open thread – March 24-25, 2023

It’s the Friday open thread!

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

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

{ 781 comments… read them below }

  1. Woeful Empress*

    I got the job! And I’m freaking out!

    I applied for (and got!) a big job that is really well suited to my background and skills. The thing that the new job has that my current one doesn’t is that it is a leadership role. I haven’t had a direct report for 12 years, and now I’ll have five.

    As of right now, I haven’t given notice to my current employer. I think this part is causing more anxiety than stepping into a new leadership role. My current employer is a lovely organization, filled with wonderful people doing meaningful, purpose-driven work. I’ve been there for seven years, and a year ago started reporting to an old friend of mine, who joined our organization shortly before I was transitioned onto her team. She’s a lovely person and a good leader, and I feel awful having to resign to her.

    I have a planned week off this coming week (spring break with the family) and am holding off on resigning until I return, mostly because I don’t want the fallout from my resignation to occur when I’m not around to respond to it. I think people will be shocked that I’m leaving and that I’ve gotten the role that I’ve gotten. In addition, there’s a rule at my org that you can’t take PTO within your notice period. I plan to give notice on 3/31, with my last day being 4/14.
    So now, I live in limbo. I can’t feel excited about the new job, because I’m dreading the experience of leaving the old one (a job that bores me and offers no advancement opportunities.) And I’m going to blindside my friend.

    I don’t know what I’m even asking for here. I have leaned into AAM so heavily during my job search and interviews that this feels like the natural space in which to drop my angst. Thank you all for listening.

    1. Colette*

      I think it’s pretty normal to get something you want and only then realize all the paths you can’t take as a result.

      You’re fine. Your friend will be fine. Leaving a job is a really normal thing to do. Enjoy your vacation, and put the resignation out of your mind as much as you can until you actually resign.

    2. Venus*

      I felt awful leaving my last job because they were struggling and I was the most productive employee on a team where an old friend had just become the lead and was relying on me. I think he could read the worry on my face and was initially worried for me too so when he found out that it was actually good news for me he burst out into a big grin and gave me the warmest congratulations on my success in getting the new job.

      Your old friend may not be as supportive as mine but I hope she is.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      I know how you feel, I went through something similar when I left a previous job. I was a little surprised at how sad I was to leave, because I had been planning on getting a different job for a few months before starting to apply and applying for a few months before accepting an offer. But turning in my notice and saying good-bye to all of my coworkers (most of whom I enjoyed working with and learned a lot from!) was sad. My advice is similar to Colette’s: enjoy your vacation (don’t think about your current or future job too much), feel your feelings during your notice period, and then be excited to start your new job when it’s time for that!

    4. Pamela Adams*

      When my friends move on to other positions, I’m happy for them- they’re growing- which is what I wanted them to do.

    5. Artemesia*

      Well done. Leaving places you like is always hard — but it sounds like this is a wonderful transition in your career. ENJOY it. Feeling bad about leaving won’t make it happier for the old org — it will just make it less happy for you.

    6. Sherm*

      My friend had a similar experience last year. He left a lovely company that had given him a chance when they hired him. But everyone was supportive and happy for him. AND they very quickly found his replacement — an older woman who was underemployed. You are not blindsiding your friend. Plus, a true friend will want you to go where is best for you and not sacrifice your future career for the sake of the company.

    7. Jules the 3rd*

      Change is scary. Even *good* change, like babies, weddings, and this job. Take a deep breath, enjoy some sunshine. If you feel really anxious, write scary scenarios (just a sentence or two) and how you might respond.

      It’ll be great.

    8. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      I know it can feel hard to leave your current job. But these things happen! It’s a business decision.

      Having recently been let go I can tell you that’s what all organizations will say to you.

  2. CH*

    I’ve recently had a number of recruiters reach out to me about roles they’re looking to fill, asking me to set up time to speak with them. When I ask for a job description before scheduling a meeting, they keep pushing for a meeting and never shar the JD. Is this a new trend? Anyone else have a similar experience?

    1. Former Retail Lifer*

      Yes. If it’s been a few emails and they still won’t share the info, I’m out. It doesn’t seem like something someone recruiting for a legitimate company would do.

    2. ThatgirlK*

      This is a tactic they use to build their candidate pool. They may have a job in mind, but more than likely they are trying are probably setting something up to get more info from you in case a job that maybe suited for you comes up.

      I personally don’t care for this tactic (or outside recruiting firms). Just my opinion.

      1. LR*

        I just dont even get this. I’ve done this willingly w recruiters a bunch of times when I was actively hunting and wanted to be kept in mind. None have ever contacted me again, and if they did even a few months later I always had a new job anyways.

    3. Persephone Mulberry*

      I have not had this experience directly but I would assume that they are withholding it because a) the job description reveals enough details that you could figure out the company and go around the recruiter to apply directly; or b) the job doesn’t actually exist and they just want to get you into their pipeline.

    4. Antilles*

      Are they recruiting for specific roles? If they’re recruiting for a specific role “an engineering job in Charlotte”, they should be willing to share that job description immediately upon asking – and if they don’t, I’m probably not meeting with them because there’s a good chance “engineering job” ends up being laughably far off the mark.

      If they’re recruiting for a bunch of roles, I could see them demurring with a “well, I have six different teapot engineering jobs open with companies so I’m willing to provide the JDs, but think it’d be better if we first chatted so we can help send you in the right direction”. In that case, it makes sense and I’m willing to take 15 minutes to chat.

    5. Other Alice*

      Yes. Although in my case when I ask for a job description, they don’t bother replying. When I was unemployed I wasted a lot of time being sent to interviews that were terrible fits because I didn’t have a job description in advance, so I’ve decided to just ignore them.

    6. Artemesia*

      I assume that when that happens there is no job, they are just trolling linked in to build their portfolio in case something comes along. Unless I were desperate to move I’d simply decline any query that was not matched by a pretty clear description of the job and company — Sure they may not want to disclose the company but if they can’t tell you it would be ‘HR director in a mid size company’ or ‘project manager in charge of XYZ type programs’ then there is no job.

    7. Hiring Mgr*

      Assuming these are external recruiters, it’s mainly because they’re worried that you’ll apply directly with the company which might cause them to lose out on a fee.

      But in my experience this happens far less than it used to. Most recruiters will give you the info you ask them and let them know that of course you won’t apply on your own

      1. londonedit*

        Yes – the way it works in my industry (publishing) is that there are a couple of well-known recruitment agencies that publishers will use, and their job adverts are along the lines of ‘Our client, a respected independent publishing house in central London, is looking for a Senior Editor to join their award-winning Children’s Fiction department…[etc]’. Often, because it’s a small industry, you can deduce from ‘independent, central London, award-winning children’s fiction’ which company it is. But they won’t tell you until you contact them – usually they’ll ask you to send them your CV, and then if they think you’ll be a suitable candidate they’ll give you more information, including which company it is. But otherwise they won’t reveal it, because they don’t want people trying to apply to the company directly instead of through them.

        In this case, though, because it’s recruiters seemingly cold-calling, I’d probably assume there isn’t actually a job and they just want to get CH’s details on file.

    8. ecnaseener*

      Lol yes I was just kvetching about this in last week’s open thread. It’s so annoying – let me take 10 seconds to skim a description and see if it’s remotely viable for me before we both waste 20 minutes on a call with you throwing all your salesiest tactics at me!

      I actually did get last week’s recruiter to send the description, and surprise surprise, I hadn’t even *heard of* the system I was supposed to have 5+ years experience administrating. (Oh, and I’m not a systems/database/whatever-it-was administrator. I have ‘administrator’ in my job title, and apparently that’s all that matters!) To his credit, he didn’t try to argue the ‘no’ at that point.

      Whoever set up these systems where recruiters are rewarded for connecting with as many candidates as possible, no matter how terrible a fit for the job, I have words for them -_-

      1. Random Academic Cog*

        Recently had a job posted and the HR person screening the applications did not understand what the job was (not even a little bit). Was sending me absurdly unqualified applications and diverted the most qualified candidate to the “not referred” list because they were scanning for keywords – and using the “important sounding” words that were the most generic part of the listing. Thankfully we can now see the diverted applications, so I was able to explain to HR why they needed to move the candidate to my inbox (and yes, that’s who I hired).

        1. linger*

          Oooh, this sounds like last week’s applicant who wrote in frustrated about getting wrongly screened out (2023/03/21, #3 under “friend doesn’t believe in different dress codes for different situations, applying for a job where my landlord works, and more”).

    9. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      I have gotten this from both internal and external recruiters. Sometimes they actually have multiple jobs, but often it’s to get you into their system. I now say I’m only willing to discuss specific roles. Even if they have multiple similar roles, they will usually send me something or just ghost if they are looking to collect resumes. Not perfect, but it works for me.

    10. Ormond Sackler*

      Having worked in sales, the follow through rate is much, much higher if you can get the commitment to talk to them on the phone. From a sales standpoint they are probably doing the right thing, especially since most of them have no clue what they are doing and just need to get resumes in front of their manager.

      1. Qwerty*

        But isn’t that because people are usually more willing to talk on the phone if they have an actual interest? If they force me to get on the phone only to find out that I’m wildly unqualified/not interested in the job, then I have zero interest in working with that recruiter or that recruitment.

        Compared to if I have a pleasant interaction and can send a quick “too low salary” or “don’t want to program in Java”, I’ll likely reach out to that recruiter in the future and have definitely recommended friends to reach out to in my place (with their permission)

    11. lemon*

      I’ve heard that this can be a resume theft scam. They’re either trying to steal your personal info (name, address, phone, etc), trying to sell your info to scammy job search websites, or they’re trying to get resumes that they can steal to get lesser-qualified candidates jobs (usually candidates in non-Western countries trying to get hired in Western ones).

    12. Ama*

      I haven’t had this exact experience but I do occasionally deal with pushy people from the for profit side of my sector (I’m in a nonprofit that has to work with for profit entities a lot) who want to set up a call to “talk about ways we can collaborate” without really having a plan in mind. What they are actually doing is fishing to see if I will offer to share data or contact info that is really unethical for them to ask for (some of them may even ask outright but they want to do it over the phone so there’s no written record). So with my boss’s okay I am now allowed to tell them that it is our policy to review a written summary of the project first before I speak with any for profit collaborators just to make sure we stay in line with our internal policies on for-profit partnerships. Which signals to them both that fishing isn’t going to work and that my org is extremely familiar with what “collaborations” for-profit should and should not propose. Funnily enough I usually never hear from them again.

      You don’t need your boss’s okay but I think it’s fine to just say “I get so many contacts from recruiters, I really can’t meet with anyone unless I see a job description and salary range first.”

  3. Susie*

    Tldr: I have a more senior position compared to my two teammates (one’s a huge slacker) and my boss wants to give us all the same titles even through we work on things with different levels of complexity

    I am currently a Llama Grooming Manager on a team with Angelica and Tommy (both Cutting Managers, Wooly Llama Grooming). Almost 2 years ago we went through a merger. Pre-merger, Angelica and I came from the same company and were both Llama Grooming Managers. Tommy came from the other company and was a Grooming Analyst. With the two sets of teams combining (there were originally more people from both companies), our director at the time, Phil, made both Angelica and Tommy Cutting Managers, Wooly Llama Grooming and I stayed a Llama Grooming Manager because I had more experience and worked on the most complex Brand. Also at the time, the team structure looked like this: Cutting Managers, Wooly Llama Grooming > Llama Grooming Manager > Sr. Llama Grooming Manager. We had Sr. Llama Grooming Managers on the team.

    Now 2 years later, everyone on the team, except for me, Angelica and Tommy, left the company. We got a new director almost a year ago: Drew. I still work on the largest and most complex Brand and Tommy works on the next largest Brand. These two Brands are the “priority” ones for our business. Angelica works on the Brand that is secondary and isn’t as complex as mine or Tommy’s. Since the merger, I’ve worked with Tommy closely and he’s fantastic. Angelina on the other hand, frankly sucks. She’s lazy, extremely smug, and doesn’t do her job. Meanwhile, something that upper management has been meaning to work on (for the last year), is setting up the set roles and responsibilities for each level. Back when Phil was still here, I had asked him what the difference was between the two positions, and he just said “pay” and that I was more senior to Angelica and Tommy…but absolutely no specifics. However, my product is the largest, and I regularly lead and manage high profile company wide projects. Tommy leads smaller projects and Angelica works on no special projects.

    I had my annual review on Monday with Drew. Overall I was happy with it. I got a 2% merit increase and Drew did a thorough job explaining everything. But then he mentioned how this year they (management) would update the titles for me, Tommy and Angelica and they would be the same titles. Internally I’m thinking, “oh h-ll no”. Then I told him what I mentioned above, how I’m technically higher than Tommy and Angelica. And how did he not know this?? I’d be fine with Tommy and I having the same titles, he’s worked hard and done well. But lazy Angelica who does nothing?? 

    So what should I do? I explained it to him during my review, but I’m not sure if he really understood it? The fact that he wanted to give us the same title makes me think he can’t access the different work outputs and skillset we each have. Should I wait for Drew to bring it up again, or should I say something during our next 1:1? Also, part of me is like, can I just pretend I got promoted with the title change when I go over my resume when applying for new jobs? Like I think I could do a “promoted” announcement on LinkedIn, and literally NO ONE from my company would say anything.

    1. Loulou*

      Are you asking if you can block somebody else’s promotion because you don’t want them to have the same title as you? I sympathize with having a crappy coworker, but come on! Of course you can’t. And you also shouldn’t pretend you were promoted if you weren’t — the metric shouldn’t be “would my company notice” but “if someone I might want to work with in the future realized I did this, would it reflect badly on me?”

      1. Susie*

        That’s the thing, no one is being promoted. They want to give us the same title when I currently am technically higher. So I’m essentially getting moved down.

        1. Maggie*

          It sounds like your old boss may have said you’re higher up to appease you or avoid conflict. I don’t think you can push the issue further without coming off as petty and out of your lane, as much as it is a difficult pill to swallow. If you do bring it up again I’d focus on you and your projects and what you think you’re title should be as opposed to the others. I’ve had lazy people who steal sales be promoted over me, but it’s a company decision out of my hands unfortunately.

    2. ArtK*

      Does this represent just a title change, or a work duty/authority/compensation change as well? If it’s the former, just let it go. People put far too much emphasis on titles, IMO.

      1. Susie*

        I’m not sure, he just spoken about title change. Work duties are a bit different because I still have to lead complex projects and manage the largest Brand. It would be liking having an employee at the “Teapot Manager” level, and another at the “Teapot Specialist” level, and giving them the same title.

      2. Susie*

        I don’t think anything changes, it’s just title. But it would be like “Teapot Manager” and “Teapot Specialist” be given the same title. But work load and complexity is still different.

    3. Anastia Beaverhousen*

      Don’t think of it in context of how they rate Angela’s job performance next to yours, think of it as how much they value your job performance alone. If they feel that you work the same do they not recognize your contributions? Is your performance not as good as you think it is? If you are performing at the level you believe and they are only promoting someone with a lower skill set and not promoting you (is there a way to promote you) do you wish to stay at this company?

    4. L. Ron Jeremy*

      I think a 2% raise is not a worthy merit raise. kinda sucks raise instead since most companies are giving col increases of 5%.

          1. Sucky situation*

            Realistically though, most companies aremg doing that. Totally unheard of in my industry-in fact, the biggest company in my industry just did this:

            “Among the moves being made are to temporarily suspend their 401(k) match starting next pay period, a hiring freeze except on mission critical roles, and stopping or reducing all discretionary spending, including non-essential T&E, overtime, outside vendor spend, temporary contractors, etc.”

    5. DottedZebra*

      If management is updating titles, across-the-board, now is your time to explain that you think you need a higher title to reflect the difference in your duties from the others.

      Don’t do it in an angry, or entitled way. And don’t use it as a time to bash your coworkers. Something like: Since we’re updating titles, I’ve been thinking that it might be time to change my title to senior llama groomer because I handle the biggest accounts. I’m really happy with the work that I’ve done, and it seems that you are too! So the new title seems like it would reflect the work that I’ve done.

      1. Susie*

        I’ve asked several times, there basically is no Sr. Llama Grooming Manager position anymore. Those people that had those positions left, and HR has no job description for that vs. what I do. I’ve talked to my boss about it several times.

        1. Random Academic Cog*

          When I wanted to promote my staff, I went to our HR site, found all the job descriptions, and wrote out the new duties clearly showing a higher level of responsibility even when some of the job duties were fundamentally the same. See if this information is available to you and write your own new job description/title, along with the justification for your promotion. Consider adjacent job families, too. Llama Groomer (LG) may be the top role available under the LG jobs, but there might be a Llama Farrier (LF) job family that has three more levels. Justify why the team deserves an LF. When everything is written up, present your “draft” proposal to your boss for discussion. Make it easy for them to say yes. It’s much easier to say no if saying yes is adding a LOT of extra work for your boss.

    6. WellRed*

      I totally sympathize but I don’t think pressing the issue will help at this point. Better to make a case for a promotion. If nothing else, continue to knock it out of the park. If Angelica continues to be lazy while holding the same title, her laziness should become more apparent.

      1. Susie*

        I can’t get promoted :/ I’ve asked several times, there basically is no Sr. Llama Grooming Manager position anymore. Those people that had those positions left, and HR has no job description for that vs. what I do. I’ve talked to my boss about it several times, but I’m pretty much capped out.

        1. Aitch Arr*

          Can you write a Sr. Llama Grooming Manager (aka your) job description?

          Present that to HR and your manager. “Since no job description existed for my role, this accurately describes what I do.”

          1. Rosyglasses*

            That was what I was coming here to say – write out JDs for both and point to data you’ve collected from other job postings that would more accurately reflect your responsibilities. If nothing comes from that, I would just decide whether the title is a hill worth dying on. If you do good work and you are paid at an amount you can live with, you might be blowing up an opportunity over someone else’s lack of work ethic.

        2. LR*

          If you are capped out because you have the highest title you can in your role a you’re not able or willing to fight that there’s nothing you can really do here.

          Trying to argue that Angela should have a lower title is honestly just going to make you look extremely petty and childish, unless there’s something huge that you didn’t mention like everyone from the same title shares one bonus pool or something.

          I get it, I have a coworker right now with my same title and I do half of his work every week because he does nothing.

          I bring the issues that causes to my boss, but I would absolutely never mention his title or his salary, or anything else of that nature. It’s really just not my business. This is a keep your eyes on your own paper situation.

          1. Boof*

            If you knew his salary, I do think you’d be in fair standing to expect to be paid commensurately more if you’re really confident your output was higher – but agree not sure that titles matter as much as $$$ and actual job duties / workload

    7. Parenthesis Guy*

      I’m not sure what you’re trying to gain by saying you were promoted on LinkedIn. Saying you were promoted on your resume might mean something, but only if it’s clearly a promotion.

      I think you should say something about the titles. You are more senior to Angelica and Tommy. By making the three of you the same title, either you got demoted or they both technically got promoted and you didn’t. If you got demoted, then of course you can ask why. If they got promoted but not you, then you can ask about that also. This is especially true due to the fact that you were earning more then they were because if you’re the same rank, then it’s hard to say you deserve higher pay. So, will you get a pay cut or lower merit increases in the future? Better to get clarity.

      1. Susie*

        It makes it tricky that my previous boss had no specifics except for “pay” on how the titles where different.

        I don’t know how to word it for my boss to get clarity. Should I put an overview together on my past accomplishments and my projects are more complex?

        1. Parenthesis Guy*

          The overview is a really good idea.

          I think you’re looking to do two things. The first is to fully understand why you’re all being put at the same level. The second is to argue that you shouldn’t be.

          I’d start by mentioning that you feel like you’re being demoted because you were higher ranking than the other team members and now you’re not. Then you can ask about the repercussions of being ranked the same. And then you can use the overview to argue why you shouldn’t be.

          Based on those answers, you’ll know how bad this change is for you. But I also see you mentioned that there is no way for you to be promoted. So, I expect that this chat isn’t going to get you what you want and that you’ll need to start job hunting.

    8. amoeba*

      I mean, if the pay is not also adjusted to the same for each of you, I’d let it go. At least in my company, you can definitely have people with different amounts of seniority and responsibility with the same title but proportional pay. And honestly, nobody cares, at least if the titles are something generic like “project manager” or “team lead” which could (at least in my field) mean just about anything.

      1. Susie*

        But management is putting together specific roles for each position. So they are just grouping us all together.

        1. TechWorker*

          At some companies it is normal for people to have the same title/role but differing levels of pay/responsibility. I think it’s more useful to focus on pay/responsibility (which is admittedly hard because it’s not as public as title) & then focus on progression from there . If you have the same title but you’re paid more and are closer to promotion that’s different to if you have the same title and pay and promotion prospects.

          1. abca*

            Yes this is fairly common in software development too. Your title is just software engineer but there are clearly different levels of responsibility. I see the same with admins too. Even if you have ‘admin’ and ‘senior admin’ typically people would move to senior within 5 years and then you still have 40 years of work with the same title.

    9. gsa*

      I have worked in the same industry since I was 24, that’s almost 30 years.

      Everyone that does/did the same job had
      /has the same title. Seniority was based on ability and experience and pay reflected that.

      From everything you said, I don’t think they’re going to create a total for you. Like others have said, I would focus more on what you’ve achieved, and use that when it comes time for merit raises.

    10. cncx*

      Are you sure this isn’t coming from hr?
      I worked at a place post merger where I, the desktop support analyst, was given the same title, system engineer, as the senior person on my team who actually was a system engineer and frankly worked a lot more and was smarter than me. So I’m the Angelica. Big Company HR’s rationale was that everyone reporting to our boss had the same title.

      Senior wasn’t mad because our salaries were frozen and he got paid what he should have been for doing senior work, but when I left that job it was really hard explaining why I was looking for service desk and desktop jobs.

      My point is sometimes it is even more boneheaded than you think and don’t read into it. Focus on your referees saying what you did and having a clear cv. That is what helped me.

    11. Sucky situation*

      Have you posted about that? I’m pretty sure I’ve seen posts very similar to that on the weekly before. Frankly, i think your boss has clarity. They are probably making the change in response to you asking about the promotion and difference in levels on several occasions. Sounds like TPTB decided to make you all the same level to fix the problem. I hate to say this, and it’s going to sound cruel, but you aren’t higher on the org chart anymore. You may have been before, but the structure has changed and you are on the same level as the other two as far as the company is concerned. You’ve got more experience, and get paid more, sure, but you aren’t higher than the other two. Pretending to be promoted on LinkedIn is a bad idea, but you know that.

      1. Sucky situation*

        I’m saying this under the assumption you are the poster I’ve seen here before, the role situation is pretty identical.

  4. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    My coworker asked me what condition I have that makes my voice sound like that ( I’ve had a terrible lisp since childhood). How much do interviewers take this sort of thing into account? I’m already trying to pretend I’m healthy, not anxious, etc, but I totally forgot about the way my voice sounds ( sometimes a small child might comment but they are shushed by the others…)

    1. Rayray*

      This is a rude and invasive question in my opinion. I hope that most interviewers are reasonable and know that lisps and speech impediments have nothing to do with your skills and abilities as a worker.

      I sympathize as I have a slight lisp and have dealt with rudeness too. I Truly think most people won’t think too much of it.

    2. Higher Ed Kitten Party*

      Your coworker is a weird jerk. Lisps are extremely common and truly no big deal. I can’t imagine a scenario where I would take a lisp into consideration when hiring someone.

    3. Not teenage but still ninja turtle*

      Ask your coworker what kind of condition they have that makes them behave so rudely to the people they work with.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        lol. We just have different personalities. While I realize that my personality is hard to deal with I tend to show only a sunny side at work while my coworker once got into an argument with my boss about how our job doesn’t pay enough ( tbh my boss doesn’t control this)

        1. LR*

          Noooooo. This is not a different personalities thing. Even if you are choosing to be a very forgiving person about it, that is an extremely stupid and rude question to ask.

          Functioning adults know what a lisp is and that it’s not caused by any specific condition. Even if your head is too far under a rock to know what a freaking speech impediment is, it’s a very rude question to ask and there’s literally no reason that anyone would assume there was some type of “condition” “causing” one.

          Even if they were stupid enough to genuinely believe that a lisp was a medical condition, asking a coworker who you’re not even friendly with what kind of medical condition they have is also horrifically inappropriate.

          There is honestly no excuse for an adult to ask that let alone of a coworker.

    4. BubbleTea*

      The only jobs where I can imagine this mattering are audio based jobs, like voiceovers or audio describing. I worked adjacent to someone who did a lot of work on phones and talking to people, and she had a significant stammer – it didn’t make her any less excellent at her job, it just meant a fraction of a seconds pause for her to get words out sometimes. Anyone who makes comments or dismisses you for a speech difference is an arse.

    5. Bébé chat*

      I also have a terrible lisp, I sympathize with you so much. I hate to think about it and I’m sorry your coworker was such an idiot. I had no problems finding a job and everyone is respectful of my speech difference. Most people are absolutely normal and polite about these things, interviewers included.

    6. Rainy*

      I have a lisp! I did speech therapy as a kid in public school and that helped some, but at a certain point I needed braces to correct it the rest of the way and my parents refused to take me to an orthodontist. So I had a noticeable lisp until I got braces in my 30s to correct the overjet.

      I didn’t honestly ever experience issues with my lisp professionally. I think your coworker is just a rude person who doesn’t understand that questions like that are considered impolite. I know it’s easy to say “don’t worry about it” and hard to do, but seriously, your coworker is just an ass. Try not to let it get to you.

    7. Mimmy*

      Your coworker is being incredibly nosy.

      You don’t say what types of jobs you’re looking for, but in terms of interviewers, they’re not supposed to evaluate you on the basis of a disability or condition. They also cannot ask questions about a disability, only about your ability to perform the essential tasks with or without reasonable accommodations.

    8. There You Are*

      1. Depending on your relationship with your co-worker, this could be considered rude or friendly-curious.

      2. I don’t think [good] interviewers give things like this much brain space beyond the initial and very brief observation: “This candidate sounds slightly different from the average candidate.” Just like noting that someone has tassels on their loafers. You see it, your brain registers it because it’s there, but it’s a neutral observation.

    9. Linda*

      I don’t have a lisp, but I have another condition that affects my speech. I also work in a field where giving presentations, sometimes to large audiences, is a common but not necessarily essential job duty. I couldn’t swear that I’ve never lost a job offer due to having a less than ideal voice, but it’s been much less of a problem than I would have thought.

      I do frequently have coworkers, friends of friends, and total strangers ask what’s wrong with my voice, so I feel your pain there.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        yes people used to comment more often but as I became older my fake work voice has become better, so there’s only a trace of oddness.

    10. LR*

      I think some more to race or gender or weight, or anything else in that category people will notice and have some internal biases but a good person and good interviewer will do their best to minimize that.

      The only reason you might have an issue with a good interviewer would be if it’s harder for new people to understand you. For example, I’m always fine with people with strong accents as long as I’ve known them for a few weeks. When I first talk to them, especially if it’s over video attend to struggle.

      It could be worth looking into if you were easy to understand, or if there are certain words that are tricky, but honestly, I would assume it will be fine unless you see evidence to the contrary. Lisps are common! People know what they are. Your coworker just sucks.

    11. Ellis Bell*

      I have a lot of 11yo+ students with lisps (sometimes it affects the way students learn phonics and I give them that extra attention they need for pronouncing new words) and I hardly notice it; to the point where I’ve been given a student to work on phonics with, without being told of a lisp, and I haven’t picked up on it. Even though we are literally focusing on how we pronounce words, it just doesn’t matter that much a lot of the time because they pronounce just fine, but in a slightly softer way. I forget about it so much, that if another student notices it, I’m surprised; and even then the person picking up on it seems to be more ‘Im only just now noticing something’ rather than ‘wow that is noticeable’. I think the only time I’ve really noticed is one student who I had to teach to pop his lips to make a “p” sound to, and even then he had a pleasant voice! I have no idea how bad your particular lisp is but I work with students who are still trying to wrap their tongues around academic words. I will say that the person who seems to notice it the most is the person with the lisp! I was working with a student yesterday with a new, multisyllabic word which would be a bit of a tongue twister for anyone’s first attempt at it. He was saying the word about 90 per cent right on a first attempt (better than most people) and I was saying “Good but tweak where you’re saying (sound) at the end” and he said “Oh that’s because of my lisp” and I hadn’t had any idea up till that point.

    12. allathian*

      Oof, I feel you. I don’t have a lisp, but I do have another speech impediment in that I can’t say the Finnish r sound properly in combination with some other consonants and especially if I’m tired. The Finnish r is a rolled r with the tip of the tongue, and it’s typically the last sound most kids learn to say. It’s troublesome with some consonants but not with others, so maybe it isn’t as noticeable as similar speech impediments that affect all letter combinations. It’s very similar to the Spanish r sound. Thankfully I haven’t had any issues with it in my career, or my personal life, for that matter.

      I’m sorry that people have been unpleasant about this to you.

  5. Bunny Girl*

    Okay I need to know if I am off-base in thinking this is totally inappropriate. I work at a desk job. I’m not doing anything dangerous. But my company pulled me aside the other day to do a random alcohol and drug test. I did it, even though I thought it was ridiculous and old fashioned. Well I take a medication for my anxiety that definitely popped up on my screen. I was asked about it and proved I had a script for it. But the department that does our drug screens isn’t HR, it’s one I work closely with and my company is A ) Old fashioned and B ) Gossipy AF. I really didn’t think that was appropriate that I had to disclose my medical business to someone that isn’t HR, and who I work with to meet goals because now I’m worried that my medical history is going to be taken into account when I make decisions. Am I out of place to be mad about this?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      You should have known in advance if the company has a screening policy. Is the department that does the screenings the security department? (which is common in government contracting). Security professionals should know to be more tight-lipped than anyone.

      The whole thing sounds shambolic.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        Nope. I was never told that I would have to do any sort of random drug screening. It isn’t any sort of security department that does the screens. I work in transportation. It’s common for CDL holders to get drug screens but I was never told it extended to office staff. It was the managing department for the drivers and someone from my own department who conducted the screen.

        1. Helewise*

          I’ve had pre-employment drug screens and physicals for transportation agency work, but generally only personnel safety-sensitive status had them routinely. I can see requiring them of everyone to make things “fair,” but that should be outlined in the organization’s drug and alcohol testing policy and available to you. Have you asked to review the policy?

        2. Been There*

          I was tested on alcohol when I worked for a transportation company. Something to do with the drivers having to be tested, so everyone needed to be tested for fairness.

    2. CatCat*

      I would be extremely angry. What you’re describing is illegal where I live. I’d be looking for a new job, tbh. If it were me, there’s nothing the org could do to recover from this over reach and significant privacy intrusion.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        Trust me I’m looking for a new job for a vast variety of other reasons but this was just the cherry on top.

    3. Seahorse*

      I worked for a couple companies that did random drug screenings. Substance abuse in some positions would be a genuine safety risk, so they occasionally tested everyone to be “fair.” In another case, it was required due to a government contract. It was just a condition of the job in both places, and at least I personally was never mad about the existence of drug testing. They were mostly just a minor irritant.

      Both companies had outside medical facilities handle the screen and pass the results to HR though. It sounds like that’s not the case for you, and that definitely sucks! I’d be upset too if I had to disclose prescriptions or medical history to coworkers.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        This has been my experience too. I’ve worked for manufacturing companies and they have made it clear that all employees (even those not working with machinery) can be subject to random drug screens. I never heard of anyone actually being tested while working there (most/all people had a drug screen before they started) and all pre-employment drug tests were done by third-party labs.

      2. Bunny Girl*

        How it was handled was the main reason I was irritated. I really didn’t want to tell my coworkers that A ) I had mental health issues and B ) took a hefty med for it. I don’t work anywhere that if I did want to indulge in hanging out with my good friend Mary it would have been a big deal if I wasn’t on the clock. But I was never told anything about random drug screens before I was hired.

      3. WellRed*

        I don’t even understand how they did this without an outside medical company? Did she pee in a cup and hand it to a coworker?

          1. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

            Oh, gross! I worked for a company that did random drug screenings because we worked with onsite with pharmaceutical product including opioids, but HR did oral swabs. And we were 100% informed that it was a condition of the job before accepting.

            I’d be screwed if my current company sprung this on me, as I do edibles on the weekends.

            1. Bunny Girl*

              Right? I know a couple people are nervous now because they partake on the weekends. I partake on occasion but by on occasion I mean every few years. As I said in another comment, I don’t think it’s anyone’s business as long as if isn’t a problem in your job. But I live in a red state and this is 100% a Good Ole Boy company and they all think that MJ is the devil’s lettuce.

              1. I have RBF*

                I’m lucky. My current employer does drug screens, but since we’re in California and they are not a federal contractor they don’t count MJ use. This is good because I use it regularly for medical reasons – it’s the best thing for my insomnia. I was never a stoner when I was younger because THC put me to sleep, but now it’s the perfect sleep aid.

          2. There You Are*

            Holy WHAT???

            “You want me to hand my urine to a co-worker? Who isn’t a medical professional or a lab technician?”

            Nothing surprises me about labor laws in the U.S., but if this isn’t illegal, it should be. Holy invasion of privacy and bodily fluids, batman!

            1. Bunny Girl*

              Haha right? I was kind of flabbergasted about the entire thing. Like if they had sent me to a medical office or lab, I would have been annoyed but shrugged. But peeing for my coworker sounds like something that crosses the line.

          3. Rosyglasses*

            No way! This seems wildly illegal. It makes me wonder if they are hunting for something on you. Medical information even has to be kept in a separate place in HR files – there can be fines for the company if it is found in the same place as other information because only limited folks are supposed to have access.

            Many states have confidentiality rules about medical information. Federally, they could be liable for violating ADA:


            The ADA requires employers to maintain the confidentiality of employee medical information obtained from a medical inquiry or examination, including medical information from voluntary health or wellness programs. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) provides the following examples of when medical information may be shared:

            To supervisors and managers when they need medical information in order to provide a reasonable accommodation or to meet an employee’s work restrictions.
            To first aid and safety personnel if an employee needs emergency treatment or would require some other assistance (such as help during an emergency evacuation) because of a medical condition.
            To individuals investigating compliance with the ADA and with similar state and local laws.
            To a state workers’ compensation office in order to evaluate a claim or for insurance purposes.
            Employers must also maintain an employee’s medical records separately from the employee’s general personnel file, with access to such files restricted to designated officials.

            Also this from NOLO:

            There are some legal constraints on testing employees for drug usage in most private employment jobs.

            In some states, companies cannot conduct blanket drug tests of all employees or random drug tests; the testing must be focused on an individual, either because the employer has a good reason to believe that person is using drugs or because the person’s job carries a high risk of injury or damage if performed by someone who is under the influence.

            Courts have generally ruled that companies may test employees after an accident that could have been caused by drug use or an incident in which the employee appeared to be impaired. For example, a bulldozer operator who swerved the machine through a field crowded with workers could be the legal target of drug testing. And a legal secretary found slumped at her desk, unable to respond cogently to questions asked of her, was also considered fair game for a drug test.

          4. Mr. Shark*

            Wow, that’s just awful. I, too, work for a manufacturing company, and had to take a drug test prior to employment even though I don’t work machines.
            Even then it was handled by a third-party company.
            I’ve never heard of any random screenings by employees since then. I would think if there were an accident they might be screened to rule out the possibility of the employee being under the influence. But I can’t imagine an office employee getting randomly screened and by a co-worker. Ugh!

            1. Cj*

              I worked for a company that does mostly manufacturing, but I was in the corporate office in accounting. I had to do a drug screen before I started, and my migraine and pain medications, which are barbiturates and opiates, showed up on the screen. the lab called me and asked if I had scripts for them, I gave them the information, and it wasn’t reported to my employer. they later found this out and we’re really pissed. they thought the lab was reporting all positive tests to them, whether it was prescription or not. I don’t know what the law says about this.

          5. goddessoftransitory*

            If they tried to use it against you in any way, that terrible protocol would be enough to push back HARD. Your coworker (besides being asked to handle their colleagues’ pee–GROSS) is not a trained medical worker and would not know how to handle samples properly. There could be all sorts of issues with cross contamination, exposing your coworker to disease, storage/transportation and length of time before the samples were tested, and that’s just off the top of my head! Your company is cruising for a lawsuit!

    4. Sunflower*

      Most companies have policies in their handbook that employees can be randomly screened at any time. I’ve never had to take a drug test but the possibility of having to do it at any time, without warning, has been in every employee handbook I’ve had.

      They should have better systems in place so the person doing the test and privy to the results doesn’t actually work with or know the person they are giving the test to. That seems completely wrong.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        Right. Like I am 100% against random testing of people whose jobs don’t require it, because I don’t think that what I do outside work hours should be anyone’s business. But I understand that it’s a requirement of some companies so I just try to avoid those and roll my eyes at the requirement and comply if needed.

        But I don’t think I should need to expose the status of my mental health to my coworkers. Especially because not a single person in this company can keep their mouths shut.

    5. HBJ*

      I administer a federally-mandated drug abatement program. This sounds weird to me. This is not at all how my program works. First, only individuals doing “safety-sensitive” work are subject to testing and included in the testing pool. But of course, a company could certainly choose to put a random person in their testing pool if they wanted.

      Second, people in the testing pool are clearly notified that they are subject to random drug testing. There’s a handbook they are required to sign for acknowledging that they’ve read it or at least been given the time to read it that lays out the protocol. There’s also other paperwork they have to sign acknowledging they’ll be subject to testing. They are also required to undergo training. There’s also required signage posted around the workplace.

      I’m not quite sure how your place is set up, but under our program, meds would be disclosed to the medical review officer who reviews the drug test. We have never had this situation (an individual on prescriptions that need to be disclosed) that I’m aware of, so I don’t know in real life how it would go. My understanding based on my training is that the MRO would contact your doctor, who would have to verify you can safely do work while on the meds.

      Finally, tests are just that, random. For my company, they are pulled by a computer system by our third-party-administrator. I never even see it, just get a notice to send someone for testing. Whether or not you’ve been acting suspicious or what you’re doing for work is irrelevant. If you’re in the testing pool, you could be pulled.

      1. Ama*

        Yeah, I’m definitely not as much of an expert as you are HBJ, but I’ve never heard of a properly administered drug testing program that didn’t ask participants *before* the test if there were any medications they took regularly and made it clear that that info was only shared with the testers so they’d know it would be there. Doing it after the fact seems like someone either screwed up and forgot that step or doesn’t know they *should* do that step which makes me wonder how official this program is.

        1. 1LFTW*

          FWIW, for my animal shelter job I’d to do a pre-employment screening that didn’t allow me to disclose medications ahead of time.

          It was annoying, because I had to wait for the test to come back positive for my ADHD medication, and then I had to deal with the testing company calling me back while I was on vacation, and the person calling me acted all suspicious when I couldn’t supply ALL the information on my prescription bottle immediately. I was like, I am literally in the middle of the National Air and Space Museum right now! Even if I had my meds on me, I would not be reading that information out in public!

          That said, it was a much better situation than Bunny Girl’s. All my info stayed with the testing company, so none of my prescription info was shared with my employer. And I damn well didn’t have to pee in a cup and hand it to some random coworker. *shudder*

    6. Nesprin*

      I work in a place where I’m subject to drug testing, but they give you 24 hrs to report to an outside clinic, the clinic staff get my sample + any relevant med lists and my employer’s HR only gets a yes or no.

      The way your office did it is … nutty… and if not illegal should be illegal.

      1. HBJ*

        This is going to vary based on the program. I don’t know how non fed programs work, but for my federally regulated program, this is not the case. When someone gets pulled for a random, they have to take the test immediately. The only allowable lapsed time between notification and testing is drive time to a testing site.

        This scenario might be sketchy in other ways but requiring the test immediatey is not.

    7. Ellis Bell*

      People have definitely unionised over less. This sounds like a complete shit show. It sounds like your company are on a witch hunt for what they see as slacker stoners, without any genuine safety concerns behind it, and are so hyper focused on that they’ve put nothing in place to protect medical privacy. I bet that’s why there was no forewarning, which is how these things are typically done. If your other colleagues are also concerned, it might be worth pushing back as a group to HR to get a definitive statement on how any samples or results will be privacy protected from your colleagues (ignoring the obvious fact that they definitely are not so they can spell that out) since they contain medical information. Before submitting to any test I’d want time to review the trustworthiness of the set up; it was very unfair to pressure you on the spot. I’d also want to know how they’re going to avoid mixing them up! It’s just a colleague with a pee cup FFS – that’s a great set up for a situational comedy but this is real life. Another thing you could all do is contact a lawyer; even if surprise drug testing is legal, there’s got to be rules about how they use or disseminate your medical information. Possibly after you leave to make sure they haven’t put it in a filing cabinet for anyone to rifle through? But yeah, I understand if all you want to focus on is getting out of Dodge.

  6. Tuesday*

    Just venting. I posted a few weeks ago wondering if any other copywriters were getting discouraged about AI. This week I was informed by my boss that all blog posts will be written with AI moving forward. The blog was the most fun part of my job! Really not sure where to go from here. I like actually researching and writing, not just editing something a robot wrote.

    1. Nea*

      Maybe if you show them how much editing you’d have to do? If you end up rewriting the thing from scratch to make it not sound like it was written in outer space, perhaps you can go back to them in a little bit and say “it takes x time to write it myself and x+y time to fix this so it won’t embarrass the company.”

      In other words, can you get statistics to prove that the AI loses them money?

      1. Tuesday*

        That’s been my argument for the past month or so, but the answer is that I’m not to do more than a light proofread on anything. They don’t care about the quality, just about having new content appearing on the website even though that’s not how any of this should work. I’ve tried pushing back in other ways to no avail! It just sucks realizing that my favorite part of my job is something no one else values.

        1. J*

          I am horrified. Maybe it’s just the field I work in but I’ve had the AI literally make up citations and laws, but they sound legit. I overlap between legal and healthcare and it’s also made up journal articles and conclusions on the healthcare front. I’ve been able to basically pre-draft materials in jargon and the AI does a good enough job of translating it for the general public but I still need to review it like I had an intern do it because it simplifies things to the point of inaccuracy.

          The point of a blog should be to be showing you’re an industry thought leader. If they push out enough, it will be obvious to readers that it’s AI and customers/readers will feel they’re being duped. (I know you know this, just some arguments in your favor) I think I’d be redlining and saving emails about this for a CYA, along with site stats. Show comparisons in whatever metrics they care about between written v AI drafted. Also be sure to let them know about the IP implications. I’d be occasionally searching the web for articles copied from you or things confusingly similar if others in your field might be using the same prompts.

        2. Ormond Sackler*

          If they care that little, you probably need a new job anyway. It sounds like all they want are just plausible sounding words.

        3. Ellis Bell*

          Horrifying. Genuine question: can your bosses actually read? As in actually comprehend when they read? It’s more common to be a masked illiterate than most people think. Okay, what I’m really curious about is what are the goals of this blog from their perspective? Do they care if anyone actually reads it? Or is it just a window dressing of a bunch of post titles to them?

          1. Tuesday*

            Haha, very valid questions. I was hired specifically for my blog writing expertise because they didn’t have a blog at all when I started, but they really don’t understand that content marketing is a long-term strategy. I think when they didn’t immediately start seeing tons of sales they tuned out all of the explanations and just decided it was a waste of time. Honestly a bummer. I have other tasks that I do here so I still have a job, but it’s frustrating.

        4. Random Dice*

          I suspect it’ll be like when everyone got outsourced offshore, and then there was a correction when management realized that actually offshore has serious limitations and rehired local folks (though fewer).

          They need to see how bad it gets, before they’ll learn. Don’t get in the way of their learning!

          But it’s ok to grieve.

    2. Betty*

      You should absolutely share with them the huge amount of evidence that AI is truly terrible at providing accurate citations/references and that there are some well-publicized cases of AI generating clearly plagiarized content, and note that this will absolutely undermine the blog’s/company’s equity when people realize they can no longer trust it.

      1. Tuesday*

        Believe me, I’ve tried! I presented all of the facts when they first brought it up a little over a month ago, but I guess they’ve weighed the pros and cons and decided that it’s better to use it.

        1. Other Alice*

          Wait a few months until readership/views have tanked, see if they are willing to reconsider. To be honest I’d start looking, if their mentality is to use AI to cut costs at the expense of quality, they might just do away with editors, and who knows what next.

          1. Ellis Bell*

            Yeah some people are determined to learn through failure and are constantly pushing the boundaries of failure until they discover the least amount of effort that they can get away with

    3. Diocletian Blobb*

      Another thing that may get their attention is that, depending on the level of human involvement, you may or may not be able to copyright an AI-written article. If the blog is truly something no one reads and purely for SEO purposes, they may not care, but any company that takes its marketing materials seriously should be concerned about this.

      1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        Maybe also suggest that they consider the risk that AI-written blog posts would infringe on someone else’s copyright. Those models are trained to predict what “should” come next, based on the sort of things that are already on the internet. They’ll probably be fine if the sentence is something like “I love playing with my cat,” but if you ask it “write a review of Xyzzy Italian restaurant in Brighton” it could easily give you back an already-published review of that restaurant. Or of a restaurant in a different town with the same name.

        But that’s at best a way to buy time, given that they have said “we are doing this, and don’t care if the posts are any good.”

    4. WellRed*

      As a journalist I am screaming in horror right along side you. As others have said, your website blog clicks will probably fall along with time page metrics when readers realize it’s a good rod salad.

    5. LCH*

      Also, what are the odds on AI stating something false? Or is AI really good at fact checking? Fingers crossed AI starts announcing amazing discounts as promotionals for your company!

      1. Indolent Libertine*

        A friend of mine asked chatGPT to write a biography of him. The first paragraph was fairly reasonable, according to him, and it deteriorated from there, with about 75% of it simply being made up.

        1. new year, new name*

          Someone I follow on Twitter tried this, and according to the resulting biography he died five years ago.

      2. Double A*

        No, current AI language models are not in any way trained or programmed for truth or credibility; they’re just word prediction machines.

    6. Maggie*

      Just chiming in to say if anyone wants a lighthearted but good explanation of some of the issues with AI (and some of the pros) check out the John Oliver episode from a few weeks ago in season 10.

  7. Rayray*

    Just want to vent that I hate job searching. It’s so demoralizing when you apply for a job that you meet the listed qualifications in the listing with transferable skills and you get rejected. The job got reposted today. It’s not even this specific job that I care about, it’s the feeling that I will never find anything different that I like and that will pay better. I know it takes time and a lot of work to find a new job, but I e been at it for a long time. I’ve been a little picky because I made the mistake before of leaving one job and ending up in a worse one, but I still am losing confidence. I have people asking me how it’s going and I appreciate their kindness so much but I hate talking about it at this point.

    I feel like I have a solid resume and have been commended for my work ethic, but I feel like I can’t even get my foot in the door anywhere to get an interview and show how I could be a good employee.

    1. Bunny Girl*

      I can relate to this. I just recently graduated after having gone to school later in life (I’m 31). I have about 15 years of work history and a lot of my skills are transferable in most situations, but I am going into a competitive STEM field and “getting my foot in the door” in one of the traditional starting out jobs would require me to take a 50% pay cut, when I don’t make a lot anyway. It’s frustrating because most of these jobs are situated for young people who still live with their parents and don’t have any family obligations or a need for insurance. It’s getting very discouraging.

    2. ThatgirlK*

      Oh I totally feel you! I can’t tell you the number of times I applied for jobs that I am very qualified for and NEVER receive a call back. This happens to me alot for larger organizations, where my resume seems to go to some corner of their application system to die.

      A good friend of the family works for large hospital system in my area. He was hiring for a specific role in his office that he thought I would be a good fit for. He is bound by the recruiting aspects of the system. I applied but my resume, once again got lost in the other sea of applications out there. His hands were unfortunately tied.

    3. Anastia Beaverhousen*

      I recently read something about ghost jobs, meaning that companies are posting for jobs that they have no intention of filling because they are either trying to placate overworked staff by trying to appear that they are trying to hire or because they want to appear they are a growing company when they are not. I wonder if this is what you are running into?

      1. Reed Weird*

        That’s what I was wondering too! I’m also experiencing this, I’ve applied for dozens of jobs in the last two months and have only gotten so much as confirmations and then maybe a form rejection from a third of them. Once, I sent in an application at 10pm and got a rejection exactly ten minutes after I sent it in.

      2. rayray*

        I am curious about this actually. I notice especially on linkedin there are jobs that get posted over and over again. I may keep an eye on this one.

        In this case, it was more of a “Meh, may as well try” application. I hear a lot of mixed things about the organization, it’s a major healthcare company in my state. The CEO recently stepped down and from what I understand, it’s a very good thing that employees are happy about. I actually had a brief interaction with him over the phone at a previous job and he was not nice, and it’s actually why I have not wanted to apply for any jobs at this organization until I heard he was stepping down.

    4. HigherEdAdminista*

      I am right there with you. When I have been on the job market, my experience is that even when I fit the qualifications extremely well; have a personalized, strong cover letter, and have made sure my resume reflects the position, I receive almost zero responses.

      The last time I was searching, I can’t tell you how many positions I applied to and I received exactly two interview offers. When I went to the first interview, it was like they discarded every answer I said in favor of their feelings about my experience; I was rejected shortly afterwards. In my second interview experience, I received the job.

      Since I have been in this position, I have occasionally applied for moving up the ladder type of positions in my field and I have not received even a single interview request. It starts to feel like they have someone in mind for 99% of jobs they post, and the posting is just a formality.

  8. Frustrated in Texas*

    My coworker and I are peers on the same team, but she constantly asks for help on basic things. She’s always been this way, although it was more frequent when she started 3 years ago. When she joined the company, I actually had to say something to my manager because it was so time consuming and someone else was training her. It’s gotten less frequent over the past year because she literally doesn’t work. The portfolio she manages is small so it’s easy for her to blow off her duties because upper management cares about the other portfolios (including mine) more. So she messages me about once a month asking about basic things she can figure out herself. Like if she runs into an error message in one of the platforms we use, or finding the most recent email in a chain. She can’t take 5 seconds to Google or try to solve it, she literally needs someone to tell her what to do.

    Now we have a new manager of about 6 months, and I don’t think he’s aware of how much help she needs because she does a good job of asking everyone else for help except for him. There is some other weird stuff she does, but I think it boils down to she’s unsuited for this role and her attitude is terrible. Should I mention to my boss that she still needs help with basic stuff and won’t take the steps to figure out anything herself? Now that she doesn’t really work, her questions have been infrequent, so I can’t really be like “it’s taking up too much of my time”. Since it’s always been this way it’s a pattern with her. The work she produces is very subpar, and I’m not sure why management enables her. And if I do bring it up to my boss, should I tell him the next time it happens? I’m worried he’ll think I’m criticizing his management, or that I’m not being a team player.

    1. Lana Kane*

      Can you start directing her to your manager when she has questions? Or asking her, “What have you tried so far?”

      1. Anastia Beaverhousen*

        This, direct her back to her supervising manager for any questions, that is the only way they will get clued in as to how she is actually performing.

    2. T. Wanderer*

      Maybe next time she asks something basic, try directing her to your manager — and then in the next checkin you have with him, follow up. “Coworker asked me [basic question] recently. It’s not the first time she’s asked me simple questions like this, so I directed her to you in case there’s something bigger-picture going on. Has she followed up?”

    3. Sparking Stardust*

      I think at some point it’s fine to say, “I already sent you notes on how to do that several times, please refer back to my earlier email” and “what have you tried so far?” I’m guessing she asks you because that’s her easiest solution so if you slow down your helpfulness a little bit…

    4. allathian*

      Redirect that employee to your manager. Make her failure to perform his problem, he isn’t invested in doing anything about it because it doesn’t affect him. As long as you make it clear how much you’ve already helped, it shouldn’t affect his perception of you as a team player. As your manager, he presumably has the right to decide where your efforts are best spent, if he decides that you should spend your time coaching your coworker who isn’t doing her job, that’s on him. And you can decide whether the time has come to look for a new job…

  9. cardigarden*

    I guess right now I could just use tips and tricks for handling my own mental health while the process of dealing with a difficult employee (poor emotional regulation, complete lack of personal accountability, etc) winds its way through the system. I SHOULD be at the “progressive discipline” stage of this process, but because none of this person’s managers prior to me bothered to officially report anything, I’m still stuck in “identifying patterns of behavior”. I’m not really in a position to look for something else, but I’m steadily running out of spoons.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      This probably doesn’t totally map onto your situation, but you might get a few good ideas from Captain Awkward post #450: How to tighten up your game at work when you’re depressed. It’s a good game-plan for how to allocate a dwindling supply of spoons.

    2. Anastia Beaverhousen*

      Document everything, give written feedback that shows their strengths and SMART goals for areas of improvement. If they are not able to reach those goals by the deadline you move to the next step of the process. E.g. Will improve attendance at work by not missing more than X number of days during the assessment period outside of absences approved by a doctor.

      1. cardigarden*

        I have been documenting all the things, and they’ve met the bare minimum of performance goals. However, when I report that he makes sexist comments and yells at me when I have to give constructive feedback, I get “it’s your responsibility to teach [grown man with grown children who is not new to the workforce] how to behave properly.” It’s exhausting, because the vibe I’m getting is that there’s still not enough documentation to do anything.

        1. Rainy*

          That is really an unreasonable response. It is not your responsibility as a manager to teach an adult how to behave. I don’t have any advice for how to handle it, because I’m just so croggled it’s happening, but I am VERY sympathetic.

        2. House On The Rock*

          Whoever is telling you that it’s your responsibility to teach *anyone* to not make bigoted comments or yell in the workplace is wrong. That is not on you at all.

          If he’s becoming insulting/belligerent with his manager, that’s grounds for immediate dismissal. I work for an organization where it’s notoriously hard to discipline and fire even very bad employees, but I’ve gotten guidance from HR that this kind of behavior goes above and beyond the normal process.

          In terms of dealing with that, yes document, but cut short any meetings where he does this and then immediately report directly to HR. And keep doing that. I’m so sorry, I know what it’s like to inherit a performance problem and it’s awful.

        3. Irish Teacher.*

          I don’t have any advice, but just wanted to say that they seem to be expecting you to behave more like a teacher dealing with children or younger teens than a manager with adult employees.

          And honestly, even dealing with teens, if I reported that one of my students were making sexist remarks and yelling at me, they would be suspended. It’s ridiculous that you seem to be expected to take more responsibility for the behaviour of a grown adult than I would be expected to do with my students.

        4. Ellis Bell*

          Wow. How about: “I think it sets a bad legal precedent to ask a member of a protected group to defend themselves against bigoted language, even if they are the person’s manager. Managers don’t have the authority to immediately terminate, and it’s obvious that the employee isn’t going to respect the manager’s authority if they are using bigoted language against them. What is the actual HR policy on persistent sexism/racism from one employee to another? I know usually it would be enforced by a manager, and this is an unusual situation where the employee is bold enough to target one’s own manager, but I’m sure HR or more senior managers can apply the policy, instead of leaving this situation between the two employees which seems certain to encourage even more bigoted language without additional support.”

        5. Miss C.*

          Definitely report this and frame it as a hostile work environment. Their fear of you filing a lawsuit should outweigh their seeming fear of firing (or even harshly disciplining!) him.

        6. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

          I am really sorry & sympathetic! I have a few analogous things going on that mean I feel for you, though not as serious as this (no-one is shouting sexist things at me, wtf).

          Do you have a code of conduct or similar? In my role I am explicitly responsible for managing both performance and behaviour (conduct/misconduct). Weirdly my institution makes it much easier to manage conduct (robust policies!) than performance (basically no structure and support!)

          In terms of mental health stuff, I try to remind myself that it’s not me, it’s them. And I have a group of other women and agender colleagues/friends in leadership roles to vent to. And you should be really proud of yourself for taking action when nobody else has – that is going to make a huge impact on quality of life for this guy’s coworkers.

          Hang in there – you are doing a good thing.

    3. Sparking Stardust*

      My suggestions are to focus on ways you can practice self care. Outside of work find fun ways to relax, do things you enjoy, take a long bath, put on a favorite lotion, treat yourself to a favorite meal or dessert, get a massage or pedicure, take up a new hobby or one you used to enjoy if it sounds fun, listen to favorite music or audiobooks, etc. I think if you increase your focus on your own self care then you will be more confident in how to deal with the difficult employee as you document patterns and interact with them… You don’t deserve to be yelled at or receive sexist comments. Ugh.

  10. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

    Has anyone ever had a graduate intern? I want to bring up the idea to my boss; we’re at an academic library, and I think we could make an internship genuinely a tremendous educational opportunity for a student enrolled in library science school. I don’t know if we have the funding for a paid intern, though obviously that would be preferable.

    How does having an intern work with HR? What are the big pitfalls to avoid in bringing on an intern?

    1. Princess Peach*

      We have a couple interns every semester in my academic library, and it seems to be a good experience all around in most cases. Many grad programs require internships for college credit. Could you work with an MLIS program to set up something that would give the student experiential credit?

    2. cardigarden*

      So I’ve worked in places that have done official student employment and internship-for-credit. For the student employees, our employee management system has a job family category for “hourly student”. So, your university probably has something like that set up and you would just have to talk to whoever is in charge of your library budget to see if there’s room for a student employee in your department.

      When I was at a non-profit, we worked with the local library school as a field study site option. They had a form for us to fill out (for each student) and the student got their field study credit hours. This field study option could also work for you.

      In terms of HR considerations, think about hours they’re allowed to work, when break times are, etc. There’s probably a policy somewhere. I’d reach out to contacts in other units who may have interns and see how it worked for them.

    3. Marian the Librarian*

      I have had (and been) a MLIS intern in an academic library (it is not the program I got my MLIS from).

      I know that our interns are treated like our normal undergraduate student employees in terms of HR; they have to follow the rules and regulations, deal with HR to get them IDs and log-ins and such, and my institution is committed to only allowing paid internships, so we need HR to organize that for us too. We have a specific budget area in our student employee budget that is designated for paying MLIS students, if people want to host them as interns.

      Interns can be so helpful, and it is obviously great for them as well; the only reason I am where I am in my career is literally due to my internship! But it is also a LOT of work, and there are a lot of weird rules and requirements for them, depending on your institution or their grad program. I’d bring it up with your boss, and then if they seem amenable to it, set up a meeting with HR to learn if there’s something you need to know that you’re missing. Good luck!

    4. BellyButton*

      The biggest mistakes I see with having interns is not having a clear cut plan of what they will work on, goals, milestones, coaching and feedback schedule. People bring on interns and then just have them shadow or do busy work. It is useless to everyone involved. Have a clear plan on what they will work on- and it should be real life experience for when they have a FTE position after graduation.

    5. Artemesia*

      You would want to form an alliance with a faculty member who manages interns from a library grad program near you and find out how they manage the process. You want an intern with strong academic demands from the institution for the internship and someone you could confer with if there were issues. In the normal course of things you would only need to confer at the start and perhaps the end of the program, but you need someone, in case. I would do this before proposing it. If you think there is a strong program and a good chance of getting a good intern then bring it up with your management.

      You would want a contract on the front end that outlined some major project or work the intern would do that supports you and their program. You can certainly also expect some % of the time to be whatever scut work needs done in addition. You would also want to arrange for the intern to sit in on meetings or talk with higher ups in the system as part of their experience.

      Some compensation should be offered if at all possible.

      1. Academic Librarian too*

        all of this. I supervise one or two interns each semester. We pay them the a little above the rate as our student workers. I have finite discrete project projects and rubrics for success. Anything they work on is something that will help them when they interview for jobs. I also make sure some of my time with them is spent on mentoring and review their cv’s.
        I am an excellent reference.

    6. LCH*

      The Society of American Archivists has guidelines on internships. I’m sure ALA does too that could help guide you. It would also talk about what isn’t allowed in an unpaid position.

    7. Policy Wonk*

      Pre-COVID we had them almost every semester, but our intern programs are slow to ramp up again. I would start with HR, as I assume your university has interns in other areas, and probably also has assistance-ships and fellowships that might be an alternative. There likely are existing standards. If you are part of a state university system you may also need to comply with government guidelines.

      I much prefer graduate interns to undergrads, as they generally need less close supervision. (Note: generally. It all depends on the individual.)

    8. fantomina*

      I find that the consistency of my graduate interns tends to really depend on how directly and immediately the work applies to their career goals. I’m not in a library, but because the work isn’t directly going to correlate to experience in their fields, a lot of them half-ass it or need a lot of handholding. So my advice is to make sure it is truly educational, contributing to their program learning outcomes, and make it hefty enough to go on a resume (like a corporate internship in another industry would be)

      And if you pay them the same or close to undergrads for doing the professional work they’re paying for, you’re going to get terrible candidates.

  11. Dud Carnegie*

    Any tips or resources for learning soft skills?

    I had an informal review recently at work, and the biggest feedback was to improve my soft / interpersonal skills.

    For context, I spent the last 5+ years at a huge company where there was a form and process for just about everything; I’m now at a very small company and still adjusting to small office culture.

    What soft skills I might be missing if my background is from MegaCorp and I’m now at Mom and Pop Inc?

    Also – is “interpersonal skills” code for “be friendlier”?

    1. londonedit*

      If there was a form and process for everything in your last job, you might want to think about whether your communication/interaction is missing some of the niceties that help to oil the social wheels. If you’re used to emailing people saying ‘TPS report for w/c 20 March attached, deadline for edits 27 March’, you might want to say something more like ‘Hi Fergus, the TPS report for this week is attached. Could you please have a read through and send me your edits by 27 March?’. You also might want to add things like ‘Hope you’re well’ and ‘Many thanks’ (or even Thanks! if it’s a close colleague) to your emails, and if you’re interacting in person, make sure you’re saying please and thank you and taking a bit of time to say ‘How are you?’ and ‘Any plans for the weekend?’ when you’re chatting to people (you don’t need to bother too much about the response either way; again, it’s all just about saying ‘Hello, fellow human that I work with, I acknowledge you’). In meetings or conversations, make sure you don’t interrupt people, and if you’re questioning something, make sure it’s along the lines of ‘That’s interesting; my understanding was that llama groomers shouldn’t cancel appointments without informing the head of grooming – is that not the case?’ rather than ‘No, that’s wrong’. There are loads of other examples, but I’d suggest looking at things like that and seeing where you could be a bit more collaborative.

      1. LadyByTheLake*

        This. I have had to work hard at adding these little pleasantries. As londonedit says, taking the short time to add these little personal touches/framing does wonders and makes life in general so much easier.

    2. Be Gneiss*

      I can’t speak for everywhere, but at NewJob it absolutely was code for “be friendly.” I am awful at small talk and don’t like to share a ton, but I found saying hi in the morning and goodbye in the afternoon and intentionally adding more pleasantries than I typically would to emails and chats was a good start until I made friends and figured out who really cared about how friendly everyone was. It felt very performative, but everything else about the job is great, so it felt silly to say that I don’t like being friendly!

      1. Random Dice*

        In the US, I can’t imagine any place where “you need to work on your interpersonal skills” DOESN’T mean “be friendlier”.

        It’s a socially accepted softer phrase for an uncomfortably blunt statement that you’re being seen as rude or too harsh or treating people like robots. But sadly, those of us with social skills deficits could really use the blunt version.

    3. Super Duper Anon*

      I don’t have resources, but the one thing I have seen working for a small company and a large company is that the smaller the organization, the more flexible and adaptable you have to be. Often times you are working with fewer resources, and there may be fewer or no procedures in place. You may have to wear several hats and pitch in on things outside your scope, be willing to implement new procedures and ways of doing things. Not like these things don’t exist in a larger company too, but since you said you came from a company that had a procedure for everything, this may be something you need to adjust to.

    4. Colette*

      It might be!

      In this comment section, we often see people who don’t want to have any non-work interactions with their coworkers, and that can hurt you professionally – especially at a small company.

      Some things to think about:
      – Do you acknowledge your coworkers when you see them (“Good morning”, “Hi Kevin”, or just a wave)?
      – Do you show interest in others’ lives? (“How was your weekend?”, “Were you caught up in that big traffic jam?”)
      – Do you share (limited) info on your life? (“Went for a nice walk this weekend, looks like spring is here!”, “Can’t wait to get the garden going tonight”, “Well, I’m off to my judo class, see you tomorrow!”)

      Maybe you’re a really friendly person, and this place is just clique-y or “a family” or generally overstepping! But if you think it might be you, you can try out a few things to see if things change.

    5. WellRed*

      I had a coworker tell me her recent review also included this feedback. She’s pretty sure the manager just plucked it off some list because she couldn’t find anything else to give as feedback.

      1. Random Dice*

        I very much doubt that. Your friend should be worried, and should very much up her interpersonal game.

        It’s a strongly negative thing to say. I would never ever tell my direct reports that they need to work on their interpersonal skills if they didn’t!

        She may be confusing it with generic networking advice, but it’s decidedly not that – it’s “you’re missing important social skills and it impacts how you are perceived professionally by me and your coworkers”.

        Unfortunately, it’s being said in neurotypical code, which most of them don’t realize isn’t universal. People with neurotypical wiring all know that they’re using a euphemism for something uncomfortable (and even using the euphemism is uncomfortable for them), and aren’t aware that us neurospicy folks have no idea what they are really saying. So they think the message was conveyed but it wasn’t.

    6. DrSalty*

      Can you ask for more specific details or examples of the kind of behavior that led to that recommendation from the person who did your review? I

      1. Angstrom*

        Yes, do ask for more specifics. It could be anything from “be more positive with your criticism” to “improve how you handle angry customers”.

        In general, I think most “soft skills” come down to being aware of the emotions and desires of the people you are interacting with, and adjusting your own behavior accordingly. today are they seems stressed and just want a quick update, or are they curious and want a more detailed explanation? Stuff like that.

      2. Anonymous Koala*

        Definitely ask for more feedback! Like Angstrom said, this could mean almost anything. But along with asking management for specifics, it may be worth it to ask trusted friends and family if they can think of any interpersonal skills you need to improve.

    7. Bess*

      As others note, ask for specific examples and receive examples openly & positively. Soft skills (depending on where you are) can often be the deciders for advancement and opportunities, because as you move up they become far more critical.

      It could simply be pleasantries, or something about how you’re asking or answering questions, or a thousand other things. Get specifics.

      1. Angstrom*

        And the way you ask for specifics can be good soft skills practice. :-)
        When you ask your manager “Do you have a few minutes to talk about something you said in my review?”, their first thought is going to be that you’re upset, and they’ll be struggling to remember exactly what they said. So your first task is to reassure them that this will be a friendly, positive meeting. You want to learn, and *of course* they want to help. You appreciate having a manager who cares about your development! You’ll be able to see them relax, and then you can comfortably work together to identify specific issues that may be of concern.

        Anticipating likely reactions and having strategies for managing them is a very useful soft skill.

    8. Random Dice*

      They’re saying your content is fine but your delivery is not – you’re perceived as rude or unkind.

      But there is good news, you can learn the skills! There is a whole field of training called pragmatics, taught by speech pathologists among others.

      It’s hugely helpful for us folks who miss underlying social cues or unwritten social rules (which change widely based on location, but most people don’t move enough to know that).

      So for example, the amount of chitchat you have to do before getting to the point with folks from various regions of the country, or be perceived as rude or uncaring about them as people. Or the difference in tone or phrasing between a gentle rebuke versus one that makes you seem like the bad guy.

      A really great book is Michelle Garcia Winner’s Curiously Social, Socially Curious. It talks about what behaviors people expect in various contexts, how patterns of unexpected behaviors shape the beliefs of others about us, and how we can consciously influence the way others think about us by applying straightforward rules.

  12. Quiet Quilting*

    Here’s a fairly general question about work: How invested are you? How invested do you want to me?

    I try not to get too emotionally wrapped up in my job or let it dominate my identity. In the past, I’ve been burned by getting too involved, and I’ve seen the many negative effects that can have. Being in one of those “passion” fields don’t help matters either. Usually, I feel like I maintain solid boundaries, but then something will be threatened or changed, and my emotional reaction surprises me in an unpleasant way.

    However, I don’t want to go through life being apathetic about something that takes up a huge part of my time and energy either. I’d prefer to like my job without giving my heart and soul to an employer. Has anyone else successfully pulled that off? Is that asking too much?

    1. debbietrash*

      Preface: this is more of a commiseration than advice, as I’m currently in a similar situation.

      I used to work in passion industry related to my education/background (arts/non-profit) and repeatedly got burned (and burnt out). I’m now in a different field (medical research admin) that has very good job stability, good pay, and benefits. I’m currently working on reframing my mentality around work from “live to work” to “work to live”. My job is a job. It pays me, and allows me to afford things, in addition to the usual COL bills, like nice meals, hobbies, and vacations. To stay connected to my background in arts I teach on the side, and am exploring new hobbies that are purely for fun, and not for income.

      I recommend finding something outside of work that you feel passionate about or are interested in. Maybe volunteer with an org whose mission you feel strongly about. Or take up a hobby you’ve always been curious about. A big thing I’ve learned from AAM is that it’s okay for a job to just be a job. I hope this is useful in some way, shape, or form. If not, feel free to leave it. Best of luck on your journey!

    2. Cruciatus*

      Well, based on what you’ve said it’s very likely because of the type of job I have but I’m not too invested (and I don’t think I want to be). I work in an academic library as a staff member (non-librarian). I like what I do. But at 4:30 every day I leave it and don’t really have to think about it. There are no major emergencies. I’m usually only stressed for a couple of days at the beginning of a semester. I don’t think I’m apathetic about it–I show up on time, do what I need to do, go where I need to go, but when that part of the day is over it’s over and I think about other things. However, I’m also not paid enough to care more, so there’s that.

      1. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

        I’m also an academic librarian, and this is one of the things I love about it! I’m invested while I’m at work, I care a lot about doing well for the students I work with and I really appreciate my coworkers. But I work during set hours, and after those hours I absolutely do not have to think about work

    3. WhaleToDo*

      After chewing on it a little bit, I think the approach is to not care about your job as a job, but to care about and enjoy elements of it. Things like “I enjoy the opportunity to learn more about X” and “I enjoy working with my coworkers”, and then recognize that those are things that aren’t actually tied to that specific job. This allows you to view your job more clearly and with emotional distance. You also need to have a strong identity and community that isn’t tied to your job so that changes to your job don’t rock your entire world.

      As for how invested I am? I have never had a full-time job that I didn’t end up hating. Fortunately my partner loves working. He’s interested in a lucrative career that takes A Lot of training to get into, so I’m working full time supporting us right now and trying to enjoy what I can of the experience until he finishes his training and gets a job and I can step back to part-time work. It’s funny – I’m not super exhausted and resentful of the time the job takes when I work part-time, so at that point I’m far more committed and perform better. Full-time work wears me down, so I’m constantly exhausted and trying to play catch-up in some area of my life, and I never have the efficiency or quality that I can put out with a part-time job.

    4. Minimal Pear*

      My feeling is that I want to be invested enough that I care about work while I’m at work–that way I’m motivated, happy to help out, proud of what I do, etc. However, I don’t want to be so invested that I care outside of work and spend my free time thinking about work in a significant way.
      My current job is a great balance of this, although I’ll admit I’m pretty early in my career.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, this is me, too. I care about my job in the sense that doing my job to the best of my ability while still maintaining healthy boundaries to prevent burnout is important to my sense of identity. But although I’m a fairly senior subject matter expert, I rarely think about my job when I’m not actually being paid to work. I’m willing to be flexible if my employer is flexible in return, and that while I think my employer is entitled to my best effort when I’m working, the job isn’t the only priority in my life, and at times my non-work life may interfere with my capacity to work to the best of my ability.

        I also think that passion and work don’t mix, and moreover that in a functional organizational culture they *shouldn’t* mix. Basically I view all environments where the employer expects, or worse, demands, passion from its employees as deeply dysfunctional if not downright toxic.

    5. Auditor of SHIELD*

      I can speak to this a little.

      I recently left a passion field (public libraries) for something else, because I was a lot more emotionally invested than I wanted to be and it wasn’t really healthy for me. Initially, when I was job searching and trying to figure out what I was going to do, I worried about the same thing you mention. I didn’t want to spend 40 hours every week just going through the motions about something that didn’t matter to me.

      Thankfully, I was able to find something that’s interesting to me without being all encompassing. It’s only been a few months, and it’s not perfect, but it’s allowed me to dial back my level of emotional investment to something that’s a lot more reasonable.

      All in all, I think I’ve decided that my dream job is a job that’s not a dream job. I don’t want to be tied to my professional identity in the way I was before, I just want to do something interesting that’s of use to people, and then be able to live the rest of my life in a way that feels right for me.

    6. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      There are parts of my job, and thankfully, the most important parts, that I Absolutely Love and get huge amounts of satisfaction from. My competence at work keeps my confidence and happiness up a lot, across the board.

      I work with customers who are having a tough go of things — but the thing is, taking on their issues would just make things bad for me, and worse for them because the most important thing I can do in a day is to hold hope for them while they dig out.

      So, I put my all into the things that I need to put my all into … until quitting time … and then I get to go home, where I need to rebuild my energy for the next day.

    7. There You Are*

      I have invested a lot in past jobs and wrapped my identity up in helping the department / division / company succeed. And, in every single instance, I was waaaaaay more invested in the company than the company was in me.

      At 56 years old and with several career changes and having worked for over two dozen companies, I have learned to take pride in my day-to-day accomplishments at work the same way I do when I feel good about having emptied the dishwasher or vacuumed up the cat hair.

      It’s a job. It needs to be done. I can do it well and efficiently and be proud of myself, or I can hate it and do it begrudgingly. And both are choices that I get to make. (Barring the truly toxic workplace. I’m just talking about working for a living because, yanno, bills gotta get paid).

      So I put the focus on me and how I am choosing to spend my time, and that helps me keep the job at a pleasant and comfortable arm’s length.

    8. Random Dice*

      I recommend a reframe. It doesn’t have to be your identity vs apathy. It’s a *setting*
      in which you get to 1) learn things, and 2) develop skills that you can be proud of.

  13. Too late?*

    On Monday, I declined to move forward with a third round of interviews for a job that couldn’t meet my salary requirements.

    Today, I found out that my current job is specializing our department in a way that will change my job from a subject matter expert to a rote worker. I will stagnate, doing one particular task over and over. Layoffs are possible.

    Should I talk to the hiring manager at the other job? I hate the idea of having to crawl back after leaving on a strong note, but maybe it’s the smart choice.

    1. BubbleTea*

      I don’t think it’s crawling to go back and say that some things have changed and you’d consider X if they’re still willing to offer it. Make sure you truly would be happy with X though – don’t leap from one situation to another in panic.

    2. londonedit*

      I don’t think there can be any harm in asking. Don’t think of it as crawling back, think of it as having new information that changes your position. You could simply say that you’ve had time to reflect further on the job and you’d like to be considered for a third interview if possible. The only thing is, I’d be wary of potentially jumping into a job that isn’t going to give you the salary you need – of course, keep casting your net around looking for something else in case things at your current company do get to worst-case scenario, but if the salary really isn’t good enough then I’d caution against throwing your hat back into the ring just because it’s a potential option. If you’ve already had significant negotiations on the salary and got nowhere, it’s unlikely they’d be able to budge on salary even if you do get another interview.

    3. Alicia*

      That sounds rough.
      I think you will need to be able to explain why you are changing your mind in a way that’s not just about the past (current job) but also about the future (the lower-paid job). They will probably think you are a “flight risk” as soon as you can find something more in line with your original goals. You can think about whether you have an explanation to reassure them on that point.

    4. DottedZebra*

      How far off were you on salary? And is it possible that your salary will be reduced at your current job with the change in responsibilities?

      You should be looking for a new job, but it doesn’t have to be the job that’s top of mind for you since you just turned it down. You might be panicking a little, which is understandable!, but it doesn’t seem like you need to just yet.

    5. Anonosaurus*

      Personally, I wouldn’t. The issues in your current job will take time to play out and you pulled out of the other job for good reason. Yes, you clearly need a new job, but it sounds like you can take a little time to find a better alternative. I understand the panic, but it’s generally not a good idea to make decisions from a place of panic. Take a breath and resume your search.

  14. Slap Bet Commissioner*

    Sitting here in my office anxiously awaiting the official offer letter (hiring manager confirmed with HR yesterday that it would be coming today) so that I can give notice at my terrible job today.
    This is not my first rodeo- I have done this offer letter/background check/etc. waiting game before, but this time it has been ESPECIALLY difficult not to shout it from the roof tops.
    Also- as excited as I am am about the new gig, I am not looking forward to the “I’m leaving” conversation, as i know it will not be taken well. ugh. How am i supposed to get things done today???!!

    1. Happily Retired*

      Pick one goal for today, put your head down, and do it.

      Have you already created a “hit by bus” file detailing how to do what you do? If not, maybe start on that – perhaps the monthly calendar of what’s due when, then moving backwards to capture the steps involved.

      Congratulations on the new job! I hope your written offer pops up soon!

    2. Honor Harrington*

      What if you just… don’t? Don’t get things done today? Or do the minimum possible to avoid disasters?

      Surely there have been days you busted your butt. Maybe today balances them out.

  15. Reed Weird*

    I just want to thank Alison and the commentariat here for creating such a helpful, kind space. I’m neurodivergent (ADHD and autism) and fairly new to the working world, and this site has helped me to not only make my way through office relationships, but help other neurodivergent friends figure out the best social scripts for other situations. The way that Alison will break down a situation, give suggested scripts, and then explain the desired impact of those phrases and what to do if those don’t work is so useful, especially explaining the ways of phrasing a request or question to help preserve relationships. It’s like a translation of the indirect, “socially acceptable” communications and the layers of subtext.

    The comments are usually just as helpful, because there is where you get more “yes, that script is good, here’s what I would add and WHY” and “I disagree, that would sound like this and make me feel like this, so I would maybe say this”. Sometimes people complain that the answer to most questions here is just “You need to use your words”, and while that is often the first part of the answer, the important piece is those scripts explaining what words you need to use.

    1. I have RBF*

      Agreed. I am ADHD, and didn’t even have a social life until I was in college and found my tribe of nerds. I’ve found the scripts and dialog here to be helpful, and while I strongly disagree with some commenters, the “normal” perspective is invaluable.

      Funnily enough, I’ve gone from the awkward duck to a person that other people check their perceptions with. Plus, I have found that having other people I can sanity check my reactions to stuff said by upper management with helps a lot. It helps figure out if it’s a me problem or a them problem.

      When you look at the world a bit differently, having people give their different perspectives helps to determine the whole picture.

    2. Neurospicy*

      Me too! I have ADHD and have had to learn social skills the very hard long experiment-y way.

      I find Alison’s scripts so calm and kind and reasonable. They cut through so much complexity, to a better place.

  16. friday happiness*

    We just hired 2 direct reports for me; I’m a new manager, so basically everything about this is overwhelming. However, I’m already so thankful for them, and they’re not even here yet. Due to their negotiations, my very hierarchical organization realized that they are underpaying several people (including me) and I got a significant, backdated raise! Due to factors, asking for raises once you’re in a job here is next to impossible (we get yearly increases) so I’m so happy for them for negotiating successfully, and also selfishly happy because, well, I’ve been underpaid for a very long time.

    1. Artemesia*

      In most places they would just hire them in with higher salaries than you are getting and you would be stuck — so kudos to your. management.

  17. Prospect gone bad*

    Has anyone ever had to write up or fire their best employee? I feel like I’m in this weird situation where my best and worst employee is in one person. They complain a lot but everything they say is factually correct so I haven’t really been putting my foot down about it. But now they have been dropping the ball on stuff and missing meetings. They’ll blow it out of the water but then slack off for two weeks, so in their head they see the accomplishments but all I see is that somebody else who’s more average could maybe do the same work if they just worked at a middling paste the entire time. He doesn’t see it that way.

    He keeps acting like he’s undervalued even though he gets paid well and treated with respect and all over that. I’ve discussed this with them and all I can gather is that maybe he’s getting skewed or inaccurate advice from people. I’ve seen people torpedo themselves by believing the “you go girl” type comments from friends = storm into your bosses office and demand a hundred percent raise and corner office when you’re already paid well

    I’m also having an issue where he’s nitpicking people who make less money and I keep having to remind him that it’s fine for them to not be perfect because, you know, they have less experience and make less money

    1. Alicia*

      I mean — if he thinks he is doing a great job, and you think he is not, you need to talk about it as his manager. If he can’t understand where you are coming from, he may be your worst employee, but he definitely is not your best. (But I wonder if you as a manager are communicating the message as effectively as you could?)

    2. L. Ron Jeremy*

      Removed. Please stop doing this! People are allowed to post in this thread without a specific question (although in this case the comment opens with one). – Alison

    3. PassThePeasPlease*

      I think you have to determine if his performance is worth the other side of their behavior. If they’re complaining a lot and nitpicking those lower on the org chart I would imagine it’s impacting overall team morale. Is it worth it to keep them on if you’re not seeing truly stellar results?

      1. Random Dice*

        I think they need to accept that some people don’t work at a steady pace. If you want “blow out of water” work, you likely also need recovery downtime. Think of it like sprinting vs marathon running.

        And address the complaining.

    4. DottedZebra*

      “They complain a lot but everything they say is factually correct so I haven’t really been putting my foot down about it.”

      “I keep having to remind him that it’s fine for them to not be perfect”

      It sounds like there are problems happening but not being addressed. But you’re upset about the person who is pointing them out instead of listening and fixing the problems. I can see why this worker is frustrated.

      1. I'm A Little Teapot*

        Yep, that’s my read of the situation too. The issue is 1. there are issues, and 2. he’s not handling his frustration well. And he’s checking out.

      2. Prospect gone bad*

        I think it’s about perspective. He will take something true that is a nuisance and act like this is the worst company ever because we have that thing, while not appreciating the good things we have

        Also some of the things are related to his colleagues performance so I can’t promise him we’re going to fire someone at the same level in another department

        1. Janie*

          What makes you think he doesn’t appreciate the good things you have?

          I’m asking not to say you’re wrong, but that you can use this to think through what behaviors you’re actually expecting to see that translate as appreciation to you.

          You want the employee to praise/thank management more? Or praise/support/lift up their coworkers more? Or thank you for the high salary? Or go to more social events? Or smile more? Or write warmer emails?

          Then you might be able to turn this into actionable feedback or perhaps see that you’ve been assuming this with no evidence for it…?

          I also wonder how often you ask why the employee is concerned about the nuisance and really listen? Ask them how it affects their work. Or why they think a practice poses risk to the company. Get them to talk through it so either 1) you might understand why it is an issue or 2) they can start to gain perspective on why it isn’t such a big deal. Define the types of problems that should be raised with management. Ask him what he’s already done to try to solve the problem.

          Also, does he actually want you to fire colleagues on other teams or do you think he might actually just want your help being coached on how to deal with them or your help building a better relationship with their manager, etc?

          Again, not saying you’re wrong but these are things I would think through because it just seems like a lot of assumptions are being made here.

          1. Tio*

            It might help to sit down with the employee and explain why those policies were decided, or at least who decided them and how likely they are/aren’t to change. We had an employee at the last place, not under me but worked with our department, and they hated how the inter-department workflow was set up. They always complained that x should be my department’s job or we weren’t doing something that wasn’t actually in our purview. They sat her down and explained to her that while she may not like them, the policies were reviewed thoroughly, they considered some of the things she has been complaining about and decided they wanted to go this way with them, and this was decided several pay grades above her boss’s level and would not be changing. So they did not find it useful to continue to discuss those things further and didn’t want her to continue to request changes that were just not going to happen.

    5. Alma*

      I am in a situation where an employee is fantastic at technical work. However, part of the job is collaborating with others and teaching others. The employee is consistently difficult and rude and dismissive of others, and their relationship with me has deteriorated to where they are almost insubordinate. I am working on a performance improvement plan to help them improve, but so far they are blaming other people. However, I may ultimately have to fire them. I don’t want to because of the quality of technical work, but the job requires collegial relationships with everyone (this is very clear in the job description and expectations I have set). It is very challenging, but I’m determined to see this through with the hope they can improve their behavior.

      1. Artemesia*

        Have you said ‘I don’t want to have to fire you because I appreciate your excellent technical work, but a big part of this job is collaboration with others and teaching or training people and you have been consistently difficult, rude and dismissive of others in this role. It is important to work on that if you want to continue in this role.’ Some people have to have it spelled out. Presumably you have been tactful. that didn’t work.

        1. Unkempt Flatware*

          Yes and even more direct, “it is important that you change that quickly if you want….” or something.

    6. Happily Retired*

      Goodness, they’re your BEST employee?! Griping all the time, skipping meetings, erratic production and/or quality (I couldn’t tell.)

      I would first focus on the unacceptable behavior, without softening it either in your mind or aloud (don’t think “but it’s factually correct”; “but they blew it out of the water last time.”) You don’t sound convinced yourself, so no wonder you’re torn up!

      How clear – without the softening – have you been in telling them what is unacceptable and that they must improve or will be fired? They would drive me crazy, but it’s wrong (IMO) to fire someone without a clear warning process and opportunity to improve. If nothing else, if they do get lots of attaboys/ attagirls from coworkers, a sudden firing could really damage morale.

      Do you work well enough with your manager or HR to ask for guidance? Or a work mentor, even from another company. You have my sympathies! This stuff is never easy.

    7. Cacofonix*

      I’m struggling to see a single thing you wrote about this employee that has you describe him as your best. It sounds as if your question is simply how to write up or fire a poor performing employee.

      I fired one employee in a lead analyst role who for months I thought was a godsend. He was confident, led his team well, worked hard and produced good documentation. Until I discovered that the his analysis created downstream impacts he should have addressed. I learned that vendors had warned him about it but he actively hid that fact from me, including assuring them that I knew and told him to proceed.

      Key: He was always a poor employee. The day I realized that was the day I stopped having his back. I said fired, but HR and the department head insisted he could be valuable. I said that if they wanted to keep him on, that was their poor decision. But if they wanted my critical program to proceed, he would not be in my department nor could he have any tangential role from another department. I had a lot of capital and I spent a ton on this. They at least realized how much money his mistakes already cost and agreed. They were plagued by his subterfuge for years after I left. They had decided to accept the risk I carefully presented rather than go through extensive rework to fix what he’d done.

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

      He probably feels undervalued if he isn’t progressing in his career and keeps being told to be happy or grateful exactly where he is. Is there a pipeline to promotion? Can he move into a supervisory or team lead role? Can he be challenged with higher level work that keeps him engaged? Just because someone is currently well-paid doesn’t mean they don’t want to get better paid. No employee should be told that they need to be grateful for what they are given and how dare they ask for more. Instead of reminding him others make less money, be more assertive that you, as manager, will be the one to oversee the work and correct everyone’s performance as necessary. Instead of focusing on making him stay in his place, try developing him into a better, higher position.

      1. just another bureaucrat*

        If he’s someone who is nitpicking and being shitty to lower paid employees he should not be moved into a supervisory or team lead role. Sorry but promoting people because they are behaving poorly to those around them because the theory is that if they were paid more and had more authority they’d behave better is a really bad approach to managing people.

    9. Janie*

      It sounds like the employee thinks that process improvement and mentoring junior employees (or just QCing their work) are key parts of his job, but you don’t agree. He also sounds burnt out or like his workload is too high for the level of quality he wants (which may be unreasonable gold plating, but I couldn’t say from the info you’ve included here) – going all in to do major accomplishments, then missing meetings, etc.

      Have you had a discussion about what the job role is? Also, do the junior employees see the feedback as nitpicking or mentoring?

      And – “he keeps acting like he’s undervalued even though he gets paid well and treated with respect.” Well, are you sure you understand what this employee sees as “respect”? For example, I couldn’t care less about money or raises, and paying me more doesn’t make me feel more respected. I feel respected when I feel listened to. If I told you about a problem and instead of listening to me (even if we didn’t have the resources to do anything about the problem), you just dismissed my feedback and said, it’s fine, not everything has to be perfect – I would feel very disrespected and like you didn’t value my experience, skills, insight, POV at all.

      I think the first step is a real conversation about what you expect about the job role – i.e. that process improvement is an “extra” that should come after making deadlines and that they shouldn’t be correcting others’ work. Maybe this job is a bad fit for the employee if those are the parts of the job he enjoys the most.

      1. Qwerty*

        Adding to this – how long has the employee been dropping the ball and how much have you addressed it with him? You say that you haven’t really been addressing it but are also considering firing him. That’s a really quick escalation!

        Something I have noticed at multiple jobs is that when high performers go through a rough patch, they are pushed out really quickly. However, low performers usually take a much longer time to be pushed out (if ever). As a peer, this has always been a morale killer that pushes myself and other high performers to start looking. Watching someone burn out, get punished for burning out, and the process not change broods resentment not just towards management, but also towards the mid to low performers on the team.

        I’m not liking this fixation on salary. Having to clean up after your coworkers doesn’t suck any less because the company pays them less money than me. Paying me all the money in the world would never translate to “treated well” for me. It’s hard to say whether he needs to be pushed into mentoring more or if he feels like too entitled because the money item is clouding it all.

        The more I think about it and re-read the post, it sounds like he is getting mixed messages. You tell him it is ok for his coworkers to screw up. You then want to fire him for dropping the ball. I realize I’m addressing any of his problems (which are probably real) because there’s just too much other murkiness around it.

        1. Tio*

          My boss always says “Your performance review should not be the first time you hear about a problem” and the same thing goes for firing. How is he supposed to fix something if you haven’t identified it’s a problem? And sure, you can say that it’s fairly self evident, but have you specifically identified this is a problem that might cost you your job? Because that changes the equation

  18. Nea*

    I can’t go into all the details but:
    -a friend of mine got an email sent to everyone in her club asking for people with experience and specialties I have
    – a month later, I sent my resume and an email cover letter explaining how interested I would be to work for this company
    – I then discovered that the person who sent the original email works elsewhere in my building

    The question: At what point, if ever, would I be allowed to follow up in person?

    It really sounds like this company’s needs and my strengths are an excellent match, but I don’t want to come across as needy/creepy/having “gumption.”

    1. Colette*

      Never. This is someone you don’t know, at a company you don’t work for, as far as I understand it. You can’t approach her personally. (Especially since you waited a month to apply; it’s likely they’re already well into the process, even if they’re still taking applications.)

    2. Hiring Mgr*

      There’s nothing wrong with that at all, in my opinion. If this person cast a wide net like that, she’s obviously looking for people. Even if it doesn’t work out for this specific role, it’s a good networking opportunity.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Do not follow up in person, but it is unclear whether you sent your resume in reply to the original email, or through your friend.

      You can follow up by email to the original sender.

  19. Former Retail Lifer*

    I take public transportation in a city where it’s not as acceptable as in larger cities. I keep running into jobs that require little to no local travel and yet they require a driver’s license and a car. There doesn’t seem to be a business need in most cases; they seem like they just don’t want to associate with people who use public transportation. I let my license expire a while ago because I never needed it and I just have a state ID, and the cost of a car is not something I am interested in taking on right now. Any advice for jobs that don’t require a car, or in getting around unnecessary requirements to have one?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Alison answered a similar letter here in the past! Look up “should I disclose my transportation issues when I’m interviewing?” from January 8, 2013. (I’ll link in a follow-up comment.)

      The gist of the answer is: apply to those jobs anyway and if it’s a business need, the interviewer should ask about your car/license in an interview.

    2. Katie Porter is my financial analyst*

      This is innate bias and discrimination in the job description writing process that businesses overlook because it’s boilerplate or their lazy and don’t review their needs.

      There’s no reason to have a car if you’re not going anywhere to do your job (and they were reimbursing you). If they ask you to do an infrequent errand let them know you’re going by shared ride or public transport and it should be reimbursed (make sure you ask that in your interview).

      Don’t let it deter you from applying. It’s inconsequential. Ask during the interivew why you’d need a state DL and/or car when the job appears stationary. They might say, “We want to know you have reliable transpo to work.” Well, everything reliable until it isn’t. I might have a car, but it’s not in good condition and breaks down a lot, but does that mean I fit the j.d. and job requirements?” No.

      1. Bess*

        This–it’s a boilerplate thing, a problematic artifact of a different time. I wouldn’t let it deter you if there is clearly no driving needed for the job duties. You might get screened out of jobs but that’s their problem for being so behind.

    3. Need More Sunshine*

      I’d bet a lot of these places just mean they need you to have reliable transportation to get to their work location, but they’ve worded it badly (and don’t realize that their phrasing has bad implications about their DEI). I’d bring it up proactively in the phone screen or first interview – “I see you require a license and car. Is there a business function that would require that? I use public transportation because it works better for me.” And I’d also proactively describe if it’s ever made you late and what precautions you take to not allow it to disrupt your punctuality.

    4. Nikki*

      I think you just want to ask companies about the requirement when you apply to figure out why they’re requiring it. Maybe they do have a specific reason that the person in the position would need a car even if that’s not immediately clear in the job description. Maybe they just want to make sure the person has reliable transportation so they won’t frequently be missing work. I would think in most situations, you could find common ground with the potential employer if you can assure them that you can reliably get to work and that you could manage any potential travel outside the office. Or maybe you’ll find that the position really does need a car and therefore wouldn’t work for you. Either way, probably best to ask.

    5. Ellis Bell*

      I would probably just tick the box; you can always justify that you are a driver and able to source a car if it was worth it to you. Then, in the interview say you’re not interested in jobs doing any driving, and ask what the car/licence requirement is about. I’d be forthright about car costs and letting your license lapse and see how the conversation goes from there.

  20. Eeyore's Missing Tale*

    I have a resume question I’ve been wrestling with and I hope I can get some advice. I just finished my MPA and I really liked the finance part. However, there’s no way I can keep up those skills while I’m in my current job and I’m not in a position where I can take another job. My church is looking for a volunteer treasurer to work with the church leadership, which I think will help me keep my finance skills from getting too rusting. Part of this job will be reconciling accounts, running reports on donations and expenditures, and approving check requests. Can I put this on my resume? I’m going back and forth because while it is a big responsibility, it’s also associated with my church. I know people can be a little weird about that, and if it was any other nonprofit group, there’d be no issue. What do y’all think?

    1. Katie Porter is my financial analyst*

      You can definitely put it on your resume. All volunteer work can be on a resume, but something like this will be great for your future transition. There’s no worry about it being a church because if there’s a P&L, it’s a business (regardless of the tax status).

      I spent all of 2020 doing pro bono volunteer work and that bolstered my resume when I was able to job search and land something in 2021.

      Make sure you write it exactly as you would a ‘traditional paid’ position with language you’d likely see on a resume.

    2. BubbleTea*

      Yes, you can put it on. You should! People are allowed to belong to churches, and only a deeply unreasonable employer would assume that it signalled you were some fervent evangelising fiend who would try to convert everyone.

    3. Colette*

      Yes, absolutely it can go on your resume. Just be clear that it’s volunteer work, and talk about what you did that will highlight your skills.

    4. Antilles*

      You can absolutely put this on your resume. Treasurer isn’t going to cause any problems; it’s a back office role and not directly related to preaching or conversion or etc.

    5. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Can confirm that not only is this fine but I’ve done this. I’m on the treasury team for our church and listed that in my resume since that was my most topical work (most of the rest of my resume was the standard retail/food service of the college kid). Bonus points if you can demonstrate integrity over financial work in a situation where the control system is usually pretty lacking.

    6. I heart Paul Buchman*

      I was SAH for 6 years, then a small job from home around the kids for another 4. After 10 years (4 kids) I decided to retrain into a new industry. I spent 5 years getting a Bachelors Degree in a new field. a after 15 years I then went into the workforce in a job that I love and work 30hrs a week. The qualification let me increase my earnings potential and I earn a reasonable wage as a part timer.

      I’ve never been ambitious, loved my time with my kids. I do have the privilege of having a partner who earned a reasonable wage and we deliberately moved to a low cost of living area. We have a basic, lifestyle. Public school, camping holidays etc. If I’d been divorced, like some of my friends I would have been financially vulnerable but after a few years back in the workforce my earning potential is stable now.

      it does help that my industry (social services) traditionally hires mature age women. TLDR: I have no regrets.

  21. kjack*

    Less a question and more an ‘I need someone to tell me if I’m taking this too personally’ situation: I am a woman in a predominantly male field. Recently due to a health scare, I switched up my diet and now meal prep healthy lunches that I heat in the communal microwave. Coworkers have commented on how good they smell, but a male colleague has thrice now joked about me making enough to share. Given the loooooong history of gender dynamics, especially when it comes to tasks like cooking, I’m almost certainly taking more offense to this joking compliment than I should, but wanted to share to see if there are any other perspectives/advice that folks have.

    1. CTT*

      Has he made other gendered/sexist comments? If not, I would think it’s probably his bad attempt at office kitchen humor, but if this is part of a pattern, then that’s bad.

      1. kjack*

        I don’t work closely with him enough to know, and he works with an all-male team, which is probably why I’m having such difficulty gauging whether my reaction is understandable or not.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      If this is an office where some level of banter is OK, a snappy “you can’t afford my personal chef rates” might suffice.

      I have gotten those comments before – without the gender dynamic – and to me it’s usually a combination of general envy and trying to solicit pity. Somebody with an actual interest in good food will ask followup questions about how you prepare it or what the recipe is.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I have a female coworker like this. She’s very much someone who has learned helplessness for certain things. I either ignore or just give her (& others, it’s often done in group chat) the recipe/instructions for whatever it is.

        She doesn’t get the hint, but other coworkers have thanked me for it.

      2. kjack*

        We do generally have an environment where banter is welcome (at least on my team), so I will try that, thanks!

    3. Alicia*

      I don’t see it as offensive — but if you want him to stop, I think you should ask him.
      I think you will get further if you frame it as “I want to steer clear of stereotypes about women and cooking; can you help me by not making that joke anymore?” rather than “I’d like you to stop being a sexist jerk.”
      If you ask him to stop and he continues, then he would be very rude. But I suspect he will stop.
      Good luck with your health!

      1. kjack*

        My only fear is that in this line of work, asking him outright to stop will trigger the “why are you so sensitive”, “it’s only a joke”, etc. comments (I’ve been through it before in other workplaces!). In my personal experience, it’s easier to suffer through the admittedly mild joke than be labeled as a frigid and humorless woman (my opinion would be much different if he were making harassing comments, but I don’t think my personal annoyance rises to that level).

    4. rayray*

      It’s hard to say since I am not in the situation but I think people just make dumb jokes like this in offices, annoying as it can be. I had one job where any time I went out to get lunch and brought it back to the office to eat, without fail every time I’d hear some joke or comment like “Oh thanks for getting me lunch!” or “What did you get for me?” “Oooh, what’s that you’re eating?”

      It’s one of those things where they think it’s funny but it’s super annoying being on the receiving end.

      1. kjack*

        Yeah I’m mentally trying to reframe it as mild annoyance a la a dad joke rather than a sexist comment so that it’s something I can just grin and bear rather than get irked by.

      2. There You Are*

        I’ve definitely said something similar to co-workers (“Did you bring enough to share because, wow, that smells amazing!”) and it was because their food truly smelled amazing and it made me not want to eat the PB&J / frozen TV dinner I had brought for my lunch.

        I wouldn’t ever actually expect the person to make enough food to share.

        But I also wouldn’t ask them too much about the recipe because I hate cooking.

        1. Rosyglasses*

          This is where I land too – it is almost like a friendly attempt to connect – not carry any expectation with it.

    5. Ihmmy*

      offer to send him the recipe if it’s off a website? sometimes I feel like this is how people ask for that sort of information but in a very gentle way

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Yes, I think offering him the recipe (if sharing the recipe would be low-effort on your part) is a good idea. Additionally, if it wouldn’t be too outside the culture of the workplace, I might start responding with a deadpan “too bad you don’t have two arms and the ability to make [dish]. Life must be so difficult for you.”

    6. londonedit*

      Some people just think they’re funny and they’ll make the same ‘joke’ over and over again without realising that everyone else is sick of it. Like an annoying catchphrase. If he does it again I’d start coming back with ‘No need to ask me every day, Jim!’ or ‘Nope, not going to happen!’ With any luck he’ll get bored after a while.

      1. There You Are*

        ::sigh:: My ex, every single time I put a mud mask on: “Eek! It’s the Swamp Creature!!”

        It was sort of cute the first time. It was old by the 2nd time. It was launch-him-into-the-sun by the 1000th time.

    7. Rainy*

      That feels to me like the rote thing someone says when they see a coworker’s tasty lunch, although you are of course the person on the ground in the situation, so there are definitely nuances that you’re getting that I don’t have access to.

      The thing about those kind of comments is that if they’re benign, they’re benign, but sometimes the person making them is being Schrodinger’s Sexist–if challenged they have enough plausible deniability to say it’s a joke. I think I’d probably just be boring about it for a while and see what happens. “Smells great, did you bring enough for the class?” “Nope, all for me.” “Wow, what a fancy lunch! Where’s mine?” “Nope, all for me.”

      A benign food-focused dude will either get bored after a while and stop or treat it as part of “your banter” (the latter is honestly one of those situations that I hate, because if I hate a thing and now this person thinks it’s “our thing” I have to say something but I know it’s just them being a doofus so I have to calculate the tone carefully blah blah, just more emotional labour I have to do because I’m a woman).

      Someone who’s doing it to be sexist will escalate, and at least you’ll know. And once that stuff escalates it’s a lot easier to address it. (Which is why Schrodinger’s Sexist prefers to keep it at the level of plausible deniability.)

      1. Policy Wonk*

        I agree – particularly if food is very fragrant people will comment – I sometimes have to stop myself from doing so! As others have pointed out, I don’t know this person so can’t gauge, but it sounds to me like he is just making conversation. Since he keeps making the same comment over and over, I’d guess it’s his go-to. Next time he says this, maybe respond with Really, Fergus? Again? Don’t you have any original material? or similar so he knows he’s said it too many times. If that doesn’t stop him, tell him to cut it out, you aren’t interested in discussing your lunch. And escalate if appropriate.

        1. I have RBF*

          So, in an office environment, if a coworker’s food smells good, I’ll say something like “Wow, that smells great! What is it?” If it’s not something I already cook, I might ask for a recipe, or if it’s take-out I might ask where from. But I don’t ask if they brought some to share – that’s rude, and presumptuous.

          I have worked in places where money was tight enough that no one could afford to share their lunch, and anything expecting them to do so was very fraught.

    8. The teapots are on fire*

      I’d be a bit annoyed as well, and I’d just cheerfully say, “Ha-ha, nice try! This is all mine!” It’s banter, doesn’t show your annoyance , and it’s boring. He’ll probably get tired of it.

    9. Ellis Bell*

      I think this is a lot more likely to be a person who’s bad at jokes than a sexist, without additional evidence. Sometimes this teeny amber flag situation is more stressful than a big waving crimson flag though. Constantly looking out for Schrodinger’s sexist without the surety and adrenaline of righteous anger is depressingly plodding. I kind of like to bat something similar back their way to take a better temperature. Something like: “Why, what lunch would you bring in to pay me back?” or “I’m sure you could make a terrific lunch too, we’ll all be waiting here at noon to see what you come up with.” If they take the piss out of themselves, respond with humour or say they’ll try but it won’t be as good as yours… that’s usually a sign it’s all in fun and they’re just awkward. I find that when people are sexist, they’re consistently so, not really joking, not able to go with it when you turn it back on them… and it always comes back to ‘but no really you should make us all something because you’re so good at it and you like to do girly things!’

  22. commentarian*

    Due to a truly unusual electrical situation at my office, the light directly above my desk only turns on when the light is also turned on in the conference room next to my office’s room. The conference room gets pretty frequent use throughout the day, and while the people in my department know to leave the light on, other people who use the conference room don’t, which results in my light getting turned off multiple times a day. Would I be overstepping if I asked to put up a small sign in the conference room explaining the situation?

    1. Alicia*

      You should definitely ask the office manager to make a sign. (Or, you know, the get the electrician in to give you your own switch, but a sign is a great solution in the meantime.)

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Do you have a facility/building manager? Seems like that would be the person to talk to about getting a sign put up *and* the electrical issue fixed.

      2. slashgirl*

        At my smaller school for the first four or five years, I had 6 banks of lights and one light switch for one bank. The rest had to be turned on & off using the circuit breakers in the grey electrical panel. (It has a sign on it saying you should wear appropriate gear; I just hoped my rubber soled sandals were enough).

        The thing is, other people would use the room on the 3.5 days I wasn’t there and would, inevitably turn off the circuit breaker for the one light switch–so I’d come in, early morning and it was dark, flip the switch and….nothing. I finally put a piece of fluorescent pink tape on the end of that circuit breaker with a large note on the inside of the door (on bright paper) asking for people to NOT turn it off. It worked most of the time–at least I came in to the one light switch working more often than not.

        Finally, about 6 years ago, they gave me 5 additional light switches, though they’re on a different wall, so folks don’t realise the 6th switch is under the panel. That pink tape is still on the end of the circuit breaker though. (And this was the quality building that one got from the Cdn armed forces in the 1960s….)

        So a big enough/bright enough sign would work, most of the time, but maybe have a discussion with property services for the building to either get a switch near your light or put the two lights on different switches.

    2. jef*

      They also sell light switch protectors, which make it so you can’t (or can’t easily) turn the switch off. As long as you are diligent about turning them off at the end of the day, that might solve the problem of casual switch flipping.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yes – I use these in my house to stop people turning off switch-operated outlets (we use smart plugs instead), some of mine actually screw on with the screws that hold the whole switch in place but I have a couple that are magnetic as well that just magnet onto the screws.

    3. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian*

      You can definitely have a sign made, but you might also consider seeing if you can do some lamps in your office so you can maintain some control of your lighting (unless the electrical issue is that all your electrical is connected to that external switch, in which case you might have a code issue!).

      People are gonna people, and as long as a separate controls your lights, you’re going to have people unthinkingly switching it off.

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

      People don’t read signs so I think fixing the switch is the better course of action. Like Jef suggested, they could go as simple as a light switch protector if rewiring is out of the question. In the meantime, maybe use masking tape to hold the switch “on” during the day. If there is a physical barrier to them switching it off, they will be more likely to leave it alone.

    5. Joielle*

      I don’t have advice but as the owner of a 120-year-old house with many quirks, the phrase “truly unusual electrical situation” made me laugh harder than it should have.

    6. Random Dice*

      There are light covers you could buy. They were shared in a prior letter about overly bright lights that were giving folks headaches.

    7. cat in cardboard box*

      Put masking tape over the switch while it’s in the on position. Put a small note above saying “DO NOT TURN OFF”. If you do it while no one’s around, people are *very* likely to assume that it was done by a facilities manager etc., not you.

  23. Alicia*

    There are some leaders at my company who are really, really happy to be doing more meetings in person.
    I’d like to get these people to be more active in making in-person meetings safe and comfortable — by telling people who are sniffling/coughing to put on a mask, for example, or by telling people people to stop with the stupid comments about the fact that I am still wearing a mask.
    How can I bring this up without being perceived as “not a team player” or “just disgruntled because she likes WFH”?

    1. T. Wanderer*

      Normally I’d say a simple “hey, I’ve noticed we aren’t very mask-friendly at in-person meetings. Can we address that?” should do the trick. But in this case, where it sounds like the company culture doesn’t respect that…
      Lie. You now have a roommate or close family member who is immunocompromised. To a lot of people that will give your reasons more seriousness, and you can say, “Hey, I have a [pick your poison] who is immunocompromised, so I still have to be pretty mask-conscious. I’ve noticed [x and y behaviors], and it worries me! I really wouldn’t want to spread anything to [person]. Could you help me enforce masks when people are sick?”

      1. Anecdata*

        realistically, I think you have a much better chance of addressing the continuous comments about you still wearing a mask bit, than getting other people to wear a mask; since it seems like the culture is mostly not

        Can you ask the couple main offenders to stop making the comments? this could be a good time to deploy the “assume they want to do the right thing” strategy

        1. Alicia*

          I suppose “assume they want to do the right thing” is always a constructive attitude to take….

  24. Sunshine*

    Any moms struggling with the reverse of the usual mom guilt? I’m feeling guilty and pressured because I don’t WANT to go back to work after our baby is born. It feels like my career has only ever been a way to pay the bills and if I have a chance to opt out, I want to take it. But I’m hearing horror stories about how hard it will be if I want to re-enter the workforce 6 years from now when our child is school-age, feeling selfish for leaving money on the table and making my husband support all of us, etc. Have any parents out there successfully stayed home with their children and had it work out? Am I just brainwashed by capitalism into thinking that my job should matter more than it does?

    1. BubbleTea*

      I quit my job that I loved because I couldn’t make it balance with time with my child, and I’m working on building up my own business (necessary as I’m a single parent). Caring for children is work, it has value! You’d be paying someone else to do it if you didn’t.

      If you’re concerned about employability down the line, there are lots of possible ways to keep skills alive (volunteering, very part time work, setting up your own thing). Money is just money. If it works for your family, go for it.

    2. alex (they/them)*

      my mom left the workforce for six years to take care of my brother and I and didn’t have any issues with finding a new job. she’s a teacher so that is definitely a factor.

    3. Nikki*

      I think it really depends on your specific field and how difficult it is to get a job in that field. If there are always tons of job openings you probably won’t have a problem finding something new. If every job opening has 200 applicants, that’s more challenging. You would also want to find ways to keep your skills fresh while you’re out of the workforce. Maybe subscribe to some industry journals to keep up with the latest trends or work on a related side project as you find time. Not saying it’ll be easy to find time for that, especially when babies are very small, but hopefully you could make that work as they get older and you’re getting closer to wanting to find a job outside the home again.

    4. WhaleToDo*

      Whatever choice you’ll make has plenty of criticisms because everyone tends to project their own emotions, values, and related situation as some sort of universal truth. There’s no actual universal truth here and there are innumerable factors that go into this sort of decision. Remind yourself of this for every parenting opinion you hear for the rest of your life.

      I haven’t had to deal with mom guilt specifically, but there are plenty of other societal expectations of women I’ve had to deal with. I just remind myself that I should live a life according to my values, not the ones society has told me I should have.

      As a success story: I have a neighbor who would have loved to keep working as a high school English teacher, but she had twins and the math just didn’t work out when they were babies for her to continue working (teachers are underpaid and childcare for infants is Expensive). It’s been a few years and couple more kids since then, and she says she’s really enjoyed being able to focus on parenting and keeping the family in order, and she’s been staying in contact with school and district administrators so that once her youngest is potty trained, she’ll be able to hop back in.

    5. Pop*

      I think that a lot of what you hear about the importance of work outside the home for mothers is to counteract the tons, tons, TONs of messaging out there about the importance of staying home with your kids, which depending on your social circle and how you were raised might be way louder. Yes, you will certainly leave money on the table if you stay at home with your little ones, and you’ll be out of the workforce. But – money isn’t everything! I work fully time (mom with a toddler) at a job that is easier/lower paying than I could potentially do, because I value the flexibility of my job and ability to be there for daycare pickup, etc over the idea of making more money. I do think ideally you and your spouse would be on the same page about making a decision that’s best for your family. It’s not that he is supporting all of you. You are also providing support by caring for your child – who, presumably, you both decided you wanted to have together. Good luck!

    6. Artemesia*

      Life is short and babyhood very very very short and sweet; decide what YOU want and then do it without worrying about judgy people. You and your husband decide if you can afford it and how it will change your lifestyle — probably better dinners, but less money to go out; less housework for him, but less money in the retirement account etc.

      THEN if you decide to stay out for a while think about a strategy to keep your skills/experience for work fresh. Maybe you take certification classes. Maybe you do some targeted volunteer work that gives you exposure to people who can help you with references later. I know a couple of women who parlayed the volunteer gigs when they were full time Moms to very nice positions later. One is the Executive Director of a non-profit because she impressed people in another non-profit where she volunteered.

      Embrace the life you want and then figure out how to deal with the need to find work later. Some things are more important than others and if you WANT to be home with young kids, those things never come again.

      1. HoundMom*

        There is a lot of gray in this equation. I worked very part-time (10 hours a week) when my kids were babies/toddlers and slowly ratcheted back up until I was full time when my youngest hit middle school.

        I did work that was a step back but kept my license current and my work history consistent. My husband said it eased his stress that I worked a bit and was not the sole provider.

        Doing this made me really happy and made life better at home. Our kids were happy. Dinner was ready and the house stress was far less.

        I live in a place where staying at home is common. Depending on what you do and if you are satisfied with your options, the re-entry path varies. Teachers get back in easily. VPs in financial services or levels of HR do not because others have put in the time.

        There is no right or wrong just what works for you.

    7. anon for now*

      I totally hear you on this! I’m pregnant with my first and while I’m planning to take maternity leave and go back to work (because I think it’s easier to plan for that and then change my mind than the other way around), I’m very aware that I may want to stay home for longer than having a job will let me. It’s also just a way to pay the bills for me, but it’s a male dominated industry and I worry about my skills running behind and hiring bias if I take several years off

      Like someone else said, I think which voice is louder (stay home/keep working) depends on your upbringing to some extent and there’s no way to make everyone happy. It’s also not all or nothing between 6 weeks of leave vs 6 years of stay at home mom. Depending on your industry, maybe you can do part time when they’re a toddler, and you may want them in daycare for some time anyway for the social aspects? I don’t really have a point here but just wanted to commiserate and say there’s no right answer and it’s also OK to just figure it out as you go.

    8. Alex*

      How hard it will be to re-enter the workforce depends on your field and the job market at that time. One of those things isn’t really predictable, but you could consider the other thing.

      I think…yeah maybe you are a little brainwashed by capitalism! It’s totally OK if your career is just a way to pay the bills. I think that’s the way it is for most people. I know it is for me! And that’s fine. That doesn’t mean I want to do a bad job…just that there are other things I’d rather be doing if I could. In your case, those things are being with your kid. Nothing wrong with that.

      Talk it over with your husband and go over your budget. If you can swing it with sacrifices you are both willing to make, then do it! You don’t owe capitalism anything.

    9. Margali*

      I stayed home for 10 years with my kids and went back to work part-time when my youngest went to kindergarten. I ended up in a job that I enjoy through connections I made being on the board of my kids’ preschool, so that’s my bit of anecdata. I will say that I have always been a “job” person as opposed to a “career” person, so I wasn’t so worried about disrupting an upward trend in a career. For me and my family, it worked out really well — my being home with the little ones enabled my husband (who is a career person) to more easily take on some opportunities that were big positives for him. It would have been harder if we were having to split up the daytime childcare more.

    10. Frankie*

      Ultimately only you know the best choice for you, but I will say that I had second thoughts about returning, even to a job I really liked and cared about, and we needed at least some of my salary to cover expenses.

      I have to say, I’m glad I did go back, even though it was hard to do. Essentially, I’m glad it wasn’t financially a good option for us, because I likely would have done it. I wanted to do it at the time because infant, but after a few months back it was very, very good to have my own identity, my own time away from the home and away from the baby. Just my two cents and some food for thought. I could not have predicted those feelings from the vantage point of my maternity leave.

      It sounds like you’re in a different place but just wanted to share, as it’s tough to predict how you might feel down the road. Maybe you could consider a period of SAH but pick up some sort of part time or temp work, eventually?

    11. Helewise*

      I was home for over a decade and re-entered the regular, full-time workforce again a little over a year ago. I think there are some things you can say for sure, some that are completely unknowable, and then practical details that are important to think through carefully while you’re making your decision.

      What you can say for sure is that being out for a while adds an additional barrier in a competitive job market. What you can also say for sure is that staying meaningfully engaged in your chosen career (or target career if now is a time to make a change), continuing to build skills, pursuing education, building and maintaining relationships, among other things, all help reduce that barrier. How hard it will be or how long it will take is unknowable – job searching always feels hard, and you really can’t downplay the importance of luck.

      Things to think through carefully: how comfortable your husband is with being the sole wage-earner (it can be a lot of pressure), how stable his job/industry/employment history are, how comfortable you are with the trade-offs and financial adjustments, and – really important – how you and your children will be taken care of if God forbid your husband should be killed, disabled, or leave you. Sorry about that last one, but life is life.

      I really struggled with being home as long as I was, but now that I’m working very full-time and hardly home at all I’m grateful for the years I was able to be so present there. Life has seasons. This is very much a personal choice, and there is emphatically not one path that’s good for everyone.

    12. Anon for This*

      I did not stay home with my kids, but I know moms who did successfully. Two main things toward that end:
      1. Keep your skills up to date. Depends on what you currently do, but as appropriate, keep up-to-date any certifications or licenses, take an occasional class in your field to keep sharp or, as others have mentioned, volunteer in something related – e.g., as accountant who served as PTA Treasurer had the related experience desired by employers.
      2. Have realistic expectations. Your peers will have advanced six years in their careers – do not expect to be on a par with them. You will have to start more-or-less where you were when you left. (No, being a SAHM is not comparable management experience, though I have seen some really creative efforts to spin it as such.)
      None of us can see where the labor market will be in six years, but these two things will help.

    13. RagingADHD*

      Lots of people feel that way. Lots of people would stay home if they were able to. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it as long as you and your partner are on the same page about finances and other lifestyle issues.

      Onboarding back to the workforce (if you need or want to do so later) is incredibly common, normal, and doable. It is not a nightmare. It can be a hassle and may require some creativity or looking at different options than you originally considered — but that is true of parenting in general, because it changes your life in many different ways.

      Your feelings of misplaced guilt are also common, because there is always something to make women feel guilty about and society never misses an opportunity. However, you can safely ignore those feelings because they are lying to you.

    14. Warrior Princess Xena*

      My mom is in the medical field and very deliberately said “I’m going to prioritize my family over my career” when she started having kids. She’s still actively working and has given at least one talk over alternatives to the normal terrible schedule to people in the medical field who want to stay in the medical field but not at 60 hours/week. It can and has been done!

    15. Dark Macadamia*

      There’s no right answer, not even just for yourself because you never know how things will change. I tried working part time the first year after my daughter was born and the act of being employed was good but the specific job was not. After that I was a SAHM, planning to do it for 3 years or until I found a job that was a REALLY great fit. There were a lot of wonderful things about being a SAHM and overall I’m grateful I did it, but sometimes it was HARD. And then Covid happened right as I was preparing to go back and 3 years turned into 6, we moved twice during those 6 years and I generally felt very isolated and incompetent and incapable of going back.

      I had a really hard time returning to work because I didn’t do anything to network or keep my skills in use. The actual job search was easy, but the anxiety and feeling embarrassed to be tracking down outdated references and having nothing new on my resume was rough. Like, I started the application in February and submitted it in June. And interviewed/got hired in July.

      My advice would be to allow yourself some flexibility – what do you think you want now? what works for your family now? and see how it goes knowing that you can always do something different if what you want/what works changes. You’re a good parent and a worthy human no matter what you end up doing.

    16. I heart Paul Buchman*

      I was SAH for 6 years, then a small job from home around the kids for another 4. After 10 years (4 kids) I decided to retrain into a new industry. I spent 5 years getting a Bachelors Degree in a new field. a after 15 years I then went into the workforce in a job that I love and work 30hrs a week. The qualification let me increase my earnings potential and I earn a reasonable wage as a part timer.

      I’ve never been ambitious, loved my time with my kids. I do have the privilege of having a partner who earned a reasonable wage and we deliberately moved to a low cost of living area. We have a basic, lifestyle. Public school, camping holidays etc. If I’d been divorced, like some of my friends I would have been financially vulnerable but after a few years back in the workforce my earning potential is stable now.

      it does help that my industry (social services) traditionally hires mature age women. TLDR: I have no regrets.

    17. Fiction Reader*

      Just to add a couple of anecdotes, I stopped working after my second child was born, and stayed out of the workforce for 13 years. I was so sure I was done that I let my registration and license lapse (health-care field) and had to get them re-instated when I went back to work. A friend of mine in a finance-related field was out for over 10 years. Neither of us had trouble getting jobs, although we had to go back at a more entry-level position and then work our way up for the first few years. Another friend bought a business after staying home with her kids for about 15 years.
      So in my opinion you will be able to go back to work when you want to or need to — but there may be some stressful moments. When my husband got laid off, I wondered if I had made a bad decision. But we had a good emergency fund and I knew that if necessary, I would be able to get some kind of a job before COBRA ran out. You have skills and work experience, so I am sure you could also go back to work when/if you need to.

    18. Meow*

      I’m not a parent but your feelings sound super normal to me. Lots of new moms want to be full time moms at least when their baby is young. Even if your immediate circle of friends or family don’t feel that way it’s not abnormal.

      And for the people who do desire to go back to work (which is also valid), it’s out of a desire to be occupied and do something outside of the house, not because of some sort of obligation to the employer. You don’t owe anything to society by keeping your job or something.

  25. struggling work friend*

    My coworker/friend is about to lose their position in a reorganization. I feel awful that I know and they don’t. I’m worried they’re going to hate me for knowing and saying nothing, and I also know I can’t say anything.
    I’m not their supervisor. The decision has already been made. I plan to advocate on some level (suggesting reduced FTE, reclass, etc). I already know it won’t matter.
    What would you do?

    1. L. Ron Jeremy*

      I say you have to suck it up and not say anything like you said in your post. it’s the correct thing to do.

      1. Dragon*

        Will your co-worker definitely find out at some point that you knew? I think they’ll understand that you couldn’t say anything.

    2. ThatGirl*

      I feel like legally, you can’t say anything. Might get you in trouble or even fired. Even if they find out you knew before them, they should understand that.

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Would you “advocate” in the same way if it was a general colleague rather than your friend? If no, I don’t think you should get involved here either. If the reorg is generally known about, you could have a more general conversation with her about being prepared etc. When it happens- will she know that you knew in advance?

  26. I'm Dormy Staniels*

    Topic: Fundraising Development VP gives notice (9) business days before last day meanwhile takes (4) PTO days leaving (3) business days to cram in transition activities.

    It’s been an arduous journey for all of us. Boss was hired mid-COVID and made some good changes, while assuming a team that was beaten down by previous leadership. I came on in July 2021. Due to the boss, and how she was treating me, I quit a few months later citing not fitting in. But offered to stay on during holidays to process gifts. Then boss/I decided no suitable replacement and I was growing into the position. I renewed on March 1. However, it’s been a rocky relationship with said boss.

    We lost a beloved team member April 2022 which was akin to cutting off the boss’ right arm and leg. She was very dependent on this person. We all had to modify our jobs, assuming tasks of this person (not maliciously taking on the tasks, but knew she could do them leaving others to their work). We hired her replacement, everyone had their roles and we moved forward. Until the org chart changed Dec and in Jan/Feb we hired a COO and CHR which put the boss farther away from the CEO who she was hired by and had a good relationship with. She lost her sense in the organization, felt out of place and not moving forward. We became more negative, critical (never was a non-judgmental person), and she/I completely stopped our 1:1 which I never asked about really because she wasn’t good at them (usually ended up talking about her/her complaints).

    No downward transition plans, only that given to her stand-in, the COO until they hire for boss’ position. What do we do with her portfolio? Who is the new point of contact or major/planned gifts? Yes, we’d all like to know, but for now, we’re just happy she’s moving on.

    1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      Oh my god. 9 DAYS of notice??? That’s super unprofessional, but it sounds like she wasn’t exactly cutting the mustard anyway.

      I don’t know if you’re asking what to do with the portfolio, but here’s my thoughts. I assume her portfolio is the board and principal level donors? Ideally the COO would work closely with the most senior member of the frontline fundraising team to work out a plan for notification and coverage in the interim. It would be great if the fundraising team could draft language for the ED to use when they reach out to those top donors to let them know VP has decided to leave the organization due to a family situation (or whatever is remotely true), that a national search will be conducted to find a replacement (or whatever is true), and in the meantime they’re welcome to contact ED or [Senior fundraiser] with any questions or concerns. Then I’d have the senior fundraiser send occasional updates and touchpoints to those donors to make sure they don’t feel involved, and hope there weren’t any big solicitations planned in the immediate future!

      1. I'm Dormy Staniels*

        Exactly! On Tuesday, during our Team meeting when she made her announcement, I asked if she wanted to draft a transition letter to the 250 donors in her portfolio. She said, ‘No’. I had to ask, ‘Who signs your letters?’ She lamented she thought the CEO’s Exec wouldn’t get the letters to the CEO on time. Not sure why she cared about it and it was never over a business week the letters went unsigned. So I suggested the new Dev Cmte chair might be interested (this person is very engaged) so we’ll see if that works out. For now I’m making it up. Usually, the Boss would use a weekly gift report for outreach, for now we’ll include her portfolio in our Volunteer work as they make phone calls and/or write postcard thanks.

        This boss was our most senior frontline fundraiser and her portfolio consisted of $2.5k +donors, planned giving and those of her choice. Some were family foundations and a few corporate. To date this group has giving $513k and $745k last fiscal year. Not all will be lost because she didn’t bring in many gifts this year. Her goal was $115k, to date she’s at $5k. Many are annual donors and give in spring or end of year, so they’re on auto-pilot.

        She said she was frustrated by the lack of engagement by donors. Our impact sector seemed to be more challenging than her previous one. I think she involved herself in areas she didn’t need to because it was comfortable, and her time management wasn’t great either. I don’t think she effectively balanced fundraising and admin which is hard. I’ve done it with a national brand as an ED/sole staff doing it all and I can empathize but project and time management are critical skills she didn’t have/rarely employed.

  27. Ihmmy*

    I have been super struggling with motivation lately – the weather isn’t helping with a very slow spring warm up and tons of snow still out there. I do a bit better with my on-site days but they also take a lot out of me with travel and no windows vs my home office. Any tips or suggestions around getting your oomph back when it comes to work? I really do like this job but I’m still figuring out so much of it, right now I’m mostly focusing on cleaning up some documentation and prepping for new projects.

    1. Need More Sunshine*

      I’m experiencing this too, especially with the time change making it darker in the morning. My only advice is small – take breaks when you feel yourself getting into a slump! Take a quick walk, or even just stand up and stretch your arms and legs. It sometimes helps jog my brain a bit into work mode and gets me looking at things with fresh eyes.

    2. Cyndi*

      I have no tips, but it feels like the last few weeks the forecast here has been “THIS is for sure the week warmer weather hits!” and then it continues to be rainy and in the 40s. It’s really starting to get me down, more so I think than if they’d correctly forecast cruddy weather to begin with.

    3. Strawberry Shortcake*

      Can you give yourself little rewards for meeting goals? Like after every ten teapots analyzed you get to look at a new picture of a kitten, or eat an orange tic tac, or something else? Having something to look forward to sometimes helps my motivation when I just can’t seem to unslump myself.

      The cleanup and prep work are still important so you should be proud of yourself for tackling that.

  28. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I was laid off in January and today I plan to accept a job offer with a great company for a stretch-ish position. I struggled a bit because while the job is exactly what I want (including the stretch), the industry is a slight shift. But the offer is good, the benefits are great, the culture seems wonderful, and with layoffs right and left in my field, I’m just happy to be hired– for a higher base salary than my last job. I negotiated for even more and they sweetened the offer a bit.

    Now I just need to enjoy these next two weeks of “freedom”, knowing I’ll get paid again soon!

  29. Need More Sunshine*

    HR professional here looking for y’all’s advice. An employee just told me that she’s pregnant and that’s why she’s been taking sick time because she’s having a hard time with nausea. I responded and said thanks for letting me know, congratulations, and I’m here to support you however you need. And I incuded all the info she’ll need for upcoming leave.

    But I really hesitated with incuding “congratulations” – what if she’s not happy about the pregnancy? What if she doesn’t plan to continue it? As HR, I want to be supportive and give her all the right info, but I try to err on the side of caution for assuming people’s feelings about things. (She works in another location from me and we don’t work together much, so if I knew her better personally, I could make a better guess, so this is moreso for people that I don’t have that personal context with.)

    As employees, how would you want HR to respond to your message that you’re pregnant? Does anyone have ideas for good verbiage for being supportive but not assuming positive/negative feelings?

    1. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian*

      I would personally have left it just at “Thanks for letting me know. Here’s all the information you may need going forward.” but it sounds like you wanted to add a little something more on on the relationship/personal side. Maybe something like “Hopefully that doesn’t last too long for you! I imagine it’s rough.”

    2. WhaleToDo*

      In my experience, a pregnancy that doesn’t merit a “congratulations” isn’t going to come up at work. They’ll discuss vague “medical issues” or “family issues”, but they’re not going to tell someone that they’re pregnant (because presumably they may not be soon and they don’t want to get into that). This may be regional though – I live in a conservative state where a lot of folks are religious. As such, the rule is always to congratulate and be positive.

      If I announced a pregnancy, I would absolutely need congratulations from work because in my male-dominated field I’d worry about the professional repercussions and be hyper sensitive to people being upset at me for being a pregnant woman at work. (Not in so many words, but we all know people are annoyed at coworkers who lose productivity and are absent a lot, which is par for the course with pregnancy.)

    3. Artemesia*

      I think the only response to any announcement of pregnancy is ‘congratulations’ — if she didn’t plan to keep it, she would not be telling you probably. And even when a pregnancy is unwelcome, congratulations is still a better response than cold indifference or ‘was it planned?’ or. ‘are you happy about it?’

      1. Need More Sunshine*

        This is where I ended up landing with it too (and I’d never even think of asking the other questions!), and just focused mainly on what I could do for her work-wise, with leave and accommodations and such.

        Thanks to all of you for your input!

        1. Frankie*

          Yes, even if I weren’t happy about a pregnancy if I were telling someone about it in any professional context I would expect to hear a simple “congratulations” because all the other options are bad. Kind of like how we always say “good” to “how are you” even if we’re not.

    4. Maggie*

      What you said is fine, obviously there are outliers but people 99.999999% of the time don’t tell “extra” people that they’re pregnant when they’re getting an abortion.

    5. Jay (no, the other one)*

      By convention, that’s the appropriate response. I read a Miss Manners column years ago where she said it’s always appropriate to say “congrats” on hearing of a pregnancy and “I’m sorry to hear that” when there’s news of a divorce, even though the pregnant person may be distraught and the newly divorced ecstatic. When I hear about a pregnancy from someone I know socially, I often say something like “That will be a big change!” and their response lets me know where they are and where the conversation will go – and there’s really nothing wrong with “congratulations!” in a business setting to someone you don’t know. It personalizes it a bit.

      1. allathian*

        I don’t think “I’m sorry to hear that” is an appropriate response when someone’s inviting you to a party to celebrate their divorce, though. It’s just not something that’d occur to Miss Manners, I suspect.

        Congratulations are in order for any pregnancy news when we’re dealing with purely professional relationships and with acquaintances and casual friends. With very close friends you often know if the news is happy or devastating, and can tailor your reply accordingly.

    6. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      I’m currently pregnant and I agree that if the pregnancy was not intended to continue, they wouldn’t have told HR they were pregnant. I think “congratulations” is an appropriate thing to say, and if I were the employee and my boss/HR hadn’t said congratulations, I’d be a little worried that my pregnancy wouldn’t be handled well because the company views it as a burden. That little word can change the whole tone of the conversation.

  30. Freddie Mercurial*

    My department change and new manager assignment aren’t official because of HR stuff. I was told about it more than a month ago and it was supposed to go into effect earlier this month. Everyone just talks around it. I’m not sure of the details but I think someone is trying to get more money. I was already dreading this change and the delay just makes it worse. I feel like my job has no purpose and that TPTB don’t take me seriously as someone with skills and knowledge.
    I look at other jobs but have strict requirements and I have some good benefits at my current job. But it’s overall very frustrating and demoralizing.

  31. Manders*

    How much chaos is normal for a small nonprofit? I recently made the switch to nonprofit work, and while I like what I do and I feel like I’m a great fit for the culture of the team, I’m having a lot of issues handling the workflow.

    As the only marketer, I’m sort of floating between departments getting assignments from everyone. Everyone believes their own projects are the most important thing I’m doing right now, and some of what they’re assigning me is work I feel like I don’t have the right skills or the right tools to handle. I don’t have a problem pitching in with projects outside my job description, but I feel like it’s getting to the point where huge chunks of my day are being spent on projects that shouldn’t really be handled by a marketer. I’m having a hard time getting my boss to even sit down with me and discuss clear goals or even what the organization’s marketing budget is supposed to be because she keeps piling graphic design and admin projects on my plate.

    A lot of the processes they use are causing problems or come with a very high chance of one misclick causing a disaster, but every time I suggest a solution, I get told “That’s not the way we do things here.” I understand some resistance to spending money on new software, but it’s getting to the point that we’re losing $200 in staff time or wasted resources by refusing to spend $20. I would feel less weird about this if I felt like I was otherwise being listened to, but I’m getting the impression that the higher-ups aren’t actually interested in taking marketing advice from me or don’t like hearing the way they’ve been doing things for years isn’t best practice.

    I’ve been here a few months and I’m debating whether it’s time to cut and run. I didn’t enjoy freelancing, and I care very deeply about the mission of the nonprofit, but I feel like I’m not doing my best work here despite being so busy all day every day.

    1. I Wonked the Wonka and I won*

      I’ve been in non-profit for 23 years and am on my 8th organization (mostly because my husband and I were in the military and moved a lot).

      Yes, non-profits can be chaotic due to lack of resources, lack of qualified staff and/or leadership. Sometimes we fall prey and vulnerable to the cycle of starvation: relying and hoping for general funds to invest in our org/team so we can become more proficient in our work and mission.

      Your boss isn’t listening and that’s a major problem. If you can’t get them to give you 1:1 time to discuss your goals, needs, and performance plan, it’s time to move on out despite caring for the mission.

      Of the 8 orgs I’ve worked for, maybe 2 had decent and useful bosses (all women). Tragedy of the non-profit sector

      Yes, this is a terrible, and common stance, “That’s not the way we do things here.” But if you can’t break the cycle, trying different messaging and approaches, you’ll never be able to achieve your job and professional goals.

      1. Manders*

        Thank you, this was really helpful. I’ve worked in a pretty wide variety of for-profits at this point, from tiny struggling publishing companies to startups burning through millions in venture capital. I thought I knew what I was in for when it came to working with limited resources but I think I underestimated how much the decision-making process changes when your bosses have to report to donors and a very involved board.

        The lack of qualified staff is definitely a problem. I’m being assigned some big projects that should be handled by a development manager, but that role is vacant right now and I was just told that if they can’t find anyone for the job soon they’ll be leaving it open until after their big fall fundraiser. I’m not a development manager, I have no clue what it entails because I’ve never worked at a nonprofit before, and I feel like I’m just not doing a great job on these projects but nobody else has the bandwidth for them.

    2. Minimal Pear*

      IME the first bit (everyone assigning you work) is pretty common, but the second bit (refusing to fix processes) is less so and is a bigger problem.

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      > losing $200 in staff time or wasted resources by refusing to spend $20

      Quantify these (in the way you have here but more detail e.g. this took us 5 hours to fix assuming a cost of $40 per hour or whatever) and make a ‘business’ case in the same way you would in the for-profit world.

      1. Manders*

        I’m trying, but to be honest, there’s a rigidity to the budgeting I can’t wrap my mind around. I can request a high-end laptop, but I have to beg for a subscription to a cheap tool that would save tons of time and reduce mistakes. They buy fancy tea and Keurig cups for the breakroom, but get very worried about even idea of anyone requesting breakroom snacks. If one thing comes in under budget or I find a free way to do something, it doesn’t seem to free up more budget for a different thing.

        I know nonprofits have to report their budgets and that grants come with restrictions on how you can spend the funds, I’m just having a very hard time understanding why the limits are where they are. I wonder sometimes if “It’s not in the budget” is an excuse the higher-ups are using for avoiding trying things that feel scary because they’re new or require technical knowledge they don’t have. But doing new, technical things is what they hired me for!

        1. Hear Ye*

          Prob too late for you to see this, but for what it’s worth, this sounds to me like it’s just a dysfunctional workplace (in at least some ways). I’ve worked at a few non profits – and I’ve never worked at for-profits – and the bigger problems you’re describing don’t really sound like they’re caused by the non-profit-y-ness of your company. It sounds like silly management.

  32. NaoNao*

    How can I be more integrated and visible in offices/corporate world?

    I’ve noticed that a big part of my struggles in jobs is being overlooked/being in the background/not having a network, and my most recent boss specifically called out my lack of reaching out and connections as a reason it didn’t work out.

    I’ve also noticed things like my keycard not working (when I’m still active), my birthday not being celebrated or acknowledged in an office that otherwise does so, bosses or coworkers not explaining or offering key information like travel policy per diem—or where to find that type of thing, how to get a P-card, being left off of acknowledgements during calls, people overlooking my requested time slot on meetings (like “hey I have a topic” and them blowing right over it), not being included on routine “hey new hire, we’re rounding you all up to do corporate head shots” type deal. It just feels like I’m invisible to the corporate world and I can’t seem to figure out how to become more “there” without a major personality transplant.

    The weird part is, I’m not an introvert or shy–I was in theatre and people have occasionally described my personality as ‘big’ and I love public speaking and presenting. I also worked for years in retail so I can do “happy happy smiley” face and small talk really well.

    I just…don’t get it and it’s becoming a real issue. Help please!

    1. Colette*

      Are you being reasonably social with your colleagues? Alternatively, is your personality too big – do you pick up social cues to get back to work and make sure others talk at least as much as you do? Do you put pressure on others to behave in a certain way – e.g. toxic positivity?

      Do you speak up when they miss you in meetings, and ask for information you know you need? The per diem policy, for example, is not typically offered unless someone asks or you have an exceptionally organized manager who remembers you haven’t traveled before.

      1. NaoNao*

        As far as I can tell, my issue isn’t talking over others or being a grinning fool but the opposite–being less social than I should and speaking up less! I bring up per diem because I asked my boss who’d been there 2 years “what’s the per diem” as I’ve traveled pretty extensively before, and he said there is none. Then a more tenured employee told me 6 months later it’s actually X and Y (limits). O…kay! That could be a misunderstanding and likely was, but I feel like managers seem to be focused on and helping others more than me, if that makes sense.

    2. Qwerty*

      How much are you interacting with others? Is your work pretty isolated? Or do you only talk to people about work stuff? All those little things you talk about seem to be stuff that comes up off-the-cuff.

      On the other end of the spectrum, are you typically very on top of everything and helping everyone else out? For example: the person who organizes birthday stuff will generally have their birthday missed. I’m in this bucket, where people are so used to me being around and knowing everything that they forget me completely. It doesn’t occur to them that I might need or an invite. They even have clear memories of me at events that pre-date my employment!

    3. There You Are*

      Are there any groups you could join? My org has things like Young Professionals, Pride, Women in Business, and Employees of African Descent.

      Other than that, if someone blows past your requested time slot, speak up in the meeting. “I wanted to discuss X with the team. Should I schedule a separate meeting or is now OK?”

      For the per diem and things similar to it, does your company have a repository of policies? Read through them and become the subject matter expert on your team. Or ask the AP manager about allowed travel expenditures. That stuff gets audited, so they’ll definitely know. Feel free to ask them one or 2two non-travel expense questions. (“Thanks for the info! Say, how long have you worked here at Company?”)

      When your keycard quits working, are you relying only on your boss to get it activated / fixed? Go to Security or IT and [politely, humorously] bug them about it on your own. (“I mean, if the company wants me to take the day off, I’ll head to the beach right now!”)

      Do you call out other people’s successes (which can also be used to remind others that you were part of the overall success)? Like, in a call where others are being acknowledged and you had a hand in whatever is being praised, you can say something like, “I want to give an extra shoutout to Lucinda on the XYZ portion of the project. Working with her to get it knocked out was a great experience.”

      If there’s something you want to know, don’t ask your manager for the info; ask your manager who they think would have the answer. (“Hey, Boss, the lights over my desk just died, who do I call about this?”, “Boss, who can I talk to about our relationship with Big Vendor Z?”). And then ask *those* people one or two questions that aren’t directly related to the thing you called them about.

  33. Anon 4 this - negotiating on the tenure track*

    I’ve been posting about my husband and I both getting job offers on the tenure track this year, and both hoping to negotiate partner hires.

    I have some bad news… neither university came through for us. Worse, my university was super aggressive in negotiations (to the point that my whole network was shocked by their behavior) and won’t budge on anything: salary, startup package, nothing, along with some other pretty atypical behavior. I actually wonder if once they found out I was married they lost interest in me, and tried to make the offer awful so I’d say no and they could move down the list. Eff that, they offered me the job and they can’t take it back now.

    My husband’s department tried super hard with the partner hire but the dean would not approve it.

    Our plan is to both accept and live separately next year. We’re going to quietly keep applying immediately and hope for a resolution in the next few years.

    Academia sucks sometimes. We were going to start trying for kids soon, and I worry I’m getting too old… I thought I’d never get this far, though, so it feels crazy to complain.

    1. OtterB*

      Sorry to hear it didn’t work out for this round. I hope you can find something soon. One of my good friends from high school earned a PhD and married another PhD, and they had several years – I can’t remember how many – of living apart. She had a tenure-track job and stayed in it, and he had various visiting roles until eventually he was hired for a tenure-track job at a different school but close enough to commute. I don’t know your field or your geographic location, but that’s something to consider as you look at future choices – something in the DC area or Boston or other big metro areas might give you more flexibility in finding something for both of you.

      1. Anon 4 this - negotiating on the tenure track*

        Yes, we’ve done it before. We’re coming off of 6 years of postdocs, only 2 of which we lived together (separated during Covid as well). We’ll be okay, it’s just a drag. We’ll keep applying, and honestly if nothing comes together in the next year or two I might quit and change careers. It sucks because it means one less woman in the field, but at some point this career just isn’t compatible with a full life.

    2. Cyndi*

      If anecdata would make you feel better right now–I was roommates for a few years with a guy who was finishing his PhD here while his wife went to med school in another site. Once a month he’d fly out there for a weekend, once a month she’d fly here–and in her last year of med school my friend’s wife did get pregnant! So it’s tough, and I’m really sorry you’re stuck in this situation for now, but it doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive with trying for kids.

      1. Anon 4 this - negotiating on the tenure track*

        haha yes, one of my mentors has a similar story. Hopefully we can make it work!

    3. Manchmal*

      I’m sorry to hear that. Academia can just be so brutal. I was just offered a job (which, fingers crossed, I’m about to accept in the coming days), and I was surprised and delighted during the on-campus when I had a half-hour meeting with someone called the work-life liaison who talked at length about the school’s dual career program for spousal hires. It doesn’t apply to me, because my partner is not in academia. But it made me appreciate that the school was invested in a full life for their workers because they understand that this is what will allow them to stay long-term. It especially makes sense when schools are in rural areas, or anywhere without lots of alternatives for trailing spouses. I mean, schools invest a great deal in a search, and a ton more in a tenure-track faculty. Why do they want to all but ensure that you’ll be on the job market next year because your spouse is living halfway across the country? And then they’ll have to go to the expense and effort of another search? It defies logic.

  34. Flowers*

    Am I right to be annoyed by this? I sit in a cube and anytime someone comes to talk to us their backs are always turned to me and I can’t understand much. 

    We sit in a cube (or maybe rectangle???). There are 2 rows of 4 seats. In each row it’s 1 seat facing out, 2 seats facing each other divided by a thick wall, and 1 seat facing out in the opposite direction. We’re all one department. I sit in one of the seats facing the outside; the one next to me is empty, while the two on the other side are half empty (part timer) and fully occupied. 

    I rely heavily on body language and while I don’t want/need eye contact, I find it really hard to follow along or listen when someone isn’t even looking in my general direction. I give up after a few seconds. It’s the same when it’s just everyone in the team chatting throughout the day or asking questions. I would love to join in, or throw my questions out, but I just feel so awkward doing it esp when one of the louder/talkative people suddenly speak in super low volumes facing away from me. 

    For the speakers the only solution I can think of is to just approach them afterwards; but I’m still “new” and it’s taking me a while to get used to it. 

    1. Colette*

      If I understand correctly, people are coming into the middle of the two rows and facing the other row? Is that correct?

      Some thoughts:
      – if someone comes in and speaks in low voices to the people in the other row, I would assume you aren’t supposed to join in – i.e. that it’s something that doesn’t affect you.
      – If one of the other desks is free (or assigned to a part-time person), can you switch?

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Can you stand up and sidle around so you at least get a profile view of the speaker?

      (major nesting fails today….)

      1. Flowers*

        If I did that, I’d be in the other peoples’ personal space – that’s not something I ever want to do.

    3. Gemstones*

      Are they definitely talking to you or maybe just to people in your cubicle area? It seems like if they’re lowering their voices, it’s not directed at you specifically.

    4. Flowers*

      Sorry I see now the way I wrote it, it’s pretty confusing.

      Usually the person speaking with their back to me is addressing my department; I’m in the exact same role as everyone so there’s no reason I should be excluded. Again, I try to be conscious of body language – if someone is at someone’s desk and talking to them in a low tone, I ignore/pretend they’re not there… but if they’re standing in middle of a common area speaking in a normal volume, i have no reason to believe it’s a private conversation. 

      Now re: the “quiet talker” – 
      since it’s an open area, everyone talks all day long about work and non-work stuff. Most of the people who I end up talking to will generally look in my way and respond; but there’s one person who – when I comment or ask a question to the group like everyone else does – will look straight at their computer and speak in a very low tone. But in nearly every single interaction, they’re pretty loud and expressive…so it’s something I’ve noticed…

      i see now it was pretty muddy the way I wrote it so hopefully this clears it up…..

  35. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    Can you stand up and sidle around so you at least get a profile view of the speaker?

  36. Why did I decide to be in IT?*

    I work in IT and we have a front desk staffer that has stated they have OCD and insist on cleaning their keyboard, mouse, scanner, printer, monitor, phone, dock, etc. Not so bad – wish we had more that cleaned up – BUT they unplug the cords and mess stuff up and then my team is responsible for putting it back. We’ve asked them to stop and they will for a few weeks but then go right back to it. I’ve spoken to their supervisor about the amount of time we spend weekly fixing it but their supervisor isn’t concerned. There is no ADA request as far as I know. But my team ends up spending 10-30 minutes a week fixing what this staffer accidently breaks. Suggestions?

    1. Head full o cats*

      I’m not IT do this may not be helpful, but would it be easier to fix if you labeled all the cords and plugs so it’s quicker to fix when he unplugs everything?

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      Would it be possible for someone to sit with the person to show how to clean everything without messing the connections up? It’s going to take time upfront, but will save time & frustration in the long run.

    3. Peanut Hamper*

      Are there lockout devices you can install that prevent the cords from being unplugged?

      Or can you apply labels that indicate what cable goes where so that they can take care of this themselves?

      And if you’ve confirmed that there is no ADA request on this, can you simply de-prioritize their need to have this fixed?

      1. I have RBF*

        That kind of thing is why I stopped doing Windows support. An executive at a previous job would demand every Monday or Tuesday that we remap her network drives on her computer. This was a simple process, and we showed her how, wrote out instructions for her, everything. Why did she insist that we do it? “You’re IT, it’s your job.”

        No, doing routine stuff for you like you were an incompetent invalid is not our job. We’re here to fix stuff that breaks. Remapping your network drives after you’ve taken your computer home for the weekend isn’t something broken, it’s normal behavior, you need to map your own drives. Of course, since she was CFO, we couldn’t say that, so we had to keep doing unnecessary work for her because she was lazy and entitled.

        Between that and constantly having to fix another user’s .pst files is why I refuse to do user level Windows support any more.

        1. cncx*

          Yeah I still work in Windows support. My top two wtaf are

          * the time I was ordered to walk down three flights of stairs to plug in a power cord

          * the time an intern with a fresh mba who turned out to be related to someone important, went to the CEO because I asked her to wait ten minutes while I finished something mission critical (backups) before I set up her external monitor (HR predictably did not tell me she was hired). CEO asked her to give me ten minutes as I asked. She called someone on the BOARD screaming that her wifi would work without this external monitor. At 9am on a Monday morning when she was lucky she had a desk and an account because again, HR didn’t tell me, and I had whipped out her computer and email on the fly already. Luckily everyone in between was rather sheepish about how she treated me.

          Due to her family connections she is now a senior manager who I assume is still pulling rank and terrorizing IT workers across the globe.

          1. There You Are*

            Oof. I used to work in IT support. My worst WTAF moment was being called up to the tippy-top floor of the ivory tower to “fix” the wired mouse of a new CFO. We had her computer and accessories all set up and ready to go before she started, so I couldn’t imagine what could have gone wrong with a mouse that hadn’t even been used yet.

            Nothing was wrong. We had placed the mouse and mouse pad on the right hand side of the keyboard and she wanted it on the left.

            Alrighty then.

            Let me just pick both of them up for you, swing the mouse cable around behind the monitor, and set them down on the left hand side of the keyboard. “Will there be anything else I can do for you today, ma’am?”

            1. There You Are*

              Dangit, I always leave this part out of the story whenever I tell it: It was The Olden Days and our computers were mostly used as dumb terminals. The wired mouse had two buttons but either only one did anything or they both did the same thing (i.e., it didn’t matter which button you pushed). It’s been so long now, I forget.

              But what I do know is that this was waaaaaay before mouse-button configuration was a thing.

    4. The teapots are on fire*

      The person who needs to help you with their supervisor is YOUR supervisor. It’s no skin off the other manager’s teeth if IT runs around cleaning up after their employee. I think you’ll have more luck if someone higher up the food chain addresses this.

  37. Quiet Job Seeker*

    Is there a good way to indicate to recruiters you are looking for a job WITHOUT making it public? I see people using the “open to work” banner on LinkedIn, but I don’t want my current job to know I’m looking. I used to get recruiter messages constantly back when I was happy in my job, but that has dried up with the massive layoffs in my industry. My profile doesn’t look like a person who would be looking – only been at my job a few months, role/title appear to be great, but this team is going to implode very soon.

    Are there better sites than LinkedIn to be on? Are there things I can do to make my profile appear more often? I feel like recruiters normally drown me in messages right after I accept a new job so there has to be an algo causing that. I’m attempting to be more active in the app like add former coworkers as connections and respond to messages.

    1. ferrina*

      You can directly reach out to recruiters. Usually you’d only work with one or two recruiters (only one recruiter can ‘own’ your candidacy for each role, so if you use multiple recruiters you have to be really careful to make sure that you aren’t doubling up).

    2. Sutemi*

      I believe that LinkedIn has an option to show only to recruiters that you are open to work, it doesn’t show publicly to everyone.

    3. irene adler*

      If it helps any: the LI “Open to Work” option allows you to select whether everyone sees this banner or just recruiters can see this banner.

  38. my cat is prettier than me*

    My husband has been a temp at his workplace since October 2021. He changed teams once and got a small raise. He has been absolutely killing it (completing twice as much work in the same timeframe as his coworkers, which is backed by pure data), and I keep pushing for him to ask to be brought on as a direct employee of the company, but he won’t ask them. Being a direct employee would give him a substantial raise and benefits.

    This is probably more of an interpersonal problem than a work problem, but I’m frustrated. Is it normal to be a temp in one position for more than a year and a half?

    1. ferrina*

      Depends on the company, but usually not normal. I worked for a company that kept me as a temp for 9 months and only hired me on when they realized I might leave. At that point I was the project lead for several long-term projects and starting to represent the company to external parties. They just had me as a temp to save themselves money. Ideally your husband would be looking at other options and finding leverage for that full-time role.

      That said….it’s his call. You can’t push him into something he doesn’t want to do (well, maybe you can, but you don’t want to). There may be weird politics or some reason he feels he can’t ask (even if that reason sounds weird to others). Good luck to you both!

    2. Cyndi*

      My last two jobs were both long term temp situations. The last one, I left because there was an 18-month hard limit on contractors and they were waiting until the last minute to tell me + the other contractors whether we were going to be converted to permanent or let go, and I couldn’t afford not to job hunt. The one before that, the conversion system was that every time a perm employee left all the temps had to apply for that one slot; the department was roughly 20 perms and 30 contractors, so this created a situation where I essentially applied for my own job, and was rejected, three or four times while I was there. I would never go into an employment setup like that again without asking up front how they handle converting temps to permanent.

      I think you’re right and your husband would be more than justified about asking what his workplace’s system is for converting temps to permanent, especially after a year and a half! Can I ask what his reasons are for not wanting to pursue it?

      1. my cat is prettier than me*

        He’s just really timid. He was pretty gung-ho about asking last week, but he hasn’t said anything since.

        1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

          > He was pretty gung-ho about asking last week, but he hasn’t said anything since.

          Do you think it’s possible that he did ask, they said no and he doesn’t want to have that discussion with you?

  39. Never again*

    Has anyone else ever had a mentee so bad you’ve decided you’ll never be a mentor again? We have a few weeks left on this assignment, and then I hope I don’t cross paths with this person ever again.

    1. londonedit*

      Nothing too bad, but I took my name off the list of mentors at my workplace after a couple of disappointing interactions. Most of my mentees were great, but there were a couple where I could just tell that all they wanted was for me to somehow magically provide a foot in the door for them with the editorial department, and that a) wasn’t going to happen and b) wasn’t at all the point of the mentoring scheme. It was dispiriting for me to find out that they didn’t really want to learn from me, they just wanted me to get them a job in editorial. The last one just full-on ghosted me after about three meetings which was very annoying! I fed that info back to the person who coordinates it all and said I’d like to take a break because I didn’t feel that some of the mentees were engaging properly with the process.

      1. linger*

        If you’re seeing this as a consistent issue, the problem may lie with what (if anything) potential mentees are told in advance about the specific aims of the mentorship process.
        (I can see how, if it’s something as vague as “facilitating professional advancement” some could interpret that as “fast-tracking to my preferred position”.)

        1. londonedit*

          It’s a good thought but I don’t think the problem did lie in a lack of communication in this case, because the mentors and mentees all attended (or should have attended) meetings/presentations where the aims and structure of the programme was fully explained. It was also definitely clearly stated in the guidelines for mentors and mentees that it should be a learning experience. I think a few people just chose to ignore all of that and thought ‘well, if I can get in on this mentoring thing then surely someone can get me a move to editorial’.

  40. Relieved*

    I made a big leap forward in my career with a new job about six months ago. It is a contracting position. When I was still very much in the “dumb baby” time period, where literally everything you do, you’re doing for the first time, was told that the client wasn’t happy with my level of experience. I never misrepresented myself, so they knew exactly how much experience I had before I was offered the job. The news was delivered to me by someone with the worst bedside manner and I was told I basically needed to start looking for a new job. This, of course, set off months of stressing I could be losing my job at any second. Then, the contract was going to be switched to a new company so it seemed a possibility that I wouldn’t be retained.

    Well, everything got settled a few weeks ago. I was retained. And the complaint was more about the contracting company not doing a great job, than about me personally. I wasn’t actually in danger of losing my job and as long as I don’t, maybe, set something on fire, I’m secure. It’s such a relief! And I don’t have to deal with Mr. Bedside Manner anymore.

  41. Stressed*

    Could someone help me with some perspective or something like that? I just asked my old mentee for some constructive feedback on my mentoring and he gave a lot of positive stuff and one negative thing and I just feel awful about that negative thing and am hyper focusing on it and feel terrible about it. It was just that I can talk a lot and be a bit much sometimes. It’s something I’ve always struggled with and am not sure I know how to fix. I just started managing and now I’m really worried I’m going to mess it up.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      This sounds like something that might be good to take to therapy. It’s understandable that you’re focusing on the one piece of negative feedback when it’s a trait you’ve already agonized over a lot, but also therapy can (hopefully) help you get to a place where a small piece of criticism doesn’t send you into an all-consuming stress spiral.

      1. Stressed*

        I’ve been in therapy for 20 years and we have focused on this a lot. I have definitely gotten better than I was, but am so frustrated that it’s still an issue after all this time. And I guess I’m having trouble gauging just how much of an issue it is?

    2. debbietrash*

      I’m sorry that you got this feedback. As someone who has been told their whole life that they’re loud and “a bit much” I know how much this can hurt to hear. This is just how I am, and it takes a lot of mental energy to self-monitor and regulate, especially if I’m excited.

      Have you followed up for more concrete feedback? Do they have specific instances of you talking a lot? For example during a training session, or a time where the mentee had a question or feedback but didn’t know how to jump in? My biggest self-check/correct for being overly talkative, to the point of monopolizing convos sometimes, is making a point to check in with others: “What do you think?”, “Do you have any questions or comments?”, or something similar. I also have to remind myself that even with my best efforts I’m still going to be “too much” or “too loud” for some folks, and to not take it so personally. If you’re giving your reports/mentees opportunities to ask questions and speak up, I think that’s a great starting point. Best of luck!

      1. Stressed*

        Thank you so much, I’m glad I’m not the only one who struggles with this! And what you said about self-monitoring and self-regulating is spot on with me. Some of my worry too is that as a manager they’ll be a power imbalance such that they won’t feel comfortable giving any pushback on it and that will make it worse. A lot of times day to day I pay attention to how much I talk compared to other people but I find that doesn’t work so well in this context because a lot of times it’s not so equal. Are there any times when you just know you said something you shouldn’t and ruminate about it constantly? I think part of this is that I know it’s an issue with me so the fact that it came up really got to me.

        Any tips you have for self regulating and making yourself come off as professional and appropriate?

        1. debbietrash*

          I very much relate to the ruminating on something afterwards. That’s where I have to practice a lot of self-compassion, and sometimes circle back with the individual later on to clear the air. Maybe the thing I said wasn’t as bad as I thought, and my anxious brain (woo) is working overtime.

          A lot of my tips with self-regulating start with self-awareness. The issue I’ve come across time and time again is that I have to relearn self-awareness for every new situation, even down to how I interact in the office with coworkers vs. how I interact socially with coworkers (I used to work at a place where folks would go for drinks after work semi-regularly. My brain just thought “social! Work norms gone!” which took some time to correct). Once I establish some self-awareness (about my need for self-awareness, very meta here), it’s a lot of taking a moment between thinking something and saying it. I struggle with this a lot (hello, ADHD), so I don’t always get it 100% of the time, but I find it keeps me from unintentionally monopolizing the conversation.

          A script for mentally checking in with myself that I learned a while ago, which has helped me a lot, is “Does this need to be said? Does this need to be said *now*? Does this need to be said now *by me*?” If the answer isn’t a screaming yes, and I know I’ve been talking a lot, I’ll take a pause and see what others say. Maybe they’ll bring up the thing I’m thinking about, or maybe they’ll bring up something completely different but equally useful, or maybe there will be a lull and I’ll jump in?

          You mentioned being concerned about a power imbalance with your reports, and them not feeling able to push back or comment. I wonder if this is something you could work on with your manager or a trusted colleague, asking for advice. I’m also going to reiterate making pointed openings with questions like, “Any questions?” or “Do you have anything to add?” I use this when teaching and it works well in encouraging folks to speak up when prompted, but also without prompting. I also like to establish at the beginning of a new section that I encourage questions and feedback. Maybe a similar comment when bringing on a new employee, or shifting into a new managerial role will help establish this as the norm?

        2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

          You are not the only one! We sound very similar. Talking too much / being a lot is my very softest most tender part, and the lightest criticism (or even joking) around it clobbers me. I’ve spent decades working on it — I’ve made a lot of progress with self-awareness and self-modulation — and I’ve probably “fixed” as much as i can so that I make more space for other people. Now I have to focus on self compassion and acceptance. I don’t have suggestions, just internet hugs.

        3. InterplanetJanet*

          I have been told I can be a “bit much” in my personal life. I’m also very productivity-driven. I’ll lead a meeting and plow through it and end it early as a default mode. So I don’t let myself run in my default mode. As a manager, I try to always make sure I’m dedicating time to sit in the silence after asking for thoughts or contributions. At regular check-ins with reports a few times throughout the year I specifically name – “This is the time when I want you to give me feedback. What do you need more of – support, resources, check-ins, etc.” I also in meetings make myself wait for what feels like a long time for me before replying to an open question – it’s usually a normal gap to others and gives others a fair time to jump in with their thoughts.

        4. Hear Ye*

          I have this issue sometimes, and years ago I read a great piece of advice for managers – “Speak clearly, speak briefly”. If i can remember that, and if I casually allow my natural instinct for warmth/friendliness to come through in my tone, it helps me a lot.

          I just have to remember it :-)

    3. ferrina*

      How much did he talk about the “negative” thing? What was his tone? Was the “negative” thing even negative, or was it “I guess you could work on this?”

      He might have felt like he had to give you some kind of critical feedback in order for him to be doing the right thing and be helpful. Everyone technically has something they could work on- I could be the most genius and genuine mentor in the world, but I don’t understand pop references so I have to get hip with the memes. Or someone feels like maybe I could improve, but not sure it that’s even humanly possible. Or maybe you had a single bad day- sure, you could technically do better by having no bad days, but you’re also human and we have limited control over these things.

      So try not to stress, but use it as a single point of information. Take a minute to remind yourself of all the things you’ve done right, and realize that part of this is your brain playing tricks on you by hyperfocusing on the bad.

    4. CheeryO*

      I have a director who falls into that “a bit much” category. I honestly love her energy and wish I could be more like her. She has acknowledged that her personality is a bit intense, and recently she has been making more of an effort to take a breather and let other people get a word in edge-wise in meetings, which is really the most important thing from a work perspective.

      I would really try not to take this too personally! It’s not some critical flaw that makes you a terrible person. It’s just a behavior that might not be 100 percent ideal in all work situations.

    5. fhqwhgads*

      You sound like a very normal human to me, your reaction I mean. I don’t know how you might stop hyperfocusing on the one negative, but a lot of conscientious people would react similarly. You’re not weird and you’re not bad.

  42. Luna*

    Perhaps a non-issue, but one of the things I’ve heard about me at my job is that they can’t tell if I’ll be reliable to show up for my hours and if I will or will not be (off) sick.

    I found this rather confusing because I did my best to remember when I took days off due to illness, and it really doesn’t appear to be much?
    One day, which was the second day on my job. I know that looks bad, and it was just a really bad case of a bad cold merging with my dust allergy. I took one day off because I couldn’t be upright for long.

    One week in June (about a month after I started) due to getting exposed and testing positive for Corona. Mandatory, legal five work days I had to isolate at home and not go to work.

    One day around November/December, a Monday, because I had been sick for a while, the worst occured over the weekend (I had off, fortunately), and I just requested that Monday off as a sick day to give myself one extra day to rest and regain energy before going back to work.

    And one day in February, due to a sprained ankle that got aggravated by my retail shift the day before.

    Is that ‘a lot’ or ‘often’?
    I do mention when I have a migraine, but those have been far and few between, and it’s not like I call off on such days. As long as I can still function well-enough, I go to work. Perhaps not with a sunshine attitude, but still working and functioning.

    Do they just not like it that I took about 8 days in almost 10 to 11 months of being on the job? Or is it that they consider any mention of not feeling 100% to be ‘sick’? And I do go to my shifts, I am generally not late. (Was only really late one time, and that was about 7 minutes. Rest of the time I am there a good 10 minutes early or right on the dot)

    1. DottedZebra*

      I don’t think that’s a lot, but it sounds like your first impression has stuck with you, unfortunately. Taking off the second day and a week a month in, plus a Monday after a weekend off = all of those are light red flags for being unreliable.

      It’s not fair, but in their minds you might be “person who called in sick on their second day.”

      1. Luna*

        Admittedly, I’d like to say the week off in my second month was not ‘my fault’ since it was my catching Corona. Despite wearing a mask and everything, but… oh, well. I mean, I think it’s different to take a week off due to legally-mandated isolation than calling in sick because of a cold or flu.

    2. Zap R.*

      Where did you hear it from? Was it in a formal context from your supervisor or was it coworkers being shady?

    3. ferrina*

      That’s not a lot. Unfortunately, once you have this reputation, visibility is everything.

      First, change your own language. When you say “I am generally not late”, I think “okay, this person is likely late 20-40% of the time”. But you were only late once- that’s more of “I’m always on time.”

      Next, make yourself known to the powers that be. Say “hello” when you get in. Do the most visible work first. Take up space so people know you’re there. Otherwise you’re in danger of “out of sight, out of mind” (and impressions can count more than facts). Don’t complain about your health- for some reason people are hearing that as “I need a sick day” (even though that’s not what you’re saying, but it will be easier to change what you say rather than change how their brain functions) Good luck!

      1. Luna*

        Making myself known to the powers that be doesn’t help because it’s a small store and 99% of the time, there is only one employee there, which is the one opening/taking over the shift.

    4. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

      People tend to make judgments based on their personal experience of something rather than facts. (For instance, our school library has to close probably 2-3 times a month due to absences or the library being booked for other things, but if a kid tries to come on even one of those days, the next time we see them they’ll say we’re “always closed.”) You can counter these misperceptions with facts!

      Look confused when people say this, and politely say, “Actually, I’ve only called in 3 days in a year, plus the time I had covid. Was there a time you had trouble reaching me?”

      Even if this perception is based on others in your office never taking sick leave, and so you are an outlier, make it sound so reasonable and matter-of-fact that they have to accept it.

      It is unfortunate that you had to take a sick day so early in your employment. That means that at one point, you had missed half of all the days you had worked there! Probably a lot of people set their view of you then. But it couldn’t be helped, and you can change those views little by little.

      And then also keep track of your sick days somewhere, so you can always quickly check the facts yourself. I just add them to my calendar.

    5. A Penguin!*

      I don’t think it’s excessive, but I have worked places who would think that. Those places found anything past 5 or 6 days per 12 months to be too much (which is pretty much impossible when considering your 5-day minimum for quarantine). Fact is, there are just some places that are sadly lacking in compassion for life happening, such as sickness.

    6. One HR Opinion*

      Perception is hard. For most people the reason this sticks in their heads is because it is unexpected. If you took 8 days of vacation in the last 10 months, people probably wouldn’t think much of it, but because your time off was unpredictable, it has a different impact.

      Also, even if unrelated, many of us know people who have been unreliable due to migraines. So if it does bother you, consider not mentioning that as frequently and if someone does ask you about being “sick all the time” I like the idea of confidently stating, “I’ve actually only called in twice recently and I’m sure you don’t want me bringing my germs in here to share them with you, right?”

    7. takeachip*

      You say you did your best to remember when you took time off, that you perhaps don’t always come to work with the best attitude, and that you’re generally not late. I have to assume this is the most generous description of the situation since it’s written from your point of view. And it doesn’t sound like a convincing case for someone’s reliability, it sounds very tentative and like there may be more to the story. Is its possible that you’re not remembering everything, that you’re unintentionally projecting an attitude of not wanting to be at work, and that you are not as punctual as you believe? I have no way of knowing what the truth is and I hope I don’t sound accusatory, because of course it’s always possible that you’re dealing with unreasonable expectations or misperceptions from an employer. But from my standpoint, I get some red flags from your post that make me wonder if you’re minimizing some things that are are giving your employer reason to doubt your reliability. At the very least, I’d recommend not mentioning the migraines or anything else where you’re not feeling well at work. When employees say stuff like that it’s natural for managers to wonder why it’s being mentioned and wonder what’s coming next. You may be making them nervous about showing up the next day and this is affecting their perception of you. Unfortunately some people will lay a trail of evidence before calling out on a day that they otherwise would have to work; I had a friend who would do this, drop hints about not feeling well in the days leading up to a day they were scheduled and wanted off, then boom, they’d call in with the perfect excuse (“you know I haven’t been feeling well . . .”). It sucks but in retail especially your managers are probably pretty jaded by past experiences like this.

      1. Luna*

        I’m pretty open here about how things look.
        When my coworker comes in for work, she has several times (sometimes days in a row or several days that week) told me, in an off-hand, small-talk kind of way, ‘I don’t wanna work today’. So, I consider that an okay thing to do. And I have, at times, told her the same thing in the same tone of voice. (‘Eh, kinda don’t wanna work today.’)

        And I can say, I am punctual. I arrive at work 10 minutes early, sometimes even 15 minutes early. (Especially when I open the store. But I make sure to not do work-related tasks until very close to opening time because, well, I don’t get paid for opening the store 10 minutes before business hour. So, I arrive 15 minutes early, take the time to eat and drink something, then have the cash register and doors open by 9:58AM when we open at 10AM) The times that I have been late, it was due to things out of my control, like picking something up from a nearby store took longer than it should have or the bus arriving earlier than it should have, so I had to wait for the next one. Those 7 minutes was the one time I was ‘really’ late.

        But I also want to say, I was told at the same time that my one-year contract will not be renewed. I am slightly disappointed, but I’ll just look for new work, preferably not in retail because the changing of working early and late shift are not really my cup of tea (I prefer routine and stability)

    8. Lite*

      Being out sick four times (one of those being a week) in the first 10-11 months of your job? Yes, I’d say that’s considered “often/a lot” if you’re in the US. I don’t agree with it, but that’s the unfortunate reality.

  43. Doctor is In*

    Happy to report I was able to hire a new person for my office, despite a very tight market (health care) using guidance I have learned at AAM. 1. Be transparent about pay in the ad. 2. Offer good benefits, health insurance, PTO. 3. Pay what the market demands, not what you paid 5 years ago!

    1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

      That’s amazing! I know it’s very hard to offer what employees deserve in medical practices, but it is so important. Way to be one of the good ones.

  44. Little Beans*

    Is anyone else noticing a change in people working from home due to weather? I live in California where we have been having some truly crazy weather. But it now seems like it’s ok for everyone to just say they are working from home anytime it rains?

    In the last few weeks, I’ve had multiple events or meetings cancelled or rescheduled because “no one wants to come in the rain”. I also had one day where I was already on my way in when I got a text from my boss saying everyone could work from home due to the weather. I’m all for working from home but the last minute changes are inconvenient…

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Well in the California case in the last month, it might actually be “I’m going to work from home because the rain has washed out my driveway/destroyed the only bridge for 20 miles”. I don’t think you should extrapolate from that.

      1. Little Beans*

        To be clear, those things are happening but that’s not what I’m asking about. I’m talking about someone who could come in but just doesn’t want to, because it is raining, or a high-level person determining that everyone could work from home even though no one had said they needed to.

        I mean, I am seeing a lot of support for this from other commenters, so I guess I’ll just join the tide and start staying home whenever the weather is bad…

    2. ferrina*

      Alton Brown’s Evil Twin has a really good point.
      It can also make a lot of sense not to drive in the rain- that can often cause a lot of traffic congestion, increasing commute time (not to mention stress).

      I’m also a little confused why rain is making you cancel events. Are these events that require people to be in-person? Almost all of my company’s events have switched to virtual and in-person options, so when people work remotely it has no impact on us. Do folks know that your events have components that require them to be in-person?

    3. Meep*

      As someone who gets Barometric Pressure Headaches (meaning I get headaches 24-48 hours before it rains), I actually think this is great! Mind you, they shouldn’t be canceling their meetings and should still be readily available, but that is a different issue tied to simply working from home.

      1. I have RBF*

        Yeah, a rapid drop in barometric pressure is a migraine trigger for me. Sometimes a rapid rise is too.

      2. Luna*

        As someone who gets similar headaches, and has been suffering for the past few weeks because March has been incapable of deciding “Will it be warm or cold, dry or wet, eh, let’s throw in a thunderstorm while I’m at it, okay?”, I can understand staying home and doing WFH due to health issues caused by the weather.
        If it’s ‘just’ the weather being rainy, I’d be a little less inclined to sympathize. But I’ve also not had jobs where WFH was an option, so that might be skewing my view.

    4. CatCat*

      The weather has been so erratic in California, I think it’s wise to exercise extra caution even if ultimately the rain turns out to not be a big deal. The ground where I’m at is so saturated that trees keep coming down roots and all, and water can pool in roads quickly because there’s nowhere for it to go. I’ve never seen a winter like this in my part of CA before. So I think being extra careful seems warranted even if occasionally a hassle to reschedule in-person things.

      1. I have RBF*

        Plus some of the wind before and during the rain is pretty dangerous. There have been accidents on Highway 17 and on the various bridges here in the SF Bay Area that have been directly due to the wind and rain.

        I am extremely glad I am 100% remote. Some folks around here drive like rain is just liquid sunshine, and can be very dangerous.

        1. 1LFTW*

          I agree. I’m a transplant to Northern California, originally from the upper Midwest. I grew up with potentially deadly weather all year ‘round. I got used to making fun of Californians complaining about the “weather”.

          Until this year. Every storm that comes through seems to rack up a body count. That’s not even getting to the more prosaic freeway closures (flooding; fallen trees), bridge closures (big rig blown over), transit interruptions (high winds making ferries too dangerous, or blowing trees onto BART tracks). When trees are falling onto people’s cars and killing them, I fully support everyone staying home if they possibly can.

      2. Hlao-roo*

        I second this. Not in California, but in an area of the country that gets snow. Since return-to-the-office post-COVID, I’ve been much more likely to work from home when it snows than I was pre-COVID. I know I can work from home (occasionally) and I’d rather be safe than sorry, especially if the forecast is something wide like 3 to 10 inches. Driving in 3 in? Fine. 10 in? Not so much, and I’d rather be safe than sorry. And on the snowy days I do decide to go into the office, the slow-down from the snow is almost cancelled out by the lack of traffic from other people who decided to work from home that day.

      3. Little Beans*

        I think this is just a different approach than pre-Covid, and apparently I haven’t adjusted. Pre-Covid, I never heard of anyone working from home because of weather. When it rained, you were just expected to start your commute earlier so you got in on time. (I work in a job that was fully in-person pre-Covid and working from home was almost unheard of — we’re now all hybrid).

    5. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      I have a long commute and it’s always at least 10-15 minutes longer in the rain because people don’t know how to drive. Unfortunately I live in the PNW so if I stayed home every time it rains I’d literally never leave, but I sure understand the impulse!

    6. Alex*

      I don’t live in California but did just start a job where there does seem to be a culture of “meh, it’s gross out, let’s work from home!” This really doesn’t cause problems or make people change plans because we do almost everything on Teams anyway.

      I will say that my commute increases by about 30-40 minutes when it rains. Why? Because on non-rain days, the high school kids walk to school. On rainy days, their parents drop them off via cars. And form a GIANT-GRIDLOCK-CAUSING line that I have almost no choice but to get stuck in, because other parts of my schedule aren’t flexible most days. 30-40 minutes isn’t the end of the world but it sure is a drag.

    7. Nesprin*

      In California? Staying home because it’s raining has been a thing Californians do since forever.

      But it’s gotten even more common since everyone has practice working from home, and there’s been widespread flooding and downed trees in large swathes of California this year.

  45. Zap R.*

    I took an admin role out of desperation in 2015 after a lengthy period of unemployment due to illness and now 8 years later I am trapped in an endless cycle of low-paying but labour-intensive Office Manager roles. Basically, I get a job, kick ass, get glowing performance reviews, ask for a small raise, get denied, and end up forced to move on when the cost of living goes up. I’m tired of being at the very bottom of the office hierarchy despite literally running the entire office. I’ve tried to leverage my transferable skills and freelance writing portfolio into jobs more aligned with what I went to school for (Broadcasting/Professional Writing) but I’m not having any luck. Have any other reluctant admins managed to break the cycle?

    TL;DR: I’m very good at an inherently thankless job that I hate

    1. ferrina*

      It sounds like you are ready to move out of the Office Manager role. My tips:

      -Say yes to projects that broaden your scope of work. Don’t argue for a new title (yet). Just get the experience and accomplishments to put on your resume. Spend about a year being the go-to person for everything. These should all be projects that drive you into a different role. So maybe a lot of things that support the sales team, or things that support the marketing team. Since you have a writing background, I’d try to build around that (can you volunteer to write articles for a newsletter? Proofread or copy edit? Write any kind of messaging for anything?)

      -Use those accomplishments next time you are applying. You’ll likely be looking at entry-level roles in the new field. Marketing or Communications might be good areas to look at.

      This is going to take 1-3 years. Hopefully in the meantime you’ll be at a good organization that treats you well and compensates you properly. Good luck!

    2. Tuesday*

      I transitioned from admin work to marketing writing by trying to take on more “website management” and social media-type work at my admin job when possible while building up a freelance writing portfolio. That might be an option for you since it sounds like you have some writing experience already – a smaller, local marketing agency likely won’t be as demanding about the type of writing in your background, and you can go somewhere else once you get your foot in the door! The pay was better, at least.

    3. Random Dice*

      Get a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. It’s one of the most respected certs across industries and countries, and basically signals that you get stuff done.

  46. BlueKat*

    Last month I commented on an open thread because my situation at work had become so unbearable that I was thinking about whether to quit my job without something lined up. I ended up doing that a few days later (yay!), and next week will be my last week on the job (yay!).

    I’ve had two job interviews which both seemed to go well, and I got an offer for the first one I interviewed for! We’ve agreed on a start date that will give me 3 weeks off in between jobs, which is just the amount of downtime I wanted. I was preparing myself for a potentially longer period of job-hunting and unemployment and uncertainty, so it’s such a relief to have something lined up before I’m done at my current job!

    It’s at an organisation I’m very excited about working at, and I’ve talked to people who say my soon-to-be colleagues are great to work with. It’s also a much bigger organisation and a faster-paced environment than I’ve previously worked in, with a higher workload and more frequent requirements to work on evenings/weekends (due to events). I knew this when I accepted the job and I’m ok with it (albeit a little apprehensive) – any advice on adjusting to that sort of environment?

    I also do a little bit of amateur music-making outside of my full-time work, and before all this I committed to doing a performance over 3 weekdays that fall around 2.5 months into my time at my new job. Now’s the time to bring up the fact that I’d like those 3 days off if it’s possible to make that work around whatever events are going on at work, right? I’m meeting HR next week to go over the contract, but the person who approves my time off is my supervisor, who I’m not in contact with directly (though we did meet at the interview). I guess that means should bring it up to the HR person first?

    1. ferrina*

      Yay! This is all super exciting! Congratulations!

      Yes, you need to tell your new job soon that you’ll need [DAYS] off. Be clear that you’re find if this is unpaid time off (since you may not have the leave accrued yet). Get it in writing from HR, and bring it up to your actual manager as soon as possible (hopefully HR will also tell them, but good to double up on that)

  47. Jesus loves the little children*

    I sing in a very small church choir at my own, small church, where the level of musicianship is nonetheless high–all of us have either years of experience or a music degree. Recently the priest’s five-year-old daughter has “joined the choir” and it’s driving me nuts. Because she’s five years old, she doesn’t read either music or words fluently, and so she just kind of warbles. We sound objectively worse and I find her distracting.

    I’m essentially second-in-command in the choir–I’m direct when the choir director is sick or out of town. I approached the choir director with a set of perhaps five reasonable rules with little pictures I thought a kid could understand and remember (e.g. “only sing when you’re sure of the words”–she can get “Lord have mercy,” “alleluia.”) I figured this was a good compromise for my sanity and so that the kid could actually learn something. And the choir director said no! “It’s too much like school, I don’t like it, all of these rules.”

    The choir director is old enough to be a grandmother but has no grandchildren, and it looks unlikely that she’ll ever have any. I really miss making beautiful music with adults without a kid’s droning getting in the way. =(

    1. Sloanicota*

      How strange. I’m in a church that sounds similar and you have to audition for the choir and clear a certain bar of musicality. I think I’d push for this child to lead the congregation in some simple hymns that are at her level and have the choir back her up, rather than have the child be part of the interludes etc. Or if there’s a “children’s choir” that would be better. Basically, maybe suggest something she *can* do.

      1. Jesus loves the little children*

        Unfortunately I think it’s too early for that in both cases–she’s definitely not old enough to lead or solo anything, and we don’t yet have enough school-aged children for a children’s choir (see my other comment). I happen to know that she got scared and ran offstage at her school’s nativity play. =(

      2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        > How strange.

        Turns out “nepotism hires” are a thing in church choir ‘recruitment’ as well…

    2. ferrina*

      Start a children’s choir! Give her a place where she can happily warble and celebrate her love of music with her peers and without strict rules, and you get your place where you can focus on 5-part harmony. That’s what my church did when I was a kid, and it was a relief to everyone.

      1. Jesus loves the little children*

        This idea will be genuinely great in 5-10 years. Unfortunately, there are definitely not enough school-aged children in our parish for that. There’s one other eight-year-old(?) kid who sometimes stands in the choir, and she behaves impeccably and sings so softly you basically can’t hear her. (She appears to be essentially tone deaf, but again, you can’t hear her, lol.) This church gets 100-110 people on a Sunday including adults and babies of every age. We’ve heavy on the babies, but fewer than ten kids between kindergarten and high school inclusive who regularly attend.

        1. ferrina*

          Hmm. This is definitely trickier. Are there other ways she can contribute? Play an instrument? Are there pieces where she can play a hand-bell on cue? Can you segment the choir so that half of the altos are featured on this song, and the other half on that song? Circulate through a solo roster?
          This is going to be a tough balance. Good luck!

    3. Sunshine*

      Agh. I would probably just not say anything and hope that someone in the congregation complains. A church choir is tough because it’s more about the worship than the musicality, but of course many people enjoy the music and expect it to be high quality!

      If there are other children in the congregation, maybe you can bring up the idea of starting a children’s choir?

      1. Jesus loves the little children*

        You’ve nailed the problem on the head.

        > Agh. I would probably just not say anything and hope that someone in the congregation complains.

        Unfortunately it seems unlikely when it’s the priest’s own kid!

    4. WellRed*

      How do other choir members feel? Maybe she’ll get bored and solve the problem that way.

      1. Jesus loves the little children*

        They also think she’s too young, but nobody has complained—in the past I’ve sort of been the babysitter, which I’m now no longer doing that the choir director and I disagree how to handle her. (This is a new development, she’s currently being passed between other choir members or the director depending on how demanding the service is on the director.)

    5. I'm A Little Teapot*

      She’s 5. This can work in your favor. Don’t be fun. Make it feel like work for her. Don’t be mean or anything, but do make it that she has to stand still, no wandering around, etc.

      1. WellRed*

        I actually wondered how this works in terms of, is her parent there or us the choir a babysitter?

        1. Jesus loves the little children*

          The choir is babysitter. I used to be the go-to person but told the director last week that if she wouldn’t support basic rules, I wasn’t willing to handle her anymore. Priest’s spouse is attending to 2 other kids under 4 in the congregation. The many fun pages to flip and “candy” (non-menthol cough drops) make the choir area a much more appealing place to be than the congregation.

      1. Glomarization, Esq.*

        I think that’s a great idea.

        I wonder if there’s a childcare issue, and that’s why the child is hanging around with the choir. If that’s the case, maybe the choir members can rustle up a teenager from the congregation to babysit during rehearsal.

        In any event, I think it’s likely that the child will get bored and not want to participate after a little while.

      2. linger*

        If the kid can’t yet read music or words fast enough to keep up, even page turning could be a struggle for at least the next few months.
        And, sorry to say, priest’s kid is probably not just going to get bored and go away, since (i) priest seems very happy to use the choir as free childcare, so is actively encouraging this, and (ii) OP is not being allowed to enforce any rules (possibly just so as to allow the childcare to continue).
        Kid might eventually rebel and go away, though not for a few years yet. Unless, you know, someone were to gently explore with her whether there might be something else she’d really prefer to be doing instead. But if she is genuinely enthusiastic about singing, you are stuck with her — though in that case, there’s at least the hope she’ll improve.

    6. Winter*

      I think you probably want to let this go. It’s the priest’s kid, and the fact that the choir director already declined to implement your suggested rules seems to indicate that she doesn’t have the same goals or vision for the choir that you do. I totally get how frustrating it is when other people don’t take your hobbies or interests as seriously as you do, but it’s really unlikely that you’re going to be able to bring the kind of structure you’re hoping for to this environment.

      I think the suggestion to wait for a congregant to complain is the best advice.

      1. Jesus loves the little children*

        Yeah. You’ve described my feelings well. But the choir director is going to be out of town for most of the summer, so it puts me in the awkward position of being in control for a temporary but fairly significant amount of time (~2 months).

    7. Hiring Mgr*

      It sounds like both the choir director and minister are both in favor of this, and the choir director has already shot down your rules, so I would probably let it drop.

    8. RagingADHD*

      So what I’m hearing is that the priest and the choir director are okay with it. That means it isn’t up to you.

      Your priorities (aesthetically pleasing music that you personally enjoy singing) are not the same as the leadership’s priorities (making space for this child or children in general to serve the church and participate in public worship).

      You need to think about your alignment here. This is not a decision that was given to you to make. It is not an accident or a mistake. It is a choice by the people who are in leadership. You don’t get to control those choices. You only get to control your own choices about whether you want to continue participating, and what your attitude about it is going to be.

      As a volunteer leader and a church choir member, I would point out that you are not in a concert choir. You are in a church. Aesthetics are not the primary mission of Sunday services. Neither is your personal enjoyment or artistic gratification.

      I strongly suggest that if you can’t participate in a cheerful spirit, you are not serving the purposes of worship. Perhaps you should seek out (or form) a concert choir that would be a better fit for your interests.

      1. Jesus loves the little children*

        The irony is that there was a college student that sometimes serves liturgically and would sometimes sing with us. He mostly just doubled the melody an octave down instead of actually singing bass, which I found inoffensive, but which bothered the priest so much that they asked him to not sing and to just serve. So it’s bothersome that the standards don’t apply to everybody.

        1. Jesus loves the little children*

          And also, I *am* in charge for a few months this summer while the director is out of town, which makes the situation even more awkward.

          1. Jessica*

            How would you feel about declining to take on the backup-leader role unless you can [expel the kid/impose some rules/whatever minimum demand about her participation you care to make]?

          2. Glomarization, Esq.*

            Gently, directing rehearsals while the director is gone doesn’t mean you’re in charge of the choir and the decisions affecting it overall.

            Also, seriously, there’s a big difference between handling an adult college student who won’t follow the part he should be following, and dealing with a 5-year-old. You say “it’s bothersome that the standards don’t apply to everybody” — I mean, if this is the argument you’ve taken to the director and your priest, then it shouldn’t perhaps be too surprising that your view about the child coming to rehearsals hasn’t been acted upon in the way that you want.

          3. Miss C.*

            Aha! Implement your rules when the choir director is out of town – hopefully they’ll be ingrained when the CD comes back.

        2. RagingADHD*

          Respectfully, you are still focusing on an entirely different mindset than your priest and choir director seem to be. The child participating in the choir isn’t about the way the music sounds at all. It’s not different standards. It’s entirely different goals.

          Unless you are also replacing the priest for the summer, I don’t think filling in for the choir director over the summer changes anything. You’re running rehearsals. You aren’t in charge of policy.

          If you have a big problem with policy and alignment, you should discuss it with the priest. And if you aren’t willing to do that, then you can figure out a way to embrace it or step away. I just don’t see any other constructive alternatives, because stewing about it is going to create a terrible atmosphere for everyone (including the child, who is not doing anything wrong by existing as a little kid and singing like a little kid).

          1. Dog Pee on Lawn?*

            There is another option, but it’s a bit nuclear, which is to pick a few of your favorite adult singers in the choir and start your own small ensemble (perhaps for a specific need in the service?). Now you have control over that group and who’s in or out, and you could pick really tricky music – like an “advanced choir.” But, it’s more work for you and it’s possible the choir director at least would be annoyed.

            1. Lily*

              This would make the OP look absolutely terrible to the priest, the choir director, and probably to the entire congregation. If I was one of the other adults in the choir (even one of the ones annoyed by the kid), and the OP asked me to do this, I would be appalled. Regardless of the “advanced choir” spin, it would look to everyone like a bunch of adults ostracizing a five year old.

            2. RagingADHD*

              Well, since the priest and choir director are in charge of picking music that coordinates with the theme of the service and planning for when the choir or special groups sing, there will still have to be a discussion about it. If OP decides to just invent a Cool Kids Only You Can’t Sit Here lunch table in the choir, without getting buy in from leadership, they have an excellent chance of getting replaced as assistant or asked to leave the choir altogether.

    9. Dark Macadamia*

      Can you do like, one song a week with her and then she rejoins the congregation for the rest? She could “lead” a specific song (especially one that happens every week so she can actually get decent at it instead of constantly needing to learn new songs) and then leave?

      It annoys me that it sounds like you’re really having to give up productive, enjoyable work to teach/babysit her. It would be a lot more acceptable if she was just an untalented teen and not an actual child who needs to be supervised and given attention beyond what a normal choir member would require.

    10. NeutralJanet*

      It’s a church choir. The point is to worship. Do you want younger generations to continue to join the church or do you want to drive people away?

      Also, how is the choir director’s age/family status relevant?

      1. Random Dice*

        Except she (I’m betting $100 it’s a she) is being asked to babysit a wandering unsupervised kindergartner during services, while doing a job. I think that’s more the issue.

        1. sascha*

          except she herself literally wrote what her issue was: “I really miss making beautiful music with adults without a kid’s droning getting in the way.”

    11. WorkingRachel*

      I agree with many other commenters that making good music is not usually the point of a church choir, though it’s nice when it happens…the point is more community, or involvement, or worship.

      But I still find this super weird! Small kids don’t belong in adult choirs! They are a different size, they have different voices, they have different attention spans. And the priest, whose job is to serve the congregation, not foist their child off on unwitting babysitters, should be able to understand that and back off if it is pointed out to them. (I’m going to assume this is an Episcopal church where priests are very much employees of the congregation, rather than, say, an Evangelical church that was started by this person and their spouse and in which they take a more authoritarian role.) It’s weird that they suggested it in the first place and it’s weird that the choir director is fine with it.

      But yeah, the choir director is the main one who can push back on it. Ultimately if they’re dedicated to the kid being part of things after you’ve brought it up, you’re probably stuck with it. Let’s hope it’s a temporary child care emergency and that either the need will pass or the child will tire of it.

      1. linger*

        Normally a church would have a youth group to which she could be directed. It sounds like there aren’t enough children (of comparable age, or at all) in the congregation for that to be feasible. Once priest’s kid starts school and makes friends of her own age, the problem may be solved … or possibly compounded.

  48. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

    I’ve been learning basic principles of accounting and bookkeeping online, with the goal of becoming a bookkeeper in the next year or two. I would like to get a part time job as a bookkeeper in an office eventually, but I’m hesitant to move into that and leave my current job without any experience. I am very close to two bookkeepers, who have agreed to let me shadow them to see what they do, but they both use proprietary software which isn’t applicable in other places (though still valuable to see).

    Bookkeepers on YouTube recommend getting QuickBooks experience by cold-calling/emailing small businesses in your area and offering your freelance services, or volunteer services in the case of micro non-profits. I understand cold-calling to be not that great an idea in job searching, but is it different for freelance and volunteering? I can see how it might be more like marketing than like trying to subvert a hiring process, but I’m not sure. Especially since I have no experience, so it feels more like asking for an internship.

    For now I’m going to look on freelancing sites and tap my network, but would cold-calling be an okay thing to do?

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Re the software – honestly, knowing the accounting side and having a general “this is how software works” is often enough to help you muddle through. There’s always going to be something out there about how the software works.

      As for the rest, I’m an auditor so don’t know how a bookkeeper would break in. But there absolutely is need for semi-decent bookkeepers. If you’re interested, the small/local government entities often have a hard time finding people. Money may not be great, but often you get into the pension.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        Yep, this. I had to do this at my last job (although I am not a professional accountant or bookkeeper; far from it in fact) and when we transitioned from software package to another, it was mainly a matter of getting used to the button you needed to click being in a different place.

        Accounting and bookkeeping work according to GAAP, so there isn’t a lot of wiggle room on how things get documented, even in different software packages.

        There are some open-source accounting packages out there. You might want to try them out to get some experience with software.

      2. callmeheavenly*

        one of my direct reports continues to be in the top five most obnoxious people I have met in my life and I am grinding my teeth into nubs today in particular so throwing this vent out into the universe as I pray that she applies for and accepts a better job elsewhere as clearly the smartest person on the planet who is best world class champion at everything she has ever set her hand to should have NO PROBLEM DOING. thank you.

        1. callmeheavenly*

          so that was a nesting fail…BUT there is for sure one small local government who would love to hire for a new bookkeeper, so Teapot’s advice is spot on.

      3. I have RBF*

        A friend of mine who had some minor but old bookkeeping experience started building her bookkeeping clientele by first volunteering at a non-profit. After a couple successful years and experience with Quickbooks she hung out her shingle and started getting work doing bookkeeping for small businesses. Everyone I know that works with her is happy with her work.

    2. Oysters and Gender Freedoms*

      I would be very suspicious of anyone who called and wanted to manage my bookkeeping.

      1. Angstrom*

        “Hi, I’m a complete stranger. I’d like to come look at all your financial records.”
        It’s hard to imagine a business owner responding well to that.

    3. Picard*

      We’re hiring right now for an AP clerk and its very much an entry level position. As long as you understand the principals of bookkeeping and understand logically what a bill is and why we should enter into our system, match it with our POs and pay it, youre good. Our system is custom/proprietary so no one is going to have experience in it anyway.

      All that said to explain, I care less about specific software then I do the accounting and book keeping side of things. Help me see that you know/understand how that works – I can train you on the software. I dont want to also have to explain basic book keeping too.

      1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

        Sorry, I didn’t express myself well. This is very heartening, though!

        Honestly, I’ve picked up a lot of the mechanics of QuickBooks from the PLETHORA of videos on it, also they have a “trial account” you can noodle with.

        Moreso, I would like to put my hands on an actual functional account where I can actually check up on the entries in it. I tend to feel blind on a system until I gain a more holistic understanding of it, which I get through going through a whole process and seeing a successful result. For instance, I can’t reconcile the trial account QuickBooks provides, and at this point I have no idea if that’s because it’s a trial account and impossible to work out without more information, or if I just, personally, don’t understand what I’m doing when presented with a complex system.

        Maybe I will be able to gain this level of understanding from the second person I’m going to shadow, who is better at explaining things and can give me a whole day. At this point, I feel too big a gulf between the general academic-level things I’ve learned about accounting, and the “reality” I see in guide videos of modern software, or even the actual reality YouTubers can’t show (because they would need to be showing someone’s actual financials).

        More than learning how to actually do bookkeeping tasks (I’m confident I could do most of them in a vacuum, with a few tries to get familiar with any software), I want to learn if I’m able to manage the whole process without undue amounts of stress, before I switch jobs and can’t backtrack.

  49. Expert Paper Pusher*

    Is it rude to drink coffee/water/soda on Zoom calls?

    I spend a large chunk of my day in back-to-back-to-back Zoom calls with various people also spend most of their days on Zoom. I used to work on a small team who frequently ate while working, so when we transitioned to remote work, it was still normal for us to be eating breakfast while we chatted. I don’t eat on Zoom with anyone else, but now that the rest of that small team is gone, I’ve noticed I never seen anyone else take a sip from a water bottle of coffee mug while cameras are on. I don’t want to just try to take one hurried sip while Zoom loads between meetings or be dehydrated from not drinking all day! Am I making an oblivious etiquette breach?

    1. Zap R.*

      Absolutely not! Maybe mute your mic so people don’t hear your slurping sounds but there is nothing wrong with sipping on something during a Zoom meeting. I bet your coworkers aren’t doing it because they have the same fear that you do. Once you start doing it, they probably will too.

      1. Zap R.*

        This is also a possibility. I find I can’t look anywhere except whatever part of my face I hate most that day.

        1. Meep*

          I totally get that feeling. This is why I would remember next time you feel guilty about drinking that your coworkers feel the same about themselves and are probably focused on how flat and greasy they look on Zoom too. (Everyone does)

        2. Ankle Grooni*

          I recently discovered how to hide self-view on Zoom and it changed my life! Now I don’t have my image to stare at and fret about.

    2. Temperance*

      Eating on a Zoom unless muted is generally considered bad form, but quietly drinking is fine. I always have a coffee or water with me.

    3. ferrina*

      You’re fine. I subsist on a constant intake of tea- I always have a cup that appears on screen (along with my cat, who insists on coming to all my meetings). No one has noticed, and it certainly hasn’t impacted my working relationships.

    4. Super Duper Anon*

      I drink on teams calls all the time. I always mute my mike anyway unless I am speaking so nobody can hear. I tend not to eat when on camera as I don’t like how it looks, but a quick sip of a drink is fine.

    5. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Not at all. If you were in person, you’d carry a coffee mug into the conference room, right?

    6. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I have the same experience! I often drink coffee/water on calls, yet it’s extremely rare to see anyone else do it. (I’ve been watching for a year and am confident it’s not a matter of simply not noticing.) It believe it’s fine and normal — it has to be, it’s water!! — but I have been self conscious since noticing I’m the only one plus realizing it’s a stim for me.

      1. CheeryO*

        I have noticed the same thing and got self conscious about it! I think a lot of people just don’t drink enough water, honestly. I’ll see coffee mugs in the morning, but it’s rare to see people sipping on water throughout the day.

    7. ThatGirl*

      I carry my tumbler around with me everywhere, at the office and at home – I do not see any problem here. I think eating is fine too as long as you’re muted so nobody can hear chomping sounds.

    8. I have RBF*

      I always have a mug of something on Zoom calls. In many places that do cameras on I have seen people use water bottles, coffee mugs and whatnot during meetings. The custom is to mute yourself while drinking (and eating), but otherwise it’s expected that you will need to wet your whistle while in a Zoom meeting, same as if you were in person.

    9. Anon for This*

      I use a thermal cup and metal straw for my coffee or other drinks – it’s very easy to discretely sip using a straw. And unless urgent (e.g., drop in blood sugar) avoid eating while on camera. I have seen too many people chew with their mouths open with the camera focused on their face!

  50. Question for other Grant Writers*

    Do you end up … writing other people’s work loads and outcomes for them a lot? I’m with a small org and people are obviously all busy. Grantwriting is the major thing I do. I understand that time on grant applications can seem “wasted” when we often don’t get the grant (personally I disagree that it’s wasted time, as we need to be a LOT more strategic in our thinking and planning anyway – but, I understand from their perspective). I totally understand that most people don’t live and breathe grants, and that things like inputs/outputs/outcomes are confusing and tediuous. Our current process is that I copy the programmatic parts of the text, and the budget, into shared documents and then I create a first draft and ask them to add more detail and specificity. Meanwhile, I work behind the scenes to do all the database stuff (uploading documentation about the org, contact info, boilerplate stuff) without bothering them with that. We do a lot of different types of work (policy to scientific research) so I’m never the expert in all the things, but I find it’s easier to elicit reactions if they’re reacting to something – if I asked them to do the budget themselves, it’d be like pulling teeth. But, I’m really making this stuff up from scratch, and I’m not the expert. In many cases I’m literally asking them to write in and add a paragraph about their own research, and then help me think through what the outputs and budget would be. It seems like this isn’t resonanting for them. I’ll see a few wordsmithing edits and a comment added like “maybe we can think about XYZ” but no real change to the text and I don’t know anything about XYZ, so I can’t write that in, *they* need to do that – and how can they not have any thoughts about the number of meetings they’re going to hold, or the training they plan to deliver, or anything like that. I worry I may have accidentally disempowered them and made them feel like this is “my thing” versus their thing. Help?

    1. Lily Rowan*

      I have been in that position, and it is tough. I found different tactics worked with different people — some were hypnotized by my writing, apparently, and like you say, wouldn’t make many changes, and for those people, I would need to interview them before sharing a draft. Even a half-hour could get me enough to get something reasonable together.

      But sometimes you do have do all the project planning and hope for the best, if people want to get paid.

      1. Sloanicota*

        “Do have do all the project planning and hope for the best” – this is what I do, but it does suck when you actually *get* the grant and then the project people are like “??? this isn’t really in line with what we do, or we don’t have capacity or partnerships for that,” or whatever. Also, as the grant writer trying to put together a competitive proposal, I’m tempted to push the envelope on deliverables and “wow” the reviewers with all the amazing stuff we’re going to accomplish, and the real program people need to be providing ground-truthing of that! Otherwise I’m literally writing other people’s job descriptions for the next six months to a year.

    2. Greengirl*

      I would recommend setting up meetings with them and talking through the project verbally with them and then writing a draft. That allows you to put something on their calendar where they have to answer your questions.

    3. Ranon*

      I don’t know if it helps you to name it but the stuff you are asking them to do is project management- scope, schedule, budget- and obviously it is ultimately their project, not yours, so they should be providing it. Unfortunately it sounds like these folks don’t know how to do that work so they are pretty at sea doing it.

      And of course speaking as a project manager in a totally different field the dirty not even a secret is that we are, indeed, quite often making it up!

      1. Sloanicota*

        What stinks in my case is, if we actually got the grant, I would be doing basically none of the work, and they would be doing 99% of it. So they really should care a lot!

    4. Snarky McSnarkerson*

      you could pull from the evaluation criteria in the grant announcement. it may give you more info on what they want the grant to accomplish.

  51. alex (they/them)*

    I work at a recently-established lab in a new and rapidly growing + changing industry. This morning we were told that one of our coworkers had been let go because she had been there 90 days and it “wasn’t a good fit”. I wasn’t very surprised, given that she was basically always in a bad mood and often in conflict with the lab manager. We have all been reassured that our jobs are not in danger. However this has made everyone pretty nervous, myself included. There isn’t always clear guidance on what we should be working on and whether we are meeting expectations. It’s possible this coworker had received lots of feedback but I don’t have any way of knowing. The work environment is also very casual, to the point where I worry about boundaries.

    How do you deal with being in a workplace that has somewhat vague boundaries and expectations? I imagine a lot of this is due to the nature of start-ups, but idk.

    1. Decidedly Me*

      Talk to your manager to ask about these things. When we let someone go, I always invite people to talk to me if they have questions. Regardless of what is actually asked, the underlying question is always along the lines of “could this happen to me and how would I know?”. These things do not happen out of the blue and while we do have documented processes, it’s still normal for folks to be nervous when they see someone let go. People will typically not see the feedback given, but at a good company, some that is let go did receive a lot of it before management reached that decision. Even if a peer doesn’t see it, they usually are aware of a struggling team member, as you were.

      1. irene adler*

        Yeah- talk with your manager.

        This may also prompt some thought towards policymaking for how to terminate an employee. That way, the process is clear to all. This happened at the start-up I worked at because they needed to terminate someone and realized “we have no process for doing that-now what?”.

        It might also get managers to make it a point to ease employees fears if there is a termination-or other upsetting events- in the future.

  52. Frustrated Techie*

    Is anyone else finding that all job postings are by 3rd party recruiters and tell you nothing about the company? I have no idea how to tailor my cover letter / resume, or if this is even a company that I want to interview / work at. Worse, I can’t tell where the company is! So many postings have a “fake” location and then turn out to be remote or in another state, but are trying to get around the search filters. So I don’t even know if it is a real posting!

    I’ve tried going to those recruiters sites. The jobs I’m interested in that are supposedly in-person in my city are nowhere to be found. I thought maybe I could just work with their recruiters directly but can’t find any contact info. I know companies have laid off their internal recruiters but I’m honestly not finding anything useful with these 3rd party recruitment firms and they are actively making it harder to match up candidates with jobs.

    It doesn’t help that I’m in software so there’s already about a dozen different job titles that I have search through because there isn’t a standard. Or that tech skills/languages are increasingly using common words so generic searchboxes are already a pain.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Third-party recruiters often (maybe always?) hold back the company name, because if you apply directly to the company the recruiter no longer “owns” your candidacy and will not be paid. You can still tailor your cover letter/resume based on the job description. It’s frustrating that they remove or change the location details, though.

      1. Frustrated Techie*

        How do you tailor the cover letter when the job description tells you nothing about the job, product, industry, or any other useful details? Most of these have a generic sentence that translates to “this is a company that exists” followed by a list of generic technical skills. It’s like the recruitment companies are posting their internal template and didn’t finish filling out, but they are all like this.

        If I choose the wrong part of my history to highlight, then I’ll disqualify myself. Corporate vs small company environment, agile vs waterfall, process driven vs reactive, breadth vs depth. Some teams love the “wears the many hats” vibe while others go “eek, this dev will get bored and leave or won’t stay in their lane” when the reality is I’m happy at both ends of the spectrum on so many many things. I’ve gotten rejected in the past when people made assumptions or focused on the part of the resume that wasn’t relevant, so this is a real concern for me given there are very few in-person job available in my area and that’s my main requirement.

        1. Hlao-roo*

          It’s definitely a lot more difficult to go only on the job description vs when you know the company! I’m not in software so I can’t give you specific advice, but maybe create a well-rounded “base” resume that has both agile and waterfall experience, different languages, etc. (whatever makes sense for your field). Then if any of the job descriptions have helpful hints, like “must have X level knowledge in Python,” you can highlight what you’ve written in Python and take a few C++ lines off your resume. And if the job description is totally generic, send off the well-rounded resume and hope for the best?

          It is incredibly frustrating that companies and recruiters are not writing helpful job descriptions :(

    2. Parenthesis Guy*

      You’re in tech? I’d just stop bothering with the cover letters. As for your resume, as long as you have something reasonably coherent, you should be fine. Seriously, I’ve been reading so many seven page resumes that discuss everything that I’d more impressed with someone that can be brief.

      You may need to start looking at companies directly for jobs. Won’t work for the small people, but will for the big companies.

  53. Dark Macadamia*

    What “side effects” of your job unintentionally carry over to your personal life? I teach middle school so any time I see a group of unsupervised teens I have the urge to go make sure they aren’t up to anything. When I worked at a summer camp I caught myself doing mental headcounts of any group I happened to be with – my parents and sister, my friends, etc.

    1. Decidedly Me*

      I work in an industry that has certain regulations. When I see the tech being used out and about in the world, I’m always checking if people have given the proper disclosures.

    2. handfulofbees*

      Former mailman here:

      I notice mailboxes, and I mentally critique how good or awful they are. How is it possible to have this many opinions on mailboxes?

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        I walk a lot and I also notice mailboxes. Once you start to look at them up close, it’s hard not to have an opinion on them, I thik.

    3. FashionablyEvil*

      I work in a healthcare related field and my sister once said to me, “Do you know how often you speak in SBAR format?” Uh, no I did not.

      (SBAR=situation, background, assessment, recommendation. It’s used widely to improve healthcare communication and patient safety.)

    4. Cyndi*

      I used to have a lot of opinions on decorative images on checks, because I see hundreds every day, but I’ve escalated to thinking they should be banned entirely. When they’re deposited they’re scanned into flat black and white, and a lot of those cute images translate badly and interfere with OCR. I think this makes me the check grinch?

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        I agree. I know some people (hi mom!) who love picking out designs, but honestly, why should I pay more for decorative checks when all I’m doing is paying the sewer bill?

        FWIW, I haven’t used checks in years because of the security risks inherent to checks, but apparently every person in front of me in line at the grocery store still pays by check.

        1. I have RBF*

          I used to get fancy checks, but I realized I would rather have cheap, duplicating checks that won’t be outdated or have a problem with scanning.

      2. Dark Macadamia*

        As a kid I always loved flipping through check catalogs looking for the Looney Tunes and animal ones. As an adult I’m still using the National Parks ones I got about 3 or 4 addresses and 6+ years ago

    5. Might Be Spam*

      I compulsively provide tech support in my friend groups. I think most of them would take “no” for an answer, but I find myself knee deep before remembering that I was going to say no.
      I did successfully wean my extended family off my providing tech support. Also, I’m getting better at telling people to take classes.

    6. Don't Call Me Shirley*

      I have worked in a variety of engineering roles in different transportation industries, all safety implicated.

      I’m think of all the worst case scenarios and what the consequences are after writing a lot of safety cases and especially after doing a rotation in safety engineering years ago. It makes the safety forms for taking my daughter’s guides places easy – I wrote up how we manage the potential of cold injuries kind of like a fault tree.

    7. CheeryO*

      I’m in the wastewater field, so I get very excited when I see a treatment facility in a Google Maps image when I’m looking for something else, or if I see one from the road when I’m traveling. The best was running past the Disney World treatment plant at mile 15 of the Disney Marathon. Every plant is a little bit different, so it’s fun to see new ones. I have also come to dread rain since it means basement backups and sewer overflows.

      1. I have RBF*

        My dad designed sewage treatment plants for a living. My first tour of one was before I was 12. So yeah, I notice them on the map – digesters are somewhat distinctive.

      2. Greasy monkey*

        In a related field, lift station maintenance. Before working on them, I never noticed how many there are in the area. Now I see them everywhere.

    8. North Wind*

      I work in analytics and data visualization.

      Some years ago, I fell in love with the British game/panel show “Would I Lie To You”, and was going through and watching all the back seasons. My very *very* strong initial urge was to create a spreadsheet for the players of each episode of each season, and tally how many stories they guessed wrong vs right (along with other details like who was telling the story, etc). (There are two players who are on every episode, and the other 4 players are guests). I wanted to know if they got better at sussing out truth vs lies as time went on (there are like 14 seasons now with the same two players). Plus, it would be fun to have and visualize that data – which return guests are the best liars (Bob Mortimer :)), etc.

      I never did follow through. The more I watched the more squishy the results seemed (feels like a LOT is cut or re-worked in the edit).

      BUT, someone else had the same idea for Taskmaster (another British game show) who actually followed through – guy named Jack Bernhardt who keeps a very detailed spreadsheet of all kinds of stats for all players/tasks of all seasons. Really interesting (I mean, for me and other fans anyway haha) listening to him.

    9. Mimmy*

      I teach keyboarding. Whenever I see footage of someone typing, I always find myself checking to see if they’re using proper techniques.

    10. fhqwhgads*

      I’m hyperaware that every other establishment I go to is conspicuously not PCI compliant.

    11. allathian*

      I’m a translator in a market where dubbing basically doesn’t exist except in shows for preschoolers. Everyone else is assumed to be able to read the subtitles if they don’t understand the original language. If I watch a show in a language that I can understand, I’ll often put on subtitles just to see how bad the translations are. Sometimes they’re great, but some errors twist the message too much. With subtitles you can’t really translate word for word because the text wouldn’t fit, but sometimes they abbreviate in the wrong place and the end result is a translation that’s at best distorted, at worst says the opposite of what the original intends.

      That said, I don’t blame my colleagues too much, as long as the material looks like it was translated by a human. They often have to work very fast and the pay isn’t very good, so most stuff just gets done quickly with little or no time for error checking.

  54. River*

    I am questioning the common sense competence of some of the staff in my company. We recently had a pizza party and in the email that was sent to everyone, we strongly hinted that staff should take 1-2 slices. We said “please come and enjoy your 1-2 slices for your hard work!” I was seeing people leave the building with plates that had 3-4 slices. I guess those were the people that worked “extra hard” and felt they deserved more. Fortunately whoever ordered the pizza was smart and ordered a few more pizzas, and I imagine for this reason. In one instance, I saw someone who is very anti-social and very quiet take an alternative route out of the building with their 4 slices and run like if they were trying to hide it. It really bugged me especially when I saw that.

    Also I found out our shredder was full all week. No one spoke up until the end of the week to say something. Staff also have a tendency to be lazy and not speak up or clean up after themself. Someone also left a stack of their papers in the staff break area as well and they have been sitting there all week. I finally decided to go through them and made the call to shred them. The papers weren’t that important if they forgot them. That was when I found the shredder had been full all-week. No one attempted to empty it or let someone else know to empty it. When I asked someone their response was “Oh it’s been like that all week.” In my mind I am thinking, well if you knew it was like that why didn’t you say anything? People don’t speak up until it’s too late or when something really becomes an issue.

    So again, I question the common sense competency of some of the employees that work here.

    1. Unkempt Flatware*

      I get it. It does sound frustrating. However, 1-2 slices is chincy as all get out. You may not have the power to change that but this is not how you show people they matter. Three more pizzas could not have broken the bank and if it did, there should not have been a pizza party. As for the other issues, it honestly seems like there are not systems in place for continuous improvement or the like. Does everyone know who they are supposed to tell? Do they know where to dispose of the shreddings properly (there’s a whole legal system for this in my job)? People get lazy when there are not incentives to not be lazy. I’m a conscientious employee who can still get demoralized enough to stop caring. But the pizza thing….there’s a solution there that doesn’t involve limiting their access to the Prize they were offered.

    2. BellyButton*

      1-2 slices? Come on, if this is a pizza party order enough so people can have a few slices or add in some breadsticks and salad.

    3. KayKay*

      Gonna be honest, the pizza thing got to me. “pizza parties” in general are not a good way to show your employees you appreciate them. And then on top of that to say they don’t “deserve” more than 1-2 slices? It’s honestly a slap in the face. If your employee is hungry and wants to eat 4 slices of pizza, let them. Just order more pizza!

      1. Unkempt Flatware*

        Yeah the message that they only worked hard enough for 2 slices at most is really upsetting. I can see why someone would sneak more. Don’t know why being anti-social was important to mention.

        1. anonymously browsing*

          honestly I would be taking my 4 slices and running too bc this seems so unhinged

    4. WellRed*

      People can be really lazy about things like shredders: I know it was always a bummer for me when I got the full shredder!

    5. Not A Manager*

      I’m… concerned about shredding someone else’s papers. It reminds me of the recent story where a manager ripped up an unframed permit because it looked sloppy, but it turned out to be urgently needed.

    6. anonymously browsing*

      It is absolutely insane to me that you have the time and energy to gatekeep pizza slices taken from a pizza party.

      1. takeachip*

        If I got an invitation to come and enjoy specifically 1-2 slices, I’d make a point of taking at least 3 just because I’m an asshole when someone tries to needlessly control me, especially through hints. Hints! If the pizza is so darn precious and if management is so concerned about how much each person gets, they should have the guts to come out and say, “Limit 2 slices per person.” Just own it. Otherwise, don’t be surprised when people fail to pick up on little hints, either genuinely or passive aggressively.

      2. Random Dice*

        Amen. We’ve found That Person. Every office has one.

        River, you don’t want to be That Person.

        It’s not even your pizza. Why do you care how much grown adults eat? Do you know better than them how much food their bodies need? Are you the Pizza Police for your office?

        Why do you care about the shredder? I mean, REALLY, why do you care?

        I’m guessing you like to feel better than other people, but honestly, being so judgmental about stupid things like this actually makes you worse.

    7. ThatGirl*

      Any time I’ve had pizza provided at work there’s enough for everyone to have plenty, with leftovers, usually plus salad. I agree that trying to limit people to 2 slices sounds very cheap.

    8. Cyndi*

      People have talked here before about employees bogarting entire pizzas and it sounds like you’re seeing this on par with that. But (never having had to handle this myself) I thought the rule of thumb was 2-3 slices per employee, plus some wiggle room? And I think it’s totally understandable, if you’re stingy about it, for employees to err a slice or two in the other direction.

      Like everyone else here my advice starts with buying more pizza to begin with–although you said you weren’t the one responsible for ordering, and I’m not totally clear whether the other staff you’re having issues with are your teammates or direct reports. Either way, if you urgently need to strictly regulate everyone’s pizza consumption, you can always do what an old supervisor of mine did: stand behind the table portioning it out to everyone yourself.

      I don’t think that will solve the problem, though, because I suspect the problem is you’ve hit BEC status with many or all of your coworkers.

    9. HBJ*

      At a pizza party, I would expect to eat enough to be a full meal. 1-2 slices would not be enough for many people.

    10. I have RBF*

      One or two slices? That’s enough for an appetizer, or you are ordering for too many diet people.

      Seriously, two slices of pizza is only enough if you have sides like salad and breadsticks/garlic bread. Otherwise it’s just chintzy and clueless. A single slice of pizza is anywhere from 200 to 300 calories. At most, two slices might be 600 calories, but is actually more like 500 calories or less. For most people, lunch is their biggest meal, so 700 calories, more or less, would be the expectation on a 2000 cal/day diet. I would be very disappointed if I skipped breakfast to have a pizza lunch and it was only 450 calories worth of skinny cheese pizza.

    11. Cordelia*

      I’m hoping you made some attempt to track down the owner of the papers before you shredded them?!

    12. Anon for This*

      I agree with others that the pizza thing is stingy. If these are standard sized pizzas, even in middle school we planned for more than 2 slices per kid.

      With regard to the papers and the shredder, my officemates also seem to believe there are fairies who will empty the shredder, fill the coffee pot, throw away yesterday’s newspapers, etc. I have seen plenty of the “Your mom doesn’t work here – clean up after yourself” posters and notes put up in the kitchen areas, bathrooms, etc. (OK sexist but they make the point.) and of course the people who are the problem always assume they are aimed at someone else. Sigh.

    13. RussianInTexas*

      “You only worked hard enough for 2 slices. Who do you think you are getting 3 slices, a CEO?”

    14. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      I gotta say, when I read that you’d shredded someone’s stack of papers because they didn’t look important to YOU, I automatically bluted out “Oh Jesus Christ NO!” Not sure about your odd work place, but many places, people work on multiple projects simultaneously, and they could very well forget where they leave something while they resume working on another project. I’d be livid. Who knows, maybe the person had swooned from hunger after only getting their meager ration of pizza, which made them forget where they parked the papers.

      1. Happily Retired*

        “Who knows, maybe the person had swooned from hunger after only getting their meager ration of pizza, which made them forget where they parked the papers.”

        This is awesome.

  55. A garden full of workers*

    Union shop. A job was posted. Zinnia applied as she had been in the role, backfilling, for over two years already (that’s a whole other story), therefore qualified for the job.

    Daisy also applied for the job. She had more seniority, was deemed qualified, and was awarded the job.

    Daisy applied while on sick leave. This is her right, based on our union contract, that you can apply and win jobs while on leave. Most staff do a progressive return of eight weeks when returning from leave. Zinnia continues to backfill while waiting for Daisy to start her progressive return.

    Knowing that Daisy is expected to start (one day…) Zinnia applied to another job and won it. Yay for Zinnia! But Zinnia won’t be released from the job that Daisy won because (a) they love Zinnia in that role and (b) Daisy still is on her sick leave.

    So my department, where Zinnia won the job, we’re now stuck backfilling temporarily waiting for Zinnia to be released, because Zinnia is waiting for Daisy.

    Daisy won the job in November and has not yet returned to work from her sick leave. She keeps postponing the start of her eight-week progressive return. While no one should be forced to return to work if they are not ready or not well enough, Daisy’s repeated postponements is causing problems with staffing and work planning since I cannot yet train Zinnia in her new job; and she would actually rather stay where she is but lost out due to seniority.

    What could/should HR do? It’s been five months since Daisy won the role with no start date for the progressive return. I would like to avoid causing stress for a person on leave and I would hate to be all like, “We’re taking this job from you” and would also like to avoid calls of discrimination and grievances; but a lack of a return date is impacting a lot of people and creating serious frustrations.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Honestly, if I were you, I’d bring in an attorney to identify what your options are vis-a-vis the union contract. That’s the necessary first step.

    2. Colette*

      I think you (as an organization) hire a replacement for Daisy (the job Zinnia is in) and let Zinnia start her new job.

      And if I were Zinnia, I’d be reminding my manager that I can find an external job and provide only 2 weeks notice, and ask for a firm start date in my new role.

    3. WellRed*

      It seems like there should be a time limit to how long a job has to be held for someone.

  56. At this point I should get a wig*

    Normally I encourage all feedback, but one of my leads has sooo many unhelpful suggestions that are just unsubstantiated opinions. For example, he’ll come in when designs have been finalized for months and say “this should be blue because people like blue” when we’ve interviewed 50 people who have all clearly stated they prefer red tones.

    It’s both frustrating because I have to take time in my day to answer this, and my designer is so demoralized by his behavior. We’ve had convos on this since he’s joined too- soft convos “‘I don’t think this is your intention, but..”, to hard convos “these comments are inappropriate”.

    It’s come to a head where both I and my designer said no to his “suggestions” and he circumvented both of us to talk to a different team to try and force those changes. Luckily they shut him down, but I’m pulling my hair out at this point. I’ve kind of washed my hands at this point by talking to management, but I’m curious: I’m a femme-presenting young person, and my designer is a woman. Is this a sexism thing? If so, should I change how I’m dealing with this? He’s never been outwardly prejudiced to me, although he doesn’t use my pronouns I’ve heard.

    1. FashionablyEvil*

      I couldn’t say conclusively, but it’s definitely a thing where men respect a woman’s or female-presenting person’s authority or expertise less.

      The going around you thing is the most egregious bit, IMO. I’m glad you’ve looped in management!

    2. Oysters and Gender Freedoms*

      Have you ever spoken to him directly? As in, you need to trust my designer’s expertise, it is not okay for you to try to go around us to change decisions we’ve made. It sounds like you’ve been fairly soft and polite and you need to be more direct.

      1. Op*

        Yup, I have been explicitly clear about this, which is when he went around me lol.

        My new approach is to shut him down with “Unless you have a data or engineering backed reason as to why we need to consider design changes, I’m not open to discussing this further.”

    3. Fushi*

      Ime it’s likely sexism is a factor, though occasionally you get dudes who are so convinced that they are God’s gift to earth that they will entirely disrespect management of all genders. I don’t think it really changes what you need to do though. If this guy doesn’t do his job properly (which includes behaving respectfully in the workplace, and also presumably not ruining products with bad judgement…) and wasting valuable work time, you just need to keep making that the problem of whoever has the authority to fire him.

  57. Promotion Woes*

    I have a team member that has applied to two different supervisory promotions within my division – one within her own team and the same role on another team I oversee. She has already interviewed for the less complex of the two (same job title, but the focuses of each team are different) and while it wasn’t a bad interview, she’s missing some key things to be successful in the role. I think she could potentially be good in time, but not now. She has not been officially rejected for that role yet and has now applied for the promotion in her current team, too. She’s actually less suited for this role than the other.

    I’m worried about a morale issue when Sarah doesn’t get either promotion – especially since one will likely be filled by a few external candidates (there are multiple openings) and the other by someone with less tenure. I will of course be giving detailed feedback on the decisions and offers to help her be a better candidate the next time a role opens, but anything else I can do?

    1. BellyButton*

      Are there development programs or learning available at your company? Working with L&D, HR, or POPs to get her specific development will help her know that she isn’t ready yet, but you see the potential and want to help her get there.

    2. Qwerty*

      When will she receive the official rejection from the first role? Is it possible for her to get the rejection for that before her interview for the second role? It’ll be easier on her if she has that info – either she’ll work to showcase those items when pursuing the other promotion or she’ll be able to manage her expectations.

      My other recommendation would be to coach her rather than offer generic help. Help her come up with a plan so there is a path to promotion. (maybe schedule the “create a plan” meeting for a few days after the rejection so there is time to process). Pull her into meetings that will give her visibility or exposure to things she needs to say, give her opportunities to lead on the team, talk through some of your decisions with her after the fact and explain your thought process. Essentially – actively support her on developing the key areas that are missing and have her *feel* supported (sometimes the latter is more important than the former)

  58. a raging ball of distinction*

    I’m mid-career and thinking about my next steps. I’m looking for podcast recommendations about work/career/etc.

  59. Juniper*

    Yesterday, I was considered applying for a job that stated that “interested applicants are invited to send a cover letter and resume along with salary expectations to careers at organization dot com”. They do not list salary on the job ad. I decided to postpone applying because this open post is today and I wanted to get feedback on how to handle this. It seems like would be a good job, but there’s others out there that I’ve applied to (and others on my list of “to apply to”) that are more in line with my career goals. Ordinarily I’d pass, but I’ve been struggling to find a job so I’m broadening in my horizon a bit; this is important context, not an invitation to say I shouldn’t apply. In fact, this weird “tell us your salary” comment has only spurred my desire to apply, despite my ambivalence to the job. Again, it would be a great job at an intriguing organization but they’re wildly missing the mark here and I want to use it as an opportunity to be like “hey I’m interested but woah!” I’d like to use it as an opportunity to address the salary issue on my email when I sent my cover letter and resume. I was thinking something like “I just wanted to give feedback on you’re request for salary…” and fill in information about how it’s becoming standard practice to list salary because it helps with gender and racial pay disparities, increases transparency, etc. and that putting the onus on applicants to, effectively, guess at what the organization might offer might lead to pay disparities because of similar reasons. For context, this role has wildly varied salaries based on experience level, industry etc and the titles are weird (eg a coordinator could be relatively entry level or mid level, and you’ll get paid different there + if it’s consulting vs nonprofit, you get it…). I would like to do this in a way that (hopefully) doesn’t burn a bridge but, honestly, I almost don’t care if this single organization in my fairly major city writes me off if it means I plant a seed for possible change and/or just generally push back on a problematic practice that could help others. Even if they inexplicably try to shit talk me to others, anyone who thinks them shit talking a random applicant is something that reflects badly on me, not the org, probably isn’t my jam. So all in all, I feel well positioned to be able to speak up. I just don’t know how to say it in a way that’s not “angry bitch” territory. Not that I mind of I come off that way but I also still maybe want the job. So any scripts would help. Also should I locate some research to attach to this?

    1. BellyButton*

      Yeah, don’t do that. It won’t accomplish anything and paints you in a very bad light. They may very well be asking because the company or hiring manager don’t now what the salary range should be and they want to get an idea what people are expecting. It isn’t the right way to et the information, but I have seen it done before.

    2. One HR Opinion*

      Although things may be trending towards publishing salary ranges, it is still incredibly common not to. Forgive my baseball analogy, but generally companies are looking to see if expectations match up. If you are looking for Yankee pay and they are hoping to pay like the Mets they don’t want to waste your time or theirs.

      If you are willing to possibly throw away the opportunity but want to make a point, I’d suggest something like, “I’m looking for a salary in line with the midpoint of the local market,” or some other such compensation jargon.

    3. anywhere but here*

      I think you can include in the application something reasonable cheerful and straightforward:
      “Here’s my application. In my experience, companies that are transparent about pay are more desirable to good candidates because of [equity reasons (plus in some states is legally required)]. Because I greatly value [employees being paid equitably etc.], and don’t want to contribute to pay disparities based solely on negotiation, I will not be sharing my salary expectations. I would be perfectly happy to confirm if the salary your organization is interested in offering is acceptable to me.”
      Also, how strange is it that a woman speaking up for herself & others is considered “angry b*” territory! I doubt that’s something men ever consider.
      P.S. No woman is a b.

    4. RagingADHD*

      Asking for salary requirements is not good practice for all the reasons you list, but it is so very, very, very, very common still in so many places that I honestly don’t think it’s worth getting mad about. If you want to bring it up without coming across as angry, I’d advise you to take the mindset that they probably have literally never heard of the arguments against it, because a ton of people really have not.

      There are many organizations who do not engage in wider discussions of hiring practices at all, particularly if they aren’t having trouble getting applicants. They just make their widgets or push their papers, and that’s what they’re focused on.

      On the flip side, I don’t think you have to worry about burning a bridge or anyone shit talking you. I think they aren’t going to read the letter or care. I think the most likely outcome is that they’re going to skim it, see that there aren’t any numbers, and then delete it because it doesn’t contain the information they asked for.

      The next most likely outcome is that the lowly HR generalist who opens your email will read it and agree with you, and be ignored by the hiring manager or higher-ups who set policy.

      But if you aren’t actually that invested in getting the job, it doesn’t hurt to say something. You don’t have anything to lose, and there’s always a chance someone might see it and think about it later.

    5. beanie gee*

      It’s unfortunate, but this is still really really common – for companies to ask people for their salary expectations rather than post their ranges. You’ll look really out of touch if you respond as if it’s shocking they are asking you for this.

      I think you could apply and say you’d be happy to talk salary during a phone screen where you can ask them more questions about the role. And then during the phone screen, you ask first – ask what their salary range is for the job, and if they can’t tell you, then consider pushing back for the reasons you noted.

      I guess it comes down to how much you want the job?

  60. handfulofbees*

    Is it normal to feel weird when you learn a coworker is getting fired?

    I feel weird, I feel weirdly guilty, I feel awkward. I liked this person enough, but yeah I understand why it was done (they cannot take any kind of feedback without getting super argumentive and defensive). I see a bit of my younger self in them. I just – it’s weird!

    1. WellRed*

      It’s normal. It feels weird because it’s generally an awful thing for the fired person to experience so we feel for them. Plus, maybe a bit of survivor guilt depending on the circumstances.

      1. handfulofbees*

        This is actually super reassuring sometimes I struggle with whether an emotional reaction is normal or way overblown. Cheers!

  61. Heffalump*

    For the last 20-odd years I’ve worked for companies that make industrial machinery. Naturally my employers have bought in all sorts of components from outside vendors. Although I’m not in the purchasing department, I’ve sometimes been tasked with sourcing components.

    One day several years ago I was looking up possible sources for an item we wanted, and I found what seemed like a likely company. I called them, gave my name and the name of my employer, and said we might be interested in buying their product. The woman on the other end said, “Who told you to call us?” I told her that I had found their company via a search engine, but I was really taken aback and puzzled by her response. Any insights on why she’d react this way?

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      History between her company and yours (that you weren’t aware of) resulting in some falling-out in the past would be my guess.

    2. Turingtested*

      years ago I called a steel mill’s main line from their website. Double checked the number was correct. The person on the other end screamed “Why did you call here? Never call here again!” before I could even identify myself.

      Sometimes there are just really weird interactions. Disgruntled worker, think you’re someone else, who knows.

      1. Heffalump*

        It would be interesting to know whether they had caller ID. What you describe is so weird that I wouldn’t bet the ranch that they did.

  62. LCH*

    Weird interview question I got recently: How do you handle uncertainty?

    I asked for an example of what they mean. It was related to their recent restructuring and continuing updates to procedures and policies. So there might not be definite policies on how to do things.

    So I used the example of how the future of my employment was uncertain during the pandemic due to loss of revenues and I handled it but just keeping on working and waiting to see what happened. Was this what they were looking for?

    1. EMP*

      to be honest – probably not. I’d expect they were looking for something related to work more specifically, like a time when you had to come up with project requirements by yourself or deal with a customer who didn’t know what they wanted until you offered them options.

    2. Decidedly Me*

      Not likely, no. It’s more about how do you work when you don’t have strict guidelines on what to do? Are you ok operating in that in that environment or do you thrive better when there are instructions for every task? What would you do when faced with a task/project that didn’t have specific instructions?

      1. LCH*

        Oh, that’s good to know. I just hadn’t gotten this question before (been looking for a year, this was like my 20th interview so it felt unusual). But I totally could have answered that.

          1. linger*

            Note you also gave them one more data point in your response.
            You were uncertain about the meaning of their question.
            You handled it by asking for clarification.
            Sometimes this is an entirely reasonable way of dealing with uncertainty.

    3. Rainy*

      I think I might have chosen an example of when I was caught in the middle of a project when something major happened to shift the circumstances and I had to continue the project with an uncertain foundation.

      An example from my own experience: the time I had to figure out how to shift a major federal grant program and all its support staff and funded employees to a whole new division of our organization when no grant had ever been moved like that, let alone one that big, when a big concern was a lack of interruption in paying the people employed by that grant, the move had to comply with federal and institutional regulations, and I had to have everything ready for a move date that hadn’t been decided yet and could have been as soon as six weeks or as far out as 12 months. I probably wouldn’t mention the stress nightmares, though ;)

    4. Qwerty*

      Based on their example, they were asking how you handle being given a task without being told how to do it or there being a clear policy on what the “right” answer.

      Therefore no, not what they were looking for but it is off topic enough that my conclusion as an interviewer would have been that you didn’t get what we were asking and/or you are very literal. Or maybe you hadn’t run into that type of situation before. Wouldn’t be a big deal to me – if the role had a lot uncertainty or this was a question I needed an answer to I would have prodded you in the right direction or asked something more specific later. It isn’t uncommon with behavioral interviews for one question to be a misfire so the important topics I try to cover from different angles.

      So overall I’d say this one question wouldn’t have been enough to move the needle from a yes to a no. But it is one that I hear a lot or they might ask it a different way in a future round, so might be good to have an answer prepared if it comes up again.

      1. LCH*

        Thank you for this. I’ll come up with answers where I had to develop procedures or something.

    5. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I don’t consider that a ‘weird’ question and have both asked and answered variations of it numerous times (handling ambiguity, situations where there isn’t a clear best way forward, situations where the outcome isn’t known, new things where there is no precedent, etc).

      If I asked you this and received your answer it wouldn’t be exactly the type of answer I was looking for but also I could see why you mentioned this. Better (if you wanted to use this situation) would be e.g. we lost a lot of revenue due to the pandemic and as a result the company had to ‘pivot’ to a new (product, way of operating, customer segment, etc) which we hadn’t handled before and didn’t have set procedures for (e.g.) doing transactions over the phone instead of face to face.

      “I handled it by waiting to see what happened” may or may not be a ‘correct’ answer to a question about reacting to situations (inaction is also its own action!) depending on the environment.

  63. Orange Crushed*

    Sorry if duplicate posting- mybinternet connection is wonky.
    I work in a laid back office environment. My manager thinks it’s funny to give me either missing or wrong information. For example, he told me to enter an order but erased the quantity. He then called another manager, told her, and they were laughing about it. He then texted me, asking if I entered the order. I asked him to verify the quantity, but he ignored me. I told big boss, but she dismissed it.
    He’s done it before and I tell big boss, but nothing is done. I don’t mind joking but am concerned because it’s affecting my work and that makes me nervous. Am I overreacting? What should I do?

    1. Glazed Donut*

      That sounds pretty immature. Does he do this often? Do other people think it’s cute/entertaining/funny? Red flag for me.
      Perhaps someone else in the office has experienced something similar and can share with you how they approached the task.

    2. RagingADHD*

      I mean, if you want to take away his power to needle you, then you’d respond by saying “Oh ha, ha, Dwight, very funny,” in the flattest possible tone of voice.

      Or you could look for a new job, because this guy sounds like a pain in the butt and the big boss apparently doesn’t think it’s a big deal.

    3. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      In my workplace this would be bullying (very clearly matches the policy definition) and you could take it to HR as a misconduct matter.

    4. Snarky McSnarkerson*

      You’ve got to give it back to them! Even the flat tone, ha ha is better than taking it to the big boss. when the call and ask if you entered the order, tell them of course, just like you asked, 18,000 units, right? Or make up some other wild answer. Flat tone may be used, but if you’re upbeat about it, it will work better.

    5. linger*

      “The quantity given for the order was zero.
      I placed that order accordingly.
      I am not sure how I’ll be able to tell when the order arrives.”

  64. newish manager*

    Hoping to catch stragglers and people who comment over the weekend with a later post. I came into management without having any “good bosses” and often find it hard to picture what a normal version of certain things looks like. Now it’s performance review time and I am finding it difficult to know how to have these conversations with my staff. I feel okay about giving feedback in general and in the moment, and I have thoughts about how my reports do their work but I’m at a loss over how to structure an annual review conversation. How long should it take? How much do I talk and how much is listening? I have given myself some time to prepare but the mechanics of that are all question marks. Any help is welcome.

    1. Rainy*

      Does your org have any resources that might help you, maybe in HR or in whoever’s responsible for onboarding and training? There are also LinkedIn Learning courses in management skills that include some courses for conducting annual performance reviews, if your org or your local library subscribes to LinkedIn Learning–that might give you some places to start?

      In my office managers often give us a set of questions to respond to before our review so that we’re both coming to the conversation with some preparation and have some topics to focus on.

        1. Rainy*

          The questions usually involve accomplishments and challenges (helps our supervisor write up our wins for our performance rating), where we feel we’ve met our goals, exceeded our goals, not met our goals, that sort of thing, if that helps.

          My supervisor also asks about her own performance: where she’s doing well, where I’d like her to adapt her management etc, for her own professional development. I send my responses over a few days before our annual review conversation, and she sends her draft of my performance review so I can look at it. The discussion usually takes an hour or so. Our performance management system requires that we sign off on regular performance discussions (semi-annual, I think? anyway, we do those as well as the annual review).

    2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      My one specific suggestion is provide the review document in advance. It really really helps me to see it all there and process any emotions ahead of time. That also allows the time together to be less reading through bullets and more conversation about what to do next.

      My last few were an hour. There was probably 15 minutes of my boss walking through key points of the actual review and the rest of the time was an open conversation about how things are going for me, development goals, if I’m getting what i need, etc.

      Length probably depends on how much new info there is. If you have been doing a good job of ongoing input and your people value “straight to the point” meetings then you might need less time. My group intentionally has longer conversations because connecting / chatting fits with our culture.

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      > How long should it take? How much do I talk and how much is listening?

      This really depends on the person and the interpersonal dynamics (and doesn’t need to be ‘standardised’ between different direct reports if they truly need a different style). I have had these conversations (as the report and as the manager) take anything from 20 minutes up to an hour and a half.

      As the manager I allocate a generous amount of time and state that we may or may not use all of it depending on what we end up talking about. You will probably find that you get something ‘surprising’ dropped on you (you know how there aren’t meant to be any surprises in the performance review with something the report doesn’t already know? it doesn’t apply in reverse unfortunately!)

      How much talk vs listening – I have found about half and half on average.

  65. Awkward.*

    I’ve had problems my whole working life with noise sensitivity due to ADHD, but I’ve spent many years figuring out how to manage this myself without making it other people’s problem. In previous offices there’s always been a chattier side and a quieter side, so I could get a little space from the noise, but in my current job the “chatty side” is everyone in the entire office…except for me. My coworkers are great people but they talk and laugh loudly all day, often shouting across multiple rows of cubicles to carry on conversation. I’m aware I’m the outlier here and it would be a jerk move to ask the whole rest of the office to be quieter, so I keep my head down (with headphones blaring five tabs of white noise at 100% volume) and try to at least exchange pleasantries and be friendly–I worry that my teammates think I don’t like them because I’m so much less social than everyone else.

    I’ve finally given in and put in an ADA request to move to a desk a little bit away from my teammates, in an unoccupied bank of cubicles next to our current area. This will be a big relief for me in terms of comfort and ability to focus, but I’m more worried than ever that it will look like something personal against my teammates–how can I navigate this, or am I worrying over nothing?

    1. EMP*

      Assuming the request is granted I would let your teammates know in a very cheery/positive way when you’re moving your stuff. “You may have noticed I have a really hard time focusing without a quiet environment so I’m moving over a few cubes!” And put in a little extra effort around the transition time to make small talk/say hi over the coffee or lunch if that’s something your team does. Basically signal that it’s NOT because of them, it’s a you thing, and you’re just managing this one aspect of your job.

      1. Cyndi*

        I actually got moved today shortly after posting that! But this was really helpful advice, thanks.

  66. EmailSnail*

    Looking for a nice but firm email response to send –
    About 8 months ago, I left one position for a higher position within the company. Same company, different offices/managers/etc. I trained my replacement for about 4 weeks before I left, and made sure to leave him very good notes for what he would be taking on. Everything was tied up nicely with excellent documentation.
    The role I left was fairly visible– lots of “If you have questions, email Name HERE” type of thing on websites, sent to different cities, etc. It’s becoming VERY clear to me that my replacement re-published my old forms without changing contact information. This is true for external trainings, online resources, etc.–even video recordings/trainings that he didn’t re-record himself (still my face on them, just the year changed for the “click here” title). For a while he said that there was red tape preventing him from making any changes (“we’ve been told we can’t change the site/form/video”), but that period has passed, and I’m still getting about 3 emails a week re: my old role.
    I copy him on every email, and tell the external person “Hi, I am no longer in that role, but Jonathan can help.” I finally copied Jonathan’s boss (my old boss) to say “hi– can you please fix this so I stop getting these emails?” and the reply back from Jonathan was essentially “shrug! technology! red tape! sorry!”
    I don’t want to leave anyone hanging–especially people external to our company who email me–but it’s irritating to still get emails. Is there a better way to reply the next time this happens? I’m not sure how much Old Boss knows it’s happening, and it wouldn’t be the first time Jonathan merely changed the date on a file without actually editing and re-publishing.

    1. EMP*

      ooh that sounds annoying. I would email Old Boss directly (not just cc) and lay it out again. If you’re really not responsible for this content anymore and it wouldn’t really impact your own standing at work, I would close with something like “I have been responding to inquiries with Jonathan’s contact but in the future I will forward these directly to Jonathan so he can field the inquiry and update the outdated forms.” Then just forward these messages to Jonathan with Old Boss cc’d, without any other effort at all on your part (again, if you think that will fly).
      If that feels too much like dropping the ball to you, then I would keep doing what you’re doing but just cc Old Boss on a lot more of these emails. Basically try to make it someone else’s problem too.

    2. Ginger Baker*

      This is so tedious. If you use Outlook for emails, I would set up a QuickStep (so it replies + ccs Jonathan + Jonathan Boss on every email with the same template response – basically an autoreply that I would save as a signature except the QS adds in the same cced recipients every time). It won’t solve the issue but will make it slightly easier. I would also consider whether there’s any way to create a rule to filter these emails to a single folder (and then review is X number of times per week only, where that number is like 1-2, and reply to all at the same time). For an Outlook rule, since it likely would need to catch multiple topics, I would try something like “All emails where body text contains “llamas” or “camelid grooming” or “alpaca dying” go to UGH JONATHAN folder”.

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

      If you have the capital to spend and your boss is on board, send one last warning to Jonathan that you will stop acting as a go-between about forwarding the emails etc. and simple reply only to the external clients that you are no longer the correct contact and send them to the company operator* for help. Jonathan isn’t fixing it because it isn’t a problem for him. When it becomes a (public) problem, he’ll find a solution.

      * By operator I mean any company person or department that normally directs external calls…or you can start directing them all straight to Jonathan’s boss, or hell…the mail room. Anything that makes it obvious to someone else that Jonathan should fix this issue ASAP.

    4. HigherEdAdminista*

      Since you have asked him multiple times and he won’t do anything about it, I think you are justified in approaching your former boss. It can be something like:

      “I noticed I was still getting a lot of correspondence about Former Job. I asked Jonathan about it, and he said it should be straightened out soon, but the contacts never stopped. I looked at the public materials to see if I was accidentally still listed, and it looks like the exact same files with my contact information is there –only the date has changed. I asked Jonathan about this and he sort of brushed me off, so I wanted to bring it to your attention, to be sure everything is okay.”

      1. Buni*

        This, but I would add:

        ‘As of -date- I will no longer be able to reply or forward these emails, so in order that contacts are not lost please do action this asap’

        Tbh I wouldn’t even necessarily include the second half of that; give them a reasonable cut-off date and then just stop. You warned them, it’s on them.

    5. Little Beans*

      I would stop copying Jonathan, and just use a template “Sorry, I’m no longer in that role. Please contact XXX”. Then the people will be annoyed that they have to re-send their email and they may complain about outdated info, putting more pressure on Jonathan and Old Boss to actually fix it.

    6. Unkempt Flatware*

      “Jonathan, that is not what ‘red-tape’ means and I have to assume you knew that. Red-tape isn’t a catch all term for when someone is avoiding doing the work. Fix this today and report back when it is done.” If he gets to act like he’s in a position to tell you what’s what, you can give it right on back. What’s good for the goose and all that.

    7. linger*

      The better solution long-term would be to have a public-facing email address linked to the role, not to the current incumbent. So, yes, it definitely needs to be changed from your email ASAP. But it probably should go to a newly-created corporate account, not to Jonathan’s own address, because realistically, with that level of performance, how much longer is he going to last in the position?

  67. Ideaswelcomed*

    I’d really welcome some suggestions and input, please – on options for how to transition between types of work. I have a salaried government dept job that I have done for years, and recently started a coaching business that I love doing. At the same time, I reduced my hours to part time in my ‘main’ job to spend about a day a week doing coaching.
    I would like to move to doing coaching full time, the work is growing and I am getting known – but at the moment it’s not financially viable until I get more work.
    My main job involves working with lovely people but the work itself is demanding and stressful. This affects my health – and that’s not going to change. It does however have a solid salary and benefits. There is a 12 week notice period that’s not negotiable.
    The issue – I don’t think I can stay in this role for the time that it will take for my coaching business to grow enough that I can do it full time.
    So far I have come up with the following options – do any others occur to you?
    1) stay in main role until my business builds up (issue – that may be a long time)
    2) look for consultancy work like my main role to supplement my business
    3) look for other part time work to supplement my business (issue – am concerned about expending energy on applying for jobs when I want to focus on my business, plus that employers will be put off by the long notice period)
    4) stick out at main job for as long as I can, then use some of my savings for the first few months (noting that I will have much more time to canvass for clients compared to now)
    5) Reduce my hours even further to reduce the stress (issue – I would make a case but realise unlikely to be agreed based on precedent/org rules)
    Any other options? All ideas welcomed and I hope I set this out clearly. Thank you

    1. DottedZebra*

      It sounds like you need to leave your current job no matter what happens with your coaching, right?

      It’s unlikely your coaching business is going to be enough for you financially in the next 12 weeks, based on what you said. So you need to start looking for a new job. I would also use the time to build up a robust savings. Cut your expenses to the bone. This will keep you from being trapped in your next job like you are now.

    2. Anon for This*

      To me the big question would be whether you get health insurance through your job, and whether you would lose it if you leave the main role. Because that is not easily replaced by consulting.

  68. Detective Rosa Diaz*

    How can I find clarity about whether it is the right call to leave my (extremely interesting) job for something that is also challenging and has significantly better pay & benefits?

    BG: I am a single foster parent to a toddler. I have been in my job (healthcare adjacent) for 4+ years. I also teach higher ed parttime. Last year I was out on burnout for several months. Really been working on boundaries, self care, and working out what I want my life to look like. I restarted parttime last fall and it is going well. I absolutely love my coworkers and the work we do is very very challenging (big plus!), highly meaningful to me, and I have built up some serious expertise in our very specific niche.
    But our pay is not great and we have the bare minimum in terms of benefits (for Europe, sorry US’ians). Combined with my childcare role, if I work as much as I realistically can, I can pay my bills but not save or have any margins. My pension will not suffice. If I were to need medical leave again (breaking a leg, complications from my chronic condition) then based on this lower pay I would not be able to pay some bills during that time.

    There are some higher ed teaching roles opening up. The pay rate would mean I get to save a fair amount, can afford some babysitting, and can take twice as much PTO to spend with my young foster child. The role would undoubtedly also be challenging.

    But. I really saw myself here long term (I now have the experience, knowledge, and network to start publishing, influencing research in the field, helping my org to set some long term and political goals,…) and frankly I have never had better colleagues. But it is very much nonprofit with many of the typical downsides and pittfals (Altruism trap! Endless giving! Why would you even want more time off?? what do you mean you work for money) and that is never going to change.


    1. EMP*

      It sounds like you have bought into the trap that you talk about here – why would you need more money when you’re doing good? But you *DO* need more money, and it’s not like going into higher ed and teaching is “going to the dark side” – there are also a lot of benefits to society in the work you’ll do there. I bet you could even stay connected with some of your non profit contacts (as a volunteer this time!) in things like research and publishing, depending on the field.

    2. Alex*

      I think the answer to questions like this is “apply and see how you feel.” You never know how you are going to feel about a job before you go and interview for it. If you apply, get interviewed, and get offered the job, check in with your gut. Are you excited for the new step? Do you like these people? You can turn down jobs that you are offered. Applying does not mean commitment, but there’s no sense making a decision when you don’t have the relevant information.

    3. Quandong*

      What would you say to a friend who came to you with the same question?

      Would you recommend that a friend stay working at their job even though their expenses were higher, they’d been through a period of burnout, and they needed more security for the future than in the past? Or would you suggest they find a job with better pay and benefits?

      You don’t need to stay with your existing job even though you had envisaged being there for a long time. You deserve better pay and benefits and to have a financial buffer for you and your foster child.

  69. Startup Searcher*

    How does one find early stage startups to apply at? Are there specific sites they use? Do incubators or startup studios serve as their pipeline? (if so, how do you tell what’s a simple investment firm vs startup studio – the one backing my current startup has zero info on the website)

    I was actively recruited into my current role as a Founding Engineer by the founders using some site to pull candidate contact info. My previous startup of ~50ppl the internal recruiter found me via LinkedIn. All the other people in my network who have worked in startups sized 1-100ppl were actively recruited through various channels. All I’ve found through networking is that my many startup friends have no clue and would love to jump ship to a smaller startup too as theirs have all grown quite large.

    My startup is closing up (startup studio drama led to founders quitting) but I’d love to try again as a founding engineer, preferably in my city. I’m finding that once a local “startup” gets visibility it has ~5k employees and has possibly had an IPO, so….definitions of a startup seem to vary greatly.

    (sorry if this is a double post, the page errored out when I tried to post earlier)

    1. Hiring Mgr*

      Go to Wellfound dot com. It was formerly known as angel list. There are tons of startup roles listed – I found my previous job there

    2. EMP*

      Some recruiters work specifically with start ups but I don’t know how you find those ones, they’ve just found me. You could also sort companies on something like glassdoor by # of employees, but really small ones may not even show up.

    3. Everybody needs an edirot*

      Y Combinator has a startup job board– Probably the best way is through your network, though.

    4. The Prettiest Curse*

      Search for startup incubators and accelerators in your area. If there are any which host the kind of business that you want to target, follow them on LinkedIn. Follow company founders and CEOs too, as a lot of them will post job ads there as their companies start to grow. Maybe even try reaching out to CEOs or founders of any companies you’d find interesting.

      Also, follow venture capital firms and partners who fund the kind of startups you’d like to work for, as they will sometimes post info about local networking events for startups. Finally, local business organisations that support startups often host events on how startups can attract talent – attend some of those to find out which startups are hiring and where they might advertise their jobs.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I forgot to mention – some incubators and accelerators will post job ads for the companies they host on their websites.

  70. kittybutton*

    I am wondering if the writer of this post is out there in AAM-land?

    I have a friend who is looking for freelance opportunities and in hearing her talk about what she was looking to do, your post came to my mind because I think she might really enjoy the work you do (understanding the challenges you wrote in about!). Would you be open to sharing how you find work and any suggestions for her to enter the space? She no doubt has the experience but doesn’t really know how to connect with clients.

  71. NewishEmployee*

    I’ve been in my new job for 6 months and I’m not sure if I’m a good fit in this role or the company’s culture… but I’m not sure how much this is fueled by my depression. Everyone is nice at my job, but I just feel like something isn’t clicking… but I’m not sure what it is.

    Has anyone had similar experience?

    1. fantomina*

      yes, and for me it was depression. I left thinking it was the job, and I actually really miss it. But regardless, therapy and treatment seem like they should be priorities– my therapist really helped me sort out which elements of the job I was really struggling with.

    2. Colette*

      Are you actually bad at the job, or do you just not feel like you click with your coworkers?

      I think it’s OK to stay in a job where you just work, and have superficial interactions with your coworkers. And if you are doing OK at the work itself, it’s probably better for you to stay.

      I once had a job where one (maybe two) of my coworkers decided they didn’t like me, pretty much instantly. One was rude to my face, the other was nice to my face but complained about me behind my back. And I pretty much decided that was their problem, and tried to ignore it. And it was fine; I was there for 5 years, in the end.

    3. ferrina*

      How is your performance? The good news is that if you’re getting strong feedback on your performance, you’ve got time to figure this out.

      I’d start by taking a quick look at the depression symptoms. Would this be consistent with your depression symptoms? Is your depression otherwise well managed? If you don’t think it’s depression, treat it like it’s not depression. It could still be depression, but it could also be you telling yourself that this isn’t the right place. Think about your exit plan. Does it need to be immediate, or do you want to wait until you’ve been there longer before you start searching? How does this intersect with other things in your life (for example, is there something coming up in a year that you need to focus on, so don’t want to job search until that’s over?) The cool thing is that you are completely in control of this- you can search whenever is right for you, and you can pause whenever you want. I would try to wait until around the year mark before looking- long enough that I have some accomplishments from this role (but if you feel you need to leave earlier, go for it). Be picky when you search- listen to your gut, and if something doesn’t feel right for any reason, walk away. Maybe sometime in the future you’ll look back and realize why you felt like this, but for now I think you should trust yourself.

    4. Anon for This*

      Depression colors everything. Are you getting treatment for it? If not, I’d recommend you talk to your doctor first. When you are in a depression it is really challenging to determine the source of a problem you are confronting – it may well be your job, but it’s hard to say for sure.

  72. fantomina*

    I’m on the strugglebus and could use the hive mind for a reality check. In essence, I’m in a job where the work never, ever stops or really slows down for more than a day or two, and I have never taken a single day off without having to work twice as hard to catch up. I’m to the point where I’m having a convo with my boss at my next 1:1 about how I can’t get everything put on my plate done and some things are going to have to be dropped until we get support staff. But can you really say the usual AMA script of “here’s what I can get done in 40 hours a week. What would you prefer I prioritize?” when you’re both exempt and in a leadership position? Should it be 45? 50?

    For exempt employees, there are supposed to be weeks when it’s fewer than 40 hours and weeks when it’s more. When there’s enough work for every week to be 55-60 hours and 90% of it is urgent or time sensitive, and could harm other members of the org if undone or done late, how do you know when to put in the extra hours and when to draw a boundary?

    To be clear, I can’t delegate much else because 1) my direct reports would have to take up the slack, and I don’t feel right asking someone who makes $10k less than me to work outside of scheduled hours except when strictly necessary and 2) a lot of things have to be my call because they need director sign-off and I’m the only one with all of the necessary context and subject matter knowledge.


    1. DottedZebra*

      You probably need to find a new job and quit this one.

      But step 1 is indeed the AMA script. Just because you’re exempt it doesn’t mean you owe the job your life or your health. It’s not reasonable to work every weekend. It’s not reasonable to work late every day. It’s not reasonable to work 12 days more than once in a blue moon.

      Is there a plan for them to get help? Nobody should be the sole repository of knowledge and skill for what sounds like urgent and important work. If your boss isn’t willing to create a plan to get you help, then your job search needs to start.

    2. ferrina*

      Since you’re in a leadership position, the strategy is different but the problem is the same.

      This isn’t sustainable.

      As a leader, your job is to figure out what is a sustainable long-term solution (spoiler alert: burning yourself out isn’t a long-term solution). This may include reprioritizing, adding a role to your team, dropping an initiative, putting something on the backburner….You need to advise your company on long-term strategies for solving this, not just asking your boss for solutions. Look at multiple options and advise on the pros/cons of each. The perks of being the leader is that you can decide and guide the team on where they need to go.

      1. ferrina*

        Note that once you have a strategy, you will likely have a 3-5 month push to get the new solution in place. But any longer than 5 months is too long. Really invest in buy-in as well; if your team understands and is behind you, they’ll be more willing to work more hours during the push time. Transparency is often essential for this.

        1. fantomina*

          Thank you! I should have clarified– my long-term strategy is more staff. I feel 95% confident that my boss will be on board based on prior discussions. My quandary is that it will likely take 6-7 months, based on past experience, to get a new position approved, a job ad out, hire someone, etc before their actual first day. The last new position was proposed in July and the new person will be onboarded mid-April, apparently.

          So I’m trying to figure out how not to burn out in the interim, but not sure how to identify a reasonable boundary. If not 40 hours a week, how many? If not working every weekend, would 1 weekend a month be appropriate? If not working late every night, what about 2 nights a week?

          I’m neurodivergent and second guess whether I’m doing enough (yes, I’m in therapy working on that), so though I’m perfectly fine navigating ambiguity in the rest of my job, having hard numbers as a guideline would be really helpful at overcoming the brain gremlins.

    3. Policy Wonk*

      I wouldn’t use the 40 hours a week line – as you note, in your position more than 40 is likely the norm. But I would adapt the line to say “I don’t have enough hours in a week to do all of this, what would you prefer I prioritize?” And if they push back on how of course you can get it done, say “not well, I can’t.” (Where I work we usually use the line “if you want it bad, that’s how you’ll get it – bad.”)

      1. fantomina*

        Thanks for that phrasing– it’s going in my AMA toolkit :)

        I guess a big part of my question, though, is if not 40 hours per week, how many? I know 60 is too many (at least for me), but how far over 40 is it actually reasonable to do on a weekly basis? (I know that number will vary for different people, but I’m just trying to get a general, average frame of reference to aim for, because my brain is going to tell me I’m slacking no matter how much I work, and I can’t reliably tell when it’s lying to me.

        1. Loredena*

          45 is sustainable in my experience. 50 is a fast track to burn out. A few long days a week or a weekend here and there is manageable. Both consistently is not. I had about 5 months of nights and weekends last year before finally successfully conveying that something had to change and I was very close to asking to be reassigned.

          1. fantomina*

            Thank you!!!! This is so so so helpful for me to use as a guideline while I get the long-term solutions and strategies in place.

  73. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

    I see a lot of advice on negotiating a salary for a job offer and negotiating a raise. But I’m a new manager, and one of my direct reports is severely underpaid re market value, and I would like some advice on negotiating on behalf of someone else.

    The reason Direct Report is underpaid is that this was their first job in this role, and they’ve been here four years and progressively moved up. Since big leaps are usually made by switching companies, they haven’t gotten that big leap.

    They are a very high performer. It would be very difficult to replace them. They’re in a niche technical role, in which most qualified people with these skills already have good jobs and can write their own ticket. We originally intended to hire a senior person for Direct Report’s role 4 years ago, months passed without any applicants making it past the phone screen, and eventually we went with a junior role and hired someone based on a referral who we had confidence had potential to learn.

    Then we tried to hire a senior person again 2 years ago, and that hire very quickly had to be fired for incompetence. My experience based on trying to hire at this company, trying to hire at a previous company, and talking to hiring managers and recruiters at other companies, is that this role is really hard to hire for (one recruiter told me it was the hardest he’d ever tried to fill, and that he was relieved to hear from me that it wasn’t just him!). Direct Report remains the only successful hire I’ve made for this role over the last ten years.

    Every time I myself have gone on the market with these same niche skills, I’ve been snapped up quickly and been able to negotiate a very good offer. My current company notoriously underpays, it was all over Glassdoor when I was looking, and their initial offer to me was lower than all my other offers, yet I got them to offer me a lot more by using my competing offers as leverage. I am now one of the few people here who I know is highly paid for my role. I actually make roughly the same as my boss. Furthermore, companies that I interviewed with and didn’t join last time I was on the market kept reaching out to me in the first year to see if maybe I’d changed my mind, because they still hadn’t hired for that role. That’s how hard it is to hire for and how in-demand these skills are.

    Based on salary averages and job advertisements, the median salary for my direct report is 33% more than they’re making. Furthermore, they could arguably make a case for a promotion (I need to talk more to my boss about this and see if he agrees), and then the median would be something like 66% more. But that’s just the median, and they’re a high performer. Based on what I’m seeing in job advertisements, Direct Report could step out of this company and almost double their salary (people leave this company for this reason all the time).

    I can tell the powers that be at my company everything I’ve written here, but without a competing offer, I’m not optimistic we’ll get Direct Report to market value. Their last promotion came with a 12% raise that did not bring them to market value. I should add that at my first job, I was able to get 30-35% raises to keep me in line with market value at each promotion, but one, I didn’t work at a company notorious for underpaying, and two, I also had more experienced bosses. At my present company, we promote internally, so you always have a first-timer negotiating your salary.

    If Direct Report leaves, there’s a good chance I leave, and if I leave, there’s a good chance my boss leaves (the three of us have discussed this). But none of us really wants to leave. It’s a good place to work and our team is great. We just don’t want Direct Report making 50% of what they should make.

    Any advice to a first-timer on negotiating on behalf of someone else? I don’t expect a doubling of salary, but even close to the median would make me not feel torn between wanting Direct Report to stay for my sake and wanting them to leave for their own sake.

    1. Sharkbait*

      I would present everything you’ve written to the management. If they decline, I would tell the direct report it’s in their best interests to leave. And if they do, you can then make your own decisions around whether to resign or not.

      Sometimes all you can do is let people suffer the consequences of their actions. Your company is notorious for under paying. Losing great staff and struggling with recruitment are reasonable consequences of being a stingy employer. The onus is not on you to correct that.

      1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

        No, but it’s in my best interests to get their salary corrected, because I want to stay at this company and also keep working with them! I’ve also benefited from bosses doing sometimes tough negotiations on my behalf so I could stay in line with market value without having to jump ship, and I’d like to pay that forward if at all possible.

        1. DottedZebra*

          You need to ask yourself why you want to stay at a company that underpays people. Don’t be blinded by the fact that you were the exception. Your company is not doing the right thing.

          1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

            I know why I want to stay: much the same reason as many people tolerate being underpaid. Our flextime policy approaches a ROWE (results-only work environment), and furthermore, the company culture is to be hugely supportive of people as human beings, in a way that you don’t see just anywhere. Direct Report takes full advantage of and has reason to highly value both parts, and going somewhere with less flexibility for more money (and I could also make more somewhere else, just because I’ve been here so long with only small raises/COL adjustments–after inflation, I’m making effectively the same as when I started several years ago, despite a promotion) is something we’re both reluctant to do. People who don’t need that flexibility are more inclined to leave for money.

            It would be nice if our company didn’t treat that as a reason to pay less, but it would be nice if more other companies stepped up their work environment game. Nothing about my previous working experience or reading social media, including AAM, gives me any reason to believe we could count on a day-to-day working experience anything like here. It’s like refundable airline tickets being vastly more expensive: you choose what matters more to you, flexibility or money.

            I’m also not required to set myself on fire to keep other people warm. Even if I were, I really doubt if I left The Powers That Be would suddenly start paying everyone more. What I’ve been doing instead the last couple years is telling my boss, “Don’t worry about me, worry about the people who are underpaid,” at comp review time. And now I’m using my own political capital to advocate for others to be paid at least close to market value and still be able to keep the environment.

    2. ferrina*

      To get a raise, don’t advocate for your employee, advocate for your own self-interest. If the company doesn’t care about it’s employees (and it sounds like they don’t), that’s not going to be compelling. What will be compelling is cost of replacement and how it will cut into productivity. How it will impact the company’s bottom line- that will be more compelling.

      Honestly, that’s unlikely to get fair pay, just enough to keep the employee on the hook. When I’ve been in this position, I quietly informed my employee that they were underpaid and I would be advocating for them to get a raise, but if they wanted to look elsewhere, I would be happy to be a reference. Basically I wanted to support their career in whichever way they decided to take it. I’ve had employees stick around because they decided that the perks of the role were worth the lower pay. It can also pay off for you long-term if it’s a small industry; they remember folks that looked out for them as they advance in their career (and you’ll be able to woo them to work for you again)

      1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

        “To get a raise, don’t advocate for your employee, advocate for your own self-interest.”

        I was planning on making those same arguments, about the cost of having to replace them, etc., but it’s useful to keep this framing in mind as the basic approach, thank you!

        Re your second point, I’ve definitely done all that already. We’ve had a frank conversation about “You are underpaid” and also “I understand why you value the flexibility more than most” and “I will do my best this year, but in the end, I will support any decision you make.” I was fortunate to have a really good boss early in my career who talked about the importance of supporting people even if it means they leave. I would indeed work for him again in a heartbeat.

    3. One HR Opinion*

      I used to joke that often when you are negotiating, ask for a Ferrari when you really want a Corvette.

      The case I would make is Direct Report is doing a phenomenal job. He was hired low 4 years ago because he was a novice to the role. Since then he has proven himself in the role and even surpassed the expectations to the point where it may be promotion worthy. I’ve looked at the market and he is way under the market rate. We really can’t afford to lose him. What if we gave him a 50% raise which would still be a steal compared to what we would have to pay if we could even find someone to replace him.

      Good luck to all of you.

    4. The Ginger Ginger*

      I negotiated a significant raise for one of my direct reports this year. I was fortunate that I had 2 direct reports in a similar role, and this one was taking on additional tasks but was being paid less. I made the argument that after the long term tenure he had, it really made no sense for him to be earning less than his colleague when I was relying on him for more.

      You really need to outline what you’ve said above. Hard numbers like what the market rate salary band is will help. You can mention your past experience when in the market with similar skills, but also point out how much they’re doing in their current role, how long it would take to onboard someone new, and outline all the risks of losing them. Whether you think it will work or not, you have to make the pitch. They certainly won’t get a raise if you don’t do anything.

      1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

        I’m definitely planning on making the case, and the gathering of hard numbers is in progress.

        I wish I had a second direct to compare to, but all I have is the guy, whom I will call Fergus, who got paid vastly more based on years of experience, but had to be fired quickly because it was all a scam. I have on my to-do list to talk to my boss and see if Direct Report is doing approximately the job that we hired Fergus to perform, because *that* would be a strong case for “the cost of replacing them.” (Unfortunately, Fergus was meant to replace *me* while I was on leave, not to be a peer to Direct Report, which is how his salary got anchored so high.)

    5. Random Academic Cog*

      Does your company ever counteroffer? While the usual advice is for employees to decline counteroffers, I’ve seen it used successfully in situations like you’re describing. The employee is opening that door with the support of their management team for the specific purpose of strong-arming the company cogs into a fair compensation range. The risk is that he might decide the new offer is too good to turn down, but if you’ve got a great team, it’s more likely he’d prefer more money and to stay where he knows he enjoys the non-monetary aspects of the job.

      1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

        I myself got a big raise with a counteroffer early in my career, and I don’t regret accepting it, so I definitely have a more positive view of counteroffers than most people on this site! I’ve also had amazing experiences with doing work for free, naming my current salary and not negotiating starting salary, and having zero work experience when entering the workforce (Alison’s dream of mandatory work experience during college would have infuriated me to no end), so I may be an outlier who should not be counted. ;)

        I don’t actually know how my current company handles counteroffers. (Obviously, based on my experience when being hired, they handle competing offers for a desirable candidate quite well.) What I’ve advised my direct report to do in the coming weeks is do market research, look at job advertisements, and, where necessary to get a salary figure off job advertisements that don’t have them, talk to a recruiter long enough to establish the salary range and make a note of it, then come back to me. With the full understanding that one of these advertisements might catch their eye enough to lead to an application…but we’ve also discussed how much they value very specific things about our company and team culture, so I don’t consider them a huge flight risk.

        “with the support of their management team”

        Hmm! I hadn’t considered that much of the reason not to accept a counteroffer is the effect it has on your immediate manager, which wouldn’t be the case here: both I and my boss would support Direct Report in this endeavor. Though there still remains the possibility that no counteroffer is made by The Powers That Be, and then Direct Report has to either walk or admit they were only bluffing.

        On the other hand, I’ve had some success with partial transparency in negotiating various things in the past, so something like, “They’d rather stay here because of the perks, but given that this is the kind of offer they can easily get, they’re likely to be tempted into walking away at some point, and this is what we’ll have to pay to replace them. I want to give us a chance to remove that temptation for them, and thereby spare us that price tag,” could be a way to meet in the middle without exhausting all our social capital on a bluff.

        If the less aggressive approach doesn’t work, I might mention this counteroffer approach to them, especially if I talk to my boss and he’s on board. I seem to recall him suggesting the counteroffer approach last year, and Direct Report declining…but the pay gap widens with each passing year, so the calculations might change.

        “but if you’ve got a great team”

        We do, and in particular, the three of us–me, my boss, and Direct Report–have an excellent dynamic. We’re not friends outside of work, but we are so much more productive working together because we have the right balance of overlapping and complementary strengths and weaknesses. There are so many projects that wouldn’t get done or would be extremely painful if either Direct Report or I had to do them alone, but collaboratively we knock them out of the park. And all three of us appreciate not having to do various kinds of work that get done because one of the other three embraces that kind of work. So that definitely factors into the calculations of all three of us in staying, though all three of us know we’ve been here so long we could make more elsewhere. I just don’t want to continue with the big discrepancy where the one of us who’s making the least is also the one who’s dramatically underpaid.

        1. Random Academic Cog*

          I’d love to see an update on how the negotiations work out (for all of you). And after all the horrible stories, I always appreciate seeing other managers who actually care about doing the right thing for their employees.

          1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

            It’ll likely be August before we know the outcome, but if I don’t forget, I’ll post an update! Maybe it’ll be a Friday good news post.

            And regardless, the kind words are much appreciated. :)

  74. Sharkbait*

    I discovered that an employee “Joe” has been taking uber to work every day because he doesn’t have a car. Joe earns close to minimum wage. His work visa limits him to work with us only (we are not in the US). Although uber fare eats into a quarter of his wages, he’d rather have some income than none as he’s sending money back to the Philippines to his family.

    Due to various reasons it’s difficult to offer shifts within public transport hours. I do it occasionally if some short term issue arises (e.g., car repairs, looking after a sick family member, etc.) But it’s logistically complicated. For this reason we openly tell all job applicants that our shifts suck and they cannot rely on public transport to commute.

    To add context, we operate 20+ hours a day. Everyone works either very early morning or late night hours when public transport is not an option. So most employees have their own car, or they live within biking distance or have family drop them off. None of the above applies to Joe.

    How much ethical obligation do I have to give him hours where he can take the bus? It feels crappy to give him his usual early morning shifts knowing he spends so much on uber, especially knowing he’s a migrant worker with limited options. At the same time giving him permanent 9-5(ish) shifts to him alone is unfair to everyone else, potentially causing resentment and operational issues.

    1. Temperance*

      I don’t think you have any ethical obligation to give him priority scheduling and make a special exception.

    2. ferrina*

      This is such a hard question! One the one hand, he took the job knowing that there would be transportation needs. On the other hand, he’s in a really tough place. Of course, there may be other people who have needs that you don’t know about- but does that mean that you shouldn’t help out someone you know have needs?
      I’d probably quietly give Joe some extra shifts during transportation hours. Not making it permanent or constant, but whatever makes sense based on your team. (he gets 2 9-5 shifts to every one else’s 1?)

      1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        The way I read it, everyone works shifts that either start before bus hours or end after bus hours. There are no 9-5 shifts.

        1. WellRed*

          If they stay open 20 hours a day, I don’t see how everyone starts early or ends late. Is there no middle shift? Does everyone work 12 hours?

          1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

            They could be on 10 hour shifts fewer days. However I could be wrong, if “Everyone works either very early morning or late night hours” means everyone works them some of the time on some shifts rather than every shift includes early/late (which is how I read it).

  75. UnexpectedRaise*

    I have 2 questions!

    I recently received a raise after my performance review. The the typical raises in previous years were 3-5%, and we were already pretty underpaid by industry standard. You can imagine my surprise when I got a 28% raise this year! I think this is likely due to having been assigned to a new project, separate from my team, that has a pretty substantial budget.

    1) I spoke to one of my coworkers (not on the project) who got the typical 3-5% raise. Though she did earn a bit more than me previously due to location. Do I share my raises information with her?

    2) Given the terrible salary prior to this raise, I’ve been job hunting and have a few interviews lined up in the next month. Instead of it being what would have been a 40-50% raise from my old salary, these new jobs would be a 10-20% raise instead. Especially since I gave my expected salary range for these new jobs before my raise. Do I still pursue these other jobs? I’m feeling a bit guilty doing so right after such a good review and raise, but I know I shouldn’t feel that way.

    1. ferrina*

      Congrats on the raise!

      1. I probably wouldn’t tell her. It sounds like you got an unusual wage due to unusual increase in work. In theory we all like that, but it gets a little trickier in real life. I’ve seen folks complain that “It’s not fair that UnexpectedRaise got that project; I could have done that project too!” Maybe they claim they would have done it if they knew they’d get more money. Maybe they’ll say they did the same amount of work as you and deserved the same raise (which they have no way of knowing how much work you did, but that’s a feeling I’ve seen come up). Unless it’s something about parity or that she can use to advocate, I wouldn’t mention it.

      2. No, don’t feel guilty. It’s all business. And you’ve been doing the higher-level work for a while now; this is just your pay catching up. If you don’t want to job search, you don’t have to; if you still want to leave, trust that your reasons are good and you don’t owe them anything just because they are paying you fairly.

    2. Colette*

      1) I don’t think you do; you could share your salary, but not necessarily the raise. (If she makes $50,000 and you made $40,000, a 37.5% raise for you and a 10% raise for her would result in the same overall salary.)

      2) Do you still want that job now that you’ve gotten a significant raise? It’s OK to keep looking if you want to, but it’s also OK to stay where you are.

    3. Sparking Stardust*

      Congrats on the raise! Did you have any other complaints about the position other than the low pay? If you liked everything else, then that makes a big difference. If you still don’t like a lot of other things, more pay may not make a difference.

  76. Anon for this*

    I asked for a raise last month, and I think I pitched too low. The raise was approved without any negotiation which is unusual in my company and my Spidey sense says I undershot as my boss seemed to agree too fast. In my industry it’s difficult to find salary information but I had spoken with a couple recruiters to try to work out a figure, but my job is quite specialist and I think the information I got was based on a misunderstanding. really wish I had done more research or just had the courage to go higher.

    I am a top performer and I am pretty sure they don’t want me to leave. i had been thinking about leaving, but at the moment because of spouse job insecurity I would rather stay (if there had been no raise, I would have ramped up my job search immediately).

    Anyone see any way back from this or is it just suck it up time for six months or however long?

  77. Nespresso addict*

    Looking for some encouragement/ success stories / words of wisdom re: returning to work after an unexpected and lengthy leave of absence. Due to a family health situation and some other very challenging personal issues, I had to go out on an unplanned, unpaid leave last summer. I did not utilize FMLA and so my job was not protected, and I knew that risk going in. I am looking to return now and given how long I ended up needing to be out, my role naturally needed to be filled awhile back and is no longer available, so it’s up to me to find a new position (this is a large corporation that is constantly hiring), apply, hope to get selected to interview and then do my best to stand out as a top candidate.

    I have found two different roles that I am well-suited for that I’ve applied for in the last few weeks. One would be a lateral move from my last role and the other would be one step down. Haven’t heard anything back on either yet but still hopeful I will at least get the chance to interview, even if only as a “courtesy” as a sort of-internal candidate.

    The problem is I have lost so much confidence being out as long as I have been. I’m sure my credibility internally has taken a hit given the circumstances, I just don’t know how much of a hit. Has anyone else here been through anything similar? Any advice for how best to navigate this would be appreciated.

    1. Colette*

      Practice your interviewing skills. Google “common interview questions” and have someone you trust ask them, and answer like you would in an interview. Ask them for feedback. If you can’t do that, video yourself answering them and look at where you stumble.

      (You don’t mention this, but if you know the people hiring, contact them to let them know you’re interested; if not, make sure your former coworkers know.)

  78. Cee S*

    The site is up. Kudos to the tech person!

    Perhaps Allison can write up a post mortem on how to treat your employees in case of emergencies and on-calls at work.

    (By the way, I got an error today when I used a VPN but fine otherwise.)

    1. Me*

      I get error messages when I try to view the site on an old iPad that has an old iOS that I can’t update.

  79. Hello!*

    I’m looking for a new job. I am looking into using a different placement agency as my normal recruiter is out on leave. I know no company is perfect. I was recommended by three people an agency. Everyone had a great experience with them. They seem pretty good – job listings, calls are returned. I just can’t get over the yelp and Glassdoor reviews. Overall each has the equivalent of a 4.6 out of 5. It just seems like reviews are 1 star or 5 star. About half of the 1 star reviews were environmental (they were mowing the lawn when I went to the office was my favorite negative review). I know some of the positives might be fake but I doubt out of 300+reviews they are all false. What do you think should I give them a shot?

    1. handfulofbees*

      Honestly that seems like a really good sign, if all the 1 stars are petty lil things. If none of the things mentioned in the 1 stars would drive you crazy, seems like an auspicious sign!

    2. RagingADHD*

      I always think what a review says is more important than the rating. If the substance of the 5* reviews contains things that are important to you, and the 1* reviews are stupid stuff, then there’s your answer.

      Besides, it’s a placement agency. You aren’t paying them, and you aren’t obligated to them. If they’re so terrible that it’s worse than being unemployed, then you stop working with them. There’s really nothing much at stake here.

  80. Sarra N. Dipity*

    I’m doing it!

    After getting laid off in January (!!) I decided to take some time off. This led to a couple of freelance gigs, which I enjoyed; I could work as many hours as I was able (health issues), and the work was just challenging enough that I didn’t get too bored.

    I just got my certificate of incorporation from WA’s Secretary of State – I officially have an LLC!

    Excited, scared, hopeful.

    Anyone have any advice (other than squirrel away like half of what I get so that I can pay my taxes without dipping into savings, when the time comes)?

    1. Just here for the scripts*

      Congrats!!! Remember to treat it like the business it is and meet with an accountant to learn how best to do so: track expenses including an ergonomic work station, advertising and percentage of internet, electric bill, phone, etc.; pay taxes quarterly (includes employer’s side of thing for SS and Medicare); find out your states requirements re keeping the LLC (advertising, etc); etc.

  81. Undersharer*

    How do I get out of this?? My work have organised a Challenging Racism and Inequality day with external facilitator. So far so good, but as part of this we are expected to complete our “lifelines” and share them in small groups at the start of the day. This is to be the story of our life, our personal journey to the person we are now at work – specifically tells us to go back to our formative years, talk about key life moments, milestones, emotional reactions, important people, influence of race gender disability etc. I am so so uncomfortable about this. For context, I’ve been there for just over a year, it’s a big team with lots of sub teams and I barely know anyone. I find the place very unfriendly – these people don’t even say hello to me in the corridor, but I am meant to share with them all this personal material?
    I’m not going to do it, that’s not the issue – but can anyone provide me with a script to say politely that I’m not prepared to share this kind of info with people at work? I just know its going to get me labelled as difficult and perhaps as not taking the subject matter of the day seriously, which I very much do – I just didnt buy into this expectation of personal disclosure. If I had known I would have taken leave or something, but it’s too late now – it’s pretty much mandatory.

      1. Undersharer*

        Thanks, I thought I’d seen something but couldn’t find it so thanks for searching it out for me!

    1. Cyndi*

      My advice is that no one can stop you from catching a brutal 24-hour stomach bug the day of and having to regretfully miss this big work event you were super looking forward to, really, you swear. Heck, if it’s first thing in the morning, a flat tire or transit delay might cover it for you.

      Also, aside from the skin-crawling invasiveness of this whole plan, are you expected to put these lifeline things together on your own time? Because if so that’s a BIG project they’re asking people to do off the clock.

      1. Undersharer*

        Now you mention it, I do feel a non-specific sickness coming upon me…and yes, in our own time and it should take at least an hour of reflective time

    2. Lady_Lessa*

      If your stomach bug doesn’t appear, could you just plan a very bland fictitious story. Get your name, college and hometown right, but no one is going to check the details, especially if they are Midwest or Canadian bland. (and I apologize to our Midwesterners and Canadian readers, because I suspect that many of us have interesting stories that we don’t tell)

      One story that you can borrow from me. My first time eating Chinese mustard (very hot) it opened my nose like a bomb, but fortunately my co-eaters in college didn’t notice so I didn’t get teased about my reaction. Now I eat (your truth) of spiciness.

        1. Lady_Lessa*

          I just have the mistaken idea about Canadians being nice, and some of the best stories are about not-nice people. I apologize for my opinion

    3. Philosophia*

      Your statement that “I’m not prepared to share this kind of information with people at work” sounds plenty polite to me—better yet, make it impersonal: “at my workplace” rather than “with people at work.” In the big team you describe, there are almost certainly others who feel the same way, and if they haven’t yet had the courage to say so, you’ll be an inspiration to some of them.

    4. RagingADHD*

      Here you go:

      “I think it’s really good that the organization is taking racism and inequality seriously, and I want to participate in a meaningful way to help make this a more diverse and equitable place. In the spirit of transparency, though, I feel like there’s a trust gap. The information we were asked to share is very vulnerable, and I’m just not at a point where I feel comfortable with that level of personal disclosure.”

  82. Serenity Now; Firefly Class*

    I’m 2 months into my new job, and I hate it.

    The work involves a lot more medical billing than I want, and my coworker is a nightmare.

    The problem is, the pay is a lot higher than other jobs out there.

    1. Sarra N. Dipity*

      It’s always ok to look for something new, even if you just started this job. If you find something else quickly, you can even leave this one off of your resume.

      1. Serenity Now; Firefly Class*

        Thank you. This was the best way to help me decide.

        I hate billing so much.

  83. Tea*

    Any accountants/CPAs out there willing to share what kinds of qualities are needed to be a good accountant, and what their day to day (or month to month) work life looks like? I’m contemplating a career change (early 30’s) and am interested in taking some courses and maybe digging deeper into this. Thanks in advance to anyone willing to carve out time during busy tax season to answer!

    1. Not a CPA*

      I work in the accounting industry, although I’m not an accountant. I think it’s better to ask this again sometime after middle of April (after the spring busy season) for the feedback from accountants. From my observation they work a lot of hours during the spring with the 3/15 and 4/18 deadlines for tax returns. Then they also have a fall busy season although it’s usually not as bad.

  84. Anon for this*

    Any advice on emotionally disengaging from a previous job? For context, I was in this job for about a decade and it involved a very high degree of ownership; think along the lines of launching or growing a brand or set of brands into pillars within their niche, including a lot of name and face recognition, intellectual and creative investment, etc.

    The circumstances of my departure were not ideal (on either side) and there isn’t really a qualified successor in place. As a result, the products are suffering deeply in quality, volume, organization, etc. I’m aware of this both because I have many friends both at the company and who are users of the product; I even minorly use them in my current professional life.

    These brands and products remain connected to me in customers’ perceptions to some degree even after my departure. How do I not care that they’ve gone from great to mediocre and may continue to decline?

    1. Colette*

      I think all you can do is remind yourself it’s not your problem any more. They could pay you to fix the problems; they’re choosing not to.

      I’d recommend you stop talking to your friends at the company (you can talk to them about personal stuff, just not their work). If anyone brings it up to you, you can say something like “yeah, I’m disappointing, I emjoyed working at Company and wish they were doing better” or “I hope they turn things around” or “It’s not what I would do, but it’s not my choice.”

      1. Anon for this*

        Thanks! I can’t say in good faith that I enjoyed working at the company, but I can honestly say I believed in the products and wish they weren’t going the way they are, so I’ll try that.

  85. Sylvia*

    I have a question for people in the fashion industry–does the pay ever get better? I’m asking on behalf of a family member who’s finishing her junior year of fashion school. She said that the fashion design jobs she sees advertised want 1-3 years of experience and pay barely over minimum wage, and are located in cities with high costs of living. She wonders if this is an accurate reflection of what it’s actually like in this field.
    Also, is it necessary to have a Bachelor’s degree to work in fashion? Are there other areas in the fashion industry that pay better and have a better work/life balance? Thank you!

    1. RagingADHD*

      The general rule in any “glamour” industry is that the more boring the employer is, the better the pay and conditions are likely to be. The closer you are to what’s exciting and fresh, the more applicants are willing to work for experience / exposure, and the more you’re competing against people whose lifestyle is subsidized by family money.

      The only friends I have who have made long-term professional careers in fashion with a stable lifestyle, did so by working for classic mid to upscale department store brands like Liz Claiborne and Ralph Lauren. I don’t know what they were making starting out, but that’s the track they wound up in.

      Home collections also appear to be a good ancillary track. One of my friends wound up working for an apparel brand’s home-decor spinoff, and the other wound up at a large home-decor house known for its catalogue.

    2. Hiring Mgr*

      Not sure about design specifically but if she’s open to other areas of the fashion business, I have a cousin who was a highly paid fashion buyer for Bloomingdales in NYC for many years..

      Don’t know how many of those type of jobs there are though, or how you find them, qualifications needed, etc

    3. fhqwhgads*

      My understanding is, for most people, nope. It’s sort of like professional baseball. If you make it to the minor leagues, you’re potentially on your way to the majors, but the pay the whole way up the ladder is crap. If you actually make the majors, you will be very well compensated, and it might make up for the slog up, but most people won’t, and there’s really no in the middle, moneywise.

  86. anywhere but here*

    I’ve been in my current role for 3 years, and low-key hated it the whole time. I finally got the kick in the ass I needed when I searched how my starting pay compared to actual buying power now. I am making *drumroll please* less money than when I started, despite multiple “merit” increases (that don’t even cover COL increase) & high reviews. How long does it realistically take to find a new job, and how hard do I really need to try in my current job in the meantime? I need money to live but I’m disillusioned and enraged & I would literally rather be unemployed than stay at this job another year.

    P.S. my workplace also recently ranked very highly on forbes top employers list. . . ha. I guess they’re a good workplace if you don’t actually care about being paid.

    1. PollyQ*

      How long does it realistically take to find a new job

      Varies HUGELY depending on industry, role, & region.

      how hard do I really need to try in my current job in the meantime?

      Eh, hard enough? Getting laid off can be a pain, and getting fired looks bad on your record. It’s always easier to get a new job while you’re employed, so I’d say you should keep doing moderately well (whatever that means) at your current job while putting in the full-court press of hunting for a new one.

  87. Mysteria456*

    Inspired by the post from a few days ago of the LW with Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome, I wonder if this is something I have. I have always struggled to get ready in the mornings. I have been a night owl since I was a child (my bedtime was 9PM at 6 years old because my parents just gave up trying to get me to bed any earlier), and it has persisted in my adult life. I have worked non-profit jobs for most of my professional career and I always get in trouble with my morning attendance. I cannot get ready in the morning unless I have someone forcing me to get up (which is my mom growing up, and now my husband). I don’t like rushing to get ready. Alarms will work briefly and then my body gets used to them and I go back to sleep. I’ve tried the alarm clock across the room. Phone alarm games and I just sleep through it. Working from home was the best during Covid times for allowing me to take my time in the morning, but now we’re back in the office it’s butt-in-seats mentality even though I never miss my client meetings. I’m wondering if it’s worth getting a diagnosis. I feel like I’ve internalized the “I’m just lazy” mentality of not being a morning person, and not sure if I would be “disabled” enough.
    Thanks for reading!

    1. Sloanicota*

      I mean, what time are you going to bed, and how does bed time feel to you? I think this is part of the equation.

    2. handfulofbees*

      Yes I would absolutely go see a sleep doctor! The thing about sleep disorders and disability – this is perfectly normal for you. That is ok. It becomes disabling because society expects otherwise. Having a formal diagnosis would allow you to ask for accommodations like work from home or a start time that is pushed back.

      I’m also delayed, though not nearly to the extent of that LW. I’ve definitely missed out on applying to jobs before because I know I couldn’t make the start hours. I’ve been extra careful with this since my time at the USPS – we clocked in at 7:30, and between the early time and all the OT, I fell asleep while driving in once. It was definitely a wakeup call that I need to account for this.

      1. handfulofbees*

        Just want to add: give the Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire a try. It’ll help you get a better sense of your body’s rhythms, and is super helpful to be able to describe what you’re dealing with.

      2. Maggie*

        I’m a “night owl” and I just don’t feel like it’s a disorder! Like why is going to sleep later somehow disordered? Easier said that done but I’ve found trying to find jobs that work with my sleep schedule easier than trying to change something that’s deeply ingrained in me and feels natural. My old job I started at 10am and my current job is flexible hours except basically once a quarter I have to present at a 9am meeting on Monday. But alarms generally do work for me. My husband is just like me too, as is my grandmother. My mom and sister are up at 6am (which is truly the middle of the night to me). If you think it’ll help you, then go for it but I just don’t get why sleeping later is considered a disability and not just a natural variation of the human condition.

        1. anon24*

          It’s only a disorder because the world says it is! Because everyone works around a day schedule and isn’t set up for us, so we must have a “problem.” My circadian rhythm is completely flipped (I cannot under any circumstances fall asleep before 4-5 am, even if I have to get up at 6am and if given the opportunity will sleep from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm) and I feel so so much better when I can let my body do what it needs to, but that isn’t conducive with how society functions! Drives me crazy, I don’t feel like I need fixed, I’m just different!

        2. handfulofbees*

          Again, it’s only a problem because our society makes it into one. Humans naturally vary in their chronotype, but business hours don’t take into account those variations. Many conditions are disabling primarily because society is not set up to accommodate for them. The word ‘disability’ is useful because it grants you certain legal protections.

          The way our workplaces and homes also restrict the amount of natural light we get does contribute to this. Light exposure does what’s called ‘entraining’ the circadian rhythm. Not getting enough natural light prevents this entrainment, and artificial light at the wrong times of day causes circadian disruption that can lead to health problems down the line if the disruption is long term. This is why we see higher rates of health problems in shift workers.

          (I studied a lot of this in grad school – happy to answer questions!)

    3. Policy Wonk*

      I’d get a diagnosis, just to be sure. There are doctors and clinics that specialize in sleep disorders (though they all seem to focus on sleep apnea) and there may be some treatments. You may also want to see if there is some flexibility at work. Our official hours are 8-5, (with an hour for lunch) but we have workers who come in 6-3, 7-4. We also have those who flex the other way, come in at 10 leave at 7. Even without the diagnosis you might consider asking for the flexibility – having someone there who can finish up the project that was waiting for the input that didn’t show up until 5:00, without needing overtime pay, can be a big benefit to the company.

    4. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      Diagnosis or no, a different job is another option. My body is fundamentally incompatible with any job that starts before 10 if I have to go to an office — my day starts in stress mode. I was always been able to negotiate some amount of later start (like 9 instead of 8), but that didn’t fully solve this for me. I have had a couple jobs that let me work 11-7, which did work really well. Now I am back on a “normal” start time, which is only possible because I am 100% WFH. Not having to get dressed, get out the door, and commute changes everything for me. I’m still getting up a lot earlier than my natural cycle but it’s manageable this way.

    5. Random Academic Cog*

      My sleep quality improved significantly when I switched to a 90-minute-cycle schedule. I discovered the concept randomly (ADHD – I discover a LOT of life-changing concepts randomly LOL), but it made me pay closer attention to what my sleep looked like when I didn’t have to set an alarm.

      I have preset alarms that let me choose 90-minute increments (plus 20 minutes to actually fall asleep). I have a pretty flexible schedule, but still need to work around what amounts to banking hours. If I have to be up no later than 7 am to get to work on time (thankfully only some days), I do better sleeping in however many 90-minute blocks fit rather than setting the alarm for 7. That could mean I sleep for 3, 4 1/2, or 6 hours and get up at 6:27 instead of 7, but I feel much more rested than if my alarm went off at 7. Permanent accommodations are better if your field/job can work with that, but this is another approach that might be helpful.

  88. Potatohead*

    Do companies usually offer COLA pay increases in addition to performance/merit based raises? My previous job gave a company-wide across the board COLA every year, separate from our annual reviews. I’ve been at my new job for 6 months and just had my first annual review with a 5% merit increase but I haven’t heard anyone discussing COLA.

    1. fhqwhgads*

      In my experience, the options are usually merit, COLA or neither. Both merit and COLA for the same person in the same cycle is uncommon. Not unheard of or necessarily rate, but it’s much more common to be an either/or.

  89. Sparking Stardust*

    How soon do I update my linked in to show my new employer? I am starting a new position on Monday. I’m getting a variety of answers online and most of the answers say to wait until I’ve been there more than two weeks (or longer). Mostly the advice online is saying wait until you make sure it is a good fit and you are starting to settle in. Are there any people that updated LinkedIn right away? I’m excited about my new role and itching to update LinkedIn.

  90. sarah*

    I work at a startup in a lab-related STEM field and manage a small team with one underperforming member, and I could use some ideas on what else to try to help her.

    She’s walked the line between below and meets expectations for her entire 2.5-year tenure. Like many in our field we had layoffs early this year and she just barely scraped through there too. When I give her work, she often doesn’t seem to know how to get started, wants a lot of detailed help from our team, and doesn’t really take ownership of getting it done. When she comes to something she’s unfamiliar with, she panics and procrastinates, leading to long periods of low productivity. Every single time I interact with her, she’s visibly anxious about something. The only thing she’s not afraid of is complaining, which she does a lot; she has the lightest workload on the team but is always the first to say she feels overworked. She’s a nice person and very smart, and when we’ve talked about these issues before, she does get it together and improve for a few months, but then it’s time for her to start a new project and we start the procrastination cycle all over again. She came from a much more structured environment and just can’t seem to adapt to startup life.

    I’ve really tried to be cognizant of where biases might creep in, because “junior woman struggling with self-confidence” seems like such a well-worn path in our male-dominated field. But as the only other woman in our group, I’ve seen no specific evidence of gendered issues. We’ve tried all the “psychological safety” tricks I can think of. For organizational reasons I can’t currently put her on a PIP. Nearly all the performance problems I’ve dealt with in the past have been the opposite: very confident-sounding people who talked a big game but couldn’t back it up. Has anyone run into this type of situation before, on either side? What worked?

    1. Random Academic Cog*

      Sounds like an anxiety disorder. It’s tricky to suggest an employee seek mental health care, but it likely requires some intervention when it’s bad enough to put your job at risk.

      At the end of the day, this job is just not a good fit with her work expectations/needs. And she probably does feel overworked. Spending half of your time frozen from anxiety is exhausting.

      The kindest thing might be to help her find a more structured job so she can leave on good terms and you can hire someone who can actually take ownership of the duties.

    2. handfulofbees*

      Oooh yeah this was me years ago. Possibly undiagnosed ADHD, and startup life was just not for me. Firing was a big blow at the time, but it really taught me that I need more structure and guidance in a workplace than I was able to get from there.

      Is there any way to put a little more structure in for her? Lay out specific expectations and goals for a project, give her an idea of what foundations need to be put in place first, or familiarize her with something before assigning it to her? Or maybe she’d be better off assisting with projects and backing someone else up instead of leading on things.

  91. New Union Organizer?*

    ANY UNION ORGANIZERS OUT THERE? I am being considered for a ‘special’ (temporary) union organizer position – it has much more door-to-door canvassing than I realized from the job description. It looks like the role will involve both political canvassing (support X bill) and union canvassing (get involved, etc.) It also appears that I will be working alone, though I am not sure yet – the first real interview is next Wednesday.

    Though I am not new to union membership, write in to legislators on occasion, and have participated in a lobby day at my state’s capital, organizing as a formal activity is indeed new to me. I would VERY much appreciate any suggestions AAM folks out there have for intelligent questions I should ask about the position. I’m obviously concerned about safety, but I’m not sure what else to ask (in these 5 minutes since the interview was scheduled) and I thought you kind folks might have suggestions. Thank you in advance!!!

  92. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

    I left my old job because it was a seething cauldron of dysfunction. My supervisor leapt to the conclusion that I was leaving because of family issues and as I didn’t really want to dip my toe further into the previously mentioned cauldron of dysfunction, I didn’t disabuse him of that notion. But I will soon be virtually attending an industry event that he will also be at… and I will be identified as being part of my new employer. I feel awkward about it, but it’s a small industry and it’s gonna happen sometime. I just need to keep telling myself I have nothing to feel guilty about, darnit!

    1. Employed Minion*

      You don’t have anything to feel guilty about. You left your last job (for whatever reason) and now you have a new job. If you see this person and they say/ask anything about your family just say ‘we’re all doing well. Thanks for asking’ and pivot to appropriate industry topic

    2. Sparking Stardust*

      You definitely don’t need to feel guilty. It’s normal to leave a job at some point. Hopefully your new employer is much better experience!

  93. Social Activist*

    I’m an AmeriCorps volunteer. I work for the government at the state level. I got in trouble at work because I have worked for several years as a social activist, and there are replies to my content that management saw and did not like. I’m under the impression that as a government employee, I have the right to political expression. Also this content was made years ago. Am I legally protected here?

    1. Glomarization, Esq.*

      I’d check AmeriCorps’ policies. Use search terms: americorps civil rights policies

      You have the right to be free from harassment and discrimination based on your political affiliation, but you don’t have completely unfettered freedom of political expression. You might call the AmeriCorps civil rights hotline at 1-202-606-3461 for guidance.

      ACLU-DC publishes a know-your-rights pamphlet for federal employees. It includes a really helpful flow chart. Use search terms: free speech fed employees kyr aclu dc

  94. Danish*

    Bit late to the thread, but I had a new experience with being a reference and now it is my turn to ask, “is this a thing now?” and am also just looking for opinions

    Anyway, after agreeing to be a reference, I was given a phone number and told to call any time during the week but “before [time] on Friday would be best”. At first I was a bit miffed because I hate making calls and because it felt like an imposition to have to be the one to reach out to provide the reference. On reflection I decided it was about equally as annoying as being potentially called at any moment – at least this way I could call when I was free.

    Unfortunately, the person I was meant to call wasn’t in, so I left them a message. I felt like I should give this coworker the best shot I could so I actually called twice more – once on the friday and once again on monday, and both times went to voicemail. It’s been a few weeks now and they haven’t reached out with the number I left them either.

    Now I’m back to being miffed AND I have a bit of “what if Coworker doesn’t get a job because I didn’t connect” guilt. How much energy should I be expected to put in to be someone else’s reference, after all? But on the other hand, companies are SO bad at hiring that it feels like any extra effort I could put in might truly be a deciding factor.

    So idk, opinions? Should I keep trying? Is this something other people have encountered or do at their jobs? I’ve never come across it before in my 2 decades of working.

    1. beanie gee*

      For sure you’ve done all you could do! I don’t know if this thing in particular is new, but I do think not returning calls/emails/texts in general has been increasingly common. Maybe they already talked to other references and don’t need yours anymore? In any case, you’ve done your due diligence and it’s on them to reach out if they still want to talk to you! But good idea to let your person know you tried!

    2. RagingADHD*

      No, calling 3 times is plenty. More than that, with no reply, starts to feel overbearing. Most likely they got the info they needed from your initial voicemail and don’t need to call you back because there’s nothing to discuss.

    3. Jessica*

      When I’ve reached voicemail trying to return a reference call, I try to briefly leave some substance (assuming I can honestly do so and it’s what I was going to say anyway) in the message. For instance:
      “Hi, this is Jessica at HigherEd, returning your call about Ashley. Ashley was one of the best work-study employees my department ever had, and I’d be glad to talk with you about her! Give me a call back at [number].”
      That way they get the vibe that I’m not just returning their call out of business courtesy, but because I’m really enthusiastic about this candidate, and if they never manage to connect with me, at least they know it was going to be positive.

  95. Designosaur*

    I am in the last weeks of working a job I resigned from. What’s troubling me is that the company is going all-in on bragging about their “people-first culture” but that is the OPPOSITE of their culture! It is driving me crazy. They are very much a profit-first culture, and I don’t think they know that the “people” in people-first means their EMPLOYEES. They think it means customers (hospitality biz).

    I was made to work in the office through the whole pandemic, despite many objections to it, which were waved away with dumb things like “Well, you can clean your desk if you’re worried about germs.” My manager eventually confessed we had to be in the office for optics only, so the C-suiters who don’t even know our names could see butts in seats. Is that “People-first culture”?!

    Anyway, I am trying to keep cool while I wrap up some really important projects, that I want in my portfolio, but seeing them brag about their “amazing” culture, where I was micromanaged within an inch of my