open thread – February 3-4, 2023

It’s the Friday open thread!

The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on any work-related questions that you want to talk about (that includes school). If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to take your questions to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please do not repost it here, as it may be in my queue to answer.

{ 1,170 comments… read them below }

  1. Rachel*

    I started a new job in July last year as a Senior Associate at a very large company. During the offer phase, they disclosed that the hiring manager was quitting at the end of the month. I was quite fed up with my previous position, so I bit the bullet and accepted the job.

    Instead of replacing him, the Director (my grand boss) moved a manager from another department and merged his responsibilities. It became clear very soon that my role was designed as ‘doing the lower level menial tasks and taking slack off of my new line manager’s plate’ as he’s now got a lot to focus on. The new manager openly admitted that he’s passing on time consuming stuff to me last minute and that’s the way the Director and himself planned the workflow.

    I feel like this doesn’t align with the position I was hired for. The job description in my contract is super vague so I don’t have a foot to stand on, but everyone has an overall consensus as to what a Senior employee would do in my endustry. My current tasks are lower level than my very first job as an Assistant straight out of Uni.

    The old hiring manager was aware that I was interviewing for a Team Leader position at the time and told me in my interview that looking at my experience I’d progress into that position in no time.

    Earlier in the year when we were talking about my development plan I mentioned this, and my new manager openly told me not to expect anything for at least 2 years.

    I also told him that the previous hiring manager told me that there were a lot of professional development opportunities and that the director would support if I wanted to enrol onto a course. I found one and gave him the details and they offered to cover less than 5% of the cost…

    My new manager wasn’t in my initial interview (probably a red flag I missed) so he tells me he doesn’t know what was discussed and can’t follow through the promises.

    I got quite disappointed in that meeting and said ‘Well I need to think what’s best for me in this case’. I implied I’d look for another job, probably shouldn’t have but felt quite betrayed and it came out. My manager had the attitude of ‘Yup. Understandable. Do whatever you like.’

    I don’t think they care about my employment at all. I don’t feel valued here.

    There’s a recession expected this year but I should I start the job search? I’m comfortable as my tasks are way below my level and I go in to the office only twice a week but career progression is very important for me. Many thanks.

    1. WiscoKate*

      Yes, start a job search. Do you have a reason to believe this job would be recession proof (as much as any job can be)? If you don’t absolutely need the stability, if there is any, it doesn’t seem like there is any downside to looking. They aren’t following through on their promises, you don’t like the work, and your boss doesn’t seem to care if you leave.

    2. DrSalty*

      That sucks :( I’m always of the opinion it can’t hurt to start looking at other options. The best time to find a new job is when you already have one.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      I think yes, start job searching. There may be a recession this year, but there’s really no way to tell if you’re better off (in terms of potential lay-offs) staying at your current company or moving to a new company. In terms of job responsibilities that align with your career goals, you are much better off looking for a new job.

      1. jane's nemesis*

        Agreed, with Hlao-roo, start looking for sure.

        And also, gently (and knowing I would likely have felt/said the same things), you already as much as told him you’re going to start looking, so you may have already put a target on your own back in case of lay-offs. Much better to already have the ball rolling on a job search if so!

    4. HB*

      Yup, start a job search. If you’re comfortable where you are it’s not like you have to jump at the first thing that comes along, but why stagnate if you can find another option?

    5. Parenthesis Guy*

      You have a good manager.

      Your manager needs you to do things that he realizes are different than you expect. He is unable to change these tasks. He understands this screws you over, so he’s done you the courtesy of telling you the truth and agreeing that you should go somewhere else if you want to progress.

      It’s not what you want to hear, but it is what you need to hear. And yes, you should be looking.

      1. Cheezmouser*

        +1

        Other managers with less integrity would string you along, promising to look into that promotion and then do nothing because they need you to perform your current low-level tasks. At least your manager has been upfront and transparent about what the company is and is not willing to do for you. Now you can make your decision based on facts, not false promises. It’s not what you were hoping for from this position, but better to know that now instead of sinking more time into this dead end role.

        1. cncx*

          Yup I had a manager with less integrity who tried to tell me lower level tasks were what I signed up for and that I could do what i thought my job was as « stretch tasks »

          This is a sucky situation for op but at least they got honesty. Also op, you don’t want to stay in this job too long because you could end up like me where I had to go down a level because no-integrity manager kept me down for almost two years.

    6. Person from the Resume*

      There’s no down side to starting a job search. You can afford be selective at this time.

    7. Finding a way out*

      I was in a similar position to you a few years ago. In a nutshell, my current role was ending due to a reorg and I was interviewing internally for a few roles. I ended up accepting a senior level position that turned out to be more of an administrative assistant role. The team’s admin was so terrible that the hiring manager wanted to get another admin to help. Long story short, leadership wouldnt approve an admin, so they merge the admin role with a senior position, and it got approved.

      The role itself was not what was presented to me during the interview process. I stuck it out for a few months, all the while interviewing for external roles. I landed a better paying role within three months and left the company. My advice is to do the same.

    8. Momma Bear*

      Dust off the resume. You have the benefit of being employed and having the time to find a good job not just A job. Sounds like your manager would rather you just stick to your lane than do any kind of growth. Many times if people are stagnant where they are, the only way up is out. Good luck.

    9. Double A*

      Most recessions are not the Great Recession. Even if there is a recession, it doesn’t mean you can’t job hunt. And the mere possibility of a recession should DEFINITELY not discourage you from job hunting. You job hunted during a pandemic; you can definitely job hunt during a might-be-possibly-coming recession.

    10. Jules the 3rd*

      Yes, start the job search. The impact of the possible recession should just be that you don’t quit without a start date at the new job. No quitting bcs you get 10 interviews and ‘surely one will work out’ – take your time, find the right job, and full steam ahead.

      Do put some extra time into researching the company. Avoid companies that are in the news for fraud / distrust (Adani Group, Credit Suisse). Make sure you check them on Glassdoor.

      GOOD LUCK!

    11. Despachito*

      I ‘d definitely look. And the fact that your work is not exhausting is playing in your favor here. You can take your sweet time and pick the best job offered to you.

      It is understandable you feel betrayed. Good luck!

    12. Bexx*

      If you’re unhappy and don’t feel valued, then you should absolutely start job searching.

      That said, there are a few things here that I actually think are pretty normal. At my current company (and many past ones) a Senior Associate is a pretty junior role. (Our progression is Intern > Associate > Senior Associate > Manager > Senior Manager > Director > Senior Director > Managing Director> C suite.) So it’s very normal for them to be assigned time consuming tasks to free up the more senior folks. It’s also a rule that someone can’t be considered for a promotion or a lateral transfer until they have been in a role for 1 yr, and generally, people don’t get promoted until they have 3 years of strong performance reviews under their belt.

  2. Burning Out on Burn Out*

    AAM
    Hi all. I have my first job interview in almost a decade today, I’m very excited and nervous. I have a couple of last minute questions that maybe you all could help me with.

    Question 1

    I’m looking to leave my Senior Director role at Company A, and I’m applying to a Specialist role at Company B (same industries). At my current company and the potential new company, it’s a step down in terms of pay and responsibilities. I just had a big life change and my current employer will expect a level of dedication from me that I no longer have. I think I finally just realized that things were not going to change and they basically just want me to work myself into the ground. We’re severely understaffed, and our last busy season really broke me. Anyhoo, I’m obviously not going to say all that (though it’s a little tempting, haha) but I’m a little stressed about how to answer why I want to leave my current company or why I would be switching to a lower level role.

    Is it okay to say that in addition to wanting a change and learning new skills, I also want a different pace and I have heard good things about company culture and work-life balance about the company I’m applying to? This is definitely true, but at my current company, which expects a lot of overwork, I feel like I’d get rejected for sounding like I didn’t want to dedicate every living breathing moment to work.

    Question 2

    What is something professionally challenging for you that you wish you were better at?
    My truthful answer is I wish I were more comfortable giving critical feedback to people. It’s something that I will do, but I get stressed/anxious when the person reacts badly. I worry about saying this, because I don’t want it to come across as if I absolutely won’t tell people how I feel or provide good feedback.
    Another option is at my current role I struggle to spend time on strategic department work because we are so understaffed that I end up being pulled into urgent day-to-day matters.

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      at my current company, which expects a lot of overwork, I feel like I’d get rejected for sounding like I didn’t want to dedicate every living breathing moment to work.

      It sounds like you should be actively screening against firms that are like this, so I vote for finding phrasing that expresses your desire for a better work/life balance, and then vetting opportunities based on how the interviewer reacts. If they reject you over this, isn’t that for the best anyway?

      1. Burning Out on Burn Out*

        Yes, I don’t want that. Maybe I’m overthinking it, or just brainwashed from my current situation? I guess my fear is that while this new employer doesn’t expect that IN PRACTICE, they still wouldn’t want me to directly state that in an interview.

        1. Not a Real Giraffe*

          I don’t think there’s anything bad about saying “your company has a reputation as one with a really great work/life balance, and that’s really appealing to me. When I’m at work, I am fully dedicated and a productive employee, but I also appreciate the ability to disconnect in my personal time.” Or something.

        2. PhilG*

          I was asked #1 in the interview for my current position about a year ago. I stepped down from a clinical coordinator role to staffing. My late wife, who had spent 25 years working in ICU/CCU had the onset of severe medical issues and within the year became blind, oxygen dependent, and confined to a wheelchair. My coordinator position required 12-16 hour days and call on weekends. Staffing let me work a set schedule and made caring for my wife manageable. I explained this when asked, and the hiring manager told me later that she appreciated my openness, which was a quality she was looking for in the team she was building.

    2. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      I think giving feedback is something everyone should work on all the time. NO ONE finds this easy and it’s fine to cite it as a … not a weakness but a thing you want to work on. Time management (which is what the strategic thing boils down to) is also a thing everyone can stand to work on. So both good, generic answers that don’t give the questioner a serious reason to avoid you.

      And yes, it sounds like you need to get out, but I would downplay the work/life balance factor in the interview stage, and instead focus on parts of the prospective job you find professionally interesting.

      1. Buffy will save us*

        I’ve really made an effort to do the negative feedback sandwich- positive thing about the person’s performance (if possible), feedback, positive thing. It makes the conversations less nerve racking.

        1. Not my real name*

          Personally, I hate that. I won’t even hear the positive thing, or at best it will feel insincere.

          1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

            Yes, and it also can severely sugarcoat the message you need to convey – Alison points out about weekly that clear communication, not blurring things, is kindness.

          2. Jay (no, the other one)*

            You’re not alone. I avoid the feedback sandwich. I try to give reinforcing (“positive”) feedback more frequently and all on its own. There’s research showing that in general the ratio of reinforcing feedback to corrective (“negative”) feedback should be about 5:1. I don’t keep track like that – I figure if I really can’t find more behaviors to reinforce than to correct, I have a bigger problem on my hands than my own feedback skills.

          3. KateM*

            I may hear postive part, but I am still left wondering which part of the sandwich was the actual feedback and which was a filler.

      2. RedinSC*

        I just went through this..start my new job in a month!

        For me, for Q1, I was able to explain why I wanted to go from CSuite back to individual contributor by focusing on the job and impact.
        1. I want to get away from daily people management so that I can do more of what I love to do, which is, say, llama grooming.
        2. This position is so attractive because of the deep knowledge I have around XField( local llamas and their special grooming needs) and I will be able to focus all my skills to move that forward for you.

        I got the job!

        For Q2, I think admitting that critical feedback is an area you’d like to improve on is good. You do it, but it’s stressful, and you’re working on ways to be able to do this so it’s less stress on you to get the best outcome for the person receiving the feedback.

        Good luck! You got this!

    3. Jujyfruits*

      Definitely don’t use answer #2 in an interview! The point of that question is to show self-awareness of how you overcame a problem. So talk about how you solve it. Rephrase the question in your mind to: What’s a challenge that you overcame and how did you overcome it?

    4. MigraineMonth*

      I answered question 1 in the cover letter, then in the interviews for my current job. I think I talked about wanting to shift into a less stressful job, but I think your wording is better. Maybe mention something about wanting to work less overtime. The most important part is to state that you understand that the role has lower pay/lower responsibilities and it’s a tradeoff you’re willing to make.

    5. former professor*

      Q1– Is there a way to reframe it as “right now, my role involves wearing a lot of hats [supporting a large number of clients/whatever makes sense in your role], and I’m really excited to be in a role where I can focus on [task you love/building deeper relationships with a smaller number of clients/etc.]”? E.g., when I left academia, I framed it as being spread too thin over multiple roles (teaching, mentoring, research, substantial administrative roles) and wanting to move to a position exclusively focused on research. (It also had the benefit of improving my workload/work life balance, but I think keeping it focused on “I want to spend MORE of my time on X” was more appealing than “I want to spend less time working.”
      Q2– I think talking about the challenge of giving feedback is great if you do it thoughtfully– e.g., I’m working on giving critical feedback to people. I’ve found that often I soften things too much because I am worried they will respond badly, but I’ve realized that it is better for everyone if I can be direct but still constructive.

      1. Burning Out on Burn Out*

        This is so helpful, thank you. There are parts of my current role that I enjoy but don’t get to do as much, and the role I’m applying to has a bigger emphasis on those aspects so I can focus on that!

        For Q2, I think what’s hard at my current job, and not sure if I should weave it in: everyone is so overworked, and way too much is asked of them. It’s hard to go to my direct report, who has been working so much overtime, for not enough pay, and then provide critical feedback about her not coming into the office enough (something my boss told me to do and I ignored). It just feels like kicking someone when they are down. Critical advice I did provide was for her to stop working so much overtime, but she has ignored that. It’s hard, pressure in so many directions.

        1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

          I think ignoring what your boss told you was EXACTLY the right choice in that moment. If possible, I would encourage you to go to your boss and say “When you asked me to encourage Francisca to come into the office more, you might not have been aware that she has been working really long and impossible hours for a long time, and that I have been advocating for a pay increase that she very much deserves. I think we need to find ways to put LESS pressure on her. How’s that request for additional FTEs coming along?”

        2. Jaydee*

          This is exactly what I did when moving from a role where we we were all overworked and constantly putting out fires and I was absolutely, fried-to-a-crisp burned out. I specifically looked at jobs that were adjacent to my former job (because I loved what I did) but more specialized. I’m a lawyer, so some jobs I applied for were ones where I would be specializing in one or two practice areas versus being more of a generalist. Others (including the job I ended up taking) were government jobs where I would be doing higher level policy or program management work. In cover letters and interviews I mentioned that I was at a point in my career where I wanted to be able to specialize more and either talked about my experience in/why I was passionate about X and Y areas of law or how I felt that doing policy work would allow me to have a more systemic impact on the issues my clients were facing. It worked! I’m now doing a fairly niche area of program and policy work that I really like, and my work-life balance is so much better. (Like, this past year has been more stressful than the previous 3 years, but I just keep reminding myself it’s still only about 75% as stressful as my old job.)

    6. Me ... Just Me*

      I think that Q2 is one that is good to answer as you have been, but also focus on how you’ve overcome the discomfort – they are looking to see how you handle difficult situations and you could always give before/after scenarios: “When I first became a manager many years ago I was more timid in my employee counseling sessions. Now, while still feeling uncomfortable, I am far more proactive and skilled at giving challenging feedback and holding people accountable. For example (scenario). It’s not something that I think anyone really feels comfortable doing, but I am finding that I have become very skilled at handling these types of conversations.”

        1. Me ... Just Me*

          And, you could even pitch it to coincide with your experience that you noted in a prior response here, “In my current work environment many of those reporting to me are beginning to burn out due wearing so many hats because we have unfilled open positions (that have become so common, post Covid) and I’m having to take that into account as I approach individuals to coach them. I really want to make sure that any coaching I do is truly addressing a problem that the employee can adequately be held responsible for and that is important to product delivery. This is a new level of nuance that I’ve only adjusted to in the last year.” … this shows recent growth in this area and the ability to adjust to new, changing circumstances.

    7. CatLady*

      Addressing why you want to leave, maybe something like: “I’m finding that the culture that is evolving in my current position is not one that suits me so I’m looking to find someplace that does. ” Of course they might follow up on that so you could pick a couple other dimensions of your company’s culture that you find annoying but are are easier to discuss.

      Then, you should have a list of questions that will help you probe their own culture which I know Alison has articulated elsewhere. They might be able to guess your true motivations based on these questions but given today’s environment, I’m betting you aren’t the only one asking about flexible schedules, expected onsite/offsite, strategies for dealing with workload spikes and so on.

    8. Laura*

      Since having to recover from burnout myself I always make a point of mentioning something about work-life balance in interviews. I had one recruiter warn me it might put some hiring managers off, but as far as I’m concerned that’s important information about how they think of work-life balance and I probably wouldn’t want to work with/for them!

      I’m pretty sure it’s paid off for me too – my last couple of jobs since instigating this policy have been so much better for me than the one that wore me entirely out. So I’d always advocate for mentioning it.

    9. WantonSeedStitch*

      I think it’s absolutely reasonable to say “I’m looking for a position at this level because I feel like it’s a better match for the kind of work-life balance I want right now than a higher-level position.”

      I wish I were better at project design. I’m actually sort of taking lessons from my boss right now on that subject. Basically, I want to be better at creating ways of getting from point A to point B.

    10. Venus*

      If you can, do a quick calculation about how much you are paid per hour if you account for all the overtime in your current job. If you get paid $75k a year and work 60 hours per week then in a way you’re worse off compared to if you get paid $55k per year and work 40 hours. Yes, one is more money per year, but it is also a lower hourly rate and harder to balance with long-term health. It would be unusual to describe it this way, because we don’t tend to think in hourly wages and my example would traditionally be viewed as a pay cut, but that might help frame it logically.

    11. Need Advice!*

      Since you are asking not about whether the new company offers what you want, but rather how the new company would take your honesty about your burnout in your current company, could you just say something like, “Current company is understaffed, has been for a while, and they have no plans to change that. I’m looking for a job where I can use the skills I have and not worry about putting out fires and constantly doing someone else’s work.”

    12. Burning Out on Burn Out*

      [Update]

      I had my interview, and I think it went well. The only negative thing, which I’m annoyed with myself, is I said “you guys” which is noninclusive language and I’ve been actively trying to teach myself to not say. I saw a post earlier this week about someone who was dropped from a hiring process for saying “you guys” in an interview so my paranoia level is high.

      I ended up mentioning work-life balance a few times, and I liked the interviewers responses to the questions. I hope I’m invited to the next step, but I won’t hear about it for about two weeks as they have phone screenings for ten more days. Wish me luck!

      1. former professor*

        Congrats! One of the things that I have kept as advice from academia is “celebrate every step” (e.g., getting a project funded is a road with a lot of rejections, so don’t wait to celebrate at the end– celebrate when you submit, when you advance in the review process, etc.)– so, I hope you get to celebrate the interview this weekend!

    13. Najek Yuma*

      As I hiring manager, I would be very hesitant to hire someone into an individual contributor role if they were coming from a Senior Director role. I’d be worried they wanted to move up or out very quickly, would get bored with the tasks, or have trouble not being in charge anymore.

      However, you basically have the perfect (true) reasons you don’t want to be a Senior Director anymore! If someone asks you why you want to move back into an IC role, I think the best answer you can give is what you’ve said here:

      “I’m looking for a position with good work-life balance, where I can leave work at work at the end of the day. I’ve found the demands on my time of a being in a senior management position to be more than I expected or want to continue with. Additionally, I’ve learned in my time in management that I’m really uncomfortable giving critical feedback to people, and that it’s obviously very important to be able to do that as a manger. So I’m looking for a role where I can move forward with the elements that I like about working, such as (insert pieces that excite you about the position you are applying for), without the demands of being in management.”

  3. Merp*

    Last year my direct report “Fred” quit his job to join a dubious organisation at a role for which he was clearly ill suited. I expressed my concerns diplomatically but he insisted this was what he wanted to do, so I wished him luck and pointed him to some resources to help with his next job. I also obtained a sizeable exit package for him, and he was aware I went out of my way to organise this. He repeatedly told me how grateful he was and what this meant for him.

    Fast forward to recently. I discovered Fred had actually told multiple people that he never quit, but that I fired him cruelly and out of nowhere. He also told people I refused to sign off on his final pay and when he was finally paid after fighting me for months I cheated him out of his bonus entitlements. All of this is blatantly false.

    This explains some of the odd comments from a couple of other employees after Fred’s resignation. I am angry, hurt, and flabbergasted. This is not a mere misinterpretation of actual events, but an outright lie.

    Being a manager I’m not in a position to go around to other employees, saying, “Hey, you know that rumour you heard about me and Fred – that’s not true and here’s what REALLY happened!” I’ve heard the advice about continuing to be professional and letting my behaviour speak for itself. But my observation is that no matter how hard you work to build a professional reputation, it takes very little gossip for all of that to crumble.

    I asked for advice from someone who is more senior and they said all managers experience some version of this and to write it off as a bad experience. But I remain concerned about how this affects my reputation. While I don’t have many direct reports I do indirectly have a lot of say over a large number of people’s jobs. I don’t want people to go around thinking I am a terrible person who might randomly fire them one day. And yes, I admit, I’m human too and I just don’t want people to think badly of me particularly over something that never happened.

    Help?

    1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      Oh, I’m sorry. No good deed goes unpunished, and so on.

      The only way, I think, is to live it down. After a couple of years in which you DON’T randomly fire people and DO continue to be an ethical and positive person to work with, most people will adjust their attitudes.

      1. XF1013*

        I’m kind of shocked that among so many replies, this is the only one specifically advising OP not to try correcting the record, since Alison’s advice is usually the same. Search the site for “former employee spreading lies” for several examples. OP acknowledged as much.

        If I was one of OP’s subordinates, and I already believed Fred, and OP tried countering Fred’s statements (no matter how generically or gently), I’d be inclined to think that OP was now lying to me on top of treating Fred badly, and it would damage my morale further. Fred appears to have nothing to gain by claiming he was fired and unpaid, while OP definitely has something to gain by claiming that Fred’s departure was handled well, so Fred’s story will hold more weight. OP cannot prove a negative, not without extreme measures like forwarding some old email exchange with Fred discussing terms of his departure, which will come across as unhinged.

        The “live it down” approach is not just about proving yourself by acting professionally and ethically. It’s also about simply letting the liar’s claims fade into memory, especially with future turnover at the company. This will eventually be forgotten.

        I know it hurts, OP. I’ve been lied about too. (A former boss told everyone how he fired me for being a terrible worker, after I quietly resigned and he pressured me to stay.) You sound like a great boss. Keep your head up, let time heal this wound, and take care not to let Fred’s betrayal subconsciously affect your behavior toward future resigning employees who deserve the same consideration that he got.

    2. I should really pick a name*

      What’s the context in which you came across this information?
      Where you able to set the record straight with the people who told you how he’s reporting the situation?

    3. Reba*

      I actually think not saying anything is the wrong move–you can see that it’s not just your personal reputation but also morale among staff that is affected. I’m not sure what reasons you have for feeling you aren’t in a position to correct the record as a manager, but thinking through exactly what constraints there are might help you come up with the approach for talking about it. To your direct reports, I think there would be a lot of value in saying you’ve heard there are some rumors, you want to reassure them that that’s not how it went down, and you don’t fire people out of the blue and punitively cheat them out of money owed. Like, you don’t have to counter every point of the lies or even name Fred, but I think you ought to forthrightly address it.

      1. Excel Jedi*

        I disagree with confronting it head on – it turns into a he said/she said thing.

        However, I think there may be standing to gently remind staff generally of certain things – like the fact that you use PIPs, or that you/the company is invested in making sure people are treated fairly and equitably when they leave, or that you’re not in the business of punishing employees. These things should be said in appropriate contexts, and not all at once – they should be part of reinforcing a culture that you’re already doing the work to make real.

        But I wouldn’t bring up Fred in particular. Rise above that, respect his confidentiality, and both show *and* tell your employees about your general mindset around ending employment.

        1. Bagpuss*

          YEs, I agree – maybe a general,

          “I’ve recently head some odd rumor’s circulating about what happens when someone leaves.

          I just want to clarify what the company policies and our usual processes are – both if someone leaves by choice, but also to briefly touch on what would happen if anyone were fired (if it’s true, you could add ‘happily, in this department, we’ve only ever (or, in the last x years) had people leave by choice, but I did want to go over the steps that would be taken before and after anyone was fired”

          OR you could chat to HR or to your own boss- they might be in a position to have that chat or circulate something which could be a bit more explicit – even if it is to say something such as that “it has come to their attention that a former employee, who resigned and left with a generous package including being pad their (presumably discretionary bonuses) has been making malicious allegations claiming that he was fired withoutwarning and was not properly paid on leaving, and that while, as the person making the claims is no longer an employee, management wants to ensure that the false claims are addressed to ensure that employees can be confident that any disciplinary issues will be dealt with fairly and with the subject having the opportunity to address any issues, and that the company always ensures that anyone resigning is of course paid their full entitlement in their final pay packet, and that again, no manager has, or has tried, to prevent that from happening or to delay or limit the payment made.”

          If anyone makes comments to you directly then I think something like “What an extraordinary thing for him to claim – I’d always thought of him as being a truthful person – are you sure it was actually Fred who said that ?” which is a valid response without actually going into ny detail (and gives the get out for plausible deniability that maybe someone was misrepresenting Fred, as well as yoU!)

        2. Momma Bear*

          This. When a swath of a team was let go at once (some performance, some end of contract) some of those left were shocked. The shocked people needed to know that it wouldn’t happen to them, so we had a meeting with our manager and his boss. They said this is the protocol, this is what happened, we’re sorry that it affected so much of the team and will try to avoid that in the future. If you ever have any concerns about your job security you can talk to us, or Lady at HR. We were reminded how reviews, raises, and PIPs work (and that PIPs aren’t something that’s broadcast), as well as the steps taken when someone is laid off vs fired. We were also reminded about the process for resigning if *we* opted to head out.

          The meeting wasn’t long, but I think it went a long way to reassuring folks and level-setting expectations. Something like that might be good for OP here.

      2. Unkempt Flatware*

        I agree. I have had a boss who was good at addressing rumors and she did so without emotion. She was concise and simply said, “I’ve been made aware of a rumor about X and I wanted to correct this with you, my team, to relieve what might be some confusion” or something. I’m not a wordsmith but I do think you need to tell your team they are safe and sound with you.

        1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

          I agree fully with this. This isn’t something that gets lived down after a long time of professional behavior from the OP. It gets filed away in people’s minds that OP is generally nice but there was this one time they were a real asshole to some guy.

      3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Same. “I am hearing that there’s some concern about previous team members’ departure. Obviously I don’t want to share folks’ private business, but I assure you, I do not fire team members out of the blue without attempting to resolve concerns, I absolutely do not stand between team members and their earnings or benefits, and I would hope that the way I have conducted myself over the last x many years would speak to my favor when these rumors are being passed around.”

        That’s a little awkward, but. Y’know. “I wasn’t a flaming jerk before, why would you think I would suddenly become one now?”

        1. Sara without an H*

          I like this script. (Actually, I like both your scripts, but the first one is more useful in a general professional situation.)

          Where I think OP needs to focus is reassuring their direct reports that these are baseless rumors and that they don’t need to fear that OP will suddenly morph into a werewolf and start firing everybody in sight.

          If the OP runs into Fred in any professional venue, the correct response would be icy politeness.

        2. Venus*

          I would make it a bit more generic, and more about what would be done when someone in the group wanted to leave.
          “I have heard concerns about recent departures. Know that I work with people to address concerns with their performance, and if they choose to leave I am careful to get everyone their earnings and benefits and when possible would advocate for a departure bonus.”

      4. Artemesia*

        This. You don’t have to name Fred (make sure he is on a do not hire list though). You heard some ‘rumors’ that someone was fired and denied last paycheck and that you have no idea where that rumor started, but it is completely not the case. No one has been fired in the last X years (to cover Fred, if this is true) And in a case where someone were to be let go, their last paycheck would be given on the spot. It is one of those weird things where something must have gotten twisted in the telling. You have no idea why.

    4. Onward*

      I’d consider speaking to an attorney to at least draft a cease and desist letter for you. You can also send one of these yourself, but it comes with an extra “oomf” when it comes from a lawyer. This is an example of slander: he’s speaking a falsehood about you either in order to affect your reputation, or with complete disregard to the truth and its affect on you. The only defense he would have to this is if his statements were actually true (which I trust from your statement that they were not) or that it was his opinion (Nope. This isn’t, like, your opinion, man.)

      Any lawsuit associated this probably wouldn’t be worth the expense, as you would need to prove damages in order to get any kind of decent payout, which is difficult, but Fred doesn’t need to know you probably won’t actually sue him. The threat usually does fine on its own. Regardless, contact Fred and tell him to cut it out.

      1. Foxy Hedgehog*

        I disagree with this advice.

        You would be giving Fred exactly the kind of validation he wants–now he can show people this weird letter from a lawyer telling him to stop talking. He would be able to stop lying about how you fired him and start telling the truth about how you are threatening him with legal action in order to shut him up.

        1. Onward*

          Yeah, I suppose he could do that. I tend to lean toward the ‘what they’re doing is wrong and they need to know it’ responses, but that’s a fair point. I can’t stand the Freds of the world who turn their issues into everyone else’s.

      2. legal rugby*

        As an attorney, this is a pretty shitty response, that is essentially going nuclear on something that may leave a bad taste in your mouth but isn’t actually harming anyone. I would not recommend this, if for no other reason that as in house counsel, if I heard one of my employees did this, I would be looking to gentle remove THAT person for opening us up to liability and/or abuse of their position.

        1. Co-Brainstorming?*

          Whoa. Wait. Are you telling another commenter that their comment was shitty? Please don’t do that if that’s what you really did here. “I disagree for X reason” is good but that seemed quite rude.

          1. legal rugby*

            No. I’m saying that drafting a cease and desist and claiming slander is both a bad course of action and one that demonstrates a lack of understanding of what legal recourses are for.

    5. MigraineMonth*

      It might be worthwhile to go over your system for addressing issues in your next one-on-one with your reports. For example, that you’ll start by working with them on the issue, then explicitly warning them that the issue could result in firing, then put them on a PIP, then fire them if you don’t see improvement. Explain which issues would get someone fired immediately (e.g. theft, harassment, etc).

      You’ll want to be clear that you’re sharing this information because you’ve heard some worries around the office, rather than because you think your report will have any of those issues. Don’t mention the previous report.

    6. HT*

      Honestly, I think that this is something that you can talk about and should address. At least with your own team and potentially with peers who can help to address with their teams if the topic comes up.

      I would set time with your team, if you have a recurring staff meeting that’s ideal, and address it head on. I would let them know you are addressing it purely so that they know this isn’t something that will happen to them. Focus on making the team feel secure that this isn’t how you or the company does business. Also, don’t accuse Fred of anything. Just focus on correcting the issues the rumours have caused.

      Language such as “I want to bring up a recent rumour that you may or may not have heard. It has been brought to my attention that many in our organization believe that Fred was fired from our organization, and that is not true. I want to clear this up as it’s unfair to Fred that anyone would think he was fired rather than choosing to leave on his own terms. I also want to make sure that this team feels secure that neither I nor this company would fire someone without context or prior discussion. I, personally, take this very seriously and want you to feel safe and that I will always work to provide you with feedback, both positive and negative. This is all I’m going to say on the matter, but I wanted to clear that up. ”

      You don’t have to address every issue he brought up. It’s enough to clear the air on the issues that may directly impact your team’s ability to feel secure in their employment.

      1. Bagpuss*

        This is excellent, and it doesn’t at any stage accuse Fred of lying. (even though he is !)
        Also it reinforces the fact that you deal with them fairly and openly because that’s what you are doing – openly addressing the issue, being fair (Fred wasn’t fired, no one is getting in trouble for spreading the allegations)

      2. Alex*

        Yes, I think this is the way to go. It doesn’t go into what Fred did, got, or said, and gives him enough benefit of the doubt to make it seem like you are not “refuting” him or arguing against something he is saying, but clearing up some false information that could harm your team.

      3. anon for this*

        This is great because it doesn’t even pin the rumor on Fred. There is a certain someone where I work who has told me various scenarios of this type over the years. The stories always seemed a little off to me: shocking on the surface, but also, it was just this one person who always seems to be “in the know.” You might know for sure this comes from Fred. But it might be as shocking to him as it is to you!

        1. WantonSeedStitch*

          And it isn’t defensive–if anything, it comes across as defending FRED: “he deserves better than to have people think he was fired!”

    7. Cut & Run*

      I think you can say he left if people talk to you about it. A variation of a story is one thing, but this is a WHOLE new narrative. I agree with you, it takes so little bad to knock out a whole lot of good, so I am sensitive to your concern.

    8. Person from the Resume*

      I do not understand why you would not contradict factually false information. Don’t get into the mew job at all – Fred quit and he got a sizable exit package.

      Also I did not / no one fired Fred. He got his final paycheck and bonuses and more promptly at the conclusion of his employment.

      No options or badmouthing Fred; just the facts.

      1. RecentlyRetired*

        As it’s the beginning of a new calendar year, can HR generate statistics on the company as a whole, and by categories of employees of how many were hired/layed off/quit/fired/retired for the year 2022? And have HR present it at staff meetings throughout the entire company or site? A quarterly “State of the Company” was standard at the large company I used to work for.
        This could (hopefully) be substantiated evidence that there were no firings/lay offs in your department.

      2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        It’s not really the main point but I did wonder why Fred got an “exit package” for quitting? Surely the usual process is just that you give your 2 weeks or whatever notice and then get paid for the time you worked? Were there some special circumstances of Fred’s quitting that have got warped in the retelling?

    9. Not A Manager*

      Can you address the general situation without getting into particulars? “I understand that there’s been some discussion recently about how Company handles resignations and what I in particular try to do as a manager. Here at Company, when someone resigns they are afforded… In addition, when I am able I try to assist individuals with their particular needs when they decide to leave their position at Company. Generally people leave Company when they decide it’s best for their careers, and that’s certainly been the case recently, but if someone is ever laid off or let go, both Company and I do the following…”

    10. MurpMaureep*

      First, I’m sorry this happened to you. I know it can be demoralizing to feel like you went out of your way for someone and have it turn nasty.

      I have to ask, do you trust the source for this info about Fred? Is it possible they are exaggerating or fanning flames for their own reasons? Also, did Fred’s new job not work out for him and is he looking again? I can see, perhaps, Fred bending the truth because he was embarrassed if the new position went south. Not to excuse lying, but it’s understandable that Fred wouldn’t want to admit he chose to leave and you went to bat for him. It could be easier to say “I was fired unfairly” than “I chose to leave a good position with a supportive boss for something less stable and now it’s backfired”.

      In terms of what to do, I think it’s totally acceptable to correct misinformation in the moment, but going on a Truth Campaign could make you look defensive (not fair I know). When you correct misinformation, phrase it not as “Fred’s a lying liar pants” but “I’m so sorry to hear he read the situation that way. As I recall I advised him to consider the suitability of the new job and tried be as supportive as possible during his transition. But of course we all see things through our own lens, I hope he can land on his feet”.

      I experienced something similar with a former employee who left for what he thought were greener pastures, failed badly in the new job, and then was upset when I couldn’t/wouldn’t rehire him. I found out from a close friend that he was trashing me on social media. I mostly ignored it but did have a bit of a last laugh when he kept giving me as a reference in his job search (!)

    11. Burning Out on Burn Out*

      I’m so sorry, I would be so upset too. What a jerk and just…why?

      If you want some commiseration, I had an ex (not work related!) do something similar and that was actually worse than the actual breakup. Let me preface this by saying, this was half a lifetime ago and I’m not still mad but it still occasionally leaves me with a big question mark when people bring him up, since we dated for a few years and I still know people that know him.

      He broke up with me because he wanted to date someone else and had already started dating her, which I was crushed about at the time but I know happens a lot in young relationships. I am actually surprised how understanding I was at the time, and assumed that we would stay friends since our lives were so entangled. We spent everyday together and had many mutual friends. But after he broke up with me, he blocked me on everything even though I was not reaching out to him and then I started hearing wild, untrue stories that he was spreading about me, like that I hated his mom (not true at all) and that I had forbid him from following his music career (what?) and just like a mean smear campaign.

      I’m guessing that he knew he might look bad, so he wanted to make me look worse, but I was so shocked that someone who had previously been so kind to me would just flip. Luckily, after a while I doubt people that knew me believed the stories but it still really stung at the time.

      OP, I bet that people that actually know you would not believe Fred’s ridiculous stories. If he did something like that to you, someone who treated him well, I imagine there are other odd behaviours he is exhibiting that will hurt his credibility. I’m sorry that happened to you.

      1. Limotruck87*

        Burning Out, I definitely sympathize. Again, not work related, but I also had an ex who left me for a close mutual friend of ours, blocked me everywhere etc. Both of them started accusing me of badmouthing them to mutual friends and ‘stalking’ them online, and blaming the end of our marriage on me for ignoring his needs (needs that involved messaging other women and refusing to come home after work). This was especially hurtful as I felt I had gone out of my way not to put friends in the middle and to be as diplomatic and respectful as I could. It felt like, “Isn’t it enough that you have each other now? He picked you, why can’t that be enough? Why do I now have to be the villain in this situation?”

        As you said, when it’s a fairly black-and-white situation where it’s obvious SOMEONE has clearly behaved badly, if they’re not mature enough to accept and own that it was the person in the mirror, well, then it must be you. And yes, there’s also a bit of knowing they’ve made themselves look bad, and they think if they tarnish your reputation it will balance the scales a bit.

        I agree that in a lot of situations, the less you say, the more room the other party has to make themselves look unhinged. If an opportunity comes up to correct the record in a calm, dignified way, do so, but otherwise people are good at making themselves look bad without your help.

    12. Silverose*

      Check with your upper management or HR before following through with any of the rest of this, but….

      Most companies, when called for a reference check, are allowed to give dates of employment and whether the employee is re-hireable – people know that if someone is not re-hireable then they were involuntarily terminated. If Fred is still listed as re-hireable in the company system (which, presumably, he is), you should be able to say as much if someone brings it up directly with you – “That’s interesting. Fred is rehireable.” Everybody and their brother knows that means he wasn’t fired without you saying he wasn’t fired, and that alone will get people questioning everything else about Fred’s story.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        Although ironically, if there’s anyone you want on the “do not rehire” list it’s Fred…

    13. The Other Dawn*

      I’m sure Fred doesn’t want people to know he wasn’t suited for the job and he’s probably doesn’t want to tell people he quit. It’s much easier, and probably more satisfying for him, to say he was fired.

      The senior person who advised you is correct. Just go on being professional and don’t try to correct the record. I’ve learned over many years of being a manager that there are a lot of Freds out there. It doesn’t matter how good you treat them, how fair you are, etc. They are always going to just be who they are. I went through this with two people in the last five years in my department. It was really difficult to keep my mouth shut and not try to counter what were clearly lies and gossip, but I kept quiet and it turned out that most people knew what these people were really like and didn’t buy into their lies.

  4. Strawberry Ice Cream*

    People often discuss referrals to EAPs here, and I remember an interview with an EAP coordinator a while back. I’ve still never been 100% clear on what they actually do though, or whether they’re helpful?

    Mine just sends judgy emails telling us we’d be healthier if we took more time to exercise and eat vegetables. I mean, they’re not wrong, but I know broccoli exists, and this doesn’t seem like much of an employee benefit to me. Any referrals seem to be along the lines of, “yes, you probably have insurance through your job here. You should read your plan to see what’s in it.”

    Has anyone gotten more concrete help from an EAP? Is mine just poor, or do I fundamentally misunderstand what they’re supposed to do?

    1. Trina*

      My understanding is that EAPs can provide limited counselling services/sessions for free, whether the need for counselling is related to work responsiblities or not. The emails are maybe just a way that the EAP is trying to remind folks that they exist and are available? But maybe this is also the sort of thing that varies by workplace?

    2. ONFM*

      If your org is like mine, our EAP coordinator is not an EAP provider – they’re actually in charge of all of our “health and wellness” programs. For EAP, they just process the forms/referrals as necessary. They don’t actually dispense therapy or anything like that. They’ll give employees the hotline number to make their own EAP appointment, and then produce some sort of regular report (“In 2022, XXX employees used our EAP program…”). Our actual EAP services are provided by an outside vendor/network.

    3. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      We’ll, I know a guy at my company got hooked up with some legal advice when his neighbors built a fence well inside their property line.

    4. Former Gremlin Herder*

      Having used mine at an old job, it is great if you have a specific need for something like therapy or legal help in the short term. Mine paid for a few months of bi-weekly therapy before I switched to insurance. I think people will refer employees when it’s clear they’re struggling because it’s one of the few resources a company can offer. It’s not a cure all or a replacement for solid benefits, but it’s nice in specific situations.

      1. Ama*

        Yes, I had a serious life event (fire in my apartment building that rendered it structurally uninhabitable) and ended up using our EAP both to find a moving company on short notice and both for immediate help (I had a panic attack from the stress of the situation while my significant other was on a cross-country flight, the EAP connected me to an emergency counselor to help talk me down) and to identify some long-term counseling when I had a bad anxiety flare-up a year later.

    5. ZSD*

      I’ve worked with EAPs from two different employers who were definitely more helpful than that. They both offered free counseling services, and one also offers regular panels/talks on subjects like dealing with grief, having a parent with Alzheimer’s, etc.

    6. ThatGirl*

      EAPs can cover a wide range of things. They’re frequently known as a source of referrals to see a counselor, but many of them also offer things like referrals to lawyers, insurance-related issues, elder care resources, and more random things like party planning. And yes, some are more wellness focused. Just depends on what service your company contracts with.

      I haven’t used my EAP, but back in the day my husband got a counselor referral from one and three free sessions.

    7. Anonosaurus*

      Our EAP is probably fine for what most people need, but I’ve never had good experiences with it. I understand that I’m an outlier in what I need support with and is more complex than average, but both the counseling and legal referral services have failed to actually help me. I think it’s just window dressing for the company to seem like it cares without investing in policies and practices that would actually help its employees.

    8. The Crowening*

      At my old workplace, the EAP was actually an on-site counselor (there were two) and when work and home stress was becoming unmanageable and overwhelming and I was starting to buckle from the weight of too much pressure, I made an appt. The person I saw was great, it was free, and I felt really supported. Not that he had any way to fix any of the issues, but he was the first person I remember saying to me during that time that I couldn’t physically do all the things people were expecting me to do, and I would have to start letting some people be disappointed, and that’s okay. I definitely found it helpful. I think we met 3 or 4 times over the course of several weeks or months.

    9. The Prettiest Curse*

      The EAP at my old job helped me to resolve a billing issue with my insurance. They also had a service where they could research local vendors for you – say if you were looking for a plumber or someone to build a fence – they’d look at vendors in your area and give you a list. Some EAPs are great, some are not and the range of services can vary a lot.

      If you have a good range of services, your HR will probably send round periodic emails saying “did you know your EAP can do this?” We also had a poster in the office listing available services and the EAP contact info, so that may help you work out what’s on offer.

    10. londonedit*

      We don’t get any sort of emails like that from ours. In fact we don’t get any communication from the EAP itself, it all comes from HR and all they do is remind us periodically that the EAP exists for all staff to use if they need to, and give the relevant contact details and details of what the EAP can do. I’ve never used it but from the information it seems as if ours can connect you with up to six sessions of counselling/therapy, and also connect you with advice on all legal matters whether they’re work-based or not – so you could contact them if you’re going through a divorce or a bereavement or mental health issues or whatever and they’ll connect you with services to offer support and advice.

    11. This Old House*

      Our EOP is through the local government, which means – as I understand it – it doesn’t pay for anything. It can refer you to services, but then you pay out of pocket. I’ve never actually tried to use it, because it doesn’t seem very useful.

      1. Some words*

        Sometimes getting those referrals is very helpful.

        At my employer the EAP covers not just me, but my family as well, which I didn’t realize. So when my adult sibling (not living with me) had a need, they could directly contact the EAP number and be steered to appropriate resources (privately).

    12. Quality Girl*

      I get unlimited free telehealth therapy through my EAP (I’m in healthcare so gosh do we need it) and my husband got 5ish free sessions with a therapist. He still uses the same therapist, he just pays for it now (or uses insurance maybe, dunno). I haven’t used any other services but our experience has been great so far.

    13. I edit everything*

      Wasn’t there an interview with an EAP employee on AAM not too long ago? She described how the EAP company she worked for operated and how she interacted with the employees of client companies.

    14. Pink Brownie*

      Our EAP will refer you to a therapist or other counselor and it pays for the first 3 visits, thereafter our health insurance pays for the rest of the sessions if needed. It also offers referrals to legal help, financial help, even child and elder care. For the employer (for me) it facilitates if I have to refer someone due to, say, alcohol or drug issues, things of that nature. The employee can be referred and made to complete the program as a condition of continued employment. As a federal contractor, we have certain rules we must follow regarding alcohol and drug use.

      So… your EAP might be particularly bad, or it might be great but you haven’t yet used it as intended *shrug*?

    15. Strawberry Ice Cream*

      Seems mine is just not great. I asked them about some of the things y’all are mentioning, like legal council, and they don’t offer that. They have some lists of local law firms and financial advisors that seem to be pulled from Google without any vetting, and it’s on the employees to contact and pay for those services on our own.

      I just checked their page to make sure I’m not misrepresenting them, and their listed resources consist of a wellness program that suggests walking at lunch, and a monthly newsletter, which is where they inform us that vegetables exist and cake is bad for you.

      Thanks for the responses though! Good to know, I suppose.

    16. no thank you*

      I think it will vary from company to company (or provider to provider) but for me, I used it a few years ago when my daughter was having a lot of anxiety and depression and I wanted to get her into counseling but didnt know where to start. I called the EAP, she found a list of therapists that were in our health network and set up our first appointment for me. Going through the EAP meant that the first three sessions were free, and after that were covered by my health insurance. Our EAP offers three sessions free for any separate event – so I could get another three sessions if I wanted grief counseling, or my other kid needed something, etc. That alone was worth it, but having someone do the legwork of going through the list and calling therapists to find who could take a new patient was really really helpful.

    17. estimator*

      Our EAP is an outside vendor (maybe associated with our insurance?). We have a phone number to call and they route you to the proper people to speak with. I used it once to help find some home care for my grandfather after he was in the hospital. They were helpful getting me started and giving me contacts for various places and organizations that could help. I could have done an internet search myself, but the EAP rep had some other suggestions that I wouldn’t have thought of. Ours also does the same kind of thing for legal questions, financial stuff, healthcare, daycare, etc. and offers a few virtual therapy sessions per year.

    18. cat socks*

      I contacted my EAP about a year ago for therapist referrals. They sent me a list of therapists in my area and I got eight (I think?) free sessions with them. I never actually followed through to book an appointment with any of them, but I have the list handy for future reference.

    19. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Our EAP Coordinators are regular staff with no particular credential requirements who funnel the health/welfare/eat your broccoli newsletters from on high, but also are the ones who answer the calls from staff who call to request referral help. So — Jane takes Fergus’ call about what’s available in our area/through our work to support him suddenly having to find a nursing home for his mother and Jane has a resource guide and can kind of talk him through his steps because she’s gotten some training about what’s out there. Or Jane answers Wakeen’s call about an uncomfortable work environment and can help to navigate an HR process that sidesteps his sketchy supervisor. Not actually counseling per se, but knowledgeable assistance.

    20. Kimmy Schmidt*

      The biggest thing my EAP helped with was payment. I got 5 therapy sessions for free through my EAP, but was able to pick my own therapist. My workplace EAP just had to fill out a specific form that basically said “yes Kimmy Schmidt works here as is using the Employee Assistance Program”. I think they also provide things like free sessions with lawyers, nutritionists, and financial counselors.

      Mine also helps people new to the area find “work-life solutions” like childcare, movers, mortgage brokers, and contractors. You could find that info yourself with a Google search, but they have a good list of quality and reliable ones ready to go so you don’t have to weed through anything.

    21. Momma Bear*

      Mine doesn’t send emails about health. Ours is more of a referral service. You could, for example, get a few sessions with a therapist that they help find for you to get mental health support. They may also help with finding child or elder care services. They’re more of a concierge desk than a service provider.

    22. Generic Name*

      Yes. I had 3 free phone counseling sessions right after my divorce. I was, quite frankly, messed up and confused and talking to the counselor helped me to realize that how I had been treated was not OK and that talking to someone was helpful. After I used my free sessions, I pursued therapy through my insurance.

    23. WantonSeedStitch*

      Ours does a lot. If you want to see some of the services they offer, the company my employer contracts with is called KGA, Inc. You can look them up.

    24. EAP*

      My brother in law is a alcoholic. When he was caught coming in after lunch drunk, he was given a list of EAP sources for alcohol treatment by HR and told he didn’t take advantage of one, he’d be let go. He did inpatient rehab for 30 days he found through the EAP, outpatient therapy through the EAP and is much healthier. He’s also still employed there.

    25. Girasol*

      That doesn’t sound like EAP. It sounds more like one of those wellness program companies that some organizations contract with.

    26. Sparkle llama*

      I have used my EAP twice for mental health services. In both cases I was able to call the phone number and get immediate assistance with the situation (I both cases I think I called a few separate times when I was feeling very anxious, including in the middle of the night). Once (for grief counseling) I was referred for three therapy sessions paid by the EAP and the second time I needed a specialized therapist that wasn’t covered by the EAP but they did the leg work of finding someone with that specialty who was accepting new patients and my insurance.

      1. anonymous emu*

        I’ve used EAPs a few times at past employers with varying levels of quality. The best ones were like the above commenters who got a brief legal consultation for legal issues (I had a terrible landlord at the time), referral to counselling for an unexpected death in the family and getting resources to get started when I was trying to figure out aging parent stuff.

        The worst ones were a website with links to articles that read like brochures with over simplistic advice you could get elsewhere.

        Both good and bad ones had boilerplate shaming emails like that, I always assumed it was part of the package my employer purchased, some employers sent them out and some didn’t. Some were not just health, like tax time tips/reminders, avoiding holiday stress etc. The quality varied among different EAP’s, too.

        Some also had occasional on site workshops like how to communicate more assertively etc. in the before times.

    27. I'm just here for the cats*

      EAPS vary depending on the company
      there can be really good ones and bad ones. However it sounds like what you have is more of a employee wellness program type of thing not a true employee assistance program. Now maybe your company puts the two together.
      A true EAP will have things like ways to get free counseling, financial assistance, legal aid. Things like that. I never hear from my EAP because it’s not something that is continuously contacting you.

    28. Emily Dickinson*

      Mine offers counselling for a variety of issues. Recently I met with someone for some objective perspective on a parenting concern. Previously I used my spouse’s when some life stuff got overwhelming. That counsellor recommended getting a house cleaning service which has been one of the best possible things for my mental health the last few years!

    29. RedinSC*

      The Eap acts as a clearinghouse if sorts. You call with an issue and the refer you to a resource.

      Recently I’ve contacted mine for referral to and eldercare advocate and short term counseling to help me deal with stress.

      The Eap doesn’t do the counseling, the refer you to a vetted resource in your area.

  5. Maternity leave advice*

    I’m starting my parental leave in six weeks. My last day is scheduled for March 17 (barring me going into labour unexpectedly before then). I’ll be on leave until the beginning of September next year. I’ve begun trying to wrap things up/transfer them.

    If anyone who has taken parental leave has any tips or advice I would appreciate it. Since I’m not allowed to work when I’m on leave I want to get everything in order since I’m going to be gone for almost 18 months. My manager is helpful but she’s new so I’m mostly taking the lead myself. Open to advice from those who have been there.

    1. kiwiii*

      I do not have advice, but I’m curious where you’re located that you’ll be gone for 18 months? That sounds like a dream.

      1. The Girl in the Red Sweater*

        Seriously, we were THRILLED when our org allowed 12 weeks of paid parental leave… the US sucks sometimes :(

    2. Massive Dynamic*

      From this point on, every time you do a work task, document the task at the same time (with screenshots). Good luck and I hope you have a great leave!

      1. Lyudie*

        Oh this is a great idea. When I switched jobs a while back, it was hard to remember all the things I wanted to document in the transition documents.

      2. Hanani*

        There’s a program called Tango that will help document workflow that involves lots of clicking. I haven’t used it yet, but a colleague recommended it

    3. Lizy*

      Congrats!!!!

      Since you’re taking such a long leave, the biggest piece of advice I have is FORGET ABOUT WORK lol. Do what you can to get work settled and then let it be. Will you have a crapton to come back to? Yes. Will it be a complete pain in the butt and you’ll have some fires to put out? Likely, yes. Will it be worth it to be in complete denial about it for the 18 months you’re on leave. ABSOFREAKINLOTELY.

      And remember – kids are SO different so don’t compare your parenting or their abilities. Whether it’s potty training or breastfeeding or bottle or holding head up or WHATEVER. My 3 biological kids hit milestones at completely different times, one was a pain in the butt to get to breastfeed but did for 18 months, one had no interest and was bottle-fed, one started walking literally on her 1st birthday, one still has a bottle (sippy cup) of milk at bedtime and he’s 2 1/2. So yeah. Embrace the craziness :)

      And congrats.

    4. Daymom*

      When I came back from maternity leave, I scheduled my return so that I worked 2 days the first week, 3 days the second week and then finally 5 days the third week. It was a good way to get used to being back to work.

      Both times I took leave, I was gone 12 weeks and left detailed instructions on work in process. I expected the people who I left things with would, you know, actually do the work that I transitioned to them. Annoyingly, they did not do anything either time. So I came back to things right where I left them. You probably don’t expect to still have anything left to do since you will be gone for so long (lucky you!), but I would be prepared for the possibility that none of your plans for work actually got done.

    5. OrdinaryJoe*

      The best advice I have is … you’re going to be gone for 18 months, no matter how much you plan for, there will probably be massive changes by the time you get back. New people, new procedures, new fires that came & went, etc. It very well may feel like a brand new job after 18 months.

      If you can stay in touch off hours and casually with even just work friends – lunch or drinks or just chatting, it will help keep you at least somewhat in the loop of the big changes that happen.

      I’d also keep up to date on basic software and program changes. You don’t want to have to relearn everything!

    6. Rana*

      It’s a minor one but one thing that is helpful to the people left behind is a pretty comprehensive list of who they should call for each type of question they would normally go to you for. This is especially useful if you are in a smaller team and have a range of responsibilities. Similarly a list of where information is stored or logins to various portals and whatnot if you are the only one who normally uses them (i.e. I was the one who renewed our business license, so I made sure I left the login information for the city’s website for whoever would do that while I was out).

    7. SBT*

      I run my own consulting business where I fill in for leaders on leave or cover during a transition/vacancy. I wrote this post on LinkedIn last year, but hopefully some of it can be helpful here. Keep in mind that this is aimed for much shorter leaves than 18 months, but much of it might be helpful still.
      – Two to three weeks out from leave, have your temporary replacement join all meetings.
      – Two weeks out, start Ccing your temporary replacement(s) on emails.
      – One week out, email key stakeholders to let them know who to contact (don’t forget about external partners and vendors!).
      – Create a leave document that includes an overview of your work streams; the status of each task/activity in that area; the owner, approver, and who to ask for help in each area; links to resources; and criteria for success (i.e. What should have happened on this while you’re gone? What would be a good state for it to be in when you return?).
      – Create a calendar showing key deadlines and focus areas for each work stream by week.
      – For responsibilities you’re delegating to peers, direct reports, or an external consultant, make sure it’s clear what type of decision-making rights those people have, and what things need approval from a higher-up.
      – If you manage a team, give your coverage person a quick run-down of how to best manage individuals on your team. They won’t have as much time to develop strong relationships and figure out how your staff works, so set them up for success from the get-go.
      – For any cross-functional projects you lead, give your replacement a heads-up on landmines and internal politics at play.
      – If there have been any major issues or problems just resolved, fill in your replacement. You’d be surprised at how often things you’ve put to bed just raise right back up, usually while you’re gone and unavailable.
      – Create and share a document with all your logins and password information.
      – Review folders and documents in your Google drive/other storage. Make sure to give access to all folders and documents to your temporary replacement and teammates. Some documents may even need ownership shifted.
      – Figure out what decisions, changes, or news (if any) you’d like to be contacted about while you’re out (things like staff changes, key decisions that might impact you when you return, etc.).
      – Pick someone on your team to be the gatekeeper of any contact you do want. Tell people to contact your designee who will pass along the message (or not if the person knows it doesn’t fall into your “Contact Me If” criteria). Now unplug.

    8. allathian*

      Congratulations!

      I was out for 2 years. Granted, I had a coworker with pretty much the same job description, and my employer hired a temp to cover for me during my absence.

      I wasn’t *allowed* to work during my maternity/parental leave. In my case, they disabled my logins and took away my work phone. At the time, I had a desktop computer and no way to work remotely, so I was completely out of the loop, and if I’m honest, glad to be. About two weeks before I returned to work, I met with my boss to talk about it. I was able to return in the middle of the week, and for the first few months, I worked a 6-hour workday so that my toddler didn’t have to spend all day in daycare.

    9. Employed Minion*

      In my department, our practices and guidelines are ever evolving and there isn’t really any documentation. It leaves people floundering when they return from longer leaves. If your workplace is even a little like that, it could be really helpful to ask a coworker to document these things for you

    10. Pink Flamingo*

      Congratulations!
      My advice is a little different from the others. Write a personal document dot pointing of your work achievements, metrics, examples of praise (email yourself to personal email, those emails, if you’re allowed!), etc. Update your resume. Point being…it’s all fresh/accessible to you currently. It may be a hazy memory in 18 months!

    11. Ho-Ho-Kiss*

      Speaking not as a parental leave-taker but as someone that recently left a long term contract position, I would advise training whomever will take your place such that they can go through at least on full “cycle” of your work (whatever that looks like) so that you will be there to answer questions. I’m in accounting, so that meant making sure my replacement was fully able to handle a month-end close. Of course, this won’t work with some jobs, but the point is that you want to be there to answer typical issues and scenarios with them so they will know what to do/where to find info on it when you’re gone.

  6. Can I?*

    I’m considering leaving a company that I have worked at for a long time. I’ve built a lot of processes, networked a lot, and I’m becoming pretty respected in the field which feels good. I have a question about the legality of taking resources with me when I leave. I definitely do not want to do anything illegal, but I’m not sure if this is:
    Over the years I have built a spreadsheet that has contact information and mailing addresses for institutions that our clients live at, attend, work at etc. All of this information is public and available online, it’s not private contact information that I received by being an employee of my job. I scoured the internet for the information, and of course can do it again, it’ll just take a long time. None of our client names are on the spreadsheet. Would it be illegal for me to make a copy of this spreadsheet to take to another job?
    These contacts are not anything that pays money to the org, or anything that would be considered competition, it’s just stuff I compiled on my work laptop over the years.

    1. Susan Calvin*

      Oh, I think I know exactly what kind of job you do – but no, it’s a work product, it belongs to your employer. I don’t know if it’s intellectual property, exactly, but ethically it would be the same kind of thing as me taking along a piece of code or a best-practice document I’ve written – which I really, really wouldn’t.

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        Interesting. What if the piece of code exists inside your head and is the best way to write something? Can you re-use that as long as you don’t physically take code from the office?

        1. Green great dragon*

          If it’s in your head that’s fine – they can’t remove everything you’ve learnt. You probably won’t remember precisely. Taking written work is different.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      I think it’s going to depend on the field. In mine, that absolutely would not be okay. The client list belongs to the company regardless of your time spent compiling it. Why would you want it unless you were planning to use it? That gets into non compete territory too. If it’s something like a list of nursing homes memory care units in the state where you just want to keep for recommending later, could you suggest making a blog post sharing that information with the public? Then you as a member of the public could access it. That would also be a way to greenlight from management indirectly. But yeah, unless it’s something like that I really doubt it.

    3. ThatGirl*

      I’m curious what the benefit of having this information is. But regardless, it sounds like it might not be illegal but also might not be a great idea?

      1. Can I?*

        I will likely go into another job where I will need to get this information again, so I was thinking of saving myself the hassle but based on comments and my own uneasy feeling about it, probably not a good idea. Oh well!

        1. Lost my name again*

          Yeah…using an old work product to create a work product at a new firm is probably a no no. That output belongs to your old firm. It doesn’t matter that you compiled it

    4. A Penguin!*

      I cannot comment on the legality – I’m not even close to being a lawyer. But my take on anything I built on company time/for a company that I want to take with me, I ask my boss (or higher, depending on the organization) about. Preferably before my resignation. Sometimes it’s ok’d, sometimes not. Some of the nos I’ve been tempted to take anyway, but the way I see it is that the company paid me to make that document/sheet/whatever (whether they asked for it directly or not), and therefore it’s theirs, even if all the content came from me.

      1. NotBatman*

        I’ve been a client who followed a financial planner I liked through a change of company. In that case the planner (with her boss’s permission) emailed her client list to announce the upcoming change, and I was one of a few clients who emailed back to say that I would like to continue working with her specifically after she moved to the new company. A friend also did that with a lawyer who hopped firms, although I don’t know how much the first firm was looped in on the change.

    5. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      It sounds like the digital equivalent of taking your contact list. The question I ask myself is: is this file something I would have kept in a notebook/address book/etc before computing became so central and everything lives on a computer? If so, then it’s taking my own contacts (or list of reference documents or whatever). So, if you go to a conference and get business cards, those are YOUR contacts. If you just compile them on your work computer, it’s not theft if you, say, print it and take it home. Or put it in your personal Google drive account or whatever. But maybe don’t email it to yourself because people seem to have a bugaboo about that.

      On the other hand, if it’s anything remotely company specific, process related, etc. Then you shouldn’t take it. You should also leave a copy of any contact list for the next person – just like you wouldn’t as an EA take the rolodex with you

      1. Can I?*

        Your last line made me think of the SATC episode where Samantha’s EA quits and steals her rolodex for her own party.

      2. Velociraptor Attack*

        That’s going to be really industry-dependent and some industries are a little touchier about when something is YOUR contact and when something is a work contact.

    6. lost academic*

      Two sides: one, it’s work product and it doesn’t belong to you. Two, everyone does it (in my field). Are you at any risk of legal penalty for keeping a personal copy? I can’t say but I’m doubtful. None of that directly answers your question, but it’s what I know.

      1. Rosemary*

        I agree. It would be different if she only had access to this contact information because of her current job. But anyone can find out this information; OP has just compiled it into a spreadsheet.

      2. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        There are all kinds of things that are public property via the internet, but a compilation of any of that information that is not posted to the internet is a different animal. Just think of how many articles have been written using information culled through internet sources – those articles belong to the authors if done independently, or to their employers if done while they were an employee and done as part of their job or on company time.

    7. Cascadia*

      An interesting thought experiment is, if your counterpart at a different company contacted you and asked for this list, would you share it with them? Some organizations share stuff with their competitors, some don’t. If you think you’re would, then I think you’re fine to take it.

      1. Can I?*

        I love this question, yes I’d absolutely share it. Maybe I can share it with some other organizations before I go so it’s more okay?

    8. mreasy*

      Realistically, it’s very common to keep contact lists when you change jobs. I don’t know what the risk of doing it is, though your former employer may not be thrilled if they knew – or perhaps they wouldn’t care. IANAL but I would do it?

  7. Asking for a friend*

    What circumstances would you give 1 weeks notice instead of 2?

    With the facts that the company has unlimited PTO so you won’t get paid for the days you don’t use. Your boss is a tyrant and there is no way you’ll use him or the current management as references. And they were not understanding for weather related issues of not being able to work.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      You’re never required to give two weeks unless you have a contract explicitly stating that you are. If you’re willing to burn the bridge, then get up and leave.

    2. AITA?*

      You may not use your boss as a reference, but jobs could contact him anyway. Honestly, unless the workplace is exacerbating a health issue, I would recommend giving 2 weeks. You’ll be the dutiful employee being responsible and you’ll be out of there after 2 weeks. So whatever arrows they sling your way… won’t matter once you’re gone. Inwardly smile knowing that they suck and you won’t have to deal with them anymore.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        Conversely, I’d say just go.

        Even if you stay the two weeks, there’s nothing compelling the old boss to be honest, and a new employer isn’t going to dig into the minutiae to see who’s telling what lie. Why make yourself miserable for an extra week or two when it’s all a roll of the die anyway?

    3. A Penguin!*

      I’d stay the two weeks unless the company is actively unsafe, hostile or threatening. You don’t just burn the bridge with your boss, but with lots of people who hear about the short notice without hearing the whole story (or who do hear the whole story and don’t agree the circumstance warrants short notice). Two weeks is (generally) a small price to pay for maintaining your professional reputation.

    4. Can I?*

      The two weeks thing is about not burning bridges so that you can preserve a reference, but since you mentioned that isn’t possible, I don’t think it’s necessary.

    5. NotBatman*

      If you already have something lined up on the other end, I’d say go. If not, that’s a little more complicated.

    6. Unkempt Flatware*

      I’m here now. My boss has really lacked professional courtesy and is very smothering and needy while totally ignoring my needs. But I have to stay two weeks to avoid a “Not for rehire” status. It seems like if we based a standard notice period on how we are treated as employees today, we wouldn’t give two whole weeks.

    7. Gracely*

      –If you think you won’t actually get to work out that full 2 weeks. Especially if you need the income.
      OR
      –If your health (physical or mental) is at stake.
      OR
      –If you have serious doubts the extra week will in any way help the transition/hand over to your coworkers.

    8. lost academic*

      The two weeks is a business convention that is used as a barometer for many things, rightly or not, and unless you have a significant health, safety or financial reason to shorten it, you should try to keep it. Once you’ve given less notice than the standard, it’s done and it can be spun only in negative ways for you. That doesn’t mean you MUST stay 2 weeks but there’s a lot of known risk otherwise.

      Honestly, giving two weeks might just mean they’ll tell you to take a hike immediately so you need to be prepared that you won’t be paid starting on that date in the first place.

      1. Betty*

        Agree, and Alison has pointed out that just because you wouldn’t *volunteer* someone as a reference doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t actually be contacted in the future “off list.” It feels like a big risk for one week, unless you’re truly at a breaking point where your health is at risk.

    9. Database Developer Dude*

      No circumstances.

      Either I’m willing to give the full 2 weeks’ notice, because I don’t want to burn bridges, or I give the 2 minute warning, because the workplace is openly hostile or detrimental to my mental or physical health.

      I had one workplace where I dreamed of winning the lottery to pay for one particular co-worker to take martial arts lessons until they became a black belt in my art…..so I could meet them in a tournament and LEGALLY beat the crap out of them (I’m a black belt in my art). Needless to say, I exited that office under my own power as soon as humanly possible.

    10. Double A*

      If you feel like the bridge would be burned with 2 weeks and the job is miserable, then I would give, like, 1 day. Why 1 week? But if you feel like the bridge is worth salvaging in some way, I would try to do 2 because that is such the norm. Basically it seems like it would be all or nothing for me.

    11. Observer*

      The bigger thing is your coworkers. How will they react or think about you if you do that? Keep in mind that unless you are retiring or leaving to an industry that just never interacts with your current industry, you just don’t know when you will meet up with them again.

    12. RagingADHD*

      In general, I’d either give the full 2 weeks or no notice at all, if the situation were bad enough. The exception would be if there were a really unique opportunity at the new job that dictated an earlier start date.

      Not “we just want you to start ASAP, and will pull the offer if you say no” but something like “if you can make it work, we’d like you to come along to our global conference in Switzerland.”

    13. pbnj*

      After you resign, the company has a lot less power over you, so it may be easier than you think to stick it out for 2 weeks, especially if you already don’t think you’ll get a good reference out of it. Pointless meeting? Declined. Boss being a jerk? Take a really long lunch, or excuse yourself from the conversation. There’s not much they can do to you at this point. They could push you out early, but it sounds like you’re ok with that.

      Since you don’t get PTO paid out, I’d probably take a little time off and then resign when I came back. But check your employee handbook first to see if there are any weird rules about taking vacation before resigning.

      Personally, I’d probably try to stick it out for 2 weeks so they can’t say you didn’t give notice, unless there were physical or mental health concerns.

  8. Conflicted in California*

    Long-time fan, first-time caller here: I’m an unemployed journalist nearing 40 and I’m experiencing a bit of a career crisis. As you may know, the industry is experiencing a lot of contraction, with several large waves of recent layoffs. After six months on the job market (relying on savings and freelancing to support myself), I’m starting to question whether my future in the industry might be over. Freelancing is growing less sustainable as a full-time gig, I’d prefer to return to the stability of a staff job with benefits, and I’ve been through a lot of “almost there” job interviews.

    I’d be curious to hear from other readers — especially ex-journalists or those in my position — about what a different path might look like. I’ve considered communications, but am not super-excited about working in the nonprofit or corporate world. Many other options seem to require retraining, which is expensive and time-consuming. What the heck am I supposed to do with these skills?

    1. The Girl in the Red Sweater*

      If you’re a US citizen, I work in the federal govt, and I see a fair number of openings in Media Communications roles (though I see you said you’re not super interested in that). However I think it would be well-suited for your journalism experience, since those media briefs involve synthesizing a lot of complex policy information for general audiences. you could also go for the more generalized “social science research analyst” roles which emphasize writing skills. Plus, the job stability and benefits are pretty good. Check out usajobs.gov.

      1. Spaceball One*

        Came here to say the same, with one addition: Do a little homework into which companies have communication-related contracts within various state or federal agencies, and keep an eye on their job postings. In addition to this expanding the potential pool of vacancies worth applying for, the hiring process for contractors is much more “normal” than the federal hiring process, which has a lot of extra steps and restrictions. The only downside to being a contractor is that contracts end, and then there’s a nail-bitey period while you wait to find out what company is getting the next version of the contract and whether they’re going to hire everyone back or let some folks go. FWIW, I’ve been with the same federal agency for more than 20 years, through several contract changes, some more unpleasant than others, but I’m still here and still love it. :)

      2. Conflicted in California*

        I am and hadn’t thought about the feds! Thank you for this tip, especially around analyst roles, I’ll do some exploring.

      3. Employee*

        There are roles in federal public affairs which serve basically as the point person for journalists to contact, or, depending on what your reporting area of expertise is, you could get a role essentially being an internal journalist. I know PA specialists who write articles for publication on behalf of the agency they work for

        1. The 40 year old Journo*

          The one thing with government comms in particular is that the many layers of revision and approval … is something that makes a lot of journalists’ skin crawl because they are used to working at a significantly faster speed (though this is less true for investigative or longform roles).

          FWIW, Conflicted, something I have been discussing with other journalists over the past few years is how much more common it is nowadays for people to come back to the industry after some time in media relations and related roles. It used to be a one-way door and that seems to have really changed over the past decade or so. The thought that a career pivot isn’t a lifetime commitment is something I think about a lot when I am having those days where the industry seems hopelessly doomed.

          As well as government work like suggested here, I have some ex-journo friends who work for colleges in comms on the science or medical side, where the communications skills are very much wanted but there can be a bit more autonomy/less red tape than the government. That’s another one to consider.

          Good luck and keep us posted.

          1. event coordinator?*

            Yes colleges, universities, and research institutions are often looking for great comms people. It’s usually a stable gig with good benefits but not the highest pay. The hiring process can be long in the bigger institutions but it’s not as bad as the federal system. Hope you find what suits you!

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Science writing is a growing field. I know my department employs two, they work on more technical stuff like grant application writing as well as press release type stuff, editing articles before submission to journals.

    3. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      I know you’re not jazzed about the corporate world but media agencies who do work like digital pr, social media, SEO etc are places you can work, get training, and go into freelance roles after some experience.

      Another area might be grant writing.

    4. CatDragon*

      Trained journalist here, graduated in a recession, became a generalist (marketing) and have recently turned my career to specialize in content marketing. I’ve chatted with former journalists who have a hybrid career – they freelance for some corporations to pay the bills and then do freelance work for large news publications/magazines whenever they can land it. Also the corporate world is very diverse. There are many marketing agencies, industry groups, and consulting/advisory firms putting out large pieces of content that involve policy, research, news, etc.

    5. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      I’m sorry.

      Recovering journalist here. I’m hearing from freelancer friends that some of them are slammed with work, because there have been a lot of layoffs but not a corresponding reduction in the amount of stuff that needs to be done. So if you want to go that route, it might not be completely insane.

      I got excited about cybersecurity and reinvented myself as a tech writer in that space, but it took time and a bit of money.

      1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        My team could really use a technical writer with a journalist slant or vice versa! We do a lot of Cyber Security work but we’re not writers, and it shows.

        1. Conflicted in California*

          Several people have suggested I explore technical writing, but it sounds like I’d be a stronger candidate with experience? (e.g. a friend’s lab is looking for technical writers but wants them to have bio backgrounds.)

    6. Marcella*

      As someone who’s been a journalist and done in-house/agency PR – a lot of places are eager to hire an ex-journalist because they figure you have great media contacts and understand crisis communications, rapid response, finding the story in a boring product rollout, etc.

      Maybe try some PR agencies or startups looking for a communications person.

    7. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      I used to work in higher education fundraising, and we had a number of ex journalists doing writing work, mostly proposals and stewardship reports, plus some news stories and releases. I don’t know if that meets your expectation around not being in NFP or corporate, but I’m not sure what a writing job would look like outside of those two sectors.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        I’m in that field myself. I have a degree in journalism, but haven’t worked in that field. Instead, I’m a prospect researcher. The job uses some of the skills I had to learn for my degree around finding and analyzing information, and presenting it in a way that is informative and helpful to the fundraisers.

        1. Lizzo*

          Fellow nonprofit professional here…I’m under the impression that organizations that have prospect research roles tend to be larder, and therefore pay better. Is that your observation?

          OP: if you are interested in this, there is a professional organization, Apra, for people who work in this field.

    8. syncbeat*

      Ex-journo in higher-ed comms here. Mostly features. Another ex-journo friend is content director at a personal finance website. (Her background was finance journalism.) Third ex-journo friend is a speechwriter at the UN. (Was a wire reporter.)

      1. The 40 year old Journo*

        Personal finance website sounds like a great fit and anything in the financial services sector, if you pick the right company, can be full of smart people who appreciate written communication talents. (The industry outlook compares well with journalism, too!)

    9. BellyButton*

      If not corporate or non-profit what else? Education? Government? I don’t know how you feel about teaching but a ton of states are now hiring teachers with only a BA in some other field other than teaching. A friend, with a background in journalism is now a HS journalism teacher, with no additional education needed.

    10. Not teenage but still ninja turtle*

      I did marcomm at a financial company for a while, and they looked for people with financial journo backgrounds for comm/PR roles because of their connections. If you had a specialty, it might be worth looking into the companies you worked with/reported on.

    11. Mynona*

      I know two ex-journos: one is a nonprofit comms director, the other is a bartender. I sympathize with your plight. Would it help to at least just find a comms job with a steady paycheck and then figure it out from there? It would take the money pressure off at least

    12. Double A*

      Have you considered teaching? I think journalists can make great teachers, and you can bring a lot of your skills to almost any subject. There’s a steep learning curve with classroom management, but honestly being an older teacher (I am exactly your age so I’m not calling you old haha) you already have some of the presence that kids respect so it can be an easier transition. But you can also get creative with assignments that teach kids investigative skills; you could create a class newspaper. I’m thinking of all kinds of cool projects that kids would find very engaging.

      I know people are down on teaching these days and are having a rough time, but honestly I still love it so much and I think it’s more important than ever. This kids are amazing and they need thoughtful, kind, enthusiastic adults right now so much. If it’s something you’ve ever thought about at all, maybe try mixing some substitute teaching into your freelancing and see how you like it? Teaching in California pays pretty well and has good benefits, and if you’re a reliable sub, districts can help you figure out the path to credentialing.

    13. JitzGirl11*

      What kind of beats did you cover? Perhaps you could consider speechwriting or executive communications at organizations related to what you covered or that interest you. We had a speechwriter at my organization who came to us from journalism and did quite well.

    14. Radio*

      I run a radio station that is heavily local news focused. We are hiring three news positions right now and have had next to no applications. There are thousands of open news radio jobs across the US right now (radio isn’t as attractive as it once was, but we are not a dying industry either). Maybe look into that?

      1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        Another route that may work for you is that a lot of companies are looking for native English writers for communications, so if you’d be willing to relocate (or go remote!) you do not confine yourself to the US.

    15. WestsideStory*

      Ex-journo here: take a look at book publishing. Transferable skills include the ability to write tight, trend spotting, good spelling and grammar, fact-checking on the fly, research skills, and knowing how not to bury the lede way down in that first chapter.

      Some paths: editing (especially if you are a specialist in a topic or beat) promotion and marketing, production (if you are fluent in online collaboration and enjoy social media) and sales.

      Many jobs are remote these days, too. Some places to look: book jobs.com, Publishers marketplace, Indeed as well.

      Don’t worry if you don’t have a clue about book publishing. As I’ve often said, a journalist’s job isn’t knowing all the answers, but knowing where to ask the questions

    16. JaneAustensTeaCozy*

      Ex journalist who graduated into a recession here–I bounced around in tech for a bit (tech writing and general PR stuff) before landing a freelance research gig that turned full time. Now I manage a super niche team doing research and content analysis work, and I’ve hired quite a few fellow ex journos.

      Research was a natural fit for the skills I’d cultivated reporting, but I’d done quite a bit of long-form type stuff previously. The biggest issue wasn’t the skills, but the timelines (much longer), the management style (so much more micromanagement) and the culture (more formal). The switch to corporate stuff was challenging and I miss talking to random humans, but my work/life balance is better and the pay is much better. If you’ve got the research experience, it can be a nice switch!

  9. Can I Keep It?*

    Hi all! I wanted to get your thoughts on this. I recently left a job after 3 months. I started my new role immediately after this unintentionally short stint. The thing is, I really want to leave this job on my LinkedIn/resume, but all of my research (including Alison’s posts) say I shouldn’t. The reason why I would like to leave it on is that within the 3 months, I actually accomplished some cool stuff. I knocked out a big, multi-part (and multi-partner) project that my predecessor didn’t do after multiple years, and I discovered a charge in one of our vendor contracts that we were wasting thousands on that I was able to do something about. This charge was missed by my predecessor, my boss, and our purchasing department, so I think it says something that I caught it and did something about it in a relatively short time. Had I stayed in the role a more resume-appropriate length of time, I would probably be using these accomplishments in my highlights because it lends additional credibility with other accomplishments from former roles of managing large projects, and catching details that save my employer money.

    For context, I was laid off in my last two roles (thanks covid (and the collateral damage that’s still making its way across multiple industries)), so if I leave this job on, I have 1.5 year gig, 3 month gap, another 1.5 year gig, another 3 month gap, then a 3 month gig, and now my current role. If I take this job off my resume, it will look like my last employment gap will be 6 months instead of 3. Which I’m not sure if the length of the gap makes a difference.
    If this bit of context helps, I live in a major metro market so job-hopping isn’t uncommon, but I’ve never done it intentionally. What do you think; is this short job worth keeping on, or should I just accept and delete it off my LinkedIn?

    Thanks!

    1. Trina*

      I would think that the fact you can list some significant accomplishments would justify leaving it on. Alison’s advice about usually not listing very short jobs is based on them not adding any value to your resume, so if that’s pointedly not true in your case I would say you are an exception!

    2. Hlao-roo*

      The advice I’ve seen about leaving short jobs off your resume is because most people haven’t accomplished anything notable. Sounds like you do have some worthwhile accomplishments, so it may be worth putting those on your resume.

      Be sure you have a good explanation for why you left this job after 3 months. (Not clear to me if you got laid off from the 3-month position–if so, that’s your good explanation.)

      1. Cut & Run*

        Thank you for responding. I appreciate it. I was fortunately NOT laid off from the 3-month role. The primary reason I am leaving is that after the layoffs, I am very triggered (for lack of a better term) by any instability which my current employer was starting to face. This new job (with a government agency) presented itself, and I considered it sign and took it.

        1. Not my real name*

          Oh, that makes the explanation easy! “While the work at Company X was challenging, when the opportunity arose to go to Agency Y arose it was just too good to pass up.”

          1. Reba*

            I would also mention that the company was experiencing layoffs (even if you yourself weren’t laid off) — it’s sensible to look for other opportunities when that happens, so this would counter a potential impression of flightiness.

    3. Jujyfruits*

      I’m not sure what happened. I posted a reply but it didn’t nest properly. Here it is:

      If I understand correctly you have a job now and are not searching? In that case, leave it on. You’re proud of the work you did. Also you can find people you’ve worked with easier on LinkedIn when you list the employer. It doesn’t sound like you have a compelling reason to take it off so don’t!

      1. NegativeNancy*

        This is true! If you arent looking then leave it and decide when you want to job search again.

    4. Yvette*

      That advice is usually for when the job was a disaster or it did not align with your career goals and the type of job(s) you want. (Think laid off nurse taking a seasonal retail gig.) It sounds like you were laid off because of budget cuts/Covid issues/circumstances beyond your control having nothing to do with your performance. Leave it on, you did good work. Let interviewers ask about the length if they want, you have a valid reason.

      1. Cut & Run*

        Thank you for responding. Fortunately, I was not laid off in this job that only lasted 3 months, but news that payroll budgets (and that I was going to most likely have to lay off one of my staffers) freaked me out as I had been there before. Then a government role from when I was job searching came through and I took it.

      2. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        The advice is also for resumes where real estate matters (you only have one page, usually). On LinkedIn it matters far less as there are no set page boundaries.

    5. NegativeNancy*

      I still wouldnt. Honestly I dont want to downplay your accomplishments. You should be proud of them.

      But with the massive project, I think prospective employers will think that you can’t have contributed much and are taking credit for others work. Or that the project wasnt that big because it was accomplished in such a short time while learning the role/company and presumably doing other work too. Unless you were brought in 3 months before a convention or big event with the express purpose of managing the event. Then including that would make sense though you would likey have a job title that reflects that the project was your focus and the whole point. And also it sounds like if your predecessor never did it for years, I doubt this was the case. I just dont know that people will understand or appreciate that this was something big you accomplished and you risk looking like you steal the limelight or overinflate your contribution/work.

      The other issue is that while its cool you caught the error. And it does show attention to detail. It more reflects badly on your former employer than it does well on you.

      Also was it an intentionally 3 month contract type deal? Or did you get laid off? Because it does look like job hopping even if you werent doing that.

      You might feel it boosts your candidacy and you have that right to choose that. But I would think having two 18 month stints with a good reason (layoffs from covid stuff) looks differently to having an extra 2 month stint. And I dont know even having accomplishments will help that much. But thats just me. I could be totally off and just being a negative nancy.

      1. Chutney Jitney*

        I disagree with pretty much all of this. Mostly, I’d say your comment is full of imaginary problems that could all be solved by actual conversation, like one would have in an interview. You are certainly living up to your screen name.

        So if they “didn’t think she could possibly have done anything” on the big project, she could respond by explaining what she did and how she did it.

        And of course catching an error shows that someone made a mistake. It literally always will. But you seem to think that’s… bad? Like it would be better to let it go uncorrected? Catching errors that save thousands of dollars is a positive thing! Especially if OP works in any way with money, budgeting, timetables, projects, resources – you know, most jobs.

        I truly struggle to imagine the hiring manager who thinks, “Sure, she caught this massive error, but what about her boss! What a failure. My god, that guy, can you imagine how incompetent he is. That company too…” and what, forgetting the OP? Or dismissing her accomplishment because… I don’t know, anyone can have attention to detail but it takes someone extra awful to make the mistake in the first place? By what mechanism would they stop thinking about the potential employee they want to hire and instead focus on that person’s boss?

        OP I say you should leave this on your resume. I’m impressed with how much you did in a short time and I bet they were sorry to see you go.

        1. NegativeNancy*

          All of your comment assumes they will get an interview. A lot of stuff can be explained in an interview. A lot of what appears to be job hopping can be explained in a conversation. But the employer has to be willing to have the conversation and the CV helps decide that! A lot of people keep saying you can explain it in an interview but you have to get the interview first.

          And yes my view of the error was particularly negative as I was very stressed when I wrote that. And I am totally being a negative nancy thats why I picked the name! But my views on the project bit still stand. Saying you did a big massive project in 3 months will seem off unless you were hired to do x project. Because it either means the project cant have been super huge or you are taking credit for others work. There is a risk people will view it that way.

          Though as I agreed above. If they arent looking for jobs now, leave it on linked in. Worry later.

      2. Cut & Run*

        Thank you for responding. You make valid points. The story as I’ve gleaned about the person in the role prior to me was that they were in over their heads. This was the message that people who reported to them and my boss relayed to me.

        The job was not a contract role, nor was I laid off. I was sensing financial instability of the company based on the fact that I was going to have to lay someone off due to budget cuts. A government role that I had interviewed for months prior came through and they made an offer. I accepted it since I don’t want to risk being laid off again.

        1. NegativeNancy*

          Oh well then I wouldnt worry. You have a job that seems more stable. Leave it on linkedin, decide on CV later. Its possible that you’ll reach a point where its a non-question anyway by the time you are looking again. Congrats on the new job btw!

          1. Cut & Run*

            Here’s hoping that by the time I have to look again, it’s YEARS down the road. Thank you!!!!

    6. pinetree*

      I’d suggest leaving it up on LinkedIn. People may assume you were working as a short-term contract or as a consultant. Also, if somebody knew you were at a company for three months but saw that it was removed it from LinkedIn, they may take that as a sign you had a negative experience there in some shape or form.

      I might only leave it off resumes for job applications if you decide to look for another job in the next 3-6 months. You’d have to make a judgment about how your resume presents itself at that time. But if you stay in your current job for at least a year, I think it’s good to keep on your resume from there forward. (Caveat: Different industries have have different norms about expected work tenures).

    7. linger*

      Specifically, finding that error is a concrete example to support self-description as “detail-focussed”. So unless you have similar achievements elsewhere to point to, it makes sense to keep the job listed.

    8. YesIAmRetiredNow*

      I’m in the US and I seem to recall with every government job I ever had (state, federal and county level) the application asked for *every job you ever held* be on the application, and I think they mean this literally. I was fired from the county one when it was discovered that I left a short 3 month job off my application. Check the fine print on yours.

  10. anon for this*

    Do you have any examples of your field being wildly misrepresented in the movies/tv shows/the media in general? I have many, but I’m currently being haunted by NCIS Hawaii Season 2 Episode 6.

    1. Not my real name*

      I haven’t seen that episode, but I’m an entomologist and all of the procedurals make me crazy.

    2. desdemona*

      I lived with a theatre stage manager for a while, and she absolutely HATED Birdman for the way it misrepresented theatrical production processes.

      1. curly sue*

        On the other side, the three-season series “Slings and Arrows” is spectacularly good theatre rep. The vast majority of the cast and producers were theatre festival veterans and it really shows. Highly recommended! (Also for very early-career Rachel McAdams!)

        1. Ormond Sackler*

          I love Slings and Arrows! Wish more people saw that show.

          As an aside, Stratford, the town where the theater in the show is supposed to be, is very charming and fun, even in the offseason.

      1. legal rugby*

        I’m former military and a former prosecutor, so my wife doesnt allow me to watch the first five minutes of any NCIS. I can enjoy the pretty people making logical leaps, but I can’t handle the jurisdictional issues.

      2. Glomarization, Esq.*

        Ibid.

        I can’t suspend my disbelief enough to watch law dramas, and most police procedurals get on my nerves.

    3. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      Cybersecurity is MUCH more exciting in the movies. In real life it just looks like a lot of people sitting at computers.

      1. Observer*

        Like a bunch of people sitting at computers, but without all the green screens and flickering lights.

      2. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        Mostly true but it also entails yours truly with a laptop or two, wearing a hard hat and boiler suit in industrial facilities, offshore drilling rigs, and ships, usually quite far away from home. The sitting at computers doing forensic analysis towards what exactly led to the total network outage or whatever we observed comes afterwards. As comes writing reports, trying to explain matters so that nonspecialists can understand what the actual risks are, without too much oversimplification.

    4. Camellia*

      IT is constantly misrepresented. Of COURSE I can take 10 years worth of data written ON PAPER, “upload” it in 5 minutes, and write a script that will analyze the data and spit out answers for you in 10 minutes!

      Oh, and I love the ‘how long will it take’ exchanges. ‘It will take two days.’ ‘Okay, you have one hour.’ And lo and behold, it is done in one hour.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Also, the way to hack into something is just to type furiously for five minutes straight! There must be lots of Matrix-like streaming text, too.

        1. Some words*

          I know for sure from movies & shows that I’ve seen that if a hacker can hack one system, they can hack every system (and every device).

          Tap tap tap, I’ve just appropriated all Vatican’s bank assets.
          Fiddle, fiddle, I’ve just reactivated this elevator where the power was shut off.
          Tap tap tap I’m now in full control of the entire U.S. nuclear arsenal.
          Tap tap tap Bill Gates should really beef up his network security. I’m in.

          Strung together like that it sounds like a pitch for an action film plot. lol

      2. Chutney Jitney*

        Don’t forget zoom and enhance. Sure, I can make that grainy security footage from 30 meters away sharp enough to see someone’s features… and done!

        1. WellRed*

          But you wouldn’t think to do that until the boss tells you to! (Looking at you Jubal Valentine on FBI).

        2. MigraineMonth*

          Or the crime-scene reenactment computer models from Bones.

          “From the angle of the stabbing and blood splatter, the assailant was clearly a middle-aged 5′ 7.5″ woman with particularly streong arms, and the victim must have tripped backwards over another person who was 6′ 3″ but crouching, and we whipped this entirely accurate visual model up in less than 30 seconds.”

          “Thanks, forensic artist! It’s amazing what you can do with zero knowledge of computer programming.”

      3. Yvette*

        OK keep in mind that back in the day laptops came out long before wireless connectivity. I would see people on TV sitting on the couch or at the dining room or kitchen table on their laptops and they are sending emails, chatting, etc. and the camera pulls back and “Look Ma, no wires!”

        1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

          But that actually works! At least sometimes. It was known in my office as “cold-cocking that sucker.”

        2. Camellia*

          Although, technically speaking, it’s ‘turn it OFF and then ON again’. (sorry, couldn’t resist).

      4. MigraineMonth*

        I love when the “technology” being used should be familiar to the writers. Sure, using the command line, hacking and cybersecurity are mysterious, but there are so many shows that get everyday technology wrong. Like using a keyboard (was that two-person one-keyboard episode of NCIS trying to be satire)? Or texting using a cell phone. Or trying to read something on a screen.

        I am always entertained by the shows that do the artsy shot of code scrolling by (green text on black, naturally) as reflected in the IT person’s glasses (because of course the IT person wears glasses). Except the reflection is readable, so the IT person must be looking at mirror-imaged code.

    5. Anon too!*

      I write code… Media has figured out that we use computers and keyboards to do it and that’s about all that’s accurate. My favorite cringe was NCIS where they had two people type on the same keyboard together as a way to work faster to counter a hacker!

      My dad is a cop. Whenever I’d try to watch police procedurals, he’s stand by the couch saying “wrong…wrong…no one has that policy…illegal…very illegal…congrats buddy every case you’ve ever worked on would be overturned for this”. Nothing about cop shows is accurate.

      Maybe a shorter list would be what fields are portrayed accurately?

      1. Ginger Baker*

        Kid 2 and I watching NCIS: “Ok Copaganda time! …oh, geez, illegal. Super illegal. No, you can’t just break in. YES ASK FOR THE WARRANT, nice going! What, no don’t just let them in anyway. NO. NO. GET THAT DEAL SIGNED BEFORE YOU SAY ONE MORE WORD, cops are legally allowed to lie to you! If they want that info, tell them to hurry up and get a SIGNED DEAL dammit!”

        1. lost academic*

          That’s what I like about Law and Order (original)! They get burned when the cops screw up or take liberties all the time! They show so many warts of the legal system from start to finish. And the good guys don’t always win by a long shot – and who the good guys are is pretty variable.

          I assume, not being in law and justice myself, but it feels like they’re trying to do that. I also just miss the old L&O, I won’t watch any spinoffs.

          1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

            Barney Miller may have been a comedy, but I heard several law enforcement employees claim it was the closest to realism of any police show, at least until that time (mid 1970s – early 1980s).

      2. Aerin*

        Apparently the two people on one keyboard was a writers’ room dare. They were getting tired of fans nitpicking the show’s IT stuff so they purposefully tried to one-up each other with more and more ridiculous stuff.

      3. Anyone*

        May need a trigger warning here, for truly disturbing birthing TV story.
        My college roommate’s mom was a Labor and Delivery nurse. We were watching that episode of ER when our room phone rang about 5 seconds after they tried to shove the baby back in while they rushed mom up to the OR (or somewhere). Roommate’s mother proceeded to SCREAM into our answering machine “You can’t do that!”
        We saved that message through 3 different apartments, just to play when one of us was doing something stupid.

        (Man, I feel really old now. ER not in reruns, landline, answering machine…)

        1. ClosingTime*

          Best story and making me giggle! Please tell me you somehow still have a copy of it. Maybe saved to some audio file somewhere!

    6. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      Programmer.

      Dilbert is the only time I’ve seen it remotely right. I guess Tron, too, if you delete all the animation-enhanced scenes within the grid.

    7. this is too specific about me to use my usual name*

      I’m a linguistics major who reads a lot of SciFi. I think that SciFi authors should not be allowed to play with linguistic relativity (aka the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis) for at LEAST the next twenty years. I’m very tired.

      1. Susan Calvin*

        My desk neighbor is looking at me funny because I audibly hissed. YES.

        Bonus; for grad school I pivoted to AI. What I wouldn’t give for that to be wildly misunderstood ONLY in fiction!

    8. time for cocoa*

      I work with fire protection products, and every movie has no idea how sprinklers work.

      Old example but one of the worst: The Thomas Crowne affair kills me. Nobody is stupid enough to use a water system in a FINE ART MUSEUM, even with metal shields. Clean agent systems have existed for ages.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        That’s really interesting! Though the producers probably heard that exact info, said “hmm, water would probably look more visually interesting” and went with the inaccurate version because it looked prettier – which seems to happen often in films and TV.

      2. Devo Forevo*

        I worked in a fine art museum and this makes me so mad every time! On the flip side, super sophisticated lasers in a gallery is hilarious.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Hello fellow life safety person.
        When a coworker found out I had never seen die hard, she told me not to, because the sprinklers all going off at once are rage inducing.

    9. A Penguin!*

      Notsomuch my field (engineering). But in a not-quite-what-you-asked take, I’m always amused and saddened how far off reality my hobbies get taken (MMORPGs, RPGs, LARPs).

      1. Anongineer*

        I’m almost sad that engineering isn’t considered exciting enough to be a regular job, but the one book that I’ve read that had someone as a civil engineer had them working on windmills so I’ve accepted it’s for the best they forget about us.

        1. Angstrom*

          There were some cars ads years ago that were supposed to feature real automotive engineers, but they had to hire actors because the agency couldn’t find any real engineers who looked like engineers. :-)

      2. I edit everything*

        I’m curious if you’ve seen the Hawkeye series on Disney+, where he runs into a LARPing group and they become a kind of support team for him.

          1. A Penguin!*

            I like Role Models, but I disagree that the LARP combat scenes are sincere. At the least they don’t match how any of it could go down in systems I play (but I concede they could match another system). The roleplay and game-adjacent ones I find accurate, though. Including the ones I wish weren’t.

    10. Other Alice*

      My industry/job is kind of niche so not much representation. However I do have a degree in mathematics and I cannot watch anything with mathematicians on it. I am haunted by all the movies with shots of what’s supposed to be a classroom where a lecture just took place, but the blackboard is just a bunch of random formulae with no rhyme or reason. You know, as if someone took a book and opened it at random pages and copied bits of it. The book is of course Algebra 101 and the lecture is supposed to be at PhD level.

          1. Morrigan Crow*

            From what I remember, they were mainly real formulas, but really, really basic ones (like high school algebra II level). I have a vague memory of them getting really excited when they were simplifying fractions?

    11. NotBatman*

      I’m a psychologist. A recent study found that 72 of the 100 most-watched TikToks about ADHD contain misinformation, as do 80 of the 100 most-watched about PTSD. But at least TikTok doesn’t portray all mental health practitioners as evil or incompetent like on television, so there’s that!

    12. Josefina Montoya*

      Libraries so— lots, lol. We’re not all old ladies who do nothing but shush people all day! Those are always the worst IMO; least Parks & Rec was funny about it (and also wildly inaccurate about working in government, haha, although the public information meetings could be sadly on point), Tammy was hilarious.

      1. Trina*

        It’d be easier to list media that get modern public libraries right! I’m convinced that Hollywood is at least half the reason that literally any article related to libraries still has at least “why would we need libraries, we have the internet” in the comments and that “did you know you can get FREE EBOOKS from your library????” shows up as a high-karma post on Reddit once a month.

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

        As you can see i am a huge P & R fan, and I thought the library rivalry was a riot!

      3. Princess Peach*

        Haha, yes, just coming to say this. My glasses are for poor vision rather than weird sex appeal, I do not shush people, and I 1000% do not sit at a desk reading for fun all day.
        Pretty sure all my relatives think I shelve books for 40 hours a week too, which is only marginally better than what the media portrays.

      4. ThatGirl*

        My town’s library board had a years-long fight with the parks department over something really silly, so I actually felt like that part was kind of accurate :)

    13. Chutney Jitney*

      My husband has training as both a chemist and an attorney. ALL. THE. TIME.

      BTW, many lawyers like the movie My Cousin Vinny because it correctly portrays the law and courtroom procedure, despite being a comedy.

    14. Gracely*

      TEACHING. Glee might have been the worst (no you cannot switch from teaching spanish to teaching history because “you watch a lot of history channel” what the utter fuck?), but pretty much any depiction where someone comes in and fixes everything is utter bullshit. Dead Poets’ Society, etc. makes me want to throw things.

      Abbott Elementary is sort-of an exception, in that it shows anyone can’t just decide to start teaching/simple fixes never work/you can’t gumption or inspire your way into teaching your students stuff because they see through that no matter their age/sometimes you just have to work around the unfathomable incompetence of people in charge/etc. It’s still not accurate, but it gets at the gist of what it’s like better than any other show/movie I’ve seen.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        Haha I didn’t see your comment before and also thought immediately of Glee. No, actually, it’s not inspiring that this man gets super involved in his students’ personal lives! Doesn’t he have adult friends?

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        The frightening thing about changing subjects that you’re teaching? I know someone who graduated with a French major and was teaching French. When the budget got cut suddenly she was also supposed to teach Spanish I. She had never studied Spanish, nor was she from a Spanish-speaking family.

      1. Academic glass half full*

        oh THIS!
        And for people who don’t know
        “Gloves reduce your dexterity. In other words, they can make you clumsier. Gloves, particularly white cotton ones, aren’t very fitted. You can’t grip things as well or as carefully with them on as you can with bare fingertips, which means it’s much easier to tear a page accidentally when you’re wearing gloves.
        Gloves get dirty. White cotton gloves aren’t sterile, and their absorbent fabric surface picks up lots of dirt and debris. As our visitors know, old manuscripts and books can get your hands filthy! When all this dirt ends up on gloves, it can transfer to other books and manuscripts and cause damage.
        Gloves stop you from learning about an item. Many scholars – and indeed our staff – need to know about an item’s physical qualities. The feel of the paper can tell you more about its history and production, for example. This type of engagement with the physical object becomes impossible when you’re wearing cotton gloves.
        So what do we recommend instead? Handle our manuscripts and rare books with clean, dry hands. We might ask you to use gloves for certain items in our collections that react more strongly to dirt or human oils – some glass negatives, art or other delicate objects, for example. But on the whole, if you are clean and careful in your handling, your skin won’t cause any significant damage”
        From the British Library

    15. Well...*

      Physicist here! From an underrepresented group. The Big Bang Theory gets so much wrong. First off, the “we’re so geeky” thing doesn’t really persist so much past the PhD level, a lot of those people leave the field after grad school. Rock climbing is a far more widespread hobby than dnd, and I’ve gotten confirmation of this from the US, Canada, South America, Europe, and New Zealand. Hiking is also a major past time. We’re a very international group, which most movies or TV shows miss (Space Force has one joke about this actually). Don’t Look Up did a decent job at representing physicists, but the US-focus of it all was a little unrealistic (multiple missions from many countries would be going on to stop the meteor, and many would be more well-funded than the US program).

      Another thing that most media misses is how highly collaborative we are, including theorists. We aren’t just lone weirdos starting into space pondering deep questions in a vacuum. We read each other’s work constantly, talk to each other all the time in meetings or just brainstorming on Slack/Skype, go to conferences, do tons of public speaking, etc. Extroverts abound at the high levels (but it skews introvert for students).

      1. Nightengale*

        I have finally reached the realiazation that I must enjoy yelling at medical shows.

        Interestingly I tend to yell at them less for getting medical facts about disease, treatments, etc wrong, and more at getting hospitals and medical education wrong. No, the whole team doesn’t take call at once, that is what call means. No, hospital boards do not make decisions about residents, that is the resident review committee. Why are the surgeons running the NICU?

    16. Dark Macadamia*

      Pretty much every teacher on TV is WILDLY inappropriate and unprofessional, even the good ones. The biggest pet peeve for me personally is when the show spends a lot of time telling you how great a teacher is while showing them be AGGRESSIVELY TERRIBLE and it’s not meant to be like “oh, people don’t realize” or “they’ve got everyone fooled” but you as a viewer are supposed to sincerely think Mr. Schuester is an inspiring role model.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Honestly, a lot of movies, books, TV shows about school appear to me as if they were written as if kids’ perceptions are actually objectively true. Like the “cool but inappropriate teacher who breaks all the rules” is objectively awesome, instead of either a slacker who just lets kids do what they like because it’s easier than making them work or “that” teacher that is more invested in being a “friend” to the kids than actually being an authority figure.

        Or they fail to deal with bullying because “the teachers just don’t care” or because the bully is one of “the cool kids” and for some reason, the teachers are impressed by that rather than because the teachers are overworked and don’t notice the bullying or because the victim is scared to report it or because the bully has serious behavioural problems which the teachers are trying to intervene with but it’s not that easy (especially if the bully sees suspension as “yay!! time off school” and will just refuse to turn up for detentions, etc), all of which are far more common reasons for teacher to fail to deal with it.

        It often feels like the writers are remembering their own schooldays and are writing based on what they felt at the time, rather than re-evaluating through their now adult eyes and thinking “oh yeaaah, the teacher probably actually didn’t know about that. We just assumed they did and didn’t care because it didn’t occur to us that adults could be distracted by other things” or “oh looking back now, the stuff that cool teacher did wasn’t such a good idea really. It was funny, but it could so easily have gone wrong.”

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          Haha, yes! I’m willing to give, say, Miss Honey from Matilda a bit of a pass because that book is written FOR children and of course the idea of a beloved teacher saving a kid from an abusive family is nice. It drives me crazy with media for adults!

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        As a former high school chorus kid, I want to know where they got their show budget. And why is nobody calling out praise for their kick ass backup bands?

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          I choose to believe any of the flashy numbers is meant to be a fantasy sequence, lol. Anything beyond t-shirts and Brad the pianist is only in their imagination

    17. Birdie*

      My father joined the FBI (not as an agent) at the height of the X-Files popularity. As you can imagine, he had…..opinions…..about how the show portrayed the FBI. I had to forbid him from watching it with me because I just couldn’t take his commentary any more.

      He has opinions about any show/movie that has the FBI in it. Lots of opinions, most of them of the negative sort. But as a teenage girl who enjoyed her hour of alien-fueled escapism every week, I got really tired of hearing all the criticism about my favorite show (that was about alien conspiracies! And monsters! Grounded in reality was not exactly the show’s M.O.).

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Even as a big X-Files fan (who knew nothing about the FBI) at the time it was originally aired, I’d think “hmm, I doubt a real FBI agent would do this.” Did he happen to see The Americans, and if so, what did he think?

        1. Birdie*

          I don’t know if ever ever watched The Americans. Funny enough, before I switched careers and ended up in fundraising, I did my masters in international relations and worked (briefly) for a think tank where I was a specialist in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. I binged The Americans during the early days of the pandemic and loved every absurd second of it. Even Keri Russell’s atrocious Russian. It’s TV. It’s fun.

          Although maybe my experience of (again, briefly) working in television helped put some perspective on the whole thing. Most of it is absurd, not based on reality, image over substance; either embrace it and suspend your disbelief, or don’t. But stop ruining the fun for the rest of us, ya know?

    18. Dragon*

      Law & Order SVU, Season 3 Episode 5, “Tangled.”

      I couldn’t believe it when a nurse gave SVU a patient’s medical file, not to mention that SVU acted like it was perfectly normal.

    19. Library in the Middle*

      Teaching. Just… No. Abbott Elemetary *almost* gets it right, but no teachers leave their rooms with kids in them or spend that much time in the faculty room.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I loved Kindergarten Cop but with a few teachers in the family I had to work HARD to suspend my disbelief that he’d be allowed to take over with zero training.

    20. Irish Teacher*

      As a teacher, the main misconception I notice is the whole “cool teacher comes in and engages an entire class of previously failing students and now that they are engaged, they all also gain the ability to succeed at the subject and often even at all their subjects, including ones the teacher has nothing to do with.”

      In reality, the reasons students are failing are many and varied and are rarely as simple as “none of our subjects were interesting enough and if one teacher came up with a few fun classes, I’d be able to pass everything.” And they differ by student, so what will engage one student will completely turn off another.

      And often the super-engaging innovative lessons just…aren’t, anyway. Getting students to write a book/start a choir/make a video/getting them to discuss and debate ideas instead of just learning them off/using the lyrics of pop songs as examples of poetry…these are all pretty commonly used methods and no, they don’t make every single student suddenly start achieving As. (If only it were that easy.)

      Great question, by the way.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        I don’t know what you’re talking about, I introduced my students to rap music and now they all love Shakespeare!

    21. Medical Librarian*

      Librarian, and “shh” and “must be nice to read books all day” have nothing to do with my work life. Now, if I could find a way to get paid to read all day. . . .

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        And my husband is a geologist, which you wouldn’t think would come up in movies or TV all that often but it does and he has Things To Say. To be fair, it’s often science in general or climate or meteorology (which are not the same thing) or physics (because he also taught physics for a while) and not always geology.

        Oddly enough, one of the shows we really enjoyed watching together was the McGyver reboot despite the rampant scientific ridiculousness.

    22. Angstrom*

      Pilots. The radio communication and cockpit talk is completely nonstandard, plus all the grimacing and wrestling with the controls.
      EMTs and paramedics don’t all look like models, and most calls are not life-or-death emergencies.

      1. Dragon*

        OTOH, The Twilight Zone episode “The Odyssey of Flight 33” presented pilots accurately. Rod Serling’s brother, Robert Serling, was an aviation writer for UPI and helped with the cockpit dialogue. After the episode aired, Rod received letters from real-life pilots praising its technical accuracy.

    23. Spearmint*

      I work for a state government agency, and I think tv and movies often depict government bureaucrats as uncaring, dead eyed robots. In reality, I think most government employees do care and to the extent it seems like they don’t a lot of it is due to red tape that is beyond their control. Additionally, I think fictional media often glosses over how some of this red tape is reasonable, or at least it’s understandable why it’s there even if maybe it shouldn’t be.

    24. Liz*

      SO MANY! I work mental health and one of my favourite games is playing “spot all the things that are wrong” ever time a therapist shows up on TV. Completely inappropriate room, zero boundaries, seriously iffy confidentiality procedures, you name it. The ones that stand out the most are the sex therapist in the film Twister who takes random unscheduled calls from clients while in a car with other people and just launches straight into talking about issues, and the school counsellor in Stranger Things who has a kid show up at her house and just lets her walk right in for a chat.

    25. Double A*

      I’m a teacher and Hollywood gets it exactly right.

      HAHA just kidding. I tried to watch Glee and was like OMG everyone should be fired.

      Although weirdly my biggest pet peeve about the way teaching is portrayed in movies/TV is the teacher being in the middle of a lecture or discussion and then the bell rings and they’re yelling out, “Don’t forget! Your reports are due tomorrow!” Like, teachers are SO aware of the clock and bell, we don’t just blather on obliviously until suddenly out of nowhere the bell rings.

      It’s low stakes but it’s in practically every classroom scene, just watch for it.

      1. PhysicsTeacher*

        The part of this that really gets me is when the teachers give what seems to be a NEW homework assignment while half the kids are already out the door.

    26. Siege*

      I work for a union. I would say that possibly the entire canon of media misrepresents my job. It’s an office job like many others, and I almost never sign checks on the tailgate of someone’s SUV or show up somewhere to be an intimidating union thug.

        1. Siege*

          “Only once so far” is still “almost never”! (It was a stack of political endorsement checks, too.)

    27. Shira VonDoom*

      I’ve worked with horses and have a lot of friends who do.

      I’m The Worst to watch anything with horses in, because I’ll coo over the horses I love best, and why, in exhaustive detail…and then be yelling about how “WAIT, THAT WAS A WHOLE DIFFERENT HORSE LAST SCENE, AND THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE HIS ‘BELOVED’ HORSE. THEY DIDN’T EVEN TRY TO HIDE IT HAS DIFFERENT MARKINGS!”

      (yes, obviously there are reasons of logistics and the horse performers’ health and safety they generally have a string of horses to portray one horse…however, sometimes there is more effort than others to disguise the different actual animals involved. Hidalgo, whatever its other problems, did a good job matching its main horse.)
      LOL

      1. Gracely*

        LOL, I do this with cats. “That IS DEFINITELY NOT THE SAME CAT, DAMMIT!”

        Sometimes, you just want them to use a damn puppet like they did with Salem on the old Sabrina the Teenage Witch show. Then it adds to the humor.

      2. Just a different redhead*

        Ahhhh I hear you, even though I’m no true expert I was still on about the old movie that was made of The Black Stallion using a winter black horse… (but that movie had SO many other problems it almost didn’t matter anymore – and yet its sequel was somehow worse)
        And then what the various movie versions of Pride and Prejudice do with Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley’s horses, mixing them up, switching them, etc…. XD

      3. Agile Phalanges*

        Also a horse person, and I love when you see the glint of shoes on a “wild” horse.

        Also all the whinnying in movies/TV–horses nicker, whuffle, squeal, etc. occasionally, and are silent a LOT of the time, but don’t full-on whinny nearly as often as movies/TV would have you believe. My horse pretty much only does it when my friend drives in the driveway with her horse trailer (to pick us up) and she wants to know which friend she gets to hang out with today. :-)

      4. ArchivesPony*

        As someone who grew up with horses, I have a very hard time watching anything that has horses in it.

    28. Me ... Just Me*

      I feel you. I’m in the medical field. We actually laugh quite a bit about what’s shown on TV about what happens in hospitals.

    29. Enough*

      My husband and I were Civil engineers and they don’t tend to show up in TV shows. But we do notice a lot of things that just are very, very, unlikely to happen in real life. We turn to each other and one will say “it’s television”. Television is not reality. As far as media in general more and more there is a lot information that gets left out. When I read an article I should not still be wondering about the who, what, why, where or how?

    30. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

      Former biocontainment researcher here. The movie Outbreak was sooooo cringe. Contagion was a bit more accurate – except for the part where the researcher injected herself with the trial vaccine.

      Now I’m a software developer. A field that is never, ever misrepresented in TV and movies. /s

    31. Robin Ellacott*

      I work loosely in substance use treatment, as well as working with a bunch of counsellors, and hoo boy, in movies and TV it shows a lot of people addressing substance use disorders in ways that are black and white at best and cruel/unethical at worst. Therapy scenes in general make me wince a lot of the time.

      Also the number of shows where people drink for hours with colleagues and then happily drive home….

      My dad is an astrophysicist and sci fi movies with him are peppered with muttering about how that’s not how physics works, or there’s no sound in space, or similar.

      1. Robin Ellacott*

        Also this is just a personal pet peeve, but are people at all aware that the moon is not ALWAYS full? Unless it’s a show about werewolves, I object.

        I swear, every single stock shot of the moon is a full moon. Once seen, it cannot be unseen.

        1. I edit everything*

          In books, it’s either full or new, depending on the needs of the character. One of the things I always track (when the moon is mentioned) is how long it’s been since the last time the moon was full, and the current phase.

      2. Gracely*

        Sound in space doesn’t bother me, because I just tell myself that the sound in the vacuum is coming from wherever the music and the light that makes everything visible is coming from. And I would much rather have TV/movies with music and decent lighting than not be able to see much, a la House of Dragons/Game of Thrones.

      3. anon for this*

        I also work in the substance use field…don’t watch that NCIS episode I started this thread with, unless you want to see tons of people dropping dead from being in close proximity to (but not actually ingesting) fentanyl!!!

        So much of the field is poorly represented, but I especially hate how every time there is a character arc involving a relapse, the person goes from being totally sober to all of the sudden binging on every single substance (alcohol, pills, cocaine, etc) all at the same time. And they go into rehab and are sober again by the next episode! Also the lack of any types of treatment being portrayed outside of 12-step meetings. It’s so out of sync with what the process looks like for most people.

    32. The OG Sleepless*

      I’m a veterinarian, and every representation of my job ever in any media is absurd. I hardly know where to start.
      Obviously, we do NOT treat injured criminals so they don’t have to go to the human hospital.

      We don’t sell drugs out the back door to crime lords (thank YOU, Breaking Bad…by the way, the box of stuff they have the big standoff over in the first season? You never see the actual product, but the package color looks like Drontal, a dewormer).

      We don’t have a million exotic species running around everywhere.

      We don’t have ketamine sitting out on a shelf clearly labeled KETAMINE for any yahoo to break in a steal.

      Dr. Pol does NOT represent how most of us do things.

      And like any other medical professional, we spend hours writing charts.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Please tell me that all creatures great and small is an exception. I’ve loved both series made from that and all of his books.

        1. The OG Sleepless*

          I haven’t seen the series, but I loved the books too. For a large animal practitioner in rural Britain in the 1930s, I’m sure it’s pretty accurate. It’s a long, long way from a suburban small animal practitioner in the 2020s, though.

    33. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Honestly the only technical writing I can remember from TV was a very pointed and perfect SNL skit about ambiguous language: ” Remember, you can’t put too much water into a nuclear reactor.”

      Otherwise it’s Tina from Dilbert.

    34. Former museum worker*

      Museum work. Clearly no one knows what a curator does, what they are like, what degrees they have (ahem, NYT crossword puzzle — curators are PhDs, not MFAs), nor how an exhibition is developed and created. Oh, and in a book a read many years ago, there was a wildly fantastical imagining of collection-storage/registrar work, including something like a “bat phone” the connected all registrars in all museums the world over. I laughed out loud.

      Also: Most anything animal science related (my field of museums). The reboot of Planet of the Apes, when they breathe in that magical dust and can instantly talk? Yeah, that’s not how vocal cords work. Humans vocal cords evolved over a very long time to be able to produce the sounds we make in our language; apes’ have not, no matter how intelligent they are. It’s not that they couldn’t manage language, but they literally do not have the physiology to speak English and sound like Andy Serkis.

      PS: My partner hates watching certain types of movies with me.

    35. Indolent Libertine*

      Classical music. Every time, every medium; books unless nonfiction, tv, movies. Plus the totally cringe shots of the actors who took two whole months of lessons!!1! faking their way through miming to the music.

    36. Not that Leia*

      I’m an architect and it appears from movies that we do hardly any work at all but are mostly just available as professional-yet-slightly-arty arm candy.
      Also I’ve literally never used an actual blueprint and I’ve been practicing for YEARS.

    37. noncommittal pseudonym*

      I’ve done forensic DNA in the past, and testified. Yeah. Those tests don’t get done in 10 minutes.

    38. They Don’t Make Sunday*

      Journalism and treatment of sources. The movie 27 Dresses hinges on journalistic malpractice so enormous that it would have gotten the Kevin character fired (rather than promoted). No way would any newspaper reporter write a feature about a regular citizen without revealing that they are the subject of a profile. None of what Jane told Kevin about herself over the course of their relationship was on the record (only the stuff about her sister’s upcoming wedding was). And suddenly, boom! she’s on the front page of the Styles section (or whatever it’s called in the movie) in all the photos that Kevin took of her ALSO off the record because he didn’t have her permission to be photographed for the paper. That movie was fun but it makes journalists look like sneaky, unscrupulous a-holes.

    39. MoMac*

      Therapists are always portrayed as having boundary issues that would cost them their license in the real world.

      1. Agnes*

        Medical researcher here. Clinical trials are always misrepresented; they are always portrayed as some amazing new drug that is being withheld from people for some reason.

        Look, the reason we do trials is we DON”T KNOW IF THE DRUG WORKS. If we did, we wouldn’t need a trial, and it would be astoundingly unethical, and these things are highly regulated and would not be allowed to go forward.
        Also, most trials fail.

    40. WheresMyPen*

      I work in publishing. I wish my salary afforded me the kind of flat Bridget Jones lives in, or Kate Winslet/Jude Laws’ stunning houses in the Holiday. Or even any whole property to myself instead of having to rent a room in a house. But alas not.

      1. WheresMyPen*

        Also forgot to add that my parents were both police officers (in the U.K.) and I can’t watch a police/detective drama without them complaining about the uniform/hair not tied up/wrong rank doing a job/misconduct/100 other complaints

    41. GingerNP*

      Grey’s Anatomy is chock full of physicians doing all the things that nurses and techs/CNAs actually do in the hospital.
      Including compressions when someone is coding.
      Starting IVs, giving medications, walking patients to the bathroom etc etc.

    42. onyxzinnia*

      I could only watch the first two episodes of Emily in Paris for this very reason. She just waltzes into an agency in another country, without even speaking the language or understanding the client brands yet has the audacity to tell them that they’re doing their jobs wrong. And somehow she manages to run a viral social media campaign despite having no background in social media.

  11. Come On Eileen*

    Like many of you, my job went fully remote during the pandemic. Before that, I was working in our main office four days a week and from home one day a week. That one day a week was a real treat! I loved it. But being fully remote five days a week has been SO HARD for me. Most of my co-workers truly love it and never want to go back to being in an office. I hate how isolated and alone it makes me feel. So I sought out a co-working space and signed up. I have a place to get up and go to every morning, with free coffee and desk space and other people working around me. It’s not quite the same as having hundreds of my co-workers working around me but it’s much better for my emotional and mental health than being alone all day long.

    Is anyone here in the same boat? Don’t love being remote and finding creative options to establish a new routine?

    1. Roland*

      I’ve definitely considered it, maybe not every day but sometimes. Do you find that people actually interact with one another at all, or just kind of exist in the same space? I dropped in to one a few timws before the pandemic and no one really interacted but that’s not a lot of data of course.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Sometimes it’s less about interacting with people and more about being around other people’s energy. Shoot, for me that’s all it’s about. I don’t talk to anyone except the person who makes my coffee, but I like being around activity when I work from the coffee shop.

        1. Come On Eileen*

          Yes, agree! While ideally, I’d be interacting in the co-working space with others more than I am now, I really thrive off the routine of having a place to go every day where other professionals are doing the same thing. I like grabbing the communal coffee and making chit chat as I heat up my lunch and showing people how to use the shared printer. I wouldn’t get that from dropping into a coffee shop.

        2. Rosemary*

          When I was in grad school I used to study at the dining room table next to my roommate, despite having a perfectly good desk in my room. I just needed to be around SOMEONE…it helped keep me focused on my work, because he’d think I was weird if I just sat there staring into space or whatever. Now I am 100% WFH and love it, but sometimes do have a bit harder time staying focused.

    2. kiwiii*

      I have a coworker who hauls himself to a coffee shop every other afternoon. He can do most of the job in his home space, but if he didn’t go to the coffee shop, I’d never get task X from him in a timely manner a;sldfkj.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      My last job was fully remote. I was lucky to have a designated office space at home, but sometimes I haaated being there. My partner also worked from home full time (he still does, I was laid off) and that made it harder some days, easier others.

      We live near a food hall and I loved taking my laptop there to have breakfast and work. I would sit at the bar and stare at the bottle display between emails.

      I’m looking for a hybrid job now. :-)

    4. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      I really like having a home office that looks out over a small chunk of the city where I live. Natural light is important, of course, but also just the idea of orienting myself to my location and community while I work.

    5. Cookies for Breakfast*

      Yeah, there are many reasons I love working remotely (commuting cost for one, and also the flexibility to have time for a lot of dull housework that would otherwise eat up my weekends), but at the same time I also hate that it makes me feel so lonely.

      The difference for me right now is I’d still feel isolated if I went to the office more often, because most of my colleagues work remotely, so the place is pretty empty on any given day.

      I’ve considered working from a coffee shop one afternoon a week, but haven’t acted on it yet. I’ve considered taking breaks that I dedicate to exercising outdoors, but that would mean running, and running is the thing I do when I’m truly desperate for an outlet (I not so secretly hate it). Really, what I’d love most of all is making friends to do things with after work, which I’m finding almost impossible as an adult. I know having people to connect with about my personal interests (which I love far more than any job I’ve had) would take the sting off the isolation at work.

      1. WheresMyPen*

        I feel the same way. I much prefer being at home to going into the office now, but miss out on the social side as most of my friends are spread around the country and I don’t live in the same city as my office. I am trying to build more groups of friends, eg I love sewing and am quite active on Instagram so put a shout out for other sewists in my area and we’re going to go for a coffee next week. But it’s slow going, I’ve tried so many hobbies and clubs but rarely meet people I’d want to hang out with regularly

        1. WheresMyPen*

          Also you could just go for walks outside with some music or a podcast instead of running! I hate running too, plus having to take the extra 30 minutes to shower and change afterwards

    6. NotBatman*

      Something that helped me was doing ONLY work stuff on my work computer, and ONLY personal stuff on my personal computer. I’d walk over to my work computer where it never left my desk, “clock in” in the morning, and leave it sitting on the desk as I got up to eat or stretch or read AAM on my personal laptop. While I was sitting at my desk, I was mentally in work-mode because I set up the work computer to only give me access to work files and work-relevant websites. In the evening I’d “clock out” and leave the laptop on my desk, not returning to my desk at all until the following morning. Of course, this all assumes your job gave you a computer, so might not help.

      1. Come On Eileen*

        Thank you! I love hearing what works well for other people. Having a defined routine is HUGE for me. At the same time, I need a routine that puts me in the path of other professionals. Staying home alone, even with the countless Zoom meetings we have, doesn’t give me that.

    7. Kristine*

      Nope, you’re definitely not alone in this! I work a hybrid job. Honestly, I’d prefer to work fully in-person, but working remotely 2-3 days a week allows me to get a lot of extra sleep. If my office was next door to my house or something, I’d never work remotely. But I also work in mental health and spend a lot of time processing stuff with my coworkers and vice versa.

    8. Shira VonDoom*

      I only work remotely during Weather, but I don’t have a room I can close off from rambunctious young cats, so while I love them, the INSTANT the road clears, I check with my bosses and I’m back in the office, LOL

      I might feel differently if we had a very busy or loud office, but I’m a legal assistant and usually I’m alone on my side of the suite, so being in office generally means glorious silence AND my furry helpers not doing laps around my laptop and across my lap, and fighting each other, while I’m trying to focus. LOL

    9. allathian*

      I’ve realized that I love hybrid. Unlike you, I really enjoy WFH, and I don’t like my 45-minute commute. I’d hate it if I had to waste 90 minutes a day, every day, on that again. But I enjoy being around my coworkers, and if there’s a genuine reason to be at the office, like an in-person meeting or a birthday celebration, I’m there. I’m also happy that my manager accepts that I won’t get as much work done at the office as I would at home.

      I’m also not alone at home for weeks on end, my husband also WFH most days, and our son’s at school.

      It does help that I’m no longer particularly worried about Covid, and our health authorities, and my employer, are treating it like any other infectious respiratory illness. If I had to mask up at the office, I’d stay home, although I’m glad that we still have sanitizer everywhere.

    10. lunchtime caller*

      I’ve worked from home for many years and always preferred it, but the pandemic was a stark reminder that “work from home” isn’t the same as “working while locked in my home all day every day.” The latter sucks! I have definitely used coworking spaces for a month or two, especially in the winter when I feel extra cooped up, and they help a lot. Same thing with planning to do X task at a coffee shop for a few hours. I’m not sure if it’s relevant to your industry, but making extra efforts to do more in person socializing with people in my field (so usually coffee or drinks with friends, coworkers, contacts, etc) also helps me get some of that energy of other people’s brains that I can then take back to my normal workday.

  12. Hiring manager*

    I am a hiring manager in the process of final round interviews with candidates, hopefully making an offer next week. Our strongest candidate so far (who I will likely be sending an offer to once we finish interviews with everyone) is someone who recently separated from the military and this would be his first civilian job. I have no doubt he has the skills to be successful, but I know there will be a big cultural difference between our (very casual) office and the military and it will probably be an adjustment. What are some things I should keep in mind as a manager to help set him up for success?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I’ve given this advice to the soon-to-be-ex military people. A couple things about communications (and this may or may not be necessary, depending on his branch of service and his career path within it).

      1) His jargon won’t be your jargon, but he can learn the equivalents easily. It’s no longer “My CO”, it’s “My boss”. Let him know that you’ll help him with those things.

      2) He may need to learn different question-and-answer habits. Let him know that when you ask him “Did you see the Ferguson report this morning”, it’s a leading question, and what you really mean is “What do you think about it?”

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Let him know that you’ll help him with those things.

        In some questions about interns, I see a lot of people write “my intern is doing XYZ, how do they not know that in an office you have to do ABC!?” And the answer is, “did you tell them to do ABC instead of XYZ? Interns are learning office norms and when they don’t pick things up on their own, you should tell them.”

        Someone with military experience isn’t the same as an intern, but I think having a mindset of “if I see something that deviates from civilian office norms, I will quickly and professionally correct them” will help you approach these situations as they come up.

    2. WorkFromHomerSimpson*

      My experience with former military in their first civilian jobs (including watching my ex after he got out of the Army), is that they often struggle with the lack of procedures and hierarchy in the civilian world.* (*Yes, this is generalizing and won’t apply to all former military or all civilian roles. Please assume my entire comment has that caveat.) In the military, there is literally a procedure for almost everything you can think of, and if there isn’t, then you just do what your CO tells you to do. You don’t do anything on your own without some pretty explicit instructions. In the civilian world, we’re less structured and often expect employees to think on their feet, develop new processes themselves, ask questions, and even challenge their bosses (in a collaborative way). Some people adjust to this quickly, and others really struggle with feeling like they have no structure. One guy spent about 6 months driving himself crazy trying to implement military-level procedures in our otherwise very unstructured workplace and when he finally realized no one else wanted the procedures or would use them, he pronounced us hopeless and quit. Now, we undoubtedly could’ve used a *bit* more structure, but we were never going to be the military. The nature of our business and the culture of our workplace just wouldn’t work that way. He was trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. So, my advice is to reflect on the nature of your business and culture and be aware that areas with less structure or more uncertainty might be difficult for former military to adjust to at first. Be very clear about where you expect them to be taking their own initiative and figuring things out for themselves, because that might not be as obvious to them initially.

    3. Chauncy Gardener*

      As a vet, I would say please let him know that you support him in this transition and that some of your feedback will probably come off as nitpicky, but you’re trying to help him assimilate into the civilian work world.
      If you don’t normally do this, have weekly one on ones with him to give him a venue to ask questions and for you to help him with everything from vocabulary to office norms to how things are done at your specific company.
      Generally, although everyone’s different, you can be much more direct with a vet than civilians. Just shoot straight and don’t beat around the bush with him.
      YMMV depending upon what his job was in the military too. Some roles are very prescribed and follow orders, some make independent decisions and give orders.
      He will also need help understanding corporate benefits and what everyone else in the company does. Walk him through the org chart and really explain how everyone contributes to the company’s mission. And explain what the company’s mission is!
      Good luck and thanks for hiring a vet!

    4. km85*

      One really important thing is to think about the style of leadership/management they’re coming from. Is the individual who is going to be their supervisor a very clear communicator and confident leader? Try to put this person under the most authoritative supervisor possible.

  13. Anecdata*

    Interested in how this works at different offices —

    When people say something like “I’m a junior llama analyst, but I’m regularly taking on projects that would typically be assigned to a senior llama analyst”

    How do you know? (What kinds of projects should be done by what level of IC?) Is there documentation, is it a thing your manager tells you, etc?

    It feels like such a mystery to me, and I don’t know how to figure out if I’m under-leveled or what

    1. Cookies for Breakfast*

      At some workplaces, or for some types of roles, it might well be a thing your manager tells you. I’d lean towards having seen more senior people do similar work and taking it as a clue that the work you’re doing is at a higher level.

      At an old workplace, I made an attempt to pin down my level with a known tech company’s framework my manager swore by, and it was a minefield for a number of reasons.

      I was absolutely taking on tasks that were designed for more senior people…but only through stressful trial and error and a lot of winging it, because I had no training or support (I still feel I’m no better at those than I was a year ago, just more conscious of my strengths and limits).

      I could point to skills at a more senior level in some areas, and skills below my level in others, and didn’t really see that balance changing (some of the skills would drive my role in a direction I didn’t want, others were in areas the company didn’t care one bit about, which put me at a big disadvantage job hunting).

      That leads me to think the quality of the work and what you’re in a good position to learn from it matters, not only the type of project. It’s way too easy for companies to throw “more senior” work at people with the promise of a progression opportunity because it’s the most cost-effective way for them, and with no intention of setting them up for success.

    2. A Penguin!*

      I think it only really works by comparing your projects to that of both other juniors, and to that of seniors. Which can be hard (but not impossible) to assess if you are junior. Rarely is there clear documentation differences there. The only kind of manager who would be likely to tell you this is a good manager who wants to promote you to senior but is being prevented from doing so – a bad manager wouldn’t tell you, and a good one who wasn’t hamstrung from above would make the promotion happen, not just tell you that you were overperforming.

    3. BellyButton*

      Often it is less about what you do, but how you do it. For example, I expect a junior llama analyst to be able to handle roadblocks as they appear and communicate the navigation of the roadblocks, a senior analyst I expect to be able to identify potential roadblocks before they happen and adjust accordingly.

      Another example- I expect a junior llama analyst to be able to execute the project and stick to deliverables and timelines while working with other teams. I expect the senior analyst to be able to determine outcomes, set deliverables and time lines, and facilitate the relationships with the other teams.

      This is just a couple general examples of how I tend to explain it to people.

    4. Relentlessly Socratic*

      I’m in a role that has different level analysts. Jr staff are more heavily supervised and the Sr level are expected to be more independent. The Jr staff might be good at “daily llama grooming” and could be expected to do that with minimal supervision, but not as good at “show day llama grooming” which is a more sophisticated and complex form of grooming, might be given more regularly to the Sr staff. But, as you learn more about “show day” grooming, as a Jr, you might be assigned that to do on your own and could point to that as something seen as more Sr level.

      Is there documentation depends on the co/role/project, but it’s something that your manager or team lead can help you understand (if you’re in a matrixed org, your manager may not know as well as your team lead what’s Jr and Sr.).

      1. Anecdata*

        Thanks, this is really helpful!

        My technical specialty is new to my company, so there are some more junior ppl in our world, but no one more senior (ie we do Analyst 1, 2, Senior, Lead, Staff, Principle). I actually just found out those /are/ the available titles for our IC progression track; I had previously thought thought senior and 2 were the same thing, and just different departments used different names

    5. WantonSeedStitch*

      In some places, that’s in the job descriptions. For example, maybe junior llama analysts have it in their JD that they’re supposed to assist with wool production data projects, but senior llama analysts are supposed to design and lead wool production data projects. If you’re a junior and you’ve designed and led a project, that would be an example of doing senior-level work.

      1. Anecdata*

        Ooh, interesting
        It is not in our job descriptions, but we also often use a single posting to cover multiple possible levels (ie. We post for llama analyst, but might hire a 1, 2 or senior analyst out of those applicants)

  14. AITA?*

    Curious what the commentariat might say about the following…

    I manage a department of 3. We have been temporarily short-staffed for about a month, returning to full capacity next month. One of my senior staffers asked to take a week off later this month, leaving my department of 3 to a department of 1 (plus me) They are aware that next month we will be fully staffed. Their request was general and specifically noted that it wasn’t for a particular occasion or event. I am very supportive of folks going on vacation — I literally have to badger my staff NOT to respond to work stuff and I try not to send them anything unless they need it when they return. But, I am irritated that this person can’t wait a week until we return to full capacity. Am I wrong to want to ask them to hold off a week?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Don’t start off irritated– assume good intent. “I know you asked for this specific week– would you be able to do the following week, when Clarissa starts?” Then accept the answer. This person is probably burned out. Or can you ask for a compromise, like Thursday and Friday off the “bad” week and Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday off the “good” week?

        1. Molly*

          I’m not wild about this as a compromise. When someone takes a Monday thru Friday week off, they also get two weekends. Having to spit the week like that would feel like I got shorted. I know it’s technically 7 days vs 9 days, but that extra weekend can make a big difference.

          Can your department adjust its workload?

          Also, if the fully staffed future means you’re getting new people, they won’t be up to speed immediately anyway. I’d let the person take the standard Mon-Fri week, they’ll be refreshed, and the dept can get back up to speed when they return.

      1. AITA?*

        I would be hard pressed to say burn out… they’ve taken 3.5 weeks off in the past 4 months. I don’t fault them for taking the time off… I’m just clarifying that their schedule has not changed so drastically that they haven’t been able to take time off.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          That’s new info, and it does change things– if they’ve taken that much time off, then just tell them you’d prefer they wait until you’re fully staffed.

        2. This Old House*

          I was going to say to make sure it’s not something like the person needing to use time by the end of the month or it stops accruing or something, but with that amount of time taken recently that also seems unlikely.

    2. Massive Dynamic*

      Your annoyance is justified, but you really shouldn’t say anything to your employee. Just give them the week they asked for. They could have a reason for needing that particular week, and you are not entitled to any reason from them.

      1. Cut & Run*

        I agree. I would be a little frustrated and annoyed and you’re NOT the A. No one in this situation is. Ultimately, I would just accept it, because while the week will be a massive inconvenience, you’ll quickly forget about it shortly after they return.

        1. AITA?*

          I won’t forget about it unfortunately. This staffer has a tendency to not manage their time well. They have called out sick/handyman/flood on days they know we’re busy or if something hasn’t gone according to plan. Last minute doctor’s appointments have cropped up when asked to work on something or visit one of our work sites. We’ve had a few conversations around it, but as a long-time employee and one that my boss likes (I’ve talked to her about this), there’s not a whole lot I can do beyond pointing out the situation to my staffer and providing course correction. And while I would never cite this as an example officially (low-stakes), it feels par for the course in how they operate and frustrating.

          1. Massive Dynamic*

            Ah, yes that info changes things. A chronic absentee, no matter how good each reason is on its own, is frustrating as hell to manage. I hope that you can show your boss the big-picture effect of all of this to get her backing at some point to manage your employee on a more macro level there. As in, making an explicit requirement for __% attendance, mandatory deadlines, etc.

            For this specific week away, it does seem like a gentle inquiry into if there is flexibility in the week they take off is warranted. Your employee probably WON’T read between the lines that their absence is once again affecting the team, but I guess there’s a small chance that they actually could switch the week away.

          2. Spearmint*

            I mean, people don’t get decide when they’re sick or need a repairman, so I don’t see how them calling out at inconvenient times for you is at all a strike against them.

            1. I edit everything*

              The implication is that the callouts are more frequent than most people experience, and might be “conveniently” scheduled for days when the expectations at work are higher.

    3. ShysterB*

      If in fact you were to continue to be short-staffed past next month (or the month after, or the month after …), how would you respond to a request for time off?

      I think it’s human, and understandable, to want to ask your employee to hold off especially if you are 100% absolutely positively sure you will approve the request as soon as you’re up to full staffing levels. But it’s not your employee’s fault that you’re short-staffed, and they shouldn’t be required to postpone use of a benefit because the company failed to maintain adequate staffing for any period of time.

      1. AITA?*

        If we were short-staffed for a longer period or indeterminate amount of time, I wouldn’t think twice about it… People deserve to take vacation. It’s explicitly the fact that we will be fully staffed the following week.

        1. Katiekins*

          You’ll be fully staffed, but will you be fully operational? Maybe your worker thinks the new staff will take some time learning the job and looks at it like we won’t be up and running 100 percent for a while anyway, so I might as well take time off now.

            1. Katiekins*

              I think it’s reasonable, with a staff of three, to say that only one person can be off st a time, especially if the other person’s leave was just one month.

              1. cncx*

                I work in a team of three and barring illness/emergencies/ etc we can only be off one at a time over a week due to coverage. Like, if one of us is on vacation, it’s fine for someone to take one day off or have a handyman issue but not the whole week. The idea is we have this rule and then it takes a lot of bad luck for us to be down two. It wouldn’t even occur to me to take off the week before someone was coming back. So I’m team NTA here.

    4. I should really pick a name*

      Please do what you can to remove the irritation from it. There’s nothing wrong with them asking.

      It sounds like you’ve got a real business reason to ask them to delay. Have a conversation about it. Maybe they’re open to moving the time off. Maybe they’ll give you a reason that justifies being really short staffed for a week.

      1. Ins mom*

        But when your new person arrives there will be training and orientation etc. will it be any better??

    5. JustMyImagination*

      Perhaps they want that week off because they anticipate being involved in the new person’s training and want to be available?

      1. AITA?*

        It’s not a new person starting, but even if it was, they wouldn’t be specifically tasked with that person’s training.

    6. Lost my name again*

      I’ll add this, while they did not share the specific occasion or event with you, that doesn’t mean there isn’t really one. You’ve been understaffed for a while now, one week won’t break anything.

        1. Me ... Just Me*

          It sounds that you are generally irritated with this person. You are tracking their days off as if it’s a personal affront to you. So, let’s bring this back a level. Does your company generally allow folks to take sick days as a benefit? Does the person have accrued vacation that is available for them to use as a benefit? If the answer is “yes” then you may just need to let this go. Not liking the person doesn’t justify this level of scrutiny. Obviously, it’s okay to be irritated that they don’t stay late or were out sick during a busy time, but things like that happen — be irritated about the situation rather than at the person. Managers have to find a way to treat people that they don’t particularly like with the same level of care and respect as those they do like.

          1. AITA?*

            I don’t dislike the person, I actually like them as a person. I take issue with how they manage their time. They have a pattern of unreliable behavior when it comes to their schedule. Calling out sick when bad things happen, asking to work remotely on Fridays due to repair issues (we’re hybrid and need a staffer in the office every day). They’ve had last-minute appointments after confirming they were able to attend a meeting. I take issue with this pattern and have kept track of it because, well, there’s a pattern. And I’m not the only person impacted by it, because my other staffer often has to pick up some of the slack that is left as a result of said pattern.

            1. Supervisorintraining*

              On its own, the request is harmless and the response should be the same as any time off request (regardless of staffing): Is their presence truly critical for that period of time? The answer is usually no (unless say, you’re a tax preparer trying to take off the week prior to filing deadlines). The other staffers would have to pick up the slack, but that is the case for any time off request. (And as the manager, you’ll have to pick some items that just may not get done during that week).

              As far as this goes, this is how you need to evaluate the staffer’s request. Based on your comments, it sounds like you are mixing this individuals’ spotty attendance (which is an issue and needs to be managed) with their time off requests (which is unrelated and not an issue). These two things are separate and should be viewed as such.

              As to the workload, it sounds like you are trying to accomplish everything your team normally would, despite being understaffed. As the manager, I strongly recommend you look at what items can be deferred/dropped until you are back at full staffing.

    7. RagingADHD*

      NAH. It is reasonable under the circumstances to ask them to wait, but don’t get tetchy about it.

  15. Hlao-roo*

    The advice I’ve seen about leaving short jobs off your resume is because most people haven’t accomplished anything notable. Sounds like you do have some worthwhile accomplishments, so it may be worth putting those on your resume.

    Be sure you have a good explanation for why you left this job after 3 months. (Not clear to me if you got laid off from the 3-month position–if so, that’s your good explanation.)

      1. Cut & Run*

        Oh good, I’m not the only one experiencing some posting issues :) I’ve never posted so soon after the gates opened and the traffic must be intense.

  16. Sharkie*

    I witnessed the most uncomfortable firing this week and I just had to tell someone about it!

    2 of our part time staff were laid off. They were rude to everyone, petty, and no difficult to be around. The director of the department called them in a meeting in their office, and must of been worried of how they would react because our company’s security was called. No big deal, but the 2 security guys just hovered at my desk the whole time since it is right outside the director’s office! Also the office has a glass wall that isn’t as sound proof as the other offices so I accidently heard a few things.

    It was so awkward for us in the office cause obviously something was up (this director never has closed door meetings) but we had to pretend that we didnt notice what was going on!

    1. rayray*

      I absolutely hate when this happens. Sounds like this was a justified firing but it’s also super weird that they did that with both of them at the same time. There was one time when I was made aware that someone would be let go later that week. I was at a desk right next to the conference room so when that person was brought in, I knew what was happening so I just left and hung around other parts of the office.

      We’ve had lots of layoffs at my company this year. It’s so horrible each time when you see people packing up their desk in front of everyone else, usually holding back tears. Absolutely awful to let someone go and then the bosses and sometimes even security hanging around. That person had no idea when they walked in that morning that they’d just have their livelihood stripped away and then they get the added bonus of humiliation packing up their desk while the rest of us don’t know if we should ignore it or what we could say or do.

      I know when these things happen it’s not as if the bosses are scheming and evil-laughing about it, but I seriously wish they’d go about it differently. I was luck the one time I was laid off, I was planning my exit anyway and didn’t keep much at my desk so I basically just picked up my stuff in my arms and walked out. I also had a smaller audience, only 2 people and I think one person was completely oblivious anyway. My boss did however, trick me into moving my car around so that I could hand over my parking badge, so I did feel really stupid for that.

      1. Sharkie*

        I explained it oddly, but it was one after the other and then both of them went in to do union things (IDK what it was it is since I am not union).

        I totally agree on the rest though. Thankfully they don’t have desks, or were not even allowed to access our offices normally so there wasn’t any awkward tears while packing. Since they were only super part time, this isn’t their only jobs. They both on multiple occasions have sad how much they hate working here, love their real jobs, and how they love doing nothing for $35/ hr.

        I am sorry if I am sounding too harsh, they made part of my job more difficult for fun and were not great people so I am a bit biased.

    2. Unkempt Flatware*

      Man. I once had a cube mate get fired and he came back and cried at me, fluids pouring out, and did a sort of bridge-lean against my only exit path. If I wanted to run away, I would have had to go under him London Bridge-style, if that helps illustrate. Firings of others in the same office you’re in is so so awkward and terrible.

    3. Lana Kane*

      Ooof, I can relate! I had this happen to me years when I was a receptionist. An employee, “Annie”, who was already on thin ice was overheard saying something like “I can’t stand HR Director, I wish (some sort of harm would come to her, I can’t remember what)”. This was taken as a direct threat, so the day she was going to get fired they parked a security guard in the reception area. I think the meeting was close to noon so he hung out there with me (just me!) all morning until the meeting. People kept coming in and out and would eye me questioningly (Annie even asked me when we ran into each other in the bathroom, although she didnt suspect it was about her) , but obviously I couldn’t say anything. Although Annie wasn’t my favorite person, I’m sure she didnt actually mean to make a threat, but even back then workplace violence was a thing. Fortunately the perp walk was out of sight of everyone else (except of course me, it was awful).

    4. Gatomon*

      That’s awful! I’ve been through a firing and layoff at my company and they do it differently.

      The employee is called into a meeting with their boss and HR to receive the news. While this is happening, everyone in their workspace/team gets pulled into a conference room by another manager. Those of us in the conference room are informed and have to chill out in there until the ex-employee finishes their meeting, gathers their things and leaves. It’s disruptive to our work, but it does spare the ex-employee from having to pack up in front of everyone while crying, etc. I’m surprised that’s not how other places do it.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Yeah, that’s how I’ve done at previous in the office jobs. It lets folks keep their dignity!

      2. rayray*

        this is a much better way of handling it than letting people be there to spectate, and then management getting mad when people start talking and rumors start going about. What do they expect to happen?

    5. Me ... Just Me*

      I’ve been laid off twice – both were a reduction in force, so others also lost their positions. For both, I got sent a mysterious meeting invite from my boss with no explanation. The first time, I casually thought about it early in the day (because it was so unusual) but honestly didn’t think that it would happen. During the first one, they did have someone inform my team at the same time I was being informed, and so that was helpful. The second time, I was prepared & had moved my stuff out of my office well before the meeting and had told my direct reports that I suspected that I was getting laid off. It’s intrinsically embarrassing, but there’s no getting past that. Both were at the end of the day — which I thought was crappy. I’m salaried, so I guess they wanted the full day’s work out of me if they were having to pay me. It’s long been my policy to not bring anything personal to work that won’t fit into a single cardboard box — I still remember a coworker who had brought in furniture and artwork, and it was super embarrassing when she departed with security in tow, and had to come back later with a pick up to clean out her office.

    6. Luca*

      PastEmployer let about a dozen people go out of nowhere, sending shockwaves through the office.

      Afterward I came to think they originally planned stealth layoffs. One casualty, Serena, worked for Fred who was fired for unrelated reasons. I think the official story, if they’d needed one, would have been that Fred left and Serena’s position was no longer necessary.

      But before they could cut Fred loose, he and Serena had a huge blow-up which sank that idea. So to get rid of her, they had to let all the casualties go en masse and let the fallout land where it would.

  17. Elle*

    Today I forwarded my team a paid opportunity within our org that would involve working with families who have experienced the loss of a child. One of my team members responded back with dollar sign emojis. I think that’s unprofessional and tasteless. Yes you can earn extra money but it’s an intense job that requires a lot of empathy. Is this something I let go or speak to her in the spirit of professional growth?

    1. Come On Eileen*

      If it’s the first time you’ve seen this employee behave unprofessionally, it feels like a small transgression that I’d let go. If it’s part of a larger pattern you’ve noticed, say something.

      1. Sharkie*

        I agree. It could just be that they saw the “paid opportunity”, stopped reading and got excited.

    2. kiwiii*

      I can’t tell if you’re the manager in this situation or another team member, but i think if you have any seniority or authority over her, it would be a kindness to let her know that it came off strangely. if you’re on equal footing, I’d probably ignore it though.

      1. Elle*

        I am the supervisor here and this is a “head full of soup” type of employee. There have been times where her comments have seemed “off” but this is the first time it’s really bothered me.

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

          I think you should speak to her but since she’s proven to be rather tone-deaf you’ll need to be specific in the behaviors that you are expecting from her, rather than vague prompts to think or read more closely hoping that she’ll have an epiphany on her own. I would suggest no more responding with emojis because that’s not the most professional anyway, but she in particular lacks awareness of when they are appropriate and when they aren’t; if she had sent a thumbs up emoji, it would still be less than ideal, but more appropriate to the tone.

    3. Onward*

      “Hey, just a heads-up, I don’t think you read this email all the way before responding. I would probably do that going forward.”

      I think this would cause them to stop and look back on the email you send and their response. If they don’t see a problem with it, they suck. Bad. If they’re a decent human, they’d be mortified and be careful about their responses in the future.

      1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

        I don’t think that is direct enough for a head full of soup employee! OP should talk to her and name the problem. “Soupy, it was not professional to respond to an email about working with bereaved families with dollar sign emojis.”

    4. Me ... Just Me*

      IDK. Does your company handle these sorts of things as a matter of course? If they typically work with these families and this is just “a day at the office” for them, I can see that they might be inured to the emotional impact. Those of us who are placed in difficult emotional situations on the daily may not communicate within our own teams as delicately as we would when we are public facing.

      1. Elle*

        You’re right! I’ve noticed that in my many years as a social worker. Our org does have programs that handle this work on a daily basis. Out team does not and this employee has no experience in the job that was posted.

  18. Lizy*

    Outlook keeps disconnecting whenever I send an email (desktop version). Apparently there’s nothing wrong, according to my IT. Riiiiigggghhhhttt….

    On another note, my wireless keyboard and mouse connect most of the time. And then sometimes… it just… stops typing… It’s a logitech keyboard. The mouse connectivity is better than the keyboard, but it also has issues. I’ve replaced batteries, no change. If I change the wireless port thingy to another port it sometimes helps, but not always. If I move the keyboard (like from my pull-out keyboard thing to on top of my desk) it sometimes helps, but not always. IT says it’s because the wireless doesn’t have a “direct line of sight” which… it didn’t have when I had the exact same keyboard and mouse setup at 2 previous jobs and it worked just fine then but riiiiiggggghhhhhtttt….

    So I’m hoping the loverly AAM community might have some bright ideas lol

    1. NotRealAnonforThis*

      Question, and specifically for your mouse: how old is it?

      I had one up and quit on me at around 4 years. IT looked at it and said ::shrug:: “get a new one”. New mouse, no problems at all.

    2. RecentlyRetired*

      Are there any background processes that your computer is using it’s memory and/or CPU time on? I’d open the Task Manager to see what level of CPU and memory is being used by specific applications.
      Then you have a datapoint to give to your IT department.

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

      I’m assuming that IT made sure you are all up-to-date on software? If it’s not automatic, I would run updates on your OS and Microsoft apps. I have had intermittent trouble with MS 365 apps and they just did a big update in November 2022, so you might need to reinstall the apps.

      Next, it does sound like the mouse and keyboard need to be replaced. My first gen Apple mouse died slowly about the same way you describe — first it just acted sluggish, then it would disconnect frequently and new batteries didn’t help.

    4. Mill Miker*

      I’ve had some trouble before with USB hard drives causing interference, especially if they’re plugged in to ports on the same board.

      For example, the model of MacBook I had at my last job would have terrible trouble with bluetooth when an external, usb-c, SSD drive was plugged in on the left side, because the bluetooth antenna and the port were so close together.

      So, I guess try disconnecting everything except the wireless dongle, and see if it works better?

    5. Gatomon*

      I agree with just replacing the mouse and keyboard, they’re cheap these days and don’t last.

      As for Outlook, I had an issue where it would disconnect silently. I think they ultimately upgraded me from Office 2016 to Office 365 to solve it. Nothing else worked and I think we even replicated the issue on both my laptop and desktop clients.

    6. time for cocoa*

      My personal wireless accessories use Bluetooth, and my work wireless accessories use USB receivers. Despite everyone swearing up and down that similar systems won’t interfere with each other, they do, so I gave up and purchased the alternate type.

    7. Hermione*

      This might sound crazy, but I had some problems with my mouse and keyboard when I got a new metal drinking tumbler (mine was simply modern). Once I realized, I just moved my laptop towards my non-dominant hand so the line of sight was better (easier than retraining where I put my cup down) and haven’t had a single problem since.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        I hate to sound like the stereotypical “did you try turning it off and back on again?” IT answer, so I’m assuming you already checked the mouse/keyboard batteries if yours has them to make sure they aren’t dead, but worth a check if you haven’t for some reason.

        Also worth checking the drivers for updates if IT hasn’t done that already.

        I’ve had logitech mice die on me more frequently in the last few years. One was still under warranty and they replaced the receiver. Took a while to get, but it was free and I had an extra backup mouse in the meantime.

  19. Freelance/contract privacy*

    Any other freelancers/contractors here with NDA clients? How do you prove your work history to bid for new assignments? I have a few I can share, but not enough to confirm that I have a solid/consistent history.

    1. desdemona*

      Can you list the clients, but indicate “Projects with this client are under an NDA”?

      Or ask the client that once the project is announced/out in the world, you are allowed to talk about it/name the project on your resume?

      1. SweetestCin*

        And if not, can you “silo it” but keep it anonymous?

        I’ve had projects where I’d have to give things a generic title with no indication of the end user, client, or location due to NDA.

    2. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Any chance your clients have other freelancers and/or a policy for confirming work? Does your NDA cover ‘I cannot talk about what I’m doing but here’s my contact’s number for a reference’ or is it more along the lines of ‘I cannot in any way acknowledge that I am connected to this company’?

    3. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      I “file the serial numbers off” — remove or change information that would identify the company, client, or project — and then put it in my portfolio. That may not work for you depending on the type of work, but it should be enough to convince an employer that you’re not making it up.

    4. Rosemary*

      Are you asking if you can even say you worked for specific clients, or share work examples/include in your portfolio work from clients? My company hires freelancers to work on client projects and we have them sign an NDA. However that just covers the work product; they are free to say “I worked for Company X.”

  20. Corrigan*

    We went through a lot of changes in leadership in my office and our new (6 months) director is….not great. She hasn’t really taken the time to get to know anyone or learn our processes, but keeps telling us that we’re doing stuff wrong. You can’t get her to have a conversation about how to actually improve the process…but it’s wrong. You’ll send her updated guidance and she won’t ever look at it and get back to you. But then she complains that everything is still wrong. Our leadership meetings are all her talking and not hearing anyone else’s ideas She presents these half thought out plans to the entire office, which just confuses everyone, then I and my peers are fielding questions from confused analysts who don’t know what she wants.

    All that being said, I think I’m in my boss sucks and isn’t going to change territory. So my question is how do I explain why I’m leaving? I like my field, I like my direct boss, I like my co-workers, and I like my position. I have an interview coming up for a very similar job just…somewhere else. I don’t want to badmouth my employer, so how can I convey why I want to leave?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Some generic options:
      It was time for a change
      Ready for a change of pace
      Interest in something specific new job place does that old job doesnt
      Lack of opportunities for growth in previous role

    2. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      “I’m looking for an opportunity to make a difference in improving things for the organization and its customers.”

    3. Totally Minnie*

      I think this depends on why you’re explaining yourself in the first place. Are you looking for a way to explain why you’re leaving to future interviewers? To your boss and coworkers when you resign? To HR so they can make systemic changes to stop more people from leaving?

      Each of these would be a different answer.

      1. Totally Minnie*

        Sorry, I missed your ending statement that it’s about an interview.

        In that case, I’d go with something like “the culture has changed at my current workplace and I don’t feel like it’s the right fit for me at this stage in my career. I’m looking for an environment that…” and fill in with the kinds of things you’re hoping for.

    4. Not teenage but still ninja turtle*

      “We’ve had a number of significant leadership changes that has taken our company culture in a different direction.”

      “My current company has recently undergone quite a bit of change at the top, and I’m looking for an organization with solid/stable leadership I can count on.”

  21. Suzi Quatro*

    Last week’s letter about Ronald who had boundless enthusiasm and a head full of soup brought one of my own conundrums to mind. There is a Ronald on my team who’s slightly senior to me (but we share a manager). He’s not as hopeless as the one in the letter: soup only gets spilt occasionally, but when it does it’s spectacular. When he was in charge of a budget he had a habit of getting distracted by shiny things and signing up for them without consulting the rest of the team. On one occasion this resulted in the duplication of a piece of work I’d put a lot of time and effort into. Sometimes he ends up treading on the toes of other people, inside and outside the team. However! He does occasionally have good ideas that do make sense. He’s otherwise a nice enough guy, and we get on OK when we’re just talking socially.

    My problem is that every time I see his name pop up in my email, I have an instinctive, furious, ‘Ugh, Ronald’ reaction. It’s not ideal either way: if it’s a terrible soupy idea that he’s throwing at me, I have to tamp down my rage at being asked to deal with this ridiculous soup; if it’s a decent idea, I still have to tamp down my rage. This is not something I like much about myself.

    Assuming that he’s not going to change in any meaningful sense, and that we’re both in it for the long haul (neither of us is anywhere near retirement age, I like my job and I assume he likes his, and nobody gets fired around here), does anybody have any tips for walking back a BEC attitude?

    1. ShysterB*

      I have no advice, I just want to say that this just reinforces the “head full of soup” as something I NEED to use to describe certain people in my office.

      “Oh, don’t mind me, Larry’s head is full of soup and I need to clean up a small spill….”

    2. kiwiii*

      I do not have real advice, but we also have a (new last year!) Ronald on our team (who it sounds like is much more strange socially than yours), and I have coped so far by having a couple coworkers in a chat where we send head-desk gifs to each other whenever he Ronalds up the full team chat.

    3. jane's nemesis*

      I have never been able to walk back a BEC attitude towards someone, unfortunately – the only thing that helps me is distance (i.e. switching teams to be in a different department; then her BECiness became funny instead of driving me absolutely nuts) from the person.

      I like the idea of trying to make it a joke or trying to find the humor in his soupiness. Every time you get irrationally angry even when he has a good idea, imagine the soup tureen inside his brain and think about how at least THIS time, he remembered to put a lid on it! Imagine funny soup ingredients sloshing around in there, or something. Maybe you can trick your brain into going straight to finding him amusing and skip the BEC rage step?

    4. Warrior Princess Xena*

      A suggestion I have purloined from Captain Awkard: first, when you see an email, classify it into ‘soup’ or ‘nonsoup’. If it’s a nonsoup idea, tell yourself that – “this is a useful suggestion for better optimizing llama grooming”. If it’s a soup idea, give yourself a set time to be irritated about it, kvetch and groan in your head, etc – then after the end of the time (she recommended maybe 5 minutes) you have finished your alloted fuming time and it’s time to go and deal with the practical parts (maybe emailing back to point out the issues with the idea).

      If you are being saddled with extra work because of Ronald, I would be very clear with your supervisor that extra work is happening and ask how to handle it.

    5. M*

      If you’re at all spiritually or mindfully inclined, try loving-kindness meditation with him in mind. It’s gotten me out of BEC mode with people. Might sound weird but for me it really helped.

  22. The Problem With Mr. Collins*

    I raised concerns about my boss to HR for the first time, and I’m very nervous. Some background: over several months, Mr. Collins (my boss) has become increasingly verbally abusive toward me, so much so that other people have noticed—including his own boss, Lady Catherine. During my performance review, I tried raising my concerns to Mr. Collins, but he insisted that managing people this way was how he learned and he has no intention of changing. Basically, I need to get over it.

    Well, this week, I met with Lady Catherine and HR, and they both agreed they need to speak to him next week, but that doesn’t help my fear that this will just make everything worse. He has a tendency for blowing up when things don’t go his way.

    Has anyone gone through this before and escalated an issue to HR? How did it go? Any stories would be really helpful. I don’t know what to expect.

    1. Sharkie*

      oh I am so sorry you are dealing with this! Since I am not your HR I don’t know what will happen, but the fact that your grandboss is on board that his treatment of you is not ok is a good sign!

      1. Kitty Bennet*

        Thank you! She’s definitely been very supportive and agreed his behavior isn’t acceptable. I’m hopeful that will help my case.

    2. Totally Minnie*

      One thing to keep in mind is that supervisors are not allowed to retaliate against staff who make good faith reports to HR. If Mr. Collins escalates his behavior after HR talks to him, you go straight back to HR and tell them about it.

    3. RecentlyRetired*

      I had to take one event to HR and Ethics (since my old company is a government contractor). I won the battle against the two of them (my direct supervisor and his mentor), but felt like I lost the war. They didn’t end up getting more than a hand-slap from HR. Another manager that I worked with wouldn’t even meet with me in his office without a witness after that, so my name/reputation had become mud.
      I transferred to another division/location of the same company within a year. Maybe I took the “easy” route. I really don’t know what would have happened if I had stayed and fought to get my reputation back.
      But I still felt that my situation would have been worse if I hadn’t brought it to HR/Ethics.

    4. Mojo021*

      Be sure to document any issues that may happen after he is spoken to as it could be considered retaliation.

    5. Jay (no, the other one)*

      I had to do this at my last job about a year before I retired (these were unrelated events) and it went well. My grandboss was receptive and supportive, she followed up with me so I knew she’d taken action (didn’t tell me what action, of course) and my boss made enough of a change to improve the climate. It can go well.

    6. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      I’d tell yourself a story, from the perspective of you a year from now.

      Describe what happened; how you felt and coped, and what the final outcome was. The intent is to capture all the things you’re experiencing and afraid of, and write them all down so they’re not just floating around ominously in your head. Then finish the story from the perspective of it being over and you survived. That can give you a sense of relief.

      So the structure would be something like:

      What happened: “A year ago in February 2023, I had this work issue! I even wrote in to AAM about it. I did a bunch of things (list out the things – went to HR, went to grand boss, had a couple awkward meetings, had to go back to HR a couple times) …”

      How you feel: “…and I was worried about it and felt queasy and increased how much I was exercising so I’d have an outlet and took up watercolor classes … “

      How it turned out: “… and it [was awkward for a while but turned out okay][was a disaster and I got a new job][made Mr Collins my bff and now things are so great I have invited him to speak at my wedding].”

  23. Help, please!*

    Advice on “managing up” when your supervisor is completely burned out/emotionally drained due to several organizational upheavals and the sudden death of a colleague? I would love to take work off his plate and be a source of support, but despite multiple offers, I think he is just too overwhelmed to delegate.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Anticipate if you can, instead of waiting to be assigned task A you can offer to do task A. Hey George I saw TPS reports are due next week, want me to go ahead and do the draft for those?

    2. Combinatorialist*

      I agree with DisneyChannelThis that the more specific you can be, the more you can be useful. Depending on your supervisor/relationship, I might even go a step further and just announce you are going to be doing it with something like “Unless you have an objection, I will draft the TPS report and have a copy to you for review by Wednesday”

  24. Unemployable?*

    Unemployed for almost a year. Have had about 20 interviews overall, no takers. Am pretty sure it is mostly from being a terrible interviewee since I can get the interviews. I prepare A LOT before each one. Reviewed AAM’s How to Get a Job. Have had a few practice sessions through my professional org. Any other tips to being better at this?

    1. The Girl in the Red Sweater*

      It’s pretty difficult to gauge without knowing more about your experience. do you have any friends in managerial roles who you could do a mock interview with?

      Also, anecdata, but my parter had like about 10 interviews which all seemed to go well until they landed their current job. It could depend on the field–tech jobs, especially WFH, are incredibly competitive these days. It really could just be bad luck, if you are already getting feedback on your interview performance!

      Some other random thoughts…
      – Is there any possible disconnect between your resume and your actual experience that comes up in the interview? Like do you have a position on your resume that sounds like X but was actually more like Y? (For example, being an “analyst” that involved only qualitative analysis and no quant?)
      – Do you typically use specific questions or types of responses in your interviews? Maybe there is one that is shaking things up. For example, I have found that lots of people suggest some ending question of “is there anything on my resume that gives you pause or that I could explain in more detail?” and personally I have found that question to be a complete interview-killer. It never comes across positively. So I dropped it, and my interview success went up in correlation.

      1. Unemployable?*

        I’ve had mock interviews through my professional org. My resume and cover letter are very accurate, no padding. I don’t know what I’m saying in interviews that isn’t working out. Other than usually they feel like they have gone very badly. I think maybe 4 out of the 20 I felt good about afterwards. All I can think is that I have social anxiety, and interviews are pretty much always meeting people for the first time. So it’s just always awkward.

        1. The Girl in the Red Sweater*

          So, this is again anecdotal, but I have a hypothesis that especially for people with high anxiety or self-focused attention, your feelings about an interview are completely uncorrelated (and maybe negatively correlated) with interview success. Reasoning: when we can subconsciously tell when things are going wrong, our body releases dopamine and adrenaline to help us feel more assertive and approach-oriented. But when your brain *doesn’t* pick up on objective cues of negativity from the interviewer, your typical thought pattern (read: “I suck and this went horribly”) is more likely to take precedence. Just in my own experience, I find that I have had better success with interviews that I *felt* went badly, and worse success in interviews where I walked out feeling like I clinched it.

          But back to your actual question.
          – What is your demeanor like in interviews? Another beneficial psychology approach I have found, as a young-ish woman, is to show my anxiety as enthusiasm. AKA: I want this job so much that I’m a little nervous about it (true!). Tamping down that anxiety and trying to come across as neutral seems to work less effectively for me. I wonder if you could ask mock interviewers about all aspects of the interview- not just your fit, but how you come across as a person and potential coworker.

          – Similarly, do you ever speak positively or negatively about your current job? (What has worked for me: saying I love my current teammates but am looking for a change in project focus; when speaking about difficulties, speak about them in very PC terms while smiling/laughing a bit to show “we all know how annoying these interactions can be”, etc).

          – Do you ever speak about projects you are proud of or would like to expand on that fit with the new org?

          1. The Girl in the Red Sweater*

            Edit: based on your comment below, I honestly thing the 12 pages of notes is one of the main factors that is hurting your interviews. So please focus on that more so than my questions above!

    2. rayray*

      I am sorry you’re going through this! I also have a hard time interviewing so I get it.

      Not sure where you live, but I am in the USA and my state has a Department of Workforce Services where you can utilize services to help find a new job, and I think one of those services is to do practice interviews. The local major church denomination also has a service, though I honestly did find much of their advice to be a little dated, the interview practice is probably one of the better things they offer.

      One thing I try to do to practice is to think of common interview questions and then write answers down. I can also go back and do this over and over again. One tip, if you are doing interviews over zoom/teams/other video service, you can write yourself notes on the sticky notes (if you use windows) and then you can have that pulled up to look at while interviewing.

      I sincerely wish you the best of luck, interviewing can be brutal for some of us. We can have all the technical skills and qualifications for the job, but whether it’s nerves or personality or anything, interviewing can be so easy for some people and so hard for others.

      1. Unemployable?*

        I have like 12 pages of notes that I use in interviews, which maybe is my problem? Because it looks like I’m reading. But without the notes… I will freeze. I will not have an answer. What is my name? Couldn’t tell you.

        To me, there is no part of a job that is related to interviewing at all. I’m fine with having meetings, giving presentations, whatever in a job. It’s just interviews that I majorly suck at.

        So I don’t know how to ditch the notes.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Twelve pages of notes is a lot. Are these full answers that you’re reading from? If they are, start there– if you condense your paragraphs into key words or phrases, or bullet points, would that help?

          Remember that an interview IS a presentation– if you’re good at presentations, think of each interview as a meeting in which you present about yourself. Prepare like you would for any presentation. Make slides if it helps, not to show to your interviewer, but to prepare what you’ll say.

        2. The Girl in the Red Sweater*

          Oh boy, yes, this is likely a factor. 12 pages of notes is WAY too much. you said it yourself that you are spending time looking over the notes, which is likely disrupting the flow of the interview and highlighting the fact that you need copious resources to talk about your own experience. Unless you need ADA accommodations, you absolutely need to practice interviewing without them. (If you do need those accommodations, that’s fine! But I suggest working on putting those 12 pages int a 1-2 page cheat sheet.)

        3. Chutney Jitney*

          Can you convince yourself an interview is just a meeting? That really is true. They will have questions, you will present answers, you are trying to help them solve the problem of whom to hire for this position. They would love for it to be you so they can stop looking.

          I mean, if you can present (!) then it’s definitely the framing in your head that’s the problem.

        4. Gracely*

          Oh man. It’s definitely the notes. I would seriously worry about hiring someone who can’t do an interview without 12 pages of notes.

          Can you turn those into a short outline that would fit into a page? And then practice interviewing with just that. As someone else said, think of it as doing a meeting or presentation about yourself.

        5. rayray*

          I think everyone works differently, but sometimes the writing down answers part isn’t necessarily for the cheat-sheet aspect, but to help you formulate your answers in a good way. This is why I try to re-write answers frequently, or refer back to it to see if maybe Friday-morning me has something better than what Tuesday-evening me was thinking.

          1. Unemployable?*

            I write out all the questions I think they might possibly ask based on the job description (I always miss a few that seem important), prepare for those questions, write out my answers.

            I’ve tried memorizing the answers, but I’m not very good at that. I’ve just had to many instances of freezing up without an answer that I don’t know how to solve that issue. I can always think of the answer after the interview, of course.

            I can try to make it into an outline.

            1. Mill Miker*

              One of the interview prep course things I’ve done focused on having a handful of events from your previous job experiences that you know inside-and-out.

              Instead of preparing answers to every question you can think of, you focus on, for example, a big presentation that went really well. Don’t try and memorize a narrative, but instead go over the event and the details and pay special attention to which qualities and skills you displayed. Do this for a few big things (I think the course called these your “tent poles”.

              Then in your notes, if you need them, you can just have the “titles” of the events and a list of what they provide examples of. So when the interviewer asks “Tell us about a time you had to sell a colleague on an idea” you’re just picking an example from the list. And since you’ve been taking the time to refresh your memory on how the events played out, you should be able focus more on wording your answer on-the-fly, and less on trying to recall exact details. This also leaves you better prepared for questions you didn’t expect.

        6. Robin Ellacott*

          Some great suggestions on how to ditch the notes. But if you really can’t, I think your best bet is to be clear in the interview about the fact that this isn’t an issue at all in your work; you’ve never needed to scroll through pages of notes to do work tasks.

          I think the main worry an employer would have when they see the notes is that you would over-function or freeze when trying to do the job. If you can show a demonstrated history of that not being the case, and make it clear that interviews are their own beast for you, they might not dwell on it. Many interviewers (including me) are very sympathetic to people who struggle in interviews, as long as it doesn’t seem to mean they would struggle with doing anything remotely stressful at work.

        7. aubrey*

          Definitely need to get the notes down to a 1 or max 2 pager. Maybe organizing them in a bit more of a mind-map would help you? Like by common theme or situation you will reference for the behavioural questions.

          Personally, I have several situations that I reference for behavioural questions and note them like “lead llama reorg project: difficult people, client conflicts, scheduling and project management”. I call to mind the situation and depending on the exact question, I talk about different parts of it.

          As for the mental side of it – you say you’re fine with meetings and presentations. Can you tap into that a bit? Like mentally imagine you’re going into a meeting where you are a key subject matter expert, not OMG INTERVIEW. It sounds like you might be focused too much on getting the answers exactly right. An interview can be like being asked about topics that you have expertise in (your own work history). Easier said than done, I know. But maybe changing the framing from Being Judged to Discussing/Presenting a Topic could help?

        8. Ormond Sackler*

          Could you make a “key word outline” with the points you want to hit outlined very briefly? Maybe try to figure out which 20% of your notes are the most important, and strip those down to their key elements. Easier said than done I know, but 12 pages of notes is way too much.

          One thing that worked for me was finding something to hold during interviews or calls. Maybe find some crystal or something that is supposed to be good for stress and keep that in your hands during interviews–take advantage of the placebo effect.

        9. Snoozing not schmoozing*

          One trick I’ve used successfully in interviews is to lean slightly forward when the other person I’d t a liking, then slightly back when I talk. It makes me look interested in what they’re saying, and relaxed and at ease when I’m talking. When I decided to try this technique, the person interviewing me was my prospective grand-boss, and he only reluctantly agreed to interview me (it was for an internal position). My potentially immediate boss was also in the interview, and after, when we left the room together, he said, “That was the best damn interview I’ve ever witnessed!” I got the job. I have no idea if my slight movement trick was part of the success, but it wouldn’t hurt to try it.

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      Keep doing the practice interviews.

      Record yourself talking, just answer common questions. Watch the tape. Do you make eye contact with the camera, are you talking too fast/slow, do you say um a lot. Toastmasters and other groups like improv can help improv public speaking.

      Personal hygiene – clean and neat (deodorant, breath mint, haircut). Clothes that fit and don’t have any stains or holes if possible. First impressions matter. Practice your handshake with a friend.

      Other advice – make sure you’re applying to jobs that fit. It’s tempting to throw as many resumes to the wind as possible, but often if you’re not a good fit you’re just wasting your time. Even with an interview (maybe they’re giving a chance to see if you have experience in XYZ that just wasn’t on your resume).

    4. Sherm*

      Did people at the professional org give useful, thoughtful feedback? Have you tried out their suggestions? If they pretty much said “fine,” I would practice in front of a friend or former colleague who is known to be a tough critic.

      I would also ask people to review your resume. I’m guessing that it’s at least pretty good, since you’re getting interviews, but if it can be made stellar, it may overcome an interviewing weakness.

      Is there any chance that a reference is not giving a good reference for you?

      1. Unemployable?*

        Yes, they gave really good feedback. I scheduled one mock interview immediately before a real one and felt like the real one was one of the best ever. Haven’t heard back from them (it’s been about 45 days).

        The professional org also does resume/cover letter review and they thought it looked really good. I also had a session to explore other job areas I could look into aside from what my career has been.

        I’m not sure anyone has gotten to the reference portion yet.

        1. Me ... Just Me*

          Since you’ve not been doing well with standard interview setups with questions and answers, can you instead formulate a “presentation” that might cover most, if not all of the questions that you think will come up in the discussion and just go into “presentation mode” when the first question is asked? Usually, the first question is a sort of ice breaker, anyway – Tell us about yourself or What interests you about this position? — that sort of thing. Then, just launch into your spiel and keep going. Heck, provide handouts, if you think it might be helpful. Be conversational. Ask for feedback. Don’t let it drag down into the rote question/answer format. I don’t have anxiety, but find that my skills at presenting are best showcased with this approach – so I often approach interviews this way. “As you can see by my resume and cover letter (look around, does everyone have a legible copy, if not, distribute), I have a background in …. then segue into the difficult person/project question, the career goals question, your work style, etc. Try to gear your presentation to this particular role at this particular company.

    5. Cj*

      I found that I do a lot better in interviews if I just view it as a back and forth conversation. It makes me much less nervous, often get the job.

      How did the practice interviews go? Did they have any suggestions for you?

      1. Unemployable?*

        Yes, they did. Things I tried to incorporate. Advice on how to answer questions when I don’t have experience in that area or what some questions even mean.

      2. Siege*

        I started framing interviews as business meetings, and it did a world of good. The perception of power dynamics makes an interview difficult, but viewing it as a conversation where we both try to figure out whether we want to keep doing business together has helped.

        I also spent enough time (mostly in interviews, lol) giving answers to common questions that I got very practiced at them, but I’ve never used notes. But it does make a difference in terms of how it feels if you’re just reeling off the answer to “tell me a little bit about yourself” rather than searching through a list of questions and reading the answer. Reading is usually really stiff and obvious, too.

    6. Prospect Gone Bad*

      We don’t know anything about you so it’s hard to say. However, one thing that helped me was answering conversations either via writing or just aloud, at home alone. Then I filtered out all of the filters, negativity, and fillers, and qualifiers I was adding. I also trimmed down answers to be more direct.

      One thing I found for myself was that there were still red flags I was giving off that weren’t red flags. I worked at a dumpster fire underfunded branch of a fortune 500 and I did awesome work and was friends with all my coworkers. But interviewers only heard me framing the job as battling the incompetency of HQ. Which was true. But it took a lot of time to reframe my answers to sound far more positive. Believe me, it was hard, and it’s borderline lying to pretend I had a great job and it was so lovely. But it’s the same as saying “my ex is crazy,” your date has no clue if it was them or you.

      Another thing I will throw out there if you are entry level, is how younger people I sometimes interview think basic work competency is a skill. I don’t want to hear “organized,” “good writer,” “punctual” as your pluses. Those should be the basics. I am looking for something way more concrete.

      You also need to have some canned or prepped questions to ask them, so it isn’t just them grilling you.

    7. Unemployable?*

      So I tried out asking an interviewer for feedback after a rejection (and that was scary and felt like the wrong move after I did it!), and they just responded. They thought I interviewed well, had a great range of experience, it just came down to a very competitive pool, and I only lacked one specific type of experience. Sigh!! It’s nice to hear, but not helpful in actually getting a job. I dunno.

  25. Ellis Bell*

    Does anyone have any best practice ideas for doing annual reviews? I’m currently in a situation where I have to do my own performance review, as well as guiding a few team members on their reviews even though I don’t actually manage them. We’re in a school environment which means there’s no time for managers to manage because their entire day is taken up with teaching. I’m on a large team of 19, which is led by Boss: a teacher manager who is an expert in our department of special educational needs. Because it’s so large she has Assistant Boss, who is not a teacher but is well trained in our area, sees pupils for interventions and who basically does a lot of the admin and organization of the department as well as work distribution. She’s usually more available than Boss who is often teaching. Then there’s myself and a colleague who are higher level TAs: we are both trained teachers who do not teach classes, but take small groups out for intensive interventions in literacy (me) and numeracy (colleague). Not counting us, there are 15 TAs to do reviews for. Boss will see some, Assistant Boss will see some, myself and colleague will see the others. My review will involve meeting with our literacy lead who is a teacher adjacent to our department to set some of my goals. I then have to do the same for three TAs. Any advice?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Be specific and quantitative if you can. It’s so much easier to set and meet goals that have metrics, are measurable. There’s the SMART acronym for this (goals which are specific, measurable, assignable, realistic and time-related).

    2. ferrina*

      When writing reviews:
      -Bullet points. Makes it easier to read.
      -Highlight either skills or accomplishments. Each bullet will be a different skill/accomplishment. If you are highlighting skills, back up each skill with a couple examples of it (i.e., use accomplishments as evidence of skills).
      -Assume whoever is reading it has forgotten what you accomplished throughout the year. They’ve got a lot to keep track of and probably forgot half of what you did. Give them a quick recap in the write up.

      When reading reviews:
      -before looking at their review, take half an hour to reflect on what you’ve seen from them over the year. Take notes (yes, I do recommend a full half hour. Good reviews take time).
      -read their review. See what you forgot (you’ll have forgotten stuff too), and where you and they interpreted things differently.
      -When you add/reconcile differences, think about why you are choosing to add/reconcile things that way. Sometimes it’s easy (“They did a great job on that project and deserve to be recognized!”) and sometimes it’s complicated (“They’re saying this, but I remember it a different way. Could I be misremembering or not aware of something? Or are they misremembering or even misconstruing?”)

      Goals:
      -Start with big picture: What do you want to accomplish?
      -Get into details: echoing DisneyChannelThis, SMART goals are great for this
      -Double check how realistic it is: Look at what you did last year and what you’re hoping to do this year. How do they line up? Is it a reasonable continuation of progress? Or is it expecting too much? Remember if you meet your goals early, you can always add to them. But it’s harder to take away.

  26. J*

    The letter earlier this week from the person dealing with ADHD and related issues while trying to figure out a solid career path got me thinking about something I’d love to hear others’ thoughts on.

    Basically, I’m on the other end of this, as the manager of someone who is neurodivergent and has similar struggles with impulse control, professionalism, and organization/attention-to-detail. Unfortunately, the role they are in requires a high degree of professionalism (it is both internal and external customer-facing), organization, and attention-to-detail. This person is currently on a PIP as feedback, coaching, and encouragement to seek accommodations if needed has not improved the situation. This person is also unfortunately not as self-aware as the letter-writer is and has difficulty accepting feedback.

    I am aware of rejection-sensitive dysphoria, and I really would like to help my employee understand that this role is just not the right fit, but that isn’t a judgment of them _as a person_. Commentariat – any tips on how to convey that message effectively but kindly? Should I just accept that this person’s neurological makeup will make it impossible to guarantee the message will be received exactly how I’d like it to be?

    1. NoLongerDC*

      Hi! ADHD human here. Have you seen things that this person IS good at? While you have to accept that you won’t be able to control their emotional response, I’ve been in a similar spot as your employee when I was just starting out.

      I saw my leaving that job as a failure for me in the immediate term, but in the LONG-term and with processing, I was able to take away from that experience the things I was good at, especially those my boss made sure to mention.

      Set them up for the long-term, basically.

      1. afiendishthingy*

        AuDHD here and I totally agree. I’ve been managed out of a couple roles (given the choice to go on a PIP or plan on resigning within the next few months), it was very painful both times but also for the best. I think what I would have liked to hear is straight up that any given role not being a good fit for my strengths and weaknesses is not a failure, that I DO have strengths and give examples, and that I deserve to be in a role that capitalizes on my strengths and doesn’t highlight my weaknesses. (It feels like a miracle now because I ended up having to completely change career paths after 10 years, a masters degree, and expensive and difficult to obtain licenses & certifications, but I have found such a role. It’s not where I want to be forever, but it’s honestly been soooo healing to do work that I am GOOD AT and don’t feel like I’m constantly trying and failing to meet my own and my supervisors’ expectations)

    2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      Tbh I have terrible anxiety and all you could probably do is give it to him straight. Not too much editorializing but ‘ When you called the VIP a inchworm we lost the account. Going forward….’

    3. Minimal Pear*

      Yeah, as someone who’s had pretty bad RSD in the past (I think? I might be getting better about it?), literally NOTHING you can do will 100% guarantee that they’ll take the message the way you’re hoping. I definitely recommend that you emphasize that this isn’t a judgement of them anyway, and if possible, give some specific and hard-to-argue-with examples of things they’re good at/that people have liked about them. It’s very possible they’ll react badly in the moment, but maybe if they’re working on it years later they’ll be able to remember those positive things as well, and it may help them argue themself out of their negative interpretation a little bit.

    4. Hlao-roo*

      Should I just accept that this person’s neurological makeup will make it impossible to guarantee the message will be received exactly how I’d like it to be?

      Yes, and not just for this person. There’s no way to guarantee anyone will take a message exactly how you’d like them to. I do think you are compassionate to try to think of a good way to frame this conversation. Perhaps try to emphasize how they are not a good fit for this role.

    5. ferrina*

      I’m also ADHD, history of cPTSD (which can also come with sensitivity), and for years was a caretaker for someone with low self esteem and extreme rejection sensitivity. So I’ve been on both sides of this.

      If you’re following Alison’s guidance on feedbacks and PIPs, you’re already doing everything you can. You regularly give feedback on both positive and negative, your feedback is timely and specific, and you review the big picture patterns regularly (annually or quarterly, depending on the role). You are transparent and consistent about your policies, you welcome questions and feedback and you are taking steps to ensure that you have consistent standards for each member of the team (not equal, because no two team members/situations are equal, but consistent). You take steps to proactively advocate for your team and get them what they needs; your team trusts generally trusts you.

      You will never be able to guarantee that a message will be received exactly how you intend. This is regardless of psychological make-up; this is the basic premise of communication. If we could guarantee that, there would never be any miscommunications!

      So yeah, hold yourself to high standards, communicate in a way that Alison and your boss would be proud, and let this person react how they will.

    6. Qwerty*

      Short term it is going to suck no matter what. So the hope is that you leave them with something that sticks in their head after the sting goes away.

      Focus on translating work requirements to skills and tell them what they are good at. “Sally, you are good at X and Y like when we encounter Z. However this role also requires strong A and B which is why C has been a struggle. Right now, let’s focus on ….[next step form improvement]”

      I once took someone’s job description and translated each bullet point to the skill(s) that goes with it. It became easier for him to see where to improve because there was common thread that almost every item he was underperforming required the same skill. Not sure if it’ll help your particular employee, but helping people correlate how skills affect multiple areas of job performance has helped some of my struggling employees either improve or realize they need to go in a different direction.

    7. urguncle*

      It sucks that both you and your employee are in this position and I have also been here. At the end of the day, it was a blessing for me to have gotten let go from the position because I hated the work and it made me really believe that there could be a “bad fit” when it came to a job and a company.
      What could have probably helped was a manager who was willing to go over the stuff that was giving me problems before I got in trouble for it. Emails that don’t have the right tone can be proofed by you before being sent out. Availability for you to get on external calls and give immediate feedback on what went well/less well on calls.
      Also saying things like “you’re really good with llama grooming requirements. Have you ever considered writing grooming documentation?”

    8. The Person from the Resume*

      I don’t know that “rejection-sensitive dysphoria” is that different than simple human nature. Is there any human that welcomes rejection or welcomes being told they are not good at something they are trying to good at?

      That said focus on skills and actions. Not – you are unprofessional, but that action you took/email you sent looks unprofessional because (it was full of typos). With a record and history of this you should be able to tell them they aren’t the right fit for this job.

      But you can’t control how they will react to being fired and you can’t guarantee during such an emotional time they will hear exactly what you’re trying to convey. You can’t guarantee they will ever think you were kind when you fired them. But it’s a kindness to their coworkers to remove employees that cannot perform adequately.

      1. afiendishthingy*

        it is different from simple human nature :) AuDHD here, it’s real, please don’t invalidate if you don’t know an awful lot about neurodivergence

      2. ferrina*

        Yep, it’s different, sort of like ADHD is different from “no one likes to do homework”. One characteristic about rejection-sensitive dysmorphia is that anything remotely negative can be interpreted as rejection. I lived with a covert narcissist who saw a great example of this- something as simple as him asking “I was going to get some ice cream, do you want some?” could become a trap. Even saying “No, I don’t feel like ice cream right now, but enjoy!” would be interpreted as a criticism of his decision making. It was exhausting.

        That said, ADHD doesn’t intrinsically come with rejection-sensitive dysmorphia. Often ADHD folks will be more sensitive to criticism because they’ve been criticized more in their life than their neurotypical peers (there’s been studies on this), but even this isn’t a guarantee (I’m ADHD, and I’ve been told that I’m extremely easy to bring negative feedback to). Sensitivity is different than dysmorphia. J, I caution you against diagnosing your direct report. Even if you were right, you are not their therapist. Focus on being a great manager, and let your direct report manage their own health/mental health.

    9. Nesprin*

      I think you’re overestimating how well most neurotypical people do with negative feedback. No one likes being told that they’re on their way to being fired and I think if you do your best to be kind but straightforward that’s all that you can do.

      There is no special magic word to make someone okay with being fired, nor is there any special ADHD handshake to say that this is not the position for you.

    10. teaandcookies*

      I have ADHD and I think there are some great answers here! In a previous job that I really wasn’t a good fit for, it took a very long time for anyone to give me any feedback and when I did get it, I felt pretty blindsided. If I had been told earlier, it might have been hard to hear in the moment, but it would have helped me move on sooner and also wouldn’t have left me worrying that I couldn’t trust positive feedback. In the end, even though it wasn’t handled well by anyone involved (myself included), I’m still really grateful it happened. The truth is a gift and so is being willing to take on the emotional work of giving someone hard feedback that they need to hear. So I’m going to say that even if you don’t handle it perfectly, you’re still doing something good for that person and your organization.

      My life has gotten so much better since my diagnosis, and I can look back now and see many ways in which the pressure to be a certain way (that was not the way my brain worked) led to denial of the problem and defensiveness against feedback. Which in turn caused problems for others I was working with. I have both frustration with and a huge amount of empathy for other neurodivergent folks who don’t seem “self aware” or are unwilling to say there is an issue. It is such an awful thing to be told your whole life that the problem isn’t real and you’re just not trying hard enough, to the point where you internalize it and it warps your whole world view. You learn that your results/output are a direct sign of your laziness and other moral flaws, so much so that you turn your life into proving your results /are/ good because if they are not, you must be irredeemably bad. Or at least that’s how it felt like to me.

    11. Mill Miker*

      This is definitely coloured by my own experiences with receiving praise and criticism (as someone with ADHD), but here’s what I find lets me mentally sort this kind of thing into the “bad news/constructive criticism” bucket instead of the “more ammo for that little voice that says your lazy garbage” bucket:

      Focus on qualities of the outputs, not perceptions of the inputs. One “fun” thing with ADHD is that hyperfocus can lead to incredible results with very little effort, but when somethings not going well, it takes so much effort to just keep going at it. Being criticized for “not trying” on something that took a ton of effort stings, but getting a ton of praise for “working so hard” on something that felt fairly effortless doesn’t feel great either. Even worse is getting criticized of a lack of effort when the end result is still good. Probably best to avoid commenting on how hard they tired, unless they’re saying they tried hard, and you want to say something like “I appreciate the effort, but the role requires more organization than I’m seeing”

      Along that line passive language is your friend. I know that’s normally counter to the regular advice, but if you’re really going for the role not being the right fit, then talking about what the role requires will go over a lot better than giving your employee another reminder of what things they’re still not good enough at. Someone who’s heard “You’re not organized enough” a thousand times, they’re not going to hear the difference in “You’re not organized enough for this role.”

      Be specific and straightforward. If you try to soften the blow by being vague about what the problem is, they’ll likely notice, and just assume the problem is everything that’s in the middle of the “Relevant to the role” and “insecurities” Venn diagram. At the same time, they’re probably playing mental autocomplete with whatever you’re saying. They’re on a PIP, they (hopefully?) know it’s not been going great… if you start the meeting off with a somber tone, they’re going to be thinking “I’m fired. I get it. I’m fired. Just say it. Say it so I can stop trying not to react.” I mean, you know your employee better than I do, but for me, I’d say clear the air. Let them react to the bad news without bottling it up first. If it’s more of a last warning thing, be clear about that. “Let’s get right too it: I’m not seeing the results I want from your PIP, so this meeting is to work out our next steps”. (or “explain next steps” if they’re not up for debate. “discuss next steps” is too ambiguous).

      Give them a minute. Part of ADHD is poor emotional regulation. The emotions come hard and fast. If they freeze up at the news, and if you’re comfortable with it, you might offer to let them leave for 5 minutes. If it’s a virtual meeting, at least let them turn off their camera. For me, being able to take a few minutes and make a face and wave my arms around really frees up the brainpower that was going into not doing that for more emotional processing.

      Again, this is what I find works better for me. Treat them like an adult, assume they can intellectually handle criticism, and try to be wary that it’s probably an emotional minefield anyway.

      1. AABBCC123*

        Hey just curious. I am also ND (Autism specturm) and was just wondering if you had an example of somethings you would say, because some of the points seem hard to mesh (i.e. use passive langauge but be specific and straightforward). I’m also a new supervisor and conversations like this may be part of my day to day.

        1. Mill Miker*

          I’m talking passive in the grammatical sense, which I do admit can veer into passive-aggressive territory if you’re not careful. I don’t think its worth trying to contort every sentence into passive form, but even “One of the targets of your PIP was to be on time every day this month, and I’m not seeing that level of improvement” stings a bit less than “You’re still late all the time.” or “Your goal was to be on time 29 out of the last 30 work days, and you managed 24” can work if the last bit is said matter-of-fact enough.

          It’s a balance between naming the problem, and not joining the chorus of people who’ve tried to shame your employee into better behaviour. They’ve probably heard “Your not professional enough” “Your time management sucks” “You need to take this seriously” and “I don’t think you understand the problem” thousands of times, from people hoping that they’ll finally make your employee feel guilty enough that they’ll actually change their behaviour.

          Although, honestly, if you can just avoid any variation on “It’s like you’re not even trying”, you’ll be way ahead of the game.

  27. Luna123*

    Decided to go back to college and get an accounting degree. I got accepted to my university, got super stoked about quiting my low-paying job in the fall … and discovered this week that my boss gave me a $2+ raise.

    Now weirdly I feel a little bad about leaving to go back to school. But logically I need the four-year degree to have A Career and my transfer credits from community college are only good for so long, so now’s the perfect time to go back to school.

    1. ferrina*

      You’re not weird, you’re totally normal! It’s normal that you are leaving the job to pursue your career. It’s normal that this happened at an awkward time (I suspect it’s more normal to leave at an awkward time than at a convenient time), and it’s normal that you feel a bit bad that your boss (possibly) spent political capital to get you raise and you’re about to leave. But this is all totally normal, and no one can help the timing of how these things fall. And certainly no one expects you to change your life plans because your boss spent a bit of political capital (at least, no reasonable person would expect that)

      Congrats on your acceptance!

      1. Luna123*

        At least I’m certain she didn’t spend a lot of political capital :)
        She probably just looked at the now-hiring signs at the grocery store and went “hmm we need to up our COL raises”

      2. Lyudie*

        Seconding all of this, and it’s not like you’re leaving immediately after the raise even. Rest assured you have done nothing wrong, and congratulations!!

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      If you weren’t lobbying for the raise, just take it as the otherwise sensible thing that your employer did on behalf of employees that are not paid enough.

      If in the Fall you’re not available to work, then they’ll find someone else to work for them at that rate. Not your concern, and many things could change before September (and you’ll want that extra cash on hand either way.).

    3. Peanut Hamper*

      Is that $2 an hour? That’s $80 a week.

      To put this in perspective, I think you’ll get a much bigger “raise” than $80 a week once you finish your degree.

    4. RagingADHD*

      Were you going back to school just to get $2 more an hour? Because if so, that was a bad decision.

      If not, don’t feel guilty for not selling your future at a discount rate.

  28. Jessica Ganschen*

    I have an internal interview scheduled for Monday! I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t wildly nervous, but I’m going through every relevant looking AAM and doing my best. One of the things that’s really tripping me up, however, is that the position that I’m interviewing for is the exact one I’m occupying right now, except permanent. I’m not sure what questions to ask when I know exactly what the day-to-day is like, what challenges we face, and the “previous person” in the position is just… me.

    Also, I’m unbelievably grateful that they listed the salary range in the job posting, because it is literally just shy of twice to three times my current salary. I thought that I would be lucky to get a 50% raise, let alone 100%. I never would have had the guts to ask for all that. This is life-changing money for me, if I get the position. There are two other candidates (my co-worker on the same team and an unknown, also internal), but my manager really wants to hire both of us and is going to keep pushing no matter which one of us gets this position.

    1. ferrina*

      Good luck!

      In an internal interviews, make sure you do due diligence to understand the role (it’s not unusual that responsibilities/expectations shift slightly based on teams or projects). You can also ask about the long-term vision for this role- what are the KPIs? Is there anything that might impact how this role operates? Are there any nice-to-haves that your boss would want you to expand into in 1-3 years?

    2. Isben Takes Tea*

      Well, it means you definitely have a good basis for asking something about “Do you have any concerns about how I might fit into this role that I could address for you?” or “Are you looking for this role to be performed differently on a permanent basis than how it’s being done now?” or “Do you anticipate changing the expectations for this role in the 6-12 months/few years?”

      It’s amazing that your boss is pulling for you! Best of luck!

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        Instead of “Do you have any concerns”, I’d word it as “Since you’re already familiar with how I approach my work, what are the areas of this role that you see I might find challenging, and what are the areas you think play to my strengths?” This opens up opportunity for you to share the same – talk yourself up and also get a sense of the support that will be available to you where you need it.

    3. linger*

      With internal interviews it’s very easy to fall into the trap of assuming that of course the interviewers know your history in the role — which may not be equally true for all the interviewers, and in any case you still need to present an explicit case for them hiring you, supported by specifics of tasks you have successfully completed. Prepare as if it were an external interview. Good luck!

      1. linger*

        (Where you do have an advantage as an internal interviewee is that you can — as one small part of the argument supporting your fit for the role — demonstrate details of your familiarity with the role, and more generally with your org’s values, priorities, and processes.)

  29. NoLongerDC*

    It’s been awhile since I’ve been here, but I’m in a weird limbo and trying to make a decision:

    I’ve been at a job part-time for just over a year. Since July, they’ve been saying they want to make me full time, but keep moving back the “when we’ll have a decision” date.

    Meanwhile, I’ve been having a lot of success signing contracts elsewhere, and it’s gained the attention of an org in an industry I really like. They reached out, we chatted, and they want to make an offer but haven’t made one officially with any number. It’s only been a week or so.

    I ADORE my boss at PTjob. She’s been fighting for me forever, and I do want to stay here. It’s in office every day, though, and will not pay as well.

    I like the person who will be my boss at potentialJob, a friend I trust who contracted with her LOVES her, but the CEO of the company has dicey reviews on glassdoor. It would be fulltime remote, and very likely pay more.

    If the potentialJob officially offers, I’m torn. I’ve been only parttime employed since COVID, and my wife and I are just barely surviving paycheck to paycheck. But I don’t want to burn the bridges at the PTjob.

    1. Luna123*

      I think its totally normal to tell your boss, “hey, I appreciate all that you’ve done, but a full time job dropped in my lap, and I’ve decided to accept it.” People move on from jobs all of the time, I’m sure even moreso if they’re just part time.

      As for the CEO, it probably depends on how big the organization is. If it’s a huge company, their decisions might not affect your day-to-day job too much (… maybe).

    2. ferrina*

      You probably won’t burn any bridges at PT job, and if you do, it’s because those people weren’t reasonable to begin with. You’ve been clear that you’d like your role to be FT. They’ve had a reasonable chance to grant that. You’ve been more than generous.

      It’s very normal and reasonable to move to a different job because it’s full time! Any reasonable employer/manager will understand that.

    3. Not my real name*

      Part time job has had plenty of opportunity to hire you, and you have to do what’s best for you. Take the new job if it comes through and leave without guilt.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        This! And maybe PTJob can give you a few hours as a side gig (if you have the time/energy) to help out your financial situation?

    4. Ranon*

      Take the full time job, your PT boss if they are a good boss will be furious at their org for not making it possible to keep you but not mad at you for making a reasonable decision

      1. Gracely*

        This. The couple of times I’ve seen us lose a good part-time person because higher ups wouldn’t let us make them full time never hurt my (or anyone else’s) opinion of the part-time person. It made me sad for my org, but glad for them to find a better spot. You have to take care of you.

    5. Combinatorialist*

      I agree with the others that you shouldn’t burn bridges but if you really want a last ditch effort when you get the offer from potentialJob you can ask for a week to review it and then tell PTjob, “I have a FT job offer somewhere else. I would prefer to be FT here but I would need an offer of at least X salary by the end of this week in order to stay. Would that be possible?” But I also think they have had plenty of opportunity to hire you FT and like the Kylie Morgan song “if they wanted to, they would”

    6. NoLongerDC*

      Thank you, everyone. I think internally I knew this was the answer, but I needed to make sure I wasn’t just making an impulsive decision.

      I suspect my manager will fall on the “consequences of the orgs own actions” side of things, if it comes to that.

    7. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Take the new job. Maybe your current boss has been fighting for you forever, but ultimately that hasn’t been effective since nothing has changed, and to be honest I think you are being strung along by the promise of them making a decision some time in the future. (Also don’t fall for it if a decision suddenly materialises when you quit. Continue with the new job!)

      Not sure what to make of “dicey” reviews of the ceo but I presume you won’t be working with them closely, or at all.

    8. NoLongerDC*

      Update:

      I got an offer letter for the PotentialJob today! I asked for an increase (I’ve learned from here never to take the first thing without negotiating!) but I also know I’ll be taking it regardless.

      There is one project that I am attached to at the PTjob that I’ll be offering to take on on a contract basis, and I’m hopeful they’ll agree to that! Thank you for that suggestion.

      Thank you all for the reassurances- I think I needed some external validation, and I appreciate it.

  30. Frankie*

    I just sent out my first job application in maybe 8 years kind of spur of the moment? I received a series of emails from a distant colleague who found a blurb about one of my team’s projects and did the following moves: “help me understand why my team wasn’t included in this effort based on this vague wording”; “help me understand the value of this project (a.k.a. this project obviously has no value)”; “I don’t agree with this project’s logic and I’m going to repeatedly tell you it’s redundant”; “I don’t think this would be valuable to spend time on so I’m deciding it doesn’t apply to my team”. It already does not apply to you!

    How self-absorbed do you have to be to read a 3-sentence blurb about a minor project, get simultaneously upset that you weren’t included in it AND that you don’t see the value proposition, and then send multiple emails to someone you barely work with to make sure they know you think their project is useless or redundant?? I barely know this guy and have never worked directly with him once. What is the point of these emails?

    For some reason this really got to me. So I found a random job and applied to it. It’s not one I think I have any kind of realistic shot at, but for some reason made me feel empowered. I might send out more.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      for some reason made me feel empowered

      It’s so easy to feel powerless: my coworker is annoying, I can’t change them, guess I just have to suffer until they get a new job/retire. Applying for jobs is a great reminder that you do have a choice! Looking can lead to a new job, but it can also lead to feeling better about the job you do have (both because you feel more in control of your professional life and because sometimes, you’ll appreciate things that your current job has that the offers you receive don’t).

      1. Lily Rowan*

        I once had a job that was really into the book Who Moved My Cheese, and I’m not sure what they wanted us to take from it, but what we all did take from it is this: Stop letting change happen to you, and manage your own change. So when they re-orged for the Nth time, everyone started applying for jobs elsewhere!

    2. jane's nemesis*

      I used to apply to a job – no matter my suitability for it – every time my manager did something stupid or bat-nuts or rage-inducing, just as private revenge. It really helped my mental health, and then I got a great job and got to leave her!

      1. Frankie*

        Yeah, maybe something will come of it, maybe not! Honestly, I’ve been here so long it’s something I should be doing anyway just to be staying fresh and thinking about my current work in terms of future hireability.

    3. Unkempt Flatware*

      Rage applying feels so so good. If I were feeling froggy, I might respond to that guy with the same recap you sent us: So, you saw three lines about a project someone you barely know is managing, decided to email her to tell her her project sucks, and also that your department won’t be involved in project? So you’re now going to leave me alone to work on my sucky project?

      Make him hear this utter nonsense in all it’s absurd glory.

    4. Camelid coordinator*

      In my fantasy you’d reply to each email with the same answer but all at once one a time so his inbox has a little flood. Maybe “I’m glad to hear of your interest in this project, Jared. I look forward to collaborating on something related at some future point.”

      It is also fun to think of each email getting a one-word reply annoying colleague has to put together to make a complete sentence.

  31. Anongineer*

    I was hired at my position in a lateral move (better location) and recently interviewed for a promotion in my group that will be one of the last upward positions available for a while. Of course, surrounding this interview I was dealing with issues that wouldn’t be out of place in a sitcom. Just wanted to share here that I hope I get it and that the issues didn’t derail me too badly!

    1. ThankDogJanuaryisOVER*

      Good Luck! I started a new job on January 1st an I hear you about the issues – it’s been a shit show. Hopefully we will NOT live in interesting times for the balance of the year.

  32. Jen*

    I started in a government contractor position 2.5 years ago that was pitched to me as an subject-matter expert/program manager type position, but is essentially data entry. Essentially there are plenty of government employees to perform the substantive/interesting work, and I am left to do data entry that the work has been done and track its completion since I can’t perform inherently governmental functions, per the law.

    I’m not happy about what I feel like is a bait-and-switch, and since I’m staying in the same department (being hired to a new area as a government employee) I feel like I should say something to somebody. My government-employed boss, a teapot designer, casually told me about a year in that the position used to be a “teapot designer assistant” position, but the previous person in it went to Teapot Design School and refused to come back unless the job was coded at a higher level, so he made the case for it being a “teapot designer” position.

    I can see the case for it being a teapot design position because it requires an enormous amount of attention to detail and the ability to be a quick thinker and prioritize, which aren’t necessarily things teapot designer assistants are experts in, but I also feel like anyone who completed teapot designer school would be as bored as I am. So what should I say, if anything? I would assume it’d erode any goodwill that I have with him to essentially advocate that the position be downgraded, but it’s still going to affect me when I move into my new role in the same department if there are issues like high turnover (which they experienced before hiring me).

  33. Queenie*

    Advice or commiseration welcome! I’ve been job searching pretty heavily since September 2022, and I still haven’t found anything. I’ve only gotten past the first interview once, and the position was a bait and switch so I bowed out. I’m not really sure what I’m doing wrong, the interviews all seem to go really well, the interviewers seem happy and are smiling and laughing at the end and we usually have a great rapport. It’s been pretty disheartening, I’m really good at what I do but I’d like to work somewhere I’m appreciated and not micromanaged so heavily. Remote position websites highly appreciated!

    1. Luna123*

      I can commiserate! I’ve been searching intensely since April and have had a lot of internews, but haven’t hainternet, with offers.

      For me, I’m assuming it’s in part because I don’t have a bachelor’s degree (“bachelor’s or relevant experience” my butt), so I’m biting the bullet and going back to school in the fall.

      1. Queenie*

        I’m in the same boat, loads of experience and I’ve done certifications and quite a bit of schooling but theres not a bachelors degree. It’s super frustrating that even the positions that don’t require or ask for a degree I’m not getting. You got this!

        1. rayray*

          I’m also having a hard time, I do have a degree but it’s one that is usually considered useless or fluff. Even jobs that mention my specific degree or ones suuper closely related are turning me down.

  34. Our Mr Wilson*

    I received “not meeting expectations” in some areas in my annual review in November, and my boss told me I had until the end of January to improve or I would be put on a PIP. (He did give me details of what to do to improve). I have been improving but I don’t know if it’s enough.

    We have our bi-weekly 1:1 on Monday (supposed to be today and postponed this morning ). What can I do to prepare for possibly getting a PIP, both emotionally at the meeting and overall for keeping this job/getting a new job but not getting fired? I’ve been at this job for 4 years but it’s my first job out of college.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Remember that a PIP doesn’t define your self worth. You are still an awesome person. You are just struggling in meeting the goals they want from you.

      If on a PIP work to meet it but also start really seriously job hunting. It gives yourself more options than succeed or fail PIP. (Who knows you might get a higher offer for a job better suited to you).

      For the meeting itself, be honest. Here’s how I heard your last feedback, here’s what I have implemented to fix that, here’s how it is going. Try and treat it as a constructive meeting, everyone wants you to succeed work together (not a they hate me, me vs them). Be serious, don’t goof about it, but also again it’s not the end of the world, don’t let it make you feel like you are awful. (You can be awful at specific job task XYZ but you are not an awful person!)

    2. Onward*

      Prepare for the meeting by listing out all you have been doing to improve. Be specific about what changes you’ve made and the effects. Go back over each of those details he gave you to improve on and state exactly what changes you’ve made to meet those. You don’t have to necessarily present those to him, but it will help you frame your mind around what is working and what is not.

      In the meeting, if there is some kind of support from management that would be helpful (extra training in an area that you’re struggling on, etc.) ask for it. Make sure this is a discussion and not a lecture. As a manager, my goal is always to get someone back on track when I’m delivering a PIP, but sometimes it’s hard for the person receiving the PIP to see that our goals are actually aligned.

      I think it’s important to reflect, as well: you’ve been at this job for 4 years. Is this the first you’ve had performance issues? Or has this been a frequent problem for you? If it’s the former, what do you think caused this change in your performance? If it’s the latter, maybe this isn’t the right field for you? Is there anything else you’d like to pursue?

    3. Bess*

      Just being open goes a really long way here. Be specific about what you’ve been doing to improve and directly ask how that’s been going from your supervisor’s perspective. Be open and agreeable if there are still changes that need to happen; be ready to offer specific suggestions for further progress or ask your supervisor for specifics if you’re unsure how else you can improve.

      If you do get a PIP, all the above applies–be open, get specifics, explicitly affirm where you will change–and it’s not the end of the world. If you get stressed in the moment, you can say, “I’m sorry, I’m feeling stressed, I’ve been making a lot of effort into improving and it’s disappointing to hear I’m not meeting the mark.” And then proceed to the concrete discussion.

    4. Polly Hedron*

      Good suggestions above. We are pulling for you, so please update, here or in next week’s open thread: How did the 1:1 go? Were you put on the PIP?

    5. Lenore*

      Curious: were these a surprise to you? Because if you weren’t told about performance issues prior to your review, your boss sucks.

  35. Aaaaaa*

    Hi! I posted on here a couple of weeks ago about how to think about a potential job offer. Well, I got the offer, everything in my personal life went to shit (a lot of the reasons I was looking for a job became moot), and they want an answer as to whether I’ll accept on Monday. I’ve asked for more time, but I’m still in no state to make a decision.

    What’s bothering me is that I told my current boss about the offer, and he told me, in a very come-to-Jesus way, that accepting it would be a “serious professional mistake”. I generally trust his judgement, but he is biased (he doesn’t want to lose a good employee) and has an elitist streak (I doubt he’d think any company could compare to this one). I don’t think the new job is made of bees, based on my extensive talks with them and pointed questions. But I think my boss is right that overall my current job would be better for my skill development.

    If I moved, I’d be going from a generalist role to a specialist one, at one of the only firms in the country that does this specific type of specialist work. I also surmise my technical stills would not continue to grow at a blistering pace (but my people skills might).

    However. My mental health has been on a steady downward swing for about a year (for general-life-circumstance reasons… let’s just say I cry more days than not), and taking the job offer would allow me to start fresh in a place where I think I would be less sad (sleepy suburb to city, and I like living in cities). I’ve also internalized some toxic habits around my current job (for example, I panic when asking for feedback or time off, and emails from certain people make me anxious to the point of tears).

    I’m still very young (23). And my current job gives me stability and challenging work, that I feel like I’m finally getting good at, with good people who like me. Do I prioritize professional development, or take the leap to start somewhere new?

    1. WellRed*

      You’re involving your current job way too much in this decision. How does he know you won’t grow professionally in a new job? That’s often how people do grow, especially when so young. My concern is whether taking on a new job and in a new city will help or hurt your mental health.

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I’d look at 2 key things: 1) is the move to the city environment going to be better for you in the long run, and 2) are you interested in the specialist work — and would specializing provide opportunities for advancement and development?

      The new job could also be stable and challenging with good people who like you. (And you can stay in touch with the best of the folks that are at your current job.)

      If you decide the current job is for you, I’d suggest that you consider some good therapy to disconnect from the toxic habits and anxiety. It’s not a great choice if you’re crying more days than not, no matter what it says on your resume.

      Nothing you do today will bind you forever. Perhaps the change of scenery and some specialist skills are just what you need and it will be something that will keep you usefully engaged for a good long time. Or maybe in 3-5-7 years you’ll assess your situation and decide you’d like to look for a generalist position again, which you can do without anyone else’s approval. Or you’ll do something that you never expected. who knows!?

    3. Lily Rowan*

      I think a new job in a new place will provide professional development no matter what. If nothing else, it will expose you to a different environment, different people, ways of doing things (that ideally will not make you cry!!!), etc.

      It doesn’t sound to me like your current job is such an amazing fit for you, and that’s the important thing — not what your boss or any other person thinks about the company or role.

    4. Morgan Proctor*

      Please stop talking to your boss about your job search. It’s none of his business, and honestly his reaction here tells me you’re making the right choice in leaving. Also, if you know you enjoy living in cities, then do it! I’m the same way, and living/working in a suburb had always been a nightmare for me.

    5. Kate*

      I say take the leap! This recent NYT column from the wonderful Roxane Gay really resonated with me: https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/08/business/roxane-gay-work-advice-2023-resolutions.html. “Yes, you should quit your job. Yes, you should call out the overbearing colleague who steals your ideas and talks over everyone. Yes, you should go back to graduate school. Yes, you should make a drastic career change and pursue your passion. Of course you should make the risky, terrifying choices with absolutely no guarantee of success. But what we should do and what we can do are two different things.”

      So if you can, now is the time to go on adventures and try new things. You are young—you can make plenty of choices based on professional growth in your 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, not in your early 20s. (And if New Job doesn’t work out, you are more likely to find another job in an urban area, rather than the ‘burbs.)

    6. RagingADHD*

      When you are 23, there are very few choices you could possibly make that would be a “serious professional mistake” unless they are illegal or a serious breach of ethics. This is not one of them. I certainly hope your boss didn’t intend that as a threat that he will sabotage you, because that’s kind of what it sounds like.

      You are 100 percent allowed to make a decision just because you want to be happier. That is, in fact, a fantastic reason to make a move, and I hope it works out well for you.

    7. Workerbee*

      Picture to yourself, right now, how it will feel if you turn down the other job and stay right where you are.

      Did you feel dread, or joy?

      (Gut feelings can tell us so many things if we get out of our own way.)

  36. Genius with Food Additives*

    How do you diplomatically tell a coworker the way to improve the relationship is for them to actually do their job? I have a meeting coming up with a manager in a different department on how to improve the relationship with my dept (I am an individual contributor, not a manager).

    My department relies on this person to go find us what we need to do our part of the process and requires an amount of handholding that, frankly, I would expect of someone within their first 5 years of professional work. They never know what is going on, follow-ups from meetings take at least a second meeting before they actually happen, and they need my group to constantly say “we still need X” even though they could easily see what was missing if they actually went and looked. Hardest of all is that they seem to retain zero information. Making sure we get the information we need in a timely fashion to not impact customers is a resource drain at a time when we’re already short staffed (their group is not), so hearing them complain about how busy they are is an extra cherry of frustration on top.

    Their boss is aware of the problems, and I think has prompted these meetings. The problem manager has already had one with my boss, who is extremely aware of the issues. So I’m trying to figure out what to say that will expand on what he’s already been told in a way that might sink in.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Focus on measurable goals.

      We need X information in 3 days from the event for our reports. The last 4 reports we’ve not been getting X until 8 or 9 days after the event. Is this feasible from your end? If it’s not possible to get that information let’s brainstorm some options to do instead.

      We usually have to remind your department 3 or 4 times that we need something. How can we facilitate processing our requests, would a written email instead of verbally asking be better? What’s your normal turn around time, at what point should be follow up instead of assuming you’re working on it?

    2. by golly*

      Can you show from your end how you can see that they have not done their part? I’m thinking, like, you must have a database or checklist somewhere that shows what is needed, and you can say “when a project looks like this, with X box unchecked, that means we’re waiting on you.” Or, can you make a list of priorities “First, get all of the llama grooming appointments scheduled, Next when that’s done, we ask that you prioritize turtle shell cleanings over tool organization.” Or whatever.

    3. Me ... Just Me*

      I would start of by trying the “same page” technique – ask them what they discussed in the meeting with your manager (and anyone else they’ve met with on this) and what they perceive any issues to be, so that you can start “on the same page”, then reiterate any points that you feel need to be focused on and bring up any issues that they haven’t mentioned.

      I’ve done the “I wasn’t in the meeting you had with my boss, so can you just fill me in on what was discussed and any take-aways from that meeting, so that we can both start on the same page?”

  37. Minimal Pear*

    There’s a possibility my job could switch me from PT hourly to PT salaried, if I asked for it. I’m considering doing s0–I know that it can end up being exploitative (you can’t work under x hours but you can always work more!) but my workplace is pretty good about work-life balance. Plus I’m pretty good at sticking to that sort of boundary.
    The pros are that I could get a little flexibility in hours (I’m chronically ill and currently in a phase of treatment with LOTS of appointments) and I would be getting the same amount of money in each paycheck. I’ve also heard it would be easier on the admin side of things. Are there any cons I’m not thinking of besides the stuff mentioned above? Oh, and overtime isn’t a concern.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Does the tax rate change at all?

      Losing overtime pay is the big one, but you’re not worried about that.

      Do your benefits change?

      Does salary mean different requirements (annual training, performance reviews etc) that would be annoying?

    2. Gracely*

      I got switched from salaried to hourly a few years ago, and I would go back to FT salaried in a heartbeat if I could. If your work has good work-life balance, salaried is great for more flexibility over a broader time frame.

      If there was a risk of overtime, my advice would be different, but you’re not worried about that.

  38. Indolent Libertine (formerly Empress Matilda)*

    I’m starting the process of “managing out” one of the people on my team, which means documenting All The Things that show he’s not up for the job. That part is fine – but how do I avoid confirmation bias? I’m doing my best to keep it to just facts – but the more I document, the more I see evidence that supports my position. And I’m worried it won’t be too long before I start writing things like “He wore a blue shirt today even though he KNOWS it’s my least favourite colour!”

    “Just the facts, ma’am” is easy enough to say, but not as easy to do in this situation. Any tips for keeping myself honest here?

    1. J*

      Oh boy, I am at the tail end of this.

      No guarantees this is all guaranteed to work, but here’s what I did:
      – Made clear for myself the specific issues/ongoing concerns that made the person a bad fit. “Misses deadlines frequently, work often needs to be redone” those sorts of objective facts that tie directly into job responsibilities. It can also be helpful to look at the JD and go through a “checklist” of key responsibilities.
      – Then ONLY looked for documentation that specifically backed up the above list. In my case, the person had a terrible attitude but I had never explicitly addressed it in writing, so I had to leave all of that out. Other irksome behavior gets left out this way too.
      – Talk to others and get their honest feedback (if possible) – they will not only give you examples you may need, but if someone other than you is pointing out the same problem, that will be helpful validation. Do NOT share your assessment, just hear theirs.

      FWIW, I also surprised myself by finding documentation / explicit feedback given way earlier than I thought I would – if this is what’s making you concerned, maybe try to think of it as just evidence you’ve been doing your best to address these issues.

      1. Indolent Libertine (formerly Empress Matilda)*

        Part of the problem is he wrote his own JD – so technically he’s meeting the requirements just fine, because he created them himself!

        I think what I really have to do is demonstrate that he’s not capable of doing the job *as it exists today,* regardless of what was put in place 10 years ago. It’s a bit of a challenge to untangle all this, that’s for sure.

        1. Ainsley Hayes*

          It would likely be worth it to write out what the job is as it exists today so that you have that clear in your mind as you go through the process. Been there – good luck!!

    2. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Is there a listing of job responsibilities or assigned tasks somewhere that you can use as an objective metric? “Bob is supposed to be able to send external client messages, but has actually sent information to the wrong client 2/7 times this week.” Also be sure to refer to any code of conduct/employee manual – if Bob is sending out client messages but also being consistently rude to all his coworkers that’s not good either.

      1. Indolent Libertine (formerly Empress Matilda)*

        Not a ton of objective metrics in our profession, but the Code of Conduct is a good idea. Thank you!

    3. The Cat's Pajamas*

      In the abstract, what would minimum viable success in this position look like? (Not a rockstar, just… good enough.) That’s how I’d approach it, rather than starting with what the employee is doing and working from there. Have these expectations been communicated to the employee? How is this employee stacking up against that metric? Setting clear goals + communicating those clearly + recording actual data/outcomes seems as bias-free as you could get here.

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        And share that list with him.

        “Here are the minimum standards I need you to meet, consistently and going forward, in order to keep you in this role. I know this is a change, so I’m giving you (30 days or whatever is reasonable) to reach this point and then maintain that level.”

  39. Lady Lia*

    I find myself faced with the prospect of a job search due to an impending layoff. I’m currently in a department director-level position, for which I am grossly underpaid. I’ve worked in the same industry for more than 30 years, but mainly at small, family-owned businesses. Given my experience and position, I should be making twice what I am now, but I doubt anyone other than large corporations has the means to pay a proper salary. My question is this, how do I go about getting my foot in the door with a large corporation, especially at an advanced level? I seriously doubt the types of positions I’m seeking are posted on Indeed, and my professional network is tiny (not not tied in with the corporate world). I don’t have my heart set on working for a corporation, but I’m done with being grossly underpaid because I work for a mom and pop operation. Please advise.

    1. irene adler*

      Is there a professional organization that pertains to the industry you are in? If so, and they have a local chapter, reach out to them. They will have resources:
      – they know the job market
      -they will have people who know folks who work at these large corps
      -they can make introductions to folks who may be of help to you with the job search
      -they often have a network that knows who’s hiring
      -there may be recruiters (not in-house recruiters) who specialize in the industry. Folk in the professional organization will know who these are.
      -they can help with the resume- what to have on there that [company name] likes to see.

      All this doesn’t happen at once; you’ll want to be a ‘regular’ at their meetings. Make it a point to get to know those who run the events.

      Have you visited temp organizations that serve the industry you are in? Like exec level. They may be able to help with the job search. Yeah, I’ve seen director level jobs at these places (talking biotech here; YMMV).

      And you can go to the web sites of the large corporations and apply for the director level jobs. That gets your resume into their system.

    2. HR Friend*

      I don’t know your industry, but you can absolutely find job postings for Director positions on Indeed, LinkedIn. But you might have better luck with industry-specific job forums.

      And keep in mind that your title might not translate from small biz to large corporation. Meaning if you’re a VP at a mom and pop, you might be better off looking for Director position at a large corp. The scale of your job duties are a factor in your candidacy as much as the duties themselves. Good luck!

    3. Ranon*

      Third party recruiters can be useful in this situation- that’s how I made my jump from a small company to a big one in a totally different industry. Big companies are more likely to use them and they’ll have a useful perspective on how you might position yourself in the market. Don’t be afraid to talk to several to see if there’s one that’s a good fit for you.

  40. DonnaP*

    Hi, looking for some perspective!

    I’ve been working with a new recruiting agency. I accepted a job offer yesterday through them for a part time ongoing temp job. The recruiter I’m currently working with is insufferable, pushy, and belittling so I almost didn’t say yes to the job! I have yet to fill out paperwork and now only communicate with them over email because I can’t stand to talk with them.

    I just got a lead today for a better paying part time ongoing temp job from an agency I like and have worked with in the past. It’s potentially 7 more dollars an hour but I don’t even have an interview yet.

    I’m not sure how to balance the potential of this better job with a trusted agency versus the job I literally just accepted yesterday through some shmucks. I hate this new agency but understand they’d be an evil with an end date.

    Any perspective here? Anyone else been in this situation? Would I be able to stall and find out if this other opportunity works out? Is there potentially an issue if I start this other job and leave it immediately?

    1. Morgan Proctor*

      Start the job and quit if you get a better offer. There’s “potentially an issue” with literally any decision you could possibly make in life. Put yourself first and get that extra $7/hr.

    2. RagingADHD*

      Take the temp job now. Then if you get the other one, take it and leave the bad one.

      It’s *temp.* Turnover is built into the business model. You don’t owe them anything. There is zero long term commitment in either direction.

      And FWIW, when I was temping, if I told my agency that I just got a gig for $7 more an hour, they would say, “go get it!” If this place sucks as you describe, they probably won’t be like that, but that’s okay.

  41. Anonymous Educator*

    There’s a cliché that people leave managers, not companies, and I think that’s true for the most part.

    Has anyone done the opposite, though? You love your manager and your team, but the company larger culture (and leadership decisions) cause you to leave?

    1. J*

      Me right now. I had a terrible manager/department head for years, but the higher-ups intervened about a year ago and brought in someone I genuinely like working for. However, the fact that the poor management was overlooked for so long and larger culture issues mean that while I’m excited about the direction my department is now going in, I still don’t think it’s best for me to stay.

      I work in a very large org, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this is more common there, as individual managers (particularly if they are not high in the org themselves) have limited ability to mitigate the impact of various policies, etc.

    2. by golly*

      Similar to J. I had a terrible manager, and eventually have been able to move to a better one, but the whole thing (everyone knows this manager is terrible, but he seems to have a knack for falling upward) has left a bad taste in my mouth, causing me to look elsewhere. Poor management at the leadership level can really sour employees on the work, no matter how great their team is. Being ‘us against the world’ isn’t sustainable forever.

    3. Cookies for Breakfast*

      That was me last year. I started job hunting to leave a manager I wasn’t clicking with, and when that manager got fired, I put the job search on hold because I reasoned some things might get better (I was given a big pay rise and promised a role that suited my skills better, and through all of that, really loved my team).

      Surprise surprise, none of these things made bearing the dysfunction at the heart of my department any easier. Within a few months, I was job hunting again, and this time, what I was leaving was a pattern of rash leadership decisions and constant changes of direction (including my new role, which they never bothered to help me set up for success) that I had little hopes would ever change.

    4. Indolent Libertine (formerly Empress Matilda)*

      I’ve never understood that cliche. Most of the time I leave jobs because I’ve outgrown them, and there’s no chance for promotion or lateral move within the organization.

      I left one job on impulse because I got distracted by a shiny new opportunity overseas. And another one because I never wanted to be there in the first place – I had been unemployed and needed income, so I went to the first place that would hire me and just kept looking until I found one I really wanted.

      I mean, I’ve had some bad managers during that time, but none of them were the sole reason I left the job. And at the same time, I don’t think I’ve ever stayed at a job specifically because of a manager – regardless of how great (or how terrible) they are, they’re almost always just one of many factors influencing my decision.

    5. shruggie*

      I left a job with a boss I simply adored because the job was being redesigned by higher-ups to offer me less responsibility and growth opportunities. It was already kind of an odd-ball role that didn’t prime me well for moving up in the industry, and eventually the negatives outweighed the huge positive of my boss. She was very understanding, and was generous in serving as a reference while I found my next step.

    6. Isben Takes Tea*

      I left a manager who was an excellent manager and a team that was incredibly supportive both because the role itself didn’t have much growth left and the company/industry was really discouraging and stifling. (“Here’s a pizza party because we beat budget by a million dollars! Also we have to lay off the support staff because we have no money.”)

    7. The Cat's Pajamas*

      Yup! Worked for a university, loved my team and liked the work, but couldn’t stomach the direction top leadership was headed or some gnawing existential qualms about both the institution and the industry. (I think my last straw was when the uni leadership doubled down on championing “academic freedom” as a loosey-goosey free-for-all that meant the uni would freely devote resources to misgendering students and platforming eugenicists.)

      I’d sort of jumped from the frying pan into the fire the last time I was job-hunting, and liking my team meant I felt okay enough day-to-day to stick around until I found the right match for a next job. When I finally gave notice, my manager and team were thrilled for me, and more than one person hinted that they were also headed elsewhere.

    8. Kristine*

      Yup, I left my last job before grad school because of this. I loved my manager and coworkers, but I didn’t feel valued by the larger company at all–we were grossly underpaid and other departments (HR, IT, etc) would take weeks to respond to respond to simple questions, or would never respond at all. If I hadn’t been going to grad school, I would have still been job-searching.

    9. Cyndi*

      That’s the reason I’m job hunting right now! My supervisor is great, but I need out because of leadership decisions from way abover her head.

      In fact my entire team is job hunting or already gone–we’re down three people and up only one shiny brand new hire–and I feel bad for her having to try and keep order in these conditions. But not bad enough to stick around for the nonsense we all know is coming down the pipe.

    10. WantonSeedStitch*

      I had two employees explain their choice to leave in almost exactly those terms: both of them assured me that they were happy with me as a manager, and that they appreciated everything I had done to try to make their experience at work better, but that things out of my control in our organization meant that they just couldn’t be happy working there. They knew I had done what I could to petition for change, but that I’d been unsuccessful.

    11. The New Wanderer*

      I would have left ASAP after being assigned to a terrible manager, but I was quickly granted reassignment to a much better manager so I stayed.

      I did leave the following year because of a different terrible manager who had authority over promotions and wasn’t ever going to give me any opportunities regardless of how successful I was.

      Both of those terrible managers actually left the company before I did (the first by their own choice, the second when they were unable to get promoted themselves). The company has been continuously hiring for the role that I used to have, but I’m not tempted to go back because ultimately the environment and culture doesn’t suit me.

    12. newspaper holdout*

      More of a niche industry, in the sense that standard corporate norms, etc., don’t often apply, but I think this is relatively common in journalism — I love my direct editor, and would follow them to the ends of the earth, but the top editors are largely incompetent and the overall company that owns my newspaper is a disaster. If/when I leave, it will be because of them, not because of the people I work closely with.

    13. Tired of Working*

      I left a company where I had worked for over eleven years and where I loved my manager and team. I left because TPTB changed the way in which they decided who was entitled to get a raise. My manager told me that they decided that there would be a committee that would meet and decide which employees (there were about 85 of us) would get a raise and which employees would not. Unfortunately, my manager told me that all of the members of the committee were never in the office at the same time, so the committee was never able to meet. I expressed my displeasure, and my manager said that there wasn’t anything he could do about it.

      We were never told who was on this committee. Ostensibly it was to protect their privacy, but I suspect it was so that we couldn’t say, “What do you mean, the committee can’t meet? All of its members were here every day last week.” Since we had no idea who was on this committee, we had to take TPTB’s word for it that there wasn’t even one single day that all of them were in the office.

      I agonized for six weeks over what to do. Everyone I spoke to told me that it was up to me, except for one person who told me to quit, or else the company would lose respect for me. During those six weeks, I was so excited whenever my manager called me into his office. I was certain that he was going to tell me that the committee met, and I was going to get a raise. But it never happened. It took me several weeks of looking before I was offered a job at another company. The committee didn’t meet during those weeks either.

      When I gave two weeks notice, I said that I was tired of waiting for the committee to meet. The office manager guaranteed that the committee would meet before the end of the year. (This was at the end of July many years ago.) I said that I didn’t want to wait.

      I eventually found out on December 30 that the committee hadn’t met yet. I said that maybe they would meet the following day, because the office manager had guaranteed it. It didn’t happen. I eventually found out the following March that the committee still hadn’t met yet, and no one had any idea who was on the committee.

      So it does happen that people leave companies, not managers.

    14. Ex-MIC Worker*

      Yes, I worked in government R&D and eventually I found that the cognitive dissonance between my personal values/morals and the fact that the company did mostly Dept of Defense work for the military became too much to bear, so I quit. My manager, team, and coworkers were delightful on an individual level but I couldn’t stomach the fact that my work was essentially being used by the C-suite as a money laundering scheme to get government funding out of the bloated military budget.

  42. handfulofbees*

    Looking at Glassdoor, and they have this thing where they want you to leave a review before you can look at other reviews. I don’t want to leave a review, for numerous reasons. Is there any way to get around this?

    1. Whomst*

      Not without some significant hacking skills. It works this way to make the reviews more representative and mitigate some sampling bias. You can always lie if you’re really uncomfortable with it.

      1. The Girl in the Red Sweater*

        I wouldn’t recommend lying, since other people will be using that data! It’s a community-data-based project, so if no one left ratings, it wouldn’t be useable! And you don’t want people just leaving ratings if they had a really bad or really good experience at their work. If you don’t want to leave any information, then don’t use Glassdoor. Otherwise, you can just leave ratings along with your general job description and if need be, a very short response about the overall work environment.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      You can review a entry level spot at McDonalds or similar type place with a lot of seasonal workers. No one will know, and that won’t hurt that company (no one is reading glassdoor for deciding to take cashier job at McDonalds)

    3. Indolent Libertine (formerly Empress Matilda)*

      I would just leave a super generic review. Give 3-4 stars, and put a comment like “everything was fine.” That should get you in the door without impacting the company’s overall rating – and without identifying yourself, which I assume is a bigger concern!

    4. rayray*

      Would you be able to get past it by reviewing a company you interviewed with at some time? You may also be able to leave a review of the benefits package, so you could just do something like “Offers 15 days PTO, Holidays, and health insurance”

      I see super vague benefits reviews all the time like that, it goes under the Benefits section not the regular company review section.

    5. The Prettiest Curse*

      When I was posting about Glassdoor last week, someone replied that there’s a fake company called Nunya Biz that you can review. Go forth and write your fake review with a clear conscience.

    6. EMP*

      I left a review that was broadly true but smudged the details a bit (e.g. said I’d worked there for 3 years when it was 4, rounded my salary to a round number, used my first, more generic title and not what I was promoted to) in the hopes of being less identifiable. I always feel like it is way too easy to someone from a small department to be identified in an “anonymous” review if they don’t take these precautions but I hope it’s “close enough” to help others.

    7. Morgan Proctor*

      I got around this by inventing a fake company and leaving a review. If you don’t want to do that, I believe you can see a certain number of reviews when your account is brand new. Use a website like temp – mail dot org to generate a fake email address, and use it to create a new account.

    8. Girasol*

      That must explain why so many workers at Former Company leave reviews that say, “Pro: Nothing I can think of. Con: Nothing I can think of.” so often.

    9. Slowpoke*

      Could you use a friend’s account, assuming you have one who’d be willing to review their own company? My friend and I did this, although it requires the friend to confirm a text upon logging in, so it’s a bit tricky.

    10. J*

      Incognito mode. Sometimes you’ll have to open a new incognito window for every link but I’ve been very successful at viewing my company’s online hate reviews and finding out just how accurate they are (very) through this method of snooping. I keep one incognito window open, when bounced from that I put the URL into my regular browser and click in deeper and when bounced from that a new incognito and so on until I get the results I want.

  43. Tea Jay*

    I’m applying for a broadcast production position (journalism, entry level) and they want my salary expectations when applying. I’m doing the research – I don’t want to low-ball myself, but this position seems pretty darn good and I don’t want to take myself out of the running.
    …Anyone willing to help with a ballpark salary?
    And what should I think of a position that wants this info right in the application?

    1. kiwiii*

      I’m in an industry that posts salary bands as a standard practice, so I can’t help with the first part.

      But I do know it’s not out of the norm that a position wants that information right on the application — lots of places ask so they don’t have someone way over what they’re planning in the candidate pool.

    2. rayray*

      Maybe check glassdoor and see if there are any reported salaries for the position, and maybe adjust slightly depending on how long ago it was reported, there should be a date.

    3. Name (Required)*

      I always put “negotiable” when they ask for it up front. Or all zeroes if it requires a number.

    4. RagingADHD*

      Different line of work, but I’d say about 40-50 percent of places I’ve applied to recently ask for salary expectations in the application process. They weren’t all terrible companies. They just weren’t keeping up with the times.

  44. stelmselms*

    What kinds of jobs do you all have (outside of fundraising) where you aren’t in charge of strategy, and get to be on a team to do your work and maybe even help people?

    My partner works in a pretty toxic place where management knows what goes on but ignores what is happening in the lower levels of the organization because they blow past their metrics every year and making money is always the end goal. He is not a fit for this particular organization and realizes that, but thinks it’s his fault. (It is not.) He likes to be part of a team working toward a common goal and would like to not have metrics be part of his job evaluation.

    1. kiwiii*

      I work in a role that’s effectively project management with some front end deliverables (my title here is kind of silly, but it’s similar to a job that has the title “Policy and Planning Analyst”). I work directly with the clients to discuss issues, changes, or new items they want to a larger, standing project, and determine if and how what they want can work with what we do; I communicate that to another team who do some technical work with the client’s data, and then I do front end coding stuff (HTML, C++) stuff to what they give me and release it for the client.

      It’s interesting and not the same every day, I don’t have to deal with real strategy (just small, project specific plans), or money, and there’s a general understanding from the client that if something goes wrong I’m trying to fix it. Metrics is never really part of the conversation unless we’re like way behind the average pace.

    2. Bagel Girl*

      I work as a data analyst at a small consulting firm. I work on a team for each project, and I’m measured on “Is the work done? Relatively on time? Is it correct?”

  45. Immigration*

    This is a work question but some background:

    My spouse is a ~legal immigrant to America, but they’ve been here since they were a baby. We’re working on getting them citizenship a la marriage, but the consulate is a mess so it’s taking a while.

    They’re also looking for jobs but are really feeling just awful about it. They’re not sure if anywhere will hire them because their work authorization ends in the fall–hopefully we can get it sorted by then but still. (They’ll renew if not which :/)

    They have part time jobs but full time feels like another beast. I’m just wondering if y’all have any success stories or tips to pass along their way.

    1. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Figures out this week indicate that the unemployment rate is 3.4% and there were 500,000+ new jobs added in January. The tip I would give is apply, apply, apply.

    2. Kiwiapple*

      I was in the same position in 2021 and my visa expired in early 2022. I kept on getting turned down, even for temp work when I had 6 months left on my visa (not in US). I hope it works out but it was really hard in my case.

    3. Rosemary*

      I am sorry you are in this position. I am currently hiring and we are not able to hire anyone who does not already have authorization, which is a bummer because I come across many good applicants that I have to put into the “no” pile when I see they don’t have authorization and/or will need to be sponsored in the future. Is it very likely that your partner will have it resolved before it expires? If so, is there a way to note that on their resume, that they are anticipating renewal by X date?

    4. germank106*

      I would absolutely include plans to become a citizen (and where in the process your spouse is) in the cover letter or during the interview.

  46. The Crusher*

    This question is about a job I’m no longer at, so don’t need answer fast.

    What do you do about performance-based promotions when you’re slotted into a job that’s not right for you?

    I worked at a test prep company for years. I was very good at teaching one test, and when I asked to go full time they agreed to let me do so on condition I cross-trained to teach another test that was a bigger moneymaker for them. It wasn’t a good fit and my performance ratings dropped. Ratings were generally worse for teachers on this test, but compared to my previous ratings it looked like a bigger drop than it was.

    I was unhappy and started pushing to move into different roles that would have been a better fit, but ratings were so important to the process that when I applied for other roles I’d be told to wait six months to improve my benchmarks.

    This seemed like a difficult position to be in, since my numbers from before the switch were more than good enough, and I raised this concern a couple of times and eventually ended up resigning after two years full time when it became clear I’d handcuffed myself by cross-training. I was too good to fire or put on a PIP but not good enough (at the new test) to get consideration for better fit roles.

    Was this my only choice, or was there a better way to handle this?

    1. kiwiii*

      no advice, but just a chime of agreement that that’s silly. “we’ll only let you not do work you struggle with when you struggle with it less” is … not functional.

      1. cncx*

        That is exactly why I quit my last job. I was bait and switched into doing something I will never be good at, and when I asked to do what I was hired for and what was in my contract (!!) I was told I had to get my metrics up in what I was bad at and hadn’t done in over ten years. Annoying.

    2. ecnaseener*

      Sounds like leaving was your only choice, yeah. You tried to make the case that you’d be better in a different role, they didn’t care because it didn’t fit into their process. The only potential other option I see is applying for lateral transfers instead of promotions, since you said these were promotions, but they might still have a ratings bar for those.

      1. The Crusher*

        Yeah, it was a weird org chart where classroom teaching was sort of entry level by default so anything else (not just management but also things like content development or analytics) was considered a step up. There wasn’t much hope of a lateral move since they weren’t interested in losing a teacher from the big money exam.

        They’d periodically fast track people with awesome numbers. There was a “rotation” track but at the time the only method to get on it involved physically moving to their call center in another state and working your initial rotation in the call center. That wasn’t an option for me.

  47. by golly*

    My partner and I are interviewing for an international position where we would live on site. (think study abroad program, but not quite) What questions would you ask?

    More thoughts: In a normal interview I’d never ask something like “how will this job mesh with my family life?” but we have kids and obviously their quality of life is a huge consideration in this. How do you walk the line between professionalism and the real issue that our family needs this to work for everyone in order for this to work?

    1. summer camp spouse*

      I would ask a lot of specifics around accomodations, settling-in support from the org, what are the expectations for work/ availability hours, are there restrictions on leaving the site when you’re not working, school/etc infrastructure for the kids, and how is the org equipped to support you in case of an emergency (medical/ political unrest/ natural disaster/ etc)

      This isn’t a normal job, it’s your entire family commiting to a lifestyle.

      ALSO because I interviewed for a similar position back in the day, highly recommend talking to other people who’ve worked for the org! I learned a ton that way (the good and the bad).

      Good luck!

    2. 1LFTW*

      If it’s an international position that both you AND your partner are interviewing for, I think the org already realizes that it needs to work for everyone in your family.

      They probably won’t take it amiss if you asked outright how the job meshes with family life. Honestly, I’d be surprised if you have to ask – the org can’t do their work without being able to recruit and retain people who are moving overseas with their families, so I’d imagine that information about transitional support would be part of the interview process.

    3. OtterB*

      You have kids, you would be moving internationally and living on site, your prospective employer should want to make sure that you get answers to all your quality of life questions. It’s the right thing for them to do, but it’s also in their best interest to avoid hiring someone who has to quit early because something just doesn’t work. It is a different case from a normal job and I think the lines of professionalism are drawn differently.

  48. shruggie*

    Any advice on struggling with a new job 3 months in? I switched from vaguely-titled catch-all positions in nonprofits to project manager for a company that offers services to nonprofits. I’ve never encountered this level of volume and complexity of work, and I’m trying to keep up but I’m not sure if I’m doing okay or not. I know I’m missing things, because others are catching edits, but also everything is structured to be reviewed by several people so maybe it’s normal for people to catch edits? I’m also responsible for months-long projects but feel myself needing to ask a question almost daily (that’s starting to taper off slightly, I think?).

    My boss has indicated that there is no formal review system, and while we do have check-ins every week, she seems to mostly be making sure I’m focusing on the right tasks and not forgetting anything. I have no idea if I’m on track or not, and feel very fixated on the errors that are happening. My anxiety is as high as it was at my last job, which was part of why I chose to leave. Thoughts?

    1. The Person from the Resume*

      I think that the lack of negative feedback during your weekly check-ins means that you’re doing fine. If you were doing poorly or making too many errors then this would be the place to talk about it.

      And also it can take more than 3 months to settle in and feel comofrtable especially in a job with months-long projects.

      I think you need to operate as though your anxiety is lying to you and work on lower it rather than worrying about work so much.

    2. kiwiii*

      First, lots of jobs expect you to still be learning 3 months in — the team I’m currently on has 3 people who have all been here less than a year, and only the one who has been here the longest is even close to “at full speed”.

      Do you have any team members or coworkers on other teams who do a similar role that you could ask about the learning curve/timeframe/resources? And/or more direct insight from your manager about where she expects you to be by now and/or resources you can use to spot things like X edit or Y symptom of being disorganized.

      1. shruggie*

        Ah, that’s a great suggestion about coworkers… I’ll bring this up with someone next time I’m in the office.

  49. Anon for this*

    Here to vent! And maybe for some productive discussions?

    I’m in academia, at the level > PhD but < professor, on temporary employment that lasts until a grant/academic year is up. I'm on a committee that represents the other people of my level in my research area. And this committee is where good ideas go to die. Luckily they only meet every few months, but I just had a meeting, and it was the worst thing I've ever been a part of.

    There was recently a mandatory application for promotion that everyone at your university had to do. The population I represent was livid over this, because we know we're only at this university for a short period of time, and then we will be out of a job if we haven't found the next one. We can't get promoted from within meaningfully (as in, we might get a pay bump for like 1 month, but then our contract ends, and there is no path to permanent work). We had to do this stupid thing anyways, and it felt insulting and was very time-consuming. I raised this at the committee meeting.

    I got shot down hardddddd. I was treated as if it was just me complaining, personally, and how lots of other people LOVE the process, and how I'm being "inflammatory" when I say it's a lie this process will lead to a permanent position, because some professors were actually postdocs here before! Like 1) I'm just communicating a joint statement that ALL of us signed, and serving as a representative, not complaining personally and 2) Just because 1 or 2 postdocs moved to professorships does not mean it's realistic to expect the ~5 postdocs that leave EVERY YEAR to have permanent jobs waiting for them at this university. You'd need to hire 5 new professors a year! That's not realistic.

    Then I was told that I'm putting down atypical career paths, because some people have kids and don't want to move, etc etc. And it's like??!! I'm not saying people are "better" if they move on, I'm saying we're being forced to move on? Like I'd love to settle down and have kids but in a few months I need to move to a new country because that's where I will have a job. My God.

    Does anyone have any experience with this kind of stonewalling? How do you emotionally and practically deal with this? I feel like I was being told I was crazy for stating the simple fact that temporary workers in academia cannot, for the majority of us, reasonably expect to be promoted from within? That's the truth! Another dimension is that there's a strong population of "went to the best schools, all of US got jobs" at play, who don't know the point of view of the most of the temporary researchers who like… aren't in that position and need to hustle A LOT to stay in in the field. How does one stay sane?

    Sorry if this is a lot, I'm still processing.

    1. DrSalty*

      Yeah being a postdoc sucks. It’s a system that thrives on exploitation so I’m not surprised you’re running up against an unwillingness to see reality on behalf of faculty/administrators/whoever. The only way to stay sane is to gtfo.

      1. DrSalty*

        I’ll just add, leaving academia isn’t quitting, it’s choosing what’s right for you and your life and your happiness. It’s a wonderful world here in industry … the pay is better, the jobs are more stable, and the work-life balance is more realistic. Obviously there are plenty of non-academic jobs that suck, but at least you’re getting paid at a level commensurate to your education and skills, and you’re not *guaranteed* to have to uproot your life every 1-2 years for 10 years until you *maybe* find a faculty position.

        Good luck where ever your path takes you!

        1. Not my real name*

          This. Every year at my professional org conference we have some version of “Industry, it’s not evil” for a talk. This year we had a ton of students so hopefully the message is getting out.

      2. Anon for this*

        Yes, I think my research got kind of hot so I might make it to a permanent job (I got a Very Good postdoc next year, and this year I’m on some faculty shortlists) but it’s particularly irritating that this process actively takes time away from me applying for like… real jobs where I actually can advance.

          1. Anon for this*

            So in the end this was the most useful advice: that we can turn in a blank form if we want. Of course that makes it effectively voluntary not mandatory, but whatever. At least we have the freedom to do that. I had to be gaslit to hell and accused of being anti-EDI (the blood, sweat, and tears I have fought for EDI… I can’t even) but I finally did get that out of them.

    2. Maple Bar*

      A good way I like to deal with people dangling fake carrots like this is just to act extremely credulous. “Oh! So we all actually do have a path to permanent positions here? If we fill this out we can be made permanent soon? All of us? Fantastic! Tell me more about that!” Watch them shrink back like turtles into their shells.

      They’re BSing you, they know it, you know it, but you’re never going to get them to admit it by pointing out how obvious it is. You can, however, get them to backtrack by leaning into it.

  50. NotJustAnAdmin*

    TL;DR – How do you tell someone “I like the work, but would hate you as a manager?”

    I’ve been working with another department on a specific set of tasks for a long time now; it started as a temporary project when someone got laid off and then they just…never hired anyone… They have been very happy with my work and have not been shy about asking me whether I’d ever consider joining their team “for real” when the time comes. I admit, in the beginning I was actually interested, because the work itself was challenging, I excelled at it, and I thought they could maybe offer me more money. But I also like my current role (my actual job, not just this pseudo in-between thing I’ve been doing). So I kept my options open.

    Fast forward to today and the shine has definitely worn off. The manager of the other dept is a micromanager with boundary issues, and treats me like it’s already a done deal that I’m just on the team, including the amount of requests/work that I get asked to do. I wake up every morning to slack messages and emails with requests/meetings/fire drills, and the stress is literally starting to affect my health. I’ve been working with my boss on pushing back and managing the workload, but he doesn’t think he can feasibly pull me out of that dept for another few months (thanks to me being a rockstar, I’m one of only a handful of people in our whole company who knows how to use this specialized computer software, and we’re in the middle of a high-visibility project).

    One thing I want to do is to explain in no uncertain terms that I’m no longer interested in joining the other dept…except the entire reason for that is the manager. I really love the rest of the work, and people can tell. So it’d come as a complete 180 to just say “I don’t like the work anymore.” How do I explain “I got a taste for what it’d be like to really work for you, and there’s no way I would ever subject myself to that willingly?”

    1. NeedRain47*

      Can you say something about the “pace” of the department? It sounds like the other dept is operating on an “everything is an emergency” level. This might be the manager’s fault, but you don’t have to mention that. Assuming your regular dept isn’t sending urgent messages in the wee hours daily, it seems like phrasing it that way might be close enough to the truth without giving the real reason.

    2. Mockingjay*

      Just refer to your own department. “Filling in at Temp Dept. has been challenging/interesting, but I’m really looking forward to getting back to my main role in Sane Dept.”

      You didn’t specifically ask this, but as someone who has been “perma-borrowed” before, I’d strategize with your manager to wean you from Temp Dept. Ensure work requests are run through or at least cc’ed to Sane Manager. Have Sane Manager push back on requests occasionally. Organize training on the special software – surely the vendor has a course. Sane Manager can also compile stats on the impact to Sane Dept’s productivity and set a firm end date; “you can have NotJustAnAdmin for another month, but then I need them back on the Sane Team so we can deliver on Project X”.

      Right now you are filling two roles adequately, so of course Temp Dept. isn’t in a hurry to rehire. You and Sane Manager need to make Temp Manager feel some pain.

  51. potted cactus*

    A person on my small team was recently fired. I was close to this person, and feel like they were treated badly by our company. I am having a hard time retaining trust in our team managers, who I also had a good relationship with. I wonder if I was being naive in my prior outlook on our company and management? How do I move past this?

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Is it possible that there were more issues with this person’s work than you realized? It wouldn’t have been your business as an employee to know that much about your coworker’s work status.

      Although, if this isn’t the only person who has been fired . . . have other firings also seemed unfair?

    2. NeedRain47*

      Honestly this can be really hard to move past, b/c the only way for people to rebuild that is to not do untrustworthy things. And the nature of businesses is that the administrators are always more concerned with money than people. You shouldn’t trust them, b/c they’re not there for you. Even knowing this, it’s not naive to feel betrayed when something bad happens, it’s human. It sounds like your managers have been reliable in the past, so try to consider the total of their actions before you judge them instead of just this one. But don’t expect to get over it super quick, I think it’s more hurtful b/c it was your friend and it’s okay to be upset.

    3. Same Same!*

      I’m in a similar position. My coworker was recently fired really unethically, and replaced with someone with no education in this field, no related skills or abilities who just happens to have married the daughter of big boss last fall.
      It had nothing to do with his work, coworker was a rock star. We were a great team, knocking it out of the park together. But he was out twice with Covid in 2022 (both times when there was an outbreak at work!) and that wiped out all his PTO.
      Coworker asked for permission to still take 3 days at New Years to attend his sisters wedding, and was okay with them being unpaid. Management said yes, that would be fine. The day coworker returned he was written up three times for no call, no show (once for each day) and fired under the “three strikes” policy. Even though he had email proof that it had been okayed, he was told the policy still held and that no one had told him he was exempt from the policy, so he should not have assumed he could “get away with it”.
      Nepo replacement was literally sitting in FIL’s office until coworker was walked out!
      And guess who gets to train this clueless noob?
      I’ve lost all faith in this place and am looking elsewhere. I don’t know that it is possible to move past this here. Literally 6 weeks ago I loved working here.
      All that to say there may not be moving past it while staying there. When your workplace shows their true colors, believe them.

    4. miel*

      I’m sorry, this sucks. I was in a similar position recently, where a work friend was pushed out for what seemed to me like BS reasons.

      I know I’ll never have the full story, which sucks.

      I don’t really have any advice, just solidarity.

      1. potted cactus*

        thanks all, this is really helpful and definitely validating to know that I’m not the only one to feel this way.

        1. Me ... Just Me*

          I would start of by trying the “same page” technique – ask them what they discussed in the meeting with your manager (and anyone else they’ve met with on this) and what they perceive any issues to be, so that you can start “on the same page”, then reiterate any points that you feel need to be focused on and bring up any issues that they haven’t mentioned.

          I’ve done the “I wasn’t in the meeting you had with my boss, so can you just fill me in on what was discussed and any take-aways from that meeting, so that we can both start on the same page?”

    5. Fluffy Fish*

      Sometimes, even many times, there’s A LOT more to someone’s work and behavior than what you see of it.

      A colleague recently let an employee go. This employee was well liked by many in various departments and her side of the story is that her boss was awful and unfair.

      I was privy to some of this individuals behavior and work that all those other people never saw – she was absolutely rightfully terminated.

      That doesn’t make her an awful person or a terrible employee across the board. But in this position she was.

    6. Maple Bar*

      A lot of people saying you may not know the whole story, which is true, but you can also trust what you’ve seen. It’s normal for people to assume that, if they have been generally treated well, that their management is entirely trustworthy. If you see them treat other people poorly, they can definitely treat you the same way in the right circumstances, and you should not trust that they won’t just because they haven’t done it to you before. I’d keep an eye on them and be careful going forward.

  52. Aunt Vixen*

    (reposting because I had a link and the mod queue probably ate it)

    Can anyone help me find a letter in the archive? LW was hiring for a position where the previous employee had died and was asking how to disclose that information if candidates asked about the circumstances of the vacancy. This was not, repeat, not the one where the team had driven off three or four people in the year following their late colleague’s death; just a LW wondering how to answer the question, which could quite reasonably come up. I’ve done some keyword searching and dug through about 20 pages in the “hiring” tag and can’t find it. Thanks for any help!

      1. Aunt Vixen*

        No, it isn’t. As I said: This was not, repeat, not the one where the team had driven off three or four people in the year following their late colleague’s death. But thanks for trying.

        1. Trina*

          I’m so sorry, my reading comprehension is clearly not on point today! I’m glad something about sharks was able to track it down for you.

          (I am also baffled that, upon browsing the lower results of the “employee died” search, the letter you wanted doesn’t show up despite having both those words in the post title!)

    1. Isben Takes Tea*

      Ooh, I remember the one you’re talking about! I feel it was relatively recent, like in the last few months. I’m taking a look but also not finding it. How curious!

    2. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Is it one of these three?

      Colleague won’t leave me alone after my former employee died (1 of 5, March 26, 2021)
      My boss died right after I started my job (3 of 5, August 3 2017)
      When your boss dies (October 19, 2012)

    3. something about sharks*

      Link currently sitting in moderation as well, but try June 2021, “our babysitter ghosted us and now works at my office, replacing a beloved employee who died, and more” – it’s not precisely the same details but pretty close?

      1. Aunt Vixen*

        Thank you!, that was the one! I’m impressed that you found it and (still irritated that I couldn’t). It was specifically the up-front recommended language that I was looking for. Thanks again.

        1. something about sharks*

          You’re welcome, I’m glad it was helpful! I tracked it down through several layers of “you may also like” links – it wasn’t showing up in the search for me either. No idea why this post in particular decided to hide.

  53. UK Hiring Manager Question*

    I find myself at risk if redundancy due to a restructure that no one saw coming! (8 months after I moved roles due to a different department restructure).

    I’m looking for learning and development roles, and almost every job I come across includes the Hiring Managers name and contact details, and seems to encourage applicants to get in touch.

    I know from reading this blog that this is very much a no no in the US, but is there a different expectation in the UK? Am I more likely to get to interview if I DO contact? What do I say if do? I usually find the Job Description covers everything I’d want to know!

    Thank you

    1. londonedit*

      I don’t think there’s any expectation that people will get in touch, and I don’t think they’d look more favourably on you either way. It’d be fine to just submit your application as normal, if you don’t have any questions about the process. It seems to be becoming more common for job adverts here to include a name and contact details and a line saying ‘Should you have any questions about this position, please contact Jane Smith’ or whatever – I have a feeling it’s all tied up with DEI initiatives and making applications as accessible as possible.

    2. HHD*

      I’m always open to people getting in touch, but it doesn’t mean they have to or it will advantage them at all. It’s definitely linked to inclusion but also to trying to sound warm and human

    3. North Star*

      I have used that as an opportunity to just chat to someone to get a feel for the organisation, albeit through that one person.
      One time I got it wrong by calling in to the premises on my way past and asking to talk to the person (what the holy f was I thinking? I think I wanted to screen for someone bad, but the manager was clearly irritated to be pulled away from her work and I totally get that. I don’t see how it was worse than if I had phoned, but somehow it just was!)
      Two other times I phoned and it worked in my favour, showing I was enterprising and thorough, I suppose. As it happens, I got those jobs.
      Just keep the phone calls brief and to-the-point eh :-)

  54. But Not the Hippopotamus*

    I have signed a job offer, contingent on a background check (which will come up boring). I’m holding off on giving notice until it comes through and we set a start date, even though we have already covered that verbally (it’s in March).

    Could someone just reassure me that I’m not being a jerk by not giving as much notice as possible, but sticking with 2-3 weeks?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Two weeks is the professional norm, so you’re not being a jerk by giving two weeks (and potentially doing your company a kindness by giving three).

    2. ferrina*

      You’re being smart and considerate. Background checks are notorious for creating time warps. You don’t want to tell your current employer that you’ll end on a certain date, then need to move that for whatever reason.

      Congrats on the new offer!

    3. BellyButton*

      Stick to waiting until everything has been cleared. I once had a background check come back completely wrong and the company pulled their offer. It took months for me to get the report and I have no ideas whose information was on it, but it wasn’t mind. I later found out the background check company had had a class action lawsuit filed against them because so many other people had had the experience.

    4. rayray*

      I understand what you are thinking, but the most important thing of all in these situations is to put yourself first, not the company or your coworkers. 2-3 weeks notice is plenty of time.

      Good luck on the new job!

    5. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      Thanks, everyone. I had this vision of giving 4 weeks notice and it’s not gonna happen, so I appreciate the sanity check!

    6. Me ... Just Me*

      If it makes you feel better, start preparing things (without telling anyone) that you can wrap up or put materials together for, right now; so that when you do give your notice, you’ll be ahead of the game in transitioning out.

  55. Marcella*

    How do you convey the value of experience to someone who doesn’t have any? I have a marcom contract with a company where I am in the office twice a week. The office admin is a young man who wants to do social media, writing, or marketing. He doesn’t have any actual copywriting, design, SEO, or other skills I would expect from someone on my team, but I offered him 2 small assignments so he could get a taste and see if he enjoys it.

    Unfortunately, he did a poor job and he’s impatient with all the tedious work of marketing and PR – analytics, pitching, taking multiple rounds of feedback, etc. Yet he’s now gone to HR and suggested he become a Director/Head of Communications, Director/Head of Social Marketing, or some other comparable title. When I asked why he felt he should start at that level, his answer was basically that I am called “Head of” and so he should be too now that he has a “portfolio.” I was incredulous that he saw himself as my equal – I have decades of experience behind me.

    At the same time, they just hired someone right out of college who has come to me upset because her title is “Designer” and not “Senior Designer” like another designer. I said “Senior” was a level up and she got even more upset and said she was just as good as the other designer and we were being unfair.

    This is not something I ever would have felt entitled to at age 22 or 25. Has anyone else encountered this? I know HR agrees with me, but they seem to be dodging the issue by telling the admin and the designer to talk to me about “a leadership path.” And hey, I’m all for a leadership path but that path is called…. experience and growth. And as a contractor, I feel it’s their job to have tough discussions with their employees.

    1. Qwerty*

      Do they report to you? Are you hoping to teach them because its part of your duties or because you are kind?

      I’m all for mentorship, but there’s a level of out of touchness here that you don’t need to tackle unless it is part of your responsiblity to. I’d recommend boring answers and not being their sounding board because I don’t think you are going to get anywhere. They don’t know enough to know how much they don’t know, and they probably won’t behave well towards the person who explains that to them.

      Also, starting your career at the top kinda sucks. I rapidly ascended and was a Senior Engineer at 25 and there really isn’t anywhere to go from there, which is why I now change industries with every job to get new challenges.

    2. urguncle*

      Ummm, agreed that being a contractor you have absolutely no reason to be mentoring and giving “leadership paths” to people in the organization that you work seemingly very part-time for. You probably can give them a good idea on what they’d need to accomplish to do what you’re doing, but other than that, this isn’t your organization!
      I completely empathize. I had someone come to me last summer asking how she could get something similar to my current job and she was not very pumped to hear things like “do work outside of your job description” and “take on projects that require you to stretch your technical skills.” It sucks to hear that you have to be uncomfortable to get the things you want.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        > being a contractor you have absolutely no reason to be mentoring and giving “leadership paths” to people in the organization that you work seemingly very part-time for

        Reading between the lines HR etc are uncomfortable having that conversation with him and want OP to instead. The implication is OP will be telling him why he isn’t really suitable for a leadership path so that HR don’t have to do the difficult part of their job.

    3. BellyButton*

      “Yet he’s now gone to HR and suggested he become a Director/Head of Communications, Director/Head of Social Marketing, or some other comparable title. ”

      HAHAHA how did you keep a straight face?!?1

    4. ferrina*

      Oh wow. Who’s in charge of hiring on that team? Cuz that’s some amazing audacity that they seem to be screening for. How do you call a couple of basic assignments a “portfolio”?!

      I’d stay out of it if I were you. This is their manager’s problem, not yours. They’ll learn soon enough.

    5. Robin Ellacott*

      It’s 100% their job and as a contractor you can’t really speak to what path may be available within the company anyway.

      I’d suggest saying something like this to these optimistic upstarts: “well, in my case and for the people I know in the industry, the path to a senior role was years, maybe decades of experience. You’d have to talk to someone in management or HR here about whether there’s any different route in this company – I don’t know of one.”

  56. Trina*

    I work at a public library that, as a result of some board members that have gone pearl-clutchy over teen books having any mention of s-e-x whatsoever, has to now move a significiant number of YA items to the adult department.

    Our admin and management is awesome and has had our back to the best of their abilities, and we know they’re just as disheartened by this whole situation as front-line staff are, which means this doesn’t rise to the level of job-searching for most of us (so far, anyway).

    My actual question: any advice on how to help keep spirits up among coworkers? Or at least not get bogged down in the gunk. 99% of our patrons love us, our program attendance is amazing, and we’re still doing so many cool, good, helpful things for our community, but so many office conversations lately swirl back to the one big thing that sucks.

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      If you want to fight back on this ALA has really great resources. I confess I am upset on your behalf, as another librarian. However, I have worked at places that did a similar thing and I found the only way to deal with it was to accept it was out of my hands and fight back in the tiny ways I could (with the support of my boss.) For example, can you put some of the “offending books” on display? Around non-sex theme like- Books with Some Other Topic These Happen to Also Touch on. Can you make sure they have clear spine stickers and put a sign in the Teen area directing towards them? For more books you might like check out this sicker in the Adult Fiction. I think the feeling of powerlessness is often what makes people really upset.

    2. Qwerty*

      What is the impact to patrons of moving the books to the adult section? Is it harder for teens to get access to this section? Or is it just that their books are now split between two sections?

      The reason I ask is the teens might not really care, which I hope is a consolation to the staff. As a kid, I loved Mercedes Lackey and had no idea why half the books were in the Adult section. By the time I realized why I was in college and had already finished all her books. And jokes on the parents – if I have to go to the Adult section looking for a book, I’m going to start exploring that section more regularly. So really the board just introduced the teens to a much larger collection of “inappropriate” material! (I get amused when rules like this backfire – maybe you all can be amused at the ineffectiveness too?)

      Probably too late to help your library, but one city I was in split the YA section into YA (middle school) and Teen (high school) to deal with stuff like this that was seen as too adult for a 10/11yr old but seemed too pearl clutchy to hide from a 16/17yr old.

      1. Kimmy Schmidt*

        The fact that they’re split into two (or more) sections, plus it lowers spontaneous discovery. Teens will now have to go looking for a specific title instead of being able to browse a designated area for things that might interest them. Some teens can feel awkward or unsafe in the main library collection, whereas teen collections are usually located in or near teen spaces with designated computers, games, furniture, and other resources. There will be some teens who have your experience of opening a new book world, but they’re likely in the minority. Teens can also be scared to ask questions, so if something was in one spot and now it’s not, they may be less likely to approach a librarian for help. They just won’t access the resource.

        It also takes a ton of staff time and resources to move and shift the books that could be better spent elsewhere. It’s noisy, messy, and disruptive. It undermines the professional competency of the library staff by making it seem like they “made the wrong choice”.

        1. Jessica*

          If your teens feel unsafe in the main stacks, I’d think some of the adult patrons might too–and in any case, that’s really disturbing! Do you have a creepy-patrons problem?

          Can you have security (if your library has security) be closer to the problem area? Better lighting? Change the shelving in any way for better sightlines? Have various library staff walk through more often? This seems like a separate problem that also merits serious attention.

      2. Tuesday*

        I do think it will be harder for kids with really strict parents who are likely to pay attention to where their kids go in the library, but I was the same as you – my mom would just let me wander and gets books from anywhere, especially as a teen.

    3. ferrina*

      Confirm that this is ridiculous, but it’s the rules. Subtly remind them of what they can do- see someone that likes a certain author? “Hey, have you read X? It’s in the adult section- I can help you find it.” Put together main displays that highlights the hidden books. There’s a number of ways that a dedicated work force can quietly enforce the letter of the law while undermining the spirit, some subtle, other methods more overt. You understand their frustration and if they need to leave, but you also hope that they will stay, because these are the kind of people who are conscientious enough to be the support when there is none.

      Honestly, something like this brings out my impish side. “Oh, did I leave that book there? Silly me, I totally forgot it goes in adult now! Gosh, I’m so forgetful these days.”

    4. North Star*

      This stuff really annoys me – specifically the idea some adults have that teenagers are not sexual. Not all teenagers are, but quite a lot of teenagers (even young ones) are very much exploring. I know we don’t like to think of it, because to us they look a bit like children, but we’re being IDIOTS.
      Without the guidance of adults (including YA books) teens miss out on a lot of wisdom we could pass on to them. My main teacher, when it came to how-to-keep-myself-safe-and-empowered-as-a-sexual-female, was Sex and The City, and although that was quite good it would have been better if I’d had a more rounded education!

    5. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Can you put up a lot of signage about how to use the computer to search for books you might be interested in in the library catalog by things like author name or genre? That’s how I figured out it was time to explore both the YA section and the adult section as a tween.

      (In my particular case, I read one of Tanith Lee’s (appropriately shelved) YA books, and asked the library search terminal what other books they had by her. She used the same name for both her actually-YA and her actually-adult fiction, which is less common now, but knowing that I was going in search of a specific book by a known author and that I knew which specific part of the “adult” half of the library to find it in helped my confidence.)

      For your actual question, try to set aside some time and space for specifically looking for positive things as well as some specific time and space for venting about The Big Problem. Don’t ignore that the problem is happening, but acknowledge that it is not the only thing that is happening and to take time to notice both.

  57. Lavender*

    I’ve been struggling with long-running frustration about a team that I work with closely. They provide some valuable insight to my team that we need for our performance, but it doesn’t feel like a mutual relationship. They seem to be black and white thinkers and don’t seem capable of engaging in conversations about how we can get to mutual value (basically, “our way is the right way”).

    I’ve been working with the manager, who is aware of the issue and providing coaching to his team members, but change is slow. I know that my team members are frustrated. I’m trying to balance empathizing, and letting them know I’m addressing the issue in the ways I can, with still encouraging them to keep an open mind and ensure we are able to work productively with this team. Any tips on striking the right balance? What would you want to hear from your manager in this instance?

    1. Cubicle monkey manager*

      I feel like there are times to keep an open mind, and times to draw boundaries. Your team has to be willing to work with this other team, but they don’t have to convince the other team to agree with them, or even enjoy working with them. What helps me most, and what I do for my team, is to have the manager take the burden of escalation. If one of your team members isn’t getting what they need on a project, they shouldn’t have to fight every time to get it – instead they could come to you, you do the communication of “we need X and we are getting Y, please commit to giving us X by deadline” so your team can focus on what they can get done.

    2. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      If you can be an intermediary at all, to help reduce the number of times your team hears “your way is wrong” that could go a long way. Just saying “potential ways to improve” and then listing whatever the other team said, could be valuable. Or even asking the team to rotate who is talking with them.

      Tell them what you are doing, acknowledge where it’s not as much as you/they would like.

  58. Lauren*

    I don’t like my job. I feel like a cog in a machine and expected to conform with templates even if the ask doesn’t fit in with needing a template. Or it pushes real work the client may want further away because i’m expected to use the templates. None of the meat of the work gets done upfront and instead i’m checklisting things that are not very actionable because they’ve shoved things into a 3 different template. So there are times when everything is fine in phase 1, but the issues are all in the other phases that are not assigned yet. I miss using my brain as a consultant and directing the roadmaps vs. do all 18 things in order even if only 4 have a benefit to the client and these other things would help more.

  59. Qwerty*

    I got a really sincere thank you this week from a recruiter for turning them down. Which got me wondering – is anyone using response rates to try to encourage better interactions with recruiters? Recruiters, do you find it helpful when people reply “thanks, but I’m happy at my current job” ? Do you get evaluated on your response rates or just how many positions you fill?

    I’m realizing that recruiters probably have no idea if the lack of response is due to the email not getting read, the recipient not looking for a new job, the recipient being a bad match but would have been open to a better fit job, or if the email was just terrible. Getting a pleasant email from a recruiter is an ego boost and I’d rather receive those than the really pushy or vague ones I usually get.

    1. Lauren*

      I usually ask about salary regardless just to gauge if I should be looking unless it’s such a low entry level position or something completely unrelated to me that it was obvious no one looking at my profile. It helps for the next reach out, when something bigger comes along – they don’t contact you for same level you are at.

    2. T. Boone Pickens*

      I utilize LinkedIn quite a bit for recruiting and use InMails frequently. I always appreciate when a potential candidate lets me know if they aren’t interested. The main reason is I only have a finite amount of InMails to send each month and they are really expensive if you need to purchase additional ones. If a candidate at least responds to my InMail (either positively or negatively) I at least get my InMail credit back. In addition, if a candidate responds back, even in the negative, it allows me to follow up with them to gauge a role that the candidate may be open to discussing.

  60. Crumbs*

    Has anyone ever had their main President/Director leave, get a new one in, things go crazy, and then it gets better? I’m an assistant to the vice president, and ever since our president left and we got a new one, people have lost their minds. This used to be a great place to work, but now it seems like everyone is mean, unhappy and aggressive for no reason.

    It’s been about six months, and tons of people are quitting, but I don’t really want to if it will go back to how it used to be eventually once people get over the change? I can’t tell if this is a permanent culture change or just growing pains. The new Pres is definitely an “I don’t talk to staff or take their opinions into consideration while I make a bunch of changes” type, but most of her changes make sense. Should I just start looking anyway?

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      Do you agree and support what she’s doing? If nothing changed, how long would you stay? I think answering those questions will help you a lot.

    2. Anon for NewPres*

      Why are tons of people quitting if most of the changes make sense? Changing jobs is a big deal and I don’t think a lot of people would do it just because someone had moved their proverbial cheese. Is anything changing about the nature of the org, change of direction etc? Who are the people that are quitting and who are they being replaced with?

      Asking all this because I need more information to have an opinion about this – personally my workplace did have a drastic leadership change that led a lot of people to leaving, and, even though the culprit was terminated, the org was never the same. He’d done too much damage, drove a lot of key people out, led to managers leaving and starting competing companies and hiring others away etc. I’ve been lowkey looking all these years, but no luck this far.

    3. Qwerty*

      On a smaller scale, when a well liked leader leaves, there is inevitable turnover. Change is uncomfortable, even when it is a good change. Discomfort makes people open to new opportunities. Seeing their coworkers leave makes them look elsewhere.

      Do *you* like the new president? You say her changes make sense, so maybe the new style could work for you. I’m guessing there are people who aren’t feeling heard and that bothers them enough to leave, or enough to be grouchy and cause the people around them to leave.

      It’ll never be how it used to be, but that doesn’t mean it’ll stay in this weird state forever. A lot will depend on what culture gets built with the new people who replace all the ones leaving.

    4. Egg*

      Years ago, I wish I’d known that a new boss can change everything and that it might be time to go. I was very stable and happy indeed in my job, and when my old boss said they were leaving I didn’t realise just how much I should strap myself in for a possible bumpy ride. New boss came, he wreaked havoc and then he quit after a couple of months. NEW new boss came, unleashed toxicity, and after a year of trying to problem solve I finally left , with my heart and spirit bashed. I wish, I wish, I WISH I’d left when I was still feeling reasonably good.

      But your circumstances may be different to mine! The new boss(es) in my case were toxic, and perhaps yours isn’t.

  61. reject187*

    Any advice on how to prepare for a one-way video-recorded interview? I blew it last time I had to do one and it’s tripping me up.

    1. irene adler*

      Yeah- I find them difficult to do. No one to talk to so that you can see how you are doing.

      Have in front of you, but out of view of the camera, your resume, the job description, paper and pen for jotting down things. Maybe even a company description or information from their website. Sometimes they ask what you saw or liked about their website. This will help answering that.

      Usually you are given an interview question, followed by a couple of minutes to prepare the response, after which they turn on the camera to record your response. Use that few minutes before the camera goes on to plan out a quick outline or jot down some key words or points you want to use in your response. Then have this to refer to when the camera goes on.

      Prior to the interview, might practice answering typical open-ended interview questions. Talk to a mirror as you do this. The goal is to be comfortable talking to the camera, issuing a concise response and then stopping when you have answered the question. Sometimes the camera makes folks prattle on and on. Not a good look.

      Good luck!

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Sometimes the camera makes folks prattle on and on.

        I can understand how this would be worse than an in-person (or even phone/video) conversation, where you can end your answer and the other person will respond. So prepare yourself some conversational “off-ramps.” A phrase that you can use to signal to yourself and whoever eventually watches the video that “this wraps up my answer to this question.”

  62. Employee’s Boyfriend in 1x1*

    I had a Zoom 1×1 with my remote employee. Nothing sensitive or performance-related, just general catching up on status of projects and discussing priorities.

    During the course of our meeting, it became clear that her boyfriend was in the room with her listening in. He made some comments I think he thought I wouldn’t hear, but I did. I told her I could hear someone else talking and asked what that was, and then it stopped.

    She works out of her large home, so I don’t believe it was a matter of him having nowhere else he could go. It made me uncomfortable, but is it something I actually should address? And if so, what should I say?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I would bring this up. It may embarrass her slightly, but if you come across as non-judgmental about it, just say that it’s not really appropriate going forward for him to be listening in on your meetings.

    2. kiwiii*

      On the team I’m on, it wouldn’t be that strange for a partner to be in the same room as someone while they’re in a meeting. At least two people of 7 share home offices with their spouse.

      If it was something confidential or private, I would highlight ahead of time that you’d prefer she go somewhere she not be overheard. And I think during the meeting, you could have flagged (right away!) that you found it strange that the boyfriend was there. But now, after the face, if it was just that you were surprised … i think you should drop it.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I think the issue here isn’t that the partner is in the room but that he’s making comments about the conversation. If your partner has the good sense to just be in the background and pretend not to hear stuff, there’s usually no problem with it (as long as you aren’t talking about top secret things).

    3. Fluffy Fish*

      I think you did address it at the time and don’t need to address it further unless it happens again.

      They obviously picked up your hint that it was inappropriate because it stopped.

    4. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      It could just be the BF being clueless. But this could also be a red flag for other controlling behavior.

  63. blood orange*

    This is sort of a work-adjacent question about my commute into work. I don’t think I handled this situation very well, and I’m curious what others would have done.

    I drive into work every weekday morning around 9am. Earlier this week, the vehicle behind me flashed their lights, and I started trying to think what they could be doing… did I have a break light out, it couldn’t be my trunk, etc. Then I start to feel like the person is following me…. he (I realize it’s a man now) turns onto the campus where I work, then turns onto my road which is even more unusual, pulls into my parking lot, and parks two spaces away from me. I get out, and he then YELLS AT ME ABOUT MY DRIVING! Now I’m really pretty freaked out. This is the building I work in every day, I’m a woman by myself, my building is on the edge of campus so there are rarely other people around, and I don’t know this man or his intentions. I said something really stupid back to him, and just turned and went into my building while he kept yelling at me. I just wanted to get away.

    I kept looking out my office window (third floor so he can’t know where I am) to see if he was still there. In the evening, I left early so it was still light out. The experience ruined my day, and made me afraid even the next day that he could come back, but thankfully I haven’t seen him since.

    I kind of wish that I had told him off in the moment, but did I do the right thing by just getting away from him? Should I have driven around to lose him once I was pretty sure he was following me? Should I have called campus police?

    1. Well...*

      Yes you absolutely did the right thing! Getting away from him was the best move. Road rage is super dangerous… what if he had had a gun?

      If you wanted more safety, you could have driven to a local police station, that might have scared him off. That depends on whether you find police stations safe places though, so YMMV. You don’t necessarily have to go in, just going into the parking lot might be enough to shake him.