues that are as tired as you are. It’s okay to excuse yourself and step outside for a few moments to recoup, or decline lunch/dinner for an early evening in the hotel room. My multistate project team meets quarterly. We all used to go out for lunches and dinners daily during these meetings. A few years ago we realized we were tiring of each other’s constant company, so now everyone just does their own thing and has time to relax.

        (There’s a Star Trek TNG episode in which a weary Capt. Picard has to attend yet another work party with a voluble host. Picard cleverly introduces the host to Data, who matches him for HOURS in absolute nonsense chit chat. If only we could borrow Brent Spiner for conferences…)

    3. Annie Moose*

      Few things that come to mind for me.

      First, is there anyone on the team who you’re particularly close to and trust the discretion of? If so, it may be very helpful to disclose some of this to them–not that you need to give them all the details, of course, but more along the lines of, “I’ve been having a really rough fall and it’s honestly hard for me to stay cheerful around people, I hope you understand if I’m short with you or seem upset, it’s not personal, etc.” It can be a huge help to have someone who knows what’s going on and can help be a buffer with other people.

      Second, have some strategies on standby for if you notice yourself getting stressed out or inclined to snap at people. I don’t necessarily know what that might look like for you, of course! For me, it would probably be things like refocusing on something pleasant, internally acknowledging my frustration but reminding myself not to let it spill out, thinking through generic responses that I can deliver in a neutral tone, work on keeping a neutral expression if I can’t manage genuine excitement or happiness, having conversational topics on tap that I could pivot to if things get to a place that’s too uncomfortable for me, that sort of thing. Especially in personal conversations, it can be _very_ effective to ask someone questions about something they’re interested in and just listen–it’s easier for me to sit and listen when I’m frustrated or emotional than for me to have to actively participate.

      Finally… as a last resort, having some escape strategies in your back pocket. You get a hard maximum of maybe two or three times that you can run away from a bad conversation before people start noticing lol, but honestly… something like “oh my goodness, where is the bathroom, I will be RIGHT back” or “wow, I REALLY need a drink of water, so sorry, I’ll be back in a minute” can get you away and you can go hide out in a bathroom for a few minutes.

      Best of luck! May you discover your coworkers are all very cool people and it turns out to be a breeze rather than stressful.

      1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

        I am a huge User-of-the-Bathroom-to-Decompress-In-Social-Situations.

        No one will question it and when you’re done, you can wander off in a direction away from the people who have stressed you out.

        As a compulsive crafter, I also like to hide out in plain sight by having a small hand project I can pull out during an official break. I’m on break, so I can do what I want, and if someone wants to chat, either we chat about my thing – which is usually a nice little chat, or my hands can work out all the social static that I’m feeling with the less fun conversations.

      2. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        These are all great. For me, I have had to learn to prioritize alone time at conferences etc – I will find a spot to hide out (fake a phone call?) or go back to my hotel room at lunch. I think: well if I was having lunch with A, I wouldn’t see B, and if I was with B, I wouldn’t see A, so it must be okay to see neither A nor B (this may make no sense to you, but it’s how I trick my brain out of the idea that I “should” be socialising at all times).

    4. CeeEff*

      Is it possible to take an extra day or two off in the next few weeks to give yourself a bit of a refresher now? That may help lower the impending burnout feeling.

    5. OtterB*

      Is it possible to arrange your travel to HQ to give yourself a little time to relax after you get there? Maybe fly out early the morning before the meeting starts instead of the evening before, and then use the afternoon to decompress / nap / whatever?

    6. SofiaDeo*

      “Apologies, I’m feeling a little under the weather today/this week, not contagious and nothing serious.” Because you are. Something casually, organically stated along these lines early on will key people in to why “you” aren’t being your usual “you”.

    7. Alternative Person*

      If possible, make a list of who you want to speak to and topics you want to ask about/speak on, with a few bullet points and put it somewhere easy to check. I do this so I know what I want to say and to make sure I get all the key points out. It really helps me because I have a reminder about what I want to say.

  18. Insert Pun Here*

    What would you consider “normal” turnover in your org? What would you consider a red flag level of turnover? Particularly interested in hearing from those who work in “sticky” fields, where long stays are common. (In my case, outside of entry level jobs, multiple decade tenures are not uncommon.)

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Someone (an FTE, not contractor) leaving after having been here 2-5 years, I’d consider normal. People constantly leaving between 3 months and 18 months, I’d consider to be high turnover and a red flag.

    2. Jake*

      I work in a field that’s perceived as desirable for its subject matter (absolutely not for its pay and not often for its working conditions). People tend to put up with a lot for the chance to be in this industry. We often see relatively high turnover at the most junior ranks, because not everyone who wants to be in this field is actually cut out for it or enjoys it once they live its reality. People who stay past entry-level tend to be lifers. Normal turnover is well under 10% (very likely even below 5%) for anyone above junior level and much more than that would raise red flags. I’ve recently encountered two companies in the same field who are fully staffed and outwardly reasonably successful, but one has a turnover of about 20% and the other approaching 50%. Assessing honestly, I would be surprised if either one survived the next two years without either new ownership or a collapse.

    3. ThatGirl*

      I work for a manufacturing company, in marketing. In marketing itself, I would say turnover of 2-5 years is common – in no small part because marketing is often a target for layoffs (sigh). Within my larger org, there are a lot of longtimers, but we’ve also lost a lot of longtimers due to a merger so my guess is the average length of service has gone down considerably this year. There are also a lot of people in marketing who have only been here 2-3 years because the department started expanding a lot around 2019.

      So I guess the short answer is – it depends, but I definitely take it as a good sign if there are a lot of people who have longer tenures (5+ years or more).

    4. CheeryO*

      I’m in state government. It used to be the norm for people to stay for 30+ years, but the retirement benefits have gotten worse over time and salaries haven’t kept up, plus there are some culture issues that I think naturally happen when a decent chunk of the office hasn’t had to job search or learn anything new in decades.

      All that to say, we have historically had very low (almost zero) turnover other than occasional transfers, but it has picked up in the last year or so (I don’t have numbers but have heard that we are “bleeding staff” statewide), and I wouldn’t be surprised by any amount of turnover in the coming years, especially with inflation being what it is.

      1. Joielle*

        Same here on all accounts! We had a lot of retirements when Covid hit and everyone suddenly had to learn a lot of new technology to enable remote work. Overall, there’s a real resistance to change from people who have been here for decades, which makes everything more difficult than it needs to be.

        We’ve hired some, but low salaries relative to private industry and a resistance to 100% remote work are making it hard to hire and retain. And I’ve also heard that this is a problem in lots of agencies.

    5. Irish Teacher*

      In education in Ireland, I see it as a red flag if a small to medium sized school is advertising for multiple permanent jobs numerous times in a year. Stuff like maternity leaves and sick leaves are obviously different but a school with say 400 students that is advertising for four or five new teachers each summer and then has vague “for the rest of the year and possibly longer” ads appear numerous times during the school year. That is generally reason for concern.

      My school has a staff of about 50, between teachers and SNAs and…we’d generally have maybe two or three people leave in a year, between retirements, people who decide to apply for and get roles like deputy principal elsewhere and things like people moving to be with a partner or deciding to be stay-at-home parents.

      Teaching, in Ireland, at least, is very much a “sticky” role once one actually GETS a permanent job. It isn’t unusual to spend five or ten years doing short-term substitution work in various schools or even to get year long contracts that aren’t extended, but once one has CID (a contract of indefinite duration), it is normal to remain in that job until retirement. Moving is risky as you are starting off again from scratch and usually won’t be guaranted CID in your new school until you have been there two years.

    6. Educator*

      I’m in an industry that still has pensions (!) for some jobs, and a lot of people work for the same organization forever if they make it through the first five years. Prior to the pandemic, I would have told you that anything higher than 10% annual turnover among the 5+ year group was a massive red flag. These days, all bets are off–there are so many factors that cause people to leave now. I think the question has become not how many people are leaving, but WHY they are leaving. If the reasons people are leaving are not important to you, it does not matter. But if the reasons themselves are red flags, then you’ve got a problem.

    7. Alternative Person*

      Mine is the kind of org where as long as you’re minimally credentialed and in the pretty broad pseudo sister org eco-system you’ll pretty much always be able to get work pretty much wherever you want in the world as long as you keep reasonably on top of industry trends. It’s very much the kind of career where people move around a lot when they’re young, then climb the ladder locally, if not internally once they set down roots.

      It’s less about overall turnover and more about what level is turning over. Mid turn over (approx 30%~ per year) in junior staff is green. High turnover (50%+ per year) in junior staff is yellow. Occasional high turnover in mid level is a yellow (usually means a promotion was available and those who didn’t get it moved on). Consistent year on year high turnover in mid and high level is a red. Additionally, consistent low turnover (less than 5% for years on end) in mid and high is also red flag, it usually means there are few growth opportunities in both the company and wider area.

  19. Amber Rose*

    Our ERP seems to run on knock-off crystal reports. Like it’s not really crystal reports but close enough that our one person with experience in it can figure lots of stuff out.

    But that one person is not the ERP admin, I am, and I’m dying trying to figure this out. The wiki is so not helping me. I don’t understand any of it. Is there a really good, easy to follow online resource for learning crystal reports for non-programmer types, like a reports for dummies kind of thing? Free is great but it can even be not free, I’ll put it on my company card and tell my boss that it’s non-negotiable.

    I’m signed up for a full day class at the end of January but I’m worried it won’t be entry level enough for where I’m at.

    1. Mbarr*

      Check out LinkedIn Learning – they have a bazillion courses available for all skill levels. Our company offers it for free, but I know you can also get free access via my local library.

    2. Chicago Anon*

      OK, I learned a new term here. I thought “crystal reports” was going to be a euphemism like “llama grooming,” for reading a crystal ball and reporting back, and that the readings weren’t even going to be good readings because the ball was a knock-off crystal . . .

      Maybe I read too much fantasy lit.

      (Is “too much” even a thing in that context??)

      1. Irish Teacher*

        I firstly thought it was an implication that the powers that be were into woo. Like “the reports are all crystal and woo and stuff and very little actual information.”

      2. Amber Rose*

        Alas, that would be more fun than what it actually is, which is an old and overly complex developer tool for making reports out of databases. It uses a nonsensical programming language in combination with tables that make even less sense than that.

        So really, I’d probably have more luck scrying the data with a real crystal ball.

        1. Dancing Otter*

          Yeah, 1990s old, at least, and it was kludge even then.
          But I think the table design should be blamed on whoever set up your database.
          I’d focus on learning how to extract the data with summary queries, then pretty up the report in a spreadsheet. There are a ton of resources for learning standard query language (SQL), including the “Idiot’s Guide” and “… for Dummies” series. You’d only need Read privileges on the database, not Read-Write, so it’s pretty safe.
          Also, Excel itself used to have tools to extract data directly, though I haven’t worked with those functions in donkeys’ years.

    3. ronda*

      I googled crystal reports training and see youtube videos show up for it. maybe they will help.

      here is the name of one of the videos: Crystal Reports Tutorial – Introduction, First Report (Lesson 1)
      I suspect they have a series.

  20. Mimmy*

    As a follow-up on yesterday’s question about job ads being reposted and related to a question I’d asked 1-2 weeks ago: Is it a red flag to see a position reposted multiple times over a short period?

    As a recap: I am applying for professional level, non-teaching positions at colleges and universities. There are two positions in a particular department at a specific university I’ve been following. One is a Teapot Coordinator, which is the position I applied for and recently rejected, and the other is a Coffee Coordinator. The Coffee Coordinator position has been reposted on LinkedIn and HigherEdJobs.com several times over the last 3-4 months. Is it worth my time to apply for the Coffee Coordinator position? (The Teapot Coordinator position was reposted last week).

    I did get some excellent insight in yesterday’s post from a couple of people about why this may happen, but I’m hoping to hear from others in higher education as well. One commenter yesterday said it was a yellow flag. It is a highly competitive university, so maybe they need to be very particular about who they hire.

    1. Insert Pun Here*

      Higher ed is having a terrible time hiring now—just in terms of getting qualified applicants. (Several articles on The Chronicle of Higher Ed about this recently.) Obviously that’s not universally true for every job (nothing is) but I’d say give it a shot.

      1. yetelmen*

        Most higher ed non-faculty hirings I’ve been part of recently have required the position to be reposted at least twice in order to get ANY qualified applicants. Not even “enough” qualified applicants. I’d take it as a sign I had a better chance than most, actually.

        1. Anonymosity*

          I assume colleges get a lot of applicants who resume bomb, but could they only be looking for those who’ve worked in the field and not anyone with transferable experience? I can’t imagine that all their potential candidates are unqualified. This seems very strange to me.

          1. yetelmen*

            The search to backfill my most recent position went like this:

            First posting: one applicant with no relevant degree or experience so did not meet minimum requirements
            Second posting: no applicants
            Third posting: one applicant that had been specifically poached from another department

            Another search I did a year ago, the lone applicant was qualified but wanted more than we could spend, so withdrew before the interview process.

            I think it’s more that people just aren’t applying to the positions at all, not so much that people who don’t meet the minimum requirements are the only ones applying.

            1. Anonymosity*

              Ah, I see. I was under the impression they would get more than that. Thank you for clarifying.

          2. Esmeralda*

            The search I ran earlier this semester:
            first posting, 12 applications, 2 reasonably qualified, some not quite qualified, most not at all qualified
            second posting, 20 more applications, several excellent on paper candidates, some ok candidates, 10 candidates completely unqualified
            and so on.

            For instance, for this position you absolutely had to have some experience working with college students. So we’ll get applications from K-12 teachers, but if they have no experience working with college students, they are truly not prepared for this job. We also get a fair number of applications from people with no experience in any sort of educational employment — these are often folks who think the job would be fun and more rewarding than what they are doing now, but with no pertinent experience, they are absolutely not qualified and they just add to my workload, even a quick review takes time…

            1. yetelmen*

              We hired a job with the word “learning” in the title and the entire field but two were K-12 teachers. I feel for them, because they’re obviously trying to escape the hell that is K-12 right now, but I don’t even know if they read the job description before applying.

        2. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

          yetelmen, the same is true in my university. My department has nonfaculty openings that have been readvertised multiple times without getting any viable applicants. While we’d be glad to consider internal transfer applicants, other departments have even more vacancies –there’s no one available to ‘poach’ unless we all played musical chairs.

          Some positions are getting filled briefly, then the new employees are leave within less than a year, generally for reasons unrelated to the the job itself, more to do with individual issues related to general public health, climate change, and politics.

    2. Cyndi*

      I’ve definitely had jobs where the repeated reposting was a red flag–I’m thinking of one very small business in particular where the woman in charge was the professional equivalent of “all my exes are crazy but I can tell you’re different!” and I saw my job reposted every few months for a good while after I left. But academia is its own planet, so I can’t say if that holds true there.

    3. RA*

      At the large higher ed institution that I work at, there are a ton of open staff positions (500+). As a result, the same job will get bumped up to the top of the list of jobs by being re-posted. Sometimes this also entails slight modifications to the job posting itself (e.g. clarifying that the job is hybrid).

      I’d take 3-4 months of repostings as a yellow flag. There’s usually internal candidates for positions, so why haven’t they found anyone in 3-4 months? Could be a good reason (need specific experience) or a bad reason (department is known internally to be poorly managed).

      1. Esmeralda*

        In higher ed? because there aren’t internal candidates. Especially for administrative sorts of positions, those folks do not have to work in higher ed. They can work somewhere that pays better.

    4. Educator*

      Higher ed hiring is SO SLOW! I was hired for my last higher ed job after a four month process, and I think the job was posted for a bit before that. It makes sense for the organization to keep posting while all of this is very slowly going down. Definitely apply!

    5. Esmeralda*

      I’m in higher ed, academic adjacent office.

      Reposting = we are forcing the posting back to the top of the list so that more people will see it. Jobseekers can search our university online jobs board by date of posting. If it’s been up more than a month (super common), then it gets lost. Every time we repost we get more applications. Sometimes the initial posting is at a poor time of year for people to apply — and the reason we post it then is so that it IS posted and the money for the position can’t be snatched back so easily.

      It’s also possible that they’ve been interviewing candidates and either the candidates are not that great OR the candidates are getting other job offers and withdrawing. This has been happening a lot. I just ran a search for a senior level professional — we had people withdrawing from the day we posted that sucker to the week we were making offers. I reposted that position several times because I was really worried the search would fail and then either we’d lose the line or I’d be running the search AGAIN, omg, please, no, let it end!

      Haha, fortunately we got a great hire. But I was white-knuckling it for awhile.

      All this to say, apply. There are a lot of reasons for it not to be a flag at all, especially in higher ed.

      And then ask at interview (and ask around thru your network) why the position is open/the previous person in that position left.

    6. Girasol*

      Could be an internal discussion: Person quits.
      Post person’s job.
      Grandboss: “Why hire a new person? Couldn’t person 2 and person 3 split those responsibilities? I want a report on that.
      Unpost.
      Grandboss: “I see how we do need a new person after all. Go ahead.”
      Post job.
      Fiscal issues at end of fiscal year. CEO: “Two month hiring freeze.”
      Unpost.
      Two months later, end of hiring freeze.
      Post job.

  21. gigi*

    Has anybody had trouble getting back into public speaking after years of presenting on zoom?
    I’m a senior in college and currently working on an internship/thesis project I’ve been at for several years and know inside and out. I’ve been doing poster presentations during the past couple years, but not actual-slides-and-audience presenting. On Wednesday, I had to give a three minute summary of my project with no slides or notes in a formal setting (undergraduate research event at my college). I’ve talked about my project a bunch of times. Literally gave a 20 minute talk earlier this month to 30 people, including my boss’ boss’ boss, that went awesome- but it was through zoom.
    When I stood up to give my summary, I gave my opening lines and everything was fine. Nice speaking pace, projecting my voice appropriately ect. Then I just completely blanked. I’ve never done that before. I gave a ton of speeches in high school and considered it a strength of mine, but now I feel like all that skill is gone because I haven’t spoken to an in-person audience in 4 years. As soon as I looked out and saw 40 real people looking at me, I just totally froze. I invited my parents to come since it was open to the public and they both said afterwards that they thought I was going to have a seizure from the way I locked up (we have a family history). I feel terrible I messed up so bad in front of them. Luckily they just said “it’s a learning experience” and laughed it off. I did eventually unfreeze and give a very bad summary. The 2 minute question portion went a lot better.
    Next week, I’m going to a conference to present a poster and have to get up and do a similar “lightning talk” for 2 minutes, but this time its to 100 people. I’m so stressed about it right now. I don’t even know what to do to stop myself from freezing up again. Anybody else struggle with adjusting to a live audience again?

    1. Mbarr*

      I don’t think this is a zoom issue. We all blank on things once in awhile – especially when nerves are involved.

      Last month I had to interview a bunch of people – I hate interviewing. On my 5th interview of the day… I forgot our team’s name. I stuttered, blinked, and eventually just had to laugh it off.

    2. Policy Wonk*

      Yes. I’m sorry – I know how awful it feels when I’ve blanked in front of a crowd. Can you bring notes? Even a short list of memory joggers can help you get back on track. I’ve learned to always bring something to use for that purpose. An index card, prepared remarks, and in between depending on the importance of the audience. You just need to get back into your rhythm – trust yourself to know your stuff. The rest will come.

      1. linger*

        Part of the assignment conditions stated was “no slides or notes”. Must confess I’d struggle with that too; I normally need 4-5 practice runs on a speech, out loud, even with support from slides and notes. (I also time the first and last to confirm I can stay within time limits with some tolerance for things not going perfectly.)

    3. The New Wanderer*

      I think the best thing you can do is practice exactly what you’ll say, multiple times and out loud. The out loud part is key – in your head you won’t notice the pauses, hesitations, restarting a sentence quite as much.

      FWIW, I’ve done public speaking for two decades and a few years ago in the middle of a presentation to a room of experts, I completely forgot what a critical piece of equipment was called (akin to forgetting what the spout is called on a teapot!). The practice part won’t make you a perfect public speaker who never forgets a line; what it will do is give you confidence in what you say and how you say it, and help you recover more gracefully when you have the inevitable glitch.

    4. Lily Rowan*

      Yeah, you’re just out of practice! Those muscles will come back.

      How did you get good at giving speeches in high school? There might be techniques you already know that you can use again now.

    5. ErinB*

      Oh I have! There are so many differences between a Zoom presentation and a live one that it might be helpful to try to pinpoint which one(s) threw you off and try to practice that aspect.

      For me, being seated vs. standing is a big difference. I love being able to swivel ever-so-slightly in my seat on Zoom and it’s a bit harder to do that while standing and speaking without looking like you’re very nervous. If that’s true for you as well, can you take some intentional steps while presenting to get that same fidget-type energy out? Similarly, I tend to use more elaborate/larger hand gestures in person.

      I also found that I like being able to look at myself on video occasionally to re-center. The equivalent that I’ve found in person is to look above most of the audience for a second or two (it kind of looks like you’re looking at the back row) and then get back to eye contact.

      Not sure any of these will work for you, but perhaps worth a shot!

    6. Sea Lady*

      You should look into improv classes or jams in your area! I was an already reasonably comfortable public speaker but they have totally built up my skills at speaking in front of audiences, large groups, etc and making my mental way out of those kind of brain freezes.

    7. Weegie*

      Yes! I’ve just begun delivering training sessions in person again. I enjoy it much more than Zoom, but I got used to using notes while delivering online and find I can’t get back to my old habit of note-free delivery. If it’s not written down now, I forget to say it. I got in muddle a few times when I went off-script, butI’m hoping I’ll be able to get back to my old ways soon.

  22. Cyndi*

    Last Sunday I woke up with Covid symptoms and tested positive. I promptly texted my boss; I had something like a day and a half PTO banked but she assured me I would be allowed to go as far into the negative as necessary to stay home safely. Then on Monday she communicated with HR and told me actually I could only ride a negative PTO balance through the end of the week. Then she tried to actually put my PTO through and she could only put it into the negative through last Wednesday, but also HR told her if I was still testing positive this Monday morning I would have to take another 5 days unpaid. And THEN on Monday, when I was still positive, she told me HR told her I had to come back to work yesterday, Thursday, because it was ten days after my first positive test regardless of my current test results. (I am still faintly positive but staying 100% masked outside my home, not even eating during the workday, until I’m definitely negative.)

    The end result of all this financially is that I got three days off paid, five unpaid, I applied for unemployment benefits for those five days and was approved but because they were divided across two work weeks I’m not sure I’m actually eligible for benefits this week or last. My PTO balance is -10, which is sort of a relief, because I was planning to job hunt in the new year and a -65hr PTO balance would really put a cramp in that.

    Oh, and I’m beginning to suspect no one around here actually knows what our Covid policy is any more! Just a wild guess.

    1. ZSD*

      You have to come in 10 days after your first positive test, regardless of whether you’re still positive ?!?! Who the eff came up with that policy?

      1. Cyndi*

        I figure they’re working from the assumption that I’m no longer contagious, because rapid tests tend to be positive for a stretch after the contagious? But I really have no solid gauge for how much of a risk I am to other people, and also…a full workday + an hour each way commute is a long time to go without food and I’m hungry :(

          1. Cyndi*

            I always bring breakfast and lunch but there is nowhere to eat alone in this building and never has been–I eat at my desk because it’s actually decently distanced from other people’s desks. There are small meeting rooms but we’re not supposed to eat in there, and also if I unmasked in one of those I’d be for sure leaving germs around for whoever else uses it next.

            1. Annie Moose*

              Covid doesn’t typically hang in the air very long, so that probably wouldn’t be a big issue. Especially if you’re in there just long enough to eat lunch and you’re in recovery.

              1. Cyndi*

                That’s good to know, thank you! Though hopefully I’ll be negative by Monday and it’ll be a non-issue.

              2. Librarian of SHIELD*

                Do you have a source on that? I’d actually been hearing the opposite and it’s been a huge source of worry for me.

              3. Pixie*

                If you look up Dr. Kimberly Prather, she is a good resource for Covid and indoor air. It can linger for perhaps 6 – 9 hours in aerosols indoors and gathers in the air like smoke. Any unmasking while contagious is dangerous to those around you. Home RAT tests are a good measure of contagiousness. If your RAT test is even faintly positive, you should be in isolation. Corsi-Rosenthal air filtration devices and HEPA filters can effectively clean indoor air and reduce risk. Instructions for how to make a C-R box at home are readily available online. Opening windows also helps. N-95 masks or those like them are preferred given how contagious the current variants are. Swiss cheese model keeps everyone safer – masks, fresh air, filtration, etc. Lots of interesting research released recently indicating that it may be a vascular disease that has long term negative impacts including perhaps compromising the immune system. Best of luck, OP!

        1. Peonies*

          Ugh, this is terrible all around. Do you drive? Can you eat in your car? If so, I’d be taking a mid morning and mid afternoon water/snack break as well as a full lunch break.

      2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Lol we get like 3 days for sickness which isn’t enough for even the slightest sniffle. I had to go into when I could not speak. At least I am not in retail I’d get no days.

    2. Antilles*

      For the last part, many (most?) companies seem to have started treating Covid as no different from the flu or cold – (1) take PTO if you’re too sick to work, (2) work through it if you don’t want to burn the PTO, and (3) if you’re not feeling sick at all why would you stay home?

      1. Cyndi*

        I only had mild symptoms for the first few days and I would have been perfectly happy to WFH! If they allowed us to WFH. Which they don’t, for no clear reason.

          1. Cyndi*

            It’s supposedly a security thing about bringing client data offsite but team leads and up are allowed to WFH when they’re sick so…what the heck do I know, anyway

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          Yeah, that’s the obvious solution. When I was exposed, I grabbed my laptop from work (masked, after hours, negative test), and then told my boss I was working from home. Told him when I tested positive, took the weekend and one working day to sleep, and then continued working from home until past time I was cleared to return.

          I guess, that’s because 1) our company has realized working from home works, so made a work from home or hybrid policy that pretty much anyone can use, and 2) realized that spreading a deadly disease isn’t a good look, so they work to avoid that.

    3. allathian*

      Yeah, when I had Covid a month ago, I tested negative at home on a Tuesday when I had to go to the office to attend an event with external partners to work on a project. I didn’t have any symptoms, but I tested just in case because our son was at home with Covid. I attended the event, and I wore a mask even if nobody else did and skipped the coffee and sandwiches just in case and went home straight afterwards. I WFH on the Wednesday and Thursday. I felt a bit more tired than usual on Thursday afternoon. On Friday, I tested myself again and this time it was a clear positive result. My employer requires an official PCR test, so I got tested in the afternoon, and got a positive test result by text before midnight on Friday. Then I contacted our occupational healthcare provider for a doctor’s note, which they issued for 5 days including the weekend (all handled virtually, no doctor’s visit necessary). I got off lightly, so I was fit to work again on the following Wednesday. Three weeks after the diagnosis I returned to the office for the first time, although I’m lucky in that our WFH policy is very sensible.

      In my area, Covid is treated like any other infectious disease, except for the doctor’s notes. If you get sick with an infectious disease, get the PCR test and it’s negative, you have to go to the doctor to get the note, which I think is less than ideal. But people aren’t expected to quarantine for more than 5 days after a positive Covid test. They’ve also decided not to offer
      a 4th Covid shot for low-risk people of working age, because most of us have had it at least once, and we have hybrid immunity that protects us from getting sick enough to need hospital or ICU treatment. Meanwhile, my parents (late 70s, no other risk factors except age) are lining up for their 6th Covid vaccinations. Good for them.

  23. Echo*

    AAM commenters, how do you manage burnout that is not due to overwork? My workload is fine but I just feel exhausted and unmotivated.

      1. Echo*

        To some extent yes, and I would ideally like a different job.

        To another extent, I think it’s caused by impostor syndrome that…doesn’t actually have a lot of basis in my real experiences. I’ve noticed that a pattern in my job stress is that I get most stressed out when I’m worried that a boss or client or coworker will tear my work apart, imply I’m an idiot, and make me redo the whole thing, and that never actually happens–not anymore, after Bad Former Boss left the company a year ago. I also get stressed out when I’m meeting with my managees because I have a fear that they don’t think I’m a real adult they need to take seriously and that I will have to monitor the way I present myself. So I’m not sure that any of this would get better somewhere else.

        1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

          They say therapists can help with those patterns ( not an insult, I’m obsessed with therapy)

    1. Shynosaur*

      I had that this summer. I love my job and I’m definitely not overworked. I don’t have a stressful position. So I kept saying “it can’t be burnout, how could it be burnout?” But I read some resources on burnout and what I did was take two full weeks off and more or less unplugged all electronics. I didn’t go anywhere, but I didn’t think about work, and I spent very little time on screens. I just gave myself permission to be totally impulsive and do whatever I wanted to do in the moment and stop if I didn’t want to. I think it’s really important to take the full two weeks off with zero deadlines–so holiday time off doesn’t count. I didn’t bounce back the very next week I got to work, but actually within a month of taking the two weeks off, I felt great and work was again engaging and satisfying.

    2. Hawk*

      1. If you have leave and are able to take it, take it and give yourself some time to rest.

      2. If you have the insurance needed, therapy.

      3. Find that thing that gets you excited for the day and really lean into it. For me it’s a good book and baking.

      I’m in the middle of this right now due to a mix of personal life stuff and a bad work environment, so solidarity fist bump.

    3. Hillary*

      It’s been a pandemic for a long time – we’re all out of reserves. Self care applies just as much as it would for work burnout.

      Rest, a break, and therapy can all help if they’re manageable. Regardless, try to give yourself grace. The world just sucks up more than we have right now.

    4. Silence*

      Have you had a physical checkup lately? Things like low iron, zinc, b vitamins can result in tiredness.
      How long is it since you had a holiday of at least a week to just relax?
      You mention work is fine but is your personal life stressful?

  24. very anon for this*

    last week I posted about my company calling everyone back to the office full time and job searching. A lot has happened since then. They took back their policy (not officially) for some people. This has created more anger for some people, less for others and confusion. I got two job offers and accepted one with more time off and more money plus a sign on bonus. It seems that management is trying to make things right with the team that remains and I am hopeful for them that they really do. I really care about the people on my team and it is hard knowing I am leaving them.

    1. Moonlight*

      Ooph that sounds really frustrating. I take it that it is not necessary for a lot of you to be in the office all the time? I am glad that you were able to get 2 offers so fast. If other people do the same, maybe management will reconsider their policy and you’re leaving will benefit those who are staying. Best of luck!

  25. Ch-ch-ch-changes*

    I’m in crisis mode at work. The head of our department left this summer and since then I’ve been filling in on some of their work. It has been exhausting, unrelenting, and I am definitely approaching burn out (if not burned out already). Recently a situation has arisen that is extraordinarily difficult. I am in the worst mindset to handle this and there’s a lack of leadership as well. I’ve also been considering a career change. Here’s where it gets interesting.

    I interviewed for a job that I am interested in, but that I may not have all the experience that I should. They liked me enough to talk with my references. My references have said that it’s likely I’ll get an offer. The salary will be an extensive pay cut. But I would change careers to an area that’s more in line with what I might like to do, move to a quieter location that’s MUCH closer to my family, and possibly be able to set better work/life boundaries than I can in my current career. But, it’s almost like starting over from scratch.

    I want to leave my current position so much that I would consider all of it, moreso than I would if I was comfortable with where I am.

    I am torn. I don’t want to take a job just to get out of a difficult situation. I would prefer to be comfortable with the majority of the job. But, currently I’m happy with about 65% of it. (About the percentage cut from my salary!). But I also can’t keep going at the pace I’m going and despite repeated pleas for help, all I’m getting from my supervisors is lip service (I’m doing a great job). So clearly I have to go. What would y’all do?

    I should add, I’m single and don’t have significant expenses beyond my dog , my car, and an apartment, which I would sell.

    1. Xaraja*

      That’s a huge pay cut! I think if it was me I would probably do it if I could afford it, but I might try to do some research on the company culture, and ask about benefits like insurance and PTO to see if any of that might change the compensation picture.

      1. The Real Fran Fine*

        Yeah, there’s no way in hell I’d take that big of a pay cut because there’s no guarantee you’ll ever get back to where you were before. Keep looking, OP.

    2. Camelid coordinator*

      A lower cost of living might help balance some of the lower salary, but what I really wonder is what you might see yourself doing next. Are you retiring after your next job or do you have decades in the workforce ahead of you? If the answer to the second question is yes, where (geographically and skills-wise) do you want to spend them? Will you be able to save for retirement on the lower salary? And to answer your question, if I could see a way for the finances to work out long term I’d probably go.

        1. LadyB*

          Also, think about how this might impact on saving for your retirement. A reduction in salary doesn’t just reduce your ability to save for retirement but could impact any employer contribution (in the UK, apologies if that’s not how it works in your situation)

    3. Josephine*

      What is the potential for advancement in the new job? If you can see yourself moving up salary-wise relatively quickly, I’d seriously consider making the move. Enjoying your work more and being closer to family can really make a difference in your life, but on the other hand so can not having enough money to enjoy anything outside of family time. Also, if you do leave and decide it’s not working out, how difficult would it be to find another higher paying job? If it would be relatively easy the risk of trying it out is definitely less. If it would be close to impossible, then something to take into account too.

    4. Super Duper Anon*

      I would look at a few things:
      – Is the salary cut survivable? Is the area you are moving to cheap enough that you can weather the day-to-day expenses without feeling too squeezed?
      -Is there a promotion path in this new career line that can get you back up to a salary that you can live with?
      -Are there other jobs out there in this career line that would pay you more?
      -Is there room to negotiate with the company you are interested in?

    5. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Another thing to consider is — if I don’t take the pay cut job, are there other replacement jobs for me to go to with more money?

      I’m hearing some strong vibes that you need to leave, so focus on that. Are you ok with lower wage in lower COL area? Or do you have options for higher wage in higher COL area? If there aren’t many places to escape to in your current location, and you already own the stuff you need to survive, then what you’re choosing is to re-scale your life into something way more tolerable. Sounds like a win to me.

    6. Double A*

      As I get older, I find location trumps almost anything else (I mean, as long as you are being paid a living wage). But that’s pretty personal.

      Is the location somewhere you want to be long-term? Are there opportunities there? If you’re 25 years from retirement you’re still fairly early career, so moving into the career you want if there are growth opportunities sounds kind of ideal. It’s not going to get easier as you get more entrenched in your current field and salary, so if this is a move you really want to make, now is probably the best time for it.

  26. Anon pour ce poste*

    So I did a dumb thing. But my manager knowingly approved the dumb thing. Now I’m not sure if I should just move on, or acknowledge it/apologize for it in our next 1:1.

    Our company covers our cell bills up to $100 a month. Last month, I went on vacation and incurred a couple of roaming charges. My bill was definitely higher than normal (I normally pay $70 a month), and it was above the cap. Out of laziness, I submitted the whole bill, fully expecting it to be adjusted or even rejected by finance. (They’re pretty strict about even minor things.)

    I woke up to an email from my manager to the whole team. It reiterated the monthly cap (he claims he wasn’t aware what the cap was, but would be enforcing it going forward). He also stated that henceforth roaming charges would only be approved if the travel was for business reasons. Totally fair. But apparently in the past he had approved roaming charges for colleagues who opted to work abroad temporarily (e.g. traveling to Europe to visit family, but working while there).

    The thing is – he approved my claim for the amount up to the cap. Now I feel like I ruined things for the team (even though again, he was previously approving things that shouldn’t have been approved). And I had 99% expected my claim to be rejected (I’ve had other claims rejected – by Finance, not my manager), it was just a long shot of hoping that he’d approve it… Which I got.

    All this makes me feel like a jackass. But otherwise I’m one of the highest performers on the team. He hasn’t said anything to me directly, but we haven’t interacted 1:1 since I put in the claim. I don’t know if I should say something, or just let it go. I feel crappy for putting them in that position, but again, they knowingly approved it.

    1. Anon pour ce poste*

      To clarify, he should never have approved roaming charges for non-business reasons in the past either. That was against Finance’s policies too – he’s just enforcing it now.

      1. Grant Writing Gut Check*

        I’m not sure I understand, but as the person who used to approve expense accounts, I would be majorly ticked off at an employee who deliberately submitted something that wasn’t a business expense because they were expecting me to catch it. It sounds like they didn’t understand that you incurred these charges on vacation – they probably assumed you only submitted them because they were work related? To be honest, you should come clean if you weren’t properly owed this money and pay the difference back (it’s fine to say you didn’t realize or it was a mistake, etc).

      2. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        When traveling abroad under such a policy, I’d either leave the company phone at home or set it up before leaving so that all calls go to voicemail. (Letting a call go to voicemail while roaming incurs roaming chsrges for both the incoming call *and* the redirected call to voicemail – ouch!)
        I’d not open myself to have to pay incoming roaming charges because the office called me during my vacation.
        In urgent cases, they could text me. Added benefit is not getting calls at night because the caller did not know (or care) it’s 4am where I happen to be.

    2. lost academic*

      Don’t assume this is just about you. Perhaps it’s not even related at all and the timing is just a coincidence, or that your charges just were the last straw and Finance chose this moment to say “listen, we have this policy for a reason, please make it clear what it is to your team so we don’t keep dealing with it”

      You didn’t ruin anything.

      1. It was b/c of her expense*

        This is why All Staff emails are useless. The person it’s meant for rarely realizes it is meant for them.

    3. Pocket Mouse*

      To recap… you submitted the whole bill out of laziness but also hoping the extra $30 would be approved, and you weren’t aware of the business-only-roaming policy. Your boss approved the extra $30 but also got the policy clarified to him and relayed the clarification to his team. His approval seems unnecessary but gracious, considering how many people were apparently unaware of the policy. I’m not sure how this ruins anything for anyone else, but it sure seems like a bit too much anguish for a pretty small sum of money. Everyone’s now on the same page on what the policy is going forward, so I say follow the policy and don’t be lazy in your future submissions. If you do feel the need to bring it up, just thank him for clarifying the policy to the team and affirm you’ll be sure to follow it now that you’re aware.

    4. Chilly Delta Blues*

      I think acknowledging it briefly is the way to go. Just a “I saw the email you sent reminding everyone of the rules around cell phone bill approvals. I think my last one may have prompted that email and I want to let you know I’ll be abiding by the rules moving forward.”

      Who knows, something else may have happened with a co-workers bill or maybe he’d been meaning to send that email anyway… but a conversation saying “X happened, I’ll proceed differently in the future” seems like the way to go to me.

    5. ecnaseener*

      I think you could briefly say “sorry for the mixup with my cell phone bill,” but don’t dwell on it…..and don’t admit to doing it on purpose.

  27. Alex*

    What are the real consequences of not following the WARN act, and who enforced them? Everyone’s talking about Twitter layoffs, but it’s not clear if they actually could get in trouble for not following the law, or if they just think it’s worth it to pay the fines instead of complying?

    1. Parenthesis Dude*

      You can lay someone off and tell them that their final day will be in three months. To be compliant with WARN, you have to do this. So, I would think they are complying.

      1. ArtK*

        The executives at Twitter were fired “for cause,” although there’s no way that Musk had been there long enough (8 hours?) to have developed cause. I expect that they’re going to try to fudge the WARN act, too.

        The legal circus over Twitter has just begun.

        1. T. Boone Pickens*

          Short of framing Twitter’s former execs, Musk has zero shot at winning that lawsuit on firing those folks ‘for cause’ just seems like a straight bullying tactic.

        2. Observer*

          The firing of the executives is not really relevant. They are absolutely going to fight him in court. But regardless, firing the top execs doesn’t come close to triggering the WARN act requirements. Firing 4.5K employees DOES. And that’s what all the chatter is about.

      1. Observer*

        Of course he won’t. The question is what will happen to him.

        And there are some fairly significant penalties in play unless he pays people’s wages and benefits. Given how he seems to be handling the layoffs, I doubt he’ll do that unless he’s dragged kicking and screaming.

        The lawsuits have already started.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          In Ireland, our taoiseach (prime minister) has expressed disapproval of the layoffs here, but there is no indication of any likely consequences, just the taoiseach saying “that wasn’t very nice” and “it’s not how we do things.”

          Oooh, just saw an article that sums up the rules here, as a company planning mass layoffs must consult with employee representatives, have a genuine reason for doing so and must use fair criteria for deciding who loses their job.

    2. Irishgirl*

      The laid off employees were told they are now non-working employees for 60 days. Probably to satisfy then WARN act. The at the end of 60 days, they are no longer employees. Then severance and unemployment can kick in.

  28. AnonPi*

    I’ve been looking for a new position for several years, and nothing has panned out (I’ve had 3 offers but two were lateral and one only a 5% increase that didn’t compensate for the amt of work at all, so I didn’t take any of those in the hopes to find something better). Finally *the* job I’ve been looking for was posted – like exactly what I want to do, this kind of work is my jam, and with a group that I know is great to work with and has great management. I was told after applying I’d be hearing about an interview but then crickets for weeks – I’d began to think it just wasn’t going to happen (this is the time of year for that kind of thing where I work due to the new fiscal year rolling over). But out of the blue I got several emails yesterday to ask to set up 2 virtual interviews this afternoon and one next week!!! I’m like vibrating with excitement and nerves and I’m trying not to freak out! :D

  29. Moonlight*

    I am neurodivergent and I have been looking for a job since finishing graduate school earlier this year (I took a few months off before looking for a job due to health issues). In the last 1.5 to 2 months of looking for a job, I have noticed that the application/ interview/ overall hiring process is really not neurodivergent friendly at all. Because it is encoded in laws, literally everywhere offers accommodations. But what the hell am I supposed to say? “Hi, I’m autistic, and the basic tenants of job searching don’t work for me, please meet with me”? Nah, that won’t work.

    Plus a lot of the problem comes down to the fact that disclosing having autism has led to inadvertent discrimination in the past and I worry it might hurt my chances of being taken serious because I am trained in a health care field where social skills are a big deal, and I don’t want people to think I am not capable of building relationships, communicating, etc. I am actually quite social, funny, and consider myself good at building relationships; I’m just a bit awkward, “odd”, would be thrilled if a colleague would just talk to me about Star Wars or something I am interested in, and sometimes I miss social cues (e.g. sometimes if someone is busy or needs to do something, they might need to directly tell me they don’t have time to talk but I feel like a lot of people consider that rude and just assume that people like me will “clue in”, but I might not and it won’t offend me if someone says “I’d love to talk, but I actually need to finish X and can’t be interrupted, can we talk after lunch?”). During the hiring process, challenges come up that look like

    (a) not really knowing if my resume and cover letter is actually coming off “properly”; I’m actually a really good writer, so I know it is well written, grammatically correct, and about as interesting as a resume can get BUT I really struggle with knowing if I am correctly landing the correct kind persuasion and representation of my skills. For example, cover letters just feel like fan fic to me and they feel stupid. I typically just want to write a literal thing where it’s like “here’s how I’m good for you” AND that’s technically what cover letters should do, but I often feel like it misses a certain pizzaz

    (b) as noted above, I sometimes miss social cues and spend a lot of energy on masking. For those of you who do not know what this means, it looks like trying to make sure I have the right facial expressions, making sure I seem interested enough but not overly interested; all things that seem to come naturally to other people. This makes interviews super challenging. When I actually get a job, take courses, or in my social and family life, people tend to find my quirky personality endearing but it’s hard when you need to represent a certain front

    (c) when I had jobs in the past, I was told by one boss that I come off as unprofessional at times and I asked what she meant by that because I do not believe myself to be unprofessional. I dress well, I am punctual, I complete my work on on time or early, I communicate well and treat others with respect, respond to things like emails promptly etc. The things the manager named as “unprofessional”, you guessed it, were my autism related (e.g., that a few times I missed a subtle social cue that I was talking too long in a meeting and that sometimes my face and vocal tones are a bit too expressive – and that’s even with masking!!!). This manager, also, overall, would consistently tell me how great I was doing at my work, had no major concerns, and knew that my clients all absolutely loved me, so I really failed to see how the odd issue with my “polish” was really a problem.

    I am wondering if anyone has any tips on how to deal with this stuff from a neurodivergent lens? Thanks!!!

    1. Irish Teacher*

      I do not know whether I am neurodivergent or not (well, pretty certain I have sensory processing disorder, but the jury is massively out on whether that is the extent of it or whether I am autistic) but one thing that I find often works is giving specifics. Most of my colleagues know that I “don’t like crowds” and that I am completely obsessive, for examples and actually a couple of them get rather protective of me on staff nights out and so on, where they can see that the place is busier than I might be comfortable with. The fact that I talk too much is also a bit of a standing joke and while I haven’t actually mentioned it, I think some of those I work closest with have sort of figured out that it’s a good idea to give me pretty clear instructions and to avoid too much teasing.

      So I think it is reasonable to mention that you sometimes need a warning that people don’t have time to talk, for instance. Actually, our previous SENCO was brilliant about this. She’d straight up tell me, “I’m busy now, Irish Teacher. I haven’t time to listen to you.” It sounds rude when written like that, but from my point of view, it was fantastic, as it meant I could assume it was OK to talk to her about whatever I was enthusing about and if she didn’t have time, she’d tell me, which was a lot easier than wondering, “can I talk to this person now or am I bothering them?”

      Also I think lean in to your strenghts. I once had an interview when I was really worried afterwards that I had lost it on the introductory part as I am pretty terrible at the whole “so did you have a long journey?” typed stuff, but once the actual questions about work come up, I am VERY good at that. I was hoping they would just assume I was nervous at the beginning of the interview, because I knew I’d done a good job on the rest of it, and I got the job, so presumably they did.

      There are no perfect candidates and while I might not be great at small talk and might fidget during the interview (though I usually try to keep my hands out of sight so this is less noticeable), I am also very knowledgeable about my job and about students’ needs and can speak pretty well on any aspect of that (to the point that during another interview, they asked for my strengths and I said something about how I think I express myself quite well and they laughed and said, “you certainly do”).

      It is harder during the applications process when you haven’t established the kind of relationship where you can just say, “yeah, I don’t perform well in crowds” or “I’m not great at small talk” or “yeah, I fidget a lot. Just a habit.”

    2. ferrina*

      Hugs! I’m ADHD and can pass, but man, it’s a struggle! Masking is exhausting, but unfortunately often necessary for the job search (as you noted, the unconscious discrimination is real). But I’m not convinced that you need to worry so much- it sounds like you are doing really well!
      Let’s take your points one by one:

      a) You wonder about your resume/cover letter. Start by having a friend read them (someone who will give you the honest feedback). If your friend says the writing is good, believe them. You can also look at data- track your applications vs response rate. If your writing sucks, you’ll see a really low response rate. Cover letter feel weird for pretty much everyone. I love your description of Fan Fic- they really feel like that! Especially if you have some Imposter Syndrome as well, it can feel like you’re writing about someone else’s life. But that’s okay!

      b) The masking and missed social cues. Honestly, it sounds like you are already handling this as well as you possibly can. It sounds like you’re generally likable and polished, though you miss the occasional social cue. Everyone misses a certain amount of social cues, and what you’re missing may be on par with a socially awkward neurotypical person. Again, have a trusted friend give you feedback (though if you’re generally pretty good in day-to-day social interactions, you’re probably fine)

      c) The Boss. I’m giving her some side-eye. You talked too long and that was “unprofessional”? Most people would call that “a day at work”. Unless you’re a therapist or another job that requires acute listening, this is Not An Issue. Ditto with the occasionally expressive face. You aren’t rolling your eyes at the CEO or fuming at cheap @ss rolls, and you aren’t regularly starting drama with coworkers. You’re fine.

      d) You mentioned continuing to talk and not sure if the other person is okay with that- I do that too. (as you can probably tell from my long post :D ). I like to just ask! “I could stand here and talk all day, but I’m sure you’re busy. Do you want me to go so you can focus?” I say this with a friendly tone and a big smile, and almost everyone is comfortable saying “yes, go away”. I had a good friend who was autistic who would regularly interrupt himself and say “I can get into the gory details, but is that something you want to hear? Or should we talk about something else?” Have a couple go-to questions like this, and folks will get used to this pretty quick (and honestly, it’s refreshing to have someone ask directly, rather than end up like yesterday’s LW whose coworkers keep talking to her when she wants them to stop)

      Honestly, you seem like a lovely person! Good luck in your job search!

      1. Moonloght*

        I am so relieved to hear that you’re side eying my boss because I was pretty upset about that feedback because I felt like my personality/autism was being criticised and that it wasn’t realistic advice and didn’t come with any actionable feedback; I really benefit from concrete examples (eg instead of “you talk too much sometimes” try “try to wait until everyone has had turns to say introductions before you talk again”; that might sound like something you tell a child, and that’s not a real specific example because I’m just trying to think of how that criticism might translate into real change versus expecting me to know what those social cues are that I’m missing).

        1. ferrina*

          Some bosses/people are just like that. They don’t quite like you and don’t know why, so they pick at really minor things. It sucks because you (Moonlight) are likely primed to believe it’s you- there’s studies that show ADHD children get a LOT more critical feedback than neurotypical kids, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that happens to autistic kids too. It messes with your mind and primes you to think that you are the problem, even when really the person who’s talking.

          Many hugs to you!

          1. KoiFeeder*

            Yes, and I have the study to prove it! Let me grab the link, but the conclusion was that the only time autistic children got POSITIVE feedback was when the video of them performing the task was changed to a transcript without any audio or visual recording of them.

      2. Cayman Islands*

        “You talked too long and that was “unprofessional”? … Unless you’re a therapist or another job that requires acute listening, this is Not An Issue.”

        That’s not true. Allowing space for others to talk, and listening when they do talk, is important in all workplaces. Someone who dominates conversations or takes up all the time in the meeting impacts the ability of others to contribute, and somebody who can’t listen acutely to other people is going to miss details that they need. There are plenty of letters here about colleagues, not all of them ND, to talk too much, which should be an indication of how poorly it lands with other people.

        Maybe some ND people in the commentariat will share strategies that have worked for them.

        1. ferrina*

          Yes, important to specify that it sounds like the “talked too long” was a one-time thing (“a meeting” rather than “in meetings”). Agree that regular monologuing is a problem, but a one-time loquacious fit is not.

          1. Cayman Islands*

            Per OP, it was “a few times.” I don’t know that an exact count is important here. What’s important is that ND and non-ND people all have to develop strategies to keep from dominating conversations and meetings, and that’s the case in all workplaces.

            1. Moonlight*

              I can say that in my case, I absolutely 100% did NOT dominate the meetings; there would be entire meetings where I basically didn’t speak at all. But you’re right; we all need to develop strategies for things like that, even if it doesn’t apply to me :)

        2. Green Beans*

          Agree. All jobs require active listening.

          However, this is the type of advice that usually has the subtext of “this will hurt your career advancement” rather than “this impacts your job right now” so what you want to do with that advice really depends on what you want to do with your career – if you’re happy where you are and don’t want to move up much, you can just ignore it. If you want to move up, you can look for a resource (therapist, ND career coach, ect) that helps you examine this feedback and, if needed, turn it into actions you can take.

          If your cover letters are getting responses, I wouldn’t worry about them. They’re doing their job. If they’re not getting responses, that’s when I’d try to revamp.

          For the accommodations thing – if you need specific accommodations, you can ask for them without needing to disclose. (I am asking for X accommodations…) If you don’t need accommodations – interviews are exhausting, masking is exhausting, and ND people will have much better advice on handling it than I ever could.

    3. fueled by coffee*

      For (a), is there someone who can look over your resume/cover letter drafts for you to let you know if they’re on the right track in terms of what hiring managers are looking for? You say you recently finished grad school; did the university have a career services center? Often these centers will also help recent alumni with reviewing materials for job searches and they can let you know if you’re on the right track in terms of how you’re presenting your skills/experience.

      1. Moonloght*

        My universities career centre frankly sucks. I’ve gone there enough times that I have everything down pat and just don’t know how to level up at this point. They just keep telling me the same stuff. I wold like a career advisor who specializes in neurodivergence but here we are.

    4. TeaFiend*

      I’m neurotypical so not sure if these ideas are helpful or not (very sorry if not), but perhaps you could try:
      – getting a friend (or a career coach/pro resume and CV writer) to read over your stuff prior to submitting
      – practice speaking for around two minutes. Not sure now your autism affects your time perception (so this may be a useless suggestion) but it would probably help if you could get an idea of when you’ve been talking for that long. In interviews you can then give ~2 minute answers and at the end of that time, ask if they’d like more detail/want you to expand on anything you said.

      As for getting a vibe for how expressive etc you should be – can’t add anything but to wish you all the best! I struggle with that too as a neurotypical person so I can only imagine how frustrating and challenging that may be for you. Keep at it!

    5. NaoNao*

      I am neurodivergent and I just leaned in during interviews, within reason. I decided that an interview is a good time to ensure the company doesn’t make me feel like I have to mask 24/7 when I’m there and being my natural self will either have them interested or not. I don’t play up quirks or anything but I just decided to drop the pretense of normality. However I consider myself an expert and a genuine asset to companies so that helps!

    6. Strict Extension*

      This isn’t a direct answer, but you may find some value in Alison’s interview with an employee of a majority-autistic company, which includes modifications they’ve made to the interview process. Maybe there are some things there you can enact on your own, or that you’d feel comfortable asking for under a vaguer request (like “I’ve found I’m able to give the most helpful responses during interviews when I know the reason behind your processes. Is that something you’d be able to share with me?”).

      https://www.askamanager.org/2021/03/interview-with-an-employee-at-a-majority-autistic-company.html

    7. i know it's not called aspergers anymore but*

      re: your past job/manager, it sounds like you may be “overfitting” to some specific criticism (which I think is isn’t necessarily a neurodivergent thing but can be greatly exacerbated by it, because if you learn social norms by explicit instruction, one outlier can skew your instruction set). Have other people given you this feedback (talking too long, inappropriate reactions)? If you ask a frank friend, would they say similarly?

      re: your resume and cover letter – other people already suggested getting outside feedback, and I think that’s the best thing you can do. Let people who understand the desired tone tell you what is or isn’t there in your own writing. This is just speaking from my own experience, but the struggle with this for me is accepting the feedback when I don’t “get it”. Like, why are we writing this cover letter fanfiction? I get it. Sometimes it sounds like the advice is basically “make your writing into a weird code that’s hard to understand”, and the best I can do is say, accept that you are playing a game here and that’s just what the rules are.

      1. Moonlight*

        Ohhh I wonder if I can write a my cover letters like code :p. It’s why I like the idea of writing my cover letters like fan fic. It kind of takes the ick out of, idk, bragging about myself.

    8. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

      Hi, neurodivergent person here, with some similarities to ASD, but no AS dx.
      Irish Teacher and Ferrina have some good ideas.
      Here are a few more, from my experience. They might not all be a good fit for you, but perhaps even the ones that are wrong for you will suggest something else that would fit better.

      1. Don’t disclose your actual diagnosis, instead describe your needs/what people can expect from you, and suggest accommodations that would help you for the situation at hand. Telling a diagnosis often prompts folks to jump to stereotype-based wrong conclusions, and even if they don’t do that, it doesn’t give them information they need to have the most successful interaction with you. You don’t even need to call them “accommodations,” just ask for what you need.
      This could look like, “I tend to miss subtle social cues and hints. If I don’t seem to be picking up something you think should be obvious or understood, please tell me directly.”
      “Some people have resting grumpy face, I have resting (whatever your face does when you’re not carefully adjusting your expressions– staring, or vacant, or excited, or very changeable, or whatever). Please don’t take my facial expression as an indication of how interested or attentive I am. I’m not, ‘making a face’, my face just looks like that. ”

      2. In conjunction with describing your needs and suggesting accommodations, mask less. Using less of your attention and energy on attempting to appear “normal” / not like yourself, will leave you more energy and attention to foreground the best of yourself and what benefits you bring, and more energy/attention for moderating and managing stuff that causes problems. Things that cause problems even with people who appreciate you generally and are ND-accepting, make effort to rein those in (even if they are based in your autism); quirks that don’t cause problems or only with very controlling/conformist people, relax about those.

      3. Talking too long can be a problem worth spending some energy to moderate. Different ways to address it work for different people (even within the same neurotype) and some that work for one person make the problem worse for others, so you may have to experiment to find the one(s) that you can use. Some to try:
      -If you talk a lot because trying to ‘cover all the bases’ and avoid misunderstanding , practice identifying what a person actually wants to know (either in your head, or by actually asking out loud friends who agree to help you practice), and answer only that. Substitute “does that answer?” for all the caveats, clarifications, and conditions you would have otherwise spelled out.
      -If you talk a lot because you have a lot of information/ideas to share and aren’t sure how much your audience needs or wants to hear, practice mentally organizing your talk into a paragraph or an outline before you speak, with a thesis, supporting details, and conclusions or next steps. Speak only the thesis sentence or the outline top-level headings, then stop and ask if your audience wants more detail.
      -Don’t worry about how your ideas are organized, but practice pausing for an entire second or breath after each sentence, and taking a longer (3-5 second) pause after every a few sentences to see if anyone wants to interrupt, redirect, or tell you that’s enough.
      -Tell people before you start talking that they are welcome to interrupt you by [specify some unambiguous signal you can easily notice, like a wave, raised hand, ‘timeout’ sign…]. Your interruption signal can be a word, but be aware that a quiet verbal interruption can be easy to miss hearing when you’re speaking (especially if you have auditory processing issues), many people have difficulty interrupting someone else verbally for various reasons (and some who do not have difficulty interrupt too readily and don’t need encouragement).
      -If you talk a lot because you get so interested in the ideas that you forget the people in your audience, practice changing your focus to include or center the audience– how do they think, feel, react about the fascinating thing. (I can’t really explain how to do this mental shift, and there are circumstances where it can really backfire, but sometimes it tunes up my social/interpersonal awareness to a degree that feels like magic.)

      4. (Or 1.5) If the standard apply-interview format doesn’t work well for you, you can also investigate or ask about alternative ways of showing your suitability for a job: internship or trial period, work samples, temp-to-permanent, contract/grant or piecework or jobs for which you are overqualified but have room for advancement — depending on what the field lends itself to. You can also use networking a little differently/more intensively than usual, more like what recruiting is supposed to do: ask people who know you professionally, and are established in your target field, to point you to specific jobs that would be a good fit for you and introduce or recommend you to folks who can help you get started there. As a recent grad student, the networking is something your faculty adviser or committee members might be able to help with, if you had good relationships with them.
      I have gotten most of my jobs with the assistance of one of these methods, rather than plain vanilla traditional interviewing.

    9. Useful trick*

      a few times I missed a subtle social cue that I was talking too long in a meeting

      I think I can help you with this, after learning how to overcome this issue myself and helping a few friends do the same:

      Practice common situations in meetings with a timer, and always make sure you’re keeping your responses in the 1-2 minutes range. Even when the topic is very complex and you’d love to continue talking, stick to no more than 2 minutes if you’re one of the key stakeholders in the meeting, and 1 minute if not.

      Example: Someone suggests doing X to solve a problem. You know X will solve the initial problem but create issues Y and Z.

      How to respond: “While this proposal has merit, I feel it’s important to point out that in the past using X lead to Y and Z problems. So if the decision is to go with X, it would be essential to identify countermeasures to handle Y and Z. If anyone wants more background information about these issues, I’ll be happy to [chat more offline / send you reference material after this meeting / expand on this topic when we’re done with the other topics in the agenda].”

      Just having a personal limit for how long to keep talking is way easier than trying to “read the room” or recognize social cues that you’re talking too much!

      If after your initial interaction people want more information, they’ll make it clear by asking you questions or encouraging you to keep talking. When that happens, I reset my internal timer to make sure I don’t go beyond 1-2 minutes expanding my ideas. It’s a fail-proof system to avoid talking too much while still being able to contribute to the conversation.

  30. insert job title here*

    Can you help me brainstorm job titles that are administrative, but sound more senior than Administrative Assistant? My current title is Administrative Assistant, but I’m doing work that is typically not done by people in that job title (e.g. managing multiple projects, advising on relatively high-level office policy). I do not manage staff, and I work at a relatively small nonprofit. I’m thinking of asking my boss to change my title to something that better reflects my role. So far, here are some that I’ve come up with: Office Manager, Operations Coordinator, Administrative Analyst, Office Administrator, Administrative Coordinator.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Before I got to the last line of your post, I was thinking along the lines of Office Manager, Office Administrator, and Administrative Coordinator, but you beat me to all of those!

    2. Generic Name (UK)*

      Business Support Officer and Corporate Support Officer are two titles I’ve seen that could fit the bill

    3. Jennifer Strange*

      I would go with some combination of [Department name] Operations Coordinator/Manager. That’s akin to my current position title and it sounds like you and I may have similar duties.

    4. ZSD*

      Senior administrator?
      I like “Administrative Analyst” best from your list. I’d stay away from “coordinator,” which can indicate an entry-level position at some employers.
      Maybe “senior administrative analyst”?

    5. Joielle*

      We have a person at our office who has duties similar to what you’re doing, and their title is Executive Projects Coordinator. I also like Operations Coordinator though!

    6. Honor Harrington*

      How about “business analyst”? it’s a catch-all title for almost everything from project manager to process and policy design to “check box X on every page.”

    7. Greensboro*

      Beyond this job are you hoping to stay in general administration or move more into the work that your non-profit actually does? I’m trying to gauge if an administration-centric title would matter more to you long-term than one more closely aligned to the mission of the organisation if that makes sense. In the non-profit I work for you might be known as the Administrative Coordinator, Administration Lead, Corporate Services Manager, Business Manager, Business Support Manager or if moving more toward the mission end of things Operations Director, Head of Operations, Assistant Director of Services (we split the actual mission critical activities into those led by the Director of Services and then the more support element is carried out by the Assistant Director of Services).

      1. The Real Fran Fine*

        I like the Business Support Manager title as well. Additionally, there are people at my company who do what OP does, and they are project managers, Operations Directors, and Chiefs of Staff.

    8. Stoppin' by to chat*

      What about Program or Project Manager? Or Business Program Manager? Since you mentioned the project work.

    9. Moonlight*

      What came to mind for me to handle this is creating a list of reasons why you think that your role would do this and also bringing some job ads to your boss that are similar to what you do. You could create a little file of evidence as to why, for example, your role should be operations coordinator with something like this:

      Operations coordinator
      What I do that fits this role
      – Thing
      – Thing
      – Thing
      How much of the role is operations: 75%
      Job ad 1
      Job ad 2
      Job ad 3
      Description of what operations coordinators do, typical pay rates
      Proposal for how it would affect your work (e.g., emphasize if this change would come with an expected pay increase, if you’d keep handling the admin responsibilities with the job, and how this change would affect the organization if you move on, if they’d need to hire a part time administrator to do anything, whatever else may apply)

      That way you can show that you’ve done your research and aren’t just asking because you think that you need a better title just for fanciness’s sake

  31. BFP*

    So, I’ve been very lucky in my career that although I’m in a male-dominated field (finance law), I’ve always worked with a lot of women both on my side and opposing counsel, and so sexism hasn’t really been an issue. But now I’m working on a new deal and I’m the only woman on the team and I keep being left out of emails, and am expected to be the one to send out the checklist (which is a task appropriate for an associate, but it’s admin work that the other male associate has not been asked to do), and having men send emails like “[Boy Attorney], here are the documents you requested on the call,” when I was the one who led the call and Boy Attorney said one sentence. It’s honestly surreal! I’m realizing how good I have it usually, but it also means that I have zero patience for any of this. So…tips for not losing my temper? Or for losing it but professionally?

    1. ZSD*

      Ugh.
      Is “Boy Attorney” on your side in this? That is, has he already made a show of referring people to you when it’s work you’re handling, or would he at least be open to doing so if you talk to him about this problem?
      For the checklist, could you talk with the male associate and suggest that you trade off weeks in which you’ll each send out the checklist? Maybe if leadership sees this happening, they’ll subconsciously get the hint.

    2. Storm in a teapot*

      Maybe reply with a ‘thanks for responding to my request for these documents’
      Super polite but point it out
      When you get tasked with the checklist – pass it to boy attorney with ‘I did last week, your turn this week’.
      Also if your senior is supportive maybe flag it to them and see if they can help challenge this behaviour

    3. looking for a new name*

      Yuk. Yeah, I’d be close to losing my temper professionally :). Admin work suitable for associate – just…don’t? Who is expecting this of you? Disabuse them of that notion immediately! Refer whoever is asking for it to the appropriate admin. If Boy Attorney is OK, talk with him first and get on the same page with this. I’d compose an email to the people who are leaving you off the list. And I’d be billing someone my time for composing/emailing about it! And post an update some time, please!

    4. ErinB*

      It sounds like we work in very similar fields. In similar situations, I’ve been very direct about the email thing: “I note that I was not copied on the last thread regarding the revised contract. Please use this counsel list going forward.”

      In terms of not being acknowledged as leading the call and being asked to take on the checklist, I’ve also decided that offense is better (and easier than defense). I’ll specifically assign someone else the role of sending the checklist (even if it seems a bit forward) or reiterate the documents that I’m (not “we’re”) waiting on – so far no one has pushed back. Does it sometimes feel unnecessary and exhausting? Totally.

    5. The Rain In Spain*

      I try to be very clear about what my role is (and is not). Oh, you need this admin piece? So and so can direct the appropriate person to handle that. You leave me off communications & they have to be forwarded to me? I email the group the next turnaround and add something like “In the future to avoid delay, please be sure to respond to me directly. I know we are all excited to get this finalized asap.”

  32. Office party blues*

    My (fully remote but local) team is having a work lunch next month and I’m nervous about the risk of catching covid or other illnesses, especially since I’ve already been hit hard the last few weeks. My boss is sympathetic, but the reality is that it will be December in Chicago and it will probably be too cold to do it outdoors. Any suggestions for minimizing the risk? I was looking forward to it, but eating in a restaurant seems really risky right now.

    1. rinathin*

      Is there any way you can ask the lunch to be moved somewhere that isn’t a restaurant and get takeout from said restaurant? Rent out some space or maybe someone is willing to host everyone at their house? That wouldn’t necessarily reduce the risk of COVID spreading between you and your coworkers if the space is too small to social distance, but at least you wouldn’t have the additional risk from the waiters and other restaurant patrons.

      1. Three Seagrass*

        Yes, if you can control the space you can better minimize the risk. You can:
        – ask everyone to take a rapid test right beforehand (who wants to catch covid right before the holidays?)
        – open the windows/doors for airflow
        – add an air purifier or two

        You can also try looking for restaurants that have outdoor seating with heaters. They’re a thing in my cold city!

        Or you could eat before and come to the lunch just to socialize, leaving your mask on.

        1. Office party blues*

          That’s what I initially had in mind! But I haven’t found much so far that’s not just an enclosed tent or super expensive.

      2. Office party blues*

        He’d probably be ok with that if I could think of a good place to go (going to someone’s home would be out of step with the office culture). It probably would reduce the risk though, the restaurant we went to last year was packed.

    2. Ann*

      Can you just not go to the lunch? Say you’ll be bowing out since you need to be extra cautious about catching COVID/flu/whatever it is but you hope everyone has a great time? If your boss is sympathetic to this concern, I can’t imagine they would force you to go.

      1. Office party blues*

        I doubt I’d face any official repercussions for skipping, but losing the face time with the team would be a blow, especially as being remote plays to my weaknesses in many ways. I might do as pp suggested and wear a mask if it’s too cold to be outside.

        1. Educator*

          That’s how I have been managing things like this. I go, keep my N95 on, don’t eat or drink, and respond to all questions with “I’m still being careful, but I could not miss the opportunity to see you!”

      2. Rose*

        Yeah I think either skipping the lunch, or eating ahead of time and staying masked is probably the best option. Reality is, most people are “over” Covid precautions – even those who were super cautious before. I took Covid VERY seriously, but at this point with vaccinations (and so many already having Covid), I am back to “normal” for the most part – I will wear a mask at the doctor, on the subway or plane, etc, but I am seeing people, eating in restaurants, etc. If you were in a warmer location I’d say definitely suggest outside…but Chicago, in December…most people are not going to want to shiver (and if the “outside” is tented to the point where it is warm enough – it probably is no better than being inside)

    3. Cyndi*

      I live in Chicago and a ton of restaurants here have outdoor seating with heaters! River North/Gold Coast might be a good neighborhood to look for places–they regularly close down sections of streets for restaurant seating. You might want to do some scouting ahead though on Yelp, because 1) some of them are just one giant tent with tables inside, which is plenty warm but even worse ventilation than eating indoors 2) some places’ heating arrangements are actually warm and some are more…decorative.

    4. Alice*

      Tough situation. I don’t have any other suggestions for safety; I’d use a disposable N95 or an elastomeric respirator if I felt I had to go, and not each or drink while inside.
      I would suggest, for interpersonal reasons, letting at least the host know in advance. You can figure out whether you’re going to order some takeout or just enjoy the company.
      You may want to set expectations in advance with the other participants too. Personally I would want to avoid “so why are you still masking anyway?” as a topic of conversation during the lunch. That’s hard to discuss without going into either super personal details about my health and the health of people in my household, or a fundamental ethical disagreement that makes it hard to keep the relationship friendly.

    5. Cookie*

      I really appreciate the thoughtful answers here as I’m joining a new team at work and just learned that all of their meetings are in person and my first one is in a coffee shop. It’s nice that the rest of the world is “over” covid precautions – I’m not. I like not having postviral sequelae, and I’m not on board with the YOLO sentiment I see expressed in so many forums, this one included (“I am back to ‘normal’ for the most part” etc.) because normal, for me, would not include lifelong organ damage, brain fog, yadda yadda.

      Having seen all of these great ideas, I plan to attend this coffee meetup with a KN95 and get some delicious goodies to go.

      1. v anon rn*

        Serious question, not trying to be antagonistic– given that it doesn’t seem like we’ll ever be able to completely eliminate covid, do you plan to continue with this level of precautions for your entire life? Or is there some lesser (but still non-zero) level of risk you’d be willing to accept and go ‘back to normal’?

        (Again, not trying to be antagonistic. Just curious about where other people’s heads are at on this.)

        1. Office party blues*

          Really? That’s a really out of touch attitude. Do you understand that the rest of our lives may not be very long or very normal if we don’t? This IS her lesser level of risks so she can go back to normal. I’ve been seriously ill this year and want to live again- and the only way that will happen is with precautions until better treatments are available.

          1. Cookie*

            Thanks, OPB. That’s my thinking too.

            If treatment actually cures things like lifelong chronic fatigue, organ damage, etc. I’d certainly be less vigilant. Does treatment do that now? Not that I’m aware of.

            I’m also one of those boring people who wear seatbelts, bicycle helmets, etc. I don’t smoke cigarettes, do base jumping, etc. I just like not hurting myself, as much as I’m able. In the end something is going to get me, but why invite it to start early?

        2. Alice*

          I’m not Cookie, but like them I am still taking precautions that some people in my life think are extreme. I’d like to answer your questions from my perspective.
          First: I agree it’s unlikely that COVID will be eliminated. However, “not eliminated” doesn’t have to mean “uncontrolled.” If the US were keeping transmission as low as Japan, using the same policies Japan uses (look up “the three C’s” if you are interested), I would be thrilled.
          Second: in many respects my life is back to normal. After vaccinations and after getting N95 disposable and elastomeric respirators that fit me well, I am once again going to work in person when I have to, the bookstore, museums, concerts (well, sparsely attended ones at least). I even go inside restaurants to pick up takeout. The difference is just that I’m wearing respiratory protection when I do these things.
          Spending time indoors with other people without masks in periods of high community transmission is not “living life normally.” It’s *pretending* to live life normally and thereby taking on (and inflicting on other people) risk of cognitive dysfunction, endothelial dysfunction, and other COVID sequelae. One can choose to live a COVID-risk-averse lifestyle or a COVID-risk-tolerant lifestyle, but one can’t have a pre-pandemic lifestyle without either accepting some NPIs or accepting higher-than-pre-pandemic risk of death and disability. Normal is gone.
          What level of risk would I accept? Well, a lot goes in to risk. I already mentioned that my personal risk tolerance for indoors in-person interaction would be higher if community transmission were closer to rates in, for example, Japan. But another aspect of risk is the expected downside of a COVID infection. I work in a cognitively demanding profession, and I am single. If I became disabled and unable to do my job, my savings would run out long before the end of my life. If there were a robust social safety net, then the potential financial downside of a COVID infection wouldn’t be so frightening. Similarly, if there were effective treatments for Long COVID and effective prevention of post-COVID heart attacks, strokes, embolisms, etc, then the physical downside of a COVID infection wouldn’t be so frightening.
          For the foreseeable future, I will keep wearing a well-fitting N95 respirator when I am indoors in any place with other people or where other people might recently have been or where other people might soon come (because I don’t want to infect others if I do turn out to get infected myself, precautions notwithstanding). The only exceptions are the dentist’s office and people who have tested negative that day.
          The irony is – if everyone who can wear an N95 did wear one (that fits their face well) in all indoor settings for 3 weeks, the level of community transmission of SARS-CoV-2 would drop like a stone. Hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of transmission chains would be cut off abruptly. From a fluid dynamics/aerosol science perspective, we’re never more than a month away from getting a true handle on the pandemic.
          Of course, from a political/sociological/implementation science perspective, it will never happen.

      2. Roland*

        > I’m not on board with the YOLO sentiment I see expressed in so many forums, this one include

        This feels pretty dismissive. People here aren’t sharing their outlooks to say OP and those like them are wrong, they’re sharing their outlook with the intent to inform their advice. Would you prefer that everyone answered “ask them to sit outside with no walls or tent in Chicago in December”? Regardless of how you feel about COVID (and I’m not saying you’re wrong about your precautions), that simply isn’t advice that is likely to get OP very far. People being honest about their mindset is actually helpful for OP and anyone else to find solutions that will actually work. This comment section tends towards practical advice, not ideal perfectly-fair scenarios that just won’t happen.

        1. Cookie*

          True!

          I’m actually north of Chicago and I liked the suggestions to go where the patio heaters are, but I know not everyone can manage sitting outdoors…you have to dress for it. I liked the idea to just remain masked. Sometimes you can’t change the environment, just your response to it.

    6. Get Your Adverbs Here*

      I don’t remember how to find it, but there is a searchable database of Covid respecting businesses where they ask patrons to mask, have good air filtration, etc. I originally found it through a post on Twitter, but I haven’t used it in months. Generally speaking, indoor dining is still really unsafe according to the docs I follow, sadly. I miss restaurants so much but have vulnerable family members and can’t take a chance. I hope you’re able to stay safe.

    7. allathian*

      This is so tough, because everyone’s risk tolerance is so different. I hope that you’re able to find a solution that works for you.

      Can you ask your boss to schedule a second work lunch when it’s warm enough to eat outdoors without tents that are probably worse from a ventilation point of view than sitting indoors?

      Breaking bread with others is one of the forms of socializing that I’ve missed the most during the pandemic, and I’m so happy that I’m comfortable doing that again. Going to lunch with my coworkers is definitely the high point of my days at the office. If it wasn’t for that, I’d vastly prefer to WFH permanently.

      I had Covid recently, and I realize that I got off lightly. I don’t have any risk factors beyond obesity, and even the additional risk from obesity seems to be lower with omicron than it was with earlier variants. I was sick for about 4 days, and more tired than usual for a few days before and about a month after my diagnosis. I’m currently just about back at my baseline activity level. I’ve been far sicker with the flu and tonsillitis than with Covid, and in fact I was sicker a week ago following my flu and shingles shots than I was at any time with Covid. My husband also got it, but he had so few symptoms that he WFH through it. He was just a bit more tired than usual, and he had a dry cough.

      I’ve decided that I can best protect others by staying at home if I have any symptoms, but the vast majority of people in my area have basically quit wearing masks except for medical appointments, and I feel comfortable doing the same. There was a work event that I couldn’t skip just before I got sick, and while our son was at home with Covid. I suspected I had it, but because I tested negative, I had to attend. I wore a mask throughout and left as soon as it was over.

  33. RealityCheck*

    This is a spin-off from a question asked on the site earlier this week regarding thank-you’s for a raise.

    My previous jobs were with Fortune 50 companies and BigLaw. Now I find myself in a small (@30 employees) start-up that prides itself on being a “family.” (I know, I know!)

    It had not occurred to me for the past 2 years that I should be sending a thank you note to the managing directors for a raise or any bonus. I have sent a thank you for the annual holiday gift (wine, etc). I don’t have a particularly personal relationship with the directors so between that and my previous experience, sending a thank you for a raise seems completely foreign to me, but now I wonder if I have inadvertently been commiting a faux pas? Is this really a thing with small businesses? I like the people I work with but the “family” culture always feels so foreign to me.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      The three comments I found on that post that mentioned small businesses expecting a thank you note/generally acting like regular pay was a personal gift all also said those were bad bosses/companies to work for. So if you’ve never gotten the feeling that the partners at your firm expect a thank you note, and you don’t get the feeling that they expect performative gratitude for them fulfilling the most basic part of the employee/employer relationship (paying you), then I think you’re in the clear.

    2. nnn*

      The answer to that question said thank you notes are NOT expected. Maybe go back and read it again? It was clear it’s not a faux pas.

      1. RealityCheck*

        I did read Alison’s answer, thanks.

        Perhaps I could have been more explicit that I was curious if this is common in small businesses, and if other members of the commentariat had experienced this as well.

    3. EMP*

      Before that letter I had never heard of thank you notes in that context before. I can’t think of any way to figure it out in your company besides asking coworkers, which could be awkward but possibly worth it?

  34. Chirpy*

    Well, found out the new person is already talking about leaving due to my department head. I heard she did get an apology from department head about the getting yelled at (in her case, for things she isn’t good at yet or doesn’t know because she’s new.) I still got a talking to for things not being done because coworker had to leave halfway through her shift, which was shortly before mine ended, so there was no way I could finish everything.

    I don’t even have a question, the answer is I need a new job. I just can’t figure out where to apply because my various skills/degree don’t match up with basically anything.

    1. Mbarr*

      Do you have any opportunities to lean on your network? Just a quiet, “Hey, FYI I’m job hunting. If you know of any roles that could make use of skills X, Y, and Z, let me know.”

      Otherwise, don’t discount being a multi-skilled employee. I’m definitely a Jack of All Trades – I’m not an expert in anything, but I’ve had a variety of roles and tend to help liaise between the tech people and the lay people.

      1. Chirpy*

        My network is largely people in a field I have no interest or qualifications in, and so far has been of zero use. (I have a lot of teacher friends, apparently)

        1. Esmeralda*

          Schools and school systems employ more than teachers and your teacher friends may know about such jobs. Or know someone who knows about those jobs.

    2. ferrina*

      Start by applying to any job that looks interesting and has 70% of your skills match. Talk to friends/relatives/random internet strangers about jobs they’ve done and what skills those jobs required.

      Temping can also be a really good option. It usually requires a BA/BS (any major) and basic computer skills. It can be a good way to get your foot in the door, if that’s an issue.

      Oh, and don’t worry about the degree. Very few people have degrees that line up exactly with what they do. My favorite juxtaposition was a coworker who was data scientist with a graduate degree in music composition.

      1. tessa*

        >Very few people have degrees that line up exactly with what they do.

        Huh. Is there somewhere I can verify that claim?

        1. ferrina*

          Sorry, don’t have studies. It’s an observation/anecdata, and definitely varies by degree (MDs definitely tend to practice medicine). Most of my friends/families have BAs in various social sciences (English, pol sci, sociology, psych) and don’t have a job description that ties directly with their degree, but uses those skills in other ways. The English major that coordinates with non-profits around the state needs great communication skills; the sociology major that does market research needs to know about cultures and people; the religious studies major that became a lawyer….um, I’ll let you draw your own comparison.

          1. Chirpy*

            Science majors aren’t as interchangeable, as far as I can tell. My degree is probably too general for a lot of places.

            1. Librarian of SHIELD*

              Does the college/university you went to have a career counseling department? I had a couple of video chat appointments with someone from my university earlier this year and she was really helpful at brainstorming potential career matches with me. I was feeling the same level of hopelessness you describe here, and now I’m in the final stages of interviewing for a job I didn’t even know existed a few months ago.

            2. Diatryma*

              This is a bit of a stretch perhaps, but I work for a large hospital and we are *begging* for lab techs. At this point, you can become a learn-on-the-job med tech with a degree in any science, really. It’s not ideal for everyone– there are reasons we’re understaffed, and understaffing leads to a spiral of further understaffing– but it pays and has benefits and a large hospital has lots of potential places to find a fit.

      2. Chirpy*

        I can’t temp, because I need a steady paycheck, currently working retail means I have zero savings to cover any gaps. The things that have a 70% skill match are fields with very limited openings.

  35. Shynosaur*

    Been wanting to toss this to the commentariat. I’m relatively new (about 2 years) on a close-knit team, mostly women, who have been working together for 10-30 years, some of them. They are all deeply interested and invested in all the health minutiae of one another, their spouses, their parents, and occasionally children and niblings. I’ve heard more details of more surgeries and medical appointments than I even knew existed.

    I’m an extremely private person and I have next to no medical involvement in my life; I’ve always been pretty healthy and self-sufficient. I’m single, asexual, rarely go out, the whole introverted Millennial nine yards lol. This year I’ve had a shock that I will need to get a fairly invasive surgery that will require several weeks of recovery. It’s all still in the planning stages so I haven’t said anything yet but I know I’m going to have to say *something* and soon because I can’t just vanish for two weeks, no explanation.

    I realized this is going to be an issue a couple months ago when I first told my manager I was taking off for a doctor’s appointment and she excitedly wanted details because this team loves that stuff. She did quickly add I didn’t have to tell her and I said I’d rather not get into it. And I know Alison’s scripts of “just a medical thing I need to get taken care of, no big deal,” but the problem is, with as shy as I am and with as medically gossipy as my team is (and I adore my team, please don’t get me wrong; they are some of the sweetest ladies I’ve known) — when I say “I’d rather not get into it,” I’m going to be a blushing, trembling mess and I’m going to feel so dishonest like I’m “stealing” time off. I’ve always been a person who wants to give too much detail when calling out sick because I don’t want anyone to think I’m flaking out.

    Has anybody had to handle this? What helps? I know legally I’m totally within my rights to just book the time off and say nothing, but mentally, I feel dishonest and shady without giving an explanation, but I also don’t *want* to give the explanation! TIA.

      1. Shynosaur*

        I think they’re just from a different generation and they’ve been working together so closely and so long that they don’t have “normal” boundaries. It’s an even greater contrast because to be honest, I’m weird myself with how private I am. Normal people definitely fall somewhere in between my coworkers’ “I want to hear everything about your mother’s surgery, dear!” and my “embarrassed if anyone finds out I’ve ever needed a doctor in my life” haha.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          Being super into other people’s medical stuff isn’t a generational thing. You’re not wrong the lack of normal boundaries is probably because they’ve been close for a super long time, but that’s still a them-thing.

          1. The Real Fran Fine*

            This. I work with younger people than the ones mentioned here, and they’re all the same way. It’s mind boggling because I don’t need that level of detail for why people are calling out, lol.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      “Just a medical thing I need to get taken care of” is the explanation! They don’t need to know exactly which medical thing, and you don’t want to tell them. For your own mental framing, remind yourself that when you told your boss/eventually tell your coworkers, saying “a medical thing, would rather not get into it” is being upfront and straightforward, not shady and dishonest. In addition to “I’d rather not talk about it,” you can also tell them “I’m a private person” (which they’ve probably picked up on in the last 2 years), and that might help cut down on the questions.

      1. Shynosaur*

        Thanks, that does help. I definitely need to get my brain rewired that I’m not being evasive by not giving details :)

        1. PollyQ*

          This is 1000000% correct. You have every right to keep your medical info private. And if it helps, you can think of it as setting a good precedent for anyone else on the team, current or future, who may also want to preserve their privacy. (Sometimes it’s easier to do things for other people than ourselves.)

          1. ErinB*

            Yes! I sometimes frame it (in my mind) as, “I wouldn’t want [person with less hierarchical power/less social capital] to feel obligated to do this, so I will set this standard.” You get to be private and feel slightly gallant about the whole thing.

        2. Purple Jello*

          And maybe write yourself affirmations to repeat to yourself: I do not need to provide answers to personal information. Or… my medical info is private. And… Even though I like someone doesn’t mean I have to share everything.

    2. ferrina*

      Since these ladies are so sweet, you’re probably fine just saying what you want/need! “I need to get some time off for a medical thing. I really don’t want to talk about it- don’t mind the blushing, I really don’t like talking about it. I’d rather talk about spiders or TPS reports or [INANE TOPIC].”

      They may totally respect that. Just keep saying “I don’t feel like talking about it- it’s just not my thing.”

      1. Shynosaur*

        That’s true! I keep thinking about how I’m nervous and that makes me feel shady when they aren’t likely to push when I say “let’s move on.” I also have a stupid face that turns red at the slightest provocation so they may already be used to that from me lol

      2. MsSolo UK*

        I think maybe “I don’t want to think about it, let alone talk about it! I just want to get the logistics sorted and carry on as usual” in the right tone of voice might help, with a focus (if it’s true) that after the intervention everything is going to return to normal, so there’s no need to dwell on it.

        1. Shynosaur*

          Oh, that is a good one… because it is very, very true! And being true it should be easier to say comfortably. Thanks!

      3. Hillary*

        You can also lean into how they’re helping you by not talking about it. Tell them you’re nervous about the surgery and want their help keeping your mind on other things, which might even be true.

        This sounds like a group that may also try to help take care of you when they find out – this can give them a place to focus their energy that isn’t a meal train.

        1. Not that kind of doctor*

          This is exactly what I was going to recommend. You can throw them the bone of emotional honesty and giving them something they can do to help – i.e., help distract you – without giving any actual facts. For example, “I’m nervous enough about it / sick of thinking about it, I’m so grateful I can just come to work and be with you all like normal.”

          1. Shynosaur*

            That will be really helpful, both of you. You’re absolutely right about them wanting to help if they get too much info–shortly after I joined the team, I had to have some dental surgery, and one of them privately messaged me “just let me know if you need any rides or anything.” I assured her I had it worked out but it’s sweet to know somebody’s got your back–and even sweeter not to have to take them up on it ;)

    3. Lemon Zinger*

      Don’t give an explanation. Use Alison’s line and repeat as necessary. They will get it. I’ve been in this situation myself.

    4. Rose*

      I work on a small, close-knit team with people who I consider friends as much as co-workers (I know, I know). So there is a lot of medical and other personal sharing. As someone who is single, my co-workers are the people I “see” (we are remote, so via slack and zoom) every day. I have recently had several medical scares, and being able to be open about it has been a lifesaver for me. But, I realize it is not for everyone. And I definitely would not pry or hold it against anyone who opted NOT to share. If these women are decent humans (which it sounds like they are), you are probably more than fine to leave it at “medical things I’d rather not discuss”

    5. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      You can do this!!!!!!! Something that has helped me with similar anxieties is Decatastrophisizing. There’s a really good worksheet on therapyaid.com or you could just google! Your mileage may vary, but it’s been so helpful to me.

    6. Alice*

      Scary situation, good luck with your health!
      To be honest, with the manager quickly saying you don’t have to tell her, it sounds like your feeling of dishonesty is something that is coming (inaccurately) from you, not from the others. So there’s not really any change that you need to ask them for on that point. You are not doing anything wrong by taking time off for surgery!

      Suggestions:
      Don’t share any more info that you want to share or with anyone you don’t want it shared with.
      Do go to your boss right away if anyone pushes for more info.
      Consider telling the team proactively, “I love our positive relationships. At the same time, I’m really private, and the best way to suppport me during this unspecified health challenge is to respect my privacy. I appreciate it!” I bet some of them work off of the golden rule (treat others how you want to be treated, ie with lots of info sharing) instead of the… what do people call it? The platinum rule, ie, treat others how *they* want to be treated. So, tell them explicitly what you want :)

      When you say something that you feel awkward about, add in a transition to a subject you can talk about instead.
      Coworker: Are you nervous about your surgery?
      You: As you know I’m very private. I don’t want to talk about my health. Lately I’ve been reading a lot, though. Do you have any suggestions?

    7. CeeEff*

      I recently had surgery and was off for two weeks, which is an eternity in my job. My coworkers were all up in my grill about what I was out for. I simply said I had to have surgery, but I’m fine now and everything is good. Would a similar method work for you?

      “I have some private medical procedures happening and will need a few weeks of recovery, but I should be back by Xdate and ready to go!”

    8. Irish Teacher*

      Could you give a simplified version? When I had surgery for thyroid cancer, I told most of my colleagues that I was getting my thyroid removed as there was a cyst on it that could cause problems if it pressed on my windpipe or voicebox. And only gave the last part to those who asked. Most people just got “I have to have my thyroid removed.” This was partly to avoid worrying people unnecessarily. Cancer sounds way more serious than my situation was, thankfully. And partly to avoid the gossipy people making a huge fuss.

    9. RagingADHD*

      It is also totally okay to say, “It’s embarrassing and I don’t want to talk about it.”

      They can see you’re embarrassed. You won’t be revealing a secret or anything. But it also implicitly asks them to respect your feelings on the matter. If they are nice people they will back off.

      If they are jerks, they will be pushy. But then you will know for sure they are jerks, and while that is disappointing to discover, the freedom is that you don’t have to care what jerks think.

  36. Moonlight*

    I have autism and I have noticed that the hiring process is really not neurodivergent friendly.

    For example here are a few issues.

    1) I am a good writer, but tend toward more straight forward types of writing. It often leaves me wondering if my resume and cover letters are technically correct, but miss some kind of persuasive writing that would get me more interviews

    2) I spend a lot of time masking when I do get interviews. This includes trying to make sure I have the right facial expressions, that I show that am interested but not too interested, and trying to make sure I only talk the “right” amount, whatever that means cause I don’t know.

    3) when I do get hired, I consistently get good reviews, people generally seem to like me etc. but I sometimes miss social cues (e.g., that someone doesn’t really want to be talking to me and for some reason they seem to think it is rude to tell me they’re too busy to talk to me, or sometimes talking for too long in a meeting; these aren’t things that happen frequently because once I learned about it, I tried to pay attention, but it just feels like more ways I have to “mask” at work).

    I can theoretically ask for accommodations, but honestly, I don’t think “can you make sure your interviewer’s understand autism and best practices for inclusive hiring practices” is an accommodation. It should just be a thing, but it’s honestly not common. Moreover, I don’t like outing myself as neurodivergent because otherwise people who barely know me might think there will be issues with communication, building relationships, etc. in a line of work where those things really matter. For the record, I am funny, smart, great at communicating, clients typically like me, but I know I might just seem “odd” to people.

    1. Educator*

      As a hiring manager who is very grateful for the skills of the neurodivergent folks on my team, I would say:

      1) Find someone you trust to proofread your cover letters specifically for subtext and tone. Everyone should have a cover letter reviewer because it is such an important part of your first impression–I am so grateful to mine!

      2/3) I would try to let a little of the masking go. When I am in an interview, I want to get a sense of what the person is actually like and why they are a good fit for the job. I’m not secretly looking for someone to help me manage social dynamics at black tie events. The hiring manager you want to be hired by will be focused less on social cues and more on the content of your answers. Honestly, odd does not bother me. I do appreciate it when people tell me what they need–no diagnosis required. If someone says “Do you mind chatting socially for a minute, or are you moving on to your next task?” or “Will you jump in if I go on for too long about x topic in this meeting?” I am happy to answer honestly.

      More and more managers are focusing on inclusive hiring practices. I absolutely hate that not all of them are, and that this is still a thing in 2022. But you honestly sound like someone I would be thrilled to hire–a good communicator, self-aware, and with a track record of good reviews.

    2. matcha123*

      For your first point, if it would make you feel better, perhaps you can get feedback from a few trusted friends?
      I tend to downplay what I’ve done, and I’ve had coworkers tell me to emphasize points I thought weren’t all that important.

      For your second point, I do the same and as far as I know I am not autistic. When I am concentrating on something I know that I have a hard time looking the part of the attentively listening person. Not to dismiss your feelings, but please know that a lot of people are in the same boat and good interviewers know that most people are pretty nervous during interviews. They also know that a super “polished” interviewee might not translate into a great fit.

      And for your last one, I’ve had many times myself when I’ve thought “I should probably stop talking here” or “I kinda wish the other person would stop talking.” And this is with people I enjoy having a chat with!
      What helps is to be mindful of time. And if you think “I don’t know when 5 minutes has passed!” my suggestion would be to check the times (either when you start a chat or end one) and get your body to start remembering how 5 minutes feels.
      I know you wrote that you want other people to tell you, but that’s also putting work on them. For example, as a racial minority, I have to also think about how I come off to white colleagues. If I seem too strict about a chat, they may see that as extremely unfriendly, whereas with a white colleague they may just say “ok.”

      I am also from the midwest where reading the room is a huge part of the culture. While it’s fine to mention to people that they can cut you off, I think you should also be mindful that some people were raised not to cut people off.

      I am sure most people I work with see me as “odd.” I am forever single. I don’t lament about dating or finding a husband. I spend a lot of my free time at home. And a bunch of other stuff. People can be pretty fine with “odd” or whatever if you make an effort to be friendly in other ways and are on the ball with work. I used to worry about that a lot more than I do now and in reality, most people don’t care as much as I think they do.

    3. Student*

      The hiring process is not friendly to any interviewee – it’s friendly to employers. Neurotypicals also go through exactly what you’ve described for #1 and #2.

      I’m hard-of-hearing. Most people can hear much better than I can. Most hiring committees are going to assume I can hear normally, unless I tell them I have a problem and ask them for any accommodation I need. I don’t think every hiring committee should act as if every interviewee might have hearing problems.

      Similarly, I think it’s a stretch to expect hiring committees to conduct every interview as if the interviewee was autistic.

      If I tell them I have hearing problems and ask for some specific accommodations, I think it’s reasonable to expect them to work with me (and I fear that I might get discriminated against, too). Similarly, I think you are going to have to come to interviews prepared to disclose your autistic status to get accommodations, if you need them, and be prepared to ask for specific, reasonable accommodations that help you.

  37. Dino*

    Has anyone experienced Workers Compensation retaliation? If so, what did that look like? How did you know it was retaliation? How did it resolve?

    I’m on Workers Comp (suggested by our VP of HR as it’s “clearly work related” according to them) and it’s been a nightmare ever since. Because of my work location the company isn’t able to use their outside vendor that handles WC and is having to handle it in-house. I’m trying to figure out if the way this has gone is the result of incompetence or malice/retaliation.

    (The answer to either one is “get out get out”, but for career advancement reasons I have incentive to stay with this company for at least another 6 months.)

    Thank you in advance to anyone who shares.

    1. Moonloght*

      It sounds like you have the support of the VP and someone in HR. Can you express your concerns regarding how it was handled and let them know that you’re just unsure if it’s just not being handled as well as expect for some reason or if it’s retaliation? Or is there someone external you can consult?

    2. PollyQ*

      having to handle it in-house

      This makes me strongly suspect it’s incompetence, but can you give more details about what’s going on?

      1. Dino*

        I’m trying to keep it vague for privacy reasons, but essentially the same person who suggested WC is now the only person I can talk to about any of it and I don’t get answers to my questions. When I’ve tried to contact my manager or grand boss, I get shunted back to the one person with “she’s the only person who knows anything about WC so I can’t help you, but just ask her your questions!” I got cleared to return to work with easy to accommodate restrictions weeks ago, and still haven’t been allowed to come to work because that one HR person is “checking on things”.

        I’m concerned about retaliation because I have high health insurance utilization/multiple disabilities and have reported some unsafe practices to the state in the past. I was also approved for FMLA in the past, and while I’ve been off on WC got notification that they closed my FMLA, supposedly for lack of documentation when I know my doctor submitted it.

        So… things are f*cky and I can’t tell what is what, or why this is happening.

        1. PollyQ*

          Yeah, I can see why you’re concerned. Any of those individually could be busyness/incompetence/lack of expertise on the part of someone, but all of them together might be something else. I’m especially worried about the way your boss & grand-boss are declining to help put pressure on HR.

          That said, I think my advice is going to be the same, which is to keep pushing on the HR VP and also to try explicitly saying something like, “Boss, I understand that the WC stuff is out of your expertise, but could you help me by encouraging VP to address this sooner rather than later? I’m very eager to come back and start working with you all again.”

          You could probably also get a free consult with a WC lawyer if you want some clarity on what your rights are and what your legal options might be.

            1. 1LFTW*

              I’m currently in a somewhat similar situation, and I don’t have any advice, just internet solidarity hugs if you want them. It sucks and I’m sorry.

  38. Tuckerman*

    Does anyone have tips for optimizing resume/CL for applicant tracking systems? I recently learned there’s been a shift to submitting in Word doc format because PDF format is not always readable by these systems, so no keywords are picked up.

    1. rinathin*

      The classic trick I keep hearing is to just copy-paste the job description into the bottom of your resume/etc in white, tiny font. No human will ever see it (unless they’re smart and ctrl+A to highlight the entire document), but the algorithm or whatever sees all the keywords in the job description.

      1. Annie Moose*

        My understanding is that many tracking systems will pull your resume into the system in their own format. In this case, this would be a bad idea, as it’d be really obvious what you did when your resume is reviewed!

      2. MsSolo UK*

        Most tracking systems will convert all of the text to visible (often to an easy to read format for the user) so this will become very visible very quickly. Plus, hiring managers know about it, and it creates a very negative first impression.

      3. The Prettiest Curse*

        There was a Buzzfeed article about that technique this week. (I’ll post the link in a separate reply.) This trick will apparently get you past initial screening, but will then get you automatically rejected.

    2. Jujyfruits*

      Whoever told you that is misinformed. If the system accepts a PDF, you can upload one. ATS are digital filing cabinets and have been parsing PDFs for years.

  39. Huh*

    Not really a question, because I handled it, but it was an interesting moment.

    I’m a new manager, about six weeks in. One of my reports is a part time salesperson that is on contract-she can come and go as she pleases and we do not track her time. Her husband has been very ill, and she has essentially taken a leave of absence (though, again, we don’t track her time at all). I sent her a text the other day, just checking in and letting her know if she needed anything from us to let me know. I know she has been staying at the hospital a lot, and so I offered to drop something off there or at her home if she needed something from the store.

    She replied saying she “could use a girl’s night,” and that she wanted to get to know me better anyway, what time could I come over? That’s not the answer I was expecting.

    1. ferrina*

      That is….so weird. It sounds like you’re not friends out of work, so it’s a strange way to try to make that leap. I’d assume she’s having a really off day and kindly bow out because you’re “busy”.

      This sounds so tough, and it sounds like you’re being really supportive as a manager.

      1. Huh*

        I told her that I did have plans that evening, but also it wouldn’t be appropriate as her manager for me to have a girl’s night. I told her I would support her in any other way. I think (hope) that is good. She seemed very gracious.

    2. CharlieBrown*

      I’m curious as to how you handled this! This was definitely not what I was expecting, either.

    3. lost academic*

      I can understand how it wasn’t what you were expecting but you made a text overture about a non work related question and offer, so it was interpreted as a social engagement level offer. It was responded to on that level. If you want to realign the understanding of your position from your text and your intentions, then you can respond with “sorry, that’s not something that would work for me tonight, but {work specific only follow up}” and then be careful to keep your communications work specific including the timing and method. I don’t know your field so maybe text communication is typical and normal but it could have allowed for part of the misunderstanding too.

      1. Huh*

        It is very typical in my field. We are also a very small family-owned business (I’d been here for years and left for six months and she came during that time. I was brought back in September as manager), and it would be out of the ordinary for our business not to offer some sort of help. Especially with COVID thoughts still lingering, we all did porch drop offs and the like for one another.

      2. fhqwhgads*

        It didn’t sound at all like a social engagement offer to me. It was a “go-fer” offer. The recipient is the one who tried to turn it into a social engagement thing rather than an errand.

    4. Dinwar*

      My guess is she’s burnt out caring for her husband and needs a chance to relax. It’s probably not something personal, more an “Any port in a storm” situation. People often drastically under-estimate the amount of self-care necessary to be a caregiver during a long-term illness, and society has traditionally looked down on people engaging in self-care while they’re a caregiver. That’s fortunately starting to change, but we haven’t as a culture really figured it out yet.

    5. RagingADHD*

      Oh, that immediately makes me think she is not doing well with the situation at all. It sounds like she was day drinking.

      It was nice of you to check in and I hope things turn out well for her and her husband.

    6. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      You could also offer to do a business hours coffee or lunch meeting — a little less intimate than a girl’s night, but scratches the same “I just need to be out of the hospital” urge. Have a tiny agenda that’s work related, then just spend time in collegial conversation.

  40. Johanna Cabal*

    Has anyone had a Sterling background check performed on them by a new employer? Generally, how long does it take?

    I will likely be accepting an offer on Monday and the background check with Sterling will follow. It will include education and employment verification and criminal background check. I hear so many horror stories of background check issues delaying start dates, and I do not want to give notice until I am fully cleared. For one, the degrees are under my previous name (and I recognize I will be giving them that info) and two of my past employers have been purchased by larger firms (and one of those firms fired me after three months for poor fit).

    1. Minimal Pear*

      I believe that’s the company one of my old jobs used, and it didn’t take long at all. Admittedly, it’s not like there was much for them to look through! I have a unique name so it’s easy to get the right person, and I don’t drive and have never been caught doing crimes, etc etc.

  41. JustaTech*

    Has anyone had the experience of their leave-administration company changing in the middle of their leave of absence?

    I’m getting ready to go on maternity leave (35 weeks and counting!) and I just found out that my company will be switching the company that administers our extended leave-of-absences (maternity, short term disability and long term disability). And of course, this will happen while I am already out on leave and won’t have access to my work email or to ADP (which is where all the links to the sites of the companies that our HR partners with reside). (While we are on medical leave we’re technically no longer employees of our company, I guess to keep people from being asked to work during their leave?)

    I’m trying to get a hold of my HR person to see how this is going to work, but since he hasn’t gotten back to me, has anyone else had this experience?
    Will leave roll over neatly from one company to another, or will I have to do all the intake forms again? I’m worried about my ability to complete these complex forms when I’m going to be completely exhausted and sleep deprived.

    1. ScruffyInternHerder*

      Suggestion is to make sure that HR takes these questions to the person at the leave administration company that can answer them authoritatively and in writing.

      This is because when I was expecting Small-Scruff, little company that I worked for announced that they’d be switching leave providing insurance company. Salesman said that there would be no issue. Our HR lead got ahold of the new company and got an authoratitive “there’s absolutely no way to do this, we won’t switch her over until she’s back from leave” from them. Because it would have left me completely and entirely without leave.

      1. JustaTech*

        I talked to the folks at the leave company we have now and they said that even when the switch over happens they will stay as my providers, since the new company would consider it a “pre-existing” condition.

        Now I just need confirmation from my HR guy, who is a little hard to catch because he serves two sites so he’s always on the road. (At least he actually comes here, unlike the last time we had an off-site HR person who was literally an email black hole that never interacted with anyone.)

  42. Mbarr*

    I’m nervous – I’m signed up for a one day company-paid course about learning how to grow your professional network. They sent us a questionnaire that gauges are current ability to network… And all my answers were dismal.

    I’m an outgoing person, but I always have a sense of, “Oh, I don’t want to bother so-and-so” when it comes to needing help. I’m also a person who often worries about asking dumb questions. I think part of the problem is that when I joined this company, I was in way over my head. Now, I’m in a role where I don’t neeeeed to know what the company does. It’s like providing specialized IT support to engineers. It doesn’t matter what the engineers are making, as long as they have excel working properly. So I’ve zoned out on what most of my fellow employees do.

    1. ferrina*

      Ask the dumb questions! Part of my job is answering dumb questions, and most questions aren’t actually dumb (I can count on one hand the dumb questions I’ve gotten). Often the questions tell me where the information gaps are in my company.

      Honestly, just saying “sorry if this is a dumb question, but can you tell me about….?” is an excellent way to start a conversation. Most people are delighted to have the chance to talk about what they do- including/especially engineers. Most people love to have a chance to help others, and really appreciate being seeing as an SME that you’d reach out to for help.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Look on the bright side: you won’t be bored during the course, because this is all new material for you!

      The course is there to help you become a better at networking, so pay attention during the course and make an effort to put some of the things you learned into practice after the course. Save a copy of the questionnaire if you can, and set a reminder for yourself to re-take it in about six months. Hopefully you’ll be able to see your progress and feel better about your networking skills.

    3. Educator*

      I run a lot of trainings and sometimes send out questionaries like this ahead of time because I genuinely want to know where people are with the skills I am going to teach. It’s not a judgement, just an effort to meet my learners where they are so no one is board or overwhelmed during the class itself. If you answered it honestly, you have set yourself up for success.

  43. Adding staff adds no capacity*

    I need a gut check on the way my organization runs, because I feel like something must be wrong. We have added several new staff members this year, but it doesn’t seem like our capacity has gone up at all. It used to be that three people sat in on a certain meeting, and now four people do – or, for example, my work involves sending a bunch of documents to clients – and now instead of two people, my boss and I, discussing these documents, a third person also discusses them with us. Sometimes the third person makes more suggestions, which is nice, I guess, but honestly it sometimes just adds to the “who’s one first” confusion; I think we were maybe more efficient with two. Is there a better way to approach this if I’m ever in charge, or is this just how it is?

    1. ferrina*

      When did the new staff members join? It’s pretty common to have a 3-6 month onboarding period where they are still learning the ropes. Even if they are good at a couple basic tasks, they aren’t fully independent yet and need a lot of support/questions.

      There can also be an issue of delegating responsibility to new staff. I’ve been at companies that don’t actually tell new hires what to own- they just expect the new hires to figure it out. That is not a good way of operating. Presumably this position was created for a reason, so what do you need this position to do? What do you want this role to achieve at 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? 3 years? Tell the person what the goal is, what they own, who they work with and what those people own. That way the person isn’t trying to feel it out for themselves- they already know the structure and how they fit into it, and they can grow from there.

      People are most creative and ready to grow and be effective when they feel like they have a strong transparent support structure around them. Making clear what the rules/expectations are and why is helpful in any circumstance

    2. bicality*

      You have my sympathies. IME it really came down to role delineation and clear delegation of duties, but that can be easier said than done especially if it requires someone to give up a former duty of theirs. The transition can be clunky.

  44. Anon for this one*

    Would anyone on the spectrum be willing to speak a little about your experiences moving into roles that involve more socializing and human interaction?

    The quality of my work is excellent, but I am laughably bad at eye contact and small talk and all the “soft skills” and I find meetings very draining. I don’t want this to be career-limiting, but I suspect it might be, as the next step up for me in my field would be into a more managerial role: no direct reports but increased face-time with folks and a lot of inter-departmental liaising. Does anyone have any advice for how to navigate this?

    1. Cayman Islands*

      Practice, practice, practice. You might never turn on the charm like a presidential candidate, but you can get a little better in some areas and maybe a lot better in others.

      Some things that worked for me:
      I practiced small talk in lines at the grocery store.
      I would identify people who seemed to be particularly socially adroit and learn from them.
      I started paying attention to which situations I was comfortable in and which ones really left me floundering and tried to identify why I was comfortable/floundering so I could address the right things.

      The most important thing to learn to be less bothered when you flop, and to get very comfortable with being uncomfortable.

    2. Moonlight*

      I am the commenter who commented above about my struggles with the hiring process as a person on the spectrum.

      However, I always work in roles that require a fair bit of socializing. I have a few tricks that help me, I’m happy to share and you’re welcome to determine what, if any, of them work for your context.

      1. I don’t do a lot at home; I find it draining to socialize outside of work more than once a week or so. If I don’t spend time with friends for several weeks, it’s ok. My husband is extremely introverted, so our home is a perfect place for us to recharge and get that quiet time we need. This may or may not work for you (e.g., if you live with louder family)

      2. Honestly, I try to email as much as I can; obviously this doesn’t work for everyone or every situation, but let’s say I just need to send a report or just need some information, I’d rather write up an explanation of the report/what I need and email it (or insert other examples where email would be appropriate) and if the other person wants to chat about it then so be it, but it can help me to catch a break if I am feeling overstimulated by the social contact.

      3. I try not to have too many meetings back to back. This obviously isn’t possible all the time though; I work in a role where there might be A LOT of meetings one week, and in that case I just do a lot to take care of myself afterwards.

      4. (This on on the small talk point). Obviously, the experience will be different for everyone; as far as it goes, I actually like talking to people, like working with people etc.; for me, the social stuff tends to be in managing my own social skills. For example, I also don’t excel at small talk but I love having intense, complex, detailed, or nuanced conversations with people (bear in mind, that this might literally be about someone’s family, Star Wars, or a work topic), but I know that it goes a long way to have that quick conversation as you pass someone where you go “hi how are you? good how are you? good”, but not getting into some big conversation with them… this is a tough one though because I also want to argue that small talk shouldn’t be an expectation.

      I could go on. I guess it’s tough. What works for one of us doesn’t work for all of us, you know? I know that, for me, having my home set up so I can recharge, and having small ways to get some “alone” time is helpful, and I know that I wouldn’t take a job that was more than 50% socialization. I hope you can find strategies too.

    3. SimonTheGreyWarden*

      I have ADHD, not autism, but have the same limits on eye contact and small talk and some soft skills. I’m now in a more recruiter-adjacent role (not for a business, for higher ed) and it is exhausting. I’m sorry I don’t have advice but I can commiserate.

  45. Miss Bookworm*

    What are acceptable hours to schedule an interview?

    Background: my company was purchased by a much larger corporation about 3-4 years ago. They mostly left us alone (other than very minor changes like bringing us under their much better benefits package) until this year. Now we’re falling under even more of their procedures, including that all our hiring has to go their “talent aquisitions” team. They do all the initial steps, while we’re only involved for a formal interview (which they schedule for us). Their scheduling of these interviews has been a bit ridiculous, particularly one coming up on Monday. Our standard work hours are 8am-5pm (with lunch) but some of us (like me) are allowed to work 7am-4pm instead because we aren’t customer facing. Talent Aquisitions knows this, and is in the same time zone, but is consistently scheduling these interviews for 5pm or later (including this one on Monday). I’m thinking this is to accommodate the interviewee so they don’t have to miss work, but it’s seriously impacting things for me. We desperately need this admin support, so I keep feeling like I need to accommodate this instead of pushing back and asking for earlier interview times (especially when the interview is already scheduled). I’m also salary/exempt so I don’t get overtime for this and I’m not allowed to comp time either.

    So, what is reasonable? How do I push back? Thanks!

    1. WellRed*

      I would go at it from the angle that they don’t realize your schedule is 7 to 4 and Of Course you can’t interview at 5.

      1. ferrina*

        Ditto. It’s very reasonable for them to schedule this during your work hours, or if they need an exception, to tell you that they need an exception (and to use that sparingly).

    2. The teapots are on fire*

      Come in late and take a longer lunch and if anyone asks, call it “shifting your schedule.” Obviously not at all the same as comp time.

      1. The Real Fran Fine*

        Yeah, that’s called flex time everywhere I’ve ever worked, and that’s totally different than comp time (where you can make up the time on another day).

    3. Annie Moose*

      Isn’t it more likely that they’re scheduling the interviews later for the benefit of the candidates, who may well be working fulltime jobs already?

      Either way, you definitely can’t ask them to reschedule interviews candidates have already agreed to, certainly not one in only a couple of days (!!!). The candidate probably has already arranged their schedule to account for the interview time, so pushing it an hour earlier could be a pretty big disruption. I think you definitely could ask if it’s possible to schedule future ones earlier, though. You’d know your company best–but just going “hey, is it possible to schedule some of these interviews for 4 PM? It would fit better with my work schedule most days” seems like a reasonable ask.

    4. RagingADHD*

      In general, I’d consider anytime 8-5 to be a reasonable time for an interview, with most candidates preferring to have them close to 8, 12, or 5 to minimize disruption to their own workday.

      But if it doesn’t work for you, it doesn’t. That doesn’t mean anyone is doing anything “unacceptable.” Just tell Talent Acquisition that you can’t stay past 4 and let them work it out.

  46. Mbarr*

    A couple of months ago, I asked for advice on how not to hate the Village Idiot on my team. Y’all provided great advice (ahem, including not referring to them as the Village Idiot anymore, even in my head). I was, uh, not as successful as I should have been at that part.

    It doesn’t matter now – they’ve announced their resignation after 6ish months at our company. I might have fist pumped when I heard the news.

  47. Quality Girl*

    I officially decided to attempt a career change this week. Wish me luck! I’m attempting to go from healthcare to environmental/climate… so I’ll need a lot of luck! Anyone in those spaces need a technical writer or coordinator?? :)

    1. All het up about it*