open thread – March 17-18, 2023

It’s the Friday open thread!

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

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

{ 816 comments… read them below }

  1. Lowball Offers*

    This week I pushed back against a lowball offer, and I’m in the feels about it. The work is exactly my niche (both in job duties and in industry specialty) and would let me touch a lot of interesting tech tools that I don’t currently have access to, but the company is known to underpay and I absolutely refuse to go backwards. (Note that I’m looking for advancement, not out of necessity.)

    The salary given in the JD was one of those deceptively wide ranges that have become common since certain states forced pay to be posted, and my current pay is exactly one thousand over their highest number. The recruiter acted like it was impossible and said they could maybe do 15-20k less, but I wouldn’t budge. Now I’m wondering if I should have pointed out that the JD does not match what she was telling me, but it probably wouldn’t have mattered. I have 20 years of experience when they were asking for 10, and they still won’t even meet their own JD.

    Has anyone successfully fought for a good salary recently? It feels like everyone is screaming “Recession!” just so they can lowball.

    1. Hiring Mgr*

      I have, for me the main thing was that I didn’t need the job at all and would have been completely ok had they passed. I realize not everyone is in that situation but you mention it’s not out of necessity. In my case it was easy to hold a line and stick to it.

      Also I was working directly with the CEO so it was easier than having to go back and forth with a recruiter

    2. Sunflower*

      IME it’s not worth it to fight especially if you know the company underpays – I’m not sure you’re situation but at this stage, I’m really not interested in any companies that are known to underpay unless there are some other benefits that greatly outweigh. It’s not just about your starting salary – you’re looking at YEARs of dealing with the same fight eveytime you want an increase or promotion.

      Unfortunately just because a JD says the high end of the salary range, that doesn’t mean they are obligated to offer it to you if you ask (or even if you have the experience). All you can really say is ‘I can not accept this job for less than X.’ That’s what I do and let the companies take it or leave it. If they won’t budge, I tell them this isn’t going to work out. Since it sounds like you don’t need a job, I wouldn’t waste your time.

    3. Financial Aid Fellow*

      I applied for a job recently and the salary range was about $30k, with the high end being closer to what I currently make, and the low end being about $25k less than my current salary. I was willing to take a slight hit for much better working conditions, but not more than $10k. I told the recruiter in the first phone call that I was only interested if the offer was within the top 25% of the band. It felt scary saying that but I really didn’t want to waste either of our time. It was scary and exhilarating. While I didn’t end up getting the role, I did make it to the next round interview after that call with the recruiter.

    4. Stacy*

      Am I reading correctly that the range listed was lower than your current pay? (Sorry if I’m reading this completely wrong. My brain is already in Saturday Mode)

      If there is a legal requirement to post the pay range, I imagine many companies would not be willing to go outside the range, as it could give the impression that the salary range posted was not a good faith range.

      1. Lowball Offers*

        Yes, you are reading that correctly, I currently make 1,000 more than the absolute highest number in the job listing. I was fully transparent about what I currently make, so she knew her theoretical offer would be a 15-20k pay cut.

        I might have been willing to jump for the same pay if the job was otherwise a perfect fit, because I’m stagnant in my current role and want to climb the ladder. But I’m definitely not taking a pay cut. (Also of note, I didn’t cold apply to this job. They sought me out, because their sister company had my resume on file from an application in 2021.)

        1. Tio*

          I’d say pass – if they posted a top range, and you’re at that already, you’re unlikely to be able to get much in terms of raises going forward, doubly so if you have to fight to get them close to your current salary.

    5. MechanicalPencil*

      I recently turned down a very similar offer. On paper, it’s a raise, but contract with no paid time off/holidays, insurance costs were more, and I’d be hybrid in office 2 days a week instead of fully remote. The numbers didn’t math for me.

      It’s a very weird feeling turning something down, even when I wasn’t the one who went out and sought the offer.

      1. Artemesia*

        A contract job that requires you to be in the office two days a week is obviously using ‘contract’ to mean they won’t pay benefits rather than a real contract job. When they dictate where and when you work, it is a job and they are in violation of the law to pretend you are a contractor

    6. I have RBF*

      Yes. When my current company was looking to bring me permanent, their initial offer was 2/3 of my target pay, and that I was making as a contractor. I will admit, I literally laughed at the HR rep. I then stated what my target was, and why.

      It took them three months to do their research and revise the JD. Their initial offer was lowballed and hourly, with no allowed OT, and was based on something like 5 years of experience. I have over 20 years. (They supposedly “benchmarked” their pay rates, but it was too low for even the lower cost area that HQ is in.)

      The offer came in still a bit low, but the benefits were good, so I took it.

      The other person who was converted at the same time would have taken their lowball offer, but the fact that I pushed back gave them the courage to do so as well. FYI, I’m enby but AFAB, and the other person is male. I not only negotiated, but inspired a guy who normally doesn’t negotiate to do so as well.

      It can be done, but you have to come at it with the viewpoint of “Well, I was looking for a job when I found this one.” and be willing to say a hard no to the lowball. For me it was easy – I knew that I would rapidly end up underwater on a lot of my bills if I didn’t get a certain minimum. I knew my experience and my worth. I also did my own homework on salaries for my occupation and experience where I lived, just in case.

    7. Alex*

      If the company is known to underpay, and the range they listed was less than what you would agree to, then it’s not really surprising they didn’t meet your requirements. Not only would it have been above their budget most likely (could be gotten around) it would make your pay disproportionate to their other employees (more difficult to get around).

      I recently got a new job and was able to negotiate a smidge higher than the offer, but not a lot.

    8. mreasy*

      I just got a new job that I knew would be about a 15% pay cut at the top of their range. They offered me $5k less than the top of their range and I told them I needed the full amount. They were easily able to grant this. I know sharing salaries isn’t always great, but if you can just tell them, my current salary is at the top of your range and I’m unable to go lower than that, it still is often meaningful to hiring managers.

    9. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Alternative way to approach it: part of the ‘compensation’ is access to those tools, which will set you up better for the future.

    10. Maple Bar*

      I love that workers gained a little too much power over the last three years so, despite record profits and booming spending across the board, the investment class had to start threatening us all with the memory of 2008. It’s not in any way shape or form what the economy looks like, but they figure that if they say it enough I guess they can astroturf the idea out there so people will accept it. I’ve actually noticed a company in my area has started reposting the same vacancies with lower and lower salary offerings each time. This is a place I’ve interviewed with who’s been banging the drum of staffing shortages and impossible hiring for a couple years now. And yet!

      I’ve been job hunting lately and I have gotten the “oh well, you know, recession” excuse from people a million times already. I want to be like “is the recession in the room with us right now?”

    11. Random Academic Cog*

      I don’t understand why people apply for jobs that list a hiring range that doesn’t meet their requirements. I had this recently and I don’t even know what to say to these people. I literally printed my budget limits in the posted ad. Why are they wasting all our time (mine and theirs)?

  2. Lady Louise*

    I work on a team with Adele and David, and Rob is our boss. I manage the Teapot brand, David manages the Kettle brand and Adele manages the Cup brand. The Teapot and Kettle brands are the higher priority ones to the overall business. The issue is that Adele is absolutely awful to work with. She routinely skips team and vendor meetings, she constantly needs to ask David or I basic questions instead of trying to figure out anything for herself and she is the most entitled person I’ve ever worked with, or honestly even met. Rob, our boss, is also clueless and incompetent. He joined our company about a year ago. 

    What happens at least 2-3 times a week, is we have to wait 5 minutes or so for Adele to show up to meetings. For example, this past Tuesday morning we had our weekly team meeting with some of our team in India. The rest of us are US based, so while it was morning for us, it was nighttime for them. Again this week Rob was like, “let’s give Adele a few minutes, I’ll chat her.” Then after 5 minutes: “Guess Adele isn’t going to make it”. And a few weeks ago it was similar but Rob had said: “I’ll message Adele, she should be on these meetings.” Did he not follow up with her? Does it not register with her that these meetings are weekly? Ugh. But I bet if David or I pulled something like that, it wouldn’t be okay…

    Then yesterday we had two separate vendor meetings. With the first one, our rep was like “Is Adele joining, we haven’t seen her in awhile” (because again, she just doesn’t show), and I said “let’s just get started”. Rob wasn’t able to make that one, so it was just David and me. After this meeting this vendor sent a follow up email to David, Rob and me (not including Adele), confirming he implemented X changes in the Teapot and Kettle accounts (not including the Cups account). In a perfect world Rob would wonder, “why is this email only addressed to two of my teammates? Why is Adele not on here? Why was her account not included on this?” But sadly, I don’t think he has the skills to access and determine that. But during our second vendor meeting (that sometimes our grand-boss joins in), Adele made it! It’s like she picks which meetings based on which ones make it easier to kiss up.

    Another thing is that Adele will reach out to only David and I with basic questions, I think because she wants our boss to think she knows what she’s doing. I’ve started ignoring it, but David always helps her. I don’t want to tell him not to help her (he’s so nice), but I’m just thinking “uh David, stop carrying her”.

    So what should I do? I don’t think it’s my place to tell Rob one on one “can Adele actually respond to the meeting invites because we always have to wait a few minutes for her show, which is usually after you [Rob] have to remind her”. He can get defensive and I think he would think I’m criticizing him. But would something like: “Can we get started, we’re all here on time” after Rob says “let’s give her a few minutes” be okay? Or something like it? I want to indirectly be like we’re all here on time, we shouldn’t wait for someone who is always so inconsiderate. 

    1. Engineer mom*

      Before the next meeting can you remind Rob that the other attendees are in another time zone so it’s rude to keep them waiting? He should talk to Adele before the meeting not look for her at the time it starts.

      1. Meeting not Optional*

        Okay, so at my last job Boss3 regularly had to WRANGLE Bosses 1 & 2 above her in the chain. They had terrible habits of wandering off or starting calls right before scheduled meetings. She started going office to office 5-7 minutes before the meetings asking “we have that 3:00 meeting, should we get everyone together.” It worked great for managing up. Try asking Rob (and only Rob!) at an appropriate time. Some other ideas that work if Adele is remote/hybrid:

        “Hey Rob, we have x meeting today. Do you know when Adele will be in?”

        “Adele never accepted the meeting request, will she be in today/on this?”

        Even though Rob is aware, you need to report to him before going to grand boss. Some options to email Adele (this way you have written records to report/escalate):

        “Oh Adele, I didn’t see a response for the meeting with client, will you be in on that?”
        If she says no, email Rob and cc Adele and David *double checking* which departments need to be represented at meeting.

        If she doesn’t reply or misses the meeting anyway, you could try these:

        “Adele, I missed you at x meeting. Can you send an update for the follow up emails?”

        “Adele, I missed you at x meeting. Vendor is going to do so and such for Kettle and Teapot, does cup need the same?”

        Alternatively, you can just add her to follow up asking her to follow up.

        Even though Adele is wrong, use I statements. As long as they’re said neutrally, they’re viewed in a non-confrontational manner.

        I think that a vendor noticing and overtly asking about her absences is enough reason to report to Rob. I would email him something along the lines of “Vendor asked *us* about Adele’s *frequent* absences from meetings. I wasn’t sure what to do, so I redirected the conversation. How should *the team* handle vendor *concerns* like this in the future?”

    2. Riina*

      If Rob tends to get defensive, maybe you could try phrasing things a bit differently?

      For example, for the meetings, I think it’s totally reasonable to say something like “Hey, I’d like to make sure we’re being respectful of people’s time, so let’s get started now” or, if your calendar will let you swing this, “I have a hard stop at [MEETING END TIME], can we get started now so that we don’t run late?” or various other things that make it about what you need rather than what Rob isn’t doing.

      Maybe for the situation where she wasn’t cc’d on the email, if there was some plausible other action item/question you needed answered from Rob, you could forward the email to him and say something like “Hey Rob, this is the follow-up from the latest vendor meeting, I had a quick question about X that I wanted to run by you. FYI, Adele wasn’t able to make this meeting which is why she wasn’t mentioned and why we weren’t able to address the updates about her account. Just wanted to bring that to your attention in case you wanted to follow up on that separately.” or something?

      Alison often gives advice about talking about the impact that a coworker’s behavior is having on YOU, which I think is really good here. For the meetings, it’s not a good use of *your* time to sit around for 5-10 minutes waiting for her. If she’s not showing up to vendor meetings, is that impacting your own work in any way? If it’s making vendors think your company is unreliable overall, that’s something that’s probably worth raising to Rob. If it’s just annoying to you, maybe don’t spend the capital on it.

      1. Lady Louise*

        “Hey, I’d like to make sure we’re being respectful of people’s time, so let’s get started now” – this is good!

        Unfortunately for the email, none of what Adele works on would be an action item or question from me.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        I think the way to avoid sounding like you’re criticizing his leadership is to just keep it really focused on either your own job, your unique viewpoint of Adele’s impact (not stuff which is obvious to him) and on productive outcomes which help stuff get done. Like, what’s the actual, measurable effect of her being a few minutes late? Of course you wouldn’t say “Ugh it’s just wrong and unprofessional and you should have tackled it”, but you might say “clients are saying x and y when they don’t see Adele join meetings on time (something they might not be saying to him); I’m sure Adele is on another priority, but I’m not privy to the details of what that is, so how would you like me to handle it when they raise concerns?” Or you might say “Adele has been asking me about how to do y for a while and my one off answers haven’t really seemed to help her. However I’m not really well placed to do more extensive training at the moment, and I thought I’d let you know in case any training is available.”

        1. Lady Louise*

          I think this is quite excellent – “clients are saying x and y when they don’t see Adele join meetings on time (something they might not be saying to him); I’m sure Adele is on another priority, but I’m not privy to the details of what that is, so how would you like me to handle it when they raise concerns?”

          Hmm, our next meeting with that particular vendor is next month. I might bring this up to him in our 1:1 (Mondays) before the meeting (on a Thursday)

    3. WellRed*

      I’d say “can we get started and Adele can join us” rather than the way you phrased it. Slight tweak but a bit softer since no one else seems as bothered (I’d be super irritated myself).

    4. Christmas Carol*

      I would start passive agressive e-mailing Rob with Adele’s basic questions with an “Is it ok for me do help her with this” or at least cc’ing him on your response everytime she needs you to bail her out.

      1. Lady Louise*

        lol. She does this via our chat (ex. Slack, Teams), rather than email, so I can’t forward to him.

        1. Carlottamousse*

          If you wanted to go this route, you could copy and paste her questions into an email and respond via email (and add the CC’s). I find it’s easier to search emails, so if asked, you could always say you’re doing that so it’s easier for you to file away, keep a record and to find past questions and answers…

        2. snip it*

          You could snip it and send the snip. I worked with “Adele” as well, totally irritating….. and no managing from management… and why I don’t work there anymore.

    5. Slskeoiens*

      As she doesn’t work for you, this isn’t your problem to solve. If she does things that negatively impact your work, in that moment give her feedback. For example, if she sends you bad information then you tell her the information is wrong and what the implications are of sending bad information.

      Otherwise, this is your boss’ job. I get that you don’t feel he is managing her properly but that isn’t your call. I know it can be frustrating but I find acknowledging what is and isn’t within my control helps.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Came here to say this.
        Plus, I suggest you be “too busy” to answer her questions. Just a cheery “so sorry, super slammed!” every time she asks.

    6. Alex*

      I worked with an Adele and a Rob for a decade. Nothing ever changed. Oh and also Adele was promoted. I feel you, but in my experience there’s not much you can do to make your manager be a better manager to an incompetent coworker.

  3. It’sMeI’mCathyI’veComeHome*

    I work in a public elementary school (not a teacher). After 10 years, I am finally getting burned out – there are so many students and families with so many needs, and never enough resources to help them. I would like to update my resume and start looking around at jobs in other fields.

    My conundrum is this – should I put my union activities on my resume? In my previous resumes, I’ve had a section for community service, but in the past four or five years, most of my time has been taken up with union activities (I was elected president of my local last spring and was the secretary for seven years before that). I’ve served on local and state committees, received scholarships to national conferences, bargained two contracts as part of the negotiating team, etc.

    If I don’t include my union activities, my community service is pretty thin on the ground. I also feel like my involvement speaks to my professional development and commitment. But of course I know that many (most?) workplaces are not union-friendly and so I don’t want to tank my candidacy from the get-go.

    What do you advise?

    1. Glazed Donut*

      I think you should include it. Even if it has a political slant, (1) do you want to work somewhere where you feel you may need to ‘hide’ any indication of that and (2) from what you have described, you had a good amount of responsibility and results to show. Balancing full-time work as well as volunteering work should show a future employer that you can handle competing deadlines and increased responsibilities.
      I also don’t think a ‘community service’ section of a resume is necessary, unless you’re applying places that require it or hold it in certain high regard. Most resumes I see these days don’t include it.

      1. higheredrefugee*

        I also have separate headings for Professional Service and Community Service. As a lawyer, I include my union, affinity group, professional associations, and bar association stuff under Professional Service, stuff I do in general voluntairism under Community Service.

    2. Nowwhat465*

      Depending on what you are applying for, I would have two resumes: one with the union experience and one without.

      In my field (higher ed) no one would bat an eye at a former school teacher with union activities and experience on their resume. If you’re applying for Big Name Coffee Shop or other corporations known for union busting, then it could be an issue.

      1. new year, new name*

        This is also my advice! If you’re staying in education (or any field with a lot of former teachers in it, or one that overlaps with K12 teaching in any way, or one that is typically friendly to labor in general) I think the union activities would be a real benefit. Unions are so standard in teaching that I think your union work would be viewed similarly to if you organized an employee resource group or something — related to your job but above & beyond your basic role. But I’d recommend being more circumspect if you’re headed to a more union-busty field or employer.

    3. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Serving on committees etc is substantial and you should feel good about celebrating those skills/accomplishments if you want to and particularly if they are relevant to your next jobs.
      However, doing some research into your potential employers to uncover whether they have made efforts to union-bust may be helpful in choosing what to include.

      If your target industry is union-neutral I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Include the accomplishments. Education is a field that is highly unionized, so people shouldn’t take it as somehow inflammatory that someone was involved with that part of their job.

      Also, you’re not required to have community service on your resume — it’s not a college application, after all.

      1. Bess and George*

        I agree with the above, but I list that kind of activity as “service to the field” rather than “community service,” to show that it is both substantive and professionally-oriented.

    4. JustMe*

      Ooooooh that’s tricky. My mom used to work for a well-known, large nonprofit that strove to be apolitical–I remember she once told me that receiving a resume and application from a very qualified candidate who had worked for a political party had given her pause. She was concerned that even though the candidate herself was phenomenal on paper, it could cause issues if they hired someone who was so clearly aligned with a certain political ideology.

      Obviously, that’s different than just having some experience with and in a union. But you may need to carefully think about the industries you’re planning to go into to see how that might be interpreted. Someone here mentioned that having union experience when applying for, say, higher ed wouldn’t bat an eye…but at my institution, unions are very much NOT a thing and I could see HR wondering if that might carry over into some of your expectations about the role.

      No right or wrong answer here–I would just recommend doing some research on the field you’re looking to get into and maybe put some feelers out if you know anyone in the space. Good luck!

    5. Linda*

      Bargaining two contracts is pretty significant! I would hate to leave that off, if it were me. I’m in an industry where union activity is at least tolerated, so YMMV, but I intentionally leave union experience on my resume and mention it in interviews so potential employers know what kind of pain in the tuchus I’m going to be. Certain large companies won’t hire you with union plastered all over your resume, but in those cases they’ll probably find out about the union activity anyhow if you’re applying for a salaried position.

    6. Academic Librarian too*

      Leave it off.
      I spent 8 years as a union representative and participated as a union representative negotiating for two contracts.
      10 years ago I applied for my present position.
      The administration does not want to hire a “trouble maker” and that is what they will think when they read your CV.

  4. What's in a name?*

    I’m in my mid-30s, and I’m strongly considering going by a new nickname based on my first name (I’ve never liked it and it holds a lot of trauma for me). Anywhoo, I am trying to find out how to navigate this in both my personal life and work. So for work specifically, I’m actually trying to leave my current role, so I’ll probably just keep going by “Mary” there. But for new jobs how is this done? I’m good with creating a new email with my [nickname][lastname], but what do I put on my resume? Should I do something like [Mary “Marnie” Lastname]? And when I’m applying for jobs when they ask for your first and last name, should I put [Mary] or [Marnie] in the first name slot? Or just put [Mary “Marnie”]? Is there anything else to keep in mind when going by your nickname in a job? Or I’m wondering if I should just go by my middle name? I’ve never gone by a nickname so I have no idea what I’m doing here lol.

    1. Firestar*

      I have direct experience. Use the nickname in your new email, resume and any online job applications. Inform your references that you are using a nickname for this new position so they should know it’s you when they are contacted for a reference. When you get a new job and need to submit HR paperwork, provide your legal name and ID etc. Good luck

      1. English Rose*

        Yes, exactly what I was going to say and what I have done. You will feel so much better when you’re known by the name that resonates and leave the old one behind.

        1. English Rose*

          Hi, yes, in my case my given name was something I associated with negative religious stuff. I preferred my middle name so that’s what I started using rather than a nickname as such.

    2. Cyborg Llama Horde*

      You can also just apply as Marnie Lastname, and note that your references know you as Mary Lastname. It’s increasingly common for application sites to have separate sections for legal name and nickname/lived name, too.

      1. I have RBF*

        This. I switched from my very gendered first name to a gender neutral first and middle initials. Think something like “Susan Theresa Longname” vs “ST Longname”. I put ST as my name on my resume, and note that, even if I give them my legal name for paperwork, I go by my initials as a preferred name. It still got to where they started me out with my full name on all my stuff, and I had to push back. Some folks just saw the legal name on paperwork and assumed that was what I went by. I didn’t have to do too much correction after the first few rounds of “Hey, people, I go by ST, not Susan Theresa, please correct this.”

        If the company insists on calling you Mary Lastname, in spite of you telling them not to, that’s a red flag in my book.

        A lot of companies will have space on their formal application for “preferred name”. Use it, and keep your resume in your preferred name. If the the first people read/hear of you is “Marnie” rather than “Mary”, that should stick.

        1. There You Are*

          That’s me, too, only I go by my middle name, not my initials.

          And, yep, on Day One at my current company, the nameplate on my cube was “There Are” instead of “You Are”, despite me filling in my preferred name all over my HR intake paperwork.

          And, hilariously-in-an-annoying-way, my healthcare insurance account is “There Yo Are” (full firstname, and only three letters of my 7-letter middle name), and there is apparently no way to change it. So I’ve had to have all of my records changed at my doctors’ offices and at the pharmacy so that my name there matches what the insurance has so my claims will get paid. [Me: “OK, but what if I get married and change my last name:” HR: “Oh, changing last names isn’t a problem! The system is set up for that!”]

          One of my co-workers is also a middle-namer and, of course, he was entered into all of our systems as Firstname Lastname. I knew him tangentially from school, so I was like, “I thought you go by Middlename, not Firstname?” And he did that new hire thing of, “It’s OK, it doesn’t matter, I’ll answer to either one.” I had a quick chat with him out of hearing of the rest of the team to let him know that he was probably only going to get this once chance to have everyone get to know him by his preferred name, and that it would be a million times easier to say, “Actually, I go by Middlename,” when first meeting someone than coming back months (or years!) later and saying the same thing.

    3. londonedit*

      Just use the name you want to use. There’s nothing to say you have to use the name on your birth certificate on your CV. From personal experience, it’s much easier if you just put your preferred name on your CV and introduce yourself that way from the start. When you get a job and you’re filling in the various forms, that’s when you can say ‘My legal name is Samantha, so that’s what will be on my paperwork when I fill it in, but I actually go by Sami and that’s the name I’d like you to use for my email account’ or whatever. My employer has a space on the intake forms for new employees where you can put your preferred name.

      The only other thing that might crop up is references from previous employers – but again, when the time comes you can say ‘By the way, I go by Sami but that organisation knows me as Samantha’, just to head off any confusion.

    4. Anonymous 75*

      I would so Mary “Marnie” last name for resumes but just use the nickname for emails. Reason being is that when you do start at a new place all your documents will be able to be matched up properly in case things accidentally get separated.

    5. Seahorse*

      I go by a nickname at work – along the lines of Beth instead of Elizabeth or Ted for Theodore. Lots of applications have a slot for “preferred name,” which can make things easy, and my nickname is on my resume and LinkedIn account.
      My current job set up everything under my legal name, but I sign my emails with my nickname. IT grouched at me a bit when I asked them to shift the name in their systems, but I said it made more sense to keep everything consistent, and they agreed.

    6. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I might put both on top of the resume (especially important for when people are calling references), but the new worksearch email with the new version of the name is a really smart move. That’s where I always check to see if Robert wants to be called Bob or Elizabeth is a Liz.

      And then when you get an offer and you’re setting up the logistics, mention to HR that “I go by Marnie, and would much prefer to have my work email reflect that too — it makes it easier for people to know who I am.”

      As for which name you want, if you’re trying to avoid “Mary” you might want to avoid “Mary”-derivatives to avoid people making up their own ideas about which to pick from. Your middle name, if you want to be that, is a great choice and very easy to tell HR about.

      And if anyone asks about why you were Mary there, and Marnie here, you can just say “oh gosh, I just didn’t clamp down early enough in my tenure there and my legal name became the default. I really look forward to starting on the right foot this time.”

      1. new year, new name*

        I think your last paragraph is a great idea — anyone who has ever tried to shift toward or away from a nickname will immediately understand!

        1. I have RBF*

          This. Getting people to use your preferred name is like a snowball rolling down a hill. Hard to get started, but easier as time goes on.

      2. Chelsea*

        I was going to suggest the same thing as the last paragraph – if you feel weird about having a new name, let them think that the old workplace was the outlier. Anything from inflexible IT systems to there being another “Marnie” are totally normal reasons someone goes by their legal name instead of a preferred nickname.

        1. Random Bystander*

          Very true about inflexible IT systems or the like. My employer before current used to have a system firstname_lastname@domain … which made it lots of fun when you needed to contact someone outside your immediate area who actually went by a middle name or even a nickname of the middle name .. think someone whose legal name was Mary Elizabeth who went by Liz. Fortunately, somewhere along the line, they realized it was much better to use the names that people actually used ( … so when we switched to the format firstname.lastname, that Mary Elizabeth was now liz.jones instead of mary_smith since she’d gotten married/changed last name since she started working for that employer.

    7. Roland*

      You can use your new nickname in all of your application materials! Of course when it comes to a background check, i9 etc you’ll want to put legal info but you can just use the new name everywhere else. If they do references you’ll probably want to tell them if it’s not an obvious connection (jen/jennifer is obvious for example, marnie/mary is not).

      When you accept an offer, maybe mention to someone to make sure IT uses your nickname and not legal name, just in case. I have coworkers who show as “Jen” absolutely everywhere, and I also have coworkers who go by “Bob” IRL but are shown as “Robert” in email, slack, every account we use. Much easier when IT matches reality.

    8. NameRequired*

      You can and should put Marnie everywhere! Mention to any references that people may reach out asking for Marnie and make sure that your online presence is all under Marnie. The only time your legal name should come up is when you are filling out paperwork.

      If you let people know what to call you from the start, they will do so!

      Also, personal advice: choose a name that brings you joy to hear. You’re already going through the effort of a personal rebrand, you can choose literally whatever name you want.

    9. Generic Name*

      I have a somewhat uncommon nickname for my long and common first name. Here’s how I phrase it on my resume: Longfirstname (Nickname) Lastname. When I first interview or talk to someone at a company, I tell them I go by Nickname. Sometimes they see my resume and ask if I go by Nickname proactively. It’s never been a problem.

    10. Executive As-Superhero*

      A lot of systems have slots to put in “preferred name” but honestly just roll with the nickname, especially if it is somewhat related to your legal name. It’s so so common folks don’t even realize they are using nicknames of others! You’ll probably have to use your legal name with HR for tax stuff but again this is common and they’ll know what to do.

    11. HonorBox*

      Had an applicant for a recent vacancy, and we’d interviewed them before. There was a little confusion as email was one name and the resume was a different name. When we’d talked to them before they went by the name on the email.

      They came in for a second interview and I just asked which name they preferred. Turns out it was the name on the resume. Turns out, college professors and career coaches had said that the given name (the one that was preferred) sounded “childish” but they preferred it. So I just made a point to introduce them to everyone we encountered as “preferred name” and told them I absolutely side on going by the name you’re most comfortable with.

      Not quite sure why people give bad advice. And to answer you, LW, I’d say go with what you prefer. Start using your nickname. Create the email. Let your references know, and if there is any confusion just let people know that you prefer the nickname but your previous employer created everything with your given name and it was too difficult to unwind that.

    12. AllTheNames*

      For the practical: I use a non-common nickname for my legal name in all cases, so I always use that on resumes, cover letters and email accounts, and it’s never been an issue. The only place my legal name lives is legal documents for payroll, etc. In your case, you might need to note that references know you as Mary, but otherwise it shouldn’t be an issue with anybody. I had one coworker who didn’t find out I was actually Legal Name until we’d worked together for eight years.
      For the name trauma: The reason I use a non-common nickname is because the legal name and common nickname were a source of trauma in middle school. For some reason it’s impossible to keep people from using the common nickname if they find out I’m actually Legal Name vs. Non-Common Nickname, so my first tip is to correct people (nicely) if they use your legal name, especially if you get stuck with it in your work email. Otherwise you can wind up with people using the one you hate and it feels like a stone in your shoe dealing with those people. I have a friend who started going by one of her three middle names as soon as the parent who insisted on her hated first name died (more name trauma), and she just explains to people that she goes by a middle name. That might be the easier route if you want a nickname that’s not a variation on your first name.
      And if you’ve got a legal name that has multiple common nicknames like Elizabeth (Liz, Beth, Betty) or William (Bill, Will, Billy), people probably won’t blink when you say “Oh, I go by …” if you’re using one of those. I’m guessing not, though, because you’d probably already have picked up on one you like by now.

    13. Lilith*

      I started using a new nickname when I was about 30 or so, which is based on my real name but is not an obvious derivative.

      I use my nickname in all communication and paperwork when applying for new jobs, right up until they start saying they’ll be contacting references (I don’t apply for jobs that check references before interviewing). At that point I’ll say ‘I might be in their system as Bonbon Smith, which is my legal name, although I use Nin in day to day life’

    14. crisper*

      I recently started requesting that people call me by an old nickname rather than my birth name (let’s say Christen is my birth name and Crisper my nickname), but — for reasons — I’ve been inconsistent. So new clients at gigjob know me as Crisper but old gigjob clients and mainjob colleagues call me Christen but every now and then I get a “wait, are you Crisper now?” When I get annoyed, which is something you may experience: when out of habit I introduce myself to new people as Christen or when out of habit someone else introduces me as Christen and I end up overexplaining my preference as if it’s something to apologize for.

  5. Sunflower*

    How do I deal with a boss who is lassiez-faire about roles and responsibilities? What’s the best way to approach her and get her to clarify who is supposed to be doing what?

    At the end of 2022, my teammate (Sarah’s) role changed and both myself and other teammate (Kie) had roles shift slightly due to this. Kie and I have vague ideas of our roles but are concerned about not understanding our exact responsibilities. Sarah is a hard worker and takes on her fair share of work but because of this lack of structure, she has ended up with tasks that are more strategic and therefore more visible to leadership (I’m unsure if this is why she hasn’t voiced concern about the lack of clarity).

    This is a mess for obvious reasons but to add, my role is to kind of be a project manager and I was brought on to set processes for projects. I feel uncomfortable ‘guessing’ at assigning out work when I don’t know other teammates workload and everywhere I’ve worked before has been extremely clear on R&R’s – my department seems to actively avoid processes!

    I’ve casually brought up this concern with my manager but she tends to not worry about who does what unless the work isn’t done or someone complains. I need her to set some concrete roles and responsibilities. In the past, I’d put together a list with our guesses of who does what but I’m concerned she will just agree without thinking about it critically. What do you think I should do?

    1. Robert Smith's Hair*

      Can you talk with the other staff to get an idea of their workloads, make the assignments, and then show to Sarah for input?

    2. What's in a name?*

      Oh I’ve been in the situation before. I reached out to HR for job descriptions and asked what the difference is between my level and the level above, they didn’t have an answer. I also brought up having concrete skill and responsibilities based on role levels, which leadership agreed to, but they still haven’t done a year later with no ETA.

      You could put together something, but honestly, it seems like your boss doesn’t care. Even if you do, they could be like, “yeah, this looks awesome!”, but then not follow it or hold people accountable.

    3. Parenthesis Guy*

      Can you explain more about your role as a PM? Is everyone on your team a PM, or are you on a team with Sarah, Kie and Manager and you are meant to be the PM of this team of four?

      1. Sunflower*

        I’m an events manager in Marketing- Me, Sarah and Kie all report into a Director of Marketing. I am about ~8months into this role. In theory, I do everything for the events except create content. Sarah’s new role is all event content. Kie handles a specific type of content and used to be involved in events if the content was in that area- now Kie isn’t sure if she’s supposed to be involved in events at all. I’m responsible for putting together the event deliverables and making sure the owner’s of deliverables are aware- everyones job has responsibilities and skills that naturally align them with certain deliverables but there are more than a number of gray areas that could potentially fall under any of our roles. Events are only a small part of most of the people involved jobs and none of this is decided by workload. I’m not responsible for managing anyone’s goals or workload.

        The areas with most confusion are pre-event execution areas like determining strategy and overall marketing of the event (the areas leadership cares about) and the smaller, administrative yet time consuming tasks no one wants to do. AFAIK these could fall on any of us and they may vary by event. I don’t feel it’s my job to ‘assign’ work or guess what people should be doing because no one has job descriptions. I just want everyone involved to have the workload and visibility to leadership that our manager wants and expects based on our job roles

  6. Rosemary*

    Short Term Disability vs Paid Family Leave question: I live in New York, and a discussion came up in a local group I am in. Someone asked about being able to take leave from work due to some mental health issues. People threw around Short Term Disability and Paid Family Leave as options.

    I looked up the difference between ST Disability and PFL, and in New York at least, it looks like an individual who is sick/injured can go on ST Disability, but PFL is ONLY for caring for someone else (new baby, ill family member, etc) – you can’t take PFL to care for yourself. OK, fine so if you get sick you take disability. Well…it looks like ST Disability pays a MAX of $170 per week, whereas PFL pays up to 67% of your salary. I put my salary into the calculator, and I’d get $1131 per week on PFL (it appears this is the max; I make over $100K).

    In other words, if my mom gets cancer and I need to take time off of work to care for her, I’d still be earning ~$4500/month (less than I typically bring home, but at least it is not nothing). But if *I* get cancer and am unable to work, I’ll only be getting $680/month??

    Please tell me I have interpreted this all wrong, and you do not receive LESS to take care of yourself than you do to take care of someone else?? I am ALL for Paid Family Leave, and I applaud New York for having it…but I am appalled if this does not extend to an individual dealing with an illness/injury themselves.

    1. clueless*

      No experience (but in state), so take all this with a grain of salt. I know that for my employer, ST disability is paid as a percentage of your salary based on the time worked there. From what I’m getting from the gov website, I think it may be a case where your employer does pay some portion of the benefit, and the state puts $170 a week (either on top of that, or as part of your employer’s benefit).

      1. Rosemary*

        Oh I hope that is the case and not that you are basically screwed if you get sick yourself!

    2. Elspeth*

      I think that is the base amount available in NY (NY is one of the few states that requires employers to offer short term disability to their employees), but your employer may offer a better plan as part of their benefit package. I am not in NY, but my employer offers 6 weeks @ 100% (with a 1 week waiting period for illness but no waiting period for an accident), 7 weeks at 75%, and remaining 13 weeks @ 60%. My husband’s is 60% for the whole time.

      1. Just here for the scripts*

        I’m in NYC—and a city employee. The latter means I have no short-term disability as the city and state were exempt from the regulation requiring employees to provide it. Partner is also employed in NYC but at a private company. His time out dealing with his knee replacement was covered by STD at his company and he got full pay, minus the three days sick leave that’s required before using STD. So yeah, ask your HR department for documentation regarding its STD process and coverage.

    3. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      As I understand it, these are actually two pretty different things.

      PFL is a benefit from an employer, a variation of sick time or PTO essentially, being offered in specific circumstances. (e.g., FMLA but with some cash coming in)

      STD from NYS is an temporary payment from the state which covers an individual who is unable to work due to a medical condition. Employers may also offer STD for employees or provide an optional benefit that you can pay into as an insurance policy. The NYS payment for STD is not much, unfortunately. is a good place for reviewing other benefits someone might receive when temporarily unable to work due to their own medical condition.

      1. Rosemary*

        No, PFL is a form of insurance and it is required by New York. I am pretty sure the employer pays into the insurance, but they do not pay the benefit out themselves, similar to disability it is the insurance company that covers it (unless of course they offer something on top of the required benefit, which I am sure some employers do)

        1. cabbagepants*

          Yes, this is correct.

          I think it’s a better system than having employers pay out because the amounts of money involved are substantial and having the state pay it means that the payments are much more reliable.

          1. Rosemary*

            Exactly. It would be untenable for many companies to pay out leave, and would likely lead to more discrimination particularly against women of childbearing age. I work for a small company – we could not afford to have people out on leave for extended periods. If I were the owner, I’d be pretty hesitant to hire anyone I might perceive as being likely to need to take extended leave.

    4. Sheila*

      You can also purchase disability insurance for yourself! I have a long term disability policy with the same provider my life insurance comes from. It would pay 67% of my salary.

      1. Rosemary*

        Isn’t long term disability insurance pretty expensive, especially if you are on the older side? Or maybe I am thinking about long term care insurance…

        1. Barb*

          Long term disability insurance actually gets cheaper the older you are, because it only pays until you turn 65, so the closer you get to 65, the less they’ll have to pay and so they charge less

    5. cabbagepants*

      NYS resident.

      When I went out on STD, the state payed that nominal amount but my employer paid much more, up to 67% of my salary. I did have to opt in to STD insurance but since I knew I’d need it this year. IIRC the STD payments are also tax exempt or taxed differently, so the take home was pretty close to my regular salary.

    6. mreasy*

      I don’t know if it is a legal requirement but every place I’ve worked with benefits also has STD insurance. I was just on STD, with the payout being 60% of your salary up to !1500/month. (I live in NYC and Mutual of Omaha subtracted the NYC amount from my $1500, since they also administered the NYS payment. Confusing!) So your company should have STD insurance you can tap into if needed.

    7. Just wishing my memory was better*

      One thing on STD – the amount that you bring home might not be taxable. It’s been a while (youngest is 18) but I worked for a couple of firms while pregnant. If the STD is part of the benefits package (i.e., paid for by the company), the payments taxable but if I elected to pay for the coverage, my payments were not taxable. I think. It’s been a while.
      So, the amount that you are citing varies if it’s taxable or not.

  7. Watry*

    I’m ending the fifth week of a new job. I spent a week in orientation, but since then I have had something to do for about five days (and often not full days). I also cannot get the training I need to do the job. My boss and I have done what pushing back we can (my job duties are also not firmed up as this is a new position, which is a problem for Boss as well), but it’s an pretty hierarchical place and doing more is risky.

    Every other job I’ve had has been boots on the ground from at least day 2, but this is my first job that isn’t entry level. This is not normal, right?

    1. chs.29*

      I think this depends a lot on the industry, but since you mentioned that the position isn’t entry-level, I do think this is something that happens (but still very frustrating). In my current position, I didn’t have a ton of work until about 2 months in. But I got through that initial slowness by making my own professional development: reading blogs and articles related to my industry, creating lists of resources for myself, even advancing my Photoshop skills (which turned out to be super useful). I hope that helps!

    2. Financial Aid Fellow*

      Are they still hiring? I would love a low-key job at the moment, I’m about to hit an avalanche of work after my leave and I was so hoping they’d let me ease in.

      But to answer your question, at my company it can really depend on the role, we have a pretty overwhelming onboarding and then the person is expected to hit the ground running, unless they have a micromanager.

      1. Watry*

        Once I get the training and software permissions I need it won’t be so low-key, it’s a six-hats kind of job.

        Meanwhile I’ve read about 150 AAM posts plus comments this week alone, plus four books.

    3. English Rose*

      I suspect this is around it being a new position with the duties not firmed up. Sometimes a new position is a little bit what the person doing it makes of it rather than what’s in the job description.
      That said, was the training to do the job discussed at the outset, or is it something you only now realise you need? If the former, then can your boss go to grand-boss to push back?
      If it were me I’d probably give it another few weeks but be keeping an active eye out for other opportunities.

      1. Watry*

        A large part of the problem is that the person who did this work before me is supposed to train me*, but the reason my position was created is his promotion to a point he can no longer handle the work on top of his actual job. He’s having problems getting free, I think, and we work opposite shifts.

        In the middle of typing this Grandboss came in and this is going to get fixed. Which is hilarious.

        *I know that sounds like I’m contradicting myself about the job duties but I promise I’m not.

    4. MurpMaureep*

      It’s not that uncommon for more senior jobs to take a bit of time to ramp up, especially since you may be getting work transitioned to you from people higher in the organization, or other senior level peers. That can take time to manage and organize. It’s the classic “I’m too busy to do all my work and also too busy to teach someone about my work” conundrum.

      Since your boss is on the same page as you, perhaps ask them if there are skills you could be learning, or industry knowledge you could be picking up. Also ask about shadowing others who you’ll be working with, or just taking part in project planning and status meetings. It’s a bit of a “drink from the fire hose” way of learning, but it might help orient you to the eventual work and role.

    5. jasmine tea*

      I work in highly-regulated industries and this is common for me. It takes weeks and weeks to get the proper training to be “allowed” to touch certain data. If they are mass-hiring, it makes sense for them to keep the earliest hires in a holding pattern so they only have to hold one mass training session.

      If you do work that is overseen by SEC, FINRA, CFPB, CFTC, FDA, MDR, EPA, OSHA, etc., then yes that sounds normal.

    6. Fear Biter*

      If your role is at all cross-functional, or any aspects of it intersect with other areas of the business, can you schedule meetings with key stakeholders from those other areas to talk about what they would like to see out of collaborations with your role, any current pain points your role can relieve, etc? Since your position is newly created, it might be in part the result of other areas of the org needing additional support. I have done this in similar contexts before. The goal is partly actually fact finding/information gathering, and part relationship building. Now they know you exist, that you are approachable, etc. Even if they don’t have an immediate need for collaboration, or anything specific you can improve for them right away, it might get the partnership juices flowing.

      This can also work in a more siloed role – just talk to your boss to see if it’s possible to set up some introductory meetings with the roles above yours (within reason) to see what problems they are hoping you can solve.

      1. Watry*

        Thank you, but this plus shadowing was that five days I mentioned. :) Nothing I can do for them now, but it was very helpful for long-term planning when we roll out a new system in a year-ish.

        1. Fear Biter*

          Ah, well shoot. That is frustrating. I’ve been in your shoes before and the boredom was a real issue for me. I think it IS sadly, kind of normal, but that doesn’t make it easier to deal with. I think someone else might have suggested this but can you start on a job description/goals for the position, with input from your boss – assuming that isn’t already done. Otherwise, I agree with MurpMaureep who suggests trying to get added to any recurring meetings or email chains that you’ll eventually need to participate in. Even if you don’t know what’s going on right now, it can help to have some exposure before your training starts in earnest. Best of luck friend, and congrats on the new role!

          1. Watry*

            Thank you! My grandboss stopped by earlier and is going to handle making everything happen. It’s a highly hierarchical field (think military), so this is going to be waaaay more helpful. I also just got an email for a meeting I need to be in, though I’ll likely won’t have much to say as I don’t even have access to the relevant software yet.

    7. I have RBF*

      I’ve been in this position, primarily because access to various things I need for my job is very tightly controlled and takes a ton of approvals, and that’s after finding the right department to give it/approve it. It is both a blessing and a curse. Blessing because I got to slack off for a bit and do professional development, and a curse because I’d rather be sleeping than waiting for something to do.

      Some places are just slow and bureaucratic. You need to figure out their rhythm, and go with it. For people who are used to diving straight in and making an impact immediately, it’s hard to do, but for some jobs it’s necessary.

      Congratulations on the new job.

  8. ThatGirl*

    I work on a creative production team in marketing for a large manufacturing/supply company. Two weeks ago it was announced that one of our smaller divisions is closing, primarily due to low sales and it not being a terribly competitive market for us. Okay, these things happen. Except that we had four very talented people on a specialized team at that location who are also being let go. Even though they were doing work across multiple business units, very necessary work that will need to continue. And it will be more expensive to outsource it than to keep the in-house team — someone did the math and presented the numbers and TPTB just shrugged. I do not understand the short-sightedness here.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      It might be more expensive on an hour-to-hour basis to outsource it, but maybe by the time you throw the overhead in for rent, phone & IT support, dealing with local business license stuff, etc. the scales tip the other way…

      1. ThatGirl*

        That doesn’t hold up in this case though, we will still have (remote) workers in that state, they could get rid of the building and any brand-specific staff without getting rid of those 4 employees.

    2. Friday Person*

      I have heard rumor that layoffs can be executed in a way that actually makes strategic sense, but I have yet to ever encounter this in reality.

      1. ThatGirl*

        There are a lot of things this newly-merged company is doing that don’t make strategic sense to me, but I don’t want to dox myself with details :P

    3. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      Companies often make really poor decisions about layoffs, no argument there, but sometimes there are lurking business advantages.

      The big one is making the books look better. On the balance sheet, employee salaries are long term liabilities to the company. Removing employees from the ledger often looks better to analysts, even if that means outsourcing costs that are as much or even more. One is a temporary expense, one is a long term liability, and finance folks see those very differently. Combined with not having to provide benefits to vendors, this can often be reason enough to reduce headcount. Especially if they don’t believe the special talent is all that special or necessary to begin with, which could be what is happening in your case.

      It’s also cleaner to let a whole group go and save no one — this is clearly a layoff. No one could claim any discrimination or unjust firing. If you save a few people, it could create legal questions or administrative effort.

      There are also labor reasons, which doesn’t sound relevant to you but in general. I believe the tech layoffs right now are an effort to take back the upper hand over talent. Union busting is an example of this.

      1. ThatGirl*

        There were a few people from the office who remained, and they even kept one person from that team (5-person team, 4 eliminated). The person with the least experience and presumably lowest pay.

        I mean, I know I’m not A Business Person and someone somewhere had reasons for it, but it just… like I said, seems short-sighted.

        1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

          And it often is! All of the reasons I gave are short-sighted in their own way. Shifting money around on a balance sheet doesn’t make your finances stronger in reality.

          It’s frustrating to lose great team members when it seems like it’s going to do more harm than good :(

        2. I have RBF*

          Some companies get “quarterly report syndrome”. They get some MBA that tells them that their shareholders need to see better numbers on the quarterly report, and the fastest way to do that is by reducing headcount. Of course, reducing headcount means reducing productivity, but some folks convince themselves they can do more with less.

          If it’s in an area that the company is sunsetting anyway, it works. But if they cut staff in their bread and butter business, they could get burned by it in the next quarter, and again end up listening to MBA consultants that will tell them to cut headcount again. After a couple years of this a company will drastically restructure, get bought out, get sold to vulture capitalists who will strip it for parts, or just plain go under. Very rarely do they pull their head out and staff back up without a radical restructure or pivot.

          If this happens every year, you are working for a company that does rank and yank plus annual restructuring, so plan for the job to always be unstable.

          1. ThatGirl*

            Well, the larger company is not the least bit unstable; it IS a public company, so I suppose VC is not out of the question but it seems unlikely right now. They’re very into mergers & acquisitions. The business unit that got cut had been in limbo for awhile; it was supposed to be integrated into the one I work for, and the people there (including the team I mentioned) were mostly working on my BU’s projects.

            It’s not so much rank and yank – it’s not that formal – but there is a lot of shuffling numbers and things around depending on which way the wind blows. So the “quarterly report syndrome” is probably unfortunately accurate.

          2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

            I don’t think we can hang 100% of it on MBA consultants and even company leadership — they have a big part to play, but they are doing it to appeal to analysts and shareholders. Wall Street creates the short-term thinking IMO. CEOs need to do a better job of standing up for what their companies need but as long the stock price rewards quarterly report syndrome, the incentives run the wrong way and bad decisions continue to happen.

    4. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I expect it is only a matter of time before they get hired back as ‘consultants’.

  9. chs.29*

    Advice and opinions needed! Should I leave my 9-5 to buy a business?
    Backstory: I work in a nonprofit, but my degree is in business. My father is a small business owner, and ever since I was a teenager, I’ve always felt that I would also end up owning a small business. I have a cousin who was a professional baker and taught me how to bake years ago. I’ve never gone through formal pastry school, but I have attended many community college courses and taken online courses just because I love it. Recently, some of my coworkers found out I bake. After I baked for a work event, I started getting orders (I’ve never taken orders! They just started coming to me!) and I started to see the potential. I’m an events coordinator, so I also have a great network of people who need baked goods.
    Last week, a bakery in a highly desirable location went up for sale. I looked at all the financials, talked to the broker, and honestly, I think this could be my opportunity to jump into it. The current owner is retiring, and I see a lot of room for growth. I would love any advice or opinions! TIA!

    1. Dovasary Balitang*

      I think you should do it. Regret the things you do, not the things you don’t do! Or whatever the phrase is. That said, maybe keep your job at a part time basis for the first couple of months, depending on if that’s allowed?

      1. chs.29*

        I don’t think they would allow me to go to PT, but I live in a heavily populated area where there are plenty of PT jobs in my industry, so I feel like I have a good backup if sales don’t hit my targets. Thanks for your advice!

    2. Robert Smith's Hair*

      DO IT! If it doesn’t work, you can go back to events (we are always hiring). Go for your dream and try it – I am so excited for you!! Keep us posted and break a…muffin? :)

    3. RagingADHD*

      How much of an emergency fund do you have? How long could you keep the business going / service your debt if sales tank after the handover? How good are your relationships at your current job and your professional network — if it didn’t work out, how hard would it be to get your job back or a job with similar income? Are there any experienced staff who might stay on at the bakery to help with the transition?

      If you’ve done the math and aren’t putting yourself in a super-risky position, it sounds like a good opportunity. Taking over an already-stable business is a lot better proposition than quitting a regular job/career to try to start something from scratch.

      1. chs.29*

        Those are all great questions, and definitely ones I’ve spent hours and hours mulling over this week. When I learned that all of the staff were willing to stay on, and the owner was very willing to assist with the transition and even consult later down the road, I felt better about it. The business is very stable; the owner is just a sole proprietor that is super ready to retire, and that also made me feel good about it. Thanks for the advice!

        1. IWannaBeAnon*

          Ah, see this changes what I was going to say so I’m happy I refreshed before hitting submit on my comment. I thought you would be starting from scratch with no employees and I was like “ehhhhh, this is probably not a great idea.”

          It sounds like you’ll have a good support system to make the transition, so if you have the emergency funds as well and think you can manage this, it might be a worthy investment. That being said, I think everyone here (especially Alton Brown’s Evil Twin) has brought up a lot of points that you should consider. Being the boss is extremely different than being an employee, and from my experience, bakeries can go under fast. Bakeries hours are early and loooooong. I would also ask the baker you’re taking over from if you have permission to continue using her recipes.

          Good luck!

    4. Ali + Nino*

      I love your enthusiasm! It’s clear you’re very excited about this. Have you seen any of the Canadian show (two seasons on Hulu) Project Bakeover? A pastry chef and interior designer help struggling bakeries become profitable. I think you’d enjoy it AND get a sense of some of the challenges you might need to prepare for. Best of luck!

    5. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Hard to say without looking at the actual books, but here are some things to think about (my experience in small business retail: I was the manager, not the owner, but I met with the owners regularly and saw things from their perspective too.)

      1) You are going to be the person of last resort. Need someone to be there early to meet the landlord, refrigerator maintenance person, health inspector? That’s you. Employee calls out sick? You pick up their shift. Etc.
      2) This also applies to $. As the owner, you get paid last. Rent, employees, taxes, utilities, suppliers; all need to be paid first before you see a dime.
      3) Get a bookkeeper. Somebody who makes sure that bills are paid and accounts get balanced – you are going to be tired from running the business, and having somebody else for 10 hours/month to handle paperwork will be a tremendous weight lifted off your shoulders.
      4) Absolutely do not try to shave $ from your sales taxes. They will find you, they will yank your licenses, and you will go out of business.
      5) This is food, so pay attention to waste and shrinkage. There should be published metrics you can go by for this industry.
      6) Social media and trends — you’ll need a strong social media presence, on multiple platforms, as advertising. Pinterest & Instagram for sure, because you’re selling sight as much as you are taste. You also need to be aware of what’s trending in other places (remember when everybody was doing cake pops?) so you can jump on and off trends at the right time.
      7) Do not become beholden to your vendors. I worked in wine sales, and distributors thought they “owned” a shelf in my store until I set them right. You decide what to make and sell, you place orders with the right vendors. If quality, availability, service, etc. from a vendor suffers, you need to switch to another one. Do not let their salespeople sweet-talk you.
      8) Once the business is on a solid footing, make sure you build in time to completely switch off. On Tuesdays & Wednesdays I handed over to the evening sales clerk/bartender at 6:30 and went home without a qualm.

      Good luck!

    6. English Rose*

      The sensible side of me says do lots more research, make sure you have an emergency fund etc.
      The side of me that would love to have your bakery in my street says GO FOR IT!

    7. Goddess47*

      See if the current owner is willing to consult either for a specific time or if you can call them when (not if) things go wrong. Make sure you’re paying them for their time… it will go better that way.

      Having a back-up available, even if it’s mostly moral support, can be invaluable.

      1. chs.29*

        This is definitely one of the things that made me interested: the owner is very willing to consult and help the transition go smoothly. She’s been running it since it opened 15 years ago, and she’s just ready to retire and, in her words, “hand the keys to someone with the energy and the vision.” Thanks for the advice; it definitely validates my comfort knowing that the owner is willing to consult!

    8. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Honestly? It sounds like you’ve done you planning, have a pretty good understanding of the baking side, have a pretty good understanding of the management side, and have talked with the old owner/employees, so I’d say go for it!

      A few thoughts:
      1) Ask the previous owner if you can get a chance to go over the financials before/as a part of the sale. Having a mix of experienced eyes and fresh eyes on any trends can be very useful. Since this is a small business, you’ll want to focus primarily on cash flow, but also if there are any big long term items (rental contracts, ovens, other infrastructure) get an idea of what shape they’re all in. You want to avoid a situation where you have to abruptly replace $50k worth of major assets simultaneously.

      2) Give yourself a few months to understand how the business is already operating before making any changes (with the exception of things like health code violations etc). Old customers will be wary of changes immediately after a takeover and a common problem I’ll see in new ownership is a too-rapid expansion into a new and exciting market area without taking the time to consider if you can take on a whole new load of business. This will also let you get into the hang of running things/build rapport with employees. It sounds like you have some potential avenues for really solid growth, which is good, but you don’t want to burn yourself out too fast.

      3) Leverage your employee experience. If the old employer was very ready to retire it’s likely they’re the ones who have the best understanding of what the day-to-day is like. If possible give them some room to shine. If as part of the change in ownership process you can deal with anything really annoying and small (the prior owner’s bank didn’t do direct deposit, there’s a flickering bulb that hasn’t been dealt with, the old vendor always sends 5 boxes of small gloves and one box of large), this can help you build trust and credibility.

      Send muffins!

  10. Lydia Lydia*

    Does anyone have good resources for learning to be tactful and diplomatic? I’m looking to sort of branching out to a related field, but this is a field where those two qualities are essential. Some job ads literally list them as required skills. I do have some experience working with external partners who needed to be handled with care. But I am still early in my career and tend to be blunt, so I want to learn and improve.

    1. NameRequired*

      I don’t have exact resources, but if I were you I would look for resources made for teachers! They tend to need to manage a lot of other people’s emotions and to communicate information clearly.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        I am a teacher with lots of little volatile personalities under my umbrella and I used to juggle politicians and various difficult to manage contacts as a reporter; I never came across a single resource until I was a teacher! My favorite was Sue Cowley’s Getting the Buggers to Behave, and I think her website is definitely worth a look. What it all boils down to is relationships. When people are difficult, it’s because they don’t (yet) trust you to look after their best interests, so every interaction should be about presenting yourself as their problem solver. This involves more assertiveness than you might think, because they want you to be confident, competent and honest about what you can/can’t do and what you will/won’t do. And to always follow through! It’s fine to be honest and assertive, just always make sure that you’re considering their perspective and that you’re empathizing with their goals. Otherwise, why should they care about yours? 1) Get really clear in your own mind what your boundaries are in terms of company policy, and run them past a mentors, teammates, bosses for optimum phrasing. Generally, a united front is taken a lot less personally than things presented as your whims, and shared terminology helps. 2) Agreeing to look into what else you could possibly do, or brainstorm a solution is a good way to step away from an escalating situation and let everyone calm down and get used to the idea of something being difficult/impossible. Be true to your word on mulling it over even if there’s only a slim chance. 3) Don’t miss an opportunity to bring something positive to interactions, even if it’s just greeting them properly and remembering the tiny details they find important. Ask yourself if you have capital with them and if you’re building credit before a conflict ever arises. 4) Blame the house whenever possible. Shared policies, ironclad boundaries that are so integral they’re above your pay grade, 5) Tactical ignoring. If someone seems reactive, in the moment it’s a lot less of a problem than something deliberate and preconceived. Obviously you don’t ignore something seriously rude, but I would probably ignore a voice tone or snort as much as possible. If it’s just a reaction there’s a good chance of it fading, whereas a pointed attack will need more of your attention. 6) It’s amazing how much human beings mirror each other. Try to consciously be the example of what you want them to do. Voice tone, assertiveness, directness etc. If it’s something you’d be okay with them saying to you, there’s a good chance they will mirror you.

    2. ecnaseener*

      I feel like this site is the best resource – short of intentionally starting conflicts so you can practice resolving them diplomatically lol. Read through all the scripts for various situations on this site, practice saying them out loud, figure out how to tweak them to make them feel more natural in your voice. Look at the patterns in what makes a tactful script, and start coming up with your own.

    3. DrSalty*

      Do you have colleagues with this experience that you trust to give good advice and be role models? Watching carefully what they do and how they speak and write to clients can be really informative. You can also ask them to review sensitive emails for you before sending them (we do this a lot in my office).

    4. 1234ShutTheDoor*

      “Blunt” and “tactful” are often positioned at different ends of a spectrum for many people, like you can’t ever have both, and I find that’s often not the case. A lot of people think they’re being tactful by being indirect, but it can often just be confusing. Stating the facts is almost always a good thing in my book.
      I myself am always blunt (the most I’ll ever soften information is with an “I think…” or “it was my understanding”), but I also try to always consider whether the other person needs the information, and then from there I think about when would be the best way to tell them so that they can use the information. I make sure to consider their working style and their role when conveying information. I’ve always gotten glowing reviews from this approach. It requires some empathy and mental acrobatics at first, but if you’re working with the same set of people you can quickly get to a point where you just intuitively know how to best approach everyone.
      A practical tip: blunt people can often come off as difficult/unapproachable, asking questions can head that off.

    5. slowingaging*

      Think neutral language. I talk about the thing. What is the mutual goal, what is the issue that is stopping the success of the goal. Options for clearing the issue. We can do the following options. Listen to their opinions. Pay attention to the things they do well. Focus on ways for them to succeed in those things and methods to minimize or move to other people the things they will not do well. Be kind. Don’t get talking trash about others ever. Set boundaries and specific expectations in the relationship and goals. Be concise and specific. The non-successful version. You screwed up and this will fail.

    6. Csethiro Ceredin*

      I think a lot of it is tone. If you approach issues in a spirit of inquiry rather than accusation, that goes a long way. And mentally end your sentences with a question mark or period rather than an exclamation point.

      Alison’s book has a lot of great scripts for specific situations too – I like how she asks “what happened?” rather than assuming the worst when something goes wrong.

    7. Hlao-roo*

      The post “interview with an incredibly diplomatic person … or how to agreeably disagree” from January 22, 2015 may be of interest to you! Link in a follow-up comment.

    8. Seahorse*

      This is extremely specific, but I took a course on deescalation meant for public librarians working with homeless patrons. The general suggestions for body language, social scripts, and tips for internally re-framing when dealing with communication struggles or sensitive issues were widely applicable in my opinion though.

      If you visit homelesslibrary dot com or Google some variant of ‘Ryan , Dowd deescalation training,’ you’ll get several resources. Some of it is paid, but there’s quite a bit freely available.

    9. OtterB*

      A book I like is called Getting it Done: How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge, by Fischer & Sharp. It’s not directly about being tactful and diplomatic, but that’s a lot of what it takes to manage your upper management, clients, or committee members not under your control.

    10. Midwest Manager*

      You may want to review resources around “managing up”. There are some great videos on LinkedIn Learning that talk about this, and many good books as well.

    11. Executive As-Superhero*

      Great suggestions in this thread- teachers and other public-facing jobs that provide a common good need these skills, and LinkedIn learning has some great training programs.

      My biggest tip is making a problem about a thing, not a person:

      “You forgot to flush the toilet.” Bad

      “The toilet isn’t flushing. Should we call a plumber?” Good

    12. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Years ago I took a seminar based on the works of Stephen Covey – Dealing with Difficult People. A good one-day investment.

      And as well as reading here, listen to Alison’s short series of podcasts–it was helpful to hear her tone to be able to borrow it for myself.

    13. Grateful for my diplomatic mentor*

      Great question. I think this is a skill best learned through observation and mentoring. I’ve read plenty of books that touch on dealing with difficult people and on change management…but in my experience, nothing beats having a discussion with someone about a situation you have observed, where you can unpack the social skills involved in diplomacy.

      Early in my career I had a senior colleague (now, a dear friend with whom I try to connect often in her retirement) who was the most diplomatic, tactful, and overall kind person I’ve ever known. I observed her work in many meetings, and had opportunities to talk with her – to unpack the interactions-later. Her advice was to use every moment in a tense situation to listen to others, understand what they’re working with/through/for, and to think before speaking. She was able to say clearly: “I’m here to listen (to all sides) and understand, and then apply what I know so we can work together for a solution.” She answered questions with more questions (to learn more) instead of immediately offering quick/facile solutions. Her goal was never to be the smartest person in the room – her goal was to really understand the issues.

      I was always impressed by her ability to end a conversation with a summary of the positions discussed (she was listening so well!) and propose (not DECLARE) a solution. Or, more often, promise “I need to think this through, talk with a few more people, and by X time, I’ll email everyone with a recommendation we might consider.” Her skill was listening and summarizing. Her key strategy was to assume that we’re all on the same side, working to achieve a common goal.

      The essence of diplomacy is to understand that we are looking, together, for a solution that serves our shared interests/common good/common purpose: her humble role was that she was a person just trying to help. It was brilliant. (She has been retired for some time, but is still legend – she is still greatly beloved and revered.)

      I will admit that although I’ve learned from her, I am more direct. That sort of diplomacy can be inefficient, and as our worklife has evolved, many problems really only have a few solutions. So I’ve gotten good at sorting out where to deploy my full diplomatic mojo vs. when to say “I understand you don’t LIKE any of these options, but unfortunately these are the only options we have: which is best?” I can say that ruefully and with a smile; I can allow that I’m happy to entertain other options and even check a few of those out…but still. Sometimes being clear is the best option.

      I am so grateful to have been mentored by someone who was a great diplomat. And who had the self-awareness to know what she was doing. I’m doing my best to pass that on-while also knowing that simply being polite often passes for being tactful (because it require taking others’ feelings and perspectives into account), and diplomacy takes a lot of time (because that requires deeply understanding those perspectives).

      Good luck!

  11. Leave lady*

    I need advice on showing my leave on my resume/LinkedIn. I was at one job for two years and then took a six month mental health leave. At the end of that leave I resigned my job and got another job doing the same tasks in a different office of the same broad organization. Do I show the first job ending when I resigned or when I went on health leave?

    1. Rosemary*

      I’d probably put the date you resigned. I assume when they call your company to confirm your employment those would be the dates they give, but you might want to confirm. You don’t want to put your end date as July 2022, only to have HR say your end date was January 2022 (which I am guessing would not be the case, as I you were technically still employed at the company during your leave – but I’d want to be certain)

    2. English Rose*

      Put the date you resigned. I assume you’re now looking for a new job? In which case have your wording straight if your referee mentions that you took the mental health leave. But the fact your newer job is in a different office of the same organization makes it less likely that will happen I would have thought, as you’ve proven yourself in the new job.
      I wish we didn’t still have to be so careful about mental health leave… :(

  12. Financial Aid Fellow*

    I just got informed about some looming layoffs and I’m trying to decide what to do next. My background is in financial aid, which I enjoy but I have life circumstances that prevent me from being able to commute to work more than twice a week. I’d prefer once a week or fully remote. I have a decade worth of financial aid, college affordability, a tiny bit of admissions experience (pretty minimal). Does anyone have advice for what I can do? I’d love to be able to use this knowledge without having to work in-person in a financial aid office. I’d love to consult, but how do I go about doing it? I’d love to offer coaching to new financial aid staff, but again, not sure how I’d go about it. All the job adverts I see require on-site. I also live in a pretty expensive place so I can’t be unemployed for too long.
    Would love any advice!

    1. Decidedly Me*

      Maybe check for jobs in financial aid for online schools? Those would be more likely to be remote.

      1. Financial Aid Fellow*

        I have a little bit, but a lot of the online schools don’t have the best reputation so I’d want to make sure it was a place I could put on my resume. Also, some of those online colleges pay very low wages. But thanks for the suggestion!

        1. MadCatter*

          There are some higher ed expat groups on FB and LI that you could look for that have a lot of good, very specific advice. The ones I am in were specifically related to student affairs expats, ‘Expats of Student Affairs’, I think is the name. I pivoted out of higher ed about 5 months ago and used a lot of the job postings and suggestions there.

          You might want to start looking into edtech, which is what I went into. Some of them provide 3rd party support to colleges and universities and they tend to have a good number of former higher ed folks. Even if the daily tasks aren’t the same, knowing how to navigate the bureaucracy of higher ed can be a real benefit in these instances.

          1. Little Beans*

            Yep, I bet you’d be a great fit for any of those tech companies that make the software colleges use to administer their financial aid. You’ve used the system so you already know the product and I bet they’d be much more likely to let you work remotely.

    2. Field Changer*

      I don’t have advice for your situation but wanted to ask your advice on something instead! I’m about 15 years into my career and am trying to change fields completely, and there’s a financial aid position open at a nearby university that I want to apply to (I wouldn’t have been able to go to college at all without financial aid so I think I’d enjoy helping students with it). Are there any particular skills or qualities that would make a candidate with no relevant experience stand out?

      1. Financial Aid Fellow*

        The industry is pretty desperate for people, a lot of vacancies so I think it’s a good time to try! You should download the job description and see what the job duties are. If you paste them in a comment, I’m happy to trouble shoot with you.

        For us, if I was looking for someone entry-level I would look for people who had customer service experience, as you need to be strong with that, you’ll be answering questions all day to students, organizations and staff. Do you have experience working with diverse groups of clients? People similar ages to the students? Are you able to breakdown complicated issues into a concise easy-to-understand explanation? Have you ever worked in anything financial, like at a bank, credit union, etc? Any project management experience?
        You should also look up the software that they require/hope applicants have experience in, and look to see if you have used similar software so you can show that you are comfortable with those systems and can learn quickly.
        They may need someone who can hit the ground running, so anyway that you can convince them that you’ll be making their job easier than harder is good.
        Good luck!!

    3. LegoGirl*

      A lot of big state schools are trying to be more competitive by offering mostly remote jobs – I’d look at public higher Ed in your state and see if you can find something that can be mostly remote. We have people on our team who are only in our office once a month.

      1. JelloStapler*

        yes I concur. Private Universities really promote an “in person experience” as their selling point so public Universities are the way to go for remote.

    4. higheredrefugee*

      I don’t know what the Finacial Aid Profesional org is (NAPSA is one for student affairs folks), but maybe they have jobs as trainers or on their job boards that can expand your search? Or look for postings at places that serve graduate/professional schools where the students are far more likely to email and do less walk in? I’m thinking standalone med/allied health schools, like the University of Nebraska Medical Center or Chicago School of Psychology. Or reach out to some Admissions consultants with any services you could offer to families, though that might be a longer-term goal. Or maybe you offer FinAid 101 that you charge consultants for that families attend as a way to gain their admissions support business. Again, likely longer term solution. If you know anything about PSLF, or willing to learn quickly, there is money to be made presenting that information to graduate/medical/law students, and probably money to be made in helping them develop their documentation.

  13. Get Me Out of Here*

    I haven’t posted in six months since I quit my toxic AF job without anything else lined up, primarily because my boss was a huge jerk and working for him was destroying my mental and physical health. Last week I got a call from a recruiter that sounded exactly like ToxicBoss’s job – so I texted a former coworker and she confirmed that today will be his last day! Coincidentally, it’s been six months since I gave notice, so I’m theorizing that he failed a management PIP – he had 200+% turnover in his three or four years there. After I quit, the coworker hired at the same time as me got fired, and that coworker I texted had moved departments to get away from him. I don’t know where he’s going and frankly I don’t really care (as long as it’s not where I am now, lol), I like the story I have in my head :)

    (Also, I checked my old company’s website, and his job was there, but they want more experience than I have so I’m not going to bother calling that recruiter back.)

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      Posting to agree that it is very satisfying when a bad boss gets fired/let go/removed, even if you no longer work for them. And enjoy that story in your head!

      1. Ellis Bell*

        This reminds me so much of when Toxic Ex GrandBoss and Toxic Ex Boss both got walked out together by security, according to sources. They were both unceremoniously canned about a year after I left.

        1. Dramamethis*

          This happened for me too shortly after I rejected a ridiculous counter-offer that I knew would never be fully received because toxic boss hated me. They thought I was stupid, I’m not stupid, LOL.

          So satisfying to hear they’d both been fired!

      2. Second Time, Long Time*

        Agreed! I noticed about 1.5 years ago on LinkedIn that my former super-toxic, power tripping, kiss up / kick down boss took what seemed to be a much lower level job at a much smaller firm. She knew her stuff when it came to the industry, but she was an atrocious “leader” and of course turnover was high. Interestingly, she came across as a good person and boss in her early days, but a few promotions later she became insufferable – I guess the power got to her head.

        Not sure if she was finally exposed and canned, or if she burned out, had earned enough money and decided to downshift. Either is satisfying in my mind – and if she did decide to downshift, maybe she didn’t like who she became in a senior management at a Fortune 100 company. She wasn’t always evil, but certainly was by the time I quit because of her. I could easily text some old work friends, but 10 years had passed between the time I quit and the time I saw the LinkedIn update and it had been so long since I caught up with some of those old friends (time tends to have that effect). But I am happy to see former evil boss hasn’t further climbed the ladder and that’s good enough :)

    2. Morgan Proctor*

      Hey, just chiming in to say that you should definitely call that recruiter back. Job descriptions are fairy tales. The words are nice, but they’re not rooted in fact. The recruiter contacted you because they think you’re qualified. Even if you’re pretty sure you’re not interested in the job itself, I’d follow up. It doesn’t hurt to know more.

      1. Get Me Out of Here*

        I did think about calling back, but the company site listing wants 15 years experience and I’m at… 6, almost 7, which in my career path is a significant disparity. There are quite a few areas of responsibility that I don’t have experience in at all – basically, it would be a 2-3 level jump from my current position. Also, I’ve only been at my current position for 4 months and I’m really enjoying it! I’m learning a ton, and working with nice people. (Plus this particular recruiting firm is SO pushy that I hate the idea of rewarding them with any iota of interest lol)

        1. Alex*

          Not wanting to move jobs is totally valid, but if you DID want to move, it would still be worth your time to call the recruiter back. As Morgan Proctor says, job listings are bogus much of the time and if you have experience with the company that could go a long way!

          But your other reasons are perfectly fine and you don’t need to leave a good thing.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Do YOU think you could do the job and enjoy it?
      If yes give them a call at least to discuss. Direct history in a department can mean a lot more than you realize.

    4. cncx*

      I love thé karma!
      I vote don’t contact thé recruiter tho. Like you mentioned upthread, it’s a skills jump and it could be that they’re scrounging for intel. When I rage quit a toxic job, the recruiters they hired to find my replacement tried to contact me to ping my network (no WAY would I let a network contact work there) or flesh out info about the position (nah hr needs to figure that out and write a proper job description and offload toxic boss and his flying monkeys).

  14. Unfettered scientist*

    Starting a new job that is a massive (almost 3x) salary bump and feeling a little nervous. I know they wanted me for the position and it wasn’t the only offer I received, but I’m still paranoid that I’ll show up and they’ll expect me to have skills I don’t have yet or what if I learn too slowly (this is in pharma if relevant). Any suggestions for combating this type of imposter syndrome? I usually help anxiety by getting information, but I don’t know anyone with this type of role and it’s specialized enough that I can’t really find accounts of it (or even accounts/articles/blogs of what it’s like to work for the company).

    1. Bess and George*

      Sometimes I re-read my own resume or descriptions of projects I’ve managed. “Wow, she sounds pretty impressive!”

    2. Ally*

      I find it helps if I tell myself hiring is their responsibility, and I just try and trust that they knew what they were doing when they chose me. It makes it a little less personal.

      And congrats on the new job!!

    3. Sherm*

      Just remember that no one knows everything, not even your boss’s boss, or whoever at the company seems the most confident. There is no shame in not having a particular skill, so just be open about it if it comes up. Ask all the questions you have, even if it is a “stupid” question. I remember as a new employee asking my boss what some not-very-important acronym stood for, and after she told me she said “I’m really glad you’re asking questions.” People will appreciate it.

    4. Ormond Sackler*

      I was in a similar situation early last year. I don’t have any good advice for the imposter syndrome since it caused me massive amounts of stress, but the good news is I turned out to be a great hire and I’m sure you will be as well. If the role is that specialized they probably don’t expect people to come in with that exact knowledge.

      I later found out that, like you, I didn’t have the exact knowledge they wanted for the role, it was also extremely hard to find anyone competent to fill it and were very happy to have found someone who was a good fit, even with the learning curve. As stressed as you are about starting the role, your hiring manager was probably equally stressed about filling it and is probably extremely happy and relieved to have you come onboard.

    5. Future Bureaucrat*

      Government workers! How much paid time off with holidays, vacation, and sick leave do you get? New Job in City Government offers 8 holidays, 60 flexible hours to use immediately, 100 hours for sick leave that can’t be used until after 3 months, and 78 hours of PTO which can’t be used until after 1 full year of public service. This is an affluent and progressive city. I was surprised by how limited the PTO is.

  15. A Little Bit Alexis*

    I work for an govtorganization that has pretty significant leadership problems. I could go on and on about the details but the thing it really all comes back to is lack of accountability— it’s govt so of course it’s next to impossible for anyone to be fired, and performance reviews don’t actually reflect one’s performance because supervisors don’t give anything other than “consistent performer” so PIPs don’t really happen either. Reports of poor performance have to constitute things like “gross misconduct” or the like— things that things like toxicity don’t really meet. As a result, bad leaders are promoted because there is no true record of their behavior or performance. Some additional context: broad climate reviews/360 degree surveys used to exist, in which supervisors would receive surveys about their performance from people above them, their peers, and their subordinates. These were done away with several years ago.

    Current executive management seems to understand there is a leadership issue but the problem is the organizational psychologist “expert” they’ve hired is off her rocker. According to her, feedback from subordinates is “meaningless” and just “distorts the truth” because people can “weaponize” these surveys against valid leaders. To her, it’s more effective to rehabilitate and train bad leaders rather than remove them. Her philosophy has affected executive management, who now only want to focus on development and training of leadership, and find no value in querying the employees of the organization on either morale or opinion of supervisors’ performance. Let alone removing/demoting toxic leaders.

    The various employee committees (of which I am a part) are working with executive management on the leadership problem, but we need hard data to combat this organizational psychologist’s “science.” I’ve looked online for peer reviewed studies that underscore the important if employee feedback on leadership and supervisor performance, but would love to hear from the commentariat on other data we can cite regarding the importance of incorporating this. FWIW, the Army came in and gave a presentation on the importance of 360 degree reviews (which they use), and an outside firm that was contracted to assist in the leadership problem also emphasized it, but this organizational psychologist seems to have some kind of stranglehold in getting exec mngmt to listen to her instead of them. We feel we need to more directly counter her science in order to make any headway.

    Does anyone have any thoughts?

    1. Hey anony anony*

      Your leadership sucks and isn’t going to change in a positive way.

      I’m in a similar boat – in a gov’t agency, upper leadership and multiple important units have dropped Atlas Stone-sized balls.

      Any of the changes you want have to come from the top, and will require some political and financial capital to be spent. Given how much likely got torched for the “expert,” they’re probably not going to spend more any time soon.

    2. Social psych PhD*

      There’s a lot of science that suggests that subordinate feedback is critical to both improving leaders and to fostering positive climate/combatting employee burnout:
      Benefits to leaders:
      Organizational climate:
      Organizational citizenship behavior [think of “good citizen” awards from school– stuff like “do you refill the copier” vs “do you take home boxes of pens”]:

      You might also see if the Society for Industrial & Organizational Psychology (SIOP) has any general-public posts on this– they are the definitive professional/scholarly society for this field

  16. Robert Smith's Hair*

    Seeking reassurance – this is my 13th year at my company. Started as a manager and am now senior director, of a portfolio I didn’t think I’d really oversee but here we are. For the last 3-4ish years I’ve been thinking they’ve treated me with kid gloves, like I wasn’t deserving enough to be at the adult table. Well I’m there now! And it’s hard. A lot harder than I thought it would be. I have multiple staff and I feel like I’m being asked questions all the time and I want to be available but OMG I am also overwhelmed. Is this normal? Any tips?

    1. New Mom*

      Fellow Senior Director here! I’m managing a team, but since we’re so understaffed I’m also on the ground doing the work in addition to many meetings, and I totally feel the overwhelm. I’m still bitter about being forced to take over supervision of a totally different department because now I have another weekly meeting to attend, and what feels like endless questions.
      What has helped a bit is blocking off time on my calendar where no one can book time with me, so that I can stay on top of my own tasks. I also try to set boundaries with employees.

      If your direct reports are expecting you to answer questions immediately, make it clear that you answer all daily questions at 2pm. This will let them know that they’ll get a response from you daily, but hopefully control the expectation that you’ll be available at the drop of a hat.

      One of my employees prefers to check in over the phone/in-person vs. email but he’s very long-winded and provides details that feel way too in the weeds, when I just need a general overview. I’m still trying to figure out how to gently stop him when he’s sucking up too much of my limited time.

    2. English Rose*

      Yes it’s normal. Although that may not help!
      Don’t feel you have to be available all the time, it’s not tenable long-term. How you deal with that slightly depends on the physical layout of your building but I found it really helpful to block out times when my team knew in advance I was not going to be available. If it’s open plan use headphones, or literally book time to spend by yourself in a meeting room.
      Try and make it regular, so the little bird beaks squawking at you to feed them know they won’t starve before you’re available again. And let them know if it’s really urgent they should interrupt. (You get to define the sort of thing that’s really urgent.)
      Do you have a mentor, perhaps outside the company? That can help. The best advice mine gave me was you don’t have to have all the answers. The magic phrase “What do you recommend we should do” can be really helpful.
      And keep breathing!

      1. English Rose*

        I just had another thought which has also worked well for me generally. Try not to tell yourself you’re ‘overwhelmed’. Watch your self-talk about this. If you move away from language like “I have to…” (do a great job, meet with Joe, put Mary on a PIP for the good of the team) if feels like a never-ending list. Changing the phrase to “I want to…” the list doesn’t seem so insurmountable.

      2. Goose*

        My grandboss has a policy of not coming to her with problems until we’ve tests solutions ourselves–as a report, I find it super helpful!

    3. Chauncy Gardener*

      C-suite exec here. In addition to the great suggestions above, I would also advise having regular one-on-ones scheduled with each of your direct reports. These can be weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. I tend to start with weekly and then taper off if it seems appropriate. You can always stop them early if you run out of things to discuss. These are great because your reports will save their questions to be able to ask you in person (and if they don’t, ask them to! Unless time is of the essence) and it will take the edge off of everyone on your team because they know they’ll have your undivided attention for this time period. You can use these to get status updates, give timely constructive feedback, delegate, train, etc.

      I also like to have regular team meetings with all direct reports, if that makes sense for what you are doing. If your team doesn’t need to coordinate much with each other or know what the other folks are doing, then these can be very infrequent.

      Ask your team to use descriptive subject lines in their emails so you can tell if it requires an immediate response

      Schedule three times per day when you’ll answer emails and return phone calls, morning, mid day, end of day. Close your door or don’t answer the phone/email/slack for periods and block off your calendar when you need to concentrate

      Good luck!!

  17. Pharmgirl*

    What’s the best wording to tell a new employee that he’s taking too many breaks?

    I’m a new manager (< 1 month, but in my previous role at the company for 5 years). The employee in question is new and on his second week; he was interviewed and hired before I got this role. The end of his first week, and beginning of his second, I was on PTO. I came back to my coworkers complaining that he was taking excessive breaks – like 5-6 breaks around 15-20 min on top of his lunch break (which he seems to be take 45-50 min).

    Our state allows a 30 min unpaid break and 2 x 15 min paid breaks. We are not very strict about the 15's – we don't schedule them, and we're not overly concerned with anyone needing to step away for a coffee break/bathroom/quick phone call etc. No one takes excessive breaks and we've never felt the need to track them.

    Do I just say that I've noticed him taking excessive breaks and to stick to 2×15? (Sorry if this seems obvious, but I'm just nervous in this new role and don't want to say the wrong thing!) If there's a better way to bring it up please let know.

    1. Sunflower*

      Is your employee in a coverage based role where coworkers need to cover if he is on a break?

    2. Unfettered scientist*

      Have you ever observed this yourself? If possible, I would try to observe the pattern others are reporting to you and then go to the employee with the observation that you’ve made and ask them what’s happening (in case extenuating circumstances?) and then remind the general policy of breaks and ask if they can change to do that.

      1. Pharmgirl*

        Yes, I did observe this yesterday so I need to address it. Forgot to mention my boss has also noticed and wants me to address it as well. I will definitely ask if there’s anything going on – as I mentioned we’re not super strict and I don’t want to be micromanagery but also we need him to be working.

        1. Some words*

          Thank you for verifying this yourself before speaking with the employee. It’s an easy/tempting step to skip.

          It’s not micromanaging to ask an employee to adhere to the standard workplace policies. londonedit’s wording sounds pretty good. Clear expectations and no opening for excuses.

        2. Artemesia*

          They key is to move quickly; he has already established a norm of not being reliable. You need to tell him that he has a 30 minute lunch break and two 15 minute breaks during his shift and that is what is expected. You can note that you have been relaxed about someone needing to take a quick bathroom break outside this norm now and then but multiple 15-20 minute breaks are an abuse of that flexibility; because coverage is important, it is putting a burden on his co-workers when he is not reliably doing his job.

          This needs to be pretty blunt. And if he does not become more reliable it should be grounds for dismissal. If a medical condition is involved, it is on him to establish that and negotiate around it.

    3. londonedit*

      Yeah, I think you do just need to spell it out to him clearly. You could say something like ‘I wanted to go over the policy on break times with you, in case there’s been a misunderstanding. You’re entitled to one 30-minute break per day, plus two 15-minute breaks. We really do need all employees to stick to those breaks – I don’t mind when you take them during the day, but you do need to stick to just one break of 30 minutes plus two of 15’.

      1. Pharmgirl*

        Thanks, I think the introduction was what I was struggling with so I like how you’ve phrased this.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        I think this is excellent. It’s not confrontational, it’s clear and unambiguous, and it allows for this likely being a misunderstanding. The only thing I’d add is a chance to tell you if something is going on, like a need to take phone calls or something.

    4. MsM*

      Are his coworkers complaining because he’s not getting his work done, or because he’s not around when they need him, or getting in the way of them being able to step away? Whatever it is, I feel like that’s the thing you need to address more than the timing/frequency of the breaks.

      1. Pharmgirl*

        It’s not his coworkers (not yet anyway) but mine – he’s a pharmacy tech, and they are pharmacists noticing that he’s not in the pharmacy. We are short staffed as it is – this is a mail order pharmacy, and if we don’t get medications filled, packed, and on the UPS truck before it leaves, we run a real risk of not getting patients their time sensitive medication. So when he’s taking excessive breaks, work isn’t getting done.

        1. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

          That right there is an excellent script. You need X done; he’s not in the pharmacy, doing it. He’s not, and it’s been noticed. That might be all the kick he needs.

        2. I have RBF*

          You need to pointedly remind him of the break policy, Not the whole team, just him. Don’t bother to imply flexibility – because for him there isn’t any since he abused it.

          First warning should be verbal, but noted in his file. Second warning should be written, with him signing that he understands. Third? Either PIP or out, depending on your company policy. If he’s still in his probationary period you may just have to can him after the second strike.

          Review your company’s HR manual or ask HR what their process is for dealing with under-performing employees. If he’s abusing break time, he’s under-performing in a coverage based environment.

      2. Lana Kane*

        The timing and frequency are important to address in their own right. Taking more than the allotted breaks. How it impacts others is one thing, but this is a lot of time away from the duties he’s being paid to do.

    5. DisneyChannelThis*

      6 20min breaks in a day is 2hrs, plus a 45min lunch, so 3 hrs out of 8 he is not working? Obviously you need to observe for yourself but I would be eagle eyed now that you are back. That’s over a third of the workday wasted. The easiest way to address would be if he’s not meeting performance goals. I’d open a conversation with him asking if he finds he needs more tasks as its been noticed he has a lot more downtime than he should….

      1. Pharmgirl*

        I did observe this yesterday, so now just figuring out the best way to bring it up. He’s definitely not running out of tasks – his role involves working out of a queue, and with the shift he works it’s rare for that queue that be empty before he leaves.

        1. Artemesia*

          I don’t understand the hesitation. This is someone you need to be bluntly clear with not ‘careful’ and ‘tactful.’ And don’t imply any flexibility at all because he abuses flexibility. You are the boss; you bring it up.

    6. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      He’s only in his 2nd week and he’s already doing this?! (the suggested conversations to allow for a ‘misunderstanding’ are a tactful way in, but also I am pretty confident there’s no misunderstanding here, he’s just slacking — and quite insultingly thinking that you won’t notice!)

      Did your boss interview and hire him and now wants you to deal with him? – this tells me that the boss knows they made a mistake with this hire. Take it with an open mind but I don’t think he (employee, not the boss) will last long in this position.

  18. T. Wanderer*

    What is a normal amount of PTO for a full-time salaried position?

    For context, my team is currently being transitioned from one company to another. Company A offers a total of ~25-28 days PTO, including vacation, sick time, and a few floating holidays. Company B’s initial offer was 15 days TOTAL, with no differentiation between vacation/sick leave.

    Obviously the entire team is Not Happy about the 2-week drop and we’re negotiating as a group, but I’d love a sense of where this falls in terms of norms!

    1. Decidedly Me*

      My company gives 20 days PTO, 10 sick days, 10 holidays, and your birthday off. I’m told our parent company gives less, but I’m not sure of the specifics.

        1. Former Gremlin Herder*

          I remember this letter!!!!! Such a wild ride. (Assuming you’re also thinking of the time Allison had to tell someone that yes, someone whose birthday falls on Feb 29 doesn’t only get their birthday PTO once every four years.)

          1. londonedit*

            And then the boss basically doubled down and said no, you just don’t understand, the thing is this person only has a birthday on a leap year so why should we give her a day off the rest of the time!

    2. anonfor this*

      I’ve been at two companies. First was 3 weeks vacation for first year, 4 weeks for second + 12 sick + 12 federal holidays + a week between christmas and new years + 4 personal days

      Current company is 3 weeks + 1 personal day + 12 sick + 12 federal holidays + 4 days between christmas and new years

    3. Angstrom*

      Our company offers 10 holiday days, 5 sick days, personal PTO starts at 10 days and increases by 5 days every 5 years of employment.

    4. ThatGirl*

      I’ve seen it all over the place – worst was 10 days total of sick time and PTO. Currently I have 15 days of vacation time, 3 personal days and unlimited sick time. I think that’s decent. 15 days total is stingy.

    5. Ms. Haru*

      Obviously this is location-dependent, but assuming you’re in the US, the range you have stated there is within normal. I have worked for a small business that gave us around ~35 days off total, and I’ve worked for a large, public company where I got a total of ~20 days. Most of the time it falls somewhere in the middle. Usually 10-15 days PTO, 3-5 sick leave, plus ~10 public holidays.

      At this point in my life though, I would only consider staying at a company with 15 days off for only a year or two. Life is too short.

    6. ecnaseener*

      I work for a hospital, so they’re not terribly generous, and up until recently they started you at 20 days PTO + 9 holidays. They’re now switching to 23 days PTO + 7 holidays for that baseline.

    7. SnowyRose*

      We start at 3 weeks annual leave (increases to 4 weeks at 3 years and 5 weeks at 15 years), 10 federal holidays, and sick leave accrues at the equivalent of 10 days a year. 200 hours of annual leave can be rolled over each year on top of what you earn annually, and there’s no cap on sick leave, so sick leaves accumulates on an unlimited basis.

    8. Gracely*

      15 days total is ridiculous. Especially if you had about twice that beforehand. I would see if they could at least meet you in the middle with 21 days. And see if you can’t get some kind of raise or some flexibility to compensate for that loss of PTO.

      At the very least, you should get to keep whatever vacation/sick leave is already accrued.

      1. T. Wanderer*

        We’re shooting for either 20 days (preferred) or a salary increase commensurate with an additional pay period — should hear back today, fingers crossed.

        Unfortunately since it IS a company-switch we can’t keep vacation/sick, and I’m not in a PTO-payout state. Extra April/May vacation, here I come…?

    9. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I get 36 days of PTO, which is a one-bucket that includes sick, vacation, and holidays (which I can take on the official holiday without needing approval, or I can work on the holiday and save the PTO for another time with my boss’s okay).

    10. Sheila*

      I currently get 28 days of PTO (sick or vacation, but my boss is suuuuper lenient about expecting me to use PTO for anything except bona fide vacation or days I’m so sick I can’t work at all.) my company has 11 paid holidays. My PTO is high because I’m really long-tenured but only new hires without any experience would get 15 days here. Average is 20.

    11. WittyNickname*

      My company has unlimited PTO, but general guidance is about 3 weeks per year for vacation and sick time. On top of that, we get 11 paid holidays and 2 weeks per year where we shut down completely (each of those weeks has a paid holiday in it, so a total of 8 shut down days).

    12. Spicy Meatball*

      Depends on the industry, but typical for my employers is 3 weeks vacation to start, plus 2-3 personal days, 5-10 days sick time, 2-3 floating holidays. In addition, there may be a weeklong paid shutdown at the end of the year.

      Going from 25-28 PTO to 15 days total is complete BS. I had one employer early 2000s that had combined 15 days vacation/sick to start with a bump up to 25 days after 3 years. At the time the 15 days total was pretty standard, but absolutely not so anymore. Check different job sites (Glassdoor, Indeed, etc) and websites for other companies in your industry and position to try to get a sense of what is usual.

      1. T. Wanderer*

        9 — which is 1 up from previous company (but previous company also had 3 floating holidays!).

    13. Overeducated*

      You can probably find statistics on averages but it might be hard to sort out comparable jobs (e.g. you don’t really want part time retail type jobs that offer the absolute legal minimum of PTO to be part of your sample).

      My very large employer gives 13-26 days vacation time depending on tenure (I’m in the 20 days category), up to 13 days sick time (but we have no short time disability so it’s encouraged to let it build up over the years), and federal holidays. In my small sample of friends in white collar jobs, this seems average and lower than some.

    14. Little Beans*

      We have a scale that increases based on seniority. New hires start at around 1 day per month each of sick leave and vacation leave, plus we also get all federal and state holidays off. So yeah, 15 total sounds pretty low to me.

    15. Alex*

      15 days total is a little stingy. I’ve worked for three different organizations full time and all were fairly generous with PTO.

      Job 1, 3 weeks’ vacation per year (so, 15 days), bumped up to 4 weeks after the first year. 9 sick days. 3 personal days. 14 paid holidays.

      Job 2. 4 weeks’ vacation per year, bumped up to 5 weeks after 10 years. Unlimited sick time. 15 paid holidays.

      Job 3. 3 weeks’ vacation per year, bumped up to 4 weeks after 3 years. 12 sick days. 3 personal days. 12 paid holidays plus closure the week between Christmas and New Years.

    16. T. Wanderer*

      Update: we negotiation up to a choice of 15 PTO days + 15% yearly bonus or 20 days + 10% yearly bonus, and I am ABSOLUTELY taking the 20. Thanks all!

    17. Katrine Fonsmark*

      My company gives 10 holidays (occasionally there’s an extra one thrown in as a surprise). We get 24 days of PTO (vacation/sick/personal) to start, with one extra day added each year to a max of 30, so I’m currently at 27 days. They also have an AMAZING sick time benefit that kicks in on day one of an extended sick leave and pays 100% of your salary during that time and through any short-term disability leave. If you use the extended sick leave benefit it does not count against your PTO.

    18. JellpStapler*

      That’s awful.

      Ours is 15 days until 2 years service then 20 days, but does not include sick time or holidays (of which there are a lot).

    19. Llama Llama*

      I have been with two companies. First company gave 20 days PTO + 7 holidays. Current is 27 days PTO plus 7 holidays + full sick leave if it’s for any extended time.

      I honestly struggle to take all my 27 days in a year but would find it unacceptable if they ever tried to take it away if we were ever acquired.

    20. 653-CXK*

      At my current job, it’s 20 days of PTO for being there 0-4 years, 25 days for 5-9 years, 30 days for 10-14 years, and 35 days for 15 years and beyond. We also get major holidays (MLK Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, Juneteenth, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veteran’s Day, Christmas and New Years) off without affecting PTO.

      At ExJob, we earned 10-13 hours of earned time per pay period, depending on length of service, but the ET was deducted for each of the holidays (i.e. we didn’t get it free).

  19. Unfettered scientist*

    First post appears to have disappeared so I will post again. I’m starting a new job and even though I know there’s a reason I was offered the position and even though it wasn’t the only offer I received, it’s a big step up (with almost 3x salary!) and it’s hard not to feel some imposter syndrome. What if I can’t learn fast enough? What if they expect me to have skills I don’t have? It’s pharma if relevant. I normally combat anxiety like this with information, but I don’t know anyone in this type of role and it’s specialized enough that there aren’t blogs/articles about what it’s like when starting or even what it’s like to work for this particular company. Any advice for dealing with this?

    1. Onward*

      I feel you. I think I’d probably feel the same way in your position but, remember: they hired you for a reason. You know what you’re doing and the fact that you’re worrying about this means you’re going to try your hardest. That’s all you can do. Just try your hardest, and give yourself some room to learn. Growth mindset!

      You’re going to do great.

  20. Dovasary Balitang*

    Would you take a job where you’re not allowed to wear jeans in the office? Why or why not?

    1. Have you tried caffeine*

      I would absolutely not, but I also work in a field where I spend a lot of time working with dusty documents and crawling on the floor, so….it’s unlikely I’d be applying to those kind of jobs anyway!

      Also, love your username! I haven’t thought of that series in years, and seeing it made me smile so hard.

    2. londonedit*

      I don’t think it would be an absolute dealbreaker for me. But it would give me pause for thought about the company culture in general and how restrictive and/or conservative it might be. I’m in an industry that’s very business-casual (on the casual end, in fact) and jeans have been absolutely fine in every job I’ve had. I’m not wedded to wearing jeans (in fact, since Covid I actually make an effort to wear a smart/casual dress when I go to the office, because I have loads of dresses that I love languishing in my wardrobe) but I would be reluctant to give up a more casual dress code. I do not want to work for a company that wants to make me wear a business suit or that’s otherwise going to police what I’m wearing as long as it’s smart enough and office-appropriate.

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      The first 8 years of my career was suits every day. Didn’t bother me at all.

      If I was going to go back to that, I’d have restock my closet, so I’d take a hard look at that investment. But just business casual slacks & shirt, no jeans, I could do easily.

    4. Former Gremlin Herder*

      I would. I worked with young kids in a workplace that didn’t allow jeans for years and it was fine. It might make me look at the company as a whole and wonder how conservative/rigid their culture is, but in a lot of fields that wouldn’t strike me as odd.

    5. DisneyChannelThis*

      I would. My current place allows it but almost no one does. Jeans just read too casual for what we do.

    6. WantonSeedStitch*

      Most of my jobs have previously been in business casual environments, where we might be able to wear jeans on Fridays, but not on other days. I believe that lately, things have changed since the pandemic such that being in the office in jeans on other days probably would be fine. I don’t have a big problem with it, partly because I really enjoy wearing dresses and skirts. I have proportionally big thighs, and stretchy dresses and skirts are a lot easier to buy with a good fit than any pants or jeans!

    7. Ms. Haru*

      For me, it’s more about why jeans aren’t allowed. Is it because the job is public-facing, and having a certain appearance is really valued by clients? Sure, I get that. But if I can’t wear jeans just because the big boss has a complex about jeans looking lazy/sloppy… then it’s a different story.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        That’s a good point. Is it the tip of the iceberg of policies that are strict for the sake of being strict?

        If it was limited to just “no jeans” and everything else was fine, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. I’m like the previous commenter who dresses up a little now because I go into the office so rarely and my nice work clothes just gather dust otherwise.

      2. There You Are*

        That’s my current company. I work in the corporate office and literally none of us sees customers or investors. Yet we’re still expected to dress like we would if we were meeting the CEO of our most important customer.

        Except on Fridays.

        Because, apparently, that’s a magical day of the week where we can still be competent professionals even though we’re wearing — gasp! — jeans.

        But the magic goes away Mon-Thur. If we wear jeans on any of those four days, then suddenly we’re lazy ne’er-do-wells who are playing video games and streaming movies instead of cranking through our [heavy, deadlined, highly visible, you’d-know-in-a-matter-of-hours-if-we-were-goofing-off] workloads.

        And, FFS, we’re a manufacturing company, not Wall Street finance.

    8. Minimal Pear*

      I would! In fact, one of my previous jobs didn’t allow blue jeans except on Fridays. (Other colors of jeans, if they were in good shape, were fine throughout the week.) I don’t really like jeans that much (wearing linen trousers today, for example) so I wouldn’t mind them being banned.
      The question for me would be whether “no jeans” really just means “no jeans” or if it means the environment is otherwise restrictive/overly rigid, or if the dress code is more formal than what my current closet can handle.

    9. 1234ShutTheDoor*

      I don’t even wear jeans that often, but I would consider it a yellow flag. I have a hard time following “pointless social rules,” and judging people’s professional competency based on what they’re wearing is one of those. If that was the only yellow flag, it’s not a deal breaker, but pointless social rules tend to appear in packs.

      Admittedly, my company has a much stricter dress code on the books than is actually worn, and I don’t believe the dress code has ever actually been enforced, judging by the hoodies, jeans, and unkempt hair. But I do work in computers, so…

      1. allathian*

        Yes, this. I don’t enjoy clothes, and I’ve never been interested in fashion, except for a while in my teens when I got my first summer job pretty much solely to be able to afford Levi’s… My parents told me that they’ll happily pay for a cheaper brand, but if I wanted those, I needed to get a job.

        I work for a governmental agency in an IC role and never see any customers. I’ll dress up a bit for conferences, but not to go to the office.

        I get it that some people gain confidence when they feel they look their best. I’m not one of them, though. I work best when I’m physically as comfortable as possible, and I find stretch jeans comfortable to wear.

    10. Charlotte Lucas*

      For me, it really depends on the job. That would mean what I were doing & the pay.

      I currently work somewhere with a “dress appropriately for your role” dress code. When I’m in the office, I often wear dresses, but I wear jeans when I want. If they told me I couldn’t, it wouldn’t bother me, but I work in a clean environment with little physical labor, & I am paid enough to buy business casual clothing.

    11. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      That in and of itself wouldn’t be a dealbreaker, but WHY jeans weren’t allowed might be. If I never see anyone external, and the nearest patients are in another building, I’d side-eye a no-jeans rule as being overly performative. (My current workplace allows denim if you are not patient-facing, but you have to take off your name badge in patient areas if you have denim on.)

    12. Bird Lady*

      I used to work in museums, and many have a “no denim” policy. It made sense to an extent; most of us had public or donor facing positions. It felt odd to ask someone for a large gift in a pair of jeans. Towards the end of my tenure, denim become more accepted on days where physical labor was required, such as setting up for large events. I had the capital to say I was not working in a kitchen in dry-clean only suits, and that I would change into more professional or formal attire for events.

      Similarly, my husband works for a law firm. They have been slow to adopt a dress for the day you have policy. Most of his colleagues wear suits because that is conventional attire to show up to court in. If they do happen to wear jeans, they often bring a suit in case they are called to a client event or to the courtroom.

      So for the TLDR version, I suppose it depends on the field of work and what is considered normal.

    13. Spicy Meatball*

      I’m more than 20 years into my career, and was unable to wear jeans to the office most of that. Would not phase me, although after WFH the last 3 years, I would have to go out an buy a totally new wardrobe. None of my pre-pandemic hard pants fit, and I’ve only purchased new jeans since.

    14. Lana Kane*

      Yes, because I feel that there are way more important things to prioritize – pay, benefits, commute, etc. Now if I had 2 identical offers except for the jeans issue, maybe that could be a tie breaker. This is assuming that this is a job that’s not physical/wouldn’t put wear and tear on your clothes.

    15. EMP*

      I’m in software so any job that had that kind of dress code would be WILDLY out of touch with industry norms and not one I’m interested in.

    16. Lalaith*

      Heh. I’m in tech, so… no. I’d be fine with dressing up a notch to meet with clients, but for my day-to-day I want to be relaxed.

      The saying “dress for the job you want” probably means the opposite to me of how it’s intended…

    17. Danish*

      would depend on the reason. If there’s a real business reason that jeans aren’t allowed and I knew that when applying, then sure.

      if it’s just a desk jockey job with no bigwigs or clients but they just think that wearing jeans makes you less productive or Because The Boss Said So? Nah, no, get out of here.

    18. RagingADHD*

      Yes, because I have never worked in an office where jeans were the norm. A few where they were acceptable on Fridays, but that’s it. I know they are very mainstream now, but they still don’t clock in my head as “work wear.”

      Unless people are using it as proxy for other aspects of culture that matter to them, I think it would be incredibly foolish and short sighted to turn down an otherwise good, well-paying job because you don’t want to wear different pants.

    19. Some words*

      Yes. I’ve mostly worked office jobs so business casual was the standard attire until just a few years ago. It’s fine.

    20. Jenna Webster*

      Sure, there are plenty of comfortable pants out there. I wouldn’t let that keep me from a great job.

    21. RussianInTexas*

      Yes, that would not be a deal breaker for me. I never had an office job in which I could wear jeans except on Fridays.
      Not something I would care about.
      If a job required suits – yes, that would be something to think about.

    22. Jaydee*

      When I first started this job, which allows jeans on Fridays, I didn’t even own jeans because my previous job was suits/high end of business casual. I now do own jeans – and am wearing them at work as it is a Friday – but would have no problem with a job that didn’t allow them because my work wardrobe is still mostly more business than casual.

    23. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Probably, depending on the rest of the dress code. If it’s just “no jeans” but other pants are OK, that’s not a deal-breaker.

      “No jeans, and women have to wear skirts or dresses” would be a deal-breaker, even if the dress code didn’t also require makeup, or “nice” shoes that don’t exist in my size.

      1. I take tea*

        I thought the same, I don’t need to wear jeans, but I would probably not take a job that require me to wear a skirt and definitely not if I would need to wear high heels.

    24. Shopgirl*

      It would be a dealbreaker for me but I like a really casual environment. It would be a sign for me I wouldn’t like the overall environment.

    25. HBJ*

      I would and have within the last ten years. Why? Because it’s really not a big deal to wear non-jeans pants or skirts.

    26. darlingpants*

      Pre-pandemic I would have, but at this point I’m used to my comfy clothes and I would refuse.

      Unless the job was super amazing in other ways, but I do think it’s a sign that the culture is really strict or formal, and I’m not interested in either of those.

  21. Irish Eyes*

    Today’s holiday made me think of something that happened years ago and I thought I would tell you all a work and Irish related story about how my dad got unceremoniously fired from a volunteer position because of me. I am still mad about this on his behalf even after so long.
    At the time this happened my proud Irish dad had been volunteering for a large local Irish festival for decades. He had risen in the volunteer ranks to be one of the nighttime bar tent supervisors. Not an easy job- especially unpaid. My boyfriend and I decided to go to the festival and to stop and say hi to him while he was working. It’s important context here to know that 1) my boyfriend (now husband) is a couple years older than me and 2) he had met my dad numerous times. When I told him we were going to stop by he made a big deal about how he couldn’t give us free beer just because we were family. And that even if he wanted to, the organizers of the festival watch the bar like hawks and he would get in trouble. Just to illustrate how seriously he took it and what the environment was like.
    Anyway, we get there and go to his bar and buy a couple of beers, chatted for a few minutes, then walked away to go enjoy the rest of the festivities. About 15 minutes later my dad calls me. He tells me that he is no longer there because management has escorted him off the property. Why? He sold beer to two people that were (or appeared to be) underage. It was me. His daughter. I was just about to turn 25.
    I KNOW that rules are super important to follow, particularly when alcohol is involved. But I also understand how it would never have occurred to him to card us. (He is very aware of when I was born!) Also- if they saw this happen- we hung out for a few minutes and they could have approached us and asked to see our IDs, but they waited until we were gone. Also, when he tried to defend himself and say it was his daughter and she was over 21, and asked if he could call me to clear it all up, they wouldn’t allow it and said “well you could claim anyone was your daughter”. They lost a good and loyal volunteer that day.

    Is my judgement off because I am too close to it? Maybe they did the right thing? If you were a manager what would you have done in that situation?

    1. Robert Smith's Hair*

      No, the people who made the call about your dad are dicks. Unless he is supposed to card EVERY SINGLE PERSON. Is it possible someone didn’t like him b/c they were jealous or something?

      1. Christmas Carol*

        At the Irish Festival I volunteer at, the people at the gate check IDs and wrist band everybody, even the volunteers, with either an Over21 or an Under21 bracelet as part of the entry. Our mantra is: I don’t care if it’s your own mother, unless you see an ID, she gets an Under21. Slainte.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          There’s a large festival location in my state, & they use a wristband/ticket system. If you don’t want to imbibe, no problem. If you do, there are kiosks to get the wristband & buy your tickets. Bartenders don’t take cash or serve without seeing a wristband.

        2. Clisby*

          That’s what I’m used to – not specifically at an Irish festival, but at any large festival. The ID check is done up front and you get a wristband saying whether you can have alcohol. I agree that it’s unreasonable to have individual vendors checking ID – but there’s nothing at all unreasonable about having someone check, and it seems odd to me that wouldn’t be happening.

      2. Charlotte Lucas*

        Love the user name!

        They should have either made clear you have to card everyone, even people you know well & family, or let him prove you all were who you said you were!

        They were being jerks.

        1. Christmas Carol*

          We also require that all our Bartenders take a Techniques of Alcohol Management class.

      3. RagingADHD*

        Are you in the US? Do you buy alcohol at stores, restaurants or bars?

        Yes, everyone who appears like they could be under 21 – and in many places, they extend that to “might be under 30” or even “might be under 40” is supposed to get carded. That’s how carding works. I had gray hair the last time I got carded for a bottle of wine at the grocery store.

        It’s normal.

        1. Maple Bar*

          It’s super not. I have bartended / worked the door checking IDs quite a lot in an extremely strict state where the law is that everyone has to have an ID on them for the bar to be compliant for their liquor license. So a lot of bars make it so that everyone gets their IDs checked just to show they have it on them, and even if we know for sure a person is old enough, because them being of legal drinking age is only part of the deal. The enforcement agency even does sting operations of bars to try to catch them not following strict ID rules.

          And still, no one ever ever gets fired, let alone marched out on the spot, at any normal bar for not checking an ID for someone they know is not underage. Never even heard of it.

    2. Onward*

      That’s awful and totally not your fault at all! I totally get why you would have felt terrible for your poor dad and probably guilty about what happened, but you didn’t do anything to cause that situation at all. Those people are jerks.

    3. I have RBF*

      Also, when he tried to defend himself and say it was his daughter and she was over 21, and asked if he could call me to clear it all up, they wouldn’t allow it and said “well you could claim anyone was your daughter”.

      Why would they think someone would do that? Especially a long term volunteer?

      IMO, they were looking for someone working bar to screw over so they could “prove” how strict they were about alcohol. They are jerks.

    4. RagingADHD*

      Sorry, you do not mess around with a liquor license. You either card every single person who appears to be under 35-40, just like they do at a restaurant or store, or you don’t work there. It isn’t a matter of the organizers themselves verifying that you were legal. They have to worry about getting busted by law enforcement. And even if they cleared it up, that’s going to be a huge problem / disruption for the festival.

      The wristband system described by others would be better than requiring bartenders to do it on the fly. But nevertheless, procedures are there for a reason.

      I understand that your dad didn’t actually serve an underage person, but the organizers were entirely correct, because they had far too much at stake. His volunteering was not good if it was creating risk for the organization. It was not someone else’s job to stop you and card you. It was his job, and he didn’t do it.

    5. There You Are*

      I understand the “Card everyone” rule, but the person who said, “Well, you could claim anyone was your daughter,” is a dick.

      They COULD HAVE had your dad call you and hand the phone to them. If you hadn’t answered, “Hi, Dad!”, they could say, “Do you know [dad’s name]? Is he any relation to you?” They could have said they were auditing beer sales and asked you to come back to the bar or asked you to describe what you and Boyfriend were wearing, to confirm that the person your dad called was the same person who had been at the bar.

      Hell, they could have just said to your dad, “I’m sorry, but this is a one-strike offense. If you fail to card one single person, we have to let you go. It’s state law.”

      There are a million ways to handle it besides insinuating that your dad is a liar.

      1. Maple Bar*

        Absolutely, because here’s the key: They saw it happening, but did not make any move to go and check her ID, and waited for her to be gone to say anything. If they were actually worried about their liquor license, they would not have let her leave with a beer! That’s the giveaway right there. The only way for them to compliantly “fix” the issue would be to go check her ID, and no one even attempted to do that.

        So then when they talk to dad and dad says he knows her age because she’s his daughter, and they go “nuh-uh you LIAR, get out of here IMMEDIATELY” and march him out on the spot, a thing that is also almost certainly not a requirement for their liquor license, the picture that comes together is that someone just wanted to get rid of dad. None of it makes sense any other way. Maybe it wasn’t a personal beef against dad specifically but just someone who just loves nothing more than petty punitive power, but what it’s absolutely not is an effort to comply with liquor laws.

    6. Ellis Bell*

      It’s poor management overall. I can see a situation where they would want strict adherence to the Challenge 25 ID checks, because if it had been the authorities watching, they would have issued fines to the festival organisers no matter what the reason was. So that’s what you inform your bar supervisors to do AHEAD OF TIME. Something like: “As this is a local festival, you’re going to know the age of some of your customers! We need you doing full ID checks doing even if you personally attended their birth!” By not doing that, they set your dad up to fail, because it’s not intuitive common sense, it’s policy based on experience. It was particularly low that they made out like he was bunging alco pops to 14 year olds and then trying to cover up the fact by lying about being related. It may have been that he was not doing the job the way they wanted, but he wasn’t doing anything immoral or shady and it was their failure, not his.

    7. 1LFTW*

      If your father wasn’t told he’d be fired for failing to card people, it was absolutely a dick move. I feel like there should have been room for him to track you down and show your ID to the event organizers.

      It’s true that their liquor license could have been in jeopardy for your dad’s failure to card you, but if that was the case, it’s an important enough matter that they should have informed him first!

  22. Rey*

    My company has a weeklong retreat in a few months and I’m trying to weigh whether or not to attend. The last retreat was very productive for team building and planning since our entire company is remote. But I will just be returning from maternity leave one month before it’s scheduled, so my baby will be about four months old. My supervisor has told me that it’s completely optional, and I know enough to know that’s true. I’m also comfortable with the logistics of pumping etc. if I decide to attend. Has anyone tackled this? Did you decide to attend or not, and was the outcome positive or negative?

    1. BellyButton*

      One of our employees was just in this same position. I worked with her to pick two days to be there. I scheduled our important team meeting to be the same day as our big company dinner and event. She came in the night before, attended the team meeting, dinner, and then left early the next morning.

      Would a reduced time be an option or beneficial?

      1. New Mom*

        As a mom of two young children, one of them also four months, this would be the only way I’d go and even then I would probably skip if it was truly optional. I had a proposal accepted for a conference in late June, and I was only going to be there one night and two days and my youngest would be almost seven months by then and THAT was stressing me out. I was actually relieved when it fell through.

    2. Pop*

      I can’t quite tell a) if your baby is here yet and b) if you’re a first time parent. When do you need to make a decision by? Can you decide at the last possible minute? Honestly, it’s really hard to know how you’ll feel about something like this until it’s actually time, and every baby’s temperament and needs are extremely different. Here are some things to think about from the parenting perspective:

      – Even though you’re comfortable with the logistics of pumping, it may drop your milk supply significantly to use a pump for that long (obviously not an issue if you’re exclusively pumping). At four months most babies still feed multiple times a night, so you may have to wake up in the middle of the night to pump to maintain your supply.
      – Who else is caring for your baby while you’re away? If you have a partner, what do they think? Caring for a four-month-old for a week by yourself is a lot. Many, many people do it (single parents, military spouses, etc), but it is still extremely challenging!
      – Do you have enough money or support to outsource some things for the week you’re away to make it easier on your household (ie lots of takeout, pay for a dog walker, hire a night doula, etc)?

      I went on a four-day work trip when baby was nine months old. To me, that felt like a great age to rip the bandaid off and spend some nights away from her. I probably would have been comfortable going a few months earlier, but I don’t think I could have done a full week at four months. I was still a bit of a hormonal sleep deprived mess and couldn’t have shown up in the way I would have needed to for a meeting for a week. Good luck with whatever you decide!

      1. New Mom*

        How was the work trip at nine months? I have a conference (diff from the one I posted about earlier) that I really want to go to when my youngest will be about 10/11 months but it would be 4-5 nights away, which sounds amazing and logistically challenging.

        1. Pop*

          It was good! I also went on a personal/fun trip for five days around that time without baby or spouse. Some things that helped: the trip was a team retreat and I helped design the agenda, so pumping breaks were not a problem (although I did obviously miss some stuff) and I generally feel comfortable with my team (I didn’t mind that they saw bags of breast milk in the freezer). My spouse is also extremely competent and at the time was a SAHP four days a week, so it didn’t change his day to day much and I wasn’t worried about baby’s care. I also started leaving baby at least once a week for 1-2 hours to have time to myself starting when she was a week old, so doing things without her to help maintain my independent identity have always been a priority of mine. One year later and I just went on a fun trip for five days without them and it was WAY easier than last year, although I’m glad it wasn’t the first time I was away. Good luck deciding!! If you want to go, I think you can make it work (but obviously every family is different).

    3. Marketing Unicorn Ninja*

      I am also new mom to an almost-four-month old and have an older child, so here’s my perspective: I wouldn’t go. To me, it’s not worth being away from my baby that long at such a young age, and work will always be there, but my baby’s babyhood won’t be.

      If this is your first, I will say, pumping during the day while baby is in daycare is VASTLY different from having to exclusively pump 24/7 for a week. I co-sleep with my babies, so they’ve nursed overnight, but if they didn’t, I’d have to wake up to pump or risk a drop in supply.

      At 3-4 months, your body is starting to figure out the supply-and-demand side of nursing, so if you suddenly have less demand (either because the pump isn’t as efficient or you miss a session or whatever) you risk having your supply drop. Also, you’ll have to pump extra the weeks before you go to make sure you have enough for baby while you’re gone.

      With both of my babies (several years apart, born while I was working at two separate employers), there has been no pushback or negative feedback from my decision to prioritize my baby over a work trip.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        This is a good point about the fact that production may still be regulating around that time, and a supply drop could be a problem. (Especially if you’re like I was and a supply drop makes you anxious, and anxiety makes your supply drop, and it’s just a spiral.)

        I think if you can attend for a day or two as BellyButton suggested, that would be pretty awesome (and might be just long enough to be a welcome break away from home without being a source of anxiety or doubt). Maybe you can work that out with your supervisor.

    4. Ann Perkins*

      Mom of 3 here and I’ve exclusively breastfed and pumped for all 3. I’ve traveled while pumping also, but when the baby was older (9 months) and even that was rough with being abruptly away from him. I definitely would not recommend if your goal is to nurse while you’re at home and pump while you’re at work. If you’re planning on exclusively pumping, that could be easier since your body would already be used to it. Babies nursing directly are more efficient at removing milk than pumping so going from nursing a lot to suddenly just pumping can be rough.

    5. Joey*

      Can you avoid committing until after you have the baby? I feel well qualified to comment since I have recently returned to work with a 3.5 month old. Before I had the baby I had not realized how much I would just NOT want to be away from her (not for logistical reasons at all, just because I dont want to not see her). It might be safest for you to not commit until you have the baby and see how you feel?

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      How crazy would it be to ask your spoise or a family member to take that week as a mini-vacation and come along? The 3 of you get a nearby hotel room separate from the retreat, and you join your coworkers in daytime.

      It’s a big request all around, but if it’s near something that your spouse would find pleasant it might be possible to make it work. Some friends took a teenage cousin on a big camping trip as a part-time babysitter; three people together shared baby care.

      1. Pop*

        This is a great idea! My spouse would have loved this, and it cuts out a lot of the issues like middle-of-the-night pumping and missing baby too much.

      2. New Mom*

        This is a great idea. We had a staff retreat last summer that was mandatory and one of the women I worked with, who has two very young kids, did this with her family. They just stayed at a nearby hotel.

      3. amoeba*

        Yeah, I’ve had colleagues and friends do that for conferences, I think if the spouse has the time off and it’s a place that is generally nice for them to visit as well, it can be a great option!

    7. Grogu's Mom*

      My initial reaction was “absolutely not” until I saw your comment that you’re comfortable with the logistics of pumping. Not sure if that means you’ve pumped for a baby before and know what to expect, and are comfortable with it. But even if so, each baby is different when it comes to feeding so what worked for one might not work for another. At four months, you’re still pumping for several hours a day, throughout both day and night. I went to a work conference for three days/two nights at 7 months and it was HARD and forever changed our breastfeeding relationship (she never successfully breastfed again and I pumped exclusively after that). I also missed out on a lot of the conference because I had to keep going back to the room to pump, and some of the activities were just a complete no-go for me. (Surprise! We’re all going on a three-hour boat ride, and didn’t give you enough warning to bring your pump bag, not that there’s a private place for you to do it anyway!) I pumped and dumped, so didn’t have to worry about plane logistics, but that’s another potential issue.

  23. bean*

    Anybody else getting hit with the one-two punch of “ADHD meds shortage” and “we had all of our money at SVB so we don’t know when we’ll be able to pay your invoice for this freelance work”? Because I am, and folks… it’s not fun.

    1. gmg22*

      Oof. We just got an email from our nonprofit’s COO this morning reassuring us that our reserve accounts are all safe — people were asking, since a lot of our funding comes from tech-supported foundations.

      That said: My understanding is that the FDIC and White House made clear at the beginning of this week that all SVB account holders are able to access all their deposits — that’s what everyone involved spent the weekend scrambling to ensure. So if your client is playing this card, I’d push back on it (nicely).

      1. Gracely*

        Yeah, unless their money was exclusively in SVB *stock*, they should have access to their money. All depositors’ money has been insured by the FDIC (even if the account is more than 250K). They can pay you.

        1. bean*

          Yeah, it’s supposedly just delayed, but the update they promised by yesterday evening never materialized. Thankfully it’s a side gig and not my main source of income, but they’re still getting a much less pleasant email from me if I still haven’t heard anything by Monday.

    2. Spicy Meatball*

      I’m so sorry! :( As if a med shortage isn’t awful enough! This situation would absolutely make my head explode. This is the second med shortage I’ve had to suffer through in the last 5 years. It’s turned me into one of those people who doesn’t always take the full dose, because running out at the wrong time would be an absolute disaster. I need the security of knowing I had some emergency padding while waiting for my refill.

      1. bean*

        I also do this! I had a little more than three weeks stockpiled and ran through nearly all of it — I called my pharmacy and they gave me the absolute last 21 pills they had in lieu of a full refill because they don’t know when it’ll come off backorder. On the one hand, lovely of them! But on the other, that shouldn’t be a choice I had to make!

  24. ReferredCandidate*

    I was affected by a mass layoff in February (worked as an analyst for almost a decade,) and have been looking for work since. I applied for an analyst position with a well-known company, made it through the phone interview, and had a successful zoom interview with the hiring manager. She told me that if a candidate was a clearly strongest contender that she would make an offer the following week, but that if it was too close to call there would be a final zoom interview with the director of the department. The latter happened, and I had that interview a couple weeks later. It went well, and he said a decision would be made the following week.
    That week I got a call from the HR rep that was coordinating this, letting me know that I didn’t get the job, but she said “the director and hiring manager liked you so much that they opened another slot for another role in the same department if you want to interview for it.” I was so flattered…until I saw the job description and pay. The position I originally went for had a base pay of $68K, my previous job I was making around $54K, and this role has a base pay of $45K. I told her the pay was a bit of a concern because it was less than I made at my previous job, but she said “even I took a pay cut to get hired here!” It’s also a role where, looking at the description and requirements, is very entry level (associate,) and like I said, I have a decade of experience. She even said they increased the pay at that role just for me (the original pay was less than $45K). I told her to send me the description and I’ll think about it.

    What should I do? Should I take this with the intention of trying to quickly get the role that I was passed over for? Should I try to negotiate the pay higher to what I made in my old job or ask for more benefits and perks? Should I reach out to the hiring manager of the previous role I applied for asking if there are other positions closer to the pay I was looking for? I’m happy they liked me that much, but I’m a little frustrated that the pay is so low.

    Thank you!

    1. MsM*

      Honestly, I’m a bit skeptical the more senior position even exists and this wasn’t a bait-and-switch. But regardless, I think they’re being pretty clear that they’ve only got the budget/capacity for someone more junior – so no, I wouldn’t take this unless you’re genuinely okay with that. Which it sounds like you’re not, so tell them thanks but no thanks and to please keep you in mind if anything more in line with your salary requirements/experience level does come open.

      1. ReferredCandidate*

        Thanks for the reply! It’s one of those things where I am happy to take a lesser role to get my foot in the door…so long as it leads to potentially getting a role that better matches my capabilities. The HR rep did say that they would evaluate me in 6 months: which is one of the only things that kept me interested. I still need to reach out to the original hiring manager who did the second interview to ask for feedback.

        I have no doubt that the original Analyst position existed, and like I said, I like that I made that good of an impression and they liked me that much. But that pay is just, oof. When I got laid off, I made it a goal to get something that was better in terms of compensation and career growth than my previous job.

        1. The New Wanderer*

          I believe that you made a really great impression on them and they would love to hire you too. But I’d pass on this specific option. I think other companies, with jobs more in line with your salary/career growth goals, will want to hire you too.

          Here are the risks I see, based on AAM letters where a situation like this was in play:

          Risk 1: Promotion isn’t going to happen for at least 1+ year. If they aren’t at this moment able to create a second position at the same level as the first (and for which you are better qualified than the junior position), I’d be skeptical that they could do so at 6 months or even a year no matter how much they like you.

          Risk 2: You’ll do the high level work anyway, but for the entry level pay. There’s a potential that you’d be asked to do higher level work because you do have the qualifications, so they’d be getting a bargain at the lower salary/title while not benefiting you much at all.

          Risk 3: Lower salary = lower impact of raises. It sounds like they already are offering you the highest pay you could get for that entry level job, so I’m skeptical you’d be able to get them to go higher. If you started off at $45k, you’d be looking at a ~50% raise to get to where the higher position’s base pay starts. Depending on company policies, that may not be something they’ll consider even if they do want to, and are able to, promote you.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      If you desperately need the work , a 10k paycut from lost job is better than no job and no pay. Depends on your field really. If you have a lot of options that are in that range that is 12k higher than lost job then keep aiming for those.

    3. EMP*

      I would negotiate, but assume if you take that job (and whatever salary) that you’re not going to get a higher paying role at that company. A job is a job is a job, and if you need the money then it’s better than nothing, but I wouldn’t hold out hope for much from them.

  25. Mom of 3*

    I just set up a time to discuss a potential raise with my boss next week – and I’m SO NERVOUS. For background, I work part-time and I was given a 10% raise at my 2022 end-of-year review. While this sounds generous, I make so little money that even a 10% raise is not very much. This is compounded not only by inflation, but also by the very high taxes I pay as an independent contractor.

    This is partly my fault lowballing myself when I took the job – I should have done more research about working as an IC. My thinking is that basically I’ve been working at a discount for the past several years, and now I want to work at market rate.

    I do good work, my boss is happy with me, but if any of you saw my comment from a few weeks ago I literally can’t afford babysitting for my infant, so I’m running myself ragged.

    Any suggestions for the pitch, including how much to ask for? My understanding is that ICs should be paid 3x rate for employees, to account for taxes and paying for their own health insurance, but that sounds like a lot to ask for! (Objectively, the number itself is not too high – just high in comparison to what I currently earn.) Am I setting myself up for failure, especially by asking for a raise so soon after my “generous” raise? TIA.

    1. BlueWolf*

      I can’t speak to exact numbers to ask for, but you are correct that you should be asking for way more than a standard employee wage to account for the extra taxes and lack of benefits as an IC. Obviously I don’t know the details of your situation, but are you sure you aren’t misclassified? It is very common for employers to misclassify employees as independent contractors in order to avoid the taxes and other obligations associated with having an employee (both my partner and I have experienced this with small employers). Assuming you aren’t misclassified, at the very least maybe it will help if you reframe the business relationship in your mind. As an independent contractor you are your own business and you are negotiating with another business to provide your services for a price that will cover your overhead (taxes, health insurance, etc.) and still make a profit. If the net amount after paying for taxes and insurance is not a wage you would be willing to work for as a regular employee then you have to change the amount to make the math work for you and your needs.

      1. Mom of 3*

        The problem is that my company is incorporated outside of the US and because of that can’t hire me directly as an employee, this was the solution they came up with instead. If I were based where they are, they would have hired me as an employee. Thanks for the encouragement!

  26. Should I be worried?*

    I work in the library at a small, private university with some ongoing budget problems. Last week, a professor friend asked if I’d heard anything about layoffs. I told him no, I hadn’t heard anything?? He then told me that there had been an announcement at a department head meeting that the university would be laying off faculty and staff in about a month. I wouldn’t have gone to the meeting, but the head librarian would have and she didn’t mention anything to myself or the other librarians (I know none of the other librarians heard anything from her because I would have known about it in five seconds flat.)

    I wasn’t super worried when he mentioned it (Although I appreciated the heads up! And really hope he gets to keep his job, of course) because I was hired specifically to hit a minimum number of staff for an accreditation, and if they laid me or any other librarian off then they’d be under the minimum number of staff and there’s a scheduled compliance thing coming up in June. So they really can’t fire anyone in the library for at least the next few months.

    However, yesterday the head librarian came into my workroom and told me a long, rambling story about all the other librarians who’d had my position and who had gotten fired, or quit, or retired… “Oh so-and-so was late every day and rude to students so we had to fire her, some-other-guy got a job at a high school, this-person retired to take care of her aging mother…” You get the idea. It went on for a long time. Normally this would just be weird but this close to the layoff talk – that I had to hear from someone in a totally different department – it’s wigging me out a little bit. Should I be worried? I’d ask her directly but her English isn’t great and communication about stuff that isn’t directly library-related is kind of hit or miss.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      If english barrier is hit or miss, what about asking via email or writing? Then you can both be very clear. “I heard rumors of layoffs, are those going to affect us?” . But even if your boss knows she may not be allowed to tell you.

    2. IEanon*

      I don’t think you should be worried, necessarily, and certainly not based on the odd conversation with the head librarian. It’s possible she was trying to prep you for something, but it could also be that the conversation at the department head meeting put her in the mindset of other departments trimming their staff. It’s too vague to base anything off of at this point.

      That being said, you should definitely be looking for a new position, if you’re not already. Small privates with budget problems have a tendency to implode spectacularly, if it comes to that. I left my first institution in 2021 (small, private women’s college) mostly because of a terrible supervisor, but also because of concerns about sustainability post-pandemic.

      In my state, the big names are just getting bigger, and smaller universities (public and private) are having difficulty making their recruitment goals. The mid-size university I just moved on from had sent out a mandate to trim 2-4% of each department’s budget, and we were looking at staff reductions. It wouldn’t have been my position, and I had already accepted my current job at that point anyway, but it was indicative that the university was struggling.

    3. Gracely*

      I would start looking, just in case. Accreditation is worthless if the university is going under (and small, private unis do that more and more). I wouldn’t worry about it because of the conversation with the head librarian, but rather because of the professor friend’s info.

      That said, a lot of time random faculty are easier to lay off across several academic departments than embedded/admin faculty, especially if they are trying to stay running and accredited–adjuncts can often fill in the gaps much more cheaply. But if you’re staff…you’re also much, much easier to lay off than faculty.

      My public uni has been dealing with some similar issues, and we just keep shedding faculty/staff. Enrollment has been rough, and demographically, it’s not going to get better for awhile.

    4. Hanani*

      I concur with asking your boss directly if you think it would go over well. Do you know other folks in other departments you could check in with? Your professor friend is one datapoint – can you find others?

      I left a small college with huge budget problems because it was a constant nail biting game of “will I be renewed?” and I am now much happier.

  27. Juniper*

    I graduated last year, but I didn’t get a job right away due to health problems. This was my 2nd career/graduate degree which I ended up deciding to use differently (the OG work was directly worsening my health due to high rates of burnout and what not), which further delayed my job search. I’ve been applying in earnest since October and I’m starting to feel more and more desperate as I come close to 1 year since finishing school. I’m doing side gigs to help – specifically, teaching yoga and inventing my own projects to demonstrate my skills. I have both listed on my resume as “experience”; I understand the argument for NOT doing this, but I also think there’s a pretty good argument for showing I am keeping skills current, developing new skills, etc. and unless I can mention it in my cover letter, but I’ve always been taught that things on your cover letter should generally correspond to your resume (unless it’s something that’s tangential; a lot of church jobs want you to be a member of the church/generally a Christian, but that’s not really resume material and something that I’d mention in a cover letter… but when it comes to actual experience, I try to also have a corresponding entry on my resume).

    I’m freaking out and no one can really help me; my resume and cover letter are good (e.g., I’m using sources like Ask a Manager to make sure they’re good), and I have education and several years of work experience. There are a few things I suspect are hurting me though. 1) this is my second job gap 2) most of my jobs are short term contracts of 6 to 18 months – I want a permanent job, but it’s tough 3) I am not using my education in the singular expected way (e.g., imagine being a nurse whose using their experience to work in public health or something like that). I don’t know how to over come these things except to get a permanent job where I can show that I’ll stick around and build in some much needed stability.

    How do I address these things? Do I address them at all?

    1. Juniper*

      For more context, I am also getting loads of bad advice, like to just get a job as a receptionist or something; due to a lot of reasons (mostly, see above context), this is a bad idea in my opinion.

      1. Gracely*

        If you’re trying to demonstrate stability/that you can stay in a job for awhile, it’s not the worst advice to just find *something* that you can do for a long stint. Side gigs aren’t going to look as good.

        And also, your cover letter is supposed to show what’s *not* on your resume! You might want to look at how you’re approaching your cover letters, because they should not be corresponding directly to your resume. Otherwise why bother with a cover letter? The cover letter is supposed to be where you talk about how you have the skills/interest/experience to tackle that particular job you’re applying for.

        1. Juniper*

          Yeah that’s what I do. What I mean is that I am not going to reference being able to do something (idk, a statistical analysis) and then if you look at my resume and it’s unclear when I would have even done that… I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s like what you’re saying.

    2. Morgan Proctor*

      Your third concern is probably not valid. Almost no one these days uses their education in the expected way, especially people that are 10+ years into their careers. Also, the example you use is, in fact, using education in an expected way, so I wonder if you’re just overthinking it.

      Don’t settle for a receptionist job or some other job you’re not interested in and won’t help you get on the career path you want. Just keep trying. You WILL find something, I promise, but these things take a while.

      Are you in a big city? You could look for industry groups to join, either in person or Slack/Discord, and let them know you’re looking.

      1. Juniper*

        Thank you! I think I needed to hear this. I feel like I have to defend my decision NOT to get some receptionist job just to do something; money is tight but my family can get by and I don’t want to take a job I don’t want and won’t help me at all.

        I am in a big city. I know this might sound stupid, but how do you even find those things? I prefer things on places like Slack for now, largely because I prefer to reserve my in-person networking for things I actually want to do (e.g., making connections while volunteering, at an art gallary event etc.)

        1. Tio*

          If you’re looking to break into a specific professional industry, LinkedIn is good. They have this kind of groups, and they’ll also post about conferences/seminars/workshops in them that you can attend to network.

  28. Regret Changing Jobs*

    First, apologies for any devspeak. :-) Not quite a year ago, I decided to change jobs. I really, really enjoyed the job I had at the time, but it was in another city and the commute was pretty far – 1 hour each way. That really was the only downside. But – the new job was located in my town and allowed for hybrid WFH (although I’m a dev, that is not a given in my particular industry). The location was a place I had worked before, so I was familiar with it, and I also already knew a couple of team members. Plus, it came with an increased salary. I figured at some point, the commute would really get to me (it had already made going to doctor’s appointments a little difficult), and jobs like the new job rarely open up in my town. So, I jumped.

    I think I have regretted it ever since. I thought I was moving to a well-running machine of a dev team, but it’s been absolute chaos. For various reasons I can’t get into, some time before I arrived they had lost all of their work documentation, system installation instructions, you name it. And they just didn’t replace any of it. So from the get-go, getting up and running was so much more difficult than it really should have been. (Example: I repeatedly installed the wrong packages because no one told me that I needed certain specific older packages.) About two weeks in, the head of the team – who was really the only person who knew the ins and outs of the systems, deployment, etc. – left for a new job. That really didn’t help things, and it seems like it’s just gotten worse.

    Everything breaks at the drop of a hat, those who review pull requests take forever to complete them so it seems like I always have to stop and wait on them, and communication is poor. I’m frequently questioned about the smallest details of the work I submit (I don’t know if this has anything to do with the fact that I’m the only woman on the team now). And did I mention we’re a team of government contractors that has been through 4 government leads in the past year?

    Right about the time I first seriously considered seeing if I could go back to my old job, they hired my replacement.

    I’m just not sure what to do. Although as a dev I’m junior, I’m an older worker and it’s not too many more years to retirement for me. Right now, I seriously am hanging in because of the money and lack of commute. But I’m not sure at what point I should throw in the towel and look for something else. I’m also hanging on to hope that I could maybe go back to my old team in a year or so, when they might have additional staff changes or possibly add a position. But that might not be realistic.

    I guess I’m just looking for any advice on how to keep my spirits up in this situation.

    1. Morgan Proctor*

      Let your old job know you’re interested in coming back in a position that’s above junior.

    2. Generic Name*

      Can you find a way to care less about your job? I don’t mean that to sound flippant. I’ve known a lot of people who spend a lot of emotional energy on stuff they can’t control and that aren’t really their job. Are you getting poor reviews or having negative consequences as a result of the disorganization? If not, I suggest reframing it as “this is just the way it is” and they to work within that. Anticipate that you’ll likely be questioned about nitpicks details. I get that turnover with the agency you support can be disruptive, but does it actually impact your day to day. You get paid the same either way, right? This type of scenario is why a lot of people are “quiet quitting”. You can’t care more about how smoothly things run than leadership does. See if you can focus on what you do enjoy and try to ignore the rest.

      1. Regret Changing Jobs*

        No worries, you don’t sound flippant. That’s my BF’s advice as well – he says I get too emotionally invested in work things that I can’t change, and I need to let more stuff go. It’s good to hear that from another source (he’s verrrry laid back about stuff!). The hard part is for me to take it to heart and follow through.

        1. Roland*

          I was also going to give this advice. It’s much easier to give than to take, of course! But given the ageism in tech, maybe you’re ready for your off-ramp from caring. I am a dev somewhere with much the same issues, and I also Care Too Much, it sucks.

    3. DiplomaJill*

      in similar situations I’ve figured out what part of the job I enjoy and tried to focus on that most. it made the chaos, annoyances, etc better if I could say to myself, well (annoyance) is what it is but I really killed (thing that I like) today

    4. I have RBF*

      It couldn’t hurt to casually look, rather than urgently need to bail. You never know what you’ll find. Dust off the resume and start putting it out there. While the current market is soft for devs, it won’t be that way for too long. Dev hiring goes in cycles, and keeping your eye peeled can help you spot the upturn.

    5. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

      I don’t know if this is enough of a silver lining to cheer your up, but it sounds like in the midst of such chaos, they’re not likely to fire you even if you just kinda do the bare minimum and don’t get emotionally invested in being able to actually do a good job.

  29. Commission Woes*

    I have a question for government employees who manage citizen commissions. Are you able to require nondiscrimination training for commissioners who are not technically contractors or employees?
    My office works with an appointed commission. Some of the commissioners treat staff badly. It does not seem to be rising to the level of hostility toward a protected class. However, I would be a lot more comfortable with tools and options to name how this bad behavior could become a liability for our jurisdiction.
    Thanks for your time and input.

    1. Enn Pee*

      In my state, all members of a public body (including unpaid commissioners) are required to take conflict of interest training. I don’t think there’s any reason why a municipality couldn’t require training for all (regardless of status) BUT it would likely need to be something your elected officials would need to pass as an official municipal statute.

      (A smart person might be able to sell it as good insurance from getting sued…)

  30. NeonDreams*

    Now that I’d had a few hours to calm down, I’m second guessing how I handled this ongoing situation at work.

    I was in running for a position much better suited for me. But I’d met with my current boss on the 6th starting the a Corrective Action Plan. I left the meeting thinking it started that day. If you’re on a CAP, you’re not allowed to move internally. I called HR to verify the effective date and see if that disqualified me from the running, and they told me to check with my recruiter. Recruiter said that was correct.

    I brought it up with the hiring manager Monday and she said she would ask HR for me. She comes back later in the day and says she can’t proceed. I’m like, okay. That sucks but I get it. My boss tells me today that she’d delayed the CAP effective date in the system for me to have that interview and no one from the hiring manager or HR had asked her about it.

    I am absolutely livid. So much so that I want to quit even though it would be a significant hardship to do so. My boss says I wasn’t wrong for telling HR/recruiter about the CAP. I had submitted FMLA paperwork to buy myself some time to find something else but now I’m reconsidering that because of the CAP effective dates.

    I’m just exhausted and ready to wash my hands of the whole thing.

    1. ferrina*

      I am so sorry. This sounds awful.

      If you aren’t already, I’d be looking externally. While sometimes it makes sense to disqualify a candidate on a CAP/PIP from internal moves (particularly promotions), sometimes it’s ridiculous. I moved from Position A to Position B in a company while on a PIP for Position A. For many reasons, Position B was much better suited for me, and I thrived in Position B. (because I moved mid-PIP, my boss never even had the final PIP discussion with me. She really was rooting for me, and was thrilled when I got Position B).

      fwiw, most companies avoid CAP/PIPs when someone is on FMLA. There can be some overlaps between reasonable accomodation/health needs and certain performance action items. Every time I’ve seen someone take FMLA when they were close to a PIP, the company delayed the PIP until several month after return (or sometimes mutually parted ways, usually with the company doing something like a small severance or paying out vacation they didn’t need to pay out, or similar to ease the transition out)

      1. Lana Kane*

        I hired one of my best staff members while she was on a PIP. I had the leeway of looking into why she was on it, and realized that her department had her working 2 separate full-time roles, so of course she wouldn’t be meeting their metrics. I got references who all spoke highly of her and so I decided to proceed. I’m glad I had that flexibility to make the decision myself. That option should always be on the table for the hiring manager.

        NeonDreams, this was handled very poorly. I would be looking elsewhere about now.

    2. WellRed*

      There’s a lot going on here. CAP, FMLA, poor fit in current role, desire to transfer and now considering quitting. Slow your roll. Give yourself time to figure out next steps.

      1. NeonDreams*

        I’m not doing anything just yet. I’m going to talk to my parents, therapist and psychiatrist about it. You’re right. It’s a lot to think about and my anger/hurt/disappointment is clouding my judgement even worse. I’m just so defeated. :(

  31. anonfor this*

    I’ve been at two companies. First was 3 weeks vacation for first year, 4 weeks for second + 12 sick + 12 federal holidays + a week between christmas and new years + 4 personal days

    Current company is 3 weeks + 1 personal day + 12 sick + 12 federal holidays + 4 days between christmas and new years

  32. Bunny Girl*

    Help with wording for an interview.

    So I have an interview coming up. The job sounds absolutely perfect for me, except for one small thing. It said there was the small possibility of international travel if the budget allowed. I used to work for this company and I know for the most part, the budget rarely allowed.

    Unfortunately, for many reasons, international travel isn’t possible for me. I applied anyway because of the wording of the travel. How can I bring this up? If it’s a deal breaker for the interviewer, that’s fine with me but I wanted to be able to talk about it. I thought maybe since it would cause a strain on the budget, if I wasn’t able to it wouldn’t be an issue.

    1. Ali + Nino*

      I wouldn’t bring it up – but then again, I shoot first and ask questions later. :) If they offer you the job and you have to sign something agreeing to travel internationally, you can discuss it then.

    2. ferrina*

      I might ask about international travel, but in the context of “Do you forsee this in the recent future? When I previously worked here, this was very rare, and just wondering if this is still the case.”
      If it’s super rare, I probably wouldn’t mention anything (in an ideal world, yes, they would understand and judiciously weigh that against the merits of your candidacy, but realistically, some people shut down at a single “no” even if it’s as small as this and won’t consider the merits of your work).
      If there’s a specific instance that is definitely coming up, then yes, you do need to say something.

    3. Not a Real Giraffe*

      “I saw a line in the job posting about international travel. Can you tell me more about that?” And then wait to see what they say. If it sounds like it’s a likely thing to come up in the course of the position, you can say “I’m unable to travel internationally, is that a must-have for the person in this role?” Or something to that effect.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        I like this. I do want to ask about travel in general because there is some intrastate travel that I am totally fine with doing as long as it’s somewhat occasional. But I also don’t want this to be something frustrating if it does come up down the road because this is an employer that I could have many potential opportunities with and I don’t want to spoil those by springing this on someone.

  33. Fat Bottomed Squirrels*

    I submitted my two weeks notice at my current job, and yesterday sent an email to my department thanking them. it’s been hard because I like my coworkers, but don’t trust leadership.

    The executive for my department replied, “was it something I said? I’m sorry to hear this, best of luck.”

    Reader, it was something he said that made me start jobhunting. He said something borderline racist in the first meet in greet between him and my team. My manager was in the meeting and apparently addressed it with him, but my team never received an apology. It was one of many concurrent ignorant remarks that made me start job hunting, in addition to my career being stalled.

    I plan to respond with a generic “thank you, you have inherited a great team who will support your vision blah blah. ” Do you think it’s worth bringing up in my exit interview that it *was* something he said? Generally I’ve been playing it safe because there are people at this organization I’d like to work with again. obviously not him, though.

    1. Fat Bottomed Squirrels*

      also, context: I’m in HR. A lot of people I work with now will know what’s brought up in my exit interview.

      1. Tio*

        Maybe. If he’s new, they may want to know. It may have been addressed but might not have gone all the way up. Probably wouldn’t hurt to mention it, but you would have a better idea how they handle things like that.

    2. ferrina*

      Depends. Who gets the results of the exit interview? How much power do they have? Will they be likely to act on it?
      At most companies I’ve been at, the exit interviews were useless. They already knew about the problems, I wasn’t the first (nor last) to cite them in an exit interview, but the CEO didn’t care and decided that he was okay with losing people over it (though he’d make the right sympathetic noises). My current company is the only one where I’d trust an exit interview- results go directly to someone on C-Suite who is very active in advocating for people, and the CEO and many of the top executives value staff and actively work at retention.

      You are under no obligation to say anything you don’t feel comfortable with. They already know about the issue- if you dont’ say anything, it’s not a big leap to see what’s happening.

    3. MsM*

      If the people you want to work with again don’t go “yeah, that makes sense” in response to you bringing racism up as a factor in you leaving, I’m not really sure why you’d want to work with them again.

    4. DisneyChannelThis*

      So he’s self aware enough to know that he says offensive things but not caring enough to actually change his behavior. Gross. Glad you’re getting out of there!

  34. pants*

    Are corduroy pants more formal than jeans? Are they business casual? Where do they fall on the casual-business spectrum?

    1. ferrina*

      I associate them as less formal than nice jeans because I associate them with Osh-Kosh. But it might depend on the tailoring

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        The cut and how deep the ridges are make a difference. I used to have well-cut cords that were absolutely ok in the office. But the ridges were very fine, so you didn’t get that fwap, fwap sound when I passed your cube.

        1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

          Fun fact: the width of ridges is called “wale”. Wide wale cords are the wide thick kind, and fine wale is the shallow skinny stripes. And, yes, wide wale is a lot more casual!

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            Thank you! I knew the term but couldn’t remember & didn’t have time to look it up!

    2. Bunny Girl*

      I think it depends on the cut. I’ve seen some very smart tailored corduroy pants and I have also seem some that are very baggy and casual that I wouldn’t think to wear to work.

    3. pants*

      links for reference:

      1. Bunny Girl*

        I think those are fine! Especially depending on how you pair them. A nice shirt and sensible shoes would be cute.

      2. I have RBF*

        I have some of the Gloria Vanderbilt pinwale cords, and they are fine for business casual in an office that discourages jeans. Don’t hang anything heavy from the best loops, though.

    4. Cyndi*

      I tend to think of corduroys as a step higher on the scale–because my high school dress code only allowed jeans on Fridays but corduroys and khakis were fine all week.

      (We also had to wear shirts with a foldover or turtleneck collar Mon-Thurs, but got away with murder when it came to skirt hemlines. No, I can’t explain it either.)

      1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        Dress codes are weird. I worked in a place that didn’t allow any jeans — which, fine, it’s a clear rule. But you could wear all the leggings you wanted! I think a dark tailored pair of jeans is as/more dressy than a knit tunic and leggings-as-pants, but that’s me.

    5. Sheila*

      I think of them as roughly equal to jeans if they’re cut in the 5-pocket style that is typical with jeans. A more tailored cut, especially with small cords, is closer to khakis.

  35. Name Mix Ups*

    I have two relatively new direct reports whose names are very similar (think Marvin and Martin), and a third direct report who mixes their names up up all. the. time. He’s genuinely not doing it on purpose and was extremely embarrassed when I talked to him about it. Marvin and Martin don’t mind and think it’s funny, however our team interfaces with external clients frequently and I worry that it will (a) confuse them (since Marvin and Martin are both relatively new, they are still meeting clients) and (b) make our team look… not great. Is there anything more I can do? I’d love any advice.

    1. Employee of the Bearimy*

      I don’t think there’s much more YOU can do if you’ve made it clear to him that you expect him to find a way to call them by their correct names. The next part is up to him.

    2. Goose*

      Tell him to call them both “Mar” from now on /s

      As someone with mild faceblindness, I recommend finding something about each of them (haircut usually works for me) that he can double check before saying the name.Slowing down is really helpful!

    3. RagingADHD*

      How new? Usually these things work themselves out, and the mixer-upper just takes a little longer to acclimate. Unfortunately, if it isn’t a recognition problem but a tip-of-the-tongue problem, I don’t think there is anything you can do with mnemonics. He may know them apart perfectly well but just stumble over the single letter difference.

      Could you start calling both of them by their last name?

    4. LBD*

      I think clients will find it confusing even if your coworker gets the names right all the time! Perhaps refer to them as Marvin Lee and Martin Singh when talking to clients?

    5. Rara Avis*

      Unfortunately, names you learn at the same time tend to be stored together, and similar sounds make it really hard for brains to sort them out. When I have a new class of students with similar names, I have a very hard time getting them right. (The year I came back from maternity leave mid-year, I walked into a class with seven S-names: forgive me, Sophia, Sarah, Serena, Sandra, Sarika, Susan, and Sadie.) (Some of these are fictional because I don’t actually remember all 7 names.)

  36. BigSister*

    I’m looking for advice/inspiration for my brother, who has had trouble holding down a job due to his bipolar disorder. He’s in treatment but both the upswings and the downswings have made it really hard for him to be motivated by jobs. On the other hand, he has a lot of credit card debt, and being isolated from peers living with my parents is not great for his mental health. His background is in economics and the jobs he’s had have tended towards sales-type roles but he doesn’t seem to last very long in them. Does anyone on here who has bipolar disorder or a loved one with it have any job/career success stories?

    1. YNWA*

      I have bipolar type 2. I’m a college professor. Mine is well managed with Lithium and regulating my sleep, but it is also the milder form of bipolar.

      I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished and learned to not listen to the negative thoughts that constantly roll through my head. I was diagnosed my second year of my PhD program and was actually hospitalized for suicidal ideation. I think of myself as successful.

      It is hard to stay motivated, though, especially during the down swings but there’s a satisfaction to having and maintaining a job and a career that I think is even sweeter because I am bipolar.

      Ultimately, I realize I haven’t said much that might bolster you or your brother. It’s just my experience.

    2. Bunny Girl*

      I’m not sure if this is necessarily helpful because it’s not specific, but I have two close friends with bipolar disorder and they both have found jobs that they enjoy and have managed to keep for several years. I think part of it is a matter of luck. It’s difficult finding management teams that will be flexible and understanding for any medical issue, especially mental health ones. One works for a small accounting company and the other works for a small city government department. I think smaller companies might be more forgiving than larger corporate type offices who are really focused on quotas.

    3. Phoenix*

      Hey BigSister — I also have a sibling with bipolar I. She was diagnosed recently and is still figuring things out, but finding a good med combo has helped immensely. It took trial and error to get there and might for your brother too.

      I also have a very good friend who has had a bipolar I diagnosis for over a decade. My friend has really figured out a good treatment plan over the years. She’s currently both getting a grad degree and working full time. She was promoted last year, manages other employees, and was recently told by her boss that she’s one of the most stable and emotionally intelligent people he knows. So, it’s very possible to have career success while living with bipolar!

      FWIW, with my sibling who’s still figuring stuff out, I often remind her (and myself) that it takes a long time to recover from a crisis and a longer time to find stability. There will always be steps forward and steps back, but she is making incredible progress dealing with a very difficult thing, and I am very proud of her.

  37. Keladry of Midelan*

    I’d love some more insight into the discussion this week about how watching videos on phones can help with work focus, etc.

    My employee has been watching videos (seems like TV shows, phone screen is fully visible to them vs. just listening) while doing some fairly tricky data-related tasks. They’ve had a higher error rate than others with this sort of work in the past, but I haven’t noticed any errors recently (would be very time-consuming to check for them). I have, though, noticed that they sometimes seems to be going pretty slow with these tasks.

    So – for those who benefit from watching TV while working to help with focus – I’d love to hear more about how that works on a practical level. Do you need to actually watch the screen? And if so, how does that interact with the actual work? Or is just listening enough? Any thoughts on whether I need to address this with them, and if so, how?

    1. Former Gremlin Herder*

      I’m absolutely someone who benefits from background noise when doing certain types of tasks. It settles my brain and lets me devote the right amount of attention to what I’m doing; when I don’t have them on, I often struggle to stay focused on one task. Typically don’t need to watch the screen, but I often have it visible anyway-it’s a good place for my eyes to go if I do get distracted, I think? I usually do this with ASMR videos or music, both because they’re less distracting and they look less like I’m goofing off, and in some places I’ve worked in the past that would have been looked at oddly.

      As for whether or not you need to address it, I think that comes down to a couple of factors. One, are there issues with the quality or rate of work? This probably means checking some of his work, but if you’re going to have the conversation you probably need to do that. Second, are there workplace norms that he’s super out of step with? If it’s the former, frame the conversation around the work problem and see where it goes. If it’s the latter, that’s a little trickier; I know I value a workplace where people can do what they’ve gotta do to get things done, but at a lot of organizations it wouldn’t be crazy for a manager to tell their employee that they can’t have TV shows on ag work. I hope this was helpful!

    2. Cyndi*

      At least for me, watching TV/YouTube/etc. while doing repetitive work scratches the same itch as breaking to repeatedly refresh websites, except that I don’t have to stop typing to do it; it’s also beneficial to my mental health, in that my brain just doesn’t “switch off” while doing rote work like some people’s apparently do, and if I’m doing fairly mindless work I tend to anxiety spiral if I don’t have something else to occupy that bandwidth.

      ALL OF THAT SAID: your employee isn’t doing rote mindless work at all, but something that requires critical thinking! And I personally wouldn’t watch anything while doing actual thinking work, because then I’m missing things both in my work and in whatever I’m trying to enjoy. I’m more likely to listen to music in that case.

      I guess what I’m getting at, here, is that I’ve learned from experience how to balance what kind of work I’m doing vs. what degree of external stimulation I need to keep my brain more or less ticking along. Would it be helpful to talk to your employee from the angle of being more mindful of that balance?

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      It is completely fine and normal to tell people they cannot watch TV while at work. Most workplaces I have worked allowed headphones but not screens.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I do background noise with a show I’ve already seen a million times or otherwise don’t care if I miss some of it – my go-to is Forensic Files. The narrator has a fairly steady soothing voice, I don’t have to pay attention to it to know the general gist of what’s going on, and I definitely don’t need to look at the screen.

      If you’re seeing errors or reduced productivity, I would address that part without necessarily linking it to the show.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        My WFH company is the Crime channel! It keeps me from hearing everything in the building, but I can block it out as needed.

      2. WellRed*

        This. Law & order reruns and nothing overly mentally taxing on the TV. I certainly couldn’t do anything complicated and not on a phone.

      3. Tio*

        I do Forensic files too, or some kind of baking show. (My discovery+ sub gets a workout). What happens if I don’t pay attention during a cooking show and loo up? Someone is cooking. What happened before that? Someone was cooking. What will happen next? Someone will cook. It’s great for popping in and out and yes, the background noise helps me focus.

    5. Not Your Trauma Bucket*

      I work best with TV on low in the background, and my work requires deep focus and critical thinking. I work from home, so I have a TV next to my desk that I can see out of the corner of my eye. I have strict rules about what I watch – mostly procedurals without a lot of sudden loud noises or low-key movies I’ve seen a million times. There’s one show that Netflix thinks I’ve watched in its entirety probably ten times, but I couldn’t tell you a single character name. The minute I find myself engaging with what’s on the TV beyond a quick zone out break, I change to a different show/movie. If I’m doing something repetitive like formatting, I’ll let myself put on something a little more engaging, but again as soon as I catch myself really paying attention to what’s on, I have to change it.

      For me, it works just like playing minesweeper or using a fidget spinner during a conference call. There is a part of my brain that will run rampant if left unoccupied, and that gremlin brain will hijack everything else. I have to entertain it so that it leaves my useful brain alone.

    6. FroggerMan*

      I think it really differs from person to person as to what they need in order to focus. I can only listen to music while doing rote work, though I know others can listen to podcasts or have a show on while doing rote work. Though I know for everyone in those camps, working in silence would actually impact productivity negatively (I tend to get antsy and wander towards the water cooler more often.)

      As long as having a show on isn’t against company rules/culture, you don’t need to address it. What you can address is what you notice about their performance. See if you can set aside some time to check for errors, if you feel it might be an issue. Are they falling behind on deadlines? Do they need to be correct the first time? Don’t focus on the fact they’re watching something, focus on the performance.

    7. Marketing Unicorn Ninja*

      I do a lot of design-heavy work (graphic designer) and my go-to are true crime podcasts. I have specific ones that are ‘work-only’ because the hosts’ voices are sufficiently soothing and/or in the right register to distract part of my brain while not distracting too much of it. Although I’m interested in the topic, if I miss chunks of it, it’s OK, because I’m not really listening for content, I’m listening for distraction.

      I work in an industry where we’re all hyper-aware of people needing accommodations (in the general, not ADA/legal, sense) so no one bats an eye at coming into my office and hearing a podcast. Even with that said, no one would be OK with a TV program; the optics are just too off for it.

      But I think if you’re going to address it, you need to do a deep dive into your employees’ work product and see if his TV watching is a problem. If it is, address it, but be willing to come up with other options.

    8. Keladry of Midelan*

      Thanks, everyone, for your thoughtful replies! It’s given me a lot to think about!

  38. Juniper*

    How much training should you expect in a job? I know it’s somewhere between “you need to know *something* but we’ll show you *something*” and “probably nothing”.

    I get the sense that most jobs expect you to be able to do 100% of the job on day 1… meanwhile, I’ve had a ton of jobs where they’ll scale you up (like week 1 might mostly be learning systems, software, week 2 they might start hooking you up with more complex stuff…).

    So I want to clarify that I know you need to know *something* about a job, and the “classic” advice is that you should be able to do 70% of what’s listed in an ad (with some things being more required than others – for example, I can do project management and research, but I wouldn’t apply for a job that is, say, project management in engineering would most likely not be in my scope due to knowing fuck all about a engineering. However, let’s say I apply for a job where they use X and Y software and I can use Y and Z softwares but feel good about my ability learn X software, is that ok?

    Basically, I’m not looking to hear about what I should or shouldn’t know; I know I should know as much as possible for a job… what I am looking for is a general guideline for what I should expect training wise.

    1. Can't think of a funny name*

      Unfortunately, I think this is going to vary A LOT. I am in charge of 8 people…for some of them, I only expect them to be able to read/write/talk in English (literally, that’s it, I expect to teach you everything else). At the other end of the scale, there is one woman who is the only one that knows how to use the software for her role…if she were to leave, that would be the priority for hiring…someone that knows how to use that software…b/c I don’t. I think you should apply and just be upfront that you know how to use Y but not X and the hiring manager can decide how important that is to them.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      This can be cleaved into 2 chunks.
      Knowledge about HOW to do something in general.
      Knowledge about WHAT they do at a particular employer.

      Walking in the door, I know how to program in language X.

      But I don’t know what package manager the new company uses, what version of the database they are running, what coding and documentation standards they have, what steps to take in order to submit a change request, etc.

      The HOW category you should know at least 70%. The WHAT category, you can’t be expected to know all of it, but (especially with more experience), you ought to know the more common options & practices. That doesn’t mean you won’t find yourself at a place that developed their own version management system that is unlike anything used elsewhere, but that’s a vanishingly small chance – and they’ll know they are way off the beaten track and will spend time to get you up to speed.

      So you should not expect training in how to program language X. And you probably won’t get training in how to use package Y or database Z – that’s what online documentation is for. But you should expect orientation – this is the stuff we use, these are the versions, here are the people who are responsible for maintaining them, etc.

      To use an extremely rudimentary example, you ought to know how to use a stapler. But you won’t know where they keep the extra staples, or who has the key to the cabinet with the super-large stapler, or what the rules are about using staples versus paperclips versus 3-ring binders.

    3. WantonSeedStitch*

      It honestly depends on the kind of role and the kind of office to such a high degree that I can’t really think of a general guideline. I would say that generally, you should expect that anything specific to the workflow of the individual company or specific to tools that they use, you SHOULD be trained on. For example, training on use of a CRM, as not every company within an industry will use the same CRM. Or training on things like “we use Report X in this circumstance, and here’s what kind of information needs to go into Report X and the form it should take.” I wouldn’t expect someone to be able to guess at my workplace’s particular processes.

      I don’t expect to have to train someone on the use of basic software that is common in most offices regardless of company or industry (think Word or Excel). This might be different if I managed entry-level admin roles, but I don’t.

      In general, I would rather hire someone who has the right kind of strengths (demonstrated in their past experience) but who might need more training. I can train you how to use tools X, Y, and Z, but it’s a lot harder to train you to be a good communicator with an analytical mind.

    4. EMP*

      It depends a lot on the current resources wherever you’re applying. I think in your example, yes it’s “OK” in that I would encourage you to apply with Y and Z software experience even though X and Y is on the job description. You can’t guess at their expectations before you start interviewing.

      A tangible example is we were recently hiring for an extremely specialized job writing software for a specific system. I work at a start up and we normally don’t have the overhead available for much training. I’d say we normally want a candidate to have 90-100% of what’s listed in the job description just because we don’t have time to train people. However, this system is so specialized we couldn’t make that work. We wound up hiring someone with ZERO software experience who had worked on other parts of this system before and committed to several months of training on the software side.

      So even within one company and one field, it’s all down to the specific needs of the company, and you won’t find out without applying what those are.

  39. FroggerMan*

    I have an increasingly difficult problem to deal with in interviews regarding my job history and really need help coming up with an answer.

    I’m in my 30s, and due to an awful series of events, I haven’t been able to hold a job for more than 6 months. About half of my previous jobs were contract positions, which is easy enough to explain. But the other half is due to layoffs, buyouts, and in one case, the CEO wanting to clear my position to give to his kid. I’ve never been fired and I have glowing references.

    Still, employers hesitate when they see my resume, and I can’t figure out a more professional and reassuring way to explain “It’s not my fault, I was just really unlucky.” Any tips and advice would be welcomed!

    1. Looking for a change*

      I am sorry to hear that you have had to deal with lots of short stays due to outside forces. While my situation is not quite the same previous jobs can look somewhat unrelated at a glance. With my most recent interviews I worked on finding a good “story” to tell about the whole and just picking the bits of my job history that emphasize that.
      While I cannot find the post(s) right now, I believe Alison has suggested in the past adding why you left a role. “Llama feed purchasing specialist, 2016 – 2017 (made redundant)”, “Senior llama translator, 2017 – 2017 (contract)” or, provided it makes sense for the roles, to group all contract work in one section.

    2. Adrian*

      FroggerMan, can you tell us more about the layoffs and buyouts?

      For instance, was Layoff A because the employer didn’t land a contract and half the company was let go. Or Buyout B was an offer that came out of nowhere, and the company owners just couldn’t pass it up.

    3. Hillary*

      My go-to line is that I was lucky enough to graduate into two recessions (I’m a bit older than you). It gets a laugh, then I segue into how my very long resume demonstrates progressive responsibility and skills. I also have (contract) behind those titles on my resume.

      They just need to hear a good reason you’re not quitting or getting fired.

    4. Lilith*

      I had a similar CV a few years ago, after 10 years of short term jobs / temp roles / redundancies – it wasn’t quite as bad as none lasting more than 6 months, but it was close. For me, I was able to group the biggest (ie. shortest-lasting) into one group under a ‘Temp / fixed term roles’ heading as they were mostly similar enough that they could be described as one, and I think seeing just the one heading covering 4 years reassured employers enough that they didn’t dig into it much further.

      I never found a perfect way to explain my job history, but in the final interview for a job I eventually held for 5 years, the CEO really grilled me about why I’d moved so much. I think I might have literally said that bad luck had a part to play in it! I mostly emphasised that I was now looking for a stable position I could grow and contribute in.

    5. North Wind*

      Could there be a narrative here about your adaptability, resilience, and breadth of experience? That you are looking for and prefer a long-term engagement, but the series of experiences you *have* had have given you a wider perspective on your field, seasoned you on different types of work, and honed your ability to adapt quickly to new situations?

      I am about 50 (so starting to think about how age-ism will play into my work life), just started a new job search in January, and was hired last month! My job history over the last 8 years has been really unconventional and I had worries about my interviews – but I just told my story and it seemed like folks really loved it.

      I had not been traditionally employed for about 8 years (though I did have steady work experience before that). In those 8 years – I had resigned from a great job because I was restless and needed something new, took about 2 years off to decompress and figure out what to do next, then meandered my way into freelancing in a technical field (related to my previous career).

      I really loved freelancing and worked on lots of quite short-term projects. My enthusiasm for this carried through in the interviews, and I had a wide breadth of experiences in this technical field to answer their various questions. They did ask some direct questions – how would I fare reporting to a manager after having been self-employed for so long? I was able to respond with relevant stories about how I handled client relationships and how, if anything, that heightened my ease with hearing and taking on board all kinds of feedback.

      The paperwork/background check was kind of a nightmare – I didn’t have the standard documents that are typically used to verify previous employment, but they really worked with me there to push the hire through.

      Your story may not be as big a deal to them as it feels like to you, but do have an answer ready if they ask you directly about your appetite for a longer-term engagement. Use it as a springboard to highlight the positives you bring to the table.

    1. BellyButton*

      Classic! I haven’t pinched on St. Patrick’s Day since high school! I can’t imagine any grown adults in a business setting pinching people.

    2. I take tea*

      W00t. Fascinating. A good example of of how people can become blind to their own cliquish culture.

  40. Vanilla latte*

    I found out late last week that I did not a role I was in the running for. I was a finalist and it came down to the other person had some additional experience that I did not have.

    Usually, I dont get bummed out when I dont get a job but this one hurt. I am so miserable in my current role and have been since I started two years ago. Ive tried to hang on until I find something else, but I feel like im at a breaking point.

    For background – several of my coworkers have quit over the past year because of the stress, and several of them didnt have new roles to go to. I just found out today that leadership is refusing to hire more people, even though we are woefully understaffed. Its a huge slap in the face to all of us who are trying every day to do their best and manage the overwhelming stress.

    1. JelloStapler*

      Ugh I am so sorry, that is happening at my job too (people leaving, hiring freeze, stress)… I wish you luck in the next great thing that comes along.

  41. zhelud*

    I could use some help coming up with a script for addressing my direct report’s behavior in meetings. I don’t want to give any specific examples that may be identifying (depending on who reads this) but he’s aggressive and argumentative and I’ve had to ask him to tone it down more than once.
    My own management has taken note and have asked me not to assign him certain projects that require meetings with outside entities, and that I instruct him not to speak up in some of our internal meetings. I have given him feedback and direction in the moment or right afterwards, but I think it is time for me to bring this up in a more formal way.

    1. FroggerMan*

      Have the consequences been made clear to him? This may be a situation where you have to spell it our. For example, “Your behavior has gotten to the point where we can no longer allow you to work with external clients. You’re expect to treat your fellow coworkers in a polite and pleasant manner while you’re here, and we’ll need to see real and consistent improvement from you before we can assign you to external projects again.”

      Also, are there any additional consequences if this continues, or if it escalates? If so, those should be laid out to him too. This is beyond an inter-personal conflict, and if he can’t behave well, he may need a PIP or even just termination, depending on how bad it is.

      1. irene adler*

        Yes- tangible consequences to ignoring each one of your directions are needed.
        What punishment will occur if he disobeys by talking during internal meetings?

        Might define what the “improvement” needs to be. I get that this person is argumentative and aggressive. What should he be? “Polite and pleasant manner” with the co-workers is good. Do you want him to be amenable to requests made by both internal and external entities-without argument? As for aggressive, what should he do instead (I’m not sure what to suggest)? That should be made clear too.

      2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

        I would also mention the consequences to the business.

        “We can’t assign you to projects with clients, because you’ve been insulting to them in meetings and we’d lose their business if you did it again. I shouldn’t have to tell you that if you cause your employer to lose money, you are jeopardizing your job.”

    2. Sheila*

      “I’ve noticed that you tend to make conversations more adversarial than they need to be when you’re involved in stressful situations. Your role requires being able to navigate those problems with more tact than you’re using now, and without damaging relationships with other people or teams.” Then a specific recent example, then a description of how they need to handle the example instead. Scripts and roleplaying help a ton with this, IMO. So does taking him along to meetings where you can demonstrate the skills you want him to learn, and specifically calling that out for him. “I want you to go along to this meeting to observe how I troubleshoot this problem with Mindy. I’m going to be holding her accountable for doing the part of the process she’s supposed to do, but doing it in a way that doesn’t make her feel accused or blamed for things outside her control.” Then afterward, rehash the conversation with him, make him talk about what he observed, and explain any choices or strategies you used.

      Here are some script pieces I’ve used for conversations like this:

      “You need to approach problem solving with other people and teams with curiosity and questions rather than accusations and blame. Assume everyone has good intentions and is trying to do what they’re supposed to do, and we’re all good employees and all working together toward the same goals.”
      “You are expected to treat the people you work with with respect and kindness. That is part of your job, and your failure to do it is a serious performance issue.”

      I would also name the opportunities he’s lost and connect them to the problems you’re addressing. It would be a good idea to let your leadership know how you’re addressing this with him, and set a goal with him and them, to establish a pattern of improved behavior that allows those restrictions to be removed from his work within [deadline.] I’d consider using your PIP platform to do this, and letting him go if he doesn’t improve. This is assuming that what he can’t do is a moderately key part of his job, and you think he has potential if he improves in this area.

  42. wendelenn*

    How does a teen/young adult create a resume when they have no job experience?

    My teen is currently studying at community college. He’s applying ALL OVER the place to fast food/retail but the apps go into a black hole and no one gets back to him. The problem is, he doesn’t have much to show for himself. His high school grades weren’t awful but they weren’t great. He wasn’t really involved in things in high school like sports and music (Partly due to the pandemic cutting 2 years of his high school life, but mostly because of lack of interest and motivation. Believe me, we pulled our hair out trying to get him to DO SOMETHING.)

    Right now we’re trying to get him to look for some volunteer opportunities to at least get something he can show, but he lacks passion for anything and it’s just really hard to push him. But then, places he applies for regular work say “bring your resume” even though they have online applications too, and we’re just not sure what to do. He doesn’t have an entrepreneurial bone in his body, so “go around mowing lawns, babysit, etc.” just won’t work. He does enjoy his college culinary program so we’d love to get him a foot in the door in food service, but he just can’t seem to get any traction.

    1. Bunny Girl*

      Can he talk to student/career services at the community college? I know when I was going to a CC, I worked in their little café and I enjoyed it.

      1. wendelenn*

        Thanks, Yes, he is working with the community college career center. He doesn’t qualify for work study but they are helping him with applications and things.

    2. 1234ShutTheDoor*

      I hate to say it, but I think the issue is not “how to create a resume without job experience,” but “how do I get my son to do anything?” and that is a much more difficult question.

      I am on the older end of young adult and not a parent, so take my advice with a grain of salt, but all the kids I see who struggle with motivation are those who never had the opportunity to work for something they wanted as a kid and also have been insulated from the consequences of their actions. The best results I saw for unmotivated people was to get them in a new environment with some people who are just starting to get traction/accomplish things who can serve as mentors/examples. Finding one of those and getting your child into it is easier said than done, but I’ve seen it in: scouting (boy or girl), some people who do long religious service trips, some folks who join the military, sending kids to live with extended family. Not to say I’m recommending those, but just giving you an idea of the environment I’m describing. Please add all appropriate disclaimers to this advice, since there’s a lot of appropriate critiques and things that could go wrong with all the settings I listed.

      I’d also note that plenty of people become passionate about something after some extended experience with it, so your son’s lack of passion for anything isn’t particularly unusual. And if your son has any sort of perfectionistic tendency, that’s going to compound the difficulties of finding something to enjoy because perfectionists tend to try something new and get frustrated at a lack of progress way too early. I don’t know how to solve this for other people, I just noticed it in myself when I was in my early teens and was fortunate enough to have someone explain this to me when my brain was still developing. It’s still a struggle sometimes, but I just remind myself to embrace mediocrity and enjoy the process rather than the result.

      1. Student*

        My younger brothers, who are roughly your son’s age and of seemingly similar temperament regarding work, both got food service jobs with no prior training or work experience. It took some persistence at first to find a job, but it wasn’t impossible.

        I also think it’s hard to know what’s the cause of “lack of motivation/passion”. As the previous postered noted, some people have never been forced to fend for themselves, which is the same as never being allowed to choose for themselves. My parents decried my lack of passion, but they really meant that I wasn’t interested in what they wanted me to do and they failed to recognize what I was interested in.

    3. Morgan Proctor*

      If your son is under 18, maybe he would benefit from therapy.

      If he is over 18, then he is an adult and you need to let this go. You can’t make him grow up; he needs to be put in a position where he has no other choice. Give him 6 months notice that he needs to move out and find a place of his own. He’ll find something.

    4. Generic Name*

      Okay, so fast food places don’t require resumes to get entry level jobs there. You fill out an application on their online system. I’m guessing there are other reasons he’s not getting a job. You cannot MAKE another person do anything, but you can have boundaries and enforce consequences. If you want him to get a job, charge him rent (and I’m sure this is obvious, but stop giving him allowance or any kind of spending money). Tell him you will charge him rent beginning on X date, and if he does not produce rent in that date, he will need to move out. He will either get his act together or he won’t. But as a young adult none of that is under your direct control.

    5. Alex*

      Are you absolutely sure he is applying? Because at least where I live, places that pay minimum wage are ALL hiring. I had no retail experience at all (plenty of other experience, just nothing relevant) and decided to apply for a weekend job. I got every job I applied for. And the places I’ve worked (2) will take anyone with a pulse. Even a faint pulse is fine. The gas station has a big sign out saying they are hiring for $20 an hour.

      This advice does NOT hold for professional jobs, but for fast food/min wage jobs, it can help to walk in in person. I didn’t do this myself but people do it where I work and they get an application to fill out and are sometimes hired.

      1. doxapatrie*

        Yeah this is a bit weird, and given how unmotivated that son seems I’m wondering if something isn’t off

    6. OtterB*

      If there’s a professor he likes in the culinary program, it might benefit him to talk to that person and ask about what kind of work experience would be helpful later. It may be that person won’t tell him anything different than you would, but getting advice from someone in the field may be more motivating.

      Could there be a problem with his availability? Some years ago my daughter applied for a number of food service jobs and didn’t get any of them because she was setting aside school hours and some existing weekend volunteer commitments and just didn’t have enough available hours for the places she was applying.

    7. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

      The line “We pulled our hair out trying to get him to DO SOMETHING” caught my eye. I don’t want to make too many assumptions about how things are with you and your son, but will share my experience in case it is useful/resonates with you. In my teens/early-20’s, the dynamic with my parents was that they push-push-pushed constantly for me to just “figure things out”, and it made me so exhausted and feel like such a failure that every day I woke up more unsure of what I was going to do with my life and with less energy to figure it out than the day before (I also graduated right into the recession, which added to the general sense of crushing despondency and helplessness). I second the other commenter’s rec for getting him some therapy– there is a nationwide mental health crisis going on among young people who lived through the pandemic, and he may need a chance to do some healing before he is able to be as fully functional as you would expect/hope based on his age. I would also say that if you are able to support him without him working during college, go right ahead and do that. Let him focus on making connections with mentors and teachers and peers– after the pandemic, human connection may be more of a kickstart for him then any job experience could be. Best of luck to the both of you– I know it’s hard.

    8. RagingADHD*

      IME from dealing with teens getting entry jobs, the advice about only applying through the designated portal and never showing up “old school” in person, is really only relevant to office type jobs. The application portals for retail and fast food are a total crapshoot.

      He can just pick a store/restaurant/coffee shop he likes or is convenient, go there and talk to a manager or front desk person about how to apply. If they insist that applications are online only (which is unlikely), he can ask if they received the online application he already sent. (They probably didn’t). The last time we went through this, she filled out a whole application on the portal, but all the manager seemed to receive was an email with her contact info. She had to fill out a paper application anyway.

      If he struggles with motivation, I think the best thing you can do is ask him about what he wants. Does he actually need money? Does he want/need things that money can buy? Getting him to talk about goals may surface underlying issues / discouraging thought patterns that could be undermining him.

      He doesn’t need passion. Nobody in their right mind is passionate about working retail or fast food. Perhaps that cognitive dissonance is getting in his way. The job is a way to get other stuff he wants or needs.
      When he finds out that he’s pretty good at something and people will give him money to do it, that goes a long way.

      1. HBJ*

        Yup, just show up. I’ve seen signs at multiple retail/fast food establishments that literally say, “We’re hiring Ask to speak to a manager/ask for an application today!” Or “come work for us. Open interviews, every Friday at X time.”

      2. Clisby*

        That is definitely true where I live – Charleston, SC (US). Now, it might be different here because there’s such a huge tourist economy, but food/beverage/retail places can’t afford to be too picky. I mean, if he were applying to be a line cook at one of the higher-end restaurants around here, he’d have to show some solid experience, but a server job? A hosting job? Nah, he’d have to show up reliably, looking presentable, and do the work.

        He (still in college) got his last 2 jobs by just walking in (during a slow period of the day) and asking the manager.

    9. Throwaway*

      parent of a 20-year-old here.
      I recommend the book “failure to launch” check it out on Amazon. breaks down how to help guide our kids to adulthood in a systematic way.

  43. Alicia*

    Dear colleague in my shared office: you are sneezing and coughing and blowing your nose, and you are not wearing a mask. We have a supply of free-to-us new masks in the next room. Our boss is perfectly happy for us to WFH when we are sick, and you know that my household includes someone at high risk.
    You can decide to work in person without a mask in these circumstances. But — why?

      1. I have RBF*


        People who come to work, in a shared office/open plan, when they are sick are dicks. I have been of this opinion for over 25 years, at least. Yes, I know, coverage, min wage, no sick time, yada, yada – I’ve heard it all. But it’s still a dick move. Even if he can’t afford to stay home he should at least wear a frigging mask.

        I don’t understand why so many people get all bent out of shape about a mask. It’s just a cheap piece of disposable filter that helps stop disease from spreading (not just Covid!). If it became a habit to wear a mask when you are sick a lot of sick time expense would be removed from businesses, plus less burnout for people in coverage positions, plus less health care costs, etc.

        I’ve heard all the arguments against masks, and they just don’t make any sense. I spent almost a decade in environmental chemistry and safety. Masks are like Tuesday to me. They are a thing that does a job, not a political statement.

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Dear boss, my colleague in my shared office has chosen to come in while sick, and is coughing and sneezing. I will be packing up my things and working the rest of the day from home so that I can avoid absorbing the germs that could gravely affect my high-risk household member.

      1. Alicia*

        Hah… I did leave the room and set up shop in a conference room instead. I probably should raise it, to reduce the chance of it happening again, but I just don’t have the bandwidth for a discussion with either colleague or boss.

        1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

          That works too. And feel free to be as passive aggressive you want when someone wonders why you’re not by your phone.

    2. cncx*

      In Before Covid times I had a part-time colleague who also had WFH in her contract, so her schedule was WFH 2 days, come in 2 days, off one. She had no front facing or coverage responsibilities, and the days weren’t set in stone due to her outside responsibilities or office responsibilities.

      Yet it never, never failed she would come in sick to be a hero like “hey I’m powering through this” when this was literally 2016 and flex WFH was written in her contract. She gave me the flu, like influenza not a cold, and I know we’re all infectious disease experts but like trust me when I say it was her (I was at her desk fixing a computer problem for about an hour that day). My job has always been onsite by design and except for the mandatory lockdowns I’ve gone in.

      We’re literally three years into the pandemic, most companies have ingrained wfh, I don’t understand why people who get paid either way would come in sick now and especially why TPTB don’t tell them to go home. Even if home is worse, that doesn’t trump the right of the people who have to be there to a safe workspace.

      And don’t get me started on the inability of people to see masks as the courtesy they are and not some political statement.

      I’m mad on your behalf, truly.

  44. onewing*

    I am currently trying to conceive, and as a queer woman married to another woman, we are using donor sperm. It turns out that this process is a lot more complicated than I expected, requires working with a fertility clinic, and involves approximately 1 million tests, appointments, and specialists. In addition to the time spent at appointments, this is taking up a significant amount of my mental and emotional energy, and I know my work is suffering for it.

    My question is, I want to let my supervisor know that this is going on and affecting me/my work, without actually telling her that I’m in the midst of fertility treatments (particularly since it’s looking increasingly likely that all this time and energy spent may not actually result in my getting pregnant!). She’s lovely and very empathetic, and generally I’m fairly open with her about medical and personal stuff, so while I know the general advice is to be very vague, “I’m just dealing with some medical stuff” seems uncharacteristically abrupt, and I can’t just breezily say “it’s all routine, nothing to worry about,” since it isn’t, and the fact that it’s affecting me and my work is part of what I need to communicate. Does anyone have any suggestions for scripts?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      This is my best attempt at a script, feel free to use/adapt/discard as needed:

      “Hey, [boss], I want to let you know that I have a minor medical thing going on so I’ll need to sporadically take time off for appointments. It’s nothing for you to worry about and should be cleared up in [a few months/a year], I just wanted to give you context some for why I’ll be taking time off and also some of my [mental/emotional] energy may be tied up in this so I may seem a bit off at work [before/after appointments (if true)]. [If have strategies to mitigate this, or want your boss’s help to develop some, mention that here.]”

    2. Morgan Proctor*

      Yeah, just lie. You don’t need to be 100% honest with your employer about your personal health. You absolutely can say, “Hey, just wanted to let you know that I’m dealing with some on-going medical stuff, it’s routine, nothing to worry about.”

      Your boss is lovely and empathetic, but she’s not your mom. You don’t owe her honesty when it comes to things that aren’t the work you do for her, even if you have been more open in the past. It’s possible you can mitigate the expectation of total openness by bringing this up first, before she has the chance to ask.

      1. Mephyle*

        Lie? Not really. Telling part of the truth isn’t lying. Nothing you suggested saying would be untrue, nor would it even be misleading. It’s honest, and it’s all the employer needs to know.
        Onewing can honestly say “it’s nothing to worry about” because it’s nothing the employer needs to worry about. As for “routine”, it’s not routine for her and her spouse, since it’s their first time, but it’s surely routine for the specialists, who have done it many times before.

    3. WantonSeedStitch*

      This is the script I used when I was thinking I was going to be starting IVF treatments:

      “I wanted to give you a heads up that going forward for a while, I’m going to be undergoing some medical procedures and testing that will likely result in my needing to make appointments on short notice, and on some occasions I may need to take a day off. It’s definitely nothing to be concerned about—my health is fine—but I wanted to let you know about this before I need to start scheduling stuff. When I have the option, I’ll do my best to make appointments at times when it will be least disruptive to my work, but there may be some times when I don’t have much choice about it. I will, of course, let you know about appointments in a timely fashion and make use of the office vacations calendar, and I’m happy to discuss other ways to ensure a smooth flow of work in spite of the disruptions. I will also get in touch with [direct reports] to let them know.”

      You could add something like, “though like I said my health is fine, all of this is likely to take something of a toll on me mentally and emotionally, so if I seem a little off, that’s likely the reason.”

      If your boss is awesome, they will keep this in mind if your performance slips, and will come to you with a “let’s find a way to fix this together” approach rather than a “fix this or else” approach.

      I wish you the very best of luck with your TTC journey, and fingers are crossed for a safe and healthy pregnancy and delivery!

    4. WorkingRachel*

      I am also working on getting pregnant with donor sperm and I empathize on how much more work it is than I expected, and how frustrating! I hope things turn out well for you and your partner.

      The scripts others have given are good. If your supervisor is indeed lovely and empathetic, she won’t press you for details.

  45. Get Me Out of Here*

    Actually, I just realized I do have an actual situation where I could use advice – I became eligible for my new job’s 401(k) on February 1, and after going back and forth with the benefits team because for some dumb reason I couldn’t log in to the third-party provider, they finally got me set up around February 6. I immediately set up a pre-tax deduction that would maximize my company match (6% of my salary with a 25% match of that – so 1.5% match, which is ugh in its own right), and I got a confirmation that it was effective as of February 8. My first paycheck after this was on February 17, and there was no deduction. The pay period overlapped January, so I thought it might be a timing issue, and so I didn’t say anything. My next paycheck was March 3, and there was still no deduction. I opened a ticket with the benefits team, explicitly mentioning that I’m missing out on compensation every paycheck this isn’t resolved, and never got an answer, even after sending a follow-up on March 10 wanting it resolved before today’s paycheck. I got my paystub for today’s paycheck on Wednesday, and there was STILL no deduction. I added another comment to my ticket, and got a bland “We’re looking into this, thanks for your patience” response.

    Where do I go from here? I’m getting really mad about this. Should I bring this up with my direct boss? (He is apparently on a different retirement plan than mine.)

    1. Alicia*

      I would bring it up with your boss — but the framing is “I’m sure you can help me get this fixed” rather than “WTF, the HR team is incompetent and its screwing up my compensation.” The latter may be true but you catch more flies with honey….

    2. Morgan Proctor*

      Write an email to your boss about it and CC the head of your HR department. Mention everything you’ve mentioned here, including dates. Keep it cordial, like, “Hey, there’s been some misunderstanding here, can you help me sort this out?”

    3. Formerly in HR*

      If the % you selected was through a third-party site, not your own employer’s website, the employer might only receive information about those selections once a month. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have checked with the third-party after you raised the ticket. And by now they should have received the decision you made in Feb and apply it to its correct date. When you follow up, check if they’ll apply it from the date they received (so maybe some time in March) or the date you requested it.
      I was in a similar scenario a couple of years ago and after waiting and waiting to see a deducation I learned that I made my choice the day after das been sent by third-party to employer and then next batch missed me because of the period filters (it was considered I was included in the previous batch).

  46. Juniper*

    Does anyone else fine it alarming when a work environment is described as “fast paced” in a job ad? I don’t know if this is just job ad jargon… but some of them are at tech companies, which sometimes DO have toxic crap going on, like a lot of overtime, unreasonably short deadlines, etc. so I am wondering if this is a red flag or not?

    1. Looking for a change*

      Well, I just posted below with my own question. :) I am currently in the tech sector and at least the greater team I am part of would subscribe their mindset in similar terms. Issues around work load are a reason I am looking.

    2. Ms. Haru*

      I work in an industry that is considered “fast-paced” and it’s much more about why the role is fast-paced. For example, there are obvious reasons why event planning, news reporting, or working as an ER doctor might be fast-paced. But if it’s fast-paced for the reasons you listed above, it’s a problem.

      I always apply for roles that are listed as fast-paced, but make sure during the interview process that the company has stops in place from making it excessive. For example, do they have a strong project manager that can say no? If there is a crunch time, do they make up for it when there is more time for rest?

      I also think it depends on how well you handle stress. Some people love the chaotic nature of a fast-paced workplace, where I know others that feel sick just thinking about it.

    3. Onward*

      I work in a field that would be considered “fast-paced” but it’s because we work with a lot of regulatory deadlines, etc. that, if missed, would result in big fines.

    4. EMP*

      I think every tech job says that now. The industry likes to think it’s about innovation and progress. It’s so ubiquitous I don’t think it can really be a red flag, and I would try to figure out the deadlines and overtime issues separately when interviewing, but “what does fast paced mean to you/the company” might go over fine too.

    5. Juniper*

      Thank you all for the answers; I totally hear what you all are saying and it will be helpful if I get an interview at the place in mind. I have ADHD so “fast paced” can either be totally fine if it just means big deadlines (e.g., sometimes some pressure to complete deadlines keeps me on track) but in other jobs it has meant “chaos” and never being able to focus on my job because it typically results in my struggling to perform at my best when I get pulled in a lot of directions.

      The fact I can ask in an interview is good to know.

  47. Looking for a change*

    I am actively job searching due to some changes to the scope of my role, increasing micromanaging from my boss and a couple of overall work culture issues.
    I would like some advice from people who had to stay in a job they no longer liked while job searching and how they managed both their expectations for and their emotions around their current work and team.
    While I have absolutely no intention to do that, I recently felt very tempted to just state that I did not care at all and was on my way out. Any ideas how to channel that in a productive way for oneself and one’s job search are welcome.

    1. Insurance*

      This is probably not a healthy way to handle it, and useless if you do t have employer-provided health insurance. Years ago I was job searching and had to stay where I was for similar reasons. Every day on the walk from my car to my office I’d recite this mantra (sometimes out loud): Kiddo needs health insurance.
      I found recite it 102 times on the usual walk.
      It sounds ridiculous, but it helped. No matter what they threw at me that day, if I survived kiddo had health insurance. I was working to give kiddo health insurance, being shouted at by jerks to make sure kiddo had health insurance, etc.
      At the time, I was basically the only wage earner in our family, so I was actually keeping us fed, clothed, housed, etc, but the health insurance was my motivation.
      Is there one thing that you can use to motivate you to just keep grinding away, grinning and bearing it?

      1. Looking for a change*

        I definitely used the rent in a similar way in a min-wage job with shouty customers.
        Insurance thankfully would not be an issue in the short or medium term right now. Finances are still a reason why I am cautious though with cost of living being what it is right now.

    2. Employee of the Bearimy*

      I go back and forth with whether my current job is “worth it,” and during the rougher periods I’ve said to myself, “It doesn’t matter what I WANT the job to be, because I can do what the job IS today.” That seems to help.

      1. Looking for a change*

        Part of my frustration of course is the unpredictable nature of job searching itself. You don’t know how it will turn out until you succeed and in the meantime gotta live with the uncertainty.
        That mindset shift does help some days, true. I just steadily work my way through my to-do list and try to set longterm considerations aside for the moment.

        1. Employee of the Bearimy*

          I hear you on the uncertainty! I’ve more or less suspended my job search for now because there aren’t a lot of roles in my area that match what I want and I was starting to get a bit desperate in what I was willing to apply for. But I don’t want to end up somewhere and be unhappy all over again.

  48. Gerald of Rivia*

    One of my staff got reprimanded by another manager over something nonsensical today and I’m fuming about it.

    My employee wore an orange dress today. The manager in question was upset and said one of her employees was upset because this was some kind of slight against the Irish due to Saint Patrick’s Day. (The employee who complained is Irish)

    I should clarify that we do not live in Ireland or in a country with a large population of Irish people. Saint Patrick’s Day is not a holiday here either formally or informally. It is not observed or celebrated in any way beyond a bar or pub maybe having a sale on beer (and even then most here do not care enough to do it). My employee is not Irish nor is she even from Europe. She has worn this dress to work many times before.

    I’m planning on address it with our director when he gets back from his vacation next week. He manages both me and the other manager. I’m just flabbergasted that she thought it was okay. My employee didn’t even interact with either one of them today. She was confused and then upset and nearly in tears over being shouted at. I didn’t even understand what the problem was myself at first.

    I’ve let her go home for the day. I have told her she did nothing wrong and that this will be addressed. I’m just fuming that the other manager thought this was appropriate. My question is for my employee should I be doing anything else?


    1. rayray*

      This is absolutely ridiculous. I am glad you plan to address it with this person and that you dealt with the employee with such kindness.

      The complainer and the manager are completely out of line.

      1. rayray*

        also, is the complainer *actually* Irish or just a descendant of Irish people? Genuine question.

        1. Gerald of Rivia*

          I believe she is Irish. But I am not completely certain as I don’t know her well enough to say.

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Thanks for having her back and letting her just go and get out of the toxic.

      No one should be reprimanded by Not Their Manager for the “intent” of something that they have done without being given the grace to at least discuss whether they had that intent in the first place.

      And the complaining staff member should also be addressed. What’s the nature of their affront? Do they truly believe that they are being disrespected by a garment, or are they just getting themselves wound up? Because perhaps they need some reminders of being able to be professional around a garment color one day a year, or they can participate in some honest discussion about why this particular situation is of concern so that both parties can know whether there was intentional injury, or if some education is order so that it doesn’t happen in the future.

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      As a teenager and in my 20s I wore orange deliberately on St. Patricks day. It was intended to be offensive. Now that I am older I just ignore the day. It’s possible that employee who is upset about it is familiar with the divide. The flag being orange for Protestant, green for Catholic and white for unity is the shortest way to explain why all green american st patricks day is offensive to some.

      Employee who unknowingly wore orange should not be in trouble though. Sounds like a talk for HR for everyone.

      1. Gerald of Rivia*

        Just to provide some context: We are not American. My employee isn’t Protestant or Catholic and as I said almost no one pays attention to Saint Patrick’s Day here (or dresses in green or decorate or celebrates or anything). No one here even knew it was Saint Patrick’s Day until the other employee complained.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          Also (and I say this as someone with Irish Catholic heritage) does the complaining employee not acknowledge that Irish Protestants are also, well, Irish? I’d totally understand getting offended if it was a holiday exclusively for Irish Catholics, but otherwise, no.

      2. Angstrom*

        Look up “Orange Order” for context on why an Irish Catholic might have been upset if they thought wearing orange was a deliberate choice for the day.

        It absolutely does not make it acceptable that your employee was reprimanded for something she wasn’t aware of.

      3. Agnes Montague*

        Thank you for explaining why orange would be an issue! My guess is the employee who wore the orange dress is completely unaware of such colour associations (and may also not have noticed it was St Patrick’s Day, either).

        I’m in Canada, so my first thought would have been something to do with Every Child Matters (though Orange Shirt Day is in September).

    4. BellyButton*

      That is ridiculous! Did she really shout at your employee? I wouldn’t wait until the director is back, I would talk to that manager.

      I think you have handled your employee well, letting them leave, maybe check in with her later today and let her know you have a plan in place to address the inappropriate behavior from the other manager.

    5. Irish Teacher*

      I am Irish and have sometimes intentionally worn orange on St. Patrick’s day, not to be offensive, but because I don’t have any green clothes and orange is, after all, on our flag so it has some connection to Ireland, even if it’s not the national colour (fun fact, the colour traditionally associated with St. Patrick is blue).

      The issue with orange is presumably related to the fact it stands for the Protestant unionist community in Northern Ireland. The point of our flag is green for the Catholic native Irish, orange for the Protestant unionist community and white for peace between the two.

      And honestly, St. Patrick arrived in Ireland long before Christianity split into the modern day Catholic and Protestant churches and actually, there is no evidence that he travelled the full length of the country and the area he is known to have done his work in? A lot of it is now Northern Ireland and home to those the orange colour stands for.

      I wonder if the employee who complained might possibly be a Catholic/nationalist from Northern Ireland? If so, then the situation there is somewhat different than in the Republic. Any kind of national commemorations can get tense up there and it is possible they would have experienced hostility to St. Patrick’s day from those of the orange tradition. Actually, I just googled and last year, the leader of one of the unionist parties complained that the celebration of St. Patrick’s day in the US by Joe Biden, etc was insulting to those who are unionist or British.

      That said, she should still recognise the difference between say a member of the Orange Order and somebody from a country where it is unlikely they have much particular awareness of St. Patrick’s day happening to wear orange.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I would say it’s totally reasonable to expect people in the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland to know all the nuances and controversies around celebrating St Patrick’s Day. But it’s less realistic to expect people in Canada or the US (even those of Irish heritage) to have the same level of awareness, just because they’re not steeped in it every day to the same extent.

    6. WantonSeedStitch*

      This is ridiculous. I live in Boston, which has a large population of people of Irish descent. If someone scolded my employee for wearing orange on St. Patrick’s Day, I’d think that someone was entirely out of line.

  49. Not a salesperson*

    How to politely decline to make cold calls? I’m asking for my wife, who does mainly graphic design but also a bunch of other miscellaneous stuff (small company). Her bosses now want her to cold-call potential clients and it’s just not a type of work she ever wants to do. What’s a diplomatic way to refuse this?

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

      As a graphic designer, I sympathize, but there probably isn’t a way to refuse if they have decided to make it part of her job. She can point out that she isn’t well-trained for sales and probably not their best choice, but she may have to have a plan for them countering that they still expect it and if she won’t or can’t, they’ll have to let her go. I’m guessing if they’re having the graphic designer do cold calling instead of producing product (revenue), they don’t have enough business.

      Just a word of caution, in my 30-year career as a graphic designer that’s worked in-house, a small bit of freelance, and agency, there’s never been a job with zero calling. I’m either calling around to current and potential vendors, or current or potential clients. Writing up a script and having a FAQ sheets on hand helps.

    2. RagingADHD*

      “Hey Boss, sales isn’t a skill set that I have. You don’t want me on the phones, because I’m going to be far more valuable to you using my strengths like graphic design. After all, that’s what you hired me for.”

      It’s worth a try, but as Pay No Attention pointed out, it might not work if their minds are made up. At that point, she would need to decide whether it’s worth playing “chicken” over and seeing whether they would rather make other arrangements for the calls, or hire someone new to do her job.

  50. slowingaging*

    Back in the day, boss’s used to have a keeper who provided all the documentation and interface with the rest of the work world. Cleaning up the mess the boss’s who are allowed out in the work world without keepers is exhausting. Sigh, I miss the keepers.
    The truth is that some people have skills, but cannot/do not integrate the information well into business systems. From a co-workers side this causes havoc and costs the company money. The keeper method was clearly cheaper. Fortunately, our boss is moving on… I wish his future co-workers well. Trying to come up with a better plan for handling future co-worker/boss that have this work deficiency. I think KPI’s for systems, audits and forcing all documentation into systems … reasoning cybersecurity expectations. Back to the serious world

  51. new year, new name*

    Can I get a clothing gut-check from someone in New York City?

    After three years of mostly-remote work in a field where you could wear jeans to the office even before the pandemic, I (a medium-sized mid-thirties white woman based in the DC area) have reached a level of DGAF with my wardrobe that I am — literally — mostly comfortable with. For in-person conferences/meetings where I need to be “professional” I have been tending toward a black knit blazer with a blouse and bootcut dark jeans. The only times I have put on dress pants in the last three years has been to go to lobby meetings in Congress, but even those are mostly remote now.

    I’m going to an all-day meeting in Manhattan where I am an invited speaker representing a large nonprofit with a kinda crunchy, nerdy reputation. The rest of the participants will mostly be nonprofits, engineers, and local/state government. Am I ok with my blazer-jeans uniform or do I need to step it up and wear real pants?

    1. rayray*

      I’m a 30 something and more accustomed to casual wear in the workplace. I don’t have any expertise in what you should wear, but one option you could consider might be ponte pants. They look like dress pants but often come in a more comfortable and stretchy fabric.

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Real pants. You’re an invited speaker.

      But you can wear the softer, comfier kind.

      1. Ginger Baker*

        ^This, the ponte pants mentioned above are what you are looking for here. (As an attendee, the jeans would be totally fine!)

      2. new year, new name*

        Yeah, I have been meaning to get some of those! My main only experience with them is from several years ago when they looked way more like yoga pants. Unfortunately the meeting is on Monday :)

    3. 1234ShutTheDoor*

      There are folks who will care, and if you think their opinion matters, wear the pants that other folks have been suggesting. There will also be (likely a majority of) people who wouldn’t bat an eye at your suggested outfit. If it were me, I’d go with the sort of thing I normally wear.

    4. BellyButton*

      At the end of March I will speaking at an event where I know everyone will be very casual and in jeans. I have opted for a trouser cut dark jean, a white blouse with a boat neck, and a blazer. I think it elevates me enough to honor the role of being a guest speaker, but doesn’t make me too over dressed.

    5. Morgan Proctor*

      Jeans are “real pants.” Wear your normal blazer/blouse/jeans outfit. That honestly sounds plenty formal, especially if the wash of the jeans is dark, which you’ve said it is. You can class it up a bit with dress flats or heels, but you can also rock clean sneakers. In 2023, that is plenty formal for anything outside of actually being a politician or big law.

      1. Rinn*

        Jeans ARE real pants AND it’s not like they are men’s dungarees from 1920 or something. There are thousands of cuts and colors and types of denim fabric that exist now especially for women.

        But more importantly there aren’t really a lot of other pants out there for women that look as nice as a moderately overpriced pair of very dark wash skinny jeans. Or whatever cut fits you in a flattering way.

        If I wore most any of the women’s “work slacks” that I see in stores instead of smart looking skinny jeans, I’d go from looking like a very young 52 to a frumpy going on 60-something.

        I don’t understand these people that are actively against “jeans” and I wonder if they even realize what it is they mean.

    6. AnonyAnony*

      40s woman from NYC here, who presents as an invited speaker semi-regularly: I say wear real pants. I do notice NYC already rapidly came out of the COVID-induced relaxed dressing phase in the last year. If you wore jeans, there is a decent chance you would get there and realize your hosts and attendees are more dressed up than you. But if you wore real pants, it eliminates the risk of being too under-dressed.

    7. The teapots are on fire*

      If your dress pants are that much less comfortable than jeans, I would suggest you just get new ones and maybe a bigger size. All my dress pants have a relaxed cut or stretch fabric that qualifies them as “secret pajamas.”

      1. Rinn*

        See, secret pajamas and ponte pants actually look not great on a lot of people myself included. The thickness of denim gives a much cleaner line which actually calls less attention to my pants than soft pants trying to masquerade as business slacks.

  52. teaandcookies*

    Hello! A friend is interested in a possible career change to instructional design. They don’t have a formal education background but have worked in education settings. They also have graphic design, illustration, video editing, and great writing skills. Would anyone in this field have suggestions on first steps? It sounds like there are a lot of different settings where this job can take place, and we are having trouble narrowing it down, though they would prefer a stable job with a company over freelance work. It would also be amazing to be able to find someone for an informational interview, or even to shadow someone to see what their day to day is actually like. Lastly, would training be the best way to start? Building a portfolio? Is there a place where they might be able to find real-world practice projects? Many thanks for any suggestions!

    1. BellyButton*

      She has a good foundation, but will need to know the software that Captivate and/or storyline. She can also look into the instructional design certification from ATD. Almost every single industry has instructional designers- from compliance training, to in house learning. It isn’t just about technically being able to put together a video, I need my instructional designers to also be able to create and write a lot of the content, put together test questions, etc.

      1. teaandcookies*

        Thank you! Is this particular software widely used enough that it’s pretty likely to be worth learning it now?

        1. BellyButton*

          Yes, Captivate and Articulate- Storyline are the two most common software to used in North America.

    2. Hermione Danger*

      She might also find it helpful to read “The Accidental Instructional Designer” by Cammy Bean. It’s a useful introduction to the field.

  53. Mkwalker*

    I have a question for those of you in elementary education. Is it common for teachers and staff to collect money for a gift for the principal? At my school this came up recently – I received an email asking for a suggested contribution of $20 for a gift for our principal’s milestone birthday. In the end the amount collected was around $1000, which I consider a sizeable amount. I have read here on AAM that gifts should flow down but I am fairly new to the field, so maybe this is the norm?

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Yeah, no.
      Maybe for a retirement gift, especially if there was a party involved, but not for a birthday. Ridiculous.

      Perhaps you could donate a $20 receipt from the last time you bought basic supplies so that you could do your job.

    2. Former Gremlin Herder*

      Not in my experience! We did cards for our principal and people would sometimes give small individual gifts around the holidays, but nothing like that. We only ever did collections for staff who were going through hardship or who were welcoming a new child, not leadership.

    3. Glazed Donut*

      No. Although I have found plenty of people in education enjoy buying gifts/organizing parties-recognition-type-occasions for principals. It has always felt very kiss-up to me. I politely decline every time.
      The *best* principals don’t encourage or expect this behavior.

    4. Maple Bar*

      Absolutely not the norm anywhere I’m aware of, but I have also seen that there is wildly different gifting culture around schools depending on where you are in the US (if that’s where you are). So maybe in this particular place / district / school this is a thing people always do, but it’s weird as hell either way.

    5. Mkwalker*

      Thanks for the feedback, I feel more comfortable declining or ignoring the emails. I did feel that this was an awkward thing to do and yes, I am in the US. I suspect that there are employees who are closer to the principal and probably started the collection to kiss-up.

  54. Becky*

    I turned down a job, and I need a reality check on whether this was the right thing to do.

    This company seemed to really want me. My manager lobbied for me to get a significantly higher salary to match my current wage, as well as a higher title I mentioned I’d like to achieve. This was all a very positive experience and I (still) think we’d have been great together.

    Where things went off the rails: in the phone screen, the recruiter (who dropped balls on several things) told me the company offered X days of non-bankable PTO, which was less than I’ve had in my last 3 jobs. When I got to the offer stage, I asked for X+5 to bring me to where I am now, and was told no one in the company gets more than X. I wasn’t thrilled with that, or with the level of some of the other benefits, but I really wanted the job, so I decided to let it go.

    When I got my offer letter, it said I was “eligible for PTO” but did not say how many days. I asked for clarification that it was X, and could that be put in the offer letter. I got a reply saying that they “typically” allow “up to” X days, depending in part on employee performance, and that they never put that in an offer “because it could change at any time”. That set off all kinds of alarm bells.

    Last year, I took a job with a different company where I was verbally promised something that Old Company refused to put in writing and later reneged on, which resulted in me losing my job. New Company knew this, knew it was why I was looking, and knew it was why I was (self-admittedly) extra thorough and diligent in making sure everything was documented – a plus in my line of work, which an executive commented on in one of my interviews.

    To boot, I went deep in my email archives and dug out old offer letters from all the companies I’ve ever been offered jobs with. Every single one had salary, bonus, PTO, retirement, etc. spelled out in the letter.

    And yet, I turned down a great job with a manager who really wanted me and advocated for me during the hiring process. I’ve thought “it probably would have been fine”, but I thought that last year, too, and it wasn’t fine.

    Do I need a reality check? Is refusing to spell out certain benefits typical?

    1. Looking for a change*

      Your gut reaction was negative, you did not only ask for clarification, you also compared the current offer to previous ones. I think you did everything right here and that meant in this case declining this offer that was unlikely to turn out well for you.
      Or in Picard’s words “It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose”. I am sorry it did not work out.

      1. Becky*

        I’ve never heard that Picard quote – thank you! That might get sticky-noted on my desk.

    2. ecnaseener*

      Yeah, that sounds like they’re deliberately refusing to commit to PTO at all. I wouldn’t be worried if they included a benefits packet that spelled out a PTO policy (I’ve had that in lieu of the offer letter specifying), or even if they said “CURRENTLY you get X days but that could change” that wouldn’t be as alarming as what they said here.

      1. Becky*

        I did actually get a benefits packet that didn’t mention PTO in it. The actual policy, I was told, I’d get when I onboarded. Which of course led me to ask myself why they’d do that…

        1. doxapatrie*

          Oh, my gosh, you were so smart to walk away from this. Consider your sanity checked. I feel very bait-and-switched on my current job’s PTO (advertised as unlimited when applying, and then found out there were not-very-generous “general guidelines” that basically everybody adhered to and were even displayed like balances on the PTO system[!] as such. All the minuses of having one bucket with none of the plusses of banking, paying out, and rollover). PTO is so important for our sanity. Something was rotten in the state of Denmark. Good for you honestly.

      2. The New Wanderer*

        That is so weird to me! There have been times that I didn’t know until the offer what the PTO policy was, but every company I dealt with was clear about it by that point. I can’t imagine a company just … not telling you exactly how many PTO days you get until you start working there, and making it sound so ambiguous. Even companies with objectively stingy policies are pretty up front about it, so what is this company’s deal?

        I would not accept a job where there was a strong possibility that I wouldn’t have PTO to use as I chose. The whole “depending on employee performance” clause makes it sound like they treat any days off like a bonus, not like an expected part of compensation. Or worse, that they withhold PTO as punishment for poor performance, which is also not how that works.

    3. Employee of the Bearimy*

      I think you absolutely made the right call. A good manager can only go so far if company policies are set up to take advantage of you (and it absolutely sounds like these are). PTO is easy to be flexible on, so the fact that they wouldn’t means that they’re making a choice.

      1. Becky*

        Re: PTO is easy to be flexible on…I’m of the same mind, especially at an org that doesn’t allow it to be rolled over. I get it; bankable PTO (usually) creates a liability that has to be paid out when an employee leaves, and they don’t want to do that…okay, fine. I just want to make sure I can take time off!

    4. irene adler*

      Any decent company has an employee manual which goes into the benefits (PTO, health coverage, etc.) the employees are entitled to receive. Your gut did right by you.

      (ask me about the time where headquarters learned that one of the branch offices was denying their employees all the benefits stated in the employee manual-by keeping the manual from them. Headquarters was not pleased about this.)

      If a company won’t state their PTO policy or is squirrely like this one, you can bet that other compensation/benefits are going to be handled similarly. You don’t need that.

      You can ask to read the employee manual. They may balk and say that it is for employees only. You can ask to see just the sections on compensation, benefits. If they balk at that as well, then you know they are hiding something. Scram!

      1. Becky*

        They actually did tell me everything was spelled out in an employee handbook, which I would receive when I onboarded! I kept pushing for details because I wanted to know what I was getting before I made the leap, and I got the feeling they were getting frustrated by me asking so many questions. But after what I went through, I can’t risk it anymore.

        I did talk with a networking contact who has been there a few months, and they had very positive things to say about the company and the WLB. I just couldn’t shake the feeling that if I took the job I would be outright ignoring red flags.

        1. Employee of the Bearimy*

          FWIW I’ve been struggling to get some of my own colleagues to understand that the job market is different and we need to do more to make candidates feel good about working for us. I had to override one of my own direct reports who didn’t want to disclose a salary range for a position and then couldn’t understand why we couldn’t get people to apply.

          1. Becky*

            I think they maybe thought that the salary + title were enough for me to feel good about working for them, and that did a lot, honestly. I just didn’t understand why something like PTO would be the dealbreaker – not even the part where I asked for more, just them putting in writing what I thought was their standard.

            I even told them I didn’t plan to use all X (or X+5) days every year, and that it was more about *having* the time if I needed it. At one point during covid, I had accrued something like 6 weeks of sick time and 4 weeks of vacation. It was nice to know that I had enough leave to cover a moderate illness without having to worry about sacrificing a vacation later in the year.

            Good for you for overriding your report! I’m sure that was a difficult conversation, though.

        2. irene adler*

          Ya know, I do a lot of interviewing. And the one commonality is the interviewer bending over backwards to list -in detail- the benefits they offer. Lots of quantitation in this respect.

          Maybe this place likes to bestow PTO hours to those ‘deserving’ of some time off. So they really don’t have a policy that states “3 weeks the first year, 4 weeks the second year”, etc. Not suggesting this is a good practice. It’s not.

          The networking contact may not have the same values you have in terms of being open and aboveboard. Maybe they feel they have been ‘bestowed’ with enough PTO to fit their needs.

          Trust your gut.

    5. epizeugma*

      I would have turned it down too. If they’re being that squirrelly about withholding basic information about benefits while trying to win you over, imagine what other info they might decide to keep from you when the honeymoon was over!

  55. ecnaseener*

    What is with recruiters refusing to give you the job description until after you agree to a phone call?

    I mean, I assume it’s that they want to sell you on the job and are afraid that if you get to read the JD you’ll say “no thanks” before they get a chance to deploy their salesy tactics at you. But us there something else going on, like they think you’ll google it and find the posting and apply separately? You could still do that after a phone call if you wanted to… and the salesier the recruiter acts, the more I want to avoid him lol. (I won’t, I won’t.) Or do they get paid by the phone call?

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

      1) yes, they think you’ll google it and find the posting and apply separately
      2) they might think you are a competitor recruiter and you’ll try to steal the account
      3) There’s no job description because they don’t actually have a job opening, they are just gathering info on job seekers so they can solicit a client with “we have X number of Llama Herders looking for jobs in our database”
      4) their job metrics are probably based on how many calls they make or how many names they add to their “potential candidate” database.

  56. NaoNao*

    Job search “Groundhog Day”, need help:
    I’m a woman in a highly, highly male dominated space (92% male) so when recruiters see that on my resume they often get excited and that’s fine! But I want out of this field for several solid reasons (among which is the culture, which is not changing any time soon) but the pay is about 30% or more higher than comparable jobs elsewhere.

    As an example, a recruiter called me yesterday about Job A, pays just over 6 figures. Problem is it’s the same job I’ve struggled with and had to leave twice in 18 months now. Same field. I’m honestly not sure I can ever succeed in that role–I was working my tail off in those other two roles and still flamed out.

    My other interview leads are offering rigid W-2 contract work for just over half that salary, and often require M-F in office. And no benefits.

    Any other women in this position? I’d specifically like to hear from you. Either tips on navigating a heavily male dominated “heritage” field (meaning not emerging tech) and/or how to leverage the experience into a more friendly field.

    1. Ashley*

      I would think hard about the parts of the job that don’t work and what if anything you do. Is it really just culture or the role? If it is culture and not a role try looking for a WBE, a firm with more women, or maybe even the government equivalent of your role. Also what about the culture is driving you away? If it is a role with external interaction would you be ok with the male dominated problems you are experiencing if internally you were supported? If you will flip if you are ever called a girl again it may be time to leave. If you can be called a girl by a customer while then having a supportive boss who knows that is inappropriate that may be ok. (And I know some women who don’t let stuff like that bother them at all and I still haven’t figured that out… and am often disappointed they won’t help fight it.)

      1. NaoNao*

        That’s a good question and good food for thought. I’ll drop some anonymity to be more clear here. It’s construction. The main issue is that I’m on the support/enterprise/office side and there’s this subtle…attitude that engineers and craft and field have around people who aren’t engineers, or mechanically or construction-inclined. I’m not handy. I’m not strong in math, spatial processing/reasoning, engineering and the like. In fact I’m exceptionally weak in those areas. However I’m really good at the job they *do* hire me for, but that job is not given respect or consideration by engineers, trade, craft, and field. And I’m not convinced that’s going to change.

          1. Rinn*

            Actually I should be more specific. I’m in the same field but I am in a technical role (drafting). Is there some type of technical role that you could see yourself in? Because while there is still an imbalance there are places where it won’t be so bad. Don’t sell yourself short on the aptitude. You might be surprised if you try it out–in a setting without a bunch of men standing over you! I know this isn’t the type of forum but if it were I would say I’d love to be more helpful directly. I do love what I do and I would love to see more women in this field.

    2. ferrina*

      I’m a little confused. Are you telling recruiters that you aren’t interested in this field? What field are you looking to move in to?

      Recruiters will sometimes call with jobs you aren’t interested in. That’s true for every field (frequency will vary based on demand in that field). Best you can do is be clear on what you are looking for, say no to opportunities you aren’t interested in and reiterate what you are interested in.

      1. NaoNao*

        Sorry, I’ll try to fill in the blanks.

        I’m interested in almost *any other field* than this one (construction/heavy civil). I’m not saying I’m not interested as “no job/no income” is not an option for me right now and if the only job that makes an offer is in construction, it would be financially irresponsible to not take it.

        I typically have no issue saying no to “hey, Enterprise Rental is looking for desk agents for $15/hr” type deals, things that are way outside my skill set, price range, etc. The issue here is this is the same job I’ve been doing for 18 months and the pay is just over 6 figures. That’s pretty hard to casually wave off!

        1. ferrina*

          It sounds like you are currently employed, but you are looking because you dont’ like this job. Unfortunately, switching industries will likely come with a pay cut.
          Switching industries is also much easier when you have an area that you are targeting. Sometimes an opportunity will fall in your lap, but that’s less likely to be a recruiter and more likely to be someone that is already familiar with your work (My latest industry switch was when I did a side project in X, and someone who needed and X Manager saw my work and liked it. Ditto most other people I know who switched industries- it started with some side work that related to the new industry).
          This will likely take time, research, and tailoring your resume for what you are going for (or if you are targeting multiple fields, having different versions for each field). If you need a job quickly, you could also find a job that is currently in your industry, but either allows you to do work that overlaps with another industry, or a job that can afford you the time/energy to get experience in other areas and invest time in job searching

        2. Hillary*

          Engineers’ attitudes sucks sometimes. Once upon a time an engineering manager told me to ask his report for something and when the report said no come back to him and he’d do it himself. I transitioned into operations roles that had less contact with those teams.

          I would start targeting related industries. Current suppliers and customers, manufacturing, non-civil engineering projects. Without details about your specific skill set it’s a little tricky, but one thing that might be interesting is industrial automation. The people in general are better to work with and demand is huge.

  57. Employee of the Bearimy*

    Any suggestions about how to handle an employee who isn’t a good “cultural” fit, even though everything else is great? I have a high-ranking direct report (I’m C-suite) who is very rigid and hierarchical in how she likes to communicate and make decisions, but our workplace as a whole is a very collaborative, “reply all” kind of culture (yes, I know that type of environment drives a lot of people crazy, but we make it work pretty well and it comes from the CEO so I don’t have any standing to change it). She and I have butted heads on several occasions because she doesn’t want me to ever talk to her direct reports or include them in program management conversations, and I find it frustrating to manage her differently than I manage everyone else who reports to me. Plus it means some other directors don’t like working with her because her work style is so different, so they tend to come to me instead. Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of support from my boss (the CEO) on addressing this, other than, “make it work,” and her actual work product is very good, so I’m not interested in managing her out if I don’t have to. So am I just stuck and need to accept that this is the price of working with someone who is otherwise a high performer?

    1. Bunny Girl*

      Next time you have a review with her, can you bring it up in a casual and open ended way? Like just that you noticed somethings seem to frustrate her and you’d like to know how you can help her fit in to how things tend to flow there. I think if you phrase it like that, she might be less likely to push back because you are saying that you have noticed this, but it subtly says this is how things are and it’s something she either needs to think about or adapt to.

    2. CatCat*

      Can you name it and nip it in the bud if it’s just really a preference thing? I think you’ve just got to lay out the cards on how things are done here and she’ll have to decide on her own whether she wants to stay knowing this is the deal.

      “I know you prefer that I don’t talk directly with your direct reports, but that isn’t how we do things here. Our culture is more collaborative than rigidly hierarchical. Therefore, if I need to talk to your direct reports or include them in certain conversations, I am going to do that. Do you have specific concerns about this approach?”

      And if it’s stuff like she wants to make sure she’s aware of workloads, planning assignments, and who is going to what, that’s reasonable and you can have a conversation about how to handle that kind of thing in this environment. If she just doesn’t like it, nip it in the bud. “I understand that is your preference, but that’s not how we’re going to do things moving forward. It’s not up for debate. If any specific work issues arise, we can talk about how to address them, but not that you just don’t want me or the company to operate this way.”

      You may also need to mention she can’t forbid or try and dissuade her direct reports from talking to you.

      1. Employee of the Bearimy*

        No, unfortunately I tried a more reasonable approach and she pushed back so hard that the CEO ended up stepping in to mediate (which wasn’t great for me). And he basically told us to figure out how to compromise and work together. She does know that she can’t keep her reports from talking to me, but she accuses me of undermining her whenever that happens.

        1. Chestnut Mare*

          She doesn’t want her direct reports to go around her to you, yet she’s OK with involving your boss when she’s unhappy with you? I’m not sure this relationship is salvageable, honestly.

          1. Employee of the Bearimy*

            Yeah, the irony is not lost on either me or my boss, but we both agree that it doesn’t rise to the level of managing her out. It’s easily the most frustrating part of my job, though.

        2. CatCat*

          This is really frustrating because the CEO doesn’t have your back in terms of letting you manage your direct report. Total brush off. This is where the lack a hierarchy as a cultural norm is backfiring on you. I can’t imagine what a compromise would be when there’s such a cultural disconnect.

          There may not be a solution beyond sticking to how you do things and if she accuses you of undermining her, just keep repeating, “Nope, not undermining you. As we’ve talked about many times, this is how we operate at this company.” And let her be mad about it. You’re in a bit of a no-win scenario here though :-(

        3. Friday Person*

          I don’t for a second imagine that pointing this out would help in any way, but it’s a little funny that her respect for rigid hierarchy and not skipping levels apparently stops right at the point in which it involves her dealings with anybody above her.

      2. AnonDirector*

        Hmm I’m pretty sure this approach would further escalate the conflict. It doesn’t sound like she is someone who will back down. Ironically, it also sounds pretty hierarchical and rigid for a supposedly collaborative environment.

        1. Maple Bar*

          In my experience, “collaborative, flat” management actually just means that you’re still supposed to do everything exactly the way the people above you want, they just don’t want to have to do any actual managing.

          So here, Bearimy has a manager reporting to them who is unquestionably causing widespread issues with her behavior, but she can complain to the CEO for getting feedback and thereby get Bearimy into hot water because the CEO had to pay attention to their own staff for five minutes. Asinine.

    3. ferrina*

      Look at the efficiency on this. Where is it a matter of efficiency, and where are her employees trying to work around her? What does she actually need to thrive, and how can you support her in that while still being able to talk to your own people?

      When it’s a matter of avoiding bottlenecks, explain to her that you aren’t going to create bottlenecks for the sake of hierarchy. Get her to collaborate with you on what she actually needs (transparency?) while not creating artificial barriers to the work.

      When people are working around her, that’s a problem. She needs to have insight and say on what her reports are doing, and if they skip over her, that impacts her ability to do her job (it’s also very “go to mom when you know dad will say no”). Don’t let her employees do this- loop her in. You also need to have a conversation with her about how part of her job is to be receptive to others, and work with her to hone that skill specifically as it relates to your company’s culture. If there are things she needs that people aren’t doing (transparency?), work with her to find solutions and promote her solutions. When she does things right, back her play and her authority.

      Finally, have set skip-level meetings with all of your GrandReports. I love skip-levels in general (bi-monthly or quarterly, usually), and it can really strengthen morale and help you catch issues early. Create a blanket policy that you do this for all your teams- it’s not something you are doing AT her, it’s just best practice.
      Good luck!

      1. ferrina*

        Oh, and start keeping documentation on what you are doing. You want a record of what you’ve suggested/tried and what her reaction has been. If she’s regularly accusing you of undermining her, that’s not going to be a long-term sustainable relationship, and it’s likely you’ll need to manage her out.

        1. Employee of the Bearimy*

          I’ve made it very clear to the CEO that I’m not doing the things she’s accusing me of and that she needs to move past this accusatory stance if we’re going to work together successfully. I’m pretty confident that he’s got my back on that, but in general he’s very conflict-avoidant so if I push this too hard I’ll get blamed for any fallout. So you’re right about more careful documentation.

      2. AnonDirector*

        I agree with Ferrina here. From an outsider’s perspective, it sounds like it’s a work-style culture clash ripened into a struggle of power and control between the two of you.

        I know you’re not deliberately undermining her. However IF you and her are each giving her report conflicting instructions and ideas, and/or overriding her decisions, then I can certainly understand how she would feel undermined, unvalued, and unheard. Hierarchy at work exists mainly for the purposes of decision making and workflow. If she is being bypassed on these when you work directly with her reports, then she might be feeling like “Why am I even needed here?”

        If her work output is very good as you said, that means she is probably doing a lot of things right. Sometimes paradoxically, the way to lead is to get our of the way of your well-intentioned and talented employees. If you’re in a “live with it” situation, can you assume good intentions in her part, make some adjustments to your own work style, and find ways to help her thrive?

    4. Goddess47*

      There’s a part of me that wants to know why you can’t talk to her direct reports. That’s something of a red flag to me that implies she’s hiding something. If you haven’t had a direct conversation about that, you need to. Decide ahead of time what you want to soften and what you do not want to soften. You are her boss, not the other way around. You’re doing something you don’t like (dealing with her bad-fit style), she’s got to do things she doesn’t like (you talking to her people).

      Having someone at that level that other directors don’t want to work with is also a concern. You’re doing her job by allowing them to work around her.

      Just because she’s a high performer doesn’t mean she’s doing her job well, if that makes sense.

      Good luck!

      1. Goddess47*

        Saw some answers that came in while I was posting…

        Sounds like you’ve already done some of what you can. I’m thinking you’re in a no-win situation with this person, so you have to decide if you can live with the attitude or not. At what point is her attitude detrimental to getting work done?

        And do those skip-level discussions! That sounds like it *is* culturally appropriate and lets the folk under her know you will listen.

        Good luck. You’re going to need it. (Sorry!)

        1. Employee of the Bearimy*

          Thanks! It does seem like I’m in a “live with it” situation, but I figured I’d ask if there were something else to try. Skip-levels aren’t often done here just because I’d normally have both levels in a meeting with me if it would be useful. So implementing them across my teams would just make extra work for everyone else.

          1. Goddess47*

            You don’t have to do those skip-levels more than yearly… it’s to ‘keep in touch’ with everyone and to give your problem-child’s reports an avenue to reach out to you if they need it. If she won’t let you talk to them, she’s not letting them talk to you… if you’re open and reasonable in a private meeting, that will go a long way to building good will! Unless there are hundreds of people, once a year shouldn’t be too onerous and can be helpful…

    5. Rex Libris*

      Have you tried being extremely direct that the culture there is simply very flexible and collaborative, and that isn’t going to change? Point out example x and y that illustrate ways you’ve seen her struggling with it, and simply say “I know it may not be your preferred style, but I need you to think about how and if you can work with this.”

      You can’t “fix” an employee, but you can point out the problem area and give them a chance to address it when you’re not in the middle of “butting heads.” See if they can’t have a calm and rational discussion about corporate culture and management styles when it isn’t coming on the heels of some emotionally charged disagreement. If they can’t, that gives you more info about their professional maturity and demeanor that may make it more obvious whether they can succeed in the role.

    6. The New Wanderer*

      Would it help if your CEO read the “No A-holes” book? This person is sounding a lot like the “brilliant jerk” that creates a real problem even though their work product might technically be excellent.

      The only other thing that came to mind is that if she is effectively isolating her direct reports (by acting as the single point of contact and trying to prevent you communicating with them), while every other manager’s reports gets included on collaborative meetings and emails, she is doing them a real disservice. Has this caused any clear work problems?

      FWIW there’s a manager here that fits your description – compared to other managers, this one is much more of a micro-manager, plays favorites, and controls the flow of information in and out of their team. Their direct reports have ‘lifelines’ to peers in other groups so they know it’s pretty unique to their group, it’s isolating, and it affects the balance of work distribution. But they’re also frustrated because they can’t do anything about it. Several people have considered leaving the group or even the organization.

    7. Jobbyjob*

      Sounds like she is a senior leader and to some degree that means it’s her prerogative to set the culture for her organization, as long is this doesn’t outright cause major issues. I get that her people may take some time to adjust but both you and them should approach it with an open mind (rather than trying to make her style exactly fit your own). You can nudge her in the direction of less hierarchy over time but as you’ve seen pushing hard just makes her resist and feel you are trying to take away her power. Don’t do that.

  58. Lalaith*

    People in tech – how bad is the job market out there right now, with all the recent layoffs? I would specifically be looking at front-end web development, but probably not ramping up my search for another month or two.

    1. 1234ShutTheDoor*

      Every job posting I see is asking for mid- to senior levels of experience, unless it’s an internship or one of the handful of companies that don’t pay market rates and just churn through entry level employees.

    2. Nicki Name*

      Not *too* bad. Everyone’s slower to get back to you, but there are still plenty of companies hiring.

      (I was searching primarily for back-end/full-stack jobs, but had to weed a lot of front-end listings out of my searches.)

    3. TechManager*

      It’s the worst I’ve experienced in my 7 years in the industry. There are jobs but they have thousands of applicants. Many open roles are being outsourced. You will get a job, and I wish you luck, but it will probably be a harder job search and a less prestigious company and compensation than you would have in 2021.

  59. Kay*

    Any tips on how to ask for a promotion? We don’t have a set review schedule and it’s not like “X left and so now we’re promoting someone into that spot”, more that I’ve been taking on higher level work and would like to formalize that.

    For context, we’ve had a ton of turnover at the top recently for perfectly normal reasons, which has given me lots of room to grow but also means I’m not sure the old job descriptions apply under the new boss. There’s only one person who’s gotten promoted from my level, and that was a weird half step promotion because of a unique project he runs. I’m definitely doing comparable work, but his promotion itself came out of a very different type of conversation so I’m not entirely sure how to make the ask. Any advice would be much appreciated!

    1. ferrina*

      Step 1- Give your boss a head’s up that you want to talk about your future. “Hey, I’d love to talk about my future at this company. I’m going to put some time on your calendar for next week. Sound good?”

      Step 2- Be clear in your own mind about what you want and what you bring to the table. What responsibilities are you looking for? Is there a title you have in mind? What skills do you have? This won’t be set in stone- flexibility can help- but it will help you be aware of your worth and your vision for where you want to grow. At some companies there’s a clear path to follow, but sometimes you’ll have flexibility to make your own path.

      Step 3- Tell your boss what direction you are interested in going in, and ask what you need to do to get there. You can directly say “I know a lot of things have changed recently, and I want to understand how that impacts my future.” Don’t say “I deserve this”. Say “How can I make this happen?” That way if there are key things your boss is looking for, it makes them easy to say. It becomes collaborative, where you and Boss are working together to craft your future. If there’s something Boss says that you disagree with, you can always say “Hmm, let me think about that.”

      Step 4- After your conversation with your boss, set aside an hour to reflect. (Usually not the immediate hour following- I like to do this a few hours later, so I can let the initial adrenaline fade). Was your boss’s plan reasonable? Were they realistic? Do you trust them to advocate for you and look out for you? Sometimes the outcome of this conversation is the realization that your boss won’t advocate for you (or if they accuse you of being uppity or arrogant for daring to think beyond your current role), and that’s good information to have so you can do what’s right for you.

  60. Nervous question*

    I have a question that might very by field but curious if anyone has some sense of it.

    I support a project I LOVE full time. Great culture, super fulfilling.

    Unfortunately I also manage one person on and do very minimal support for another project that makes me sick with stress and that’s ripe with toxicity (approximately 20 hours a month or so).

    In both I am a consultant working with people from other orgs, the person within my org I manage is great.

    I want to ask to be moved off the project I am seriously struggling with because I love my company and primary project, I don’t want another job but it’s making me miserable!! I’ve been with my company for three years and have always been a very strong performer and willing to be flexible and work more than 40 hours a week. I am willing to use all my capital on this. Except…. I have recently asked for gotten a significant raise (about 7%) and been granted full time WFH while I work through medical issues. Given that, is it a bad idea to ask if I can possibly be moved off the difficult project and down to working just full time?

    1. ferrina*

      Depends on your manager. Some will be annoyed, but a decent manager will want to know about this (even if their ultimate answer needs to be no).

      To make this easier on your manager, explain the impact of the project and give some example of how toxic this is. Sometimes the manager is far enough removed that they don’t know how bad it is. If it’s impacting your work in other areas (taking more time than anticpated, etc), tell your manager. Propose an alternate solution if necessary- if taking you off the project will cause repercussions, what’s the best way to minimize that? Make it easier for your manager to say Yes.

  61. A Becky*

    Calling all GERMANS: I have an interview next Thursday, and I’m going to be nearly 8 months pregnant (and I definitely look it lol).

    I know it’s not legal to consider pregnancy in hiring decisions, and I don’t anticipate outright questions, but I kind of want to reassure them that I won’t just be immediately disappearing for a year the minute I’m hired – I’d want about 3 months full time Elternzeit and then another 10 months on 20 hours (Dad would take the same, so we’d have “coverage”.)

    Also, can I get away with pregnancy jeans (very dark), an open suit jacket and a nice-ish off-white blouse? Because I don’t really want to buy new clothes just for an hour.

    Thanks <3

    1. Employee of the Bearimy*

      I can’t speak to the question about how to bring up leave, but for your outfit I recommend buying pregnancy dress pants. Everything else should be fine.

  62. ConstantlyComic*

    I’ve been working on a long-term project in a specialized area of my workplace for over a year now. Over that time, the focus of the project changed slightly, although the process stayed the same. Recently the supervisor over the specialized area (not my direct supervisor) was talking about adding a new hire to the project. I am very gung-ho about this idea, as I’ve enjoyed working with the new hire in general and would love an extra pair of hands on the project, when the supervisor was explaining the project to the new hire, she described it as having a different focus entirely. The way she phrased it to the new hire would actually require a different process to what I’ve been doing, so now I’m not sure whether I have to go back and see what of the previous year’s work needs to be redone to match the new focus or if I should just keep going forward.

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      Can you just ask the supervisor to clarify? “When you explained the process to New Hire, you described it as X but it’s actually been Y. Do we need to change what we’re doing or should I work with New Hire to ensure s/he’s doing it Y way?”

      1. ConstantlyComic*

        That’d probably be the easiest course of action, but I feel like I’ve been falling behind on the project recently and am concerned that a conversation about the focus shift might move to that (admittedly there’s probably more than a little anxiety and impostor syndrome going into my concerns).

        1. Not a Real Giraffe*

          What if you stated the miscommunication as fact instead as an opening for change? “When you explained the process to New Hire, you described it as X but it’s actually been Y. What do I need to do to get her/him aligned with the correct process?”

          I totally get how anxiety plays into this — I have been here before, too! In my case, I was able to explain why Y was the better approach and squash any ponderings of switching to X before they got too far down that road.

          1. ConstantlyComic*

            That might work actually… the new hire has experience with a similar project from her previous job, so I could frame it as a way of working her experience into the project going forward.

  63. JustMe*

    Was it martyr-ish of me to go back to work after a fainting spell?

    At the time I didn’t think anything of it, but I was reading Alison’s initial response to the question about crawling at work (it could come across as “martyr-ish” to continue working when you cannot walk due to a migraine) and it made me wonder if this was the same. I was giving a presentation for a different department at work (for example, I’m in teapot HR and I’m telling the teapot packers about their benefits) about six months ago and fainted in the middle. The causes aren’t totally clear, but I think it was a combination of menstruation and not eating that day (it was a lunchtime talk and I was planning to eat afterwards). This happened sometimes when I was a teen and in my early 20s but is the first time in my 30s. The paramedics were called, I had some apple juice, but after a bit of time I felt better, got something to eat, and went back to my desk to finish out the day. I didn’t tell my colleagues in the moment, but a few days later I confided to some of them that that was what happened. They were all aghast that I took the rest of the day off, but I’m relatively new in my role and still feeling out the culture. Plus, I really DID feel better! Did I…commit a faux pas or set a bad precedent by just going back to work?

    1. rayray*

      I personally wouldn’t think too much of it. I also would probably be asking “Why didn’t you just go home?” more out of concern for your wellbeing and comfort though. I could see if you felt recovered and felt fine to continue, that’s not martyr-ish. I would consider it martyr-ish though if you were clearly really miserable and unwell – crawling around, going back and forth to the bathroom, or just really clearly visibly sick.

      I think it’s important to take care of yourself, and I encourage it with everyone. You certainly could have gone home, but if you felt okay and you weren’t complaining about how you felt while trucking on, I wouldn’t have judged you as a martyr.

    2. ecnaseener*

      I think you’re fine. If I were your coworker, my reaction would probably also have been “omg you didn’t need to stay, you should’ve gone home and rested!” but if you said you were truly fine I’d believe you – a fainting spell can pass quickly.

      It’s different from the crawling thing because if you’re crawling at this moment, you’re visibly not okay. Sort of like if you were still in the middle of your fainting spell and trying to work.

    3. Angstrom*

      There are plenty of not-so-serious reasons for a faint or dizzy spell — dehydration, low blood sugar, temporary low blood pressure, etc. If you were medically cleared and felt better there was no reason to not resume work that felt comfortable.
      Orthostatic hypotension — getting dizzy/fainting from standing up suddenly — is not unusual and is normally not serious. It’s actually more common with folks who are aerobically fit and have a low resting pulse/BP.

    4. Irish Teacher*

      A colleague of mine had a similar situation a number of years ago. She fainted, stayed at work and even did a presentation that afternoon. I was concerned about her, mainly because she didn’t look well while doing it, which is a bit different from your situation, but I definitely didn’t think of it as martyrish. Just “I hope she’s all right.”

      I don’t think you did anything wrong and honestly, as a new employee, I don’t think you were setting much precedent. I mean, I don’t think people are especially looking to you and thinking “well, she didn’t go home so clearly the expectation here is that we won’t.”

    5. shaw of dorset*

      Co-worker of mine got light-headed at work, fell, and conked his head on the lab bench. Paramedics came and patched him up, but he went back to work after that because he was fine.
      I don’t think it was martyrish at all for you to go back to work. Especially considering light-headedness due to low blood sugar is easy to fix.

    6. ItBetterNotBeACactus*

      I think of it as martyr-ish when someone complains/comments on about it, but won’t actually leave. If you’re all “Yeah, that was weird, but now I’m fine.” vs “Oh yes, I fainted this morning and the paramedics came and worked on me and were sooooo worried, but I had this presentation to do, so I just couldn’t go home. I mean, I only feel a little woozy. Sit down? Oh no, I don’t need to sit down, I mean, I’m fine now. But those paramedics were ready to put me in the bus and I wouldn’t let them, ha-ha.” (puts hand to head and sighs dramatically).

    7. RagingADHD*

      This is kind of a weird line, but did you actually fall on the floor, or did you get all fuzzy and whooshy-around-the-ears, and need to sit down and put your head down?

      I think if you blacked out and hit the floor, you should go home and if you don’t, people will think you’re trying to be a hero for some unknown reason. If you just had a “sinking spell” without fully losing consciousness, then finishing the day after a break seems like a reasonable choice.

  64. LMC*

    I’m starting a new job search for the first time in 8 years, and I’m a little out of the loop. I just created a LinkedIn profile, and I’m a little bit torn about adding a picture to it. It sort of feels like including a picture on your resume, which obviously no one does in case of discrimination. But everything I’m reading basically says that a picture is required. Is it one of those things that you just have to do to “play the game” and better your chances? In case it matters, I’m looking for jobs in the accounting field.

    1. Ashley*

      You could add a picture from your city or something generic like a waterfall, or maybe a calculator for an accountant? IME something there is better then nothing.

    2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I don’t think it’s required per se, there are good reasons why people don’t and I wouldn’t expect it to be a significant problem if you don’t, but having a pic on LI is the norm. I just scrolled through my 500 contacts and only 10 didn’t have a face pic & 3 of those are retired.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Not having a picture on Linkedin gives a bad impression — that you are a bot, a scammer, or someone who is extremely out of touch with norms.

      Sorry, but that’s how it comes across.

      Linkedin is not just a place to post your resume. It is a social network. The other good reason to include a picture is so that people you know IRL can be sure they have the right person when they connect with you. The search results are so truncated that they don’t always give enough information to know for sure whether you are the LMC they know, or one of the other fifty LMCs who popped up.

  65. Adrian*

    It’s been three years since Covid remote work began. Do you think people are more aware now, of the more practical reasons they can’t necessarily work 100% remote from somewhere else?

    Last year someone I know, Devon, approached a former employer about coming back. They had left long ago, to return to their hometown in another state. The employer has no business presence there, nor is the state one of those with no income tax. Eventually Devon took a similar job with a hometown firm.

    I wonder if Devon had remote work in mind when they contacted the former employer. It’s hard to believe they didn’t already know about the business presence and tax issues, at least. And their background isn’t anything the employer would make an extra effort to get.

    Devon’s example involves just the most basic reasons. We’ve since learned of many others, like cybersecurity constraints and variations in employment laws between different states and different countries. Once again, something being technologically possible doesn’t mean it’s logistically feasible.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I think in general, yes, more people are aware of logistical reasons why remote work doesn’t necessarily mean “work from anywhere in the country/world.” I had no idea what a business nexus was or why it would stop someone from working remotely from a different state (in the US) back in 2019 but I know now (because I read AAM). But more people knowing doesn’t mean all people knowing.

      1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        Agree. Further, I don’t think I’d know if it wasn’t for AAM specifically — I’d simply think companies had weird or unreasonable rules based on their preferences.

    2. Alicia*

      I think that people are more aware of barriers — but I don’t see a downside to shooting their shot, even though barriers exist. I don’t see it as rude or out-of-touch unless more happened than we read in the post. If the former employer said “we’d love to have you back but you’d have to be based in State X” and Devon responded in high dudgeon, that would be weird.

    3. DEJ*

      Plenty of people still don’t know about barriers that exist to remote work. Someone wrote in to this blog at the end of November (‘my boss won’t let me move to another state — but I’m remote’ from Nov. 15, 2022), a place where these barriers have been discussed fairly extensively, not understanding why they couldn’t just work remote.

    4. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I think that you overestimate how well most people know about state-to-state barriers. I’d guess that this is a special problem in the US, since we have a lot of ‘invisible’ barriers that don’t affect most people (you don’t have to get a passport or anything to move or travel from state to state, we have systematic set of currencies, same language, etc) so people don’t consider that there are barriers to businesses.

      It also depends what field you’re in. I’d expect an HR person at a mid-size firm to be much more familiar with the intricacies of business nexuses, taxes, and other key challenges to multi-state businesses. I wouldn’t expect a foreman for a construction company to know any of it. There are a lot more people I would expect to know little to nothing about barriers (because their jobs have never involved them) than I would expec to have an in depth understanding.

      1. 1LFTW*

        I’d guess that this is a special problem in the US, since we have a lot of ‘invisible’ barriers that don’t affect most people (you don’t have to get a passport or anything to move or travel from state to state, we have systematic set of currencies, same language, etc) so people don’t consider that there are barriers to businesses.

        This is a really good point. There are a handful of professions where licensing-type requirements are a legitimate barrier to working in another state, but the majority of the workforce doesn’t work in those jobs. I can understand why someone would think, “I can write computer code from anywhere, and it doesn’t require some extensive state licensing certification, therefore I can do Current Job from Other State, no problem!”.

    5. Marketing Unicorn Ninja*

      I think *some* people are more aware, but on-balance, I don’t think enough people are aware of it, frankly.

      I only became aware of it through reading AAM; I think unless you read a site like AAM or are in HR/accounting, you aren’t as aware of it as a barrier

    6. Maple Bar*

      I worked in a field where it was very common pre-pandemic for people to work 100% remotely from other locations, and to have teams split across multiple corporate offices in multiple places. That wasn’t typically considered possible by most companies or industries, and the pandemic caused a lot of them to realize that it’s often a lot more feasible than they ever previously considered. Some companies have adopted it, some haven’t.

      From your tone, it sounds like you don’t really like that employees want to do this more nowadays. But plenty of companies are open to it, and the only way to know that about a place you are considering taking a job with is to ask. Devon checked in with a former employer as one possibility during their job search, which you assume (don’t actually know) involved fully remote work, and you’re sort of derisively describing this as if they were demanding something foolish. All they did was inquire about a job at their former company!

  66. Flak Jacket*

    Been job searching for about 8 months. Currently employed, but looking to leave the City and move closer to family (another city, but a smaller one) So I have some parameters that I’m looking for in that it needs to be remote or based where I want to go. (While I don’t list my location on my resume, my cover letter highlights I want to move to that area – because my current workplace literally has my city in its name)

    I also want a smaller organization, potentially something a little quieter or at least with more of a work/life balance. (after hours is pretty much the norm for my industry, even more so with the shenanigans of my organization)

    So, I’m a little picky and willing to take a pay cut or a demotion if it’s the right place and a good fit. I’m also perfectly happy to make a lateral move. Not really interested in growing right now to be honest… I think I could live on this plateau for a while.

    And while I’ve had a couple of offers, they were both around $50K (I’m in my mid-40s, it was a bit too steep to take such a pay cut). And I’ve gone through a couple of 2nd rounds of companies or positions that I wasn’t really interested in or that were promotions (I’m not really looking to add more stress in my life at this time)

    And given that there hasn’t been much that I’ve been interested in or those that I did like weren’t interested in me – I’m starting to lose hope. Wondering if I’m being unrealistic and will have to bite the bullet and either stress about my finances or stress about work demands as there doesn’t seem to be a middle ground. It’s all become pretty depressing.

    1. KayTee*

      TL;DR: I picked the financial stress over work stress. It’s going just okay.

      I’m at a different career phase but recently made a move that sounds somewhat similar. I started in an entry-level job at a nonprofit after graduating college and quickly fell into several promotions that put me in a senior level position I wasn’t ready for, due to some combination of impostor syndrome and organizational dysfunction. A few years in, I was burning out and decided to take a lower-pressure position in my partner’s hometown. The work’s mission is less fulfilling, but I have much more free time. I’m higher-paid on paper, but cost of living is much higher, so I’m having to budget carefully for the first time in years. And to be honest, there are days I feel like I made a big mistake taking a “step back”, even though it’s what I wanted and set out to do. I think the grass is just always greener!

      However, the thing that really steered me toward this decision was a supervisor who regularly worked themselves into VERY severe burnout–I’m talking hospitalization level. For all I might stew over wanting comfier finances or a better title, it’s not worth my health and future.

      Best of luck–it sounds like you’re in an incredibly tough spot, and I’m rooting for you to make the right choice!

  67. Need a Mental Break*

    Has anyone taken FMLA for burnout? What documentation/’proof’ did you need? Was your therapist able to fill out the documentation or did you need a medical dr involved?

    I’m burned out and having a meltdown/crying at least once a week. I started therapy a few weeks ago but I guess that’s not long enough to see improvement. My manager will not reduce my workload. That’s just not how this management works.

    1. Onward*

      Do you have HR at your company? I would talk to them about what leave options are available through them. FMLA requires some kind of doctor’s note, but I’m not sure what they would accept. If they require a medical doctor’s note, you could go to your primary care and describe your extreme stress to see if they would write you a note recommending a leave of absence.

      1. Need a Mental Break*

        In the past when I’ve needed FMLA/STD for child birth etc. HR wasn’t helpful and just directed me to the company its contracted to. I can try checking out their website

    2. J.B.*

      I got my doctor to write me 3 8 hr days and 2 4 hour days for intermittent FMLA. I wish I could have taken full time off though because not really recovering from burnout (I’m now going half time no benefits).

    3. Nespresso Addict*

      I have done this. The paperwork required a doctor’s signature. I was seeing a psychiatrist in addition to a therapist because I needed depression/anxiety meds, so I asked my psychiatrist to sign off. I was really nervous to ask her but based on her response this is not at all an unusual request – she was happy to do it, as she could see how burned out I was herself.

    4. The teapots are on fire*

      One way to approach this is to see if you can get admitted into an intensive outpatient therapy program, which meets five days a week, so that it’s almost a full-time job to get treated. It’s very easy to justify FMLA for this, and you may recover more quickly.

      I hope you feel better soon!

  68. Prospect gone bad*

    I work with somebody who is a disaster in many ways. Our industry is going through a lot of changes and so is our company, and it’s coming out to other people, finally, that she doesn’t do much besides sit in meetings and forward emails and generally be curt with people that she views as below her

    My team is done with her. I don’t have time for her nonsense anymore (Which is either her trying to delegate her job to my team or her turning a tiny problem into a huge project and trying to hire a bunch of external parties to work on it, then my staff complaining about it, stuff like that).

    So now we have this weird dynamic or everyone thinks I’m being passive aggressive or doing malicious compliance simply by treating her like everyone else instead of babying her. As in, treating her like a competent professional and actually expecting her to do her work instead of doing it behind her back, makes it look like I’m throwing her under the bus, because she’s been shielded from doing a lot of work and hasn’t been held accountable for years.

    It’s so weird and feels unfair but it’s a fascinating social dynamic that we need a word for.

    It’s also fascinating to see the competent people we fire for much smaller things but then see someone who hangs on by a thread for years because they didn’t blow anything up, because we look at each error or oversight in isolation, instead of taking total performance into account

    1. BuildMeUp*

      She sounds like the workplace version of a “missing stair.” From Wikipedia:

      The missing stair is a metaphor for a person within a social group who many people know is untrustworthy or otherwise has to be “managed,” but around whom the group chooses to work by discreetly warning newcomers of their behavior, rather than address them and their behavior openly.

      Something that often comes along with this is that when someone tries to fix it – or even acknowledges that it’s missing/broken – other people are often so used to working around the missing stair that they view the fixer as being in the wrong.

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        Wow I am flabbergasted in a good way that there is a term for this! Thank you!!

        1. Rinn*

          But why does this happen?? *yells to the sky* But seriously I have seen this at workplaces and I just never understand it.

  69. The Wizard Rincewind*

    I know about Allison’s magic question for interviews, but is there something similarly insightful for the pre-interview phone call with HR? It’s much easier for me to ask specific questions about the role/team, but generally the recruiter who’s screening you doesn’t have that info. Are there any recruiters/HR people out there willing to talk about what they want to hear from candidates in that first screening call that tells them this person is taking it seriously and would be good to pass along? I’ve gotten several of these phone calls but never progressed beyond there, so I’m getting frustrated.

    1. NameRequired*

      Not HR but I have done a lot of these recently –

      I always asked about follow-up logistics (note: a shocking number of people either straight up lie or ghost you after explicitly telling you that they won’t ghost you), and also asked something along the lines of “what are the qualities you are looking for when you’re filling this position?” which is perhaps a bit on the nose, but it is information that they likely have and demonstrates that you are interested in learning about what they want.

  70. costello music*

    In the same vein as the interview question from yesterday.

    I’m actively job searching, as I’m not a fan of my manager and frankly, am not making enough money. But I work with the public and have a strict schedule which is normal for my field (think like a park district or library). I can’t flex time, it’s literally impossible to work from home, and I also only have so many sick days that I do sometimes need.

    What do I do if I get an interview somewhere? This is my first full time job. Before when I was doing part time, it was so much easier to either fake call in sick or schedule interviews before/after work. Do places have interviews after like 5? Just accept my fate I’m stuck here for the time being?

    1. Bunny Girl*

      Most places won’t do interviews after 5 if they are outside of the normal business hours. What I normally do is try to get the interview as close to my normal lunch time as possible and just go over my lunch. You normally don’t need a full day for an interview, but can just tell your manager that you have an appointment and ask if you can either take a couple hours of PTO or if you can just go over your lunch.

    2. Area Woman*

      For an interview that is just a few hours, I say that I have an appointment. Ideally they don’t get nosy about it, and can assume its medical even if you don’t say. Either that or something like, taking care of a home issue, which would be less of a lie since you’re not saying you’re sick.

    3. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      Some will offer early/late interviews but sadly it’s not as common as it should be. You’re not stuck, lots of folks are in your shoes and do get new jobs! It sounds like your situation won’t change in the future, so this is a situation you have to manage now or later and it might as well be now. That doesn’t mean it’s not really stressful to lose a sick day or tap dance around why you need time off! It is a lousy situation to be in.

      For some reason I find it earlier to make up an excuse to come in late than try to leave early. I explain less and don’t have to worry about being unable to get away in time.

  71. Justme, The OG*

    Is it normal for someone at work to make a comment about pinching you becasue you’re not wearing green today. I know the answer to this but want to know if this is as bananas to everyone else.

    1. Irish Teacher*

      I’m in Ireland where it would be utterly bananas and I don’t think most people would even know what the comment meant.

    2. Warrior Princess Xena*

      So juvenile. I don’t know why people would feel this is OK – I think if I ever pinched a coworker by accident I would be hideously embarrassed and and cannot imagine pinching them on purpose.

    3. epizeugma*

      It’s a bit rude and thoughtless.

      Depending on the relationship I had with the speaker I might respond with a “uhh, please don’t” or a “what is this, elementary school?” or even a deadpan “Hmm, I think that would be considered workplace violence.”

    4. I'm a terrible person*

      “And my cultural tradition prescribes a punch in the nose for being pinched for not wearing green. I’m so grateful that we are not bound by traditions that allow people to violate others’ spaces in violent and hurtful ways. Best to keep all of our hands to ourselves, don’t you agree?”
      Yes. I have actually said that. To various colleagues, above and below. Have not been pinched in decades.

    5. RagingADHD*

      Just joking about it? I don’t think making a silly comment about a silly thing is bananas. They just have a different sense of humor than you do.

      If they really did it, that’s wierd and not okay.

  72. JustaRando*

    I read this blog religiously and see so many posts about job seekers who were not publicly looking for a new job being “contacted by a recruiter” or where a “headhunter reached out,” in seemingly luck coincidences. And now that my husband has decided to jump ship due to the dreaded low salary and poor work/life balance combination in his current job, I was wondering how he can make that happen for himself. How do you get noticed by a corporate recruiter or a headhunter but also not let your employer know you are looking? Do you just email your local staffing agencies, do a google search for “headhunter,” get the premium LinkedIn account upgrade, or is completely random and nothing he can do to get himself noticed? Any and all advice for a late career job seeker is welcome…

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I have the standard version of LinkedIn and had recruiters reach out to me twice, once when I was not looking to change jobs and once when I was. When I was looking, I set my LinkedIn profile as “open to work,” which I assume made me slightly more visible to recruiters. I did not follow up with either recruiter (in the first case, I wasn’t looking to change jobs and in the second, I didn’t want to move to the city where the job was).

      My friend in a different field worked with a recruiter when they landed their first job in their field, and then reached out to and worked with the same recruiter again when they were looking to change jobs a few years later.

      My advice, based on my very limited experience, is to start with updating your LinkedIn profile and activating the “open to work” setting on LinkedIn to see if that spurs anything. Other commenters may have better advice for how to actively find and reach out to recruiters instead of waiting for them to come to you.

    2. EMP*

      I think it depends on the field. I have very specific software experience that pings some recruiter keywords. Even though I’m not set to “looking” on linkedin, that’s where they contact me.

    3. RagingADHD*

      You can set your linkedin profile to be “open” in a way that’s visible only to recruiters, and not to your current company. This is a standard feature, not premium.

      Yes, you can also contact staffing agencies if you know which ones handle your sort of role.

      I’m not sure why he wants to only be contacted by recruiters rather than applying for jobs? Is there nothing listed at his level, or something?

  73. No Tribble At All*

    What’s everyone’s best questions as an interviewER to screen for personality issues? My small team has had a bit of tension (some related to type-A person vs type-B, some related to ill-defined responsibilities) and we’re going to be hiring two more people.

    What’s the best way to ask “do you promise you’re not a jerk to your coworkers when they ask questions?”

    1. Bird Lady*

      I usually ask the candidate to describe a time in which they collaborated with someone with different priorities/work processes/ values. Or in the case, perhaps how they collaborated with another colleague or team with vaguely defined roles.

  74. Lipstick Lesbian*

    I work for the research department of a hospital and our mask mandate was just relaxed so we don’t have to wear them unless we are working with participants or in the main hospital. I amassed quite the collection of lipstick pre-pandemic and they’ve been collecting dust since then. I’d love to start wearing them again but wanted to get some opinions before I do so.

    My office is business casual and the team skews towards young women (we’re mostly recent college graduates around 25 years old, everyone at my level is younger than 30). There is a decent amount of self-expression allowed within “business casual” but compared to some of my friends in other fields our dress code is more conservative. I am sure that light to medium pink and nude lipsticks are fine, and I will definitely avoid my most unusual or flashy lipstick shades (the sparkly dark purple shade will not come out at work), but what about the shades in between that? I tend to feel like I look best in slightly deeper shades (medium-dark), and favor red, berry, plum and brick lipsticks. Would wearing a classic red lip in a professional setting be a faux pas? Again, the lipstick wouldn’t be visible during my research procedures because I’d have my mask on then. The only people that would see it would be my fellow research assistants that I collaborate with and occasionally my boss (who is a physician). Any help would be appreciated!

    1. Delta Delta*

      Lipstick fan here! Wear it in good health and happiness. You’ll be able to sort out what seems like too much (or not) by giving it a try. I have a dark plum shade that is definitely day-appropriate but I wouldn’t have thought so before I tried it. The worst that happens, I suppose, is you try one, it feels awkward, so you take it off for the rest of the day. If you need a lip scrub, make sure to have that with you. And also chapstick or other balm, in case you need to do color swapping.

    2. Ginger Baker*

      I’ve seen many (many!) bright reds and darker reds in my Very Corporate Office – on ALL levels of colleagues – so I would not worry even a little about it. Keep the glitter in your personal life and that should be more than sufficient.

    3. Bunny Girl*

      Pre-pandemic I wore reds quite a bit. I think the key is balance – if you keep your eyes neutral I think it reads more professional than “full glam.” If I wore red lipstick I would stick with just mascara and/or a light wash on the eye.

    4. Angstrom*

      I think One Fun Thing is usually fine. IMO, professional attire/makeup with one “fun” item/accessory/feature usually reads as professional with personality.

    5. Marketing Unicorn Ninja*

      I think all the shades you listed are fine! Sure, the sparkly dark purple should stay at home, but the rest? If you have the ability to pull those colors off, go for it. Life is too short to be boring, and as long as you look professional, it will read as just part of your work look.

    6. RagingADHD*

      Any shade of red, coral, and nearly any shade of pink or orange is fine. Maybe not neon pink.

  75. Ariana Grande's Ponytail*

    I am looking for validation or maybe even stories of this sort of thing working out for people.

    This week I started a new role in the gov’t org I’ve been working in for a few years. This was a move that I decided to make after growing a lot in my last role but seeing that growth level off while more work that was really outside my knowledge or skillset was added to my plate. At the same time, this week I also had to turn down an interview opportunity for sister org that would have been a big pay bump, more of the work that I intended to do in my like ideal career trajectory, and a switch from being an individual contributor to being a manager – the kind of role that I would generally describe as the type of thing I am aiming for in my career! The role I just started is an individual contributor role with a lot of opportunity for growth in both hard skills and just seeing other dimensions of my org’s work.

    Turning down the interview felt really hard because of the stuff I described above, but after a lot of consideration I just couldn’t bring myself to be excited about even the potential of taking that job right now because I am *existentially exhausted*. Without identifying myself, the past 5-10 years have included a lot of Major Life Changes for me along with the pandemic, and part of the benefits of the role I just started and am committed to staying in is that I wouldn’t be continuing on the rocket ship route and I expect to have a bit more work/life balance at least for a few years. But nevertheless part of me is worried that I am missing out on The One Opportunity To Do That Work and that I’ve made a horrible choice in choosing to have time and energy to be a human with sleep, hobbies, etc for the first time in a long time. Can anyone confirm that I’m not a dummy, there will be other opportunities, or maybe even that there are hidden benefits to taking more time to incubate as an individual contributor before moving into management?

    1. ferrina*

      Oh yes, I will support you in that!!

      I did the opposite- I was mentally and emotionally exhausted from certain situations, and took a job that paid higher for Reasons. It was so stressful. I developed depression and was exhausted by 2pm every day. I just wanted to take a two-year nap. I was so exhausted I nearly botched the role (even though it’s something I would normally be good at). I was able to move to another, less stressful role (thankfully they had another role that was a great fit form my skills), but I’m still recovering. It’s been over a year. I know I’m not at my best, and that’s frustrating. I am doing a lot better, and have even restarted some hobbies.

      Taking care of yourself is a smart move. Exhaustion isn’t a good lifestyle long-term. Resting is an investment in you. Once you’re recovered, you’ll be naturally better at your career- you’ll have more energy, creativity and able to capitalize on opportunities (instead of slogging). There’s a whole neuroscience behind this- read up on stress responses in the nervous system/brain if you’re interested.

    2. Jaydee*

      Here to say there will be more opportunities in the future if you want them. But…you might find you prefer a slower pace to your work, and that’s just fine too.

      Also, management is not for everyone. And even if it is something you ultimately want to pursue, not every management job (or whatever other category of job) is going to necessarily be a good fit.

      It is 100% valid to choose the career path that is right for you at any given point in your life instead of basing your choices on what you think you “should” be doing to “live up to your potential” or whatever.

  76. Hedgehoginthefog*

    I’m looking for some coping strategies when your boss is on a performance plan.

    My boss has been in their position for a year and hasn’t been able to get up to speed. I’ve been trying to mitigate the damage but recently there have been some larger mistakes and I think they may be on a formal improvement plan or heading that way. They’ve asked me for more support (increasing meeting cadence and documentation) and obviously I have to do it but I’m very burnt out from the last year of dealing with this and the trust is really broken so I’m looking for ways to cope in the short term? Has anyone here reported to a boss that seems on a path to being fired? How did you manage?

    1. Prospect gone bad*

      I think by mid career you realize you need to manage up, yes there is a hierarchy, but that doesn’t mean a manager is automatically all knowing and on top of everything. If I were you I just be dropping ideas on things for them to do.

      I’ve seen people in your situation sort of snowball the situation by assuming their boss is going to fail, and then acting accordingly. And it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy because then the low level people aren’t supporting the manager at even a minimum level.

      I think there’s a fear that the boss will magically improve performance if you help them at all, and then stay there forever. But I don’t think that’s likely in most cases. You can have an incompetent boss, be supportive to them, and they can still get fired by their boss for poor performance. But at least you’re conscience will be clean

    2. ferrina*

      I’ve been in the opposite spot- a boss that should be fired but never would be. It’s soooooo exhausting when you’ve been covering for your boss.

      First thing- set some boundaries. Find a way to mentally detatch. You’re burning out, and you need to have space to recover. Work less overtime. Say no and backburner things that aren’t urgent. Communicate any priority changes (so folks understand that you won’t be doing X because Y, not thinking that you dropped the ball). Then when you’re not at work, don’t think about work. It may be hard at first, but you’ll get better at it.

      If it helps you feel better (or if you’re not sure if Boss will be managed out)- start a low-key job search. Only spend a few hours a week. I set aside 2 hours on Sunday and 2 hours on Wednesday, and that was it. My goal was 1-2 applications per week. That way I had a fallback plan, but I didn’t have to invest a ton of energy in job searching (it also helped me set mental boundaries around job searching so it wasn’t as scary).

      Finally, set a timeline. At what point do you need your boss to be out? This should be based on your mental health, nothing else. There’s a limited amount of time to be expected to deal with awful situations. Set that limit, and once it’s passed, fully invest in that job search.
      I hope it resolves soon! This really is the worst.

  77. Anon for this - Negotiating on the Tenure Track*

    Hi everyone, thanks so much for your advice last week! I posted last week about my partner and I both getting promising tenure-track opportunities: my parter had an offer and I had a likely offer. This week, my offer went from “likely” to real!

    The parter hire negotiations have been tricky, though. My partner’s job tried really hard to get me a parter hire, and the dean refused. There’s some hope if I have “an official faculty offer,” so once my offer goes from unofficial to official (as in, from the dean), then we’ll try to counter. At that point I’ve been told I also have a 7 day countdown to decide, so still with the stress.

    On my side, I told the university interested in me that I’m looking for a partner hire and that my parter already has an offer, and they are looking into making it happen. He sent them all his application materials.

    Fingers crossed we have better news come next week! We’re really concerned about the situation where we both have offers but neither have partner hires… I suppose we’ll separate and tread water looking for another position for both of us.

    1. Warrant Officer Georgiana Breakspear-Goldfinch*

      Oh fingers crossed for you both, the two-body problem is such a nightmare.

    2. Midwest Manager*

      You can always ask for additional time on the 7 day countdown, citing the partner hire. It’s easier to extend a timeline than it is to move down the list of candidates.

  78. Lyngend (Canada)*

    I work for a large company. It’s hybrid remote. 1 day in office every week or 2. I’ve been here for 3 months now.

    At home I’m able to have 2 monitors and turn off my laptop screen (it’s too small for me personally. I’m near sighted so everything you see is smaller for when I’m wearing glasses. And my prescription is about -5.75 and -6.50)
    I find it much easier to keep track of the numerous pages/tabs/windows I need to have open (internet sites alone are 15 tabs on 3 windows) to efficiently do my job while using 2 larger screens vs 1 larger screen or the laptop screen plus 1 larger screen.

    But I feel like I can’t ask for a second screen because I am only in office a few days a month. Though we do have dedicated seating.

    So advice on if I should be able to ask for a second monitor.
    If I do ask and it’s a no, I have a work provided monitor at home, which I’d prefer to keep at home. But I could just move my pc back into my office and use that PC’s screen for both. So would it look bad if I offered that if the first request was a no?
    also I’ve seen people who are in the office every day (different department) using 2 monitors, do it is an allowed thing in general, just I’m part of a new department, and the first hired group in the area, so I don’t know what the expectations are of my team.

    1. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Ask! Monitors are not a huge ask, especially if there are other people using 2, and by the sound of it you have some grounds for a medical accommodation if you choose to go that route.

      1. Lyngend (Canada)*

        I don’t think my myopia would be covered by laws regarding reasonable accommodation in either the USA or Canada.
        I just included that for context and education.

        1. JanetM*

          I would agree with Warrior Princess Xena — monitors are pretty inexpensive (quick Google search says about $200-$300).

          1. Random Bystander*

            As far as that’s concerned–we were just going through getting new equipment and I saw the PO for my monitors .. I have 2 25″ monitors (plus the laptop–but that was signature required) and the PO included the two monitors, cords to connect both, a headset and keyboard & mouse, and all of that came in under $300.00.

            In other words–I support asking for the second monitor.

    2. Jaydee*

      I fretted over something similar, but I’d say to just ask. “My vision kind of sucks and the laptop screen is too small for me to use. I have two monitors at home and it’s perfect! Any chance I could get a second monitor here too?” The worst they can say is “No.”

  79. Sunshine Gremlin*

    This is going to be fairly long, I’m sorry in advance.

    I work in a wildly toxic environment. Without going into identifying detail, my title is far, far below my actual duties and I’m wildly underpaid for even that title. I report only to the owners, but my pay is on par with an entry level position and I haven’t had a raise in years. This situation has gone far beyond untenable. I promised myself that I’m going to move on this year and I’ve begun my job search. I’m being fairly choosey about what I apply to and I’m using the resume/cover letter advice from here on AAM.

    However, my imposter syndrome is getting wildly out of control because I’ve allowed myself to be so severely undervalued. Not to mention that I have a warped sense of reality due to how toxic my environment is and my coworkers all believe that they wouldn’t be treated “as well” at any other job… but we’re treated beyond poorly. I’ve found myself in a position where I’m looking at job listings for positions with significantly less duties than I currently have, that I am probably overqualified for (think they’re looking for 2-3 years of experience and I have 9+), but the salary range provided STARTS at triple my current pay.

    It’s leading me to paralyzing fear that maybe I’m not as qualified as I think or perhaps I’ve overinflated my ego in my current role. I’m getting anxious about applying for these roles and I have no idea how I’ll address the discrepancy between my title and duties. Also, the more I look at listings, the more it’s hitting me how poorly I’m being treated. I’m quite literally living paycheck to paycheck while running a company for the owners of the company.

    How do I learn to value myself enough to go for these jobs that seem almost surreal to me? And more specifically, how do I realistically determine which positions to pursue when everything seems so much better than what I currently have?

    1. Lyngend (Canada)*

      Therapy will help you detangle the toxic thoughts you have. So will getting a new job.

      Look for help from friends outside of your job for resume and job searching help. Not your coworkers.
      You are worth more than your current job makes you think.

    2. BellyButton*

      Interviewing actually helped me! When I was able to answer the questions with expertise and insight and saw that they liked my answers, it helped me remember that I am really good at what I do and those jerks I was working for didn’t know what they had!

      Just get out there and apply! Good luck!

    3. Hatchet*

      How to value yourself – I know there’s been discussions here of not overstating your official position (such as on email signatures or on resumes), but to get yourself in the right headspace, at home, can you self-assign a title that describes your duties at work? So if your current title is Teapot maker, but you’ve been performing as a Teapot Senior Designer, then remind yourself of that. List out all the specific duties that you do as an awesome Teapot Senior Designer – I bet a lot of those duties and responsibilities would line up with those jobs you’re applying for…. and be sure to list those skills on your resume and include them in your cover letter. (I would hope that interviewers would be more interested in your skills than your title. If it ever comes up, you can just neutrally send it back to your company “Oh, that was the title I was assigned, but I’m looking forward to using all these skills in a new Project Design role.”

      For what positions to pursue – I suggest looking at those skills/duties/responsibilities… what did you enjoy or feel more comfortable doing vs. what didn’t you enjoy/feel comfortable with. That might help you adjust your search.

      It sounds like you have a great skill set and some other company is going to be so lucky to have you! Sending positive thoughts your way!!!

  80. Notice Period*

    How busy should you be the last week of your notice period? For context in the role 2 years and low level support. I am thinking the person doing my role should be doing most of the work with me supporting and answering questions. I have made most of the how to guides already.

    1. Frankie Bergstein*

      Good question! I’m in the same spot. I have a lot of projects and no one to take them over, so I’m pushing things forward as much as I can to ease the burden of the person who takes it on. Once that’s done, I’ll probably just help out other folks — I want to leave on a good note.

    2. KayTee*

      Busy-ness came in waves during my last notice period (though my time off for Christmas and New Years fell in the middle)–some days I felt so overwhelmed I would never be ready to hand things off, other days I had nothing to do. If you’ve written your how-tos, emailed relevant contacts, planned or finished your exit interview, etc. you’re in the clear to relax a bit.

  81. yala*

    I saw a job opening for something that could be a really good fit for me–essentially, the thing I’m doing now, but with more of a focus on areas that I’ve always been interested in. And it’s like…I’m tempted. But it’s in DC.

    I’ve had a couple of friends up and relocate because a Good Opportunity came along this past year, but I just don’t think I can do it. I hate the idea of not being by my family. And I tried the “go to a city where I don’t know anyone” thing for about half a year out of college, and I…I was really bad in it. And it was in possibly my favorite city in the world, with loads of things to do, but I just got so ridiculously lonely, and so depressed I barely left my apartment for a solid week when my contract finished up. I had a great time and I’m glad I did it, but also glad it was always intended to be temporary.

    But I’d feel like such an idiot for not applying. But if I did, and by some wild chance actually got the offer, I’d feel like an even bigger idiot for declining it. But…I really don’t think I want to move. But also, like. I can barely afford rent here with a housemate, and if he moves, then I’m really up a creek.

    1. EMP*

      It’s fine to decline an offer you don’t want to take, but I wouldn’t put yourself through the process if you absolutely know you won’t take it. That said, moving somewhere permanently as an adult and moving somewhere for a temporary post-college position are definitely different things. Not to say they aren’t both hard and require similar skills, but if you know you’re moving for good, does that make you more likely to find the coping skills and work to make connections in the new city? Are you in a better place now with networks and friends than you were then? It may be a different experience.
      Re: the housemate, you can find a new housemate, that’s something people every day. I wouldn’t base your decision on that hypothetical.

    2. ferrina*

      Don’t do it. You’re not an idiot for knowing what you want. You know where you want to live, and you’re happy there. You wouldn’t be happy in DC. Is this job worth that? Don’t let someone else tell you what you want or don’t want. (I say, as someone who learned that the hard way)

      (also, seconding the housemate being a red herring. People move. You can find another housemate, or find another place. If he moves, you will find a way. It won’t be fun, but you’ll make it happen)

    3. RagingADHD*

      You are setting up a false binary between taking a job very far away from your family, and being broke forever. That’s not the choice you’re faced with.

      You saw a job listing for what sounds like a cool job in a city where you don’t want to live. It’s not a good fit if you don’t want to live there!

      By the same token, you might find more prospects if you widened your search radius a little bit. How far out could you move and still see your family, like, 75 percent as often as you do now? What kind of job prospects are in that radius?

    4. WorkingRachel*

      It’s okay to not want to move! I think a lot of Americans, particularly upper middle class white Americans (not saying that’s your identity, it’s just mine), have normalized moving across the country for jobs even when it takes you away from friends and family. It is okay to prioritize your relationships over your career!

      On the other hand, if it really is something you want but you’re scared…I also don’t think that one short period after college is indicative of what it would be like to move to a new city now. It IS a lot of work to make new friends and create a life in a new place, and it takes a long time, but it can definitely be done!

  82. Warrant Officer Georgiana Breakspear-Goldfinch*

    I am currently cranky about a thing and could use a reality check:

    Professional conference was using a third-party vendor to handle registration/payment. 3rd-party vendor had an error on their end which prevented people from registering; at first they said they’d fix it and then decided they couldn’t, so the conf had to find a new vendor. This took …almost three months, I think. Registration opened yesterday, with a new vendor (EventBrite) and I have tried to register using two p-cards, and payment has been declined every time. In case it matters, I am in the US and the conference is in Canada, but I don’t think that’s the problem; EventBrite should be able to handle that, right? I have emailed the conference saying that a coworker and I are trying to give them money, can they reserve a spot for us?

    Secondarily, while I can use a p-card for conference registration, I apparently am going to have to pay out of pocket and get reimbursed for flight and hotel, and I am unreasonably annoyed about it. I know this is fairly standard, but given that we’ve had to delay our registrations for almost three months, flights have gone up a lot and I am not happy about floating what is a lot of money for me on my credit card. (I trust my boss to approve the reimbursement promptly, but we’re on a monthly pay cycle and I have no idea when the reimbursement would have to be “in” to get into the next paycheck.)

    How mad should I be and how much can I kick up a fuss about how stressful this has been?

    1. Ashley*

      Are there multiple people going? Someone else might be willing to put it on their card. I would turn in the expense report as soon as I have my flights but it is fair to ask for dates for that type of stuff.

  83. Dark Macadamia*

    I feel so discouraged right now. I started this job last summer and I’m unlikely to get hired back because of district budget stuff. All year I’ve been feeling like well, it’s okay if I didn’t do as great as I wanted, I’m learning the curriculum and now I have ideas for next year! But next year I’ll probably be learning yet another new curriculum somewhere else, feeling incompetent yet again because I’m more than a decade out of grad school and still have a “new teacher” level of expertise. It feels miserable right now to know that ultimately I’m not going to have the opportunity to improve or try again.

    1. Glazed Donut*

      Hey there – I think *any* experience in which you’re leading a classroom alone is a wonderful chance to grow and feel more secure in your teacher experience. The first 1-5 years are often the steepest on the growth chart, so hang in there! I’m sure you’ve learned a lot about some behind-the-scenes skills (how best to collect and return work, how to organize the flow of a lesson from one bell to the next, how to set up desks for maximum collaboration or independent work depending on the lesson). The ‘last in, first out’ can stink – keep your chin up!

  84. Goose*

    Should I apply for a job I have no intention of taking? Linked-In showed me a job in my industry that in any other world I’d be interested in–but I’m super happy with my current role & team. The big upside is that it’s about 10k more than I’m making now on the low end. The worst thing they can do is not offer me the job, right?

    1. Lilith*

      Do you think you would take it if they offered it? If so, I see no reason not to go for it!

    2. EMP*

      It doesn’t hurt to start the interview process. Personally I haven’t done an interview in several years and am not feeling particularly rusty on interviewing skills – just getting that practice in is a benefit. If you really know you won’t take the job though, then the downside is wasting your own (and their, but mostly your own) time.

  85. Lilith*

    How do people decide between two competing offers, that on the surface look fairly similar? I’ve been offered a job elsewhere (was headhunted to apply, so wasn’t actively searching for jobs), and my current job has obviously heard that I’m sniffing round somewhere else and so have proactively come to me and offered a really interesting opportunity. The salaries and working conditions are nearly identical, and I am not planning on playing them off against each other.

    There are really big pros and cons on either side (which I won’t go in to, because they would be extremely identifying!), but I think it mostly boils down to staying where I know the people and the work, both good and bad, or taking a chance on somewhere new where it could be terrible but also could be amazing.

    What have would others done, or would do, in this situation? Did you stay in the safe choice, or jump?

    1. Temperance*

      Which org is more prestigious? I would lean more heavily towards whichever can boost your resume the most.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      I offered advice to someone trying to decide between two job offers last week, and I think it can apply to your situation too:

      One thing you can try is “deciding” you have chosen one of the opportunities (stay or go). You can flip a coin if you want to be “fair.” Spend a day pretending you have made your decision. How do you feel? Excited? Concerned? Regretful? Content? This technique can show you which way your “gut” is leaning. If you feel mostly positive, that’s the choice you subconsciously prefer. If you feel mostly negative, go for the other option.

      Another thing you can try is to map out your life values (both personal and professional). Then sort through the pros and cons of each opportunity and choose the one that supports your values the best. For example, if you value travel, the job with the most work travel, the most vacation time, and the higher salary would support that value and the opportunity to work on higher level work projects would have no bearing on that value (unless those high-level projects involve travel).

    3. A Simple Narwhal*

      Unless you’re super crazy excited about the new job (and without being able to weigh the good and bad for each), part of me thinks try out the exciting opportunity at your current job. It apparently was super easy for you to find another job to the point that it found you, and (unless that was a rare occurrence) if the new opportunity doesn’t play out it sounds like it won’t be hard for you to find another job.

      …And if the thought of turning down the new job makes you feel sad, then maybe that’s your answer!

  86. Miserable*

    Anyone have advice on how to survive a toxic boss you can’t escape? Mine is currently destroying my life. (I’m so stressed out constantly that I can’t stay asleep for long at night and have trouble relaxing when I’m not even at work because I’m dreading going back, which leaves me exhausted all the time.) I’ve been applying to jobs every weekend for nine months, but no offers yet. The situation just really feels hopeless.

    1. ferrina*

      I am so sorry! I’ve been there, and it is horrible and really takes a toll. Here’s what helped me:

      -Care less. Accept that there is no Enough enough for your boss, and do what is right for you. Don’t do overtime. Don’t try to make them happy, just give them the right amount to be unhappy with. This is what quiet quitting was made for.
      -Make time for you. Carve out time in your week to do nothing. Rest. Do whatever happens to make you happy that day. Be in touch with who you are (my toxic boss was forever trying to take that away)
      -Apply less. I couldn’t do lots of good applications in a week- I didn’t have the brain bandwidth. What I could do was 2 good applications a week. So I started there. I spent my first week just creating my resume and cover letter, not applying. I made a master resume that’s six pages long and has all my accomplishments ever. When I applied, I could edit that down to two pages with the accomplishments that were most relevant for that particular job. It made it a lot easier to tailor my resume for each job. Similar for the cover letter- I wrote 6 strong paragraphs highlighting different skills, then for each application, picked 2 (plus an intro paragraph). Still needed some minor editing for consistent voice, but much easier than writing a custom cover letter from scratch. I also was more picky about where I applied- I started by applying places I was excited about, because came across in my writing. If I found myself trying to muster up energy about a particular posting, it was usually a sign I should spend my time elsewhere (even if that was not applying).
      -Set reasonable goals. I set a goal of applying to 2 places per week. It was so small, but it still felt really good when I hit the goal. And when I was exhausted, I didn’t feel guilty about taking time to rest. And resting is an investment in you- a well-rested you will come across better in the job search.
      -Talk to your doctor. They might be able to help with the sleep issues (even if it’s something short term).
      -Talk to a therapist. Not about the job- you already know it sucks, and you’re doing the right thing. Talk about strategies to detach from the job. How do you get it out of your head so you can actually relax and enjoy your free time?
      -Practice talking about other things. I had gotten so used to talking about my job and thinking about my job that I had forgotten how to do other things. I had to practice talking about not-job things. If someone asked about my job, I’d explain “It’s been occupying too much headspace recently, so I’ve made a commitment not to talk about my job. So how about That Movie?” Most people absolutely understood.

      Good luck! You can do this! Sending you a lot of love!

    2. Area Woman*

      I have been there. I did end up talking to a few people at work to see if her behavior was normal/cultural for that company. It turned out, it wasn’t! And folks were shocked at how I was treated. She ended up being fired. I would put a few feelers out there, if anything you can get the reassurance that it isn’t just you, and that maybe you can create some change.

      Isn’t it true people leave bad managers, not bad jobs!

  87. Future Bureaucrat*

    Government workers! How much paid time off with holidays, vacation, and sick leave do you get? New Job in City Government offers 8 holidays, 60 flexible hours to use immediately, 100 hours for sick leave that can’t be used until after 3 months, and 78 hours of PTO which can’t be used until after 1 full year of public service. This is an affluent and progressive city. I was surprised by how limited the PTO is.

    1. Just here for the scripts*

      I’m assuming US govt?
      I work for NYC. We get:
      – 12-13 holidays (think new years, 4th of July, Memorial Day, etc.)
      – Earn both sick leave and vacation days on a monthly basis—accrual rates are tied to how many years you’ve been here (newbies I believe earn 1 day a month vacay and 1/2 day a month sick leave)
      – both parental units get paid family leave upon arrival of new child (adopted or birthed)—I think it’s six weeks and can be taken in non-consecutive bunches (but I’m not a parent so this is more from quick-read of rules and general observation than anything else).
      – No ST Disability

    2. Midwest Manager*

      I’m a state employee in higher ed. We get:
      – 4 weeks Vac
      – 12 days sick
      – 9 paid holidays
      – 4.5 days personal holiday

    3. Glazed Donut*

      1 sick + 1 personal day per month for newer employees (increases after 5 yrs, I think)
      12 or 13 holidays (mostly national)
      no paid parental leave

    4. Anon for this*

      At my state job, all paid time off including sick leave has to be accrued, and you are not permitted to take PTO for anything other than illness/injury for the first 6 months. You accrue 8 hours per month in PTO and 8 hours per month for sick leave, so essentially 96 hours PTO and 96 hours sick leave per year, but realistically not until your second year. We have 13 paid holidays.

      The parental leave was the thing that blew my hair backwards when I started working here. We get 0 paid parental leave whatsoever, and there isn’t really any other leave type you can leverage to get paid in that time. We can buy optional short and long term disability and life insurance but they have way more restrictions about when they pay out than I’m used to seeing, and we have to pay the premiums ourselves anyway.

      Last year we all got a blast email from HR with a flyer talking about the “new parent benefits!” they offer, and it was a cute little illustrated pdf touting that you are eligible for (unpaid) FMLA if you give birth. That’s it. End of list. I felt like I was taking crazy pills. If you don’t offer any benefits that’s one thing, but why would you make an advertisement that you comply with federal law??

    5. ClosingTime*

      County employee here
      12 paid holidays
      3 paid floating holidays

      Until 5th year employment
      12 sick days, usable after 3 months
      12 vacation days, usable as accrued
      3 paid personal time

      Can carry over unlimited sick days, 15 vacation days and 0 personal days at year end.

      Parental leave is relatively new for us, used to be none or unpaid fmla. Now it’s paid (unsure of rate) for 12 weeks.

  88. FORMERHigherEdPerson*

    Could use some help with neurodivergence in the workplace! Tl;dr – coaching a manager who is displaying some signs of ND, but that phrasing and/or discussion has never come up. Everyone who works with this person is complaining that they are harsh and blunt, but I see it very differently and don’t know how to help them.

    Longer version:
    I coach leaders as part of my job, and am currently working with a manager who is STRUGGLING. Their direct reports and their managers report that there is “bullying” and that they are harsh/not a team player/insensitive. I have been working with this person for 4 sessions so far, and have learned that they are incredibly literal. They think literally, speak literally, and will take every communication literally. They are also obsessively process-driven and do not understand why others don’t think via process and structured steps, etc. When training others, they give them step-by-step lists of how to do things because that’s how they think (we’re working on adapting to styles and learning about how other people learn, but it’s slow).

    Every documented text or email that I’ve read has been interpreted as “harsh” but when you look at it through the lens of “they are communicating literally”, it makes complete sense. For example, the person was frustrated b/c a direct report kept asking them the same kinds of questions over and over again, despite having been given the answer. So they responded “With all due respect, I don’t know why you’re asking me this.” Obviously, taken at face value, this can be very off-putting and seen as harsh. When I talked to them about it, they said “No, I was literally saying to her “Hey, with all due respect” because I respect her! I was asking why she continued to ask me! I was trying to find out what she needed!”
    They really are truly trying. They re-read everything multiple times before they send it, they are asking themselves “Okay, what would my coach think? Is this communicating what I want it to communicate?” and are still getting into sticky situations.

    I’m working with my manager on strategies to better help this person with scripts and phrases, but I’m really struggling with getting others on board (employee relations, their managers, etc). Everyone is saying things like “this is really worrisome, this thing didn’t sit well with me, they aren’t responding like a team player…etc”

    Where do I go from here? It’s not like I can say “Hey, I think Name might be displaying signs of neurodivergence…” But I want to get them to understand that they *might* be, or if not, that they way they are communicating and thinking and working aren’t inherently bad…just very different.
    I’m open to any advice you have!

    1. WantonSeedStitch*

      I think you can’t really do this. Saying or implying that someone might have a disability is a big no-no. I think the best thing you can do is, when someone brings up, “ugh, Cersei is so harsh!” to say “Cersei’s aware of how she comes across, and she’s taking steps to alter her communication style. I think it’s important to approach communication from a place of assuming positive intent. It might help if you keep in mind that she is extremely literal, and also interprets things in a very literal way.”

      1. BellyButton*

        Excellent script to help others accept Cersei.

        LW- I have had success with having people n Cersei’s position practice matching the tone/format of an email they received. I have explained that the way people communicate is an indication of how they best can receive the information you are giving. If you can adapt your tone and style to match theirs it will make sure that your message is received.

    2. ferrina*

      First, “neurodivergence” isn’t a diagnosis. It’s an umbrella term for a wide array of conditions with a multitude of symptoms. And don’t try to figure out what the diagnosis is- that’s none of your business, and it takes years of training for professionals to be able to diagnose (and some still get it wrong).

      Focus on the behavior. There is action and effect.
      Action: Purely literal communication. Effect: Frustration and comes across as harsh.
      Action: Assumes everyone thinks the same way. Effect: Doesn’t tailor communication for audience.
      Point out the effect and the action causing the effect. Offer alternatives. Scripts can sometimes be really useful. So instead of “I don’t understand why you’re asking”, say “Maybe I’m missing something, but I’m not sure what the question is.”

      Communication has two sides- the giver and the receiver. If the giver and receiver aren’t speaking the same language, it doesn’t matter how articulate they are, they aren’t going to get it. Usually that’s done by each one giving just a little until it’s enough to function. Note that understanding to communicate is a real skill. Entire careers are based on ability to communicate and build trust (including mine- building trust is part of my job description). Building trust is an essential function of a manager. They need to find strategies to do that. For example, ask questions instead of make statements. Questions are inherently collaborative. So if something doesn’t make sense, then teach them methods to ask questions. Little techniques like this make a difference.

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I think you can address the elephant in the room without diagnosing it. You can cast this as a practical (as opposed to emotional) flavor of empathy.

      The point of communication is for 2 people to come to a point of having the same information and ideas in their heads. There’s a failure of communication going on, and I think he knows it’s there, but he’s taken aback by it every time. So call it out.

      “Fergus, when you wrote that email, I’m sure you knew what was going through your head, and in retrospect, after talking to you, I’m pretty sure I know what you meant too. But other people don’t necessarily know what’s going on in your head, just like you don’t necessarily know what’s going on in theirs. You shouldn’t assume that what seems obvious to you is obvious to them. And you know that the way you like to approach problems and tasks isn’t necessarily the same way that other people do.

      So as an exercise, the next time you’re going to send an email like that, I want you to put it in drafts, walk away for 10 minutes, and then pretend to be the recipient and open the email. Think of some of the ways your message might be misinterpreted – because you’re coming at it with a set of knowledge and assumptions that the other person doesn’t have. Then think of ways you could word it that might forestall those misunderstandings.”

      He’s already in a state where he’s rereading everything and wanting to know how YOU would write it. Get him thinking about how OTHER people want to read it – because that’s really the end goal. And note that none of what I wrote above is exclusive to ND – the same rules would apply for people coming from different cultural backgrounds, different educational/vocational paths, even just different job responsibilities.

    4. insert pun here*

      I know this might not work in more formal workplaces, but: emojis? It sounds like this person is trying to be lighthearted/helpful/not a jerk but just not getting there, tone-wise. Emojis can establish tone pretty easily and take the temperature down a bit, indicate that you’re not mad, etc. Perhaps a workaround?

    5. RagingADHD*

      Nope. You cannot get people to “understand that Name might be showing signs of neurodivergence,” because the personality traits you describe are just that – personality traits. The range of human thinking and behavior is much wider than most people assume, and Name’s neurology is nobody else’s business. Not yours, not their direct reports.

      It is also irrelevant. If their communication skills are dysfunctional to the point that people feel like they are being bullied, you cannot ask the people who feel demeaned and insulted by their boss to just put up with it because “poor Name can’t help it.”

      That is infantilizing to Name, and demoralizing to their reports.

      I’d suggest that they need very similar coaching to people who are too indirect: be specific about addressing actions and patterns. This can, in some ways, be even *more* literal.

      For example, with the person who asked the same question over and over, they could say something like, “I’m happy to help, but I notice that you have asked this question several times. I want to make sure we’re addressing your needs here, so is there something about this task / topic that is tripping you up? Let’s work on it.”

      That is literally spelling out their thought process as explained to you, and it’s much warmer than the original version precisely because it is more literal.

      I also notice that you’re looking at emails and documents. Do they have the same problems in person or on calls? Sometimes it’s easier for people to see / hear good intentions via tone (but not always).

  89. ExtremelyTired_AndDisabled*

    Does anyone have remote job recommendations for someone who can’t physically leave their house every day?

    I work in the environmental field and I am struggling because I have hEDS, dysautonomia, and an autoimmune disorder. Which means my body just…doesn’t work right. I have had multiple health professionals tell me I need to not be in a field heavy position, and while I am looking, it is extremely hard to find anything related to my experience that does not require either a Ph.D or a focus on engineering. Engineering courses nearly had me failing out of college, and I am seriously considering going to graduate school. The field is destroying my health. Grad school in my field is really crap about accommodations and my doctor still thinks research/grad school is better for me.

    To make matters worse, I’m about six months into a job that would be otherwise great, fulltime in my field, and which is better about work-life balance than any other job. The problem is the field hours — my body cannot keep up. I get sick really often, I have to walk when my patella is in the wrong place, my ankle gives out when I step wrong, etc. I can’t figure out what to pivot to that won’t require me to be on my feet or worse, slogging through some hellish “stand for 8+h because we hate you” type job. I have worked finance as a temp and enjoyed it and was a lot better at it but I have no practical experience. I am young and I can hide that I’m disabled on good days but those are becoming few and far between.

    I’m also extremely burnt out. I don’t have the money to just take time off and fully recover from burnout (which is what triggered everything), but I cannot stay at this job. I don’t even know where to start looking. What work would let me do what I need during flexible hours and be okay with me taking time off?

    And no, living with my parents is not a possibility.

    1. ExtremelyTired_AndDisabled*

      Edit to clarify the 8+h comment: 90% of my friends with disabilities are or have been in jobs that won’t accommodate them, and refuse to comply with ADA regulations. I cannot stand for long periods of time. I will just faint and concuss myself.

    2. Bunny Girl*

      What about Environmental Health and Safety jobs? I’ve seen quite a few that are remote or at least hybrid. You can take a 24 hour OSHA course for EHS certification that might bolster your resume a bit. I very rarely see ones that ask for graduate school.

    3. epizeugma*

      Are there any mobility aids you aren’t currently using that would help with strain/fatigue and be physically possible to use in your field? Braces, canes, anything like that? Not a long-term solution, but maybe something that could slightly lessen the pain and strain while you look elsewhere?

      It’s unclear from your post whether you’ve asked for accommodations at the job you’ve been at for 6 months. It may be worth asking. They might be able to work with you to lessen the field work, if not eliminate it.

      Seconding Bunny Girl’s suggestion to look into environmental health or occupational health type roles.

  90. Unlucky Penny*

    I’ve been through multiple interview rounds and even interviewed with my potential new boss. I just got two calls from the recruiter; 1 was to verify that I accept the time zones I need to align with, and 2 that the potential new boss wants a second interview to ask additional questions. I’ve never been asked for a follow up interview before in my 20 year career so I have no experience to pull from.

    I’m grateful that I’m getting another opportunity to discuss the job but I’m also nervous I will talk myself out of the position. This is within an arm of a huge global company and the position could be seen as a step backwards based on my career trajectory. Think Sr Director moving to early career Manager.

    How truthful should I be (not going to lie in any of my answers but I am concerned about going into too much detail)?

    I’m exhausted by my current job (bait and switch with hiring freezes, budget issues, and a disorganized mess of processes and procedures) and I’m looking for a role that lets me regroup and catch my breath while still paying my bills (this new position is a 25% pay decrease but still above the national average and meets my family’s needs). I’m super interested in what this org does and would love to be involved in some way. I’m also hoping to create my own opportunity as the org grows and expands and eventually transition back to something I’m doing today but without the added stressors that my current job/company has.

    I’m going into the follow up interview assuming she’s narrowed it down to two candidates and she’s concerned that I’ll get bored and flake out knowing that my background and experience is coming at a discount if they offer me the position. I want to reassure her of my commitment but I’ve never been good at doing that (I’m autistic and tend to over clarify my reasoning which makes things awkward.)

    1. BellyButton*

      “I’m super interested in what this org does and would love to be involved”

      This is a really good start. I said something like “At this stage in my career I am more interested in being in a culture/company/position that I am passionate about more than I am concerned about title and salary. It is a privileged place to be in and allows me the opportunity to make sure not only am I the right fit for the team, but they are the right fit for me. ”

      Good luck!

    2. The New Wanderer*

      Follow-up interviews are apparently common at my organization. My hiring manager wasn’t able to be on my panel interview so they scheduled a follow-up with me. The gist of it was, the panel voted yes on me and just needed the HM to sign off too. So it didn’t feel like a Formal Interview exactly, but one thing the HM wanted to discuss was the possibility that the salary offer would be a pay cut for me, and I was able to explain that I knew that going in (yay public salary info!) but that the work was something I was extremely interested in for several reasons.

      I think BellyButton’s script is great. If the follow up conversation is less structured, they might just be interested in getting a better sense of you as a future team member. If it’s more structured, and specifically if it’s around a concern about you taking a step down, that’d be the time to build on the points about the opportunities that this position will give you.

  91. Area Woman*

    Low stakes question, do you ever correct your boss if they are constantly using the incorrect word in conversations and presentations? My boss is always using the word “cognitive” when he means “cognizant”. Like, “We need to be cognitive of this issue.” This makes me cringe, mostly for him, because multiple people now (all his direct reports, essentially), snicker when they hear it.

    FWIW he has a lot of quirky language things but none of them are objectively incorrect like this one. If he didn’t say it all the time, it would be less awkward, but it is at least weekly. Not sure if he would feel defensive or appreciate it….. We’ve been working together for a couple years now, he can be kind of stubborn.

    1. Area Woman*

      I just read this, and I want to make sure people know that English is his first language! He’s a white, Boomer generation guy.

    2. Meep*

      I switch words when I speak and am nervous. I say my brain has “auto-correct”. I think I am saying the right word, but something else comes out of my mouth. Correcting it causes more issues and I can go from being able to clearly say “cinnamon” for example to tripping over each syllable.

      It might be helpful to gently point it out to him by asking him “do you mean cognizant?” He might appreciate it since he is being laughed at. But do it in private and don’t expect it to necessarily change.

    3. Glazed Donut*

      Oh boy, a man I work with does this. Think “liberry” vs “library.” I mentioned it to my supervisor in the gist of “I feel like I should correct this since it could be eroding competency with his team” and my own manager told me it’s not a big deal since it’s cultural.
      I am not sure if I buy that….but every time I hear the not-a-word said, I cringe inside.

      1. RagingADHD*

        That’s not a wrong word, that’s a very common pronunciation difference that is the dominant form in some regions. It is also easily recognizable.

        I am not sure what you mean by “eroding competency with his team.” His competency is not going to change based on the team’s perceptions.

        Did you perhaps mean eroding his credibility with the team?

        1. allathian*

          Yes, agreed. I’d be more inclined to correct someone if they’re using the wrong word rather than a different pronunciation of a word that can’t be misunderstood.

    4. WellRed*

      Interesting question. In your example I probably wouldn’t bother correcting because they are close but if people are snickering it’s probably a kindness. There was a commenter earlier this week who kept using the phrase tone death so consistently it was obvious they didn’t know it was wrong and despite the site rules about nitpicking I would have said something but others beat me to it. If I don’t use something correctly, all the time, I want to be corrected.

  92. A Simple Narwhal*

    Not really a question, just a bit of a vent. I’ve been at my job for 5 years and I’ve been starting to have serious conversations with my boss about my career path and my desire for advancement. Advancement is notoriously murky in my company, and while my boss has tons of suggestions on ways to set myself up for success, the real answer is “do more work and maybe someday be rewarded with a promotion to a higher role, but there’s currently no such role and no plans to create one”.

    The stupid hopeful part of me is like, there’s opportunity to be had, maybe it will work out and my hard work will be rewarded! And the other part of me is like um no, don’t work harder when there’s zero indication that it will lead to anything, time to think about getting out.

    It’s just demoralizing and a bummer. I otherwise like my job, but I probably have to accept that there’s a real possibility of me working hard, doing everything I can, and having nothing to show for it. Blergh.

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        I am considering it! That’s the “time to think about getting out” part of my thought process.

        I’ve also only ever job hunted out of desperation before, like my job was making me physically ill or I had been laid off. It’s a new experience to think about leaving a non-bad job!

  93. Lee*

    How did you train yourself to go to bed on time? I have ADHD (which is mostly under control now) and I naturally tend to stay up late. As a result, I don’t get as much sleep as I need. What worked for you?

    1. Just here for the scripts*

      Using my Fitbit to monitor really helped me to set a sleep time for myself. I’ve learned my ONLY deep sleep happens when I first get into bed. If I go in at 1030pm I get 90 min; go to bed at 11pm I get an hour. Go to bed at 1130pm I get 30 min, etc.

      It also taught me that there are times that I have slept well—even though I didn’t think I had. It’s broadened my understanding of what “a good night’s sleep” means.

      1. Lee*

        This is really interesting! I’ve heard it said that the hours of sleep before midnight count the most. This obviously isn’t a scientific fact, but perhaps there’s something to it.

    2. ferrina*

      I’ve got a SuperVillian of distractors that keeps me awake (hello, smartphone, my old frenemy). When I force myself to put that down, I’m more likely to go to bed on time. (I’m ADHD, though sleep is a more minor symptom for me)

      Bedtime routines also help. Experts recommend turning off screens 45 minutes before sleep. Timers might also be helpful for time blindness (I usually think that the timer will go off, then give myself an extra 2 minutes to finish what I was on). If you can gamify it somehow or reward yourself, that can help- maybe a special prize after you go to bed on time 5 times (non-consecutively, you want to make this an achievable prize)

      1. Lee*

        I’m trying to put down screens and gamify going to bed on time. I’ve been told that rewards for keeping up a new habit should work WITH the habit not against it. For e.g. a good reward for going to bed on time would be soft new pjs, not a new book. Perhaps I will try to implement that.

    3. Admin of Sys*

      I have timers on my lights and an alarm on my phone. When the alarm goes off, I can’t stay on the phone / devices, and I can leave the tv on but only if I turn down the lights on it and lay down while listening to it.

      1. Lee*

        Trying this as well but I think I haven’t found the right way to implement it (see my reply to Odge below).

    4. Odge*

      I have this problem too – it’s a work in progress. See if you can identify your most common sticking points and make strategies to counteract them. Here are mine for example:

      -Procrastination: Bedtime approaches. I’m comfy on the couch on my laptop. I need to brush my teeth so I can go to bed. I will procrastinate for HOURS on this. Solution: if I brush my teeth and do my evening chores well ahead of bedtime, then situate myself in bed, I’m much more likely to turn off the lights and go to sleep right when bedtime hits/when I get tired. Basically, put as few obstacles between myself and bed as possible.

      -Staying up doing something fun: I try to choose activities with natural stopping points for work nights. So a book of short stories instead of a novel, a TV show instead of a movie, a video game with day or turn cycles instead of one that smoothly transitions you between activities.

      -Staying up because I’m mad that I had to spend most of my day doing stuff I didn’t want to do and didn’t get to do any fun stuff: I’m working on recognizing this thought pattern and calling it out when it happens. Making myself tired the next day doesn’t improve this situation.

      Stuff that did not work for me: setting a timer/alarm, putting away screens (well, it worked amazing, but making myself do that consistently is harder than making myself go to bed lol), automated lights that turn off. Hope this helps! I’ll be watching this thread haha.

      1. Lee*

        I relate so hard to ALL of this! I haven’t tried out your fix for procrastination — to do evening chores AHEAD of time. That sounds like a great idea and could definitely help me. When do you do your evening chores — right after you get home/before dinner/after dinner?

        1. Odge*

          I don’t schedule it, because that doesn’t work well for me, but I do have A Process, which is putting in wireless headphones, putting on a favorite podcast or music, and going around the house tidying/packing lunch/brushing teeth/etc. It’s basically whenever I have energy and can do it without groaning haha, sometimes it’s five minutes at 6pm and five minutes at 10pm.

          Another thing I remembered – if i have to use the bathroom and brush my teeth before bed, I brush my teeth first. It’s crucial not to sit down unless the immediate next step is getting into bed XD

          1. Lee*

            Are you me? I also listen to a podcast while brushing my teeth at nigt, etc! I even have a specific podcast that is light and happy which I only listen to at that time.

            Thanks for the tips, I’m going to try this out.

      2. Maple Bar*

        Oh man, yes. This is generally exactly how I have worked on my sleep schedule despite being a chronic insomniac. The biggest one is the not leaving bedtime for bedtime part, so to speak. Just trying to go to bed earlier doesn’t help me, but doing everything earlier so my procrastinating isn’t also pushing back bedtime does. The sleep hygiene thing of not getting in bed until it’s time to sleep and having no screens for an hour before and etc etc is poison for me trying to get myself to sleep, it means I get into bed way too awake I do all the bedtime stuff (brushing teeth, washing face, etc) earlier in the evening and then do all the winding down phone, TV, reading, whatever actually in bed with the lights off.

        This might super not work for you. But before this I could do all the “right” stuff and then lay in bed wide awake doing nothing for hours and hours, and now I can actually sleep, so hey. I reluctantly told my sleep specialist about it when I started doing it, thinking she would scold me, but even she said to stick with whatever works.

        I don’t have an alarm but I do have a bedtime and waking time set in my iPhone’s alarm / health app, and made the settings such that it:
        -Goes into dark mode / whatever that warm light mode is called automatically earlier in the evening
        -Automatically goes on do not disturb during the hours I’m supposed to be sleeping as well as a “wind-down” period beforehand
        -Gives a gentle alert (not a whole alarm) when the wind-down period starts
        That all helps me actually notice when it’s late enough that I should be getting in bed without annoying the hell out of me, and keeps me from getting woken up by alerts on top of that. You can customize it by the day so it matches your work schedule or whatever, and I don’t have to remember to do anything with it since it’s automatic.

        1. Lee*

          I already set up all the phone settings you mentioned and it helps quite a bit.

          This strategy of “Don’t leave bedtime for bedtime” is new to me though. It sounds promising and I will give it a try. Thank you for all the tips.

  94. Gossip Guy*

    My workplace has gotten rather gossipy and I’m trying really hard not to fall into it. It doesn’t help that I have one coworker who I’m constantly low-level annoyed at for a variety of reasons, so it’s really easy to want to talk about them with other coworkers. My reasons for annoyance range from “legitimate” to “100% BEC.”

    I also definitely have a problem with conflict-avoidance due to mental health stuff, so I haven’t been able to talk with the person directly. Plus I just don’t think they’d take it well (they seem to lack self-awareness in a lot of ways, for a start). So I’m a bit stuck because there’s nothing “solid” I can bring up with our supervisor, at least not recently.

    I think a big issue in my office overall is a lack of professionalism. AAM’s advice to not bring your whole self to work would be good for some of my coworkers to hear. We’ve had discussions of how “professionalism” is often rooted in things like classism, so I have trouble communicating, like, that work persona and non-work self are different things + that managers/senior staff are held to a higher standard.

    1. ferrina*

      Are there people at your workplace who are extremely professional? How can you emulate them? Can you spend more time around them? Can you spend less time around people that bring out your worse traits? (maybe you need to get a cup of coffee when the convo turns to gossip).

      Don’t try to coach others on professionalism unless they ask, including trying to teach folks about what you’re reading here. Start by being the very model of a modern major professional. When they see someone being professional, they will either try to emulate, try to ignore, or try to bring you down. That will tell you a lot about who they are as a person (and how long you want to stay at that workplace). I’ve been the gossipy person, and I’ve been the one who staunchly will not gossip, and the latter has been much better for my career. Being known as the person who is professional in the face of ANYTHING will do wonders, and honestly, feels so good when you can legitly take the morale high road over BEC coworker. Diplomacy opens a lot of doors.

      1. Gossip Guy*

        Thanks for the advice! I think I’m among the most professional people at my workplace, aside from my direct supervisor, but professionalism in his position looks differently than it does in mine (sorry I can’t explain that better without getting pretty explicit about what field I’m in.) There’s one coworker I look up to as a model of how I want to act at work, so I’ll continue looking to his example. Sticking around people who bring out my best qualities is a really good idea, and I’ll do what I can to enact that.

        Being known as the person who is professional in the face of ANYTHING will do wonders

        Funny you should say this, I’ve actually been complimented on something similar recently. I guess maybe, writing it out, I’m doing better at being professional/not being gossipy than I thought I was.

    2. Notalot*

      what has helped me is to put up a visual reminder (not explicitly stated but I know what it means) to never say anything *about* a person that I wouldn’t say in front of the person.

      when you work in a culture in which people speak negatively of others behind their backs, it’s easy to start normalizing that behavior. but it isn’t normal or healthy. If you just think of it from a moral perspective, not even a professional one, it’s very clear that it’s simply not okay to speak negatively of someone behind their back. It also leads to people viewing you as untrustworthy, as when they hear you talk about others, they are left wondering what you could possibly be saying about them.

  95. Aye Nonny Nonny*

    It’s been an “interesting” week in the banking industry. I was already low-key looking but now I want out. Any suggestions?

    1. Midwest Manager*

      Banking creates lots of transferrable skills: high-volume customer service, handling confidential information, handling transactions, data entry with accuracy, sales, etc.

      Depending on your current role, you could look at positions that deal with financial transactions (A/R, A/P, Purchasing, Payroll, etc.). There are jobs like that at pretty much every company, though the title and requirements may vary.

      1. Aziraphale the Cat*

        Having been in A/P and Payroll in the first part of my career, I would definitely agree. You need to be good with numbers, have attention to detail, and especially for Payroll be discreet.

    1. JanetM*

      Well, isn’t *that* charming. I hope the DoL or whoever appeals (not that I expect the current Supreme Court to rule in favor of employees).

    2. ecnaseener*

      The really confusing part is how it’s supposedly fine because they didn’t *actually* use up all of anyone’s PTO? So if anyone had been made to take unpaid leave due to this policy, the courts would consider that a violation of exempt status, so to be legal it has to be a…fake docking?
      I guess the company can fire you rather than granting paid leave, and that’s how they’d get around it.

  96. very anonymous for this*

    If I am a manager at a company that may have layoffs, and I have a suspicion that some folks on my team will be affected but I do not know (I am not high up enough to make any of the decisions or know timing or even if they will happen), how should I deal with that? I have someone who is not doing that well in their position and I really want to give a heads up, but I think it’s inappropriate. And what I’m especially afraid of is that all the observant employees are reading between the lines of what the ceo says and what’s happening to our competitors, but this employee isn’t observant, that’s why they are not doing that well.

    1. WantonSeedStitch*

      I think you have to coach your report on their performance, regardless of whether layoffs look likely or not. Think of it like this: if you help them to improve, you’ll have a better employee if they stay. If they don’t stay, you’ll have done what you can to help them be better at their job, which should serve them well in future jobs. And even if they ARE laid off, it’ll look better to say that they were laid off than that they were fired.

      1. irene adler*

        This is good. Can’t go wrong with coaching someone to improve.

        While it is sooo tempting to let someone know about a possible layoff, if management learns you told anyone, there can be repercussions for you. If nothing else, management will be less trusting of you with any sensitive information.

  97. Tall and Short*

    What does it mean when your manager asks you to write a list of your job duties at your newish workplace? Why do they even ask you to do this in the first place?
    Is it because they are seeing you as overworked and are looking which duties they will take off of you? Or vice-versa?
    Or for the simple reason that they want to update your job description?
    Any insights or experience are highly welcome!!

    1. sam_i_am*