open thread – March 31-April 1, 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.

{ 868 comments… read them below }

  1. Dolly was Right*

    Looking for any non-typical/usual tips for mentally getting through an ongoing layoff.

    My tech company is laying folks off anywhere between today and the end of April. It’s been 2 weeks since the announcement and I am really struggling mentally with the not knowing and going back and forth on the likelihood I’m impacted. It’s also likely this won’t be the last round. I’m having terrible trouble getting any work done. I’m stressed because the job market isn’t great and it’s unlikely I’ll find anything at the salary I have now. This is the best job and boss I’ve ever had- the first job I wouldn’t be secretly somewhat relieved to be let go from.

    Any advice for dealing with the mental stress outside of work and staying focused at work beyond the typical stuff (disconnect at end of the day, stay active/get outside, etc)? Financially, I’ve got my resume up to date, freelance accounts set up and doing a hard crunching of my budget this weekend in case it comes to that.

    1. Colette*

      Reviewing your budget is good – think about what you could cut if you had to, when you’d make the cuts (some might be now, some might be if you’re unemployed for more than X months, etc.), as well as what you can save today.

      Also, minimize the layoff talk at and after work – when I was in a similar situation, I found that I was more stressed about the other people around me than myself; it’s OK to stop that kind of talk when you’ve had enough.

      Connect with your coworkers/boss on Linked In – it’s good to have a non-work way to stay in touch.

      Think about what you did at this job, and make a list of accomplishments. If you have performance evaluations, take a copy home.

    2. jasmine tea*

      Disassociate? Kidding but not. My company has announced a restructuring that will last through the end of 2024, so I’m trying to figure out how to deal with 20 months of uncertainty.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      Layoffs are definitely stressful. It’s obviously the worst if you get laid off (or don’t know if you will), but layoffs have a negative impact on the “survivors” as well. It’s generally bad overall (except for the C-suite and shareholders, I guess?). You’re right to feel stressed about this. I wish I had some helpful advice for you.

    4. soontoberetired*

      My company is laying off tech people, too. they say they are done but I doubt it because there’s been no transparency. Who is being laid off doesn’t make a ton of sense. Previously they offered people a chance to except voluntary redundancy but not this time. I would have taken it – I didn’t retire when I first planned, but could and I would have gone to save someone a job. Having someone to talk to about this who isn’t in your company can be extremely helpful. Also, concentrate on the things you can control.

    5. MissGirl*

      Give yourself permission to not be 100% focused. You’re putting pressure on yourself to achieve the impossible. Figure out what absolutely has to be done each day and take breaks.

      Honestly, start sending out resumes. If you don’t get laid off, great. If you do, you’ve got a jump start. The hiring process can take several weeks so you’d probably know your current status before you get an offer. My company announced 10% lay offs last summer to happen by the end of the year. I took a voluntary severance and landed a job with a 25% raise.

      Also, the market may not be as bad as you’re anticipating. It depends on your position but lots of companies are still hiring.

    6. Yes And*

      I’m sorry I don’t have any suggestions for Dolly was Right, but I have a question: Is this normal? The one time I was in a company that was doing layoffs, they ripped the band-aid off and did all the announcements in one day. That seems to me much kinder, and better for both employees and the company, than this “we’re going to do layoffs sometime in the next month but we’re not telling you when or who.” Which is the more common practice? Which is considered the best practice?

      1. Dolly was Right*

        I don’t think this is common at all and it seems like ‘rolling layoffs’ is a new, tech specific thing. Our layoff announcement came a week after Meta announced they’d be laying off folks over the next 2 months so it seems once one tech company does it, all the others follow suite.

        Employees are guessing it was announced to avoid a leak to the press but they didn’t have the lists ready yet so we have to wait. Seems unlikely this process would happen at a company that isn’t frequently in the news.

        1. talos*

          Rolling layoffs can be necessary if you have operations in different countries with different labor laws.

      2. HR Exec Popping In*

        It completely depends. There is no “one way” to announce and conduct layoffs. Many companies let you know it is coming and have a target “end date” for the layoffs. In between the announcement and the separations managers work to develop new org structures and do assessments to determine who will be let go. Other companies so all of this work at the very highest level and never announce anything until the day of the layoffs and then folks go in mass. Pros and cons with either approach. But I think with increased transparency that many companies try to operate under will announce the upcoming layoffs before they know who specifically will be let go.

      3. Colette*

        I’m in the rip-off-the-bandaid camp, but thenyou have people who bought a house/new car/committed to a vacation shortly before the annoucement. There is no good way to do this kind of thing.

      4. Varthema*

        I thought it was weird and cruel when my husband’s workplace announced upcoming layoffs because I too was used to the rip-the-bandaid method too (from the US). but apparently in Ireland, where we live, they have to give a warning by law.

        1. Not that kind of doctor*

          For layoffs of a certain size, they have to give warning thanks to the WARN act.

    7. Come On Eileen*

      One thing you might want to do (along the lines of “action cures fear”) is to schedule your annual physical, eye exam, and dental checkup. Using your benefits if they might go away later this year is a smart thing to do! Also, please know that you are NOT alone. I don’t know if it helps to hear that, but tech and other companies are doing a lot of layoffs across the board right now and it’s affecting a lot of people. I got laid off in 2011 and informally started a “layoff club” with a few coworkers who were also affected. We’d get together to job hunt and work on our resumes and just connect over how shitty and hard it was. Three of us to this day continue to get together once a month for brunch and it’s one of my favorite things ever.

      1. Miette*

        This is great advice. And don’t be shy about explaining to your providers if you need an appointment sooner than later. I recently was going to have to change health insurance and needed a procedure from my eye doctor done–he came in on his day off so I could get it done before my insurance changed, which meant it would have been a lot more out of pocket for me.

        1. Usagi*

          That’s awesome! My old PCP would probably just send me a link to the the Marketplace and some info on how to sign up for Medicare or COBRA.

      2. Engineer Woman*

        Awesome advice if your healthcare is tied to your job (possibly US-specific)!

        Echoing also those who advise not to be too hard on yourself. Especially these days, it’s well known that layoffs are increasingly not performance-based so don’t dwell too much on “why me?”

        And start to update your resume – always good even if your job is secure, you never know when a great opportunity comes.

      3. beach read*

        This! Also fill those prescriptions, (90 days!) see specialists, and look into alternative life insurance if you have that only through work.
        I was involved in a rolling layoff last year. I actually lasted longer than I expected to and it was sometimes torturous. Every day I worked hard to do a great job and tried to be thankful I still had a job. I tried to stay as positive as I could even while watching friends lose their jobs. That helped some with the stress of the whole thing. I was careful not to make any big expenditures and I saved my birthday/holiday gift cards rec’d to use for fun just in case I was laid off.

    8. CatLady*

      A hobby. Back in the day I was hit and it took me 9 months to find a job – the environment was much like it is today – everybody getting laid off. I was already prepping for my Black Belt test in TKD so I just threw myself into that as a distraction. I still looked like crazy but an active and engaging hobby helped.

      1. Colette*

        Definitely a good idea! One time I was laid off, I decided that every day I had to spend 15 minutes doing something I was procrastinating on (e.g. cleaning out the tupperware drawer, washing the windows). It gave me something non-work to focus on, and I got a lot of stuff done.

    9. Laid Off Lady?*

      I’m going through something very similar, I’m so sorry you are too. I’m trying really hard everyday to be zen about it, since I’ve finally realized everything is so out of my control. All my major projects have three contingency plans since I don’t know who will be here and who won’t.
      I’ve also been putting a lot of feelers out, networking, and applying to jobs but it hasn’t amounted to anything yet so that is disheartening. I literally cried on and off all weekend when I got to the second round interview for a company but then was rejected. I had seen a small glimmer of hope and then it was gone.
      One thing that has helped a little is that, like you, this WAS a dream job at one point. It ticked enough boxes of promotions, interesting, learning but it has changed and I realize that what made it a great place to work is not true anymore, so even if I stay, it would be at a totally different company that I don’t like as much. I definitely grieve what was in the past, but knowing that doesn’t exist anymore has given me peace that its time to leave and I think I’ll be less sad when that day inevitably comes.

    10. ToDoList*

      There are a lot of good ideas in these comments and it sounds like you’re already preparing yourself well. I work in tech and was laid off with most of my division in January and then found another job in early March only to have that job offer rescinded because the company didn’t meet some sales targets. You’re in a stressful position right now & I agree that it’s okay and normal not to be 100% focused.

      You might want to start applying to jobs now. Your boss might be affected and / or you might be affected by the layoffs. You might also want to make sure that you have copies of any performance reviews, etc., that you want to keep.

    11. Water Lily*

      This is what helped me once:

      1. Schedule 15 minutes in your day to worry about this. Worry about this only for that block of time.

      2. Write out a plan for what you will do if you find out you get laid off. Sometimes a plan helps. Like for the 24 hours after you get the notice. “1. Call mom. 2. Call sweetie pie. 3. Call financial advisor. 4. Call my friend. 5. Make some fish sticks for dinner.”

      3. Get exercise. Walk or run or workout while you listen to a podcast or music.

      This helped while I was waiting on a biopsy result.

    12. Shiny Penny*

      My employer did this at the end of last year. They announced layoffs a month early and we all had to wait four weeks for it to even start and then another six weeks for it to finish. I started applying, talked to my manager (who I trust and enjoy working with), and reviewed my budget. I even started some freelance work and just wrapped that up last month once this latest wave was finished.

      Then I focused on me. I started signing off at 5:30pm and did more to protect my time.

    13. Zennish*

      I’m sorry you’re struggling. I personally find a change in mindset helpful with things like this. I try just focusing on the present moment, and enjoying what there is to enjoy there. I remind myself that things will go as they go, and try to let go of the anxiety that arises from having no control over the situation. If I don’t get laid off, there was no reason to worry. If I do get laid off, worrying won’t help.

      I remember that nothing about life is certain, and most of the time when we think we’re in control, it’s an illusion anyway. Realizing that and making peace with it has been quite liberating for me, though I don’t pretend it’s easy.

      If nothing else, I try to keep in mind that every minute spent worrying could be spent on planning, or enjoying the day I’m actually having, both of which are better uses of time.

    14. The Ginger Ginger*

      Really you already have planned what I did when I was going through something similar. I evaluated my budget, updated my resume, researched where and how to apply for unemployment, made a list of services/subscriptions to cancel if I was impacted, wrote a list of questions for HR in the event I found myself in a lay off meeting (how long is my health insurance good for, what severance is available, how and where do I direct future inquiries for references/employment confirmation, what if any support is available in laid off employees job hunts, etc) and saved it on the home screen of my phone so I could find it when I was stressed out.

      Really think about whether you want to stay at the company post-layoffs. Is there concern for longer term stability or do you truly believe this is a one time thing? If you want to try to ride this out you can opt to not start applying for jobs yet, but it doesn’t hurt to start at least a low key job search now so you’re not going in cold.

      When my anxiety started flaring during the season of layoffs at my old company I’d just point my brain to all my planning and double check with myself – do I want to start job hunting? because that’s all that’s left to do unless I’m actually laid off. I ended up riding it out and the company was acquired by another more stable one, but I was lucky – many, many folks got laid off when the company switched hands. Only you can do that calculation for yourself.

    15. JustMe*

      Speaking from my own experience, worrying about being laid off was harder than actually dealing with the aftermath of the layoff. When it’s an industry-specific thing, everyone understands why you’re suddenly out of work. If you absolutely need to, you can often go to a staffing agency and start doing some sort of temp work (honestly, ANY kind of work) right away. It’s difficult and sad to be laid off, but when I was laid off, I found that the mourning period was pretty short and I was able to get back on my feet and move on with my life pretty quickly. IF you are laid off, I’m sure you will, too.

    16. Not that kind of doctor*

      Echoing others, I find action the best antidote to fear. You’re already making plans in case of the worst, which is great. I would also take advantage of all the perks now and save anything you’d be sorry to lose. For example:
      — Make doctor/dentist/therapist appointments.
      — If you get an annual stipend/reimbursement amount for exercise or office equipment, spend it now.
      — Do you get discounts at certain stores/gyms? If you were planning to use those discounts “someday” anyway, do it now.
      — Download/spend credit from your coworker kudos program if you have one.
      — Save feel-good emails from colleagues/boss.
      — Connect to coworkers on LinkedIn.
      — If ethically & legally ok to do so, save samples of your work.
      I also agree with others that there’s no harm in starting to look for jobs now. It can take a few weeks to a few months to find the right thing, so why not start the process now? You can always decide to stay where you are if you make it through the layoffs. Good luck!

    17. David*

      I don’t know if this is quite what you’re looking for, but within the scope of making sure you’re prepared if you do get laid off, here are a few tips I’d offer based on my own experience getting laid off in January:

      – While it’s probably not much use to you in the short term, my #1 tip is to build up your savings account as much as you can, or at least enough to cover your expenses for 6-12 months, if you can get there. In your case, maybe the best you can do is avoid large purchases and any risky investments for a while. (You’re probably doing that anyway.) I know that’s pretty typical advice, but the point I want to emphasize is that it’d be a big relief to know that you can support yourself without a job for many months if you have to, and it’s easy to underestimate how important that is until you get put in the position to need it. Plus, it gives you more flexibility to choose your next job to be one that is right for you, rather than just having to take the first thing that comes along.
      – My #2 tip: make sure you have access to a good support network of friends and/or family. This might mean “reactivating” old friendships, or if you have friends at work, making sure you have a way to keep in touch with them outside of your company’s communication systems. In my case, a lot of my local friends were people from work, and one of the best things I did when I got laid off was to help set up a Discord server for current and former employees of my company, which we used to stay connected and to organize social events for those of us who live in the same geographic area. Having that social connection was essential for keeping me from feeling “lost” and depressed in the weeks after being laid off.
      – Download copies of important documents like tax forms, pay stubs, insurance cards and plan ID numbers, and anything else like that which is tied to your company email address or corporate accounts. (First and last paystubs in particular can be useful if you’re asked to provide evidence of your employment dates in the future.)
      – Also, if there’s any non-work-related information in the company’s communication systems that you would want to hold on to, save it sooner rather than later. Like if your coworker sent you a recommendation for a hairdresser on Slack or something. (This may or may not apply depending on how diligent you are about keeping work and personal communication separate.)
      – Additionally, save copies of any written performance evaluations or other documentation of you being good at your job, as well as documentation of awards and recognitions you’ve gotten, where it exists. Write down the key details of major work accomplishments, things that you might want to use on your resume or use as answers to behavioral interview questions in the future.

      Even if you don’t get laid off, it’s also worth thinking about what you can do to help other people who are getting laid off from your company. That may be job search help, like offering resume reviews or mock interviews or recommendations and connections on LinkedIn, or it may be social help (if they’re people you like), such as inviting them to lunch once in a while and reminding them that you care.

      Of course, take all this with a grain of salt; everyone’s situation is different and what worked for me won’t necessarily work for you, but hopefully either you or other readers will find something useful to take from all that.

    18. Sweet Clementine*

      I’m in tech as well, in a similar scenario as well. From your description, we could even be working at the same place! Just wanted to chime in and say that don’t automatically think that you won’t find a role elsewhere! I started casually looking in January once the layoffs started in Tech (which, also, coincided with an explosion in my responsibilities and let to consistent 12 hour days). I ended up getting an offer with a 20% raise from a smaller company who I had never expected to even match my salary.

  2. AnonPlanner*

    I’m having a hard time gauging if this is appropriate or normal: my boss is the executive director of our small governmental planning organization (an MPO if you are in the know). We do mid and long-range planning so 5-25 years into the future. None of our work is emergent and none of it takes place after the work day unless we’re at a conference or something. There are two of we planners and one admin assistant plus boss who is a planner by trade. He has several years of experience at the helm if such an org. I am new to planning and to such an organization.

    My boss requires lots and lots of counseling by us to him. Before he makes any decision, big or small, he must “chat” with us first. Before he meets with his executive board members, he requires a session with us first so he can talk to us about what he should say if X question is asked, for instance. This isn’t him getting technical info from us such as traffic counts or the like. He’s not just trying to get all the info he needs; he is actually using us as some sort of coach or mentor. If one of his bosses calls him, he won’t answer until he can get general counseling by us.

    One recent example is when we got a public records request. The request has absolutely heaped us but it is a legal one that we must comply with. The day the request came through, I responded per procedure that we would get started. He called me three times in a row after 5:30pm that night and then sent a text commanding me to call him ASAP. I do and he was flipping out over the request and demanding I tell him what we are going to do and how we deal with public records requests. I calmly respond that I must get off the phone now and he hung up. We never discussed again. This is an extreme example but a real one of what he needs us for. He also cannot attend any meeting (such as a city council meeting or even just a meeting with his peers) without us going with him— Is this at all normal? I feel I’m being used as co-director, executive assistant, personal assistant and planner all in one.

    1. Pink Candyfloss*

      It is not the norm in most organizations. It sounds like almost reverse micromanaging in a way: he’s micromanaging himself through you.

    2. EMP*

      This sounds weird and like he’s using his team to cope with something else – anxiety, insecurity, I don’t know and can’t diagnose him, but it seems like a Him Problem that he’s making your problem. I’m glad he at least hung up the phone in that example so maybe you can enforce boundaries, but yeah, not normal.

      1. I'm A Little Teapot*

        This is exactly what I thought. It seems like more than verbally processing things, so maybe it started as verbal processing but its morphed into something much more.

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Well it’s hard to say without a verbatim transcript, but maybe he’s using you as a red team or a debate prep team. He’s counting on you to brainstorm how things might go in these sessions, so he can plan responses and counter-responses in advance. This a pretty common thing.

      If you think about this as a practical, work-related thing, instead of casting yourself as an unpaid therapist or life coach, you might not get so frustrated.

      Now it seems a little excessive that he’s taking you to every single city council meeting, but it’s not uncommon. He can’t know everything, so he wants his staff to be there to fill in details that he doesn’t have, right on the spot.

      1. RagingADHD*

        The first thought I had was that this boss processes information by talking through it. That’s not an unusual trait, particularly in leaders. Being the person the boss verbalizes with is actually a fairly common job function. This does seem to be at the intense end of the scale, but perhaps that’s because this is a small agency and the boss doesn’t have peers or more intermediate people to have these meetings with.

        1. ZugTheMegasaurus*

          I worked with an attorney who did that and those were the most aggravating conversations. I’d have to get his review on certain documents and we’d have this conversation:

          Me: “What should we do here?”
          Him: “Hm, well I would say A.”
          Me: “Okay, A.”
          Him: “Well no, the problem with A is X.”
          Me: “Okay, so then not A.”
          Him: “No, let’s do A.”

          No call lasted less than an hour and that was the structure of the *entire thing*. I realized fairly quickly that I was nothing more than a wall to bounce his ideas back at himself, but I’m pretty sure he doesn’t realize he’s doing it.

          1. RagingADHD*

            I actually find that kind of relaxing once you realize what’s going on. You don’t have to do anything or really even pay attention.

      2. Joielle*

        Yeah, my boss does this kind of thing and this is how I think of it – I don’t think it’s necessarily unreasonable. There are times when something stressful/complicated is going on and we end up having a LOT of discussion on different ways it could go (more than I sometimes think is necessary), but overall I see it as part of my job to help brainstorm and prepare for meetings and high-stakes discussions.

    4. Angstrom*

      A prep session to review a presentation, go over talking points and game-plan possible responses is not unusual before important meetings. Doing it for EVERY meeting is not normal.
      If it was just “Hey, could one of you run through this PowerPoint and see if I missed anything?”, that wouldn’t be a big deal. It doesn’t sound like that’s the case here.
      Calling you up repeatedly after hours about standard procedures is not normal.
      Wanting a sidekick for EVERY meeting is not normal.

    5. Anonymous 75*

      So I actually used to work for our local municipality at a very high level and we had an mpo and some of this is very common. having his staff go with him to the council meetings is probably an expectation of both the council and the administration. in my experience council members can and may ask very unexpected questions that your director may not have the most immediate knowledge of and their next question, and I know this because I have seen it happen more than once, is “then where is the person who can answer it”. Other meetings is a little more odd, but it may be the same reasoning. For the prr you may want to talk to whomever helps your with your legal and pr to get their opinion. at our office it was legal and a simple answer “an automatic response of acknowledgement must go out within 24 hours of request” would have been sufficient.

    6. Not A Manager*

      This reminds me of the boss who was using his executive secretary as his counselor, companion and emotional support. That turned out to only be the tip of the iceberg made of bees.

      Your guy sounds more general and less specific in his need, but boy does he sound exhausting.

    7. WantonSeedStitch*

      I am someone who processes best by having conversations with people, and like to at least bounce my thoughts off of other people to get their reaction before moving ahead with a plan, but this sounds extreme to me. Your boss sounds like he might have been promoted to his level of incompetence, and he recognizes he doesn’t have the skills and knowledge he needs to actually do his job, so he’s leaning heavily on his employees to provide the skills and knowledge. I’ll often do a conversation that looks like “here’s what I’ve got, what haven’t I thought of? What parts aren’t clear?” with my reports, but I don’t generally ask them to tell me what I should say or do. I get feedback that helps me inform or improve my work, but don’t ask them to do the work FOR me. It sounds like that’s what your boss is doing.

    8. LB33*

      Are you sure he really has the experience claimed? It sounds like he doesnt know what he’s doing at all

      1. AnonPlanner*

        As far as years of service, he has the experience. However, I consider him a true imposter not someone with imposter syndrome like me.

        He’s a shining example of the power of networking. He has his job because he shows up in person everywhere even if he has no business there.

    9. goddessoftransitory*

      Frankly it doesn’t sound normal, period, let alone for someone whose job description should definitely include handling things like this! Just because it’s a big job doesn’t mean he should require hand holding to even think about it.

      Plus, he can’t attend a meeting on his own? And he’s your BOSS? What exactly is he bringing to the table work-wise if he needs this level of encouragement and consoling? He sounds like Elmo from Sesame Street being scared to go on a swing, not a director of government projects.

    10. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      It doesn’t sound normal to me.
      I do get the part about him having a team session to go over communications so that everyone is on the same page if asked questions, but it sounds like it goes way beyond that.

      Either this manager is insecure, or they’re just the type that thinks discussing like this is how to manage? In creative fields it can be normal to have sessions like this, but it’s not so normal elsewhere.

    11. I'm Done*

      Most of that sounds pretty normal to me. I worked in the federal government doing long term planning and needed to be briefed by my team. I was responsible for several billion dollars and there was no way that I would have all the information myself since my team members would attend meetings that I did not attend due to the sheer volume. I also expected my senior team member to attend meetings with me to provide any needed technical expertise.
      So, not sure if your supervisor goes above and beyond by your description but for me there’s nothing strange about it. Actually, I sense bit of disdain from your end.

  3. cheeseplease*

    I sent a message on the tech issue page, but this website has not been loading for me for weeks. I can only pull it up on one specific browser (Safari). Anyone else running into a load issue?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Please email me — I actually just yesterday made the email field required on the Tech Issues form because I’ve gotten a handful of reports there with no email address included, which means I have no way to troubleshoot with you. Message me at and we’ll get it fixed. (But also, I am cautiously optimistic that we have a fix in place for everyone now and I hope I didn’t just jinx it by saying that.)

    2. Starscourge Savvy*

      It is working on Chrome for me. I had the same issue a week or so back, where I couldn’t get it to load at all in Edge or Chrome, but after a cache clear it’s working fine again. (I know that’s probably something you’ve tried already but, just in case!)

    3. rayray*

      I have had some on and off issues but they have mostly gone away. Weirdly, sometimes using an incognito tab in chrome worked when I couldn’t get on.

    4. me*

      Works fine for me on safari with an updated iOS, but not on an older iPad where I can’t update the iOS.

    5. Cyndi*

      I think I saw a few actual site outages times this week–I got an error from Cloudflare, or the Wayback Machine loaded–but otherwise it’s doing fine for me in both Edge and Firefox.

    6. Might Be Spam*

      It’s working on Opera now. Yesterday I kept getting the verify page, but today it’s fine.

          1. Any old username*

            Me too – but I run a VPN so that might be the reason why for me. Before for a while it wouldn’t even let me on the site unless I turned the VPN off.

  4. LLC and resume structure*

    Need some resume formatting advice.

    I have several multi-year gaps on my resume due to downsizing. (I live in the sticks, so finding on-site work in my field is harder than average. My shortest commute over the past decade was an hour each way.) I freelance on the side, so I adjust my workload higher/lower depending on my full-time status. I’ve recently registered an official LLC for my freelancing, with a name/logo/etc.

    I’ve always used this freelancing to fill my resume gaps, so I’m wondering if companies would balk at me using the LLC name for older resume entries. The entity title is legally new, but the work hasn’t changed. Would this get raised eyebrows at a background check, if they look up the LLC and see the creation date? I’m not trying to be deceptive, I just want to streamline my messy work history.

    (Worth noting is that the lockdown/remote revolution has been a huge boon to my field. Future hiring managers in tech hubs may not be able to relate to my “small town, no jobs” issues that occured pre-2020.)

    1. DMPK*

      You could put the freelance work in the gaps under the type of work + client and (Freelance), then in whatever you have as a summary section in your resume, indicate that currently your freelance is done as X Company LLC.

    2. londonedit*

      Would it make sense at all to have your freelancing as a separate entity on your resume? Like, you’d list your in-house roles under one umbrella, then list freelancing under a separate umbrella, and say something like ‘Alongside my in-house roles I have run a successful freelance llama grooming business since 2003, providing expert llama grooming services to farms with herds ranging from 50 to 200 llamas. In March 2023 I registered this business as I Groom Your Llamas, LLC’ or whatever.

    3. Snow Globe*

      This isn’t exactly the same, but when a company I worked for merged and changed it’s name, I had it as : LLamas, Inc. (fka Grooming Corp). You could just put everything in one bullet under the LLC, but add and fka by whatever name you were using previously, even if it is your personal name – Llamas LLC, (fka Janice Jones Freelancing).

      1. Not A Manager*

        Or the inverse. List the freelancing under the name it was known at the time, and then in parens put (incorporated as Llamas LLC as of 2022).

    4. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      You could list it the way Alison recommended for when companies merge or change names. I think it was something like:

      Teapot Designer – ACME Inc (previously XYZ Co)

      so maybe:

      Cat Guru – freelance (as My LLC starting in 2023)

      1. Chaordic One*

        I like this. A lot of people won’t know what “fka” represents. (In my CSR job you wouldn’t believe the odd questions I get about common abbreviations (for things like addresses) that people don’t know, and don’t have the initiative to google. I’m just sayin’.

  5. Laid Off Lady?*

    We’re going through a painful re-org at the moment, and I’m wondering if this specific piece is okay? About 60% of roles are being reclassified, and people will need to re-apply to roles that are either:
    slight demotions
    the same with a different title
    Slightly elevated duties
    Completely different role

    Is this a way to get out of paying severance? A few people asked about severance but it was not answered in the Town Hall. It’s a hard time for a lot of people, an uneasy limbo.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      I’ve been through something kind of similar, & I would think that it is a way of getting out of severance. (In my case, my position was reclassified in a way that was very negative for me. There was no option to reapply, etc. If there had been, I would have just taken the severance/layoff. They were strangely surprised when I found another job & quit, even after making my thoughts on their actions clear.)

    2. SweetestCin*

      It could be. It sounds icky, and I’m so sorry.

      Random tidbit – I had a parent go through a ridiculous re-org/takeover/purchase of company 1 by company 2 (pick your option because as a pre-teen I only knew that my parent was annoyed and freaked in varying capacities) in my childhood. Because of how the re-org was handled, Company 2 absolutely bungled things up – the manner in which they shifted roles/reclassifed things resulted in a lawsuit. They had managed to create a situation in which they had asked something on the order of 90% of their professional staff who was over the age of 40 to reapply, while managing at the same time to not ask around 90% of their professional staff ages 39 and younger to reapply.

      My limited understanding was that the resultant court actions resulted in a giant, public Mea Maxima Culpa, and that nobody had to reapply.

    3. Pink Candyfloss*

      This is going to depend a lot on your local labor laws.

      We are going through the same – the terms are spelled out clearly in writing.

      For us, anyone affected who applies for a revamped position, is offered it, and declines the offer, is considered self-terminating and not eligible for severance. You have been offered a role, and you declined.

      Anyone affected who does not apply for any positions in the new org is considered as being let go as part of the re-org and will qualify for normal severance. You did not apply for a role, therefore you are being laid off.

      It is noted that a revamped position can be +/-10% salary range deviation within the context of a lateral move and still be considered lateral (i.e. not a demotion), so you may be affected by up to a 10% pay decrease (or increase!) if you bid into something that overlaps with your current but not quite equal in salary band.

      Again, this is clearly spelled out, in writing, and has been provided to all employees.

      1. Pink Candyfloss*

        Also I forgot a 3rd category – anyone affected who applies for a revamped role, but *is not selected/does not receive an offer* is also considered being laid off, and is eligible for severance. The company did not offer a new position. Therefore severance still applies.

        Ask for guidance IN WRITING and go by what they give you. They will need to give you something as a CYA at the least, if they have competent legal/HR who is mindful of avoiding lawsuits.

    4. Parenthesis Guy*

      Hard to say. Severance isn’t something companies have to offer. But if they have it in their handbook saying they’ll pay it, then they have to pay it. I’d wonder if it’s an attempt to get around the WARN act. Basically, if 500 people get laid off, they need to give I think 60 days notice prior to the layoffs.

    5. Zofran*

      It could be, but they don’t have to pay severance at all if they don’t want to. I’m sorry, it really sucks.

    6. Laid Off Lady?*

      Our org has historically paid severance when letting someone go, and since this new leadership came in they’ve already laid off 10% of our staff and they all got severance.

      This new re-org is such a mess, there aren’t really plans in place for time sensitive work to get done, and we have nothing in writing about who is staying and who is going but the new leadership are refusing to address it and are making middle managers who did not make these decisions communicate it out and “answer questions” but most of the answers are vague and basically “we don’t know”.

    7. Snow Globe*

      I’ve gone through a few reorgs and mergers, and this is pretty typical. Under the new structure, some jobs will change, some will go away, some departments will combine, etc., so they go through this process to determine where to put people. There would be severance offered to people that didn’t end up with a position, but they go through this process to ensure that there is some thought put into who is “hired” into the new roles. It can feel like you are interviewing for your own job, but it’s really not the same job, it’s a similar job with the new organization.

    8. Ann O'Nemity*

      This happens, it sucks, it’s legal, and it’s a way to get out of paying severance.
      In my state at least, the unemployment office considers it “constructive discharge” aka involuntary termination and WILL pay full unemployment benefits.

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

      Severance is not required by law but companies tend to offer it in exchange for an agreement the employee doesn’t sue or badmouth the company; although I think a recent DOL ruling has indicated that is not legal to require employees give up their rights in exchange for severance — I’m not a lawyer.

      I don’t know about trying to get out of paying severance, but they are covering their legal bases. If they are reclassifying positions and changing job description, this will likely change whether the position is exempt or non-exempt. If the reclassification happens to affect mostly people 40+ or mostly women, making them reapply might be a way for the company to claim that it wasn’t a discriminatory change — they all equally had the opportunity to reapply for a “new” position.

      My former grand boss tried to change my job description and duties during the pandemic and I was so bold to call out in the meeting that it would result in me being misclassified as exempt if she just informally changed our job descriptions. She probably consulted with Payroll, HR or Legal because those changes quietly went away.

  6. Want an interview*

    Didn’t get an interview to a job I’m highly qualified for. Would like to follow up with the hiring manager. Any advice?

    1. Want an interview*

      Context: manager assistant spot. Have interviewed twice for manager spots (including the current manager’s spot). She told me that people more qualified applied and therefore they are getting the interviews. However, she told me that one was from a specific area and I have much more experience and qualifications than those staff. Manager is not great at reading emails and I suspect that she did not read my resume

      1. Want an interview*

        There’s another potential opening coming up in September. New manager is a gatekeeper for this position. Fwiw, I have more leadership experience than the new manager, she got the job because she was the previous manager’s assistant

        1. House On The Rock*

          As others have said, litigating your case with the hiring manager is going to come off poorly and could hurt your reputation overall. In addition, I’d suggest not speculating on why the other candidate got the job, at least not in the way you seem to be. It is entirely legitimate for someone to hire an employee whose work is known even if, on paper, they have less “leadership experience”. Instead of denigrating the preferred candidate, think about what you can do to be more competitive next time. Alternately, if this really is about unbridled nepotism, that’s not something you can argue and doing so will also tick off the manager.

      2. Loulou*

        Honestly, if that’s your attitude, don’t do it. You’re assuming she didn’t read your resume because you want to believe if she had, she would have interviewed you, but that’s not how these things work. You don’t sound like you want feedback, you want to convince her she was wrong, and that’s not likely to work out for you.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Don’t do it. I’m assuming you got a rejection in some form? There’s some reason they chose not to interview you, and it would be pushy to follow up after that. If they wanted to talk to you, they would have.

      This advice would be slightly different if you had already met with the hiring manager and you didn’t get the job. But if you’ve never met or spoken to this person, do not reach out. It’s not going to get you anywhere.

      1. Want an interview*

        The hiring manager is my colleague. Her rationale was that I’m less qualified. I’m actually more qualified than some of the people interviewing

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          OK– she’s your colleague, so you did speak to her, but she told you you’re less qualified and you disagree. It’s not going to be great for you to keep pushing back. Your best option may be to wait a little bit and then set up a time with her, ask what you can do to become more qualified for the position, if she has any feedback or advice, etc., but do not go to her and tell her she’s wrong. That wouldn’t get you anywhere.

        2. I edit everything*

          It sounds like you’ve already followed up, then. At this point, accept what she has said and let it go. You could get away with asking for advice on what experience or training you could work on to make you more competitive. But keep in mind that you won’t know everything that’s happening behind the scenes.

        3. LondonLady*

          It’s understandable to feel frustrated when you disagree with the hiring decision, but it is their decision to make.

          Alison has several helpful past posts on this kind of situation eg or look at the ‘rejections’ category.

          You can decide whether you want to stay in this organisation or not, and the extent to which you choose to go ‘above and beyond’ in your current role or simply fulfil your contract and enjoy life outside work.

          You can’t make them revisit their hiring decisions and to argue the point is more likely to harm your chances of promotions, interesting projects or good references in future.

        4. Sunflower*

          I don’t think you can follow up to try to plead your case for why you deserve the job. What you can do is send them an email thanking them for interviewing you and ask for feedback on what kind of experience they are looking for or other tips to improve your likelihood should the job come up again.

          Coming back and pleading your case, while not your intention, makes it appear that you think you know more than the hiring manager. It’s not a good idea.

        5. Rex Libris*

          That’s kind of a boilerplate response, and may not be the whole story. I’ve hired people over others for all sorts of reasons… I thought I’d work better with one or the other, I thought one or the other would have better rapport with the team, I thought one or the other would be less likely to react negatively to direction or pushback from the managers, would be better at navigating the office politics, etc. etc.

          In other words, there could be more going on that the hiring manager either doesn’t want to get into, or doesn’t want to bring into your current working relationship. Not necessarily the case, but a possibility.

        6. Ellis Bell*

          Even if you don’t agree with the answer, you were given an answer! What more can possibly be said at this point: “No, you’re wrong about the level of experience and you suck at hiring”? Even if you were to convince her that she missed something and overlooked you, (genuinely frustrating, sure) you would still look alarmingly pushy and over invested in the job. You might have more luck if you appear to accept the answer, let it cool off and when there’s no danger of looking desperate, say something like: “I’d like to apply for x and I was hoping my experience in y would make me a strong candidate. I haven’t had much luck in the past though! Is there anything else that candidates need to bring to the table that I’m overlooking?” At the very least you will have flagged up the experience you want her to know about verbally beforehand. Do be cool with their right to pick whoever though, and always be prepared to be overlooked; no job is a dead cert even if you are your field’s resident rock star. There are loads of reasons besides qualifications and experience why interviewers might go with someone else and that’s why you’ve got to spread your net widely and not expect to succeed in just one place.

    3. rayray*

      No advice, but can commiserate. I am extremely frustrated when I apply for jobs when I meet the basic requirements in the listing and hear nothing.

      Job hunting right now is sooo much more difficult than many people realize.

    4. Colette*

      Is this an internal job or external?

      If it’s internal, you may be able to ask for feedback on how to improve for the next opportunity. If it’s external, just let it go.

    5. Khatul Madame*

      Move on. There may be a thousand reasons why they passed on interviewing you. You will not change the hiring manager’s mind.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      You need to hear the no.

      Apply to jobs with different hiring managers, because this one is not impressed by you.

      1. Not teenage but still ninja turtle*


        Additionally, coming at this by assuming incompetence on the manager’s part (“Manager is not great at reading emails and I suspect that she did not read my resume”) is a little alarming.

        Right now, you are looking at this as if your potential outcomes are “no” and “yes.” They aren’t. “Yes” isn’t on the table. The potential outcomes are “no” (which could just be for this specific role) and “hell no” (which is far more permanent.) You are in the more preferable category now. Don’t jeopardize it.

  7. Cruciatus*

    Can anyone speak about being an insurance underwriter? I realize you can’t necessarily speak for all companies but from what you know—is it a good career? Is it a burn out career? What are daily tasks/challenges like? What skills (hard or soft) help make someone successful at this position? What sort of career steps are possible from being an underwriter?

    A local (but multi-state) insurance company in my city has underwriter trainee positions listed and I’m finding it really appealing. I know more or less what underwriting is (but not all the metrics used, of course). I don’t know if insurance is my passion (but I also don’t know what else is). The idea of learning something new and changing my career is just really speaking to me right now (not to mention the starting pay is 10K more than my current pay). I currently work in an academic library (non-librarian) but I have no prospects on this campus (hiring freeze, limited jobs) and I’m starting to really desire learning something ANYTHING new at this point. I plan on applying anyway just to refresh those skills, but any insight people can offer would be welcomed!

    1. Starscourge Savvy*

      I work in insurance for one of the Big Companies and in general, I’ve found it to be a good industry. My company at least has great benefits, decent pay even at lower levels, lots of opportunity for movement within the company, and a real encouragement of work-life balance.

      Flexibility, patience, and the wherewithal to jump in when opportunities present themselves (even when they’re scary!) will get you really far.

      1. Cruciatus*

        This is why I’m trying to get into this company! They treat their people well. I have people “on the inside” and they say it’s all true what you hear. And I figure if I got into the underwriter trainee position and hated it, I’d still have other places to move into. Thanks for the info!

    2. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      Insurance is not an exciting industry, but it’s relatively stable, tends to pay more than others, and has a lot of different career paths. I work for one as a Business Analyst, so more on the tech side (yes tech roles exist in all industries, not just tech companies) I make very good money, we get a good yearly bonus at all levels, open PTO that you can actually take, very remote friendly.

    3. GingerNP*

      I think it’s okay to pick a new career or job that isn’t your “passion” simply because it’s work you can do, it pays well, and it will allow you to have a life outside of your office. Sounds like those pieces could all be a part of the new opportunity with the insurance company.

  8. Amber Rose*

    The best part of running a meeting is shutting down the nonsense off topic rambling that my coworkers are prone to (I’m getting so good at this because I have Lots of Practice). The worst part of being in a meeting is… the nonsense rambling my coworkers are prone to.

    We had a meeting on writing business documents and it spiraled into a lengthy discussion of the politics in a country we aren’t in.

    If I’m not running the meeting, I don’t really have standing to tell people to stop their nonsense do I? Because increasingly, I find myself the only person willing to make it stop.

    1. EMP*

      You can still speak up and say “can we get back to the agenda at hand?” although depending on who the worst offenders are and your relative standing in the company (if they are much more senior than you, for example), it can come off as inappropriate in some circumstances. But when you’re peers or close to peers, I think it’s totally reasonable to steer the conversation back on track!

    2. NotRealAnonForThis*

      Question: how much political (sorry no pun intended) capital do you have in these meetings as a stakeholder?

      Is it worth throwing a comment like “in the interest of respecting all participants’ time, we need to get back on track”? I’ve heard this no fewer than three times this week in overly large virtual meetings by someone who was most decidedly NOT the moderator/host. And it was inevitably said by someone several grades up the payscale from me.

      1. Amber Rose*

        I have a great deal of seniority and probably nobody would care much if I spoke up. Except maybe the person actually running the meeting. I dislike stepping on toes when I don’t absolutely have to because it makes it easier for people when I do have to.

        1. NotRealAnonForThis*

          So it may be a case of “know your audience” before speaking up.

          It sounds exhausting.

        2. Sandi*

          I would schedule a meeting after that meeting even if it’s just a calendar invite to make you appear busy, and then blame it. “I’m sorry to ask that we focus on topic, but I have a hard limit at noon.”

        3. Quinalla*

          Yeah, that’s a real concern of not stepping on toes too much. Can you shoot an IM to the person running the meeting instead of speaking up asking if they can get the meeting back on track or if they want you to speak up about it. Or maybe after the meeting follow up and say hey, that meeting derailed for 15 minutes on off-topic conversation. In the future, would you prefer to speak up to get back to the agenda or ok if I go ahead.

          This is a huge pet peeve of mine in meetings. A little banter is ok, we’re human after all, but a complete derail that wastes everyone’s’ time, no thank you!!

    3. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      Hey guys, this is really interesting, but I’m swamped right now, so could we table this until after we finish Work Topic?”

      I use variations of this.

      1. Cordelia*

        yes, I do similar – “oh, this is really interesting but I’m just aware of the time, should we get back to Work Topic and come back to this afterwards?”

        1. Buffy will save us*

          I also throw in “I have a hard stop at xxx. Is it possible to finish up with the agenda and circle back to this afterwards?” or something to that effect.

    4. JR*

      I do, but I have a solid standing at work with a reputation for being extremely to the point. People almost expect it of me now.

      I’ll straight up interrupt people, too. Always as politely as I can, but I won’t wait for someone to stop talking if it seems like they’ll keep going on and on. “Excuse me, I’m sorry to interrupt, but I would like to get back to [meeting topic]”

    5. irene adler*

      You might talk with the meeting chair ahead of time to agree that you can- and will- speak up to get the meeting back on track. Maybe even stablish a prearranged signal.

      I’m betting derailing of a meeting is something chairs don’t think much about – until it happens. And then they either have to curtail it as you do or have a plan ahead of time that someone else will.

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

      A phrase that gets tossed around my org during rambling meetings is “respect for everyone’s time” so maybe soften it by phrasing it as a question. It allows the person running the meeting an opening to get back in control.

      “I want to be respectful of everyone’s time, so can we put that on the next agenda?” for things that might be off-topic but still work-related.

      or “I want to be respectful of everyone’s time, so if we’ve covered the agenda is now a good point to wrap up the meeting?” for non-work discussions even if the agenda hasn’t been covered.

    7. Nesprin*

      “I’m so sorry, I have a hard stop at X- can we finish out the agenda items then come back to this?”

  9. Elevator Elevator*

    My father wants to hire some admin support for his business, and I’m likely going to be the one handling the search. It’s a part time thing with a lot of flexibility, where they’ll periodically receive documentation from Dad (a new client, notes on a service that was rendered, whatever – no billing) and log it into a web-based CRM program. It’s going to be remote (but in-state), a couple of hours a week, with no set hours or expectation of on-demand availability – just receiving an email with info that needs to go into the system, and finding time to get that done within a few days of receiving the request. The role’s likely to evolve over time if it’s a good fit, and as the business grows it might become something more structured, but I’d say this’ll be the shape of it for at least the next year.

    What I’m wondering is where’s the best place to post something like this? I feel like everything runs through Indeed now, but is that actually a decent place for minor gigs like this? It would have been ideal for Craigslist 10+ years ago.

    (Any other advice or considerations welcome – I’m a regular reader of the site and pretty confident I can pull together a decent process, but I have zero experience with hiring.)

    1. NameRequired*

      I’d say Indeed and LinkedIn are the primary places people look for jobs, plus discipline-specific job boards.

    2. rayray*

      Is this something a college student could do? A part-time, remote, flexible job would probably be a dream for college students. I think many colleges have a career center or somewhere that jobs can be advertised to students.

      I did a part-time admin type of role in college and they were super flexible with me and I could come in on my time, it was wonderful.

    3. MissGirl*

      I’m wondering if some Facebook community pages might be a better fit. I’m not sure someone looking for a job that’s a few hours a week is looking on LinkedIn. You could also post to some stay at home parent groups.

      1. rayray*

        Agree with the stay-at-home parent idea, I know of many that would love something minimal like this to earn a little extra money.

    4. Carolina cardinalis*

      Are there any colleges in your state with programs that are related to the business? This sounds almost ideal for an in state college student. You might draft up the job description, find the department page for the college, and email the head or whoever coordinates (should be listed on the department website) with a brief intro and description of the job and ask them if they could forward it to their students.

    5. Small Business Owner*

      I would strongly recommend contracting with a Virtual Assistant company for something like this. This is exactly the kind of work they are built to do, and you don’t take on the liability/hassle of a W2 employee. At most, you still get a dedicated VA — one person who works with your business — I would look for that feature. (There are also freelance VAs, I just think they’re harder to find.)

      Usually you contract for a set number of hours per month of their services, which they use up as-needed with tasks you send. Depending on the firm, it can be as low as 10 or 15 hours a month — or more if you need.

      If, down the road, the business needs a more dedicated person, you could shift into a hiring space. But for something this low-ask, I think the VA route would be way more expedient (and lower commitment). If it doesn’t work out, you don’t have to fire; you just end the agreement with the company.

  10. Van Wilder*

    Tomorrow, I’m starting a 30-day digital declutter, ala Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism. (Please send thoughts and prayers.)

    Along with that, I will be away from this site for a month. Even though I think it’s totally valuable and I can justify it all day, I’m following the rules so I can be more intentional about my internet use when I come back.

    I think I’ll miss this site most of all! Ack!

  11. ProfessionalAxolotl*

    First-time commenter, looking for tips to deal with an uncomfortable situation with a coworker.

    I’ve been at my company for about 3 years as a senior Llama Groomer, and they’ve joined a little more than 6 months ago in the same role, but they technically have been in the industry for way longer than I have. The issue is, they’re terrible at their job.
    At first, I was patient and spend a loooong time mentoring them and showing them the ropes, even when they were asking help with things they should know at their seniority level. They’ve failed at every single task that was assigned to them, taking months to do things that have historically taken a junior employee a couple days at most.

    I’m at the end of my rope and find myself getting more and more frustrated every time they ask for help, because they should know how to do all these things! I’ve tried taking it up to my manager, and they’ve told me they’re aware, but nothing has changed and I’m considering leaving for my mental health, even though I love the rest of the team and I have a lot of emotional investement in the project I’m working on.

    Does anyone have any wise words as how to deal with a situation like this? My hope would be that they would be put on a PIP or at least demoted, but nothing of the sort seems to be hapenning.

    1. Colette*

      You wouldn’t necessarily know if they were on a PIP – just as you wouldn’t want them to know if you were.

      How much of this is your problem? It sounds like not much. What happens if you say now when they ask for help?

      1. Observer*

        I’m going to push back on “just like you wouldn’t want them to know.”

        The OP doesn’t need details. But if they actually DO need to continue helping, then they have legitimate standing to know what if anything is being done to resolve the problem. Again, not details but the general picture. Because the issue is not not his discipline but the OP’s ability to get her work done.

        1. Colette*

          Are you saying you would want a coworker to know you were on a PIP?

          I understand ProfessionalAxolotl wants something to be done, but it’s not clear to me that it really affect her (other than knowing the coworker is doing a bad job). If the coworker’s poor performance is causing problems for her – e.g. she’s expected to fix the problems – she has standing to ask for action. But if she just knows the problems are happening and can decline to get involved, she doesn’t – that’s the manager’s problem to fix.

          1. Observer*

            No, I’m saying that the perfectly understandable desire to not have this information shared is not enough to outweigh the OP’s standing to know – IF they actually need to continue helping this person. If they have the ability to just walk away, that’s different.

            1. Merry*

              OP is choosing to help. That’s far different from being assigned to help. As such, OP is free to not help. It’s that straightforward.

        2. Rex Libris*

          As a manager, you generally have a responsibility to keep disciplinary actions between yourself and the employee (and HR). Besides privacy concerns or other liability, you don’t feed the gossip pool or risk creating further drama or resentment among coworkers by disclosing that sort of thing. As a coworker, you can either trust that the manager is handling it or not, but you don’t really have standing to know how it’s being handled.

          1. Observer*

            As a manager, sometimes not sharing information is just as likely to feed the rumor mill as not.

            It’s often not reasonable to expect that management is handling something unless they actually tell you that they are handling it. And at this point, it doesn’t look like ProfessionalAxolotl’s manager has told them anything. There is a major difference between “We’re working on this, and there will be an end date” and “We know.” (Which is what they seem to have said.)

          2. AcademiaNut*

            If an employee is directly affecting by a coworker’s poor performance – for example, as in this case, it’s causing them extra, frustrated work, then they do have the standing to know that it’s being handled, and/or to have the extra, frustrating work handled by their manager.

            That’s what ProfessionalAxolotl’s problem is. If her manager had said that it’s being handled, and to let them know if it continues to be a problem, she wouldn’t know details, but would have some idea that their manager takes it seriously and is addressing it.

            The problem with not providing any information to affected employees is exactly what’s happening here – you’ve got a longstanding, competent employee who is considering leaving out of frustration because they have no idea if a performance issue is being addressed, or ignored. So they lose a productive employee, and are left with the unproductive one.

    2. EMP*

      Unfortunately in this situation you can only control yourself, not what happens to your coworker. It is incredibly frustrating, but reframing it as “what do I want MY day to day to look like” can help as opposed to “what I want to happen to them”. Can you back off of helping them at all? Suddenly you are too busy to help them and need to focus on your own work. If your manager is aware, can you make sure you aren’t put on projects where their incompetence will significantly impact your work load? Disconnecting from the problem as much as you can is sometimes all you can do.

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

      That sounds very frustrating. Can you just stop helping them? Don’t be rude, but firmly say you are busy with A, B, and C of your own duties and cannot help them? Doing this a number of times might send the message with them, and having them fail at their tasks may hopefully send the message to the management.

      It’s possible that things are going on behind the scenes with management. You can also keep some documentation on the things they have done wrong, and give it to management as part of a paper trail.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        > Can you just stop helping them?

        Tempting though it is – I think this is likely to backfire if there is ever a PIP, because they’ll have the excuse of “I wasn’t given the help I needed to improve” and then you will be stuck with them indefinitely … I think the key is to continue helping without being ‘too’ helpful, but carefully document for your manager exactly how long you have spent helping, what were the specific things they needed help with, any patterns (repeated mistakes etc) this one is really important.

        I have been in a similar position to ‘comment OP’ and for various reasons it took more than a year of a softly softly approach before the person was put on a PIP, but then things moved quickly once they were.

        You wouldn’t necessarily be told (and arguably shouldn’t be told) but my gut feel is there’s no PIP in place here – yet? or at all?

        I would actually have a direct conversation with the manager and say look, we’ve had this talk a few times, you’ve said you’re aware but nothing is changing and it can’t continue like this and I am thinking of what this means for my future at this company. Your manager won’t want to be stuck with only an incompetent ‘senior’ llama groomer (there’s a wider team but the two of you are the only seniors – yes?)

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I think another talk with the manager is in order, but in the context of LW’s own work; “I’m working on ABC and won’t have the time to mentor Other Employee as I have up until now, can we work out a plan for who to recommend that they go to in future?”

          Really stress that your own work needs all your attention and that you simply cannot be available in future for doing hers as well (don’t phrase it that way, natch, but make it clear you have to shut down the Hand Holding Savings And Loan.)

    4. danmei kid*

      The answer is: this isn’t something I can/I have time to/I feel comfortable/ helping you with. Please go to your manager.




      It is not on you to be responsible for this person; keep referring them to the person who is responsible for their work. It is not your pain to carry. Let the person who manages them carry it.

      1. I edit everything*

        ^^This. Make their performance issues their manager’s problem, which is where they should be, not yours. You’ve done what you can and you should focus on your job, not theirs.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        “Make your underling/coworker’s bad performance the problem of someone who can do something about it” is solid advice.

      3. Loulou*

        Right. This doesn’t seem like it should affect you as much as it does, unless there is something I’m not understanding about the relationship between you and your coworker?

      4. I'm A Little Teapot*

        Multiple advantages here. First, you don’t have to deal with it. Second, if the manager isn’t actually doing anything this will push them to. Third, if the manager is trying to do something, this will help them get the information they need to effectively deal with the issue.

    5. Dreaming koala*

      Do you have any documentation for the tasks that need to be performed? I usually ask people to look there first. If they do not, ask them why not, phrasing it in a way „is there something missing, should we add something?“.
      Also sometimes when I do not reply immediately (online) or tell that I am currently not available to help, people find solutions themselves or go to someone else.
      I believe in your situation it might me helpful to let others fail, especially if it’s not a priority for your manager.

      1. ProfessionalAxolotl*

        We do have documentation, and to be honest it’s added to my frustration because their reaction to being re-directed to it was “The documentation is bad, at my old job we had professionals writing it.”. They just didn’t read it all the way through… (and I recognize that it might not be perfect but it’s illustrated, has videos, it’s as good as can be for internal docs). Our specific job has a big “figure it out” factor as well, something akin to an IT team.

        They have failed several time, but the only consequences have been: “Okay, they won’t work on grooming llamas anymore, let’s try walking the llamas instead”, repeat ad-infitinitum where we’re running out of possble tasks for them.

        I guess all I can do is wait it out, fingers crossed!

        1. Ellis Bell*

          I think it’s okay to run out of possible tasks for them! Make the chocolate teapot-ness of it all quite obvious! I’m not sure how much you rely on this person to get the work done, or on how much your reputation relies on the work they’re doing so badly, but I have a few suggestions: 1) Officially, in your mind at least, tell yourself that training is now over. If they’re not getting it by now, they never will. You will know better than I, if you can say this out loud to them: “We’re not in the training period any more, so at this point you’re going to have to make your own peace with the documentation and figure it out like everyone else.” If you can’t say that, be very shruggy, reiterate that you covered training on x a while ago and just say something like: “Huh, I find the documentation useful but if you want to improve it you should let boss know”.
          2) Distance your work from their work as much as possible. You can’t ask your boss to discipline someone else but you can talk about your own. career trajectory: “Okay boss, so if colleague is going to work on walking the llamas, I’m going to stay with the grooming report because I need to get my own work back on track after this extended training period”, or “While coworker gets up to speed can they work on less visible task B? I really need task A to be up to speed for the clients.”
          3) Just keep making it your boss’ problem or your colleague’s problem: it’s certainly not yours. Is your colleague bored and dissatisfied because they suck at everything? Not your problem. Is your boss casting around for a magic training wand task? Fretting that they have no work to give your colleague that they can do? Not your problem.
          If the upshot is that in spite of attempts to distance yourself from it, your boss wants you on babysitting duty until the impossible happens and the colleague becomes magically competent then yeah, I would consider job hunting because then you have a boss problem as well as a coworker one.

          1. Dreaming koala*

            I like your recommendations, especially the one to distance your work from this colleague’s. I understand that it can be frustrating and I was in similar situations before, but if you like your current company and your team in general, it’s worth a try to make the situation good enough for YOU before you decide to switch somewhere else.

    6. E*

      Ugh, annoying! Is your manager decent and reasonable otherwise? If so, it might be worth another conversation to let them know how much this is impacting you. I wouldn’t say you’re planning to leave till you have something concrete lined up (either another job or if it’s that bad, a clear plan to leave on X date without one). But putting it on their radar w more urgency and getting their support for you to not step in and cover for your colleague might help.

      Also, can you work on getting more distance from your emotional investment in the work? Sounds like that is part of the issue

      1. ProfessionalAxolotl*

        Honestly, I do need to work on the emotional investment, but it’s been a struggle
        . Especially since I work in a weird industry where being a marginalized person (out lesbian) who has made it known I work on this project, any failure could mean credible death threats and having to hide from the internet.

        I definitely have other jobs lined up since my role is quite niche and in demand, but I’ll probably try to talk to my manager again before it comes to that, I really want to finish this project.

    7. Some words*

      What’s your manager’s approach to problems? Do they tend to ignore them and hope they go away or do they generally take actions to address issues?

      I’ve been in a similar situation and after all was said and done, my manager preferred to ignore the problem. It was easier for them than hiring someone new. If that’s the case (sounds like it might be) the decision is yours. Can you endure a crappy co-worker going forward, or is it going to make you miserable? I had to adjust my attitude to accept things weren’t going to change in this regard. As long as management found terrible employee acceptable I wasn’t going to waste energy on wishing or working for them to improve. Trying to solve a “problem” management has decided they’re not going to address doesn’t win one brownie points.

    8. Fake Cheese*

      Could you just… let this person fail? Document the actions you’ve taken to help them and the person’s results. If your boss wants to keep them on, let it be the boss’s problem.

      Also, if your coworker IS on a PIP, your boss shouldn’t tell you. So there may already be actions happening that you’re not privy to!

    9. Turingtested*

      This might not work for every office but this is what I would do: go to your manager and explain that due to your workload you can only help coworker X amount of time. With your manager’s support, say the same to your coworker. Set up a standing meeting with coworker and be very firm about it. “Sorry busy now we’ll have to talk at 3!”

      1. Critical Rolls*

        Yes, if your manager is reasonable, talk to them about getting their backing to wash your hands of this. It’s eating up an unreasonable amount of your time and energy, to the point where you’re thinking of quitting. A decent manager would want to know that their bad hire is on the verge of driving off their good staff. Even if they are working through a process with the new hire that you aren’t privy to, they can stop making it your problem.

    10. good luck*

      Nothing to add, but it seems you are working with my former co-worker. Does she still do that thing where she does nothing but “lets everyone know this has been taken care of” after you do all the work? … if your managers are aware and aren’t addressing it, you can only vote with your feet.

    11. Observer*

      I’m not sure why this is your problem? Separate yourself as much as possible from this person – their failure should not be seen as your failure.

      Then stop helping this person. Put stuff in email and cc your manager. Also, TELL your manager that you don’t have the bandwidth to manage / help / cover this guy.

      And if you have credible reason to believe that you are at risk from his failure ask your boss (and GrandBoss and HR) what they are doing to protect you from fall out of failures that have nothing to do with you.

    12. JelloStapler*

      Sounds like an experience I had with a colleague who was more senior than me but was not efficient, awful with tech and tried to hide it. I finally had to drop the rope with them (referring them to their supervisor, limiting interaction, etc) and they FINALLY got called out put on a PIP and decided to retire instead.

    13. germank106*

      How does helping the coworker impact your workload? Can you go back to your manager and say “because I have to help coworker on X,Y and Z, I cannot complete my own projects.” You could also tell coworker “I’m sorry I’m busy with my own project, go ahead and ask the manager for help.”
      Putting the problem into the manager’s court every single time might lead to a much faster solution than waiting for them to do something about it.

    1. No Tribble At All*

      Not me, but my coworker :) We work closely with another org, and after she changed her name & pronouns on our shared slack, the other org (not even our employer!) went and updated her new email and name in all the systems they own. My coworker was surprised no one commented on it but appreciated that she didn’t have to ask them about it.

    2. Anon Anon Anon*

      My husband came out to a manager at his work a few months ago and received a great deal of encouragement around more feminine accessories and colors and his protections for dressing as he pleases (within the bounds of a professional dress code of course).

    3. Hillary*

      Story from a friend – someone was transitioning at a very macho union environment (indoors and comfortable). One of the guys was being a jerk about it, deadnaming, complaining about bathrooms, etc. His shop steward pointed out that there was literal garbage work included in their contract and informed the jerk that if he didn’t knock it off he’d find himself shoveling s**t.

      From another friend, when someone was transitioning the company handled it amazingly well. The HR person was very excited to pull out the transitioning employee handbook, coworkers were respectful and kind, and the sponsor of the women’s ERG emailed her on her first official day inviting her to join.

    4. alex (they/them)*

      My friend recently got a new job and hasn’t been misgendered at all! She was previously WFH to avoid having to deal with transphobic bullshit, so I’m very happy for her this is working out. I’m not out at work but my new workplace seems like it would be inclusive so I’m working up the courage right now.

      1. alex (they/them)*

        Also I had a summer job years ago where I was out at and while my coworkers weren’t the greatest about it, a kid saw my pronoun pin and said “ME TOO!!!” and I about cried.

    5. Kimmy Schmidt*

      My library hosted a gender affirming clothing swap last semester, and one of the students told us it was the most they felt they had ever belonged.

      1. Sic Transit Vir*

        Oh I love this!

        I have displays up at our library with books for kids and teens, and I am very pleasantly surprised that nobody has been a jerk about it.

    6. Cee S*

      A few years ago, a co-worker who worked with me formally changed (now) her name in all her documents and started to receive treatment on the transition. First thing on a Monday morning, my manager had a last-minute 1-1 meeting with me and told me the change. He told me to use her new name and pronoun. In addition, she now uses the female bathroom. (I am a women.)

      Last minute 1-1 always smell something bad…not this time! How does other companies handle such an announcement?

    7. Ampersand*

      Awww these are so heartwarming! :) And a nice change of pace—as much as I love reading about over the top bad bosses/coworkers/companies, it’s good to be reminded that not everything and everyone is awful. There is hope after all!

  12. Anecdata*

    I finally got my hands on a matrix describing our IC levels and expected performance — and I think I am under-leveled by almost 2 steps. My boss immediately agreed to the one level up and agreed to advocate for that for me in the next promotion cycle. But, I also think I’m meeting, say, 70-80% of the performance expectations of 2 levels up / could make a stretch case for that promotion as well.

    Any thoughts on how to navigate this? I have been wondering if it would be worth a conversation with my boss about what he thinks the next couple years of career growth might look like for me? I don’t absolutely need the 2nd level promotion /right now/ but I don’t want to end up in a situation where I only get one level promotion this cycle, and then years of “but you were just promoted!” keeping me under-leveled

    1. EMP*

      I think your idea of having that conversation is a good one. I think it’s unlikely you’ll get 2 level jumps at once but setting it up as a goal you want to reach in a couple years is good.

    2. MargaretC*

      In my organization 70-80% of two levels up isn’t enough. They want you to be at 120% before promotion.

      Work on the immediate goal of one step but put a plan in place for working toward the second step (make it time dependent: re-evaluate at one year, two years, etc). Set goals that will get you to that 120% competency in your first promotion. They will want to see measurable success performing at that level before they will be comfortable jumping you up the 2nd time.

      1. JelloStapler*

        Yup, here they want you to already work at that level (and not paid extra for it) because they put you in for a re-classification.

    3. AnotherLibrarian*

      Hmmm… I can’t speak to your workplace, but at my workplace making the case for two levels would be really challenging. Most of the time, people want to see you preforming at the next step before moving you up. In my experience, there’s generally key “items” that define the next level or grade and you’d need to hit one of them to make the case. It’s not enough to be at 70 to 80%, if that 70 to 80% doesn’t hit one of those key items. However, I don’t think you lose anything asking, especially if you frame it as, “I want to be at X by Y, how can I make myself competitive for that?”

      1. Anecdata*

        ooh thanks, this is helpful context. I’ve been thinking of it like applying to jobs — where you should go for it if you meet 70-80% of listed criteria, but sounds like that doesn’t translate into internal promotions

        1. WantonSeedStitch*

          Right. But talking to your manager about where they feel you’ll need to skill up to make that next move would be a good idea–and would help you to focus your professional development efforts.

          1. Anecdata*

            Yeah, I like that idea too. What I want to avoid is being stuck in a cycle of staying under-leveled, a little like, if say, you were gearing up to ask for a performance-based raise, and then you found out you were being paid 20% less than anyone else with your role. Do you combine the “I’m crushing expectations” raise with the “get me back to baseline” raise request, does asking for the 20% baseline raise weaken your chance to make the performance-based raise request, etc

            For context, I’ve been asking for the IC career levels description for the last ~2 years, but only just got it; and was surprised at both how low my level is actually (basically, I thought we were using a “llama engineer 1, 2, 3” system instead of “junior llama engineer, senior llama engineer, staff llama engineer..” but we’re actually using all those titles in sequence, and I haven’t even gotten out of the numbered ones); and how far I’m exceeding the expectations of my current band. I also know that ~2yrs ago, my boss changed my title (and gave an unasked for 10k raise) bc he realized I was working (for more than a year) under a title that was classified for roles not requiring a college degree (I have a master’s from a top-3 program in my field). That, and being tech and my dept being 90%+ men, has put me on edge that maybe I need to start asking for advancement more aggressively or just generally wondering if I’m leaving stuff on the table

  13. Robert Burns*

    How can I highlight a job on my resume that I left in 2019? I’ve had 2 jobs since, but I’m applying to something that is directly aligned with the job I left over 3 years ago

    1. rayray*

      Maybe in a cover letter. You could also try just having more detailed bullet points in that role than for your others.

    2. Totally Minnie*

      I would use the cover letter to draw the connection between this job and the one on your resume that aligns most closely.

    3. Pink Candyfloss*

      Highlight it in the cover letter; customize the skills section to focus on those skills that are relevant to the current application.

    4. The Ginger Ginger*

      I just reviewed a resume that split things into related experience and chronological work. That might work for you. The related jobs were at the top with the fuller employment timeline was underneath. It might be a little strange for you since your most recent role would appear lower in the resume. But I think if you also highlight it in your cover letter it might work.

      1. The Ginger Ginger*

        Although I’d also be intentional about talking about what skills in your most recent role carry across to what you’re trying to transition back to. There must be something that can function as a thread of continuity so they don’t worry you’ll be rusty.

    5. ecnaseener*

      You could have a “relevant experience” heading at the top of your resume followed by “other experience.”

  14. Share A Story!*

    I’m about to quit my min-wage dead-end day job and launch my own business that I’ve been planning out for years. (I’ve done this before, though over a decade ago. It did well, but I had to shutter the business due to health issues that are now resolved.) I’m tired of being overlooked and ignored for advancement because “you’re good at what you do here; we need you in this position more.” Tired of getting rejected for other types of jobs at other businesses because they see I’ve been stuck in dead-end job for years and think I can’t learn or do anything else at my age. (Mid-40s, frequently mistaken for half my age because Very Smol, with a “young-sounding” voice, and yes, I’m AFAB). Tired of feeling like no one will ever take me for an actual competent adult as long as I’m working at the bottom. Tired of not being able to do my own job because it relies upon people doing theirs first–which they then frequently drop the ball on, and I’m the one who takes the flack because I’m the first person most people talk to.

    So, for those of you out there who struck out on your own, what was your “weird” (or not) reason? If you regretted it and went back to working for someone else, why? I’m having a very stressful Friday and would love to distract myself with your stories of “Adventures in Self-employment.” :)

    (Aaaaaaand just found out right before I posted this that we’re running an eight-hour job fair starting in a few minutes, which I am expected to handle despite not knowing it existed until two inutes ago. So apologies if I don’t drop back in this thread in a timely manner.)

    1. WestsideStory*

      Relax – you don’t need a reason. When you are done, you are done. Your body starts to tell you it’s just not worth it to go through the motions. “I need a change” is just fine. You owe your current job nothing – you have done work, they pay you, that’s how it goes.

      For what it’s worth, over my decades of work life, I kind of alternated between being self employed for long periods, jumping back into corporate full time employee status when the right opportunity came or circumstances made it the right thing to do. I’ve done the great Swan Dive (quitting without having something lined up) maybe like five times.
      40 isn’t too old to start a new career – I am on my fourth at this point.

    2. Radicchio*

      I hate working for other people. I h.a.t.e. it. I hate having to make choices based on other people’s priorities which are frequently at odds with my own. I hate having to ask permission to take time to take care of myself. I hate that they need me but never want to pay me what I’m worth. I hate that every business I’ve ever worked for has ended up being a disaster that never gets fixed.

      I LOVED working for myself. I could care for myself and also refuse to do work that didn’t align with my values. I still had to be patient with frustrating people, but I got to decide when it wasn’t worth it any longer. Every single decision I made was mine, and I didn’t have to ask anybody else for permission.

      I went back to working for other people because I couldn’t get the business to take off in the way I needed it to, but being the person responsible for all of it (even the part where it didn’t work) really fed something in me. I’ve been trying to figure out how to create my own business again but in a way that is successful this time ever since.

      1. DawnShadow*

        Feeling you so hard here! thank you for putting it all into words. Today was my last day working for someone else and you really encapsulated the feeling. Tomorrow I make the move to full time independent contractor (I’ve been part time for a few months now) and I am so excited to be the one in charge of me!

      2. Share A Story!*

        This is exactly how I feel! You put it down into words well. :)

        (And thank you for actually responding to the comment I wrote, instead of assuming I needed to find justification to start my own business [I don’t; that decision is made!], or that I need to be told what it’s like to be an adult woman in the working world.)

    3. Small Business Owner*

      My reason: I wanted to create/run the company I wanted to be working for. I was sick of fighting the people at the top who were running things terribly and doing things that harmed the working environment for my team. And, at first, I wanted to not manage people anymore. (But with business growth came staff, and I mostly enjoy doing that again; just now on my terms.) And, of course, I wanted to get away from my old employer’s blatant sexism.

      Years later, I’m very happy with it. And, as my Other Half says, I’m utterly unemployable now. I’m used to being the boss now. I generally thrive at it – including at the pressure and unexpected challenges. And I would not do well adapting to anyone else being in charge.

      Because you bring it up: I will add, as a woman in her mid-40s, the sexism and fight to be taken seriously will not go away. Some of the dynamics you describe — of disrespect for my experience (“you can’t possibly be old enough to know about X”) and business (“oh how cute, you hung out a shingle” or “what a nice little side income, while your husband is supporting you”) — continue. I decide what clients to work with and how to respond to this shit, so I have more power to counter those interactions than as an employee. But the sexism and disrespect didn’t stop just because I have “Founder” in an email signature. But it does feel better fighting it from this position than it did as a cog in a sexist machine.

      Good luck!

  15. Empty Cup*

    How do I make a plan to get better at communication and organization when I’m already good at those things?

    At my company, we’re supposed to pick goals to accomplish each year, which affects our performance reviews. My goals for this year are getting better at communication and organization (my boss picked them…she won’t let me pick my own goals). I’m already good at these things though. They’re skills I’ve been praised for at previous jobs. My boss, on the other hand, is bad at both (I posted about her here a while ago because she made me worry I was having serious mental problems).

    She keeps asking me what my plans for the goals are. I tell her I already do A, B, C, and D, which works well for me. What does she want me to do differently? She gets exasperated and says it’s my job to figure that out. We have a meeting about it next week.

    I’m at a loss for how to make a plan. I was hoping I’d escape to a new job before the goals mattered, but they’re due in a few months now.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      I’m sorry – that sucks! How about trying to build on the skills you already have? Like taking more advanced training in those areas. (But I get that it’s hard when your boss won’t even tell you which areas she perceives you as needing work on. Mind-reading, maybe?)

    2. NameRequired*

      Is there a way you can add some minor and useless step? “Oh yes I put all of my communications in this specific folder/ write them down here/ set an alarm to remind me to follow up”

      Essentially, pay lip service and document your processes, preferably in a way that you can easily prove. She isn’t giving you guidance, and she doesn’t seem to actually care about what you do, just that you do something. So, do something and while you’re at it, keep up your job search.

      1. Alex*

        This! My boss was 100% like this. She wanted to check off a box. She didn’t actually care if the task being checked off was worthwhile. It sounds like your boss may be similar.

    3. HigherEdAdminista*

      I wonder if she will just not be aware if you say you met your goals of improvement by outlining the things you already do. She is disorganized and poor at communication, so the chances that she has noticed your strategies in this area are near zero. Report what you are already doing, and anything you do to streamline it and call the goals met!

      1. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

        This. You are probably right that you’re appropriately organized BUT the smart way to play this is to use the goal to help your boss feel more organized when interacting with you. That can be simple like reminding her that she was going to circle back on a question/issue, or it can be more extensive, like printing off a project schedule and going through the deadlines together. Sometimes with bosses who appear more unfocused (remember, she is juggling more than just your own output) the best way to keep them happy is to overcommunicate about stuff you would be doing anyway to show them that you’re already handling it.

    4. RagingADHD*

      Are there any buzzword courses you could take? Even if you don’t need them personally, you might be able to get the company to pay for them. Or you could find cheap versions on Udemy or Coursera. There are all sorts of programs and certifications that have to do with organizing and communicating, like project management stuff, data visualization, or other modes of communication.

      1. Sparkle Llama*

        Agreed, I think taking a class or doing some sort of professional development program would be a good option. One of my goals this year was to improve communication and other soft skills and the actionable step was to attend two trainings decided on by me and my supervisor.

    5. Anonyme*

      Your actual goal is that your boss hassles you less about this. But you can’t say that. Just give yourself easy tasks to progress on those goals and write it up in a professional looking learning plan. It doesn’t matter if you actually learn, just that you look like you are learning. Just a few articles to read, a couple podcasts to play. Maybe put up a communication tip on your whiteboard every week.

    6. Second Rodeo*

      Does she need you to get better at communicating with *her* and working with *her* organization style? (Which may be maladaptive generally, but better for her or those who work directly with her in the very short term.)

      If so, you could probably make some goals about communicating with her (attending trainings about various communication styles or influencing without authority, committing to some frequency of meetings/written communication, etc.) I ask because I had a similar issue with a similar boss. I ended up jumping ship (not only because of that, but not *not* because of that), but I did try to make it a little more workable in the meantime.

    7. Betty*

      Can you think of things that either she has criticized, or situations that you feel like didn’t go as well as you liked, or even aspirational people that you’d like to be more like in 5 years? And then use those as a starting point for short term goals? Or– is there something you’d like to be able to put on your resume that could be turned into a goal?

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

      Is she self-aware enough to KNOW she’s bad at communication and organization or does she believe she is the best? If she thinks she’s good at communication, write up a “plan” to copy her style but then mostly ignore it in practice. She’s might just be looking for an ego boost that she’s a great manager.

      If she is self-aware, maybe plan ways you can help HER with her communication — create email templates that can be used to answer FAQ or create a shared calendar/spreadsheet with project deadlines, deliverables, etc.

    9. WantonSeedStitch*

      Can you find some quick online learning sessions on something like time management or conflict resolution or facilitating meetings, and just say “I did these courses?”

    10. Rex Libris*

      Find a couple webinars on active listening, effective workplace communication and time management. Take them, and pretend to be enthusiastic about them?

    11. azvlr*

      Since it’s already something you do well, could your plan be to mentor someone who doesn’t. The rationale can be that teaching someone can be one of the best ways to learn. That way you are at least appearing to try. Sounds like a bunch of infantalizing BS to me.

    12. goddessoftransitory*

      “I plan to figure out how to phrase ‘I’M ALREADY DOING IT’ in a way you will comprehend.”

  16. Disability accommodation question*

    How do you ask about disability accommodations at the offer stage, if you don’t actually have a diagnos’d disability yet?

    Here’s the backstory. Due to some professional/personal circumstances, I may pursue testing for autism later this year. (I am a woman in my late 30s.) I will also be changing positions in the next few months and though it may not be a deal-breaker, I’d like to gauge how the organization handles requests for disability accommodations.

    Most of the AAM advice on disability and job hunting says, don’t disclose until the offer stage, then ask about accommodations for your specific disability. But I don’t have a (diagnos’d) disability yet, and I’d rather not tip my hand that this is something I’m looking into, without the piece of paper to protect me legally at least. Is there any way I can determine this information discretely?

    1. HigherEdAdminista*

      Could you ask about the culture around flexibility? Obviously, accommodations are more than flexibility, but this gives you a bit of a cover and you will find out how they treat time off, what their family leave policies are, and what they expect in terms of working a set schedule.

      If you find that they are very strict and stingy with flexibility, it may be an indicator that their culture of respecting and granting accommodations would not be much different, since I find those things tend to go hand in hand.

    2. E*

      I wonder if you could note that diversity, equity and inclusion are really important values to you and ask a few questions about their approach to that, including what their approach is to accommodating disabilities? It might be hard to get specifics without tipping your hand but worth a shot?

    3. RagingADHD*

      Look at the Job Accommodation Network at common accommodations for autism and see if you can ask questions about similar things, like how well documented the procedures are, how the hiring manager provides feedback, how structured the processes are or whether it’s a culture of autonomy and “get it done, we don’t care how,” that kind of thing.

      Honestly, a lot of ND folks are able to make changes to their way of working that are very helpful that don’t even require formal accommodation.

    4. Snow Globe*

      What specific accommodations would you ask for? Are those things that you could ask about, without framing it as an accommodation for a disability? e.g., working from home, quiet spaces, flexible schedules, etc. are things anyone might ask about while they are interviewing.

    5. Surewhynot*

      Do you know what accommodations you need? I am probably autistic (and do have an ADHD diagnosis) but don’t usually have to make a formal request to get what I need. This usually includes written instructions for everything, captions and transcripts whenever possible, and headphones whenever I need them. I also require a written agenda for any kind of meeting I’m expected to contribute to. Admittedly, these accommodations are all easier to get if your job is remote, but many onsite workplaces can also make these accommodations without a formal process.

    6. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

      Here to say much the same as Higher Ed Administa, E, Snowglobe, and Surewhynot.

      I don’t have an autism diagnosis (I do have other neurodivergent diagnoses with autism-similar features, that make similar accommodations useful). I’ve never had to pursue formal accommodations, because most of the most-helpful adaptations for me are things that don’t need a diagnosis to explain them or a formal process to obtain them. They’re not weird or big asks for any environment where I would actually want to work.

      When job-hunting, I’ve found the organization’s (and employees I’d have to work closely with/report to) approach to diversity and flexibility in general, to be a good predictor of how they’ll respond to my requests in specific. Things I have investigated in the interview stage that are not about my diagnoses but give me information about how hard it might be to get accommodations include: dress code, flex hours and remote work, culture fit, employee diversity, the physical/sensory workspace, employee/client health and safety– Covid is a good proxy for this lately. Most of these things I both assess for myself by looking/listening around the workplace during interviews, and asking about. Where there is a discrepancy between what I observe and what I’m told, or where the answer is vague, evasive, or unwilling, I consider that a yellow flag or points against.

  17. Biff Chippington*

    I’m working remotely (in a different state than my employer) and have decided that for various reasons, I need to rent a small office space to work out of. I’m trying to think of questions to ask about potential spaces (so far what makes most sense for my needs is an office in a downtown large office buildings)- so far my questions are about:
    -Temperature controls
    -What can I plug in?
    -Internet availability

    What else?

      1. Rosemary*

        YES. We looked at an office space that felt like MILES from the bathroom. Another office we had only had one single stall bathroom per floor, for approx 30 people per floor. Definitely consider the bathrooms!

        Also – access to drinking water and kitchen/fridge, if that matters to you.

      2. Texan In Exile*

        That was the first thing that came to my mind and then I thought “But I’m weird” and now I’m so glad to know that I’m not!

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Lease terms. Many spaces require long lease terms– are you willing to commit to 12 months, or would you prefer a shorter term?

      I would also ask if they have printing capabilities if you need them, and whether you would have access to a break room with water, coffee (if you drink it), a fridge, etc.

    2. Web Crawler*

      I’m spitballing here because I’m not sure what small office spaces include. With that being said:

      Noise? Restrooms? Who’s responsible for which kinds of cleaning/maitnence?

    3. Warrior Princess Xena*

      What is their furniture setup like? Do they have standard desks/desk chair or do you bring your own? If the former, have you had a chance to sit in it and get an idea if you want to be there for 8 hours?

      Does your work have a VPN for you to use on a public internet, or does it make sense to talk to them about it (not sure if VPNs are much used in your line of work but if you’re on a public network it might be time to look at one).

      You’ve mentioned parking – what will your commute look like?

      What’s their kitchen setup? Is there one? If so, is it a paid cafeteria sort of place? Or will you be brown bagging/buying lunch?

      Noise – have you had a chance to be in there during business hours? What’s the activity level like? Is it a ‘headphones encouraged’ sort of space, or people just kind of keep it to a dull roar?

      That’s all I can think of off the top of my head!

      1. Biff Chippington*

        My commute will be short- I am close to downtown anyway, but since I work 3 hours behind my home office, I start early in the morning and will miss ALLLLL the traffic!

        However, that brings up a new question- building access and any time restrictions… thanks for all the thoughts so far, this is hugely helpful!

    4. NoHRhere*

      I would ask about phone lines, arrangements for incoming post, utilities (are they included in rent or billed separately, if so how), consider what insurance you require for the premises, access arrangements for yourself and visitors ( i.e. is there a communal reception or security desk for visitors, will you have keys or key codes/fobs, what hours can you be present). Just a few thoughts.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        H9w and where packages are received is HUGE. Do they all have to go through some main reception? Can drivers be buzzed in or do you have to meet them at the door?

    5. meieio*

      Insurance coverage: what does the lease cover as far as property and personal injury, and if let’s say your employer’s property (i.e. your laptop or etc) is damaged on that site, who is responsible?

    6. Antilles*

      So here’s a few potential things I thought of, though not all of these might matter to your role or your preferences
      -Availability of meeting spaces on site if you’re in a role where this might matter (e.g., meeting with clients)
      -Time limitations on access? If you have to stay late/work early, is that totally your discretion?
      -Safety, both in terms of the location and in-building
      -How much flexibility in setting up your work space?
      -Does furniture come included with the rental fee? If so, what do you get? If not, will they help you move in/out or do you need to budget the $100 or whatever for movers?
      -Are utilities a locked-in number already included in the monthly rent or are they subject to change?
      -How do other people in the space interact?

    7. Hillary*

      Security/access control and privacy.

      – Is access controlled with key cards (best)? code locks (ok)? physical keys (not great)?
      – Who will have access to your space and under what circumstances?
      – If you work with confidential information, how can you protect it? For instance, if you were a therapist, you might want to include provisions in your lease that your landlord cannot access your records per HIPAA.

      Some companies also want IT to review internet security if you’re going to be using a public/semi-public acces point long-term. Landlords don’t necessarily know much about IT security.

    8. Rosemary*

      If it is available in your area, what about co-working space (like WeWork)? Most have private offices, but you can rent month to month, and they have amenities like printing, conference rooms, kitchens, etc. Much more flexible than signing a longer-term lease on an office.

    9. J*

      Cleaning, trash, usage of common spaces, access for guests, restrooms, storage, lease terms on notice and term, insurance requirements, ability to change/upgrade/downgrade the space to another one, access times/days (especially outside of traditional business hours), furniture offered (or if none, any rules about moving it in – I commonly saw weekend moves only but then the same places would sometimes deny weekend access!), safety info, also perks that they offer to tenants (on site catering, snacks, coffee, dry cleaning, car washing and detailing) and what’s included versus just made accessible for a fee.

      As an example, I leased an office in a building that had a coworking space on a different level. The coworking crew had bathrooms some of us other leased tenants couldn’t use but they could use ours. My space had to provide its own fire extinguishers but the coworking space provided them for their guests. We all shared the same parking lot and I could lease their large conference room for events but not their small conference rooms. My business offered me 24 hours access to my suite and so did their occupants…if they were on the all access coworking term (which generally entitled them to do more than deskshare). I know some coworking renters would get kicked out of their preferred space if a better offer came along, so they’d get moved from snack hall to weird dark hall without even a conference room in it, sure it was cheaper but they didn’t like it.

    10. goddessoftransitory*

      If it’s a shared space ask about privacy and security for your work, especially if it’s stuff you aren’t planning to take home every night. Is there a lockable space for storage if you don’t have a private space with a locking door? Who has keys/access to the space generally?

    11. Once too often*

      Thermostats – would you have any control of temps (warm or cool)?

      Dress code expectations? Do they care?

      Food in the office ok? (How often is trash collected?)

      Appliances? (Eg Toaster oven, hot water pot, mini fridge; space heater, printer?)

      What are the primary hours for other tenants? If you’re in early/late/weekends would others be in the bldg? What is security like?

  18. Expert Paper Pusher*

    I applied for two very related jobs at the same company, each with a slightly different focus related to my experience. (In my current position the two are combined into one role.) One is a slightly higher pay grade but also has some tasks I’m less excited about. The hiring manager expressed interest in interviewing me for both. Is there a way to express a preference for one job without taking myself out of the running for the other? It’s a great company, and both jobs would interest me.

    1. EMP*

      “I think Llama groomer would be the best fit for me in terms of day to day tasks and experience but I’m definitely also interested in the Llama tamer position”

      1. MsM*

        Similarly, “I’m interested in both, but I’m particularly excited by the opportunity Preferred Role presents to do X, Y, and Z.” You never know; they might be able to shuffle some stuff around even if you end up in the other role.

        1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

          > You never know; they might be able to shuffle some stuff around even if you end up in the other role.

          Or combine the workload of the two roles into one and never hire for the other one….

    2. OtterB*

      Do you have to make a choice before the interview? It seems like you would benefit from more information, e.g. the higher-level job might include either more or less of your non preferred tasks than the job description sounded like.

  19. Meep*

    I’ve noticed that I am a stress snacker and a bored eater. It doesn’t help that the office is always supplied with dark chocolate.

    So what is your favorite healthy snack you keep around the office? And what is your “its been a long day” snack?

    Mine is humus and carrots and Reese’s Fast Breaks respectfully.

    1. ProfessionalAxolotl*

      As a fellow dark chocolate liker, I’ve had a bit of success with grapes (naturally snack-shaped!) and somehow pineapple? My company does provide pre-cut fruits as snacks, so that helps.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      It’s been a long day snack: anything crunchy (when I get home, of course). Chips and baby carrots are my usual go-tos because the crunch is so satisfying.

      At the office, I mostly chew gum in the place of snacking.

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      I started switching to having fidget toys that I use when I get the bored snack urge. If possible getting up and taking a lap around the office too. For me at least it seems like the bored snack urge is my brain wanting some stimulation or a change.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        I like the ideas of fidget toys and will have to try that. I’m eating far too much!

        1. Smith Masterson*

          Would you be willing to walk ’round the block? I don’t know if you have a butt-in-seat job, but for me, some exercise helps with boredom and mental blocks.

    4. Well...*

      I have chocolate for late afternoon, “I need a pick-me-up” snack. I use greek yogurt and, to a lesser extent almonds, for my, “I basically need to eat a meal but don’t have time” snack. Then I use tea for my, “I need to be comforted, show myself love, and have something in my hands” snack. I use tea biscuits for, “I need sugar in my brain right now in order for it to function.”

      My “it’s been a long day” move isn’t really a snack, it’s to try and grab beers with a coworker and/or friend after work.

      Many of these snacks can be switched around for the purposes of the others, and happy snacking everyone!

    5. Lady_Lessa*

      I get sunflower kernels from Aldi’s and mix the salted and unsalted. I find that I am inclined to eat less of the salted alone, but find them a bit too much salt.

    6. Peanut Butter Jelly Time (Literally)*

      I used to try to eat a lot of fruits and veggies with the occasional mini-chocolate bar as work snacks. I still eat the fruit, but it seems that, for me, one of my mid-40s perimenopause symptoms is recent sudden dizzy spells and blood sugar drops (not diabetic), so my doctor recommended greatly stepping up my protein game. People, especially AFAB’s, tend to need much more protein as they age and/or go through menopause.

      Now I eat a salted hard-boiled egg every morning at work and try to also eat things with almonds in them. Though not too many nuts, since those can contribute to kidney stones, and I don’t always get a chance to properly hydrate duing working hours. *Sigh* Why is getting older. Greek yogurt or cottage cheese with fruit and almonds is great for my protein quest, and easy to eat at the desk, as well.

      (For lunch, I’ve got a three-protein poke bowl with brown rice coming!)

      1. Peanut Butter Jelly Time (Literally)*

        And yes, in accordance with my name, I’ve stepped up my peanut butter jelly sandwich intake. :)

    7. DrSalty*

      I am a huge boredom snacker. My healthy snacks are fruit or herbal teas (especially when it’s cold) and baby carrots, or fruit. The tea is great because it gives you something to do for a few minutes when you get up and make it. A nice distraction when you need it.

    8. Lana Kane*

      Healthy – Fruit and cheese – like some cheddar and an apple, or grapes and a Baby Bel. Or any combo thereof, it’s all good!

      It’s been a long day – don’t laugh, but there’s something about chocolate pudding that just instantly relaxes me. The combination of the flavor and texture maybe? (ok, go ahead and laugh)

    9. Minimal Pear*

      I’m trying to eat more veggies and I’ve been loving mini cucumbers as a morning snack.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        Same here! I pick up the big bag at Sam’s Club and just love them.

        Now if only I could find a way to keep them from going bad before I eat them all!

    10. Nicki Name*

      Golden raisins– infinitely better than regular raisins but still a healthy fruit snack.

    11. HonorBox*

      I’ve found that keeping those treats outside of my actual office/desk area helps. Sometimes it can be a reflex to grab a stress snack and I’ve found that when I actually have to get up and walk to the snack (be that in the kitchen area or the candy bowl at the very front of the office) I can be dissuaded. I have found that having a fun tea in the morning in my large Yeti cup can keep me from snacking throughout the morning, too.

      Healthy snack: caramel rice cakes. Long day snack: Doritos.

    12. germank106*

      Frozen grapes if I want something sweet or slices of apple or pear with a pinch of salt when I want something savory.

    13. Rex Libris*

      I go with sugar free gum, and various Quest Protein snacks for emergency chip or cookie cravings.

    14. J*

      For boredom, it’s hot tea and jolly ranchers. (not together)

      For stress, it’s salami and cheese and sometimes crackers, pudding cups, protein shakes and bars. If I’m actually smart, I’d pack my lunchbox with daily snacks (a chia pudding with a seasonal fruit and almonds + chocolate is my obsession, especially during blood orange season) but really I relied on the salami and pudding way too often because that’s who I am and as office manager I had my own fridge drawer.

    15. Tio*

      I like nuts, for the high protein, and also sometimes cheerios. For long days, usually goldfish crackers or Cheez-its.

    16. Gyne*

      Honestly, lately I’ve been drinking a lot of teas. Especially given the snacking is not for hunger/nutrition, herbal tea works well to give me something to do and sip. I bought a bunch of different fancy teas for Dry January to replace my nighttime glass of wine and am finding I still enjoy brewing and drinking tea.

  20. Lyngend (Canada)*

    Update on a previous Friday, where I asked if I was being reasonable wanting to request a second monitor.
    My request was granted, and not just for me, but my entire section.

    1. Shandra*

      Great! A past employer eventually gave us staff two monitors, but they were doing an equipment upgrade so it was no extra effort or expense for them.

      In our single-monitor era, I once asked IT if I could borrow a second one long enough to complete a specific project. They had to say no, because the management would have reacted as if they were showing me the firm’s executive bonus list for the year.

  21. Yes I'm trying to leave lol*

    Has anyone dealt with with a situation where you are held to a higher standard then poor performing employees? I’m realizing that bad bosses are more likely to micromanage good employees while letting bad employees do whatever they want. I’ve actually talked to my boss about it, and he won’t do anything about correcting the bad behavior. Clearly he’s fine with that behavior (from his team and other coworkers), but yet, he expects me to respond to everything ASAP and finish everything super quick. I’m tired of it. I’ve read some past letters here, one mentioned “I told him he can do what he wants including doing nothing but don’t ever think he’s going to hold me to a higher standard than he’s holding the current employee to.” The past few days I’ve been slower to respond to his emails (which he wants a response on ASAP, but aren’t urgent at all).

    This has happened like twice to me, and before I’ve always been the obedient worker who does what the boss says.

    1. martymcf*

      So if he’s not doing anything to those other people, it seems likely he won’t do anything to you either if you stop working at the capacity you currently are, and put in the same amount of work as they do.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      It’s difficult to avoid comparisons and questions of fairness when a manager is poor at disciplining slackers, but I think you do have to concentrate on your own lane here in order to get really clear about your next steps. Do the slacker employees slow you down or impact your work? Is it really unreasonable micromanagement or just a high standard? Would the standard be unreasonable if everyone were held to it? The reason I ask is because if every slacker quit tomorrow and were replaced with a conscientious employee then would you still have a terrible boss with unreasonable standards? If you ignored the slackers and just concentrated on your own work would it be possible to emerge from this job with a good reputation and a great reference? Or is it more team work based where they drag you down and you’d thrive better somewhere else where people teach each other and get noticeable successes? I think the danger in this sort of situation is to get really tempted to stop trying and live down to the standards of the slackers, knowing your boss is too toothless to do anything. If your morale is that tanked then you might want to look outside the company.

    3. Who,Me?*

      I have mentioned to my manager that I observe he is getting the results that he rewards. The people who used to do extra are cutting back to the minimum to get through the shift, walking out when the shift is over, whether relief has arrived or not.

      After all, the ones who come in late and leave early are the ones getting rewarded. Including getting paid for time they aren’t even present.

    4. Alternative Person*


      I hated it a lot because I always got saddled with the emotional labour, the difficult clients or the BS schedule.

      There’s not really a lot you can do except manage your workload/boundaries accordingly and (eventually) move on. Being slower to reply to e-mails is a good start. But yeah, it super sucks because it sounds like you want to do a good reasonable job and take inches, not miles and it sucks that both your boss and co-workers are not doing their fair share.

  22. 34avemovieguy*

    I was supposed to have a job interview today on Zoom and when they asked for my availability I gave them a lot of times this past week and next. They scheduled me for 3pm today. The wrinkle is that I am traveling for a wedding but one of the blocks of time I gave was 4 hours after I was supposed to land (plenty of time to land, get to my location, and find a spot to do the call). Well, best laid plans etc because my flight was delayed for a few hours! I emailed them explaining and waited for a reply, constantly checking my email. Spent the last few hours stress-imagining scenarios where they don’t see the email, I “miss” my appointment, and get taken out of candidacy. Thankfully they replied and gave me a new time. But lesson learned in not trusting flights to take off and land as scheduled! Especially for a role I want and a company I want to work for!

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Hindsight is 20/20, but for next time, I would recommend not scheduling on a travel day at all. It’s ok to be unavailable! Most companies understand and if they don’t, well, they’re generally unreasonable.

      1. Antilles*

        Agreed. Especially if you’re already giving them “a lot of times over the past week and next”.
        If you’re really tight on availability, then maybe you have to suggest a travel day or where it’s awkward for you. But if you’re already offering up plenty of other options, it’s absolutely fine to have certain days where you’re totally out; every reasonable company will understand that.

        1. 34avemovieguy*

          thank you! I agree. this is classic me being excited, naive, and trying to make everything work!

      2. 34avemovieguy*

        Oh absolutely! Will avoid this in the future. I am just really excited and perhaps naively thought it would work out. Thankfully it did, but for sure will be more aware of all contingencies.

    2. Well...*

      I totally do this too. I am optimistic about my availability for meetings, one thing goes wrong, and a cascade ripples out and I have to start sending emails and rescheduling. Many of my meetings involve multiple time zones on multiple continents, so I try to be as open as possible to avoid people having to meet at awkward times, but sometimes it can be easier for everyone when you are conservative about your availability.

  23. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    I’m taking a vacation! but I’m working today, the first day of my vacation. I’m pretty worried everything will be a disaster after I turn my phone off .. how do the rest of you take a vacation? I can already see the pile of work I’ll have ready for me…

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Where are you vacationing? Who are you vacationing with? Do you have any fun activities planned? Not questions for you to answer here, just questions to help you refocus on your vacation, instead of on work.

      I’m pretty worried everything will be a disaster after I turn my phone off

      Something that helps me if I’m focusing on “this will be a disaster” is having something to tell myself when those thoughts bubble up. Do you have a competent manager/coworker? If so, a great response to thoughts of “disaster!” is “[competent person] will step in if anything goes wrong. I am enjoying my vacation.”

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        I’ll just say ‘ I’m enjoying my vacation ‘ as there’s nobody to really step in besides the very bare minimum

        1. WantonSeedStitch*

          Remind yourself that actually unplugging and resting will help prevent burnout and will ensure you’re better equipped to deal with anything that’s on your plate when you return.

    2. londonedit*

      In my industry/job, it mainly works because colleagues help to cover for each other. I try to get as much done before my holiday as possible, I warn the relevant people if there are things that will have to wait until I get back (and we plan for that between us) and then if there are a few things that can’t wait, I brief one of my colleagues to handle them in my absence (those will be things like ‘OK, first proofs for this book are due in on the 5th and we don’t have time in the schedule for them to wait until I’m back – I’ve lined up a proofreader and briefed them, here’s their email address, and I’ve told the author to expect them and given a deadline of the 15th, here’s their email address. Would you mind just emailing the proofs over to them when they come in?’). And then when my colleagues are on holiday I’ll do the same. Of course there is still work to get through when you get back, but people are understanding of the fact that everyone takes holiday from time to time (where I live/work it’s common for people to take a two-week holiday at some point in the year).

      It may be very different in your industry, but I hope you can try to switch off and enjoy your break!

      1. NoHRhere*

        I break up for Easter today for 2 weeks. I have emailed my coworker a list of things to do and cc’d by boss in. I emailed the boss separately and reminded him of 2 things I need him to do while I am off. My out of office is on with directions to other staff for help. My boss can access my emails in my absence. Other than that I have had to remind myself I have done what I can. I shouldn’t care more than the boss does. The ball is in his court now.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      With the caveat that this is an unpopular choice on this site — I personally am way less stressed on my return to work if I check my email in the evenings while I’m on vacation than if I don’t. That way I know what’s going on, at least at a high level, and if I do need to provide input I can do. But it’s a “fifteen minutes a day” kind of thing, and otherwise my work phone is on airplane mode the whole time. (I’m salaried and I’m doing it of my own free will, nobody pesters me outside of sending me emails that I can get to at my convenience.)

      1. Well That's Fantastic*

        I’m the same way. Filtering or triaging a few emails while I’m waiting for something keeps my stress level in check. Ideally, it lets me know, “Okay, no urgent fires,” but even when there is a major issue, I try to frame it as, “Okay, now I’m not walking back in clueless on my first day back” instead of Panic Mode.

      2. CTT*

        Hard same. A once-a-day triage of email is so helpful to me. People know to text me if they truly need to get in touch with me on vacation, so I’m pretty free to just move things into folders without reading it so everything for each project is in one place when I get back. I also get a lot of mass emails that I don’t need to look at (daily menu for the restaurant in my building, people seeking recommendations for counsel in another state, firm newsletters, etc.) and there is something very satisfying about mass deleting those while I’m standing in line for a museum or similar.

    4. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I have piles of work for me, and I have yesterday and today off. I haven’t turned on the laptop at all, and I won’t. I’ll come back on Monday to a fun inbox and the world will not end.

      If things are a disaster, then your employer needs more staff. As for you, Stuckinacrazyjob, turn off the computer/stop working. You’re on vacation. Take a nap, go for a hike, clean the cat’s box. Do not work.

    5. Llama Llama*

      I try to distribute what I can beforehand but I go with the knowledge that there will be fires when I come back, take a deep breath and accept it.

  24. The Crowening*

    I wanted to thank everyone who talked me down from the ledge recently when I was stressed about my young-adult kiddo not going to college, etc. Not long after I posted, we had dinner with grandparents and one of them brought this up, and she started to get upset – and instead of letting it go, the grandparent, honestly trying to dig a little deeper in an effort to talk through it, just wouldn’t let it go. In the process of defending her right to just work and not be in college right now, I realized I have been seeing her as My-Kid-Who-Is-Not-In-College and that’s really unfair to her. Yeah, I worry about how she will be able to afford insurance and independence one day. But that doesn’t have to be “fixed” right now, and it’s not up to me at all.

    1. The New Wanderer*

      That sounds like a really important change in mindset, which is great! I’ve been close to three family situations where the high school grad either didn’t immediately go to college or tried it and left after a semester. It was a hard mental adjustment for the parents (in all cases, college grads themselves and in the education field), but it’s been working out okay for the kids even if they are living at home for a few years longer than their peers.

    2. funkytown*

      (love your username!) This might not be the most reassuring I suppose, but a college degree is by no means a guarantee of affording insurance and independence anyway. It’s hard to see the young adults you love making choices you wouldn’t but the future isn’t set in stone, and it’s never too late for her to pick new paths in life, wherever her current one takes her. It’s going to be okay! I’m glad you defended her, and I hope your mindset shift will lead to more peace for you and for your relationship. Best wishes to you!

    3. Observer*

      . Yeah, I worry about how she will be able to afford insurance and independence one day. But that doesn’t have to be “fixed” right now, and it’s not up to me at all.

      It’s also worth noting that the “trades”, which don’t require college, can pay VERY well.

      I was just listening to a news piece on the need for electricians. Apparently a good electrician can make in the range of $120K. I’m pretty sure the folks talking were not in a very high COL area, either. That’s a living.

      1. Insurance*

        My stepson is an electrician. He makes more per hour than his father and I combined! His wife has her CDL and is currently driving a tri-axle (dump truck). One more raise and she’ll be in the same boat. I have a master’s degree.
        Which is a long way of saying “What Observer said!”

    4. M.*

      I missed the earlier post or comment, but this sounds like a big break-through! Honestly, college is not for everyone. My husband went to college, but didn’t finish, opting instead to go to night school to get his license in one of the trades. He has no regrets, and truthfully, his salary and benefits rival mine (and I did go to traditional college).

  25. Other Alice*

    Fairly low stakes question, I hope. We some time ago had our quarterly review and employee survey. The director shared the results of the survey for our small satellite office of 12 people. Satisfaction was high (the job is good) but “trust in peers” was like 0.1% lower than company average. The director jumped on that to say he thought remote working was at fault, and highlighted that in answer to whether the current remote schedule works well, someone replied “everyone should go into the office at least once a week”. It’s well known that the director and one of the senior managers are the ones gunning for a return to in person work. To get to that single comment we saw him scroll past a few other comments that all said we’re happy with the current remote arrangement. The director pointed out that this arrangement might be changing in the near future. I’m hoping not, since they’ve been talking like that for the past two years, but who knows. I wouldn’t even be the worse impacted by a return to the office (some people have a 2 hour commute!), but I think it’s a waste of time since all of my work is remote calls with customers anyway.

    So… Would it be unethical to game the system and rank everything a 10 on the next survey, to keep our numbers good? We’ve all told the director we’re happy to stay remote but I don’t think he’s getting the message that people would be very unhappy to go back to the office. I know we should just band together and tell him (we might if they change the remote policy) but I’m having some other issues right now and wouldn’t want a confrontation.

    1. danmei kid*

      It sounds like they want RTW no matter what so it would likely be a waste of your time. They will just find another reason.

    2. Isben Takes Tea*

      I’d argue you’re not ethically bound to provide honest or thorough data in an employer mandated opinion survey, especially if you don’t think they’ll use it to your benefit.

      But more importantly, I don’t think ethics really come into it: management has already proven that they’ll see what they want in the data. Are they any less likely to say, “Everyone’s happy, so let’s all be happy together in the office!”? It may be worth a shot, but it looks like you’ll be suffering from management’s confirmation bias either way

    3. Snacattack*

      While I agree with other commenters, that they probably have made up their minds, but I don’t see any at the whole problem in what you’re doing. Look at it this way: you are indeed trusting each other very well if you all agree to give a 10 to how well you trust each other. I’d go for it.

  26. new year, new name*

    I’m sure this question has been asked and answered here a whole bunch of times, but…

    For those of you who have been through a breakup/divorce that involved a lot of logistics (getting your house ready to sell, lawyers appointments, moving, etc.), did you take a chunk of time off of work to deal with that (and/or with the emotional fallout)? If so, did you just take vacation time or did you take some sort of leave of absence? I don’t have enough hours in the day, I am struggling to stay on top of my work, and don’t want to burn through my team’s accumulated goodwill or seem like a slacker. But at the same time I feel like plenty of people deal with this stuff while employed, and asking for time off would look unprofessional.

    I’m going to have to fill in my boss and team regardless; we have the sort of friendly relationships where we know the general outlines of each other’s personal lives and I know they would want to be supportive. But I don’t want to look like I’m not competent enough to handle my personal life in my off hours. Any advice?

    1. just another queer reader*

      For a much smaller life situation, I took a number of PTO days over the course of a few months. I don’t think I mentioned a reason at the time, but if asked, I would just say I had an appointment.

      Either way you do it, good on you for taking the time to deal with this. It sounds like it’s a particularly difficult and stressful time right now, and any reasonable person will understand.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      If you’ve got the PTO, use it. You don’t have to say why unless you want to. Also you can imply moving without getting divorced if you want to get opinions on movers etc from coworkers without diving into “I’m moving but partner is not”.

      With sad news, coworkers often don’t know how to respond, and they’ll be looking for cues from you as to how you want to handle it. So whatever tone you put into it they’ll likely respect. (Divorce celebration parties are apparently a thing sometimes now).

      I regret not using PTO after a really bad breakup, I absolutely ruined a presentation I had the following day, and my productivity was awful. Taking the day to recover a little would have been wiser (at the time I didn’t want to seem like I was skipping presentation, but would have been better to do that than fail in the end).

      Be kind to yourself. Do things you enjoy. They’ll be easier days and harder days, and the harder days don’t mean the good days don’t exist. Be patient.

    3. DottedZebra*

      You really don’t have to explain to anyone why you’re taking time off.


      Nope. You don’t owe anyone an explanation.

      1. new year, new name*

        Sorry, I don’t think I explained my question well – my immediate team (approx. three people) will be in the loop regardless, which is my preference. If I’m taking time off, they’ll generally know why, and that’s fine.

        What I’m wondering about is whether I should take the time off at all and, if so, if I should just use up all my vacation time or try to make the case to use sick time (?) or some kind of leave of absence. I’m thinking about a chunk of a few weeks rather than just a couple hours here or there for specific things.

        1. DottedZebra*

          If you’ve been there for a while, I would make the case for an unpaid leave of absence. It sounds like you’re going to need actual vacation at some point later this year, and it would be better to save that.

          But no matter what the time off is called, it sounds like you need it just based on the fact that you’re asking. Don’t worry what other people have done. Take care of yourself the way that works best for you.

        2. JessicaTate*

          Take the time off, for sure. Whether it’s vacation or asking for a leave of absence, I think that’s what is your preference — Do you have enough vacation time to cover it? Do you expect to have need of that vacation time for something else later? If I were your boss, and you asked for the unpaid leave first, I’d be suggesting about using up your vacation first or that you had a plan for that later — because I want you to get paid!

          As for sick days, when I went through a massive break-up (we weren’t married, but damn close), I took a couple of sick days after really big, emotional pieces — like the last big fallout / move out. I framed it in my head as, “I’m too wrecked from the day before to possibly function at work.” I didn’t try to negotiate it with my boss in advance, I just waited until it happened and called out in the morning as “not feeling well today, ” which was true. But that only worked for the odd day here and there, not for big chunks of time.

          For the bigger, logistical chunks — I would think about it like when you are managing the estate after a family member dies. There’s stuff you have to deal with, more than normal life, and you might need to take time off to do it. It doesn’t make you a slacker! These are big life things, and stuff needs to be done that can just eat up an entire day. Take the vacation time. And as a coworker, I would say that formally taking the time off (paid or not) breeds less resentment than the alternative… you “working” but not actually getting work done because you’re really doing other things.

    4. PCRM*

      There’s a reason divorce is ranked in the same stress level as a death in the family, major job change, etc. It isn’t a measure of success or failure or competency to have to deal with a MAJR PSYCHOLOGICAL STRESSOR on top of everything else. You feel like plenty of people deal with this stuff fine, but you really have no idea. You only see the outside or whatever limited access they give you. Take time off when you need it “to deal with some personal matters”.

    5. kiki*

      I regret not taking time off more immediately after a serious break-up or at very least talking to my manager about reducing my capacity. I tried to power through, thinking I didn’t want to be seen as someone who couldn’t “hang” but ended up absolutely floundering and taking a month off unpaid later. If you can take a leave of absence, absolutely do it. I think it’s way better for your reputation and mental health to just take the time, especially if you think you’ll need it.

    6. Cyndi*

      I took a week off just for moving apartments last year; I don’t think I could have handled it otherwise. And you’re dealing with something exponentially more complicated and painful. You’re absolutely justified in taking leave for this and it sounds to me like your team wouldn’t think less of you at all!

      Also, taking leave so that your workload can be properly redistributed IS staying on top of your work! I get that it might feel especially important right now to feel like you can catch everything up yourself, but it really is the wise and responsible thing to your job and yourself to acknowledge you’re struggling right now, and plan accordingly.

    7. Gender Menace*

      Honestly, I took NO time off work during my divorce and temporary unhoused-ness, and I regret that to this day. Like, I literally walked straight from the courthouse to my store, and thought I was doing the right thing by throwing myself into my job as a distraction. My (awful) boss encouraged it, too. But I ended up not really able to work to the best of my ability because I was constantly remembering I needed to call this bank or file a piece of paperwork or call a landlord.

      Take personal time. Take a weekend away, if you can. Give yourself space to grieve and deal with the logistical stuff. It’s a huge life change, and people will understand.

    8. Ellis Bell*

      The sooner you take leave in a divorce situation the better. If you wait until you’re on your knees then you’ll never catch up on the burn out. In my experience, the process itself involves fairly intensive bursts followed by long periods of inactivity, so the leave should be structured for when you most need it, or even swapping days off can be enough sometimes. If you try to work through bad patches you’ll just do bad work. The emotional stuff is a bit like a roller coaster: you’ll be despairing, then really surprised at how great you’re doing, then back to a low point etc. Self care in general is immensely important you need to really throw yourself into being great to yourself, doing the work of grieving, doing plan New Life while not expecting much of yourself. If you can streamline the amount of time you spend talking about the divorce (a really great lawyer will spam filter only necessary communication) that will also save your mental reserves.

    9. Observer*

      If you have the PTO use it. Reasonable people won’t see you as “incompetent”, just stressed and using your PTO to deal with the stress.

      Divorce is stressful and time consuming. Moving, even MORE time consuming and in the short term also extremely stressful. Put them together? It doesn’t take a genius to understand how hard it is to get through it all.

    10. Generic Name*

      Looking back, I have no idea how I did it, but I was going through a divorce during a very busy time at work. I was doing a ton of fieldwork at the time due to a huge project. Two things worked in my favor, I hired a lawyer who did most of the heavy lifting, and I did the financial document gathering on the evenings and weekends. Frankly, the weeks my son was with my dad were ideal for doing most of the work, as I had a ton of free time when I wasn’t busy with parenting. I did tell a few select coworkers and my boss what was going on.

  27. Anonymous Me*

    Is it reasonable to ask people at work not to share your pregnancy news, say, between 12-20 weeks? Based on previous experience, I will not be able to keep it quiet from people I work with in person much beyond 12 weeks – there would be an obvious elephant in the womb, so to speak. But if I had a body type/pregnancy style where it was less obvious to everyone who looks at me, I would happily keep it to myself until more like 20 weeks – pregnancy is nerve-wracking for me and I am hyper-aware of all the ways that things can go wrong, and feel like I’m just gritting my teeth/faking it through congratulations and pregnancy small talk. And to some extent, I don’t think that can be avoided.

    But in addition to the people I work with in person, there are many people who I work with primarily or exclusively remotely, who I would not have any work or physical reason to tell sooner than it takes to plan for maternity leave – except that I’d have to enlist my boss and other colleagues in what feels like a conspiracy to keep it quiet so it doesn’t come up in conversation. When I put it in writing, it feels like that would be totally out of line. Is that accurate?

    1. Secrets secrets*

      Nah, it’s your body + your health information. It’s totally reasonable to say something like “please don’t make my pregnancy a topic of conversation, even with [the remote people]. I want to keep this private until I’m ready to make an announcement. Thanks for understanding!” directly to your boss.

      If your boss is the only one who knows, that’ll be easier. Once word gets around to the whole office, I don’t think you’ll really be able to control it as much.

    2. ErinB*

      I think it’s totally reasonable – probably because I did something similar. I told my immediate team and asked them not to share it more widely. No one seemed at all concerned by that request and, in fact, at least one of my more senior teammates thought that was wise so that I didn’t miss out on good opportunities over concerns about leave/staffing/etc.

      1. ErinB*

        That last sentence was confusing, so I’ll clarify that we started making plans several months in advance for staffing/covering my parental leave. The concern was that others might choose not to staff someone who is pregnant on even more short term projects that would not be at all impacted by their leave – essentially making them an underutilized lame duck for the entirety of the pregnancy.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Completely reasonable to tell people for whom it is obvious and also ask them not to broadcast it. It can be the kind of topic that sucks all the air out of the room, and you don’t want to make small talk about it for however many months.

    4. Xyz*

      You can ask but outside your boss/ HR you don’t get to be upset if your other coworkers tell other people. It’s not their job to keep your secrets/ remember who you have told and haven’t told. General rule of thumb is if you don’t want news shared around, don’t share it.

  28. Secrets secrets*

    I have a secret! I’m six weeks pregnant!! I’m very excited but I already had to take a day off due to “morning” sickness. We have a very generous sick leave policy so I’m not worried about not being about to take time off when needed, but I have a very small team. How do I get over the guilt about leaving them in the lurch? I haven’t told them yet. I don’t want them to subconsciously build up resentment.

    1. rayray*


      I’d try not to sweat it too much. You can let people know when you’re ready too. Anyone who resents another human being for getting sick occasionally really sucks. I know that may not help how you feel, but just remember that your PTO is part of your overall compensation package and you are fully entitled to use it as needed/desired.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Is some/all of your guilt because you feel like this is something you chose? If so, try to reframe this as “I have a medical condition right now, and I need to take sick time to manage it,” just as you would if you had a non-pregnancy related medical condition that occasionally flared up and you needed time off for that.

      If it’s more guilt around coworkers picking up some of your work when you’re sick, remind yourself that your coworkers would rather do a bit more work and have you being sick at home, then doing their normal work and listening to you vomit in the cubicle next to them! And if you feel like a bit of an explanation would help head off resentment, you could tell your coworkers something along the lines of “I’ve been taking sick time because of a flare-up of a medical condition. Should be temporary and I’m working with my doctor to get it under control.”

    3. Binky*


      As for the guilt, would you be mad at one of your colleagues if they had to take time off for a medical condition? Assume that they will have the same compassion towards you as you have for them. And you can always advocate for a temp if that’s workable at your job.

    4. MsM*

      Eh, it’s March. We’ve got people calling out with colds and dealing with daycare crud all over the place. If anything, see this as an opportunity to normalize that things being busy doesn’t mean you should neglect your health/important life events, so they feel secure in knowing they’ll be supported if they need to take off for extended periods, too.

    5. DrSalty*


      For taking time off and guilt, I always like to think of work coverage as something you pay forward. When my coworkers are out, I’m happy to cover for them, because I know they’ll cover for me when I’m out. We all take our time when we need it. You’re taking this time off now, but you’ll be feeling better someday, and you can pay it forward then to your coworker who needs a break.

    6. E*

      Congrats! Ditto to the above comments and also — this is good practice for starting to let go of some of your feeling of responsibility and accepting help during your parental leave! This has been hard for me as well, but as I’m approaching my due date it’s getting more real that at any point I can just be saddling my coworkers with all my half done work and there’s nothing I can do about it. Similar for you with the nausea! You’re just the vessel, and it’s ok to rely on others. Good luck and hope you feel better soon

    7. Always Bring Pickles to a Potluck*

      Congratulations! If it helps, morning sickness is covered by FMLA.

      I wound up having to disclose my pregnancy to my manager far earlier than I wanted to because I had hyperemesis gravidarum and would occasionally pass out due to dehydration. Someone had to know so paramedics could be informed. But because I did disclose so early, I got FMLA protections right away so I couldn’t be penalized for dashing out of meetings or being late because I had to pull over during my commute to throw up.

    8. HonorBox*


      I don’t think you should worry about any resentment. When you do tell them, they’re going to get it and I’d hope they’d be fully understanding. We’re given sick/PTO time as part of our compensation and no one should fault anyone for using it, even it does leave people in a bit of a lurch from time to time. I am going to go ahead an make an assumption, based on your concern… you’re probably a very kind and thoughtful coworker/employee so you’re probably not leaving everyone in as much of a lurch as you’re assuming you are. Your work is probably in a place that doesn’t force everyone to scramble.

    9. WantonSeedStitch*

      Congratulations, and best wishes for it to go smoothly and safely!

      I can honestly say that when I’ve had coworkers out on parental leave, I never felt any resentment. No more than when I had coworkers out for cancer treatment. Chances are your coworkers will feel happy and excited for you, even if they wish they had a lighter workload. One practical thing you can do is start NOW on preparing things for while you’re gone: make sure any files that your team might need access to are in a place where you can find them easily, and where you can share them. Make a list of all the tasks you do, and ask yourself: what can potentially just not be done while you’re gone? What’s highest, medium, and lowest priority among the rest? What could be split up among the rest of your team so no one person has to do all of it? Which people might be good choices for covering tasks that are really best done by one person? Are there projects where you could potentially step up the timeline and finish before you leave, instead of having to put on hold or give to someone else, if you are allowed to prioritize them? Have all of that ready for when you are going to talk to your manager about the pregnancy, to help them create a plan for your absence.

    10. JelloStapler*

      Congrats- I worried about the same thing since I was due in the middle of a busy period – twice. It’s your administration/leadership’s responsibility to figure out how to cover for your leave, if they don’t, it’s not your fault for being pregnant.

  29. Notalot*

    remember the LW who questioned whether it was legal for a church employer to require employees give 10% of their salaries back to the church?

    I noticed in my newsfeed this week that there is an active lawsuit against a Washington church for engaging in this practice.

  30. Ready to Quit*

    Does two weeks’ notice have to be two weeks from today? Or would it be acceptable to say on Monday, April 3, that my last day would be Friday, April 14. If it matters, this is a business that closes on the weekend, and in the years I’ve worked here, no one has ever been asked to work or complete any tasks on a weekend.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      It’s generally acceptable to give two weeks notice on Monday April 3 and have your last day be Friday April 14. My only advice is to try to give your notice on Monday morning instead of in the afternoon, if that’s possible.

        1. Anecdata*

          Yeah, 2 weeks where it’s notice Monday morning, last day Friday is very very normal, particularly when you work a standard mon-fri week

  31. Gosling*

    Are there any other mask wearers that are getting worn out by comments at work? I work in education, so I am around people almost constantly. While cases are declining in my state, I am still wearing my mask even though I am slowly starting to make decisions on when and where to wear it. My issue is the constant comments I get. Someone wanted to know if I had allergies and if that’s why I was wearing it. Yesterday, I took it off for a picture and got told in the bathroom afterwards that I had such a cute face. One day in a meeting, a coworker said I had a pretty mouth! The other day I was told I had nice teeth (Thanks! I brush.) While the pretty mouth thing was creepy, the rest are not meant maliciously. There are people personally offended by my mask; I live in a blood red state. It’s just annoying.

    1. just another queer reader*

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with this!

      Weirdly, I’ve only really gotten comments about my mask from people who are (somewhat) COVID cautious and/or semi well intentioned. It’s still annoying… but at least it’s not direct confrontation.

      I guess staying healthy is the best revenge…?

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      A light breezy tone if you can manage it really helps brush off people. They want a fight, they want to bother you. Not getting a rise out of you annoys them the most. Act oblivious to what the cute mouth comments are implying. It’s also hilarious to watch people try and walk back the smile compliment to get you to understand they’re insulting your mask, they get really flustered.

      If you think the coworker commenting is open to rational thought, you can mention upcoming travel your excited about and hoping to avoid getting sick for, you can mention elderly relatives with fragile health, or that this is the first year you haven’t had to use up all your sick days in one month, etc. It’s usually not worth it. And if you do it to one of the ones wanting a fight it just invites them to argue against your reasons….

      The guy who gave me the most grief for continuing to mask and “not just get getting covid over with, its just a flu like illness” in December, now 4 months after he got it still has brain fog issues and a lingering cough. He’s never apologized but he’s 100% no longer commenting on my mask. He had to have a brain scan this week just to confirm its only covid side effects and not something else…..

      1. Irish Teacher*

        As somebody who has thankfully managed to avoid flus all my life (I did get covid last December), I really don’t get this “why don’t you just risk getting covid? It’s a flu-like illness” since…most people do their best to avoid the flu and the flu is a serious illness. Plus, there’s no such thing as “getting covid over with.” I have a colleague who has had it three times now.

        But nobody I know would try and “get the flu over with.” People try to avoid that if they can. Heck, when I was a kid, our government and media would insist each year there was “no flu in Ireland” even when maybe 20% of the school would be out sick with it. I guess they were worried doctor’s surgeries would be crowded with people worried they had it? Or that people would stay home to avoid catching it? I dunno.

        I’m guessing some of the people who say this don’t know the difference between a cold and the flu and think “flu-like illness” means it’s like a cold, not that it’s like an illness that kills thousands of people each year worldwide.

    3. HigherEdAdminista*

      Yes! It is quite annoying. I’m luckily not getting constant comments, but it is exhausting to know that people are waiting for you to stop doing something that you feel is important. I’ve had people want to plan team lunches and feel like I’m holding them up by not wanting to go to a restaurant –even when I have said I accept totally being left out due to my different risk tolerance. Someone last week told me how strong I am for being able to tolerate the mask, and talked about how they threw theirs off the moment they weren’t forced to wear it. There is someone else planning a large meeting who has said more than once that they don’t care if people get COVID at the meeting.

      Meanwhile, we were all talking about the situation with a colleague from another area who contracted COVID and now is suffering from dementia –something he had no signs of before. Everyone says it is so sad, but then packs themselves into the next meeting, maskless.

      1. Empress Ki*

        So they don’t care if someone immuno-compromised (or their elderly relative etc…) will die ? Very nice.

    4. DawnShadow*

      I have gone with and without a mask at different times, and am currently wearing one whenever I work, go to grocery stores, etc. If the person commenting is someone I like and want to talk to, I might give some of my reasons in a pleasant voice (boyfriend and his mom have autoimmune disorders, narrowly missed getting COVID three times from coworkers last summer/fall which led to my wearing a mask every day again) but if it’s a customer who is looking for a fight or looking irritated or worried that I’m sick, I say in the blandest way possible “I just like wearing a mask.” And leave it there. I find that leaves people with nothing to say.

    5. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Realistically, deep down they know they’re wrong for not masking (either now or in the past, timing doesn’t matter) as well as being shitty about those who are masking, and the fact that you are masking is shoving their wrongness in their face. They’re they’re trying to make themselves feel better by getting you to be the bad guy. So, don’t be the bad guy. Find a stock phrase that shuts them down without being rude or giving them an opportunity to continue. DawnShadow here suggested “I just like wearing a mask” and that would work.

      I’m in a purple area so its not that bad, but yeah, the antimaskers are annoying.

    6. Alicia*

      Yes, I am getting annoyed by the stupid comments from stupid coworkers about how I am still wearing a mask. No advice, just commiseration.

    7. yogurt*

      Yes! I can commiserate on masking in a red state. I’m very lucky to have a remote job but my boyfriend does not and works at a college. We both mask 100% of the time and are extremely COVID cautious for many reasons, including wanting to protect ourselves and immuno-compromised family members that we care for.

      He has given up entirely on repeating his reasons for masking with coworkers and has opted to meet their comments with dead-eye staring and absolute silence because he’s found that usually people are just trying to affirm their own sense of righteousness in their own reasons for not wearing a mask. When you meet someone’s unwanted comments with silence, they usually start rambling at him that “they don’t judge it for other people” and “can see why someone would do it for X, Y, and Z reasons” yet are obviously judging him by consistently “forgetting” about why he wears it and continuing to ask or say insensitive things. And then you gotta love it when they come to work sick and say “ugh, just wish there was something I could do to not get sick” *cue huge eye roll*.

      It’s taxing. Luckily he has me to vent to, so my only advice is to try and vent to a friend. But also, I acknowledge that it is extremely emotionally taxing to deal with the constant criticism and judgement even if it doesn’t hit me all at once on the daily. Sometimes to make myself laugh, when I hear someone coughing sickly or sneezing without covering their mouth in a store nearby, I loudly say “That’s disgusting!” or “You love to see it!” (with much sarcasm) just to remind myself that people are animals and I’m protecting myself by wearing a mask.

    8. PostalMixup*

      Playing devil’s advocate, might some of it be that people just look different with a mask on vs off, and your coworkers haven’t seen your entire face very much in 3 years? When my workplace dropped its mask mandate, there were coworkers that I literally did not recognize without the mask. Walked right past them.

  32. just another queer reader*

    Tech people: how might I know if my employer is spying on my via my work computer and/or personal cell phone?

    I’ve read enough stories on here to make me a little concerned.

    I now cover up my laptop camera with a post it note, but might my employer be listening via my cell phone (it has Outlook and Company Portal installed)?

    I could also be worrying for nothing, so!

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Android or Apple? I use android and the phone you can control the permissions each app has, so make sure permissions for outlook do not include camera or microphone. It’s in settings. Press and hold the app icon, then hit the little i or gear on samsung phones.

    2. Ormond Sackler*

      I feel like listening in to conversations would be more trouble than it’s worth. I’m sure there is some way they could try to do it, but in my experience most IT departments are just trying to keep up and don’t have time to spy on their workers. Plus, imagine how much stuff you’d have to get through to get to anything juicy.

    3. WestsideStory*

      Don’t use your personal phone for work. They need to reach you by phone, for example if you work requires you to be off site a lot, they should get you a company phone. Same with computer.

      1. Tio*

        I had my personal number used for work at my last job, as they gave you a phone stipend. It’s not always terrible.

        That said, if all you have installed on it are a portal app and outlook from your company, the chances that they are spying on you via the phone is almost zero. Usually that kind of thing would require more specific software.

        1. Observer*


          Also, check permissions. If you have an up to date phone, you can lock things down pretty well.

    4. anywhere but here*

      Check your state laws – in many states, it’s illegal to record someone without their consent.

      1. Observer*

        Is there any state where this would be legal? The issue here is not whether the employer is recording conversations that they are having with their employer. But rather if they are recording conversations that the OP is having with OTHER people and / or if they are recording conversations happening in the environment.

    5. WestsideStory*

      Please note that Outlook has a function known as Remote Device Wipe (look it up) that allows the Outlook Administrator to remove all data such as contacts from your personal phone. Typically it’s a limited wipe, but if you are in a business where your industry capital is your contacts list, this might be a concern.
      I know a lot of folks like the convenience of only using one phone, and office landlines are no longer offered – call me old fashioned but my feeling is that if a company wants you to be on call they should provide a company phone.

    6. David*

      You’re probably worrying for nothing. I am a tech person and I would not worry about this; like another commenter said, I’d just make sure that the apps in question don’t have the microphone permission, unless they have a legitimate reason for it. (Like, I dunno, if Outlook has a voice transcription feature and you want to use it)

      If you want to go deeper for your own peace of mind, the one really surefire indicator of audio (or video) spying is network bandwidth. If your company wanted to spy on you by listening via your phone’s microphone, your phone is going to have to send all that audio data out to a server somewhere to give your company access to it. So you could turn off the cellular data on your phone and make sure its only access to the internet is via wifi, and connect it to a wifi router that you control, and look at the router’s statistics on how much data is flowing through it. If the rate of data transfer is very low, like a few bytes per second on average, that pretty much rules out any possibility that the phone is spying on you. On the other hand, if it’s constantly uploading kilobytes per second, then they could be spying, but it also could be something else that’s perfectly normal. It may be possible to get more clues by looking at where that data is going, but that’s a more technical analysis.

      Anyway, like I said, it’s vanishingly unlikely that your company is actually spying on you. If it were me, I wouldn’t even bother to do this kind of analysis unless I had some other specific reason to suspect something. I’m bringing it up mostly to point out that there are signs, which a fair number of people know to look for, and so any company that wanted to spy on people can’t do it without taking on a significant risk that they will be found out.

  33. For the love of indictments*

    Last day for the Boss.

    The best situation for transition is that our new COO will be our interim so she’ll get to know us and be able advocate for us when interviewing our new boss. don’t know if we’ll be in on that decision.

    I love my team. We’re four independent, collaborative, thoughtful, respectful, engaging, funny, and hardworking group. We need a boss who is fair, flexible, understands how we work and keep aside as we do great things while advocating for and keeping us moving forward.

  34. Long-time listener, first-time manager*

    My team tends to overshare when they’re out, especially for health-related reasons. I don’t want to be cold, but I also don’t want them to feel like I need to be up in their personal business! I always warmly advise them to take time (we’ve got decent sick leave and good long-term leave options, if needed) and let them know that we’ll shift meetings/workload as needed, so they should focus on taking care of themself. (And we really do!) Is that enough? What does being supportive look like when I want to respect my employees’ privacy?

    1. rayray*

      I think you could just tell them bluntly, “If you’re too sick to come in, all you need to tell me is you’re sick. You don’t need to tell me your symptoms”

      Some workplaces have weird cultures where people think they need to justify being sick, or that their manager is also their mother and they need to tell them how sick they really are. It’s a hard habit to unlearn for some people, so just reassure them that they are capable of deciding if they are too unwell to come in and all you need is for them to let you know.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      After having to justify it at a previous job, I had a boss point blank tell me “Don’t tell me your symptoms, I trust you. Just say you’re taking a sick day”

    3. Flowers*

      Oh! My boss is like that and I’m the “oversharer” sometimes. He made it pretty clear that not asking isn’t because he doesn’t care, but because he trusts us and doesnt’ want to invade privacy.

      I think what helped me was just reviewing all the general interactions I’ve had with him and observing interactions with others; he’s friendly and chatty but careful not to ask prying questions. But I’ve also been able to talk to him in more detail about some things.

      So I think what you can do is –

      if they email you with a lot of details, can you just reply and say “hey no need for all the details. Feel better!” and when you see them, acknowledge them and ask how they are.

      If they try to tell you lots of details in person, I think you can put up a hand and quickly interrupt and say “its okay, don’t worry about it!” having a pleasant/easy/friendly tone is really important in this case.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My email to my team at the beginning of cold and flu season:
      “Just because we all work remotely and you don’t have to worry about coughing germs on the person in the next cube or working in your jammies or whatnot DOES NOT MEAN that you should feel like you have to work through it if you’re sick. I trust your judgement and if you feel like you’re too sick to work effectively, that’s why we have PTO and flex time. Try one reliable method (email, text, phone, Teams) to let me know, and even if I don’t reply right away, then go take care of yourself and we’ll figure it out on the back side. Please keep the specifics of your unwell-ness to a bare minimum, I trust you and do not need or want convincing with extra adjectives or details!”

  35. FriYay!*

    I had a third and final interview yesterday for a job I think I want. The benefits are great but the pay would be less, I like everyone that I met but it is at a large institution and I’m used to working for small employers. The department I’m in right now is going through a lot of changes and I don’t see the vision for where we’re going to end up. I’m not unhappy, just confused and frustrated. The person I met with yesterday indicated that an offer would be coming soon. I hate the waiting game! No point really, just sitting on pins and needles to get an offer so I can fully weigh the pros and cons.

  36. seena*

    I am in what is simultaneously a good and bad situation.

    I recently received a job offer for a great job, but the process here is different from every other job I’ve had. I have to be drug tested and go through a background check, which I’ve never had to do before. Both scare the shit out of me, honestly.

    I am an infrequent marijuana user in a legal state. The test was 4 days ago and I have not heard anything which I think is a good sign, but I’m still panicking a bit. The background check is also giving me anxiety. I have nothing to hide, but the company doing the check said they could not verify any of my past employment, which scared me. I sent them documentation and contact info but have yet to hear back.

    I had enough anxiety about it all that I delayed giving notice at my current job. I have to give 10 days notice to leave in good standing. I don’t have an actual start date for my new job and I am hoping to negotiate to make sure I hit that 10 days. I’m just really terrified something will go wrong and I will be stranded without a job. I just needed a place to put all of this.

    1. Hillary*

      Hang in there – it’s going to be fine. Background check companies are really not good at finding stuff sometimes. You’d know if you weren’t going to pass. ;-)

    2. Clisby*

      I don’t think anyone should give notice at current job until any new-job background checks are done and the offer is finalized.

    3. FashionablyEvil*

      Also, if you need to push out your start date to give proper notice because the background check was delayed, that should be totally doable. Honestly, a good employer would expect that to be the case.

    4. Khatul Madame*

      This is a standard situation. People usually determine the start date AND give notice after the background check is complete. Hard as it is, just sit tight and do not give notice.
      “Investigations” company being totally inept and slow is, unfortunately, also very common. Hang in there.

    5. beach read*

      I believe you should not give notice until everything is complete, and you have the final word of approval from your new employer. If for some odd reason they were not able to give you the start date you need in order to give 2 weeks, then you will need to decide which job you want.
      Also, I ran into a problem with my former employer not working with my prospective employer on needed verifications in a timely manner. I had to make a number of calls to straighten out the problem. Don’t hesitate to contact your new employer to check in and find out how you can help move the process along.

  37. Bluebonnet*

    Yesterday,I completed a third (and final) interview for another position within my organization. I am overqualified for the position, but am still very interested in it. Although this would be a lateral move from my current job, it could open up advancement opportunities in the future.

    I feel stuck in my current job since there is no promotion or learning opportunities in my department. My supervisors are also absent and my favorite co-workers have moved on (one retired, one resigned).

    Am hoping for the best with this interview, but plan to keep applying for other jobs in case I am not offered this job. Hopefully a door of some sort will open soon!

    1. It's me It's me*

      Good luck, I hope you get the job! I am in the same boat – interviewing internally right now!

  38. Cannabis 101*

    Do any of y’all happen to work in the cannabis industry/otherwise have expertise with cannabis? I work with a lot of college students and there’s often a need to help them develop a healthy relationship with cannabis use when they first start using: frequency, method, t-breaks, etc. I was a DARE kid and don’t have a ton of direct experience so while I think my 101 is decent it could definitely use improvement. I’d love to hear any tips and tricks that I could pass along to my students. Thanks!

    1. alex (they/them)*

      I work at a cannabis testing lab! My general advice would be to use legal cannabis where possible, as legal cannabis is subject to regulation and testing. Unregulated cannabis can often have unsafe levels of heavy metals, solvents, and pesticides. Also, start with the lowest dose/potency you can- I personally had some really unpleasant early experiences due to a high dose.

    2. Observer*

      One thing worth thinking about is that a healthy relationship with cannabis is going to look very much like a healthy relationship with almost any other substance.

    3. HCTZ*

      unless it’s for a medical condition, stress to them use in moderation, moderation, moderation.

  39. Different perceptions of reality*

    My last boss was an extreme gaslighter and I ended up in therapy because of it. (Example: we would take verbatim notes [her request] in a google doc for every meeting and end with action items. She would go into the document later, change the notes to what she wanted people to have said, update the action items accordingly, tell nobody, and then act like we were incompetent for not having completed those new action items. This happened almost every day – we had a ton of meetings.) My new job has been, generally, a breath of fresh air. However, my current boss is stressed right now and seems to be taking it out on the team – primarily me (I confirmed with my officemate). She is remembering things incorrectly, reprimanding me for not having done something one way when we agreed to do it a different way, and doubling down/lashing out when I try to clarify. My coworker, who has been with the org longer, said to ignore it and that this period will blow over. However, due to my past experience, I am really struggling to do that. It’s almost a physical reaction, and I quickly fell into a doom spiral about whether my boss has lost all confidence in me/the quality of my work. My coworker also said that our boss is not the sort of person you could have a constructive conversation with about this issue (my proposal: I feel like we’re not communicating well right now. Is there something I can do differently to address that?) Has anyone been in this spot before and found a way to ignore it? My immediate reaction was to start looking for a new job, which is maybe an overreaction. Thanks!

    1. MsM*

      I think looking for a new job is an entirely sensible solution to being told, “yeah, being the scapegoat is something you’re just going to have to put up with.” In the interim, just document as best you can (keep backups on a non-shared drive, if you have to) so you can refer back with written proof when she accuses you of misremembering, loop other people in on those reminders if you think it’ll help, and hold on to the knowledge it’s her, not you. Are you still seeing your therapist?

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

      It sounds like you went from one bad job to a another bad job

      You could still try and have that conversation with the boss. Your coworker may not be correct in their assumption that you can’t have a constructive conversation.

      I think the best thing would be to make notes and save a copy for yourself. That way at the end of meetings you can have a synopsis of what was talked about and if the boss reprimands you, you can look back and give information. You could even send a copy to her. I say you should keep a hard copy yourself so that she can’t make changes since you’ve had that problem before.

      It sounds like your boss treats the group bad when she is stressed but you are getting more of it. since all of you are affected could a group of you go to the boss and explain that you don’t like the way she is treating you. or maybe a few of you could go to HR or boss’s boss asking for assistance.

    3. Different perceptions of reality*

      Thank you both! I’ll update with a few details – I’ve been in the “new” job for almost two years and this is the first time I’m experiencing this. I do take notes, but referring back to them was what caused the doubling down/lashing out. Boss really doesn’t like to be wrong. The org is very small – no HR, no grand boss. My last job was in academia, so while those things existed, they were functionally unable to influence the inner workings of our lab. Perhaps this is the takeaway – next job should be with a larger org. However, if there were a way to get through a once-every-two-years bad spot, I’d like to. I love the work, the work life balance, and the community I’m working in.

    4. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Take it to your boss’s boss, rather than your coworker. You may end up needing to look for a new job but I wouldn’t jump to that (unless you want to move on anyway for other reasons) without taking it up the chain first. Or depending on what your HR is like you could potentially take it to them as well. It does seem clear that you’re worried about history repeating itself but on the other hand I don’t think it is a groundless worry. Forgetting things is normal (to some extent) but reprimanding you without finding out the facts isn’t.

      I think perhaps your boss is in need of support or some other kind of ‘intervention’ by the company so would be doing her a favour (even if she wouldn’t see it that way) to take this up with others rather than just accepting it or moving on. If it is focused on you it does seem to be heading towards bullying.

    5. Mighty midget*

      Can you circuate the meeting notes by email (as a pdf?) as well as keeping the “live” copy on googledocs, so that at least it’s clear what has changed and what’s original?

    6. Observer*

      My immediate reaction was to start looking for a new job, which is maybe an overreaction.

      Maybe it is, but that doesn’t make it a bad idea. Your boss doesn’t sound reasonable. Please keep this in mind. It’s like the old line “Just because you are paranoid, it doesn’t mean they are not out to get you.”

      Having said that, start documenting your conversations so you have something to fall back on. Don’t do this behind her back. Rather tell her that you are doing this and do it in email or even a shared doc or something similar. If you are using Google Docs, there is a built in history, so you can very easily see if she’s pulling that kind of garbage. MS Office has a similar feature, but you may have to turn it on. If it turns out that the answer is yes, then looking for a new job is not only not an over-reaction, it’s the least you can do for yourself.

    7. Janeric*

      I think meeting notes are a great idea “we’ve had problems with what we took away from these meetings in the past and I want to address that earlier rather than later” — but the actions of your former supervisor are so far outside of normal behavior that showing any expectation that someone might do that (edit notes documents to discredit someone) is likely to permanently damage your relationship with them.

      It’s useful to think about what kind of person your current boss is and what kind of complaints she’s making, just because having that information can be a lens to interpret other behaviors. It’s also useful to be really precise about what you mean by “reprimanding” and “lashing out”.

      It can be really hard to separate trauma response from similar circumstances and there are limits to how interesting my friends find this — I lean on my therapist a lot for this. And after two years it’s totally reasonable to check out the job market and see what your options are.

  40. General Organa*

    Hi! I’m a nonprofit litigator, and I’m curious about whether anyone has any resources related to project management / case management / building out team infrastructure for lawyers specifically. The legal team at my organization is roughly 20 people, and a need has been expressed for better organization and less siloed working in the group. I’m looking to broaden my skill set (and possibly build myself some exit options, since I’m in a niche where people burn out pretty quickly) so I’d like to volunteer to take on some of this work.

    1. Ginger Baker*

      I’ve been googling “checklists for lawyers” and “legal project management” recently so following this thread with interest…

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Are you using a document management system? Those often have some aspects of project management (approval workflows, etc) built in. And of course just making sure you have revision control and traceability is a big chunk of what project management is in a legal setting.

  41. Everything All The Time*

    TLDR: Does anyone have a professional way to say, “I do not have the energy to help you, please call EAP?”
    I’m at empathy burnout. I’ve got a bunch of family/friends/things going on personally. My company is doing great about it and I generally feel supported, my problem is with one of my coworkers.

    This guy is full of his own drama and sadness that he set up through his own actions, again, and I cannot muster up more empathy. I have two or three “That’s terribles” left, and I’m scared I’m going to snap at him when he approaches me in the office with yet another self created tragedy since he keeps doing the same actions every single year with the same results.

    Does anyone have a professional way to say, “I do not have the energy to help you, please call EAP?”

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      “I’m sorry to hear that George. I hope you can find a way to fix it. I know our work has this great EAP hotline, do you need that number?” “No? Ok. No I can’t hear more about this problem George, I need to get back to work on the TPS reports/eating my lunch”.

      1. DisneyChannelThis*

        PS: Sometimes there’s gender bias here too, if your coworker is dumping and expecting female coworkers to help him manage his emotions that’s an extra nuance. I’d get more blunt in that situation. “George, I don’t want to hear about your divorce. We’re both here to work.”

    2. MsM*

      “Bill, I’m going to have to stop you there: I’m sorry you’re struggling, but this really sounds like something you should bring to EAP; they’ll be better equipped to help you. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to X.”

      Or just, “Sorry, Bill, no time to chat today.” Let him worry about how to manage his drama if he can’t dump it on you. (If you’re really worried about what he might do without some kind of guidance, you could go to EAP yourself without giving details other than that you think he could use their support, and ask if they’re able to follow up with him.)

      1. Everything All The Time*

        I did ask about them following up, but the most I can do is give him their number, and he won’t call because “He knows they will tell him it’s his fault.”

        1. MsM*

          “Well, then I really don’t know what to tell you, Bill. Anyway, I gotta get back to work. Good luck!”

        2. Hex Code*

          “Welp, sounds like you know where the problem is then! See ya!” (Do not actually do this, although it would be very satisfying)

        3. NaoNao*

          “Well…I’m about to tell you it’s your fault too, so…” with a sincerely nice smile and then brisk turn back to desk/get up for coffee/etc.

        4. Observer*

          “I’m sorry you’re not finding them helpful, but this is out of my depth.”

          Then turn away, walk off, pick up the phone. Whatever it takes to definitively end the conversation.

    3. lurkyloo*

      I’d say to say it exactly how you worded it! Kindly of course, but simply ‘I’m dealing with a lot of things, here’s EAP’s number because I don’t have the bandwidth right now to provide the support you’re looking for.’

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Agreed! And if it continues, I think it’s fair to talk to your manager about it. He is disrupting your workday, and that is a performance issue for him.

      2. Anonosaurus*

        I always use the word “bandwidth” for this kind of thing. I find it gets to the point and makes them take a step back and realize “oh, we actually don’t have the kind of relationship where you are in my support system, and you have your own life and things going on.”

      3. JelloStapler*

        Or, even better, take out the words “right now”.

        You don’t have the bandwidth. Period.

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

      Oh this is tough. I get this sometimes because of where I work but we cannot help staff, we are counseling for students. You WANT to help but 1. its boundary pushing, and 2. it affects your work relationship.

      next time he comes to you and starts talking about stuff say something like this:

      “that is a really bad problem and I’m sorry you are going through this tough time. I am not able to help you but here is the number for the EAP. They have XYZ that can help.”

      You could also add something in about boundaries like “I feel we have crossed a line of co-workers or employee-boss (Whichever is relevant here). Because of this, I think the best option for both of us would be if you contacted the EAP. They have trained professionals that can help with this.

      Another option.
      “I feel like this is a lot of personal information and you are going through a lot right now. problems and I’m really sorry about that. I know in the past you have come to me for X but I don’t think that that will be sustainable, both for our professional relationship and that I am not able to help you. Let’s call the EAP to get someone who is trained to help with this. If you like we can call together to get started” (only offer to call with him if you feel like you can.)

      Also, try using the EAP yourself. They may be able to help you with some advice for this situation. Maybe there is something like a reach-out program too, where someone from the EAP will call your coworker.

      Good luck!

      1. Everything All The Time*

        EAP has been immensely helpful for me in that I can keep work as one of my priorities, I just have enough going on at the same time that I can’t hold any more right now.

    5. Lana Kane*

      “You have a lot on your plate and I don’t think I have the right skills to help. Did you know our company has an EAP program? I think they can help much more than I’m able to.”

    6. I edit everything*

      “I can’t help you with that, but the EAP would be a great resource. Now, about those TPS reports…”

    7. WantonSeedStitch*

      Honestly, I think that “George, I really am not the person to talk to about this. I need to be able to focus on work when I’m at the office. I think either the EAP or maybe a therapist would be a much better call for you.”

      1. Observer*


        “I tried them but they blah blah blah.”?

        “I’m sorry they couldn’t help you. But I still am not the right address.”

        And on with your day.

    8. Nesprin*

      Are you willing to do the warm handoff? When I taught I used to do this with students (except with walking them to the counseling center)

      “Bill, that’s sounds terrible, but I really don’t have the training to help you with this. Let’s go call the EAP since they’re there for exactly this thing” then walk him to a phone in a private place, dial the number and hand the phone.

      1. Everything All The Time*

        tried the warm handoff, turns out what he wants is for me to offer the money I’ve budgeted for my new appliances to pay for an emergency expense of his that popped up…
        I went to my boss and asked for at least a “Here’s the office etiquette on not asking coworkers for money” for him at this point so we’ll see how that goes on Monday.

        1. WestsideStory*

          Oh god no. You have to stop this. Do not give money. If the good scripts given here don’t work, you have to be blunt. “Robbie, it is not my responsibility to pay for your expenses. As much as I sympathize, I can’t get involved on this level. If there are financial concerns you should ask your boss. I’m not able to help you, and as I’ve said before the EAP people may have some options for you.”
          Do not lend coworker any money.

    1. I edit everything*

      “Hey, friend. That pounding is pretty distracting. Could you please not do that?”

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

      What’s going on? Is the person angry or dealing with an angry client over the phone? Can you talk to them about it and ask “Hey John do you realize that when you’re on the phone and it’s a stressful call you tend to pound on your desk? It’s not only distracting for those around you but it’s really jarring. I understand that you might not know that you do this but maybe get a stress ball or something quiet to help?

      1. Flowers*

        Nope, just out of excitement, when they’re chatting with the group.
        This person is “nice” and friendly, but hasn’t been the most welcoming or friendly to me so I don’t feel comfortable approaching them directly.

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

          Glad its not out of anger. Could you talk to your boss? Or is there another trusted coworker that the person would listen too that you could talk to.

        2. Observer*

          So? They are doing something distracting and legitimately off putting. You don’t need to be best buddies with someone to say “Hey, would you mind dialing back banging the desk. It’s really distracting.”

          Once you’ve done that, if they don’t stop, you can approach your manager. But any reasonable manager is absolutely going to expect you to talk to your coworker first.

    3. Flowers*

      Sorry I didn’t add more context but –

      the pounding is in excitement/happiness
      they talk sometimes I can tune it out, but the sudden shouting/laughing gets weary to listen to. And I’m a chatty/friendly person and love interacting with people most of the time.

      I can wear headphones and do but I can only wear them for so long – plus I want to be accessible. 

      Pounding noises (or any other really sudden loud noises) startle me and tbh even if it’s not done in anger/frustration, it….just feels really…the word/feeling is escaping me. 
      im very non-confrontational so I can’t ask them directly to stop. but I know if I complain and someone else says something, she’ll know it’s me. 

      Anyways, just want to hear what yall would do. Serious and non-serious answers <3

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Run over to them in concern every time it happens? Then you can explain that it startled you.

        Or introduce them to George in the question above.

        1. Cyndi*

          Or just shriek or yelp (depending how dramatic you’re willing to be) in surprise every time.

        2. BuildMeUp*

          My passive-aggressive instinct is something similar – if you’re not actually seeing your coworker when this happens, Flowers, could you pretend you don’t know where the noise is coming from and feign alarm? Start asking nearby coworkers if they hear that loud banging noise, wonder aloud what it could be, etc.? Surely there must be something terribly wrong with the plumbing/air ducts if they are making that loud noise!

    4. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      “Hey Bob, I don’t know if you realize it, but when you pound on your desk the vibrations travel and make all of our monitors shake, and it interrupts our work.”

      1) us, not me – he’s inconveniencing more people than just you
      2) business, not personal.

    5. RagingADHD*

      If you have ruled out the most basic and effective option of asking her to dial it back* then on a non-serious note perhaps you could request that everyone’s desk be replaced with marshmallows, for ergonomic reasons.

      *Just wanted to also mention that “I am (behavior) so I can’t do (thing that would benefit me)” is called fixed mindset. Avoiding conflict is not an inborn, immutable trait. It is a behavior, an action.

      You could embrace a growth mindset and change that action into one that is more helpful for you.

      OTOH, reframing the situation in your own mind as, “This pounding is annoying, but I prefer enduring it to speaking up,” might make it easier to tolerate, because it restores your sense of agency in the situation.

      1. Flowers*

        marshmallows are yum!

        re: the rest of the post – that’s very interesting. I hadn’t thought of it that way before and I’m so glad you mentioned the idea of restoring agency. There’s a lot of things that I tolerate or let go, and I like the idea of reframing it. So – thank you as always for your insightful comments.

  42. Lady Lynn Waterton of Bellashire*

    I am a hobbyish artist (sell my work at local markets and a little bit online). It’s very much a hobby that I enjoy and make a little money at, but still a hobby. It’s really something that I need a separate space for, away from pets for safety reasons. We may be moving to a big city (possibly NYC) where an extra room to spare won’t be an option. I have like a couple hundred dollars so I know that wouldn’t go far at all in New York. Is there such a thing as renting a really small studio space? Again, probably out of budget. I looked and didn’t find any specific studio or space for my hobby.

    Any suggestions?

    1. beanie gee*

      I know artists who share studio space if you have room for all of your materials! Maybe some groups you could join or look on craigslist to see if people have spaces to sublease?

      1. Lady Lynn Waterton of Bellashire*

        Materials aren’t easily transportable but yeah, would be awesome to “timeshare” since I would be there <15 hours a week.

    2. mreasy*

      If it’s your priority, you may be able to find an apartment with a guest room or office in NYC. You would likely have to prioritize that over, say, proximity to the subway or amenities like onsite laundry. Given the wide range of rents based on location, it’s not impossible (my husband and I are by no means wealthy and we have a very big space – far from the subway, and without dishwasher or laundry). Shared studio space is possible, but you could end up needing the same budget for it that you would for a slightly bigger space, adjusting other variables.

    3. WestsideStory*

      NYC is full of maker spaces, just Google that and you’ll find many listings, most in Brooklyn. There is a maker space directory also on line.

  43. Millie Mayhem*

    How do you all feel about getting thank you notes from your boss? Our receptionist is my direct report and she’s currently out on vacation. I’ve been covering the front desk while she’s been out and I’m reminded by everything she does (and how she does her job so well)!

    I have some downtime today and thought it might be nice to leave her a thank you note to come back to on Monday, but don’t know if that seems like too much or not… we have a pretty great relationship and rapport, and I’ve given her cards/gifts for her birthday and Christmas. Anyone have any thoughts on this? Thanks!

    1. RD*

      I love thank you notes and frequently give them to colleagues. If you are her manager and there is a more formal way to recognize her work (some rewards program, recognition at a team meeting) that might be a good addition. Otherwise I love to receive thank you notes!

    2. RagingADHD*

      That’s a super nice thing and you should do it. Even if she isn’t the kind of person who gets warm fuzzies from a note, it is never a bad thing. Always err on the side of graciousness.

    3. Policy Wonk*

      I treasure the ones I have received, and on a bad day will pull out the folder and re-read them. Make it heartfelt, with examples, and it will mean a lot. (Note: I had a boss who sent way too many just for doing my job – they seemed like box-checking those are not in the folder.)

    4. Girasol*

      I felt self-conscious about writing thank yous to my project team members after a big effort wrapped up but was surprised to find my notes pinned on people’s office walls even a year later. It seemed to be more appreciated than I expected.

  44. RD*

    Have you ever had to turn down a job for strictly personal reasons? I got a great offer but I need to retain my PFL/FMLA eligibility to help care for a family member. I feel like I am going to be written off in the future from this company, even though logically I know that isn’t the case. How has this worked out for you?

    1. MsM*

      Been there. I can’t say whether it ruined my future prospects, since I never ended up applying for anything else with them, but the reaction I got was totally gracious and understanding. (And if it hadn’t been, I probably wouldn’t have wanted to work there anyway.)

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      FMLA might not legally kick in until a year into employment at eligible companies, but could you try negotiating for similar accommodations? I’m not sure what your current needs are, but the company might be able to offer it outside of FMLA, especially if they’re interested in you and the alternative is to lose out on you. Doesn’t seem like you need to immediately turn down a great job offer without first asking.

    3. Gyne*

      I think it depends on how you turn the offer down. If I was a hiring manager, I might be wondering why the heck you applied if you seemingly had no intention of changing jobs. I would probably not re-interview you again in the future unless it was clear your situation changed.

      And I’d second the advice to ask the new offer about accomodations – FMLA kicks in after one year but it doesn’t prohibit a business from offering the same leave or accomodations to employees who have worked there less than a year. A decent employer would still try to make it work for their employees.

      1. RD*

        Well you might be familiar with how slow the hiring process can be (nearly two months have passed since I applied) and in that time a parent was diagnosed with cancer… family circumstances can change fairly quickly and I would hope a hiring manager would be understanding. I literally got updates on treatment plan this week AFTER getting the offer.

        1. Gyne*

          That absolutely makes sense – I think it’s worth being up front now that you have an offer in hand about how your family situation has changed and you will need x, y, and z. They might say yes! Or you might mutually agree this is the right job at the wrong time and leave the door open for other opportunities in the future.

        2. Happily Retired*

          I hope that the treatment will be successful for your parents. Sending internet hugs to you and yours.

    4. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      I turned down a job (fully in office) that would prevent me from getting my kid to school… and got hired to a different position (fully remote) at the same company.

    5. Unladen European Swallow*

      I once turned down a role because literally the day before I got the call with the offer, I found out I was pregnant. Given that the new role was at a place that put all PTO (vacation + sick days) together in one bucket, that it required a move several states away, and that FMLA doesn’t kick in until you’ve been at your employer for 1 year, I told them no. I did make a point to say that it was due to unexpected family circumstances that just came up, but otherwise had been looking forward to potentially working at the institution.

      Haven’t applied to work back there since, so no idea if it had a negative long-term impact, but hopefully no.

  45. Office Mercenary*

    When is it worth reporting my employer to the Department of Labor? The state where I live and work requires paid sick leave for all private sector employees. Employers must inform their employees in writing with a particular DoL form and offer written policy guidance explaining how to use their sick leave. My employer did not give me this form when I was hired and my manager (who has since been fired for other reasons) explicitly (but verbally) told me that I do not have sick leave. The form is not in the HR website, nor is there any explanation of how to use sick leave.
    I eventually realized that I have 60+ hours of sick leave accrued, but there is a cap to how much I can use in a year, so there will always be a balance that I can’t access. The company’s most recent policy manual says that hourly employees can cash out their unused sick leave quarterly, but when I asked HR, they told me the manual is outdated and no longer applies. There is no updated version available. They told me I am ineligible to cash out the remaining amount, which is over $2000 at this point.
    Is it worth reporting the company to the DoL? Should I wait until I can put in my two weeks’ notice or start now? Is this as big a deal as I think it it? I can’t tell if all my other grievances with the company/job are clouding my judgment.

    1. irene adler*

      It is a big deal if there is no current employment manual.
      How are you to know what the policies are if they don’t have them written down (outdated doesn’t count)?
      Were you given a reason why you are ineligible to cash out your accrued sick leave?
      Given the employer transgressions already, would they terminate you if they learn you have contacted DoL-even if it is illegal to retaliate against any employee who does so? I don’t know how secret the identities of those who report companies to DoL are. That might taint your job search.

      You can consult an employment lawyer and ask them to weigh the pros and cons with you. Most places have a local American Bar Association group with an attorney referral service. Check on-line. They will usually offer a free (or nominal fee) 30 minute consultation to assess your situation.

      1. Office Mercenary*

        HR’s only reason for my ineligibility was, “your state’s law does not require us to cash out unused leave,” which is true, though they are not meeting the other requirements of the law. Their hourly employees in other states are allowed to cash out, though.

        The DoL claims complaints are confidential and it’s definitely illegal for employers to retaliate against employees, though I would assume it would be obvious who complained. The company is undergoing layoffs and they could easily terminate me under that pretext.

        Would an employment lawyer be worth it for such a (relatively) small amount of money? $2k is a lot to me but legal fees would eat that up fast. OTOH, it might be worth it just to be a thorn in this company’s side after I’ve moved on…

        1. irene adler*

          You can get an initial consultation with an employment lawyer. That is free or at a nominal cost ($50 maybe). They can size up the situation up in that time. That way you know where you stand.

          Sure, $2k isn’t worth the legal fees. During the 30-minute consultation, the attorney can suggest what you can do- yourself. I have found them to be very forthcoming with information that you can use. Information to either get them to comply (yeah, probably unlikely) or what to watch out for.

          Worth the 30 free consultation time, in my opinion.

      1. Office Mercenary*

        Unfortunately, HR keeps dodging my emails. It takes weeks to get a reply (if ever) and then they keep “suggesting” that we sort this out on the phone. If it comes to that, I’m definitely recording the conversation. (It’s a one-party consent state.)

        1. JelloStapler*

          yeah they know they are dodging the laws – not to mention being a decent employer.

  46. Lizy*

    Short question – how much should I promote my “opinions” at work?

    I say “opinions” because, in my opinion, these shouldn’t even be opinions, but there ya go… Essentially, I want to help build a cohesive and supportive atmosphere, but I don’t want to get in to the “wow she’s pushing her opinions on us” territory.

    I’m very passionate about mental health (especially among veterans), a flexible and understanding work environment, and infertility/foster system/kids’ issues. On the one hand, I’d love to be able to post on our work Slack about this stuff – if I see a news thing or something that I want to share, I want to also be able to say “ugh I can’t believe people should worry about telling their supervisor they’re pregnant. Why aren’t people more understanding” or “ugh I can’t believe there’s a proposal to cut VA disability payments” (which, btw, there is, and it’s absolutely insane on so many levels…) or whatever.

    Where’s the line between “ok to share” and “whoa – too much personal stuff”? I want my “shares” to be on the same level as “wow this client is really demanding” or “this spreadsheet sucks”, but I recognize I’m very personally invested in the personal “shares” and don’t want to be an ass… help!

    1. RagingADHD*

      Does your work Slack have a random/offtopic channel?

      This isn’t work related, and it doesn’t belong on the work channel. Demanding clients and sucky spreadsheets are directly related to work.

    2. Anomnomnomymous*

      I think if you say “ugh I can’t believe people should worry about telling their supervisor they’re pregnant”, people will probably assume you’re being passive-aggressive towards your supervisors. I also don’t think your shares would be on the same level as your coworkers’ if the Slack mostly consists of “clients are demanding” or “this particular spreadsheet sucks”. But I might be overly cautious

      1. RagingADHD*

        They’re also likely to start wondering/gossiping about who is pregnant. You, or someone you work closely with who might have confided in you?

        It comes across a bit like VagueBooking.

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      You’re describing work related slack messages “wow this client is demanding” and wanting to contribute news articles, I think that’s a mismatch as it’s not work related. Save the news articles for your friends chats. If everyone in slack is work related, stay work related. (Or propose a separate channel for off topic discussion, like books you read recently, or new video games, or restaurant recommendations, or pets etc…)

      Appropriate work shares are usually not controversial. You don’t want to start debates, arguments or fights. Politics is usually off topic lists for work for this reason. So is religion. Discussing proposed policy changes like state VA funding I think would fall into politics…

      If you’re trying to reach out more at work, I suggest starting with positive stuff, stuff you were happy to hear about and would make others happy to hear about. Like, “I got a new kitten, anyone want to see photos?”. News articles are generally not this category. For your specific examples, being passionate about mental health is great, but it’s a loaded topic for a lot of people, who may have lost someone to sui cid e or similar and not want to be reminded at work, just discussing that can be triggering for some. Passion for improving work conditions/flexibility could come across like criticizing your employer, be careful there.

    4. Fiona*

      As a rule, it’s better to err on sharing too little rather than too much. Use your non-work network (friends, family, religious group, hobby group) to spread awareness and advocate for your beliefs. Or if there’s something that’s REALLY important to you and is work-appropriate, choose your battles and make a post rarely. I’m talking like once or twice a year.

      I will make one exception for advocating for “a flexible and understanding work environment.” I think that’s an appropriate place to put your energy at work – the rest are things that you can and should do in your spare time. Good luck!

      1. Tio*

        Agree completely. Most of this is not work stuff. Anything that can start an argument can lead to resentment between coworkers, which is not good.

        If you want to try and advocate for changes specifically for the work environment you are in, here is a very delicate option:
        Select one particular thing you want to change. (Flexible start times, wfh flexes, whatever. Start small.) Start by saying something nice about the company. Then move into “And wouldn’t it be nice if…?” and see if there is support or traction. If so, you can suggest it directly to a higher up (manager, HR, you know chain of command better than we do) as a “This small change could make people like company even more/attract talent/something similarly positive”. The goal is to make it seem like you’re happy with the company and want to make it even more amazing.
        Our company is so good at allowing us to flex our in office days with WFH days! I wonder if they’d consider allowing us to flex our start and end times? That would be amazing!

        It’s kind of a version of the old “stating that you think they’ll do the right thing and making them live up to it” trick. But, still decent chance that won’t work.

    5. anon for now*

      I wouldn’t post things like this in a work channel unless it was set up specifically to share information on these topics (e.g. I am in a DEI group at work and there is a channel to share resources with others). I might share something related to my interests/opinions with close coworkers if it was something I’ve talked with them about before, but otherwise I don’t really think it’s appropriate to share stuff like this regularly at work.

    6. LJK123*

      Yeah personally — unless you work in a field connected to any of those things – I would be annoyed as your coworker. I work in healthcare so- I do send the occasional article to a colleague about something relevant to our jobs but I wouldn’t just send random stuff to the slack just because it’s my passion. It may not be others passion, and I would annoyed to be the receiver of this on the slack.. I get what you’re trying to do but I think this will ultimately end up alienating people. The mutual complaining about relevant work things is just not the same as what you are proposing.

    7. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Honestly, what you’re suggesting is over the line of too much already, and I agree you that this stuff is important and matters. If there’s an off topic slack channel, you could put it there but you will become the person who does this, which will have its own set of consequences.

      There is a reason why many activists annoy the crap out of people. They simply can not leave their chosen topic alone, and it doesn’t matter how what the topic is people need to have space away from it.

      1. Colette*

        Yeah, agreed. These are important issues, but work isn’t generally where people go to engage with them.

        I think you can share something like that on an off-topic channel about once a year, if:
        – it’s extremely topical
        – it’s relevant to your location, and
        – there’s a call to action (sign this petition, watch this town hall video before the election)

    8. Lizy*

      Not sure of the best way to respond to everyone, but thanks! That’s exactly the reality-check I needed :)

    9. Dark Macadamia*

      What would be your purpose for sharing?

      It’s directly relevant to work (like, “here’s an interesting take on that policy change we’re going to be affected by”) – go for it.

      You want the digital version of a water cooler / break room chat, and you’re posting in a place made for that purpose – go for it.

      You see yourself as informing people about something they otherwise wouldn’t know/care about, or you’re picking a fight – that’s what your personal social media is for :)

  47. AnonDisturbedbyFOMOBOSS*

    Looking for advice on dealing with a boss with severe fomo / fear of missing out.

    They are inserting themselves into work that they knows little bit of but want to be part of the group doing this. But they are the boss, so I should just deal. This includes them wanting to travel for workshops and meetings. But honestly now I do not really wish to go to these meetings. They require travel to get to. I had to travel with them before and honesty it is exhausting as they are needy and have to be involved in things that they overpromise on an under deliver for.

    They are not managing their team. Like there are people struggling and they do not give them time of day, or 1.1s, and they do not listen in staff meetings. Like they talk over all of us.

    We spent in the past 3 weeks a total of 6 people’s time in 6 hrs of meetings working on documents for them that they need to present to their boss. Not even sure this is final either and there are other things we have to do too.

    They are never in the office if they can be travelling. Then everything is a mad rush for us to do stuff for them when they are in office. We have limited support and our people are burning out.

    I looked up grey rocking today to see if this will help me with their fomo/inserting themselves etc. Not sure. Their boss will not deal with it either fyi. Suggestions? I cannot look for a new job yet (not for 3 years at least) but need some coping mechanisms that are not drinking (at work or home ha).

    I have tried to have conversations with them about this. Now, for past 3 months, been on this person’s list of people that make them upset so they are not polite to me in meetings so am clamming up…. which I think is my option in general.

    1. Anon for this*

      Not the exact situation, but similar with a manager new to both management and the department. Feel out how your boss’s boss would think about this, then set up a meeting. Make sure you have a list documenting the issues & actionable ideas to solve the problem.

      I was so scared to go to my grandboss about it, but their assistant assured me that they would rather know about these issues than have good people quit. (Assistant also paved the way for the meeting.)

      If your grandboss is also unreasonable, then keeping your head down while looking for a new job is probably your best bet, though.

      1. AnonDisturbedbyFOMOBOSS*

        Thanks so much for sharing your experience. And, yeah in between writing my comment above and now, I received a text message from a colleague who said this boss was complaining about how low level staff should not complain, and should not be so critical. This was in relation to my asking the fomo boss about some management issues that are being ignored by all higher ups. So my thoughts in the past couple of hours have refined focus to be keeping my head down, doing my job, and limiting interactions with them.

  48. curio*

    What does it mean when a job posting says “telework available?” I’m guessing it’s not that the job can be a remote one, is it?

    1. DrSalty*

      Honestly that is exactly what I’d assume. I might reach out for more detail if there is a contact listed.

    2. RagingADHD*

      I would interpret this to mean that you could sometimes work from home, either occasionally for special circumstances, or maybe in a hybrid schedule. But they don’t prefer it and are not prepared to have the role be fully remote.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      I would assume that “telework available” means “you can work from home occasionally.”

    4. The Ginger Ginger*

      I’d read it as either it can be remote for the right candidate, or that the company offers remote work as an option. To what degree, it’s not clear, but if that’s a deciding factor for you and you’d otherwise want it, I’d apply then if you get a phone screen ask them to clarify what the specifics of that policy are when you get a chance to ask questions.

  49. Trans and Tired*

    The March 29 letter about the employee who claimed his religion prevents him from respecting hypothetical trans employees reminded me of issues at my office. To me that situation reads as clear bigotry. But where do you draw the line with people who don’t outwardly object to trans employees but also do not use their pronouns?
    I (they/them) came out at work about a year and a half ago. My director was initially supportive. I said I needed him to lead by example, showing my coworkers how to use my pronouns and otherwise treat trans people respectfully. Good news: most of my coworkers, even the ones who were initially confused, are now quite supportive! Bad news: the director is still not using my pronouns. He is also not correcting the few holdout coworkers, new staff who are not familiar with me (we have high turnover), or transphobic clients and volunteers. When I raise these issues, he assures me that he is not intentionally ignoring my pronouns and that it is always a mistake. He is also (repeatedly) shocked that anyone in our community might be hostile. What I see as a pattern impacting my safety (like not having accessible bathrooms at certain worksites), he sees as unrelated incidents that make me feel uncomfortable.
    Last week I finally escalated from conversations to emails, so I have documentation. He maintains that he didn’t know about any of these problems, and that if I want help I only to need to ask for it. In the next all staff meeting, while announcing that he was adding pronouns to his email signature in support of trans people, he went back to using the wrong pronouns.
    Beyond mainly communicating over email and documenting everything, is there any way for me to address this?

    1. MsM*

      If you have HR, and they’re even halfway competent, I’d go ahead and gather up your documentation for them. If not, can you enlist coworkers/stakeholders he might actually listen to in calling him out and pointing out that this is far from the first time when it happens? Or do you feel secure in pointing out that if you kept making the same serious mistake over and over, that probably wouldn’t fly, so you’re going to need more than yet another “oops, sorry” here if he really wants to be an ally? As a last resort, do you have the patience to just keep going, “Director, you’re doing it again” while you look for another job?

    2. AnotherLibrarian*

      I am afraid that it seems like your only options may be to document, document, document and then proceed to HR while also looking for another job. I am so sorry about that.

  50. Merci Dee*

    This has been a crazy-hard month at work.

    Back toward the end of February, I posted a comment in a thread about emailing/texting employees who were out on leave. I mentioned that my boss had been out sick since early January, and that a bunch of us signed some “thinking of you” cards that I put in the mail so she would know we were wishing the best for her and looking forward to her return to work at the end of March.

    That’s not the way things worked out.

    My boss passed away on March 6th after her 3rd battle with cancer. We had worked together for 13 years, and she had been here at the company for 18 years. Many people here knew or had worked with her over the years, and her passing was a tremendous shock to our team and to the facility as a whole.

    Two days after the news that my boss has passed, I got a heads-up that a new employee was starting in the work-group that had previously been just my boss and me. In addition to fully taking over my boss’s duties (there had been several things that I hadn’t been working on because they weren’t urgent and they could have waited until she came back in March), I would be training our new employee on a totally separate third position. And our grand-boss, who we were now reporting to until things could be sorted out for our work-group, was going to be out of the country for the first two weeks of our new employee’s training.

    At some point within the next couple of weeks, we’re going to start a search for someone to fill my boss’s position, but at the specialist level instead of the manager level. I’ve been a senior specialist in our department for a number of years, so I’m stepping in as a temporary team lead with the new employee and the one we will be looking to hire down the road. My grand-boss has already expressed to me that he’s not looking to hire the new person at a manager level because he feels that I have the knowledge and experience to move up into that role.

    I think I could take over the management position (thanks to Alison’s wonderful advice over the years and her handy archives), but it just really sucks that the reason I might get the chance to do this is because we lost my boss.

    1. Jess*

      Honor her memory and legacy and you will do better than an outsider. People need to feel that our good work lives on. You have that opportunity. You’re gonna do great.

    2. Camelid coordinator*

      I am so sorry for your loss and that this opportunity is tied to it. I hope you and the team have some time to grieve.

  51. KTB*

    I’m getting really disheartened with my job search right now. I knew it would be kind of difficult going in, since I’m switching fields, but I have the basic requirements of what the jobs I’m applying for want, in addition to my other not-directly-related experience! I’ve only had one interview after months and that was because someone recommended me for the position.

    I’m worried this new degree was a waste. Maybe I wouldn’t have *continued* to be miserable in my old field.

    1. rayray*

      You have my sympathies, job hunting is an absolute beast right now. The news likes to make it seem like good jobs are plentiful but it simply is not true.

      Do you have any networking opportunities? Maybe check with your local Department of Workforce Services or whatever is offered by your state/country/city etc. There should be something.

    2. Anomnomnomymous*

      Have you gotten any feedback about your resume or cover letter from others? Did you ask for feedback from whoever interviewed you? It could be that you’re not selling yourself enough. It could also be your resume/cover letter is fine for your old field but the expectations are different in your new field

    3. irene adler*

      Have you sought out the professional organization in this new field you have switched to? If there is a local section, they would be a good resource for resume tips, interview tips, networking, job leads, etc.
      Some may know about recruiters that specialize in the industry.

  52. Panda*

    How long do you give a new job before you decide it’s not for you? I started a new job last May after being at my previous company for 11 years and before that I was a SAHM. It was a lateral move. I left because I was worried about the stability of the company post-Covid. However, I haven’t been very happy in the new job. I don’t really like the work. There is much less responsibility and autonomy that I had before. I feel like I stepped back from a professional role and stepped into an assistant role. The thing is that the company is pretty stable and the benefits are awesome. While I would like a role at a smaller company, I am not sure I can find one with similar excellent benefits. The people here are great, but I simply am not enjoying the work. Would you just suck it up for the great benefits? The other thing is that I’m 50 now, so I am not sure if it would be a good idea to change now. Or if I want to change, maybe I should do it now. I am just so torn!

    1. rayray*

      It wouldn’t hurt to just start looking for other opportunities. You may be in a position to be a little choosy and picky, so just start looking and getting your resume updated and see what happens.

      I have had a couple jobs where I felt obligated to give time and it didn’t end up helping me at all, so just start looking. It doesn’t sound like you could be pegged as a job hopper anyway given your history.

    2. E*

      Can you also look into potential for growth at your current company since it sounds like you like parts of it, just not your specific current role?

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I think it’s generally clear within 6 months (sometimes sooner) whether the job is ‘for you’ or not – so in my opinion, last May to now is easily enough. Have you talked to your bosses about how you feel? In retrospect do you think the job was “mis-sold” or did it represent what you are actually doing but you’ve just decided you don’t like it?

      In either case I think it is ok to start looking and to state openly the reason why to prospective new companies.

      However, as a hiring manager if I asked someone why they were looking to move on and they said what you have here – I would likely ask whether they’d tried to address that internally first.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I agree that by this point it’s enough time for you to know. I’ve definitely wavered within the first six months – sometimes things are just different than what you’re used to and you’re not sure how to feel, sometimes it’s frustrating being new/less trusted/the learning curve is stressful (I also usually hit a wall a few months in because I’m tired of being new and think I should have a handle on it by now; these days I just remind myself it happens every time). But after a year, you know the job. The question is, might there be any opportunities for change coming up? How likely is your boss to change positions – or even getting a new hire on your team can shift your role a bit. As others have said, any opportunity for promotion or transfer at the org? If nothing is likely to change where you are, you’re well within your rights to start looking around.

  53. Anomnomnomymous*

    Problems with an absent manager and a boss who technically isn’t their boss. A colleague who has been in their position for a long while has dual appointments in our small department and another, larger (and more prestigious) department. We’ll call them Darcy. Darcy has been neglecting their managerial role in our department to focus on the larger department. They’ve left the people working under them without direction. The head of our department, Rochester, is aware of all of the issues but only recently started in this position. Rochester doesn’t hold firing or restructuring power over Darcy either. We’ve brought complaints to Rochester but there hasn’t been much progress (there’s not too much they can do, according to them). Because of this, we have people looking for other opportunities. Is there anything we can do? How should we bring this to our boss?

    1. Haerin*

      Who is the person who does have firing power over Darcy? That’s who I’d bring it to. if you’re not sure, Rochester shouldd probably know or be able to point you to someone who might.

      1. Haerin*

        To be more specific, I would phrase the ask to Rochester as like – “I understand that you don’t have the power to fix X problem, but we really need it to be solved in order to get Y project done. Is there someone else who it would be better to talk to?” I’d focus on the problems that Darcy is causing for your team’s workload, rather than on Darcy themself.

        1. Anomnomnomymous*

          When I brought it up to them they basically said “We’ve heard this from other people but there’s nothing I can do”. So unfortunately, they’re a dead end. I don’t think their boss in their department would care at all about the problems of our department (we’re at a university and Darcy and their other department are faculty while our department and Rochester are staff).

          I might try to bring it up again the next time I have a meeting with Rochester, but I’m not sure if that’ll go over well based off some other comments they’ve made

  54. Interviews while working notice*

    say you left your job without anything lined up… and have interviews while you’re working your notice period… how would you go about it in the interview? do you 1. mention that you’re currently working your notice (and this opens up questions to why you left your job without getting another one first) 2. do not mention anything at all and act as if you’re still employed normally…?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I wouldn’t say anything beyond confirming that you’re still working there at the moment and talking about why you’re looking for something new. If they ask about your availability (e.g., when you can start), you can mention it then. I just wouldn’t bring it up unless asked directly.

    2. Khatul Madame*

      Do not bring it up. If asked how soon you can start, cite the standard 2 weeks. Even if you get an offer on the spot, you will not start right away due to various paperwork. This applies to normal office jobs, of course.

  55. There. Signed the notes*

    Pissed off today. I work for a private practice, providing counseling to clients. Because I am a new social worker, insurance requires a supervisor to sign off on clinical notes. This pay period, I’m missing out on payments for four sessions because my former supervisor (was recently transferred to a new supervisor because the former supervisor had too many supervisees) didn’t sign off on the notes. The new supervisor can’t do it because she wasn’t my supervisor at the time.

    When I politely reached out to my old supervisor (who is also the owner of the practice) to let her know about the issue, she blew up my phone with 12 texts in a row talking about how she’s always been generous and patient with me, how there’s no need to accuse her, how I would get the money during the next pay period, how reacting this way is a poor reflection of how I would react with clients when times get difficult. I apologized on the off chance that I might have been rude. But I don’t think I was. The supervisor said “There. Signed the notes.” But the notes remain unsigned. And she has not felt the need to apologize.

    This practice advertises itself as a therapy practice that enables women and minorities to reach their full potential.

    1. Colette*

      I am unclear about why your paycheck requires a signature. It sounds like the practice requires the signature so they can get paid, but that shouldn’t be your problem.

      Is there anyone above your supervisor you can talk to?

      1. Colette*

        Sorry, I see she is the owner of the practice. But if there’s a payroll person, it might be worth talking to them.

        1. There. Signed the notes*

          The payroll person is the owner’s assistant. I tried that before I reached out to the supervisor. The payroll person was the one who initially let me know that these notes would not be counted for that pay period.

          The owner said this (holding pay for that pay period) is the policy if notes are not fully signed. This policy is not written down anywhere except in one of the owner’s 12 texts to me. Even though I completed the notes the same day I provided services and signed them, insurance does not pay unless the notes are co-signed by a supervisor. So she should have done her job and co-signed them if she expects insurance to pay the company for services.

          1. Colette*

            Then I would be googling the laws re: paychecks in your state. I’m not sure how you’re classified (i.e. employee or contractor), but that may be a means to push back.

            1. WellRed*

              I’d probably also start looking fir a new job. Paying employees is the absolute minimum employers must do and your boss not only failed at that, she then turned around and crapped on you for bringing it up. None of this happened s normal and it’s not good.

              1. Sloanicota*

                Could be the first sign of trouble, too. I had a job once where weird things started happening with missed paychecks and pushback from the boss. It turns out it was the tip of the iceberg. The place was in financial difficulties and later closed.

    2. NaoNao*

      Wow this is crappy!
      It sounds like she’s defensive because she feels (rightly) that you have a right to be upset and she’s messing with your money.
      I’m not sure how I’d handle this–maybe take a day or two and cool off and then send an email (not a text) and maybe do the “I’m surprised at this” angle

      “Hi Jobrina–I was a bit taken aback at the reaction from the request to sign the notes the other day. I can assure you that how I handle inter-office items and payroll requests is completely different than I speak to my clients or handle the [whatever on earth she’s talking about ‘times getting tough’–like lean times when you don’t have clients? insurance not paying out?]. It hasn’t been my experience that this request has resulted in that kind of reaction in the past, so again apologies if I’ve stepped on toes. Going forward I’ll be sure to flag such requests earlier in the game.”

      or something?

  56. Cyndi*

    This is more of a work-adjacent question so if people think it’s better suited to the weekend post, I’ll take it there!

    I’m God-awful at mornings, for what I now know are executive dysfunction reasons. I often say that morning Cyndi, from the time she wakes up to about the time she gets to work, is a separate person who’s out to get me. People think I’m joking but the only way to keep my life mostly in order is to act like it’s true. I’ve pared down my morning routine as far as possible so that all I have to trust Morning Cyndi with is taking her meds, brushing her teeth, putting on the clothes I left out for her and grabbing the lunch bag I already packed–just the things that absolutely can’t be done the night before, or after I get to my desk.

    It’s a bit grim, though, waking up every morning with the mindset of having to wrangle myself like a feral cat! I’ve been working on forming a nighttime routine that’s actually enjoyable, and sleep hygiene advice always talks a lot about having something pleasant to look forward to in the morning. Does anyone have any ideas about how I can make my mornings more pleasant–WITHOUT adding any more steps I’d have to trust Morning Cyndi with? All I can think of is a coffee machine with a timer, but I’m already pretty happy with my current Dunkin routine. I tried setting my alarm clock app to use a Spotify playlist as my alarm, but it doesn’t always work so the risk of sleeping through my alarm isn’t worth it.

    1. Ginger Baker*

      At the risk of sounding very (very) cheesy, what about when you first put your feet on the floor, saying “Today is going to be a great day”. (100% cribbed from Tiny Habits, a book I ADORE…)

      It fits your feral morning requirements because it is very very small and doesn’t add any real time or risk disrupting your alarm, but also is just a bit of cheer in the morning (add in a dance move if you feel like it…)

      I also do really like using a light alarm clock (in addition to the one you know works for you, not in replacement of it), I find that for the heaviest sleepers in my family it makes a big difference in how smoothly they wake up.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Put some lights on timers. It’s nice to have lights when you wake up. (I upgraded to a sunrise alarm clock but that’s about 10x more expensive than a simple outlet timer).

      Do you eat breakfast? I sometimes save myself a treat for the morning, like the fancy almond milk, or a cold brew coffee I picked up the day before. Fancy bagels is another. It’s a little gift from past you for grumpy morning you.

      I usually read in bed before I get up, I look forward to reading so for me that’s an easy one and gives my brain a little time to process before needing to move.

      A old fashioned radio or CD player would let you have one button to have music in the morning without risking your alarm clock on your phone malfunctioning. (Likewise a 10 dollar alarm clock could let you use your phone app for spotify without losing the alarm).

      Upgrading things you use in your morning routine are another option, maybe that’s a fancier face cream, maybe its fluffy bathrobe and slippers, maybe its a creative pill organizer that makes you smile. So you’re not adding to routine your just making routine nicer.

    3. Fiona*

      I’m not a morning person at all and I will say that getting a clock radio has been a nice thing that softens the waking experience ever-so-slightly. You can use your phone as a backup just in case, so you can sleep without worrying. There’s something about waking up to a different audio sound each day that is so much better than the harsh iPhone jingle – plus the slight staticky nature of FM radio feels nostalgic to me. I tried to get a modern one and they came with all kinds of unnecessary Bluetooth-y add-ons so I ended up going on Ebay and getting one of the classic 80s ones from my childhood for like $30.

    4. Hillary*

      This is going to sound weird, but you might want to talk to a sleep medicine specialist and get a sleep study if it’s reasonable financially. You just described me five years ago. Turns out I have two different sleep disorders, which were why I couldn’t get up in the morning. It took a while to find the right combination of treatments but I’m a new person.

    5. GlowCloud*

      If you tend to be fine once you get into work, could you perhaps get up about half an hour earlier in the morning, just to give yourself more time to wake up, start moving, and become alert before heading to work? Like you, I have streamlined my morning routine by making everything ready the night before, but I don’t like to rush.
      I make a little time to do word puzzles over breakfast, as I think it helps my brain to pull itself into focus. I can also use those few extra minutes to potentially remember or fix something before I leave the house.

      I am not at all qualified to give sleep advice, but I once heard on a radio programme about REM sleep, that cycles typically last about 45 minutes from start to finish – and so I have tried to time my sleep patterns in multiples of 90 minutes. Anecdotally, I seem to be more well-rested, or at least a little less groggy when my alarm goes off at 6am, if my head hit the pillow at 10:30 (7.5 hours) instead of 10:50, or even 10pm (8 hours).
      I have also personally found a sunrise alarm clock lamp (simulates sunrise by gradually brightening 5 minutes before the alarm sound) to take the edge off my wake-up time, so that I can be more alert.

    6. Tio*

      Maybe a nice podcast you like that you only listen to in the mornings? Like a fun little comedy podcast or something reserved only for Morning Cyndi that she can listen to while she puts her clothes on and brushes her teeth and whatnot.

    7. AnotherLibrarian*

      One of the things that I bought on a whim and that is not my favorite thing ever is a alarm clock that lights up. It gets brighter slowly to mimic the sunrise. I bought it, because I live in a place that is dark a LOT in the winter, but I love it in the summer too. Something about “waking up” in light really does a lot for my mood. It’s a tiny thing, but man… it is such a wonderful clock. Some of the fancier models come with different alarms settings- like birds or seashore. Anyway, it’s amazing. Love it.

    8. NaoNao*

      Wake up light! “Hatch Baby” (it’s not just for babies) is a really cool little thing that you plug in, connect to wireless, and set up on your schedule and it does a mini sunrise in your room on cue. It also can do chirping birds, and it does a wind-down goodnight routine too.

      I will say the one weirdest trick ever is one time in Cosmo magazine of all places, I read that ruminating in bed is bad for one, so I tell myself that when I’m tempted to lay there mentally grumbling and not wanting to get up.

      Also, a treat! Whether it’s a new outfit, a fun breakfast item, a new soap or shampooh, a podcast on the way to work–having something to bribe yourself helps. :)

    9. WestsideStory*

      Plan on little treats on your way from home to work. When I had to commute at godawful 6 am it was a struggle for me every morning, as I am not a night person either. But I’ve always been a visual person, so I learned to look forward to the things in my path that were positive. In my case it was:
      – noticing the flowers in the corner bodega flower stand, always different with the seasons
      – saying hello and getting a smile but the security guard at the office tower on the way to the subway to the train station
      – counting how many people in the subway car were reading, as opposed to how many were looking at their phones
      – picking up the free newspaper (the one with the easy crossword puzzle)
      – snagging the window seat on the express train so I could watch the sun come up over the river when we passed it

      Look for beauty around you. It is there. All this gave me something to look forward to each day.

    10. cncx*

      I wake up two hours before I have to walk out so I’m not even grumpier because I have to rush. I caffeinate, I eat a nourishing breakfast, I take my time. It’s the only way not to stab ppl in the train. What makes me the worst version of me is feeling like I have to hustle, so I deliberately bank time to move as slowly as possible in the am.
      I live alone and that helps.

  57. Anxious Accountant*

    How do you time giving a two weeks notice to your company when you know they won’t let you work it out?

    I’d rather work it so I can help wrap up some projects and leave on a good note, but I know historically our HR department has just kicked people out the door the second they give notice.

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      Well if they make you leave immediately and don’t let you work a notice period to wrap up projects, then all negative repercussions of that is on them.

      But if you know they’re going to kick you out and you reallllly want to wrap something up, then your only option is to get all of that done before you give notice.

    2. Mrs. Peaches*

      If you have a high degree of trust with your manager and/or your projects are extremely important to transition properly, you could share your plans with them and ask them to arrange for you to wrap up before you formally give notice. If you’re not comfortable with that, I think the best you can do is quietly document your work and tie up loose ends where possible.

      1. Anxious Accountant*

        Thanks! My manager and I are pretty close, so I think he’ll be understanding about it. Fortunately, most of my projects are pretty self contained so I’m leaning towards wrapping up as much as I can over the next week or so and giving him a heads up then.

        My guess in that case is that I’ll probably be given an official week from HR to wrap everything up. Or since most of my projects will directly impact his ability to take PTO

        I also don’t have an official offer in hand at the moment, though I’m expecting to receive at least one, per the hiring Manger, early next week. I’m aiming to hopefully negotiate a start date for next month or late this current month if that comes to fruition. Just trying to get all of my ducks in a row mentally.

        1. Squeakrad*

          And I’m hoping of course, that you know that you shouldn’t give notice until you have that offer in hand, right?

    1. L. Ron Jeremy*

      I thought we had one of those several weeks ago. I remember the highlights on AAM.

  58. Outraged*

    Having spoken to some lawyers I know it seems that this is legal, but I am deeply incensed after the owners of my company sent an email to all employees with a “fact sheet” about the candidates in a very important and hotly contested upcoming local election, which was essentially propaganda for the truly vile Republican candidate who, among other things, is running on an explicitly anti-trans platform. I’m not out at work because of the deeply conservative environment, but I’m non-binary so this hits especially close to home. I was already actively job searching but this has me wanting to quit without something else lined up. Please talk me into or out of it! I have enough savings to get by for a bit but having lived below the poverty line in the past I have a lot of financial anxiety.

    1. by golly*

      I’ve got nothing to offer one way or the other, but I’m so sorry that this is your work environment. Whether you stay or go, please keep remembering that this is not ok and not normal.

    2. RagingADHD*

      I am sorry you are dealing with this. Since you say you want to be talked out of quitting, I would suggest considering the overall climate of the area where you live. Is there even another organization with a comparable role, where the culture is so profoundly different than the company you’re in now that you can be pretty sure the same thing wouldn’t happen? Or something equally gross?

      Don’t quit unless you have confidence you’d be going someplace better.

    3. PollyQ*

      Don’t quit, but do keep job-hunting. Conventional wisdom is that we’re headed into a recession, so any time off could be longer than expected. It’s also conventional wisdom that it’s easier to get that new job while you’re still employed.

      But for sure, I don’t blame you for your feelings!

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Seconding PollyQ’s and RagingADHD’s advice. Keep job hunting, and stay in this job as long as is bearable. You can always quit later if things continue to be bad/get worse. It’s usually easier to find a job when you have a job, and the steady income will allow you to assess whether an offer will lead to a better environment than your current one.

        Also, I’m sorry you have to deal with this :(

  59. Entry Level Llama Wrangler*

    SM playing favourites with ASM’s sister?

    My ASM hired her sister for a position at our store last summer. It was supposed to be a temporary job. She was placed, as per company policy, in a department not under my ASM’s supervision. (However the department manager she was placed under is close personal family friends of the ASM). The DM ended up spreading rumors about the sister’s work ethic, and that she only got the job about the ASM, so the sister was promptly removed from the department and put in a department that ASM is heavily involved in. I personally haven’t interacted with her enough but have heard stories about her being abrasive/hostile with younger coworkers/exes of her ex-boyfriend (she dated someone who promptly left the store after they broke up). Apparently one of the cashiers called HR about it and did inform them about the following, but nothing has changed.

    Sister and SM (Store Manager) have coffee breakfasts together, eat lunch together, clean snow off each other’s cars, and spend a lot of time in his office talking with the door closed (in order to get to the lunch room you have to pass his office). He’s in his mid-40s, married with kids, and she’s in her early twenties. A couple of DMs have complained about her work, saying that she plays candy crush constantly on her phone/hides in the lunchroom when the SM and ASM aren’t here. My department (llama ordering) works closely with hers (llama selling) but she has yet to give me or any of my coworkers an order. Our SM keeps claiming she’s a good worker, and the close relationship the SM and her have has kind of made it clear to DMs that they can’t complain, putting them in an awkward position.

    The workers in her department are expected to walk the sales floor frequently and are assigned specific departments to ensure the llamas we need for their customers are in stock. This is something each employee does individually, with a clipboard from the DM.

    The past week, sister and SM have been walking the floor TOGETHER side by side, laughing and having a great time. It makes it more obvious beyond the closed office door that something isn’t quite right.

    Some people have theories that they’re sleeping together, (I know a lot of male managers tend to care about the optics of being alone all the time with a young worker, but idk).

    Personally, I think it’s because our ASM (her older sister) is about to go on maternity leave, and he thinks he can groom sister into replacing her “temporarily” thus circumventing the necessary experience needed for her to be an ASM. (1 year of department manager experience in each department). If he does that though, all hell will break loose. A lot of people are catching onto this, (SM honestly didn’t talk to anybody before the sister joined the store, kind of stand-offish) and come to me to vent because I honestly just listen. Should I be telling them to call HR again with their concerns?

    Shouldn’t he be more worried about the optics of this situation?

    1. Colette*

      This sounds like something that’s not your prolbem.

      Stop listening, and stop paying attention to what they’re doing. I agree it sounds like something’s off, but getting involved will not help you in any way.

      Some phrases to use:
      “You’ve mentioned this before, but it’s not something I can help with.”
      “You know, it does all women a disservice when you speculate that someone has their job because they’re sleeping with the boss.”
      “That’s above my pay grade, let’s talk about something else”

  60. Sheila*

    I haaaaaaaaate job hunting.

    I tailor and re-tailor my resume. I pore over postings. I craft carefully written cover letters. Most of the time I never hear anything back. I talk to recruiters and they ghost me. I add people on LinkedIn and then I keep seeing their updates. (Do you guys un-link from people when you’ve added them related to a job opportunity and it falls through, if you’re unlikely to ever need to interact with them again?)

    I got burned out on applying, and I had a promising chance to apply for a promotion that I’d be a unicorn candidate for, so I paused my external search (more because I was burned out than because of the promotion app…). The promotion seems to have fizzled, no news for weeks, and now I need to start my job search again and I. Don’t. Wanna.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Job hunting sucks. It is terrible. It is soul-sucking and demoralizing and tedious. Even when it goes well.

      You can take a break. Make a new plan– try job hunting only using your network. Reach out to be people you know (if you can trust them not to tell your current company). See how that feels for a while. You can always go back to responding to posted jobs.

    2. rayray*

      in the same club.

      I ranted about it on my drive to work today, it felt good just to get my feelings out.

  61. JustAnswerTheQuestion!!*

    For those who do a lot of training over the phone. What specific ways and scripts do you use to quiet an over explainer when you are not physically there and do not have cameras on? (I am tempted into their computers). In person I can use body language or pull them aside. Here I don’t have the phone or email. She is senior so I can’t ask someone in the company to have a word.
    I have one who if I ask if they do A or B will give me the history of both, what they are for and never answer the dangumb question! I’ve tried ‘with a one word answer, tell me…’, tried ‘we can’t lose focus’ ‘ we don’t have the time for discussion on these items’ to no avail; I’ve even said to the group we are losing valuable time with extended discussions. These really are things that should be rapid fire responses! Share your scripts with me friends! I’m losing patience and they are not getting the full value of my time.

    1. by golly*

      “I don’t want to derail the conversation, but is there a quick answer to…”
      And then if she hems and haws say “ok. I guess not. Can we talk about it later?” And be really clear about moving back to the original thought pattern at that point.
      But honestly, it sounds like you’ve done a lot and this just might not be possible with this person. (I’ve also tried humor…of the sort of “I’m being the bad guy here to keep us all on task so I’m going to make a buzzer sound every time anyone answers a question with more than one sentence” sometimes that works, sometimes it just pisses people off.

      1. JustAnswerTheQuestion!!*

        I am okay with pissing her off at this point. Lovely person, but is so invested in, I assume, making sure we know she belongs that in a 24 hour contract spread over days, we are at about 3-4 hours behind. Today I was just saying ‘No. ‘ without context. Hate to be rude, but jeeez

  62. gmg22*

    Has anyone ever been through a process of organizational evolution where the … I guess, the power dynamic of your org shifted in a way that no one was quite prepared for? My research nonprofit is international in scope and has several regional teams; I work in a support role for the oldest one that covers the country where we’re headquartered. Over the past several years, my team has, undeniably, lost the unofficial mantle of highest-profile/highest-performing team; we’ve had several leadership transitions and other staff turnover in the past several years, and we operate in an ever-shifting and challenging political context for the work we do.

    The team that has risen to the top, metaphorically speaking, covers a different part of the world that among other things offers a bit more clearly fertile ground for our work, and they have stable and really dynamic leadership. They’re now larger than our team, too, though allegedly still cost our org less (maybe because more of them are younger with lower salaries). They’re honestly killing it, and purely from a collegial standpoint I’m all for it. What I struggle with is the pressure and mixed messages from upper management about this phenomenon. If the goal is to motivate my team to be upfront about our challenges and plan for the medium-term, they are quite frankly doing the opposite. Mostly the vibe emanating in our direction feels vague, impatient and passive-aggressive.

    I’m trying to hang on because to leave in the next few years would be to forfeit a significant benefit I’ve been working toward for a long time. But if the next few years means more of the same or worse, then I dunno. Any change-management-type experience along these lines or wisdom to share?

    1. Camelid coordinator*

      I don’t have any advice, sorry! There was a point at which I was more than ready to leave my higher ed job and then realized if I just hung on for three years I’d be eligible for important benefits (like college tuition assistance for my kid) later. I remember a friend saying you can do anything for three years, which seemed true. Now that I am on the other side I am not so sure! Of course in my case the first year had March of 2020 in it and then the other years had all the subsequent adjustments. I guess what I am saying is that the next few years could change wildly and that you don’t need to plan now.

  63. double agent*

    I have a job interview (including a presentation) coming up in 2 weeks and I’m already anxious. Tips for calming nerves would be appreciated, as well as navigating feeling like a double agent around my current colleagues who don’t know I’m applying for other things!

    1. funkytown*

      You’re not a double agent for apply to jobs! It’s not your colleagues’ business to know that and you aren’t doing anything wrong to not share. For all you know some of them are looking too. I find that my anxiety is most helped by action, so prepping well for the questions and researching what I can about the company and preparing my key facts/anecdotes about my skills relevant to the role I’m applying to. And then trying to let go of the outcome and doing something fun to distract myself. Good luck on the interview!

      1. double agent*

        Thank you, funkytown! The anxiety is messing with my preparation but I’m taking it in bite size chunks at the moment which is helping. Appreciate your comment

  64. by golly*

    So, I’m the director of a program that essentially functions like a small non-profit, although we actually work in a much larger organization. I have accepted another position and will be leaving in 2 months. I manage a team of 10 people, and I am the only person that supervises their work. I have a supervisor in name, but she doesn’t know much about our work and is not equipped to step in and cover for me or even train someone new to be the new director. If you were on my staff, what would you want to hear from me at this point? I’m going to give notice next week, so that there can hopefully be overlap with a new person, but the experience tells me that the replacement process will go very slowly and there’s no guarantee of that. The only thing I really care about is the well being of my staff in this transition. Are there specific things I can do to support them?

    1. MsM*

      Who on your team actually is equipped to fill the gaps until there’s new management? Can you talk to your supervisor about empowering those people to make decisions in their areas of expertise (or at least make sure she knows to listen to their recommendations) in the interim?

      1. by golly*

        That’s a good question. To a large degree, I think folks will have autonomy, and with the support of our business office we should be able to keep operating. But I’m hearing you say that reassuring people that they have the power to make decisions in their area of expertise would be key. I like that.

  65. Rachel*

    I’ve noticed recently that I struggle with soft skills in zoom meetings. We keep our cameras off, which is great, but whenever I would normally respond by smiling and nodding, I just… don’t know what to do. I end up saying nothing. People will say nice, low-stakes things like ‘I know you’re busy, thanks for being on the call’ and I’ll flounder silently for a few seconds before the conversation moves on. Is this something that will get better with time? Does anyone else experience this? Do you have any all-purpose scripts I can adopt? It feels awful.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      For places where you would usually nod along to show that you are listening, a verbal “uh huh” or “yep” is a fair substitute for a phone call/camera-less zoom meeting. (Any sound that is short and positive will work to replace a smile and nod.)

      For responses to things along the lines of “‘I know you’re busy, thanks for being on the call,” I would respond with a “no problem!” or “of course!” Again, relatively short, positive, and acknowledges that you heard them.

      1. Rachel*

        Thank you, I think I will try literally rotating between ‘oh, of course!’, ‘sure!’ and ‘no worries!’ for a bit (I may even put up a post-it note behind my screen). That may sound overly scripted, but the thing is I *know* I should say stuff like this, and I still go blank in the moment! I think it will get better with practice.

  66. Mia*

    Looking for some first-time resume guidance for my college freshman kid. He has an opportunity for an internship and needs a resume (no cover letter) to include with the application. While I often help high schoolers craft resumes that match their career training, I’ve not had to help someone with this type of goal before. I’ve got a few questions on what to have him include/leave off that I’m hoping folks can guide us on:

    1. Career objective: does he include one? If so, should it be tailored to the intern position(s) he’s applying for, or more towards his post-college career plans?

    2. Education info: just names/dates of high school and college, or should he list/highlight specific courses, such as science courses that have a correlation to the work he’s hoping to do in the intern role?

    3. Activities: his high school activities were limited to athletics, and as an above average kid in an obnoxiously overachieving class, he didn’t have any special recognition or awards from high school. Does he just leave this area off of his resume all together, or should he list his athletic activities to show he was involved in things in high school?

    Thanks for any and all help you can offer!

    1. by golly*

      I hire intern-like folks early in college. I always like to see related course work because it tells me 1) they are interested in the field, not just a generic internship and 2) they might have at least a school-level background in the related topics so they have something to hang new learning on to. As for athletics, if it shows that he is responsible or can take leadership or help others learn or something, (and if he can connect the dots to a work environment) I think it is positive to include. If it’s just “I was on the basketball team for one year.” it’s less helpful “Promoted team unity during transition of coaches and kept morale up while we lost every single game” Would impress me more.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      When I was applying for internships in college, my resume was formatted roughly like this:

      Name and contact info

      Education (name of college, name of degree, expected grad date, and a line underneath with the clubs I was in)

      Work Experience (prior to my first internship, these were all of my unrelated high school jobs–think camp counselor, food service, retail, etc.)

      Class Projects (this is where I put projects from my college courses that related to skills I would use during my internships)

      Because he’s a freshman, I think it’s fine for him to include high school activities underneath listing the name/dates of his high school:

      Anytown High School 2018 – 2022
      Athletics: Swim Team, Indoor Track, Baseball

    3. Trina*

      When you say “no cover letter”, do you mean that it’s not required or that they were explicitly instructed to not include one? It really feels like all the extra content he’s hoping to work into the resume would be so much easier as a cover letter – which, if not expressly forbidden, could be just the first page of his “resume” document.

      If it really, really, has to be resume-only, I think highlighting relevant class courses would be a great idea! I would list the athletics, since working with teammates and coaches could involve some of the soft skills that can translate to being a good coworker and employee (or at least I assume, I was never in sports!). I wouldn’t include an objective.

      1. Mia*

        Yes, the application is an online one with the upload option for a single document and they specify a resume. I agree that in this instance a cover letter could be useful, but since they are specifically requiring the resume he’ll just do that.

    4. Mia*

      Thanks all! Your responses match up with what was I thinking would be the way to go, so I appreciate that.

  67. Shiny Penny*

    Does anyone else avoid disclosing the name of the company they work for to their friends and family? I just accepted a position at the parent company of an extremely well known and popular gaming console. I’m hesitant to tell people who my new employer is; I had mentioned interviewing with them to a few people and they immediately asked if they could have my discount or the free stuff they think I would get. I’m considering distancing myself from those individuals too because it comes across as rude and entitled because the common theme is “that’s not fair since I’m not a gamer so I should OF COURSE give it to someone else.”

    1. Hanani*

      Sure, phrases like “I work as a [job title]” or “I’m a [job title]” are a good way to avoid naming the company. If someone says “where at?”, you can say “a electronics company” and then promptly ask them a question, or say “oh, let’s talk about not-work”, or similar. Move the conversation along in a quick, breezy, friendly way.

    2. A Taxing Person*

      I avoid telling more distant family and people I just meet that I work for the IRS. People complain or they hate me or they all want free tax advice (and I work in a narrow silo and usually don’t know much, if anything about their issues). I usually just say I’m a CSR and that I work in finance or sometimes I might say I work for the guv’mint, or maybe even the Treasury (which, technically, I do).

    3. Roland*

      Is it weird to ask your friends to share a discount with them? I knew people at Microsoft and they were happy to let me use their internal Microsoft Store prices. Are they not close enough friends? I also think people are sometimes joking. I work for a company that lets me give some product away to friends, and when people say “can I have some free X” and I reply “yeah sure gimme your address ” they are sometimes surprised because they were really just bantering.

      1. Shiny Penny*

        I’m not opposed to offering the use of a discount but it was the immediate pivot to how could this benefit them followed with an argument as to why they deserve to use it more than I do that really bothered me. I haven’t even had my first day yet so I have no idea what the perks actual are. Now I don’t want to tell anyone else because I hate feeling this disappointed and let down by people I thought were close friends and family. And honestly I don’t care about those kind of perks and can never envision a point when I would make use of them but I don’t like being treated like a conduit to a commodity instead of a person whose happens to also work for a company they’ve heard of.

    4. Fushi*

      I’ve worked in videogames for a decade and have literally never had this problem, so I think distancing yourself from the greedy folks and carrying on as normal with everybody else is the way to go. The vast majority of people (even gamers!) can behave themselves and show interest in your company without demanding free stuff.

  68. Marion the Librarian*

    Looking for a reality check about my new workplace’s culture.

    I’ve been in my role at this nonprofit for about 9 months and I’ve started to feel out of sync with everyone else. The org is small (10 people) and everyone that works there is within the same 10 year age range, cisgender women. Most people are friends outside of work as well.

    One of my teammate’s went 0n a cruise earlier this year, had a great time and joked the organization should go on a cruise together. Well, that joked turned into actual plans where now almost everyone but me is going in a few months. I will also add, our boss is going on the trip as well. We all have to pay our own way and will need to drive 8 hours to get the the cruise departure location. I’ve told everyone that this trip is outside my budget, which is true. But also, the idea of taking a 5 day trip with my coworkers sounds like hell!

    Does this sound like a place I want to be longterm if this is the culture?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      For me, it would depend on how everyone acts after the cruise. If there are a few inside jokes for the first couple of days, and the coworkers ask how my week was while they were gone, and then everything is pretty much like it was before the cruise in a week or two, I would be fine with that culture.

      If instead when they all return the inside jokes are rampant and unrelenting, invitations to other (shorter, lower cost) social activities are for cruise-goers only, and they develop into a clique that does not include me, then that would not be the culture for me.

      After I typed all that out, I see that the cruise is not for another few months and I think all of the above applies to pre-cruise talk too. Obviously, they’ll talk about cruise plans and logistics a bit in the lead-up because everyone is already at work and it’s convenient for them, but if it’s the only thing they talk about and they never ask about things going on in your life, that’s not good.

    2. The Ginger Ginger*

      I think if you’re not interested in that level of personal investment in your coworkers (WHICH I WOULDN’T EITHER HOLY COW) long term it’s going to impact your relationship with your coworkers whether they are conscious of it or not. It’s a natural setup for you to be an “outsider” which can easily lead to missed opportunities. I don’t think it’s an emergency, but I would start casually searching.

      Also, how does it work that the whole office will be gone at the same time? Who’s going to cover the work? And they BETTER NOT expect you to cover everything just because you can’t go. The logistics questions I have about this or multitude.

      1. Marion the Librarian*

        Thank you for this, you are spot on! I think no one has thought through these logistical questions, so it will be interesting to see how everything shakes out in the next few months. Our office isn’t really open to the public and is in a building with other businesses, with a front desk that manages deliveries and visitors. So we can theoretically “close” the office while everyone else is away. But yeah, I don’t love the idea of taking on more work while everyone else is traveling.

        I will add that when this cruise was first presented to the group in a meeting, our boss volunteered to stay behind and “hold down the fort.” But when I asked my co-worker who is organizing the trip about who all was going, she said everyone but me :). She also stressed I could still go and bunk in someone’s room (everyone is sharing cabins). Again, very hard pass on that.

        We had a staff member leave a few months ago and are looking to fill a few positions, so I’m curious how the dynamics will play out once those positions are filled.

        1. HonorBox*

          I absolutely wondered the same as The Ginger Ginger when I read you post. If everyone else is going to be gone, maybe it is going to be a fantastic week for you to get things done without having to deal with everyone else in the office. BUT if there’s additional work that you’re being assigned because you’re not going on the cruise and OF COURSE you’ll be able to cover for people, that’s not cool at all.

          With new people potentially starting around the time of the cruise, how will this look for them, too? I don’t wonder so much about the dynamics of the office with new people…rather are they going to be left high and dry (or will you be the only point person for them to go to) while everyone else is gone.

          This all seems incredibly weird to me that everyone but one person is going to be on vacation at the exact same time. I know businesses that do close (ours closes the week between Christmas and New Year’s quite often) but to be open for business while everyone skips out of town is quite strange, I think. I’m really curious to know how your board of directors (assuming since you’re a nonprofit) reacts to this sort of thing too.

        2. Cyndi*

          It sounds like your teammates + boss are well intentioned enough, albeit off base with it, that it’s worth addressing your boss directly about booking that week off for yourself and closing the office.

          It also sounds like you’re expecting the new hires to come in between now and cruise time? In which case, maybe your comfort level here is very different than mine would be, but in this situation I would feel really squirrely about being the next most recent hire and being left alone to manage the even newer people for a full week, and that might be something that’s worth bringing up too.

          1. Marion the Librarian*

            It’s very true everyone has the best intentions! I found out my boss was going on the trip yesterday, so I’ll be bringing up some of these points as the trip draws near.

            I’m not really sure when the new people will start as we’ve just posted these positions. I could see them starting right before everyone goes on the trip or after everyone comes back. The summer is our slow period in the office, so there isn’t much of a rush to fill these positions. But I agree with you that if they start before everyone leaves, it will be a little awkward with only me in the office as I work in a completely different area of the org and won’t be much help beyond basic office culture stuff.

    3. rayray*

      I would never.

      That sounds like one particularly bad version of Hell that most people would not like to be part of.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Just going on a cruise is my idea of hell, but going on a cruise with coworkers is my idea of hell to the power of infinity. And I like all my coworkers!

    4. AnotherLibrarian*

      This is banana-pants. I mean, I adore some of my coworkers and I have traveled with some of them (work related) and we have done fun things during those trips, like gone to a museum or out to a park that was out of the way- but like… a cruise? No. Personally, I would be looking, but that’s up to you.

      1. Marion the Librarian*

        Thank you for your perspective! I’ve worked other places where I have adored my co-workers and some of them are still good friends of mine to this day. At the same time, I like some boundaries between my work and personal lives and I’m starting to see this is a place where people bring their whole selves to work. Which is great for some, but not really my jam.

        There have been some other factors that have made me wonder how long I want to stay at this job (aren’t there always!), but the cruise has really pushed me towards starting to casually looking elsewhere.

  69. PX*

    Sigh. I cant tell if my boss is a micromanager or just afraid of giving up control. Maybe its the same thing, but I realised today when they asked me to explain my plan for how to tackle a project and then kept insisting it wasnt detailed enough (I’ve already given them various versions to review) and eventually said its not good enough. I didnt get any actual feedback on what was wrong, just that they didnt like it.

    Honestly, its a big sigh of relief for me to realize that its not a me problem but a them problem because I have been so frustrated with the current dynamic.

    Now to figure out how long I can live with this. Its a shame because the work and company are great but…this is not how I like to be managed.

    How was your week?!

  70. Ann O*

    I’m in a mid-level management role and I report to a AVP who does not have any background (or much interest) in our area. She is incredibly busy managing other managers and leading projects in a different area.

    I’m struggling because I don’t know what I’m supposed to be receiving from her? She doesn’t provide strategy or vision for me. She doesn’t plan or direct projects or resources. She doesn’t set goals for me or my team. She cannot answer questions or provide guidance on any specific subject areas. When things are going well, all of this works fine. When I run into problems, I am completely on my own.

    We meet weekly for 30 minutes, which is a lightening round of updates from me so she can have a high level view of my projects. What can I do to make this relationship more meaningful? What kinds of things should I be asking for? I miss having a manager who is also a mentor.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Why do your updates have to be in the meeting? Can you send her an email the night before, with both your status and your questions, and then the meeting can be used to dig into any issues and for you to get some kind of direction?

      (If she’s going to take the email as reason to cancel the meeting altogether, then scratch that idea, of course…)

      1. Ann O*

        She responds to emails by saying we’ll talk in the next scheduled meeting. I’ve tried sending updates and agendas before the meeting, but she wants to go over it anyway. She rarely cancels our meetings, but that weekly meeting is usually the only real time I get with her. She likes the face time.

        I just don’t know what *I* am supposed to be getting out of this. All of my prior managers offered direction, support, and guidance. She doesn’t know enough about the work to provide that kind of leadership. This is my first time reporting to someone who isn’t involved in the actual function in some way.

    2. If you know, you know*

      I could have written this. My immediate boss left and now my new boss is The Leader of the Org. So, she doesn’t have much time for me. You are fortunate you have weekly meetings. I would absolutely keep sending problems/issues that need a manager’s input their way. I find this helps mentally (ie, I will act like they are actually an effective manager even if they aren’t). However, the thing about having a mentor or even guidance on what you should be doing – no advice. I have a mentor outside the company but it’s not the same. Hoping other people have some good ideas! Just know you’re not alone.

  71. beep beep*

    Does anyone have tips for slowing down when speaking and giving a presentation? I’ve been giving this opening spiel for a twice-weekly office hour accompanied by a deck for… many months, and I’ve gotten some feedback that I’m going through it too fast. I used to have a lot of presentation anxiety, and it’s gotten way better with all the practice, but I guess I’ve gotten too comfortable! Help!

    1. handfulofbees*

      So when presenting, most people tend to speed up without realizing it. I don’t really have any tips except pay conscious attention to the speed. What will sound horribly slow to you is a good speed. It definitely takes practice. Maybe practice, and time yourself?

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Can you record yourself giving the presentation (or part of the presentation) and then listen to it so you can hear how rushed you sound? And then try again at a slower pace and listen to that recording, too. It will help to hear how beneficial slowing down is for the listeners.

      Two things that can help slow you down: focus on your enunciation when you talk, and take a pause (and breath!) after every sentence or two.

      1. beep beep*

        I’m definitely working on enunciation! My brain has always worked faster than my mouth can, so I tend to stumble over myself. I’ll try and emphasize it!

      2. mreasy*

        Came here to suggest recording. Also, when presenting – especially material you’re familiar with – you have to train yourself to speak much more slowly than you are compelled to. It feels awkward until you are used to it!

      3. Sloanicota*

        I’m the liturgist, and one thing I do is mark places after at least every other sentence where I’m going to pause and look at the audience.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I speak very quickly anyway, but when I present, I speed up. Normal. I spend a lot of time working on breathing, pausing, and asking if there are questions. But honestly, what really got me was something very recent– my new therapist told me that when I speed up I stop smiling. I know from experience that my “smiling face” is open and engaging and all that good stuff that helps during a presentation. It was a good thing to point out. So when I gave a presentation as part of an interview process, I paused so I could remember to smile as well as breathe, and I think it helped.

      1. beep beep*

        Huh, that’s really interesting! I’m not on camera for this presentation but I’ll try and see if smiling while I’m doing it makes a difference.

    4. Rivers*

      Stopping and taking a breath also gives those that are absorbing the information a moment to process and possibly catch up on things you just said a moment ago. Everyone absorbs info and processes at different speeds so a few seconds to breathe and collect your thoughts not only helps yourself but typically everyone overall. I am working on maintaining comfortable eye contact in presentations and group settings. You have to find that balance. Good luck and keep at it!

      1. beep beep*

        I’m not in person or on camera during my presentations, but I’ll try and take more breaths to give everyone a break- thank you!

    5. Gracely*

      If you have notes you’re using while you’re presenting, literally write in “take a breath” so that you have something reminding you to do so. Before moving to the next slide in a deck, take a pause. Maybe ask if anyone needs you to leave it up for another minute or if everyone’s following so far. Make sure to look out at everyone–if someone is still writing, then just say something like “I can see some of you are still taking notes, so I’ll wait a minute before moving on.” Bring a bottle of water/something to sip on every so often.

      Basically, build in some pauses where it’s natural, and check in with the people you’re presenting to and make sure they’ve had time to absorb the info.

      1. beep beep*

        I’ll try these! Previously while I was much more anxious I preferred to have people hold questions (presentation is a small % of the office hour time), but I’m seeing taking a pause between slides might benefit both me and the attendees. Thank you!

    6. HonorBox*

      I give a presentation several times throughout the year, and I know it like the back of my hand. It sounds like you’re in the same spot, and you may be even more comfortable than I am with mine. I’ve edited as time goes on, swapping out some examples that I use. It slows me down because I’m not “on script.” Do you have any leeway in making a few minor changes to the deck or the script? Could you change the order a bit? Could you add or change a story that you include? You’re going to be less likely to speed through it because you’re going to be presenting something new, both to the audience and to you.

      1. HonorBox*

        I’d also add that I agree with Gracely. Check in with the audience. Open up by telling them that if you are moving too quickly, or if they have questions, or you need to spend more time on something in the deck they should absolutely interrupt you. I’ve said, “Don’t be like COLLEGE ME and wait to the end of class to ask the professor a question. I would often forget what I was going to ask if I wanted. Please interrupt me if you need to, as I want to make sure this is beneficial to you.”

        1. beep beep*

          I can definitely give this thing without slides at this point, haha. Honestly, we are due for a change- I wasn’t in the meeting this morning where the final approval was supposed to be determined, but we’re making some process changes that will need to be added to my spiel. I’ll change some things up in the presentation and be more deliberate about pausing between slides for questions and we’ll see how it goes next week. Thanks!

    7. Notthemomma*

      Instead of manually forwarding the slides, put them on the timer. Practice repeatedly using that- it will force you to slow down to match the deck.

  72. kiki*

    Does anyone else struggle with feeling like they’re a low-energy person? I feel like I see people working 60 hour weeks, still having a social life, still having hobbies, etc. But I feel like when I creep up around 50 hours a week I’m completely exhausted. I’m too exhausted to work out, I don’t do any of my hobbies– I turn into a zombie who can only do the bare minimum until I have a weekend to refresh. If I do this longterm, my mental health suffers fairly quickly.

    I’m fairly young and, to my knowledge, pretty healthy. Is this a stamina thing you work up towards like working out? Or is this just who I am?

    1. The Ginger Ginger*

      I was able to do more of that when I was younger. But now that I’ve not had to do that for a while, I can’t imagine EVER going back to that level of being scheduled. I don’t think people who do that do it for long unless they truly have an exceptionally high level of energy, but I really don’t think that’s the norm. Most people just don’t sustain that level of effort for long without negative consequences to their health and wellbeing.

      Basically I don’t think people are designed for that and even if it’s common, I don’t believe it’s healthy.

    2. excel jockey*

      I think that comes down to what charges people up. If someone is getting their cup filled from work, socializing, and hobbies, then they don’t need to recover. It sounds like that isn’t the case for you, so I would think about how well your current life fits who you are. Maybe you’d do better with a job that doesn’t drain you?

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Yes to this. I work 40 hours a week, and I know that 50+ hours will turn me into a zombie. And I know I can’t socialize every single night–my sweet spot is socializing three nights a week, with the occasional week of four or five social evenings/weekend days. This is how my life works best, so this is how I structure it. And, fwiw, when I do this, I don’t feel like a low-energy person. It’s when I try to do more than this that I’m tired and cranky and feel low-energy.

    3. WhaleToDo*

      50 hours a week… Honestly, that’s still pretty high energy in my book. I consistently struggle to stay focused and engaged for even 40 hours, and then I struggle to exercise, clean my house, feed myself, and I don’t even consider hanging out with friends. And yes, this is a sad and lonely life to lead.

      I’m just seeing how long I can hold out before either my health gives out or I get fired.

      As far as I can tell, it’s mostly an innate character thing. I have seen folks who have claimed to change, but the how is different for everyone. Some people have a lifestyle change, others get treatment for a physical or mental illness, others move somewhere the climate suits them better, others get new and different jobs… And then there’s the rest of us, who struggle to get by. I’m pretty sure it’s more common than we realize, but the people who are struggling tend to not be vocal about it, so unless you live with the person you may never know how much full time employment affects them.

    4. handfulofbees*

      Oh goodness, when I was pulling 60 hour weeks, I had no energy to do anything but work and sleep. Actually fell asleep while driving into work once. Had to leave because it was just not sustainable.

      Working a normal 40 hour job, even a two day weekend doesn’t offer enough recovery time for me. Next time I have a job working 5 day/40 hours, I’m really going to need to figure out how to make that work.

    5. HigherEdAdminista*

      I’m right there with you. I was never the biggest socializer in the bunch, but once the pandemic began I was home way more and I’ve never come even close to returning to my previous levels. Awhile ago, I went out on a Sunday and I was honestly exhausted when I got home and it threw off my whole week.

      I think part of it is a stamina that you can build up. Right now, I’m used to having the weekend for chores and relaxing, so when I add in going out it’s taking away from my recharging time. If I went out more frequently, I would probably adjust my schedule and get used to it, to a degree.

      But I’m also realizing I’m not going to be that person who goes out multiple times a week or even every week. I value watching a movie at home. I value quiet time with my person. I value time with my pets. I value a cozy and tidy home. I would be sad to lose those things so I could be out every weekend. Now, I try to pick what is important to me and adds to my life and focus on doing that.

    6. Sharon*

      Yes, and I wish I’d realized long ago that many other people are able to effortlessly do things that for me require careful energy budgeting. I think the most important thing is to understand how much energy you have available and arrange your life accordingly, and/or figure out if there are things you can do medically or lifestyle-wise to increase your energy (for example, getting treated for depression or a thyroid issue, or switching to a job in a quieter environment.)

    7. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      All the time. Honestly once i get to 30 hours i’m totally tapped. I’ve never been able to manage a full-time job + a life. I’m just not capable of it and I accept this is just how I am. Remote work helps a lot.

      With a late life AuDHD diagnosis I have a new way of understanding why I personally struggle so much. (Not saying this is at all your issue.) On one hand it makes it easier to accept my limits, but on the other there’s a lot of grief tied up in that. I always hoped I’d “figure it out” someday.

    8. Irish Teacher*

      Honestly, getting exhausted after working a 50 hour week does not make you a low-energy person. That is a long week. Most people don’t work 60 hour weeks. We just hear about those who do.

      Jobs also differ as does what “hours worked” means. I am a teacher so my working week is technically 22 hours, but…that means the hours I am standing in front of a class. It does not include the 30 minutes of break supervision I am required to do each week or the 40 minutes of supervision in the library at lunchtime I do every two weeks or the 5 hours I am required to be available each week to cover for colleagues who are absent (I am asked to cover maybe 1 or 2 of those hours), let alone the time spent preparing for classes, correcting work, dealing with discipline, etc. I know people who work 40 hour weeks and complain about how “easy” I have it, when…I suspect in actual hours worked, we are pretty similar, as their jobs count all the hours they are present in the building, including time spent chatting with coworkers, taking a coffee break, etc.

      I don’t know what job you do it, but if you are in a job where 50 hours means 50 hours actively working, that’s a lot different than a job where 60 hours means being at work for 60 hours but maybe only working 40 of them

      Heck, my dad once had a job where he just had to be present in a sort of caravan in a car park each day. I assume it was to ensure nobody stole from the cars or something? (I was about 6 or 7 at the time, so I don’t know.) He spent the day listening to the radio, reading the paper and we used to visit him there and hang out for a while. Now, I would hate that job (he loved it) but as regards the energy taken, I reckon a 60 hour week in that job would require less than 30 hours waitressing or retail or something like that.

      Also people’s lives differ quite a bit. I suspect a lot of these high-energy, work-60-hours-and-still-have-time-for-hobbies people either have few responsibilities outside work or they have somebody else (a wife, a husband, a parent, people they employ) taking care of stuff like childcare, care of elderly or disabled relatives, etc and possibly a short commute as well.

      I have a friend who has an hour + commute each day and a toddler daughter. That is a lot of responsibility and need for energy before she gets to work at all.

      Plus, as somebody else indicated, there is the introvert/extrovert difference. While a lot of people seem to think that is about shy people versus confident people, it’s usually more about where people get their energy. Extroverts find socialising gives them energy, whereas introverts find it requires energy. It’s not that extrovert have more energy; it’s that socialising and hobbies tends to help them relax when they are low on energy, whereas introverts find the opposite. I remember being really confused after my last Leaving Cert. exam when so many of my classmates were making plans to go out celebrating that night. How could they still have the energy for that after a year of frantic studying? It’s only now as an adult that I realise that to them, socialising wasn’t an extra committment that they needed energy for. They were as exhausted and stressed as I was and that was why they needed to go out, because that helped them relax. (I went out with my friends the weekend after the exams ended, after I’d taken some time to relax first.)

      But 50/60 hour weeks are not normal. Apart from anything else, most jobs are paid on the assumption of 40 hours. The odd week when you have to do more is reasonable, but…it’s not something you should feel you need to “work up towards.” And it will probably get harder once you have kids (if you don’t already), etc, not easier.

      It’s not low-energy, not to be doing those kind of hours. Most people aren’t, even “high-energy” people.

      Also, people exaggerate. Not necessarily intentionally. But people will say “I worked nearly 60 hours last week!” when it may have been 54 and they won’t mention the week they only did 25 hours, not because they are trying to fake anything but because that isn’t something to complain about.

    9. Angstrom*

      You hear and read about those exceptionally energetic people because they are exceptional.

      Some professions are known for long hours and attract those types of people. There’s usually a high burnout rate.

    10. Paris Geller*

      I feel this so much! I enjoy my job, but even working your standard 40 hours a week, I feel like I have very little time/energy for all the things I want to do. I know part of it is health-related (I take meds for anxiety/depression & I also have sleep apnea, which I do use a CPAP for), but in the past year I’ve really tried coming to terms with this by embracing a simple life. If you’re on reddit, the r/simpleliving subreddit has helped me embrace simplicity a lot! I feel less like I have to do all the things and can concentrate more on what I need/WANT to do.

    11. Chaordic One*

      Yes to this. I tend to be an introverted person and my job involves a lot of customer service and emotional labor. Then I come home to my elderly parents who are bored and want conversation and stimulation and I’m not able to give them as much as I would like to. They don’t really get that I need some time to recharge. I did better when I had jobs that didn’t have all that conversation or where I didn’t have to work in an open office and put up with all of the distractions of my extraverted (and big-mouthed) co-workers. Unfortunately, the kind of jobs like that, doing things like filing or data entry or stocking shelves, didn’t pay very well.

    12. Sloanicota*

      The people who work 50-plus hours a week and thrive are “live to work” people. Work fuels them. I’m very much a “work to live” person so I need way, way more time off to feel good.

    13. M.*

      You’re in good company! By the end of the week, I’m wiped, and I’ve mostly stopped scheduling any social events or activities on Friday night because I know I’ll be a zombie and won’t enjoy (or cause others to not enjoy).

  73. Newly Ill*

    Hi all- how do you suggest deciding if, when, and how to tell a boss about murky health issues?

    I’m less than a year into a quota carrying role. My performance has been good for most of that time. It’s nosedived recently as I’ve been hit with bizarre symptoms that could be an easy to fix issue or serious lifelong condition. We’ve been running tests and aren’t closer to answers yet. Thankfully, everyone at work has been having a hard time so I haven’t stood out, but that’s now changing.

    It’s possible that the next test will have my health answer and my performance can be chalked up to a bad quarter. It’s also possible it’s only going to get worse. My attendance is already being affected.

    My boss is very nice and seems like he’s be understanding. However I’m worried that the sales environment, plus the lack of diagnosis, plus general attitude about illness is going to impact the situation. People suffer personal tragedies all the time (which I don’t even have yet) so I’m also not sure if I just need to work harder at not letting it affect my performance. (This is tricky, as I don’t mean to imply illness is something to just get over. I’m just new to it and don’t know my limits or where I can push myself.)

    What factors should I take into consideration while I figure out how to handle this?

    (Key word so I can find my post later- teal octopus)

    1. Whomst*

      I’m not exactly the best at this, but I do have some experience – I was diagnosed with a chronic and incurable condition almost 2 years ago, and I was experiencing symptoms for a couple years before that. I’ve worked at the same place throughout. Here’s some things I’ve learned:

      – No one actually wants to hear details, except for juicy gossip purposes, and that isn’t something you want to encourage. “Professionalism” when chronically ill means that all you talk about “symptoms” and not “diarrhea” or “pain” or “dizziness” or whatever the symptoms actually are.

      – Talk with your boss as soon as it’s apparent the issues aren’t going away, even if you’re just working with a doctor towards a diagnosis. A boss who is willing to work with human beings instead of automata likes it when you deal with problems proactively. (or at least look like you’re trying to)

      – Even if you boss is supportive, it’s unlikely they’ll actually suggest anything to help with your workload. As confused as you are about your performance level and limitations, they have even less data and are thus not equipped to give excellent advice. They may have advice on things they have seen work previously, they probably don’t. Be aware that even if you don’t have a diagnosis yet, you can ask for ADA accommodations or FMLA. Sometimes bosses can be flexible about when you need to use sick time for doctor’s appointments and when you can just leave early without having to take PTO.

      – If this is actually a chronic condition, you’re going to go through the stages of grief over and over again. It’s very likely you’ll experience some level of depression – don’t let it blindside you. Your purpose in life is not to work, and if you spend all your time and energy working, you’re gonna get super depressed.

  74. Scattered analyst*

    I work in finance and want to advance in my career in the next year or two, but I have ADHD and really need structure to consistently perform well. At this point moving up would mean being a subject matter expert for upper management, where I’d be expected to work independently with little to no hand-holding. I can create structure for myself with clear expectations, making sure I know exactly what is needed from me and when, but I think that really comes down to management style, and a busy executive who is used to making more general requests may not be able to accommodate that. Any advice for screening potential roles for fit without opening myself up to stigma?

    1. ferrina*

      Fellow ADHDer here!
      Management style will make a difference, but your working style will make the biggest difference.
      A lot of this you are going to need to create for yourself. As you move higher up the corporate ladder, you’re going to have to work with more ambiguity. I’ve even included that in job descriptions (not in finance)- “able to work well under changing circumstances with little guidance” Read: Ambiguity.

      Some tips:
      -Practice setting expectations for yourself. Write your own job description that includes more structure. Some of these will be really basic- I struggle with email, so I have to set a time limit on how long an email should be answered.
      -Figure out what questions to ask to get the information you need from your manager. You won’t be able to ask as many questions as you want, so figure out how to get what you need in as few questions as possible. Example: “When do you need this by? Is next Tuesday okay?” (exact days can help people go from the un-helpful “eventually” to “actually, I was hoping to have this by Friday”). Also: “My week is going to be busy, so I might need to put off Project Y until next week. Is that okay?”
      -Create your own timelines. Project management skills will be your best friend. If this doesn’t come naturally to you, take some project management courses (LinkedIn Learning might have some cheap ones). Then adapt the PM techniques to your style. My ADHD has me changing my organization systems every 3-6 months. Not recommended for 99% of the population, but that’s the system that works for me. Figure out where your quirks play in (do you need extra time for Step A? do you need multiple copies for Form B?) and adjust accordingly.
      -Don’t fight your quirks; maximize them. Most forms of ADHD come with quirks that can actually be an advantage. I’m constantly interested in everything- downside is that I tend to take on too much (I’ve had to develop strategies to mitigate that), but upside is that I’m delightful to talk to because I’m genuinely interested in what the other person is saying. At every job I’ve ever had, I’ve carved out a niche around interdepartmental collaborations because I’ve got a great rapport. Figure out what your ADHD superpower is and lean on your strengths.

      Start with your current role (if you can). Try setting expectations and timelines before your manager gives them to you. See if what you set aligns with what your manager says. Recalibrate accordingly.

      As you move into new roles, ask about the role. You can ask directly about the level of clear expectations- is this a role that comes with very clear expectations and guidelines, or can I expect ambiguity? You can say “I work best with XYZ” without adding “because ADHD”. Just know that the stricter criteria you give, the more limited your job search will be (which might be good! You don’t want to end up somewhere where you’re set up to fail)

  75. Hanani*

    I am tasked with creating an “offboarding” process for my direct reports. These are graduate students, they leave on good terms and we know well in advance, and we’d like to have a process that brings their time with us to a friendly and helpful close for everyone. Any suggestions? We’re not responsible for any HR/turn in keys/etc. types of things. So far what I’ve got is:

    – conversation with me about their experience, what they suggest we keep doing, and what they suggest we change (we also have regular check-ins, so this isn’t the only time when they could share feedback)
    – information about the option to pay them for additional contract work if they’re interested
    – invitation to end-of-year celebratory gathering (both current and offboarding folks are invited to this)

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Two other things I would include are:

      1 – Offer to be a reference for them (if you can and if they were a good worker).
      2 – Connect with them on LinkedIn and/or make sure they have your contact info so they can get in touch with you in the future.

      1. Hanani*

        The specific reference conversation and LinkedIn/contact info are both great suggestions, thanks!

    2. Trina*

      Are there any field-specific resources you can point them to that might not have been covered in their classes, like job boards and professional organizations? Lacking that, maybe just make sure y’all have contact info for each other so they can find you for a good reference or you can find them if an opportunity shows up that you think would be a good fit for you.

    3. AnotherLibrarian*

      Are you expecting them to jump into job-hunting after they leave? Would it be helpful for you to look at job ads with them and review their resumes? For my grad interns, I schedule a few hours to look at ads for jobs, talk to them about how to “read” the ad, how to incorporate the work they did with me into their resume, and show them how to find where to look for jobs in our field and point them to other helpful resources (like this one).

      1. Hanani*

        They’re from all different fields and mostly job hunting before they leave (as they approach graduation), but I do like the idea of offering myself up as a resource for how to read job ads in our field specifically. Thanks!

    4. beanie gee*

      What about things they learned while working their? Like what will they take from their experience that might shape their career? You could also provide feedback on their work – what were their strengths, what did they do well? Any tips for them for working in the industry in the future?

      1. Hanani*

        I give this kind of feedback throughout their time with us, but I like the idea of offering myself up as a resource for this field specifically (they’re from all different fields, and could be seeking employment in a wide variety of places). Thanks!

  76. Rivers*

    Does anyone have any green tips/programs for their workplace? Our organization is looking to expand on more green initiatives and I am wondering what we can look into and introduce? We are open to all ideas. Thanks in advance!

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      People are more likely to use reusable containers for drinks/lunches if they have somewhere to wash them, providing a sponge and dish soap really helps.

      Making recycling bins available.

      Choosing biodegradable options or reuasble options for flatware, coffee cups etc.

      Lights on timers or make able to turn off when not in use. When existing bulbs burn out replace with the LED ones that last longer and use less energy.

      Making dual door entry ways so heat/cool air isn’t lost every time someone exits/enters.

      Placing office orders together so less packaging needed.

  77. Mimmy*

    Resume question: Which should go first, your education or your professional experience?

    Since graduating with my Masters last June, I’ve put my education first to show recent preparation for the field I want to enter. However, someone said that the professional experience section should go first. That pushes my education to the second page, and I don’t want that to get overlooked. Maybe I could split the sections as below?

    -Related professional experience
    -Education (includes graduate and undergraduate)
    -Other experience (includes prior jobs that are not as related to my current goals)

    I also have a section for Leadership and Community Service, which highlights my volunteer and committee experience.

    1. MsM*

      I think it’s okay to keep it up top since your degree is new and shiny, but the longer you’re out of school, the more I’d be inclined to shift it to the end.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      In the field where you’re applying, which is more relevant? Basically, are you more qualified for the jobs you’re applying for because of your education or because of your work experience? Whichever one that is, put it first :)

      I did largely what your example shows for quite a while, with “professional memberships and certifications” in between related experience and education, then I eventually ended up removing the “other work experience” because the “related” section covered 15+ years by itself. So now I have healthcare experience, professional memberships and certifications, and education, in that order, even though I just got my most recent degree a couple years ago.

    3. beanie gee*

      I think this really varies by field. Like Red Reader said, if it’s important to your field or the specific job to have a masters, put it at the top. But if it’s not a requirement for the job, I would put experience first. My industry doesn’t require a masters, so if we see someone that has a recent master’s, it’s more important to us that they have actual real world work experience.

    4. AnotherLibrarian*

      As Red Reader the Adulting Fairy said, it really comes down to what is most important. When I was hiring entry level librarians, the first “cut question” was- do they have an MLIS? So, that was what I wanted to see first. However, when I am hiring more senior librarians, I am assuming they have an MLIS and therefore I care a lot more about experience. Basically, when you’re fresh out of school applying for entry level gigs, your biggest qualification might be the degree. As you move higher in the field, it gets less important. Good luck!

    5. Nesprin*

      Which one is more relevant to the position at hand & which one is most impressive? i.e. if it’s academia, then your education goes first. If your work experience is more relevant, that goes first.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I remember fondly the day I realized that my professional experience was more impressive than my masters degree, and switched the order around. Success!!

  78. about to pop*

    I’m taking maternity leave this calendar year in approximately two six-week non-continuous stints. (Complicated childcare situation with the spouse.)

    When you take maternity leave, especially if you personally have taken it, is it still acceptable to also use up your vacation days in the same calendar year? Unfortunately my company has an awful one-bucket system where sick and vacation time are put together and don’t roll over or pay out, so I’m incentivized to actually use it, but I wasn’t sure if it would “look bad.”

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      No way! PTO is completely separate from maternity leave, definitely use all of it! If your company has an issue with it, the problem is with them. (And you should maybe use your PTO to find a new job.) But hopefully they’re reasonable, because no reasonable person should have an issue with you using your PTO.

      FWIW my return from maternity leave was January and our PTO expires at the end of the calendar year, and my manager actively encouraged me to use all of my vacation time before I went on leave so I wouldn’t lose out on it.

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        To clarify, the “no way!” is in response to the “is it a bad look” question vs “is it acceptable to use my pto”. Definitely use it!

        And congrats!

      2. Fluffy Fish*

        This can be employer dependent. We have maternity leave in that you can take off the time – but it’s unpaid. If you want to be paid, you have to use your leave.

        And yes that is unbelievably crappy.

        1. A Simple Narwhal*

          I think that’s separate from about to pop’s question – she is already going to be taking maternity leave, she’s asking if it’s in bad form to then take any PTO during the rest of the year on top of that.

          1. about to pop*

            You’ve got it, yeah! I know that I *can* take all of my vacation/sick time, I was just wondering if people actually *do*. Thank you for the response!

            1. Jobbyjob*

              Definitely they do (take all available leave) and you should too. Maternity leave isn’t some favor the employer is doing for you, it’s your right.

    2. ferrina*

      Parental leave is almost always in a different bucket than vacation days and tracked completely differently. You won’t look bad taking vacation and maternity leave, and frankly you’ll probably need the sick time (so many random germs for the baby’s new immune system to learn about….).
      If anyone gives you crap about it looking bad, talk to HR. Or point out that they can take a nice “break” by caring for a brand new infant 24/7 for six weeks and let you know if they have a nice time on their “vacation” (and if so, then you’ve got a free babysitter)

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

      It depends on your company. Do they offer PAID maternity leave or is it just like an FMLA thing where you are guaranteed your job but not paid. If you have a separate paid maternity leave that should not be using your PTO. However, most companies in the US do not have a paid maternity leave. Their leave is just the standard FMLA. And if you want to be paid you have to use PTO or have some sort of short term disability insurance.

      1. about to pop*

        I do have paid maternity leave and I’m not in confusion about the policies/law, just the *norms* surrounding taking maternity leave and PTO in the same year.

    4. about to pop*

      To be clear, my sick/vacation time are bundled, but my maternity leave is entirely separate. I know that per company policy I *can* take all 12 weeks maternity leave plus my vacation, but I’m asking if people actually *do* that.

      1. working mom*

        I have taken all of my mat leave (16 weeks) and all of my vacation in the same year(s) – I was off / part time for 6 months and I am in management in a fairly demanding industry. A couple of thoughts in case it helps you:

        – if you are worried about coworkers, most people are going to be too lazy to figure out the number of weeks you have already taken from your leave etc. I would have no idea if a coworker came back from leave after 12 vs 14 weeks because I am not going to remember exactly which day they left or calculate the length of their leave. It was enough of a pain when I had to do it for myself, I certainly am not going to bother for others. I just ask when they’re back. I suggest being vague about which leave banks you are using outside of HR/your line manager and I think it’s likely no one will say “wait haven’t you already used x weeks this year?” This is even easier if your mat leave is flexible (ie you can use anytime within the first year).
        – there is some amount of FOMO/guilt you will feel either way – but I promise you won’t miss much at work and you will be glad to have the time / flexibility with your kiddo especially when they are so little. Most new parents end up taking lots of days off after returning to work for various reasons from illness to a kid who won’t take a bottle, to the need for follow up appointments and random gaps in childcare. You will have enough so worry about without worrying about the perception of using your leave time! Please take it, and I reiterate point 1: no one except you is likely to even think about this question!

  79. TechMgr*

    I have a (second line) report who is great what he does, and intermittently expresses a desire for promotion. It’s true that within his role it’s not *easy* to get the higher level of experience required (he is already pretty senior & well paid), it’s also true that he’s been given the opportunity to spend time on higher level work and never quite… got on and done it.

    Personality wise he can be quite easily stressed, and get worked up about things that don’t necessarily matter (or they do, but not as much as he thinks), or that are beyond his control. He’s a bit of a catastrophizer :)

    He’s been told that in order to get a promotion he’d need to have a wider impact but I worry that he (this sounds awful) doesn’t realise that the people he’s interacting with aren’t as senior as he thinks. He is super helpful, and well respected by teams in other departments, some of whom have team members with decades of experience – and all of that’s great – but it doesn’t mean he’s having the sort of organisation wide impact he’d need to get to the next level of promotion. (As a not very good analogy, imagine someone doing phone support, where they’re really good at frontline phone support, but in order to actually be promoted they would need to be making suggestions to improve process & doing higher level step back work to improve phone call efficiency, not *just* getting good feedback on their day to day phone calls).

    I know that I or his direct manager need to *talk* to him about this but I need to work out how to do so in a way that doesn’t downplay what he actually does do or the impact he has. He does great things! It’s great other teams like his work! It’s still… not enough to justify a grade promotion. (NB we have plenty of room still for raises & bonus within the existing grade so it’s not like he can’t be rewarded).

    1. ferrina*

      Next time he asks about a promotion, ask what he’s looking for in his career and why he thinks a promotion would be the next step.
      It’s possible he thinks that a promotion is necessary to continue in his career. Explain that a promotion would actually mean a different job with a different skill set, then talk about what those skills are. It sounds like a lot of these skills are soft skills- able to prioritize and deprioritize, calm under pressure, etc. Focus on what he can change (don’t say “bigger impact on the organization”- that’s something he would need your support to do, and it sounds like you don’t support this at this point).
      If he sees his future at the company differently than you do (even if it’s different growth paths), usually it’s best to be clear about that. “With your skills, I see you taking this role in X direction”.
      In the end, it might be a question of whether he can be coached to the skills he needs, or whether you don’t think that’s possible and/or not where you want to spend time. That’s a strategic call that you get to make.

    2. FashionablyEvil*

      I think you’re overthinking this! “You do great work in areas A, B, and C. In order to be promoted, you’d need to be working with other departments on those topics and also tackling Y and Z,” is a perfectly acceptable message, especially if you’re pairing it with training and development opportunities.

  80. Mimmy*

    In addition to my resume question above, I have a cover letter question. If I asked this before, my apologies! Not sure how to easily search for my own Open Thread posts.

    I may’ve mentioned before that I consider myself overeducated and underqualified. I’ve been at my current job for six years, but my role with this job is pretty narrow (Voc Rehab with a specific consumer population), and the field I’m trying to enter seems to require broader experience (I rarely see positions that seem to be entry level). I did have a couple of internships related to this new field; but, while both were extremely valuable, I didn’t gain the level of experience I had hoped.

    In my cover letter, what is the best way to demonstrate that, while my experience is narrow, I can bring a wealth of knowledge and skills to the table. Plus, I am extremely motivated to get myself up to speed to fill knowledge gaps. Otherwise, I may end up staying with working with this specific population, which I have no problem with. I was just hoping to broaden my experience.

    1. ferrina*

      I like to think of the resume as quantitative and the resume as qualitative. The cover letter is where I use storytelling to illustrate my talents and how I leverage them. It’s good to be smart, but how have you been able to apply that? You’re highly motivated, sure, but how have you used that motivation in the past?

      An example- I have great customer service. Okay, but everyone applying for this job is going to say they have great customer service. So I tell a story about how I’ve used this talent in the past- “I’m a trusted partner to clients, so much so that multiple clients have asked me to travel to consult with their internal teams on how my company supports their team’s goals” (an unheard-of ask for my role). I quickly assess and understand client needs- “I was handpicked by the VP to draft a prototype for a client. This was supposed to be a simple demonstration of our company’s capabilities, but I researched the company’s strategies and assessed potential barriers to troubleshoot, and the client loved my prototype so much that they signed a $100k contract with my company to build and execute prototype.”
      These stories help employers understand your resourcefulness and how you use your talents, and it helps them envision where you can fit into the success of their company.

      To easily search for your own posts, just search for your username.

  81. Emma*

    My boss has stoppad answering my emails. He doesn’r invite me to meetings the rest of the departement are invited to, and my requests for training courses go unanswered while others have gotten theirs approved.

    I feel like I am getting pushed out, and likely am. Is it worth asking my boss what is going on? I have no idea why he is treating me this way.

    1. HR Exec Popping In*

      Agreed. If you are “getting pushed out” what harm can it do to explain what you are observing (lack of response to emails and being left off of invites to department meetings) and asking why this is happening.

    2. ferrina*

      Oh no, I’m so sorry.
      I’d first double check that it’s not a tech issue, but it sounds likely that you’re being pushed out.

      No, it’s likely not worth asking your boss. When I had a boss pushing me out, I asked her several times directly, and she dodged it up until the day I was suddenly laid off. If you have a trusted colleague that has insight, you can ask them. But that energy is better spent putting time into your job search.
      I’m sorry.

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        When something similar was happening to me, I checked with a recruiter with whom I had worked with before, and he was able to confirm my opinion. I also let him know that I was job hunting.

  82. wondering*

    True or false: If you have an invisible disability that requires a special accommodation in your workplace, your employer can require proof of your disability in writing from a doctor/medical/mental health professional.

    1. Colette*

      In Ontario, it looks like the answer is true – I’m not an expert, but a quick google seems to imply that an employer can require:
      – proof that the person has a disability
      – the limitations or needs associated with the disability
      – whether the person can perform the essential duties or requirements of the job …, with or without accommodation
      – the type of accommodation(s) that may be needed to allow the person to fulfill the essential duties or requirements of the job…
      in employment, regular updates about when the person expects to come back to work, if they are on leave.

    2. HR Exec Popping In*

      Generally if you are asking for an accommodation, yes your employer can require a health care provider to explain how you would benefit from it. They don’t need to get into the specifics of your diagnosis or treatments though.

    3. RagingADHD*

      True that they can require medical documentation that you have *some* disability and that this accommodation is needed for it.

      They cannot require documentation of what exactly your medical condition is, if you do not choose to disclose it. Obviously they may be able to make inferences, such as if you require things that pertain to vision, they could reasonably deduce you have a vision impairment. But the medical note need not say “glaucoma” or “macular degeneration” or whatever specific thing.

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

      Yes you do need to get documentation of your disability for your accommodation. It does not need to say WHAT your disability is, just what the doctor’s recommendation is.

      So lets say you need to be able to sit at work but you work as a cashier. Your disability is fibromyalgia. Your doctor would write a note saying due to a condition Wondering needs to be able to sit while working. The company then should provide a comfortable stool the correct hight so you can scan people’s items while they check out.

      I am not a lawyer but A company does not need to have specific details. All they need to know is XYZ is an issue and so the employee needs ABC accommodations.

  83. Trampled by Llamas*

    Tips for bracing for, and coping with, a colossal surge in workload?

    At my job the workload comes in waves. The last two months of the financial year are always big, and this year they’re bigger than most, a mega-tsunami. (Even bigger than last year, when at one point I had 1 day off in 19.)

    Complicating this is a recent surge in turnover in the llama team. I’ll be facing this tsunami as the only member of the team who’s been there more than 6 months, and the only groomer who’s been there more than 6 weeks … when the grooming in question is so custom and complex it takes 6-12 months to really get a handle on it. My boss has my back but they’re not a miracle worker; you can’t turn newbies into experts overnight, llamas arrive when they arrive, and clients won’t be happy if all those llamas aren’t groomed on deadline.

    Having skated perilously close to burnout several times I really do NOT want to get that stressed and exhausted again. Especially since I’m due for an appointment right in the middle of the horror show where any stress-induced rise in blood pressure could be mistaken for a medication side-effect rise in blood pressure, and push me into an unwanted change.

    Any suggestions for low-to-no cost ways to keep on top of my job, my stress levels, and my life when work is consuming all my time and energy? (No kids, pets, relatives, housemates or live-in partner involved here, just some pampered houseplants.)

    1. ferrina*

      Stock up on frozen meals and caffeine. Lower your standards for everything at home. Think of it as being back in finals week at college- it’s nasty, but it’s temporary and it’s got an end date. Put in a PTO request for a few days, about a week after the surge has passed.

      Then ride the wave. I used to tell myself “I can deal with anything for a week”, or I’d cynically think about how I would be a great spy, because if I can handle this, I can handle any kind of torture (obviously not true, please don’t touch my fingernails, but it helped my motivation). Since you need to monitor blood pressure, I’d set aside 30 minutes per day for yoga (or your workout of choice). Staying active will help with those physical symptoms. If you’re a coffee drinker and find yourself drinking extra coffee, make those extra cups decaf- decaf coffee still has trace amounts of caffeine, but won’t impact your body in the same way.

      Good luck! You’ve got this!

    2. Cyndi*

      If you have the budget for it I’d recommend hiring a professional cleaner for sometime around the end of the horror show, so you’re not going “oh thank God that’s finally over” at work only to come home and be faced with all the housework you’ve had to compromise on. It really makes a huge difference to your morale.

    3. Chaordic One*

      Try to get ahead with your laundry and try to have clothes ready to go ahead of time. Although I love freshly ironed cotton, I instead rely on knits so that I don’t have to iron them. It’s O.K. to have a few fast food and/or deli meals.

    4. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      Simplify your wardrobe as much as possible, so that you don’t have to make any choices in the mornings other than ‘put these clothes on’; wear your comfiest shoes, if you wear socks then change them in your lunch break (very refreshing for your feet); set a timer for yourself so that once an hour you get up from your desk and stretch a bit/go to the bathroom/get some water to drink. If you can get up and go and stand by a window for a couple of minutes several times a day, this will relax your eyes a bit. Watch something that will make you laugh before bed, if you can – I highly recommend the cartoon Bluey, only 7 minutes per episode, and all about imagination and play and happiness.
      Draw up a big calendar to cover the high pressure period and cross off each day with a thick black pen when you get home at night.
      Take some pix of your plants and print them out and stick them up around your office and look at them and say ‘I am doing this for you guys’.
      Plan a massage, swim, brief getaway, something relaxing for when the wave is over. And remember that there are limitations on the actual amount of work that can be completed when your workplace is understaffed and undertrained – there are genuine limitations on what can be accomplished under these conditions. Don’t fall for the idea that ‘anything can be accomplished with enough effort/willpower’ – it simply isn’t true.
      Best of luck!

    5. Silence*

      Outsource as much as possible both personal and professional
      Meals, cleaning, laundry etc
      Not sure if it makes sense with your actual job but can new team members do the wash and dry so you can concentrate on clipping/ styling?

  84. Josephine Beth*

    I moved into a new role about 4 months ago, and I’ve really loved it so far. However, I’m working primarily with partners outside our larger agency, and I’m struggling with the change in visibility. (For context, in my previous role I was working closely with leadership and had a lot of in-agency recognition). Because I still need to collaborate fairly closely with the team in my prior department, I keep feeling twinges of “why did I leave?”, missing the larger group there (they were really a great group!), and wondering if maybe this could negatively impact my career over time.

    Are there ways people have reconciled this? I have much better work/life balance now and the work I’m doing is interesting and rewarding. My supervisor is terrific, as is the team…there’s nothing that stands out as “ugh, I made a mistake”, except the change in visibility.

    1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I’d start by setting aside the idea of a “mistake”, you are simply learning more about what kind of role is meaningful to you. You don’t know until you do it sometimes! If you find you miss that too much, you know what to look for in the future or how to advocate for changes in your role. It sounds like you might be gaining outside visibility or at least maintaining that? That has its own advantages, career-wise. More even. Internally you might have to be more intentional about networking and setting up regular 1:1s or group shares — it may not get you the same recognition, but you can create good relationships.

    2. ferrina*

      Do you have a new team that you’re working with, or are you working with a lot of partners but not a team? This may be a temporary culture shock, or, as Weaponized Pumpkins said, it may be valuable information about what you need to thrive in a job.

      I have monthly coffee with my old team, and it’s really fun. A couple people have actually moved to new positions, but we still love catching up with each other. Or create other internal relationships where you don’t need to be “on” in the same way as with external partners.

    3. Sloanicota*

      Four months isn’t enough time IMO. I still missed my old teammates and the prestige of my old role for the better part of a year, although I know I’m in a better place for good reasons (if I didn’t feel that way I would have a different answer). Now I can’t remember what was so great about that team TBH – I mean, they were great, but so is my new team. The prestige doesn’t feel as important now that I’m used to how I contribute here.

  85. Haerin*

    Very specific question that I am lowkey stressing over!

    I’ve had this super expensive concert ticket for almost a year. It’s for my favorite artist and I’ve been stoked to go to this concert. But earlier this week, I was assigned to attend a conference for work, and the first day of the conference is the day after the concert. The only way I can get there in time is if I go directly from the concert to the airport to take an overnight flight.

    Here is the problem. I will have to bring my luggage to the concert in order to make this flight. The stadium does not allow any bags inside. They have a bag check, but it costs money. I’m looking for a gut check: Could I ask to expense the cost of this bag check? Or would it look super out of touch?

    1. kiki*

      I think because the concert is a pre-existing commitment, I would feel comfortable asking if it could be expensed. Additionally, one stadium bag check is not going to break your company’s bank.

    2. ferrina*

      Have you talked to your boss? You already have pre-existing plans; it’s pretty likely that they’ll make an exception to accommodate you (if possible). Check out the conference itinerary and see if it would be possible to arrive a little late. If not, yes, expensing baggage check makes sense.
      But definitely talk to your boss. Navigating conferences vs pre-existing commitments is a normal part of conference life.

    3. HonorBox*

      I’d absolutely ask! You had the tickets and had plans in place long before you were assigned to attend the conference. You’re accommodating the assignment by taking an overnight flight (which sucks and I’m sorry about that) but you’re not trying to get out of anything. The cost is probably minimal for your employer.

      You could also ship the luggage directly to the hotel you’re staying at so it is there when you arrive and you don’t have that extra stress of hauling the luggage to the concert. Plus, you don’t have to check a bag or do as much when you go through TSA.

      1. Shandra*

        Maybe shipping your luggage ahead would be better. Then you won’t be delayed leaving the concert for me the airport.

        1. Haerin*

          What do you mean by ship it ahead? Pardon my ignorance but I don’t travel very often so I’ve never heard of this. Do you mean like send it via Fedex? The conference is in a different country so I’m not sure how that works.

          1. Shandra*

            I did mean Fed Ex or another service, yes. But the conference being in a different country sinks that idea because of customs.

            I guess your luggage will have to join you at the concert, after all. Please update us on what your employer says about covering the cost.

    4. EMP*

      Unless you’re a new employee where one weird misstep can really color peoples perceptions of your, I would say this is unusual but can’t hurt to ask. Personally I wouldn’t ask my work to expense this (even if I knew they would consider it – they definitely wouldn’t) because it’s a personal commitment and not their problem. But if you’re otherwise a level headed employee I don’t think it’s crazy to ask.

    5. Anon for this*

      Could you check your bag at the airport earlier in the day then head for the concert after doing so? Some airlines will accommodate early bag drops if you are checked in online already

    6. Goddess47*

      Is *anyone* else you know going to this conference? Could you ask them to take a bag with them?

      I was going to mention shipping things to yourself at the hotel ahead of time, but different countries makes that hard. But do check into ‘next-day guaranteed delivery’ (if it exists) as a disaster back-up…

      This is the one time to pack as lightly as you can and buy things like toiletries or whatnot when you get to the conference site… If you can manage a single, carry-on bag, that will help with having to manage it.

      Good luck!

  86. rhubarbpie*

    Multiple times I’ve gotten pretty far in the interview process for jobs I’m quite qualified for only to be rejected with managers unwilling to offer feedback. Twice the job has been reposted after my interview, meaning I’m assuming that I made a poor enough impression that they decided to keep looking. How does one figure out how they are bombing interviews without feedback? Are there any interview coaching services that you recommend?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      You mention “making a poor impression” and “bombing interviews.” How have you felt after interviews? Do you generally feel like you bombed right away, or only after you learn you didn’t get the job? If you feel you bombed right away, some things that come to mind are: visible nerves (shaky voice, nervous tapping of feet or fingers, rambling answers) or feeling like you aren’t answering the interviewers questions well (not understanding the questions, not providing good examples). Practice will help with these sorts of things. I don’t know about any interview coaching services, but you can always practice with a friend or two to help with nerves or to see if you can sharpen up your examples.

      If you don’t feel like you bombed until you learn you didn’t get the job, then I think it’s more likely to be a case of you weren’t the right candidate. You could have the best skills in X, and make a good impression about your X skills, but you still won’t get the job if the company needs someone with Y skills. I don’t have any advice for this, unfortunately, because it’s very difficult to know from the outside if a job description for XYZ wants more X, more Y, more Z, or all of them in equal measure.

      1. rhubarbpie*

        I usually feel it went well during the interview — even if there is a question or two I could have possibly answered more strongly, that’s inevitable — and then feel I must have bombed it after I didn’t get the job. Maybe you’re right that I’m just not the right candidate, but these are jobs that I feel I’m quite qualified for based on the description, but you’re also right that internally they could be looking for a particular mix that I didn’t fully understand. This does make me feel a bit better.

      2. Sloanicota*

        I agree. Here’s my perspective as someone who just didn’t hire a perfectly nice candidate who probably thought they were great for the role, and in a certain slant maybe they would have been able to do some/much of it. It wasn’t that they did a bad job interviewing or we didn’t like them. It was just that there were things we knew about the role that he didn’t know that meant he wasn’t going to be the right fit, based on his skills and experience. There was nothing shameful about it, but we reposted the job.

    2. HR Exec Popping In*

      It isn’t necessarily that you are bombing. It can be that they are just looking for someone who has a different mix of qualifications. Try not to read to much into the rejections. If you have gotten further than one or two interviews then you are doing a fine job of actually interviewing. If you were actually a bad interview you wouldn’t get called back at all. Good luck to you!

      1. Hanani*

        I agree with this – appearing to be qualified based on the job description and actually being what a bunch of humans want aren’t the same thing. You were impressive enough for them to keep talking with you, but ultimately they’re looking for something a bit different than what you have to offer. It’s super frustrating, but probably nothing about your interviewing skills.

        As an example, my office recently interviewed someone for an internship where the posting indicated that specific interest in the field is one of several qualifications we’re looking for. We interviewed someone who has the other four qualifications listed, but not that one (we asked the question point-blank several times). From the candidate’s point of view, they meet most of the qualifications. From our point of view, not meeting that one is a dealbreaker.

      2. MacGillicuddy*

        I think you’re making this an either-or situation where the only possible results are A-got the job, or B-bombed the interview. That’s way too doom and gloom. Just because you didn’t get the job doesn’t mean your interview went horribly badly.

        Give yourself a break and just chalk up those interviews to experience.

        Interviews are never only “A or B”. There are many posts on this site of job openings that have multiple well-qualified applicants. Or openings where the company is looking for some quality beyond the job description they can’t articulate but will know it when they see it. Or cultural fit. Or “close but not quite” candidates. Or even companies that don’t know what they want. Or (this one actually happened to me) I was the top candidate according to the hiring manager but the CEO said to the hiring manager “Here’s a resume from Pat Gudenuf, hire them.”

  87. Raia*

    I’m getting laid off and a lot of well-meaning coworkers and managers are asking me how they can help. I know the first suggestions off the bat like resume review, interview prep, upskilling websites, but I got the most expert advice I could being here! What are other ways besides mock interviews that I could use the help being provided?

    PS not too worried about the layoff, my budget could keep me afloat for the next year if push comes to shove. Getting a severance package to leave my unfit supervisor is truly a win.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Can you ask them to pass along any job opportunities they hear about that they think you would be a good fit for?

      1. ferrina*

        This! It’s such a normal thing to ask- “Thanks! If you hear about any opportunities for a parakeet haberdasher, or know of someone that might be interested, could you let me know? Here’s my personal email” (note: your personal email here should be the one you’ll use for job searching, if possible)

    2. HR Exec Popping In*

      As them now for introductions to their network. This is helpful so that if you apply for a job at Llamas R Us and one of them has a friend there that you see on LinkedIn you can follow up and remind them of the offer of help and ask to be put in touch.

    3. A Simple Narwhal*

      I’d ask them to keep you in mind if they hear of anything in their networks, or to actually ask around in their networks. That’s probably the most way they can be helpful! As you said, everything else can mostly be sourced from here. And tbh, I’ve found a lot of people always say they want to help, but I’ve rarely had anyone follow through on anything outside passive networking, so for your own sanity I recommend you keep your expectations low.

      I could totally be wrong though! And my own experiences might be coloring this – I’m still irritated by an HR person who laid me off and then insisted on setting up meetings to help me find a new job. I was hesitant but she was so insistent that she could help me that I agreed. Well, she rescheduled multiple times, all at the last minute or after the meeting was supposed to start, and when we finally had our call she admitted she didn’t think she could do anything and instead only gave me generic job-hunting advice on par with a mediocre college campus or government employment office. It was worse than useless since she had wasted so much of my time and gotten my hopes up with her promises of solid assistance. I have no idea why she was so insistent on meeting, other than assuaging her own guilt, perhaps!

      But hopefully your coworkers will be better!

  88. Sharon*

    Step one is always to identify the problem. I would make one of your plans to “solicit feedback about your organization and communication skills and identify any specific things you could do differently to be more effective.” Feel free to copy/paste.

  89. JethroTull*

    I’m about to quit my job next week with no notice next Friday. The company really screwed me over by approving me to work out of state (and wrote me a letter so I could get a mortgage and everything) and then unceremoniously pulling the authorization TWO WEEKS before I closed. I fought back and got on the horn with the CFO who got HR to extend my exit date to 3 months after I move, but I had to essentially lie to my lender that I’d still have this job in an ongoing capacity to ensure the mortgage was approved. The stress sent me into an autoimmune flare and I had to call out sick one of the days the following week.

    I am the highest performer on our small team by a landslide (I complete roughly 50-60% of all work on a 5-person team) and was recognized as such for EOY 2022, and got 4 spot bonuses in the last 6 months for my work. My boss, with whom I’d had an excellent relationship to that point, let me get ambushed by HR mid-day on a Friday while she was out (she was informed before she took her half day, but opted to say nothing to me and didn’t fight for me at all–she’s remote out of state herself!).

    Boss apologized to me in person last week when we were on-site for our quarterly in-person meeting and said, “Now that HR isn’t telling me what I can and can’t say, I’m so sorry for how things went down.” She has completely destroyed any trust I had in her to behave ethically, so I just said, “Yeah, it was really [crappy],” and left it at that. She then tried to pry to see where I was in my job search and asked that I keep her informed when I find another employer.

    I feel marginally guilty, but she, the CFO, and HR really screwed me hard. Luckily, I ended up finding a new job that will pay about 67% more (pure luck!), but I’m still holding this grudge and am using three vacation days to move across the country before I send a scheduled email for 7a Monday morning announcing my immediate resignation. My teammates are aware of this (just not my boss), and I’ve been working to make sure I help them with whatever needs doing before I peace out, but I still feel kinda like a jerk. I know I don’t owe these employers anything (and if I give notice, they will try to prevent me from using my PTO for my last 3 days), but am I justified? My resolve is (slightly) weakening with this battle of conscience.

    1. Colette*

      Using your PTO before giving notice is fine – but it sounds like you’re not planning to work the standard 2 weeks after you give your notice, which is not great.

      1. gmg22*

        What’s not great is JT’s employer giving the green light to make a real estate purchase on the other side of the country, then yanking that away at the last minute. Why are employees bound to best practices and courtesies that their employers are not?

        1. Colette*

          I mean, obviously that was wrong as well, and if they asked I’d tell them that. But resigning without notice can hurt you, not just the employer. (You apply for a job 5 years down the road, and one of your former coworkers now works there and says “yeah, they did good work but they quit without notice.)

          1. Peanut Hamper*

            This is such an incredible stretch.

            And this isn’t about hurting the company (LW says she’s helping out coworkers.) This is about getting out without making a scene.

            You really are missing the big picture here.

            1. Colette*

              The big picture is resigning in a way that doesn’t blow up your future. Yes, JethroTull has told some coworkers – but there will be others who don’t know, and the only people around to tell the story will be management.

              It’s OK to do it, but it’s not OK to expect no consequences for doing it – and you don’t get to choose the consequences.

              1. gmg22*

                I’m continuing to get a pretty big blame-the-victim vibe here. How about “It’s OK to do it, but be aware of the possible consequences”?

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

                based on how the boss treated the OP I don’t think they would get a good reference even if they gave 2 weeks.

                OP I would be careful about the vacation because they could deduct that time from your paycheck. Its happened to me and other people I know. Here is my story:

                I worked at a company that allowed me to take a vacation for sick time. Vacation was earned based on the number of hours you worked and was accrued. So you didn’t have 5 days starting January 1 you got those throughout the year. Well, I had some health issues and ended taking a few days so I was technically in the negative, but they allowed this. Then the company closed our center and we were all out of a job in a few months. Was supposed to close in June. Meaning even If I worked the remaining 3 months there I would not make up the hours to not be negative. Then they “accepted my resignation early” when I got a new job. I gave them more than 2 weeks notice. A week after I got my new job they closed the center a month early, locking people out. One person even showed up for his shift after they closed becuase no one called him. I got my final paycheck that next week. It was only $100!!! For almost 2 weeks work, because they Charged me for my negative vacation and never told me that was a thing. I had no way of contacting the HR person because they were all gone. No contact for corporate either. I just ate it and begged my landlord to not throw me out and my entire first check went to him. I wish I had contact a lawyer.

    2. gmg22*

      Given the comment about them wanting to prevent you using your PTO, I wonder whether you would go a bit farther, to suspect that they might fire you immediately anyway if you were to give notice rather than resign with immediate effect. Is that the case? The level of broken trust here makes it logical for you to want to protect yourself first, and you’re doing what you need to do to ensure that your colleagues can carry work forward after your departure. I say stick with your plan. If they want to recognize their screwup — as your boss has quietly admitted they should — and ask YOU to help THEM out with more notice, they could do so, but I don’t see a need to oblige them.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      Are you justified? I say yes, pulling your authorization for working in a different state when you had a mortgage all lined up was a bad move. And your boss ducking out early that day was icing on the terrible cake.

      The only thing I don’t see mentioned in your comment that you might want to consider is: will you want a reference from your current boss/company at any point in the future? Depends on how long you’ve worked there, if you have had another manager while you were there who could be a reference, etc. but depending on your situation it may be the right move to give two weeks notice to preserve the reference (while knowing you would be justified resigning immediately).

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yeah, there’s a chance this will come back on you in five years when somebody knows somebody who knows what happened. You may be totally willing to take that chance though.

    4. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      The question I’d ask myself is not what I owe them or what I am justified in doing, but what benefits me the most in the long run.

    5. ferrina*

      I’d think about your relationship with your boss. How has she been up to this point? HR can come down hard on managers’ who interfere with HR conversations (depending on the company, manager, etc.), so it’s possible your boss was between a rock and a hard place. Also, would you ever want a reference from her?

      I still think you should take your PTO before resigning, but I might soften the language in your email. Could you potentially work with a 1-week notice after your PTO? Maybe something like: “I had been hoping to return back to [OLD LOCATION], but unfortunately circumstances have changed and I have been unable to do that. If you would like, I am happy to work out the remainder of this week from [NEW LOCATION] as my final week with my last day being [DATE], or we can make today my last day.”
      Mostly the goal here is to stick to your guns and only burn half of the bridge (okay, the metaphor doesn’t work, but depending on your company’s environment, it might be doable)

    6. Cyndi*

      I vote yes–it’s both practically and ethically justified. They put you in an impossible position and what you’re doing is what you have to do to look after yourself in that position. Anyway, two weeks’ notice is supposed to be for managing your transition and it sounds like you’re already handling that under your own steam.

      On a less mature note, I hope you get some really satisfyingly panicked replies to that email.

    7. Meep*

      As someone whose manager tried to get her fired (and thankfully failed) the day she was closing on a house (*), I 100% get the justification. They not only messed with your livelihood and financials but with your health. I remember resisting the urge to drive my car off a bridge. What your employer/manager did is all kinds of horrid. And I don’t blame you for wanting to burn that bridge. Heck, really all you are doing is not putting out the fire that they set.

      With that said, put in your two weeks on Monday and do the bare minimum for the next two weeks. It isn’t going to leave them in a lot of pain, but it will leave them in enough of a pinch without becoming unhirable.

      *because said manager is a spiteful witch who was upset someone younger than her could afford a house (she had just lost hers because she refused to pay the mortgage – not that she couldn’t, she just straight up refused to) despite stealing money from the said employee. The only reason I got out of it was luckily the house fell through at the last minute (previous owners had a second mortgage they thought they could drop on two 20-somethings) and she “forgave me”.

    8. FashionablyEvil*

      My motto in these types of situations is, “You will never regret taking the high road.”

      Would it be justified? Yeah. Would you feel better about it in the long run if you didn’t? Probably.

    9. RagingADHD*

      Well, giving notice is a professional courtesy and general expectation. It isn’t an obligation, so I don’t think any justification is needed or anything for your conscience to have a battle about. There’s no ethical issue here.

      The only consideration is practical, whether leaving without notice might come back to bite you later. But given the way you’ve been jerked around, I wouldn’t count on them giving you a decent reference even if you bent over backwards to give notice.

      They’ve already screwed you over once. You know enough about their normal way of operating that you believe they’d try to screw you out of PTO that you’re entitled to. Most likely, you have nothing to lose by forgoing a reference that wouldn’t do you any good in the first place.

  90. Flat Friday*

    Got turned down for a job I really, really wanted today. It was a really good fit, I had a series of great interviews, and the hiring manager had obliquely indicated that they were putting together an offer. Then suddenly they sent me a brief email saying they would not be extending an offer and good luck in the future.

    This is the second time this has happened with a job offer at this org, which is a place I used to work. I want to ask, like, what happened? But there’s probably no way they’ll tell me anything.

    I did contact HR and double check that I was still eligible for rehire and there isn’t anything problematic in my records there that I don’t know about. It all sounds fine. When I mentioned the same thing had happened more than once the HR person I talked to even suggested I ask the hiring manager what happened. I just feel very weird asking. I don’t want to come off like I’m arguing, I just want to make sure there isn’t something I need to know about.


    1. Colette*

      Could it be an issue with a reference?

      I’d suggest asking for feedback – you might find out something useful.

      1. Flat Friday*

        That was my only guess, but I talked to my references and none of them were contacted in either case. So if someone had something negative to say, it wasn’t someone I listed.

        I wondered if maybe they could see past management in my personnel records from when I worked there before, were proactively contacting them, and someone over there was being negative. But I asked HR about that possibility and they told me none of that info is viewable during hiring. So if there’s someone somewhere with unfavorable stuff to say about me, I don’t know how I’d ever puzzle it out.

    2. rhubarbpie*

      It’s pretty standard to ask for feedback! They don’t have to tell you anything, but it’s possible they will be able to extend an insight. Phrasing it as “why didn’t I get the job” probably won’t be helpful but a more generic request for feedback on your application process would be quite normal.

      1. Flat Friday*

        I’ve been trying to figure out a way to ask what I need to know without it sounding weird. Like who knows, maybe there was a totally innocuous reason, and in that case I’m not worried about it. That happens. But if there’s some dealbreaker floating around that I have no idea about, like a negative reference or something insane that pops up if you google me or something, I really need to know that’s happening!

        1. gmg22*

          I think “generic” is the key word — no assumptions, just an open-ended request. Something like: “I really appreciated the opportunity to interview for the position, and wanted to ask if you would be able to follow up with some feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of my candidacy — any insights would be very useful.”

          1. rhubarbpie*

            Yes exactly — if there’s something weird going on and they are willing to tell you, they would do so after a generic request. Or they may say something that reassures you that nothing weird is going on, they were just looking for something different.

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

      I doubt HR will give you any information if you are being blocked from rehire — too much liability.

      Since you used to work there, is there anyone you are still friends with outside of HR or the hiring department that would give you discrete information? HR might not be formally talking with your previous managers, but if former coworkers or other managers still remember you, they might be sharing things that aren’t in any employee file.

      Or, as Alison says often, there could just be another candidate that blew them out of the water, not anything that you did or didn’t do.

      1. Flat Friday*

        It would be pretty nuts to decide an employee was no longer eligible for rehire and then refuse to tell them! That’s something people are expected to know about their own employment history.

        I definitely don’t know anyone who has any better view into this than I or the HR folks I’ve already spoken with would have. And the positions remain unfilled, so this is not a case of someone being chosen over me but a vacant position being chosen over me despite earlier communication that an offer would be forthcoming. Once I could chalk up to a department being weird, but twice in a row is concerning me.

        I do sort of suspect that a well-known former coworker might be sharing unfavorable opinions, which is frustrating because when I left she was warned by our boss to absolutely not do that but it would be impossible for me to find out if that’s a factor / do anything about it. She got into some kind of disciplinary situation because of what I shared in my exit interview and she was very, very angry at me about it.

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

          I’m not sure if divulging that is a legal requirement where you are located, but as far as I know, it’s not a requirement where I am. I think that employers might hope that the person would intuit they aren’t eligible based on the circumstances of their performance and departure; but if an employee quits and they don’t want them back, they don’t have to send a breakup letter or anything.

          I know of at least one previous employee, from my department, that quit for another job, and she was marked as ineligible for rehire and they didn’t tell her. A few years later she reapplied for a different position within the org. She got to the final round of interviews and…same as you…the hiring manager made it sound like the offer was on it’s way and then she was dropped. HR still didn’t confirm anything. It was another employee she was still friends with that told her the reason.

        2. Sloanicota*

          Yeah, sounds like that’s it. If that person is still there, decision-makers could decide they don’t want the drama of managing both of you, or she could be actively weighing in that you’re not someone she’s willing to work with or whispering something to the right people. You could be still be eligible for rehire technically, on the books.

    4. Sloanicota*

      I … agree, it really sounds like someone you used to work with is blocking you. The company is never going to admit that. Any way you can triangulate with another colleague who works there, just to satisfy your curiosity, or is that going to send you on a roarin’ rampage of revenge, in which case perhaps better not? Either way it doesn’t sound like this is a good avenue for future applications unfortunately :(

  91. Feena the Cat*

    Do most companies have a process for removing underperforming employees?

    I asked my boss if we have a PIP process or any sort of procedure to remove an underperforming employee at our company (a pharmaceutical research/drug development type) and he said no. I only know of 1 person who has been fired from here and it was for forging experimental data- a cardinal sin in science so I’m glad they have at least that line.

    I have a coworker on my team who has been here 3 years and still cannot do their job despite a lot of help, guidance, different types of resources and different people teaching them the necessary skills; my boss is fully aware of this coworker’s issues and I give him props for trying to get her up to speed but its not working. Its just very demotivating to be a high performer and do so much, and see someone barely show up and get a paycheck and know that there will never be any real consequences. And its not just her, she is probably the worst, but I see other teams with low performing team members at my company, so its a systemic issue here. I know from reading this site to set boundaries and not cover for this slacker, but due to the collaborative nature of our work, even if I don’t do her work for her, she cannot help out on any of my (or others) work when it gets too big for one person so her performance still affects me. A job change will occur in the near future over this issue.

    1. gmg22*

      My sense is that the use of PIP-type processes really depends on the organization, but that overall, yes, it’s a fairly common feature of the modern workplace. If your boss seems disinclined to see this as a problem, I’m not sure where that leaves you unless you yourself were to rise into a management role and try to pursue some change. That still might be a lonely battle, and the alternative is to accept that this culture of accepting variable performance is not going to change anytime soon, and start the job change process you mention. But don’t leave without first making it very clear to your boss that this is why — they need to understand over time that this approach may continue to affect their ability to retain high performers.

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      Unfortunately, even in a workplace where such a process DOES exist, unless you manage the person, there isn’t anything you can do to get that process rolling, and there’s no guarantee that the process will be put into place every time it should be. It sounds like you’ve pointed out the issues with your coworker’s performance to your boss. Have you talked about the impact of those issues on you? Not just, “Bleminda keeps getting X and Y wrong,” but “we all have times when our work gets too big for one person, and we step in to help each other out, but no one on our team trusts Bleminda to step in because she can’t do the work right” and “knowing Bleminda is able to perform at the level she performs at and still continue in her job here makes me feel like there’s not much motivating me to perform at a high level.” If you haven’t, maybe putting it in those terms will set off the alarm bells for your boss and motivate them to do something.

    3. ferrina*

      It depends on the size of the company, the culture of leadership, and how competent/empowered HR is.

      But generally, yes, there should be a way to part ways with under/non-performing employees. This is necessary for the health of the company. PIPs are not a step on the exit process- a PIP is a tool to document areas where improvement is needed and a timeframe for when that improvement should occur. Ideally, an employee should have a reasonable chance of completing a PIP and staying at a company (I know several employees that have successfully gotten off a PIP and gone on to be a great asset). If an employee is underperforming so badly that they can’t improve in a reasonable time frame, it’s time for a mutual parting of ways. HR can navigate that, but it may include severance to help ease the transition. It’s pretty normal for this process to look different based on individual circumstances. But yeah, there should definitely be a way, for exactly the reasons you say (morale, ensuring that high performers aren’t picking up the slack, it’s financially irresponsible to pay someone who isn’t doing the job…at this point they are paying a premium on conflict avoidance)

  92. Usagi*

    I’d love to get an outside perspective on my situation. I’ve been on this team for about 3.5 years now, and overall I like it. I don’t love it, but it’s good enough. My boss is definitely one of the better bosses I’ve worked for, and everyone on my team is very nice.

    The thing is, I don’t really feel like I’m part of this team. There are two main reasons for this. First is that my role is significantly different from everyone else and it’s also brand new (the role was created for me). I guess it could be seen as if I am part of the Teapots Consultants Department (my team works with clients to help them with their legal and ethics questions about Teapots), whereas I am the Teapots Trainer and train clients on the use and maintenance of Teapots. We fall under the same general umbrella, but most companies would probably have a separate department. This ends up meaning that no one on my team really cares that much about my role. They all see the value and appreciate what I do, but what I do is absolutely not a priority to anyone, including my boss, so I don’t get as much support as I’d need to be effective.

    Second is that because of the above, I’m just forgotten and left out of a bunch of stuff. When I started it was decided that I would not be added to the Teapots Department email distribution list, since they get hundreds of emails every day and 99.99% of that is not relevant to my role. But when someone in our department wants to announce something to the team (e.g., my grandboss emailing, “XYZ coworker won this prestigeous industry award! Let’s all go to dinner; my treat!”) they use that email address and… well, I just don’t get those. That example is a real one, the day of, suddenly everyone is standing up and packing their things like an hour earlier than anyone would normally leave, and when people noticed that I not only wasn’t but also looked confused and panicked, we figured out what happened. And everyone felt bad! Unfortunately I had to get my kids (honestly I probably could’ve asked my wife or in-laws or someone to get them, but I was hurt and didn’t feel like hanging out) so I didn’t go. My grandboss gave me a very nice treat a few days later as an apology. That was the most obvious, visible incident, and it was about a year ago, but things like this still happen.

    I’ve talked about this with my boss and grandboss, my team hears about it from time to time (yesterday I was talking to one of my coworkers and I inadvertently came to the realization that zero of the three birthdays I’ve had while working here have been celebrated. We usually will ask that person what they’d like to eat and bring it in for the department to enjoy. To be fair, my desk was decorated and my boss got me flowers, which is what we do for everyone, but… why not the food? COVID was part of that, of course, but still. We’re celebrating someone’s birthday today that’s been here for 2 months, and they got food.

    I feel like this is starting to sound kind of whiny, like “I want people to pay attention to me too!” But this is something that really bothers me. I don’t care about the food or the dinner or any of that per se, I just want people to remember that I’m here too?

    Has anyone ever had a similar situation? Does anyone have any suggestions that either I can do or that I can bring to my team/boss to help resolve this? Or am I just doomed to be like Richmond from The IT Crowd unless I switch jobs?

    1. Colette*

      I don’t think you can fix this. That might be OK; maybe the benefits of the job are enough.

      I once had a job where two people decided they hated me pretty much instantly – so instantly that it was obviously a them problem. And I stayed there for 5 years; I liked the work, I liked the benefits, I felt like I was helping people, and it didn’t matter so much that I didn’t click with all of my coworkers. I got along with most of them, and that was enough.

      As far as birthdays, it sounds like they are celebrating them, but are skipping the food for some reason that is probably not personal. (Do you get food for others, or does someone else handle that?) So, if you want food, bring it in yourself.

      But if you feel like you’re missing out on important stuff because you’re not on the email list, you can get added to it – or ask your boss to create a separate email list for things that don’t belong on that list.

      1. Usagi*

        I agree, this might not be fixable, or at least a solution isn’t going to be easy. If it was I probably would’ve thought about it already with my boss and grand boss!

        Our department is 12 people, including me, and… I can say with certainty that it’s just me that’s not getting the food. It comes out of the department’s budget, and while we have a few “party planner” type people who just enjoy that role and coordinate/get the food, for whatever reason they haven’t remembered me. And as you said I’m sure it’s not personal! They (especially the one woman that tends to be in charge) are all very nice people and when we were talking yesterday they felt really bad that I’ve been missed.

        I’m really not missing anything too important, and most of the time I can just realize that something is going on, ask about it, and join in amid people apologizing for forgetting to include me on the email.

        I’d rather not be added to the existing list, that’s way too many emails for me to effectively be able to dig through and find the emails that actually are for me, and like Hlao-roo says below, I doubt they’d remember to use the new address. It’s weird though because my team switched over to Teams relatively painlessly when the pandemic hit, including team-wide communications, but some announcements are still done via that email.

        Regardless, I appreciate the insight!

    2. Hlao-roo*

      When I started my current job, it took months before I got put on the all-site email list. Luckily, my team is pretty chatty and commonly asks around “hey, did you see the email about XYZ?” So I heard about everything I needed to hear about, sometimes right after the email arrived in everyone else’s inbox, sometimes when everyone stood up and said “time to go to the pizza party” and I was all “what pizza party?”

      Three solutions I can think of (all have drawbacks):

      1 – Can they create a separate email list for staff announcements that includes you? The pitfall of this is that it is highly unlikely that your boss and grandboss will remember to use this instead of the distribution list they are used to using.

      2 – Can you be included in the existing Teapots Department email list?
      You might be able to filter out most of the irrelevant-to-you emails. If there’s no easy way to do that, this one probably isn’t worth the email deluge.

      3 – Can you designate a coworker or two to be “Usagi liasons”–people who give you a head up every time there’s a retirement email, or a celebratory dinner?
      This only works if there are people who are willing to take on this (minor) task and will reliably remember to forward team emails to you/tell you about the events.

      1. Usagi*

        We’re actually quite chatty too, and I can jump into things from time to time because I overhear or notice people doing something. Unfortunately my job takes me away from my desk for large chunks of the day, so I do miss quite a bit of that.

        1. I did talk about that with my bosses, and just like you said it’s unlikely people would remember to switch. The team has been doing what they do for a long time, and for a lot of them they’re very set in their rhythms

        2. I did consider this but again, like you said, it’s not worth the daily fire hose of emails.

        3. I actually really like this one! I don’t know if you know but “usagi” means “rabbit” in Japanese, so “rabbit liason” sounds super cute. But more seriously, maybe I can ask someone to just check to see if I’m included on those types of emails. I’ll have to think about it, though… everyone is very busy and I’d hate to add one more thing, even if it’s small, to their plates.

        Thank you very much for your suggestions! I feel like at least I’m at least on the right track when trying to think of a solution.

    3. ferrina*

      This isn’t whiny, and it makes sense that it stings! The good news is that it’s not intentional, so there may be a way forward.

      First, the email list. It’s the main form of communication and not likely to change. So get on that email list, but use Rules to filter only the emails that relate to you. Does the CEO use certain language when announcing office closings? Filter for emails with that language (i.e., “dinner” gets through. “leave early” gets through). It may be a pain to find the exact formula, and you’ll likely have some emails you don’t care about (just delete those) but likely worth it.

      Next, guide your boss into how your role should intersect with the rest of the team. Are you a different team (of one)? Or are you a different part of a single team? If the latter, go to their regular meetings. See if you can collaborate or consult with someone who might have expertise. See if you can do quarterly presentations of interesting case studies that might be relevant to the rest of the team. Visibility tricks like this will get you more top-of-mind.

      Finally, think about what would make this role successful longer-term. Does is make sense for you to work under this boss, or is there someone else that might make more sense? Should your component get a separate budget/resourcing? Since this is a custom role, you likely have a lot more leeway to make these suggestions than a traditional role might. I’ve worked in a couple custom roles, and I love the freedom to shape the role and recommend what should come next. At a certain point, sit down with your boss and evaluate what is working and what needs to change about your role. This is a new role, so it should evolve!

      1. Usagi*

        I appreciate the thoughts!

        I did really seriously consider the email list. What really keeps me from pulling the trigger on that is I get only like… 10 emails a day that are for me? And if you include the stuff that is just for my visibility, it’s maybe 20. My role just doesn’t communicate via email as much, I do a lot of phone calls. So when you add the 500+ emails that would be added to that, it becomes a mess. I’m quite good at filters in email, and that’s a big reason why I get so few emails (I’m actually receiving closer to 100, but most of that isn’t stuff I actually have to see), but because the vast majority of those 500+ emails are to/from clients, the verbiage changes significantly from message to message. I don’t think I could create enough filters for that! I actually sat down with one of my coworkers to take a look at the kinds of emails and… yeah, unfortunately I don’t think it’d work.

        I did chat with my boss several times about what my role is supposed to be. The biggest obstacle here is that she doesn’t really know what it should look like, but also has preconcieved notions about it (some of which are reasonable, some of which are not) and because I’m not top of mind, she kind of forgets what we’ve discussed and then those notions change. As an example, closer to when I started, I brought up that the number of client requests I was getting seemed pretty high; at what point could we discuss hiring a second person? The goal that was set was an average of 2 trainings per day. To be clear, that’s not a very reasonable goal, I not only do trainings, but also do the content creation, so if I do 2 trainings per day, there’s no time to make any new content. I said that, she said “give it a shot and we’ll talk about it again,” I actually hit that goal and… nothing. The next year we focused on something else, I hit that goal and… nothing.

        Again, I want to be clear that she’s very nice and actually a pretty good manager overall, just my role is not a priority for this department and she forgets what we’ve talked about. COVID of course did not help, budgeting wise. I can’t get into it too much since anonymity and all that, but it’s also not 100% her fault or anything too, she has so much stuff going on that things are bound to slip through the cracks.

        That said, I really appreciate the suggestion about being more visible. I didn’t really think about it, and while I’ll have to consider what the best way to do that might be, it’s a really good idea.

        At the beginning I loved having the freedom of the custom role as you said, but it’s gotten to the point where I’ve made all the changes within my authority to do so, and to grow my role further I’d need more authority, my own budget, and more people. Either that, or more structure and clearer goals. Which, of course, is something I’ve brought up too.

        Thank you very much! I really do appreciate your thoughts.

        1. ferrina*

          Sounds like you’ve been doing all the right things! This definitely is a role on Difficult mode. I’m sorry.

          Are you able to filter based on sender? Maybe only allow the CEOs emails through? (sorry if you already thought of that!)

          That sounds so frustrating about the boss! I had a boss like this- knew vaguely what she wanted, but had no idea what was realistic and would just tell me to get it done. I found I could nudge her around to my way by being really proactive on “this is what I think the goals should be, and this is how it will make you look good! What do you think?” I got a lot done by “jotting down some ideas, you can take or leave them” then having her just relieved that someone else was doing the heavy lift. But on the flip side, she never advocated for me. And she certainly would never let me transfer to another boss. That would have taken some serious politics to pull off, and I definitely didn’t have that kind of Jedi mind tricks.

          For the extra resources- sometimes you can sneak this in. Again, there’s a political lift. Start with a small budget for XYZ. Give your boss a small case that’s easy to say yes to. Work your way up in small increments. Where it comes to people, that’s easier when you are saying “no” to business due to staffing. That can get some fires lit (that’s the most effective way I’ve argued for staff- “I can’t work on that new project for at least a month. Unless you’d like me to turn away current clients…..”)

          That’s a lot of work, though, with no guarantee. Wouldn’t blame you if this job had exit timeline that you’ve been thinking about…

          1. Usagi*

            Thank you!

            Yeah, I’ve considered filtering by sender, but even that wouldn’t work since a lot of people email based on the rest of the department’s work, so that would still let in a ton of stuff not relevant to me. Of course, I could make individual filters based on every team member’s idiosyncracies when they write but… I don’t know how mo