open thread – January 6-7, 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.

{ 1,170 comments… read them below }

  1. I'm so done*

    I have an exit interview next week. I’m severely tempted to tell HR how terrible and incompetent my supervisor is, and that I’m leaving because of him. It’s so bad I have fantasies of telling them he should not have been hired because of how poor his skill set actually is and that he wasn’t properly vetted. Usually with exit interviews they’ll say something like “would you recommend Llama Grooming Farms to other people?” “how would you rate your ability to do your job?” “how would you rate your team’s efficiency?” The thing is, all of the management seems to be clueless about my boss, except for my teammates.

    How honest should I be with HR?

    1. Mockingjay*

      Not very honest. I’ve never seen an exit interview change things; in fact, I did mention a few neutral things when I left an early job and got blacklisted anyway. Preserve your reference.

      1. irene adler*

        +1

        IF management was truly interested in your thoughts re: your supervisor, team efficiency, the company, etc. they would be asking about these things long before your resignation letter arrived.

      2. Cass*

        Would you be willing to share what you mean by “blacklisted” and how you confirmed this? Not doubting you at all, but wondering if I’ve experienced something similar.

        1. Mockingjay*

          I’m a contractor. I left the company because my role was limited by the contract; I liked the work and my boss but was ready for more. Years later, another contract was ending and I saw an opportunity (perfect fit for my skills/exp.) at my old company with my old boss. Prior boss was happy to recommend me and would have been thrilled to have me back, but apparently corporate policy (it was a large business) labeled any slight criticism during the exit interview as a mark against rehire.

          Do I have solid proof? No, but I know several people who left and came back to the local branch and they just said everything’s great in their exit interviews. (The things I said weren’t negative; only that I wished my manager would have visited or met with onsite staff regularly – I was collocated with the government customer – because it seemed staff in the office had more awareness of company goings-on.) I’ll never truly know.

          Regardless of circumstances, I figure it is better to leave a positive impression going out the door. Often the last impression is what people remember most about you.

          1. Cass*

            Thanks. I left my last role due to toxic leadership. Our VP had driven out more than half of our staff due to bullying. There were numerous complaints made and our company ombudsperson investiagated, and eventually an external investiagtor brought in. I initially declined to interview with the third party investigator as I was on the verge of leaving, but my direct boss encouraged me to meet with them. By that time I had aready accepted another offer and had given notice. I tried to be objective as possible and share my concerns. The VP ended being fired about 2 months later.

            1. Rosemary*

              It took an external investigation before they would fire the guy?? Yikes. One would think that with the number of complaints about the VP, they would not NEED an external investigation.

              1. Cass*

                Yeah. I can’t say for certain but from what I was able to learn there was quite a bit of pressure from our CEO to have the role filled, to the point where this person wasn’t considered a strong candidate, rather someone with a pulse. And when it was clear wasn’t working out the VP’s boss (CFO) was reulctant to rectify the mistake. All hearsay from sources across the company of course, but that’s probably not too far off from fact.

      3. Narvo Flieboppen*

        I worked at a place where 5 people had left because of one employee – who was not their supervisor, but their peer, and HR was still protecting her years later because ‘she has such a high level skillset’.

        When she was finally fired (by a combination of new boss & new HR manager) it was revealed that her ‘highly skilled’ work was a massive mess. Her entire monthly output was absorbed by the rest of the team with no difficulty because she really wasn’t doing much of anything at all except causing trouble. The 20% of her work that landed on my desk added about 2 hours a week when I received it. And with automation, I trimmed that down to 15 minutes a week, because I don’t see the need for a fully manual process that can be run by reporting systems & macros instead.

    2. Sheik YurBooti*

      Don’t be tempted to say much.

      The #1 reason people leave they jobs is because of their boss. Unless there is something illegal, unethical or otherwise violates labor laws, there’s nothing to be gained on bad-mouthing your boss on the way out. HR either wont care, or they’ll run to your boss and tell them what you said, which will not bode well for you if you need a reference (yes, even from previous bad boss) or even a previous-employment check. Best just to give short answers and leave without a fuss. Vent to your friends later on.

    3. KayDeeAye*

      I actually do know of an exit interview that seemed to change things…but only for a while. The person leaving was pretty candid about her supervisor’s shortcomings, the supervisor was counseled about this, and for a bit, the supervisor’s behavior did change. It didn’t last, however, at least not for the most part. Maybe if the next person who left said similar things, more would have been done. I know he was pretty unhappy with the same supervisor, but I don’t know if he even had an exit interview, and if he did, my bet would be that he went the safe route and said nothing.
      So…it’s up to you, I’m so done. I understand the temptation, but unless your company has a fairly strong history of acting on such things, it might do more harm than good. I wish I could be more definite.

    4. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      I also have this temptation, but one of the things I’ve learned from AAM is that being super honest in an exit interview rarely has the effect you want.

    5. Richard Hershberger*

      What is the chance doing this would positively affect your life? Zero, or close enough as to make no difference. Even if the scales fell from their eyes and they cleaned up their act, you won’t be there to enjoy the benefits. At most you would get a feeling of satisfaction for a job well done. And, as others have pointed out, the likelihood of accomplishing this is negligable, so really what we are looking at is the satisfaction of getting it off your chest. That’s what friends are for.

      What is the chance doing this would negatively affect your life? Considerably higher. The others have pointed out how this can go wrong for you. Sadly, a former employer still has the ability to make your life worse. So risk-benefit analysis is clear: spout banalities and move on with your life.

    6. OrdinaryJoe*

      Not at all … they don’t care. It’s a great fantasy and one everyone can relate to, though!

    7. English Rose*

      If they a good HR team, they will want to know. But keep it factual, with examples. If they’re a bad HR team, well…

      1. Writerlife*

        Exactly. I had an exit interview when I changed departments and gave concrete examples of things which were done incorrectly/against HR & company policy which included dates and witnesses. One person left the company suddenly a few days after HR asked me about the interview and the other was demoted.

        My wife did one when she left a position and same thing- detailed, factual information about systemic racism, policy breaking, and general horrible management happening in her specific location of a giant company. Resulted in 3 people suddenly leaving the company within a couple of weeks and one person being transferred to a less desirable location.

        The key is being factual. Not “my boss is horrible because they yell” but “on Dec. 12 boss yelled at a high volume at John Doe for 30 minutes about task X. This was witnessed by Jane Doe, Jane Smith, and John Smith.” Or “although policy dictates we get overtime or liu time, John Doe told me to punch out but continue working an additional 3 hours on December 12. This was witnessed by Jane Doe. When I told them I couldn’t do that as it’s against policy, they threatened me with termination.”

    8. cardigarden*

      So, I was honest in two exit interviews, but the difference was that I didn’t need the reference from either of the people the feedback was about. The first was from a summer-before-grad-school job where the feedback (to the company owner) was along the lines of “given the unrealistic expectations of [supervisor], I strongly recommend you hire two people for the job I’m vacating.” The company couldn’t afford to implement the suggestion, but she took it under advisement.

      The other instance was reporting the litany of grievances against my grandboss at OldJob. He wasn’t someone I would ever use as a reference, and it was more important to me to have something on file in writing against him as evidence of a pattern of behavior. He was eventually fired some time after I left due to comments from several other people’s exit interviews.

      What matters is this: do you have other references than your supervisor? That’s probably the most important thing to consider before taking the risk that HR will go directly to him with “So-and-so said you’re trash.” If having the documentation on record is worth potentially losing the reference, that’s up to you to figure out.

      1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

        RE the taking under advisement: We’ve had three people rotate through/leave a position in a matter of about five years. Each person told the COO that we needed two people for the role when they put in their notice.

        Fast-forward to the current person in the role’s interview and offer. When the offer came through, he wrote back with a clearly defined division of the responsibilities and a note that he’d love to accept but the role was not tenable for one person. The COO took the candidate’s separate job descriptions and actually hired two people. We were floored. I like to think that the previous people who quit set the stage for that change.

    9. time for cocoa*

      I was honest in my last exit interview that my boss had tried multiple times to go to bat for me, but the people above her kept blocking promotions and raises for me. I let them know that I was leaving for a $50,000 raise and a better title.

      I found out (through small town word of mouth) that they gave my other colleague a $10,000 retention bonus as a response. So now she’s bound to them for two years for that one-time amount, while in that time I’ll make an extra hundred thousand. I didn’t end up helping her at all–I helped them screw her.

      In conclusion: lie your ass off.

      1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        Can you elaborate on how your honesty screwed her over? I’m not following the connection. Thank you! Also, damn, nice raise.

        1. WheresMyPen*

          I guess they mean that because of their exit interview they gave the other colleague a meagre raise, but it was her choice to accept it rather than leave for something better so I don’t think they did screw her over

          1. Overeducated*

            Yeah, in that case if the colleague left for a $50k raise and paid back $10k, she’d still be 90k better off, which is a massive net gain. (Not sure how taxes would be dealt with though – if she only got $7500 of the retention bonus, would she be responsible for paying back the amount taken for taxes too? But honestly, with numbers an order of magnitude apart, she’d STILL be better off leaving.)

          2. time for cocoa*

            Sort of. She was a junior employee and a first-gen US citizen, so she didn’t have a lot of resources/background in regards to her market value or understanding networking, negotiating, etc. I never got a chance to talk to her without anyone looming over my shoulder (that company loved threatening employees about non-competes and poaching colleagues, so they were on high alert any time I spoke to her after giving my notice) but I have no doubt that they took advantage of her naivete and locked her into that deal ASAP.

      2. Pennyworth*

        She might have stayed for two years anyway, without the $10,000, so you could look at it as getting her $5k a year extra.

    10. Library in the Middle*

      I had an exit interview with our district superintendent when I quit my old job (they only did them because about 40% of our staff quit one summer). I explained to her that the last straw was the hiring of a principal who’s certification was revoked for 12 months because he had an innapropriate relationship with his subordinates. She replied “It was only one, not multiple”. So. They do not care.

      If you think it won’t come back to haunt you and makes you feel better, go for it! If it will, don’t bother

    11. Uncle Boner*

      My dad had sage advice on this sort of topic:

      Don’t trade 10 seconds worth of satisfaction for a lifetime of regret.

      So you feel “better” right then by mouthing off about the guy….then what? And, how does this really benefit you?

      Comes with a lot of professional risk (and potentially personal risk) and absolutely no upside other than a short-term emotional boost.

      And…to be honest…no one cares. HR definitely doesn’t care.

    12. The Prettiest Curse*

      A piece of exit interview advice for anyone who does wind up talking candidly about a bullying or otherwise awful colleague – if you have a good colleague that you can trust to be discreet, tell them that you were candid after you’ve been safely settled in your new job for a while. An ex-colleague of mine did me a huge favour this way.

      Once the person who’d been bullying her started bullying me and I had to report it, I was able to sit down with my (then-new) supervisor and the ED and tell them that I knew the person who was bullying me had a track record of it and the ex-colleague had talked about it in her exit interview. They actually took steps to address it once I said that and I was moved to another team to get me away from the bully.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          They suffered the consequence of their best friend (who was also their manager) no longer being their manager. The best friend was given a choice of taking a lesser job where she wouldn’t be her friend’s manager any more or resigning and chose to resign. The bully sulked for months because she was able to get away with a lot less once she had a different manager. She eventually left a few months after I did.

    13. Rick*

      There is one, and only one time when you can do this: you are leaving because you just won the lottery and will never need to work again. (I guess getting a sufficiently large inheritance would also work too). And yeah, I definitely fantasize about doing it, so I understand the appeal, but there isn’t anything in it for you and can only hurt you, not help you.

    14. Rosemary*

      It is so depressing that pretty much ALL advice is to not be honest in the exit interview. While I understand it from a practical, take-care-of-yourself-first perspective…if everyone leaving is having an issue with a particular person/thing/whatever in a company – enough that they are leaving over it – but then give Pollyanna responses in their exit interviews…what good does that do? It makes me think of the letter from the person asking if they should give feedback to the recruiter that the drug testing policy was the reason (or a big reason) they were not moving forward. Is that alone going to get them to change? Probably not. But maybe if enough people, over enough time, push back…change will happen.

      1. Aitch Arr*

        My company does both an exit meeting and an exit survey.

        The exit meeting is with the HRBP and mostly goes over the exit documents, but we also ask “as the HRBP for $group, is there anything you’d like to share/think I should know?”

        The exit survey is anonymous, and the results are only seen by our HR project manager. The PM then rolls up the data on a quarterly basis (or less frequently if we don’t have many exits during a quarter). Each HRBP will get basic info like “50% of the employees who left the Teapot Painting Department in Q4 stated they did so because of work/life balance.”

        1. Aitch Arr*

          Pressed “submit” too soon.

          The HRBPs then work with Senior Leaders on anything actionable from the survey.

          We also do an overall employee engagement survey each 12-18 months.

      2. Chilipepper Attitude*

        Not true! I’m sorry, but if you can give me an actual example of a time being honest in an exit interview did anything but nothing, I’ll be happy to change my mind.

        My last workplace knew the problems and problem managers. They were just not interested in change. We had one tech guy who managed all the vendors and made sure everything worked. Literally the only one who could do that work and his retention matter a lot to all levels.

        He initially reported to good manager. He was moved to bad manager when good manager was promoted – supposed to be temporary. He told them bad manager was bad and temporary had to be very temporary. And he told them again, and again. It turned into almost a year. He quit with a month’s notice (2 weeks is normal). They moved him back to good manager immediately.

        They know and they don’t really care.

          1. Chilipepper Attitude*

            True, I was a little strong in my wording. But the preponderance of evidence is that saying something in a regular old exit interview does very little. And often harms you.

            1. tessa*

              But that evidence is anecdotal, limited to a handful of commenters here. Anecdote isn’t data, so I’m having a hard time following the logic that anecdote is somehow generalizable.

    15. Chilipepper Attitude*

      I did not bother to complete the survey HR sent me. If I had to meet with them, I would not be honest at all. Nothing good comes of that.

    16. Curiouser and Curiouser*

      Relatedly, I have a stay interview next week with my boss. I don’t really understand the purpose as the questions are similar to those we’ve been asked in quarterly reviews. She knows I’m not happy in my role but I don’t think it’s advantageous to me to say that I am (and have been) looking for other jobs. But I’m really struggling with how I’m supposed to respond to the direct question “When was the last time you thought about leaving?” I really don’t feel good about lying and the truth will be obvious on my face in any case. Does anyone have any advice?

      1. lyonite*

        Lie with a clear conscience. That’s not a question that shows any care or consideration for you, and it can only do you harm. If they were interested in keeping you they would be asking what could be improved, not trying to guilt you into showing your hand.

      2. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

        Maybe you could say, “Well, of course, I always have in mind that an opportunity could come up which would be better for my career”. Then go straight on to talk about what you feel you’re currently learning in your present role. Then say “in 5 years’ time I’d like to be doing XYZ”. Then you’re simultaneously indicating how they could theoretically keep you, while also moving the topic swiftly away from the original question :-)

      3. BekaAnne*

        Oh, this is hella different than being honest in an exit interview. I think go for redirection where you can or limited honesty.

        “When was the last time you thought about leaving?”
        “Well, Felicia, as you know we’ve talked about aspects of my role that are challenging and are causing issues. Can we look at those aspects in more detail.”

        Admitting you’re looking is not going to do you well long term, but your manager, if they’re a good manager, should already realise that if you’re not happy in the role, you are going to be looking, so putting it out there so blatantly is just asking for trouble.

        If you have a good relationship, and they won’t use it against you – then maybe you can be more honest, but I would never admit to thinking about leaving in this sort of conversation.

        (However, weirdly, when I was line managing my team, I tried to create an open dialogue with the staff so that they’d tell me what the niggles were so we could try to address them. The major issues were C-Suite and their decisions rather than middle level line managers. I got told as soon as they started looking, and helped them with their CVs if they wanted the help. I do miss that team – but they’ve moved on to much better things!)

    17. Bird Lady*

      I was honest at my last interview. When asked about individuals, I refrained from negative comments. However, when asked why I was leaving, I told the truth: I could no longer fill 4 full time roles that required more institutional authority than I had to make nearly 20% less than market rate for just one of the roles I was filling. My health was suffering and I couldn’t justify being sick and in pain daily.

      I can report that my departure and exit interview sent waves through the organization. They finally took my advice and hired for roles I had begged for, all close in pay to other orgs. I am certain it was because I focused on structural issues instead of individual critiques.

      1. Pennyworth*

        I think that is the key – make the reasons about yourself. You can still make it clear what the problems are with ”I” statements.

    18. Qwerty*

      Keep it factual and simple. This is not a vent session. It takes time, but I do know of managers who were let go after multiple people cited that manager as their reason for leaving.

      Avoid judgment statements like saying he should have never been hired. That statement criticizes a *lot* of people at your company, so they’ll react defensively and miss the fact that you are giving them.

      If you are able to state positives about the company, that will help. Either company policies that made you stay as long as you did, or if Failure Fergus was preceeded by Wonderful William as your supervisor. Neutral stuff could also be useful – like recommending skip-level meetings is a way to nudge management to look closer without actually throwing your boss under the bus (and is a good practice for them to do anyway)

      Try to put yourself in HR’s shoes – they don’t know whether you are an awesome employee who had a terrible boss or a disgruntled employee with a normal boss (or somewhere in between). The more it turns into a rant, the more it just looks like it was your time to move on.

    19. Rhymetime*

      I think how much you share is dependent on your particular workplace. In my case, I left a job only because I was recruited for a position that paid a lot more. I had strong performance reviews and I knew my boss and grandboss would always give me a good reference, so I could could be open with HR about problems with the CEO. HR took my feedback seriously. The CEO was let go a couple months later. I’m sure it wasn’t solely based on what I’d shared but I imagine it was one more concern among others.

    20. Lizzianna*

      Honestly, if they don’t already know he’s a bad manager, telling them through an exit interview isn’t likely to change much. Good companies that are willing to act on employees’ complaints generally don’t wait until you’re leaving to ask you how things are going. And the risk to you (that what you say gets back to someone who you need for a reference in the future) is too high. You’d be putting your own neck on the line to protect a company that hasn’t shown any inclination to protect you.

    21. Texan In Exile*

      Not honest at all. When I left the Toxic Director at the Toxic Job, HR wanted me to do an exit interview. I refused.

      They asked me how things were going to get better for the people who remained. I told them that they knew what the problem was – four people of a team of 14 had quit in less than a year, one of them by not coming back after lunch – but they didn’t want to do what they needed to do.

      Then they tried to tell me that I had to do the exit interview and I laughed.

      The Board fired the director 18 months later, but not before he wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars on an office remodel and not before other valuable people quit.

    22. Quinalla*

      It really depends. I’m always as honest as I can be in exit interviews, but I also know how to read the room and if I know they don’t care (usually because I’ve already given the feedback and they’ve done nothing) or are unlikely to do anything, I will tell the parts they might listen to.

      I will say that it can take 2+ people leaving, but if those folks all tell HR/boss’ boss that the boss is bad – and as others have said in this thread by giving facts, not sounding like they are just griping – at a place that cares about retention more than about that particular boss will eventually do something.

      So I think you be as honest as you think will be useful while staying absolutely professional. And if you have any doubts about future references, etc. it is ok to tell whatever part of the truth you are comfortable with.

    23. Bad Boss Haver*

      I just left a job because of my boss, and believe me, HR knows why people leave. Most people leave jobs because of bosses.

      If you have something factual they can add to a list someone is surely keeping somewhere, then sure, but be sure to balance it out with just checking the boxes to get out of there. This goes double if you need the reference.

      In my case, I had brought up incidents of my boss’ poor management style to HR already because one of the things he did to me affected a client with whom our HR person also worked. It was factual, and I had receipts.

      I resigned when I realized I was in one of those « set up to fail » spirals then by a complete accident (luck) i wound up getting pretty seriously ill for about six weeks and didn’t have to finish my notice. I didn’t have to do an exit interview. HR knew.

    24. lyonite*

      I agree with everyone else here about not expecting to accomplish anything with an exit interview, and add that if you want a more effective fantasy, try imagining your boss applying for a job at your new employer (where, of course, you are a valued and trusted employee) and being able to tell the hiring team why they should pass on him. I actually got to do that once, and it was glorious.

  2. New Mom*

    Work-balance question when interviewing

    I’m looking for a new role, I’m going to be very picky and I’m going to be interviewing THEM too (thanks, AG and AAM!). One of my criteria as a parent of two little kids in a HCOLA is flexibility and work-life balance. I don’t want the buzz words, I want the real thing. Can any of you help me find a great question to suss out if the companies I’m applying to actually have a good work-life balance?

    Something like, “you mention on your website that work-life balance is important to your company’s values. I’d love to hear a recent example of how you were able to provide work-life balance for your employees?” (but worded better!)
    Or something else? What should I ask? My kids are constantly sick, and daycare closes often due to illnesses and just a ridiculous amount of off-days (the norm in my area is 5-7 weeks a year of off-days), my in-laws live in England and I need to be able to go there about once a year for two weeks (I’m totally open to working remotely there, but just need to be able to go).

    1. Massive Dynamic*

      I’d start with asking them how they supported their employees in the pandemic – see if you can get them talking about parents stuck home with kids, etc. and see where it goes from there. Any “thank god that time is over and we’re all back in the office” vibes are at least a yellow flag. I’d want to know more about what they learned about supporting employees during that time and how it carries forth to this day.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Good one. For my job search I need to know how they will support people with poor health , and will they at least allow some masking lol

      2. New Mom*

        My current employer WAS pretty good during the pandemic but they seem burnt out on empathy at the moment. So on paper they have great work-life balance, but in reality there are a lot of last minute/tight turn around asks of employees but management is so out of the weeds they don’t know/don’t care. For example, if I were to ask my current manager if there is good work-life balance on her team she’d say yes and I think she truly believes that, and she even has young children so it would be believable until work started.

        1. Nannerdoodle*

          Part of what you can do to help with those responses is to ask if your interviewer could put you in touch with one or two people on the team to ask them about the culture of the company/department. You can even specifically ask to be put in touch with one or two women, since they’ll more likely have similar experiences in the WFH/daycare situation, and a lack of flexibility unfortunately tends to put the burden on women more than men.

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      Following this thread since I’m potentially going to be in a similar position. I have good work-life balance now and need to ensure I have it in my next role as well.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      In addition to Massive Dynamic’s suggestion, you should ask if working from home/hybrid work is an option (if not clear in the job ad) and how often people on this team work from home in practice (if hybrid work is clear in the job ad). (This assumes your children are old enough that it’s sufficient for you to be in the same house with them while sick, and you could get work done on those days–I know that’s not necessarily the case)

      I would also ask about the typical hours on the team, both in a weekly sense (40 hrs/wk vs 60 hrs/wk) and in a daily flexibility sense (“everyone needs to be here by 9 sharp” vs “people roll in from 7am – 10am and as long as you get your work done we don’t care”).

      1. Annony*

        I would also ask specifically how often they work on the weekend or in the evening and whether there is an expectation of being available by phone or email when not working.

    4. Hiring Mgr*

      I would just bring up the examples you mention at the end and ask if that kind of flexibility works.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        I wouldn’t mention family status at this point in the interview process; there’s too large a chance that someone on the hiring committee will be biased. I’d stick to general questions about WFH or work while traveling, with an emphasis on “how many people actually do this?”

        1. Specificity is key!*

          Normally I agree with that, but OP specifically said they’re able to be very picky. So a company that would discriminate against you for mentioning your family status is a company that’s probably not going to be supportive of people with young families, and therefore isn’t a place OP wants to work.

          If you’re not able to be picky and are more concerned with just landing a job, then absolutely don’t mention family status.

          1. New Mom*

            I’m so torn about flat-out mentioning I have young kids. I can be picky, but there is such bias and unconscious bias around parents. I will absolutely work hard and perform well for a company but I’m happy to wake up earlier than my kids to write a memo, do some researching as long as I can pick them up from daycare and spend quality time with them each day.

            1. Rosemary*

              Honestly…I wouldn’t mention it. I think the conscious and unconscious is REAL. Given the choice between hiring a mom of young kids and a single person with no (perceived) commitments/responsibilities – I imagine there are PLENTY of people who are going to opt for the latter option, even if they EXPLICITLY say so/find other “reasons” why that person is a better candidate.

            2. Hiring Mgr*

              If that type of flexibility is a dealbreaker for you I think you need to mention them, mainly because you can be picky. Lots of companies will be fine with this, but some won’t of course and better to find out before you take a job there. Same with a bias against parents – if it’s there you want to flesh it out asap.

              1. Rosemary*

                I agree that if they can truly afford to be picky, then by all means mention it. Problem is the bias in hiring decision vs day to day bias. OP may get hired, employers/co-workers have zero issues with her being a parent, it does not impact anything in her day to day at work ONCE SHE IS HIRED, and has proven herself. But the person interviewing her – consciously or not – may worry that she WILL need more accommodations, and hold it against her (again, consciously or not) and not even give her the offer.

        2. Solokid*

          As someone that has been on hiring committees – we can read between the lines. Male presenting applicants of all ages and experience have never once asked me (a woman) about work life balance.

    5. Purple Cat*

      If you have an opportunity to interview with peers rather than supervisor, that is definitely the best way to get a truer answer.
      But otherwise, flat out ask specifics. “Will my schedule allow for frequent flexibility in pick-up and drop-off times and working from home?”
      How much they hem and haw over that will tell you everything you need to know.
      Remote work in general will dictate your ability to work from England. As you know from reading AAM, that’s a hornet’s nest of legality, so you may need to offer to take that time unpaid, or ask if there’s a generous PTO policy.

      1. New Mom*

        It seems like as long as it’s less than a month I should be fine. I’d be likely logging in for a week and we’d be there for three weeks. I’ve done that at my previous company for years. The only time it didn’t work was one year we did a security upgrade right before I went to England and the new security was an SMS message, which I couldn’t get in the UK so I was locked out for three weeks and it was actually great! I totally unplugged for three whole weeks :)

    6. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      When interviewing for one role where I was concerned about work/life balance, I asked about what hours people typically worked. And also about how often there are urgent requests where people are expected to drop everything and work until it’s done. Although the panel said that work/life balance was good, their answer to the more detailed questions revealed some issues.

      They ended up cancelling the recruitment and didn’t bother to tell me (an internal candidate), which just reinforced that it wouldn’t be a good environment.

    7. Specificity is key!*

      So one tip that’s always helped me (as a parent of a small child!) is to be prepared of examples of what flexibility I’m looking for. So instead of asking generally about flexible working (where you’ll likely get a stock answer full of buzzwords), I ask things like ‘Can I flex my hours as needed by working evenings or longer days so I can finish early another day?’ or ‘I need to work from home 3 days a week minimum due to my childcare arrangements, is that a problem?’ or ‘Can I work remotely in another country for two weeks a year providing I have the right visa paperwork in place?’

      Since your concerns around flexibility are specifically tied to being a parent, ask about what family policies the company has in place – again, the key is to get specific answers rather than buzzwords around ‘flexibility’ and ‘individual circumstances’.

    8. time for cocoa*

      Your wording is too obvious, you need to be sneakier.

      “Tell me what a typical week looks like in this role.”

      “Does everyone work in the same time zone? If not, are there flex hours, or how is availability handled?”

      “What changes did the company make in response to the lockdown?”

      1. NeedRain47*

        I think that last one is kind of the standard for “how to ask if this place hates its employees and treats like like poop”, it’s what I’ve used.

        I’ve also seen prospective managers asked directly about work/life balance. Some of them had so little to say about it, it was clear there wouldn’t be any.

      2. DEEngineer*

        Totally agree! These questions are great. You want to avoid sounding like you’ll present any difficulties at all when it comes to availability. When I was last job searching, I asked about work hours just to confirm it wasn’t anything unusual and then received the whole explanation about the company’s policy for working hours and flex time.

      3. EJ*

        When was the last time you worked past 5 (or regular end time)? If it is daily vs a very big project they will tell you.

    9. Educator*

      I have been burned before by mangers who say all the right things in the interview, and likely wish they were true…but they were not.

      The only way, I think, to get a straight answer on this is to ask peers informally, outside of the official process if needed.

    10. Ranon*

      I do project based work so I like “what does a typical week look like” “what does a week with a deadline push look like” “how do you balance work between projects and manage employee workloads”

      You can also ask about schedule flexibility, e.g. are there expectations for core hours, what are they, how often are meetings, etc scheduled outside of core hours.

    11. Alessandra*

      You got a lot of great advice, but one other thing I would suggest is asking if you can speak with anyone on the team that you’re interviewing for, and ask THEM about work-life balance. I’m lucky to have a boss who really does walk the walk (e.g., telling us discreetly that they will not be checking who is logged in during the Xmas/New Year holidays; asking us NOT to give a reason when we need to take sick time unless it requires a long-term conversation; lots of flex hours). But I think it’s also easy for a manager to provide a more rose-colored version of what work-life balance looks like on their team.

    12. Nesprin*

      Can you tell me about a time when an employee needed greater flexibility and how the company supported them?

    13. WorktoLiveNotLivetoWork*

      I know there is at least one response saying you should ask about expectations for monitoring phone and email outside of office hours, but I think you should instead ask if higher-ups tend to send emails outside of office hours. A company can say they don’t expect you to monitor your email, but if you have it on your phone and get an email from a boss or someone even higher, you may have that unspoken pressure to respond. Company culture comes from above, so I would definitely ask how the higher-ups work and interact with staff. I may need to work nights and weekends to keep up on things, but I am scheduling emails to be sent on a work morning so my staff never feels they need to respond to me outside of their hours. That’s extremely important to me and how I want our culture.

    14. EMP*

      If you’re comfortable cutting to the chase, I would ask something like “how do parents at the company manage things like daycare closures?”
      I’d rather ask this of someone who would be my peer in the new company rather than a manager, but in my opinion companies where this is handled well are more OK with a direct question anyway. It’s the ones that don’t REALLY have a work life balance who want you to pretend you don’t have one either.

    15. WheresMyPen*

      If the company is big enough you can try looking on Glassdoor and seeing if anyone has left reviews mentioning these issues. I’ve seen lots of reviews where staff mention poor work/life balance, time off, burnout etc but equally they do sometimes list positives. You could also try scoping out their LinkedIn pages, or even social media and see if you can get a vibe about the company culture from there

    16. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      I just did three interviews in a row. I asked things about work pace (everyone says they have a fast paced environment, and all jobs vary a bit. How would you say this position looks in terms of pace and intensity?). I also asked about quick turn projects.

      I will ask if they have flexibility around things that pop up (nobody likes having to take a day of vacation to spend half an hour at the optometrist. Is that the sort of thing I could flex my hours to cover?)

    17. jasmine*

      If you can find any way to connect with someone who already works there to have a casual conversation on the company, that could help you out a lot.

    18. Lizzianna*

      I would ask for specific examples of ways they’ve supported work-life-balance, and what they mean by work-life-balance.

      Is the position salaried? If so, I’d ask if they track hours/time spent with your butt in the seat, or if they primarily track accomplishments? (I’d probably find a slightly nicer way to word it.). Are there core hours when you’re expected to be available, or can you set your own hours? Do employees that WFH have a set schedule, or is there an ability to adjust it based on work needs/home needs?

      1. Lizzianna*

        That said, I’d probably start this discussion with a peer vs. a hiring manager. And it’s not worth having this discussion with HR. Even if certain flexibilities are allowed based on policy, if you have a supervisor who is skeptical of offering these flexibilities, they can create subtle barriers that diminish the benefits.

    19. lost academic*

      You actually have to talk to people in that position at the companies in question. Don’t take HR statement, hiring managers, line managers or recruiters’ word for it – find someone as closely aligned to your role with kids as close to yours’ ages as possible and talk to them. I was being recruiter by a competitor a senior woman in my field decamped to last year and that’s what she deliberately set up for me to do, because she knew it mattered to have the right perspective and firsthand account. And she didn’t have any kids!

      In my experience in my field, it’s line managers that make or break this for you and it’s my biggest professional goal to ensure that my direct reports get the support they need for their situations (one with the kids, like me, and one with a chronic illness). I make sure they have the opportunities to advance and grow along with the flexibility to stay balanced, because I’m in it for the long haul and I’m invested in them the same way.

  3. Alice in Wonderland*

    LW2’s post this morning has me wondering: Is it bad form to email hiring managers after applying to a job? So many career coaches insist this is a vital part of the job application process, to ensure your application is seen. Are they wrong?

    1. Happy meal with extra happy*

      My personal, non-data driven opinion is that the Venn diagram of employers who would be positively swayed by such a follow up and employers you don’t want to work for is close to a being a circle.

    2. Minimal Pear*

      I used to work in recruitment and we generally found it annoying/it didn’t impact the person’s application. It’s fine if you’re worried your application didn’t go through and you want to double check, if it’s been a while and you haven’t heard anything, if you realized you have a question, etc. But the emails and calls immediately after applying just making sure that we saw your application won’t help it at all. In a few cases, with people who really crossed boundaries, it ended up hurting their applications.

      1. English Rose*

        Yes, this.
        And candidates often don’t realise they are being processed by a central recruitment function which is dealing with high volume roles across multiple site. If I had £10 for every candidate phone call that starts “I applied for your job…” (Yes, which one, we have 160 listed.)

      2. Minimal Pear*

        (That being said, you probably won’t get blacklisted from ever applying again unless you, as a TOTALLY hypothetical example, camp out in the admin’s office, get kicked out of said office, and then wander all around the building, causing a security problem. Hypothetically.)

            1. Minimal Pear*

              That’s pretty much it! She applied for all our jobs every time they were open and would call and email multiple times during the process. We would reject her every time because she wasn’t qualified. She eventually came in person, stayed in the office for a while, and then when she “left” she actually just wandered around the building before finally being shooed out. (This was a bit of a security risk.) We ended up telling her we would never hire her (as politely as you can say that) and she stopped applying. It was a job that involved a lot of good judgement and emotional intelligence, so whenever we had people show that they were VERY bad at those things, it was an instant “no”.

              1. Minimal Pear*

                We actually had a guy who was worse, but I promised not to gossip about that incident too much. :’)

    3. Hlao-roo*

      Broadly speaking, yes, those career coaches are wrong. It is not a vital step to make sure your application is seen. As both this morning’s OP2 and Alison mentioned, it’s most often a slight annoyance to hiring managers.

      I though OP2 had good guidelines on when those pre-application or post-application/pre-interview questions are acceptable:

      I am happy to respond to a simple factual question not adequately answered in the job ad (say, is hybrid work an option, expected travel time, etc.)

      1. Cordelia*

        yes, I agree OP2’s guidelines were very good, about answering short essential factual questions. But I think these would be for factual questions pre-application (to decide whether to apply) or once offered an interview, (to decide whether to attend). I can’t see any point in contacting the hiring manager after sending the application but before receiving an interview offer. I think the career coaches are wrong, and that this will either achieve nothing, or just annoy the hiring manager.

        1. Rosemary*

          Agreed! As a hiring manager, I am 100% not responding to any questions unless I have decided I want to interview that person. At that point I would answer a reasonable question that was not clear/covered in the job description, as I don’t want to waste anyone’s time if it is a dealbreaker for them. But I am not going to waste MY time responding to someone I have not decided to interview.

      2. Rex Libris*

        Yep. Those career coaches are stuck in the days of paper resumes piled up on someone’s desk, where there was presumably value in making sure the mail actually got there, and it didn’t slide off the stack and into the wastebasket. Nowadays your application is just as seen as everybody else in the database.

    4. Gracely*

      I would only email them if there is important HIGHLY relevant info you need to give them that you couldn’t put in the application, or if there is a significant question you have about the application itself (like if it wasn’t working somehow). Otherwise, leave them alone–you don’t want to stand out as someone demanding extra attention.

    5. PoolLounger*

      Emailing a hiring manager would never have done anything at any place I’ve worked (universities, libraries, museums, retail). We get the applications and if you’re qualified we call. The only time I’ve ever contacted a hiring manager to make sure they got my app was when I already knew the manager, the manager knew I was applying and encouraged me to apply, and I thought the automated system might toss my app due to one of my answers. But if I hadn’t known the manager and they hadn’t wanted me for the job emailing wouldn’t have helped.

      1. Hotdog not dog*

        Same. The manager in question asked me to let him know when I had submitted my application. Otherwise I have never reached out prior to them contacting me.

    6. Chauncy Gardener*

      I personally vote no on emailing hiring managers, if you can even figure out who it might be.
      My company is always hiring. We don’t use a resume scanning service, we review all the resumes ourselves. Calling the hiring manager will just make us think you’re a bit of a pain.

      If you want to stand out in the crowd (our crowd, anyway!) I would do the following:

      1. Write an amazing AAM inspired cover letter, because we read those and they matter

      2. If you have exactly zero of the qualifications, experience, education we’re looking for, please don’t apply!! We get hundreds of resumes for each position with none of anything we’re looking for and no cover letter to explain why the person might be a good candidate. Think a landscaper applying for a software consultant position with no cover letter explaining that he’s making a career change or whatever.

      3. If you happen to know someone at the company to which you are applying, connect with them on LinkedIn and see if they can refer you in

      That’s my opinion for my current (and past several) companies. YMMV!

      1. Rosemary*

        OMG #2!!! I am going through that right now. Plowing through HUNDREDS of resumes, and SO MANY are from people who have NO BUSINESS applying for the role I am hiring for. Like, zip, zilch, nada in terms of experience that is even remotely relevant. I truly do not understand why they do this, when the job posting says explicitly up front what the non-negotiable requirements are. And NO cover letter is going to make up for that.

        1. Chauncy Gardener*

          I KNOW!!!! I don’t understand what these folks are thinking. If a hiring manager is super busy, I’ll go in and do the first pass of resume reviews. I can literally delete at least 75% of the resumes due to them having exactly zero of the must haves.
          Is there some kind of function in Indeed/wherever where they just automatically apply for every.single.job?

        2. Dancing Otter*

          The few times I had to apply for unemployment compensation (Illinois, quite a while ago), there was a requirement to apply for at least # of jobs per week. You had to keep a log, and be able to show it on demand. (There’s less actual paper now, but not less red tape.)

          Nowhere did it say you had to be /qualified/ for those jobs. Further, if you were offered a job and didn’t accept, they cut off your benefits.

          There were exceptions, like lower pay than your previous job, but the burden of proof was on you to appeal.

          So applying for “aspirational” positions was better than taking a chance on a bad offer for a job you could do easily.

    7. Antilles*

      Short version: Yes, they’re wrong.
      Long version:
      If you have a truly legitimate reason to think your application got lost in the email or that you clicked submit but it didn’t seem to go through or something else of that sort, then it’s fine to check. But only if there’s a real reason to worry about it – and here, all you should expect (and all you’ll likely get) is a bland email reply of “yep, looks like it came though, we’ll let you know”.
      Instead when people suggest this, insist it’s a vital part of the process, it’s less of a technical concern about the system bugging out and more of the One Trick To Get Hired. Call the hiring manager to ensure the application is seen, then when they’re on the phone, you can pitch them on it. But that’s blatantly transparent – and again, the hiring manager is likely to just give a bland reply and not change anything about their application review process.
      My cynical explanation: Career coaches need to provide some kind of advice to get people to buy their services. If all they can tell you is the brutal answer of “well, keep applying and roll the dice”, you look at them and think you wasted money. If they instead tell you that they’ve got some secret formula, then they have something to actually sell.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        It makes me think of Thanksgiving food articles. Every year, newspapers/magazines/websites have to come up with something new and creative for their Thanksgiving coverage, when in reality, most people are going to cook the exact thing they cooked last year.

        Also, a lot of people want the “one easy secret” to hacking difficult things (dating, weight loss, getting a job, publishing a book…). “Be qualified for the job, have an excellent resume and cover letter, present well in interviews and come across as someone who will be pleasant to work with to maximize your chances, and then simply hope you’re the top available candidate and the interviewer wasn’t having a bad day” is a lot less appealing than making a single phone call.

    8. Khatul Madame*

      It’s a bad idea and it makes no sense to the hiring manager. Assume that they are a very busy individual who has no time or energy for gratuitous contacts with strangers.
      So what are you trying to say to them? You already indicated that you want this job and consider yourself qualified by applying for the position, and hopefully reinforced these notions in your cover letter. You also submitted your resume that… should be a persuasive argument for hiring you?
      If you already know the hiring manager, you could send them a note that you are interested; if you are connected through someone, you could ask this person to refer you; but DO NOT reach out to a hiring manager if you don’t know them. The risk to annoy them far outweighs any benefits your career coaches may cite.

    9. Decidedly Me*

      Please don’t. It’s annoying and doesn’t help your chances – with some, it may hurt your chances. I don’t count it against anyone, but can’t speak for others.

      I feel like this is old advice that has been adjusted for the digital age. My mom told me after filling out an application (in person), to immediately ask to talk to the hiring manager. By the time I was actually applying for jobs, this was already out of date.

    10. Hiring Mgr*

      Speaking for myself only, it wouldn’t help but wouldn’t hurt either (assuming just one email and not continually messaging). I work in sales though where that type of thing is a little more accepted

    11. ursula*

      They are wrong. I will see your application when I come to the part of the process where I see all the applications. The process we, in fact, designed for seeing applications! We are not soliciting application packages just so we can ignore them. I wish people would stop giving out this bad advice – though email is less irritating to me than a phone call (the worst). I know it’s mostly just job seekers doing what they’ve been told to do, and I’ve been there so I really do get it! But generally any attempt to circumvent the hiring process we designed (without a good reason) is just not welcome.

    12. Storm in a teacup*

      In an old job I did a lot of hiring and for my team of highly specialist professionals so we would generally get 4-10 applicants overall. I would specifically state in the job ad that I was open to being emailed to arrange an informal discussion about the role and truthfully I also found it beneficial.
      When our wider department interviewed for more entry level jobs it would be 50+ applications so this wasn’t possible to offer and I would not have appreciated someone doing as you suggest. It’s a time sink for me.

    13. LadyByTheLake*

      The only exception I can think of to the DON’T email the hiring manager rule is if you have a direct personal connection to them.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Yeah, I asked a few weeks ago about reaching out to a hiring manager I know a little, and I did that, and she wrote a friendly note back, and…. I still haven’t heard anything about an interview. But I know how it goes! She may not even be back from the holidays yet.

    14. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

      I just finished a hiring process and career coaches are out to lunch on this. There is no way I am going to talk to you outside our hiring process. Even the people who were personally recommended by people at the company were not contacted outside the process.

      1. Chilipepper Attitude*

        At old job, NOT talking to applicants outside the hiring process was cast in stone, never to be violated! It could leave us open to discrimination complaints, we were told, and we never, ever shared the hiring manager’s info. If anyone asked us who it was, we would not tell them. We would only say “follow the process.”

    15. Claire Carlyle*

      They are wrong and you’ll likely annoy the hiring manager. I’ve hired for five positions in the past year, and the candidates who requested either a phone call or email wound up asking me questions that were explicitly detailed in the posting. None of the people who reached out outside the hiring process were qualified and none got an interview. The way to get noticed in the hiring process is a killer cover letter and a resume tailored to specifically show how your skills/experience fit the role.

    16. Alex*

      I think the kind of job you are applying for might matter. For lower level jobs in retail or customer service type stuff, sometimes they get SO many applications that they don’t really go through all of them, or don’t have someone whose job is to sit around and evaluate applications, AND (and this is important) they are looking more for a warm body who will reliably show up rather than someone with a certain set of skills, emailing directly can push you to the top of the list. I did get a job this way and my boss said I got it because I emailed directly, he hadn’t actually gone through the applications very much, and just wanted someone eager. My email was an easy way for him to say “ok fine, you!”

      In jobs where they are really “looking for the right candidate” you will have much less luck with that.

    17. Person from the Resume*

      Yes. If you don’t have an actual legimate question not answered in job ad (but is important for you to know and has a quick answer), don’t email “to show you’re interested.” Any good business is going to look at all applications so “ensuring your application is seen” is a BS reason.

      What is the usefulness of bugging (emailing) someone who is presumably quite busy with work with a message to say “hey, I followed your company’s process to apply for a job.” There is not useful information there. If you weren’t interested, you wouldn’t have applied.

    18. Maggie*

      Yes, they are wrong (most of the time) but it works differently everywhere. A lot of times it’s just HR people screening resumes and stuff. Other people find it annoying and will purposefully not interview you. But it’s generally harmless, but pointless. I’m going through the applications in order received whether someone randomly emails me or not. Because them emailing tells me absolutely nothing about the quality of their resume or job experience. For me personally, it’s just an annoyance because an extra pointless email is always an annoyance.

    19. Usernames are required*

      Yes – if you applied then you’re in the system and they’ll be in touch. When I worked in recruiting it was annoying, probably more so because the company had a rigid hiring process. Candidates would track down emails for managers and contact them regarding their applications because “gumption!” But the job postings made it very clear all contact would be made through the hiring website. And I would have cranky managers forwarding me candidate emails – they weren’t impressed with candidates seemingly trying to bypass the process. And also if the manager had responded he would have been in trouble with HR for potentially giving a candidate an advantage.

    20. fhqwhgads*

      They are wrong, unless you personally know the hiring manager from prior to applying. They are ESPECIALLY wrong if the job posting itself says they’re not able to respond to individual messages outside the normal hiring process (and I tend to a message to that effect on 75% of jos postings I see).

  4. penelope lane*

    My boss is grossly incompetent and a micromanager and isn’t going to change. I’m trying to find a new job but in the meantime I need advice on how to approach it when he gives me assignments. He’ll assign me the task, but will tell me what to do and how to do it (incorrectly). I’m at a loss on how to finish the tasks when my approach is correct, while his is wrong, but he thinks he’s right.

    There is a technical platform we use to manage what we do, however my boss had no prior experience with this platform (which frankly should have excluded him from being a candidate for this role), he is still making errors – looking at reporting the wrong way and misreading data after more than six months of being here. The fact that he doesn’t understand this platform but thinks he does accounts for 80% of the issues the rest of my team and I have with him. He’ll pull reports from this platform with either too long or too short a date range (with what I do, we need to have uniform ways of looking at date ranges) and often includes incorrect columns and metric calculations.

    I’ve run into where he’ll give me something to do (which isn’t often), but after I’ve finished it, he’ll give feedback similar to “this isn’t what I want, I want teapots grouped in with cups for the same budget”, and I’m thinking, “you’re looking at the wrong thing. Teapots and cups have different cost/revenue and teapots have a higher customer value, they shouldn’t be grouped together”. Usually I try to give historical context and explain why it’s the setup, he’ll ramble on how he’s right, when he’s actually not understanding our products and the platform.

    How would you approach this? Has anyone dealt with something similar?

    1. ecnaseener*

      Since you’re on your way out, can you just…follow his wrong instructions and let it be wrong? He’s not going to listen to you.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I would also make it extremely clear that the report was generated to the specific instructions of the boss.

        Heck, I’d also include every caveat you could about how the data are being represented, particularly if this is being viewed by a wider audience that needs to know the reports are flawed. “Boss requested X and Y parameters for Comparison A. Caveats: X parameter limits the usefulness of the comparison due to incompatible variables. Y parameter is typically applied to Comparison B, not A. The usual method of comparison, Z parameter, was not used in this report.”

        1. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

          This. The problem of “I am being told to generate nonsense” is not necessarily one you can solve. The problem that’s more important for your own protection is more like “How do I, without annoying boss more than necessary, make clear to any outside observer that I know the sensible answer, had offered the sensible answer, and was explicitly told to do something different.”

          I like what ferrina said about the cheerful attitude, as well. “Sure thing, we can certainly do that, I’ll get right to it!”

      2. Not teenage but still ninja turtle*

        This. I’ve found that, when working for incompetent people, most workplace frustrations can be fixed by doing one thing: care less. Just let it be wrong and move on.

    2. Actuarial Octagon*

      Taking your example of running reports at face value, I’d say you should just give him what he wants, if it’s possible. If he wants to make decisions based on weird data groups that don’t make sense, that isn’t your problem, especially once you get a new job. I wouldn’t use any capital, time, or effort on things that have no repercussions for your reputation.

      With that said, if what he is asking is more client facing (e.g. sending a customer Product B when they’ve clearly asked for Product A), or would hurt your reputation in the field more broadly, then you’ll need to figure out how much room you have to disagree. Or do the correct thing and hope that a happy customer means your boss won’t remember what he asked you to actually do.

    3. ferrina*

      Oof, this is tough because no matter what you do, your boss may still tell you that you’re wrong.

      The main thing here is attitude. Usually with this type of boss, they see your competency as a threat to them. When it’s clear that you know more than they do, then they lash out more. I found that I could move the conversation along by being upbeat and helpful and yes, dumbing myself down a bit. If your inflection implies that you trust the boss’s competence (even when you don’t), it can help them relax a little.

      Once you’ve got the attitude, you can more easily say “We usually do it X way. Will that fit your needs, or would you like it customized?” It’s best if you can do this when the boss first assigns you the task, before they start telling you how to do it. The goal is to 1) tell them the SOP without making it look like you’re telling them stuff they already know (which you are, but they want to save face), 2) show that you’re trying to be helpful to them and 3) CYA so you can say “Boss told me to customize it” (in case it ever comes to that)

      The boss will criticize you, so figure out what makes it more boring for them to criticize you. Sometimes these people will back off if you’re unwaveringly upbeat; sometimes they want a kowtowed apology. Do what you need to to make Boss go away quicker.

      Glad you’re getting out! You’re right that there is no solution to fix this; the goal is to survive while you get out. Good luck in your job search!

      1. Tio*

        If he’s set on you doing it wrong too, you can always try a “Huh, we used to do it X way and I’m not familiar with Y way. Can you show me?” He’s less likely to force a way onto you if he has to show you, but if he does, you can then go “Well X way gives us this result and Y way gives us this result, which one were you looking for?” And that will call out that the methods are not interchangeable. Then if he still gets bad data, you’ll at least have shown him why, even if he won’t accept it.

    4. Terwilliger*

      The options I would explore:
      – Is the grandboss any good? If so, you could try and coordinate with you coworkers and get your concerns heard by someone who can do something about the boss. I recognize this is very unlikely, given that it requires a good grandboss and coordinating with coworkers, but it’s probably the best solution if it’s possible.
      – Completely emotionally divest yourself and do exactly what your boss tells you to do, letting them experience the consequences as much as possible. Dependent on how much you not doing your job correctly would actually cause problems and how long it would take.
      – Emotionally divest yourself and give your boss the correct things, regardless of what your boss has asked for. Dependent on how badly your boss would react and how long it would take them to get used to it. Could be useful if they try and escalate it, and then higher up people can see that your boss doesn’t know how to do their job.

      Honestly, it’s a difficult situation to be in and I feel for you. Good luck on the job hunt.

    5. theletter*

      Run two reports. Send him the one he wants. When problems arise from his report, present the correct one. Someone will figure out what’s wrong.

    6. Dasher*

      I was in a situation similar to this once, and the advice given here is all good. I agree:
      -boss will never change.
      -grandboss may not be much help.
      -you’re in survival mode; just give boss what boss asks for and become less emotionally connected to this work.
      -the advice from ferrina to ask “we usually do it this way. would this work or do you need it customized” is excellent.

    7. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      “I want teapots grouped in with cups for the same budget”

      “Sure thing, here it is. If you’re looking to make a decision based on total budget, just let me know so I can pull teapots back out of the report since they come from different budgets and would give you an accurate picture of how much you actually have”

      Basically following the format of:

      1. Cheerful agreement (‘sure thing! here it is’)

      2. Clarification that what he’s asking for isn’t actually correct (so: ‘If you want [x outcome/decision] you’ll need [different thing than what you asked for] so just let me know and I’ll be happy to pull that’)

      That way it’s in writing that you’re not the dumbass, if he ever makes a decision based on bad data that he specifically asked you to run incorrectly, and it comes back on you.

    8. Nesprin*

      Lots and lots of confirmation emails.
      Boss tells you to do X using methods Y- you email documenting this, suggest method Z instead because of reasons, then ask him what he wants to do.

    9. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      I’m dealing with something kinda similar, though with less incompetence. There are two paths forward:

      1. Talk to your grand-boss very carefully. Frame it like you’re confused / curious about why there has been a change in the way reports are handled and getting some clarification will help you do your job better / more efficiently / allow you to give them what they want. This assumes you have a good relationship with the grand-boss.

      2. Give up and just do the silly things the manager says, but document as much as possible that you’re following his instructions. This is the approach I’m taking these days because I’m tired of arguing with the manager and I suspect that my grand-boss would back her. So it seems like the best plan available to me right now.

  5. New Mom*

    I’m on the job hunt!

    I work in education (not a teacher) and I’ve made the tough decision to leave my company. I’m sad because there are things that I really love about my role that can’t really be replicated elsewhere, but my department is severely understaffed, I’m noticing a weird toxic-positivity culture taking over, and we’re going back in-person which will be two hours of commuting for me. Truthfully, if those three things weren’t true I’d stay. I really enjoy my specific role, I love the people I work with, I’ll be very sad whenever I leave.

    Anyway, onto my question: I’ll be casting a wider net in my job hunt, but some of the places I’ll be applying to are also in the Education field in my mid-sized city so they will know my current employer. My current company, Company A is well known in this field and in our city so I want to have an appropriate answer when people ask “why do you want to leave?” Because honestly, I’m not “ready for a new challenge” I’d really like to stay in my specific role, parts of it are a literal dream and come with some pretty cool prestige, but because we’re so understaffed I’m stuck doing really boring, stressful entry-level work most of the time now and the cooler parts of my role (while still very cool) are becoming a smaller percentage of my day-to-day.

    I want a way to say these things without disparaging Company A, or by admitting that it’s a disaster behind the scenes to our competitors. Of course if I got hired at “Company B” and got to know and trust my new coworkers I would tell them more, but I don’t know how much to say. As it’s a small world in our field, some of the people interviewing me may know higher ups at Company A, so I want to be careful.

    Also, is there a way to bring up the toxic positivity thing? Our new leadership basically does not want to hear the word “no”, even if it’s done very respectfully and provided with examples of how the idea is not feasible. I pride myself in being solutions oriented, and I’m very harmonious and not confrontational so I don’t want it to come across like I’ll be arriving and trying to insert my opinion into every little thing, or being difficult to work with. But I’m genuinely concerned about how the new leadership is creating an environment where people are afraid to disagree with ANYTHING and then get completely burned out by having super unrealistic expectations piled on them.

    I might be over-thinking, it’s been SO LONG since I went to a job interview.

    1. Gracely*

      I think you could say something along the lines of “I want to expand into doing more *what specific role is* but right now that’s not been possible where I am due to factors outside of the company’s control.”

      I think rather than asking specifically about the toxic positivity thing, you should ask questions that will tell you about their approach to solutions/realistic expectations.

    2. Terwilliger*

      I know in my industry (software development) it would be perfectly acceptable to say that you’re looking for a new gig because you’ve been dealing with an understaffed team for a long time. Intelligent interviewers will read between the lines and realize that there’s more going on, but not push it. (Understaffing is never Just understaffing – otherwise people would be clamoring to work there and people would be hired.) I’d also mention the commute thing if it’s relevant to what you want out of a new job. I don’t think bringing up shifting company culture is entirely out of line, but I’d really just focus on what you want out of This Job, rather than what’s wrong with the current one, and I think a good interviewer will accept that and probably appreciate it.

    3. One suggestion*

      One option loosely adapted from when I interviewed for a specific Llama Organizer role moving from a much wider Llama Wrangler and Etc. role

      “I’m interested in moving to a team where I’m able to focus more on (X) duties and roles. My current organization requires each team member to wear many hats, which has be a great opportunity to develop my understanding of the big picture process, but it’s drifting me away from my career goals of (Y)”

      1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

        Yes. “I have been able to get a considerable amount of experience with [boring tasks] and want to round out/increase/dig deeper into my experience with [things you like].”

    4. Binky*

      I think you can just say you’ve been in the role for awhile and you’re looking to grow in a different environment. Mostly you should talk about why you’re interested in the job you’re interviewing for. If you’re looking for a remote position or a shorter commute you could mention that too.

    5. irene adler*

      Generally, you never want to trash talk your current employer. It is hard for an interviewer to think the best of you given they just met you and don’t have any idea of the type of person you are (once hired, are you gonna be trash talking OUR company???).

      Reframe things: instead of telling the interviewer why you wish to leave current job, state what attracts you to the job you are interviewing for. “I’m interested in continuing my role as llama groomer like I did at Company A. However, I read on your website about valuing employee contributions. That very much tipped the scale for me to apply for this job.”

    6. Hlao-roo*

      I’d really like to stay in my specific role, … but because we’re so understaffed I’m stuck doing really boring, stressful entry-level work

      Instead of “ready for a new challenge!” can you say something along the lines of “I’ve really enjoyed [cool tasks] in the past, but my role has shifted to away from those tasks and I was excited to see the ad for [job you’re applying for] because it includes [cool tasks + something else positive from the job ad].” Stating that your role at Company A includes fewer and fewer cool tasks is not disparaging them, as long as you keep it brief and say it in a neutral tone.

      1. ferrina*

        +1
        This was going to be my recommendation. This will also help weed out any companies who want you to spend your time on Boring Tasks.

    7. AnonyMouse*

      Depending on how long you’ve worked at your current job (even if you are planning a lateral move) something generic like “I’m interested in learning new things” is probably best. You could also try something like “I’m interested in growing in my role in a way my current company unfortunately can’t support”. Implying there are issues with the company isn’t forbidden in job searching but (in my experience) the more broad and generic you make those problems sound is better. E.g., “The company is doing some reorganizing” vs. “They’re talking about firing my whole department”.

    8. Purple Cat*

      I think you can definitely say “Due to staffing concerns I’ve had to focus on this narrow part of my role that I don’t enjoy as much and am looking forward to focusing more on Y instead”.
      I’m not sure you can specifically talk about the toxic positivity. I want to say you could say “The culture has been changing in ways I don’t enjoy” but that begs for follow-ups. I would focus on the work.

      1. New Mom*

        I would definitely never mention “toxic positivity” in the interview stage, I’m actually not even sure if that is a real term I just don’t know what to call it. I’m so sad that it’s happening at my company though, I work with really smart people so it seems like such a waste.

        1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

          It is a real term (i.e., you didn’t make it up). Barbara Ehrenreich wrote a good book about the subject, Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking Is Undermining America. Ehrenreich’s focus was on the United States, but this is not a uniquely American problem.

    9. ecnaseener*

      If I were you I’d just cite the return to in-person work and the long commute. That’s enough in itself, no one’s going to be sniffing for more or judging you for not having more reasons.

    10. SofiaDeo*

      Are you looking for more remote work, due to the commute? Any place that’s closer than a 2 hour commute should understand something along the lines of “Company A is moving back to in-person work, and unfortunately that now means a 2 hour commute, which (no longer/doesn’t) work(s) for me.” The “no longer is if you used to do it. No slur on the company, it’s a situational problem.

      I am also not sure why you can’t address the fact that your job has changed from the higher level B back to entry level A. Significant change in actual jobs duties is a neutral reason to leave, I would think.

      I don’t understand why it’s so important to address the “toxic positivity” thing. I am not sure there is a politic way to say “my company is being unrealistic about expectations and outcomes, and denying that they exist when mentioned/discussed.” I am assuming “toxic positivity” at the workplace is related to your boss ignoring the work problems/refuse to address them, and the fact that certain outcomes are impossible under the current circumstances. If you ask to meet your boss/team, is there a way to ask questions that might help you discern this might occur? Someway to see if the expected workload output is overall unreasonable for a given timeframe?

      1. Person from the Resume*

        That was my thought. As long as the company you’re applying to has a better commute or allows WFH, I’d use the 2 hour commute and having to go into the office as the reason you’re leaving.

        I think understaffing forcing you into the boring, stressful entry-level work is another good factual, not bad-mouthing reason as long as you don’t think the job you’re apply to will also have you doing lots of the boring, stressful entry-level work.

    11. Irish Teacher.*

      I would think the commute alone is a reasonable reason. You wouldn’t even have to mention in-person versus remote. Just “I’m looking for something closer to home as I currently spend a lot of time commuting.”

      Long commutes are probably the most common reason I’ve heard of people wanting to leave jobs.

      The suggestion of mentioning that you’d like to spend more time on cool parts of the job and your current role requires you spend more time on less cool stuff also sounds good (obviously not referring to them as cool parts and less cool stuff!)

    12. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      Honestly, the way I approach this question is to talk about why I want to join New Team vs. why I want to leave Old Team. It shows you have an understanding of the role you’re interviewing for and doesn’t disparage Old Team. Focus on future vs. past.

    13. Random Dice*

      “I want a new challenge” is just the appropriate thing to say.

      Few people *actually* want a new challenge, they want better pay, or a boss who’s not a sack full of rabid ferrets, or a company not run by bigots/creeps/incompetents.

      But saying any of those candid things are so far outside the professional norm that actually saying them is a giant red flag.

      Hiring managers know the deal. I’ve asked that question before, knowing there was a story, but also wanting to hear how professional they are. And yes, later I’ve learned the true story, though usually over time and hinted at rather spelled out.

      1. Random Dice*

        Though to be clear, you need a paragraph about the new challenge – what you’re interested in about the new job, with specifics about what and why. You need to come across as genuine, and looking forward.

  6. Burning Out on Burn Out*

    I have a work title question.

    I’m on the job hunt and Im a little confused by these two titles.

    Managing Director of Teapots
    This role works with directors of teapots (multiple people with Teapots Director are listed on the Team page)
    Director of Llama grooming
    The role works with the Senior Lead of Llama Grooming

    Since both JDs say “works with” and does not specify who reports to whom, I’m not sure if I’m applying to be the boss of the other role or the direct report of the other role. Any insight?

    1. Glomarization, Esq.*

      I think this question might get more helpful answers if you can give the true job titles and industry you’re talking about, rather than the usual teapots and llamas pseudonyms. (Honestly, I think that’s the case with just about all the questions on the open thread, though maybe it’s just me since I tend to be a concrete thinker.)

      1. Burning Out on Burn Out*

        I was just being paranoid, but actually the titles are still pretty generic:

        Managing Director of Partnerships working with Partnerships Directors

        and Partnerships Director working with Senior Lead of Partnerships

        1. Tio*

          That reads to me like Managing Director > Partnerships Director > Senior Lead is at least the hierarchy, if not the reporting structure.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      In my world, directors are above managers, but this is definitely phrased weirdly. Unless the manager’s team provides support to multiple areas.

      1. Not a Real Giraffe*

        but it’s not a manager, it’s a Managing Director, which is a totally different job title.

        1. Directorial Manager of Managing Directors*

          Yes. In my org, a “director” is someone who oversees vision, scope, big picture stuff, whereas a “managing director” is someone who oversees a group of related managers (there’s one managing director for all the administrative managers, and one for all the facilities, etc.)

          We don’t use these exact titles but close enough that I’d understand it if I saw it on someone’s resume

    3. Not a Real Giraffe*

      In my company (legal-adjacent), and to the best of my knowledge of financial-adjacent fields: Managing Director is the senior-most level before the C-Suite. A director-level person may not report directly to that MD, but would certainly be junior to them and would be supporting their work. Similarly, a Senior Lead would be junior to a Director and, while maybe not reporting directly to that Director, would support their work.

      1. ferrina*

        This is also true in my industry (Consulting).
        Managing Directors oversee Directors, and the Directors oversee a smaller team including regular Managers and Leads. So the Managing Directors is the one who manages the Directors, making them higher up the org chart.

    4. Purple Cat*

      To me, this reads as differences in the size of the team/seniority.
      A managing director is in charge of other directors. So very high level, with a very autonomous team of directors underneath.
      A Director of Llama Grooming is a step below and has a Senior Lead of Llama grooming reporting to them.
      Unlike feedback below, do NOT email the hiring manager, but if desperate, you can email the recruiting contact for clarification.
      If these are from the same company, they just seem to have a “thing” against saying someone “manages” someone else and simply says “works with”.

    5. Hen in a Windstorm*

      I can only guess, but it sounds like they are using “works with” to mean “manages”.

    6. Lost my name again*

      It sounds like multiple directors report to the managing directors. Same with the team lead reporting to the director.

      In terms of hierarchy
      Managing director
      Director
      Senior team lead

    7. Person from the Resume*

      I think you need to ask. There’s no rule of what titles like this mean.

      However I’d think the Managing Director of Teapots might supervise/manage multiple Teapots Directors and in turn the teams under them.

      I’m guessing the Director of Llama grooming is the boss of Senior Lead of Llama Grooming who is the technical expert of Llama grooming but doesn’t have the same supervisory responsibility. Like maybe “lead” isn’t officially a supervisor and you director is everyone on the Llama Grooming team’s supervisor while the Senior Lead handles the technical questions and directions about Llama grooming.

      But all organizations do it differently so I think you have to ask.

    8. linger*

      That phrasing “X works with Y” is very likely telling you two things, about hierarchy and style:
      (i) “X is the manager of Y”; but (ii) “we think of ourselves as collaborative”, so that’s at least partly “X listens to and facilitates the work of Y”.

      1. linger*

        So in an interview you should expect to be asked about your management style; but also you should ask what the day-to-day looks like for the role in question, and listen for how they expand management tasks in their answer.

  7. aarti*

    Is it going to do anything? I normally just count myself grateful to go to a new place. If you had to though, I might stick with feeling unappreciated and undervalued because of x,y,z. Do you count on this reference:?

  8. Minimal Pear*

    So I’m allergic to a lot of fragrances. I actually just got diagnosed with a pretty big allergy-related chronic illness. This hasn’t been too much of an issue at work so far–at one office, I had a coworker who used an essential oil diffuser but there was only one oil I had to ask her to stop using.
    It also hasn’t been a problem at my current job, because we’re mostly remote and masked/distanced in person, which cuts down on scents. However, we recently hired someone new, and when I met her in person she was wearing HEAVY fragrance. Still, I figured I would rarely see her in person, so it wouldn’t matter. If push came to shove, I could ask her not to wear whatever it is on days we’re both in the office.
    But I went into the office recently, and was the only one there. I felt like I was reacting to something, I kept smelling something weird… and then I went in her office to drop something off. The smell was much stronger in there. She was in the office the day before and her perfume is so strong that most of the (large) office still smells of it! At least, I’m pretty sure that’s what’s going on.
    I’m not sure why, but it feels a little weird to me to ask her to avoid whatever fragrance this is anytime she goes into the office, since she goes in a lot more than I do. Does anyone have a suggestion for how to talk to her about it? Should I do it in person or over chat? (It won’t kill me to be around her in person, but I’ll be uncomfortable. It’ll also be a while before I see her in person again.)
    I don’t need her/the office to be fragrance free, at least as things stand now. I feel like making this an official accommodations request would mean it’d be weird to single her out, so I’m leaning towards doing this informally.

    1. KT*

      Allison has actually answered a couple questions about fragrance sensitivities! I very much suggest checking them out.

      1. Minimal Pear*

        I did look at them, but I didn’t feel like they quite fit my situation/the specific details I’m worried about.

      2. Random Dice*

        I had to do that once, with someone who sat near me. Her perfume sillage – the scent residue trail – gave me migraines and nausea, enough to make me lose hours of work. She was very nice, and I was very nervous, but I just approached it very politely and matter of factly. She complied and it was fine.

        That said, I have found that remote work has been a very effective ADA reasonable accommodation, for that and other health issues.

    2. Xavier Desmond*

      I would do it in person. Over chat it can be difficult to judge tone so you may appear passive aggressive without meaning to. I think your instinct of having an informal chat is the right way to go.

      1. Minimal Pear*

        Yeah, I’d like to do it in person… I’m a little worried that a) it’ll be a while before I see her in person and I’ll have to deal with the scent lingering in the office during that time, and b) talking to her in person will make me pretty symptomatic. I wrote this up a few days ago, and after writing it, ended up having some more/worse symptoms that might be from being exposed to her perfume. (But could also be from something else, who knows.)

        1. Binky*

          I think you might be better off documenting your allergies and requesting an accommodation of no fragrances. Then HR/your boss can handle. Asking someone to wear “less” fragrance is hard, because they generally can’t tell that they’re wearing too much to start with.

        2. snoopythedog*

          Sounds like you need to do it over chat then, only because you will still suffer the symptoms until you two are in the office at the same time (unless you can rig it so you are both in the office at the same time soon). I think it actually gives you some credence to wait until you are actually in the office and having symptoms, then send her a chat- so it’s clear that even when she’s not there, the lingering fragrance is a big issue and she needs to not wear fragrance to the office ever, instead of not wearing it just when you will be in.

          If you have a good boss, I’d also loop them in casually in your next convo in a “just so you know” kind of way. Like, “I just thought I’d loop you in that x’s fragrance use is affecting me because the fragrance lingers even when she’s not there. I’ve reached out to her directly to deal with it, but I thought I’d just give you a heads up to keep you in the loop”

        3. SofiaDeo*

          When you go into the office, is it such that you are generally in one specific office/desk for most of the time? I ask because if so, perhaps a small air sanitizer may help. They emit small amounts of both positive and negative ions and thus “clamp” onto various molecules in addition to molds, viruses, dust, pollen. So even if it’s a combo of perfume/bad air, it should help. When I was consulting, I routinely traveled with an ergonomic keyboard, small full spectrum task light, and small air purifier. I have numerous allergies. My current favorites are from hypoair.com.

        4. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          Instead of chat, I strongly suggest picking up the phone (since in person isn’t a good option).

          Option to send a chat firsr asking, “Hi, do you have a few minutes for a call with me? I have a slightly awkward, but work-related question.”

        5. Qwerty*

          Can you do a phone or video call?

          Also talk to your boss about accomodations so she can proactively tell new team members in the future and you can settle on what the team fragrance policy is.

          If you are worried about this coworker feeling singled out, it might be worth having a video call with a couple other coworkers who you also see regularly in the office for a light version of the talk. That way you are covering your bases and not blaming her entirely.

    3. Terwilliger*

      I would honestly wonder if it is for sure your coworker. It does seem the most likely thing, but based on the limited information I have, I would honestly make it a more general thing with an official accommodations request. It may seem like overkill, but it also means that you put in a lot more effort at once, then any problems are mostly eliminated and you have backup to handle any and all problems that do come up. (Assuming good management/HR)

    4. Raspberry*

      Do you mind sharing about your fragrance based chronic illness? I’m a fellow scent allergy sufferer.

      1. Minimal Pear*

        It’s not fragrance-specific, but I was very recently diagnosed with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, which is essentially “many weird allergies to everything all of the time” syndrome. Mine is pretty mild, compared to some people I’ve seen, but it still really messes me up. (And that’s why I wasn’t replying to people much when I posted this–either the scent exposure or something else was making me flare up and my brain wasn’t working very well.)

    5. Distractinator*

      With Covid precautions, air purifiers and HEPA filters have become a common thing to have or to ask for. Would a purifier in her space or your space make a difference?

  9. Terwilliger*

    Anyone have any success stories of negotiating to work fewer hours? I’m managing at the moment, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to manage my health and personal obligations while working full-time, and I’d like to explore my options.

    1. TPS reporter*

      With FMLA and state leave policies, you can essentially work part time if you qualify. Your condition for example could qualify for intermittent medical leave if a doctor verifies. I would look into your HR policies.

      1. Anonymoose*

        Seconding FMLA, and “reduced schedule leave” is another variation like, but a bit different from, intermittent leave.

    2. Shira*

      IMO you could, if there are any part-time jobs open at your company that you’re qualified for, ask about applying to and switching to one of those as an internal transfer. If your company doesn’t have part-time jobs open, it might be a sign that moving to part time could be difficult for you and you’d be better off seeking an external position. I don’t think my team has or has ever had any part-timers who aren’t temp or freelance, so it would be difficult for someone to negotiate to switch away from full-time because we just don’t have the infrastructure for it.

      1. Shira*

        TPS is correct that you could also take leave — if you feel that would help your health situation that may be a more realistic option.

    3. Terwilliger*

      I guess it’s important to note that this is a health problem that is both chronic and incurable, though there are good periods and worse periods, so I’m looking for something that is workable for the duration of my time working here.

      Other things to note is that we hire a TON of students from the local university (pretty sure students make up like 15% of our company of about 1000 employees), so there’s plenty of experience working around differing schedules, I just haven’t seen it in anyone who isn’t a student. I guess my biggest hangup is the benefits situation (obligatory heavy sigh about US health care). So hearing from freelancers and contractors would also be helpful.

      1. Shira*

        Yeah students are generally a different situation because they’re temporary — I wouldn’t assume they’ll give you one of those jobs if you are looking for something longer-term. But you could definitely ask about it

    4. Sloanicota*

      I quit an old job to freelance, then came back part time for two years 16 months later. I now work four out of five days a week as a full time employee who just works less hours. I think it would be very difficult to change your existing role to just work less, because they’re going to be used to thinking of you a certain way. It might be easier to job-search for part time or contract roles.

    5. Half Time*

      I was only able to negotiate this by becoming an independent contractor. This meant I had to buy-pay for my own health insurance & hustle to find work. I also had to form a corporation. It’s an industry-dependent option & can work well, but can be a big transition.

    6. The New Wanderer*

      If your company has a policy on part time that would make it way easier. My company had that option, although I didn’t know about it for years until a colleague said something. I was able to negotiate to 32.1+ hours/week which allowed me to keep full benefits (prorated vacation/sick leave accrual).

    7. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      It will partly depend on your job and what its cycles look like.

      For example, a job that has daily tasks might be achievable in 5x6h for 75% pay, whereas a job that involves taking it in turns to provide reception coverage might be better as 4x8h for 80% pay. Are you the only one with your job title or one of a team of ten?

      In my country you have the right to ask, and the employer has to have a business case to be able to refuse or adjust your request. Reasons I’ve heard for legit refusal include “no, we need coverage on Mondays” or “we need a single person in this job so you need to be in every day”.

      Ultimately your proposal will be more likely to succeed if you approach it like the “I receive / you receive” meme. Try to anticipate what the objections would be, and mitigate/obviate them.

      Best of luck.

    8. Texan In Exile*

      In early 2021, a former co-worker negotiated the entire month of August off, unpaid.

      But he is really valuable to the company – they wanted to promote him to VP and he declined. I think this annual sabbatical is the only way they think they can keep him.

      For context – he’s an engineer in R&D at an engineering company.

      1. Shira*

        yeah this happened at my company too. we had a senior VP negotiate a three-month personal leave, then a middle manager requested the same thing and was denied. we were all frustrated on the middle manager’s behalf and he ended up leaving the company over it but unfortunately it is the way some companies think about this stuff

    9. lost academic*

      Yes, and I supported my staff for the same. Everyone I’ve been involved with came at it from a position of strength in terms of their value to the company and a true need (in that the rejection of fewer hours was clearly going to result in a very early departure). You need to come up with a basic game plan for what it’ll look like and if at all possible a consistent schedule so that your absence isn’t as much of a drain on those relying on your advice and support. I’ve had people that just didn’t work Fridays (that’s been OK, predictable) and people who just had a lower hour cap on the week to allow for family and health emergencies (daycare closures in the pandemic topping that list). Sometimes it’s been short term and sometimes it’s been permanent. I also lucked into an amazing person who’s really grown in their career because at the company we were both at in the past they got enormous pushback on requesting part time hours (30). The things said to them had me seeing red and permanently losing respect for people.

      Communication is key. Show you’re on top of that as clearly as possible.

    10. Girasol*

      If you’re exempt, look out for job expansion. One of the fellows where I work negotiated half time for health reasons. But since those who supposedly work a full 40 hours a week were expected to actually work 50-60 hours, his 20 hour week soon expanded to 35 hours a week at half pay, and he had to quit.

    11. DJ*

      Do your preparation i.e. how much would you like to decrease your hours, are you wanting the same time off or happy to switch days or hours if needed. What parts of your job could be given to someone else, what would you keep? If it does mean your employer needs to employ an additional staff member is there someone you could suggest/recruitment sources for part time casual staff i.e. students. Are you happy to disclose your reasons or not? If so ask your doctor for a letter. Do you think dropping your hours for a set period of time would work, i.e. regain your health, so you could suggest a trial.
      Are there other solutions such as a hybrid working/working from home/office arrangement, more flexible working hours.

    12. Not a Nurse*

      Speaking of US healthcare, many hospitals and health systems offer full-time benefits to part-time nurses. (My sister-in-law and others I know worked 2 12-hour shifts on weekends only and had the same benefits as 40-hour staff.) Some states require that they offer the same opportunities to staff in other roles.
      And doesn’t the affordable care act require employers to treat 30 hour employees as full-tine for benefit purposes? It might mean you need to change jobs, but there may be options to explore.

  10. not close enough to the office*

    My company just abruptly announced that everyone is required to work from the office at least two days a week, starting two weeks from now. This came as a shock, since they embraced having a remote workforce early on and even downsized the office space to about 30% of the original capacity a year ago in response to an employee poll that was overwhelmingly in favor of remaining remote. My boss said it came from someone in upper management with no input from anyone she knew in leadership. She said not to worry, she would be pushing back hard and we would not have to go back. But the announcement was forceful and while it’s physically impossible for everyone to be there on the same days, it might not be if days were staggered and I’m not confident my boss has the power to do anything if the return to work order gets modified for feasibility. Considering the nationwide push, do you think it’s likely to be enforced? My company is large and generally stable, but we’ve had some negative business developments lately that make me think leadership might not care about retaining everyone.

    1. ferrina*

      It really depends. I wouldn’t look at national trends on this; I’d look at internal trends.

      Does your company/this person have a history of making decrees then walking them back? Are your coworkers planning to return to office, or will they quietly say “Nah”? Where are other leaders on this? Are the exceptions that your boss can grant you? Who will be checking that you are there twice a week? (for example, could you start by going in once a week and taking the pulse?)

      I’m sorry, this is really stressful. Good luck!

      1. ecnaseener*

        I would add to this, is your manager generally good at office politics / making these sorts of predictions? If so, maybe she knows something you don’t about that senior person being on thin ice already, etc. But if she doesn’t have great judgment about these things and is just being blindly optimistic, I’d guess she’s wrong.

      2. not close enough to the office*

        There isn’t a history of this, I’ve been there several years and haven’t seen anything like this, normally the company is very flexible with us. But here have been some changes in upper management in the last several months, so it could be that one or more of them are up to speed and starting to assert themselves. My boss has been there almost a decade, but that wouldn’t matter if this is due to new leadership.

        We can’t get in the building without a badge swipe, so that would be an easy way to check attendance. >:|

    2. Anon for this one*

      I’m going to put on my tinfoil hat and call it a “quiet layoff.” I know I’ve been reading too many “bosses are taking advantage of recession fears to force people back to the office” articles and need to touch grass, but it really feels like a manufactured push to get the pendulum to swing back and return power to employers.

      1. not close enough to the office*

        That’s what I’m afraid of too. We’d fit in the new office space better if some of the loudest protesters got fired to make an example. Six months ago I’d have sworn that would never happen here, but the announcement was really out of character.

    3. Purple Cat*

      Since it sounds like your boss isn’t on board with this edict, I would just “not go in”.
      But I would also polish up your resume and start looking at other options in case push comes to shove.

    4. Traswilihar*

      Yes, this is likely to be enforced. You are going to see a tsunami of return-to-office in 2023. Fewer WFH jobs across the board, combined with the threat of a recession, is going to make it difficult for people to threaten to walk if they cannot work from home.

      It was unrealistic to think that all WFH all the time would last forever.

    5. DJ*

      Work with your boss to produce evidence that WFH is working.
      I have a difficult long commute to my office. Since WFH commenced March 2020 I’ve been more productive, used my video conferencing/multimedia/video editing skills to ensure smooth online meetings and sessions, and even more tangibly my sick leave has dropped from 10-12 days per year to 1.5 over nearly 3 years.
      They have tried to do that at my workplace but sections vary from going in a couple of days pw to once a month. Also some ppl want to be in the office more taking up office space making it easier for those who can’t to not go in.

    6. Kara*

      Your boss may not have the power to officially push back, but they may have the power to look the other way and not say anything if none of their direct reports show up.

  11. Kimmy Schmidt*

    Flipping the script on the jargon post from yesterday, is there any corporate jargon that you inexplicably love or overuse? I have a weird love for “put a pin in it” because I grin evilly inside and know that pin is unlikely to ever come out.

    1. Law School Student*

      I don’t know if this is corporate jargon, but I’m obsessed with say “can we connect” or “let’s connect” rather than meet, talk, chat, text, or literally anything else haha

      1. snoopythedog*

        I feel like this one makes sense, given then multitude of options for ‘connecting’ right now- text, chat, email, in person meeting, video call, regular call, video call with just audio…

      2. Richard Hershberger*

        A century or so back, complaints about “contact” as a verb were a staple. The argument was that it is vague, and one should use a specific verb such as “call” or “write.” This was a stupid argument, as it presumes that specificity was necessary, or even desirable, in all contexts. Nowadays the complaint seems quaint, or even incomprehensible. This use of “connect” is similar, but has a slightly different connotation. “Can we connect?” is not quite the same as “Can we contact each other?” If nothing else, its being intransitive opens it up to useful constructions. “Can we contact?” is gibberish.

        1. Not A Manager*

          Ha! “Can we contact” is only gibberish now, and only barely. If I heard someone 5 minutes from now saying, “let’s contact on that,” I would know exactly what they meant and would barely blink. I can totally imagine “can we contact” becoming the next “touch base” or “circle back.”

    2. I have a question part 2*

      I like “circle back around” or “circle back” or variations of that. Something in the visual –– we’ve left a topic and are quite literally making a turn to come back around to a spot we previously passed –– makes it seem very non-threatening to me.

    3. Interplanet Janet*

      As someone who is usually one of the first stops for questions of every flavor, people can pry “Let me loop in So-and-So on this” from my carpal tunneled hands.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Same! People often send me questions that I am only peripheral on. But I usually know who needs to be included.

    4. KayDeeAye*

      I have to say that I am kind of fond of “herding cats.” I mean, it’s wildly overused, but before it became a cliche, it was just so darn vivid!

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        I usually use “herding drunk cats”, as my cats that I need to herd are usually even less cooperative than a generic cat, and they like to scatter in every direction.

    5. Antilles*

      I’m a huge fan of the phrase “stand-up meeting” (and the concept too!) because it very directly conveys that this meeting should be fast, get in and get out, this isn’t a meeting to derail or go into excessive detail.

      1. tessa*

        Similarly, my boss uses the phrase “pop-up” for quick meetings. Of course, hearing it sends me daydreaming about the old “Pop-Up Video” show on VH-1. Maybe that’s why I actually like the term, as that show was fun.

        1. Vio*

          I don’t know about the US but sadly the UK version was only ever the same few videos every single time. Even now I can remember there was a song by Jewel, Breakfast At Tiffany’s by Deep Blue Something and Wicked Game by Chris Isaak. I wonder if the UK only had rights to one episode or something… they’d also sometimes have the “Pop-Up” versions in amongst the regular music video rotations

    6. OrdinaryJoe*

      I’m slowly becoming aware of how often I say “and go from there” ie. “Let’s do (some action item) and go from there” to indicate I need further action or an ‘in between’ step before we make any big changes or take further action.

      My team tend to want to leap from A to M and I prefer at least to glance or look at step D and H before we get to M :-)

      1. Kimmy Schmidt*

        This reminded me, I also love “action item”. I’m obsessive about ending every meeting with “here are the X action items before our next meeting”. I probably have at least one colleague who secretly hates it

        1. Nannerdoodle*

          I love action items as well! At an old job, after every meeting I ran (that had action items), I’d send out the list of action items and who was in charge of them.

      1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

        I say “chat me on Teams/Slack” because I don’t like “ping” and also don’t like “message” for something quick and chat-worthy. lol

      2. CrankyIsta*

        I’m with you–I like ping! Maybe because I knew the original use and use it in much the same way? Pinging to see if someone is available?

        1. Admin of Sys*

          Yes, this! Because to me ‘ping’ means ‘acknowledge if you’re not busy, and this is just a check to see if you have some spare cycles’, rather than a direct question / invite into a conversation. So if I don’t get an ack from a ping, I assume they’re busy and switch to email / other delayed communications.

        2. RagingADHD*

          I like “ping” because I forever hear Sean Connery saying “One ping only, Vassily.”

      3. fhqwhgads*

        I think if the person using “ping” in a non-computing context also knows what it means in a computing context, I tend to be less irked by it than one someone uses it who clearly doesn’t. I don’t know why exactly. With a lot of the things in the list from the other post, those phrases are idiomatic English and thus, while they may or may not annoy me, they’re not all “jargon”. Ping falls into a weird grey area where it probably started as jargon, but now is veering toward general idiom, but it’s not quite there. Part of my vexation with jargon in general is that it’s often close-to-nonsense, whereas “ping” – when used as synonymous for human reaching out to other human – is more of a metaphor. So, I guess…if someone knows they’re using the metaphor and doing it on purpose, ok fine. Not the phrase I’d use, but whatever. But if someone’s using it just because it’s a hip-new-thing people are saying, then it tends to irk.

      4. Squawkberries*

        Ping is a technical term if you are doing network engineering (computery / internet stuff). It means to send a brief message explicitly for the purpose of checking that the recipient is awake, available, functioning.

        But I love it for the nerdiness. Especially if the message just says “ping” and I can reply “pong”.

    7. CTT*

      I use “etiquette” a lot – I’m a lawyer and since I’m in a big firm, I get looped into new situations semi-regularly and it’s good shorthand for “tell me the appropriate way to work with this new client/request something from this scary old partner/etc.”

      1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        I use ‘atmospherics’ to mean a similar
        thing: the context for a situation I am/someone is about to walk into.

    8. Sloanicota*

      My old boss used to say she was “out of pocket” meaning out of reach and I love it, although it apparently has other meanings and can be confusing.

      1. londonedit*

        Yeah, a few of us said on the other post but where I’m from ‘out of pocket’ means being shorted money in some way (like ‘I paid for faster delivery but it didn’t arrive for five days, so now I’m out of pocket for that cost’). I find it a bit jarring when I see it being used to mean ‘out of reach’.

    9. Storm in a teacup*

      I’m slightly embarrassed to say I love ‘touch base’ as it’s signifying I need to catch up with someone but don’t want to say meeting as it sounds too formal.

      Also I use ‘monkeys’ a lot. As in ‘not my monkey’ for something that’s a crazy problem that I don’t want offloaded onto me

      1. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

        I think “touch base” is fine as a verb, for things like “quickly update on how far we’ve got by then, and see what makes sense next”. For me it has the specific connotation of “there’s a good reason to communicate, but we’re not gonna get deeply into things just then, only update each other & maybe plan one more step”.

        That post the other day was the first time I’d heard it as a noun, and I was unconvinced :-)

    10. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I could probably have my own post on it. They’re so rife my speech and correspondences that documenting them all would be beyond exhausting.

      I loved Cheers growing up, so you’d hear me say “ring me back if you need anything” or “I’ll ring you when it’s ready” in a deliberate callback to the pilot.

    11. ursula*

      I was surprised by some of the things in that jargon conversation that I just consider everyday colloquialisms, and it makes me wonder where the line is. I consider both “at the end of the day” and “it is what it is” to be pretty casual, common, unoffensive sayings – the kind of thing that pepper everyone’s speech, whether they’re aware of it or not! I wouldn’t have thought to put those in the same category as, say, “disruption”, or “innovation”, or “touch-base” (especially as a noun, as a substitute for meeting) or “circle back”. Or SMART goals, god.

      1. Kimmy Schmidt*

        I started using SMART goals in a jokey, ironic way with friends (“But is your grocery list SMART?”) and now I can’t STOP

        1. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

          I have never heard anyone in my org refer to SMART goals by name/acronym, so when I occasionally use it, know one knows what I’m talking about; unless I explain, they seem to think I just mean non-acronym smart goals, like well-chosen or advantageous ones.

          I wouldn’t mind if the acronym got overused if that corresponded to more goals actually being specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and timely. We don’t seem to be very good at achieving–or even recognizing– all those considerations irrespective of how they’re called out.

      2. RagingADHD*

        That’s because a lot of the things people were complaining about in that post are in fact common idioms that are widely used outside of work, and not corporate jargon at all.

    12. time for cocoa*

      One of my project managers LOVES to say we need to “blow up the BOMs” meaning that we need to expand all levels of bills of materials. This comes up surprisingly often, since we are doing a product discontinuation audit. I always imagine that there are disappointed feds eavesdropping on our meetings, looking for something that isn’t there.

    13. reject187*

      I like “Moving forward” or “Going forward” because it indicates that there might have been one standard previously, but we’re going to be doing things differently in the future.

    14. Lolli*

      I love, “Let’s take that offline”. It means someone is considering everyone else’s time when an issue comes up in a meeting, that doesn’t involve everyone in the meeting. Confession: I overuse, “I’ll reach out to …” instead email, call, or even contact.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        I have a love/hate relationship with “let’s take that offline”. I appreciate attempts to stop a derail. However, when it bugs me is when it’s used as 100% synonymous with “talk about that later”. If I’m in a web meeting with someone, and they say “let’s take that offline” but what they really mean is “talk about it in a different web meeting”, like…no, that’s still online.

    15. DancinProf*

      Maybe because I’m currently doing it, I love the expression “building the plane while we’re flying it.” And I agree with those yesterday who appreciate “hard stop”–it’s definitive, yet reveals nothing.

      1. slashgirl*

        Yeah, the plane one. That’s where our library staff are in relation to our new, home-grown library automation program (We used to have Alexandria but, apparently, it got “too expensive” for tech support. I’m doubtful on this since the head of tech ed told us that and I don’t trust him), which was launched in September without ANY of the library tech’s having looked at it–and several of us had offered to do so over the summer, without pay. And the guy who’s written it, while he’s done good for the time he had? Does not have a library background and it shows.

        The other day one of the guidance teachers commented that our board often does the “building the plane while we’re flying it”–and it resonated with me, big time.

    16. Kettle Belle*

      I’ve come to love “I don’t have the Bandwidth…” we tend to use this phrase alot in my group. I also like “let’s Circle back” and “Take this offline”

    17. Snarky McSnarkerson*

      We use “close the loop” a LOT. It means that you circle back to the requestor to confirm that what they asked you to do was done.

    18. Purple Cat*

      Every time I hear “Put a pin in it” I visualize a balloon exploding :) So not quite the intended message, but same takeaway as Kimmy Schmidt.

    19. another academic librarian*

      Not sure that it counts as jargon.
      When someone wants me to do something that is “in their wheelhouse” I usually say wish I could but I am “at capacity”

      If they are not in front of me, my mantra is “not my circus, not my monkeys”
      If it is a colleague who wants to discuss, “I am keeping my eyes on my own plate”

    20. lost academic*

      Post mortem. We all love the concept and we almost never really do them so I push hard to get them in. It’s also delightfully gruesome (and honestly, how many project post mortems are done on rollicking success stories?).

      Shoot, I need to start writing it into the budget.

      1. Aitch Arr*

        See also “bandwidth.”

        Any tech/geek terms that have been adopted into corporate jargon I like.

    21. slashgirl*

      “Above my pay grade”–not sure how office common it is, I picked up from my step dad who was ex forces. But yeah, there’s so much that I can’t do anything about because–it IS above my pay grade.

    22. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

      A client introduced me to the phrase “crisp in execution” and I loved it because it was the most diplomatic way I’ve heard someone express that everyone needed to not screw around and actually get something right the first time.

      1. tessa*

        ““crisp in execution”

        Oh, man, my first thought on that before reading the rest of your comment was…The Chair. I gotta stop watching so much true crime.

    23. lilyp*

      There was once a comment section here that made me feel inordinately defensive of “optics”. I know it can be overused by people trying to be pretentious, but it really does concisely convey the relatively nuanced concept of “people might perceive an issue with this, and even though *we* know that issue isn’t real or doesn’t matter, the negative perception could be is it’s own issue”. I just don’t think there’s a better less-jargony synonym that captures all the same connotations.

    24. Alternative Person*

      Variations on ‘let’s park this for …’

      It comes in handy when we’re juggling lots of things and need to prioritize what we’re going to do in the short/medium/long term.

  12. I have a question part 2*

    I posted last Saturday in the open (personal) thread about receiving midlife autism diagnoses (among women). I’d like to follow that up with a work question.

    If you received an autism diagnosis, or you self-diagnosed as autism, did you decide to disclose that at work or not? Why?

    (Thank you for helping me think through this. A mentor suggested I look into this, and though I’m not convinced, I’m trying to do due diligence in thinking through my options carefully.)

      1. Blank*

        This was my approach too. My field attracts a lot of neurodivergent folks so it would be okay to acknowledge a dx, but on the other hand there’s nothing that I would need done differently (nothing that’s possible, at least, since my industry is also on fire)…

    1. neurodivergent Taz*

      I wouldn’t say anything unless I needed an accomodation or people were commenting on my quirks. Too much potential to be a liability to disclose without a significant benefit. I’d consider the bar higher if I was self-diagnosed, because of the potential to be not taken seriously if that came out. It would really come down to how well I’m blending in- am I struggling enough I need to ask for help, or am I established enough as a rockstar that nobody will care if there’s reason for the eccentricity?

    2. ferrina*

      I’m ADHD, and I generally do not disclose. I freely talk about ADHD with enough knowledge that someone would easily be able to guess that I’m ADHD, but I don’t say “I’m ADHD”, because many people will use that to define me (rather than my professional accomplishments). I just don’t trust that many people know enough about ADHD to be able to use my diagnosis in a helpful way.

      1. Random Dice*

        This. Even ADHD gets misunderstood hard – autism is even more so. So many people think Rainman (arghhh) rather than something like “please use words with me rather than hints or body language”.

    3. afiendishthingy*

      I disclose ADHD (eventually, not right at the start of a job) but not autism. Too many misconceptions about it that I just don’t want to deal with.

    4. Anonymous for this*

      I do not self disclose to management – only if I needed formal accommodations would I self disclose.

      Good luck – it’s a lot to process sometimes, but knowing for the last 9 months has helped me.

    5. Amouse*

      Fellow female midlife autism diagnosis receiver here! I did disclose at work, but very selectively. My disclaimer is that I had been working with my boss for 3 years at that point, and she knew I was capable of fulfilling my job duties in spite of being autistic (I hate how that sounds, but you know how misrepresented autistic people have historically been). I’d had a really hard time coping with some changes at work, and couldn’t figure out a way to accommodate those changes without disclosing my reasons for why they were distressing. The coworkers I had at the time also ended up learning, and I was ok with it because they knew me for my work, not for the fact that I’m autistic.

      I still have the same boss, and HR knows, but current coworkers (entire department has turned over) do not know. I have no plans to tell anyone else, because I’m in a managerial role now, and I do not want my direct reports to know. I’m young to be a manager in my field, have rainbow hair, and already have problems being taken seriously, I don’t need the (completely wrong) misconceptions about autism further undermining my authority even further. (yes, I could make my hair a more natural color, but you know what, I’ve always wanted fun hair and damn if I’m going to let being a manager stand in the way of that, this isn’t a super formal field). However, I do make sure to emphasize diverse viewpoints and being open to different ways of thinking/existing in the world with my direct reports. It’s important to me that we’re welcoming and open to all people in our work. Like ferrina said, I talk about autism with enough knowledge that it’s likely people could guess I’m autistic, but I’m not going to come out and say it.

    6. Educator*

      As a manager, I really appreciate it when all of my employees are candid about what they need from me in terms of communication, flexibility, extra opportunities, etc. No diagnosis disclosure required! I would focus on sharing actionable things that you need from your manager or peers.

      1. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

        Cosigning Educator, from the other side: as a person with a neurodivergent diagnosis (and some other issues that have greater work impact but no formal dx).

        I am firmly in camp “disclose only if a formal dx is required as a formality to access accommodations or services” because a dx itself provides no useful information to nonexperts and frequently misleads people to stereotype and prejudice based behavior.

    7. But what to call me?*

      (Fellow woman with adult autism diagnosis, personally suspected it since high school)

      I do disclose at work, for two main reasons.
      1. Autism is closely related to the work I do, and I want to be able to discuss it without carefully talking around any possible reference to my own experiences.

      2. It’s a useful explanation when I want to be able to request minor, informal accommodations , even though I’ve never requested formal accommodations. For example, ‘sorry, my brain isn’t processing a single thing you’re saying right now. Could you please write it down?’ Or ‘that disorganized meeting with the background music melted every ounce of coping capacity right out of my brain. If you want a useful answer to that question, you might want to ask again later’ or ‘sorry, I don’t think there’s anything I can eat at that restaurant. No, it’s not an allergy, just a sensory thing’.

      A caveat to this is that you have to be prepared to do a lot of education, and how much education depends on who you’re dealing with. Another caveat is that some people just plain don’t want to be educated and with stick with their own preconceived beliefs no matter what you say. A lot of people are willing to learn and want to be helpful, but there’s no guarantee that everyone at your job will be.

      Another thing: I never let ‘I’m autistic’ be the first thing someone knows about me. Without any context from actually knowing me (or knowing my work, now that I have some), they tend to default to whatever their mental picture of autism is. I do prefer for people to know so it can just be another thing about me that’s sometimes relevant and sometimes not, like race or gender, but they’ve got to be able (and willing) to put it in context.

      Side note: I never shared it before I got diagnosed, even once I knew enough about autism to be very sure I was right, because I just didn’t have it in me to deal with the ‘but you don’t look autistic’ battle without an official diagnosis behind me.

      1. But what to call me?*

        Oh, and a third reason that depends very much on what you feel like dealing with: advocacy. I and some of the other autistic people I know are quite happy making ourselves a lesson to expand the minds of our neurotypical coworkers, even with the associated challenges, but others would rather just live their lives (very valid) or aren’t in a secure enough position to risk a bad reaction from someone. Part of why I disclose is because I *am* now in a secure position and I want to help those who are not.

        Oh, and a fourth reason! Personally, I’m more comfortable being something more closely resembling myself, and also asking for what I need, when I fully accept my autism and expect others to do the same. I spent most of my life sanding down every conceivable rough edge of my personality that might read as even slightly weird to anyone and struggling through (and failing at) things I couldn’t deal with because they should be easy so it would be pathetic and whiny to ask for help. Learning that I was autistic, and the years of redefining my self-concept that came after, has made huge strides towards freeing me from that. Pretending to be neurotypical means playing a role 100% of the time that I never liked in the first place. Some people can let go of the role without claiming the term, or find the risks of letting some of it it go to outweigh the freedom it brings, but for me, in my circumstances, it’s very much worth it.

    8. Irish Teacher*

      I don’t know if I am autistic or not, but certainly have traits. As I don’t know, I obviously can’t really disclose anything (though I did sort of hint to the woman who teaches our autism class, not even entirely intentionally. She was asking me to take some classes with some of the students in it and commented that I was very good with them and I said something along the lines of “well, yeah, I just might have a bit of an affinity with them”).

      Honestly, working in the learning support department of a school with an autism class, I suspect a couple of my colleagues have their suspicions and if I were diagnosed, I would be happy to tell my own department (though that is a specific situation, as my colleagues know more than the average person on this topic).

      I do, however, talk about specific things and have mentioned to a couple of colleagues that I suspect I have sensory processing disorder. Saying that I don’t handle crowded situations well or that I fidget a lot is easily understood and accepted. While I haven’t directly said anything, I also tend to pass any situations that require contact with home onto the year heads or the SENCO or the teacher of the autism class (depending on the student involved and the specific situation). I work in a school where there is some leeway as regards whether teachers call themselves or pass it on to somebody with more authority and…I don’t think anybody minds as there are other things I do to help other members of staff, such as passing on resources, covering classes, etc.

      In most situations, I think I’d be more inclined to mention situations you struggle with or whatever. Like “I find I work better in a quieter environment”. The specifics are likely to be more helpful anyway, as autism affects people in different ways and most people don’t know much about it.

  13. Going Anony Nonny Hey*

    What work have you found that’s WFH, unskilled, and -doesn’t- involve using your voice frequently? I’ve been pigeonholed into receptionist/admin asst work for years despite learning a variety of skills that were supposed to get me out of it, so that’s why I’m looking for unskilled/entry-level work. :/ I have damaged vocal cords, and my current job that requires talking to 500+ people daily is ruining my voice (as the specialist put it at my last appointment). I’m looking for WFH specifically because my Virginia town has no real public transport and I’m still saving up for a car. But all WHF I see advertised either requires special skills I don’t have, or heavy phone use. What the heck should I be looking for?

    1. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      Maybe something like data entry.
      If you have training, you could think about something like medical coding, bookkeeping or accounting.

      More skilled: Coding, web development, graphic design, photo editing, writing/content creation.

    2. Employed Minion*

      Honestly, data entry seems like a good option. But I know some people have shared (last week?) they have trouble finding the hob postings.

      A friend of mine has a company that modernizes physical records. Someone scans the physical documents and there is a team who transcribes the handwritten information.

      1. Employed Minion*

        The transcribing team works remotely too.
        If you can type quickly, transcribing audio medical notes is an option. My aunt does that and works from home as well.

    3. Jeremy Beremy*

      Many years back, I worked for Lionbridge and rated internet search results in terms of how “good” the results were given the query. I just did a quick check and they are still around and still hiring. I believe I started out at $15/hr and was at $18/hr (moved up to senior rater) when I left; I worked there almost 2 years.
      On the plus side, it involved very little interaction and they didn’t jerk you around about hours and pay. On the hand, there was no guarantee of hours so if you’re depending on a certain income, it might not be the best idea. I’d say that 90% of the time, I could get all the hours I wanted but I don’t know what the situation is now.

  14. PrettySticks*

    Just a warning, my question below concerns a child’s death.

    A coworker of mine recently lost her one-year-old child very suddenly. With her permission, my company had let everyone know about the situation, and also shared her address in case anyone would like to send anything. The nature of our individual jobs means my coworker and I are not in the same physical space very often, and we don’t hang out socially or anything, but we are very friendly and I like her very much. I would love to send something more substantial than a card or flowers, but I have no idea what would be appreciated or helpful at a time like this. We don’t live near each other (downtown Manhattan vs. Westchester, for those familiar with the NYC area), so this would be in the vein of ordering something, rather than dropping off a meal. (That’s just for context; I do not actually imagine they want random coworkers stopping by.)

    I am fortunate in that I really can’t fathom what her family is going through, so I would appreciate any suggestions. In case it matters, she does have a husband and another young child (2-3 years old, I believe), and she also has extended family nearby as a support system. Thanks in advance.

    1. YNWA*

      A pre-fab meal is a great idea when someone is grieving. My father passed in November and one of my coworkers sent us a Spoonful of Comfort kit that included soup, rolls, and cookies. It was easy to heat up and it was super appreciated.

    2. Panda*

      One thing someone did for us after my grandmother passed was to give us a gift card to go out to dinner after the initial shock and craziness with the funeral wore off. We used it to talk about our fond memories of her. That was someone who had lived a full life though.

      I still think a gift card for a restaurant would be good. They may not feel like cooking at all for a while.

    3. Hen in a Windstorm*

      I really think a blank card filled with your wishes for her at this time is more substantial than anything else you can do. I found that a lot of people are uncomfortable with death and use the excuse that “they don’t know what to say” to not say anything. If you take some time to write something thoughtful, that will be the best you can do for her.

      When you lose someone suddenly, everything else becomes meaningless. She will not care about flowers or gifts. She will not care about literally anything other than that loss. If you wanted to put a gift card for DoorDash or something in the card, that would be useful in functional way, but the thoughtfulness is all that matters.

    4. Not the momma*

      Gift certificate for or put $$ on her door Door dash meals. Stamps for replying to the condolences. Actual cash with a note saying you want her to use this for any memorials or needs they have. In the note, it’s okay to say you cannot fathom what she is going through, but will be thinking of her and her little one often.

      In my opinion, and when my son died, plants and flowers were just more ‘stuff’ I had to find a place for and take care of. Then the guilt as the plants died, because I’m not good at indoor plants.

      1. Not a Real Giraffe*

        Seconding the gift certificate for Door Dash, Uber Eats, delivery dot com, GrubHub, etc.

        1. ferrina*

          Thirding that. It helps alleviate the burden of every day chores, but if she doesn’t have the bandwidth to use the gift card, the gift itself doesn’t become a burden.

      2. bunniferous*

        I used to work for a florist. In a case like this I would avoid flowers since they die and I have been told by recipients it makes things harder. And plants either die or take up too much space in a small NY home, I would think. The recommendations for Grubhub or delivered meals/gift cards sounds practical since the less this family has to think about meals the better.

    5. Hannahnannah*

      My dad passed recently, and here are a few things that were helpful to us:
      – Door Dash gift card
      – Meal delivery that could be frozen until we were ready to eat it (Spoon Full of Comfort)
      – Monetary donations to surviving family members
      – Cards of encouragement (We’re thinking of you/praying for you; encouraging Scripture verses and poems, etc.) — Just knowing that people were thinking of us somehow made everything easier to bear.
      – Really, if you’re ordering anything consumable, it’s best to let the family decide what to order if you have that option. You never know when or where they’ll use the service, and who has food limitations.

        1. blue wall*

          this poster shared things that “were helpful to us”- this is a personal account, there’s nothing to disagree with.

    6. anon for this*

      I’m afraid that there is nothing that you can send that is going to be helpful in any way. I am speaking from personal experience here. People who are closer to the family emotionally and geographically can do lots of helpful practical things, but there is nothing that you can do. This is not an ordinary loss. For me, flowers just got in the way, were another thing that needed dealing with, and then they died, which was somehow awful. I did get sent gift cards for meal delivery, and completely understand people meant to be kind and just didnt know what to do, but I got kind of caught up in the value of the cards – that’s what my child was worth? How did they decide on that particular value? Totally illogical and unfair of me, I know.
      When and if she returns to work, your help and support will be very important, but for now, I’d suggest just send a card (I also developed a horror of pre-printed sympathy cards with generic messages, but I also couldn’t really take in the longer more personal messages people wrote, so I know I am being unfair again) and be sure to say that you are not expecting a response.
      This is only my experience though, and everyone’s loss is different, I am not trying to invalidate anyone else’s experiences or feelings

      1. Random Dice*

        Thanks for saying that. My sister really appreciated the flowers when her son died, but because we traveled to the funeral, she left them and she didn’t have to face them dying and going in the trash. I remember shuddering in relief at the time. It’s such a terrible visual analogy.

        1. allathian*

          When my aunt lost her newborn, she donated all the condolence flowers to a local nursing home, with the help of my mom who did all the practical work when my aunt and her husband were grieving. The clients and staff really enjoyed the flowers, and my aunt didn’t have to watch them wither and die.

    7. snoopythedog*

      Please, no flowers unless you know she really likes flowers. Flowers are something else to care for and in the early stages of grief for some, caring for themselves and their dependents can be hard enough.

      A card is great. A meal delivery gift card is great. Maybe some sort of activity book/stickers to help occupy the surviving child + give the parents a few minutes to breathe is nice (puffy stickers are *great* so are Water Wow colouring books because they don’t leave a mess).

    8. Ainsley Hayes*

      I echo a lot of what’s already been said – the Spoonful of Comfort soups, or sending really excellent baked goods, DoorDash gift certificates. When my dad passed, we received a lot of that stuff and while it didn’t make anything better, it did help. I would suggest something a little fun – one of the best things we received was a gift of waffles and dipping sauces from Eastern Standard Provisions.

      Also, if you can wait a few weeks from when it happened so that your gift arrives later, it will mean a little more. At the very beginning, they’re likely to be so inundated. But after a few weeks, things are still terrible AND there is less help/good thoughts coming.

      A handwritten note will also mean a lot, even if you’re not that close.

    9. Alex*

      I wouldn’t undervalue a heartfelt card. If you ever met the child, saw the child on zoom, or can relate a story of a good memory or appreciation of her child, that would probably be more meaningful.

    10. theletter*

      Grubhub and Doordash both offer gift card codes that can be delievered via email. Goldbelly is also a great option but it is a little pricey.

      With extended family, they might be ok with food and meals, but a gift card for general essentials from Target/Costco/etc might be helpful.

      Donations to causes she cares about might also be appreciated as it requires no action on their part.

    11. Annnnon for this*

      Food – some sort of food gift basket or DoorDash gift card or whatever. Random baskets of ready-to-eat snacks and the $$$ DD gift cards were the only way we managed to remember to eat either time my family had a parent die (or for that matter, during some Serious Medical Emergencies I called out of work to caretake during). We were super thankful 30 years ago when my dad died for the food basket a friend sent, and just as thankful this past year when my mom passed, so I think it’s safe to say it’s a pretty timeless thing.

    12. Lily Rowan*

      As an alternative to delivery gift card, maybe a gift box of like cheese/sausage, that kind of thing that is not just sweets. The last time I had a death in the family, we got a lot of sweets, so something heartier that could be a meal without any effort was really appreciated.

      1. EJ*

        Or maybe a grocery delivery service membership? Most grocery stores near me offer annual delivery plans so I can order groceries on their app and they come to my door… like instacart but no fee per use due to the membership. To not have to choose food in the store or face shopping was really helpful to me in my time of loss.

    13. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I would consider waiting a month or two. She will still be devastated in spring, and may well feel like everyone has forgotten. If your cookies (etc) arrive with a “thinking of you” note then, they’ll show that you and your community are still standing with her.

      1. Valancy Snaith*

        Honestly, I think this is a lovely way of doing it. A thoughtful card right now will be received well, I’m sure, but in 30-60-90 days, once the dust has begun to settle and the immediate rush of support has begin to die off, that is when a concrete gesture (like cookies or food or something) and a reminder that you are still thinking of her can really, really go a long way. Grief is a long and ugly road and the support after the first little bit falls off real fast.

      2. Esus4*

        I agree on sending later. When my partner died, I was still in bad shape months later and needing to know that people were thinking of me.

    14. another academic librarian*

      After my husband died suddenly, the notes that meant the most were the ones that said.
      This is devastating. I am so sorry. Thinking of you.
      that is it.
      Oddly the only thing I could manage to eat for almost ten days was a little whitefish salad on a piece of toasted bagel. (someone sent from zabars) I am pretty sure my brother lived on the rugelah.

    15. AG*

      My heart goes out to you and the family. One person suggested something to keep the older sibling occupied, and I also think anything that might help that child would be nice. I am at a complete loss about what, though. I think the other person’s suggestion of sticker/activity book kind of thing to occupy the child is good. At your level of familiarity, if you send something for the child, it’s probably better to send an ordinary gift rather than anything that directly relates to the circumstances -I think that’s for the parents and people closer to the family to handle.

      If you do decide to hold off on sending something for a few weeks, maybe you can send a card and something for the child now, and whatever else at a later time? That sounded weird to me as I type that, but it just makes more sense to me for a card or something for a child to be done more at this time.

      So sorry to hear about your coworker’s loss.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        Was there an obituary? Sometimes they ask for donations to be made somewhere specific. Though I’d only donate to places specifically mentioned by the family. I had a family member die and had a couple friends do the plant a tree thing but it was awkward because it was put there to make money automatically by the web service that posted the obituary, along with flowers. People trying to make money off grieving families is gross and I’m sad people fell for the fake ads. It was not useful for grieving either. I had to pretend to be grateful for them.

    16. Aitch Arr*

      If the obituary lists a donation preference, or if a close(r) co-worker or the boss knows of charities the family supports, I think a donation in memory of the child would be appropriate.

    17. PrettySticks*

      I want to thank everyone for the thoughtful responses. To a certain extent, they echoed what I was already thinking. I knew I didn’t want to send something that would take up a lot of physical space. I really liked the idea of getting something for her other son, so I’ m working on that. I also liked the idea of waiting a month or so, so she knows people are still thinking of them. I had planned on sending a heartfelt card as well. I can have trouble communicating those kind of feelings in writing, but I will get over it.

      Here is one thought I had, but I don’t know if it’s off-base. I have a friend that works at the zoo, and they are able to get special passes – one-time tickets that can be used anytime, no expiration. My thinking was that, whenever they’re ready, they could have a family day out. But then I had the awful thought that giving them three passes would just remind them that they are now three, not four. (And then I got a little overcome for several minutes because this is so damn awful.) So, I guess I’m asking if anyone has insight on that option?

      And I didn’t mention this before, but their close (not work) friends set up a GoFundMe for any expenses, and I did give to that as well.

      This is kind of an aside, but I had my own situation several years ago (a house fire) and the people at my office were so great. They collected cash for us, which we didn’t “need” (we had good insurance, and we had savings) but was so appreciated, particularly for all the meals we had to eat out. My husband had been wearing work boots at the time of the fire, so those were the only shoes he had (it was August in NY). He came by my office, and one of my office mates saw the boots, so she went to Gap and got us flip-flops, plus a cute tee for me and a gift card. It just meant so much that she noticed something we could use in the moment. That tee *just* got a hole in it, which bummed me out, because it always reminded me how caring that gesture was.

      Anyway, that was a long-winded way of saying I want my coworker to feel as loved as I did at that time.

      Thanks again to everyone.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        With the zoo passes, would it be possible to combine that with a sponsorship? So if you knew that their child had always liked penguins you could sponsor a penguin “in loving memory of” and the passes would be nominally to visit the penguin and see the dedication plaque. This is a thing that’s relatively straightforward at my local zoo but I don’t know if it’s universal.

      2. Anon for this*

        hi, I posted above about having experience of this. For me – and again, this is personal, and others might well feel differently – I think receiving a zoo pass, or anything that suggested a family day out would have been quite distressing at the time. I would have been unable to imagine being able to use them for a fun day out with one child instead of two, and it might have felt quite insensitive and hurtful (which I know is absolutely what you are trying to avoid, and I appreciate how carefully you are thinking about this).
        Writing my previous post reminded me of my partner’s response to a gift card where we could choose meals from different restaurants (I’m not in US, but think thats what Door Dash is?). he just couldn’t do it, got so upset feeling it was wrong to choose food from restaurants he really liked, “how can we enjoy a special Thai meal?” etc. Looking back (and a lot of time has passed now) his quest to find boring food that he wouldn’t enjoy seems almost funny now, but it wasn’t at the time. We ended up giving the cards to my sister to use, and she did us a grocery shop for all the basics instead. I found out later she had given all the cards away as prizes for a charity thing, as she didn’t feel she could use them either, so I guess they did do good in the end.
        If you were closer to the family you’d perhaps be able to recognise the little things they need in the moment, as your coworker did with the shoes, but you are not going to be able to do this as you are not there to see it. It sounds like she has people who are. I think sending a personal card now, and donating to the GoFundMe, and then sending something else in a month or so to show you are still thinking of them, is the best you can do.
        I don’t mean to sound like I am shooting down your suggestions – your kindness and compassion for this family is lovely, and is going to be needed very much in the future, if the mother returns to work.

    18. SnappinTerrapin*

      There are a lot of good suggestions in this thread.

      Most important, reach out and let them know you care, and that you understand that this is an unimaginably difficult time.

      If you feel moved to share in a material way, think practically. The ordinary burdens of life go on as people mourn. They don’t need more things to clutter or add to their burdens, but anything you can do to lighten that material load can make it easier for them to cope.

      Food gifts are thoughtful. The suggestion of gift cards for meals is an excellent idea. Some folks might disagree, but I think monetary gifts are also thoughtful, because they allow the bereaved some flexibility in managing their circumstances.

      Pray for them, if you are so led, but let your thoughtful actions, rather than any specific religious formula, be your witness to your faith, unless you have reason to believe you know what testimony would comfort this specific family.

      Be compassionate and considerate – and yes, I agree that it will be beneficial to reach out in the coming weeks and months, to remind them that people care. Don’t be afraid that you are “reminding” them of their loss – the grief will still be there, and they will appreciate being remembered.

    19. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

      I volunteer for an organization called Lasagna Love, where home cooks make lasagnas and deliver them to people who could really use a home cooked meal during hard times. There doesn’t need to be any income or food insecurity – I once delivered to a teacher who just didn’t have time to cook at the start of the school year and was living off fast food. If you know her zip code you can go to the website and nominate her to receive a lasagna from a local LL chef.

    20. Bibliovore*

      I have a book to recommend for the sibling. Enzo Isn’t There by Thomas Ellis. And for the parents This Thing Called Grief: New Understandings of Loss also by Thomas Ellis. Both books were very helpful to me and easy to read.

  15. kippers on deck*

    i have a screener interview today for a really cool job that would be a big step up for me and could just use some good vibes! i’ve gone through the aam guide and have all my materials good to go, but when you’re going out for a stretch job what’s something that helped y’all feel less nervous/more confident going into interviews? :)

    1. Chauncy Gardener*

      Review your resume and your work history and remind yourself of all the wonderful reasons you would be really good at this job!
      Stretch your body and take some really deep breathes to expand yourself physically.
      You can do this!!
      Good luck!!

    2. cleo*

      Think of an interview (or comparable situation) you had that went really well, where you were really successful. Right before your current interview starts, bring that previous interview to mind and remember how it felt, so that you go into your interview with that feeling of confidence and success.

      I do this before most of my interviews, especially phone screeners, and it’s surprisingly helpful.

    3. irene adler*

      For the future:
      create a brag book for yourself.
      Brag book consists of all the things you are proud of: promotions, annual reviews where good things were written about you, educational accomplishments, job accomplishments, personal accomplishments, acknowledgements of your work, etc.

      Then whip that out and read through it.

    4. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Superman (or Wonder Woman) poses for 2 minutes before leaving the parking lot builds up all kinds of good brain chemistry.

      Sometimes when I need a boost, I’ll put a note in my pocket with a ridiculous phrase in it that makes me laugh so that I can find it and have a secret chuckle. I’ve also been known to make phrases into acronyms that go onto sticky notes on my computer monitor. The act of remembering what they stand for derails a lot of anxiety, plus I get the chuckle.

      And nothing like already having your post-interview treat planned! No interview is so terrible that it overshadows the fact that you got to have a chocolate milkshake after, right?

  16. reality check please*

    Am I wrong for thinking it’s incredibly rude when people cancel meetings last minute, or when a meeting is scheduled for a certain length of time and ends significantly (30+ minutes) early? People always say things along the lines of “we’re giving you your time back!” as if they’re doing me a favor, but what would have really done me a favor was to let me know at least the day before they want to cancel or scheduling things for the correct amount of time. Don’t get me wrong, I love when meetings end 5 minutes early and I can run to the bathroom or get a snack between meetings. I also have grace for people who have an emergency and need to cancel things last minute, or sometimes you go into a meeting thinking it will be a long discussion and it ends up being something simple to figure out. But I’m talking about serial offenders who frequently cancel 5 minutes before we were set to meet, or things like trainings where I’m told to block off half my day and then it ends in two hours. I’m in a meeting-heavy culture, which most of the time I don’t mind, but how I structure the rest of my work really depends on the time I have carved out between meetings, so an extra 30 minutes means my time would have been better spent on a more complex task had I known ahead of time. It feels disrespectful to me when people ask for my time and I block it off for them, but then they don’t actually intend to use it.

    1. reality check please*

      Particularly egregious example from this morning: I am taking night classes at a local college next semester, and all (virtual) orientations were scheduled for THREE HOURS and only during business hours. Ok fine. I nearly took PTO to cover that time, but since I’m remote today decided I could gamble with setting my status to do not disturb, and just answering emails while I listened to orientation. Orientation ended 90 minutes early, and if they had sent out the correct link and started on time and not taken a 10 minute break in the middle, it would have been only one hour. I gave in my feedback that asking people to block off three hours for an hour-long orientation is pretty disrespectful, especially for many who work full time. And they give this every semester, so they should have a good idea of the time needed. Fortunately this didn’t derail my day too much, but had I ended up taking PTO for this I would have been really pissed, since I don’t get much PTO to begin with!

      1. Pam Adams*

        hopefully, it wasn’t my university’s orientation! From our side, sometimes the full time is needed, particularly for students with issues. We do let the others go as we can.

      2. Tio*

        I can see why that’s annoying, but a lot of meetings have to bake in time for questions and answers – especially something like an orientation. I have no doubt they’ve actually gone to the 3 hour mark because of people with 300 questions, and then gotten off really early because everyone was silent. Three hours may be a bit much, but with meetings that go less than a half hour under their allotted time, I think that’s just normal

      3. JelloStapler*

        Wow, that is grossly inconvenient and tone deaf. I would be upset too and glad you mentioned it in your feedback to them!

    2. Gracely*

      Canceling last minute is super rude. I had to deal with a serial offender last year, for meetings that were INSANELY difficult to schedule as it was because we had to get so many people with completely different schedules together–we first started trying to schedule in February. Actual meeting happened in August, after three rounds of last minute canceled meetings, all canceled at the last minute by the person organizing the meeting, TWICE because said person had to go to an appointment they scheduled after setting our meeting up. It was INFURIATING.

      Ending a meeting early is fine as long as everything that needed to be discussed gets discussed. I would MUCH rather a meeting end 30 minutes early than 30 minutes late.

      1. KayDeeAye*

        I agree with Gracely all down the line. Last-minute cancellations are almost always rude, rude, rude. There are exceptions, of course, but they need to be, well, *exceptional*.

        But I am never, ever sad or put out when a meeting ends early. Maybe I should be, but I am not. My attitude can best be summed up with “Yaaaaaaaay!”

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          I hate last-minute scheduling of meetings more.

          I’m OK if it’s a recurring meeting that’s cancelled day-of, due to a lack of topics. But those I often see more as calendar holds until the agenda comes out.

          The orientation was probably scheduled for the most amount of time it was likely to take. Having done new employee orientations, I could see where they hedged their bets. You never know what (or who) is going to slow things down there.

          I strongly dislike meetings, so most cancellations are like a little gift in my book.

      2. Sloanicota*

        I agree. It’s not necessarily rude to end early. Sometimes you thought something would take longer than it did. In my opinion it would be ruder to drag the meeting out and waste the time.

        1. allathian*

          Oh yes, this. Granted, I rarely have more than three meetings a week, when most of my teammates have at least that many every day, and my manager’s calendar is constantly full of meetings.

      3. reality check please*

        I agree it’s not inherently rude to end early, but people who default to requesting hourlong meetings when 99% of the time we need less than 30 minutes drive me batty, and those people do exist!! I also hate multi-hour trainings/events that end 1+ hours early—I seem to be getting a lot more of those now that many things are virtual, and that demonstrates the people organizing are really poor at planning these things. Whenever I have something scheduled for longer than 90 minutes, not only does it disrupt my workflow but there’s a high chance I also had to reschedule/cancel on others to accommodate that (but I make sure to never cancel last minute on others unless I’m having a true emergency!)

        1. Sloanicota*

          I agree that 30 minutes should be the default in outlook and gmail – and that if you’re requesting more than an hour you better have an agenda demonstrating why it’s necessary.

    3. Antilles*

      To me, it depends on the kind of meeting.
      If it’s a consistent weekly/monthly meeting where you just send one Outlook Invite to cover the next year, then it’s not rude – we set aside 60 minutes on the calendar because sometimes it does really take that long, but it’s clear that the actual time might vary on a meeting to meeting basis depending on how busy that particular week was/how much to talk about/etc.
      If it’s a one-off, then I think it’s a lot more reasonable to be a bit miffed over a last-minute cancellation.

    4. ferrina*

      It’s rude, but it’s also a fact of life. There will always be disorganized and/or thoughtless people and/or people that are really bad at timing things out. In the case of the Orientation, I’m wondering if it was someone super new in the position that had no idea what they were doing.

      Are there ways that you can protect your time more? If you have a complex task, set aside time for that and only move it for truly important things (i.e., not the serial offenders). For serial offenders, mentally have a back-up task that you’ll do in case they cancel (this helps me mentally adjust to the schedule change). You can also gently raise this issue to your boss- odds are, you aren’t the only one that’s frustrated with this. But once you flag it, let it go. Assume that a certain % of your time will be wasted, and that is part of working at Company.

    5. time for cocoa*

      It depends on the context for me. My boss is constantly cancelling last-minute and is late to every meeting, but she has been doing literally three jobs for six months because her level colleagues both quit. I’m never upset with her; she is kind and is doing her best.

      Meetings that are recurring do need to plan for the worst-case scenario, so there’s not much to be done there. It’s the nature of project work.

      If someone is just sloppy and disorganized, then yes I would be aggravated.

      I’d suggest keeping a list of small, low-concentration tasks at hand, so you can jump into some quick work when you gain those unexpected snippets of time.

    6. Person from the Resume*

      I am tempted to say you’re wrong, but then you mention serial offenders and, yes, that’s annoying. They should figure out a better way to estimate their meeting needs if they keep getting it wrong.

    7. Purple Cat*

      Cancelling last minute is definitely rude and I would say something if it was repeat offenders. But on the flip side, I can’t get mad about general meetings running short. It’s far, far worse for meetings to run long, and often you can’t tell if people are going to have questions or not. I used to work in a very meeting heavy office and having those extra 10-30 minutes here and there was a god send. Half-day vs 2 hours is definitely egregious. But again, it’s far easier to fill unexpectedly available time than to be double-booked.

    8. Dark Macadamia*

      I did a double-take that you’re upset about meetings ending EARLY. I’ve been in a ton of meetings that ran significantly late and it’s always awful (in my experience, it’s more likely to happen with meetings that were already tedious/unnecessary to begin with – the useful meetings mostly stay on schedule). I think your specific example is rude and frustrating because it wasn’t something for your job and like you said you could’ve wasted PTO to attend… but if it’s an actual work meeting I do take it as a gift when it goes faster than I expected. I’d rather have an extra half hour of semi-productive unplanned work time than a long meeting.

      1. reality check please*

        Yeah to be clear I don’t mind at all things ending 5 or 15 minutes early! But I do seem to have a high number of work-related examples that are more similar to what happened this morning. Like for example I was promoted last summer and had a series of mandatory management trainings in the fall. They were all scheduled for 4 hours, but most of them only lasted 90 min-2 hours, and would often get rescheduled last minute (and these are trainings HR gives frequently, so they should know how long it takes). Which then led to me frantically rescheduling or cancelling other meetings unnecessarily and sometimes asking for extensions on things. Ending a meeting a bit early is not rude, but asking someone to reserve several hours and then ending significantly earlier is pretty rude IMO!

    9. Qwerty*

      I would separate out the meeting issues from the training issues.

      My experience in a meeting heavy culture is that people were thrilled when meetings got cancelled. Keep in mind the people cancelling the meetings are not always the reason it get cancelled last minute!

      I owned and ran a lot of meetings for a while and despite looking like I was in charge, most of the stuff was outside my control and the unpredictable schedule bothered me too! Here’s some reasons, if it helps to know the why behind it:
      – Another meeting is running over (insert fake surprise) and the decision makers are in it.
      – Important person can’t make the meeting
      – More important meeting shows as a conflict
      – My boss or important person told me to cancel. Often no reason given for me to pass on
      – People don’t RSVP or don’t have accurate RSVPs so you don’t know until the start of the meeting that half the attendees won’t be there
      – People are out sick or PTO
      – Small group of people had a side convo, meeting no longer needed and can be replaced with an email/Slack announcement
      – Meeting was a placeholder in case we needed the time because its hard to find a free spot for all attendees

      If the above reasons don’t cause a cancellation, they might result in the meeting ending quickly, in addition to:
      – Problem turned out to a be a miscommunication so meeting finishes quickly
      – People didn’t show up prepared for meeting, couldn’t dive into the meaty stuff
      – People were multi-tasking and not paying attention, so didn’t participate in the discussions
      – Budgeted time for long winded person to introduce multiple tangents. Said person didn’t show, yay!
      – Somebody dictated that I must book an hour meeting despite me knowing it wouldn’t take that long. Not my hill to die on.

      Oof, those were not fun memories. Basically meeting heavy cultures feel like chaos to me. I’m going to go hug my meeting free calendar now.

    10. Qadata*

      I think it’d always be a case-by-case thing.
      I had one coworker cancel on me at the last minute about 6-8 times last year. It was just the two of us so we finally ended up having a meeting by phone while she was driving. She was so apologetic each time she had to cancel but I understood she was extremely busy. She’s also one of only two teapot function specialists in our company supporting 100+ staff. I have a lot of respect for her so valued her time more than mine.
      On the other hand, I was in a department-wide meeting a couple years ago that had required attendance and was scheduled to last 3hrs. Firstly, it started half an hour late (organisers didn’t bother to test equipment first). Secondly, no one bothered to enforce and restrict speaking times so meeting gradually derailed further. The final session ended up starting right at the time meeting was scheduled to end and lasted for a further hour. Worse, I had a meeting planned for straight after (only opportunity in a full schedule) but had no means of escaping to let my next meeting know I’d be late or even by how long. Some of my coworkers had similar issues. Feedback must have gotten back to the organisers because we’ve never had such a meeting since. Interestingly, it was HR who mostly organised the meeting and also HR who conducted the final session.

    11. Wordybird*

      ITA. The only thing that irritates me more are monthly meetings that are then rescheduled or not held at all but we only find out the day before or the day of. I have two monthly meetings, and more often than not, the one with fewer people is suddenly rescheduled that morning for a completely different time and/or day (we won’t get into how this meeting is generally 85% chitchat from our supervisor and only 15% actual work) and the one with the whole department just… doesn’t happen. No one brings it up that week, and then the day & time it’s supposed to happen goes by without the department head saying anything. It’s so strange to me.

  17. so embarrassing it’s funny*

    Hey all — could use some help with what is probably the most embarrassing thing ever to happen to me.

    So I’ve been talking with a local consultant who’s considering hiring employees. He let me know he’s still figuring out what roles he wants to hire for, and I responded to his email a couple of days later. At that exact moment I noticed I had just gotten another email from him sharing some career resources, so I quickly sent off a response acknowledging the second email. All good, right?

    … Except it’s two weeks later and I was thinking about following up, only to realize that I had somehow misspelled my own name in my last email (it’s missing the last letter). I still don’t know how it happened, but that’s why you don’t type a quick message and send it without reading it, all within 30 seconds.

    So: is there any way to come back from this? I was thinking about sending a note (proofread this time!) letting him know how valuable I found career resources he shared, now that I’ve gotten a chance to review them. Do I acknowledge the horrible typo in my last email? Or should I just ignore everything and wait for him to reach out to me again (as he said he would if he decided to hire someone).

    1. CTT*

      I know it feels embarrassing, but it really is not horrible or worth correcting. It happens to everyone and really isn’t indicative of anything (if he even noticed!)

    2. Hen in a Windstorm*

      You really don’t need to worry about this. I’ve got a 4 letter first name and I frequently mistype it if I’m going too fast. It’s fine. I mean, do you think he thinks you don’t know how to spell your own name? We all make typos. Let it go.

      1. londonedit*

        Yep, I agree with this! If he even noticed the typo in your name, the very most he’ll think is ‘Whoops…glad I’m not the only one!’ Everyone makes the odd mistake like this and people understand that typos happen (even with your own name! I’m frequently missing or muddling up the letters in mine and having to go back and correct, it’s only a matter of time before I send off a hasty email with a typo in my name).

        1. Antilles*

          Honestly, I’m guessing he didn’t even notice – he’s probably just skimming your email quickly for the important information anyways and didn’t even notice that you wrote “Johnso” instead of “Johnson” or “Smit” instead of “Smith” or whatever.

    3. Law School Student*

      I would let the typo go entirely! You could maybe send another note, but maybe give it a week or two more. Like you said, he knows you’re interested and will reach out to you if he decides to hire. No harm in emailing him after a good length of time has gone by! But I think two weeks might be a little short of a timeframe.

      But I would let the typo go entirely – since it’s just the last letter of your last name, there’s a good chance he didn’t even notice it’s misspelled! Or if he did, it’s overall a relatively minor misspelling. I think bringing it up would call too much attention to it.

    4. waffles*

      I have a Master’s degree and misspell my own first name all the time when typing fast. It’s ridiculous, and I have to check it before sending emails. If I were you I’d pretend it didn’t happen and move on. Do people truly discount an applicant for one typo (assuming the job is not for editing)?

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Same! I also have a lot of one letter in my first & last name. I literally sometimes sign it with more or less of that letter. (Which, for fun, is right next to other letters that have similar starts in cursive.)

    5. Thistle Pie*

      I wouldn’t call attention to it – I don’t think this is as embarrassing as it probably feels. Just yesterday my boss accidentally submitted a form on which he had misspelled his own name. It happens.

    6. Sherm*

      When I was applying, I misspelled my hiring manager’s name in an email. (And it was a common name that I botched. Think “Jaane”.) I still got the job!

    7. ecnaseener*

      You are so completely fine! If I had a nickel for every work email I signed as Reene instead of Renee…

    8. The Prettiest Curse*

      If it makes you feel any better, I’m an event coordinator and have found that people mis-type their own names more than you’d think!

    9. Mill Miker*

      I noticed a few years after I graduated that my post-grad certificate had my first name spelled wrong (I always triple check the last name, because everyone messes that up, but assume the first is right).

      I was surprised so I checked the original diploma for the qualifying course, and also it was misspelled there.

      In utter disbelief, I pulled out my college student card — which I had to swipe to get into the building with, had to swipe at the classroom, had to swipe when purchasing food on campus, and doubled as a bus pass — and it was spelled wrong there too.

      3 years of college, of looking at this card a dozen times a day, and then like 4 years of the diploma’s hanging in plain site, and I never noticed.

      You’re doing great.

    10. Sabine the Very Mean*

      Let yourself completely off the hook. I guarantee, if they saw it at all, they simply chalked it up to the knowledge that everyone flies through typing their name faster than anything else we type. No need for even a bit of embarrassment. Aint no thang.

    11. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Missing the last letter is so obviously a typo (as opposed to ‘you’re a dummy who clearly can’t even spell their own name’) that I can’t imagine him thinking about it at all, if he even noticed it in the first place.

      You can 100% chalk this up to nerves about why he hasn’t responded, wanting to give a good impression, and your inner critic latching on to potential explanations for his lack of response.

      That’s a really disproportionately strong response on your end, if this feels like the most embarrassing thing to happen to you, so I would encourage you to offer yourself compassion and ask what you’re worried about happening if you do let yourself off the hook.

    12. Still*

      Oh, this is nothing. The chances that he even noticed are tiny, and even if he did, I guarantee you he didn’t think about it for more than two seconds. It’s not “horrible” and honestly if it’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you, I’m jealous. It’s a tiny and inconsequential error that says nothing about your character. Proceed as if nothing happened.

    13. Blue Cat of Castleton*

      I think you’re overthinking it – everyone makes typos! I once received an email from a potential employer that said nothing more than “Hi Beast”

      I about peed myself laughing over it and wondering what on earth she meant. I later found out that she was attempting to email me while driving, then decided to wait until she was not driving anymore, but somehow hit send in the process.

      So unless your misspelled name spells out something weird or possibly offensive, I think you’re good. And even then, it’s a chance for a good laugh!

    14. reality check please*

      I’d let it go–emailing back to acknowledge it would only bring more attention to the typo, which the consultant may not have even noticed! If it makes you feel better, I once misspelled my first name in an email, and it was a contentious email to boot. If the recipient noticed, he was kind enough to not point it out, and we continued to email with all names spelled correctly. This was like five years ago, and occasionally I still think about it and cringe, but I faced no real professional repercussions from the incident. If this ranks among your most embarrassing moments, I’d considered you blessed with a very unembarrassing life :)

    15. RagingADHD*

      More than likely, he never noticed. Who even reads email signatures? A lot of people see a “thanks” email in the preview pane and never even open it.

      Pretend it never happend.

    16. WorkingRachel*

      This is fine! You don’t need to worry about it at all. It’s not like you accidentally insulted him or made a typo that resulted in a racial slur or anything. He probably won’t even notice, and if he does, it’s just one of those things that happens to almost everyone occasionally.

    17. JR*

      My brother once lost points on a spelling test for misspelling his own name. I agree with everyone, super common, he probably didn’t notice, let it go. Good luck!

  18. abcdefg*

    How does one go about finding a lawyer to help with an ADA accommodation request? My employer is giving me a really hard time about my accommodation request. I don’t think they’re operating in good faith, and I’m afraid they’re going to say they can’t accommodate me and fire me. I would like to consult a lawyer who will let me know whether my expectations are reasonable and will advise me on how to proceed, but the firms I’ve contacted only want to talk to me if I’m ready to sue. How do I find a lawyer who will help me try to work things out with my employer?

    1. Minimal Pear*

      When I was looking (I ended up not going through with it) I initially looked at my state’s employment discrimination office. Some states also have disability-specific legal centers. I also just looked up “employment lawyer in [x area]” and read their websites to see if any mentioned disability.

    2. Law School Student*

      Look up your state + bar association + employment law, or your state + employment lawyers. You should be able to find someone, and if they’re not the right person for the job, most lawyers will point you toward someone who can help!

    3. Hen in a Windstorm*

      I just googled “my state bar find a lawyer” and immediately got a link. On that page, they offer a referral to a lawyer for a 30 minute consult for $35. So google your state bar association.

      I find it weird no one you’ve talked to is willing to consult. Sounds like maybe you reached out to the types who advertise? They may be ambulance chasers.

      1. abcdefg*

        My state bar association doesn’t offer referrals, but it looks like a more local one does. I may contact them. Thanks for the suggestion!

        And yes, I think I must have reached out to the ambulance chaser types.

    4. Interplanet Janet*

      If you’re in an area near any law school(s) you could check and see if they offer legal clinics. Those can be a sort of stepping stone to figure out what you need to figure out, so to speak.

    5. The Prettiest Curse*

      If you have a local disability rights organisation, they may have suggestions for how to approach this conversation with your employer. Search for disability rights plus your state/area and see what comes up.

    6. Random Dice*

      You could call your state Attorney General’s office.

      I’m assuming you already know that not every accommodation counts as “reasonable”.

      1. abcdefg*

        Yes, that’s one of the main reasons I wanted to consult with a lawyer. I think my request is reasonable, but I would like a professional opinion.

    7. Agile Phalanges*

      Not a lawyer, but have you tried the Job Accommodation Network: https://askjan.org/ ?

      They have all sorts of resources and may even have advocacy services, I’m not sure. Good luck!

      1. abcdefg*

        Yes! They’re a great resource, but it seems like a lot of their suggestions are a little too employee friendly. Their default approach seems to be that an employer will want to accommodate their employees, but unfortunately my company doesn’t seem to want to.

  19. Greenhouse Gremlin*

    How do you maintain your sanity and your willingness to go into a job you’re just done with while waiting to hear back from jobs you’ve applied to? I have 3 that are under manager review and I’m getting anxious. I want to be outta my current job before the busy season in March. I’ve applied to several other jobs but not hearing anything is making me depressed. Granted I applied during the busy holiday season so I’m sure the managers are behind a bit but it’s still nerve racking.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Do you have more applications you’re working on? That helped me while I was job-searching. I felt (mostly) good as long as I felt like I was making progress. Finding jobs to apply for, updating my resume, writing cover letters, preparing for interviews (when I had interviews) were all things I could do that felt like I was making progress. Waiting to hear back from applications/interviews–nothing for me to do, so I would go back to finding jobs to apply for, etc. until I finally had (and accepted) an offer.

      1. Greenhouse Gremlin*

        I job search every Sunday. The company I’m interested in posts new jobs that day. I guess I’m just burnt out and ready to move on before it gets worse at my current position. We’re short staffed with no end in sight.

        1. ferrina*

          Pace yourself- job hunting tends to be a long process. Make sure you don’t get burnt out on the job hunting. It sounds like you’re staking a lot on these few applications, and you really don’t want to do that. Trying to maintain that level of investment and hope for long term takes a lot of energy. Good luck!

    2. All the Birds*

      I guess all you can do is look to the future, know that change is coming and “quiet-quit” while you’re waiting.

    3. And the award goes to*

      I channeled my best Academy Award nominee vibe for that limbo time between the nomination and awards night. I spent a little time preparing how I wanted to be if I didn’t get the job and I little time preparing my acceptance speech. After that, with a slightly anxious heart I’d do my best to stay in the moment and act as if I had already not gotten the job. I knew I was still waiting to hear, but acting as if helped my brain stay off the hamster wheel when I needed to focus on my current responsibilities.

  20. Anonsense*

    My boss has had three separate long-ish absences in the past year (about 3 weeks each), both for vacation and planned medical procedures. Each time, he was given an assignment about a week before he left that he neglected to do. These are assignments that he often delegates to me when he doesn’t do them himself. In each of these cases, he did not delegate them, or even let me know that they existed. In all of these cases, the upper bosses come to me once they’re overdue and demand that they be completed immediately. As far as they know, since I often do these assignments, I must know about them. While I could tell them that my boss never gave me the assignment, that doesn’t play well with them. Apparently, they also don’t like employees throwing their bosses under the bus.

    I’m trying to figure out how to handle these situations going forward. Both what to tell the bosses, and what kind of conversation to have with my boss when he returns. I have spoken with my boss before about this, and all he ever says is “well, that’s on me, sorry,” which doesn’t really help me or my reputation.

    If it matters, I am in government at a level just below a director, so better is expected of me. I am also dealing with upper management that in the past has ignored managers who actually fess up to errors and continued to blame whomever they first pointed the finger at. So if my boss actually fesses up to upper management, it won’t help me. I need to get him to make sure to give me all unfinished work before he leaves next time. Any ideas?

    1. King Friday XIII*

      If you know about them ahead of time, can you grab him before he leaves and ask for them? If not, do they tend to come from the same people so you can ask them while he’s out if there’s anything they’re waiting on from him?

    2. FashionablyEvil*

      I would name the problem for your boss, both the assignments not being delegated and the hit that your reputation takes/leadership’s unwillingness to hear that he didn’t pass the work on to you, and ask how you can figure out a plan to avoid this in the future. Maybe specific hand-off meetings? If that’s not feasible, he asks his boss to connect with you? Or otherwise makes it clearer that he sometimes delegates things to you and sometimes not?

      I find it a bit perplexing that they think you’re throwing him under the bus. “Sorry, I wasn’t aware of that request, but will get started on it immediately and have it done by X,” is just information.

      1. Govt Exec*

        Have you ever worked in government? It’s absolutely throwing your Director boss under the bus if you say anything other than he farts rainbows. That doesn’t make it right, but it’s a common reality. The level below a Director is usually expected to know everything in the organization. And if you don’t, it’s never the Director’s fault; it’s your fault for not being aware.

    3. ferrina*

      So….the higher ups expect you to know things that your boss never told you? Yeah, that’s ridiculous.

      A couple ideas:
      1) Before your boss goes on extended leave, have an hour long “hand-off” meeting with him. In this meeting, you go over every single project that you’ll do in his absense. At this point, you can even say “hey, since things fell through the cracks last time, I want to triple check that my to-do list is complete”. It’s harder for him to forget when you are making him devote an hour of his time.
      2) Do make them aware that he never handed it off. It doesn’t need to be a big deal- just “Oh, Boss never mentioned that. Yes, I’ll get on that right away. Any chance you can forward me the email? It will help the process go a lot faster”. Literally one sentence in passing.
      3) Do the higher ups have assistants? You might be able to reach out to them to coordinate work flow so that you’re aware of everything. This can be politically tricky, but sometimes going a layer down is where you’ll find the reasonable people (and sometimes not).
      Good luck!

      1. Anonsense*

        I think it’s that they expect that the boss did tell me about these things, and they’re not so willing to believe that he didn’t.

        I’ve tried #1, but it obviously failed. For #2, even saying it like that seems to wrinkle them. I may have to try #3 next time, if I can figure out how to do it covertly.

        1. ferrina*

          Start by seeing if you have any friends(ish) who might know already. Make an effort to chat with these people early- this might be a simple “Hey, I’ve been working on X- is that something you’re familiar with?” The reciprocity of information is very real.

          At OldJob, the leadership was so bad at sharing information, that a group of midlevels (including me) had an informal information network. It started by just giving each other a head’s up about new projects, asking for each other’s opinion on how to proceed, and making sure we weren’t stepping on each other’s toes. After a year, it ended up being a whole network that had better information than the leadership did. You could give a task to one person in the network (or even their direct report), and suddenly they’d loop you into an ongoing project being done on a different team for a different VP that was doing the exact same thing and was already half done.

        2. Red Sky*

          CYA with documentation. Before boss leaves send an email with the items you will be working on while he is gone and ask if there’s anything you’ve missed or he’d like to add.

          When grandbosses asks why you haven’t completed the choc teapot inventory report yet, say ‘Hmm, I don’t believe I was informed about this but let me double check my records’ while also assuring her you’ll get right on it. Then forward her the email showing you asked and were answered and the choc teapot inventory was not included in the tasks to complete while boss is out.

          Also, can you cut out the middleman (boss) on these tasks when you know he’ll be absent for a while? Proactively reach out to the person who assigns the tasks on the first day boss is out, “As you know, boss will be on leave for 2 weeks and won’t be able to complete choc teapot inventory reports. To avoid delays, can you let me know if any are due for the period he is out so I can ensure they’re submitted in a timely manner”

  21. King Friday XIII*

    My company keeps talking about bringing people back in full time and I’ve got a medical issue that makes it much simpler and more productive to work from home that’s worsened in the last few years. I’ve talked to my boss about it and she’s said she’s working on it but I don’t have anything official and it’s… anxiety-inducing enough that I want to look for something that’s advertised as remote-only, even though I like my job and boss and coworkers. I need some advice on either how to wait it out and hold my ground or navigate asking for formal accomodations when I haven’t yet been told I need them by management, if anyone has ideas.

    1. Dasher*

      I suppose you could do all things: 1) start a job search and get an offer. Then take it to your current employer and say that if they can accommodate you in a permanent WFH status, you’ll stay. Otherwise, the new job is a better fit. 2) Would you consider a hybrid approach- maybe going in to the office one or two days a week? 3) As a manager myself, it would be ok with me if you were transparent and said that this was giving you anxiety. That might inspire me to move a little faster on your behalf or be transparent in return by telling you where this discussion was heading or the likelihood that you would get an exception.

      Good luck to you on this. I was in a similar situation and had to return to office, but my health improved, which made it easier.

    2. Random Dice*

      You’ve actually already started the formal ADA process. Telling your manager that you have a medical condition for which you require reasonable accommodation is the trigger. (Managers often don’t realize that.)

      You should email her asking for an update on your “ADA reasonable accommodation”. (Email because then you forward to your personal email that email and any other conversations you have in email or IM/chat on the topic.)

      AAM has great resources on the topic, and I found them very helpful when going through this myself.

  22. Totally Minnie*

    I have a question about shoes for the office.

    I’m a woman who recently started a job in a chilly office, which means my feet are almost always cold. This is a problem, because my workplace requires professional shoes, and most women’s dress shoes aren’t designed to be worn with socks. I’ve been wearing dressy boots, but that’s not ideal since they’ve got a slight heel and I have a bad back.

    Does anybody have a brand or style of shoe to recommend that’s flat, allows socks to be worn, and looks professional enough for an office?

    1. Kimmy Schmidt*

      I love Oxfords. I wear socks even with the lower ones (Google tells me these are maybe called “smoking slippers”?). I also wear ankle boots year round. What kind of price point are you looking at? I like Clarks, and I’ve been lucky enough to find gently used pairs at thrift stores.

      1. Thistle Pie*

        Seconding Clarks! I bought a pair of their ankle boots like three years ago and they’re my go-to boots.

    2. Hen in a Windstorm*

      Can you put a small space heater under your desk? I got one for $35 off Amazon last January and it’s still going strong.

      1. Anonymath*

        I’ve just gotten a footrest/heater for Christmas that one of my office mates highly recommended. It looks just like a regular under desk footrest, but it also can be turned on to provide heat, which is much needed in my icebox office.

      2. her name was anon for this*

        If you use space heaters, make sure to always unplug them when not in use–not just turn off. I worked for a nonprofit where an employee’s plugged in but turned off space heater caught on fire and ended up destroying the entire office building we were located in. It was over a year before we were back in our office, and it made for difficult relations with our landlord.

    3. kippers on deck*

      i love oxfords!! they come in a ton of styles and i always wore them with socks!

      some have slight heels but there’s definitely flat versions out there!

    4. Gracely*

      Maybe Mary Janes? Or would hose (like knee-highs) help at all, since that can usually be worn with professional shoes?

      Alternately, can you keep a blanket or heating pad on under your desk?

    5. Glomarization, Esq.*

      I’d look at corporette dot com for businesswear suggestions.

      Approaching it differently, though, maybe you can place a small space heater under your desk? Since that’s not an option for my office, I keep a few throw blankets on hand so that I can drape them over my lap all the way to the floor. Helps quite a bit.

    6. ThatGirl*

      Loafers/Oxfords or there are some dressier looking “work shoes” out there that might work. Most people will not look closely at your shoes.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yeah boots! They’re warmer than anything. You can wear knee socks underneath them! You can wear them under pants (especially ankle boots) or with a skirt of any length.

      2. Ama*

        I have so many pairs of Cole Haan shoes now — they have really good clearance sales so if you buy things out of season you can get a very good deal and their insoles happen to fit my high arch feet really comfortably. My first purchase was a traditional pair of loafers that are my go to office shoes (and good for socks).

    7. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I got a size up and wear black socks. I also don’t wear those ones in the summer because they’re too big.

    8. Storm in a teacup*

      Uniqlo do thermal tights and socks which are great as they’re quite thin material so not too bulky to wear with office footwear .
      Flat ankle or knee high boots with thermal socks is the way to go.

    9. SofiaDeo*

      Try some sheepskin insoles from Overland Sheepskin, they have them in the website. If it works, get another pair so you can let one “air out” every other day. I traveled with 1 pair of work shoes but 2 sets of insoles. You will probably need to get shoes larger than usual with sheepskin insoles, so perhaps experiment with a used pair of shoes before spending more money on new ones. There are also some thin fleece lined tights available, that look like hosiery. I personally find lightweight support stockings/hose to be warm, so maybe try that too, to wear with current shoes. The key to the support stockings is to make sure you don’t pinch your toebox when putting them on, or your toes end up feeling cramped/squished/sore at the end of the day.

    10. Kes*

      I love ankle boots (and I hate heels). Some brands I have/have had ones from include Ecco, Josef Seibel, and Sorel. I think Clarks also has some that are fairly flat. I like ones that go over skinny pants but there are also a lot of chelsea boots you can wear under that look more like shoes

      1. Laika*

        I recently bought a pair of Hush Puppies ankle boots (“Mazin Cayto Boot”) and I’m blown away by how comfortable they are!!

    11. DisneyChannelThis*

      I’ve had decent luck with just wearing men’s shoes. They have a lot of nice mens waterproof closed toe, full coverage shoes. If you’re in the US drop 2 around shoe sizes (size 8 womens is a size 6 mens).

      If you want to stick with womens, Keens makes a decent waterproof oxford for women that holds up okay in winter.

    12. Generic Name*

      I’d get flat ankle height boots. If you can find a “Chelsea boot” in a polished black leather (rather than matte leather or suede) that should read as dressy enough with slacks.

    13. SomebodyElse*

      I’d also look at a maryjane. I used to wear mine with wool socks all the time. Mine typically had heels. I always wore longer pants to accommodate the heel, so I don’t think anyone could really tell that I was wearing socks. If they did see them I made sure they were bright and colorful. I just embraced it as my quirk. Everything else was on the dressy end of business casual (dark dress pants + blouse + blazer/cardigan)

    14. Slowpoke*

      I bought the East Spirit Gessica Ballet Flats for choir performances (which are fancy but require you to be comfortable standing for long periods of time) and they work pretty well for the office as well. Basically any black ballet flat like that will accommodate socks really nicely, even thick ones!

    15. Irish Teacher*

      Gabor might have something, though their selection at the moment isn’t great, I don’t think. I find them both reasonably dressy and comfortable and they definitely have stuff you could wear with socks.

    16. Qwerty*

      I love my flat boots and wedge boots for this reason – not just the socks, but the high height means extra warmth for my legs to increase circulation.

      Flats – Cliffs by White Mountain (I just bought the Francie one, they come out with a similar boot annually with slightly different decoration)
      Wedge – BareTraps. I find the slight height of a wedge more comfortable for my posture than flats, YMMV

      Booties are useful if you want to wear slacks that cover your shoes.

      Also recommend a lap blanket! Keeping legs warm helps with feet. And moving your feet around under your desk a bit – more circulation = warmer feet.

    17. lost academic*

      I have the best pair of Franco Saarto loafers. Love them so much and they come in wide. I wear trouser socks and stockings with them but they’d accommodate the low and no show sock things I see many women wearing with their flats.

      Early in my career I didn’t have much style or money but I needed a ‘work shoe’ and no kidding since I always wore pants I simply wore my Ariat paddock boots every day. Kept them office clean and shiny. Have definitely done that in a pinch and have bonded over clients and contacts recognizing that’s what I’m really doing.

    18. Everything Bagel*

      Why not ankle boots? I have a pair of black leather Kork-Ease ankle boots that are flat and quite comfortable. They’re plain but stylish enough for the office and my orthotics fit in them. I would wear those with casual pants, dress pants, or a skirt and leggings in the winter.

    19. Picard*

      Not a shoe but check these out – sherpa lined stockings! (just one of many companies that offer this sort of thing)

      (link in reply)

    20. Totally Minnie*

      Thanks for the suggestions everybody! I’m going to use them to do some research this weekend.

      1. Haha Lala*

        How much of your day are you just sitting at your desk? I tend to wear my ballet flats well into the colder weather, but I keep a pair of fuzzy slippers under my desk. If I’m just sitting at my desk or on calls I can slip on my warm slippers and no one notices. And I make sure to put my real shoes back on before I get up and walk around. And there are definitely some Men’s slippers that look more like loafers and wouldn’t be that obnoxious in an office…

    21. LittleBabyDamien*

      In addition to warmer foot wear, perhaps a small warm throw rug or mat, especially a wool one, under your desk, might help keep your feet warm. Especially if the floors are cold or there is a draft.
      Good luck with keeping your feet warm!

    22. WFH FTW*

      Dansko clogs. I wear mine with fairly thick socks and they are fine with business slacks. I have black, brown, and a nifty iridescent green pair. Always feel polished for the office.

  23. Not a Real Nurse*

    I was working at a job where I was doing work I loved (for the sake of this example, think nursing), but there was way too much of it and my pay and title did not reflect my responsibilities. Thanks to Ask A Manager I got a job with a title that reflects my skills and desired career path and a major pay increase with a much more reasonable workload. Sounds amazing, right? I am very grateful for the change of pace and increased financial security, however, the work is…not what I was anticipating. My title is now “Nurse” but instead my duties are medication sorting and medical supply inventory only, and I may get a chance to do work nursing patients if other departments need a hand. For now I am improving the “sorting and inventory” processes, but I want to do nursing, and it’s a much better match for my skill set. An internal term position in another department to do actual “nursing” has opened up, but I’m not sure how it would look if I applied to it after only 2 months. So…what do I do?

    1. Panda*

      Most places require you to be in a position for a year before transferring to another internal job.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Building off of what Panda said, see if you can figure out what your company’s policy is for internal transfers. Most places have both a “time in current position” minimum and a requirement that you notify your current manager.

      If your company allows internal transfers at/before 2 months, I suggest notifying your current manager before applying for the position (whether or not it’s required by your company, it’s still good professional courtesy).

      1. Not a Real Nurse*

        This makes sense. At the very least I feel like I should wait until my probationary review, sigh. I feel a bit bad because I know this is not a job I want to do long term as is. My company does have a “career coaching” program, and my partner advised waiting until my probation was up to sign up for that, but maybe I could at least sign up for that at this point?

      1. Not a Real Nurse*

        I’m not sure! It’s not a huge company, so that’s going to limit their pool, and I don’t have a sense at all of who candidates may be.

  24. Ihmmy*

    Not a question but an update, in Nov or early Dec I’d posted I was starting a new job and was very anxious about it. It’s going swimmingly so far! There’s still a lot to learn and it’s pretty complex but my manager said I was doing quite well and that my enthusiasm for the job is definitely noted. The team is filled with wonderful people (even if my work is very separate from them, a number of them eat lunch together when on site) including people who self-correct when they use the wrong pronouns for me, and I get to mostly WFH. I’m excited to see where this goes!

  25. Devo Forevo*

    Hi, new manager here. I’m learning how to communicate clearly and effectively with my team, and I have one employee who consistently doesn’t connect the dots. We communicate mostly on chat, so I’ll write “X task is ready” or “Y still needs to be completed” and she’ll respond with “would you like an extra hand with that?” when in fact those are explicitly parts of her job. There have been other times she’s responded oddly in conversation, so while I’m working on being clearer and modeling effective interactions, there seems to be some miscalibration in the way she phrases things that makes me suspect she’s not “getting” things. How would you approach that?

    1. londonedit*

      For those specific examples it sounds like she’s not realising that ‘X task is ready’ and ‘Y still needs to be completed’ actually means ‘Please start working on X task now’ and ‘Please complete Y task’, so you’ll probably need to start using wording more like that rather than the passive-voice statements you’ve been using. With the other stuff it’s hard to judge without knowing specifics, but again I’d probably draw attention to it in the moment – you could maybe say ‘Jane, I think you might be misunderstanding – the llama reports should be next on your to-do list’ or whatever.

    2. Interplanet Janet*

      It sounds like she’s telling you how she needs it approached: More specifically. Sometimes (possibly with your predecessor?) those sorts of chats can be informational. So the subtext could be:

      X task is ready (at your leisure)
      X task is ready (for anyone on the team who’s free)
      X task is ready (for Joe, could you let him know?)
      X task is ready (and I need you to do it, now)

      She doesn’t know you well enough to know which you mean with just the hint. Some people need things spelled out, at least at first until you get to know each other better.

      1. Dasher*

        A big +1 to this from Janet. I was once in a job where I needed things spelled out at first. After about a month, I synced up and knew how to take my cue.

    3. Elle*

      I have the same issue with an employee. Chat is not a good way to communicate with them. I tend to call to give specific instructions about what is needed and follow that up with an email with what we’ve discussed. If it becomes a larger issue you have documentation so you can show you’ve given specific instructions and clear expectations.

    4. irene adler*

      From the “X task is ready” and “Y still needs to be completed” statements, I’d say you need to be very direct:
      X task is ready for you, [employee name], to complete. (Due date?)
      [employee name], you still need to complete Y task. (Due date?)

      I get that YOU know X and Y are her tasks to complete. In some places, it can be unclear whose responsibility X and Y are if tasks are assigned to different people at intervals. And this is also a neat way to get out of doing one’s work- should boss continue to be vague about who actually is responsible for task X and Y.

      My boss used to use “we” a lot: We need to get project Y completed. Result: no one did a thing towards completing project Y. No one created tasks to complete project Y, no one assigned responsibilities, no deadlines were issued. Boss angry. Not a good way to manage people. Or projects.

    5. Devo Forevo*

      Thanks, everyone! Calling is probably the better way to go. She misses even direct “@” chat messages and emails, but since this is a team of two and she splits the same work with my other direct report who’s great with written instructions, I have been defaulting to chat too much.

      1. Elle*

        I would document each call if you don’t send an email follow up. It’s helpful when you work together on skill building and performance evals.

    6. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I think I’d start replying to her “would you like an extra hand with that?” veryyyyy directly.

      -“It’s part of your job to handle these tasks. I am simply alerting you that it needs to be done.”
      -“Not an extra hand; I need you to complete this as it’s part of your job.”

      And then move on to a bigger picture conversation about what her role is and where the disconnect is.

      1. SomebodyElse*

        This is kind of where I was thinking to go as well.

        I might start with a general conversation first in a one on one…

        “I’ve noticed that when I IM you with things like “X task is ready” or “Y still needs to be completed” you seem to be waiting or asking for confirmation to start working on it. You don’t need to ask or wait. I’m generally telling you because I want you to work on it. If it’s something that is normally part of your job, you should read it as I’m asking you to work on it.”

        Then if it continues I’d go with similar responses to your suggestion for individual cases (probably followed up with a bigger conversation because I’d be worried there would be a bigger disconnect)

        1. Pocket Mouse*

          I disagree a bit. I think it will be more effective — and conducive to a good working relationship — to start by being more explicit, though still friendly, in communicating the task needs in the moment, as others suggested above. For example: “X task is ready for you to work on, it’s the highest priority at the moment so please set aside Y until it’s done.”

          Then, slowly taper back down to messages closer to “X is ready for you” and if she appears to lose track of what that means for her work, have a more general conversation about communication styles and what works best for each of you to hear from each other. If she needs a tiny bit more specification than “X is ready”, so be it. It’s on the manager at that point to recognize and adapt, especially since it would be a near-negligible adaptation.

      2. MacGillicuddy*

        This “is actually part of your job” bit could come off as a bit “scoldy”. Your original statement “task Y is ready to be done” almost sounds like you’re trying to be nice about the assignment because being more direct somehow sends too bossy, so you’re giving a hint rather than being direct. But your report isn’t picking up your meaning.

        You need to be more direct: “please do task Y next” is perfectly OK to say, and doesn’t require further interpretation by the person to whom you’re giving the assignment.

        That way you won’t get annoyed because the person didn’t take the hint.

    7. Random Dice*

      You’re relying on hinting rather than direction, with someone who’s not picking up on hints.

      There is a lot of brain wiring where one simply can’t read hints, and very direct-speech cultures where they can get missed (Israeli, Dutch, etc).

      Whatever the reason, the hints are not being seen as direction, so you need to stop hinting and direct – politely.

    8. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Is it possible that you’re being indirect and she’s “calling you out” on that with those type of responses? to try and push you into being more direct…

    9. DJ*

      Try adding “can you/please start on that” and perhaps a due date if needed. That hopefully will stop the “would you like an extra hand with that”.
      If it’s a task that you want the employee to do without prompting have that discussion of when you like them to do it. But if it’s a task that is relying on you completing something before they start then you will have to let them know when it’s ok for them to start.

    10. RagingADHD*

      I would stop using indirect language and passive voice.

      X is ready for you to do your next step. Please complete it by (timeframe).

      You still need to complete Y. Please return it by (timeframe.)

    11. Irish Teacher*

      To be honest, phraseology like “X task is ready” or “Y still needs to be completed” is pretty vague. I can imagine responding like she does, simply because I wouldn’t be sure if you were asking me to do it or not.

      I mean, most people would get what you mean, but some of us get a big confused by vague language and it sounds like she is one of us here.

      So I would approach it by simply saying stuff like “X task is ready for you. When can you start work on it?” or “You still need to complete Y. When do you think you can have it done by?”

  26. Law School Student*

    Hi! This semester, I am taking a class in law school called “Income Taxation.” I was wondering if anyone here has any tips or advice for how to study for tax law?

    I’ve been reading the textbook and it’s a little overwhelming because there is a lot of information.

    1. Ah Yes*

      Lawyer here (but not a tax lawyer) — I sympathize with the tax class. I hated mine, and then I had to study it again since it was on my bar. My recommendation would be to think of it as building blocks and to focus on the first concept first, which will likely be “What is taxable income?” Answer: “Any income from whatever source derived.” After that, it’s all a big bunch of exceptions. Instead of looking at the huge, overwhelming amount of information, take it bit by bit.

      I’d also recommend getting your hands on one of the bar study guides that includes income tax, because the bar prep stuff breaks it down really well. Illinois is a state that tests on federal income tax, and the Themis study guide is good.

      1. Law School Student*

        Thank you so much!! I am in Illinois so that is really helpful to know! (I’m a 2L, so not quite ready for bar prep yet, but getting there.)

        Thank you for Themis recommendation, I’m checking it out now!

    2. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Dig the syllabus and look to see whether the professor will tend to focus on policy or word problems. Ask them for past exams. Get a commercial outline so that you can get a big-picture understanding of the area.

      I want to say that at the introductory level in a law school course on income tax, most of the problems turn on the questions of: is it income (it almost always is); does an exception apply; and, if no exception applies, when was the income realized.

      1. Law School Student*

        Thank you so much! Your explanation is really helpful, I’m starting to see the pattern in the readings so far about “is it income and does an exception apply.”

    3. Emmie*

      I second the bar prep study guides. Those are the best.

      I also found success with an income tax law flow chart I bought when I was in law school. If that would be helpful to you, I can look up who made the charts.

      1. Law School Student*

        That would be so great if you could, thank you so much! We have a recommended book called Federal Income Tax Logic Maps, I’m not sure if that is something similar?

        1. Emmie*

          They might be similar! The one I had was one large poster instead of a book of maps / diagrams.

          I had the “Income Tax Map, A Bird’s-Eye View of Federal Income Taxation for Law Students” from West Academic. There’s a 202o edition on amazon you can find by searching the language in the quotes. Full disclosure: I have never been a tax lawyer. I do not know whether there have been meaningful updates since 2020.

          Tax law actually made sense to me. I had a strong business background before law school. I am rooting for you!

  27. Shira*

    How do you feel about paid vs unpaid lunch breaks for exempt employees? Our (fully remote) team mostly consists of exempt employees who are contracted to work an eight-hour shift each day. They can take an additional hour for lunch, which is considered unpaid.

    However, due to the nature of our field and the way our team is structured, urgent situations will occasionally come up that we need certain employees to hop on and address. This means that every so often we need to interrupt employees’ lunch breaks and ask them to do certain tasks to avoid causing serious problems for our workflow and holding up lots of other employees’ projects.

    We have been getting complaints from these employees that since they are occasionally pulled into work during these lunch breaks, these breaks should be paid. (Since these aren’t hourly employees, they are asking that we either change their contracts to reflect that they are working nine-hour shifts and increasing their salaries proportionately or decrease their shift length to seven hours with the paid lunch as the eighth.)

    I really do understand these employees’ concerns. However, many of our higher-ups have been resistant to making this change because these crises are not that often, and MOST of these lunch hours are spent not working, so they don’t feel it makes sense for them to count as paid time.

    1. Gracely*

      I think the logical thing to do is let them decrease their shift length when it happens, since they *are* working those hours. So if you need to pull people in 30 minutes into a lunch break, they go home at 4:30 instead of 5, or the next day they can come in at 8:30 instead of 8. That’s the easiest thing to do when it’s infrequent.

      1. Shira*

        The issue is that we then need to find someone to cover the time when they’re not on at the end, meaning someone else has to come in early, meaning we have to find someone to cover the end of their shift, and it really throws off the whole schedule.

          1. Shira*

            We can’t because they are exempt. I wish I could change this policy but it’s from way over my head (and I don’t think they want to be non-exempt either)

            1. constant_craving*

              Being exempt is determined by legal standards, not just company policy. Impossible to tell from just this, but it seems like they may be incorrectly classified.

              I’m a bit confused by the logistics too. If they have an 8 hour shift but can optionally add in an hour lunch break, why would taking only a 30 minute one and leaving after having worked 8 hours be such a hassle for when the next shift starts? Seems like they’re still there 30 minutes after the 8 hour shift they’re scheduled for.

    2. ThatGirl*

      Can they take the rest of their lunch break later? like, a half-hour break in the mid-afternoon? or just sign off a little early?

      1. Shira*

        We do allow that, but I think the concern is more that they are expected to be reachable during these breaks.

        1. Shira*

          The other issue with them leaving early is that we then need to find someone to cover the time when they’re not on, which means we have to decrease that person’s shift length, and it really throws off the whole schedule.

        2. ThatGirl*

          I mean, I have to be honest, if I were regularly expected to be available during my break AND I had no flexibility to leave early or start later… I’d want to get paid for that time too.

        3. Warrior Princess Xena*

          I agree with ThatGirl. If they are expected to be available and can’t flex their time, that is not ‘unpaid’ time. That is on-call time and should be paid appropriately.

        4. Roland*

          It is pretty outrageous to say “this hour is unpaid but you better not turn your phone off and if we ask you to work you can’t go home early because it would be difficult for us to schedule”. You need to pay them or deal with the schedule difficulties.

        5. Not A Manager*

          What does “expected to be reachable” mean? What are the consequences if someone is consistently not reachable on their unpaid, scheduled lunch?

          1. Shira*

            It just can hold up projects. They are not pinged on their lunch break very often and generally if you ignore the ping and just say “sorry I was at lunch” later everyone’s understanding. But many people do respond to the lunch pings anyway, which I understand. Sometimes if you hear there’s a problem you want to fix it and sometimes if your manager is pinging you you might not want to ignore it.

            1. ThatGirl*

              I’ve never worked on a project that was so urgent it couldn’t wait for me to be done with lunch. Sounds like people need to walk away from their computers during lunch and just enforce that boundary for themselves.

            2. Problem child*

              and sometimes if your manager is pinging you you might not want to ignore it. So, it sounds like they are expected to reply to pings while on a “break”. Sounds like some jackholes want theirs and the employees cake too and eat them both themselves. These folks should be paid.

          2. Not A Manager*

            If these people all decided amongst themselves that they were going to be “off site” for unpaid lunch and completely unreachable, would the company work around that, or would they be required to be on-call?

            If the company would work around it if that were to happen, I think the company should just institute those work-arounds now, and tell people that their lunch time is their own. If the company would tell people that they are required to be available during lunch, then the company should recognize that lunch is actually work time, and pay for it. Either way, management should be proactive and not allow a clearly unfair situation to fester.

            1. Shira*

              If they arranged to all be out for an offsite together, then in my experience the company would hire temps to cover during that period. Versions of this have happened before, I think it’s just not something they can arrange if an emergency pops up while the employee on shift is at lunch. But yes I agree it’s not a fair situation at all

              1. Not A Manager*

                I was proposing this as a thought-experiment to see whether this is really non-work time that should be unpaid, or whether it’s work time that needs to be paid. Right now, these people are not paid for lunch. If they all said, as a group, that they are all taking their lunch, every day, as their own private time and they will never be reachable during lunch, would the company (a) let them do it and find a workaround, or (b) make them be available at lunchtime?

                If the answer is (a), then the company should do that now. If the answer is (b), then the company should start paying them for lunch.

    3. Decidedly Me*

      Would other options go over better? Such as taking the rest of their break at a different time or leaving early on on days where they didn’t get their full lunch?

      Personally, I have an unpaid lunch and typically work through it – this is by choice and I’m in a position where I can adjust my schedule accordingly (which I sometimes do). However, for folks on my team that do not have that option, I make sure they are taking their breaks and it’s really rare we would bother someone on lunch. If I had to, I’d have them do one of my two original suggestions.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I was going to say, can you ask staff people to stagger their lunch breaks so that someone is “on” to cover these rare occasions when they come up? I agree you can’t have these employees be basically engaged to wait but not pay them for the time.

    4. Cordelia*

      For me, an unpaid lunch break means the person isn’t working. If they have to be available to work if needed, they are on-call and should be being paid. And yes, on some on-call shifts the person doesn’t get called in, but that’s just how it is – they are available for work, and contactable, not at the dentist, or at the gym, or doing any of the myriad other things a person can choose to do with their personal time, which is what an unpaid break is. If you work in a field where urgent unexpected cover is sometimes needed, then you need to staff for this, and pay your staff. Your employees complaints seem justified to me, and they have come up with reasonable solutions for you to consider

      1. Kes*

        I agree with this. If they’re unpaid, that means that is not work time. It sounds like you (well, management) want them to be on-call/available to work whenever during this time, but without being willing to compensate them for that fact, which seems unreasonable to me. I don’t know exactly what the rules are around on call or engaged to wait or whatever where you are but it’s probably worth looking into.

      1. Shira*

        These employees are all very highly skilled and specialized (I think that’s probably why they’re exempt), so it’s not always realistic to have multiple on in the same specialty. I wish we could hire way more of them so there could always be tons on in every specialty, but that’s over my head (and also due to how highly-skilled these positions are, they can be difficult to fill).

        1. WellRed*

          The fact they are highly specialized and skilled and hard to hire for means you’re company should bend over to accommodate them. Otherwise they’ll move on and then who fills in for these unpaid WORK hours.

        2. Cally*

          If they can’t flex time on an adhoc basis because you need coverage at end of day too, is it possible to let them bank the time into an extra PTO day or two to be taken at a later time?

          To me, even if they’re highly paid, having a salaried exempt job with strict coverage needs and no hourly flexibility seems like an inherent mismatch — you need them to work extra to get the job done, but you can’t offer them the flexibility of working /less/ on less demanding days. But if it has to be that way, I would make sure to make that clear in hiring, and describe it as a 9 hr shift with an on-call lunch

    5. AnotherLibrarian*

      I think if you expect people to be available, that’s paid time. In fact, in the USA (if that’s where you’re located) than it’s called, “engaged to wait” and I’m fairly certain you have to consider it paid time. So, yeah, I don’t see a way around this.

      In short, I think your employees are right and your management is wrong. What you do with that information is up to you, but if your work is calculating salaries based on an eight hour day, but these folks are expected to be available for nine hours, then that’s pretty disingenuous.

    6. SomebodyElse*

      A couple of questions:
      How often is ‘occasionally’? Once a week, month, quarter?

      Is it really urgent (as in can’t wait a theoretical hour)? Not knowing the nature of your work I’m having a hard time coming up with something that couldn’t wait an hour. I’m not saying there isn’t I’m just trying to put this into context.

      Based on those two questions; Is there a way to decrease the amount of time it’s happening or recalibrate what urgency means?

      Barring that, yes, I do think you need to figure out a way to make them whole. Maybe it’s that you save up some of these instances and do a bigger block of comp time that is easier to schedule or you get creative with the coverage.

      1. Shira*

        It’s probably in the realm of once a month. I think there are definitely times when you could wait a theoretical hour without the company collapsing but the employee doesn’t necessarily want them to (because they themselves don’t want to be the one holding up the project they’re being pinged about).

        1. SoUnidentifiable*

          I don’t know- I feel like poor policy is holding the project up not the person taking their legally entitled meal break.

    7. Mill Miker*

      I’ll be honest, with the other details in the comments, this is feeling a bit like “Our employees are accusing us of wage theft. They’re right, but change is hard. How can we convince them to stop complaining?”

      I’ve really never understood unpaid lunches for exempt positions. Do the hours that are actually being worked matter, or don’t they? I’ve been places where it was literally “Put in as many extra unpaid hours as needed to complete the tasks, you can flex things a bunch if you need to, but specifically 1 hour every day (you pick which, one of the middle ones) is unpaid.”

      1. Shira*

        I’m not in upper management to be clear. I understand what these employees are saying and want to advocate for them. I just wanted to gut check that I’m not crazy for thinking this.

    8. Rosemary*

      Maybe I am not clear on what exactly “exempt” is – but I was under the assumption that exempt = salaried. And are salaried workers held to the same time rules as hourly workers? If you are an hourly worker – ie punching a time card for the time actually you work then it makes sense to get upset about having to work through lunch. But I thought with salaried jobs..that was just kinda part of the deal? (Especially if it is truly just occasional)

      1. Shira*

        Yes, they are salaried. But due to the nature of their jobs we have to have them working on shifts to make sure there’s always someone available to address certain matters.

      2. Cally*

        Yeah, I think the weirdness here is that the job is exempt but has strict coverage reqs and inflexible hours generally. I am salaried exempt with an “unpaid lunch” that I do work through sometimes, or have to schedule a meeting in or whatever — but I also know I can duck out early, or take a longer combo lunch+doctors office midday break or whatever else when I’m /not/ caught up in something urgent. OPs company wants 1-way flexibility, you work unscheduled hours when needed, but never work less than scheduled hours

        1. Shira*

          Yeah, that is exactly the situation here. They aren’t working tirelessly the entire shift. When we’re not caught up in something urgent, we can all be doing doctors’ appointments and such — there just also happens to be an unpaid lunch where sometimes people get pinged. I think it’s a little nonsensical but I guess that’s how the company does it, trying to figure out the best way to serve my team given that.

          1. Cally*

            Ahhh
            In general, if they’re not caught up in something, would it be ok for them to leave 30 minutes early occasionally (or take a break at some non lunch time); and just be unstaffed for that thirty minutes?

            If that’s the case, I actually think your current pay structure is reasonable – sometimes being salaried means working through lunch

    9. Alex*

      Are they *really* exempt? Meaning, do they actually meet the fed requirements for exempt work? That is my first question because this sounds like they actually might not meet those requirements.

      The nature of exempt usually means that you work however many hours is needed. If you are expecting flexibility from them regarding their lunch breaks, exempt employees expect flexibility in return regarding hours. Work a bit extra when needed, quit early when not. If the higher ups have no flexibility regarding coverage between X and Y times, they can’t expect it back. Also check your state’s laws about meal breaks. My state has a law that any employee working a 6 hour shift is entitled to an uninterrupted 30 minute meal break. If you are not providing that, you could be breaking the law.

      1. Shira*

        Some of these employees used to be hourly, but there was pushback on that (they didn’t like having to fill out a timecard and I think there were a couple other issues, but they strongly wanted to be exempt) so they ended up all being moved to exempt. My understanding is in our state the lunch break rule only applies to non-exempt employees but I’m not positive (this is a massive company and that’s done company-wide).

    10. samecoin*

      are you looking for reasonable solutions or a way to get them to stop complaining. there have been great suggestions here that seem to be shut down instantly…..

      1. Shira*

        I agree with the way these employees feel but with all the pushback they are getting from management, I wanted to check what other people here thought. But the most realistic solution to advocate for would be an increase in pay. I don’t think the staggering breaks/assigning break times is realistic to get the company to implement as nice as it would be.

        1. Upland*

          What happens when someone is at the dentist or on vacation or otherwise unable to engage (not necessarily at lunch). It’s hard to know without details but it‘s hard to understand how these tasks are so urgent, are so unpredictable, and can’t be done by colleagues.

          It almost seems like the culture needs to be changed so that people don’t respond, or feel okay not responding, when they’re on lunch. I agree that this sounds like on-call time and they should be paid, but if that’s not possible and flexible scheduling isn’t possible, then maybe that hour should be protected.

          1. Shira*

            When we’re going on vacation or have a dentist appointment scheduled, we let our managers know in advance and they have someone else cover for us during that time. If an emergency comes up where you need to be away, the desk may occasionally remain uncovered for a brief period of time until someone else steps in.

            I definitely think it is probably part of the culture that some people feel like they need to respond to pings even when it is not required. It’s something I think the whole company need to be more proactive about changing that. I will bring that up with my manager as well.

            1. Shira*

              They also have temps and contractors they will bring on to cover when all folks in a given position are on vacation, but those are hard to arrange for urgent situations that suddenly arise

    11. cncx*

      I had a coverage-based job where there were three of us who could do a given job. We staggered lunch so that one of us was always interrupt-able. We also had staggered shifts 7-4, 8-5, 9-6. Are there enough people who can Do the Thing to stagger lunch?

      1. cncx*

        Oops just realized this was already addressed. Maybe some SLAs about what really cannot wait 30 minutes?

    12. Shira*

      Thanks everyone for your advice here. I definitely agree with a lot of what you’ve all said and now have some ideas I can bring to management.

    13. BRR*

      If the employees have some flexibility to come in late/leave early that’s roughly equal to when they’re pinged at lunch, overall not just the same day, then I think they should let it go. If they’re only expected to work extra time, that’s when you have to change something.

      1. Shira*

        Honestly, I think if they just decided to leave early on these days when they were pinged during lunch, I doubt many higher-ups would notice, assuming that something urgent didn’t come up during that time. But some people are uncomfortable doing that without an official policy that allows them to, which I understand. But management is reluctant to issue such a policy because — it’s something I will push them more on.

    14. Snarky McSnarkson*

      I think what you have here is the employees are misunderstanding what it means to be exempt. Exempt employees are expected to put in as many hours as it takes to get the job done. That’s it.

      Give them a raise. If you institute a policy about these situations, you are treating them as non-exempt and then the DOL could be brought in. Are they really exempt based on government rules? I’d check that first.

  28. Hotdog not dog*

    So we are going through another internal reorganization.
    My team is being reassigned to a new manager (ours was transferred elsewhere in the company) as of January 1st and rumor has it that our job descriptions have changed and our duties along with them.
    However, we still haven’t been told who our new manager will be or what new tasks are coming.
    We are all job hunting anyway, but it’s nerve wracking sitting here thinking maybe they forgot we’re here! It’s been a whole week!
    There are multiple job requisitions for our role, so I doubt they’ll eliminate us. (I work in compliance for a large investment firm. They’re required to have us.)
    For now, we’re just continuing to do the same stuff we did last week, but this is SO weird! I’d take a few days of pto, only there’s no manager to approve time off. (One of my colleagues submitted a request and it’s just pending. We didn’t “roll up” in the org chart, there’s just a blank space.)
    I have never seen anything like this. What would you do?

    1. ferrina*

      That’s so weird. If it helps, I have a relative that works in city govt that that keeps happening to- she’ll go for a couple months without a manager, then will get someone that has no idea what she does. The only thing to do is keep doing your job until someone tells you to stop, and ask HR if you need someone to sign off on PTO or what not.

      Good luck!

    2. The New Wanderer*

      I’ve been in a similar situation but one level removed – our senior manager took a different internal job and they never backfilled that position, so my manager technically reported to the director (and dotted line to another senior manager). It wasn’t as disruptive though, nobody’s job description changed.

      For the PTO issue, who has signing authority when your previous manager went on any leave? I would guess another manager in the same division, or your senior manager. HR should definitely know this.

    3. Purple Cat*

      If your PTO would generally have been approved in the past, I would take it anyway. Send an email to HR telling them when you’ll be off.
      Otherwise, initiate specific conversations with grandboss. It’s outrageous to keep you in the dark like this.

    4. Ama*

      For the PTO issue I’d definitely try to bring that to the attention of someone in HR or a grandboss or something, because that sounds like it might just be an oversight. Just a polite “hey, we’ve noticed there’s no one who seems to be setup in the system to approve PTO for our team right now, who should we contact if we have a request?” will hopefully fix it.

      For the other issue there’s unfortunately not much you can do until you know more, so I would say just keep doing what you are doing until a new manager is assigned.

    5. Hotdog not dog*

      HR told my colleague to wait to take pto until someone is assigned. We did reach out to one of the regional managers, and hopefully something will happen next week. We all got invited to a zoom on Monday with no subject or agenda, so perhaps they will shed some light.
      Part of the problem is that so many people were shuffled around that we no longer have a grand boss either, and prior to the one regional manager, everyone we’ve reached out to had no clue.
      I might as well have been on pto today; with no new work being assigned I finished all my pending projects, my laundry, cleaned the kitchen, scheduled several personal appointments, and of course read AAM…and I’ve still got an hour to go before I can technically log off for the day!

      1. Generic Name*

        Uh, you have no manager and it sounds like you’ve wrapped up all your work. And you have a mystery meeting Monday (let me guess, first thing) with no subject or agenda. It sounds like a layoff is imminent. I’m so sorry, and I hope I’m wrong.

  29. Llama Wrangler*

    I know this has been asked before, but for other US-ians who work in non-profits or non-teaching education fields, I’m curious : how much paid time off do you have (vacation, personal, sick, paid holidays)? (Feel free to answer if you’re in other industries, but specify your industry!)

    My company (an education non-profit) 13 paid holidays, 3 floating paid holidays, and 20 days banked PTO (for vacation, sick, or personal). Our HR maintains this is competitive, but it’s less than I’ve gotten in other orgs in the field, and not having a specific sick bank in particular feels stingy.

    1. KayDeeAye*

      At my nonprofit:
      20 days’ vacation (but I’ve worked here a long time – we start with 10 days)
      7 sick days
      8 holidays, plus (for the first time this year) the week between Christmas and New Year’s, for a total of 12.
      Five “summer days,” which are floating holidays that can be used only within a certain time frame.

    2. Sloanicota*

      At my nonprofit, which I don’t consider generous: two weeks paid off, plus all Federal holidays, plus the office is closed between Christmas and New Years (we are still paid). Five days sick leave. However, no leave rolls over – it’s all “use it or lose it” – meaning you could basically never take two full weeks or more, no matter how long you worked there, unless you scheduled it around Christmas.

    3. Roodler*

      I work in Student Support for a network of PK-12 charter schools in a HCOL area. I get 3 weeks paid vacation, 2 weeks paid sick, plus of week of Covid-specific sick leave if needed. On top of this there are all federal holidays off, random teacher development half days, plus a week at Thanksgiving and 2 weeks at Christmas (paid). It’s an intense job and the days are long, but it really works with my family’s schedule and I’m fortunate to have a great boss who has no problem with remote work as needed/appropriate!

    4. Elbereth Gilthoniel*

      I’m at a US cultural non profit (museum).
      We get 13 paid holidays, 0 floating, 12 sick days. Vacation varies depending on length of service. Only 15 days when you start, but a max of 30 days by the time you reach 6 years working there.

    5. LimeRoos*

      Non-profit health insurance here, we have 8 paid holidays, 1 float holiday, and PTO (combined) starts at 18 for non-exempt and 23 for exempt, and increases in steps (3 yr, 10 yr, 15 yr) up to 33 for both. It feels pretty good for our industry – I came from the provider side before and had waaaay less PTO – previous company put all PTO into one pool including holidays, which really sucked because if stuff happened during the year, you might not get paid for the end of year holidays if you ran out of PTO. AND! If they did a surprise we’re closing early at Xmas or New Years eve, you still had to use PTO for those few hours, and welp, too bad if you had already planned it all out, no pay for you.

    6. Llama Wrangler*

      Thanks for all the responses so far! To add for me – we can roll over up to 10 days of PTO, and the PTO increases to 25 days in year 3 (but not further after that).

      1. KayDeeAye*

        We can roll over 10 vacation days, and starting this year, we can roll over up to 5 sick days.

    7. HE Admin*

      I am a salaried staff member in a non-student-facing role at a university. I have 21 days paid vacation (can roll over up to 105 hours at the end of the year), 12 paid sick days per year (rolls over indefinitely; I currently have over 300 sick hours banked), and 10 holidays, plus the days around some of those–like we get Thanksgiving, but we also get the Friday after off, and we get the whole time around Christmas/New Year’s off; this year our last day in the office was Dec 23rd and we were back in the office on Jan 3rd. None of that comes out of the vacation bank. We also have a 2-to-1 retirement match of up to 5%, so if I put 5% in my retirement account, my institution puts in 10%.

      Agreed that having that amount of sick and vacation combined feels stingy.

    8. Pop*

      I work in education nonprofits in a MCOL city. To me that seems about average based on what I’ve seen for nonprofits, not “generous” but definitely not bad. I think it also depends a bit on how you are required to use time off and flexing time. My employer doesn’t require you to use sick time for a weekly therapy or normal dentist appt – it’s just for things of 2 hours or more. So, our sick time essentially seems endless because many of us rarely have to use it. And, we can take off early for happy hour without using an hour of PTO. My old employer would nickel and dime our time off, and so even though it looked the same on paper it was actually much less generous.

    9. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      US military here, I think we have the best leave policy:

      30 days of leave per year.

      All federal holidays (and usually a free 4-day weekend, so for example if MLK day is a Monday we have Friday off also)

      The ability to take 3- or 4- day passes, based on your particular command’s policy and leadership approach. Passes are non-chargeable leave, and two of those days are required to include a weekend (so Friday-Sunday or Sat-Tue or Fri-Mon or Thur-Sun).

      Unlimited sick leave with a doctors note. Don’t have to take leave to go see the doctor either. Or pay to see the doctor.

      Balance that with times where you working every day, 16 hour days on one deployment and ‘only’ 8 hours on Sundays, (and having 1.5 days off a week on a different deployment) and it works for me.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        Military leave is pretty great, but if you left town (didn’t stay at your house) your weekends and holidays were counted as leave days because you were not available to be called in (not that I was on call). That was a bummer when working for a NATO organization that has generous holiday where we were off, but if I (a single person) wanted to see my family I had to fly to another country and take leave while the office was on holiday. Whereas the Americans with their family spouse and kids could spend the holiday with their family without leaving town and without taking leave.

        I’m not really familiar with passes and using passes.

        It’s great, but not comparable to other US companies and non-profits.

    10. Anonymous Today*

      My non-profit community blood center:
      Everyone starts at 27 days of PTO a year, this is one bank that covers all holidays, sick time, and vacation time. So if all 6 major federal holidays are during the week then you get 21 days to use as you want.
      Every 5 years it goes up by 5 days and maxes out at 42 days a year.
      We’re allowed to carry 1 year’s worth over on our anniversary date, anything above that goes into an Extended Illness Bank that we can use if we’re out more than 2 days for a medical reason.
      We also have a buyback program every year that allows you to buy down your bank to 40 hours as long as you took 80 hours in the previous 12 months.

    11. Ama*

      We have 20 days vacation (everyone starts at 15 and you get the extra week after you’ve been on staff for three years), plus 2 personal days. Vacation you can roll over up to half your time every calendar year; the personal days don’t roll over. Sick time accrues in a separate bucket, it accrues slower than the vacation but never expires — it does stop accruing at 20 days, and then once you’ve used some time it will accrue back up to that limit.

      I think we have about 13 paid holidays on the calendar officially. However, since the pandemic started we’ve also had a few instances where leadership decided to close the office for an entire week (for both 2021 and 2022 it was the last week of August and the week of Thanksgiving) and just gave us the extra days (we only got two days for Thanksgiving officially). I don’t know if that will continue once our hybrid schedule starts up next month, though, I kind of hope it does since those are generally very quiet weeks for us and it is really nice to have a break and know you aren’t coming back to a bunch of emails from coworkers because they are all off, too.

      So yes, yours seems a little stingy to me.

      1. Llama Wrangler*

        Yes, what you described is about what I had at my old job! (Previous jobs were at academic institutions that were even more generous, but I didn’t expect that to be the norm.)

    12. AnotherLibrarian*

      University Librarian- 5.5 hours of sick leave per paid period, 4.6 hours of paid vacation per pay period. 1 floating holiday. 12 paid holidays.

    13. Ada Lovelace*

      At a library system in NYC:

      3 weeks of vacation to start and can rollover up to 10 vacation days per year
      1 additional week of vacation every 5 years
      12 paid holidays where we are closed (now including Juneteenth)
      Floating paid holidays (Lincoln’s Bday, Election Day) and a bonus day
      accrue 1 sick day a month but have no cap

      This year they closed the Friday after thanksgiving as well.

    14. nonprofit time*

      Nonprofit space

      12 paid holidays
      4 ‘extra’ days to use for emergencies or personal holidays
      7 days sick a year, rolls over to 60 days max
      15 days vacation at hire, goes to 25 days in 2nd year, rolls over to 30 days max
      5 days covid sick time
      2 weeks caregiver leave for pandemic

      Plus admin time for professional development, and they gave us around 2 weeks ‘whatever’ time early in covid to get stuff figured out, and we have other paid sick leave through the state. It’s an ‘open secret’ that HR will float you up to a week of extra time in an emergency that you don’t have to pay back. And would you believe people complain it’s not enough time still?

      1. anonymous semi educator*

        I used to work in higher ed, most places gave 4 weeks vacation. Some also gave the week between Christmas and New Year’s off but it wasn’t “guaranteed” but was never taken away. Paid holidays varied, some stingier than others. Snow days pre pandemic also varied in stinginess. Most had 2 weeks sick time.

        I had one other job in an educational nonprofit with only 20 days sick+vacation in one bank. They didn’t tell me upon hire it included sick time, ugh.

        They did have some flexibility to WFH pre pandemic and went hybrid or full time WFH after. More generous with holidays and some afternoons off for part of the summer. (not guaranteed but we had it every year I was there, number of weeks varied though)

    15. Picard*

      US manufacturing company

      10 paid holidays
      12 vacation days (taken in half day increments)
      7 sick days (taken in half hour increments)
      can flex up to three hours a day

  30. Dasher*

    I’m about to start a new job that doesn’t close for much time during the holidays. By the time I get to next Christmas, I’m concerned I won’t have the vacation time saved up to hit my family, in-laws, and the annual New Year’s gathering in New Orleans. I’d need about two more days than I’d have at that time. I’m ok taking days without pay or going into arrears with vacation days or anything else; it’s just important to me to make all these obligations during a holiday season. What would be your advice about wanting to take more time at the holidays than you may be eligible for? (And I’m talking two, three days tops, not a full week or anything like that.)

    1. irene adler*

      A business depends upon you being there for the days you are not scheduled to take off. So, the issue isn’t whether you will take two-three unpaid days, but whether the work that would have been completed during those two-three days is completed. Can you arrange for that to happen?
      One avenue is to give the boss lots of advanced notice to plan the schedule accordingly.
      Another is for you to get the work done ahead of time.
      A third is to see if a co-worker can cover for you.

      1. reality check please*

        These are all good suggestions, but I disagree it’s necessarily a coverage issue. Some places are just stingy about PTO, and it might be fine to take time unpaid, especially during the holidays. I work in government so they can’t give everyone the week off between Christmas and New Year’s. I didn’t want to burn 1/3 of my annual allotted PTO that week, so I took one day off and spent the other three days covering for my entire team of 8. It was dead quiet and I was online 8 hours but didn’t work 8 hour days. Talk to your new manager early about what the culture is like during the holidays and put together a plan, but don’t assume things will or won’t be an issue without asking.

    2. Ins mom*

      At the risk of sounding harsh, as the newby, you might just not get what you want. If it is coverage based, it is likely management has a procedure in place for requesting days off, which is not gonna please you

    3. ferrina*

      Seconding irene adler.

      Talk to your boss about unpaid leave to see if that’s an option. Make sure that you are extremely reliable, with strong work product and meeting/beating deadlines. A boss will be more likely to make exceptions for a strong performer, and it will build the trust that you can get your work done before you go.

      But also- how much PTO do you need? You’re starting in January and won’t have the PTO by December- usually that means that you’ll have your full annual PTO accrued. Does that mean that you are regularly planning on taking more than your annual PTO? That may not be okay, even for a three day window. You may be able to get away with it if you are senior or specialized, but in a lot of roles it won’t look good and could even cause business problems (I’ve worked at companies where this would have a serious negative impact). Are there places where you can slim down your PTO usage to make it last longer? Half days you could work instead of taking a full PTO, or making up time later in the week?

      1. Dasher*

        Howdy- thanks for your reply. You’re right- I don’t need much so maybe it’s best to budget my PTO accordingly throughout the year, knowing I’ll use a lot at the holidays.

    4. Person from the Resume*

      I’d try to take less vacation earlier in the year to ensure I have the necessary days for the holiday visits I consider important at the end of the year.

      You should ask your boss even if unpaid vacation is an option or going into arrears. The business may have a policy that it isn’t allowed or if it is under certain circumstances. If these holidays are important to you, you should also find out what like of vacation policy exists. If it’s a coverage job, will you be able to take off as much as you want during the holidays without incoveniencing other coworkers by forcing them to work.

      My organization has a generous vacation policy, but we only get the standard federal holidays as holidays so I am very much used to getting one holiday off for Christmas, one the next week for New Year’s Day and working or taking vacation for the other days off I want around that time of year. And people plan their vacation to make sure they have what need/want in the final weeks of the year.

    5. AnotherLibrarian*

      First off, I agree with folks who have said that as the “new person” you may not have the political capital to ask for all these days off your first year. To build up some of that political capital, are there other holiday’s you’re willing to skip? Being willing to cover say the 4th of July or Thanksgiving might really endear you to folks when the holidays roll around. And as other’s have said, being a rockstar helps when you start asking for exceptions. In the end though, this is going to 100% depend on the type of work you do and how much coverage is needed over holidays. My work literally shuts down for the week between Christmas and New Years and even if we didn’t, there’s just nothing to do that week. However, when I worked for an airlines, those days were all hands on deck. It’s going to be super dependent on your field.

    6. Employed Minion*

      In addition to what everyone else has said, your request for vacation may not be approved (maybe as the new person). My dept has a cap on how many people can take off on any given day. If that cap is met, you don’t get off unless its an emergency etc.

    7. Echo*

      It varies a TON by organization. At my company, no one would blink at someone going -2 days on PTO after a full year at the job, , especially during the holidays, assuming they had given ample notice about the PTO and were otherwise responsible about time off. (They would have to pay that time back if they quit before they accrued the 2 days though.) At others, this would be an absolute non-starter. I think you have to stick around and get a feel for the culture.

      Is it possible to work remotely for two of those days while visiting family?

      1. Dasher*

        Now that I think about it, you’re right. Company culture could factor in here. I’ll have to figure that out. But you’re right: remote work would really help in a situation like this. All I need is a day or two!

  31. Berryordinary*

    Something I don’t think I handled well in my last job search (which was just messy for a lot of reasons) and would love to get better at is how to suss out and compare compensation in bonus-heavy jobs.

    I’m in a type of law where bonus is typically a sizable chunk of the compensation, and can (in a really good year) be equivalent to 100% of your salary. Of course, it can also be nothing in a bad year. The base salaries I’ve heard vary *wildly* across peer firms, and my sense is that some of this difference is explained by different approaches to bonuses, but I’m not sure what questions to ask to get a good sense of total comp, especially when the bonuses are so, so variable and not clearly tied to the actual work you do but rather the whims of the court and settlement timing.

    1. Purple Cat*

      Ask them for what the bonus structure is going forward and for specific figures of the bonuses that have been paid in the past. They should know the variability of bonuses in your industry and should be comfortable providing more details accordingly.

  32. Anonymous resignation question*

    I have landed a new job that pays obscenely well, and I’m excited for the opportunity.

    However. How does one resign from a remote job? Do I just send a resignation email to my direct supervisor, or do I also include my department head?

    Further, I have a personal safety situation wherein I don’t want to provide my new position’s details. Is that going to be too far outside the norm? My current position is legally giving me on-paper protection because the the probation order specifically says “no contact with Anonymous’s friends, family, or coworkers”. I’m just slightly anxious about leaving this safety net even though my actual job is currently awful. TIA!

    1. All the Birds*

      You’re under no obligation whatsoever to disclose where you’re going when you leave Current Job. It’s not outside the norm at all.

    2. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

      Lots of people don’t leave much (or any) info about the job they’re going to. Oftentimes for confidentiality reasons that New Job has imposed. If anyone pries, just tell them it’s “confidential for now” and let now be forever.

    3. cleo*

      Tell your direct supervisor that you’re resigning and ask them if you need to notify anyone else.

      I feel like there’s a wide range of norms when it comes to saying where you’re going next and not saying where you’re going is perfectly acceptable. Sometimes people give their new company, some people say what industry they’re going to, some people just say they’re excited for their next chapter.

      Congratulations on your new job!

      1. ferrina*

        This. If possible, get a virtual meeting with your direct supervisor- otherwise, email is fine. Let the direct supervisor know first, unless you have serious concerns about them.

    4. Drewdad*

      I’ve seen lots of advice not to disclose your new workplace until at least after you’ve started the new role.

      Not unknown for people to try to sabotage the new role.

    5. Lily Rowan*

      Do you have any kind of live communication with your supervisor? If so, I’d resign then, in a call or Zoom or whatever. If not, I guess email is fine.

    6. Person from the Resume*

      You resign to your direct supervisor. It’s usually advised to do it over the phone, but if that is an extremely unusual way to communicate with your supervisor an email is fine. You don’t need a paper trail to prove you resigned or anything; although, a follow up email reiterating the details is not unusual.

      It’s not uncommon to not say where you are going. That’s not part of standard resignation, but your supervisor may ask to make friendly small talk. You can “rather not say.” Or you can lie and vageuly say you don’t know yet and choose to take some time not to work, to travel, to decompress, whatever.

  33. Amber Rose*

    I have three weeks to do an overwhelming amount of work and I’m struggling to do anything at all. I keep working on unimportant side projects.

    When you have two staggeringly huge projects, and both are equally important and on the exact same deadline, how do you sort out your time? Do you do one at a time, or half a day on one and half a day on the other?

    1. Dicey*

      Getting started can be the hardest part when you’re in this space, so I’d recommend finding something relatively easy within one or both of the projects to tackle first. Could be a to-do list, an outline, just saving the project name on a doc or PPT. Once you’re moving, you can create the momentum needed to expand to bigger parts of the project. When I’m in this situation, I also don’t confine myself to work hours. I’m not talking pulling all nighters, instead, I know I am my most sharp and productive from 6-9 a.m. I do what I call “chaos working” outside that time – doing anything I can to keep the ball rolling, holding calls with people who may need to input, etc. – and then reserve my best working time to refine, proof, etc.

      1. ferrina*

        This is such great advice.

        Start by making a plan. This will also help you see any points where you can bring in extra help so you can start getting those resources lined up early. If something wont’ be doable or is right on the line, you need to flag that early. It also helps you see dependencies- if Project X has a component that needs input from the Wizarding Department, and the Wizards usually take a week to get back to you, you want that part to be done as early as possible.

        Don’t divvy up your time by hours- focus on what tasks are most time sensitive and have dependencies.

    2. Person from the Resume*

      Feeling overwhelmed leads me to feeling paralyzed, unable to start, and procrastinating like crazy. I think you need to force yourself to start on one project by doing an easy thing in it. All you have to do is that one thing, but very often once I start it is not as difficult or scary as it felt when I was overwhelmed and paralyzed. And if it short timeframe and I finially just started working, I may not want to take a break that was my reward now that I have a bit of momentum.

      As to sorting the division of your labor, one question to ask yourself … is it better to get one done (and high quality) and the other much less done (or done to a lower quality) or to have both nearly done or both done (but both to a lower quality). I feel like they cannot both be equally as important or urgent even if your boss says so.

      That said I’d probably power through one before diving into the second. Power through one until I reached a roadblock or had to wait for someone else and then start on the second one. Unless they had very similar steps. If they are the same steps but for a different area/project, I might do each step for each project at the same time.

    3. SpeckledBeagle*

      I have ADHD, so this may not work for everyone, but my work is exclusively long-term big projects, so I’ve had to master this.

      I divide everything into teeny tiny chunks. I write a list of which “chunk” I am going to accomplish and in which order. I try to keep them at 1 hour tasks max, but the smaller the better – 30-45 mins is ideal because you feel like you’re being productive every time you accomplish something. Trick your brain.
      If you’re thinking “none of my tasks” are that small- you can make it smaller! “Make a 5 slide PowerPoint” becomes “outline PowerPoint,” “write text for slide 1” “add images for slide 1” “add design and formatting for slide 1”, etc. make them into the smallest subdivisions of tasks ever.
      I then assign each task a reasonable length of time/block of time in my day. You should give yourself a little more time than you think you’ll actually need so you don’t fall behind and stress yourself out.
      I also like to flip between different “types” of tasks, but this may be where the ADHD comes in. So, if one take is my PowerPoint example and another is drafting a paper, I divide both into tasks and switch off between a “powepoint” and “paper” task each time. But I’ve been told by some people this sounds “chaotic,” so disregard if this doesn’t sound helpful.
      Good luck!

    4. Hen in a Windstorm*

      Another variation on the “just get started” techniques is to set a timer for 10 or 15 minutes. Work until the timer goes off and by then you’ll likely be on a roll. If not, you at least got started and can’t tell yourself you don’t know where to start.

      I think whether to do them in sequence or parallel depends in your work style.

    5. bunniferous*

      Time blocking is your friend. Estimate how long you need to spend on a project to get to a reasonable stopping place-for example, three hours. Pick one project and time block for three hours-but with a ten or fifteen minute break in the middle. Do the same for the second project. Assuming an 8 hour day, schedule unrelated tasks for your extra time-or if you are on a roll with one project, add onto your time block.

      I live by two statements: First-when you are eating an elephant, do it one bite at a time….and second, “eat that frog” first thing in the morning. (By which I mean do the most dreaded task first thing. )

  34. Watry*

    I have a job interview next Thursday (oh why did they schedule it out so far!) for a position I really want*. I’ve read every post Alison has written about interviewing plus her prep guide. The behavioral questions I’ve prepped for are difficult customers, coworker disagreement, crisis, taking initiative, not finishing a project on time, and various ones about training. Any other ideas?

    *This job is internal so I actually do know that I want it.

    1. ferrina*

      Sounds like you’re doing well! The great thing is that you’re already familiar with the job, so you have some idea of the skills they might be looking for.

      If you want extra things to prep for:
      -How do you handle stress? (it’s a dumb question, but I’ve seen it asked)
      -What type of manager do you do best under?
      -What is your working style? (again, dumb phrasing, but not an uncommon question)
      -Why do you want this position?
      -What will you bring to this position? (or other variations on Why should I hire you?)

    2. Echo*

      Good luck! Here are some other ones:
      -Navigating a disagreement with a manager about the focus/direction of a project
      -Being assigned to a project you thought was boring or a waste of time
      -Realizing something you had previously committed to wasn’t actually the right approach
      -Not understanding an assignment, or being asked to do something you didn’t know how to do
      -Explaining a difficult concept to someone who is not an expert
      -Prioritizing work when you don’t have time to complete everything
      -Keeping organized when you’re dealing with a huge influx of information or tasks
      -Collaborating, especially across different job roles or departments

    3. reality check please*

      -What is your experience implementing a new process/policy?
      -How do you stay organized?
      -How do you manage competing priorities?
      -Tell me about a time where something you were working on went seriously wrong and what you did to fix it?
      -[since it’s internal] what do you anticipate your biggest challenges/areas for growth will be in this new role?

      If it’s a manager position:
      -What is your management style?
      -Tell me about a time when you had to have a difficult conversation/address performance issues with a subordinate?
      Best of luck!!

  35. CRM*

    Question about how to avoid appearing like a nepotism hire:

    I just got a job for a large multinational company and I’m starting on Monday. My boss asked me to provide some info about myself to share with the department (the classic “CRM is starting with us today, she lives in Llamasville, NC and plays obscure card games in her free time). I want to include the fact that both my dad and my grandfather have also worked for this company, as I think it’s a cool thing to know about me (and I think it’s really cool that I’m working for the same company as them!). However, I don’t want to come off as a nepotism baby.

    To be clear, my family had absolutely no influence on me getting hired here. I found the job posting on my own, and my dad had no idea that I applied until I told him, which was after the first round of interviews. My grandfather passed away over two decades ago, my dad works in an entirely different department, and neither of them were/are a big director or someone who would have influence across departments (and especially not for the level I’m being hired at).

    Furthermore, it should be obvious from my background that I am extremely qualified for this role. I held the same role at a prestigious institution for several years and was promoted during my time there, have almost a decade of applicable experience at other places, and I have a Master’s Degree in my field. All of this is mentioned in my intro statement.

    I told a few people about my familial history with the company during the interview stage, so some people already know. I suspect more people will find out. So maybe I should just include it anyways, and let my work speak for itself? I’m actually really proud to be working for the same company as my dad, but I also want to get off on the right foot!

    1. NotRealAnonforThis*

      My situation: I’m a woman in a male dominated field, and my particular specialty within the field is very much heavy on nepotism hires. Literally my first day in the field, I was asked whose child was I, whose wife was I, who was I sleeping with, that I got hired. (Side note: “welcome to this industry, WTF?”)

      My last name is different than my father’s, who I both love dearly and (still) works in an adjacent field. Nobody with my married name works in this industry. The last time anyone had the audacity that it was the last of those three questions, I forever solved the problem by putting the offending party in his rightful place in front of everyone, but it could have gone the other direction easily.

      I’ve spent pretty much my whole career fighting the thought that I must be a nepotism hire because otherwise how did I get here – even when there’s nothing in my education or personal or employment history that even smacks of it.

      I’m not sure how to mention it, or if I even would in your situation. And I fully expect that this answer is going to be very much location, industry, and even case driven.

      1. CRM*

        I’m so sorry that was your experience. It’s terrible that folks automatically assumed you didn’t earn your spot. As someone who also works in a male-dominated industry (which thankfully has seen more women in the past decade; my new manager is actually a woman), I can definitely relate to the struggle of having to prove myself.

        1. NotRealAnonforThis*

          If there’s a silver lining, its that now, near nobody questions that I’ve gotten here on my own (took 20 years longer than I think it should have, but I digress…) and therefore the capital to, in a meeting when a coworker I’ll refer to as “Edgelord” goes off the deep end about “The (Adjective)s” getting unfair preferential treatment, I politely say “Its 2023. How about we just…….Not. Now, about the TPS reports?”

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I work for a large multinational company where this info would be met with, “Oh, cool, how is your dad?” People tend to stay here forever, and we have a lot of different departments/job functions, so it’s not unheard of to find relatives working here. I just figure the child grew up knowing about the company and decided to apply, and any help from the parent was more likely a referral than string-pulling.

      There is one guy I interact with occasionally who is terrible (seriously clueless) and I’m convinced he’s still around because everyone loves his dad, but I don’t really think about it much and I judge the guy on his own (terrible) merits. If he were great, I wouldn’t even give it a second thought.

      1. CRM*

        The point about people staying forever is definitely true! Also your comment made me realize that my dad’s department is based in the town where I grew up, and it is actually one of the biggest and only employers in that area, so it’s not unusual to see family members working together there. The department I’m working for is on a bigger (global) scale and I’m actually working remotely, but I hope that means people will understand the scope a little better.

        1. The New Wanderer*

          Also worked previously in a huge global company with many generational hires. I think at least 20% of people I worked with had relatives who also worked at the (100K+ employee) company. I don’t think any of them were considered nepotism, and if anything it was a point of pride. It was usually perceived as “this company’s legacy is so strong that even people’s kids want to work here!” I think it’ll be seen as a cool fact about you, nothing problematic at all.

          1. CRM*

            That is a really good point – and it does speak to the company that the parents had a good enough experience that the kids also wanted to work there (especially these days, where it seems like few such places still exist).

    3. peacock limit*

      What about some phrasing like, “Working at X company is somewhat of a family tradition for CRM: her grandfather worked in X department until his retirement in 1992, and her father has been a llama tech in X department for 37 years.” That way you can differentiate their careers from your own.

      1. CRM*

        Oooh, I absolutely love this way of framing it!! I think I will mention the relationship and word it this way – thank you so much!

    4. Nesprin*

      I’d skip for a first meeting- the slightest hint that nepotism could have had a hand in your hiring could be detrimental when you’re new.

    5. Pocket Mouse*

      The thing that stands out to me is that you say you’re proud to be working at the same company as your dad… why is that? It seems like you’re attaching a special meaning to working in the same place as a close family member, which raises a nepotism-like flag for me. Not necessarily that you were hired there because of him, but did you apply there because of him? Would you campaign for another family member being hired there out of a sense of familial pride or legacy?

      If it’s more that you’re proud to work for a prestigious employer, and (separately) you think it’s cool that you had family members working for a prestigious employer, that’s one thing. But that’s not how you’re presenting it here. If you want to include a mention of a family history with the company in your intro, I think you’ll have to be very careful with how you phrase it, and I think it’s worth unpacking for yourself before deciding to include it in your intro.

      1. CRM*

        I don’t think there is anything wrong with applying for a job at a place that a family member works for – especially if it is a huge company! But I also didn’t apply because of my dad, I was looking for a new job that would give me full-time remote flexibility (my current job withdrew their WFH policy in 2021), and this one was able to offer other good benefits and a better salary. Also, I’m excited to work there because the employer is prestigious! My dad also spent the majority of his career there, so it’s definitely been a part of my life on one level or another, and I think that is cool – maybe it’s weird for me to think that…

    6. Policy Wonk*

      I would not provide this info in the “share with the Department” context – tell them something about YOU, not your family. As NotRealAnonforThis said, it could give you a nepo baby who doesn’t really deserve the job rep. But I also wouldn’t hide it -however, I would wait until you have had some time to prove yourself. Good luck!

      1. CRM*

        I see your point here, now I’m torn again… maybe I will just keep it about myself and bring it up later in a more “water cooler” type of setting.

    7. Qwerty*

      It isn’t normal to put your father and grandfather’s jobs in your meet-the-team bio. They want to learn about you, not your family history.

      The point of the bio is to give some info about your professional credentials as well as some tidbits for if someone wants to strike up a non-work conversation with you to feel welcome or to create a bond. So if you include that you love board games, someone might invite you the workplace’s monthly game night. Or if you love hiking, someone might tell you about the Slack channel where people talk about the best local parks and trails.

      If you open with being a third-generation hire for the company, you are telling your coworkers that it is a pretty important thing to know about you. Let them get to know you for *you* first. Especially if this is a remote job, where people already know so little about their coworkers. I’ve worked at places where people had family or spouses there, and it was always weird when someone put that in their bio. It stuck with them as part of their identity. But the people who kept it low key? No one noticed or cared about the family relations.

      1. CRM*

        This is a really good and articulate response. I agree with you.

        I didn’t include some context here that is a little important- during the first few months I will be required to travel to multiple work sites to meet with people, including the site where my dad works. So it will definitely come up. I thought it might be good for it to come from me instead of others, especially if I could frame it positive light (in addition to the fact that I am genuinely excited about it all). But I agree that I should keep the first-day introduction strictly about me, and I will let the rest come up later.

  36. Flowers*

    Anyone gone from working for a micromanager to a….non-micromanager? How was the adjustment? Any funny incidents you want to share?

    1. Dasher*

      It was a bit of a shock! I went from a micromanager to a extreme non-micromanager. I had to get comfy asking a lot more questions, which was tough because I didn’t want all my questions to make me look like a dummy. Also, when I asked for more frequent 1:1 meetings, boss declined, saying a half-hour every other week was how she managed all her direct reports. So I also had to get comfy doing more drop-ins.

    2. Cookies for Breakfast*

      Best thing that’s happened to me, work-wise, over the past year (as a result of changing jobs). My micro-manager also had the extra issue of not being competent at his own job, kind of like the manager described in one of the comments at the top of the thread.

      The funny thing now is, sometimes I worry I’m asking for too much direction! But really, it’s just me worrying – I trust my manager to tell me quickly if anything’s not right (my former micro-manager used to shower me with public praise so others would see he appreciated others, while passive-aggressively stewing about anything I said or did when in smaller meetings).

      There are things I genuinely don’t know because the industry is new to me, and my manager is always happy to fill in the blanks when I approach her. Sometimes, she nudges me to share how I think I’ll act on the information, which is a good reminder that she eventually expects me to set the direction. Other times, I go to her saying “I’m looking into X, and the information I have suggests my solution could be Y, just checking whether you know anything I don’t”, and I either find she’s ok with what I’m proposing, or end up learning something new.

    3. Fabulous*

      It was definitely an adjustment! I had been used to working on overdrive to appease said micromanager, and when I changed jobs, it was such a culture shock that I didn’t have to work as hard anymore. I had to slow down considerably so I wasn’t just sitting around waiting for more work. I don’t know that I’ve ever recovered, LOL.

    4. Flowers*

      One thing that *should* have been oh so amazing but has actually taken me a while to actually absorb is that I dont’ need to provide a backstory or explain my thought process every single time I ask or do something.

  37. Overthinking Gold Medalist*

    Strange recruiter behavior – help?

    I’ve been in a nontraditional process for a job for the past few months, essentially entered the running because I used to work for the company and had a relationship with the hiring manager. It’s a large, global company, and having been through its hiring process before, I know that there are internal recruiters that handle all of the salary/benefits questions. After an initial call with the hiring manager, a recruiter reached out to me to set a second interview. I expected him to “screen” me in some way – discuss salary, etc. – but he did not. I should have sent him an email before the second interview with the hiring manager to get an idea of expectations, but didn’t. Then, on the second interview, it ended up being a quick catch up to confirm I was still interested. I then emailed the recruiter to set up a call with him and talk salary and benefits. He finally got back to me that he’d call me right on Jan 3 (this was right before the holidays). It’s now Jan 6 and…nothing. The recruiter mentioned he’d come to our call with feedback from the hiring manager, but now I’m wondering if he doesn’t have that yet and is holding for it. My partner thinks I should follow up again, because my partner would literally never dream of missing a commitment without so much as an email letting me know the call would be delayed. I had followed up twice before the holidays to set that call, so I don’t want to follow up again, at least for a few weeks. Any advice? I want to just sit tight…

    1. CRM*

      It’s the new year, they are probably busy playing catch-up from the holidays (and/or are sick from holiday travel exposures, like half of my friends and family are). Reach out again next week just to check in. This doesn’t feel like red flag right now.

      If you are really concerned, why not reach out to the hiring manager that you have a good relationship with? They might have an idea about salary and role expectations.

    2. ferrina*

      I’d reach out on January 10. Give the recruiter a week to catch up, then gently put yourself back on the radar. As CRM said, it’s pretty usual to be playing catch-up from the holidays

  38. Flowers*

    Generally speaking….. is it unusual to ask someone you’ll be working with/for what their preferences are re: general communication and working style?

    Basically I’d be skipping the “let me figure out how to interact with you” that you get from months of daily interactions [I mean, for me specifically it takes months to get into a good rhythm with someone] and just straight up ask “how…..?” But I have a feeling it wouldn’t go over well? Is it unprofessional? lacking soft skills? I don’t know the official names of all the diff working personalities, but I know that my ideal way is “here’s an assignment, here’s some basic information, let’s talk if you have questions” versus “here’s an assignment.”

    To be specific…..I’m good with my boss and other senior managers/partners; I’ve felt at ease with the learning curve. But….the CEO. Holy crap…I just . can’t. get it right. Nervous is an understatement; my first few months, I had the idea to not interact beyond polite greetings and just observe but I’ve failed at that too because I find myself constantly cringing after every single time I talk to him. And it’s not like he’s saying anything mean or unprofessional, they’re just very brusque answers, like walking away before I can even process or ask follow up questions.

    The first time we sat down together to review something he’d assigned to me, it didn’t go too well. I’ll spare the details but eventually I got over it because – ultimately I needed 10 things to complete something, I only had 2 and couldn’t get the other 8 for reasons beyond my control and no reasonable person would hold that against me….and FWIW I *do* think he is reasonable. I think I’m just mostly nervous around him and not used to his communication style and want to adjust to that if that makes sense?

    For anyone who’s stuck with me this far – thank you. I feel like I’m conflating a lot of different things here but it’s something that I just need a gut-check and advice on. This job is actually fine. Everyone is nice and reasonable so far. I have no desire or interest in changing careers or banishing myself to working from home; I enjoy working in an office with people….I just wish it was easier to just…be.

    1. londonedit*

      That sounds more like a CEO problem than a you problem. But no, I don’t think it’s unprofessional to ask someone how they prefer to communicate when you start a new job – I think it’s very useful and (to any reasonable person) would come across as quite perceptive. I can’t see anything wrong with saying ‘So, the way I usually prefer to work is to have some basic information along with any assignments I get; then I like to review that and ask any questions I might have before I start work on it. Does that chime with how you prefer to do things, or is there another way that you feel would be better?’

      1. Flowers*

        I like that script – I’ll save that.

        I do hesitate sometimes because I sit in an open cube and I just wouldn’t’ feel comfortable saying it as opposed to, say, if I was in their office alone. I know rationally no one is really paying attention or listening to me but I’ve never been comfortable asking openly/publicly when things are still “new.”

        1. Flowers*

          Except in this case the CEO would be walking away before I even finish the first 3 words…. smh

    2. Storm in a teacup*

      I think you just ask especially with someone senior.
      How would you like me to communicate with you on x projects? Email / standing meeting etc and format as i know you’re busy so want to make sure I deliver what you require.
      Also may be worth asking your direct boss about how best to approach the CEO and working styles. They may have some useful insights.

      One of my senior bosses is very brusque and direct – but he’s very open about it. It means I don’t need to bother with niceties when I email him which is refreshing. Also he has some self awareness of this and is actively working on his manner.

      1. Flowers*

        That IS refreshing! It’s nice to not agonize over how warm and friendly I’m coming across over email.

        I think I will ask my direct boss next time. It was a pretty big learning curve with him too – he’d say I’m not a micromanager, and it just took me so long to actually absorb what that really means. I think also time just helped – getting familiar with the systems and everything.

    3. peacock limit*

      Skip right to asking. I didn’t hit it off with a new boss communication style wise and hoped I would just eventually pick up on it and figure out what he wanted. Two years later I just…got a new job. I had some hiccups with my current boss right away and I was like “oh no, it’s happening again.” So we had a sit down and it got better right away.

      1. Flowers*

        I plan to do that with the next “new” person who will assign me work. I have one partner I report to (refer to him as my boss) and there are other senior managers/partners who assign work as well.

    4. Lily Rowan*

      With the CEO, I would ask someone else first. Does he have an executive assistant or someone who could advise you? Even your boss, if they work more closely with the CEO and you have a good rapport.

      I just feel like this kind of brusque CEO might not be able to express their preferences in a way that is helpful.

      1. Flowers*

        so, no ea. But a coworker who’s known him for a long time has been a great source of help to me. After that initial meeting with him, I shared my thoughts with her and she said that was pretty normal.

        I *think* things should get better now – the big thing was that he had assigned a client to me but I had to go through him first for all the information and at that first meeting it felt like he was blaming me for not having it complete (because, again, I only had 2 out of 10 things to complete it so I used placeholders for everything else). But that certainly wasn’t the case, and he’s now given me the green light to speak to the client directly.

        It could be a good thing (he trusts me) or not a good thing (that he doesn’t want to interact with me) but I’m not letting the latter take up more room than it deserves right now.

    5. Irish Teacher*

      Generally speaking….. is it unusual to ask someone you’ll be working with/for what their preferences are re: general communication and working style?

      In my experience, it would be very unusual, but good unusual. Like it would show an understanding of diversity, neurodiversity, cultural issues and sensitivity and social skills beyond the norm.

      The only thing is that people’s self-awareness levels differ greatly, so I suspect some people would find it difficult to answer or would give inaccurate answers.

      1. Flowers*

        In my experience, it would be very unusual, but good unusual. Like it would show an understanding of diversity, neurodiversity, cultural issues and sensitivity and social skills beyond the norm.

        You have no idea how good that makes me feel. Thank you *Michael scott teary smile

    6. Echo*

      It’s normal to ask your direct manager or your direct report about their working/communication style. With the CEO, since you don’t report to him directly, I wouldn’t. I think you CAN describe this dynamic to your direct boss and ask if she has any insight.

  39. tired data manager*

    I could use some advice. I am a team lead for a data management team. We handle getting contracts and contract changes loaded and updated in the systems (think Salesforce, financial system, etc.). It’s a newer team that was built out of an existing functional team when we changed systems about 6 months ago. The new system processes are pretty complex, although the actual actions aren’t very technical (it’s mostly populating and uploading spreadsheets). The problem is that at this point, I am still fielding frequent process questions on things people have been doing daily for 6 months. Efficiency has not increased much at all over this time. I have tried a number of things from creating job aids to retraining sessions, including one on one training. Now, in all fairness, almost every single person on this team has had some sort of family emergency during the past 4-5 months (me included). So people are dealing with a lot. But I really need to get people up to some level of efficiency here because we’re drowning in work and I can’t pick up all the slack. My manager is well aware of the issues and she’s explicitly talked to the team about needing to get our turnaround time down to something more reasonable. But she’s also at a loss for how to get people to just be proficient at their jobs at this point. Any ideas? Simplifying processes isn’t a real option at the moment- we’re working on more automation in the system, but it’s going to be several months at least before that happens. So that’s in the works, but we can’t wait on it.

    1. CRM*

      Do you have repository for documentation, such as confluence? If not, that is what your team needs. Even a collection of Google docs or Word docs in a shared drive will do. I was in a role for many years and still relied on our Confluence documentation for reports I had done countless times.

      It sounds like there are a lot of different processes that you manage, so some information is bound to fall through the cracks. Furthermore, you say that what you are working on isn’t technically complicated, which means that it is probably extremely tedious. In my experience, comprehension and memory retention is actually lower on tedious but easy tasks compared to more complex tasks that require critical thinking.

      1. ferrina*

        Seconding. Document the processes, make the documents really easy to read/use, then redirect people the documents.

        You should also be really clear about what the goals and performance metrics are. I can’t tell if you’ve done this already, but if you haven’t, tell the team what the goal is, what metrics you’ll use, and give them updates on how it’s going. If there are a lot of metrics, then maybe focus on one or two areas per month so as not to overwhelm folks. Make sure you’re praising when folks are doing well and hitting metrics (it’s so easy to forget do this when you’re constantly busy, but it’s really effective for good performers that need a push)

    2. Combinatorialist*

      Is it possible to divide the tasks differently so that each person is more focused? Not as a forever, let’s silo all knowledge, way, but as in a person A is mostly in charge of task X and they can get really good at X. Then down the road, cross-train and branch out but let people focus for now. (Or it might not even be necessary to cross-train if some of the tasks are going away due to automation if the automation will be reliable).

      I would also just lay out the problem to the team and see what suggestions they have on fixing it. Maybe there is something simple that is a pebble in their shoes that can easily be removed and would help a lot.

  40. ThatGirl*

    It’s review time. My manager left for a new job in late November. Before she left, she wrote end of the year reviews for her 6 reports and gave copies to two other managers on her level. Her last day was a Monday; that Thursday, 11 people from my department got laid off.

    Including the two managers who got copies of our reviews.

    So now I have to see if one of the new managers has access to the other two’s hard drives to pull it from…. otherwise my new manager has no idea what I worked on last year.

    1. Roland*

      I feel like someone at the company should be able to go into the laid-off managers’ inboxes for the reviews even if the remaining managers cannot. It feels like a reasonable thing to ask IT for help with. Unless she literally gave them paper copies…

      1. ThatGirl*

        No, it’s a file – she said it was saved on OneDrive. Not sure if it was emailed or just sent in a Teams chat. Probably IT can help, but I personally can’t do a thing, it’s up to one of the new managers. (If she’d given them paper copies, it’d probably be in someone’s desk to find!)

          1. ThatGirl*

            Here’s hoping, but since it was from a resigning coworker to a laid-off one my hopes are not high — we needed to get files from one designer’s laptop to another and it took a solid week.

        1. Random Dice*

          OneDrive allows IT to pull old files for a month or two after an account shuts down, and transfer to someone new. Ask now before it expires.

    2. Qwerty*

      Any chance that she kept a copy? When I left a job just before review time, I kept a local copy for a few months in case anything got lost in the transition or if anyone had follow up questions.

      If it is in the cloud, maybe IT can reactivate the account to access it?

      1. ThatGirl*

        it was on the cloud, but I’m not sure if the managers who got laid off had their accounts deactivated or wiped yet. the good news is, one of the current managers is having lunch with one of the laid-off managers tomorrow and will see if she can get more info.

  41. FriYay!*

    Negotiating salary question. I am hopeful that I will receive an offer in the next week. I do not need health or dental benefits as I am covered under my spouse’s plan. Is it ok to cite that as a reason for higher salary when negotiating?

    1. Decidedly Me*

      I’ve never seen or heard of that working. What if you need it later – do they reduce your salary at that time? You’re better off explaining why your experience is worth the higher salary or the job title and the market rates do.

    2. ScruffyInternHerder*

      Haven’t seen it work in negotiations, but have received small benefits in similar situations (i.e. because I didn’t enroll in the company health plan I received an extra five days in my PTO bucket). I don’t think I would use it as a negotiation point for reasons cited by Decidedly Me though.

    3. All the Birds*

      I think Alison would say to base your request/reason on what you’re bringing to the table.

    4. CRM*

      You can try but it probably won’t work. Your base salary and benefits enrollment often come out of two different financial “buckets” so to speak. Furthermore, insurance rates change all of the time, your salary will be stable except for promotions and COL increases.

    5. Rosemary*

      At my company, the company provides $XXX per month towards health insurance for everyone; the employee pays the difference (so if you choose the Platinum plan, you pay more than someone who chooses Bronze). Those who do not use Company’s insurance (because they are covered by their spouse’s) are credited $XXX in their paycheck. Perhaps your company does something similar?

    6. Chauncy Gardener*

      Agree with the comments posted above. It won’t make a difference because the company can’t refuse to give you access to benefits if you suddenly need them down the road.
      Just make the case for more competitive comp due to your skillset and experience and the current market
      Good luck!!

  42. Workplace Holiday Gift Aftermath*

    I have two direct reports. For the holidays, I sent each of them a gift box (contents: locally made chocolate, journal, some self-care items, handwritten note). The retail value for each box was ~$65 not including shipping, although I previously worked for the company that made one of the items (my direct reports know this) and got it for free (my direct reports do not know this, but could probably guess), which meant that I spent closer to $35 on each box plus shipping was additional. Both direct reports received their gift boxes before Christmas and both expressed thanks and that they liked the gifts. All good, right?

    Employee #1 sent me a holiday gift (after I mailed my gift but before Employee #1 received my gift). I got Employee #1’s gift yesterday and it was more generous and expensive than I was expecting (fancy baked goods gift box, retail value ~$80 – unknown if shipping was included or additional). It was not a joint gift from both employees. I thanked Employee #1, but I’m feeling really guilty that Employee #1 spent more money on my gift than I did on theirs when I make more money as the manager. Is there anything I can/should do to even this out? Or am I overthinking this?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      You should make it clear to Employee #1 (and probably also Employee #2, just to be safe) that you are a firm believer in not gifting up and you do not expect any gifts from any of your employees in the future.

      If you search for “how can I stop my employees from giving me holiday gifts?” you’ll find a letter from Nov 27, 2017 where Alison has some wording to use in advance of the holiday season. (I’ll link to that and “the rules you need for office gift-giving” post in a reply to this comment.)

      1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        Seconding this. Employees really shouldn’t be giving their bosses gifts, especially not such expensive ones. They can write you a card if they really want, but I’d clarify this now.

        I’ve had to return gifts from contractors I’ve worked with (I’m federal government and the contracting officer representative for their contract) and been effusive in my thanks and how touched I was (they are very sweet and we have a genuinely great working relationship), and clear that I couldn’t, and said ‘but the government can’t tell me I can’t keep your wonderfully thoughtful card, so I’m pinning that up here on my wall’.

        Presenting it as a ‘this is a policy that I believe in so I won’t accept it, but I 100% accept the intent behind it and am fully receiving your thoughtfulness’.

        In my case the policy is a law, but OP could present it as ‘this is a convention that I believe in for the reasons in AAM’s letter, so I’m going to ask for no gifts next year, but I am loving the chocolate and feeling all warm and fuzzy because of your thoughtfulness’

        1. Despachito*

          I like what you did with the card! I would definitely feel appreciated if someone accepted my card like this!

    2. It’s Going Great!*

      I think the $25 difference isn’t worth worrying about! Coming to an accord on how much to spend on Christmas presents is an iterative process.

    3. Storm in a teacup*

      I think you’re overthinking it.
      However you could take an opportunity to thank your employee again (eg a 1-1 meeting if not had one since) say that it was a lovely surprise but you don’t expect gifts from them – using the language Hlao-roo has suggested

      1. WellRed*

        I agree. Enjoy the gift, don’t overthink it and plan to clarify gifting up in the future. PS. You don’t know that OP paid full price or even a dime. Maybe their spouse received it from their boss etc.

    4. Katiekins*

      If you’re in-office and so are your reports, share the baked goods with them. Maybe spring for coffee, too.

  43. Jujyfruits*

    I have two questions today:
    1. How can I get the salary of a role before an interview? Recently I had an interview, going well, salary was below market value. I don’t want to waste my time (and theirs).
    2. Advice for getting an accommodation to WFH? I’m currently hybrid but I have so many appointments right now that it’s a challenge to go into the office, even 2-3 days a week. I have multiple health issues but nothing that “impairs” me from working. It’s just so much easier to work from home. I’m seeing my doctor next week since I’m hoping a note will help but I’ve never asked for an accommodation before. I’m worried I’ll have to disclose lots of personal medical info or that I’ll be denied.

    1. Kes*

      1. Check if you can find them on glassdoor or payscale? Beyond that in terms of asking them, you can but there is a risk they may be put off by it so just judge your situation and the risk and whether it’s worth it
      2. I don’t have experience with this but I feel like it’s come up before in past letters so maybe search around? Sorry I can’t help more. The note from the doctor sounds like a good idea. Some of it will also probably also just depend on your company. I’d be wary of mentioning the appointments if you can avoid it since that sounds like you won’t be working a lot of time.

    2. Random Dice*

      You don’t actually have to be “disabled” for ADA to apply to you. Multiple health issues that require doctor visits may well apply.

  44. Constance Lloyd*

    Folks who have done contract work- pros and cons? I’m looking at a slight shift where many of the jobs available are contract work.

    I know making my own schedule would be very convenient, and I know the lack of benefits and the way taxes are handled give me pause. Are there any other elements of contract work I should be heavily considering? I’m inclined to avoid it but I don’t want to write it off completely just because I fear the unknown.

    1. Sloanicota*

      I did it for the past two years. I liked it, but I’m glad I took the time to understand quarterly pre-payment of taxes and how to benefit from tax write-offs. One thing I hadn’t appreciated was that I was often only paid at the end of a project (so, could be a month or more of work before you see a penny) and that you sometimes have to chase down invoices or wait 30 days or more to be paid. This messed with some of my annual budgets and taxes because I’d have large outstanding amounts sitting out there. Also, you don’t really get paid leave, which is annoying. Eventually, I got tired of always having to start fresh and prove myself to a client with every job – I missed the sense of trust I get from working at an org longterm.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Oh! And watch out for NDAs and non-competes. I ended up running into this a few times. Big companies will ask you to sign non-competes as a matter of course (often folded into a perfectly reasonable NDA) that would basically end your ability to freelance. Some will negotiate and it’s fine, other times it tanks the entire contract.

        1. Constance Lloyd*

          This is all ver helpful, thank you! I’m basically at the point where I know I have questions, but I’m not even sure what to ask if an opportunity comes up, so I really appreciate it!

    2. Just Here for the Cake*

      This might be heavily dependent on your field, but when I first looked into contract work the other major hesitation I had was around having to contently find new contract roles. My field is very project dependent though, so that may be different for fields where the contract is for a longer period of time or is more likely to be renewed.

    3. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      Taxes are a big issue and it can take a few quarterly payments/full tax year to get the hang of it. Like any other skill, it can be mastered with practice. You also always have to be hustling for the next gig. However, nothing beats the flexibility if you are mostly WFH. I also find I have a much better attitude with my client/coworkers since I am a little more detached and less invested. I still care about the work, of course, but I also never blur the lines between work and personal life.

    4. Rosemary*

      Definitely pros and cons. I did it for a few years, and the biggest pro was flexibility and being able to take off big chunks of time, not take on work if I was feeling burned out, etc. The biggest con for me was not knowing for sure when my next project/client would come along. For me that was not a HUGE deal because I had a financial safety net that, frankly, most people do not have. While I could not live off of it, it was definitely a cushion if needed. I am not sure I would have had the stomach otherwise to freelance, because I am decidedly NOT a hustler when it comes to finding new business.

      1. Sloanicota*

        This sounds similar to my experience. It was more of a sabbatical than a career change in the end, because I just wasn’t a hustler at the level I’d need to be to be successful – I was really just keeping afloat for a year or two. But, I loved being able to not work on days I woke up with cramps! I took PTO on days it was super nice out, too, and spent it walking my dog :D

  45. It’s Going Great!*

    I’m overwhelmed at work right now — my boss got promoted to another department, the position hasn’t been filled and there’s no firm timeline for when it will be filled — and I’m looking for tips and scripts to bring it up with my grand boss.

    One issue is that my grand boss changes direction often and isn’t very organized — I’m really reluctant to hand off scheduling and planning work to her because a big chunk of why I’m overwhelmed is because of how she manages. (I’ve also become the point of contact for other departments for coordination and scheduling in our department — I don’t know if that’s because I’m a familiar face or because I’m responsive.) She also doesn’t check in with us often — right now the extent of management is assigning new projects and that I send her an emailed summary of our work every week and get… a variable level of response. Another issue is that my other teammate is taking emergency leave, I picked up his critical path stuff, and it turns out that his work product indicates a strong need for more training.

    I don’t know if I can slip “by the way we definitely can’t do anything else! This is capacity!” into an email but it’s really the only way she’s been open to communication that doesn’t involve other departments.

    1. Storm in a teacup*

      I had a similar situation this time last year. I asked my grand boss for weekly 30 min meeting so could get their input – turns out they’re way better to interact with on zoom than on email and I had their attention. I was organised with all my queries and updates etc and ‘managed up’ to ensure that they knew what they needed to do / sign etc…

      Also can you think about what things you can stop doing for a short period to take the pressure off? Is there someone you can get in for a secondment from another department – even if it’s only a day or two a week it could help.

    2. ferrina*

      It’s time to start saying “I can’t take on anything new unless we table something else. Here’s what I think can be paused…..”

      Ideally this would be done in a meeting (love Storm in a teacup’s advice), but this can also be done in an email. If it is done in a meeting, make sure to follow up with an email to document that Boss said to table this…..otherwise there’s a chance she could forget and blame you for not getting it done.

  46. So very, very tired*

    There’s a remote volunteer opportunity I’ve done for years but now I have a baby and multiple sitters backed out (baby does daycare while we both work), I’m working late nights sporadically, and I do teapot writing as volunteering there. But now the volunteer group requires teapot/kettle event planning in person, but baby’s daycare had a covid exposure and I have literally no bandwidth left. As a kid, I was taught to never quit something once I’ve started so I’m struggling on this. I emailed the contact person to see if I could do event stuff remotely but I still feel like a failure. The volunteering looks fantastic on paper but they also never sent a card when baby and I were in the hospital. What would you do?

    1. londonedit*

      There’s absolutely nothing wrong with dropping the volunteering if it no longer works with the rest of your commitments. Just because you could do it before you had a baby, that doesn’t mean anyone expects you to carry on doing it – people will understand that your commitments have changed and will understand that you can no longer fit everything in. And you won’t be a failure.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      It’s time to give up the volunteer role. Email the contact person and tell them that unfortunately, your schedule does not allow you to continue with the teapot writing. You can give two weeks’ notice, just like you would if you were resigning from a paid job.

      As a kid, I was taught to never quit something once I’ve started

      My parents had something similar, only there’s was that I should finish out the season of what I signed up for (be it a sport, band/orchestra, an outside-of-school dance/art class, etc.). But once I finished the season, I could decide not to sign up for the next one. I think my parents’ reason for this is, as a kid, I would have quit everything the moment it became difficult (in a I-didn’t-immediately-master-the-new-soccer-skill kind of way, not a this-is-affecting-my-sleep/health-negatively kind of way).

      All of the above is to say, resigning from a volunteer position because you no longer have the bandwidth in your life is in no way comparable to quitting your under-12 soccer team because you didn’t have fun at one practice. I know it’ll take more than one anonymous internet commenter to convince you of this, but I hope this comment can nudge you in the direction of making peace with the decision to step back from this volunteer group (if you decide to do that).

    3. The Prettiest Curse*

      It’s called volunteering because it’s voluntary. Organisations who use volunteers are used to them quitting for any reason, or for no reason at all. Quit with a clear conscience!

    4. Dog and cat fosterer*

      Would you have this much trouble leaving if they paid you minimum wage? It sounds like you are more committed to this volunteer work than most people would be to their jobs, and that’s a sign that you should leave it because it isn’t healthy for you. I agree with giving some notice, and you could always return in a year when baby’s immune system isn’t being tested every few days.

      1. Dog and cat fosterer*

        To add: A lot of volunteer groups are experiencing burn-out this past year. The effects of the pandemic really showed on those of us balancing work, families, friendships, and the extra burden of volunteering. I really value the volunteering that I do, but I did a lot less of it last summer and noticed others were the same. I will do more when I am ready. I can’t imagine how much harder it would be with a baby, so take care of yourself now so that you can return to volunteering when you are ready.

    5. Hen in a Windstorm*

      I hear how tired you are, so please take this as humor: you’ve *never* quit anything you started? You must still be doing all those kindergarten projects a lot faster now!

      But seriously, that phrase is both meaningless and a weapon to beat yourself with. To what end? Making yourself miserable accomplishes what? You are less available to your own life and family to check some meaningless “just do it” puritanical box.

      Drop the volunteering until you have the time. It’s easy if you let yourself do what you want. Value yourself and validate your own needs.

    6. AnonyAnony*

      What would I do? I would pause on doing the volunteer work. I would need to lower it wayyyy down on the list of my priorities.

      “As a kid, I was taught to never quit something once I’ve started.”
      I mean, this might have been a lesson your parents wanted you to learn, to make sure you develop the ability to work through challenges when you were a child.

      But as adults, we need to reflect deeper and develop new wisdoms to help us apply childhood lessons in nuanced contexts. Perhaps you’re taking this lesson a little too far, too rigidly- but for what purpose, and to what end? Sounds like its becoming what I might call Toxic Perseverance.

      Not quitting for the sake of not quitting just makes no sense.
      The volunteer group will survive just fine without you.

    7. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      You’re allowed to quit! Your life circumstances have changed, and the organization has changed their requirements, so they will certainly understand.

      There’s a comment on today’s good news post about the book Quit, by Annie Duke, which might be a good read to help you rethink how you were trained to think about quitting. She also appeared on a number of podcasts, which might be a more realistic path for you right now – I liked her interview on People I mostly Admire, but she did a bunch you could look for. I haven’t read it yet, but I believe the thesis is that by the time you’re considering quitting, it’s actually past time to have quit.

    8. Random Dice*

      I recently stepped back from a volunteer role I love due to family obligations. It totally happens. It’s very responsible to honestly say no rather than say yes but actually give no.

      Secondly, there is a lot to unpack with that whole idea that one shouldn’t ever quit. I had that one too, and I really regret how I handled some situations as a result. Keeping your word is important, and that’s likely what your family was trying to teach you… but you have the right to choose to stop doing things that don’t fill your bucket. You’re the only one who can do so, and you’re worth it.

      Lastly, it won’t always be this hard. ❤️

    9. Camelid coordinator*

      I agree with all of the other commenters about stopping volunteering. I want to say a little bit about the lack of a card that you mentioned. I am sorry you and the baby were in the hospital and hope you both are better now.

      The way you describe the card feels a little bit like you are telling yourself they let you down first so it is ok to let them down by not working for them any more. You don’t need to come up with a justification or have the organization/volunteer coordinator fail a test they didn’t know they were taking, it is ok to just stop volunteering. Letting them know you won’t be able to continue as soon as you can would be the courteous thing to do. If you have the bandwidth to wrap up and hand off your projects that is great, but, if you don’t, they’ll figure out a way to proceed. Best wishes to you and the baby!

  47. Cookies for Breakfast*

    A question about giving feedback constructively.

    I’ve been asked for written 360 feedback for a colleague’s appraisal. We work in different departments in roles that collaborate closely. She’s in a technical role and I’m not, and we have different line managers. There are definitely positive aspects I can highlight, and I appreciate this person’s contribution, but the truth is…I don’t love working with her.

    One challenge is that she has expectations of my role that don’t match where my manager and I see it going. She has worked with people in my same role that took on certain tasks because the role hadn’t been designed in the best way; those tasks need the input of a whole team, but when she’s asked to get involved, there’s often some kind of passive-aggressive remark about how she’s so very busy and gets distracted by too many questions (none of the tasks are ever urgent, and I always say that all I need is to know when she’ll have time, even if the answer is “in a month”).

    Also, I sometimes find that she gets defensive or confrontational at times when I’d like to collaborate. For example, there are situations when I ask questions to understand the customer impact of a technical problem, and she acts impatient, as if disappointed that I don’t already know how to prioritise it (I have no technical training and don’t even have access to the same systems to look things up, so, without her input any of my decisions would be just a guess).

    We both come from countries that are considered “direct” in their communication, so I do understand that bluntness doesn’t always mean impatience…but some days, after interacting with her, I find myself wondering how stupid I must sound all the time. I think she realises I’m trying to navigate a very complex subject matter (the feedback from my manager is I’m doing well), but would rather work with someone who has it all figured out and never needs to take up her time.

    I’m wondering how to phrase my issues in a constructive way, or if there’s any of it that’s best left out?

    1. ferrina*

      Your phrasing doesn’t need to be constructive, it just needs to be neutral. In a peer review, you don’t need solutions- you just need observations (the manager should give the solutions).

      So:
      “It can be difficult to collaborate with Peer, because….. When I ask questions to clarify the problem, her responses are brusque and her demeanor is off-putting……When I ask for a timeline from her, she tells me it will take a month. It would be nice to get a more realistic timeline because [impact on your work]”

      Mix these with your positive observations, and you’ll be fine.

      1. Random Dice*

        Whoa, I would walk incredibly carefully around putting that negative of feedback into her formal written report.

        What do you gain? (Likely nothing)

        What do you lose? (Poisoning the working relationship)

        You might hint delicately – though admittedly I’m from a far more hint based communication country – and trust management to either read between the lines, or ignore it the same way they would more blunt negativity.

        1. Cookies For Breakfast*

          Yeah, that’s what I’m concerned about. I don’t want to make any of this personal, because it isn’t.

          On one hand, I’d like to convey that I see evaluating our priorities as teamwork, and the knowledge she has is a key input to make it work, so the process works better if she can take an active role in explaining the impact and urgency of a task rather than just what the code in front of her says. On the other hand, I’ve said it out loud before, so I’d hope she knows. It’s the underlying reluctance to communicate with a non-technical person, or perhaps insecurity around communicating in a different tone, that is making things harder.

          What I’d hope to get out: for her line manager to highlight how important a part of the job this is, because none of the complicated system issues that are constantly stressing her out will ever make it to a to-do list, if there’s no way to create an understanding of why they’re problems the business needs to solve.

          1. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

            Maybe phrase not in terms of what’s unhelpful, but in terms of what would be useful to develop or have more of? “It would sometimes be useful to have more clarity on x”, “I have been thinking it may be useful for us to develop a framework for y”. That is, think through what would help you to do your job, and describe it in language which refers to the processes & avoids the word “she”. (as long as that wouldn’t look super weird in the context of the question you’re supposed to be answering.)

  48. Elbereth Gilthoniel*

    I would really like to learn how to do more complicated things in Excel. Does anyone have suggestions for a good online course or site to check out? I’m overwhelmed by ask the options on LinkedIn learning, YouTube etc.

    Right now, I know most formulas (lookups, etc) and pivot tables. I’d like to learn macros, Get and transform tables. I also don’t know what else is Excel can do that I’m unaware of.

    Any suggestions appreciated!

    1. RMNPgirl*

      Check your local community college. I took three Excel classes through mine, they were one day 8 hour classes. The instructors were experts and we got a booklet with examples to take home that also had online files we could download and practice with.

    2. Dasher*

      +1 to a course. Also, you might learn more from a project. Is there anything at your current job you could help with or take on that could teach you deep Excel?

      1. Elbereth Gilthoniel*

        My current job is a lot of Excel, b but I don’t have a lot of down time to just learn something new. Hence looking outside of work.

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      MrExcel website has been useful since the late 90s. Lots of basic examples to follow along on your own with…

    4. Warrior Princess Xena*

      In terms of additional functionality: Power Query! It’s great for working with large databases, since unlike base excel it actually has some database functionality. I frequently use it for data cleaning since it can handle .txt files much more effectively than Excel. There is a great LinkedIn Learning course on PowerQuery basics by Oz du Soleil that walks through use cases, functionalities, and how – tos, with accompanying practice files. I’m also pretty sure the same author has done other Excel courses including higher-level macro functionality.

      1. Elbereth Gilthoniel*

        Thank you! This is exactly the type of recommendation I was looking for! I will definitely check this out.

    5. irene adler*

      I found my community college uses Cengage.com textbooks- for Excel and other software programs. I think you can purchase the course directly and get the book + files needed to work through the book yourself.

      I found these books to be very good in explaining what to do, why.

      This is not the cheapest way to go for this.

      1. Elbereth Gilthoniel*

        Thanks for the textbook recommendation! I will look into this after the online classes.

    6. QueenofBees78*

      Udemy or Coursera has courses on Excel. Also if you go on Microsoft support they have videos on Excel.

  49. Ankle Grooni*

    I’m having a bit of an existential crisis kind of question.
    I’ve been with my current employer for many years and with my current supervisor for about half my time here. We’re a small group and work very well together. Many times my boss has said that he just wouldn’t know what to do without me and that if I leave he’s out the door as well.
    But the truth is I need to make more money. I just cannot sustain my life on my current income and there’s no hope for an increase from my current employer.
    I know he cannot hold me hostage, and I suspect that he knows that as well. But we’ve been together for so long and we truly do have a friendship beyond being employee/manager.
    So I guess my question is…do I tell him that I’m job searching, as a courtesy to our long-working relationship? Or do I wait until there’s an offer, and possibly damage our relationship. I’ve been here so long and have so many varied, customized responsibilities that replacing me will be hard, but not impossible. He could have been planning for that.

    I think I know what the answer is, but I just need outside perspective.

    1. All the Birds*

      I think you know the answer is: Say Nothing.

      Really, you’re not responsible for managing his response to your resignation, and even if you gave him a heads-up, there’s nothing concrete he can do to prepare for your exit.

      Try to remove the emotion (“He said he’ll leave if I do”) from your thinking — as Alison always tells us, this is a business decision and only you can advocate/manage your own career. Good luck.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      FWIW, I would interpret “if you leave, I’m out the door as well” as a bit of a joke and/or as “if you turn in your notice, I’ll start my job search.” I wouldn’t assume he means it as “you should tell me when you’re job searching (so we can coordinate and leave at the same time).” I second All the Birds: say nothing until you have accepted an offer, and when you hand in your notice be sure to tell him how much you enjoyed working together and you hope to keep in touch in the future.

    3. FashionablyEvil*

      If a raise is off the table (are you sure that’s the case?), do not feel bad about looking for/accepting something else! You’re talking about a job that doesn’t pay enough to support you. If the business can’t operate without paying poverty level wages, that is not your problem.

    4. Dr. Doll*

      One of my direct reports and I also have a friendly relationship (one thing I’m looking forward to about retiring is being able to be real friends!) — and I would NOT expect her to tell me ahead of time.

      You can certainly express your concerns that there’s no hope for an increase and is there anything he can do about that? That would tip ME off… but not TICK me off.

    5. Khatul Madame*

      Your boss probably knows what you make. Even if you weren’t such great friends, he should have brought your salary to market level for retention purposes. He hasn’t done so.
      No, you don’t owe him a heads-up that you need a higher paying job.

    6. AlabamaAnonymous*

      I agree with what everyone else has said … you have to do what is right for you. A true friend will understand that. I would encourage, though, to try to document (as much as possible) what you do so that when it is time for you to leave, you can help make that transition as smooth as it can be. And remember that documentation doesn’t have to be written. Video or screen capture is sometimes the easiest way to capture processes or actions.

    7. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      You shouldn’t have to tell him in advance to maintain the relationship! My partner is gearing up to quit right now and is feeling the same guilt – but his management knows the issues (lack of resourcing to the team, lack of recognition/compensation), so if they find it a surprise when he gives notice (next Friday, hopefully!), that’s 100% on them.

      Assuming you’ve mentioned the pay issue to your manager before, he won’t be surprised either – he’s probably just holding his breath hoping it won’t happen. And good managers know that good employees need good jobs and good pay, and will leave if they don’t get it. Heck, maybe he’s being underpaid and will benefit from your departure to make his own exit to greener pastures!

      In your shoes, I wouldn’t mention it until he might get a reference call from a prospective employer.

    8. Random Dice*

      Job searching isn’t a big deal, even if it seems so to you. People look all the time, or get feelers. That’s just part of life.

      It’s your job to manage your feelings. It’s not your job to manage the feelings of other people, other than treating them with basic respect. Respect other people enough to trust them to deal with their own feelings.

      It’s hard when you get enmeshed like this – but you can still be friends, and only friends – even easier without boss-subordinate awkwardness.

      Fly free, little bird, and trust the wings of this person you respect.

  50. Noname*

    Hey everyone,
    I am currently starting to look for PhD opportunities starting in summer (currently in an internship that is adjacent to my field but not really in it) in a country where those tend to not be formal grad school programmes and more something that is agreed upon individually with a prof. I would really love to do it at a research institute where i did some time as a student assistant 5 years ago…but noticed the group Leader changed about half a year ago and nobody i knew still works there. I don’t want to formally apply, just suss out if there might be any opportunities this year. Would it be weird to email the new group Leader just indicating who i am and what i am looking for (maybe attaching my resume)?

    1. SofiaDeo*

      Since you have fond memories of the work and learning environment at X, I don’t see how sending out an email to New Team Lead expressing that, and your interest in returning to it if there is an opportunity, would be out of line. “Dear Y, I am a former student assistant of X institute, and really loved doing A,B, and C there. I am now looking for opportunities to do/learn/assist with Z, and am wondering if I may discuss this with you. X is my top choice, because blah blah. Would it be possible to email/Zoom/chat/ whatever to discuss about potential opportunities?” (Note “potential”, you are not asking about already set in stone defacto things.) And then even if the answer is No, respond back with some sort of “thank you for your time and consideration”. Because things may change, and if you are enthusiastic and polite, this person may remember you positively and possibly recommend you to a colleague looking for someone, even if they personally can’t help.

    2. Nesprin*

      Nope! this is how lots of (US) based grad studentships happen- you email your longform CV and a cover letter describing what you’re good at, why the group would be a good fit and what you’d be interested in.

      (Depending on country, CV format varies a lot, but theprofessorisin has a ton of useful info for the US scenario)

    3. Noname*

      Thanks for the help! Not being able to rely on somebody i already know kinda threw me for a loop

  51. Analytical Tree Hugger*

    I’m looking at switching careers from office type work (e.g., project management, data analysis) to more hands-on work (e.g., massage, occupational therapy). My career so far has been fine, but unfulfilling so I’m ready to try something that fills my cup.

    Any suggestions on questions I should ask myself about whether this is the right move?

    1. EMP*

      – what would your start up costs be? (most of these require some kind of schooling and licensing but some more than others) Can you complete some or all of them while you keep your current job?
      – if you want to work for yourself, can you find an office space? work from your home? Travel and go to a customer’s home? Are you comfortable with the options available to you? What legal entity would you need for your new business?
      – if you want to work for someone else (through a clinic, etc) what do job openings in your desired field look like and do they match what you want to do/the skills you plan to acquire?
      – can you make enough with this job to live on in a way that you enjoy?

    2. Chauncy Gardener*

      I think one thing I would think about is how you are physically. Could you handle doing that type of work? Being a massage therapist is hard work, depending on how you do it. Could you physically do the job for as many hours as you’d need to to make the money you need?

      Also, maybe think about what you think will “fill your cup” more in those roles and why. This might be a time for informational interviews with folks who actually have those jobs.

      While in college, my son thought he wanted to be a physical therapist. He was able to do an internship at a PT office and absolutely hated it. He said it was very repetitive and boring and people didn’t take care of themselves or do the exercises at home. He found it very frustrating.

      I also know a couple of people where the reality of the job didn’t match their idea of the job. For instance, one person went to hairdresser school and was super good at it, but got very wigged out (no pun intended!) when she had to do the hair of a client with terrible eczema on her scalp. She quit that day! Someone else who trained as a massage therapist started to get super grossed out by touching “icky” (her word) bodies and skin.

      So I guess that’s a long winded way of suggesting you explore the reality of the jobs you’re considering.
      Good luck!!

      1. SnowyRose*

        I really want to emphasize this as something to think about:

        “Being a massage therapist is hard work, depending on how you do it. Could you physically do the job for as many hours as you’d need to to make the money you need?”

        One of my closest friends is an LMT and has been for a number of years. We’re in our early 40s-so not old!-but she has reached the point where she is really starting to scale back out of physical necessity.

    3. My dog is my coworker*

      I can completely relate (data analyst who was considering a switch to occupational therapy). I would suggest doing as many informational interviews and shadowing as possible to really get a sense of what the day to day will be like. It would also be helpful to be really clear with yourself about what you’re hoping to get out of a career change and whether your new career will realistically give you what you’re looking for. Is it possible to fill your cup through other activities outside of work? Also, think about the return on investment, will your future salary be good enough to justify the price of schooling? I ultimately decided not to pursue occupational therapy but that doesn’t mean a career change won’t be right for you. Good luck!

    4. Adrian*

      Sine a massage therapist’s hands are their living, they may have to limit their physical activities. One therapist I knew said he could throw a football, but he couldn’t catch it.

      I also knew someone who tried to switch from office work to cosmetology. Apparently she didn’t figure out before taking the course, that she’d have to rent a salon station and pay her dues before the profession might start paying off. She stayed in office work.

  52. Just Here for the Cake*

    How can I convince myself that it is time to move on from my job?

    On paper, it makes totally sense for me to be looking: my new manager is volatile and uncommunicative, I haven’t had a pay raise in 3 years even though I have taken on much more responsibility, and my team is being asked to take on a lot more work while remaining severely understaffed. But, the problem is I absolutely love the team I work with. They are some of the most helpful, kindest, and overall best coworkers I’ve ever had. Not only do I feel guilty that they would be the ones directly impacted by me leaving, but I would also genuinely miss them if I moved on.

    I know I need to leave, but it is so hard to find motivation to write cover letters and apply for jobs when I don’t feel fully committed to leave.

    1. All the Birds*

      Volatile/uncommunicative manager trumps everything else. Please start your search knowing that helpful and kind coworkers exist in many places.

    2. Alex*

      Tell yourself that you are just looking. It is hard to get excited about an unkown–apply for jobs knowing that you don’t actually have to take them if they are offered to you, only if they excite you. Once you find something you are excited about, it might feel easier to leave.

      1. Watry*

        This is it. I’m just seeing what’s out there, I don’t have to apply. Oh, that looks like a good position, I should apply, but I don’t have to take the interview. Oh, I got the interview! Well, I don’t have to take the job.

        Stop wherever is appropriate for you.

    3. FashionablyEvil*

      I would just be aware that you’re picking the short term over the long-term health of your career and earnings.

    4. Dasher*

      I totally get this. I just made a very similar decision and for the same reason intimated below: I’m making a choice for my long-term career and earnings. I gotta take care of the 80-yr old version of myself. Besides, a bad manager may eventually outweigh kind co-workers.

    5. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      Think about how if you find a new job with a better manager, you can help find new jobs for your current kind coworkers. Recruit them all!!

    6. Ranon*

      Leave, and then get them out too. A reference that is recent and not at your current place of employment is a useful thing!

  53. Indecisive*

    I’ve been a contractor at an alphabet agency for 2 years and I’m trying to decide whether to apply for a full-time position, but it feels like making the choice to be bored vs. stressed.

    In my contract position, I’m essentially overpaid to do a ton of data entry, forwarding emails, and other items that should be done by a really sharp/competent admin assistant, but it takes so long to learn it that it appears complicated on its surface and people are relatively impressed by the sound of it. I’m bored to tears, perhaps do 1-2 hours of actual work a day and the rest of the time I’m mostly “available,” and I don’t really feel like one of the team of government employees who are doing inherently governmental functions that I can’t do but am qualified to do. However, the team I work with is warm and kind, and I have a ton of free and flex time for things like doctor’s appointments.

    The alternative is applying for and getting a permanent agency position where I suspect the hours would be longer and I would need to be in the office more (I’m in one day now and would probably need to do 2-3 in that position), and I would have more responsibility. In the job before this one I essentially always had stretch assignments and was doing things WAY above my paygrade, so I am qualified, but I have an aversion to applying for a permanent job because of my burnout. But now I feel like I’m getting burnt out from boredom. I’m just not sure what to do and if anyone has any insight I’d love to hear it.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      You can be burned out on boredom, and I want to validate that feeling.

      A few questions for you (that you don’t have to answer here, just for yourself):

      Are there people in the agency you would apply for that you can talk to in order to get a better sense of the hours/in-office days/level of the role? If so, this will help you evaluate if the position is too much (like your previous position) or a good match.

      Have you thought about applying to other positions? Other positions at this agency, at other agencies, not in the government at all? If you’re feeling ready to leave your current role, remember that this open position is not the only option.

      And if the answers to both the questions I asked are “no,” I think you should go ahead and apply. Filling out the application is not choosing to be stressed over being bored, it’s choosing to learn more about the open position. Submitting an application does not obligate you to accept a (potential) offer. You can choose to say “this position isn’t the right fit for me” and drop out of the process at any time.

      1. Reba*

        Agree with all this. Plus, since federal hiring takes a billion years, you can apply and probably continue to think about it for a good while!

    2. Random Dice*

      I chose boring but secure, until I finally made the leap into the unknown. I’m so glad I did. I work more, but it’s manageable, and I’ve grown so much. I suspect you’re like that too.

  54. NaoNao*

    Situation: a mistaken series of 4 invites (multiple meeting slots) was sent to the wrong distro group, which included most of the company’s big wigs. A few minutes later, the correct distro was located, the original distro removed (Outlook cancels meetings you get deleted from) and a short 3-line email sent to the original distro: my fault, wrong distro, right distro has been updated, sorry for any confusion/inconvenience).

    To me this is…pretty minor, despite being a visible goof in front of big wigs (I also tend to be very skeptical that a C-Suite person is someone to be afraid of and doff my cap to, other than typical professionalism and human courtesy).

    However my boss was rattled and said specifically “[Company] doesn’t tolerate many mistakes.”

    I’m new in the role and honestly this makes me want to fire up job sites and go looking. The amount of times I’ve gotten an ‘oopsie’ meeting invite or email followed by a moments-later retraction is in the dozens over my career. If this mistake is worthy of a “black mark” and it doesn’t cost the company any money, didn’t have confidential information, and didn’t harm anyone, I really raise an eyebrow here. I’m also frustrated because I thought sending out a “my fault, sorry” email was taking ownership and accountability and my boss called it “confusing” :(

    I get that my boss doesn’t want visible gaffs happening in front of an audience of big wigs, completely understandable. But I feel like this is an over-reaction. Am I wrong here?

    1. EMP*

      It does feel like an overreaction. I would try to ask around with your peers to see if this is really the attitude at the company or if your manager is just paranoid.

    2. SofiaDeo*

      Maybe. I will play devil’s advocate. How new are you? Have you make a lot of similar errors recently? Is this potentially a pattern? More importantly, is your overall job one where little oopsies can/do generally have a big impact? Such that, it’s not the fact of thismparticular incident, or the type of incident, but the fact that you didn’t double check before finalizing/hitting Send that is the problem? I assume you were under no severe time constraints before selecting the distro list, and hitting Send. So this smacks of “inattention to detail” overall, not just a one-off “oopsie”. Especially since Boss had the comment “we don’t tolerate a lot of mistakes”. Is it possible Boss is seeing and commenting on a pattern?

      I also wonder why you chose to send that email announcing an otherwise unnoticeable error had occurred. I would find that confusing. Why send me an email announcing something I most likely would not have/did not, notice? What was I supposed to do, how was that a good use of anyone’s time?

      I ask these because your statement “To me this is…pretty minor, despite being a visible goof in front of big wigs (I also tend to be very skeptical that a C-Suite person is someone to be afraid of and doff my cap to, other than typical professionalism and human courtesy).” comes off kind of weird. It didn’t seem like this “goof” was very visible, and your comments about C-suite folk come off as sort of hostile/passive-aggressive, to me anyway. If your communication style tends towards the sarcastic/snarky, this may be part of the actual point that your boss was feeling but not able to articulate in the moment. As well as trying to comment on a *pattern* of behavior/mistakes. Not the fact that this one happened to be a minor one that you attracted further attention to, with the followup email.

      1. NaoNao*

        To answer these:

        1: Less than 90 days. No previous similar mistakes. In fact a couple major wins/kudos in these first few months. No pattern that I know of.

        2: I didn’t include this detail in the question, but I was given a document with multiple lists of data from a colleague for this invite, and the *actual* list was on a column several columns over not immediately visible. An IM from said colleague on the subject also created a situation “so and so and so and so from Wrong List haven’t said yes yet” that made me mentally confirm the only visible list of names as the correct one. I don’t know the list of invitees (complicated situation not worth getting into here) and didn’t understand the group well enough to twig that “oh, this list doesn’t look right”

        3: I sent the “correction” email because my most recent previous job hammered me repeatedly for “not taking ownership/accountability” and claimed I was making excuses and it was “never my fault”. I believed that “hey, oops, my fault” email was the way to go, and I guess I was overthinking that merely cancelling the meeting with no explanation would look like…a coverup? I dunno. Clearly that was a miscalculation and I can see how the *fact* of the email was confusing.

        4: I sound snarky because I’m ticked off at being wrist-smacked over sending an invite to the wrong distro and my boss acting like it’s an error worthy of a borderline verbal warning. There was also a focus in the discussion of “if you send anything to big wigs, send it by me first, I can’t be blindsided” and this general feeling of “anything you do in front of Big Wigs has to be PERFECT” which just…didn’t sit right with me. Believe me, that snark was *nowhere* in the meeting. It was an “understood, won’t happen again” and that’s it.

        1. Ginger Baker*

          FYI for the future (or anyone else reading this), you can include the “why this was cancelled” info *in* the body of the meeting cancellation. That way it is only one item in their inbox but also has an explanation. (I see this all the time as it is standard practice when one set of recurring meetings is cancelled and replaced with a similar-but-updated set, so people don’t delete the wrong one.)

    3. ErinB*

      Being rattled and giving ominous advice about what the company tolerates does seem like an overreaction.

      On the other hand, your description of what happens is pretty passive and – whether intentional or not – omits whether you were the one who chose the wrong distro and sent the invites. Without knowing what your email said, perhaps your boss is reacting more to this perceived lack of accountability than the actual mistake.

      Either way, I agree with you that this seems like making a mountain out of a molehill.

      1. NaoNao*

        It’s complicated–a colleague sent a document with multiple lists of data. List A was names, and she noted in an IM “so and so from List A haven’t said yes yet” which lead me to mentally confirm that List A was the correct list. Lists B-E were non-name data, List F which was not visible when the document was initially opened by me, was the actual list of names. I don’t know the group and haven’t been involved in the creation of the group. So the passive language is because I genuinely believe I didn’t know the correct distro and overlook it and select the wrong one out of carelessness. In fact I drafted the invite and let it sit *overnight* to ensure that I could look at it with fresh eyes the next day for typo’s, etc.

        The “sorry” email was three lines. “Apologies for the meeting invite mixup. I misread a file and sent the email to the wrong distro. The right distro has been invited. Sorry for any confusion or inconvenience this may have caused.” I sincerely believed sending the “hey sorry, my fault” email WAS taking accountability so I’m not sure how much more accountable I can be there! I also said in the meeting “Clearly a learning lesson to scan the entire document, that’s on me”.

        1. Hen in a Windstorm*

          It’s a boss thing. I would send that type of email and my boss loved it. She would always praise me for taking responsibility. Take this as a warning flag with your new boss, because humans make mistakes. “Company doesn’t tolerate mistakes” = company has unreasonable expectations.

    4. ferrina*

      I…..don’t know. It depends?

      -If this is a core part of your job, then yes, you should be double-checking the distribution list before you send (I send a lot of meeting invites, and I can def get paranoid). But if this is a minor responsibility or you can’t really see the distro list, this might be a learning curve thing.
      -The retraction really depends on the wording. It can clarify things (oops, sent by mistake, please ignore) or it can be confusing (let me tell you how I made the mistake…).
      -If the boss has other concerns with your work, this could push that over the top. Or it could be an over reaction from a perfectionist boss. The statement about not tolerating mistakes is really weird and a bit concerning.

      But it’s all moot. The important thing is that you show boss that you take it seriously (please don’t’ tell her she’s over-reacting or everyone makes gaffes; a boss wants to know that you recognize the mistake and take it seriously) and you take steps to ensure it doesn’t happen in the future (you can ask your boss for suggestions if it makes sense).
      And if you aren’t feeling like this is a good fit, then yes, why not apply?

    5. Sunshine*

      Ugh, this would annoy me. I loathe companies that have the attitude of higher-ups being untouchable celebrities that everyone else needs to scurry around making life painless for. This seems like a super minor mistake and mistakes happen, no matter what the job is. But it’s possible that your boss is speaking from experience of being disciplined for small mistakes. I would keep an eye out for other red flags – I would not want to work somewhere this perfectionistic.

    6. Educator*

      Your boss is a jerk, or was a jerk in this instance.

      This is also just a bad buisness philosophy. Companies that don’t tolerate mistakes discourage employees from volunteering for stretch projects, contributing ideas, and otherwise taking risks. And of course, those are the very practices that tend to advance mission or make money.

      But the next time you make a minor and immediately correctable mistake (because we all do) I might skip the apology. It makes this feel like a much bigger deal than it was.

  55. Mimmy*

    If a job application asks for your salary requirement but the field is not marked as required, should you still list it? Especially if the salary range is included in the posting?

    Context: There is an almost $30,000 difference between the minimum and the maximum ends of the salary range; they also give a mid-range salary (large state university). The listed minimum salary is a bit higher than what I’ve been asking for. I’ve already submitted my application, but I’m sure I’ll be asked if contacted for a phone screen since I left the answer blank.

    Should I just give a range on the low end of their range? In other words, say the minimum is $57,000, the mid-range is $74,000, and the maximum is $87,000 – should I say my requirement is something like $57,000 to $65,000? (these are not actual figures, I’m just maintaining some anonymity.)

    1. Alex*

      I might try to leave it blank, but also know that they are unlikely to hire much above the minimum unless you are extremely niche and uniquely qualified. Those ranges reflect the entire pay scale for that job, not the hiring range. So putting your range in the lower end probably won’t hurt you.

    2. Drewdad*

      My advice in this instance is to leave it blank. Otherwise you’re providing an anchor number, which reduces your negotiating options in the future.

      If they press you, maybe suggest a range, but with YOUR bottom number the middle of their range (unless you have a number in mind, in which case make that your bottom number).

    3. Cookies for Breakfast*

      If the salary expectations field was not marked as required, I wouldn’t fill it, and wait for an opportunity to ask them in person about their range and the experience they look for.

      I’ve seen application forms where the field was required, but allowed free text, so I wrote something along the lines of “Happy to discuss at the interview stage if selected”. I still got interviews for some of those jobs, and I was able to ask about their range during the first screening.

    4. ferrina*

      You can give the same range they give.
      They just want to make sure that you are in the same ballpark as them. I’ve done interviews where the candidate was 20k above the top of the range, and where the candidate severely undervalued themselves. Being above the range will knock you out, and being at the low end could lead the company to low ball you.

      Really though, you shouldn’t be basing your salary requirements on what they might pay you; you should base it on your value to this kind of organization. Look at salary calculators to help you figure out what your range should be based on you experience, specialty, and adjust slightly for the types of places you’re applying to.

  56. Anon for this*

    I’m involved with an organization as a side activity, not my full-time job. This organization was preparing to hire for a certain position. The board of this organization are excellent and intelligent people, but they are unsophisticated and minimally-experienced in things like resumes, cover letters, etc.

    More than one candidate sent 7-10 page resumes, listing every class they’d taken for this career path, and everything – I mean EVERY.THING – they did in the course of their duty. If the job was baking and decorating cakes, these candidates wouldn’t say they were skilled/experienced bakers. Instead, they were experienced in delicate removal of eggs from cold storage. Precise measurement of flour. Exact measurement of sugar. (repeat for each ingredient) Skilled at whipping butter. Maintained a close eye on oven temperature. … You get the idea.

    I was horrified. I could have edited these resumes to two pages. The board thought they were fine and looked askance at one candidate who did NOT include all of this, choosing instead to only list 3-4 highly-relevant certifications (and whose resume was just two pages).

    I sat in on the interviews. I think most people, when invited to “tell us a little about yourself” in a job interview, would focus on their relevant experience. “I’ve been baking since I was 10 and earned a degree in culinary arts…” Instead, one candidate talked about where they went to high school (and which sport played, IIRC), what they did after that, etc. – covering 13 years of life, marriage, and multiple previous (unrelated) jobs before entering this career field. This took at least three to four minutes – which, in a 30-minute interview, is a lot of valuable real estate.

    The piece de resistance of this particular interview was when the candidate was asked, “How would your colleagues and subordinates describe you?”

    The candidate paused. “Psycho, maybe? Crazy?” They said other things, but my brain didn’t get any further.

    (Ableism aside, this is a job that can literally involve life-and-death decisions and a lot of public scrutiny.)

    At the end of the interview, after the candidate left, one of the board members said to the others, “Did they just sit there and tell us they’re unbalanced?”

    The board has chosen a different candidate to proceed. :-)

  57. Pam*