open thread – January 13-14, 2023

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.

{ 1,024 comments… read them below }

  1. Sunflower*

    Is it reasonable to ask for a COL adjustment/raise at my review if I’ve been here just shy of a year?

    I started my job May 1. Our self evaluations and peer feedback are due Jan 31. Boss writes my review by March 31 and conversations happen in April. By the time the convo happens, I will have been at my job for 11 months and may not be eligible for another COL adjustment essentially 2 years after I started. Our comp structure gives us a sign on bonus for year 1 and 2 with year 1 being slightly more. I am not sure if that is to accommodate for the fact that most people do not get COL increases at their first review.

    This job was a big increase from my last job so I’m not hard up but I don’t want that to cloud what is fair. I work at a very large company that has already conducted layoffs and more are coming (I assume before the review) so I also don’t want to seem OOT. If I am offered nothing, would it fair to come back with an ask of a small, one-time ‘bonus’? FWIW- in the case I hear no one is getting increases due to recession, I won’t push anything.

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      I think it would be reasonable to ask for clarification. Perhaps ask during your convo with the boss (if decisions won’t have been made yet) or earlier if the convo with boss is just to inform you of your raise.

      “By the time our convo happens, I will have been at my job for 11 months and may not be eligible for another COL adjustment essentially 2 years after I started. I am wondering if I may be eligible at that time or is this not something that would be on the table?”

      1. Anon the Fed*

        I agree with this – before getting into specifics, ask if it’s possible, and if not, what the rationale is, so that you can plan ahead.

    2. JustMyImagination*

      Are you positive you don’t get a salary increase at your review? My company gives raises out at the annual review for anyone at the company for more than 6 months.

      1. Sunflower*

        My coworkers who started in July and August the previous year did not receive them at their first one. It’s possible the ‘review’ only covers the calendar year in which they would have been under the 6 month mark but I’d be over that.

    3. MigraineMonth*

      If the option is between a bonus now and a salary raise in the future, I’d opt for the latter (even with layoffs happening, which must be very stressful!). At least in my company, our COL/raises are calculated as a percentage of the base salary, so the amount of future raises is affected by this year’s raise.

      (This is also why it’s really important to negotiate starting salary, since inequities compound over time.)

    4. Ormond Sackler*

      I know this isn’t what you are asking, but that review schedule is the same one as my previous job and it makes the review process pointless to have the previous year’s review done nearly a quarter of the way through the next year.

    5. Bad Wolf*

      I don’t think there’s enough information here. You are making assumptions about COL increase schedule& raise schedule that you haven’t been explicit about.

      What do you understand the COL adjustment cycle to be?
      Does your company actually give COL adjustments? Or do they just give merit-based raises?
      Are these separate processes?

      Where I work if you are in your probationary period during the annual raise cycle, you do not get a raise then. At the end of your probationary period (6 months) you get a review and a raise that is basically prorata for the performance period. Then you are included in the next regular annual raise cycle. Someone who is 11 months in would be a part of our regular raise cycle – would receive a performance review in the regular annual window and a raise accordingly.

      1. Loulou*

        Good Q’s. I don’t understand why a COL increase would be tied to a performance review — inflation happens whether OP’s performance merits it or not!

        1. Cyndi*

          I don’t know if this is the case at OP’s company, but mine does this. We get COL increases across a range, last year I think it was 2-4%, but where yours falls in the range depends on your performance. I’m not saying it’s adequate, logical, or ethical! But that’s how it’s done.

          1. Momma Bear*

            That’s how we do it. Baseline x percent, but you might *also* get a merit increase as well. I am personally fine with this because if the company is doing well, everyone benefits, but those who stood out get rewarded for that, too. I had a job where they didn’t give any kind of raise unless you begged for it, which I found irritating. I had stellar reviews…and the same salary.

            I also agree with the advice to go for the long-term COL increase over a bonus. I had a one-time bonus that was nice BUT since it was a bonus, it was heavily taxed and it didn’t do anything to my salary since it was a one-off event vs a longer term improvement.

        2. TechWorker*

          Some companies (mine included) make a big deal out of salaries being tied to ‘cost of labour’ not cost of living. So they’ll put up wages if everyone else has done first, but not before that…

    6. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      Is there an employee handbook or someplace on your internal websites that spell out annual increases? I’d look there since it’s a large company.

      I’d start there and if that doesn’t have anything that clarifies it, then just wait and see what happens. If you don’t get an increase I would
      first ask if the sign on bonus is to make up for that, although sign on bonuses typically are for retention purposes.

    7. Purple Cat*

      Most companies I have worked at, including switching roles in August, Merit increases were prorated based on time in the position. So if my raise was supposed to be 12% (I wish, easy math) due to only starting in August, the raise was 5%.
      This should have been spelled out in your offer letter and match an employee handbook (if your org has one).
      Definitely push back and ask again though.

    8. Yes And*

      One practice I have seen and encouraged clients to adopt is, when COL adjustments happen company-wide at a particular time of year, to pro-rate the adjustment for people who have been there less than a year. So, if the company was giving 4% adjustments, someone who had been there 6 months would get 2%, someone who had been there 9 months would get 3%, etc. That way, it “normalizes” COL adjustments to the company’s schedule without penalizing or rewarding people for the luck of when they started.

  2. Hmmmmm*

    In the summer I asked a question here. I have quite severe Long Covid, and want to gently start training into a desk-based job. (I can’t imagine ever going back to the fairly physical career I had before.) I asked here about both software development and copywriting as careers. The responses were so helpful.

    I quickly decided that copywriting is not for me just now. I did a bit of coding training and found it rejuvenating and fascinating, as I think most beginner coders do!?! Parallel to that, I researched other jobs in tech, and found out that UX Design is a really excellent match for my existing (non-tech) skills – because in my career up til now, I’ve been *obsessed* with research and planning and iterating to make experiences (live rather than digital) more accessible, welcoming and useful for users. I got excited about UX Design.

    However… After months of thinking “this is IT!” and doing some UI training to get a feel for design software, I’m sad to say that I have my doubts about UX Design as a good career for me, and I’d be very grateful for your opinions:

    – I’ve heard that there are hardly any part time UX Design jobs. All my career so far I’ve been able to alternate p/t with f/t work. I think I’d burn out in a permanently f/t career. What do you think – is UX Design simply a full time world, especially for the first few years?

    – I wonder if the job market is insanely competitive for junior UX-ers and if it’s unrealistic to get into it. I’m in the UK, in a city outside of London.

    – I watched a video of this guy saying, basically, “don’t get into UX if you want to do good, because it’s ALL about manipulating people to buy more”. Is that true? I like people and I passionately want to make everyday lives easier. I love design that makes things easier. A bit of moral compromise at work is inevitable, but ultimately my purpose in life is helping people out. Is it unrealistic to expect to find enough of that kind of work within UX?

    – And lastly….and importantly…when I was doing the UI training I spent a lot of time sitting in front of a monitor using Figma, farting away doing fiddly things to try and execute theoretical design principles, and I found it…so boring it was draining. Admittedly it was an artificial student situation – there was no client, so no human purpose or human connection, and I know that that would be different in real life UX work. But I felt uninterested in the software for itself, to the extent that learning it drained me. Do UX designers spend a LOT of time in figma (or whatever software they’re using)? That might not be for me, sadly. (It’s not that I’m not technical – I enjoyed my time learning coding, even though there was no client there either. But coding had internal satisfaction for me whereas for some reason using Figma felt static, cold, fiddly.)

    Ps. And as for software development – which I’m still mulling over, though tbh I’m not as drawn to it as I am to UX – Is software development basically a full-time-job world too?

    THANK YOU for any thoughts, I am grateful to be able to ask here.

    1. Colette*

      The UX designers I’ve worked with have been helpful in making the site better to use. That helps people – but it also makes it easier for them to use the site to buy stuff. But I think there is some variation there.

      As far as software development, I’m sure it is possible to do part time, but IME that doesn’t really happen. But most jobs of that type are full time; there’s probably a world in which part time makes sense.

      I’m wondering if you should be thinking of freelance – maybe helping small businesses set up web sites and stores? You’d be more in control of your hours, and you could use software design as well as UX skills.

      (However, those jobs are cheaper if you hire someone in a lower cost of living country, so you’d want to look into whether that is feasible in your situation.)

      1. Kes*

        Agreed with this – UX designers I’ve worked with did spend a lot of time in Figma, I believe, creating designs of web pages. Their work was focused on fitting in the necessary content in a way that looks good and is easy to use – this helps the users and the company, but beyond that how beneficial this is probably depends on who you’re working for.
        Most designer and developers I’ve dealt with have been full time. Agreed freelance might be a better option to give you more control over the amount of work and work time you’re taking on. As a freelancer, especially if you’re working with smaller clients, being able to do both UX and development might be a benefit which could also get you more variety if you’re bored by just doing the same thing all the time. The tradeoff would be actually having to find clients, invoice them, etc, essentially dealing with all the business side of things
        Regardless of how you get into it, getting the first foot in the door is always going to be hardest. Having a good portfolio is probably going to be key here.

      2. Hermione*

        One possible suggestion to sidestep some of the salesy feel could be looking at positions in higher ed? I work at a well-known university in the US (not in UX/UI right now but have some experience with those fields) and our marketing team as well as our instructional design teams both have user experience designers on staff to improve student, faculty, and staff experiences with the sites and internal tools we use.

        1. Betty*

          This is a good idea. I’d imagine that roles at other ed tech companies (e.g., companies that make “learning management systems” [LMS] that schools use as portals for course sites) or something like health tech (e.g., EPIC, that makes the MyChart platform you’ve probably encountered) would also focus on improving usability in a way that isn’t about prompting individual users to buy stuff.

          1. EpicEscapee*

            Epic does have some full-time UX testers (at least as of five years ago), but it’s usually up to the full-time developers to do the design/implementation. It does pay quite well for developer roles, at least for the COL of Madison, WI.

            As a caution, Epic expects a lot of overtime and it’s culture is… I’m not sure how to describe it. There are a lot of red flags, starting with the fact that the CEO thinks that “work-life balance” is stupid and should be replaced by “work-life integration”, and you have to “pass” a personality test to get hired.

            1. EpicEscapee*

              Also, have an exit strategy. The non-compete agreement will stop any Epic customers or consulting firms from hiring you for a year after you leave, even if Epic fired you.

            2. Qwerty*

              Is it still the personality test where you have to rank 4 terrible choices in order of which applies to you the most? That test was bizarre! My college friends and I all applied there and then withdrew from the process after the weird test. We still joke about it

            3. Curmudgeon in California*

              … you have to “pass” a personality test to get hired.

              This, on top of the other BS, is why I’d never even apply to Epic. It’s enough red flags to dress up all of Red Square

      3. DivergentStitches*

        Yes, maybe you should put out a shingle on a site like Fiverr and see if you can get some development work and see if you like it. If you build a customer base that way, maybe you can set your own hours.

      4. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

        Yes there is a consumerist use. But think about museums library and government and other public sites that also require UX and UI.

    2. STG*

      I’m not a developer but I’ve worked in IT for 15+ years and now manage an IT team.

      All development positions in companies that I’ve worked for have been full time. The only exception I’ve seen to that has been part time interns with our development department and those assignments are only temporary.

      That’s just been my personal experience though. I’m sure part time jobs exist in development but might be more freelance type development.

    3. Junior UXer*

      I’ve been trying to break into UX for a year now, and it is quite competitive for junior designers. It’s also a very big field, too, so there’s a lot of niches to dive into.

      I’ve seen UI developers are very much in-demand. Recruiters hear I know front-end coding and get very excited. That could be a career track that’s easier to break into. Another career track is UX researcher. Out of my bootcamp class, all the students who got a UX job were UX researchers. If Figma feels a bit boring, there’s a lot of opportunity in UXR doing user testing. And while it sounds like copywriting is for later, there’s UX copywriting as well.

      I don’t think there’s much in the way of part-time UX opportunities, though. Even the freelance and contract ads I’ve seen have been 30+ hours during standard business hours.

    4. Susan Calvin*

      I’m glad you’ve, at the very least, found some new things to learn that gave you joy!

      As far as your questions, I can only adress parts, but those with some authority – many, many, people trying to get into a software related career get sucked into some shiny start-up with energetic coworkers, charming founders, and a brilliant-looking product that soon, certainly, everyone and their mother will be using. Stay away from those like food in a fairy circle. Those are what the guy in the video was talking about, and that will wring you dry if you let them.

      What you want is a nice, established, B2B type company – somewhere that makes design software for engineers, or book keeping, or HR software, something where by the time the users get their eyes on it, the sale has already happened. Also, somewhere that has established frameworks for offering part time agreements, and is operating at a scale (and with enough slack in their staffing) where this makes sense for them – typically that will also give you a leg up in the sense that in a larger team, the “basics” are already covered well enough that someone with an unusual background adds value more than risk.

      Good luck!

      1. AcademiaNut*

        A potential advantage with an established, larger company is learning from the experienced developers. I would be very wary of hiring a freelance coder who was right out of training (I say this as someone who does software development), because there’s a lot to learn in between finishing the education part and becoming a good programmer. Working with experienced people and having them review your code teaches you a lot.

    5. MigraineMonth*

      I’m a FT software developer whose masters focused on UX (though I haven’t specialized in that). I have a couple of thoughts and recommendations in no particular order:

      – If you decide to go the computer programmer route, make sure you enjoy reading code. Every programming class has you write code, but 80% of every coding job I’ve had is reading what’s already there, figuring out why it’s not working, matching my style to the existing style/infrastructure, etc. Unless you’re working for a startup, you will be dealing with legacy code.

      – If you can’t find a UX job, you can do general computer programming but really focus on the UI part of it. I’ve really enjoyed a book called “It’s Not Rocket Surgery” that talks about how to convince your company to integrate UX testing into their workflows, even if there’s no full-time UX person.

      – UX does include advertising and gamification, but it can also be about making people’s experiences less frustrating. Showing people ads for things they actually want to buy, or making it easier for people to get through the checkout process, isn’t necessarily predatory. Gamification of exercise or healthy eating isn’t generally a bad thing.

      – I believe that UX consulting is a thing (at least when it comes to “rewrite this website so people can actually use it”). My org also hires part-time computer developers. There are also a lot of sites where you can take programming “gigs”, if you want to dip your toes in.

      – Finally, I haven’t used Figma, but I have used Balsamiq (which is for putting together wireframes) so much that I injured my shoulder by using the mouse so much. However, UX doesn’t actually require such things. I used to draw out UI designs on graph paper and flipped through them while people pointed at the buttons they wanted to click.

      Good luck!

    6. Mbarr*

      Maybe you can combine the coding and copy writing into a tech writing career? Specifically, writing Developer Documentation.

      1. Susan Calvin*

        Oooh, good point – tech writers (both the kind writing for a technical audience, and the ones doing end-user manuals) are worth their weight in gold, and often hard to find!

        1. Torinog*

          Any keywords to use if searching for this type of position? ‘Technical writer’ seems like it may be too broad on its own…

      2. Lyudie*

        This is a good thought. PT tech writing work is not common but not unheard of. If short spells of FT are a possibility, short-term contracts abound. I’ve been out of the field for almost five years but still get a lot of emails from recruiters, and often the contracts are three or six months.

    7. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

      Not a UX person but a junior software developer.

      Re: getting people to buy stuff. Yeah, there definitely are sites that will be big into that (do a search for “dark patterns” to learn more). But not every app or piece of software is intended for commerce. For non-commerce stuff, being able to present users with visual info in a way that makes it easier for them to find what they need is definitely important. Think of government or community web sites, purpose-built apps, etc. Those might be more up your alley.

      The teams I’ve worked on haven’t had separate UX people, so that task has fallen to us devs (which can be scary, since design may not be our strong skill set, lol). So while I’m definitely not a UX person, I have used some UX tools like Figma. (That’s definitely a popular one.) I think it’s very likely you would be using tools like that to develop layouts and prototypes. But the degree of client interaction might vary. The last team I was on, we worked very closely with our client organization to get their input on layout, do demos of work in progress to get feedback, etc. On my current team, there is little to no direct interaction between the end users and us developers.

      As far as part time work, at least for devs, that doesn’t seem to be much of a thing here in the U.S.

      Someone who I think is a good resource for more info on UI/UX is Gary Simon (search Gary Simon and web design or DesignCourse). I’ve done some of his YouTube tutorials and have found them very helpful. He’s also got a Discord channel where he’ll host pop-up design reviews – you submit site designs and he critiques them.

      But if you found yourself enjoying the coding part more than the design – well, software development might just be your thing! :-)

    8. Anima*

      UX-UI-person here. I am in the industry since about a year, started part time, am now full time. Was an art historian before, went to school for media computer science (actually I’m still in school but paused). I am in Europe, too, though not in the UK.
      To answer your questions:
      – It’s rather full time, but you might luck out (like me) and find a part-time job. My workplace is a startup, those often can’t afford full time designers. But this comes with the caveat of a rather, well, start-uppy workplace with all pros and cons.
      – It is competitive, but there is also a high demand? It’s kinda weird right now, haha. I don’t even have a portfolio yet and still got hired, but I believe a good portfolio – or any at all – helps tremendously. (I actually also do hiring, too, don’t get me started on that. If your application has a portfolio attached it usually gets bonus points.)
      – I don’t make people buy things – I design features for a web application that does teapot shipping. I rarely have features to do I don’t agree with. If you find a job that mostly does applications instead of web shopping, it might be a match. Another possibility is consulting – there are companys in my town that have UI/UX-Designers on staff which get “rent out” to companys who, for example need a website redesign. After them the actual developers go and and do the website. Seems to be great for people who like to work with different companys and design systems.
      – I sit in front of figma 6-8 hours a day. Sorry about that, but it really is mostly pushing rectangles and aligning stuff. I occasionally do UX-research with customers, but it’s not the main part of my job (no time, a contra of working in a startup).
      Hope this helped!
      I really love my job though I don’t thrive (yet). I need more experience still. Getting out of retail and customer service was the best thing that happened to me.

    9. Hen in a Windstorm*

      I would think the main negative of focusing on UX is that a lot of companies think it’s an “extra” optional thing that’s not needed. I mean, look at how many crappy websites and apps there are. Too many companies cheap out on software development and either don’t care if it’s onerous to use or kinda care but don’t hire someone with actual training, they just expect their engineers to somehow know UX.

      Which segues into my next point, UX is not only for e-commerce. My credit union (community-owned banking-like institution) redesigned their website and app a few years ago, then redid it again last year. (I already though it was great!) It is a dream to use. The interfaces are fantastic, they put thought into making things as simple as possible, but not stupid. They enabled features I would have thought of as “extra” and “nice to have”. And they don’t sell anything. You could work someplace like that.

      Literally, if you said there isn’t a moment of aggravation at least once a day with software you navigate in your real life, I’d think you were lying. *All* of those are candidates for better UX.

      And I think if you can manage contract FT work with breaks between contracts, that could work.

    10. Observer**

      – I watched a video of this guy saying, basically, “don’t get into UX if you want to do good, because it’s ALL about manipulating people to buy more”. Is that true?

      Any idiot can say anything on YouTube. But this is baloney. It sounds like an excuse for aggressively bad UX on his products.

      Sure, UX can be used to be manipulative in general, and to trick people into buying things they don’t want or need. (Google “dark patterns” for an example of a whole class of this thing.) But it’s also about the (potential) experience of EVERY other interaction.

      Like, when you go to do your banking. It can be easy to find the information you need, do the things you want to do, make the correct decisions, implement appropriate security, etc. Or it can be hard and confusing to do those things. Is it not better for EVERYONE that the it’s easier rather than harder? Sure, the bank benefits, but so does the bank customer.

      Double, triple, 1,000 times over when talking about medical, government / regulatory, or regulatory stuff.

      Even with shopping, UX is not just about manipulating people into buying more. The best shopping sites are the ones that make is easy for me to find what I want even if I don’t know the product name, and get information about a specific product or category. Sure, the vendor benefits, but that’s just a win / win. Or does he believe that if you “want to do good” you should make sure that in person stores should be rude and unhelpful to shoppers too? Those stores require their staff to be friendly and helpful because it’s good for business. But we all understand that that’s necessary.

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*

        I thought the same thing! Some apps I can think of that are not shopping related are:
        – electronic medical record systems
        – medical triage systems
        – not-for-profit apps and websites that help you find resources
        – govt apps & websites that let you do things such as pay vehicle registration, register for licenses, and find critical information.

        My guess is that the guy you saw is deliberately stirring up drama. While you may still decide UX is not for you, I would strongly encourage ignoring his video and any other things you see from him on the grounds that he is, at best, profoundly ignorant.

        1. kt*

          Yeah, I work for a totally unsexy industry that does use UX folks because… we make software to help internal users do our unsexy yet “essential” work. A number of examples: designing screens to help you accurately order medications for people or pets (as a prescriber), designing screens to help you capture characteristics of an order to a business or an interaction with a customer. There’s a ton of that. Not every interaction with software is trying to get someone to buy. That’s silly.

          I do think you should look carefully at UI vs UX and position yourself after a number of informational interviews. My general rule of thumb is that the stronger your coding skills, the more you’ll get paid.

    11. Qwerty*

      Have you considered front end development? I’ve never been on a team with a full time UX person – usually it is one of the front end devs who takes on that role in some capacity. Has the coding work that you’ve enjoyed included CSS and handling the input forms / page layouts? I’m new to having Figma mock ups – a lot of the code I’ve written is someone tells me “we need feature X” with maybe a sketch and then its all on me. (I’m more of a backend person, so I love having Figma to reference, but often rely a coworker to make my work look pretty).

      Some thoughts on your points:
      – Part time work – Big corporations might be your best bet here. I know Microsoft has a job sharing role (two devs = 1 FT position) as a way to retain parents, but I don’t know if you have to be a FT worker first. You mention alternating p/t and f/t – could you work for a year or so in a full time job and then switch to contract work?

      – Competitiveness for juniors – There are a ton of devs being churned out by bootcamps. Another reason I suggested frontend dev up above is I know smaller companies are more likely to take on a junior dev if there is a non-tech skill they bring with them (like UX!). My team is planning to hire a bootcamp grad with an artsy background so they can take over our UX while we train them on coding, since we don’t have the bandwidth to take on a true junior right now

      – Doing good vs marketing – I don’t like the guy who said that quote. Good UX does sell more, because it makes the website or app easy to use! There’s a website that lets you put furniture in a room then try out different lighting fixtures to estimate which one gives you the amount of light that you want. Sure, that sells lamps but also isn’t it freaking amazing?? Ikea has a bunch of tool builders for you to customize which pieces to buy to make furniture that fits your space and needs. If a user gets ambushed with pop ups and ads, they’ll get annoyed and walk away instead of clicking the checkout button. Happy customers keep coming back.

      – Figma – I think Figma is a pretty big part of UX life now. I get it, I’ve been struggling with the tool today, wishing we had a UX person to do it instead.

      Overall, I think a good place to look is consulting/outsourcing companies. They are likely to have a collection of UX, frontend, backend, product, etc roles, so that you could figure out what the right combo of coding and non-tech skills are for you and see what day-to-day life is. They do tend to hire very junior people straight from bootcamps. I think they are generally full time roles though.

    12. UXDirector*

      You could consider a different angle and look into User/Customer Experience Design. I am a Director of a team at a large telcom company. I manage customer experience designers and website design is just a fragment of what we do. We are also responsible for employee experience when software is deployed or retired. This includes hosting focus groups, creating journey maps, recommending training, creating content like communications and more. We are involved in everything and get to influence employee experience for the better. We also spend a lot of time working with the developers and technical architects which keeps us skilled up tech wise. It has been a rewarding and lucrative career path for me.

    13. Hmmmmm*

      Question asker here. I’m not replying individually so I don’t take up loads of space (after my incredibly long question, eek) but thanks very much for every answer. The collective experience and wisdom (and kindness) here is something else.

      1. HHD*

        Another suggestion, which is around looking into UX work with agencies who do more work with purpose based organisations. Most of those agencies offer a much broader service than just UX and/or web design, so you’d have opportunities around things like customer mapping, tone of voice and other things.

    14. Momma Bear*

      Not going to speak about UX specifically but something to bear in mind is that at least in the US, IT-type folk tend to bounce jobs often. It’s not uncommon for someone to work two or three years one place and then head over to a new opportunity or challenge. So yes, you might find that the jobs are FT, but you may also be able to alternate jobs and job schedules as your life and career move forward. Instead of thinking “I’m going to be bored” take each job/learning experience as it comes. No job is perfect or without it’s boring parts. And most lucrative jobs will require full time employment.

    15. howlieT*

      Hello life twin!

      I retrained from theatre into data about this time last year, whilst suffering from long covid, and I also live outside of London. I’m now a full time DevOps Apprentice for a consultancy, so not quite exactly the same but not far off.

      In terms of my firm, we don’t really have UX people but we do have people who do UI and UX by extension, although certainly within the bounds of my quite small product team our full stack dev’s handle all of it. If you enjoyed writing the code and found figma draining then honestly full stack might be a good way to go. You’re likely going to end up being shunted more front end by it because even though you’re full stack you can do front end, whereas I for example, can’t.

      In terms of looking for PT, it’s rare but it’s not never? You’ll struggle maybe, but look for companies with a dedication to working mums and women in the workplace who are potentially going to be more open to job shares or flexitime. You don’t necessarily have to do both parts of a FT role, although I will say the company I work for has a few PT contractors, but they’re technically freelance, which is another option!

      As you’re UK based, I can also recommend tech up, who I did my retraining with and who have useful advice/job posting stuff, it’s quite female skewed because they used to be tech up women but are an all gender service now.

      1. Hmmmmm*

        Oh hello life twin! Quite a few similarities! Your story is very interesting. I’m glad you’ve managed to make the switch. And that your Long C is gone or gone enough for that to have happened. Congratulations:-)

    16. SpringIsForPlanting!*

      I work with UI/UX people a lot (software product owner role) and have a couple of notes from my specific experience.
      1. Like someone else mentioned, part-time UX is rare but contract UX is not. If you can handle 6 months on/ 2 months off or similar, that’s a thing that happens. There are temp companies that have a ‘stable’ of UI/UX people–worth looking into for your situation.
      2. You sound like you might really like working in “digital accessibility”. It’s a lot of problem-solving, a great mission, in-demand, and the sort of thing people hire temps/consultants for pretty frequently rather than doing in-house.

      1. Hmmmmm*

        Yes, Digital Accessibility is of interest to me! Question asker here. Do you know what the situation is here when it comes to p/t f/t? (Thanks for your insight on the UX contract situation too.)

        Also do folks in digital accessibility need a certain level of coding ability? I’ve said I’ve learnt a bit of coding, but it really is just a bit (some HTML and CSS) so far.

    17. BadWolf*

      I work on a product that we’re selling to other companies to use. So there’s no need for us to try and sell them anything, it’s basically the UI that they have to punch all the buttons to do configuration. So we’re trying to make it basically user friendly (learning towards making it work without sinking too much time).

      Duties that our UI people do for our product include:
      -Making the UI panel updates, giving feedback to the developer about names, organization, etc.
      – Plugging the front end to the back end
      – Testing changes and updates manually (working with iterations of the new code, negative tests, putting in the wrong data)
      – Ideally writing automated tests where able that go into our ongoing automated test buckets
      – Doing accessibility reviews (screen readers, descriptions, language directions/differences/etc)
      – Working with the developer and the doc person to write descriptions, help text, etc.

    18. Addy*

      you should consider service design or process improvement! (I’m a UX Researcher, and that’s what your post made me think of)

    19. UXnerd*

      Hey, I’ve been in UI/UX/interaction design for my entire career. I’ve worked for start-ups, design agencies, and in-house software design teams. Some thoughts for you.

      — It will be challenging to find part-time UX work for a software company or design agency. These also tend to be intense environments requiring tons of context switching and collaboration that can be really draining.

      — You might look at roles in academia, government, and non-profits where the software supports the mission instead of BEING the mission. Look for something where you’re building and improving a single website or application over a long period of time. These roles will be more predictable and less intense.

      — It’s possible to be a designer who doesn’t spend most of their time in Figma. Many designers ARE visual thinkers who prefer to sketch ideas from the start. I’m more of an abstract thinker and information organizer. So I do most of my design thinking in diagrams and words. I only open up Figma after I have a clear idea of how everything fits together from an interaction standpoint.

      — I’ve worked with great front end developers who are stronger visual designers than I am but prefer to build rather than design. However, this work is super-fiddly in its own way. It’s just fiddly in code instead of pixels. So make sure you enjoy THAT type of fiddly.

      — If you’re not into pixel perfection and want to stay away from dark patterns others have mentioned, I would avoid direct-to-consumer apps, e-commerce, and social media. I would also avoid roles that are responsible for creating and maintaining design systems. In my company, it’s the design systems people who spend the most time in Figma.

      — If you did want to explore working for yourself, it’s possible to build a successful career creating simple websites for individuals and small businesses, using website building platforms like Squarespace and WordPress. While these platforms are template based, it’s possible to get super creative and technical, customizing them for your clients.

      The great thing about UX is that there are so many ways to get into it, and to go about it. Good luck!

  3. About to move again*

    Would you ever recommend mentioning military spouse status in a cover letter? (Or does anyone have experience doing so?) I’m looking for a remote job that I wouldn’t have to leave every time we move, so the context would be something along the lines of, “because I move around regularly as an active duty military spouse, I am looking for a remote role that I can grow in over the long term.” That’s pretty rough but gives a general idea of what I’m going for. It would also give context for my resume with two years of a job in Texas, two in Maryland, two in North Carolina, etc.

    1. Watry*

      My mom did this when she re-entered the workforce, to explain why she’d been a SAHM so long and why she’d had to change colleges so many times. If you’d risk looking like a job-hopper or flaky otherwise, I’d probably do it.

    2. Elevator Elevator*

      Zero hiring background here but I think it’s a good idea – explains the work history and would also be a least a little helpful in screening out employers who are claiming roles are more fully remote than they are.

      It does also flag for them up front that you’ll likely be moving from state to state over time, which can be tricky for them in terms of being subject to the employment laws of different states. If that’s not workable for them it’s better to know sooner than later, but the downside is that it’s something that might make them discard an application due to the potential hassle (whereas if it came up further into the process when they know you better as a candidate, they might be more invested in seeing if they could make it work).

    3. Mockingjay*

      Mentioning it in the cover letter should work. Also, some companies are more amenable to hiring dependents/former dependents. DoD and Federal contractors are used to employees who move around because of an active duty spouse. I have a remote coworker who has criss-crossed the country in the last 5 years; we’re always wondering where she’ll be next! I myself returned to work after living overseas for nearly a decade due to my husband’s job (I freelanced but did not have steady employment); I started a job 6 weeks after my return with a DoD contractor.

    4. Ama*

      I personally think any context you can provide in a cover letter that can answer questions a hiring manager might wonder about from looking at your resume is helpful in finding you the right match for a job.

      I currently work with a military spouse who has been a long time contract employee on my team (she’s always worked remotely) — she was hired before my arrival here but I think she probably did mention it in her cover letter, although obviously the circumstances around remote work were a little different several years ago. I do think it would be good to mention to weed out the employers who say they have a remote job but actually need the employee to live within a certain distance from the office or come in once a week or the other shenanigans we sometimes see here with jobs advertised as remote.

      I also have as my direct report a woman whose husband just retired from the military last year, and when she applied for our job she mentioned in her cover letter that though she was a military spouse, her husband was retiring and they would be staying in our city for the forseeable future, which both explained her scattered resume and also made it clear she would not be moving for military reasons if she was hired (which, since I do work with an active military spouse who has relocated four times in the nine years we’ve worked together, I would have been concerned about).

    5. Alessandra*

      As a counterpoint to some other comments here… I don’t think it would hurt, but if you’re applying to a remote position, I think they already understand that the position would be a good fit for people who move around a lot. I’m not sure how much that statement would add to your cover letter, since the fact that you’ve moved around frequently shouldn’t really matter to them with regard to their hiring decisions. The one caveat here is that I think it would be helpful to mention it if your resume includes more than one position where you worked there less than a year.

      My reason for saying this is that, unfortunately, my sense is that there is some stigma against military spouses being vocal about their military spouse status. (I know people in my friend group have this perception, and the “military wife resume” meme seems to be very well-known on the internet.) I worry a bit that mentioning your role as a military spouse in your cover letter may implicitly activate some bias on the hiring manager’s behalf. (On the other hand, it could go the other way if they have a positive view of the military and military families!) My point here is that, based on what you’re saying, I don’t think NOT stating your spousal status would hurt you.

      1. DivergentStitches*

        Actually it might make a difference, because if a company isn’t set up to have remote workers in a particular state, they might not want someone who moves around a lot and might go to a state they’re not in.

        1. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

          To this point, it might be helpful for OP to give a clue about what ‘regularly’ is. Would the company be redoing your tax forms every two months or two years or every five years? I don’t know what’s standard with military, and the hiring team may not either.

          1. About to move again*

            Typically 2-3 years. We move on a pretty regular schedule, usually in the summer. The last two places have been three years and hopefully the next will also be three years.

            1. smeep248*

              it is my understanding that as a military spouse you can choose what state you’re taxed in. I have worked payroll many years and most choose a state with no income tax.

              1. About to move again*

                It matters what physical location you’re working from, unfortunately. Our home of record will probably stay Texas because it’s beneficial to us (no income tax) but if I’m working from another location I can’t say I’m based in Texas (for the purpose of the company’s tax nexus), just that I’m exempt from that state’s income tax.

      2. Tio*

        Remote positions don’t mean you can work from anywhere anytime – depending on where you live vs where you work, that opens the business up to paying additional states’ taxes and creating a business nexus. It will probably be easier with larger companies who have existing nexus within other states, but otherwise you and the company could be in for a bad surprise if you move to say, Virginia, and find out the company doesn’t have a business nexus in Virginia and then they have to let you go. Now you’re out of a job and they’re out of an employee. I would include it in the cover letter but also ask during the interview how many/what states they operate in so you have a good idea of where you can and can’t work.

      3. About to move again*

        Yeah, I know there can be a military spouse bias. I’ve been lucky that I’ve been able to use it to my advantage in a lot of, shall we say, flag-wavey places, but I’m also not opposed to weeding out people who WOULD be biased against military spouses.

        I would want to mention it basically to show hey, I’m tired of these two year stints, I want to find a company that I can grow with regardless of where I go. I realize not all remote jobs can be remote from anywhere, but I do intend to at least start with large companies that note the position can be remote anywhere in the US.

      4. Yorick*

        Some companies are advertising for remote jobs nowadays when they actually want local/semi-local people who will come to the office sometimes. Mentioning this in the cover letter could be helpful by letting them know OP wants actual remote work.

        1. About to move again*

          Yes, this is a consideration as well. I actually reported a job on Indeed today that was listed as remote and the first line of the job description was “Our offices are open and employees are in the office 4-5 days a week.” Ummmm that’s not a remote job!!

    6. NewBoss2016*

      I would try to find a way to incorporate it, especially because it gives context to frequent job changes. I recently hired someone who’s resume made us lose interest in the beginning because it read as if they were a consistent job-hopper (location/industry). When they explained in their interview it was due to being a military spouse it was an “ah-hah” moment. Had there been many qualified candidates, their resume would have been towards the back because there was no explanation mentioned.

    7. Green Tea*

      One thing to flag is that not every organization that offers remote work allows remote work from anywhere. There’s a significant amount tax paperwork involved for every new state they have employees in, and if you end up on a military base overseas that would complicate things further.

      So it could cause hesitation from some companies for logistical reasons that have nothing to do with your qualifications or goals.

    8. New Yorker*

      My sister works for the federal govt and she said her department gives priority to military spouses, I would definitely keep that in mind

      1. About to move again*

        The vast majority of government jobs I’m qualified for wouldn’t be remote, unfortunately. I’ve looked. I also don’t have the patience to apply to a federal job tbh. Too many hoops.

    9. LadyVet*

      Long-ago separated veteran who recently was on the job market and attended a lot of workshops, etc., for vets and military spouses: I would check to see if the company you’re applying to has a special recruiter for the military community, if you haven’t already. They might fall under the DEI team.

      It wasn’t info that was particularly relevant to me, since I was looking for in-person or hybrid work in the city where I already live and plan to stay for a while. But there are a lot of companies that are military-spouse friendly.

    10. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      I’d also include a comment about what attracted you to the company was how mil friendly it is. Even if they’re not, this might have the result of what Alison says about people trying to live up to the high standard you’ve set for them.

  4. Vanilla latte breve*

    Question about paying out of pocket for expenses while traveling…

    I recently traveled for work for the first time in a few years, and this was my first time traveling for work since joining my current company.

    While traveling, I found out our company’s per diem for meals is very low – think $30 for the day. Its difficult to dine out in any city these days on that amount.

    Several of my teammates shared with me that they usually dont expense any food while traveling because of the low amount, and instead, they just pay out of pocket for all of their food.

    This seems so wrong to me. Any company I have ever worked with has paid for all food while traveling, within reason of course – they wouldn’t pay for $500 bottle of wine, but most people I have worked with never abused it either.

    This is a multi-billion dollar company btw. Hopefully, I wont be with this company much longer (actively job hunting), but am curious as to how you all would handle this moving forward. It just seems wrong to make people pay for food when the company is forcing them to travel.

    1. Sunflower*

      My company (also huge) has a low expense per diem – I think it’s $50/day- but it’s mostly there as a fear tactic and expenses over that amount are approved all the time without issue.

      I would talk to your boss. Mine told me that limit is BS and just be reasonable and so far, I haven’t had any issues. This would be a dealbreaker for me as I work long days when I travel and you’re essentially losing money by doing business for the company. I’d explain if it’s possible for the amount of be increased and even see if you can get your coworkers on board to present a united front.

      Also…your coworkers don’t make any sense. $30 reimbursed is still $30 back in your pocket. I have never understood the ‘it’s so low, I don’t expense it’ people.

      1. Squidhead*

        Perhaps, if travel is common in this company, the coworkers claim it as a business expense on their taxes (using the IRS standard per diem rate)? In this case, they’d be double dipping if they claimed a reimbursement as well (or they’d need to make sure they were only claiming the non-reimbursed portion, which might be annoying).

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          I planned to do that (reimburse via business expense) when the company decided it would no longer reimburse for mileage when I drove in lieu of flying.

          The last tax reform would have wrecked havoc with that, so as always when thinking outside the box, crunch the numbers until they beg for mercy.

        2. Lifelong student*

          Non-reimbursed employee business expenses are no longer deductible, I think. Havent checked lately but I know there has been discussion about it. In any case, never would have been deductible without itemizing. Most people don’t itemize.

      2. WantonSeedStitch*

        I suppose how much extra time and neck-pain it adds on to an expense report to expense $30 worth of food per day could be a factor. For example, if you submit receipts for more than that, do you have to go through a big deal of pushback, or do you just get “expenses over $30 denied, here’s your check?” Do you have to use a real PITA system to file receipts? Some people might do the mental calculation and decide the extra effort isn’t worth it for a short trip. But yeah, I would definitely ask about how hard the limit actually is, and then point out that you are paying for the privilege of traveling to work for the company if you are bound by that limit.

      3. ZugTheMegasaurus*

        Yeah, I’m also at a very large company and the amount is $25 – but that’s just the limit for what you can do *without needing a receipt*. People expense higher amounts all the time with no problem, you just have to submit receipts along with the expense report (and it’s pretty lax, I’ve seen people expense bar bills with nothing but booze on it and still got approved).

      4. Rosyglasses*

        $50 / day is the standard IRS per diem rate (as told to me by our finance dept when we recently had folks travel).

        1. AcademiaNut*

          When I worked for the US government, they had a table for different cities, and it went a lot higher than $50 (and this was in the early-mid 2000s). London, for example was $100 a day for food and snacks.

    2. Ama*

      I work for a nonprofit and we don’t do a per diem, but we do have a guideline for per meal costs that would add up to much higher than $30 per day (I think our dinner guideline is up to $40). They also have never given anyone grief about reimbursing for receipts that exceed those guidelines as long as you can demonstrate the money was spent on food for yourself and doesn’t have alcohol or the most expensive entree on the menu on it.

      Even when I worked at a university in a budget crunch they covered either direct reimbursement with receipts or allowed you to get reimbursed the per diem listed on the U.S. State Department’s website for the city you were going to (which is much higher than $30 for pretty much everywhere).

      So yes your company is being excessively stingy with their policies. I suspect your coworkers just don’t realize that’s not how most employers handle business travel.

    3. Mbarr*

      Check to see if you can expense individual meals, instead of claiming a per diem. Also, a previous company I worked for had separate per diems per country, so see if that’s applicable.

    4. debbietrash*

      As someone who is the admin person who supports on reimbursement on a regular basis, I recommend submitting your receipts ($30 isn’t a lot but it’s something) *and* bringing it up to your manager/management. Recently at my org the same issue (food allowance while travelling) got brought up, and it sounds like leadership in my department is taking it to their higher ups. My org is very large and moves slowly so I don’t know if there will be a change soon (or at all), but if you have the capital at work to bring this up I say do it. Maybe it will cause change?

    5. Tio*

      Honestly when I worked with a company with a per diem I packed a lot of food and just took the per diem. this was perfectly fine with the company, and worked out better for me.

    6. lost academic*

      Make sure you understand what the language means. In my field when we say “per diem” we mean the per day total amount that you typically get as a flat rate for meals and it is based generally on either the federal or the client contract standards. If you are claiming a per diem you do not typically submit receipts (unless contractually they’re required as backup for the cost). In previous roles and places, per diem can mean the daily maximum you are allowed to claim, and in other cases per diem wasn’t used for meals at all and instead you submitted actual receipts to get reimbursed the right amount. So – don’t just go based on what colleagues say, check in with higher levels AND HR to be sure of the right policy.

      But $30 a day is pretty unfair. It sounds like something set too long ago based on assumptions about limited travel. The current lowest (and unspecified) rate I can find for a day of meals and incidentals for this year is $59. I think that information will be valuable to get your company to update this. But – they might not. So I think given that low value, you might want to consider limiting travel if you don’t want to keep paying out of pocket that much.

    7. Hiring Mgr*

      This is not unusual for some reason… Once company I worked at around 15 years ago would be totally fine with a 10K international business class flight but god forbid you go $1.50 over on the per diem

    8. My lack of bear knowledge (formerly known as performative gumption)*

      Hey my company have specific guidance on expenses per meal not per diem for food.
      I think this is a much better approach and it’s around 10 for breakfast, 15 for lunch and 30-50 for dinner depending on location etc

    9. TechWorker*

      Your coworkers are weird though – I agree the amount sounds low but how is ‘I pay for all of it’ a good solution to ‘the company only covers half of it’. I don’t understand the attitude!

    10. Yorick*

      Even if the per diem is strict and too low for meals, you should at least get reimbursed up to the limit. Don’t know why people would rather spend more of their own money than get $30 back.

    11. Kettle Belle*

      At my company the meal allowance for business travel was $80–up to $20 for Breakfast and up to $60 for dinner. Lunches and snacks weren’t even eligible for reimbursement. (and yes, they did check the time on the meal receipts). However, folks started to complain and now, the daily allowance is $100 and all meals are covered. All the folks that travel alot should talk to The Powers That Be and explain that $30 is quite low for at least 3 meals a day.

    12. Pudding*

      I would spend as reasonably as I could (no meal skipping, no eating fast food, no ordering food I didn’t really want because it was the cheapest) and submit an expense report for my actual expenses, and then make someone look me in the eye and tell me they’re not reimbursing me for more than $30 a day in 2023 money for food, and have them explain what they expect me to do to fit my food budget within those limits, and then point out how ridiculous any ideas they come up with are.

      I don’t have a per diem, I get reimbursed for what I actually spend and I’m supposed to use my travel card. My daily meal expense limit is $75 and I’m supposed to try to book a hotel with free breakfast. I haven’t gone over the daily limit, but I did break the tipping limit due to a math error on my last trip and I don’t think anyone noticed or cared. I also exceeded the daily limit for car rental, but that got approved without comment, so I think our policy limits are just too low for current pricing (I used their preferred rental co and got their negotiated pricing so I couldn’t really do anything more.)

      1. Alisha*

        Yeah it sounds good to push back, but in the case of, for example, government workers, policies are as they are. What would you expect someone to do? Look the other way on your behalf? Really?

        1. Pudding*

          I work in the private sector. I assume if Vanilla can’t apply my advice, they’re probably aware of that and no harm done.

    13. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      In one organization where I traveled regularly, the system was set up that I could pay with my company card up to the ludicrously low amount (like $12 for lunch in NYC), or pay out of pocket and just claim the allowed amount when I filed my expense report. I did have a boss who made a point about refusing to take the per diem but I always claimed it. I even made a game to see if I could come out ahead by only paying $11 for lunch but claiming $12, which I know is wrong and bad.

    14. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

      Mine is $55 including tip, which I’ve found doable, but getting harder to stick to with even the prices of mid-range chains like Applebee’s or Red Robin going through the roof. Not to mention the price of eating in airports. $30 seems really low – has whoever set this limit not eaten out since before Covid?

      Luckily I’m usually booked into hotels that have a continental breakfast, and I’ll eat as cheap as I can for lunch (like Subway) so I can “afford” a nice dinner with a glass of wine.

    15. DJ*

      I’m surprised at the employers that seem to be happily paying for meals out of their own pocket. Who can afford that! Sounds like if a few others do feel the same as you a case to ask for more reasonable reimbursement rates.
      Can you request you be booked into self contained accommodation so that you can cook your own meals. Then you use the $30 to buy food to cook? Even if not see if you can buy food suitable for motel prep ie salads, cold meats/fish, cereal and milk.

  5. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    Ok guys – has anyone had a ‘ stay interview?’ Apparently my bosses boss wants to do one? But my problems with my job are things like ‘ Im not good at my job because I don’t have the energy to do such an intense job that also requires detail orientation and my boss thinks doing a checklist would fix this?’ like what would I even say?

    1. ferrina*

      My company has been playing with the idea of stay interviews, but we haven’t done any official ones (though I do unofficial ones regularly- I just don’t call them that).

      You’re right that this isn’t the time to say “I’m not good at my job.” Ideally this would be a culture check (how are you feeling about this workplace and processes), but honestly I wouldn’t trust a Grandboss to be able to listen and not have it blow back on you (either intentionally or accidentally).

      I’d use this time express ideas about what could make your job more efficient (are there tools that would increase productivity? Protocols? What if the Wizarding Department would actually fill out the Potion Request forms, instead of just shouting requests at you when you pass them in the hallway?). Share headaches that are no one’s fault (maybe the process takes a while and it would be great if it were shorter). If the Grandboss asks you about anyone in particular, I’d answer similar to how I would in a job interview. Not untruthful, but not candid. You can always use faint praise as a stand in for criticism.
      Good luck! This really isn’t the right way to do a stay interview. Definitely trust your gut.

        1. ThatGirl*

          if the idea of the “stay interview” is to see what you would need to stay at your job, then you should think about what kind of support would be most helpful and most realistic, and then ask for that.

    2. Stitch*

      I have to ask the hard question here: do you think they’re planning on firing you? This seems like potentially this is a meeting to push you out or check a box before letting you go.

      It’s weird to make someone interview to keep their current job.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I’m not saying you’re wrong – you may be right! – but my sense is that this is more of a retention tactic? Like, we want you to stay, let’s be sure you’re happy? As opposed to “we want you to interview to get your job all over again”.

      2. Margo Darling*

        That’s not what stay interviews are!! They’re meetings to find out what the company can do to keep you, the idea is to find out before they’re doing an exit interview to find out why you quit.

      3. Mbarr*

        These aren’t (usually) about interviewing people to keep their current job. It’s management trying to finding out:
        – What motivates the employee
        – What’s their favorite parts of the company/role/team
        – What are some struggles with the company/role/team
        – What changes would the employee like to see made

      4. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        I think they probably just heard some buzzwords about asking people why they didn’t quit their jobs and noticed a) I didn’t quit my job for an unusually long time b) they forgot to ask me and then saw my name on a list of people they didn’t ask

      5. fhqwhgads*

        It’s not impossible they’re using wacky terminology at this particular employer, but generally: a PIP is the off ramp to let you go, lest you improve significantly – fast. A stay interview is where they think you’re going to go and they want to know what it’ll take to get you not to.
        Again, we’ve all seen bad employers misuse terms, so anything’s possible, but taken at face value, what you’ve described is not what this meeting should be because of the words they used when scheduling it.

      6. Cat*

        “It’s weird to make someone interview to keep their current job.”
        That’s not what a stay interview is. A stay interview is basically asking current employees what they might need or want to stay with the company instead of looking for a new job, getting poached by someone else, etc. If employee retention is not great, stay interviews (when done correctly) can help suss out why some employees haven’t left yet and whether they’re staying just because they think they won’t get a better salary/benefits, or they find the job really fulfilling despite company flaws, or whatever. If employee retention is already in good shape, stay interviews can bolster employee engagement and whatnot.

    3. Sunflower*

      I think you need to identify exactly what you want to change about your job and ways that would make you want to stay and give your employer reasonable guidance in how to do that

      You job is intense- Are there more intense and less intense parts? The more intense parts – how can they be less intense? Is it hiring more people, reducing workload, shifting things around to other teams? You’ll need to identify both the problem and potential solution (if you have one).

      I used to work in BigLaw in what sounds like a similar role and the people there were just…intense! Checklists are great…but when you’re under 30 lbs of work, there’s just no time to do everything. Partners would claim to tout WLB and say they cared but not understand their mannerisms were part of the problem. IME If you’re dealing with people with unreasonable expectations, it’s very unlikely there are too many avenues to positive change and you may be better off finding a role that suites you better.

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

      I haven’t heard of a “stay interview” but the way it’s described is just…the conversation you should be having with management in your annual review anyway IMO, so I would treat it more like that maybe. Talk about what you need in terms of “career development” — you would like to move in a direction that utilizes your strengths (list those strengths) — and if there are things that would help you do your current job better (software, hardware, physical space).

    5. Anon the Fed*

      A stay interview is meant to be a retention tactic, basically a “what can we do to support you continuing in this role?”, as it’s been explained to me. If you can think of things that would actually help you, instead of the checklist your boss is pitching, and you want to keep this job, mention them! It can’t hurt.

      I’ve had one at my last job – I had already told my boss I had applied for another role though, so there was nothing they could do to keep me. Ultimately it wasn’t the kind of work I wanted to do forever, which they’d actually known since I was hired, and they tried to get me to stay with an offer to move me to a higher salary band anyway – I used that (since it was in writing) to negotiate once I officially got my offer for the new job.

      The stay interview at my last job was a fine thing to do, except for 2 big problems (aside from the fact that I was actively trying to move on already, so it was too late) –
      1) The things I needed to feel more supported were things my boss wasn’t willing to do. He was a great guy but a “yes man,” so he over-volunteered us for things and placed the customer satisfaction portion of the job over quality assurance, which is a federally mandated part of the job. He didn’t want to say “no” to anyone, but in that same breath would say “no” to us by virtue of the fact we didn’t have his support to push back on unreasonable (or literally bordering on illegal) requests. Lots of “make it work no matter what” energy instead of setting more realistic expectations with our partners.
      2) The job had been sold to me as something it ultimately wasn’t, and became way too much of the items I don’t want as part of my career. As an example, I’m not interested in people managing, as it just takes too much from me mentally/emotionally, and this job wasn’t officially supervisory but the group I supported needed SO much guidance that I was a de-facto supervisor in some ways, since their true supervisor is a crappy administrator.

    6. Girasol*

      I did a strengths survey back when those were in fashion, and the advice for “what if my strengths are a really bad match for my job?” was not to tell the boss that you don’t sit your job but to pitch him on the sort of job where you’d fit well. You look at what needs to be done in your area and design yourself a different but still valuable job. A “stay” interview sounds like a great opportunity to say, “I’d be happier if I could move into doing more of this sort of work,” and detours around having to say anything about how you’d like to be doing less of your current job. Does that fit your situation?

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Yes I’m very good at say giving advice on how to work with children with mental illness but very bad at convincing medical offices to give me paperwork lol

  6. Watry*

    Thank you so much to everyone who offered me sample interview questions on last week’s open thread. There ended up being only one behavioral question, but thinking about answers made me think about my experience, which is what most of the questions were about. The interview was yesterday, I was told that my manager would be contacted to ensure I don’t abuse leave, and this morning I was asked for my last two annual evaluations. I have high hopes but no idea when I’ll hear back.

      1. Watry*

        I have a second interview with the higher-ups Tuesday! Not sure if this is “don’t blow it with the higher-ups” or “we have two finalists and need a tie-breaker” but I’m still hopeful.

  7. Be Gneiss*

    Hypothetical question: If you work in a cube farm or open-plan office, how okay is it to chew ice at your desk?

    1. No Tribble At All*

      You’re asking because you already know the answer. It’s not okay to chew ice at your desk. (You can waive a once-a-day three-second cronching)

      1. Be Gneiss*

        I’m asking because so far, the two people who I’ve expressed my outrage to have said I’m over-sensitive and need to get a grip.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          I worked in an open office, and every squeaky chair drove me up the wall; I can’t imagine trying to concentrate while someone was crunching on ice all day.

          Yes, the company provided noise-cancelling headphones. They only canceled out ambient noise, which made the irregular noises (soft conversations, squeaking chairs, footsteps) easier to identify.

          This is definitely something you should be able to bring up with the ice-chewing coworker, and I hope they are reasonable about it.

        2. Observer**

          I think that framing is as an outrage is over the top. On the other hand, I do get that it’s difficult – it’s one of the really core problems with open office set ups.

          Can you talk to your ice crunching colleague? Can you get headphones?

      2. Observer**

        I’m going to disagree. This is one of the issues with open plan offices. You simply cannot forbid people from eating noisy things at their desks. Crunching ice, crunching carrots. etc.

        1. 1234*

          It’s pretty common for workplaces to have a policy against eating at your work station, or having rules on what can and cannot be eaten at the workstation (for instance, no items that make a lot of crumbs or have strong smells, etc).

    2. NeedRain47*

      Like for five minutes a day, or occasionally, wouldn’t care. Someone chomping ice (or literally aqnything else, it doesn’t matter, it’s loud chomping) all day every day? Rage inducing.

    3. londonedit*

      I don’t even have misophonia generally and that would drive me absolutely mad. I think it would be so loud as to be distracting and irritating for just about everyone. Also the idea of chewing ice sets my teeth right on edge!

    4. WantonSeedStitch*

      The noises of other people eating rarely bother me. If someone else did that, I wouldn’t say anything because it probably wouldn’t even register. It’s not something I’d be likely to do, but I might eat, say, potato chips at my desk. If someone told me the noise of my having a snack (as opposed to CONSTANTLY grazing on chips) was distracting and asked me politely to stop, I’d probably think it was a bit over the top, but I’d put them away and not make a big deal about it.

      1. Joielle*

        Same here. My dad has always been a super loud eater and the silver lining is that I don’t even notice chewing sounds anymore. But I understand that they bother some people so I wouldn’t mind if someone told me I was eating too loudly. We live in a society, etc.

      1. Yay! I’m a llama again!*

        Crunching of ice cubes sends shivers down my spine and gives me goosebumps, I wouldn’t be happy!

    5. Sunshine*

      Oh my goodness no. I would be horrified. Even apples are pushing it for me, although I realize that people need to eat and apples are a good snack. I just cannot stand the crunching! I can seriously hear it from ACROSS the room.

      1. Iris Eyes*

        I worked somewhere where someone came in and ate celery every day like 4+ entire stocks and the sound and smell were a decidedly unpleasant combination.

    6. same coin*

      what if you had co workers whose voice you hated and there job was to be on the phone with customers all day, what would you do? it sucks but you can’t really get them to stop and may make your work life more difficult trying to do so . who knows maybe they have a medical problem which requires ice to be consumed ( like Hidrosis or migraines just for examples)

    7. IndyDem*

      I’m not an ice-chewer, but it would have to be an all day/most of the day thing before I’d say anything. You have to be able to give up on certain things to function in an open-office environment. Wanting to control everything that others do that annoy you, like what people eat, is something you’ll have to let go of.

    8. Lifeandlimb*

      I don’t see anything wrong with a coworker chewing ice at desk once or twice a day, but if it’s happening all day that’s a little weird.

      However, in an open plan office I’d probably be listening to music through noise canceling headphones and not hear much of it, anyway.

      If the ice chewing is going on ALL day and interfering with your work (you/your clients can hear it on client calls, it’s distracting), I’d say something. But don’t expect it to stop completely…maybe expect it to get reduced a little.

      You work in an open plan office. Someone somewhere is going to have an annoying habit that you’ll have to cope with.

  8. Sarah*

    I’ve been working at my higher ed admin job for 7 months and am not loving it. I saw a job opening in another department. Is my current job still too new for an internal transfer? What if I get an interview but don’t get the job–won’t everyone know I’m looking to leave? I’m probably just overthinking this all sigh

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      It’s a little soon. but job positions don’t come up often.

      If you don’t get it you can phrase it as wanting to keep your interviewing skills in practice, or wanting to know about the skills you should be looking to gain in coming years to be qualified for a role like that one (basically pass it off as you wanted the practice).

    2. Mbarr*

      Oof, tough one. We’ve had a couple of people join our team, and leave for a different department within 6 months… I don’t have great impressions of those people now. (Not that I interact with them anymore, but I definitely feel they used our team as a stepping stone into the company.)

      1. Sarah*

        I definitely wanted to stick around for a while when I first got hired, but things are so, so different than how I thought they would be :/

        1. D.*

          I honestly wouldn’t worry too much about this. At least with my institution, it’s perfectly normal (and honestly expected) for people to move around. Less than a year, yes, might be a little feather-ruffling, but it totally happens.

    3. jane's nemesis*

      Some universities have HR policies about how long you have to be in a job before you can seek an internal transfer – sometimes it’s 6 months, sometimes it’s a year. 7 months seems fine to me, as long as you’re not somewhere with the year policy.

      As far as everyone knowing – you don’t have to tell anyone you’re applying, and the department you’re applying to *should* keep your application confidential. That doesn’t mean they will, but you could ask an HR rep for your department what the policy is on that.

      When I have moved roles/departments in higher ed, I’ve been able to discuss with the hiring manager that I’d like to tell my current supervisor myself before they check my reference, etc., that way I would know if I was getting the job or not before my current department finding out.

      1. jane's nemesis*

        also keep in mind that some higher ed institutions have absolutely slow as molasses hiring timelines, so if you apply for this job now, it could be a month (or three! or longer! ask me how I know) before you’re actually giving notice at your current position to leave for the other department.

    4. Sharks Are Cool*

      My higher ed admin job has a policy that you need to wait 6 months before moving to another position. I moved after a year + from a reception role I was insanely burnt out from into an admin role in the same department…and because they couldn’t hire anyone due to the low pay of the reception role, I had to keep. doing. the. role. I. hated. at least part time, for six months. On exactly 6 months I asked my manager what the plan was to get me off reception, and when there wasn’t one, I began applying to other roles, and moved to my current job in a different department 7 months from starting the admin role. When interviewing, I only told the one co-worker I’d asked to be a reference, and I was so nervous I’d be spotted walking across campus for my interview! But it worked out, and now life is better. Everyone I talked to at the new department did ask why I was leaving so soon. I told the truth while putting a positive spin on it. So based on my experience, my advice would be to go for it but be prepared with a professional reason about why you’re looking and why the new department will be a better fit. And check the employee handbook for policies like the 6-month rule at my institution.

    5. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

      Higher ed job searches can go slow, so even if you apply now, it could be another month until they’re ready to start interviewing. And depending on how big your institution is, and how close this department is to yours, it’s quite possible it will never get back that you interviewed.

    6. Accounting Gal*

      Probably too soon. At my University you’re also required to let your current boss know if you apply for a different job at the University, so you may run into that as well… and even if you’re not required, people talk and academia is gossipy so they may find out anyways. My suggestion would be to look outside the Uni if you’re ready to leave. Good luck!

      1. Sarah*

        I work for such a large org I’d be more surprised than not if word got around! But I’m prepared to face it if it happens; I’d regret not applying even if everyone knows and I don’t get the job. But if I don’t get this one, I’ll definitely be looking outside the uni!

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

      At an administrative assistant level, moving around seems to be really common at my university and I personally wouldn’t bat an eyelash at someone trying to find a better position quickly, especially if you’re relatively new to the org. IME I find that academia is perhaps more forgiving of people who are “looking to leave” than corporate — we actually have job boards for positions at other universities for faculty who are hoping to get tenure or move up (Chair, Associate Dean, etc.) and that attitude seems to extend to staff.

    8. Engineer Gal*

      Assume they will find out-the gossip mill is relentless. You don’t want your current boss to find out you are jobseeking internal from someone else.

    9. D.*

      It depends. Generally speaking, yes, it’s probably too soon, but I also know that–at least in my higher ed institution–hiring moves at a glacial pace. So, even if you do apply now, if you were at my employer, if you were selected, you’d probably not move to the next position for another 2-3 months. I don’t know so much about internal transfers, but our employer has some rule about not being promoted into another position for at least 6 months after hiring (barring extraordinary circumstances); again, that’s not necessarily an internal transfer policy, but it’s somewhat parallel.

      It also depends on what you mean by “internal.” Are you looking to move to a different team within the same overall unit? Then yes, truthfully, it would probably get out on some level that you’re throwing your hat in the ring. But if you’re moving to a completely different area on campus, the risk of that should lower substantially.

      If I were you, I’d probably stick it out for the year and then push for a transfer (unless it’s too good a position to pass up). I’m sort of in this boat myself; I’ve been with the institution for 5 years now, but on my current team for a year. I’m not happy with it, and I’m looking to leave for another area of campus as soon as I can. Good luck!

  9. SilentSabre*

    My company used to have one PTOB accrual rate for less than X years of service, and then it would get bumped up after that. I just got to the higher rate, and it’s been great! They just announced that they’re removing the rate increase next month, so everyone in the company will be at the low rate with no opportunity for increase. I lose a week of PTOB with nothing to make up for it. Not sure there will be anything that can be done, but it’s incredibly demoralizing.

    1. SomebodyElse*

      So they are taking away PTO for those in the higher accrual years? Or are they going to grandfather you and the increase would only affect those who haven’t reached the higher accrual rates yet?

      I think the short answer is to start looking for a new job. This is a big flag that the financials aren’t solid here, as they are essentially putting into effect a pay cut :(

      1. SilentSabre*

        Nope, we’re not being grandfathered in. They also keep telling us how solid the financials are – they’re excuse is that we’re getting too expensive for our customers? It makes no sense. Sadly, I probably will brush up my resume to have it ready…

    2. ferrina*

      That’s awful! Have you said anything to your boss? It’s worth flagging that you’re losing a benefit that you were really excited about.

      You’re right that the boss might not be able to do anything, but sometimes enough people speaking out can cause change. Sometimes not. But worth gently expressing your disappointment (and if you’re berated for being disappointed, that means this place is more broken than originally thought).

      1. SilentSabre*

        Oh I wasted no time expressing my displeasure to my bosses, but they were kinda blindsided by this whole thing too. They’re understanding, I still hold out some hope for getting a decent raise this year, but really an increase in salary isn’t the same. No one is happy about it though, so we’ll see if any kind of collective pushback does anything.

    3. Hen in a Windstorm*

      That’s ridiculous! When my company did this (or rather the opposite) several years ago, they eliminated years of service and gave *everyone* the same 22 days. WTH, why would you take away PTO from your longest term employees?!!

      Maybe they want you to leave.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        In my field, long-term employees are seen as more expensive than newer ones, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they were trying to push out the longest-tenured without being accused of age discrimination.

      2. Girasol*

        The way you put that makes a kind of sense. I got pushed out of a job during a massive downsizing in which “voluntary retirement” was played up as a big deal. Our positions were refilled so quickly with college hires that it was clear that they weren’t really down-sizing, they were young-sizing. The new folks started at the bottom of the PTO and salary scales and they didn’t get many benefits that we had. Ever since then I’ve wondered how companies decide whether to withhold pay and benefits increases from long-time employees who have demonstrated loyalty and accrued company-specific skills or to offer pay and benefit increases but then kick older employees out, when they get too expensive, in favor of cheaper newbies who lack their skills.

  10. Our Tree Is Still Up*

    I liked the recent piece about not being afraid to ask challenging questions at the end of your interview. I love the principle of that. But – culture check: Do UK or Irish readers think that that would fly in this part of the world? (Not to lump the countries in together too much, but I work in both countries and find work culture fairly similar between them.)

    I’ve been on both sides of the interview process a few times here and have only asked / witnessed milder, open questions, like “What’s the most challenging thing about the post?” And candidates tend to ask just 1 or 2. Do you think it would go down ok here to approach it how Alison advises?

    1. Cordelia*

      yes I’m in the UK and wondered this myself. I’ve done a lot of interviewing, and would be somewhat taken aback if someone asked questions this detailed, I wouldn’t see it as a negative necessarily, but it wouldn’t sway me in their favour at all. Questions from the interviewee would usually be just one or two, asking for factual info about the role not already covered in the interview. It’s fine to say “no thanks, it’s all been covered” if thats the case and ask about the next steps, from my experience.

    2. MigraineMonth*

      I don’t have any experience in UK/Ireland, but I have asked some really challenging questions in interviews.

      The most aggressive was, “So, what have you changed about your sales practices since the State of California won those class-action cases against you for fraud and racial discrimination?”

      I still cannot believe I was offered the job. I did not accept it.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          I was pretty sure I didn’t want the job, but was pressured into accepting the interview by a recruiter. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out whether or not the company was an MLM (the job I was interviewing was salaried, but their entire sales team were “independent small-business CEOs”).

          Their answer was along the lines of, “It’s not our fault if the ‘independent small business owners’ lie to customers” and convince them to take out financing plans just to afford the product.” When I asked them why the financing plans written in Spanish worse than the ones written in English, they didn’t really have an answer.

          Thanks to their answers, I decided I’d rather stay unemployed than work for them.

    3. TechWorker*

      It depends on the interviewer, but I see no reason why not! I think it also depends how attractive you are as a candidate to some extent, an interviewer will be willing to answer ‘difficult’ questions if they are invested in hiring you and may try less hard if they’re not. (I am in the U.K. and have interviewed for years, but all at one company so not sure I have loads to go on with respect to what’s ‘average’ or ‘normal’)

    4. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      I’m in the US so feel free to ignore this, but I wonder if there’s a way to get at challenging topics without being confrontational? I interviewed for a large university about 5 years after a VERY public scandal (like, internationally known), and I framed it as “how has [scandal] affected [work]?” I really listened to see if the interviewer talked about ways the organization had reformed or if they just brushed it off, so it wasn’t so much what they said but how they talked about it.

  11. Bunny Girl*

    I have a question about job hunting as a later in life student. I am graduating in a couple months and am looking for a job in my field. I currently work in a job I really dislike in a completely unrelated field. I haven’t been here very long. I do have a bit of a job hoping history – but all of my jobs before and during school have been really entry level clerical and administrative jobs that to me weren’t really meant to be long term jobs because of the low pay and no chance of advancement. I have normally stayed in these jobs for 1-3 years.

    What can I do to make myself look better when job hunting? I’m hoping my next job is the job I stay at for the rest of my career. I have done excellent in school and have a couple related seasonal jobs and internships towards my career.

    1. ferrina*

      It kind of depends if it’s closer to 1 year or 3 years.
      If you’ve got several jobs you’ve been at for 3 years, I might not call that job hopping. If you can stay for 3 years, I (as hiring manager) have gotten back my initial onboarding investment. If it’s closer to 1, explain that in your cover letter. “I’m looking for a place where I can build my career for years to come”

      1. Bunny Girl*

        Most of them are closer to one, but as I said, the job title to me signals more “this isn’t a long term job.” But I will definitely add that in my cover letter! That’s a good idea. Thank you.

    2. Elevator Elevator*

      I think the best thing is to focus on the big picture and how to pitch your work/education history as what brought you to this moment and these jobs. “I was doing X and realized I was really interested in Y, and I worked at Companies A and B while I was working towards my degree in Y. I also fit in seasonal work and internships related to Y to get additional experience in the field. Now that I have my degree, I’m looking for a long term role in Y, which is what drew me to your organization.”

      Basically, paint your prior experience in terms of how it led you here, and make it clear that this is what you’ve been working towards and really want to be doing.

      1. Elevator Elevator*

        Sorry, probably misread the timeline – “now that I have my degree” could just as easily be something about how you’re about to graduate. The point is that you’re at an easily-sold inflection point where you have a great “why this is different” explanation for a hiring manager who might otherwise be wary of your work history.

      2. Bunny Girl*

        That’s a very good idea! Thank you. My degree is basically geared towards government work and a lot of the jobs I’ve applied for haven’t asked for a cover letter. Maybe I’ll start adding one as an explanation.

        1. Elevator Elevator*

          Good luck! I’ve definitely been there with the dead-end jobs while figuring out what I wanted to study and then actually getting the degree – congratulations on getting here. :)

          I was job hunting last year after taking an extended time off, and I was really apprehensive about how the resume gap was going to look. To a certain extent I was able to pandemic-handwave it, but it really helped and made me feel a lot better to frame it in terms of “I was doing X, and I realized it wasn’t what I wanted, and now I’ve taken the time to figure out that I want to do Y and I want to do it here.” Figuring out how to frame my personal trajectory made the cover letter better (as did reading basically everything Alison’s ever posted on how to write good cover letters) and it made me feel a lot more confident in interviews.

    3. 1qtkat*

      When you said job hopping, I thought you meant a couple of months. 1-3 years at a job is not job hopping IMO.

      I think Alison has said it before in her resume writing tips, you don’t need to include your whole job history on your resume. It’s supposed to showcase your relevant experiences for a particular job. If your past jobs aren’t relevant to the job/career you’re applying to, don’t include them on your resume.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        That’s where I’m stuck! Some people see a year as job hopping and other people don’t. I think it tends to be more if you are leaving more “professional” jobs, not low paying entry level jobs.

    4. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

      I just wrapped up a hiring process and cover letters that explain gaps are an excellent idea. Ditto if you want to move from one type of job to another (in my line of work, that’s usually people from retail looking to move into office admin roles). Something like, “While pursuing my degree I prioritized jobs that did not conflict with my study schedule, but now that I have my degree, I am seeking…” DO NOT assume that a job title, by itself, signals “not a real job.” And don’t expect hiring managers to connect the dots on your timeline. A cover letter that does that is helpful and welcome.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        Ohh that’s a really good line! I love that! Because that’s exactly what I did. Got jobs with steady full time hours that wouldn’t require overtime or anything wild like that. Thank you!

    5. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Excellent advice above. An additional idea to consider: Put your education (with graduation year) at the top of your resume.

      Pro: Emphasizes that you’re recently graduated and are switchig fields.

      Cons: Potential age discrimination (maybe?) and may make screeners think you lack non-student work experience.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        That’s why I don’t want to leave off all of my prior work experience off my resume. Because I do have like ten years of work history and if I just leave all of it off then it looks like I’m 30 and have never held a job. LoL

        1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          Oh, I didn’t mean leave it off, I meant reorder. Typical resume order is something like:

          *Work Experience
          *Education (e.g., degrees, certificates, etc.)
          *Awards, miscellaneous

          I was suggesting juggling the order:
          *Education (degrees, certificates, etc.)
          *Work Experience
          *Awards, miscellaneous, etc.

    6. Educator*

      I have two very different types of work (nonprofit management and public education) on my resume, and I think it is a lot cleaner to group the similar jobs together, even though that messes with the sequencing a bit. So when I applied for my current nonprofit management role, all of my nonprofit work was right there at the top of the first page under the bold heading “Nonprofit Management Experience.” I love headings—I think it basically does the work of flagging what is most relevant for the reader. You could have a “Thing I Got My Degree In Experience” section at the top with those jobs, then an “Additional Work History” section or an “Administrative and Clerical Experience” section. Really build out the bullets for the first section and leave the second section a little more sparse to keep attention on what is relevant.

  12. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

    I think it would be reasonable to ask for clarification. Perhaps ask during your convo with the boss (if decisions won’t have been made yet) or earlier if the convo with boss is just to inform you of your raise.

    “By the time our convo happens, I will have been at my job for 11 months and may not be eligible for another COL adjustment essentially 2 years after I started. I am wondering if I may be eligible at that time or is this not something that would be on the table?”

  13. Bagel Girl*

    So based on my paycheck, looks like I got a raise. Yay! How do I go to my boss and say “hey, did I actually get a raise? What am I getting paid? What’s my target bonus?”

    It just feels like… a very weird conversation for me to initiate and I’m not sure how to go about it.

    1. HomebodyHouseplant*

      Does your company not provide paystubs? Electronically? You should be able to at least view your current pay that way.

      1. londonedit*

        This is what I was thinking…every month I get a payslip which shows my gross salary and everything that’s deducted (tax, NI, student loan, pension contribution etc) and the final net amount that actually goes into my bank account. Do you not have the same? Here in the UK we’ve had quite a few changes to tax and National Insurance over the last year (thresholds being changed one way or another, etc) so I’ve kept quite a close eye on my payslip to see what effect the changes will have on my net pay going forward. Could be something like that?

      2. Bagel Girl*

        I looked at my paystub and all of my benefits are still being taken out, I think – I’ll ask about this

        1. The New Wanderer*

          I had this situation happen in the last few months of the calendar year. I saw that my net was a little higher than usual, but hourly rate was the same. One of the benefits had capped out (as it was supposed to, I just didn’t realize it at the time) and was no longer being withheld for the remainder of the year.

          However, I can tell you that I had a different pay issue for months earlier this year and it took multiple emails to Payroll to get them to spell out exactly what happened because it could not be determined from just the paystubs themselves.

          Hopefully it just slipped your boss’ mind that they never told you about the raise!

        2. Tio*

          We once had a special appreciation bonus for an employee who had been called out to upper management by her account clients, and it was supposed to hit the last payroll of the month… but it hit early the previous cycle, so we didn’t get to let her know to expect it until she got the extra money and it caused confusion. It might be something like that? Either way, ask your supervisor, if they’re giving you more money either 1. they like you, and fumbled the reveal or 2. You weren’t supposed to get that, and something needs to be corrected and the money paid back. (But probably 1, 2 would be unusual)

    2. Roy G. Biv*

      I would confirm, if it were me, and phrase it as, “My paycheck seems different this time, and I am trying to find out what happened.” And if the answer is yes, it was a raise, thank you, awesome, if need me I’ll be over here, working.

      I would not want to find out months from now it was a payroll glitch, such as not enough tax being withheld, and then they have to scoop it out of your next check or something awful like that.

    3. STG*

      Yea, normally you’d have an idea this was coming ahead of time.

      I’d definitely reach out to your boss if for nothing else than to confirm it’s not a payroll error.

    4. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      I definitely have had direct reports approach me about things they notice on their paycheck and am best positioned to answer those questions. You might also look closer at whether the new year has changed things like unemployment insurance, taxes or other deductions too; sometimes the roll over to a new year means changes there.

    5. DrSalty*

      Can you not just say that? “I was looking at my latest paycheck and it looks like I got a raise. I’m confused because X. Can you clarify what I’m getting paid?”

    6. SomebodyElse*

      Check your paystub! If you’re in the US your benefits contributions generally change at the start of the year. If you are seeing more money that could be an indication of a problem with your benefits (i.e. health ins contribution, 401K contribution, tax deductions, etc).

      If all of those contributions look correct on that first paystub, then ask your boss and/or payroll why there is a change.

    7. Phony Genius*

      It could be a change in the tax rates that took effect at the beginning of the year. From what I understand, some people’s withholdings dropped quite a bit.

      1. HBJ*

        Yes, this is true. I do payroll manually for our very small company and just did the first one for this year. For example, if you make $3,500 per biweekly paycheck, the standard withholding was $286 last year but dropped to $275 this year.

      2. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

        Yes! My withholding went down by about $20 on my first paycheck this week. My gross and benefits were the same on my pay stub, so I looked at the tax withholding part and found the difference there.

    8. Hlao-roo*

      I think it’s a good idea to ask your boss about this, to make sure you are being paid the correct amount. If your paycheck shows your gross pay (before taxes), I would calculate the % increase over your previous gross pay. Then you can go to your boss and say “I was looking over my paycheck, and I noticed that it was X% higher than my last paycheck. Did I get a raise?”

      In my company, I would probably mention this during my scheduled one-on-one with my boss, but it would also be acceptable to drop by his office and ask him anytime he isn’t in a meeting.

      1. Bagel Girl*

        Oh shoot, I didn’t even consider that it might be a payroll error. I’ll go talk to my boss – we don’t have scheduled one-on-ones or performance reviews, but if he’s in today, I’ll knock on his door.

        1. Kettle Belle*

          yes, check with your boss (or even Payroll). In 2020, I had gotten an extra few bucks in my pay. I called payroll to see what it was all about. Turns out it was a “Thank you” payment from the company. The Thank You was for working during the pandemic. It’s always good to check. You don’t want to spend the money only to find it was a payroll error.

          1. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

            I got a $500 bonus I wasn’t expecting. I reached out to HR and it turns out that I signed something during onboarding that would give the company the rights to any IP I created in the scope of my job duties. After you’ve been with the company for 6 months, they pay you $500 for signing off on it. It was a nice surprise!

    9. PsychNurse*

      I have a friend who reduced her hours but inadvertently kept getting paid for her former role. So her paychecks were higher than they should have been, and for some reason, she decided to just go with it and keep the money. Well, about six months later, predictably, the company realized their error and told her she had to pay it back. She was so mad and saying it was illegal, but a quick google search showed that nope, an error is an error and you can’t just keep the money (I mean I’m sure there’s nuance, but in her case, she was definitely on the hook to return it). Moral of the story– if you get more money than you expect, find out why!

  14. Not So Super-visor*

    So my transfer to my new promotion is happening!! This is my last day in my current role. This is 8 weeks in the making. it was originally delayed because a software update was supposed to happen mid-December during the middle of my current boss’ 2 week European vacation with the other supervisor going on vacation as soon as she returned. The software update got pushed back to March, but my current boss kept stalling. On the day before New Years’ Eve, she mentioned that I’d better get comfy in my current work station (things were half packed since new role is WFH) since software update is not until March. I went to my new VP with my concerns about staying in the role until March and that no one had explained to me that my move was dependent upon the software update (it was pitched to me by current boss and current VP as terrible timing with the update and boss’ vacation). He got upset because no one had told him that either and pushed the issue.
    Current dept threw me a very nice going away party with cake, card, and flowers.

    Here’s the hitch: on the first workday of the new year, a 30 year employee transferred into this current department. Current boss did not tell me or other supervisor about it, so nothing was set up prior to her showing up as far as a work station or her training (very different roles). I tried to be hands off knowing that I’d be leaving soon but current boss and other supervisor made a mess of it, and I had to step in to fix a lot of things about her access and getting her set up with training. This new-to-the-department employee hated this new job, but her old position was being eliminated. She called in yesterday and then sent current boss an email stating that today was to be her last day. She is now very upset and crying because they have a going away party for me but no one did anything for her (30 year employee). I feel terrible and suggested to my boss that she take her out for lunch but apparently the employee already has plans.

    1. Colette*

      She’s upset that no one organized a party for her when she quit yesterday and today is her last day? Forget about it, that’s a her problem.

      1. Serenity*

        In new department where no one knows her.

        I understand why after 30 years with the company, no going-away party is emotional for her, but she’s mourning a lot of things that aren’t your responsibility, definitely including timing that made it unreasonable.

        1. Ama*

          Yeah the company handled this terribly for that employee but that’s not your problem. Unfortunately these kind of things happen when people transition between departments — her old department probably thought it was in poor taste to throw a party since she didn’t want to leave, but her new department doesn’t know her well enough. (At my work they probably would have had a senior manager ask if she wanted a party and then done something but we’re also pretty small.) I also suspect her emotions are already pretty raw since she the job she was happy in was eliminated so it’s probably about a lot more than just no party.

          1. Cyndi*

            Yeah, that pileup of circumstances would upset me too even if I knew perfectly well it wasn’t anyone’s fault–and Not So didn’t say she was blaming anyone, just that she’s upset.

    2. Be Gneiss*

      It feels like the department she transferred out of should have thrown her a good-bye party when she transferred? But maybe I’m reading that wrong.

      1. SofiaDeo*

        And I think the optics of celebrating someone’s position being eliminated would mean “no transfer party.” So I get the stress of job being eliminated, coming into new department where no one seemed to know she was coming/welcomed her, plus seeing a person getting a transfer being celebrated, got this person even more upset. Because the “no one threw me a party even though I called in sick then immediately quit” is irrational. Exactly when was this “I am a 30 year employee who is leaving” supposed to happen, when she suddenly quit?

        1. MigraineMonth*

          Not to mention, she had lunch plans the day they offered to take her out to lunch. Is she offering to come back after her last day just for a party?

    3. Observer**

      Why is this a “hitch”. I mean, the company didn’t handle the situation well, but that’s totally not your issue. You stepped up to do what needed to be done, but this is TOTALLY out of your lane. And there is no reason why it should affect you in your new position.

      PS I feel bad for this person but I don’t think she handled things well either. I mean, she basically quit with no notice, and then had other plans when her current boss offered to take her to lunch. What exactly was she expecting?

      1. Not So Super-visor*

        Honestly, it’s just that I feel badly for her about how the whole thing was handled. I had people coming up to me (with a plate full of cake) and congratulating me and telling me how much that they’ll miss me in this specific role, and she was at her desk sniffling and dabbing her eyes.

        I did convince current boss to let her leave for the day but still pay her for her time. As for her former department, it was a department of 3 that was eliminated. The other 2 employees decided to retire (and had retirement parties), and she wasn’t old enough for retirement so she looked for a place to transfer.

        1. Colette*

          It sounds to me like the person who mishandled it was her. Her old role was elimated; she was given a new one. Not a fun thing to have happen, but the best possible outcome.

          Less than 2 weeks after starting her new role, she quit with one day warning. Her boss offered to take her out for lunch on that day, and she declined because she already had plans.

          The company did nothing wrong here (although it sounds like there were relatively minor snags with her actual move).

          I understand she’s upset because she would rather be back in her old role, but if she’s sad about a party she didn’t get one day after she resigned, she’s out of line.

    4. linger*

      I have some sympathy for Coworker. Her situation probably feels a lot like constructive dismissal:
      – No farewell at old department, because she wasn’t leaving willingly.
      – No welcome at new department, because new position wasn’t communicated adequately in advance.
      – New position assigned was, shall we say, not aligned with her strengths, forcing extensive retraining, and eventual quitting.

  15. Financial Aid Fellow*

    I’m a financial aid administrator at the director level. I’m looking to get out of financial aid direct service, we’re super understaffed and it’s just not getting better. I’ve worked at the same small university, that I want to leave, for almost a decade and that’s really my only work experience. I want to do something remote and I’d like to leave direct service but I don’t even know what to look for.
    I’d like to do something in Ed Tech so that I could use my education background, get aid well, and work remotely but I don’t know where to start looking. It also seems like so many roles are either truly entry level and pay terribly or slightly above entry level and ask for very specific experience (pretty much, exactly the job being listed). Any advice? Anyone else get out of financial aid with a success? I’m so burned out!

    1. BagginsAtHeart*

      You’re not alone! Look for the EDU Pivoters group on LinkedIn and Expatriates of Student Affairs group on Facebook — you’ll find resources, success stories, and a support group :) I personally transitioned from 8 years in admissions/advising to customer success — first with a leadership training company, and currently with an ed tech company.

    2. Formerly Frustrated Optimist*

      I can relate to this. When I was looking to leave a very small higher education organization, many of the jobs I saw at universities were “bachelor’s required / master’s preferred” but clearly only paid entry level.

      Two co-workers and I were able to parlay our education skills into the healthcare arena: One of us went to the training department of a large health insurance company, and two others went to different hospital systems. We talked up the aspects of being entrusted with students’ confidential information, etc., which of course related to HIPAA. And a *lot* of healthcare involves training/teaching, both to internal as well as external constituents.

      1. Financial Aid Fellow*

        Yeah so frustrating. I applied to a consulting firm that works with financial aid offices, which was the closest job aligned with my skill set and experience and I didn’t even get a response. Other things like learning and development, training, even grant writing, I have SOME experience that overlapped with my work as running the financial aid department, but it’s not going to be exact and that seems to be what people want for anything above entry-level which I can’t afford to do at this point in my life. I have a mortgage, kids, and life is expensive and I can’t take a 30-50% pay cut. But I also feel so demoralized in my current role that, for my sanity, I need to get out.

        1. Formerly Frustrated Optimist*

          You sound a lot like me a few years ago. I needed to get out of my then-workplace badly, and my mental health was suffering, but I couldn’t afford to be without a paycheck and benefits.

          I waited it out, and expanded the radius in which I was willing to commute. That helped. A smaller city was willing to take a chance on me. And I did take a pay cut, but not nearly as bad as what the entry-level salaries I was seeing would have been.

          Are you including cover letters with your applications, following the excellent advice and examples on this site? That could go a long way on selling your transferable skills.

          Happy to continue this conversation here, if that would be helpful.

    3. M2*

      I would say look at non-profits for grant/ development roles. I know a couple people who have been laid off in ed-tech type companies recently. Have you looked at college board or ETS for jobs? Some of those are remote.

      I know you’re over higher Ed and want out but look at other universities but different departments.

      I have a few friends in higher ed and they all are hiring for upper-level (including at Ivys) so I would look around at their specific- school websites.

      Do you have any private schools in your area? I know at least one (in my area) that poached someone in admissions/ financial aid at a university to head some department to aid their students in applying.

      Good luck!

      1. Financial Aid Fellow*

        The issue is I really need a remote role and all the university roles I’m seeing are either “on-site” or say remote but then expect travel in a certain area. I have two young children and really need a truly remote role for at least the next 1-2 years.

  16. No Spring Chicken*

    I’ve been working in PR for over 10 years. I can’t work in PR anymore. The constant state of alert (and accompanying lack of work/life boundaries), responding to aggressive reporters, messaging sensitive issues, the public damning you if you do or if you don’t, coming up with spin for a whole host of issues that no one seems to take any responsibility for has become exhausting. But, I’m having a really hard time wrapping my head around a career change.

    I was offered a job that would have been ideal if not for the 50% pay cut that came along with it. Don’t get me wrong, I understand a pay cut is likely necessary if I change careers. But, I’m no spring chicken — starting at the absolute bottom and making peanuts is not going to support my senior years (which feel like they’re rapidly approaching).

    Any other flacks out there who can commiserate?

    1. Bunny Girl*

      Dude yes. I am a later in life student who just is finishing the last couple months of their degree. I have plenty of work experience but very limited in the specific field that I’m in. The problem is all the entry level jobs in this field have basically unlivable wages. Like $12 to $14 an hour. I cannot live on that so I have to just keep applying to mid-level positions and hope someone gives me a chance.

    2. ABK*

      I can commiserate and will follow to see if anyone has any suggestions! I just turned 60, and am aching to leave my HR-related job and career, but haven’t had any luck finding something else and can’t afford to retire or take a huge pay cut now. So I’m focusing on keeping my head down, and trying to get through.

    3. Alessandra*

      I hear you! If you’re looking for opportunities to pivot, and are in the US, I would suggest looking at and any communications-focused positions. It’s probably much more boring, but there are lots of openings for media/communications specialists to draft newsletters/tweets/public briefs about new policies and such from government offices. It is much less stressful, way more stable, and there seems to be much less bias against older applicants (though likely would be a pay cut as well). For example:

      1. Bunny Girl*

        Just FYI as someone applying to federal jobs and who has a partner that is working for the feds, HR is really backed up for a lot of positions and it’s taking longer for hiring for many federal jobs. So if you need something quickly, this might not be the ideal place to look.

      2. I exist*

        similarly, there may be similar but less intense roles in state gov or higher ed without the constant alert concerns (coming from someone working at a state university who interacts with people in similar roles, one person I know also does/has done PR, now in the “marketing” dept)

    4. Chapeau*

      My pay cut was only 25%, going from a college communications department to a state government job…
      My actual take home pay, however, actually went up ($1 or $2) because I’m paying less money for health insurance and because the pension contribution plus retirement savings is less than what I was putting into my retirement when I worked for the college.
      TLDR: Benefits for government employees are generally less expensive than private sector, so the actual pay cut isn’t as big as it looks. It’s just something to keep in mind.

    5. BadCultureFit*

      Can you move into a different part of comms? I’ve spent most of my career in Internal Comms, so I often have overlap with PR (and we ladder up to the same exec).

    6. MigraineMonth*

      I burned out at my job 3 years ago. It was a very lucrative job at the height of my career, and I literally started looking at jobs like being a dogwalker or mowing lawns because I’d completely forgotten what drew me to my field in the first place. I ended up quitting with no job lined up and taking several months to rest and reset. After that, I applied for positions in my field at organizations that was much slower-paced and did have work-life balance. I had to take a large pay cut, yes, but not “entry-level in a new field” level. It was enough to rekindle joy in my work life.

      Are there PR-adjacent jobs that are low-stress (or even boring)? That might allow you to continue to leverage your years of experience in salary negotiations, but give you the breathing room to recover from what sounds to me like burnout.

    7. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      I work in marcom so generally work with PR, but I would never ever want to be PR!

      Can you sidestep to an in-house corporate communications role perhaps? That would seem to be the easiest move. You still may end up doing some PR, but not all the time and your experience would be valuable.

    8. Financial Aid Fellow*

      YES! My post above yours is a similar issue. I’ve worked in financial aid for about a decade and I need to move to something else, for pretty similar reasons you want to leave PR. I’m pretty high up in financial aid so I was hoping that it would at least put me at something mid-level elsewhere but I just applied to a Partnerships Director at a local company that seemed really aligned with my experience but would be about a 10-15% pay cut and they wrote back asking if I would be interested in a lower position in that same department, which I’m guessing would be more like a 20-40% pay cut from what I get now. And, unless the benefits were just amazing and there was a strong potential to move up quickly, that would be such a hit to our financial situation.

    9. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      What about digital PR/SEO outreach? In demand and you have transferable skills.

  17. Flying Fridays*

    Advice on how to choose a new career: I’m 15 years into a career in tech. It’s a good job, but I don’t want to it for another 15 years. OTOH, I don’t know how to find and pursue a new career. What resources (websites, books, general advice) what you suggest? FYI, I’m currently reading the book, Designing Your Life.

    1. ferrina*

      I’d start with informational interviews. Sit down with friends and ask about their careers. What jobs exist in their fields? What do those jobs look like? What qualifications are needed? The inside info can be invaluable.

      It helps if you have a strong sense of what you’re looking for. It will help you know what questions to ask and what aspects will work for you long-term.

      1. another poster*

        Second the informational interviews, and reaching out and discussing it with people in your network. My husband just went through this, after being in a career for 13 years. There were specific things about his previous career he wanted to get out of, and others that he could keep doing and parlay into something else (he’s a lawyer, trying to keep it anonymous). He did informational interviews and used his network to get an idea of what to do next. For him, it is (at least) a two step process. His first jump was a lateral move into a field that’s pretty similar and highlights the stuff from his old job (ex: for tech, and you want to move into banking – something like the IT business liaison for a bank – where they would jump at your experience in IT). Then from there gain experience in the new area to specialize, and then look to make the 2nd jump. he used our network to get more information about this next step.
        My point – ask around, talk about it a lot, think through what you’d like your day to be like. And it may take a couple of jumps (maybe with a pay cut in there) to get to your long term goal.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      How different a career do you want (any areas of interest)? And what do you currently do in tech?

    3. SofiaDeo*

      Second the aptitude testing, find out if you have unsuspected strengths. Perhaps look at part time/contract jobs in those areas, to see if you are interested.

      FWIW,I grew disenchanted with my career, and took classes/got a license/started other job part time. I decided I didn’t like it so much after all. I managed to find another aspect of OldJob I was not an expert in, and focused on that, and got a new found satisfaction with OldJob slanted towards New Aspect. So also look at oddball aspects/niche roles of your current tech job, you may get interested/excited like I did. And the nice part about that is, the salary didn’t dip like it generally does when attempting a totally new career during the “intro” level.

    4. Hen in a Windstorm* – it’s run by the Dept of Labor, and it’s all about helping you figure out a new career.

    5. Flying Fridays*

      Thank you, Hlao-roo and all of you – This is a great place to start.

      Anonymous Educator, I think I actually do like some/most of my job. But the job has high expectations, requires long hours, and high level of responsibility for the overall area. It’s also not a role where you can easily split responsibilities with someone else to divide and conquer. So above all, it’s a job change for a better work-life balance.

      osmoglossom and SophiaDeo, I think I do my currently job… reasonably well? Not the worst, not a rock star. But it would be interesting to see what’s a transferable skill.

      Thanks all!

  18. Late for an Important Date*

    I’m an office administrative assistant with a start time of 8:30AM at both my last job and my current job. At my last job, it was fine if you were 10-15 minutes late, as long as you made up that time at the end of the day. I was grateful for that because I lived an hour away and frequently hit traffic. In my current job, my boss is much more strict about being on time. When I had been at my new job for 6 months and it was evaluation time, she asked me if I found the 8:30 start ‘challenging’ and if I preferred to put my start time back to 9AM. I did not want that and said I would strive to do better. It’s been a year now and I’d hoped I was doing better but I know I slipped. My boss mentioned it to me again today when I was 12 minutes late.

    I know I can do better and I don’t want to push back my start time. Honestly, 2022 was a rough year for me (with personal stuff, not with work) and my lateness was mostly due to lying in bed with depression and struggling to get up, rather than a traffic issue. I’m working on that and determined to make 2023 a better year. How do I handle my boss when evaluations come up? Admit that last year was a personal struggle and ask for a little more time to prove myself? Accept the 9AM start time for a year and then ask to move it back? Our evaluations are in two months, can I change her mind by sticking to it for that amount of time?

    I don’t believe I have any other performance issue except for this lateness; my boss is kind and we get along great but is a strict rule follower. If she insists on the 9AM start time, I’ll of course accept it but I’d really rather not.

    1. Colette*

      Why don’t you want to move to 9 AM? Does it complicate the rest of your day? (Maybe 8:30 is just too early with your commute and health.)

      Can you move your start time to 9 AM with the agreement that you’ll start (and end) earlier if you get there earlier?

      1. Late for an Important Date*

        She won’t go for that flexible option. There are other people with jobs who would make sense to give them more flexible hours and she will not allow it. Mostly I don’t want to do a 9AM start because I like leaving at 4:30PM as opposed to 5PM.

        1. Colette*

          OK, so you have two choices – figure out a way to get yourself to work by 8:30 every day (with maybe one or two exceptions a year) or take the 9:00 start and make that work.

          If you’re committed to the first option, I think you should raise it now. “I know I’ve been late too often, and I’m focused on being on time every day going forwared.” Don’t wait for the perforance evaluation – tell her now that you’re trying to improve. And then use the time before your evaluation to show her you can do it.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            Echoing the chorus of talking to your boss now. Thank her for the feedback, acknowledge your mistakes, and tell her what specific steps you’re taking to make sure you won’t be late again. Then do your best to follow through (which I know depression makes very hard, but try to remind yourself everything you like about leaving at 4:30pm).

            Good luck!

    2. Sarah*

      To be honest, 10 to 15 minutes late on the regular would be an issue at most jobs. If you manage to come in on time every day until your evaluation, that would give evidence to your boss that you don’t need the change, but otherwise it may be more beneficial to you to start later.

      1. Late for an Important Date*

        I fully acknowledge that I’ve messed up because I got too used to the flexible start time of my last job combined with the struggles of the last year. So I do want to do better.

        1. SofiaDeo*

          Maybe bring this up to Boss now. Tell her this. And tell her your New Year’s Resolution is to commit to the start time. Do it before your evaluation. “This has been on my mind, I want to change it, I am committed to doing so.” Acknowledge that your previous position allowing Flex Start has affected you more than your previously thought, and you are taking extra effort to resolve this problem. If you have been seeing a doc re:the depression, consider mentioning it, if you have documentation, if you think you are in danger of being put on a PIP for tardiness. But it depends the type of boss you have. Some will understand/take it into account, some will use it against you “I don’t want people with problems on my team”.

          I worked retail a while, and was responsible for opening the pharmacy, and I was not a morning person. Previously in school, I had mostly evening jobs, and switching to day shift was a problem for me. I was sometimes late. So I started planning on arriving at work 15-20 minutes before I needed to be there. It got me past the “oops late again” hump. And decided that I needed to be in a place (like a hospital) that was open 24/7, where my oopses/late would be annoying but not quite the same as “the entire department is standing around waiting for you, and we also have angry customers because nothing is getting done because of YOU.” I finally got the “being late” thing under control.

          One other recommendation, get a full spectrum light or lightbulbs (like Ott) and turn them on first thing in the AM, even/especially on weekends. Same time, every day, get a timer for the lamp. Get outside ASAP if you have, say, a dog that needs to get out. Sunlight in eyes early AM helps reset body clock, fall asleep easier, and deal with depression, especially if you have any SAD contributing to your depression At All. I am now at a point where I wake up around the same time, daily, even on weekends, because if I am tired/need extra sleep, my body says “go to bed early” and my mind follows. I still have bouts of depression, but this helps me get out of bed.

        2. Crab Apple Jelly*

          You have my sympathy. There are lots of people who really really struggle with being exactly on time every time – some of those dealing with depression. No matter how conscientious and hard working they are. I think it’s unfortunate that your boss isn’t willing to be a bit flexible – this is about accomodating neurodiversity as much as anything.

          I have found it somewhat useful to schedule my personal start time for 30 minutes earlier (or even more – 45 mins, an hour… whatever works) and really start to act like that’s my start time. If you arrive early, then, is there any productive or dare I say pleasant way you could use that time?
          Not a foolproof plan, since the mind might not take your new pretend start time seriously. But worth trying.

          One other thing – are you depressed particularly in the morning because you dread something about getting up? Eg, do you dread the cold air outside the bed, getting your stuff organised to leave the house, or your commute, or the atmosphere at work? Is there anything you can do to gamify/hack that and make it more palatable?

          Very best of luck!

          1. Katy*

            This is very much a “just works for specifically me” solution, but I go to a gym where you have to schedule time to use the pool, and I schedule swims at 7:30 am, which lets me swim, change, and get to work by 9. That means that if I’m running late leaving the house, the lateness cuts into my swim time, not my work time, and as my gym charges for no-shows, there’s motivation to actually get to the swim.

            Now, this specific solution will probably not work for you, but is there something similar you could schedule in to give you a pre-work buffer, so that if you’re late you’re late to that activity and not to work?

    3. Lady_Lessa*

      Can you aim to be at the office at 8 am? (I’m also about an hour away.) That will give you a cushion of time if you arrive early.

      1. Late for an Important Date*

        That’s probably what I’m going to aim for, and to make my lunch the night before rather than in the morning.

        1. Lady_Lessa*

          GRIN, I tend to make 5 days worth of lunches on Sundays, and freeze my sandwiches. That way in the mornings, I just take from various piles and have a decent lunch.

        2. ferrina*

          These strategies will help regardless of start time. You need to address the core reason why you are late. In this case, it sounds like you are leaving late. In addition to mentally moving the start time earlier and prepping things in advance, are you treating the depression that is keeping you in bed?

          If you are treating the depression, you could mention to your boss that it was a medical issue that you are now treating with a doctor (only say it if it’s true). I’d only disclose this if the boss pushes the issue.

          1. debbietrash*

            +1 on addressing (and treating) the related depression (provided you have access to resources such as doctors, therapy, etc. as appropriate).

            I used to have an 8am start at a former job, which was fine in the warm seasons but really difficult through the cold, dark seasons. Even now, I have a 9am start that I find difficult some days in the winter. I’ve had to look at my entire daily/weekly routine, from prepping lunches the night before, setting alarms a little earlier (big ups for light alarms over sound alarms), and creating other short cuts in the morning to get me out the door earlier. At the other end of my routine I’ve also had to set myself a clear bedtime routine, including no food after a certain time, ensuring I’m getting enough sleep. There are still days where I wake up and go “oh crap” because I overslept or can’t find the energy to get out of bed, but these things have helped overall.

        3. SofiaDeo*

          Check weather and set out clothes, too. Will you possibly need to shovel/deal with snow? Rain? Plan for that.

        4. Robin Ellacott*

          I put my clothes out the night before too – I put up a hook in the hall between bedroom and ensuite and hang the hangers on that, shoes under the bench there and so on. In my case it’s more about not being a morning person and worrying about what eccentric combination of clothing 7am me would choose, but it does save time the next day too.

          And I have a smoothie for breakfast to I have that ready to go in the blender.

    4. brainstorming*

      Kindly, I wonder if a switch to 9 AM would even be an improvement if your lateness is tied more to mental health than traffic.

      Are you doing anything for yourself that can help with this? That is the real priority here (especially since your mental wellbeing is so much more important than work in the grand scheme of things)!

      1. Mill Miker*

        I know personally, when I’ve gone through similar “Late because I can’t convince myself to get out of bed just to go to work” phases, the only way changing the start time would actually help is if it let me commute at a time when the commute was more predictable. I wasn’t getting up until the “Oh no, I’m going to be late if I don’t start moving 5 minutes ago” panic hit.

        If you do go for the later time, and if you’re more of a morning person than I’ve ever been, try and give yourself something to do before work in the morning that you enjoy. I got through a whole patch on “If I can leave a little early, I can grab a nice breakfast on my way in”, but I’m very much not a morning person, and very motivated by breakfasts.

    5. WantonSeedStitch*

      I would acknowledge the problem, show some improvement if you can, and talk about things that you’re doing to improve. “I know punctuality has been an issue for me over the past year. It’s been due in part to some personal issues that I’ve been working on, and I feel like things are getting better in that area. I’m also putting in the effort to do more prep the night before so that I don’t need as much time to get ready in the morning. I feel like since [whenever you feel this improvement really starts], I’ve been doing a good job of getting in on time, and I am committed to maintaining that.”

    6. Dark Macadamia*

      Honestly, it sounds like your boss is trying to kindly give you an out. You know that lateness is an issue in this job. You know that you’re sometimes (often?) late. Your boss should be more direct about it but it sounds like she’s framing it as an accommodation of your need to show up later than 8:30 rather than “you need to be here when your shift starts.”

    7. I know I am the AH.*

      If I was your supervisor, I would be wondering if this position is a good fit.
      Also are there other issues?
      You say not but do a self evaluation. Is work done in a timely matter? Accurately? Are deadlines met? 80 percent isn’t good enough.
      HR hates PIPs yet loves documenting lateness as something that is documentable.
      For example, I am probably ready to work at 8 and need my person to be ready for hand offs at 8:30 so I can get on with my day.
      If my admin is not here and I am waiting and annoyed.
      I have had this situation.
      Start time is 8:30.
      I offered a later start time.
      She said no.
      A year of inconsistent “doing better” doesn’t lessen my annoyance.
      Dependability is part of the job.
      Take the 9:00 start time and be at your desk ready to work at 9:00.
      Do that consistently no matter what and then evaluate before your review.

    8. kt*

      I wonder if you can roll this into any other wellness effort/thing to be kind to yourself with. Like aim to be there at 8:20 but give yourself time for a nice cup of tea or coffee. Or plan in a 20 minute walk near the office (if the area is nice) and then congratulate yourself on taking a walk.

      I guess for me it works better to plan to do something positive/fun/that I’ll be proud of myself for rather than try to just “not make a mistake”. So with food, I do not count calories, but I can challenge myself to use a different veggie every week or go to the farmer’s market or pick out some easy but tasty recipes. With exercise, I do not/cannot just punish myself into something, I have more success when I find a routine I enjoy or pick out great music or meet a friend or whatever. With taking walks, I never find time during the day “because I should” but I was able to build taking a walk into another routine appt I have. What’s something you could build into “being a bit early”?

    9. L. Ron Jeremy*

      I saw a promising contract engineer toss away a full time position because he couldn’t be on time for a 9am Monday meeting. I guess one has to decide what is important to them. I was surprised he was looking for other opportunities at my employer, ones that would allow him more flexibility; once your fired there, you cannot come back.

    10. Educator*

      Reminder that if you have clinical depression, this lateness is the direct result of a medical condition. No life hack, minor schedule adjustment, promise to your boss, or magical thinking about how this year will be different will make a diagnosed medical condition go away. Treatment might.

      Is there any actual impact to you being 15 minutes late? For example, are you missing important calls, leaving clients sitting in the lobby, making your colleagues wait for things, etc? Or is your boss just into this rule for the sake of it? If it is the latter, a request to HR for a medical accommodation could help her see that this rule is not helpful for everyone.

  19. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

    I had a job interview earlier this week and the next day they called- but immediately hung up before I answered, in what was clearly a mis-dial. These things happen and I’m trying to not read anything into it, but now I feel like the Kids in the Hall sketch, “Hotel La Rut.”
    ….I can’t stop thinking about potential job, wondering where it could be, who it is with, what is it thinking, is it thinking of me? … And whether it’ll ever return someday.

  20. Marie*

    How do I (/can I) utilize a LinkedIn connection I don’t know personally?

    I used to work at a large organization in a niche field. While there, the CEO of a small consulting firm in the same industry added me on LinkedIn even though we’d never met. I accepted the connection, but regrettably, I didn’t reach out at the time. We have 10+ mutuals, so I get the impression he does this with some regularity, although he isn’t connected with many of my former coworkers and colleagues.

    Now it’s a few years later, and there is a job at his firm I’m interested in (and definitely qualified for, if not over-qualified), so I applied. My question is…can I leverage this connection and hopefully increase my chances of getting noticed? How would I even go about doing this?

    1. Ormond Sackler*

      The CEO probably doesn’t remember when or why he added you. For all he knows you guys talked for a while and really hit it off. I’d just start with “We connected a while ago, and I’ve applied for this job, etc”.

  21. Wednesday*

    I’m dealing with a girl named “Polly” at work who gives me a headache. Polly seems to think that she’s adorable by virtue of being new, young, pretty, and inexperienced. As much as I feel like we women are too often accused of being flirty, she comes across as extremely flirty to men and somewhat cold to women, unless said women can do something for her. She teases and touches men (on the arm, feeling their ties, brushing lint off their coats) regardless of whether it’s our boss or one of her superiors, and just generally gives me the ick.

    I realize that there’s not much I can do about this but I’ve never encountered someone like this in the wild. I’m an SME with more experience but I’m a contractor, so Polly doesn’t really know what to do with me and generally avoids interacting with me. I keep hoping she’ll get assigned to another group, but it looks like I’m stuck with her for awhile. Has anyone else ever seen this? I guess I didn’t think that this type of person *actually* existed.

      1. Clisby*

        That’s my question. “Polly doesn’t really know what to do with me and generally avoids interacting with me” – sounds like a win to me, unless you NEED Polly to interact professionally with you. If she won’t, then that’s a problem. Otherwise, she just sounds annoying, and the world is full of annoying people.

      2. New Yorker*

        IMHO, this is borderline creating a workplace atmosphere that is unacceptable. People may feel that if they are not pretty or do not want to flirt, they will not be treated fairly. Someone needs to tell her to knock it off.

        1. Observer**

          True, someone does need to tell her to behave. But that’s not the OP’s problem. Fortunately!

          Also, she’s new and it sounds like she’s on the lowest rung of the ladder. So, I don’t think she’s going to cause an issue of perception of fairness.

      3. Wednesday*

        We don’t have to interact much but the few times we do, she has prioritized the things I’ve asked of her the lowest, and I’ve had to ping her a couple of times to get responses.

        1. Observer**

          If it starts causing problems with your work, ask her what you need to do to get more timely responses from her. If (or more likely when) you don’t get anything out of that, go to your boss and ask how to deal with this. Leave out the flirty behavior, etc. That’s gross and inappropriate, but not your problem. But it IS your problem that she’s not getting back to you. So your question is “How do I get what I need from Polly? I’ve spoken to her, but nothing has changed. What do you suggest?”

    1. Sloanicota*

      It’s okay to dislike Polly but I feel like maybe you’re bringing a bit of baggage into the interaction. I’d just try to deal with her the way we deal with all annoying colleagues, of which there are infinite.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      I think you need to reframe your mindset around her a bit. Referring to any woman over the age of 18 “a girl” seems rude to me. Even if someone else is being unprofessional you don’t have to sink to their level.

      If you are her boss or manager you have standing to coach her on workplace norms. In your current role you don’t really have the space to do so. The people she fixes ties on have the standing to say something directly to her or to raise it with her supervisor.

      1. Wednesday*

        It may seem unprofessional to you, but where I live it’s normal and wouldn’t be considered rude or insulting. And I’m not suggesting that I’m able to fix it, I’m really just venting.

          1. Moql*

            Just FYI, it absolutely is. When I moved states I had to train myself to stop using boy and girl to refer to the gender of adults because I would get weird looks. It was something that was applied to everyone in the dialect I grew up with.

            1. Irish Teacher*

              Yup, there are parts of Ireland too where it is very typical to call all men boys and all women girls. Some of my students will greet everybody, even teachers, with “hi boy” or hi girl.” Some of my colleagues are not particularly impressed with this as a student to teacher greeting (sometimes it is cheeky, especially if it’s a dismissive “right, boy” or “right, girl” in response to an instruction, but most of the time, it’s just a habit).

              It also used to amuse me when my dad would talk about how he met “the boys” when they were all around 80. He’d say stuff like “the boys were telling me (whatever bit of gossip was going around).”

          2. Tiff*

            A lot of people from the southern and parts of the western U.S. are going to heavily disagree with you there.

        1. Velociraptor Attack*

          It seems particularly unprofessional and rude because the rest of your comments are dripping with your distaste for her.

          1. Wednesday*

            As I said, it’s a cultural norm where I am, but I can understand how other people would perceive it that way, particularly when they can’t see that Polly and I are the same race, gender and age over text.

            1. Yuck*

              Not relevant. You’re being icky, and getting defensive about it when sallied our. It’s pretty gross.

              Polly isn’t the problem.

              1. Thesaurus*

                For the record, I disagree with you, ‘Yuck’. I think ‘Wednesday’ is just venting about someone who she finds irritating, and if Polly really is touching men’s arms, ties and jackets, acting ditzy to make friends, and being cold to women, then…yeah that sounds annoying, especially at work! Also, the fact that Wednesday says (twice) that she’s never encountered someone like this before reassures me that Wednesday isn’t just someone a bit sexist who is judgemental about young women.

    3. irene adler*

      Yeah- a couple of decades ago, we hired a receptionist who was like this.

      She made no secret that she’d come to California to get a husband. In fact, when she realized a male co-worker of mine did not have a woman calling on the regular, marched right up to him and asked, “Are you married? I never get any calls for you.”

      No, he was not. He was gay- back when revealing this would have cost him his job. He quickly got his female cousin to call him at work a few times.

      And sure, it was icky to watch.

      Then I realized, she knows no other way to interact with men. And no clue how to interact with women.

      I don’t know the remedy for this. But you can model how to talk/work with men in a professional manner and not resort to flirting. And, you can have work conversations with her to show how one communicates with women. MAYBE she will catch on.

      Ours moved on after a year as she was unable to catch a husband. Boyfriends-plenty, but no husband.

      1. Wednesday*

        Unfortunately I don’t see her moving on, but I do see her hitting a ceiling on how far her behavior can get her. She actually has a boyfriend as well, which surprised me given how she acts.

        1. Violet*

          I had an admin once who was a married woman who flirted with all the men regardless of marital status. To get anything out of her, you had to flirt back. Some of the men ate it up, although they talked shit about her appearance. She wasn’t particularly pretty or very young—I think she was in her 30s. I was like you—I did not believe that people like her actually existed (I knew that douche bros who ate it up and talked shit about her existed).
          I don’t think I have any advice, just understanding and sympathy. I know she grinds your gears, but just keep on hiding it from her and calmly continuing to ask for what you need.

          1. Wednesday*

            Thank you. I know I can’t say anything about it and everyone would look at me like *I’m* crazy if I did, but she does bug me.

            1. Violet*

              Lol, I actually did talk about her to other people (obviously not to the douchebros), and other people had totally noticed it! So there are probably other people who have noticed Polly, and one day it will be a huge relief when you all find each other and finally get to voice your annoyance to each other.

              1. Wednesday*

                Some of the cracks are finally starting to show with our boss. He snapped at her today because she was loudly talking to him in the hallway and (from what I could hear) doing a bit of sing-song teasing. I think that other people are noticing but I also think that maybe people are too polite to say anything and don’t want to seem catty.

            2. Observer**

              Yeah, it would be weird for you to say anything about it. That doesn’t mean that others don’t see it, or that it won’t affect her. Your comment below indicates that it’s ALREADY happening.

    4. 1234ShutTheDoor*

      I once had to work very closely with such a woman, we’ll call her Alyssa, and it was anthropologically fascinating to me. We actually developed a great rapport and I helped her see a little bit of how her behavior was coming off.
      ~ scene ~
      We get into the car after a meeting where she was a terrible flirt with one of the men in the group.
      “Alyssa, let’s just reflect on your behavior in that meeting.”
      “WAIT, I didn’t mean it like that! I was just trying to lighten the mood!”
      “I know you didn’t mean it like that, but that is what happened.”
      ~ end scene ~
      Admittedly, while we worked closely together, we and actually became quite close for the duration of that arrangement. I got her to start therapy for the neglect she’d grown up with that lead to this sort of behavior.
      I totally understand that you’re not going to become good friends with Polly and convince her to go to therapy; I share this to give you a little bit of empathy for her situation. Imagine how difficult and narrow the scope of your life is when your only social skill is flirting.
      But also, it is really freaking annoying and the only way I made it through initially was to take a wider-scale view of the behavior and laugh at how ridiculous it all was. Good luck.

      1. Office Gumby*

        “Imagine how difficult and narrow the scope of your life is when your only social skill is flirting.”
        Ohmigosh, this. So much this. This explains a few people I know.

    5. Girasol*

      I worked with a woman like that. She was my office mate and her antics annoyed me no end. It actually did affect me – she shoved some tasks she didn’t want to do onto me – but if I said something it would have looked like a petty cat fight, especially since some of the male managers thought she was a cutie. So I stayed professional, stayed out of it, and waited. Karma hit her like a freight train. It was worth the wait. (I shouldn’t gloat over another’s misfortune but she really was that creepily annoying!)

    6. Qwerty*

      Not your circus, not your monkeys.

      How does this really affect you? If there’s a work issue, then address that *without* the judgement. You don’t like her so it sounds like not interacting is a positive thing. You aren’t her manager and sound pretty judgy and resentful here. If she wasn’t new and pretty, would it bother you as much?

      I’ve seen this with regularity. Usually it’s a bubbly woman in her early 20s, often in a male-dominated field. The woman rarely sees it at flirting and is interacting with the guys the way she would with her friends. Its the dynamic that’s worked for her so far in life. Sometimes the over-doing it energy is because that’s what it has taken to get guys to actually respond to emails / do their part of the project. At some point after a few years the very bubbly woman turns into seriously skilled force-of-nature worker with warm relationships across departments.

      And since I’ve seen this a lot – generally the women complaining about the very bubbly girl were bringing something else to the table. Often jealousy. Do you feel pressure to be more outgoing at work? Do people who used to come to you now reach out to Polly first? Do you want Polly to pay more attention to you? Do you feel that Polly’s social capital is being valued over your SME / experienced status?

      (The guys who were bothered mostly fell into two camps – 1. want Polly to cut it out when talking to *them* specifically or 2. upset that Polly wasn’t doing her “flirty” behavior with them and acting rejected)

    7. Carpe Manana*

      I had a similar situation with a former entry level employee, and my irritation got the better of me. She was a former Las Vegas show girl, the boss was completely enamored of her, and she leveraged this to get away with behaviors he wouldn’t have tolerated in anyone else. To wit, coming into work 1 to 2 hours late everyday, long lunches, leaving early. But she did have talents and skills that we’re helpful to our organization. She was very articulate, great with clients, and a good asset to have in meetings. Otherwise, she really didn’t do that much and managed to avoid any of her assigned tasks.

      I didn’t handle it well, and it became obvious I was not her biggest fan. After reading AAM, I believe that if I had managed to kept my emotions out of it, stayed professional, and just stuck to those areas where her behaviors directly impacted my work, I would have had more social capital and fared much better. I did have valid concerns, but it became too easy to dismiss them. She lasted about a year. I had a great working relationship with my boss before and after she left, but while she was here, it got pretty dicey.

  22. Jessica*

    I manage a small team, and due to varying degrees of remote work and a recent new addition to the team, there will soon be a stretch where we’re all on-site together for the first time. I had hoped to take everyone out for a lunch (sort of team bonding/get-better-acquainted), but one of my employees is not yet eating in restaurants again due to COVID, which I totally understand and respect. I certainly don’t want to just omit him, since that would be unpleasant and defeat the purpose. Any suggestions of how to handle this and what we might do instead? Thanks!

    1. Colette*

      Can you do something instead of eating together? E.g. bowling/trivia/axe throwing – something that gives people time to talk but still lets people be masked and comfortable.

    2. Watry*

      Is there a meeting room you can use for lunch time, and have food brought in? Like, a catering order from a sandwich place or something.

      1. Colette*

        Speaking as someone who won’t eat in restaurants, I wouldn’t do this, either – I might show up but I wouldn’t eat.

      2. kr*

        The issue isn’t restaurants, it’s that eating around other people means you’re all unmasked. So eating is out.

        1. Observer**

          Not necessarily. I mean, yes, some people won’t eat around others. But for others, eateries are more of an issue.

        2. Pine Tree*

          I wouldn’t dismiss it. I’ve been the employee in this situation. I’m willing to eat takeout in our conference room with my coworkers because we’re a relatively small staff, I know they are all vaccinated, and are fairly careful (although not always as careful as I am). I know there are some risks to still eating with those 5-6 people, but it’s not as risky as eating at a restaurant with many more people of unknown vaccination status and level of risky behavior.

          Jessica, maybe ask the employee if they’d want to do this?

    3. Hanani*

      This is entirely pulled from personal experience: I mask indoors, I do not eat in restaurants, and I have happily attended several social or team bonding events in restaurants where I am masked and just don’t eat/take it to go. Your employee may or may not feel comfortable doing that, but maybe it’s worth asking? Particularly if you’re willing to do an outside social thing once the weather permits (assuming you’re in the northern hemisphere), having one indoor event that someone has to engage with in a limited way doesn’t strike me as egregious.

      Alternately, you could do something else social indoors where everyone is masked. I’m not sure what would work there, because my mind goes to things like board games, which probably isn’t the right move. The tricky part is something time-limited, casual, and social – lunch together fulfills that brief well.

    4. Hlao-roo*

      Can you play jack box games together in a conference room? Or online in a virtual meeting? They can be a good team bonding thing and allow people to keep their masks on/not be in the same room together.

    5. WantonSeedStitch*

      Is there another non-eating/drinking activity you can do as a team indoors? Something like a museum tour? Or if the weather permits where you live, could you do an outdoor meal?

    6. ChemistbyDay*

      Maybe a restaurant with an outdoor option? We have a number of folks not comfortable with indoor eating, but outdoor eating was ok with them. The best approach would be to talk with the employee who isn’t eating in restaurants, and ask what they’d prefer.

      1. DJ*

        I wondered this. Find out what this employer means by not eating out in restaurants ie would they be happy with an outdoor seating area, next to a large open window.

    7. Manders*

      I agree that ordering food to be eaten in a conference room – preferably a large one with lots of room to space out – will give that team member the most control over the situation.

      1. SofiaDeo*

        Yes, especially if people *have* to bring their own food, for whatever reason. They can participate in the group activity, without stressing about the food.

    8. HigherEdAdminista*

      As someone who frequently this year has been the only person who doesn’t want to be unmasked around a group, I would say definitely stay away from food-based activities if you can. If there must be food, have it on site or outside, weather permitting. When there have been lunch meetings I have had to attend, I just don’t eat during them, which is a little sad for me, but I live with it.

      If you are in an area where there is some other activity that can be done (bowling, visiting a museum, a notable park), I think that would be better. My biggest thing is I do not want to feel like a weirdo or an inconvenience. If you are able to and your employee wears a mask, perhaps you would consider wearing one as well, to help normalize it. I have other coworkers who mask, but our management is exclusively unmasked and I think if even one of them as a consistent mask-wearer, it would feel less isolating.

      1. SofiaDeo*

        And people with physical limitations for whatever reason, will feel especially alienated. I may not want to share that I have a bad back, or how uncoordinated I am, in a bowling alley with my coworkers. I may not have the stamina to walk a lot.

        Everyone *does* need to eat, however. Having it in a setting where one can bring their own if there are limitations, makes it the easiest IMO. And quite frankly, a large room with open windows/air sanitizers/good ventilation, with people spaced out, is less risky than an outdoor venue when you are elbow to elbow, with wind blowing germs into your face. This was shown in a study early into Covid, where people sitting closer to an infected person with their back to said person, did not get sick. While people 15 feet away got ill, in an air stream coming from the infected person towards others. With RSV, influenza, the common cold, plus the newer Covid variants, IME (training in infection control and prevention) a large, indoor space with people further apart is frequently less risky than a crowded outdoor one if there’s any wind.

        1. Colette*

          I think it’s optimistic to think a conference room will have good ventilation, air sanitizers, and windows that open. I can’t think of a conference room I’ve been in during my entire career that has even one of those things.

        2. Alice*

          Of course uncrowded is better than crowded. But there are directional air currents in indoor spaces too. And how are restaurant patrons supposed to know if there are air sanitizers/filters and good ventilation, and that they are providing enough air changes for the space and the number of people in it?
          Don’t get me wrong, I would love to see businesses competing for customers/staff based on IAQ. But “trust us, it’s up to code” does not make me feel safe.

    9. Observer**

      Any suggestions of how to handle this and what we might do instead?

      Would he eat lunch with coworkers in the office? Order in a nice lunch, if so.

    10. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      Talk to him to find out what he’s comfortable with! I’m fine to (very occasionally) sit in a restaurant with my N95 and take my food to go, but what makes that so uncomfortable is people voicing their discomfort with me doing it. Don’t tell me how Baaaad you feel for me, or how it makes you uncomfortable for me to sit there and not eat – I’m making a choice for what I think is safe for my body*, so I listen to me when I tell you what I’m okay with.

      (My level of okayness with this is no doubt coloured by being a Celiac, so it wasn’t uncommon pre-COVID for me to sit around and drink water or eat sad salads while people eat and drink tasty gluten-filled treats. I’d still rather be included than not, and it’s rare that I couldn’t find something to satisfy me!)

      *frankly this is also what I think is safe for your body too but unlike some, I know how to mind my business

    11. notfunny.*

      I am avoiding eating with other people as much as possible, but I’d eat lunch with colleagues in a conference room if folks tested beforehand. Probably good to check in with your staff member to find out what they would be comfortable with. Everyone that I work with on site has seen me masked and yet no one has ever asked what might work for me and my risk tolerance, but if they did I’d be grateful.

    12. Jessica*

      Thanks for the suggestions, all! I’m consulting with that employee to see if they’d be up for eating outside or having food delivered. They might not, but people draw their lines in different places, so it’s worth exploring those possibilities first.

      Doing something different is difficult because, among other things, we’re government, so “your taxes are sending us to play minigolf for the afternoon” might not land well.

      I think we’ve been a pretty cautious/supportive environment all pandemic, and I personally am masking at work 100% still, so I don’t think non-lunching employee probably feels super isolated and stigmatized about it.

  23. Hotdog not dog*

    I’m no longer in manager limbo, although I have to say things are still weird. On Monday we got an updated list of responsibilities, which essentially changes our whole job. It looks like they’re combining our role with another one, but they haven’t said anything to the folks who already have that other role. (Which methinks does not bode well for them.)
    Our new manager understands exactly zero about either role and has asked me and another colleague to teach her “everything”. She has also scheduled my performance review for 2 weeks. Obviously I intend to use those 2 weeks to try and convince her I’m deserving of a strong review (and still sending out resumes just in case!).
    I don’t know if this is really a question, but please tell me there could potentially be some way that this can all work in my favor somehow! I am having trouble seeing the bigger picture beyond what appears to be a field of red flags.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Show you have the skillset and capability to handle both sets of roles. If they are laying off some people and not just reassigning tasks to them you want to show that you can handle the new tasks. Make a list for yourself, each task then under each task what skills needed. Then think on some examples of your work that shows those skills. If there are any areas of new tasks you have no skills on, list those out too as things you want to get trained on.

      For the review meeting, hopefully you have a copy of the previous job responsibilities, print and bring your manager a copy of that, talk about how you handled those. Then talk about how excited you are to be taking on new task ABC and how your previous work on XYZ project has some of the skills demonstrated that you’ll be using for the task. Bring up any training you need for additional tasks too. Treat it like a mini interview basically.

    2. ferrina*

      The good news is that they are giving you more responsibilities, not less. So they aren’t planning on laying you off.

      A non-expert boss isn’t necessarily bad (my current boss doesn’t know a lot about one of my core fields of expertise), but the fact that she’s scheduled performance reviews and wants you to teach her “everything” is making me worry. These aren’t realistic expectations. I suspect she’ll be a boss that let’s emotions and “her gut” guide her, rather than metrics and logic (but she’ll use those to defend her emotions). Keep us posted- I’ll be curious if I’m right, or just unduly cyncial.

      You’re smart to still be looking. I think you’re handling this circus about as well as anyone possibly could. I hope you’re being good to yourself while this whirlwind is ongoing!

    3. DomaneSL5*

      Keep looking, but like another commenter said, you probably are not getting laid off. I was in a similar situation once, and the new manager brought in was a micromanager because she didn’t know the dept or field. I left after about 3 months.

  24. Lady Ann*

    My workplace is undergoing a big transition soon. I was asked by my boss to be mindful and not to schedule a vacation for when the transition is happening. I want/need to take some vacation time, but because the date keeps being pushed back, I haven’t been able to. I just found out my boss is taking an international trip in a few weeks. She said she thought the transition would be over by now but there’s a nonzero chance her vacation will coincide with it. I am having some feelings because when all is said and done I will probably have gone 6 months without taking time off but apparently the “don’t schedule vacation for the transition” rule only applied to me. Am I off base here?

    1. Colette*

      I think you should schedule a vacation. If she says “the transition might happen at the end of December”, you should be OK to book a vacation for the end of January – and if the transition moves, that’s life, you’re on vacation.

      I suspect that’s what she did – she planned a vacation so she’d be around for the transition, and the transition moved.

        1. Roland*

          Have you talked to her about this since the first time the scheduled dates were moved? If not, I’d make sure to do that to clear up any misunderstandings.

        2. Colette*

          She’d say no if you book a vacation for after the date the transition is currently scheduled for?

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      Ugh, that’s a pain. Could you maybe ask for vacation time, like, NOW before things start? You could say to your boss, “listen, I haven’t had a vacation since ___, and I’m starting to feel a little burnt out. I want to be fresh and ready to go when the transition happens. It seems like it keeps getting pushed back, so I haven’t had the opportunity to schedule a vacation. Could I take next Friday and Monday off for a long weekend just to have a breather before things start–especially if there’s a chance I might have to take a larger role in the transition while you’re away?

      1. Sunshine*

        All of this. As Alison has said here before, your vacation time isn’t a fun perk you get because your boss is nice – it is actually part of your compensation package. I bet if you search for things like “time off” or “vacation” in the archives here, you will find some good scripts for when your boss is reluctant to let you use it.

      2. Janeric*

        I absolutely love how you’ve made this a problem Lady Ann and their boss need to work through together, and how the phrasing doesn’t assign blame — I think this is likely to result in success.

  25. Becky*

    Some of you may remember me from a few months ago, choosing between two offers I nicknamed BigJob and MediumJob. I ended up taking MediumJob as I thought the travel required from BigJob would be too much (around 2/month to the opposite coast).

    It’s been a couple of weeks at (what I thought was) MediumJob, I’m in hell. The material is way more complicated than I thought it would be from my interviews, and I have received next to no training on the material, the company, our processes, anything. I’m drowning and have had a couple of breakdowns already, thankfully away from keyboard.

    The posting for BigJob is still up, and I’ve thought about reaching out and telling them I’ll take it, but I don’t want to make a rash decision that will make things worse. I’ve also thought (and last night had a dream) about going back to my former job, which royally screwed me over but at least was easy work with a manager I clicked about 95% with. I don’t even know if they’d take me back at this point.

    Don’t really have any advice to ask, just…living the dream. Not :(

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      I’m sorry it’s not going well. I’d give it a few more weeks. I know there’s a lot of times a rough transition period before you settle in to a job and start enjoying it more.

    2. ferrina*

      Last time I started a job with no onboarding, it was awful. I stuck with it and continued to receive no onboarding or training, and expectations were never really defined. It was soul-sucking. After 8 months I was put on a PIP. I dug myself out (and actually transferred to another role), but it really was over a year of constant stress and demoralization. I went from knowing I was competent to constantly doubting myself. That was my experience.

      I guess my thought is- how will it get better? Is there training coming up? Are you doing better in the role? Feeling more confident? Depending on the role, onboarding generally takes 1-3 months (longer for certain technical roles). Do you want to wait that long and see if it’s worth it?
      Also- is this normal for you? How are you usually with change? One thing that stuck out for me is that I’m usually really good at self-training and seeking out SMEs (made a career of it, really), but at that place I just couldn’t get the information I needed. When that experience flew in the face of all experience before, that was a sign that it wasn’t me.

      But if you are desperate and you want to reach out to Big Job to see if the job really is still open, I kind of think you should do that. (Don’t say “I’ll take the job”, say “It looks like the job is still open- is that true? If so, I’d be really interested in discussing it- the opportunity that I took isn’t working out.” Be ready for them to ask why it’s not working out- they just want to make sure that you aren’t going to have the same issues with them. If you say “No onboarding, no training documents, and my boss expects me to know things that I have no way to get information on” in a neutral matter-of-fact way, that should be fine.)

      1. Becky*

        This is my 4th job, and your experience (PIP and all) described my experience at one of my previous jobs to a T. I left that job last year after 3 years, completely broken and beaten down but with a tiny flicker of hope that I knew I deserved better and still had potential. So I’ve been down a similar road before, but even this is extremely odd. As in, I was onboarded remotely and no one reached out to me on my first day for several hours. I tried to poke around and get into things and finally messaged my boss, who seemed surprised to hear from me.

        The two jobs I’ve done well in, I had managers who hired me because they had too many projects on their plate. So they spent a lot of time in the beginning showing me what they did, how they did it, why we were doing these projects, who they were for, etc. before handing off the projects to me. We spent a lot of time together and I learned the business well, and that helped me feel like I knew what I was doing. The job I didn’t do well in, I was thrown in and basically told call me if you need me. This job is like that, but to an even greater degree.

        We have access to online courses, but that’s only part of it. I don’t know the business processes, terminology, etc. and there is no training for that, other thane just asking my boss. I approached him today and he seemed receptive to that, so we’ll see. My gut is telling me this isn’t going to work out, but I’m going to try to hang on a bit longer.

    3. A Simple Narwhal*

      Think things over, and if you’re sure you don’t want to stay at MediumJob and you would absolutely take BigJob if available, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with reaching back out to your contact at BigJob to say something like “I noticed that the listing for [position] is still open. Things have changed on my end, so if it’s still available I’d be interested in taking the offer.” Alison has better language than me so be sure to check the archives, I’m pretty sure she’s covered a similar situation.

      The worst they can say is no! I’m sorry your new job isn’t what you thought it would be. I hope this is just a rough intro period and things improve soon. Can you ask your manager for more(/any) training?

    4. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      Well, you can go back to BigJob if you think you liked it. Worth a shot! But the travel thing won’t go away.

      Or start a new search.

    5. L. Ron Jeremy*

      Give yourself another 12 months to settle in and see how you’re doing; it usually takes that long before you know it’s time to leave.

  26. Alex*

    I’m in the final stages of interviewing for a new position I’m very excited about. The problem is that they are now requiring references–from THREE managers. Three!

    I don’t want to ask my current manager for obvious reasons. But he’s been my manager for ten years. And my manager before that left the organization under less than positive terms, and went to go work for the organization that I’m applying to…and ended up getting fired from there. So even if I could track him down (maybe? I can find his LinkedIn but I’m not sure if he’d respond to a message there. He seems to be currently “self employed” with no actual business.) I’m not sure how far a recommendation from him would go, or if his bad experiences with *both* my current and prospective organization would cloud his view. And before that we are looking at jobs that I had while I was in school, well over 15 years ago, that have nothing to do with my current career.

    How do I scrape together references from three managers? How bad will it look if all of my references are people who were senior to me but not my manager and/or peers I worked closely with? I tried to ask this question from HR of the place I’m trying to work, and they said that they would “get back to me” about it, but haven’t. Do I have to cave and give them my current manager? I REALLY don’t want to tip off that I’m looking to leave.

    Also, how many people really have THREE relevant, recent managers that they can ask? It seems so excessive. References generally, OK. But it seems a lot of people wouldn’t have that.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      If you are in final stages i think it’s time to talk to your current manager. It’s going to raise red flags if you have 0 references. It’s fine to let the company you are interviewing with know about working same place 10 years, last manager left poorly. If you have any alternatives offer those, maybe its a manager from current job in a different department whose team you worked with on some projects, etc.

      1. Squawkberries*

        Tell the company youre interviewing with the situation and see if getting some references from senior coworkers, other leadership you might hace worked with, etc would fly.

      2. A Simple Narwhal*

        I disagree with the first part of this advice. There’s no guarantee Alex will get the offer, and even if they do they might not want to take it, so unless they’re in a situation where their manager has explicitly told them to job hunt and use them as a recommendation, it feels unwise to gamble their current job on something so uncertain.

        Did the language say you needed to provide three of YOUR managers, or just three managers? Since they didn’t immediately say no to your question I’d try and submit the people you asked about (people senior to you or peers you’ve worked closely with), and if they balk then again try to explain your situation.

        It sucks but if they’re so rigid that they wouldn’t make a reasonable exception for your understandable situation, you might have to walk away and consider it a bullet dodged – if they’re this unreasonable before you even work there, what else are they unreasonable about? (I guess unless it’s somewhere known for being super rigid I suppose, like the government or military maybe?)

    2. ferrina*

      I’d put together a list of senior colleagues that can speak to your skills. Send that to HR saying exactly what you did here- I only have 2 managers in the last 15 years. If there’s any alternative, I’d prefer not to inform my current manager (for obvious reasons). Give the name of the other manager, but mention that due to the length of time and having other people that are now better acquainted with your skills, he may not be the best person to speak to your work. If they remember this former manager, they’ll read between the lines.

      This is deeply annoying though. I don’t know what on earth I’d do for that.

    3. SansaStark*

      Do you have anyone at your current job who supervises you on something like on a particular project or ongoing task? Obviously it would need to be someone you trusted not to tell your current boss, but that might work? Would you feel comfortable going back to the company and asking if they’re able to work with you a little on who would qualify as a supervisor? I’d go in with a couple of people in mind – people who are higher than you in seniority and/or title who can speak to the quality of your work. Maybe a project manager or the person who oversees a certain task or project?

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        Is this in higher ed by chance? I encountered this kind of thing a couple times and thought it was normal until I heard others outside saying it wasn’t. Good luck with your search!

    4. Pocket Mouse*

      I’d briefly explain the situation, and suggest that if they are inclined to offer you the job, the offer can be conditional on a positive reference from your current manager—that way your current manager only learns you’re job searching if you’ve received an offer you’d like to take. Is there a grandboss you could ask to be a reference? And don’t discount the managers from long ago entirely; they may still be able to speak to your work ethic, ability to problem-solve, etc., especially if your remind them of your accomplishments and working style.

    5. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      Consider whether you can take “manager” a bit loosely. Did somebody manage you temporarily? Manage a project you worked on? Maybe your manger’s boss from a previous position? I’d get the best list you can and then just be clear what the relationship was with each.

      Jim Jones – managed the Watermelon project I worked on at XYZ Corp and is most familiar with my event planning skills.
      Judith Wigglesworth – senior technical bean counter who provided my daily oversight as a new Watermelon Charmer Inc hire.

  27. MoneyMaven*

    I don’t know how to navigate the “We can’t do X because of budget reasons” when it often feels like an excuse.

    Yes, I do understand there are legitimately times where no money is available to do a project, but I’m at a point where other, inexpensive alternatives are still given the “we have no budget” reason.

    Does anyone have any suggestions to navigate this? (Other than getting buy-in from colleagues that want X to be done).

    1. WantonSeedStitch*

      I find that if you can make a case for the cost of NOT doing X being higher than the cost of doing it, that’s helpful. “If we don’t increase the salaries of these people to market level, we’re going to lose them, and when we need to hire new people to replace them, chances are anyone who applies will be looking for market salary, and will not be as productive at least to start because of the learning curve involved in a new role. If we choose NOT to replace them, the rest of the team will be overworked–and will also start looking elsewhere.”

    2. ferrina*

      In consulting, we have a trick where we give three budget options. The Expensive option is all the bells and whistles- this is how much money we need to make all your dreams come true. The Mid-Range option is a bit less than Expensive, but it covers the true cost plus some overage. The Budget option is really limited in scope.

      Tell them what you can do within the budget you have. Then give them options. We use three options because people’s brains like when things come in 3s. Plus, it makes the Mid-Range option seem like it’s more doable next to the Expensive option. The Budget option is when they truly have no money, so we’re setting expectations. If you don’t have the money, that’s fine, but it limits what I can do for you.

      Then let them ultimately decide where to spend their money, and act accordingly. Remember, if it were truly a priority, they would prioritize it with money.

  28. Three Cats in a Trenchcoat*

    Anyone here done any interviewing in the “we’ll make a job for you” type space?

    I am completing a fellowship that puts me in a niche subfield of my specialty, and so when I talk to potential employers (hospital systems, clinics, etc) it is much more in the “we have a need for your specialty, here’s how we might slot you in” than the “there’s an open defined position you are stepping into”. On one hand, this is an exciting change from residency/fellowship interviews where you have basically zero power as an applicant. On the other hand, it means that when I meet with different members of a team, often they all have slightly different ideas of where I would be or what I would be doing.

    Anyone who has been in this kind of situation have any general pointers?

    1. ferrina*

      I’m in a job that is made for me (not in healthcare).

      While you go through this process, think about what job they need. Ask questions to learn about what their pain points are, and why they think they need your skills (what are they looking to solve). Often folks won’t know the best way to use your skills, so you have the space to be the expert on that. What are a few ways that you’d recommend they use your skills? What are other positions that exist that use your skills, and how could you tailor that model to suit their needs? I like to have a few options in mind, in case the first option doesn’t work for them.

      Plan on regularly re-evaluating the role. Clarify with the interviews how they plan on evaluating success of the role, and recommend that they revisit the scope early in to make sure that the role as designed is fitting their needs. Since this is a new role, you have a lot of freedom to redesign if it isn’t working as anticipated.(often people forget this- they accidentally set their thoughts in stone, when really you should be trying the role, the adjust to make it more efficient). I recommend quarterly evaluations for the first year (or 3 month and 9 months).

      Finally, make sure you are really clear what your goals are and what they are not. Sometimes new roles become catch-alls, and you want to clearly define what is outside your scope (it’s generally easier to add responsibilities than to take them away).
      Good luck!

      1. Three Cats in a Trenchcoat*

        Thanks, I hadn’t thought about the question of how to assess the functioning of the role, and I think that would be a great topic to bring up in interviews!

    2. Ama*

      ferrina’s post has very good general structure advice. I work adjacent to the healthcare field with a lot of people transitioning from fellowship to faculty member and my addition would be — if you are interviewing at a nonprofit/academic institution, ask some questions about how your position is being funded. You are going to want to know if they received a donor gift or grant funding that has an end date (and what they expect to happen after that end date is reached) or if there is permanent funding designated in their budget. Also if you are doing research find out if you have any internal funding for your research or if everything will have to be raised through grants you bring in (almost everyone has to do some grant funding these days but some places do have some internal funds or startup funds for new faculty).

  29. Alex*

    The deadline is looming for me to apply to an open job within my agency, and I’m getting cold feet. Currently a contractor who strictly works 8 hours a day. Clock in, clock out, shut down. Most days I don’t have 8 hours of work to do at all. The issue I have is that the work is incredibly boring and largely data entry even though I have an advanced degree.

    If I applied to one of the open jobs my impression is that I might have to start pulling 50 hour weeks again. I’m trying to tell myself that it’s better to have a good federal job than not, and to secure this job and decide I like it from within said job, than to remain a contractor with lower benefits, virtually no PTO, and lower pay. I guess I’ve just grown protective of my free time, but at the same time I have student loans and minimal retirement savings and I really don’t want to be working when I’m 70 years old. Has anyone else had to make this choice? Like I said, I’m nervous to apply but feel like I’d be passing up something great if I don’t.

    1. Colette*

      Why is this your only option?

      I’m inclined to say apply and ask questions about workload and overtime when you interview – and if you don’t like the answers, find something else.

    2. NeedRain47*

      So, apply for the job. Applying for the job doesn’t mean you have to take it. You can go thru the whole interview process, find out more about the hours, and still decide you don’t want it.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Seconding this as much as I can! An application is not an obligation to accept a job offer; it’s an opportunity to learn more about the position. Apply, and then pay attention to what you learn and how you feel about the position during the interview process and use that information to decide whether or not to accept.

    3. SofiaDeo*

      I reached a point in my career where I refused salaried positions. I started with my then current company, where I had a history of being a documented high performer. My boss knew I had a good work ethic, and would not use this an an excuse to “take more time” than necessary. I was already established at asking ” do others need any help, I am caught up”. Any way you can ask for extra work? If not, at least show your “wait time” is on work-related activities instead of random social media or reading fiction. Can you spend down time on an online course of some sort? Language skills, writing, any business type class, any thing related to any potential work aspect. So no cooking or “how to woodwork”.

      Have you spoken to people in these departments, is the 50+ hours the norm? IDK if it’s possible, but I got written employment contracts that stated I was hourly, to be paid overtime if needed, instead of the companies usual “salaried” language. Annoying to have to track hours, but the days of 60+ hours with pushback on the occasional “I want to leave an hour early” disappeared. IDK if this is possible in government.

    4. Hen in a Windstorm*

      This is some seriously black and white thinking. Applying doesn’t cause anything to happen. You may not get an interview. If you do, they may not select you. Or you may find out it’s better than your outsider “impression” and is not over 40 hours.

      I will say, however, that you sound like you’re giving yourself a bunch of excuses to stay where you are, even though you’re not happy with where you are. You literally haven’t even applied and you’re talking like they are pressuring you to take a job that is definitively 50 hours a week. Really think about that and why you are sabotaging this opportunity.

    5. Tabby Baltimore*

      While I think it’s a really good thing to take a clear-eyed view of the work-life balance of the federal employees where you’re at, I think you may be putting the cart before the horse a little.

      I say that, because if you are referring to applying for a job with the U.S. federal government, you need to be aware that it is entirely possible that your application may not even make the first cut (even if you yourself think you would be eligible for a “Best Qualified” rating); therefore, it wouldn’t be forwarded to the Hiring Manager for consideration. This happens very, very frequently. So frequently that many thousands of people over the decades have simply given up on applying after trying, sometimes for years, to get hired.

      Most (not all, obvs) jobs in federal government have a 40-hour work week, and so I’m left to guess that either the agency you’re currently contracting at must either have budget money to burn (allowing employees to earn Unscheduled Overtime) or “encouraging” (i.e., strong-arming) employees to over-work and code these “overtime” hours as comp time or credit hours.

      All that to say, your impression could be wrong, so if talking to your fed co-workers doesn’t answer your concerns before you submit an application, there’s always the interview where you can raise the work-life balance issue, assuming you get that far. I wish you the best of luck.

  30. sundae funday*

    Is it legal/ethical to specifically seek to hire parents over non-parents?

    I was looking for information about a local business, and I was surprised to find this on the homepage of the website: “[Business] intentionally hires parents who are or have transitioned out of a period of homelessness.”

    I don’t have a problem with this practice… but is it legal? I think it is because “people without children” isn’t a legally protected group. I know that it’s illegal to ask if someone has children for hiring purposes, but this business partners with a local charity, so I assume the charity specifically sends employees who have children to the business.

    I’m curious as to peoples’ thoughts on the legality/ethics of only hiring parents? I understand the reasoning because they want parents to be able to support their children. I don’t find it surprising that they’d choose to hire parents over non-parents, necessarily, but I guess I find it surprising that they state it so explicitly on the website since factoring in someone’s parental status in hiring decisions is technically illegal. (Right?)

    1. Sloanicota*

      Mm, is there a work reason they are doing this? Is it a job for helping parents specifically transition out of homelessness?

      1. sundae funday*

        No, it’s bakery, but on further inspection, the bakery is classified as a non-profit. So it’s more like they created the bakery/jobs to help people out of homelessness.

        1. goducks*

          It sounds like it is a job training program. There are a lot of instances where nonprofits run a business for the purpose of training the clients they serve to work certain jobs by having them work (and paying them) in the business created for that purpose. I can think of a handful of them in my community, just off the top of my head.

        2. The Prettiest Curse*

          They may have grant funding for this program which specifies that they give this population priority for hiring.

    2. Colette*

      It depends on the job. If it’s a job supporting parents who are/have been homeless, that might be relevant.

      If it’s staffing a café, then I wonder why they specify parents. But as long as they aren’t prioritizing parents who have been homeless over other applicants, there’s no legal issue. If they are, there could be a legal issue given that not everyone is able to have children, so there could be disability issues. But that’s just my opinion.

      1. sundae funday*

        It is a bakery, but when I looked further on their website, they’re actually a non-profit. They partner with a homeless shelter in my city and have 5 employees who are getting help from that shelter, and all are parents transitioning out of homelessness. I guess they don’t go through a traditional hiring process, so it’s not like they would be directly denying a non-parent if non-parents can’t apply in the first place?

        They pay $15 an hour (which used to be high for my city for a job like this in my city but post-Covid isn’t particularly high but the minimum wage here is still $7.25) and offer healthcare.

        I think it’s a really amazing thing… but I can’t help but have a bad taste in my mouth that a homeless person without kids doesn’t have the same opportunity to get a good job with healthcare. I also feel kind of guilty for this opinion, though.

        1. Hudson*

          I think this non-profit is probably trying to level the playing field for parents, who often have a lot of logistical challenges when it comes to jobs, especially entry-level jobs. I’ve seen it with my coworkers with kids, there are so many challenges that come up with loss of childcare, extra flexibility needed to pick kids up from school, sickness, parent-teacher conferences. A job prioritizing parents isn’t treating everyone equally, but it is acknowledging that being a parent is hard, being a parent experiencing homelessness is harder, and these parents are facing things that people experiencing homelessness without kids do not face.

        2. ThatGirl*

          It sounds to me like unhoused parents get first priority, which I feel like is fair, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they ONLY hire unhoused people with kids. And if the shelter works with this org, they probably work with other orgs to help other folks there find jobs as well. I understand why you might be a little put off but it sounds like they’re doing a good thing for a really vulnerable population.

          1. sundae funday*

            Totally agree. I feel guilty for my discomfort with it, and I’d never criticize it publicly or anything, I was just curious as to how they got around it legally. But now that I see that it’s a nonprofit, it makes more sense.

        3. Violet*

          Every program does not have to help every person. Homeless parents will have problems that do not affect homeless non-parents. It is both ethical, legal, and reasonable to have a program that is tailored to specifically help homeless parents. This is not the only program out there, so homeless non-parents are not being denied good jobs with benefits. They are just not the target demographic for this specific job.

        4. lil falafel wrap*

          As someone who works in a similar field, these specific services usually come about because the need is there. While homelessness is always hard, being unhoused with children and being responsible not just for yourself but for minors is a particular difficulty. Parents who are homeless probably have less flexible schedules than other people experiencing homelessness. They may find it difficult to balance work and childcare. The shelters they stay in may have stricter rules about curfew. They may require a higher wage to support a family. All these things speak to why a program that focuses on them as a population specifically is necessary as opposed to a general program. My guess is there are job training programs out there for adults experiencing homelessness without children, and the service community realized that these programs were not working for adults with children and something new needed to be create. It’s filling a need, not excluding people.

        5. Hen in a Windstorm*

          I think you should question why you say it’s “amazing, but” (so not really amazing) and also that it leaves a bad taste in your mouth. You are making some assumptions and then extrapolating from there. Either become informed about their program by talking to them about it or stop thinking about it. You don’t need to feel guilty, but nor should you have any other emotions based on unfounded assumptions.

          We literally can’t tell you what their deal is, but they can!

          1. sundae funday*

            What? I’m not making unfounded assumptions. The website says they have 5 employees, all parents transitioning out of homelessness.

            I love what they do. I don’t love that they exclude someone who is transitioning out of homelessness but caring for a disabled spouse rather than a child. I don’t have to love or agree with everything about a business/charity to think it’s an amazing thing. I don’t think that should require a lot of internal questioning to not love one thing about a charity.

            Like I’ve said from the beginning, I don’t have a problem with the business model, I’m just curious as to how it’s legal since it’s illegal to ask if someone has kids when making hiring decisions. (The answer is because it’s a non-profit, not a traditional business).

            1. Coconutty*

              You keep saying you don’t have a problem with the business model, but you also keep saying things that suggest you do. If the goal of the program is to help unhoused parents get work and you “don’t love” that they’re “excluding” someone who’s not a parent by focusing on serving that demographic, then it comes across very much like you have problem with it. Perhaps that’s not your intention, but it seems to be the effect for a number of readers. One organization cannot and does not have to be everything for everyone, and when they’re doing such an essential service, I have to say that it’s not a great look to critique the very heart of the model.

        6. Warrior Princess Xena*

          I won’t call it a known ‘issue’ for non-for-profits, because that implies that it’s a problem they can fix, but the sad truth is that most not-for-profits have to make a decision at some point at where to limit their care to prevent their people and resources from being stretched too thing. That’s why the vast majority of them, especially the smaller ones, focus on one specific program, need, or target population, because if they try and focus on a whole population they crumble.

          If it helps, try not to think of it as a negative opportunity but as an addition? So instead of ‘a homeless person without kids doesn’t have the same opportunity’, framing it as ‘one of the homeless programs in our city has extra resources for parents’.

      2. SofiaDeo*

        “Not being able to have children” is not a protected class, just as “not having children” isn’t protected. “We’re not hiring you because you *are* a parent” is the protected class. I don’t think there is legal liability. Especially if local laws exempt small businesses with fewer than X employees. In the US, I believe the federal law is businesses with 20 or fewer employees are exempt. And if the business’ mission is to help certain groups, I think they may be exempt even if larger. Like, a church may choose to hire within its religion. Alison has talked about this, I think.

        Discrimination isn’t illegal. Illegal discrimination is illegal. I can want to hire only bald people, or I can want to hire only smooth shaven people, and I can legally do that. Seeking to hire from groups that are marginalized and often discriminated against, who have no “protected class” status, is actually an admirable thing IMO. Parents who are in/shortly out of homelessness have an extremely difficult time obtaining and maintaining employment, and kudos to a small business that is attempting to hire only from these ranks. I’d shop at that bakery.

        1. sundae funday*

          Yeah my initial question was “how is this legal since it’s illegal to ask if someone has kids,” but since they don’t go through a traditional hiring process, they don’t ever have to ask that.

            1. sundae funday*

              Well, no, but it’s illegal to make hiring decisions on the answer to that question. Or is it only illegal to make hiring decisions based on if someone HAS kids?

              1. YesIAmRetiredNow*

                Race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age 40+, disability, genetic information (medical history) are the Protected classes. It’s not illegal to ask about kids/marital status, but it’s not recommended, especially to women. Discrimination based on theoretical child care needs, pregnancy of either applicant or spouse, if there is a spouse/does spouse have a job. That’s because it can be interpreted as attempts to find a basis, even unconsciously, to discriminate against women or even men with kids pre-offer. These type of questions have no bearing on an applicants ability to do a job, or their qualifications. So asking them up front can be seen as intent to discriminate AGAINST people who have them. So if the hiring decision takes the fact that one has children to NOT hire, then it’s a no-no. But if the company mission is to serve protected classes, and wants to preferentially hire them, I don’t think it’s illegal. Just, it’s illegal if you want to use their status to Not Hire.

    3. OtterB*

      I wouldn’t necessarily read that as saying that they *only* hire people in that status, but as being welcoming. It says they are used to hiring employees who are or have been homeless with children and thus are used to providing flexibility / helping navigate the challenges of transitioning back to more stability.

      1. Glomarization, Esq.*

        Indeed, “we intentionally hire X” is not equivalent to “we hire only X” or “we absolutely never hire non-X.”

        1. goducks*

          Even if they did only hire X, as a non-profit focused on helping parents experiencing homelessness, they’d be completely ok to to do so.

          The job itself is part of the service the non-profit provides to its clients.

          1. Glomarization, Esq.*

            Yup. There are any number of non-profits that focus their hiring on particular groups: returning citizens, others with past involvement in the criminal justice system, people with intellectual or physical limitations, etc.

          2. sundae funday*

            Yep, once I realized it was a nonprofit, it made more sense. I had actually typed this question up earlier in the week and was curious as to how they got around the legality, but then when I looked at the website today, I saw that it’s a nonprofit. I still posted the question, though, because I’m not sure what hiring rules are with nonprofits.

            1. Glomarization, Esq.*

              Whether it’s a nonprofit doesn’t really enter into it. Non-profits are subject to the same anti-discrimination in hiring laws and local ordinances that for-profits are subject to. Housed people with or without children aren’t a legally protected class. A for-profit bakery engaging in this kind of hiring would still be acting legally.

              1. sundae funday*

                How could a for-profit bakery employee only people with children if they aren’t legally allowed to ask if you have children? That’s my main curiosity here. Just do outside sleuthing to make sure the employees have kids?

                1. RussianInTexas*

                  I do not believe it’s illegal to ask in hiring if you have children, for-profit or non-profit.
                  It’s illegal to discriminate based on the answer, which is why this question is usually avoided.

      2. sundae funday*

        They exclusively hire homeless parents, but now that I see it’s a nonprofit, it makes more sense.

    4. RagingADHD*

      You answered your own question in the comments. This is not an ordinary business, it is a charity for homeless parents that has created a work program for its clients, and apparently extends the opportunity to potential new clients in the community — presumably as an outreach to connect them with its other services as well.

      Yes, this is entirely legal and ethical, just like the ice-cream shop connected to my local charity that serves adults with intellectual disabilities is perfectly fine to hire only intellectually disabled adults. They are not discriminating against typical people or teenagers, or anyone else.

      1. sundae funday*

        Yep, I didn’t realize it was a non-profit at first. I didn’t understand how you could only hire people with children if it’s illegal to ask if you have children… answer being, they don’t go through a traditional hiring process but get specific referrals from a shelter that only recommends people with children.

        So if a non-profit wanted to hire only single adults without children since this program already covers parents, would that still be illegal?

        1. RagingADHD*

          Well, the folks who work at my ice cream shop aren’t going to be having kids unless someone commits a heinous crime.

    5. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Is it legal/ethical to specifically seek to hire parents over non-parents?

      Yes, it is legal and ethical to run a non-profit organization that specifically focuses on re-entering into the workforce unhoused people who are also parents by hiring them in a bakery. Being a housed non-parent does not put a job candidate into a protected class.

      1. sundae funday*

        Okay, further question… What if a non-profit saw a gap since this program is already in place to help parents transitioning out of homelessness and hired only single adults without children? Would that be illegal?

        I’m truly curious about this, not trying to start any kind of argument or say this bakery should have to hire people without kids too.

    6. Temperance*

      Think of it like businesses that hire people with criminal histories, like Dave’s Killer Bread. If they’re a nonprofit with the mission of supporting people who have been homeless, and supporting family stability, it makes sense.

    7. Oysters and Gender Freedom*

      FWIW, I found this on a list of protected classes:

      Familial Status (i.e. married/unmarried, parent/childless. This is a subject of the Civil Rights Act of 1968)

      So it would be illegal if it was not related to their mission.

      1. Glomarization, Esq.*

        The Civil Rights Act of 1968 is (among other things) the Fair Housing Act. The relevant law for the OP is the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its related statutes and regulations.

  31. NeedRain47*

    Think I might quit my job with no other job lined up.

    My job is supposed to have three parts. Over the five years two of the parts became impossible (for reasons not worth going into) so I’m not doing them. The last part is becoming a sham. Imagine you were an expert widget maker with lots of experience, and your employer had decided to take your nice widgets, smash them up so they’re barely useable, and present them to the public as the same useful widgets you made. Administration is ignoring the fact that the widgets barely function, and telling me to keep producing great widgets, and I just… can’t. I can’t convince myself to get out of bed to come do work that’s clearly not valued whatsoever, not to mention I don’t have enough work to fill my time.

    I’m struggling ’cause I’m very much not a risk taker. I have not quit a job with nothing lined up or actually ever been jobless since 2001. Financially this is not a great idea, I have some savings but I’m in a niche of a field and it will be hard to find something comparable quickly. I would have to get health insurance through the ACA, which is expensive compared to what I have now. I don’t have family or any kind of safety net. But the work situation is so untenable I’m considering it.

    Any things I should consider or words of wisdom from the commentariat?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Sometimes being unemployed gives you the space to have time and energy to find a new job. That said, definitely immediately add a volunteering activity (like a once a week type deal) so if it does become a long period of unemployment you still have something to put on the gap. Also that will help you keep a routine and not fall into the 20hrs of video games on the couch scenario that is tempting when first leaving a very stressful job.

      When evaluating your savings, look at like 3 months. Do you have 3months worth of rent/mortgage payments, car payments, emergency fund if car breaks down or you have medical emergency root canal? Then just tell yourself if you havent found job in 3 months you’re going to have to take entry level job (retail etc) until you do find job in field, are you okay with that? (Some people do 6months if they have more savings).

      Are there stats for your field? Can you tell if your field is hiring right now or are most companies laying off? That’s a huge factor in quitting without a job lined up.

    2. Meep*

      Can you do freelance work while you find something to alleviate the stress? Heck, you can even work freelance for your current job by informing them you want to switch to contractor/part-time for personal reasons. They don’t have to know those personal reasons is that you know your company is sapping the life out of you. Heck, even going down part-time can help your burn out, because you actually have time to do what you want.

    3. WantonSeedStitch*

      I did this a long time ago. I was not in a similar situation, to be fair: I was a young woman only a few years out of grad school in my first permanent full-time job, which was a terrible fit for me (admin role at a small company headed by a seriously micromanaging type). I hung in there for three years, during the last of which I tried unsuccessfully to find another job. But when I realized my mental health was starting to suffer, I quit. I looked at my savings and my bills to determine how long I could live off the savings alone. It wasn’t long–my pay was low in a high COL area. I decided to sign on with a temp agency so I would have SOME income. If I’d had any reasonable insurance, I would have taken advantage of everything I could first: get a dental cleaning, get a physical, get refills of any prescriptions, get new glasses, whatever you can do. I failed to remember that I would get my unused vacation time paid out to me, which was a nice surprise. I eventually found a job through the temping, at a place where I’ve worked ever since. Is there a chance you could do some consulting or freelancing in your field, even part-time, as a way of bringing in some extra cash while you job hunt?

    4. ABK*

      Can you “quiet quit”, and do the minimum while looking for another job? Or try to get set up with a temp agency before you quit? I’m risk averse too, so I would try to do one of those if at all possible.

    5. I exist*

      If your state has health insurance navigators, see if they can help with the aca part. If you don’t have income, you should be able to get medicaid (which is not always going to cover your needs, but at least better than nothing). even if you had income earlier in the year, if you don’t when you sign up and don’t have anything lined up, you should be able to get coverage.

      but also, if you’re thinking of just quitting, probably start looking/applying other places until you decide to leave. Something might come up. Can you look/apply at work, since you aren’t filling your time anyway? Maybe you could write cover letters on your phone or in a notebook to get into a doc later if using work computers isn’t an option.

    6. A CAD Monkey*

      I quit my former job due to toxicity a little over 5 yrs ago with nothing lined up. it took me 9 months (technically 8 because i took a month to just relax and recover) to find another job and i had gone through about 1/2 of my savings by that time. if you do decide to say f-it, make sure your financials can support you for at least a year. granted, the job market is a little better on the whole than it was 5 years ago, but it is still good to have that buffer.
      the day after i quit, there was such a feeling of release when i woke up that morning and made me realize that i had been carrying a lot of undue stress about the job and just how bad it was. i also as a result lost about 40lbs due to not stress eating.

      1. NeedRain47*

        Ugh, I have more than 3 months, but not as much as a year. my main fear is not finding anything decent and having to take some crappy call center job at some point.

    7. SofiaDeo*

      Mmmm. Unless the widgets are being promoted as one thing, and actively/potentially harming people, Caveat Emptor. It’s frustrating to work for an employer who chooses to try to/actually does rip people off. But if they aren’t doing anything shady/illegal other than selling the cheapest, flimsiest, knock off version of your beautiful, functional, well made design, I am not sure I would just quit. I would quit only if it seemed that by staying, I was knowingly cooperating in an illegal endeavor.

      Recognize you hate working for a company with really low morals, find another job, and leave. You work for an awful company, with awful bosses, very dysfunctional. The dysfunction happens to be something different than what is usually posted here.

    8. Not A Manager*

      Is there any reason that you couldn’t remain in the job, at least for a bit, while you apply for a new one?

      1. Kes*

        Yes, this is my thought – it doesn’t sound like you’ve even tried to find a new job at all yet. I think there’s a few options here: one is to quit now if you really can’t take it any more at all, one is to stay but start looking for a new job, and a third compromise might be that you set yourself a timeline at the end of which you plan to leave whether or not you’ve found a job, so you know there’s light at the end of the tunnel but it gives you some time to look for a new job, build up your savings in case you don’t have one yet when you leave, etc.

        1. NeedRain47*

          Whoa, you could maybe ask before making great big assumptions. I’ve always got my eyes open for relevant positions in this area b/c they’re not very common, even if I’m not thinking about changing jobs. I recently applied to one and know there’s another coming open in the next couple of months. What I haven’t had time to do is look into options outside of my career niche.

    9. Anon for this*

      I did this last week for the third time in my career. It’s absolutely terrifying, but the first two times worked out well. I needed to make a clean break and clear up mental cycles. I felt like a weight was lifted once I decided.

      My two cents – give yourself three months. If you want to and can swing it logistically, start therapy. Use your benefits (especially the EAP if there is one). Try to depersonalize your work (I’m terrible at this). They’re not being idiots AT you, they’re just being idiots.

      Connect with your network and recruiters in your industry. Start applying now, let trustworthy folks know you’re ready for a change. Watch who posts what jobs on LinkedIn, then reach out to those recruiters.

      You’ve got this.

    10. Qwerty*

      If you don’t have enough work to fill your time, would anyone notice if you started filling that time with non-work things? This is easier if you are remote. It would make it easier to job hunt if you can do the searching and applying while still employed and that way it won’t eat up your evenings/weekends.

      It is really normal for people to be mentally checked out and less productive when they are on their way out the door. Besides even job hunting, can you do some stuff for you to recharge? Like take a long lunch break and read book (maybe increase the volume on Slack in case something urgent comes up). Or do some “professional development” that gets your skills up to interview level / expands your skillset?

      If you work remote and are having trouble getting out of bed what helped me was doing something small for myself *before* actively starting work. It helped me because previously being excited for work was what got me out of bed in the morning, and I realized I needed more going on outside work that fulfilled me.

    11. MaryLoo*

      Is your resume in good shape? Have you actually started job hunting? I wouldn’t quit until you’ve done that , even if it’s only one or two applications per week.

      Also it would help to change the way you look at your current job. As in, they are paying you to make a plain, boring, low cost product. Not to make beautiful artistic items. And people who buy the cheap things you make don’t associate you as the artist.

      It can take a lot longer than you think to get a job. And you are more hire-able if you are currently working.

  32. Beka Cooper*

    So I resigned from my job on Tuesday, giving 4 weeks notice in a meeting with my manager. I’m resigning without a new job lined up because I’m going to be freelancing, but since I don’t have a “job” lined up, they are trying really hard to convince me to stay. Offering for me to cut out the portion of the job I hate that I took on during Covid (not realistic because the whole problem is nobody else knows enough about it, so I’m sure I’d still get questions), letting me know that upper management has *gasp* approved 3 days WFH to be allowed instead of 2, and stuff like that.

    In the future, I am open to the possibility of doing some part-time work in specific areas, so I want to keep the door open a little bit, but right now, I know that leaving is the right choice for me. I’ve had health issues since having Covid and pneumonia this fall, not to mention developing a blood pressure problem in the last two years when I’d never had a high reading before. I’m going to be resting, tidying the house, and reading as I slowly ramp up the freelancing, which I already do make some money with on the side currently.

    I feel guilty because my coworkers will be down to 1.25 people (one is very part time because she moved and our job won’t allow full WFH for anyone, a hill they are dying on), and like I said, there is a part of my job that nobody knows, and I feel bad for any new hire who will be thrown into that without any training, or poor training, plus now I’ve had rose-colored glasses on this week, even though there are a lot of structural issues. My manager is very nice and I enjoy his management style for the most part, but institution-wide, there are certain things that are just not going to change and it’s too hard to go into those many reasons why I’m jaded with the org in general.

    I hadn’t sent a written resignation letter yet, because they’d asked me to think about it. I want to send one now so it’s on the record, but do I leave the door open, or just say “I really thought about it, but no” as part of the letter? I’m avoiding putting my reasons in the letter because I’d rather have my resignation letter focus on the fact I’m resigning and the date, etc. just to get it documented.

    Anyone have any advice about how to make a clean break when you’re sure you’re done but there is pressure to stay?

    I should also mention, I said at the beginning of my meeting that I originally had planned to ask to have my pay augmented for the period of time we’ve been short staffed, because my union contract says I should be. Our org’s HR likes to say “we can’t do ___ because the union won’t let us” and that was the line they previously gave me about having my pay augmented. So I guess one very strong reason not to stay is that they didn’t bring up the possibility of paying me more to stay. I had planned to ask for it, but making plans and trying to write a letter for that request was ultimately what made me realize that I am really, really ready to be done. And I don’t think it would get approved at all anyway, based on the runaround a coworker has gotten on similar pay/promotion issues.

    Anyway. Happy Friday!

    1. Sloanicota*

      It sounds like you are making the right decision to cut out. It doesn’t sound like they’re going to offer you a meaningful amount more money. I went from FT to freelance once and I just emphasized that I was starting a new contract that was going to take up all of my time (… questionable). You can always consider inquiring about coming back part-time or even FT later, since you’re parting on good terms, but four weeks notice is more than fair.

      1. Beka Cooper*

        Thanks for sharing your experience! I did initially think about saying I had a contract or client that would take up my time even if I didn’t yet, so that there would be something more concrete to point to, so maybe I’ll go back and say that I acquired a client in the last week or so :)

    2. MsM*

      Yeah, I wouldn’t address the contract question in the letter. Just say if you’re asked that it’s not going to be feasible at this time, but you’ll reach out should that change at some point. Even if you’re just planning to use the next few months to catch up on sleep, you don’t need to justify that to them. Them being short-staffed is their problem to solve – and it sounds like they already know at least a few ways they could solve it; they just don’t want to.

    3. A CAD Monkey*

      congrats on the life change.

      make sure you leave a good set of notes/write-up of the part of the job no-one knows, so that when you do eventually get that call/email asking about it, you can refer them to the notes you left. probably wouldn’t hurt to take a copy of the notes with you digitally so you can send them the first time they call when they “can’t find the notes, how is this done”

    4. SofiaDeo*

      If you are a decent employee, there is always pressure to stay. Just write the letter of resignation. Write a separate letter, noting you are due X augmented pay because Y, that’s a separate issue. The fact that they aren’t interested in following the union contract unprompted reinforces you are making the correct decision. If you are willing to consider doing freelancing for them, especially shortly after quitting until the other freelancing builds up, offer them a freelance contract, letter #3. You get to specify hours and pay as well as duties, and walk if they hassle you. Don’t try to lump everything in one, they are all separate issues. You can consider discussing all 3 letters in 1 meeting, but each issue is a separate thing. Don’t let them try to negotiate or argue 1 thing that affects another.

      You can’t feel guilty about how your doing what is best for *you*, affects others, unless what you are doing is illegal/immoral. Simply quitting is neither. If your work “friends” are really “friends”, they will understand. Remember, the problems and any unhappiness is because of the *company choice* that resulted in your doing X. X didn’t come out of a void, it’s a consequence. People doing upsetting things out of nowhere? That’s different than a predictable response to employer doing Y. You aren’t randomly choosing to make life difficult for others. You are reacting to a situation, to protect your health/best interests.

    5. Cacofonix*

      Won’t comment on whether you should stay, negotiate or go, but I think you’re on the right track regarding sending the bare bones resignation letter. Omit any type of negotiation in it. Just as noted on X date, I resign effective Y date. Nice words about your employment there, will work with manager to effectively transition during the 4-week notice period, yada yada. You could say that you acknowledge a request to consider alternative employment arrangements but will consider that a separate negotiation independent of this notice of resignation.

      That way, they can’t come back with your having given them less than the 4 weeks you promised should you decline whatever offer they come up with.

      That you feel guilty about leaving a burden on your colleagues has zero to do with what you need. It’s business, and you’ve already shown your integrity here with the 4 week notice and the goodwill effort you take to leave on good terms. That’s all anyone can expect. Good luck! It seems you already know what will work best for you.

  33. Career Insecurity*

    Happy Friday, y’all!

    I’m feeling…insecure. About my career path. And I feel sort of ridiculous saying that, because I’m trying to move away from the idea that my career is my identity and worth. But I was invited to go speak to prospective undergrad/grad students at a university I teach a class at. I was invited because they wanted WOC representation for the incoming students. I have to work on how to explain my career path because when I spoke, I was so nervous (I almost got into a car accident on the way) and I felt like a mess. I had a professor come up to me after (someone who has invited me to guest lecture at their class a few times) and they said something to the effect of “Wow, it’s so fun to have such a varied background…but are you worried about getting a job? Do you think you’ll be hired places?” And I was then very embarrassed. It’s funny, because I did just get hired to a new job, so I don’t think I have an issue finding a job, but I probably have missed out on jobs because of my background (but I would never know.)

    I’ve been in the same field my entire career, I’ve just moved for family (so new positions there) and then worked in different parts of my field either due to toxic workplaces, or because I’ve always wanted to try it. I never felt like “Ooh, this specific part of my field is exactly what I want to do” and stay there. I’ve won awards for my work, and yet I am 30 and haven’t been a manager or director like the peers speaking at that event. I feel like I took a non-traditional route (now I have my own business and consult, along with teach) and I would like to go back to the “traditional” route and move up the ladder again, but I was so burned out from the pandemic. The peers at the event were like “Yeah, I did an internship here, then got my first job there, was there for 5 years, left and had a baby, and then came back and became the director.” And here I am like…Yeah, I moved here, tried this role…got into this role…promoted here but then I burned out…and now I have my own business and get to try a bunch of different things!

    I’m guessing I have to just get my spiel down for explaining my career path so it sounds more cohesive/impressive, but I just feel embarrassed to go back to the next academic event. It doesn’t help that so many people in academia in my field are professors who are tenured and the conversations tend to revolve around “What award did you win” and “What research do you do” when I’m the adjunct that just…works outside of academia.

    Has anyone been in that kind of spot? Any words of wisdom appreciated!

    1. Sloanicota*

      I feel like people kind of make up stories about how deliberate and intentional their careers were, whereas in reality most people have to take what they can get job-wise. It’s okay to edit a narrative if you want – you can feel free to skip whole portions of your career if it makes a better story – but it also could be helpful to newbies to hear that the path isn’t always a straight line. My past grand-bosses were formerly a dancer and a journalist, respectively, neither of which has *anything* to do with our field (but I do feel like that’s unfortunately a relict of a bygone era, as everyone in my generation seems to have done a degree program and multiple internships in ThisExactThing in order to get an entry level job in our field).

      1. Career insecurity*

        I really appreciate hearing that! I hadn’t thought about other people in my life like previous grand-bosses with varied careers. Or how some had a second career. They just don’t talk about it as often. I just recently meet people who present a very linear path and I keep comparing myself to them (which is never helpful.) and I appreciate the reminder that almost all of us have to take what we can get job wise and that’s how paths are determined. The peers at my event made me feel like they strategically planned every career move they made since 15 ha! Thanks for this perspective.

      2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        I feel like people kind of make up stories about how deliberate and intentional their careers were, whereas in reality most people have to take what they can get job-wise.

        I totally do this! Retconning my work history is one of my unwritten skills.

        You could edit your career story, but some honesty about how much careers zig-zag could be beneficial to everyone. You’re inspiring me to be more honest about my own zig-zags…

        My public story:
        *College: Started working in a lab
        *Post-college: Got a job offer with that lab before I even graduated.
        *Grad school: Decided to pursue with the lab
        *First non-academic job: Always wanted to work at an environmental non-profit
        *In-between: Took some time to freelance and volunteer
        *Current job: Decided to work in adjacent environmental field for a BigName non-profit with international reach

        The real story:
        *College: Flailed a lot, took way too many courses in random “that looks interesting” way and needed a lot of help initially at job. Eventually developed into a good employee.
        *Post-college: Graduated into the start of the Great Recession, needed a job.
        *Grad school: Great Recession just getting worse, needed to buy time
        *First non-academic job: Out of around 50 job applications, this was the only that replied and gave me an offer. Average dysfunction that grew to unbearable dysfunction (and unwillingness of leadership to act on constructive criticism). Tried to escape by setting up various side gigs, but none panned out, so burned out and quit during the low job opening part of the pandemic economy.
        *In-between: Period of burn-out recuperation while frantically applying to about 200 jobs. Did some volunteer work to try to keep skills fresh, but very limited work.
        *Current job: Survival job, way different than what was advertised, and I haaaaate it…

    2. Be Gneiss*

      I don’t have any words of wisdom, but I think there’s a real benefit – especially if you’re presenting to students – to speak to the idea that the linear, straight up the ladder career path is NOT the only path. I wish more people presented this as good and valid and normal!
      In your field, you’ve tried a bunch of different paths, so you have experience in different things. You’ve explored different areas and found things you did and didn’t like. You’ve won awards for your work. You’ve taught, and you’ve run your own business. In a lot of ways, those are bigger accomplishments! Please don’t let this one professor’s (weird and condescending) comments take away from how you feel about what you’re doing.

      1. Career insecurity*

        I appreciate that! I was so taken aback by the comment. Especially since I’ve been invited back by that professor to talk to their class about work! I’m like…do you think poorly of me? We’re all in the same room invited to talk here so… I sometimes wonder if I was a white man if I’d get a different comment from him. And you’ve got a point, I wish I heard from someone in my undergrad about all the options. Maybe if I did, I wouldn’t have to feel so insecure about it!

    3. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      I agree with folks saying those comments from the prof were … weird. It might be because in some parts of academia the career path is clearly laid out, but it’s odd that anyone would think that’s necessarily always the case.

      Students have so few examples of how anything works in the real world that I’m sure your insight is a great help! My dad had a friend in his degree class who completed all 3 years, then realized he hated the field and went back to school and ended up having a vastly different career. When I was a student it was the most comforting thing in the world to know “some people change their minds.”

      In the “what award did you win” and “what research do you do” realm, I think you can be friendly while responding with a “that’s not really the yardstick for what I do, but I can tell you about a recent project” or even responding with whatever you do instead, not even addressing the question they asked. Some people are just really bad at small talk and I sometimes find it helps to remember that in these kinds of interactions.

    4. OtterB*

      Agree that it’s helpful for students to hear that many careers aren’t linear for any number of reasons. I think the coherent story becomes the things you’ve learned along the way – exposure to different parts of the field, a chance to work on some specific project, what kinds of work environments and managerial styles you find work well for you and what doesn’t. You can’t sit at the beginning of that process and predict how it’s going to go, but you can reflect back and say, well, at the time I took this job because I’d relocated for family reasons and it let me stay in the field, but it turns out that I learned X from it that was very helpful when I was applying for job Y.

    5. ABK*

      I don’t think you have any reason to feel insecure at all! You are successful with your own business, as a consultant, getting a job, and also adjunct teaching! And you’ve been repeatedly ask to speak to students! You should be proud and should feel comfortable letting others know of all of your accomplishments and talents.
      To quote someone on this site from yesterday: “Lord, give me the confidence of a mediocre white man!”

    6. SansaStark*

      I’m not in academia, but I’ve had a rather winding career path that might look a bit odd if you don’t have the context on how things fit together. I used to be self-conscious about it, but over time, it’s been really useful in my current position that I have a broad range of experiences to draw from. I’ve been complimented on it by leaders in my company.

      I used to look at my friends in academia with envy – I also wanted a very linear career with definite milestones/goals, etc. but 2 decades later, I have come to appreciate the struggles and winding path more. Whether that comes with age or just being happy in my current job, I don’t know. But yes, I agree to get that spiel down of how you got *here* and find a way to say it with excitement not apology. As a student, I would have loved to hear from someone other than my parents and professors who all had a similar, linear path to their careers.

    7. D.W.*

      Haha this is my life story – I have a degree in teaching, taught for about 4 years and had a terrible time of it, got out of teaching but worked in after school programing for several years (very low paying and stressful), and now I finally work in academia. It’s been a long road lol. I’m 35 and feel like I just started my career.

    8. ChemistbyDay*

      I’ve had a few different careers, in the same field, but very different day-to-day work. I’ve explained my career path as, “each time I took a job that had more parts of the work I liked, and less of the work I didn’t like”.

    9. Temperance*

      I wish more people were honest at these things! I think sharing your lived perspective would be helpful. “This leadership role wasn’t for me” is a fair thing to say, and to believe, and you’re not less successful because of it.

      I wish more people would honestly share their struggles, or their extra privileges that made a good career possible. THAT is of more value than some upper middle class person whose family connections helped her get her internships and whatnot acting like she earned everything she has fairly and making everyone else in the room feel bad.

    10. Anon Just for This*

      My career path has been super random. I try to pitch it as having a breadth of experience lets me bring different perspectives and skills that a more traditional candidate doesn’t have. As one example, in one job, I was able to flag two errors in a document that very few other people would have caught, and it’s all because of a non-work hobby that I did very seriously for quite a while and a language I speak that’s not super common where I live. The thing is to be able to demonstrate that your varied experiences gave you relevant skills.

    11. SofiaDeo*

      Sounds like you have a bit of “imposter syndrome” going on. Plus “job is not like everyone else” really is hard to compare how well you are doing, compared to others. If you are wanting to do the “traditional” routs simply so you can compare yourself to others, maybe reconsider. Having your own successful business is a skillset very few can do, and I am sure it’s a huge reason you are asked to speak. You *are* a success! Just very niche, right? That professors’ remark showed how rigid their mindset is IMO, if anything other than *gasp* the “traditional job path” makes it hard for them to fathom whether someone is employable or not.

      I do get this. I got IT experience decades ago on top of a medical health professional license, when it was not common. Initially it was difficult to sell myself as a “value add” hire, I got more “well you must have been a crappy healthcare professional, to try to switch into IT”. Nowadays health organizations realize that the best systems have heave input from actual end users, who have actually done the work. But back then, it was “non traditional”, questioned, and minimized. Oh, and I am a woman, too, who is not WASP-y at all. So some sexism/racism to boot.

    12. Asenath*

      Not exactly the same kind of spot – but I do have a rather erratic job history, and I thought when I left high school that I would get a degree, get a job in that field, and progress in that job until I retired at a suitably senior level. Even then, I had no delusions about becoming the person in charge, but I figured I’d get more and more senior posts until I settled in one until I retired. My life did not work out like that, and early on it really bothered me that I clearly wasn’t headed in that direction. Someone I asked for advice told me that my experience was far more common than the fantasy I’d started out with, so I needn’t worry about “failing” to have the life I thought I would (and that I assumed, sometimes wrongly, that most other people had). Once I let go of that self-imposed expectation, I was able to be happy with the kind of life I worked out for myself. Mostly, I don’t mention my earlier job paths that didn’t work out, but I have a few phrases I use if they come up. “Yes, that’s right, I did work as a llama wrangler when I started out.” followed by, depending on the circumstances “I really wasn’t suited for it, so it’s a good thing I moved into something else!” or “My, you bring back old memories! That was so long ago.” Oddly enough, I’m more likely now than I used to be to mention some old experiences that are relevant to some discussion because I just think of them as part of my past, not failed attempts at a career.

  34. App basics*

    Does anyone have a good place to start to learn about the basics of developing apps? I would like to do a very basic one to collect information from residents in my city about a local problem, so I might also ask this in tomorrow’s post, but this is the thread that often has good answers to technical problems so I hope it’s okay to ask now.

    Thanks so much for any insights!

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      I’m a gov employee, we do not build our own apps generally speaking but use existing technology to create what we need. That might be a better route than trying to create your own from scratch.

      You say its to collect info – is there any reason you can’t make this much simpler and use something like a survey or a web form?

      Basically people are not going to want to download yet another app especially one with a singular limited purpose.

    2. Stay gold pony boy*

      I recommend Survey123 if your municipality has an AGOL license (many do). Your GIS department should be able to help you set it up.

      1. Sparkle llama*

        It is unclear to me whether this person works for/with the municipality or is trying to coordinate action outside of the government. If it is the first, I agree that Survey 123 or potentially some other tools from ESRI (the company that makes most GIS- geographic information systems software) would be your best bet. They also have app builder which you can use for configurable web apps to collect geospatial data such as a picture and where it was taken with comments.

        That will likely not be an option if not coordinated with an agency that has a purpose for an expensive software suite. A google form or similar is probably going to be the easiest option

    3. Roland*

      If you’ve never made an app, starting with one that collects private information from people is probably not a good place to start. There’s a lot that can go wrong with secure collection and storage of data. Agreed with others that using some kind of tool is the best way to go.

    4. Temperance*

      I would just do a Google form. There’s really no super easy way for a person with no experience to create an app, figure out how to publish said app, and get people to trust you enough to download it.

      If this is an urgent problem and you need or want the data now, give up on the app idea and do something web-based.

      1. DEJ*

        This. This is one of those apps I would think ‘I do not want or need another app on my phone!’ if I needed to download.

    5. App basics*

      I’m trying to collect data about things that people see around the city. This isn’t the situation, but think of sightings of problem plants, so we need to collect location, some info about what specific plants they have seen (maybe include photos), and a way to contact the person who is submitting the information. Anyone and everyone in the city will be invited to submit information, and they will likely do it from their phone when they are outside their home.

      I had originally thought about hosting my own website and having a form that people could fill out and the info in that form would then get sent to an email inbox where I could collate all the data into a spreadsheet. Another volunteer is really excited about doing an app, so I was curious to learn more in order to better assess the differences. I don’t have many apps on my phone so I’m a bit surprised at everyone’s push away from them! I think the community interested in the problem will be fine to add another app to their phone because they tend to be passionate, but I’ll have to think about this more. Thanks!

      1. Roland*

        If it’s just the one form, I still don’t see why a google form etc won’t work? But if you must have an app, you need to get someone with experience to create it. Especially since you plan to collect “a way to contact the person who is submitting the information”. That is PII, which you shouldn’t mess with unless you know what you’re doing.

        1. App basics*

          I thought google requires people to have google accounts? I’ve had problems with them in the past where access was complicated. I’d rather just do my own site if I go that route.

          Good to know about the collection of personal info. Sounds like those involved should have a chat. Thanks!

          1. Put the Blame on Edamame*

            You can fill in a Google form without an account, the form creator just has to check the settings.

      2. Margo Darling*

        Respectfully, “a volunteer is excited about doing an app” is not a reason to do it. Is this volunteer an app developer? Someone who knows anything about app development? Or do they just think it sounds like a cool idea? Apps are a huge amount of work, you need strong tech skills, and a serious investment of funds. You’d be better off hiring someone to develop it if you’re willing to put money into it but why? A Google form will work fine for the needs you’ve described.

  35. Kacihall*

    I made the mistake last January of taking a promotion without clarifying the compensation. I was told since our war the beginning of the year they would figure it out at my 90 day review. They then told me that since everyone got raises at the end of the year, I wouldn’t get a raise until 2023. I have compensation addenda I had to sign stating what my commendation would be as of 2023. Payday is today (and I confirmed that despite this pay period starting in 2022 this is for year 2023) and my payrate did not change. (Insurance rates went up for 2023 though! ) I have a calendar appointment to discuss merit raises for next month.

    Should I wait? Or should I bring it up with my manager now?

    1. Sloanicota*

      Oh man this stinks. I’d make the appointment now but I’d also be looking to leverage my promotion to a new position elsewhere that compensates me fairly.

    2. Violet*

      What kind of promotion was it, and can you find out the pay bands for both jobs? You can always ask, but if the pay bands overlap or the level of responsibility is similar, you might not get it.
      For example, say your salary is $50k. Your last title had a pay band of $20-60k. Your new title has a pay band of $40-80k. I don’t see you getting a raise in that type of scenario. Maybe if you were going from A less complex position to a more complex position, or a non-supervisory position to a supervisory position then you would have a good case for a raise even though the pay bands overlap significantly. I wouldn’t expect a big raise even in that case, because you are still new to the position and should not expect to be in the middle or upper range of the pay band.
      On the other hand, if the new pay band is $60-100k, you have a pretty strong case that they should pay you at least $60.

      1. Sloanicota*

        That said (and I’m not sure how many jobs outside government actually have pay bands, but some do) – but I would probably decline a promotion that involved more work/responsibility that came with no increase in pay – outside certain very strategic career maneuvers, like “I will do this for one year so that I have supervisor experience, and then if I’m still not being offered what I’d like, I’ll look for a new job that will pay me that much” – or if it’s supposed to be a step to further promotion, or the only way to get up to the next pay band within the year, or something. A reasonable company should offer you at least a little more if they’re asking for more work.

        1. Violet*

          “how many jobs outside government actually have pay bands”

          Most of them. Any work place that has levels in job titles, like Jr. vs Sr. Analyst, will have a different pay band for the levels. Most companies will have different pay bands for managers vs. non-managers, as well.

          “I would probably decline a promotion that involved more work/responsibility that came with no increase in pay”

          And that’s certainly your right! But if, say, you got promoted from Assembler to Assembly Manager and you were already being paid as much as an inexperienced manager, expecting a raise might be unrealistic.

    3. Asenath*

      Bring it up now. If you think there is an error (and you do), the sooner you bring it up, the sooner it can be fixed.

      And it is really rotten to not give you the money until you’ve been doing the work that goes with the promotion for a year, just because they only schedule raises once a year.

  36. SheNeverKnowsBest*

    Hi. First time posting here, looking for some resume/job hunting advice. I graduated college Dec. 2021 and took a job in the auto industry in a rotational program. In October I got an offer from a FAANG company and I stupidly jumped ship for it. I didn’t want to tie myself to the auto industry (no interest in cars, the experience I got there wouldn’t transfer well to other industries, etc.) and figured that I could stick it out at the new place for a few years and get used the pace. Unfortunately, I couldn’t keep up with it and my manager has put me in developmental review. It doesn’t look like I’m going to be keeping this job. They’ve given me a set of goals to meet and I’m trying, but the timeline to achieve them is short and being cut shorter. If I fail to meet them, I’ll be put on a project with impossible deadlines and then fired when I can’t meet them. I know it’s my fault for not trying hard enough, but I’m panicking. I’m trying to put my resume out, but how should I represent my work history? I have a college internship at an automotive supplier, six months at one of the big three car companies, and four months at a FAANG company. I’m looking for non-automotive positions but most of my experience is with them. And what should I say if someone asks me why I haven’t been able to stay at a job for a full year since graduating?

    1. Ormond Sackler*

      I don’t think it’s super uncommon for recent grads to have a bunch of jobs while they figure out their career. The tough part will be that you don’t have many years of experience so it’ll be harder to get people to look at your resume (at least that was my experience).

      I’d guess most HR people would be sympathetic to the idea that both the car industry and FAANG aren’t for everyone.

    2. Nicki Name*

      If you’re doing software engineering or something similar, then don’t worry about switching industries, that happens all the time. (I’m a software engineer and every one of my jobs has been in a different industry.)

      Don’t look at this as being your fault, your employer is asking you to do impossible things.

      As for the main question: Be straightforward. You got what you thought was a great opportunity, you dropped everything for it, it turned out not so great, you want out. You’re a recent graduate, the pandemic times have been crazy, you’re allowed to make a mistake.

      It’s also known that the FAANGs have been shedding people right and left and are probably looking to shed more, and that the newest people tend to be the most susceptible to layoffs. People looking at your resume might also know that some of the biggest names in tech have horrible internal cultures and there might be reasons outside of layoffs that someone might want to leave them.

      1. SheNeverKnowsBest*

        Thanks for your advice. I am a software developer. Do you think it would be better quit beforehand, or get fired?

        1. Hillary*

          Start applying now and make them go through the work to fire you. The FAANG companies are often shiny apples that aren’t as good inside.

          You’re the age where you’re supposed to take risks. This one didn’t work out. Don’t blame yourself.

          Try and do some introspection. What didn’t you like about automotive, and what kind of role/company will be better? What would you have done differently, and what will you do differently next time?

    3. Hlao-roo*

      Because you’re only about a year out of school, you have some leeway on having only short stays on your resume. If someone asks about your short stints, I would frame it as “I left [auto company] because I never planned on staying the automotive industry forever and I got a great offer from [FAANG company]. Unfortunately, the [culture/job duties] at [FAANG company] are not a good fit for me, and I was excited to see your job ad for [position] because [positive reasons].”

    4. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      I’d like to gently push back on your belief that this is all your fault for not trying hard enough. An organization that takes someone who is struggling, puts them on a project with impossible deadlines, then fires them is an organization that sucks. From what you’ve written, it sounds like they’re setting you up to fail. That’s an awful thing to do to someone. I’d be very curious whether the company has given you the support and guidance to be successful in the role.

      But to answer your actual question, for the jobs that were rotational / contract, I’d list them as such. You were there for a set amount of time and when that time was done, you moved on.

  37. Hanani*

    I’m beginning a new job where part of my role is managing our part-time grad student workers. I’ve been reading everything Alison’s ever written on managing, and wanted to asked the commentariat for any suggestions, things not to do, etc. Hit me with your best tips for a new manager, and a new manager of part-time students!

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Track when the students have term start/end and when exam week(s) are. The amount of suddenly out students always spikes right before finals, we no longer schedule them that week so they have extra time to study and finish projects without us scrambling for coverage. Also be really explicit about time off, many schools have long summer and winter breaks, be clear about your expectations if you need them to work that time or not.

    2. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      Many entry level employees are afraid to ask questions because they think it makes them look weak, when in fact you want them to ask so you can address the issue immediately and it shows that they are problem solving. I try to communicate as much as possible what workplace norms are – “this is the kind of conversation any boss/employee might have” or “please ask when you don’t understand something. I would rather solve the issue immediately than have you unsure for a full day” to cut down on that problem.

    3. Clisby*

      I don’t know whether this will apply to your grad-school employees, but my son worked this past summer as a fill-in employee at a local college. They had an app that would publish when they had open shifts, and he could sign up (or not) as it suited him. His restaurant job did the same. Make it easy for students to take time off when they need to, and for other students to pick up extra hours when they need them.

    4. Elle*

      Don’t assume they know any workplace norms-be clear on attire, e-mail expectations, deadlines, workloads, anything day to day. Document everything.

  38. KittenLittle*

    Does anyone know of a post/article on AAM or an HR site that addresses HR employees dating their coworkers? I looked, but couldn’t find anything. Thank you!

    1. Hlao-roo*

      There are two posts about friendships and working in HR:

      “can you have close work friendships when you’re in HR?” from September 16, 2014

      “am I allowed to have friends at work if I work in HR?” from November 21, 2016

      The short answer is: no, you can’t have close friendships with people at work when you work in HR. So I imagine that an HR employee dating a coworker is a no-go (or should be). Links in a follow-up comment.

  39. curmudgeon*

    I’m going through the interview process but this time as the employer. I’m trying to prepare myself for standard questions but I’m stuck on how to answer “why did the last person leave the department?” if it were to come up.

    Unfortunately we had to fire the last person for poor performance which seems inappropriate to mention in an interview.

    Any ideas?

    1. Sour Grapes*

      I think unless it is *super* easy to find the previous person in the job (like a quick linked in search) it’s fine to say something along the lines of we had to let the person go. But I would try to say like “after several clear conversations and a PIP we had to part ways as their work was not at a level that we need”, basically something that makes it clear that a) you aren’t firing people willy nilly and b) you *do* fire people who make life hard for everyone else around them. If the person is super easy to find I might be a little more close mouthed about it so as not to put them on blast, like “we had to part ways”. Hopefully it just won’t come up though, you may be surprised!

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Your sentence is fine just soften it a little and add explanation.
      Unfortunately the last person in this role was let go after they were unable to complete XYZ task. Or unable to keep pace. Or they were lacking qualification ABC.

      1. ferrina*

        Yep. When I asked this, my company told me why the last person wasn’t a good fit. It was really helpful, because it was something that wouldn’t be an issue with me.

    3. lost academic*

      No, honestly, I would want to hear that. Find some wording that’s respectful of that person’s privacy but is clear that it was a performance based decision and not a personality kind of thing (I hate hearing “not a good fit” because it doesn’t tell me at all if the department pushes out people in a toxic fashion or makes healthy decisions about performance and doesn’t just ignore dead weight). You also don’t want to come across as saying “be exceptional or we’ll fire your a$$”, you want to make it clear that this department supports everyone in the required roles and manages people out as needed.

    4. Turingtested*

      Can’t you default to “wasn’t a good fit for the role?” It’s honest without going into detail about the employee. If there are more questions you can get specific about “couldn’t meet deadlines” “never learned our software” or whatever.

    5. L. Ron Jeremy*

      Yes, lying to prospective employees is the best way to go about keeping them on the job full time. Why not answer truthfully? I don’t understand.

    6. Glazed Donut*

      I’d feel comfortable saying “the last (role) is no longer with the department. We are very much interested in hiring a person for (role) who has experience in X, Y, and Z.”

  40. Anon Today*

    Good morning. Anyone have success encouraging an employee to shift to a different department and role if they didn’t come up with the idea on their own? I’ve got an employee who does their work, but gets easily upset and causes extra work for me because they are so entrenched in how things should work, it’s like they have NO flexibility.

    Another department that they worked in as an intern before now has an open role that would be a lateral move, though possibly with a small pay bump and I want this person to consider it. But I have no idea how to bring it up, if I even can.

    1. Bunny Girl*

      Do you have conversations with your employee when they become upset? That might be a good way to flow into something else. Like hey I’ve noticed how upset this makes you and I have noticed it’s becoming a pattern, then lead with that.

    2. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      This might go without saying, but I would want to speak with my colleagues in the other department before bringing it to the actual employee. Maybe they have a specific person in mind for the role already and it would be a wild goose chase for your report, who then resents being asked to pursue a role that they didn’t get hired for.

    3. BRR*

      Is the reason you want them to transfer because they cause extra work for you? If yes then you shouldn’t encourage them to change jobs. It’s wrong to try and transfer problem employees rather than manage them.

      If that’s not the case and you think this other role would be something that would interest them, you could highlight what’s different about the two roles and say that you know they interned in that department before and you would support them if they were interested in that role.

  41. Anonymous resignation question*

    I posted last week about a new job, but I have a new question. Your advice was very reassuring, thank you.

    The new position is at a company where a sibling works. We would be under different management lines, but the company’s HR wants to have a conversation with us both about… Something. Hilariously, I’ve only heard about this tidbit because of sibling — hiring company has not communicated this conversation need to me. My contracting agency has not told me either.

    Per sibling, they may just call me out of the blue rather than email/introduce the issue. Because of my prior stalking, I do not share details with people when I’m not expecting it.

    Is there a tactful way to push back should the hiring company’s HR call without previously acknowledging the need for a conversation? For my point of view, I’ve heard nothing official from anyone official about this phone call needing to take place, so I’m in the dark about HR supposedly wanting to speak with me. Again, TIA.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      I’m confused why you don’t want to take the call. Also how will you tell this is about your sibling and not an HR call with an offer for the position? Whose the official you’re expecting to tell you that HR wants to talk to you first? HR is usually the point of contact for hiring…

      1. DisneyChannelThis*

        Second comment to add, the common policy is that family members cannot manage (be directly in path on the hierarchy) other family members. So the conversation is likely letting you both know this, as that limits your movement laterally in the company and does setup that one day if you or sibling is promoted high enough it may depend on the other of you getting out of the way.

      2. Anonymous resignation question*

        I am being hired as a contractor (company only hires via contract to hire). I have never spoken to the company’s HR, nor have they previously contacted me. My only communication has been through my staffing agency and my (soon to be) manager.

        Given zero prior communication plus preexisting stalker, I am not predisposed to just sharing information. I have gone to incredible pains to be as non-existent as possible, and I’m not willing to sacrifice my safety.

        I am fully aware siblings can not manage one another, nor do I want to manage/be managed by my sibling. Holidays are already awkward enough.

        1. Sunshine*

          I totally understand being cautious, but talking to HR at the place with you work – often with no warning – is a really normal part of any job. I’ve been called by HR for any number of reasons, and I can’t just decline the call – they would find me anyway and I’d probably get in trouble for being avoidant if it went on too long. I doubt you’ll be asked to reveal any information they don’t already have for you anyway as part of your employment paperwork. I would just reframe this as a normal part of your job duties and try not to get upset about it.

        2. I'm A Little Teapot*

          You’ve heard this through the grapevine. Call the hiring manager, your contracting company, etc and ask directly. It is perfectly reasonable that your sibling gave you a heads up that HR wants to discuss something with you, and it is not unreasonable that you’d reach out to the people you do know to followup.

          Aside from that, you suffered trauma and your response to it is causing problems in your life. This is very much something that is worthy of discussion and treatment with a professional. I can’t tell you if your efforts to be non-existent are reasonable due to the risk or not, and if it is unreasonable then you also can’t tell and need help. Bare minimum, you need to figure out how to safely and comfortably conduct business related conversations in a way that doesn’t cause undue hardship for you or the other party. Because potentially refusing to talk to HR at your new employer is not an option.

        3. Squawkberries*

          Y’know, if they want to talk to you and you don’t pick up, they might well leave a message or email that you can check and return the call once you verify it’s appropriate. I can understand not picking up an unfamiliar and unexpected number, even with concerns about a stalker.

    2. BRR*

      Caveat that I have not been in your situation.

      Is there a tactful way to push back? I don’t think so. Not having any prior notice for a conversation is very normal. The main exception I can think of is if you can’t verify the number is a company number. Like if everyone used their personal cell phones and you received a call from an unknown number. Then you can suggest a method of contact that verifies who you’re talking to.

      1. Tuesday*

        This is a good suggestion. I get that it’s annoying for the sister to be told about the call but not get that message yourself, but this kind of thing really is common. It’s going to be seen as antagonistic to refuse to answer calls you aren’t briefed on in advance, especially right at the beginning of your contract. Maybe having a way to verify that it really is HR calling would put you more at ease.

        (But I’m not sure what information you’re expecting to have to reveal that they wouldn’t already have. They already have your name and contact info for sure, from the contracting agency.)

    3. RagingADHD*

      What personal information do you think you would be asked to share? If your sibling is correct, the HR person already has your resume and your phone number, knows that you are a contractor working for their company, and knows that your sibling is an employee. There’s not much else they would want from you in terms of personal information.

      I am confused about how you see this as a threat to your safety, and I suspect that your feelings are clouding your perception of the situation.

      You could always get ahead of it by calling your contact at the agency to ask what’s up. They may not know. And your sibling may be incorrect that they need to talk to you at all.

  42. Preparing*

    I supervise someone who is eligible for retirement at any time. They mention to me on a semi-regular basis that they are retirement eligible and aren’t sure when they’ll do it, they could do it at any time, but probably not before X year and probably no longer than Y. I was not the one that brought it up first, but since they did & now do, I’ve mentioned twice (once in a quarterly review and once in an annual planning meeting) that they could start retirement prep as a goal for the year, in a long-term way. Take notes on the way they do annual tasks since they’ll only do them a few more times, etc. I’ll also refer to it in contextual abstract ways – like, they’ve mentioned living in a foreign country after retirement, and I’ve referenced back to it in passing (“Oh, did you see that the new Princess of Genovia took the crown? You could see her palace one day!”) This really seems to agitate them and they reinforce that they are Not Retiring Now, which is okay by me, really, but I’m left feeling awkward about what I’m supposed to do with all these both casual and official retirement related declarations. Any advice? This feels more like a work-social issue than a work-work issue, as I’m not worried about needing to push them to do any retirement prep – it’ll be fairly easy to do transition prep once they decide to. They only reason I offered starting to work on it now is because they brought it up first so it seemed like it was on their radar!

    1. Preparing*

      I should clarify – the work related comments (Oh, you could start writing documentation on how you conduct the Annual Llama Inventory this year) seem to agitate them far more than the social comments and trigger immediate replies like “I mean I could, but I WILL be doing that inventory several more times, I’m NOT looking to retire NOW, let me BE CLEAR ABOUT THAT” and the social comments seem to just invoke total uncomfortable surprise, as if they forgot they mentioned to me they want to move to Genovia after retiring because they love the monarchy there

      1. Colette*

        I’d stop mentioning retirement. It sounds to me like they’re dreaming about retirement but not planning.

        But I think you should still get them to do the work-related documentation – I’d just phrase it as “we’re trying to make sure we have documentation, and since you’re the expert, I’d like you to do it”. They aren’t planning to retire soon – but plans change, sometimes for reasons we can’t control.

        1. Preparing*

          Oh yes, I’ve already done that, but this person still comes to me (randomly, or in our one-on-ones) and repeats “Just so you know, I could retire at any time. Probably not for (number less than 5) years, but yeah, I’m eligible now. I will be retiring soon.”

          These are direct comments to me, and these are the times I say “Okay, well, if you want, we could start looking at prep like blah blah blah” … I’m lookin for recommendations about what to say in response to these ongoing one-on-one Retirement Reminders, so to speak, when they seem to not want any acknowledgement at all even though they bring it up first!

          1. DisneyChannelThis*

            Them: “Just so you know, I could retire at any time. Probably not for (number less than 5) years, but yeah, I’m eligible now. I will be retiring soon.”

            You: Ok thanks for letting me know, I’ll make a note here. Let me know if that’s going to be in the next 3 months, otherwise I really do need you to work on Task A.

            1. Violet*

              Yes, use some variation of this. Go with a neutral acknowledgment and optionally following up with reminding them about a task. Then put it out of your head because they are obviously not in a place where they are interested in taking action. You could have a larger picture conversation where you name the pattern you are seeing and ask them what the desired outcome is:
              Them: I could retire any day now!
              You: Jane, I’ve noticed recently that you’ve been notifying me that you could be ready to retire any day now. Is there any specific action from me that you are requesting?We’ve been working on documenting your processes so that you’re ready when you do decide to retire, but you keep bringing it up so I am wondering if there is something you wanted that I have been missing.

              And from there on your standard response should be something like, “Is there anything specific that you are requesting from me for that?”

          2. MsM*

            “Okay, well, tell me when ‘soon’ becomes ‘in the next [insert minimum notice you think would be appropriate here],’ or if there’s something specific we need to discuss about your timeline and responsibilities. Until then, I see no reason not to proceed with business as usual.”

            1. Preparing*

              I like this, the person in question does tend to do better with specificity and repetition. thanks!

    2. Hlao-roo*

      My advice is to stop mentioning their potential/inevitable(?) retirement in any way. No more “please document X process so we know how to do it after you retire.” No more “heard the weather in Genovia is great in the winter–you have lots to look forward to when you move there!”

      I don’t think you did anything wrong by thinking it would be an OK topic to mention here and there because they brought it up first, but now that you know they don’t react positively (and I can imagine why–they probably feel like you’re pushing them out/they’re losing control of their retirement timeline) it’s best to not mention the topic unless they mention it first (and then only discuss during that particular conversation).

  43. Mbarr*

    My new student employee started on Monday. (She works full time with us for at least 4 months.) Before she started, she asked if she could take two university courses on the side (she needed permission to take more than 1). Then it turns out the one course she wants is only in person.

    I had hesitantly approved the 2 classes. And even more hesitantly approved the in person course, provided she keeps up with her work, and makes up the time. I’m just struggling a lot, trying not to let these curve balls affect my impression of her. I don’t want to be ageist, “You’re too young to handle this workload.” I think if I knew her better, I’d be less paranoid.

    1. Excel Jedi*

      I would trust your gut and not approve the second course.

      There’s probably a reason that two courses need approval, and that reason is because the workload IS too much for most students. The approval override is likely for student employees who have already proven in some way that they can handle more work.

      You’re not obligated to make an exception for someone whose work ethic/capacity you don’t yet know – and you may be setting them up for failure if you do.

      1. Margo Darling*

        I agree. There’s supposed to be a reason to make an exception, probably not just that the person asked for one.

    2. Fluffy Fish*

      You’re making an awful lot of assumptions about your employee with zero evidence. Not to mention coming across as being concerned about things our of bounds when you say things like you’d be less concerned if you knew her better. You don’t need to “know” your employees.

      You wouldn’t say the same thing about a new regular employee, right? That you’d feel better about whether they could do the job if you knew them better?

      I’m also not sure your expectations of a student employee are realistic. Too young to handle the workload? What exactly is the workload for a student employee?

      You set expectations that are reasonable for a student employee. You address issues directly as they come up. Just like any other employee.

    3. HannahS*

      That workload is not at all unusual for someone that age. Almost everyone I knew was a full-time student with a part-time job; she is simply doing the inverse by having a full-time job and being a part-time student.

      It’s possible that she may feel overwhelmed. Well, she’s a student-employee. Part of supervising student employees is that they are learning their abilities and limitations. Maybe it will be too much! But she doesn’t know that yet, and neither do you.

    4. Temperance*

      Young people are masters at working a ton. She’ll be fine. If you have performance concerns, address those when they come up.

      Two college classes isn’t that much, either, on top of a full-time job.

      1. Mbarr*

        This is my logic too. I would have fewer doubts about a Masters student, so why would a Bachelor’s make a difference? Hence me acknowledging it’s ageism. LOL

  44. RMNPgirl*

    Random, but maybe fun question –

    What do you put for an away message if you work remote? I’ve been hybrid for the past year now, 1 day in office and then 4 days at home (although I could be fully remote if I wanted to). And when I’m on PTO, I still put that I’m “out of the office until [date]”, but I’m never really in the office anymore…

    So do others still use that convention or do you write something else?

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      I still say out of office. People understand that to mean you are not at work, whether that’s working from an office building or your home office.

    2. londonedit*

      I either say ‘I’m away from my desk’ if it’s just an afternoon or a day off, or for a longer holiday I’ll say ‘I’m on annual leave’ (which is a common British way of saying you’re on holiday anyway) or just ‘I’m on holiday and will be back at my desk on Monday 23rd’.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      “I will be away from my desk today,” or for vacations, “I will be on vacation from X to Y.”

      It honestly doesn’t matter either way. Even though you’re hybrid, you really only need one message. “Out of the office” is fine.

      I mean, shoot, I still say “hang up the phone” when I’m talking about a video call.

    4. Roland*

      You can just say “I’ll be out until [date]” if the word “office” bothers you, but I don’t think it’s a big deal either way. Even if you didn’t have an office to go to, it would be fine.

      In my office, people make frequent use of gmail’s automatic meeting decline for time off and those messages say something like “declined because I’m out of office”, hasn’t caused any confusion. Almost no one I work with currently ever email individual people (vs mailing lists for distributing info) so OOO autoreplies that people write themselves are barely even a thing.

    5. Seahorse*

      Haha, I’ve wondered the same thing. As I’m technically “out of the office” half the time now, it doesn’t seem quite accurate. Still, the sentiment conveys that I’m not working for whatever reason.
      My away message says “I’m out of the office until [date] and will respond to all emails when I return.” I think not suggesting that I might still respond, and not directing people to bug someone else about a non-emergency issue is more likely to get pushback than the out of office phrasing.

    6. Alex*

      I still say out of the office. I don’t think people take that literally (or even think about it much at all). And I still consider myself “in the office” when I’m sitting at my computer, signed on to Slack, looking at my email, etc. It’s just a metaphorical office instead of a literal one.

    7. Camelid coordinator*

      I say “out of office and away from email” just to make it extra clear that I am not working.

    8. AHN*

      I work on site all day 3 days, and split on site/home 2 days; and on site vs. working at home is an important distinction for pieces of my job. I’ve been using “away from work” in my email auto-responder out of office message when I am out for paid time off. I also note that I will answer emails when I return on X date.

    9. linger*

      See yesterday’s discussion of “What’s the weirdest / most inappropriate email signature you’ve seen?” Especially, look at the replies to FashionablyEvil on OOO messages that make you O.o (link to follow)

    10. allathian*

      I didn’t change my standard OOO when I went fully remote in March 2020 and returned to hybrid in August 2022.

  45. Irish Teacher.*

    Because the processes discussed here differ so much from my experience, I was just wondering what the applications process for jobs in people’s areas is like. I’d like to hear about the hiring process in people’s workplaces.

    For teaching in Ireland, it can differ a little by school. Some ask candidates to fill in application forms. Others just ask for a CV and cover letter. And as it has come up here as a cultural thing, there are some that ask for photos, though this is fairly rare, maybe one in twenty schools might ask for one?

    If you are shortlisted, you will be called for an interview. The interview is usually 15-30 minutes, then the chosen candidate is offered the job. There are some schools that do two interviews, the first a short 10-15 minute one and the second a bit longer, probably the half hour, but again this is fairly uncommon.

    1. StellaBella*

      I work in Europe for a non profit. Our process is: apply online on our org website, then a machine algorithm scans the app, then HR gets a lit together to share with the hiring manager, then there is a selection of people to interview (usually 4-5), then we do some kind of video screens tests then video calls or in person, sometimes up to 3 interview rounds with panels, then people are hired. Then Hr send a contract and paperwork which gets signed, then a person starts. We do have some onboarding too.

    2. londonedit*

      I work in book publishing in the UK, and my interview experience is in editorial roles. The vast majority of job applications ask for a CV and cover letter. First round interviews are in-person (or sometimes still on video these days, but they’re full interviews rather than a phone screen) and then from there a handful of candidates will move forward to second interview stage. Usually a decision on who to hire is then made after the second interview.

      The first round will usually involve interviewing with, say, the commissioning editor for the list that’s hiring, and the editorial director/publisher. And then the second interview will be with that same editorial director/publisher and someone higher up like the overall head of publishing for the broader department (say you’re interviewing for an editorial job on a wildlife list; the first interview would be with the people you’ll be working directly with on wildlife books and the second would be with the editorial director of the wildlife list and also the head of natural history publishing). Generally it’s all behavioural questions (like ‘tell me about a time when you…’) but you’ll also be expected to talk through your experience and talk about any relevant books that you’ve worked on in the past and the challenges/successes of those. A first interview will also commonly involve an editorial test, which depending on the role could involve a short text to proofread or copy-edit, and/or a task to do with writing cover copy or something similar. Interviews for commissioning roles might also involve presenting one or two sample ideas for new projects. The interview itself will usually be around 45 minutes with the editorial test(s) taking an additional 15-30 minutes at the end.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      Teacher in the US. I think everywhere I’ve applied did an online district application where you can submit it for individual positions and/or a general applicant pool. Sometimes attaching a resume, cover letter, and letters of recommendation is optional and sometimes required. Some districts have written questions you have to answer (like “how do you promote diversity” or “how do you keep in touch with parents” type stuff). Usually I’ve just interviewed with the principal but once I had a panel interview that also included a couple teachers.

      My first job I got hired during the interview (it was the Friday before school started, we were both desperate.) Others I’d get a call or email a couple days after the interview to be offered the job or rejected. Current one I got an email from the principal like “you’re hired! HR will contact you” which felt really odd to me but I guess that’s how the district does it and I’m glad to be here!

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Here, the norm for interviews tends to be either principal and deputy principal or principal, deputy principal and third person so that there is an odd number (the third could be a member of the board of management or a teacher of the subject you are applying to teach or occasionally even a member of the religious, though I doubt that is the case any more), but I have had everything from just the principal or deputy principal to an 8 person panel.

  46. Sour Grapes*

    For those of you who have left professions where it was a big “identity”, do you feel like you made the right decision? I am a winemaker with a degree in it and 10+ years of experience, and I’ve applied to a different job (still employed by a winery but more HR related). Job would offer huge potential pay increase but I’m having existential issues with not being able to say “I’m a winemaker”!

    Anybody have thoughts or experience one way or another?

    1. Interplanet Janet*

      So, like you, I’m still in my field but not in the way I intended and in a way that’s less tied to the “identity” of my training. For me, it was definitely the right call, and I’ve found that it eased it to say (and remind myself) that my time as a “winemaker” and understanding the “winemaking work” works has positively influenced my perspective on my new role, and in fact benefits the winemakers I now support. It’s gratifying in it’s own way!

    2. Hen in a Windstorm*

      Well, there’s a reason(s) you’re looking for a different job. It sounds like you need to do the work of untangling your sense of self from what you do *and* from what you do for money. I have tons of starter questions!

      Do you not have any other skills or interests? Is your identity tied up in winemaking because of prestige, or history, or family stuff? Who are you imagining speaking to? Basically, *why* is it an existential issue? Are all your friends in the same industry? Are you afraid they will look down on you? Do you look down on yourself? Do you look down on others who’ve left the industry? Or are you telling yourself a story about money: If I really cared about the wine, money wouldn’t matter/I’m a failure for wanting to make more money/I’m a failure for not already making more money.

      I notice, btw, that you don’t have a “new identity”. If someone asks what you do, you’d say, “I work in HR.” You would not say, “I’m not a winemaker.” But I’m guessing you have no other answers to “And what do you do for fun?”

      Maybe now is the time to learn beer brewing, or bread baking, or gardening, or knitting or some other maker hobby.

    3. MissGirl*

      I used to work in book publishing so it was so easy to say I’m an editor and everyone instantly knew what I basically did. I was also proud to be in the industry and of what I did. We also had a fairly well-known series so people could connect to that and me by default. Then I worked as a ski instructor at a world-renown resort, which just sounds cool to say and me feel a little more awesome.

      Now I’m a data analyst at a start-up no one has heard of. I do miss that instant connection when telling someone what I do. But I also love making three times as much and actually having money to live on.

      When people ask what I do, I say I’m a data analyst and I like it because it’s like putting together giant puzzles. Then I segue the conversation into things people care about. Most people don’t care that much about careers; it’s just a conversation starter.

    4. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      Yes, I was a bookseller who stuck at a terrible job for far too long because of the tie to my identity (and other things, but in retrospect it was part of it(. It’s not weird to feel strange about it, I’d approach those feelings with curiosity. And think about a narrative that’s more like “I’m a winemaker on a journey through different roles”.

    5. Educator*

      This is a really common question in the former teacher community! I’ve come to believe that, when a good teacher leaves the classroom, they don’t magically stop being a teacher. I look at the whole darn world through that lens, for better or worse, even though I have not been an actual classroom teacher for almost 20 years. I go into meetings with lists of objectives, create self-assessment rubrics for my core tasks to help myself improve, and love serving as a mentor. In what ways could you keep being a winemaker in HR?

      It also helped me to legally stay a teacher and stay tapped into that community. Do you have to fully walk away from the actual work of winemaking if you take this job?

    6. Samantha Parkington 1904*

      I left working in a public library to take a job at a library vendor (database / electronic content platform) and, a year later, I am kind of regretting it. I like the work well enough, but adjusting to a more corporate culture has been difficult and working remotely has been hard on my mental health. Surprisingly, I really miss working with the public! I worked too *much* with the public before, since I was working at the library plus a retail job, but I deeply, deeply miss the satisfaction that comes from helping people, and I miss my kids. I make a touch more money and moved across the country to a place with a wider library job pool, so hopefully I’ll be able to transition back into libraries after another two or three years. (This is my first full-time “career” job and the rest of my resume is 2-4 year overlapping stints of part-time work, so I want to stay here a little longer for the sake of my resume.)

    7. Jinni*

      I was a lawyer and now I’m a writer. I actually never talk about the lawyer part of my life (except with those that know me from back then). I had no attachment to the old identity – though my mother’s still upset some 15 years later…

      In my case, other people had more attachment to it than I did…

  47. Mark*

    Is it normal to have a six-month probationary period on a ten-month contract? I know six months is standard in a lot of jobs, but in this case I’ll be on probation for more than half the time I’m here!

    1. Excel Jedi*

      Is it a temp-to-perm contract, or one you might expect to renew? If so, it seems fine to me. But if you know you’ll be gone in 10 months, what are you giving up by being on probation for 60% of that time?

      1. Mark*

        Not temp-to-perm – as long as nothing drastic happens I’ll probably get renewed a few times though. I was mostly curious since it seemed a little odd and I hadn’t run across it before. Thanks for the info!

      2. cncx*

        In the jurisdiction where I am located probation is a two way street. In permanent contracts, the probation is 3-6 months during which time notice is one week. In temp contracts thé notice period is always the following Friday if not spelled out otherwise in the contract.

        The thing is if someone hires you for a set amount here, nothing is stopping you from cutting and running on a Thursday night at any point so employers give you job security by putting in contract clauses like committing to paying the whole term or three months notice but only one month probation. I had a one year contract where the wording had this and spelled out the shorter probation because it gave all of us motivation to stay through the end.

        Tl;Dr you’re probably not in my jurisdiction but I still think you could go back to HR and be like look, I’m committed to giving y’all a year of my time, can we protect each other in terms of the probation? Because if the notice isn’t spelled out like the probation is, nothing contractual is currently stopping you from bailing during probation either.

  48. StellaBella*

    As we start this new year I am working on my work boundaries and have found several old letters here helpful.

    One letter is called ‘can my micromanaging boss be rehabilitated? she makes me take all calls on speaker phone…’ from 2013 an d the advice and comments helped me this week as my boss’ boss is a bit of a controller/needy/almost micromanager in some cases and in others forgets about stuff all the time. So re reading that has helped me think about stuff to manage the issues that came up.

    Secondly, the other article here I re read is called ‘what does self-care look like at work?’ from 2022, and in fact I have highlighted and copied some of it to my laptop and put notes in my work calendar on these things: Carving out time at work where you can just think, not checking emails when off and saying no when have too much on your plate.

    Thank you Alison and commentariat for advice and help as usual.

  49. Diatryma*

    A question for people who speak English as a second language:

    What helps you understand native English speakers? I’ve read that native speakers are harder to understand than fellow non-native speakers*, mostly because of speed and word choice, and I’d like to help out our newer hires who aren’t native speakers. We work in a laboratory setting.

    What I try to do already:
    Speak clearly and slowly, facing the listener if possible
    Use less slang and workaround language
    Be businesslike and brief when training, and more relaxed in casual settings
    Give time after speaking/demonstrating

    What else should I do to aid comprehension in the moment?

    *I read a really interesting article a couple years ago about how meetings between people with different first languages, conducted in English, went smoothly and easily… until a native English speaker came in and wrecked everything. I’m trying not to do that specifically.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Not an ESL but worked with a lot of non native speakers. I’d add: Be aware that body language and gestures may be totally different. I’ve one former coworker whose headshaking were reverse meaning of american. It was the speed that conveyed yes or no more than the up/down yes or right/left no that americans do. So him shaking his head during a talk wasn’t a no it was an agreement much like a nod would be…

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      I remember years ago that my dad read an article about language use while the International Space Station was being set up. They trained people to learn the language of their coworkers & had them speak their own. It was difficult until they changed it up, so that the non-native speaker spoke the other person’s language. Because it’s easier for a native speaker to understand their own language spoken perhaps imperfectly than to understand a perfectly spoken (but not as familiar) language by a native speaker (who has all kinds of idioms, dialect terms, & speed on their side).

      Most of us have probably experienced this just in intro language classes, where you & your classmates all understand one another, but unless the teacher speaks very carefully, they might as well be speaking Martian sometimes. (And they’re trained in language education!)

    3. Hen in a Windstorm*

      Not English, but French – however, I assume it’s similar. I barely even get to practice my French in France because the native speakers hear how slowly I respond and just jump into English, which just means my French never gets better.

      When I went to Morocco, where everyone was an Arabic speaker first and French second, I had a much better time. We both hesitated the same amount and spoke at about the same pace, and they would let me take a few seconds to think of my response (I assume that’s what you mean by “give time after speaking”). So I’d say everything you’re doing sounds helpful. I assume they already know all the necessary work-related vocabulary.

      1. allathian*

        Added to that, the French norm is cooperative overlap, so that they show interest in the other person and what they’re saying by interrupting them. I’m Finnish, and interrupting someone else’s considered very rude here, generally only socially acceptable with people who themselves are being rude by hogging the conversation. The ideal is to wait until the other person’s done speaking and gives you the opportunity to speak.

        My French was pretty fluent when I went to France as an exchange student. This was in the 90s, so all classes and exams were in French, talk about immersion… But I only felt truly accepted by my French coursemates when I adopted the cooperative overlap. The first time I did it, I had half a dozen French students staring at me, until the conversation moved on. Most of the other exchange students mainly hung out with each other, but I had lots of French friends. One of them said that one reason for that was that she could speak to me in the same way she spoke to other French people, and that’s probably the loveliest compliment I’ve ever been paid. I still had an accent, but because I was so fluent, some people guessed I was Swiss or Belgian.

        I also volunteered as a foreign exchange student tutor both before and after my stay in France. There was a Scottish guy who spent a lot of time with me, and he said that was because I could understand his accent, unlike most of the other ESL students. I quipped that at least he could take exams in his first language.

    4. Alice*

      I was an ESL teacher and I worked abroad where I had good, but not fluent, knowledge of the local languages. What helped me (in both directions) was not so much a slower speed but rater lots of pauses in appropriate places.

        1. Alice*

          Usual conversational pauses :)
          When I am listening in a language I don’t know well
          A big part of the challenge
          Is figuring out
          In real time
          Which parts go together

          If the speed is slow and uniform
          I will have an easier time transcribing it

          But if the speech is slow
          (Or, honestly, normal pace)
          With pauses
          I can parse phrases

    5. Mill Miker*

      I’m not ESL, but I have learned the hard way that sometimes domain-specific jargon is better than plain english if the person you’re talking to has learned english mostly for work.

      1. Agnes*

        Yes, the temptation is sometimes to use less formal language (it seems easier), but there are often more cognates with more formal words.

    6. RussianInTexas*

      Use fewer references to “common knowledge” things like American sports, pop culture, especially older one, from the 1990s and 1980s, idioms, etc.
      I’ve had quite a few instances of looking blankly at someone who used “hit it out of the park” (hit what? what is park got to do with this?)” or “Houston, we have a problem”.
      It takes YEARS to become immerse in this stuff.

    7. Educator*

      Former ESL teacher here! You have some good ideas. A few other possibilities:

      When I was working with students, I would try to imagine the most literal possible interpretation of what I was saying, because that is how some language learners might understand it. English is a language of very strange idioms and illogical structures. If I accidentally said something that might not make sense to my listener, I would just casually rephrase it in a different way, i.e. “Ok, I’m going to sign off now. [internal moment of realization] I am going to end this call and work on something else.”

      If you are able to in the moment, try to speak in grammatically correct sentences. It really helps to have all the parts of speech in the right place. Native speakers mess with word and clause order all the time, even omitting key words, and it’s ok because we all know what we mean. But a sentence that might sound natural to our ears, like “think I’ll run in for peppers at Whole Foods after work for this stir fry” is actually a nightmare to diagram.

      Keep an eye out for cultural differences as well as linguistic ones. Folks from the U.S., for example, are way more loud and casual than a lot of other cultures, and that can be really off-putting for people trying to talk to them.

      Especially in the training context, ask your newer hires what would be helpful to them! For example, many language learners have a preference for written or verbal instructions. They know best what they need.

      1. Jasnah*

        Translator here, seconding this. Remember the most literal meaning of a phrase and try to avoid idioms and slang. Word combinations with prepositional phrases can be really tricky for non-native speakers (ex. sit up vs. sit down is understandable, but what about think up vs. think over? Write off vs. write up vs. write down?)

        Usually when English speakers think about “speaking simply”, we think short words that native-speaking children learn early. But depending on your team’s background, they may be more familiar with written academic English and prefer Latin-root, one-meaning words. So simple directions for an English-speaking child might be “could you hand me that glass tube right there?” but your team might prefer “please give me that pipette.”

  50. Colette*

    So I’m ready to change jobs. I know where I’d like to transfer internally – it’s the division I used to work in, so I have contacts there, although I don’t know what positions they have. I like the organizaiton I work for for the most part, and the people are great.


    We officially have to be in the office 2 days a week, and I’m not going to do that.

    So … do I reach out to my contacts or just look externally?

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Just look externally, as coming in two days a week is a dealbreaker for you and that’s your organizations policy. Changing departments doesn’t change that, based on what you wrote.

      1. Colette*

        That is probably the right option – but there is a difference between what is supposed to be happening and what is happening, and I don’t know how that is going to resolve.

    2. Rosemary*

      Does your organization “officially” require 2 days in the office, but “unofficially”/in practice it vary by division? If so, reach out to your contacts and find out the practice in their division. If your company truly requires everyone to be in the office 2 days a week, no exception, regardless of division…then it sounds like looking externally is your best bet if you are truly not willing to work in the office 2x/week.

      1. Colette*

        Officially they require it, unofficially a substantial number of people aren’t doing it – in part because there is physically not enough space for the number of people. But it’s not division by division – it’s less organized than that.

  51. bossben*

    Work is getting really insanely busy. My company has multiple changes coming and lots of expectations rolling down from corporate that are going to stretch us very thin. I’m a manager of people and I’m really feeling the pressure and I know my team is. I tend to wear my emotions on my sleeve and honestly it’s exhausting for me, but I also want support my team with a more calm/supportive leadership. How do you manage to stay calm in times of craziness as work? Any recommendations?

    1. SofiaDeo*

      I insisted staff generally take their scheduled breaks and lunch. Occasionally, missing a break or eating through/skipping lunch *if* it was truly urgent. I was in patient care at this point, so this sometimes occurred. But other than those rare instances, taking the breaks/lunch to help prevent burnout. Is it life or death? Or the software will close out a legally mandated document at a certain time/date? If not, it can wait 15 min-1/2 hour.

      1. SofiaDeo*

        P.S. And I generally insisted they physically leave their work station, when possible. Get up, move, stop staring at the screen, go to the break room, step outside. You can’t sit in front of your computer “taking a break” when you’ve already spent hours in front of it IMO. Unless there was a physical limitation (I did have several folk with mobility problems; they could pull out a book or newspaper, or write, but not use the computer. Hospital policy was “no non work use” so this wasn’t unreasonable.) Funny, people didn’t have as many carpal tunnel and other problems as some other departments with heavy data entry, I wonder why lolol.

    2. Colette*

      I think you have to think of yourself as a barricade, and stop the chaos and stress from hitting your team. You can feel how you feel; that’s for you to handle, not your team.

      That means leading by example – for example, taking a walk at lunch, leaving on time, making sure everyone has a reasonable workload, speaking up for your team to your management.

    3. Alternative Person*

      Staying organized is key for me. I maintain a list of tasks I have for the day in my diary and I stick to it as much as reasonably possible.

      I also work somewhat backwards. I spent time these past couple of weeks putting key dates for this year in my diary, noting when I need to have capacity for certain projects and work items. Then I’ve been adding in smaller tasks and planning out the completion of more immediate work.

      I’ve also found it important to remember that sometimes things will get stressful. It happened to me on the final day last year when weeks of preparation for an event went sideways due to absences. I had the initial few minutes of panic. But, when I started dealing with the issue, because I’d planned everything on my end in advance, it was super easy for staff to step in and do the things while I was dealing with the knock on effects of the absences.

  52. DivergentStitches*

    I did a full face of makeup for a video interview and then my camera wouldn’t work =\

    But on the bright side, I’m in a great position to be looking for work. I’m gainfully employed and at no risk of losing my job, am just looking for more $. Finding lots of opportunities out there, and have had a good bit of interest. Hopefully some offers soon.

  53. Temp Hopefully to Perm*

    I have some questions for anyone familiar with internal career portals!

    I have been working for “Hospital Staffing” a sister company to “City Hospital System” that provides them with temp and contract-based labor. I have worked enough hours as a temp that I can apply to permanent jobs with “City Hospital System” as an internal candidate. I started doing that this week. The internal career portal has a profile on me that came pre-populated with information gleaned from my original resume submitted to “Hospital Staffing” that gets included with every job application, which I can (and have) updated. I can also upload a resume and cover letter with each application, and those get attached to my profile too–there’s a section of previously uploaded documents. My questions are:

    1. Should I be creating a new resume and cover letter tailored to each job and have them all attached to my profile? Or should I be trying to create one general resume/cover letter?

    2. On my profile page, there’s sections where I state short-term and long-term career goals and write a profile statement for myself. I’ve honestly really enjoyed some of my temp assignments at “City Hospital” and want to land a similar job that’s stable and permanent. Does it look like I’m “sucking up” or something negative like that if I make wanting to join “City Hospital” as a permanent employee my goal and part of my profile?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      She wasn’t internal, but my most recent hire was very clear in her application materials and interview that one of her career goals, in getting into our field, was that she wanted to get to a point where she was able to be a medical coder specifically for my hospital system, because of our reputation as an organization and the range of services, patient types, etc that we serve. The fact that she was excited about us specifically, rather than just wanting a job, AND that she could further speak to specific reasons she was excited about the idea of working for us specifically, were both fairly strong points in her favor.

      1. Temp Hopefully to Perm*

        That’s really good to know! I’ve done multiple assignments at one of the hospitals in the system “Uptown City Hospital,” and I’ve made some really positive connections with some of the employees there and just generally liked the environment. I’m really hoping to find a permanent job at that specific location. In the longer term, I’ve become close to some nurse co-workers (I’m a secretary) and they’ve inspired me to seriously consider going back to school to become an RN or another clinical role. I wasn’t sure if those things were good to mention or not!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Good luck! When I first got into my medical administration career, I started out on a six month contract through a “Hospital Staffing” type agency, ended up spending 8 years at that City Hospital before I moved cross-country, and now almost 20 years later, here I am! :)

    2. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

      For Q1, I think that depends on how robust your portal is. I know where I work uploading multiple resumes could potentially get completely garbled. Your in-house tech team can answer that for you.

      For Q2, yes! Mention! You’re already AT “City Hospital” and you’re applying for a job. It’s not a negative to say you like working there and want to continue.

  54. Echo*

    If you tend to be a quiet, reflective person who is uncomfortable jumping into the fray in a rapidfire, back-and-forth conversation, and who prefers to have time to process and organize your thoughts before contributing an idea…what did your best managers do to make sure your contributions were heard?

    For context, I’m the opposite: I do my best creative thinking when I have friendly debate partners to pressure test my theories and poke holes. Now, I’m leading a project that will benefit from lots of creative, collaborative brainstorming, and I want to be really thoughtful about my leadership and give everyone an equal chance to participate, no matter what their communication style is.

    1. Anna K*

      Ooh, good question, and so glad to have a manager asking it! As someone who definitely appreciates having extra time to gather my thoughts, anything you can provide ahead of the conversations themselves is very much appreciated, even if it is just an agenda of the meeting or some rough notes of what you are hoping to discuss.

      I experience a lot of people who want to keep that information until they can present it in person, but I get much more out of it if I’ve had a chance to review and formulate my thoughts and any questions in advance. I’m more likely to be able to step forward in the back-and-forth conversation, then.

      My company is also now mostly remote, and Teams meetings have actually been more productive – people who can’t break into the vocal discussion, can now type their thoughts into the chat on the side. If it’s possible to allow written contributions, that can be hugely helpful, too.

    2. Seahorse*

      It helps if I have an agenda and relevant information ahead of meeting or discussion. Then I can prepare on my own time and come up with relevant questions or ideas.

      It’s also helpful if other people don’t constantly dominate the conversation. If I have to fight to be heard, I won’t say anything at all. That means the facilitator needs to gently shut down someone who won’t stop talking, and also not feel compelled to immediately jump in if there’s a moment’s break in the talking. Those natural pauses are great for processing, and it’s otherwise difficult to me to pay close attention to others speaking while also formulating my own ideas.

      While I don’t love being put on the spot, a general shout out for anyone who hasn’t spoken up (or spoken as much) to weigh in can be effective too.

      1. No creative name yet*

        I love this question too!A few thoughts, in addition to having an agenda/discussion questions in advance.

        Is it possible to do any brainstorming activity that allows everyone to contribute non-verbally, at least at first? I’m thinking like a whiteboard where people can post sticky notes with ideas (or a virtual equivalent). I’ve found that even if it’s just a warm-up activity, it makes it easier to contribute to the conversation because I can get my thoughts going before the discussion begins.

        Another thing that I’ve found helpful is having follow-up conversations (one-on-one or with the group), as I’ll often figure out my thoughts after the meeting and then it feels too late.

        I’ve found it’s NOT helpful to be put on the spot during the meeting (for me at least, I just freeze up!). I know the intention is often well-meaning, but doesn’t often help.

        I do recommend allowing some silence if people aren’t jumping in immediately. (I know verbal processors often feel very uncomfortable with silence, but it can help to try to wait a few extra seconds!)

        I think the fact that you’re trying will be hugely helpful.

    3. Brownie*

      Seconding the explicit shout out time when others have been dominating the conversation. If my ranting coworker uses up all the meeting time and I can’t say anything because there’s no natural pause or he talks over me then I shut down and stop participating at all. Not just with the meeting, but with the entire topic eventually, because I don’t feel as if anyone cares about my input. Sadly my boss has been unable or unwilling to confront ranting coworker (gentle reminders don’t work on RC, he talks over them) so I’ve now completely disengaged from the project. If my boss had the ability to lead meetings and wasn’t so non-confrontational several projects would be in better shape than they are as other team members have messaged me privately about being in the same position as I am of one or two people utterly dominating the conversations. Strangely enough I get a lot of after-the-meeting pings from folks who want to know what I think, specifically because they want an analysis taking into account everything that happened in the meeting as a total sum and held up against all of the other non-meeting data instead of the moment-by-moment “ooo shiny new idea!” that was being discussed in the meeting.

      One thing to very much watch out for is the quiet reflective person is often times the one saying that something won’t work because they’re over on the sidelines connecting dots from documents or other meetings instead of being caught up in the back and forth of ideas on the playing field. That can easily cause them to be labeled as killjoys or as having a negative attitude by others which leads to folks deliberately excluding them from ideas debate by talking over them or not giving them shout outs to allow them to talk and now we’re back to the quiet reflective ceasing to care about the project or people involved because they feel excluded. It’s so important to realize that someone quietly saying “hey, this won’t work because of ” is a help and not a hindrance to debate because it allows a pivot away from an unworkable idea to a more probable one.

    4. Jinni*

      Maybe circle back with the quiet/reflective folks later and ask them what they thought of the meeting – but not with any tsk tsking for not being chatty during the meeting.

  55. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I got laid off this week. It wasn’t my first time going through corporate layoffs but it was the first time I got the boot and I am GUTTED. The way they did it was pretty brutal– I had my regular meeting with my manager, went into the meeting (all virtual, we’re all remote) and HR popped up. She was great, very professional, but she also had to deliver the news that all of my access would be cut off that day and she didn’t know when. I ended up with about 90 minutes to tell people– I couldn’t think straight enough to contact clients or cancel external meetings. It was awful.

    The worst? My boss, whom I cannot stand, was so upset that when the HR rep finished her spiel, he LEFT THE MEETING. She actually said, “OK, I’m going to leave now and let you two talk” and he hung up. Because HE was having such a hard time. I had to beg him to speak to me. I did not need his tears, I had to deal with my own. Upset? Sure, fine. But dude, do your job and talk to me.

    Despite that, I am 1000% certain that the decision to let me go did not come from direct management. My reviews have been great, I’ve met my goals, I get good feedback from clients, and my departure leaves a TON of extra work that I know my boss does not want to do. I have over 100 clients, all active, in several major markets. I had about 10 open issues with clients that I was working on when I was axed. It’s a mess. I was a line item.

    I’m sad, I’m angry, I’m confused… everyone I was able to talk to was shocked. Why me and not the newest hires, including the ones who weren’t doing well? (Not that I want anyone to get laid off, mind you.) They also laid off three other people in my division– it’s like they said, “We have to get rid of one person at each of these levels, here you go.”

    I have severance, I will have health insurance, and I’m in a good position– plenty of savings and a partner with a good job. I also have lots of connections and prospects. But I loved the company and I wanted this to be my year of figuring out my future there, and of course that’s all gone.

    I will also say that working from home full-time made this so much worse. I can’t avoid my home office, and when I went in yesterday to take apart my workstation I just wept. It’s so hard to walk in there. I have been crying intermittently since it happened. I am so fortunate to have wonderful friends who dropped off cookies and took me out, and my partner is super supportive, but… MAN, this is hard.

    So now I have to figure out my next move. I’ve been in touch with one company I’ve spoken to and we’re talking next week– they really wanted to hire me last year but I wasn’t interested in moving. I’m also going to force myself to relax and just take some time. I have surgery scheduled for the end of next month, so I have decided that even if something comes along, I will basically stay unemployed until March at the earliest. I just hope it’s not a longer period of unemployment than it has to be.

    I guess I don’t have a question, but I just needed to vent, badly. My heart goes out to everyone who got laid off recently, this is absolutely horrible.

    1. Anna K*

      This really sucks – I’m so sorry! I got laid off in a much earlier recession, though it wasn’t quite as brutal as yours.

      My only advice is to keep doing what you are doing: cut yourself a ton of slack, know that this isn’t personal at all, and take the time and kindness to feel your feelings and then also explore doing some things that you couldn’t do when working. (I took a couple of weeks of mid-morning yoga classes followed by brunch, and it felt like sort of a mini-retirement.)

      In retrospect, it also made me much more empathetic to other people this happens to, and to really understand that it is just one of those things that happens sometimes.

    2. Lady_Lessa*

      Hugs and your favorite warm adult beverage.

      Having been laid off and the last time was a termination, I can sympathize

    3. SofiaDeo*

      It is extremely difficult to get fired, I am so sorry. I hope you never have to go through it again. It often has nothing to do with *you*, it’s beyond your control/some arbitrary thing. That doesn’t make it much easier to bear, but hopefully it’s some small comfort. In so e ways, I think it’s worse than if you did some extremely major mistake that was “we have to fire you ” (like, going onto Porn sites at work, and infecting the entire hospital network, and getting fired as a result), one can say “man I will never do that/think twice”. But toco e out of nowhere when you are a great employee? The Worst.

    4. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Man, I’m sending you all the compassion, hugs, pillow forts, tea or wine, puppies and kittens, and every kind thought everyone has ever had about you.

      So you have a safe and living place to feel bad in. Like crying while being hugged by someone who loves you.

    5. DomaneSL5*

      I am so sorry that this happened to you. This line really jumped out at me:

      “I will also say that working from home full-time made this so much worse. I can’t avoid my home office, and when I went in yesterday to take apart my workstation I just wept.”

      I was informed my position was being eliminated in June of 2020 and my last day would be in May of 2021. I was in banking. I was told I could take the rest of the day off when I was informed. I remember telling the HR person and my manager, “and do what.” It was the middle of COVID. Many of the social things I did was still closed down. They could have brought me into the office to do the layoff, but didn’t.

      I really think your situation is one of the downsides of WFH that nobody really thinks of. You really never leave your office since your home is your office.

      I hope you find something quickly.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Thank you! And hopefully something hybrid. :-) Oddly, I used to tell people that being full-time WFH was one of the things I decided to deal with because I wanted this job– I like being around people, I like commuting (within reason), I like having space between work and home. My partner also WFH full-time and it’s a lot.

  56. Yay! I’m a llama again!*

    Wednesdays question regarding giving people more sick pay raised a few questions for me, if anyone in the UK can help. I have excellent cover should I ever need it, so I never really think about it, but my husband gets three days. He had seven off for covid earlier last year, so lost 4 days pay. But should we have been able to claim Statutory Sick pay as per government website?

    1. HHD*

      Yes, ish. SSP is paid by your employer, and has some conditions (which are on the government website but include how many days you’re off for and your actual pay). If those are met and payment hasn’t been made as part of their payslip, then chase up with payroll/HR

    2. AnnaS*

      SSP starts on the forth day of work missed due to illness so I would say yes you could have claimed.

  57. Cat Lover*

    Keeping this short and sweet, but I am seriously job hunting after dabbling in some online searching a few months ago. I am very loyal to my current company, which I have been with for 3.5 years, but I am having a lot of frustration with upper management (despite being upper management myself). I have some days where I love my job and never want to leave, and some days where I want to rage quit. I also want to break into an adjacent section of my field (admin healthcare to clinical healthcare).

    I have multiple interviews, one offer I am waiting on from a FAANG company (not moving quickly at all). I have an on site interview at a hospital in 3 weeks, which I was hoping to get in earlier but all of their clinical managers are out.

    The hart part is I will have to take a paycut and I don’t think I can beat the benefits I have now, plus I have some travel coming up (which I have been very upfront about).

    I want to go through with all of the interviews and get some offers…. it’s hard because I don’t know if I’m going to take the leap. I think it should, but the pay cut is going to be hard to swallow.

  58. Type Writer (UK)*

    I have to do a lot of transcription for my master’s degree thesis, which is based around participant interviews. Does anyone have any tips?

    I haven’t learned to touch type (and am unlikely to within any useful sort of time scale) so my typing is mediocre at best. I’m planning to invest in a foot pedal and have been experimenting with voice recognition, but the free/cheap options available on a student budget seem to struggle if the interview recording isn’t 100% clear, especially if there are echoes in the room. I’m interviewing people in their own homes, so there is a limit to how much I can control the environment.

    I realise that transcription just takes time, but I don’t have all that much time to devote to it! Interviews are generally 1-2 hours apiece and I need a substantial volume of them (sociological/cultural-type study) but only have a year to complete the degree.

    1. Ashley*

      If learning to type isn’t feasible, is paying someone who can type an option? Assuming confidentially isn’t an issue, maybe someone younger (ie cheap) who can fit it in with their school schedule?

    2. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

      The foot pedal will help (not having to take your hands off the keys is major) but the lack of typing skills will inevitably slow you down. I suggest learning to touch type even though it won’t help with this job now. Once you can do it, you will curse yourself for not learning sooner. It is truly a foundation skill you will appreciate.

    3. I exist*

      Can you set the voice recognition to go without your attention, and then go back to the bad transcription and fix the mistakes? As long as it isn’t too bad, this should be faster. You could probably play the recording at a higher speed as you read through looking for errors.

    4. Madeleine Matilda*

      I’m assuming you are transcribing audio or video. If so try using the voice to text feature in Word to transcribe. Open the interview and open a Word document. Play the interview and start the voice to text in Word. Word will type what is said in the interview. You will need to edit the document as voice to text is imperfect but it does work.

    5. Alice*

      Be careful re participant privacy when it comes to transcription services. Your PI or advisor should be able to tell you what your options are.

    6. Qwerty*

      Have these interviews already been recorded? Zoom has an option to create a transcript, but I think you have to have that enabled before you record the meeting (this may only be on the pro account, it’s been a while since I used it). You’ll still probably need to go over the transcriptions and correct it but it’ll get you 90% of the way there.

      1. Reba*

        Yes, if hiring someone is out of the question I was going to suggest using some kind of auto-transcripting to generate rough ones that you then correct.

        Also, consider flagging/coding your interviews first (on listen and using your interview notes) and then only fully transcribing the most important parts — if that would be suitable to your study.

    7. L. Ron Jeremy*

      Give yourself a 5 minute stretch break every 20 to 30 minutes. That way you’ll be able to keep typing longer and feel refreshed.

    8. Sydney Bristow*

      I did some interviews for an article I was writing and saved me. It’s really got at doing it electronically and you can fix the misheard words. Seriously.

      1. Glazed Donut*

        Another vote for! Great app, easy to use, and transcriptions are pretty good. Can tell the difference between voices. I used it for research interviews.

    9. Claire*

      As someone who deals with transcriptions of audio files all the time in my job, I’m actually going to disagree with the suggestions to start with an automated transcript and edit from there. I mean, depending on your needs, it might be worth a try. Particularly if you just need to be able to hone in on and pull out short segments of an hour-long interview and don’t need the full thing to be polished and publishable, automated transcripts with a small amount of cleanup might be sufficient. A couple of people above recommended, and while I haven’t used it a lot, I’ve tested it a couple times with some personal dictation projects and it’s okay, so I’d probably start there.

      But if you need something fairly polished, my experience has been that trying to start from something automatically generated and clean it up (even just adding proper capitalization and punctuation, and making sure that it’s all correct) basically takes almost as long as just typing the transcript out from scratch, and is far more aggravating. And that goes double if there are quality issues or specialized jargon.

      If it helps, I’m not a super fast typist (or perfect touch typist!) either. You may not be an ideal “all fingers on the home row” touch typist, but I assume you get along reasonably well, and no matter how you type, you’ll get faster as you go along. (But as someone else said, make sure you take breaks, rest your fingers, maybe look up hand stretches?)

      Most of my experience in typing up transcripts from scratch is creating YouTube video captions. There’s an option to have the video automatically pause when you start typing and then a couple of keyboard shortcuts to restart the audio and I think go back a couple of seconds, and I’m pretty much able to use those to get into a rhythm where I listen, type a few words, restart the audio, type the next couple of words, and move through reasonably quickly. I’ve never used a foot pedal, but I know a lot of people who do a good volume of transcription work do, so that seems like a good option.

    10. linger*

      It very much depends on how much of the audio really needs to be transcribed, and with what level of accuracy. You need to decide in advance what your transcription conventions need to be for your research purposes, and also what additional detail might be necessary for followup research, compared to the amount of time you have available.
      A first pass is simply to listen through (at 1.5 speed) and index the main topics / relevant responses in each recording, with timestamps, so that you can quickly identify which parts of which recordings most urgently need transcription. (In an ideal world, this should have been done at the time of recording!)
      Accurate transcription will often take several passes. When compiling a spoken corpus some years ago, we found that transcribing natural conversations exactly (identifying every wordform and including codes for hesitation markers, laughter, etc) took us about 20 minutes in total for each minute of speech. That was entirely manual work, from audio cassettes; it’s faster working from audio files, and you might not need all that detail, but you should still budget at least 5 minutes work per minute of audio. Typing speed was not really the limiting factor for us, so much as error-checking, which forced 1-2 additional listening passes.

  59. CorgiDoc*

    After a 6-month-long, very demoralizing job search, my partner, who works in software development, found a new job that doubled his salary, had great coworkers and management (unlike his previous employer) that he was very happy with. That was 6 months ago. Last week he was laid off from the new job he loved and now has to start over again. I can see that he is really struggling with the thought of having to do a job search all over again and is taking the whole thing very personally. He keeps referring to himself as “unemployable” instead of “unemployed”, despite my assurances to the contrary. To make matters more complicated, I have just signed a contract (to start in 6 months) with a company in the US (we are Canadian), so he is focusing his job search on companies that might sponsor his visa, making the search all the more difficult.

    Does anyone have any suggestions on how to support him through his job search and try to help him take the whole situation less personally? I am really struggling with walking the line of being supportive without being overbearing and also remembering that this is a loss that is still fresh that he is grieving from and allowing him the space to process those emotions in his own way.

    On a related note – any suggestions on finding a job in the US as a Canadian to get visa sponsorship? What have other trailing spouses been able to do?

    1. RussianInTexas*

      It’s a lot easier for a Canadian person to get a work visa than for a non-NAFTA citizen, I believe.
      The city I live in bursts with Canadians in the oil business.

  60. Cat Lover2*

    Keeping this short and sweet, but I am seriously job hunting after dabbling in some online searching a few months ago. I am very loyal to my current company, which I have been with for 3.5 years, but I am having a lot of frustration with upper management (despite being upper management myself). I have some days where I love my job and never want to leave, and some days where I want to rage quit. I also want to break into an adjacent section of my field (admin healthcare to clinical healthcare).

    I have multiple interviews, one offer I am waiting on from a FAANG company (not moving quickly at all). I have an on site interview at a hospital in 3 weeks, which I was hoping to get in earlier but all of their clinical managers are out.

    The hart part is I will have to take a paycut and I don’t think I can beat the benefits I have now, plus I have some travel coming up (which I have been very upfront about).

    I want to go through with all of the interviews and get some offers…. it’s hard because I don’t know if I’m going to take the leap. I think it should, but the pay cut is going to be hard to swallow.

    1. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      Do the interviews,.and see how they go – just having options may well make you feel better about the situation plus maybe you’ll learn something about how to leverage yourself for better pay. Ultimately if you can afford it, it’s best to get out of a miserable job.

  61. Appreciative Peer*

    I asked one of my peers for help getting in touch with a very non-responsive customer that they also work with. Finally with their help I was able to get a response, and I really appreciate it! However now this peer seems to be trying to manage me, last night they sent an email directing me to do something, and I want to shut it down. (We are both managers with direct reports.)

    I was thinking of sending an email along the lines of:

    Hi Lee!

    Thanks again for your help getting a response from Jane Wabelwarth, I really appreciate it! However please don’t send me emails like this. If you’re worried I didn’t see an email, you can just forward it to me with a note along the lines of “wanted to make sure you saw this.”


    Is this too blunt? Any suggestions of effective language for this sort of thing?

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      For stuff like this, I would call “Lee” and say, hey I saw your email; I read it as telling me to do X. Is that what you meant? Let them respond. Then depending on their response, you can say, Ohhhh… I see, you actually meant blah blah even though it came across as giving me an order ha ha ha.
      It’s just so much easier to clear the air in a call.

    2. Violet*

      Depends what he was directing you to do. If he was directing you to do something that is actually your job, then I think you need to let this go. If he was directing you to do something that somebody else would do, then you should bring it up with him over a phone call. Definitely do not send that email. That will not go over well and that will just make it an ESH situation, in Reddit terms.

      Approach the phone call with an air of curiosity, not the defensive/hostile air that your email communicates.Take the approach of, “hmm, this is a weird request for me, why ever would you have sent such a thing?” Assume good intent. Then clarify how he should actually handle such needs.

  62. Rara Avis*

    I’ve been on a voluntary committee at work for a number of years. It had gotten really negative (lots of complaining and not a lot of ability to make any positive changes), some people had joined that have difficult personalities, and my workload has been overwhelming, so when I found out the meetings were scheduled at a time when I had a conflict, I used that as an excuse not to join this year. (I like and respect the leaders of the committee, and there is some slight risk of not looking good to bosses to drop out without a good reason.) However, they just told me they’re moving their meetings to a new day so people like me can participate. I told them not to make a change on my behalf, because I have to change my other commitment as well (this was true), but we have settled on different days and I could make the committee meetings now. But I don’t want to. The advice on AAM is almost always to be direct, but I feel like I have something to lose if I tell them I don’t want to be on the committee any more. I guess I’m the only one who can make the call if I go the meetings and resent it, continue to give little white lies and seem flaky, or tell them the real reason. Since these issues can sometimes seem clearer to people who aren’t down in the weeds, any advice?

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      I don’t see why you can’t say a version of the truth, which is, “I’m sorry, but I need to focus on my core workload.”

    2. Hen in a Windstorm*

      This sounds like it could be covered by “I’ve done my turn, my workload has ramped up, seems like the perfect time to transition out and let someone else have a chance to shine” approach.

  63. Junior UXer*

    What’s the job market been like for others?

    Any advice how to mange a toxic job + job search while desperately burnt out?

    I’ve been trying to escape a toxic job/industry and transition into UX. Of course, UX is super competitive right now. The UX bootcamp was brutal 100+ hr/wk for 6 months but they were really optimistic they’d place me in a good job. In the past two months, I was getting good activity before all the layoffs. Now I’m trying to balance my toxic job with my job search. And I’m so, so burnt out. I’ve developed a slew of health-related illnesses as a result of these long work weeks, including a 4″ bruise on my leg that hasn’t healed since May. Mentally I’m a mess! PTO and sick leave isn’t really an option. I asked for time off citing burn out, but I had to reschedule my one day off 21x times (I counted) before I got to actually take it.

    I’m channeling all my energy into my job search and wish this was going better!

  64. Other Alice*

    I just got a message from a recruiter on LinkedIn. It’s very generic, they’re hiring for X position with Y company, they’re interested in my profile, they’d like me to send my resume. I’m at a stage where I’m very happy where I am and I’d like to see at the very minimum a job description and salary range before I consider talking to a random recruiter. Can y’all help me come up with better phrasing? I’m sure Alison gave some advice to this regard in the past, but I’m currently sick with a cold and my brain is all mushy.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Hi Recruiter, That position does look intriguing. But before I send you my resume I’d like to know the salary range and see a job description. Thanks, Alice.

  65. Rogelio*

    Does anyone have experience with how long security clearances for the federal government actually take? I was just told that it could be 6 months to a year from now (!) but they “try to do it faster.” I can’t support myself on savings for that long so even though I accepted this job offer I’m going to apply for other stuff just in case.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Depends on the clearance level and the agency. I can only speak to DoD, not Energy, FBI, CIA, etc. If this is the first time you’ve gone through the process, you should definitely talk to the employer more frequently about what to expect. Have you filled out the SF-86 yet? If not, get it done ASAP.

      They may be able to grant you an interim clearance very quickly (like within weeks) that would allow you to at least do some of your job.

    2. Mockingjay*

      Yep, that’s about right, especially for a first-time clearance. Note that the previous administration cut investigative staff, so there is a backlog (my renewal during that period took 2 1/2 years!); however I’ve heard it’s not as bad now. Normally an interim clearance is issued during the process – they do quick reference and background checks – if there aren’t any big flags they’ll let you go to work. But whether an interim is allowed varies by Fed agency and program.

      1. Hen in a Windstorm*

        I heard they had finally cleared the backlog and it’s back to normal now. But yeah, normal can still take a long time if it’s your first one. When my husband worked for a Navy contractor back in 2016, I think it took over a year for him to get Secret clearance. But that just meant there was 1 part of the job he couldn’t do, and it was covered by someone else until he got cleared.

    3. Defense Contractor*

      Depends on the agency and level. I work for a defense contractor We’re right now seeing 8 – 12 weeks for a DoD secret, from the time the paperwork is submitted. Secret to Top Secret seems to take a bit longer, but not too much.

    4. Interplanet Janet*

      Very much depends on what security level you need. There’s a subreddit about it where people might be sharing more specifics (job series and levels, etc.)

      Mine took less than a month for a minimal suitability check as one data point!

    5. Fed for Life*

      Have you already resigned from your previous job? This advice may be too late, but generally it is best not to resign from a current job until the security clearance is done and you have your final offer in hand. Fed job offers can be withdrawn at any moment for any reason, particularly when you only have a tentative job offer in hand.

    6. Qwerty*

      It really depends on the backlog and your individual paperwork (how accurate it is, how many people they need to follow up, do they need to interview you). Sometimes you get interim clearance before full clearance comes through – which stage will this job let you start at? If you have a job, don’t resign yet.

      Most of my coworkers took close to a year to get their clearance but our job allowed us to start before clearance came through. I got mine in a couple months and was told that was a record. Any small discrepency can cause it to get extra scrutiny – a coworker wrote that he never went by a nickname despite having his bills as “Bob” instead of Robert so that flagged him for the FBI to dig deeper on.

      The more complete your paperwork and the less family/international travel/ trouble with the law you have, the easier it goes. I gave them Too Much Info because I was worried about getting in trouble. If you haven’t applied yet, start compiling your addresses and international travel dates from the last 10yrs and info on any friends who weren’t born as US citizens. Our younger employees (<30) usually got clearance faster just because there was less history to look into.

  66. Step Back*

    I have a phone interview early next week for a job that I’m not necessarily super excited about, but would be for more money and allow me to move back to my hometown (which I’ve been wanting to do for years), and would mean I could leave my current toxic workplace (which I am super excited about).

    One of the main things potentially holding me back right now is that this would kind of be a step back in my career as I’m a manager currently and this position is basically at the level of the people I currently manage and would have no direct reports. My current company is small and this new company is much bigger, so it may kind of be more lateral in reality. While I don’t love every aspect of management, I do really enjoy the mentorship aspect, and I value when my opinion is valued rather than being just kind of a cog. I’m considered an “expert” in my area and I’d be starting somewhat from scratch again. I’m not afraid of the challenge, and I like learning new things, and I think with the right company I could be happy in a non-managerial role.

    Any ideas for good questions to ask to try and get a sense of this? I don’t want to waste my time or the interviewers time with an in person if it’s not going to work. I don’t get a lot of PTO so taking time off to go for an in person is something I have to be aware of.

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      First, I think the things you’re thinking of are totally valid, but not things to bring up in the phone screening. The questions seem to boil down to, what are the pathways to advance to supervisor/manager level in NewOrg; are there opportunities to be a mentor to newer employees in the field from the moment you start? Those both to me sound like second interview qs you ask at the end, and definitely think about how to phrase the second question about mentoring so you don’t sound condescending/entitled. I don’t think you are, mind you, it just requires careful phrasing.

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        This was a great suggested question by @Lunch Eating Mid Manager, “Are there opportunities to be a mentor to newer employees in the field from the moment you start?”

        I suggest tweaking the first question to something more like, “Can you share a path of someone at this company that advanced from this role to a manager/supervisor within the company?”

        And I agree with the instinct that manager of small org -> non-manager at large org is more akin to a lateral move.

    2. Dragon*

      Since you’d be dealing with multiple changes if this works out, maybe not having management tasks would be ok to start? Then you’d have spare energy to also get reacquainted with your hometown, and to adjust to being out of a toxic environment.

      I’m thinking of someone I read about who went from being controller in a small firm, to being one of several staff accountants in a large firm. She was a recently divorced mother who chose the stability of a routine job in a big firm, over the seniority of a management job in a small firm.

  67. SansaStark*

    Do you have anyone at your current job who supervises you on something like on a particular project or ongoing task? Obviously it would need to be someone you trusted not to tell your current boss, but that might work? Would you feel comfortable going back to the company and asking if they’re able to work with you a little on who would qualify as a supervisor? I’d go in with a couple of people in mind – people who are higher than you in seniority and/or title who can speak to the quality of your work. Maybe a project manager or the person who oversees a certain task or project?

  68. Niniel*

    Has anyone had any luck with asking bosses to help accommodate your working style? Specifically the Boomer Butt-in-seat mentality bosses?

    Basically, I like a lot of my job and working for my company. They are very accommodating to families, and relatively flexible when it comes to parents’ needs to pick up kids last minute and such. I work in a niche field in my large city, and hearing from others in my field, my company is the best place to work for several reasons. It’s relatively low-stress, and the owner AKA my boss is affable, and we have dozens of employees who have been working here for anywhere from 10 to 50 years.

    The things I don’t like: deadlines are rare, my boss doesn’t like to tell me what to prioritize so things are either due ASAP or I can work on them *whenever* until they suddenly go into the ASAP category. I don’t have as much flexibility to WFH as I would like. My boss loves to walk over any time to discuss things, or call via the in-office phone or intercom. He struggles calling via cell phone to discuss work things. I can WFH if I absolutely NEED to but he does not seem open to a regular WFH schedule. My brain really thrives on deadlines plus the ability to work whenever/wherever to complete work, in whatever time it takes. College is where I thrived because that is exactly what the setup is.

    I want to ask for more check-ins/deadlines and more steady WFH days. Has anyone had any luck phrasing a similar request to a boss like mine, with any success? If so, what keywords did you use?

    1. Sabine the Very Mean*

      This is wild because I came here for help with my boss who seems to be your boss. He can’t quite explain why he doesn’t like WFH and insists on 2 days in the office even if there are no meetings or group work or anything. I finally realized it is because he can’t work without a mate there. He needs someone to dream at anytime the mood strikes him. He doesn’t like talking on the phone or using Zoom so he thinks nothing of asking me to come in just to talk in his office for 30 mins. So finally I decided that if I’m going to come into the office, I’m going to take back my time. I cannot work with the constant threat of boss coming in to dream at me. I get nothing done and spend my evenings getting my work done I couldn’t do with him looming outside my door. I keep my headphones on and very pointedly remove one when he comes in asking to “brainstorm together”. I can tell he’s disappointed that I’m not turning out to be his little buddy he’d hoped I’d be and has sort of stopped coming in on rare days I come into the office. He now will ask if I can spare 30 mins of my day for a chat later. Not ideal but I’m getting there with him. There’s just something about the power dynamic that makes bosses like ours seem discourteous and rude and I think they need to do better to ensure we can work how we need to.

    2. Hen in a Windstorm*

      I think instead of asking him to set deadlines, you need to set them yourself so that they get done. College is where other people set deadlines for you. But you’re a working professional now.

      You could still set your own deadlines, but then try to suss out hidden priorities by following up with boss, “Okay, my plan is to finish the Brenex project by end of January, then start on the Frujon report. Does that sound good to you?” Which might prompt him to say “Oh, no, Frujon needs to be done end of next week.”

      I also think you might have the idea that because you prefer to work “whenever/wherever” that you need it, but that’s frankly a recipe for burning out and never having a personal life. Even if you did WFH, you should turn the computer off at 5pm. Try getting used to the structure and give it a chance instead of thinking you need to change your boss.

      RE the desk phone… for years, when I worked from home I set my desk phone to auto-forward to my cell phone the night before WFH and then turn off the forwarding the morning I was back in the office. (This was company policy.) Your boss doesn’t need to use his cell, so if that’s the only concern, you might be able to address it.

      1. Niniel*

        Thank you! I love the idea of setting deadlines and then going over them with him to see what he thinks. I am not good at being accountable to my own deadlines – never have been. But telling him will reverse engineer that.

        I get what you’re saying about turning off the computer at 5 pm. I am never one to overwork myself. I meant more in the sense of “so I have to finish 5 garments by Friday. I get them done by Wednesday so I can maybe take a half day Thursday or a full day Friday to rest up as a reward.” Or work the hours I am most awake: 10-4 and include a lunch break.

        The desk phone forwarding is a good idea. I’ll have to look and see if it’s not too much of a hassle to set that up for WFH purposes.

  69. focusficus*

    Any suggestions for things I can do in an office during a meeting (Teams from my desk) to help me pay attention? I’m struggling to find stuff that doesn’t immediately scream “goofing off.” In an ideal world I would knit, cross stitch, doodle, or play a simple visual phone or computer game like Snake. Fidget toys help a little, but not much, and they’re tough to make appropriate for the office. Some of my work can be done while on meetings, but I don’t have nearly enough of that type of work to occupy them all.

    I’m considering trying to take more of my meetings from home because the reality is just that I pay attention so much better when I’m occupying my hands. If I don’t have anything to do, I end up reading AAM or news, and then I’m completely tuned out of the meeting. It’s so ironic that looking like I’m paying attention and actually paying attention have an inverse relationship. (and yes I’m pursuing evaluation for adhd but that’s an entire other ball of wax :/ )

    1. Hlao-roo*

      My suggestion is to get a notebook and a pencil or pen (whatever you prefer). Take notes and doodle in whatever proportion works best for you. Your hands will be busy in a way that looks like you’re paying attention and (hopefully) in a way that will allow you to actually pay attention (vs. reading AAM or news online).

      1. focusficus*

        This is a good idea, I think developing a visual note-taking style is something to work on too. Thanks!

      2. Filosofickle*

        When I do this, I intentionally flip my pen up and make eye contact once in awhile so it looks like taking notes and not just looking away.

    2. cranes*

      I fold origami cranes while on zoom. Only way I can stay focused. Once you know how to fold them well, you can do a lot by feel and don’t have to look down so much. I can make ~10 per hour during a boring meeting. I number them so I can keep track of my total. I toss them in a box after the meeting and I have a visual sense of how dull my meetings have been lately.

      Doodling is my 2nd go to. I do this in in-person meetings where a pile of cranes would be super strange and on phone calls where I only have one hand free.

    3. Girasol*

      Online solitaire games. My mind wanders in a long boring meeting but a game of solitaire takes up enough mental cycles to slow my mind down to meeting speed without distracting me entirely. (If you try it be sure that any sounds are silenced.)

      1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

        I second solitaire! It’s just enough to keep my hands busy and give me something to look at while still paying attention to the meeting. If I just stare at the talking heads soon enough I’m clicking over to read articles on other websites and that takes my attention off the meeting.

    4. Qwerty*

      I play with my rubik’s cube. Some moves are more of a rapid muscle-memory sequence, so it satisfies my brain in way that fidget toys don’t. Can generally be don’t out of camera view if needed.

      By play with, I don’t mean solve. It starts out solved, and then by the end of my fidgeting it is properly mixed up so I can solve it real quick as a post-meeting activity to reset my brain into “back to work” mode

    5. Alisha*

      I make grocery lists, non-work to-do lists, clean up my Outlook and Gmail, and other minor tasks that move things forward.

  70. Alliesaurus*

    What is your advice about allowing yourself to feel okay about turning down a role?

    I applied to a job that seemed like a great fit for my experiences, and I really liked the people and the description of the job. I had a few hesitancies about the number of role responsibilities (it’s supposedly 35% one role and 65% another) but was definitely still interested in pursuing the process further.

    Well, I went in person yesterday and the office was definitely not one where I’d thrive. No windows, super gloomy, hardly any staff in-office due to most being in the field. I just can’t see myself there longer than a week before I’d lose my mind. Plus, based on my conversation with the interviewer, it seems like the two portions of the role could be quite unevenly balanced depending on the season, and it seems like there’s potential for getting underwater if crunch time comes for both parts of the role at once (apparently, they were managed by 2 different employees previously, but 1 quit/1 retired and the company decided to combine them).

    The thing is, I’ve been job-hunting for months and this was the first application where I got beyond an initial phone interview, much less to the last round. I’m fairly certain I’m making the right choice not to take the job if it’s offered to me (but I am curious what the salary offer would be). But, while I *think* I’m okay with passing this up, part of me is terrified I’ll be making the wrong choice and not wanting to stay unemployed in the current job market. Any advice from those who have been in my shoes before?

    1. ferrina*

      I had one answer, then I got to the part where you are currently unemployed. In that case, it depends on your financial situation.

      Once I was financially comfortable, I felt so empowered the first time I turned down a role. You are making a smart long-term decision, and you are advocating for yourself. You’re not allowing yourself to be pulled into another form of unhappiness- you know yourself and what you are looking for, and you aren’t going to get swayed by things that won’t be healthy or happy. That is a valuable life skill (and one that I’m trying to get better at).

      But if you are financially unsteady, the risk calculous is different. It might be worth it to take the job while you continue to apply, or you might start the unhappy job and all applications stop (this is what tends to happen to me). So it’s about knowing yourself, knowing your finances, and thinking about how long you’ll be able to be unemployed. I’ve had to take crappy jobs so I could have a place to live. I’ve had friends that were able to move back to their parents’ place so they could focus on applying. Or maybe you’ve got a cushion and you’ll be fine! You know your situation best and what will be the best choice for you.

      1. Alliesaurus*

        Thank you for the reply! I appreciate the advice.

        Thankfully, I do currently have a financial cushion between severance and some savings. I could probably make it through the summer if I budget super carefully without having to take a job because I’m running out of funds.

        Part of my situation that I didn’t mention is that I have a lot of short stays on my resume thus far (for various reasons, some of which are out of my control like my last job being eliminated after almost a year of my being there). So I don’t really want to take a job that I’ll leave in a year or 2 if I can help it.

        1. Hen in a Windstorm*

          Well, you’re already looking, so if you got a 2nd offer, you’d just take that and leave the gloomy one off your resume. But what if another one doesn’t come along before August?

          I don’t want to be a downer, but my husband quit his job with nothing lined up in January 2019 because it was so toxic he developed anxiety. He is still unemployed. He’s applied to hundreds of jobs in 2 different cities He’s had several late stage interviews the last 6 months, but never an offer.

    2. MissGirl*

      I set a goal for myself to have 10 résumés out at a time (adjust this for yourself; I was job hunting full time). Every time I was rejected or I turned something down or it had been two weeks since I heard back, I sent out another résumé. This way I never had all my hope wrapped up in a single job. I was also at various stages of interviews so it was easier to know my priorities and my value.

      Being able to reject a job is a very empowering thing. It means when you do accept one, it’ll be out of choice and not desperation. You have power and have acted on that.

  71. GQueuser*

    Hello all! I work at a company with a task management app. I’m heading up a project where I’m going to be making some templates to help people picture how to organize their work. I’d also like these templates to be helpful in terms of their content.

    For example, a good onboarding experience makes such a big difference in a new employee’s success, and how they integrate into the team. I’d love to hear from folks about things that are not to be missed in an onboarding process! If you were onboarding someone onto your team, what needs to happen?

    1. Ashley*

      For people that work in person it is amazing how often new folks aren’t given a clean desk and told where to find office supplies like pens. Also makes sure they have all the programs they need installed and a way of creating accounts. Something else that is helpful is how to find frequent contacts for external contacts.

    2. ferrina*

      -Manager should gather training materials and set-up meetings with subject matter experts.
      -Manager should write a schedule of what the person should expect in their first couple weeks (this makes such a difference. People say that a schedule makes them feel like the company was prepared and excited to have them.
      -Manager should think about what they want to see the new hire accomplish in their first month, 3 months and year. Bear in mind that the first 1-3 months will be onboarding, so what can the manager reasonably expect?

      Upon starting:
      -Get them a schedule on their first day so they know what to expect when.
      -Give them a list of who to consult about which software. Our company had 4 main people that own different softwares, so tell them who to talk to about which software.
      -A welcome call. 1st day, just to say hi, here’s what’s happening, here’s who to reach out to with questions. This can segue into the first onboarding session.
      -Manager shares the training materials and expectations that they prepared.
      -An introduction to the team. Here’s who’s who, what they do and how that relates to your job, what they’re and expert in.
      -Tour of the office (if in person)
      -Tour of the shared drive and where they can find necessary documents or forms.
      -Forward all company/team meeting invites.
      -Regular check ins to see how the onboarding is going. Our company has a very well-planned onboarding so we have formal check ins at the first week, month, and three months. Informal check ins are weekly for the first month or two. We see how the onboarding is going, what questions they have, what further info/training would be useful. This catches any gaps early on.

      1. ferrina*

        I’m on the team that is developing this list for my company- hence the long list. I’ve got more, but these were the things that can translate to any role.

    3. StellaBella*

      How to use the scanner copier with their badge. How to book conference rooms. How to do expense claims, travel authorisations, and figure out travel related things like booking hotels and flights. How to use Teams/other software. How to navigate the internal intranet stuff. where supplies are. Who the tax people are to help with taxes, and the pension stuff, etc. How to organise outlook with rules. How to use our communal drive. How to book meetings incl Teams meetings.

    4. Diatryma*

      My work is more hands-on and training involves a lot of demonstration as different tasks come in.

      I try to tell people what I want them to retain from a given task or day– “The most important thing here is that we follow this list,” vs, “Follow this list, and do the next step here with these four sub-steps, and the next step with seven sub-steps, and each goes a different place.” But that’s training rather than onboarding, if there is a difference.

  72. YRH*

    A coworker is letting me borrow a lot of maternity clothes Ave newborn items. How do I adequately thank her?

    1. Alex*

      I think “Thank you so much!” along with returning all the items in good condition, washed and folded, as soon as you are done with them, is perfectly adequate. If anything gets ruined, pay for or replace it. Or if she doesn’t want them back, pass them along to someone and let her know you’ve paid it forward.

      Lending these things probably isn’t a huge sacrifice on her part, if she isn’t currently using them, so a full-on Thank You Parade probably isn’t necessary.

    2. HR Friend*

      You’re probably doing her a favor, getting that unused stuff out of her house! If I were her, I wouldn’t expect anything. But if you insist, maybe bake some cookies or treat her to lunch.

    3. ferrina*

      Offer to show her baby pictures. Some people will be delighted by this, some people will hate it (hence the asking to show pictures). Thank her again when you show her a picture with some clothes she gave you.

    4. Anxious Bee*

      A nice card goes a long way! It shows you care and it’s a sweet gesture without making a big deal.

  73. Sarra N. Dipity*

    I don’t know how to navigate my year-end review self-assessment when I’ve been performing significantly poorly in the past 6-8 months.

    I’ve been dealing with a lot of health challenges + depression + ADHD, all of which have severely impacted my performance. I have to do my self-assessment for my review; all I have is “I sucked a lot, and I’m sorry”. I don’t know what to do here – it’s the honest truth that things have been really intermittently bad this past year, and people have noticed. My 360 feedback is going to be pretty bad as well.

    Every time I think about sitting down and writing my assessment I just want to curl up in a corner and cry.

    If anyone has any helpful suggestions or encouragement, I would love to hear it. :(

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Do you have goals that you set at the beginning of last year/when you started your job (if you started in 2022)? I have had goals in all of my workplaces, so I’m going to base my answer on that.

      Take it one goal at a time. For example, goal one was “Sarra will groom 30 llamas this year.” Look back on your notes/tracking system/what have you. How many llamas did you groom this year? Write that down: “I groomed 24 llamas in 2022.” Stick to the bare facts at first. Take breaks in between goals if you need to. Things have been intermittently bad and I don’t want to downplay that, but you may feel better once you have all of your accomplishments written down because you’ll be able to see that between (or during) those bad periods, you still did accomplish some things, even if it wasn’t everything you set out to do at the beginning of the year.

    2. 1234ShutTheDoor*

      This is maybe not in the real spirit of work evaluations, but I always try and figure out what other people are going to say about me and aim just below that. It means that instead of my boss trying to tell me why I suck, they tell me “no, you’re doing better than you think you are!” Which is a fantastic way to start a conversation about how I am working to be better in certain areas and what I’ve been doing to achieve that goal, or alternatively why I need a raise.

    3. ferrina*

      First, evaluate how bad you’ve actually been. Sometimes we’re harder on ourselves than others are. Hlao-roo’s advice about referring back to your goals is really, really smart.

      If you truly did a terrible job, you can include the explanation. “I had a lot of unexpected health challenges.” Then, say how you are addressing the issues (i.e., the work impact of the health issues, not the health issues). So: “I’m currently cross-training Suzy on llama grooming so there is coverage if I am unexpectedly out” or “I’ve created process documents to help standardized and streamline the process in all scenarios” (between the lines: when you’re having a bad health day, you’ve made it easier to work through it).
      I’ve got ADHD, and when my symptoms flare, it’s a THING. I make process documents and checklists in self-defense, which has led to this weird phenomenon where people think I’m really organized, which buys me goodwill when my symptoms flare and I’m having trouble getting things done. (I don’t disclose that I’m ADHD, which probably helps).

      1. Sloanicota*

        I think you’ve got the right approach here. I am a grant writer for an organization that, while lovable, is terrible at achieving their goals or remembering what they were, sigh (they do other good stuff?). So my job is often to write a grant report for a project where we didn’t really accomplish what we hoped. In this case, the year is over and there’s nothing you can do to change it now; I’d focus on what you’ve learned / how you plan to approach it moving forward, plus any good accomplishments you did, even if they are different than what you hoped. So the llama example is, “I groomed 22 llamas and identified the bottleneck in processing new llamas. I have created a process to prioritize llamas by age so they can be groomed more quickly. This will allow me to groom at least 25 llamas next year.” Just me, but I disagree with 1234ShutTheDoor – I’m going to put the best spin on it and let other people tell me if they have a problem. I plead the fifth on self incrimination. Sometimes you skate more under the radar than you realize.

      2. Danish*

        Yes, this was my suggestion. It’s important to remember that the rest of your coworkers can’t see inside your head. Sure, you know (I say from deep experience) that you spent 90% of your project time not-doing-the-work and crapped it out at the last moment, or that you were “out sick” because you couldn’t roll out of bed, but your coworkers don’t know that unless you’ve told them.

    4. Hen in a Windstorm*

      I hear you’re feeling bad, but I think that might be preventing you from being objective. My hubby has ADD and anxiety, and I’m very familiar with the brain weasels that tell him he sucks and nothing is ever good enough. Like, you’re not on a PIP and you haven’t been fired, so I think you’re catastrophizing a bit.

      First step: stop predicting how bad things are going to be. Do not predict your 360 review. It doesn’t change anything about your self-assessment and it locks you up in the “I’m a bad person” spiral.

      So. Facts. If it’s the honest truth that things have been *intermittently* bad, then that means they have also been *intermittently* good. Stop focusing only on the bad and focus on the rest of the time. Also, it sounds like the first half of the year was normal.

      Do you keep a folder full of things you’ve collected through the year for your review? If not, start now and do it for all time.

      I keep a folder where I archive all emails that praise me or mention me doing something right/well/on-time, unusual requests, feedback from outside teams, etc. I also keep a Word doc with a running list of accomplishments for the year. For example, “Team X missed their deadline 10/23, which meant I only had 3 days instead of 5 to complete Project Z, but I still met my deadline.” Or, “Despite last minute change to add 524 new documents to planned 198, I was able to complete Task G 3 weeks late. Boss said, Thanks for putting in that overtime.” I then copy-paste directly into my review. And it’s been so helpful, because I barely remember last February, but I did something great back then and I documented it!

      You can still do this by going back through your calendar and refreshing your memory on projects and searching your email archive.

      I also think “I started the year strong, but had significant health challenges starting in June. This meant I didn’t perform as well as I would have liked the 2nd half of the year. Now that I have those issues under control, I’m excited to use 2023 to catch up/return to my old self/get back in the groove,” is a valid thing to include in your review.

      And finally, if this is hard, do it in 10 minute chunks until it’s done. You can do anything for 10 minutes, and the hardest part is getting started. Hugs!

  74. kiki*

    Any advice for how to kindly say, “that’s not my job at all.” And how to clarify with a lot of folks what my job is and is not?

    About 4 months ago I joined an organization in a role that had been unfilled for years. It is kind of an interdisciplinary role in tech. It seems like everyone at the company was eagerly waiting for this role to be filled and amped themselves up for my arrival. It’s nice to feel wanted! But I think in the years that the role has been unfilled, folks at the company convinced themselves that every single issue they’ve been having would be solved by me. I get a lot of messages from folks asking me to do things, that frankly, their own team should be handling. I’ve checked with my boss and he agrees that these things aren’t my responsibilities. People get really frustrated when I push back, though, especially when it turns out that *they* should actually be doing the task they tried to bring to me.

    Any tips or language to assist? What I’m currently using is variations of “X is actually a bit out of my purview in this role. According to our protocol, this is handled by Y team. I can assist in Q or X ways, but ultimately responsibility for this falls on Y.”

    1. RagingADHD*

      I think you can say the same thing in a bit friendlier it more casual way, like “Oh, actually you need to talk to Y about that. I handle Z.”

      Or if it’s their own stuff, maybe something like, “Oh, see, if it was Z I could take that over. But the X really belongs to you, and I’m not supposed to step on your toes.”

    2. Still*

      I think what you’re saying is great. People are gonna get frustrated and try to push back no matter what you say, unless it’s “sure, I’ll handle it for you”. Hold firm on the stuff that’s not your job and be enthusiastic and helpful about the stuff that is. People will learn eventually.

      It’s great that you have the support of your boss on this! It might be useful to check with him if he’s happy for you to throw him under the bus. “X is actually a bit out of my purview in this role, Boss really needs me to focus on Z.”

    3. Sabine the Very Mean*

      I agree that what you have already written here is just fine. You don’t need to try and manage their feelings about it. I find it even better to manage your body language when someone brings something to you (in person, obvi). Don’t lean in or move like you’re going to take their notes or look at what they’re trying to hand you. Don’t swivel in your chair but turn your head away from your work to answer their questions and then turn back. Repeat ad nauseam. When repeat offenders email you things that you’ve said are not your job, take longer to respond to them.

      I was once an ESL teacher in a school where everyone decided that I could interpret and translate all their classroom materials to the level that I would walk into my locked classroom to see papers shoved under my door with a simple, “Please translate”. I would wait for them to come fetch it and say, “I don’t do that and I don’t know who does and here’s your paper back”. Some people, man.

    4. Sloanicota*

      There’s something about the phrasing of ““X is actually a bit out of my purview in this role” that isn’t quite landing for me. Somehow to me it makes it sound like you could absolutely fix the issue, but just aren’t choosing to, or something. I think I’d prefer something like, “Actually I just talked to Cecil about these SF-24s, and he explained that they’re supposed to be handled by the staff lead, which in this case is Harold” – I guess that’s kind of passing the buck, but it makes it clearer to me.

      1. kiki*

        So, I think part of the issue is that I could technically do some of the things they’re asking– the person I’m talking to technically could too. It’ll be stuff like taking notes or drafting client comms. For drafting client comms, I *can* do it because I’m a competent writer, but is it actually my role? Not at all. Especially when the person asking me to do so is a manager in the department of Client Communications. I guess the struggle I’m having with your phrasing is that I don’t always know who should be handling something, just that it’s not me and more likely it is somebody in the department of the person who is asking me.

        1. Alisha*

          Yep. Relatedly, a major reason I left a former job was because co-workers in other departments would suggest a task or project for other people in different departments to accomplish, and managers would just let it happen. When I would say “You’ll have to talk with your boss, who will need to talk with my boss, because that isn’t something I should spend time on without approval from my boss,” I’d be regarded as “Alisha’s being mean again!” Just absolutely clueless and boundaryless. Co-workers who did fall into the trap of taking on tasks that didn’t belong to them usually craved constant approval and acceptance, burnout be damned.

          Hold those boundaries. Time on task is your boss’s territory, not your co-workers’. I mean, yeah, I can sort mail, but that doesn’t mean it’s what I get paid to do, unless my boss instructs otherwise.


    5. Qwerty*

      How’s your boss? Can she shoulder most of the burden for explaining to people what your job actually is?

      Because it sucks for you have to be the one disappointing people by saying “that’s not my job”. If people are getting that confused, she needs to proactively be reminding other teams what her department does. People are frustrated that they aren’t getting the role they wanted, and that frustration needs to get aimed at the decision maker (your boss, who determined your role) so it doesn’t land on you.

      I’m a little salty on this though, having recently been in a similar situation. Then I found out that my boss wasn’t being clear with the other teams, just telling each person what they wanted to hear. At one point we made a slide of “what we do” vs “what we don’t do” (boss was not a fan of that…the other managers appreciated it)

  75. HannahS*

    Parents and caregivers of young children: How do you manage your performance at work when you’re exhausted? My toddler doesn’t sleep well.* I’m so, so tired. I’m saving all my bandwidth to do the central function of my job, but I notice that I feel more frustrated and impatient with colleagues/managers than I usually would; it’s taking a LOT more effort than usual to be pleasant. I just received a lovely review at work so I know I’m not snapping right and left, but it’s taking a lot of effort. How did you manage you tiredness and its consequences?

    *I’m not looking for parenting advice. If you advise me to try co-sleeping/sleep-training/this book/this TikTok/supplements/this diet/routines, I will mail you a turd.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Generously apply Scritzy’s coke rule. If something upsets you take a set back go drink something before responding. (If it’s an in person interaction try just taking a 3 second pause to breath before responding).

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      I’m smack in the middle of the 4 month sleep regression so I feel you! I even wrote into last week’s open thread asking for similar advice.

      Is there something that would make your life at work easier? Maybe working from home more so you can skip your commute and squeeze in a nap over lunch? Perhaps coming in later so you can sleep in more? I have a long train ride so on days I have to go into the office I asked if I could come in later/leave earlier but work on the train during my commute. It’s not perfect and I’m still tired but getting an hour back on either end of my day helps a lot, and I’m still working the same hours.

      I’m sure you’ve tried all the standard “take a deep breath/step away/blah blah blah” advice, but at the end of the day this is all because you’re exhausted, so if you can help alleviate the exhaustion or find ways to make your day less taxing, that’s probably your best bet until kiddo decides to let you sleep.

      I’ll link to my comment from last week below this so you can see if any of the advice offered helps you, but the main comment seemed to be “yea it just sucks right now so be nice to yourself and don’t expect to be perfect, because you can’t and trying to live up to standard expectations in a non-standard situation will just drive you crazy”.

      Good luck!

    3. AnotherSarah*

      All my sympathies. I’d see about WFH as much as possible, getting a happy light, making sure you’re not slumping at your desk all day. I’ve learned the hard way that although I think that 5-minute walk will make me more tired, it often doesn’t.

      This too shall pass!

      1. Bunny Girl*

        Just another boost for the happy light. I was skeptical but willing to give it a try to help with my seasonal depression and I am thrilled at the results.

    4. ferrina*

      First, congrats on recognizing this is going on! Usually I’m too tired to realize how grumpy I’m being.

      Try building yourself breaks in the day. Block out “Focus Time”, which could be Focus on Not Screaming time (but to colleagues will be “I’m knee deep in projects and can’t be interrupted”). That might help you conserve your energy for more dedicated people times. Good luck!

    5. Amber Rose*

      But have you tried co-sleeping? (I’m sorry, couldn’t resist). In seriousness, what’s your breakfast situation? I find a decent meal first thing really boosts my energy levels.

    6. Ginger Baker*

      I snack a lot when I am super tired as it helps me to stay awake, and when chronically sleep deprived I try to remember that I may be more emotional/on edge than usual – it doesn’t keep me from losing it necessarily (say, crying when a friend did something VERY MILDLY upsetting) but does help me rein in my responses (recognizing I am reacting so strongly because of my own on-edge-edness and not because said friend is really being out of line in ANY way).

      Ymmv but sometimes those two help me get through. Oh, also sometimes catching a very quick nap in the office if I can find a hidden-ish place to nap.

      1. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

        Yes on snacking, specifically quality chocolate. It has a little caffeine and it makes you happy. The high-end stuff will make you feel happier than the vending machine stuff, nine times out of ten. This is temporary, and your review means you’re not actually a crabby zombie, you just feel like one.

      2. sleepless*

        I got through the worst period of sleeping by buying large quantities of chocolate and applying as necessary throughout the days and nights. (Nights aren’t really recommended, as my two cavities would testify, but I also didn’t throw my baby out a window so lesser of two evils and all. Same with weight gain – I felt that if I gained a few lbs during one of the most tiring periods of my life, I’d just be okay with it.)

    7. No Name Yet*

      So so hard! I like some of the ideas above, I found that making sure I had enough food and water (and caffeine) definitely made a positive difference.

      For me, the irritability/frustration tended to sneak up on me – once I recognized it was there in a situation, I could manage it okay, but I needed to actively notice it. I’m basically 100% on my computer, so I put a bright fluorescent post-it flag on the edge of my computer monitor, with the word “Remember” written on it. The idea is that if I was getting annoyed at the person on my screen, to remember that at least some of it was probably because I was just so tired. (Sometimes it was them, too! But not always.)

    8. fhqwhgads*

      Oh my goodness, I cannot advice you what to do to help it, but I can say, I so so so so so feel you. I’m so tired, but I work remotely and rarely have to talk to coworkers outloud so it’s probably a lot easier for me to mask the tired from them, and I can minimize my opportunities to accidentally be unpleasant, which I know probably doesn’t help. But, solidarity.

    9. Squawkberries*

      Dont know the parent situation of your coworkers, or how close you are to them, but if my coworker told me that they had a baby/toddler/sick kid that has been keeping them up all night, I’d be inclined to empathize and cut them some slack. But you know your work environment best.

    10. Samantha Parkington 1904*

      When I was always exhausted because of a bad sleep schedule (got home from my evening job at 1AM, left home again at 6AM for my day job, for eight months), I depended very heavily on caffeine and deep breathing. I drank my body weight in coffee and energy drinks, which was probably not good for me in the long run but helped me get through the day. Whenever I would start to get upset, or I felt my brain being fuzzy, I would take a very deep breath and sit with it for a count of eight. If I wasn’t immediately speaking with someone, I’d breathe like this until I felt a little more centered. I hope your kiddo lets you sleep again soon!

  76. Hopeful academic*

    I’m an academic about to interview for a lateral move to another university. Any tips for what to say/avoid, what to ask, etc.? Guidance much appreciated!

    1. AnotherSarah*

      Good luck and congrats on getting an interview!!
      I think there are sort of two categories of questions to ask–those you want to know the answers to (pay! benefits! does this department secretly suck!) and then questions that make you look good (you also might want to know the answers, ofc).

      In the first category–pay, benefits, COL in the area, if there is any housing assistance/downpayment assistance, schools if that’s something you care about. Ask these not to the people interviewing you but to whomever you might see in HR/personnel/union. If it’s a public university you can find salaries online.

      Other types of questions, and probably you do want to know the answers as well, but these are the ones I love to answer and the ones I’ve had the most success asking: Can you tell me about the students? What kind of writing support do the students receive? Is there a writing center? (I’m in humanities, so that stuff really matters). What opportunities are there for faculty collaboration within the department and outside? Is there support for students working as TAs or GAs? (lab, research assistance, co-authoring, etc.). How open is campus to the community (does the library serve the community, are lectures generally open to the public, do seniors get cheap tuition to audit, etc.). I’d say if it’s cash-strapped or mostly teaching-centered, ask less about research $/junior sabbatical/stuff like that. It’s probably something they’re embarrassed about. (I myself would be HAPPY to share that our research budget is shameful, but I bet the Q would rub some the wrong way.) If it’s an R1 or R2, focus more on research questions than teaching, or focus on the combination (do students typically co-author papers, etc.).

      There are also culture questions (do people come in every day, are department meetings fraught, etc.), but those are questions I think you can glean better in a campus interview by keeping your ear to the ground.

      It’s also fine at the campus interview stage (like before you travel) to ask to be put in touch with someone who is X (a woman in STEM, a minority religion in a seemingly-all-Christian town, first-gen, Native, whatever). I’ve fielded plenty of questions about what it’s like to be X in Y, from people interviewing way outside my department. It’s disclosing something about yourself, which might be risky, but especially if you have a contact who’s in the union or HR or something, this is a very normal request. The search committee, however, probably won’t be a ton of help there.

  77. Amber Rose*

    My work trip for training is in two weeks and I’m already very anxious about it. Very early mornings, very long days, extremely late dinners (who eats after 8 pm? How do you sleep?). With a small dose of “omg am I even smart enough for this?” because I keep getting emails about prereq’s. It’s going to be so good to go I know it will, but I am bad at anticipation. D:

    When I get back, we have Phase Launch and my yearly review. I have done a LOT in the last year. When you think about asking for raises, how do you figure out how much is reasonable? Also I think I need a new title, since I’m the system admin for our ERP. But system admin sounds misleading because I’m not a programmer or anything. I’ve picked up enough SQL to modify some reports and enough logic to run some pivot tables and that’s it.

    1. Cyndi*

      I’m sorry this isn’t helpful advice, but I often wonder the opposite. How do people reliably eat dinner before 8pm? I have comparatively early work hours, 8-4:30, but even so I get home at 5:30 and then it takes a couple hours to get together my clothes and lunch for tomorrow, work out, shower, and make food, especially if I’m actually cooking something and not just reheating leftovers. (If it isn’t a workout day I often end up taking a nap before dinner instead, but that’s just because I can, not a time management issue.)

      1. Amber Rose*

        I work 8-4:30 also, and dinner is the first thing that happens when I get home. Everything else happens after. So we usually eat around 5:30-6.

        If I ate at 8pm, i’d never sleep. I have no idea how anyone sleeps with a full stomach. Then again, with my digestion issues, maybe it’s just me. I literally can’t eat that late or I end up in massive pain.

        1. Cyndi*

          Thanks for satisfying my curiosity! I have to do it the other way around–I know from experience that once I sit down and relax with dinner, no really active tasks like chores or exercise are happening after that.

          I do have reflux that can be triggered by eating too close to bedtime, so I understand. But it’s mostly controlled by meds now–and even when it breaks through occasionally, I’ve personally resigned myself to that as a downside of managing my time in the way that makes things most likely to get done. You’re probably being wiser in the long run, though.

          1. Can't think of a funny name*

            I have a similar routine as you Cyndi…I need to workout right after work or it’s not happening! I usually start making dinner around 7:30 and it’s ready around 8:15-8:30.

          2. Filosofickle*

            I am an early eater because I’m starving and am ready for food! It’s better for me to do that than snack. And I have the same thing where once I start making dinner I’m done for the night so my evenings are spectacularly unproductive. That said, I could eat dinner at 8 or 9 and have no difficulty going to sleep — I don’t have any digestive issues or discomfort from food that would make that a problem.

      2. peanut butter*

        You can do it the European way with large lunches and tiny dinner. I’m in north America but most of my European colleagues eat very little for dinner.

        1. allathian*

          Depends on where in Europe you are. The further south you go, the more dinner-heavy it will be. When I interned in Spain, I switched to their rhythm, with dinner as my main meal, typically less than an hour before bed, a very small breakfast and a light, vegetable heavy lunch. I’m just not hungry when it’s 39 C/100 F outdoors, and no AC. Thankfully I lived in the mountains, so the nights were comparatively cold even in the summer.

          Now I typically eat dinner as soon as I’m done working or our son gets home from school. On in-office days, I’ll eat dinner as soon as I get home.

          I typically eat breakfast at 6 am, a snack, such as an apple at 9 am, lunch at 11 am, a snack at 2 pm, dinner by 5.30 pm at the latest if the next day is a workday, and finally a snack, such as a banana, before bed.

          I can’t go for longer than about 4 hours without eating anything, or else I get hangry, or at the very least I lose my focus and get very irritable.

    2. Snowy*

      I typically eat somewhere between 6-8, depending on my work schedule and how involved my dinner cooking is. I’d prefer to eat closer to 6, but it is what it is, I don’t have a problem sleeping if I eat late (though I won’t eat much/at all if I’m not getting to eat dinner until after 9-10, but I generally snack anyway). I also tend to go to bed around 11-12, so I’m not immediately trying to sleep.

      I lived in Spain for 5 months though, and dinner is 8-10 pm on average…and not a “light” meal, either. That was a bit too late for me, but not terrible. They also have extremely light breakfast though, probably as a side effect of one’s stomach still being full.

  78. AnotherSarah*

    I think folks here might enjoy the illustrated “person on the street” column in the NYTimes today–it’s called “27 People on the Streets of New York Talk About How Much Money They Make.” Illuminating!

    1. Anna K*

      This is so interesting – thanks for sharing! I definitely fell into the GenX trap on not talking money, but credit Ask A Manager with the push for transparency

  79. Anxious Bee*

    So back in May I passed my NCLEX and became a nurse at the hospital where I’ve worked as a tech for two years. I had signed my offer letter a year before I was done with school and part of my offer was $1000 retention bonus and about $700 dollars to cover licensing fees. I had thought I had gotten them within my first couple of paychecks, but looking at my paystub history for other reasons I now don’t think I have. How do I go about bringing this up with my manager? She wasn’t my manager for the first three months because I was in the new grad program and I don’t even have a copy of my letter any more- plus it was out of date anyways as their new hire salary went up while I was still in school.

    1. ferrina*

      Just tell your manager that you have a question about your payroll and your retention bonus/licensing fee coverage. Ask her who the right person is to talk to about this.

      Payroll is often not handled by the manager, so she will likely refer you to someone else you can ask about it. Just treat it as fact-finding (which it is!). You just want to be clear when that was paid, and if it wasn’t, when you can expect it.

    2. PsychNurse*

      Seconding the other comment, that says to ask your manager who to talk to.

      Next, I might start by asking for a copy of your letter. HR will still have it in your file. Then you can review it, and refresh your memory about the details of the offer. That way, when you go back to HR or payroll, you can say, “As my letter says, I should have received my $700 licensing bonus in June, because I passed the NCLEX in May” (or whatver the details are). That will have more weight than just vaguely saying “Someone promised me I would get the money.”

  80. Chirpy*

    I just had a coworker who I barely work with and whom I have definitely never complained to come up to me and thank me for being able to work with my department head. Apparently she reamed him out for helping this morning.

    She’s seriously driven off our last person in the department months ago. It’s just her and me, and I really, really need to get out before our seasonal live animals start coming in in a month, because management doesn’t care, I’ll get stuck working nights because there’s no one else who is responsible enough for the animals (and she doesn’t work late) and they won’t hire anyone. I’m so t