open thread – February 17-18, 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.

{ 1,116 comments… read them below }

  1. Eva*

    I had a final interview for a role (Company A) I was on the fence about this past Tuesday, HR told me they would reach out within 24 hours, it’s been about 70 hours and I haven’t heard anything. Meanwhile, I applied for a role that sounded more interesting (Company B) this week and have a phone screening with them next Tuesday. The roles themselves are similar but the companies have very different products, both are remote and pay is about the same and would be a decent increase. During the first couple interviews with Company A, I was a little put off because they seemed like a “drink the kool-aid” culture, and there was traveling to off-sites about once a quarter. My hiring manager said the off-sites were optional however. I didn’t get around to asking much about his people management experience, but he mentioned he wanted this role to have autonomy, so it sounds like hopefully he’s not a micromanager. But the role and company I’m not excited about, it reminds me of a horrid company I worked for several years ago, where it was a similar product, and it was run by inexperienced management and had a ton of favoritism.

    Researching Company B, I saw they were sued over $1B last year due to grants to the founders, and I’m not sure what the effects of that have been? The job description sounds more exciting and similar to what I’m doing now, which is what I like.

    I’m just thinking about what I should do. Has anyone dealt with something similar? How did it turn out? I’m trying to get out of my current role, my new manager is awful, but I don’t want to go somewhere just as bad.

    1. SpiderLadyCEO*

      I think you should use the time they have taken in not replying to your advantage! Hopefully, you move along quickly through Company B’s process. If you get an offer from Company A in this time, you can ask time to think about it, and let Company B know in the hopes they move along their process. Or let you know how serious of a contender you are, at the very least.

    2. Chauncy Gardener*

      I feel like with Company A, you should trust your gut and pass on it.
      With Company B, if the screening goes well and you’re still interested, you can ask them about the lawsuit. I assume they are public since you were able to find this info, true?
      I know you want to get out of your current situation, but please remember you want to go toward something, not run from something. Alison always says to make sure you interview the company as much as they are interviewing you. Take your time and you will find a great opportunity! Good luck!

      1. MigraineMonth*

        I once interviewed at a company with a spotty legal history, and still received an offer after I asked them about it. Unfortunately, they didn’t have a good answer about the lawsuit (blamed it on their contractors), so I didn’t accept.

    3. New Mom*

      Since you have two options, I’d say ask the hard questions. With Company A, how would you feel about the role if the hiring manager left right after you started? Would the optional off-site visits become mandatory? I remember signing a contract that said “occasional weekend work” and the hiring manager said that they just put it in there but I wasn’t actually expected to do that. Well… I should have said it needed to be removed from the contract because six months in they started requiring weekend work and cited the signed contract.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        But why only two options? If the OP can get two interviews this close together, then they have some useful and in demand skills. Maybe company C is the best option – for the job not yet applied for.

    4. Counting Down To 5*

      It stinks, but you can’t read anything into the fact that “A” is taking longer to respond than they said. That happens all the time.

      I’d be concerned about the lawsuit of company B. The last place I worked at didn’t think about changing markets (mortgage), and shortly after I joined, budgets got cut and things got weird. Fortunately, another place made an offer and I was able to jump ship before I had to lay any of my staff off, or be laid off.

      You can ask about the lawsuit, perhaps “B” won, and it’s irrelevant. But if it went badly for them, I doubt you’ll get any information you can make a judgement on. But how they respond will say a lot.

      Good luck!

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        > perhaps “B” won, and it’s irrelevant

        It would make me wonder if there are other lawsuits in their future, or other dodgy dealings. What are the chances that financial irregularities are just a one off incident?

      2. MigraineMonth*

        As a note, the amount someone sues for rarely matters. I could announce that I’m suing a pizza place for $1B for delivering a slightly burnt pizza, and probably get some news coverage for it. It doesn’t mean that $1B of damage was done or that there’s a snowball’s chance the judge will actually award me that much.

    5. theletter*

      You don’t have a job until you have a signed offer letter AND a start date. Some would even say you don’t have a job until you’ve been at said new job for a few days and set up your desk and laptop.

      Keep following every lead until you’re totally happy.

    6. JSPA*

      Keep applying, frankly, as both companies have (at least orange) flags, in terms of having decent guardrails.

      And use, “I’d need to know more about X and Y to move forward” both for its own sake, and to stall for time.

      Rush offers don’t always mean the company is bad, but bad companies absolutely use them, to hide the problems that would otherwise come out.

  2. korangeen*

    I’ve been asked to an in-person interview for a somewhat high-level position. Out of the dozens of job interviews I’ve done, I can only recall one that was in person, and it was literally ten years ago. Any suggestions for how I can survive this interview in person?

    I struggle a lot with job interviews, for reasons beyond anxiety. I struggle with auditory processing, memory recall, and conversational skills in day-to-day life. Typically I can contribute in meetings much better if there’s a set agenda and I can prepare my thoughts ahead of time. I’m fairly certain I’m neurodivergent of some sort, but I don’t feel like I fit into any known conditions like ASD or ADHD (though I have an autism evaluation scheduled for later this summer to see if I can get any insights.) I’ve done plenty of great work in the past, even in leadership positions, and there are several references who are happy to sing my praises, but job interviews are a perfect recipe for me to crash and burn.

    There are a couple methods I routinely use to make it through job interviews relatively unscathed, or at least less scathed:
    1) Preparing a whole bunch of notes in a google doc and looking at them throughout the interview, sometimes literally reading my pre-prepared answer off the page. (Reading scripts in a natural and engaging tone is one of my strong suits, so it likely isn’t noticeable.)
    2) Recording the interview audio and getting it transcribed later so I can process what was said. (This isn’t technically legal, since I don’t live in a one-party-consent state, but I’ve never felt comfortable enough to ask for permission to record, and I figure they’ll never find out, since that recording isn’t going anywhere public.)

    But both these methods are going to be way more obvious in person!

    The recruiter has given me the typical “let me know if you need to request an accommodation for your interview” statement, but as far as I know, that’s meant to be for diagnosed medical conditions where you have a doctor’s note and stuff, not just anything that’ll make the interview process easier for you personally.

    One thing that would make the interview wayyyyy easier for me is to have the questions ahead of time. I’m always playing a stressful game of “try to guess what they’re going to ask me” and no matter how much I prepare, inevitably they’ll ask me questions I didn’t prepare for and I won’t be able to come up with a solid answer on the spot. (Tips like “repeat the question to buy yourself a few seconds to think” don’t work for me, because I don’t need a few seconds; I need like an hour to go through materials from my past work to jog my memory on relevant information.) I have tried asking a few times in the past if they can let me know any specific questions I can prepare to discuss, but usually they ignore that.

    In this specific case, I’m more hesitant to ask for the questions ahead of time because the job description lists “Strong verbal communication skills with an ability to present ideas coherently and persuasively” as one of the qualifications, so I feel like asking for accommodations related to verbal communication would be a no-go. But if I can’t know the questions ahead of time, AND I can’t look at my google doc notes, AND I can’t record the audio to process later, AND I have to deal with all the stress and anxiety of being in person… I just don’t know if there’s any point in going through with the interview. They won’t get any useful information out of me, and I won’t get any useful information out of them because I’ll have no idea what they’ve said.

    I don’t know, is there any way to make it through this, or should I just turn down the interview?

    1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

      I think you should ask for the questions ahead of time. They’re unlikely to make you prove a diagnosis just for interview questions, and the point you listed is about your ability to communicate verbally, not necessarily your ability to respond off-the-cuff.

      Might they ding your candidacy for it? Maybe. But you definitely won’t get the role if you turn down the interview, and if they do provide accommodations, that’s giving you good info about how they operate.

      1. NewED*

        I wouldn’t ding a candidate for asking but I shouldn’t be able to provide the questions in advance. While we have a few questions that we ask in all our interview (the basics about why you want the position, why you’re looking to leave your existing position, etc.) most of our questions come up spontaneously based on what you, or other candidates say. So for example of you say you are interested in the position because you love doing x, I might ask more questions about specific experiences related to x. Or if the candidate we interviewed yesterday mentioned experience with z, which wasn’t in the job description but we realize might be useful, we might ask you if you have experience with z.

    2. ThatGirl*

      Here’s my question – do you think you can do the job well if you can just get through the interview?

      If yes, then I feel like it can’t hurt to ask for accommodation – the worst they can say is no.

      1. korangeen*

        I’m maybe 75% confident in saying yes, I could do the job well. But 0.5% confident in getting through the interview, ha.

    3. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I think it’s worth asking. “Strong verbal communication skills with an ability to present ideas coherently and persuasively” does not mean “an ability to spontaneously present ideas coherently and persuasively.”

      I’d ask, citing a nondescript need, and see what they say. Something like, “I find that I am able to be better engaged and focused in interviews if I know which questions are asked ahead of time. Is it possible for those questions to be shared?” Sometimes it’s not possible because there is not set list of questions, or the interviewer doesn’t prepare them until right before the session (I am guilty of this).

      But also: you are absolutely allowed to bring notes with you. I often jot dot key projects, accomplishments, or situations that are likely to apply to one or more scenarios typically asked in an interview. When the question is asked, I glance at my notes, my eye catches on this list, and it helps jog my memory into a cohesive answer.

      Please stop recording people without their consent :(

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I agree with all of this, including the approach. And the plea to stop recording people without their consent. It doesn’t matter if it’s for your use– you’re getting these files transcribed, for one thing, and for another, while I can’t speak to the legalities of it, I think it’s rude.

        1. korangeen*

          It is software local to my computer doing the transcription, not other people. Would it be rude to take notes during the interview? I see it as the same thing, recording the info in a way that’s accessible to me. But I’m definitely open to suggestions for how to ask for permission in a way that feels easy and comfortable! I guess I worry that, well, they’ll have this reaction. That I’m being weird or rude. I hate bringing attention to myself in a way that disrupts the flow or seems out-of-the-norm, ugh. I’m just trying to survive over here, haha.

          1. Not a Real Giraffe*

            “Would you mind if I recorded this session? I find transcribing the interview afterwards helps me stay focused on our conversation in the moment while also not missing key notes. The recording would stay with me and only me.”

          2. AvonLady Barksdale*

            Recording and taking notes are not the same thing. Your notes are your interpretation of the conversation, basically. I don’t know of anyone who would find that out of the ordinary. Recording someone without their permission is very different.

            1. Not a Real Giraffe*

              Agreed. Taking notes during an interview is expected and completely normal. (But that said, if recording and transcribing later are truly better for you, there is no harm in asking, so long as you are prepared to hear and abide by a “no.”)

          3. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

            “ I hate bringing attention to myself in a way that disrupts the flow or seems out-of-the-norm, ugh”

            Something that helps me with this feeling is to pretend like I believe others feel positively inclined toward me. They think of me with gentleness and kindness, and wish good things for me. If you act as if you expect these things, a lot of people will act in precisely that way in response.

            The hardest person to apply that to is yourself! Can you identify what you’re worried might happen if you gave yourself permission to take up space even if it disrupts the flow? Is there any self-compassion available for you to apply to that fear?

      2. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

        Yes to all this!
        From another neurodivergent employee without a popularly recognized diagnosis (I have some autism-like features, but my actual dx’s are for other things).

        Korangeen, your assumption that “let me know if you need to request an accommodation for your interview” is meant to be for diagnosed medical conditions where you have a doctor’s note and stuff, not just anything that’ll make the interview process easier for you personally, is incorrect. People with nonspecific diagnoses or without any diagnoses at all are allowed to ask for accommodations. People with diagnoses are allowed to not-disclose their exact dx when asking for accommodations.

        I have never had to disclose any of my dx’s in requesting minor accommodations. I usually just describe how my needs or experience are different from what they might expect, suggest an accommodation I think would work, and let the other person answer if it’s okay for them or we need to try something else. (Employers are allowed to request or require medical documentation to grant accommodations, but most don’t unless the accommodation’s a big change for them, causes a conflict, or they’re being petty and obnoxious–all things you’d want to find out in the interview stage before you commit to working somewhere it’s hard to get even easy, no cost, basic accommodations.)

    4. Linda*

      I agree that you should just ask for the accommodation. Sure, maybe it’ll hurt your candidacy, but bombing the interview will hurt it a lot more. Heck, with Senator Fetterman in the news lately it might not even hurt to mention your auditory processing issues, he definitely has a job that requires strong verbal communication skills.

    5. RagingADHD*

      If it’s a good job that you can do, you should certainly ask for accommodation to make the interview more successful. They actually *asked* if you needed accommodation! That’s very good, because most places still don’t. (They should, but they don’t).

      Getting the agenda or questions up front is a very common accommodation.

      If your issues center around *auditory* processing in real time (rather than language processing in general), you could also ask to use live transcription during the meeting. This could be as simple as bringing your own tablet and running a Google Meet transcript – they are quite good. However, if processing a text transcript in real time is still an issue, that might not help much.

      Definitely bring notes and bullet points of questions you want to ask. If you had a checklist of your questions that you wanted answers to in front of you, could you process the replies well enough to check them off?

      You can also ask your doctor about something you might be able to take short-term for performance anxiety. There are some common, safe medications for “stage fright” that can be used only as needed.

      1. korangeen*

        I just downloaded a live transcription app, and yeah maybe that would be helpful! I think I’ll try it out in a practice interview with one of my friends and see if it’s of use in real time. At the very least, it does save the transcript so I can review it later, same as what I’ve been doing with audio recordings minus the audio part, and the audio part is what some commenters above seem to be uncomfortable with.

        I guess my question with the notes is, is it okay to be looking at your laptop during an in-person interview? Obviously people work on their laptops all the time in in-person meetings, but for some reason I get the sense that it’s less acceptable for an interview and they expect the interviewee to get by with just paper and pen. But maybe I’ve just totally imagined that.

        1. RagingADHD*

          I think a laptop would probably come across oddly, but could you print out your notes?
          If you’re reading answers verbatim, that is going to be visible in person regardless of the medium you bring the answers on. But if you can get by with bullet points, it will come across better.

          1. korangeen*

            But.. why? I don’t want to be shuffling through papers; typing is faster than writing; and I only have to glance down a few inches to look at my laptop screen as opposed to looking all the way down at the table. Plus if I’m using a transcription app, I could prop my phone up on my laptop to read the app, as opposed to having to either hold my phone up, or again, look down at the table. (Or I could see if I can get the app directly on my laptop.) And making a trip to the library to print out my notes seems like an annoying extra step.

            I know you didn’t come up with the no-laptop rule, but I’m trying to understand why is this even an expectation? Obviously we’ve been using laptops the whole time throughout virtual interviews.

            1. AvonLady Barksdale*

              An interview is, ultimately, a conversation. Taking a quick note during a conversation is one thing, but typing away in front of someone is another. I actually don’t expect people to type notes during a virtual interview, and personally, I keep a notepad next to my laptop and jot things down.

              If you have notes that you want to read from, I would also suggest printing them out rather than reading them from a laptop screen, which puts a barrier between you and the interviewer.

            2. T. Boone Pickens*

              Showing up to an in-person interview with a laptop would be really far outside the norm unless you were doing a presentation. Even then, once you got the presentation loaded, reading off the laptop would look really strange.

            3. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

              There is not a no-laptop rule; it’s not that black-and-white.

              A laptop might just be perceived less favorably than a slim and tidy collection of paper, notebook or pad, or a small tablet. My guess is that the reason is 1 part how visually obtrusive the object is — a large binder or stack of paper taking up the same physical space as a laptop would come across equally oddly, unless explained–and one part the perceived role of the type of object: referring often to a phone during an interview would also look odd unless explained, even though it is small, because phone even more than a laptop is perceived as a multipurpose object with at least as many personal or entertainment uses as work uses.

              You could use any of those objects, or multiple. You could use a live transcription app or read your pre-scripted notes verbatim. You could do any/all of that without asking for it as an accommodation or explaining that it would allow you to participate more equitably in the interview process. But unexplained differences from the norm are considered cumulatively, so if you want to minimize impact on how you’re perceived, 1. explain/ask for accommodation, briefly and positively; 2. prioritize a few things that are the most helpful to you with the least difference from expectation, and forego being different for convenience or principle (*) in order to 3. keep the overall number and magnitude of divergences low.

              (*nonconformity on principle=any choice primarily about “fair” or “logical” — you can fight back about those sometime when you’re in position not to mind how you’re perceived. When you’re in a secure job and have some capital to spend changing the work culture, or when you’re interviewing but you can afford to turn down any job that doesn’t welcome the differences you represent.)

              I don’t think “the audio part” is what commenters above are uncomfortable with, it’s the *nonconsensual* part. MHO, one person’s need to read a transcript (and avoid feeling awkward asking for permission to record) does not trump another’s need to choose whether they are recorded — and in many locations that is a not just an ethical stance, it is also a matter of law. Ask before you record people, audio, video, photo, any means. It need not be awkward; Not A Real Giraffe gave a great script elsewhere in this thread. Many people will think well of you for asking (because it shows 1.consideration of others, 2. awareness of law, and 3. communication skill) whether or not they personally mind being recorded.

        2. Q without U*

          Unless it was a needed, stated accommodation, I would be very put off by someone asking to record an interview because there’s always the possibility that they’re looking for fodder for a discrimination lawsuit. I would be so uncomfortable with this that it would likely negatively impact the person’s chances, even if only on a subconscious basis.

          1. korangeen*

            Yikes, if you’re worried people would have material for a discrimination lawsuit if they had record of what you’re saying, maybe the bigger issue is… the discrimination happening in the interview.

            But glad to know my fear of asking to record is somewhat founded, because there are indeed people who would be really uncomfortable just by me asking!

            1. Helewise*

              I agree with Q without U. I can’t imagine permitting recording in an interview; there are enough people out there who do act with ill intent that I wouldn’t be willing to expose my organization to such an unnecessary risk.

            2. Q without U*

              There is no discrimination happening in our interviews, and that’s the worst possible assumption you could have made when I am trying to give you my honest point of view. I’m not worried about people having material, I’m worried about people willing to falsely accuse and say they have “proof” to back it up. People lie, people twist things, and people in my state are jumping at the chance to believe the worst about my industry. Just because you don’t mean anything malicious mean that others wouldn’t.

            3. AvonLady Barksdale*

              There are people who would be uncomfortable without a stated reason. That’s the key part here. HR has asked if you need any accommodations and recording is an accommodation.

              But none of this means you can just not ask. If you truly need to record the interview, you need to ask. People have the right to know when they’re being recorded, no matter the reason, which is why it’s a law in so many states.

            4. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

              Unfortunately, there are dishonest people out there. Some of them have been known to deceptively cut and/or rearrange recordings to make someone else look bad.

              You know you don’t intend to do that, but Q without U has no way to be sure that the person who asks to record a conversation isn’t going to use the recording to harm them or their employer.

          2. My Name is Mudd*

            I wouldn’t want to be edited into someone’s TikTok or anything like that. I don’t know that you aren’t lying to me about the intentions for the recording, and it would make me incredibly uncomfortable.

    6. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      You need to figure out the context of the need to “present ideas coherently and persuasively”. Being able to verbally communicate coherently to one coworker at a time is different from communicating during staff meetings which is different from presenting to the public which is different from explaining something to an irate customer over the phone.

      Ask about what happens in a particular day, especially with an eye toward those skills. And think about how you got to this posting … if you’ve done some of these things successfully in other jobs, then talk about that. and bring a note pad with the outline of your best answers in small print along one side of the paper. You can use that page to take quick notes — and you’ll have a framework for your best stories etc. as Not A Giraffe mentions.

    7. Kez*

      I second the advice to bring a neatly organized notebook with some key phrases/reminders of your answers on one page and space on the other page to write down parts of multi-part questions, things you want to follow up on, etc.

      I would also encourage you to consider writing out some scripts for when a question that you can’t parse comes up. If you have clear and concise ways to address that you aren’t sure about a question, but you plan to follow up on it via email once you’ve had a chance to organize your thoughts, I think you will actually be better positioned for the interview. Admitting that you don’t know something off the top of your head can be very daunting for people, and doing it in a way that still acknowledges the question-asker and promises follow up is a great example of communication skills that someone in higher-up positions will need. I’ve always found it very impressive when someone who’s responsible for lots of things is upfront with me about needing to check their notes or ask someone they manage before answering me, because it feels more likely to be a well-considered response.

      It’s absolutely up to you whether to disclose that in certain circumstances, like interviews, you struggle with auditory processing (this is the term I would use, based on what you’ve described yourself as struggling with and so that they can understand that it’s not an issue all of the time so much as an issue specific to interviewing) and that you’d appreciate a questions list or topics list ahead of time for you to review. They might give you one, or they might not, but it probably wouldn’t hurt to ask.

      Then on the day of, have your “Let me think about that and get back to you” and “Would you mind re-phrasing that so I’m certain I understand what you’re asking?” phrases on hand (maybe written in the notebook) and make sure to write down any questions where you don’t have the materials prepared or the mental bandwidth to answer on the spot.

      Then the final step is crucial: write a really well-considered and polite email following up on the interview. On top of thanking them for their time and mentioning things that you were particularly excited about discussing, make sure to reference the questions that you promised to follow up on and provide clear, concise, and informative answers along with a note at the end thanking them for their thoughtful questions and their patience as you took the time to answer them after reviewing your notes.

      I hope that these might help you! I certainly used some during my own interviews because of similar neurodivergence tendencies of my own. Good luck!

    8. Haven’t picked a username yet*

      I agree with everyone saying ask for the questions in advance, but outside of that I think you can prepare in a few ways.

      Looking through the posting/job descriptions make notes on some past work or work experience would fit that. For example I might make notes about a project that I would be able to use to share about my process, or a time something went wrong, or where I had to pivot approaches etc. with a few projects/scenarios on notes you can look down and more easily connect with the example.

      I would indicate at the start of the interview you have some notes etc. keep them high level so you can just glance down and have your memory jogged.

      Good luck!

    9. Freddie Mercurial*

      My interview prep has always included going through all the Required and Preferred qualifications and write an example from my work history of how I meet that qualification. Even just a brief table. “Lead large teams” –> led teams of 50+ and did this great thing
      This may help as paper notes.

    10. Cordelia*

      I’ve interviewed many people, online and in person, and I have never been asked to provide the questions in advance. We wouldn’t do so – all candidates will be asked the same basic questions (with individualised follow-up questions depending on their answers) and so this would disadvantage the candidates who didn’t have the questions in advance and didn’t have time to prepare their answers. You say that inevitably you will be asked questions you didn’t prepare for – well, that’s the same for everyone, surely. That’s when you get to show your knowledge of the subject matter and your experience in the field.
      Maybe this is a US vs UK thing (I’m in the UK) as I can see from the replies that others are saying yes, ask for the questions in advance. To me, it seems like asking for exam questions in advance.
      Are you sure this is a job you will be happy in? Is it a work environment where you would be able to take an hour going through previous materials before being able to answer a question, as you suggest you need for the interview? There are definitely some jobs like this, but you probably want to be really sure this is going to be one of them, before putting yourself through the stress of an interview.

      1. Don't Call Me Shirley*

        I’m in Canada, and generally we wouldn’t provide questions either. Immediately before for a hearing or verbal language processing issue, sure, but far in advance is too much of an advantage. If everyone gets the questions, that might work, but there will always be follow up based on the answers, asking to explain or define something in the initial answers.

      2. RagingADHD*

        I would only suggest asking for questions in advance as an accommodation. For employers who are aware of / value diversity and inclusion, it is a fairly common option.

        In the US, it would be unusual to consider a job interview as the equivalent of an exam. It is more conversational, or like a meeting or presentation. You can’t “cheat” and having the topics doesn’t give an advantage, because the purpose of the questions is to find out the substance, not to test the candidate’s recall of detail under pressure.

        It’s not supposed to be a quiz show.

        1. DataSci*

          It’s exactly because an interview is a conversation that it’s impossible to provide questions in advance! A few for getting started, sure, but then it goes into followup or something specific about your resume, and we’re not going to know in advance what direction the conversation will take.

          1. RagingADHD*

            Yes, I didn’t mean every single question or remark. Of course that’s impossible. But surely you aren’t asking behavioral scenario questions, or inquiring about specific items on the person’s resume, or technical skills, off-the-cuff.

            You are walking into the room with a list (even if it’s only a mental list) of things you intend to ask about. How does it improve the interview for anyone if you refuse to provide that list, if requested?

      3. workswitholdstuff*

        I’m in the UK, and in my sectors (Museums/Heritage) actually there’s being to be a trend to start asking/providing questions in advance as a way to help our sector diversify itself.

        It’s not full proof, but it’s potentially one way of levelling the playing field.

      4. Flinn*

        I’m in the UK and have been given the questions both before the interview previously (without requesting them) and have also been given a printed copy of the questions upon arrival at interview. In both instances these were organisations that work directly with people with disabilities, and therefore have a strong focus on inclusion.

        And just generally in terms of “fairness”, some cases organisations do provide the questions to everyone interviewing if they are asked to accommodate one candidate in that particular way. But really, the aim of accommodations is to even the playing field for those who are already at a disadvantage, rather than aiming to give them an advantage over someone else.

        Also just more generally, ability to perform at interview is a skill in itself and is in a lot of cases distinct from the ability to actually carry out the job in question.

        1. workswitholdstuff*

          Exactly. My skills in an interview (where my mind can go blank) are not the same skills I used in my actual day to day job. I panic a bit in interviews and questions I know the answers to I can blank on momentarily.

          My best interview (and I got the job, which was a ‘stretch’ role for me), was the one I was convinced I wasn’t going to get it, but it was a trip out to a museum I’d not been to before, and something I could at least go to the Jobcentre with a ‘applied, interviewed’ on my ‘what I’d been doing to get a job’ notes…

          It felt like a relaxed conversation about museum things, where I could give examples. (13 years ago, you wouldn’t be offered the questions), because didn’t put myself under pressure. I got the job (1 yr maternity cover, and 13 years later I’m still there, and one of the interviewers has become a wonderful mentor and friend after he retired)

    11. Aglet*

      In addition to asking for the questions in advance as an accommodation, maybe consider also asking about using your laptop during the interview as an accommodation and about recording as an accommodation (or at least recording the answers to the questions you ask). You have a better chance if you ask than if you just cancel the interview. You can always cancel the interview after they say no to some or all of your accommodations if that happens.

    12. JSPA*

      If responding off-the-cuff is necessary for the job, better to not get the job; if it isn’t, then better to disclose, and ensure the best interview possible.

      Plenty of people have “some hearing or sound processing issues, no specific diagnosis.” (Even more, these days, with post-C tinnitus.)

  3. SpiderLadyCEO*

    I have a bit of a multifold situation! I’d really like to move from nonprofit work to corporate work, but I don’t get any interviews from any of the corporate roles I’ve applied for. I have been getting interviews for a few nonprofits, but not many, and I feel like when I apply and there are already a ton of candidates…I’m not anyone’s first choice.

    I make it clear in my cover letter that I’m qualified and am more than capable of doing the work, but I think they see my rather non-traditional job history and throw me out.

    Furthermore, people see my previous job, which ended up being more administrative than I had signed on to be, and somehow think that I’m an intern or a secretary. I’m not, and that’s not the kind of work I’m good at. I’ve been sent emails telling me to apply for internship positions, or recruiters telling me I should apply for admin positions.

    Job hunting wise, I am completely at sea. I keep being told to add accomplishments to my resume but my jobs didn’t measure accomplishments, or mostly had rote work and I wasn’t told about the success or failure of my work. I literally do not know how to add them, so this is stressing me out a bit.

    My second issue is schooling. If I don’t get work, I’m going to go back to school. I can pursue a masters in either English, which I would prefer, but feel would be entirely useless, career-wise, or in Communications, which I feel like would maybe be useful career-wise, but not across as many potential careers. The most useful degree to me would actually be Master of Public Admin, but the program at the local college is really bad, and I can’t afford to move.

    Please advise, I truly, truly do not know what to do!

    1. Sloanicota*

      A few thoughts. 1) Do you have any contacts you can lean on? It’s hard to switch both fields and roles in one hop. It would be easier to do it in two (so, a role that seems extremely similar to your current role, but in corporate) – unless someone can vouch for you? 2) I wouldn’t pursue a Masters until you see a clear path for how it will help you reach your goals. If you’re a lifelong learner it’s fun to take non-degree classes, but if you’re going to go into debt to get a degree, it’s better to already have some experience in the field and know that a Masters is relevant and valuable to getting the job you want. Many are not; experience is better. At least confirm that the program you’re interested in has a robust intern placement program (not having you get the internship yourself) and a jobs office.

      1. Rosemary*

        Agreed about figuring out what you want before going to grad school. I went to grad school pretty much because I was bored with my job/life and did not want to put in the “work” to figure out what I wanted to do; I was using grad school as an escape. I graduated with a not-worthless degree, but one I may not have pursued if I had really put more thought into my decision. I was also fortunate in that I did not graduate with debt, so I did not feel like I “wasted” money. If OP is able to “afford” a “mistake degree” (for lack of a better way to describe it), then sure, go for it. But if it is going to seriously set you back financially and/or career-wise…I’d wait to go to grad school when you are more certain on what you want.

        1. SpiderLadyCEO*

          I know what I want to do…I am just not getting interviews for it. At all. Ideally, I would get a job in communications, which I went to school for and enjoy. But my network isn’t really in this field or in this state, either. My previous jobs were out of state, in politics, and for family and personal reasons, I don’t want to pick up and move again.

          The issue I am having is apart from one job early on in my actual intended field, I have worked pretty diverse jobs. I think that makes me more qualified (I can do all the things you want your internal communications to do, plus some like film and audio editing) but I don’t have the traditional corporate background.

          I do have the cash to go back to school, but that would put homeownership much further down the road. But since I’m not getting work, I really don’t know what else to do.

          1. Rosemary*

            If you know what you want to do career-wise, then go for the degree that will help you achieve that end. My strong hunch is that a Master’s in English is NOT the way to go if you want to work in the corporate world. But I would make sure to look very carefully at the career services/placement the program provides, as well as where alums have ended up.

          2. Spearmint*

            This might be a good opportunity to try to do informational interviews with people in the kind of role your trying to secure. Ask them how they got their first job in the field, and maybe ask them what about your resume might be preventing you from getting a job in the field.

          3. Tamarack*

            I had to reinvent myself a few times, and also went back to grad school in my 40s. My advice would be a) troubleshoot your CV, cover letter, LinkedIn/(whatever sites you use) profile. If recruiters read you as admin/intern there’s a reason for it. Your accomplishments in the tasks/roles you target need to be clearly perceptible. Don’t worry about numbers – I also never could quantify that sort of thing. But if you’ve done internal comms, video/audio production etc. say what you handled (“produced quarterly video to communicate report to internal stakeholders”, “managed donor mailing list, editorial control over monthly newsletter”, “authored press releases for wetlands conservation project” … I’m not a comms professional, but you’ll know the right language. Your CV is a marketing document, so play up (be more effusive and specific about) what you want more of and play down the roles and tasks you want less of.

            b) As for going back to grad school,other than quality of the program one central criteria of your choice should be whether it gets you closer to your career goals. For example I knew it was risky to do a PhD, but I selected my field and topic that I would get to build out my software development and data science skills, for which my formal credentials were shaky. So I knew if I were to go back to the software industry I would be a more employable package than before, if carefully marketed. Do a degree that you come out of with a portfolio, attractive showcases, maybe a student job experience, and new networks. Think big, not timid, and cast your net wide.

    2. New Mom*

      I recommend tapping into your network. I’m in nonprofits and applying for jobs and even with all my experience I’m only getting interviews at places where I know people. I’m pretty personable but I think my resume doesn’t stand out from the many applications that come in. Are there people you worked with in the past or went to undergrad with that now work in the corporate world? I’d talk to them and start checking the careers pages at their companies. It can be win-win because a lot of companies offer referral bonuses.

    3. Ormond Sackler*

      I would try a career coach. I did, and it made a huge difference. I was doing great work, but I wasn’t good at communicating to interviewers exactly what I was doing and what made me good at it. She was able to really help me with that, and helped me get a solid raise at my current job and eventually another better paying job elsewhere.

      Also, at one point someone with an unusual career path worked with this career coach, and she reached out to me to ask if there were any open positions for him at my company. There was, he applied, got hired, and to the best of my knowledge is still there. So they can massively expand your network as well.

        1. Phlox*

          My college has a few they recommend to alumni that I’ve been considering – it seems like a solid place to start with some screening/recommendation.

    4. former professor*

      Regarding your question about going back to school: I’m a former professor. I always told undergraduates thinking about graduate degrees to think of them solely as credentialing for the job they wanted to be doing in 10 years, and decide what degree/whether they need a degree at all based on that. (E.g., if what you want to do is provide counselling to clients, getting a Ph.D. in clinical psychology is actually a much worse choice than a counselling or social work masters.)

      If the thing that would be useful in getting you into the role you want to be doing in 10 years is an MPA, then that’s the degree to get. Especially with the pandemic, there are a ton of low-residency [e.g., a 3 day weekend once or twice a semester] or fully online programs from excellent schools that would let you pursue that without moving.

      1. SpiderLadyCEO*

        What I’d really like is to be a full-time writer, but I literally cannot make the numbers work. That’s why I am interested in the English degree.

        I’m struggling so much with this because I would love a job that would work for five years or so just to let me be financially independent, but I don’t feel like I have the credentials that are being sought out even if I can technically do the work.

        1. Mynona*

          An MA/MFA in English may improve your writing but it will not qualify you for a writing job if you are otherwise inexperienced. And I am not aware of any writing or writing adjacent job that pays enough to not have to work in five years. Admittedly, writing job is very vague, so I might be missing something here.

          1. SpiderLadyCEO*

            I don’t want to stop working in five years, I’d like to be working full time as a writer in five years. Ideally, if I can actually get fiction published, as a fiction writer, but otherwise as a copy or grant writer. (Because I like being able to pay bills.)

            I have experience with all aspects of grant processes except writing, and freelance writer jobs in the past, but not enough to get full-time jobs.

            Other than that, I like communications work! I like writing and editing, and it’s been the core of all the jobs I have had.

            1. WestsideStory*

              If writing fiction is what is calling you, are there any publishing companies in your area that might be hiring? Or if not book publishing, magazine publishing?

              While it’s true starting pay isn’t great, publishers are always looking for people with good admin skills and who can actually write and know about grammar and punctuation etc. And it’s a great way to get insight into how content gets published these days. And I would say having a Master’s Degree won’t help you and might make you look overqualified – but certain skills gained in nonprofits (dealing with “personalities” and managing expectations of stakeholders) will be helpful to thrive.

              I was a freelance writer for nearly the first twenty years of my post-college career (and made a living at it). Then I went into the corporate side of book publishing and I made a lot MORE money which is allowing me to retire earlier than I thought.

              I did my career backwards – but if you like writing and editing, start looking for book jobs. There is a LOT of turnover in books currently and many of the roles are remote or hybrid.

            2. Lola*

              Grant writing is completely different from writing fiction. Same thing with other forms of technical writing (grant writing is often put in this category). Same with copywriting. And writing copy for advertising is different than writing instructions or explanations.

              If you have experience with “all aspects of grants”, look into courses that teach you how to write grants. These are not masters degree programs, but give you some sort of certificate. Certificate courses often are designed for people who are already working so are at night or on weekends.

              This gives you the boost when applying for grant writing jobs. You can emphasize your experience with working with/complying with grants and your coursework.

              For any type of writing job, you will need appropriate writing samples. If applying to copywriting for advertising, your sample needs to sell me something. If applying to jobs where you’d be writing instructions, your sample needs to be instructions. For each of these, make up a fictional product ant write about that.

            3. Magda*

              FWIW, I have a few friends who are following the “20 Books to 50K” strategy of publishing fiction (via self-publishing, but with a real eye towards profit) – there’s a FB group here with a lot of info: I am a traditionally published author and I don’t know a lot of folks who can do that full time as a job (like, even after several very well received books), although there’s lots of people who do it when they are also a primary caregiver or if they have an adjacent job like academia or freelance editing.

              1. Redaktorin*

                Came here to say this. There are barely any full-time fiction writers left, and none making even a fraction of the income I get from editing, so even though I have an MFA from a fairly respected program and some traditional publications, I never seriously bothered with this. Most people shouldn’t.

                I’m likely to write again when I retire, and until then, I’m much happier and healthier than all the people from my MFA still trying to make it work. Don’t get the degree because you genuinely believe you’ll be a full-time fiction writer in five years. I’ve known many people who thought this would be their life and all of them are miserable now.

              2. Office Gumby*

                Thirding the 20Booksto50K group, if you want to be financially successful at fiction.
                Being successful at fiction is hard slog, not because of the writing, but because half your time needs to be spent in effective marketing. (Writing the books is the easy part of being an author.)

                If you are thinking of going back to school to increase your employability, maybe you should look into something that focuses on Marketing. (Dunno if you have access to Marketing degrees where you are [I’m foreign], or if that’s a component of your Communications degree?) Sounds like a whole lot of what you want to get into would look favourably at some marketing skills/education/experience.

        2. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

          I’d recommend reading (or listening to – she has a great voice) Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. It is like she wrote this book for you right now!! She also has a TED talk about Big Magic but my sense is the deeper nuances of book are for you.

        3. nela*

          An English degree will not help you get writing jobs. It just doesn’t. In fast, no masters degreee will. Don’t go back to school for writing jobs. Clips are what get you writing jobs, not degrees or certificates.

    5. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      I haven’t done a resume in ages, but could you rearrange it a bit? Maybe put a short “experience” section before you get into the work history so that the parts up front are the stuff you want them to focus on? Also, a good cover letter will be helpful for you, also.

    6. Artemesia*

      Is it the title of your jobs that say they are administrative? Because if you signed on for X and it was more y than you wanted, can you focus on the X part you signed on for (and did some of). I mean try to expunge discussion of admin work from the resume and focus on the kinds of things you want to do. Obviously if your title was AA that wn’t work, but if it was project manager or engineering assistant or something can you just focus on the parts you want to build on for your next role?

      1. SpiderLadyCEO*

        It is not! That is part of what is so baffling to me. Like, I don’t know what the connection is here, because I do not see it at all.

        1. Executive As-Superhero*

          I do think you can still tailor your resume to jobs. You don’t have to put everything you did on the resume- just the bits that directly match what’s in the description you’re applying for. Leave out the administrativey bits.

          I’d say go for an entry level position over going back to school- plenty of corporations will pay for that masters degree after you’ve worked there for a bit and you’ll get a foot in the door.

    7. Pop*

      There’s a lot in this comment, so just to address one piece of it (because I’m sure you’ll get a lot of responses): truly, do not go back to school. You may have compelling reasons for getting a degree, which will cost money and time (loss of income aka more money), but they aren’t listed here. I have several friends that have very cool masters degree, lots of debt, and no additional job prospects.

    8. Somehow_I_Manage*

      Is the problem that you’re not qualified enough to secure an interview for the corporate positions you want? If that’s the case, I’d see you have two options: 1) Secure a non-admin internship and build qualifications or 2) Go back to school and build qualifications.

      With that in mind, if you go back to school, I think you’d need to target certificate or study programs that advance you towards the position you want. If you’re looking for a corporate position in marketing- a communications/marketing program makes sense. I’m not sure English or Public Admin align with your corporate career goals based on what you’ve told us.

    9. The Prettiest Curse*

      If your current nonprofit works with any corporate sponsors or partners that seem like they would be a good fit, I’d suggest reaching out to your contacts there. When I was working in a large national nonprofit, staff would occasionally leave to work for a sponsor, so it can definitely be a potential path over to the corporate world.

    10. melbelle*

      I would recommend not going to grad school as an alternative to work, unless you qualify for financial support – it’s not a ticket to better jobs, and can actually hold you back in some cases.

      I would look for companies that tout their sense of mission, or even would put you working closely with their corporate charity arm. It may be easier to pitch yourself as the right candidate that way.

      Seconding other commenter’s advice to work your network. Talk to people you know from nonprofits who have gone corporate; ask to look at their resumes and cover letters.

      Since your most recent job experience isn’t a great example of the kind of work you can do, try bumping it down your resume (especially if you have many years of work history)–list the jobs in order of most relevant to least relevant. For accomplishments, think of it less as getting a grade or award, and instead think of it as “listing numbers.” Increased production of X by Y percent; Managed 10-15 teapot production lines simultaneously; Provided excellent customer service while teapot organization grew 500% year over year.

      Good luck!

    11. MPAgrad*

      Re: MPA: Some schools offer an online or mostly online degree, could be worth looking into whether they are well-respected and what their alumni network looks like. Talk to someone who has gone through one who is doing what you want to eo.

      On moving, don’t underestimate that for certain MPA programs you could be an interesting candidate given your working experience — my program at least had majority students right out of or a few years out of undergrad. If you can find a program where you’re a valuable candidate you may be eligible for funding that could make a move more feasible.

      All that said: don’t pay (much) for a master’s degree. It was worth it for me because I only ended up with about 20k in debt and don’t have other debt, and the degree + networking got me a job that doubled my salary, and I got to have some great experiences professional and personal (study abroad!) I wouldn’t have otherwise.

      Otherwise I echo New Mom: networking is the way to go.

    12. Llama Zoomer*

      SpiderladyCEO — you noted below that you would like to write full-time ultimately. If that’s the case, you may already know that a masters degree in English could mean a few different areas, broadly – literature/literary studies, composition/teaching writing, and creative or non-fiction writing. Each of those degrees serve super different purposes. Having worked with many graduate students over the years, I would not suggest either of the first two as options if you do not plan to teach literature or writing (which usually also require a doctoral degree to be competitive). An MFA is a whole different story. It’s not my field, but I’ve heard there are only a handful of programs in the country that would make this a worthy investment as far as preparing you for an actual career as a full-time writer. All that said, there are probably tons of non-academic options to get more experience writing, if that is the goal. I would not spend your time, efforts, and cash on a credential that may not give you the experience you would like/need.

      1. Samwise*

        And the job market for teaching lit and/or writing at the college or university level suuuuuuccckkkkks. Not the way to a comfortable or guaranteed income. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can start as an adjunct and get hired into a full time tenure track position. It’s not true. The number of t-t positions has been shrinking for decades and it’s grim.

        Ethical graduate schools spend time working with their doctoral students on career paths outside academia. If you do decide to go to grad school, ask directly about career assistance for students who want to go into academia and for students who do not want to go into academia, what kinds of jobs are their graduates getting, what kinds of starting salaries are their graduates earning and so on.

        Same for MFA programs — interview them to see not just what it takes to get in and what the training is like, but what do their graduates go on to do etc. If they’re a program where graduates get publishing contracts, they will be delighted to tell you. Don’t be shy about asking.

        1. Magda*

          I was shocked when I came to speak to MFA students recently – they knew almost *nothing* about the publishing world, like less than the average person with an active twitter account who follows #amquerying or something. They didn’t know know what an advance was. This is a well respected program.

      2. Redaktorin*

        Hi, I went to one of the schools in this handful of programs, and nobody I know is a full-time writer. Nobody who ever graduated is a full-time writer. Nobody I have ever met who went to arguably the top three most successful programs in the world is a full-time writer. The economy doesn’t work that way anymore. You have to become a professor or freelance instructor/editor about 99.9% of the time. Whatever your current job prospects are, those of my classmates still trying to write full-time are worse. Do not do this.

    13. Cinna*

      If you don’t have achievements listed on your resume, that’s a big problem and one you can fix pretty easily. Alison has lots of posts here about how to do this effectively when you don’t have easily measurable accomplishments – I strongly recommend checking them out and getting those on to your resume ASAP. This will let you demonstrate that you actually are qualified and capable, rather than trying to simply state it in your cover letter without supporting evidence. If you keep getting told to do this, it is likely that this is a significant issue that is holding you back.

    14. Cookie*

      Speaking as someone who pursued a master’s in English and has been locked into the admin track ever since, don’t do it. It’s fun, it’s engaging, don’t do it. Look for an online MPA program if that will get you where you need to go.

      1. fish*

        I don’t think those online MPA programs do that, though. In mine, nearly everyone was already firmly working in government, often at a mid-to-high level, and just wanted an extra bump. The few students who were hoping to break into the field – I don’t think they did – they were not getting the skills.

        A full-time one from a prestigious university might be worth it, but an online one is just garbage.

        1. fish*

          And the full-time prestigious ones are usually more Master’s of Public Policy, not Public Administration.

          1. M*

            Prestigious universities usually have multiple programs including an MPA and MPP degree (or similar). Usually one is for mid-career professionals and the other is for those with 2+ years of work experience.

            Princeton SPIA and Yale Jackson graduate policy degrees are fully funded. Also, Princeton SPIA gives a living stipend to all of their MPA, MPP, and PhD admitted students who enroll. There are many other programs including online and part-time, but I think it is important to try and come out with little debt.

    15. SpiderLadyCEO*

      Seriously, much thanks to everyone who has commented, you are helping me work through a big mess.

      1. BadCultureFit*

        I’m a little late to this, but wanted to share. I’m a communications exec as well as a traditionally-published author. Being successful in one has very little to do with success in the other (other than being able to note that I’m excellent at deadlines and, obviously, a strong overall writer).

        If you want to write fiction, write fiction — but do it at nights and weekends as you work a FT job to pay your bills. I have 4 award-winning books out and I promise it doesn’t pay the bills. It’s nice fun money, but it’s not liveable money unless you have a spouse handling insurance and all that.

        If you want to work in communications, I think you can tailor your resume and cover letter to highlight your skills in that area and then apply to more lower-level comms roles. There are lots of them — comms coordinator, comms specialist, internal comms, employee comms, media relations, investor relations, social media comms, marketing comms, branding, etc. Lots of keywords to help you see what’s out there. (It’s a great, well-paying career!)

        Best of luck :)

    16. BRR*

      I’m not sure exactly what you mean by non-traditional job history but if it helps, some people list a relevant experience section on their resume than an other experience section for when older jobs have more applicable experience than recent jobs.

      Hopefully these posts help with the resume accomplishment part

    17. fish*

      To give some contrary advice: I have an MPA from one of those low-residency programs. It’s utter garbage and I would not be more likely to consider someone who had one. Indeed I was unimpressed with the academic field as a whole.

      An English degree, on the other hand, indicates to me that you care about writing and thinking and would be a good candidate for a comms job. You would have to do a little extra work to show the link to comms and convince me you understand what it’s about (like an internship).

      Tl;dr: Not everyone thinks like me, but as a hiring manager I’d be much more likely to hire someone with an English degree than an MPA unless the MPA were from a really famous program.

      1. fish*

        Also – to all the anti-humanities chatter out there – evidence is that humanities catch up and surpass STEM majors in earnings. And there are plenty of humanities majors in corporations, because the critical thinking skills are invaluable.

        Signed – a cranky STEM manager who is so tired of these new grads who can crank out techniques all day long but who have no idea how to interpret their results in the real world. My best employee is a dropout humanities major who taught themselves the technical side.

        1. WestsideStory*

          +100 to this. Being able to write reports that make sense of complex business processes is another avenue to corporate work besides marketing and copywriting.

        2. Cookie*

          I’ve been working for 40 years, I have two degrees in English, and I make peanuts. Maybe well-connected humanities majors do better, but if you aren’t coming from a network that helps you up, I wouldn’t advise counting on a humanities degree to make you an attractive candidate. I loved my degrees and really value what I learned, and I am the only one.

          Nobody is hiring writers, but marketers and UX designers who write do get jobs. If OP can stomach that, it’s a faster track to employability.

          1. Cookie*

            I meant to add: if you already have a portfolio documenting 7-10 years as a full-time professional writer, there are jobs, but a master’s in English is not an acceptable substitute, ask me how I know!

    18. Chilipepper Attitude*

      If none of the career-switching advice here works and you do go to school, look for an online MPA. I loved my all-online master’s (in a different but similar field). I enjoyed it more than my in-person master’s. Yes, I have two and use both in my current job.

      Good luck!

    19. lemon*

      You’ve gotten a lot of great advice already, so I’ll just add a couple of things I didn’t see mentioned elsewhere.

      – If your goal is to write fiction full-time, you don’t need a master’s degree to do that. Try finding a workshop to join, either online or in your local area. This’ll help you not only with your craft but also help build your network, which is the most valuable thing you get out of a master’s program anyway. For more tips, check out “The Portable MFA in Creative Writing” book.

      – You say you don’t have accomplishments to list on your resume, but I think it’s probably just a matter of how you’re framing things. I’d recommend looking up the the X by Y by Z formula, which is how Google recruiters recommend formatting your resume. Basically: “Accomplished X, as measured by Y, by doing Z.” For example, my first office job involved having to edit/format a lot of detailed technical specs which lived in a database meant for manufacturing engineers. It was a terribly boring task that I hated so much, so I figured out how to write some Excel macros to automate a lot of the work for me. So then I had on my resume: “Wrote and edited product copy and specifications [X] for 400+ new products a quarter [Y], by creating an automated Excel macro process [Z].” Maybe not the best description, but that was a long time ago, but hopefully you get the idea. If you do a Google, I’m sure you’ll find a ton of great examples.

      – You might want to take a look at your cover letter and make sure it’s telling the story you want it to tell. This can be an opportunity to highlight how what looks like admin experience is transferable to corporate communications work (or whatever you’re aiming towards). Allison has a lot of great resources on how to write effective cover letters.

      Good luck!

      1. Redaktorin*

        If your goal is to write fiction full-time, please know this is not any more realistic, even for people with genuine talent, than planning to act in Hollywood full-time, no matter what you read or where you go to school, and plan accordingly. Could you stand to write fiction AND teach freshman comp to undergrads to cobble together a living? Write fiction AND get paid by the hour to coach those who are often very untalented and problematic to improve their work? Write fiction AND quickly marry someone, anyone whose job gives you health insurance? Then feel free to get that MFA. (Your professors will be people who would never in a million years attempt to write fiction full-time.)

    20. Random Dice*

      Don’t get a graduate degree – get a professional certification. A lot cheaper but shows you actually care about the industry. And work on networking at professional orgs related to your industry.

  4. New Mom*

    I have an in-person job interview next week, eek! Since I’ve had two kids my body shape has changed and I don’t know how to dress myself. Does anyone have a brand recommendation for tall and curvy women?

    Also, I have very long hair, is a ponytail okay? Should I do a bun? I feel like buns make me look frumpy but ponytails seem not professional enough? Would love advice, I’m so rusty, and I’m very excited.

    It’s a business casual workplace.

    1. Emmie*

      Chicos and Lane Bryant, depending upon how curvy you are.

      A ponytail would be too casual in my work environment, but you know this one better than I do. A bun with some teased roots to give it volume could look more put together than frumpy.

      Good luck!

    2. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      I love a high-volume bun for work. It keeps my hair out of my face but still looks cute and professional. Search “bun donut” and “bun form” for tools you can use to add volume and make it easier to achieve the look you want. Good luck on the interview!

    3. Lyudie*

      I think a sleek, low ponytail would be fine. Run a little gel or a light spritz of hair spray over your hair if needed to keep flyaways down. A high ponytail might read a little casual. If you could use a nice clip or sticks in the bun, that might make it seem less severe. I don’t have thick enough hair to do an actual bun so I don’t have many suggestions there, but some kind of simply hair accessory would go a long way I think.

      1. Robin Ellacott*

        I wear my hair in a low pony tail every work day, and apart from people getting very excited if I ever show up with loose hair, it’s never been an issue. I work a senior management office job where I do need to present professionally. The longest it’s been is mid-back, though, so if your hair is so very long it’s hard to keep tidy at the end of the pony you could always try a sleek braid?

        1. Chauncy Gardener*

          I do a low ponytail every day and am also a senior manager. And people also get very excited if I ever wear it down!

    4. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      I’m a tal woman, and although my ability and desire to buy nicer clothes keeps increasing, I keep ending up with Old Navy stuff because of their tall sizes! I’m not sure how the fit is at larger sizes, but for me in straight sizes, it’s often better than my other options. Everywhere else makes it so hard for me to give them my money!

      1. New Mom*

        I could look into it, I wonder if they have black slacks. I’m 5’10 and I remember back in the day I was way too tall for Old Navy stuff but if they have a tall line maybe it’ll work now.

        1. Robin Ellacott*

          I’m 5’11” with a 36″ inseam, and Old Navy’s Tall jeans/pants are often long enough, but it’s a bit hit and miss because I can’t get that size in store and have to order online. I assume they cut their fabric in a stack because there seems to be variation within the size and style.

          My guess is that if you’re a 34″ inseam you might fare better with that issue, but I can’t speak to the fit for curvy bodies because I am almost entirely hipless and buttless.

          1. Robin Ellacott*

            I meant to add – check the inseam for that particular pant in the fit guide, because it varies with the style.

          2. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

            36″! That sounds so hard to shop for! I’m 5’10 and mostly leg, but I don’t think that much leg.

            Quality control is not great at ON so there’s a lot of size variation between and within styles, and I also have to order it all online, but it’s easy to take back to the store (note: max of 30 days on returns now!). I’ve seen tall stuff on their racks, so I do think they rerack returns, and don’t just throw them away like some retailers. They also don’t have all sizes in tall, which is annoying.

            I keep seeing ads for a store called American Tall, but I’m too lazy to organize cross-border returns, so I haven’t tried anything yet – but it looks promising!

            1. Robin Ellacott*

              I have weird proportions – unusually long thighs but a shortish waist.

              And yes, ON is weird. Their Pixie pants never fit me, and when they come close it’s a 10 that fits instead of a 6 in jeans (???).

              I actually would be happy to pay more and get more quality (when that actually overlaps) but so few places have tall sizes that don’t look frumpy to me. I had some luck with Aritzia’s paper-bag pants, but they are loose leg and a very specific look. I’ve nto hear of American Tall (I’m in Canada) but may google it.

        2. specialK*

          I’m not sure what your budget is but I just splurged on a pair of Spanx The Perfect Pants and they are truly amazing for tall people with larger tummies. If you sign up for email/texts you can get 10% off. I have never spent $135 on a single pair of pants in my life but they are worth it! They do run a bit tight so if you are between sizes, go up.

    5. kjack*

      Depending on how curvy you’re talking, Torrid is my go-to. Target also has a fairly decent collection of business casual pieces with extended sizes (check their Ava and Viv section in particular).

      I have to say, I’ve been a hiring manager for literally hundreds of positions over the last decade or so in environments that ranged from business (law office) to casual (political campaign) and I’ve never even considered hairstyle in my opinion of someone (with the exception where it was vastly out of place with the work environment – think mohawk or brightly-dyed undercut at a law firm, that sort of thing), so I think you’re fine with either a ponytail or bun for a business casual setting.

      1. New Mom*

        Are there in person places to buy Torrid or is it only online. I’ve never successfully bought a pair of pants online, and usually when I go to a store I have to try like 20+ pants on (all in my size) before finding a pair I like. I’ve heard good things about Torrid but I have only seen it online.

        1. new year, new name*

          There’s definitely in-person stores! I’m a smallish person but my wife is very tall and wears plus sizes, so I go with her to Torrid occasionally. I always enjoy it! At least at the one at our mall, there’s this kinda low-pressure, cheerful, queer-friendly vibe that I really like (especially as the person who is standing around watching their partner try on stuff, LOL).

    6. Bagpuss*

      I think a ponytail that’s at your hairline rather than towards the top of your head is fine, or a single plaint / braid at the back also works. (I have very heavy hair and buns are impossible, I always wear either a ponytail or plait. I’ve never considered either to present as unprofessional!)

    7. merida*

      Hello, congrats on your interview! A ponytail is totally ok for a job interview. I don’t think there’s any unwritten rule about a ponytail or bun being more or less professional than the other – my advice would be to do what you feel most comfortable in and will feel less self-conscious in so you won’t feel distracted. As long as it looks like you’ve put thought into your appearance (you didn’t roll out of bed and into the car without looking in the mirror) and are wearing something appropriate for your industry, the exact details of what you’re wearing/how your hair looks doesn’t matter.

      I’m not a hiring manager but I’ve interviewed people along side my boss many times, and I can tell you not once did we discuss someone’s appearance/clothing when we went to make the hiring decision. And it’s actually really funny – several times, the person we ended up hiring would confide on me once they started on the team that they thought they bombed the interview or thought they were too dressed down or were too nervous, etc, when I thought nothing of the sort and we hired them! I think that really shows we do better than we give ourselves credit for. That’s been encouraging to me, and I hope it is to you too! You got this.

    8. RagingADHD*

      The nicest budget-friendly work attire I’ve seen recently for my tall, curvy self was at Old Navy and H&M. I haven’t shopped workwear at H&M this year/season, but last fall they had some very classy mix and match suit separates and they had their plus sizes mainstreamed in with the regular sizes.

      I love the way Lane Bryant stuff looks on the mannequin, but IME it doesn’t fit nicely if you carry your weight in anything but a perfect hourglass.

      1. New Mom*

        Hmm, I used to be a slim hourglass but now I’m much heavier in the midsection. I feel like since I’m so tall and have a larger midsection, if I wear anything that is loose it makes me look significantly bigger than I am. I honestly feel like the shape change is more annoying than the actual weight difference because I’m really clueless on how to flatter my new shape. I at least knew what looked good, what did a good job at accentuating or concealing before but now I don’t.

        1. RagingADHD*

          I used to be a pear, but lost my waist with kids and never quite got it back, thereby becoming more of an apple. IME there are two main categories of professional silhouette that look sharp on my shape. Different mixes of structured and soft:

          1) Straight leg or bootcut slacks that come up high enough to avoid muffin top, and a structured jacket, with either a flowy blouse that is tucked just at the front waist (I believe it’s called French tuck?) or a snug knit shell / camisole type top.

          2) A tailored or bodycon sheath dress with a soft overlayer, like a flowy / unstructured or A-line jacket or cardigan. I’ll usually pair that with knee boots for business casual.

        2. Siege*

          You may want to do some fit and style research – I’m guessing there’d be good results for a basic “what to wear for X body shape” search. My personal opinion, as someone tall and curvy with a belly, is that I am most comfortable with:
          1. a line that goes at least to my hips because I’m short-waisted and otherwise I look like my hips have been glued to my bust;
          2. an open jacket or blazer – deemphasizes the belly bulge;
          3. a pant or a dress that doesn’t emphasize how much fabric it adds in the belly by using front-waist pleats.

          There are exceptions to the rule – for example, I’m more comfortable with leggings and really dislike the look of my body in jeans; not sure if that’s because the structured pant emphasizes the belly bulge or if the increased mobility of stretch fabric makes up for the shape, but you can’t wear leggings to most job interviews, so that’s a moot point!

          And your feeling on anything loose is correct. You don’t want it to be super overly structured (please do not wear a bandage dress to a job interview) but anything that’s loose and flowy, particularly if it’s an a-line or high-waisted shape, is going to look too casual for a job interview.

          My go-tos are Lane Bryant, Torrid, and Target. I find Torrid’s pants are too short for me, though I generally don’t wear a tall inseam, and gave up on them years ago. If the office is business casual, I would probably do something like a basic pant, a swing tank or a longer top (looser, without being a thousand yards of fabric flapping around, but not a full-length tunic), and a structured jacket or blazer. If it is formal business, I wouldn’t apply, so I have no advice. :)

    9. Sloanicota*

      I have long hair and sometimes I find a braid to be a nice compromise between ponytail and bun. I might do a french braid and then tuck the end under if I had time.

    10. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      The suggestions in the thread are already good ones but I’ve found that Eloquii’s workwear has the most tailored look for me without actually requiring tailoring, but your mileage may vary.

      As for hairstyle, a pony or a bun are both completely work appropriate and professional, but a higher pony is probably a little sleeker and more put together. I don’t think the margins of difference are enough to matter, but if you would feel better with a really sophisticated look, I would go higher.

      I’m not sure what about the bun concerns you, but I don’t like the way a bun looks with the roundness of my face, so I usually do a looser chignon with face framing strands pulled free and I use a texturizing spray to make sure there’s some volume. It’s still sophisticated, but it’s not as severe as a tight bun.

      1. sheepy*

        Seconding Eloquii! Their pants work very well for an occasion, though the bust is often a bit big on me. I will say that for the price, the pilling on the fabric after a few wears has been disappointing. Alas.

        Wild Fang might be good for suits, but I only have one of their button-downs so I can’t confirm.

      2. Random Dice*

        I definitely think of a high pony as a teenager girl style, not a professional woman style. Low pony or just loose would be my vote.

    11. NaoNao*

      I would say a *low* bun, very sleek and shiny, at the nape of the neck, is the way to go here. You could also do a medium-high pony *if* you can use one of those metal “napkin ring” style holders, the hair is super-shiny and in perfect condition, and you either have bangs or your hairline at forehead is perfectly “laid” with no frizzies or baby hairs. The other option is to do very controlled curling-iron waves but if that’s not a style you’re used to doing it can take some time to make it look sleek.

      MM Lafleur goes up to an 16 in Missy and has up to 2X in Plus, they’re the gold standard for chic, sleek, functional work wear.

      Ann Taylor goes up to 18 on the website. I’d also try Talbots, Marina Rinaldi if you have $$$ to spare, Vince, Lafayette 148, Eliza J., and H&M goes up to 2x for low-priced limited-wear basics.

      1. Random Dice*

        This is way more strict and exacting than I’d ever notice, and I’m a hiring manager.

        I’d also point out that policing female hair like this (with sleek/straight/white as good and curly/frizzy/voluminous/ethnic as bad) has problematic roots in racism – not that any of us invented these rules, but we can and should see where they came from and refuse to stop playing.

    12. Random Bystander*

      When I wore my hair longer, I used to wear an inverted ponytail. Somehow, it seemed to have a more polished look to it (and honestly took only about a minute longer than a normal ponytail).

      1. Robin Ellacott*

        I do that too sometimes! Remember the little loop tool they used to sell for that? Or maybe I’m just old, ha.

        1. Random Bystander*

          I do remember seeing ads for that on TV–I didn’t buy one, I usually just used a rat-tail comb to get the hole started.

    13. Binky*

      Good luck! I’m not tall enough to give you good clothing recommendations. However, I have longish hair and I go for low ponies for interviews, so my hair is wrangled off my face, but there’s no informality.

    14. Retail is Detail*

      All the replies are great! I agree that a low, sleek ponytail looks put-together and professional. As Hiring Manager for 10 years, I only noticed hairstyle if a.) the candidate was DISHEVELED overall and their hair was a MESS, or b.) they played with their hair (so distracting!) during the interview. Best of luck on your interview!

    15. Bright Pepper*

      Depending on how long you mean by very long, a twisted ponytail might work? Basically, put your hair in a ponytail, then twist until it starts to twist in half on itself, then wrap the end around the base of the ponytail/hair tie, tuck in with some pins. Hair’s up, you can style the front that frames your face like you usually do a ponytail, looks neat and tidy but interesting and definitely not frumpy.

    16. Seeking Second Childhood*

      If you have super long hair like I used to, try a long braid down the back. Side benefit in case someone’s squicked out by loose hairs, the braid mostly eliminates shedding. .

    17. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have waist-length Merida hair and go with a nautilus bun – not only does it look nice and keep my hair contained, but the style also makes for a wider flatter bun which spreads the weight of my hair out and means I’m less likely to get a headache from it.

    18. theletter*

      If it’s business casual and the role isn’t relationship oriented, you could probably do a mid-length dress with sleeves in a neutral color/print.

      If you go the dress/skirt option, and it’s hot, you can skip the panty hose and get a set of those jockey/maiden form slip/biker short pants for comfort. I never wear a skirt without them!

    19. Salty Secretary*

      I have no idea how business adults dress so I’m not qualified there (I should probably read the notes and learn) but I do have very long hair that doesn’t do “sleek”

      For interviews I generally do a braids either in a crown around my head or pinned up into something bun-like. I could do a single braid, but I tend to have escapees. Most days at work I have two braids in the crown, twin french braids or regular braids, or lately I’m experimenting with pinning it into two coils (still braided).

    20. Not that kind of doctor*

      Really I think your hairstyle should be whatever makes you feel confident. FWIW, I have pretty long hair (to the small of my back) that’s too heavy for a bun and gets too frizzy in a ponytail. As an alternative to those, I think a braid, especially a French braid, reads nicely.

      Personally, I’m a big fan of half-up/half-down for my hair for interviews because it keeps it out of my face but looks less severe than a bun or braid. I either use a nice hair clamp/claw/butterfly clip or just braid the top portion of my hair and let friction hold it back. I have a friend with long, thick hair who uses those little combs to hold back the part that would fall in her face. Good luck!

      1. workswitholdstuff*

        That’s my go-to hair style too for ‘events where I need to look like I’ve made an effort’. My hair is small of back length too, super fine but tons of it, and it just won’t stay neat in a ponytail

        Normally, it’s a nice barratte for those too. I clip my hair out of the way for days when I need to be a bit more practical. Or it’s hot and I want it off my neck!)

        Or, when I’m having to dress as Queen Victoria for work…

        (and for that, I do my ‘half up, half down with a barratte, then plait all the hair underneath (including the half up ponytails, secure with a hair tie, then twist up, get a crochet bun cover that hooks over the barratte, and tuck the plait in that.

        Neat, contained, I find it spreads the weight of the bun for me, and you can get some nice bun covers (for QV, I often use one with ‘fake pearls’ woven into it)

    21. Random Dice*

      I’m 6′ tall, plus size (2x / 20 US).

      My go-to is a Ralph Lauren ruched sheath dress from eBay with a cowl drape neckline, either sleeveless or with elbow length sleeves, in a solid color. They’re pricey new, but on eBay you can find them for a good price, and they last.

      I like Talbots blazers, or just a short cardigan made to wear with dresses (Target’s A New Day fine ribbed button front cardigan).

    22. workswitholdstuff*

      Can’t help with the clothes recs – I’m curvy, but a complete short arse, so I have different issues in finding stuff that fit (that said, Popsy Dresses are a revelation, and I live in them now – the midi length might work for you? They have low key prints as well s wackier ones).

      Hair though – I have very long, very fine silky hair, so any kind of an updo is generally a losing battle, but it is in very good condition (another reason it won’t stay up!)

      My go-to for interviews was half up, half down – it keeps the length off my face, but the hair (one of my features I like) visible but controlled. I just use a nice barrette to clip it back rather than a hair bobble

    23. Silence*

      There are casual ponytails and professional ones. I saw a YouTube vid for a ‘simple 5 min ponytail ‘ that included back combing, fancy clips, and things to add volume. You could do a search for similar tutorials.

    24. Quandong*

      I highly recommend checking out Universal Standard for clothes, they have a fantastic size range and show how the clothing looks on differently sized models. All the best for your interview next week!

  5. All Aboard*

    Hi all. I’m looking for some podcast recommendations since I now take public transportation into work. The only podcasts I currently subscribe to are Boring Books at Bedtime and Nothing Much Happens, so those won’t work.

    Usually, there are enough Apple News audio articles that take care of my round trip for the day (thank you New Yorker and Atlantic). When there isn’t anything that catches my attention, I occasionally listen to the Moth. In my podcast research most of the top podcasts revolve around true crime, sports, or parenting and none of those interest or apply to me. I’m into cars, but many of the podcasts I’ve heard the hosts act like juvenile teenagers (belching on air for example). I’d be interested in mens lifestyle ones, but those seem to be dominated by the likes of Rogan, Tate, and others that share similar opinions/misleading information that have me angrily hitting the back button after a few minutes.

    I realize this is getting super specific, but based on all that, anyone have any recommendations?
    Thank you.

    1. SpiderLadyCEO*

      If you like news, I like Global News Podcast from BBC or PRI’s The World (the 40 minute version, not just latest stories.)

    2. Lyudie*

      If you like the Moth, you might like This American Life as well. It’s a more structured format but has a lot of the slice-of-life stories like the Moth.

      1. All Aboard*

        Thank you for responding. Do they still do new episodes of This American Life? I thought they stopped it. I know they had a short run of it on Showtime, and maybe that’s what I’m thinking of.

        This would be moot if Alison restarted her podcast (hint, hint) :)

        1. Lyudie*

          Not sure, honestly! I haven’t listened in a while. The last time I checked though, they had the whole run available to download so there is a good backlog at least.

          1. linger*

            Yep, TAL is still averaging 20-25 new episodes a year (interspersed with reruns). For some years now, episodes have been available as MP3 downloads until a month after broadcast, then by streaming only.

            If you’re looking for new podcasts, you could try:
            99 Percent Invisible (topics loosely connected to engineering and design);
            This Podcast Will Kill You (on deadly diseases);
            All Killer No Filler (on murderers);
            No Such Thing As A Fish (interesting facts from the QI research team);
            and a host of BBC Radio 4 series available as podcasts, including:
            science and health — Infinite Monkey Cage; Inside Science; Inside Health;
            statistics — More Or Less;
            comedy and current affairs — Comedy of the Week; Friday Night Comedy (e.g. The News Quiz/The Now Show);
            history — You’re Dead To Me.
            Most of these titles have their entire archives still available as MP3 downloads, which means you’ll never run out of listening material.

        2. Reba*

          This American Life is really a radio show — it was only a TV show for a brief time :)

          There are quite a few great journalistic or non fiction podcasts that are not ongoing shows, but like limited series. Some I have liked are:
          Nice White Parents
          The Dream
          Believed (content note this is about sexual assault)

          Regular/ongoing podcasts I love to recommend are:
          Throughline (history)
          Ologies (interviews with scientists)
          The Sporkful (food)
          Death Sex and Money (poignant/interesting life stuff — sometimes interviews with notable people, often just regular folks going through it)

          if you like interviews there is always the Terry Gross back catalog.

    3. OneTwoThree*

      Here are some of my favorites you might be interested in: Vege (Tech), Stuff you Should Know, BiggerPockets Money Podcast, and Dear Hank and John.

      1. Robin Ellacott*

        Stuff You Should Know is especially useful for filling time because it has short episodes too. I often listen to it before work and depending on how much time I have, I can choose a 15 minute or a 45 minute episode, for example. And there is a HUGE backlist.

        Seconding You’re Wrong About… it’s always both funny and informative.

        You could always check out audio books too, if you want something longer.

    4. Keener*

      One of my favourite podcasts is 99% Invisible. If you’re interested in learning about all sorts of random topics (presented in a very accessible and engaging way) I’d also suggest Ologies.

      1. All Aboard*

        Thank you for replying. I’ll need to check that out. What I love about Apple News + is that I can listen to articles from news sources I would never check out on my own. I just listened to one in Elle about one of the Turpin children that was great. So 99% Invisible sounds perfect!!!

      2. And I'm the alchemist of the hinterlands*

        Yes, 99% is fantastic! I will also recommend Hidden Brain, Snap Judgement, Freakonomics, and Office Ladies if you happen to be am Office Fan

    5. Gracely*

      NPR has a bunch of different podcasts. I’m a fan of Pop Culture Happy Hour, Short Wave, Throughline, and Rough Translation. You might also be interested in Life Kit or Wisdom From the Top.

      1. Marmalade*

        Wait wait don’t tell me – now I save them up for long car rides when music gets old, but I used to listen to it on my Monday morning commute.

    6. SereneScientist*

      Seconding the recs for This American Life and 99% Invisible. Usually great storytelling and covers a big variety of topics too.

    7. Chidi has a stomach ache*

      If you like interview/conversation format without the misinformation, I listen to Conan Needs a Friend — it’s very much grounded in Conan’s humor style, though, so ymmv on that.

      I also really like It’s Been a Minute (NPR) and Into It (Vulture) for podcasts that tackle current events from different cultural angles – usually episodes run 30-45 min. You may not be into every topic they take on (I often skip episodes) but their range is wide enough that there might be a few to put in your queue.

    8. Snoopy Clifton*

      Some of my favorites:
      99% Invisible
      This American Life
      Articles of Interest

      Can’t wait to read the suggestions of others, so I can add to my list!

    9. A Simple Narwhal*

      You should check out “If Books Could Kill”! It’s a new podcast but I’ve really enjoyed it so far. I’m a big fan of one of the hosts, Michael Hobbes, and I enjoy his other podcasts “You’re Wrong About” (which he is no longer on but that’s relatively recent and while the new show format is slightly different it’s still pretty good, and his dozens of old episodes are still available and awesome) and “Maintenance Phase”, so it’s worth looking into those as well if you end up liking him.

      I like the other host, Peter Shamshiri, as well but I wasn’t aware of him/his work until this podcast. He has another podcast, 5-4, so if you listen to If Books Could Kill and like the hosts, there are three other podcasts you could explore as well.

      Another unrelated podcast I really like is “Noble Blood”, which explores historical figures, both well known and obscure. It’s fascinating to learn about forgotten players of history or unknown sides of known people, all presented in an easy-to-listen to, unbiased way.

      1. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

        Seconding the You’re Wrong About’ universe podcasts!! I love them so much I’ve listened to almost all of them twice.

        I really recommend the older You’re Wrong About’ podcasts – I’d start by finding a topic that interests you, like maybe the Ford Pinto one, or the Challenger one (lol spaceships are like cars right?). All Maintenance Phase and If Books eps are great.

        My colleagues were racing about Dax Sheppard’s podcast and Marc Maron’s podcast last night. These aren’t my style, but since you mentioned lifestyle, perhaps their yours?

        1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

          Seconding these suggestions!! 5-4, If Books Could Kill, Maintenance Phase, and You’re Wrong About are all my most immediate listens.

      2. The Prettiest Curse*

        Ha, I just recommended the same podcast further down this comment thread. I like You’re Wrong About too, though it does include some true crime-themed episodes (that usually debunk the original media coverage.)

    10. Madame X*

      I listen to a lot of different podcasts depending on my mood. Here are a few of them:

      Pop Culture Podcasts: Tom & Lorenzo’s Pop Style Opinionfest, Keep It, They Call Us Bruce, Hi Jinkx!

      Science Podcasts: Sawbones, Maintenance Phase

      Fashion Podcasts: Dressed the History of Fashion

      Financial Podcasts: The Financial Confessions, So Money with Farnoosh Torah

      Just Interesting Stuff: This is Good For You, 99% Invisible, You Must Remember This

    11. SpeckledBeagle*

      I am a constant podcast listener. Here are some faves:

      Dear Shandy: relationship advice, and they also cover the bachelor (one of the hosts was a former constrstant on the show). You can skip the latter episodes tho; most of their shows are basically a relationship advice Column in audio form.

      That Pretentious Bookclub: they read a different book and cover it on their podcast each episode. They alrernate between a “classic” and “newer” book each episode. Obviously spoilers for the books, but they have a decent backlog so there are likely books people have already read on there if you want to give it a try.

    12. JitzGirl11*

      I enjoy Make Me Smart by Marketplace and Start Here by ABC News to keep me up-to-date on the news. I was late to the party, but I recently discovered Stuff You Should Know and really like that as well.

    13. Not my real name*

      Seconding the recommendation for Sawbones. Other podcasts I listen to are Judge John Hodgman (low stakes conflicts resolved by generally reasonable people) and Let’s Learn Everything (very sciency)

      1. ShysterB*

        Seconding Judge John Hodgman. The docket-clearing episodes are really good for times when you have less than an hour to listen — easy to pick up days later.

    14. Zephy*

      If you’re open to comedy, any of the McElroy Family podcasts are a nice way to pass 30-60 minutes – check out (that’s the website) for more info.

      There’s also a lot of good fiction podcasts out there. I like horror fiction so I’m a fan of Old Gods of Appalachia, but I started with Welcome to Night Vale which is still going (though I haven’t listened in a while, too many other good shows).

      Ridiculous History and its extended-universe shows Ridiculous Crime and Ridiculous Romance are very good – mostly covering historical trivia/lesser-known stories from the past. Crime focuses on crimes that aren’t murder or assault – “capers, heists, and cons” is in their tagline – and Romance focuses on the relationships of notable historical figures.

      1. Not my real name*

        There’s a great horror role play podcast – Pretending to Be People. I usually describe it as Reno 911 meets the X Files.

    15. Falling Diphthong*

      I always recommend two:
      • You’re Dead To Me, history podcast from the BBC with one historian and one comedian. Always very informative.

      • Terrible Lizards, about dinosaurs. Because dinosaurs. My favorite episode is the listener questions one at the end of each season.

    16. The Prettiest Curse*

      My current favourite is If Books Could Kill, which hilariously debunks bestselling non- fiction books.
      Slate and The Guardian have a ton of good podcasts too – their daily news podcasts (What Next and Today in Focus respectively) are both well worth a listen and you can dip in and out depending on which episode topics appeal to you.

    17. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      I don’t have anything about cars or men’s lifestyle, but if you like reading I’d suggest Overdue, a podcast about the books you’ve been meaning to read. You may also enjoy No Such Thing As A Fish, which is a trivia/comedy podcast.

    18. steliafidelis*

      LeVar Burton Reads is great, especially if you have fond memories of Reading Rainbow–LeVar Burton briefly introduces, then reads, in full, a short story. Has quite an archive at this point.

      I also greatly enjoy Well There’s Your Problem; they usually open with a section on the news, then talk about some sort of engineering disaster and (usually) how human error caused it. They have a pretty strong leftist bent.

      You might also look into fiction podcasts! There are some really excellent ones out there

    19. melbelle*

      In Our Time! A BBC Radio production, it’s been around for decades so there’s a huge backlog of topics. The host (an ancient British man) interviews three academics about the topic of the day (anything from Gilgamesh to the Irish Potato Famine to Superconductivity).

      It, uh, can get kind of dull and is perfect for long car rides or flights (so you can sort-of-sleep while listening). But it’s fascinating stuff.

      1. KathyG*

        I came here specifically to recommend In Our Time as well! Each episode is about 45 minutes. Their archive is so huge that there’s something for everyone. They really seem to hit the right balance between breadth & depth.

      2. twenty points for the copier*

        I have pretty much trained myself pavlov-style to fall asleep to In Our Time. On the rare occasions it doesn’t immediately put me to sleep, I learn some really interesting stuff.

    20. DistantAudacity*

      The Rest Is Politics is really interesting!

      It is UK-centric, but they make a Point of discussing things around the world. The hosts are Alistair Cambell (Labour, former Bigwig in Tony Blair’s government among other things) and Rory Stewart (Tory, former MP, minister).

      1. Lady Alys*

        And they have a new sub-podcast (not sure what to call it, it’s under the “The Rest is Politics” banner but sort of separate) called, I think, “Leading” and Bernie Sanders is the next guest on their list. The interview with Michael Heseltine was interesting too.

        1. DistantAudacity*

          Yes – I listened to their interview with Helen Clark, the former New Zealand PM; that was really good. This was from before they spun the interviews off to a separate podcast.

    21. Isben Takes Tea*

      A longtime favorite is “Twenty Thousand Hertz,” which does 25-40 minute episodes on the stories behind famous or interesting sounds (like the Wilhelm Scream, Star Wars sound effects, the Netflix soundmark, the NBC chimes, etc.) and they are fascinating. It’s very well produced and I always learn interesting tidbits that have made me appreciate all sorts of sound-related encounters in new ways.

    22. Anxious Autistic*

      If you’re interested in listening to stories, LeVar Burton Reads is fantastic. There are also plenty of long-form narrative podcasts, such as the Magnus Archives, Old Gods of Appalachia, Myths and Legends, to name a few. The Pulse is also great, though it is broadly science oriented, it is very good at breaking down a massive range of information in interested and accessible ways.

    23. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

      Hidden Brain – deals with human behavior. The topics are interesting and highly relatable. And the host Shankar is really an excellent interviewer.

      Darknet Diaries – deals with IT and cybersecurity, but you definitely don’t need to work in the field to follow along. My favorite episodes are the ones where penetration testers and social engineers tell some of their stories – lots of derring do. “Guild of the Grumpy Old Hackers”, “The Beirut Bank Job”, and “The Courthouse” are entertaining ones to start with.

      1. lemon*

        I second Hidden Brain!

        Also check out The Memory Palace for poignant, historical storytelling with a touch of whimsy.

    24. SaraK*

      Stuff the British Stole is great. Every episode is about a museum object (not necessarily in British museums either) and the usually weird way it came to be there. Lots of fascinating details about the object as well. It’s become a TV show now too. The host has a bunch of other podcasts including “Download this Show (tech life), and “It Burns” about the hottest chili pepper ever.

  6. AnotherSarah*

    A couple of years ago, my state instituted a benefit program that every W-2 employee pays into, as do businesses with a certain number of employees. At the time, how this program worked was a bit unclear, but there were lots of info sessions for people who wanted to use it and also for HR.

    My company’s HR told a friend of mine she wasn’t eligible, so she didn’t apply. But she was eligible–and would have received about 16k (pre-tax) had she applied. Does anyone have a sense of whether there’s recourse for her? Our HR is an absolute disaster but 16k seems like enough money to put in some effort for….

    (I’m now applying for the same benefit and so this is on my mind–and I’d like HR to have to figure out their stuff.)

    1. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      Friend needs to talk to an employment lawyer to see if there’s any recourse. It will likely depend on what the HR rep’s actual level of duty was here, vs the employee’s duty for due diligence. Also what state is this lol I want to apply

      1. AnotherSarah*

        Yeah…my guess is that HR advice isn’t binding and she just should have tried her luck. Sigh. This is WA, paid parental leave.

    2. benefits admin*

      A lot of regulated benefit programs have a process to handle things like this. Has your friend tried contacting the entity that administers the benefit? I saw below that you identified the state and program so I just did a quick google. Looks like that program works with a third party Ombuds. They also might be able to help.

    3. Chauncy Gardener*

      We have the same kind of program in Massachusetts. Here, the employee applies directly to the state. Your friend may want to contact the relevant office in your state government.

  7. Rainy Day*

    Content Warning: Mass shooting and emergency drills

    I’ve worked at a college for two years, administrative assistant to a Dean. Twice a semester (so 4 times a year), we have emergency drills. They can be fire, tornado, bomb, or shooter. Though it’s supposed to be random, it’s been a shooter drill at least half of those instances. I lost someone I knew to a mass shooter several years, and have been dealing with anxiety for these types of situations since, with professional help.

    The first time the drill happened, even knowing in advance, I had a breakdown and had to ask my Dean to leave for the day in tears (she knows my history with this topic). She was very kind about it, didn’t even make me use my leave for it, and sent me info to our EAP. I’ve been fine since then knowing in advance it would happen and simply closing my door. But something I didn’t consider is that these were only done virtually due to Covid, meaning there was nothing to act out, you were just meant to talk over with your coworkers/students how you would act.

    This week, we had our first ‘active’ post-Covid drill, meaning we were meant to act it all out. I won’t go in to all the details, but basically there were public safety officers walking around with labels as the shooter, and they were “shooting” people, meaning they were telling them that they were shot. I did not encounter any of the officers because I immediately closed my door when the drill started, but my Dean and several coworkers who were standing in the hallway right next to our office did encounter one. When the drill ended, they came back, all laughing how they had been shot. I got upset, started crying, and had to ask to leave.

    Knowing that these drills will keep the active status of having fake shooters, I don’t think I can participate. How should I go about this? Do I just need to use my own leave to be out when a drill is planned? We’re a college with multiple locations and only one location is done at a time; could I ask my Dean for permission to work at a different campus when I know the drill is happening at my campus? Any thoughts would be appreciated.

    1. Mandie*

      I’m so sorry. I totally understand why this bothers you. The only suggestion I have is to ask your Dean or someone else in management to explain to your coworkers that it’s a sensitive topic for you, so at least they’ll take their joking somewhere else when the drills are over. I can’t imagine any reasonable human not having compassion for you and/or refusing to accommodate you. I like your plan of just closing your door during the drills – you’re still participating by practicing “shelter in place”, and it separates you from the general chaos.

      1. Gracely*

        I think this is a good suggestion. Because as upsetting as these drills can be, they’re unfortunately very necessary given the current state of our country’s approach to guns/mass shootings. Shutting/locking a door combined with turning off the lights is an actual good approach in these scenarios, so you’re still participating.

        It’s also worth remembering that some people cope with how scary it is by making jokes/gallows humor, because the laughing is the only thing keeping them from crying.

    2. And I'm the alchemist of the hinterlands*

      I’m so sorry this happened. Studies are showing there is very little proof that active shooter or similar drills work, and that they can cause more harm. Do you think the person in charge of this or your supervisor would be open to that feedback? Maybe show them an article like this one:

      I would ask about working from a different campus, and if that doesn’t fly, you should absolutely just stay home for your mental health.

    3. ENFP in Texas*

      I am so very sorry – I was a volunteer for an active shooter training exercise for one of our local school districts, and even knowing it was fake it was still very intense and unnerving.

      I think it would be totally appropriate and acceptable to ask your manager for permission to work at a different location on the days that drills are scheduled.

      1. Anecdata*

        FWIW — in my experience, which I wish I didn’t have but such is the world, any decent employer (and schools in particular) are willing to exempt from participation in these drills as an accommodation. Tell them you need to opt out.

    4. Mimmy*

      I don’t love that your coworkers are laughing about the drill afterwards, especially your dean. I believe that if drills aren’t taken seriously, you’re less likely to feel prepared for the real thing. Mandie has some good suggestions. I’ll just add that you might want to talk with your dean and remind her about your history. Since your door was closed, it may not have clicked that you could hear them. From what it sounds like, your dean has been very sensitive and will realize that they need to be more mindful.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Some people release stress this way, as a coping mechanism. It doesn’t mean they weren’t taking it seriously. It means their coping mechanism is incompatible with the OP’s.

        1. KayDeeAye*

          I agree. I mean, maybe they were being careless and thoughtless, but maybe humor is their way of decompressing after a stressful experience. It sometimes is for me!

        2. Mimmy*

          That’s fair. As connie points out below, people are entitled to their own feelings and responses. I still think it’s a good idea to err on the side of caution when around others because you don’t know who may’ve had a history similar to the OP and, thus, may not react well to the joking. At the very least, I think the Dean could’ve realized the OP could hear them and move the conversation away from her door (without divulging the OP’s situation of course).

          That all being said, I think an exemption from the drills is the more reasonable solution. It is good to be prepared, but not at the expense of your mental health.

    5. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      Also work in a Dean’s Office, and at my work you would totally be able to be excused from something like this! You shouldn’t feel badly at all about asking for this very very reasonable accomodation.

      I’m so sorry for your loss, and how living in this world right now must be retraumatizing over and over. Good luck with your healing process.

    6. Dark Macadamia*

      This is traumatizing and really poorly done! Active shooter drills aren’t actually an effective safety measure and more like just a ritual to reassure ourselves that we’re prepared for something beyond our control. I’ve never heard of having pretend shooters and people getting “shot” but it seems completely unnecessary – you don’t need to have “shooters” running around to demonstrate that you know a certain code word means lock your door (or whatever the procedure is).

      I would just inform your Dean that you can’t be there on drill days and ask how to proceed, but honestly if you can find some other people to help you push back on this, even if it’s just flooding the organizer with “can you please explain the trauma-informed research-backed basis for running the drills this way?” type emails, that might be good.

    7. Kindred_spirit*

      Next time, request advanced notice so you can call in sick, and go do something fun. I have been through a similar mass incident, and I can say with certainty that I would not be able to participate. While I’m doing well, the collateral damage of this kind of incident is it robs you of your innocence. You’ll never be able to “laugh” about the absurdity of something like this because for you, it’s not an abstract concept. Whenever I have to confront this, it makes me both angry and sad. I’m really really sorry you had to go through this.

    8. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      I’m really sorry this is happening to you. I’m the security officer for my department of municipal government and just did a security survey with our police department of all our sites and we were discussing how active shooter drills are really traumatizing and there’s no evidence that they’re particularly useful.

      From what I understand of academic structures, I’m not sure your Dean even has authority to put a stop to these drills altogether, but if you have the bandwidth to recommend it, there is data to back that up.

      More to the point, it is absolutely reasonable to ask for advanced warning and permission to be remote when a drill is planned and from your description I think your Dean will be very receptive.

    9. What She Said*

      You need to request an accommodation to opt out of training (and any official role during a live one). We have something similar when we have to watch the training videos of things like this. Management recognizes these are sensitive issues and not everyone can handle the trainings. So they usually give us options out of them.

    10. Rinn*

      I would not be able to participate in something like this. I feel kind of nervous just reading about it. I get caught up in play acting or pretend play, and it feels like it is actually happening, and this has been the case since I was around 8 or 9. Certain types of video games have a similar effect and I can’t play them. It’s strange because I have absolutely no problem with violence in movies, TV or books.

      I think the risks to participants’ mental health is not worth a practice that is not even assured to be effective. At least compromise by scaling down the training. But I would, and will, vote against it if I am ever presented the opportunity.

      I really hate practices that do little else but punish the living.

    11. LostintheComments*

      As others have mentioned, there should be a way to opt out of this. I also work at a university and both our Risk Management dept and ADA coordinator make it clear that they can develop individual safety plans and provide advance notice of and alternative to drills. Also, I’m sure your Risk Management team and/or HR or whomever oversees faculty would love to hear about the inappropriate responses to this situation. Totally out line and unacceptable. I’m so sorry.

      1. connie*

        As a former member of the news media and person who lost a sibling to gun violence–meaning I have seen and been through a lot of stuff–I would caution against labeling the post-drill laughing as in appropriate without more information. You don’t know these people and what they’ve been through. Could they move it elsewhere? Certainly, but they are also entitled to their own feelings and responses–especially if they are joking about their own experience. I can have a very grim sense of humor because of my former job, but I also know who I should and should not share that with. Grim humor is not in and of itself inappropriate. It’s the context of expression and audience that matters.

        1. Eyes Kiwami*

          If you know who you shouldn’t share it with, presumably you wouldn’t do what the Dean did, which is joke and laugh about the active shooter drill in front of OP, someone who the Dean knows has a personal history with it and knows how OP reacts. From OP’s post, the laughing was very inappropriate.

  8. Jedi Mike*

    Curious, people who share offices. Do you have coworkers who like to engage in long social interactions? My office mate (who is actually leaving at the end of the month) has a habit of talking with her coworkers for long periods of time(upwards of an hour quite frequently), a lot of which isn’t work related as far as I can tell. I’m far less social of a person but wondering if this is super common in other offices. Seems like no one really shuts it down or cares as long as they’re presumably getting their work done, so I’m guessing it’s quite normal. I tend to want to get back to it after 10-15 minutes myself at most , honestly

    1. Lyudie*

      It does seem like there’s someone like that in every company, yeah. It can be annoying when you share an office with them. I wouldn’t say it’s super common, but it is somewhat common.

      1. Jedi Mike*

        Yup, that’s my limit, probably less in many cases unless I’m being taught something work-related. These coworkers can pop in the office and have an hour-plus-long conversation, sometimes multiple times a day. Office mate is leaving at the end of the month so i won’t have to deal with that for a while but it does get a bit grating occasionally

    2. Mrs Peaches*

      I think it just depends on the personalities involved. At my last job, my boss and I would chit-chat for 10-15 minutes regularly, since we’re both chatty people and had a lot in common. At my new job, the extent of socializing with my office mate is the obligatory “how was your weekend” that lasts 5 minutes max.

    3. New Mom*

      I’m a pretty extroverted and social person, and I work at an office where there are quite a few like me so I could see myself being this person, but not on a daily basis. I’ve definitely had long lunch conversations with people, and sometimes if there is a colleague that I haven’t seen in a while we might have a 15-20 minute non-work chat but what you are describing is pretty excessive.

      If headphones can drown it out, that would be my first suggestion, especially if it’s not impacting their own work and it seems acceptable in the larger office culture. If it’s preventing you from working, you’d be within your rights to ask if they could move the conversation to the break room but it might make you seem curmudgeonly.

    4. Linda*

      It’s definitely common in my office. My boss actually encourages walking around and socializing if it’s slow, since we do tech support for tech-adverse people and he believes this will make us more approachable.

    5. Robin Ellacott*

      An hour seems really long to me. 10-15 minutes chat between tasks is more consistent with the people I’ve shared space with. And it’s all I’d want too, unless there was something particularly important to talk about.

      Many years ago I had an office mate who wanted talk for hours; I was also really busy at the time with a job that involved complex writing/editing and concentration. Her subject matter of choice was Wrongs I Have Suffered Throughout My Life. This colleague was really sensitive so no matter who nicely I said I had to get back to work she either tried to force me to keep talking (even leaned between me and the monitors) or started crying. I didn’t realize how much it had been stressing me out until I moved offices and felt the tension evaporate.

      I’ve never experienced that level of chattiness other than her.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        Sounds like someone I used to work with. My ex colleague would pounce on people who were on their way out of the door and launch into rants about her ex partner, and couldn’t seem to quite make the leap that if X was about to leave, they may not have time to listen to this tirade about someone they didn’t know.

    6. CheeryO*

      This is super common at my office, and it’s interesting to see the varying reactions depending on how likeable the person is. It’s either a harmless quirk or the worst offense in the history of open plan offices.

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

      I share an office with one other person. An hour would be odd for just socializing but we’ve both had in-person meetings lasting an hour, and conversation always drifts between work and social, but it’s not very frequent.

      Socializing of about 10-15 minutes with folks in my department is pretty much everyday — there’s usually a minor work question that leads to a bit of conversation. We’ve all worked together for over a decade so maybe that’s part of it. The only time it’s a bother is if I’m on the phone or (these days) in a virtual meeting, and a conversation is going on at the same time; but people are usually aware enough to notice and drop it quickly in those cases.

    8. Cookie*

      My open plan office is full of people who will talk 15-45 minutes with a coworker, and the subject is sometimes work, often more mixed. The organization is totally cool with this; they see it as “collaborating.” It is the main reason I hate hybrid (prefer to WFH). On my in-office days I use noise-canceling headphones, sit as far away from others as I can get away with (hotdesking is in place for most of us) and resign myself to getting way less work done.

    9. Longtime Lurker*

      Just here to say that this is the fun counterpoint to any manager worried about remote staff taking time away from work to do laundry….

  9. Four Days A Week*

    I’m looking for some tips to help me navigate a dicey situation. When I was promoted, I negotiated a great remote schedule, four days a week (off Wednesdays). However, I acknowledged there would be situations when I might need to be flexible. I have a side hustle that I do on Wednesdays, and it’s my bosses’ out-of-office day, so it’s arguably the most convenient day for this. One of my coworkers tends to ignore my schedule and invite me to things on Wednesdays without acknowledging that this is not a day I work. If there’ s a reason it’s urgent or hard to reschedule (external partners) I will usually call in if I can. The truth is, I probably always could, I just don’t want to. It doesn’t seem like she makes any effort to schedule around me. She is part time and definitely knows my hours. I usually send an email that’s like, “as you know, I usually don’t work Wednesdays, but I’ll try to make this” if it’s arguably urgent, or “I think you’ve got this so I won’t join” if not. Should I be doing more or doing something different? I don’t have an automatic calendar block because I will try to come if my boss (not this coworker) needs something.

    1. AnotherSarah*

      Hmm. For some reason, “I usually don’t work Wednesdays” doesn’t sound to me like it’s a regular day off (lie a Saturday). I think you need to make it more clear–this is not a day you’re on the schedule or that you work, period. If you work 4 10s you can say that or what ever it is. It sound like there’s no real reason this coworker really thinks you’re not working on Wednesdays, since you can often make meetings. Also, could you just do the block and let your boss know it doesn’t apply to them? That sounds easier.

      1. New Mom*

        I agree, you should use firmer language because it IS like a Saturday, and it would not be reasonable for someone to regularly schedule you on a Saturday.

        “Hi Jane,

        I don’t work Wednesdays. I’m available Monday at x and Thursday at y for this meeting. My calendar is up to date with other availability as well.


        And when she does it again, just say something directly to her.

        “Hi Jane,

        As you know I don’t work Wednesdays but you keep scheduling external meetings with me on Wednesdays. Please only schedule me Mon, Tue, Thur, Fri.”

        And I’d start copying your boss if she doesn’t stop. You don’t need to tiptoe.

    2. Mandie*

      You’re being too nice. This is your day off! The next time she schedules on a Wednesday, decline it and say, “I’m off on Wednesdays.” Repeat until she stops.

      And there’s nothing wrong with blocking your calendar. Your boss knows you’re off, so he/she should tell you if something is needed on a Wednesday. But honestly, even your boss should respect your day off.

      1. Four Days A Week*

        Well, it’s not quite as clear-cut as a day OFF like a Saturday is. I’d say 80% of the time I don’t have to work, and I don’t log in at all all day … but I did agree to be available for time-sensitive situations (and I shift those hours around typically). I did realize when I made this deal that it was dicey, as I say. It’s a nonprofit.

        1. Rosemary*

          Not sure how your calendar setup is, but could you put yourself as “Out but available if urgent”? So that people are reminded when they go to book you for something on Weds that you are not technically in. I know I can’t keep my co-workers’ schedules straight (even if it is a weekly thing like out on Weds, which should theoretically be easy to remember).

        2. Observer*

          but I did agree to be available for time-sensitive situations (and I shift those hours around typically).

          That’s not for this PT coworker to decide, though. This is your OOO day and you should only accept meetings from her if they REALLY cannot be rescheduled. In fact, even when it’s with external people, point out that (as per your calendar – which should ABSOLUTELY show you as either “out of office” or “busy”) you are not supposed to be in so she needs to try to reschedule.

          And as others have noted, if she keeps this up, definitely loop in your boss.

    3. HE Admin*

      I had a coworker who worked a shifted schedule (so like 10-6 instead of 9-5) and ALWAYS scheduled things during my lunch hour because it wasn’t HER lunch hour. I started declining all of them. She eventually started scheduling for when everyone was available. If this person is consistently scheduling things with external partners on days you’re out, she’s almost definitely putting Wednesdays out to them as an option, and shouldn’t be.

      1. Four Days A Week*

        Yeah, she’s definitely not prioritizing non-Wednesday days in her scheduling or keeping it off the table, but then she’s hoping/expecting me to attend because it’s with external stakeholders. If it’s an internal meeting I would decline and tell her to catch me up later.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          This and your previous reply change things for me. You’re technically working and these are external stakeholders– you should attend. You can ask her if there’s a way to move these meetings to non-Wednesdays, but if she’s trying to schedule a bunch of external people, she may not be able to. If the information she’s been given is that you’re not in the office but you’re available for meetings, then there’s no reason she shouldn’t schedule a meeting when you appear to be available.

          I once had a co-worker who negotiated WFH Fridays (this was years ago before full-time WFH was more common) and would complain when meetings were scheduled on Fridays, which happened maybe once a month. Our boss informed her that she was supposed to be working from home and that meant calling in– it wasn’t a day off. Would your boss say the same thing about Wednesdays? If yes, then I think you should expect to be available. If no, then block off your time and ask her to reschedule.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Stop “trying to come” if it’s truly during a time when you’re not working. Just say no. Does your co-worker know that you’re actually off on Wednesdays, not simply working from home?

      It’s a bit confusing, to be honest– if you’re truly on a four-day work week, with Wednesdays completely off, then your boss and co-worker should know that and not need something from you on that day, and you should not make yourself available (just as I wouldn’t be available on a Sunday). But if it’s framed as a WFH day, then yes, you should either attend or clarify your work schedule. If I were trying to schedule something with someone and their calendar wasn’t blocked off, I would assume they’re available, especially if it’s a typical M-F office.

      1. Four Days A Week*

        It’s not that black and white, which is why it’s a dicey situation. I said I would be flexible but generally not work Wednesdays; I’d say 80% of the time I have it off all day and don’t log in at all. I don’t check email because I don’t want to train people that I’m available. If people ask me (before COB Tuesday) if I can join a Wednesday meeting, and there’s a good reason, I will often try to do so.

        1. Bagpuss*

          I think I would block it off in your dairy. It should then show up as a conflict when she tries to schedule.

          Can yo u speak to her about it as well?

          Maybe say that Wednesday is your non-working day, so can she try to schedule meetings on other days where ever possible, and if there is a meeting where it’s not possible to , can you make sure that she sets out when she sends you the invitation why you need to be there and what the scheduling conflict is that means it can’t be on another day.

          Also – would there be any benefit in looking to shift your non working day so that you and your boss aren’t both out on the same day? That way, in most cases, if you aren’t available your boss will be, so there should be fewer situations where you need to be involved on your time off. I appreciate that this does depend on whether and how easily you can shift your side-hustle

        2. Sunflower*

          I would ask yourself what would your boss want you to do in this situation. Would she say ‘tell your coworker that only absolutely urgent meetings are to be scheduled on Wednesdays’ or would she say ‘While Wednesdays do tend to be a quiet day and you don’t need to log on unless there are meetings, you need to attend the meetings.’ Your coworker also works part time- presumably less hours than you- so she if she is working on a tighter schedule than you, that also needs to be respected.

          Is it possible you can block the day and put in the note ‘please only schedule urgent meetings during this time’. We have non meeting days which have similar rules and it’s really common.

          You also said your boss sometimes needs you on Wednesdays which is also her day ‘off’. This is really more than a bit confusing so I can see why your coworkers don’t understand either. You really need to both have more transparency on your work calendars if you want people to understand the situation.

        3. Joielle*

          This advice is assuming that you use Outlook for meeting scheduling since that’s what I’m familiar with – but I’d probably add a recurring appointment to my calendar, 8-5 every Wednesday, but mark it as “tentative.” Then it’s a visual reminder that you aren’t really working at that time, but it’s a little squishier than “busy.”

          Or, you could just label it as “busy” and if she really needs to schedule something then, she can ask you if you can make it.

        4. Tio*

          Have you tried calling her up or stopping her after one of these meetings and talking to her? It’s not always nice to put someone on the spot, but it’s harder for them to get away with things if they’re staring you in the face answering questions. Just pulling her aside and laying it out might help: “Hey, this is the 3rd week in a row you’ve tried to schedule a meeting on Wednesday. I’m not usually available wednesday and these are really difficult for me to work in. Can you please prioritize scheduling these on other days if I need to come?”

    5. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Have you tried just refusing the appointment and forcing her to reschedule?

      Your words say “I’m not available”, but your actions say otherwise.

    6. Sunflower*

      I’m a bit confused- are you paid to work on Wednesday or not?

      If you aren’t supposed to be working then absolutely put the reccuring calendar OOO block up. I actually can’t blame your coworker here- it’s not up to me to remember coworkers schedules – esp if multiple coworkers don’t work a regular 9-5, M-F schedule and you do occasionally attend meetings. Decline any meetings she sends that day after that.

        1. Jo*

          Yes. 100%. Surely you have some sort of joint calendar system when setting meetings. Your Wednesdays should be blocked off and your working hours noted on your true work days. Otherwise, just keep refusing and re-stating your work availability.

    7. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      Start declining these invites with a message saying you’re not available on Wednesdays. Repeat as necessary.

    8. A Penguin!*

      I think if you want coworkers to respect your day off it has to show as such in your calendar, and you have to decline all meeting requests that come in despite such. Right now you’re teaching your coworker that you are in fact available on Wednesdays (by accepting some of these meetings).

    9. Artemesia*

      NO. ‘I am off on Wednesdays, so please schedule meetings that include me on days I am available.’ If it is a crisis meeting that you MUST attend, they will probably let you know and you can ‘come in on your day off.’ But dn’t make that so easy for them or they will ignore it. Especially someone who often schedules you on those days. Just take it off the table.

    10. J*

      I had a schedule where I was typically off one afternoon a week, but I sometimes flexed it with another day if there was something high priority (I was often called on to support events so some events might conflict with this specific afternoon and it was more important for me to host than to have that afternoon off because of the nature of my role). I always marked my calendar as unavailable during my prescheduled time. But for anyone who might count as high priority, I gave them guidance that they could check with me well in advance and I would confirm any bookings and the appropriate corresponding flex time earlier in the week.

      If it’s just normal scheduling, just use your calendar’s time blocking and decline, but if it’s something more urgent, speak to those people specifically about exceptions. I generally did not make exceptions for lateral coworkers but rather only for 4 specific people in higher roles who specifically I was brought on to support.

      1. Four Days*

        This is very similar to my situation, thanks for putting it in a clearer way. These comments have helped me realize it’s a confusing situation for everyone, including my coworkers. Thanks all.

    11. KatieP*

      I had a similar situation – I was on 3/4 time with my afternoons off to take care of my daughter after school. I’d taken over some of the team Admin’s job responsibilities, and she was sore about it, so she always scheduled team meetings for 3 PM. She kept at it until I went full-time, then she found other passive-agressive ways to be a bully.

    12. Nesprin*

      Put your schedule in your email signature, block off Wednesdays on your calendar, and respond to invites with “Wednesday is my day off”.

    13. Observer*

      I don’t have an automatic calendar block because I will try to come if my boss (not this coworker) needs something.

      Set your calendar to busy or out-of-office for Wednesdays. Let your boss know – they can still invite you and you can accept. But this way it’s hard for this coworker to pretend that they “forgot”.

      Also, if it’s not an emergency or really hard to reschedule, don’t accept the invitation – send the non-acceptance. You don’t even have to say anything. But if you do, something like “Wednesday is my ooo day” is more than enough.

    14. KR*

      I would say go ahead and block off your calendar/adjust your working hours on your calendar. You could let your boss know that you’re of course available if they really need you for Wednesdays but that other coworkers are regularly scheduling you for non-urgent Wednesday meetings so you need to update your calendar.

    15. Samwise*

      Stop accepting her invites. Don’t go in, don’t help her, don’t work on your off day just because she’s ignoring your hours (I’m betting she doesn’t come in on her off days!)

      Remind her, this is my off day, you will have to reschedule.

  10. Amber Rose*

    I asked my title to be updated to Manager during my employee review and was told that was pretty much reserved for people who had direct reports. But I run three committees and two programs and can basically tell anyone what to do within the scope of those programs. So even if it’s limited, am I off base to say I’ve basically got a manager’s responsibility?

    1. Sunflower*

      Not sure what your title is now but OldJob had a project manager title that was used for people in roles like this with no direct reports.

    2. KX*

      I don’t think so. You don’t likely do scheduling, vacation approval, one on one check-ins, career development, improvement plans, hiring or firing. That’s Managers with Direct Report stuff.

      Maybe you could be some kind of project or program manager though?

    3. Paris Geller*

      At a lot of places I’ve worked, that kind of responsibility normally had the job title coordinator. I’ve had several jobs where I was a coordinator and managing programs or services, but not people (I, like you, might be able to tell people what to do within the scope of that program, but I didn’t have any direct reports or hiring/firing/etc. responsibility).

      1. fhqwhgads*

        “Coordinator” is a tricky one because some orgs treat it like you mention – a person in charge of stuff across things, but many others “coordinator” just means “lowest level of X”. So like Program Coordinator is the entry-level person, Program Specialist is the mid-level one, Program Manager is what it sounds like Amber Rose maybe does, where that person is very much in charge of stuff despite having no direct reports.
        In this context, I think Program Manager or Project Manager is probably what’s wanted. I’d push back against the bosses saying “manager only means direct reports” because even if that’s the general policy there, “Program Manager” or “Project Manager” are titles that have specific meanings, and often do not involve direct reports. So it doesn’t make sense for them not allowing that sort of title. Don’t know if that’s the title that was requestion, but in this case – it’s really not about who is/isn’t a “Manager” in a vacuum, but what these phrases generally mean in business.

        1. Tio*

          Yeah, in my company coordinator is a low level position, just above entry level. Project Manager would be a better title from where I am

    4. ENFP in Texas*

      You may be a Program Manager or a Project Manager – I’d recommend asking about those types of titles.

      “Manager” has a lot of HR and personnel stuff that you’re not doing – performance reviews, workload assignments outside the scope of your project, time off requests, etc.

    5. Frankie*

      That’s a Project Manager or Program Manager (or maybe some kind of Director title) where I work. The skill of managing direct reports is different from running a committee or program. There are overlapping skills but they’re not the same. You’re not directly responsible for performance management, employee morale, career development, supervisory tasks, etc.

    6. Jo*

      Perhaps there’s a variation that would work for both sides.

      I was in your situation and my title was “XYZ Program Manager”. And, in fact, as my responsibilities grew, I became “XYZ Program Director”. In our organization, those titles were different than others with “manager” who might be in charge of a division or department and have direct reports.

      However, I’ve also seen situations where they preferred a different noun like “coordinator” or “administrator”. If they won’t agree to “manager”, is there another word that fits the authority/sonority?

      Lastly, I worked for government so the official names of positions in HR/the system was very regimented and might be completely different than the title we used publicly in emails, business cards, correspondence. Depending on your situation, you might be able to change your public-facing title.

    7. Sparkles McFadden*

      In my OldJob, the definition of a Manager was someone who had direct reports and who had a direct say in hiring/firing, vacation approval, performance reviews. If the person oversaw the work product of other employees in the same department, but wasn’t the person who decided on compensation, that person would be a Supervisor or Team Lead. If you were overseeing projects with people from multiple departments, you’d be a Project Manager.

      OldJob also had some people with the title of Manager when part of their job was acting as an agent for the company. So someone from finance who negotiated deals with outside vendors on behalf of the company would have a title of Procurement Manager or something similar. This was to assure someone outside the company that they were dealing with the person who had the final say on any business deals.

    8. Overeducated*

      Some organizations are very strict about their definitions for this. In mine, running programs and committees makes you a “lead.” Managing one or two employees makes you a “supervisor.” Managing three or more makes you a “manager.”

      I run two programs and supervise one employee and am considered a “lead,” which I don’t love because I feel like my portfolio is significantly larger than someone who would be called a “program director” in much smaller organizations in my field, but try to remember that my accomplishments, scope of responsibility, and the national reputation of my employer do still count!

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        > Managing one or two employees makes you a “supervisor.” Managing three or more makes you a “manager”

        The mind boggles at the implications of this… e.g. if someone manages a team of 3, one leaves and due to a hiring freeze they aren’t replaced, is the manager ‘demoted’ to supervisor?

    9. Somehow_I_Manage*

      I always tell my boss- I don’t care about titles. They’re all made up anyway. Just as long as they know my name at the bank!

      /That being said, if you’re in a position where you’re working with external clients or need some extra emphasis to be an effective facilitator and business builder, than it’s in the companies interest- and you should say that. But if it’s just for validation, I’d let it go.

    10. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      Your role sounds similar to mine and I’m a Coordinator. Assigning work is only like 1/4th of what managers are meant to be doing so it doesn’t make sense to use that title to cover this type of work. As others have said, though, Project Manager or Program Manager would also be appropriate.

    11. GreenShoes*

      The way my company does this is they have 2 different manager titles; PaperClip Sorting Manager and Manager, PaperClip Sorting.

      The first one would indicate a non-people manager or a process manager the second (with the comma) is a people manager. I’m not sure if that’s common or not.

      It sounds like you currently have project manager responsibilities, which is different than people manager responsibilities. So I can see where your HR is coming from if they don’t have a mechanism to distinguish between the two like my example above.

    12. Tamarack*

      You probably need to float the idea of career alignment for non-management roles. Some organizations have fully developed dual ladders (individual contributor vs. management). Others are pretty bad about that, and the only way to go up in seniority beyond the first 2-3 levels is to start managing people. You’re probably right that you should have the seniority and respect and compensation equivalent to some manager level, but as someone whose contribution is to the enterprise is in whatever these committees do.

      Maybe find out what job titles are in your industry that people with your portfolio have (other commenters have made suggestions) and then ask for that + a benchmarking effort around job families.

    13. Seeking Second Childhood*

      It’s an interestingly varied word. My current company I almost didn’t get hired because a previous title included “manager”. Happily a 2nd person realized I was managing projects not people and gave me a call.
      All a rambling way to say there are some places that won’t go for what you’re asking.

    14. peacock limit*

      My org recently retitled all positions and the only positions that were allowed to use the title of “manager” were those with “people managing” duties (hiring/firing/time-off etc). It was a big thing, people were real mad. Everyone else is considered a specialist or some such.

    15. Waterlily*

      I once worked at a place where you had to supervise at least 7 people before you went from manager to director. This made me a bit sore because I was managing just two people but the largest divisional budget by far. Still, no director title for me unless I supervised seven humans.

      As a manager of people, I have to agree with the sentiment below. Your company has defined manager as one who has direct reports. Having direct reports adds layers: hiring, firing, compensation, performance reviews, difficult conversations, correcting behavior, plus all the humanness that comes with that.

      But if that title is important to you, maybe you could open up a conversation about getting a direct report somehow.

    16. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Where would you be saying this? To whom?

      I wouldn’t put it on a resume if it’s not true, but I would focus on all the manage-y things you did in the accomplishments.

      I wouldn’t put it in my signature block. I wouldn’t refer to myself that way in conversation: I would say ‘I manage x projects’

      I think the best way ahead is to find a way to come to peace with it.

    17. Miette*

      “Manager” titles absolutely exist where there are not direct reports. As said above, “project managers” have it in their title. I am in marketing, and “product manager” or “product marketing manager” are jobs that won’t typically have direct reports, at least for small to mid-sized orgs. Or think of “account manager” in many sales org or agency setups as well.

      The title, for many, connotes a certain level of maturity and experience, not just supervision. I would push back on it if you have the capital to spend for sure, especially if its lack puts you at a disadvantage in customer or partner situations.

  11. Grace*

    My university runs an annual Student Leadership Conference, with presentations from both students and professionals for students involved in organizations. I’m doing one this year. The process of getting a presentation slot is competitive, and it’s a 45-minute solo presentation, so I think it’s something I could put on my resume, but I’m not sure about including the title.

    The issue is, this year is focused on diversity, and my presentation is about being involved in student organizations while trans. The title makes that obvious. I don’t want to hide that I’m trans, necessarily, but I don’t want it to be right up there on my resume – I don’t want it to be one of the first things the hiring manager sees.


    1. Hanni*

      Ultimately whether to include the title is up to you and your personal comfort level. If you decide not to include it, I think you could just call it a “presentation related to diversity in student organizations/student leadership/whatever the case may be”.

    2. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      Hmm this makes me wonder if you’re at my uni (my alma mater and also my employer!). I was also part of our SLC (still have the t-shirts, I think!). Over a decade later I still think about a presentation I attended by a trans man, about the science and experience of transgender people, and I’m so grateful for what I learned from him.

      I would suggest sharing a subject instead of the title, like “Presentation topic: including trans students in campus activities” or something like that. You could make it more broad to LGBTQ+, if that feels safer too! It’s not uncommon at all in academia to describe the presentation rather than name it, if it’s more descriptive than the title, so don’t worry about that.

    3. Carolina cardinalis*

      It sounds like you’re involved in a different student org. You could always list this as a bullet under that along the lines of “was selected/auditioned and selected to present a 45 minute talk on my experiences in Student Org for the annual Student Leadership Conference”. Just make it another bullet along with the other stuff for the student org you’re in and don’t mention themes. Do decide how much you’re willing to disclose if someone asks about it in an interview.

    4. KatieP*

      You can probably be vague about the title and be just fine. And yes, it’s definitely something you could put on your resume, especially if communication skills are relevant in your chosen field. Prospective employers will be more concerned with the kind of experience you received, how you prepared for the presentation, any feedback you got and how you incoporated that in your development, and if you have skills in public speaking or presenting.

      Good luck, and I hope it comes with at least a little scholarship $$!

    5. Nesprin*

      If you want to be vague but get across that you were selected for this,
      Invited speaker at Conference, location, date.

      If you want to also emphasize the diversity aspect,
      Invited speaker on diversity issues at Conference, location, date.

      If you want to disclose,
      Invited speaker, “talk title” at Conference, location, date.

  12. Prospect Gone Bad*

    More of a rant: why do so many other managers and above love everything to be a conference call? I like socializing, but it doesn’t make sense in so many cases. I feel like so many higher-ups take a problem and just put it in the subject line of an invite but don’t plan a strong agenda. I’m a technical person so would much rather get an agenda and a week to come up with questions and work on it, and I’ve verbalized this, but apparently people still want to have calls where we sit there and talk and no one has answers yet and sometimes I need to step in and cut people off and say “so and so employee not knowing something YET is not a problem”

    And a question: has anyone seen really bad advice online that they think is going to hurt the next generation of workers? One that’s been bugging me on another outlet is people all agreeing you don’t need to tell HR the reason for your FLMA (I am correct that this is bad advice, right? I could be wrong).

    One piece of what I consider abused or bad advice is pushing back anytime your boss wants to give you a new task or change your workload or give you a stretch assignment. I often wonder what the pushback would even look like or what their jobs are. I see this advice a lot on reddit work subs. My jobs is basically 90% different than when I started, so I feel like this constant pushback, if done in real life, will just cause these people to get laid off. As a manager I also struggle more with giving out stretch assignments. I often pick smaller and less urgent versions of the stretch assignment so if the employee screws up, it’s not a huge deal. I haven’t had anyone ask for a huge raise because I gave them one stretch assignment (which is advice I often see in other forums) but I’ve had people pushback with “this is a full time job” or “a team should be doing this” and it often leads to discussing how at our competitors, these actually aren’t FT roles or they are FT because they do parts manually that we have automated. Or they have 4X more customers so can afford to make it a FT role. Or they pay pretty low for that FT role. I find that there are a lot of myths out there about how intense some work is and how much competitors pay. For example, I got pushback on a project and was told that this could be a FT role. Said employee didn’t know that I know that at one of our biggest competitors, the only reason it’s a FT role is because they have people making $15-$18 an hour in lower cost of living states clicking through a bunch of stuff manually, whereas they make $80K and we’d pay for someone to automate the mouse clicking parts.

    I think my team usually gets it but based on the advice I often see on other forums, I’m wondering how many people completely screw up their employer’s attempts to let them grow by pushing back on every little thing under the guise of standing up for workers. I’ve only managed in this situation once and the person eventually quit with no job lined up and it was very sad. They had a huge circle of friends and family that was pressuring them to ask for a raise and promotion but their skills were not great and they hadn’t accomplished anything at all yet. I didn’t hire them, they were transferred to my team. I was trying to guide them to accomplish something and they’d push back on every little thing. I don’t think they had any idea what regular workers accomplish in a given week and kept confusing what is entry level vs. manager vs. skilled work and kept insisting that the basic entry level tasks I was trying to get them to complete were these complicated highly-skilled tasks that they actually were not. But I think this falls into a general “don’t take work advice from people who have no clue what you do” bucket.

    1. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      Everything on Reddit should be taken with a boulder sized grain of salt. Also just try not to spend a lot of time on there in general – it reinforces echo-chamber tendencies and discourages critical thinking.

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        It’s such a dumpster fire that I can’t look away. There is too much “advice” that is activism and preferences vaguely disguised as job advice. The advice is always that your job is horrible and you are grossly underpaid and you are awesome and should job hop your way to $200K by 30 and never do any favors for your boss. It’s so bad. Unrelated to work, so much of the investment advice is horrible too. So much bullishness and positivity and ignoring news and earnings and doing pikachu face when people lose money. I used to comment there but stopped because I got downvoted to hell for giving good advice from experience, such as stating why popular companies are overvalued due to commonly used metrics. People also get really nasty and DM you things like “why aren’t you a billionaire if you’re so smart” as if having a good grasp of markets automatically makes you rich. This irks me becuase you can give the best advice to help someone make money in the near term, but if it doesn’t fit their narrative, you attract such nasty comments.

        It’s sad that there is no alternative to that site

        1. NL*

          But if you can’t look away that’s kind of a you problem, isn’t it? If you hang out in places that are known to be cesspools, don’t be surprised when they’re awful.

          There are lots of alternatives for career advice. The people who hang out there are there because they want that specific echo chamber. You can just ignore it, it’s not representative of the majority of people.

          1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

            Nod. Me online: bosses can suck it!
            Me irl: I’d gladly drive a few hours out of my way ( heart emoji)
            It’s not like it’s fake but online is my real heart not like what I do offline

        2. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

          Follow a different sub/subs! There are a lot of fun and kind places on Reddit. Don’t engage in those kinds of discussions. Try unfollowing those kinds if subs for a week and see how you feel. Join something like the sweet r/CasualConversation one or r/MomForAMinute or e/DadReflexes or one of the many animal subs.

      2. sb51*

        It’s Reddit. The advice on relationship groups is always going to be DUMP THEM, the job advice is always going to be LEAVE, etc. Because a lot of people only come to them when they’ve been so ground down by something awful that they dare reaching out to a weird semi-anonymous forum, that’s not always a bad knee-jerk reaction. But it comes from the people replying having seen a lot of stories where the initial slightly-bad situation described turns out to be the tip of an iceberg of horribleness.

        Same reason a lot of Alison’s advice is “it’s time to go” and Dan Savage is famous for his DTMFA columns; by the time someone writes in, they just need a confidence boost to do what they already knew they needed to do.

        Neither makes good catch-all advice for a more normal situation where there’s just one little irritating thing.

    2. Ormond Sackler*

      90% of hour long conference calls could be one well-drafted email and a 15 minute followup. I will die on that hill.

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        I used to like calls but I find ours need more technical specs before we talk. I’ve noticed an uptick in counterproductive filler conversations. For example, someone will be writing something down, and instead of letting there be silence someone will start a conversation like “why didn’t we already know this” or “our vendor should be doing this for us” then we go down a path of complaining about people for not knowing what they don’t know yet. Which hurts moral and doesn’t accomplish anything.

    3. Jujyfruits*

      I took FMLA and didn’t need to tell HR why. They contracted with a third party company that handled the paperwork and claim. All I coordinated with HR and my manager was my return to work date.

      I think it’s great advice to let people know what they can keep private from their employer.

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        That’s good to know. But you still had to tell someone, right? I’m fine to be fact checked here. My larger issue is that most of the commenters had no clue what they were talking about and telling OP to push back just to push back, our of principle.

        1. J*

          I think there’s a concern that people talk too early in the process. I would personally go to HR and say “I’ve been directed by my medical team to take FMLA, can you walk me through the process?” because I’ve had third-party vendors and HR both handle and I have personally witnessed HR gossip about spoken details in poorly managed workplaces. Generally they know better than to share what’s on the form itself since there’s a legal record but the gap between requesting paperwork and completing it is a very vulnerable time.

          1. Observer*

            Now, this is an excellent piece of advice. Because it’s true that you don’t need to give any detail in order to get information about FMLA. And also, figuring out what you really do need to share and when vs what you don’t is also a good idea.

        2. Jujyfruits*

          I told my manager I needed to take a leave of absence and she directed me to the HR website where I filled out a form to start the process. I’m sure it’ll be different at different places, but I didn’t have to share why, just that I was initiating the process.

      2. Observer*

        I think it’s great advice to let people know what they can keep private from their employer.

        Sure. But what happened to you is far from universal. The key issue is that if you need FMLA leave, you generally cannot keep it secret from EVERYONE. SOMEONE is going to need some information whether it’s HR or an outside consultant.

        So the question becomes how much information does the FMLA administrator (whether internal HR or an external company) get to ask for? Which is very different from saying that you don’t need to tell them anything but that you need to take it, and it’s nunya why.

        1. RecentlyRetired*

          I had to have my PCP sign a form stating why I needed intermittent FMLA and what my schedule and return date would be. Then it was emailed to the third party company. They followed up with me that the FMLA was granted, although I had started several weeks earlier working part-time and putting FMLA on my electronic timecard. (Also had to share with my manager, as he had to approve the timecards.)
          But then, my FMLA was stress-related and my manager and coworkers mostly knew about it before I started working part-time.

    4. kiki*

      I think a lot of managers are the type of people who get a lot out of talking things through, seeking alignment, and brainstorming “live.” That doesn’t work for everyone (or even most people). I think what you suggested– sending out an agenda and giving everyone time to let the ideas percolate– is what I’ve seen work the best. But then you have to make sure everyone on the invite understands the expectation of pre-work and is given time to brainstorm privately in advance.

    5. MurpMaureep*

      As both a manager and an individual contributor I’ve always heard that you do not have to disclose your reason for FMLA and, in my management jobs, I’ve never asked (although people have volunteered). However I’ve also been told by HR that there are situations where I should offer FMLA (e.g. an employee asks for time off for surgery).

      Our organization has a totally separate group that handles FMLA, disability, etc., and they communicate to the person’s manager pertinent information like anticipated return to work date, but they do not disclose reasons. I have no problem with that.

      I’m curious why you think that someone should disclose the reason? I suppose I can see in a smaller organization one might have to advocate for accommodations for oneself, which is too bad, but I can’t really think of why I’d need to know if someone didn’t want to tell me *and* I had everything I needed from our FMLA group.

      1. Observer*

        but I can’t really think of why I’d need to know if someone didn’t want to tell me *and* I had everything I needed from our FMLA group

        Well, that is just the thing. SOMEONE needs at least some of that information in order to go through the process. It doesn’t have to be the manager, and I can see why it would often be better if it weren’t. But even not-small companies don’t necessarily have a group that does nothing but FMLA and ADA accommodations, so it would generally have to be HR.

    6. RagingADHD*

      Re your rant:

      1) because creating a useful agenda takes a lot of effort, and from the managers’s perspective, the purpose of getting the people together to discuss the subject is to delegate that work to them, and /or

      2) because crafting a specific agenda builds in a lot of assumptions, and the leader may want the team to problemsolve without preconceived notions.

  13. April*

    I do some asynchronous contract work, communicating with colleagues through Slack. It pays peanuts (normal rates, for this type of work, but peanuts), but I do like the work.

    The issue is what happens when my boss needs to talk to me. They’re in a very different time zone, and business hours for them are very late night/very early morning for me. They also type very slowly and often let issues build up for a long time before DMing me out of the blue wanting to discuss everything that’s happened in the last six months at once. In summary, every so often, I get DMs late at night that are going to take hours to resolve. I have an actual other job that pays for rent and food (and they’re aware of this), so I cannot be up until 3 AM dealing with this stuff.

    Given what they pay me, I don’t really feel bad about saying “look, it’s 11 PM my time; I have my real job in the morning and this conversation is going to take hours, let’s find another time for this”, but I need to figure out how to phrase it politely, because this is my boss. I also need to take into account that we have near zero overlap in our reasonable working hours, and we do need to have this conversation. Ideas?

    1. urguncle*

      I have a team where my working hours are their late-night and early morning and I get up at 6am 3 days a week for 6:30am meetings. It can be done. I’d give them a few times that you’ve set up, maybe a Friday evening for you when you don’t have to get up early the next morning and then some times that are within the normal awake hours, but not necessarily working hours. You can keep those as the “ok, we finally need to talk through this not via email” times.

    2. ThatGirl*

      could you set up regular meetings at a time that does work for both of you to go over things? At least then you could plan for it.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Is there a way to schedule time to talk, like once every two weeks you get up really early or stay up really late, and you can prepare and it’s set? Or is this more spontaneous stuff?

      You’re a contract worker so you’re perfectly within your rights to say, “I’m not available right now, let’s find another time”. In your position, I would set up a Calendly or something, and when your contract boss gets started, say, “Hey, this is not a great time, here’s a link to my calendar, feel free to schedule an hour.”

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Yes to the meeting, even if yiu dont use it every time.
        And consider setting your phone to night mode with a do not disturb between 10 PM and 6 AM – – or whatever hours you need. Let your boss knowin advance that you are doing this…but if he’s prone to take offense, I’d say it’s to keep family from waking you up.

      2. Massive Dynamic*

        Second the calendar approach – also, if this is contracted work then this person is NOT your boss. They are your client, and you can fire them at any time if it’s not working out. But please first work on setting up your own boundaries around availability and then training your client to respect them.

    4. AcademiaNut*

      I work regularly with people with up to a 12 hour time difference (the maximum possible). There are very few situations where contacting someone to discuss something at 3am local time without warning is appropriate, and the situations that do will involve things being on fire (possibly literally). I do have periods where I’m essentially on call, but those are limited.

      We schedule meetings at times that are as non-unreasonable as possible (ie, minimizing the number of people who have to attend between 11pm and 6am). With 12 hours difference, meetings tend to start at 7-9 am/pm, so start of the day for one side, end of the day for the other. Meetings with a 6 or 7 hour time difference (another popular one) take place at 9am for one side, which is 3 or 4 pm for the other. 9 hours difference is typically either mid-morning for one side, evening for the other, or early morning/late afternoon.

      So, in summary – if wants to discuss things with you, unless there’s an incredibly good reason why it has to be immediately, you schedule a meeting that’s during normal waking hours for both of you, if not business hours. As for how to phrase it – you can take it from the perspective that you’ve found that being woken up for meetings in the middle of the night is bad for your health, so you won’t be answering DMs at 3am, so you need to find another approach.

  14. Bittersweet*

    Looking for advice from managers if there is ever a good or bad time to bring up what could be a headache situation to my boss?

    A few months ago, my boss verbally OK’d me moving a 1.5 train ride away from (and out of state) from my office and possibly becoming officially remote. She said she would need to check on some things with HR and let her know when I’m ready to move so she can put the formal process in action. Due to a number of factors, I would like to stay tied to the office vs remote and am not sure if this is going to be a non issue or a battle with HR.

    However…the last 4 weeks have been absolutely awful for our team. Our budgets are getting cut and our entire strategy for this year has been flipped due to the recession. To say team morale is low and people are feeling bitter is an understatement.

    I am ready to put the wheels in motion but wondering if I should wait for a better time (even if it’s just a few weeks) to bring this up. On the flip side, what if a good time never comes? Does it really matter or am I just overthinking?

    For background: We don’t have a requirement to be in the office (boss is remote on the West Coast, I’m on East Coast) and our team is spread so there’s really no actual change in me not being near the office. My company has tax nexus in my new state. I am somewhat flexible on moving timelines but need to be out by August at the latest.

    1. Sherm*

      As a manager, I would only be annoyed if an employee brought up something not urgent when I was super-slammed with a tight deadline (for example, the multi-million dollar project was due the next day, and I was frantically trying to put the pieces together). It sounds like things aren’t horrendously busy, just a pain, so I would go ahead and ask. If it’s not a good time, she can tell you.

    2. Chaordic One*

      Nope, there’s never a good time to bring up a headache for your boss. Ultimately it is their headache, not yours. (That’s why they make the big bucks.) You don’t want to wait for a better time that may never come. And, yes, you ARE overthinking this. Set those wheels in motion. After you’ve secured your next position, you can inform your boss. (And you probably shouldn’t be giving your boss any hints that you’re unhappy or looking.)

    3. Prospect gone bad*

      I am a Director who is apparently goofing off too much on the Internet today lol. Where are used to problems. The problems that keep me up at night would be things like our product becoming obsolete or Amazon becoming our competitor. Your issues pretty small, I’d rather hear it sooner rather than later so I could deal with it and get it off the list of things to do

    4. MurpMaureep*

      I don’t really see this as much of a headache and I’d advise you to bring it up sooner rather than later. If your boss has things to work through with HR regarding the move, she’ll appreciate the heads up that you now have a timeline.

      And, honestly, the only time I’ve been annoyed with someone for bringing up a true headache is when I realize they’ve been sitting on it (sometimes either stewing about it or letting it grow). Most managers really do want to get ahead of things and have time to handle them, regardless of what else is going on with the job.

    5. Tio*

      Most of the problems you list are not going away in a few weeks, so I would bring it up sooner rather than later

  15. Flak Jacket*

    I live in NYC. Lived here about 15 years. I do not like living here. Never have. But I grew up in the suburbs and came home to start a career. A career that I never felt comfortable in. And now I’m officially done with the City and my career. I’ve spent the past 8+ months looking for a job that will take advantage of my skills, offer decent work/life boundaries (which my career does not help), and will get me out of the City.

    I’ve had a few interviews and interesting opportunities. But they’ve all required a significant paycut (and I don’t make a ton of $$$). I realize moving out of the City will reduce the pay and having a calmer job will reduce the pay. But, the latest job offer I’m looking at is 50K less than I make now (It is in a metropolitan City, so the pay adjustment is about 20% less than the City)

    I’m burned out and tired and starting to skate by. I’m procrastinating or just not working hard on my responsibilities. Maybe I’m doing slightly more than the bare minimum. But, it’s the only way I can give myself a break from the constant crazy that is my job.

    I don’t know what else I should do to get this train moving!

      1. Flak Jacket*

        I could live with significantly less. But I’m about 15 years from retirement, so I do have a cut off point as I’d like to not eat my savings/retirement and don’t really want to be the 50 year old woman who has to budget a trip to the grocery store. I’d like to make 60K, which adjusting for the change in city is still ~20% less than what I’m currently making.

      2. ThatGirl*

        This is the question. I know say, $150k may not seem like a lot in NYC but in most cities $100k is plenty to live on. (Possible exception of Bay Area.)

    1. Prospect Gone Bad*

      Did you calculate AFTER TAX income? I have lived in various places and when I was in NY I barely made six figures and my total tax burden was 40% on my top dollar (if you include SS and medicaid). Granted most of it was federal tax but 10% was city and state combined. What about incidental costs? I remember loads of $20 salad/sandwich lunches and tips to service workers especially around the holidays being a lot. And I’m not debating whether that’s good or not but am saying everyone expected what are considered large amounts for the rest of the country.

      How is your retirement savings? If you’ve been earning NY money for years, you may be able to lower contributions and take home more pay and “Coast FIRE” i.e. let your money continue to grow without adding to it. If your savings are small, then you might need to evaluate city living for a few more years and hunkering down and saving like crazy so you can afford the pay cut that comes with other places.

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      How far outside of the city are you looking? I’m just outside the city, in another state, and it costs nearly as much for me to live here than it did when I was in Manhattan/Brooklyn. The rent might be a little lower (might — where I live, there are mostly only luxury apartments whose rents rival those in the city) and buying is impossible right now. But then you basically have to have a car to get around, so any savings you might have in rent is lost in a car payment.

      I’m not trying to dissuade you from the plan! Moving outside of NYC was a huge improvement to my overall quality of life. But I can really only afford it because I kept a job in the city, and commute there 3x a week.

      1. Flak Jacket*

        I’m done with it all. I have family a few hours north. I’m looking to go there. Also I currently live in a mid-range Queens community that’s already 40 minutes outside the City (when the trains aren’t terrible). Moving to Jersey or Connecticut isn’t really a good plan for me.

        1. Sunflower*

          If you are on FB, try joining the FB group ‘Into the Unknown’. It’s for people who have left or are thinking about leaving the city and looking for/sharing advice. I will say the group tends to lean a bit privileged and it’s mostly families – there is a singles group but it’s not very active. But a lot of folks who have moved a few hours away who may be able to give advice.

    3. Whomst*

      Rather than focusing on the exact numbers, figure out what it is that you actually want out of life, and then budget the salary to that. For example, mine would look something like this: 2 bdrm apt, rock climbing gym membership, regular camping trips, eating out 2-3 times a month. Then I’d look at the salary and the costs of all those things at that location and see if it all fits.

      Also, you say you don’t make a ton of money, but you’re getting offers 50K less than you make now? I was making 50K in my first job, and I’m in my 20s so we’re not talking 50K in 70s money. I bring this up just to say that maybe NYC has skewed your perspective of how much you need to live a good life.

      1. Flak Jacket*

        I did that too. I adjusted what I would take to match what I’d like to accomplish. I make 100K. I’m looking to make 60K. I don’t think my perspective is overly skewed. I recognize NYC is unique. I’m not looking to make the same money. I think 60K in a relatively large non-NYC metro city is not a big leap.

    4. Sunflower*

      I totally get how you’re feeling. I would say to do this in this order
      1. Decide what’s more important- finding a career you like or finding a city you like. It doesn’t sound like you’re sure of either so you’re probably just throwing whatever out there and seeing what sticks. Not all cities are good for all job types so another factor to keep in mind.
      2. It’s probably going to be more beneficial to find a city you like first and figure out if the job will work there and if not, what your skills can translate to. Also if you are looking to retire there, it’s going to be all the more important. This is also important because…
      3. It’s very very very hard to get a job in a city without being there first so that could be why you’re not getting great hits off your search. You’ll probably be best off giving yourself a cut off time of saving a up a ton and moving there

      Unfortunately, 15-20% pay bump is what NYC and SF employees in my company get. If you move to remote or another location, you receive the same pay decrease. It’s not totally fair as we’ve got employees in other HCOL regions but you’ll probably be best off switching into a higher paying field if you can.

    5. RagingADHD*

      You may need to look at different types of jobs and industries. Sometimes it’s not just a matter of overall cost of living, but the local job market in a particular sector. They may place more value on different types of jobs.

    6. The Ginger Ginger*

      Is there any way to either work remotely for your current job so you can get out of the city faster, or expand your job search to include remote work? I know it’s not for everyone, and it doesn’t work for every job, but if it could work for you even temporarily it would at least let you leave the city and let you sort the rest after.

    7. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      Would you consider a move to Philadelphia?
      Salaries are pretty good here and in the suburbs surrounding Philly compared to the cost of living. Wilmington Delaware is also a good affordable option.

      The weather, not so much. But who knows? Maybe someday it’ll be beachside property.

  16. Henry Division*

    Not sure if I’m overthinking this follow-up, or lack thereof.

    I applied for part-time side-gig from a job posting on a listserv. My FT job is doing this same kind of work for a fairly well-known project in the industry.

    The posts on the listserv often get dozens of applications within the day, so I actually have a draft ready to go so I can just send a quick email before they cut off apps. I got an email the day after I applied, saying something like “wow, thanks for applying, you’re definitely qualified. We have a lot of applications but we’ll be in touch.” I didn’t reply to this at all, because it was 10pm and I also thought it would just add to their overwhelming emails.

    It’s now been over two weeks and I haven’t heard anything else. Did I make a big mistake by not sending a “Cool, looking forward” reply?

    1. Flak Jacket*

      Maybe. Though to be honest if they’re put off by you not responding “Great, thanks!” then they might have some entitlement issues. But, if you’re still interested, why not send a follow up? Two weeks is a decent amount of time to go by, that I imagine it wouldn’t look out of place or overeager to respond to their message, letting them know you’re still interested and wanted to reach out in case they have any questions (or some such)

    2. LadyByTheLake*

      You already expressed interest by applying — following up on a standard response email was neither here nor there. I would take it at face value that they got a lot of applications and maybe others were more appealing for whatever reason OR that they haven’t yet started pulling people in for interviews — two weeks can be a short time from the hiring side.

    3. PollyQ*

      I would interpret “We’ll be in touch” as a “don’t-call-us-we’ll-call-you” kind of scenario.

  17. Anon for this*

    I just put in my notice. Somebody I’m friendly with asked where I’m going and I told them (they’ll see it on LinkedIn soon enough).

    Apparently our companies have some kind of non-poaching agreement (government contracting, so companies partner up sometimes and have various agreements). There’s no way I could have known about this, but now I’m concerned. If I’m asked point-blank in any of my exit interviews if I was looking, and I say no, it’s possible this could cause some kerfluffle between the companies. On the other hand, I can’t say “yes” in good faith because I wasn’t (at least not when they first contacted me). Any advice?

    1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      A non-poaching agreement is a restraint of trade and almost always illegal. Yes, there are some contracting situations but wink-wink backroom agreements aren’t legal (or ethical).

      If your new company hired you – then there is no “agreement”.

      1. Not Your Trauma Bucket*

        This! There are two companies in my town currently in serious hot water from exactly this. It artificially suppresses wages.

    2. Mrs Peaches*

      I would reach out to the hiring manager for their guidance. I was in this situation once, and when I mentioned it to the hiring manager for my new job, she asked to have their legal department review my non-compete and they determined I was in the clear and gave me some stock answers in case anyone brought it up.

    3. Sloanicota*

      I think a non-poaching agreement (hate that) applies to the company, not you. It typically means they wouldn’t interview you or offer you a job. It may be more relevant to some roles more than others, but it sounds like the company who is hiring you felt okay about it.

    4. Anon for this*

      To clarify: The agreement is apparently between companies, so assuming the person was correct, I should not have had a recruiter reach out to me. Nothing on me, but I do not want to be in the middle of a fight between the two.

      1. Anon for this*

        The comment I got was “it’s okay if YOU reached out to THEM, but they shouldn’t be trying to recruit our people”

        1. Observer*

          It doesn’t matter. It’s almost certainly illegal. And that’s probably why the person who reached out to didn’t realize that it might be a problem – the company cannot put this in writing anywhere!

      2. ScruffyInternHerder*

        Company based or third party recruiter (mostly because I’m curious but I suppose that may play into things)

        The world that I work in has a fair number of these de facto “we won’t call your people” situations. A third party recruiter seems to get around it (feels a bit sketchy still), and its okay if the employee reaches out.

        1. Anon for this*

          That’s an interesting one. It was sort of third party. They had a company email, but we’re not an employee, rather they were contracted. I only know that because I asked something you’d expect any employee might know, like what company ran the 401(k), and it came up. So that might be it. Obviously, I’m not party to the agreement, so I’ve no idea how it’s worded.

      3. voluptuousfire*

        At my last company, we had a list of companies we couldn’t solicit candidates from since they were either competitors or clients of ours. For example, our recruiters couldn’t reach out on LinkedIn to a potential candidate who was currently working for one of those companies.

        If you applied directly to the role and they contacted you for an interview, you’re fine. If they reached out to you if they found you organically, that may be a pickle but I think unlikely. If the recruiter is a contract recruiter working for the company in whatever capacity (as in a recruiter who recruits for the company but is paid by an outside vendor), I still think they would have given them the same spiel as an FTE recruiter for them, as in what companies not to solicit from and info about a non-poachment agreement/non-compete clause.

        I echo the advice to play dumb. Either way, until you were told you had no idea. Keep mum. The recruiter would get in trouble if anything and if you’re a regular worker bee, this would not be an issue, I think. If you were a C-suite exec or above, it could be a big issue. Leadership and all that. I think those agreements are more in mind for higher level employees.

    5. Hanani*

      Could you use language like “I like to keep an eye on trends in the field, and this job unexpectedly came across my radar”?

    6. Observer*

      Apparently our companies have some kind of non-poaching agreement (government contracting, so companies partner up sometimes and have various agreements).

      They certainly don’t have one in writing, because it’s almost certainly illegal. So, play dumb.

  18. Purple Turtle*

    Looking for insight from people who worked a reduced schedule or took medical leave from work while job hunting.

    For background, the medical issues I’m having are from stress from a toxic boss, so I’ve been job hunting for a long time already. I submitted the initial form for short term medical leave (I don’t actually know if it would be approved), and my manager asked me to consider a temporarily reduced schedule instead. It seems as though with either option, I’d use up my handful of accumulated PTO days immediately, which sucks incase I need to take time off to interview at some point. (I guess it would just be unpaid time off so maybe not a huge issue?)

    Right now, all I can think is that it might be better to do the reduced schedule, so that I could immediately give two weeks notice if I were lucky enough to be offered another job. Any advice or thoughts?

    1. Em from CT*

      From past experience taking medical leave, the reduced schedule might work in theory, but you’re gonna want to make sure that they were actually taking work off your plate in addition to reducing your hours. Otherwise they’re just likely to expect you to do all of the work that you used to do, just in a shorter timeframe. Which will not help with the stress!

      1. Been there*

        +1 to this. Took a month off to help a family member after surgery, went back part-time for month 2. Everything except essentially getting the info for a single weekly meeting agenda came back onto my plate, including something I explicitly asked a colleague to keep handling after an “let us know if we can help” comment from that colleague. I was lucky on that my job really only required 25-27 hours of work a week so I could get it all done, but at a pace that left me way less flexibility on my “on” days than I would’ve had if I’d just worked full-time. The full days off were helpful but given the needs of the family member everyday flexibility would’ve been better.

        Also make sure you look into your state’s paid leave policies if they exist!! All the paperwork is a pain and your HR may or may not be as helpful as they should be, but you’re meant to get it if you’re eligible, and you may also be able to use sick days to cover pay if there is a waiting period or to top off pay if you only get a percentage. If you have a lot of sick time banked and know you’ll leave before you could use it all, this may be worth it.

        1. Rinn*

          If FMLA applies to you (employer is govt, or 50 people or more, and you have been there 12 months) it can be used with intermittent leave.

  19. Chidi has a stomach ache*

    My new job is at a pretty large NGO with a strong international presence. They want to strengthen their domestic donor and advocacy base to help support their international work, and I joined a department that was recently re-organized around this goal. As part of the re-org, they are using John Doerr’s “Measure What Matters” and the OKR process as their guide for stretegy and performance evaluations. I’m curious around other people’s experiences with this — positive or negative? Are there any drawbacks to using the OKR framework that I should be aware of? (I come from education previously, so this is all relatively new to me).

    1. Anecdata*

      I’ve spent my career bouncing between tech and non profit worlds, and one concept that translates really well is that the KR (measurable part!) should be the *outcome* your non profit cares most dog about, not just the stuff you are going to do immediately (so if you build schools, your kr should be more like % of elementary school age kids in the area attending; not # of bricks bought)

      1. Anecdata*

        A pitfall to watch out for : OKRs are meant for you to achieve ~80% of. At a lot of orgs, they morph into a performance management tool, and are expected to be bare minimum (ie. you are not meeting expectations if you don’t meet your okrs). That encourages teams to set only safe okrs, and only things that they control directly (ie. We will build 6 features; not We will increase customer retention by 10%) which undermines the whole system

  20. Not Ready to Mingle*

    Is there something like Toastmasters for making small talk? I have no problem with public speaking, but mingling at events and making small talk makes me so anxious. I recently moved into a more visible role where I have to do this more frequently, and I want to work on it. I’ve picked up what I can from observing others, reading books/watching videos on “the art of conversation,” and practiced mingling in low-stakes situations, but I wish I could find a more structured group that teaches you how to make conversation and gives feedback. I have ADHD and don’t always pick up on subtle social cues, but the only social skills training I’ve seen is usually for kids. I’d love to hear ideas that have worked for others!

    1. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      I usually end up hogging the conversation because I feel awkward, so the best advice I have gotten is to ask lots of questions. It gets people talking.

      Now, as to ending a chit chat conversation… I’d love to hear how to do that!

      1. My Report Cards Listed "Excessive Talking" For Years*

        To end a conversation:

        “I’ve had a nice time discussing XYZ with you/with all of you. {I would like to further discuss/send info/get together at a later date (exchange contact details – when appropriate).} Hopefully we can chat again in the future! Have a nice day!/Enjoy the rest of ABC event!”

        You don’t need to make an excuse to escape, although sometimes you might have to sub “I’m sorry, I have to step away now.” (& make a trip to the buffet/restroom/out of the current interaction space) instead of -or- in addition to, “Hopefully we can chat again in the future!”

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I haven’t done it myself, but I’ve seen comments here several times about people taking an improv class.

    3. Cyndi*

      Oh, I hope the answer is yes, because I was just saying to a friend the other day “I wish I had adult supervision to tell me what I’m doing wrong when I socialize, like kids do.” Therapy is great, but it isn’t really the same thing!

    4. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      There’s a fair amount of “small talk” built into Toastmasters, so don’t discount it.

      Or join a group connected to a hobby or interest. It’s a lot easier to “small talk” if it’s about something you love and with someone else who loves it too.

    5. LondonLady*

      1) Questions are good and follow the rule of giving them two questions for every one fact you share. That way you will seem interested in them and have a two way conversation, not simply use them as an audience.

      – ask a question for every fact you share eg “I’m from Anytown, how about you?”
      – then ask a supplementary question which is focusing on them, not you eg “Oh you’re from Smallville, do you still have family there?, do you get back often? etc” NOT “oh yes Smallville makes me think of SOMETHING ABOUT ME”.

      2) Have a few safe topics lined up: food (enjoyment of, not diets); travel; film; sports; pets; etc. and again, listen to their answers and let the conversation go there, rather than making it all about you.

      3) if they share something sad, say “I’m sorry to hear that, do you want to talk about it?”
      If they share something happy, say “That’s amazing, tell me more!”

      You’ll rapidly get a reputation as a good conversationalist by being a good and interested listener!

      1. My Report Cards Listed "Excessive Talking" For Years*

        These are great suggestions! Thanks!

        (I do this in more friends type interactions, but tend to over share a bit, so I don’t tend to use it as much in professional ones.)

      2. Siege*

        Seconding all this. 90% of making people like you and think you are a sparkling conversationalist is talking about them. I noticed this phenomenon in college with a friend who was very, very accomplished at picking up people, and realized quickly that his strategy was to turn the conversation almost immediately to the other party, and then visibly pay attention to the answers. I doubt he retained the answers, but the combo of asking about the other person (using the tips LondonLady suggested) and the visible attention made talking to him feel very warm and positive.

        1. Spearmint*

          Although it’s important to not take this too far in the other direction either. For a long time I was really good at asking questions and letting people talk, but I was really cagey and reluctant to share much beyond very basic facts about myself (due to social anxiety and not wanting to seem self-centered). I found the result was people enjoyed the conversation in the moment but I didn’t really build any sort of lasting relationship, and people would often forget about me.

          1. Random Dice*

            I very much notice when people do this, are a mirror that reflects light towards others but leaves them in the dark. It bums me out and makes me feel like they must have some sad self-talk or trust issues.

          2. LondonLady*

            The question was about small talk! But agree that as you build relationships it’s appropriate to share more.

    6. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      The Parks & Rec department I work for offers classes on exactly this for adults. It’s not terribly common and where it exists it’s usually part of adaptive programming, but with an ADHD diagnosis you may be a welcome addition to their group too! It’s worth looking up, and if it’s not something they offer you can suggest it! I’ve also seen this kind of programming at local libraries. :)

    7. Somehow_I_Manage*

      The best solution is just practice. Keep pushing and attending these events. Ideally, these events should gather people that you have at least some familiarity with, and the more you go to, the more familiar you get. The goal is to do your homework, know who these folks are, and know what to bring up around them. Ideally, you’d talk about work!

      “Hi Sheila, nice to see you? Have you been in touch with Terry at our firm about the outreach effort? He speaks so highly of your team!”

      Inevitably, you’ll be at some events where you don’t know anybody and have little in common. Fundraisers are a common one. Those are a grind. Power though, smile, approach people, but don’t feel bad if it doesn’t go well.

    8. My Report Cards Listed "Excessive Talking" For Years*

      I promise that you aren’t alone!!!

      The BEST work-around for me (to help me) without relying on social cues:

      I have a personal rule that I can’t talk about anything for more than a paragraph (3-5 sentences… 3 preferably, 5 max).

      I’m then required to ask a leading question to the person I’m speaking with, so they get a ‘turn’ to talk.

      If they want me to continue, they have the option to ask me to keep going, but they get a chance to speak to actually tell me this.

      (Example Q’s: Asking for feedback/opinions. Give them an option to change the subject if they seem unengaged. How they like the venue, city, event, place we’re at. What they feel/have personal opinion/insight about the topic I just talked about. How do they feel about – general views – on a related topic. Brief initial/ice breaker contact can ask about their position/career, the weather, traffic, drinks available, etc.)

      When I’m talking to strangers/networking, I try to keep my initial chatter *on topic* (work/event related), not personal, & more concise. I don’t elaborate &/or give examples/discuss how this relates to me on a personal level (unless truly necessary).

      Make sure to actively listen to the person’s response *without* thinking about your next question &/or your questions on what they are saying. (I’ve found this is my most difficult thing & why I have a bad habit of interrupting to ‘ask before I forget’, which I’m constantly working on.)

      Move on after a few interchanges/a set amount of time (5-15 minutes typically, depending on situation), offer to exchange contact info (if appropriate), & you can always circle back around after you’ve networked as much as is required by your position (if time allows).

      Practice the ‘short paragraph’ format with people who will give you honest feedback – family, friends, close coworkers. Pick a topic that’s more professional/work type conversation, then take turns starting (& gracefully ending) chit chat conversations. Have your friends give feedback on how you kept to the topic, didn’t take over, & if they felt the conversation was 2 sided.

      Hopefully this helps!

      I have missed the social cues of I *when* I should have *stopped talking* way more than I should have (& accidentally ‘discovered’ this when I was read relationship/self help books… attempting to fix my dysfunctional romantic relationships… which I should have left years before x2).

      I wasn’t diagnosed with ADHD-I until a few years ago (I’m in my 40s) & the only ‘hyperactive’ trait I have is the talking… about stuff… for a LONG time.

      I’m perceived as ‘very social’, but I’m definitely an introverted extrovert. I can engage/talk to anyone, about pretty much anything – it’s been suggested that I haven’t ever met a stranger (at the same time, I’m also perfectly content to not talk to anyone for 2 weeks).

      Knowing I have ADHD (& researching the topic) has also given me further awareness to pay attention to my tendency to just keep talking… long after the initial topic is gone.

      1. Random Dice*

        I posted before about the Michelle Garcia Winner book Curiously Social, Socially Curious.

        It blew my ADHD brain, and my ADHD husband’s brain.

        Like you, I spent decades systematically pouring together the social rules that neurotypical people just pick up (mostly). It was such a relief to see it all laid out so logically.

    9. DisneyChannelThis*

      Don’t use the self checkouts. Wait in the line for the cashier. Ask the cashier how their day is going or say “can you believe this weather”. Harmless and low stakes 15 second verbal interactions. But lots of them. Build up that confidence so initiating small talk doesn’t feel weird anymore. Also bonus if in the long line for cashier you start having small talk with those around you – the number of times I end up with old ladies telling me about their shopping is pretty high (Can you believe bananas are 40cents a lb!).

    10. Not Ready to Mingle*

      Thanks so much for the tips!! I actually have the opposite problem of a lot of others with ADHD — I ask too many questions and can’t think of anything to say. I also hate talking about myself. I will keep practicing that and try out the suggestions here.

    11. lemon*

      Maybe check out Skip The Small Talk. They host events in a handful of cities and also have online events. They focus on helping you learn how to have meaningful conversations with strangers in speed date-like setting (but with absolutely no romantic expectations). If you can learn to have meaningful convos, small talk convos should, in theory, get easier. :)

    12. Random Dice*

      Fellow ADHDer here who dreads small talk with strangers.

      I love Michelle Garcia Winner’s book Curiously Social, Socially Curious (get used on eBay). Every single chapter blew my mind.

      I’ve also found it helpful to answer yes/no questions (have you read/seen/done X) that are no’s for me by asking what they enjoy / find interesting about it.

    13. Jinni*

      I suggest both Captivate and Cues by Vanessa Van Edwards. They’re books, but may be worth listening to in audio for the nuance. Also, she has videos on her website and YT. I believe it’s

  21. Mrs Peaches*

    Does anyone have general advice on navigating work with an invisible condition/disability? I’m struggling with how to talk to my boss about a chronic pain condition that’s starting to impact my ability to focus and I sometimes need to take PTO but I don’t look “sick”.

    It’s a neurological condition that causes sudden, intense, unpredictable bursts of pain but isn’t visible (aside from the occasional wince when an attack is particularly painful). I’m working with multiple doctors to figure out the cause and treatment options, but right now I don’t have many answers. The one thing I know is that stress seems to make it worse. On the outside I look healthy, but I’m totally burnt out most days. I don’t sleep well; the attacks make it hard to focus and the not-knowing is taking a toll on my mental health. If I take a day off, it’s not because I’m in too much pain to work but because I’m desperate for rest. I feel a lot of pressure to be judicious about taking PTO.

    At my last job I would’ve felt comfortable explaining all this to my manager and taking time off as needed. However I’m at a new job and the culture is less supportive of sick days – plus my boss is a gossip and I’m not comfortable sharing a lot of personal information. I don’t know exactly what I’m looking for here, but any advice or suggestions would be appreciated.

    1. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      Imagine it’s a migraine… Something people are familiar with, but isn’t so visible. Maybe try to talk about it like it’s that, but without naming a diagnosis.

    2. porcinefrancine*

      You could be describing my situation, save for a few key details. My company culture is very supportive of sick days generally, I’m just starting to get the feeling that my coworkers are tired of working around me being sick. And my boss isn’t a gossip, and respects personal boundaries. Unfortunately, I don’t have any good advice, just commiseration. When you need rest, nothing but rest will solve your problem. If HR is good, it may be worthwhile to loop them in and discuss how you don’t feel like you can take PTO even though you need it and your health is suffering. It might also be worth investigating different ways of squeezing in rest – I once got FMLA to cover me working part-time for a couple months, since that was easier on the business and easier on me financially than just taking a month off cold turkey.

    3. J*

      I have several hidden disabilities, including some with nerve pain. I’ve gotten other accommodations (work at home) but I’ve planned to move ahead with intermittent FMLA as needed because I have grown sick of budgeting my PTO for pain days when I need them to reduce my stress so I have fewer pain days. I’ve also made more conscious choices about jobs I accept, trying to limit any that might push me into a promotion path. I really excel at what I do so everyone wants to ask more of me but I really need lower stress roles to avoid medical spells. I try to have the conversation about career goals with my boss and anything else goes the HR route. The most recent time I injured myself, I did it with a hobby and it was kind of nice to know my workplace safeguards kept me in a good place to recover from my hyperfocus on quilting that definitely killed my arm for 10 days.

    4. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      Ugh, this sounds awful. I have a cluster of chronic illnesses, and yours sounds a lot like one that is common with my diseases. I’m lucky to work in an academic medicine environment, so my boss is a physician and medical researcher, so I’ve just told him what’s going on with me.

      In your situation, I think you can be vague – that you’re sick and you need some time off; that you’re working with a team of doctors to find a solution. Alison tends to advocate for vagueness here, and I think it makes a lot of senes.

      I know this isn’t what you’re asking, but you mentioned the worry about the not-knowing (same, friend!!). I wanted to share that seeing a counsellor that specializes in chronic illness was so helpful for me. When I was bed bound last spring for 6 weeks, mine was so, so helpful. She overall wasn’t a great match for me after I became mobile again, but my new (general) counsellor, who I picked to work on my anxiety with, is being so helpful as we navigate my newest symptoms. Apparently what I needed was someone who says “WHOA last week your doc thought maybe brain tumour but now she’s thinking you need a shunt or a spinal fusion NO WONDER YOU’RE ANXIOUS let’s feel those feelings” for 50 mins every week. (Well, that and starting back on anxiety medication, which is helping me manage the nervous system/stress driven aspects of my issues, and which I’d recommend considering since the worrying is making the your symptoms worse.) I also recommend to most folks with rarer illnesses like ours to find some online community – reddit, twitter, and IG are all places that help me feel seen and validated in my body’s weird way of moving through this world.

    5. Prospect gone bad*

      I think you should talk to them. I feel like the invisible or invisible disability thing is a dichotomy that gets too much attention. The only situation it should come up as when it comes to handicap parking. Most people in corporate America understand very well that not everything is a visible!

      I don’t consider telling them you have a condition to be disclosing a huge amount of personal information. And if they gossip, that’s a them problem. You can’t not do what’s necessary or needed based on the fact that they might gossip.

    6. SofiaDeo*

      If you have a gossipy boss, IME the less said the better. Something sort of along the lines of: You: “I need to schedule some time off to see my doc (whenever, 2 weeks from this week, early next month, specific date/times if you know in advance) /I need to take tomorrow off, I can feel an attack coming on and I want to prevent several days’ illness which getting into bed ASAP will help mitigate”. Not knowing your Boss (other than a gossip), being vague is always OK. You can always plead “I don’t remember whatbthe doc told me.” Not everyone Googles every test theor doc orders, or even drugs they are prescribed. “Well, I’ll let you know if my doc says I need more testing.” You can pretend to be one of those people who really don’t bother to get super involved with the details of medical stuff.

      Re: having an “invisible disability”….I am not so sure your problem is more “navigating work with invisible disability” as it might be “gossipy boss you don’t want to tell stuff to.” I happen to have a leukemia, and while *I* can tell I am not looking 100%, people who don’t know me don’t have the perception that “I look sick.” If I get called out on stuff (having a handicap placard, for instance, and parking in a handicap spot when going i to a store) when I am challenged or get comments that I “don’t look sick” I often look at the person like I am confused while saying something like “not everyone who is sick looks sick”. Then I drop it.

      Your boss really doesn’t need to know the details. If Boss makes comments about your PTO use, you can comment back with something like “I know, my docs are considering if I need to ask for a formal FMLA accommodation or ADA consideration.” Which hopefully would shut them up, but who knows, it might only fan the flames of curiosity.

      Neurological stuff is tough, I hope you get some answers soon.

  22. No Tribble At All*

    How do I maintain a good working relationship with someone who doesn’t respect me?

    I’m one of two generalists on a team of specialists. The other generalist, “Steve”, is a workaholic. He was supposed to be on PTO this week. He kept checking our automated alerts on Slack and forwarded ones that occurred at 9pm to our team channel. I’ve previously confirmed with our bosses that we’re only expected to work 9-5. So while he’s on PTO, I’m the only one responsible for responding to those automated alerts, which I’m fine with. His insistence on working absurd hours is driving me up the walls.

    I told him that when forwards the alerts on PTO, it feels like he’s undermining the team, because he’s saying we can’t do our jobs if he’s not there. He didn’t even respond to that; he just said that if he can “respect our working hours” then we can respect his.

    Bro if I’m the only person responsible for something, and you’re checking in *on your PTO* because you don’t think I’m going to respond fast enough… despite the fact that our bosses have said my response rate is fine… he’s saying I’m in competent. And when I brought up that his actions are saying that, he completely ignored my point.

    I’m so frustrated and upset. It honestly feels like he’s ignoring everything I say because I’m a woman (this is not the only example). I’m not looking forward to him coming back from PTO. I have no idea how I’m going to be in the same office, much less work with him, when he clearly doesn’t respect me. Any advice??

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      You’re taking this personally and it’s not personal. He’s not forwarding these alerts because he thinks you’re incompetent, he’s doing it because he isn’t capable of NOT doing it.

      If there is a work issue being caused, then talk to your boss and ask him to intervene. You’ve spoken with your boss, you’ve confirmed the expectations he has for you, so don’t worry about what your coworker is doing.

      1. Random Dice*

        This. It’s not about you.

        He’s addicted. Digital addiction and workaholism and needing to feel needed.

        Addicts don’t find the loss of their drug relaxing. PTO is not the good place for him, it’s the bad place.

        Don’t let this be so personal. Mentally just started saying “of that Steve, lol” and smile, like he’s just so SILLY.

    2. kiki*

      I think interpreting his bad habit of working on PTO as him deciding you’re incompetent is reading a bit too much into this, unless there is more info to pair with this. It seems more likely that Steve is a workaholic who feels a compulsion to always be working. If your manager is okay with your response rate and Steve is just “bringing things to your attention” in Slack, it feels like it’s safe to just ignore him. Or respond to each of his posts within your work hours with something like, “Hey Steve, I know you’re on PTO. Don’t worry about these– I’ve got this.”

      It’s annoying for sure, but I think it’s more about him than you or anyone else on your team.

    3. What She Said*

      This is totally a him problem. Nothing you say or do will get a workaholic to stop working. I have a very dear friend who does this. If Steve wants to waste his PTO working that is his choice. Feel free to ignore him.

      1. WestsideStory*

        Yes, ignore, grey rock, don’t respond to anything he does on Slack after 9pm.

        I’ve seen these folks, and if they think it will annoy you to the point of you quitting, they will just do it more.

      1. Observer*

        Yes, he needs to get a life. How is that the OP’s issue? No one is expecting them to jump on Steve’s “notifications, so there is no real impact on the OP.

    4. Irish Teacher*

      Honestly, I doubt he is saying you’re incompetent. It’s possible, but it’s far more likely that he simply enjoys his job and is interested to see what is going on when he’s on PTO or that he has anxiety and worries that he has overlooked something or that he is just in the habit of doing it.

      There is nothing at all here to indicate he doesn’t respect you, though I know you have said there are other examples, so it may well be that he doesn’t, but there is really nothing here to indicate it.

      Has he said that he doesn’t think you are responding fast enough? If he hasn’t, then I wouldn’t assume he thinks that. Checking in wouldn’t usually indicate that.

      I think this is one of those things best ignored. He is making life difficult for himself, but it doesn’t sound like it is making your job any more difficult so just shrug and figure “if he wants to make work for himself.”

    5. RagingADHD*

      You will be able to get along with him if you change the story you are telling yourself about this (and other ) annoying habit of his. And if you mute notifications from the team channel outside of work hours.

      This “disrespect” is not clear, nor an objective fact. It is an interpretation you are placing onto the events – a story you are telling yourself. You could decide instead to tell yourself the story: “poor Steve has such a problem, he can’t even enjoy his vacation. Well, it’s not my job to try to fix his personal problems. Thank goodness!”

      1. Observer*

        “poor Steve has such a problem, he can’t even enjoy his vacation. Well, it’s not my job to try to fix his personal problems. Thank goodness!”

        Yes. This sounds like a very probable read on the situation.

    6. Observer*

      I’m not looking forward to him coming back from PTO. I have no idea how I’m going to be in the same office, much less work with him, when he clearly doesn’t respect me. Any advice??

      You need to reframe your thinking. He likes to work. That’s his thing and has nothing to do with you or whether he respects you.

      Do your thing, send him what needs to go to him, check in with your boss(es) periodically to make sure you’re getting done what you need to get done. And stop paying so much attention to what he does.

    7. lemon*

      Ugh, this would drive me nuts. My boss is the same way and it also makes me feel undermined even though rationally, I know he’s just doing it because he’s compulsive and it’s not personal. I’ve had some moderate success pushing back with him by framing my concerns as being about me missing out on learning and growth opportunities. For example: “when you responded to X request before I had a chance to respond, I didn’t get a chance to learn Y, which is important for me to learn because Reasons. In the future, I’d appreciate the chance to learn Y by doing more X tasks.” I think framing it that way makes it feel like less of a competition of skills between the two of us, and there’s a little bit of an ego boost built in because I’m implying that he’s already skilled at a thing and I’m not. But when I’m not actually missing out on an opportunity, I try to let it go. If he wants to burn himself out, that’s on him and I’m happy to work reasonable hours.

    8. Samwise*

      Yeah, I understand. Some years ago I had a colleague who would “help” me on projects, doing this or that task which I had either scheduled to do at a different time, or had already started (hence duplicated effort), or had determined should not be done at all. I told her — you have to check with me first, because you’re making me look like an incompetent slacker. When she said, oh no one thinks that! I went right to our boss and said, I know she means well, but it has to stop. He told her to stop.

      Took a bit for it to stick, but eventually I was able to do my own work myself.

      The problem with Steve is that 1. You are right, some folk are going to wonder why you aren’t doing your job and 2. Some people are going to feel they ought to be responding to these alerts in off hours. He needs to cut it out and let you do your job. Is there any way to block him from seeing or forwarding alerts while he is out of the office?

      Sure, it’s his problem that he won’t stop working even when he’s purportedly on PTO. But it’s getting in the way of OP doing her job.

  23. Stretchy McGillicuddy*

    It it ok to bring up poor Glassdoor ratings in interviews? I am job hunting and recently had two interviews with really bad ratings on Glassdoor. Job #1, when asked, had a well-thought out, prepared answer to the question. Basically the outlined what went wrong to have so many employees so unhappy, and what they have done to address specific issues. (Mostly, fire a few problem managers, provide management training to remaining managers.) I felt satisfied they took the issue seriously and valued having happy employees.

    Job #2 had no idea what I was talking about and asked me to read the reviews out loud to them on the spot. It was very awkward. The call abruptly ended and by the end of the day someone from the organization personally replied to all negative reviews basically blaming them for all the problems. By the end of the week they had added about a dozen five-star reviews that, especially knowing the context, had a “blink twice if you are being held against your will” vibe to them. Now I feel like I did something wrong because 1) they were clearly pressuring staff to write positive reviews and 2) other potential candidates, not knowing the context, may be walking into an office culture they did NOT sign up for. All in all, I just feel like I made a huge mistake bringing it to their attention.

    Did I break an unspoken rule of not telling companies about their Glassdoor reviews? After the second experience I feel like I don’t want to do it again, but it really is helpful to know if a company is addressing and taking seriously employee complaints.

    1. Decidedly Me*

      You didn’t do anything wrong. Does it suck that they likely forced a bunch of 5 star reviews? Yes, but that can always happen. The bad ones are still there, though, and their awful replies to it. Anyone doing their due diligence will see that.

    2. kiki*

      You didn’t break an unspoken rule! Job #2 is just terrible. And I wouldn’t worry as much about potential candidates– even if their rating is boosted, I think most people know that a bunch of recent five star reviews following a period of bad ones is super suspicious. And they can see that the organization responded adversarially to the initial bad ones.

      You did everything right and determined that company 2 is awful!

      1. Sherm*

        Agreed — Don’t worry about people being duped by Job #2. Those five-star ratings are usually very obviously phony, and the text often gives the real situation anyway. Things like “You will never leave the office, and it’s non-stop stress, but it’s GREAT!”

    3. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      I wouldn’t bring up Glassdoor reviews in an interview, no. The presumption should be that you have read them before agreeing to an interview, and if you’re going ahead with it then you must be OK with them. I imagine that companies who don’t know about Glassdoor, or aren’t aware of what their reviews say, are extreme outliers at this point in time. I wouldn’t even interview with a company that had terrible reviews across the board.

      1. ecnaseener*

        But then you wouldn’t ever interview with the Job #1s of the world, who are honest about problems and can demonstrate a commitment to fixing them.

      2. Decidedly Me*

        Why not bring them up? It gives you a lot of data on the company in how they react to feedback, steps they take to address issues, etc. I don’t think taking an interview means you are by default ok with anything the company’s reviews state. You don’t have all the information yet to make that determination and the interview is an opportunity to get more information.

        Bad reviews can also say awful things that just aren’t accurate. If you reject interviewing at any company that has a review that sounds like something you don’t like, you could end up rejecting a bunch that are great places to work. My company has an overall good Glassdoor rating, but one of our most recent is a bad rating from an ex-employee stating that we ruin people’s lives by hiring them, not training them, faulting them for getting things wrong, and then firing them. The reality? She missed 2/3rds of her first couple of months (not due to hardships, childcare, or anything like that; we’ve always worked with people on those, whether they are on day 1 or day 1000 with us). We rescheduled all trainings so she didn’t miss anything, but despite extra time and coaching, she still couldn’t grasp the basic fundamentals of the role.

        1. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

          That’s why I said bad reviews across the board, not just a portion of the reviews being bad. I look for a mixed bag, because those are the most likely to have real/accurate overall ratings.

          If all the reviews are positive, that flags for me that there has likely been some interference by the company (even though the site supposedly has safeguards in place to prevent that). If they’re all negative, that means it’s likely to actually be a terrible place to work.

          It’s also important to look at things like how recent the reviews are, the titles of the people reviewing, etc. It’s not a black and white thing. But I still wouldn’t bring it up in the interview. I find it too risky for not enough potential reward. YMMV.

      3. WellRed*

        Not only can you bring up glass door reviews, you can bring up negative news and lawsuits and anything else publicly available that might factor into your decision making!

    4. EMP*

      There’s nothing stopping companies from reading their own reviews. You may have brought it to their attention but I think you did the right thing here!

    5. Qwerty*

      Job 2 acted really weird. There is an interview section of glassdoor where you can review your candidate experience. It would probably be helpful to post something there.

      When bringing up Glassdoor reviews, it is better to bring up an issue that was consistently mentioned rather than “you have bad ratings”. Assume the reviewer hasn’t read any of the reviews. If you bring up something specific, it’s easier as an interviewer to respond in a helpful manner.

    6. Observer*

      Did I break an unspoken rule of not telling companies about their Glassdoor reviews? After the second experience I feel like I don’t want to do it again, but it really is helpful to know if a company is addressing and taking seriously employee complaints.

      Why would you not do it again? You found out some REALLY important information. And unless they were able to get the bad reviews taken down, someone who is checking Glassdoor will see the sudden switch, which is already a signal to do some digging.

    7. 1LFTW*

      Adding my voice to those that are saying you did a good thing! Bringing up those reviews in the interview taught you a great deal about both companies.

      Those “blink twice if you’re being held against your will” reviews aren’t fooling anyone. GlassDoor indicates *when* reviews are left (weeks ago, months ago, years ago) so users can tell whether things are on an upward or downward trend. If the terrible reviews have been showing up over the course of months or years, and there’s suddenly a cluster of cult-like praise from within the past few weeks, it’s pretty clear to users what’s happened.

  24. John Edwardson*

    I had an initial interview with a recruiter, who then said he’d pass me on and “Connected” in LinkedIn. The manager has now requested to Connect. I’ve not even met him yet so it feels pushy. Should I just do it?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      You don’t have to, but if you’re really interested in the job, it won’t hurt. I don’t think that’s particularly pushy– it’s a LinkedIn request, he’s not texting you or anything– and the manager is probably hoping to get a good look at your professional profile before speaking with you.

    2. AnonyFriday*

      I’m not really sure what your objection is? Connecting on LinkedIn is the lowest, simplest, easiest form of professional connecting–you’re not even sharing your email or phone number. Plus, the recruiter told you this was going to happen.

      I’m baffled by what you wanted to happen instead.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Agree. Plus you can see the manager’s connections and see if you know any of them and thus get inside scoop!

      2. Random Dice*

        Exactly. They just basically requested to see your resume, your professional compartment, and other details like “oh you enjoy rowing / basketweaving too?”

    3. Roland*

      I don’t see how it’s pushy, it’s not Facebook. You can always unconnect after the interview if you want.

    4. RagingADHD*

      Only if you are interested in the job you applied for. The hiring manager wanting to connect is a sign they are interested in you. Why would you not?

      LinkedIn is not IG or Facebook. Its entire purpose is to make career connections.

  25. Case Management?*

    Does anyone work in/have experience regarding case management? I’m looking for resources about training, best practices, etc. in case management. I’ll be moving from teaching towards coordinating resources & services for students/families.

    1. Mimmy*

      I don’t know where you live but the School of Social Work at my nearby university offers a certificate in case management as part of their continuing education program. Perhaps a school of social work near you has a similar program. Topics covered at this particular school include building a “helping” relationship, case planning, advocacy skills and working with other agencies, among other topics. (Note: Although I have attended some of the school’s CE workshops, I never pursued any certificates, so I can’t personally speak to their value). If there is a specific population or issue you want to work with, e.g., child welfare, low-income seniors, training focused on these areas is also recommended. In all likelihood, you should not need to be an alumnus of the particular school to attend their CE programs.

  26. Tiny clay insects*

    When people refer to a terrible, dysfunctional office as being full of bees, does anyone else feel bad because of how important bees are, and how they need to be protected? (Or am I the only ridiculous person?) May I offer hornets or wasps as an alternative? :-)

      1. Tiny clay insects*

        Ah, yes, if the bees were specifically evil, that does make a difference. But murder hornets is pretty perfect.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Humans are important and deserve protection too, so I don’t think “full of bees” implies anything about the value of bees! It means it’s an unpleasant and possibly dangerous place to be and you should leave.

    2. LizW*

      Well, since all these insects are important pollinators in their own right…but I get your point.
      As with any modern lingo I am sure this too shall pass!

    3. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      As someone who leans on honey and mead more than most, I do.

      I’d call them dens of mushrooms, but I doubt anyone would get that.

    4. Bagpuss*

      To be honest, I do a little, not least because a well as their value, bees are typically pretty chilled and mind their own business. Murder hornets or angry bees might work.

      Mind you, I don’t find bees scary even though they could kill me, but I am terrified of ants, which are harmless, so maybe I’m not the best test audience!

    5. Sungold*

      But hornets and wasps are also pollinators and important to the ecosystem!

      I care a lot about all pollinators, but the full of bees analogy doesn’t bother me. I immediately get a mental image of an angry hive, which seems to fit the situation well. Or, as in the case of my grandfather who kept a few hives, an image of a beekeeper who treats their charges (coworkers) gingerly due to the danger they are capable of, while remaining suited up for safety.

      In my country honeybees are a non-native species, and are basically livestock. They have a role to play in agriculture but can also destabilize native ecosystems by competing with native bees, so the question of “protecting” them is complicated. The native bees in my country are mostly solitary and definitely do need protection.

      1. Random Dice*

        Native (Americas) bees primarily live in the ground, or in holes or hollow stems.

        Leave bare dirt spots if you can for burrowing native bees, and leave dead foliage over the winter as a home.

    6. I remain. . . Anatole*

      Yellow jackets. Sting you just because, and as soon as look at you. I know they have beneficial roles, but if I were going to characterize a place full of scary flying stinging guys, it would be them.

      Also I used to keep bees, and at least they die when they sting you. . .

    7. RagingADHD*

      No, because it was originally a very specific reference to a type of horror movie trope that never had anything to do with literal bees in the first place.

      We keep actual, physical bees in our backyard and I assure you that the use of metaphorical meme bees on the internet has never done them any harm.

    8. Alex*

      Bees are important, but if your home/office is full of them, that’s a big problem. Even for the bees!

    9. Random Dice*

      I do!!

      But even wasps have a crucial role in keeping the destructive bugs like aphids under control. They do it horribly, using methods that make me feel dizzy just thinking about, but… aphids are born pregnant. We need wasps.

      And ladybugs. Their larval form is a murder crocodile, and that’s exactly what they do.

  27. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    Sure. The number one thing is – YOU DO NOT HAVE A JOB OFFER IN HAND.

    So the question of “What do I do? I don’t know what to do! What do I do?” is not (yet) applicable to you. What you SHOULD do is keep looking, if you’re anxious to get out of your current situation. Never assume that an interview that seemed to go very well will end up as an offer of employment.

    Now, the situation with Company B. BE CAREFUL! If you accept employment with a company that’s under suspicion due to bosses having their hands in the jam jar, it could impact your career going forward. “Oh, you worked at Company B, where several of the executives went to jail? Uh, ok….”

    1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      A non-poaching agreement is a restraint of trade and almost always illegal. Yes, there are some contracting situations but wink-wink backroom agreements aren’t legal (or ethical).

      If your new company hired you – then there is no “agreement”. (this reply was to Eva, the first post in this thread)

  28. Ormond Sackler*

    I’m not exactly sure what advice I’m looking for, but I’m really thinking of moving on from my current company after only a year and looking for other roles. They aren’t really giving me much to do (although I’m doing a good job with what they give me), but other people are completely snowed under with work, to the point they have zero work-life balance, so there isn’t a ton to look forward to as far as that goes. They aren’t underpaying me, but it’s at the lower end of the scale and I could likely make more somewhere else.

    I’m a little nervous about jumping ship so early, and I feel like I’m letting the organization and manager that gave me a chance down, but…I could use more money, and want to actually do stuff, but still have time to actually see my family. Anyone else been there?

    Also…before working for this company I wasn’t aware just how little some executives/middle management saw their kids. I was talking to the president of the company and he mentioned he’d been home for something like four days total in the last three weeks, and I didn’t get the feeling that was unusual. I’m sure he’s well compensated but that doesn’t seem worth it.

    1. Stretchy McGillicuddy*

      You are allowed to leave any job you want, for any reason you want! You didn’t take a “til death do us part” vow. It’s normal, especially early in your career, to bounce around a bit until you find the right fit career/culture-wise. It’s part of learning what role works best for you. A year is perfectly fine.

  29. Flowers*

    Figured this group would be helpful – are there any open-office appropriate flower plants I can place at my desk/cubicle?

    1. urguncle*

      We have a few Pothos and they seem to require a minimal amount of light, are pretty hardy and can live both in just water as well as soil. They also propagate well, so if you don’t want to go and buy one, just a cutting from another plant will result in your own plant in a few months. We have one that’s a few years old that was 2 leaves in a plastic water cup and has grown to about 2 feet across and we trim it down every few months.

    2. FearNot*

      I have a pothos, anthurium and a tradescantia/inch plant that does great in my office. I also have a peace lily that doesn’t bloom but does provide a lot of green foliage.

    3. ENFP in Texas*

      If you want something that actually flowers, maybe an African violet? Or an Anthurium, which puts up pretty, colored leaves but doesn’t actually have flowers.

      1. Linds Eyre*

        Seconding the Anthurium – it thrives on neglect basically. I have mine on a drafty windowsill at home where it doesn’t get much light and I water it like once a week and it’s thriving. It even grew a new red leaf lol.

    4. Diatryma*

      Kalanchoe blooms, as does Christmas cactus. African violet is less likely to take over the cube, though. And lithops are very pretty when they bloom.

    5. Employee No. 24601*

      Stromanthe Triostar don’t flower like you’re probably thinking, but are very colorful and can still thrive in lower light settings

    6. LondonLady*

      A small Choisya can be good, does not need too much water or direct sunlight, just an appropriate size pot for its roots, and can be pruned to stay compact. If it thrives too well you can replant in a garden and get a new baby one for the office!

    7. DistantAudacity*

      Lego runs a nice line of flowers as part of their Lego Botanical Collection :)
      Only requires the occasional dusting!

      1. LimeRoos*

        This too!!! Seconding Lego flowers!

        And they’re pretty realistic – I regularly have them on our fireplace mantle and people don’t realize they’re Lego until the go up to them. They have an orchid, succulents, mixed bouquet, bonsai (green or pink blooms, you can change it up), bird of paradise, wildflower bouquet (new), and dried flower centerpiece (new, can connect w/ multiple). Those are the bigger ones, they also do small packs of sunflowers, roses, daffodils, and tulips. I have everything except the centerpiece (new, will get for Thanksgiving lol), and the tulips since I don’t think they look as good as the other flowers yet (I’m hoping they upgrade the build).

    8. LimeRoos*

      Home depot has a great selection of small plants if you want to browse and see in person, some of which are already in this thread. For blooming plants – peace lilies, kalanchoe, anthurium, cyclamen, african violet, orchids, christmas cactus, poinsettia, gerbera daisies. Non blooming/cool leaves – ferns, palms, spider plant, bamboo, succulents.

      A lot of these are also super easy to take care of, and can be kept alive for a long time – my mom has kept cyclamen, african violets, succulents, poinsettias, and gerbera daisies alive for 5 to 15 years depending on plant (they’re still going strong except I think the poinsettia finally went). No idea how she does it, but yeah…

    9. DrSalty*

      Peace lilies are a good bet for dim lighting. The greenery will grow, but to get good blooms you do need bright (indirect) light. This is true of almost all flowering plants tbh.

    10. Chauncy Gardener*

      Succulents. African Violets. And some begonias would work well. Peace lilies. Mother-in-law tongues.
      These are all low maintenance, lower light plants

    11. The Ginger Ginger*

      If you don’t need one that actually flowers, ZZ plants are pretty great. Unlike most succulents, they actually do just fine in low light. And they have thick waxy leaves and stems that hang onto water for a long time, so they do well with a little neglect. You’re more likely to kill them with over-watering than under-. They’re a lovely dark green, and a pleasing shape, and new stems are a very pretty lime green.

  30. Hanni*

    I work in a creative field where our team have very measurable output (let’s say we paint teapots — it’s not quite that but it’s similar). Previously, our team has all had very concrete output goals (think “x number of teapots painted per week”). There often were weeks when we’d need to exceed those goals, but we had a minimum we had to meet. This goal was very serious — people were put on PIPs for not meeting it.

    Recently, our old manager retired and our team was taken over by a new manager, Peter. He has said that he feels we were not doing enough projects under our previous manager, and he needs us doing more. But he has not told us how much more — just that we need to “up our output”. The problem is that most of us have lots of other responsibilities as well (managing other teapot painters, meeting with clients, organizing orders, etc.). We were already having to work very long hours and through weekends in order to meet the previous goal that we had, and will need to reshuffle other priorities and hand off other duties in order to consistently put out more. (Our team has brought this up to him before, and he’s just said we need “better time management”.)

    I told Peter in a recent meeting with him that I was happy to produce more if that was what he wanted, but that I needed to know how much more he needed from me so that I could work it into my schedule. He was annoyed by this question, and said I needed to focus on “doing my best work” and less on outputting a specific number (but also repeated that he needed more than what I was currently doing). He also made a comment that I couldn’t just be trying to “coast by on the bare minimum”.

    Am I off base in being annoyed by this? I have every intention of doing my best work, but I have no idea how to proceed if I don’t know how much more I need to be putting out in order to keep my job. Is this something worth continuing to push? If not (or if Peter just refuses to give us a goal), any advice on how to proceed?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      This is the restaurant manager from Office Space. “How many pieces of flair do you want me to wear?”

      You are not off base at all. Peter is just vaguely saying your work isn’t good enough, but not telling you specifically what else he wants.

      I suppose you could say “Peter, last month I painted 30 basic teapots and 15 large-format custom teapots, in addition to doing X, Y, and Z. Are you looking for me to do 40 and 25? 30 and 30? The same number of teapots but make sure at least 80% of them get 5-star reviews and at least 100 engagements from our social media postings?” Maybe he’ll respond to that, but I have my doubts.

      1. What She Said*

        I would not give him numbers like this. He’ll just pick one that sounds good to him. He clearly does not know what he wants from the team. So until he does seems to me he is saying what you are doing is working fine.

        I had a boss like this once. I cannot nor will guess what you want. When you figure out what it is you can let me know.

    2. Bagpuss*

      No, you aren’t off base. He’s not giving you anything to work on and it also sounds as though he is not factoring in the other , less easily measurable stuff.

      It may be worth going back to him to ask which of the other things you should be stopping or doing less of in order to increase the number of teapots painted, and perhaps also to explain that you have been consistently meeting and exceeding targets but that this does involve having to work excess hours, and that realistically, no-one is ‘coasting’, but that if you are being told that your targets and expectations have changed you do need to know what the revised targets are. Do you have a grandboss you could loop in to try to get clarification / better understanding of what is involved?

    3. Honor Harrington*

      This is a guy who has no idea how to do capacity planning, which is an essential part of management. He’s trying to influence you with guilt to work more. Don’t do it. Frankly, something like this would likely make me work less. I’d ask him to prioritize my work since it can’t all get done without significant extra hours.

      He’s a jerk.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      As a manager of a metrics-based team of production workers with quotas:
      If he wants to give you metrics to meet, he has to give you the dang metrics. Not actually giving you the metrics that he wants you to meet is sabotage.

    5. oh, she's an ingénue*

      Peter sounds like a jerk and like he probably isn’t very good at his job. I’m sorry you have to deal with this.

    6. Robin Ellacott*

      Sounds like total BS based on is having no idea what good output would be and not wanting to say so.

      The best I can suggest is listing all the tasks you do as well as their urgency and volume, and asking him to prioritize them with you so you can ‘focus your energy efficiently.’ Hopefully that will teach him something about the job, and if he still just says “work harder and do more” hopefully there is another (higher?) manager from whom you can seek clarification/support.

  31. SA*

    Has anyone here taken a paid disability leave for a mental health condition? If so, would you be willing to share what the process is? My employer has some information on their website about the company that processes the leave requests, but I’m still unclear on what information I need to collect and feel uncomfortable talking to HR or my boss. For example, do I need my therapist to write something for me in order for a leave to be approved or would it need to come from my primary care doctor?

    1. Are You Kidding Me*

      When I had to do this, I alerted my manager and HR. HR sent a form that needed to be completed. My therapist completed the initial form. This allowed me to take an FMLA leave that protected my job for up to three months.

      If you also want to use short term disability insurance, that company will send a pile of forms to be completed by your provider, and there will likely be many interim forms along the way. I took this route when I did an IOP/PHP program, and their doctor completed all of the paperwork. There’s no guarantee the STD will cover your leave, but there’s no harm in applying if it’s available and your providers are willing to manage the mountain of paperwork.

    2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      I never have – but I worked on a staff where it happened a few times. It’s treated as any other illness. I would start with approval from your PCP, but ask your HR department first. “I have my PCP approval/recommendation, what else is needed?”

    3. Jujyfruits*

      It’s very difficult to get a mental health claim approved. Check with your employer regarding their policies. Mine had unlimited time off, so even though my claim was denied, they paid me for my leave. My husband’s work did not but we took out a small loan to help us get by for a few months when he was out. It’s still worth trying, and the time off can be so helpful if you can budget for it.

      1. Mid*

        I wouldn’t say it’s very difficult. I took a leave for mental health and it was covered by my short term disability insurance. All I needed was a letter from my doctor (a psychologist in this case) and to fill out some forms, and then wait for them to pay me.

    4. J*

      When a friend did it, she asked HR what the process was for FMLA forms since she’d been advised by a medical professional to complete one. No further details. Her therapist and doctor did both need to complete hers, but I think it came from a place where her therapist’s credentials were weaker. She had spoken to both the doctor and therapist about her worries before requesting the paperwork and about how her mental state was preventing her from doing her job (she was on a PIP). Doctor was onboard but charged her for appointments in completing the paperwork, which is pretty standard in the industry. I think the doctor basically made the paperwork semi-conditional on a treatment plan and wrote that into the FMLA paperwork, that friend was doing “outpatient mental health treatment” or something to that effect.

    5. mreasy*

      Currently on paid short term disability. I told my boss first, then got the paperwork from HR to file a claim with our STD insurance provider. My doctor, HR, and I all had to fill in a form. I do not believe the nature of the condition was shared with HR in this process but I am not 100% sure. I filled out my expected return to office date, reason for leave, and current/past doctor info so the insurance folks could contact them for more info if needed. I got approved and they are paying via direct deposit. The STD insurance folks were very kind and helpful. Note that you will likely have to wait a week before benefits kick in. i used my sick time to cover the week.

  32. Cyndi*

    I’m job hunting due to my office moving locations in May. In general it’s at best an open secret that my entire team is leaving over it–there was a lot of complaining when it was originally announced, and we’re down three people, including the team lead, and up two new hires since the New Year. When my supervisor has asked directly I’ve made general noises about not liking the move and how much worse it would make my commute, but not outright said “nope I’m out” or discussed my job hunt. Maybe I should have deflected better, but I’m not great at that, sadly.

    However, she’s told us that she wants a “definite answer” within the next couple of weeks about whether we’re going to the new location, and I feel squirrely about this. It seems as good as telling a manager you’re leaving before you have a new job lined up, which we all know is a Bad Plan. (Especially since the move involves consolidating with another of our offices, and we were told up front that they couldn’t promise we’d keep our hours after that.) Should I be worrying about how to handle this, and if so does anyone have any advice? Or am I overthinking it?

    1. AnonyFriday*

      Tell her yes until you have something lined up. You’ve got one foot out the door now looking–don’t wreck your income until it’s both feet out and an offer in hand. The company doesn’t care about your comfort–you don’t need to care about theirs.

      1. Cyndi*

        Oh god I am NOT a good or comfortable liar but I know you’re right. I guess I can just take the various reasons I’m frustrated with my job hunt and reframe them to her as reasons I’ve totally decided to stay actually.

        1. Little Beans*

          If your job search hasn’t come through by the time the move happens, would you stay in the role until you find something? If so, it’s not a lie to say that, as of right now, you plan to move (because you don’t know for sure you’ll get another job before then).

          If you wouldn’t move regardless and you’d quit even if you didn’t have something else lined up, then I’d say it depends how soon this move is…

          1. Cyndi*

            Oh yeah, I’d absolutely grit my teeth stick it out if it got to that point. (In fact they’re offering a one-time bonus for people who stick it out until I think the end of July, which I think is insultingly little consolation for a change that will make most employees’ lives more difficult indefinitely, but if God forbid it takes me that long to find something new I guess I have that to look forward to.)

            This is all a really helpful way to think of it–thanks!

        2. A Penguin!*

          Personally I’d shade this advice a tiny bit. I’d say ‘yes’ only if you’d go to the new location in May (while continuing to hunt) if you don’t find an alternate solution before then. If it’s bad enough of a difference that you’d quit with no backup rather than work a single day at the new location I wouldn’t be able to say ‘yes’.

          1. Antilles*

            Unfortunately, the problem is that if you say no, there’s a decent chance they start searching for your replacement NOW…and perhaps you’re pushed out even before the move happens in May. So even if you’re ready to leave the day the move happens, you’re risking the next 2 months by saying so.
            This isn’t a court of law; you’re under no legal or moral obligation to tell the truth, whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

      2. Chauncy Gardener*

        Hard agree with AnonyFriday. Especially if you’ll go to the new office if you haven’t found a new job by then! Otherwise they’ll just start looking for your replacement ASAP

    2. rayray*

      Second for telling her yes. Since you don’t have a concrete plan for your exit yet, this would be your best move.

    3. CatCat*

      “Yes, I’m definitely planning to be at the new location in May.”

      The silent part that you keep to yourself is, “unless I find another job before then.”

      The boss is putting you in an impossible situation. Even if you were excited about the move, for a whole host of reasons, you could not guarantee you’ll be there. So protect yourself and tell the boss what they want to hear.

      If your boss grumbles about what you said if you put in notice before the move, so what. “I had planned to be at new location, but I got offered a great opportunity that I just couldn’t pass up.”

      1. Some words*

        This. You know what I hate more than being lied to or feeling like I have to lie? Being unemployed.

    4. JustMyImagination*

      “I have no plans to leave”. It’s a true statement, right now you have no plans to leave. That may change in a week if you get a job offer, but right now, you have no plans to leave.

      It’s the same as asking a company “will there be a second round of layoffs?” and they respond “There are no plans for a second round” and then you get laid off a month later.

    5. Bagpuss*

      Honestly, I’d tell her yes, because (unless you can afford to leave with nothing lined up) that’s the trust. You will continue to work, including at the new location, until you get a new job.
      At the point you get a new job, you hand in your notice and leave.

      And if she gets angry at that point, that’s unfortunate but it isn’t your fault.

    6. Honor Harrington*

      You’re going to the new location until you have a new job, right? so tell her you are going to the new location. She didn’t ask if you plan to *stay* at the new location. You won’t be lying.

      When you are a bad liar and feel guilty, answering the question that was asked instead of the question they want to know is the way to go.

    7. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      You’re overthinking it. The company’s problems are not your problems to worry about or solve. Do whatever you need to do to protect yourself and your income.

    8. Observer*

      You will probably burn a bridge with her, but I don’t think she’s someone who you could really have left on a good footing with anyway.

      She’s not being reasonable here. She knows that no one is happy with the move. She knows that people are fleeing and looking so hard that the company is trying to pay retention bonuses just to get a couple of extra months. She needs to assume that she’s going to lose more people and make sure that she’s got her search going. Given that you are net down one position, she needs to be looking anyway.

  33. And I'm the alchemist of the hinterlands*

    I would love some suggestions on dealing with a couple different situations in my new job as a mentor/coach at a school. I am really happy to be here and overall the staff are friendly and the administrators (also my supervisors) are supportive.

    While my job is intended to mostly support teachers in developing their pedagogy, creating professional development, and helping with classroom management and challenging child or parent situations. Those are all proving to be true, but there is also a lot more emotional processing in this role than I was prepared for. I’ve already had a teacher come crying to me about something that admin was supposed to take care of, and there are some negative feelings between teachers that I have gotten an earful about. So my first question is how to be empathetic and available in those moments while also not managing their emotions or taking them on myself (I have had these tendencies before, and am especially uncomfortable with crying).

    My second question is about rolling out a new initiative that the teachers think they have been doing the right way, but they really are not and they have a lot of changes coming their way. I have consulted a mentor, am reading lots, and am rolling it out very slowly with lots of check ins and supports built in. When I referred to the initiative as a “beginning,” some teachers got angry because they feel they are already doing it. I plan to acknowledge the hard work they have already done, and most are on a good track. But they are still missing some big pieces! I guess I am asking how to address this without coming across that they are wrong or missing a large part of the equation. Thank you!

    1. Irish Teacher*

      I don’t know your context or whether this would work, but in general you want to get teachers on board with the planning. They will generally have a lot of expertise and will know a good deal about their classroom context, so if possible, I would say consult with them. What do they think is working well? What do they think needs to be changed?

      Who has decided on this initiative? Were the teachers consulted before it was rolled out? (If not, then, yeah, there is likely to be pushback, though I know this may not be in your control, if it is something like a department initiative that they are rolling out without consulting anybody actually working in the field.)

      Where possible, treat them as partners. They are going to have knowledge about their particular context and what will work with their students that your mentor and books won’t have, so ask them what will work.

      1. And I'm the alchemist of the hinterlands*

        Thank you, Irish Teacher.

        Regarding your question, “initiative” might not be the best term. Basically there is a core component of the center’s philosophy- let’s say project work- that is not being fully implemented. I noticed this immediately (during my interview, actually) and asked my fellow coach if the administration would be open to visiting it and trying to get it really going. I was concerned I was too new and didn’t have enough capital, but they felt that they would be more open to it because I was new and I should go for it. I did, and they are on board and enthusiastic. I have also been polling the teachers who for the most part are open and curious about project work, but don’t feel there has been any follow through from admin or supports to get them there. So that is where I step in and offer supports as well as a timeline based rollout. I figure it will take close to a year to get everyone on board.

        1. And I'm the alchemist of the hinterlands*

          To clarify, I asked the other coach a couple weeks after I had started.

          I will definitely strive to treat them as partners, rely on their expertise, and ask questions about the process as we go.

          1. 1LFTW*

            I think you’re approach to this is pretty solid. You’re giving yourself a whole year to get everyone on board, and… for that matter, you’re making the effort to actually *get* people on board, instead of just announcing the change and expecting everyone to revamp their classrooms and lesson plans by Monday. That will go a long way toward helping the teachers feel like you’re supporting them and not criticizing them.

            As to your first question, about being “emotionally present” when teachers come to you with interpersonal frustrations… well, I hear you. I think the easy part will be coming up with scripts for polite ways of saying “that sounds frustrating, have you tried direct communication?”.

            The hard part, I think, is coaching teachers to navigate the line between “your classroom is different than mine, so you’re doing it wrong!” and “your classroom is different than mine, and it legitimately creates problems that other people have to fix”. That line can be really, really blurry! On the one hand, teachers work best if we’re to manage our own classrooms; on the other hand, we can’t allow unsafe situations to develop, or set up our colleagues for unrealistic expectations from students and families.

            One of my go-to scripts (I adjust the tone depending on the recipient) is something like “I know we have differently teaching styles. You feel that X and Y are important, and I feel that Y and Z are important. Do my choices in the classroom make extra work for you?”.

            If the answer is “yes”, then I adjust accordingly. If the answer is “no, BUT…” then I circle back to “I appreciate your input, and I’ll definitely consider incorporating it! In the mean time, please respect that I have reasons for the way I run my classroom”. Sometimes, having this conversation has led to really valuable discussions about workload, pedagogy, and classroom management. Other times, it shuts down unwanted (and unwarranted) feedback.

            I’ve found that asking that question really helps to discern legitimate critique from simple criticism. I love my colleagues, but teachers can be, uh, kinda bossy and opinionated, and at the same time, we’re very sensitive to criticism, which can lead to a lot of hurt feelings and grudges if left unchecked.

            I hope that helps in some way.

  34. AnonyFriday*

    Got a delightful bit of schadenfreude this week! The person in my former job has just quit in only three months. It’s been just shy of a year since I quit, and this makes the second person since me to leave in a matter of months. The first replacement cited the same reasons that I did–namely, that the manager does no work, takes credit for work that the person in this role does, and blames them for her mistakes. I remain convinced that the manager is working a second full-time remote job in secret, and that’s why she misses every deadline at this one.

    My one friend still at the company (though on a different team) had been on the hiring committee both times, but is now stepping back because she knows about the issues the role has, and can’t in good conscience bring someone into it.

    I’m particularly enjoying this news because A) it proves I wasn’t the problem, and B) maybe after three people leaving this same role in less than a year, upper management will finally step in. The organization is a good one with a good mission, but that manager will continue to be a problem until they take action.

    I hope everyone is having an equally good week–may history (at least in the workplace) vindicate us all!

  35. Way Anon for This*

    Where is the line between inconvenient positivity and toxic positivity?
    Y’all have any advice for navigating ray of sunshine syndrome?

    I started a job a few months ago and one thing I find really disorienting is all the complimenting for the smallest things. I don’t think I earn a compliment by being assigned to a project, for instance. As a result, I have no idea whether I’ve really done something well or it’s just the white noise of this team. When I get something wrong, some of my teammates won’t say so outright; they talk around it, which is also frustrating. Negative emotions are met with disproportionate concern, even though they fall within the normal range of professionalism. For instance, I have to spend time assuring people I’m fine because they’re upset and worried if my expression betrays mild frustration when I encounter an obstacle. (Because we have to have our cameras on all the time during meetings for some reason.)

    1. Onward*

      Oof. I don’t have advice for this but it sounds really frustrating and like you work with a bunch of people who are super afraid of conflict…

        1. Way Anon for This*

          I think so. The company is really great, though, so adjusting might be wise.

          Also, I love Kosinski!

    2. Random Dice*

      You’re over the line.

      I have that kind of über-sensitivity to others’ negative emotions, due to trauma making me hypervigilant. (Much better after EMDR)

      That just to say, that’s not a normal reaction to a slightly furrowed brow over a database loading slowly. (Now, if you curse or have a big reaction, maybe you’re the one showing unexpected behavior and need to rein it in.)

      1. Random Dice*

        And by “you’re” I mean the environment you’re in is over the line into toxic positivity.

  36. Just a teacher*

    How do I negotiate a salary when I am entering a completely different field? I am going from classroom teacher to selling educational products. How can I know what is reasonable?

    1. EMP*

      glassdoor is one resource – basically see if you can find salary ranges for the work you want to do in the city you want to do it in. It’s not always SUPER helpful since ranges can be very wide (or depend on commissions, or bonuses, etc) but it’s a place to start.

    2. SereneScientist*

      Short answer: some research for the industry both locally and regionally should provide you a good answer on the average and median salary.

    3. Somehow_I_Manage*

      Connect with somebody else in that field, invite them for a cup of coffee and ask them to advise you on a range. Bonus- you might make a new friend and career resource! Double bonus, you get a cup of delicious coffee!

    4. Educator*

      In addition to doing research, think about the whole value of the compensation package if you are in the United States. When I left the classroom, my salary was a lot higher, but most of that gain was cancelled out by how much worse the health plan was! Almost nobody in the private sector has benefits as good as teacher benefits.

      1. Just a Teacher*

        The good news is that my husband is a government employee so we will continue to have his insurance. I am worried about loan forgiveness though.

  37. This Old House*

    Silly question, out of idle curiosity: What is the correct term for a group of people you work with that includes your boss (may also apply to executives, etc – people not on the same level as you). Is “coworkers” accurate? Or does the “co-” imply an equality that isn’t necessarily accurate when referring to your boss? (For example, I wouldn’t introduce my boss to someone by saying “This is Jane, we work together.” I’d say “I work for her” or probably more likely, just “she’s my boss.”) Is colleagues better? Or exactly the same?

    1. ThatGirl*

      Everyone at your company is a coworker, it’s just that sometimes you want more specificity. Colleague to me means roughly the same thing, but possibly broader – same profession or general industry.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Colleagues. Your boss is your colleague, as is her boss, your co-workers, your direct reports, etc.

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I think colleagues does a better job of incorporating people w/ different seniority, management responsibility, etc. But I probably wouldn’t think twice if you called everyone coworkers, either – especially if it’s a flatter organization.

      You could also say “team”, which from analogy to sports or the military includes the coaching staff/senior officers as well as the grunts.

    4. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I always refer to such groups as “my colleagues.” If there is a need to ensure that whomever I’m communicating with knows that group includes my CEO or COO (like, if I’m trying to negotiate pricing with a vendor and need them to understand that thing I’m negotiating for is at the behest of my most-senior executives), I’ll say something like “my CEO, COO, and other senior leaders” or “senior executives and other colleagues.” But typically, just “colleagues.” At its most basic level, that’s who these people are :)

    5. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      Something to think about–when I introduce both my boss and my direct reports, I say, “This is Alex, they’re the manager of/a specialist on the Llama Grooming team.”

    6. Educator*

      I feel like introducing someone as your boss puts more focus on hierarchy than is typical in US culture too. I always introduce my boss as “Jane, our Vice President of Teapot Development.” Nobody external is likely to care about your reporting structure unless something is failing spectacularly—they just want to know who to go to for what.

  38. Snoopy Clifton*

    I need a reality check or some advice on connecting with a new generation of employees who I can’t seem to reach with my request for tracking some project-related expenses.

    I am a member of the ownership team of an architectural firm with 13 employees. We utilize a web-based program for project fee tracking, timekeeping, work assignments, and expenses. Expenses include travel, meals, lodging, and other expenses directly related to accomplishing our business. All staff are expected to enter their own expenses in the system and then submit a monthly report and then we will reimburse them.
    We also instruct staff to enter quantities when they use our copier/printer and our large-scale plotter for project-related printing. We do not reimburse employees for this printing, but we do bill our clients for it. It is explicitly spelled out in our contracts that we will be reimbursed for these expenses and clients agree to it.

    However, we can’t get some of our younger staff to enter the printing expenses. They claim they forget, apologize, and say they are too busy to do it, or they nod when reminded but just never do it. Our overall printing costs will vary depending on the size of the project, but I am convinced that we are leaving money on the table when these expenses aren’t tracked. We are certainly printing less with staff working from home two days a week, and many clients now request electronic copies of drawings and reports, but we still use a lot of paper. I know this because I order the office supplies!

    We remind everyone why it’s important to track all expenses – especially for printing. We use all expense data to help build a fee structure on future project pursuits. We have a mark-up built into some of the expenses and that leads to an increase in our profits. We use those profits for salary increases, bonuses, new software and equipment, office improvements and the like.

    I train everyone on the use of our system and I make sure to follow-up so that everyone has an understanding of the how and why. I provide gentle reminders in our weekly staff meetings. I handed out pre-printed tracking sheets to keep at their desks so they can write it down as they go and enter them into the system later. I shared the behind-the-scenes effort related to tracking time and expenses and how that data feeds into the invoices we send to our clients. I shared how we take the numbers and extrapolate that into fees for similar projects we are pursuing. And still, the expenses aren’t being entered. I know that they understand the system because they can and do enter expenses for which they will be personally reimbursed – and they submit those reports each month and I pay them!

    Should I be presenting this another way? I am in my mid-50s and have always been the employee that does the thing that the owner/manager/supervisor says to do. I may not understand it and may ask for clarification – or may even suggest a new way to do it – but I won’t flat-out ignore a directive. We request, we cajole, we remind staff that this is a requirement of working here and they just don’t do it. Have I become the “old lady” who just bitches about younger people not doing the things? I don’t want to be that person, but I need some help on how to get through to everyone that this is a job requirement. Bottom line – our business needs this information, and we require participation by the employees. What can I do to get through? I hope my fellow AAM readers might have some ideas and suggestions.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      “The company lost $X last year because of un-allocated printing expenses. Which comes directly out of the profit-sharing/bonus pool.”

      They are responsive to $ cues for their personal expenses. Try to apply those cues to this as well.

      Or lock down your copiers & printers so you have to enter a project code before you can do anything with them.

      1. Gracely*

        Yeah. There needs to be some kind of consequence to them not entering the quantities, or nothing is going to change.

        I wouldn’t be surprised if they saw it as a kind of discount/savings they’re providing the customer because they think the company can handle it. You might want to consider–if this is in your purview–restructuring the costs/reimbursement around printing for clients. Perhaps a set fee everyone pays, rather than a cost-per basis.

      2. Observer*

        Or lock down your copiers & printers so you have to enter a project code before you can do anything with them.


        It makes a lot more sense to do it this way than to have them go back and fill in the forms later. It gives you real time information and it’s likely to be more accurate. The project code information is current – what they are doing right now, not something they have to remember later. And the amounts come from the printer / plotter / copier, so you don’t have to worry about someone transcribing the wrong number, mis-remembering or just making a math error.

      3. Rosemary*

        Yes this was my first thought – make it so you have to enter a code to use the printer. Almost every company I have worked at (from small to large) has had this.

    2. I'm you're fave corporate report*

      You’ve taken a progressive approach to this and now it’s time for the next step in the progressive process – a documented group meeting. Yeah, whatever they hate meetings but they also haven’t followed many requests. You’re not the mean old lady, you’re doing your job.

      Perhaps these young adults have never been reprimanded for anything before, or at least not in the workplace. They don’t think it’s going to move beyond constant reminders that they don’t heed. Time to put it to paper.

      Meet with your HR (if you have one) to learn what you’re supposed to do, how to carry it out with their support, and go forth.

      1. Document the group meeting whether in person on online as to what is being presented, why and what happens if the request for action doesn’t improve. Make sure the progress is very clear: Month 1 – this action. Month 2 – this action. Month 3 – this action, etc.

      2. After Month 1: Then start talking to each person, who doesn’t adhere, individually in another documented, private meeting. Make sure you also praise those who have adhered with a ‘Thank you for taking that meeting to heart and following the instructions.” or something like that.

      3. Month 2: Follow the action you stated in #1. Write up or whatever goes with your HR policies.

      4. Month 3: Follow the next step – Meeting with their boss?

      5. Month 4: What does this look like – probation?

      6. Month 5: Firing?

      At some point, it’s insubordination. Most people freak out about that word, but there’s a point when not following the rules has a consequence.

    3. EMP*

      This doesn’t sound generational to me but based on your 5th paragraph it sounds like your reminders may have been TOO gentle. Maybe I’m misinterpretting, but you said you remind people, but how vaguely and how kindly? If this is “get written up” level bad, make sure people know that. If specific managers can reinforce the message, have them do so. If there are processes you can put in place like lock printer access or confront individuals who you know haven’t done their expenses, make sure they’re held accountable. Accurate billing can be a huge deal and it sounds like you may be being too passive here about the issue.

    4. Somehow_I_Manage*

      You’re asking staff to be accountants. You need to find a different solution to the problem. Most of your industry partners approach this differently:
      1) For internal tracking, use a software solution. An example software would be “PaperCut” which requires any print job to be assigned to a client job (or marked as personal).
      2) For external/print shop orders, set up corporate credit accounts, and ask them to invoice you. Require the print shop to process print jobs with a project number.

    5. Hazel*

      Is it really worth the time you’d pay them to document and bill it? I would take a hard look. You have lots of data up to now and you acknowledge that these expenses are going down over time with e-copies. It might be time to just build in an amount for electronic or paper copies into your billing. E-copies still cost time. You have good evidence if a client ever asked and you are already putting it into project estimates! Unless your paper is gold leafed, your specialized printer and toner costs will be way higher than paper, as will your staffing hours to record and bill. Also if you are an owner why are you still ordering office supplies? I do think this may have become your hill to die on, and the staff refusing may be silent protest. Or you may have so completely retained responsibility and control that they have no concept you spend $x a year on paper. It never hurts to ask of something is worth the cost in time and goodwill. In my experience very few creatives love this stuff or do it well.

      1. kiki*

        Yeah. Maybe the amount of paper/quality of the printing is much higher than I can fathom, but it sounds like there is either :
        a) a technical solution available to implement to track this automatically, like having to assign a client upon printing. Somebody above mentioned Papercut
        b) a way to build the cost of paper automatically into what you bill

        I think the fact that multiple employees are all neglecting this duty after you’ve done a really thorough job of reminding them about it means that a gut-check may be necessary as to whether this is really the best way to manage this expense and have employees spend their time. I might also ask some other firms how they handle printing expenses and tracking.

        If after that you still conclude that this is the best method for tracking and billing for printing, I think you have to work with managers to ensure that there are appropriate consequences.

    6. What She Said*

      Some really good ideas here. Is there a way to add a minimum charge to these? Let’s say at minimum they are running $100 each project. Can you tack that into the client billing as a minimum? or maybe even an average amount.

      I get the importance to all this tracking, I do compliance so it’s part of the job. Thankfully I don’t have to do printing tracking though cause it’s automated. Codes help with this.

    7. Antigone Funn*

      Maybe they find it difficult or fiddly to track. Do they have to count up the number of pages? I can see that being perceived as very annoying for little benefit. They, individually, don’t see how their five pages here and there add up to a lot of money at the end of the year. Kind of like the coffee fund from earlier this week that ended up with $15,000, collected in dimes and quarters over a long period of time.

      Could you tack on a flat fee instead — “Hard copies: $50” or whatever?

      1. Observer*

        Maybe they find it difficult or fiddly to track.

        Based on what the OP describes, I’d be willing to bet that it’s fiddly and time consuming. I mean they are being asked to fill out paper forms that they then have to copy into a system. Is anyone tracking the time for THAT? Or is that an additional task that now needs to happen.

    8. Chaordic One*

      Here’s the reality check you asked for. This isn’t about you or how effectively you do your job, but about the PTB requesting and requiring this information. To be honest, in the overall scheme of things, when you have employees who are busting their humps, trying to do good work and keep various projects on the rails, meeting goals and meeting deadlines, keeping track of printing expenses really does seem kind of insignificant in the overall scheme of things and your requests are, frankly, small, petty, annoying, (very possibly onerous), and indicative of misplaced priorities. (Probably not YOUR personal priorities, but those of the PTB.) It’s an unreasonable request, but it is also a job requirement for you to make this unreasonable request. (Yeah, you’re that crabby “old lady”.)

      We didn’t get the contract, meet our goal, or meet our deadline, but DAMN we kept track of all of our printing expenses!

      If it were up to me, I’d make these expenses part of the general overall cost of doing business and write them into the contracts with your clients as part part of their overall cost of doing business, instead of trying to break them out as an individual expense, but I realistically that isn’t likely to happen.

      You’ve done what you can in this situation. Take it to the next step and escalate the issue to your supervisor to deal with. The employee’s immediate supervisors need to bring up the issue with these people and get them to comply or face disciplinary action. If you’ve done what you can, then what happens next is up to the people who aren’t complying and their supervisors.

    9. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Treat it the same way you would if they were neglecting any of their other work responsibilities. Filling out those reports properly so that the company can recharge is just another thing in their job role. That includes a disciplinary process if they keep failing to do it.

    10. Hex Code*

      Go for a technical solution — require codes for all print jobs. If it’s too much trouble to reassign print codes every time you get a new client, then assign print codes for each employee. Then you will know who has not turned in their documentation and who to track down about it.

    11. Nesprin*

      So either you need to enforce consequences for not doing this, or find a different system.

      I would suggest actually calculating average printing cost and determine whether those costs are greater than the cost for staff time to track the printing costs, and whether those costs could be recouped in a less labor intensive mode, like putting a flat rate for printing onto all jobs. Alternatively, could an admin take over entering costs if you have printouts where folks write the costs down?

    12. ScruffyInternHerder*

      Having a decent grasp on what these costs can run on projects ($2-$3 a sheet for E size sounds kinda petty until realizing that current set of docs on my desk has over 250 sheets in it. That set has changed via official release four times since January 1 alone ), I see two solutions:

      1. Some sort of software/hardware that requires a project or personal code in order to process the job. We used to use these at FirstJob.
      2. Outsource it and mark it up as an actual job cost.

      **$2-3 an E size sheet is what we’ve paid in the past six months for the few times we’ve needed hard copies from a specialized printer specializing in construction and architectural drawings. Obviously self printing is cheaper, maybe, but you’ve got the cost of the actual machine (rental or purchase, along with maintenance), paper stock, toner, yada yada yada.

    13. Phlox*

      Sounds like you’ve done a lot in trying to solve the problem getting staff to understand the why of tracking and its not sticking. I know I’m someone who is motivated by why in my work, but I know other colleagues who that just isn’t what works for them (I’ve got issues with the author in uncritically universalizing her whitelady experience but Gretchen Reuben’s 4 Tendancies framework has been helpful for me in thinking about where colleagues might be coming from). Like others have mentioned, I think software/prompt solution is likely a great solution. I know in my old job I was terrible at tracking printer costs (as the person who did invoicing!) because it was a second extra step spreadsheet that wasn’t connected to the rest of the workflow. I’m a big fan of automating/building in process for things – I’ve got a bunch of complicated HR and compliance things in my head, if I can delegate the computer to do the remembering to ask about printer codes, heck yes!

    14. Marketing Unicorn Ninja*

      I second adding a project code. At most jobs I’ve worked at, I need to enter a billing code on the printer before it will spit out my documents.

      I know that’s technologically possible but I’m more sure if it’s feasible for where you work.

      Also, pull the offenders in and have a come-to-Jesus with them about why it’s necessary.

      Also, tie their reimbursements to the print job counts. If you make them the same form, or require them to be submitted together in order to get processed, I’d bet you get compliance quickly.

    15. RagingADHD*

      Nobody owns the problem, and therefore it is abstract.

      Everywhere I’ve worked that captured expenses for billing had a lockout on the copier/printer or other utilities that required entering a client code to even use it. And each department or management line had their own admin / miscellaneous code.

      If too much was allocated to the “miscellaneous” code, the cost was deducted specifically from that managers’s or group’s budget, which included not only the bonus pool, but the option for raises or discretionary spending (new chairs, lunches out, etc).

      Create ownership. Make it concrete.

      I don’t think it’s a generational thing, because Gen Z wasn’t even in the workforce the last time I worked with captured expenses. It’s a human nature thing.

    16. Observer*

      Have I become the “old lady” who just bitches about younger people not doing the things?

      Yes. You have.

      You *do* have a legitimate problem. And you’re getting some good suggestions. But you absolutely need to get away from the generational nonsense. This is NOT about “kids these days”. Yeah, you didn’t use that exact phrase, but that is exactly what you are saying.

      Some suggestions that I think bear repeating:

      Use project codes on your equipment. If you don’t have the capacity, it’s almost certainly worth your while to upgrade. Based on what you are describing, if you are using reasonably current equipment, it really is a matter of upgrading. (And when I say reasonably current, I don’t mean 1-2 years old. I was seeing this kind of capacity routinely 10 years ago.)

      Stop ASKING. Start telling. You’ve given them the background, which is good. But this is not something that’s a “good idea”. This is *mandatory*. It’s part of your contracts, and if they keep on forgetting, it needs to be treated like any other work item that they “forget”.

      Spell out the issue clearly and *succinctly*. “We lose approximately $X on every project that doesn’t have this information entered”. or “We’ve lost approximately $X in the last 6 months on printing jobs that have not been entered”. (This is in ADDITION to the above, not instead.)

      Make sure that the time cost of entry is actually worth the cost of printing that you are losing. I know that it seems to you like that’s the case, but before you go on the warpath, make sure to check your numbers. Either you will find out that you are stressing out unnecessarily, or you will confirm how much you are potentially leaving on the table and can figure out how much cost it’s worth to take on to resolve the problem. Either way, that’s a net positive.

    17. MaryLoo*

      Please lose the term “gentle” when talking about giving reminders to you team. Polite, matter-of-fact, concise, direct. Not “gentle”. Your coworkers are not delicate flowers that need a “gentle” touch when being reminded of a responsibility they are neglecting.

    18. Ranon*

      From personal experience I think this is not so much a generational thing as a personality/ priorities thing, I have certainly worked at firms where the folks who were the worst at it were the older folks.

      A lot of printers and plotters can generate reports of everything that is printed over a time period, and from which computer/ account it was printed- I’ve worked places that passed around a log of that months prints for folks to mark up billable/ non billable and which account. Being able to audit makes a big difference in terms of accountability.

  39. feline outerwear catalog*

    Whelp. I didn’t get the job, they really liked me, but went with a local candidate. One of my interviewers mentioned they are starting to go back to the office more.

    I know you’re not supposed to get attached to jobs, but this one was literally a perfect match for my skills, like if was written for me, specifically. I’m trying to transition into a field that is hard to get into and has a lot of competition. This role was a unicorn mix of my old and new fields which would have allowed me to use more of my previous skills instead of abandoning them completely.

    For example, let’s say you were a teapot painter and wanted to get into coffeepot design. The competition for entry level coffee pot designers is fierce but you found a role that is in coffeepot painting, which isn’t as competitive and most people in coffeepots hate painting so it can be your niche while you keep learning about construction at a coffeepot company.

    This really sucks. None of the other coffeepot construction jobs are inviting me for interviews. I might have to stay in teapot painting and am really bummed about it. I’m about to hit 3 months of being laid off and getting nervous about not getting any other interviews.

    I started looking into temp work. Are temp agencies still a thing? My initial searches aren’t coming up with much. I remember doing jobs in college where you’d be doing data entry or filing at a random office for a week. All the temp jobs I’m finding don’t say how long they are for or are longer term contract roles or gig work like driving for uber. I was hoping to find something where I can get out of the house, make a little extra money, but not be tied down while I’m looking for full time work.

    1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      I’m sorry. No matter how much we try not to get attached to one job it’s hard. I have noticed a trend that if it’s between someone local and someone remote, local tends to win out. I lost a few jobs like that last spring. I did manage to find a fully remote job, however even my new company is now doing remote but must be within commuting distance to a one of the offices. If I applied for the job I had now I wouldn’t be considered.

      It’s hard but every time I was rejected Intook a day to be bummed then I made it a goal to apply for 5 more jobs. ABA,( always be applying) until you have a signed offer and a confirmed start date.

      I have no advice on temp agencies but it certainly doesn’t hurt to look.

      1. feline outerwear catalog*

        Thanks, the supervisor for the role was remote, they did ask if I’d be willing to go to a local office. After I told them my major metro area, they mentioned that they had an office there but maybe just closed it(?) sigh.

    2. Fran*

      Universities often have temp agencies attached (mine does). It’s a great thing once you’re part of the pool

  40. Hmph*

    Silliest question- on an email

    Let’s say you email John and BCC Ben

    That means Ben can see John on the email; John does NOT see Ben

    Our new manager wants to be bcc’d on everything but as silly as it sounds our office has never used it!

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        That’s right. “Blind carbon copy.” Sounds like the new manager wants to get a sense of how things are done. Pretty normal to me.

        Only backfires when the person bcc’d replies all. Ooof.

    1. Chestnut Mare*

      I’d just cc your manager. If they want to be bcc’d, they can ask, which should be awkward because bcc rarely has a purpose that’s above-board. (in my experience; ymmv.)

      1. Be Gneiss*

        I think bcc has some very above-board applications. All the emails I get from the kids’ schools have all recipients bcc’d for privacy reasons, so I can extrapolate other situations where you’d want to do that.

        That said…if it’s just a matter of a new manager wanting to see how things are done, it does seem like it would be more transparent to just cc the new manager, and maybe even include “I’ve cc’d NewManager on this to help get her up to speed with our processes/contacts/projects/whatever.”

        1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

          The problem with cc is that everyone on cc gets reply all’d, whereas a bcc only gets the initial email. If the new boss just wants to get a sense of what’s going on but not every single detail or step in the conversation, bcc is the way to go.

      2. ecnaseener*

        I don’t think there’s anything underhanded about using BCC, unless there’s also something underhanded about forwarding your sent message to others as an FYI. (I do the latter, only so I can say “FYI” or whatever instead of leaving them to wonder what I want from them.)

        1. This Old House*

          I think it depends on your perspective. I was BCC’d on something at work for the first time recently, and it wasn’t underhanded, but it did display a lack of trust in the primary recipient. (Warranted, IMO.) But if said recipient knew I’d been BCC’d, would it have seemed underhanded from their perspective? Quite possibly.

      3. Squawkberries*

        BCC has huge advantages – ever have a large mailing list get caught in a reply-all avalanche ? Doesn’t happen if you bcc the mailing list.

    2. Hmph*

      Hey all OP here there’s nothing underhanded for the bcc. Long story short a manager had to take leave for personal situation at the same time some department restructuring is going on. A company wide email was sent out saying that a few newer managers and staff would be bcc’d as their rolls got defined. higher ups didn’t want to confuse everyone when some positions are undefined for a few more weeks.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        I’ve also seen BCC used for fyi where subsequent discussion isn’t needed but it’s mentioned in the email, like “The chocolate teapot protect has been reassigned to Jane. [Jane’s supervisor] is BCC’d so they’re aware of the communication about this change and to save their inbox.”

        [implied that the manager is saved from your internal logistical discussions back and forth emails for project handoff.]

        1. Waterlily*

          +1 on this! I worked as an assistant at a large law firm. This is how it worked. Actually proved to be very efficient.

          We actually had a class on when to put someone on the cc and when to put someone on bcc. Over time, it just became like a way of communicating and not underhanded.

  41. Little Beans*

    Should I encourage a junior employee to grow in his role if he doesn’t seem interested in doing so? I supervise a team of 5. All of them are smart, hardworking, kind, level-headed, etc. 4 of them also think creatively about how to improve our services, frequently suggest new ideas, volunteer for stretch assignments, ask for leadership and professional development opportunities, etc. 1 does not. He’s the newest member of our team, the only one who was hired externally without a previous role in our organization and crucially, the only one who is non-exempt. He’s great at the core duties of his role. But he also uses his vacation time as fast as he can accrue it, responds to work requests neutrally with little enthusiasm, rarely speaks in team meetings unless prompted, and never volunteers for anything extra. At first, I thought he was just shy or getting used to things but it’s now been over a year. He has said he’d like to take on certain professional development opportunities but then doesn’t follow through (like taking a class, which we would pay for but which isn’t a job requirement) On one hand, I think these things make it hard to consider promoting him into a higher role with more responsibility, which would make him exempt like the rest of us. On the other hand, he’s doing his current job well and maybe it’s unreasonable to expect him to do more before he gets paid more?

    1. Irish Teacher*

      Does he want to be promoted into the higher role? If not, then I don’t see any reason to push him to do so. On the other hand, it is probably reasonable to be clear to him about the situation and let him make his choice.

      Maybe start by asking him what his plans are and whether he is interested in higher roles, then let him know what would be expected if he does want this.

    2. Bagpuss*

      Given that he has said he is interested in professional development opportunities I would have a conversation with him, ask about what he sees himself doing in future and whether he is interested in moving up.
      IF he says he is, then you can explain what sorts of things that would entail. I wouldn’t raise the issue of his using his vacation time because that’s something he is completely entitled to and should not be discouraged, but you can set out that things like putting forward ideas and suggestions, going a bit beyond the bacs of the job etc are the sorts of things which you would be looking for. You can also mention that he’s expressed interest in courses but hasn’t followed through , and perhaps let him know that there’s no requirement to do them if he is happy in his current role and wouldn’t be seeking to move up, but that if he is, ts the sort of things where he needs to be a bit more proactive about asking for and following through with opportunities.

      1. feline outerwear catalog*

        Please ask! It’s possible that he wants to get promoted and doesn’t know how to do that. It’s possible he doesn’t come from a background where those things are taught, or has only worked other lower level non exempt jobs before where you were just expected to shut up and do your job.

        For example, my family is working class, I’ve had to teach myself everything about professional work. I’ve had some mentors, read this site, etc. and still don’t totally understand how promotions work. I’ve never been offered one. I know you can ask for them but I don’t know enough to know to tell when you’re good enough to ask for one. I’ve observed both mediocre and above average colleagues get them, it’s very inconsistent and observation only gets you so far.

        I would have loved to have someone to tell me how this works when I was younger. (or now but it’s extra awkward given I’m much further in my career now and should theoretically know all this, sigh.)

    3. A Simple Narwhal*

      Does he want to get promoted? It doesn’t sound like he’s expressed a direct interest in it. There’s nothing wrong with being good at your job and staying where you are. He might also change his mind someday!

      Unless he has specifically said he wants to get promoted, and you should have a clear conversation with him about this if you haven’t already, I do think it’s unreasonable to expect him to do more than his job.

    4. LondonLady*

      Some people just want to fulfil their contact, bank their pay, and enjoy life outside work. There’s no shame in that! It’s a conversation for your next review: what do you enjoy most? are there new things you’d like to try in the year ahead? where do you see yourself in x years’ time and how can we support you in your development?” etc.

      1. Random Dice*

        Yeah, I have a kid with special needs, and several other things taking up my bandwidth, there’s only so much “give” in my life for taking new things on.

    5. Be Gneiss*

      It’s also possible that he does want to do more, but he has things going on in his outside life that just won’t allow for that now.
      I think it’s something to have a conversation about, keeping 2 points in mind:
      1. It’s totally possible to really like a job, and to get very good at it….and to still not want to do *more* than what that job is. Not everyone wants to move up the ladder, and that is OK!
      2. His vacation time is his vacation time and if he wants to take it as soon as he earns it, that’s his business and it doesn’t mean he’s not committed to the job.

    6. Qwerty*

      When talking to him about career advancement, let him know about the behaviors that would prevent it. If he wants to advance, then its a problem. If he’s happy where he is, then it sounds like he’s fulfilling his role?

      Two caveats
      1) Using vacation as soon as it acrues is fine and is not a sign of how committed someone is. This is his compensation and should not affect how his performance is seen or his opportunities for advancement

      2) Are junior roles supposed to be short term at your company or is fine if he were to hang out in this role for 5yrs? In my field, junior devs are expected to get promoted out of the junior position after a couple years, so his job would be in jeopardy if he didn’t make effort or progress on advancement (those junior roles are our training pipeline). If that’s the case, he really really needs to know.

  42. Anonymous Pygmy Possum*

    Has anyone had any experience freelancing outside of a day job for a small amount of time? My previous company wants to bring me back on for a copy-editing/page layout job that I used to do while I was there. My current day job is tech writing – taking over that copy-editing/page layout job was the highlight of my job there and inspired me to go into tech writing full time, but it took in total 20-40 hours per quarter and there wasn’t enough tech writing work at that company to make it work there.

    I’m leaning towards probably not taking the contract work, since my day job gives me health insurance and takes out all my taxes for me and is thus higher priority, plus I doubt I’m going to have the energy to work 1 week per quarter at 60-80 hours. But is this something that people have made work in the past? How did you do it? I’d love to hear your perspective.

    1. Henry Division*

      Yep, I regularly do freelance work outside my FT job for some pocket money. But my job is also <40 hours a week most weeks, so I know I have a few hours for other projects, and I don't mind spending an evening finishing up my other work.

      Is it possible to explicitly ask to try out doing the freelance work for a week or two? Since you already have a relationship with the company, it seems feasible they might be receptive. But it also sounds like you don't want to . . . if so, give yourself permission to say no.

    2. Megan*

      I’m a tech writer who occasionally does freelance proofreading outside of my day job. It’s around the same number of hours as you list above. I’m a little meh on it. I value my free time, I already make enough money, and I hate dealing with the taxes, but I do like having the option.

      1. Megan*

        Whoops, meant to add that I like having the option AND having a network of professional contacts available to me in the event that I need more work.

    3. Nobody*

      Yes, I do it. I don’t love it, but it’s the only way I can afford to do some of the things I want to do.
      Actually, saying I don’t love it isn’t true. I don’t love the freelance work I currently do, but I’ve had much better clients in the past. For one client, I took a week off from my 9-5 each year. For the rest, I’ve just squeezed it in, doing the work in my car or a park at lunch, after work, early in the morning. Sometimes it sucks. Sometimes my partner drives me to work because I’ve been up til 4 am doing my freelance work and I’d be endangering everyone else on the road if I got behind the wheel.
      On the other hand, I’ve learned some really cool stuff and had some really good experiences. You just have to decide if the price you’ll pay (in free time, vacation time, etc) is worth the pay you’ll get for doing the work.

  43. Nonners*

    Does anyone who works in environment & climate change have any recommendations for gaining work that has direct impact on climate change?

    Skill set is project management, communications, some data analysis, user research; also teaching experience, as well as supervisory experience. I’m mid-career.

    I know that’s broad. I’ve been doing job board searches and am not finding much. Just wondering if anyone has a recommendation. Would some kind of program or certification in environmental studies be useful or no?

    1. M2*

      Look at environmental organizations specifically- Google environmental organization X city/ state. Top climate change non profits, whatever. Then look for roles in those organizations that you have held similar roles in your organizations prior. If you worked in comms then look for comms roles, etc. also, sometimes when you switch careers like this you’ll need to take a “step-down.” I don’t know if a certificate will help.

      Also, if you have time try volunteering for some environmental organizations that way you can learn more/ network and put on your resume.

      There are tons of environmental organizations such as Sierra Club, World Resource Institute, government agencies and many local and grassroots organizations. Good luck!

    2. Academic Librarian*

      ClimateBase and Work on Climate are great resources for climate tech jobs. also has many climate related jobs.

    3. Generic Name*

      Look up sustainability/resilience positions. I work in environment consulting and we have these roles. You could get LEED or Envision certified as well.

    4. Janeric*

      I would try to narrow things down a little. Do you want to work in emissions reduction? Conservation? Carbon sequestration? Emergency response? Restoration? Community adaptation? Legislative outreach?

      I don’t think any certificate in Environmental Studies outside of a degree from an accredited program would be helpful but MAN would your other skills be vital.

    5. Phlox*

      Checkout Idealist if you haven’t been already for jobs, and there are lots of roles in government too. Remember that climate work is intersectional and expansive so lots of work has direct climate change impacts but doesn’t have it in the mission title – better bus systems, utility strategies, farming and land management, etc.

  44. TotesAnonToday*

    So I had a day off today, which was nice, and I have spent most of the day firing off job applications because I have got to move on from where I am or I’ll make myself very sick, but that’s a whole other post.

    It could take a while for me to find a suitable job and in the meantime, I have to stay put but if my health continues to worsen because of the stress from this job, I’ll have to jump with nothing lined up. I have savings, so I can do about three months jobless.

    If I have to leave before I find something, how do I word ‘I had to leave because the job made me really ill’ in an interview? I’m never sure if to be honest or go for ‘I decided to look for other opportunities’ but the fact I hypothetically left without anything lined up would, if I was doing the hiring, have my spidey senses going off that not the entire truth was being told.

    1. Whomst*

      “Why did you leave your last job?”

      “I had a situation in my personal life that I needed to focus on.”

      Then you follow up on how the situation has resolved itself, and maybe sprinkle in some compliments about how you think an aspect of the job you’re interviewing for would be refreshing or is something you missed about working or whatever compliment. (The situation was your previous job sucked, and it resolved itself when you quit.)

      1. ecnaseener*

        Yes, or “a health issue that’s since been resolved” if you prefer. No need to say anything about the job causing the health issue.

    2. Happily Retired*

      I think Alison has frequently advised, “I left to deal with some [family] health issues that have resolved. I’m now ready for/ excited about a change and new challenges, and your job opening has really caught my attention!”

      The [family] part is optional, according to your comfort level. The second sentence would be tweaked to your situation.

    3. Random Dice*

      AAM just had a letter on what to say that isn’t about badmouthing your prior job.

      Keep it positive and focused on where you want to go.

      The hiring manager doesn’t care why your leaving, but does want to see you’re professional enough not to badmouth your ex employer.

  45. DiplomaJill*

    On my way to the office for the first time since March 12 2020. My director strategically planned a team lunch and then 2 hours later a team meeting, effectively forcing me to enter the office rather than just coming to lunch and rolling out after.

    What’s going to be the biggest shock? Or will this be anticlimactic?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      It’ll be anticlimactic.

      There might be some dust in a few places. There may not be any coffee in the kitchen. But it’s going to be cinematic in any way – not Indiana Jones, not a zombie show, not a Hallmark Christmas movie.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Depending on who you see, you might feel like it’s the first day of school after summer break. A lot of chitchat & planning but don’t expect much work to get done.

        1. DiplomaJill*

          Yeah, lots of chit chat occurred, and very little work, which sucked bc I had a lot of things to get done :grimace:

    2. Kettle Belle*

      Probably the routine of going back to the office after almost 3 years will be the biggest shock. It was for me. I returned to the office last March after working from home for 2 years. The whole routine of getting up early, commuting etc. wore me out the first week.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        It depends,lol. I think going from wfh to a full office would be a shock. We went back hybrid first, and it was easier to go back with just a few people in. However, I was surprised at how much it felt like a ghost town, mostly empty cubes but still decorated, some dead plants, etc. I went in a few times my myself for work related reasons before full reopening and it was eerie to see my calendar still hanging in my cube from March 2020.

        Meeting new people who joined the company while we were WFH was a little shocking in one case bc I didn’t realize one of my colleagues was ridiculously tall until I saw him towering over my cube, lol.

        Then, I started a new job where everyone was crammed into a too-small office. It ed awkward to be around so many people I’d just met. Thankfully, they were able to expand the office space. I joined after a bunch of hiring but before the new lease on bigger space started.

        Getting back into the habit of bringing lunch was not shocking per se but challenging, especially since both jobs had lacking options for nearby lunch spots and both cancelled their popup lunch programs.

        Remembering that I wasn’t alone anyhow, I tend to mutter to myself when I work and had to relearn to minimize it around others again. Also, stuff like muting my phone during the day, wearing headphones more frequently, etc.

    3. And I'm the alchemist of the hinterlands*

      The noise level was shocking to me. First it was from working from home for a year to an open office, and then working from home to a school (I have an office at least!) I wondered how the hell I ever got anything done in the open office before.

  46. Anon Gov Manager*

    So – Monday I have to have a meeting with a direct report, Ariel, where I tell them that their recent interaction with a client where they yelled at them, is entirely unacceptable. We are Government employees working with the public, and yes the public can be rude and difficult and disrespectful. It is not part of our job to take verbal abuse, HOWEVER, it is our job to not participate in the same behaviors that our public clients might show us. I’ll also say here – that while the clients are sometimes jerks and difficult, none of these individuals have actually reached a level of cursing, derogatory speech etc. Rude and disrespectful, condescending tones and phrases aren’t great, but they are not the level where we could cut off service. Especially as a gov agency serving public clients. But I want to make it clear that I’m not asking my team to withstand actual verbal abuse with a smile. 
    We’ve had some conversations before where we’ve discussed how frustrated Ariel gets, because the clients ARE frustrating. And we’ve talked about setting expectations about being a government employee and how yes, that means sometimes people don’t like the rules and what we tell them and try to go over our heads with varying degrees of success. And we’ve talked about how to share difficult news with clients in a way that doesn’t come off as harsh. How to navigate conversations with other agency employees who are prickly. But the recent yelling at a client changes so many things. (Also – the yelling was brief “You can’t talk to me that way” – not a verbal diatribe at least.) In hindsight I should have been more direct. I’m rethinking past conversations. I’m rethinking past complaints about this individual. I’m looking hard at my own failings as a manager. What I thought was just an impatient employee who doesn’t have the level of tact to move up the ranks in a Govt job and sometimes makes their own life more difficult, is perhaps actually a ticking time bomb, who is not cut out for this job, not just jobs at higher levels.
    So obviously during our meeting I have to make clear that 1) Yelling at a client is completely unprofessional and cannot happen again and 2) no matter how angry and frustrated a client makes us, staff essentially has to rise above.
    However – I’d appreciate opinions and thoughts on if I’m out of line with any of the rest of this. I think I admit that by trying to be kind I wasn’t as direct in some of our conversations as I should have been. I know I can’t pull out a laundry list of past infractions that I either let slide or now am looking at in a different light, but should I mention any of them? Or perhaps say that this behavior makes me look back and see a pattern. Because now I think I do see a pattern. This incident has me questioning past interactions and wondering if Ariel made certain situations worse by behaving rudely before. Every elevated complaint where I’ve had to step in, was with a person that for the most part, I personally, could not stand either when I had to work with them, so I gave Ariel the benefit of the doubt so often. But can I say that?  Should I tell them that until they rebuild trust they might have to work more closely with me, run communication by me, etc. Do I tell them that I’m going to have to be a different kind of boss with them because I’m partially blaming myself? And what if I uncover other ways they are doing their job wrong? 
    And do I need to tell them that if they can’t handle this, maybe it is best if they look for a different job?
    During our first conversation on Wednesday when this happened, before they were sent home – and had a previously approved vacation yesterday and today – they mentioned to me that something had to change. I didn’t dig into it then because emotions were high, they were in tears and I wanted Ariel to go home and calm down. However, I think perhaps the best thing to do is to reference that and see what they meant. And then make clear, kindly but clearly, that the clients are not going to change and so that the change has to come from Ariel. They must learn new ways to handle their anger and frustration and new ways to interact with clients. And if they cannot do that, then they need to think seriously if this is the role for them. If Gov work, or at least gov work where they are dealing with the public is the role for them. 
    I’m speaking with my supervisor this afternoon, but they are frequently less than helpful, as is agency HR. If we had an EAP program, I’d be making a referral, but we don’t. Perhaps my boss will tell me this afternoon that we have an anger management training or something similar we could send this individual to. This weekend I’ll be going back through the archives, perfecting a script based on Alison’s examples and practicing, but I’d appreciate thoughts from anyone who’s had to have a “is this job for you?” conversation before. Or anyone who’s been on the other side of it. And for anyone who’s realized that they’ve fallen into the Ruinous Empathy trap (Radical Candor reference) and how they’ve become a better manager after the fact and recalibrated with a particular employee.

    1. Bagpuss*

      “1) Yelling at a client is completely unprofessional and cannot happen again and
      2) no matter how angry and frustrated a client makes us, staff essentially has to rise above.”

      With two- specific examples of what that looks like, and also alternatives
      – for instance, we have policies which make clear that telling a client that their behaviour is not acceptable and that if they continue the call / meeting will be ended is permissible
      – Is it possible for Ariel to step out for a moment if she needs to?

      I don’t think that ‘just rise above it’ is, or should be, the ONLY option in the face of difficult situations
      IS there any way to demonstrate specific ways to de-escalate or cope with this kind of frustrating situation? In my job I am dealing with people who tend to be under a lot of stress and while that s mostly not directed at me (which may be different in your role) it often comes out in our interactions.

      Things like acknowledging that/why they are angry or frustrating, clarifying that they are being heard before going on to explain why I can’t necessarily give them what they want, even letting them talk themselves out before responding even if they are repeating themselves or going off topic are all practical ways that can help, but they can be counter intuitive. Obviously Ariel’s unacceptable reaction needs to be addressed but can you also then look at coaching / advising her on how to avoid or reduce those sorts of incidents.

    2. Decidedly Me*

      I’ve had to have the “is this job right for you?” conversation with someone before and it eventually led to them self-demoting (and he’s so much happier for it!). It’s important to set clear expectations around the role and see if that’s something they want to do. In your specific case, something like “I understand that clients can be frustrating at times, but that is not something that is going to change; there will also be those less than pleasant clients. Our/Your role requires that you can remain calm, professional, and helpful during these times. Does this sounds like something you are able to do and want to do?”

      If you’ve fallen into Ruinous Empathy – you can reverse it and do better moving forward. When having upcoming conversations, it’s ok to reference past events, even if you didn’t flag it then. Sometimes we don’t flag things due to empathy and sometimes something really looks like a one off until other events happen. Neither case means you can never speak of it again.

    3. EMP*

      specifically re: “And do I need to tell them that if they can’t handle this, maybe it is best if they look for a different job?” – Yes. It is a kindness to tell them that things are that serious, and if they can’t change their behavior they may be put on a PIP or otherwise lose their job.

    4. LondonLady*

      Sending sympathy from a former fellow “client care” manager here!
      Three things
      a) tell Ariel that no matter what, yelling at clients is never acceptable and you are warning them that if this ever happens again it will become a disciplinary issue, and that applies the same to any colleague in this situation. Allison has suggested wording on lines of “this is what the job requires, are you able to do this?”
      b) once that has been done, acknowledge that the role is stressful, clients can be unreasonable and ask Ariel how they generally handle stress, suggest some helpful techniques (eg the broken record, calm empathy “I get you are unhappy, and I’m sorry that’s the case, but unfortunately it doesn’t change X”, and disengagement “we’ve got as far as we can with this, so I am going to end the call/this conversation now”) and check in over next few days to see how it’s going.
      c) make more training and resources for dealing with difficult people available to your team in general.

      1. Hazel*

        All of what the other comments say, but you must permit Ariel an ‘out’ in these situations. Staff need to know they can be safe. Stepping away with a script (I need you to lower your voice or I’m going to have to pause / I am stepping a way for a moment until we can resume calmly etc) helps. You sound like the rare person who can ‘rise above’ always, but not everyone can. They are human and the dam will burst, so they and you must get used to them tapping out before that point. That said, they sound burned out and they know it. Can they do some filing etc a few hours a week as a break? Could you suggest roles they might transfer / apply to in gov? Could HR do a group session on stressful customer service interactions? Can you notice and reward good work not bad? Don’t question yourself or become punitive. This person doesn’t sound like a bad worker but a tired one.
        Signed, burned out former manager of burned out govt service staff.

    5. Prospect gone bad*

      Your comment is focusing on the behavior you don’t wanna see. That’s fine, but you’ve already told her what you don’t want to see. That approach isn’t working. Now you need to try coaching her with new ways to cope?

      You’re removing a behavior but what are you replacing it with? All she has is a hammer so everything looks like a nail

      She may need a personality transplant but also just more experience, many of us were in difficult jobs and you either get jaded or develop more stage presence to kind of put the other party in their place. So maybe frame it that way to her.

      I feel like, if you frame it purely as a disciplinary discussion, she may nod her head yes but I’m not really be paying attention or soaking it in

      I’m wondering if you can also give her some situations where she needs to escalate either to you or somebody else? Maybe she’ll feel more empowered if she knows that when a customer starts asking for certain things that are unreasonable, she has somebody else on speed dial?

      1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        This is such an important point! You could have her think about it like aikido where you just redirect the opponent’s attempts to hit you – basically moving their energy to the side, rather than putting your entire self in front of them and trying to stop their energy by hitting back just as hard.

        She could think of it like trying to collect stories of how she redirected rude customers, and how many times she used which phrase. I don’t know – this one is kind of weak, but might work. You both could come up with a list of phrases to use (like the ones you’ve gotten in this thread) and several jars out of sight of customers, labeled with a few of the phrases, and she puts a marble or a quarter in the one she uses and see at the end of the day which one she uses most. These are a bit weak (perhaps juvenile, so you want to make sure you’re not coming across as condescending or dismissing her concerns about being yelled at by customers) but might work for the right person. It would work for me!!

        A similar technique worked for me when I was dealing with a manipulative ex, I HAD to interact with him, was dependent on him in some essential ways while I was working to separate our finances, and could not trust a word he said. I would tell my brother ‘this is what he said today, that’s a new one’ or ‘he broke out the same old promises to give me the money tomorrow again’ and it changed the emotional charge for me by releasing the attachment to an (entirely reasonable) expectation of normalcy. I went from being outraged ‘I cannot believe this crazy making behavior’ to ‘haha, crazy unreasonable thing from page 5 of his use up playbook again’. Still infuriated me but it definitely brought things down several much-needed levels for me.

        But I agree with everyone else – firmness and directness is a kindness here. ‘No matter how much they may deserve it, yelling at customers is 100% never going to be an option, so let’s talk about ways to make that possible. Do you have some thoughts or do you want me to throw out some suggestions?’

    6. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      > I know I can’t pull out a laundry list of past infractions that I either let slide or now am looking at in a different light, but should I mention any of them?

      If there are recent incidents (in the last few months or so) that seem to make up a pattern, I think it’s fair to mention them, yes. If I was in your position I’d be saying something like “the incident on Wednesday got me thinking about a couple of previous times when x and y happened, and they seem to be forming a pattern”.

      > they mentioned to me that something had to change. I didn’t dig into it then because emotions were high, they were in tears and I wanted Ariel to go home and calm down

      The “something has to change” part is key to it I feel. Bring it up when you have the conversation, and I think it will make sense with the “this seems to be a pattern” piece. You might be surprised what the actual root of the problem is, and her outbursts of frustration are just a symptom. (I’ve no idea what specifically, but very often it’s the case that something that seems to be about x is actually about y. Of course be on the lookout for any ‘deflecting’ about that though!)

    7. Former Retail Manager*

      I’d do the following:

      1) Speak with Ariel and ask her what she meant when she said something has to change. It’s possible that she is realizing on her own that this position may not be for her much longer.

      2) As others said, clearly outline that yelling is never acceptable and outline other options that she has such as putting the call on hold, disconnecting the call or stepping away, or escalating the call/situation to a more senior employee or manager. Get her buy in that she will utilize these options when she realizes that things are escalating.

      3) Could all of the employees use some additional training in de-escalating tense customer service situations? If so, make that happen.

      4) Be straight with her that this job likely won’t change* and if she really can’t deal with it, she may need to look elsewhere.

      * = On that note, I once got a reassigned manager (to our location) who told me that our customers needed to be re-trained. I had no idea what she meant. Well, we dealt with customers who were similar to what you have described. Cursing at employees, expecting policies to be bent/ignored for them, having unrealistic expectations of what we could do for them, etc. and when you tried to push back or follow the policy, they could be very nasty/difficult.

      To remedy the situation, the manager had a meeting, outlined what would and would not be tolerated, policies that would be followed, consequences of not following the policy for employees, and for those difficult customers, she told us to deal with them to the best of our ability and if they became belligerent, she’d happily back us up, and she ALWAYS did. She told many a customer that certain language, behavior and/or abuse of the rules, would not be tolerated at her location and if they could not be respectful, they were welcome to take their business elsewhere. I recognize that the government doesn’t have competitors, but it should be made clear to clients that their behavior is unacceptable and won’t be tolerated. And maybe that’s as simple as some signs in the lobby about being respectful to employees, or maybe it means that you need to talk to upper management to see what can be done about refusing to serve certain clients, even if temporarily. Or perhaps forcing them to reschedule their appt to another date if the situation goes beyond a certain point. If there are never any consequences for their actions, people won’t change their behavior.

    8. Turingtested*

      I spent many years in customer service and have had that conversation many times, albeit in a quite different context. Some people just aren’t cut out to interact with the public but most just need coaching.

      I’d recommend giving her scripts for upset clients. Of course, the tone has to be right, but there are many calming phrases. “I’m really sorry this happened.” “I can offer you (alternative).” “I can tell you’re upset.” Obviously the scripts you use will be different but I’m sure there are situations that come up pretty frequently.

      On the flip side, I’d explain that fighting with customers just makes everyone’s day harder. It’s not about who’s right or wrong, it’s about getting through your shift pleasantly.

    9. lemon*

      I think there’s some good advice here. But I’d also be curious to get more context around these incidents. Yelling “You can’t talk to me that way,” sounds pretty self-protective. From my experience working in customer service, I know there are things clients can say that aren’t technically abusive/cursing, but still problematic AF, such as sexual comments or even just (repeatedly) asking personal questions like “do you have kids?” “Do you live alone?” “Do you have a boyfriend?” even after I’ve tried to politely shut it down several times. Are you sure something like this isn’t going on? If so, are there ways you can nip this problematic behavior in the bud and support employees (especially female-presenting ones), while also maintaining professionalism? Providing some scripts for that allow employees to be professionally assertive and maintain some control could help. For example: “comments of that nature aren’t allowed; if this continues I’ll have to end this call.” And then empower employees to actually end the call. I know yelling is absolutely unprofessional; but I think it arises from feeling out of control and like there aren’t options besides being told to just grin and bear it. This may not be what’s going on with Ariel but just wanted to point it out as a possibility.

  47. Another Academic Librarian too*

    I would like to express my extreme hate for the Universities software expense program- Chrome River.
    I need to create a “pre-approval” for travel.
    I get that I have an aversion to form filling out.
    The process is the opposite of intuitive.
    There is no “cheat sheet” or FAQ.
    It refuses to acknowledge that NYC is a destination and defaults to Arkansas. Which of course populates with the wrong numbers for hotels and per diem.
    Every human being in my division who can help me with this is on vacation.
    And although I have a bit of time, this is when I wanted to get this done.
    Letting go until next week.

    1. Little Beans*

      I work for a university as well. Pretty much every piece of software we use is NOT intuitive, unless our IT developed it ourselves. I don’t understand how these huge national companies that charge millions for their product all don’t seem to have user design teams…

      1. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

        Another Academic user saddled with Concur here!
        I’m an experienced enough user that I can compensate for the un-intuitive nature of the interface with familiarity, but it’s still obnoxious, glitchy, and much harder than it has to be. I don’t see how users who are less familiar cope with it. I know many of them just don’t — they get an assistant or staffer to do the Concur bit for them, or they just do their travel entirely off the books.

    2. Prospect gone bad*

      Lol That reminds me of some systems that have default metropolitan areas and instead of saying, New York New York, it’ll have some village a hundred miles away as the name for the metropolitan area. And then it skews all the search results

      1. Roland*

        Mine kept saying I was too high above the median price. Well, software, you’re the one including flights all days long to/from the small local airport when I told you I can’t leave until whatever time and want to use the international airport. Like yeah my supervisor isn’t as stupid as a computer and knows that 3 dollar train rides to the big airport are cheaper than taxis to the small close one and that I can’t leave before the meeting ends… Still annoying that they need to manually approve my “out of policy” request.

        1. Prospect Gone Bad*

          LOL so they tried to make the system AI without the “intelligence” part. Good luck friend

    3. Orsoneko*

      My employer (federal contractor) also uses Chrome River. It is AWFUL. I’m traveling for work in a couple of weeks and am already dreading having to submit the expense report.

  48. I'm in academia so norms are weird*

    What strategies have people who supervise/interact with graduate students used to help them develop professional workplace norms? My duties often involve supervising graduate students on year-long projects that are supposed to prepare them for applying their skills. I find that students without previous full-time work experience usually struggle with developing and sticking to timelines, keeping me/other colleagues in the loop, asking for help at an appropriate stage, and drafting reports and update presentations.

    I try to give feedback at every stage, set expectations at the start (though I can’t enforce these expectations as the unofficial project supervisor), and encourage students to proactively ask questions and communicate. This works well when I choose the student I work with, but I’ll often have a student assigned to me by my boss. I genuinely want to help the students develop their professional skills, but I’m at my wits end without having the option to put students on a PIP or fire them from the project, even when their behavior would warrant it in a non-academic workplace. Any advice to improve what I’m doing (or at least figure out how to stay sane)?

    1. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

      Can you give templates/previous examples for things like timelines/deliverables for projects, reports, presentations? I supervise multiple grad students, each with a distinct role, and at the end of their time in our office, they pull together materials to pass along to the next person in that role. There’s a “how-to” guide with useful info, as well as other documents & files that may be helpful.
      Also, how often do you have 1:1s or unofficial check-ins with these students?

      1. I'm in academia so norms are weird*

        Forgot to mention but yes, I do provide examples of timelines and reports/presentations. I also review them with students as part of my first 1:1 with them and try to explain the factors I think about when making each one. I also give them a written guide for the overall process, what my expectations are, and what they can expect from me (things like “I try to respond to emailed questions within one business day”). This also gets reviewed during that first meeting.

        I have standing 1:1s with students every other week for the first half of the year (though students know they can ask to meet more often), then weekly 1:1s the second half of the year. The first half is spent learning background information on the project (reading papers/information I send them + finding and reading more papers) and developing an idea, so meetings mostly consist of planning/brainstorming with me. The second half is spent on data analysis and writing the final report.

        1. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

          Have you given your boss any feedback? Something like, “I’ve noticed some of our hires lack the oral and written communication skills necessary for this position. Can we find a new way to screen for these qualities when we hire?” (Or at least, that’s my takeaway from the info you provided – it’s not necessarily that the students lack work experience, but they lack some specific skills.)

          1. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

            Basically, it sounds like you are doing everything you reasonably can, and the issue is with your boss’s hiring/selection process.

          2. I'm in academia so norms are weird*

            This is a good idea, thank you! I have given informal feedback to my bosses but haven’t explicitly asked if we can do some screening for specific qualities. It’s a bit too late to do that for this project cycle, but it’s definitely something I’m going to bring up once we wrap up our current students.

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      It sounds like you are doing everything right. When you have a student doing so poorly and not responding to feedback that you would normally put them on a PIP or fire them, could you possibly tell them that?

      “We’ve had multiple conversations about being professional/meeting deadlines/communicating properly/etc. Part of the point of this project is to prepare you for the workforce, so I want to be honest with you that in any other situation you would be placed on a PIP or removed from the project and/or fired. I want to help you develop your professional skills so that you can be successful in the future, and your current conduct is not conducive to that.”

      I am worried that some people might hear that and go “so what you’re saying is that you can’t fire me” and then double down on the bad behavior, but hopefully most would understand how serious this is and that your feedback isn’t a suggestion for them to take or leave.

      I know I’ve been in situations early in my career when a supervisor would provide feedback but I took it to be a suggestion on how something might be done differently and not them pointing out a real issue that needed improvement, and it took a Very Serious conversation for me to realize what they were really saying and put real effort into changing. So maybe something like that might jumpstart improvement?

      1. I'm in academia so norms are weird*

        I really like the phrasing you used here! Since I don’t have the official standing to approve/reject the project deliverables, maybe I’ve been getting in my head about it not being “ok” to deliver that kind of feedback. I’m going to give this a try in my next meeting – fingers crossed!

        This also makes me think I should talk to my boss about having a more clearly defined role in the process than “unofficial mentor” if I’m doing more of the routine supervision. I’m not sure if that means asking to be part of the decision to approve/reject deliverables or something else, but definitely something to think about.

    3. Overeducated*

      I’m very clear that the difference between school and work is that in my workplace, we do NOT want you to go work on your own and solve the problems yourself until you are ready to turn in a final product. We want frequent communication about how you’re doing, regular updates and visibly sharing your work-in-progress in some form, and we want your supervisor and/or other team members to have time to give input WELL before a final due date because we value a collaborative process and the product reflects on all of us. It’s just a totally different expectation and culture, and I think it’s important to state it outright in the beginning.

      And then beyond that, I think you may be expecting them be able to break down the project into smaller pieces or understand communication norms at a level they may not actually have the knowledge for yet. Do you schedule regular check-ins once or twice a week and give them expectations for what it looks like to keep you in the loop, rather than asking them to proactively do that and come to you with questions? Can you help them understand what reasonable timelines look like and how to set up interim deadlines? I think providing clear and explicit schedules, expectations, and milestones rather than expecting them to be able to plan that can be helpful.

      That said, I get how hard this is and I don’t have all the answers – I had an experience with a recent graduate who just…wasn’t showing me any work product on the schedule I needed to see it, despite weekly discussions and me constantly asking what the obstacles were and trying to problem solve…and I didn’t really figure out a way around that. In that case, I honestly think it was an issue of the work being a bad fit for the individual, and they eventually found a more appealing opportunity.

      1. I'm in academia so norms are weird*

        I didn’t include this in my original post, but at the start of the project I provide an example timeline and explain how I break tasks down and estimate how much time they’ll take.

        I also give them a written guide for the overall process, what my expectations are (things like “If your code isn’t working, try searching xyz forums to see if someone’s had a similar problem. If you don’t find solutions or if they don’t work, email me a summary of the issue, which lines of code are affected, and any links that reference the solution you’re trying to implement”) , and what they can expect from me (things like “I try to respond to emailed questions within one business day”). This also gets reviewed during that first meeting.

        Then I have standing 1:1s every other week for the first half of the year (since they are learning background information by reading papers/information I send them + finding and reading more papers) and weekly 1:1s the second half of the year (since this is when they are doing data analysis and writing). I leave about five minutes at the end of each meeting to restate their next steps and my next steps based on our discussion, which includes any work product I expect to see before the next meeting.

        Can you explain a little more how you set expectations for the nature and frequency of communication? I think I include this in meeting wrap-ups, but maybe there’s a better way to do this or I’m not being as clear as I think.

      2. I'm in academia so norms are weird*

        Oh and yes, I make sure to emphasize that we need opportunities to provide feedback at every stage! This includes guidance for how far in advance of deadlines different types of things (proposal drafts, presentation slides, etc) need to be shared and also ad hoc reminders like “Hey I have a reminder that I need the revised xyz draft from you in four days so I can review it in time for the deadline. How’s that progressing?”

        While I would definitely like to give them an explicit schedule for all the tasks they’re going to do, I have clear instructions to NOT do that since a learning goal is project management. They get one deadline from their department (for the final deliverables) and the rest is supposed to be up to them, so the most I’m permitted to do is guide them and show them examples of how I set up my own projects.

    4. AFac*

      If you figure out something that works for every student you could earn millions giving workshops in your technique!

      In addition to what others are proposing, sometimes you can use other students as informal peer mentors. Don’t actually make them oversee other students, that’s not what their job is. But if you can get them to spend time together, even mostly socially, sometimes seeing other students using their professional skills at appropriate times will provide examples for those who need more of a reminder.

      1. I'm in academia so norms are weird*

        Haha if I figure out the secret formula I’ll look forward to early retirement!

        Peer mentoring is a really good point, although sometimes tricky to do. Some years we’ll have multiple students so peer mentoring works, but other years (like this one) we only have one student. In that situation I could suggest the student talk to their peers to get some examples, but I suspect that won’t have quite the same effect as seeing their peers in the same work environment.

        1. linger*

          Academic programs for grad school degrees usually take multiple years, so when no exact peers are available, are students able to compare notes with others who have completed projects with you in the past few years but who may still remain elsewhere in the program? Or is the practical project one of the last steps before graduation?

  49. Kat Maps*

    I’ve found myself in a situation I’d appreciate some outsider input on.
    A month shy of two years ago, I began in a new role that I was VERY excited about. I was over-the-moon elated when I was offered the job. My colleagues are lovely, and at the time my manager also seemed great. I was very happy. There was one other person, “Brenda”, with whom I shared a large majority of tasks, and our roles were very similar. Our titles were slightly different and she was a couple pay bands above me (totally fair considering her education and years experience), and we got along great.
    A few months before Christmas, Brenda was offered a job at another company. Before she left, she strongly encouraged me to apply for her job when it was posted (unionized – all open roles must first be posted before they’re filled). Several other people in our department also told me (and repeatedly encouraged me) to apply for her job when it was posted. Taking Brenda’s former role would basically be one of my only opportunities to move up in our department.
    Our busiest season came and went and I managed the work load of two people (what would have been shared between Brenda and I) without breaking a sweat. Then, in a team meeting, my manager announced unceremoniously that Brenda’s role was not going to be re-posted, instead that those extra tasks would be divided out between 4 new, more general roles (that would include other tasks), within the same pay band as me. I felt totally crushed when this was announced.
    To make matters worse, coworkers have kept asking me about Brenda’s job. I’ve had to say, while attempting to maintain a neutral air, that it would not be posted. Other people have been upset on my behalf.
    I’ve been feeling like garbage at work. I feel like management haven’t noticed that I’ve been managing the work of 2 people without letting a single thing fall through the cracks. I’m REPEATEDLY saying in meetings that I’m caught up on my work, waiting for work, or completely without work.
    I know I need to have a conversation with my manager about this, and I plan to next Friday in our 1:1. I’m really nervous about this, though. I’m successfully managing an increased workload, with no increase in pay and (seemingly) no opportunity for advancement. I’m bored as-is, but will have to be sharing my workload with others soon (new people not hired yet).
    I saw a job posting a few weeks ago that I thought I would be a decent fit for, and just uploaded a resume without even bothering to write a cover letter (I applied out of spite). They called me to set up an interview also next Friday (a couple hours after my meeting with me manager).
    I know that I obviously NEED to have a conversation with my manager about my role, opportunities for advancement (or lack thereof), and salary, but honestly I felt so lousy after learning that Brenda’s role wasn’t going to be re-posted, and I’m questioning whether I still even want to work under this management. Am I being too emotional about how this whole thing played out? Is this just standard “how things are done?” Also, how terrible would it look going forward to only have a 2-year stint appear on my resume?

    1. irene adler*

      ” how terrible would it look going forward to only have a 2-year stint appear on my resume?”
      Not terrible at all. You gained all the good out of that position and now it’s time to move forward.

      You can also justify moving on after 2 years because of the lack of career progression at your current company. I’m referring to: “Taking Brenda’s former role would basically be one of my only opportunities to move up in our department.”

      Unexpected things like this can happen. Sure, the company should be more straightforward with such things. They weren’t. You now have an opportunity to go elsewhere to a place that hopefully offers more upward career progression (ask about this!). No harm in exploring this opportunity. Maybe it isn’t so great; maybe it’s your golden opportunity to find a company that won’t jerk you around like your current company.

      NOTE: opportunities don’t ever show up on time or on your schedule. So you have to grab them when they appear. Would you advise a friend to pass by a golden opportunity because they may have to leave their current position after 2 years? Nope. So don’t do that to yourself either.

      1. Kat Maps*

        Thanks so much for this reply. I appreciate the reminder that things won’t happen on my schedule, but that I can still explore different opportunities.

    2. Honor Harrington*

      It sounds like you would like to stay at the company but are realizing there is no room for growth. You need to talk to your manager to confirm there is no plan to develop you, but it doesn’t sound like there is. It’s normal to be upset if you’d like to stay but can’t grow – but your only option to grow is to leave. This is a case where you need to be loyal to yourself and your needs. If you are getting interviews that quick, you are valuable, and could likely find another job and make more money elsewhere, potentially in a job with a lot of growth.

      1. Kat Maps*

        Your assessment is spot-on, I do love where I currently work, but new managers within my department have been making a few of us quite unhappy. It’s hard to imaging potentially leaving great colleagues for the unknown, but I’m so eager to grow my career, and it doesn’t look like that will be here.

    3. Prospect gone bad*

      Can you ask for a raise based on this? I would view you as a good employee deserving of a raise. But I do think that you handling two jobs without breaking a sweat is also a reflection on the overall workload, even if I loved you I wouldn’t be posting a job that got done so easily, I’d wait for there to be a real need. But I also wouldn’t want to leave you hanging, so would throw more money at you

      1. Random Dice*

        Exactly. From their point of view, the job is being done by one person. When the successor does two jobs easily and is bored, the assumption is that the workload is fine (and the prior person must not have been very good).

    4. Silence*

      It sounds like you were trying to communicate competence by saying you were all up to date and boss interpreted it as there isn’t enough work for two people.i would recommend listing everything you have worked on, and any specific skills they take.

  50. searching*

    I’d like to work with a career coach. I searched linkedin, and there are SO MANY. how do I find one that works for me? what do I look for in assessing whether someone is a good fit? if you have specific recommendations for a career coach with experience in tech and startups, I’d love to hear them!

    1. EMP*

      I haven’t worked with one but the first thing I’d do is see if they have previous clients who are willing to be references for their work.

      1. RagingADHD*


        There are zero qualifications required to call yourself a career coach, and I have known a spate of people who were very poor in actual job skills but great at self-promotion who set up their shingle as coaches. There are some good ones, but the field is rife with grifters.

    2. Waterlily*

      I have worked with one; I’m about to work with a second. To find the right one, I would say know these things about yourself:

      Is there a thing you want to be better at? (Managing people, managing your boss, getting promoted)
      Is there a direction you’re looking to head towards? (Small org to big org? Mid-career into later career?)
      Are you thinking about a major transition?

      I would look up Joel Garfinkle and/or Patty Azzarello.

      Administrator: Please forgive me if we’re not allowed to name names.

      Spoiler alert: Sometimes working with a coach is 50% just someone keeping you accountable to stuff. Still worth every penny!

  51. Leandra*

    In last week’s thread, an interview candidate wanted to push back against a potential employer’s lack of a 100% remote work option. The consensus was that the issue was the candidate’s willingness to accept that policy, not the employer’s being right or wrong about it.

    Does anyone have specific stories they can share, about why some employers don’t offer 100% remote? Maybe a department has a certain level of onsite work, and a hybrid schedule ensures that everyone pulls a fair share. Or employees kept pushing flexible boundaries to a point where the employer withdrew the privilege instead.

    On the former, I think ExEmployer will have to enforce a hybrid schedule if it goes through with a restructure of my ExDepartment. On the latter, I’m thinking of the AAM reader’s colleague who was approved for 100% remote work, then was fired for moving abroad without the employer’s knowledge or authorization.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I just had a phone screen for a job that was listed as hybrid in another city but I applied anyway. We concluded that it wouldn’t work because I’m not willing to relocate– it’s a high-level job that requires meeting with lots of external people and a lot of in-person conferences and meetings. The VP wants to work very closely with the new hire for at least the first 90 days. I figured I’d give it a shot (they do have an office here, but it serves a very different function), and it didn’t work, but hey, 15 minutes of talking about it was worth it. So that’s one reason.

      I had another interview where they insisted everyone go into “an” office once a week and I thought that was complete bs, but it’s not my call.

    2. EMP*

      My job is officially 100% in person. In practice, we have 2 remote teammembers (consequences of covid hiring). So, some of our work can be done 100% remotely, and they are great contributors, but it ultimately relies on having people in the office who can do the physical side (think, lab work) for the remote employees. During peak covid we worked out hybrid schedules but basically whoever was in the office would spend all day as “in person support” for whoever was remote, and overall while we were productive, it wasn’t as smooth as having most people available to do their own lab work.

      1. Don't Call Me Shirley*

        I’m in a similar situation, full remote depends on some in office people doing only the least desirable work, and we find the remote folks don’t get an intuitive understanding of the physical side of our work.

      2. Random Dice*

        Moving abroad is really bad from a tax and legal compliance perspective. The company can be in a world of problems.

    3. Prospect gone bad*

      The few very young and inexperienced people I manage don’t know what they don’t know, everyone online just says it’s a management issue as if I just have some magic wand to make them awesome experience employees through Skype. But then every time I called him or text him, I feel like I’m interrupting them or they ask if we can talk later because they’re doing something. And then I realize that they are busy but it’s because they’re doing a lot of sloth manually that could be automated or they’re checking stuff manually that they could just pull one bag of report for or they could delegate some of the task to an admin person or, maybe there’s some larger issue like a vendor sending data in individual word documents instead of a spreadsheet, and they have an escalated it to me so I can yell at the vendor. So there’s been a lot of wasted time and lost productivity, sort of a death by 1000 cuts. And because I don’t know what they do all day unless I monitor their computers, sometimes it’s easier just to meet in person once a week and sort of shadow each other or just sitting there each other and then they talk at me all day.

      I’m also seeing a trend where everybody acts like it’s a huge deal to go to the office, but then when we get there they’re talking and laughing and staying late and having fun. So I feel like some of it it’s just people finding it hard to break out of their daily habit rather than concrete logistical issues for most of them

      1. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

        “it’s a management issue as if I just have some magic wand to make them awesome experience employees through Skype”

        “It’s a management issue” doesn’t mean “wave your magic wand and make the employees somehow know what you/the company expects through osmosis,” it means things like,

        -Give your employees clear and structured expectations about how they should be using their time, how often they should update you about what, and when they can expect you to check in for updates.
        -When you call or text for a pre-scheduled update and they are busy, you are allowed to interrupt, and remind them that they were scheduled to update you by this time. You can ask them what caused the delay, how to correct for it in the future, and when they will be able to give the update you needed now.
        -Give your employees clear guidance about what they should handle on their own versus what they can delegate or escalate at their discretion, and what they are *expected* to delegate or escalate. For things they are expected or allowed to delegate or escalate, clarify *how* they should do it, to whom, under what circumstances.
        -For tasks that can be automated, or for which there is a more-time-efficient and less-time-efficient ways to perform, tell employees which method to use under which circumstances, and make sure they are trained on how to run the report or use the automation process or whatever.

        You *could* do all this stuff piecemeal and casually by watching an employee in person to see what they already know or can figure out on their own, what they do reliably and consistently versus what they’re uncertain or irregular about… and then correcting or filling in the gaps. But you don’t *have* to manage that way; you can tell and ask and train instead. And you can tell and ask and train many, though not all, skills and tasks remotely or in person; some people and a few tasks or skills can actually be trained *better* remotely — tasks that are highly computer-mediated, for instance, via screensharing.

        Circling back to Leandra’s question at the start of this thread,
        A minor but irregularly-timed component of my job requires me to be on site, so I’m in the office (though in a different room/building from coworkers) full time; could probably manage part time if the timing of this task were more predictable. Think emergency maintenance, or shipping and receiving, or monitoring laboratory experiments. Essential job functions requiring personnel on site is an excellent reason for some jobs not to be fully remote.
        Another component of my job is sort of like client or customer service, with a consulting/collaborating element. That doesn’t actually *require* me to be on site –I still did this task, remotely, during the height of the pandemic–but it’s sometimes more efficient or effective to meet in person, depending on the person’s communication style and what I’m assisting them with. Sometimes all the ‘help’ they need is to know a knowledgeable person is on hand to help them immediately if they run into difficulty, and if we’re in person, I can be on standby for them while still accomplishing my other work in a way that’s not possible if we’re on phone, skype, zoom, etc. I’ve also had a couple project meetings with colleagues that I suspect would not have been as productive had we tried to do them remotely (and a couple of remote meetings with same team, same project, that were extremely productive AS remote and could not have been improved by being in person, partly due to the in-person meetings setting up for the remote ones and vice-versa).
        Job functions where occasional in-person options have the potential to add value or enhance productivity are another good reason not to commit to 100% remote for every job that *could* be done remotely. But the in-person or on-site option needs to *actually* add value to that specific job/task and not just be assumed to because someone prefers it (any more than remote assumed universally better just because someone prefers it); and not create additional difficulties.

        I do 9% of my job ‘remotely’ even while I’m full time in the office. My boss manages me remotely; I’ve been trained in new procedures/systems remotely, and trained and semi-supervised (under our shared boss) 3 new coworkers more or less remotely — one solely remote, one fully on site (thought our interactions have been about 75% remote) and one through the transition from remote to on-site (who I continued to interact with predominantly remotely after we we both fully on site). If my job consisted only of those 90% functions, I *could* do it wholly remotely, and 100% remote should be an option for that position (just as 100% on site would be an option, and any mutually-agreeable hybrid schedule should be in that case.)

        Mileage obviously varies.

  52. curious chamomile*

    Not about *my* work but a question I assume somebody in this comment section may have an answer for: what’s up with the age maximums on IRS jobs?

    I have a public policy degree and no longer work in that field, but I’m in alumni groups for my college and recently saw another alum post a JD for a position doing fraud investigations for the IRS. The listing specifically said applicants may be no older than 37 years old (along with all other required qualifications and certifications).

    A quick Google didn’t really say *why* there is an age cap, just that they can legally have one – but why have any max age? And why the somewhat-arbitrary age of 37?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      These are not desk jobs. They need these people to be physically active (participating in an early-morning raid plus long hours hunting down documents and evidence), and they want to get at least 10-15 years out of the employees after they go through a long academy training process.

      Probably the same kind of thing for the FBI, DEA, BATF.

      1. curious chamomile*

        Interesting! I was going to guess they were looking for people who could commit to a long tenure in the role, but I hadn’t considered that the IRS has employees who do actually have to go haul all the fraud evidence out. Thanks!

  53. annbellyjelly*

    One of my parents died this month and it’s been a struggle to keep on top of work, especially when we lost a key staff member in last month. We have a new staff member joining next week, and I thought we did an ok job of keeping on top of everything given being short staffed and I’ve been in a haze. I was shocked yesterday when one of my newest part-time hires complained to my boss (who had also been out sick, it’s been a fun few weeks) that they were being ‘excluded’ from things, such as a meeting with some VIPS (that I also wasn’t at because I was doing funeral things).

    There were multiple complaints and accusations to my boss about me and another one of my staff members… but the thing was, we were right in the office when these complaints were being made. We were all, including my boss, blindsided. At least we were able to pitch in and defend ourselves, because we were right there. My boss has given me a lot of grace in accepting that work output has been unusually mediocre given the circumstances, but wow it stings not to have the same grace afforded by a new part-time, staffer. I’d laugh but my coworker was really rattled and my boss and I have some serious team-building to do now.

    1. mouse*

      It sounds like you’re going through a ton right now and your boss is giving you grace because they know it’s not the norm for you. Your new employee doesn’t. They just know they’re being excluded and that it’s impacting them.
      Maybe it matters maybe it doesn’t – but they have no reason to give you grace since they have no relationship to indicate this behavior is out of the ordinary.

      My condolences on losing your parent, that’s never easy and it’s incredibly consuming to manage the process or be involved in managing the process on top of the grief.

      1. Random Dice*

        Nobody has the RIGHT to get to meet muckety-mucks immediately. I don’t want my VIPs to be exposed to someone who hasn’t proven they know social and professional norms.

        Which this person decidedly does not.

    2. WellRed*

      You just lost a parent. Can you just not “stay on top of work.” I certainly didn’t and made it clear upfront. It’s unreasonable and impossible. Speaking of unreasonable: the new employee. Buckle in, it’s just the first stop on what promises to be a bumpy ride with them.

      1. annbellyjelly*

        I thought I had communicated that we were doing the bare minimum given that we were short staffed and that I was out on bereavement and then in and out. We are public facing and that work becomes priority whereas some of the other stuff (mostly MY tasks for my boss) have just not been getting done, and that’s been ok. The part timer, I think, does not have that context though that a lot of background work has essentially been put on hold.

        And yea, there’s a lot to unpack from everything they said. I also feel bad for my other coworker who has really shouldered a lot in my absence and now feels slighted by the newbie.

          1. NL*

            Yeah, this isn’t “team-building needed” like the OP said. This is firing the newbie territory. Wow.

    3. Prospect gone bad*

      Do they know your parent died? Also I could go either way with this one. One might be that they’re sort of afraid of complaining to you at this time because they think that you’re already overwhelmed. I know there is that they’re being petty going over your head. But another more generous reading is that none of this is that intense and they were just wondering why they weren’t being invited to stuff, not officially lodging a huge complaint

      1. annbellyjelly*

        Yeah they knew, my parent got sick, was in hospital a few weeks, died, and we had the funeral in the span of a month. I was open about it all because I knew there was no way my work wouldn’t be affected (I’m the supervisor/middle manager).

        I am not sure why they brought the complaints up the way they did, because it is basically an open office setting and my boss just so happened to stop by their desk. It was a long list of things. I overheard the complaints of being excluded, but walked over when I heard my name as someone at that meeting (the coworker was more upset at not being invited to meet the VIP than the meeting itself). I clarified that I absolutely wasn’t there and even though I was in the office by the time the meeting ended, I did not meet VIP either, no biggie. The coworker who set up the meeting (coworker B) said the VIP had a tight schedule and there wasn’t time for stopping by to say “hi”.

        Then there were complaints that an intern showed up 30 minutes early and they didn’t know what to do with the intern until someone else got back from lunch (with an accusation that we were wasting this intern’s potential and/or that he was being mismanaged).

        Another complaint was about my facial expression one time when I asked a question. I apologized about my face and said I had been dealing with a lot, the boss validated that, and Coworker B said “I think we have all just had our heads above water and have been trying to support annbellyjelly at the same time.”

        Another complaint was that a former coworker who got promoted to another office called me to have a conversation, and they felt left out of the conversation. The unscheduled call was about a project we had started working on jointly before the part-time staffer was even hired. Again boss validated me because I had literally just told the boss about that very conversation.

        There were other comments, that they had too much work to do but also that work was being “kept” from them. I walked away at that point and went back to my desk and just let my boss listen to it all.

        Right after, my boss took me out for coffee and was like “what was THAT?!” as they were so blindsided. I vented a lot, and we came up with some ideas together.

        1. The Ginger Ginger*

          This all seems like an issue more with the employee than you. Like they’re storing up grievances and making things that bug them incredibly personal and defaulting to the worst possible meaning behind every action. Very mountains out of molehills. I know there’s no tattling at work in reality, but it definitely has the feel that this person thought of this as tattling (and felt good about that, to be clear). Or that they’ve been internalizing all this and just word-vomited it up at the soonest opportunity.

          You’re having an incredibly rough month, so I’m sure this is just one more thing on a pile of wretched things, but I would encourage you to A) NOT take this personally and B) take this as a sign that this person’s judgement is a bit off, so they may need to be monitored.

          1. Prospect gone bad*

            Yeah this is going into petty minutia not good. I no longer am giving employee benefit of the doubt

            Once you get into analyzing facial expressions, trying to add negative emotion to something that didn’t exist, you’re being too petty

    4. Water Lily*

      Wow. That new employee. You know what I’d do? I’d ask your boss to bring in HR. I’d document this and use whatever channel your company has to file a grievance against the new part-time employee. That behavior is absolutely unacceptable, and it’s as heinous as harassment.

    5. Random Dice*

      I’m going to guess that this part-time hire isn’t going to last long.

      Nothing says “let’s keep and promote this person” quite like accusing your new bosses of excluding you – the newbie – from your godgiven right to rub elbows with VIPs before proving yourself.

  54. What's in a Board?*

    People talk about boards for companies and non-profits here a lot and I don’t really understand them. Care to share your expertise?

    My attempt at research turned up a lot of business jargon and a lot of stuff trying to sell me things, but very little about concrete details. I’m guessing it varies a lot between corporate vs non-profit. I find the idea of being on a board appealing, but am not sure I know enough to actually make that decision and definitely don’t have any info on pursuing it.

    – What does a board member actually do?
    – What is the time commitment to be a board member? I’m guessing these are unpaid roles
    – How does one become a board member? Are there job postings or is this purely a networking thing? If networking, how do you even find board members to network with if you aren’t already part of the boys club?
    – How much influence does a board actually have on a company/non-profit?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      For a for-profit corporation, think of it like a parliamentary democracy.
      The shareholders are citizens.
      They elect members of parliament, aka the board of directors.
      The members of parliament choose the prime minister & several other officers, and then are responsible for serving as a check on them; similarly the board of directors hires the CEO and several other members of senior management, and then has performance metrics for them.

      Now that’s the civic textbook way to think about it. In reality, the board members are often either the representative of the largest shareholders (the pension fund, mutual fund, or hedge fund managers who own huge chunks of the shares), or they are senior officers/retired senior officers of that company or other companies. For the Fortune 500 companies, the way to get on the board is to either be the retired CEO/CFO/COO of a different Fortune 500 company or be one of the people who runs the hedge fund that own 10% of the outstanding shares.

      Smaller companies – especially startups – will try to find board members who can offer good insight & advice, or connections to potential customers.

      Nonprofits often try to find board members with management expertise or subject-matter expertise, or who have networks that can be tapped for fundraising.

    2. curious chamomile*

      It depends a lot on the org and what the board is used for! I have worked with and served on nonprofit boards, so that is what I can speak to.

      The duties for board members really run a huge gamut: some are working boards who do daily operations work, others are more like a steering committee who just provide guidance to the staff, and others are super hands-off and mostly there to write some nice checks each year. Most of the boards I’ve worked with have been in that steering committee category, where they provide feedback, direction, and strategic planning expertise, but the paid staff at the org are the ones who actually make decisions and execute projects.

      Currently, I am the Vice Chair for Revenue Strategy for the board of directors for a national sustainability nonprofit. It is an unpaid volunteer role and I usually have about 6 hours’ worth of duties each month, including a few exec team meetings with the org’s leadership, trimesterly board meetings, and working on some larger fundraising projects with the org’s staff. I really like these projects because I get to keep up on a lot of valuable professional skills and I am excited about the work the org does.

      I was recruited to this position a few years ago by a former colleague who was transitioning off the board and knew about my background as a sustainability fundraiser and organizer. I first spoke with the org’s leadership and then submitted some information and a resume to the board’s recruitment/development committee. For me to join the board, I was formally voted in by the other board members.

      Other boards I’ve worked with have occasionally put out calls for board member applicants, and many have approached individuals who already have some connection/relationship to the org to see if those folks would like to contribute more directly. In my sector, relationship-building and networking are definitely a factor for joining a board – for example, I have colleagues who were student organizers with the org and had deep relationships with the staff before ever considering joining the board.

      I think it’d be useful for you to consider why you’d like to be on a board and what kinds of contributions (practical skills, tangible resources, off-the-wall ideas, etc.) you’d be interested in volunteering, and that may help you plan your next steps. I’d recommend building professional connections at orgs whose work you support and/or whose work intersects with your career goals. Volunteering with those orgs on a regular basis or for an entire project can help you get to know the org and its people (and if it feels too “boys club”-ish for you, or the time commitment seems bad for you, or you don’t actually like the environment, etc… you can know that isn’t where you’d want to keep volunteering!). Let your friends and colleagues know you’re interested in contributing your out-of-work time to a board, and they may already know of a group who is seeking more board members.

      Best wishes!

      1. What's in a Board?*

        Thanks for the thorough response

        No one in my network has any knowledge or ties to boards unfortunately.

        My reasoning is complicated and my hope is the stepping stones will help me figure out if I even want to do it. I think it boils down to I think I’d be useful? I like being helpful.

        Part of it is that it seems like an alternate to being an executive. I’m good at high level strategy stuff – jobs always want to move me to the business side and fast track me. I’ve had two bosses* (VP & Pres at different companies) try to groom me for the executive track, but my heart lies in writing code all day. Unfortunately you can’t be a higher-up while being a regular engineer.

        I also feel like a lot of boards don’t have people who understand tech, which is probably more an issue for the corporate side than non-profit. The result is a huge disconnect and a scramble after every board meeting to redo the strategy, which often doesn’t end up lining up with realistic possibilities. Or its easy to hide bad info from the board because of hand-wavyness around the tech side. The only two smooth running companies I’ve been at had the C-suites and board/investors aligned because they shared a common language on what the company actually did.

        *Not part of my network because of Reasons. All I will say here is that all the women left each of their teams around the time I did.

    3. the Viking Diva*

      Not sure what terms you were searching on that brought up jargon, but I think corporate boards and nonprofit boards can be pretty different. There are also differences between boards for all-volunteer nonprofits (who don’t have a staff at all) and boards of nonprofits that have an executive director and professional staff. To learn more about nonprofit governance and the role of boards, has a lot of good intro-level articles.

      1. What's in a Board?*

        oooh, this site is lovely, thank you! I’ve been wanting to better understand how non-profits function and they have lots of info on that as well!

    4. Intern Wrangler*

      Thank you for considering this. I am speaking from my experience in the nonprofit sector. Board members are hugely important and valuable. As mentioned before, the role of a board member varies widely from organization to organization. I think what is always expected is a passion for the mission and a willingness to be an ambassador for it, willing to talk about it and share about it. There is also a responsibility to be a good steward of the resources of the organization.
      Board members play a critical role for the organization. They are there to think strategically and to bring different areas of knowledge and experience to the work. I think the most important asset of a board member is a willingness to ask questions because those doing the day to day work can get stuck in ruts or in what they know or how they’ve always done it. A board member has a unique perspective. They have a great opportunity to set direction and vision for the organization.
      Board member openings are posted on volunteer websites and LinkedIn. Sometimes organizations like Board Repair or BoardLead can help facilitate matches. You can also go to the website of organizations you are interested in and see if they have any posted openings. Good luck!

    5. Water Lily*

      I can answer your last question regarding a board influence on a non-profit. A good board shouldn’t attempt to influence things too much. When they start to meddle, they can really mess things up. They are largely in place as guardrails and support. Where I’ve been boards do their best is when there are catastrophic issues: an animal shelter loses its lease on a warehouse and needs a space; a performing arts venue is recovering after a pandemic; a food pantry needs more suppliers urgently- situations like that are usually when board members use their influence to make connections, open doors, facilitate conversations.

    6. Wordybird*

      I worked at a non-profit with a handful of staff and a large number of members. The board was elected from the members at-large and made all executive decisions for the non-profit (although all major decisions or changes of course were presented to the membership for review/discussion and sometimes a vote before the board made said decisions). The expectation was that each board member would also serve on one of the major member committees and report back to the board about that committee’s progress but this was not technically a requirement. Except for the board president, this meant a board member was committing to a 2-hour monthly board meeting, a 1-2 hour monthly committee meeting, 2 semi-annual 3-4 hour leadership meetings, and 2 semi-annual 1 hour membership meetings. The board president really did the bulk of the work and was the one working with staff on communications, meetings, etc. and served as the spokesperson for the board. I would say their committment was more along the lines of 5ish hours a week depending on the season. While there was a President and VP on the board, I served as secretary as part of my role on staff and finances were handled by a separate member (though the board had to approve major expenses and the annual budget). My supervisor and I were the only two staff members who were required to attend board meetings.

      I’ve also served on the board of a non-profit that I volunteer with now. The board is supposed to be a mix of alumni of our program, current volunteers, and “outside” people with no affiliation with or knowledge of the program but is generally only the first two categories. There is a President, VP, Secretary, and Treasurer as well as members at-large. We have one paid staff member who attends and gives his report on the program but otherwise does not contribute or vote. While there are technically subcommittees of the board, they rarely meet. Before COVID, it was a requirement that all board members were local and would meet in-person. Since then, they have opened it up to anyone interested in serving and we have 3 or 4 board members in different cities and states who join via Zoom. While it is appreciated if board members show up at program functions, they are only required to show up to the annual meeting. This works out to one 2-hour meeting a month + the 2-hour annual meeting.

  55. Supportive Searching*

    Does anyone have suggestions or advice for finding work in corporate communications, technical writing, or copy writing coming from nonprofit communications? My partner is unemployed (doing some freelance-type work but really looking for full time) and has a great deal of experience in a very niche university-related communications field. They are really trying to get out of this and into a better-paying role with better hours and more growth opportunities. They have degrees in English and Sports Management. Their experience doesn’t really include marketing. How can they make the shift? Other suggestions of what types of roles could be good?

    1. Sparkle Bunny*

      I have two suggestions:

      1. Depending on your location, there may be a local recruitment agency that specializes in creative roles. I’m in a creative role myself and get hit up all the time with “do you need a copywriter,” “here’s a new graphic designer,” etc.


      2. Have they considered (if not already) freelancing via a site like Fiverr? I have a friend in copywriting/SEO and she’s doing about 25-30 hours per week, across a few clients. She has said it could be more hours if she takes on more clients, but she is not looking for FT right now. So the hours could be FT, just not with the same company.

    2. WestsideStory*

      They can hunt around for paying jobs at 1) sports magazines (newsstand and online) 2)online gambling companies or actual teams or leagues. Teamworkonline is a job site dedicated to this kind of thing. Can’t say much about hours or pay, but perhaps some ideas are there.

    3. Eleanor Knope*

      I’ve found internal communications tends to be the easiest starting point in corp comm departments. It’s usually an area where the hiring team is willing to take a risk on someone making a career switch, compared to client communications or public relations. They’re looking for strong writing skills, ability to tailor your message, balancing employee needs with leadership’s needs and project management skills. Usually SharePoint knowledge, too.

      I’ve dabbled in PR, client comms and tech writing in my internal roles too, as team members left or went on leaves, which could’ve let me pivot if I’d wanted to along the way. I’m now in HR in a strategy role, which has been made possible with my internal communications background. I’ve loved it as a career path!

      Good luck to your partner!

  56. Anima*

    Dear commentariat,
    I need your help reframeing two things:
    First: my boss got me a mentor to teach me a new design tool (new to me). I am in now way an expert yet, I only move on from intern to junior in march, but I just can’t stop myself thinking I’m better than needing a mentor. This (second) mentor matches way more with me than my first mentor in this stop, but I still feel miffed that he is even there. I don’t understand. I need a mentor. Boss got him to make me eventually senior (he told me as much). What’s wrong with me?

    Second: it’s full time work itself. Disclaimer: part time is not an option, I need to be full time to survive in this economy. Full time work blocks so much out of my life! 8 hours is 1/3 of my day, even if I sleep only 8 hours (I need 9 to be fully functional), that’s only 8 hours left! I actually have to set aside 8,5-9 h for work because of a mandatory unpaid break (I honestly believe mandatory breaks should be paid, but not even Germany gets their labor laws so far). I am remote, so I get up in the morning and walk up to my desk, that’s it. I can’t even fathom to commute – there would not be any real time left in my day.
    I need sooo much rest to even barely function, so from the 8 h “free” time, I lay around 2 to just recoup my energy. Then making meals and household chores (laundry gets done during work), and whoosh, I have maybe 2 h actual free time left per day. I’m mostly to fried to do any hobbies by then. Why is that?!? Can’t I just only work 7 h and be functional? Why does living in modern times have to be set up like this?

    (Side note: there has been an uptick in admin stuff recently, taxes where due, the census send another letter, stuff like that, maybe that’s why I’m so miffed?)

    1. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

      With the first – is there something else going on with your boss? Do you feel your boss doesn’t trust you or underestimates your ability in some way? Or did something go badly with the first mentor you were assigned? This sounds to me like something else is going on.

      1. Anima*

        Thanks for pointing that out! It sounds to me like this, too. Short of therapy I might not get to the reason of this.

        Boss is really happy with my work, and I am happy with work, boss, pay and colleagues, too. I have no idea what this is.

        1. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

          You mention being exhausted – is the “work” of being mentored somehow draining you? Are the scheduled mentoring/training times taking away from other work you need to do? Is the human interaction draining? (no shame if it is, from one introvert to another!) Is this simply not how you would prefer to learn a new tool?

          1. Random Dice*

            I was wondering if they might want to get checked out medically – this level of exhaustion is not normal, but it’s how I live my life with an autoimmune disorder (well, several). With the diagnosis, one get ADA reasonable accommodations.

    2. ecnaseener*

      On the first question: mentorship doesn’t mean you’re not good enough – it often means someone sees a lot of promise in you and wants to invest in your development! You’re not even a junior yet and your boss is already trying to prep you for the senior level – one part of that is by getting you a mentor. This is GOOD. It’s not remedial tutoring :)

      But yeah, a full-time schedule just kinda sucks. I have no magic words to make that better. I’ve been doing it for 3+ years and I still spend a lot of evenings just lying on the couch, enough that I don’t feel up for regularly scheduled hobbies or anything. (That’s with adhd which makes everything tiring, idk if you have anything medical in play.)

    3. Qwerty*

      Based on your side note, any chance that you are feeling a general disgruntlement? It’s really common at the end of winter for people to be extra cranky and more easily bothered. We’ve been couped up inside for months, it’s always dark, it’s cold, it’s wet. There was too much family/social time over Nov/Dec followed by Jan hangover/ pressure of new year. It’s a lot. I used to bring in a bottle of vitamin D every winter when my teammates and I reached the point of no one getting along to start getting us back to normal.

      Anyway, the reason I bring this up is partly because you ask “what’s wrong with me” followed by a lot of being overwhelmed and it reminded me of the general itchiness people feel.

      Mentoring – I give senior staff mentors whenever they do something new. Said mentor might even be more junior than them – the best pairing I saw was a junior dev who knew the very complicated system but had no experience being assigned to mentor a new hire who was very experienced but had no exposure to the very complicated and hard to learn system. Both people learned!

      Having a mentor is not a judgement on skillset. It’s also to show support – talking it through with somone is often more fun than spending hours searching the internet for info. Was there a break between the first mentor and the second? Perhaps part of your brain feels like you graduated out of mentorship and sees it as a regression? The reality is that hopefully you will have many more mentors in your life! Heck, C-suites get mentorship!

      Full Time – It’s overwhelming at first but you’ll get the hang of it. Try out different methods to find things that recharge you. Like maybe take a walk or read a chapter on your lunch break. I’m not saying I randomly take 5min breaks in the afternoon to belt out Disney tunes and dance along the hallway but it certainly is refreshing…

      Personally I find remote work to be more exhausting, which sounds counter-intuitive and I still don’t understand. Having a <30min commute that's mostly autopilot gives time to separate work from home, listen to music or an audio book, daydream, whereas at home there isn't a good transition action and it would be weird to just stare at the wall for a while. Plus it's easy to run errands on the way home from work vs having to get up and make a special trip, so my weekend days had less life admin stuff. Being around coworkers I like allowed me to get my socializing in a lowkey way rather than having to plan a specific outing which takes up brain energy. So, commiseration on this part. I look at it as half my life funds the other half, which is pretty good if you evaluate waking hours. Older times meant much longer days than that and less comfortable homes.

    4. Former Retail Manager*

      To respond to #1….what is wrong with you….

      Well, I foresee 3 options mostly. (1) Mentoring is a formality at your workplace and something that happens to everyone in your position and you’re concerned about nothing, (2) Your boss thinks you’re doing great and giving you a mentor will help you advance even faster because, rather than learning via a bunch of trial and error on your own, you’ll have the advantage of a mentor teaching you one-on-one to minimize some of that so you learn and advance more quickly, OR (3) you’re not as good as you think you are and need to get over yourself a bit.

      As for your complaints about work, this is the reality for most full-time, US based employees. If you want more control of your time or a shorter workday, your options are really to locate to another country with different work norms or become self-employed. I don’t say that judgmentally. I am a full-time employee who experiences the same challenges you do and would love a shorter workday. Also, all this tiredness…..could you have an undiagnosed medical issue that is making you tired all the time? Or is it just mental stress of the job translating into physical stress/exhaustion. I experience the latter and I have no solutions to offer other than trying to turn off your brain at the end of the day and not think about work, which honestly works sometimes but certainly not all the time. Or potentially change fields if it is that mentally draining.

    5. Silence*

      Mentoring is to learn. Maybe read about growth mindset.
      A walk around the block or other ritual to separate work from home may help.
      For tiredness see a doctor if possible, a lot of vitamin and mineral deficiencies create tiredness.
      Also it’s part of late system capitalism. A lot of the ability to have a comfortable life while working 40 hr weeks depends on having a house spouse to do a lot of the cleaning, cooking etc.

  57. Audiophile*

    I’m curious if anyone else has encountered this recently.

    About a month ago, I applied for a role with a large global company and got an immediate request to complete a self-paced interview within 72 hours. In the middle of interviewing on the platform, and well before it was due for submission, I received a rejection from the company via their ATS. I thought about completing and submitting it anyway, but it felt like too much effort when I’d already been rejected.

    Then a few weeks ago, I had a phone interview and was asked to submit writing samples within 72 hours. After I submitted them to the recruiter, I found a rejection email from the ATS sent hours before my email to the recruiter.

    In both instances, it felt like I’d been asked to complete “this next step” and it turned out to be pointless. I know ATS platforms aren’t perfect, but these two situations were quite odd in their similarities.

    1. RagingADHD*

      If you were requested by a human to move forward, I would assume the auto rejection by the cats was an error. You should always follow up with the person who sent you the request.

      1. RagingADHD*

        *by the ATS.

        Cats might reject you, but it wouldn’t be an error. They would mean it personally.

        1. Just a different redhead*

          Rofl! I was picturing cats rejected them by walking on the keyboard of the person who was looking at the ATS somehow XD

          But yeah, if cats rejected you on purpose, you’d know.

          Either way agree, respond to the human response chain, ignore the autoreply in a case like that.

    2. linger*

      If you’ve had contact from a human and you have a means of returning their message, you should actually ask about the automated rejection, and confirm whether you should be proceeding regardless — because it’s possible they aren’t aware their system is doing this!

  58. Professional Button Pusher*

    Low stakes question: I have an Eastern European last name that many people find difficult to spell/pronounce. In my role, others often end up introducing me, either in writing or verbally (ex, when I’m speaking in a webinar). This has not been a problem in the past – people copy my name from my email address/signature, and they ask me how to pronounce it before a speaking engagement. I even include a (very short) pronunciation guide in my email signature, because so many people ask me about it. A couple of months ago, however, a new co-worker joined my small team of 4 people, and that person consistently misspells/mispronounces my name in public-facing communications (in different ways on different occasions!). I’m not sure if I should address it with them. On one had, it doesn’t matter that much; on the other hand, it’s annoying and they’re the only person I’ve worked with in at least the last decade who does this. Additionally, I work in a very small, niche field am well known in that community (including my tricky last name!). This co-worker is new to the field, so it’s just awkward when the introduce me to people I already know, but by the wrong last name.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      Just be matter of fact about it & correct them. I think it would be fair to coach them on the pronunciation, too.

      My surname isn’t Eastern European, but those of half my relatives are. People’s attitudes about them being too “hard” to pronounce or spell drive me up the wall.