open thread – March 10-11, 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.

{ 1,114 comments… read them below }

  1. Mischa*

    I am curious to hear from individuals who have either returned to meeting expectations or even flourishing following a period of low performance.

    Over the last few months, I’ve been dealing with some serious mental health issues plus challenges associated with neurodivergence (I’m doing much better now). My employer knows that I am dealing with some health issues, but I have withheld the details from them. I knew there was a chance my performance could suffer during this period, so I asked for feedback on my performance regularly (for context, I report to one person, but submit work product to multiple high-level individuals). I either heard nothing or that everything was fine. So I carried on as usual.

    But my performance wasn’t fine. At my annual review last week, I heard that my performance has not been meeting expectations for months now, but no one said anything because they were worried about me. While I appreciate the good intentions, I’m very frustrated because withholding a person’s poor performance for months isn’t kind, in my opinion—even if that person is dealing with significant personal issues. To add to the frustration, I haven’t gotten any specific, objective feedback, just that my work isn’t good. I’m pressing for more concrete feedback because I genuinely do want to improve and even though my supervisors haven’t handled this in the best way, they are good people who are committed to helping me. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t also actively job searching (unfortunately, that’s not going great at the moment).

    For now, my job is safe and I am not facing a PIP (yet), but I’m demoralized and frustrated and humiliated. So if you have stories on how you or a colleague bounced back, please share!

    1. Freya*

      As an HR manager, I tell all of my managers that a disciplinary meeting, let alone an annual performance review, should not be the first time someone is hearing about a performance issue.

      You were communicative about your issues and continuously asked for feedback to see if you needed to adjust. This is very bad form of them to spring this on you now, especially as it will affect your pay for the next year.

      I would push back on your supervisor for this, if at all possible.

      1. Mischa*

        I am. It will not affect my pay, thankfully, but it could possibly affect a small end of the year merit bonus (less than $500).

      2. Lizzie*

        And this is exactly what happened to me! I had been moved to a different part of my department, under new managers. As far as I knew, things were going well, as NO ONE had ever mentioned any performance issues. well, then I had my annual review, and my two bosses basically ganged up on me, told me that I had either not been doing things I should have been doing, but not TOLD I was supposed to be doing them, OR things I was doing I wasn’t doing correctly. I w as blindsided.

        I was put on a PIP, but thankfully I managed to do everything on there and keep my job. I’m still in the same job, but no longer work for the one boss, and my same immediate boss and I have learned to work together.

        i also found out, way later, that it was our VP who, for whatever reason s I had no direct contact with her, wanted me out. So my bosses boss went along with her, but my immediate boss pushed back a bit as he didn’t think it was fair. So I had that going for me, but even though it was almost 20 years ago, it still irks me to think about it.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      I’ve been there. I bounced back just fine. It’s doable. I’m sorry they are not being transparent with you.

      Can you come up with your own benchmarks? Be super transparent about your time (track which projects you work on each hour). Then you can go back to supervisor with “I did 12 TPS reports in an afternoon, none of which failed standards, is this a good amount or should I be aiming higher? How much higher?” and open the discussion that way. You can also think of this as documenting your job for when you quit for new awesome job (a little easier mentally).

      If it’s making errors that have to be fixed, come up with ways you are going to block those errors and be more diligent. “I heard my performance wasn’t where you’d like it to be, I know I have had more errors recently, so I figured that’s one area to improve and I am going to be doing so by (fixes).” Your fixes might be using the delay send so you get a minute to proofread emails, or a better way of logging samples etc.

      Something to remember too, if your work was fine before life events created stress, you’re going to be fine after too. It’s not you forget how to do job tasks, it’s that your brain needed the extra processing power for other stuff.

    3. Morning Coffee*

      This is the worst. I’m so sorry you are going through this.

      I highly agree with DisneyChannelThis below. A big +1 on all that from me.

      I have been on a PIP before, and I have seen peers get put on a PIP. There’s one big difference between success and non-success on a PIP. Does your boss and others want you to be ok? If the answer is yes, I saw people bounce back and be better than ever. After all, the org was rooting for them! But if people are just nasty, then you could walk on water and they’d complain you couldn’t swim, so to speak.

      Definitely sounds to me like the folks in your company aren’t nasty.

      You’re right: it isn’t very professional for them to withhold feedback and then to deliver ambiguous feedback. Holding your boss accountable to specifics and setting some of your own benchmarks will likely help you out a lot- not just your performance but helping you feel good about your performance as well. Good luck!

    4. Sloanicota*

      This is so confusing because you literally can’t do anything to address it until you understand better where the problem is. Like, is it that your work products do not meet the minimum standard, or is it that you don’t present as open and engaged during interactions, or what?? I have seen coworker struggle for each of these reasons and more and there’s literally no point trying to address one thing if the problem is something else. In your situation I believe the problem is more specific but they need to be more specific with you. If they can’t, then that’s when people start feeling paranoid that there’s some ableism or other -ism going on. I’m sorry that you’re dealing with this.

      1. Mischa*

        Exactly. I have some areas where I, would like to improve, but until I get objective, clear feedback, I’m basically trying to read their minds and guess at what needs to change.

    5. MurpMaureep*

      I 100% agree with Freya that this was handled very poorly from an HR perspective and you might consider running this by an HR rep in addition to your actual management/leadership.

      You don’t say if HR has been involved, but they should be aware of the way a potential performance issue was addressed, because your higher ups could use coaching. And it is compounded by the medical/health aspect. As I always say, even if you cynically see HR as protecting the interests of the company, this opens them up to some potential liability, especially if any disciplinary action was taken.

    6. anonymous brain*

      I’m in the middle of this and sending solidarity. I was fired, got another job but then was laid off a few months later. Still in the messy middle.

    7. JSPA*

      I’m wondering how you asked for feedback.

      “How am I doing” (for example) is more commonly used to solicit upbeat, cheery support, than to (literally) ask for feedback. And, “I’m worried about X” (irritatingly) can (likewise) also be heard as, “please do some cheerleading about my X skills.”

      If you gave them a substantive, detailed request, please ignore this! But if not, now you know that you may have to go for the substantive, detailed request.

      Looking for other jobs is never a terrible idea, especially if one reading of the situtation may be, “they don’t really see a path from where I am now, to where they’d need me to be, which is why they’re not able to give useful feedback.” But it might clear the air to bring that up (as in, at least you will know where you stand).

      However, while there are a few jobs where “reading the room” or “being perceptive about one’s own performance” is a bona fide requirement of the job, there are far more situations where people vaguely expect that sort of ability and activity–even knowing you’re neurodivergent–despite how they would never expect a blind person to just “read the street sign.”

      If they’re prioritizing, “I don’t want to feel awkward, spelling it out” over “needs to have that feedback spelled out to function well in the workplace,” then they’re indeed choosing to be polite, over being either kind or effective.

      But if they chose to wait until you seemed to be more functional, to give you the feedback, because they could see you were fragile…and if they’re now willing to give you the space and time to get back on track…then that’s actually kind, even if it’s leaving you feeling retrospectively ashamed of having been underperforming, or feeling misled, or feeling irate about having gotten comfortable in what turns out to be a mediocre groove.

      They’re allowed to prioritize “not slamming someone while they’re down,” and they’re allowed to not be aware how hard it can be, once you’ve got a routine down, to break that routine.

      Which is to say, you can ask people to give you what you feel you need. But you can’t force them to do it, if it feels cruel and unusual to them. (Furthermore, as we don’t have a time machine, we have no way to know whether the negative feedback, if delivered promptly, would have produced a quick and painless pivot, or if it would have been the straw that broke your back.)

    8. Emmy Noether*

      I had a something like that happen when I did my PhD (which I did in a company, so I had both a supervisor there, and academic supervisors). I had some mental health struggles and got really behind on my work.

      What saved me, in retrospect, was that my supervisors were awesome. They talked to me honestly (to be frank, I wanted the ground to swallow me during that conversation, but it did help), and then started supervising more closely, setting more intermediate stage deadlines where I had to show them my work. They then pulled me through my writing phase with weekly editing meetings and regular chapter delivery deadlines. And they were so nice about it all! I am still so, so grateful.

      I still have those tendencies, but sufficiently under control that subsequent bosses are happy with me.

      So, my personal recommendation is you need support and some regular accountability. If you’re struggling with procrastination, like me, you need intermediate deadlines. If you’re struggling with quality, ask for a meeting where you go through one piece of work specifically and get it critiqued. As this help doesn’t seem forthcoming on its own, try asking for these things specifically, not general feedback. It’s really hard to pull oneself up by one’s own bootstraps, you need your managers to manage you.

  2. Moonlight*

    Can anyone recommend DEI training? I’ve been trying to find a individual providers of DEI training and mg web searches only reveal large organizations (like universities) with programs that cost thousands of dollars. I’m seeking the kind of training that might be good for l managers or HR professionals who want to be able to do inclusion initiatives on their teams or with the org more broadly.

    1. ZSD*

      It might help to know where you’re located. For example, I’ve had training from a small DC-based organization. If you give us a state or region, someone might know of a provider in your area.

    2. Justin*

      As already commented, do you want in-person or virtual (which opens up more possibilities), how long, how extensive, etc.

      My point is make a very very specific list of what you need and then you should be able to find it.

      1. Moonlight*

        Preferably virtual, range of prices but ideally a selection of ones that are $150 or less.

        1. Gerry Kaey*

          If you want quality DEI training that’s not exploiting the people facilitating, you’re going to need a much bigger budget. That’s like… an insultingly low amount.

          1. Moonlight*

            I’m not withholding secret money though, which is literally my entire problem. If I had $1000, I would pay it. Hence my asking for things that might be cheap (like for all I know people have prerecorded webinars that I can do or something).

            1. BRR*

              LinkedIn learning offers a free trial month. I’ve had to watch some prerecorded DEI presentations on there.

            2. Gerry Kaey*

              Then you’re gunna need to be super specific about what you actually want the benefits to be for people taking the training. DEI is a *massive* field, and “inclusion initiatives” is very vague, so I’d recommend doing some more thinking about the very specific learnings you want people to get. Do you want resources about setting up employee resource groups? Anti bias training in regards to hiring practices? Creating a culture whre people can openly discuss areas of improvement for how marginalized employees are treated?

              A general 45 minute “intro to DEI” isn’t going to cover what you need to actually apply DEI work well and with nuance (just like how an intro to PR webinar wont give you what you need to start doing meaningful PR work), and it’s frustrating when people approach DEI work as a tack-on/a way to tick a box as opposed to an intentional, integrates business strategy.

            3. Flora*

              You can’t afford decent DEI training, and poor DEI training does more harm than good. You might have to wait until you can afford to get what you need.

    3. Rosyglasses*

      For myself and my HR coordinator, we took the class through University of Florida, MUMA School of Business. We were lucky to be the beta cohort for free, but I still think they have a very affordable and deep program. It is virtual, so it wouldn’t be tailored to your business, but it was exceptionally well done.

      For our leadership team and optional training for staff, we use Traliant DEI training suite. It’s $25 for a pack of 6 courses that range from Microagressions, Religion in the Workplace, Unconscious Bias, Diversity Equity and Inclusion at Work, etc. Their videos are well done and affordable.

      1. Lumos*

        For anyone who might google this, The Muma college of business is University of South Florida. Google should return the right results, but just in case. I attended USF and my husband has taken their DEI courses. He said they were great and he really learned a lot.

        1. Rosyglasses*

          Thank you! I’m a west coaster and should have registered that there was a regular florida one and a south florida one :P

      2. Whatever*

        I was coming to recomment the USF, MUMA course as well. I did the free version of it a few years ago and learned a ton, it was so valuable. I recommend having some small groups to discuss the virtual content afterwards. I did the course with a few very close colleagues and we had some amazing discussions afterwards that really helped it all sink in.

    4. Rex Libris*

      A number of leadership and management training consultants have started offering DEI instruction. I’d search for those in your general area, and contact them to see if they offer anything.

      1. Moonlight*

        How do you find these? I’ve been struggling to get past the big places, like universities, crowding out smaller providers.

        1. Rosyglasses*

          You might try LinkedIN for connecting with people that are in that space and even seeking out recommendations from those bigger organizations.

      2. Rex Libris*

        LinkedIn is a good idea. I also found some just by searching “leadership management consulting classes” on DuckDuckGo. You might also try online course platforms like Coursera, Gale Classes or Universal Class. Some platforms are often available free through a local library. Good luck!

    5. LCS*

      I ran the I&D group at our site for a few years, have been an active member for many more than that, and have attended a lot of virtual and in person trainings. I am also in Canada. The best in-person presenter I’ve seen (and session feedback was excellent generally) was from Lionel Laroche. He would be likely well above your budget unless he is in the same city but he’s got lots on YouTube that you can check out. When I faced budget constraints we’d sometimes do a group watching of a video or training (his and others) and then open it up for a discussion. Not quite the same as personalized training but doing it this way can be free or close to it (got to have donuts if people are giving up a lunch hour to attend!) and sparked some really good discussion and connection.

    6. CV*

      Have you checked out the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion ? They have some free guides and information, and fairly low-cost webinars. ccdi dot ca

      1. CV*

        Oh, and google GDEIB for the Global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Benchmarks for a really interesting framework on how to integrate DEI from an organizational standpoint. Not sure if their report/materials has a cost attached or not.

    7. Somehow_I_Manage*

      My organization made the mistake of insourcing an implicit bias training to a team that really wasn’t up to it (although they thought they were). We’re correcting course this year and going with an outside group. To some extent, I’d just say, make sure whoever you go with gets it right, and be selective. In this case nothing is better than doing it badly.

    8. mreasy*

      Right To Be (formerly Hollaback) is a great org that does meaningful training for businesses.

      1. anonymous potato*

        Only anonymous because I don’t like sharing my location, but check out Korsi Consulting.

    9. Ontariariario*

      The government has an informative course open to everyone. Link in the reply but if it doesn’t get posted then search for GBA Plus course.

    10. Numbat*

      This might not be quite right for you but I wanted to mention that some community organisations run “human library” events that give people the chance to hear from people from marginalised communities. I think it can be a good starting point to build the will to do more DEI initiatives.

  3. KatKatKatKat*

    What’s your office K-cup custom: Do you toss out your own K-cup after use or do you toss out the K-cup of the person who used the Keurig before you? (I know K-cups are bad for the environment – it’s the only coffee option my company offers)

    1. Moonlight*

      I think you throw away your own K-cup. I think it’s rude to expect others to throw it away for you. Conversely, I wouldn’t be that upset if someone else didn’t hold the same expectation and left theirs behind (it could’ve been an oversight too, versus laziness)

    2. GreenShoes*

      Ooooooo… kcup culture. I’ve been the person who spends time in both. My main office was a leave the kcup in after you make your coffee and throw away the person’s before you before you make yours. And I’ve spent time in the throw your own away after making your cup.

      I’m sure I was the topic of water cooler discussion as I’m sure I forgot to toss my own a few times. Luckily the fact that there wasn’t one before I made my cup helped to remind me I wasn’t in the other office.

    3. Simon (he/him)*

      Personally I get a little annoyed when the person before me leaves their empty K-cup in the machine, but I realize that’s petty and not a big deal at all, lol. I try to throw mine away before I leave the break room as a courtesy to the next person coming in

      1. Glazed Donut*

        Same. I used to work with someone who not only left the cup in the machine, but also left behind her used stirrer stick (on a napkin or plate) — I presume in case someone else wanted to use it? She was a one-cup lady, so I don’t think SHE planned on using it again.
        I tried to see it as a kindness gesture even though I usually threw both the kcup and the stick away. And refilled the water tank :)

    4. The Dude Abides*

      IMO, you should pitch the cup you use. I compare it to using the microwave – if you use the machine, clean up your own mess.

      When I used a K-Cup machine in the office, I used to have my own re-usable pod. The paper filters and canister of grounds was cheaper in the long run.

      1. On Fire*

        Someone I work with constantly stops the microwave before it finishes and then doesn’t clear the time. It’s a little thing but bugs me. Same person has more than once left the microwave turntable dislodged and sitting there at an angle.
        We’re not a K-cup office, but people leaving them behind would grind my gears.

    5. Not a SuPURRvisor*

      I toss my own but someone who gets there before me leaves theirs in the machine and it is INFURIATING.

      I feel the same way about the lint trap in communal dryers.

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

      We have a plate for used K-cups should someone pull it out to cool down before tossing. We have reusable k-cups as well. Typically, everyone removes their own k-cup. Our ‘house’ has 10 staff who rotate through the week so it’s rather benign. Ideally you’d remove your own cup, throw it away later on, clean the reusable as well.

    7. Lexi Vipond*

      My ex-boss thought you should always put more water in the kettle for the person coming after you. I thought – and still think – that you should fill the kettle for yourself, and let the next person sort out the amount of water they need (you don’t want to make them wait for a whole cold kettle to boil for one cup!). I assume this is the same thing in a different context :D

      1. Isben Takes Tea*

        I would argue it’s not, because in filling the kettle, you are preparing something for the next person to use as a courtesy (even, as you argue, if it’s inefficient or not desired).

        Whereas with k-cups, you’re leaving your trash for another person to clean up after. (I think it would be comparable to leave a fresh cup in the machine, which would be ineffective for the reasons you describe.)

    8. Nynaeve*

      I am team leave it for next person because I don’t want anyone burning themselves. I worked somewhere that posted the “please dispose of your own when you’re done” expectation and then after a series of incident reports of people burning their fingers trying to immeiately remove theirs, changed it to hopefully prevent some of that. It was when Keurigs were new, so we were all just figuring it out.

      There was also at least one person who would just make another cup with whatever was left behind before him, which was weird, but he was vocally in favor of leaving it for the next person to do with as they will, also.

    9. Friday Person*

      As far as I can tell, our machine just tosses the old ones automatically when you open it to insert a new one but now I’m very slightly paranoid I’ve been committing some sort of caffeine-based faux pas.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Ours dump the old pod into a bin that has to be emptied every so often. I do empty it if I’m about to use it and get that message.

        Hilariously, we used to have a recycling box set up that you dumped the pods into, they were supposed to be sent to a special recycler when full. But it attracted flies, apparently, and got nixed because of that.

      2. Velociraptor Attack*

        If you use a Keurig and every time you open it, it’s empty then yeah, someone is probably emptying it. I could be wrong but I don’t think they have Keurigs that dispose of their own k-cups…

        1. Velociraptor Attack*

          As shown above, I am happily wrong, I’ve never encountered one that dumps it in a bin on its own!

        2. AngelicGamer (she/her)*

          Nespresso brand does that, I believe. I use an off-brand Keurig that’s got a lip / tiny handle you can hold to pull out the k-cup container and toss it into the trash so you don’t burn your fingers. It’s wonky in other ways – if you press the 10 cup, you’ll only get an 8 – but at least it’s not leaking. :)

    10. Not Elizabeth*

      I think people *should* toss their own; it’s an instance of Judge John Hodgman’s rule to be mindful of the work you leave for others. I toss my own, but I suspect I’m the only one because almost invariably, there’s one already in the machine. So I toss it, take a deep breath, and consider that I probably have annoying habits too.

    11. Qwerty*

      Clean up after yourself.

      Also, it is more sanitary to take the wet used cup out right away. We’ve had things get gross when the coffee machines weren’t emptied before a long weekend or long period of time when no one used the machine (like when everyone took off between xmas and NY or worked remote)

      1. A Beth*

        This is exactly why I take mine out and get frustrated when someone else leaves one in. Especially with hybrid schedules, I think there can be days between uses even during the workweek. Yuck!

    12. Solokid*

      I haven’t used a Kcup in years but I always left it in (and always arrived to others being left in there). I assumed they were just too hot to touch immediately.

      TBH I actually preferred knowing what was brewed before me. I drink tea and would only do a water rinse if I saw a coffee Kcup in there (it does change the flavor for me if I dont do a water run).

    13. Candy*

      K-cups are recyclable. Or they are at least at our office here in Canada. The coffee grinds get tapped in the compost and the cup in the mixed recycling.

      Because the cup is too hot to pick up and tap out the grinds immediately after using, everyone in our office is in the habit of recycling the cup from the person before them instead of their own.

    14. sundae funday*

      No one at my office throws their own away… and I always forget to as well! I know it’s best to throw them away yourself, because if you’re the last one to use the coffee machine on a Friday, then those wet coffee grounds are just sitting in the machine all weekend, which isn’t super hygienic.

      But yeah… I never remember lol

    15. full kuppa*

      Wow, nobody here ever throws out their own cup; I toss the old one when I put in mine, and I assume everyone else does the same. It’s never been a big deal from my perspective. Then, too, nobody here uses refillables, and I only use the Keurig a few times a year anyway.

    16. This Old House*

      I never realized these were options! It’s common sense to me to throw out your own when you’re done, and I always assumed that the ones I found left in the machine had just been forgotten. I mean, I can’t swear I’ve never forgotten mine . . .

      But ours is not an office where we use the Keurig a lot, so leaving yours for the next person could mean leaving it for quite some time, and that just seems icky.

    17. merida*

      Someone on my team has created a third option – take your own K cup out of the machine, but leave it on the counter rather than toss it. >_<

    18. AcademiaNut*

      How frequently is the Keurig used, and is someone designated to remove cups at the end of the day?

      If it’s being used every 15 minutes, it makes more sense to remove the now cool cup before making your own coffee. If a used k-cup is going to sit there over a weekend, it’s better to make sure the Keurig isn’t loaded with moldy cups.

    19. Semi-retired admin*

      I used a reusable/refillable cup and took it out as soon as my coffee was ready.

    20. Who Plays Backgammon?*

      We have (facetiously) threatened to deny coffee to those miscreants who don’t remove their own empty k-cup after making their coffee. Seems to work.

  4. Moonlight*

    I applied for a job at a local college (I am being specific in case academia = relevant) in the 2nd to last week of February. They then reposted the exact same job ad while I was out of town so now that I’m back I can see it listed again. I know it’s the same because the specifics of the job ad would make it unlikely to be them being like “oh actually we need a 2nd receptionist” – it’s clear it’s the same job ad (codes, specialization of job, contract dates, that sort of thing). I don’t know if they reposted it because they’re hiring several people and therefore maybe they have SOME candidates they’d interview but need more to have a strong pool for 2-3 staff, or if they felt the whole OG pool was a dud. I applied again this week because I want the job and I know I’m very well qualified and maybe just I didn’t say what they wanted on the cover letter during round 1. A few things 1) I’m applying for other jobs, so I’m not hinging my future on this sole job – I know that’s classic AAM advice, so rest assured I’m not hinting my future on this 2) I updated my cover letter and resume before applying again 3) there was no way to email someone to say I’m still interested from the OG posting; the only way to register my interest is reapplying and I’m not interested in hoping they still have my 1st application. All that said, my internet search made it sound like reapplying to a reposted job might be kind of futile because it might be that they ruled me out already, but is unlikely to be actively bad because there are loads of reasons to repost that don’t necessarily rule me out, especially I tried to improve my resume/cover. I’m wondering if, in the future, I should handle this differently.

    1. Alex*

      I think the most likely explanation is that they have some kind of automatic repost going on. I wouldn’t read too much into it.

      1. Cherry Ames*

        Agreed, it could be a re-posting either automatic or an attempt to obtain more applicants. But Academic moves fairly slowly in hiring processes, so have patience, no need to do anything, and you may hear something back on it. Good luck!

      2. Marmalade*

        I agree – or they might not have gotten enough people who applied to it to be allowed to move forward. I wouldn’t read anything into an academic search being extended, even for a support role. You also probably physically would be unable to apply if it is truly the same posting with the same job code.

      3. Siege*

        The last time I was in academia, they reposted my job three times while I was in it because someone didn’t turn off the automatic repost. I wouldn’t worry that it’s been reposted, academia is notoriously slow for hiring.

      4. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

        My institution will automatically repost positions after a certain period of time, regardless of the number of applications that come in. So long as it’s still open for applications, it’s going to get reposted.

    2. Didi*

      A lot of college application processes are Byzantine, especially if the college is heavily unionized. There’s no harm in applying again, but before you do, read over all the directions and the job description to be sure you’re hitting all the right points and using all the right keywords.

    3. CheeryO*

      I think it’s fine to re-apply! I’ve seen too many oopsies in state government hiring to fully trust the more rigid/bureaucratic hiring processes. They might just want more candidates, or there could have been some sort of administrative issue with the first posting. I highly doubt they will look down on you for applying to both. In the future, I don’t think it’s necessary to update your cover letter and resume when the gap between postings is so short. I’d keep it simple and use the same documents to prevent any confusion on their end.

    4. Susan*

      I think you’re fine. A lot of companies have weird policies and practices about posting jobs that are not obvious to applicants. I am a hiring manager and my company has deadlines for every step of the process, and in some cases, if I miss a deadline, I have to repost the position. In those cases, the original applicants would still be considered, but it wouldn’t count against anyone who reapplied (in fact, I probably wouldn’t even know because HR pre-screens the candidates before sending them to me). There have also been cases where we have reopened a posting for a specific applicant (say, someone referred by a current employee who was not aware of the posting before it closed), so that could be why the same posting was reopened.

    5. I'm Just Here for the Cats!!*

      I work for a college as an admin assistant and have been on many hiring committees. There could be several reasons why there was repost.

      1. A different department with the same duties is hiring
      2. the first round did not have a lot of candidates and there needs to be X amount of candidates before they can continue with interviewing
      3. They thought they had someone lined up and something fell through so they have to repost.
      4. The needed more time so they reposted so that it would be more current/at the top of the list
      5. Something changed, like the hiring committee or director
      6. Any other bureaucratic nonsense that comes with working in a college (especially a state college)
      I think you were ok with applying again. They may even have separate application pools and might not see that you applied before. If you do get any contact from them you could also mention your first application.

      you say there is no contact information which I find odd. Does the listing say who the hiring manager is? You could possibly do some sleuthing on the college website and find out an email for HR.

      Good luck!

      1. Moonlight*

        It doesn’t say who the hiring manager is. Theoretically I think I could have found an HR email… what would I even have said if I did though? If I said “hi I applied for this job and noticed it’s been reposted. I’m still interested in the role. Do I need to apply again?”, would that work?

    6. Annika*

      I work at a state university. We reopen/extend positions if we don’t have enough applicants. Usually, ours will say don’t apply if you applied already. As for what to put in the cover letter, address each job requirement specifically and show how you have that knowledge/experience.

    7. Meowmmy*

      I have participcated hiring committees in college departments.

      Possibilities:
      1) You are on the maybe list. They are looking to expand their candidate pool before starting to schedule interviews, but they have not ruled you out yet.
      2) Committee members had to pivot to other responsibilities, like planning for open houses or graduation. It’s a busy time of year for student recruiting and academic departments, alike.
      3) They are slow as molasses at making any kind of decision

      FWIW, I would never touch higher ed again with a ten foot pole. I hope you hear back from them soon, either way!

      1. Artemesia*

        I have also seen that people who are doing a job temporarily are actually disadvantaged in a hiring process; they are seen as convenient and local rather than the high powered star they were hoping to attract. We used to have people work as adjuncts hopping to be hired for full time slots — I don’t recall a single one who ever was hired in a tenure track post. The very fact of being an adjunct worked against them being taken seriously for a permanent hire although occasionally one would be hired for a full time contract non-tenure position. If you have to work adjunct or contract, you were considered not the kind of competitive applicant they wanted for a tenure track position.

        1. linger*

          My (non-US) institution was refreshingly open with contract hires, from the outset, about what was necessary for tenure.
          There were five basic requirements, of which at least three had to be met by contractees, and at least four by tenured staff, and all five by full professors.
          These were: a doctorate degree in hand (contractees needed at least a master’s degree); at least 3 refereed academic publications; at least a full year of university-level teaching experience; documented native-level English proficiency; and communicative proficiency in the local language.
          We had about 20 contract hires over as many years. Almost everybody who met the tenure requirements by the end of their contract was ultimately able to get a tenured position somewhere — though relatively few at the same institution, as the real limiting factors were that tenured positions (i) came up infrequently and (ii) had to be made open to external candidates.

      2. Former academic*

        At my old institution (small state school in US), HR had to review and certify the pool before we could interview anyone (which involved reviewing whether applicants had all qualifications listed as “essential” in the ad, as well as determining if the pool was sufficiently diverse). Listings had to stay up until the date specified as “applications must be received by” or until position was filled with a signed offer if the ad didn’t specify that. In short, Byzantine. I would not apply twice to the same position, as it would be really confusing in most hiring contexts I’ve been part of to get 2 totally different applications from the same person.

    8. Babs*

      I’ve working at a public university for most of my career (as staff not faculty) and I’ve found that understanding how the application process works can make all the difference. I’m sure every university is different but at my university we are required to assess all applicants using a rubric. We indicate whether the applicant does not meet, meets, or exceeds the job requirements.
      What that means in practice is that if you want to get enough points to get an interview, you MUST address each item in the required job duties. Does the job posting indicate you need to have excellent customer service skills – then spell that out explicitly. If it says you must have computer skills, make sure you include that somewhere in your application. If you don’t say you have a particular skill, I can’t give you points for it – even if I suspect that you do actually have that skill.

    9. Random Academic Cog*

      Our new system won’t allow a second application from the same person, but we also have multiple jobs with the same position description (PD). HR can be notoriously difficult to approve PDs because something doesn’t exactly match the level of responsibility. We don’t get much assistance with figuring out how to write them, so it’s common for my colleagues to use vague duties, recycle them, and decide what each means in reality on a case by case basis.

  5. Samantha P*

    Any tips for going through your annual review process and goal setting when you have a micromanaging and incompetent manager, on top of an incompetent upper management team?

    I’ve been in my position for 3 years. We were acquired last year and pretty much everyone from my old company quit. My new boss is way unqualified in both people management skills and technical skills, but his boss and the rest of the management team are also incompetent and don’t understand our brands and products. I’m meeting with my boss next week to go over goal setting. Before the acquisition I loved my job; I had autonomy, I presented weekly performance to the management team and was trusted. And we were able to meet our forecasted budget goals. Since he joined the company, my boss has taken over my, and my other teammates’, roles. Instead of us, he’s now the one presenting to leadership. He controls everything, I have to run everything by him before doing anything. Last year I actually told him how I was interested in llama grooming, which at the time he said he would try to loop me into llama grooming projects…but he hasn’t at all. I also can’t get promoted either (to a Sr. title), I’ve asked and no one can tell me what the difference would be. I could try to ask for more autonomy, but he’s such an insecure control freak, I don’t see him reacting well to that. Since his micromanagement, we haven’t been hitting our budget goals, but he and the management team aren’t questioning why we’re not hitting our numbers when we were able to before.

    And even if I get more responsibility and get to interact with leadership more, I don’t know if my situation would improve because they just don’t know what they are doing. All the stuff on my resume is from pre-acquisition anyway. I’ve been trying since September to leave, but haven’t found a job that’s been a good fit, it’s very discouraging. I don’t know what to do.

    1. Moonlight*

      I think there’s 3-4 solutions

      1) the most straightforward; leave. Get a new job.

      2) talk to your boss, let him know your concerns and what you think possible solutions are – this is more systemic (like “I’ve noticed were not hitting our standards and things like X and Y might help the team”)

      3) make up your own goals and just try to meet stuff on your own – this is why I think you need 4 because I get that I work in a weird situation where I could still excel in my job because I’m an independent contributor and don’t necessarily rely on management being good (it helps, but I could overcome it…)

      4) tell your boss you want X Y and Z to be your goals and how you intend to accomplish it, meet their goals, etc but that you need A B and C to succeed – sort of 2 & 3 combined

    2. UberFrustrated*

      Do you work at my company? This is pretty much my same situation, too. ☹️

      Unfortunately I don’t have any suggestions, but will be following this for ideas.

      1. Spicey Meatball*

        This totally sounds like one of my former employers. I eventually left without anything lined up. I had been actively looking for a new job, but it just got that bad. My sympathies. I wish I had more practical advice. It sounds like you are doing what you really need to do, which is look for another job.

      2. Charlotte Lucas*

        Mine, too! I have better leadership & am trying to figure out how to address the situation with them.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Unfortunately, I overall love the work, the mission, & most of my coworkers. So I am not planning to leave but move within the organization.

    3. Ellis Bell*

      I sympathize with this as I’ve been in similar situations. Since your plan is to leave, I wouldn’t expect much from the annual review process and I wouldn’t piss him off to no avail since if all goes to plan he won’t be your manager but he’ll be a possible reference. I think I might consider asking for one very specific or small piece of autonomy; it doesn’t sound like he’d be happy giving you autonomy in general as he doesn’t have the skills to assess from a distance. Maybe ask what steps he’d like you to take if you were to present to management one time as part of your development in the new set up. Or raise the llama grooming again since he agreed initially. But I think overall, don’t expect much and keep on the job hunt.

    4. Morning Coffee*

      I’ve been in your shoes before, many times actually. The best thing to do is to leave. My perspective on my job was that so much would have to change before I would be happy that it just seemed impossible to get back to the job I love.

      To be fair, I’ve also been the incompetent boss. Here’s the good thing: I can change! But even if I met your expectations, there’s some incompetency even above me. That’s going to be even harder to come around.

    5. JSPA*

      sounds like the annual review is “deck chairs on the titanic” at this point. Stay, if you need the guaranteed paycheck for a while longer, without expecting change for the better, or input or autonomy; otherwise, maybe redirect your annual review effort into applying to a wider range of jobs that might offer the variety and growth you crave, whether or not they’re a long-term fit?

    6. LondonLady*

      Hello there

      I’ve had a similar situations, they can work out OK or not, but you need to allow for some teething problems.

      Years ago, my employer merged with an industry rival and it was like moving in with your stepfamily. We all had to adjust to new ways of working, some processes from company A, some from company B, some new, not all good! Not everyone stayed the course but management worked hard to keep us all informed, there were lots of forums to raise issues, they were good at fixing minor gripes promptly and it worked out OK. Lesson: don’t expect first few months to be easy but be constructive, be the change you want to see, etc etc

      Experience no 2 was not so happy. A few years later, I’m working for a small expert consultancy in a niche policy field. Long-standing boss left, they were very well known, busy with lots of outside bodies, they were personally confident in their role & ours, shared out interesting projects and gave us a large degree of trust & autonomy: it was brilliant. New boss was learning who we are and what we do, so micromanaged at first which I accepted as part of their process, and tried not to unfairly compare them to old boss.

      At first I worked positively with new boss, asking them to share their priorities and vision of what they wanted from us and from me specifically over the next few months.
      We ran into problems when they insisted that nothing went out without their sign off which created a terrible bottle neck. I tried to be constructive “how can we make this work so that you are happy but we don’t miss external deadlines that we don’t have power to move?” type discussions, but in the end my patience ran out before their confidence grew and I got another job.

      In the end new boss proved impossible to work with, they took on all the interesting outside engagement roles that we’d previously shared out, leaving us with the dull desk job bits, and developed a toxic combo of micromanagement & frequent absence, and gaslighted us when we complained. All my team left within the year. It was not good.

      So tldr – I’d give new boss/new setup a bit of tolerance at the start while they get to know you, be positive about engaging with them to map out a shared set of goals and ways of working to achieve them. Set yourself some goals and milestones and if it’s not working after 6 months or so, start planning your exit strategy. After a year in the new regime, either it’s good or you’ve gone.

  6. Sloanicota*

    I have a four day workweek at my new job, and I’m increasingly hearing about this as the new aspirational work trend the way telework used to be. I do not work 4 ten hour days, we’ve just made 32 hours FT. Do others see this as the way of the future?

    1. Loopy*

      I desperately want to move to a four day work week. I don’t see my area being particularly keen (government contracting) but gosh it would be a dream for work life balance (currently I’m actually working 45 hours so 32 would be an even bigger improvement for me personally).

    2. Moonlight*

      I would be over the moon if this aspiration did become the new norm without sacrificing salaries in the process.

      1. Be kind, rewind*

        Agreed! As it, in my current salaried position, I’m only able to get 30-38 hours in of solid, productive work (including meetings). It would be nice to have that done in 4 days instead of 5.

      2. Just a different redhead*

        Heck, I would be able to sacrifice a little bit of salary for the health tradeoff, though yeah ideally not with the current economic situation… My company’d never go for that though. (Higher-up was recently bringing up making working on weekends normal – he was shot down, but seriously.)

    3. OtterB*

      I would love this. Maybe it will happen more broadly? Depends on the type of work, of course: it works for my computer-based analysis but might be harder for anything that needs coverage.

      1. I'm Just Here for the Cats!!*

        Thats my thought too. There’s going to be things like mental and physical health practices, especially small groups or higher ed health centers like where i work where there is going to be an expectation of being available M-F and people are already at their max capasity for clients. If the norm was now 32hours instead of 40 its going to make people wait more and burn out fast.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Serious question, but what if the 32 hour jobs paid less but there were more of them for coverage? The difficulty I think is that there’s lots of base start-up expenses in a new position beyond the salary, so even two people making 30K is not the same on the books of the business as one person making 60K.

          1. Gyne*

            The issue is you can’t quickly just train up more physicians. The residency training spots are capped at the federal level and it’s not so easy to even create more residency positions if you wanted to – especially for the procedural specialties – there are minimum numbers of procedures that a resident needs to exceed to be able to graduate.

            1. Gyne*

              That said I *do* have a “four day” work week most weeks. But one “day” is a 24 hour shift and every 5 weekends I am working for 48 hours in addition to my “four days” of work.

          2. Girasol*

            That’s tough in the US. Each full time employee needs benefits including health care. 60 hours by one employee is cheaper than 30 hours apiece by two because two people need twice the medical coverage. That’s expensive.

    4. GlowCloud*

      Yeah, I used to have a 4-day work pattern, and that extra day off allowed me to catch up on all my household and life admin stuff AND pursue my leisure interests without feeling completely worn out every single week. I really felt richer in terms of how I could spend my time, if not in actual money.

      I cannot overstate how useful it is to be able to run errands and stuff during normal weekday opening hours, instead of rushing to the bank before they close at noon on Saturday. More businesses should accommodate this.

    5. Applesauced*

      I would love a true 4 day work week like you have!
      My office does summer hours, but that’s 40 hours in either 4 days or 4.5 days.

      I do think it’s possible to do a 40-hour load 32-hours, but companies would need to accept a slight reduction in productivity, some of the busy work tasks might fall out, but the core work would still get done.

      I wish the 32 hour work week was the way of the future, but capitalism being what it is, I really doubt it.

      1. Sloanicota*

        What I think is tough right now is that my job can only be four days because other people are working five. To make this an institution-wide change (rather than something that mostly makes sense for my individual-contributor, non-management, non-public-facing role) we’d need to stagger which day everyone has off. But to be fair, that description covers almost every job I’ve ever had.

    6. Gracely*

      I would LOVE for that to become the norm. I know I could definitely do my job at the same level (or possibly better, because I would be less stressed about household things) with those hours.

    7. londonedit*

      There have been recent trials of this here in the UK (I think there was a BBC report about it recently) and the findings have been overwhelmingly positive. I think most of the companies involved in the trial are carrying on with a four-day week permanently now. I’d love it!

    8. rayray*

      I would love to see shorter work weeks become normal, whether it’s 3 day weekends or shorter days 5 days a week, I think it would be great for everyone. I’d say most office jobs I have ever had could have easily gotten all my work done being at the office fewer hours.

    9. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

      I would love this. I could 100% get all of my tasks done in 32 hours per week.

    10. New Mom*

      So timely that you asked this! My organization is going to test this out for two months during my departments busy season (less busy for other departments) and I’m excited to only work 32 hours a week for two months but I’m also worried how it’ll impact the productivity of our already struggling department. We are super understaffed and can’t complete all our work during the busy time.
      I’d love to have the four day work week stay, then I could have actual time to myself since the weekends are all about wrangling kids.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I admit I end up spending the fifth day almost entirely on running errands and doing house work that I got behind on during the week, plus one good walk in the park that’s less-crowded. I don’t end up leaving town or doing anything really crazy, and I do like to be somewhat available to my job in case of emergencies (sometimes I check email mid-day just to ensure nothing has blown up in my absence, and sometimes if I wasn’t productive enough during the week I’ll work a couple hours catching up but not being online for email). But the alternative would be to spend my Saturday on that stuff.

    11. Susan*

      I’m jealous! My company recently went to a 4-10s schedule, which I love — being off every Friday is a huge benefit and totally worth working longer days — but I don’t see a 32-hour week becoming the norm in my industry. In reality, I always work significantly more than 40 hours/week; after I put in my butt-in-chair time in the office, I come home and work while dinner’s cooking, and then put in at least 8-10 more hours over the weekend, but at least then I can work on my schedule and in my pajamas while sitting on the couch.

    12. NforKnowledge*

      Back when unions had more power, that was seen as the clear next step after codifying the40h work week. Let’s bring that back, eh

    13. Anonymous Educator*

      Related but not exactly the same thing: I’d love to see no actual hours (for jobs that don’t require answering a phone or greeting visitors at a door) and just “Did you complete your projects and do what you had to do?” And then you manage what days you work. Could be four days a week.

      1. Anecdata*

        But then there is no standard for “what is a reasonable amount of projects to give this person”!

        1. Overeducated*

          Yup. Doesn’t work for those underfunded employers where the only thing limiting workload is how much can be done in 40ish hours!

        2. Anonymous Educator*

          You can have a maximum number of hours worked, just not a minimum. Be creative.

      2. Mr. Shark*

        I’m all for core hours, because there are a lot of jobs in which you do have to have meetings, meet with customers, and collaborate on tasks. So “no actual hours” would be difficult and limiting at times.

      3. Pan*

        I have this and it’s awesome. I am really efficient so I complete my work (and some extra) in about 6 hours a day, and get paid for 40 hours a week. I also flex my schedule depending on how productive I’m feeling. Some weeks I probably work 45 hours, sometimes I work in the evening instead of during the day. Really helps my productivity.

      4. NeutralJanet*

        The problem with that is that in most jobs, you do need to be available to your coworkers at least sometimes and on a predictable schedule—I’ve definitely had times where I need to shoot someone a quick question and if I had no idea when they would be working, or if I knew they were working completely different hours than me, it would have been a real pain. Some flexibility is great, and I suppose there are some jobs where everything you do is completely independent from everyone else, but I’d think that most jobs should have core hours of some sort.

    14. Anongineer*

      If this isn’t the future it’s one I want! I really hope it does become the standard, especially as they’ve proven it doesn’t affect productivity/output.

    15. Sherm*

      I don’t see it happening where I work. People already work 10 (or more) hours a week, and the company’s not going to let anything slide. A 4-day week would mean that people would work until midnight, knowing that they’d have to get up at 6am to do it all over again. Fridays would be spent collapsed in bed. Plus, we work with government agencies and others who can have tight deadlines (“Please reply in 48 hours”), so they would all have to be on board with it, too.

      Companies need to think hard about whether a 4-day week is really feasible for them, with input from the rank-and-file. I think in some places it could backfire, like “unlimited vacation!” can. And it will cause a lot of resentment if the official line is “We have a four-day work week here!” when in reality they don’t.

    16. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I suspect that my profession will have to be dragged, kicking and screaming (ie, pointedly told to comply via legislation) into a 32 hour work week. It would be lovely though.

      I’m an auditor.

      1. Loopy*

        I’m afraid I’d be, if not in this boat, then in a very similar one. It’s a little depressing to think about the likely resistance!

    17. Honor Harrington*

      Sadly, no. Corporations are greedy. Likewise, few managers know how to manage via capacity planning. All they can do is watch over people. That combination means “get as much work out of them as I think we can get away with” and that means most will refuse to give up that fifth day of work. They will never believe employees can be as productive in only four days because they don’t know how to measure and plan work. If employees were just as productive, leadership would be convinced employees had been cheating them for years.

      1. Sloanicota*

        In theory the four day workweek could mean less flexibility during those four days – because why are you scheduling dr’s appointments or childcare during the four days you work when you now have a weekday free.

    18. Lizzie*

      I would love it if it was! Sadly, my company is stuck in the dark ages, and I joke our motto is “that’s the way we’ve always done it” which is true in many ways. I know I could be SO much more productive in less time, if I knew I had that extra day off every week.
      But you never know, WFH universally was never a thing until COVID, so I believe anything is possible

    19. Elizabeth West*

      32 hours is great, but if I’m hourly and I’m only getting paid for 32 hours, that’s going to hurt.

      1. Sloanicota*

        It’s salaried, but it’s probably a slightly lower salary than the same role would have elsewhere (but ironically, it’s the highest-paying job I’ve ever had, because this is a new tier of job for me). For myself, I’m totally willing to accept a lower-but-still livable salary for a four day workweek – although that fifth day can be interfered with “if something urgent comes up” so I’d accept a 10-15K paycut, but not more than that.

      2. JSPA*

        Maybe… but…

        What if hours 33 to 40 counted as overtime, so that you’d hit your old 40 hour full time pay after working 36 hours?

        What if the day off what ironclad, as far as which day of the week, such that you could pick up a weekly side gig that paid a bit, and got you outside (walk dogs or whatever)?

        What if a free day in the middle of the week meant that you could always have home-cooked meals and shop when convenient, at a lower cost than grabbing pricy snax? Or hang laundry to dry, for free?

        I’m thinking even the hourly people might have some unexpected plusses from a shorter week.

    20. Bob-White of the Glen*

      I work 4 tens in summer, and the difference in energy and how I feel is amazing. I collapse the first day, do all my chores/errands the second day, and actually have a full day to recharge, rest, and have fun! While I don’t see us going to 4 eight hour days anytime soon, I would give anything to be able to be 4 tens all year long. In realty, more effective meetings would provide most of the time we need do to go to 32 hours, but we can’t have that.

    21. InTheUK*

      Am I the only one who thinks ‘maybe, not so sure’? For context, I live alone (long distance relationship) in a smallish apartment, family is a flight away. Work is quite flexible already, and well, I don’t hate it. I have a generous holiday allowance (25 + bank holidays, yes it’s the UK), so I can easily take a few long weekend over the year, which I do (see, long distance relationship). I mean, three full days to fill in are a bit much sometimes? Once I was talking with someone with a similar lifestyle who had chosen a 4 days week, and basically it allowed her to hike Saturday and Sunday most weekends (we are in the same hiking club), chores on Monday. Well I am happy to hike Saturday and run errands, clean etc on Sunday, if you get what I mean. Perhaps Wednesday off would be better and I would probably exercise more, but I may also feel like I need to study to improve career prospective in the new free time (which somehow is worst than working because you need to be entirely self-motivated to do so). Just me?

      1. InTheUK*

        Ok to be fair, if there were no salary reduction and a decrease in expectations with regards to work done, I suppose it would be weird to want to work more for the same amount of money, and it would be more ethical to volunteer some of that time.

      2. allathian*

        There’s also the idea of constructive idleness. Some people have had their lives scheduled from early childhood to the point that they get highly anxious if they suddenly don’t have anything “constructive” to do. Others fill their lives with constant activity because that means they don’t have any time to think about whatever issues they’re unhappy with in their current lives. Some people are almost pathologically afraid of boredom, although to be fair, I think that even most Gen X-ers like me, who grew up without constant access to the internet, have become slaves to our phones. I know I tend to pull out mine as soon as I have a few minutes to spare, when I’m waiting for the bus, for example. But boredom/idleness is often an essential ingredient for creativity.

    22. Anonosaurus*

      I work four days and have for years. I need this to have good health and balance. I have always negotiatd this (for.me it’s not negotiable) but accordingly I get paid for four days too so I’m not going to lie, it’s going to grind my gears if full time pay for four working days becomes the norm. Not because I begrudge anyone else the balance but from a pay perspective.

    23. I heart Paul Buchman*

      At my job we can choose our schedule as long as the hours total 75 hours a fortnight + breaks. Some choose a 8 day fortnight (4/week) but by far the most common is the 9 day fortnight (4 days one week, 5 the next). This adds only an hour to each working day so is more manageable long term. This is seen as a big perk of the job and people stay at the company for this reason. As far a I know there aren’t any employees from the CEO down who work a traditional schedule. We are a non profit and quite progressive on work life balance because our industry is high burnout.

  7. Aunt*

    I’m in serious need of help from AAM readers. My nephew, age 22, continues to get fired from hourly jobs. Sometimes they are honest with him: he is consistently late and disrespectful to peers and even managers. (Other times, they just tell him that they no longer need him.) An example of his behavior: a fellow employee at the gym he worked at asked him to wipe down the equipment (part of his job) and he told them “you aren’t my manager.” He can be belligerent and, since he’s a tall and rather imposing person, I have no doubt that he intimidates people with his tone and attitude.

    You have probably guessed that he was the same way in school and was diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder. He’s also been diagnosed with depression and anxiety but he will not go to counseling (he starts and then quits after a few sessions) and he will not take medication. So he lives at home and essentially does nothing. His parents don’t agree on whether or not to kick him out – so at home he stays.

    He completed one semester at the local community college but that was also a struggle. He got straight A’s but nearly dropped out when he was just a few weeks shy of completing the semester.

    He probably has some form of ADHD but, as with the depression, he won’t do anything consistently to treat it. He’s very bright but we clearly have a “failure to launch” situation here.

    Does anyone have any suggestions? Career coaching? Anything? I’m one of the few adults he will listen to, so I want ato try to help!

    1. Not teenage but still ninja turtle*

      Spitballing wildly here, but this actually sounds like he could be a good fit for gig economy jobs. Doesn’t respond well to bosses? Don’t have one. Something like Instacart might be a good fit, where he knows the task and the timeline and can do it however he wants. And it doesn’t have to be an app– a friend of a friend was a nighttime shopper at Joann, who put together all the online orders for pickup after the store closed. She never had to deal with customers and only rarely other employees.

      Idk, just something to consider.

      1. Anecdata*

        Since you’re an adult he’ll listen to — can you use that influence to get him to commit to engaging regularly with mental health treatment? Maybe frame it as “hey, let’s talk honestly here — adults need to be able to hold down a job, how do we get there?”. Make a plan to eg. meet with three counselors to find a fit and then choose one.

        1. Snoozing not schmoozingSnoozing not schmoozing*

          That sounds like a very expensive proposition for someone with no current income. Unless the parents are really well off and willing to shell out the money, how would this be feasible?

          1. dude, who moved my cheese?*

            He’s 22, so if he’s in the US he could still be on his parents’ health insurance. It is hard but not impossible to find therapists who take your insurance and only charge a copay.

          2. AcademiaNut*

            He’s young enough to be on his parents’ insurance. But he’ll age out in a couple of years, and then it’ll be a lot harder.

      2. theletter*

        +1

        There’s a number of jobs that describe themselves as ‘being your own boss’, and I think there’s something to be said to for the experience of really owning your reputation.

        Lots of those jobs are scams. But there are a lot of positions in sales that don’t require skills, only the desire to make money. There’s a lot of advice on dealing with rejection and anxiety in the field, as well as ample pep talks built into the process. Being in a sales role can really put each interaction into perspective. If you’re rude to this person, you’re not going to make $X this hour, and if the value of X is high enough, you’ll find your nice side.

        I think some people avoid sales as they don’t think of it as valuable work, but in our capitalist society, it is valuable work with real monetary value for the salesperson and the company. A salesperson builds a relationship. Customers don’t just come out of nowhere.

        1. Maggie*

          I don’t think someone who refuses to do the basic tasks of their job, and is rude and intimidating and always late is going to succeed at sales. You have to kiss your customers’ asses and do things on their time/their way sometimes. If he’s not even succeeding at something as basic and structured as wiping down gym equipment I fail to see how a self directed job that’s all about being personable would work for him.

          1. RM*

            Eh, the positive motivation of “kissing this person’s ass for $X more commissions” can feel really really different than the negative motivation of obeying orders so you don’t get in trouble.

      3. J*

        I’d agree with this, even if I personally find the industry exploitative. I have a relative with ODD/ADHD and the jobs he’s been most successful at are gig economy roles, courier roles, 3rd shift roles where he has a specific task + little supervision (restocking small business shelves or inventory) but the gig economy is the only one he’s kept for 5+ years. I’m balancing my exploiting concerns with the alternative, which is likely homelessness.

    2. GreenShoes*

      Yeah, that’s not good. Does he want to change? Has he shown any indication he’s looking for advice? I mean the obvious answer is he seeks professional help, but if he doesn’t want to do that or won’t keep up with it, I’m not sure there is much you can suggest that will actually help.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I agree–it’s like the old joke about the light bulb. If he’s okay with the consequences of his actions so far, he won’t change.

        It reminds me of something I read online a while ago, where a 22 year old woman was diagnosed with a brain tumor she’s apparently had her whole life. She had successful surgery, and the first thing she realized was that for the first time in her life, she didn’t have a headache! She’d never not had one due to said tumor, but since she had no basis of comparison it never came up–why mention something that’s totally normal to you?

        Right now your nephew’s issues seem normal to him because he’s had them his whole life. Counseling seems like a waste of time because hey, he’s normal! This is the way he’s always been, so clearly the problem is everything/everyone else. As long as he doesn’t have to pay rent or buy food or basically support himself, he literally cannot see the problem. To him it’s like having everyone in his life inexplicably insist that the sky is green or rain falls upwards.

        Basically he’s going to have to be forced into at least some kind of medicinal therapy for the ADHD long enough to see the difference. Obviously this can’t be done physically, but if his parents and you agree that to keep living at home, he MUST attend X amount of sessions and start medication, it might crack open the door.

        1. Vio*

          It really is easy to assume that something odd is normal when it’s the only thing you can remember experiencing. I’ve had depression and CPTSD since I was about five and for most of my young life I was convinced that happiness did not actually exist and people just pretended to be happy just as they say “I’m fine” even when they clearly don’t mean it. I was convinced that my main problem was just that I wasn’t good at pretending to be happy, pretending to want a job, pretending to believe tomorrow could be better than today. Looking back I can see how miserable I truly was, but at the time I was convinced that was the norm not just for me but for everyone. It still sometimes catches me off guard at times and I think “I really *can* be happy after all”.
          I really hope that your nephew can learn that change is possible and that life can become a very positive and amazing thing. It’s hard to find a good balance of being supportive, understanding and encouraging without either pushing too hard or being too lenient but it will get easier with practice.

    3. JustA___*

      Has he tried contract work with a very set number of tasks? I have a relative with a medical condition that makes it difficult to impossible for them to be reliable for a job. They’ve had some success with working for online transcription services. The money isn’t great, but it’s something they can do when they’re up to it, and my understanding is that they essentially don’t have a supervisor—transcriptions just need to be accurate enough to keep being offered work.

      It sounds like your nephew might benefit from something similarly self-directed, without having a boss over him.

    4. Moonlight*

      First of all, he needs to want to help himself; the fact he’ll go to counselling and quit is… troubling. It means he’s open but might be defiant to the things he’s told to do to change and he might be reluctant to try again. It might be good to do research and recommend providers versus leaving it to him to investigate.

      Another factor is talking to him; you seem to know about specific instances (like him saying “you’re not my manager”; even if he wasn’t a large man, that’s still not ok to say) and it might be good if you could find a way to talk to him about it and see if he even understands why it’s wrong. Don’t come in like “you messed up, that’s rude, no wonder you got fired!” But more like “I could see why they didn’t tolerate that but I’m wondering what you’re sense is of what happened”

      1. Gyne*

        Agree with this. It’s telling that OP is writing in and not Nephew. If he wants to change, by all means give him the tools to do so (suggesting this site, for example) but any change must come from within. At some point he’ll either realize he’s the common denominator in all these situations or he won’t.

        I think the most OP should do is provide a gentle sounding board with constructive feedback and be open to more help if HE initiates the request.

    5. Zephy*

      This sounds like a young man who’s never experienced a single consequence in his life. Maybe he should.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I have to disagree– he won’t follow through with anything that will help him, and he lives at home and presumably always has a place to land. Sometimes we have to face desperation before we’ll do what we need to do– what is apparently available to this man– to help ourselves.

          I have relatives like this. They follow through on nothing. They have never had to pay their own bills or manage their own homes. One of them is very bright but won’t interview for jobs because the positions aren’t visionary enough or whatever. They’re lucky– one of them has a job in the family business that pays him, but he hates it because he thinks it’s beneath him. Their parents do nothing except encourage and (in my opinion) coddle them, all while complaining about how they’re drowning in debt and housework. At least make the kid pay rent, ffs.

          I’m not this guy’s parent so I don’t know what it’s like for them (I imagine it’s difficult to watch your child go through this) but continuing on this path of no consequences and no set plan with conditions does not seem to be helping.

          1. JB*

            >continuing on this path of no consequences and no set plan with conditions does not seem to be helping.

            Definitely sounds like a case of “we’ve tried nothing and we’re all out of ideas.”

            1. I'm A Little Teapot*

              Ok, what could be done?

              He’s an adult. They can’t force him to do anything. “We’ve tried nothing and we’re all out of ideas” applies with the solution is fairly simple, if not necessarily simple in execution, and you don’t want to do it. Ie, complaining that no one wants to work anymore while you pay $12 an hour. So, what’s the solution here that hasn’t been tried?

              1. Siege*

                Does he need money because he’s paying bills (cell phone and car insurance, for example) and a token rent? Or are mom and dad still footing the bill? That’s a reasonable and appropriate consequence that isn’t clear whether it’s been tried.

                It can be a soft launch, but if he doesn’t need money he’s not going to prioritize figuring out how he wants to earn it.

      1. L. Ron Jeremy*

        Agree. He’ll continue to do what he wants until the cold slap of reality smacks him in the face when he finally has to fend for himself.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Agree as well. I mean, not to be morbid, but the day will come when his parents will simply be unable to keep supporting him due to their own health or, death. They aren’t doing him any favors by letting him think “everyone else is the problem” and then he’s forty five with no safety net and no ability to get along in the world.

      2. Generic Name*

        For real. Maybe looming homelessness will make him decide that being cooperative at work is worth it. And I’m saying this from experience. When kids have no consequences for their behavior, there is no motivation to change. My son had very few consequences early on, and it was a big problem. Since then, I made huge changes in the household and have held him accountable, and his behavior and attitude have improved immensely. I wonder what his living situation is. Does he pay rent? For my son (age 16) I’ve told him he’s welcome to live at home for free as long as he is in school. If he’d rather work, he can pay rent or move out once he turns 18.

      3. A Jane*

        If he has a medical condition that means he can’t deal with demands (such as Pathological Demand Avoidance) if he was given consequences he would be even more defiant.

        1. I'm A Little Teapot*

          Ok, then what should they do?

          He’s an adult. They can’t force him to do anything. All they can control is what they do. So, what should they do?

          1. Peanut Hamper*

            Quit feeding him? Quit doing his laundry? Quit putting a roof over his head? He’s 22. Maybe what he really needs to do is leave the nest.

        2. Maggie*

          Mental conditions can be treated with therapy medication and planning. You can’t just say oh I have x condition so I’m never going to do anything ever and no one can ever say anything to me about it.

        3. AcademiaNut*

          That’s what makes this so messy. He’s an adult. If he doesn’t want to hold down a job, or get medical treatment to help with that, and the parents aren’t willing to threaten to cut off financial support because it will make things worse, the remaining option is supporting him indefinitely.

          I’m not sure what the possibility is of getting him on disability due to his diagnoses, so that at least he has a small income and medical coverage, but I’m guessing it’s not high. Being chronically late for an hourly coverage based job, and being belligerent and rude and refusing to do job related tasks because you don’t want to aren’t particularly well suited to ADA accommodations.

          If he wants suggestions, gig based work without much interaction with other people (like delivery) sounds like a good option, but if he doesn’t want suggestions…

      4. Bertie*

        Not helpful at all. I’m a lot like OPs nephew. I ultimately had to decide myself that I didn’t want to live with my parents for the rest of my life (because they would’ve let me). So I finished college and got a job. I still hate working and I hate every job I’ve ever had, but I think I would hate myself even more if I were in my 40s living with my parents. If they had gotten all tough and kicked me out in my early twenties I can’t say how things would’ve turned out, but I probably would have made some REALLY bad decisions. Sounds like he just doesn’t like the ‘real world’ and who can blame him? Working sucks. He just has to decide himself if it sucks more than living at home as an adult.

        1. Warrior Princess Xena*

          Ultimately, I think very few people would opt to join the workplace if they had the option of “you can stay here indefinitely with all your basic needs and some small luxuries being met”. There are very, very few truly highly self-motivated people in the world, and there are a lot of people who can fall into an ‘apathy trap’ of not really wanting to move onwards.

          I would note that one way to motivate him without making him homeless might be to do some sort of limited support. IE, you get a bed and food, but no phone, no wifi, no car except for searching for jobs/getting to work. But ultimately that will be up to his parents.

        2. Maggie*

          It sounds like you got with the program and stepped up though. I mean I kinda like “the real world”, yeah it sucks sometimes, and I get mad/sad about it, but overall I’m good with it. I’d much rather be an independent and productive person standing on my own.

      5. Ellis Bell*

        People with ODD usually suffer more consequences than the average person. In situations you and I are willing to be told what to do in order to avoid trouble, they simply don’t have that social instinct or ability. So, the consequence (like being fired and having nothing enjoyable or friends) tends to happen pretty consistently to ODD people.

        1. I have RBF*

          I have a roomie who is on disability for ODD and other psych issues. He had and lost multiple jobs, but the final one was his “dream job”, working in an area where he had passion and expertise. He still lost it when he got into an argument with an obstinate customer. So he managed, with a lot of help, to get evaluated for disability, and get a lawyer help with the appeal.

          Disability doesn’t pay much, but with understanding roomies it lets him be off the street. Before he moved in with me he was living in his car. He’s absolutely brilliant, but can’t hold a job, especially where he has to deal with a boss, any sort of authority, or the public. He didn’t even graduate high school, but managed to pass his GED easily. He’s currently 60.

    6. EmKay*

      I mean, is he happy with his current situation? Because if he is, why on earth would he want to change it?

    7. A Jane*

      He sounds like where my daughter is heading. She has Pathological Demand Avoidance (a diagnosis under the autistic spectrum) and she struggles to do anything and everything that is a demand and is struggling a huge amount with life and school as a result. We hope one day she’ll have the ability to work things through so she can hold down a job, but it might not be possible.

      Reading up on PDA, looking at the PDA society website in the UK might help you and him.

      Good luck.

    8. JustMe*

      There’s not a ton you can do as he’s an adult, but if you’re in the US, your local Workforce Board probably has programs and case management for people in his situation. When I worked for a WIB years ago, we had programs specifically for young adults in situations just like this. Not sure what it looks like in the post-Trump era but if you contact your local Workforce/Work Source center and say you have a 22 year old “opportunity youth” who has struggled to go to school or hold down a job, they might have resources.

      1. JustMe*

        I’ll also add that when I was trying to get my opportunity/at-risk youths to do things, I would lead with the goal or incentive: ex. “You’ll get a stipend of $1,500 in a few weeks and you’ll never have to take a GED test ever again if you do this program.” The idea is to keep short-term, attainable goals at the forefront.

    9. RagingADHD*

      If he can make straight As, then he has some measure of goal-directed persistence.

      So maybe sit down with him and get him to talk about what he wants. If he can clearly visualize something he wants, then he will be able to see when his behaviors are getting in his own way.

      There’s a huge mental difference between “people are on my back because of X,” and “X is keeping me from getting what I want, so I better do something about it.”

      I have known some young people with difficulties like this who really blossomed in intense, very difficult roles with a struct hierarchy like firefighting or being an EMT. On the one hand, they could see that their work really mattered and was necessary. On the other hand, the rules and roles were extremely clear, so if someone told them what to do, it really was their boss.

      But getting him to think and talk about his goals is really important (even if it’s just to get out of his parents’ house.)

    10. Bertie*

      Hi, Aunt. I said below to another commenter that I am/was a LOT like your nephew. Right down to getting fired from working at a gym at age 22! I also have some similar mental health diagnoses. I can tell you that the only thing that got me going was looking around and seeing people I knew making independent lives for themselves and not wanting to still be living with my parents when I was 40. So I finished college at 25 and still have a stable well paying job 20+ years later. I don’t like working, but I would dislike living with my parents as an adult even more. This may not be the case for your nephew though! The world is such a difficult place (especially for people his age) and he may prefer the stability of living at home to dealing with all of it.

      I would suggest that if you want to maintain a good relationship that you keep everything low key and not come at him as if there is something wrong with him. Because there isn’t. Maybe just gently have conversations about what he wants his life to look like in 10 or 20 years and see where it goes. I admit my parents were a bit coddling, but I know that any attempt at tough love/teaching consequences/forcing me to do things like some of these other commenters are recommending would’ve ended VERY badly. I would’ve dug in even more if I felt someone was trying to force me to do something I didn’t want to do myself.

      So good luck!

      1. Sloanicota*

        I know a hell of a lot of young adults who would have been happy living with their parents forever and not working … until they got a partner, and suddenly they realized it was pretty awkward trying to bring a girl/boy they really liked back to the family home where M&D were waiting. Suddenly they had a new interest in finding a job and being more self-sufficient. So, it could still happen for the nephew!!

    11. SnowyRose*

      This isn’t the answer you’re hoping to hear and I’m sorry because it sucks, but realistically, there isn’t much you can do. It’s a choice your nephew is going to have to make before one is made for him. If you can, continue to encourage him to seek treatment and find the the combo that’s best for him.

      My brother had similar issues growing up – he was formally diagnosed with ODD and ADHD, and he had a lot of anger management issues (part of the two diagnoses). He also refused to take his medications and seek further treatment. And, like your nephew, was fired or spectacularly quit not in a good way from almost every job.

      I will say that one job he seemed to click with was working for a stone mason.

      1. BeeMused*

        I have a relative a lot like this, and he too went through many, many jobs, but the outdoor/physical ones tended to be better for him also. He had one summer gig repairing trails in a state park that went quite well, as I recall.

    12. Ellis Bell*

      Ive had a few ODD students and it’s just unbelievably tough. It’s tough for them, it’s tough for their adults and there’s no easy solution. So tough that I’m inclined to say 22 is still pretty young for him to have found his feet on this one, though it’s all worthy experimentation. I think “steady job” might be too ambitious a goal for him at this stage. He clearly doesn’t have the skills and he doesn’t have the motivation to care about his health either. So I’d start at the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. He has physical security and safety – check. Does he have the next levels, like connection and taking pleasure in things, and feeling safe while he figures this out? If the adults feel a bit aimless there’s no reason they can’t get professional support in his stead. If I was in his life, I’d probably start with very low goals of keeping him active and busy, with requests; to spend time with him, encourage him to try doing things and get him talking. Some kids like to be around animals because they don’t tell you what to do! I know a group actually who provides farmwork for challenged kids. I’d let him know getting help would make me happy but that it’s up to him. It does take time and he’ll have to try lots of things and fail a lot with support. Perhaps prioritise unpaid roles which play to his motivations in favour of paid work while you’re trying to build his skills. Take care of yourselves while doing this, you need to keep your own mental health really strong just to watch someone do this.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        Oh, last ditch idea, but was anything like Lego therapy ever tried? That’s good for teaching collaboration with peers.

      2. Rosie*

        I work in Special Ed and I agree with this, his self esteem is probably very low and this would be a good way to start to build up his self worth again.

      3. Fushi*

        Yes, I think this is the correct approach. Not ODD, but I do have a variety of mental and physical health issues and coping can be HARD, even when you know what the best approaches to managing your condition is (which nephew doesn’t yet)! If I’m not in a relatively decent state both mentally and physically, it becomes ridiculously difficult to implement the strategies I have, let alone seek out new treatments. As a trusted aunt, OP has the ability to help the nephew try to find activities and supports that bring him to the baseline state of “okay” needed to start tackling the bigger issues.

    13. Maggie*

      If he refuses treatment and the parents refuse to kick him out you’re at a standstill. Because the answer is parents kicking him out and getting treatment/meds.

    14. JSPA*

      1. A job that’s strenuous enough to dull some of the anger, and remote enough that there’s no reasonable way to walk off the job

      or

      2. self-employment

      Those are the only two things I’ve seen work for ODD (and they’re a maybe, at best; if you are an A-hole on an arctic oil rig, you might just not ever come back).

      Snark sells, though…attitudinal T-shirts, as a side-hustle?

    15. FlowersInHerHair*

      Marine Corps…he needs the discipline, to be up against folks who won’t abide that attitude, and a structured environment in which to grow as a human and a warrior. Good luck to him in his future endeavors!

      1. Valancy Snaith*

        If he’s belligerent and rude to coworkers and peers, other Marines will eat him alive. Nobody wants a blue falcon in their squad. If he’s already struggling with anxiety and depression, diagnosis could disqualify him, and if not, the training system can be immensely stressful and not really the best environment for that.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        Neurological conditions genuinely aren’t the same thing as an attitude. To put it into perspective, imagine a stranger on the street told you to clean their shoes. It’s not having an attitude to say no, even to be bluntly offended, because you’ve correctly identified what is/isn’t socially appropriate. Not everybody can do that! It seems that nephew has at least absorbed that they have to follow persons in authority because they said “you aren’t my manager” and I bet even that much awareness took years and years. Following a peers’ instructions was just too much of a grey area, and a really understandable mistake for someone with ODD. Obviously employers can’t accommodate this, and it’s for the nephew to learn, overlearn and work on the knowledge and skills other people have intuitively before expecting to keep hold of a job. I would say the marines definitely could not accommodate this and it would probably be screened out as psychologically inappropriate and possibly dangerous given he’s already depressed.

      3. Irish Teacher*

        I think if he is up against folks “who won’t abide that attitude” and he has a neurological condition that means he struggles to control that attitude, it would not end well. He has a disability. It’s not something he can just turn off when he’s around people who “don’t put up with it.”

        That’s not to say he can’t learn to control it (with support, therapy, possibly meds for the depression and ADHD, etc) but just “not abiding it” isn’t treatment.

  8. anon4this*

    I’m the main FT front desk worker at a relatively small academic library (for almost 5 years) and recently we had our feedback survey that’s taken every 2 years. I was pulled aside by my supervisor and told that a survey respondent named me as being rude during an interaction and felt that it was “racially motivated.” There was no further elaboration or details. I can’t think of a specific incident this would be about, especially if the time range is over the past 2 years. I interact with multiple students almost every day of different races. Not all of my interactions go 100% great, but I generally try to do my best to help them. Also for context, I’m an Asian American (though I know this doesn’t mean I can’t perpetuate racism).

    Both my supervisor and I take this very seriously but due to lack of details, it’s hard to know what else to do next. She said in general that she trusts me (my previous performance reviews have been very positive so I think she’s being honest there). We have had conversations before about me needing to improve my customer service skills (personal phone usage and proactive greeting of patrons). This along with hiring a new part-time front desk person and getting our student workers to be more attentive, she sees this as an opportunity for a customer service reset. We plan to talk again in April.

    My intended goal (once my acute distress towards myself wears off) is try to be more self-aware and do better in my all of my interactions. But that feels so abstract, I feel like I’m missing something more pragmatic or more directly related to unintentional bias. Does anyone have any experience or advice with matters like this?

    Some additional info:
    – I’ve felt stagnant at my current job for a little while plus the pandemic I think has ground up a lot of energy I used to have for customer service friendliness and I’ve felt myself becoming more brusque than I’d like to be.
    – My supervisor also said my face mask could make my expression/demeanor harder to read as positive (I’m the only one still consistently wearing one among library staff).

    1. Fiona*

      It seems like you’re approaching this in all the right ways – honest self-examination and discussions with your manager.

      I’m just curious what you mean by “Not all of my interactions go 100% great” – I can imagine that being the case at a large city public library where librarians often have to be ad hoc social workers, harm reduction counselors, public health workers, etc, – but at a small academic library, what are the issues that pop up that cause negative interactions? It does seem like a shift into a non-customer-facing job might be worth looking into if you’re finding yourself becoming brusque with people looking for assistance.

      Good luck!

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Small academic library/archives employee here: We deal with a lot of doctors, specifically (both MDs and PhDs in either medical fields or history) and they can be pretty demanding. I think that some of them have gotten used to assistants keeping track of a lot of things for them so when they have to manage their own research they miss stuff and then get huffy when we don’t/can’t just fix it for them Right Now. Sorry, man–if you didn’t compile and leave us a list of all the stuff you used from all those folders, we don’t magically have it. We have one local guy who basically called my then-supervisor stupid (supervisor cheerfully said he would be glad the assist the man when the man was having a better day and then hung up on him).

        We also occasionally, though much less often, get pushback from undergrads or grad students who basically didn’t realize how much work research can be and are now freaked out that we don’t have the pre-processed information they assumed we must have and they actually needed to come spend hours finding it themselves, and now they’re on a deadline.

        I think collectively my department keeps its temper admirably well but sometimes an interaction feels bad no matter how appropriately you handled it, simply because the other person wanted something unreasonable and there was no way to resolve it to make them happy.

      2. Moonlight*

        Honestly, having multiple degrees, I could totally see some frazzled and/or over eager and/or demanding students being harder to deal with.

      3. anon4this*

        I would say printer issues are a big one. A lot of students print materials but it’s kind of finicky between wireless printing (which is great when it works but has a lot of little steps for it go wrong) or logging into one of the desktops (which is more reliable but requires checking out a keyboard and isn’t as quick as some want it to be I think). I would say these interactions mostly get resolved if they need help but not always and I probably rush going through the same steps.

        Other interactions off the top of my head can be clarifying library loans policies and enforcing them. I find students implicitly regard or wish due dates as more flexible than they are and that renewals aren’t infinite. We do try to be flexible when we can, but can’t always be in service of being consistent and fair. So by negative in that case, I mean, not always granting a student’s request.

        And for the others, I’ve definitely misunderstood students’ requests or questions but generally those get cleared up pretty fast. I just always feel embarrassed when that’s the case and hope they don’t think I mean to be condescending or rude.

      4. Loulou*

        I’m sure you don’t mean this consciously, but it sort of sounds like you think only homeless people are difficult library patrons. Customer service is difficult pretty much across the board, and working with an academic population comes with its own particular challenges. People sometimes assume that “the public” (code for homeless or poor people and/or drug users) are automatically the most difficult population to deal with and I haven’t always found that to be true.

      5. AnotherLibrarian*

        So, as someone whose worked at academic libraries (big and small) my whole career, I can tell you that all the issues of public libraries happen at academic libraries, just with an academic flare. Academic libraries are generally public, so you do deal with folks who need social services. You also deal with both students and professors in various states of panic over various things, but the other issue that is uniquely academic is the perception that whatever research the person is doing is the most important thing on the planet and get very huffy and frustrated when it’s not. I realize that for the patron, their PhD dissertation is the most crucial thing imaginable. However, for me, it’s Tuesday. I want to help, but I can’t do magic. If someone told me that 100% of their customer service interactions at any job went well, I would be deeply suspicious. However, I think if you’re feeling yourself getting brusquer, maybe consider if it’s time for a break and finding some way to carve out some space. Sending you good vibes.

      6. Candy*

        I’ve worked for 20 years at both a large city public libraries and small academic libraries and there is 100% the possibility for negative interactions in both. Difficult people are everywhere and they don’t suddenly change their personalities when they walk into a university library over a public one. And don’t forget academic libraries are open to the public!

        Also, it’s worth noting that hands down the most difficult, rudest, and unpleasant patrons I’ve dealt with have been faculty at an academic library.

      7. sundae funday*

        I haven’t worked a library help desk, but I have been a writing center tutor and an adjunct professor…. Students can be pretty entitled with your time and resources. At the writing center, I had students get upset if I didn’t essentially write their paper for them. I imagine anon4this has had to be strict with her own boundaries and time, which could make some students angry.

      8. MurpMaureep*

        I don’t work in a library but work in a field that has a lot of interactions with academic/med school faculty, clinicians, and researchers, and they can can be incredibly difficult. I’m not sure of the OP’s field, but where I work, there’s a huge sense of entitlement to staff time and resources because their work is Very Important (frequently true, but leads to some bad behavior). Also keep in mind that in an academic setting there are power differentials that don’t necessarily exist in a public setting – e.g. many faculty are pretty well compensated and many students come from backgrounds of privilege. Being a worker bee in that setting can be draining.

    2. Goddess47*

      Just brainstorming but someone could simply be offended that you’re ‘still’ wearing a mask and, because you present as Asian, that was racially offensive to someone.

      You keep wearing that mask. Since you’re front line public-facing, and I suspect you’re already doing this, make sure the mask is ‘cheerful’ –bright colors or something from the college you work at.

      Sorry this had to happen to you.

      1. anon4this*

        This has briefly crossed my mind but we have a significant health sciences focus and so there ate clinical areas where students and workers currently wear masks (though I haven’t noticed anyone who wears one daily in all areas like me). So I figured it would more likely to more consider the possibility that I harmed someone and try to do better. Hopefully though, if that was somehow the case, this won’t become a bigger issue as my supervisor explicitly supports me wearing a mask.

    3. It was likely them not you*

      Our circ folks (small academic library) get the brunt of all the unhappy people, so I wouldn’t worry too much. Someone probably didn’t like your answer for something they felt entitled to. Some of our patrons get very upset if you actually tell them the policy and follow it. I guess they think they somehow deserve an exception that I’m not authorized to provide. I would chalk it up to cranky patron not your service. But, yeah, circ and front desk employees get it the worst.

    4. WellRed*

      It sounds like you may have some things to work on aside from this one comment so I wouldn’t ruminate on that. As to your supervisors mask comment: bs.

      1. Loulou*

        Why do you think it’s BS? Some people absolutely respond negatively to service workers wearing a mask. If you haven’t experienced this, you’re lucky!

        1. Marie*

          Not wearing a mask seems to have been framed as something she could change to “improve” her interactions, which is inappropriate. Getting pressure from your boss to not wear a mask if you so choose during a global pandemic is B.S.

          1. Loulou*

            That’s not what the original comment said, and OP said elsewhere that her boss is supportive of her wearing a mask. I also wear a mask at work but it’s ridiculous to argue that it doesn’t make it harder for people to read your facial expressions. Of course it does!

    5. Yes And*

      Does your employer provide training in identifying and avoiding microaggressions? If not, you may want to suggest it. Not just for yourself, but for the staff in general. Not to say this is what happened in your mystery incident, but even the most self-aware and socially conscious people can stray into microaggression territory without realizing it. And even if that isn’t what happened with your current situation, the training can’t hurt.

      1. anon4this*

        Thank you, this is a good idea. We have had unconscious bias training from our DEI department but not specifically for microaggressions. I’ll ask my supervisor if a suggestion/request for this has already been made.

    6. JB*

      >There was no further elaboration or details.

      Then that can go right into the bin marked “cool story, bro.”

      If someone makes a complaint but can’t describe the actual problem, then there’s no reason to pay attention to it.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Yeah; a accusation of racism with no details? That may someone trying to get more attention to their complaint.

        And how seriously is LW supposed to take this, especially if the workplace waits for two years to address these things in general? Who goes “Well, this says LW used a racial slur, but the review isn’t until next April so oh well?” How is that helpful to anyone involved?

        1. anon4this*

          To be fair, it could have happened more recently and the survey just presented an opportunity to express the issue anonymously. If I was in the respondent’s position and felt I was unfairly mistreated (but only mildly/moderately so) but wary of retaliation or even worse interactions if I feel I’m already marginalized, I can empathize with going with a vague but distinct complaint.

          Though I do agree the lack of detail limits my options for my department and myself, or at least what I can even think of reflecting on, which is why I wrote here in the first place.

          1. AcademiaNut*

            If they get multiple vaguely worded complaints about the same thing with no details or single complaints with details then you have something actionable. I’d write off a single complaint with no details, where you honestly can’t figure out what the problem could be, as someone else having a bad day.

      2. The Araucana*

        Yes, +1 to JB’s recommendation to not pay attention to the comment. If the feedback is not specific or actionable, you can’t actually change what you’re doing! Maybe if it was a persistent trend, you and your supervisor could try to dig in a little more, but if it’s a one-off, just ignore.

    7. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      Most people who have worked in a customer facing position for any length of time have had someone baselessly accuse them of being racist at least once. There are unreasonable people out there who default to racism as the reason that any given interaction or situation doesn’t go their way. It’s good to be open to feedback and self reflection, but be kind to yourself.

    8. Alex*

      I think that this is just something that happens sometimes in customer service. I work a customer service job and had someone say that they felt I was treating them poorly because of their race. I wasn’t. I was enforcing rules that they didn’t like, and they were asking for an exception to the rules that I wasn’t allowed to give. They felt that the reason I wasn’t giving them an exception was because of their race, but really I was just following the rules.

      It still made me feel crappy even though I know that I wasn’t being racist. The thought that they thought I was was hurtful. So I know how that feels.

      It’s good to be introspective about it to make sure you are behaving professionally and to try to improve, but also know that this kind of misunderstanding happens in customer service positions and that we live in a world where there IS a lot of racism, and so it is an understandable conclusion that someone who experiences racism on the regular would reach.

  9. Sunny Sunshine*

    I’ve been job searching for months, and with the two companies I’ve pulled out of late in the process, they’ve sent me “candidate surveys”. Okay seems normal. But what if a company sends you a candidate survey in the middle of the interview process?

    Last week I had a day with a video interview with 4 people. The day after the interviews I was sent a link to a candidate survey to gather feedback on my interview experience, my “answers are completely confidential and will not have any impact on hiring decisions”. I didn’t respond to the survey but in a separate email the recruiter said she would reach out to me early this week. Cut to this week – I didn’t hear anything from the recruiter, but got another email asking me to do the survey yesterday morning. I didn’t respond, then later that afternoon the recruiter reached back out with an “unfortunately, the team has decided to move forward with another candidate who has a bit more experience relative to this role.”

    So I actually wrote in the OP last week how the “grand-boss” in this role right away tells me: “you’re way overqualified for this position, why would you stay here long term?”, then she kept pushing me to tell her all the mistakes I’ve made.

    So also, it seems like a bullet dodged? lol

    1. irene adler*

      Agree- sounds like the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.

      I received a rejection notice and then later the same day, I received a survey. Survey began with “Congratulations on your new job! We’d like to ask you some questions about your hiring experience.” What a gut punch!

      So I replied to the survey. Explained how hurtful it was to receive such a survey directly after being rejected for the position. Surprisingly enough, they replied with a very kind apology.

      And then another survey. This time to ask about the candidate experience.

      A few days later, HR reaches out to schedule the next interview. Says there’s been a mistake. They want to continue the interview process with me.

      So as not to compound things, I withdrew from consideration.

      1. Sunny Sunshine*

        What on earth! That places sounds like a mess, sounds like you dodged a bullet too

        1. irene adler*

          Yep! Good to learn such things before being hired on.
          Although it also means the job hunt must continue. Sigh.

    2. I have RBF*

      Yeah, that sounds like a bullet dodged. Pushy surveys, pushy management, calling you overqualified but opting for someone with more experience? Be glad you weren’t picked.

  10. FurySaidToTheMouse*

    Fellow Jewish people: are you “out” at work? I am not because I don’t want to deal with people’s weird commentary. Am learning though that people feel comfortable making Jew … comments… at me because they don’t know that I’m Jewish. I am from a mixed family, have an ambiguous name, and my non Jewish parent is south Asian.

    1. NameRequired*

      I personally am, but I am at an office that is pretty inclusive in general.

      If people are already making Jew Comments at you that’s not super indicative of an office culture where its safe to be out. It’s your choice to weigh the discomfort of them not knowing you’re Jewish and making Comments versus the possibility of discrimination that could affect your working life, but probably a stoppage of blatant Comments.

      There is no simple answer, and it sucks that you’re in this situation.

    2. Anon anon*

      Nope. Not out about my Jewishness or being bigender. I can pass on both fronts: my family is mixed Jewish-Catholic background and I have an Irish last name, and I tend to default to the gender that matches my birth certificate. It’s the same thought process for both: I feel safer limiting potential discrimination.

      That said I work for New York State and we have pretty strong protections, so I’d probably be fine, I’m just very private by nature at work.

    3. Elle*

      Yes. It came up as it always does-a required meeting scheduled on Yom Kippur. But the result was great-an apology from the ED, meeting rescheduled and everyone given a floating holiday.

    4. sally72*

      It’s so incredibly sad that you sound like you feel ashamed to be Jewish. As a Jewish person myself who never in my life thought of my religion as something to be “out” about, it feels like you are embarrassed of your religion and wouldn’t stand up to anyone making a negative religious comment. I could understand this if you lived perhaps in an Arab county, but not in the US. I am in my 70s and have worked full time all of the USA and never had anyone make any negative commentary about my religion, except for maybe naive comments asking if I still celebrate Christmas and such, and I just educate them. Honestly, if someone didn’t like me because I am jewish I would want to know where I stand with them.

      1. Former Hominid*

        Wanting to protect yourself from workplace discrimination DOES NOT mean you are ashamed to be Jewish ffs. I’m super happy for you that in your part of the US you never encountered the sort of workplace and overall harassment we Jews often receive in this country and at work, but as I and I suspect FurySaidToTheMouse need to work to gain money to live, sometimes not being super open about one’s background is the safest way to avoid having to switch jobs or getting fired. Under no circumstances does that mean they’re ashamed to be Jewish, come on!

      2. Siege*

        This is a fantastic response for someone already dealing with racism. You sound like a bully here.

        The first sentence is sarcastic and the second is absolutely not.

      3. FurySaidToTheMouse*

        I’m glad you’ve had a different and positive experience!

        I am not religious at all, but from childhood learned to expect weirdness when people learned about my Jewish identity. From teachers announcing it to the entire class why I would be missing school on a high holy day… to classmates throwing pennys at me and calling me greedy and money grubbing… to my first BF’s father (who was a judge for Pete’s sake) announcing that he hates Jews and won’t serve kosher food the first time I stayed for dinner (btw I never requested kosher anything).

      4. orchivist*

        this feels a little judgemental? there’s a lot of reasons not to be vocal about being jewish. Particularly if you’re mixed-race, there’s potential for weird stuff from non-jews (“oh, haha, no wonder you have so much money”) AND from jews (“welcome, have you ever been to synagogue before? you’re jewish? when did you convert?”)

        that said I am “out” about my judaism at work and always have been. I wear a kippah and I grew up in a community where there were enough jews that my public school gave jewish holidays off. I think growing up in an environment where being jewish was unremarkable-to-expected made me default to a position of “this isn’t something to worry about”. I can imagine if you didn’t grow up in an environment where judaism was a big part of your identity OR where you were encouraged to keep it under wraps, it’s easy to default to keeping it private.

        I also got my current job through a jewish job-training program and so did a lot of other of the employees (including the ED!) so it’s not a real question for me.

        I do think it’s possible for you to be like “hey, that’s not cool” without saying “and it’s because I, personally, am a Jew” if you want to retain that privacy but also stop people from being weird at you.

      5. On Fire*

        A Jewish professor I follow on Twitter recently was part of a thread about this topic. In their cases, it wasn’t about shame: it was about safety. The thread was basically, “who could I depend on to hide me, if it all hit the fan?” I don’t know if that’s the OP’s perspective, but it is *A* perspective.
        As a non-Jewish person in an area where Jewish people are few and far between, I’ve never had to think about that. But I do have a Jewish given name (long story) and have gotten some … looks when introducing myself to people who recognize its origin.

      6. Be kind, rewind*

        Whoa. There’s a huge difference between wanting to avoid discrimination and being ashamed of your background.

      7. WantonSeedStitch*

        Antisemitism has been on the rise in the U.S. recently, with acts of violence, hate speech, etc. increasing. You can google this and read about individual incidents and about the pattern. I would never tell someone who was concerned for their safety and the safety of their career that they were acting ashamed because of that concern. It’s great that you feel so warmly accepted wherever you go, but that is clearly not the case for everyone.

      8. Ellis Bell*

        You’ve read some of the recent letters from Jews who’ve experienced horrific discrimination though, right? Did you also see the part where the OP said they’ve already had comments? Your experience is not unusual, I hope, but it’s naive to think it’s the only one to be had outside Arabic countries!

      9. deesse877*

        I very strongly assert that this comment, which attributes antisemitism to Arab people but not people in the US is itself racist.

      10. RussianInTexas*

        That is great you’ve never felt any negative reaction about your Jewishness, but that is not all of our experiences, yes, US included.
        I will not volunteer my ethnicity (I am not religious) unless necessary.
        I am not ashamed to be Jewish, as I am not ashamed to be am immigrant, but those are things that people do and will discriminate based upon.
        So sorry not sorry.

      11. IDIC believer*

        It isn’t this simplistic. I’m an atheist and in the deep South. I’m not ashamed of and am actually proud of being an atheist but have been carefully selective of which workplaces I “out” myself. Any discussion is pointless – I’m not changing and neither are the believers. So at best they just add another check to my otherness, at worst I’m bombarded with religious crap. (Whether at work or in private life, I’ve never tried to convert anyone to atheism, but sure have been the target.)

    5. Roland*

      Yeah, I’m not religiously observant but I observe the holidays so it comes up casually reasonably often. Tbf I’m also Israeli which I’m not shy about, so even if I never mentioned taking the day off to cook for Passover or whatever, most colleagues could probably put together that I’m Jewish.

    6. Peanut Hamper*

      I’m not Jewish, but I am mixed raced Latino (Anglo father, Mexican mother). I pass as white all the time: I have an Anglo name, am pale skinned, speak perfectly grammatical English with no accent, and yeah…this happens. It sucks.

      There have been times I’ve come out and shut it down, and other times when I’ve stayed silent and just sucked it up because it was just a one time thing. I don’t think there’s really an easy answer here.

    7. Anonymishegas*

      I am, both because my name reads as unambiguously Jewish and because I happen to sit near several other Jewish coworkers and it ends up coming up in conversation pretty regularly (actually to the point that I’ve occasionally wondered if we should pare it back, but it’s mostly “how was your weekend” chat leading naturally into “oh, what did you cook for your Seder” or similar).

      I feel really fortunate that I’m in a region/office with a relatively sizable Jewish population and that I feel comfortable bringing that part of me to work. I don’t have any helpful suggestions but I’m so sorry that’s not the case for you.

    8. Camellia*

      …that he met in the house, “Let us both go to law…

      I memorized this poem a long time ago and now it’s running in my head again!

    9. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I have a very Jewish name, I wear a Star of David necklace daily, and I have some pretty identifiable Ashkenazic features. I’ve never hid my Jewishness. I honestly don’t know what I would do if I felt I had to, and I’m sorry you’re dealing with that. I do think you don’t have to say you’re Jewish to shut down those comments.

      I will say that I only felt comfortable being externally “out”, if that makes sense, at my last job. Meaning it took 20 years for me to feel comfortable crafting an out-of-office message that said plainly that I was out for Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur. I reached a point where I did not care what my clients’ reactions were. (Most didn’t have reactions beyond, “I hope you had a easy fast.”) I didn’t feel that way at a company that was mostly Jewish, including the president– I firmly believe he would have chastised me for that OOO, which is incredibly depressing.

    10. jj*

      Ooof I’m so sorry folks are making those comments! And I know you have the added burden if you do come out as Jewish of navigating people’s assumptions about Jews being “white” and all that entails. It’s not a fair spot to be in :(

      For me, I’ve always been out, but I also don’t see how I could have avoided it even if I wanted to. I have a magen david I never take off, I’m fairly observant so I take off for Jewish holidays, and I have a face that most people could clock as ethnically Ashkenazi (tho I am actually also 1/4 Sephardic). But I’m lucky to have always lived in area’s with a above average # of Jews and have only on rare occasions been the only Jewish person in my workplace.

    11. Inigo Montoya*

      I am out. I also have an ambiguous name. I don’t advertise but also don’t hide it.
      I was discussing raises for myself and my department recently with the CEO by phone (relatively small company and no one has had so much as a cost of living increase in many years and we are losing people because of it). The CEO, while telling me why he could not raise anyone’s salary due to company performance defended himself by saying “Look, it’s not like I’m a cheap Jew or something”. After a pregnant pause where I think he realized to whom he was speaking, he then said “or I should say cheap “. I admit I was stunned and did not respond.

      I am looking for new positions.

      1. Inigo Montoya*

        For some reason this was truncated. The last sentence of the paragraph should read:

        “or I should say cheap (insert other nationality/race here)”.

    12. In the Middle*

      I’m not Jewish, but atheist/agnostic and NOT out at work. I have said a few times, “Oh, I’m not Christian” but can easily pass. There are too many people who would take it as a mission to “save” me.

      1. Anonymishegas*

        This sounds horrible, and I’m really sorry you’re facing the threat of religious pressure from your coworkers.

        I do just want to note that, given the ethnic and cultural components to Jewish identity the way antisemitism manifests is somewhat categorically different, though of course neither is acceptable.

      2. RussianInTexas*

        I am an atheist Jew, and when people, who would not take “atheist” likely (you learn to know who they are), I fall back on “Jew”.

      3. I have RBF*

        Being any sort of non-Christian in an environment full of evangelicals Christians and being “out” about it is very often a fast way to get on the office “prayer and conversion list”. So I just don’t discuss religion at all, and take any holidays as PTO in that kind of place.

        It shouldn’t have to be that way, but there are some sects that see anyone who isn’t one of them to be a “soul to save”, no matter how disinterested they are. Those places can rapidly become full of bees if you aren’t very careful.

    13. Henry Division*

      Yep. It’s pretty inevitable when I have to take off for holidays and explain how serious I am that I will be nowhere near a phone/computer on the High Holidays. It’s gone very well so far, although it feels a little weird at my current job since I am not only the only Jew but the only person who has a good and meaningful relationship with any religion, but everyone is really chill about it. But I also have always lived in a big city where I am certainly not the only Jew co-workers have met.

      What in the world Jew comments are people making? Why are people making Jew comments at all?? That’s weird, and it’s up to you whether you want to address it head-on or just keep it to yourself for safety and/or career reasons. In either case, this should not be normal . . . I’m so sorry you’re in that kind of environment!

    14. ecnaseener*

      At least some of my team knows, but I’m not sure I’ve mentioned it in the last year+ so my newer coworkers might not know. I’m also from a mixed family, so it doesn’t come up all that often – people ask about xmas plans, I tell them my xmas plans. I shared my grandma’s latke recipe a couple years back when we were collecting “holiday season” recipes, that sort of thing that lets people digest the information on their own time rather than in conversation. I’m not worried about abject bigotry from my team, but would rather avoid the whole rigamarole of “yes, I’m Jewish and I have Christian relatives” “no, my dad’s side is the Jewish side” “no, my mom didn’t convert” “yes, I’m still ‘really’ Jewish even though my mom isn’t” “yes, bat mitzvah and everything” “no, I didn’t have to convert, either” “yes, American Reform Judaism has largely recognized patrilineal Jews for some time now” etc etc.

    15. ash*

      I am Jewish and not ‘out’. I think if someone figures it out on their own I’ll deal with it, but I haven’t been asked directly and don’t plan to volunteer any information. I do work at a Christian organization (in a support role, I’m not preaching or anything) – my immediate coworkers know I’m not Christian and don’t much seem to care but I have reasons to worry about it getting weird(er) if it gets out that I’m not just an atheist or something.

      I’m sorry about the comments, those are never fun.

    16. Philosophia*

      I am indeed. I spent the bulk of my childhood in a town with few Jewish families, where I was the oldest Jewish child in the public schools, so everything fell upon me first. My parents taught me how to meet anti-Semitism with my head held high. (In that time and place, at least we encountered no physical violence.) Now I work for a public institution that as a whole, loftily condescends to accommodate non-Christian holidays if they don’t pose an undue hardship for management, but in a unit that does so cheerfully. So in those years when I get around to baking any of the traditional Jewish holiday treats, I bring in a batch to share with my workplace.

    17. Super Mar 10*

      I’m Jewish, but not actively practicing. (And I consider myself reform, so even if I were practicing, it wouldn’t look like the way some of the other branches of Judiasm practice religion).

      My workplace is pretty tolerant of all backgrounds and religions. Although it was an amusing moment when last year, myself and another Jewish co-worker were the only ones that requested time off for Christmas.

    18. fhqwhgads*

      I am, but there are a lot of other Jews at my place of work, so it comes up naturally periodically. So and so made hamantaschen…someone looking for good vegan Pesach recipes…I swear stuff that isn’t about food…but yeah.

    19. Green*

      I am, but I have only worked in lower NY, South FL, and Northern CA – all places with enough jewish people that in general, people won’t make jew-jokes or jewish stereotypes (though people ARE surprised to find out I never liked the show Seinfeld and have never seen any Woody Allen movies).
      I will admit though, that I’ve always taken the religious pulse of each place I’ve worked before outting my religion – are people high up in the organization Jewish? Do people announce they’re taking Yom Kippur off? If so, I’m wearing my Star of David necklace to work.

    20. deesse877*

      Not Jewish, but have recently been genuinely shocked at a strong up tick in explicit antisemitism by the younger ppl I teach. Most seem to believe, or expect me to accept, that it isn’t really bad unless a Jewish person overhears, and are further shocked to discover that there is no such thing as “looking Jewish.” I don’t know what to do about it. Just wanted to affirm your experience and remark that these are DARK days we’re living now.

    21. Fran*

      I identify as Jewish at work, talk openly about it with my coworkers. Don’t talk to my students about it but wear a Megan David necklace. My Dean is Jewish which helps because I know not all faculties are as welcoming/I wouldn’t necessarily feel as safe

    22. .*

      I have been out to varying degrees in all the jobs I’ve held. My name is unambiguously Ashkenazi, but I’m not particularly observant. I spent a lot of time working in social services, where my coworkers knew I was Jewish, but generally clients did not. I didn’t lie about anything, but it was pretty easy for me to avoid talking about it. Living in a liberal area but rarely interacting with other Jews at work, being low-key about it was mostly a matter of comfort but every so often felt like a matter of safety. Thanks for asking about this. Navigating this is much more nuanced than many people realize.

    23. Anon for this*

      Yes, because I am Orthodox and wear a head scarf and take all the holidays nobody has heard of. That said, I recently started a new job and am just saying “religious holiday” and leaving it nonspecific for now because of a bad encounter or two at my prior job (they were in Open Threads, but I don’t want to connect them for reasons).

  11. Anon for this*

    Any tips on negotiating tenure track job positions? My partner just got an offer and he’s trying for a partner hire. I just got told that I was second on the list and that they would “very likely” make two offers, and asked about my startup package. My people are telling me to drag my feet giving them any firm offers until I have the actual offer in hand. I’d try to get a partner hire too if my offer materializes. These are both R1 positions in the US, and we’re both amazed because our PhD’s are not ivy league at all, we’re both underrepresented in the field, thought we’d never make it, etc. We were scrappy and persistent I guess.

    We’re both kind of freaking out about negotiating for the partner hire, plus other things. Any general tips? I’m happy but stressed.

    1. Anon for this*

      *My people are telling me to drag my feet giving them any firm *details on the startup package* until I have the actual offer in hand (oops)

    2. Overeducated*

      Congratulations! We were never even in the position to ask for a partner hire so this is untrodden ground for me, but it sounds very exciting and nerve-wracking! I hope something great works out for both of you.

    3. OtterB*

      If there’s a mentor / advisor / other faculty person you could consult with, I’d suggest that, because they might be more knowledgeable about your field and institutions hiring for it. But it needs to be someone relatively new in the field or someone known for successfully launching advisees, so you don’t rely on someone whose experience is with their own hire 40 years ago. Is there anyone you know from an organization that supports grad students from underrepresented groups?

      Congratulations, and wishing you the best of outcomes!

    4. Midwest Manager*

      First, congratulations on your successful search – to both of you! It sounds like you are likely to have two good options to consider, which is a great situation to be in!

      – Do not fret about not having an Ivy League PhD at an R1 institution. Many of the faculty I work with at my R1 aren’t ivy league, and they are some of the best in their field.
      – When you receive your offer, inform the department that you are interested in exploring a partner hire before making a decision on the offer. They’ll tell you if it’s possible in their situation (it may not always be possible).
      – Regarding your startup package, hopefully you’re familiar with what’s common in your field, and also what you’d need to get your research up and running. Many places have a standard package they offer incoming TT positions, but if they are asking what you are looking for, they’re likely waiting on you to respond so they can build the offer – dragging your feet will only delay the offer entirely. You can try countering with an inquiry about their standard package, thus building time for the rest of the offer to come together.

      1. Midwest Manager*

        Additional comment on the partner hire – in R1 institutions, partner hires are extremely common. Most tt offers we make in my department include some form of partner hire, it’s actually a surprise when we don’t have to put one together. Some institutions even have Provost-level support for partner hiring, to help offset the costs to departments that need to secure a top-notch hire.

        All of this is to say: It’s no different than negotiating extra startup, grad student funding, salary, or relocation. Just ask! They won’t think anything of it, other than “Can we make this work?”

      2. deesse877*

        Ditto on not worrying about your degree pedigree. It is actually very field- and even subfield-dependent as to what counts as fancy and impressive or not. Some Ivies have departments in the pure and applied sciences with extremely poor reputations, for ex.

    5. Bunny Watson*

      First, congrats on running the gamut! Tenure-track is no joke.

      As to your question, The start-up package will be part of the offer, so I think you will need to negotiate that to move forward and get the actual offer letter. At least that’s the way it works here. All of the details like salary, start-up package, lab space, etc. is all finalized through negotiating and then you get the offer letter that includes the details of what was negotiated. You should go ahead and ask about a partner offer as part of the discussions. As Midwest Manager states, this is super common. The only caveat to that is if your partner is in the same field, they might not be able to swing three positions if you’re already a second candidate. Still, no one will bat an eye if you ask what options there for your partner. If they are in a different field, the Provost often has funds to help cross-departmental hiring. Good Luck!

    6. PlantProf*

      Congrats! So exciting! As far as start-up, can you get at least a general ballpark by asking one or two recent hires in the department about theirs? I found it a lot easier when I knew my ask was in the same range as others had been.

      If you have a little money to spend, Karen Kelsky of The Professor Is In does negotiation consulting. You loop her into all the communications, she helps you figure out what’s reasonable and how to ask for it. My own negotiations turned out to be pretty straightforward but I was still glad I had her, it made me feel a lot more confident.

    7. Nesprin*

      Congratulations!

      Wait till you have the offer, then negotiate- ask for more than you think you need, make sure absolutely everything they’re offering is spelt out (office space, lab space, startup budget, teaching reqs, etc), and run it by your PhD pr postdoc advisor to make sure that you haven’t forgotten anything.

  12. Moonlight*

    At what stage of learning a new skill can you add it to a resume? I’ve been polishing my statistics skills and learning R to use in research or analyst positions in social sciences/ public health. Part of polishing my stats skills includes learning medical statistics, where my current background is social statistics. With R in particular, due to it being a technical skill and not just a knowledge base, I’m wondering how proficient I need to be to list it as a skill on my resume? My education was fairly devoid of technical skills, which is a travesty; not just cause it’s a disservice to me but because I initially trained as a psychotherapist and was shocked by the disproportionate focus on building a knowledge base, self-awareness, and other “softer” skills over teaching the technical skills like how to build an assessment interview, or apply certain therapeutic modalities. I sought my own modality training outside of my graduate program to learn that skill set. It wasn’t that technical skills were 0 in the program, i just expected it to be 50/50, not 90/10. Back on topic, I feel like this experience really drove home the need to highlight skills on a resume because never before had I been faced with feeling like I was missing critical skills for success that you couldn’t just pick up on the job without significant training, often on your own time. So I am learning R, like I said, and I am trying to judge how much I need to know and be able to apply (I have the means to do projects) to qualify it as a skill. For example, if I know the basics and would easily be able to scale it up to specific functions in a job, does that count? Or do I have to be fully “fluent”? This is my first time learning something like a (statistical) programming language, which I think is part of my challenge. For example, if I was listing French and Spanish (my second/third languages), I wouldn’t claim to be bilingual, I’d quantify my level as “basic Spanish” or “conversational French” – there’s more official words for my resume – and I should note that I’m also not applying for jobs that require me to be bilingual, but I live in a country with a lot of French and Spanish speakers so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that some kind of correspondence might come across where my ability to understand it would be good. Also, I absolutely do not list languages on my resume cause it’s just not a good use of space. So how do I represent R in a similar way? When do I add it?

    1. NforKnowledge*

      To my knowledge there are similar designations as your example of “basic Spanish” and “conversational French” in common use for programming languages. Searching forums like stackoverflow will probably get you some examples. I have seen terms like “competent” used

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      For jobs, spoken languages, they tend to ask if you are A1 or B3 etc from a language proficiency test CERF. It’s a lot stronger to be certified if you are hoping to work in both languages, job can trust you are the level you say you are and not wonder if conversational means something different between candidates.

      For coding languages, be prepared to be tested on the skill if it is a requirement of the job. Most jobs using coding skills will have a skill test or ask basic questions to see if you do in fact know it. It’s fine to list it as a skill but be prepared to back it up. Interviewers do tend to ask if self taught or took a course, for self taught especially they may ask if there’s a github with examples of your code or your own website etc. If you want to mention it but don’t feel comfortable listing it as a skill yet you can always add it to cover letter instead.

      In terms of when you should add it to the skills section, are you comfortable doing tasks in that programming language? If you didn’t know how to achieve an objective would you feel you could figure it out from google and trial and error in an hour or 2? If yes then add it. If no, then mention it as something you are learning currently, or something you can do a couple specific tasks in and hoping to learn more.

    3. hurdy gurdy*

      I hire for data analysts who know R! I would consider basic R knowledge to be: You can read in a raw dataset, examine it, figure out what transformations you want to do (eg aggregate data, do some calculations, join in a secondary dataset etc), execute those transformations, and then make some sort of visualization or summary table to communicate the results. At that stage you could put “Skills: R- basic” on your resume and feel confident that you have represented your skills correctly.

      Intermediate R would be getting into more complex data manipulation, doing more statistical inference and projections, and making more complex visualizations e.g. using RShiny. Advanced would be more into the data science end of R.

    4. LeftAcademia*

      That would strongly depend on the job you are looking for.
      Having a “programmer” mindset might be more important than knowing the exact syntax. This would enable you to switch to python from R if needed.
      I also agree that having your own projects to highlight can help.

      1. William Gosset*

        I want to expand on the previous two responses. Familiarity with R is required for a wide range of jobs that broadly fall under the category of “data scientist/analysts” but may have very different focuses. A more tech oriented job, even within the medical/public health domain, like working at a large electronic health claims data provider, might be more focused on your ability code and engineer software than to perform specific analyses in R. Such roles are often looking more for people trained as computer scientists/software engineers who are familiar with R and often python, because these people can handle working with large and complex data streams. These roles may be more focused on writing code for others to work with data than on doing analyses.

        On the other end of the spectrum are traditional pharmaceutical data analysts job, which may require proficiency only in R but are focused on doing specific analyses and require relatively little formal software engineering training. These jobs tend to also require a strong background in statistics or mathematics and may prioritize that over R coding ability, as the datasets are small and efficient coding isn’t necessary. Some may also require proficiency with SAS.

        Exactly what qualifies as proficient will depend a lot on the type of job you are looking at. Speaking with someone doing the type of job you’re interested in is probably the best way to gauge what counts as proficient.

        1. Engineery*

          Fully agree. There’s a distinction between being an R user and being an R programmer.

          You can get quite a lot done in R without ever learning how to write code that’s maintainable, deployable, or usable by others. That’s part of the point of scientific/statistical scripting languages – they’re meant to give programming tools to people who aren’t experts in programming.

          A job where you use R as a means to produce work product is very different than a job where your work product is the R code itself. In the first case, you’re a domain expert that just happens to use R as a workflow tool. In the second case, you’re a programmer, and the code you create has expectations of compatibility, quality, usability, etc. You need to know how to write, maintain, version control, deploy, document, and support software, both in general and in R specifically.

          If I’m hiring an R&D engineer, I expect them to be able to do a large amount of mathematical analysis, and if they knew R, I’d not be hiring for the R skills specifically, but for what they’re able to do with their R skills as an individual contributor.

          If I’m hiring for an R programmer, I expect them to be able to write quality software in R. That means I’ll hire a software engineer willing to learn R over a non-software engineer with years of experience in R.

    5. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      I’ve dealt with this by saying I’m developing competency with R and listing the things I can do with it currently. I’m actually in the process of trying to regain R competence after several years of hardly using it at all, so we’re in similar boats :)

      1. JobHunter*

        Likewise. I do have proof that I used it in the past (academic papers), but it hasn’t come up so far in interviews.

    6. Parenthesis Guy*

      I’d say at any point. If people are interested, they’ll ask you about it instead of just presuming it’s on your resume, so you must be an expert.

    7. Nekosan*

      For R in particular, my question as an interviewer is “What’s your favorite R package?” I’ve found a number of people who claim experience in R who can’t name a single package. (“Oh, uh, I just meant that I’ve *run* R scripts before, not that I can write them.”)

      I’ll second the “are you comfortable dong tasks in that language” metric for adding it to your resume. It’s fine if you google various bits, it’s not fine if you can’t write 20 lines of code even with the help of reference manuals and web searches.

  13. New Mom*

    Advice for after maternity leave please!
    I’m about to go back to work, and I’m starting to feel full of dread. I’m going back to a very understaffed department right before busy season. I’ve tried to get a different job and it has not been successful yet. Last year during busy season I was expected to work “until the job was done” but it was requiring 60/65 hours to only get most of the job done so it was very stressful.
    I will not be able to do the 60/65 hours so this year I anticipate even less work getting done, so there will be more angry clients, and more angry coworkers.
    How should I go about setting boundaries, and essentially not getting my job done when I go back? I’ve been very vocal about needing more people in the department but every year I’m told that due to “budget” they can’t. I worried, and since I did not set up appropriate boundaries in the past it’ll be hard to set them now.

    1. Marketing Unicorn Ninja*

      I think coming back from mat leave is a perfect time to set new boundaries!

      Every day, get done what you can in your allotted time and then leave. When things inevitably don’t get done and people are angry, say, ‘We are understaffed and I can only accomplish X amount in my work day. I can prioritize A, B, and C or I can prioritize X, Y, and Z, but I can’t do all of them, so we’re going to have to pick which ones get done and which ones don’t.’

      I can’t tell from your letter who’s telling you there isn’t money for more staff, but I would push back gently and firmly every time you’re asked to stay until things are done by just saying, ‘I can’t do that and we need more staff.’ Pass the pain of unmet projects on to whomever is above you to deal with.

      1. Tio*

        This. They won’t change until they feel the pain. it’s hard, because they’re going to push back on you an try and make it feel like it’s your fault, you’re not doing enough, you’re the problem, but you really have to set your mind to holding those boundaries. Try not to cave and work too much extra! Again, it’s really, really hard, and I would anticipate them guilting you, so start working on those walls and stay firm.

          1. Hatchet*

            If it works for you, I’d suggest using your family to help you set boundaries (much like the letter writer with the ‘romantic as a box of hammers husband’ from earlier this week) … “Sorry [not sorry] Boss, but the baby gets fussy if I’m not there in time to give him his dinner bottle at 6.” or “Sorry, but I’ve got to get home to make dinner/take over for partner/ other excuse”. You’re a new mom and have new responsibilities at home which are going to take priority and whoops! the flexibility you had before just isn’t available now for all those family based reasons. They can deal with it.

      2. EllieMae*

        Also agree. As long as you are doing everything to get stuff done, even working those unreasonable hours, the higher-ups don’t have a problem because you’re solving that program for them. They won’t change until it becomes THEIR problem.

        This is a corollary to the Can’t Fit 10 Bushels of Horse Manure into a 5-bushel Basket theory. Just let some spill out.

    2. Diatryma*

      You can try to reframe the job and its workload to yourself: working endless hours and harming yourself and your family will not actually complete the job. This isn’t a ‘don’t set yourself on fire to keep someone else warm’ situation; it’s ‘don’t set yourself on fire because they won’t be warm anyway.’ The return from leave is actually a great way to set up new boundaries, too– you have a Qualifying Life Event to get a new boundaries plan, yay!

      1. New Mom*

        Haha this is true! I think I just have anxiety about getting constantly chastised for not being able to keep up with the workload. I know it’s not my fault but upper management is not supportive and they will likely not be okay with me publicly blaming a staff shortage.

    3. Grogu's Mom*

      How has your company responded when you’ve tried pushing back before? That’ll guide how to act in the short term. In the long term, unless there is some magical big change in your department, you probably need to leave this job as soon as you can.

      A year and a half ago, I returned from maternity leave to a position that required very long hours (60-90/week and the occasional all-nighter) for about three months out of every year, and it had been that way for at least eight years. When I got engaged a couple years before that and knew I’d be spending a ton of time on wedding planning, I pushed back to say that I was happy to work 60 hours, but wanted to brainstorm ways to keep from going above that, and I was placed on a PIP for “poor time management.” To get out of the PIP (not being able to afford losing a job while paying for a wedding), I figured out that it wasn’t actually about my time management (which was fine), it was about the boss’s perception of my priorities, and I just lied and fudged to demonstrate that I was spending time on what they thought I should (while actually spending time on the things that actually needed doing) until they were happy enough with my work that suddenly “HR says the PIP wasn’t valid, never mind.” So I knew that it was not safe for me to be honest about boundaries or push back at all when I returned from mat leave.

      During my maternity leave we’d been called back into the office on a hybrid basis, meaning I now had 2-3 hours of commuting to look forward to on three days each week. I was pumping, and that took another 1-2 hours out of each day where I could sort of browse emails but not do any real intense work. I was mad about the RTO decision, so I’d already started looking and applying for things during my mat leave. I wasn’t the only one. Very shortly after I returned to work, two of my closest colleagues found other positions and at least 75% of the work from those two positions fell on my plate. Then, I was in the position of training the two replacements right as the busy season began. Fortunately, one of the positions I’d applied to during my leave (but wasn’t a match on salary/seniority) had another position pop up that was perfect for me, and I jumped. I did finish out the busy season just to leave on a good note (including pulling two all-nighters during my notice period).

      They made a counter-offer and oddly, it did not feel good to turn them down (partially because I had a new boss who was absolutely not responsible for this mess, and partially because I really did enjoy a lot of parts of the job since after all I stayed for eight years), but I have no regrets. My new job has almost zero overtime, incredible flexibility (it is still hybrid which is obnoxious but I can flex which days), and possibly the best boss I’ve ever had. It was a slight bump in salary, with worse benefits that offset that, but the hours change is amazing. I spend so much time now interacting with my little girl as she grows up rather than hearing her grow up from behind my closed home office door, and it is tremendously worth taking the leap.

      If I were you, I’d start applying for any job you think you might remotely take, just to start making connections. One piece of advice: I was brutally clear (in a breezy, polite way, not with all the detail above) in my interviews about the hours being the reason I was leaving my old job, and I think it was a good idea because any organization that backed off my candidacy because of that would not have been a good place for me.

      1. New Mom*

        Thanks so much for sharing this. Sounds pretty similar. I’ve been job hunting, and got to the second round interview with one place but no offer. I cried multiple times that weekend because that organization is known for it’s work-life balance and I was soooo disappointed.

        I’m actually worried about getting put on a PIP because our newish leadership seems pretty cutthroat about people being “negative”. And “negative” seems to be anyone that doesn’t immediately say yes to whatever is asked of them. That’s not how the company used to be but that seems how it is now.

        I’m still applying for places, and hoping that things will magically not be horrible when I go back but I’m pretty sure they will be.

  14. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    My boss is changing jobs and I’m pretty anxious. She says that she would like to take some of us with her,but I’m not sure I’d be able to do well in such an intense department.

    Her boss who is so intense she bothered my boss on a sick day to pretend we didn’t know how to do work would take over and I’d be pretty stressed out… What a curve ball. I really can’t think of any jobs I qualify for that wouldn’t be totally insane either…

    1. EJane*

      Oh that’s brutal. I’d be anxious as crap about that. Will the takeover be temporary or permanent?

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Temporary. They’d have to find someone to raise up a level. I can’t do it because* gestures broadly* but maybe someone else on another team would want the paybump and the resume boost…

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Bosses make or break jobs. I’d be tempted to go with good boss to new department. If it’s too hard/fast paced or whatever the issue is you could always transfer back or start the job hunt then…

    3. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

      If your current boss is a good boss, go with her. I’ve never regretted following a good boss. I have often regretted committing to a situation I knew would come with a sub-par boss.

  15. Pyanfar*

    I’m hosting the March Madness Bracket Challenge (US College Basketball Tournament) for our office. We want to offer prizes to the top finishers, but, have some limitations — no cash or gift cards, no paid time off. So…what kind of prizes would you like to get?

    1. NameRequired*

      Food is an obvious choice, but I would personally lean more towards something like bags of decently nice coffee grounds or other stuff that is more long term than a few donuts. Maybe stuff for people’s desks? Little fidget toys?

      1. Parenthesis Guy*

        I wouldn’t do food. Too many people have dietary restrictions for whatever reason. You don’t want the top prize to be something that the winner can’t enjoy.

        1. I'm Just Here for the Cats!!*

          The top winner could get lunch paid for and they could pick out what they want. That way there wouldn’t be issue with dietary restrictions

    2. JR*

      Goofy trophies are popular in my office for things like this. You can find them in thrift stores.

      1. Joielle*

        This is what we’re doing! One of my coworkers’ husbands apparently has a ton of bowling trophies he’s willing to part with and someone’s going to make a new nameplate for it. We’re brainstorming ideas to make the bowling guy at the top fit in with what our office does (maybe give him a themed hat, or turn the bowling ball into something else?). It’s been an entertaining little group bonding exercise so far!

      2. GrowthOpportunity*

        We have a repurposed trophy that the winner signs and dates. It’s a fun trip down memory lane.

    3. CTT*

      That really limits things – would paying for dinner be an option? Liked “we’ll buy you [and another person, if you can swing it] dinner at one of these restaurants.”

    4. Generic Name*

      My company has a not office challenge, so participants pay $5 per bracket and the third place winner gets their $5 back, second place gets $10, and first place gets the rest. The last place person gets the challenge named after then the next year. It’s all very good natured and all in good fun.

    5. Tio*

      One of the nicest swag I’ve gotten from a job was just recently, they gave us company branded phone charging pads (the wireless ones where it’s a circle you lay your phone on). Also power banks can be nice.

    6. mreasy*

      If you all are in the office, could you do a “lunch at X restaurant with your team / 3 coworkers / etc on date if your choice” paid for by company w max spend (but a generous number)?

    7. There You Are*

      My department is doing a 100%-optional bracket thing where you pay some amount to join (I think it’s $5?) and the winner gets the proceeds in the form of a free lunch at the place of their choosing, with the expectation that the lunch is a group outing.

  16. Moonlight*

    I’m autistic. This is an adult diagnosis and a fairly recent discovery – like the last 6 months or so. I am in the process of getting it documented for possible accommodation reasons. I am seeking my first job since this period of exploration and confirmation. I’ve been unemployed since last year when I graduated from my masters degree (part of it is that I intentionally took the summer off and planned to job search September onwards). There’s lots of ways I get pinned as “odd” and ways that it has caused (relatively minor) problems at work because I can miss social cues, focus on small details no one else cares about, and so on. I’ve been looking for some kind of autism/ADHD career coach to no avail (I also have ADHD). I’ve known about my ADHD diagnosis for much longer and was able to access resources that allow me to make use of some skills and avoid the negative impact of others (eg I’m super organized because otherwise, well…) and I hope to do the same with developing skills around autism. I feel like web searches crowd out a lot of specialist providers. Can anyone help with providing some links to resources or with tips and tricks?

    1. Generic Name*

      I would check out the Autism Self Advocacy Network. The have a section for accommodations at work. If you are under 25, you might also consider finding a therapist who specializes in treating young adults and is familiar with neurodivergent folks. Be very specific that you are looking for coaching and feedback on how you are perceived. Not all therapists take on a hands on approach (some just listen to problems and afk questions).

      I would avoid organizations that are run by neurotypical parents, frankly. Some of them seem to focus on “curing” or “fixing” their children, which is BS in my opinion.

    2. UKCoach*

      Are you in the UK, Moonlight? If so, I shared a link below – I am an executive coach, but not trained in this area.

      I would recommend you look at sites that show listings of accredited coaches – such as this one for adhd coaches https://www.adhdcoaches.uk/
      It is useful in their ‘about’ page that they describe the relevant accreditations to look for when selecting a coach.

      I also found lots of individual coaches specialising in adhd and autism when searching for – ‘ adhd autism coaching uk’.

      I would expect many coaches would now offer online coaching, so location may be less of an issue.

    3. BuckeyeIT*

      Have you checked out additudemag.com? I haven’t looked for that sort of thing specifically on their site, but have had success in seeking out other resources there

    4. Trauma Llama*

      I’m in a similar boat and will be following the replies here. I wish I had resources to share.

      As someone diagnosed recently in my early 40s, I can tell you that work cultures can vary dramatically from one team/company to another. Anecdotally, I’ve fit in well very with small engineering teams, and I’ve struggled a bit with highly extroverted sales teams. Trust your gut when you’re interviewing with teams, and the more people you can meet during an interview process, the better.

    5. Just me*

      Could you go back to your college/ university’s student services / career center and see if they have some resources? I have an employee who got a lot of helpful suggestions for himself and for me as a supervisor from his college as he was graduating and transitioning to our company.

  17. NameRequired*

    What’s your top advice for being in a physical office? I am working in an in-person office for the first time (all of my internships during college were virtual).

    What do you keep at your desk? How do you decorate it? What makes your day better?

    1. Susan*

      I’m not really into decorating my office, but a lot of people like to have pictures of their families.

      In terms of what makes my day better, I could not live without my electric tea kettle and tea collection. I am really into flavored teas, and having a variety of tea to drink throughout the day is really nice.

      1. Joielle*

        Definitely second the electric tea kettle if you’re a tea or coffee person! (And if you’re allowed to bring in your own electrical appliances, I guess.) It makes the day so much nicer to have actually hot water on demand.

        1. NameRequired*

          My office has a hot water machine thing that I can use, but varied teabags sound very enjoyable.

    2. Lady_Lessa*

      I like pretty things, so a picture or a nice calendar are things that I am looking at right now.

      1. NameRequired*

        A calendar is a good idea! Although I tend to do all of my actual scheduling on google calendar. I do like the idea of new pictures every month, maybe I should just get some and rotate them myself.

        1. Applesauced*

          I have a yearly calendar hanging up, but schedule everything on google cal.
          It’s useful because:
          – I mark deadlines in red, so I can easily see it have X weeks until that’s due
          -on calls if someone says “I want it by the 8th”, I can look up and see “ok, that’s a Sunday, let me clarify”

        2. Charlotte Lucas*

          I like my physical calendar because it’s pretty & makes it easy to look up days for deadlines, etc., easily.

    3. Not teenage but still ninja turtle*

      I think the main rule of politeness is to make sure whatever you have won’t affect others around you–no misters, scented things that spray through the air, mini inflatable Santas that sing jingle bells (side-eyes colleague…)

      What to keep at your desk:
      -phone charger
      -headphones
      -technology-safe cleaning wipes
      -clorox wipes/hand sanitizer
      -healthy snacks that are shelf-stable (nuts, protein bars)
      -Shelf-stable thing that can act as lunch in a pinch (a jar of peanut butter and a box of crackers, cans of soup)
      -Spare shoes (especially important if you commute. Wear the comfy ones on your commute, switch to the heels before your meetings)
      -Umbrella
      -Spare shirt if you’re messy
      -Mints and gum
      -A few empty folders if you have papers that need to be kept in physical copy form
      -A notebook to jot down notes at meetings
      -More pens than you think you need
      -Secret scissors. Keep them secret. Seriously, people will “borrow” your scissors so often, and you will never see them again.
      -Reusable water bottle
      -a few sets of plastic silverware, just in case
      -tissues

      How to decorate:
      -if you have a cubicle, the walls are likely designed for pushpins. Many people at my current company pin up fabric to act as wallpaper. It’s a nice way to add color and personality.
      -personally, I have a ton of photos pinned to my wall, but you may want to have space to pin important documents.
      -if you are a plant person, you can get small, easy-to-care-for plants like succulents. However, they need to be something that won’t die if they aren’t watered on weekends or holidays. Fake plants are great.
      -I recommend only adding one or two 3d items, and everything else (for me at least) is flat and pinned to the wall. This is so you won’t have anything collecting dust that you’ll need to clean. You already have to clean your home–believe me, you won’t want to have to dust your office space, too. Most office cleaners will only take your trash and clean common areas like bathrooms, so don’t rely on them.

      That’s all I can think of at the moment, but I’ll add more as they come to me.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I like pothos (devil’s ivy) for office plants–they’re hard to kill and can survive if you skip a week of watering. Plus they don’t mind fluorescent lighting at all. I have three from old jobs, one of which was a good 25 years ago, and I don’t even know how old the thing was at the time I worked there!

      2. Toasty*

        This is a great list! I would also wait to buy some of the nice-to-have items for your desk until after you start, since some offices will supply things like snacks, hand sanitizer, tissues, and basic office supplies.

    4. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

      I kept a few snacks and teabags at my desk. I personally liked having a fun pen holder to start. But I never really started out with a decorated space – just a single pen holder and a nice mug. The space became decorated as I accumulated things over time.

      If you have space, keep a spare outfit and some backup shoes. I can’t tell you how many times I spilled coffee on myself just before a meeting. Having the backup outfit saved me a couple times. As a female-presenting person I kept a dress that didn’t wrinkle and didn’t need a cardigan as my backup, since it was only one item of clothing rather than multiple (shirt, pants, cardigan). This was in a business casual office that leaned slightly more formal.

    5. rayray*

      I keep decorations super minimal, right now I just have a framed picture and in the past I have kept a couple Funko pops.

      As for other things to keep at the desk, I keep some little snacks like protein bars, microwaveable soups, oatmeal, gum, etc. I also keep a pouch with things I may need occasionally, like tampons, dental floss, eye drops, chapstick, a small hairbrush, etc. Good things to keep on hand just in case. I also have a throw blanket in case I get cold like right now I am sitting with it wrapped around me.

    6. Bit o' Brit*

      I’ve always kept a very small footprint at the office. At most I’d have a box of tissues on my desk, and maybe a box of teabags in my drawer. I’ve usually worked places where we take laptops home at the end of the day (especially after one office was burgled) so anything else I’d keep in my bag and bring it back and forth each day.

      Instead of decorating the desk I put calming images as my computer’s desktop background, so I can flip to it when I need a tranquil moment.

    7. GlowCloud*

      I don’t have an office job, but I keep a few spare Pot Noodles and cereal bars in my locker at work, so that I always have a backup lunch option if we’re out of bread at home, or I didn’t have time to put something together.

      I’ve also taken to keeping a small wash-bag that contains one full change of clothes – just a t-shirt, sweatpants, clean socks and underwear, that I can grab for a quick change if I get caught in a rainstorm (I work outdoors), or I have something to do after work (like Yoga class).

      Other small personal items I like to have available wherever I am – spare hair ties, hand cream, paracetemol, hayfever tablets, several pens, a pair of small scissors, a comb and a nail file.

      I also like to keep my own ceramic to-go coffee cup, instead of hunting around the cupboards for one of the communal mugs.

      These are the small creature comforts that just help my days go that little bit smoother.

    8. Rex Libris*

      Personally, I’d stay fairly low key and generic until you see how everyone else handles desk and office space, then use that as a guide. It varies so widely from office to office that it’s hard to tell ahead of time. I’ve worked places where half the desks had so many personal knickknacks that it looked like a rummage sale, and places where the management would frown at anything beyond one small family photo.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This, and if your office has long communal desks, there won’t be a lot of space for personal stuff.

    9. Dust Bunny*

      Desk: What do you need to do your work? Keep that on hand. I don’t need a lot of stuff so I have one or two silly things such as a T. rex skull staple puller (we don’t even use this kind of staple puller at my job; it’s just funny). A fun pencil cup or something, if you need it and have room, is nice.

      Decorate: What do you like and what does your workplace permit? I have a few oddball scenic paintings that I either thrifted or that were left over from my one college art class, but that might be too random/informal for some offices. I also have a list of phone numbers that I seem to need all the time. Right now it’s just taped to the wall but I could put it in a small frame to make it look nicer.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Our walls are otherwise an expanse of light gray, which is an OK color but . . . there’s just a lot of it. The pictures make it look less sterile.

    10. bellbell*

      I’ve just brought in a (fake) plant just to have a few signs of life. Because of the lack of sunlight I can’t have a real one, but maybe you can? Also gives you a thing to do daily to get out of your seat if you go get water and stuff. Keep in mind it should be a hardier (real) plant in case you don’t go into work for a few days (or make friends with someone who will water it for you!)

    11. Isben Takes Tea*

      I found I really reduced the amount of “decor” on my desk the longer I worked: it is *fascinating* how fast a desk gets dirty, and the more objects on the desk, the more annoying it is to try and keep clean (or move out of the way quickly in case of a spill!). I definitely liked adding things to my cubicle walls that made me smile.

      My #1 office advice is always leave the office on your lunch break, even for a 20 minute walk. I find it helps reinforce feelings of agency in an environment where you might feel you have very little.

      My #2 advice is make friends with the office manager. I did this by 1) asking questions about the preferred process for things, 2) attempting to fix paper jams in the printer first before asking for assistance, 3) saying “thank you” for everything they did for me, even if it was “part of their job,” like clean the coffee machine or ship packages.

      1. NameRequired*

        I have been trying to get out for lunch! Mostly to let myself actually disconnect from my work.

    12. New Mom*

      My advice is to go in and see what other people are doing. It might be weird if you show up on your first day with a whole bunch of decorations and then you find that everyone else at the office has a clear, blank desk.

      People at my office decorate so I have some pictures of my family and friends on a cork board that I have behind my computer.

      1. NameRequired*

        I’ve actually been in the office for a few weeks now, and the decor seems to vary pretty widely! Some people seem pretty minimalistic and others have a lot going on. I know I want to pin some stuff up on the board behind my computer but I don’t know what, yet. Pictures of friends and family probably? Maybe some art

    13. Beth*

      Set an alarm on your phone to go off a couple of times a day. Each time it does, get up and walk around for at least 5 minutes.

      You can do this at home, of course. But in the office, make it a habit from the start.

    14. GrowthOpportunity*

      The “must haves” at my desk are a phone charger, pen, paper, post-its, a box of facial tissue (doubles as an emergency napkin). A couple coasters so my desk isn’t covered in coffee rings. I am headache prone, so appropriate medication stashed in desk drawer. A nail clipper (for an emergency clip only!!!). Bandaids for “these shoes are not my friend today.”

    15. a*

      Definitely decorate slowly. Like first day, just take a notepad, pen and water bottle. You could leave those at the office and also add whatever supplies they provide. If many people also keep pictures of family there, start bringing in the next week. Scope out diplomas (yay or nay) and bring those in.
      Staying within the normal range and ramping up slowly should work well.

    16. Elizabeth West*

      I tend to stock my assigned desk like it’s my house, lol. But for basics, teas and a mug warmer, snacks, a plant or two, and something to look at besides my computer screen. If it’s a cube, I put up posters or a calendar with cool pictures.

      A small lamp with a warm bulb is nice if I’m in a corner or office that tends to be dark-ish. At Exjob, I had one of those basic ottoman footrest cubes from Target that opened up and I kept a small blanket in there for cold days — we were on the third floor with massive windows so it wasn’t always warm. Oh, and a hook to hang up my sweater/coat so it isn’t on the floor.

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

      Back in the 90s, Spy Magazine put out its Post Modern issue with paper cutouts to decorate your office accoutrements with the appropriate trendy PoMo sensibility. Such things as pyramids to accessorize your stapler, sleek covers for your scissors because you were “challenging the conventional narrative of scissors,” and other ironic and arch kitsch.

      When anyone ever mentions decorative their office, this is the image that I default to. Sigh.

    18. mostly lurking*

      I don’t have an office or cubicle so I don’t really decorate but I’ll mention a couple things I keep in my designated drawers that haven’t already seen mentioned:

      – Small nail clipper (I know nail clipping at your desk is generally regarded as gross—this is more for if you have a broken nail or hangnail that may lead to pain or injury if not tended to ASAP.)
      – Mouthwash (I got a mini travel bottle for when I’ve had canker sores to numb the pain for a bit, but obviously may be good if you get nervous about bad breath or similar.)

    19. Who Plays Backgammon?*

      I work near a big market w a floral dept., so I picked up a cheap vase and treat myself to fresh flowers weekly (desk/workstation allows for safe placement where vase can’t be accidentally knocked over). There’s always something colorful for under $5 and the florist will cut the stems to fit the vase. Our office has green plants throughout, but the flowers feel a little bit special.

    20. Been There*

      Snacks, mainly.
      I don’t really decorate, but I’ve found stuff tends to accumulate. Most coworkers will put up 1 or 2 picture frames.

    21. Glomarization, Esq.*

      I keep a very small collection of toiletries and care items: toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, lip balm, a few maxipads, band-aids, Kleenex. Also my own coffee mug and a stash of tea bags. A small spare umbrella in case the weather changes unexpectedly before I leave for the day. A couple of plants, a photo of my kiddo, and a decorative calendar.

      In my closet — or a tall cubby, in the days before I had my own office — I keep two blazers, a suit for court, and a few pairs of office-appropriate shoes, since I commute in sneakers or boots.

  18. Not your mom*

    I’m a year into my first management job, and I’ve been taken by surprise by the emotional neediness of my direct reports.

    I manage a 75% male team, union employees in a technical field. I’ve worked in this field for almost 20 years, and didn’t see anything like this in my previous jobs (at another branch of the same company, and a similar team at a different company). I’ve had multiple encounters in the past year with grown men crying in my office (not, like, sobbing, but emotional moments where I could see tears welling in their eyes), not to mention angry outbursts.

    There’s also constant complaining, much of it emotional in nature — e.g., it’s too hard to ask for help, they don’t feel like management values/cares about/listens to them, they’re afraid to speak up when they disagree, etc. They’ve even complained about being “bullied” when assigned to attend meetings that they don’t want to attend. I’ve received feedback that I should take more of an interest in their personal lives. This probably makes it seem like I’m a terrible, demanding ogre of a manager, but I’m incredibly frustrated by all of this because I put a huge amount of effort into being professionally supportive and accommodating, helping them solve problems, giving them professional development opportunities, etc. I know their basic personal information and have limited personal conversations with them like asking how their kid’s soccer team did or if they enjoyed their vacation, but I mostly stick to business conversation.

    I’m curious to know if this emotional neediness is normal or if this particular team is unusual. Maybe the other teams I’ve been a part of have been just as needy, but I didn’t see it as a peer, and now that I’m a manager and authority figure, I’m on the receiving end of that emotional neediness.

    1. Totally Minnie*

      Are you a woman/female presenting person?

      If so, it’s possible that these men are putting these emotions on you because dealing with emotions is “women’s work.” I’ve had past coworkers be upset that our female supervisor didn’t ask about their personal lives, but when that supervisor was replaced be a man, they never had the same complaint about him.

      1. Not your mom*

        Yes, I am a woman, and I often wonder if some of this is because, as a female authority figure, I’m viewed as being like a mother to them (and I do not have kids, so I am not used to being viewed as a mother!).

        1. No Tribble At All*

          It’s this! Since you’re a woman, it’s “safe” to have emotions around you!

        2. New Mom*

          This is what I was sensing when I was reading your post. I feel like what can be really unfair, is that women can be expected to take on a caretaker role when it’s not appropriate and then “punished” for not doing it. I’ve only had one job where I was interacting with mostly men, I was an English language teacher in South Korea and banks would send their employees to 1:1 English lessons as a perk. It was a male dominated field and it seemed like, in a lot of cases, I was the only woman they really interacted with outside of their spouse and/or family.
          I had so many students that treated me like a therapist (which I had no training in) and it was really emotionally exhausting because I’m an empathetic person and listening to people tell me about how difficult their lives were day in and day out was quite taxing on me.
          I was the only female teacher and when I would talk with my male colleagues, they were not getting emotionally dumped on. Occasionally if they had a strong rapport with a student, they might divulge some personal issues not the deluge that I experienced.

        3. Ellis Bell*

          Yeah I was expecting you to be a woman too. Because the men outnumber the women, they’re probably overdoing it with the female employees too. You really notice the burden of being agony aunt when the workplace is male dominated. I will always remember a dude who wanted me to help him feel better about his weight, apropos of nothing I’d said. I was just.. I don’t want to discuss bodies, thanks?!

        4. Maple Bar*

          Alas yes, this is a Thing. It’s also a Thing for a certain kind of man (and I feel these guys are extremely overrepresented in male-dominated fields where people in their roles get strongly catered and kowtowed to) to think that their feelings are the problem of the nearest woman. We have sort of a cultural tendency to treat women as being hyper-responsible for everything that happens around them, too, so some folks will bring stuff to a female boss that they would never bring to anyone else. Sounds like you might be getting a double whammy of that.

        5. Anonosaurus*

          In my experience, many men of all ages (but young men especially) do not realise that I, a middle aged woman, am actually a person with my own issues and concerns but think I am some kind of sentient vending machine dispensing attention, support and sympathy (aka their work mommy). I do provide these things sometimes and I don’t dislike these men as such, but it can be very tiring and demoralising. In my experience they have absolutely no awareness of this at all, and if one raises it, the response is heavily NotAllMen, so nowadays I just limit what comes out of the vending machine to conserve my energy.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        FIRST thing I thought of! I’ve never heard of a male supervisor being told to take more interest in their reports’ personal lives!

    2. NewBoss2016*

      I am dealing with a similar situation at the moment. I would say it is abnormal, but not uncommon. I have two teams that I am tangentially involved in the management of. They do the same exact thing. One team has had years of consistent and proper management, feels secure and appreciated, and are emotionally even-keeled. The other team has had frequent changes in management, has been left in the dark on big decisions, and given just overall inconsistent and confusing goals. They are extremely emotional, take things very personally, and are distrustful of change and intentions. In my case, I can see how the difference in prior management has lead to such a drastic culture difference between the two.

      1. Not your mom*

        That is interesting that you have seen such a big difference due to past management. I have often gotten the sense that my direct reports hold things against me that previous managers did before I ever worked here, just because they consider me to be part of “management” and therefore equally to blame for everything bad that “management” has ever done, even if I wasn’t personally involved.

        1. Antigone Funn*

          Even though you weren’t personally responsible for those things, whatever forces led the previous managers to do those things — higher-up leadership or the general office culture — might still be in effect. Which means, no matter what you are like yourself, you might still end up doing those same kinds of things because it’s out of your hands.

          This is especially true if the previous managers didn’t take responsibility for decisions (and to be clear, they might not have been empowered to!). Why would the workers see a manager as an individual with autonomous power, if they’ve been told/shown repeatedly that it isn’t so? If that’s how things work, “management” looks like more of a black box machine that spits out edicts than individuals who are accountable for things.

          I’m just speculating, but that may be why you’re hearing that management doesn’t listen. The workers give feedback into the black box and get nothing out. All the complaints you listed sound like a lack of empowerment to me. It might be worth investigating whether they have, or should have, more knowledge/autonomy/control in their day-to-day work. Maybe they wouldn’t care so much if you asked about their kid’s soccer game if they felt more in charge of their work. Or maybe they’re all, every one of them, just total babies. But I think NewBoss2016’s point about how management style influences the team’s emotional temperature is really on point.

      2. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        This is also incredibly helpful, thank you! Is there anything you’ve found that helps with the second group?

    3. BellyButton*

      This sounds like burnout. Have you spent time evaluating and analyzing work load and work distribution?

      1. Not your mom*

        Evaluating and analyzing workload and distribution for my team? I really don’t think burnout is the issue here, at least not in terms of workload, because there’s a case to be made that this team is overstaffed. Compared to the two similar teams I’ve been on, this one has significantly more staffing and less workload. They generally have 4-6 hours of work to do in an 8-hour day. They eat breakfast on the clock before starting work and routinely take 1-2 hours for a paid lunch break (they are technically only entitled to 30 minutes but I do not micromanage their time as long as they get their work done, which they generally do). Even though they almost always have a significant amount of downtime, they complain if they are asked to do anything over their routine workload (like attend an extra meeting) because it cuts into their time to play on their phones or watch YouTube videos.

        1. WestsideStory*

          The complaints about adding new items to their workload is in fact very high school teenage behavior! Do they pout, whine, drag their feet on the new chores, pretend they didn’t hear you the first time and tell you they’ll get to it later, and/or you they think it all isn’t fair?
          If so, they are trying the same things on you that they tried with their moms. It may not be conscious but they are projecting “mom” on you.
          Turning the ship around on these behaviors isn’t going to be easy, I’m afraid.

          1. Not your mom*

            Yes, they do sometimes pretend they didn’t hear me the first time and/or that they forgot if they are assigned to do anything beyond their basic workload. But if I remind them, they complain that I am micromanaging or even bullying them! It has been difficult to come into a situation where they are accustomed and feel entitled to a light workload because I look like the bad guy if I expect anything more. They are generally very experienced and good at what they do, but it doesn’t take much to rock the boat.

    4. Hlao-roo*

      I’m not a manager myself so I can’t tell you if you’re experiencing it at a higher frequency than other managers, but I know from family members who are managers that yes, managers deal with a lot more emotions than peers do. One was warned by his boss when he moved into a management role “you’re no longer their friend, you’re their boss and they will come to you with their problems and expect you to solve them” (or something to that effect) and sure enough within his first week as a manager, one of his reports came into his office, shut the door, and unloaded some emotional problems.

      1. Not your mom*

        Hmm, good to know… The other managers in my department were previously part of their own teams (i.e., most of their direct reports are former peers), and I know that can be an awkward situation — which I’ve seen from the other side, when my peers became managers. Since I came in from a different branch and I’m not managing anyone I worked with as a peer, I had hoped to avoid the weirdness of transitioning from friend to manager, but clearly that hasn’t been the case.

        1. Hlao-roo*

          I think there’s two levels of weirdness: the here-are-my-employee’s-emotions-about-work weirdness (that you get regardless of whether you worked with those people as peers before you started managing them) and the wow-I-never-knew-you-felt-that-way-about-[work task/coworker]-when-we-were-peers weirdness (that you only get when you change from being part of peer-peer dynamics to manager-employee dynamics with the same people).

    5. CheeryO*

      I’m also in a unionized environment in a technical field. I think both things can be true. If you’ve gotten feedback about needing to take more of a personal interest in your staff, then you should try to do that. It doesn’t need to involve a major overhaul of your management style. Popping around for the occasional pre-weekend chat or starting meetings with a few minutes of chitchat might be enough.

      On the other stuff, I think it’s perfectly healthy to draw boundaries. If someone is on the verge of tears, it’s fine to listen for a few minutes and then excuse yourself for a fictional meeting or phone call. It’s fine to tell them that they have to attend certain meetings, and that is isn’t bullying to require that. You can be a listening ear for complaints to an extent, but you should try to keep it productive and look for opportunities for improvements. If it’s just beating a dead horse, then you can look for ways to change the subject or wrap it up.

      1. Not your mom*

        I’m an introvert and not really into social conversations, but I recognize that some people are, so I do make an effort to make some friendly chit chat with my direct reports. Some of them REALLY like talking about their kids, so I make it a point to remember when their kids have big soccer tournaments or graduations or if I know they’re taking a family vacation and ask how the vacation was. Or if I know someone has a sick family member, I ask how the family member is doing. And so on.

        So I’m not a complete robot or anything, but honestly, I don’t have a ton of spare time to spend on personal chit chat. They are hourly workers who get paid for all of their time, but I’m salaried and work a ton of unpaid hours because I have more than enough actual work to deal with. If I spend an hour sitting around with them and chatting about their personal lives, I have to stay an hour late to do the work that I should have been doing during that time. And I often do sacrifice my personal time for the sake of friendly chit chat, but I have a dozen direct reports, and the time adds up, and I think it’s more important for me to spend my time supporting them professionally than emotionally. Does that make me a bad manager, and/or a bad person? That’s a serious question because that’s how it feels — that no matter how hard I work to make their jobs better, they are going to be unhappy because I am not meeting their emotional needs.

        As far as drawing professional boundaries, that might be something I can improve. They do like to dump problems on me, and again, with a dozen direct reports, a few problems per person really add up. If I can get them to put some effort into solving their own problems rather than expecting me to hold their hands, maybe I’d have more time to chat about their kids!

        1. Ellis Bell*

          No, it doesn’t make you a bad person or manager to not spend endless time on personal conversations. I think as long as you have some warmth and are approachable for serious concerns you’re fine. I think they just don’t have a great grasp of your workload or salaried demands. Maybe be available in the mornings, like a half hour coffee and chitchat and after that feel free to look busy, act busy, speak constantly of your busyness and glue your eyes to a screen when someone interrupts. Eventually they’ll get used to the fact you’re consistently available in the mornings if it’s something that can wait.

    6. Dust Bunny*

      That sounds miserable.

      My (woman, currently in my 40s but was in my 20s at the time) one supervisor job was like this but it was at a place that hired a) a lot of very young people and b) a lot of them were related somehow, so every little social hiccup had a massive ripple effect. I swear the reason I got the supervisor position was that I wasn’t related to any of them and didn’t get sucked into the nonsense. They were mostly fine people individually, actually, but I didn’t have the authority to tell them to knock it off and the person who did was part of the problem.

      Current workplace: One person out of four is a little prone to neediness but our supervisor, while nice, is not someone who invites people to lean on her (woman in her 40s) so it doesn’t get out of hand.

    7. Barbarella*

      Yes, this is emotional content, but … it’s also work content. People have emotions about their work. All of those things you mention are things that lead to burn out and employee turn over, which makes those subjects part of a manager’s concern. You don’t have to soothe their emotions, but you do have to address the problems, which are that it’s hard to ask for help, management doesn’t value/care about/listen to them (please take a moment now to reflect on that one and how it relates to your complaint that your direct reports are too emotional), and they are afraid to speak up when they disagree. Workers *should* be able to ask for help, be valued by management, and speak up when they disagree. If there are barriers there that you are able to address, then part of managing is removing those barriers. Perhaps your first step should be to stop calling your employees emotionally needy bc they bring work concerns to you.

      Managing is just telling people what to do. Managing is coaching and mentoring and taking care of the parts of your employee’s well being that are work related. Everything you listed is work related.

      1. Not your mom*

        The reason I am so perplexed about all of this is that I feel like I bend over backward to support them, listen to them, and help them. Every single day, I check in with each of my direct reports and directly ask them if they need any help with anything. I go out of my way to ask for their input on decisions that affect them, and explain the reasons for decisions when I make and/or implement them.

        Usually, their complaints about management “not listening” to them are related to not getting their way. There are many cases where 8 or 9 out of 12 agree with something, but the 3 or 4 who disagree complain that we didn’t listen to them. Or there’s an assignment that nobody wants to do, so the person who gets assigned to do it thinks it’s unfair. But instead of saying, “I disagree with this decision because…” or “I don’t like this assignment because…” they put it in emotional terms like, “You never listen to me!” or “You don’t value me!” They also have a tendency to be envious of other employees, both within and outside of our department, so if they see someone else get a benefit or reward, they complain about not feeling valued (the biggest example being that their job is not possible to do remotely, so they are mad that some employees in other departments can and are allowed to work remotely).

        1. Hatchet*

          ‘…but they complain that we didn’t listen to them.” – Unless I’m missing something, it doesn’t sound like your company is a democracy where everyone gets a vote (apologies for the snarkyness). I get that it’s important for employees to feel like they’ve been heard, but then beyond that, you get to make decisions because you’re their manager. Yeah, it’s easier to move forward with something when everyone’s on board, but when something has to be done, it has to be done. (“I hear you, but as your manager I’ve decided this…”) I don’t always agree with my managers, but I at least try to understand where they’re coming from or why an assignment I don’t particularly care for needs to be done. But their expectation is that I complete that assignment, so regardless of how I feel about it, it’s going to get done because those were my directives from my manager (period).

          As for the rewards, can you explain that those are for above and beyond and it’s evaluated by X, Y, and Z…and if they want to go above and beyond to talk to you about a project that can accomplish that? And that it comes after their base work is done. (As I can see some of them thinking that not complaining about one disliked task may qualify them for a reward.) I agree with Tio’s suggestion below about asking them for a way to change a process.

          As you describe their unhappiness at being asked to do certain tasks, part of me wonders if you need to go back to a grade school level of tracking or rewards… Like put their names on popsicle sticks in a jar and when someone volunteers (or is voluntold) for a disliked task, their name is pulled from the jar and they’re safe until it’s their turn again. I would say something about rewards for the the needing to watch videos or complete trainings for work, but that’s not a “need a reward” thing… that’s a “you do it so you don’t get in trouble or get a bad mark on your evaluation” thing. Maybe you can clarify/remind them of those expectations… Good luck

    8. Tio*

      Wow, that is not normal. I’ve only once had a direct report cry in front of me and it was because someone had died. (I did see a manager cry in meetings before, but she had a bad reputation for that kind of thing, and was not well respected.)

      I don’t think taking an interest in their personal life would help. It sounds like their complaints about management are what they’re crying about, yes? If so, maybe you could ask them to each come up with one specific process they want changed and their suggestion for how to change it. Is it workload? Assignments? Something else?

      But if they’re complaining about being bullied by being made ot attend meetings, you need to firmly tell them, “this is not bullying, it’s a job requirement.” You can ask them if anyone had been rude or mean to them in the meeting specifically, and address that if it is (and point out if it isn’t) but attending a meeting is a normal thing

    9. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      I literally can’t imagine a scenario in which I would want my manager to take more of an interest in my personal life. Much less to the extent that I would present that as feedback. Good lord.

      1. Not your mom*

        I know, right?! I’m like you — I don’t like it when people at work are nosy about my personal life — but I realize that some people are more social and feel a need to make a personal connection with people at work. I do have some direct reports who don’t seem to want to discuss their personal lives with me (there’s one guy I didn’t even know had kids for the first 6 months I worked there because he NEVER mentioned them), so I don’t pry, but I also try to accommodate the ones who love to talk about their families.

    10. Anecdata*

      Most of what you mention seems like “too much” eg. Being asked to attend a meeting is bullying???

      Do you have any insight into how the team worked before you joined and how their previous manager was? If people have unreasonable expectations (never attend a meeting, several free hours per day, 2 hr lunch regularly ok instead of the scheduled half hour), you will get a lot of pushback even though what you’re now asking for is perfectly reasonable.

      The one thing I would reset your expectations on is the tearing up — as a manager, I wouldn’t consider that a particularly emotional reaction (and sometimes people just tear up easily) especially if they’re able to still have a productive and logical conversation about something (or even occasionally need to ask for time to think about an issue and talk about it later). Depending upon how many reports you have, if “several times a year” for you translates into “once or twice a year” an individual employee teared up a little, that doesn’t sound overly emotional to me.

      1. Not your mom*

        It’s not the tearing up per se that concerns me (I won’t pretend that I’ve never had an emotional reaction to something at work), but some of the reasons. An actual example is that during a department meeting, my manager praised some employees for their involvement in a successful project and gave them shirts with the company logo, and months later, another employee got teary-eyed when complaining about not feeling valued because of the time my manager came in and gave company shirts to other employees but not to him. Another employee got teary-eyed when talking about getting paid less than other employees… because the union contract dictates their pay and he is lower in seniority than the employees who are getting paid more.

        I know the manager I replaced (I worked with her at a previous job), and I’m Facebook friends with her; she quit the job and moved across the country and over a year later, still regularly posts on Facebook about how glad she is that she left her toxic job… But then, she has always been a bit dramatic, herself. The manager before that stepped down into a non-management role, ostensibly to spend more time with her family. So that probably says something about this team.

    11. EmotionalDumper*

      I was one of those emotional employees (still am to some extent). I had a toxic boss for about 6 years before my recent boss started. I dumped on her for about a year and that has tapered off the farther I get away from the toxic situation. I’ve also been seeing a career coach who has helped me remove some of the emotion from my work day. Maybe this will ease off over time, especially with the more self aware employees.

    12. Hiding From My Boss*

      Merciful heavens, are you sure you aren’t working in a daycare? Because it sounds like you’re surrounded by overgrown babies! You sound like the kind of manager I wish I had. Where I work everyone is so into everyone’s personal life it’s hard to maintain personal privacy without looking like you aren’t “one of the team.”

    13. Anon. Scientist*

      This is late so you may not see this, but it’s really common. I have a group acknowledged to be challenging and I’m working on being consistent and very clear about what I can and can’t do, and delivering on what I actually can do.

      I’m an introvert and intrinsically not a social person, but I am very warm and I make it a point to set aside time for 1 on 1s where I focus on the person. We’re still stuck on some intractable interpersonal issues mostly around someone being correct/right/the “good guy” (and they’re all guys) and being absolutely impossible about it. But because I’m fundamentally not interested in getting drawn into drama, I think it serves me well to navigate this stuff.

      At least in my group, it’s all the men who are well established who are super emotional/needy. The young men are scared of me and the women are… well, I have young women who haven’t left the industry yet and a single woman with more than 1 year of experience. I’m working on retention and I’ve improved it to the point where women feel really bad (like, come in, burst into tears and then I know they’re resigning) when they leave.

      Sorry, lots of digressions. But trying to be an effective female manager in a male dominated industry is tough.

      1. Not your mom*

        So it’s not just me… I’m surprised because I have been part of teams like this for years and didn’t see this level of emotional neediness in my peers, but it has occurred to me that maybe I just wasn’t aware of how my peers interacted with our managers. Plus, more than 90% of the managers I’ve had were men, so if the manager’s gender is a factor, maybe that’s also why I haven’t seen it. I knew being a manager would be harder than it looked, but this was something I was not prepared to deal with!

    14. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      This is super late (I’m in Australia) and you may not see it, but I wanted to say thank you! I’m a female manager and I had sort-of noticed this with my male colleagues, but because it first presented in a really horrendous situation with one male and one female colleague, I hadn’t articulated it in this way, or this clearly, and had basically just kept feeling like I was doing something wrong. This comment & the thread have been incredibly helpful to me. (And yes, I will keep reflecting and seeing what I can do better, but… the idea that the angry outbursts and accusations of “bullying” for assigning completely normal work duties are… not necessarily because I am a terrible manager, is very helpful.* Thanks!)

      *fwiw my own boss agrees that I am not a terrible manager and that the things being described as “bullying” are not bullying (to the point where they are explicitly listed as “not bullying” in our anti-bullying policy)

  19. Millie Mayhem*

    There’s a new position open at my organization that I’m really interested in. It’s in a different department and under a different supervisor, and is not even remotely related to what I’m currently doing (although I do have some relevant experience). On paper, this role is the exact kind of thing I would want to do longterm, and I don’t know when another opportunity like this will open up at my company.

    I spoke to the supervisor about my interest (he and I have worked together in the past, and he’s kind of a mentor to me) and he encouraged me to apply. The problem is that I would need to go through HR to do this, and the HR Director is my boss.

    I like my boss and we have a pretty good rapport, although I don’t feel like we are the best fit for one another. I’ve also only been here for a year, and I am the only person in my current position who does what I do. To make matters more complicated, I’m pregnant and will be taking 3 months maternity leave at some point this year (which my boss and this new supervisor are both aware of).

    I really, really want to apply for this position, but I’m struggling with feeling guilty/uncomfortable about trying to move to a new role when I’ve only been here a year. I also feel bad about the timing of being pregnant/maternity leave, although I also know in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter… although realistically, it kind of does.

    I have no idea how I should proceed. My company is historically supportive of people moving into new roles, but I’m feeling really anxious about doing the wrong thing here. Should I give my boss a heads up I want to apply? Should I talk to our HR Manager first? She is my peer and we both report to the HR Director. I imagine in most cases, internal applicants would speak to her first.

    I don’t want to mess this up and want to handle this the right way, but don’t know what that way is. Help!

    1. Moonlight*

      Could you talk to your boss and let him know that you like you’re job and you’re not actively looking to leave, but that this looks like an interesting opportunity to explore but that if it doesn’t work out it’s not like he needs to worry about you otherwise trying to leave?

      1. Millie Mayhem*

        Thanks, I think I can do this! And it’s absolutely true, even if this doesn’t work out I wouldn’t want to leave my current role.

      2. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

        This is the tack that I would take. “I’m overall pretty happy in my role and not looking to leave, but this feels like such a golden opportunity that I just have to throw my hat in the ring.”

    2. ferrina*

      This is a really sweet question, and you are being so considerate about this. Go ahead and apply. Talk to your boss as you submit your application- you want your boss to find out before your peer (since he’s going to find out anyways, and you want him to find out from you). Say “I know the timing on this is really weird, but this position is so exciting that I couldn’t pass the opportunity by!”

      Acknowledge the awkward, then work with your boss and your mentor on the best way forward. This is going to be a bit weird for a while, as you simultaneously plan to get the job and to not get the job. Do make sure you keep your mentor in the loop, just as a CYA in case your boss does do something weird.

      1. Millie Mayhem*

        Thanks so much, I appreciate your input! I love the way you worded it too, I’ll have to keep that in mind when I bring it up.

    3. MouseMouseMouse*

      As someone who’s had a lot of 15-month roles at a large bank (and a lot of upward movement thanks to it), I think it’s more common than you might expect to move after a year! The key is how supportive your current manager is of the move. If you feel your manager won’t freeze you out for just looking, you can totally say something along the lines of “I’m not actively looking to leave, but I wanted to try applying to this role to see what would be expected of a successful candidate in the role, since I’m interested in moving in this direction in the future.” They should be supportive of how proactive you are to develop your own career, if they’re a good manager.

      In the past, I’ve had managers who knew I was outperforming and thus were actively supporting my move because they knew they couldn’t give me the promotion they wanted to give. For managers who were less supportive but still liked me, I would often spin my application as “a rare opportunity opened up in a field of interest, but I’m SURE I’m not qualified, I’m just applying to get experience on what it’s like to interview for the field.” And for one manager who hated me, I applied while she was on vacation. I got the offer while she was still away, so when she returned I told her I was so very sorry but I couldn’t tell her since it all happened while she was away (true). She was PISSED, but couldn’t do anything about it. However, I only recommend this last option as a nuclear one — other times you almost always want to give your manager a heads-up about it.

      1. Millie Mayhem*

        Thank you! It’s a weird feeling, in some ways it seems like I haven’t been here that long. I don’t *think* my manager will freeze me out just for being interested, but I like your suggestion of how I could approach it with her!

        Also it sounds like you did the right thing by applying for a position while that one manager was on vacation haha. Yikes!

    4. Numbat*

      I often ask myself, “would a mediocre middle aged white man feel bad about this?” And if the answer is no I just give myself permission to not feel bad either. Feel free to take that same attitude into your own life if you find it helpful.

  20. Noname*

    So I am basically looking for advice on how to decide on a pretty fundamental PhD/job decision. For more detail on the jobs see first comment. How do I decide? Does anyone have a good technique on how to map pro and cons (bc both have a good mix of those)?

    1. Noname*

      i have 2 PhD positions on the table both at independent research facilities (so PhD would be in cooperation with a uni, not under the prof directly).
      One has a grant and put out a bunch of job ads so i applied normally. It can be done remotely (and i would not want to move to that part of the country) but they also mentioned that bad performance could require coming in more often. It would mostly be programming (which i have not that much experience, but they have had people coming in only knowing a little coding before and the background topic i would integrate into their model i have a lot of knowledge on), pretty structured and limited to 3 years (without penalty if things just go very wrong and that’s why you finished less tasks in the 3 years than originally planned).
      The other one i applied to on Initiative (and they called back not even 24 hours later), so funding would still have to be figured out (but they had a bunch of ideas). They did say it usually is longer than 3 years, but if you go past the first 2 you are fully funded until the end (and also…it kinda depends on your own motivation to finish i think). The work would be more lab-based but potentially very close to industry (big plus) and they have a bunch of side topics were i could develop my skills in looking at the whole system. Also it is flexible hours and location wise and in the town i want to be in. So both sound good and i need to make a decision by Monday…

      1. LadyB*

        Not an academic, but I do work at a university.
        It sounds like you’re favouring the second one (although you’d want to have confirmation of funding). However, two other things that you might want to consider:
        – your potential supervisor can make or break your PhD experience both in terms of support and also exposure/profile
        – what are your ambitions for after successfully completing? which option sets you up best for after that?
        Best of luck whichever you choose

      2. Hanani*

        With the caveat that I’m in the humanities rather than the sciences (which it appears you are), I highly recommend that you only do a fully-funded PhD. The second one makes me nervous in that they have ideas and want you to commit by Monday, but no firm funding.

        But ultimately, which one is going to set you up for the next step? You mentioned being close to a big industry as a plus, and learning coding as a plus – which of those is easier for you to find on your own/in the other program?

      3. Emmy Noether*

        Be very careful about the funding. When I was looking for a PhD position, I interviewed with several who were extremely enthousiastic, and had sooo many ideas for funding… and then the funding just never materialized. I also know others who got strung along that way. I ended up taking the one that was with people I already knew, and that had a Marie Curie grant for funding, even though it was remote (the remote part admittedly wasn’t ideal in the end). The Marie Curie fellowship part was awesome though, as was always having more than enough money for travel and equipment.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Two decision techniques you may be able to use:

      1) Pretend you’ve chosen one of the positions (or flip a coin to decide which position you’ve “chosen”). How do you feel? Excited? Regretful? This is a good way to feel which way your gut is leaning.

      2) Map out your values in life. What is more important to you, both in general and specific to a PhD position. Being able to work remotely? Studying X topic? Finishing in 3 years? Rank your values/desires in order from most important to least important and then look at which position has more of the most important things.

      1. Noname*

        Thanks! I think i am getting a bit bogged down on the next three years instead of focusing on the long-term goal…

    3. Moonlight*

      Are you looking to do a PhD?

      I think for me it would come down to if it would benefit my career. I already have a masters degree so the bar to “I genuinely need this for my career”, is, frankly, high. But the kinds of jobs I do frequently (if not exclusively) require master degrees, and it is not common but also not unusual for it to say “a masters required, PhD is a nice thing/preference” and many people in my field have PhDs. Tbh, I think part of it is that it’s a field that is uniquely well suited for people with PhDs in things like sociology or history but who don’t want to be academics: so it’s that and NOT that you actually need a PhD to be successful. These are the things I considered when I was determining if I’d get a PhD or not: I ultimately landed on “maybe someday but I’m going to work right now”. I hope my example helps.

      1. Noname*

        Thanks for the example! I have already struggled for a while with the question if I even should do a PhD.
        I am in Natural science and not in the US but a European country where PhD is still very expected for my field. I have thought about just continueing what i am doing right now (policy work, where the technical knowledge does come in handy) but ultimately for what i would like to do in 10 or 15 years a PhD would be useful.

    4. Anonymous Koala*

      So I have no experience with non-traditional, independent PhD positions, but based on my very traditional R1 academic PhD experience, here’s my advice:
      1. Do not do your PhD remotely. A PhD is not like a job – you are not being hired to do XYZ thing that you already know how to do. You are being trained to be an expert in a tiny, specific corner of your field, and that training will come from many people, not just your lab or your advisor. Some of the most important lessons came from being in the room while senior students were working, going to lectures in related departments, staying behind to ask guest lecturers questions, and hanging around before class and asking my batch mates what they were working on. It’s almost impossible to do those things remotely.
      2. Do not pay for your own PhD. There are some exceptions to this (if you’re working FT and using your work for your dissertation, for example). But in general, you want to work with a professor who believes in your work enough to fund it, and who is (at least somewhat) motivated to help you graduate so they can stop paying you. My program had both self-funded and fully-funded students when I started, and the self-funded ones were completely short-changed before the Dean stopped allowing self-funded PhDs.
      3. Expect your PhD to take a bit longer than you thought it would. Almost everyone I know across many different fields took an extra year or so to finish their dissertation.

      1. Anonymous Koala*

        I should add that my experience was in the US! I know Europe handles doctorates a bit differently (no classes, etc) but I think most of this still applies. Good luck!

  21. INFJedi*

    Hey guys, need some advice on writing a motivation letter for a job application.

    Because of a (non visible) disability, I’ve only ever done volunteering work since graduating in 2016 since it hasn’t been easy finding a job that is feasible with my health (not for lack of trying to find a good job, the amount of vacancies I saved on my computer) and also because I wanted to make sure of the legality of my status as a person with a disability as I didn’t want to lose it if my health forces me to stop earlier. Besides that, the pandemic didn’t help either in my search.
    But I’ve always wanted to try to do my part. So after finding the necessary information and support so that I won’t be losing my legal status as a person with a disability in my country (not USA), I have learned that there is a financial safety net for me if I end up quitting sooner than expected because of health reasons.

    So with that out of the way, I’ve been searching for a job in domains I like (copywriting, digital communication consult, Social Media manager).
    However, there is a job vacancy that’s only 30% (of the normal 38/40h work week in my country) that is for front-desk admin at a university library. The thing is, while this is not my dream job, this does look ideal for me: nice work-home transport, only 30% (50% aka 20h/week is the max that my doctors advice) and I can see myself doing that job for a couple of years with ease. (And honestly, it would be very easy to plan my medical appointments around as well).

    The point is, how do I show my motivation for a job that is only 30%, not in my field but nevertheless I know I can do, without looking desperate or too enthusiastic (which might be seen as fake?)

    1. Alex*

      Is there anything you would enjoy about the job? A skill you think you are good at that you can leverage? It helps if you can point to a reason you’d like the job beyond “it’s convenient” but it doesn’t have to be an earth-shattering reason. Say why you’d be a good fit for this job, and you can note, without going into health issues, that you are looking for part time work for personal reasons. For a front desk library job, saying you enjoy working with people, organizing, etc., would probably be fine.

    2. Rosyglasses*

      Something that a coach told me recently (as I was struggling with what I want to do next career wise) was find the thing you’re excited about, and it won’t really matter how excited you are about the job specifics. So maybe you really enjoy helping people (for example). Focus on your excitement and story about that and then it doesn’t have to be “I’m super excited to work front desk at a library”.

    3. ferrina*

      Most of your cover letter will be about what you can bring to the job- in most of my cover letters, I spend maybe a sentence or two (if that) saying why I want that job. The enthusiasm comes across in my saying why I would be a good fit (a clearly tailored cover letter will always underscore your excitement about the job).

      Is there anything in your work history that would make this feel like an odd choice? Remember, they don’t know what other jobs you’re looking at. They only know what’s on your resume and cover letter.

    4. thegirlintheafternoon*

      I have both been an admin and hired for them, and I help write a lot of cover letters in my field. Here are some tips I’d recommend:

      1) Include a line that specifically addresses being glad the job is part-time (otherwise they likely will wonder if you’re truly okay with that). Something as simple as “I’m looking for part-time time work, so the 30% schedule makes this role especially appealing” can do a lot.
      2) Focus on the skills that good admin support need (customer service, attention to detail, ability to handle multiple tasks, etc.) and speak to how you would offer those.
      3) Also mention what aspects of admin work appeal to you (the ability to interact with the public, make processes run smoothly, have varied tasks come across your desk, etc. – whatever these are). This is often the biggest issue I’ve seen in admin hiring. A candidate will apply for admin work and at some point will say something like “well, I don’t mind doing it.” It’s fine if that’s true! But being able to positively articulate parts of the job that you’ll find actively fulfilling is a great sign that you both understand what the work is and won’t be immediately looking to leave if you’re not given high-level tasks. (For example, when I interviewed as an admin at a university after leaving my Ph.D. program, I specifically mentioned how much I enjoyed the organizational work I had done in my previous programs and that I found the tangibility of many administrative tasks to be enormously satisfying.)

      None of this has to be framed as “this is my DREAM job and I would run over glass to be given this chance.” Just demonstrate that you understand what the job is, have a genuine openness to the work, and offer the skills they’ll need.

      Good luck!

  22. Sleeveless tops in the office?*

    I recently started a new job at a corporate office with a business casual dress code. Jeans are allowed but people tend to dress them up a little with collared shirts, nice blouses, etc. There’s also a mix of dressier clothes – dress pants, blazers, even a skirt or dress here and there. There is no formally documented dress code (I asked). With spring and summer approaching and me being a woman at a certain stage of life, I’m wondering if sleeveless tops would be acceptable without being “shocking” to anyone. It feels wrong to add this caveat, but unfortunately, it might matter: I’m plus sized and my arms are large and not toned, but they are not misshapen or shockingly large. I do stay tan in the warmer months, which I feel makes my skin overall look smoother and a little more toned.

    Would dressy sleeveless tops (not tank tops) that don’t expose my bra be acceptable? What about tops with tiny cap sleeves that cover the shoulder but still leave most of the arm bare (I have a few of those)? I understand I can wait and see what others wear, but I’m just looking for a consensus on general acceptability in offices.

    1. MouseMouseMouse*

      In my business casual office, sleeveless tops are definitely okay. I would recommend choosing tops that look dressy and professional (think details like solid muted colours, pleats, tasteful ruffles, etc), and making sure the shoulder part of the top is wide enough to cover your whole shoulders — absolutely no spaghetti straps!

      1. MouseMouseMouse*

        Also just want to add that in a healthy workplace, nobody’s judging how large and toned your arms are. So long as you’re dressed relatively on par with other colleagues, the look of your body won’t matter. Obviously this unfortunately doesn’t apply to all workplaces, but just to set healthy expectations at least with yourself!

    2. Hei Hei, the Chicken from Moana*

      Unless you are in a very corporate/stuffy environment, these are all fine. Regardless of the shape of your arms!

    3. Cookies For Breakfast*

      My experience in business casual offices is that dressy sleeveless tops and cap sleeves are fine. The word “dressy” also suggests to me the equivalent of the “nice blouses” you mentioned for other seasons (or at least, that’s how I’d think of it looking at my own wardrobe).

      Saying that, I’m not a native English speaker and hope I’m not missing some nuance in the wording. Wishing you a comfortable spring and summer!

    4. ferrina*

      You’re probably fine, but you can also just wait a bit and see what other people are wearing. If you’re still unsure, try wearing a sleeveless dress- the dress can feel fancier than a top with jeans, and you can test the sleevelessness.

    5. Ginger Baker*

      This is 100% of my work tops wardrobe. I keep a cardigan (and a blazer for when I want to Feel Fancy) at my desk; if I feel like I need something very slightly more formal I can toss that over my top. I work in a BigLaw firm so definitely not a Graphic-Tees level environment on the casual scale :-) and sleeveless tops [for women] are a non-issue.

    6. Dust Bunny*

      Sleeveless sounds fine in this context.

      (And your arms are your arms. One, they sound very normal and two, if somebody doesn’t like them they can ignore them.)

    7. GlowCloud*

      I’d say that sleeveless tops should be absoloutely fine – I’m picturing like a cotton blouse with a collar, without the sleeves.

      But it sounds as though you’re not asking whether sleeveless tops in general are office appropriate, but whether your body is appropriate for the workplace. I’m sorry that you’ve been made to feel self-conscious about showing your arms in a situation where you shouldn’t have to think twice about it.

    8. RagingADHD*

      Yes, they are fine. The size, tanned-ness or toned-ness of your arms is only relevant to how you feel. It has nothing to do with the appropriateness.

      Totally fine.

    9. Jaydee*

      Professional sleeveless tops/dresses with a coordinating cardigan or blazer pretty much describes my entire warm weather wardrobe. I’m not quite to menopause yet so no sudden personal temperature changes, but our office HVAC is centrally controlled on what appears to be a seasonal schedule, so layering is a must. I’m also a larger woman and a little self conscious about my chubby upper arms, but have never had anyone say anything if I took off the cardigan or blazer on a warm afternoon.

    10. The teapots are on fire*

      I would keep a neutral blazer or dressy cardigan for meetings and rock the sleeveless top the rest of the day. I am sorry to report that the blazer may still be needed from time to time so you don’t suffer from a subconscious, irrational credibility deficit when you have something important you want to say.

      I had an emergency blazer in my academic librarian days whenever I had to speak to my director and it saved me a lot of time in not having to prove every little thing I said.

    11. sundae funday*

      I think sleeveless tops are fine… I never wear them to the office myself without a cardigan… but that’s because my office is freezing in the summer!

    12. Policy Wonk*

      I work in a very conservative office. For us sleeveless is fine in your office, but if you head to a meeting with seniors or clients have a lightweight something to throw on top of it. I have a very light weave cotton sweater (what my aunt calls my “nothin’ sweater”) to throw on for such meetings. Doesn’t overheat, but looks a bit more professional than sleeveless.

  23. ET*

    I need an “Is this normal” check:

    I’m newish at a small company; I’ve been here just under a year, and previously was at a very big company. I’m a project architect with about a decade of experience, for reference.

    At old company, everyone had VOIP phones on their computers – you could receive or make calls from your laptop; at the office, at home, anywhere.
    New company had desk phones for everyone when I started, but recently upgraded the phone system and now only about half of the staff has phone extensions; I do not.

    My work around has been setting up Zoom/Skype meetings when I have to talk to people, but if anyone wants to call me, they get the office manager, who flags me down and I take the call at her desk (if I’m in the office, anyway).

    Somehow one of my contractors got my personal phone number, and while it hasn’t been an issue (yet), I don’t want to keep using my personal phone for the very infrequent times when my Zoom work around won’t work.

    Does this strike anyone else as odd?

    1. Anecdata*

      Doesn’t strike me as odd to not have a desk phone, we have them in my office and basically never use them. Email or Meets is the default mode of communication.

      But if your role requires frequent phone calls or ones that it’s inconvenient to take at Office Manager’s desk, I think it’d be perfectly normal to ask for one — as a comparison, I’d look at who the other folks with their own extensions are and compare your work / phone call frequency to theirs, to make sure your ask is reasonable.

      If you’re getting work calls on your personal #, just say, hey this is my personal #, can you call me at #office & ask for me instead?

    2. ferrina*

      Eh, I’ve had mixed experiences. At one company I didn’t have an extension at all- that was really annoying. At my next company, they set up everyone above a certain level with an extension that routes to Teams.

      For a work around- Google Voice routed to your phone. That way you don’t need to give your personal number to clients, but people can still call/text you.

    3. GlowCloud*

      Personally, I’d consider it a breach of trust if someone gave my personal contact details away without my permission.
      I’d also check in case your phone number is publicly available via LinkedIn or some other social media that the contractor simply looked up.

      If you’re finding that the current phone set-up doesn’t really work for your role, it seems more than reasonable to request the technology to be able to do your job more effectively, like a simple desk phone.

    4. Rex Libris*

      It strikes me as odd that, if you are receiving or placing regular business related calls, they haven’t provided for that. A phone is a pretty basic piece of office equipment. You really shouldn’t have to use your personal phone without some sort of compensation.

    5. WellRed*

      I think the oddest part is flagging you down to take the office managers phone? Do they really not have a single general use phone somewhere that they could send calls to?

    6. Rick Tq*

      If your business is phone-centric, yes, this is a bit odd. Does your company provide cell phones to selected employees? Having them provide you a business phone may be a solution.

      Just like we are warned here on AAM to never do personal business on company hardware, I don’t do company business on personal hardware. My small company provides a business cell phone along with the computer components.

    7. Tio*

      I haven’t had a desk phone in 5+ years now. Went from Ring Central app in the last job to using Teams as my phone in the new one. Now, in my new job I do have a separate cell phone from the company due to my position, but all of our Teams settings include a phone number that people can call that will ring through on teams like a normal number (comes up as a teams call without video.) Have you checked if your Teams settings have phone numbers?

      I’m not sure how that contractor got your number but if its only one it could have been a misunderstanding. Wouldn’t be a red flag to me yet, although if it became a pattern it would.

    8. I'm Just Here for the Cats!!*

      It does seem to be odd, especially if everyone used to have desk phones. And if you are in a position where venders need to reach you, you should have your own phone, whether its desktop or VOIP.

      I’m sure it probably annoys your office manager that you have to take calls at her desk and she can’t get things done.

      I would mention that this is a problem for you, interrupts the office manager’s work, and now you have a vendor who some how got your personal number, which is a privacy and boudry issue. talk with your boss or whoever is in charge of the phones. It might just be that they missed that you would need your own phone extension too.

    9. Not that Leia*

      I’m an architect and I find that contractors in particular often prefer phone communication. Your workaround seems like it doesn’t really allow for impromptu calls, which might actually be a problem, professionally. I use my personal phone all the time for work, but I’ve also been reimbursed for that at almost all my past jobs. Is that an option? Or if you don’t want to give out your personal number, can you set up a google voice number to use for work? (There is a way to use zoom similarly too but that might require enterprise level setup.) Honestly I find it SUPER weird that your firm didn’t figure out a phone solution for everyone.

  24. A Penguin!*

    Anyone have suggestions for fast-tracking a passport renewal application? I submitted the renewal in early December, the trip is next week, and it still lists as ‘in process’. They won’t give me an in-person expedite appointment (“there are no slots available”, despite me calling the first day they’d let me).

    I’ve gotten my congressperson’s office involved, but they’re not making much more headway than I am.

    In MA, if that matters.

    1. Anecdata*

      Yeah, unfortunately there’s a lot of delay right now, and it sounds like you can’t get an “urgent” (<14 days) slot. Worth continuing to call in case one opens up at least.

      There's a separate process for true emergencies, like needing to get to a dying family member, but if this trip was preplanned, it sounds like that doesn't apply to you (and I'm sorry, if it does)

    2. cactus lady*

      This happened to a friend of mine and they spoke with a manager at the state department who got them in for an in person appointment in spite of there being none available. However, they also had to speak with a manager there because they don’t have a way of being able to tell how far “in process” your application is, so they weren’t going to issue another passport. They managed to get their passport that day but I have heard most people are not being approved.

      Anyone who is thinking of renewing their passport right now: do the paper application!!!

    3. Rekha3.14*

      Not in the US, but I had waited 17+ weeks for passports (I was told 9), and then finally filed an official complaint through the website – I found a form buried on an immigration section of the website (I am not an immigrant) for complaints and had the passports 72h later. All this to ask if you’re able to find such a form on your government websites to fill out? Trying to contact them is mess. I hope you’re able to have success.

    4. Jinni*

      Is there a local office? In LA, there’s a daily standby line just for this. I hear that most people get in. I do know people to have flown to the closest office if they’re not in a big city (NY or SF).

  25. Over It*

    After 18 months of doing two jobs, I finally have an employee starting Monday! Of course, this is finally happening a week after my own boss quit, so I’ve absorbed a lot of their work, and that position could be open for months to years. I love government and its hiring processes!!!!/s Anyway tips for new managers welcome. I need them.

    1. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      If you have any really specific boundaries, make them clear early in (for example I prefer phone/text after hours rather than an email, so I am not chained to my screen, and it works for me but definitely needs explaining to someone who may think it sounds more intrusive)

      Give them a general sense of your communication style and how much you want to be in the loop on their work. Make sure you ask if they have any questions.

      Depending on how experienced your new report is, it can be extremely helpful to explain that you are available to answer questions (if you are; if not then explain who they can go to instead). Give them the names of a few key people that can go to in the company for issues with whatever is likely to come up.

  26. Lily Rowan*

    YOU GUYS. I just did a training about mental health for managers (like, how to be aware of and support your employees’ mental health), and I cracked up thinking about the commentariat here’s reaction to some of it. They explicitly recommended asking employees how their weekend was! They used eating lunch alone as a warning sign to be aware of — but then immediately said that’s only true if it’s a change.

    1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I’d just die. I never do anything fun on weekends. Even if I do something I enjoy it’s something not pegged as ‘ normal ‘ so …

      1. nnn*

        You’d just die if someone asked how your weekend was? Maybe this is regional or something because that’s a really normal question that’s been asked in every job I’ve ever worked in. You don’t have to give an honest answer if you don’t want to.

        1. Lily Rowan*

          Agreed — you can literally say, “It was good, how was yours” and let the other person talk It works 90% of the time.

        2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

          I mumble an answer but I’m dying inside. I hate being perceived. Yes we have team builders and apparently bizarre competitions or whatever. I dread those too.

      2. Irish Teacher*

        In my experience the response to “how was your weekend?” is generally, “good. And yours?” Yeah, sometimes people respond by mentioning something they did, but the majority do not.

        And as nnn said, it’s a really common question where I am too.

    2. Gracely*

      Asking someone how their weekend was is pretty innocuous, tbh. The person being asked can always answer with a vague “good, how about yours” if they don’t want to chat, OR with gobs of detail if they’re the kind of person who wants to talk at length about everything.

      The bit about eating lunch alone is weird, though–pretty much everyone at my work eats alone most days.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        If you’re okay with them saying the weekend was good without probing further (let them volunteer details if they want to), asking how their weekend was is fine.

        I used to work somewhere where we had to say exactly what we did the previous weekend… as part of a regular company-wide meeting. Not cool.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, I agree with your second paragraph. That said, asking about the weekend is something we do pretty routinely at my job. For me it’s mostly family time, but I do specify if I’ve done something more interesting than usual.

          I realize that I’m privileged because I’m a middle-aged white cisgender heterosexual woman, happily married with one reasonably contented and untroubled teenager at home, working in an environment where more than half of my teammates are in long-term relationships, and most of them also have kids. I also work in an environment where I’m not considered a bad employee simply for having a life outside of work. I also don’t feel any obligation to tell the whole truth when people ask me about my weekend.

          But if I ever felt coerced to share more than I wanted to, I’m also secure enough in my own personality that I would not hesitate to lie.

      2. Lily Rowan*

        Re: how was your weekend — I know that and you know that, but historically, a lot of people who comment here do not know that.

      3. Irish Teacher*

        I guess it could be an indication of something if somebody who was always the centre of the group at lunch, chatting to everybody, suddenly starts eating alone and this continues for weeks on end (so not just a week when they are busy or tired or something). It still wouldn’t necessarily be but I might wonder in that case if they were worried about something or had fallen out with somebody or were being excluded or something.

        Equally, if somebody who generally ate alone suddenly started coming into the break room every break time, that could be an indication they are worried about something and don’t want to be alone with their thoughts, but for some reason, people don’t seem to notice changes in that direction in the same way.

        I’m not sure I’d trust most people to take nuance into account though. In my experience, most people are not particularly good at noticing the difference between “x is very busy this week and therefore hasn’t as much time to chat as usual” and “x is really upset about something and doesn’t want to talk about it, so they are avoiding everybody.” (And I am probably part of this category of people who aren’t good at noticing because I have a colleague who has been quieter lately and I have no idea whether she’s just busy or whether there is something more going on.)

    3. Rex Libris*

      I use my lunch break for important things, like watching old Star Trek episodes. My answer to “How was your weekend?” is usually “Short. How about you?”

      And can I just say how annoying I find it that almost all managerial “mental health” advice seems to work out to “If they’re an introvert, they need to be watched.”

    4. Hiding From My Boss*

      Eek! I crave my alone-time lunches because I’m surrounded by nonstop talkers in the office and need a “silence break” in the middle of the day.

  27. MMM*

    Should I try to negotiate even if I’m content with what they offered? I got a job offer yesterday, it’s more than I’m making now (but I’m currently v underpaid). It is 5K less than the max of the stated range. I’m happy to accept, but of course would be happier if it was even $1k-2k higher. I have a masters and ~6 years of professional work experience, but neither are in this field, so I feel like it would definitely be reasonable for them to say no. However it does have fewer vacation days than I currently get, and I will need to get set up for full remote work, and there is no mention of a stipend for that.

    I guess my options are to accept as is, negotiate for higher salary, for more vacation, or for a stipend. I know the worst they can say is no, but I just feel like I have no standing to ask fro anything because of my lack of direct experience.

    1. Alex*

      You don’t have to have a reason. “I was hoping for X amount. Is that something you can do?” They might say no, but it doesn’t (usually) hurt to ask.

      I used that exact same phrasing with the job I just started and it worked.

    2. AllTheBirds*

      You definitely have standing — because you’re the preferred candidate!

      “I was hoping to start closer to $X per year.” Then STOP TALKING and let them respond.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      You don’t need “standing,” just ask if they go up to X (1-2K over the offer), and let them say yes or no.

    4. WellRed*

      I wouldn’t assume they don’t plan to cover your work from home setup (within reason). I think a stipend for such is neither common nor weird.

    5. MMM*

      Thanks everyone! I asked and she said she would look into it, so it’s not an outright no. But even if she says there is no room I’m glad I tried

  28. Eng Girl*

    Finally putting in my two weeks today and I’m so excited! Now I just have to negotiate a start date that lets me take a lil break and also relocate

  29. Well That's Fantastic*

    How do you appropriately ask during an interview to find out how time-intensive a salaried job will be without setting off interviewer red flags? I’m hoping to leave my current workplace because I’ve been balancing three people’s jobs for almost a year, but it’s not worth leaving if I’ll just jump to another job that still has me working absurd hours.

    In my role at various places, some people would be working an easy 40 hours a week, and others are going to be working 60+ hours. I’d rather have a lower workload, even though it means a lower salary, but I can’t figure out the right approach. (Unfortunately I don’t have good relationships with anyone at the places I’m applying who can tell me off-the-record.)

    1. ferrina*

      “What does a normal work week look like here?”
      “Can you tell me a bit about the cadence of work? When is your busy season? What does that look like? What about your slow season? What does that look like?”

      That will give you a good starting point. Sometimes they’ll say more than they mean to- listen to the words between the lines. I had one person tell me “We don’t like clock-watchers here!” I heard: “Don’t expect to leave on time.” I withdrew my application.
      Of course, even if all sounds good, see if you can talk to the people that would be your peers. Sometimes you can be candid- “I’m leaving a place where I’m doing multiple people’s jobs, and I just want to make sure that I’m not walking into a similar situation.”

    2. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      The above ways are good. Depending on how things are structured/going in the moment you can even start off with something like, “I understand that the role may not fit into a perfect 9-to-5, 40-hour a week structure and I’d like to get a sense of what that looks like in practice.” or something like that to begin by saying you’re not necessarily demanding 40 hours but are genuinely curious. Then get into the “typical work week” part.

      To be clear you don’t have to do this! I’m mostly thinking of some people I have worked with who would get their back up if they thought you were trying to set what they see as an unreasonable boundary before they’re even offered the job. Then again, you probably don’t want to work for someone like that …

    3. MaryLoo*

      Years ago a colleague interviewed at another company and one of the interviewers said something like “and we’re really near the commuter rail station and the last train leaves at 1 am”. Colleague thought this was a joke. Took the job and then discovered working past midnight was pretty common.
      Pay attention to things like “the company buys us supper when we work late”.

  30. WorkingRachel*

    I’m trying to decide what I want to do next in my career. One of the things I really like about my current job (I work at a small alternative school) is that I am able to engage with people as people—rather than, say, trying to sell them something. I’m with people all day long and I find that so much more interesting than straight office work. I do try to persuade and convince sometimes when I feel it’s important, but for the most part my job is to support the people I work for in what they want to do. I do a lot of listening, helping people work through problems, and looking out for the health of the community as a whole, identifying problems and trying to fix them. Ironically, I don’t particularly like teaching people skills, although I can do it.

    I also like that I’m part of creating a place—a physical space that is the home for a community.

    I live in a major city and don’t want to move for a job. I’d prefer to work for an organization rather than for myself—I’ve had more than enough of the entrepreneurial life for the time being and want something more stable with decent benefits for this next phase of my life.

    Any inspiration on jobs that might be good for me? The only thing that really springs to mind is being a therapist, which I assume would require another degree. I have a BA in English, and though I’m willing to do some retraining, I’m also trying to have a kid and I assume it will be a while before I have money to go back to school.

    1. OtterB*

      Maybe something supporting people with disabilities in the workplace or community? There’s an enormous need for that. Unfortunately, it tends to pay very badly.

    2. Rex Libris*

      Public libraries might be a possibility. You get to help people and help the community. While you do need a Master’s degree (usually) for librarian and management positions, there are roles that don’t require them, and they’re usually pretty accommodating if you want to try and pursue the degree while working there, in my experience, anyway.

      1. AnotherLibrarian*

        Yes, I was just thinking this. A lot of my staff don’t have an MLIS and don’t want one. However, not having an MLIS will limit the type of work you can get in a library and may limit your ability to be promoted (and therefore limit salary growth).

      2. WorkingRachel*

        I realize that libraries absolutely fit this bill. :) I worked in libraries and for librarians for 15 years and that really turned me off getting an MLIS–the extra degree requirement, the competitive job market, the not-great pay, the public library jobs that often basically boiled down to being a retail supervisor and/or social worker…but I’m also very aware of the many upsides, and I already know way more than the average bear about things like collection development and cataloguing. Who knows, maybe I’ll do it eventually.

    3. GardenGnomic*

      I work in Amenity Horticulture for a major UK visitor attraction. I love my job for all the reasons you describe.

      My job involves curating and maintaining part of a garden that is open to visitors and a beloved attraction for everyone in the local community and all over the country.
      Visitors frequently ask me for gardening advice, to ask the name of a plant they’ve noticed, or to just chat about their own gardens, the weather, etc. I can help people and make them feel good about their visit without the real emotional burden of having to take anyone’s problems home with me. I am also someone who hates selling people stuff.

      I have a really nice team to work with. I also work with trainees, who will go on to work in very varied and wide-ranging careers within the wider horticultural field. They spend 2 years doing a paid, full-time apprenticeship, which was also my route into Horticulture.

      My organisation offers the higher range of salaries and benefits for the industry, and has a great culture, so I doubt I’ll ever leave, but I know I have the skills to go freelance or work for private individuals if I wanted to. Average salaries for my role are about £25,000 pa, and this is my first permanent role after I did 4 years of training and study programmes.
      I think it can be less easy to take maternity leave in certain parts of this industry, or to be able to do all aspects of the job while pregnant (heavy lifting, chemical handling, etc), but there are a number of large organisations in the sector, similar to mine, that have good maternity packages and can offer pretty flexible work hours.

      The only drawback would be that if your city doesn’t have an amenity or public garden that you could work in, you’d probably have to be willing to move to pursue it as a career. And unless you work under glass, you have to be willing to be outdoors in all weather.

      People who work in horticulture tend to sound pretty evangelical about it, because it’s just really enjoyable, and can open up a whole realm of possibilities, depending on what specialism you might gravitate towards. So whenever anyone asks me what their next career move should be, I always recommend horticulture.

      1. WorkingRachel*

        Thanks for this thoughtful comment! I don’t know if there’s anything exactly like what you do where I am, but we do have plenty of public amenities and various gardens, parks, etc. You sound like you love your job and I’m glad you found something that’s such a great fit for you!

    4. 1234*

      Human Resources is usually very people focused and the field has a variety of different types of positions. Will likely not require another degree, but getting an HR Certification like SHRM or PHR might be.

    5. Carpe Manana*

      This might be counterintuitive, but consider looking for a support position with a business brokerage. Up until recently, we had a staff person who was brilliant in this role. She had no technical skills, couldn’t read financial statements if her life depended on it, and this was her first-ever real office job.

      What she did have was an amazing way of communicating and comforting people. For most present or would-be business owners, this is their first – and often last – time that they’ve ever found themselves in this situation, and it can be daunting and confusing. People might buy and sell multiple homes over their lifetime. With a small business, this is rarely the case, and for many, it can be a very emotional journey that takes a lot of hand-holding. From the seller’s perspective, their business represents their legacy, while for the buyer it’s a not-entirely-risk-free, life-changing leap into the unknown. And for some business owners, despite all the hard work, their business really isn’t worth all that much (or certainly not worth what they think it is) or it’s simply not ready to be brought to market in its current state.

      She was very relational, great at letting clients know what to expect, communicated with them even when there was no real news to share, and simply gave them the space to work through their complicated feelings. Just as importantly, she was great at making a “No” sound like a “Yes”. I would often shake my head in wonder at how much time she spent on the phone with clients. Since her departure, I am much more appreciative of all her relationship-building soft skills, and would hire someone with your attributes in a heartbeat.

      1. WorkingRachel*

        Thanks, Carpe Manana, this is a super helpful comment and such an interesting perspective! “Relational” might be one of the words I’m looking for.

  31. MouseMouseMouse*

    I’ve recently joined a guide dog puppy foster program and have gotten permission from my senior manager and AVP to bring the dog to our (otherwise-dog-free) office as part of the pup’s formal socialization and training. If you were a fellow coworker on my floor, what considerations or measures would you want me to proactively take to ensure everyone’s comfort and safety before bringing the dog into work?

    Context: we currently work 2 days in the office in a flex-desk environment. Our floor is very big (think typical downtown skyscraper office building). My manager and I have put together a contract about expected rules for me and the puppy to adhere to, as follows:

    “The below-signed employee is permitted to bring one dog onto [company] premises given the following conditions are met:
    The dog is either leashed to the employee or crated securely at all times;
    The dog does not disruptively or excessively bark or cry;
    The dog does not chew or damage damage on-site property in any way;
    The dog does not approach or disturb any other person (unless solicited by the other person);
    The dog does not interfere with the employee’s work, or any other employee’s work;
    The employee takes the dog outside to relieve itself;
    Should another person express discomfort around the dog for any reason (allergies, fear, etc.), the employee works actively to reach a compromise, for example by relocating to a closed meeting room for a reasonable duration of time.
    The employee remains wholly responsible for the dog at all times. If any of the above conditions are not met, the employee is not permitted to bring the dog onto [company] premises.”

    I’m also taking the following measures:
    Selecting fixed days of the week and aiming to book a consistent desk so people can expect when and where the dog would be
    Posting “guide puppy alert” signage in common areas and around my desk with my contact info
    Speaking to the few people that I know do go in the office daily ahead of time to see if they have any fears, allergies or other concerns

    We don’t have floor-specific distribution lists, but I’d really like to provide folks who are afraid of or allergic to dogs an easy way to reach out to me so we can work out a solution as needed — I totally understand that fear and allergies are legitimate concerns that need to be accommodated. What could be some ways of offering this to folks? What other measures or considerations should I take?

    1. DoodleBug*

      Could you put a stack of one-page info sheets near the elevators and stairwells (maybe under one of your signs) so people see it when they enter your floor?

      I’d provide as much info as you can on your info sheets about how the dog will be handled — for example, if I knew the expectations from your agreement that the dog will always be either leashed to you, or in its crate, that would help my comfort level a lot. And I’d also explain about the “guide puppy in training” part — knowing it’s not just a random dog, but a dog who will need to know how to behave in offices, would make me more tolerant of annoyances. (Wouldn’t help with allergies, but thems the breaks).

      1. MouseMouseMouse*

        Ohh I like this idea! I definitely want to help ease people’s fears by letting them know that the dog won’t run free. I’ll draft up some info sheets and ask our floor concierge about leaving them around for people to take.

    2. Goddess47*

      Find a plushy dog to take to your office and make it visible… put up a reasonably sized sign that says something like ‘future home of guide dog in training – ask me about it’… Do that for a couple of days/weeks before you take the live puppy.

      Since you don’t have assigned desks, is there a bulletin board or break room where you can post a flyer with a similar message for when you are not there?

      Anyone who is concerned will hopefully come over to you to discuss it. It gives some notice to folk that this will be happening and you can answer questions as need.

      Can’t hurt to try! Good luck!

      1. MouseMouseMouse*

        Oh, that plush dog idea is GENIUS. I was racking my brain on how to give folks the opportunity to talk to me without simply email-blasting everyone in our department — the plushie will be a great visual! And yes, I’ll be checking with the floor concierge to see if I can have a permanent flyer up for days I’m not there. Thank you!

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Do you have an intranet? Ask if you can post something about it there.

          Include a photo of the dog. In my office, people would love to see that.

          Expect visitors to show up the first few times you’re in the office with the puppy.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      It’s very thoughtful of you to do what you can to help those who are allergic to/afraid of dogs, but for your sake (and the pup’s), set some expectations for everyone else too. I’m thinking specifically are there any rules around interacting with the pup (for example, not petting them while they’re wearing their vest)? And are you open to people stopping by your desk to say hi to the dog, or would you rather they didn’t?

      1. MouseMouseMouse*

        Thank you! Yes, I have firm rules in my head about how other people will interact with the dog. I don’t think there will enough people in the office that it will be common and I’m comfortable advocating (in a friendly way) for myself and the pup on a case-by-case basis, but I’ll definitely observe to see if I need to be direct and proactive about setting expectations. Thanks for the food for thought!

    4. EJane*

      Oh i’m literally writing a graduate protocol on this exact topic at this exact moment! except for with service dogs, not guide dog puppies.

      You’ve done exceptionally well. I WISH I got the same level of support and prep as a handler. A+ especially on the assigned desk (very important).
      Two suggestions for the contract: a. define “excessive” (uncontrollable? going on for more than 15 seconds?) and b. figure out with your manager what to do if complaints go to your manager instead of you.

      I would keep signage around your desk, instead of spreading it through the building, because you’re likely to get people trying to see the puppy instead of leaving it alone, if they all know it’s there. fully trained service dogs should be largely invisible, and alerting everyone to the dog’s presence if they don’t have to be alerted might be counterproductive. Dogs DEFINITELY know when people are paying attention to them.
      (always defer to the foster organization’s advice! I’m speaking as a longtime handler, but my service dog isn’t a guide dog.)
      I would also definitely include a clear directive on how to interact with the dog on that sign (“i.e. “Please ignore the puppy!” or “I have to give the dog permission to say hi”.)

      Speaking from experience as a service dog handler, the number of people who ignore clear directives is distressingly high (I have had fully qualified health professionals say “oh I know I shouldn’t” while actively interacting with my WORKING SERVICE DOG to my face. sigh.) but it sounds like the general state of things is going to be easily supervised.

      It may also be prudent to plan for specific break play times, if that’s something the foster guidelines allow for. Again, my dog isn’t a guide dog, but I have absolutely had coworkers ask “when can Wiley have a break?”, especially on hard days.

      1. MouseMouseMouse*

        Good call on including a clear directive on the sign! Will definitely add “Guide-dog-in-training! Please ask me before approaching the dog” or something along those lines.

        I’m so sorry to hear how often people ignore your directives. I’m doing my best to gird myself for that now so I’m comfortable with cutting people off verbally or phsyically moving away for the safety of me and the pup, and the awkwardness that might ensue after.

        And I wil definitely ask my guide dog organization what kind of play breaks I’m allowed to give at work! Great point.

    5. Jen (she or they pronouns please)*

      Personally, if this were my workplace I’d love to see you somehow announcing it ahead of time, along the lines of emailing “Dog and I will come in for training on March 1st, and will be seated at xxx desk. Dog would always stay near me or at that desk, either on a leash or in a crate. Should that cause any problems for you or should you have any questions please feel free to say so. You can reach me at 0123/456789 or email@adress.com.”

      Maybe also give some info on dos and don’ts for your colleagues?
      “Please don’t feed the dog. It’s okay to pet the dog, but only after asking. Please don’t go out of your way for the dog, it’s learning how to behave in an office where people don’t do that. If you need me for a meeting etc and the dog would be an issue, this is how I plan to solve that:[…]. Please do talk to me if there’s anything I should do differently.”

      If at all possible, maybe choose a desk that’s easy for coworkers to avoid if they’d rather not be near a dog? Also, on the days where the dog joins you, at least at start it might be a good idea to have a plan ready in case it absolutely doesn’t work (for example if it turns out you have a coworker who really really can’t work with a dog in the same room).

      (I should mention that I don’t have much experience regarding dogs at work, so not sure whether that’s feasible.)

      1. MouseMouseMouse*

        I definitely considered email, but I’m not sure we have floor-specific distribution lists — I’ll have to check with our floor concierge.

        And yes, definitely going to be picking a desk tucked away in a less populated corner of the floor so nobody has to see me or the dog if they don’t want to. We also have lots of differently-sized meeting rooms on the floor, so I’m planning to scope out what’s available every day I bring the dog in should we need to retreat for the sake of another colleague.

        Thanks for the thoughts!

    6. Beth*

      Has your manager made absolutely certain that the building itself — the landlord or leasing company or whatever — is not going to have a problem?

      We recently went through a really irritating episode in our office — the building sent out an email forbidding all dogs except legitimate service dogs, and some of the bananapantsers in my office started talking, semi-jokingly, about getting fake service dog vests. I have major challenges with dogs (allergies AND phobias), and fake service dog scams are a massive rage button for me, so that didn’t make for a good atmosphere.

      As far as I know, there had not been an actual problem with the occasional visit to the office of an occasional dog; in fact, my co-workers had been working with me and my phobia so well and so effectively that my phobia is currently in remission, for the first time in many years. Then the building management weighed in. Argh. No way to know what dog in what office sparked the mandate, since there are over a dozen firms in our building.

      Anyway. Replying to your question as if I were one of your co-workers: you’re doing great, I wish you the very very best, and I’d be happy to be your co-worker! I would probably ask to be “introduced” to the puppy initially, under very controlled circumstances, and then I would avoid it entirely after that (but hopefully not stress out.)

      The only caveat I would add is: if you have a co-worker with really bad allergies, there may not be any accommodation that will actually work. Not all allergies can be managed for some people except by avoiding the allergen entirely, and the allergens in animal dander are airborne. (If anyone were to bring a cat into our office suite, for example, I would end up going home sick that day.)

      Allergies also vary — at the moment, our part of the country is having a truly horrible pollen season, and my own sensitivity to ALL allergens is elevated. Many anti-allergy medications interfere with cognitive function, or induce sleep; please don’t think you can tell allergy sufferers that they just need to take more meds, especially not in a work situation. (I hope you wouldn’t say that, but it HAS been said to me.)

      1. MouseMouseMouse*

        Thank you for sharing your perspective, and I’m sorry you’re going through that at your company! Yes, I would hope to make folks with fears/phobias comfortable enough to ask for very tightly-managed introductions so they could control their first encounter with the dog.

        For allergies, I definitely realize that some can be so severe that nothing but an actual service dog would warrant the presence of a dog, so am prepared to cross that bridge when I arrive.

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      What is your plan if you have to go to the restroom or into a meeting — take the dog with you? Is that viable?

      If your objective is to socialize the puppy to be around other people, what do you expect from me as part of that process?

      1. MouseMouseMouse*

        Yes, the plan is to go with the dog to the restroom or meeting, just as a certified service dog. Should this be a separate call-out to be very clear where people might encounter the dog?

        Good question about what might be expected of you! I’m hoping that if I add guide dog etiquette to an info sheet that says “do not interact with the dog unless you ask first”, it’ll be clear that I’m not expecting my colleagues to do ANYTHING to help me. I’m also not going to be announcing “this is for socialization!”, my tone will be more “this is part of a guide dog program”. (For dogs, socialization often means “exposure” just as much as it means “interact with and socialize with other beings”.)

        1. anonymous allergy sufferer*

          Thank you for being mindful of allergies! Mine are thankfully mild and I prefer trained service dogs because they are TRAINED, they will not jump on me,go where they’re not supposed to etc.

          Since your dog will be in training, is there a protocol for what happens if training goes poorly or the pup has a bad day, e.g. maybe you take it home and wfh the rest of the day?

          Will there be extra vacuuming or cleaning to deal with pet hair, etc? The common breeds of service dogs I’ve seen tend to be shorter haired but I assume they would still have some shedding etc.

          Good luck!

          1. MouseMouseMouse*

            Oh, good point about the bad day scenario. I’ll definitely check with my manager to see if he’d be okay with me heading home for the day if the pup seems too riled up or destructive and needs to reset at home. And I will ask about the cleaning schedule. Thanks for the ideas!

    8. SofiaDeo*

      My trainer (I have a small service dog) stressed I needed to reward behavior I wanted. I do not like yappy, jumpy, barky dogs. So I got in the habit of praising my dog when it was lying quietly, saying “what a good dog” and often patting it on the head. I did this more often when he was a puppy (like every half hour). Now that they are older, I make a point of doing it hourly at home unless I am absorbed in some task. And I have quiet, well behaved dogs! This has not inhibited their joy in playing.

      1. MouseMouseMouse*

        Oh believe me, I will be reinforcing the heck out of any and all good service dog behaviour my puppy exhibits. :)

    9. allathian*

      Good luck with your guide dog puppy!

      My best friend’s nearly adult daughter’s learning to train service dogs for people who use a wheelchair. As a part of that process, they’re currently fostering a Labrador puppy. The dog’s learning to pick stuff up off the floor, turn lights on and off, fill and empty a washing machine, and to take packages from the lower shelves in a grocery store without breaking them, etc.

  32. Subject Matter E*

    (Going anon here in case folks read this, but you all probably know who I am from past posts)

    So, I still really really like my job but I have to remember that every job is still going to be frustrating.

    The larger org has been up to some odd stuff but my team has bonded and are all working towards a new goal. Great.

    But, basically, I am tasked with one specific thing in which I am an expert (not being a jerk, but literally in that I have a doctorate in it), and I am not sure I’m being trusted with my expertise. No one is being mean, but it’s a lot of…. small sample size bias, and a lack of understanding of certain aspects of education. Essentially, my colleagues are event/project managers and I’m The Education Person.

    So my question is, given I actually really like them, have any of you had experience where you really DO know a lot more about something than colleagues but your skillset isn’t quite being valued fully by peers? And I am not talking about racism (though I’m not white) or mansplaining or that sort of thing, but where people genuinely misunderstand your skillset because they’re trained differently?

    1. Moonlight*

      I have experienced this, yes, and so have several friends with graduate degrees.

      I think part of it comes down to… I don’t know if I how to explain it, but I’ll try… there’s something I noticed where people kind of devalue education and think experience is the only thing that truly matters, and I get that from an undergraduate degree perspective; my BA gave me a good knowledge base but wasn’t particularly actionable, but I think people don’t realise how much of a difference a masters degree, and, even better, a PhD makes. A PhD in particular imparts you with so much knowledge and expertise but I don’t think everyone realize how extensive and practical that is so they underestimate it and assume that their 5 years as a project manager in education is a lot more comparable to your PhD in education than it really is versus realizing that they might be really experienced in X and Y, you’re The Best at only Y

      1. Subject Matter E*

        I do try to be very very open and warm about the areas where they clearly know more than I do (plenty of things). What the doc mostly taught me was how little I knew about everything else, while helping me know a lot about a few interconnected things, as well as giving me a lens through which to analyze things.

        I also was not a full time student, I’ve always worked outside of academia, so I don’t lack experience. But it’s hard to convey what is counter-intuitive – that, especially for adults, less is more, it takes a lot of times for most people to retain information, and self-report satisfaction isn’t, you know, assessment.

      2. Anonymous Koala*

        So much this. When I experience this, I like citing my sources – I have a large bibliography that I draw references from, and people are usually more receptive to what I have to say if I can show them that I have data to back up my point.

          1. Anonymous Koala*

            I only use it when I get push back and someone has expressed doubt or isn’t sure about my advice, so I don’t think people find it condescending? But also after I’ve gotten a couple of rounds of push back, I don’t really care – I just want to end the back and forth and move on.

      3. Generalist*

        Subject Matter E, I have experience that I think could be helpful to you, but it’s after 10 pm Sunday evening so I’m doubting that you are still checking this thread.

        If you see this, please reply so I know that it’s worth spending a bit of time trying to sum up my thoughts in hopes of giving you some ideas.

    2. Friday Person*

      Oh, yep, this sounds familiar.

      Depending on the person involved, I’ve found sometimes it helps to go either very macro (here is the basic tenet of my field that I’m working toward with this action, and here’s why it matters we accomplish this) or else very micro (here are the nine different pieces of background knowledge I’m relying on in order to draw this small distinction), with the goal either way being to share your thought process and make it clear that there is an existing field of specialist knowledge you’re using to guide you.

    3. Glazed Donut*

      Yes, yes all of this. For me an additional rub is that I’m the only person in my area with an advanced degree related to our field. Others do think that experience is just as valuable as education, and I try to do “yes and” to explain that I’m not being egotistical; I just have a very different approach to say, “sending a survey to our customers for their feedback” since I have specific training in how to write survey questions in order to receive valid, reliable responses.
      I recently had a conversation with a supervisor about it–but again, it was a difficult thing to convey since he has a BS in an unrelated field. I ended the convo by saying that sometimes at work I get the feeling I’m speaking a different dialect and that’s something I need to chew on myself to see how to bridge. Of course, I hope he will do something about his own approach to my work–but I can’t really say “you didn’t get a PhD so you don’t and can’t understand this.”

      1. Subject Matter E*

        My colleagues LOVE a survey but then get surprised people get tired of responding to them. Yes, survey fatigue is real, and also information doesn’t change that much that you need a survey every week or so. And so on.

  33. DivergentStitches*

    This question is for those in a corporate trainer role.

    I’m in a new job and I’m going through training.

    There’s two trainers and they’re from the east coast (not sure if that’s relevant but I suspect this is because they work closely together). They both have a verbal tic where after just about every sentence, they say “k”

    For example, “so if I click here, k, you can see I’ve got the member’s information pulled up here, k”

    and so on.

    Once you notice it, it’s pretty hard to tune it out, and it’s very distracting.

    As a trainer, would you want to be told about this, like in a feedback form by a trainee? Or would you prefer to only receive feedback about the training itself?

    1. Subject Matter E*

      I would leave it be (I’m a trainer). With my ADHD I don’t look at cameras well, and someone pointed it out to me once, and it really just made me feel bad.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Wow, I don’t think anyone is good at looking at the camera! They are usually looking at stuff on the screen (either the other people, or their notes).

    2. Yay! I’m a llama again!*

      I am a trainer – I found myself starting three sentences in a row today with ‘So…’ which I hate! So personally, I think I’d welcome the feedback but then I’m also pretty aware of these things and consciously want to remove them. It might depend on the personality of the trainer though. I think it’s important to know what annoys my trainees so that I can fix it! I have a question ‘what can I change to make your training better’ on the mid program check in, and that’s exactly what I want to know about. Also things like if I’m talking too fast or moving on too quickly.

  34. LifeBeforeCorona*

    My manager has been attending job fairs and returning with resumes. Part of my new responsibilities is to shift through them and call the strongest candidates for an interview. Is there the same expectation around giving your resume to a recruiter at a job fair as for applying for the position in the traditional way? Do I owe the candidates that I’ve weeded out a courtesy call explaing that they didn’t make the cut? They gave us their resume in good faith, ghosting them seems rude.

    1. Diatryma*

      I kind of assumed that job fairs were connections, not applications. I never expected or received a call saying they weren’t moving forward on… what, even? The conversation?

    2. Andri*

      Speaking both as someone who handed out my resumes at job fairs and as a recruiter who takes them now, I wouldn’t say that’s it’s necessary to call/email (unless your manager did any sort of on the spot interview or promised that they’d hear back). I never expected any companies to get back to me unless it was a yes.

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      No. Job fairs you kinda just spam all the possibilities. If it’s good they’ll contact you.

    4. DivergentStitches*

      Former recruiter here – nah, you don’t need to call them unless you’re interested in pursuing them for a role.

  35. The Dude Abides*

    Looking for pointers from people who go to the gym/exercise during their lunch break. I have a routine down, boss/reports know I’m not reachable, etc.

    Mostly looking for tips/tricks from those more seasoned than myself (I’ve been doing it 2-3 times a week for 1-2 months).

      1. The Dude Abides*

        Mostly things that I haven’t thought of being new-ish at this that more seasoned veterans have.

        1. Ann Perkins*

          I go to the gym over lunch regularly. There’s really not many tips to it, I just walk over and change, do my workout, quick shower, then walk back (a few block walk). I usually still keep my hair up for the walk back if I’m still cooling down from the workout and then I keep my brush and makeup in my desk at work in case I need a quick touchup when I get back. I always pack my lunch on those days so that I can then eat quickly and get back to work.

    1. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      Make sure you bring it up as frequently as possible and that everyone on your team knows you go to the gym on your lunch. Ask them for pointers too. They’ll love it.

      1. The Dude Abides*

        My boss and direct reports know I’m not reachable and why; I know better than to humble-brag.

        Most of the building knows, only because I had to “out” myself – for a “food day” last month, my boss ordered 100 pieces of fried chicken and sides. I helped schlep the food to the building, then went straight to the gym. When I got back, multiple people asked why I wasn’t downing 4-5 pieces at a time like I used to.

  36. Saddy Hour*

    Happy Friday, all!

    I was laid off this week. It was sudden and impacted a lot of folks. I’ve never left a job involuntarily before and this position has been my dream job for the last ~5 years, so I’m pretty heartbroken and worried about my ability to move forward. I’d love to hear advice/experiences from others, especially about:

    1. We were all given severance and our official separation date is at least a month out. I’m going to list myself as “current” at this role on my resume until that date has passed, but should I note that I was laid off in cover letters? Should I volunteer that information at all? It feels dishonest to say I’m looking for work for better opportunities (though I guess that’s true, since “no work” is a crap opportunity). But it feels somehow inappropriate or ill-advised to note that I’m technically not currently employed.

    2. I shifted fields for this job, so unfortunately I only have about 8 months of real experience with this work. I received a lot of verbal praise from my mentor and my manager about how quickly I took to the work, and I feel that my quick learning is one of my stronger skills in general. But how do I convey that for a job where I was still very green and hadn’t had much opportunity for big accomplishments yet? I know I have a lot of potential, but how do I show that to hiring managers without a proven track record?

    3. I’ve had a lot of offers to help me network and land another role, including from my mentor and my manager. I have no idea how to take advantage of that. My boss keeps saying “Please let me know how I can support you” but I don’t know what to ask for? We’re not in a field where letters of recommendation are common, and I know he’ll provide a great reference for me if it gets to that point — but is there any way I can ask for his help getting TO that point? Is it too forward to ask if he knows of other orgs that use my skillset? Too forward to ask if he’ll personally connect me with people in those orgs? I know people network but I feel so lost about how that actually works lol.

    I would also appreciate any hopeful stories about folks that have bounced back after layoffs. I know Alison has written extensively about some of these topics too, so if anyone can point me to article names or keywords, I would be so grateful. I’m going to search on my own too, but I feel so overwhelmed right now.

    1. AllTheBirds*

      I’ve never put anything in a cover letter referencing the reason why I’m looking… only the sort of “Your job post intrigued me because…” comment.

      Don’t mention you were laid off in resume or cover letter.

    2. Lady_Lessa*

      don’t forget to mourn the loss of a job, and do some caring for your self.

      Survivor of 5 lay offs

      1. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

        +1 to this. If you are financially able to take a bit of time it can be very good for you to do so.

    3. bellbell*

      Your two ideas for what would be ‘too forward’ would actually be great starting points. If you weren’t being laid off, then maybe they’d be too forward, but as these people have offered this help I don’t see why you couldn’t ask them.

      On top of that, the consideration that these people can better vouch for you given how you say you don’t have a lot of time and measurables in this industry, as well as their (probably more extensive) network, they should be a great help.

    4. GreenShoes*

      Sorry to hear this.

      For this question: I’ve had a lot of offers to help me network and land another role, including from my mentor and my manager. I have no idea how to take advantage of that. My boss keeps saying “Please let me know how I can support you” but I don’t know what to ask for?

      One thing I did for several people I managed who were laid off with a longer transition. I offered to get them copies of past performance appraisals that weren’t on the new system so they could have copies and use for resume achievements. Not sure if this is applicable for you but thought I’d throw it out there for anyone else who may find themselves in the same situation (as being laid off or the manager of someone who was laid off).

      Also don’t be shy about asking him to review your resume, chances are he may be able to remind you of achievements you’ve forgotten about.

      For this question: Is it too forward to ask if he knows of other orgs that use my skillset? Too forward to ask if he’ll personally connect me with people in those orgs?

      No and no. This is exactly how networking works :) Also ask if there are any opportunities in his network or if he hears of anything (even after you’re gone) to let you know. Make sure you connect on LI

    5. Spicy Meatball*

      1) I’ve never volunteered this information in a cover letter, but the question always comes up in the initial screening/interview process as to why you are looking for another job, and that’s when you explain you’re being laid off on x date. BTDT. It’s actually a whole less awkward than trying to explain why you want to leave your current job where you haven’t been laid off. Best of luck to you! Being laid off sucks even when you’re company is humane enough to give you notice and severance.

      3) Ask your boss and mentor the questions you ask in #2. That’s a great example of how they can support you, by helping you translate your experience and skills into a resume and cover letter. They may also have contacts at other companies they can talk to and/or introduce you to to assist in your job search.

      1. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

        Agree with Spicy – no need to mention the layoff until someone asks you why you are looking for a new job. Was the layoff covered in the local media? If yes, people in the industry may be aware of why you are looking just from reading the news about the layoff.

    6. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’m so sorry! Similar boat here– I was laid off 8 weeks ago and it was awful.

      The thing about being laid off is that honestly, everyone gets it. I don’t have to make up a story about why I’m job searching. I can be really honest about my last role, which I really enjoyed, and no one wonders why I’m leaving. HOWEVER, I don’t bring it up until I’m asked. It’s not specified on my resume (which lists January 2023 as my end date) and I don’t mention it in my cover letter. That was the advice of the career counselor my former company is paying for, but so far it hasn’t been an issue. It helps that my company was large and well-known and tech-adjacent, even though they kept the layoffs pretty quiet and Google’s happened the next day.

      The “let me know what I can do to help” offers vary. You can always go on LinkedIn and connect with people and see if they’re connected to anyone you want to talk to. But I’ve had more traction from other people in my network. I posted on LinkedIn and Facebook that I was laid off and I got a bunch of messages offering help. So far three former colleagues have passed my resume around their companies (one of which just announced a hiring freeze, oof) and another introduced me to his colleague who wants me to consult for him. You can ask your former boss if there’s anyone he thinks you should talk to, there’s no harm in that. Heh. Put him to work.

      Most of all, really sit back and think about your next role. Take your time. Do you want to do exactly what you were doing? Do you want to go back to what you were doing before? Some combination of the two?

      As for bouncing back… I’m not there yet. It’s only been two months, which feels like forever and also feels like a blink of an eye. I am pretty far into the hiring process with one company, which is great, but I’m also very frustrated that no one else is calling. It’s a lot.

      You’ll be ok.

    7. ThatGirl*

      Do I work with you??

      (Probably not, but the same thing happened to 5 of my coworkers last week)

      I’ve been laid off twice in the past 6 years and both times I found new jobs within 4 months or so. Be prepared for it to take a little while, but remember that it won’t be forever. I think you can definitely ask your boss if there’s anyone he can connect you with at other companies, and also think of if you know people at other companies that might hire people for your job. LinkedIn is good for this kind of thing.

    8. Honor Harrington*

      Changing jobs when it’s not your choice is really yard. To answer your questions:
      – yes, put it in your cover letter.
      – Send your updated resume to your network and all those people who have offered to help. Ask them to share it with their network, or at least anyone who might know of a good job for you. Equally useful, ask them if there are companies where you shouldn’t work because of a bad culture, bad pay, etc. It’s good to know who not to waste your time on.
      – Identify which of your supportive colleagues and mentors would be good references. Ask them if they will be references.
      – Ask you mentor, or even an old boss or someone senior to you, what the next step in your career might look like. Get them to help you envision your future. Ask them what they see as your special strengths and how to highlight those to future employers
      – Remember it’s ok to be sad. It’s also ok to be angry. Eventually hopefully this will work out for the best and you will land some place great. But it’s likely to be hard until then. Most importantly, remind yourself that THIS IS NOT YOUR FAULT. Getting laid off doesn’t mean anything about your skills, your character, or your performance. It’s easy to see it very personally, and hard not to, but you did nothing wrong. Remind yourself of that. If you had, then none of those people offering to help would do so. You are awesome, just caught up in a cruddy business decision beyond your control.

    9. Lifelong student*

      One thing to consider is when to apply for unemployment insurance. In PA at least, you are unemployed as soon as you no longer are expected to be at work- so the day the lay off becomes effective. You may have too much income from the severance to be able to collect. However, there is something called the “waiting week” between employment and unemployment benefits- and the fact that you had compensation that week does not eliminate the waiting week. Depending on your state and the rules, there may be chances to minimize the loss of compensation.

    10. Hopeful stories*

      I was part of a big round of layoffs about two years ago from a job I absolutely loved. My situation was a little bit different than yours in that I’d been at that company for a REALLY long time, but as much as I tried to spin it in my mind as “I was stagnating and past due for a change,” being cut off from work and colleagues I’d given so much time to felt totally awful.

      The layoffs were very public, so I didn’t really have a choice about telling people, but that ended up working to my advantage. A lot of people in my industry reached out about possible opportunities, two or three of which turned into serious discussions and one of which turned into an actual job offer.

      Because I am terrible at change, I wasn’t really excited about accepting this offer: during negotiation and my first few months, all I could think of was how much I missed my old job. But eventually, I managed to look around and realize, hey, I’m making a lot more money, I’m learning skills I didn’t have previously, and it turns out I love this job, too. And the layoff doesn’t sting nearly as badly as it used to because, frankly, well…I was stagnating and past due for a change.

      For what it’s worth, most of the people I got laid off with landed on their feet as well. So I hope that’s helpful to hear as you navigate this process. Please take some time to breathe if you can. And absolutely ask your former boss to make introductions! He’ll probably be glad to have something tangible he can do for you.

    11. JobHunter*

      That sucks, I am sorry!

      Should you mention the layoff in your cover letter? I think this depends on your previous employer. When I got laid off, I didn’t need to tell anyone. Everyone in my field heard very soon afterwards. I had many people offer help and my Linked In profile views skyrocketed. I sent copies of my resume to colleagues who asked for it. Our supervisor had 1:1s with each of us to get a feel for where we wanted to go next, sent us job listings that looked like a good fit, and encouraged us to help one another in our job search. Have you tried asking your boss for guidance in navigating your transition and job search strategy?

      I suggest taking advantage of whatever resources your company provides you for your transition period. You may not really need to have a career counselor or other assistance but validation and support from another person never hurts.

      As an aside: if you have a confidentiality agreement, definitely read through it carefully or even have an experienced person check for any language that might prevent you from working for a competitor or within a specific geographic region. It will help with your peace of mind when job searching. (Come to think of it, Allison, would you consider writing a post on the FTC non-compete proposal?)

      Good luck Hour.

  37. Part time student*

    Looking for wording suggestions.

    I have worked full time for about 10 months for an international corporation. My boss seems very happy with my work and has already advocated for a good raise.

    I am also taking classes to complete a degree that is directly related to my job. The next class I need will be held on campus Monday mornings or online Tuesday evenings. They only offer this class during the fall term. I have an unmovable standing appointment on Tuesday evenings that I have already had to compromise due to a class I’m taking this term. I don’t want to do that again.

    We currently WFH 4/5 days and campus is only about 15 minutes from the office. I could head to campus in the morning, work remotely until class time, do class for 2 hours, then go into the office. This would actually increase my in-office time per week. Class starts in August so I will have been at this job over a year at that point. My position is salaried and my boss is pretty flexible.

    Looking for wording suggestions to request adjusting my schedule to accommodate the Monday morning class.

    1. Marketing Unicorn Ninja*

      I would just say, ‘Hey Boss, starting in August, I’m going to need to adjust my schedule on Mondays to accommodate the class. Here’s my plan for how that will work, does that work for you?’

      Since you’re salaried, this shouldn’t be a big deal, and as long as your boss knows and you out it on your calendar so other people know you’ll never be available on Mondays from 9 to 11, I doubt anyone would bat an eye.

  38. The Crowening*

    Hi! This question/issue is partly about work, partly about school, and partly about parenting. I hope y’all might have some insights.

    Daughter was an achiever in high school but got no help from the guidance counselors. When it was time to apply for colleges, she either didn’t know or just didn’t do it. When I went to college myself, I went to the local community college because my parent worked there, so I didn’t ever do the college-tours/applications thing. Well, she applied late to our closest public university and didn’t get in due to space. They told her to apply again, but she was so freaked out by the rejection that she kind of never recovered. This was almost two years ago. She enrolled at the community college here, and did two semesters, and just really hated it – it’s a tiny, uninspiring school and she had a couple of professors who were duds, which didn’t help her outlook any.

    So she hasn’t taken any classes in a year. She’s 19, lives at home, which is fine with us. She is working! She works her butt off and pays for all her gas and incidentals, and banks the vast majority of her earnings. She isn’t lazy but she is very stuck. For the past year, she has bristled at any discussion of school or careers. Just a few days ago she mentioned never wanting to work for a corporation; she talked about how nice it would be to just work in a shop or something like that. Small and laid-back. I don’t think she realizes you can actually work for an organization… with benefits and decent pay… while still having that small-employer feel and not being micromanaged. To my mind it’s not an issue of what kind of org is it, but what kind of role and what kind of culture.

    Of course, none of this matters if she doesn’t want to talk about it.

    My biggest concern is that she will remain stalled, and therefore dependent – on us, on roommates, on others in general, and she’s so smart and strong-willed I just hate the thought of her not having enough control of her life. I know college isn’t the only way to a career, but she doesn’t seem to want a career at all, and with everything priced the way it is, I don’t think she realizes what she is giving up by deciding “I don’t like this school, I don’t want to work for a corporation, therefore I will just… stop trying.”

    I guess I don’t have a specific question, other than have any of you navigated this? Any advice?

    1. Anonymous Koala*

      Maybe encouraging her to try counseling? Being rejected from the state school must have been a huge shock to a high achieving high school student, especially if she saw her classmates get into similar schools. An outside perspective might help her process that and clarify her goals.
      Also I wonder if she’d be receptive to a conversation about people who have jobs that she thinks she’d like to have – relatives, friends, influencers, etc. That might be a place to start researching what her career could look like in 5-10 years, and how to make it happen now.
      I personally wouldn’t get into the “never wants to work for a corporation comment” even though I agree with you re: culture. In my experience it’s really hard to understand how bosses affect company culture until someone’s worked for a few different bosses themselves. If she’s excited about small businesses or entrepreneurship, maybe that’s something you can help her learn more about?

    2. Mockingjay*

      What about short-term courses or certifications? A lot of industries are moving toward these things. Just learn what she needs, whether an excel course or an IT cert. Most are self-paced. It’s not a huge commitment and it will add a specific skill to her resume that a small business will find valuable. Some courses are free; you only pay for the exam.

      Ask her what industries and/or roles she’s interested in, then find certs or courses that fit. She can take these over time as she works.

    3. Goddess47*

      I’m thinking she’s only 19. She’s not slacking off or just sitting around, if she’s working and has money in the bank. *You* have aspirations for her, let her find her own aspirations for herself. If she likes small-employer positions, what is wrong with that? Small businesses are what make the world more interesting… maybe some day she’ll be interested in running her own business and then she’ll be ready to learn what she needs to know to do that.

      And stop nagging. If she’s bristling at the discussion of jobs and careers, stop talking about it. She’s healthy, working, and not a burden. Enjoy her company while you have it.

      1. deliboy*

        Agree completely with goddess47. I’ve had family that was in this position, but did not work nearly as hard (or at all) and stalled in the way you may be fearing. It doesn’t sound like your daughter is going to go down that path. She’s already mentioned of wanting to work *somewhere*, which in itself is huge and means there’s a drive there, just perhaps towards something different than you’re envisioning.

        You sound supportive, and it sounds like she’ll do great on whatever she ends up deciding on. Make sure not to alienate her by pushing her towards things she doesn’t want to do.

      2. ecnaseener*

        Yep, she’s interested in small shopkeeping jobs so help her look for small shopkeeping jobs. Maybe she’s right and it’ll be the perfect fit for her, or maybe she’ll hate it, only one way to find out. Maybe she’ll like it for awhile and then decide she wants more money and the freedom that affords, or she wants or a more ‘career’-y job for its own sake, and then she’ll be motivated to make that change. But maybe not – plenty of people are happy without those things.

        I think you’re being unfair to her in characterizing this as “stopping trying.” She’s working hard, she doesn’t want a career at least for now. Why should she try for something she doesn’t want?

      3. The Crowening*

        I’m not nagging. I haven’t brought it up in nearly a year because it would just upset her. You’re totally right – she’s not a burden at all, she’s healthy, and I’m very glad she’s working and I love to hear about her workplace (and she loves to talk about it). When she mentioned the thing about corporations the other day, what led her to it was the jobs that a movie character had and how much she liked the idea of those kinds of jobs. I didn’t bring it up and didn’t push it beyond that either, other than to mention there are lots of workplaces that have a decent culture.

        1. Snoozing not schmoozingSnoozing not schmoozing*

          I had to learn the hard way that I didn’t fit into the corporate world. Your daughter is ahead of me at a young age! IF the topic of careers/future work comes up, you could gently mention not-for-profit organizations like museums, which can have entry-level jobs like visitor services and other positions. Not everyone needs to have a career. Some of us do just fine having cool jobs for a long time.

      4. Jaydee*

        Enthusiastically seconding what Goddess47 said.

        Your daughter will be fine. She’s brand new to being an adult. Not getting into college is probably one of her first big setbacks in her life. Right now, she needs to build confidence in her ability to make decisions about her life. She needs to make mistakes and learn from them and experience the satisfaction of making choices that work out for her. They don’t have to be the choices you want her to make.

        On your end as a parent, it’s time to take a big step back. Start talking to her about her plans less like a parent and more like you would talk to a friend. Don’t offer advice unless she specifically asks for it. Be curious and positive about her choices as long as they’re not actually harmful. Also, don’t assume she’s 100% committed to whatever she talks about and that something she mentioned wanting to do is now a to-do list item with a deadline. When she says she thinks she wants to work in a smaller shop, say things like “Oh, that sounds neat. Any particular kind of shops?” Don’t send her job leads, don’t impose your own timeline on her, and if she never talks about it again and instead decides she wants to work at a bakery or take a pottery class or work on a political campaign or teach yoga or whatever else, that’s just fine too.

        Now, if your daughter decides to start making meth in your basement or move to Wyoming with some guy she met online last month, you don’t have to show enthusiasm for those choices. But generally speaking, back off and enjoy watching her find her way in the world.

    4. Gracely*

      Honestly, you’re probably not going to be able to talk her out of the idea of working in a small shop or whatever until she actually does it and sees if it’s what she actually enjoys. I would just help her try to find that kind of job. And then be supportive of her in that job.

      Whatever you do, don’t force the school/career conversation; at this point, she’s going to need to be the one to initiate it because it sounds like it’s become a conversational landmine. If you’re otherwise supportive of the decisions she makes, then eventually it may become a safe topic again, but not if you keep bringing it up and undermining what she says she wants.

      Plenty of people have great control of their lives without having “a career”. And she is only 19–there is plenty of time for her to experiment with different jobs and find what works for her. If she is smart and strong-willed, combined with support from her parents and friends, she’ll almost certainly find her way to something that is good for her. (Not to mention, you literally never know what job will or won’t lead to discovering a stable future, especially nowadays in the bonkers economy we have. Twitter and tons of other tech firms were great, stable companies until suddenly they weren’t.)

      I say this having watched my parents deal with the exact same thing with my younger brother, and to a smaller extent, myself. My brother now makes serious bank working for himself, successfully ran for city council, and is definitely not someone you would’ve thought lived with his parents until he was 28. Most of the advice they gave him would’ve hindered him if he had listened to it. As for me, I have a stable job in a field completely different from what I went to college for, that I got experience in working as a part-time student; my parents tried to steer me in a (corporate) direction that would’ve made me completely miserable if I’d listened. As much as you know your kids, they do generally know themselves better.

      If your daughter wasn’t motivated by *anything* or was in her late 20s in this same situation, then I’d worry. But for now, give her some space to discover what is actually going to work for her.

    5. DancinProf*

      I know a few people (all women, as it happens) who are like this. They have all made their way to independence and stable, remunerative jobs , but it has taken time–like, well into their 20s if not 30s–and in each case has involved finding motivation other than professional advancement or independence for the sake of being independent. Broadly speaking, they work to live rather than living to work. Your daughter may just not have found her “thing” yet, and like most young people she hasn’t yet discovered the variety of jobs and companies and possibilities that are out there, so she’s speaking in generalizations. If she is working and saving then she already has the baseline elements of work ethic, personal discipline, etc. Is there something that isn’t work that she’s really into and you could encourage? That would expose her to more people and possibilities and change the conversation/dynamic between the two of you.

    6. MouseMouseMouse*

      I don’t have a lot of advice, but I will say that I went through a similar “corporations SUCK, I’d rather work for a small business or non-profit, I don’t care if I’m poor!” phase. (Coming from an upper-class family, I had no idea what “poor” actually meant and I cringe remembering how many times I defiantly declared that to people.) However, I did a 180-turn as soon as I got my first internship at a corporation, where I was supported in a wonderful environment. So changing this kind of thinking is definitely possible

      Because your daughter currently isn’t interested in actively looking for the traditional school/corporation path, I would give her space and time, especially if she’s bristling at any mention. You unfortunately won’t be able to convince her of what she’s giving up — she has to realize this on her own, either the easy way (learning more about the world herself, experiencing it via acquaintances) or the hard way (experiencing it herself).

    7. The Crowening*

      Thanks to everyone for the feedback. I really do appreciate it.

      To clear up a couple of things… I haven’t been nagging her. It would upset her so much to discuss that we just gave up on talking about it almost a year ago. It only came up the other day when she was talking about some fictional characters’ jobs – she brought it up.

      By “career” all I mean is “pay you can survive on and medical benefits that won’t leave you wiped out if something bad happens.” I don’t have anything against low-key shop jobs at all. My fantasy job is to go work at the hardware store, wearing an apron, hosing down the plants, answering questions, and running away from bees. I just don’t want her to end up feeling trapped at home with parents and sibling as she gets older and can’t afford rent, or to be in her late 20s (off our insurance) and have a medical emergency and no medical insurance, etc. That’s all. And no, I haven’t said any of this to her – it’s just driving all *my* own worry. We struggled with income early in our marriage and I hate the thought of the same thing happening to her.

      1. WellRed*

        I’m a smart person good student type. I worked at some small print shops for several years before hitting college. I’m fine. I had more disposable income as a 22 year old without student debt ; ) I’m now 53. She’ll be fine and find her way when she’s ready. Also, young folk have been railing against working for the man since corporate became a thing. Normal.

      2. Squidhead*

        Late reply but I was a smart kid (academically) and I felt like there were a lot of things people assumed I knew how to do that I did not, in fact, know how to do. I did apply for and go to college, but sometimes smart kids get overlooked because they seem calm and capable but we actually don’t know what we don’t know.

        So, while she’s at home and if she is receptive, maybe work on other things that might get missed? How to do your taxes, set up a savings account that gets interest, how to learn how to cook a new recipe, organize all the elements of a family trip…fun stuff and practical stuff that gives her practice navigating new situations, planning, asking questions, anticipating needs, etc. This might start to give her confidence that she can tackle bigger endeavors instead of dismissing them (but she still might never want to work for a corporation!)

    8. Irish Teacher*

      The first thing I’d ask is does she feel stuck or is that just how it looks to you? Is she worried about any of this?

      Also, is she aware of what’s out there? She seems to be thinking solely in terms of “work for a corporation or a small business,” when those are not the only options. Would she have any interest in teaching? Medicine (some doctors work for themselves)? Dentistry? Social work? Childcare? Working in a museum or a library? Any kind of apprenticeship? Mechanics for example often work in the equivalent of a shop but it’s a good job. What are her interests?

      And she does have time. She’ll probably figure out herself if she is on the wrong path and she can always change paths.

    9. CrankyIsta*

      Ouch–this wasn’t me, but it easily could have been. She made that one mistake of applying late and now isn’t sure how to get out of it. And the longer she’s stuck, the worse it feels. So, yeah, therapy? It sounds like she probably could use a neutral party to clarify that not going the traditional path isn’t awful but there are also ways back onto if she wants.

    10. DrFresh*

      When I read ‘shop,’ I went instantly to something more technical (and not a florist or something). Has she ever considered apprenticing for a trade – such as an electrician or for something in manufacturing?

      I have a friend who had many white collar jobs (has a masters degree) who quit and became an electrician through an apprenticeship (which, in most cases, pay) and she loves it.

    11. Spearmint*

      People’s aspirations, for both their career and life in general, change a lot in their young adult years. I was completely unsure what I wanted to do at 19, by 21 I wanted to live a life of the mind as a professor, by 23 I wanted to be a political staffer, and then I ended up in my current career track at 25. I was in school, working, or applying for work the whole time. So some of this might just involve being patient.

      Also, do you have any family or friends with the good kind of corporate jobs she can talk to? Maybe that will help her get perspective that not all corporate jobs are awful. Specific examples can resonate far more than generalities.

  39. Anonymous Koala*

    I’ve decided to leave my current position for an internal transfer. My decision is due to a mix of issues with upper management (inefficiencies, unequal allocation of resources and assignments, etc) and problems with my new boss (immaturity, lack of support for long term goals). I have a great relationship with my director and suspect that she will ask me why I am leaving when I make my announcement. How honest should I be with her about these issues? She’s aware of some of my frustrations with upper management, but we haven’t discussed the issues with new boss before.

    1. Goddess47*

      Since you’re staying in the same company, decide what kind of bridges you want to burn and how much you can trust your director.

      The ‘polite’ version is to describe your new boss (the one you’re leaving) as a ‘personality mis-match and we have different goals’ and the new job is ‘an opportunity you’ve been wanting to pursue’.

      What will the director do if you tell the unvarnished truth? Is it something she can fix or do something about? If she can do something about an immature boss, closer supervision or training, then letting her know may be useful.

      It may feel good to vent but that’s what we are here for. Vent to us…

      Good luck with that new position!

      1. Anonymous Koala*

        The director can definitely do something about my boss (he’s two levels below her) but she might not want to – we’ve had a rough time with hiring recently.
        You’re right that I shouldn’t take this as an opportunity to vent. I guess I’m struggling to figure out whether I can say something to help my department without potentially burning a bridge. It’s probably safest to stay on the polite but bland side.
        And thank you. The AAM commentary is the best, most supportive place to vent. :)

  40. Cringeworthy?*

    This is a fairly low-stakes question, but just want a second opinion if my gut reaction was off base or not. I (35F) work in a male-dominated industry and am currently the only woman on my team. During our daily team stand-up meeting this week, a coworker wished me specifically a happy international women’s day. I know his heart was in the right place, but it felt a little cringy to me – maybe because it was unnecessarily drawing attention to the fact that I’m the only woman. Is this actually cringy or am I off base? For additional context, most of the team (me included) is in the U.S., but this person is in another country that makes a bigger deal of women’s day than the U.S. does. There’s also an age gap – most of the team is within 10 years of my age, but this person is closer in age to my parents.

    1. Roland*

      To me in the US, yes it is cringey to wish the one woman on your team “happy international women’s day”. I attended an allhands that day and the first speaker wished everyone a happy iwd which was only a little cringey in the “are you actually doing anything tho” way but didn’t single anyone out, something like that is fine imo vs singling a person out.

    2. Hiring Mgr*

      I’m Jewish, and there have been times where someone on a call or meeting will say to me (as the only jew in the meeting) Happy New Year, or Happy Chanukah. It’s completely fine and not at all problematic to me – I don’t think i gave it a second thought.

      But just speaking for myself here, not sure if it comes across differently somehow for IWD

    3. MouseMouseMouse*

      I can definitely see how it would feel awkward or disingenuous, given you’re the only woman. At a workplace with a more natural gender split, it feels less disingenuous because both women and men are saying it to each other (I heard it from all types of folks this year), so it’s possible your coworker was coming from that kind of context where he’s used to saying it; but I do agree that it feels cringy to say happy international women’s day to the only woman in a team of men.

      That being said, not sure it’s something worth speaking up about — you know your team best.

    4. EngineerMom*

      It wouldn’t be weird in my company but we are very international company which organized a lot of IWD events, panels, and acknowledgement of the day from the highest level of managements so it was all very visible. I think it’s definitely cultural because I know some women in other countries who would be miffed if people don’t acknowledge IWD.

    5. Alicia*

      Personally I do not see it as cringy.
      You can ask him not to do it again, but I would express it as your preference (“I prefer to avoid drawing attention to the fact that there’s only one woman on our team”), rather than “obviously he was out of line to do it.”
      Now, if you asked him not to do it again, and he did it again, then he would be a jerk.

    6. Zephy*

      I don’t think there was malicious intent, especially given the cultural and age difference, but you’re allowed to feel uncomfortable about it. If you feel like spending the capital to address it, you could do so privately with your teammate. You could say something like “I understand your intention was positive, but taking time out of our stand-up to wish me, specifically, a happy international women’s day has the effect of highlighting that I’m the only woman on the team – I want to be seen as a professional and your colleague first and foremost. It does not feel good to be singled out like that, especially in an industry that has historically not been welcoming to women – the way it comes off is that you stopped the meeting to remind me and everyone else that I am different, and that isn’t important to the work that we do. Would you feel appreciated if I or someone else stopped our meeting to remind everyone about your [unique feature – physical, cultural, etc]?”

    7. Qwerty*

      I would cringe too. Someone can be well meaning and still miss the mark.

      It reminds me of when guys greet the room with “Hello Gentleman!….and lady” – I get they are trying to be inclusive but it just reminds me that I’m the outlier.

    8. Dark Macadamia*

      Yeah that’s cringy. It’s not really that sort of holiday… feels kind of like saying Happy MLK Day, but only to Black people.

    9. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Yeah, I think it’s cringy.

      But there are parts of the world where International Women’s Day is A Thing, and they don’t necessarily understand that’s it not in the US. So I’d give this person the benefit of the doubt – for geography, not age. But totally ok for you to say “Hey, I’m not a fan of the thing, so I’d prefer if you didn’t refer to it again in the future. And I suspect most other women in the US feel the same way.”

    10. Cringeworthy?*

      Thanks for all the comments – always good to get some additional perspectives on something like this. For what it’s worth, in the moment I just said thanks. I wasn’t super bothered by it because I know the person well enough to be confident there were no ill intentions behind it. I don’t plan to address it any further unless it becomes part of a pattern, since bringing it up again would make it into more of a “thing” than it needs to be.

      1. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

        I find it 100% cringey, like would have a hard time hiding my feelings on my face cringey.

        But I also would chalk it up to a “Well that was super cringe, I guess it’s sweet that he tried and got it so wrong” moment that you can dismiss and never think about again, rather than something you would want to actively discuss with the person in a “please don’t do this” type of way. Extremely eye-roll-inducing but also the kind of thing reasonable people might differ in reactions to, as well.

        1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

          It may have been awkward, but “super cringe” and “so wrong” seem pretty excessively negative reactions.

      2. Anecdata*

        I think it’s a little unusual in the US but I have worked both internationally in countries where it’s been more a thing; and at US companies with large international presences and can confirm that it is absolutely a normal, wouldn’t register as cringe-y thing, so I’d let it go

    11. Water Lily*

      If I were the only left-handed person on my team, and someone wished me a happy left-handed person day, I’d be fine.

      If I were gay and the only gay person on my team and a straight person on my team wished me a happy pride on June 1, I’d be fine.

      Of course, I don’t even want people wishing me a happy birthday so there’s that.

      Is it possible there’s a difference between cringy and awkward? If a straight person wished me a happy pride, that’s awkward and cringy. If he wished me a happy pride and then asked if I was celebrating with mimosas and feather boas, then it’s cringy.

      1. anonymous cringer*

        I think it’s cringey. I’m also female assigned at birth/technically nonbinary, but not safe to be out/feel out of place with many other women bc I’m not super feminine, too. I was cringing a lot this week…

        When things like that happen, I feel like I’m being pushed to endorse the gender binary or “thanks for emphasizing how othered I feel”… ugh.

  41. NeonDreams*

    Monday I have an interview with a job at my company that would be a much better fit than my current one. It could save me from unemployment. I shouldn’t be putting all my eggs in one basket but I really want this job. I thoroughly enjoyed interviewing with the panelists and feel I would work well with them.

    However, there’s a huge monkey wrench. After the end of the next week, I could be terminated because my improvement plan expires. Technically, you’re not allowed to transfer internally while this stage is going on. I applied to this job before the performance plan was put in place I had signed one documented counseling but wasn’t sure if that counted. Should I mention that to the director in my interview? If so, how should I frame it? I feel like I would be lying if I didn’t. My current manager knows my dissatisfaction with my position and seems like she would let me transfer if I am selected.

    Then if I’m not selected, I’ll be unemployed. My current boss told me enacting the improvement plan would be the end of the line. I have an appointment with a disability counselor to help move forward and navigate that mess.

    The uncertainty is killing me. I could either up in the best case scenario (move to the new job with a pay raise) or end up jobless. Being in my current one isn’t an long term option. I’ve been underperforming for months.

    Thank you for reading. This situation is overwhelming.

    1. RagingADHD*

      I think you should reach out to HR today to clarify the rules about the timing of the transfer vs PIP. It’s all going to be on record, so if there is a problem, the new manager will find out about it whether you tell them or not.

    2. Velociraptor Attack*

      Trying to clarify, are you expecting that you definitely will be terminated when your improvement plan expires or are you hoping to pass the improvement plan so it opens the door for this job? I thought it was latter but you mention that if you aren’t selected you’ll be unemployed and that the improvement plan is the end of the line.

      I echo RagingADHD, talk to HR and quickly so it can hopefully clarify some things. If you have that clarification before your interview, you can also discuss the situation with them, it’s the same organization so they’ll know about it at some point (and they very well already might know).

      1. NeonDreams*

        I expect not to meet the improvement plan parameters because it’s the same production standard that’s been in place for months and I’ve not met it in the 1.5 years I’ve been here. My hope is that if I don’t meet the plan, my boss will still be able to let me move on if I’m selected. I’ve told this department for months I’m not happy and I’m looking elsewhere. The new job is what I’m hoping to break in into (writing). Maybe I’m delusional because I want the new one so badly.

        1. NeonDreams*

          I expect to either be terminated if I’m not selected or am not allowed to move due to the improvement plan on record or move on to the new job. I’m hoping against hope I’ll be selected and be allowed to move.

          1. Velociraptor Attack*

            Definitely talk to HR.

            You also want the other department to be aware of the situation since they technically can’t offer you the position if you’re on an improvement plan. While surely HR knows you’re applying for the internal transfer, it’s possible they haven’t thought out the logistics of it in terms of you being on an improvement plan. You’d probably also want to confirm with HR if being terminated would disqualify you from being rehired.

  42. Collie*

    I have a conditional offer for my first real supervising role via an internal promotion. Yay! I already have Alison’s management book on hold at the library and her management posts roundup page bookmarked, but what other resources do folks love and recommend for first-time managers?

    If it’s (public) library specific, even better!

    1. Prospect gone bad*

      I have a book called The First-Time Manager by Loren Belker and Jim McCormick

      Just an idea

      I also like Being The Leader by Linda Hill and Kent Linebacker

    2. cardigarden*

      If there’s someone you know who’s a manager that you trust to give quality advice, definitely ask to pick their brain. I’m in an academic library and I have reached out to several former supervisors on various occasions to get their advice on things I’ve had to deal with. Additionally, if you’ve ever had a sh** manager, make a list of things they did that were bad as a reminder of things not to do. Good luck!

    3. .-.*

      There is a book: Accidental Library manager by Rachel Singer Gordon that I found a good read.

  43. Cellyn*

    I’m six months into a new role and I’ve been struggling a little because the work has been a lot different from what I had expected. It’s baffled me a bit because my work does actually align with the job description (as much as any work does), so I’ve been wondering why my expectations were so far off. Yesterday I had the realization that it’s actually because the job description didn’t match the posting. It’s mostly similar so I didn’t notice it for a long time, but in reality, some of the less-appealing responsibilities were left off the posting and I can’t remember them coming up in the interviews.

    For example, it’s like being a data analyst who usually works behind the scenes but this particular role also requires occasional public presentations to an unfriendly audience. I suspect that it was left off because it was estimated at only 10% of the job but my feeling is that it’s far enough outside the usual for a role like this, and something that many people may find uncomfortable, that it should have been covered at some point during the process.

    My manager is conflict-avoidant and ineffective so it’s difficult to imagine a conversation would improve anything but I’m planning to mention it during our goal-setting next week. If this is work that needs to be done, it would reasonably belong to my role so I also can’t imagine that there’s much opportunity to change. Am I correct in thinking that I’ll likely need to either acclimate or move on? It’s frustrating because I had really hoped this would be a role/organization I could settle into for at least five years and combined with the awful workplace culture, I just don’t see it happening.

    1. Somehow_I_Manage*

      “If this is work that needs to be done, it would reasonably belong to my role so I also can’t imagine that there’s much opportunity to change.”

      If that’s correct, then yes, you’ll likely need to acclimate or move on. Whether or not it was bait and switch doesn’t really matter- roles are always subject to change. But it is similarly reasonable to at least ask whether they can better accommodate the position to your needs before cutting bait.

    2. Trauma Llama*

      Something similar just happened on my team, and I feel awful for the new person who keeps getting blindsided with unexpected job duties. I’ve finally gained enough seniority to participate in recruiting efforts for my team, and I do everything I can to head this kind of thing off, but my team made this hire while I was unavailable and the results confirmed my suspicions that they don’t quite understand or properly value the role.

      That said, I’ve rarely applied for or gotten a job where the job description was an accurate reflection of the day to day work. This didn’t bother me as much earlier in my career when I was hungry for opportunities, but it’s aggravating now that I have a solid skillset and clear path and don’t want to waste time on misleading job postings. I’m envious of roles that are easier to describe in a job posting and come with a lot of built in structure.

  44. StellaBella*

    Tips for morale boosting activities for teams that are not expensive?

    I am trying to help improve morale and also wellbeing by planning a monthly lunch out for our team where we just eat at a restaurant on own dime. We are all paid well enough to do this.

    HR is no help nor is there funding for stuff like this.

    Something social but in work hours? Ideas?

    1. Lily Rowan*

      As you know if you have been reading here, it REALLY depends on the people and context. But I’ve been on teams that in addition to lunch, enjoyed a breakfast get-together — if you bought some pastries and told people to bring their own drink, it might not be too expensive, depending on the size of the group? Or rotate an occasional morning or afternoon treat? Potlucks can be great, if most people in the group cook.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Are you looking to primarily boost morale or primarily do something social? I’d say you could probably boost morale by giving your direct reports some unexpected vacation days.

      1. Gracely*

        Yeah, this is the question you need to ask–do you know that doing something social will *actually* boost morale? If you do know (because your employees have said that they want more time to socialize, etc.) then great. If you’re just looking for something to boost morale without knowing people want that, though, forced socialization could backfire.

        The best cheap/free morale boosters I’ve gotten unsolicited at work have been thank you notes from people I worked with, flexibility with my hours, praise in front of others/to my grandboss about projects I’ve worked hard on, and the occasional free coffee/tea from the Starbucks we have next door (sometimes our boss accompanies us and treats, sometimes they buy a traveler of coffee with creamer/sweeteners and put it out in the break room).

    3. Qwerty*

      Bringing your own lunch to a conference room is an alternative to eating out if you suspect anyone would be uncomfortable with the restaurant.

      There are fun group games that can be done if you plan it during work hours. Drawasaurus was a popular site for my remote team (basically pictionary but individuals rather than teams). Bomb Corp by Jackbox games was fun – each person has a hint on which wire to cut on their phone and the team has to put all the info together to win/lose as a team. Sometimes I bring in cards from Imaginiff and we just talk about the questions/topics rather than doing the whole board game part or keeping score.

    4. HIPAA-potamus*

      Asking staff to pay for their own lunch is far from a morale booster. Forget that. Give them 5 extra floating PTO days a year. Or more money. Time. Money. That’s what it boils down to. Cut to the chase.

      1. 62Cents*

        Please stop, it is so unlikely that the OP is in a position to give anyone extra PTO, $, or Time that it’s becoming a trope here when everyone replies with those ‘suggestions’. The OP is looking for something social and fun that is within their control and influence. Can we all for once just stick to that scope and not try to solve all the workplace ills when asked for a suggestion like this.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          But they’re asking for ideas, with the current plan being to make people pay for their own morale booster. Pointing out what people will/won’t appreciate is helpful feedback whether OP can implement it or not.

          1. 62Cents*

            The not making people pay for their own meal is useful feedback and I wasn’t saying it wasn’t.

            Give everyone a raise and extra PTO is only an option for a small subset of people in an organization that the odds that the OP does have that power makes the suggestion not actionable for the vast majority of posters here that it’s not helpful. And quite honestly makes people like the OP with otherwise good intentions feel like crap.

            1. HIPAA-potamus*

              Maybe so, but at the very least, OP could advocate to the Powers That Be for those things, which is what people really want, while also planning other affordable activities or rewards on the company dime. I’m not speaking from anger or hostility here- just from the reality of having been on various “morale” committees.

        2. Anonymous Educator*

          it is so unlikely that the OP is in a position to give anyone extra PTO

          How do we know this?

          1. HIPAA-potamus*

            Exactly. It was not explicitly stated. OP asked for our opinion, and mine was that a morale booster that involves employees shelling out their money- is counter-intuitive to the point of being insulting.

          2. Rex Libris*

            The odds are very against it, since the comment didn’t start with “I’m the CEO and…” I’m third in the hierarchy in an institution of about 100 people, and not only can I not just randomly give extra money or time off as “morale boosters,” I’d be seen as wildly out of touch if I suggested it. YMMV, of course.

    5. 62Cents*

      Dependent on the group but here are a few things that I’ve done with good success:

      Bingo – not sure why but I had a team of closet competitors… bingo was a big hit on my team and could be played throughout the day by email. (It was opt-in and I would set up the emails with a specific subject so people could ignore if they wanted). It took a little time to set up the emails to delay send, but not too bad. Could also be adapted for holidays, training reinforcement, and other things.

      Sports Brackets- Even non-sports minded people can get into it. (See competitive team above) I’d set up a bracket on an online free site, send out the link with an article about all the goofy ways people pick teams (mascot matchups, dominate uniform colors, etc) It gave the group something to chat about, nobody took it very seriously.

      My favorite one was on a day that the lottery jackpot was getting really high, I spent $20 on tickets for the team. I sent an email with the numbers and said “Quick what will you do with your share ($135M) of the $675M Jackpot!” Everyone spent 5 minutes or so emailing the team the team their lottery winning plans. Then the next day I sent an email with “Quick what are you going to do with the $0.62 that you actually won” Another round of emails with the silly things they could get for their 62 cents.

      If you have a space for your team like a breakroom, empty cube, or a table… toss a small puzzle out on the table while nobody is looking. It’s a great break activity or spot to linger over conversation for a few minutes while fiddling with the pieces… Most people will stop by and spend a few minutes chatting, putting a few pieces together, while getting a cup of coffee.

    6. Dark Macadamia*

      I mean, I enjoy restaurants and having lunch with colleagues but being required to combine the two every month at my own expense would not boost my morale.

      The best thing to improve morale is time: day off, leave early, even additional planning time by canceling a meeting. Removing a requirement or task that feels unnecessary. etc

    7. Candy*

      First tip is that to truly boost morale the company should be paying for all team building activities, regardless of whether you’re all well paid or not.

      My team only just recently started doing team building and have been aiming for doing it twice a year. So far we’ve:
      Done a beach clean (cost: here if you tell the City you’re doing this they provide you with gloves, garbage pickers, bags, etc and pick up the garbage after you’re done, so the only cost was drinks at a pub beside the beach afterwards)
      One of our team members has a farm so we spent an afternoon there hanging out with their animals (cost: gas/transit, BYOB)
      We also did an escape room once (cost: about $350 for the group)
      This year we’re looking at partnering with the YMCA who have a corporate volunteering program

      1. Anecdata*

        I am lucky enough to live in a place where the weather supports this, but low key stuff outside is nice — eg. Can you do a first Friday, bring your lunch and sit at the picnic tables quick break?

        If your on the team/not in a manager/supervisor role, I think you do have a little more leeway to suggest things people pay for themselves, but it’s got to be truly optional. The team I’m on usually goes out to a self paid lunch once a month or so, but it’s “hey, I’m checking out X new ramen place, anyone want to come” not “the companies plan to improve team morale is … You all buy your own lunch”

    8. allathian*

      You may know your team members’ salaries, but you don’t necessarily know their expenses. You definitely don’t know their spending priorities, and for many people, work-related morale boosters are very low on their priority list. Making team members pay for such activities is okay if, and only if, it’s truly voluntary, and the team members aren’t penalized, either explicitly or implicitly, for deciding to skip the event.

      So saying “I’m going to try that new Thai restaurant that opened last week, who wants to join me for lunch tomorrow?” is fine, even if everyone pays for their own lunch.

      I still WFH most of the time, but when I do go to the office, I’m always up for going to lunch with my coworkers. I enjoy their company, and I work mostly alone, even when I’m at the office.

      If the team already works well together and people trust each other and enjoy each other’s company at least to some extent, team building events can be fun. But if the team is already stressed out and team members can barely stand each other, no amount of team building’s going to improve things.

  45. Not a Child Abuser*

    How long of a background check process is normal/reasonable? I accepted a contingent job offer at the end of January, and was told it would take 4-5 weeks to complete the background check, with a possible start date of March 6. I’m now hearing that one of the searches run takes 6-8 weeks and wasn’t initiated until February 9, which means I’m looking at starting mid-April at the earliest. This isn’t what I agreed to!

    I’m not currently working, and I haven’t been actively job searching since I accepted the offer, though I have accepted interviews for positions I applied to before (none have panned out). I know nothing will come up on the background check (it’s a CPS check in a state I live in for 6 months at age 22–I didn’t interact with any children!). If I had known in January that it would be 2-3 months instead of 1-2 before I started, I would have looked for some short-term work, but at this point I’m just screwed, right? Is this normal?!

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      It really depends on the agency. At my job, new hires have to go through a Federal government background check (we’re highly regulated) and the government agency that handles this is short-staffed at the moment. It sucks (we need people desperately) but there’s not much we can do about it. We can prod the agency, but every minute they spend answering the phone or an email is a minute they can’t spend doing the actual background check.

    2. Honor Harrington*

      For some types of background checks, it is sadly normal. For example, if the job is with a financial services company, many of them have to do a very very deep background check, and those take longer.

    3. TX_Trucker*

      It depends on the type of background check. For most of our entry level office jobs, a background check takes a few days; a bit more if the applicant lived in multiple states. But for our “sensitive positions” it can take multiple months, especially for jobs that deal with our government contracts.

    4. Llama Llama*

      My work has been terrible about that lately. From what I heard it’s about government agencies being short staffed. My former team hired someone 4 months after the initial hire. It was absolutely not okay and lots of escalations for even that.

  46. Dino*

    Can we have a manager/boss appreciation thread? What is something your manager does that makes your work life better?

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      He notices and says something when I do something especially good. He trusts me and mostly leaves me alone to do my work. He works with me when I have problems.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Shielding me from as much BS as possible, so I can focus more on doing my job. Giving me raises without me asking for them.

    3. Cookies for Breakfast*

      I trust my current manager to let me know straight away if there’s an issue with my work, rather than surprising me with it during a formal review or letting it linger unspoken. That’s more than I could say about any other manager I’ve had (ranging from the passive-aggressive to the conflict-avoidant).

      Also, this manager was very honest with me about the challenges of the position during my interview process, and made me feel I could be honest about my experience too. That was so helpful to decide whether I was ok taking the job, and no doubt, helpful to them with working out whether I was a good fit (in most other companies, managers expect a different skillset from someone with my title, and that’s okay).

    4. Gracely*

      FLEXIBLITY/FLEXIBLE HOURS.

      My boss’s hands are tied when it comes to pay and a lot of other things, but the man gets how important flexibility is when it comes to work. Also, trusting us to do our jobs and letting us do them.

      It makes such a huge difference–given how terrible our upper admin is, I almost certainly would’ve looked for another job by now if it weren’t for the fact that I don’t think I can find another job doing what I enjoy that’s as flexible as the one I’ve got now.

      1. Squawkberries*

        My direct manager is not the best in many ways, BUT he never gives me a hard time about time off or needing flex during the day.

    5. GlowCloud*

      Is generally visible throughout the day – she makes a point to be in the space we all occupy first thing in the morning, keeps us updated on anything we need to know, and makes herself very approachable. She will make a note and follow up on anything we bring to her attention, and is very personable. – If she passes by where I’m working, we’ll have a brief exchange about how it’s going, but she trusts me and my Team Leader to be on top of what we’re doing. I totally trust her to handle things with good sense, and she’s willing to be flexible.

    6. ecnaseener*

      My manager is pretty great! A few things I really appreciate:
      – knowledgeable and always happy to help/advise
      – but trusts me to handle my own work and make judgment calls
      – straightforward
      – very intentional about focusing on solutions/prevention rather than blame (I know people have mixed experiences with this approach, but I really like being able to say “I made X mistake so I’ll draft Y change to the process checklist” and have her say “ok sounds good” and that’s the end of it)

    7. DisneyChannelThis*

      My old manager was great. He would read back action items with me at the end of 1:1s. It was really helpful to make sure we had the same prioritization too. We’d have like 1.5hr meeting planning out a bunch of stuff and then at the end he’d go okay so the 6 main tasks are 1,2,3,4,5,6 and task 2 and task 3 should be priority. It gave me a chance to jump in to with like 3 cant happen until 1 is done or 5 has a longer component we’re not considering.

    8. Christmas Carol*

      During COVID, my partner was diagnosed with cancer. When things opened up we started returning to the office a couple of days a week. I was informed, before I even asked, that I was to continue to be classified as 100% remote, because he didn’t want me to be worried about any carrying home any potential exposure to anything.

    9. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

      My current manager does (or refrains from doing) several things I appreciate. It’s more noticeable because it’s a change from the last couple folks who held that role.

      -No unnecessary meetings; group chats or emails cover a lot of info/procedure coordination, leaving actual meetings for collaboration, interactive feedback, and training that’s best accomplished hands-on and interactive. Meetings have a defined, work-related purpose, and involve only people whose jobs are relevant to the meeting topic, who have input or will be working together on it. No meetings just because someone likes to hear themself talk, or for ‘team building’ with people whose work otherwise doesn’t intersect.

      -Encourages reports to pursue professional development opportunities and maintain work-life balance, offering flexibility about scheduling, duties, and leave use to accommodate pursuing those things.

      -Proactively lobbies for raises and bonuses for strong performers.

      -Doesn’t micromanage or expect (or model) constant availability, but is consistently (not constantly) available to answer questions or facilitate things that need a push from someone higher up the org chart.

      -Uses people’s requested names and means of address even if those are not officially recognized, and corrects mistakes (own and others) without making a fuss.

      There are a few other areas in which my manager would need to improve a bit to meet “ideal boss” standards but overall I have no complaints and a lot of gratitude.

    10. WellRed*

      My boss every Friday posts “feel goods” on Teams fir the team, calling everyone out for some accomplishment from the week or helpful thing or whatever. Sometimes it’s a stretch for her but I know we all appreciate the effort. Bigger picture: let’s me do my job and is the first person to encourage me to take time off. Even last minute.

    11. onyxzinnia*

      My manager is great. He regularly voices appreciation for the work I do and for my perspective on how we can improve our team processes and content. He never micromanages. He trusts me to get things done from half way across the country. Sometimes I get unnerved by how calm he is after having multiple high strung managers at my last organization. I wish everyone could have a manager like him.

  47. Anongineer*

    Hi! Quick question about work and happiness.

    By all accounts I’m successful in my field, having a coveted job abroad and was just promoted(!). But I work long hours and am not enjoying my life currently.

    What percent of your life do you need to be happy with life and how work affects that? I have a lot of small moments of happiness and I know that where I’m at is everything I’ve worked for, but for the most part I just feel tired and pretty meh here.

    Has anyone else gone through this? What did you do?

    1. ferrina*

      What percent of your life do you need to be happy with life and how work affects that?

      There is no magic number. I think you already know that, but it’s so much easier when we can quantify that we are making the right choice. We want to take away the risk, but the truth is, there will always be some risk. There’s always some imaginary multiverse where we are happier. But you live here and now- how are you feeling? How long have you been feeling that way? Sometimes it’s temporary burnout, but sometimes it’s a part of you saying “I thought I wanted this, but I’m discovering that something else is more important to me”.

      As for what to do next- think about your options. Let your imagination go wild for a bit. What brings you joy? If you could magically change your life, what would you do? Where are you finding meaning? What makes the sucky parts of life suck less? Once you’ve figured out what you’re aiming for, you can start figuring out what realistic expectations and next steps might be. I’m probably not going to be the next Pop Princess at age 40, but I can start writing some songs with the goal of self-funding an album that I’ll just give to friends and family.
      Good luck, and please keep us posted!

    2. Carrots*

      A few thoughts:
      1) You shouldn’t be miserable. If you are actually UNhappy, something needs to change.
      2) All-around happiness isn’t an achievable goal. But you should feel content, fulfilled, productive, and occasionally joyful.
      3) Prestige isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. I think most of us reach a point where we realize that achieving our youthful career ambitions isn’t they key to happiness. It’s okay to re-assess.
      4) Long work hours are the kiss of death. Is there a way that you can do your job well in only 8 hours a day? Can you try setting more boundaries on work time and thus set a great example for junior colleagues? If working in the evenings is required, take more daytime long breaks. If you can’t get the job done in 40 hours, then it’s a crappy job. I’d be looking elsewhere.
      5) A weekly hobby has made a huge impact on my happiness and perspective, and helped me rediscover my identity outside of my job. Sign up for a weekly art class or something! <3

      1. Gracely*

        Just reiterating the importance of #5 here–my general satisfaction with life has significantly improved since I made a point to spend time doing things outside of work that I enjoy. Even if it’s just once a week, it can make a big difference. There are community arts, choirs, sports, etc., volunteering at shelters or food pantries or what have you, crochet/knitting groups, writing groups, dance or karate classes…plenty of options whether you want to interact with others or just do something on your own.

    3. GardenGnomic*

      My manager once told me that we spend a third of our lives in the workplace, so it should be actively pleasant to be there. I’m really content in my job, and it brings me a great deal of satisfaction.
      I get a lot of my wellbeing needs met by being outdoors, interacting with lovely people who are my coworkers, and having a lot of autonomy to be fairly creative in what I do.
      My job is really something that I feel has a net benefit to people, and although it’s physically tiring, it’s psychologically uplifting and I’m usually looking forward to being there during my commute.

      My ex used to view his job as something that he didn’t like, but that enabled him to afford the leisure activities he enjoyed in his free time. I don’t think he was happy overall. He was physically and emotionally drained at the end of each day, and I think he quietly resented that he hadn’t made a successful career change after he did his degree.

      I recently heard about the concept of Return On Heartbeats (like Return On Investment) – Imagine you have only a finite number of times your heart will beat during your lifetime, what would seem like a good thing to spend them on?
      Your job is well-compensated, but it sounds like it’s not offering the right kind of rewards to make you feel happy to keep spending your precious time in this way.
      It’s OK to reevaluate – success in life is finding something that caters to your intrinsic motivations, not the extrinsic rewards bestowed upon you by others.

    4. Rara Avis*

      We just had a workshop with Tal Ben-Shahar, who speaks and writes on this issue. You could look up his website.

  48. Bummed Out*

    I moved to a state I would normally have zero interest in in 2020 for a killer job, which promptly went under thanks to Covid. I got another job, not exciting but stable, pretty quickly and have been there ever since. The goal/plan has ALWAYS been to move back to my original state, which luckily became an approved state for my company last year. I reached out months ago letting them know my intention to move when my lease is up in July, and it was tentatively approved, but they stated that the business could always change and check back in a few months.

    I reached back out a month ago, and this morning my boss and his boss sat me down and explained that, due to cost cutting measures, the company is no longer hiring out of other states or allowing moves to other states- though, if someone already lives in one of our other states, they are fine and grandfathered in.

    I’m not asking for advice on how to get my company to change their minds, this decision came down from our executive team, and it took my leaders so long to get back to me because they had been going to bat for me because I technically made my move known months ago. It’s definitely set in stone at this point. I guess what I want to know is- does that make sense to anyone here? Barring new employees in other states to “cut costs”, but still keeping existing employees? I would think that once they are established in one state, they are already paying to operate there and it wouldn’t matter if there were additional employees? I’d be moving from a state that is very strict on employers to one that is very lax, so it’s not like I’d be moving somewhere tricky like California. I’m just so confused by this whole thing, so if anyone has insight, I’d appreciate it

    1. Roland*

      People leave jobs. Even if they have to keep maintaining State X employees now, eventually they won’t. Like a cellphone company raising rates but people with a contract keep their lower one – for now.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      I think Roland’s explanation is the bulk of it: they are waiting to lose the business nexuses in other states by attrition.

      Other, smaller, costs that may be in play here:
      – relocation assistance
      – home office stipend (for set-up or upgraded internet coverage)
      – shipping costs for distributing/collecting work electronics to/from employees, or for any other physical goods that need to be sent back-and-forth

    3. Maybe it’s taxes*

      Your company may also be running into tax issues. I’m not sure how it is in different states, but my old company had to comb through and figure out how much income I generated when I worked in a different state and pay taxes to that state. The company was seriously interested in cutting down the number of states for this paperwork nightmare.

    4. Llama Llama*

      Also while one exception is a pain (I work in payroll, it is), two exceptions of the same nature is not the cost of one exception. It’s usually twice the man hours. It’s not until you have lots of the same type of exceptions that it gets cost ‘efficient’

  49. EJane*

    Story request from commenters!
    I’d love to hear y’all’s experiences of service dogs in the workplace.
    No story is too small (“my coworker has a service dog and it’s chill” is just as important as a two paragraph description of discrimination.)

    I’m writing a protocol for my master’s program for integrating service dogs into client-facing work environments and would love stories from people who aren’t ME.
    (Alison, hopefully this counts!)

    1. Expert Paper Pusher*

      Pre-COVID another employee in my large office suite began using a service dog. A day or two before the service dog would join our office, management sent an email letting us know (without naming the employee), reminding us of appropriate service dog etiquette, pointing out that it’s no one’s business but the employee and HR why the service dog is there, and asking for anyone with dog allergies to reach out. When I let them know about my allergy, they made sure I had a cubicle that would minimize how much I’d be exposed.

      Unfortunately the email didn’t stop people from being nosy. Several kept asking each other (and the employee) inappropriate questions about why the service dog was needed.

    2. MouseMouseMouse*

      The first thing I would caveat is that I’m not sure anecdotes from internet comments should inform a protocol — I do hope you’re doing in-depth research and interviews with participants and all that.

      I do have stories to share though. One of my colleagues has frequently struggled to find grass or other suitable relief areas for his service dog when we attend off-site events (we work downtown in a big city). Some service dogs are trained to relieve on all terrains, but not all, and my colleague has often returned frustrated from fruitless walks outside the event venue searching for grass. More than once, he’s asked me (as a sighted colleague) to take his dog out and look for grass outside so his dog can comfortably relieve. (The pup and I climbed into a large planter once because it was the only piece of greenery on the block.) I think this is a major oversight for workplaces and event spaces who are trying to make their spaces accessible to everyone.

    3. ILoveCoffee*

      We had a student in chem lab with a service dog. For safety, it had to wear a lab coat and goggles and was given a designated mat to sit on (it was still close enough to it’s person to perform it’s required service).

    4. Josame*

      My job had a new person with a service dog. New Person was visually impaired; the dog was a seeing eye dog. This fact is relevant because this is the reason they seated New Person at a desk near the entrance to the floor. However, the person at the next desk was terribly afraid of dogs. (This area of the floor was considered prime real estate and everyone in that area had earned their desks by seniority.) Senior Person did not want to be moved and felt New Person and Dog should have a desk far from Senior Person (and therefore the entrance). It became a polarizing issue amongst the entire team. People felt very strongly one way or the other. It became a bigger issue than anyone could have expected and was not handled well by Management, who had an attitude of ‘you people should just work it out as we don’t want to deal with this’. In the end, New Person and Dog got the desk by the door and almost everyone sitting in that area asked to be transferred to a different department on a different floor. They said it wasn’t about the dog anymore; they felt Management was dismissive of their concerns and did not value them.

    5. Anontoday*

      Not an actual service dog but ESA. They were pets that were brought in to an educational setting. I think admin was afraid to push back.

    6. D'oh*

      Not a client facing story, but it is people facing:

      I went on an interview at a small company where someone had a service dog. I learned about the dog when I entered and saw the (empty) dog bed next to the (staffed) reception desk. I assumed it was a dog friendly office and that the receptionist brought her pet in sometimes. I was all excited bc I love dogs, and I asked if there was a dog in the office. The receptionist said the dog wasn’t there at the moment, but would be in by the time I left. Did not say it was a service dog!

      A few hours pass, I’m done with the interview, and the interviewer walks me back out to reception, where there is a different receptionist. The interviewer and I came back to reception on a different side of the lobby. The dog bed is not visible, but I remember it bc dog. I ask if the dog is there. Both receptionist and interviewer say, yes, it’s in it’s bed. I walk around the front of the desk until I can see the dog — and it’s a service dog. And I realize that the receptionist is sight-impaired.

      And that’s the story of how I almost petted a service dog at the company where I was interviewing.

      I did not receive an offer.

  50. Zephy*

    Maybe a long shot but I know we have some other non-teaching academia folks here. Has anyone gotten the NASFAA Certified Financial Aid Administrator professional certificate? Was it difficult, do you think it was worth doing?

    I currently work in FA for a private university that, for better or worse, has A Reputation, and my thinking is that having an external certification like the FAAC would mitigate that Reputation when I start looking to leave. My husband and I may possibly move cross-country sometime next year – nothing is set in stone, but it’s not not on the table as an option. I have no professional network in that area and he does (that would be the reason for the move), which is also why I think it might be worth going for the certification – at best, I would expect schools in that area would know nothing about my current org.

    Opinions?

    1. Former FAer*

      I’ve taken other classes of theirs, it was no joke. That said, at the time I was not in FA anymore, so the rules weren’t as fresh. Are you able to take it without your current employer’s knowledge/sponsorship? I didn’t realize that was an option.

      As someone who used to hire FA counselors, I never expected people applying to those positions, considered entry level, to have anything like that. But if you’re planning to apply for higher level roles, I can only think it will help you.

      1. Zephy*

        I haven’t applied yet, I’m technically a few months shy of the minimum 5 years’ experience required for people who don’t have NASFAA CEUs. I’m pretty sure my org is a member – I’ve seen NASFAA flyers floating around the office – but we’re a multi-campus outfit so our designated voting member is based at corporate HQ. I guess I’ll find out if I need to provide some kind of member ID for my org when I do apply for the cert, but it doesn’t explicitly say that you need to be a NASFAA member to take the exam. If my org will pay for it that would be pretty cool, but otherwise I will, that’s whatever.

        I know different schools structure their FA departments differently – some places have FA personnel that take ownership of particular fund sources or types, like I’ve seen job listings for grant and scholarship administrators specifically. I would probably be applying for both generalist and specialist roles – I’m a general FAO right now, but I also liaise with certain other departments to handle compliance for certain fund sources, which I enjoy more than packaging students tbh, so I think I would like to eventually move into a more focused role like that.

  51. Kree*

    I have a hard time emotionally handling constructive criticism, not because I’m surprised by it, but because I am so self-critical that any criticism only confirms what I already know and am ashamed of. For example, I can sometimes be slow to respond to emails. If someone were to (rightfully) point that out in my annual review, I would get teary-eyed, because I’ve already self-chastised constantly and I just feel so guilty that people have noticed and that I haven’t been able to overcome this problem. How can I keep myself from crying or feeling hurt by VERY REASONABLE AND MILD critical feedback; and how can I become better at actually INVITING this feedback?

    1. ferrina*

      Therapy. This is SUCH a common issue, and a decent therapist will be able to help you work through this (including the self-criticism- it sounds like that isn’t doing you any favors).

      Other ideas:
      -Practice. Start with a friend outside work. Explain what you are doing. Have them start with something minor, like a compliment sandwich on a painting you did or a haiku you wrote. (Normally I’m not a fan of the compliment sandwich, but this is a rare case when I think it will be helpful). Don’t start out harsh- start out with one mild critique. Build up slowly.
      -Role play. This can be done alone or with a friend (I prefer alone). Have a pretend conversation with feedback. Say the things you wish you could say in the moment. Practice that (studies show that visualization does impact performance, and that’s true in conversations too)
      -When you’re in a situation at work you can’t avoid, caveat it. “I’m an easy crier- don’t mind me, my eyes do that all on their own! If I start crying, let’s finish the conversation. I’ll take a quick break afterwards, then I’ll be right back.” Said cheerfully. It’s not a permanent fix, but it will buy you time.
      -STOP BEATING YOURSELF UP. I know, so much easier said than done. I’m working on it too, been spending dedicated time working on it for a couple years now. I find that I hyperfocus on all the things I haven’t done and ignore the things I have done. One thing that helps is a brag book. Every night, I write a page in my journal about all the things I’ve accomplished that day. This is good things only. It reminds me of all the things I’ve done right. I also started listening to my inner monologue more and turning it into a dialogue. I defend myself the same way I would a friend.
      So-
      Brain Weasels: You’re a failure. You did a crappy job on that report.
      SuperMe: Wow, hold up! That’s a pretty picky definition of crappy. I did that report in one hour instead of the usual three because of the tight deadline. I can’t expect a 3-hour report in 1-hour because that’s inhuman. What I did was rock on a tight timeline, which is what was needed right then. I had good priorities. Go me!
      This will feel so weird at first. It will feel like it’s unwarranted and undeserved. But it is deserved. Practice it. Say it until you believe it. Fight for yourself like you would a friend. Be a friend to yourself.
      When you have a quiet moment, reflect on where the Brain Weasels are coming from. Are they your Brain Weasels, or did someone else put them there? Mine come mostly from my mom, who held me to impossible standards. A few come from a Bad Boss, who used me as a scapegoat so nothing I did could be enough. It’s pretty common for Brain Weasels to come from multiple sources (I was an ADHD kid, so I had most of my teachers chiding me for not being neurotypical). For me, figuring out where they came from helped me disassociate from them- these aren’t me, they aren’t my weasels. They’ve been chewing away at my confidence, but I’m going to start housing those weasels in the Memory part of my brain rather than the Identity part (or whatever visualization/analogy works for you).

      Anyways, that’s what’s helped me.
      Good luck!! Sending lots of love to you.

      1. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

        I second ferrina’s advice, every bit.

        If therapy with a live human therapist isn’t available soon, or you can’t find a therapist who’s a good fit for you(8), self-help resources may be a good stopgap. Or as a added support, even if you do get therapy. My therp occasionally gives “homework,” things for me to practice or reflect on between our meetings, and written or recorded materials are helpful as a between-meeting reminder.

        Specifically, I think Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques may be helpful –they are what I use for a similar tendency in myself. CBT is NOT applicable for every kind of difficulty, and misapplied can do as much harm as good. But a situation where you know what is a healthy and proportionate response but your self-talk or automatic thought derail you from achieving it, is exactly what CBT is for– dismantling some of the self-talk and automatic thoughts that hijack your emotional state.

        Here’s a free online workbook I found that looks pretty good. https://cogbtherapy.com/free-online-cbt-workbook

        Good luck.

    2. Zephy*

      If your example is an accurate reflection of the magnitude of both the feedback and your reaction to it, it is probably worth seeking help from a mental health professional. You seem to know that your reaction is disproportionate, which is a good first step, but you probably want the support from someone actually trained to help with this kind of thing, not Internet laymen.

    3. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Therapy already got two mentions and seems like a sound recommendation (I’m only just starting it, and as a major people-pleaser, I hope it’ll help with similar issues).

      Over the years therapy has not been an option for me, my strategy has been establishing what’s reasonable / expected on a professional level. In other words, trying to separate the needs of the job from the personal relationship with the manager giving the feedback, and be constructive in return.

      For example, I can take a while to check and reply to Slack messages, because I’m at my best doing focused work outside of instant chats.

      If someone were to point this out in a review, I’d try to manage the conversation as “okay, let’s talk about what the expected response time is in this job and why”.

      10 years ago, I’d totally have burst into tears in a similar situation, out of a fear of letting down the individual giving the feedback. Now I can remind myself that I don’t value instant availability, but I know some jobs see it differently, and want to strike a balance. Once an expectation is set, I can adjust my work to meet it, or (e.g. “I observed that answering all questions in the X channel in a batch once a day frees me up to support the team on Y and Z priority tasks, would that be acceptable?”).

      I hope some of this helps a little bit and wish you the best!

    4. Rick Tq*

      Every athlete has a coach, even professionals and Olympic level competitors. Can you mentally reframe external feedback as coaching?

      And you should reframe your expectations. In the world of classical guitar Pablo Sáinz-Villegas is a superstar. I once heard him talk about his career and he said he used to come off stage after a performance angry and disappointed because his goal was to perform that night’s piece “perfectly” which rarely happened. When he reframed his goal to perform to the limits of his abilities he said he was MUCH happier. Even when there were technical flaws he knew he connected with the audience and gave them a memorable evening.

      In his words: “Only God can be Perfect, so don’t require perfection of yourself. Do your best job knowing you will sometimes fall short.”

      Stop expecting perfection of yourself.

    5. anxiousGrad*

      I agree with the comments suggesting therapy. I would say that cognitive behavioral therapy is especially helpful. One phrase my therapist used to describe what I was doing when I would spiral into self-loathing thoughts was that I was “going down the path of misery.” CBT really helped me to stop spiraling and now if I catch myself beginning to do it I remind myself: “you’re about to go down the path of misery and you don’t need to!” Beating yourself up isn’t necessary and apparently isn’t helping you to improve on whatever you’re being criticized for, so all it’s doing is making you miserable.

    6. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      TL;DR – You are a person deserving of respect (especially from yourself!), and may help to pivot your mindset that feedback is a helpful tool to make the best decision for yourself.

      May I add a 3rd option – think about other things you can do for work that don’t involve as much email? Or other things that you beat yourself up about? You are a person deserving of love and respect…including from yourself! Agreed with others about therapy, or any other exercise to address the self-criticalness. It’s possible the way your brain works is not conducive to a tool like email, and that’s okay! Or insert whatever other task you regularly feel you’re failing at. Maybe it’s the not the right environment for you, or maybe something you think is a big deal actually isn’t to anyone else.

      My point being, if you are doing your best, then any feedback will either be helpful, or it will show that it’s not the right environment for how you function. You haven’t done anything wrong, and it may be that this kind of feedback is actually a helpful tool to decide you need to make a change.

      So maybe look at this feedback as helpful. You can always thank them for their candid feedback, that you’ll think about it, and follow up if you have any clarifying questions.

  52. April*

    I’m looking for some advice on dealing with scarring. Short version, I was in an accident a couple years back, I was seriously hurt, the surgeon did the best he possibly could but there’s still some visible scarring. It’s especially clear on my hand/wrist and knee. If you look at that chunk of skin, you really can’t miss it. We are talking Dandruff Guy levels of visibility here, and probably also that level of unsightliness. I’ve had people repeatedly mistake it for a fresh injury – it turns some very odd colors when I’ve been moving around. It is distracting to people who notice it, in a lot of cases. (I’ve checked with a doctor, it’s normal and harmless. It just looks bad.)

    So, how do I deal with it? A lot of people seem to think that scars are easily treatable, and [insert miracle skin cream here] will fix the problem in six weeks. A lot of others think that I need to cover it up and [insert miracle foundation here] will hide it perfectly. (Many of them are selling the stuff they’re saying is a miracle treatment, which makes me very suspicious.) I can cover the ones on my knee with clothing, but the ones on my hand are harder unless I start wearing gloves all the time.

    Thoughts?

    1. Ginger Baker*

      My younger child has a port wine stain that is quite prominent and noticeable on her clavicle (so, often seen above her tops). People have definitely sometimes thought it was a burn or other injury; her approach has not been to cover it up but instead to have a breezy “oh, that’s just a birthmark!” ready to go – I highly recommend this (I am a big believer that no one should have to justify basics like *the way their body is shaped or other basic bodily characteristics* to anyone, even those rude enough to ask or otherwise comment on same). My experience with other “awkward” topics is that the more you practice ahead of time (mentally, physically) and also state aloud to friends/yourself that it’s SO WEIRD and RUDE when random people [comment on your body/etc. as applicable], the more you will internalize that belief and be able to respond quickly with your Stock Breezy Answer. (I would have a follow-up in your case for Rude People Who Ask Further Questions, such as “Like I said, it’s fine, and I prefer not to discuss my body at work, thanks!”)

      1. rayray*

        I have neurofibromatosis so have many cafe au lait spots, basically look just like birthmarks. I got made fun of a lot as a kid, I even had one instance in which grown adult women in front of me in a line were pointing them all out to each other. I was incredibly insecure for years, refused to wear shorts or skirts because of the spots on my legs. It took some time to get over it, well into my 20s. I slowly got more comfortable with it and got more confident.

        One incident that was huge in helping me get over it may seem strange. It was hot and I was talking with my friend and she said she never wore sandals because she hated her feet and didn’t like people looking at them. I was thinking it was absolutely absurd and she shouldn’t care what any random person thought of her feet. It was a moment of realization that I needed to extend that same kindness to myself. My body looks the way it does and it is no one else’s concern. I don’t care if anyone doesn’t like the way that I look, I can live my life not giving a damn what anyone thinks when they see my body.

        1. Ginger Baker*

          ^THIS “My body looks the way it does and it is no one else’s concern.”

          No one should ever need to apologize for having a body in…whatever shape that takes. People have “imperfect” bodies because that is the *nature of existing in the world*. You don’t owe anyone anything other than like, following whatever standard dress code there is and (at work) being able to do the work your role requires. SO as long as OP isn’t trying to make a career out of being a hand model, no one has any business discussing her hand scars, full stop.

      2. HIPAA-potamus*

        Not the same but my 4yo has vitiligo and I’m doing my best to instill confidence in her now… I personally find port wine stains fascinating and gorgeous. :)

    2. ferrina*

      These people that are commenting on your scars are obnoxious.

      Ideally, you could say “I don’t want to talk about my body, thanks.” in a deadpan voice and that would be the end of that.
      If politics make that impossible, I’d laugh and say, “You’d think that, right? But I’ve been to multiple dermatologists, and, well, this is my body! But let’s not talk about my body- I’m actually interested in [WORK THING]”
      Or even “ugh, it’s such a boring story. Even [WORK THING] is more interesting. Actually, I had a question about that….”
      Commenting on other people’s bodies isn’t okay. I’m sorry you’re dealing with so many boorish people.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        “Oh, that’s old. Anyways, back to [work topic]”
        “Oh, that’s always been there. About [work topic]”

        Just throwing out two more phrases for “this is boring” + topic change to get the focus off the scars and hopefully avoid the “have you tried [insert miracle skin cream here]?”

      2. rayray*

        I agree that the deadpan voice and being direct works really well. I think people expect some kind of reaction, and not satisfying that desire of theirs really helps to shut them down,.

    3. Gracely*

      I have scars on my hands from a dog bite when I was a child, but they’re not very noticeable most of the time because they’re palmside. When people do notice them (mostly manicurists or when I’ve raised my hand in the past in school), I just matter of factly say it was a dog bite when I was a kid. You *should* be able to just shrug and say it’s from an injury a couple years ago. Anyone reacting strongly needs to chill and stop being rude.

      If it makes you more comfortable to cover it up with makeup or gloves, then go ahead and do so, but you definitely don’t have to if you don’t want to.

    4. RagingADHD*

      If coworkers are shilling MLM products to you at work, that’s incredibly inappropriate and should be brought to the attention of management.

      Otherwise, you can just let them be wrong: “Yeah, I had surgery a couple years ago, it’s fine, thanks ”

      If they get fixated, you don’t actually have to participate. You can just say, “Huh,” (like with the intonation of “well, whaddaya know?”) And keep returning to the relevant topic.

    5. Despachito*

      You of course do not have to do anything about your scars, and people commenting on them are really rude.

      However, if you feel you’d like to get rid of the scars, I’ve seen some impressive tattoos over really nasty scars. To be clear, I do not think that covering the scars is something you SHOULD do, and I do not even know whether you are a tattoo person, but it is an option nobody has mentioned so far.

    6. Jaydee*

      I’d be tempted to respond to comments the same way people respond to a compliment on an outfit

      Them: “Oh my gosh, what happened to your hand?”
      You: “What? This old thing?!? Oh, I’ve had this for years.”

      Them: “That looks really gnarly….”
      You: “Oh, you mean my scar? Yeah, I got a two-for-one deal when my car got t-boned a couple years ago. I’ve got a matching one on my knee.”

      Them: “Have you tried using [magical cure-all] to make them fade?”
      You: “I know scars are a little old-fashioned, but these have sentimental value to me.” (Which is just so patently ridiculous I wouldn’t be able to keep a straight face, but also anyone who makes that kind of suggestion and isn’t your treating medical provider deserves all the awkwardness to be scooped up and deposited right back in their lap.)

    7. Just here for the scripts*

      I have a disfigured leg from a skiing accident—I’m very lucky: can walk, dance and continued to ski for years, it just looks bad from the profusion of the supporting metal brace and 12 screws under the skin and the scars from the surgery. When it first healed and I was initially self-conscious about the scaring, a friend said “they are badges of honor!” And I immediately changed my interpretation and demeanor. So instead of mentioning it, I just act as if it’s totally normal—and most people pay it no mind, despite the fact that I mostly wear above-the knee skirts and dresses. If anyone asks, I give the deadpan “old injury” response and if they suggest I cover it up/treat it, I do the ET blinky thing and then redirect to other topics.

      Have to agree that it’s so totally inappropriate for colleagues to be trying to sell you products—this makes me want to suggest a response of “nah, I’ve found it’s helpful as it changes colors when the people around me are (pick one: lying, dissembling, off topic, unfocused, )” and said with a twinkle in my eye/voice.

      But that’s me, not you ;)

  53. Panicked*

    My company is FINALLY moving to a larger space, which means I’m moving from the open floor plan to my own office. I’m HR and most of my conversations are from people walking past my desk and grabbing something from my “I’m not bribing you, but I’m totally bribing you” candy dish. I’m concerned that even if I leave the door to my office open, my conversations will diminish and relationships will suffer.

    I plan on doing daily “rounds” and just checking in with people at their desks, but does anyone have any other suggestions for maintaining the current culture?

    1. ferrina*

      Eating lunch in a public place, or just-so-happening to grab coffee during certain times. You can also do regular stay interviews with random people to keep the culture up.

      Personally, I love when HR has their own office. It makes me feel much better about asking awkward questions. Even better was when HR had their guest chair in a place where you couldn’t see from the hallway, so no one would know I had been chatting with HR.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Set drop in hours on your calendar or mark on your door. Available to interrupt everyday from 1 to 2pm (or Mondays 1 to 2pm) no appointments needed.

    3. Jaydee*

      Keep the candy jar. My officemate has one and people definitely stop in just to say hi and grab an afternoon chocolate fix.

  54. Bunny Girl*

    So I graduate in two weeks. I’ve been applying for jobs for months trying to get something but my field is fairly competitive so I know it’s going to take a minute. I recently heard back from a job where they said they liked my experience, but I needed a Bachelor’s degree for the position. This was at a University. Would it have done me any good to tell them that I am taking my finals on the 20th of this month and I will literally be done really soon? I really didn’t want to wait until after I graduated to job hunt because I knew it was going to take a while, but I feel like everyone I’ve applied for is hemming and hawing over a couple weeks.

    1. Alicia*

      I think you should definitely follow up with them. And if your cover letter and resume don’t explicitly say that your degree is expected soon, add that!
      Good luck with finals and with the job hunt :)

      1. Bunny Girl*

        Hello!

        Thank you so much. :) Both my resume and my cover letter both very explicitly say that I am graduating soon. I ultimately don’t think I’ll follow up with this job because I was thinking it was a bad fit for other reasons, even before I got the email, but if I get anything back in the next couple weeks before I graduate, then I will make sure to point that out.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        They both do! My resume says June 2018-March 22nd, 2023 and the second paragraph of my cover letter also says it very clearly. LoL

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Absolutely.

      Your resume, but this time, should have “BS expected April 2023” or whatever.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        It does. LoL. Both my resume and my cover letter very clearly say I am graduating in a couple weeks.

        1. Frankie*

          Universities can be strict with degree requirements in a red-tape kind of way. It’s possible you were rejected without someone fully clocking your expected graduation date, or it’s possible they rejected you for that plus other reasons and the degree was the easiest thing to say.

          You could always email back and say “hi, sorry to hear that, I am graduating on x date but understand if that’s not soon enough, thanks for considering me,” etc. That way it doesn’t sound like you’re arguing with them but hedging on the chance it’s a mistake.

          But with listings at a university, they may be required to DQ anyone who doesn’t meet particular bars–it’s all about being able to demonstrate to the government that you’re being equitable to all applicants and not relaxing the standards for just one or two. It would depend on the particular posting and how strictly the hiring team has to follow that kind of thing.

          1. Bunny Girl*

            That’s kind of where I was leaning towards. I used to work for a University and I know they were really strict sometimes about requirements. I don’t think I am going going to comment on this one because after reflecting and reading back over the description, I don’t think it would be something I would enjoy as much as other things I’ve applied for. But I do have an application in with them in a different department that closes in a week, which will be even closer to my graduation date so hopefully that one will be taken under more consideration.

  55. Alicia*

    I’m an academic librarian. My library director was really interested in the blockchain, but it passed. Now he is asking ChatGPT about the future of academic publishing and sharing the output with us as if generative AI is the oracle at Delphi. He’s asking, “How has generative AI helped you in your day-to-day activities?”
    What’s worse? If thinks that generative AI knows facts, critically appraises literature, and can teach people how to evaluate literature — or if he gets that ChatGPT is just using patterns about what string usually follows what other strings, and he thinks that my job is writing generic customer service emails.

    If I wanted to deal with bs trends, I could work in industry and get paid more!

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      Yeah, I have one coworker who thinks ChatGPT hung the moon and another who think’s it’s a sign the end of the world is nigh. I just shrug and move on. Try to stay patient and let it roll off you like water. He’ll be distracted by the next big thing soon.

  56. Bit o' Brit*

    I posted a few weeks ago in the open thread about recovering from burnout while on the job. At the time I had two weeks of leave booked and was hoping to start the recovery process off then. Naturally that didn’t happen – the time off was swallowed by family obligations and medical concerns – and things at work are almost as stressful as during the project “crunch” that burned me out to begin with.

    Does anyone have any experience of being signed off work for stress? I’m in the UK so there’s no such thing as FMLA or any legal protections, from what I can tell, though my employee handbook suggests my salary is secure for three months assuming my job is.

    I’m also feeling slightly threatened by a coworker who is stretching the bounds of their job description by moving in on mine – not in a malicious way, just due to an excess of energy and enthusiasm that in my thoroughly burned-out-and-scared-about-my-health state I can’t match. On the one hand they’re picking up a project that I can’t currently face, on the other they’re implementing things in ways I wouldn’t and the key lesson I got from the project that caused the burnout is that other people mess things up when I delegate or ask for help. How do I deal with this?

    1. ferrina*

      I can’t comment on the leave, but for surviving in the meantime:
      CYA. If you are delegating, document who you delegate are and what you ask them to do. Track your time fixing their work. If they are regularly messing up, stop delegating. Tell your boss you won’t delegate because of the high error rate. Ideally your boss should be protecting your time.

      Let go of the things you can’t help. Step away from the mistakes being made. Mistakes will be made, but if you are nowhere in the picture, it’s clear they aren’t your mistakes. I’ve been there- someone who had no business doing my work took over one of my projects (I had no say in the matter). I walked away and was fully removed. I began hearing complaints- “Oh, sorry, you need to talk to Boris, that’s his project and I’m not involved.” One person started laughing and said, “oh, that makes so much sense! It doesn’t look like any of your projects, so I was confused.” I got to catch up on some of my other work. Six months later, I was finally brought in to the project to fix the mess that Joe had made. At that point, I was able to completely refresh some of the stuff he’d done (because I was supposed to be a fresh perspective, right?)

      Apply elsewhere. Work on your long-term escape plan. Good luck!

    2. That Lizard Wrangler*

      I know your co-working is implementing things in ways that you wouldn’t, but are their methods wrong or problematic? Or are they just different from how you would do them? If their methods are just different, I highly recommend just…letting it go. And that is way easier said than done! But, creating that boundary between yourself and your work is really, really important with reducing burnout.

      If their methods are wrong or problematic, talk to them about it! And not in a, You’re wrong! kind of way, but more in a way of sharing what you know. If you can create a collaborative bond with this coworker, that can really take some pressure off of you.

      If people mess things up when you delegate, how can you share information so that they understand what you need? People usually don’t mess things up on purpose, but they can cause huge challenges when they are missing pieces of information and either don’t know how to ask questions or don’t know what questions to ask. Can you identify any themes or commonalities in the messes caused by delegation or asking for help?

      Also, when you’re burned out, or at least when I’m burned out, it can be SO HARD to let things go and accept that I can’t do all the things, all the time. Releasing control and accepting a break is so hard and scary, especially when you feel like you just need some control over something. (Honestly, HIGHLY recommend a therapist to help with this, so useful to have a neutral third party.) Giving yourself grace is easier said than done, but please practice being easy on yourself. You are trying to heal your mind, and that is going to take time and effort, just as healing from a broken bone requires first rest and then physical therapy.

      1. Bit o' Brit*

        My therapist is the one who told me to get signed off for stress. To be honest I don’t hold much faith in therapy anymore, I’ve been to like 8 of them over the years, spent thousands of pounds, and all I got out of it was new ways to invalidate my own feelings, because “challenge the negative thought patterns”.

        The common theme in the problems caused by delegating is that the people involved don’t have the domain knowledge I do, so their educated guesses take them in the wrong direction. In one case it was because they were part of an external supplier and in the other they joined the company relatively recently. Part of the problem is that I don’t have the time or really the ability to teach anyone 6 years of guiding the evolution of our systems and navigating politics among stakeholders. I already basically give my coworker a company history lesson for every other question they ask.

        I don’t know whether coworker’s approach will cause problems. It’ll definitely make my job harder for the bit that only I will be able to do, which is obviously the part that bugs me most, and might be more difficult to maintain and thus more work in the long term, but it’s not like it won’t work at all. I’m definitely more territorial over this than I should be, which is largely based in the uncertainty over the direction of my role and how it overlaps with many others at the company (which I have spoken to my boss about, and he’s re-writing my job description and booking training etc., but these things take time and in the meantime everything that’s “my job” is being done by others).

    3. Anonosaurus*

      I have been signed off for stress/mental health problems. Your GP can do this just as for any other illness (because you are sick). The reason for the sick note has to be written on it, but not in detail. Nowadays you may need a return to work authorization from your doctor as well (a “fit note”) but I suggest checking with AXAS to establish your general employment rights in this situation, as well as your employee handbook. In my case there was a specific issue causing my illness which was resolved quite quickly so I didn’t require an extended leave but your company handbook should cover that. Hope you can take the time you need and that it helps.

  57. Sydney Ellen Wade*

    Any advice on dealing with imposter syndrome after starting a new job? I’ve been in my position for a few weeks, working remotely, and have a major in-person event next week with my company and a dozen external clients. Everyone on my team has been friendly and wonderful but I’m super anxious about making myself and/or my company look bad, being so new.

    1. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

      Remind yourself that it takes an average of 6 months to feel competent at a new job. Remind yourself that this is normal and expected. If they didn’t think you could do the job, they would not have hired you. Are you having regular 1:1’s with your supervisor? If not, ask to meet and check in on how you’re doing. If you are, bring it up! Ask if there are certain benchmarks you should be meeting and when. Some jobs have a 30 day, 60 day, 90 day launch plan.

      Repeat the opening mantras several times – I know I did when I took my latest new job. I was switching industries and I was SO stressed that they’d find out I was a fraud. It was extremely stressful for the first 6 months or so and then I finally started to get comfortable and was like – wait. I CAN actually do this. Save yourself a few months of agony and start telling yourself you CAN do it now. A bit of “fake it til you make it” can actually go a long way to helping yourself feel confident. Good luck!

    2. Overbooked*

      Can you prepare a handout of some kind? Once I was called on to do a presentation to administrators and city executives with almost no notice. I was able to pull it some materials together quickly, and 1 person actually said, “Ooh! A packet! when she saw the folder at her place. Side benefit was that the act of choosing and collating helped me focus on what I wanted to say. Of course this might not be relevant to your position. Maybe just keep in mind that people really want you to do well!

  58. Pharma Chemists*

    My husband is a pharmaceutical chemist (10 years), but needed to take a job in an office the last few years due to health stuff. That’s all fine now, but he’s struggling to get back to the lab.

    He’s had 7 interviews since June. He’s made it to the final round several times, but he never gets the job. He was just rejected again yesterday and he doesn’t know what to do. He is not aware of any continuing education type certifications and he doesn’t want to get a PhD. He even applied to some bio lab jobs and some technician/field work type jobs but no luck. He uses all AAMs interviewing and resume advice and gets good responses in the interviews.

    Does anyone know of any other options? Or is he stuck never being a chemist again?

    1. Alicia*

      Sounds rough. Maybe he can get it touch with colleagues from his lab days and ask for… introductions? Feedback?
      Honestly, if he’s getting to the final round, that’s great, and I think it’s just a matter of continuing until he gets an offer. But it’s so frustrating! Good luck.

    2. Bunny Girl*

      Where are you guys located? I know in my area because of lack of funding in a lot of scientific areas that all scientific jobs are super competitive right now.