open thread – February 24-25, 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.

{ 999 comments… read them below }

  1. EngGirl*

    The only thing left is a background check and drug screen. I can’t imagine anything that would come up as I don’t do any drugs and I’m one of the most rule following people you’ve ever met. Seriously I won’t even jaywalk.

    I really really want to put in my two weeks, and get the hell out of my toxic workplace, but should I wait for the all clear from those items? I have no idea how long they’ll take as I’ve never been asked to take a drug test or been subject to a background check before.

      1. Nesprin*

        Seconded. Wait.
        There’s a nonzero chance that there’s another person with your name who has a more interesting history, or that there’ll be some sort of only manager X can push the background check acceptance button, but manager X is on training in eastern timbuktu for 3 weeks.

        1. CatMintCat*

          Seconded. My husband has a relatively common name (he was Prime Minister of the UK for a while there) and there is another person in Australia with the name and criminal record. It held up his background check for his current job for a few weeks.

    1. Anonymous Koala*

      I personally would definitely wait until the screens are done, just in case new employer has questions or something goes wrong. On the other hand, if you can afford it and your workplace is really getting you down, you could put in your two weeks and take a bit of a vacation.

    2. ThatGirl*

      Drug screen results should be pretty quick. Background checks can take longer for weird or dumb reasons, but it depends on the company doing it. That said, I would wait for them to clear, just because I’m not superstitious, but I’m a little stitious.

    3. Sunflower*

      Drug tests are usually pretty quick. Background tests can get held up for a number of reasons- once OldJob HR gave my employer the wrong employment dates because I changed positions in the company and that held things up for ~2 weeks while it was sorted.

      1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        My background check last year got held up because they couldn’t verify an OldJob that I had left 7 years prior. I had worked at that job 8 years but apparently HR had no record of me. So a week and a half later the background check company asked if I had a W2 or anything, and thankfully I did.

        I don’t know if my new employer cared much about verifying that old job, but the background check company couldn’t close it out until they had something.

        1. Annony*

          Mine got held up because they could not verify my degree that I had specifically told them was not yet conferred. They needed me to get extra letters saying that I had met all requirements and would receive the degree in a month.

          1. Cedrus Libani*

            My last job got held up because the background checkers couldn’t verify my degree. They called the school’s employment verification line, not the registrar’s office – I was never an employee there, so there was no record of me. I even figured out what happened, gave the background checkers the correct number, and what did they do? Called the wrong number AGAIN. Fortunately, the hiring manager had gone the same school, and we’d talked about it in the interview. He got HR to override the no-hire recommendation, and it only knocked my start date back one week.

            TLDR: even clean living and an unusual last name won’t completely protect you from the paperwork gremlins. Wait if you can.

    4. Mandie*

      I’d say it depends on your tentative start date for your new job. I used to wait, too, even though I’m clean as a whistle, because I was terrified of the worst happening – some crazy fluke or mix-up. But I just changed jobs, and this time, I put in my notice as soon as I had a written offer and start date. Good thing I did, because this company is really diligent about background checking, and they still hadn’t gotten everything back by the time I started! So if I had waited, I would have pushed back my start date. But they had enough to bring me on anyway, so there was no harm done.

    5. Melissa*

      You don’t do drugs but what if you eat too many poppyseed bagels and get a false positive for heroin… or what if you take prescribed Adderall but they’ve lost the paperwork on that so you get flagged as a meth user…. Or your background check incorrectly lists an armed robbery that was done by someone with the same name as you…

      I know you want to walk out! But it’ll feel just as good in a week or two when everything is truly set in stone.

    6. SJ (they/them)*

      Definitely wait for a written offer, I know it’s hard but it’s for the best! I’m in the same boat right now and it’s so tough. Hang in there, change is coming!

    7. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Give it a little time if you can. I am also a drug-free rule follower and I still ran into a couple of complications because one of the companies I used to work for was defunct. It wasn’t a huge deal but it required a little more time for the background check. (This is a good reminder to ALWAYS save work-related emails, because I was able to show my offer letter from that company along with my W2 and it all got cleared up. Without those docs… I don’t even know.)

    8. Admin of Sys*

      Wait. The drug test is usually a one or two day delay at most once its scheduled, but background checks can be weirdly slow sometimes.
      note: drug tests can show positive for opium based drugs if you eat a lot of poppyseeds. Something like a bagel would likely be fine, but since I just ordered myself a Makowiec roll, and those definitely have enough to skew a lab test, I figured I’d mention. :)

      1. Jessica Ganschen*

        The last time I had a drug screen for a new job was right around Purim, and one of our traditional foods for that is hamantaschen, triangular cookies with a variety of fillings, including poppyseed. I let my roommates have all of those and just took the apricot and raspberry ones instead!

        1. Admin of Sys*

          ooh, thank you for the reminder, i need to get some poppyseed filling, i was going to try to make hamantaschen for a friend this year!

      2. All Het Up About It*

        Agree with all to say wait. Although I know that’s not what you want to hear. Sorry! :(

        As a person who has worked for places that sometimes provide information to background information to screening companies, sometimes that weird wait is because there is multiple layers involved. So your protentional employer is waiting on the screening company who is waiting on things from numerous sources, who might be waiting on someone else even. So the potential for delays is actually exponential.

    9. Sparkle llama*

      My last background check (not a particularly sensitive position) took two months. I think they had now found a way to make it take less long, but I think our most recent hire was still several weeks.

      1. Rex Libris*

        I think it depends on the company, and the level of detail requested. I think ours are very basic for new hires (have you ever been convicted of a felony, that kind of thing) and we usually have them back in 3 or 4 days.

    10. Alex*

      Always wait for a written offer. I know it’s hard! But it won’t be long. You’ll be out of there soon.

    11. CSRoadWarrior*

      I would wait until everything clears, you sign the offer letter, and negotiate a start date just to be safe. After all that, put in your two weeks’ notice immediately.

      I know you are desperate to leave, because I have been there. Hang in there, you will be out before you know it. And on to greener pastures.

    12. Also Mimi*

      My advice is to wait. My spouse recently did this and his background took 7 weeks to complete. He had given notice before the background cleared and was off of work for over a month waiting. Background came back completely clear, it was just held up because the courts were backlogged.

    13. JMR*

      Wait! I know it’s painful, but on rare occasions, background checks are wrong. Sometimes mistakes are made and info gets entered wrong. I had a friend whose background check turned up an outstanding warrant for her arrest because of an unpaid parking ticket that she has no recollection of ever receiving, and the info on the ticket didn’t match a car she’d ever owned. That kind of thing is super rare but it happens, and I feel like putting in two weeks’ notice before the background check comes back might be tempting fate.

      1. Another freelancer*

        Yep! It’s Too much to risk by quitting before the all clear. OP if it helps just know there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

    14. KatEnigma*

      Wait. Even if you’re sure you’ll pass, you don’t have a start date yet. Or they may get an unexpected hiring freeze. Or any number of scenarios. Never give notice until you have the formal written (electronic) offer in your hand.

    15. Jazz and Manhattans*

      Concur with all the comments to wait. Never give your notice until your offer letter is in hand (even if it’s a conditional offer waiting on the background checks).

    16. jasmine tea*

      Agreed, wait. You never know what paper-pushing hellscape your background check could fall into. My husband lost a job because his college went out of business (destroyed in a hurricane and never rebuilt) and being unable to verify the degree with school officials was considered a fail.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        The company that my last BG check was outsourced to, sounded like they simply didn’t care. They initially sent me a release form to allow them to contact my school, in a language that I don’t know and don’t understand (my guess is they picked the wrong option out of a dropdown). and when I called them to ask for the correct form, they were “no no, use this one, we’ll tell you what line to sign on!” No thanks, I’m not signing anything I cannot read.

    17. Elevator Elevator*

      If the background check involves anything at the county or local level (and it presumably will), then there’s no telling how long it’ll take because it’s so dependent on that specific place. I used to run background checks for work and it seemed like some counties had everything fully digitized and could get results back in a couple of days, and then some I assumed were taking so long because they had to wait for Harold The County Clerk to manually sift through an entire building’s worth of filing cabinets.

      You also have no idea what could come back if there’s a credit component – presumably nothing disqualifying, but I saw a lot of people with otherwise immaculate credit reports have a tiny collections item they had no idea about. It doesn’t have to be disqualifying to cause a holdup – even when we ultimately didn’t care about something, we did often have to go through the process of having the candidate research and resolve it before we could sign off.

    18. Buttons*

      In my experience, background checks take 1-3 weeks to clear- typically 2 weeks. Could be 4-8 weeks if you have an international degree or a record (employment or school) they need to check from a very rural location. If you have the funds to live for 6 weeks without a paycheck – put in your notice now and use the extra time to shake off toxicity! Otherwise, wait.

    19. Paris Geller*

      Depending on the background check and what the job is, if you’ve moved a lot, background checks can take awhile. I work in local government (city-owned libraries) and my background checks have always taken at least a week and a half because I have a lot of previous addresses since I moved a lot when I was in undergrad/grad school (though it’s finally starting to look more normal since I’ve been stable for awhile and background checks usually ask for the last ten years!). I understand the desire to get out of a bad workplace, but you just never know what might come up and take awhile to sort out.

    20. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Wait. My last BG check got stalled because they couldn’t get hold of my school, and I certainly know I went to that school (met the father of my kids there, so I have proof haha). In my case, the HR director told me to come into work anyway, but she was the best and one can never know how others would react. BG check also got stuck on the divorce court piece for some reason – took several days to verify (what?)

      1. Hi, I'm Troy McClure*

        I’m now picturing HR asking for proof, and you whistling for your kids to march in, Von Trapp-style.

    21. The teapots are on fire*

      Just wait and sing a happy little “FU” song silently behind your eyes while you wait. Life is better sometimes with a soundtrack

    22. Jake*

      Wait.

      My buddy got bounced from a job on a background check because they couldn’t access his complete file from when he was in the marines. They couldn’t “complete” the background check because they couldn’t find anything on one of his assignments, so they terminated the offer.

      You just never know.

    23. Sarahh*

      Wait. My husband was offered a job pending backfield check and psych screening in late Feb 2020. Thought it was a done deal then everything closed and it fell through. So glad he hadn’t put in notice.

    24. RagingADHD*

      Wait. Not because something might come back bad on the screens, but because the offer isn’t final until it’s final. You never know. They could just up and change their minds, eliminate the position, decide to do an internal promotion after all, something. Wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened.

    25. ArtK*

      Background check hiccup: The last time someone did a check on me, they couldn’t verify my address. The address of the home I’ve owned and lived in for 15 years, so I had to come up with more documentation. I suppose that they couldn’t determine if I owned the place, but lived somewhere else, but another home or renting would have shown up on my credit report.

      1. DannyG*

        E-911 changed my street address. Been in same location 33 years but was asked to explain the difference in street numbers.

    26. An Australian in London*

      I had a background screen for a 6 month contract at a bank take 5 weeks to complete. They wanted to go back 20 years of employment and 20 years of residential addresses. I was in a different country for 17 of those 20 years.

      I wasn’t even in a regulated/licensed role, let alone anywhere sensitive like health or defence. Security clearance checks can take 6+ months and that’s for people who never leave their country. For anyone who travels it can take a year or more.

      So yeah, definitely wait. :)

    27. Alan*

      Wait. Although you are confident nothing will come of those two verifications, something internally that could cause the company to delay or cancel filling the position.

    28. Adrian*

      Wait. A friend had a government contractor job withdrawn because of an old traffic violation they didn’t even remember.

      They passed the contractor’s background check, but not the more in-depth one by the government agency. The contractor shouldn’t have said it’s a go, until the agency finished its check.

      It turned out to be a blessing in disguise. A few years later, the agency eliminated the job.

    29. Hi, I'm Troy McClure*

      Personally, I don’t resign until everything’s been signed and approved, including checks. Been burned a few too many times.

    30. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      Probably best to hang for a bit longer and, you know, do the bare minimum, take some PTO, etc.
      Unless you have a good savings where you can quit and not be hurt financially.

    31. Just Another Cog*

      Came here to say my background check took about three months to complete because one of the states I had worked in more than two decades ago required over the top protection of personal information. It was excruciating to wait to give notice as I was so ready to be done at my old dysfunctional employer. I used the time I was waiting to quietly take all my personal stuff home, a little at a time. That way, when I FINALLY got a written offer after the background check was done, I could give notice and basically grab my purse when they told me I wouldn’t be serving out my two weeks. I knew they’d not want me around since I was leaving for the competitor and I definitely could not afford to be without income for that long. Hang in there. It’ll soon be over and you can be done with that horrid place. Thinking good thoughts it goes fast!

  2. Newbie Consultant*

    Consulting question. I’m very new to consulting, just dipping my toe in and I’ve had two incidents happen, one recently and one from years ago and I want to know if it’s normal. I pitched a project to a client I had already been working for but towards the end of my contract. They turned me down and then I saw afterwards that they went with my idea but had someone else do it. In both cases it was to write a topic relevant newsletter for the client, and in both cases the client had not previously done a newsletter. They used the newsletter idea and the literal topics and format that I pitched. And in both cases they hired someone out of house to do it.

    I don’t really know how I can prevent this, but it stung both times. Is this pretty common? Any consultants have advice around this?

    1. E*

      It’s very common to go with a different consultant, but it sounds not right that they’re using your ideas/ intellectual property when they do so. Can you put some notice on your pitches that the ideas are your IP and not to be used if they don’t go with you?

      Two is not really enough to see a pattern, and this might just be bad luck, but since they both liked your idea but went with someone else, it might be worth spending some time to reflect on why. Is something off with your proposal style or rate structure? Did they want someone more experienced, that they’ve worked with before, that had lower rates, that they could combine with other projects and just have a single contract? If you feel comfortable asking for feedback, you might gain some insight, though they may be too diplomatic to tell you the truth — if you have any good inside contacts, that might help. Or if you can ask someone neutral in the space to review your pitch materials/process and give constructive criticism, that could work too.

    2. Rosemary*

      I don’t have any real advice, except to say that I work for a small market research company. We often submit proposals for projects we end up not getting, and there really isn’t anything stopping them from taking our ideas for a research approach to someone else (who may be willing to do the work for a lot less than we are). I think if you are submitting an idea like a newsletter…it is similar; you don’t “own” newsletters – so there isn’t anything stopping them from having someone else execute. It definitely sucks for sure. We DID stop getting super detailed about our ideas for different projective exercises or whatnot; instead we gave them enough information to see our thinking/skills/what we could offer – but not enough for them to take it to someone else. So for the newsletter – you could suggest a newsletter, maybe some ideas for topics – but not so detailed that you are doing the work for them (essentially for free)

    3. Carpe Manana*

      I’ve never been the pitcher, but I have been the pitchee plenty of times. I’m sure that makes me an expert! What I’ve found most effective as those who are ultimately selling themselves more so than a product. It’s not like a mini Ted Talk (or hmm, maybe it is), but they help us understand the connective tissue between the problem we’re trying to address and the solution that they’re offering. It’s not only about having great ideas, but being the right one to execute them. Maybe they use a case study but they generally don’t pitch ideas directly relevant to us.

      As a rule of thumb, I’d think that you don’t want to share your IP until an Engagement Letter is signed. Otherwise, you’re communicating that your ideas are free for the taking.

      Love to hear what the real experts have to say!

      1. Sam Obisanya*

        This is great advice and this is how we approach it. We use generalities so they know we know what we’re doing but we don’t map solutions until $ is spent. We’ll say: “Here’s a menu of approaches we might use, and how we’ve used them successfully in the past. In your case, due to XYZ, we’re going to recommend approaches A and G. Here’s why we’re the right people to do it for you…”

        If prospects demand more detail, we’ll mock something up with flaws and dummy language built in and they never get to receive the IP, we don’t send them the visuals to take a closer look.

        You have to maintain total control of your IP in an intelligence-based job, until/unless somebody has paid you to take ownership away.

        1. Tio*

          Yeah, I wouldn’t send a document to them until there’s a contract, and if you ever do send them anything as an example, make sure to watermark it.

  3. Lucy in the sky*

    A year ago, the majority of my company either quit or were laid off after we were acquired. My new boss, Hank, started 9 months ago, and his boss Rita, started 3 months ago. Working with Hank has been horrible; he’s pretty much a gatekeeper with me and my teammates, and is extremely controlling with everything. However, I’m starting to see Rita isn’t competent either.

    I’ve been job searching for 6 months but since I haven’t had much luck, I’m trying to make the best of it. I think I might put some time on Rita’s calendar (She hasn’t tried to meet with me yet) for a 1x/quarter 1:1. But, what would I even talk with her about for an agenda? I could go over accomplishments, but all of them would be from 3 years to 1 year ago. I haven’t had the opportunity to do anything because Hank has taken away all my ownership and gets angry when I bring up new ideas. I’d like to think she might see this and wonder why all my accomplishments were before Hank…but I actually don’t think she’ll be able to draw that conclusion. I’d also want to ask her where she sees my position going and where there are opportunities, but again, I’m not confident she’ll be able to answer.

    Would it be worth it to meet with her?

    1. Honor Harrington*

      It might, but I’d switch your approach. In my experience, bad managers don’t care about you and what you’ve done. They care about how you can help them and make them look better. Questions like “what are your most important goals and how can i contribute to them better” are good, and then you can talk about what you’ve already done that contributes to them.

      Sadly, discussions with sane competent managers is different than with the bad ones.

    2. Another freelancer*

      No. Spend more of your time job searching and or upskilling. This sounds like a bad fit right now so in your shoes I would double down on moving on.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        I agree with the no vote. You know Hank sucks and will most likely be totally pissed off that you went over his head. Trust your gut on Rita. There’s no talking your way out of bad management. You just need to leave.

    3. JustMyImagination*

      It could be worth it. But I’d focus on your second line of questioning and ask about her vision for the department, how does she see your role developing, etc. If she has ideas and you’re interested, it would be a time to express interest and possibly work in “Oh, I worked on a similar project before the acquisition and it was successful. It would be great to see it evolve into thing you just said”

    4. OrdinaryJoe*

      You seem like you already have your foot out the door … she’s not interested, you’re unhappy, Hank seems horrible. What would you want to accomplish and what’s the goal? It kind of sounds like you want personal validation that Hank is the issue and not you (which is very normal!).

      You said, “I’d like to think she might see this and wonder why all my accomplishments were before Hank”, which is 1000% valid! But, like you also said, seems unlikely.

      You’re in a hard place, you didn’t do anything to get into that place, and I get wanting to try to solve it but you can’t …

    5. Prospect Gone Bad*

      I love the question because I just had this conversation with someone. They were saying “it sucks either way” basically. So then meet the persona and hash the issues out. If the pain of being quiet and dealing with it is > the temporary discomfort of arguing it out, then have the meeting

    6. TheMonkey*

      Part of this depends on your company culture, as well. In some places, a skip-level meeting is no big deal. In others, it is Not Done. Since you’re essentially going around Hank, be prepared for some weirdness around that if your culture is of the second type.

      I’ve had employees of my employees come to me in the past and my first question is almost always ‘does your boss know you’re interested in X or have you talked with them about Y.’ If you’ve had no conversations with Hank about projects to work on or (diplomatically) noting that there is stuff you used to handle no problem so you could take that back off his plate, that may be the first thing Rita suggests to you. (I get that you say he’s horrible, but she may not see that, so may encourage it as a first step)

      But, ultimately, it sounds like you’re mostly out the door anyway, so stepping up the job hunt might be a better use of your time.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        I have never had a 1:1 meeting with my skip-level manager at any of my jobs.

        I’m not clear on what it would accomplish, either; are you hoping Rita will decide to fire Hank or move you to a different manager? Otherwise, even if Rita has your back, you’ll still be working under Hank.

    7. Alan*

      When my assistant once asked me for a one-sentence summary of his job, I said, “Your primary job call comes down to making me look good to my bosses.” Rather than making this meeting about you, make it about your grandboss. Ask what can you do to help her?

  4. Dovasary Balitang*

    Can anyone in an HR or health benefits-related role shed light on something for me? Why do workplace dental plans routinely refuse to cover orthodontic work for a policy holder? For example, if my (non-existent) ten year-old dependent required braces, some coverage would be available; but if I – the employee(!) – required braces, our health benefits is essentially telling me to eff off. I keep having to push back much needed ortho work for this reason and it’s a bit infuriating – especially as I don’t make enough to afford it without assistance.

    1. E*

      In my experience, dental plans generally just don’t tend to cover cosmetic work, which is mostly what orthodontic work is (or is perceived to be). I don’t know that that’s specific to workplace plans but it is frustrating! My partner who grew up in Germany got his braces for free… F the US healthcare/dental care system

      1. Melissa*

        I am surprised and impressed that Germany covers braces! In my experience most healthcare systems do not.

        1. londonedit*

          The NHS in England covers orthodontic work for children where it’s deemed necessary – i.e. it’s something that’ll cause problems with the teeth/jaw etc later down the line, or whatever – but not if it’s deemed cosmetic. I just had a gap between my front teeth and the NHS wouldn’t cover that so my parents paid for it, but other friends of mine with more complex issues had their orthodontic work fully covered when we were teenagers. (This is probably why Americans think we all have ‘bad teeth’, because we don’t all automatically have orthodontic work done).

          1. Magenta*

            I had crazy crooked teeth and an overcrowded mouth as a child so had all my orthodontic treatment on the NHS about 25 years ago.
            Generally speaking they are quite generous about what counts as necessary, I can see why you would need to go private for a gap, but most things are covered.
            It also depends on age, so if you get it done as a child they are more forgiving about the cosmetic vs necessary. I know a teenager with braces on the NHS that are purely to correct one crooked lateral incisor. It is highly unlikely an adult would get that on the NHS.

          2. Ellis Bell*

            I got my teenage braces free on the NHS. However when I grew in my wisdom teeth, it threw my alignment out and undid the earlier work, but at that point I was legally an adult and had to cough up for another course of treatment myself.

          3. NotRealAnonforThis*

            Your parenthetic statement at the end is my suspicion as to why its no longer covered well in the US, londonedit. I really think that’s the reason.

      2. ThatGirl*

        What I’ve seen sometimes is two different plans, where on the cheaper one, either no orthodontia is covered or only childrens’ is, and the somewhat more expensive one covers some for adults. Currently ours covers 50% for adults up to a certain amount.

    2. NotRealAnonforThis*

      I’m curious as well, except in my case, I’ve never even had access to coverage for my actual existing dependents either! 25 years ago, I had what was probably a reasonable stipend for my at that point non-existent dependents, but that was also at a university position where the level of benefits was “ridiculous” to compensate for utter lack of pay.

      And this is on a “Cadillac Level” plan in every other aspect. Yet, the actual orthodontia is excluded by both dental and medical, and we’re attempting to figure out if the likely needed jaw surgery is going to be covered by medical (much better for us as deductible applies and is reasonable) or only by dental (so it’ll run 50% out of pocket with no cap….).

      1. Parenthesis Guy*

        Medical has a maximum out of pocket, so once you pay x amount, you don’t pay any more for the year.

        Dental has an annual maximum covered, so once they pay x amount (maybe $1500), they no longer pay anything more and potentially you no longer have coverage. So, if you went for orthodontia and then needed a crown, you’ll probably have to pay the entire amount.

        Just something to keep in mind.

        1. NotRealAnonforThis*

          Absolutely grasp and its why I’m hoping medical will cover it.

          Orthodontia in any way shape or form is excluded from both my medical and my dental insurance. Literally listed as “Excluded” in my coverage papers and associated riders. There is no reason “good enough” for it to be covered. And its also the reason why we’re trying to figure out if our medical insurance will actually cover the oral surgery that will be medically necessary, orthodontia or not.

          If we’re stuck with oral surgery being covered by dental, our dental insurance covers 50% of costs up to a certain amount of maximum payout on their part, but I don’t believe it applies any caps to OUR costs. I would really, really, REALLY prefer that it be covered by medical.

    3. rayray*

      I’ve wondered this too. Not everyone grew up in families that could afford braces for them as kids. My teeth aren’t horrible, but I would like to fix them up. I just wish my insurance would help me as they do for kids.

      1. Overeducated*

        I was in the same position. Last year I was finally in a financial position to buy supplemental dental insurance that covers 50% (the max any of the possible plans would cover) and got braces. Honestly, given that the braces are going to stretch over 3 plan years I’m not 100% sure that I’m saving money vs just paying out of pocket, but just know that I hear you!

    4. Jazz and Manhattans*

      My understanding is that this is actuaries at work. Insurance in the US is not altruistic, these are for-profit companies and they want to make as much money as possible. I also was wondering if I was going to need orthodontia and was told my insurance did not cover it for adults. Why? Because so many adults need it as we age (apparently our teeth keep moving as we age). Same reason as they keep moving things like the age to get social security. When SS was first started the age for it was lower but as people started living longer more people were partaking so they started moving the age up.

      1. Sharon*

        Also they may not be allowed to exclude pre-existing conditions, so they simply don’t cover it at all. As an adult, you pretty much know when you buy the coverage whether you need braces or not – it’s a foreseeable cost, not something you insure against “just in case.”

    5. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Teeth are considered optional in the US. Which is BS, but that’s why the insurance is so terrible.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        I agree, but I also think health insurance in the US is an odd duck. With most other types of insurance, the policy holder expects to spend more money than they get in benefits in exchange for lower risk.

        Thanks to employer-provided insurance, that isn’t always the case with health insurance. It seems that there’s a higher expectation that we should get benefits commensurate with what we pay into health insurance, and also catastrophic coverage. Of course, it’s almost impossible to figure out what the benefits really are because all the bills use BS numbers.

      2. CatMintCat*

        Teeth are also optional in Australia. Medicare completely denies their existence, and private dental insurance is very pricey and covers very little.

      3. Giant Kitty*

        My roommate recently got a bunch of dental work done on Medi-Cal, including things I did not think would get done because most dental plans would consider them “cosmetic”.

        They are now covered by Medi-Cal because they understand that visibly damaged or missing teeth can be a hindrance to getting gainful employment. They now cover whatever is necessary to give you a job-getting smile.

    6. Dovasary Balitang*

      Just to note since it seems to have come up a few times: I’m not American nor am I based there, so answers defaulting to “that’s how it is in the US” aren’t especially helpful. Thank you!

      1. ThatGirl*

        Which is fair! But people tend to default assume others are in the US unless you specify otherwise – and I think that matters for your answer, too, since insurance practices vary wildly by country.

      2. Massive Dynamic*

        What country are you in? Most of the readers are US-based and any “why does health insurance suck” questions tend to default to US answers since we all know that the US employer-based health insurance system is astoundingly inferior to so many other countries.

        Signed, someone in the US with an actual 10 year old needing braces, with the first ortho consult booked for next month. Thoughts and prayers accepted. :(

        1. NotRealAnonforThis*

          Do take a look at offered payment plans. Ours offers very reasonable plans that do not charge additional costs. (There is about a 1% discount if you pay it all up front, in cash-check-money order, not CC. We did not find it worth it. I mean, its a grand total of $25 for one kid, $33 for the other.)

          What I am able to do is use HSA (not FSA) money to cover the payments, too.

          Get a water pick, stock up on wax and those funky floss picky things, and remember that spaghetti is good the day after appointments because its soft :)

      3. Jazz and Manhattans*

        Sorry! That was not stated in the original post so we can only respond with our own blinders on!

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Dental insurance is a total racket. I have a $18,000 mouth (after a physical assault with damage) that dental insurance covered about $1200 of.

    8. Joyce to the World*

      If you can get your hands on your plan documents, that might shed some light. Some of this is because of what your employer group has selected for your group dental coverage.

    9. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      I’ve had success with getting them to agree ortho work was treating another condition (migraine? Teeth grinding?). Can you try that route?

    10. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Dental (non) coverage is so weird. I recently had to have a molar extracted (failed root canal from several years ago) and while the extraction was covered, the bone graft required to eventually fit me for an implant (also covered) was not.

    11. Xyz*

      A lot of dental policy’s only cover orthodontic work for under 18 dependents, not for adults because it’s considered “cosmetic” if you are an adult. The bullshit idea seems to be that if it was necessary you would have gotten it done as a kid and if you are doing it as an adult it isn’t medically necessary.

    12. Warrior Princess Xena*

      As many other folks have said – because it’s often perceived as cosmetic, especially for adults. You might have more success if you can pair your request with a recommendation from your dentist citing a medical reason – ie, profound overbite leading to future complications from ingrown teeth (can you tell I’m not a dentist?).

    13. handsome coconut*

      I am currently getting Invisalign and my plan covers it. Dental insurance is a racket and it only covers $1500 as a lifetime max for ortho. We changed plans midway through my treatment and both covered it. I think the plans make it available, but the employers don’t often choose to add it because it costs them more money.

    14. Rara Avis*

      We have the option of two dental plans. One covers orthodontics (and is more expensive) and one doesn’t.

    15. Alan*

      The way it was explained to me is that many kinds of orthodontic work, such as braces, are the equivalent of many kinds of plastic surgery. Wanted, but not needed. (Of course there are exceptions.) My two upper center teeth are crooked. I would have loved to have had them repaired, but it wasn’t a medical necessity.

      If all dental policies started covering all orthodontia work, premiums would jump high enough that many companies (and individuals) would drop the coverage.

    16. fhqwhgads*

      It’s very common for dental plans to include orthodontic coverage only for those under 18. Can you check the benefits info you got and see if it says anything to that effect? My current job does cover even for adults, but the limit is higher for kids.

    17. Rosyglasses*

      Dental plans probably could, but it would generally raise the premiums in such a way that most do not. The reason why sometimes your child will be able to get some coverage can be due to two things: (1) due to Obamacare and the fact that more medical plans are rolling in pediatric dental coverage to help assist. They don’t usually have ortho included, but more would. (2) Most standard dental plans cover orthodontics up to age 18, and that is a provision or exclusion of the dental plan itself.

      Not much in dental “insurance” makes sense (which is why I call it a dental benefit plan, and not insurance), as apparently teeth aren’t considered part of the body (medical insurance). It’s infuriating to work in the dental industry, as I used to manage a pediatric dental practice – and infuriating to be a patient in the dental industry.

  5. a long long time ago…*

    A question from ancient history I’ve always wondered if I handled correctly:

    Many moons ago I worked for a nonprofit dedicated to llama manicures. It was part of a broader network of ungulate grooming nonprofits which were mostly funded by the same donors, and at some point they noticed that the vendors for grooming equipment were lousy and corrupt and decided to spin up their own equipment company to serve the whole complex. I had a close friend who worked for this equipment setup. At a certain point, I discovered that my boss and some of my coworkers were arranging meetings with a particular group of Slimy Corrupt Grooming Equipment Vendors rather than going through the people they were supposed to. They knew I had a friend at our equipment folks and specifically hid it from me. What should I have done?

    What I actually did was tell my friend, who told their boss “hey did you know the llama manicure people are getting ready to buy stuff from Slimy Guys R Us?” It got run up the food chain, I assume quite high, because my boss suddenly needed to get approval for any expenditures and eventually got fired. I’ve always wondered how I should have handled it.

    1. SJ (they/them)*

      The way you handled it sounds perfectly fine to me! I don’t see any issues. I think you did great.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        It sounds like it worked and didn’t do major damage to your reputation or that of your nonprofit, so I’d take the win!

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Two questions:
      1) Was there an actual policy that your employer had implemented, which gave the startup equipment manufacturer right of first refusal or some other preference? Or was this something that the donors had done, but hadn’t really enforced on the ungulate network?
      2) Why is it relevant that you had a friend there? Just because you had an easy path to notify the manufacturer, or something else?

      1. a long long time ago…*

        1. I, as a peon, knew nothing about the equipment policy from my organization; I’d heard from my friend that this was a big general strategic thing. So AFAIK there was nothing signed; I assume there was general direction from the powers that be who funded our llama manicuring that we should buy our nail polish from these people, though.

        2. Just that I had this connection (which my bosses and coworkers knew about).

        1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

          Huh.
          Well in a well-functioning organization, there would have been a clear policy, your boss & coworkers would have followed that policy and not talked to the slimeballs, and you’d either have a formal whistle-blower system or would have no fear of retaliation and could have gone over your boss’ head.

          From how you describe it, though, you had none of those things. So I don’t know if you could have done it better/differently.

    3. Dust Bunny*

      This sounds fine? You could have reported it to the equipment people even if you hadn’t had a friend there but if the fact that s/he was a friend made it easier . . . cool.

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

      That is the right way of handling it, mostly. Instead of alerting your friend at the other business however, you might have run it through your own operations chain. The fired boss was probably doing far more than ordering from one unapproved vendor. Formal policy or not, it sounds like it was known that ordering should go through an approved vendor and they chose not to.

      I’m not sure how high up the food chain your boss was, but it’s pretty normal to need approval from a higher source on some expenditures. I need to write up a whole justification for the vendor I choose and how many bids I got, etc., if I’m spending more than $5,000.

  6. Alexis Carrington Colby*

    When you’re interviewing an individual contributor level role as the employer (so not a director and above), what do you think are the right mix of technical and situational questions?

    I recently went through an interview round with a company where it was literally ALL situational questions, and a panel interview where I was asked questions about the data. The situational questions were around 1 time situations that aren’t everyday. It was exhausting answering all of them, and it felt off. Like I wasn’t asked about my accomplishments or experiences much but it was all about situational issues with coworkers or how I deal with a problem. I was asked these types of questions by 4 separate people. I ended up withdrawing because the interview process was getting to be too long, and then they wanted me to meet another higher-up. But it seemed like only asking those situational questions wasn’t assuring them I would be a good fit.

    Whereas, I had a phone interview yesterday with a hiring manager, and she asked mostly technical questions, but did so in a way that gave her insight into my thought process and problem solving skills, which I liked.

    Kind of thinking out loud here lol.

    1. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      It depends. If I’m hiring for certain technical skills and it is apparent from the resume that you have the skills, I may be more inclined towards situational questions. However, they would almost certainly be relevant – like suppose you have a client that really wants to use X technology, but it really isn’t appropriate to the task. How would you handle that?

      That said, unless it’s a low level job, that level of situational questions would give me serious pause.

      I’d at least ask if their process includes a skill test or something.

    2. JMR*

      You said “data,” which makes me think you are in a technical/scientific field – is there a seminar? In my field (biotech/biopharma), scientists are generally expected to give a seminar, and that is the place they would showcase their experiences and accomplishments. The Q&A at the end of the seminar would give people a chance to ask more technical questions. In the following interviews, some people will use the seminar as a jumping-off point to discuss the candidate’s technical expertise, and some interviewers will assume they’ve learned enough about the individual’s scientific skills through the seminar and focus more on situational questions or questions sort of around personality/cultural fit.

    3. College Career Counselor*

      I suspect the people with all situational questions either really like behavioral interview questions, OR the last person they had in the role had poor judgment for anything other than routine work and they leaned hard into weird one-offs in an over-correction.

    4. JustMyImagination*

      My company almost exclusively asks behavioral questions during the interview. Technical/knowledge questions are part of the screening process by the hiring manager. By the time you’re brought in person (or virtually) for interviews, the hiring manager thinks you can handle the job, it’s all about how you’ll work with others and conduct yourself on the job.

    5. Moomee*

      This sounds to me like they have had some very poor-fit employees in the recent past and were trying to see if you would fall for some of those pitfall scenarios. The longer I stayed at my last employer, the more the questions strayed away from the nuts and bolts of the job and more into “please assure us that you’re not going to repeat the traumatic events of our previous employees.”

    6. Nesprin*

      We usually screen for technical stuff from resume/reputation/publication history, so our interviews are mostly situational/interpersonal.

    7. 14 weeks*

      We usually do about half probing into the CV and technical questions, half behavioral. Maybe even skewed towards the first. CVs can sometimes be misleading (or just straight up exaggerating), so it’s useful to get a feeling what’s really behind it.
      My boss prioritizes intelligence/competence to a high degree, so he also likes to get into the thick of someone’s research to see how good they really are. The behavioral part ends up being mostly just probing for red or yellow flags.

    8. Frankie*

      I don’t focus as much on accomplishments because the candidate has practiced answers to all that and already is framing something in a particular way (and because the resume review and another portion of the interview process confirms for knowledge).

      I really like hearing honest answers more about work style, expectations, “give an example of a time when you did ‘x'” etc. Those are direct questions, though, with maybe one situational depending on the role. A full situational interview as I’m understanding does sound really exhausting, but the intent could be the same.

      But I like questions that will push the applicant beyond anything they may have fully rehearsed.

    9. Kiwi Leslie Knope*

      I’ve hired for roles like this in a similar way to your first example. In our case, we could tell from people’s resumes that they had the technical experience / knowledge and only brought people through to interview who we knew could do the job. The interview for us was about checking that we would want them in the team. More than one candidate didn’t get the job because they didn’t have the soft skills that we needed to see.

      1. tamarack etc.*

        This is only tangential to the OP’s question (to which I don’t have a good answer), but I see several answers mention judging technical skills from the resume. It’s not been my experience that this is possible. There are a lot of people who very capably and eloquently write about technical skills that they then turn out not to have. (So IMHO a part of the interview should be dedicated to probing those. In contexts relevant to the job. And data question are probably technical questions in my book.)

        1. tamarack etc.*

          (I should add that I’d prefer someone whose technical skills fall slightly short over someone who’s lacking the soft skills 10 times out of 10, but I’d need to know that this is the case. Someone who bullshits themselves into an advanced tech role and is lacking the fundamentals is a headache to manage.)

        2. AcademiaNut*

          I was talking to a senior colleague who was lamenting the fact that a significant fraction of the people they called in for interviews (for technical positions) had outright lied about their qualifications. Not just exaggerating, but things like saying they were proficient in Python when they had maybe seen a snake at the zoo once.

  7. Help Me Rhonda*

    How do you have patience at work when things are in turmoil, there are no answers and won’t be for weeks? How do you concentrate esp when your workload is more non urgent than usual?

    Our CEO announced a major new policy with very few details which may result in me needing to leave my job and manager, both of which are the best I’ve ever had and would never dream of leaving if this wasn’t happening, and my very generous salary due to bureaucratic logistics. No higher ups were made aware of this policy change and everyone is scrambling to figure out what it means, how it will be enforced etc. It can be anywhere from ‘doesn’t affect you, BAU’ to ‘completely upends the way you work here’. We don’t expect to know more for at least ~4 weeks.

    I haven’t been able to concentrate at all. There are a lot of people in my company who are in the same spot as me and so far we’ve just been venting since there’s no more we can do but wait it out before making any big decisions. It’s all I can think about- I’m losing sleep over this (incl on weekends) and my productivity has been minimal because I have no urgent projects. I’ve never been in a waiting game situation like this before and I need advice on how to balance this.

    1. E*

      That sounds frustrating! I wonder if it might help to channel your nervous energy into applying for jobs? There’s really not much you can do in terms of the outcome at current job, and for me it sometimes helps to feel like I have control over a situation by being proactive where I can. Maybe it would set you up well in case things shake out at your current role in a way you don’t like, and if things work out well at current job, you ‘ve at least brushed up your resume and maybe interviewing skills.

      I’d kind of try to not worry about being productive at work at this time, but losing sleep sounds hard and like you need more perspective / separation from this problem. Meditation or some other mindfulness practice might help with the anxiety?

      1. Help Me Rhonda*

        Thank you for your kind response. I wanted to avoid applying for new jobs since I really don’t want to leave and I doubt I’ll find anything I’d take but you’re right that at the very least, my resume will be up to date and interview skills brushed up!

        1. Excel-sior*

          The thing to remember (and something i always forgot) is that you can job search and even interview, buy you are under no obligation to take a new job if offered.

    2. Hei Hei, the Chicken from Moana*

      This reminds me, for whatever reason, when we came home b/c of the pandemic. My job is 100% reliant on something happening in person in the fall and we had no idea what was going to happen. For at least two weeks, maybe three, I got very little work done, was very worried, read the news constantly….and it was just okay. I don’t know what else you can do, except perhaps start to job hunt just in case? TL;DR: go easy on yourself here. I hope it resolves quickly and in your favor.

    3. OrdinaryJoe*

      Maybe you can focus your energy by getting prepared to leave?

      Dust off your resume, update LinkedIn, sign up for job listings, start cleaning out your computer and organizing your files, that kind of thing.

      It might make you feel more in control and like you’ve got a plan. And, if nothing comes of the big announcement in a month, at least you have an organized computer and files :-)

    4. I hear you*

      I wouldn’t be surprised if we work at the same company. I’m in the same boat, and it is so distracting and infuriating. The upper levels of management have just completely obliterated trust, seemingly without a second thought. This is all coming after multiple rounds of mass layoffs, as well. I find it so shocking that the CEO doesn’t seem to see just how disruptive these kinds of announcements are for normal people.

      I have no advice, just sympathy/solidarity. Doing my best to focus on the projects I really like working on in the short term, as that work is slightly more motivating during all this upheaval. Also starting to think through contingency plans if it turns out I can’t stay in this job.

      1. Help Me Rhonda*

        Sounds like we do work at the same place and I’m wishing you the best in all this too.

        It’s definitely a huge blow as my manager had already verbally approved some things for me (luckily I haven’t made any moves yet) and now that’s all up in the air. Unlike a lot of other people here, I actually love my boss/WLB and I feel like I hit the jackpot. My tin foil hat thinks this is due to pressure from outside sources so I don’t think it will be reversed and my hope is it just won’t be enforced. Other teams in my org have already tried to enact similar(yet less strict) policies, they haven’t followed and no one has cared (I’m hearing same about other companies). I am really hoping this is the case but I’m just putting major decisions on hold until we know for certain – which is honestly more likely not going to be for another 4-5 months since we’ll need a few months once it’s implemented to see how it shakes out :(

    5. LondonLady*

      I’m sorry you are experiencing this. Uncertainty can be worse than a bad certainty. Managers should share as much information as they can but even when they do it’s an anxious time. Years ago my then employer (a public agency) was considering relocation and they did a ‘relocation newsletter’ with updates on the likely timescales and the kind of places they were considering (not actual placenames) and had questionnaires asking about our likelihood to move with the org. In the end they didn’t relocate for much longer and I’d already left through natural progression but I still appreciate how they tried to keep us onboard.

      In your case, I’d try and regain some control during this uncertain and quiet time by focusing on the activities that will be most useful to you if you have to leave or choose to leave, as well as those that will be most important if you end up staying. That will at least help give you some positive productivity. It sounds as if you are not alone in this, and perhaps having a more organised staff group might help too?

      Also prioritising restoring your basic well-being is important, whether that means taking active breaks, confiding in a trusted friend or using relaxation techniques to help with sleep.
      GOOD LUCK

    6. Qwerty*

      Can you get a break from hearing the venting conversations? There’s a point where it stops being venting and instead results in the group getting fired up.

      Focus on what you *can* do – get your resume in order, figure out your financials, browse job postings to know your options.

      You also need a distraction! Something else to take up your brain space and push this big work thing out. When stuff keeps me up at night, I also find it helpful to listen to a sleep talk down podcast and really make a conscious effort to focus on the narrators voice/words. It helps knock me out of the obsessive loop.

      1. ONFM*

        This is really great advice. I think it’s healthy to allow yourself a few days to vent/outwardly process bad news, but if there is no new information and everyone is just rehashing bad news to do it, that isn’t helpful for anyone. Focus on what you CAN do, try to get out of the office as much as possible, and get that resume refreshed. Good luck!

    7. JelloStapler*

      We’re in a flux right now too and all I do is just try to wait it out and talk to those you trust to get the frustration and fear out.

    8. PassThePeasPlease*

      I echo what others have said about preparing to leave/getting ready to search as a way to channel some of your nerves into productive action. Anything you can do to make that process easier down the line would be a win imo, especially after a management failure of such epic proportions.

      I’m going through a similar situation now with a much smaller team and not having a whole lot of idea what my role is going to be and personally updating my resume and ramping up for a job search has been nerve wracking but also brings me a tiny bit of peace, more than waiting around for the other shoe to drop does at least.

    9. All Het Up About It*

      So sorry you are going through this!

      Similar to what others have said:
      1. Allow yourself to feel grief, frustration, etc. and vent about it, but try not to spiral and build so that it makes you feel worse.
      2. Accept that you are having a slow period in the office. It doesn’t matter why it’s happening just accept that it is, and that’s okay.
      3. Create a list of what you from six months from now will wish you have done if the worst case scenario happens. Reviewed past annual evaluations and updated your resume? Start job hunting and applying for select positions? Finish tasks that you can add to your resume? Gotten a new certificate to make yourself more marketable? Saved money? Taken your vacation days?
      4. Create a list of what you from six months from now will wish you have done if the best case scenario happens. Relaxed and enjoyed the slower work time? Taken advantage of the lull to create or update process documenation and policies? Prepped for a project that will start in the Fall? Taken a new certificate program that will be helpful with a future project? Taken some vacation time to relax before your big Fall projects?
      5. Look at your lists and if there are things on both DO THOSE THINGS! For the things that are on a singular list consider if there’s something that would make your feel better right now and prioritize those items. If most things seem equal in importance swap back and forth between the lists. Either based on your mood or just strategically where you take turns each day/week.
      6. Do whatever you can to get sleep, whether that’s pretending not to care, stopping venting with co-worker, exercising, meditation or yoga, weighted blankets or medical sleep aids.

      Best of Luck and I hope things end up going well for you!

  8. Should I apply needs a new name*

    I am planning on quitting my full time job in 3 months to work for myself. I have enough money saved to support myself while I get my business up an running. Besides saving as much cash as possible, and working on my business, are there anythings you would recommend making sure to do in the next 3 months while I still have an employer?

    1. Dovasary Balitang*

      If you have any health care flex dollars or any outstanding benefits balance, use them. Make an eye appointment even if you may not need it, etc.

    2. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      Use any insurance benefits that might be tied to your employment to get screenings, procedures, etc.

    3. notfunny.*

      I’d get routine check ups/use that employer sponsored health insurance if applicable! Also take advantage of any perks/benefits that may be available – this depends on your organization but if there are any discounts or freebies might as well use those.

    4. E*

      Does your current employer offer discounts on museum passes, etc? Maybe sign up for those if they’re of interest. Check policies around payout of accrued leave and take what you can now if it won’t be paid out now. Plan your end date based on when benefits end (e.g., if you work more than half the month and get insurance as a result, it might be worth setting a quit date on the 16th rather than earlier in the month)

      Not quite your question but I’d look up and triple check now regulations and opportunities for independent businesses. A good friend in NY set up her own consultancy two years ago and is now pregnant; she just found out she missed the window for paying into the state’s Paid Family Leave system and is now screwed. So doing as much due diligence up front about the time-sensitive parts about registering/starting a business will set you up for long-term success.

      Congrats and best of luck!

    5. Smaller Potatoes*

      If your new business is in a similar field to your existing employer schedule a session with an employment lawyer for advice on what you can & cannot do. A couple hours of lawyer fees can bring great peace of mind!

    6. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Can you estimate how much money you’ll realistically be bringing in after you quit, and start making lifestyle adjustments now (if any)? Might be easier while you still have a cushion to discover whether you have unexpected expenses, or not realize that you have less margin than you thought for whatever reason.

      Good luck!! Exciting times.

      1. Scandinavian Vacationer*

        Yes! Contacts, business cards, etc. also think about connecting with contacts on LinkedIn, separating your connection from your current employer.
        AND comb through your work email to re-subscribe to list servs, etc at a new email address. Also re-direct memberships to your new email address. It is astounding how much can be lost from a work/professional email if you’ve had it for more than 5 years.

        1. Scandinavian Vacationer*

          One more thing: work samples. I forgot to get hard copies of electronic written pieces before leaving my long term (10 years) employer. For a short while, I could use the former employer’s blog/website, but then that option closed. Then future clients would ask about samples. So get examples (hard copy if possible) of your work before you leave.

    7. Dancing Otter*

      What (if in US) are your plans for health insurance and retirement savings, when you no longer have access to employer-managed medical and 401K?

      Health: It’s never too early to start looking at ACA options. Or, if you’re planning on using COBRA, can you find out how much it will cost without tipping off your employer that you’re going to leave? You’ll likely have to pick up not just the employer portion of the premiums but also a handling fee. I believe there are some group-like aggregate plans available for small businesses, but I don’t know much about them, other than through some professional organizations.

      Retirement: When I was self-employed (consulting), I used a SEP – the limit for contributions is much higher than for an IRA. I don’t remember the details, but this is something you ought to research in advance.

      Oh, and look into the tax ramifications. You don’t want to get hit with penalties and interest for not making sufficient estimated tax payments (federal and state). Being responsible for both halves of FICA/Medicare adds up fast.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        Almost forgot — set up your bookkeeping beforehand. Reconstructing after the fact can be difficult to impossible. If you are not an accountant yourself, it might be worth talking to one in order to get started right. Or are you planning to use a bookkeeping service? Look into that in advance, not at year-end with a shoebox of receipts.

    8. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Besides the day to day operations of your business, have you gotten your admin ducks in a row?

      * Bank accounts – if you do nothing else, set up a separate account for your business. Make sure all business transactions, without fail, go through that account. Pay yourself salary and/or profit through that account, but do not run your business transactions through your personal account. I cannot stress this hard enough. Getting your personal transactions mixed up with your business ones is by far one of the most common and critical flaws I see businesses do and it will make taxes a living nightmare to do.

      * Bookkeeping – do you have a system you are comfortable using? Are you familiar with what local laws and/or tax authorities will need to see from your books? How are you planning on keeping paper trails of transactions made/accounting entries?

      * Taxes – again, location dependent, but are you familiar enough with local tax regs that you can either do them yourself or hire someone to do them?

      * Other regulatory items – this is more US specific, but there are a lot of ways to run a small business. Are you going to incorporate as a limited liability? Just be a single owner? (If you are in the US I strongly recommend going the LLC route. Really strongly. It will take more paperwork to set up but will make your life less of a nightmare if things go sideways.).

      * Other admin items – are you going to have other employees? If so, I strongly recommend getting a short consult with a local employment lawyer to understand your rights & responsibilities for benefits, taxes, etc. This is also true if you’re setting up retirement accounts for yourself through the business (legal but you have to jump through some additional tax loopholes). How’s your IT setup and knowledge? Will you want or need a website? Will you be dealing with any sensitive information (credit card numbers?)?

      Congrats on your upcoming venture!

    9. WestsideStory*

      Pay off ALL of your personal debts. Every credit card, store card, loan, outstanding Venmo with friends.

      Nothing derails a new business more than old debt. You may think you have enough saved, but if it’s owed elsewhere it’s really not yours. While you are still employed is the time to saw through any pending obligations.

  9. ThatGirl*

    Curious for the commentariat’s thoughts on managers monitoring or controlling LinkedIn posts. Where is the line, for you? If someone you manage posts something slightly snarky, is that worth commenting on? How would you feel if your manager asked you to take a post down? Assume nobody is being called out directly, but that someone in the know could read between the lines.

    1. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      I would say best practice for a manager is to pretend you don’t see anything your reports post on social media unless it directly exposes you or your company to liability. Anything else would be overreach.

      1. JMR*

        Agreed. It might color my opinion of that employee and their judgement, but I wouldn’t act on it directly unless it was particularly egregious (racist/revealed confidential information/etc).

      2. MigraineMonth*

        I think there’s a big difference between an employee’s personal Twitter account and a LinkedIn account that presumably lists their employment. I’d expect the LinkedIn account to be reasonably professional, like what you would overhear in the breakroom.

        1. Ellen Ripley*

          I think that’s reasonable to hope for but it seems like overreach by the employer to actually enforce that doesn’t it?

          1. Tio*

            Not really? I mean, you can get fired for your public twitter, why not your public linked in? (although it would depend to me a bit on how strict the company is being about what’s being posted.)

          2. GythaOgden*

            Not really. It’s a corporate website where you can see clearly who you work with.

            Also people looking in from outside might see it if they look you up while you’re job-hunting or they’re headhunting, and decide they don’t want that kind of drama in their office.

            I’d take it down and use a notebook at home to rant, or WhatsApp between you and your mum or whatever. It’s really not worth the issues you might have either now or later on.

    2. Sunflower*

      I think it depends on the nature of the post. I think LinkedIn has gotten far too social but if the poster is talking about a publicly known thing and trying to make a point, that’s fine but if they are just using LinkedIn as a venting tool or spewing thoughts and talking about inter workplace dynamics, I’d moreso caution them to rethink how they post.

      For example, if someone posted a meme of Michael Scott and captioned ‘someone I know/my boss’, I don’t think that’s appropriate on a LinkedIn but would be fine on Facebook or Instragram. I’m not sure I’d ask them to take it down but I’d let them know I saw it and that means anyone else at the company could see it.

      If you work for a big gas company that has just announced a climate pledge and the poster writes LOL, that’s different.

      Either way, it wouldn’t hurt to remind them that these sites are public and you have no way of knowing how someone higher up or C-Suite would feel about the posts. They should evaluate if posting a thought is worth potential ramifications or headaches regardless of how major or minor they are.

    3. EMP*

      LinkedIn is more directly connected to your work life and company so I think it’s fair for a manager to have more of an opinion on that than, say, twitter. I think it really depends on the context though. Badmouthing a competitor, being snarky about your own product, or anything that would open the company up to a PR or legal issue = definitely seems reasonable for a manager to intervene. Being generally snarky about something very general like idk, “the economy” that doesn’t reflect specifically on the company feels like more of an overstep.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Well, I really am curious for broad thoughts on this so I don’t want to get too specific. But I’m thinking more about posts where someone mentions coworkers in a broad sense, but nobody specific, and where you might read some snark or frustration into it. Not saying “this company is bad” or “this person is bad” but more “here’s a pet peeve of mine, when coworkers do x” and x is a thing that can’t be tied to one specific person or group.

        1. Trina*

          If I had to pick a real-life “appropriateness meter” to compare it to, would you be concerned/find this thing that was said inappropriate if you overheard the employee say it during a conversation in the break room? I know LinkedIn is still more public-facing than that, but I think it’s a starting point.

        2. WellRed*

          If you are the employee in this case, don’t do it. It serves no purpose and makes you look bad. If you are the manager you could ignore it or consider whether, outside the post, there’s something to consider.

        3. FashionablyEvil*

          Not worth it to get involved unless it’s really egregious (e.g., racist, sexist, sharing confidential information.) Vaguebooking (can we still call it that if it’s on LinkedIn?) just reflects poorly on the person who wrote it. No need for a manager to get involved.

    4. Hiring Mgr*

      Snarking on coworkers on LinkedIn isn’t a good idea, and since LI is work connected, I think it’s within the manager’s purview to comment.

      But really this is a bad idea so whether the manager has the right to say anything is secondary i think

  10. weird interviews*

    WWYD?

    November: I was casually job searching because I was stagnant and wanted to climb the ladder. I interviewed for a role that seemed a good fit. Passed the recruiter round with “Wendy”, passed the hiring manager round with “Rick”, performed the tech skills round with “Alison”. Heard nothing further, and assumed I’d failed the tech skills round.

    This week: Rick called me twice in two days, leaving voicemails urging me to call him back about a “new” role just like the one I had applied for. Also got an e-mail from a different in-house recruiter “Ethan” saying he had gotten my resume from Rick and wanted to talk to me about a new role, which I thought was weird. Why not have Wendy be the one to write to me (I checked LinkedIn, she is still there, assuming her profile is accurate)? Ethan also pushed for urgency, claiming that I had to write back ASAP because he would be offline for work travel by the end of the day. I called Rick back after the second voicemail (I use my Google voice number for resumes, and I’m not obsessive about checking it, so I’m not instantly reachable the way many folks are on their cell phones).

    Rick claimed on our call that there had been a perfect candidate very far along in the interview process by the time I had interviewed, but that he felt very positive about me, and had told Wendy to tell me that. I responded that I’d never heard back from anyone, and he apologized and made noises about how important good communication was, and said he’d try to figure out why Wendy didn’t contact me. He claimed to have a requisition for a second new role that was just being added to the team, and that the role would be identical to the one I had interviewed for. He wanted me to apply to the role on the website, but claimed he could fast-track me by skipping the recruiter round and skipping the tech skills round. I was noncommittal, saying I would consider it.

    I replied to Ethan by e-mail after the call with Rick, saying that I would consider moving for a great fit, and could he provide more details? He replied immediately, saying that he had no further info until the new role was posted, but just wanted to check if I was interested. This makes no sense. If it’s an identical role, why not just re-send me the same job description as before? My initial gut feeling was that their first pick had quit and I was the second choice, but this response from Ethan doesn’t support that.

    Relevant background: my research and my conversation with Wendy leads me to believe that this company severely underpays. I would be taking a ~20k cut to jump up two levels of promotion (not into management, more like the change from an L5 software engineer to an L7 software engineer). I’m not going to accept a pay cut, but I am curious to see what the actual offer would be.

    I’m really confused by how strangely this is playing out. They want to know ASAP if I want a job just like the one I applied for, but they have no actual information or job description? They’re acting urgent and saying I can “fast track,” yet I’m supposed to wait for the job to appear on their website and apply to it manually all over again?

    WTF is going on here? How would you proceed in this situation?

    1. Buttons*

      It could be that they underestimated their needs for that role, or that the person they hired quit, or there was a reorg somewhere and that’s why they need another person…who knows? I wouldn’t automatically assume it’s nefarious, since a lot of hiring processes are a mess in some way. Wendy could be out on leave and these other two are covering for her, and maybe aren’t on the same page about procedure (or there’s more than one role opening up and they both want you on their team). Since you’re curious about their offer, I would re-apply and see what happens.
      P.S. the re-application requirement is 100% an HR or tracking thing, not a big deal. In my previous company, all offer letters, new hire paperwork, etc. were sent from the application system (a mostly automated process), so if you weren’t in the system, you could not get hired.

    2. urguncle*

      Here’s my outsider take:
      – Rick knows what’s going on in terms of who he needs to hire. The “identical” job is either that the first job was larger than they thought, or someone else quit/got promoted
      – Unfortunately, he probably also needs to do a bunch of legwork to make this role happen: the JD needs to be put on the website, there’s budget that has to get approved, his boss has to look it over, etc etc
      – They have to have you apply on the website because that’s likely the only way that they can get applicants into the system.
      – Rick and Wendy aren’t going to know much about the position until it’s posted or it’s very close to being posted.

      I think a lot of companies work like this, even though it’s really frustrating for applicants. It’s up to you. I don’t think it says a lot about the job you’d do (unless you’re in recruiting). That being said, you can definitely decide that this, along with majorly underpaying, are dealbreakers.

    3. The New Wanderer*

      Part of it sounds like they’re constrained by the specific hiring processes: maybe they can’t forward you the same job description if it has to be a new req with a new application, but they can fast-track you as soon as that req is posted. So that didn’t strike me as particularly weird, it sounds like they really want you on the team. Even switching recruiters doesn’t feel like a red flag to me, although it does sound a little mismanaged – they may have a pooled approach instead of one-to-one recruiter to candidate, which could explain Wendy dropping the ball on following up with you originally if she assumed Ethan would do it, which he did. But then I got to the part where they likely underpay significantly, which sounds like a non-starter for you anyway.

      Since it sounds like you have already done most of the interview process but wouldn’t accept an offer that’s a big cut, I would ask about salary at this point before moving forward with this second position. If it’s as far off as you suspect, better to know it now.

    4. KOALA*

      I think it would depend on how much you would want the position if it truly is that they just added a second role for the same original position. Can you find the job description from when you originally applied and review it, compare it to the new posting when it is listed? And it may be worth saying that you would be interested(if that’s true). However since you never reached the salary discussion round the first time, you want to make sure that a salary between x-y(what you would genuinely be comfortable with) is possible for the position before you move forward with re-applying.

    5. Parenthesis Guy*

      This situation is completely normal. I don’t know why you think this is playing out strangely.

      Companies have a recruiter department. A team doesn’t necessarily work with one recruiter. Or alternatively, they have recruiters to hunt for candidates and recruiters to close. So, you shouldn’t expect to hear back from the same person.

      You didn’t fail the tech screen. You did well, but someone else did better. Now that they have a second position, they want you. Rick is reaching out to you directly to make sure you know he’s interested. Wendy didn’t talk to you because she’s a recruiter. They don’t like reaching out to people to tell them there is nothing.

      I don’t understand why you called Ethan. Why would you think the recruiter would know more about this position than the manager? Why would you think the job descriptions are going to be the same?

      The way you proceed in this situation is to be happy that the manager wants you to reapply for the new position.

    6. RagingADHD*

      I would follow the process to find out what I needed to find out about the job – ie, telling Ethan I was interested, applying on the website, and then letting Rick know that I’d applied.

      I’m not sure what is giving you the heebies about this. It seems fairly straightforward. If there are multiple internal recruiters working as a team, there is no reason why Wendy would be the one working on the new requisition. She’s probably swamped working on something else. Or out sick, or dealing with any number of other things. Or maybe Rick doesn’t want to work with Wendy on his requisitions, because she has a track record of dropping the ball on communication. None of that has anything to do with whether the job would be a good fit for you.

      It kind of sounds like you’re trying to read tea leaves about this position, which is always a temptation. But the way to find out the answers you’re looking for is to stay in the process.

    7. Aitch Arr*

      The red flag(s) here aren’t with the recruitment process, they are with the underpaying of employees. Make sure you review compensation with the recruiter or hiring manager asap.

    8. Tio*

      Not talking to Wendy is not weird at all. In companies with internal recruiters, they’re rarely assigned to specific departments; the recruitment for a position goes to whoever has less on their plate (exceptions may be made for recruiting for higher-level positions, which will be reserved for higher level recruiters). This is because the recruiters internally usually aren’t paid by candidate like external recruiters are.

    9. WestsideStory*

      Ask for an updated job description and a salary range. Clearly their plans for the role are now different, but that shouldn’t prevent them from providing updating information after all this time.

      Also, their urgency is their problem. Or an opportunity to get more money or even a signing bonus. Don’t let them rush YOU.

  11. Stay out of the zone, auto zone*

    I had an interview with a company that has “salary zones”, so if you live in a high cost of living zone, you’re paid more than a low cost of living. The recruiter mentioned that if you move to a lower cost of living zone, your salary will then reflect that.

    Is this normal? Don’t most companies allow you to keep your salary if you move to a lower cost of living area?

    1. Monday Monday*

      I have never heard of this model. My company pays based on where the headquarters is. We are a mostly remote workforce. I live in a lower cost of living but I get paid the higher cost of living because that is where my company is located.

    2. Sunflower*

      The salary bumps and decreases have been the case at the 2 companies I’ve worked at that I’ve moved between HCOL and LCOL zones.

    3. Ally*

      This is how my international NGO pays us- depending on where you live. A “zone” is an entire country though, as far as I know.

    4. Charlotte Lucas*

      I worked somewhere that did, with the caveat that you wouldn’t get additional raises unless you were within the salary band for the new location. It caused consternation when people moved from a high COL area & were making way more than underpaid staff. The COL wasn’t applied fairly, either. It was based on nearest metropolitan area, & we had staff in a small town who were making phenomenally good pay for their county.

    5. Not a Real Giraffe*

      In my experience, this is normal. I have worked at large professional firms and if you started working in New York City (for example) but then wanted to move to Charlotte, your salary would be adjusted to match the cost of living in Charlotte.

      But let’s say you work in New York City but you live in the boonies within the tri-state area. Because your office and your work are physically located in the city, your salary stays at NYC rates.

      (Great username, btw!)

    6. Siege*

      I don’t know whether it’s normal, but I have to say I’m not opposed to it – there have been a lot of stories, including one where I know the affected people personally, where people with HCOL salaries move to LCOL communities and overwhelm the LCOL, for example by driving up the cost of housing.

      Obviously it needs to be more nuanced than just “ope, no, your Bay Area suburb is lower COL than Palo Alto, here’s your pay cut,” and it needs to go both directions, but if you work in SF and live in Elk City, Idaho (population, 220; Amazon delivery: 0) your salary is a problem for the community, and more of one when ten of your coworkers join you there.

      1. Rosemary*

        My guess is employers are not reducing salaries for the good of the lower COL areas their employees are moving to, but because these see it as an opportunity to cut costs.

        With regard to the harm transplants are bringing to lower COL areas…honestly, I imagine that would be problem regardless of if companies cut salaries. With the rise of remote work, odds are decent that people flocking to Elk City, Idaho are going to be making more than the average person there does anyway – with or without a cut in their SF salary (ie, even the “lower” salary is still going to be high in Elk City). Should people not move to these areas?

        1. Siege*

          I fully understand that employers are doing that because it saves them money. It’s one of the reasons I noted it needs to go both ways, because they will never voluntarily increase salary if you move to a HCOL area. I don’t really think it semantically makes a difference to the question asked if they’re doing it to save money or with benevolence in their hearts or because (not in the US, obviously) it’s the law.

          And I’m not touching the other question. There are too many variables for an individual’s circumstance to make a blanket statement. I know what I consider ethically right, and I know it is out of line with what a lot of people think, and I don’t really care.

          1. M*

            My husbands employer increases and decreases salary according to COL. There’s a spreadsheet with all the details so you can compare before you make a decision to move.

          2. Giant Kitty*

            What seems ethically right is to pay all employees based on the location of the JOB, not the employee. Does an employee’s work suddenly become less valuable to the employer because they moved from NYC or San Francisco to Podunktown? Absolutely not.

            If it’s not reasonable to give people a raise because they chose a more expensive lifestyle (pricy house, lots of kids, like European vacations, whatever) then it’s also not reasonable to cut people’s pay because they chose a LESS expensive one, including moving to a LCOL area.

        2. Sunflower*

          There was a question submitted to Alison that discussed this if you’re interested in reading about different viewpoints on this- the title was i-resent-my-employee-for-being-richer-and-more-qualified-than-me

    7. My Brain is Exploding*

      The military. Although you stay with your own salary but there is an added stipend depending on the area in which you live. So the stipend changes but your actual salary does not.

    8. Huh*

      Not a for-profit company, but this is how COL adjustments are done for federal employees.

      I couldn’t say if it’s “normal” for for-profit organizations to do, and I don’t think a handful of replies in a Friday open thread are a good sample size to determine whether it is, but the logic isn’t uncommon.

    9. Anonymous Educator*

      This is how my workplace does it. I would say it’s normal, because I’ve seen people marvel at one San Francisco–based companies pay Bay Area pay no matter where in the world you live.

    10. Decidedly Me*

      I’ve seen it done a bunch of different ways, including this one which I find pretty fair. However, it must work both ways – moving from LCOL to HCOL should be reflected in salary, as well.

    11. Vanilla latte*

      My current company does this. I was paid x amount due to where I was living when I started the role (mid-size Midwestern city with a relatively low cost of living).

      I recently relocated to Nashville, which has a much higher cost of living than my former city. I interviewed for an internal role recently and the recruiter told me the role (a lateral move/same title) paid less because I am in TN and “the cost of living is cheaper down there.” My company uses state salary bands, not city specific cost of living, which is really frustrating.

      1. Rosemary*

        That is really frustrating! I live in NYC…which obviously has a much higher cost of living than, say, Buffalo. I imagine it is the same in many states – Sacramento is much less than SF, small town Texas less than Dallas, and so forth.

    12. Parenthesis Guy*

      They usually don’t cut your salary but do cut your bonuses. But honestly, it doesn’t strike me as weird.

    13. IT Manager*

      We have a location component to our salary.

      They are pretty broad but yes, if you’re moving from New York/London/Tokyo to Dallas/Glasgow/Des Moines, you will move to the lower salary range.

      If you have to be in the office, of course you live and get salary based on where that office is. If remote, the hiring manager will approve a given location based on if we are set up for taxes and also if that role can “afford” a high geography salary.

    14. Joie De Vivre*

      I used to work at a company that paid llama groomers under 2 different pay codes. The first was the regular llama groomer base pay, the second was a location incentive.

      So if someone transferred to a lower cost of living location, their location incentive decreased or was taken away. Their base pay remained the same.

      But if someone transferred to a higher cost of living area, the location incentive was added/increased. The base pay would remain the same.

      But if

    15. Qwerty*

      Caveat that this info is mostly from an office-first perspective where it was easy to change office locations within the same company.

      Assuming someone who moves a from low zone to a high zone gets their salary adjusted higher, its normal. It’s about paying market rate for the area or ensuring that employees at the same pay band are being given the same relative compensation/buying power. One way that a company might do this is have a base salary and then regional multipliers. Others might research market rates for the role in different regions.

      When people would choose to transfer to the NYC office, their salary went up but they didn’t get a raise in buying power, because NYC is very expensive. If they left and went to the Chicago office, their salary was reduced by a relative rate but they’d generally be able to afford at least as nice of a lifestyle. Same if they transferred to lower COL non-city location. Generally people said the salary reduction still felt like a raise when moving to the lower COL places so they felt like they came out ahead.

      The alternate is one salary across the board no matter where you live. That one salary is going to be more in line with the lower COL because there are many many small towns to balance out the small number of Big Cities when they start averaging things.

    16. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      The US government does that. There’s basically a cost of living adjustment to every pay rate, so if you move from expensive DC to cheaper St. Louis, in a lateral move, you’d stay at the same “rank” but the actual salary would change. It’s usually done as a percentage, if I recall. So maybe there’s a 5% bump to the base rate for DC and a 1% on for St. Louis (made up numbers).

    17. Justin*

      My company mostly does this, though you won’t get your salary CUT if you move… but your next raise might not happen if you move from NYC to Texas.

      For us, it’s really that everywhere is the same and we get slightly more in Bay Area and NYC.

    18. Aitch Arr*

      Totally normal, in my (tech) experience.

      The ‘zones’ I’ve been familiar with are the Coasts and the rest of the USA though. YMMV.

    19. PhillG*

      My company does this with vacation days: it’s kind of like combat pay. Certain locations are seriously undesirable to live in so the enhanced benefits are offered as a recruitment incentive. If you move to another location you lose the benefits.

      1. Anecdata*

        UN jobs have something similar where it’s that some posts qualify for R&R leave, which is different from vacation

    20. Elizabeth West*

      I’m talking to a company with multiple offices that does this. I’ve also seen it mentioned here before and in quite a few articles. Since remote work is becoming more common after the pandemic, I think it’ll be a thing for the foreseeable future.

      Personally, I’d like to see compensation based on the work and not geography. But hopefully we’ll get there.

      1. RagingADHD*

        I can’t imagine how we would get there as long as supply and demand are a component of salaries. “Paying for what the work is worth” is relative. The work is worth whatever it costs to get it done. No more.

        Employers pay what they have to pay to get qualified people. They don’t pay more in a high HCOL area to be nice. They do it because the best workers won’t take the job otherwise. If they can get qualified people in a low COL for cheaper, then that’s what they pay.

    21. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      No don’t assume companies let you keep the same salary when moving to a lower cost of living area (i.e. a different state). Especially now, it’s better to assume your salary will change if you move to a different, especially lower cost of living state.

    22. Not mr*

      At my company it is a market differential ‘adder’ for certain areas so if you are in that area you get it, but if you move to another area that doesn’t have a market differential or its lower then that applies.

    23. Squeakrad123*

      This is a case at some of the larger tech companies here in the bay area, at least. So many people move to remote work , they figured they would pay them less if they moved to the lower cost of living area.

  12. Courses Courses*

    What’s everyone’s experience with / opinion of Coursera? Not as a substitute for a degree, I already have one, I’m thinking more of taking short courses in things like process improvement or project management, or the like, to boost my résumé in those areas (my degree is not in business and I have an administrative role now). Specific questions are:

    -Is it rigorous enough to be worth the money?

    -Do hiring managers respect it enough to be a plus?

    -Are there short/remote/asynchronous courses from other companies you’d recommend over Coursera? I’m just looking at that one since I’ve heard of it and I don’t know a lot of these.

    Not looking for anything as involved or expensive as a community college course, but something still with some legitimacy to it. Any perspective is appreciated!

    1. Alex*

      Edx is (mostly) free and can be quite rigorous. You have to pay if you want access to certain content, like exams and stuff, and to get the “certificate,” but you can have free access to the instructional materials.

      I don’t think paying for the certificates are worth it. I don’t think most hiring managers would use that as a substitute for actually demonstrating the skills in the workplace. However, if you want to learn something, it will teach it to you (as long as you keep up with the course).

    2. Forgot my name again*

      My POW subscribes to LinkedIn Learning, which has some good courses on. IIRC they used to use Coursera a while ago, but I think they switched as part of a package deal with Microsoft.

    3. Bunny Girl*

      I was just wondering this too! I am graduating with an environmental biology related degree and I want to learn about GIS, but I just can’t justify/afford the expense to get a graduate certificate in it. They have a GIS certificate that I’m really interested in but can’t get much on whether its legit or not.

      1. Sparkle llama*

        I use GIS in my job and the university in our area offers in person classes on GIS pretty regularly and while you have to pay for them they aren’t terribly expensive (I think $200-500 for a full day of in person training). So that might be an option in your area if you think that format would be easier for you.

        1. Bunny Girl*

          I actually hate in person learning lol. I’ve done my entire degree online and it’s *chef’s kiss*

      2. tamarack etc.*

        I can say that my institution is one that has several GIS related courses on EdX, and they’re made by people who teach the regular classes. It’s an area we’re strong in. (My own job relates to it too.)

        There’s only so much you can do in a GIS course that is a free MOOC, but I wouldn’t sneeze on it.

        The way I bring up MOOC-acquired knowledge is that I use it for something else, and if someone interviews me about how I acquired the skills for X I bring them up as a self-study tool. Like this I am not claiming a particular standing compared to formal degrees.

    4. Buttons*

      I’m curious about this too!

      I actually do have a certificate from Coursera, as I am changing industries and wanted to learn more about the new one (along with a bunch of other things I wanted to learn). The same day I updated my resume with the completed certificate, I got 2 interviews when I hadn’t gotten a single one before, so I THINK it helped. It could also have been unrelated and random. This all happened last week, so idk.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I got a certificate from Coursera through a US university. It was rigorous enough for me to feel like I was really learning something and I ended up with a capstone project on Github that I could point to if I wanted.

        I did a second certificate directly through a different US university (paid by my company) that was also well done. Both were 3-4 months duration in total, asynchronous (Coursera was mostly self-paced, the MITxPRO courses were semi-scheduled) and could be done in 5-7 hours per week, which felt less demanding than a full degree program.

        It feels a bit like listing a minor along with your major degree – not the thing that would get you hired on its own, but something that could add to your candidacy. The value to me was finding out whether I liked the material enough to pursue it further – if I wanted to do a career change, I would invest in a master’s program.

    5. EMP*

      I paid $50 for a certificate from EdX a few years ago. I don’t think just 1 class was a difference to my resume but I personally learned a lot that was very useful for my own understanding, and paying for the course kept me actually working on it (I definitely wouldn’t have finished it otherwise haha).

      I’ve definitely interviewed people with udacity/edx/coursera work on their resume and it probably sets me up to think of them as someone driven to either learn more or keep up with their field. Definitely positive but if you didn’t have work experience that used the classes I don’t think they’d be enough on my own to hire you.

      tl;dr, I think it can be worth it on a few levels but it’s not magic

    6. amoeba*

      Don’t know about other areas, but for coding stuff Udemy is quite good. I think they also have other subjects?
      The courses there you purchase once, so no subscription model. Just don’t ever pay the (ridiculous) “full price”, they have “sales” like every few days where the courses will be 90% or so off. I generally paid around 10 € or so per course.

    7. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

      I’ve taken a few dev/coding/SW testing courses on Coursera, just for my own benefit – not to get a certificate or anything, so usually I’m just auditing the courses vs. paying for each one.

      Re: quality – a lot depends on who is offering the course. Some that I’ve taken that have been run by state universities have been excellent. Lots of details, theory, and great info on resources and reference materials. Other courses have been… not great. (Imagine someone with poor to no public speaking skills reading off of PowerPoint slides. Yeah.)

      The nice thing is, you can sign up for a course for free and get a feel for what it’s like, and can then opt to convert to paying for the course. So you could take one of the initial courses in a series, and if you’re not impressed, then you’re not really out anything.

  13. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    What’s the worst ‘ worst of both worlds’ nonsense you’ve seen? We’re going to have a 3 hour zoom training but we still have to go to the office to do it because ??.

      1. Not Always Right*

        That has got to be one of the most asinine decisions ever. Having said that, and I am playing Devil’s advocate here: maybe, just maybe and I am pulling this out of my er Uranus, but maybe it is to ensure everyone has decent internet so the zoom meeting can go smoothly? That’s the only thing I can think of. If I am right, I have to declare that this has to be one of the most asinine thing I have heard in a while.

        1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

          We all work from home nearly all the time too. ( They don’t actually have space for everyone to work at the office) They are doing more useless in person stuff for reasons ??

    1. The New Wanderer*

      Not me but a colleague – they are currently working on the west coast at a branch office, but their manager is requiring them to fly back to the head office on the east coast for their “in-office day” requirement once every two weeks. They’re literally IN an office but not the ‘right’ office.

      1. lurkyloo*

        YES! I’m fighting this right now! Not as far a distance, but think 2 hours driving and 2 hours ferry both ways…Not happening, bub.
        Oh and not to mention that I’d be going in to
        have meetings
        on Teams

    2. the cat's pajamas*

      In the before times, past employer which had terrible snow day policies didn’t close, then made a huge show of letting employees leave early once the snow got closer to 6-8 inches with no sign of stopping and forecasted to become a blizzard. They made a big show of how gracious it was to let us leave early, only didn’t plow the parking lot fully before sending everyone home. We had to dig our cars out, again, after all the trouble to dig our at home and come in. My colleague had one of those emergency shovels but it took forever. Since then, I’ve kept the smallest full-size shovel that will fit in my trunk.

    3. Another_scientist*

      Our internal project management tool got a new piece introduced where a ton of info is required when setting up a new project entry. We are basically asked whether each new project will involve other offices down the line, such as purchasing, legal etc. If you answer yes, then you have to give all the details right then, ostensibly to help those offices plan their workload. However, when the time comes and I need assistance from purchasing or legal, I still need to reach out and give them all information again, so I just get to do double work.

    4. Prospect Gone Bad*

      at two jobs ago, they made us start getting verbal approvals for pricing exceptions in addition to print. So in addition to following up 10X to get “approved” to emails, I had to call Directors 10X to have them be confused about who I was talking about, then get told to email instead

    5. A Poster Has No Name*

      They know perfectly well that nobody will pay any attention to the training if someone in charge can’t keep their beady little eyes on you.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Me: a professional adult. I’m not sure why I wouldn’t pay attention to important training because I’m not sitting in a crowd in a way that actively prevents paying attention ( pretending to pay attention and paying attention are different activities)

        1. Rex Libris*

          In my experience there is a certain (sadly common) sort of management that will always see themselves as headmasters over a group of unruly schoolchildren, even when most of their reports have graduate degrees and are in their 30s, 40s or 50s.

    6. Shiba Dad*

      Years ago I worked at a small company that was sold to a larger company that had a few other subsidiaries. The policy for a third week of vacation time for Old and New Companies were as follows:

      Old Company – third week of vacation in the year of your 10th anniversary.
      New Company – third week of vacation in the year following your 5th anniversary.

      The resulting policy for us – third week of vacation in the year following your 10th anniversary. In the past I’ve literally used “worst of both worlds” to describe this.

      Note: we did not know about the “5 year” portion of the policy that our parent and sister companies were under. The policy changed to match theirs because there were several of us who were hitting the 10 year mark and expected to have a third week.

    7. Some Day I'll Think of Something Clever*

      My boss’s adult daughter “works” in the business. She doesn’t have the first clue what we do and only makes sporadic appearances. When she does, it’s to work on personal projects or hang out with her mom, often getting into arguments that RESONATE throughout the office. In addition to getting one of the top salaries, the business also covers her rent and car lease. (File that under things I shouldn’t know but do.)

      Upon leaving after one of her rare “in office” days, she dumps her dishes on my desk for me to clean. Awhile back, I told her that she was responsible for cleaning up after herself. Since then, she began dumping her dishes on my desk.

      1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

        You know all of those “Your mother doesn’t work here” signs that people put up in breakrooms? …. now is the perfect time to take advantage of the fact that Mom actually does!
        I’d be so tempted to bring those dishes to mom’s office and leave them there.

        1. Some Day I'll Think of Something Clever*

          Hah! I like that. I’m very tempted to post such signs, but I don’t think it would ever register with entitled daughter. My boss did tell me that her daughter threw a fit after I suggested she be responsible for her cleaning up after herself.

          Following that, she bought the office (on the business’s CC) a fancy set of kitchen sponges and scrubbers because she thought my dish-cleaning skills were lacking.

      2. Giant Kitty*

        I hope you took those dishes and put them right back on her own desk to clean. And continue to do so every time she does it.

    8. Random Bystander*

      Did not take this option, but it was clearly the worst of both worlds option.

      My employer sent us all WFH in March 2020 (except for the few who couldn’t get high speed internet … some of us are pretty rural–but this meant that less than a quarter remained in office. Sometime after, they offered us a choice.

      We could:
      a) return to office full time–anyone taking this option would have an assigned permanent desk and give up the internet stipend we receive
      b) continue WFH full time — basically no changes
      c) (the worst of both world)–I forget how many days they wanted you to come in per week under this option, but under this option you would have to hotdesk on all in-office days *and* give up the internet stipend.

      Not so unexpectedly, no one opted for (c).

  14. Jazz and Manhattans*

    I am a low-level manager on a small team that is going through some tough times. Our company is not doing well and we are one of the only department taking cuts, much against our will. We already had been told for the last few years that we could not hire staff when people left but now we are seriously cutting into muscle when people leave. Morale is in the tubes since we don’t see any way out of this as leadership doesn’t see how much we do for the org (think support department like finance, IT, HR). If one more person leaves we just cannot do the work. We can only do so much to keep things afloat and mistakes will be made due to being overworked and quite frankly negative feelings about the leadership team that keeps doing this to us. With no end in sight, how do we keep our team motivated or at the very least stop pushing back on things that need to be done? Writing that I am shaking my head – you can’t motivate a team where probably half of the rest are also looking for new jobs. Any thoughts from those who had been/are in a similar situation?

    1. SJ (they/them)*

      Reading this my first thought it, can you stop overworking your team? What would happen if you had them work a normal amount of hours, reasonable workload, etc? Presumably stuff would not get done, so you’d have to go back to your own higher ups with lines like “we can do A and B but not C, or C but not A and B, which do you want the team to prioritize?” and let them sort it out. The people up the chain have to actually feel the pain of things not working before they’ll change anything, because from their perspective as long as the work gets done everything is fine. This may or may not be feasible for you but it’s what comes to mind for me thinking about your situation! Start saying no to things, no we don’t have the personnel to handle that, no we can’t make it by that deadline, etc. If you can! Wishing you well as this sounds really really hard.

      1. Nopity Nope*

        Can you clarify this part?

        “… stop pushing back on things that need to be done.”

        Because that sounds like you want people to stop pushing back about being OVERWORKED and just…happily put in extra time. I sincerely hope not.

        I concur with SJ—send the pain UPWARDS, not downwards.

        1. Jazz and Manhattans*

          What I mean is that people are starting to push back on actual work that is within their purview to do not necessarily because they have too much on their plate but because they are so upset with what is going on.

          1. Observer*

            Make sure that it actually IS that they are upset, rather than too much on their plates.

            If it’s just being upset, tell them that you sympathize but it’s not up for discussion. On the other hand, people should know that you realize that things are ridiculous and that you will give people good references as long as they are reasonable (ie do a good job NOT work crazy hours to make impossible things happen.)

    2. Maggie*

      It sounds like your company is going under, so people are making the smart decision to focus on job hunting. I don’t think you motivate someone in that situation. I would think much more than half are job hunting, and I’d encourage you to do so as well!

    3. Former Gremlin Herder*

      I’m currently on a small team that’s been affected by layoffs. So far there’s been multiple rounds of layoffs and satellite office closures-it’s bad. I’m definitely looking for other jobs in a low key way and I suspect others are too. My workload has increased and I’m now doing the work of someone who was laid off. The most helpful thing my boss has done has been to say “we cannot do everything we want to do with this size of a team.” She’s also been honest when it’s affected work with other departments (think miscommunications or mistakes that would have normally been caught) and has taken on a lot of work herself to avoid sticking us with late nights. I know there’s only so much you can do depending on the type of work your team does, but frankly you can’t expect the skeleton crew of a slowly sinking ship to be excited about their every day tasks.

    4. KOALA*

      On motivating the team: Are there any small perks that can be offered like food, long lunch Fridays or something like that? Not coming out of your pocket but is there any way to negotiate a small budget for those things. Or would your team enjoy doing a potluck style day at regular intervals just from a morale standpoint? Also just letting your team know you see them and you understand the frustration but your hands are tied, continuing to pick up as much as you can without also burning out and making mistakes.

      Regarding leadership not seeing how much the team does for the org, can you write that out. Not even all at once but start a doc that you jot down the things the team does and then eventually write it up in a way that says: “We understand cuts have been necessary over the years but our department has been taking the brunt of them. We want to point out the value that our team brings to the org and are reaching a point where we cannot do all things without something suffering, up to and including work needs and staff physical and mental health. The support we offer includes: Bullet points of the things focusing on the most important but having one that summarizes the smaller items. We have reached a point where we need to hire to support the team or to work with leadership to engage other departments with taking on some of these tasks. In the meantime we will be focusing on A and B because these are key to the org functioning and C, D and E will be low priority.” Hopefully it can come from you and other managers in your chain of command so they feel the weight of it.

      Separately if the business is really in trouble: Maybe starting to highlight the tasks and projects that the team has done in a way that shows recognition but also subtly points to what they could list on resumes to highlight their skills and accomplishments. And possibly start writing recommendation letters to have ready.

    5. Jazz and Manhattans*

      Thanks for the feedback everyone! Some responses – trust me that we are absolutely pushing back on the amount of work on people’s plates and telling them that things aren’t going to be completed or in a timely manner. We can barely keep the lights on with our own swimlanes now without someone leaving. We are actively telling the departments we support that it’s going to be painful for them for a long time and I’m not mincing words as to why. Yes, people are looking for new jobs mainly because of how disrespected we feel not even so much about the workload. I actually just don’t think there is a solution other than find a new job which is a shame as we once had a pretty fantastic team and we all loved coming to work and collaborating with each other. I don’t think giving them perks will help (although we do what we can). One of the topics recently was that leadership needs to stop throwing pizza parties and saying “look we appreciate you” when we still have to go back to our desks that are piled high with no end in site. Stop telling us to meditate to deal with our stress when you are the cause of our stress!

    6. Hiring Mgr*

      Truthfully if things are as bad as it sounds, and there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, than i don’t think you’ll be able to motivate them at all, it’s just not realistic.

    7. Observer*

      Stop wasting time and energy and start creating a triage plan with three tiers 1. MUST BE DONE ASAP. 2. Needs to get done sooner rather than later 3. Should be done whenever, which means probably never.

      Anything that is not actually necessary should not go on the list at all. Keep a separate list useful things that you cannot do, though, because if you ever have a moment where you can talk some sense to someone, these lists will come in handy. And if that never happens, I hope they will eventually motivate you to look for greener pastures.

  15. Unpresentable Fat Middle Age Jew*

    I work in Higher Education and a position that is the next step in my career in my office is opening up over the summer. I have all the experience needed, it’s well known that I would love this opportunity and have honed in my skills to succeed at this position.

    A trusted colleague pulled me aside and said a few other colleagues were talking about the position and while most hoped I would get promoted, a few wanted the 22-year old fresh out of college, never had a job beyond an internship, always late to work, skinny (this is relevant) Administrative Assistant who recently started working with us. Because she’s “more presentable.” After talking to my colleague more it’s because I’m overweight and in my 40’s. My weight is due to a medical issue that I am trying to get sorted that doesn’t affect my work. And in my state my age is protected. And I do wonder after a previous experience at my work, if my religion (Judaism) is in the mix as well.

    I am not sure whether to talk to my director even though my colleague asked me not to say anything? Job hunt elsewhere? Or go to HR? (HR hasn’t been helpful. I’m the recent LW who has someone who worked in my building corner me and pray over me to come back to Jesus. And NOTHING was done.)

    1. SJ (they/them)*

      Can you get a free consultation with an employment lawyer? That would be my first step, unless you are part of a union in which case go straight to your union rep for sure.

      Fingers crossed for you, this sounds awful. You have my sympathies and support.

      1. SJ (they/them)*

        Oh, following up on this though, will your colleagues who are talking about this have actual input into the hiring decision? If not and they’re just being terrible jerks, then I’d try to ignore them. But if the sense is that the actual hiring decision may hinge on these factors then I would look into getting outside advice. Good luck!

        1. Unpresentable Fat Middle Age Jew*

          Yes they do. And they are also responsible for huge decision making and I am now questioning their ability to be able to make decisions fairly and not discriminate students.

          1. JelloStapler*

            I would be very concerned about this in that setting, as they have shown they will make decisions based on “presentation”- how are they assisting students fairly?

    2. Alex*

      As a fellow fat middle age Jew, I can relate to this. It sucks majorly. One question is–are the “few colleagues” who want this in a decision making position? I don’t really think you can take much action until you are actually denied the position in favor of the admin assistant. I would document what your colleague said to you, but keep it on the back burner if you do get denied the position.

      Also, is the position public-facing? If so, it might do good to polish up your look a bit. Sometimes polish IS a requirement of the job, as much as that sucks. Again, I say this as another fat 40-something who has never worn makeup in her life and who would be perfectly happy to move through life in hoodies, leggings, and sports bras. You definitely don’t need to do anything drastic, but making sure you have well-fitting clothes, a neat hairstyle, etc., can go a long way to a more polished look.

      1. Unpresentable Fat Middle Age Jew*

        I think we are long long twins fashion-wise.

        I make sure I dress nicely to work everyday. My hair is tied back into a pony tail and it’s quite curly. It’s hard to tame it with the humid climate here, but I keep it as reigned in as possible. I dress modestly and simply. I do notice one of the colleagues in question comes in with leggings, a tucked in polo shirt, and her hair messily tied up daily. Today I am wearing tights, a dress, and a button up sweater with dress flats. I do not like to wear tight fitting clothes and prefer to dress modestly for personal reasons.

      2. stelmselms*

        The LW did not say their looks were not polished, they specifically said they were not deemed as “presentable” because they are overweight. My husband dresses very professionally, but he is also overweight and is discriminated against at work because of it. He is in a very public facing position and all of the other folks in that position are athletic, fit, etc. Ironically, the stress of the job affected his health and resulted in the weight gain.

    3. Artemesia*

      If you feel your current job is fairly secure, I would have a conversation with the hiring manager that you had been told of rumors going around that you were being ruled out for this job because of your age and religion while someone with less experience was being considered and you wanted to find out if this were true. Might put the fear of lawsuits in them. Be sure you are extra presentable for the meeting.

    4. AnotherLibrarian*

      I’m not sure about the timeline- have you applied for the job or is this hypothetical? Until you get denied, there’s really not a legal case. However, as others have said I would document everything, apply if you already haven’t, and speak with a lawyer about best next steps. As a fellow Jew, I’m thinking of you.

    5. Unpresentable Fat Middle Age Jew*

      I’d also like to mention, this for some reason has hit me very hard. It’s been a rough start to the year with a lot of bad news in my extended family. Finding this out, was one of those moments that felt like something broke. I’ve honestly in one of the worst places mental health-wise. I know my colleagues know something is up because I am not my usual talkative self. I just can’t look at these people or talk to them. Or really anyone. I work, go home, and go to sleep. And have terrible nightmares and stomach aches. I guess this is bothering me so much that I’m physically ill. I’m working with my therapist through this, but I really am scared that this did some permanent damage to my mental health. I don’t even want to leave my house because I feel like I’m being judged.

      1. deesse877*

        This is awful to hear. But i know exactly what you mean–the shit is so unrelenting it gets inside your head. You owe these people nothing. Take care of yourself.

      2. Lily Rowan*

        I hate to say this, but is there anywhere else you could work? It sounds like this is not going to be a healthy place for you to be for the duration. I’d start looking elsewhere if I were you.

        And I am sure you know this, but those people are wrong!!

    6. Ellis Bell*

      Why would your colleague say something if they didn’t want you to say/do something? You say they are trusted, so you must have got the impression they were genuinely shocked and wanting to warn you (rather than concern trolling). Nevertheless if other colleagues are being fatphobes and ageist why would they not have your back there? I would definitely start a conversation with a lawyer based on HR’s lack of action over the previous religious harrasment (which was truly gobsmacking and very much a dropped ball from HR). This is something else to document in the light of that, but I think a lawyer would tell you whether you need your colleague on the record, or to give HR a chance to fail you again first, iykwim. It’s very concerning colleagues feel they can spout that sort of thing about your age and body! Did your colleague say if they were explicit on those factors or whether it was more their instinct of what they meant?

    7. deesse877*

      This sounds like the kind of BS I have encountered at some Southern US institutions, which can be jaw-droppingly conformist and appearance-oriented and misogynisyt cultures. And whether or not that’s the case, it is of course antisemitism. Lawyer, even if you decide not to do anything.

      1. Unpresentable Fat Middle Age Jew*

        And this is a southern US institution.

        We all had just completed our mandatory discrimination and harassment training. So they should all know better.

        1. deesse877*

          I just effing KNEW it. There is this specific thing, where like most people in middle and upper management collude to never acknowledge that something oppressive is happening, that reeks of that institutional culture. Like people not only gaslight you, but themselves, yet all the while they effortlessly maintain their own advantages. Hard to describe clearly and very insidious. So weird and hard to intervene on.

    8. Jaydee*

      It’s awful if you have colleagues who are saying they don’t want you promoted into a job it sounds like you’re qualified for due to your age, body size, and maybe religion. But are those colleagues going to be involved in the hiring process? Do you trust the people who *are* involved in the hiring process to treat you fairly?

      I don’t think there’s much you can do now to proactively address the potential you’ll be discriminated against in the hiring process that’s still months away. There are just too many variables as far as who is involved in the hiring, when the position is posted, whether the job description changes at all from what’s anticipated now, who applies for it, etc.

      Plus, what are your boss or HR going to say? “Oh darn, you caught us. We totally weren’t going to hire you because you’re a fat, middle-aged Jew. Guess we have to change our plans now.” No. They’ll say “Of course we wouldn’t do that!” and then either they’ll have a fair hiring process because they would have done so anyway or they’ll have a heads-up that you’re onto them so they’ll do a better job of hiding their discriminatory animus.

      What I think could actually be helpful is your colleague emailing your director and/or HR to say “Hey, a few of us were talking about who we thought might apply for the Llama Studies Program Coordinator job when it opens up. Sansa, Wakeen, and Fergus said they think Newbie should be hired instead of LW because she’s “more presentable” due to her age and body size/appearance. That made me really uncomfortable, and I’m sure both LW and Newbie would be upset if they knew colleagues were comparing them based on their age and looks! I trust the Camelid Studies Department is planning to hire whoever turns out to be most qualified and wouldn’t unlawfully discriminate against any candidates for this job. Can you maybe talk to them and make it clear that those aren’t valid considerations for hiring and that they need to stop making comments about co-workers’ bodies and physical appearance?”

      Because it’s normal to have those speculative conversations if they’re comparing your actual qualifications (LW has more experience, yeah but Newbie has a really good rapport with the students, maybe, but she’s late multiple times a week). But colleagues shouldn’t be talking about each other’s bodies.

      I do think it’s wise to keep an eye out for red flags in the hiring process. But also, don’t go into it assuming you’ll be treated unfairly because that can really get you second-guessing everything (Why did they ask about X? Did I answer that last question okay? Can I talk about situations from my leadership in a Jewish community organization, or should I leave those out? Should I dress differently, do my hair or makeup differently, etc. to try to look “more presentable”? Should I have started doing that back in February?) which can actually make you do worse in the interview because you’re trying to focus on all these tangential considerations instead of just trying to present the authentically best version of yourself.

    9. Observer*

      And I do wonder after a previous experience at my work, if my religion (Judaism) is in the mix as well.

      Your weight, age and religion are all playing in to this.

      Apply for the job. Talk to a lawyer, just to get the lay of the land.

      Document everything you can (ie requirements, qualifications, interactions past and present around your identity).

      Given the nature of your employer, they may have to answer questions about their hiring process, so if you get passed over for someone manifestly less qualified than you, you may have some recourse.

    10. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

      I think Sara Ahmed’s book “Complaint!” might be useful here – don’t know if you know it already.

      “In Complaint! Sara Ahmed examines what we can learn about power from those who complain about abuses of power. Drawing on oral and written testimonies from academics and students who have made complaints about harassment, bullying, and unequal working conditions at universities, Ahmed explores the gap between what is supposed to happen when complaints are made and what actually happens. To make complaints within institutions is to learn how they work and for whom they work: complaint as feminist pedagogy. Ahmed explores how complaints are made behind closed doors and how doors are often closed on those who complain. To open these doors—to get complaints through, keep them going, or keep them alive—Ahmed emphasizes, requires forming new kinds of collectives. This book offers a systematic analysis of the methods used to stop complaints and a powerful and poetic meditation on what complaints can be used to do. Following a long lineage of Black feminist and feminist of color critiques of the university, Ahmed delivers a timely consideration of how institutional change becomes possible and why it is necessary.”

  16. WhoaNonny*

    A team that works closely with my team in a similar, but not the same, area, makes a little bit less than my team does. I don’t have anything to do with setting pay for that group, nor does my team making more directly translate to their team making less–staffing decisions are made more holistically than just subgroups. I also don’t have anything to do with setting pay for MY group–it’s all done centrally and outside of writing job descriptions, we all have very little control over our employee’s pay.

    This other team is getting bitter about the discrepancy. They likely deserve a bit more money, particularly the ones who have been here a long time. But that doesn’t mean my employees deserve less, and the skill set is different and, frankly, I can easily see why on paper our jobs are set higher than theirs. That doesn’t mean that’s ultimately the right outcome, but I’m just saying it’s not an arbitrary difference. The leaders of the other group are perfectly capable of advocating for raises for their staff and they do that. You could honestly argue my staff are still on the lower end for what we expect of them, and I assume they are on the lookout for their next opportunity once they’ve gained enough experience here.

    I think some of the bitterness is directed at me as well, due to a recent promotion. I have a heavy workload and a lot of responsibilities, and I do it all well (not perfect, just saying I’m a high performer in a demanding role that I take pretty seriously). I am really not overpaid for everything I’m asked to do.

    Every time I post a job, the other side gets in a tizzy and it rasies resentment. The other side is welcome to apply to these jobs and I would consider them fairly, but they want THEIR jobs at MY jobs’ pay. There’s a customer-facing element several of them actively avoid, and our requirement for soft skills is higher.

    I’m just wondering if there’s anything I should do when resentment that is really about our larger organization comes out at me or my group–particularly for what I consider smaller pay differences, a few thousand dollars or a bit more in salary, as far as I know. I am just as disempowered as they are and I fail to see how I could change anything they’re dissatisfied with.

    1. NaoNao*

      Is there someone you could go to and have them work on transparency around job descriptions and how they correlate with pay–if that’s not already being done? A refresher on how the company calculates comp, raises, and benefits–and a detour into what “total rewards” means and how these other people might dip into their non cash bennies might help the least-grumbly ones.

      But people gonna peep, ya know? I find that catering to a complainer is like wrestling with a pig–only one of you leaves happy but both of you leave muddy.

      1. WhoaNonny*

        It’s a need in our area but no one in our area can do it, if that makes sense. I do think our director has been making headway in that area but in terms of a really transparent, organization-wide understanding of these kinds of benchmarks, it’s lacking. I agree it would really help a lot.

    2. KOALA*

      Are you overhearing they are upset or are they directly complaining to you?

      One suggestion would be to reiterate that just because you post the job and are part of the hiring decision doesn’t mean you set the salary for the role. They may just not understand that and assume you are paying your team more but even if they know it reiterating it might help.

      But also highlight any differences in the role, like the customer facing/extra soft skills that really do make what your team does a different role. That is probably where the salary disparity comes from and ultimately they have to weigh the benefit of extra salary with the role requiring elements they don’t like. I would suggest anytime someone says to you or you are within earshot of those complaints that you highlight those differences. Something simple like “You are very welcome to apply, the role does require more x,y,z than the current role so if that interests you please apply. Or reach out if you have any specific questions about the differences”

      Also can you meet with the other team leaders and make them aware that you are feeling this building resentment? They need to address that with their team because it’s not fair for them to take out their disappointment on you. Can you and the other team leads jointly advocate for more similarity in pay between the groups?

      1. WhoaNonny*

        They make passive-aggressive comments in larger meetings that are meant to land on me (they badger our director about it pretty openly) and I think there may be some hostility leaking through when my team members work with them.

        There’s not a lot I could jointly do with them–it wouldn’t surprise me if they ought to be paid a bit more but I don’t know the ins and outs of their jobs (or their performance) to really feel like I have firsthand expertise. One of them is so aggressive in approach with the people in charge of compensation that, frankly, I wouldn’t want to be grouped with them–I think they alienate people and don’t help their cause.

        I should probably just address the p-a comments directly. I have tried to do so indirectly in stating that I also would like transparency in compensation rules, etc., but I think there must be a fundamental problem where they don’t understand the work I do or my team does and discount it compared to their own. That kind of partnership and respect takes time and is much harder with this level of entrenched dissatisfaction.

        1. KOALA*

          I agree with addressing the comments directly. It could be that you question their comments in a way that forces them to make the statement or ask the question in a non p-a way and then you can address it head on. Or you can just summarize and say “It seems like you are dissatisfied with x and believe I have some part in how the salary is determined. That is handled and determined by x,y,z (persons departments and factors) and I don’t have input in that, or I have consistently given input in z-factor that aligns with your concerns but the final decision is made beyond my input. Please address your future concerns to the appropriate parties and continue to respect that me and my team are not your adversary. If they continued you might try an “of course” statement. Like “Of course you don’t mean to be taking out your frustrations on me/my team, but as we’ve discussed before I am not the one that can address these concerns so I/we would appreciate that these comments not be directed at me or our team going forward.

          1. WhoaNonny*

            You have very solid advice. I think I need to do some reflecting on why I’m so hesitant to just say this. Everything you’ve written is very direct and accurate. I’ve also heard them continue to badger our manager when she says similar (accurate) things to them so maybe I’m trying to shield myself from that.

            Thanks for your input. I’ll mull over why I’m hesitating so much on the idea of just stating it.

            1. WhoaNonny*

              Maybe it’s because I feel I’m being baited into saying something to give them an opening to even more directly badger me.

    3. Mr. Shark*

      Have you just talked to the managers of the other group? If this is becoming a problem, they need to address it internally within their group. Especially if it becomes enough of a distraction that it is causing problems with your interaction and working together to get the job done.

      1. WhoaNonny*

        The other managers are contributing to the complaining and seem to be stoking their own employees and feeding the conflict. Our manager who we all report to is addressing it with them privately but they are not really respecting her guidance or the work that she is doing to advocate for them at a higher level.

  17. Young At Heart*

    I work for a company with a couple of departments that tend to hire pretty young fresh out of school types. I’m in my early 30s and I’m basically ancient here. Every now and then we have to remind people that this is a job not school, but generally we don’t have any issues with such a young crowd. The demographics of this office leads to a lot of socialization outside of work. It’s not unusual to hear about groups of coworkers going to dinner or meeting up on the weekends.

    Recently we hired a new person I’ll call Otis. Otis was basically just looking for a stable job until he retires in a few years and we felt like he had a background that we could benefit from. Otis is a great guy, and he’s the definition of young at heart and an extrovert. Which means Otis is always trying to get social things going, but he’s not getting a lot of traction with the 20 something’s. To be clear he’s never excluded from happy hours or large hangs as far as I can tell, he just isn’t getting the smaller invites and no one is taking him up on his invites either. I get it. It’s weird to go to your coworkers house for dinner when he is technically like 2 steps below you on the ladder and his kids are older than you are.

    I can see that this is wearing on Otis. He’s clearly disappointed and I think taking it personally. I don’t think it is, it’s just a matter of people being at vastly different stages in their life.

    I’m not really a work socializer. I’m much more of an introvert/in bed by 8:30 type, so going out on a Tuesday an hour away from my house for an event that starts at 9 is just not something I’m going to do (and is an example of the type of things Otis suggests).

    Anyone out there have any thoughts on this? Should I talk to Otis? Should I talk to the group? I don’t really feel right doing either because I think it’s going to come off as either patronizing or as being critical/pushy about their personal time, which I’d like to avoid as I manage some of them.

    1. NaoNao*

      Any interest in a “working with all generations” optional course or series?

      I did a series on “attendance management” and one thing I talked about was what motivates people to *come to and stay at* work, and I highlighted the different roles people might play like “team historian” or “company wise owl”. I mention this because any chance Otis might find his satisfaction and social needs getting met with lunch and learns hosted by him, training sessions, office hours, and the like, rather than after-hours awkward dinner parties?

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

      Definitely do not push or even encourage your team to include Otis in social events. You are correct that it really isn’t your or anyone’s business! As for Otis, it may be a kindness just to let him know that people kind of do their own thing and not to take it personally. But then drop it, as it isn’t on you to manage your colleagues and reports’ social lives.

      1. Dovasary Balitang*

        Beg your pardon — the hinterlands is a shadow kingdom that can only sustain a provost or a denier.

        … Sorry, I had to.

    3. Anecdata*

      I’d stay out of it — this isn’t a work issue, unless eg. Otis’ team is doing everyone-but-otis hangouts, but it sounds like he is getting invited to those larger events.

      (Also — if I were Otis, I would be MORTIFIED if my boss talked to my colleagues about including me this way!!)

    4. Rosemary*

      Not your problem to solve, assuming Otis is not being left of the bigger team-wide activities. I once worked somewhere where I was one of only about 3 people in the company over the age of 40 (most were under 30; the founder was maybe 35). I was not typically included in social things beyond the broader team wide things…but unlike Otis, I did not care too much (different life stage, already have all the friends I need). I feel for Otis…but at the same time think it IS a bit odd that he is so eager to be so involved with the youngsters outside of work.

    5. Qwerty*

      You can only manage your own relationship with Otis. If you want someone to socialize with him, then invite him to something that you want to go to. Maybe coffee or a walk around the building for something low key or even just a 15min zoom chat if you’re remote/want space. This would be your opening to address the not hanging out “Hey Otis, I appreciate the invites but my schedule is pretty packed outside of work. Want to get coffee on Thursday to catch up instead?”

      When you turn down invites from Otis, it would be kind to give a little context on the next couple rejections:
      “Thanks for the invite, I don’t generally go out on week nights but have fun!” ( I call them school nights for an extra old-soul touch)
      “Thanks for thinking of me! I live an hour away so I’ll have to pass, tell me how it goes!”

      Just caught that you manage some of these folks – it would be very inappropriate to tell your reports they need to be friends. They have a right not to want to go out at 9pm on a Tuesday just as you do.

      1. Young at Heart*

        Oh yeah, I’ve let him know a couple of times that I don’t go out on school nights (which I 100% also use)

        I would never tell any of my reports to socialize with anyone! I realized after reading some of these responses that I should have clarified that I meant talking to my reports about keeping the “about last night” chatter to a minimum. It’s kind of like when you’re a kid and you go to a birthday party for another kid and your mom tells you you can’t talk about it at school because not everyone is invited.

  18. Sandwiches*

    Someone in another dept is leaving the company soon and I want their job. I want to ask their bosses what their plans are to replace this person but I keep stalling! Please send encouragement.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      The best and worst that will happen if you don’t ask is you don’t get the job. If you do ask, the worst that will happen will be the same. But the best that will happen is you do get the job. So go for it — that’s the way to get the possible best outcome.

    2. Anon Today*

      As someone who just left a job because I had another offer fall in my lap – please do ask! I feel bad about leaving my team so soon and given the current economy, I think a lot of people would rather make internal moves than an outside hire…

      1. Frankie*

        Yes, there’s nothing wrong with a simple expression of interest as long as you make it clear you’re not going to be offended if they don’t pursue it.

    3. Sandwiches*

      Update: I made the phone call! To make a long story short- I might not end up getting this specific job but I’m optimistic about potential future openings.

  19. Leia83*

    I’m applying for jobs and only have one reference – anyone have suggestions?

    I’ve been with my current company for 15 years. I’m looking to leave due to burnout – I’ve had to take on multiple roles as they refuse to backfill any position that is open right now. I’m the SME in my area and I cannot ask anyone who I currently work with to be a reference for me as I do not trust they won’t go to management and say “Leia is trying to leave what will we do she’s the only person that knows *assigned area*” I also don’t trust the people that have recently left as they all retired and framed it as a great opportunity for me to take on more work under the assumption I’d actually be promoted, I haven’t been. The reference I do have is a former coworker that I’ve been volunteering with a community program they lead for five years.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      How many managers have you worked with in your 15 years at this company, and how many of them have left (for another job or for retirement)? I know you said you don’t trust the people who have recently left, but (for example) if Jane managed you for your first 3 years at this company, and left for another job 7 years ago, you could reach out to her and ask her to be a reference.

      1. Leia83*

        Two former managers left however both are now at clients of my company. So they would be impacted by my leaving. I don’t think they’d say anything to my current manager but I do think I’d get push back “but you’re the only person that knows this stuff”

        1. Hlao-roo*

          Hmm, that’s tough. Are there any coworkers you worked with over the years who have left (and aren’t working for clients)? A coworker reference isn’t as strong as a manager reference, but it’s better than nothing.

    2. Anonymous Koala*

      If you’re an SME, do you know SMEs in the field but not at your company who could vouch for your qualifications, maybe from professional organisations or meetings?

    3. ecnaseener*

      What don’t you trust about the people who recently left – do you think they won’t give you a good reference because they threw you under the bus a bit? (I don’t see the connection there) Or that they’ll tell someone at your current company because they’ll be so disappointed to hear you didn’t get promoted?

    4. Frankie*

      I think you can explain at the interview stage what you’ve explained here to let them know why all your references won’t be super-current; I also think you may have to accept a level of risk in soliciting references that word could get around–but I would honestly approach those recent retirees or clients, tell them you’re “somewhat” looking and would appreciate a confidential reference “just in case”, etc. Or if you’re really unwilling to broach current colleagues, I’d do some legwork and join another volunteer effort or something to expand your network, and accept that it might take more time.

  20. Anonymous345*

    I work in public higher ed. We recently went through a titling project in which we received new titles that are consistent across the state. There are 4 titles in my series. I was put into the lowest one. I actually do the work of the 2nd highest title; however, I can’t use that title because it requires 2 FTE report to you. Recently, my supervisor requested that I get a raise and a title change to the next higher title. From what I’m being told, everyone who needs to approve of this is on board. However, HR said that because of the “promotional opportunity” and “impact on salary grade” the position needs to be posted for a full external recruitment. I asked why that’s required when two colleagues were recently made permanent in their interim positions with no job search. Those were promotions and surely had an impact on their salary grades. I was then told about an additional “underutilization” factor, which relates to the university’s affirmative action plan. However, based on this, there are other situations where the position should have been posted to allow underrepresented applicants an opportunity to apply, yet the position was filled internally by a non-underrepresented employee with no search. It seems like they are not applying the affirmative action plan consistently.

    I’m been given two options: 1) remain in my current title, but continue to do the work of a higher level role without the title or pay that should go along with it (surely this is also a violation of the affirmative action plan, as I fall under one of their categories of underrepresented individuals) or 2) pursue a more appropriate title that comes with a potential $400+ raise (my counterparts at other universities in our state make $7K+ more than me) but I’ll have to risk that someone else could be hired. My department has assured me they’ll fight if HR tries to force them to hire someone else, but I’m very frustrated that I even have to jump through these hopes. It seems like a very odd practice to have a position posted when it’s a title change and not filling a new or vacant position, especially when it was meant to remedy an inaccurate title assignment.

    1. Anonymous Koala*

      Sounds like classic government hiring BS. If I were you, I would do option 2, as it doesn’t sound like you have much to loose. Make sure your application materials exactly match what the posting is looking for – you can even go to the hiring manager, explain the situation, and ask them if they can tell you how the ad will be prioritised so you can structure your materials accordingly.

    2. SJ (they/them)*

      Where is HR getting these requirements from? Are you part of a union / is there a collective agreement involved? If so then definitely call up your union rep on this.

      Alternatively, does the affirmative action plan have any type of point person or contact outside of HR? Can you get a hold of the actual documents they’re referring to here so that you have the language and provisions right in front of you?

      Good luck, wishing you well on this.

      1. Artemesia*

        Maybe your boss needs to discuss this with HR in terms of ‘potential discrimination issue’ since people who are ‘not your characteristic’ have been promoted, made permanent without an external search but suddenly a person who is ‘your characteristic’ is being asked to put their job at risk to get a. promotion to the work they are already doing.

      2. ILoveCoffee*

        sometimes I think our HR (also higher ed) just makes up rules. We joke that they have a wheel they spin to provide answers because they seem to randomly apply rules no one has ever heard of on a semi regular basis and they often end up impacting hiring in a negative fashion

    3. Cordelia Vorkosigan*

      If it were me, I would go ahead an apply. It sounds like you have a very good chance at getting the job since everyone in your department is going into it with the idea that its already yours. And if you don’t get the job, you aren’t any worse off than you are now.

      Although, I have to say, if you don’t get the job, I would start seriously job searching.

      But yes, I agree — this kind of hiring practice is completely ridiculous and a waste of everyone’s time.

      1. JelloStapler*

        Yes, apply and also ask about your own position being re-classified. This may help with both sides of the coin. I’m sorry- sometimes Higher Ed HR does weird things.

      2. Anonymous345*

        If I apply for the job and don’t get it, I won’t have a job anymore. There isn’t a position being added. My supervisor requested that the title for my position be changed to accurately reflect the level of work I do and equal opportunity came back and said the only way that can happen is if the position is posted and then I’ll need to apply for it. Once that position is then filled, my current position will no longer exist. So if I don’t get hired into that position, I will no longer have a job.

        1. Mr. Shark*

          Wow, that is incredibly stupid and horrible for you. But I think it’s worth it to try it since you have the experience and are perfect for the new position. I’m not quite sure how they just, what, fire you, because you didn’t get the new position? That seems crazy.
          But if you don’t go for the new position, then someone else gets it, right, and you still have your current job? That makes no sense.

          You don’t seem to be happy in current job at current pay, and it sounds like you could get something better somewhere else if you don’t get newposition, so it’s probably the right thing to apply for it. Good luck!

    4. cardigarden*

      Is there a different mechanism to get your position reclassified vs applying to a new position? I was in a similar boat (but was able to take advantage of a covid loophole to move into a new position), and now my boss is working to get my new position reclassified to what it’s supposed to be and that bypasses the external search process.

    5. Prospect Gone Bad*

      So you do the work of 2 levels up (well, not really, if it requires a team) and you only want a bump up?

      Seems reasonable.

      Why is your boss framing this as a promotion and not simply a “hey you guys mistakenly re-classified this person into the low category, please fix.”

      Why is this not just being treated as a mistake? Boss needs to push back and reframe the issue

    6. AllTooFamiliar*

      Higher Ed has a bunch of bullshit for what gives people promotions and my experience is that they seem to pick and choose when to apply these “rules”. Alos, I’ve been there with doing the higher work without the pay that goes with it.

    7. Frankie*

      Just pursue the promotional path. Internal candidates have such a leg up–take the process seriously but don’t lose sleep over some magic external candidate because even a supposed superstar isn’t currently successfully doing the job, which you are.

      (HR can’t really force anyone to hire a particular candidate, nor do they really want to; they can push you to interview a particular candidate, though).

      Apply for the promo, take it seriously, and work through the process you’re given to get the pay and title you deserve. And if that doesn’t work out, there’s something else going on that people aren’t spelling out to you, and you should move on.

    8. Erin the Librarian*

      Hello friend! I am quite sure we work in the same state system. I just wanted to chime in to say, you’re right, this sucks royally and I’m sorry you’re being treated this way. I was a shared governance leader and we fought like hell about this stuff but there was nothing to be done.

  21. Just a teacher*

    So, I am a teacher finishing up my doctorate and starting to look for a university job. I have found one that fits my expertise and I would be super excited about BUT I actually interviewed and received an offer for a classroom position at their “model school” on the university campus LAST YEAR and declined because of low pay and no room for advancement. We had a long conversation about whether or not I would have the opportunity to add on responsibilities at the university and they said they just couldn’t be sure when or if that would happen.

    WELLLLL here we are exactly one year later and an assistant professor position has opened up. I went ahead and applied but I am so worried that I am going to have burned a bridge. I know the department chair personally, so should I reach out and explain that this is more inline with what I was looking for? Do I just pretend like it never happened? What if they never call me for an interview because I passed on the last job?

    HELP!

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      Unless you were rude during the negotiation/offer declining stage, I cannot see why a bridge would be burnt. It wasn’t a fit for what you were looking for at the time, but this new role is. I would absolutely reach out to the department chair. Reiterate how much you enjoyed getting to meet everyone during the last interview process, how you were mutually bummed it didn’t work out, but how excited you are for this new opening that more closely aligns to your professional goals. Good luck!

    2. Alan*

      What’s the best that can happen? You get the type of job you wanted.
      What’s the worst that can happen? They say no.

      It sounds like a no-brainer to go for it.

  22. Anonymous Koala*

    I’m training a bunch of new hires who all have the same title but different backgrounds: some graduated with a BS 20 years ago and worked in the field, some are fresh PhDs. We’re running into a bit of a general knowledge barrier because the two groups have totally different frames of reference and knowledge bases, and getting both groups to speak the same language is a bit like herding cats. For example, this morning I was in a meeting where a new grad was trying to explain the meaning of a predatory journal to a group of senior colleagues, many of whom have never heard of peer-review. It was clear that everyone involved was frustrated. Does anyone have any advice for helping these two groups work together more effectively?

    1. Barbarella*

      Peer review has been around for way longer than 20 years. If a senior colleague is not familiar with it, there is something more going on than how long ago they graduated. I realize that is just one of what is probably a myriad of different pieces of knowledge, but I would first take a step back and examine my own beliefs about what is driving the friction.

      Do some observing. Are some people’s explanations of new concepts better than others? See if you can coach the rest of the group on what those people do right. Are some people less receptive to new concepts than others? Try coaching them out of that resistance.

      New teams take a while to settle in. Accept a certain level of friction while you try to coach them through the growing pains.

      1. Anonymous Koala*

        This is good advice, thanks. Part of our problem is that our director hired people with vastly different experiences in an attempt to get a broad knowledge base, with the idea that we could train them in the specific work that we do. So we have people with no research experience who have never read a professional journal with a ton of practical experience in our field (but none in our specific niche), and new PhDs who have never done any kind of fieldwork but have a ton of research and broad theoretical background.

        I think part of the problem is resistance, not just communication – the two groups definitely think and prioritize in different ways. I’ll have to think about how to coach that.

        1. Isben Takes Tea*

          I think a key question is: Is this truly a knowledge problem? or is it an attitude problem? Are there any kind of feelings/tones of resentment/disdain between the groups?

          Does everyone know the director’s purpose? Establishing the value that everyone’s experience is expected to bring to the table will be key to avoiding the “how could you not know this?!” reaction.

          In my experience, it’s more about getting buy-in for a set of goals/values about mutual continuous improvement and being open to feedback and changing your mind. That’s company culture, and it has to come from the top, because it has to come with a willingness to let people go who aren’t on board with it.

          You may not have the power to do that for the team as a whole, but fundamentally, if those values aren’t acknowledged or shared by everyone, the director’s vision is probably not going to come to fruition, no matter how many glossaries you make.

          I wish you the best of luck!

          1. Anonymous Koala*

            I think this is key:

            “Establishing the value that everyone’s experience is expected to bring to the table will be key to avoiding the “how could you not know this?!” reaction.”

            I’m not sure how to accomplish this, beyond reiterating the company vision and explaining how each person’s experience fits within our larger goal. You’re right that it’s really about company culture, and my power to change that at my level is quite limited.

            1. Barbarella*

              But you *do* have the power to establish team culture, and that’s where coaching of individuals comes in.

              1. AnonyAnony*

                I agree with Barbarella. This sounds a bit cheesy but company culture is build and changed one interaction at a time. You may not have a lot of structural/hierarchical power at your level but you have a lot of relational power as the trainer of this group.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      Can you have them create a glossary together to explain terms? I think it would be a helpful reference for everyone.

      1. Anonymous Koala*

        We have started working on a glossary :) It is helpful, but I feel like it just scratched the surface of the larger communication issue.

    3. Warrior Princess Xena*

      It sounds like you have two linked problems:

      1. You have a whole bunch of people who each know part of the total goal but are unfamiliar with the terms of the other part.
      2. Because they are unfamiliar, they are struggling to assign value to their colleagues experiences.

      I’d say that you could try 2 linked goals.

      1. Chat with your team and get an impression of what everyone feels a baseline level of knowledge is. IE, peer review is a pretty important step in research but looks very different in industry. Then put together a series of quick briefings/trainings on getting to a cohesive knowledge base. I’m thinking 15 minutes.
      2. Have a number of individuals from your team who are good at teaching help you with the trainings. If you could equally select people from both the new grads group and the experienced veterans group as ‘topic experts’ that are helping you, that might help bring across the idea that everyone is really bringing valuable info to the table and give both groups a chance to be heard.

      But I’d also keep an eye on folks to make sure that biases are being kept down – age biases on both sides, experience vs higher ed, and any potential demographic biases might be contributing, even unconsciously, and its good to keep an eye out for potential trouble patterns.

      1. Mr. Shark*

        Yes to all of this. I think cross-training is the key here, because you do have two different groups with different expertise. You have have “lunch and learn” type sessions in which one person covers a topic that may not be familiar to the other group, and then turn it around so that the knowledge is shared between the two groups and they all get an idea of he knowledge-base of the other group.

  23. Hei Hei, the Chicken from Moana*

    New staff incoming, yay! Please tell me some onboarding/welcoming things we should be considering. We don’t have a strong onboarding program and I’ve been here so long, a lot is just second nature to me but that’s not the way to teach anyone! Appreciate any thoughts.

    1. NaoNao*

      Oh I am all over this! If there’s any time, try to build some clear objectives. Some possibles might be “give our new hire the tools and information to be successful in their first X days” and “create a welcoming and inclusive new hire experience”.

      Checklists! Make sure the new hire knows where all the key office spots are, how to get help, and what all the equipment on their desk is–give them a copy of this checklist too.

      If you can avoid “butts in seats death by powerpoint” where you wax honorific about Jethro T. Budweiser and the entire history of the company and how amaaaaaazing the all-white all over 50 all male ELT is and go into painful detail about the C-suite structure with “eye chart” slides that will help a lot too :)

      The focus should be to give them just enough information that they feel “yep, I made the right choice to come work here”. Focus on benefits, total rewards, perks, culture, and walking the walk of the values and strategy–not policies and compliance.

      A team lunch (or coffee if you’re too busy or it’s not feasible) is also a great cherry on the sundae.

      1. Hei Hei, the Chicken from Moana*

        That powerpoint on Mr. Budweiser is EXCELLENT, I’ll have you know! ;)

        We have a department lunch scheduled for our two new hires’ first day. We are fully remote so we are coming into the office on their first day. So, yay, got one thing down! These are all fantastic; thank you!

      2. fudgebrowniemix*

        There are plenty of white males over 50 who don’t deserve scorn. Could we just not do that? Good lord…

    2. londonedit*

      Make sure you have some way of introducing them to the existing staff (and vice versa!) soon after they arrive. It’s weird being the new person and especially weird when no one really knows who you are! And it’s also frustrating being the new person and having no idea who anyone else is. It’s nice to walk around with a new person/new people on their first day and introduce them (or set up a video call with their immediate team to welcome them) so that everyone can put faces to names.

      1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        At OldJob we were assigned a “ambassador” which was essentially someone to be your pal for the first few months, and it was to be someone outside your immediate team. They’d check in every week to see how it was going, introduce you around, have lunch with you if you wanted to. Being an ambassador was voluntary, so no one was paired with a new hire if they didn’t want to. It was very helpful and nice to talk with a peer who wasn’t on your team and learn some of the culture and soft knowledge of the company.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Give people a list of who’s who and what they do. I’ve had bosses do this for me and it was IMMENSELY helpful. At my last job, where we were all remote, my boss set up 30-minute chats with people in different areas and I got to meet so many people in the company, just talking about what they do. It was a great way to figure out who to go to for different issues.

      1. Anonymous Koala*

        Along these lines, give people a list of common company acronyms / jargon so they’re not too lost when people start discussing the TPS reports, etc. I still use the one my boss gave me 1+ year ago :)

      2. Mr. Shark*

        yes. I find it amazing that even at my company, it’s not always clear who has what position and how to find an recent org chart so you know who to go to for a specific question. Things change so quickly, but it makes sense to have that information available for on-boarding or presentations to customers.

        No new person should have to ask 10 different people how to find something or who is in charge of what. It should be simple and straightforward as possible.

    4. Nonbinary Pal*

      Definitely daily check-ins for the first week at least, and regular check-ins for a while after that. It’s so stressful to be new and feel like you’re supposed to just like absorb info and accomplish things!!

      Also don’t try to do a big giant infodump, it’s exhausting and people don’t retain what you’re trying to teach them. For necessary trainings make sure you initiate breaks every 20-30 mins (ie don’t ask the new hire if they need a break, because they probably won’t feel like they can say yes).

    5. Hlao-roo*

      On the logistics side of things:

      – Taking the new hire (and the team) out to lunch on the first day is a good welcoming gesture (if people are comfortable eating in restaurants)

      – If you can assign a “buddy” or “point person” for the new hire to ask questions to for the first month or so while they’re getting their bearings (questions like “where does Lucinda sit?” “how do I log into the TPS database?”), that can be helpful. Even if the person ends up mostly end up answering “I don’t know, but Fergus is the person to ask about XYZ”

      And one small thing that can make a big difference is: forward any/all useful bookmarks you have! Internal sharepoints, websites that your team often references, etc.

      1. Tio*

        We assign each new person a “peer advisor” whose job it is to answer all the random, general questions. It’s worked great

    6. rayray*

      One thing that has frustrated me at every job I’ve ever had is the terrible onboarding/training.

      Thorough training and explaining how things work in your workplace would be great. I find that very often many things are just assumed, when I’d have no way of knowing. Make sure you explain basic workplace policies, for example, how do breaks work? Should the employee say something before taking a break, or can they simply just get up and take that break? Sometimes it’s the most simple things like that where new employees might be used to how things were at their former workplaces, but it could be different at this one.

      Do what you can to make them feel comfortable asking questions, every job I have ever had has missed details in training and sometimes they handle mistakes or misunderstandings kindly, other times not so much. It’s hard to start a new job, and getting yelled at over small mistakes when you’re brand new can be tough. Not saying you would yell at anyone, but it definitely happens.

      Try to think of how you would want to be treated if you were in a brand new place and what you would need to know. See what others on your team would contribute with that in mind.

    7. Isben Takes Tea*

      – Definitely checklists, especially “First Day” and “End of First Week” checklists that cover basic HR and office stuff in addition to any team stuff they need to do, like tool logins and trainings, that includes who they should go to with questions or problems for each task.

      – A simple writeup about tips for company communication culture. I’m part of the onboarding process for a sales team, and I have a quick login and tools check-in everyone’s second day to make sure they can access all the tools they need. I take that opportunity to go over established Company Culture things, such as how we encourage everyone to tag individuals in public channels on Slack over DMs wherever possible. If you need a meeting with someone, do you need to ping them first, or should you just find a free time on their calendar? Is it expected that you keep your GCal up-to-date with working hours and out of office days?

      – If they have questions, who should they go to? Is there any information stored anywhere, such as an internal wiki? How do they navigate it?

      – Does each team lead have a checklist of what they need to do or cover with a new team member? Such as adding them to particular Slack channels or Google groups or shared inboxes or recurring meetings?

      – If you have an office, a list of nearby restaurants or parks or places to take lunch breaks can be a thoughtful touch.

    8. DisneyChannelThis*

      PTO – who do you talk to about using it, is it a ask or inform culture, how do you record your hours (ie do you need to clock in, if you are 10min late do you stay 10min over or no biggie); if you get a flat on the way to work who do you inform and how (text, email, call)

      Physically where are the bathrooms ; breakroom; vending machines; refill water bottle; fire exits;

      Do you give office supplies, where are those located

      Is there dresscode/dress level;

      How do you unlock doors – keycard, etc. do they also need name badge

    9. Qwerty*

      Assign them a mentor or onboarding buddy that they can send all their misc questions and challenges to. That person should be checking in them with them frequently at first and then tapering off as well as introducing them to various people. It’s a little like having an assigned friend, but there’s a ton of stuff that feels too silly to ask the manager about.

      1. Pine Tree*

        Seconding the onboarding mentor/buddy suggestion. It’s great for those unspoken and unwritten norms of the office, too. Like, “everyone is late to the Tuesday standing meeting, but it’s super important to be on time for the Weds meeting.” Or “the grants and contracts person is super gruff sounding but very helpful! Don’t let the grumpiness worry you.”

    10. ecnaseener*

      Make it explicit who they should go to for different types of questions (or even if they should go you for all questions, say that). Being the new person is an awkward situation and little social mistakes feel extra embarrassing – anything you can do to reduce the guesswork is a kindness.

    11. Beth*

      Have essential stuff printed out.

      Be sure to cover: essential locations (the bathroom, the break room, the coffeemaker, the snack machines, the manager’s desk, the office supplies closet), and safety (the emergency exit, the fire extinguisher, the first aid kit).

      Include a quick list of essential policy information: when does insurance kick in? When can time off be taken? Who approves time off? When and how will you get your paycheck? Don’t just hand the new hire a copy of the company handbook.

      I’m sure this all seems obvious, but the last onboarding at my current office was a fustercluck and sooo much got missed.

    12. Alex*

      Give them a staff directory with full names and contact info, along with job titles. Highlight for them people with whom they will be working closely, and in what capacity.

      After setting them up with their staff accounts/email, etc., show them if there is any particular style they should use in their email signatures, and if email is going to be a big part of their job, give them examples of communications they will be seeing. This can help with the “vibe” of the company so that they feel like they know how people communicate with each other.

      If there are unwritten rules about slack vs email vs phone call vs meetings, give them a sense of that.

      Show them organizational systems that people use. Let them know where they can customize things to their liking vs. having to do things a certain way.

      Show them how to sign up for benefits and point them to a person who can answer benefits questions for them.

      If there are rules about when to take lunch/breaks, let them know. If there aren’t any particular rules, let them know that too. If there is a cultural expectation that everyone goes out/eats lunch together or separately, or if everyone eats in the break room, or at their desk, or what have you, let them know.

      If there are cultural expectations about closed/open doors, headphones, kitchen use, impromptu questions, etc., explain them.

      Let them know how to call in sick and request vacation days. If they are expected to respond to email outside of work hours, be clear about that (and if they are nonexempt, make sure they know that they must be paid for ALL work, including email).

      If they will ever need to use mail or shipping, show them how to do that.

      If they deal with customers/clients, give them a script to use with them when they don’t know the answer to something.

      Be clear about what equipment/supplies are provided, where it is kept, or how to request replenishment. If they are allowed to purchase supplies that they need/want and be reimbursed, let them know how to do that.

      And of course, show them where the restrooms are!

  24. Yet another librarian*

    I am looking to find a job out of state. Many of the postings ask for experience as a manager in a union environment. I do not have that experience. I have been a director for 13 years but live in a state with little union presence. What skills are they looking for? Are there other ways I can demonstrate comparable skills?

    1. E*

      Dealing with the collective bargaining process, disciplinary rights, grievance and mediation structures, compensation structure, requirements around hiring off lists/ promoting based on seniority rather than merit, etc. when employees are unionized really is a very different management environment, so it might be that they genuinely want someone with that experience. That said, you could try to play up that you’re quick to learn and adhere to policies and work within established systems. If you can say anything about how you would or have approached effective management without the tools managers normally have at their disposal (raises, firing, hiring who you want to, etc.), that might be helpful

      1. Yet another librarian*

        Thank you. I can see how I can demonstrate competency in some skills. We have our own complex policies and procedures that reduce the tools at my disposal. If I decide to pursue any of the positions, I will have to think about how to frame relevant experience and demonstrate the ability to operate in the environment. But sounds like they might be long shots.
        I want to get out of my deep red state, which is growing more conservative.

  25. Excel-sior*

    Due to a few members of my team moving to greener pastures over the last few months, for the first time in my career i find myself to be the senior member in our team. Quite an exciting development, but I’m a bit nervous about now being one of the people will come to for advice rather than being the one asking. I am not particularly great at showing people what to do, especially things that I’ve only just taken on myself. So, we’ll see how it goes.

    1. SJ (they/them)*

      Good luck!! I bet you’ll do great. Being self-aware about what does and doesn’t come naturally to you is itself a super useful skill for helping/training others, so you’ve already got a leg up there. :)

      1. Excel-sior*

        Thanks. I know it’s not a particularly big change – no promotion or anything like that – but it’s still something a little different for me to get used to.

    2. JelloStapler*

      I bet you are better than you think! Just keep asking questions like “Is this helping or do you need a different way to understand it” (paraphrased). You can say “I am learning it too- I’ll share what I know so far”.

      The biggest thing will be welcoming the questions and people asking.

      1. Excel-sior*

        Thats a really good point, thanks :) i think of i keep remembering to ask questions like that, rather than just trying to power through to get it over with, it’ll be a happier experience for everyone. Just need to remember to ask.

    3. Mr. Shark*

      You’ll do great! I think it’s easy to forget how much a person knows compared to someone coming into a team/company brand new. You probably have a lot more knowledge than you realize, and it’s so ingrained in your brain, that you don’t even notice it.
      I find that is the case myself when I think I’m at the bottom of the knowledge pool, but then a new person comes in and I have a ton of information to provide to them.
      You got this!

  26. Oh def anon for this*

    Anyone ever find out that your employer has issues with serious labor law violations (in this instance child labor in a highly dangerous industrial facility). That’s automatic grounds for leaving, right? Is it sketchy to make sure you have a new job lined up first even if you could dig into emergency savings between jobs? How do you talk about why you left with future interviewers? Sincerely pretty upset about this and my coworkers basically shrugging about it is making me doubt my sanity.

    1. Alex*

      It is never sketchy to protect your livelihood! I don’t even think it is automatic grounds for leaving. Can you instead report this violation to the department of labor? That would be far more effective, especially if you are already so upset you are thinking of quitting without another job.

      1. Nonbinary Pal*

        I found out bc the violations were in the news, and while the issue is nominally resolved there has been no internal communication about it and given other aspects of the company culture I am not confident that this level of ethical malfeasance is a one-off.

        1. NotRealAnonforThis*

          Given the broad scope of the violations that I most recently remember, I’d have to agree and nope the heck out.

      2. ferrina*

        Agree- report this to the department of labor.
        You can leave for any reason- when asked about it in interviews, just state factually that you left when you learned your previous employer wasn’t complying with certain legal regulations, and you obviously want an employer that will. Try to make it as boring as possible- in an interview, you want to be remembered as That Skilled/Smart/Easy-to-work-with Person, not Person Who Had Drama (even if it is 100% the old company’s fault.
        That said, if you need to stay because you can’t afford to leave, you can do that while trying to get out.

    2. SJ (they/them)*

      oh yiiiiiiiiiiikes. My two cents on this are:

      1) yeah, yes, I’d say so
      2) No, it’s not sketchy to wait until you have a new job lined up. You going hungry isn’t going to help anyone, and you might need those emergency savings for later. Trust your heart on this of course, but we live in a capitalist hellscape and none of this is your fault. You could donate some of your paycheck to an anti-child-labor organization in the meantime, if that helped you feel more at ease.
      3) Allison always says, if you’ve been at an employer / in a role more than a couple years, just use the ‘ready for a new challenge’ line regardless of the real reason. If that doesn’t apply here then you’d have to come up with something else, ideally something about the new employer you’re interested in like “I wasn’t actively looking, but saw this role and decided to throw my hat in the ring because of [whatever specific reason]”
      4) It’s so hard when something awful is happening and people around you seem not to be affected as much, or at all. I am sending virtual hugs and support your way.

        1. different seudonym*

          Dude, the reference is to children working in meat-packing. Literally Upton Sinclair’s _The Jungle_. Recommend you learn a bit about the nature of reality before questioning others’ perspectives.

        2. Ginger Cat Lady*

          Not to me. Not to lots of people. Not to the poor children working in the industrial plant so that the bigwigs could get MORE PROFIT!
          If you don’t see the hellscape that’s because you’re benefiting from it.

        3. Chirpy*

          If it’s the company most recently in the news, it’s kids as young as 13 cleaning meat saws overnight, across multiple states. That entire sentence is against child labor laws. Sounds like a hellscape to me.

          1. NotRealAnonforThis*

            It says NOTHING good and emphasizes “hellscape” that I’ve found TWO entirely separate news happenings about this that are dated within the past nine months, and both are multi-state issues, in entirely different industries (automotive components and food packing).

    3. Hlao-roo*

      Agree with Alex to report this to your state department of labor or whatever the appropriate authority is. It’s OK to stay at this job while you’re searching to protect your livelihood, and it’s also OK to leave now if you can’t stomach being in an unsafe (for others if not for you) environment.

      As for job interviews, if you stay at this job while you’re searching, I think a bland “looking for new projects/room to grow/etc.” is perfectly fine if it’s true enough (if you’ve been at the current place for 5+ years). If you leave right away, or if you’ve only been at the current place for a few months, I think it’s OK to mention that you are leaving/left because the safety culture was lacking and that should be a good segue into discussion the interviewing company’s safety culture.

      1. WellRed*

        If it’s been in the news (I wonder if it’s the national story I heard) I would assume it’s already known to the authorities.

    4. RagingADHD*

      It is not sketchy to make sure you have an income.

      If you feel strongly that you’d rather walk out immediately, and you can afford to do that, then that is a valid choice. Using current employment to make you a better candidate for a new employer (and maintain your livelihood) is also a valid choice.

      If you know about this violation for a fact, I don’t see anything wrong with telling an interviewer about it. Of course, if it isn’t already being investigated then the first people you tell should be regulators.

      “Don’t badmouth past employers” refers to personal grievances or complaints that could reflect badly on you or make you look like the problem. If you want to leave because your employer is doing blatantly illegal things, that’s hardly a bad reflection on you.

    5. different seudonym*

      IME co-workers are really effing good at avoiding moral analysis of the workplace, unless/until they have some sense of solidarity with one another and disidentification with the employer. That’s the real reason behind anti union practices and cultures: they prevent dissent by eliminating trust.

      As others have said, you are not wrong to seek security. I think getting out when you’re ready and able, and meanwhile supporting those who oppose such abuse, either financially or as a volunteer, is a good plan. You can also call your elected representatives.

    6. Reba*

      Ugh, what a horrible situation.

      If you are interviewing in the same region, people will know about it and I think you can succinctly, cautiously, indicate something like “after the plant was in the news, I really felt it was time for me to move on.” You have to feel this out case by case, but I think it’s worth alluding to it because this is an important values issue to you, and getting a sense of the interviewer’s reaction to it might be useful.

    7. Exme*

      I think the vaguer the better to keep the interview’s focus on you and your fit. Looking for new opportunities, etc.
      But if the name of the company that you use on your resume has made it in to the news, also be prepared on the small chance an interviewer will recognize and connect it to the news story. If they bring it up, I’d go for a short explanation that you started making moves to leave after you learned about it.

    8. Alan*

      I would never leave a job without having another one lined up. Although some people are getting new positions relatively quickly, others are taking a very long time to find something. You can’t assume your emergency savings will last.

      As far as what you would tell interviewers, honesty is a great resource for you here. Tell them you heard on the news that they were violating child labor laws by having kids work in highly dangerous positions, and you cannot work for an organization like that. With the exception of other companies who do the same thing, I cannot think of a single person who would hold this against you.

  27. stuck*

    Does anyone else feel compelled to/wish they could hit reset on their career regularly? I’ve been out of university for ten years now and I’m still having a hard time getting used to not getting a reset button every semester.

    I never finished a semester and thought “Yay, I did so well I can’t wait to build on it!” I always felt embarrassed by something I’d done badly and excited to never have to see the prof again.

    At the beginning of my career I worked a lot of short-term contracts. I did okay, and learned a lot at each one (and made a lot of embarrassing mistakes) and other than having to move a lot I was thrilled to get a chance to start over at the next contract job.

    Now I have a job in a bit of a specialized position in a small city. I realistically won’t get many chances to move to new jobs without moving cities, which my husband understandably doesn’t want to do just so that I can put small mistakes behind me. I’m doing fine at my job, getting good reviews, etc. etc. but I started off on the wrong foot for various reasons and I’m obsessed with getting a do-over at the next place. And no, I don’t think that everything will be perfect there – but I feel like I can make new mistakes and maybe do a bit better again. The thought of being stuck at this job for years to come is really making me sad.

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

      I think it is very normal to feel off at a new job for a while. I was convinced I would be fired from my last job a few months in, but I ended up being a valuable asset to that company and they were very sad when I resigned four years later. I am two months into a new job and also feel like I have made some missteps- nothing major, and I haven’t been talked to about them by my supervisors at all! But I keep thinking how I wished I had done some things differently. That is all part of the adjustment period, though. And you are right that you won’t be perfect at the next place either… because nothing is ever perfect! I do wonder if it is worth reflecting on why you feel so embarrassed by past mistakes with a trusted friend, family member, or therapist. That may help you move on from this pattern. Hang in there- you got this!

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

      I think it is very normal to feel off at a new job, and maybe even that you keep messing up. I was convinced I would be fired from my last job. I ended up being a very valuable asset to them, and they were quite upset when I resigned four years later. I am two months into my most recent job, and I definitely have made some missteps that I wish I could go back to. Mind you, no one has corrected me (besides minor guidance) and my supervisors haven’t talked to me about it. We are always our own harshest critics. You may just need some time to settle in. I do wonder if it’s worth exploring why you feel so embarrassed and it sounds ashamed by past mistakes with someone you trust. You got this- good luck!

    3. There's a G&T with my name on it*

      I don’t want to come across as mean, but it does feel like you’ve got a touch of the “grass is greener” going on. We all make mistakes, some more egregious than others, but hopefully we learn from them. I think it’s better to stick it out for a bit, constantly strive to improve, prove that you’re more than that first impression, and try not to dwell on too much what-if-ery. Good luck, whatever happens!

    4. JelloStapler*

      Sometimes yes- especially since there are majors and professions that were not “a thing” back when I was in college. To be fair what I do now wasn’t really a thing either, but still.

    5. SofiaDeo*

      I think you have a really strong work ethic, to be concerned with/thinking about “things I could have done better” a lot of the time. To me, having these types of thoughts indicates you are conscientious and always trying to do better. Can you try to view how these are actual normal, positive things for a good contributor to think about occasionally? And stop being so hard on yourself, mistakes happen and are only embarrassing if they are a constant pattern and the person doing them is self-clueless. It’s the people who are oblivious and don’t think, that are the people who are awful to work with/for.

      IMO just because you didn’t start as perfectly/seamlessly as you wanted to, doesn’t mean you “got off on the wrong foot.” I think you are being needlessly hard and critical of yourself. Everyone has regrets of some sorts, mistakes they wish they could have avoided, even glaringly obvious ones in hindsight. Reviewing these occasionally in the spirit of ” I am going to try to avoid these in future” is how I learned to stop making them! So some introspection is normal, healthy, and wise; please don’t beat yourself up about it. Not everyone guesses/susses out “the exact correct thing to do” in new situations 100% of the time. What’s important is that you learn and grow from any actual mistakes. I think you are having a bit of “imposter syndrome” and it’s tough to deal with, I hope you get it under control soon so you can *enjoy* the challenges of your job, and feel great satisfaction for the 99% of the time things go well. Instead of worrying about the 1% that bobbles.

    6. Morgan Proctor*

      It’s normal to feel embarrassed about making a mistake, but what you’re describing — a seemingly life-long pattern of almost debilitating shame over small things that other people probably don’t even remember — is not normal. You are, in your own words, obsessing over small things that no one else is, as evidenced by your good reviews. Honestly, this is worth talking over with a mental health professional.

    7. Anna Greenways*

      You’ve had many do-overs already. It hasn’t changed the way you think about this. If you move jobs again, it won’t be any different. You’ll find something else to obsess over that will make you want to repeat this pattern all over again. Because this isn’t about the jobs, it’s about an unhealthy mental pattern that you are trapped in. That’s what’s making you sad.

      But it doesn’t have to be that way. Your brain can learn new patterns and strategies to overcome these unhelpful thoughts. Please consider finding a mental health professional who can assist you in finding a better way forward. You deserve to be able to love your life without repeating this endless cycle of dissatisfaction.

  28. Free Meerkats*

    Retirement is rapidly approaching (35 days to official retirement, 27 to final work day) and I’m freaking out just a bit. I look around my office and think, “What am I going to do with all this stuff?” I look at my daily routine and wonder how I’m going to adjust to not having one. I look at money and think about the 25% reduction in gross plus paying for my own healthcare (I’m in a better position than most because I have a defined benefit retirement system. Add that to SS and I’m not taking he normal huge reduction that most people have.) Will I get all the unsubscriptions from all the mailists I’m on done before I leave?

    That said, I’m pretty healthy for my age, my spouse is relatively healthy, we only have a mortgage and one car payment with no other debt. I’m embarking on a new phase of life. I’m leaving my career with the program I manage in good shape with a new manager who I feel will do right by it and the team I have put together.

    1. Paris Geller*

      If you find yourself floundering without a daily routine (which some people need, and some people don’t mind not having!), you could always look into something very, very part-time or ongoing volunteer work. I’m decades from retirement but my family saw this with my dad–he mostly loved being retired, but he needed at least a little routine. Now he works on Fridays at a very part-time job and volunteers at a food bank Wednesday mornings and the rest of the time is his own, and he loves it! It’s just enough to give him some structure and make sure he’s getting out of the house in a healthy way while still giving him a ton of free time for his personal projects.

    2. Admin of Sys*

      Give yourself time to adjust! Everyone i know who has retired has taken at least 6 months to even start to settle. Treat the first month as a vacation, and then figure out what you want your new routine to look like – travel, learning opportunities, hobbies, whatever.

    3. Trina*

      This was an “ask the readers” post a few years ago! I will pop the link in a new comment, or you can search “what do I do once I retire”

    4. Alan*

      Congrats on making it this far. I’m at least four years away; I can’t imagine being a month away.

      I’m going to put in a shameless plug here. As a long-time volunteer and board member for pet rescues, almost every pet rescue facility out there could use volunteers, especially retirees with flexible availability. Even if it’s just to come in and socialize/play with the animals. Just saying’.

    5. Loves libraries*

      My husband retires at the end of March. He really needs to decompress from a workplace that has made him miserable for the last 18 months. He too is getting a pension. I’m sure after 2 months he will drive me a bit bonkers and he will try something new.

  29. E*

    I am sure this has come up many times before, but seeking strategies on dealing with a colleague I really dislike. For context, We are peers, both part of the senior management structure, and report to the same supervisor. Supervisor is aware of and agrees colleague is problematic, but grandboss wants to keep this colleague for Reasons. So we are stuck and I just need to suck it up and find ways to deal.
    Interpersonally I don’t enjoy her but my main issues with her are about work: she’s not very effective, inefficient, and has confusing communications. I feel she tries to micromanage my work even though we are peers. For example, she oversees operations and I – among other things – oversee communications. She recently started an email thread with 7 people on it to question why I opened a work Zoom account and authorized our Comms person to create a generic project email, even though these had been previously discussed and cleared (and are questions wayyyy below any of our paygrades). I tried to nip it in bud, understand where she was coming from, set up a call after our boss is around to resolve together, etc. but she keeps emailing me about it.
    We are all remote and theoretically our workstreams shouldn’t overlap much, and I try to distance myself as much as possible, but she keeps appearing in my inbox in irritating and time-consuming ways. Because she copies many people on it and the chains start to snowball, I don’t think I can fully ignore. Our boss is helpful in stepping in and putting the kabosh when she’s available, but she has a lot on her plate and I’d like to find more effective ways of dealing myself /not losing my mind every time this person emails me.

    Complaining to my partner and another colleague who dislikes her helps me laugh about it, but I don’t always want to be venting to them. Any advice on getting someone irksome to take up less brainspace?

    1. Elle*

      You’ve come to the right place because a number of us have had this problem! Have you tired talking to this person about what they’re doing one on one? I’ve done it and gave very specific examples of how what they’re doing is a problem. I talked to them right after an offending thing happened. I let my boss know I was doing it. It seemed to resolve the issue for the most part. My coworker has their moments but it’s gotten much better.

      1. E*

        Thanks Elle, I haven’t tried this bc I’ve just been avoiding her like the plague haha. But I like the idea of trying and giving her benefit of the doubt that she could change. I need to get more clear on what my specific asks are, and can try that.

    2. Bunny Girl*

      When I have to work with someone I dislike or have really annoying habits, I pretend I’m in a David Attenborough documentary about them. Observing them in a totally detached “wow this is interesting way” helps.

    3. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      “Hi Jane, we have talked about it, I believe I’ve heard your concerns, and I am comfortable with my decision; I’m moving out with implementing it.“

      You can ask if you want: ‘is there something I am missing that’s making you continue to email me about it?”

      1. Cheezmouser*

        +1

        The example you gave sounds like it actually might be in Operations’ purview, since it involves how the company is using various systems/platforms/processes. So at least in this particular example, it sounds like your colleague has some jurisdiction. But to your point, if it was already discussed and agreed upon by the group, then her reopening the discussion might be because she has an objection/concern that was not addressed during the discussion or she found a new objection/concern to raise. Either way, if you’re not interested in reopening the discussion, then I like the above language.

    4. JelloStapler*

      *”grandboss wants to keep this colleague for Reasons”*

      This is always when I hear the voice in my head say “then he can work closely with her and supervise her directly”

  30. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I think I know what I need to do here, but I could use a gut check.

    I was laid off about six weeks ago. The next day I reached out to a woman I spoke with back in spring of 2022; she’s the head of HR at an organization in my city, I was recommended to her, she wanted to see if there was a place for me at the organization. When we initially spoke I was really happy where I was so I didn’t bite. Now that I’m laid off, I’m open, so I got in touch.

    She connected me with her colleague who set up a time for me to meet with their CEO. A few minutes before the meeting it was cancelled– the CEO was ill and didn’t feel he could have a productive conversation. I completely understood, wrote back with my well wishes and availability. The CEO responded, said he was really looking forward to speaking with me.

    Since then… crickets. I reached out to the CEO about rescheduling, then to the HR person who had scheduled the meeting. Nothing from either. I’m guessing this ship has completely sailed, but it feels so weird. It’s been about three weeks since the initial meeting was supposed to happen– should I reach out to my initial contact, just telling her that the meeting never happened and please be in touch if anything comes up? I don’t want to completely close this door– it’s a growing company with a lot of potential opportunity for me, even with these hiccups. I’m caught between “people get really busy” and “they’re not interested, move on.”

    1. HR Friend*

      I would email your original contact again, just like you said. Three weeks isn’t *that* long, so I wouldn’t frame your email as if the process is definitely over.

      It sounds like the head of HR set up the introduction, another lower level HR person scheduled the meeting, and CEO canceled. The head of HR would definitely want to know that no one’s been in touch with you if they’re still interested in talking so they can nudge the CEO. If they’re no longer interested in talking, they’ll probably tell you that & why.

    2. RagingADHD*

      I use the rule of thumb that however long someone is out sick, it takes twice that long for them to catch up on missed work. So if the CEO was out one week, they’ll just now be getting to the point they could consider adding something to their schedule.

      Give it a week, then reach out to your initial contact again. If the ship has sailed, then it has sailed. If not, that feels like the right amount of time to circle back without being pesty.

  31. The Prettiest Curse*

    We recently had a fun weekend thread about supposedly boring life tasks such as ironing that people somehow find weirdly satisfying or enjoyable, so this is the work edition of that thread. What supposedly boring work task do you actually enjoy? Personally, I find really like to find and delete duplicate or invalid contacts on the email lists that I manage.

    1. WellRed*

      When I worked at a bookstore I enjoyed straightening the magazines at the end of the night. National chain so quite a lot of titles.

    2. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Cleaning out my email/shared email accounts, cleaning up and reorganizing file shares and Sharepoint sites. Pretty much anything that involves deleting information.

    3. Mr. Shark*

      I have old spreadsheets that I started with incomplete information because it was mostly just for my reference. I recently had a reason to go back and review and fill in the missing information because we actually need it to “fix” some things on the project, and it was satisfying to get the spreadsheet and data fully complete! It was just looking things up and recording them in the spreadsheet, but it definitely was fulfilling and in some cases was like solving a puzzle.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Stuffing envelopes. At OldExjob, I would fold invoices, stuff them in the envelopes, and then run them through the postage machine. I called it “doing stuffies” and had a little assembly line thing going. Fold fold fold, stuff stuff stuff. Also any kind of sorting.

      My boss at one old job would not let anyone else stamp envelopes (with actual stamps on a roll). She said that was her de-stress activity.

    5. slowingaging*

      I used to compulsive arrange my large and small paperclips. I now hardly have any paper, so possibly 3 paperclips.

  32. Newbie Consultant*

    How do you deal with highly competitive colleagues? I’ve never really been a competitive person or worked in a competitive workplace so this is all new to me. I am so used to being very collaborative that I keep getting burned in my new job. I’ve had conversations with people about an idea I had and then I find out they took my idea, pitched it as their own project and then they got to work on it and I didn’t. It was done in a sneaky enough way that they would have deniability if I said anything to them but I really don’t like it. Also, I’m new so I don’t want to rock the boat.
    Would love some advice!

    1. ferrina*

      That’s not competitive- that’s manipulative and underhanded.

      Someone can be competitive while still giving their “opponents” credit- think of all the athletes who complement each other on a good game. Teams can ‘compete’ with each other in a way that builds each other up. This is not that. These people are willing to step on you and steal your ideas, and will almost certainly be willing to throw you under the bus if they see an advantage. Don’t trust these people, play your cards close to the vest.

      If you want to leave this company because it’s not a good culture fit (and who wants to fit in with people like this?), this is a case where you are justified in in leaving a job without much tenure.

    2. Bess*

      I have worked on and off with colleagues who do this kind of thing. I did end up sometimes bringing it up to my supervisor, and made it as much as possible about the work, not the drama, etc. “I suggested this and then saw “x, y, z”” — and then there was always something attached to the way I brought it up to make it practical. “Would this person really run this or in the future could I proceed as planned?” or something like that. Don’t leave it as a snowball they have to then interpret.

      BTW, the people I have observed who would brazenly take an idea like this are potentially doing other undermining things. They will likely not change and you’ll have to figure out how to keep work and opportunities quiet and away from them, find others to collaborate with who are more trustworthy, etc.

      I’ve managed to do okay in workplaces with these individuals by finding other outlets and even at times being direct. “Please don’t work on that document any further, Fergus, I’ve got plans for it a bit later.” Honestly, you could approach them in a collegial/neutral manner and state you saw a misunderstanding and were mistakenly excluded from the project they’re starting, or something like that. But that reeeally depends on who the person is.

      I would also recount with my direct manager, not in any big way, the decisions and ideas in collaborative efforts that were mine, so that at least he had a sense of my contributions. Not in a big list, just updating consistently along the way and showing the evolution of your unique ideas and how you arrived there. You will also need to find some opportunities where higher ups will see your contributions specifically…but that’s less of a concern when you’re new.

      Being direct worked when someone I was managing was doing these things. Mostly I just neutrally stated, “that wasn’t what I had in mind, can you let Angela please own that document”? Didn’t stop the overall behavior but stopped the instance.

      You can just leave, though. It’s probably healthier.

    3. Cheezmouser*

      Agree with the above comments that this isn’t being competitive, this is just plain stealing credit. When you’re new to a company, one of the first things you need to learn is who to trust, who to go to with questions, who knows where to find the files from 2003, and who to avoid sharing too much with. It sounds like your colleagues are showing you their true colors. Are there colleagues who are actually decent? If yes, I would spend more time with them and less with these idea stealers. You don’t need to be frosty to the idea stealers, but you also don’t need to continue supplying them with free ideas. Consider only sharing your ideas with your boss and/or colleagues who will support you.

      Is there a reason why you didn’t pitch the idea yourself? Is it because you’re new and so you’re not comfortable pitching ideas yet? Were you thinking aloud/making an offhand remark/looking for someone to be a sounding board and didn’t think they’d steal your idea? Do you need more confidence to put your own ideas forward? Is it because you’re in a more junior role and it’s not your role to pitch ideas? You might consider reflecting about what happened and what lessons you might take from this incident to protect yourself or put yourself in a stronger position in the future.

      One thing I’ve done in the moment when I hear someone stealing my idea right in front of me is to let them finish their pitch and then add on, “I agree with Jane’s suggestion. When I suggested it to her last week, I was hoping this idea would help our team really streamline the teapot production process. Thanks, Jane, for bringing it forward for consideration.”

      I’ve also done this when I learn about my idea being stolen after the fact. In that case, I might say during a one-on-one meeting with my boss, “I heard that Jane got assigned to the teapot production streamlining project. I’m glad we’re moving forward with this, because we could really increase our efficiency and cut costs. That’s why I suggested it to her last week after our team meeting.”

      This usually results in Boss saying in surprise, “Oh, that was you?” which is your opening to provide context and put forward your own ideas: “Yeah, I’ve been looking into the production process for the last month, and I had been working on a list of suggestions for streamlining. I mentioned some of my ideas to her, but I wasn’t ready to share yet. Since we’re moving forward with the project, I’d be happy to share my list with you. Maybe you could work with Jane to determine which suggestions to implement.”

      The goal here isn’t to necessarily steal the project back from Jane (unless you really really want that project and are willing to deal with the political fallout) but rather to claim credit where credit is due. At no point are you calling Jane out for stealing your idea. Instead, you are contributing to a team project and supporting your colleague’s pitch. But if your boss is smart, she’ll read between the lines and know to keep a closer eye on Jane and also not to overlook you. It’s important for your boss to know that the idea originated from you, or else you’ll be overlooked when it comes time for project assignments, promotions, etc.

  33. Spearmint*

    What do middle managers at very large companies/government agencies actually do to add value?

    A lot of people I know, especially but not only in tech, are very cynical about middle management. They say middle managers just sit in meetings all day playing political games, have no actually authority (since executives make all the decisions that matter), and have no idea what non-managers are actually doing day-to-day. I’m sure this might be true some of the time, but since pretty much every large company and organization has a lot of middle managers this can’t be the full story.

    I don’t pose this question rhetorically or as a “gotcha”, I’m genuinely curious to hear from people who have been middle managers.

    1. CantFocus*

      My middle manager is awesome. She advocates for my interests, mentors me, and serves as my go between for the higher ups. Its valuable for my professional development.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        My boss tells me stuff that it would be annoying for the higher ups to manage like ‘ have you tried vacation?’ or ‘ in this situation I tell the folks that the rule is’ Can you imagine having someone tell 30 people this stuff? It makes things go better even though her job sucks

      2. JelloStapler*

        Same, plus they know the work, approach, and challenges that a grand-boss may not have experience in or not have the right perspective on.

    2. Elle*

      I never got this either. I worked at a place that lacked middle managers and it was a mess. Upper management was always dealing with staff and program issues and never had the time to look at big picture stuff.

      1. Spearmint*

        I like this way of thinking about it. Reminds me of an interview with one of Obama’s former chiefs of staff where he said the chief of staff’s job was to manage all the admin, personnel issues, and relatively minor policy implementation details so the president could focus on the most important issues and decisions.

    3. The Dude Abides*

      I’m a middle manager in government, but I also worked for 2+ years within the unit I now manage.

      By far the biggest thing I do is handle calls and emails from caseworkers, other state/federal agencies we interact with, and the subsection of the public that we serve. I also have to handle periodic reporting regarding my unit’s activity. My reports know their roles very well, but it is my job to see and understand the bigger picture, as well as take the heat if things hit the fan.

      Day-to-day, I need my reports to focus on getting their tasks done, and constantly being interrupted by phone calls is a surefire way for them to fall behind. Given that my reports are handling 4-5 tasks on a periodic basis, I also sometimes need to direct them to focus on A while either I pitch in with B/C and D gets put on the backburner.

    4. Ama*

      As a middle manager myself, I think a lot of people who have never managed don’t realize how much work goes into day to day management of staff — you have to make sure your reports all saw the email from IT about downloading a new version of the VPN, do performance reviews, one on one check ins, if something isn’t going well with a report you might need to do additional check ins or arrange for a training plan, if someone calls in sick you might need to arrange for coverage, or do the coverage yourself in an emergency. Then there’s the more subtle issues that can pop up like — your report is working with another department on a project and you find out that the other department is asking more of them then was previously agreed or someone else’s report is causing an issue for your team and you need to have a word with that person or their manager. And all of those you have to do a certain amount of triage and decide which you can handle on your own and which need to be escalated to senior management.

      Oh, and do any non-management work you might have on your plate, whatever that entails.

    5. AnotherLibrarian*

      I’m a middle manager. I oversee six people running a department. Within my little corner of work, I am responsible for the budget, keeping my boss informed about what we’re doing, and supervising my people. I also do write policies and take on the most complex of our issues. The most important thing I do, I believe, is advocate for my team and protect them from issues that can arise related to our work. I’m the public face, which means I take the hits, and they don’t. So, if a member of the public is going to yell at someone, they yell at me. Beyond that, it is a lot of big picture stuff.

      1. WestsideStory*

        This is, in fact, one of the main functions of a good middle manager. You take care of all the problems boiling up below you that the upper echelons don’t need to bother with (or know about, otherwise they would intervene and Really Mess Things Up). You bend some rules, and make up some others, so the work goes smoothly. You take the hits and become the buffer, but make sure the team has everything it needs to do their jobs well (and that includes affirmations and support and acknowledgment when appropriate).

    6. Elle*

      This reminds me of the person who wrote in earlier in the week with 40 people under them. That’s what happens when you don’t have middle managers. I’m also a middle manager. I had to deal with someone who was caught coming in late and leaving early. They were actually upset I called them out on it! My manager doesn’t have time to deal with that nonsense.

      1. Mr. Shark*

        Yes, 40 direct reports is ridiculous, and unmanageable. I can definitely see how there should be at least four mid-level managers under that person making sure that their 10 reports are meeting all requirements, so the top level manager can focus on bigger tasks, reporting up to higher level managers, directing the team, providing strategy for the team, and dealing with negotiating with their peers on to best utilize the team.

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My general take on management – I have team leads and individual contributors below me and director, ED, VP above me on the org chart – is that my role as a middle manager is to remove roadblocks for as many other people on the org chart as possible. If my ICs can’t do something, I figure out why not and how to fix it. If my TLs can’t do something, I figure out why not and how to fix it. If my director isn’t getting what she needs from below, I figure out why not and how to fix it, and so on. Sometimes it’s me doing the actual fixing, sometimes I figure out who can do the fixing and loop them in and so on. Basically, aside from HR responsibilities for my reports, I’m here to facilitate everyone else getting their work done.

    8. CheeryO*

      I’m a middle manager at a government agency in a STEM field. I ensure that information is shared effectively in both directions between my staff and upper management. I make sure we get our core workload accomplished while also meeting management’s priorities. I do work planning to make sure their work is allocated fairly, and that their strengths are being utilized effectively. I help with big-picture decisions when they aren’t sure how to handle certain situations. I direct all sorts of miscellaneous calls and emails from the public, other agencies, and our regulated entities. I onboard and train new hires. I approve time sheets and time off requests and handle other administrative stuff. I do performance evaluations. I handle interpersonal conflicts involving my reports when they come up. I do my best to act as a mentor and offer advice on career development, and advocate for my staff when I can.

      I do sit in on a lot of meetings that could have been an email, but not as many as you’d think. Often there is important context that is easier to explain in person, and sometimes directives are not clear or well-defined enough to not need follow-up questions.

      I am curious how you picture an organization without middle management? I’m all for a lean hierarchy, but someone with 50 direct reports wouldn’t be able to functionally supervise anyone, so it would be a bit of a wild west situation.

    9. Free Meerkats*

      I’m a middle manager in local government. While my small team of 3 reports and my newly hired replacement don’t take an inordinate amount of personnel stuff, about 35% of my time is management of the team – training approvals, timekeeping, PTO management, 1 on 1 meetings, etc. One of the biggest time sinks is staying up to date on the always changing regulatory environment as I’m the subject matter expert for our program. I’m on national organization committees and am active in an international groups.io group related to our mission. I’m always keeping tabs on what USEPA is doing and how it will affect our work, then keeping my managers updated on those things; how much these changes are going to cost us, how much time and manpower they are going to require.

      There’s the reporting to our state regulators that I have to do on a regular basis along with maintaining a personal connection with our particular regulator. And program maintenance – making sure our ordinance is up to date, calculating our local limits (currently 2 1/2 years into what was initially a 6 month project), things like rewriting policies and procedures, rewriting our program manual which is severely out of date, that sort of thing.

    10. Middling*

      I have currently ascended to the ranks of middle manager, and let me tell you, there is a lot of invisible, semi-visible and ultimately thankless work that goes into it. Tons of policy, procedure, way more administrative tasks, way more meetings (some of which help work get done and some of which are political), and the responsibility to deal with all the pettiness my wonderful managers above me don’t have the time to deal with.

      I do strategic planning my team can give input on but can’t necessarily really decide. I need to advocate for my team and ensure our work is visible and appreciated, and I have to shield them from A LOT of drama and weird organizational stuff that would impede their productivity and possibly hurt their morale for no reason. I have to give them enough autonomy in their work to keep them engaged but also set limits. Sometimes I have to intercede if I see something petty or weird happening interpersonally. I have to navigate weird conversations if someone’s ego is on the line. If someone is underperforming it’s on me to correct and ultimately terminate if merited. I do the hiring. A big part of my employee’s professional development is on me. I set the standards for the group and have to model and live them all the time.

      I could easily see myself moving back to an individual role eventually. For now, it’s great for the additional pay and the experience. But…it’s…A LOT.

    11. TX_trucker*

      I’m c-suite and my middle managers are gold. They filter proposals so I only need to look at the top few instead of 30+ different possibilities. And “normal” every day decisions like scheduling truck maintenance or vacations are time consuming. Middle managers free my time to focus on the overall development of the company.

  34. CantFocus*

    Hi everybody. I cant focus or get off my phone at work. No one else has noticed yet but I can feel it impacting my productivity. Does anyone have any tips? Its especially hard to focus in meetings :(

    1. NaoNao*

      What function is the phone performing–is it a work phone that’s dinging with emails or is this a personal phone with doomscrolling?

      For a work phone, go on DND and silence notifications or adjust rules and blocking so that only Big Wigs or clients or whoever gets through.

      Use time blocking and inform people you’re going to be out of pocket and stick to it.

      Personal phone is tougher. That’s usually about “I don’t want to be here/escapism” and harder to break. You’ll have to tackle the root cause of the desire to escape and self-soothe with your own tool kit–whether that’s therapy, CBT techniques, goal setting and tracking, or replacing bad habits and coping mechanisms with good.

      Sometimes being “scared straight” with the dire consequences of losing a job could help in a pinch too if you have a vivid imagination.

      1. CantFocus*

        I made an appointment with a doc to talk about adhd so hopefully I can listen to people better. I think itll just be a long process. Funny about the being scared straight thing, yesterday HR called me and I was thinking “AAA THEY FIGURED OUT THAT I DONT DO ANYTHING”. But actually i got a raise. I guess no one has noticed how much time I spend in the day staring blankly at my laptop, remotely. Remote work does not do me any favors.

          1. Mockingjay*

            I was doing a lot of the same lately too. For a while my workload was pretty light, so I got in the habit of reading/scrolling/puttering, etc. (I’ve already taken as much training as I can for this year). Workload has picked up again (tasks I like), but Bad Scroll Habit was still going on and I was scrambling to finish work on time.

            I got ruthless and deleted apps off my phone. I have an iPad, so the apps are still on there for after-hours enjoyment. I reset my health app to buzz hourly to get a few steps in, which calms restlessness. I also looked for some new music playlists – focus music but a bit more upbeat to keep my brain engaged. It’s a work in progress, but I’m getting more tasks accomplished each week.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          You might be compensating for your phone/daydream time by being hugely productive for short bursts when you’re in hyperfocus (I think even people without ADHD benefit from slow-fast phases instead of just slogging at one pace all day). That said, it’s still worth tackling a distraction which you feel is sapping too much attention. The tack I would take is 1) keep it off and out of sight, or just away and out of sight. I work in education and I like to model the phone behaviour I want to see for the kids. I get really distracted by it out of work, but in work I never look at it. I have a smart watch, so I see important messages though. The smartwatch alerts are nowhere near as distracting though. 2) Productivity apps which limit your phone time or measure them. 3) Pomodoro method. If you work better in spurts, try this. 4) An alternative but more workplace acceptable distraction when you’re in a less driven energy phase. Making tea, brainstorming with a colleague; I personally love to fuss over my planner.

          1. Lily Rowan*

            Yeah, I don’t have ADHD, and I have always worked in bursts like that, so I have a lot of time to screw around (see also, reading this site).

    2. Anecdata*

      Can you lock your phone in your car, or do something like put it at the bottom of the furthest drawer in an envelope each morning?

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Yes to this, and if you’re putting it in a drawer or your bag (someplace a tad inconvenient but still reachable from your desk), consider putting your phone in airplane mode so when you do dig it out to check you don’t see any notifications that will immediately distract you. And if you use your personal phone for scrolling on social media, the added step of turning off airplane mode is another chance for you to catch yourself and redirect to work.

      2. Spencer Hastings*

        I used to do this. Then my employer implemented two-factor authentication with Duo, so I always have to have my phone on me now. *sigh*

    3. Spearmint*

      I’ve had similar issues at times. Here’s some things that work for me:

      – Turn off notifications from most apps, including social media apps.

      – I put my phone in do not disturb.

      – I deleted apps that are particularly distracting, for me it was Twitter and Reddit.

      – In meetings, I sometimes leave my phone in another room.

      – If you have an iPhone, they have “screen time” options that let you block apps during certain times of day.

      But also, it might be that you’re bored or burnt out at work. I know for me a big part of the reason my phone is so alluring is I’m dreadfully bored and ready to move onto a new position.

    4. ferrina*

      I’m ADHD, and the phone can be my nemesis. I don’t always defeat it, but when I do, it’s usually because:
      1. I turned on music. When I have something else that can split my focus/I can easily ignore, it makes it easier for me to focus.
      2. I leave my phone somewhere that’s hard for me to reach. Sometimes my ADHD helps with that- I forget I left my phone in the other room (I work from home)
      3. I get regular feedback from my boss, and I list what I’ve done each week. I tend to focus on everything I’m not doing rather than what I am doing, which is not healthy. I do have days when I get almost nothing done, but I also have days where I’m able to solve problems that have haunted my company for years. It averages out. I don’t see it from the inside because I keep focusing on what I’m not doing, rather than what I have done.

    5. just another queer reader*

      Ooh I can relate. I’m glad you’re talking to a doctor about ADHD but in the meantime –

      My meetings are super boring. I’ve found I need to be doing something physical while listening: coloring, knitting, or playing a mindless game.

      I have an easier time focusing when I go into the office sometimes. Just getting out of my house is the key, I think. I wonder if you could work at a library once a week or something.

      I also try not to go to more meetings than are needed (you might already be doing this!)

      And setting clear goals/ deadlines and reporting back on your progress (to yourself or to your boss) every week.

      I hope you can find the parts of your job that are interesting and build on those! For me it’s problem solving and 1:1 connections.

      Good luck!

    6. EMP*

      A few things that help me:
      – log out of the apps you scroll on. Use 2FA or anything else that makes it that much more annoying to log back in when you’re bored during the day
      – fidget cube and doodling during meetings.
      – write down what I did that day every single day before I log off from work. Bonus points if I write down what I want to get done the next day. Helps give me short deadlines my brain can work with better.

    7. Jaydee*

      There’s an app called “Forest.” I highly recommend it! You plant a little tree, and set a timer for how long you want to focus. If you access any other apps on your phone before the timer ends, your little tree will die. There’s a screen that shows all the trees you grew. It will show the sad little dead trees too. I guess it might not work for people who can’t get attached to a pixelated tree or who aren’t motivated by seeing a visual representation of their successes and failures. But come on! Who can’t get attached to a pixelated tree?

  35. Anonymous Pygmy Possum*

    My boss was let go without warning this week. Now, this is not entirely undeserved. He was not the greatest boss in the world. But I’m kind of off-kilter because he made sure he knew everything that was coming up in my area and didn’t tell me everything that I should have known, so now I feel like there’s stuff coming at me from everywhere. I know I’ll have support from my ex-skip/new boss in trying to get caught up, but man, is it hard and anxiety-inducing.

    I’m sure my ex-boss would appreciate if I reached out to him, and my dad said I might be able to get a reference from him if I do, but… I don’t know if I want to keep in contact with him. I don’t want to get into the exact reasons he was let go but he treated me decently even though from what others’ experience with him was, I totally understand why he was let go and I really don’t want to “ally” with him. Plus, I worry he might ask me for a reference as to what his management style was like, and while I do have some great things to say, the stuff that I could say that is not-so-stellar would really give a hiring manager pause. I don’t know. If you’ve been in this situation, did you reach out to them? What do you even say?

    1. ferrina*

      It sounds like you’re asking about two things- managing work flow and whether you should maintain a relationship with that boss. Here’s my experience:

      -When requests come in, tell people that you are still figuring out the new workflow now that you are reporting to New Boss. Tell them you appreciate their patience for a couple weeks while you figure it out. Then sit down with New Boss and have a meeting about work flow. How should work come in- through them, through you, through a ticketing system? How should you prioritize work? (if that’s an issue) If you have too much work, what should you do? Make sure you have regular 1:1s where you can keep your manager updated on the workflow.

      -You don’t have to reach out unless you want to. Unless you’re planning on leaving the company in the next few months, you can probably use New Boss as a reference. Depending on what performance issues Old Boss had, he might not even be a great reference. If you want to reach out, you can send a quick email/LinkedIn message saying “I’m sorry to see you leave the company, and I enjoyed working with you! I hope your next place is awesome.” Just that. You can stay vague and light. If he responds, you don’t need to respond right away- you can wait a bit, then respond with something light.

      1. Anonymous Pygmy Possum*

        The first part was mostly venting, but I appreciate it anyway! We have a ticketing system for our work but I was mainly talking about stuff that is coming up but hadn’t been ticketed yet. I will definitely be talking to my new boss about the workflow/setting up new meetings with PMs. And thanks for your advice on what to say to my old boss – I’m still debating on whether or not I want to say anything, but keeping things light is probably the way to go.

    2. Rick Tq*

      ExBoss is Ex because he wasn’t effective and now you are paying the price for his information hoarding. He “treated me decently” but now it is “hard and anxiety-inducing” to deal with the fallout of his actions. Focus on the consequences of his actions you are feeling today.

      I can see staying in contact with coworkers who were laid off or resigned for a better opportunity, they left by choice or because of external conditions, not poor performance or bad behavior. When people have been fired they are gone and quickly forgotten.

      Why would you want a reference from him, are you actively looking for a new job now? Regardless of what your father said I’m lost on why would you reach out to him now that he is gone? He wasn’t laid off, he was fired.

      1. Hiring Mgr*

        Not sure it matters that he was fired if APP wants to keep in touch. I’ve been fired and keep in touch with a couple of my reports from that time. I also keep in touch with an old boss who was fired.

        Of course there’s no obligation to do so, but being fired isn’t some kind of red flag to stay away from the person (assuming he wasn’t fired for illegal/unethical behavior)

  36. Ormond Sackler*

    Had an interview last week for a job I’d be perfect for–would really knock it out of the park. It would be a nice pay raise and less travel. The first interview with the hiring manager went well…and yesterday I got the automated rejection email. Obviously there were a ton of great candidates out there but I just keep thinking about it…it would have been perfect.

    1. ferrina*

      I’m sorry!
      If it helps, the office that they had a secret compartment where they hid a basilisk. Every staff meeting, the lowest performer would be turned to stone for the duration of the staff meeting, while the managers would have a competition to stack donuts on their petrified head.

      Okay, probably not. But I find that it helps me to mentally detatch by remembering that I don’t know everything about the job, and I assume it wasn’t as perfect as it seems. I like to imagine wild scenarios to amuse myself and help distract from the disappointment.

      1. callmeheavenly*

        I just finalized a hire and am afraid a couple of candidates who didn’t make the cut might be feeling like they missed a perfect opportunity… personally, I feel like they dodged a bullet, because we are a WAY hotter mess than is readily apparent. Maybe not basilisk-level, but still, nothing is ever, ever perfect.

  37. New Mom*

    I had a job interview! It’s a brand new role in a very new department (less than six months) and they don’t have KPIs determined yet, and they are still building up what the department will be doing to support a specific subset of clients. Because there is so much unknown it could either be a great or a really bad situation. What type of questions are good to ask to suss it out?
    The manager herself seems nice but I don’t know who the ultimate decision-maker is and I don’t think it’s her.

    1. ferrina*

      Oh, this always makes me so nervous! Here’s what’s helped me:
      1. Who is this role reporting to? (if they dont’ know that, that’s a big red flag)
      2. What are the problems that this role will solve?
      3. What will this role be expected to do (ideally in the first 3 months, 6 months, year…but if they aren’t sure of the timeline, that’s fine)
      4. How much flexibility is there in the role? Will the candidate be expected to shape the role, is it something that will be 100% defined, or is it something in between?

      I’m in a custom role that was brand new when I started in it, and these questions helped me know what I was walking into. My situation has turned out great- I have a clear boss who has clear goals, I’m able to make a lot of suggestions (my boss has final say, and we’re usually on the same wavelength), and she is happy to let me approach the role however I like. I tell her what I plan to do, she might make a few tweaks, then off I go. The role is still evolving, but I’m really happy with the path it’s taken.
      On the flip side, I’ve seen roles where the manager was changed every other week and the whole purpose of the role would change (that poor person was doomed from the start), where different stakeholders had drastically different visions of the role, or where the person was told to design the role but wasn’t given any autonomy.
      Good luck!

    2. Ormond Sackler*

      I think ferrina’s questions are really good. I would add maybe try to keep the questions as open-ended as possible so they reveal as much as they know.

  38. George Santos sent me (that's a lie)*

    Anticipation anxiety for upcoming strategic plan department meeting

    Last May we held our non-profit fundraising team strategic planning meeting. It was our first without a very important member who resigned. Their departure was akin to cutting off our boss’ right arm* and I think we were all still processing our loss. The meeting place wasn’t ideal. Our boss was combative and didn’t guide us in any way despite there being an agenda. On the 2nd day, our boss up and left us after threatening to fire us, focused on me (but I didn’t know why) We had rounds on an issue that shouldn’t have been discussed as it wasn’t pertinent to the meeting. We three stayed for the remaining hours to work. She never acknowledged the episode or apologized for leaving us. We never talked about it among ourselves or brought it up to her. I didn’t talk to anyone about it until…

    Months later, during a meeting, boss said that I was the reason why she left us. I confided in a team member (who also has had rounds with boss herself) as to what boss revealed. Team member wasn’t surprised.

    We’re planning for the upcoming meeting and I’m not looking forward to it. It’ll be use same four people and we have a new team member, who knows what happened. Our boss is not a good leader, doesn’t stay on task, delves into minor issues and still doesn’t have a good understanding of evaluation, budgets or even what I do for that matter.

    I guess we go forth as if nothing happened last year? The organization has ‘rules of engagement’ so we could remind ourselves of those (Stay engaged, be open to non-closure, listen without judgement, etc.). I don’t want this to happen again and there’s no belief it will. I’ve been with the org longer than I had been at the time last year, we’ve moved past the staff member resignation so perhaps we’ll be in a better place?

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Who is facilitating this meeting? Can you get with them ahead of time and ask them to lay out the rules in advance (like you said) and then if boss goes off topic, have them say ‘thanks we will put that in the parking lot’

      1. George Santos sent me (that's a lie)*

        Boss is facilitating the meeting. We’re 5 staff members. Maybe a team member will volunteer to do that for us.

        We don’t have a 2nd in command, we’re all equal although ‘title wise’, I’m the most subordinate of my 4 co-workers. Yet, we don’t work with that mindset.

        I want to address this with the team, sans boss, but I feel it might set a framework or bias going into the event. I’m sure one coworker (who is tight with the boss outside of work) knows what happened. The other two coworkers know because I asked one for advice and another one (the new member) asked me why the boss picks on me and I told her what happened last year as a framework of what I have to deal with.

    2. ferrina*

      There’s a couple different scenarios that I’m picturing, but the solution is the same.
      1. Your boss is terrible, and you acted as well as you could and there was nothing you could have done that would change anything.
      2. Your boss is terrible, and you weren’t the best and you could change your approach a bit (which may or may not help your boss).

      Either way, there’s some emotional management techniques you can employ:
      – Come in fresh. Like you said, it’s been almost a year. Hopefully folks are in a better mental place now. Give them a chance to be better.
      – Empathize. Even if your boss is freaking out over something that’s not on the agenda, don’t say “that doesn’t matter”. Say “hmm, that’s interesting. I see where you’re coming from. I’ll need to think about that.” That way she feels heard, and will (hopefully) be more receptive to the next topic.
      – Say “I’ll get back to you”. Promise to look into areas of concern and circle back. Take down action items. Instead of saying “that doesn’t matter”, say “I’ll need to think about that more.” This can help the person feel that the item has been dealt with (i.e., you’re taking it seriously and are looking into it), then hopefully they will move along.
      – Let the combative person “win”. Pick some hills that you dont’ want to die on and don’t mind failing, and let them “talk you around to it”. Don’t say “I disagree, but you’re the boss.” Say “Hmm, I hadn’t thought about it like that before. Thanks for opening my eyes to that!” Obviously this might take some acting skills, but if you can pull it off, it can help. Some people just need to show dominance before they’ll let the competent people actually get that job done.
      – Don’t reference the rules when you’re the one in combat (unless you are the designated facilitator). Theoretically that’s what the rules are there for, but if you are actively arguing with the person, pointing at the rules (even rightly) can feel like rules lawyering. And no one likes rules lawyering- especially when it’s being used to say “Calm down” when someone is upset (which everyone hates anyways). If you must reference the rules, only reference it in terms of yourself- “Hey, mind if we take a quick break? I’d like to make some coffee and mentally reset so I can fully engage.” (this works best when dealing with reasonable but overwrought people- unreasonable people will try to find a way to use this against you)

      I’ve got more, but these are the main ones. All of them are Too Much Work, but it’s allowed me to negotiate some truly unruly people. If this becomes a regular thing that you need to do, consider moving on from this place.

      1. Pine Tree*

        I’m not the original OP for this question, but thank you for this. I really like your concrete suggestions on how to deal with these type of people, while still acknowledging the reality, as in your note that “Some people just need to show dominance before they’ll let the competent people actually get that job done.”

        I’m dealing with some of these dominant types right now and needed this so much!

  39. TeenieBopper*

    Can I take a minute to vent about how frickin’ dumb American work culture is? I was made an offer for a new role. It’s a good step up in terms of salary and most other benefits are roughly the same. But there are only 30 total days of PTO (holidays, sick, vacation). For reference, in my current role, I have 43. I’m trying to negotiate more PTO and it’s like pulling teeth. Losing almost 3 weeks is a massive hit and it’s made worse by the fact that there is currently no way to earn more; I could be there 1 year or 10 and I’ll never get more. I’m being told by the recruiter and the company that it’s a generous PTO package and I’m just like “FOH, my current package is standard in Europe.” And the worst part is, I’d be kind of dumb not to take the offer because of how big the salary bump is.

    1. Prospect Gone Bad*

      30? I manage a team of people that have 20 and it’s like pulling teeth to get them to use it. Everyone keeps saying they are fine and don’t need a vacation, I guess it helps that we celebrate every small public holiday, so get loads of 3 day weekends.

    2. Anecdata*

      Hey, here’s internet-stranger-permission to not take the job if you don’t want/need to. It’s ok to trade lower salary for other things that are important to you.

      But yeah, 30 days sounds pretty generous to me (with a caveat re: how much of that is sick vs. vacation) so your recruiter is probably correct that that’s not negotiable. You don’t want to take this job and be angry and resentful about the PTO, so make sure you’re really okay with whatever decision you make

      1. TeenieBopper*

        I mean, I don’t *need* the job. But the job does sound interesting and I’d be a good fit. But it’s also a literal 50% salary increase with a better 401k match (5% vs 3%). But three weeks is a ton of PTO. And like, I’m not asking them to match it; just give me another 5 days (and I’d probably pretty happily take 3). I’m just frustrated that we live in a country with such a fucked up work culture.

        And like, yeah, I could not take it, but the aforementioned fucked up work culture is so normalized in this country, the next person would take it and nothing actually changes.

        1. HR Friend*

          Are you going from a European company to an American company? It doesn’t sound like it, if they do 401K matches. If you’re just…an American livin’ in America, working American jobs, like.. yeah? Some jobs have better benefits packages. It looks like the comp more than makes up for it.

        2. Qwerty*

          Can you negotiate the option to take a week of unpaid leave each year? If the job is a 50% salary raise, the week of pay wouldn’t eat up much of the raise.

          I had a similar PTO discrepency at a previous job offer, but without the mega salary bump. I turned it down, saying no amount of money could make up for the loss of PTO. They countered with increasing my salary by a week’s wages so that I could take a week unpaid each year, thereby bypassing their strict PTO rules.

          I feel you about wanting to stay with your generous PTO leave. While I’m bad about actually using my days, there is so much comfort in knowing that I *could* go on a lovely vacation if desired, so I always negotiate for a large PTO allowance that I don’t use.

          1. TeenieBopper*

            This is actually something I had considered and honestly, I’d be okay with it. At this salary point, I care less about the P in PTO than I do about the TO. I know the person I’d be directly reporting to (the CEO :eek:) is going to be talking to their head of HR about possible solutions today. I passed this idea along to the recruiter to see if it’s a feasible option.

            But yeah; at my current job, we accrue PTO. My first three years I didn’t use everything. Now that I’m close to the yearly carry over limit, I use all 43 days every year, which usually results in me taking two or three months worth of 4 day work weeks. There’s also no carry over at the new job which is a bit of a bummer; at my current job, I could theoretically save up weeks worth of time to add on to a potential paternity leave at full pay. That’s a pure hypothetical at this point, but I suspect it will come up in two or three years.

      2. TeenieBopper*

        I mean, I don’t *need* the job. I think I’d like the job itself, I’d be a good fit, and I’d be surrounded by smart people. It’s a literal 50% pay increase on top of a better 401k match (5% vs 3%). Money isn’t a primary motivator for me, but that’s a ton if it. But 13 days is a ton of PTO. And I’m not even asking them to match it. I just want 5 more days than they’re offering and would probably pretty happily take three. I’m just frustrated about how freaking dumb our work culture is.

        And like, yeah, I could just turn it down. But the aforementioned freaking dumb work culture is so normalized in this country that the next person would just take the job and nothing changes.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      By including holidays, are you talking about fixed public holidays? In most jobs I’ve had between 8-10 fixed public holidays so that’s only 20-22 days for vacation and sick time. Strongly seconding Anecdata’s permission to not take this job. You can always keep looking to find a job that pays well and has good time off.

    4. Spearmint*

      So if I’m doing the math right, that’s 8-ish holidays, and probably 10 sick days, so that leaves 2-2.5 weeks of vacation? Yeah that’s not very generous. It’s not egregiously bad by US standards but it’s not good either.

      I’m with you though, I think the bare minimum should be three weeks vacation in addition to holidays and sick time, and really 4-5 weeks should be pretty common.

      You don’t have to take it for the salary bump. You can keep looking. You just have to decide how much that PTO is worth to you. I tend to value PTO a lot myself so I think it would be reasonable to turn down the offer over this.

      1. TeenieBopper*

        10 holidays, 5 days sick, 15 days vacation. So like, reasonably generous by US standards. But I’m venting about how dumb US standards are.

        1. Justin*

          It’s the 5 sick that’s the real glaring issue I think. 15 vaca isn’t a ton but you can make that work (I have 20, have had 15 before).

          So that’s the one that I’d see as the sticking issue.

          1. Clisby*

            Seriously. At the job I retired from, we accrued 1.5 days per month of sick leave – so 18 days a year. I can’t remember how many we could carry over, but it was enough that it paid for 6 weeks of my FMLA leave, and there was some left over. 5 days of sick leave is terrible. (I’m in the US).

    5. LadyByTheLake*

      Thirty seems like a lot for the US, BUT if that also includes holidays, it could be low. At most executive-level jobs I’ve had I got 20 days of PTO (vacation or sick days), plus holidays.

    6. Sunflower*

      It’s pretty standard at the last 3 companies I worked at for folks in Europe to be paid lower salaries than their American counterparts. I’d guess this same jobs salary in Europe with similar vacation amounts would be much lower.

      I’m not arguing that the US shouldn’t have more vacation but it’s unfair to say that that there isn’t a trade off here and you just get screwed by the US system all around.

    7. Alex*

      If the 30 days includes all holidays and sick days, that’s not particularly generous. I’d say for the US that’s about average/low average. For example, let’s say you have ten days vacation, ten holidays, and ten sick days. Still, I’ve never worked a job where vacation was in any way negotiable. You get what you get and everyone has the same rules.

    8. Green Goose*

      I soooo relate. I’m in a bit of a golden handcuffs situation because my current company offers so much PTO and is closed for three paid weeks out of the year…but I’m drowning.
      I’ve been hunting and truly nothing compares to their time off. I’m actually in the running for a job at a competitor that offers 51 days off which is good by American standard but still not as good as my current. But the workload is horrendous at my current company and I don’t think I can survive another busy season, even with the amazing time off.

      1. TeenieBopper*

        Yeah, I’m definitely in a golden handcuffs situation. I thought I would be stuck being severely underpaid for the next five years until I finally reached 120 payments for PSLF. Between fully WFH, very generous PTO package, and PSLF I thought I was stuck in the 15th percentile for salary for my experience and skills (in an average COL area, so it’s not like my salary was hamstrung by location). This job is is a significant pay bump with a hybrid schedule (meh). I’d be dumb not to take it, but I’m still pretty angry about how PTO is viewed in this country.

  40. Whatwouldyoudo?*

    I have a what would you do question. A recruiter messaged me on Linkedin I get messages like this all the time and I typically ignore them. This one caught my eye because of the absurdity of it. It was a job ver similar to what I curretly do only as a contract position for a lot less than the amount I currently make. There are no benefits as it is a contract position and it requires the person to work 6 days a week 12 hours a day for 9 months. The message went on that it was a FABULOUS opportunity! For $XX money! And so much OT. All the OT you can ask for. The money offered is low. So low for my industry and even that particular job as an entry level contractor that amount was very low. I responded with a very polite I make 2.5 times that working a regular 40 hour week but thank you anyway. Would you have responded? I was just so pissed I couldnt not respond and I kind of wish I had been ruder in my response.

    1. Decidedly Me*

      I wouldn’t have – not worth my time or energy. Also, that recruiter is just doing their job – they don’t set salaries, schedules, etc.

    2. TeenieBopper*

      Apparently message response rate influences your visibility when recruiters are searching, so I probably would have responded, but that’s only because I’ve been passively actively looking. It is kind of insane some of the *ahem* opportunities that get offered, though. I suppose it’s some combination of companies hoping to hoodwink someone with the skills they need and paying them less than their worth, and recruiting companies just casting the widest net possible and hoping to get someone.

    3. Ormond Sackler*

      These recruiters are usually working off 100% commission and they have to message tons of people to get any replies at all. A lot of them are right out of college (or else they’re British; not sure why so many Brits get into headhunting), don’t know much yet, and given the turnover will be out of that job within a year. It’s not worth it to tell them how clueless they are, and it’s not very nice either.

    4. Rinn*

      When I see job listings like that on career sites like Indeed, I flag the worst ones and include my feedback. There was one that was in my line of work but it was the most insane list. They were describing the job of at least three people. IMO, that is a real problem that contributes to employee abuse and other toxic environments. It also causes job seekers to undervalue themselves and creates an inaccurate portrayal of what work should be. Therefore I think it is perfectly reasonable to flag these.

      Not sure how to translate that action to a recruiter…

  41. whoops*

    Recently I was trying to set up a video call with a recruiter from a staffing agency, and mentioned as we were exchanging emails that I didn’t have access to Teams except at work, could we use another video call app, and she said “oh, Teams is free on mobile!” Which it is, and I said something like “oh I’m sorry, this is embarrassing, I thought you needed a license to use Microsoft apps on mobile the same as on desktop! Thanks for clearing that up. What time would you like to talk?” and figured that was the end of it.

    She responded “what do you mean, license? Anyone can download and use Microsoft apps on any device? Have you worked much with computers before?” For the record–she has my resume, which is nothing but computer-based work since graduating from college. (I handle paper so rarely that I didn’t even know where to FIND paper clips in my current workplace for two years.) I emailed back, clarifying that by “license” I just meant you had to pay to use them–which IS true on desktop–and again asked about scheduling a time for the call. I think I’m about a decade older than her so I did think maybe it was a difference in what tech/terminology we’re used to, so just to be safe, I polled few mid-20s friends to see if they knew what a “software license” was; everyone did, and agreed that it’s not an outdated term at all.

    Anyway, this is all academic, because it’s been a week and she never responded. I’m a little annoyed at the thought she decided, based on this exchange, I must be completely misrepresenting my qualifications, but I don’t think there’s anything I can do at this point.

    I freely admit this started with a pretty silly error or two on my part! The idea of Microsoft products being too expensive for personal use is apparently ground too far into me. But I’m not the one who made this situation ridiculous–am I? Did I tank a potential professional relationship here, or dodge a bullet?

    1. just another queer reader*

      I would have had the same confusion as you! I didn’t know you could use Teams for free. (And I use it every day at work.)

      The recruiter seems to have handled this really weirdly.

    2. Barbarella*

      I don’t use Teams even at work, and I also have been assuming it was part of a MS suite of software that one had to buy. Surprise, it’s not! There is a free web-based version of Teams (so, for the desktop), and it looks like there are free versions of Microsoft 365, too! I want to be snarky and say, sounds like your recruiter is the one who doesn’t work much with computers, but I’m guessing you have mostly experience with MS Office and she has mostly experience with Microsoft 365 and you both don’t know what you don’t know.

      1. linger*

        Office 365 is technically a free download, but is function-limited without a paid subscription: you can read files, but not create and edit them.

    3. Hiring Mgr*

      “Did I tank a potential professional relationship here, or dodge a bullet?”

      Neither? It sounds like a very minor miscommunication

    4. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      If someone invites you to a Teams call with a link to the meeting, Teams would be free to use on desktop or mobile.
      I think on desktop you’d have to pay for the license to be able to create meetings though.

    5. WestsideStory*

      Licensed software is still a Thing. But, as you learned, Teams is free as is Zoom and other video conferencing apps.

      Personally, I hate Teams. Whenever I have a client that uses one, I download it from the web, but as soon as the project is over I delete the install.

      It may be this left a bad impression with an interviewer; try not to worry about it and move on.

  42. Anon Again... Naturally*

    Does anyone have any tips for nailing an interview for an internal promotion? If you’ve been on a hiring committee for an internal promotion, what things has a candidate said that impressed you?

    The only other non-senior member of my team just left, and they are filling the new position at the senior level. I have both been strongly encouraged by my boss and grandboss to apply, and warned that it will be a competitive process. I used Alison’s tips for updated my resume and writing the cover letter, and got scheduled for an interview right away. But I really want to stand out in the interview process as well. I’m not normally this nervous around interviewing, but this is all people I work with regularly. All suggestions greatly appreciated!

    1. FashionablyEvil*

      I served on an interview panel where we interviewed 15 internal candidates (we were hiring for 6 slots). The ones who impressed me the most were the ones who had specifics about their examples—they had clearly reflected on what they had done, why it worked/how it could be improved, and clearly connected it to outcomes. The other thing I appreciated were candidates who had slightly different examples or spins on a situation. If you have experiences that are a little unusual or stand out in a good way, those can be good to highlight too.

      Other things that helped were people being clear about the job description, connecting the role to their own career path, and asking good questions.

      Good luck!

    2. Jenna Webster*

      We had one internal candidate who I almost just offered the job to after her interview (I can’t actually do that). She came in on fire, ready to talk about what she knew, what she had accomplished, and what her vision was for the team she was applying to lead. She identified real issues and talked about some possible solutions. And she was realistic about the roadblocks she might encounter and talked about that as well – taking time to get buy in, focusing on the most important things, making sure the staff had all the information and training they would need. It was clear she had really thought about how she would do this job, but she also never made it sound like she was the savior coming to fix a huge mess. She just talked about some real opportunities and how and why she might work with her team to make them happen. It was amazing.

    3. lia*

      Preparation! I have interviewed several times for internal competitive promotions and succeeded. One piece of feedback I have gotten from more than one interviewer is “I could tell you prepared for the interview and didn’t treat it as a “gimme” just because you were already doing a lot of the work. That made you stand out.”

      Something I have noticed myself is that if you are in the role or one similar to it there’s a little bit of weirdness introduced. You’re not approaching it as an outsider, so acknowledge that. “Because we’ve worked together for X time, you’re already aware of how I . I know that one of the things we need in the role you are hiring for is , and here’s how I’d like to apply that past experience to “.

      So, two things: 1) prepare like you would for any other interview and don’t give it a pass just because you know the work and the hiring manager; 2) acknowledge your current work in the interview, but use your examples to highlight how it makes you a strong candidate for the new job.

  43. Another freelancer*

    It depends. Was the role “the one that got away” and you were upset you didn’t get it in the first place or was it just ok? I wouldn’t reapply all over for a role that I was indifferent to. Especially if it was a tedious process the first time. They do sound pushy and that would be off putting to me, but if I really needed or liked the job I would look past it.

  44. Bunny Girl*

    A few years back I worked at a public university. It was not a pleasant experience. I was s**ually harassed repeatedly by a faculty member to the point that I didn’t feel safe and I ended up quitting. I did report the harassment to HR, as well as my supervisor but as you can guess (He was tenure!) nothing was made about it.

    Fast forward and I graduate soon and I am looking for a job in my field. This university has several open positions in research that fit my career goals. They are not in the same department or in any way affiliated with the same department I worked in. But I wonder if my previous complaints would be a black mark against me being hired. I’ve applied there a few months ago and was rejected almost immediately.

    Any insights?

    1. JelloStapler*

      I am so sorry that this happened to you. I would certainly hope reporting SA/SH would not count against you. Bad enough that Tenure> Accountability there.

      However, I am not sure if you could prove it was the reason why you don’t get the job.

      1. JelloStapler*

        (if you didn’t get it that is, hopefully, its a moot point and you do get it- don’t let it stop you from applying.)

        1. Bunny Girl*

          Thank you. I have been applying to a couple positions that I’m qualified for so hopefully I hear something from them. I would hope that reporting predatory behavior wouldn’t count against me, but their H.R. is not fantastic. I actually was really hesitant against applying there but it’s so big that each department is kind of in its own universe.

    2. Green Tea*

      It’s very possible, especially if the university system has one central HR system and hiring managers can check your record from when you worked there, or if they asked around about you after seeing you worked for the university. And that really sucks – I’m sorry.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        I actually am not sure if they do or not. When I worked there it seemed there were multiple HR departments within the University. I had a good track record there and everyone enjoyed working with me so I don’t think they’d have anything negative to say besides “Hey Bunny doesn’t really appreciate getting s**ually harassed.” But I guess I can just cross my fingers. My field is pretty small in my area so they would be one of the best employers in my area. I would hope that someone else’s bad actions wouldn’t stop me from getting hired but that would be pretty on point for them.

    3. Angery [sic] at Academia*

      Was this in the US? I don’t know if there’s anything you can do about it at this point, but I do want to point out that, if it was in the US, the HR department and your supervisor broke the law by if they didn’t report it to the university’s Title IX enforcement office. I’m assuming that if they had, you would’ve known about that. If nothing else, this would be a very good reason for HR *not* to have a file sitting around saying “don’t hire this person because we’re illegally retaliating against her for reporting s**ual harassment that we also-illegally failed to report.”

      In any case, good luck!

  45. Prospect Gone Bad*

    Has anyone been on reddit Overworked, after last week’s thread? It’s fascinating that people think the way they do there. There seems to be a lot of infighting between people handling 2 jobs and the growing majority of people who don’t actually want to work but want the salaries, and a lot of “you’re going to ruin it for us” threads.

    Ones I found fascinating were:

    Someone with 3 jobs freaking out because one of his job will require, you know, work, and a few zoom calls, and they can’t handle it! Lots of “this is when you don’t do overemployed” but also really bad advice like “just be sick that week!” as if that will fix the problem
    “from a manager’s point of view” threads getting loads of pushback for no good reason. For example, there was a thread where someone said “I know for a fact my employee is working 2 jobs” and half the comments were “you don’t really know” and there was literally a “you’d feel horrible if it turns out his work is horrible because he has cancer.” In fact there was a few comments like this, which was odd. Why is that the first go-to thought?

    People getting upvotes for saying factually incorrect “advice” such as “employees do not need to generate work, managers should delegate projects.” The fact that this is mostly 6-figure IT and data workers and this advice is being handed out alarms me. I am in this field and my boss only gives me one project a year, the rest is based on stuff that naturally comes up

    Loads of people talking about how their job doesn’t have work. However, they don’t spend any time on that given job. So don’t talk to people, don’t look at anything, and many have non-existent relationships with their bosses, so yeah, that’s why you don’t have work. Not because there is no work.
    There is a lot of entitlement and preferences framed as “sticking it to the man”

    I read a good 50 threads and only one had a decent point – they worked in a big bank and the big bank wasn’t letting them do anything, and they didn’t want to sit there all day. That I can understand. All the other threads are basically “my job doesn’t have work because I reject any work and turn my head the other day, why hasn’t everyone done this!”

    It’s so bad, I am afraid it will cause a backlash of return-to-office and monitoring computers or layoffs.

    I don’t get these people. I have to fight to get headcount. It’s not because corporations bad. It’s because the pool of money needs to come from somewhere. I work at a medium sized company and headcount is a line item that gets worked into our pricing model. If everyone gets raises or headcount added, you actively see our prices tick up an hour later. In other words, the money doesn’t exist yet, we need to charge for it. This reddit makes it sound like money is falling from the sky. I follow Wall St earnings calls for my job. I think a lot of the ideas on overworked come from the peak of the bull market four years ago and some from 2021. I am listening to call after call of mediocre and falling earnings yet all I see if cherry-picked cases of “record profits” even if the quarters earnings is only 1% more than last year, which is not a success. People forget to mention the 70% or so of mediocrity that does not suggest the economy and corporations are doing great. Which is why I think it’s a huge distraction to frame this as “reaction to corporate greed” rather than just a personal preference to earn more.

    I am wondering who else is reading overworked and what they think.

    1. Decidedly Me*

      That’s their first go-to thought as they want to make people to question their suspicions (or outright evidence). The longer people don’t confront the issue (for fear that maybe, possibly someone is actually working poorly due to cancer and not due to working a 2nd job during the same hours) the longer they can get away with it.

      I’ve seen the Reddit, but find it annoying, so back out quickly :P

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        oh, in this particular case the manager said “my friend works at our competitor and confirmed OE worker also works there.” That’s why it was annoying that people were implying the OP made this up instead of just believing them. Because God forbid they admit OE isn’t the greatest idea ever

    2. E*

      Haha yes I went there too and was also scandalized!! A lot of the posts felt very different than the AAM LW who was doing two jobs well. There were people with 4 FT jobs who were really just phoning it in, and lots of people encouraging lying about children/health conditions/deaths in family etc.

      I did feel like a lot of people were transparent about the fact it was just about making more money for them, and FWIW I do think there’s a genuine reaction to years of employers exploiting workers. But yeah — I’d be so annoyed if a coworker were half-assing it the way they are (I say coworker bc if it were an employee I could address it directly, though it would be tough if they were pretending to have cancer!!)

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        The issue with the “exploited workers” theory though is that these are precisely not the workers who were exploited. This is not fast food workers or nurses.

        These are people like myself with cushy office jobs already making way more than people who do what is often more difficult work such as teaching or being a nurse.

        You saw the 4 jobs thing? I saw one claiming 6. I don’t even know if that is a troll or not. Some of them inadvertently mention and gloss over being fired from some of their jobs, it’s like a burn and churn approach. I guess it’s cool to get blacklisted from a bunch of places really quickly? I can’t wrap my head around it

        also saw “lie about kids” and didn’t get that one. I mean, you still need to eventually do the work, no?

        1. Anecdata*

          I think the kids thing is basically just trying to extend how long you can get paid before getting fired. If I think a new hire had a mess of unlucky life circumstances (I normally have reliable childcare but the center just closed unexpectedly!) hit them at a really inconvenient time (just starting a new job!) then if I can tell right away they don’t actually have the capacity to do the work. And if you hope it might get better, you’re willing to wait a while because firing and hiring is disruptive and time consuming

        2. Rinn*

          Exactly. This whole thing really upsets me.

          “The issue with the “exploited workers” theory though is that these are precisely not the workers who were exploited. This is not fast food workers or nurses.

          These are people like myself with cushy office jobs already making way more than people who do what is often more difficult work such as teaching or being a nurse.”

    3. Bunny Girl*

      I don’t know how I feel about that trend. It you can make it work it’s kind of none of my business but also I at one point had four jobs (a full time one and additional ones on the side) just to get my bills paid (barely) and people who are doing it just to stack cash and are being deceitful about it… It just doesn’t sit right.

    4. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      Yes I recently stumbled onto that sub and it’s wild.It seems like some have 3+ jobs with zero intention of doing much, if any, work. Just riding it out as long as possible before they get fired. If people really are doing this, eventually it will cost them. Background checks will start to show they have tons of overlapping short term jobs, and they won’t get any job.

      I can see there are some people that are high performing and can manage two jobs. My old job and new job probably, I could have probably made it work. But that’s only something I know now in hindsight. There was no way for me to know what my workload at my new job was. And I probably still wouldn’t have. Something about it just feels…icky.

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        It’s impossible for me to grasp! Maybe because most of my work is generated by me being immersed in my work and going through reports and talking to people and sitting in meetings and hearing an occasional tidbit that strikes a chord. It may only work in a job where you get handed assignments on a silver platter, but I work in the field all these people do, and it never happens! Usually we are the ones coming up with the requirements and such for the work. So I am very confused. I am totally reminded of my coworker who acts like everything is fine in his area, but it’s because he barely scratches the surface, and my dept took over stuff from his over time.

    5. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I think a lot of the ‘is working 2 jobs ok’ comes down to the nature of the individual jobs. For instance: if the ‘main job’ was a job that requires that I respond quickly but intermittently (high-level tech support, night clerk at a hotel, call centers) and the ‘second job’ is freelance writing, I wouldn’t have any issues with an employee doing both simultaneously as long as they’re not neglecting their main job duties while writing. If the ‘main job’, like my current job, involves billable hours (accountant) and I’m working a second accounting job and billing my time simultaneously to both jobs, that’s a very different cup of tea. There’s no one right answer.

      A lot of the ‘record profits’ talk by executives and C suite folks is also rah rah talk to keep shareholders and the press happy, but right now most companies I know of are only growing revenue on the basis that everything costs more now. They may have more revenue but their profit margins are down and so is their buying power. I also expect there to be a few more quiet shutdowns by the SEC on using non-standard accounting measures in your earnings release to make your company look better than it actually did.

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        “A lot of the ‘record profits’ talk by executives and C suite folks is also rah rah talk to keep shareholders and the press happy”

        I hadn’t thought about it that way, but it is a factor! I think people forget that no one comes out and says bad news. So a newbie might see “record profits” but not know they aren’t keeping pace with inflation or pick up on the fact that if a company isn’t overly positive on a call or in an article, it means next year will be horrible. They don’t literally come out and say “it will be horrible.” A lot of nuance get missed, especially if you are looking for any justification to “work” ten jobs!!

        This lack-of-seeing-nuance is such an interesting topic if you follow the news closely. My friends also miss this stuff sometimes. I always say, I am not saying you are dumb for missing it, it just comes from following a lot of media. Sometimes a CEO just not cheerleading is code for “hold onto your hats”

        1. Warrior Princess Xena*

          There’s a whole rant I could get into as well on the nature of companies desperately trying to keep stock prices up instead of having stock prices reflect the actual value of the company because we’ve moved from a dividend-based system to a reseller’s system. Which really, really doesn’t help anyone in the long run but is what we have right now.

          It also requires knowing the jargon and being able to look past what the C suite says to what is actually going on. It doesn’t help that a lot of C suite folks are comparatively overpaid and very tone deaf in how they sound to their staff.

  46. Chirpy*

    How do I list my previous job/boss on my resume? It was at a different branch of the same company I still work at (I just changed locations, still do the exact same work) so if anyone calls my previous boss or supervisor, it’s very likely that my job search will get back to my current boss.

    My previous job before that was 10 years ago, and while they’d give me good references, it’s going to be hard to track some of them down. (And my previous job before that, I don’t know what kind of references they’d give, even if I could contact anyone, as I thought people liked me there but they cut my position specifically because I was the youngest and childless. I actually had the most seniority. They are all gone from the organization at this point.)

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I think you can list the different locations under one job title (or the locations and job title under the one company) so it still reads as the “same” job and hiring managers know not to contact the previous location. Something along the lines of:

      Accountant, The Great Accounting Company
      Oatmealville, NY 2019-present
      Porrigetown, NY 2015-2019
      *accomplishment
      *accomplishment
      *accomplishment

  47. NaoNao*

    I’m about to sound really out of touch/tone deaf here so forgive me but I’m upset–very upset–I can’t consider a job that’s half my current pay. I’ve been struggling with my industry for almost a year now and with world events being what they are, I feel a suffocating panic at the thought of 20 more years of this.

    I found a really cool Non Profit and of all the places I applied this was the one I hoped would call. They did! And they loved me and were *dying* to interview me…for half of what I make now. I tried to talk them up about 10k but they just did a salary adjustment.

    The thing is, that figure isn’t laughably low, we’re just in a HCOL area and I’ve got some major bills to pay I can’t shift or put off. So I had to politely decline and it’s eating me up.

    My current job pays so well but I’m not doing the work I want to, my coworker is a mansplainer, I’m the odd one out, and my boss recently said “the company has very little tolerance for mistakes” so I’m on eggshells constantly, it’s miserable.

    I guess I’m just looking for ways to get through the next year-ish while I pay down bills with this good money so I can then look at jobs like the one I had to turn down.

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Can you tell them you’d be interested in revisiting working for them in a year?

      Can you enrich your life outside of work so you connect to things that bring you joy? Offset the work misery.

      Can you make the mansplaining into a game? Keep a running tally of tick marks every time he ‘splains. There goes weird ol’ Wonder Bob, adding more material for your coffee table book called Mansplaining At Work: A Llama’s Story Collection. Imagine being on an episode of The Office when the camera pans over to you and you look meaningfully into the camera and raise your eyebrow, you and the audience both roll your eyes, then you go back into the scene. Look at your coworker with a raised eyebrow and laugh, and if he says something say oh I thought you were doing a caricature impression of mansplaining, that was well done!

      Basically lower the stakes around the things it’s possible to do that with.

      1. NaoNao*

        I did ask them to keep me on file for higher-level roles and ask them if they needed any contract work to please be in touch, so there’s that!

        And I am working on my “off ramp” plan of (hopefully!) transitioning to full time author so I really try to refocus on that when I can but very good call on all of that thank you.

    2. E*

      I like FVM’s ideas! Just to say there are also a lot of non-profits that pay well. They might not be as cool as the one you interviewed at, but you might still be able to find an option other than staying at current hated job and drowning in your bills for a job you like.

      If posting salaries isn’t required where you live, register for a free Guidestar account — all non-profits have to file 990s and list their highest-paid staff. Depending how high up you’re looking / how big the org, that can give you an idea of salary ranges or at the very least whether the top tier is not making a lot, which would mean you wouldn’t either.

      Also make sure to consider full benefits package — some non-profs more than makeup for salaries with amazing benefits like fully paid insurance for you and dependents, or lots of time off where you could maybe do consulting on the side, etc.

    3. Ama*

      The nonprofit probably was upfront about the salary because they recognized that that could be an issue — it’s much better that you didn’t waste either your time or theirs hoping maybe they’d come up when they were clear they couldn’t.

      I’m at a nonprofit — we had an experience a few years back where someone coming out of the private sector insisted upfront that they were fine with the salary we could offer and then when it came to the offer stage they wanted 20K more than we could handle (we’d already come up 20K above what we’d initially budgeted for that position to try to meet them in the middle because they were that great of a candidate). I totally understood, but it would have been a lot less frustrating if they’d just said upfront that they couldn’t make the salary work for them.

      I also understand where you’re coming from — I’d really like to move out of the science nonprofit sector where I currently work to a more arts focused nonprofit, but that part of nonprofit doesn’t pay anything close to what science nonprofits pay and I can’t afford that big of a paycut right now.

    4. My Brain is Exploding*

      Make some kind of chart and mark off every bill that gets paid! That’s making progress to your goal! Every paycheck you are a step closer!

  48. TechWorker*

    Toilets…. Our office has 1x 2 stall gender neutral bathroom, 1x 1 stall + urinal men’s bathroom (when I joined I was told I could use it if I wanted, but I haven’t, some women have used it in the past) and 1x individual women’s bathroom. Gender neutrality is a factor of us historically having barely any women vs being particularly aware of people who want a gender neutral bathroom, but from that perspective it works out ok.

    We now have more women, a number of whom are not comfortable using the mixed gender bathroom, which can lead to queues for the single stall bathroom. Our office manager came to me saying she was going to have to ‘have a word’ with one employee who seems to use it a lot. The office manager thinks probably for ablution as said employee is Muslim. I don’t think we should be policing people’s bathroom time at all (& seemed to convince her mentioning it wasn’t a good idea)… but – was that the right thing to do? I don’t see our building magically growing more bathrooms so I don’t really see the solution beyond ‘suck it up and wait’ or ‘suck it up & use the gender neutral one’.

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      No they should absolutely not be policing people’s bathroom time. If there’s an issue with long waits, then they need to create more bathroom options.

      1. rayray*

        I agree. It’s super weird to monitor how frequently people are using the bathroom. Whoever is doing that should probably have their job description looked at, I can’t imagine “bathroom monitor” or “babysitter” is any of their responsibility.

        If the number of available bathrooms isn’t suiting the needs of the company, that should be looked at.

        Curious, do both bathrooms lock for a single occupant at any time? I am wondering if that is why some women aren’t comfortable with the gender neutral one – they don’t want to see a man at the urinal if they use the stall. Would it help at all if both bathrooms locked for a single occupant?

    2. Cookie*

      Ablution is a legitimate reason for using the bathroom anyway, so it doesn’t matter what this person “suspects,” and maybe someone in HR should point that out to them.

      For whatever reason, there are not enough toilets for women, and THAT is the problem, not any one person’s reason for using a bathroom.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      Can the company switch so the 2stall bathroom is a women’s room and the individual bathroom is the gender-neutral bathroom? That would be the same number of stalls open to women as their are now and fewer open to men, but more options for the women who only feel comfortable in a women’s bathroom, so I’m not sure if that would cut down on the queues but it’s worth exploring the option.

    4. Hlao-roo*

      Can the company switch so the 2stall bathroom is a women’s room and the individual bathroom is the gender-neutral bathroom? That would be the same number of stalls open to women as there are now and fewer open to men, but more options for the women who only feel comfortable in a women’s bathroom, so I’m not sure if that would cut down on the queues but it’s worth exploring the option.

      1. TechWorker*

        Yep this is the obvious next option. The confounding factor is that we’re approx 80%+ men still and idk how well it would go down if men working next to the mixed gender one then have further to walk. And it’s arguably ‘worse’ for people who *want* a gender neutral bathroom & have even further to go.

    5. RagingADHD*

      Have the women waiting in line not yet figured out that if two of them go into the gender neutral bathroom together, then nobody else will be in there with them?

    6. WellRed*

      So there is more than one woman who prefers the single gender bathroom and therefore creating lines and your manager wants to single out the Muslim woman? Am I reading correctly?

      1. TechWorker*

        She is very much not my manager, she is the office manager. And I think she took the advice that she should not bring it up (but checking with me first was by chance I think..).
        She has been involved in sorting out accommodations for our (two) Muslim employees (eg prayer room), and made some reference to having sorted out some ‘other solution’. So I think her motivation was ‘why are you still using the bathroom for this when we’ve found another option’. Which is still unreasonable because a) she might not be! She might have been having stomach trouble or all manner of things we shouldn’t be policing, & b) I can’t see any space other than a bathroom that locks being private enough tbh.

  49. Kramerica Industries*

    I’ll be mentoring in a “speed mentoring” event where students have 10 minutes with each mentor. The topics are driven by the students and can be on anything, but will typically be from Business fields. Any tips on how to be an effective mentor during this quick time?

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      What are your goals? Of those, what is your top goal? What steps are you taking to get there? Who are you in contact with (or have access to) that can be a support? How will you know when you’ve reached your goal?

      What obstacles do you foresee? What is your biggest obstacle? Summarize that in one sentence. Why is that a problem? What is the cause of that problem? What is the cause of THAT problem? Repeat as needed till you get to the root. What needs to be done? What’s the first step of that? When will you do it? How will you know it is done? (Often asking the questions in this way makes the solution obvious.)

  50. CorgiDoc*

    My partner was laid off in January and has been job searching since then (software development). He has had seven interviews in the last three weeks which were scheduled by the company but never happened. Each time the virtual interview was set for a specific date and time and then the interviewer never showed up. He tried calling and emailing at the time of the interviews and after the fact but hasn’t heard a peep from any of them since.

    I know some of the jobs he’s applied for have hundreds of applicants so is this just companies being jerks because they can and not bothering to let him know they’ve gone another way or just terrible bad luck?

    I think we’re all used to not hearing back from job applications by now but to be ghosted completely after an interview has already been arranged seems like terrible practice and totally unfair to me.

    1. rayray*

      I have heard about it happening to others especially in that field. If you look at the subreddit Recruiting Hell, you will see many posts where that happens to people.

      I had one where they never called for the phone screen. I emailed the person scheduled to call, didn’t hear back. I emailed the company’s talent acquisition email and then she finally arranged for another call. During that call, she seemed as if she could not be bothered or care any less to talk to me.

    2. Nicki Name*

      That seems unusually bizarre. I’m in the same industry, same situation, and I’m noticing that people take longer to get back to me this time around but I have yet to be totally ghosted for an actual scheduled interview.

    3. WellRed*

      I know nothing about tech but 7 no show interviews in three weeks makes me think something is wrong on your husband’s end.

  51. pretty purple platypus*

    Interested on others’ take on this! A while ago I worked with someone who, every time any coworkers would tell a story about their kids (funny, cute, gross, whatever) she would always end with, “I’ve always said that my coworkers are the best birth control!” – that kind of always hit my ear wrong since she was basically responding to anyone’s story about their own kids as “wow, that’s so off-putting, how YOUR kids behave makes me not want any of my own!”

    This was a while ago and relatively harmless in the grand scheme of things, but I’d love to get others’ read on if this is as off-putting as it appeared to me. This coworker was problematic for a number of other reasons so I don’t want to label her with poor social office etiquette just because of this if I’m wrong here.

    1. sam_i_am*

      As a person who vehemently does not want kids: that is a really weird thing to say!! I could see maybe saying it once jokingly to a friend after a particularly egregious “kids are hard” story, but even that’s pretty on the line.

      1. Tai*

        As another person who vehemently does not want kids, I would never say that aloud! Except maybe in private to my spouse (who feels the same way about not wanting kids).

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Oh dear lord. I don’t want to ever get married again, but I’d come off as a tone-deaf clod if I started responding to coworkers’ stories that mention their spouses in any way (good, bad, funny) with “I’ve always said my coworkers’ marriages help me not want to get married myself!” or to dog or cat stories with thanking them for helping me continue to not want a dog (or cat) of my own? Like what the heck?! Yep, definitely off-putting.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      Agreed that it’s an off-putting comment. It’s insulting the children (and/or the parents, depending on the story)!

    4. RagingADHD*

      You coworker sounds like a try-hard who hasn’t realized that nobody laughs because it isn’t that funny, so she just keeps saying the same joke over and over.

      Like a bad SNL sketch.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        This. The joke gets old whether it’s about kids, pets, spouses, whatever. Time was that nothing chapped my tail feathers like the guy who would respond to any mention of a TV show with “What’s a TV, herpaderp?” like somehow only using his TV to play video games instead of actually watching shows made him superior.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Yep, this reminded me of a coworker who once announced to the whole office, “just because I have the plumbing, doesn’t mean…” I don’t even know what she said next, because my body went “lalalala, I can’t hear you” and blocked off the rest. I’m sure she thought she was being hilarious!

          It was far from the only time that coworker said something utterly unprofessional, so I only worked with her for a couple of months until one morning at the daily standup we were told “We had to let go of Tangerina”.

    5. Irish Teacher*

      That is really weird and pretty offensive. I could understand it if it was just in relation to gross or mildly irritating stories (I mean, stories about mild irritations like “my child woke me up at 5am this morning and would not go back to sleep, so I’m exhausted,” not stories that irritate the listener!), but it sounds super-rude to reply to somebody telling a cute story about something adorable their kid did with that response – heck, I don’t have kids, but if I were talking about my nephew and how adorable he is and somebody said that, I think I’d be kind of offended – and even worse if the person is telling a serious story about their kid being evaluated for learning disabilities or getting in trouble with the police or something. In the latter case, it would really sound like “I’d be afraid of getting a child like yours.”

    6. Frankie*

      Weirdly reminds me of boomer humor–“old ball and chain” type jokes about how marriage is suuuuuch a drag!!

      It’s really inappropriate for a work environment and actually, depending on how it’s delivered, I’d maybe feel weird if an acquaintance said that repeatedly. I feel like I’ve heard something like that jokingly and it came off fine and more as commiserating/sharing than “me vs. you all,” which is how this sounds.

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*

        I get the same vibe! Parents aren’t sharing those stories as “oh man parenting is the actual worst”, they’re sharing because the stories are funny. Or cute. Or because then sometimes you have a shared round of “we’ve been there!” reassurance followed by useful advice. They’re not sharing those stories to be told “wow, you made a terrible life decision, let me be superior to you because I didn’t make this life decision”.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        OMG, it just dawned on me, but yes, same vibe (and I say it as someone who isn’t married, didn’t enjoy being married, and doesn’t want to get married again, but cannot stand the ball and chain jokes.)

  52. sam_i_am*

    I’m currently in a waiting game on a promotion. I was initially told it would be last month, then promised that it would happen sometime this month and be backdated to the first of the month. But it hasn’t happened yet and I’m losing hope on it getting done before the end of the month. Right now, it’s just caught up in bureaucratic/hr red tape because it’s a new position for my division.

    I really, really love my job in a lot of ways, but I’m getting to the end of my rope on this (and the fact that I’m underpaid and will probably continue to be). I know it’ll happen eventually (the fact that I need a promotion has been accepted by HR, the job description and compensation are what’s in question). I guess my question is: should I wait until I get the new job title to apply for jobs? It should be a pretty substantial boost in title. Plus, my current title isn’t very “standard” to anyone outside my employer, and I think the new one will be more in line with other employers’ titles. I recreated my resume using what I think my new job title will be, so I have a new draft in hand ready for the promotion to officially go through.

    Right now, I’ve set my linkedin to “casually looking” and responded to a recruiter who reached out, but I haven’t actually applied to anything.

      1. sam_i_am*

        Thanks for the advice! That’s what my gut instinct was, as much as the fact that there’s nothing I can do at this point is killing me.

        There’s also a real possibility that all this frustration goes away once I get the promotion. It could just be a frustrating circumstance that will end.

        1. cardigarden*

          I’m dealing with this right now, too. I love literally everything about my job, but my commute is 2 hours each way and I’m fully burned out wrt my drive. My promotion won’t go into effect until the new FY in July but my mantra for the last little while has been “the new title is really good, wait for it, it’ll set you up better later”. (The wait is definitely still frustrating though.)

          1. sam_i_am*

            Good luck with the wait! A 2-hour commute sounds pretty awful.

            I’m doing alright with the frustration most of the time, but on Fridays it hits me with a “Yet another week gone by with no news.” I prompted my boss to see if there’s anyone further up the chain in HR we can be in contact with. So we’ll see if we can push a bit harder.

  53. rayray*

    What do you think of those job interviews you have sometimes where it seems as if the interviewer isn’t actually interested at all? I don’t know if my recent experience was that the guy just didn’t like me, or maybe just had no interview skills but it was not a great interview. He didn’t ask good questions, some of them seemed like he probably just heard them before and asked them, (“Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”). It’s funny because my phone screen with the HR rep a couple days before was probably one of the absolute best phone screens I ever had. She was awesome and so easy to talk to, I was feeling so good about the role until my Teams interview with the guys the role would work with.

    The HR rep did email me personally to let me know they weren’t moving on with me, and I wrote back basically saying I didn’t feel the role would have been a great fit anyway but would love to hear of any other roles that may open up. We connected on LinkedIn, so we will see if I hear back.

    1. Another freelancer*

      I’m sorry that happened. It’s happened to me too and what has helped me is to step away from speculating why an interviewer appeared bored. It could have nothing to do with you.

    2. Parenthesis Guy*

      May just be a bad interviewer. Interviewing is a skill like any other, but doesn’t necessarily translate to work experience.

    3. Hand wash only*

      I had one of these disengaged interviewers but fortunately they were just one of several interviewers. He finally perked up when I mentioned a local hiking trail :/ Found out later (I got the job) that he retired shortly after so he was truly uninterested. It was a looooong interview.

    4. Irish Teacher*

      In teaching in Ireland, it usually means somebody on the staff needs to have their second interview so they can be offered CID (basically a permanent contract) and they are rounding up some other people to interview to tick the box.

      I was quite annoyed at one particular interview I had that lasted all of three minutes, after I had travelled over two hours for it. If they were just ticking a box, how about…choosing people from nearby (the interview was in a large city, there was no chance they didn’t have closer applicants and my address was on my CV).

      It could also have just been a bad interviewer as interviewing is a skill and…a lot of people aren’t that good at it.

  54. Cookie*

    What does the weasel word phrase “comfortable with ambiguity” really mean in a job posting? What does it say about the organization?

    Does it mean something different in a salary review for the job you already have?

    1. Decidedly Me*

      While we don’t say this in our job postings, we do talk in the job interview about being comfortable in situations where things aren’t always exactly spelled out. We have support-based roles that are traditionally more script-based at other companies and we very much aren’t. There are guidelines for different things, but approaches vary and that’s part of our brand style/voice. Additionally, the industry changes frequently due to things outside of our control, so being comfortable with something working one way today and another way tomorrow is important, as well.

      In a salary review – I’d be looking at how someone handled those things. Did they adjust to updates in a timely manner? Do they understand how to handle different scenarios in their own voice or do they rely on creating and using their own scripts that don’t fit the scenarios individually?

    2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      IME it can mean a number of things. Some better than others. In job interviews, I try to sort out which kind we’re talking about:

      1) Ambiguity about processes and outcomes is the okay kind for me. I work in a strategic/creative field, and the work is inherently ambiguous in this way — we have a general plan but often grope through it one step at a time without knowing where it will lead. You have to be willing to operate without complete info and be adaptable. I’m good with this, but someone who like a lot of structure and predictability may not be comfortable with it.

      2) Ambiguity about roles, responsibilities, and expectations is a whole other beast. Not knowing who’s doing what, or to what end. Not knowing where my company is going or where my work fits. This kind I run away from! And there’s a lot of this out there.

    3. Green Tea*

      I don’t really see it as a weaselly phrase. I’ve mainly seen it used to mean that people need to be comfortable navigating how to move forward when there isn’t a clear right and wrong answer.

      If it came up in a review for a job you already have, I would guess you are seeking guidance on tasks or issues that they want you to really own.

    4. FashionablyEvil*

      I find it means that you need to be comfortable making judgment calls and setting priorities yourself and that there won’t always be a right way to do something. I don’t think it’s particularly weaselly, especially if it’s for a role that would normally be more structured.

    5. Qwerty*

      It means that there are going to a lot of unknowns in the work that you do. The role might not be fully defined or the projects may be vague. When your boss gives you a task they won’t have all the details on what the finished product should be or what a successful result looks like.

      Basically, can you take a task and run with it, filling in the details on your own?

      How much you have to fill in on your own really depends on the job and why they are posting it. I’ve had a role before that wasn’t fully defined, so everything was ambiguous – part of the job was to figure out how to best serve the org. Sometimes job postings overcompensation for previous employees that didn’t work out, so it could just mean that a previous person really needed all of the details spelled out for them.

      1. Rinn*

        “Sometimes job postings overcompensation for previous employees that didn’t work out.”

        I think this is happening in like 80% of job listings. Honestly I take it as kind of a warning that there could be organizational dysfunction at that employer.

    6. Rex Libris*

      In the one job I (briefly) held where this phrase was used, it meant “Must accept absolute chaos at all times, with vague, poorly defined duties, little to no training or communication from your supervisor, and severe repercussions if you don’t correctly guess their unvoiced expectations.”

      I’m sure situations may vary.

  55. Project Management Info?*

    What type of software do you need to know and what certifications do you need in order to go into project management?

    A few weeks ago, someone said they went into project management from teaching, and it was a good fit; I’d like to learn more about what that entails and what I need.

    I can’t go back to college – already have a B.A. and an M.A. in English literature – but I can look into trainings and certification courses ….

    1. EMP*

      Not a PM myself but ours use Atlassian suite/Jira. Seems to be an industry standard and there’s probably courses on it.

  56. End of the road?*

    How can I tell if I’m not employable anymore? I’ve been in my current software engineering job for ten years. This is my 6th job in my 25+ years in the country, 3rd since 2000. Current job is mostly alright, but the company is kind of chaotic and I was hoping to find a healthier place to work out the rest of my career. However, right now my field is plagued with layoffs and hiring freezes, and by the time all that ends, I might be too old to be hired by anyone, if I’m not already? I am good at what I do and at learning new things, and have been interviewing more or less regularly over the years (maybe 2-3/year – not actively looking but keeping an eye out for something good) and it just recently occurred to me that, many many many times over the past 15 or so years, I’ve been turned down from a job with explanations that sounded odd and kind of made up to maybe cover up for the real reason (e.g they’ll tell my recruiter “she hasn’t done any new development recently”, but the company hasn’t ever done new development and the job isn’t for new development – that type of thing.) I’m a woman in a field that has been hiring primarily men until recently. Maybe I’m just… done? I’ve been trying to structure my professional development around the idea of being able to find another job quickly if needed, but maybe that’s just not in the cards for me anymore? I am in the mid 50s.

    1. Prospect Gone Bad*

      How are your technical skills? You sort of dismiss recruiters talking about your technical skills and that’s a big leap to make; middle age men deal with the same thing. Heck, younger unskilled workers do too. You comment makes it sound like you think it’s the employer’s responsibility to do development, not your responsibility. You also don’t see the full candidate pulls. Most people who’ve hired can attest that everyone thinks they are super unique and skilled and they don’t see that there are in fact piles of better resumes. Yeah, they may make it to the top 10 but that isn’t going to translate into an offer

      1. End of the road*

        I’m going to keep the detail down to “I am good at what I do and at learning new things” and I hope you can trust me on that one. I don’t want my comments to make me identifiable to a coworker who might find this. Thank you.

      2. Barbarella*

        She’s in software, so when she talks about new development, it should be read as “new software development.” Whether to engage in new development or sustainment/maintenance is very much the employer’s responsibility and very much not the individual contributor’s call.

        She mentions “structuring her professional development,” so let’s take her at her word that she does work on her skills.

        1. End of the road*

          Right, I meant things like a place wanting someone to make tweaks and fixes to Theriot legacy stuff, that only has the legacy stuff and plans to stay that way, then turns around and goes “we cannot hire her because she’s only been working on existing apps and hasn’t created anything new lately” which I’ll admit it took me close to ten years to realize that it might be a cover-up for something else. I’ve gotten this a few times and it never made sense to me.

          1. Barbarella*

            Honestly, though, if you hear that a lot, it might be worth building a personal GitHub portfolio where you work on new development. But you don’t have to if that sounds like a downer. Maybe you aren’t getting offers, but you are getting interviews which is more than I have ever gotten even as a young person. So I feel like you are doing something right. ;)

            1. Don't Call Me Shirley*

              Honestly, for a senior that really doesn’t help. You can’t negotiate with internal customers and coordinate with colleagues and otherwise work on projects bigger than one dev can do on github by yourself in the evenings. So much complexity comes in when you aren’t a one person shop, and that’s where good 50+ year old folks shine.

            2. End of the road*

              Thank you – that was one example that popped into my head – I’ve gotten a lot of varying feedback in the past.

              I have also sat in on panel interviews and the discussions after and I’ve heard my boss give us reasons why he didn’t want to hire a candidate that wouldn’t get past HR, so I bet those people were told something like “not a fit” or “we want 5 years of experience with X platform and you have 4”. Some examples…

              – accent too thick
              – too good, will leave (this one is my personal favorite…)
              – she said she moved to the area for her husband’s job, what if her husband has to relocate for his work again?

    2. Barbarella*

      “many many many times over the past 15 or so years, I’ve been turned down from a job with explanations that sounded odd and kind of made up to maybe cover up for the real reason”

      This is common. I never take the reason for rejecting me to be the real reason, and I never worry about what the real reason is. It could be that you are aging out, or it could be that while you are a great candidate, there was an even better candidate. It’s literally impossible to tell.

      I am painfully aware that age discrimination is a thing as I am in my early 50s, but I also see people my age (and older!) get job offers. Don’t decide that you are done. I would keep doing what you are doing—keep up with professional development and go on the occasional interview—and if something that seems like a better environment makes you an offer, take it.

      1. End of the road*

        Thank you (and everyone else). I was going to keep up with professional development regardless, because, honestly? It’s a fun thing to do.

    3. Parenthesis Guy*

      I can tell you that my team does technical work and we don’t take age into account. I wouldn’t think you’re done at 55.

      But your experience is your experience, you know?

    4. Unkempt Flatware*

      No I don’t think you’re done. I work public administration and I can tell you that the last 3 contractors we hired to manage our online grants portal (just the tech side of managing) were retired women. So they were likely the same age or older than you now. All three were fabulous and could have stayed on as long as they’d have liked to. I think your experience will speak for itself and that you can do more than you perhaps even thought was possible.

    5. Spearmint*

      My father is a software engineer who got his most recent job in his late-50s and it came with a hefty raise, it’s totally doable. He has worried about ageism over the years yet he’s always had a job.

      1. Rinn*

        To be fair this issue plays out very differently when it is a woman. Plenty of technology and engineering qualifications are picked up in non-traditional and non-linear ways. It is perfectly legit. The difference is that when the interviewee is a female, skepticism by the interviewer nearly always enters into the equation and when it is a male it usually does not.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          I have blonde hair and blue eyes. I feel that the perception of me by a random hiring manager who doesn’t know me went from “airhead too young to be taken seriously” to “dinosaur too old to be taken seriously” overnight. You cannot win when you’re a woman. I had two coworkers who were both in their late 60s-early 70s when they were hired, which is impressive! but yes, both were men.

  57. UnpopularOpinion*

    Anyone have tips on swapping between lots of meetings and refocusing on “actual work” — I usually have a meeting or two a day, but I’m on a new project and we are having a bunch of meetings and I’m having a hard time following up on work between meetings. My “just a couple minutes break” turns into many minutes and suddenly there’s another meeting and I haven’t done…anything.

    1. Noli me tangere*

      Do you have any power to reschedule things?

      Depending on your company culture, you can also try blocking off time on your calendar. At my company, people whose calendars are public (i.e., you can see the event titles; not everyone chooses this option) title these events something like “Focus time–please Slack me before scheduling during this time.” YMMV

    2. SwampWitch*

      I’ve been in that position before and depending on the team/manager of the project simply say “I notice we’re meeting about this project a lot. Combined with all my other project meetings, it’s hard to find time to do any actual work on the project. Can we have one standing meeting a week regarding this project and then ensure communication and assign duties using a productivity app like Asana?”

      Good luck, that’s a very tough spot to be in.

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      On days where the only “work” time I have is 30min between meetings – I make a post it note at the start of the day, with really oversimplified steps for my projects. Then it’s a quick glance down to pick one and finish it before next meeting, also reduces the “get up to speed” need to jump back into project.

      Like if project goal is submit update report for the month, the post it for between meetings that day is “Print last months report; address last months concerns; assemble figures; caption figures; outline text; add timelines; expand outline to paragraphs”. Whereas on a day where I have 2hrs no interuptions that task would just be listed as “do report” on my list.

    4. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I recently read a tip about switching to another task/meeting when you are not finished with something. Before moving on, write down the next steps for the task you are setting aside so that it is easier for your brain to circle back to where you were before the interruption. I’m giving it a try because I am really losing valuable time not being able to pick back up quickly.

    5. Overeducated*

      Yes. I’m there right now, have 30 minutes between meetings and picked out one task that should take less than 30 minutes, but…I’m having trouble transitioning to it. You are inspiring/reminding me to get off AAM and do it. I will probably turn on music, which helps bypass the mental resistance.

    6. Frankie*

      I work early in the morning when my head is clear and when I don’t have lots of meetings–when my day is back to back or lots of little meetings with small breaks, it’s hard to do much between that requires a lot of thought. I try to do low-lift things like clearing my inbox, etc., during windows that are too small to really make headway on anything else.

      I also try to catch up on lists for my 1:1s, team meetings, etc. Small tasks.

    7. Qwerty*

      Are you able to set expectations with your manager and take some of the pressure off? On meeting heavy days, I don’t expect my reports to actually get meaty work done. That’s the day to focus on the little stuff. *But* they need to speak up and say something – we do scrum, so it’s fine for someone to say their plan for the day is to attend Llama planning meetings.

  58. Is that a...?*

    My adorable coworker Martha loves decorating the lobby area and that’s fine but recently she got a little camper that sits on the welcome desk that you can decorate for seasons and holidays. Similar like you’d dress up a plaster goose, this is a little camper that sits on the desk that says “Welcome to our camp!” and has different seasonal stuff that comes with it. (we work in a public role like tourist information so it’s on brand but right were the public can see it) and the little camper is adorable but the problem is that the door that’s painted on the camper looks like male genitalia. There is an oblong door with two round shrubs on either side. So yeah. Martha just bought this for the office and she adores it, but multiple patrons have commented on it. We’re talking hundreds within a day. Nobody’s offended, they’re just like oh, that looks like a weiner. Should we have Martha move it out of public view?

      1. Anonymous Koala*

        This is hilarious. I would tell Martha about this and see if the camper can be modified in some way to eliminate this. Maybe flip it around, or paint over/ remove the door or shrubs?

    1. Barbarella*

      Can you permanently decorate the camper to cover one of the shrubs? Like, paint something square over it. And put an awning over the door.

      1. Barbarella*

        And btw, I can’t believe patrons are saying this to your faces! Or maybe I can. But to me, “that looks like a weiner” is something you say to your friends once you are away from the front desk or leave in a comment box if you think nobody at the front desk realizes. I would never bring up wieners to a total stranger. Too much potential for creepiness.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Can you just remove one of the shrubs? You could place a box over the shrub and paint it to be a tiny mailbox or something

      1. Barbarella*

        Maybe you need to replace your front door with one that has an oval inset on it and plant a couple round shrubs on either side. :)

    3. Aphrodite*

      What about buying a small dollhouse tree to put in front of one of the “shrubs” or maybe finding one or a few attractive rocks to glue in front of one of the shrubs? If she goes on Etsy and looks around for dollhouse items she will find a lot of attractive ideas and even quite a few utterly fantastic handmade ones.

      Also, where did she get this camper?

    4. Giant Kitty*

      I would not be able to stop laughing.

      I’m with those advising some minor creative modifications to eliminate the phallic look. It shouldn’t be all that difficult, depending on how it’s made.

  59. Vanilla latte*

    I have been interviewing for a role at a competitor since January and have been told that a decision will be made/offer extended by late February. This is a role and company that I was very interested in. I loved the hiring manager as well.

    It has been a few weeks since I had my last (and final) interview, so I reached out to the recruiter earlier this week for any updates they could share. Its been radio silent ever since.

    At first, I was disappointed, but then I felt at peace about it. If its meant to be, it will be. If I dont get the role, it is not a reflection of my talent or skills. And honestly, if I am not offered the job, its because there is a better one out there for me.

    Just sharing this in case someone else needs encouragement today.

  60. Little Beans*

    How do you evaluate seniority in salaries? I supervise a team which has 3 people at the same level. One has significantly more experience in our field and at our organization than the other 2, and honestly, we’re lucky to have her. She could easily get a higher-level role elsewhere.

    Recently, one of my other employees was going to leave and was offered a higher salary which we matched, and he agreed to stay. We increased the salaries of my other 2 employees to match, but now they all make the same amount, and my salary increase proposal for the most experienced person was denied. The proposal was based on level of responsibility, skills, etc (which are higher than the others due to her experience) but I was told that because they all got an increase and are toward the higher end of our pay range now, no further increase would be considered. Does this seem fair?

    1. Prospect Gone Bad*

      I usually don’t, years are just years. Some people flounder for years. I write out areas of responsibility and most people with more years have more areas they watch and do work in, and that’s what justifies raises and their salary. But it’s not automatic. If someone was mediocre for a decade, I am not rewarding that

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Salaries should be roughly the same for the same job title. If you need to be reflecting differences in experience often people do adverbs like “Technician”, “Intermediate Technician”, “Advanced” or “Senior Technican” with a pay change for each and clear levels in years experience and skills.

      1. Little Beans*

        We do officially have different levels with prescribed salary ranges and associated skills, but NOT associated years of experience. Also the salary ranges are huge and overlap, so someone who is a level 4 could be making less than someone who is a level 3. In part, that’s because we’re a huge organization with hundreds of people in this job title, and the actual duties and budgets aren’t the same in every unit.

    3. Parenthesis Guy*

      No. You should tell her what’s going on and that she should go elsewhere. Or you should try to promote her.

      1. Little Beans*

        I can’t promote her, unfortunately, she’s in the top level position for her role (but there is a very wide salary range for that role). She’d have to transition to a different type of role entirely, like a manager, to get a promotion. But this does make me think that I could propose making up an “unofficial title” like Assistant Director, even though her payroll job title would be the same.

        1. Unkempt Flatware*

          would that come with an appropriate raise, though? Nothing worse than being told your title will increase but your salary won’t.

    4. JelloStapler*

      Oooph this cuts close to home, as our organization made some salary changes that helped new employees and new hires but left experienced and tenured people barely making more than those new hires. Our HR also said “Here are the reasons” and all of them point towards things that SHOULD have happened (merit raises, for one) or did (good reviews) but didn’t equate to pay. Got a big “Eh thats how it is” from them and I admit it’s so frustrating. Especially when they also seem to be perpetually surprised when those people leave.

      So, in short- not fair but unfortunately not unusual.

    5. Girasol*

      The problem doesn’t have to be about squishy values like fairness but about cold hearted bottom line: what does the business stand to lose if she decides she could do better elsewhere and leaves? How much will the business lose in having to find, interview, hire, and train someone new? How much will you have to pay to get someone new at her experience level? If you can’t get that level of experience, what will the business lose by having to make do with someone who doesn’t have it? Can you explain to whoever decided to give the new folks raises and leave her out how the decision could cost the company?

      1. Little Beans*

        So far, it seems like my organization will only recognize this reality once someone actually has a competing offer and is about to leave…

  61. Unfettered scientist*

    Any advice for someone moving from academia to industry (pharma)? I just got a dream job working at a big pharma company as a scientist and I’m wondering if anyone who made the same transition has any advice or stories about things that surprised them.

    1. Pivottt!*

      Hi! So totally different industries, but I moved from academia (directing a student-support service and teaching) to a digital marketing role. The strangest parts to me are the lingo that everyone uses in corporate culture and the effort they put in to congratulate people on (what I view to be) pretty basic work. It’s nice but odd after an atmosphere of constant devaluation of work. Best of luck!

    2. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Not a scientist, but moved from academia to biotech 10 years ago. I love it, and hope you will too. I was surprised (in a good way) about how quickly things could get done compared to the university I was at. Also, I could ask for things that cost money and actually get them. I wasn’t familiar with things like GxP, validated information systems, and controlled documents or with the drug development process (I knew nothing about clinical trials) so there was big learning curve for me. The company I joined had a great 2 day class about the drug development lifecycle (through regulatory approval and launch) which was so helpful.

    3. Sutemi*

      Many of the scientists at your company will have made the same move after their PhD or post-doc so will be able to guide you.
      The goals are different – you have some room to follow your curiosity but the most important goal will be getting a drug that can treat people. Make sure you keep your eye on what moves the projects forward, and learn which projects have highest priority.
      If given a choice in academia, you will mostly spend time to save money. In biotech and pharma, you mostly spend money to save time.
      There are a lot of different types of scientists needed to make drugs. Learning what different people and departments do, and how they relate to your own work, is a great way to network and make yourself more valuable.
      I’m regularly amazed by how collegial and creative my colleagues are!

      1. Cedrus Libani*

        “If given a choice in academia, you will mostly spend time to save money. In biotech and pharma, you mostly spend money to save time.”

        This. Your time is now valuable. I flubbed this one repeatedly when I first went to industry. I was so used to optimizing for progress per unit of resources expended, but I needed to optimize for progress per unit of human effort. There was one instance where I was meant to speak for five minutes at a stand-up meeting, and I ended up talking about the same gel image for around forty-five minutes; I’d run at least three different experiments on the same gel (including re-use of the same wells), and the result could not be understood without going over the full history of how all those bands got there. Yes, I could have run two additional gels for a lot less than it cost to have a half-dozen scientists scratching their heads for an extra forty minutes. Oops.

        You will also have to care about patents / licenses / freedom-to-operate stuff. And the documentation, if you’re even sniffing around the edges of a regulated area, is intense. But on the plus side, your company should have experts to help with that, and with other infrastructure tasks as well, so you can focus on your core duties.

        In industry, group leaders have bosses who can and will fire them if they can’t act like grown-ups. This is SO NICE. I have stories that would curl an employment lawyer’s hair, but they’re all from academia…because in industry, guess what, the group leaders act like grown-ups.

        Despite all that, it’s less different than you would think. The day-to-day work of analyzing, troubleshooting, etc. remains the same, even as the high-level description of what you do shifts to a more short-term focus.

  62. Noli me tangere*

    In my department, Coworker and I are the only two people with a certain Job Title. We have to check each other’s work often and are the only people who can really do so. We are very friendly with each other, but Coworker is also a superstar in a way that I am not–she puts in extra hours sometimes and took on a certain arduous leadership role that I could have done, but didn’t. Her reputation is (deservedly) better.

    Last quarter I got into a bit of trouble with my Manager for insufficiently testing/QAing some work, accidentally making Coworker’s life harder. I felt genuinely bad about this and Coworker and I had a friendly conversation about what I could improve, and complaining about the quality of the data we had to work with. My Manager was happy with how I handled it.

    This quarter I’ve REALLY tried to be conscientious about laying out all of the steps for what I checked, and how, and the results. Coworker sent me a long, formal-ish message yesterday, saying that giving her that much to read also made her life harder! She gave certain tips for how to simplify things, but I’m confused because I’m already doing several of them.

    Is it reasonable to pull my Manager into this/get my Manager’s feedback on my work? I was proud of how conscientious I was being and felt like I had really learned from my mistake, and now I’m a bit demoralized and feel like I can’t win. I also don’t want to do a takedown of this message with my Coworker by pointing out the places where I actually did what she suggested–it feels unnecessarily adversarial, and I need to keep this relationship friendly.

    1. Parenthesis Guy*

      You can’t send someone 50 pages of QC. You need to send someone something easy to read so they can quickly look at it and know it’s right. And if you want to do 50 pages of tests yourself, then go for it.

    2. Decidedly Me*

      I don’t think you need to pull your manager into this. Talk to your coworker! Figure out together what works best for the two of you.

    3. SJ (they/them)*

      Hmmm, I don’t think you need to pull your manager in yet! It sounds to me like you just overcorrected this quarter.

      Next quarter, aim for halfway in between last quarter’s approach and this quarter’s approach, and see how that goes.

      I wouldn’t worry too much about your coworker suggesting things you were already doing. Try the midpoint of insufficient vs. really conscientious for next quarter and see how that goes! I bet you’ll get some useful info and can keep refining from there.

      Good luck!!

  63. Zap R.*

    My coworkers keep saying things like “I’m so OCD” or “This drives my OCD nuts” or “Zap, I love the way you organized this. It makes my OCD happy.” I have OCD – it’s severe enough that I’ve been hospitalized for it. How can I get people to knock it off without sounding like a total drip?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Oh hey could you not use “OCD” as a descriptor around me? I’d appreciate it. Thanks.

      You are a member of your own family, so if you wanted to say “A family member/friend has severe OCD so it makes me sensitive about people using OCD for organized” you could add that as well.

    2. Cheezmouser*

      Sometimes just saying “I actually have OCD and it’s not fun” and letting them feel like an idiot for a second is enough. I was talking to my neighbor and made a remark about how “people die from the flu all the time but the media doesn’t usually cover that” and she informed me that actually her sister had died of the flu. I was mortified. You can bet I never talked flippantly about the flu around her again.

      1. Cheezmouser*

        The comment above about “someone in my family” is even better. My point is, a little awkwardness for them may teach them to stop.

    3. fhqwhgads*

      I have it too. I’ve had some success when someone does this by responding with an “asking for clarification” tone: Wait, do you have diagnosed OCD or do you mean that as a euphemism?
      If they do, well, can’t really police someone’s joking about their own condition.
      If it’s the latter, they’ll either immediately show awkwardness realizing they shouldn’t have been doing that, or if they don’t, follow it up with “could you not?”
      At this point you’ll be done with the “dealing with a reasonable person” scenarios.

  64. Broken*

    Can I be fired (forced to resign) from a job for low performance caused by the disability sustained at the same workplace?

    I am a postdoctoral researcher at a university. About two years ago, I developed a repetitive injury caused by a certain aspect of my work. My boss and the university have been pretty understanding during this time. I went through many different types of treatments and a 7 month disability leave. Fortunately,  I started to feel much better and resumed my normal work, albeit more cautiously and with regular short breaks (ordered by worker’s comp doctor). Our original plan was for me to finish in a year, but my boss suggested to extend it for another year to make up for the lost time. She said she would apply for more funding to support the extra time and because of the importance of my project, it would most probably be funded.

    Unfortunately,  my injury started to get worse again. Last week, my boss told me that she thinks it would be better if I wrap up in a few months and take a year off to heal. However, it seemed like she was more concerned about paying me 100% of my salary for doing 80% of the job than for my health (which I totallyunderstand). I am here on a visa, and I have to leave the country if I take a break. Returning wouldn’t be easy. My plan was to becoem a professor here. Academia, however, is also notoriously unforgiving when it comes to taking breaks, and I am not sure if I could land a good job after a long break.

    I totally understand my boss’s POV. But I really felt blindsided and hurt after our meeting. It was 180 degrees opposite of what we had planned a month ago. I had to change my housing plans in the past week to account for the possibility of a short term stay. It ended up costing me about $5,000 (I am in a HCOL area). And ultimately, my injury was caused by the work I did partly for her.

    This postdoc position was a step towards becoming a professor, my dream job. Now, I feel like someone else is deciding for my life, and wants me to give up on my dream.

    Does anyone know of any laws (worker’s comp, disability,  etc) that could help me? I know if I can come up with the money she would be fine with keeping me, but it is much harder to get a fellowship in such a short notice. I am just wondering if there’s a way to ask the university to help out or support me.
    Forgive the rambling. I have been going through panic attacks for the past week, and I just feel so helpless.

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Barbarella*

      Unfortunately, even with a disability, you have to be able to perform the core duties of the job.

      Does your university have an ombud? I would try going through the disability office, but you might try the ombud as well. Your boss can make the call that the core job means performing at a certain output, but she cannot make the call that you need to take a year off to heal. That’s between you and your doctor.

    2. fella academic*

      Hm, I don’t know of any laws, but you might find it helpful to have a conversation with the Ombudsman office at your university, which can play a kind-of mediation role and is invested in ensuring that fair, equitable processes are followed. Usually you can provide a non-identifying overview of your situation, just as you did here, and they can give you an overview of the kinds of aid they can help with / you might seek out. You could also talk to HR, which handles disability for your university and is invested in ensuring that disability access laws are followed; they could provide more concrete advice.

    3. Anecdata*

      Are you in the US? The short answer is yes — if you can’t do the core requirements of the job with reasonable accommodations, they don’t have to keep you

      Depending on the injury, accommodations might be things like : voice controlled software, spreading your schedule out over more hours to allow longer breaks, etc

      Other commenters have mentioned a university ombuds, in addition, check if your school has an office of post doc affairs and/or if international student services serves postdocs. They may be able to help you sort through some of the visa complications and immigration issues

    4. The teapots are on fire*

      Did you report the injury through workman’s comp? It makes sense to try to go down that path if you haven’t already.

  65. vegan velociraptor*

    A quick one – I’ve just sent an application off for a job at the same company that my husband works at. If I were to get the job, there is a chance we would come into workplace contact or work together on some things, but it’s not the same role and we wouldn’t be hierarchical in relation to each other. He’s not involved in hiring/interviewing for the role.

    At what point in the application process should I disclose this? It’s not something they ask about in the application form, which I know some jobs do. Should it be first interview, second interview, after the offer?

    1. vegan velociraptor*

      And a follow-up – I have also applied for roles at rival companies/a company he used to work at (he works in an industry I’m adjacent to, that I’m hoping to enter). Would the advice be the same/different for disclosing if I progressed in those applications?

      1. DisneyChannelThis*

        On those unless there’s a form asking about it I wouldn’t. There’s not the potential there to become a hierarchy problem (Same company, if company does reorg or one of yall gets promoted there’s potentially an issue).

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      I’d disclose early. It’s an easy answer to how did you find out about our company ABC – Ah yes I’ve known for several years now that company ABC is a reputable leader in the industry blahblah, my husband works in Quality Control.

    3. E*

      Hmm I think it depends how much time you’re willing to invest in the process with the risk of them deciding it’s not a good idea, versus how badly you want to hook them. I think if you really want the job and don’t mind doing two interviews, I’d wait till either end of second interview or the offer stage. Then they get a chance to know/like you and are more invested in you, to weigh that against the cons.

      But if you want to save time and know up front if it’s a dealbreaker, lay out what you said here and ask in the first interview if they’d have any concerns.

      Also if it’s a big company, they may be used to having romantic relationships between staff members and may not mind at all.

  66. Nicki Name*

    Is there a job-description-writing principle that says you should put the critical requirements early in the description?

    If not, can we start a campaign to make it one?

    Currently job-hunting and getting tired of skimming through 3-5 huge paragraphs about the company benefits and culture before getting to the buried requirement that it needs 7+ years of experience in a technology I’ve never touched.

    (Also, LinkedIn’s “jobs that match your profile” search is not very good at finding jobs that match my profile.)

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      They do this because the market is currently tilted towards job-seekers, and they are in Sell-Sell-Sell!!! mode. It’s an arms race.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      I work in state government. It is very clear in job descriptions what is required & what is nice to have.

    3. Cookie*

      I think they are SEO stuffing.

      It’s like trying to find a recipe online and having to read through six screens of nostalgic wistful remembrances of the writer’s grandma and how she hand-picked peas on particular days in May with her ancestral pea-basket when the weather was just so, and then the whole family gathered around to shell them while listening to their favorite Debussy pieces – because of course this was in France and her older brother was a piano prodigy…etc. I’m like, just tell me how to make the salad. Same with job descriptions.

      1. JelloStapler*

        This made me spit out my drink.

        “Fifteen years ago I saw a wagon on the side of the road. It made me think of the Red Rider I got as a 3-year-old and how used it to take my dog to the creek by our house. Here is my recipe for short ribs.”

      2. WellRed*

        Too funny! Are recipe bloggers supposed to be that boring, wordy and redundant? Hey, recipe bloggers: no one cares, no one reads it.

      3. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        If someone finally starts a recipe site called “Just Get to the Fucking Recipe Already!” I will be their first, and most devoted, follower.

        1. Gathering Moss*

          This is probably more suited to the weekend thread, but there actually is a site – justtherecipe dot com – that will let you paste in a link and pull out just the ingredients and method for you.

  67. HBJ*

    Does anyone have suggestions for at home excel courses? Specifically, I’m looking for ones aimed at very, very small businesses that both have and use an inventory, do some manufacturing and provide a service. Think plumber or car mechanic.

    Currently, I do payroll in Excel and track our business expenses and revenue. We’d like to have some databases of parts. We’d like to do invoicing (I’ve tried to build one but haven’t gotten it to work the way I want). And who knows what else that I don’t even know about.

    I’ve googled and seen stuff from coursera and udemy but have no idea what would be best.

    1. Zap R.*

      LinkedIn Learning has lots of courses! It’s a subscription-based service but it might be a great investment for your company.

      1. Emily S.*

        I have access to LinkedIn Learning through my public library’s digital library. You should check to see if your library offers it.

        1. Emily S.*

          P.S.
          I’ve learned a lot about Excel on LinkedIn Learning, which I should have mentioned. In particular there was a good class about making charts. They also have very in-depth tutorials, and lots of more specific ones, e.g. pivot tables.

    2. irene adler*

      Might look at what your local community college offers. I took three 1- unit courses in Excel at my local CC that were online (beginner, intermediate, advanced). We had a textbook to work through. So there were weekly deadlines as to how much material we needed to cover each week.

      The prof was available should you get stuck or had a question or wanted more info on using any part of Excel.

      The book, from Cengage (might look at their website), turned out to be very well done. They set up Excel files as part of using their text. It has you work through a real-life example of a small business and how to use various aspects of Excel for this business. First they start very simple with setting up spreadsheets. Then they segue into creating inventories and other features (pivot tables and the like).

    3. Not my real name*

      Can I make a different suggestion? Quickbooks has all of that built in and is pretty user friendly.

      1. HBJ*

        Yes, we’ve considered that. Quickbooks is way too expensive for our needs with the size of our company right now. If it was still the buy it and own it until you decide you want to upgrade, then maybe. But the subscription model is out of the question.

    4. Jenna Webster*

      Check out your local library too. We offer LinkedIn Learning and it has a ton of excellent Excel classes, and you can take as many as you want at no cost to you.

    5. Just here for the scripts*

      If your company has MS Office it may/should have access to support.office.com which can answer many of your excel questions. Also ms office 365 training has free training by ms.

      But yeah, quickbooks and the like exist because what you want is not intuitively/easily created in simple excel. Keep in mind that the $$ costs up-front for quickbooks is probably less than the per-hour cost of having you create and maintain the home-grown excel version. And when you win the lottery and leave, your company will still have access to the QB stuff, but your excel file, stored on your OneDrive acct will be gone.

      1. HBJ*

        Wow, lot of assumptions there! First off, I’m looking for a training series or classes that takes me through a lot of what excel does. I am, of course, aware that tutorials for one-off answers exist, and I do that already. That’s not what I’m looking for now. We also don’t have 365, we have the software purchased and downloaded on our computer.

        Second, the software is owned by the company, is on a company machine, and the files are saved to company hard drives. Not sure why you think it’s on personal accounts.

        Third, I own this company with my husband, and we are building it together. Winning the lottery and leaving is not going to happen, and if it did, he’d be leaving, too, the business would cease to exist, and no one would need the files.

        We are a very, very tiny company. I’m not looking to spend 100s of hours building insanely complex stuff. It took me maybe 3 or 4 hours to build the payroll spreadsheet. Once we grow more, I’m sure we will use quick books.

  68. Hopeful*

    I have a clinical nurse manager interview coming up!!!!
    Can anyone hit me up with potential interview questions?

    1. AnonRN*

      If you’re an internal applicant, I’d expect you to be familiar with the organization’s resources and policies already and use the interview to demonstrate this (so if there’s a tuition payment program, how will you help your staff access it?) What kinds of quality [nursing quality like CAUTI, falls, CLABSI] programs does the hospital have and how will you support staff in improving quality? Are there specific challenges with the patient population served by the nursing unit? Are there union rules that specify elements of the staff schedules/holidays/OT/discipline?) If you already know the unit well, there are probably long-standing grudges (days hates nights, the techs don’t do any work, the charge nurses make unfair assignments) or issues you should be prepared to talk about. If you’re not an internal applicant, I’d expect you to demonstrate an awareness of these types of issues.

      As a staff nurse I’d like to know: How will you communicate with all staff on all shifts (both to share new info and hear concerns they may have)? How will you support the professional development of staff (both formal education/certifications and increasing clinical skills/precepting/unit leadership)? How will you recognize staff whose work is exceptional? How will you address unsafe clinical practice? What guidance will you give staff who have low-level gripes with each other (Laura’s rooms are always a mess! Alex’s patients are never up in the chair! Jean didn’t change their suction set-up on schedule! Max left food out in the break room!)? How will you help foster interprofessional collaboration between your staff, medical providers, and other departments (OT/PT, case management, etc)? (With that one, I want to hear that you’re going to stand up for the decisions your nurses make *if they are clinically sound decisions* and not always cater to the providers, but you have to find a way to say that professionally!)

      Good luck, from one who never plans to leave a bedside position for a management position! (I guess that’s a good question, too! Why do you *want* to be a manager? What elements of it appeal to you, especially if you are seeking promotion from a bedside position? What challenges do you anticipate?)

  69. Jujyfruits*

    Has anyone used FlexJobs and is it worth the cost? Does it have permanent remote positions or only contracts? Limited to specific fields? It seems like it might be a good resource for remote work but I don’t want to pay for it to find out there’s nothing in my field.

    1. SJ (they/them)*

      AFAIK you can see the listing titles without paying, you just have to pay to see the details & contact info. So finding out if there are opportunities in your field you should be able to do before making this decision! Good luck. I found there’s not much on there outside of IT but your mileage may vary.

  70. Anima*

    Thanks to you all who answered my whiny question about having a mentor assigned by my boss! It helped me to get over the barrier, and learning commenced smoothly.
    Special thanks to the one commenter who wrote (friendly) that I should get over myself, that was funny, because I even wrote in my post that I *know* I need a mentor.
    Full time work is not going to go away and I’ll probably find some way to cope, down the way. Thanks y’all!

  71. Count von T-shirt*

    We’re transitioning from our old ERP to D365 in the next few months.
    AP/AR started this week and there’s been a few hiccoughs. I’m on the inventory team, and although part of me is very interested to see how this goes, the rest of me is dreading it.
    Has anyone else starting using D365 for inventory control? Anything we should be watching for? We’ll be using it to monitor inventory levels at 300 stores and it looks like the change over is happening in august – the start of busy season. I’m having mild panic …

  72. Freddie Mercurial*

    Any advice on how to deal with/survive a manager who is already known to be ineffective? I have to stay in this role but want recommendations on setting boundaries. The manager is not good at their job, is not good at managing, and does not understand my job.

    1. Anon for this*

      I only can say I feel this! My new manager (new to me, new to my area, new to management) is similar! So far, mainly effective in making me want to consider other roles at my organization. Even better, he seems to be the kind of person who thinks managers automatically know more than staff. And I strongly suspect sexism in how he treats me.

        1. irene adler*

          How’s your relationship with your boss’s immediate boss? Any way to strengthen it?

          That can help favor you with the “how seriously we take the documentation regarding loser boss’s transgressions” aspect of things.

  73. Alice*

    Hi, seeking advice. Last summer I applied for a job in my quite small field (by “small” I mean I already knew the hiring manager and 4/6 people on the hiring committee). I did a first-round Zoom interview (not a phone screen, a substantive interview), they said “we’ll be in touch.”
    They did not get in touch.
    Three months later, someone I knew started the job.
    I was really ticked off that they did not close the loop with me after I did an interview…. But now I realize, I didn’t check my spam filter during the time I might have heard from them about either “let’s do another interview” or “we are going in a different direction.”
    Maybe they sent me an email, it got stuck in spam, and got deleted after 30 days. Do they think I ghosted them?
    Should I follow up? I’d like to be a candidate in good standing, so to speak, for future openings at that firm.

    1. Annony*

      I wouldn’t. At this point there isn’t a non-awkward way to follow up on whether they ever tried to contact you. If previous emails went through, the odds are that your spam filter didn’t suddenly decide to filter them out. The most likely explanation I can think of is that they were waiting to let candidates know that they had not been selected until the offer was accepted and then whoever’s job it was dropped the ball. If you want, you could always say that you were disappointed not to move forward in the selection process and express your continuing interest in the company next time you see them.

    2. ecnaseener*

      Sadly I think it’s more likely they ghosted than that their email went to spam. If it were more recent, maybe it’d be worth checking in to see if you missed an email, but not at this point.

    3. The teapots are on fire*

      I suspect if they didn’t hear from you after an email they would have called you, in case that makes you feel better about missing something.

    4. BRR*

      Nope, don’t follow up. If anything, I would guess it would hurt you as a future candidate to say “Hey, I interviewed with you last summer. I just wanted to make sure you know that I didn’t ghost you in case you reached out to me.”

  74. SJ (they/them)*

    Kind of low-stakes question here — I just got a verbal job offer for a start date the first business day after the long Easter weekend, which is great, and once I get a written offer I’ll give notice at my current job. My question is…. is it weird to say in my notice that my last day at work will be Easter Monday instead of the previous Thursday? I feel weird being like… yeah… pay me those stat holidays pls. oof.

    thoughts? just go for it?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      One thought is to check your employee handbook to see if you can find anything about the company paying/not paying for holidays when people leave. Some places might have explicit policies that you can/cannot be paid for holidays if you aren’t employed before and after the holiday.

    2. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Not weird to me, but I did choose Jan. 1 as my last day at a prior company so they had to pay out my bonus. Get that money!

      1. SJ (they/them)*

        I salute you for this!!

        I realized from another comment that I’ll have to put the Thursday, oh well. Thanks all for entertaining this question all the same!

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’d be really surprised if an employer agreed to that. I suppose you could try, but if I got that request I would just say, “Yeah, nice try” and make Thursday your last day.

    4. RecentlyRetired*

      You might be able to negotiate with your new company to start the following Monday, and have your last date with old company as the Friday after Easter.
      For many of my job changes (in the US), there was no health insurance for the days between my last day at old job and first day at new job. I tried not to change jobs over a weekend when I was driving farther than usual to visit relatives.

  75. Cheezmouser*

    What do you do when colleagues sometimes don’t do the best job and then you have to deal with the consequences?

    This week I got pulled into a rush project that was almost completed but my boss wanted me to write the final report. I had some context for the project but I started asking lots of questions because I was being brought in at the end. Turns out my boss missed some basic details at the beginning, like asking why the specs called for teapots with no spouts, how are you supposed to pour the tea? This resulted in everyone scrambling to redo the project one week before deadline, I was pulled into calls with the client to ask clarifying questions and contribute to the redesign, and the whole time I’m fuming because 1) this isn’t even my project, it was my boss’s, and 2) why did no one ask these very basic questions in the beginning?!?!

    This is just one example where I either get pulled in late to a project I don’t own and uncover major problems, or I’m told to hand off a project to a colleague (because I have too many projects) and then I hear back from the client that they’re unhappy with the results. I can’t be part of every single project to make sure it’s done well, but I also get annoyed when other (senior, highly experienced!) people fumble the ball and I’m brought in to fix the mess. Any suggestions?

    1. SofiaDeo*

      When this used to happen to me, I tired to think of how I had more job security than the folk they *weren’t* asking to fix others’ error ridden stuff. “Someone” in the department has to be the best, perhaps it’s you.

      So in this case, your boss on some level at least, knows you do a great job and will catch others errors, you are the “fixer”. Document this stuff and use it for a raise at evaluation time.

      I have no ideas how to deal with a client that thought *you* were doing their project but ultimately didn’t. Especially if they are complaining to you. If it’s just a more general “you know the client wasn’t particularly happy”, well, not all your coworkers are the rock star you are. Again try to think of a way this might be used to your advantage at evaluation/raise time.

    2. Spencer Hastings*

      I get a lot of work reassigned to me as well — Alice is out sick and a deadline is approaching; Bob was working on this, but the client wants it earlier than they said and he’s not available right now and I am; Carol leaves the firm and all her work has to be reassigned to other people. And so on.

      Usually, this all goes totally fine. But there have been times when I’ve been tasked with “just finishing this thing up” and it turned out to be way more work than it seemed — either because the original person hadn’t made as much progress as I thought they had (or thought they would’ve), or because they did some stuff incorrectly that I then had to do over.

      And it sucks because I now own this task, and if it drags (of course it’s going to drag, it is much less close to being done than anyone thought it was!), then I’m the one it’s going to reflect badly on.

      So, no advice, only commiseration. But SofiaDeo’s points were very comforting to me as well. :D

  76. Koalasaurus*

    Anyone have any advice for getting along with a boss you don’t respect? My new boss is not a bad person but I don’t like him – he’s constantly making jokes about coworkers, complaining about his kids, talking about “just being here for the paycheck” etc. and he has very little background in what I do, so keeping him updated is a challenge. I like my job and I need my boss to like me to succeed in this job. Anyone have any advice?

    1. JelloStapler*

      A common piece of advice here (and its good advice) is to try to pretend its a documentary or nature show and you are amusingly observing behavior in your mind.

      “And we would like the audience to take bets on how often Boss mentioned they are here for the paycheck. Ready? Go!”

    2. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      You don’t have to like him personally. Does he generally leave you alone to do your thing? If he’s not a micro manager type ask him how he wants information: weekly updates, written updates, high-level stuff only, or more detailed? Keep him informed of what you do and be personable, but don’t get too detailed. If he’s as you say, he’s not likely to bother you much hopefully.

      As for the complaining, just tune him out.

  77. Turingtested*

    I have been in management in retail, food service and office end manufacturing for a total of 13 years and I’m severely burned out on 2 aspects. Hoping for help/a reality check if needed.

    One aspect is helping people make peace with the unpleasant unavoidable aspects of having a job like work hours; deadlines; keeping track of their work etc. I’m just done helping people make peace with it. I didn’t invent this stuff and it’s something to make internal peace with.

    Second are mental health issues. I’m extremely understanding, flexible and never demand details about time away from the office, reoccurring appointments or sick days. I’ve been in an inpatient ward and I get it. But I get so damn frustrated when people use it as an excuse. As a manager all I can do is give people space to deal with their issues while ensuring work gets done. I can’t eliminate essential job functions because they’re triggering.

    From the above I probably seem like an asshole but I strive to treat everyone with kindness and respect, offer flexibility whenever I can and be understanding about life. But God I just feel like I can’t have another conversation about why jobs have requirements or how someone failed to get something done and didn’t communicate it because of mental health.

    Anyone been there? What do you recommend?

    1. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      Maybe try to transition into management in a field that’s not quite as rife with dysfunction as retail and food service. I have experience in both, and it definitely has some additional management challenges that you don’t see as much of in other fields. In the meantime, talk to a therapist about strategies for maintaining healthy emotional distance from work.

      1. Turingtested*

        Oh I’m happy to say I’m no longer in retail and food service. Part of my concern is that I can’t tell if my current burn out is due to previous experience or if I’m finally setting reasonable boundaries. I don’t want my current employees to suffer sins of the past nor do I want to be involved in “this is how you have any job” or mental health coaching.

        Your response makes me think my current approach is healthy boundaries and my concerns are a hang over from retail.

    2. 1LFTW*

      I don’t have any advice, unfortunately, just sympathy. You don’t sound like an asshole at all. You sound like a reasonable person who’s frustrated by unreasonable behavior.

      1. Turingtested*

        Thank you. I think my food service/retail years gave me a warped perspective on how much support staff need.

  78. KangarooJill*

    How do you deal with avoiding burnout when you have really truly just had it, can’t take time off without making things worse for yourself at work, and know that relief is hopefully coming soon…but no promises.

    I’m so tired y’all. Damn library for understaffing and underpaying for years, still expecting us to do an 8 person department’s worth of work with essentially 2 people. This is unsustainable. The only way to get out of the hole we are in is to hire and train new people, while still doing all of our normal work…oh and we can’t pay competitive salaries. I should just leave. But leaving would mean I can’t get another job in the specific section of libraries I work in, since there are no other jobs in my city, and I can’t move away since my partner has her job here that makes more money than I will ever be able to make.

    1. Anon for this one*

      So sorry you’re dealing with this! I am in a library-adjacent field and our requests for additional staff have been denied for almost a year now. I have decided to let my performance “suffer.” I am kicking as many cans as I can down the road. I refuse to work late, skip lunch, or otherwise compromise my wellbeing to meet demand, so the work is just piling up and I’ve decided not to wring my hands about it or continue tying my sense of self to the number of projects I can knock out every week. In every email to our internal clients, I explain that we continue to be short-staffed and thank them for their patience.

  79. MidwestAnon*

    It’s performance review time at work, and it’s my most dreaded chore as a manager.
    Unfortunately, my company has made things doubly hard this year by having to choose between 1 of 3 options, and I’m paraphrasing here:
    God-like
    Did a fantastic job
    Did not meet expectations

    Ideally, there would be something in between the second and third option for those that did pretty well, but missed the mark sometimes too. Now I’m struggling on how to bucket my team when I fill these out. I do provide feedback and constructive criticism in the moment, but having to roll up their work for the entire year and make it fit in one of these categories is proving challenging. If I had to have a couple conversations with someone throughout the year when their work wasn’t meeting standards, that doesn’t seem like they did a fantastic job. Yet, I can’t really say that the entire year did not meet expectations. If I just mark that they did a fantastic job with a note of some of the times that we had to talk about improvements, it seems like a slight to grade them the same as some others on my team who really did do fantastic work all year.

    Am I overthinking this? Anyone want to commiserate the bane of performance reviews with me?

    1. JelloStapler*

      We had a 3 scale for a while and had the same complaints so they made it s a 5 scale again. Worth mentioning!

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I just finished my team’s reviews this morning. I was really fortunate in that I legitimately did not have any team members who didn’t meet expectations, so that was nice!

      Some fellow managers and I were wishing that the overall ranking option had the same four-point scale that individual goals did, which was “Did not meet expectations,” “Partially meets,” “Meets” and “Exceeds” – instead we got doesn’t meet, meets and exceeds. So I think ours are at least a little better than yours. I also wish that they’d do a few more “scale” questions and a few less essay questions – the “rate yourself on a scale from 1-5” or whatever make it a lot easier to boil down to a ranking, while essay questions result in a ridiculous range of answers (I had some responses that were 1-2 paragraphs per question and some answers that were 10 words total across all three essay questions) and the value of the feedback is a lot harder to distill into an overall ranking.

      But in eight years I’ve been here, the process for reviews has changed seven times, so I’m sure it’ll be new again next year too :P

    3. River*

      We had a 5-point scale at one point and used it for many years. Based on our scaling system, we realized (years down the road) that someone that did not meet certain expectations would get the same or a slightly less raise than someone that checked off all the boxes and performed well. That’s why we moved to a 3-point scale, to make the points weigh more and so if you got negative marks in one or two or three areas, you got knocked down to the next raise level. If someone needed to have a conversation about their work performance and it did not improve, to me, that would be grounds to give them a lower grade. Then dependent on what else they failed to improve on, if anything, note it down, and change some grades as appropriate. With the scaling system at my company, if someone failed to improve on several things after having been given the chance to do so, it would most likely be smaller salary raise. Also, it sounds like you give your entire team a performance review not individual reviews for each person?

    4. KOALA*

      I can’t speak to it as a manager, but as an employee even though my job has a 5 tier review, getting a 5 is basically “God Like” and doesn’t happen so as employees we don’t take it personally if we don’t achieve it. The merit raise percentage is based on the score and I believe it’s like 2=2%, 3=2.5% and 4=3%. A 1 would be no raise because serious improvement is needed and the person would likely have been on a PIP already or being put on one, and I’ve never had a 2 so I’m not 100% sure it gets a raise either. So if your review system is tied into their merit raise, I would consider it more based on if you believe their performance warrants that level of merit raise associated to that level.

      As far as communicating to them: Outlining there have been changes and, if true, mention that the bottom tier is in line with generally meeting expectations with some room for improvement. That might make the people in this group feel less like they are being dinged.

      However if that’s not true or doesn’t align with what you want for their R