open thread – March 3-4, 2023

It’s the Friday open thread!

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

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

{ 914 comments… read them below }

  1. Anne of Green Gables*

    In Wednesday’s letter about the active shooter drill, it seemed the overwhelming opinion of the commentariat was to call out sick the day of the training. But what suggestion would you have if the training isn’t one set day?

    My employer recently held mandatory active shooter trainings. These were 2-hour sessions, in person and lead by local police. (No virtual option, we asked.) They offered at least a dozen sessions and your attendance was tracked. If you didn’t attend, your name was sent to your department head, who followed up with you to make you schedule a session. I went as expected, but am not willing to go if it ever comes up again. I have no loved ones lost to gun violence or personal connection to any shootings, so I don’t have that specifically to point to, just the general anxiety and dread, as well as specific things from this round of training that made it a bad experience. Any suggestions for language to use or ways to approach this?

    1. MourningStar*

      Hello! I have had to request out of a training (not active shooter – though I do have that coming up next week and have considered it). One of the reasons offices or companies want their employees to go through active shooter training is so that they can say that their employees knew what to do should the worst happen. You have been trained. I would now speak to your HR department and say that this training was challenging, and you need to opt out of any future trainings *of this sort*. If they push back, let them know you are willing to do your own training through research or readings, but actual ‘active’ hands on training will not be beneficial to you as a worker or a person. If the push back is harder you may need to discuss with your doctor your reactions to this training, and provide some kind of note but by offering an accomodation of your own, they may be more likely to excuse you from their provided training. Best of luck.

    2. ENFP in Texas*

      In addition to keeping your receipts – make a note on the back of what they were for. “Taxi to/from”, “lunch at meeting”, etc. It makes it a lot easier to remember and itemize when you go to submit them for reimbursement.

    3. Delvecchio*

      You might want to consider offering suggestions for improving the training. Your employer is sharing updated data with you, but that has no bearing on how that data is applied to training, which could be well or badly. I take the training every time my employer offers it, and where I work, it’s done really well, which made the difference for a couple of my colleagues, who felt as you do and had had bad experiences with such training prior to where we now work.

      Of course, none of this covers the real problem – proliferation of guns, with more and more people using them for retaliation for every slight, real or imagined – but until then, it’s good to know what to do and give yourself a fighting chance. I now check for exits everywhere I go, and try to shop online or early in the a.m. No more slight horn-honking nudges at cars in front of me who sit at green lights, etc. I’ll sit through another light cycle instead. I keep bottled water and some dried fruit in my office that I replace every couple of months. And so on.

      Good luck! I hope you’re able to get what you need without struggle.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Mm, it’s good that you found it valuable but I think it’s reasonable to say that it’s bad for some people to go through. There should be an opt out or some alternate optio. Yes we all need to think about how we might respond in various crises but TBH these trainings haven’t necessarily been proven to be valuable in the real world, and it seems to me that a list of suggestions like what you wrote out are likely about as good, and less damaging for people who don’t want to do this.

        1. Rebel*

          …which is why I wrote, “…where I work, [the training is] done really well, which made the difference for a couple of my colleagues, who felt as you do and had had bad experiences with such training prior to where we now work.”

          1. Hrodvitnir*

            The fact some wary people you know were not traumatised by this does not mean it is a good idea for it to be mandatory.

            1. tamarack etc.*

              Let’s not be totally reductive about these things. One can be at the same time appreciative of the need to include what to do under a threat of violence in employee training and viscerally opposed to the kind of active shooter drills that are currently en vogue. (I would know – I hold these two opinions.)

              I’ve been in teaching jobs (not in the US) where I wasn’t even trained on what to do in the case of a fire alarm or *any* emergency situation, not even to the degree of “the handbook on this can be found *here*”. Depending on what the OP’s job is, it can be 100% reasonable that information about what to do in case of an acute threat of violence needs to be made available. Think of the horrible failures in the case of a recent widely-reported school shooting, including people not reacting when suspicion of the presence of a firearm arose, or teachers with no information what steps to take, in classrooms with no doors.

              In my workplace for example, we do not do any drills other than fire drills. If we did, I would switch to activist mode and write to the powers that be, the unions etc., with an argument about why they are harmful. What we *do* do is have a standing agenda point on safety in the monthly all-hands of our unit (~100 people), which is very helpful making people aware of how procedures are documented, where emergency numbers covering a raft of situations are found, who the key people are etc. It is quite effective circulating instruction from above and questions/needs/concerns from below.

    4. Artemesia*

      This kind of training is fairly useless — often a chance for officious boys to strut around in tactical gear– particularly egregious are the ‘simulations’– cowboys. I bet the buys who stood around in the corridors of Uvalde while children were murdered, had conducted such drills. We know they had participated and been trained.

    5. gsa*

      I guess if you think there’s no chance of that happening, you shouldn’t participate on the other hand if it could, maybe you should be prepared.

      When I’m at the range, I do startle when someone next to me starts to shoot.

      Growing up, we had tornado drills. We all hid underneath our desks. That was wrong.

      Fire drills were easy, everyone went outside.

      I would take active shooter training if the trainer was discussing how to hide and then shoot back.

      If you haven’t taken the training, you have no idea what they’re going to say. If there any kind of emergency the last thing I would want it was a bunch of people running around in different directions, and they didn’t know where to go to be safe.

      gsa

      1. Eyes Kiwami*

        “I would take active shooter training if the trainer was discussing how to hide and then shoot back.”
        In a workplace??? I would be terrified if my workplace’s active shooter training consisted of “find chest-high walls and then draw your own gun and shoot back”… That means my coworkers are always armed and ready to shoot someone on regular weekdays. And they’re likely to be shot themselves by police when they arrive and don’t know who the active shooter is.

  2. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

    Anyone have some good work productivity podcasts they recommend specifically for work and ADHD? Ones that use humor and cursing are definitely appreciated.

    I’m doing well at my job I started last July. My review last week was nothing but glowing praise, but my anxiety filled brain is still very much in Imposter Syndrome mode. I know I can be more productive, but it’s a daily struggle.

    1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

      I know Productivity Alchemy has some episodes on ADHD, and is generally a favorite of a friend of mine who has ADHD. I haven’t listened to it myself, but knowing what I do of the guy who runs it, there’s definitely humor and very likely cursing.

      1. Janeric*

        Ah, I was going to suggest the same thing, though I’ve only heard a couple of episodes.

      2. Lyudie*

        I’m not a regular listener, but I can confirm there is a fair bit of both humor and cursing :)

      3. OtterB*

        I am not a podcast person, but I follow Kevin Sonney who does the Productivity Alchemy podcast and his wife, the author Ursula Vernon/ T. Kingfisher (who talks about her ADHD), on Twitter and (a) they are in general full of humor and cursing, and (b) when they talk about podcast episodes it often makes me want to listen.

        1. ShysterB*

          Plus! On Twitter, they post many photos of chickens, and gardening, and they are sheep-adjacent.

    2. Gigi*

      I don’t have enough focus for most podcasts, but I get a lot from the Smart Ass Women with ADHD Facebook group.
      I also struggle with imposter syndrome, even with tons of positive feedback and increasing supervisory roles. It helps me to name them. Sometimes I hear myself saying something that’s so smart and good and I’m like, is that really me. That’s my inner Yoda. Then I leave to go to lunch and run my head into a door and forget to do…I don’t know, all the things. That’s my Outer Goober. They both exist within me and I try to be ok with that.

    3. Justin*

      Mine includes a lot of me talking about my process for getting my scholarship done but isn’t specifically about productivity.

      For my ADHD part, I started telling myself that we ARE impostors bc the system was built to exclude us. Succeeding despite this has been more effective for me than trying to convince myself I belong. It helps that I’m Black so it’s more obvious the system is meant to exclude me but still.

    4. cubone*

      Not necessarily ADHD or productivity exclusive, but I can’t recommend Struggle Care by KC Davis enough (podcast, she also has an Instagram page and a phenomenal book).

      It focuses a bit more on “domestic” tasks, like housecleaning and cooking and stuff like that. But the mindset she brings is incredible (she also has ADHD) and I’ve found it extremely valuable and life changing for my overall approach to productivity and accomplishments (I also have ADHD!).

      1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        Oh I need help with domestic stuff too! If I didn’t have a cleaner come every two weeks, the house would be in rough shape! But I still struggle with the daily upkeep.

        1. Rainy*

          Have you considered working with an ADHD coach? It’s usually not long-term like therapy (or your required monthly appointments with your prescriber), more short term to resolve what can be resolved behaviourally.

      2. WiscoKate*

        Just want to second this recommendation for KC Davis. She also has a great tiktok account (domesticblisters) where she shares stuff almost daily. I have ADHD as well and her book as been helpful and also just unlearning shame around struggling with care tasks.

    5. Kez*

      Black Girl, Lost Keys is a fabulous resource and has a podcast you could check out. I wish you all the luck, and all the alleviation of that imposter syndrome that’s possible!

      1. gmg22*

        Another vote for Black Girl, Lost Keys! Since OP asked above about cleaning tips, worth mentioning that Rene (the author/proprietor) has some great cheat sheet-type resources for this.

    6. Silence*

      If you are on reddit there is a r/adhdWomen which is useful, also there is a YouTube channel HowToADHD

  3. Tuesday*

    Any content writers just feeling super pessimistic about the future right now? I feel like it was already hard enough to argue my worth when people are willing to write blog posts and the like for $10 on Fiverr, but AI has just made it even more obvious that quality content is not really valued (at least at my organization).

    AI doesn’t know much about the specific niche of the website I work on yet, but my coworker (web designer) has been using it to write blog posts for another of our properties (which usually would be my job) and the higher-ups are delighted with the results. Social media has also been outsourced, so I’m mostly just making SEO-related tweaks to our website content right now. It feels like all the fun parts of my job can be done by a robot with no major difference in quality.

    I’m leaving here after my upcoming maternity leave but I honestly just don’t know what to do after that. I have no desire to work my way into a management position and I don’t want to bill myself as any kind of specialist (I’ve built my whole career on wearing tons of hats without ever doing any of them super well). I just want to write my little blog posts in peace. Should I just consider a different kind of career altogether? Anyone else in the same boat?

    1. Frankie*

      I’m concerned about this, too. People are falling all over themselves to praise the quality of ChatGPT output (and look, it’s impressive to a degree to be able to generate this stuff) but reading it over the copy it’s easy to see flaws. I had an applicant praise themselves over the cover letter they wrote with ChatGPT but it was a pretty weak cover letter and that’s not why we opted to talk with them. It’s troubling that unskilled writers are looking to AI tools to generate text for them without the judgment developed to tell if it’s actually “good” writing or not.

      I think it’s a natural outcome of what’s happening on the internet in general–it’s a lot of fluff and copy-pasting and real, substantial information can be much harder to find. People read the fluff and think it’s “good writing” and can’t differentiate. It’s pretty depressing.

    2. new kid*

      Maybe consider a shift into technical writing? I’m sure right now someone is working on a way to have AI scrape requirements docs to create user-facing manuals but given the typical requirements docs I’ve seen over the past 10+ years, I truly wish them the best of luck with that.

      1. Lyudie*

        Former technical writer cackling at this. Too true, and of course that’s assuming there even ARE any requirement docs.

    3. Yvette*

      “AI doesn’t know much about the specific niche of the website I work on yet, but my coworker (web designer) has been using it to write blog posts for another of our properties (which usually would be my job) and the higher-ups are delighted with the results.”

      Do the higher-ups understand that AI content writing can be inaccurate at best, and completely made-up at worst? I would pose that question and see what they say.

      To answer your actual question, though, I think there’s still a need for quality writing by humans. But as the technology continues to improve writers will need to pivot. I foresee a need for more editors who can fact-check robot writers, or maybe more content strategists.

      1. Tuesday*

        I made this point, and also argued that future Google updates might penalize websites that use too much AI writing, but no dice. I was told that quality doesn’t matter, which is not very encouraging!

        1. tamarack etc.*

          I think … you are not with a company that appreciates your work, ChatGPT or not. And I hope you can shift away from such a situation – when I was in jobs like that I found it soul-crushing in the long run. My advice would be along the same lines as previous commenters: can you prepare a move into a more highly-valued writing niche? It’s not my field, but being in academia, we employ science writers (public information officers) and curriculum developers and instructional designers – and no one even thinks of replacing them (or would tell them that quality doesn’t matter, goodness!).

          My feeling is that AI *will* lead to shifts in the status of written text online, but likely in ways that can’t easily be anticipated. I *hope* it might spell the end of low-value content farms, since they are now essentially free to produce. Also, if masses of mediocre text of uncertain reliability is going to flood the internets, we’ll need new ways of bringing forth the reliable information (plus, there is no good way to train the next round of AIs, if most that’s available is output of the previous round!).

          As usual when times become uncertain, you’ll have an easier way if you target higher quality / value niches than letting the fiverrr competition depress the way you price yourself. (In my one short freelance stint, I was astonished how suddenly I was more successful at attracting customers after I doubled or tripled my price.) Good luck!!

    4. Somehow_I_Manage*

      I just wanted to note first, that I’m sorry for what you’re experiencing, and second that this is one of the most fascinating topics, and opens up so many personal, ethical, and professional questions. And it seems so crazy that your position has undergone such a rapid change. 20 years ago, there was no digital content writing!

      That aside, I’d think your skill translates to so many similar and adjacent fields that you’re not out of options yet. A more general communications/marketing position, perhaps with an element of proposal writing may be a fulfilling and sustainable option.

      1. Tuesday*

        It is crazy! I’m really disturbed not just by AI writing, but at the ways search engines are trying to use AI to basically bypass linking to websites altogether and just give a summary of information. If that catches on, a lot of people are going to be out of luck.

    5. Dobby is a Free Elf!*

      While AI is slowly “getting there,” it’s not yet able to replace human writers. In fact, I was looking up something medically-related this morning, and was utterly disgusted to hit on a post that was *clearly* written by AI. I’ve been experimenting a great deal with AI content over the past few months on the content platform I work with most often, thanks to the latest advances, and I just…really hope that it either improves dramatically or goes away, because right now, it’s just not adequate to replacing me and my colleagues.

      It can’t fact-check itself. I mean, it tries; but if this is one of those “facts” where the majority of sources are wrong, it’s going to draw the same errant conclusion. And frankly, sometimes it makes statements that are just…stupid. I’ve even read AI content that contradicts itself before fixed by a human editor.

      It’s not great at sounding like a warm, reassuring human. Does okay with technical/legal/medical to a point, but also, those are the areas where it most requires fact-checking for accuracy.

      It’s frankly still coming closer to plagiarism than I am comfortable with in my own writing. (I went to fact-check an AI-generated post, and it was definitely using the same odd turn of phrase used in the Wikipedia definition of a term.)

      I also am still not convinced that it’s substantially faster or easier to write short-form content using the AI, by the time you feed it everything it needs to generate a halfway decent post.

      I suspect that there is a current flood toward AI content because it’s fast, easy, and cheaper than hiring a human writer to produce the same content. Why? Because most businesses do not understand the importance of *valuable* content. I, like you, tend to wear a lot of hats and write across a lot of industries. I’ve worked primarily for a content platform for most of the last decade because it’s an easy way to control my workflow and stay at home with my kids, so when I say a lot of industries, I mean that if they look for content writers, I’ve probably written a thing or two for them. (My stats say I passed 9,500 posts sold sometime in the middle of last month.) A lot of what I do is, frankly, regurgitating what is already out there, which I hate and think has relatively little value for the people doing it. Let’s get real: when every lawyer’s website, for example, has the same basic content, then yeah, that’s probably something the AI can do for you. “What To Do After a Car Accident” is probably not worth the time it takes to type it, because there are literally thousands of law firms out there producing that exact same piece of content. Same for senior care agencies that talk about, “What are the Signs that Your Elderly Relative Needs More Help at Home,” or “How to Modify Your Home to Age in Place.” That content is important, from an SEO perspective, because people are googling it and it’s what takes them to the individual business websites, but you’re unlikely to get anything unique from it. At its core, it’s the same content hundreds of times.

      On the other hand, when we’re talking about something new, or offering a unique perspective…that’s when we need writers. And frankly, we need writers that are either already knowledgeable about a topic or willing to do the research to get that way, and a payscale that reflects it.

      I’m going to ride it out. In the meantime, I’m looking for places to build passive income streams as a writer, and I’m trying to generate more fiction to help toward that end, and I’m looking for places to write more creative content, because that is definitely where the AI falls short of even appearing to replicate the efforts of human writers. I’m luckily in a place where we can rely on my spouse’s income if need be, so it’s not catastrophic if I start losing opportunities. To be honest, I’m also learning as much as I can about the AI trend, because if this is where my industry is going, then I may be working as an AI editor until I can build something else.

      1. Tuesday*

        We have some similar work experience! It honestly is discouraging to write the same kinds of boring blog posts every day, and I was kind of excited about the idea that AI might make it easier to do my job at first, but it’s gotten old now. Even if it doesn’t catch on, I don’t like how many people were instantly excited about the idea of making me obsolete!

        1. Diocletian Blobb*

          >I don’t like how many people were instantly excited about the idea of making me obsolete!

          If it’s any consolation, the people who make these decisions are excited at the prospect of making ANY job obsolete if it saves them money. They’re just as happy to automate a software developer’s job as they are to automate yours — heck, if anything, they’re probably happier to automate devs, since they cost a lot more money than writers.

    6. Beth*

      Just who is it who’s seeing the AI content as anything other than dreck? There was a recent set of posts from SF magazine editors along the lines of “We’re getting swamped with AI-generated submissions, and they’re garbage, and it takes time to throw out all this garbage, which is the problem.” I’ll put the link in a separate comment, since it will be delayed by the filters here.

      At least in my own industry, most firms are aware that you can’t get engagement using canned content, and content that doesn’t get engagement is useless.

      1. Tuesday*

        Hahaha. Sadly, I think a lot of what I usually write could be considered dreck as well, so AI can do it no problem :P It’s just blog posts and site content for an industry where no one actually reads the blog posts or websites. Maybe I just need to write for a company where content actually matters.

      1. Antigone Funn*

        Interesting article, and great discussion in the comments there too. Thanks for sharing!

    7. RagingADHD*

      To be honest, I was already looking to pivot out of content writing before ChatGPT hit the news, because I was starting to feel like a robot rehashing the same performative bullshit over and over again. Honestly, a lot of what I get paid for can’t quite be done by AI *yet*, but we’re really, really close.

      Especially SEO, dude. Writing for an algorithm instead of for people might as well be done by another algorithm. Just let them talk to each other and be done with it.

      Getting people to think clearly and coherently about real things in the real world is the hard part. And an awful lot of content was never doing that in the first place, because an awful lot of content is just out there to push people’s buttons, turn off their brains, and look at ads or buy stuff.

      Yes, I am cynical and burnt out, can you tell?

      1. Dobby is a Free Elf!*

        Honestly, so much of the content out there right now is *just* for SEO purposes. If you start a new business, you’re going to have to generate a lot of that same content people already have fast, or your business is never going to be recognized. But also, I just want to write something new and different for a change! (Really, I’ve got to get back to fiction. It’s always been my first love, but writing canned SEO content pays the bills….) I cannot tell you how many clients I have who want “more and better” than the other content on the same topic out there, but 1) don’t want to pay for the word count they need and 2) do not want to put any original thought into their posts. They want to give me a generic topic and maybe a link to someone else’s recycled nonsense, and they say, “Do something like this, but make it better!” and sure, I can do that, but sir, I am not an industry expert in your field, that’s all you, so maybe could you give me a bonus tip or two to include in this that haven’t already been shared on 53 different websites this week?

    8. Antigone Funn*

      I’m a web dev and currently struggling with leadership desire for the CMS I work on to be “simpler” — I really feel like they’d use Squarespace and lay off my whole team if they could. This kind of thing makes you doubt the value of your work. You have all my sympathies, from an adjacent boat.

      One thing I could recommend is looking for places that have editors. If they have editors, chances are they have editorial standards, and that probably includes not passing off bot plagiarism as real human writing. My org, for all its faults, would never use AI writing for just this reason. For news organizations, bylines aren’t just for credit — they also establish accountability and trust. So there are definitely some places that won’t be so quick to throw away human writers.

      Another thing I can recommend is Jim Sterling’s recent video “How AI Takes the Art Out of the Artist.” (Warning: it is NSFW and also discusses AI’s impact on other areas, including sex work.) They really dig into the anxiety of having your job automated away when everyone still needs a job to live.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Can’t we please set the patent troll companies that threaten to sue tiny nonprofits for reposting news stories on the AI art people??

    9. Diocletian Blobb*

      Might want to look into getting a marketing agency job. As a copywriter I’m definitely concerned about AI too, but working at an agency gives me some advantages in that regard. For one thing, bigger clients tend to understand the risks of AI content better — they don’t want some un-fact-checked ChatGPT crap that they can get sued for going up on their site, and they don’t want to publish something they might not be able to copyright.

      For another, if and when AI content tools become inescapable in the industry, I want to be working somewhere that I’ll have access to those tools and be able to learn them. There’s also usually more professional development opportunities available in big orgs, so if you want to spec into something that’s a little harder to automate, like sales copywriting or UX, you’ll probably have a better chance of doing that.

      1. WestsideStory*

        May I suggest that while you are on leave you reconsider moving up to a management role? You mention you’ve worn a lot of hats, and your foresightedness about trends in content might make you very valuable overseeing content production overall. If at this point you are no longer feeling challenged just writing, using your knowledge of writing (including how writers actually work) you may be ready for a higher paying job.

        1. Tuesday*

          That’s good to consider! The reason I wasn’t really thinking about it is just that I’m not a very ambitious career person to begin with – I kind of just want something to pay the bills. But maybe some management roles can be low-stress.

    10. Little Beans*

      I don’t know if they are all written by bots, but I’ve noticed more and more online articles lately that are very poorly written. The problem is, I don’t know it’s poorly written until I start reading it, at which point I’ve already clicked on it, which is apparently all they want anyway, right? AI won’t be able to replicate investigative research and original ideas, and I think there will always be a market for that – it’s just getting harder to find it, as a consumer.

      1. Ampersand*

        I opted out of journalism 20+ years ago because I didn’t like the direction it was headed as the internet became A Thing.

        I’m wondering now if we’ll come full circle, and investigative reporting and otherwise being able to write compelling (and coherent) articles will cause journalists/writers to be in high demand….as the internet becomes more of a cesspool.

    11. It's me, Margaret*

      Last week, I used ChatGPT to write a few SEO focused articles for my company’s website, basically a summary of key technologies for our industry. I noticed a couple of things. First, when you read one article from ChatGPT, it’s not bad. When you read half a dozen, they sound the same. I’m having to get creative with prompts and editing to fix that. And second, ChatGPT is very good at sounding right when it’s wrong.

      I don’t see my company using it for any content where we actually want to sound skilled and persuasive. But it’s a lot faster using it to do these SEO articles than doing them myself.

  4. Sunny Sunshine*

    I’m in the process of interviewing for a role, this week I had an afternoon where I met with 4 people. 3 of them (including my “boss”) went well, but the one with my boss’s boss (my “grand-boss”), felt odd.

    Immediately she says “you’re way overqualified for this position, why would you stay here long term?”. Okay fair question, but I’m not overqualified. Yes, I’m on the upper side of the experience, but it’s a lateral move for me and the salary is higher. Actually there are a few things I would still need training on with this role, and the product is pretty complex. Then she kept asking questions like, “what’s a mistake you made”, “what feedback have you gotten that you need to improve on”, etc. But when I gave her answers, with the mistake one she goes, “that’s not a mistake!”, and she kept pushing me to tell her all the mistakes and negative feedback I’ve gotten. I left the interview feeling weird. It felt pushy and negative, like she was focusing on all the incorrect things I’ve done, and it seemed like she wasn’t satisfied with my answers. I don’t know if she was looking for something specific, or what.

    Several years ago at a job I ended up regretting taking, one of the department heads was picky about my resume too: “I don’t want to hire someone who’s just going to leave in 2 years”. That environment ended up being horrible, and due to people leaving, that guy had to be my boss for a few months, and he was so rude to me. He was very misogynistic too and created a horrible “kiss up/talk down” work culture. Anyway, I told myself if I experience something like that during the interview, to stay clear of that place.

    Other than that interview, I really liked everything else and would want to move forward if they determine it’s a good fit. But do I need to be wary?

    1. WellRed*

      It’s hard to say from this. Is she involved in the day to day or is she very hands off and awkward but just felt a need to participate in the hiring process?

      1. Sunny Sunshine*

        Hmmm, I asked how she and I would work together and it seems she’s more high level so I don’t think we’d together much day to day, but of course that could change

        1. E*

          Would you feel comfortable (if/when you get the offer) asking the boss about the involvement of grand boss? I think you can do this directly but diplomatically, “I’m eager to work in this role and with you; I got the sense Grandboss has a particular work style and was curious how much interaction this position would have with her, and how her leadership impacts the team?” Or something like that

          1. Chilipepper Attitude*

            Or, is Grandboss’s work style similar to their interview style?

            For my current amazing job, I got asked a variation on one question several times so I just asked, you have mentioned that several times, can you tell me more about it/why it is important to the team. It led to a really productive conversation!

          2. Cj*

            I think mentioning that Grandboss has a particular work style, and tying that in to asking how much interaction she would have with the position sounds less than diplomatic. And pretty obvious what you’re getting at. The rest of it sounds good, so I would just leave that part out.

      2. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

        I think this is a good question, as well as asking whether there is high turnover? I think the reason that question is asked sometimes is that the environment sucks so people keep leaving. But not always–is this a position that doesn’t have a career track in this particular company (so you’d have to leave the company to climb the ladder)? That’s not necessarily bad for you but it would be hard on the company.

        I manage lawyers and maybe 9-12 months after I was promoted, I started wondering why all of our opposing counsel had become so obnoxious, until I realized that I now only dealt with the obnoxious ones–ones that were easy to deal with never needed to be elevated for my involvement. All to say, because she’s the grandboss, she’s probably much more aware of the things that have gone wrong in this role than the things that go right.

    2. Gigi*

      I think you know the answer, you said it in your post. I’m a big fan of listening to your instincts, which in this case are based on a number of tells you picked up on and created a pattern. Good luck!

    3. Prospect Gone Bad*

      This isn’t good or bad per se, but it sounds like a grand boss who’s too rigid in thinking. They’ve shown you:

      they’ve been burned by churn, which is a valid point, but if you don’t plan on quitting right away, is pointless to harp on.

      They are too focused on mistakes and perhaps calling you out for them. Or who knows, possibly you pulled a “my greatest mistake is I care too much:-)” but I’m guessing you didn’t. Maybe they wanted something really bad to show you are “honest” but if you haven’t done anything that bad, it’s awkward they kept pushing you

      I’ve learned over time to let the interviewee get more words in. I don’t know everything. If i say I want python but the person won’t shut up about tableau, maybe it’s worth my time to listen to them talk about Tableau. Maybe they bring other experience to the table.

      In your case, maybe you worked in a place where you had time to fix mistakes so don’t have a huge one to report. Not sure why this interviewer doesn’t get that

      1. Sunny Sunshine*

        Ooh these are excellent points! Yeah, I don’t have many huge mistakes because I made a few at the beginning of my current job, and it made me extremely diligent with checking my work, which I had explained this to her.

        Hmm, the comment about her being rigid might be true. I liked my “boss”, but she’s only been at the company about 1.5 years, same with other people I’ve interviewed with there, while she’s been promoted several times and has been there about 7 years.

        1. Cj*

          Usually I’d be a little concerned about the short tenure of the other people you interviewed with, but considering that one and a half years ago was it during the great resignation, it’s probably pretty normal.

      2. Cj*

        There’s no reason to harp on how long so OP plans on staying at the job if they indicated that they intend to be there for a while. But if the grand boss was asking about it because they’ve been burned by churn, I’d take that very seriously. There’s usually a reason people don’t stay with a company for very long.

    4. Replier*

      I use questions about mistakes and feedback also, and what I’m looking for is that someone is able to think about feedback calmly and incorporate it, and that they are able to recognize mistakes and own them. Everyone makes mistakes; it’s not about the mistake, but what they did about the mistake that I’m interested in. I can’t speak to the rest of her attitude, but thought this might be a helpful thing to think about for the questions.

      1. Cj*

        What you are looking to find out about mistakes and feedback is good information, but I don’t think the way the interviewer was going about it is going to give them that.

        Asking about specific mistakes you made, without asking how you handled them, and asking about feedback you were given about things you need to improve on without asking how you incorporated the feedback is not the same thing.

    5. LondonLady*

      I’m guessing maybe they are focusing on the weaknesses of folk you will be replacing rather than you. If the person who will be your boss is someone you can work with I would not worry too much about the grand boss (but maybe check with people who already work there on how far the grand boss sets the tone?).

    6. Festively Dressed Earl*

      Grandboss might have read up on how illuminating it can be to ask how a candidate responds to mistakes/feedback/bad situations and just went overboard testing it out. Any way to find out if this is her norm, either online or from prospective coworkers?

    7. Cheezmouser*

      Was she actually pushy and negative, or was she just trying to dig for a real answer/peel the onion? A lot of it can come down to tone and demeanor. I can’t tell from the questions themselves, because those look like standard questions to me. I’ve asked a few of them myself.

      As others have mentioned, hiring managers often want to know how candidates have reacted to mistakes, whether they’re open to feedback, whether they take responsibility for their actions, etc. If I feel like a candidate didn’t really answer the question, I might ask follow up questions to continue digging in. It’s not because I’m negative or pushy, it’s because I’m trying to be thorough and get a real, full answer, which is my job as the interviewer.

      That may or may not be the same case with your interviewer. As others above have pointed out, there may be multiple reasons why Grandboss pressed you on those questions. But in my view, the questions themselves are not unusual, nor is pushing for a more detailed response unusual. It could be a matter of tone, or maybe even your own past experience making you more sensitive to these types of questions.

      1. Cheezmouser*

        I’ll also throw in that since Grandboss appears to be female, sometimes women in senior leadership positions can be perceived as pushy, critical, or demanding even when they are just being straightforward. Is it possible that Grandboss is coming off as pushy and negative simply because her demeanor is not sweet, warm, and nurturing? I’m not saying that’s the case here, but it’s a common enough phenomenon to warrant consideration.

    8. Moths*

      As others have mentioned, I would pay attention to your instincts. At every job that I or a friend has interviewed and there has been something that has thrown up a red (or even yellow) flag, but we’ve ignored it for the other positive things, that flag ended up being an even bigger issue once there. Even if you’re not directly involved with the boss’s boss regularly, what you’ve learned is about both the style she may lead the department with or that upper management above her is okay with (especially since she’s been there so long). You’ll have to decide for yourself how you view your interaction at this interview and what it says about her/management — I’m not saying it’s necessarily bad enough to drop out over — but at the very least, I would recommend not ignoring that it’s telling you something about the company.

  5. Hello!*

    I know this weird to ask. I graduated college 25+ years ago. :-l. I always dreamed of opening a mom and pop shop selling works by local artists. I went to college for nothing related to such an adventure except in a hobby aspect. I hate the field I studied in school and while there are parts I enjoy it was a smart and safe area to study based on where I live. Over the years I’ve toyed with the idea of following the dream. I wrote up business plans, figured out financing, took finance, tax and legal classes, etc. while I did all this I never felt like I was an expert outside of an old pastime. Again I’ve explored opening this business and at a recent networking event it was commented by a few (and I was flattered) that I had the “know how” to run such a business and they were shocked I didn’t have a formal background. I guess I just always thought of this as a hobby. Am I insane to even consider starting such a business with no official training?

    1. WellRed*

      Honestly I think you’re insane to try and sell local art locally, if that’s still the dream. I’d worry less about your ability to do the actual work, I’m quite sure you’d figure it. In fact, it sounds like you already have.

      1. PoolLounger*

        I think this depends on where the OP lives. My town and the neighboring one are home to a small chain of stores like this, owned by a local—they basically “rent” space to locals to sell art and vintage wares. Another town I frequently visit has two local art shops, one that’s more “hipster,” another that’s more traditional. In a town with a larger tourist population, or a town with a large college, and where you’ll be able to afford store rent I don’t think it’s a crazy idea. But you do need some curatorial taste (you want people to want to buy what’s in your shop), some retail/retail management know-how, and an idea of what the day to day will be like. In some places, with the right owner, it’s a nice little business to own.

      2. Rex Libris*

        Depends on where you’re located… Some cities have a thriving local arts business, either because they’re a tourist destination, have a local university known for that kind of thing, have a retail district that focuses on local or eclectic shopping, etc.

        There is a local art gallery and two local ceramics shops within five miles of me, and I’m not in a big city or a tourist spot… we just have a small town locally that is revitalizing their main street business district by offering attractive terms to small businesses.

      3. Peanut Hamper*

        You can also put this work for sale online. Might be a good option if your area is dependent on summer tourists for a lot of its annual income.

      4. MaryP*

        All the art and framing stores around me have closed in the past few years. The only survivors are the bigger chains and the ones that sell mostly online with minimal retail presence, or the very few that have been able to be well established in the super rich areas where buying local art is a competitive sport on one-upmanship.

    2. marmalade*

      There could be a community college entrepreneur class aimed at lifelong learners that you could take to get a boost of confidence in your business plan!

    3. Valancy Snaith*

      I’d say the missing piece is do you have retail management experience? The parts that you’ve mentioned (financing, business plans, taxes) are excellent, but you’ll need to hire at least a few people and manage them, which is where the retail management piece will come in. Additionally, do you have a solid marketing plan, including social media? I’ve watched a couple shops like this open and close fairly quickly, and usually it’s due to an owner who doesn’t fully realize what retail entails.

    4. A business librarian*

      As a librarian who supports entrepreneurs and small business owners in my community, it sounds to me like you’ve done far more ‘official’ training and planning work than many clients I meet with! You’ve taken classes, done research, and more, which is way far ahead of many folks who have an idea for a business. If you want to talk with a small business consultant for free or low-cost, find your area’s local Small Business Development Center (also called Small Business Centers) and you can meet with business counselors for info and support. You could also chat to your local public librarians who could help connect you to resources in your community. Local governments love economic development! As do many universities these days.

      The most important qualities in an entrepreneur, to me at least, are persistence, curiosity, and lower risk aversion :)

      I’m cheering for you from across the internet if you decide to move forward!

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*

        I was thinking the same thing! I’ve met plenty of ‘real business owners’ who haven’t put in a quarter of the work you have.

    5. MourningStar*

      I have always asked people who are interested in this type of small business (bookshop, cafe, restaurant, brewery, art store), “what do you want your day to day to look like?”. Because many picture themselves in their space enjoying the atmostphere, having good conversations with the clientel and repeat customers, and loving their lives. My response to that is always “that’s a manager postion – not an owner”.

      You sound like you have a better understanding – you have the law and tax classes, and you’ve made the business plan. I would encourage you to ask yourself the above question – and if your dream day to day is about hustle and long hours and stress – but *for your own business*, then maybe this is for you! Good luck!!

    6. kina lillet*

      No, you’re not insane to consider it at all. The education isn’t the issue; sounds like you’re well prepared to do it. You just have to take the plunge and be prepared for it to fail, as many shops do, through no fault of your own.

    7. Linda*

      The short answer is no, that’s not insane. Why not contact a few small businesses in your area and ask the owners about what education and training they had, what ended up being useful and what didn’t?

    8. Janeric*

      You could get your feet wet/figure out what the market likes via doing Etsy/pop-ups/craft fairs — and then see if there are any spots where you need to learn more or hire someone to cover?

      1. WestsideStory*

        This is an excellent suggestion- you need to find out more about what people will buy, before considering what artists want to sell.

    9. DisneyChannelThis*

      I don’t think its a question of formal training vs no formal training. I think it’s an issue of is the product sell able.

      I think the market for that sort of store is extremely niche. Most artists sell their own art online, so you can’t expect online sales to boost it the way online sales have boosted other retail ventures. In person art gallery style sales, you’d be getting a percentage or a flat fee per sale so it would depend a ton on foot traffic. When people have tight budgets (like say our current economy with rising grocery costs) one of the first things to go are luxuries, like buying unique art from little galleries.

      I like the other commenters suggestion of trying to get a manager position at one of these places. You’d get to do the work without having to bankrupt your own life if it goes south.

      1. Tio*

        Yeah, this is where I came down. Has anything like this been done? Is this a high traffic area where you have a lot of people in and out (i.e. tourist area?) Collaborations with other galleries in other areas to trade off showings?

        Your business plan needs to cover this if it doesn’t already. Worst case? You fail and lose a year’s rent or so. Can you cover that? If so, give it a go.

    10. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      This is pretty outside my wheelhouse so take this with a grain of salt! I read an article aimed at folks who want to open coffee shops, as that’s a common “wouldn’t it be nice” idea. The advice was to get a job at a coffee shop, see what it’s like to be inside the business and if the dream holds up. What if you worked in an arts retail shop for a bit to see what the day to day feels like? You could do that part time and not give up your day job.

    11. Somehow_I_Manage*

      I think the actual running of the business is fairly straightforward. The only question is whether the business is viable and you have an adequate plan for finances and risk management.

      If you’re looking to ease in, I suggest you set up an LLC and open a booth at the Farmer’s Market. Do it part time, get organized, prove viability, and once your ducks are in a row, go ahead and hang a shingle.

    12. Generic Name*

      I think the vast majority of people who start businesses have zero official training. Shit, some of them don’t even have college degrees in what their business focuses on! So I wouldn’t let that stop you.

    13. danmei kid*

      To me the issue is not whether you can successfully start and run a business, but whether the business you’re thinking about is viable. Of course understanding financials and all that is important but a market analysis of whether or not this specific business has enough potential customers to rely solely on brick & mortar sales in your area, enough so to support not only you & your family but also the clients who sell through you, is the piece you didn’t mention. There are always people you can hire even part time to help you with taxes, sales, marketing, legal issues, etc. What you cannot hire, are customers to come in and buy what you’re selling. Are there already successful shops doing this (your competition)? Have there been shops that have tried and failed? Has no one ever tried – and if so, is that because there is not enough customer base to make the business a likely success? Whether you have business training or not, is something that can be overcome. Whether the products you want to offer are actually saleable in your locale, is not.

    14. Jinni*

      Is there a way to start this online? The small art dealers I know went online during Covid but have kept that up since and only a few have re-opened those spaces.

      Obviously they had a following our clientele before the pandemic, but is there a way to build that wit’s a pop-up shop or something along those lines.

      A few friends have gone that route. (The caveat is that I’m in LA and it’s an affordable way to get visibility without ongoing rent for a nascent idea).

  6. Muffy Crosswire*

    For those who have had bosses younger than them, how was it? There’s a role I’m interested in, where the hiring manager is about 5 years younger than me (she’s around 30 and I’m 35 for reference). In our industry, 5 years extra experience is a ton. However, she has a ton of management experience and she answered all my management situational questions well. I’ve had poor experiences with inexperienced and insecure managers, but many of those horrible managers were in their 30s to 40s, so I don’t necessarily think it’s age related. The best manager I ever had was about 30/31 (when I was in my 20s). The main things I’d be concerned about are being micromanaged, where the manager isn’t open to testing new things, and where they try to do my job instead of letting me do it.

    1. techie*

      Given what you’ve said—no red flags, experience, has answered your questions—I would go for it.

      My current boss (of 2.5 years) is a year younger than me. There are some ways in which our relationship is more like peers, and I have a LOT of autonomy (partly due to my overall seniority in the company, too) but ultimately he’s not afraid to say “this is the decision” and I understand and respect that. Overall, it’s the best working relationship I’ve ever had with a boss.

      I’m also 2-3 years younger than a couple of my reports and while I’m obviously biased, I don’t think that’s impacted our relationship at all. They give me great reviews, have said nice things unprompted to the higher ups, etc.

      So—I think as long as the person passes the vibe check and you’re otherwise excited about the job, go for it.

      1. MacGillicuddy*

        A boss who is a year younger than you is basically the same age as you. You are so close in age that your situation doesn’t remotely qualify as working for a boss that’s younger than you.

    2. ThatGirl*

      My previous manager was about 8 years younger than me, and it was never an issue. If she’s a good manager, she’s a good manager – vet her like you would anyone, and trust your instincts. The kinds of things you’re worried about aren’t tied to age.

    3. Justin*

      I would simply ask about that (politely) during an interview process, what is your management style?

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      I’ve had a number of bosses younger than I am, and they’ve honestly been the best bosses I’ve had. I’m Gen X’er, and my current boss is a Millennial much younger than I am, and she’s excellent.

    5. Pivottt!*

      I was worried about this in my new role because my manager is 8 or so years younger than I am, but she’s great! She respects my experience (in another field), and we have a great relationship. Age isn’t as much a factor as good management skills, imo.

      1. Be Gneiss*

        This is my current experience. Turns out I’m older than everyone in my department, and I came from a role where I had a broad range of responsibilities where now it is much more focused in one area. I’m actually loving it. He has a great management style. Very hands off/big picture/let me know if you get stuck and I’ll help style, and I get asked for input on issues or projects that are outside my scope, but are in areas where I have previous experience.
        I was more weirded out that my doctor is younger than me…but that’s pretty much how it works when you get older.

    6. amoeba*

      I mean, the older we get, the more likely this is to happen, right?

      Straight from university, I might see a potential issue. But over 30 and with management experience – wouldn’t give it a second thought.

    7. Anony with Experience*

      This is a great question as I just moved into a role due to re-org of the larger group where I will directly report to someone younger than me for the first time in my career of 20+ years. It’s humbling for sure to know you’re not on the same trajectory as I’ve managed a number of people older than I for some years now.

      I fully recognize what my new boss has to offer and even though less in years’ of “experience”, they have had different experiences that support what our team does and also good skills to navigate cross-functionally. With my advanced age (but aren’t the 40’s the new 30’s?) I hope my new boss sees me as the seasoned professional that I am and will support me as I would like.

    8. Observer*

      <i. The main things I’d be concerned about are being micromanaged, where the manager isn’t open to testing new things, and where they try to do my job instead of letting me do it.

      Whoa. Back up a bit. These are legitimate general issues. But what makes you think that this would have anything to do with age in general, or an age difference?

      If there is anything in the process that gives you real reason to believe that she might be that way, I’d pay a lot of attention to that. But if it’s just because she a few years younger with a different set of experiences (ie management focused), then you really don’t want to make a decision based on that.

      1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

        Yep–age has nothing to do with leadership style or openness to new ideas.

    9. Quality Girl*

      My boss is about 5-8 years younger than me and she’s great. I’d say look at their personality and character rather than their age.

    10. LeftAcademia*

      My boss is ten years younger and the best boss I ever had. He shields me from work office politics. He is a better manager, I am a better subject matter expert.

      1. Angstrom*

        That’s a key point. Managing is a specific skill. I’m delighted to have someone else do it, and will happily follow when competently led. I haven’t seen age be a consistent factor in management skill.

    11. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m curious – if your concern is being micromanaged or a manager “working over” you, why are you leading off by asking about bosses of younger age? I’m not really seeing the connection.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        There is one person on my team of 12 who is younger than me (by approximately a year and a half), and most of the rest are 10+ years older. But I just got the best engagement scores from my team in our division. So while I’ve never had a boss younger than me, it seems to work okay for my team.

    12. Pocket Mouse*

      I had a boss younger than me, with around the same ages and age gap. She was the best boss I’ve ever had: warm and welcoming, understood and respected the value I brought to the team, advocated and stood up for me, and handled things well when I needed a bit of flexibility and grace for a time. I was even one of her earliest reports. The only catch was related to her personal relationships—both friendships and romantic relationships in and outside the office—where she could have approached a handful of conversations a little more professionally.

    13. Anne of Green Gables*

      I agree with other commenters here that tying this to age is not great. It’s more about the manager themselves. Sounds like the poor managers in your past were also inexperienced, which is not necessarily the same as young.

      I have a good relationship with my direct reports and many of them, past and present, have told me I’m the best boss they’ve had. Roughly half are older than I am (by at least 10 years) and the other half are younger.

    14. Some words*

      I’m 60, so having a boss older than me is going to become more rare. The age difference would only be an issue if I made it one, or the boss made it one. So far it’s always been a complete non-issue.

      You may want to examine your assumptions about age (and workplace diversity in general). This question is no different to me than if someone had asked “what’s it like working for a woman/POC/Jew/immigrant?”

      1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        Exactly. Some of my worst bosses were my age or older. The best ones were quite a bit younger. The LW is really making strange age-based assumptions.

      2. BlackBelt Jones*

        I hear you!
        I’m 61, and not really expecting an older boss, at this point.

        My previous boss was 10 years younger. The colleague next closest in age was almost 20 years younger, and the remaining colleagues were approximately 30 years younger. I was older than their parents, for Pete’s sake!

        I don’t know my current boss’s age, but I suspect that she’s at least 20 years younger. I’ve been on this job for less than 6 months.

        We can’t all be born in the same year, and *someone* has to be the oldest person in the room!

    15. Prospect gone bad*

      I had a mediocre experience. When I was 33 and 34 I had a boss that was a year younger than me. All I could really go to him for was time off requests and “hey can you approve this” and to get a sympathetic ear

      They eventually transferred me to a new boss that was in his 50s and that was awesome, he knew all the technical stuff in addition to being able to handle the interpersonal stuff.

      I know the standard answer is gonna be not to care about it, and to say you get along with everyone, but the truth is that sometimes a lack of experience is indeed an issue.

      1. Observer*

        What makes you think that the issue for your former boss was lack of experience? And what makes you think that two additional years would have made a significant enough difference in his experience level to help?

        The reason for the standard answer is that it is TRUE. The simple fact that someone is younger than their report does not at all correlate with how well they manage their report for the most part. Even just being youngish doesn’t really tell you much, given that manager DOES have relevant management experience.

        The fact that you had ONE bad manager who happened to be a whole year younger than you doesn’t mean that it’s sensible to assume that this is actually a red flag.

        1. Prospect Gone Bad*

          You’re asking me if their lack of experience really means lack of experience. That company sold and resold lots of technical equipment, older people lived through the development and sales and servicing of legacy products and had a much better idea of what could be produced with what material, for roughly how much, how much effort it took to maintain, what equipment worked and connected with other equipment. It’s possible someone works 14 hours a day to cram 30 years of experience in their heads but that definitely would not be an assumption I’d make.

          Older boss would know a samsung X was not compatible with a customer’s Honeywell Y system

          Young boss would just say “well I support you’re efforts to find out if it will work.” Supportive but completely unhelpful

          It also led to the the whole “how can you rate me if you don’t know what exactly we do” conundrum

          1. Some words*

            And none of this sounds like it has to do with age or experience, but rather management style (as in, lazy and unmotivated to learn more than absolutely necessary).

            1. Prospect Gone Bad*

              No, I literally just said it has to do with experience. I literally just said they hadn’t lived through pretty big developments that gave people technical information that was most of the job. It’s like asking someone who is 35 what the 70s were like. They can cobble together a response based on what they say on reruns but I’d rather just speak to someone who’s over 55!

              I get the feeling that people here are treated “young manager in a stretch role” as a protected class, but it’s really not. And yes, experience matters.

              Overall, I’m very confused. All week there are letters with people complaining about their bosses being promoted for no reason, and now we’re defending people potentially prematurely into management.

              You didn’t ask but it’s relevant, the manager at this past company sat next to the CEO in a very fragmented company. Many other people did great work but were not visible at all. My former boss would ask a probing question and get accolades for being so smart, not realizing everyone thought at this level. It wasn’t fair and I don’t condone running a company like that!

    16. RagingADHD*

      I have never seen any correlation between a manager’s age relative to mine, and the quality of their management.

    17. cncx*

      The worst, most insecure, micromanaging boss I ever had was 59 to my 43. The best boss I ever had, who I stayed with ten years, is three years younger than me. I think people can become better managers with experience, and I also think certain personality types will always be at least decent. What made my best boss good was he had worked his way up to management and knew what my work day looked like; what made my worst boss bad is he was a SME who should have never been a people manager because he never learned the big picture operationally, plus he was a jerk about what little he did know.

    18. Qwerty*

      I don’t see how age is relevant. Do you want a manager who is experienced at managing or do you want to be managed by someone who is just a really experienced IC that got direct reports handed to her?

      Often good managers are not the most experienced or best at being an IC. The top notch ICs lost that knowledge/experience once they switch to managers anyway because they have to focus on their management skills. The job of the manager is to run the team and make the best use of everyone’s skillsets.

      The worst managers I’ve had were all at least 10yrs older than me, so I doubt age is really a predicter of anything

    19. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I think you’re equating age to management ability/style. Age has nothing to do with it, and the fact that you’re even thinking it isn’t helpful. The older you get, the higher the likelihood that your managers/boss will be younger than you.

      Ask the questions and evaluate for management style and ability. Leave their age out of it.

    20. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      Two of your specific worries are about being micromanaged or them taking over your job, but age has nothing to do with management style. Another is not being open to trying new thigs, which I’m here to tell you is defibetly not age or experience related.

      Your question is rooted in outdated ideas that seniority or age makes someone good at their job. You really answered the question yourself when you said :I don’t necessarily think it’s age related.” If you thought their answers to the leadership questions were good, set your ageism/antiquated idea aside and accept the job if it’s offered. You’d be surprised at what a good boss, regardless of their age in relation to their team, can provide. :)

    21. Generic Name*

      My current boss is 3 or 4 years younger than me. He’s a great boss. While I have more niche technical experience than him, he’s way above and beyond me in terms of program management and general management experience and just plain ability.

    22. Mockingjay*

      My supervisor is 20+ years younger than me. She was a former teammate; I actually recommended her to my grandboss. (I purposely avoided the managerial track.)

      She runs the team of tech writers who received assignments from a pool. I’m an outlier; as the most experienced I work on a complex dedicated project. I act as a mentor and assist in training the more junior staff, while she very capably manages staffing, evals, work resources, etc. It’s a win-win. She has excellent people skills and I’ve asked her on several occasions for help in communicating with difficult customers.

      It’s a little trickier when you come in as the new person. If you take the job, let her know you are happy to offer your skills in X and go from there.

    23. Water Everywhere*

      In my experience I haven’t found any real correlation between age and ability to manage people successfully. Case in point: my current manager joined the company last year and is far & away better at the job and at managing than my previous boss. I am old enough to be their parent (previous boss was age-wise a peer).

      Your potential boss sounds like she has a good approach to management. Do you have the opportunity to ask more questions about her management style with regards to being open to ideas from staff and what kind of involvement she wants to have in the day-to-day work of her team?

    24. LondonLady*

      My line manager is 20 years younger than me and one of the best bosses I have had. It’s all about mutual respect and a positive team culture.

      As one of my fellow workplace oldies once said, at some point, most of us will end up working for someone younger. Younger and bright is OK. Younger and nice is OK. Younger and stupid and/or nasty is not OK. In other words, the age is not the most important thing.

    25. Tio*

      One of my best bosses was 8 years younger than me (and I’m only in my 30s). Similarly, I’ve managed people who were easily 10+ years older than me. 5 years doesn’t seem that much to me.

    26. Squiggle*

      As a person who has finally crossed 50 and gone into the age where *most* of my co-workers are now younger than me, including my bosses, I hope to be around in 20 years to find out from you if your perspective on 5 years being that much younger, has changed. I am about to get a new VP who is technically young enough to be my kid (19 years younger). I remember when I thought 5 years was a big gap ……

    27. irene adler*

      At the other end of the spectrum, I made it a point to hire lab techs older than me. This worked out the best for me. Always worked well together as I know they were able to handle a lot of autonomy.

    28. MaryLoo*

      I read the poster’s opening line thinking “good discussion question” but then when I saw the ages were 30 and 35 I had a bit of eye-rolling and a laugh.

      Some of the commenters talked about having bosses that were 1 or 2 or even 5 years older, and my thoughts were “these people are the same age!” Differences of that few years are meaningless unless we’re talking about an 18 year old and a 23 year old, because their life experiences are likely to be very different. But 5 years between 30 and 35? Give me a break.
      The job history and management experience of the manager is more important.

      And I agree with the posters who say this is a bit of ageism. Anyone who is over 40 (or over 50, etc) or who has changed careers mid-life is going to have managers younger than they are.

      And age difference to me is well over the 15-year difference range. “Three years older than me” is not an age difference.

    29. Tricksie*

      From the other perspective, I’ve been the boss of people up to 30 years older than me (and 25 years younger than me) and it’s never been an issue for me or for them. I think it depends much more on leadership style and management style than age. If it seems like she’d be good to work with, don’t give it a second thought!

    30. pumpkin*

      I think unless you harbour strong age-related opinions on people, it wouldn’t be an issue? It would only be a problem if you had trouble taking direction from her or trusting her opinion. And honestly if I was to generalise, I’d be more confident that a younger boss would be open to new things and have a less micromanage-y style than an older one.

    31. allathian*

      My current boss, Elizabeth, is great, and she’s about 7 or 8 years younger than I am. Elizabeth had about 5 years of previous management experience before she started working for us. Granted, I’m 50, so she’s in her early 40s.

      My previous boss, Josephine, was almost exactly a decade younger than I am, and it was also her first job as a manager. I thought Josephine was a really great manager in spite of her inexperience, because she was willing to learn, never tried to micromanage her employees, while at the same time having the sort of authority that seems to come naturally to some of the best managers. She was confident without being arrogant, while at the same time being open to feedback from her reports, which is a rare combination. At first I was very disappointed that she didn’t get the job permanently. Josephine was a peer who got promoted as an interim manager when our ex-manager Mary left for a temporary position at a sister organization, but when Mary declined to return and decided to retire instead, the job had to be posted (government bureaucracy). Josephine went to another sister organization for 18 months, and now she’s back working as a team lead.

      Out of those three, Mary was by far the least competent, even though she was the oldest. Granted, she’d always worked as an IC until she got promoted to manager about 10 years ago. Her biggest fault was that she wanted too much to be liked by her reports to be an effective manager. For example, when there wasn’t enough money in the budget to give merit raises to her employees, she couldn’t let her disappointed employees manage their feelings disappointment in peace, instead we had to try and manage her feelings of disappointment instead.

      But even Mary was a better manager than Ursula, who originally hired me. She was a by-the-book task-oriented person, who was also a micromanager even when she had no real understanding for the work I and my then-coworker did. She had very little understanding for the human needs of her employees, we were just cogs in the machine to her. She’s about 10 years older than I am. About ten years ago we had an organizational reform, where a lot of middle managers were demoted to senior ICs with no reports. Ursula’s much nicer to work with now that she’s an internal customer, management really wasn’t her forte. Of course, I’ve also grown a lot as an employee in the years since then, and our organization as a whole is much more flexible, too.

  7. Rita*

    I’d love to hear stories about a supervisor you had who was a suck-up to upper management! My new supervisor is incompetent, but is such a suck up and “yes” man to leadership, so it would be helpful to hear what others have experience from this

    1. A Manager for Now*

      My most recent supervisor was somebody who was a “yes” man, flatterer to leadership, and (worst in my opinion) person who would paint over everything to make it rosier.

      Things I struggled with that may help prepare you:
      – Constant shifting priorities. Saying “yes” to everybody above him meant daily being asked to work on something new. I had to establish my own priorities and get comfortable firmly pushing back with “I am currently focused on closing out A and B by the end of the week. Which would you like me to stop to work on New Initiative C?” or “I need to accomplish X by Thursday. I can start on Y once that’s done.”

      – Trying to make things look better than they are. When metrics were red, we were late on a project (see shifting priorities above), or we had to tell somebody “no,” I had to be the bad-news-bearer a lot of the time. Knowing how to say in front of leadership, “Our numbers are behind by Z, we plan to resolve this by doing Y. What we need to accomplish that is X support.” was critical, because mostly our leadership needed an accurate picture and to know what our plan was in order to get us what we needed. Sometimes this meant directly following a sentence from my boss with, “Actually, that number looks like…” I work in Quality in a regulated field, so it’s necessary to be accurate in reviews. YMMV on needing to correct your boss in front of others.

      – Task-Managing my team. This may-or-may-not apply to you if you are also managing or in a mentorship type role, but for me, my boss would go around me to give work to my direct reports, which sure on the surface seems like his prerogative, but it was usually stuff he should have been doing (above my team’s authority to do). He also would not pay attention during their report outs, and then ask them for extremely detailed updates in the middle of the work day. Establishing consistent, clear direction to them on what was and was not their work was key. I never figured out how to avoid his lack of attention, but I did try writing out updates weekly, holding one-on-ones about both my work and my reports work, and asking him questions during report out meetings to try to bring his attention back to the speaker.

      Good luck!

      1. cubone*

        This is incredibly accurate and describes exactly my own experience. Phenomenal advice of the things to be wary of and how to deal with them. I wish I’d heard this then!

      2. ONFM*

        This is really great advice – the only thing I would add is to make sure you are regularly recording all of the things listed above in writing (via email) – the flip side of a “yes man” is usually that he will sacrifice everyone else to save himself, in my experience.

      3. Longtime Lurker*

        All of this. But a lot depends on the grandboss and others at that level (and above). If they start to recognize you as the “Actually….” truth teller, your path smooths out somewhat. Or you get the awkward direct calls from the grandboss, and have to work around the boss….

    2. Ormond Sackler*

      I had a manager once whose whole thing was desperately sucking up to the company owner. Once the owner said a pretty mundane thing along the lines of “We do what we do” during a meeting, so the manager printed out 35 copies of what owner said, carefully crediting it to the owner, and put it on every single person’s desk. The guy was actually fairly competent but the owner would still humiliate him in front of the whole company on a weekly basis.

    3. cubone*

      Oh boy, I’m not sure if my experiences will be valuable for learning or just some hilarious stories. I reported to a boss who was a huge suck-up (and just an incredibly insecure person). It didn’t help that she reported directly to the CEO, who looooved yes-people and was fickle with her support and acknowledgment (a perfect storm).

      My favorite stories (/nightmares) were:

      1) CEO once made an off-hand comment that we should contact Big Internationally Recognized Billionaire (who does not live in our country, or do work aligned with ours) because they tweeted ONCE on a similar topic to our work. Boss made our team of 3 spend a whole day searching for the Billionaire’s personal contact info. When we couldn’t find their personal info and only business contacts, Boss sent it to CEO (with us all cc’d), apologizing profusely that we failed (CEO never acknowledged this email)

      2) Boss got the CEO in office secret Santa and in was the only thing she spoke about for weeks. WEEKS. A constant stream of: “do you think [CEO] would like this?? What about this??”. Even in conversations about what people were doing that weekend, she’d insert it again! Like “oh, I’ll be going to the mall, I actually have the CEO for secret Santa, so a lot of pressure hahahahahaha!”

      The gift limit was $25 and they did gift opening in front of everyone at a holiday lunch. CEO opened an extravagantly packaged bottle of minimum $100 champagne from my boss…. Who later admitted to our team that she also gave the CEO another gift of TIFFANY JEWELRY, but did so privately because she “didn’t want anyone to think I was sucking up or something”.

      .. maybe this will at least make your boss seem more sane in comparison?

    4. A Simple Narwhal*

      Long story short: get out while the gettin’s good

      At my last job I thought I had a great boss. Turns out she was great as long as there was no stress or pressure from above. And for a few years we were a mostly autonomous department, so we could operate as we saw fit and she was great to work for. Then the company was acquired and everything we did was now under scrutiny. She desperately wanted to look good to upper management and threw all of her subordinates under the bus at every possible turn. She wanted us to bill less hours but get more work done (at the same or higher quality), nothing was ever done good enough anymore, priorities were constantly changing and you were berated if you focused on a priority that she didn’t tell you was no longer a priority (“you should have known!”), etc. She could never be pleased and team successes were solely her successes, any team mistakes were yours alone and she was blameless.

      So yea, I would highly recommend getting out while you can, even if things aren’t necessarily bad right now. Because it’s only a matter of time before something happens and you don’t want to work for a boss you know will never stand up for you and will throw you under the bus if they had to.

    5. Be kind, rewind*

      Probably won’t be your manager for long. These types tend to get promoted or moved to other leadership roles quickly.

    6. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      I have no advice, merely commiseration.

      My most previous supervisor, whose job I was recently hired into, was this way. Totally disorganized (and was irritated when a leadership training “didn’t account for people who didn’t need to use to do lists like [him]”), would accuse us of forgetting to complete things that he was supposed to do, had meetings on the same topic 2-3 times because he’d forget we’d discussed thing already, rude and lashed out when he was nervous/afraid, and was an upper management pet.

      In a co-worker’s words: “I’ve never been so happy to see a bad boss promoted!”

      1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

        Tangentially, I’ve had upwards of 20 people in a month tell me–either outright or not-so-subtly imply–that they were thrilled I was in this role now instead of him. And my co-worker’s statement was followed by: “I can’t wait to have you as a boss instead!”

        So it sucks, but only for a short time (mine was just over 2 years) if you’re lucky.

    7. Chilipepper Attitude*

      I had one who was vindictive and kissed up/kicked down. That was a nightmare.
      I had one who just wanted to please the bosses and was really their puppet tho kind to us. That was a nightmare too.

    8. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

      See if there are any uber-specific rules about reimbursements for meals. At my company, you are only allowed a maximum of $52 per day for meals. We can expense alcohol, but only a max of 2 drinks per person, and only with a meal. If I want a drink in the airport bar to kill time before my plane, I’m on my own for that.

    9. Honor Harrington*

      They can be horrible to work for, but they can also be really easy to manipulate, so long as you phrase it right.

      Got a risk you are concerned about? “Mr. Kiss up, I’m concerned about how SuperBoss will react if the kittens get in the yarn. Are you ok if I ship the kittens to Utah and glue the yarn to the ceiling? You know SuperBoss loves ceiling art.”

      Or

      “Mr. Kiss Up, what was up with that weird look SuperBoss gave you when you talked about working this weekend. I heard there was a big article in the NY Times about leadership having to model work life balance. Do you think SuperBoss read it?”

      If you make everything about how SuperBoss looks at things, you can get alot done.

    10. Anon-Ish*

      My previous director was like this but it ended up shooting him in the foot. To make a very long story short, he grossly overpromised to customers and partners, didn’t want to alienate staff so never actually could get anyone to do anything, and also, it turned out, lied to higher ups to make things look rosier than they were. His whole career crashed and burned over the course of about a year when the weird house of cards he’d built came crashing down.

      Also, turns out that way before that, everyone thought he was pretty suspect because the high high ups saw through his empty promises and sucking up.

  8. Watry*

    Hiring managers, for goodness sake please have an onboarding/training plan for your new hires, even/especially if it’s a new position. *sigh*

  9. Mary Poppins*

    I’m a recent grad who just got approved to go on a work trip for the first time. What tips do you all have for work travel? I don’t even know better questions to ask because I’m in the “don’t know what I don’t know” situation

    1. ThatGirl*

      If you can get a company credit card before you go, do it. Either way, familiarize yourself with what you can expense and what you can’t, what the limits are, all that stuff.

      1. debbietrash*

        Hard second on understanding what is and is not allowed for expensing. Get familiar with your workplace policies, know whether you need itemized receipts (you probably will), and understand what your meal budget/allowance is, if relevant. As someone who processes reimbursement claims I find it’s best to understand what your policies are beforehand so that you’re not unexpectedly paying out of pocket for something you thought would be covered.
        Enjoy your work trip!

        1. Qwerty*

          Also bring a couple envelopes or ziploc bags for storing all your receipts in. I put them in a specific zipper pocket of my purse during the day and at night transfer them to a main envelope. Otherwise you will lose them or they’ll get too crumpled to read.

          If your expense software has an app, get that installed before the trip so you can add expenses as they crop up

          1. Luca*

            Yes. If you have an assistant who has to do your expense report, this will vastly simplify the task for them.

          2. Foxgloves*

            Also take pictures of receipts on your phone! Then if you do end up losing one/ all of them, you still have a record.

          3. WFH lady*

            This! Even though my company buys my plane tickets when I travel for work, and I clearly go on the work trips and return, I still have to submit my boarding passes along with any other receipts. Your company likely has a travel SOP that outlines everything they want you to know – that’s where I would start and then ask specific questions if anything isn’t clear.

            1. Pine Tree*

              I save every receipt, boarding pass, etc. Even if one admin tells you that you don’t need it, SAVE IT. I’ve been burned before by advice from one admin that turned out to be wrong/old info. Always easier to keep everything and then not need it then to deal with a bunch of missing receipt forms with explanations such as “I didn’t think I needed this receipt”.

        2. tamarack etc.*

          Yes, exactly that. Be super clear beforehand, then have a process of collecting any receipts you need to keep (like, a large envelope in your luggage). And do the expense report right after returning.

          Also, think through how the big expenses (hotel, transportation, travel, parking, …) are supposed to be handled, and if any of them are supposed to be pre-paid by you, ask if there’s a way that they can be paid directly by the company. Another question to ask is whether the company works with a travel agent on booking flights. And *if* you have to pre-pay any of the big ones, make sure you’re comfortable with the time you’re supposed to hold the debt. If it goes on a credit card, and you’d need to sit on it long enough to incur fees, push back gently.

          Other than that, travel for business isn’t complicated. You can normally be a notch more informally dressed while actually traveling than you would be at work, even if you travel with your boss. Oh, and don’t do anything that would get you into embarrassing trouble. That is, if you would be inclined to do something slightly risky or even illegal if you travel alone … better just not do it. Back when I lived in Europe before the rules around pot started to relax, there was always that one young co-worker who had a trip to the Netherlands and overdid it at the coffee shop, ended up in the ER or worse (got stopped and searched at the border, caused an accident…).

    2. MourningStar*

      Hey! My mother would tell you to “bring extra underwear!”, haha. But it is a good maxim to follow. I would say to ask about the dress code, pack flexible footwear, and travel in the clothing that you can wear to work. It helps prevent needing to pack another outfit. I’ve traveled in jeans for comfort but switched them out in the bathroom for dress slacks prior to my meeting.

      Oh – and lastly, always always always leave time for delays. Construction, airplane delays, etc.

      and super lastly – discuss with your company their reimbursement or pay structure for your travel PRIOR to travel. I like to pay for everything on my own credit card and then get reimbursed – but I did that when I worked at a company I trusted to reimburse me promptly. I did NOT do that at a company that took 2 months to do reimbursements.

      Have fun!

      1. AnotherOne*

        yeah, i think the last thing is huge. my current job is really prompt with reimbursement. (and are really clear.)

        but i have a friend who worked someplace where reimbursements could take months and you would have minimally a few hundred dollars of reimbursements on your credit card.

        Not everyone has the cash to just pay that off each month while you wait for reimbursement.

    3. ariel*

      Have a convo with the admin who does the expense reports or supervises them, or at least your boss about what people typically spend and expectations. I found there were a lot of unwritten rules at MPOW.

    4. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      Find out what the expectations are around getting reimbursed BEFORE you go (or make any reservations). These can vary widely by industry and company, but where I used to work (government contracting) you had to have a screenshot of three hotels offered by the booking site we used, regardless of if you used them, to set up a “comparable” set in the event of an audit.

      Similarly, know whether you get a set amount for food/etc PER DAY or you need receipts.

      Find out what you need receipts for. Parking can be an issue in some cases, because often you don’t get any sort of receipt, but you can if you ask, etc.

      As with all travel, find out if you need to be aware of any sort of limitations (refundability, early/late check-in/check-out, etc.) or any requirements your office might have.

      Honestly, it can be super simple or super complicated depending on the company and type of trip. Best to ask your supervisor a general, “what’s the processes for this in our company” or see if you have instructions on any internal websites/documents.

      1. blabbity blah blah blah*

        I work for a government-related entity and you can’t submit receipts that have alcohol on them. So we usually ask waitstaff for two receipts each, one for our meal (which we submit for reimbursement) and one for alcohol, which is ours to pay. But our admins won’t even accept a receipt with alcohol on it, even if you’re not asking to reimbursed for that cost.

    5. I edit everything*

      Figure out a system for saving receipts, if you need to file expenses for reimbursement.
      What kind of work trip is it? I used to go to a conference every year where I would spend all day standing in the exhibit hall talking to people, so I had to make sure to give myself lots of down time in the evenings to recover from that.
      If it’s a convention center/hotel gathering kind of thing, take lip balm and a water bottle.
      If you’re traveling with people ask someone about expectations around eating together as a group, or if everyone scatters at the end of the day.

      1. amoeba*

        Haha, yeah. My “system” is basically “take a photo of every receipt I get and then throw it away”. It’s crude but it works! I’m sure I’d be out of a lot of money if I tried actually saving the physical things somewhere…

        1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

          Everywhere I’ve worked before my current job has required the original itemized receipt for every purchase, especially food. It’s been a shock not to have to keep the originals at my new job!

          1. amoeba*

            Oh, really, I didn’t know that was a thing! (Have only had a job where I get reimbursed for anything for the past two years…)

            It’s all digital for us, luckily (I mean, I believe the people handling the receipts are probably located in India, anyway, so guess anything else would be quite inconvenient…)

    6. Susan Calvin*

      1) Save receipts for everything
      2) Plan your outfits for maximum mix-and-matchability, in case you spill coffee on your pants the first day and have to adapt
      2a) depending on the length of the trip, find out if your hotel has laundry options
      2b) within the confines of the above, pack as lightly as possible and think about where your luggage is going to be stashed during the first and last day of the trip
      3) Figure out what the logistics of travel between hotel, work site, and any third sites (dinners etc) are – rental? Car pool? Subway?

      1. Pickles*

        These are great tips.
        Don’t check a bag, carry on everything.
        Bring/wear comfortable shoes, plus a pair of slippers or sandals to change into.
        Have a suitcase that locks, and lock it when it’s in your hotel room when you are not there. And don’t leave stuff out in your hotel room. Most housekeeping staff are honest but there is always the exception.

    7. Henry Division*

      Get firm confirmation on what and what can’t be expensed and save ALL your receipts. Try to keep to normal sleep routine as much as possible – it’s very tempting to go to all events, meet all the people, but make sure you rest as well.

      Research where you’re going to find some interesting local stuff (I like Atlas Obscura), but know that you’ll probably have time for 1 or 2 at most. Also this sounds weird, but I am TERRIBLE at feeding myself on company trips, so make a plan if you can, and I always pack snacks and breakfast.

    8. Ashley*

      Find out expectations about your regular work load while traveling. Do you have a company laptop you should take? How much evening work checking email is expected?
      If this is a routine trip that others in your office make ask them about what to expect on site.

    9. Rex Libris*

      Find out how you’re expected to count and document your work hours vs. your free hours, especially if you’re non-exempt.

      1. Robin Ellacott*

        Yes! And if it’s a conference type situation, find out what expectations are for what you attend. There are often meetings/presentations in the day and then social/networking dinners and such. Does the company expect you to attend these, or to only work a certain amount a day? Depending on how they’re paying you, this can get muddy quickly.

      2. blabbity blah blah blah*

        Second this. I’ve worked places where “choosing” to go to evening conference events was up to you, but could not be counted against yours hours. Which is silly, because sometimes it’s a formal part of the conference/event agenda and should count. Make sure you’re clear about whether travel time is considered work hours. And speak with your supervisor ahead of time so if you go over your hours (or are working part of the weekend by traveling to a site or from a site) you know how you can adjust hours.

    10. just another queer reader*

      My biggest advice is to find a coworker and ask them how business travel works at your company! If it’s a common destination, there’s probably a recommended hotel, etc.

      If you’re arranging your own travel, make sure you know how you’ll get around, such as from the airport to wherever you’ll be. (Rent a car? Uber/ Lyft?)

      For a weeklong trip, most people will bring a small carry on suitcase and a backpack/ briefcase/ purse as their personal item.

      When in public spaces like the airport be cognizant of confidentiality. For example don’t have your laptop out with confidential info. Managers at my company say that if they work in airports or on planes, they read up on industry news.

      This is a weird one but when I traveled for business I was eating out three meals a day, and I realized the portions were huge and I was overly full! Once I realized that I figured out how to order smaller portions so I wouldn’t waste food.

      Finally, business travel is super draining. You might think you want to see the area, but at least for me, going back to the hotel and having some alone time was what I wanted.

      Good luck!

    11. Observer*

      Also, if your company is tax exempt, find out if they will reimburse you for any sales tax that gets collected.

      One of the reasons we have a very strong anti “pay and get reimbursed” culture is because we are tax exempt and many of our funders absolutely forbid us to “waste” money on sales tax, even if it’s something someone had to purchase then get reimbursed.

    12. Snow Globe*

      This is kind of travel in general, not work-specific, but I didn’t think about this when I was a new grad. Bring cash, small bills, for tipping (if you are in the US). I remember taking a shuttle bus from the airport to the hotel with my boss, who pulled out some bills to tip the driver and I realized I had no cash, so he tipped for me as well. (This was reimbursable, it was just embarrassing for me.)

    13. Goddess47*

      Random thoughts… Some of this is standard travel safety — just because it’s work travel doesn’t mean you can let that slip…

      –have an emergency back-up plan. What do you do if/when weather delays your travel. What options do you have regarding a hotel/car/meals/etc.
      –at your own level of comfort, make sure someone knows where you are. It doesn’t have to be down to the minute but, esp if you’re traveling on your own, make sure you have someone who you can reach out to at any time
      –don’t do stupid! (Yes, that’s obvious, but I have to say it!) Keep the drinking, etc to a bare minimum. Drink alone in your hotel/room rather than with people you don’t know. Yes, you’re at a work event, but you don’t really know who these people are.
      –who can you call in a real emergency? Does your work have an emergency travel agency? Can you reach your boss in the evening, esp since it’s your first trip?
      –Get some sleep. It’s all fun and games until you’re nodding off in the keynote address. Whatever you did to pay attention in classes, translate to the work trip. Take notes, write down questions — do it on paper or on a mobile device.
      –If you’re alone and this is a conference, feel free to skip the entertainment if it doesn’t interest you. Get a meal alone or exercise or take a nap or call home.
      –let your usual contacts know you won’t be reachable during the day and maybe into the evening. You’re traveling on business and your time will be spent differently — you won’t have time to talk to family during your afternoon break or will be too tired to be online at night.
      –Do have fun! If you have evenings free, do reasonable tourist things on your own. The hotel folk will know what’s safe and do-able in the time you have free.
      –if you’re an omnivore, you’re relatively okay on food. If you’re picky, allergies, etc. be prepared that it will be awkward. If you’ve traveled on your own before, you should be aware, but if not, make sure to have granola bars, fruit, whatever on you when the lunch buffet turns out to be something you can’t/won’t eat. If this is a conference, there should have been a request for vegetarian/vegan/gluten-free/etc. and any decent conference will honor that. But be prepared to eat a lot of bland salads. Use those free times to find a good meal elsewhere.
      –wear comfortable clothes. There will be walking/standing that you probably don’t already do. Wear appropriate clothes but this isn’t a fashion show. No one will notice what you’re wearing, so wear the flat shoes. You can wear the same pair of black pants three times and no one will notice. Cuts down on the packing.
      –take an extra luggage tag if this is a conference, to put on the conference bag you will probably get. They all look alike and the luggage take will make your bag easier to identify. And think about carrying things. If you bring your laptop, can that go into the conference bag or the conference bag into your laptop carry-all? Keep your hands free.
      –make copies of all your important documentation and leave that in your room. (In the safe, if there is one. Or your locked luggage.) Driver’s license, passport, corp ID, etc.
      –I’m going to assume you’re female and tell you to clean out your purse or create a travel purse. Take out the majority of the ‘just in case’ stuff you carry around every day. Leave that stuff in the hotel with your luggage. You really won’t need it with you and, again, the less you have to carry, the easier everything will be.
      –if this is a work-work trip, keep your standard hours. There will be a push to ‘finish that report tonight for tomorrow’ but you’re entitled to down time. How important is whatever someone is asking you to do and can it wait? You’re not being paid extra salary to travel and you shouldn’t be expected to put in extraordinary hours. Sure, work a little later than normal, that’s probably why you were sent there, but don’t over-do it.

      Good luck!

      1. Imprudence*

        Pack sports gear. (Swimming costume, running kit). Then in the awkward gap between the day (work) and evening (eating with colleagues), you have the perfect excuse to absent yourself. And you will feel good too!

    14. Penny*

      If you’re flying, pack at least two day’s worth of outfits in your carry-on (this includes shoes). It is a real struggle to arrive in a city without your luggage and need to scramble for appropriate work clothing.

      Ask about a company credit card.

      Keep all itemized receipts.

      Read up on reimbursement policies (what’s your daily stipend for food, are there limits on alcohol, are you allowed to use Uber or is it taxi only.)

      Check the weather! I’ve made the mistake of dressing too warmly and feeling like I’m melting when I’m on location.

    15. MJ*

      Definitely ask your coworkers – framing it as “I’m new to this, what do I need to know?” is fine.

      If your company has a travel policy, read through it before going – but also check with someone if there are exception or changes you should be aware of.

      Clothing can make a big difference depending on the type of trip. If you are going to a conference and standing/walking around on a cement floor all day, comfortable shoes will be a must. If you are going to be sitting in lectures you might want a light shirt with a sweater/jacket to account for temperature fluctuations.

      If you are visiting a client, err on the side of more business-like outfits. Being seen as a bit over-dressed is usually better than being too casual – but find out what the dress code is. If the expectation is t-shirt and jeans, a three piece suit would be overkill, but a button down shirt and nice pants would be fine.

      And as someone else suggested, mix and match pieces are a good idea.

      1. MJ*

        Oh, and if you don’t get a company credit card but would find it difficult to pay for everything on your own card (or don’t have one), it is reasonable to ask about getting an advance to cover expenses.

        Typically you would sign for the cash, then submit receipts at the end of the trip and either repay any unused funds or (more likely) receive an expense payment to cover the rest of what you spent.

        There’s no shame in saying that you can’t fund company expenses yourself. In fact, I think there was a post here on that very topic. I’ll see if I can find and link it.

    16. Mandie*

      Definitely try to get a corporate credit card if you’re going to be traveling frequently. It’s a real hardship to charge an entire trip on your personal credit card and wait a month to get reimbursed, especially when you’re young and starting out. Book morning flights if at all possible, especially if you’re flying through any smaller airports. The later in the day, the more likely it is your flight could be canceled and you’ll be stuck in some random city (voice of experience right here). If at all possible, fit everything into carry-ons so you don’t have to mess with baggage claims or risk your stuff getting lost. And remember that you’re representing your company everywhere you go on the trip – so be polite and professional to everyone you encounter.

    17. Rick Tq*

      If this is a multi-day trip limit yourself to one drink each night. I don’t sleep well on a new bed in an strange room, adding alcohol on top of that made for very hard mornings the second and third days.

    18. Rainy*

      PAY THE EXTRA BAG FEE AND CHECK A BAG.

      Seriously. Don’t travel for business with just a carry-on. Your organization should pay the extra bag fee, whether up front or by reimbursement, and you’ll never be sorry you took your various products with you or had room for all the shoes you’ll need.

      1. Ama*

        Yes this. The only reason I ever don’t check a bag on a business trip is if I’m only going for one night and logistics will make it tricky to haul a rolly bag around all day.

        At this point businesses that expect their employees to travel should be building in the cost of checking a bag into the budget.

        Not to mention you get to avoid the stress of standing at the gate wondering if you’ll get on before they run out of carryon space. (The bag I carry on easily fits under the seat.)

      2. Jarissa*

        Adding to Rainy a whole lot of things that most people probably already know, but I learned the hard way:

        If you have access to those “luggage cube” organizers, use those. If your bag gets searched, whether by the TSA or by nefarious private interests, at least your stuff will probably be in functional condition on the other side. It is awkward to knock on the boss’s door and ask to skip the get-to-know-the-client meal because I have to wash the spilled shampoo off some of my stuff in the sink and iron everything I brought.

        Medication goes in your carry-on alongside all jewelry and at least one spare set of undergarments if you can’t fit a whole spare outfit. If they’re prescription meds, tuck in the pharmacy printout about the medication. If they’re OTC or vitamins, _bring the labeled package_ so it will take a really silly stretch of the imagination to suppose they are naughty substances. Rechargeable batteries go in the carry-on. At least one set of charging cables for your mobile device, including wall socket part, go in your carry-on if they won’t fit in your laptop bag.

        Pack at least one more set of footwear than will be on your feet during travel. Emergency shoe shopping because of a busted sole is always tough in an unfamiliar city. (And anyway, my dr insists that I never wear the same shoes two days in a row, but that might not apply to you.)

        In a torso-level pocket on your travel outfit, the higher the better, have a small container with a dose of emergency stomach medicine, a dose of your preferred daytime allergy medicine, a dose of your preferred OTC pain medicine, and space for your ticket and identification. Make sure that withdrawing one with only one hand will not make everything go spilling.

        On a piece of plain cheap paper, in dark ink and your plainest handwriting or print, write out the initial of your personal name, your full last name, an address where someone who likes you will be home while you’re away (in case your luggage gets “temporarily lost” and the airline decides to ship it home to you, or in case the nefarious personal interests want to call up a buddy in your home town to visit your place while you’re away), and a more instantaneous contact option of either a phone number or email that does not hint at your afk identity too strongly. (This is a great place to use the same sort of email address you would use here on the Ask A Manager comment area.) That way, if someone finds your stuff they _can_ contact you quickly about it, but they _can’t_ pick you out of a crowd.

        Before you close up a suitcase for the start of the trip, take a photo of how it’s organized so you don’t wonder later how you got stuff to fit and let the blessed thing close properly. If you drive yourself to the airport or train station or bus station, take a photo or short video of your parking spot just before you walk away with enough identifying markers to figure out later where you parked.

        Tie a short length of yarn or cloth ribbon to one of the handles of your checked baggage in a bright pattern that does not match the suitcase. Really knot it on there. You’ll know exactly which one is yours at Baggage Claim without stress.

        Don’t rely on the alarm clock in the room!

    19. ENFP in Texas*

      In addition to keeping your receipts – make a note on the back of what they were for. “Taxi to/from”, “lunch at meeting”, etc. It makes it a lot easier to remember and itemize when you go to submit them for reimbursement.

    20. Prospect gone bad*

      You didn’t say what the trip is for, so you’re getting a bunch of generic travel advice. I’d be curious where you’re actually going, then we can give tailored advice. Is it a meeting? A general industry conference where you can just sit in the back?

      1. Mary Poppins*

        A meeting in another state! My boss and coworkers (not many, it’s a small team) are going as well so I won’t be fully alone. It is more time zones than I have ever dealt with before, so far in distance, but I won’t have to worry about international travel.

    21. Strict Extension*

      –Think in advance about when you might need cash and ask for it in advance from your company, if possible. Examples: Events with an open bar and a tip jar, sharing a taxi with a group, leaving a tip for the hotel housekeeping.
      –If this is a place you are interested in spending leisure time and the schedule makes sense, see if you can extend your stay. Lots of places would be fine with you flying out on Sunday evening instead of Friday as long as you pay for Friday and Saturdays lodging yourself.
      –Don’t forget your business cards.
      –If this is a conference or other industry event, it’s easy to get hyperfocused on learning and gathering concrete resources, but really some of the most beneficial aspects are personal connections you make to people who have common professional ground. You’d be surprised how even just a quick chat can lay groundwork for all sorts of things.

    22. Albert "Call Me Al" Ias*

      Make sure your company’s expense policy allows you to be reimbursed for extra guacamole.

    23. Chilipepper Attitude*

      Oddly I find that hotels will let you book on a company card but not pay on one if you do not have the physical card with you. So I had to “verify” the card before going. Mostly that has meant “faxing” a form that the person whose name is on the card has to sign. We don’t have a fax machine so we use an app that let’s us email a fax. Stupid process.

    24. AcademiaNut*

      One thing to check – what’s the procedure if your travel is disrupted? Can you book a new flight yourself, or should you go through the travel agent? What kind of flights are you allowed to book? (for example, we aren’t allowed to book business class, even if it’s cheaper than a last minute economy flight).

  10. Flowers*

    Does anyone do certain work tasks that they don’t really enjoy but just enjoy the appreciation they get for it? Am I destined to fail if the only reason I do something is for praise?

    People with my title and experience do ABCD. I wanted to move away from A B and C so I sought out a job to focus on D. Well, some time after I was hired, my job eventually turned into doing ABCD with an emphasis on C. 

    Tbh it’s not my favorite thing to do. The major thing that really keeps me going is that I get compliments and good feedback and praise.  In turn, that makes me seek out more of the same task by striking up conversations with higher ups/more visibility, thinking of ways to improve the whole process surrounding C, including asking those in my professional network outside of this job, etc. I also like the way my company handles C which is very different from how it was at my previous job, as well as the volume. 

    I get that not every job has to have passion; my entire career is something I “fell” into, there’s a small niche I was handed and I’m trusted to come up with a good outcome. I am not brilliant or passionate. What really drives me is that most people here hate doing C, and are happy to let me handle it and so I get the compliments. I just can’t help wondering if I’m “fake” or going to fail.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Hmm. I can’t think of anything I do *solely* for the praise, but my immediate reaction is that “fake” is not something you need to worry about at work. Your job is not to *be* genuinely enthusiastic, your job is to do the work and *seem* enthusiastic to the extent necessary to help things run smoothly.

      Think of it this way – if you replaced “compliments” with “money” and read over your post that way, that you just do this task for the sake of an external reward – would it be problematic or even unusual? I don’t think so. You’re motivated by positive feedback, that’s extremely normal and not a problem.

    2. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      There are people who are enthusiastic about their jobs, and then there’s the vast majority of people. There is nothing wrong with doing a job for money, for the social element, for enjoying solving the problem, for making an impact, for praise, or for whatever makes it worthwhile to YOU.

      The only way to be “fake” at work is to not do things you say you can/will do. Otherwise, it’s about getting stuff done, not how you feel about it.

      Frankly, I’m a bit jealous you have yourself this well figured out!

      1. MourningStar*

        Totally off topic, but man do I love Sandra Boynton – and your user name is my favorite book :)

        1. But Not the Hippopotamus*

          Thanks! I was trying for something I could search for and not get any random “hits” on the page… then there was a post about the book, and something else hippo related… I may need to try something else! :)

      2. Flowers*

        * Dwight shrute tearfully saying thank you gif * haha. I think a lot about myself in that sense and just becoming more comfortable with being honest with my weaknesses and playing up my strengths.

        Although tbf I do struggle with follow through – not intentionally but I also have a tendency to procrastinate or lose focus. It’s also that everything assigned to me is a “put it in your queue” unless there’s a hard/obvious deadline so I get to it when I get to it. I know I can come up with good ideas but following through is where I struggle – and I have mentioned this openly and the reception wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be (although we’ll see when it comes review time!)

    3. A Manager for Now*

      Nah, my whole career so far has been doing stuff I don’t hate (and some stuff I do!) because somebody tells me I’m good at it, that it’s valued/necessary, and that they pay me for.

      I think the “do what you’re passionate about” messaging can be really detrimental to people. Mostly, I think we’re all just getting by doing stuff that we tolerate because of capitalism.

      1. Zennish*

        This is the truth. Buying into the “do what you’re passionate about” meme is a good path to job dissatisfaction or bankruptcy the majority of the time. I’m a manager because “Buddhist Hermit” is much farther down the pay scale, and I have to eat.

    4. SeluciaMD*

      Well, I’d argue you aren’t faking it – you’re doing it! And you may not love doing C but you love the things that come with it (praise, feedback, etc.) and that’s totally valid. So if you are doing it well enough to get the kind of praise and feedback that keeps you wanting to do that and keep the cycle going, what is behind your fear about failing at it? Is it that you think that if you stop getting the feedback you won’t feel as motivated and are then afraid your performance will falter?

      I realize I’m reading between the lines a bit here but it sounds like maybe you are getting stuck on a moral judgement you are making against yourself. Either that it’s not OK to want to do things for praise or that liking that praise/feedback is somehow not…OK? Not a good enough reason to do a job? If that’s the case, I’d wager at least part of that is from our cultural norms around what it means to be committed to a job (in the US at least). Companies always want you to be “invested” and “passionate” about their work or their products or whatever because “we’re a family!” And they foster those feelings in us because it benefits them and often allows them to get away with not compensating people well enough (or making them feel like somehow working for money is bad, when really it’s THE WHOLE POINT) or getting us to work harder or getting more out of the employer/employee relationship than we do. I can imagine that if that’s your framing, doing this thing for praise alone – like doing a job “just” for the money – feels like somehow you are failing your company or failing at being a “good employee.”

      I realize there is a whole lot of speculation here but if any part of this resonates, please let yourself off the hook! You aren’t “faking”, you aren’t doing anything wrong, and you aren’t destined for failure. And if one day things change and you don’t get that same feedback or it doesn’t do for you what it once did in terms of motivation, well, so be it. Jobs change. The way we feel about our jobs change. That’s entirely normal and you can cross that bridge when you come to it. It will, in no way, mean you have failed.

      1. Flowers*

        Is it that you think that if you stop getting the feedback you won’t feel as motivated and are then afraid your performance will falter?
        Yes. Also I do feel like if I was working at a firm that exclusively does C, I wouldn’t enjoy it as much. It’s not that I think I’m smarter or better than anyone, every single person here is really smart and talented… it’s just that it’s a nice feeling being the “go-to” person (or on my way to being that!)

        I realize I’m reading between the lines a bit here but it sounds like maybe you are getting stuck on a moral judgement you are making against yourself. Either that it’s not OK to want to do things for praise or that liking that praise/feedback is somehow not…OK? Not a good enough reason to do a job? If that’s the case, I’d wager at least part of that is from our cultural norms around what it means to be committed to a job (in the US at least). Companies always want you to be “invested” and “passionate” about their work or their products or whatever because “we’re a family!” And they foster those feelings in us because it benefits them and often allows them to get away with not compensating people well enough (or making them feel like somehow working for money is bad, when really it’s THE WHOLE POINT) or getting us to work harder or getting more out of the employer/employee relationship than we do. I can imagine that if that’s your framing, doing this thing for praise alone – like doing a job “just” for the money – feels like somehow you are failing your company or failing at being a “good employee.”

        I think it’s coming from the realization that I have never had that internal motivation or attitude to do a good job. I’ve seen so many people, both posts here and IRL where they stay at bad jobs because “someone has to do the work.” and praise or any other external validation isn’t valid. Although now that I think about it — this is definitely something to bring up at my next therapy session!

        As for the “we’re a family” vibe – thankfully the company I work for doesn’t seem to be like that. In fact at one point, I was talking to my boss about a title change and he was the one who brought up that it’s more money – I had known it was more money but I hadn’t mentioned it for various reasons. But it was a nice surprise to hear him bring it up first. 

    5. Kez*

      I’m interested in how you’ve constructed this, because your actions would indicate to me someone who, if not enthusiastic about a particular task, feels pride in the way that it is done and the influence they have over the process. And that doesn’t sound “fake” at all to me!

      If you were miserably slogging through this task constantly, only ever perking up slightly when you received thanks or praise, I would say that might be a sign that balance is out of whack. But building visibility by engaging with leadership, improving the processes internally, and networking with others to better understand the variety of approaches that exist are all things I associate with someone who cares about what they’re doing and would reasonably be proud and happy to receive positive feedback on it.

      You said that you like the way your company handles C, and it sounds like you are getting something out of the work you’re doing. That sounds like someone who is succeeding and growing to me, so I wouldn’t worry too much.

      One note I should mention is that if your company is the ONLY place that handles this task well, you should make sure to always be complementing the time spent on C with work in A, B, and D since you want to be able to point to experience in all the areas if you plan to move to somewhere with less favorable practices around C. But it sounds like you’ve been keeping that in mind thus far, so keep it up and enjoy the praise and appreciation as the gift that it is!

    6. Overeducated*

      You sound like someone who’s less motivated by the specifics of the work tasks than how your work has an impact that is recognized and meaningful within your team. That’s absolutely valid! People get motivated by different things. I find myself doing work I’m not inherently excited about, but I do get satisfaction out of the sheer feeling of accomplishing things, and by learning processes so I can figure out different ways to solve problems. I think it’s important to know what motivates you so that you can seek out situations where you will thrive – in your case, that would mean not focusing on whether you’re primarily doing C or D, but on the dynamics of the team and your role in it to give you the positive feedback that keeps you going. Knowing what motivates you is not fake at all, and will help you choose jobs where you can set yourself up for success!

    7. RagingADHD*

      There are a lot of different ways to get job satisfaction. Being appreciated is an excellent way, as long as you are also properly compensated.

      1. Ama*

        I was just talking my husband through a bit of a confidence crisis he was having because he realized this week that some of the work he really enjoys doing gets taken for granted by his coworkers — feeling appropriately appreciated is not a small reason to keep doing a job!

  11. Johnny Karate*

    I have a coworker who lies regularly about weird things. Like, they’re never big things, but they’re very obvious lies. For example, she was talking to someone at a meeting I was in, and talked about doing something after getting permission from me. But she didn’t get permission from me, she told me after the fact and I said it wasn’t a big deal. Another time, she told someone that she’d checked a policy she had misapplied and claimed it was very vague; I’ve read that policy and either she didn’t actually check it or she can’t read, because it is extraordinarily clear (bolded and underlined words and everything). There are other similar examples, and I wouldn’t really care except she has a lot of access to private client information and I don’t know if I should file this away as a weird personality thing where she can’t ever show herself in anything less than the most flattering light or an actual integrity problem. I’m not her boss, but we share the same boss. Any thoughts?

    1. ecnaseener*

      Just from the examples you gave, it sounds closer to “fudging/selectively remembering in her favor” than Major Integrity Problem. FWIW, they also could just be explained by a lack of competence / genuinely poor memory.

      So like, I wouldn’t rely on her as a source of truth for anything important, and definitely correct the record where needed, but I wouldn’t be worried about more than that.

    2. MourningStar*

      What I’m hearing you say is that you’re hearing her statments as lies – and they very well might be. I’m hearing from your story that she is saying one thing, and your interpretation of how a situation went, or the reading of a policy is completely different.

      I’m a *huge* fan of communication. Huge. I also spent about 9 years of my career doing confict mediation so take this with a grain of salt that conflict for the most part does not phase me – which isn’t to say that I seek out conflict or that I look to make situations angry, I just don’t mind having conversations with others in tense moments.

      For the meeting situation, because this involves you, I would ask to speak with her and say, “I just wanted to check my understanding of a conversation we had. You told Sue that you asked me permission – but I remembered our conversation (or I remember the timeline) as you telling me after the fact. Did you recall it differently? I wanted to make sure we were on the same page.”

      Asking her is the only way to show her you 1) noticed the discrepancy, and 2) clear up the misunderstanding with her, and very possibly the person she was speaking with if necessary.

      1. Vio*

        Communication is definitely the solution for most problems. Unfortunately it’s not always easy, especially if the other party isn’t doing their part to communicate, but whenever it’s an option it’s a good one. I’m often amazed by how easily a problem is solved with a simple conversation when inside my head I’d been stressing and seeing it as a massive mess of mayhem.

    3. SeluciaMD*

      Personally, I think your read of her not being comfortable showing herself in anything but the most flattering light is the right one. I have a family member like this. I love her, but she is very insecure and has a very hard time – even for the lowest of low-stakes things – admitting she doesn’t know something so she will often act like she knows or speak with authority about something she’s clearly wrong about because she cannot bear the thought of someone thinking she’s “dumb” or that she didn’t know something she thinks “everyone knows” or thinks she “should” know. They are all her internal perceptions and insecurities and that’s how they play out. I don’t want to say that there’s no facet of this that’s about integrity because that would be ingenuous. But unless you see her lying about things that actively cause problems for people – like she’s casting blame to avoid responsibility or lying about something she’s saying someone did or did not do in a way that gets them in trouble or avoids trouble for her at their expense – I’d let this go. You can internally roll your eyes at the level of insecurity but write it off as a personality quirk.

    4. Observer*

      I have a slightly different take than the others. It’s quite possible – probable imo- that this is not an “either / or” situation.

      So, it’s probably true that she “tweaks” the truth to make herself look good because she can’t bear to been seen as less that 100% competent and good at her job 100% of the time. The problem is that it does not mean that it is not ALSO an integrity problem.

      How potentially serious are the things she is lying about and how often does it happen? Like in your first example, she said that you had given her permission before she did something, but she only told you about it afterwards. Now, in this case you don’t care that she did the thing, so it’s not a big deal. But does she have a habit of doing things without permission, when she should be and she’s being dinged for that? Is it possible that in some cases whether or not you gave her permission would be a big deal?

      Either way, I would be careful around her. You know that her integrity is less than stellar – no matter what the reason is, she’s still telling lies. You also know that she’s not too smart about it – why would she not realize that saying something about what you did in front of you means that you will know that she made something up? Definitely double check things she tells you if there is any chance that it could be consequential.

      If the things she is lying about happen to not be all that big, but could have had the potential to be significant, that’s a bigger issue. And in that case, I think I would collect a few examples, the more clear cut the better (like the first story is a better example because you KNOW what happened there) and talk to your boss. Because it’s a bit worrisome that someone who will lie to make themselves look better even where there is a possibility of causing problems, would have access to private client information. Especially if you are talking about LEGALLY protected privacy.

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

      Why not both a little bit of A and little bit of B. She has shown that when it benefits her, she will choose the path of least effort or responsibility — so she’ll have integrity as long as it’s easy and keeps her in a safe position. If she ever finds herself in a quandary about keeping something confidential or protecting a client/company vs. covering her own hide, she’ll opt for herself — to be somewhat fair, most people will. Complete altruism isn’t that common, that’s why it’s lauded as extraordinary when it occurs. Not many folks run into the fire to rescue others.

      I’m not sure there is anything to be done though unless/until she actually does something egregious enough to warrant a formal reprimand; just file it away as a personality thing to be vigilant of.

    6. Prospect gone bad*

      I’m dealing with somebody now who’s always lost in lies to other people about logging into systems and checking things. She doesn’t realize that it creates a sort of transaction log that gets put in an obscure sql table with a weird name that I happen to stumble upon one day, and she hasn’t been in any of these systems in a couple of months.

      I find it funny one second then infuriating. Instead of appreciating that we have a cushy work from home jobs, she pretends that going in the system and clicking a few buttons huge overwhelming task.

  12. rosemaryshrub*

    I’m now 2 for 2 working for non-profits where the ED has “resigned to pursue other opportunities” (read into those quotes) with short notice. Is this just par for the course in smallish non-profits or a weird fluke of where I land? (For what it’s worth the circumstances for both were very different as were the tenures of the ED – both also have histories of more standard ED departures).

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

      It’s not specific to non-profits. Most organizations will opt to announce a departure of a high-profile person as a positive — pursue other opportunities — rather than whatever the truth is. It doesn’t need to be a scandal or business failure either; they could be leaving because they have a personal reason they don’t want announced to the world. One of the VPs in my line just left for other opportunities and I’m about 99% sure it’s because she didn’t like living in California anymore — expensive, crowded, climate, perhaps culture, etc. — and wanted to return to where she is originally from in a rural part of the midwest. But nobody is going to announce that. We only found out on her last day but it turns out, the Powers That Be knew weeks in advance; that’s something to keep in mind about “short notice” — it’s short to you but maybe not really short notice, and you might not ever know that for sure.

    2. nonprofitears*

      What is unique to small nonprofits is that the ED reports directly to the board, and is usually not paid a lot. So there can be a lot of ED/board conflict that employees (hopefully) don’t see, leading to them being let go.

      Or they can decide the job isn’t worth the karma points and quit, possibly when a long transition doesn’t make sense for the org.

    3. Tio*

      The notice may not be as short as you think. I know when I gave my notice, it wasn’t announced until the week before I left, due to background happenings. So if you’re going by the announcement, then that may not be the whole picture, unless you are high enough that you knwo exactly what day they gave notice.

  13. Eng Mgr*

    Last year, there was a thread about people using their workplace power for good, and I shared that we send our team home an hour early on the Friday before Daylight Saving Time starts (so they don’t lose the hour from their weekend).

    If you think your workplace might go for this idea, bring it up today, whole week in advance! Give your manager some time to think about it!

    Even little morale boosts are nice :)

    (If you are in Europe, you still have a couple weeks, sorry.)

    1. cubone*

      Oh I love this idea and have never thought of it that way. Frankly I’d honestly prefer starting an hour late on Monday, daylight savings time wrecks havoc on me.

      1. danmei kid*

        Me too. Starting an hour later would be sooooooo much better in helping with adjusting.

    2. L. Ron Jeremy*

      But do you have to give that hour back when you ‘fall back’ by staying an hour later?

      1. AnonyNurse*

        The WORST hospital shifts of the year — the 13 hour overnight when the computer freaks out because 2am happened twice and you have to triple check all your documentation, that you gave meds at the (actual) right time, etc. AND that extra hour is just such a killer.

        Sigh. I don’t miss working in hospitals.

    3. RecoveringSWO*

      When I was on a ship in the Navy, the command could decide when to shift hours as we sailed into different time zones. Our command chose to lose an hour during the workday and gain an hour during typical sleeping hours. It definitely boosted morale!

    4. AnotherOne*

      oh that’s fun. my office has never done that but a few holidays a year- we close early before the holiday weekend.

      these it’s sorta whatever. but back when we were in the office, it meant you got to beat traffic home and/or wherever you were going. Especially in the summer, when we are an office that works summer friday (even in August)- being able to scoot out a little early is nice.

      (In NYC, some office are closed on fridays in summer or at least in August so people can go to the beach. this is definitely more common in certain industries- but yeah, people refer to summer fridays and it’s just sorta a city thing.)

  14. Valancy Snaith*

    Can anyone recommend a site similar to this but geared towards a blue-collar (or pink-collar, actually) focus? Most of what I’ve been able to find on reddit is specific towards one trade or whatever, but something with a broad-spectrum view would be great.

    1. KayDeeAye*

      I hesitated quite a while about posting anything here because I was waiting to see if you might get a reply from another commenter with, you know, actual knowledge, which I do not have. :-) Maybe they’ll chime in after I do. But while we’re waiting, I’ll just point out that while much of the advice here is aimed at office workers, there is advice for blue/pink collar jobs. Maybe not as much as you want, but there is definitely some. There have been quite a few letters from restaurant workers, health care workers, and people with questions involving “the floor” or shift work. That sounds fairly blue/pink collar-y to me.

      Now let’s see if someone can point you somewhere more specific. Good luck in your search!

      1. Valancy Snaith*

        Thanks, but I’ve been reading here for several years and I find it’s very rare that questions encompass that type of work, and the comment section isn’t particularly well-equipped to address them, either. It would also be nice to have a place to discuss work that isn’t consistently derailed with the “return to office is evil,” which hasn’t reflected the reality of many many many people’s work lives.

        1. Hrodvitnir*

          Yeah, I think Alison can generally still give good advice unless it’s field-specific (and she’ll call that our when it is), but the perspective of the comments section is SO skewed and it can be disheartening/frustrating.

          I don’t know if anywhere at all equivalent though.

        2. Deanna Troi*

          I think that part of the reason that those that comment on this site tend to be office workers is that they are often sitting at computers most of the day and many of them read this site at work. Blue/pink collar workers are often doing more physical work that isn’t primarily at a computer, so don’t have the opportunity to follow a blog like this.

          I am also surprised that there are so many who are so against returning to the office. But my eyes roll out of my head at those lucky enough to be full-time remote and yet complain that they miss out on pizza parties.

          1. Retail Not Retail*

            This site actually works nicely on my phon, which I use on breaks and sometimes if I’m working in an area with downtimes.

            Don’t people who work with computers have work to do? Like we do?

  15. Saraquill*

    I received a call last month from someone offering a job. He said he just got my application from X job board, and launched into a list of expected duties. Would I be interested?

    I told him I’d prefer a scheduled interview, not a call out of the blue. He apologized, said he’d be leaving the country in a few days, and to text him the next evening to schedule an interview in the narrow time window he gave.

    When I looked back to the job posting, the company withheld its name and had a barebones description. When I applied, I figured I’d learn more if I got an interview. Instead this person failed to introduce himself, name his company or its location, what work hours would be, or the salary.

    I’m happy to be in a headspace and situation where I don’t feel the need to chase job prospects, no matter how suspect.

    1. Tuesday*

      If it makes you feel any better, I had this happen once – but it was because the company in question was renowned for its amazing benefits and they wanted to make sure I was really in it for the work, not just faking enthusiasm! It’s still frustrating though, because the applicant deserves to know the workplace before applying!

    2. Trina*

      Even if the job posting had been fully fleshed out, offering someone a job that they’d never directly applied for without having even one (1) conversation with them is the fire-engine reddest of red flags, holy smokes.

      1. M*

        Are they offering a job or seeing if you might be interested in the role? Those are two different things. I’m seeing some commenters thinking you mean the first but your response that you’d prefer a scheduled interview makes me think the second.

        1. Saraquill*

          I honestly couldn’t tell if it was a job offer, or asking me if I was interested. Most of what he said had to do with job duties.

    3. Snow Globe*

      Huge red flag. Consider that if they’d hire you without an interview, that’s probably how they’ve hired a lot of the people who currently work there. Do you want a bunch of coworkers that haven’t been screened at all? Yikes.

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

      Red flag: “said he’d be leaving the country in a few days, and to text him the next evening to schedule an interview in the narrow time window he gave.”

      Where is he going that he wouldn’t be able to connect internationally to have a phone or video interview? Does the internet or telephone not exist in his destination? Can he not make/afford an international call? An odd sense of urgency over what should be a minor inconvenience in this era is not a good sign.

    5. Haven’t picked a username yet*

      Honestly – that sounds like some sort of scam to me!

      Like they would have asked you to pay background search fees you would be reimbursed for later, or send you direct deposit info over before you start. Maybe I am
      Just cynical but if it isn’t a scam it is a terribly run company so either way you are best being clear!

    6. Lyudie*

      If it wasn’t for him not introducing himself or naming his agency, I’d chalk it up to pushy external recruiter. Often they will not tell you what the company is because they don’t want you to go apply directly, but the total anonymity is odd. External recruiters are usually delighted to get their names and agency names in front of your eyes (they request to connect on LinkedIn sometimes, even) and an internal recruiter would definitely be naming the company. Definitely weird.

  16. persimmon*

    Who else nicknames their office equipment? Our laminating machine is “The Wizard” (technically a brand name but we still call it that) and at a previous job our printer was “The Enemy” (as in, “I’ll be right back, gonna go see if The Enemy has my report yet”) because it NEVER WORKED

    1. Office Cheetos*

      Me! In my former office we had the coffee maker That Must Not Be Named because if you referred to it at all, it would overbrew a pot of coffee. We also had Pinky and The Brain for the dual printers because The Brain would work and Pinky was always hit or miss. Our reception desk was The Coffee Bar because everyone would set their coffee cups down on it and just walk away.

    2. KayDeeAye*

      I called one of my former laptops “Hal” because it was…kind of evil. It didn’t have the memory to take over a spaceship, but I personally had the feeling that if it coulda, it woulda.

      (But my current laptop is great! Please take offense at my jibes at Hal, current wonderful laptop!)

      Also, we call the handcart “Dolly,” as in “Is Dolly in the store room or do we keep her in the closet these days?”

    3. L. Ron Jeremy*

      We had a very cold conference room that was named The Artic Room (with an official name plate). Does this count?

      1. WestsideStory*

        I think I’ve been there! Most memorable was the meeting where the highest ranking person the room (think VP or Director) came in wearing a full Snugli.

    4. Henry Division*

      In my first internship back in college, the printers were named Harpo and Chico, and I believe there was a Groucho on a different floor.

    5. DisneyChannelThis*

      Old job they stuck beer labels on machines and named each machine on the network after it’s label. Had some pretty funny ones.

    6. kiwiii*

      Not exactly the same, but we have conference rooms named after local lakes, and that was all well and good for most of them, but the one nearest my team was named “Mud Lake” which always got shortened to Mud, like “Do you want to do the meeting in Jane’s office, or should I grab Mud?”

    7. AnonyNurse*

      My apartment building has one of those robot vacuum cleaners. It beeps every time it turns, which gets very annoying when you can hear it in the hallway handling corners and such.

      But when they first got it, the property manager sent out an email introducing it as Dustin Beiber, and well … I have a huge soft spot for this stupid vacuum cleaner because it has a silly name. Amazing how that works.

        1. Rinn*

          I named ours R2V2. It’s white and the brand is called Roborock (from Amazon). I don’t remember now what the second V is supposed to be for but it made sense at the time.

    8. Not using my normal name because this is way too identifiable*

      Our Patron Services team got a label maker, and now everything has a name. The printers, staplers, phones, etc. are mostly stereotypical middle-aged women’s names like Sharon and Pam, but the space heaters are British butlers whose names start with H. Mine is Heathcliff. The plant is a long line of slowly dying Georges. The rubber duckies seem to be mainly impulsive.

    9. Violet Newstead*

      I work in labs and naming all the lab equipment and instruments is pretty common. Usually they have official numbers as well, but using funny names and pictures is always easier in conversation and memory. Most places I’ve worked have also have themed names for conference rooms as well.

      For lab instruments, I’ve seen: celebrities, Sesame Street characters, herbs and spices, famous bands, local attractions, sports teams, and musical instruments.

      Sesame Street was my favorite because when anything was down, we’d find funny memes or gifs to use as signs or in the email notice.

      1. PseudoMona*

        Our cell imaging machines are named after Pokémon and our -80 freezers are named after Scooby-Doo characters.

    10. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Not exactly the same, but Gus-Gus from Cinderella became my sort of “work mascot” because of jokes that our servers are clearly powered by very confused mice who can’t figure out which direction to run on their little wheels. :)

    11. Limotruck87*

      At my old job we did a lot of live animal transport. We had two white vans specially outfitted with heating/ac and secure cages in the back: Vanna White and her larger brother Van Helsing.

      1. KayDeeAye*

        We used to have a Vanna White van, too! In fact, all the company pool cars at one time had fun names, although the only other one I can recall at the moment (aside from Vanna) is Third Wheel. They have more mundane names these days, which is more efficient because only Vanna’s name was directly related to its/her appearance, but also just a bit…duller. Oh, well – as long as they work properly!

    12. Loreli*

      I worked at a company where conference rooms were named according to the floor’s theme. One floor’s theme was rocks and minerals, and one conference room was named Dwayne Johnson

  17. FearNot*

    I got married at the end of last year, and while I didn’t tell anyone at work until I went on my honeymoon to explain being out for two weeks, several people ended up getting me gifts. I wrote them all thank you cards.

    However, this weekend I was going through the work wedding cards and found one that was not signed but had a significant amount of cash in it that I had previously missed. I have no idea who it is from, and I work in a group of around 40 people. Is there a proper way to go about trying to find out who it was? Since only a few people gifted me in the first place, it seems bad form to send an email to everyone asking who it was.

      1. FearNot*

        I’m just worried if I send it out to everyone, the majority of people that didn’t get me a gift would feel called out.

      2. I edit everything*

        Yeah, no. That seems like bad form.
        Do you have people in and out of your space? Could you put the card up around your desk where people would see it, with a thank you note attached? Then the person who sent it would see it and recognize it, but others would just think it was a random card you were saving for some reason.
        We had someone give us a gift with another couple’s name on the enclosed card, and I never did figure out how to handle that.

    1. Becky*

      Honestly, If they didn’t sign it and you don’t know who it is from, I wouldn’t worry about it. How do you know for sure it is from a coworker?

    2. lunchtime caller*

      you could perhaps ask who sent that unsigned card without mentioning there being a significant sum in it? It’s possible that would make people feel less guilty about not gifting if they assume it was just a card. Otherwise I might ask one of the people who did gift to subtly ask around for me, if you think they could pull it off .

      1. Somehow_I_Manage*

        ^This is the clear answer.

        “Hi guys, Thanks to all for the warm wishes on my honeymoon- we are doing great! I received a beautiful card last week from one of you and unfortunately, the sender neglected to sign it. If you sent me a card, would you please swing by my desk so I can thank you!”

        1. WestsideStory*

          Take a picture of the front of the card – presumably the owner will claim it

    3. Prospect gone bad*

      This is when the “rumor mill” works to your benefit. Tell someone who is nice and chatty the conundrum and I’m sure they’ll find out who it is

      1. Cj*

        That doesn’t solve the problem of people who didn’t give a gift feeling bad. In that respect, there’s no difference if the OP or a coworker asks around.

    4. RagingADHD*

      I would send around a photo of the front of the card and say, “Thank you to whoever sent us this sweet card for our wedding! I’d love to write you a proper thank-you note, but you forgot to sign it. It was very thoughtful of you, and we appreciate it.”

      Don’t say anything about the gift, just the card. The person who sent it will recognize it, and if they want to bring it up, they can. They may have been anonymous on purpose.

      And because it’s just presented as a greeting card, there’s not really a reason for anyone else to feel called out about gifting or not gifting. Very low stakes.

    5. Maple Bar*

      Man, I got married last year and I’m in a similar pickle because MOST of the gifts we got did not have any indication of who they were from because the registry thing in Amazon just left everything blank when it sent things to us. We got gifts from a very small portion of everyone who was invited, and I absolutely do not feel like I can contact all of them without all the people who didn’t send a gift getting uncomfortable. I tried just telling a few people and asking them to ask around, but it didn’t go anywhere. No one I know is connected enough to suss this out for me. I’ve kinda settled on just trying to let it go and hoping no one is mad, but I don’t feel good about it.

  18. Contracting*

    Am I over thinking this? I’m a contractor and haven’t informed my boss that my partner is dealing with medical issues that require me to attend appointments with them. If I was full time I wouldn’t hesitate to mention something but I want to convert and I’m afraid mentioning this is going to take me out. Right now I’m working remotely from hospital lobbies when I can. Am I being shady?

    1. jasmine tea*

      If you are a 1099 employee in the US, your employer cannot dictate when/where you work, assuming that you are meeting their security standards for internet access and data security. That’s a strong and essential caveat.

      So, you may or may not be overthinking, depending on the details of your role and on the information/tools you use to do your job.

    2. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Nah, by definition as a contractor you should be independent and setting your own hours. I’d say it’s a “none of their beeswax” issue.

    3. Ginger Cat Lady*

      As long as you’re able to meet deadlines and do good work, your boss does not need to know where you work. As a contractor, you can do that. Not shady at all, IMO.

    4. Artemesia*

      I think you can do what you like as a contractor. You can have other obligations if someone wants to contract you during times you are with your husband. Unless it begins to significantly delay the work you have accepted, I’d keep it to myself if that is your inclination.

    5. Maple Bar*

      Are you usually remote, you’re just now being remote from waiting rooms instead of at home? That’s perfectly fine and you’re not being shady at all.

      The other thing, though, is that the legal definitions everyone else is citing won’t stop a company from pushing you out because they just don’t like it. So my advice would be to keep this entirely to yourself. It’s extremely not their business and there’s nothing shady or unethical about not bringing it up, but some places will decide to make it their business.

  19. Workshops and "Consultants"*

    I am so fed up with companies that talk out of one side of their mouths about cost-cutting and layoffs, while using the other side of their mouths to hype up pointless workshops/trainings with extravagantly-paid guest “experts” running them. Is this just how business is? I’ve experienced this in my past three jobs.

    Currently listening to this BS, live. A PhD in Philosophy is talking about “the courage to innovate in the workplace” and how we need to develop it. They just slashed 8,000 jobs.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Don’t know if this will make you feel better or worse, but my guess is that the amount the company is paying for that “courage to innovate” talk is just a fraction of one laid-off person’s annual salary. Yes, the talks are usually dumb in general and they particularly sting when you’re thinking “courage is not my problem! worrying about the next round of layoffs is my problem!” but eliminating the talks won’t free up enough money for all 8,000 people to get their jobs back.

    2. Frankie*

      8k layoffs is gutting, but you’re comparing apples to oranges. 8k salaries is in no way equivalent to a paid guest speaker or two, and the workshop is part of continuing business which, after layoffs, needs to…continue.

      I think it’s a bad look to have lavish events just after layoffs but having a highly-paid expert come in doesn’t strike me as the same thing. If your workplace just cut that many positions, are they needing to reposition themselves in the market, respond to inflation, etc.? Innovating in the workplace in that context seems potentially pretty relevant.

    3. Candy*

      >> Is this just how business is?

      Yeah pretty much. Businesses have different funds allocated for different uses — ops, salaries, workplace development, etc. So the salary fund could be low resulting in layoffs, and the ops fund has just enough in it for a new printer, but the workplace development budget still has a surplus and it’s March and it needs to be used before the end of fiscal therefore it gets uses up by sending everyone to a half day training workshop.

    4. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

      Not layoffs, Our CEO announced at the end of December that we didn’t make our financial goals for the year, and thus bonuses would not be paid out this year. In February, they threw a multi-day rah-rah sales kickoff event that apparently cost $1.5M. I’m sure it was planned before we found out we were short of our goals, but boy it irked seeing all the partying and fun activity pics on LinkedIn.

    5. danmei kid*

      I suspect we work at the same company currently just finishing up transforming, for growth… Even if we don’t, you are not alone in calling BS on this. It verges on gaslighting and I am sick of it.

    6. snacattack*

      Vaguely related — I spent many years working at a small independent school which was chronically underfunded. Toward the end of my tenure there I had a position of responsibility in my subject area–not “department chair” exactly but more toward “content area specialist,” a job in which I worked with both students and teachers.

      The school administration brought in an outside team of four people to “evaluate” our instruction in this subject area and make suggestions for how to improve our offerings. I was fine with this, though less so when I realized that none of them had any notable expertise in the subject area; a cynic might say they were simply teachers who worked at larger and more prestigious independent schools. Still, it’s always good to have outside pairs of eyes, which may see things we don’t from the inside.

      I spent quite a bit of time with various members of the team during the time they were there, including coming in on a couple of evenings to answer questions about the program and such. (They worked hard.) When they left, they promised us a full report within the next two weeks. Cool! In the meantime, I learned about a conference that looked like an ideal one for me to attend and bring back ideas from–several of the biggest names in the field would be presenting workshops and lectures, and given my school’s new focus on my subject area it seemed like a good investment for us. The conference was 2,000 miles away, but the school did believe in professional development and did sometimes fly people to distant ports of call, if the occasion seemed right. I priced it out–conference fees plus airfare plus hotel–and thought it might fit within the budget. I pitched the idea to the head of school, who turned me down flat. No money.

      Well, okay, I get “no money”–until I discovered that the team of evaluators had cost the school about 15 times what I was asking for. I was not a happy camper, to say the least. And then when the final report came in–two months, not weeks, later–it turned out to be utter crap, full of misinformation and misspellings and with much of it cribbed directly (and without attribution) from the school’s website. Suggestions for improving the program, let alone *good* suggestions for improving the program, were few and far between. Even the head admitted that she was “very disappointed” in their work. Fat lot of good it did us at that point….

      Anyway, the whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth, and certainly reduced my willingness to take initiative and go out of my way in my position for the greater good of the school. Sad but true.

    7. Maple Bar*

      Is this just how business is? Yeah, pretty much. The profits flow up and all the bullshit flows down.

  20. sam_i_am*

    I’m trying to decide whether to push back on the raise I got with my most recent promotion. It’s been 3 years since my last promotion, and I’ve taken on a lot of new responsibilities in that time, so the 16% I got seems low to me (for reference, my last promotion was a 32% increase in compensation). I got promoted to “Lead Software Engineer,” and the salary is just not commensurate with that role. It would be more in line with just “Software Engineer.”

    BUT. It took months for this promotion to make it through HR/compensation, and I’m scared it will trigger something like that all over again. I don’t think they’d change the effective date, but I just have reservations of opening that up again. I also make more than pretty much any other staff in my department, I’m fairly sure, but they have very different job titles so it’s hard to compare.

    OTOH, my reservations might actually be about my discomfort with asserting myself, because I have a lot of issues with that.

    This is definitely a decision I have to make myself, but I’d welcome any thoughts/insights others have, or experiences with slow-moving, red tape-filled HR departments.

    1. I edit everything*

      Research the heck out of typical salaries for your position across your industry, and take that data to your boss. You’re perfectly within your rights to say, “Hey, Althea. I really appreciate this promotion, but I don’t feel the raise is commensurate with the position and my expertise. Could we talk about that?” You need to either do it immediately, or raise it at your next performance review, I think.
      Your other option, especially if they won’t budge on your new salary, is to start job hunting and find a similar role with a salary more in line with market norms.

      1. sam_i_am*

        Thanks for the response! I love that script, and I have a meeting with my supervisor on Tuesday, so I’ll broach the subject then.

        I’m in a position where I don’t want to leave because I love my team, it’s the culture of the greater workplace that I have trouble with. Everything has to go through an HR apparatus that’s a black box even though I’m in a position funded by my supervisor’s grants, which is frustrating. The raise they gave me is just at the threshold of leaving vs staying when I think about it, so it’s a conversation that needs to be had.

    2. L. Ron Jeremy*

      Agree with the above, but I’ve found that the higher you go inside your company title wise, the smaller the raise will be with each promotion.
      Not sure if this is common, but I’d be surprised if you’d get a second 32% increase after your first one.

      1. sam_i_am*

        Yeah, I wasn’t really expecting 32%, but it did give me maybe a bit more hope than I should have had!

      2. Frankie*

        Yeah, you get huge percentage increases on lower salaries but that generally starts to go down as you get into the higher pay ranges. Just kinda how numbers work.

        1. sam_i_am*

          Unfortunately, the actual numerical increase was also less than my last promotion by a couple thousand…

  21. cubone*

    How much do you think is reasonable to ask of a new employee BEFORE they start?

    I remember an AAM post about someone being asked to actually start on work before their official start date, which I think is obviously not okay, but I mean more administrative stuff: eg emails/calls from your new boss to give you info or ask questions, setting up a new email, reading/signing off on policies, calls from HR for payroll info, setting up a work laptop, stuff like that.

    I start a new job next week and I’ve had several of these things though not all – a call from HR for payroll info, 2 calls with my boss (1 to go over my schedule, 1 with a few questions). I’m also working remote and had to go pick up my laptop before my start date. These things were easy for me, both geographically and because I’m not currently working elsewhere.

    I’m curious though because the reactions of my friends have totally run the gamut. Some have been outraged that my new job is asking me to spend any time on anything before my start date, and that all of that should be done WHEN I start. Other friends have said that seems completely reasonable and normal. I find the breadth of reactions fascinating so wanted to poll more people!

    1. Super Duper Anon*

      I am the person who loves getting all of the admin stuff done before starting. When I started my last job, I got sent a link to a portal where I could go through and fill in all the admin forms like payroll and benefits, and some other info they needed. It let me start on my first day with focusing on learning the office layout and diving into work-related onboarding instead of having to fill in a bunch of forms.

      1. Snow Globe*

        I’m with you on this. Once, eons ago, I started a new job where all the admin stuff happened after my first day. And for pretty much the entire first week, I didn’t have computer access to do anything job related. They wouldn’t issue a user id until you completed the information security training, and only then could they submit an IT ticket to set up access. I think I read industry magazines during most of that time. I’d rather get that stuff all done and out of the way.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        This is the way. *hums Mandalorian theme*

        First days are soooo confusing and it’s almost inevitable that you’ll forget something in the shuffle. Better to get most of that paperwork out of the way.

    2. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      I am about to start a new job. I had several hours worth of what I consider “first day stuff” assigned to be done “no later than” the first day (I don’t recall if it was before that, or end of that day). Some of it made sense since I’ll be remote – confirm mailing address, send a pic for a badge (needed to use computer). Some of it was a bit more involved. It was annoying, but not too bad. They did ship me the computer though. I would have balked at having to pick it up.

      1. cubone*

        The computer pick up I think is a significant line in the sand. It’s just a total fluke that I happen to live a 5 min drive from the office, even though we’re remote 75% of the time. When my new boss explained it, she was very apologetic but I was like oh that’s totally fine because it’s so easy. It didn’t dawn on me til after, what if you lived an hour away AND were still working your current job? In that context, could/should someone say …no, you’ll need to ship it to me (or I’ll be doing that on my first day thanks)?

        1. lunchtime caller*

          yup, that’s exactly what would happen, just a casual “is there someone I should contact to arrange shipping? If not, happy to just grab it on my first day.”

        2. Observer*

          what if you lived an hour away AND were still working your current job? In that context, could/should someone say …no, you’ll need to ship it to me (or I’ll be doing that on my first day thanks)?

          Yes, also totally reasonable.

    3. Peanut Hamper*

      Call from new boss to ask/answer questions — okay

      Set up payroll info — okay (there are laws making sure that employees get paid on time, so I get their eagerness to get this done; also I want to get paid as well)

      Setting up a new email — okay (this usually doesn’t take that long; but in any job I’ve ever had, we did this on day one or two)

      I would really bristle if a new job expected more than that before I’m officially on the clock. Reading policies, setting up a laptop, etc. is onboarding stuff, and being remote shouldn’t make a difference. Do they really expect people who work in the office to get all this done before their first day in the office?

      1. cubone*

        Similar to my answer to Hippopotamus above, I think the laptop pick up and email setup are the true controversial elements. I’ll admit, the email setup surprised me too because that’s always something IT has done with me first day. But I also had one remote job where they didn’t get me my laptop in time for my first WEEK, and another in office where they forgot to schedule the email set up with IT, so I went most of the week sans email. Both of those were extremely frustrating, so while this is annoying, maybe it’s erring on the side of caution…

        I agree with you though that I think another question within this is how does pre-employment tasks differ from remote to in-office work. It definitely feels like there is more expected/accepted of remote workers to pre-prepare.

      2. But Not the Hippopotamus*

        I can think of a few others (that I just went through) that are reasonable. Like, getting paperwork to show you are legally able to work (typically in the US this is identification stuff for the I-9 form).

        I would prefer that to email setup, and since people sometimes forget or have an expired document, that can really throw off a first day.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          Getting information needed to set up a work email, get you access to the work facility (badge photo, etc), and get you paid are pretty reasonable. If it involves speeding up the process of getting insurance and other benefits, I’m all for it.

          Some things, like work authorization, visas and security clearance, proof of legally required certifications and licenses have to be done before you can officially start.

          On boarding stuff, setting up the computer environment, reading manuals and so on should be done one you get there.

    4. Be Gneiss*

      I was given the option to do all the official paperwork/forms through a link, which I actually preferred to do, but it was clear I had the option to do it on my first day. It was just easier to be able to look up things like direct deposit routing and stuff on my own time, and it didn’t feel like it took that long.
      I was also asked to write a short paragraph about myself to be included in the office personnel announcement.
      I had a call with HR, and received some emails with first week details (schedule, where to park, what to expect the first day – free lunch! – and things like that), but nothing that I felt was too much to ask.

    5. Observer*

      I think it’s totally reasonable. Although I also think that if someone told me as the employer that they can’t come in in advance to pick up equipment I would not blink.

      The ONE thing I would absolutely push back on is payroll and schedule stuff. We need to have payroll set up before the minute you start so that you can get your time logged and you pay on time. And it’s just not reasonable to not tie down schedule in advance.

    6. Wordybird*

      At my current job, I was sent 2 or 3 documents to sign ahead of time + mailed my work computer and some supplies. That was it until the first day when I found out I had an all-day virtual training/onboarding session with my supervisor.

      At my previous job, I was asked to fill out some paperwork + do my background check and then come in to attend a “training” of sorts with my soon-to-be supervisor. This was mostly just a tour through the building and my office and a lot of talking for a couple hours. This took place 2 or 3 days before my first day.

      I haven’t worked someplace big enough to have an HR department in 10+ years so I haven’t had to do any more than that since I worked for a temp agency right after college.

    7. Data/Lore*

      As long as I was paid for it, I wouldn’t have an issue with getting admin & setup done prior to the official start date. If it was unpaid because it was prior to start date? No dice. It could be done once I was being paid.

      1. Rinn*

        I have to say I agree with this. It’s just the kind of thing that can turn into a whole day or parts of several days. Not everyone has the luxury of this not being disruptive to their home life. I really hate forms and they make me tense. I would prefer to have a few stress-free days before starting at a new employer. Having it as an option is fine but I don’t agree with it being mandatory.

    8. RagingADHD*

      Payroll info – yes.
      Schedule info – yes.
      Getting your equipment, as long as it was fairly close by, yes. Not if it was a big inconvenience.

      I mean, you have to know when to start work and you have to get paid.

      The tech setup stuff and the questions from your boss depend on how long it took and what the content of the questions was.

    9. Qwerty*

      1) Does it make it easier for you to start on your first day after doing X task/call?
      2) Are you able to push back if your schedule does not allow for doing X?

      The bar really shifts depending on the person, role, circumstances. For example, I’d find it easier to talk to my boss about my schedule before starting since it would make my first week smoother if that’s already hashed out. A lot of downtime in the first couple days is boring and awkward so I prefer my boss having the data to create a plan before I start.

      Circumstances are huge – I’ve seen instances where a ton of docs/videos were sent to a new hire before their start date because they needed to catch up on all that stuff very quickly, so they appreciated getting to do it over a longer period rather than being greeted their first day with a fire hose of info. That would be overkill for most new hires though.

      I think the more senior you are, the more interactions you’ll have before your start date, especially if you’re on the management track.

    10. Roland*

      At my last job, I had these:

      – quick questionnaire for what I wanted my email username to be, computer specs, etc. This was fine and appreciated.

      – asked to upload i9 stuff. Would have preferred to do this on day 1 but I’ll live with it.

      – manager set up a video chat to get to know me and my work preferences (due to personnel shifts I hadn’t met them during interviews). I thought this was not ok, it’s a normal part of their job, but I wasn’t working yet and resented taking a meeting during my purposefully-long job break.

    11. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      If it’s something that benefits YOU, like the payroll info, or health insurance forms, or other similar things, doing it before you start is fine. Anything else, especially if it benefits the company, needs to be on their time and their dime.

    12. EMP*

      I’ve never worked somewhere that did this, either because a new hire wasn’t in our system before the start date, or because we weren’t organized enough to contact them early.

    13. Little Beans*

      We require new hires to complete HR documentation before they start work — in fact, our HR office has told us that new employees are not ALLOWED to work until they have completed all hiring paperwork and their HR onboarding process. I think it’s because, if something goes wrong and it turns out the person is ineligible to hire, you don’t want them to have already done work that you can’t pay them for.

      Other than that, I try not to ask anything of new hires besides reading the minimum information to know when and where to show up on the first day.

    14. Moonlight*

      So honestly I’d be fairly put off if I had to do things like setting up a new lap top, read policies, setting up an email, or fielding calls from my new boss. I’m not working for them yet. For all they know, I was planing on using those days to go out of town and get refreshed; you’re not necessarily just sitting in your home waiting for a job to start. Plus, just on principle, I’d be questioning what ACTUALLY needs to be done. For example, it feels different being asked to pick up a lap top a few days before starting cause assuming the office is close to my home (but maybe no more than a 15-20 minute drive) that’s not a massive inconvenience, but then being asked to actually set it up? Nah, dealing with the slow admin stuff of getting a lap top and email set up for new staff is a part of doing business. They can pay me to do it.

  22. Any tips on how to improve relations with co-worker?*

    Any tips on how to improve relations with co-worker? (or at least how I can feel better about how it is, and not worsen it!)

    I share an office with a coworker. Much of the time she’s pretty negative in her outlook and not very friendly.

    Any ideas how I improve the situation, or feel better about being around her? I know from observation that _it’s not me in particular_ who she has a problem with, it’s just the way she is right now with everyone. I’m trying not to let it bother me, but it takes self-control on my part to keep my own reactions in check, and if I’m a little stressed for any reason, then I am apt to get reactionary f I am not careful (which never feels good to me, even if it’s responding in kind). I am wondering if anyone has suggestions or ideas.

    Thanks!

    1. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      Sorry! My best bet is headphones so you hear less of it, being out of the space as much as is practical, and maybe get a good “sun lamp” to see if that helps either of you.

    2. helo*

      When I’ve worked with negative grumps I’ve tried to find the one thing they do like. I worked with a very difficult woman who loved dogs, and another one who loved children. Maybe this lady loves pizza or knitting. Try to get a sense of what her “thing” is and make small talk about that. It will go a long way, trust.

      1. Gracely*

        This. I’ve done this with office grumps I’ve encountered, and it works really well, especially if they’re someone you do need to talk to/can’t just tune out. Redirection is a great tool to have in your toolbox.

    3. MourningStar*

      You mention that you have a hard time not responding – even if it is responding in kind. Do you mean that she is mean and rude to you? If actually rude to you, that isn’t okay and you have every right to assert yourself and let her know that “I don’t appreciate you speaking to me that way. You’re welcome to be upset about the situation, but we won’t be discussing it until you can speak to me respectfully.”

      As to the rest of it – I want you to remember that your co-worker doesn’t need to be friendly with you, respectful of you as a person – yes, positive and friendly? No. You, however, can choose how you react to them – as their attitude doesn’t need to affect yours. I would reccommend looking up grey rocking, which is a method used with toxic people. You can’t grey rock her 100% as you work with her, but you can do your very best not to feed her negativity. Working with someone you don’t get along with is difficult – but if you turn your focus on the work, and not the relationship, it may help you draw your focus away from her.

    4. ariel*

      Ha, I posted a very similar question. I recommend determining your boundaries (“I will not respond to x”, etc) and then holding yourself to those, with treats/rewards as necessary to enforce your good behavior. Headphones and good working relations with your other colleagues and supervisor may help you tune this person out too.

    5. Flowers*

      I had a similar situation, a coworker in a different role was pretty negative (although for legitimate reasons). Even though I would agree with her on a few things, it wasn’t good to constantly be in complaining mode.

      Lately though I found a few things in common with her, so we chat about those and it’s pretty nice.

      Although in my case, she’s in a different office and different role so I don’t need to have alot of interaction with her but I would try to find the things she does like to talk about.

    6. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      “I find I get through my work day a lot happier if I keep my venting conversations to a minimum. I hope you don’t mind if I cut you off here. Thanks.”

  23. fueled by coffee*

    I’m finishing a PhD program soon and am starting to apply to jobs in industry. My degree is in social sciences, and at the moment I’m mostly looking at positions involving qualitative/quantitative/mixed-methods research, statistical analysis, data visualization, survey design, program evaluation, etc. These positions typically require a masters degree, so I’m hoping my PhD won’t make me look *too* overqualified.

    Some resume questions:
    -Do I put my education section at the top or bottom? I outline the specific research projects I’ve completed during school in the work experience section, but not sure what to do with the “PhD in Llama Grooming, University of Alpacas, 2023” line
    -I’m also potentially relocating back to the city I lived in prior to moving here – on my resume I’ve been listing this as “Relocating to City in June 2023” on my resume, and putting a sentence in the cover letter about being excited to return to City, but are there other ways I should handle this?
    -Have I reached the point in my career where I can have a 2 page resume (I’m 7 years post-undergrad, including a full-time job between grad school and undergrad, plus several short-term side jobs)? When I tailor it for specific jobs it’s usually at about 1.5 pages now, but I could probably edit it down further if keeping it to 1 page is better

    1. fueled by coffee*

      Ack, one more question:
      -I can’t move until the semester is over for policy reasons, but I can be available to start remotely before I actually move. Is there a way to signal this in a cover letter? I don’t want to be put out of the running for a job just because they need someone to start in April when I don’t “officially” graduate until May

      1. Hlao-roo*

        I think you can put a line in your cover letter that says “I am planning to relocate to [city] in May, but I can start working remotely as soon as [month].”

    2. ariel*

      Putting education at the top/side, as long as it doesn’t take up too much real estate and showcases your skills.
      You’re using the stance I’ve always used for relocation (though my results haven’t been amazing, ha, so take that with a grain of salt).
      Yes, you can have a two page resume -but- if the short term side jobs aren’t relevant, remove them. Be really critical of how you’re allocating resume space, you want to make it crystal clear from the top what your relevant skills are.
      -Just a sentence in the last paragraph about you must remain in your area until May 2023 but you have capacity for full-time remote work prior to a move.

    3. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      Speaking as somebody with a background in statistics and who hires for people to do statistical analysis, data visualization, etc….

      Unless your prior work is highly relevant, I think putting your education near the top is best. Include your undergrad as well. It should take about 2-4 lines depending on how ridiculously long your institution/program names are.

      I am wary of school projects in the Work Experience section, unless it was paid work (graduate research assistant, etc.). I have seen “Projects” sections for people newer to the field who do not have work experience but have coursework/capstone projects. I’m kinda meh on it, but it doesn’t hurt in my opinion.

      Was your work between undergrad and grad at all relating to your new field? Office experience? If so, go ahead and include it, but if it’s just office experience then I do not recommend going onto two pages. That said, I have seen resumes for people with one in-school part-time job that was on two pages, so it’s not exactly egregious.

      For the stuff I hire for, I’ll want to see what programming/tools you can use, so I recommend a brief skill section (e.g. Skills: Python, SPSS, Tableau) if you have those.

      1. fueled by coffee*

        By “projects” I mean grant-funded published research – not class projects! I’ve taken my publications off my resume, but this is a way that lets me bullet point things like “performed statistical analyses in R” or “supervised undergraduate research assistants”

        And yes, office experience, but I’ll work on cutting this down

        Thanks!

        1. But Not the Hippopotamus*

          Ok, if you have publications to list (which is more of an academia thing than the rest of the world), and that pushes you into two pages, I’d be ok with that; extra sections need extra space (patents get the same in my book). I see a lot of “class projects” stuff and… I just generally do not care because it’s such a canned experience unless it is MAYBE a capstone/thesis kind of thing.

          That said, make sure publications are relevant to the job as much as possible. I do not list my singular publication nor my dissertation topic because they are highly irrelevant (or, my contribution to the publication was not relevant to my current work, the actual paper did involve some statistics but I was doing the field work).

    4. Spearmint*

      I’m trying to work my way into similar kind of work myself (though I don’t yet have graduate-level education) and have some internet friends working in data science. I can’t speak to the resume questions but my impression is that having a PhD won’t hurt you and probably helps for many employers.

      1. But Not the Hippopotamus*

        PhD in data science can help you or hurt you. Folks who came to data science before it was a thing can view it as a lot of “use this library” kind of learning for the basis of the degree and then maybe an algorithm for the thesis… and that doesn’t lead to good data science. I’ve seen people go “oh, just use pandas (python library)” and use it completely incorrectly and get wrong results they have no idea is wrong. So, just saying, it goes both ways depending on what you are trying to do within data science.

    5. Maggie*

      We hire people in exactly your situation, with your background! (In fact, we’re trying to hire one now!)
      -If an MA is required, a PhD (one step up) shouldn’t put you out of the running. (BA required->PhD is too overqualified; MA required->PhD is totally fine)
      -Yes, Education still at the top
      -Are you specifically looking to return to City, or open to anywhere? Either way, just add a sentence to your cover letter saying that you’re finishing in May and happy to relocate at that point/already planning on relocating to City after that point
      -We get a mix of CVs and resumes, so for us you’d be entirely fine with a longer resume. But even in general, I’d say a longer resume is still safe if you’ve still done some tailoring/editing.

      1. fueled by coffee*

        Thanks, this is helpful (and good to know there’s a market for this!)

        I’m open to a wider range of locations, but my previous city hits the sweet spot of “reasonable cost of living” and “close to family/friends” (I like where I live currently, but I had a family health crisis a few years ago that made me realize I’d rather be driving distance rather than a plane flight away, especially as my parents get older). So I’m aiming for there, but for the right job (and salary relative to COL) I’d move anywhere within that general geographic area.

    6. Chidi has a stomach ache*

      When revising my CV into an resume, I found that it helped to think of which sections my potential employer would be most interested, and put those first. So in your case, if your PhD is very relevant to the type of work (and esp in a field that typically requires an MA), then it’s fine to list it first (mine was not as relevant, so I pushed it to the bottom). I tended to err on the “stick to 1 page” guideline, myself — you really only need to include what is most relevant to the job you’re applying for, and even then only the stuff that indicates achievement (rather than standard expectations of doing said job/project). That principle helped me remove extraneous stuff.

      For the question about starting timeline, if the job doesn’t indicate that they’re open to remote work in the posting, you’re unlikely to convince them to allow it until you can move. But this isn’t something to raise in the cover letter, I think it’s something to broach in later interviews. Also, as you get closer to graduation (like, even by the end of this month), this question will matter less — for a job you apply to this month, if you get an offer in early April it might be just as easy to negotiate a May start date as to arrange temporary remote work. Those conversations will be easier to have if you’re a finalist they’re really interested in, than when they are just screening for basic qualifications.

    7. kiwiii*

      Unless you know your industry is super picky about a 1 page vs. a 2 page resume, and/or you know the positions you’re looking for are super competitive (think 300+ applicants), the 1 page is just like. extra polish/best practice in my opinion. I’ve used a page and a half resume with great success in both my last couple semi-lazy job hunts.

    8. OtterB*

      I have been involved in some hiring for these types of positions, and my thought would be:

      Education at the top
      2 page resume would be fine. You don’t want exhaustive detail about your projects but the point you made elsewhere in the comments about giving a place for bullet items about exercising specific skills makes sense to me.

      You said you’d taken your publications off. I think that’s dependent on the job you’re applying for. If it will be all work for internal/external customers, then yeah, the publications may not add much. But my organization is a nonprofit that’s higher-ed adjacent and while pubs aren’t required, we view them as a nice plus. Maybe list a handful of key publications.
      Relocating – we’re hiring 100% remote people now, so it doesn’t come up. I think you could put “Relocating to City in June 2023, available remotely after Whenever”. Most places that hire new PhDs are not rigid about start dates and expect things to work on an academic calendar.

      1. fueled by coffee*

        This is helpful, thanks!

        For publications, I reduced them to a bullet point about “did tasks A and B for longitudinal study on Llama Grooming, resulting in N peer-reviewed publications” – my specific area of research isn’t especially relevant to many of these jobs (aka, I’m not an economist), so I don’t think the article titles are especially helpful. But good to know that this might be a positive for some higher-ed related jobs!

    9. Moonlight*

      Myself and most of the people I’m close to have multiple advanced degrees and I’ve noticed it’s quite common for my friends with PhDs to get jobs requiring an MA and then, where appropriate, they use their extra advanced research stuff to try to get a slightly higher starting salary.

  24. MechanicalPencil*

    There is a possibility I will have to return to office on a hybrid basis. I haven’t been a regular since probably 2019, so I’m fairly certain my existing wardrobe won’t fit — strength training, pandemic weight gain…

    What are people wearing to work these days? Where are we shopping? I’ve always loved the basic capsule wardrobe concept, but I don’t know what’s “in” these days.

    1. A Manager for Now*

      Super dependent on your job, gender presentation, etc.

      I work in quality in a manufacturing facility, and am femme-ish NB who is more pear-shaped. I generally wear straight leg, high waist jeans (I have had success with Everlane cheeky, YMMV) or skinny jeans and flannels/sweaters with my steel toes. Uniqlo has good flannels and sweaters.

      On days when I am more business than casual, I like j.crew’s trousers (cameron for slim cut, kate for straight, but I’d like to go back into some looser leg cuts that I used to wear a decade ago soon) and a silky buttoned shirt, (I like Everlane’s clean silk relaxed, j.crew’s various shirts, and express’s portofino shirt).

      1. kiwiii*

        Writing all of this down as a femme-ish NB who is interviewing for some hybrid positions
        that will likely be on the casual side of business casual right now.

    2. Ashley*

      I think things are getting more relaxed then they used to be. It isn’t everywhere, but casual Friday has definitely creeped into most non client facing days around me.

    3. gmg22*

      I have had some luck using Stitch Fix for work clothes — best results come with really specific instructions to your stylist about what you want (color, cut, where you want to wear the thing, etc). Also if you try it out, ask around first and see if any friends have accounts already, because they can most likely share a coupon with you.

      1. Been There Done That*

        been using Stitch Fix for about 3 years. I don’t keep everything they send me, but what I do keep I LOVE. And I also shop through them.

    4. E*

      Where I live, wider leg pants are definitely back in. Aritza has some nice stuff. But def agree things are just more casual these days.

    5. GRA*

      My work wardrobe is 99% JCrew and Ann Taylor. If your office tends more towards formal work than casual work, I recommend The Docket blog for capsule wardrobe suggestions!

    6. CheeryO*

      Silhouettes have changed a bit since the 2010s, but I think that most people are still wearing the same kind of outfits, maybe bumped a half-step down in formality. Most of the women in my office are opting for dark jeans or stretchy ponte pants with a sweater or a top and cardigan. Athleisure has definitely crept in, to an extent. Lots of fleeces and sherpas and sweater jackets and the like. Skinny jeans aren’t the trendy cut anymore, but they’re still pretty popular in my not-super-fashionable neck of the woods.

      1. Generic Name*

        Oooh, stretchy ponte pants sounds right up my alley! Any store recommendations?

        1. Pink Candyfloss*

          Coldwater Creek! (online) I absolutely live in their ponte pants w/stretch waist & fabric. They look nicely tailored as well & are very well made.

        2. Reba*

          Everlane, Athleta, MM LaFleur for a higher price point. People seem to like the Universal Standard ones too. Honestly these seem to be everywhere the past few years, so if there is a brand that historically has fit you, see if they have some!

    7. Maple Bar*

      Wide leg pants are back. WIDE LEG! I’ll never. I’m ready to be unfashionable and old.

  25. Ms Matcha*

    Has anyone successfully reduced their weekly total hours of work from 40 to 30 as a reasonable accommodation during the hiring stage or after the hiring stage? Ask JAN does not list reduced hours as a reasonable accommodation. In places I have worked sometimes people reduced total hours to care for children or parents while maintaining full benefits. Curious about people’s experiences!

    1. Interplanet Janet*

      In my experience when requesting accommodations its way more useful to start with the end goal and work from there knowing that your employer doesn’t need to grant you the accommodation you want. It’s useful to think about it in the same framework they will be (so you can anticipate their questions / alternative suggestions if nothing else.

      An example:

      Issue you may or may not need to disclose: Fluorescent lighting induces my migraines
      Goal: I need to reduce my exposure to fluorescent lighting.
      My preferred method of achieving goal: I’d like to be able to telework from home or another part of campus without the lighting.

      Methods the employer might offer instead: We can loosen the dress code to allow you to wear a hat. We can change the light bulbs above your desk. We can install a dimmer or light cover.

      once you’ve written that out, you might start to look at it and say – no, the squeezing of hats also induce migraines, and even ambient light from my neighbor’s cube bothers me. So then you can edit your goal: I need to reduce my direct & ambient exposure to fluorescent lighting without having to wear anything on my head.

      It’s not guaranteed to get you the accommodation you want, but it might at least reduce run-around or intermediary conversations.

    2. Ranon*

      I’ve negotiated a 32 hour workweek as a benefit (not an accommodation) based on a) they wanted to hire me and b) I asked for it. Turns out that place (that I’m at now) has lots of folks who work non full time schedules for a very wide variety of reasons.

      Hiring for the position I was interviewing for was and has continued to be very difficult so my negotiating power was considerable.

      Full benefits has in my experience been a function of company policy, most typical is full healthcare/ retirement/ etc. at 30 hours/ week and prorated vacation time.

    3. Engineer Woman*

      When I think of accommodations, I generally think as addressing health or physical needs. I’m not sure if caring for children or parents fall into that category. If the position being recruited is for full-time, then finding the new hire can’t work full time is that they aren’t meeting the requirements of the job. It could be negotiated beforehand as a benefit (as someone noted) but I don’t think one can claim such a want as a need (which I feel is what an accommodation is)

      1. Ms Matcha*

        Yes, I am asking due to a medical condition. I wanted to point out that I have known people to reduce work hours for non-medical reasons.

    4. RagingADHD*

      Asking for reduced hours at the offer stage or as a new hire is a really big ask, and the reason it isn’t listed as a JAN accommodation is that most employers would not consider it reasonable. Everyone I know who got reduced hours or moved into a job-share situation because of caregiving responsibilities had a significant tenure with the company, and a strong track record of solid performance.

      It was not considered a formal accommodation so much as a way to retain a valued employee with a lot of institutional knowledge, specialized skills, or an excellent working relationship with a key decision-maker.

      1. Nobody*

        I didn’t ask for reduced hours when I was offered the job, I turned it down with the explanation that I had landed another freelance contract (I was freelancing full time when I applied, because I wanted the security of employer health insurance) and the hour-long commute was going to be too much to do five days a week.
        They wanted to hire me badly enough that the person making the offer (the hiring manager, not HR), asked me to hold while he contacted HR for permission to offer me 32 hours a week instead of 40.
        (The commute is why I quit 4 years later. I still hate driving on that road.)

    5. Cordelia*

      I think it’s unlikely – we definitely wouldn’t be able to accommodate it where I work, for example. If we are hiring for a full-time job it’s because the role requires that, and a person working 30 hours wouldn’t be able to get it done. It wouldn’t be considered “reasonable”. Occasionally people have been able to reduce their hours to meet caring responsibilities but that’s for an existing employee in a known post where it is possible to adjust the workload, give someone else more hours, etc. It wouldn’t be for a new hire. But if you think the post might be hard to recruit to and your skills are very much in demand – basically, if you think they need you more than you need them – you could ask in the hiring stage if this could be a 30-hour post. I don’t think you could ask for it as an accommodation though.

  26. Shelshell*

    I am currently covering a maternity leave which will be ending in a few weeks. With over 20 years’ experience I JUST got my resume to 1 page and adding this position is going to cause havoc. It will look terrible plus what I’m doing does not add to my experience just that I’m working. However will they wonder what I’ve been doing for 10 months if they don’t look at my cover letter? Appreciate any advice.

    1. Dumb Bell*

      We’ve recently been doing hiring here and having looked at a few resumes, along with interviewing applicants, it’s not a huge red flag to have a recent gap. Especially with the pandemic my stance has been that not everyone has been able to do a job that is marketable in their field or resume worthy. A line in your cover letter would be fine.
      I also think it would be fine going over 1 page given your level of experience, but if that won’t do then I’d say it’s fine to omit from the resume.

    2. L. Ron Jeremy*

      A two page resume is fine. No one had evet asked me why mine was two pages, especially after seeing that the accomplishments at each job built my skillset to a highly desirable level.

    3. SGPB*

      Your resume does not NEED to be one page if you have that much experience!!!! whoever told you that gave you bad advice

      1. Snow Globe*

        +1

        One page is good for someone just out of school, with maybe one or two professional jobs. After 7-10 years, going to two pages is fine.

      2. Anecdata*

        If you do want to cut stuff to keep it I’ve y page, cut the 20 year old items, not your most recent experience

      3. ThatGirl*

        Right! Mine is about 1 1/2 pages, and that’s with cutting stuff from early in my career way down. I’m not sure if “I just got it to 1 page” means you were cutting things or not though

  27. Cold Call Catastrophe*

    I applied for a raise a week ago and haven’t heard anything since then. The company I work for now doesn’t do regular raises, so I have no idea what’s normal in terms of a wait time. Is there a rule of thumb about when to ask for an update on a raise request?

    1. Decidedly Me*

      I’ve always heard back within a few days, but at my company, I just bring it up to my boss directly.

      1. Prospect gone bad*

        A few days? I’m a director and these things always take at least a few weeks to approve. Your job just says “yes” right away? It’s a good system here too! It’s just that there are a few hundred bills and emails a day, nothing gets automatically approved right away

        1. Little Beans*

          I would be thrilled with a few weeks. I’ve been waiting for a promised raise for over a year. At least now they are saying that it will be retroactive…

        2. Decidedly Me*

          Yup – a few days for real :) I doubt that will be true for much longer as we continue growing, but I work for a founder run company that runs like a start up in many ways still, so there isn’t the red tape for things like this.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      You can ask your manager what the usual timeline to hear back is at your company. “Hey, [boss], I put in an application for a raise a week ago. How long does it usually take before people hear back about their raises?”

    3. glowjack*

      Go to your manager, and if you don’t have one, HR.

      “Hi, [so and so], I recently applied for a raise and I was hoping to get a timeline for when I should expect a response, or when I should follow up.”

  28. Ms Matcha*

    Forgot to include, what is considered a reasonable negotiation for start date? If New Job wants me to start asap, is pushing start date back to 1 month after their proposed date reasonable on my end? Thanks.

    1. I edit everything*

      An extra month would be a big ask, I think, if they want you ASAP, unless you have a really good reason for that long a wait. With a two-week notice to Old Job being standard, that’s doubling or tripling the time they have to wait for you (if their requested start date allows for your two weeks, and then you’re looking at a month after that, for six weeks total from accepting the job to start date).

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      If you ask to start in 4 weeks and the runner up candidate was almost as awesome as you and can start tomorrow that may be a problem for you….

    3. Hlao-roo*

      Depends on the company. A few of my friends have changed jobs within the past year and they each asked for (and were granted) a start date 6 weeks out: two weeks to give notice at their current job, and a month off in between jobs.

      I think it would be reasonable to ask for three or four weeks, especially if you say “I need to give two week’s notice to my current job and then I would like a [week or two] to make sure I am fully rested before starting [new job].” It’s also very reasonable to ask for more time if you are moving.

      If you don’t currently have a job you need to give notice to, and aren’t moving, it may be more of a reach to ask for a month.

      1. Ms Matcha*

        Thanks! The hiring team wants me to start soon but HR has not presented the formal offer. A background check and some other things are also required before starting, so I don’t think the immediate start date is even realistic. And the time cushion to rest between gigs is so needed!

        1. Eyes Kiwami*

          In my experience, bigger companies are used to things moving slowly; in some countries 30 days notice is the norm. So a larger multinational company likely won’t balk, and a smaller/more agile/US only company used to 2 weeks notice might not be happy.

  29. R*

    Hello all! I work in a very technical field, on a very small team. Recently, we have been told repeatedly how our work load will be increasing this year, as our team has proven itself in some good ways. With this, we have added 1 new team member. This team member does not have the technical background the rest of the team does, often being incapable of completing the work set out for them. They have been on our team for almost 2 months now, while ‘interning’ on our team previously, and in that time has not managed to complete a task. Is there a good way of bringing up this individual’s lack of qualifications and aptitude with my supervisor?

    Thank you,
    R

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      How is New Person accountable for their work? I’m wondering why your supervisor is not already aware of this situation?

      I work from a written work queue, so I often will mark things that I need to complete as “waiting on authorization of project X”. My supervisor and I meet twice a week to discuss my work queue, so I get to mention these items then, and point out patterns that I’m seeing. (In all fairness, my supervisor tends to see these as well.) Do you have a similar kind of tracking system that you can use as a springboard to this discussion?

    2. Spearmint*

      I’d first make sure there isn’t some sort of plan to train this be hire. Perhaps you’re expecting too much too early, and your manager’s plan is for this new employee to focus on learning for the first, say, 6 months.

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      Are there any tasks this person can do that would be helpful?

      Definitely talk to your manager & give concrete examples. Maybe ideas for training they could take.

      I’ve been there & it stinks! (My manager knew the limitations, but upper management wouldn’t let us resolve it until the coworker finally got laid off.)

  30. flora_poste*

    This isn’t me, but my partner : He is a mechanical technician at a science institute looking to transition out of blue-collar to white-collar work. At the moment, his tentative plan is to apply for an MBA, but these are so expensive and he isn’t really excited about the prospect of completing one – but he thinks it would fast-track him to an office. I feel there must be other options, but I don’t know anything nearly enough to offer advice.

    He is convinced that career coaches don’t exist for people like him not already in some form of office job – if anyone has any experience with, or leads for, career coaches for this sort of move, it would be greatly appreciated. Or advice in general, for anyone who has made this transition or who knows anyone who has!

    Thank you :)

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      I guess it depends on what kind of office work he is looking for.

      At my last job, I would love to have been able to hire someone to handle the office side of things who actually had an understanding of what was going on out on the production floor. But those people are as rare as hen’s teeth. I was perfectly happy to train all the office procedures if they only they already knew the technical/mechanical side of things.

      Not advice, but perhaps a bit of perspective.

      1. flora_poste*

        Thanks, that’s helpful! I think part of the problem is that he doesn’t know exactly what sort of office job he wants, which is hampering his ability to get there. But this makes a lot of sense and I will pass it on.

    2. I edit everything*

      Almost no office jobs require or even want an MBA, so that seems like a weird approach. He’d be better off figuring out what industry he wants to be in and what kind of office work he wants to do, and then following up with whatever training/qualifications that specific role requires.

      1. flora_poste*

        I COMPLETELY agree re approach. I think his fixation on an MBA is because he feels very under-educated amongst our very over-educated social circle, not having a degree, and an MBA would catapult him a bit out of that. I very much understand where he’s coming from, but not necessarily where he’s going with it.
        He is finding the figuring-out part of the process challenging, including because of simply not knowing what’s out there – and where I’ve had, and know of, good experiences with career coaches to help iron this out, he doesn’t think they’re available to him. Will share your advice with him and see how we go!

        1. irene adler*

          Is his experience in a specific scientific industry?

          Riffing on Peanut Hamper’s comments (which make a very good point!), would there be a professional organization *in this industry* that would have folks able to advise hubby regarding what it actually takes to get the positions he wants? That’s one thing professional organizations can do, mentor and offer advice on how to “get there from where you are now”.

          See, without knowledgeable guidance as to what it actually takes education-wise to score the desired positions, there’s a lot of chance involved. And money too (for an MBA at least!). What happens if the MBA is earned/money spent and this makes no difference to employers? Does he keep speculating as to what they are looking for, spending the money/time to obtain the degree/certification, only to find out employers want something else? Find the folks who are doing the jobs he wants, find out what skills/experience/education they have that got them the job (might use LI for this too). And ask them for advice and resources to make his dream a reality.

          (might see if there are groups on LinkedIn that he can join where folks would be available to offer suggestions on how to ‘get there from here’.)

          If he’s not sure about the specific industry he wishes to work in, he might look at jobs that call for his skills and then see if the companies running the jobs have white collar positions too. Or see what industry the jobs pertain to and seek out the professional organization involved. Then ask them questions.

        2. Wonderer*

          Going from not having a degree to having an MBA seems like an unnecessarily large step. Why not just try to get a degree?
          On the other hand, It’s probably better to just start looking for office jobs in fields adjacent to what he’s already doing. Even if it takes a few years to get some traction, he’s saved the time and money that he would have spent getting a degree!

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Would an MBA program even accept someone who didn’t have a bachelor degree? I mean, it was a requirement for my program at least.

    3. TPS reporter*

      He could try for entry level office jobs at a university where he can take classes at a discount. It’s possible that universities would see his willingness to learn as a selling point and as far as I can tell once you’re in at a university there are many opportunities to move up.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        Keep in mind that universities are one of the few places that are absolute sticklers about “required experience”. So if they say “two years office experience required” and you don’t have it, they won’t even look at you. You could be a combination of Batman, Jonas Salk, and Mr. Rogers and they still won’t consider you.

    4. Hlao-roo*

      Is he interested in being an engineer? And how fast does he want to move into an office job?

      If he wants to be an engineer, there are two broad paths he can look at: a full-time, four-year undergraduate engineering degree or a two-year program at a community college and then transferring to a state school to finish the undergrad degree. He could look at different combinations of working and schooling (like part-time work and part-time class schedule). And if he already has an associates degree, he can see if any of those credits are transferable to a state school and potentially only do two or three years of classes for a degree.

      I mention engineering specifically because engineers who have technical, hands-on experience are very valuable and he would likely be a competitive candidate with mechanical technician experience and an engineering degree.

    5. Frankie*

      I know this varies by location and the state of the economy, but this could be a good reason to do some temp work. I got a couple of jobs early on that were temp to perm (the temp ones didn’t necessarily pan out but they will build some experience). Weirdly I’ve had much more success with temp to perm than just randomly applying to open positions. But you’d have to be able to forgo benefits for a while.

      An MBA will be next to useless in many/most “office” jobs. Nothing against the degree or the skill set it develops, it just doesn’t sound like it’s what will get him on the track he wants to be on.

      1. Wonderer*

        I absolutely agree. It’s not like in movies where having an MBA suddenly means you get to sit around drinking coffee all day in an expensive corner office wearing a custom suit.

    6. Violet Newstead*

      What type of mechanical technician? Like plumber or electrician? Or repairs and services specialized scientific equipment? Also how does he characterize blue-collar vs white-collar work?

      If more of a trades profession (plumber, electrician, machinist), maybe looking at facilities management type positions could be a transitional role? More scientific equipment things, could be more lab management? If he has lots of experience with a certain types of equipment, maybe technical sales or technical engineering roles for that equipment? Those would again be a combination of office type work and more hands-on stuff.

      What does he like about what he does now? What elements would he keep? Why does he want an office-type job? What aspects of office work or planning would he be good at?

    7. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      The way to know if an MBA is something he needs is to do a “practice” job search.

      Scour Indeed/your job board of choice for the job titles that he is thinking about and read the descriptions and requirements carefully. Anything that seems to be a good fit for him for the long run, put in a stack. Then look at what it would take to have 60-70% of the requirements. If there’s an obvious gap that, if filled, would launch him to at least “reasonably qualified candidate” level, then fill that. If he can already meet 60-70% now, then he should just start applying. And maybe taking some online trainings for things like MS office or basic project management (or whatever he wants to do) knowledge so that when asked about it he’s got something to say. [I’m going to guess that they won’t be looking for an MBA.]

      If he doesn’t know what he wants to do, start from his current industry — look for employers who do something close to what he’s doing now. Read the complete list of job postings there and “try on” positions that would be a good fit. If he’s staying within his own industry/subject area it’ll be a lot easier to make a career shift (and he can always take a second step away after the first job gets him the experience he needs).

      Another great trick is to search on LinkedIn for people who have had the job title he has now. Then look for the people who aren’t doing it now, and read their profiles to figure out what their career progression was. That might help shape his ideas about the pathways that others have taken.

    8. OtterB*

      What I thought of first was some kind of project management certificate. Adding that to hands-on knowledge of the technician work might position him well. This varies by location but our community college has project management courses that are non-credit but prepare for a certificate.

      I agree with Hlao-roo that engineering might be a good fit. My husband is a chemical/mechanical engineer and I know he has worked with and respected engineers who were previously welders or other technical specialists.

      This seems like a good place for an informational interview. If there’s someone he knows at his work that has an office job he thinks he might like, could he talk to them a little about how they got into that line of work and what kinds of credentials are needed for it.

  31. Moving job seeker advice*

    I posted a couple weeks ago in an open thread about tackling the question in my cover letter of why I’m looking for a new position when we moved interstate and I took one completely out of my industry. Happy to report I’ve had a few bites for phone interviews, one follow-up interview. Not as many as I was hoping for and unfortunately some require taking a little bit of a step down to get back in my industry (I didn’t think that 6-7 months was long to be out of the game but I guess it is…). I’ve been using Allison’s interview guide to prepare. But one thing I’m struggling with is just not feeling like I’m worth the job, that there’s no way I’d get it because I’ve been out of that field… any advice to deal with the doubts?

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Watch Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk on Body Language. The body language stuff is great (if you were my client I might make you stand like Wonder Woman and proclaim your worth and abilities for awhile until you snapped out of it), but she also talks about some of the self-talk that you’re doing.

      You might have to take a step down, or you might be beating yourself up about it unnecessarily. At this point your reason to have been out of the field was that you relocated and needed to find employment, but now you’re happy to have a chance to return — which is a perfectly great way to spin your situation.

  32. ariel*

    I have a coworker I don’t like and who I sit next to. Tale as old as time, right? They (Bob) have codependency issues that mean when my stapler breaks, they are RIGHT THERE to “help” me fix it and even try to take charge. In addition to being annoying, it’s triggering. Bob fidgets a lot, which makes it hard for me to focus (we probably have similar issues that just manifest in different ways). Bob’s a perfectionist in a way that is obviously detrimental personally and also has affected the team (our boss is working on it).

    None of this is their fault, but it’s becoming increasingly clear to me that I don’t want to be buddies. All fine – except my department is close and we are buddies; one of my coworkers is one of my best friends. So they see me being warmer to others. I feel bad, but I don’t want to know about Bob’s life because what I’ve heard is hard to take (the codependency is strong in this one). So far I’ve been using a litany of “that sounds hard”s and “I’m fine, thanks, I don’t need help”s to maintain distance. Any other ideas about how to be warm to Bob but still preserve some boundaries and not be a shoulder to cry on?

    1. E*

      If the main prob is Bob when you’re at your desks, would it work to explicitly draw a kind of boundary around that time and then throw Bob a bone and be warmer on a regular but not frequent basis? Like , ” I really need to be in the zone so I won’t engage with you much when we’re at our desks” but then have a standing appt to go out to coffee once a month? (That might still be terrible if you find Bob intolerable all around)

    2. CheeryO*

      I agree with E on throwing him a bone, to an extent. I used to have a Bob, and we eventually got into a routine where we’d chat for 5-10 minutes in the morning every day (always with me grey rocking if it seemed like he was looking for too much validation). Then we’d more or less work in peace for the rest of the day. There were definitely times where I would fake deep focus and avoid eye contact when he passed my desk so he wouldn’t try to engage. If he tried to take an opening (commenting on my end of a phone call after I hung up, for example), I would respond but try to wrap up the conversation quickly.

      You definitely need to be firm with your boundaries, especially since it sounds like there might be some gendered elements at play. Men like this will absolutely take advantage of any degree of warmth that you show them. I would honestly probably aim for polite rather than warm. It’s totally fine to not be buddies with everyone.

      Some stuff you might need to just let go. The fidgeting is not really something you can fix. If you can pop in headphones or slightly re-arrange your seat so he’s not in your line of sight, maybe that would help. Hopefully your boss will address the work impacts.

    3. glowjack*

      Remind yourself in your head that Bob’s feelings are not yours to manage. Bob is an adult. If they are hurt or offended, they will just have to decide how to deal with that. And if they choose to deal with it in an unprofessional way, then you can address that professionally. But draw that mental boundary as firmly as you draw any external boundary: Bob’s feelings are “none of my business”.

      IE: being polite but not friendly is not being rude. Being clear about when you need to focus and when you don’t want their help is not being cold. You do not owe Bob friendship just because you are friends with someone else in the department, especially when your personalities don’t match up. It’s not necessarily comfortable, but it’s morally and professionally fine.

      I would retire “that sounds hard” and similar because I think to someone like Bob it might come across as an invitation to keep sharing. Go as bland as possible without straight-up ignoring them. “I see”, “Hmm”, and such. CheeryO mentioned grey rocking and I recommend this as well.

    4. Moonlight*

      What comes to mind is what Alison often asks/challenges people on in posts: how direct have you actually been? I feel like that’s been a big take away to learn that if you’re softening the language, the person might not understand (eg just thinks you’re being nice, just thinks you referencing this one moment) even if you think you’re being direct. I wonder if you’d be comfortable telling Bob that he really needs to back off. You can be nice about it “I’ve noticed that you want to step in to help with even minor things like fixing a stapler. I’m finding it make me feel like I am being undermined. I’m sorry I didn’t say anything earlier: I was unsure how to address it. Going forth, cold you wait for me to ask for help? I’d really appreciate it!”

  33. Free Meerkats*

    This week’s drama:

    Our great-great-grandboss got a scathing email from one of the Facilities supervisors about not being able to clean our floors because of the “cat that is in there sometimes when we go to clean and tries to shred us up.” We’ve had our semi-feral office cat inside some nights while he was healing from an injury. And yeah, he’s not a cuddly boi if he doesn’t know you, I’m his least favorite human who works here (https://photos.app.goo.gl/oCEG2bF2zvDfGbzEA ); but he’s more interested in getting TF out of the building if someone he doesn’t know is here. The only way I could see him trying to shred someone is if they try to pick him up to throw him out.

    I’m drafting an email to mollify the concerns and essentially telling them to leave the door open and all they’ll see of him is a black and white blur. Boss, grandboss, and the entire chain up to great-great-grandboss understand that the feral cats who live here are needed for rodent control at our remote location. It’s just my office’s cat is more socialized.

      1. Free Meerkats*

        I’m not His Person. I was just the only one in that day and was Provider of Gooshy Food; so I got some love. Plus he carries animus toward me because I was the one who trapped him and took him to get altered, then tended him for a couple of days in the basement (we have a permanent building attached to our double-wide) to heal before releasing.

        He’ll be adequately fed and loved when I’m gone. ^.^

    1. TPS reporter*

      is he neutered? that would go a long way to calming him down/much less likely to “shred.” He could also be really freaked out by the sounds the Facilities people make. One of my cats goes from sweet to cray when the blender is on.

      Would you be able to confine him to an office with food and a litter box at night when you leave? And ask the Facilities people not to clean that office?

      I also have to say it’s very unusual for a feral cat to sit on laps. You may want to consider getting him to a local rescue as an adoption candidate.

      1. Free Meerkats*

        He is neutered (note the ear tip); we work with the local Cat Coalition to do TNR on the ferals and dumped cats that show up here. Butler is more socialized than the rest, he was born under our trailer office and we got an early start on him and his sister who disappeared a few years ago.

        Since the Animal Shelter is less than a quarter mile away, we grab and take the obvious house cats that have either escaped or been dumped out here to them for adoption.

      2. ThursdaysGeek*

        We had a feral who my spouse gradually tamed enough that she would sit on his lap, providing the door was open so she could escape. We think a neighbor was poisoning rodents — she went missing twice and came back after several weeks in poor shape. Then she didn’t come back. :(

    2. LCH*

      Maybe also try to find someone on Facilities who is a cat person since they would understand cat behavior and how to navigate around them, and receive your explanation better. I’m one so I get what you’re saying!

  34. LeftAcademia*

    How do you address equals and higher-ups?

    I (she) work remotely in an IT company outside of US where everybody (mostly he) is on first name basis. I have no problems addressing and being addressed by younger and/or more junior colleagues by first name. However, I struggle with addressing more senior colleagues by first name and am more reserved during communication. It helps, if my boss either introduces us in an in person informal setting (think grill party) or we work together virtually meeting a tight deadline. Once I overcome the initial shyness, I actively contribute, can lead meetings and projects and make myself heard and accepted.

    1. I edit everything*

      General rule of thumb is to address people in the way they’re introduced to you, or how they sign their emails to you. So if a senior colleague signs off with their first name only, that’s a sign that they prefer first names.

      Think of it as doing what they prefer and have instructed you to do, if that helps.

      1. Maybesocks*

        I called my PhD advisor “Excuse me please” as in “Excuse me please, do you have a minute to talk?” I never knew what he wanted to be called, and I didn’t want to ask. Not an easy person to talk to.

    2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      Always first names for me.

      If the culture is first-name and that’s what senior folks prefer, it may feel weird and hard but it’s the correct thing to do! You’re addressing them the way they wish to be addressed, which is ultimately the most respectful way to go (regardless what feels respectful based on your cultural training). And setting yourself apart, especially in a way that appears to lack confidence or puts you on a lower level, will not help you be heard/accepted.

  35. Bettina*

    Does anyone have productivity advice? Long story short: I’m recently struggling to stay motivated at work. Even when the topic of the project is interesting to me! I assume there are multiple factors at play (e.g., new job, new employer, lack of confidence, anxiety about other things, etc.), but I’d be interested in hearing if anyone else encounters this and any solutions (short- or long-term) you’ve found.

    Thanks!

    1. Ashley*

      The reward system works well from me. Do X and I can get Y. Y can be anything from getting up to get water, eating a snack, etc. I also work better with deadlines so setting some might help.

    2. Dumb Bell*

      Personally, I’ve now understood what is a ‘day’s work’ at my job and so when I hit a wall in terms of motivation/energy, I’ll make a list of what things I need to get done by the end of the day to consider it a decently productive day. Then, as I check things off my list (usually easiest first to gather a little steam) I allow myself to check out mentally for a little bit, knowing that if I just get (most of) my list done, things will move forward at a decent rate.

      Pros: Helps give a higher level view of what you need to get done in a day and prioritize. Gives a sense of control of what tasks are and aren’t your responsibility. Checking boxes scratches a good itch.
      Cons: I love lists so this is definitely not one size fits all.

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      Break stuff down into simple steps – write it out, give yourself a time goal, like by 2pm I want to have done XYZ and by 230 I want to have launched the ABC thing.

    4. CrankyIsta*

      Set a timer to work for 15 minutes or even go full pomodoro method (25 on, 5 off). But working for 15 minutes helps me get over my ‘I don’t know what I want to do next/I don’t want to do that’ issue because it’s only 15 minutes.

    5. Prospect gone bad*

      Are you taking days off to give yourself a break? I push my people to take days off because I noticed they get like this after a while. So do I. If you’re always working, your brain eventually goes into this moth where it’s only working at 70 percent.

      When the person takes off a day here and there they always overperform the next day (though they usually underperform the few days after a long break, but they still should take them)

    6. Turingtested*

      I find it effective to insist that I work for 10 minutes. 99% of the time I’m off and running after that.

      Also I find planning and outlining to be helpful. Do a little of that on all my projects and I always get farther than I thought.

  36. Becky*

    How do you deal emotions around leaving a job, even if it might be best for you?

    I started a new job 2 months ago and immediately it didn’t feel right. I got no training and basically thrown in the deep end, there was no documentation or direction of any kind, and I realized pretty fast the work was much more technical and basically none of the interesting, insights-oriented stuff I’m good at and wanted to be part of my work (and thought was part of this job). So I kept looking, thinking a short gap on my resume would be better than a 6 month stint.

    I may be close to getting an offer from another company that seems promising. And yet I suddenly feel…sad? about leaving. My boss has gotten friendlier from their original gruffness and told me yesterday I’m doing a good job (even though I feel like I’m doing terribly), I’ve bonded with a coworker over a common interest, and fundamentally it’s a good job – good pay, remote, reputable company. I just feel like the work isn’t right *for me*, especially if I want to be in a thought leadership type of role eventually. This work will take me away from that.

    So why am I balking at leaving? Has anyone ever experienced this before?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I’ve felt sad about leaving jobs before, particularly when I liked my coworkers (even when I didn’t like other things–the work, the location, etc.). My advice is to let yourself by sad but don’t let that sadness stop you from leaving. Cry, eat a pint of ice cream, call up a good friend and tell them how unfair the world is that you just bonded with a coworker over [interest] and now you’re leaving, whatever you need to do to feel the sadness (when you’re off the clock).

    2. Hotdog not dog*

      Yes, and when I really thought it through, I realized that the regret mainly stemmed from the job not turning out to be what I had hoped it would. It was the right decision for me to move on.

      1. Becky*

        I never considered this before – thank you for giving me a really insightful piece of perspective!

    3. Qwerty*

      This is so normal! No matter how bad a job is, the moment you decide to leave its like all the not-bad things come to the surface to try to lure you back in.

    4. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      I’m going through something similar right now. Got promoted 2.5 months ago into a position I’m really not qualified for, and it’s been a huge struggle. So I searched and got an offer. The new position is hybrid remote, which is huge for me, and it will be more in line with my qualifications and experience. BUT it’s a slight pay cut, which is giving me agita. And of course, things have gotten better at my current job in the meantime. I can’t even bring myself to give notice, which is a problem because the clock is ticking. ARGH! Sorry, I wish I had something beyond commiseration.

    5. Frankie*

      This just means you’re not a robot. People feel nostalgic and bonded over the weirdest things…doesn’t mean it’s not time to move on!

  37. LilacLily*

    Hello! I’m the person who wrote in the open thread three weeks ago trying to gauge whether I was right to feel weirded out by my company, who pigeonholed me into support, assigning an employee who’s several years my junior in overall work experience to line manage me.

    Well, things have worsened since then – long story short, a few days ago I told Meg that she should look into getting some technical training to further her career (she’s never worked with or supported the product we sell but she’s expected to manage the tickets queue, which means she’s almost completely dependant on coworkers available to help her figure out who should be assigned to a ticket or where to send it to). She took this feedback the complete wrong way and reported me to HR, so now I have a disciplinary meeting next week. I’ve broken down and sobbed about this job in the last five or six weeks more than I’ve cried about any job in my career ever.

    A coworker who knows me well and is supportive of me will accompany me to the disciplinary meeting. We’ve both talked about the situation and have agreed that I should grovel and apologize yet again at this meeting so that they’ll drop the whole thing. He doesn’t know it yet but I am only waiting until this month’s bonus pay is in my bank account before handing in my notice. I have enough savings for a couple of months, I’ve been job searching furiously and even had a second interview with a great company today that I’m quite hopeful about.

    Thank you to everyone for reassuring me I wasn’t insane when I wrote in the other week. The AAM community keeps me going and gives me hope. Fingers crossed I’m in a much better headspace in a few months from now.

    1. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      UGH! She reported you to HR for that? She is not ready to be a manager and you are doing the right thing by getting out. Hang in there. It will all be behind you soon.

    2. SofiaDeo*

      Why must you grovel and apologize? You don’t say how the particular comment re: “if you get more technical training it will be easier for you to assign tickets without asking someone for help” came up. Perhaps instead of being upset/apologetic, can you be “confused as to why *she* is upset/reported you” and the person going with you for “support” as backup, can verify your statement is correct? Because if she can’t manage the tickets until she gains at least some of this knowledge, I don’t get why what you said is so heinous. What exactly did she complain about to HR?

      1. LilacLily*

        The reason why it came up is because she reaches out to me on a daily basis with questions about where/who to assign tickets to; we were in the middle of a call doing just that when I, out of curiosity, asked what her background with the company was. Meg seemed to take the feedback in earnest and I thought our rapport meant we could both be honest with one another, but she apparently found the unrequested feedback upsetting. As the youngest/less technical person working alongside the technical teams, she’s had people look down on her and the work that she does and not really take her seriously in the past, so I think she felt that way all over again.

        My coworker’s plan for the disciplinary is to admit faut to a point – I’m someone who values honesty above all else and speaks out often, which can sometimes come out as blunt and intimidating for conflict adverse people. Meg felt talked down to and didn’t appreciate me giving inputs on how to advance her career. I personally think her boss (who is also the head of HR) is doing her a disservice; this is teaching her that honest, earnest feedback from a coworker is actually a personal attack on her character and her professional abilities. I think this whole thing could’ve been sorted out in a call between Meg and I, but oh well.

        I thought about pushing back on the meeting and presenting some evidence I’ve been collecting that shows Meg has been doing a subpar job of a fairly simple role, but I don’t want people to think that I have a personal vendetta against her. Also, since I’m quitting a mere week after said meeting, I think keeping the peace is the best way to go for me, as I don’t want to jeopardize my bonus pay.

        Something else that came up during this whole mess is that they tweaked my role responsibilities after I passed my probation late last year. I was under the impression that the changes to my role were fairly minor, but turns out that I’m expected to provide Meg with this sort of support. Everyone seems to have understood this except for me. Communication about clear expectations is honestly not this company’s forté. I’ve had several instances where I go on believing one thing to be true when something else was it instead. It’s one of the reasons why I’m leaving; the disciplinary is just the cherry on top of the crap cake that has been my time with these people.

  38. M&M*

    Hi all,
    I wanted to ask suggestions for how to deal with my situation. I just came out of a very damaging job, and I don’t want the new job to be a repeat… So, the new project that I am working on is very, very disorganized and the person heading it just came back from mat leave and has no idea of what is going on. I am really struggling to get going due to several issues (including health), but ultimately, as I have autism and ADHD, I find it really difficult to work on disorganized tasks. In my last job, the fact that I have these diagnoses was weaponized against me so I am not keen to tell my superiors about it this time, but I wanted to talk about getting it organized without mentioning any special needs. Do you all have some suggestions about how I could bring this up professionally? (need for more organization from my superiors, and need to make a plan for me to accomplish the tasks, at least initially).
    Thanks in advance!

    1. glowjack*

      You are probably not the only one thrown off by the disorganization, so one piece of advice would be to talk to other people on the project and work together on solutions.

      Those solutions and what to say exactly will depend on HOW the project is disorganized (communication, documentation, expectations, deadlines, etc). But the truth is that if some changes would help YOU do a better job, they would probably also make things better for everyone, regardless of their diagnoses or lack thereof.

      Also, you just got out of a bad situation, and having your diagnoses weaponized against you is a horrible thing to go through. Be patient and kind to yourself.

  39. Chauncy Gardener*

    I’m sorry if this has been asked before, but I’m not finding it when I search.
    Does anyone have any helpful hints for searching for emails in Outlook?
    Any other tips for maximizing Outlook’s usefulness?
    I’m back using it after years using other email systems and I’m rusty!
    TIA!

    1. Trina*

      For searching, I alternate between searching for actual keywords and searching by email sender (from:”llamagroomer@llamasrus.org”) depending on which I think is likely to get me fewer results. If an email contains information that I will need frequently enough that I would write it on a post-it IRL, I pin it. Folders can be helpful but mostly I forget they exist…

      (I’ve never used a work email client that wasn’t Outlook, so sorry if these are all too general!)

    2. CheeryO*

      Use quotation marks if you’re interested in an exact string. I also use conversation mode to keep related emails together, and I’m pretty aggressive about setting up rules to send emails to specific folders. That cuts the amount of searching I have to do down quite a bit.

    3. Friday Person*

      No advice, just commiseration. It’s probably just that I’m not used to it or don’t know the right tricks, but I find trying to search for things in Outlook almost ludicrously frustrating compared with other products.

    4. Hiring Mgr*

      Is there something specific you’re wondering about? I search in Outlook frequently and find it usually works well..

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        I usually fail miserably when trying to find a specific email. For instance, today I was looking for an email I sent to two people about a specific subject. I searched in the Sent folder and it (seemed) only let me input one name in the search field for who I sent it to. Then I put in one major word of the subject and got a million hits, most without the dang major word! And I am very careful how I title my emails so I can more easily search for them.
        Any advice would be SO appreciated!

        1. Reba*

          Have you used advanced search? I’m in outlook for Mac, and I use advanced search when I need to enter in more than one field (like your dual recipient example). You can add a bunch of fields.

          There is also a known issue however of things not always showing in search in the Desktop app. Sometimes I go search for them in the web app when the search function on the desktop isn’t showing things that I know exist. Very frustrating.

          1. Chauncy Gardener*

            Thank you!! I am on a Mac as well, so hopefully this will help. I will also try the web app because the desktop is making me feel like throwing things!

  40. Sleepy*

    Why do some companies insist on doing in-person interviews instead of phone screens as the first “meeting”?

    I’ve done several of these before and they were always a waste of time. They only asked me one or two basic questions that are typical for phone screenings (why are you interested in the job, why are you interested in our company, etc.) and then the rest of the time was spent going over whatever questions I had. So basically I had to take off from work and travel somewhere to chat for 15-30 minutes.

    I just had a company reach out and ask if I was “willing to set up an in-person interview,” and I asked if I could do a video interview instead as I won’t be able to take time off for an in-person interview next week. They said they prefer in-person interviews only.

    I guess it’s a red flag because it means they aren’t going to be respectful of your time and they only hire people who don’t have other options?

    1. voluptuousfire*

      I’ve had tons of interviews over the years and in the past decade, I had maybe 3 or 4 places that asked for in-person first interviews and they were all duds. If the role is really interesting/has a lot of good stuff, I’d say pursue it since it would likely be worth your while. Otherwise, it seems incredibly inefficient, especially since it’s kinda post-Covid.

    2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I don’t think disrespect is necessarily the explanation, but unless I already know the company really well or it’s literally next door there’s no way I’d go onsite for a first interview. It does seem like old-school thinking — inflexibility, over-reliance on chemistry/culture, not keeping up with the times/tech — that doesn’t bode well.

    3. RecentlyRetired*

      I had a similar, but opposite, experience. I was applying for an in-house promotion and the initial interview with the manager was by telephone (pre-Zoom environment), even though I was working on-site in the building next to where he was calling from. Apparently this group had a requirement that the initial interview was over the phone, non negotiable.

  41. Survey smurvery*

    Customer surveys affecting compensation: companies are the worst

    To be vague. Customers get to rate us after every llama grooming. If they don’t give us all “5/5” ratings to every question, the whole survey counts as a fail for us. This affects our compensation.

    The customer can put “5”’on 4 questions and “4” on one questions. The entire survey is considered a fail. The last question is how the company did, and customers are often angry at the situation. So. I know why they mark not 5 and complain. But we get screwed over.

    Moral of the story: if you get a survey, consider putting the highest rating or don’t rate at all. The company could be using it to screw a worker out of a raise, even when the worker is doing a dang good job.

    1. Shiba Dad*

      I sold cars in the late 90s and dealt with similar stuff. We emphasized to customers to give us “all 10s” on their surveys. I don’t recall it effecting our pay, but it was important to the dealership, so we would hear about bad surveys.

      We had sales teams, each with two managers. I eventually comanaged a team. The front office didn’t have any way to track which manager dealt with which customers, so they were randomly assigned.

      It is awesome getting chewed out for an “all 1s” survey from someone my comanager dealt with and I never met.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      It’s so dumb though. Like why ask for feedback if you don’t want to hear it. Not to mention feedback surveys are already biased to the extremes – people very unhappy or people very happy are more likely to fill it out than people who are just fine with it.

    3. CheeryO*

      I hate those! The last car I bought, I gave the salesperson an 8 or 9 out of 10. He was great overall, but there were a couple things he got wrong about the car I was interested in, in terms of features that it had or didn’t have. It was fine since I did my research, but I thought it was worth noting. Based on the tone of the follow-up from the dealership, you would have thought I gave him a 1. Super weird. I definitely won’t be filling them out in the future.

      1. irene adler*

        Ditto for my car-buying experience- many years ago. Salesperson got some technical details incorrect. No big deal.
        They made the salesperson follow-up with me-by phone- to ask what he could do to raise the 9’s to 10’s. Gah!

    4. irene adler*

      I’ve complained to customer service that I object to this kind of thing where anything less than 100% (or 5/5) on the survey will result in problems for the employee. That’s the wrong way to use survey responses.

      I’ve been asked by employees (lookin’ at you, ATT) to give them all ‘5’s on the survey I should expect to receive. Hey, they did just fine (gave ’em all 5/5’s). But being prompted like this really makes the survey meaningless. Hate that they feel they need to do this.

    5. Ginger Cat Lady*

      And as a customer, I really LOATHE when someone tells me their company is doing this. I feel like I’m being manipulated.
      When they do this, they’re NOT getting any useful feedback. And I don’t want to be a pawn in that game.

      1. Lil Sebastian*

        Just to offer another perspective, I actually appreciate when employees give me a heads up that this is how it works. In fact, the only time I ever bother with customer surveys is if I’m told a perfect score is attached to their compensation. I agree the system is unethical, but I like knowing how I can help a perfectly decent worker navigate the stinky hand they’ve been dealt.

        1. Survey smurvery*

          We appreciate you! I’ve adopted the “no survey unless I give all 10/10 or the worker did something really REALLY bad” philosophy.

      2. Survey smurvery*

        I can assure you the workers hate it too. This shouldn’t be the purpose of surveys but companies don’t care. My direct supervisors are great. They push to have the surveys still considered good or not failing in cases where the customer does 4/5 or 8-9/10.

        Corporate said no, of course. Why be realistic when corp can turn around and tell the worker it’s their fault they didn’t get a raise? Instead of the company admitting they don’t want to give raises, they can tell workers to work harder! By Monday control or something, I guess.

    6. Seahorse*

      Yes, the worst. I frequent a chain restaurant right by me that uses these surveys, and they also ask something to effect of “did you have a problem during this visit?” They don’t solicit any positive feedback, just negative. I’ve confirmed with the employees that only 10/10 counts as “passing,” and the restaurant is penalized in some minor capacity if customers aren’t uniformly giving out perfect scores.

      I have to assume the corporate / franchise office is using this as an excuse for not offering better pay and conditions. The on-site managers seem to handle it well, but it offends me on behalf of the workers who are doing a perfectly adequate job and still getting screwed over for the sake of the CEO’s bloated paycheck.

    7. OtterB*

      I hate these. In my job I do surveys of various kinds, not customer ratings but things about conferences and workshops my organization runs. We genuinely want to know if there are issues because we genuinely want to improve things, not because we want to come down like a ton of bricks on something that wasn’t perfect.

      I have always believed in survey karma – I want people to fill out my surveys, so I should complete other people’s surveys – but I do not fill out ones that look like they are this kind of crap. I suspect I inadvertently screwed some people over by filling out things honestly and I’m sorry for that and don’t want to do it again. Plus I don’t like the approach of “if you rate us less than 10, we’ll call and harass you until you change your rating to 10.”

    8. LCH*

      These are dreadful surveys. Also so subjective without any context. Have these companies never seen the horror that is Yelp?

  42. Just a Manager*

    As a manager, how much attention should you give second or third hand complaints about your employees? Someone from a different department complained to one of my employees (and asked them to talk to me about it) that they had overheard a conversation between two of my other employees and they thought that one of the employees (who is white) was being too “white privileged” with the other (who is black). I’m not sure exactly what that means and they did not relay the exact comment to my employee, but it was something about dancing. They’re working together on planning a teambuilding activity for an upcoming staff retreat so I’m assuming this was in the context of that.

    I have my weekly check ins with both of these employees today, is this worth bringing up? I figured I’d do a sort of general check along the lines of “how are things going working with Lee on that project?” They’ve always seemed to like working together and neither has ever had a problem with the other that I know of. Thanks in advance for the help. For some additional context, I am a white woman and so is the person that complained.

    1. MourningStar*

      Hey! I’ve been a manager for a long time, and I used to be a DEI trainer – that second was a while ago so my expertiese in that is old – just giving you my creds.

      If someone came to me and said that, I think my concern would have been more about the person speaking to me in that moment. I would have sought more information – and I might even go back if it is still weighing on your mind. “Can you talk to me a little bit more about the concern you raised?” “Can you provide me more details about the situation?” “In bringing this to me – what are you hoping to see happen here?” I would then thank them for elaborating, and remind them that any conversations or disciplinary actions are always confidential (meaning, any action I choose to take, they won’t hear about it).

      Their response would dictate my course of action. Did they correctly define “white priviledge” to themselves? Did they witness something that may have caused harm to themselves/anyone else? All of these questions are things I would think about. If I’m unsure, I might try to involve a DEI chair if I am lucky enough to have one, if I don’t, I would go with my gut.

      If you don’t feel this was truly a harm causing situation, then I would do something similar to what you are thinking – check in with all of the employees working on the teambuilding activity individually. “how are things going? Are you getting everything you need out of this activity? Do you feel supported? Are you getting along with the other team members?”

      If you DO feel this may have been a harm causing situation, I would speak with the black teammate first, and let them know a situation was witnessed, tell them what it was, and say that someone waas concerned that it may have been harmful. That their fellow employee may have been speaking to them in a way that could cause harm. Then it is on the black employee to decide if harm was done, and if they want to move forward. Their agency is the most important.

      1. Just a Manager*

        Thank you! This is helpful. Since the person who complained declined to speak with me directly or give any detail whatsoever (I also learned they also have a history of making vague complaints about people they just don’t like), I’m inclined to talk to the employees first. I appreciate the suggested language for that and will definitely include it when I talk to them.

    2. Prospect gone bad*

      You definitely need more than this vague complaint. And I usually look for something happening twice before I raise it since many people vent to you when you’re a manager and you don’t want it to turn into a gossip mill

      For example, recently one person kept complaining that another person was unresponsive. So I started watching from afar and realized that they email them right before a regular time somebody would go to lunch or at the end of the day, so the person complaining was actually the unreasonable person. So then in that particular case I was happy I didn’t annoy my employee for no reason

      You don’t wanna just repeat every single negative thing you hear about somebody. Usually need more context

      Tbh overhearing a conversation falls into “stop being nosy.” You have no clue what the relationship is, if they have inside jokes, or even what they’re talking about

  43. How and why??*

    Hello! I have recently started working someplace which:
    1) has grown rapidly in the past 5 years (think more than tripled in size),
    2) has a lot of long-serving personnel with strong emotional attachments to how the work used to be done and a fear we are changing too much, too fast, and
    3) has a bit of a fluid org chart, where roles and responsibilities are often not well defined.

    I was informed when I took this role that figuring out how to get things approved would be on the of the hardest parts of my job – that people without any official related responsibilities would want to be involved, and that the culture was such that we responded substantively and tried to reach consensus in such cases…even at the expense of meeting the deadline.

    Someone mentioned RACI matrices (responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed) in a letter response, and I’d love to know people’s experience with them, and in particular with implementing them! I feel like starting big projects by hashing this out would ensure people have a chance to tell us what role they see themselves playing, rather than being blindsided at a later date, and also may allow me to (cautiously and gently at first) push back where it’s obviously bizarre that that person or group would have a big say in a project that they have nothing to do with.

    All thoughts welcome!!

    1. Joy*

      I was in a similar role, in an org of 400 people who all thought they should be able to comment/provide input into every major decision. It took me 4 years to get that down to a cadre of 21 people who still never agreed with each other. It was pretty painful. I think culture is the hardest thing to change. I agree that having them provide input into the RACI matrice at the outset makes a lot of sense. Keep detailed meeting notes and provide them to everyone in attendance, so if they agree at the meeting to be “informed” but freak out later about not being “consulted” you can go back and remind them that they agreed to be informed only. Setting general principles around who is where on the RACI matrice depending on what types of decisions are being made can also be helpful. Also, if some people don’t need to be informed.. it’s hard for them to insert themselves if they don’t know what’s going on. Sounds sneaky but if they’re not affected and you can get more done without their input decided exactly who has to know what can be helpful. Having your boss and upper management’s support is also key. My boss totally understood the problems I was facing but wanted to no part of talking to his colleagues about them needing to hash out disagreements among their teams BEFORE providing feedback to me about what they wanted. So one team lead would send me conflicting opinions from his team – um, this is your job to sort out. I can’t get your team’s consensus for you! Multiply by 10 teams and I was pulling out my hair. The seniority at play can be a huge barrier to success – when my boss’ colleagues couldn’t agree on something, I had no standing to make a final decision and my boss refused to intervene, so…. 4 years to get down to 21 people and still no movement on many decisions. I wish you better luck!

    2. Alice*

      Just know that there are some people in this org who are longing for someone to make some decisions so that everyone can move on. If RACI helps you get there, excellent.

    3. Baker*

      I’m working on a project in a somewhat similar culture: lots of fluidity, low transparency, roles in flux, no one wants to take the lead and make decisions but everyone wants to weigh in.

      I saw my manager do a cool jedi move with someone who only needs to be Consulted/Informed that I’d like to mimic in the future: thank the contributor and agree with their point while clarifying what will actually happen and pushing the conversation forward.

      For example, in a meeting about a project to bake cookies:
      Me: Does everyone agree that the scope of the project is to bake cookies, and not cakes?
      C/I Person: We also have to look at our flour supplier, because of quality concerns and xyz tangent…
      Manager: Thank you for bringing that up. I completely agree that we need to examine our flour supplier. We have never had quality issues in the past (addressing that the tangent was irrelevant), but I agree with you that this is important.

  44. Whomst*

    My work is starting their annual review process, and I’m already worried about how I can be honest about my goals… Last year I set a goal to try and be more reliable and manage my time better, because my chronic illness was getting in the way of my work productivity. Rather than becoming more productive, I’ve actually just accepted that I’m going to be doing the bare minimum until I’m in a position where I don’t have to work full-time. I’ve always been an overachiever and a people pleaser, so this has been a very difficult shift and while I know work isn’t/shouldn’t be the most important part of my life, I have no idea how to navigate a performance review with the new framework I’m trying to operate under.

    1. Discretion is your friend*

      Could you frame a goal around something like “efficiency” instead of productivity? Or perhaps name an area where you want to up your skills (with the unstated goal of doing this so that you have more balance for yourself, rather than more in quantity/quality for your employer)?

    2. RagingADHD*

      Yeah, definitely don’t bring that particular part of your “whole self” to work (as they say).

      Do you have any sense of how your performance review is likely to go? Have you had negative feedback about your productivity, or do you think you will be marked down on not achieving the goal you set last year?

      Perhaps a useful framing would be that your prior definition of productivity wasn’t necessarily very helpful. And so this year your goal is to recognize your strengths and skills, and use them in ways that have the most impact.

    3. Silence*

      Perhaps phrase it as aiming for consistency where a slow steady pace beats out overdoing things and needing time off? Sort of instead of trying to be the hare you are identifying with the tortoise

  45. Kimmy Schmidt*

    Work outfit ideas with black lipstick? I’m in academia so I don’t think black lipstick will a problem, but I want to make sure the rest of my outfit doesn’t push it over the edge.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      I’m not a fashion expert, but my mind immediately went to the Star Trek uniforms from TNG, DS9, and VOY. Maybe a lot of black with a splash of bright color, or a splash of grey and a bright color, or even all grey with the bright color?

    2. allathian*

      A former coworker wore a full Goth outfit at work, but I’m in a fairly casual environment. I’ve never had the guts to wear full-on black lipstick at work (although I have done so in my social life), but when I wore makeup, I did have a period where I favored dark purple lipstick and black or purple nails, which I combined with black slacks, a black jacket, and a matching purple top, which I alternated with three different gray ones and a pearl white one, and black flat shoes. That was a slightly more conservative environment than my current one, but I never got any negative feedback on my style choices.

  46. Norm Peterson*

    Just an update to the boss who said they wouldn’t approve July vacation until July – the next week, they said they were okay with it as they remembered I specifically mentioned those dates in my interview (I also found out during that same meeting that the 3rd person needs the same days off for a standing event too, so my guess was boss was panicking about being “alone”). Then a few days later said they got permission to hire another person so July vacation was fine. A wild ride!

  47. Golden Handcuffs*

    I’m stuck. I hate my government job. I’ve been preparing to take a year off to try and become a consultant in a niche field that I know tons about and that I’ve had lots of experience in over the past few years, including building up a network of folks that could be the key to making this happen. Then – I got a job offer in another government department, working for a great boss (I’ve worked with her in the past and have talked to others to confirm) and it’s a double promotion- I’d be leapfrogging over the next level. I know I can do the job, that’s not a worry, it might actually be tons of pay to be a bit bored every day. Am I crazy to even be thinking about breaking out of my “golden handcuffs” to follow the dream that I’ve been preparing for for the past 10 years? I won’t be able to work on my niche on the side as it would be a conflict but the job isn’t directly related to the niche, so won’t help me get back to it later. And I would likely lose most of the momentum that I’ve been building up with my network, as I won’t be in contact with them anymore except informally. I’m so conflicted, I really don’t know what to do. Any thoughts/ advice appreciated.

    1. CatCat*

      You’re not crazy. Take the leap. You’ve been preparing for it and know what you’re doing.

      1. Joy*

        Thanks, it’s so nice to hear that someone else doesn’t think it’s crazy on the face of it!

    2. CheeryO*

      From what I’ve seen at my state agency, most people gut it out until retirement, get the pension, and then move into consulting. Things are changing fast, though. The golden handcuffs are slowly becoming less golden with inflation, which I think will have major ripple effects in terms of ability to attract talent and overall morale. I think many of us are in for some dark times ahead. If it’s financially feasible to chase the dream, it’s definitely not crazy.

      1. Golden Handcuffs*

        Thank you for your thoughts. I totally agree that attracting talent is going to be harder and harder. As for me, I’ll never get to full pension no matter what (I started too late in life) but I will still get a reduced pension that isn’t nothing, and have over 6 months of sick leave banked. The idea of losing that safety net has my stomach twisted in knots. And the pay is still really good even with inflation. On the other hand, the idea of staying in government has me feeling sick to my stomach. Not an easy decision.

    3. m2*

      Honestly, if it were me I would take the promotion and see how you like it. That will look great on your resume if you do want to leave and become a consultant.

      Close friend of mine left a great gig at the federal level where they worked for 15 years and left for private sector. They kept getting head hunted. Originally (for about 1.5 years) got TONS of money, but then they were laid off. They couldn’t find anything for awhile after, but they have a decent job now but doesn’t pay like private sector or benefits like gov. They told me they want to go back to where they worked in gov., but HR keeps telling them they aren’t hiring. Clearly that bridge is burned.

      They told me they regret their decision to leave.

      Another friend left, became a successful consultant for a few years and now is back in gov at a higher level and now wants back out again. I think a lot of factors matter.

      You should do what is best for you and factor everything in. You only live once, but having a safety net and benefits is a good thing!

      1. Golden Handcuffs*

        Thanks, good to hear of others’ experiences leaving government. The benefits are so good – they don’t use the term golden handcuffs for nothing! :)

  48. LizW*

    Our new plant manager seems like a good egg but it was confirmed after he stopped by my cubicle and said Good morning. I asked him if he needed anything (he’s still figuring out who does what and where stuff is).

    “No”, he said. “I’m just not ready to start work yet.”

    Dude, you are a human. Thank you for admitting it!

  49. Don't be suspicious*

    I am currently supporting a manager while one of my peers is on vacation. The peer and I do the same job but I know I am much stronger in the role and have cleaned up several issues for this manager while my peer is away.

    Today the manager sent me $200 through an e-transfer and I find it so awkward and uncomfortable. I know she appreciates the extra work I’m doing but that’s so much money. When she asked for my personal email to give me a token of appreciation, I thought it would be like a $25 gift card. So how do I politely send this back? Because it’s way too much.

    1. Alice*

      If you want to ease the interpersonal relationship, you can say, “Thanks for the gesture. I’m not comfortable accepting this, so I’m giving this back to you. If you would like to donate to a charity, then I think the work of X and Y is really valuable.” If X and Y are related somehow to your industry, even better.
      But yikes, that manager is putting you in an awkward position. Why don’t they just manage the peer?
      Congrats for being such a standout staffer!

    2. L. Ron Jeremy*

      As the old saying goes, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. I once had a manager hand me $500 in traveler’s checks (unsigned) as an impromptu bonus for a job well done. I hadn’t realized that I was going beyond expectations, but I thanked him and said I’d keep it between the two of us as he requested.
      Keep it. Don’t embarrass the boss.

      1. irene adler*

        Yeah.
        Maybe use part of the money to bring in a treat (doughnuts, bagels, farmer’s market fruits) for everyone.
        (assuming ‘everyone’ isn’t hundreds)

      2. Mockingjay*

        Funds like this might violate company policy. Financial and conflict of interest rules likely apply, especially between a manager and subordinate. It’s a well-intentioned gesture, but is there another route for recognition? Company award or bonus?

        Personal funds should not be spent on individual employee reward. (Things like food/snacks for holidays or events are fine, because that’s for everyone.)

    3. Hiring Mgr*

      Normally I would say this is fine and no reason to give it back. The only thing confusing to me is why she asked for your personal email when if she were giving you a bonus or something it would be via the company?

      Even if she’s giving you this from her own pocket, sending it to your personal email makes it seem like she doesn’t want the company to know, which would make me a little uneasy.

  50. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

    Is there any way to ask if a coworker (or coworkers in general) wants to cat sit without it being rude or a bad idea?

    Further info:
    All my coworkers are great and trustworthy and like cats. I have about 10 coworkers
    I would not want to put pressure on any one person to do it, though there are some I imagine would particularly enjoy it
    I would pay really decent money (I have 3 cats. I could pay a single human a lot and it would still be cheaper than kenneling them for my honeymoon)
    I don’t supervise anyone, but am in a sort of mid-tier professional position in terms of pay. I would extra not want any of the lower paid people to feel pressured to do me a favor, but also some of them might be interested because, y’know, money.

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      Could you frame it as “I’m looking for a cat-sitter, could anyone recommend one?” That allows people to opt-in if they want to do it, versus having to opt-out if you ask them directly. Or they might know someone you could use that you don’t work with!

    2. TPS reporter*

      Personally I feel like it’s not a great idea to mix personal services with co-workers. If anything goes wrong with your cat or your place (even the co-worker being flaky), it would make for bad relations at work. I agree with approaching it more as- do you know anyone that cat sits that you would trust? To me it’s much better to go with a professional cat sitter that has good recommendations.

    3. Alex*

      I wouldn’t recommend it. What if they did a bad job? That could get really tense at work.

      A friend of mine recently hired a family member to cat sit and it went spectacularly bad. To the point where they are no longer speaking.

    4. MaxKitty*

      I wouldn’t do it. If something happened to your cats or your house while you were gone, how well would you be able to work with that person going forward? Even an innocent mistake (cat darted out the door) could tarnish the work relationship.

    5. LCH*

      If you’re willing to pay money, I would look for a service. There are ones where people come to your home, feed, play, send daily photos to show the cats are still ok. Maybe not in small towns.

  51. Alice*

    So I was feeling salty about not being given credit for designing a project that a newly-hired colleague carried out.
    Now I am salty about me being listed as an author of a write-up of the project; I didn’t know about it until my boss congratulated the “authors” (including me, even though I didn’t write or read or even know about the document).
    Is there just no pleasing me? Credit is nice but credit without input in the deliverable is not so nice IMO. But maybe I am being peevish….

    1. Qwerty*

      Are these the same project? It sounds like the author list may have been the list of authors for the *project* itself rather than people who physically typed out the write up? Or the write-up makes use of the design materials you created so you do have diagrams or paragraphs included in the report?

      1. Alice*

        The normal expectation would be for me to be credited as an author on the write-up, even without necessarily typing anything out, but after being given the opportunity to read it in draft form.
        The funny thing — and the reason I think that I’m maybe leaning too far into the peevish side — is that, had they people who actually wrote it bothered to send me a draft, I probably would have said “I’m sure it’s fine, go ahead” without even opening it.
        Is it fair to feel disgruntled that I didn’t have the opportunity to edit, when I wouldn’t have bothered editing it if I’d had the chance?

        1. Tuesday*

          I do think this is fair to be annoyed about actually! At least if they’d sent it to you first, you’d have had the opportunity to edit if you wanted to. If you chose not to do it then you just wouldn’t get to complain about whatever mistakes were in the finished draft. But you don’t know what’s in there, it could be anything! So I think it’s valid to wish they’d given you the opportunity, that’s just common courtesy.

          I guess it’s good that they did give you credit at least. It would probably have been better if there was a way to be credited for the design without being on the hook for the content.

        2. Loredena*

          I think it’s a natural reaction but one you should probably let go before your next interaction with the others involved. Especially as you know you likely wouldn’t have changed anything the annoyance is in not even being asked, so just focus on having been acknowledged. That way you avoid letting the irritation taint future interactions

    2. Friday Person*

      Ha, I have found myself going through a very similar thought process over being uncredited/credited in situations where I would have preferred the opposite. I ultimately figured out that what I really would have liked was for someone to just check with me, but that ultimately neither situation felt worth spending the social capital to take any action beyond being privately grumpy.

      1. Alice*

        Hah! :)
        Thank you to everyone on this thread for letting me be privately grumpy in public!

    3. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      I once got a Good Job award (a gift card) for a project I wasn’t involved in. I was standing in the hallway after the staff meeting, looking puzzled, when one of the vice-presidents came up to me and murmered, “Take it, you know there will be times in the future when you deserve one but get overlooked.” Then she drifted away, wearing her invisible superhero VP cape.

  52. Slap Bet Commissioner*

    This week I had an interview with a company that I have applied for and interviewed with a handful of times over the last few years (various roles). Within our industry this company is known as a bit of a gold standard and getting jobs there is quite competitive. I have consistently made it to the last round of interviews only to fall short in the last steps. (for what it is worth, they always give me very kind and personal rejections along the lines of “you’re really great, and think you would be a good addition to our company but someone else was just a little better/had x qualification. please keep trying).
    Anyway, the interview went really well (it always seems to go really well though?) and one of the people I interviewed with is someone I know from a former job and they said they were really excited to see I had applied. The interview ended with them inviting me for round 2 of interviews. so, all good so far, and fingers crossed that maybe this time is the one. I’ve just been turned down so many times it’s hard to believe it’s ever going to happen…
    Anyone out there work for a company you applied to multiple times before getting your current role?

    1. Anon for this*

      I have a co-worker who started last month that applied for multiple positions before getting their current role. It can happen and just be a matter of the right role compared to applicant pool.

    2. BadCultureFit*

      Yes! I applied to probably a dozen jobs at my dream company, and was brought in for interviews several times. Once or twice I advanced quite far, and like you, they kept telling me they liked me.

      One day, out of the blue, they contacted me — they had a new role opening and thought I’d be a good fit. I got the job, and ended up staying there for 12 years, advancing every couple of years. It was the best job that shaped my life and reputation in so many ways.

      I always use this as an example of a company really walking the walk — places always say they’ll “keep you on file” but this one actually did!

  53. Me--EMPLOYED!*

    I have a question, I swear, but first….

    Y’AAAAAALL

    I GOT A JOOOOOOOOOOOB

    It’s an entry-level spec coordinator role in an architectural design firm — my experience handling tech documentation at Exjob was a big selling point. The job is a stretch but in a good way and I can get a CDT certification. It was originally located here, but during the second interview with the hiring managers, they said everyone is mostly remote and there are no spec writers in this office. I mustered up my courage and asked if it were possible to do the job out of the Boston office, and they said yes!

    The team really wanted me (!) and they went to the mat for me when the initial offer was lower than expected for the higher COL area. It’s almost twice what I made at Exjob (!!!). They all seem really nice and I can’t wait to work with them and learn from them. I’ll be based in Boston but will onboard here and relocate as soon as I possibly can.

    Thanks to Alison for everything, and thanks to all the commenters who’ve been supportive throughout this long and weary slog. <3

    Now for the question: has anyone ever gone back to work after being out for a long period (SAHM, caregiving, etc.)? I've got a week before I start. Any tips or hacks to make the transition easier?

    1. Hotdog not dog*

      Congratulations! I went back after a gap of almost a year. I would suggest starting to “practice” your new daily routine (get up, dressed, leave the house), maybe even try out the commute if you’ll be on-site. Pre select a few outfits. I also got myself ahead on some personal tasks (housekeeping, meal prep, errands) so that for my first few days after work I could just relax.

      1. Me--EMPLOYED!*

        Ooh, I didn’t think of outfits, thank you! I need to try on some stuff.

        I don’t know what people wear. They seem fairly casual on Zoom but I guess slacks and a nice top or sweater would be okay for first day in office. I did that when I temped in the summer but everyone was wearing jeans, lol.

      2. Lore*

        Huge congratulations! And I second this advice as well (based on my partner’s experience). Getting back into a more rigid schedule was really hard and surprisingly exhausting for him. Don’t be surprised if you’re wiped out in the evenings for the first couple of weeks. If you’ve gotten used to mealtimes that are different than early breakfast/half-hour lunch, try out work mealtimes for a few days and see if you’re surprisingly ravenous before lunchtime or toward late afternoon. Do as much laundry as realistically possible! He found it really helpful to do an overly detailed micro-calendar/to-do list for the few days before starting the job and the first week of it. Like: Saturday before: grocery list that includes sandwich fixings for work lunches; Sunday: iron shirt, set alarm, set up coffeepot for tomorrow, do laundry, pack work bag with notebook; Monday: alarm at 6:30, turn on coffee, shower at 7, leave house by 8:15, etc.

        1. Me--EMPLOYED!*

          This is great. I’ll try this. Thank you!

          I will be exhausted; they just hit me with “We know you’re starting there but we need a moving date from you” and I am now throwing out frantic tentacles to apartments and anyone I know in the area. Which means, I have to go through everything that’s not in storage and figure out what I can cram into my little car.

          This doesn’t quite feel real. It still feels like a dream. I’ve imagined it for so long and now it’s happening and I keep thinking I’m going to wake up.

    2. MJ*

      If, like me, you aren’t particularly a morning person, start getting up and “getting ready for work” at whatever time you will be doing it next week. You don’t need to go out the door when you are ready, but starting on a regular routine will help show where any snag points are.

      1. Me--EMPLOYED!*

        Good idea. My internal clock is way off. I have all next week to adjust.

        It will be weird working in this office when I’m not going to stay in it. But maybe they’ve dealt with that before, idk.

        1. WestsideStory*

          Seconding on previewing your commute. See what the options are, coming and going, to lower the stress level and get you there relaxed and ready to go.

    3. Amity*

      That’s amazing news! I’m super excited and happy for you!

      I don’t comment here often but I’m a longtime lurker, plus I’ve read your blog a few times and commented on it once. Can’t wait to hear updates from you on this!

    4. Squawkberries*

      Congrats !!!
      I went back to a different field after 9 years as a SAHM.
      Make sure you have a few nice outfits that fit well for when you do go into the office.
      Figure out the logistics for your other responsibilities (caregiving, chores, kids, pets, etc) and put them into place well in advance of your start date.
      Dont be surprised if it feels hard and awkward / you may feel out of place at first and know that feeling will pass.
      Best of luck !!

    5. Dimity Hubbub*

      Oh now that is excellent news – a new job AND the location move you’ve been wanting. Congratulations and please be kind to yourself while you’re learning lots of new things and dealing with a move!

    6. allathian*

      Congrats!

      I went back after almost 2.5 years of parental leave. The first few weeks were tough, but thankfully my son was sleeping through the night by that stage, so at least I wasn’t sleep-deprived. I had a pretty regular schedule already, but obviously it had to be adjusted slightly for the requirements of the job. But I returned to an environment where I knew most of my coworkers already, and to the same close coworker and manager, so there weren’t too many adjustments to make at once.

  54. HannahS*

    Strategies for working under a micro-manager? I’ll be working under a very micro-managing supervisor for the next few months. My plan so far is to shrug and do what she wants, while also setting boundaries (I already negotiated a firm end-time for each day, don’t check my email/phone outside of work hours) Anything else to keep in mind?

    1. A Manager for Now*

      Are you a project based employee or task based employee? I’m project based, and I found consistent, regular, written reporting of my priorities and progress helpful.

      So, at the start of the week I would have an e-mail just prior to our weekly 1-1 that was a list of things I was planning to achieve that week and when I was planning to achieve them (e.g. “Validation Protocol for Equipment X Draft: Due Thursday, Response to Customer Inquiry Y: Due Friday”)

      I would then confirm completion when it was done (e.g. “See attached signed protocol. Next step: meeting next week Wednesday with A, B, and C to begin testing.”) or provide an update at the end of the week with progress, reason for delay, and revised due date (e.g. Protocol drafted, pending signature by D who is OOTO until Monday. Will complete approvals by Tuesday next week.”)

      Having a consistent format and time I provided plans and updates (Monday afternoons, Friday mornings) seemed to keep him off my back significantly.

      1. HannahS*

        Thanks, that’s a helpful model. I’m more task-based than project based, but I think a similar approach would be helpful anyway.

    2. Qwerty*

      Overcommunicate. Keep her informed without necessarily asking permission. If possible, have a central easy place she can check and always find up-to-date info.

      When you join the team, have a 1×1 with the manager to ask about communication styles and what her priorities/interests are.

      I’ve found that many cases of micromanagement are the result of the manager feeling out of the loop. Or they are getting tons of questions from above and are passing it through rather than filtering. Having an up-to-date dashboard with stuff like project/task statuses, estimated completion dates, open questions, blockers really cuts back on the behavior (once you train them to use it)

      1. HannahS*

        Thanks–I sent my supervisor a clarifying email on what info she wanted sent at what times and it was really helpful, because now I know what expectation to meet.

        In my supervisor’s case, I suspect the micromanaging is actually an result of her of needing to control things and not being ready to delegate, plus rigidity–like the only possible correct way of doing things is her way, so if it’s not EXACTLY her way, it’s wrong, so she needs to supervise everyone veeeeeery closely to make sure that every! tiny! detail! is to her exact specs. Ah well. She may relax with time, or she may not, but regardless, she’s only my problem until July.

  55. GRA*

    I’m heading to a work conference next week – my first one in YEARS thanks to COVID and some health issues before that.

    Any tips and tricks for packing, things I should especially pay attention to, general conference advice?

    Thank you!

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Stealth-comfort clothes like things with stretchy waistbands that still look professional and use layers to adjust depending on conference center AC flunctuations. Extra chargers for crucial devices (either because you’ll forget them in your room or to be a hero to strangers in the airport), maybe even a power bank or two. Throw a box of granola bars or whatever your go-to sturdy snack is into your suitcase for when you can’t deal with room service or travel food. A refillable water bottle that you’re not afraid to lose.
      Pack your business cards now while you’re thinking about it, and your Good Pens. Probably a fresh pad of paper and whatever else you need.

      Plan your “elevator pitch” for anyone you meet — it doesn’t have to be as intense as a job seeker’s pitch or a sales pitch — just the way you plan to introduce yourself — and include a few ice breaker questions you plan to ask. That way when you’re sitting down next to a stranger you can do a quick “Have you been to any good sessions today” without freezing up or overthinking. And have a plan for yourself. What do you want to get out of the conference? Meeting new people? Learning new info? Keep that front of mind.

    2. mreasy*

      Stay hydrated! Those places are mega air conditioned and you’ll probably be talking a lot.

  56. what in the heck, people*

    When your colleague is away from work, do you share the details with people who call in (non-employees) or other colleagues? Say your coworker has to leave suddenly during the workday, or they’re on a multi-day vacation, or they’re on extended FMLA. How do you share this with others? I feel as though I’m in the minority, because I feel it’s no one’s business, and so I don’t share details. If someone else comes looking or calls in to speak to that person, I tell the inquirer that so-and-so isn’t available and that they can send an email or leave a message. I don’t share the timing of someone’s away-ness; I don’t share any reasons I might happen to know as to why they’re absent. I think this is especially relevant when it comes to inquirers I don’t know from Adam; how do I know the inquirer isn’t a stalker or a potential hacker?

    I ask because I had to leave suddenly one day this week and word on the reason for it really got around the company in no time, it seems. This is far from the first time I’ve noticed colleagues oversharing. I find their oversharing to be thoughtless and rude. Am I in the minority here?

    1. Ashley*

      I think the how long they are out is worth sharing without details necessarily. There are some regular callers I think you could easily say they are on vacation or out sick. (And in some cases if they are out for bereavement even sharing that.) I get not wanting to have your details spread so I have learned to limit who knows the why and just tell others I am leaving and Manager Name knows.

    2. A Manager for Now*

      To a random person trying to get a hold of a co-worker, a response like “Oh they’re out because they had terrible diarrhea at work today and probably won’t be in for a few days” is too much.

      Basically, is the information relevant (do they need to know timing for scheduling reasons or context for why I’m suddenly on the meeting instead)? I’ll say things like, “I think they’re on vacation, so we should schedule for X date when they’re back” or “I’m taking over the project because they’re on extended leave” but that’s about it.

    3. Whomst*

      I think of the many stories I’ve heard about abusive exes/family members showing up at someone’s place of work and politely inquiring about an employee and easily getting information about them… I always lean towards less information – if they need someone for a work thing, they’ll be informed when they’re scheduled to be back, or if there’s someone else they can contact for what they need. If there’s an established work relationship already, I’d be fine sharing “vacation” or “death in the family,” I’m just really cagey about people if I’m not certain they already know each other and are on good terms.

    4. Overeducated*

      I just say that they’re out of the office, but do share for how long if it’s schedule and will be a while. I wouldn’t want the caller to try following up every day if I KNOW they’re not going to be back for the rest of the week. The only reason I’d share a general reason why (sick leave, family emergency, etc) is if the person had to cancel on a scheduled meeting for an urgent reason, where it would be weird to say “they’re not available” when they had been planning to meet at this time for a month.

    5. Charlotte Lucas*

      If they’re on vacation, I say that without other details, & I do let people know about maternity leave. But otherwise they are either just Out or Out Unexpectedly. (Unless they have given the OK to share the reason.)

    6. Marketing Unicorn Ninja*

      I will say, ‘Colleague is unavailable,’ and then offer options (voicemail? email? carrier pigeon?)

      If the leave is planned to be long for whatever reason (vacation, FMLA, hiking the AT), I will say, ‘Colleague is unavailable for the next several weeks but Hedwig is handling her workload so let me connect you with her.’

      I want people to be able to get the answers they need and the help they need and schedule the resources they need but I don’t want to share my colleagues’ business. I also don’t want Jane calling me every dang day for two weeks while Sally is on vacation when I know full well Hedwig is handling the schedule.

    7. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I usually say someone went home sick, or “she wasn’t feeling well, I’m sure she’ll be back tomorrow.” Or, “They had a family emergency.” Normal, reasonable people will say, “I hope everything’s ok” and go about their business.

    8. My Brain is Exploding*

      I personally have never wanted strangers to know why I was out of the office. I don’t want people I don’t know finding out my house is going to be empty for two weeks. Would prefer someone say I am out of the office; out of the office until X, or rarely (like for a last-minute cancellation) that an emergency came up and they need to be rescheduled.

    9. RagingADHD*

      Anything they put in their Out Of Office email message is what they want shared. Anything they didn’t, isn’t.

      I would make a distinction between “away from the office right now”, “out of the office today” or “currently out of the office (or on leave)”, so the caller has a frame of reference on when their message will get attended to.

      I think if you had to leave suddenly for a reason that other people saw / heard/ were privy to, that’s an entirely separate issue from telling things to outside callers. People who work together talk to each other, and if something dramatic happened at the office, or you told your immediate coworkers about it, it’s only to be expected that they talked to each other about it.

    10. DefinitiveAnn*

      I just got a message from my Epic health record app that my appointment with my MD on is cancelled because they will be out of office from 3/1 – 3/31. Of course I would like to know more, but that’s enough information. I think date-level specifics are good if you have them.

  57. Employee No. 24601*

    I’ve got what I suppose is an enviable problem. I’ve recently taken on higher level and more visible duties in my organization. It’s not been easy, but I’m doing my best. I’ve had multiple people make it a point – both one on one and in front of groups – to thank me for my leadership, voice appreciation for me, compliment me, etc.

    It’s extremely gratifying, don’t get me wrong! But also, I don’t want to accidentally create a culture where they think I need or expect these gratuities – it’s literally my job to do right by them as an organization.

    How have other managers reacted in the moment to abundant praise? I’m realizing that unconsciously, my default reaction has become something to the effect of well thank you, I’m so glad to hear that, and never hesitate to come to me if there’s anything I can help you with.

    1. A Manager for Now*

      I also lean heavily on “I’m glad to hear that” and “I’m glad I could help!” and “That is very nice to hear, thank you.”

      In the case where somebody else also contributed, I try to incorporate that, too.

    2. Reba*

      You’re fine. I think the fear you have (“accidentally creating a culture where they think I need or expect these gratuities”) would have to do with how you act after/around the praise, like if people later see you providing better service to those who publicly butter you up. That is, your default responses, which are perfectly normal and gracious, are just the default polite social script; no one should read anything into them.

      Also, the fact that it is your job doesn’t mean some appreciation isn’t warranted when you do the job especially well!

    3. RecentlyRetired*

      Are the praisers comparing you to previous person doing the role that you are now in? As they get used to your competency, the compliments will be reduced to when you do something that truly exceeds expectation. Keep note of the praises (in a word document?) for use when it’s performance review time. Congratulations on the new role!

  58. angelina*

    Hello! I’m an editor (copy and line) looking to make a career change and am low on inspiration. Are there any other editors out there who have used standard editing transferable skills to get into a new field? Would also love any career change commiseration!

    1. msgumby*

      Hi there! Not sure my experience matches what you’re asking for, but I started out as a copyeditor at an academic science journal (no science degree, just BA English) and moved up to Managing Editor. I was able to leverage that experience into managing publishing programs for universities and quasi-governmental NPOs and am now a federal employee managing a medical publishing program for the VA. I still edit final reports but am mainly responsible for coordinating peer review and other program management tasks.

  59. Anon Again... Naturally*

    How do I address a consultant’s anti-trans bigotry?

    I just got off of a video call with a consultant team and I am still reeling. My company’s identity software does not currently allow users to update their gender and preferred pronouns, and does not display preferred pronouns when looking at someone’s profile. We have contracted with a consultant company that we have worked with before to customize the software and have always had good experiences. This was the first meeting with the specific team for this project. Partway through an explanation from one of the consultants on what the existing limitations of the software are, she said ‘not to offend anybody, but this platform was built before everyone wanted to pick their own gender.’ She did not pause in her explanation, but both my grandboss and I’s video feeds showed looks of horror. The meeting continued from there, and no one mentioned it again.

    I was the lowest ranked person from my company there, but I am so unhappy this wasn’t addressed further and really want to push back somehow. The idea that this person would be working on a project to support making our company more trans-friendly makes me queasy. Any suggestions for how to address this concern with my boss/grandboss? Or suggestions for how I could have pushed back more in the moment?

    1. TPS reporter*

      Did your grandboss say anything in response to that? It would have been there place not yours due to the level of seniority.

      If I were the grandboss in the moment I would have said something like- we understand the software was not built in a particular way and what we want to focus on is how to customize it for current needs.

      Are you sure the grandboss didn’t speak privately to the consultant afterwards? Perhaps they wanted to refrain in the moment from getting into a heated discussion.

      1. Anon Again... Naturally*

        Good point- nothing was said in the meeting but I know my grandboss well enough to know that she was equally horrified.

        1. M*

          Then I’d say check with them–if they’ve followed up with consultant that’s great, and if they haven’t you can nudge them to or see if you can do it yourself.

          1. TPS reporter*

            agree with following up with the grandboss. Assuming you have a good relationship you can say you appreciate the inclusive and diverse culture and would like to know that the consultant’s behavior is being addressed or they are being fired!

    2. Antigone Funn*

      As clients you (meaning your boss/grandboss) should have standing to tell the consulting firm that you don’t want this person assigned to your project. And explain exactly why! This is a golden opportunity. You don’t need to get riled up. You can say in a professional, dispassionate way something like, “I don’t feel that this person has the objectivity to do a good job with our project and I am uncomfortable having them on the project. Is there anything we can do about this?”

      1. Antigone Funn*

        Sorry, I meant to say you can bring up the topic *to your grandboss* in a professional, dispassionate way. Probably somebody higher should be handling the vendor relationship.

    3. Anonagain too*

      Unless the consultant continued with “and we aren’t going to make the changes required” I’m having a really hard time seeing how a factual statement about the history of your application is bigotry? Did they sneer or imply they didn’t think the updates were required?

      We saw this a lot with two digits for year records before Y2K. The reasons that drove the programming were valid back then but not now. The program wasn’t developed for the feature back then, now they are adding it for you.

      1. DefinitiveAnn*

        “Before everybody was allowed to pick their own gender” is a pretty terrible description of trans-ness. The most charitable adjective I can ascribe is “flippant.”

      2. The New Wanderer*

        I think the issue is that a dropdown of gender choice exists but is limited to Male/Female. The consultant’s pointed comment about “getting to pick your own gender” isn’t factual because everyone had always gotten to choose a gender (as long as it was Male or Female) with the identity software. It’s problematic because a) not all genders are represented per the current company request, and b) gender wasn’t able to be changed after initially established. “Not to offend anybody” is the cue that something offensive follows.

      3. Anon Again... Naturally*

        As The New Wanderer pointed out already, both the preemptive disclaimer and the following wording are a dog whistle- similar to ‘I’m not a racist, but..’ The tone of the statement was very dismissive as well. As someone with trans co-workers, friends, and family, and especially with the current wave of trans panic, it came off really poorly.

        There was no push back on doing the work- these changes are necessary to comply with new state laws that affect us. But the overall attitude really came off as ‘the things we have to do because people are so WOKE nowadays’.

    4. KathyG*

      Nothing useful to add, but I have to say that I love your username! I can hear the tune in my head.

  60. urguncle*

    I just booked my second work trip overseas, and my first that I will (hopefully still) be pregnant for. Travel time is not that bad (about 10-12 hours door-to-door, about 1/2 of that in the air), but I’m still nervous that this was too risky after a loss last year. Already got aisle seats so I can get up and walk when I need to. Any other tips for traveling at 15 weeks?

    1. E*

      Congrats and wishing you the best for your pregnancy!

      From what I’ve read (I’m a worrier naturally and it ramped up after fertility struggles), I dont think there’s any particular risk to travel, as long as you stay hydrated and take it easy, and your destination has decent hygiene and healthcare. Don’t be shy about asking ppl to help you with overhead luggage, wear comfy clothes, and get compression socks.

      Definitely bring more snacks and bring/buy more water than you think you need for the commute parts and boarding the airplane (buy lots of water in terminal or bring water bottles and fill them in terminal if you prefer)- I got stuck on tarmac at 20 weeks for a while before takeoff and was sooo thirsty. You can ask flight attendants for water of course but it was not enough.

      I brought wipes to wipe down all airplane seat surfaces and stayed masked pretty much whole time other than when actively taking sips or bites so that made me feel better about germs.

      If you feel really nervous, maybe talk to OB beforehand about signs to look out for, and what to do while overseas if something does happen? And if you really want to take precautions, maybe find out a close doc office / hospital to where you’re staying/working that would see you if you feel the need to get checked out when there?

      1. urguncle*

        Thank you! Fertility struggles have definitely made me tend towards magical thinking when it comes to my actions. Arguably, I’m probably better off staying indefinitely at our NL office when it comes to healthcare and hygiene. Excellent tips on water and snacks as well as the wipes. I keep those in my travel bag and LOVE them.

      2. Mockingjay*

        Agree compression socks might be a good idea for the flight. Hydrate throughout the flight (aisle seat will serve you well). Also ask about nausea tablets or other remedy if you suffer from morning sickness (if you aren’t currently, have in case).

    2. Jinni*

      I had very bad morning (all d*mn day) sickness for more than half my pregnancy. I found those wrist bands with accupressure beads to be very helpful.

      Did they pay for business class? Almost everyone I know gets that for international (US to abroad) travel. That gives you more room to move about without squeezing in an aisle.

      Lastly, while most everyone HATES those seats near the bathroom because of the commotion/noise/disinfectant smell – if you’re not sensitive to smell – that location may be easier.

  61. Sparkle Llama*

    Wondering what if other have been successful in being able to use sick time for veterinary appointments. My pet is sick and will likely require a lot of vet appointments that take several hours between travel time and the actual appointment. I expect it will amount to at least three days of vacation and I would prefer to use sick time.

    We have a variety of ways in which sick time is cashed out so unused time does get paid out at least to an extent (there are very confusing methods for cashing out ranging from 25-100% of value depending on how and when you do it).

      1. Sparkle Llama*

        I know it is not currently allowed, but wondering if other have been successful in getting a policy change.

    1. TCO*

      Honestly, I think it’s a stretch. “Vacation” time gets used for all sorts of life things that aren’t fun: moving, meetings with lawyers, school conferences, what have you. The line between the two kinds of PTO isn’t “fun stuff” and “non-fun stuff,” it’s between medical care for yourself/family and everything else. I wouldn’t push for a policy change, but you know your company better.

    2. kiwiii*

      My team definitely all use sick time for vet stuff. Our policy specifies that it’s sick time used for us or members of our household. Our supervisor has okayed this use, though I don’t know that he has informed anyone else in the agency about it lol

  62. JustaTech*

    Question: is it reasonable to request a break to pump during an interview?

    I’m on maternity leave and just applied for a new job (leave has helped me see that I really do need a new job). Assuming I get an in-person interview of more than an hour or two, it is reasonable to request a 20 minute break to pump?

    1. Whomst*

      I’d say that anything over 2.5 – 3 hours, it’s reasonable to request a break. I’m not certain about times less than that.

    2. E*

      This seems like a totally reasonable accommodation and yeah, you have to factor in your commute time too so even if interview isn’t too long it’s understandable to need time in the middle. I think this would be a great litmus test if the employer is parent-friendly and accommodating.

      1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

        Ask if you think it will be an extensive interview, as part of the scheduling discussion. But also get there early and pump in the car if you can, beforehand (or at a previously scouted out public place that will work.). Even if you don’t do a “full” pump, and even if you have to throw it out because you can’t refrigerate, you’ll extend the time available to you during the interview.

        And double up your nursing pads and/or wear the clothes that won’t show any leaks if time gets away from you.

    3. Cheezmouser*

      Yes, if the interview is more than two hours, I think it’s a reasonable request. Find out what the interview schedule looks like when you’re discussing your availability (i.e. how long will the interview last, are there multiple interviews, are they back to back, what time will you finish, do interviews usually end on time or do they sometimes run long, etc.). These are all questions you should know anyway about your interview schedule, so you know how much of your day to set aside.

      If you need to request a pumping break, make sure you make the request during the scheduling discussion, and not when you’re actually in the interview, so that the break is already built into the schedule rather than sprung on your interviewer as a surprise.

      1. Cheezmouser*

        I also agree with E above about this being a good litmus test for how family-friendly a company is. When discussing your interview schedule, you can also ask about whether there is a designated pumping room, whether you’d be able to use it, and whether you need to reserve the room in advance.

        For example, my company has a dedicated quiet/nursing room with a sink and fridge. Employees can reserve the room ahead of time just like we reserve meeting rooms. (This is especially important if there are multiple employees who are nursing.) If you’re requesting a pumping break be included in your interview schedule, see if the scheduler is also able to reserve the pumping room for you at that time.

        If there isn’t a designated pumping room, then you may have to pump in your car or the bathroom. You should take this into consideration as you’re evaluating the company.

  63. hair today, gone also today*

    I have two in-person interviews Monday for jobs that are, at minimum, a 25% salary increase over what I’m making now (one of which was an interview they specifically came to me and were like “please interview for this job we would love to have you” so I feel pretty good!)– BUT. There is a problem.

    I have really severe trichotillomania (compulsive hair-pulling) and my hair is still growing in after I shaved my head again to try to deal with it. How do I show up and look okay for an in-person interview? My options:

    1. Shave my whole head and interview bald (as a female-presenting person)
    2. Try to wear a scarf or something and hope for the best
    3. Wear a wig (I have two of them, but they’re not natural colors and I’m a little nervous about looking unprofessional)

    Any advice would be appreciated since this is such a sensitive issue and also I only have the weekend to figure it out! Thank you!!!

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      I like the idea of a scarf, lets you keep the growth but looks more polished. I think a wig in a natural color would work but non natural runs the risk of not getting the job if they’re old fashioned.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Another option: is your hair long enough for a pixie cut, or other short-but-definitely-intentional haircut? Or, in a similar vein, is getting a buzz cut this weekend (so your hair is short and even) an option? I don’t know how long your hair is right now, but a pixie or buzz cut may be less out-of-the-norm than shaving your head fully bald.

      I think you should go with whatever option makes you feel the most comfortable and competent.

      1. hair today, gone also today*

        Unfortunately, it’s practically a buzzcut right now, and the issue of areas missing is less about length and more that the hair grows back in at inconsistent rates, so it’s noticeably thinner all over the front where I pulled from. It looks like most people are feeling “scarf” so I might go with that. Also, thank you for the compliment on the name ;)

    3. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I’ve got an older friend who has lost her hair due to an ongoing auto-immune issue. She has a dandy collection of headscarves and I don’t think anyone’s ever given her grief for them.

    4. fueled by coffee*

      I think a scarf would be fine – especially if you’re trying to grow out your hair and don’t want to lose it! Try google searching “tichel” (what Orthodox Jewish married women wear to cover their hair) – lots of ways of tying scarves in ways that look professional. And, honestly, even a professional-looking hat would probably be fine.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Specifically, check out wrapunzel dot com for some excellent tips and tutorials on tichel-tying.

    5. Roland*

      Not disagreeing with others, but aside from considering what you might look like to others, I’d also consider what will make you feel most comfortable and confident. That can help a lot too. Depending on the company, long green hair vs bald vs short hair with scarf may or or may not matter to them, but the way you feel best equipped for the interview will always matter. Good luck!

    6. LCH*

      I think any option mentioned would be good. Just pick the one you like best, that makes you feel the most comfortable.

    7. BadCultureFit*

      I work with a fully bald woman and she ROCKS it. Wears great, thick glasses which helps it all feel like a “look.” To others’ points, though, do whatever will make you feel confident!

      1. allathian*

        Yes, this. A former coworker had alopecia universalis, and she had no hair at all, not even eyebrows or eyelashes. She totally rocked that look. She
        was very graceful and her lack of hair somehow seemed to emphasize her femininity rather than detract from it, probably because she seemed so confident in herself.

        But the most important thing here is that you do whatever you feel most comfortable with.

  64. Startup Pivot*

    I’m at a tiny tech startup that kinda lost its founders (down from 2 to 0.25). Help on resources for rebuilding/moving forward while also making a major pivot in our product? Is there something that outlines what the roles are for founders/c-suites when first kicking off a company? I’m going to be the highest ranking tech person for a while, shifting from a senior engineer to….who knows what? We have funding so the company can live on.

    Founder A had an emergency and is unavailable/lightly available for a couple weeks. Handles our sales/finance side, doesn’t know much about tech, is a first time founder. Founder B left just before A’s emergency, due to a personal/family issue so it was an abrupt departure. Founder B was experienced in founding startups was a tech powerhouse. B was not good at communicating what was in their head so I don’t feel like the hand off went well.

    I’m a dang good dev and even have done some light product work but its been for internal systems, not external customers. I want to do more than hold the team together but actually make useful progress on this pivot while A is out.

    Are there good books or websites to check out? When does one find time/motivation to read after a day of staring at screens? A wants to figure out what my official role would be – what are my options there that’s above senior engineer but below department head?

    1. Startup Pivot*

      I should probably also clarify that I’m not going to keep this company alive at all costs, just that we’ve got runway to recover from the blows. I also want to make sure that if the company goes under in 6-12months that I’m in a good position to leverage what I did/learned here into a new job.

  65. Team9to5*

    Searching for the best office snacks! I’m tasked with stocking the cupboards and fridge. What are your favs? Anything to avoid? All suggestions welcome! :)

    1. LuckyClover*

      My office recently stocked “Popcorners” They are triangle-shaped chips that are actually popcorn – which was like eating popcorn without the mess. The flavors were good too!

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      Pretzels! But I would do an informal poll of staff. Everyone has different tastes. (For example, I prefer baked chips & baked Cheetos to the fried kind. I know that’s not the standard.)

      And check for allergies.

    3. Gracely*

      Just make sure if you’re doing granola bars that you have a non-peanut option. And that anything with common allergens is labeled/individually packaged.

      I like those Welch’s fruit snacks (esp. the berries and cherries flavor). And not sure about your budget, but if you can swing it, there are so many kinds of little refrigerated snack packs that have a combo of crackers/cheese/deli meats that are great. String cheese is also a good option. Clementines/mandarins when they’re in season.

      With chips, maybe get a multipack and keep tabs on which flavors are the most popular, then you can focus on just restocking more of those.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      ask your folks, if you can do a survey. My personal favorites are single-serving chips or those cracker sandwich packs, either cheese on club crackers or peanut butter on cheese crackers.

    5. Cheezmouser*

      My suggestion is to include a variety of snacks to accommodate a range of dietary needs if possible. Include options for people who are vegetarian/vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, low sodium, etc. (Some snacks may cover multiple categories.)

      Watch out for common allergens, especially peanuts. Even if the person who is allergic to peanuts doesn’t eat the peanut butter crackers, they might still have a reaction from a coworker who eats the peanut butter crackers and then smears residue on shared surfaces (keypads, door handles, communal kitchen area, etc)

    6. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

      avoid anything with cheese or seasoning dust (cheetos, doritos, etc.) or greasy potato chips. Cookie packs are often popular with my student workers.

    7. Roland*

      Make sure there’s a mix of sweet and savory! How fun to be in charge the new list of snacks.

    8. Random Bystander*

      I completely love the products at nuts(dot)com … you can even get a free sampler pack and they promise to help customize what you get with what your office might want.

  66. LuckyClover*

    I have a question about quick turnovers for jobs. Most of my work experience revolves around higher education and higher ed foundations. Around 6 months ago I started a new role at a uni, previously working just shy of 3 years on the foundation side of the uni (they are separate “companies”). I don’t hate this new role, and actually like what I am doing but I started to see very very similar roles at another uni that pay 20k more and offer remote opportunities I simply cannot have where I currently am. If I put in an app, and ended up interviewing (or in my cover letter), how could I explain myself without looking bad. I don’t want to seem like a job hopper, but my salary leaves much to be desired – I feel like I really should put my hat in the ring.

    Previous employment has been 2 years, 8 months (while in masters program) then the 3-year stint before my current role. If I even get an interview at the new uni, it would likely be 2+ months from now as I know their process is very slow.

    1. Bess*

      From someone who hires in higher ed–I don’t think this would be a turnoff, necessarily. Sometimes a job is not the best fit and sometimes you do just want to make more money! I’d have something to say for an interview but just applying wouldn’t look wrong to me. I don’t think an explicit reason is needed for the cover letter at this stage other than that you are interested in the job–or if you really feel you need to, you could mention the desire for remote or something. And as you point out, could be forever until you get a response so I really wouldn’t worry about it until you’re interviewing.

  67. A lawyer*

    Anybody else get a loading screen (not sure if that’s the right thing to call it) and basically a captcha checkbox asking if you’re human when you come to this site?

    1. History Teacher*

      I have! I’m not sure what’s going on because that’s not happened before. It’s been doing that for a couple days now.

      1. Monday Morning*

        Alison mentioned in some comments yesterday that it’s due to a recent DDOS attack.

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      This was answered sometime yesterday. Per Alison, it’s a (probably temporary) security measure due to a DDOS attack.

    3. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Yes! I’ve been getting that a lot lately, from several different devices and wifi locations so it’s not just my one device

    4. HBJ*

      Yes, I was just going to ask this. It says, “Occasionally, you may see this page while the site ensures that the connection is secure.” Well, I’ve getting it every single time, not “occasionally,” and I’m using the same device and connection I always use.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I’ve had one other person report this too. You’re only supposed to get it once per hour (if you’re on the same device and same IP address). Unfortunately I have no control over its behavior (it’s part of Cloudflare) and I can’t turn it off yet because it’s protecting the site from an attack right now. It’s that or no site at all. I’ll turn it off once I can though.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I am also getting it every time. Understandable on the whole though – hope it clears up soon, that’s got to be frustrating!

        2. Tennis Knee*

          Then it isn’t working as intended, because I get it every time regardless of whether I’m using my phone, tablet or desktop. I just loaded the site in three separate tabs one after another on the same device and got it every time.

          Is there a route to report this malfunction to CloudFlare?

          1. anonnie*

            I imagine she has much bigger priorities right now. Having your site attacked is a very big and stressful thing, we can leave her alone about this while she’s trying to address the bigger issue.

        3. HBJ*

          Oh, well then that probably is happening (once an hour). I visit the site maybe a couple times a day.

      2. Willow Bee*

        Yes, it’s happening every single tine for me too. It’s infuriating. I think I’m going to skip reading here for a few days and hope it goes away.

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          I’m mildly amused that the verification messages are in a different language each time.

          +1. Do what you must to keep the site online.

    5. Sloanicota*

      That’s interesting, I bounce in and out of this site all day and although I’ve definitely had the “confirming you’re human” page and in some cases a loading error, I have never have had a capcha request. I wonder if there’s something about the type of service provider or the location that’s triggering it from some and not others (I’m always on my home network, but different devices/browsers and usually in privacy mode which screws up other sites sometimes).

    6. Still Human, So Far*

      I’ve been seeing it too. My response is to just do that patting-my-pockets thing; think, “Yep, still human”; check the box; and move on.
      No big deal.
      Sorry you’re having to deal with this, Alison.

  68. FlowersintheRain*

    Seeking advice for how to handle a situation within my team, where a co-worker is irritating me. I need a steer as to whether this is a clash of styles I need to absorb or something worth taking action on.

    I work for an expert trade body on let’s say the Teapot Industry. Our members may be teapot makers or designers or retailers or from the wider ceramics or hospitality industry. They look to us for research and to speak for the sector on policy issues. My team’s role is to work closely with the researchers and act as a two-way channel for our members. Each of our team has a set of members we look after, allocated by a mix of geography and specialism. We share a manager “Matt” who looks after other teams too. We all work remotely from home.

    Our newest team member. “Clay” is driving me mad. He is very excited by developments in our sector and loves maxxing out the drama, but seems to miss the nuances in the guidance we publish. For example a new government regulation on safer lid design has been delayed in part because we asked for more time to respond, on behalf of our members.

    Clay had a meeting with a group of his members and then sends a message like “OMG everyone is up in arms about the new teapot lid regs being delayed AGAIN. We can’t expect people to change designs overnight! Doesn’t the Government take teapot user safety seriously?!”

    On one level this isn’t my problem, but it annoys me. Is this about a clash of styles (we’re peers but I’m a 30 year industry veteran and forgotten more than Clay knows) or is it worth escalating? Or do I need to bite my tongue and wait for Matt to act?

    1. SereneScientist*

      How new is Clay to your team? It sounds like he may not be as familiar with the dynamics and norms yet, and this other tension in his working style is exacerbating that.

      1. FlowersintheRain*

        Clay joined about 8 months ago, last summer. So yes, he is new but also has completed his 6 month probation so is now a permanent member of the team. I do take the point that he may still be adjusting to team dynamics, and that is probably harder with a 100% remote team.

    2. Rick Tq*

      Does Clay understand he isn’t supposed to max out the drama, that he isn’t a PR man or cheerleader, he is a communicator for an industry advisory group.

      It sounds like he came from a fundraising organization where every event needed to be amplified into a world-ending disaster to keep the funds rolling in.

      Unless you are supposed to be Clay’s mentor you should let Matt handle it.

  69. Tacobelljobfair*

    A local hospice in my area is looking for volunteers to do office work. I sort of need it on my resume because of a gap and all gaps look suspicious to employers. I don’t know if I should do it. It seems like a paid position they are trying to get people to do for free.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      all gaps look suspicious to employers

      I’m not quite sure where that is coming from, but if I were interviewing with an employer and they viewed any and all gaps with suspicion, I would not want to work for them. Because that is very much not normal. People have lives, and thus have gaps.

      So I guess my bigger question is what kind of job are you looking for and with what sort of employer? And more importantly, how do you explain the gaps on your resume? Because there’s are lots of legitimate ways to do this that a non-toxic company would be completely fine with.

      Also, if a hospice is not-for-profit, then yes, I believe they are within the law to ask volunteers to do work that might be done by paid employees in other, for-profit, organizations. But then again, IANAL.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Going to echo Peanut Hamper that, while there are some employers who regard all gaps as suspicious, there are many employers who are unfazed by resume gaps.

      I have mostly seen the advice to volunteer to fill in a resume gap given to people who are going to be out of the workforce for years (for example: oh, you’re going to take time off to parent your kids until they go to kindergarten? maybe think about doing some volunteer work so you can show employers your office skills haven’t completely atrophied over five years of being out of the workforce). For smaller gaps, I believe Alison has mentioned it is OK to explain “I took two months off to [care for an ailing parent/deal with a health issue that has since been resolved/take my time finding a llama grooming position that’s the right fit for me].”

      If you do want to volunteer, I would recommend volunteering for a cause you care about (a cause you would volunteer for not just to fill a resume gap).

      1. Tacobelljobfair*

        I do have a 2 year gap. I sort or worked during that time for a bunch of different toxic employers for less than a month or so.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I don’t know where you get the last part from– all of my volunteer work in the last couple of years has involved office tasks for health-related non-profits. Things like stuffing envelopes or doing data entry. If they’re asking for a couple of hours here and there for help around the office, that’s perfectly reasonable.

      Volunteer because you want to, not because you think you need to fill a gap. Sure, it sounds really nice when someone asks what you’ve been doing with your time and you tell them you’ve been volunteering, but it’s not especially necessary.

    4. urguncle*

      I did office work for Habitat for Humanity as a volunteer position in high school. Mostly it was just reception, some filing and data entry. Probably paid myself in snacks from the kitchen, but I don’t think I was taking a job from anyone. They mostly needed someone to organize the checks that came in.

    5. irene adler*

      These days? That would rule out a whole lot of viable candidates.

      Just have a ready explanation (illness, kid(s), family issue, time out to regroup after a difficult employment period, school, difficult economy, etc,). And don’t act like it is something to hide.

  70. MouseRat*

    Do companies (specifically, marketing agencies) really look at general application submissions?

    I’m a student set to graduate in May so I’ve been ramping up my job search, and a lot of the agencies I’ve looked into don’t have current openings but invite you to submit your info to a general application pool if anything opens up. I don’t love losing the ability to customize my application for a specific opening, but also recognize it could be useful for them to have my info on hand so that I’m not spending time checking in for any new openings! My cousin has worked in hiring for quite some time and has told me it’s entirely inconsistent – sometimes they’ll look at them, but most places they’re just lost in the ether so checking back for openings is better. Is it worth submitting to these, or am I better off focusing only on specific listings?

    1. Bess*

      I wouldn’t think the general app would be that helpful for a new grad without some defined experience, personally, because there’s less info for them to go on if they do sift through that pool for some job or another. But who knows? If it’s somewhere you really love, maybe it couldn’t hurt.

  71. MMM*

    I’m applying to jobs and just found out that I got to the second round of interviews with one. Both times they have reached out to schedule, she has just offered two very specific days with pretty small time frames. Both times I have had to say “no, actually none of those options work.” I offer up my availability and propose other options, but I feel like it’s making me look bad? I currently work on a hybrid schedule and the options she suggests have fallen on days that I need to be in the office or have meetings, whereas on days I WFH I have a lot more flexibility, and can schedule a mid-day interview and just block it off as my lunch break. Hopefully I’m just overthinking it but I don’t want to be a ‘difficult’ candidate and have it be a strike against me

    1. voluptuousfire*

      It’s not going to make you look bad if you offer up your availability. Saying “x and y times don’t work for me due to my current work schedule but I’m available ABC days at DEF times. Would any of those work for the team? is perfectly acceptable. If anything, it eliminates a lot of back and forth.

  72. FrontlinER*

    I started a new job in mid-December and have decided that the organization is not a good fit for me for multiple reasons and I’d like to start job searching again. I was wondering whether or not I should put it on my resume. Usually I know jobs of 3 months or less, you generally do not, but I took 3 months off between my previous job and my current job. So basically if I leave it off my resume, I have a gap of 6 months. Should I explain it in a cover letter? My previous job was the exact same as this job (bedside healthcare) just different hospital. I just want out of here asap due to them denying bereavement leave for a close family member and writing me up for being deathly ill while on my probationary period. Also, how do I nicely explain this in interviews?

    1. Sloanicota*

      Hmm, tough one. I guess it depends – if the new job was to contact your current job, would they hear some good things, or just negative stuff? If the new job can’t even be used as a reference I guess I’d leave it off and eat the larger gap, as it’s better to be unemployed than fired- or almost-fired / about-to-be-fired. At least healthcare roles are in-demand RN so you’re well positioned that way. Good luck to you!

    2. Rick Tq*

      Bedside health care is SO understaffed I’m not sure 6 month gap will matter to a prospective employer. If you can work in the state and are available to start. As far as why you are leaving I think “not a fit with their corporate culture” should be fine. I will bet you aren’t the first person to leave because of either event.

    3. ecnaseener*

      Yes, I’d still leave it off. 6 months between jobs won’t raise nearly as many flags as leaving a job after 3 months.

  73. beanie gee*

    How common is it to offer a candidate a salary that’s higher than your company’s salary ranges for a specific title?

    I’ve only recently gotten more insight into my company’s compensation ranges by title and we’re planning on making someone an offer that’s higher that the range for that title. Which means they’ll be making more than their counterparts, and more than some people in the title above theirs, which feels terrible. Combination of my industry being pretty competitive right now and our own company’s salaries being a bit below average, both of which are big challenges right now for hiring.

    Ideal world I’d love to both offer this person what they want AND bring our staff’s salaries up to be competitive to the market, but I think it’ll take the company about a year to do the second. In the meantime, I can’t decide what’s worse – offer the person the top of the range but risk they don’t accept, or offer them higher and have salaries be inequitable at our company.

    Since I’m new to this level of insight about salaries, I have no idea what’s more common. Any insights?

      1. Anecdata*

        So realistically… what a lot of companies would do is bring in the new person as a higher level (“senior llama analyst”). This is obviously going to cause long term resentment and turnover at your company if you can’t get current staff salaries up to market value, but it’s been pretty common in the recent tight labor market. And it doesn’t /fully/ protect you from equal pay problems, but it’s less obvious than having people with the exact same title and large pay discrepancies. I wish it weren’t like this, but I think this is the most common course of action

  74. nineofswords*

    Hey y’all-bit of a broad question. I’m a fledgling data analyst (SQL, Python, R and Excel all on the table) but I only have about 1 year experience. My boss just let us know he’s taking a new position and they’re not backfilling, which at a big firm tech role basically means layoffs or reshuffle.

    Any suggestions NOT in the banking/broker dealer field for fulfilling data work that won’t pay 15 an hour? I have 3+ years Risk experience too if that impacts the suggestion (although I am intentionally no longer in that field also!).

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      I work in a utility, and in the past have worked for a city government, lab, and corporate farm. I’d look for larger companies, but data analytics is done all over. I’m underpaid at the utility, but other places had pretty good pay.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Lots of demand for that subject in health and health-adjacent businesses (exercise & wellness especially).

        1. irene adler*

          Yes! Look into either pharmaceutical or medical devices manufacturers! Risk is BIG in these industries. Also therapeutics.

    3. mreasy*

      The music and broader entertainment & media industries are all in need of talented data analysts.

    4. LCH*

      Do you look at the ARMA job board? They have a ton of positions so maybe some in fields you’d prefer.

      1. AABBCC123*

        I know you said you are intentionally no longer in risk, but have you looked at any data positions in the fraud/compliance space? Those positions don’t have to be in banking.

        If you aren’t looking for 15 hour days I would also look at the government. Pretty much all levels are using data analytics to some extent.

  75. Jack Straw from Wichita*

    I’ve reviewed everything that was half-way related in the AMA archives that I could find, but I’m in need of specific advice. I’ve concluded the final round interviews for an internal posting on my team and made an offer to a candidate who, within 10 minutes, the entire panel knew was “the one”–YAY!

    It was an internal-only posting, so I intend to have a face-to-face virtual call with anyone who made it to the first round (10 people) and have offered those who didn’t get an interview (8 people) the opportunity for feedback on making them selves a more viable candidate down the road.

    These feedback discussions lead me to my question… How honest should I be with the not-chosen candidates (two of them in particular)? For some, it truly was a matter of experience or that they had the experience but the other person just had more, but for others, the reason they were not chosen is much more than that.

    Candidate A has feedback like: “desperate for the position in her approach” and “questions and answers reveled desperation for the job” and “hyper focused on getting a new role, not necessarily this role.” This is the third time she has interviewed to be part of this team (and one of them was for my role which she was wholly unqualified for, but since she was internal they did a 1st round with her). She does lack experience, but she really needs feedback on her interviewing presence. She is involved in supporting my team on an ad hoc basis, and is both valuable and someone who could be developed into a permanent member of the team, so I would like to give her productive feedback.

    Candidate B has feedback like: “spoke effusively, long winded, monopolized time and went over time by 20 minutes” and “said that he does what we tell new hires to do–to fake it ’til you make it and speak with confidence even if answer is wrong.” This person is already assisting my team on an ad hoc basis, but based on his interview I cannot in good faith put him in that position again. Both the interview behavior and the act of giving wrong information has caused me grave concern.

    How do I approach this with A and B? Or do I just stay focused on the lack of experience, which is true for both of them.

    1. Somehow_I_Manage*

      I think the feedback beyond the lack of experience are irrelevant. I do not think you owe them that kind of feedback or mentorship, and worse, it undermines the basis of your decision. It gives the false impression that had they presented themselves differently, they would have succeeded- but it’s not true. You chose a more qualified candidate. That’s really that.

      1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

        I hadn’t thought about it in this way. You’re right, because even if they’d been the most professional person on earth, they wouldn’t have been hired. TY!

      2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        I think a bit more feedback for internal candidates than you might give for an ‘unknown’ person is probably desirable.

        1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

          Agreed, which is why I’m asking. Especially when A is someone who I can see joining the team in a few years. I also have the ability to offer her more experience as we use other departments to assist and she is already on the list of people who do that.

      3. Jack Straw from Wichita*

        I want to call attention to the fact that both of these folks are INTERNAL candidates who already work closely with our team. They aren’t random applicants who I will never see again, and A is someone who I can see joining the team at some point down the road, so the feedback on her interview communication/presence would be helpful. Using specific behaviors, of course, not general statements about the perceived intent (aka desperation) of her answers.

        1. Somehow_I_Manage*

          It would be totally acceptable to approach employee A and say, “Unfortunately, that last position wasn’t a good match for your qualifications, but I see you’ve made an effort to try to join my team on a number of occasions, and I think you’ve got great potential. Let’s talk about how we can work together to make this happen.”

          The followup would ideally include supporting her by choosing assignments that would build her qualifications, and potentially working with leadership to open a position that’s catered to her skill set. I’d *then* choose that moment to assist her with interview prep.

          Some of the feedback your committee noted are not especially fair evaluation criteria for an interviewee, and are more or less subjective assessments of “fit” and “likability”- which most organizations need to be very careful with for EEO reasons. Yes, it’s important to be likeable, but, I’d also strive to make sure that the evaluation process is fair and equitable and based on qualifications. Not overly clouded by judgements or personal bias.

          1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

            Oh! I love this wording–TY for sharing it. :)

            “I’d *then* choose that moment to assist her with interview prep.” This is what I’m leaning toward. I’ve been pushing to get an interview and resume writing course available for our entry level folks, too, which would help.

    2. Frankie*

      If you insist on giving this feedback I’d make it very mild: “We wanted to see better time management skills in the interview” and “Would have liked to see more interest in this specific role.” And just be prepared if they argue with you and have a quick exit line planned.

      1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

        I am not married to providing it, but I anticipate they will ask when I have the “you didn’t get the job” conversation. Most of Alison’s advice is to be general, so I’ll stick to what you’ve commented (which is great) if they ask. TY!

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

      Sounds like both of them could use a referral to a public speaking type resource group like Toast Masters, but I’m not sure if it would be effective telling them that. Did they ASK for feedback? If not, let it go. Citing lack of experience isn’t really helpful to them since they’ll never get experience if they keep getting passed over.

      1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

        They haven’t asked, but I want to be prepared if they do. We actually have a Toastmasters meeting at work as part of the local club, so I’ll keep that in my back pocket if they ask for feedback. TY for the suggestion!!

      2. Jack Straw from Wichita*

        I’d also add that I am in a position to provide them opportunities for additional experience. We tap into other departments to conduct certain types presentations/training for us, so they actually can get additional experience with us. I realize that isn’t the case for external candidates or other jobs, but I actually can speak to future opportunities in these conversations.

    4. Sloanicota*

      Jeez, it’s kind of crappy for the committee to pan an applicant for seeming too “desperate,” TBH. That’s not kind, helpful or useful feedback. If they wanted more specifics of how this exact job was the right fit I guess they can put it that way – but let’s be real, people need jobs, and you don’t always get to design the job you want out of whole cloth – you have to apply for one that’s available.

      1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

        I get your point, and I wasn’t on the first round panel (but did interview her more than a year ago and had the same experience), but is it also a kindness to tell someone how they are communicating/coming across in interviews?

        Her behavior was off-putting, made all three of the panels uncomfortable, which speaks to a lack of situational/professional awareness and interviewing skills. There are specific behaviors to speak to, rather than, “you were desperate,” too. For example, when asked at the end what was one thing they wouldn’t know about her through the interview, which admittedly was off-script and presents a coaching opportunity to the panel (who report to me), she said “That I really, really, really want this job. It’s all I’ve ever dreamed of.” Other candidates spoke multiple languages, raised goats, sung the national anthem for NCAA and NFL games, or were demo painters for a paint-and sip company. And in a 30 minute interview, she’d stated three previous times how much she wanted the job, so they defibetly already knew that.

        She is someone who I’d like to develop, because she shows promise in the ad hoc work she does for us, so I don’t want the interviewing skills to stand in her way down the road. It’s probably that the “you didn’t get the job” conversation may not be the time for that.

        1. linger*

          Candidate A should concentrate on emphasizing her relevant skills for the specific role she is applying for. The “anything else we should know” question is a minefield for internal candidates, but as you know it shouldn’t be used again, you could provide some specific coaching on it “if it comes up in other interviews”, suggesting that desire for the position is not actually something your hiring committees factor into their evaluation, and they’re more interested in possibly hidden skills or achievements in her past work that would be relevant for the new position.

  76. Nicando Armalando*

    My workplace is require everyone attend an in person, mandatory suicide prevention training. I was wondering if this is appropriate for a workplace to require. We are just a government office that performs clerical tasks (think like filing permits). We don’t work with students or in healthcare or anything. I feel like this is a little strange for a workplace to do and know some of my coworkers are uncomfortable about attending due to past trauma related to the subject. The recent post about the active shooter drill made me think of our upcoming training.

    1. Tuesday*

      Ugh, I would feel uncomfortable about this for a few reasons – first, that it might bring up past trauma for people as mentioned. And second, it just feels to me like they’re essentially making you responsible for policing your coworkers’ mental health? Unless I’m just misunderstanding what these trainings are like? I think I would feel better about it if the office was very mental health-friendly in other ways, but it does seem strange to me for them to require this.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I work in a health agency, and this would be voluntary unless it related to someone’s actual position.

    2. Sloanicota*

      Ugh I hate stuff like this. As with above, where the person doesn’t want to do active shooter training, I feel like this is just too much from the company. It’s not a core job function. What’s next, healthy eating, cancer screening and prevention, child welfare, education on every type of illness and mental illness? These are all “nice to haves” for someone that wants them, but in my opinion, you don’t get to force every employee to sit through a whole day on the topics you think are best for them. And why not something like a handout or informative email rather than mandatory in person training?

    3. Just a Name*

      I worked as a civilian for a DoD component. The requirement was DoD wide, because suicide was a major issue for the soldier/sailor, etc population. There were approximately 20 required trainings per year, and others added as issues popped up. There was a mandatory training session the week I retired, and I got an email about why I hadn’t signed up for a session. The training was so repetitive that you could click through it year after year. So for some reason, someone high up in your agency has determined that having the training is important, probably to their own performance evaluation. (Sorry if that seems jaded, but yep.). I always found it best to crank out the training requirements around Xmas when everyone else was on leave for the holidays and the office was relatively quiet. As a former supervisor, it really irked me when I had to hound people to finish their mandatory training. Mostly because the people in charge of setting the training were hounding me about why my people hadn’t done it yet.

  77. how to stay awake*

    Any tips or tricks on how to focus in long meetings? Asking for a friend who has a tendancy to doze off, but it’s job-critical that he remain awake and alert during meetings. He says it’s a problem he’s *always* had, at least through every course in undergrad, grad school and post-grad career. It hasn’t been a problem until he transitioned from academia to the private sector. Academia being well-known to tolerate eccentricities.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      For awake and focused, the best idea is to take notes.

      For awake (and possibly focused, depending on how his brain works):
      – doodle in a notebook (looks like taking notes, may be more engaging)
      – eat snacks (if that fits with the company meeting culture)
      – sip on a drink (caffeinated or not)
      – fiddle with a fidget tow (if that fits with the company meeting culture)
      – create a meeting bingo sheet with expected phrases/events and play meeting bingo (looks like taking notes, be careful not to shout “bingo” when you get five in a row)

    2. Rick Tq*

      They should get a sleep study done to see if they have sleep apnea. Once I started using a CPAP at night I was able to stay awake in meetings a LOT better.

      Beyond that, I found keeping detailed notes (by hand or typed) helps me stay focused and engaged in long meetings.

      1. PollyQ*

        ^This. If he were just bored and inattentive that would be one thing, but actually dozing off suggests a possible underlying medical condition.

    3. Unkempt Flatware*

      Taking insanely detailed notes almost to the point of transcription and a fidget ring are what help me.

    4. RecentlyRetired*

      We were given “permission” by management to take a seat near the back of the room so that we could stand up as needed to avoid dozing off. I would mostly need to do this if the meeting was held soon after lunch.

    5. allathian*

      He needs to find something for his hands to do that’s appropriate for his skills and work culture. Doodling helps. In informational virtual meetings I also play simple puzzle games that don’t require much focus on my phone, because we only keep cameras on in meetings with about 20 attendees or less, and our monthly informational meeting has up to 100 attendees.

  78. Hot Water Bottle*

    Is it normally very difficult to find an accountant?

    I want to book an initial consultation with a local accountant (which I would pay for). There are lots of individual CPAs and small offices around me, most of which have friendly websites, phone systems, storefronts, etc. However after a week of trying none of them seem to want my business. :(

    All my messages have gone unanswered, even though I did my best to sound like an easygoing & professional client. If I am “lucky” enough to reach one of them by phone, their very first response is to suspiciously ask how I got their number (why is that always such a big deal??) Once they realize I’m a stranger who found them on the Internet, they instantly lose interest and end the discussion.

    Is there some kind of fatal flaw in my approach, or are accountants extremely picky in who they work with?

    1. Frankie*

      My understanding is that accountants have a labor shortage right now like a lot of job lines (at least in-house ones, not sure about your example), and I’m guessing it’d be a capacity thing. I’m struggling right now finding an attorney for a very routine, non-dramatic thing, and seems to be the same thing.

      1. Hot Water Bottle*

        Thank you – and it makes sense that many accountants are busy and want to work only with known quantities, but it’s starting to seem like that they have ALL retreated into a shell as a group.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      And this is a very busy time of year for them. If they aren’t doing personal tax returns, they are scrambling to fix erroneous W-2s & 1099s for corporate customers.

      Could you maybe get by with just a bookkeeper, who isn’t an accountant, to do the daily grind stuff (issuing invoices, processing payments, writing checks)?

      1. Hot Water Bottle*

        Yup, in fact that is what I am doing already. I am just looking for a CPA to give me a high level sanity check (just an hour or two for now, and I’ll pay for it of course) but still no interest.

        And I’m not sure why “how did you get my number” is such a key question for them (but saying that I got it from their website always fails the test)

        1. PollyQ*

          just an hour or two for now

          I wonder if this is the problem — that they’re more interested in finding long-term clients. You may find more interest after April 15, though.

    3. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Time of year, probably. It’s about a month until tax deadlines go in an most of us are in the ‘head down, focus on the clients we have until it can be over’ mode.

    4. Doc is In*

      My spouse is a CPA and they are very busy with established clients doing tax returns in addition to the usual payrolls and reports and such. Doubt many would be interested in a new client right now.

    5. RagingADHD*

      Between January 31 and April 15? Yes, it is extremely difficult to hire a new CPA right now because this is the epic crunch time of the whole year. A lot of them aren’t eating regular meals or going home at regular hours. They are not looking for more clients right now. They are asking who referred you just in case there is an important connection to an existing client or member of their close network – then they might feel obligated to take you on as part of maintaining those relationships.

      Call in like, late May – early September. You can easily take a deferral to file your taxes in October, instead of filing this April.

      1. Hot Water Bottle*

        Thanks all , in that case I will put it on hold until May or so and then see if they’ll pay attention to little ole me. :)

  79. CSRoadWarrior*

    Is there any reason why some employers want you to create an account just to apply for jobs? When I was on the market I saw this countless numbers of times and it kind of drove me crazy, to the point I stopped applying to those jobs. Whether anyone has been rejected from the job or accepted an offer, it is not like they will go back and log in just to look at anything – think Twitter, TikTok, etc.

    Any reason why some companies do this?

    1. Sloanicota*

      As someone who cares about internet privacy, I hate this trend – because many of the job sites seem to be owned by third parties and I doubt they keep their mitts off the data. I usually put false info in crappy online databases with whom I’m not interested in sharing intimacy, but obviously a job app needs my real phone number and my most active email account, and a lot of them seem to be filled with other unnecessary info that’s all just hoovered up. I know many people wouldn’t care, but I do, and I hate it.

      1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        I’m getting more and more skittish about setting up accounts for all kinds of things, jobs included.

        I was just asked at work to do research that would include setting up accounts with a bunch of financial apps. I said no. If they want to provide me with a company phone and dummy info, fine, but I’m not going to hand over my own data and put apps on my own devices!

    2. RagingADHD*

      It’s annoying, but it’s becoming more and more prevalent because the software platforms promise so much convenience and organization to the employer. In some of them, it isn’t just an ATS for scanning resumes. They can do all the scheduling, host the video interviews, and have auto-email replies set up for them. I haven’t used one on the employer side, but I’d bet they have options to share feedback on candidates, or even share the recorded video of the initial screening call, too (in places where that’s allowed).

      It certainly makes it easier for the HR people to work remotely if they can log into the applicant management platform from anywhere, and have everything ready to go in one place.

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

      I think because of bots searching the internet for entryways into a system. If there is a login/account the bot can’t just upload a “resume” of spam or malware.

      I had sort of the same issue with wanting a simple form with upload feature for a creative program I run at my org. IT insisted it HAD to be behind an account login because I’d get awful malware uploads from bots that scan for those unsecured forms/upload buttons. As it is, I now get a ton of spam on the email address that is listed as the contact if they have trouble with the form, but our email firewall probably catches the worst ones and/or strips out any attachments.

  80. Anonseeker*

    I’m having trouble putting together a list of references for my job search despite having excelled at all of my previous positions. The two jobs that make up the bulk of my work history were in the same field, and I had the same main manager at both of them (they recruited me after switching companies). That manager always gives me a great reference, so that’s one. I had a different main manager for my last year there, and they would give me a good reference if asked even though we weren’t close, so I can use them as the second. The third is where I run into trouble.

    Previous to those two jobs I only worked in retail, and that was so long ago I don’t even remember my managers’ names. My most recent job was a short-term (months), part-time stint where I had a good relationship with my manager there, but a month after I left that position for my current job, that manager got a job at my same company. I don’t know them well enough to gauge if they would keep my job search confidential.

    I’ve been at my current job for several years now and I cannot use any of the current managers in my department as a reference for the obvious reasons, and I have reason to believe that my direct manager would take it very personally if they knew I was searching. There is one manager who retired a year ago and was always really positive about me and advocated for me when I was up for a promotion, and I’m sure they would give me a glowing reference, but I don’t know if it’s kosher to ask someone who’s retired. What is the etiquette around this?

    1. kiwiii*

      If you have a senior-to-you coworker at either job who would stay mum about it or a manager on another team at either job who would have lots of nice things to say about you (worked well on projects related to their work, etc) that may be an option as well.

    2. Reba*

      I don’t think it would hurt or be wrong to ask the retiree! Just be sure to acknowledge that they are retired and that you understand if they are no longer dealing with the working world. Let them know how much you appreciated them and make it easy for them to decline.

  81. Please Exit Through the Rear Door*

    A few weeks ago there was a thread on AAM about how accurately your profession is portrayed on TV, and I forgot to ask this one.

    Lawyers of AAM: Are there nearly as many “objections” in a real courtroom as there are in TV courtroom dramas? I’ve made a game of watching courtroom shows and predicting when there will be an objection — and I’m correct more often than not.

    1. Unkempt Flatware*

      IANAL but did you watch any of the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard trial? Every other word was Objection and the objections were usually sustained. It was gold to watch. Amber’s lawyer really struggled. I don’t know if this is common or not.

    2. Generic Name*

      Not a lawyer, but I’ve testified on the stand, and there were objections on both sides. I don’t remember a ton, but it was way less dramatic than TV. No shouting. While it was a formal proceeding, it felt more conversational at times than it’s often portrayed in the media.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Sounds like you’d enjoy Legal Eagle on YouTube. He does “expert reacts” videos based on popular movies and TV shows, as well as commenting on/explaining aspects of high profile cases.

    4. Littorally*

      In my experience when I served on a jury, there were plenty of objections. The difference from what fiction had led me to believe is that the lawyers don’t say why they’re objecting — they just say “objection” and then the judge will either sustain, overrule, or call the lawyers up to discuss.

      Some of them, I found it pretty obvious what the problem was — asking the witness to speculate or repeat hearsay, that kind of thing. There was also a specific topic that was very clearly not being allowed to enter testimony, but I wasn’t really sure why. Some of the objections I was completely mystified about.

  82. Sundae fun day*

    I supervise a group of high strung, high achievers. One of them saw a webinar on “psychological safety,” and suggested they have regular skip level meetings with my boss- who would then relay any concerns to me but omitting all details so I’d not know who said it. They all think this is a wonderful plan. Luckily, my boss is bemused by the idea. I have had numerous instances where they wanted me to handle interpersonal conflict for them (like, “Amy set the schedule so it’s weekly, but I think it should be daily, and I don’t want to say anything but can you?”) and I have spent a non trivial amount of time coaching them to have “crucial” conversations. They still more often than not choose “not to fight” rather than naysay a colleague.

    Both my boss and I asked if they feared any retaliation if they came to me with a concern. Oh no, it’s just “the power differential.” They all affirmed they know the avenues to take with administration and HR in case of “serious” concerns. They just think a “psychologically safe” workplace would allow them to say what they want without anyone knowing it was them.

    I get it- that’s the dream, right? Being able to have necessary, uncomfortable conversations with no bad vibes and the other person not getting upset. (Note- I’ve never gotten upset at them! Maybe because when asked, they always say everything is ok?)

    Is this what “psychological safety” is supposed to look like?

    1. SereneScientist*

      I would argue no. I can’t speak to your direct reports as I don’t know them personally, but I have seen some people take psychological safety to mean “shielded from all discomfort no matter what,” when in reality it’s about addressing systemic and unconscious bias along with other unspoken dynamics that might make folks feel excluded or unheard. While psychological safety in the workplace *ought* to take into account unequal dynamics due to power differences, it also is generally about creating environments where difficult conversations can be had in a direct but kind way without fear of retaliation, ostricization, etc–some discomfort can arise in the course of those conversations, but that is expected and understood to be something everyone manages for themselves.

      1. Prof Anony*

        I agree with this comment. One of my areas of research and practice is psychological safety in teams and organizations. Amy Edmondson coined the term, and defined it as “a belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes, and that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking.”
        Key point is understanding there is a great paradox in a psychologically safe workplace: people know that sometimes conversations can be uncomfortable, and the other person can get upset, but they would still go ahead and speak up, still ask questions, still discuss mistakes. In other words, engaging others even in the face of discomfort, instead of avoiding the topic, or the person.

        My outsider’s take on your situation is: right now it doesn’t look like your team is really brimming with psychological safety. Sounds like your staff has issues they want to raise, and feedback they would like to give, but for reasons I don’t have access to, they don’t want to engage in those discussions with you. While you are not necessarily doing anything wrong, it is important to recognize that your staff are seeking psychological safety, and as a supervisor, it is in your interest and your staff interest to reflect on what are the missing pieces towards building psych safety for both you and your staff.

        That being said, their suggestion for a skip-level meeting is misguided attempt to find psych safety. It is the wrong approach, because it is secretive and un-transparent. It cuts you out of the equation when in fact, your involvement in the discussions is a key aspect, if not THE key aspect, of building psychological safety in the workplace. In other words, it has some key ingredients of a negative culture of secrecy and exclusion. In my view, it would be a great mis-step for you and your boss to go with it.

        1. AABBCC123*

          It’s amazing how many people misunderstand psychological safety in an organizational setting. They are also the same people who describe any slightly embarrassing experience as “traumatizing”

        2. Glazed Donut*

          1000% this.
          Psychological safety means you won’t be punished for speaking up or making a mistake. It doesn’t mean you don’t need to take ownership of your thoughts, which is what this skip-level meeting sounds like.
          Other ways to look at increasing psychological safety: modeling behaviors you want (showing you make mistakes), regularly surveying the staff, and checking in often with set questions that allow people to open up.
          Psychological safety isn’t about being nice or everyone getting along all the time.

    2. Rick Tq*

      It looks like this consulting a growth business, I ‘just’ got a spam email touting a webinar about this, so I doubt your team member was seeking this kind of thing out.

      No adult should expect to be able to have every their every concern addressed anonymously, no matter how high performing they might be.

      Sometimes you have to stand up and own the issue before there is any resolution. Having an ‘uncomfortable conversion’ is the reason someone might become upset and for good reason. Otherwise why would it be uncomfortable?

    3. Unkempt Flatware*

      well damn! What about your own psychological safety? I’m glad your boss seems to support you in this, if he weren’t supportive this would be awful. No, this seems like someone who heard about PS for the first time and went wild with it.

    4. LondonLady*

      It’s worth maybe having a ‘suggestion box’ equivalent for general anonymous issues eg your example of “weekly meetings would be better midweek for REASONS”. But 1:1 issues like “Kirsty’s habit of talking to herself is making me crazy” or “my boss ignores my memos until after deadlines” will still need someone to speak up.

      One former workplace had a buddying system where buddies (similar grade, different team) could advise on whether an issue was worth escalating (sometimes just venting at the buddy helped) and the buddy could then report it as a “not my issue but a team issue” case if appropriate.

    5. Prospect Gone Bad*

      Sounds like you need to reframe was “overachieving” is to them.

      Not being able to have a conversation with eachother is actually under-achieving.

      You also need to dig around for the root cause. There is usually one or two people in a team causing most of the problems. IME. Can you isolate the reason they think they need all of this “safety” stuff?

  83. Trying Wannabe*

    I had a government panel interview this week that went horribly. I thought I had enough experience, but the agency wanted experience from start to finish (teapot steps 1, 2, 3 lifecycle) as opposed to, say, experience in one teapot part I process alone. I answered as best I could, but I know it was legitimately awful. My current position doesn’t deal in teapots, teapot steps are being phased out to others where I work, but nobody’s looking for the teapot skillset I offer because the amount I have isn’t enough. What would you do? Stay with teapots? Look elsewhere? Choose a different field entirely?

    1. Somehow_I_Manage*

      Just because one interview went badly doesn’t mean you’re on the right track. There are two approaches to filling a position: 1) Secure a known quantity with apples to apples experience, and 2) Invest in a promising talent with transferable skills and train them and facilitate their growth.

      I’d venture that most hires favor option 2, simply because there aren’t a lot of people available from option 1, and even if they were, they’re probably exorbitantly expensive and will need a different path for growth. Anyway, that’s all to say that just because you haven’t done steps 1-3, doesn’t mean you’re not capable. Answer any questions by outlining your track record, how you would handle adapting to new work, and outlining your expectations for training, support, and time to be successful.

      1. linger*

        The converse favoring option 1 is that in many places there isn’t enough time and/or qualified people available to do on-the-job training of new hires. (And yes, that becomes self-perpetuating because key positions remain unfilled for longer.)
        Companies should usually hire the most qualified applicant they can afford, out of the pool they can attract. But that’s at least two variables that an individual applicant won’t know about. What an applicant will see is that, as a result, the committee may well question you about a wider range of expertise than the posted position actually requires, either because of how that position works with others within the org, or because of other possible positions an applicant could be directed to instead. Best case scenario, your existing narrower expertise could still fit some role there. Good luck!

  84. Anon for This*

    Anyone else realize they’re trapped in their position by years of “quiet promoting” and “glue work” that blocks you from actual promotions? How can you move on and forward? I worry it’s too late. There’s a cycle where I do more than my role, become the high performer but then get burned out and resentful and I’m getting into that downswing again right as they’re moving the goalposts on perforamce.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Can you apply for a different job at another company? Preferably one that’s a lateral move job-duties-wise but a step up pay-wise.

    2. Prospect Gone Bad*

      You don’t give a huge amount of information here, so I will put a “reframing” on it. This is the situation most people want. Never saw the word “quiet promoting” but it doesn’t sound bad? If I were you, I’d focus on my pay and retirement savings and just appreciate any security I have.

      So many people get too much into job hopping and promotions and moving and the rat race that they forget the whole point is to land somewhere at some point. I “landed” around 37 and thank God because you can’t keep up that pace forever

      1. Rinn*

        Yes thank you. I just want to land for once. Ya’ll Millenials and Zoomers go get yours, and honestly if you Boomers want to keep on running this rat race ya’ll put us all into, go right ahead, do it until you keel over. Whatever.

        I just want to CAD and chill.

        Signed, a very tired GenX’ er

  85. Loose Lips Sink Ships?*

    What is considered confidential at work? I know (I think I know) you aren’t supposed to share information about other people’s salaries, medical information, personal information, or personnel records — none of which I can access anyway. What about potential staffing changes that directly affect you but haven’t been announced? How much does it depend on industry?

    1. BellyButton*

      If it isn’t your information to share, as in- you are part of the discussions and decision making process and have been given permission and direction to share it, then don’t. It can be very damaging to a team, to individuals, and you don’t have all the details. I see people who have a little bit of info sharing it, and it leads to people speculating, getting scared, and then it is gossip and rumors flying around

    2. Cheezmouser*

      When in doubt, err on the side of caution. Usually if you *are* authorized to share the information, you would know that. If you’re not sure, that usually means no.

      For the specific example about potential staffing changes that directly affect you but haven’t been announced, the answer is no. Any changes to people’s jobs–hiring, firing, layoff, promotion, title change, reassignment, job responsibilities–are confidential until announced by the boss.

        1. Cheezmouser*

          I can’t comment on your specific situation, so yours may be different. But I’ve seen multiple instances in the past where sharing information about your job change prematurely can cause problems for your manager and demonstrate lack of confidentiality/poor judgment. Examples include:

          *Jane is getting a new responsibility assigned to her and shares this with her colleagues out of excitement. Sarah had previously expressed interest in taking on those responsibilities and feels upset for being overlooked. Sarah goes to Boss to complain. Boss is angry at Jane, because Boss had been planning to pull Sarah aside before making the change public to address Sarah’s concerns privately first.

          *Jack is getting moved to another team, leaving John as the only remaining person on X team. Jack starts talking about the move before Boss has spoken to John, causing John to start panicking about job security or all the work falling on him. John goes to Boss to demand answers.

          *Yusef is getting promoted, but Boss hasn’t announced it yet because other people’s promotions are also in the works and Boss wants to announce them all at once. Yusef jumps the gun and starts telling people. The other people start getting nervous because they were promised promotions too but Boss hasn’t told them if they got it yet. And yet, Yusef already got his. Did their own promotions not get approved?

          My point is, it’s always a good idea to confirm with your boss if/when you can share information about your job change, because you might not have full visibility into all the other personnel matters happening at the same time. The last thing you want to do is demonstrate that you can’t be trusted with confidential information and make your boss have to do damage control.

    3. Roland*

      I think if “it hasn’t been announced yet” then by definition you shouldn’t share it before said announcement. For topics that aren’t confidential, that kind of language wouldn’t come up.

  86. Proud of myself*

    I just did something I’ve never had the courage to do before, and I “blame” this site for my newfound spine: a few minutes ago, I withdrew myself from a hiring process.

    After talking to the hiring manager, I realized that the position is focused in a completely different skill from what the recruiter told me and even though I can do it, I don’t want to, so I just called the external recruiter and explained him that.

    He just told me that he understood my decision and thanked me for letting him know as soon as I did and asked if he can still send me open position that might be a good fit (I said yes, I have a job I really like, but is always good to keep my eyes open).

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Congratulations! It can be difficult to remember that hiring is a two-way street; good for you for evaluating the role and company just as much as they were evaluating you!

      1. Proud of myself*

        Thank you! By the first 10 minutes of the interview I knew it wasn’t a good fit, still took me a few hours to make the call

  87. Frickityfrack*

    Looking for input on people asking for way over the posted salary in their applications. My office is hiring and we had quite a few people ask for significantly more money than the top range of the salary – this is a government position, so it’s not like we even have the option to say, “this candidate is so great, we can justify the extra money.” Let’s say it’s $50-70k, set in stone, and the posting specified that the hiring range was more like $50-60. We had people asking for $85-95k (which would be wildly overpaid for this particular job).

    Is this just a fundamental lack of understanding of how government salaries work? We did have quite a few applicants coming from real estate and adjacent fields, so maybe they genuinely think they could get that much? I negotiated a higher salary when I started, so I definitely don’t begrudge anyone asking for more, but I also knew what was possible and asked for that amount. I don’t want to waste anyone’s time interviewing someone who can’t make the hiring salary work, but I also hate to eliminate candidates who are fine with it but figured it couldn’t hurt to aim high.

    1. Decidedly Me*

      It’s not just in government; we see this too. It’s typically been a waste of time to continue with candidates who ask for more. We’ll reiterate our range and see if they are ok with that range even though they asked for more and many will say yes. Then, at the offer stage, they’ll try again for their original ask, getting upset that we can’t give that.

      1. Frickityfrack*

        Fortunately, there was really only one candidate who was strong enough AND asked for too much money, but I kind of suspect this is what will end up happening with them. We do have several other good candidates, so I’m not super worried, but it was just so out of line with what I’ve seen in the past that it seemed like something else might be going on.

    2. Sloanicota*

      Yeah, people from outside salary-restricted fields may not understand why pay bands are real things, not just a negotiating starting point. It may have paid off for them very well in the past so I understand the thinking, but in theory they should know this about government. It doesn’t surprise me that many don’t. It would be my first question if I was interested in interviewing them (not sure you can do a phone screen, but that’s where it has come up in the past) – but it may also be an automatic exclusion depending on the database.

      1. Frickityfrack*

        We don’t normally do phone screens, but it might be worth it in this case with one candidate. She’s great on paper, a little overqualified, but she wants about $20k more than she’s likely to get so it can’t hurt to discuss that with her before doing a full interview.

        1. the cat's pajamas*

          From the job postings I’ve seen recently, it looks like salaries are trending downwards generally. I was making $x about 10 years ago in higher ed. I always heard that industry pays more, but now I’m seeing salaries for ($x-2k)-($x-7k). I found an old job listed as