open thread – April 28-29, 2023

It’s the Friday open thread!

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

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

{ 1,002 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    A request: Since I debuted the new commenting rules last week, there’s been a lot more “backseat modding” going on — people telling others they’re violating the commenting rules. This is fine when something is really egregious and a clear black-and-white violation (like armchair diagnosing, for example) but I’ve also seen people getting told they’re breaking a rule when they’re not, so I’d prefer people just flag the comment for me so I can take a look at it. And if you find yourself telling people they’re violating the rules more than, like, once or twice a month, I’d definitely ask that you pull back from that. Thank you.

  2. Snow Wolf*

    4 months ago my boss left the company for a new opportunity and has not been replaced. This week senior management let me know that they will not be hiring a replacement in the foreseeable future. We were a department of two, so now I’m a department of one. I didn’t take over his role completely, but there has been a significant increase in my workload.

    I’ve been struggling to stay afloat with this workload until another person was hired, but I can’t keep this going indefinitely. It has caused me significant anxiety (which I’m working on in therapy). All the feedback I’ve gotten has been that I’m doing really well and keeping things running smoothly but it is coming at a significant cost to my well being and is not sustainable.

    I’m going to start a job search, but also will be asking for adjustments to the workload and possibly a raise/title increase in the meantime. I’m not sure what I’m asking for – but does anyone have and suggestions for this type of situation? And also ways to reflect this as an accomplishment on my resume (if I don’t get a title change) – I’m not completely covering the position but have taken on more work and responsibility since my boss’s departure.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Ask for a meeting with senior management. Do some work ahead of time to determine what you think you can reasonably cover going forward. Lay out how much of the work you think you can keep doing on a regular basis, or ask them to prioritize based on ALL of the tasks you have between the two positions. Say that you were happy to do as much as possible in the short term, but that it’s not sustainable.

      I think it would also be fine – good! – to ask for a bump in title and pay, but it sounds like the workload is your biggest problem at the moment.

      1. LCH*

        yes, find out which items they are ok with you not doing. make them understand there will be things that will not get done.

        “And also ways to reflect this as an accomplishment on my resume (if I don’t get a title change)” – i think just straightforwardly saying, “took over [duty/ies] when [former boss title] left the company and [accomplishments during your tenure]” would work.

      2. My Useless 2 Cents*

        I’d be careful about combining the two issues in one meeting.
        Issue #1 – work load; Issue #2 – pay/title raise;
        I think bringing them up together will make senior management think #2 will solve #1, so they give you a minimal raise and expect all the work to be done with no further changes.

        1. ThatGirl*

          A fair point – I think OP has to be clear on both what they are willing to do and what they want in return, but they might need to be two separate meetings.

        2. Green Goose*

          This is a really good point. Years ago my manager was laid off (maybe fired?) and his boss managed me for about a month until he left for another role. Then… it was just me. The workload was already tough with only two, and they threw $10k at me right after my first manager left. I was ecstatic until I realized that it was because they then felt they didn’t need to hire anyone else. While the money was super helpful, I was totally burnt out.

    2. DoodleBug*

      For the Resume, the way I listed a similar situation was something like

      “In addition to the above, performed the duties of the Sr. Wheat Analyst on an interim basis for 6 months while the position was unfilled
      – accomplishment A,
      – accomplishment B, etc.

      1. Zzzzzz*

        I’d put it ABOVE current list so it says in addition to the below, I did X, Y, Z of Sr. Person so it is seen first vs getting lost in the mix of below where ppl may not glance at it.

    3. Clorinda*

      Alison has a lot of scripts on this very topic.
      Do the math and lay it out. I can do A through J, and half of K, but nothing from L to Z. If you need anything from L to Z, I’m going to have to drop something from A through J.
      Management doesn’t have a problem right now; you have solved their problem. Make them have a problem.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        “Management doesn’t have a problem right now; you have solved their problem. Make them have a problem.” THIS!

        They think you can do it all, and you’ve been trying. You can’t do it, and that’s ok. Do what you can, but don’t do more than that.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          Pass the problem they’ve created back to the only people that have the authority to solve the problem. Don’t martyr yourself for their bottom line.

      2. SansaStark*

        “Management doesn’t have a problem right now; you have solved their problem. Make them have a problem.” Chef’s kiss. Perfection.

        And as hard as it is, you have to be prepared to KEEP making them have the problem by not doing L-Z, not working 12+ hour days, etc.

        1. ConstantlyComic*

          Two years ago, the finance department of the county for which I work laid out new cash cash handling peocedures, but they did not train us on these procedures until last week. In the meantime, we had to cobble together our own process based on the expectations that Finance laid out for our branch manager and supervisors. Now that Finance has directly informed us of what they want, we have been making the necessary changes to our process. Fortunately, most of the changes are resulting in less work for staff, but the branch manager and supervisors have been wanting to keep aspects of the process that are unnecessary. There is one thing that Finance explicitly asked us not to do that the branch manager wants us to continue doing (it’s not anything that would mess things up in an audit, just something that creates extra work for us and Finance). I made a guide to and thus am considered somewhat of an expert on the current procedure, so the management team considers me somewhat of an expert on the subject and has consulted me on potential changes, but I don’t think I have enough sway to argue them around on this point. Would it be a bad idea for me to directly email our department’s contact in Finance to ask for clarification on the topic in order to try to get clarification on whether this particular change is mandatory?

          1. ConstantlyComic*

            shoot, I’m sorry. I’m not sure how this ended up as a reply to your question; I clicked the reply button at the top of the page.

          2. GythaOgden*

            I know the feeling! I handle the outgoing post for our building and it can be very frustrating when people don’t really understand what we can and can’t do, or how much something can actually cost to send. There was the issue with recruitment for nurses from Ireland, which is easy because Irish citizens have the same rights to live and work in the UK as our own citizens do — but posting their documents back with insurance was not something our postal machine could handle and I had to explain a few times to Recruitment that we didn’t have the extra paperwork that needed to be filled out and they’d have to go to the post office itself to sort an international signed for dispatch out. Another time, after I’d been off on leave once, we got a bill for sending a large special delivery parcel underpaid, because while I was off my supervisor had seen the £26.60 charge for the weight and size of the package and decided it would be better to try and reduce the cost by weighing something smaller and then using the resulting label to send the larger package. It was clear from the charges we had to pay with the Royal Mail fee tacked on to the balance that trying to save money at the time by being sneaky was only going to result in having to pay it anyway. It was soooo frustrating; I get that they didn’t want to bother me on my holidays but in this and a few other instances, a five-minute phone call could have saved a lot of time and energy, and in one case actual discipline from the higher-ups (for going through back channels rather than official procedures).

            However, I think when it comes to some situations, giving the other person the benefit of the doubt that they need you to do this is important. Just as you like to be respected for what you know, they also are doing their jobs (finally!) and trying to get you to follow a protocol which is important to them and their needs.

            I think starting from a position of enquiry is a good one. Giving the other person the opportunity to explain why these things have to happen and taking them at their word that it’s a live issue for them is a way of working collaboratively and avoiding unnecessary confrontation. Combativeness about things like this, or assuming they don’t need to cross all the ts and dot all the is for the sake of an audit just breeds frustration on both sides rather than seeking to relieve it. Other people are also experts at their jobs and despite sometimes seeming like they’re just making stuff up for the heck of it, when you probe the situation, you often do find reasonable explanations other than ‘So and so is a petty jobsworth with no imagination, an axe to grind and a pogo stick rammed up where the sun doesn’t shine’.

            Finance has a lot of complex rules and legalities associated with it and lack of compliance can be strictly punished because of the need for a lot of oversight and the potential for things to go wrong, from straight up embezzlement to big errors that cost people a lot of time and money to put right. There’s a lot of articles on financial issues in Alison’s archives, but if in doubt, and it involves handling actual money, questioning it too aggressively is going to get you the side-eye.

            So definitely ask, but do so in the spirit of understanding why they’re asking you to do this rather than assuming it’s not required for any internal or external compliance reasons. And good luck with getting it sorted out. The pandemic has left a lot of things undone that should have been done a long time ago, and I totally sympathise — but it’s good not to try and argue before you find out why they are asking for something like this.

    4. ursula*

      You may find that management does not believe things won’t get done, because you have been doing them for a while now. You can explain that you have been putting in extra on the understanding that this was a temporary thing, and it can’t last.

      A script: “I know I’ve been holding things together, but that’s not going to be a long term solution. I have been over-extending myself, thinking this was on a temporary basis, but it is taking a significant toll on my personal life and my experience of this job and it’s not something I can continue doing. Based on a standard workweek, I know I’ll have time to X Y and Z. Occasionally, I may be able to do A or B. I won’t be able to handle M, N, or O unless one of those other items comes off my plate.”

      1. ursula*

        Meant to add: after you have this conversation, make sure you show that you are still doing your good-faith best to get your work done, but also DO NOT start doing things you said you couldn’t do. Even if there are negative consequences for the business. As others have said, pass those consequences on to the people in charge.

    5. HonorBox*

      If you can document as specifically as possible any additional time you’ve put in to keep things afloat – working through lunch hours regularly, staying late 3x/week, working hours on the weekend – that might help them understand how it isn’t going to be sustainable.

      I’d agree with others that you can and should definitely highlight that you’ve been happy to do this with the understanding it is temporary, but putting in all of the additional time you’ve been putting in is not sustainable.

      In the conversation, it’d be worth suggesting that you’d like to receive compensation for the additional work you’ve been doing for the past 4 months, retroactively. If they adjust your workload – which they absolutely need to do – they may decide your pay shouldn’t increase since, in theory, you won’t be taking on more any longer (I’d disagree with this but it may be the case). But they definitely should give you some sort of pay adjustment for that time you were doing more.

    6. Tex*

      Can anybody else estimate the amount of pay (% wise) OP should be getting for such a situation? I’m kind of in the same boat.

    7. Janeric*

      Ooof, I’m in a similar situation. My sympathy.

      I took a stay-at-home vacation, polished my resume, prized my ego away from my job performance, applied for a couple of jobs, and went back. I am slow-motion job-hunting whenever things get particularly annoying. I’m focusing on tasks required to keep us in compliance with the law and long-term high-priority tasks and then pushing back on other requests for more rapid turnaround with “My time is filled by X and Y, if you want me to work on Z you need to confirm with Director that it’s OK that we’re out of compliance on X or that Y is delayed.”

      It still sucks! I’m still pulled in about eight different directions!

  3. Surprise: Manager!*

    Last week I had a recruiter screening for a UX design role. Good camaraderie, seemed to go well. The only snafu was one moment where I got too far in the weeds discussing my experience (going into details about my work in industries that she had no reason to care about) but I caught myself and reined it in to get back on track. Wrapped up by saying I really enjoy learning, which she said she could tell by how fluently I could discuss multiple industries, so that seemed to end up being a plus rather than a minus.

    Got a rejection e-mail today saying they went with someone else who had more experience building a team. Ended with “thanks for taking the time to speak with me about the design manager role.” 

    Literally not once in the job ad (which I saw on three different job boards), in our e-mails, or in the verbal screening did ANYONE say this was a manager role. It was presented as an individual contributor role, I applied as an individual contributor, and the interview was carried out as if I would be an individual contributor. Now the rejection says I didn’t show experience with team-building: well DUH, we never discussed that! I am so annoyed.

    Not sure if I should write back and point this out, or just let the entire thing go because they’re clearly disorganized and/or poor communicators.

    1. Pink Candyfloss*

      Maybe just semantics? My company has lots of job titles that include “manager” for individual contributors. It’s managing a project, not people.

        1. cabbagepants*

          I’m not sure I agree. I’m an IC but I often act as a technical lead in projects and that requires building a team to work with me on carrying out whatever the project is. I’m not hiring anyone but I am assembling people from within my org and getting their (and their managers) buy in to support the project.

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

        I agree that would make complete sense except that they indicated, “experience building a team” so they are looking for a people manager.

        My guess is that while interviewing for the job title they originally advertised, they realized that one person wasn’t going to be enough and changed directions without explicitly stating it. At any point in the interview did they discuss plans to create a design team?

        1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

          I see project management as team-building-focused – task forces and working groups and such. Or it could have been a throwaway comment.

    2. dear liza dear liza*

      It’s annoying, but let it go. It’s possible that they didn’t realize that was a quality they needed until they began comparing candidates and were looking for what distinguished one from another. Also, conventional wisdom is that candidates want to know why they weren’t chosen, so sometimes the hiring official puts down something that is technically true but not the whole story. (Sometimes the whole story is “the selected candidate is the boss’s BFF’s nephew”, somtimes the other candidates did something that annoyed someone, often it’s just “the selected candidate was just better in some ways that is hard to put in an email.”)

      1. The Real Fran Fine*


        Or, they meant to reject OP and sent the wrong form rejection. I had that happen once, but the rejection stood all the same.

    3. LCH*

      you could write back and say you were suprised by this development since the job description you were working from and the interview itself did not discuss this area. and you were sad not to be asked about your experience in this area during the interview.

      or just let it go.

    4. Tio*

      Honestly, once you get a rejection notice it’s pretty much done. They’ve likely already offered the role to someone else and are not going to reconsider.

      You can write back and say something like “thanks for the opportunity. I actually have experience in team building (because I ran the llama farm for 3 years, one sentence or two) and would love to apply if a similar position opens up in the future” but honestly I don’t think those emails do much, most of the time.

    5. rayray*

      A lot of talent acquisition seems disorganized in my experience. I think they tend to click the wrong thing or get candidates mixed up when sending out mass rejections. I’ve been thanked for interviewing for a position I never interviewed for (at the very company I work for!) I have seen rejections come in a year after applying, I’ve seen posts on the recruitinghell subreddit where they don’t even fill in the person’s name – literally a form email of Thank you, [Candidate Name] for applying to the position of [Job Title]. Mistakes are frequent from talent acquisition people, I guess maybe they got the wrong job title when emailing you or they had misinformation.

      1. Rosemary*

        Came here to say the same thing. Good chance the recruiter just wasn’t paying attention to who/what she was sending.

        1. T. Boone Pickens*

          Ah yes, that’s the spirit. Let’s blame the recruiter for a mix up versus the evidence presented that indicates OP wasn’t a fit for the role that the company wanted.

          1. rayray*

            Well, either way, it doesn’t seem like it was communicated clearly to them in the first place. It wasn’t indicated as a job role, and then they were told they didn’t have team building experience which they never spoke about. Had they asked Surprise:Manager about their team building experience, they could have spoken about it. They weren’t asked and then got rejected for lack of that experience that they didn’t get asked about – seems messy in my opinion.

        2. The Real Fran Fine*

          I should I have scrolled down further before commenting because I said the same thing, lol. The rejection was probably intentional, but they sent the wrong form rejection.

    6. learnedthehardway*

      It’s possible that team building / management was a “nice to have” that was not included in the job posting.

      I don’t think it makes sense to point out that it wasn’t in the job posting, unless you can also point out that you have that experience and it was a shame you didn’t get to tell them about it. Even then, it’s not going to make much difference, as they have already made a hire.

    7. Decidedly Me*

      I’d let it go. More than likely, it’s just a template email and they missed up updating a piece of it.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        This was my thought. Don’t ascribe to malice what can be explained by copy-paste mistakes.

        1. Peanut Hamper*

          This! I have seen a lot of those in my life.

          There’s no point in looking backward when you could spend that energy looking forward.

    8. tea and cookies*

      You’ve got to let this go.
      I see a lot of people here complain about job ads not saying what they want. I can say from experience in hiring, that I don’t have an exact role to fill(*): I want someone who can vaguely do X, but the role could actually be X, it could be xY, it could be xyZ or it could be XYzA. There are many ways the role could go, depending on the candidates. It doesn’t mean that I’m disorganized, it’s just that there’s a lot of flexibility, possibly because we could use a lot more staff than we have.

      (*) We’re an engineering company, and I’m talking about straight-up engineering roles.

    9. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      I would say just let it go. It could have been a fluke or typo. If it does bother you I don’t think it would be to bad to write a nice email stating “thanks for letting me know. I hope the person works out. I was not aware that managing a team was part of this role, so I understand why you went with someone else. Please keep me in mind if an individual contributor role becomes available. good luck with the new person. or something. Just don’t expect a return email.

  4. Addressing social media*

    Multiple job-searching authorities have said that having no social media can hurt you during the application process. Is it reasonable to explain why you don’t use it during your application, so it can’t be used against you in a way that you have no opportunity to address? Or do you just have to accept that as a consequence and see how it plays out? I’m envisioning a phrase in a cover letter like “Please note that for security reasons related to my spouse’s career, I do not use social media” or whatever the reason is.

    1. Pink Candyfloss*

      I see no need to discuss social media in a cover letter. If you get to the interview stage and it’s asked about, then you can have an answer prepared along the lines of “I don’t use social media for personal reasons” and leave it at that.

      These “job searching authorities”: are they in a particular field? I can see how some industries might look for social media as an indicator of personality/reach but for many others I can’t see how it’s remotely relevant to the roles.

      1. The Real Fran Fine*

        This. I’m a comms professional, and I have no social media presence to speak of (not even LinkedIn). This has never to my knowledge been a mark against me.

    2. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Nah, I wouldn’t reference it. There was a recent AAM letter about it. It works badly against you if your social media use is crazy/extreme/otherwise reflects poor judgment, but I don’t think it means anything if you don’t have a presence at all. Definitely not cover-letter-worthy.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Nod. I don’t have much public social media under my real name since I job searched for so long and everyone has such strong opinions now ( we can’t hire anyone who is disabled, woke, is a nerd, etc…. also WHY DOESN’T ANYONE WANT TO WORK)

        1. danmei kid*

          … I don’t understand the second half of your statement, what it is supposed to be saying.

          1. ThatGirl*

            I think they are saying that companies are being extremely picky about who they hire for silly reasons and then claiming nobody wants to work.

          2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

            oh in America people who are managers often say people don’t want to work and are lazy. Around 2022 or so they often posted angry screeds about how no one wanted to work anymore. Which is funny because people often apply to work and due to old fashioned ideas or discrimination they don’t accept them or run them out of jobs

            1. Chilipepper Attitude*

              There is a TikTok of the “history of people don’t want to work anymore” It goes back to the 1800s or maybe earlier.

        2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          Ahhh, the virtual ouroboros. Links on sites like Indeed, Monster, Buzzfeed telling readers how important social media is to success.

      2. RVA Cat*

        Question – can they hold your spouse’s social media against you? My husband and I are opposite on the US political spectrum and he often shares articles/meme that are very slanted but would now be considered mainstream.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          If it isn’t a protected category (race, religion, nationality, disability, etc), they can choose not to hire you for pretty much any reason. (There might be a few states where political speech is a protected category, but in general it isn’t.)

          Whether rejecting an application due to your spouse’s social media use is reasonable, and whether you’d want to work for a company that does so, is up to you.

        2. RagingADHD*

          Well, theoretically any person in the hiring process can make a positive or negative impression of you based on…pretty much anything.

          Should they hold a spouse’s social media posts against a candidate? Absolutely not.

          Is it likely? No. If for no other reason that they aren’t likely to browse far enough to even see the connection.

          Could it happen? Eh, sure, it could happen. But it’s dumb and inappropriate, and you shouldn’t lose sleep over what a dumb and inappropriate employer might do.

        3. Clisby*

          How would they know who your spouse is? The only way my husband’s company knows anything about who I am is when he listed me on his health insurance policy and as a beneficiary on his 401K – and it was a little too late to object then.

    3. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      I don’t address it, because like the vast majority of jobs and careers, mine doesn’t need, utilize, or value social media presence.

      And, may I ask, what or who is a job searching authority? I’m envisioning articles thst say things like “Top Ten Ways to Get a Job in This Economy” or “Why Your Application is Never Going to be Seen by a Human (and What to Do About It)”.

      If that’s the case, then I am deeply skeptical of the validity of the “no social media will harm your job search” since those articles are rarely based on any evidence; rather, they’re based on finding headlines that will drive clicks (based on my experience on both sides of hiring).

      1. MigraineMonth*

        I’m putting my money on this coming either from a social media company, or from someone on their platform believing that it will make them stand out as a job candidate.

        I’ve heard about social media companies that can’t even convince their own employees to have accounts on their site, so I’m skeptical that it’s an important decision in hiring in the large majority of professions.

    4. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Uh, I doubt the advice from those so-called authorities. Unless you’re specifically doing marketing or PR, I don’t think the lack of social media matters to most people. For some managers, that’s a plus, as they don’t have to worry about employees blabbing secrets or venting in public.

      I’ve hired plenty of people in the last 10 years and not once did I check their social media accounts. I asked developers for their github or StackOverflow accounts, but that’s it.

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      I wouldn’t mention anything about that, but I will say people who want to hold this against a candidate, please don’t. Some people are actually dodging stalkers or abusive exes. Having a social media presence isn’t necessary unless your job actually involves social media (like if you’re interviewing for a social media manager position).

    6. DataSci*

      I’ve never seen that unless the position is something involving social media! I wouldn’t worry about it or worry about putting that in your cover letter (which would seem out of left field and weirdly defensive to me – my response would be “um, okay?”)

    7. EMP*

      If you have absolutely no internet presence at all (no linkedin, no university page if you’re an academic/researcher, no portfolio page), I’d find that weird, but I don’t think it’s unusual or bad to not have more social social media especially in a work context.

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

      If you’re in a field, like marketing or public relations, it might be important to note because it would seem odd not to have experience with social media — in the same way being a graphic designer with who doesn’t use Adobe Creative Suite, or a web designer that doesn’t use WordPress would be really odd — but for other jobs, I wouldn’t bother mentioning it.

      If the reason is that you won’t ever use it due to specific security reasons though, as opposed to just not into social media (totally normal, btw), IDK, that might be mentioned during an interview if they are a company that strongly likes to advertise/highlight their employees on social and website.

      1. Rosemary*

        I know people in marketing/PR who do not have any personal social media accounts – if they were applying for a job and did a search, you would not find them on Facebook, Instagram, etc. But that does not mean they do not have experience with/use social media as a tool for their job – but that involves using the company’s social media accounts.

        1. The Real Fran Fine*

          This. I do not have my own social media accounts at all, but I know how to use the platforms, having used them at school/in the workplace.

    9. learnedthehardway*

      You shouldn’t list reasons for why you don’t have a social media presence in a cover letter or resume. It’s really not all that important. Plus, it will look awkward.

      If you’re actively applying to roles, the recruiter will have your resume (which is much more informative than a social media profile). At most, recruiters will check applicants’ social media to make sure they don’t have objectionable social media postings.

      If you’re hoping to be found and actively recruited (ie. headhunted), though, then not having LinkedIn or other social media might limit your ability to be discovered / contacted for jobs you didn’t know about. In that case, you should probably work on building your network in other ways – ie. through in-person relationships, attending industry events, joining relevant associations, volunteering in your industry / professional association, etc. etc.

      Of course, there are some roles – particularly marketing or sales related – where having a social media presence IS important – either because you do a lot of social media marketing or because you need to be found by prospective contacts. But even then, most employers will understand that some people can’t have a social media presence, and will have corporate social media channels rather than expecting employees to curate their own social media presence in service of company goals.

    10. King Friday XIII*

      I have been avoiding having employers find my social media since I was on LiveJournal, and I categorically refuse to start now. ;) I think you’re fine not mentioning it unless it comes up, honestly.

      1. singularity*

        Sometimes they’ll look up a candidates social media if you’re a K-12 teacher in some parts of the US, just to make sure there’s nothing that kids and parents could search for and find, but I think it’s very region/area specific.

        I had a colleague once get reprimanded for posting a picture on Facebook of her and her husband drinking at a bar. She worked for a fancy private school and one of the parents saw the post and was very offended by it. She went through and had to alter all of her settings so that parents/students wouldn’t be able to find and access her social media after that.

    11. Some words*

      Authorities, influencers or pontificators? I’d be extremely suspicious of this claim without some pretty reliable data to back it up.

    12. theletter*

      I just can’t see how having no social media presence could hurt your application, unless the job requires a large personal social media presence. With all the recent news around Twitter and privacy issues with Facebook, a lack of social media should be understandable, and the norm should be in professional environments that personal social media use should be ignored if it’s not offensive.

      If the job doesn’t require a social media presence and the lack of it hurts your application, that’s a reflection on the company and hiring team, not the applicant.

      That being said, a linkedin profile that basically reiterates a resume can be nice. But for reasons noted (privacy, etc) it shouldn’t be needed.

      But to answer your question, no, I don’t think it’s something you should address in your cover letter, and including a mention of a spouse’s career might take attention away from your qualifications.

    13. Quinalla*

      Social media is rarely important to your application unless you are posting really bigoted or wild things on social media. If you don’t have a social media presence, it might raise an eyebrow, but generally folks know someone who doesn’t have one for whatever reason (doesn’t like it, stalker, pulled back from it, company or spouse’s company policy, etc.) I wouldn’t worry about it, but have an answer ready – which sounds like you do – if someone asks about it.

    14. DisneyChannelThis*

      I think there’s 2 concerns. First is the candidate hiding something, have they locked down and/or deleted all their social media because they know they hold sexist/racist/extreme views that will be judged against them. Second is the candidate a real applicant, especially for entry level jobs, do they have the qualifications they claim. But both those concerns can be addressed in a phone screen, during the interview process etc. There’s plenty of people dealing with stalkers, or sensitive work or raising foster kids, that might not share anything online deliberately so it’s not like your are going to be the only person the hiring manager ever encounters like that.

      1. DataSci*

        How on earth are they going to decide my qualifications based on whether I post about my weekends on Facebook? That’s ridiculous.

        1. DisneyChannelThis*

          Not weekend activities. More like Joe Schmoe says he is university graduate with a BS from 2019. Is there any online record of him having attended there? Is it on his linkedin profile?

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            No one verifies degrees via social media – you can lie on those just as easily as lying on a resume. Some of us also attended university in the pre-social media days, so there is likely not an online record on the university site mentioning me (and, if there is, it’s not under my current name).

            People who are searching for candidates’ social media are typically doing it because they’re nosy or want to see if they’re the “right” kind of person, not to validate any sort of job-related qualifications (unless social media/PR is the job).

          2. art*

            “Not weekend activities. More like Joe Schmoe says he is university graduate with a BS from 2019. Is there any online record of him having attended there? Is it on his linkedin profile?”

            I don’t put my post-high school schooling on my social media profiles (especially Facebook) because a person I knew in college cannot take the hint about someone not wanting to talk to him and he is STILL salty about it all these years later. I wouldn’t necessarily put my high school on LinkedIn because it just doesn’t seem relevant to that profile.
            But also, anyone could put anything they wanted on their profile, especially about degrees they do or don’t hold. So trying to be all “they said they went to Harvard but I don’t see a Facebook photo album titled ‘Senior Week Regrets 2009’ on here so clearly they’re lying!!!” is a strange way to vet a job candidate.

    15. mreasy*

      If someone with hiring authority is blinkered enough to reject you for not having a searchable social media profile without asking you why, it seems like a bad place to work. When I hire, I search for profiles just to check that the candidate isn’t saying terrible things on it if they have one – but if the job is not literally in social media marketing/management – or at a social media company – it is absurd to hold this against a candidate.

    16. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      I’m still thinking about this, hours later. I realize what I’m stuck on. Wow, way to pivot. So the whole, “you need social media to successfully job search” is worn out. So now it’s “if you don’t have social media, you’ll fail.”
      It’s the same BS in a different package.
      Social media presence is not the key to success.

    17. NotAnotherManager!*

      I do not use social media and have literally never been asked about it in my non-social media/advertising/PR field. If anyone finds it weird, it does not seem to have kept them from recruiting me or get me dropped from the process. And, if not using social media is disqualifying, I probably don’t want the job anyway.

    18. Nina*

      My social media are:
      1) a reddit account not in my real name; by the time-hallowed tradition of reddit, I’ve never told another living soul what my username is
      2) a facebook account not in my real name, locked down to private so all that’s visible to non-friends is the account name and a picture of an explosion
      3) a LinkedIn account in my real name with a bare-bones list of places I’ve worked, and a photo of a plush owl

      Never been a problem.

  5. L-squared*

    Just looking for some quick advice.

    For background, I’m not actively job hunting, but I am at the point that I’m willing to have a lot more conversations if approached.

    This week, a headhunter reached out about an opportunity. It didn’t sound awful, but I’m not exactly sure if its for me. But it sounded interesting, so I said he could submit my resume and I’d be open to discussing it further. He then responded the next day with a calendar link for someone at the company.

    Well, this was sent out to me as an “interview invitation”, and the headhunter sent me a bunch of “interview tips”.

    My problem is, I don’t even know if I’m interested in this job. I said I was open to speaking about it. And while I get that interviews are supposed to be a 2 way street, I feel like framing this as an interview isn’t exactly what I want here. Maybe its a semantics thing and I’m just too hung up on verbiage. But I kind of want to make it clear up front that I’m not trying to sell myself to them, I’m just open to hearing more about it. But I also don’t want to be rude.

    Any suggestions on the best way to bring this up? (Meeting is later this afternoon lol)

    1. Pink Candyfloss*

      This may just be a top level phone screen to gauge interest – very common – rather than a full interview.

      But you do need to clarify that with the HH before proceeding.

    2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Maybe its a semantics thing and I’m just too hung up on verbiage.

      Honestly, I think this is the key. Would it help to mentally replace “interview” with something like “exploratory conversation”? Because that’s what it is, but the headhunter doesn’t have time to finesse the difference of semantics.

    3. Tio*

      I’m falling on the semantics side. You were going to talk to them about the position and what it entails and decide whether you are interested or not, right? You can do that even if this is an “interview”. That’s pretty much what interviews are for, it’s just that most people need the new job so they feel like it’s more one sided than its meant to be. You can talk to them, see if you like it, and then decide “nah, we’re done, thank you”.

    4. Parenthesis Guy*

      Sorry. You’ve been signed up for a first round interview. You’ll just have to ask lots of questions to get an idea of the job at this point.

    5. ThatGirl*

      I have gotten this kind of thing from recruiters and headhunters before, just politely ignore it, they are trying to help people who have little or no interview experience and it’s probably a standard thing they sent out.

      I’ve definitely been weirdly rejected for things after initially being recruited, and it’s like “but YOU reached out to ME!” but it’s all the same to them after the initial interest.

      1. Purple Jello*

        HA! it’s happened to me more than once… the recruiting company called ME to see if I’d interview for a hard to fill position, then during the interview asked me why I’d want to work for their company. I remember laughing and saying that I expected THEM to convince me, “You need to sell your company and this job to ME. I’ve already got a good position. I don’t know why I’d want to work there – you called me and I agreed to talk to you.” My answer always seemed to throw them for a loop. Looking back, they must have had a list of questions to go through, and may not have been particularly good interviewers, or at least were used to interviewing as if it were an audition to the company versus a two-way conversation.

    6. RagingADHD*

      “I’m interested in talking about this position” means “I would like to interview for this position.” Having a conversation with someone at the company about an open job listing is an interview.

      They aren’t interested in maybe kinda sorta finding out if you might consider considering the job. They are looking to hire someone for an open role. If you aren’t interviewing, you are wasting their time. So either cancel, or proceed with the interview and ask whatever you need to ask. But don’t try to recast the interview into something else.

      1. Purely Allegorical*

        I agree with this, in the end. The good news is that since you’re not sure you even want the job, you can go into the interview with fewer nerves and more questions. You might be able to rebalance the conversation slightly to be more led from your end–or you could even be upfront with your interviewer that you told the recruiter you were interested in learning more but aren’t sure you’re totally ready to leave your current position, therefore you’d like to learn as much as you can about the position and have a chance for lots of questions.

        Good luck!

        1. The Shenanigans*

          I think this is key. You have no reason to be nervous, you’re just learning information. So go in confident and relaxed, and hear what they have to say. Figure out what it WOULD take to get to you super interested in the job and ask questions that get to the heart of that. After that, if you still feel meh, then politely excuse yourself from consideration. People do this all the time.

      2. Lady Danbury*

        This. You told them you were ok with submitting your resume, so the next step is to have an interview with the company. Just like with any other interview process, you should be interviewing them just as much as they are interviewing you.

        For future reference, if you’re not sure if you want to proceed with an interview process, the next step after being contacted by a recruiter should be to arrange to discuss the role informally with the recruiter before deciding whether or not you want them to submit your resume to the client.

    7. theletter*

      It can be a little tough to transition from an interview as a candidate’s personal elevator pitch to an interview as chance to learn about the company and the position and see if there’s even a chance to work together. If you’re interested but unsure, and they don’t do their part in the interview to sell the position to you, then you know what kind of company they are and you don’t have to move any further with them.

      As for the interview tips, recruiters always send those out. Recruiters don’t eat unless they can source talented, reasonable people, and while they can’t control how those people act in the moment, it’s worth the two second to send a file with some tips. Recruiters often work with people who are just entering the workforce for the first time or haven’t interviewed for a job in decades and may not know some of the things we take for granted.

  6. Please remove your monkeys from my circus*

    Seeking recommendations for an ergonomic, won’t break the bank desk chair. The fine print:

    I’m short (5’2”), with a long torso and short legs. So I don’t fit correctly in most chairs. Which means I’m generally twisted up like a pretzel when sitting in a chair. My lower back is increasingly angry about this, and buying a new chair seems like a much better option than, you know, doing the exercises I know would fix the problem. Advise from my fellow shorties is especially appreciated.

    Hoping to keep it under $250. And I have a wonderful, clunky old vintage desk with a knee opening of only 22”, so bonus points if the legs/wheels are narrow.


    1. Rebecca*

      Consider getting an ergonomic foot rest. I’m built exactly like you described, including the same height, and I’ve noticed more pain in my knees and lower back when my feet don’t comfortably reach the floor.

      1. Juror No.7*

        Seconding getting an ergonomic footrest. I have height adjustable and tilt-able one from Rubbermaid.

        I am also same height, similar build. Honestly, it’s better to be right-heighted in relation to your keyboard and screen(s), otherwise upper back and shoulder problems become prevalent.

    2. DoodleBug*

      This depends on what is “ergonomic” for you, but I am similarly short-legged and I use a wheeled round massage stool (the kind the masseur/euse sits on, not the kind the massage recipient sits on!) at my home office desk. The seat is nicely padded and comfortable for long use, the height adjustment range goes much lower than an office chair, and I do just fine without back support. YMMV.

    3. Pink Candyfloss*

      Recently saw on Amazon a very cool desk chair that has a wide base which allows you to sit cross-legged and has ergonomic features built in. Would that be something that would work for you? I’m 5 10 so I have the opposite height problem – chairs are always having my knees higher than my hips, and it’s painful to sit. Cross legged is something I’m now exploring.

      1. Please remove your monkeys from my circus*

        I love the idea of the cross-legged chairs, but the leg opening of my desk is too narrow for them. They’re generally 28” or so wide, which is more than I have space for. Having the storage space I need within the square footage available is tricky. But thanks for the suggestion!

    4. Casper Lives*

      I’m 4’11. A footrest has prevented low back pain. I also try to use the stand part of my sit-stand desk, but sometimes I’m deep in the work.

    5. Grad School Attempt 2*

      I’m glad you posted this! I’m 5’1″ (though longer legs, shorter torso) and have also been looking for an ergonomic chair; I’m eager to see the recommendations. I can tell you that the Steelcase Amia did *not* work for me; its lowest seat height of 16″ was too tall for me and its seat depth of 15.5″ was too deep. (It’s also probably wider than 22″ and more than $250, so I’m mostly posting about it because of what I learned about which dimensions do/do not work for me.)

    6. chair suggestion*

      The exact version I have doesn’t seem to be available anymore, but I (5′) have been using a kneeling chair at my office desk and it’s been great! The one I have has wheels; It’s about 20″ wide at the front, and works much better than our conventional chairs that leave me with dangling legs. It was about $120, and there seem to be similar models available in that price range. The way it’s structured means I can’t get away with slouching at all, but that’s probably a benefit to my core/lower back.

    7. Fellow Short Fellow*

      I found my ideal chair at a used office furniture place close to my town, not sure if there’s anything like that close to you? I was able to try lots of different models until I found one that had an adjustable-depth seat, good back support, and sinks low enough to not require a footrest.

      The chair I found originally retailed for $800, and I got it for just over $200.

    8. EMP*

      If you get a lower chair, check if your keyboard will still be at a comfortable height (assuming you type as much as most of us here do). I’m short and need a lower/adjustable keyboard tray if I’m in a chair that fits my height.

    9. I'm short too!*

      I’m 4’11 with long torso, short legs, and I got a kids chair from Amazon that I love! It was called “SitRite Ergonomic Kids Desk Chair” and was about $200. The height can adjust really low and seat/back fits my size very well. The reviews have several other short adults who bought that chair so I’m not the only one! (A word of warning: the box does say “Ages 4+,” which my spouse has never let me live down…)

    10. Jinni*

      I’m the opposite at the same height, short torso, long legs. So I’m not sure I can help…but I find that a footrest (adjustable height – wood) helped a lot. Also I got a small Aeron chair (I don’t remember exactly, but a model for small people). I did pay full price, BUT I have a friend who staked out Aeron clearances for a few weeks and found one for about 1/3 the price – so maybe $300.

      After a lot of nagging from my sports medicine doctor I do the exercises as well. I do go to physical therapy when I can, but he also emailed me a list of videos with exercises I can do to strengthen all those muscles that keep a back strong.

  7. Wrath of Regalla*

    I have my yearly evaluation with my supervisor next week. How do you address in an evaluation that you acknowledge you weren’t doing your best work this year even if there’s nothing that went truly terrible that would be a black mark against you?

    Due to some personal things going on this year, I’ve just had zero energy and focus for work. I feel like I was not on top of things as I normally am. There wasn’t anything I truly dropped the ball on and didn’t do it all, just that I was slower to complete things and delayed working on items. I still delivered everything I needed to, mainly I just felt like my speed was not what it usually was. I want to acknowledge that in my evaluation, and that I am working to be better this year, but I’m not sure how to do that when nothing truly terrible happened that I can point to as a sign that I was dropping the ball. Do I wait to see if my supervisor brings it up? How do I phrase that I wasn’t at the best of my game but I’m working to do better?

    1. Tio*

      I would frame these things as improvements for the next year, or goals, rather than failures. Goal: increase work speed and productivity to exceed current years. Maybe a percentage or other measurable target, if you have a way to metric that and/or your company’s into numbers like that. If you don’t have anything specific that was a big problem to point to – that’s a sign you actually did your job fine. You need to reframe the thinking in your mind as you actually did not do bad! Start thinking of it like “I got everything done, but I aim to do it even better next year” and project that into your evaluation.

      1. Some words*

        Ditto everything Tio says.

        It sounds like you’re beating yourself up a bit for having a tough year. But look at where you said you delivered everything you needed to! When one is having a tough year that is a pretty great accomplishment.

    2. Pink Candyfloss*

      This happened to me in a year when I had a divorce and the death of a parent in quick succession, missed a fair amount of time, met with my boss a couple of times to make sure there was backup for a couple of key projects and to reiterate that this was a temporary situation in which my normally 110% focus on work would be about 75% and I wanted to proactively make sure that the project/the business wasn’t negatively affected by having coverage plans in place.

      Discussing that at my yearly appraisal my boss complemented me on meeting objectives despite having significant personal pressures outside of work and thanked me for being candid and open about wanting to ensure no impact.

      If you haven’t had these conversations with your supervisor before now, and they don’t actually know you have had personal things going on, what is it do you think they will bring up? My measures of success were deliverables being generated within specific time frames and then meeting a measurable variance threshold of time/$. Everything was on time (or early) and within budget (or cheaper). So by objective measurements, my year was successful. Behaviorally, my boss was pleased that I had taken initiative to make sure there was coverage etc and to ask for help before it was really needed. So when you say “I dropped the ball” – are you speaking objectively (missed measurable targets somehow) or behaviorally (I was distracted and my own feelings are I was not on my A game)? That makes a difference.

    3. A Manager for Now*

      FWIW I hit against this one year when I was reaaaally struggling with my bipolar disorder. I definitely delayed major projects and was noticeably just… not doing as well as I typically did.

      Because of my manager and our relationship (it was a great manager), I chose to get ahead of it by kicking off the review by saying, “Look, this year I have been dealing with mental health struggles. I know that while I achieved X, Y, and Z, I also really dropped the ball on A and B. This isn’t who I want to be, I’m working on getting medications right, and I’m interested in talking about strategies to keep to deadlines together.” (said while crying)

      Again… THIS WILL NOT WORK FOR EVERYONE… but for us, it helped a ton. He basically said, “Yeah, I’ve noticed that things have been really difficult this year and I’m glad that you are able to point to a specific thing going on and that you’re working on it. Let’s talk about how we can come up with some goal posts together.”

      I didn’t get a great review, but I also avoided getting a formal PIP and just worked things out with my manager to move through the issues. And I did get better! I’m on a really good combination of meds and, while I had to relocate and left that job, have had two major promotions in the last two years including one where I was on maternity leave for 3 months.

      It’s a little different than yours, because I *had* missed stuff and underperformed greatly, and again, this will not work for every organization or managerial relationship.

    4. House On The Rock*

      It would be perfectly fine to say all this to your supervisor assuming you have a good, open, transparent relationship. You could phrase it as “this year I felt I met all the core obligations of my role but I didn’t have the capacity to exceed in certain areas I would have liked to. This coming year I plan to focus on reducing timelines where possible ” and then perhaps give a couple examples of where you think you could improve delivery time. You don’t have to get into the reasons for why you didn’t do your best, especially if they feel personal, but acknowledging a shortfall can be a relief to a manager who may also want to bring it up.

      The only caveat here is that if you don’t have a good relationship with your manager, or you worry that this would give them an “in” to criticism, then hold it in reserve. If they bring up delays in delivery, you don’t have to get into explanations, but, can say something like “I’m glad you raised that, on of my personal goals is to be faster in delivering the XYZ report and I have some ideas of how to do that, would you like to talk about those now or set up another time?”

    5. Goldenrod*

      I was in a similar situation when I had my eval earlier this year. My husband had had a serious illness and I felt I wasn’t delivering my best at work, even though no one thing went spectacularly wrong.

      Before I could say a word about it, my boss began singing my praises! Effusively! So I didn’t say anything. Granted, he is a truly lovely and rare human being, and that’s just how he is, so a lot depends on how your boss would react.

      My previous boss – I wouldn’t have said anything to her either, for an opposite reason. She would have pounced on any weakness and magnified it.

      If you have a normal boss, I think it’s good to say something, but maybe couch it in positive terms, like, “Despite x and y happening this year, which was challenging for me, I achieved x goals.” That way, you open the door to further discussion without downplaying your success too much.

      I suspect that your boss didn’t even notice that you weren’t at your best, and that it was more of an internal feeling (like it was with me)….Good luck!!

    6. King Friday XIII*

      I had that year about two years ago, and I waited for the penny to drop, and it never came. So I wouldn’t bring it up proactively unless there’s specific, concrete mistakes or missed goals you can point to, and I’d second Tio’s suggestion that you prepare to discuss it as “areas for improvement” rather than as mistakes you’re waiting to have held against you. Honestly, in a good office, if there’s a problem with your speed your manager should have already mentioned it; nothing on your annual review should be a surprise, after all.

    7. HigherEdAdminista*

      I would definitely wait to see if the supervisor brings it up first. Don’t ever be the one to start leveraging this kind of criticism at yourself. It may be that you know you could have done better, but that your work was actually perfectly good and what they were looking for. Don’t plant the idea that it wasn’t.

      1. Distracted Librarian*

        I agree with this. I’ve had rough years and thought I wasn’t performing well, then gotten excellent evaluations. We’re often our own worst critics. Unless you’ve had major performance issues, your boss may be perfectly happy with your work and not have noticed a change.

      2. CheeryO*

        I agree with this. Also, it’s great to say that you’re working on it and trying to improve, but what if next year is just as hard? What if it’s harder? Now you’ve got the stress of knowing that you promised improvement but aren’t showing it, and knowing that your supervisor might be looking at you with a more critical eye.

        If you get any hint of concern from your supervisor, I’d launch right into the acknowledgment, but otherwise I wouldn’t rock the boat, even if you have a good relationship.

    8. Goddess47*

      I’m with King Friday. Unless you’ve already discussed your life with your supervisor, see if they bring it up first. Depending on how large your organization is, the fact that you met goals, did your work and did everything on time may be all your supervisor is looking for.

      And do use what *you* think you are failing on as part of your ‘things to work on’ list.

      If you’ve not gotten any complaints, let sleeping dogs lie. Yearly evaluations should never be a surprised.

    9. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      When my company says no surprises on your review, they are serious.
      Do you get to see it ahead of time to review?
      We are first asked to provide a statement about last year’s goals. Did you meet them? If so, how? If not, why not?
      A few days later we get a copy of our review.
      We have a couple days with it and then a meeting.

      You should ask, because you should not be sitting and wondering. That’s messed up.

    10. Llama Llama*

      As someone who has seen things get hairy because people mention in reviews ‘lower’ quality, I recommend spinning everything as positive. That way if someone else reads it, they don’t think Regalla did bad this year.

  8. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    I’m thinking about time management. It seems that the normal advice ( Eisenhower matrix, etc) not only assumes a finite job ( one where you can run out of tasks) but also being able to do tasks pretty evenly ( the more difficult a task the fewer I can do and some days I can’t do easy tasks). We won’t get into the thing where I only do the tasks I have on the list therefore leaving many undone.

    I’m still trying to optimize my tasks but tbh I might just say fuck it. I do really want to seem cool on front of my new boss though…

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      I hate the Eisenhower matrix. It seems designed for people making high-level decisions. I deal with routine tasks, as well as many, many deadlines. There are circles within circles in my work. And I get emergency things to handle.

      I live & die by my online calendar & to-do list.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Yes it’s like delegate to your staff that you have! or just ignore stuff! My calendar is s Google calendar. the to do list is in my work journal. which seems precious but i think I planned to do a bullet journal or something

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      I really like kanban boards. When the post it note starts fading its time to either abandon that task or prioritize it and get it over to the done side of the bulletin board. Can be hella depressing tho to see all the stuff i need to do at once

    3. cabbagepants*

      when I had a job with a million conflicting priorities and frequent emergencies, I’d try one of two methods: 1) figure out my top three tasks for the day, or 2) ask myself “what’s the bare minimum I can get away with doing today?” Everything else was allowed to fall by the wayside.

    4. Goddess47*

      I’ve not used it but Trello is a free, online kaban board. So it can be kinda-cool but lets you put all of your tasks together and prioritize them. Online lets you get to it from anywhere and, if needed, you can share with your boss or a colleague.

      Try something like that. Or invest the time in searching for another free, online project management tool. There are a bunch and you might find something that fits your needs as well as your working style.

      Good luck!

      1. introverted af*

        I love Trello, and the way you can use power ups now makes it a lot stronger for free users. If you’re just tracking your tasks for yourself, I would highly recommend a free account

    5. Sharon*

      I have been with my company for 25+ years, and have always been a high performer that has been promoted into increasingly advanced roles by taking on extra responsibilities.

      However, I’ve been overwhelmed recently and got some great job coaching from a new manager that really changed how I thought about aligning my time with what my company is paying me to achieve.
      – I don’t have to do everything that comes across my desk even if I can and even if it adds value, because some of it is not my job. They are either paying somebody else to do it or it’s not a priority.
      – Sometimes my company is only looking for a “good-enough” job and I shouldn’t spend extra time delivering the champagne version.

    6. My Useless 2 Cents*

      While priority and deadlines are important, I like to schedule time each week for low-priority or “whenever” tasks. Otherwise, those tasks never get done. I find the last half-hour on Friday is a great time. My brain is tired and I’m clock-watching anyway and looking toward the weekend. So those busy-work, eventually needs done type tasks work really well. I find knowing those tasks are being taken care of can be a great anxiety reliever.

      Also, It can make you look really productive when you are meeting your deadlines and completing those “would be nice” tasks too.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        oh yes tasks that take a long time and are low yield are hard to schedule – like spending two hours getting one sheet of paper

    7. Quinalla*

      My go to is still the framework of GTD – Getting Things Done – applied by using my calendar, one note lists, internal deadline/project tracking and sometimes using a Trello/Kanban like board. And I don’t use full GTD 100% all the time as I don’t really need to – but I dip into it often and dive in when I am really busy. What I really like about it is make the lists you need that make sense for your workflow and personal stuff and don’t be afraid to have random checklists that you just delete/toss when done – I have a constant running grocery needs list for example. Have a “Waiting For” list as needed – this was a lifechanger for me to keep track of things that were on other people’s to-do, but I need to make sure I get them back in time. Keep a General Reference file – electronic (and paper as needed) – and put stuff in there you will need to reference later. For instance, I have all of our car plate numbers, VIN numbers, doctor/medical contact info, home service companies, kid school info, movies/shows I want to watch, books I want to read, etc. I have this in a one note so I can access it from my computer or my phone at any time. If something can be dealt with in a short period of time (define this for yourself, but for me usually 1-2 minutes) just do it immediately and don’t put it on a to-do list. Make your to-do list action oriented, so not Project X but Call Jim about Project X. Looking at actions you need to do is easier than a bunch of words that you then have to remember what you were supposed to do next. Regularly reviewing your lists and cleaning them up (weekly is recommended, I usually do monthly) – yes you should clean as you go, but realistically we don’t always.

      There is more, but that is the big things for me that really, really help!

  9. Is regression now the norm?*

    A new-hire notice this week prompted some thoughts, and a question – if I weren’t only one year from retirement, should I/would I call out my department for a lack of diversity and inclusion?

    About twelve years ago I accepted a position at a company that is a quasi-governmental entity (I’m in the USA, and this is state level, not federal level). My profession is either salaried or contracted, and the deadlines and overtime can be crazy.

    This company is great. Neither deadlines nor overtime is crazy. There are raises each year, in the 2% to 4% range; small but still raises. They go to great lengths to communicate and to listen to employees – town halls, smaller “chat sessions”, ELT sessions, surveys (where feedback is often acted upon). They make sure we don’t lose any ‘official’ holiday time, e.g., if July 4th lands on a Sunday, they give us Monday off. They also slip in some extra (always paid) time off each year, like if Christmas or New Year is on a Friday, they’ll give us the next Monday off. Vacation and Sick Time are generous.

    When the Great Panini first started, they PROACTIVELY had everyone set up to work from home in less than two weeks. Last year they did a survey to see if we preferred to continue to WFH (we still must reside within the state), work in the office, or a hybrid. No surprise, folks voted to continue to WFH, so that is now our official configuration, and they’re in the process of adjusting real estate to support that. Yay!

    BUT now to talk about my department and how it’s changed over the last six years.

    When I started here twelve years ago, my particular department was about 60% female and 40% male. The management levels, starting with Team Leads and going up to Chief, was about 70% female and 30% male. For example, my team lead, my manager, her boss (Assistant Director) and our Chief were all female; only our Director was male, and he was the only Director at the time. There was also one Manager (MAN1) and one Team Lead (TL1) in our department who are from a country where women still struggle within a permission-based culture, have difficulty obtaining education, and so forth. (I’m trying to convey what I hear in discussions with many women from this country, while keeping this as anonymous as possible.) Initial employment from these men’s country (let’s call it MenCo), is on H1B visa.

    So twelve years have passed, and people have retired, been promoted, and left for other opportunities, as people will. My department has probably tripled in size, to about 200 people. MAN1 has been our department’s Vice President/Chief for six years, and TL1 is a Senior Director. But the latest new-hire notice, of another Senior Director from MenCo, made me realize some things.

    Out of the 24 management positions we now have in our department (VP/Chief, Senior Directors, Directors, Assistant Directors, and Managers; we no longer have Team Leads), only three are female. One is a male not from MenCo. All four of them are (only) Managers. The remaining 20 are men, from MenCo.

    The other employees in my department are in two types of roles, and one is considered ‘more prestigious’ than the other. All of those in that role are men; all but two are from MenCo. The ‘lesser’ role is filled predominantly with women from MenCo, mixed in with maybe 6 men from MenCo, and only a few of us old-timers left from before.

    I…don’t quite know what to make of this. It’s really just now hitting me that my department has moved from diversity and inclusivity to…what? I’m not even sure what to call it. The change in perception and treatment of women has happened so slowly that I only really noticed it when I was moved to a different team early last year. Now that I’m working with people who are newer to the company, I’m seeing it more and more.

    I only have a year before retirement, and the benefits and overall culture of this company are great, so I don’t plan to leave this job. But, if I was ten years younger, what would I or should I do? Call out this change? Leave it alone? Commentariat, what would you do?

    1. CommanderBanana*

      I saw a similar thing happen in my last org. The executive director had retired about 2 years before I was hired, and when I was hired the organization was fairly diverse. The new executive director preferred hiring and promoting only white men, or white women who all looked very similar, and over the almost 6 years I was there, the leadership gradually became only white men, and the department the executive director worked with / cared about the most gradually became only white men and thin, conventionally attractive women with long brunette or blonde hair.

      The turnover accelerated as BIPOC staff saw that they would never get promoted under the new executive director or were passed over for promotions in favor of less qualified external candidates who all happened to be – surprise surprise – white men or thin, conventionally attractive younger women with long blonde or brunette hair.

      1. CommanderBanana*

        As to what I would do? I quit.

        As to what you should do? I don’t think the right question is what you should do if you were ten years younger, because you’re not. The question is what you should do now.

        You’re so close to retirement, there’s no point in leaving, but if you have capital you’re willing to spend before you leave, you could certainly start bringing it up. You’re in a position where you don’t really have anything to lose.

    2. danmei kid*

      One year? I’d stick it out, and then mention it either during your exit interview or to an intrepid D&I blogger or reporter after leaving as something they might look into.

    3. Bunny Watson*

      Why is the question what would you do ten years ago? You’re seeing something now and you’ll be gone in a year. Speak up! You’ve been there long enough that you likely have some capital. And if it really causes a problem, you’ll be gone in a year anyway. They’ll likely ignore you until you’re gone, but you can go with clear conscience at least.

      1. Mad Harry Crewe*

        Fer serious! Speaking up doesn’t mean leaving, and you’re in a great position with very little risk. You’re on your way out the door, it’s very unlikely that they would push you out over just ignoring you. Stick up for your values and how you want the world to be shaped. You might not shift the needle, or you might improve a bunch of peoples’ lives. Either way, you’ll be doing the right thing.

    4. just another queer reader*

      It sounds like Top Management has been hiring and promoting people from the same background as them. Just with the twist of not being the typical white man archetype.

      I think the key will be finding someone who a) agrees that there’s a problem and b) has the authority to do anything about it.

      Is your department subject to any equal opportunity regulations? I don’t know, but maybe a quiet conversation with the state Dept of Human Rights could be illuminating.

      1. Camellia*

        Good kep points. Also, I’ll look into the Dept of Human Rights; didn’t know something like that existed.

    5. Fran*

      Look into HR and broader diversity/women’s rights on a state level you can talk too. You have the capital to make a fuss

    6. Alice*

      You have one year to retirement – if the potential cost of speaking up isn’t low enough to handle now, it is never going to be. I think you should raise it.

  10. Amber Rose*

    So my program goes through an audit every three years. The day before yesterday my assigned auditor emailed to ask if next week worked, and I emailed back and said yes but could we do Monday afternoon for the kickoff because I have people starting in the morning.

    And ever since… radio silence. Which is both extremely stressful and 100% not how this process works. When he shows up, I need to have managers available for the “this is the timeline” intro meeting and staff need to be prepared for interviews, so usually auditors give a week to two weeks notice and negotiate meeting times. So now I don’t know what to do. It’s literally in the responsibility document that they send auditors that he’s supposed to communicate scope, timing, review requirements and documentation requirements and I’ve had nothing. I don’t even have his phone number or the name of the company he works for. I’ve just got a gmail address. :/

    Audits are always stressful but this is AWFUL and I’m seriously at a loss for what to do next.

    1. eye roll*

      Can you step up a level? Who assigns these auditors? Someone somewhere has the contact info. Can you send a message that X contacted you about a possible audit kick-off on Monday, but you had to suggest an alternative time, and never received a response? And that since they are obligated to communicate scope, timing, review requirements and documentation requirements and you haven’t heard anything, you’re assuming the audit will not take place and planning accordingly.

    2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Wait, I might be missing something. Is there a reason why you can’t follow-up with the person who originally contacted you? E.g.,

      “Hello [NAME],

      I wanted to check on the schedule for this audit. I had suggested Monday, but I didn’t see a reply. Would that timing work? If so, could you please share the scope, timing, review requirements and documentation requirements?

      Thank you.”

      1. Jenna Webster*

        And if they don’t get back to you, give them a call! You definitely need to know if they’re coming so people can arrange their schedules.

        1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          Ah, that reflects poorly on the auditor. I think all you can do is 1) Keep trying to email (maybe look up the company website for a phone number) and/or 2) Flag this for your manager, e.g.,

          “Hello Manager, an auditing company contacted us to setup an audit for next week. I replied with our availability, but haven’t heard back. What do you advise?

          I sent ## follow emails. They didn’t give me a phone number or other contact information.”

          At this point, you’ve done what you can and it’s on their plate (which, I realize doesn’t really help, since audits are serious, but you really can’t do anything else).

    3. Ginger Baker*

      OK so I am maybe overly cautious/paranoid, but if you don’t have any info outside of a gmail, are you SURE this is the LEGIT auditor? Is it at all possible you are being scammed/he’s trying to breach security? I personally would contact whoever hires the audit company and then reach out to the company main line and a) see if he even works there and b) have them transfer you to the [phone/voicemail] THERE and leave a message (that way if somehow the person who contacted you is using the correct name, you know you are leaving a message for the legit verified contact). Even better, confirm the name of the person with the audit company as the auditor assigned to audit your program (possibly with a full explanation of the super sketch way you’ve been contacted so far and why it raised concerns for you).

      1. Amber Rose*

        Yeah, so the way it works is I send an email to our certifying partner with my audit request form, and they email my assigned auditor and copy me as a sort of introduction. So I do know this is the person they assigned. It’s just too early to make any kind of official complaint. Usually the complaints process has to wait for audit completion.

        Auditors in this program are frequently sketch. It’s an unfortunate side effect of the way the auditing system is designed.

    4. Rick Tq*

      If you don’t have ANY information validating his identity I’d notify your reception desk to hold him at the door. Also contact your Information Systems Security group too so they can be alert for anything odd with your corporate systems.

      Is there someone inside the company who can confirm what company is under contract to do this year’s audit so you can back track?

      An auditor should be sending email from their employer, not from a gmail account.

      This looks too much like a social engineering attack to be ignored.

      1. Mad Harry Crewe*

        Absolutely this looks like an attack. Stop trying to make this work for him and take the steps you need to for data protection and security. If it turns out to be a lot of fuss over nothing, that’s still the right thing to do.

      2. Amber Rose*

        We’re on a peer audit system. It’s like an employee exchange. Your auditor goes to another company, and in exchange you get someone from a different company. That way you just pay the salary of the missing employee instead of the 10K an actual full time auditor usually charges. This system is for small companies with small budgets. My guess is this dude is from a company who is too small for formal email addresses, or hasn’t bothered to give him one.

        This program does send some sketch people out from time to time. -_-

    5. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Ok, I’m an auditor, though not the same type you’re dealing with.

      The ball is in his court, and he has dropped it. It is not your responsibility to pick it up for him. So, if he shows up on Monday, follow the process. There is a process, that process exists for a reason, and it needs to be followed. Good, bad or ugly. If the process means you send him away on Monday, so be it. He didn’t follow the process right.

      In the meantime, CYA. You’ve got your emails. If there’s someone you can contact from his area, try, and document that you’ve tried. Send an email, call them, all of it. Have the paperwork laying out the audit process handy, and know exactly what’s been done/not done, as well as what’s supposed to be done. Beyond that, accommodate as you are able but don’t mess up your area because this guy dropped the ball.

  11. New Mom*

    I have a job interview next week and I knew I’d be getting the questions ahead of time. But I just got an email saying they would send me the interview questions thirty minutes before. I have a meeting until ten minutes prior to my zoom interview.
    I think that’s a crummy practice but is this standard?

    1. Rebecca*

      I’ve never gotten the questions ahead of time, so I don’t think it’s necessarily a red flag that they’re not giving you more time. But since they are sending them, it does seem silly to only give you 30 minutes.

    2. finallyFriday*

      We’ve done that when hiring – either have the person come in half an hour early for an in-person interview, or send the questions half an hour before. In our case, we are not expecting or wanting the person to go and look things up, do loads of research, as we might if we had asked for a presentation. Instead, it’s just to get over the “mind gone blank and I can’t think of a good example” kind of interview response to behavioural questions. So it depends what the purpose of giving you the questions beforehand is, really. I’d try as hard as you can to get out of the previous meeting – are you really going to be much use in it anyway? I would struggle to switch my thinking from meeting to interviewing mode.

      1. New Mom*

        I’m definitely going to try, but one of the reasons I’m trying to leave my current job is due to the level of unresonableness. I might fake a call from the doctors to get out a bit early so I can prep.

    3. Procrastinating at work*

      Getting questions before the interview is pretty unusual so even a little time with them should be helpful

    4. DataSci*

      I’ve never gotten questions ahead of time and can’t comment, but this seems like a way of getting around a requirement to provide questions ahead of time by not actually giving candidates enough time to prepare answers.

    5. Tio*

      Honestly standard is you don’t get the questions at all, so I don’t think this is a crummy practice.

    6. Pink Candyfloss*

      30+ years I’ve never heard of sending interview questions ahead of time! That’s a real privilege to be able to at least have a little time to think about them and have examples to hand. I would love to get questions 30 minutes before! Calling it a crummy practice I think is not fair – it’s a perk, and definitely NOT the norm.

    7. New Mom*

      I probably should have mentioned, the place I’m interviewing is a flagship university and its a requirement that all candidates for any campus job get the questions ahead of time. Maybe this is more common in education because an interview I went to a few months ago (not a university but still in the education space) also gave me the questions 24 hours in advance.

    8. Decidedly Me*

      I’ve never been given questions ahead of time and 30min to think on them would be really helpful.

    9. WellRed*

      Question of the questions aside, anyone you can get out of that prior meeting? Aside from worry it could go long, 10 minutes between the two doesn’t seem enough to reset mentally, etc.

    10. Yes And*

      I’m going to respectfully disagree with the majority of the commenters here and call this crummy. If they are sending you the questions “ahead of time” so that you won’t go blank, they may have an expectation that you will have reviewed the questions, and they may judge applicants more harshly for having a “go blank” moment or reaching for an answer. That’s not a reasonable expectation or judgment; it can be difficult to make time to interview during the workday, and they should recognize that working people can’t plan the rest of their workday around an interview beyond the time of the interview itself.

      Can you explain your schedule to your contact, and ask if you can receive the questions at a time that will actually give you the intended half-hour to prepare?

    11. Catwoman*

      I’ve interviewed previously for a city government position and this was exactly how it was done. They want to give you some time to prep, but not enough time to consult with outside resources that some candidates may have more access to than others. My strategy was to create an outline and come up with a few bullet points I knew I wanted to cover for each question. Definitely try to get out of your previous meeting. Good luck!

    12. H.C.*

      It depends – I’ve had interviews where I’ve never gotten questions ahead of time, and interviews where I get questions a day or two in advance (the latter is more typical for public sector openings.)

    13. Minimal Pear*

      30 minutes seems awfully short–we send them a day or two ahead of time at my workplace.

  12. reject187*

    Just seeking good vibes or whatever you want to send my way. I have a follow-up interview today with a really good school that has a great reputation in the area. They told me I made a good impression on the committee and now I get to try to impress the principal. I’d love this job – it feels like a good fit, the campus is gorgeous and within walking distance of my house, I’m not going in thinking it’s a dream job, and I’m okay with the alternative if I don’t get the position. But the anticipation is killing me. XD

    1. Mona-Lisa Saperstein*

      I’m sending you all my best interview vibes! It sounds ideal, and I hope everything works out!

      1. reject187*

        I think it went okay – I know I’m a good fit for the role, I got along with the principal, and I’m one of two finalists. So now I get to wait for the results – no later than Tuesday, so now I get to sit on my hands just a bit longer.

  13. Emmers*

    Wondering if there is anything to be done in this situation. My colleague was on maternity leave when abstracts were due for an academic conference, and our funding is tied to presenting, and since she was not included on any abstracts while on leave, she doesn’t get any and won’t be able to attend the conference.
    However, when I was on leave the year before, they included me automatically on three abstracts, and I was able to get funding. She could be added to one of the abstracts but the lead author has beef with her and said he would take his name off if he had to add her.
    She did contribute to the research and would be on any publication moving forward but neither of these folks would be lead author in that case.

    1. Pink Candyfloss*

      She contributed to the research, she should have been included in the abstract.

      Another author having a personal issue and saying he would take his name off if hers was added is unprofessional and a huge red flag. ….. do you really need him?

      1. EMP*

        yeah I know academia is full of egos, but I’d be tempted to call his bluff (or not) and tell him it’s fine if his name goes but her name has to be on the paper.

        1. Emmers*

          Its medical academia which is doubly a egocentric mess. I am tempted to force the issue an call his bluff but we work super close together and to complicate matters I’m not an author on that abstract either so I’d have to go management about an discrimination/equity issue- which I would be willing to do but is often not successful.

    2. Pink Candyfloss*

      If she was left off *because* she was on medical leave, and there are documented situations where others on leave were not left off: this is a good basis for a discrimination lawsuit, and you might want to talk to your legal/HR before this goes any further.

      1. WeGetBetter*

        Fully agree. She would absolutely have grounds to escalate this. Your peer who has “beef” is being a shortsighted glass bowl and risking harm to the institution over his personal issues.

    3. begonia*

      Are you in academia? Unfortunately this sounds all too common. No possibility of including her on any of the other abstracts, just one?

      I know this doesn’t help in this case, but I wonder if you could use this as an opportunity to sit down with your supervisor and draft some guidelines for authorship specifically as it pertains to leaves. That will at least help deal with cases like this in the future. I’m a grad student and have done this a few times at the beginning of projects, and it ends up being helpful in the end.

      My sympathies, though. This sucks, and it’s one of the many ways that academia screws people over.

    4. Academic*

      If she contributed, she should be on the abstract.
      Near the end of a long project last year, my coauthor abruptly had to take leave. Everyone tangentially involved with our research – the IRB, conference organizers, journal editors, etc – had processes that allowed my coauthor to be listed even though I was the only one available to present or sign all the paperwork for a time.
      They’re fine now, we got our work published, and both of us got proper credit.

      Beef Prof can take his own name off if he’d rather throw a tantrum. He can’t just cut someone out because he doesn’t like them or because he wants to discriminate over pregnancy.

    5. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      > the lead author has beef with her and said he would take his name off if he had to add her.

      Call his bluff.

    6. HonorBox*

      Is there someone above you to whom you could speak about this? Not so much in a “running to the principal” sort of thing, but more to walk through the inequality of the situation between your experience and your colleague’s experience. And beyond that, the funding that might not follow because she didn’t present could pose larger issues both for her and your employer too. If I was the boss, I’d want to hear about this.

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        At my uni (I’m in Australia) we have Research Integrity Advisers – each department has one or two. They’re academics who get training & sit on the university-wide research integrity committee. We recently had a kerfuffle over named authorship that ended up going to a formal research integrity investigation, but for a less high-drama approach I recommend the RIA if you have a similar position – it’s their job to advise on the right thing to do as a neutral third party, which can help preserve relationships on the research team. Good luck, that sucks for your colleague.

  14. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    All the feedback I’ve gotten has been that I’m doing really well and keeping things running smoothly.
    Smoothly meaning upper management doesn’t have consequences.
    Time for pushback.
    Alison would tell you to make a list of what you do and pick things you need taken off your plate.
    And once you do that, please tell me how. It’s way easier said than done!
    Good luck. You can do this.

  15. Office Perks*

    Looking for advice on remote/ hybrid employees missing out on unplanned in office perks. We have a combination of fully remote employees who only are required come to the office 4 times a year for company wide meetings, hybrid employees who due to the nature of their jobs either are able to work fully remote and choose to be hybrid comming in occasionally or due to their jobs have to come in 1-2 times a months or week depending on role. And lastly we have fully in office employees, a hand-full of who could work remote but choose to be in office almost ever day, or who due to the nature of their roles they have to be in office 4-5 days a week. Our issue that is coming up is remote/ hybrid people complaining about unplanned in office perks, like lunch, coffees, happy hours, etc. These are not official planned events, more like the the CFO happens to be in office (he maybe comes in once a month and it is rarely planned) and buys lunch for everyone, or it’s a long day and the controller orders coffee for the whole office or a mid afternoon snack or someone high up says let’s get drinks after work and takes people out. When we have official events we always have the remote/ hybrid people expense lunch, or send gift cards or what ever, but I have been dealing with remote/ hybrid people saying that if there is a spontaneous office lunch/ coffee run/ post work drinks/ snack run, they should get to expense the same. Am I wrong for thinking that this is one of the perks of being in the office and because they choose to be remote they don’t get it? Just like being able to do a load of laundry, work in sweatpants, or wait for a delivery is a perk of being remote? So far I have been saying it’s a perk of being in the office and they are welcome to start coming to the office if they want that perk, but the push back I am getting from a couple remote employees is making me question if I am way off base.

    1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I am sure Alison has written a post about this — it’s normal and appropriate to have office perks be only for office people.

    2. Raindrops on my head*

      Would they get to expense if they were normally worked onsite and got sick that day?

      1. Office Perks*

        Nope, if they were in office employees and choose not to participate or are out sick, they would not have gotten to expense a separate thing. It’s very much if you are at the office you get to participate, if not, you don’t.

    3. DataSci*

      I mostly WFH (in the office once or twice a week) and am absolutely happy to trade random office perks for not having to commute or park and getting to drink good coffee instead of office machine swill. Is it really the five dollars for coffee they’re complaining about, or the missing out on spontaneous socialization?

      1. WeGetBetter*

        It’s childish. There are SO MANY perks working from home. I’m not upset I miss out on bagel Wednesdays in the least. I’m literally doing my job from our private beach and spending $0 a year on commuting. Jeeze Louise.

    4. Tio*

      It’s one of the perks you trade off for being able to do stuff around your house on lunch and not commute in.

    5. Still*

      You’re not off base. WFH comes with its perks and coming to the office comes with different perks, it’s never going to work out completely even. The employees get to choose which set of perks and inconveniences they prefer.

      1. Ashley*

        I would mention you also did sit in construction traffic, or whatever bad commute story happened recently when you are getting push back. And politely remind them, if it is true, they are welcome to be in the office for perks but you don’t always know when things are happening. (And you can throw out how Alex missed lunch because he was out sick or whatever to help drive the point home.)

    6. Tiffany Aching*

      I’m pretty sure Alison has addressed this before, and the general consensus was that you’re not off base. There are pros and cons to being remote/hybrid/in office — as you pointed out, the fully in-office people can’t start laundry or let in the plumber on the clock, so it’s not inherently unfair that in-office people sometimes get a free coffee or lunch.

    7. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      Hybrid worker here.

      It’s a perk of being in the office. In office typically have other expenses that WFH do not have (commute/dry-cleaning).

      Quite frankly the fact that official events are met with compensation is already above and beyond. If there is an official event I either choose to work in office that day or I don’t go and treat myself to extra comfy pants.

    8. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      I’m fully remote and I wouldn’t care if the in office workers got free lunch every day. WFH get benefits like not having to pay for gas/parking/transit, getting away with having less wardrobe, and being able to do all the things you mentioned.

      They are being ridiculous.

    9. Office Perks*

      Thank you all for the confirmation. I knew I wasn’t off base, but when you hear enough complaints you start to question yourself, so I appreciate the sanity check. I do think part of the reason this came up a lot recently was that one of our fully remote employees happened to be in town one week and came to the office and it happened to over lap with a week where we had a lot of spontaneous lunch/ happy hours/ coffee runs etc happen because multiple different executives happened to come through that week. So maybe they got the impression it was an every day/ regular thing versus a couple times a month thing.

    10. HigherEdAdminista*

      As someone who would love to WFH full-time, I think their push-back is way off base. I could see being miffed if they were getting docked pay or PTO or something, but things like not getting a free lunch? That is silly. That is a perk of being in the office when the downside is commuting there.

    11. Peanut Hamper*

      It’s one of the trade-offs of WHF. Of course you’re going to miss out on some in-office stuff.

      The employees complaining about this are being ridiculous.

    12. Rosemary*

      These employees are being ridiculous. They should stop complaining about what they are not getting by staying home, lest they are forced to come in. They are giving other WFHers a bad name.

    13. Too Many Tabs Open*

      I’m hybrid, and sometimes I’ve missed out on office treats because I was working at home that day. I figure, if I want the treat that badly, I can leave my house and make the commute to the office. Missing out on occasional treats is the tradeoff I make for saving the money and time on commuting and listening to metal without earbuds.

      You’re not wrong at all; it is a perk of being in the office, and it’s perfectly reasonable to save that perk for people who are spending chunks of their days commuting.

    14. HonorBox*

      I don’t feel much sympathy for those who are complaining. When there is a planned event, they’re getting the same sort of treatment as everyone who is in the office. The spontaneous thing is impossible to account for. I was thinking the same as you about the perks that they have when they’re working from home. The lack of commute time… the ability to get a shower after a lunchtime workout… the ability to sign for a package… the ability to not have to fight about office temperatures. All of those things are perks that those who work in office don’t get.

      You could (but sure wouldn’t have to) increase the balance on the gift cards you send a bit, just to provide them an opportunity to get a little more, or carry over a bit to buy a coffee, might be a way to balance things out. But again, I think pointing out to them that they get perks that their colleagues don’t might be the best way to approach it.

    15. House On The Rock*

      It’s a perk for those who happen to be in the office that day. Just like, as you say, being able to forgo a shower first thing or not spend gas on a commute is a perk of working from home.

      I do wonder if there’s something underlying the complaints that is more than “we also want a free lunch”? Is there a perception that higher-ups are privileging in-office staff for interactions and access? That could be a concern, but really, as you say, the answer might just be “if you want that access, be accessible yourself and come into the office”. And, honestly, it sounds as if remote staff have it pretty good with being able to expense their lunches for all staff meetings and the like (I say this as someone who works almost entirely remotely and never wants to go back to the office!).

      1. Office Perks*

        I guess it could be related to the extra face time in office people get with higher ups, but I don’t know how to fix that. It’s not planned time, it’s just the stuff that happens naturally when you are together in an office. Like we have planned stuff also which is virtual, but I feel like this is one of those perks of being in the office. Not to mention, most of our executives are not in office on any regular schedule, they show up for specific meetings and then randomly when they feel like it, they are mostly remote.

    16. WantonSeedStitch*

      I work from home ~95% of the time, and I miss out on office perks like free snacks, once a month free lunch from food trucks, and a few other things. But I have the benefit of not having to deal with a commute that can take ~2 hours a day total if I use a ride app (and cost me $80), or take ~3 hours a day total if I use public transit (and involve lots of walking, not always in nice weather). I have the benefit of being able to have lunch with my family, and to be available to play with my son as soon as the clock strikes five so we get some real quality time in before his bedtime a couple hours later.

      Now, we are also expected to come in a few days a year (maybe once or twice a quarter) for big meetings and celebrations. When we do that, we’re able to enjoy the free food and socialize with our colleagues, which is great. I’m happy to make the trek that often. Maybe having days where there are *predictable* incentives to coming into the office would make the remote folks happier to come in and would help them feel less isolated.

      1. Office Perks*

        So we have 4 days a year where everyone has to be in the office for big company meetings and on those days lunch and dinner is provided, there are post meeting events. And then we have much lower key stuff that happens, and is planned in advance and they are aware of that happens, but the remote people rarely choose to come as most have chosen to live quite far away. On those planned days we provide people who’s choose not to come a gift card/ have them order food on us. So they do get perks but it’s the spontaneous in office stuff they are complaining about.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          If they decide they don’t want to drive in for treats on planned days they get a gift card? And they want the same to compensate them for missing a spontaneous coffee run? Yeah, they’re being whiny.

          If the issue is casual face time with the higher ups, maybe occasionally, when said higher ups have a gap in their schedule, they could do an impromptu last minute Zoom that the remote employees can hop on to for a chat. If they aren’t interested in that, only the free food, then you could suggest that they get gift cards, but need to be showered, groomed and dressed in office appropriate attire during working hours, and are prohibited from doing laundry, prepping dinner, feeding or walking pets, napping, or face to face interaction with family members during the work day. You know, just to make things fair.

    17. The Shenanigans*

      I’m a remote employee and think you are spot on. Sure, it would be nice, and it would make the social parts of the job easier. I have to make sure I put myself in front of people, connect on the company chat, keep track of what I do, and so on. But I figure that’s fair. All jobs have trade-offs, and I am perfectly content with mine. You are right to try to get them to think about whether they are happy with their choices.

    18. There You Are*

      Just this week, my department had free donuts one day, free bagels the next, and free hot breakfast sandwiches on a 3rd day.

      I work remotely, even though I live in the same metro area as our corporate office.

      I used the time I would have spent commuting making myself a tasty omelet on the day of the free hot breakfast sandwiches. I was able to afford the eggs, bacon, cheese, tomatoes, and spinach because I’m not paying $200/mo in gasoline for my car. Ditto the gourmet tea I get from a local tea shop who buys from small tea farms in post-conflict areas.

      I’m happy that my department is giving perks to the people who choose to drive in to the office. I love it when our admin emails pics of lunch at the fancy Thai place down the street when our VP treated everyone on my team who happened to be in the office on the day he decided to be generous.

      1. GythaOgden*

        That breakfast sounds lovely. I find hot breakfast sandwiches actually help set you up for the day, and I remember stopping at Burger King when I was a student after the library closed and feeling the bacon double cheeseburger fat and protein bomb replace the brain cells that I’d just expended on my essays in real time. There was a UK marketing slogan back in the day, ‘Go to work on an egg’, championing the importance of brain food at the beginning of the day. Big English fry-up breakfasts (eggs, bacon, baked beans, sausage, fried bread, kippers etc) actually have the reverse effect on me and are way too much for that time of day, but I do find the occasional egg McMuffin has been a useful breakfast as well as a tasty one.

        Spinach is something I never considered as part of the mix, but next time I’m cooking I might try it — I think I need the iron now I’m not eating beef. (Not anaemic, just in need of extra spoons; as for the beef, I had to eat a lot of burgers when I went away once, about 18 months ago, because I was staying in an out of town hotel for a convention that was situated in a bit of a food desert. I came back feeling ill and bloated, and while I have the occasional beef meal, I felt tons better after switching to chicken and fish.)

        Being in-person, I’ve really tried to bring my own lunch as it’s getting too expensive to be lazy, and being in the UK public sector, sadly we don’t get spontaneous trips to the local Thai restaurant. I also wish I could afford smoked salmon to put on my bagels, but it is a treat when I go to my parents’ house (they actually live closer to my work than I do, so it’s something I do fairly regularly) and can raid their fridge. I might just treat myself occasionally though — fish is packed with good stuff, it’s easier to freeze than eggs are and I’m lucky not to be allergic to prawns like my mum is, so it’s become the fall-back for me.

        Bon appetit!

    19. GythaOgden*

      In-person workers have been largely ignored by the media. WFH is a privilege that only a fraction of the workforce can enjoy, so we need some incentives and perks too, particularly those who can’t work from home at all.

      So no, definitely not off base and thanks for acknowledging the privilege inherent in the WFH situation. It’s only going to get more chronic an inequality as time goes on and we really need someone to take note of this and shut it down.

    20. allathian*

      No, you’re not off base at all, they are. Sure, planned official events should include everyone somehow, but unplanned ones are something else again.

      I’m hybrid, without any defined days when I’m expected to go to the office, so I can choose to go in when there’s something fun planned.

      I can understand the frustration if people feel like they’re missing out on office perks because they always seem to happen when they’re WFH and they have set days when they’re remote vs. at the office.

  16. Michelle*

    Has anyone had a peer coworker that suffered from the Dunning-Kruger Effect? The Dunning-Kruger Effect is when a person’s lack of knowledge and skills in a certain area cause them to overestimate their own competence. They lack such awareness that even when they repeatedly ask for help and can’t do their work, it’s basically futile to even be like, “you need training in X, Y, Z” because they don’t think they need training. (I watched Dr. Ramani’s video on it for narcissism lol)

    It dawned on me one of my coworker is exactly like this. She is extremely deluded that she’s a hard worker and 5/5 performer when she needs help on everything and is extremely incompetent. She’s also not the kindest or most respectful person either; she’s not very likeable in general.

    For those who have also had peer coworkers have this, how did you act around them? Did you boss expect you to help or train them? What did you say to them when they repeatedly needed help with basic things? Where they able to do their jobs at all? What was the outcome?

    1. Tio*

      If you’re at the same level as her, you need to start escalating to your boss if she needs more training. You can have a conversation with your boss about how much time this is taking if you think they would be open to that. Otherwise, you can suddenly become very “busy” if they need help, and start deflecting their emails to the boss or someone else. Training manuals, SOPs, wherever you can send her.

      Now, this won’t work well if your boss won’t acknowledge the issue or deflects it back to you telling you to more or less make time to train her repeatedly, but if you bring it to their attention enough times they might. Also, don’t correct her work at all, let it be bad and let the boss deal with it.

      Good luck

      1. Michelle*

        When you escalate to your boss, do you tell the coworker that you are escalating to your boss, and for them to go to the boss going forward for all questions?

        1. Warrior Princess Xena*

          1. No and 2. Yes.

          Don’t tell your coworker anything like “hey, I’m telling the boss that you’re bad at your job”. It won’t help – no matter how you phrase it you’ll sound like someone telling a sibling “I’m telling MOM!”.

          But DO encourage them to go to the boss with all questions. “I’m not sure – ask Boss!” “You’d have to ask Boss about the schedule” “That’s not my area of expertise; maybe you could ask Boss?”. Be unfailingly polite but deflect all questions to a source that is not you.

          1. Tio*

            This, exactly. I’m not sure about that, you should check with Boss on that, I’m a bit busy, maybe Boss can help you – mix and match to fit the questions (for example, I’m not sure about that probably won’t work if they’re asking you about a core job function you do all the time, but will work if they ask you a higher level question. Whether or not you know the answer to the question is irrelevant – you want your boss to see the same level of annoyance you’re getting.)

              1. Rick Tq*

                Which means deflecting her questions to your boss is more important. They need to see she needs to be either on a PIP or fired.

                Whoever has hire/fire authority needs to feel the pain.

              2. Tio*

                Then you should go with the “I don’t have time to review right now, please check with Boss” or if you really are busy you can kick the email straight to Boss and be like “Jane needs some assistance with this and I’m busy working on the Teapot Diagrams, can you get her some help?” She’s coming to you to AVOID the Boss knowing she needs this assistance, so once it no longer becomes a dodge she’ll most likely stop coming to you.

          2. Michelle*

            the questions are technically stuff I know, it’s my job. she’s incompetent so the stuff she asks is what she is supposed to be doing without guidance

        2. Anastia Beaverhousen*

          I would not tell the coworker, that will just create an adversarial relationship

    2. Anastia Beaverhousen*

      I have a co-worker like this. He has zero insight into “he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know” and is making a LOT of mistakes because of it. Some of these are bound to effect his clients at some point and they are already impacting his co-workers (e.g. causing overtime, extra work etc). It appears that there have been attempts to set boundaries (e.g. flat out telling him not to take 2-3 hours with a client when it should take 50 minutes) and not to work past 5 pm as we cannot be in the office alone with clients (it is a safety issue). Yet he continues to persist. For your person I think it is really up to their supervisor to coach them and get them back on track. My advice is to let that person know when you see problems and give specific examples of the problems their behavior and lack of judgement is causing to the work flow.

      1. Michelle*

        “My advice is to let that person know when you see problems and give specific examples of the problems their behavior and lack of judgement is causing to the work flow.”

        Let the problem employee know this, do you mean? How do you word it?

        1. Anastia Beaverhousen*

          No let the boss know it, for example “Bill has communicated that he believes skipping steps B and C of the teapot painting process is acceptable, I tried to educate him that skipping these two processes will result in the paint not curing properly and it will chip off. I am finding that he continues to skip steps B and C and this has resulted in three batches of teapots this week being ruined and unable to be sent to the customers. Can you talk to Bill about this so this does not continue to happen?” If Bill is a peer there is only so much you can do (in my example the co-worker won’t take my advice based on my gender so there is a whole different set of problems), but the buck stops with the boss if it continues to cost resources and money for the same repeated behavior.

          1. Tio*

            And if there’s no physical impact, advising on how much time you are spending can also work. So “This week Jane asked me to review the painting procedures four times, and I spent half an hour each time going over it with her. This is starting to delay my own work. Can you assign her for more direct training with someone while I get caught up?”

            Give your boss something specific and measurable usually gets the best results. Also, don’t put any judgement of your own on the report, just be factual and emphasize the impact and not the reasons.

    3. Chirpy*

      I mean, so far the outcome is that everyone knows the guy is an incompetent, misogynistic jerk, but nobody will do anything about it or thinks they even can.

    4. CatBurglar*

      Oof you’re bringing back some bad memories of an exceptionally incompetent coworker, also unfortunately in a more senior role than mine.

      This may not all apply to you (the person was the head of a different department that I had to collaborate with, I was in more of a project manager role). I handled it by being impeccably professional, on top of my own stuff, and engaging in written CYA maneuvers (i.e. frequent email summaries after meetings – what I would be doing, what they would be doing, and when they agreed to have their part done). Then whenever I encountered them in a meeting especially in front of other people, responding cheerfully as though they were perfectly competent — “I finished tasks XYZ and sent them out Friday — incompetent person, you said your part would be done Monday, what’s the status on that? Oh, not done, okay, when do you expect to have it?” I also stopped doing extra effort things (like helping to organize/record tasks) that I would normally do as a courtesy, instead returning that effort to them every time — “Ok great, please enter that in our shared tracker!” — and when it predictably didn’t happen, used the same tactics above.

      Thankfully, they were eventually fired. Happy ending!

      In your situation I’d probably try a variation, putting together summaries (maybe to her and to my boss) of what we had covered in training, as well as constantly redirecting her to her own training notes (whether or not I really thought she had produced them) and existing documentation. I’d try to do this in writing as much as possible, and I would carefully keep things cheerful and professional as much as I could.

    5. Awesome Sauce*

      Yes, and it’s very frustrating, so I feel you!

      In my case, the other person was not quite a peer, they were/are junior to me in terms of experience and time at the company, but we are on the same team and they are learning to do a lot of the same work I do. When we’ve been on the same project, I mentor them both formally and informally. Knowledge-sharing with more junior colleagues is expected from people at my level, so that was fine (perhaps a bit different from your situation).

      I have tried to be polite, kind, and encouraging as much as possible, because I want them to be comfortable asking me questions. I give positive feedback whenever I can, even if it’s just “yeah that’s a good question, that can be very confusing.”

      When I’ve run into problems, I try to speak to other colleagues discreetly to see if my expectations are off – like maybe I didn’t communicate clearly and that’s why Junior Person spent 4 hours doing the wrong thing and created 3 extra hours of work for me to un-do it. Or maybe it’s unreasonable to expect everyone to learn this particular nuanced skill this quickly. Most of the time I found that my expectations were at least in the right ballpark and Junior Person was simply not getting there.

      When the problems became a pattern, I looped in our mutual supervisor, and tried to use the kinds of language I’ve learned about on this blog – setting it up like I’m looking for advice. “My instructions don’t seem to be getting through – have you had any luck with a different communication style?” Noting of course that there is in fact a pattern of Junior Person not meeting expectations, but contextualizing it like I want to help them improve and what tools do we have to do that. Again this works great when it’s a newer person and the most junior person on the team – we all want them to learn and be able to take on more of the workload.

      I try to always give my feedback, both to them and to our boss, in very specific terms. “I need X, and they are only giving X-3.” “I spoke to some colleagues, and usually they see improvement in this kind of work within about 30 hours of experience. For us it’s been 40 and I’m not seeing any consistent gains.” I have always tried to phrase it in a way that does not assume malicious intent: “Perhaps work that involves X is not one of their strengths. I’ve noticed they seem to prefer Y, so maybe working on [Y-type project] would be more suitable and set them up for success.” This makes sense in my situation because Junior Person is very eager and well-meaning and generally pleasant to be around. So I have tried to be incredibly explicit in my instructions to Junior Person, and I ask more follow-up questions than I normally would to be sure they understand. It’s very frustrating (like, I should not have to do this level of coaching with someone who has the educational background they have) but I try not to let that show because it isn’t going to improve the situation.

      Results? Well, nobody really blinked when I did not use Junior Person for another X-type project a few months later. Our boss let it slip that there were other performance problems and that a PIP was being considered, but I pretended not to hear it and I haven’t asked. I also have not worked with Junior Person since that last project, so I’m not sure if they’ve improved.

      1. The Real Fran Fine*

        This makes sense in my situation because Junior Person is very eager and well-meaning and generally pleasant to be around. So I have tried to be incredibly explicit in my instructions to Junior Person, and I ask more follow-up questions than I normally would to be sure they understand. It’s very frustrating (like, I should not have to do this level of coaching with someone who has the educational background they have) but I try not to let that show because it isn’t going to improve the situation.

        Are you me? I could have written almost this exact thing about one of my direct reports. It’s frustrating the amount of handholding I often have to do with her because the things she seems to struggle with are basic common sense and taking initiative. Yet, if you ask her, she’s killing it and going over and above for her current level – she isn’t. She’s doing a solid job at her core duties, but I would not consider her a rockstar by any means.

        Unlike your person, however, I do believe my direct can get to that level at some point. She just needs to start trusting her own judgment more and being a more proactive problem solver.

    6. Goddess47*

      Document, document, document. Especially if their inabilities affect your work.

      But in the end, it’s not your problem to solve but it needs to be your manager’s problem. CC the manager on the emails that “I need X from you, can you have it by Monday?” and then follow up. Show them things once, “do you need to take notes on this?”, and then, “refer to the notes you took or ask Boss.”

      Good luck!

    7. LondonLady*

      I would be objectively helpful but oblivious to any attempts to pressure you into doing their job for them.
      eg Q How do I fill in the Z report or where is the template for the timesheet?
      A You’ll find it on the intranet / in the staff handbook
      Q I can’t find that
      A I’ll email you the link / Really, well it if’t not there then I guess maybe Google it?

      Q Boss needs this by 3pm can you help?
      A Sorry I’m snowed under too! Maybe ask Boss if they can give you a bit longer?
      Q Oh man Boss will kill us both if you don’t help
      A Don’t worry, Boss knows what I’m working on, I’m sure you’ll be fine
      Nothing they can complain about, warm and helpful within your scope, but sticking to your boundaries.

    8. ONFM*

      I’ve had a few of these folks work with me over the years. It also hurt that I became a go-to person for some fairly important processes that other people could learn, they just chose not to because they assumed I would handle it, but anyway…here’s what worked for me:
      1. Document any assistance you give them, but only give it to them once. For example, on Monday if they call for help, email them the solution. If they ask again on Thursday, respond with something like “I think this was covered with Monday’s email; my workload is heavy today and I can’t go further into it, sorry.”
      2. Completely distancing yourself from this person is probably the only way to fix this long-term. It might be helpful to reframe the problem; you cannot fix THEM, but you can stop the impact on YOU. They’ll start going to other people instead.
      3. If you have a good relationship with your boss, it might be worthwhile to flag this ONCE in conversation – “Hey, Coworker has asked me about X a few times and I think she’s having a hard time with it, she might need some retraining from you on this.”
      In my experience, what will happen is Coworker will fall behind or make a big mistake and start blaming everyone else for not helping her. If you have documented what you’ve done, you’ll be fine, but these people rarely go down easy…Good luck!

    9. IDIC believer*

      I worked with one like this, Betty. I grew frustrated with her repetitive questions about how to do the same tasks and constantly having to “help” her meet deadlines. Our supervisor was very conflict-adverse, so I came up with my own system. For each type of task, Betty got answers/help twice. I made it clear the third & subsequent times would cost $1/each. Everyone thought I was joking, I wasn’t. Betty wasn’t just incompetent, she was frugal. So she pestered others, but left me alone thereafter.

      I did get some push back from Betty & others that I wasn’t being “nice” or a team player. But, for once, I didn’t cave and made my new policy clear to other coworkers who expected me to “remember” things for them. It was hard to see Betty’s work done wrong or take 3x as long, but I enjoyed my new spine.

    10. Alex*

      Let me see:
      Did you boss expect you to help or train them? YES!

      What did you say to them when they repeatedly needed help with basic things? I sent them links to our wiki where I had already written down the answers to their questions. When they (inevitably) asked how to read the instructions, I tried to answer their questions with as much neutrality as possible.

      Where they able to do their jobs at all? Not very well. Particularly hard for them was when they had to explain why something was the way it was to a customer. They gave out mostly garbled nonsense.

      BONUS QUESTION: Did your boss ever have to dumb down the work of the entire department and put off implementing solutions to problems because the person in question would not be able to carry out the tasks, and she wanted “everyone to be able to understand” the solution (implying that they could not)? YES!

      What was the outcome? I left for a much better job and now hear how my entire department is flailing because this person (who is a “Lead”) doesn’t actually understand most of the department functions. Oh well!

    11. Chaordic One*

      I had a coworker with this. The weird thing was that my boss agreed with my coworker’s assessment of herself. My concerns about my coworkers’ work quality and conduct, and how it resulted in extra work for my other coworkers and for myself where routinely dismissed as me being petty. At the time I needed the job, so I gave up commenting about her. When she was in the office I focused on the work and avoided socializing with her. I was a bit “cool” towards her. I would have liked to have referred her back to my boss, but the boss was frequently out-of-the-office. Coworker eventually “outgrew” her position at our organization and, with strong references from my boss who agreed with my coworker, she landed a job with another organization that was more suited to her estimation of her talents. There was a comparatively extravagant farewell party for her before she left.

      My former coworker lasted at her new job for about 3 months. I experienced schadenfreude. My boss provided my former coworker with several sort-term project contracts. I consider myself fortunate that she was not rehired by my employer as a full-time employee. During one of her frequent visits to our office she made a comment along the lines of how she didn’t appreciate how much support and flexibility our workplace provided her. She was always leaving early and coming in late for all sorts of reasons, admittedly some of them legitimate, but it became a point of contention in her new job. Apparently her “new” job didn’t have someone like me who would fill in for her.

    12. Dramamethis*

      I have an employee just like this and had no idea there was a term for it. I’m off to do some research.
      In my situation the person is now on a final warning for really disrespectful behavior that has been a pattern.
      They also seriously think they are the best performer on they team when they are actually so very not. They are good at some tasks but severely lacking in others that are just as important.

      Document, counsel and bring to HR if there’s a pattern of behavior that warrants escalating.

      1. Dramamethis*

        adding to say, the escalating from you should be to your boss and they would escalate to HR.

  17. Ormond Sackler*

    I had a lengthy panel interview Monday for a job that would be a sizable bump in salary, for roughly the same responsibilities. Haven’t heard anything back yet, which isn’t shocking since I know the hiring manager was traveling, but the waiting game is not fun.

    I signed a relocation payback agreement with my current company, so I would have to figure that out if I switch. Anyone have experience with those? Do large companies typically try to make you pay those back? (For context, the agreement says I’d have to pay back a sliding percentage until three years have passed, and I’m between one and two years now).

    1. FashionablyEvil*

      I don’t know if it’s typical, but companies will come after it—I had a colleague whose husband quit after 11 months and the agreement was that he’d work for a year after relocation. They demanded repayment in full (per the terms of the contract they’d both signed.)

    2. Hlao-roo*

      The only experience I have with a relocation agreement is one that had a claw-back period of two years and there was no mention of a sliding percentage based on time worked, so I assume I would have owed the full amount if I left before two years. I did look through all of the paperwork and calculated the full amount I would owe back, and I decided to work the full two years before I left.

    3. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      Yes they absolutely do come after that, also if they pay tuition or anything else that comes with a retention clause.

    4. EMP*

      Not exactly the same but I had a retention bonus at my old job when I left, which had to be paid back in full if I left within a year of accepting the bonus. I had to cut them a check on my last day.

  18. Hiccups*

    Anyone have scripts for dealing with hiccups? Unlike coughing, sneezing, etc. I don’t feel these coming on. Since entering the second trimester of pregnancy, I’ve been having hiccups as my form of heartburn. It’s pretty constant and random. I’ll hiccup at least 20 times a day, usually after and before meals or drinks. I can tell my boss is getting annoyed at them and that I don’t mute. I’ve apologized in the moment, and I also spoke one on one with my boss about how I unfortunately don’t feel these coming on but he still seems miffed about it and made a comment about how I need to be sure not to hiccup on any calls with Sr. Leadership. (If I could stop I would!)

    Any other ideas? Stop apologizing as I hiccup and start ignoring them? Fwiw my boss knows I’m pregnant.

    1. Rebecca*

      Sounds like your boss is being a jerk about it. If I were in your position, I would mute myself whenever I wasn’t speaking. That’s honestly a good practice even without the hiccups. But I would also start out each call by saying, “My apologies for the hiccups; they’re unfortunately a side effect of my pregnancy.” (Assuming people know you’re pregnant.) Normal, polite people will ignore them and will understand that you can’t control it.

      1. Hiccups*

        I have a lot of pregnancy complications and I think he is just tired of how much it’s impacting work.

        Baby is fine but I am S.U.F.F.E.R.I.N.G. Can barely walk, low platelets meaning I may have to cancel all my 2nd trimester travel, all 3rd trimester travel is already cancelled and then all these other annoying “unprofessional” symptoms like extreme acne and eczema on my face and neck, fatigue, morning sickness, forgetfulness, etc.

        I’m not concerned about my job, this company is super pregnancy friendly and even he agrees with the accomodations I have so far but I think it’s easy for him to be like – ugh one more thing – my wife was fine. I always think – was she though? It was 30 years since he’s had a pregnant wife lol.

    2. CommanderBanana*

      Your boss is being an ass. Hiccup are involuntary. That being said, start muting, and you can explain you’re staying on mute because you have hiccups.

      The only thing that has ever worked for me to cure hiccups is filling a glass with water and leaning over it while standing up to sip from the far side of the glass. Something about that forces my diaphragm to relax. YMMV.

      1. Hiccups*

        These aren’t normal hiccups, it’s due to heartburn. They stop when the heartburn stops and heartburn just comes and goes before and after eating several times a day. From what I’ve read the heartburn is super normal in 2nd and 3rd trimester.

        1. scandi*

          I fully understand they’re not something you can help, and tied to your pregnancy. I think working on muting your mike as much as possible when having them is the only thing you can do (I don’t know how far in advance you can ‘feel’ them, but with my normal ones I usually get a few seconds’ warning). Hiccups can sometimes make a pretty high-pitched unpleasant sound over a microphone in my experience.

      2. Rebecca*

        Sometimes a spoonful of peanut butter helps me. I also recently saw a TikTok that said to shout, “I am not a fish!” Definitely mute first though…lol

    3. Crazy Book Lady*

      Sprinkle a little sugar on you tongue and let it dissolve. That has always worked for me to stop hiccups!

    4. Sylv*

      Sugar! Letting a small spoonful of granular sugar dissolve in my mouth stops my hiccups every single time.

      1. Hiccups*

        So thankfully these aren’t normal hiccups that come in big batches or anything. It’s a surge of heartburn that comes with a hiccup. Sometimes I have one and it’s hours later before another hits, sometimes I have 3 or 4 in a 30 minute period, it’s pretty random. It’s also not like I can feel heartburn and be like – whoop time to mute. The heartburn comes with the hiccup it’s very strange and new to me, but I honestly prefer it to the heartburn that lingers that I’m used too!

    5. Chirpy*

      Say “I am not a fish” or “pineapple” when the hiccups start. It’s super weird, but it kind of works (at least for a while, I think it’s more the novelty of a weird thing to say interrupts the brain, I did have to switch after a while. )

    6. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      Boss is being a jerk. I find hiccups insanely painful, believe me if I could prevent them I would.

      The only thing that ever works for me is to sloooooooowly exhale until my lungs are completely empty, hold my breath out as long as possible and sloooooooooowly inhale until they are as full as possible. Breathe normally for a breath or two and repeat as needed.. Usually 2-3 repetitions will do it.

      Talk to your OB though if you haven’t, heartburn is usually nothing but they might be able to help you out a bit.

      1. Hiccups*

        Yeah OB knows about heartburn but as someone who dealt with GERDs from 22-29 this is very mild and imo not worth medication and risk to baby. It doesn’t bother me enough to even take tums (and I’m admittedly hesitant to take even those for triggering reasons I won’t get into).

    7. Stress hiccups*

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with this, and that your boss is being so unreasonable. I am a very small person who get hiccups that can be heard for miles when they’re stressed out…and once I start hiccuping I get stressed that I’m hiccuping which makes the problem worse. Sending sympathy vibes~~

    8. RagingADHD*

      Is there a reason you aren’t muting? Is he being this way about hiccups while you speak, or while other people are speaking? Have you tried defaulting to mute?

      1. Hiccups*

        I am hiccuping while speaking and don’t mute because I don’t feel them coming on. He’s also irritated by our in person meetings but I can see how I made it seem like it’s just a mute issue.

        I’m muted appropriately when working from home, but when it’s just me and him on a call the culture is to be unmuted.

        He’s the only one commenting/showing irritation about it. My coworker didn’t respond to them while we were working on site during recent travel, but I of course explained and apologized after the first round of hiccups.

        1. RagingADHD*

          But I mean, if you defaulted to always be on mute unless speaking, that would at least cut down on the problem. You may not feel them coming on, but they aren’t a surprise anymore, are they? It’s a known issue.

          1. Hiccups*

            It’s a surprise when I’m in the
            middle of a sentance I hiccup though? I’m not sure how you think I can mute that. That’s what I was referring to when I said I don’t mute them since I don’t feel it coming on. Not that I’m sitting in group calls unmuted
            hiccuping non stop and raising my hands like – whelp can’t help it.

  19. No Career Path*

    Has anyone else gotten stuck in a bunch of random jobs instead of having a real career? I’ve been feeling depressed and worthless over not having a career.

    I have a Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree. While I was in school, I did internships in my field (including one internship that turned into a part time job, so I was there for two years). After I graduated, I couldn’t get a job in my field, and got stuck in a string of random jobs: A contractor job for two years. Another job for two years (I got laid off). I was long term unemployed, and had to take a crappy, high turnover type job for 10 months just to pay the bills. I’ve been at my current job for almost two years, but am job hunting to escape a horrible boss.

    My job history must look bad because I’ve never stayed anywhere for more than two years and don’t have a career in a specific field. Which may be why I’ve been job hunting for over a year without getting any job offers (the only two jobs I’ve been a finalist for were a job that’s a step up from what I do now and one that would go well with my degrees, but both rejection e-mails said they hired someone with more experience).

    I don’t know how to answer “how does this job fit in your career path” type questions at job interviews. If I could choose a job, I’d want to get one in my field of study, but no one would hire someone who graduated a decade ago over a recent graduate. I have to take whatever job I can get, which has always been a random entry level job. It feels hopeless.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Has anyone else gotten stuck in a bunch of random jobs instead of having a real career?

      I’ve had a bunch of random jobs. I think a lot of people in younger Gen X or older Millennial have as well. I know a couple of Gen X’ers who tried to do the stereotypical Boomer thing (e.g., find a job, stay it in for decades, and then retire), and those people got laid off after 12-18 years, and then they had to figure out something else.

      My job history must look bad because I’ve never stayed anywhere for more than two years and don’t have a career in a specific field.

      Every two years isn’t great, but it’s not terrible either. It doesn’t make you look like a job hopper, but it also doesn’t make you look particularly like a job “stayer” either.

      I don’t know how to answer “how does this job fit in your career path” type questions at job interviews.

      I’ve had a lot of random jobs in unrelated areas, and if I get asked this question, I just tell them I honestly don’t know. I didn’t know 5 years ago that I’d be doing what I’m doing now, even though I love what I’m doing now. I’m open to learning new things and being open to new things.

      Find a way to positive-spin it without lying.

    2. SansaStark*

      It might also help if you can find some common elements in your jobs. Think about your favorite parts of some of the jobs – maybe you really like helping people or entering data or analyzing trends? That also might help you figuring out how a specific job “fits” into your career path and help you sell that in an interview.

      1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        That’s what I was thinking. If possible, find the common thread that makes pulls them together into something more cohesive — even if you weren’t doing it consciously, there are often themes across what we choose. Then the story is about how you’ve been exploring different sides of a core thing and this job is a logical step in that journey. (And even better if that theme/journey could ultimately ladder up to your degree field.)

        And even if it’s kinda weak, that’s okay, just find a story that you can tell confidently. I don’t even have an issue with lying, really — don’t lie about the facts of what you did, but it’s okay IMO to fudge what you liked about a job or why you made a specific choice. (Like when you say you want a new position job to build on your experience in x, but it’s mainly because current job won’t promote you.) There’s a fine line between spinning and lying, and obviously you want to stay on the spin side but it’s fine to be very, very selective about which truths you focus on.

        1. SansaStark*

          That’s such a good point about it being a story you can tell confidently. With questions like this, I feel like they’re mostly for the employer to hear that you’ve put thought into applying for THIS specific job; why you’re interested in it. I hire for an entry-level position and I don’t expect the candidates to act like this is their dream job, but I want to see what stood out about this position and made you go through the hassle of applying for it. Even if the main reason is because you’re broke and need work, there’s gotta be something about the job description that made you apply.

      2. Peanut Hamper*

        This is really great advice!

        Sometimes a career path is not a set of job titles/descriptions but more task/function oriented. I think we’re just programmed to think that it’s the former, when it can be the latter.

    3. m2*

      Is there anyway you could move within your current company? Any openings to stay at same org, but different boss?

      Two years at each place isn’t always great, so if you could I might try and stay where you are or if you get a new role, stay there for a minimum of three- four years if you can.

      What do you like or enjoy about your various roles? What is your skill set? Spin it positively and understand and share your accomplishments. Wanting to go back to your field of study, is there any way you could volunteer or do some kind of part-time role to get your foot back in the door? Any roles open where you had your internship/part-time gig? Good luck!

    4. Fabulous*

      Oof, this was me about 7 years ago. Graduated college in 2007 into the economic decline, took several random entry-level admin temp jobs (some that turned permanent, but never beyond entry level), then went back to grad school. Upon graduating, and despite interviewing at 10+ places within my field, I ended up taking another random entry-level temp job just to pay the bills.

      But that job actually ended up turning permanent and transforming into something more substantial that finally allowed me to flex my skills and develop a niche.

      All this to say, I guess an answer to “how does this job fit in your career path” could be that after a series of positions, you’ve learned that you love doing XYZ and are hoping to find a niche where you can grow an flourish in your role.

    5. Chirpy*

      Same, I’ve managed to stay at most of my jobs 3-5 years, but yeah, only one was in an area I actually studied, and I’m stuck in retail now. I don’t know how to get out either. (Elder Millennial, for what that’s worth)

    6. Wordybird*

      I feel your pain! I have a B.A. in English and am in my early 40s and spent the last twenty years working as a temp (twice), part-time, for a start-up where I got laid off, and two other entry-level admin/comms positions in between staying at home with my young kids. None of those jobs were in the same field.

      I fell into the career I have now 3 years ago with a very small company that needed help more than they needed specialization or experience. They taught me everything that I know about this field, and now I’ve leveraged that niche experience into a better position at a bigger company where I’m in a managerial position for the first time in my entire adult life. I had never even heard of this field when I went to college and while it’s not my dream field or job, it’s where I’ve ended up and I feel comfortable spending the rest of my working life in this field if I need/want to.

      Don’t give up! It’s never too late, and you’re not too old. You may run up on your actual career soon but even if you don’t, that’s okay, too. Good luck!

    7. Music With Rocks In*

      Oh, I feel this very much! I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. I also was unable to parlay my Master’s internship into a job in my (quite small) field, and worked part time and through temp agencies for years before landing in my current position, which is admin-related and easy enough but unrelated to my training and has no upward momentum. I wish I could break into the field I studied for but I don’t think it’s ever going to happen.

    8. GythaOgden*

      Due to being autistic, yes, that’s totally where I’ve been. I had my twenties off work but kept hacking away at voluntary positions in order to at least get some experience on my good days, then I met the guy who became my husband, went back to uni just as we were hooking up to get my Masters (he wasn’t a fellow student, just a guy I was already friends with, and we closed the gap very quickly!) and had a real incentive to get a proper job and move in with him.

      However, I’ve actually enjoyed being a perpetual gofer — I can do a thoughtful job, and the people who praise me for my efforts note that I’m able to think my way through things more, take on responsibility quickly for things and free up time for other people to make more strategic decisions and handle things autonomously. I’m financially independent thanks to a legacy/life insurance payout from my husband’s estate — not large enough to live on for the next forty years but to otherwise helps me live independently on a lower wage — and my parents having had money to squirrel away into property to allow me to live by myself. I’m lucky and I try to both give generously to charity and not just hoard the money I have — money has value only when it’s sloshing about in the economy creating jobs.

      The first job I had out of uni was in financial accounting (audit) and although I enjoyed the crunchy stuff, it was just way too much for me to cope with and there was a lot of studying involved, meaning that it ended up with me wearing myself out. I’m looking for something similar, polishing up my Excel skills, learning a bit of basic coding, and hoping I can get a bit more of a challenge than the wasteland business admin reception has become while remaining in a gofer position. (So, like, I’m a prairie dog looking to become an alpine marmot…)

      Despite the many frustrations of being autistic (I’d classify myself as neurodisabled; I take meds which mitigate some of the anxiety and disordered thinking, but it’s the fatigue that gets me, and the injury to my ankle caused by the depression I got into at the depths of the pandemic really is lame in both senses of the word), I’m quite content in the knowledge that I’ll never be a doctor, lawyer, chartered accountant or so on, and although I need a new job closer to home to free up a lot of my spoons, I’m simply happy being able to work and be independent and have a fulfilling intellectual and creative life outside work with minimal pressure to make a living from it.

      I’m thoroughly grateful for the advantages that keep me in Fortnite Vbucks. I certainly owe my parents a lot given what they have given me, both the start in life and their continued support. I owe it to them and my late husband to make of myself what I can, and I’m also grateful to have been in the NHS during the country’s hour of need (my grandmother did her time on the anti-aircraft guns in Essex during the war; being part of the effort to get the vaccine programme rolled out in the UK was something I am proud of doing and I keep the George Cross badge I got from being an employee of the NHS in the same sort of box that my grandparents kept their war medals in to remind me of playing my part in it all).

      I’m enjoying life as much as I can knowing that what I do enables other people to do their jobs properly as well.

  20. Volatile co-worker*

    I will soon announce to our very small team that I will leave. My team lead is already informed and we agreed to wait until beginning of next month to let the others know.
    One of my co-workers reacted rather unkindly to a previous colleague switching teams within our company. I am therefore expecting some snide comments myself, especially since I will move on while we are looking to expand the team and have had no luck so far.
    Our team lead and wider department culture is responsible for us taking on too much work habitually, however the volatile co-worker imposes even stricter SLAs on themself. Both are reasons I am leaving.
    I expect some comments and frostiness will be unavoidable. If you have some suggestions on dealing with that directly, do let me know. Feel free to share your own stories as well.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Why do you care about the comments?

      I don’t mean to be flippant, but you already know this person is a jerk, and they will shortly have no power over you. So you should just ignore any and all jerkiness.

      It’s like trading in your car. You can ignore that annoying hum the fan makes for 2 weeks, because you’ve got a new car on the way, right?

      1. Volatile co-worker*

        We are going to work together closely for quite a while yet (not US, think months not weeks) so I am preparing for the long run.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Externally: if your coworkers are passive-aggressive, respond to their words and not their tone. If someone says “must be nice to have found a better job” while sneering, simply respond “yes, I’m really excited for this new opportunity!” in a positive, upbeat way.

      Internally: Use the snide comments as a reminder that leaving is the right choice. Remind yourself that you only have to deal with Volatile Co-worker for 10, 9, 8 more days and counting!

      1. Volatile co-worker*

        Had to laugh, thank you for the reminder. I have done “obnoxious cheerful misunderstanding” to great success before. Guess it’s time to turn it up to 11.

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      Gray Rock any weird comments. Noncommital wording, eg “sorry to hear that Georgie” then immediately change the subject or walk away “now about the TPS reports”/”I’ve got to go refill my coffee”.

      1. Volatile co-worker*

        Thanks “sorry to hear that” is going to be a very useful script I am likely going to use liberally.

      2. HonorBox*

        Absolutely! Ignore as much as possible. Chalk it up to confirmation that you’ve made a good decision.

        And if the comments are made in front of others, you could absolutely respond to the words not tone OR if the context fits, ask “why would you say such a thing” or something like that. Nicely and then let it go, but make sure other coworkers are seeing and hearing what you’re having to deal with.

    4. Lady Ann*

      If this is possible, I’d just give any comments made by this person the best possible spin. Just pretend your coworker is a good person and be deliberately oblivious to any sarcasm or snark.

  21. Flowers*

    Has anyone ever felt a freeze from their boss and actually addressed it with them? How did it turn out? I’m contemplating this but I’m stuck in the overthinking/overanalyzing mode.

    Last few weeks I’ve been feeling something has changed. Full disclosure – I do have anxiety, I am in therapy and I do take medication. BUT – I think I am right in picking up that something changed. Unfortunately I’m not close enough to anyone here to say “hey have you noticed this?”

    So far I’ve asked him in person – “is everything OK?” and texted them a few weeks later if they were feeling better (they had left work sick and I was concerned).

    I am scared to have this conversation because:

    – what if he denies it and says I’m imagining it? I have lots of examples to back it up too but I would feel like they’re so minor.

    – what if he does admit it and it opens up the conversation that I’m not a good fit? I’d be crushed because he’s been the best boss I’ve had to date – encouraging, kind, friendly etc. I have scripts in my head and even notes but I also cry very easily.

    I can deal with not having “friends” at work but if I’m not good with my boss, that worries me A LOT more.

    1. Rebecca*

      There are a million things that could be going on with your boss, making him distant/distracted that have nothing to do with you. What I do when I’m feeling this way is ask at the end of my next 1:1, “Any concerns for me? Anything you need me to do differently?” It’s casual and not awkward, and a totally normal question for a 1:1. When all is well, this almost always prompts the person to emphasize the positive: “No, you’re doing great! Keep up the good work!”

      Also, if your boss is always kind and supportive, I doubt he would handle any serious performance issues by freezing you out. A good manager would have a direct conversation.

        1. Pink Candyfloss*

          Also love it! Only caveat is I might not hold it until the end – you might get a “everything’s fine” because there’s not enough time to go deeper. I might actually lead with it at the beginning of a meeting. Sometimes the manager might then think of something as you talk and you have more time to address any concerns.

      1. Flowers*

        Any concerns for me? Anything you need me to do differently?” It’s casual and not awkward, and a totally normal question for a 1:1. Also, if your boss is always kind and supportive, I doubt he would handle any serious performance issues by freezing you out. A good manager would have a direct conversation.

        I posted an update but it’s not posted yet. But I did ask something close to that and kept it to work examples only. 

        I can think of so many more examples of him being kind/supportive, so freezing out would seem OOC. But on the other hand, I’ve only been here 9 months and maybe there are moments i haven’t fully seen that someone who’s been here 2+ years would know you kno? 

        (I mean, he once apologized to me for having a brusque tone and I hadn’t even picked up on that. No one has ever apologized to me, even when they were clearly mean so….wow yanno?) 

    2. RagingADHD*

      I see no upside to pursuing a conversation about your boss’ demeanor or feelings. Unless they have feedback for you about your work, their feelings and demeanor really aren’t your problem or any of your business.

      Rebecca’s advice about soliciting feedback in your next 1:1 is excellent.

      1. Flowers*

        NOMB – That’s a good reminder. 

        I struggle with the “unsaid” things. I’m used to language/behavior that’s blunt to the point of being out of line…but if someone decides to just not say anything? not respond? sometimes I overthink that. 

    3. RagingADHD*

      Oh, and there were two main times I felt a big change in my boss’s demeanor that made them seem chilly or distant.

      The first one was when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Didn’t find out about it until after she’d left the company. Fortunately she beat it.

      Second one was when he was trying to make arrangements for his wife to go to rehab without his child being traumatized. I eventually found out about it because he needed me to help process the health insurance paperwork.

      Not my business, either of them.

    4. Mad Harry Crewe*

      Most things are not about you. That’s not to dismiss what you’ve observed, but to remind you that, unless there’s a specific thing that you did (or witnessed, or were hauled into, whatever) that you think caused this problem, then it’s very likely something going on elsewhere in your boss’s life that is making them a bit more distant. Keep reminding yourself of that, check in about your work in your next 1:1 (I like the wording other people have suggested), and if your boss tells you everything is good – take him at his word.

    5. Fiona*

      In this case, the best thing to do is REMOVE ALL EMOTION from the situation and remind yourself that this is work.

      Ask yourself:
      – Have you received any actual negative feedback about your work lately?
      – Have you missed deadlines or not delivered?

      If the answer is “no,” then tell yourself that anything outside the work purview is not something you should spend time worrying about.

      If the unlikely reality is that he doesn’t think you’re a good fit for the job, then it’s his responsibility to let you know by initiating a work-related conversation.
      If he chooses not to do that and instead is weird or chilly to you, then he is being a bad manager and that is NOT your problem to solve.

      As someone with anxiety, it’s sometimes helpful to remind myself that anxiety can be a weird form of narcissism, where everyone’s behavior is about you. 99% of the time, it has nothing to do with you. I say this out of compassion because I have been in your shoes SO many times and it caused me great agita!

      Do your work, be friendly, log off end of day and go visit a friend to distract yourself.

      1. Flowers*

        As someone with anxiety, it’s sometimes helpful to remind myself that anxiety can be a weird form of narcissism, where everyone’s behavior is about you. 99% of the time, it has nothing to do with you. I say this out of compassion because I have been in your shoes SO many times and it caused me great agita!

        Wow, spot on.
        Never thought I’d consider myself narcissist but…this is so true.

    6. Flowers*

      Ok so pretty quick update –

      I spoke to my boss today. We were going over something and towards the end I asked if he wanted me to communicate things in a particular way; I used an example from earlier this week where he had been pretty frustrated. that opened up teh conversation and he assured me that he wasn’t frustrated with me and would let me know if there was something wrong I did. I kept it strictly to the work examples but it did give me reassurance that the “freeze” was over so to speak.  

      (It may have also helped that I have been taking my medication this week and I was in a good mood/more regulated, but I have no idea if it’s the medicine or something else. I didn’t mention this to him of course, but I thought back to jobs I had previously where bosses completely became chilly or would suddenly come to me with a long list of mistakes months after and the vague “people have complained _.” My current boss has not done that but I think I’ve become so full of distrust unintentionally. 

      I knew going into this job that I had a lot of bad habits to un-learn and that’s what I’ve been trying to do for the last 9 months since I was hired; sitting back and observing and really analyzing/overanalyzing a lot of things. I meet with both my therapist and NP next week so i’ll be talking about this in more detail with them. 

  22. Ruth Wonderly*

    When you have too many tasks and too many deadlines and a manager who is both hands-off and also doesn’t like to hear things can’t get done, how do you prioritize your work? I suppose that part of the problem is that some tasks have actual deadlines but many do not, and many things pop up during the day that also have to be handled in the moment. And it’s been going on like this for quite some time, so I guess I’m just exhausted by all the decisions and I default to working on what’s on top of the proverbial stack of “stuff”. Any suggestions for how to help prioritize and stay on a schedule?

    1. Ashley*

      Have you seen the grid where you categorize things into urgent and priority, priority but not urgent, urgent but not important, not important or urgent? Try and categorize things in that way and pick accordingly. Also consider if you skip X what are the consequences? And pick what you think are these least bad consequences. This is all a work around for a manager who isn’t manager, but at some point they or a higher up need to help give direction or you are doomed to fail unless you have a lot of autonomy in your role.

      1. Ruth Wonderly*

        I haven’t seen that before – it’s an interesting idea. Thank you. I do have a lot of autonomy, but you’re right – I am not really set up to succeed with the workload that I have. Which adds to the challenge….

        1. Tio*

          If you’re worried about blowback from her, you could send out a weekly update email. It just says something like, Hi boss. I’m planning on working on A and B next week, waiting on paperwork for C, and D E and F are in the wings if I have time for it. Any priorities or upcoming projects I should be aware of?

          They might ignore the email, but you at least keep them in the loop. You can also change it up like, D is becoming a priority but I’ll have to focus on it so A and C might fall behind. Let me know if you know anyone I could call for assisstance

    2. Bird Lady*

      Have you had a conversation with your manager? It might be worthwhile chatting with them about the workload and the need to prioritize tasks. There are finite hours in the day, so some things will not get done and some things may be able to be delegated to someone else. You may be able to come up with a workflow that works for everyone.

      It might be helpful to come up with some guidelines such as: anything with a hard deadline comes first, anything that involves a payment comes next, anything involving corporate compliance comes after that, etc… But it might be that your manager doesn’t know how much you have on your plate and there’s room to hire/ delegate tasks.

      1. Ruth Wonderly*

        Thank you for the suggestions. It’s hard to talk to my manager about the tasks. She usually says oh I’m fine with whatever you decide, and I know you can’t get it all done. If I tell her I’m feeling overwhelmed and need help, she tells me to not do things so well, or just lengthen the deadline – but most often those options don’t work. And of course, being a non-profit with a small staff, there’s no funding for a new hire, and no room to delegate. But I like the suggestion of using categories to prioritize and then I can fit the tasks into the categories.

        1. MacGillicuddy*

          Instead of saying your”feeling overwhelmed and need help”, say something about having too many tasks to fit into the time available and not everything is going to get done. This takes it out of “feelings” territory and into “just the facts, ma’am”. If boss doesn’t like to hear how things get done, I bet she really doesn’t want to hear about feelings. (This isn’t at all to diminish your feelings, it’s just looking at how your boss seems to think.)

          When boss finds out things are not going to get done, it becomes her problem.

        2. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

          One thing this site has hammered home for me is that as a manager, helping my staff prioritize tasks is very much my job. I tend to be hands off generally but work hard to make sure no one is overwhelmed or struggling to know what to do first.

          Obviously your boss isn’t me and it sounds like she may not realize the role of prioritization. But I would suggest being really explicit until you have some guideposts. “I know you are happy to let me manage the nitty gritty but as my boss, I really want us to agree on some broad terms of reference so that I don’t need to come to you for advice every time something tricky comes up.” That gives them the black and white language of “it is your job to help me with this” as well as showing you understand what she wants the relationship to look like “you are hands off and I respect that, but some of it needs to be you and me working together” while wrapping up with “I will have to keep bothering you if we don’t resolve it” and keeping the whole thing very low drama and “of course you want to help me with this problem.” Tailor for your needs but I bet it helps.

          (Exception : I once had a boss who evaded all cut-to-the-chase attempts to help me with a specific project so I know it can sometimes be a lost battle. In that situation consider that having free rein is a gift you can use to come up with your own system, even if it is frustrating in the short term)

    3. A Manager for Now*

      I like the grid Ashley mentions below, especially for day-to-day prioritization.

      I’ve also used the Effort/Impact chart for prioritizing initiatives that are a little more long range – basically you put how hard something is to complete on the X axis and how much it will contribute to the business in the Y axis. I try to pick ~3 projects to focus on each month that are above the line for impact but in a “low” “medium” and “high” effort. Essentially picking one quick win, one midrange win, and one hard project. If all my stuff is in the “hard” category, it’s time for a really serious talk about resourcing.

      A lot of time those “high effort” category ones are longer than a month, and the “low” ones are shorter, but it helped me out when I was facing not just Too Much from a don’t-tell-me-bad-news boss who liked to delegate, but also really rapidly shifting priorities from him.

    4. Goddess47*

      Investing time in time management feels counter-intuitive but consider it an investment in sanity. Even the sticky-notes on a wall (or something like Trello online) can be helpful in identifying priorities for yourself, since your manager doesn’t sound like they will get involved.

      Sometimes you have to go through that stack and see what you can throw out, too. If something’s on the bottom, has stayed on the bottom, and is unlikely to get done, throw it out.

      Good luck!

    5. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      This is where taking a few seconds to do a task list both can pay off in terms of both decisions and communication with understaffing.

      It sounds like you aren’t going to have help with prioritizing so you will need to come up with a system and stick to it. There are a number of systems out there. All are some variety of the 4 quadrants (Urgent/Not Urgent, Important/Unimportant) . I have a large chunk that fall into “not urgent yet”

      Keeping track of on the fly stuff can be burdensome, but if you are getting no help with priority and getting criticism on things not being done it helps to have a solid list of tasks that were accomplished as well as a way to evaluate what tasks are taking a time burden.

      Example, I work in an office where the largest on the fly tasks are forms that students need. For two years I kept a spreadsheet of every form that came in and out. I started it during COVID to make sure nothing got dropped, but found it really useful when I could push back and say that yes, the forms only take 5-10 minutes each but I average 30 a week with peaks of 60 per week in January and August. Printing out a list of what was accomplished can be eye opening for hands-off managers.

      For your own sanity sit back and evaluate do the pop-up tasks ACTUALLY have to be handled in the moment. It is easier sometime to treat them that way, but it can be more efficient to block off time to deal with pop-ups. In other words take away some decision fatigue by deciding priorities and sticking to them. Take a few minutes either daily or weekly to review and adjust priorities as needed.

      1. Ruth Wonderly*

        Good ideas! I already have a task list I keep in excel (so it’s easier to move things around). This gives me some ideas of how I can build upon things I’m already doing. And you’re right, I may need to block off time for certain repetitive pop up tasks.

        And honestly, it’s so nice to hear from other people – sometimes I think I’m the only one struggling to figure it out! I appreciate the help y’all!

        1. LBD*

          If your decision making process is helped by bouncing ideas off of someone else, is there somebody in your organization besides your boss who you could do that with in a low key sort of way? You don’t want to make them responsible for deciding priorities. Instead more of “I’m so frustrated that my focus on BigX was derailed by TinybuturgentY so many times today!” Then later you might have an opportunity for a celebratory “BigX is done!”
          It won’t help with not knowing what your boss prioritizes but it might help how much frustration you feel.

        2. Tired*

          A bit late but very much in the same boat. Empathy! Blocking off time to deal with the little things that come in each day AND having somewhere to park them until that time – a piece of paper, a folder in your inbox or a coloured flag for emails so you can pull them all together when you reach that blocked off time – is very useful.

          I have a weekly meeting with myself (usually Friday afternoon) to braindump, check the calendar and inbox, look at my longer term priorities, and generally take a higher level view of the coming week and month so I can make the next weeks plan (remembering I can’t plan to use all my hours on those tasks because there’s going to be x amount of. Small urgent tasks taking up 1-2 hours a day or whatever)

          The big one mental health wise for me has been making all my to do lists ephemeral – post its, scratch paper, electronic lists – and in my physical diary I write a DONE list each day – really helped me get a more balanced view & see that even if I ended the week with a longer list than I had at the beginning, I’ve still done a weeks worth of actual work!

          Good luck!

  23. Searching in Texas*

    Those who are US-based, when you are looking for a remote job, are you turned off by jobs that only allow you to work in a few select states?

    I’m in Texas, but am probably looking to move in a year. Yesterday I didn’t apply to a job where TX was allowed for employees, but it only included, CA, WA, CO, NY, ME, MA. I’m still deciding where I want to move to, but it’s kind of a turn off when they only allow a few states.

    1. eye roll*

      How large a company are you looking at? Because it’s going to take some work to find one that is willing and able to register, pay taxes, pay UI, and keep up on employment laws in every single state.

    2. Mona-Lisa Saperstein*

      It is my understanding that this is usually for reasons related to (1) tax and employment law or (2) the organization’s operations, so I don’t think anything of it.

    3. Feral Humanist*

      I’m curious about why it turns you off. Those are probably states in which they have pre-existing tax arrangements, and they don’t want to open it up to others for a new hire, because they can be really expensive. That seems reasonable to me.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        This. I don’t hire anyone in CA, OR or WA because my company is not registered in those states and doesn’t have nexus due to sales levels yet. It’s just the reality of business.
        If employees want to move to those states they need to find another job.

    4. Jujyfruits*

      As long as it’s legitimately because they do business in those states (and I live in one), I’m fine with it. Not all companies are set up to work in every state.

      It’s only a red flag to me when they exclude CA or CO since those states require stating the salary range in the job description.

      1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        Big red flag for me when they exclude states that just so happen to have stronger labor protections!

    5. DoodleBug*

      I don’t see it as a turn-off so much as a limitation. In your example, I’d only apply to that job if I would consider/am considering moving to one of those states.

      One of the largest remote employers in my field unfortunately doesn’t allow employees in my state. I shrug and move on when I see their job listings.

    6. Decidedly Me*

      I’m annoyed when it’s a job I would want, but it’s not a turn off. There a lot of reasons why a company can’t/won’t hire in a particular state; it’s a lot of work, money, and paperwork.

      1. Some words*

        And the company simply may not be licensed to do business in one’s preferred state. Not uncommon.

      2. Tio*

        Yeah, I mean plenty of jobs don’t have businesses in say, Nebraska, Kansas, Wyoming, etc. as they’re not huge sales areas. So plenty of companies have real remote jobs that just aren’t in those states; there’s no reason to start a whole new nexus when there’s plenty of remote workers in their nexus areas.

    7. Wordybird*

      Yes. When I was job searching earlier this year, I didn’t apply at any companies that weren’t truly remote-only. I also didn’t apply anywhere with state restrictions or who asked for salary requirements at all or references to be provided up-front in the ad.

      1. Feral Humanist*

        A company can be truly “remote only” and not function in every state. Remote only means that its employees never have to come in, not that you can live literally anywhere.

    8. epizeugma*

      Also in Texas, and it’s very important to me that I could relocate to any state with my current remote job. In the past year my family has had to seriously consider that we may need to relocate suddenly in the near future, due to potential abrupt changes in trans health care access here. But, I’m not sure which state we might end up in if that comes to pass. Knowing that we could go to any state without disrupting my job is a big relief. I’m only casually looking, but at this point I wouldn’t want to consider any roles that weren’t nationwide.

    9. AcademiaNut*

      It’s a totally reasonable thing to decide for yourself, but also a totally reasonable, and very common, thing for a company to not have business nexuses in all states. So you’ll have to accept that it will limit your options, mostly to large employers that have presence all over the US, or badly run ones who don’t realize the legal requirements and where your employment is only stable until they get caught.

      I’d side-eye an employer than only hired people in places with poor labour protection, though.

  24. Marie*

    Commenters who have ever done an international job search:

    My partner and I are looking at moving to the EU late next year. Currently I am casually connecting with international recruiters who contact me on LinkedIn already, but in addition to that, is there anything else I should be doing now in order to prepare for changing jobs internationally? I have an in-demand tech skillset so I am not concerned with finding a job, but I do want to set myself up for success when it comes time to put the rubber to the road.

    1. Hyein*

      As someone who just went through this, my advice is to get started on having the necessary documents for the visa application ready to go ASAP. I’d assumed that I would just be able to send a copy of my diploma, but I didn’t realize that I’d need to have my diploma and some other documents apostilled, which is a process that takes several months. Because I hadn’t gotten started on this ahead of time, I needed to push back my start date.

      1. Alternative Person*

        In addition to this, check what kinds of visas are available, how they work and what kind of waivers (if any) are involved.

        I work in a non-EU country and we jokingly refer to the visa process as ‘the black hole’ where you throw in your forms and documentation and (hope) something eventually gets spat out, sometimes with a request for more paperwork. If you know what visa type(s) you’re likely to need/get and if you likely need any special waivers/additional paperwork in advance it can help keep the overall timeline down.

    2. ExplainiamusMucho*

      Your first move should probably be to find out how job searching works in your specific EU country – because the EU countries are very different. An example: Recruiters are hardly ever used in my country while they’re very normal in my neighbouring country (to the extent where the recruiters are sometimes present at job interviews). Instead, we use job websites.

      I’d also get internationally recognized transcripts of your diplomas, figure out terms for getting a residence permit (job, language skills etc.) – and of course research workers’ right in your specific country in order to best negotiate your salary and perks (again, rules differ within the EU).

      1. Lady Danbury*

        To piggyback on this, I would research professional norms within your target country/countries as extensively as possible. Also be aware that they may vary by sector/company, just as in the US. Try to make professional connections in the country, such as joining local tech professional groups.

        Be prepared to answer why X country, in addition to the why this company/role type questions. Having a strong answer for this question (ideally including past travel to the country) will not only help your candidacy but also help you to reaffirm that this is the right move for you.

    3. Policy Wonk*

      Are you both job hunting, or does your partner have a job lined up and you are joining? If partner has a job, the company may offer guidance or services to family members – it’s worth asking.

      If you work for a multinational, you may also wish to check if your current company has operations in your target country.

  25. Procrastinating at work*

    How comfortable would you be switching to a company that has had layoffs in the past year and is hiring again now? Any suggestions on judging the risk factor there?

    1. rayray*

      I’d be iffy, personally.

      I work somewhere where there are layoffs and then people quitting because they don’t want to get caught up in it. In addition to layoffs, salaries have been frozen and hours cut for hourly employees.

      I’d maybe read into some glassdoor or indeed reviews and see if there is anything recent. I am guessing if layoffs happened recently, there was probably also an exodus of people worried about their job security so then the company got understaffed, so it may be messy.

    2. Ashley*

      Department and roles matter. Is the area you are looking an area with massive cuts or is it a ‘safe’ department?

      1. Procrastinating at work*

        It’s in the field of journalism, so pretty well known for having layoffs at most companies over the years. Layoffs feel possible at most (all?) companies, so it’s hard to judge if moving to a place that just had them is smart or not

          1. Procrastinating at work*

            Yeah that’s where I’m leaning. I’m looking at a McClatchy paper, which has fewer layoffs overall the Gannett but still…

      2. Isben Takes Tea*

        Agreed; sometimes companies do layoffs in one area in an effort to pivot to another, e.g., they may have layoffs in Sales, but are desperate for Support Engineers. Layoffs aren’t always “the ship is sinking” but “the ship needs to change course NOW to avoid hitting an iceberg.” Are there still icebergs in the ocean? Yes. So if you can get information on the type of icebergs they’re avoiding, that would be a better question.

    3. Pink Candyfloss*

      Depends: is it a function that routinely has cyclical layoffs (like field sales)? Are the positions being hired in the same function that was just laid off? This isn’t an easy question to answer without more details.

      1. Procrastinating at work*

        It’s in the field of journalism, so pretty well known for having layoffs at most companies over the years. Layoffs feel possible at most (all?) companies, so it’s hard to judge if moving to a place that just had them is smart or not

        1. Also in journalism...*

          My cynical take at this point is that given that layoffs are happening pretty much across the field, coming in somewhere that just finished a round of cuts has the potential to maximize your time until the next round…but it’s also kind of impossible to time or predict. Best of luck with your job hunt!

    4. Industry Behemoth*

      Sometimes you just have to make the best decision you can, with what you know and that feels right to you.

      Many years ago I knew a BigLaw attorney who took a job with a BigName corporation client. They were a corporate law specialist, who knew what to look for and did their financial-reports homework before accepting the job.

      Shortly after they joined, the client had sizable layoffs but the legal department was spared. This person was as well equipped as they come, to evaluate the decision.

      OTOH now I remember someone else perhaps a bit better equipped, who took a job which they later admitted had had a glaring red flag. The flag was industry-specific, and anyone who knew their professional stuff should have seen it right away.

    5. Velociraptor Attack*

      For me it also depends on the role and size of the team. I was offered a job for an organization that less than a year previously had laid off their 5-person deep communications team and were looking to bring back a communications person. One communications person. And maybe look at building out more of the team in another year. So knowing I’d be doing the job of what used to be a 5-person team was not appealing.

  26. Another Laid Off Techie*

    Just got laid off. I have savings and in theory will be receiving a few months of severance, but not gonna lie, it sucks! The company did things right as far as offering more severance than they legally had to but at the same time, I felt I was being treated like I did something wrong, with them doing things like disabling my ability to send emails outside the company or join slack channels. Like, idk, there’s work secrets in my slack DMs too and if I want to steal work secrets from my email I could take a photo or upload them to google drive. Just felt punitive. Then they cut off my computer access a day before they said they would.

    Also, why do companies always send so much info about “what’s next for those of us staying” in the same email describing the layoffs and what to expect? Been on both ends of this, as a leaver and a remainer, and always thought it was very gauche. The hundreds of people you laid off don’t need to hear how excited you are for the new corporate structure or whatever.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      There are 2 reasons those things go out together.

      1) PR: that email will get leaked, and so if it’s basically recapping the press release that ought to go out around the same time, then the company doesn’t look like it’s scrambling or unprepared.

      2) To forestall a whole passel of questions from employees who read the first email, get worked up, and never read the “what’s next for those of us staying” email.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      I’m sorry, that’s super frustrating!

      The disable everything immediately is nothing personal, it’s that one time somewhere someone wrote a big “F you and the horse you rode in on” goodbye world post when theirs wasn’t immediately disabled and now company policy is trying to avoid that.

  27. ThatGirl*

    After a year or so of a lot of changes, layoffs and shakeups at my company and in my department, people are feeling burnt-out and frustrated. Our total associate engagement scores in the fall were miserable. What people really want, at least among those I’ve talked to, are better raises and more money for our dept, consistent and fair processes, good leadership, funding for our ERGs (a LOT of people in my dept are in our LGBTQ ERG) and the ability to work from home more than 1 day a week. Instead we’re getting things like a lunchtime book club and “mandatory fun”.

    And look, I like my coworkers, many of them are genuinely my friends at this point. But I don’t need to go to baseball games or parties at our VP’s house to feel engaged and cared about. I need my work to matter and my boss to advocate for us.

    1. rayray*

      Yeah, the past year has been rough at my company too. We got an engagement survey and I was pretty blunt with my opinion that although verbal praise or potlucks are well-intentioned to create fun here, what we all need is raises and bonuses. I also said they should offer training opportunities to help people advance in their careers. We’re here to sell our labor for money.

      If I must spend 40 hours week here, sure, I want to be with people I like and it’s good to let loose sometimes and have fun, but in the end, raises and feeling like our bosses care about our growth is what will really motivate people to stay here.

    2. just another queer reader*

      This is so frustrating! It seems strange that in 2023, managers see bad engagement scores and decide to “fix” them with a pizza party.

      If there were someone at the top who was actually receptive to feedback, I would think that they would have taken better action steps based on the recent survey.

      To be honest, it sounds like you’re in a situation of “your boss/organization sucks and isn’t going to change.”

      Do you think there’s any chance you could get one or two things you want (WFH, raise, ERG funding) and if so would you be happy there?

      I’m guessing that good leadership and fair processes are not within the realm of possibility right now. :/

      1. ThatGirl*

        My manager is good but she’s my third manager in two years, and despite 30 years of experience she has never managed before. I think it’s our VP who is a bigger problem, but ultimately you’re right that the culture won’t change, not quickly anyway.

        I’m not desperately unhappy – there are things to like – but I am a bit worn down and I don’t want to get to the point of desperately unhappy. So I am casually looking, but would only want to jump ship if I were sure things would be better in the long run.

  28. anon for this*

    I’m job searching and will probably be leaving my current workplace sometime this summer for various reasons (I have no access to promotion in the dead end position I’ve been left in here, though my boss did everything she could). My boss is retiring and so a new unit head has just been announced, but I do not like him. From what I’ve seen, he is very two faced. He gives everyone advice on how to treat the many entry level workers just out of college and then in private with any of them he seems to say very negative and impatient and demoralizing things to them about their age, inexperience, and/or generation. They generally don’t know how unacceptable this is, but have occasionally come to me with nasty emails from this guy. I sent a little group of them to HR, but that doesn’t seem to have resulted in any meaningful changes.

    The people at the top trust and respect this guy, and in front of them, he emphasizes supporting the newcomers. Should I warn the others on the way out about what I’ve seen? I actually thought I’d done this, but clearly me saying that I thought there was abuse of power wasn’t enough to keep them from promoting him. It’s not my problem – but I really feel for the entry level folks, who don’t have a lot of options in terms of where to cut their teeth.


    1. Tio*

      I would only warn them if you really trust them, and think there’s anything they can do to protect themselves. He can easily spin it as a disgruntled employee and sour grapes

    2. The Real Fran Fine*

      If you’re leaving anyway, you could try warning the newbies, but be prepared that some of them may not take what you say seriously, especially if they know upper management loves him. I was that newbie once upon a time being pulled to the side to be warned about my manager – who leadership seemed to think walked on water – and it took that manager harassing one of my coworkers who was battling cancer for me to see, oh, this person really does suck. At that point, I was a year in already and it took me awhile to get out, so the damage was done.

      Basically, some people have to experience the awful for themselves.

  29. Diocletian Blobb*

    What are you supposed to do when an employer’s application portal doesn’t give you a place to submit a portfolio and/or cover letter when applying? I was going to simply upload the portfolio and cover letter with my resume, but they give very specific formatting tips for resumes that make me think my application might be screened if I give the resume robot something that confuses it. Should I just put the resume first and everything else under it?

    To make things more complicated, the job ad doesn’t specifically ask for a cover letter, but it’s a copywriting job and I feel like a cover letter is practically a must for positions like that even if the employer doesn’t ask for one. Am I wrong about this?

    1. ThatGirl*

      Is there a place for a portfolio URL? most of what I see is websites anyway (I am also a copywriter).

      I will say not every position asks for a cover letter, even though it does seem like practically a must. I don’t think I submitted one for my current job.

      1. Diocletian Blobb*

        No, no place for anything. They do allow you to connect your LinkedIn so maybe they’re assuming that copywriters will have their portfolio on their profile, but mine is all agency work and thus is request-only.

        As for cover letters, it’s hard for me to believe that any writing job wouldn’t require one, but maybe they just want to see the portfolio. It would definitely be cool not to have to worry about writing one!

    2. rayray*

      I think if they aren’t asking for it or giving a place to even upload it as optional, they may not even read it if you do submit it. The portfolio thing is weird since those are almost always required for a copywriting position, maybe they’ll ask for it after screening your resume.

      I’d maybe look to see if you can find an email for HR/Talent acquisition and see if you can email to ask about it.

    3. AllTheBirds*

      Are you able to upload your resume as a pdf? If so, add a link to your online portfolio and add a cover letter to your resumer so you’re uploading a single document.

    4. RagingADHD*

      I’ve applied for a number of writing related positions that didn’t ask for a cover letter or portfolio on round one. They are inundated with inexperienced people who think typing=writing, and they screen heavily before asking for additional materials.

      If there’s no slot, they don’t want it.

    5. Fitz*

      I applied for a job once that strongly hinted that they wanted a cover letter (though it was not explicitly stated), and they did not have a place to upload. I ended up doing as someone above me wrote— putting the cover letter as the first page of my resume in Word (actual resume as the second) and submitting as a PDF. It worked, though there was a writing sample test in the next round, so who knows if the cover letter meant anything.

    6. The Shenanigans*

      I always just add my cover letter as the first page of the resume. So far, so good.

  30. Contracting*

    My partner is very sick and I’m trying to remain calm as I become more of a caregiver. but that’s leaking into my job and as a contractor I don’t get the paid time off or feel like I can say something since I’m a contractor. I want to be flipped so I can feel a little stable but don’t feel like I should mention my home life. Any thoughts?

    1. Awesome Sauce*

      Yeah, probably don’t mention the specifics of your home life, but I think it would be totally reasonable to talk to your contact person about how you’ve enjoyed working with them and would they keep you in mind if an employee slot opens up. I think it would also be fine to mention your desire for more work-life stability and predictability; no-one is going to care about why because lots of people prefer having some stability.

    2. EMP*

      I would absolutely not mention your home life struggles as it will understandably make the hiring team fearful that you’ll bring your issues to work, but I think it’s fine and normal to say you’re looking for more stable/predictable work. Several of my colleagues made that switch when their kids were approaching college, for example, so there’s many totally unexciting reasons why someone would want to move away from contracting.

    3. Rosemary*

      Agree with the other commenters that you can say you are looking for more stability, without mentioning any specifics. Totally normal. I went from freelancing for ~5 years to a full time role and was asked during interviewing; in addition to saying all the necessary things about why the company/role in particular was appealing, I also said that after being a contractor for 5 years I was looking for stability and a role in a company where I could see myself staying for the long term. As a contractor I felt I had an advantage as I could spin it as “I don’t NEED this specific job…I WANT this specific job.”

  31. Awesome Sauce*

    My grandboss just Teams-called me while driving somewhere on his day off (“don’t worry, it’s hands free”), about something that could definitely have waited till Monday.

    Doing a safety moment about why hands-free calling while driving is not actually safer the next time it’s my turn to lead the department meeting would be a career-limiting move, wouldn’t it.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      That’s why you ask someone else in the group to do it, if that can happen in a way that doesn’t limit their career.

      1. Awesome Sauce*

        Hahaha good idea! I’ll see if a possible partner in crime is coming up as the meeting leader a few weeks from now and maybe I can plant it in their mind.

    2. JHunz*

      I’ve done it to my team’s product manager and he dropped off the call and hasn’t done it again. But I’m the most senior engineer on the team and the others would probably be hesitant to pull the same thing.
      It depends on how reasonable the person you’re talking to is, and probably also on the tone you take when you do – framing it as concern for their own safety is probably more likely to be received well than a lecture approach.

    3. epizeugma*

      Certainly more career-limiting versus saying something in the moment!

      But you might try saying something in the moment if it happens again. “I don’t feel comfortable taking a call from someone who is driving, so in the interest of safety I’m going to hang up and you can call me back once you have pulled over and parked/we can talk about it tomorrow, bye and drive safe!”

  32. Anon for this*

    Has Alison ever said how long is long enough to assume you’re not in her queue, for purposes of the open threads?

    1. just another queer reader*

      I don’t think she’s put a number on it.

      I would assume a month or two, personally (maybe a bit longer if it’s around December, because she takes that month off).

    2. fhqwhgads*

      She usually says to email her to ask if you’re in queue, but I’m guessing if it’s been 6 weeks or more – while she does sometimes post things older than that – she wouldn’t fault you for assuming you’re out.

  33. NYCRedhead*

    I use the phrase “Does that make sense?” a lot and it’s often with lower-power stakeholders. I fear this is condescending. Is there more respectful phrasing I can use to welcome questions?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      “Everyone with me so far?”
      “Any questions on [specific subtopic] before I continue?” – works well as a transition between minor subtopics

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yeah — my brain habitually defaults to “does that make sense” as shorthand for “Did I get that all across clearly, or did I somehow manage to start speaking utter gibberish and lose everyone in the middle?” (because god knows it wouldn’t be the first time).

        It’s never intended as condescension or infantilization, and I still don’t quite understand why it would interpreted that way, but my brain is spicy and people do people things. So I’m gradually retraining myself to “Everyone follow me there?” and “Pause for questions on that before we go on?”

    2. Mochi for me. Mochi for you.*

      Thank you for thinking about your language and how others could receive it or interpret your meaning. Very cool

    3. Wordnerd*

      I train and supervise college tutors, and we work hard to train out “Does that make sense?” because it’s too easy for the client to just say “yes” if they really don’t. For a very high-touch set up (like a one-on-one training) you could ask them to demonstrate or paraphrase back what you have said. If it’s more like a big meeting, “What questions do you have?” can feel more welcoming than even “Are there any questions?”, which can still easily be answered with “no” if they feel uncomfortable taking up space.

    4. AllTheBirds*

      OMG thanks for recognizing how very infantilizing DTMS? is.

      YES it makes sense because I’m not 5 years old.

      1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        It’s valuable to know that people react this way in order to communicate better, and this isn’t the first time I’ve heard it. But it’s not a universal opinion! Unless said with a very condescending tone or about something incredibly obvious, I don’t feel talked down to when I hear this. And I have asked it myself because I am not sure I have been clear — it’s questioning my ability to explain, not the listener’s ability to understand. I often am explaining fairly complex things and it’s easy to lose the plot.

        Regardless, “what questions do you have” is a better prompt overall so that’s what aim for now. It shifts the tone and is more inviting than a yes/no. And like Pay No Attention says, even a shift to “I” helps — Am I making sense or I hope I’m being clear.

      2. Some words*

        I have to push back on this reply. My experience is that almost everyone replies “yes” every time whether it does make sense or not. One doesn’t have to be a 5 year old to not comprehend every statement the first time. Trainees are ashamed if they don’t get everything the first time. Decent trainers welcome questions.

        Over time I found “Does that make sense?” to be a useless question as a trainer. I like “What questions do you have?” as an alternative.

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

      I switched to “I hope I’m being clear,” or “Please let me know if I didn’t explain that well,” That way I’m asking about my ability to convey a thought clearly and concisely rather than their ability to understand.

    6. Goddess47*

      Not every time, but try asking a low-stakes content question. “As a review, tell me X” so that you invite the feedback and do a small assessment of understanding. If it’s a group, make sure everyone gets (even if you have to say, “Susie, as a review, tell me X”) to participate.

  34. Cinnamon Girl*

    There’s a manager “Jen”, not my manager, but she works in our department. She’s always seemed competitive with me and doesn’t seem to like me. There was a staff meeting and I couldn’t go because I had another meeting to attend and she referred to me as a “slacker”. My boss complimented my hair once and Jen overheard and rolled her eyes and made a sarcastic comment. She brags about going to lunch with other colleagues.

    I’ve accepted that she doesn’t like me and we’ll never be friends, but her comments are grating and wearing on me. I’m beyond BEC level with her. Any tips on how to not let it get to me? I’ve been quiet, but I think I either need to learn to ignore it better or be more assertive because I feel bad for not saying anything sometimes and standing up for myself. I don’t want to get in trouble, but I don’t want to come off as weak.

    1. Boxed in McCarthy style*

      Ignoring is a superpower and keeps her power at bay. Like they say, ‘never let them see you sweat.’ But it also feels like you’re condoning their behavior if you don’t stop it. And then you feel like they probably do this with someone else and you could be the one that stops it for everyone.

      It takes a good sense of self to confront her behavior in a way that doesn’t energize her to do more now that she has your attention. I feel that once you attempt confrontation it makes you more confident to keep doing so and the cycle continues.

      Praise yourself for ignoring her, even pay yourself for each time you do so (sounds like you might end up on cruise before long based on her possible dislike for you). Ignoring doesn’t make you weak – it makes you psychologically, socially and emotionally strong as most of us can’t do that.

      The thing is, you don’t have to stand up for yourself unless her words and comments influence others to treat you with less than earned and titled respect. It sounds like you have that respect with others and they probably spend a good amount of time ignoring her, too. The people who shouldn’t ignore her are her superiors and they need to address her behaviors right away.

    2. BellyButton*

      I am a big fan of *eye squint* “What do you mean? (mean by that?)” Or in the case of rolling their eyes — *head tilt* “Jen, did you have something to add?”

      Call them out in a way that makes it clear to them you know what they are doing but puts them on the spot to explain themselves. If they get huffy or snarky the other people notice and you just asked them for clarification.

    3. HonorBox*

      I think you can stand up for yourself in a way that isn’t going to get you in trouble. Calmly asking why she’s making comments or what she means by the comments is an easy way to let her know you’ve heard them but you’re not engaging in a way that shows you’re bothered.

    4. House On The Rock*

      Is killing with kindness an option? It can be incredibly satisfying to yourself and also frustrating to the BEC to respond to her barbs with warmth and humor. And, if you can manage it, callbacks to her snark that paint it as “oh of course this is just joshing between friends!”. So affectionately call yourself a “slacker”, or compliment her on her hair/wardrobe. If she gets the message that any unkind remark will get treated as if it’s a joke or that you’ll turn it around and be demonstrably and publicly friendly to her, it might make her stop.

      Of course this can be hard, and if you feel like you might be sounding defensive or sarcastic instead of genuine, it’s better to ignore. But there really is joy to be found in not taking the bait and acting as if everything is kittens and unicorns between you.

    5. epizeugma*

      It sounds like she is mostly saying these things when you’re not around, and it probably reflects poorly on her. It might be a good approach to frame this internally to yourself as, “Huh, there sure are all kinds of people in the world who choose to be adversarial and petty for no reason,” or even, “Wow, it’s kind of sad that Jen is choosing to spend her one wild and precious life making negative comments about other peoples’ hair.” Mentally categorize her as just A Weird Kind Of Person Who Does Baffling Things, take a moment to be bemused by her antics, and move on.

    6. Alternative Person*

      I (try to) take that kind of thing as a compliment.

      I received some very misogynistic feedback recently which a high level manager dismissed.

      I hate it and it upsets me, but I tell myself they wouldn’t be saying those kinds of things if I wasn’t being great at what I do. I remind myself that they’re jealous, insecure and weak if they’re giving nonconstructive criticism about my work/personality.

  35. SoVeryAnonForToday*

    Has anyone here ever attempted a “coup” at your company and were successful in having a CEO removed? I – and most C-suite employees – have solid proof that the CEO has been derelict in their duties but the same group of employees is convinced that, when presented with said evidence, the board will just shrug their shoulders and say “So?” as we are still profitable (for now). I’m not so sure. The evidence overwhelmingly points to the end of the company within 2 years if nothing changes, which means the loss of their investments. You would think/hope that would shock anyone out of complacency.

    1. Anon for this one*

      Not a CEO, but my (small) department went above our manager’s head to explain that her actions were putting us at risk of not meeting deliverables on a new government contract (the first of many we were hoping to win & vital to our organization). She was removed a few weeks later.

      Nobody cared how terribly she treated her staff. But they did care about their own jobs & company money.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I did it. Caveats – very small startup, medical-adjacent software, involved founders/owners.

      We had a lot of evidence that the CEO was:
      1) absent a lot
      2) overruling her technical staff based on 20-year-old paradigms
      3) sexist

      It was not a fun experience to have to call one of the founders and explain over the phone what was going on, and then to get a meeting set up, all while the CEO was in and out of the office, sniffing around, etc. But the cloak-and-dagger stuff only lasted for a week or two.

    3. The Ginger Ginger*

      If they don’t listen, is it any worse than it is now? If you don’t try, the company is gone in 2 years. Making the attempt is the only way to prevent it. If they don’t do anything with the info the company is…still gone in 2 years. At least if you try and they don’t react, you will know for sure and can make plans (and job hunt) accordingly.

    4. ExplainiamusMucho*

      Yes – and we were successful. I’ve also been in other situations where the board couldn’t care less. In my experience, money is the only thing that’ll work as evidence (we were less than six months away from bankruptcy) – anything else will be chalked up to difficult employees or the CEO’s “slightly lacking communication skills” or similar.

    5. HonorBox*

      Haven’t done it, but I’d suggest it is in your (and the board’s) best interest to do so. This has nothing to do with personality conflicts or something that would be easier to overlook because of the current profitability. You’re raising a concern, with evidence, that shows that their money is in jeopardy. I’d provide as much evidence as possible. Model it out. Make it very obvious. Then let the chips fall where they may.

    6. There You Are*

      It was after I’d gotten fed up and left, but the software company I worked for got bought out by an Australian company. On the day the deal was being signed, they flew the CEO to the Australian company’s NYC headquarters, to be feted and to make sure he knew how much the Aussie’s wanted him to continue running the software company after the sale.

      All of the VPs and the Sr Managers at Software Company got in a conference room and called the NYC office, demanding to speak to the Aussie CEO in private.

      Aussie CEO excused himself from the meeting with Software Co CEO, and was told that every single C-suite, VP, and Sr Manager would quit — and take 95% of the staff with them — if they kept Software Co CEO on board. They explained why: Cocaine use, delusional paranoia (he blamed someone in the company for tipping his wife off about his many affairs), sexism, using company money to pay for prostitutes and strip clubs, forcing IT to configure the intercoms and desk phones so that they were essentially listening devices so he could eavesdrop on anyone anywhere in the office (instead of, you know, doing CEO things), etc., etc., etc.

      Aussie CEO asked if they were resolute in quitting. They said they had a signed, group resignation letter they could fax over, if Aussie CEO needed it. He declined and said he understood the situation.

      Software Co CEO was sent packing immediately after. Him staying on board wasn’t part of the written, legally-signed sale, so the sale went through and he was unemployed.

      Found out later that his wife divorced him, got custody of the kid, and he has listed himself on LinkedIn as the “President” of his own trust fund ever since. He was fired in the mid-1990’s.

  36. IH8Paperwork*

    Any suggestions for CYA when dealing with cancer treatment? My employer recently switched to a generous paid leave program, which you have to apply to use, instead of just a large sick time bank. However, the paperwork is horrible (none of my providers understand how to do it and it gets sent back all the time) and HR pushes back. For example, my provider expects that my appointments will average 4 hours per week, but I’ll have weeks with 0 hours away, and weeks where it may be closer to 6-8 over 2 days. Since my oncologist put 4 hours, once per week, HR won’t approve anything over that.

    My main concern is job security if my condition ever worsens. All this back and forth may make HR more likely to ask my manager, “are you SURE she can still perform the job functions?” Also, the paperwork (which has to be completed every 6 months) ends up taking up my whole appointment, which should be used to discuss my treatment. Finally, several specialists treat me, so it’s not always clear who should be filling it out.

  37. BioIinformaticsAnon*

    Anyone here do bioinformatics in academia? I could use some career advice.

    I have a phd , currently work in a staff position for a clinical pathology group (I didnt want to be a PI, still figuring out what my career path should be) in a research center. Previously, I had a 1.5 year postdoc due to pandemic issues…. teaching is not for me.

    One of the main people I work with is starting a new lab (promoted into assistant professor) has made informal job offer for me to go with him. He’s still working under the same university, just splitting off. It sounds like I’d be doing the same work just in a different environment if that makes sense. Adding some responsibilities like helping start his new phd students off right (mentoring). I’m trying to figure out what questions I need to ask even. We do work really well together, he’s primarily wet lab and has a lot more oncology expertise than me, I’m superb at project management and all things code. I’m just a little worried how is this going to impact my long term career… Also bigger picture, do I even want to stay in academia or academia adjacent??

    1. Nesprin*

      So, PhD scientist here. It sounds like you’re being offered a staff researcher or project scientist position. These tend to be not big growth positions with respect to either salary or responsibility, but if you like being in science but not leading projects they can be a good fit. If you’re interested in an assistant professorship, I would advise against (go do a real postdoc), or if you’re interested in moving to industry, now is a good time to make that jump.

      Important questions are what does funding situation look like? (i.e. is he on a startup package that’ll be spent out in 4 yrs, and if so what’s the likely hood of new money coming in), What’s the rules for assignment of authorship according to him? Would you be research staff (i.e. technical) or project scientist (i.e. more grantwriting, paperwriting etc).

    2. FashionablyEvil*

      Informaticist here—there will also be plenty of options in contract research organizations. Those positions will have more growth potential.

    3. Cedrus Libani*

      Industry bioinformatician here. I agree with Nesprin – if you love research but don’t want the assorted headaches of being a PI, then a staff position is an option, but you should be aware of the downsides.

      To put it bluntly, I think academia is wildly overrated. The idea is, sure you’re working long hours for well below market wages, but the true reward is the chance to do important and exciting work. Yes, it’s easier to communicate why your work in academia is exciting; you’re curing cancer, while I’m the faceless data-wrangler behind the scenes of a product that’s several steps abstracted from anything a layperson would know or care about. But that’s the first two slides of your seminar, not what you actually do with your time. The work has been remarkably similar in my experience, I’m just paid more and treated better. Some of my work is now in real clinics around the world, where it’s being used by real people to make real decisions. I’m not just warming a cubicle over here.

    4. CarmineLaguzzio*

      Also phd scientist in pharma. Your story sounds very similar to mine! a colleague I enjoyed working with made me a similar offer and I said No for now and went for industry and I’m SO HAPPY I did. To echo what others have said, industry will offer more growth opportunities, more money (like 3x more), more balance, similar work. The thing is, even if you do the academia position, you might be happy. Just more limited. Think about what you could do after this position. The people I knew who were lab managers sometimes did that for their whole career and because academia is the way it is, they never got paid market value. Also because it’s academia chances are the people around you won’t have good work like balance (they might think they do, as I did,but it probably isn’t as good as industry) and that will mean you will feel some pressure to also work extra hard. And this is even more true for a new lab that has to struggle more for funding. I’d suggest you ask what the position can offer salary wise and compare that to industry (use Alison’s survey data). I can also tell you I also did a job search recently in Boston area and my offers (with very similar experience to you) were 120-160k so just keep that in mind!

  38. MTG a vexing vixen of vapidness*

    Topic: When your co-workers blind side you (confused and disappointed)

    Co-worker: ‘N and I were talking about XYZ issues yesterday. We think we should take it to our interim boss/org COO. We’re meeting with her in an hour.”

    We’ve been talking about this is as a team, three issues along the same theme. I first brought it up with the team to crowdsource a solution as we’re without a boss and we’re fully capable of figuring this out ourselves. I trusted them to help me/us put this together.

    We meet with the COO and no solution is obtained. We return to the office and talk about it some more. I come up with a solution that meets a variety of needs and issues that seems to please everyone involved.

    I can only assume that they felt the need to use the COO because they felt I wasn’t doing what they want because what they wanted has long term effects, and they weren’t considering long term data tracking, revenue budget or donor intent/ethics.

    One apologized as we walked to the COO office. The other (from home) texted in the late afternoon: ‘I’m sorry about this morning. It could have been handled better.’

    Sure here’s (3) ways it could have:
    1. Don’t talk about this topic without me considering it impacts how I do my work.
    2. Don’t schedule a meeting with the boss without asking me what I think.
    3. Don’t tell me about the meeting 1-hour prior (considering you could have emailed/texted)

    I didn’t feel it was malicious, as we all get along very well. But I’m disappointed they handled it so poorly, didn’t respect me or my work (despite they’re saying they appreciate how well I’ve brought the role into what it is now) and took it upon themselves to elevate something we were actively working on without asking me if we needed another ear (who wasn’t helpful anyway).

    I would have never done this to them. I don’t talk about them or their work to anyone. I would never suggest that they do their work in a different way. I’m the lowest paid, most subordinate (although the most experienced person in non-profit work) on the team and expected more considering our history together.

    Admittedly I’m having a hard time reconciling this in my head. and heart.

    1. RagingADHD*

      I’m having a little trouble following the situation. Here’s what I’m getting:

      You are the most junior person on the team (in terms of role). You and two more senior colleagues have been discussing some kind of ongoing issue. You have a different perspective on the right way to address it than they do.

      This has been an ongoing discussion, including at least one occasion where the two of them continued to discuss it at times when you weren’t there. The two more senior people decided to get input from the COO, and invited you to the meeting at kind of the last minute.

      You are upset because the two more senior team members didn’t wait for you to be there before continuing to discuss a topic that concerns all of you, or consult you on whether or not it was appropriate to talk to the COO about it.

      With respect, if I am reading it right, I think it sounds like you are taking more ownership of the situation and expecting a level of deference that aren’t warranted by your role on the team. But I may be misunderstanding the situation, so please clarify if I missed something.

      1. MTG a vexing vixen of vapidness*

        Ahhh no. I’m the lowest level person when it comes to $ but we have no rank. I’m subordinate in title ‘specialist’ rather than manager as my three co-workers are titled. My boss is the Development Director being filled by the COO. The co-workers I reference are not senior to me (nor to one another) which makes the situation of them going to the COO without asking to be more egregious. They have no role in my work; they’re colleagues with whom I am collaborating to solve a campaign problem that affects a donor and internal budget management.

        1. RagingADHD*

          If you are a specialist and they are both managers, that *is* rank. As is reflected in the pay structure. A lot of workplaces jumped on the “flat” org structure a while ago. I have never seen it to be genuine in practice. It’s just jargon.

          If you are all 3 collaborating on a problem, it is very normal in most workplaces for people at a manager level to make decisions and pull people into discussions without needing permission from anyone else on the project.

          I presume your work is not a secret from the interim boss, so I fail to see why it was egregious to bring them into the conversation.

    2. Graciela*

      You seem to be taking this very personally and making some unkind and unfair assumptions about your colleagues’ reasoning and motivations. I think you should spend some time considering why your default is to assume such negatives of them, and how that might be related to their choice to bring someone else in for support and advice when facing a challenge.

    3. Tio*

      Honestly, it doesn’t sound like they did anything terribly wrong. There was a problem, they didn’t have a solution, they decided to bring a higher power in for help. That’s not really undermining anyone. They maybe should have told you about the meeting sooner, when they set it up, but if you’re the lowest person there, it’s not really the worst thing in the world. And it doesn’t sound like they were implementing a whole new system and just steamrolling you, it sounds like this was still a collaborative meeting, at which you had input. Unless there’s something missing from here, this seems like not the worst thing. You brought it up to them to crowdsource, they added in the COO to crowdsource more, didn’t get there this meeting, had another meeting where you had some other ideas. Seems pretty normal and like they mostly took you into account the whole way.

      Was there something completely different about the tone of the COO meeting that isn’t in here?

  39. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    Resume question:
    Is there a minimum number of previous jobs that one needs on a resume? I’ve been with my current employer for 12+ years; the skills that I haven’t used in this role aren’t ones that I’m interested in going back to (e.g. We use Word, Docs, or Writer here; I’m not interested in going back to WordPerfect). I want to remove the old positions, but I’m also daunted by and distrusting that a resume that comes down to just my current position is the best representation of my potential in a new role.

    Peer questions:
    I’ve got one peer especially who just has no interest in helping themselves.
    e.g. Sola: “Did you look at the log?”
    Peer: “No, where is the log?”
    Sola: “It’s in the same folder as your file.”
    Peer: “Okay, which line in the log has my problem?”
    Sola: “Ctrl + F”
    Peer: “Okay, how do I fix $12,345 not being numeric?”

    I’ve got another peer who simply passes anything they’d have to say “no” to or establish or reinforce boundaries downstream. I have been around long enough that I know what the logical answers are, but I’m finding new hires that we try to onboard are taking forever to get up to speed and constantly confused about what the correct answers are to inquiries that should have been handled upstream. We’re also seeing inconsistencies in our materials because they’re being expected to say “no” to requests that are plausible, but forbidden with good reason (e.g. I’ll occasionally come across inbred llamas that I must straighten out).
    Customer: “Do you provide your service for free?”
    Peer: “I’ll let Sola answer that.”
    Customer: “Do you provide invisible llamas?”
    Peer: “I’ll let Sola answer that.”
    Customer: “Should your teapots leak?”
    Peer: “I’ll let Sola answer that.”
    (It’s not an “I don’t know” situation. It’s an “I don’t want to own responsibility for making the statement” situation. And our review processes are hit-and-miss, unreliable at best. That’s beyond my control as well.)

    Does anyone have an effective script or suggestion for either peer?

    Supervisor question:
    Any advice on coexisting with a team lead who is both stingy with details and has a hair trigger for ranting?

    1. Fabulous*

      #1 – Standard is to just go back 10-15 years on your resume. As long as you can show career progression at your current company, it might be fine to just list them. You could even have an “Other experience” section where you just list the rest of your employers with no bullets.

      #2 – “What have you tried so far?” “Where have you looked so far?” “What do you think are the steps?” – put the Q back on them to try and figure out. They’ll either get so exasperated and ask someone else, or maybe finally take some initiative to use Google…

      #3 – First, are you their manager or their peer? If simply a peer, this is probably time to get a manager involved. Otherwise, I’d suggest pulling them aside away from customers and asking, “Why do you seem to always defer to me with these questions? You’re at a point where you should be able to establish these boundaries with the customer yourself. What’s holding you back?”

      #4 – No advice, sorry!

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I like the suggestion to #1–I can omit the stuff I don’t want to work in again easily if there are no parallel details to draw attention to their absence. Thank you!

    2. Alternative Person*

      For your supervisor: CYA as much as possible, dig into things as much as possible on your own, be as (discreetly) proactive as possible when it comes to planning, make things as simple as possible when it comes to asking questions, keep your reactions to them as minimal as possible so they can’t feed off you and finally, be prepared to gather evidence to take it higher or otherwise leave.

      The way you present it makes it sound like a no-win, so it becomes less about the right combination of words to make your supervisor behave like a reasonable person and more about managing your own workload/mental health as best as possible.

    3. moss*

      For the first peer, what I do with my kids is just sigh “I don’t know” over and over. “Where’s the log?” “I don’t know….” until they figure it out for themself.

      For the second peer, you need to talk to them and lay out what the answers to the questions are and that you expect the peer to answer if asked. Just be very clear on what they can say. If they are new or young or not used to talking to clients, they may be afraid of saying the wrong thing. Give them a script and tell them to use it.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        The second peer… has been here a decade. I can handle them when I’m directly involved; it’s when I’m not and they can manipulate a newer employee who’s still trying to learn advisable from forbidden that things go off the rails. I generally don’t find out until weeks later when I have a mess to clean up.

  40. Green Goose*

    I recently published an Op-Ed about a topic that is a bit “trendy” in my field that I have almost a decade of experience in. The Op-Ed was such a career highlight and I was excited and proud to write it and have it published. I regularly present on this topic for people in my field but this was my first time doing it for the greater public in a well known publication.
    Well the excitement Was short lived, another organization that focuses solely on this topic, (who I referenced in my Op-Ed as a great resource) wrote a really nasty public comment about the Op-Ed. Even though they were cited and linked, they said they weren’t given enough credit and I get the feeling that they thought the Op-Ed should have solely focused on their organization instead of the topic. They also made legal threats about intellectual property.
    I’ve been presenting on this topic since before their organization launched, and I had always thought of us as allies in this subject matter. I know I didn’t do anything wrong but it still really rattled me. I’ve connected with our PR team and they are worried about it blowing up on social media so we’re not saying anything. I’ve spoken to a few people who know the founder and they’ve instructed me to give an olive branch to keep the peace, but since my company said no I can’t. And honestly, it seems crazy that I would need to apologize for this situation.
    But I also don’t want to be in any sort of feud about this. The founder and the employees are all young (early-mid twenties) and seem to like to publicly shame people on social media. But in the past I’ve only seen them publicly call out businesses related to this topic.
    Can anyone relate or have any advice? I’ve lost sleep over this during the week.

    1. Jujyfruits*

      If I understand correctly, you’re an expert who has been teaching this topic before the org existed. They got a mention in the op-ed but are angry that it wasn’t about them fully? That sounds like a toxic org.

    2. arjumand*

      ” I’ve spoken to a few people who know the founder and they’ve instructed me to give an olive branch to keep the peace,”

      This sounds like terrible advice, to be honest. You cited the other organization, anyone looking at the dates will know that you were working on it before the organisation even started, your own PR people told you to let it go away. They are on your side because they don’t want it to blow up online – trust them to have your best interests at heart (yes, for purely self-serving reasons, still, they’re on your side).

      You don’t know the motivation of ‘the people who know the founder’ – this org sounds like people who were dying to go viral and are creating this non-issue to try to make it happen. I know you want to explain yourself, but seriously, let this go away on its own.

      1. The Real Fran Fine*

        Yup. The PR team is correct here, OP. Don’t lose anymore sleep over the foolishness.

    3. WellRed*

      Any time you put something out there like an op-Ed, you are opening yourself up to criticism. It particularly stings when it feels unfounded or unfair, so I feel ya. With regards to this company, they sound immature and reactionary. It’s not you.

    4. RagingADHD*

      They have an established pattern of looking for offense so they can be strident for attention, right? So they gave you the standard treatment.

      It’s not a feud. It’s a cheap dig for cheap reasons. Ignore it.

    5. theguvnah*

      This sucks and I can totally see something like this happening in my field. I would lose sleep too but just let it blow over – it will in time. I’m sorry.

      If it makes you feel better, I often think that when someone is mad at me/reacting to me that means I am having an impact. Your op ed touched a nerve because it was good, take pride in that!

    6. The Shenanigans*

      Well, if you cited them, they have no leg to stand on for any kind of legal threat. Honestly, I’d be tempted to maliciously comply here. Never bring them up in any article or talk about this topic, even (especially) when they’d be a perfect example. Name literally every other org or person that has worked on this topic, and never, ever talk about them. If they whine, you can just say that they told you not to talk about them. If anyone asks about them, hesitate and then say something damningly neutral.

  41. Anonymous Educator*

    Anyone with an awesome manager have slight anxiety that their manager may leave (either the org altogether… or just be promoted so they aren’t your manager any more)?

    My current manager is pretty amazing, and I know if she leaves, the new manager is likely to be at least not as great… if not just plain terrible.

    1. Yes And*

      I left my first grown-up job because I overheard my (awesome) manager interviewing for her next job.

      It’s actually a little more complicated than that. I had come to feel I had outgrown the position for other reasons, and I knew getting promoted within the org was impossible, in part because this manager was so amazing that nobody in her department ever left. But knowing my boss was looking to leave was definitely the kick in the pants to make me start looking for my next gig.

    2. HR Friend*

      One of my first jobs, my amazing, incredible, wonderful manager resigned while I was on vacation. It was such a shock. I got reassigned to one of the worst managers in the company after that. I started job hunting immediately, and I left within a few months.

      People don’t leave jobs, they leave managers.

    3. Tiffany Aching*

      I definitely have that anxiety! What’s currently keeping it in check is knowing that she’s utilizing a tuition benefit for her kid that will keep her here at least a couple more years until the kid graduates. But after that, back to the worry free-for-all!

    4. WantonSeedStitch*

      My current manager is amazing, and has been talking a LOT about succession planning. Like, she wants me to take her position when she leaves, and has said she “won’t be here in five years.” The idea of taking on that position is anxiety-inducing enough, but the idea that I’d be reporting to her boss instead of her is not fun. My grandboss is great in many ways, not so great in others.

    5. Glazed Donut*

      Been there! I left my first long(ish) term job to go to a similar org with a well-known, respected manager. It was awesome and everything I hoped it would be!
      Then, he left after 1 year to go to a different part of the org. His replacement wasn’t just average but horrible. She was my manager for 3 long years until she eventually left/saw the writing on the wall that she wasn’t doing well.

      What I learned from that: Don’t STAY for a good manager if the other parts of the job are not great. If one person can be such a big make-or-break, see how you can make your own work better, if possible. A great manager could leave after winning the lottery, or having something tragic happen!

  42. Chirpy*

    How can I tell coworkers that I’m not interested in drinking with them? I’ve previously just gone along with their “oh yeah, a beer after work would be great” type comments in the sort of vague agreement that relaxing is nice, with nothing more specific about beer than a “maybe” if they specifically ask me it. But now people have asked if I want to join them.

    I don’t have a hard rule about drinking, but I almost never do, maybe 3-4 drinks per year. It’s just not pleasant for me most of the time (I don’t always react well to alcohol, I particularly hate beer, bars and drunk people are overwhelming, etc, so I only drink certain beverages in certain situations and with people I trust completely).

    Frankly, this particular coworker is nice enough to work with, but I have no desire to hang out with any of my coworkers outside of work. And people just generally tend to grill me about not drinking (sigh heavy drinking culture in this state) so I’m never quite sure how to say it, because it’s always yet another thing that people think is “weird” about me and grill me about. (Being single tends to be the other, it’s just exhausting because people feel a need to demand reasons for both things and won’t take “not interested” as a valid answer. )

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I think it’s okay to say you don’t really drink that much. You don’t have to say you’re a teetotaler. But if you drink maybe 3-4 drinks a year, you basically don’t drink.

      1. Chirpy*

        It would be easier if I didn’t drink at all, but people think I can be talked into it (or am lying about not drinking) because I’m not 100% opposed to it.

        1. Tio*

          I don’t drink either, and I’ve had this before. If it’s that kind of culture, I’d just be “busy” after work. Caveat – maybe try and invite some of the ones you like more out to lunch so they don’t think you’re totally anti social or snubbing them, just in case.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      If they are inviting you to a specific after-work beer (ex. “Chirpy, come grab a beer with us tonight” vs. “Chirpy, come grab a beer with us sometime”), the easiest way to decline is to be busy. “Sorry, can’t, busy tonight” or “I have plans tonight, you guys have fun though!” should be good enough to get you out of it.

      If they are inviting you out in a more general way (ex. “Chirpy, we’d love to see you at the bar after work. What days are you free?”), that’s more challenging to decline. You can try “thanks, I’m usually busy most days after work.”

      1. Chirpy*

        I mean, typically I do just come up with an excuse for a specific invitation, but sometimes people just keep asking and I can’t always be busy forever (I do have several hobbies that take up a lot of time but the people who know I’m single don’t always think anything other than plans with a significant other count)

        1. Hlao-roo*

          Hmm, could “I appreciate the invitation, but happy hour isn’t really my thing” or “the bar atmosphere isn’t for me” work? I see downthread that bars aren’t your thing, so that has the benefit of being the truth without getting into “I don’t (usually) drink beer.” But I know this may not work with some “c’mon, can’t you have just one drink?” people because they may not differentiate between not liking bars and not liking alcohol.

          1. Chirpy*

            People don’t differentiate between “I don’t want to drink with you” and “I hate you”, I guess?

    3. londonedit*

      I’d try to keep it matter-of-fact and light – ‘Oh, thanks but I’m not really a bar sort of person. Have fun!’ If they start grilling you (which by the way is rude – I love a drink or five but there is no reason why anyone else should, and I have plenty of friends who don’t or rarely drink) I’d go with ‘Yeah, just not my thing really. Have you seen the new pizza place on the high street, though? Thinking about giving it a go for my next takeaway…’ Basically, just reiterate that it’s not your thing, it’s no big deal, and then redirect the conversation (if something like the pizza example won’t work, use something that’s likely to get them to start talking about another topic).

    4. Bird Lady*

      If you don’t want to simply say that you prefer to keep your work life and your personal life separate, one of the things I’ve done in the past is find a legitimate excuse. I had an hour and a half commute (the commute usually meant I wasn’t even asked!), or a standing after work appointment.

    5. EMP*

      You can have an excuse (super vague: “I have plans after work, sorry!”, specific: “I’m headed to the gym, sorry!”). If you think it will overall help the situation, once in a while you can go with them and have a non-alcoholic drink just to keep the peace, but it’s also fine to just always have an excuse!
      FWIW I think it’s fine to just not go to social events outside of work at all, but from what you’ve said it sounds like a flat refusal may just invite more haranguing.

    6. DisneyChannelThis*

      I go on the beer after work outings but get something nonalcoholic. No one minds at least at my job. It’s more the comraderie of hanging out briefly. You can always say oh no beer tonight if I start relaxing I’ll never get all the chores done tonight, stuff like that.

      1. Chirpy*

        It’s honestly the bars more than the drinks themselves, sure, I could drink something else but it’s also sensory overload. Or the awkwardness of someone’s backyard when they only have beer.

    7. CTT*

      This sounds like less of a drinking thing and more that you don’t want to hang out with your coworkers socially even in a non-drinking capacity. If that’s how you feel, then you need a standing excuse for everything, not just when they ask if you want to get a drink (or just be honest with them that you do not want to hang out under any circumstances).

    8. Nesprin*

      I would suggest going every 3rd or 4th time, having a soda+ lime and then leaving for “a thing” after 30min.

    9. Goddess47*

      If you really think you needs more, a simple “it’s personal and under control, but I take a med and my doctor specifically said not to drink” and refuse to elaborate more. (If you say it in confidents, they’ll tell everyone else and hopefully lay off! LOL) Blaming the doc for it can make it more socially acceptable.

      And, like others said, if you think you ‘should’ go, do it a couple times a year, get a soda and scoot out with a “sorry, mom/brother/girlfriend/cat made an appt I can’t miss” excuse.

      Good luck!

    10. Feral Humanist*

      Assuming you actually do want to get together with these coworkers and just don’t want to drink, could you perhaps steer the group toward a place that meets everyone’s needs?

      I recently got together with a friend/colleague at a place that had a nice happy hour but also served coffee and fancy lemonades. It served alcohol but didn’t feel like a bar –- no drunk people, closed at 7:30. Lots of places are getting better about offering interesting non-alcoholic options, and I think in many places (obviously YMMV) it would also be pretty easy to find a place that doesn’t feel like a bar in the ways you don’t like. It just might take a bit of research.

      1. Chirpy*

        I don’t want to get together with them, but I also need them to not hate me for it at work.

        There are a lot of other good options around here for places to go, even with good alcohol options for those that want it, I’ve just never succeeded in getting anyone to go to those places instead.

        1. WantonSeedStitch*

          I would leave the response to “I appreciate the happy hour invites, but I’m really not a bar person, and I always feel like I decompress better after work if I go home instead of going out.” And then just make sure that during work, you’re approachable, collaborative, warm, and generally a good colleague!

          1. Chirpy*

            I try to be a good coworker. Part of it is that this is just not a good place to work, and some people already dislike me because I’m too swamped to help them (I was literally told it was the reason someone with 4 people in their department won’t help me when I’m by myself, she never sees the help I do give, and so won’t help me).

            People seem split on their opinions of me- the ones who see what I do (and management) like me, the ones who are mildly inconvenienced by the short staffing in my department (and unfortunately my passive aggressive department head) don’t.

            1. Feral Humanist*

              These don’t seem like problems that can be resolved with a happy hour. Could you talk to your manager about some of this? You shouldn’t have coworkers refusing to help you.

              1. Chirpy*

                Oh, I have tried. Management won’t really do much (if anything) because it’s people under a different manager than me, and management just keeps passing my concerns off. I just need to keep the people who do still help me to stay liking me (but I would feel really uncomfortable drinking with them).

                1. Extra anony*

                  Honestly, socializing with coworkers isn’t going to help them like you more or not, if you’re already in a work environment with issues. You’ve said several times you don’t really want to see them outside of work, so just keep making excuses. Saying you go to the gym every day after work is a good one. Another option would be for you to propose something else that you’re more comfortable with, like grabbing coffee together. But it seems like you just don’t want to socialize at all.

        2. Some words*

          “Bars give me a rash” or some other jokey way to say “I just don’t do bars”. Would that work?

          Be prepared for some level of alienation. In my experience people who prioritize drinking also strongly prefer the company of other people who prioritize drinking & hold those who don’t with a certain level of suspicion.

          1. Chirpy*

            I used to be able to say that smoking made me sick (true, and really obviously so) until they banned smoking in bars, alas.

            I know all about the alienation thing, I just need a way around it since it’s so pervasive.

            1. Chirpy*

              * secondhand smoke makes me sick, I worded that badly. And it was a great excuse because once I did go out to a smoky bar and was coughing for three days afterwards, so everyone believed me after that. But that was a long time ago now.

    11. Wordybird*

      My answer depends on whether you don’t want to go out at all or whether you don’t want to go out because you think they will give you a hard time about not drinking alcohol.

      If it’s the former, you can simply say that you have a lot of hobbies/activities outside of work so you don’t have time for happy hour. You could always make it a point to go to one or two a year if you think it would help you build rapport and capital with your coworkers. You also don’t have to drink when you go out with anyone, coworker or not, if you don’t want to.

      I don’t drink. It’s not a religious thing or a sober thing although addiction does run in my family. I’ve probably had 3-4 alcoholic drinks in the last 15 years. I grew up in a family that doesn’t drink, and then I met my partner who is sober. I simply don’t order alcohol when everyone gives their order, and if someone asks me why, I just say, “I (or we if my partner is with me) don’t drink.” I say this in the same matter-of-fact tone of voice that I would announce my name or where I’m from, and that stops almost everyone from asking for more information. On the rare occasion that someone were to ask why/why not, I shrug and say, “I (we) just don’t.” I change the conversation after that.

      All of my long-term friends know this about me and also know that I don’t care if they drink and don’t judge them if they do.

      1. Chirpy*

        It’s kind of both. I generally don’t want to hang out with them, and I’m pretty sure they’d badger me about not drinking if I did. Like you, I just grew up in a family where drinking wasn’t a thing. My good friends don’t care, but I’ve had way too many people (and many friends I no longer hang out with) who made it a big deal and wouldn’t drop it. It’s just harder when it’s coworkers and I don’t really get to choose them.

    12. Jenna Webster*

      I was worried about this too as I have stopped drinking because it tends to give me headaches. The first time I went out with drinkers, I ordered a Coke and no one said a word about it. We had a good time – it really was more about hanging out than it was about drinking.

      1. Chirpy*

        Last time I hung out with friends who were drinking, I ordered horchata and they were all jealous because they hadn’t looked at the non-alcoholic menu. So that’s usually fine (and I stopped hanging out with the friends that weren’t ok with that.)

        My coworkers seem to be more about the actual alcohol though.

      1. Chirpy*

        I mean, yes, I do. I’m also asking for the future, since hopefully this won’t be a problem when I get a new job, but as it’s come up before…(the not drinking thing, the several coworkers hate me for being too busy thing is just here.)

  43. Anders*

    Hi all,

    At some point during the offer negotiation process for a worker that I supervise, my supervisor developed a strong dislike of the person – he said he had a feeling that she was not a good worker. It’s been six months now and he still hasn’t gotten over that feeling. Any time this worker takes time off, or makes a mistake, my boss is all over her and me, and he complains about her to anyone who will listen, even making negative comments during meetings with other team members. A few weeks ago, he actually went to HR to find out if he could fire her, without telling me first. Her performance hasn’t been perfect, I admit (who’s is in their first six months) but my boss’s feelings about her and strong reactions to anything she does is making it very hard to manage her, and the situation is also damaging my own professional relationship with my boss. Do I go to HR about this? Is there something I could say to calm my boss down? Any advice?

    1. Anastia Beaverhousen*

      Can you ask for specifics as to why he feels she is performing below bar? If he has measurable data that shows she is that is one thing, but if you can show him, and HR that she is equal to, or better than, peers in the same position and time frame of employment you would have a leg to stand on that he has an internal bias that he may need to look at.

    2. Anon for this one*

      What is giving your boss this “feeling”? Is he otherwise reasonable?

      It seems like there’s something else going on here.

      1. Anders*

        It seemed to start when the employee countered our offer and started asking specific questions about benefits – that gave him this “feeling” that she didn’t really want to work and was just in it for benefits. It all seems pretty irrational to me, personally. I wouldn’t say he is otherwise reasonable and consistent across the board, no – he is pretty temperamental.

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

          Everyone is in it for the benefits. This sounds like basic sexism if he got all bent out of shape that a woman dared counter an offer and tried to negotiate benefits. Ask him if he would have this same “feeling” if a man had asked about benefits.

          HR might be a good place to go if you have a good HR and can present evidence like emails or clear cause-effect retaliation; but if you don’t have that, maybe you can start dropping into conversations with him about how sexist/racist some common words or attitudes are — a woman being called a trouble-maker or worse for giving her opinion in a meeting, a POC called lazy for taking their PTO or breaks, etc. It won’t change his mind at all — probably make him go all martyr — but maybe he’ll get better about his actions …so as not to get in trouble.

          You could also give her support directly, ask her how she perceives his attitude and try to suss out if there is more that you are unaware of. She would be a better source for an HR complaint.

          1. Lady Danbury*

            “Everyone is in it for the benefits.”

            This!!! He might have been justified if it was early in the process but the offer stage is exactly when you’re supposed to ask about benefits.

            It sounds like you don’t have a worker problem, you have a boss problem. Your boss’ perception, as well as the way he’s handling it (complaining about her to everyone????) is wildly inappropriate and unprofessional. I don’t have any good solutions but you should definitely take this as a “when people show you who they are, believe them” situation. Your boss simply isn’t a good boss and he’s showing you what could happen if/when you’re in the crosshairs.

          2. The Real Fran Fine*

            Everyone is in it for the benefits.

            Right. It blows my mind that there are still people out there who think most people work for the hell of it (we don’t).

            Go to HR, OP. Your boss’s unprofessional behavior needs to be reined in here.

    3. WellRed*

      Is your boss usually a reasonable person because absent other information, this sounds a bit unreasonable and a personal dislike. Objectively, how do YOU feel about her performance?

      1. Anders*

        Objectively, we knew we were going to have to train someone for this position and it could take some time. I have definitely had employees who took more initiative during the onboarding process. I am worried that I am developing a bias against her and that I am avoiding giving her projects because my boss is so hard on her and negative about everything she does, and now my boss is coming back to me about her productivity and it’s just making things worse.

    4. WantonSeedStitch*

      Ugh, this sucks. There are some people who form an opinion about others, and once it’s formed, almost nothing will get them to change it: anything that goes against the existing opinion is a “rare exception,” and anything that supports it, no matter how small, gets blown up as being a big thing. My grandboss can be like that sometimes.

      The only thing I can think to do is to counter with what you’re seeing: “Buffy has taken five days off in the last three months. That’s actually about average, compared with the rest of the team.” “Buffy’s shown significant improvements in her accuracy and attention to detail since starting. Her performance is on par with what I’ve seen from other people at this stage in their tenure with us.” If you can cite examples, all the better.

      I hate to say it, but in my experience, when a big boss takes an irrational disliking to someone, that someone usually ends up going elsewhere.

      1. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

        This. A former boss of mine was like this and frankly, changing her mind when she had formed a dislike of someone was near impossible.

        Some things that helped me were pointing out successes in conversations about other things – not a 1:1 formal setting but an offhand “oh Bob’s project turned out pretty well, huh! I know we went through a lot during the hiring process but it’s starting to really work out” (obviously the hiring process was actually just “normal” but don’t try to change opinions on what to the boss is now an established fact) coupled with mild corrections and pushback “actually that had nothing to do with Bob at all, he was on another task that day”/“turned out I was the one who made that minor error but we were able to fix before the board got the slide deck so no serious harm done” does often help over time. You could even try for a narrative of “you know I wasn’t sure about Bob at first but he has really come through on a few important things lately” if nothing else.

        Whatever you do don’t try to fix their broken thinking with logic if it is a situation where someone has taken an irrational dislike to someone, or thinks the employee is a superstar when they a dud. I failed miserably at that to the cost of serious capital before realizing my boss and I had completely different terms of reference. And at the end of the day to get what you want from the boss you have to adapt to their frame of reference. Arguing on your home turf (logic, data, experience) does not work if they are thinking in terms of a storyline or emotion or gut feeling. Sigh.

        Finally, know that this is extremely stressful and sucks. Just so you don’t think this is all on you. Will be pulling for you in this. Good luck!

    5. House On The Rock*

      This is tricky because you don’t want to hitch your credibility to someone your boss doesn’t like, but it’s also quite possible your boss is being irrational/biased because the employee tried to negotiate and asked (legitimate) questions about the offer.

      If you trust HR (or a specific HR person), perhaps you could ask them about your boss’s request to fire her and how that played out. You could position it as “since she’s my direct report I want to understand the concern and how I can coach her”. The fact that she’s still there means they told him he couldn’t fire her, which tips the scales towards “irrational bias”.

      Side note, your boss undermining your authority and trash talking your staff member to others is a pretty big deal. A superior with legitimate performance concerns would be working directly with you and keeping things confidential. The fact that he’s not is concerning.

  44. Hyein*

    I work on a team where the reports are all women and the managers are all men. (I hate this, but topic for another day.) I am the most senior report on the team and I report to Jon, who is in charge of the team. Jon’s other report is named Fergus. Fergus manages two junior employees, Rose and Lisa.

    Rose and Lisa came to me recently saying that Fergus has been using gendered language to them that makes them uncomfortable. He has referred to their work as “cute” and “cutesy”, which is not language he ever uses to describe men’s work. He has also given them unsolicited advice on their marriages and frequently makes comments about their personal lives. They are very uncomfortable reporting to him and would like a different manager. I’ve encouraged them to go to Jon as a group, but they are hesitant because they are both fairly new and have both experienced retaliation at previous jobs. (I don’t think that would happen here since we have a very strong union, but I totally understand their concerns.) they’ve asked if I would be comfortable going to Jon and saying I’ve heard that his reports have these concerns, since I am more senior and have a good relationship with him.

    This is something I’m totally willing to do, but I’m wondering how I would do it. What exactly should I say to Jon, and would it even hold any weight for me to be making the complaint instead of Rose and Lisa?

    1. Goddess47*

      Document, document, document. What was said and when. Who else was there.

      So you can do the “why would you say X to anyone?” and be able to follow up with “why would you say X to Rose on [date]?” And so they can have evidence of a pattern to be able to run it up to HR if you think it’s necessary. And/or pull the union rep in, that’s what they are there for.

      Good luck!

      1. Some words*

        Yes to documenting! Rose and Lisa may have heard a thousand of these little comments, but if they haven’t documented anything, the official count will be zero. I wouldn’t be willing to take this to Jon without this type of detailed record.

    2. just another queer reader*


      I think that if Jon is a decent manager/human he’ll take it seriously if you talk with him. It sounds like you have good rapport.

      Lay out the sexist comments and the intrusive conversations.

      Good luck.

    3. Water Everywhere*

      In a similar situation (it was a vendor creeping out a coworker, not her manager) I got male management’s attention by framing it as both an unsafe working condition for my coworker and as something that could damage the company’s reputation if it became known that they knew about it and did nothing (they did know about it but didn’t really get how badly it was affecting coworker). Ideally, reporting the sexist creepiness alone should be enough to get Fergus shut down hard but if it’s not, highlighting potential public consequences can get results.

  45. Teapot, Groomer of Llamas*

    This is sort of a more general one, but I know there is wisdom here in this group. I’m currently looking for work, partially because I work in a non-profit and like many my project is grant funded with an uncertain future after that, and partially because I’ve gotten the impression that upward movement is seriously curtailed here.

    But here’s the question. I’m looking at a ton of job postings, most of them in different fields then I currently am in. I’m discovering a pronounced case of imposter syndrome that is keeping me from even applying. How do y’all handle that?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      This is tricky but it works so well. Convince yourself the imposter is correct, you have no chance of ever getting this job, so just fill out the application and write the cover letter and submit, their just going to reject it so no need to stress about making it 1000000% amazing, just get it done.

      ( And then sometimes the universe pleasantly surprises you with an interview because the imposter is not actually correct).

    2. Hlao-roo*

      I suspect some of the imposter syndrome is coming because you’re reading a lot of job descriptions in different fields, so you see a few things that line up with experience you have and a lot of things that don’t. Some of that is because the wording of certain things is different in different fields and you’ll see a lot of unfamiliar wording across the different fields even if it is all related to experience you have.

      Take one job description at a time. Highlight/cross-off every qualification you have. Then look at the remaining ones again. Sure, you’ve never groomed a llama before, but do you have any related experience? Groomed a different animal? Ordered llama feed for your company’s herd? Highlight/cross-off the bullet points you have related experience for. Then look at the job description again. More than 70% highlighted/crossed-off? You’re in good shape to apply, just be sure to explain your related experience well in your cover letter.

  46. network arts*

    Tips for staying in touch with former managers? I’m a woman and often get misinterpreted when I try to network with colleagues. This has mostly happened with coworkers, but my manager from my last job thought I was asking him on a date when I tried to stay in touch and then ghosted when I clarified. So I haven’t attempted it since, but I would like to keep up with some former managers from my current job, who I haven’t talked to in a couple years now. So, would it be weird if I asked if they’d want to get a coffee and catch up? I’ve never found the “share articles they might be interested in on LinkedIn” approach to be realistic. I just want to be clear about what I’m looking for, figure out what unspoken rules I need to know, and ideally not look like a total rookie.

    1. ferrina*

      It sounds what you’re doing is really normal, you’ve just worked with a certain kind of people. I’ve definitely reached out to former colleagues to grab coffee and catch up, and we had a great time chatting (now that I think about it, 85% were female-I’m ciswoman). When you are being explicit about what you want and they are trying to read lines that aren’t there, that’s not on you.

      If you want, you could start adding more context. “Hi Work Person! I’ve been recently thinking about the next step in my career, and I’d like to pick your brain. I’d love to chat about what you’ve been working on and where you’ve been seeing opportunities in Industry. Would you be open for grabbing a coffee sometime?”
      But honestly, for the people who weren’t interested after they realized that you didn’t want a date, this probably won’t be any more appealing. I’d only use in very specific cases where someone is driven by work and only worried because of your Gender (not when they are only interested because of your Gender). Also, I am seriously side-eyeing your ghosting manager.

    2. Margaret Cavendish*

      Good grief. I hope that one person was an outlier – staying in touch with former managers is a really normal thing to do! And I agree with you about sharing articles that they might be interested in. My manager works in the same field as I do, they have the same professional interests and access to the same resources – it’s not likely that I’d come across something that they haven’t already seen.

    3. Lily Rowan*

      I’ll say that NOT staying in touch with former managers is also totally normal. You can send one email every few years when you need a reference and that is totally fine.

      That said, having coffee and catching up with someone you had a good rapport with is also great! I just did that with someone after like 5 years.

    4. Alex*

      Ask them for advice here and there! Not all the time, obviously, but I’ve found that occasionally reaching out with a work-related question is a great way to keep in touch and how I’ve managed to network a little. For example, if you need a recommendation about a certain vendor you are thinking of working with, or how to approach using a new technology, that kind of thing. Not, “how do I do my job!” advice, but more general “shop talk” kind of stuff. You can actually get useful information while also staying on their radar. In most cases, I’ve gotten reciprocal requests because they think of me when they have those kinds of questions too.

      Of course, YMMV if you’ve changed fields or it wouldn’t make sense for your particular job, but it’s worked for me.

  47. Mimmy*

    Can I just say how much I despise job interviews?

    Okay, that’s not entirely true, I definitely see their value. However, it is so hard for those of us who have difficulty answering questions on the fly. I could prepare and rehearse all I can, and I still find it difficult to express myself coherently (this is not exclusive to interviewing). I believe my problem is related to processing: I know what I want to say, but my brain takes longer to convert those thoughts into spoken words. I just had an interview yesterday, and there were some questions in which I had a great answer in my head, but it came out somewhat choppy to me. I’ve had a couple people in the past describe my speech as choppy or halting.

    I think this affects my interview performance. I sometimes wish employers offered the option of sending questions ahead of time giving me time to prepare bullet points, but then that could lead to other candidates just robotically reading their answers.

    As I said, I could certainly rehearse and rehearse until my answers come second-nature, but I also don’t want to sound rehearsed. Can anyone offer suggestions for getting past this?

    1. Just Another Boss*

      One thing I might keep in mind is that an interview is essentially a conversation. If you were meeting a new friend, they might ask “So, what do you do for a living?” and you wouldn’t feel pressured and likely would answer the question perfectly fine. Interviews can feel more like a test, and they might be with some employers, although I would argue those are not the employers I would want to work for.

      I recommend practicing in a few specific ways:
      1. I would think about the most common interview questions both that you find online and also that you’ve gotten, since some industries can vary on this point and then jot down answers so you can think these through and give yourself an opportunity to process the questions into answers.
      2. Have friends/family practice with you. Have them ask questions THEY come up with (perhaps from options you give them, if this is too much of an ask) so that you get practice having these questions come to you worded in various ways. If possible, ask them to also ask you random questions so you get some practice coming up with an answer on the fly.
      3. Take note of which questions feel the most uncomfortable, so you can try to identify any patterns there. Some people have the hardest time with questions that require examples, especially those with long career histories, for example. In a scenario like that, I’d suggest developing a “bank” of important career moments that you revisit before an interview so they’re top of mind when you’re chatting.

      Also, give yourself permission to be human during the interview. I am never miffed when a candidate asks for a moment to collect their thoughts, or if they answer my question a different way and offer to supply an example later. Now, if they answered every question this way, I would be concerned, but not if they hit one that trips them up a little. Of course, this doesn’t apply if the job you’re interviewing for requires someone who can think on their feet, so take it with a grain of salt.

    2. ferrina*

      I like that you added that you can find it difficult to express yourself outside of interviews. That’s helpful to know!

      Since this is something you already know about yourself, how do you address it in a social situation or when you meet someone new? “Hey, just so you know, it sometimes takes my brain a moment to put words in the right order, so when there’s a pause, just bear with me- it’s just my brain doing its thing.”

      Find the phrase that works for you, and use it when you introduce yourself and settle in for the interview. Remember, interviewing just another type of conversation. It’s a mutually beneficial conversation around business, and the interviewer is expected to have the icebreakers already written. You get to mutually decide the tone of the conversation, and letting them know that you need a minute to respond will help set expectations for them. If they sigh and roll their eyes, well, that’s very good information to know about them (i.e., you know they are a jerk). You can also say “Sorry if that answer was a bit choppy!” Only do that once per interview- more than that and you sound like you’re apologizing for talking.

      Rehearsing is a great idea. The trick on rehearsing is to say it many times in many different ways. Say it as Dame Maggie Smith. Say it as Yoda. Say it as a yodeling cowboy. Say it while yelling, and say it while whispering, and say it while laughing. If you say the same thing the same way, your brain will get stuck in that way and it will sound stale. If you say the same thing many different ways, it will feel familiar instead of stale (and you may stumble on a good way to say things- Dame Maggie Smith often has better inflection than I would)

      1. Mimmy*

        Ferrina, this is really helpful, thank you! I particularly like the suggested phrasing in explaining why my verbal responses may not come out as quickly as expected. Saying that could take the pressure off of having to rush to formulate a response.

    3. Elias Ashmole*

      Interviews can be so tough, it’s hard to feel like you’re put on the spot and your value is tied up in what can seem like an improvised performance. It has worked well for me in the past to practice a few answers to standard questions, so I have a starting place and I’m not trying to come up with a whole answer from scratch. For example, one common interview question is “tell me about a time you encountered a challenge at work and how you handled it”. I usually have two, maybe three possibilities for that question depending on the skill I want to highlight. I practice summarizing the events quickly and communicating the important skill (e.g. organization, client management). If I’m asked a variation on the question or something else that references skills, I can repackage my practiced answer more easily than coming up with a new answer.

    4. Csethiro Ceredin*

      Not sure I have much useful advice other than the obvious one to just tell the stories/answers out loud to yourself over and over – if you don’t do it from notes I’d think it would come out a little differently every time and you’d get an easy flow to the answer without sounding as though you were reciting.

      But maybe some reassurance: I interview (on the other side of the table) a lot, and the various managers I interview with are all understanding of and sympathetic to people who seem nervous or don’t speak smoothly. It’s really more about the content of the answers than the speech patterns (unless it’s a very gift-of-the-gab type role, perhaps).

      We don’t send the whole interview in advance but we ask participants to come prepared with examples of specific things like dealing with difficult clients or whatever. It seems to make them feel more relaxed and they don’t have to grope for answers in the moment.

      1. Lady Danbury*

        Completely agree with this. Unless it’s a role that requires a certain level of off the cuff oral communication, I completely understand that people handle interview anxiety in different ways and may sometimes have trouble expressing themselves. Any interviewer who would penalize you for that probably isn’t someone that you’d want to work for, especially since it’s something that also happens outside of the interview context.

      2. Mimmy*

        It’s really more about the content of the answers than the speech patterns (unless it’s a very gift-of-the-gab type role, perhaps).

        That’s what I usually hope I’m being evaluated on. In other words, I would hope that an interviewer can understand the gist of what I’m trying to say, even if it’s coming out like a word salad lol.

        It seems to make them feel more relaxed and they don’t have to grope for answers in the moment.

        I’m always feeling like I’m groping for answers, and it is so awkward! I think it would be beneficial to have some idea of the types of questions to expect so that I can focus my preparation. As I said to someone downthread, I do not see this as cheating.

    5. Jenna Webster*

      For the first time as a hiring manager, I was asked to provide questions ahead of time as an accommodation, and now I want to do it all the time. I’m not looking for people who can think fast in a stressful situation, I really need to know their answers to these questions, and I got much better answers when they had the questions ahead of time. Except for positions where quick thinking/speaking is needed, this seems like something that should become way more common!

      1. Mimmy*

        I too think it should be more common! Sure, there are going to be questions that are very common across all interviews, but there might also be questions you’ve never encountered before. At the very least, when confirming interview details, the employer could ask that interviewees come prepared to discuss specific skills and scenarios.

        Another accommodation I just thought about might be to allow the use of notes during an interview, even in-person ones. In other words, I could make up index cards of keys words / phrases related to common questions. When a question comes up, I would refer to the card to help organize my thoughts in the moment. That won’t help with questions I don’t anticipate, but it’s a start. As you said, unless the job requires quick thinking, I see this strategy not as cheating, but as a way to show you are prepared to convey how your skills and experience can translate to the job at hand.

  48. Margaret Cavendish*

    I have a question for the Archivists of AAM. How important is it that an archivist have deep knowledge of the organization they work for, as opposed to deep knowledge of archival theory & procedures? I imagine they would acquire the organizational knowledge as they go along, assuming the records are well-described and available etc.

    I’m thinking about this in terms of succession planning. Our one corporate archivist has been here for 25+ years, and knows more about our company than literally anyone else on earth. He’s not thinking of retiring just yet, but I imagine it’s on the horizon, and obviously he’ll be taking a lot of corporate knowledge with him. I’m trying to get a handle on how much this matters – is it important that an archivist also be a historian?

    1. AAM archivist*

      I’d say it’s not important at all. Is it helpful? Absolutely! My boss knows so many things about institutional history that often affect how we are able to do our archival work. But organizational knowledge and history are things that can be learned on the job. Speaking from experience, it is a LOT harder to learn archival theory and procedures on the job, even if you have a boss who is willing to train you up to the level of archivist you need to be to get work done.

      I work in an archive that has multiple special collections units in it, with very different collecting focuses. I simply can’t be a knowledge expert in all of them, it’s unreasonable. I’d argue that it is better for an archivist not to be a historian. We aren’t here to learn all the things, we are here to make the things available for use.

    2. Grits McGee*

      This is late but hopefully it will still be seen and be helpful- I think it really depends on the organization and how much documentation is available outside of your current archivist’s institutional knowledge.

      My perspective on this question is as a governmental archivist who works closely with records managers at other agencies, and their lack of institutional knowledge is absolutely crippling. If your archivist plays a records management role, and has a lot of input into identifying which records will end up in the archive, then institutional knowledge and understanding the structure and function of your org is critical for understanding the significance and content of the records. They need to understand why your organization is the way it is, and also how that has played into the documentary record. Granted, a new person coming in isn’t going to have institutional knowledge of your organization. However, that is something that I would want to ask about in an interview, and something I would want the current archivist to be documenting.

      I will also say- archival theory and procedures are necessary background, but on-the-ground realities tend to overrule them. Respect des fonds is all well and good, until someone drops off a box of random, but clearly important, papers at your office door and you have to figure out what to do with them.

      Should an archivist be a historian- no. It’s not that an archivist can’t be a historian (or vice-versa), but they’re different skill sets. The best lone-arranger archivists I’ve worked with are organized, problem-solvers, and effective at building relationships with stakeholders (especially records-creators). This isn’t the best metaphor but maybe think of it this way- the people creating records are farmers who plant fruit trees, fertilizing and watering them. Archivists pick the fruit, package it in boxes, remove any rotten pieces, and put it in refrigerated storage. Historians take the fruit, cut it up, and bake it into pies. Different skill sets on a continuum.

      Anyway, hope this is helpful!

  49. Everything All The Time*

    how do y’all tell people to read their emails? apparently I’m the only one who does, and this has resulted in some folks not getting lunch ordered for them, and boy they were mad.
    I got a promotion so now part of my job is to send an extra group teams message when a legit “answer this email” goes out, and no one answered the survey anyway so there was not enough food. The people who HAD filled out the survey were still hungry while the people who hadn’t swept in and ate everything.

    1. Everything All The Time*

      I had told people 3 separate times prior to the meeting to fill out the survey so I’m more upset they’re mad at ME for their failure to answer the survey

      1. Margaret Cavendish*

        I would put it right in the first sentence, and even in the subject line:

        Subj: RESPONSE REQUIRED: lunch for next week
        Body: Please note that I require your response to this email in order to include you in the headcount; if I don’t hear back from you by DATE, I will assume you’re not attending and will not order lunch for you.

        You could also try ordering prepared meals instead of buffet style, so the caterers provide boxes labelled with each person’s name. You’ll need to be prepared to deal with the hangry people who didn’t fill out the survey, but my guess is they’ll learn pretty quickly!

        1. Margaret Cavendish*

          To be clear, for the prepared meals – get your boss’ permission first of course, and make sure it’s spelled out in the survey email. “Hi everyone, we’re switching to prepared meals for this one, so I need to have your response by DATE; please note there will be no food for you if you don’t ANSWER THE BLOODY EMAIL ALREADY.”

          Good luck!

        2. rayray*

          I’ve had a job that would order box lunches for people, I know once company had a link that all employees could use to fill out what they wanted and include their name. The organizer then had a list and could hand out the lunches to the people as they came in.

          Box lunches are so much better than buffet style anyway, in my opinion.

        3. The Real Fran Fine*

          This is exactly what I would do as I’ve seen it work well in the past. Anyone who doesn’t respond doesn’t get a boxed meal, and they’ll learn pretty quickly after that to take the dang surveys!

      2. rayray*

        Maybe sending Read Receipts would help. You could also try adding a bold statement that lunch will only be provided for the people who respond by x time. Maybe even a “FINAL REMINDER – Thursday Lunch Orders” email/message would help.

        If this doesn’t help, I honestly have no idea. Maybe you’ll have to be really stern and not allow non-responders in to the lunch.

    2. ferrina*


      Really, any short silliness. You want the key emails to be painless and even fun to read, and the boring emails to be clearly boring. I’ve been tapped to send out emails that weren’t really in my purview because folks knew they’d get more readership (I regularly use silly poems to promote events).

      Also, follow up with frequent offenders. You can mention it at the end of other meetings or as you pass their desk. “Hey, did you fill out the survey? You need to do that.” Will some people get annoyed? Sure. Will more people realize that We’re Serious, You Need to Do The Thing? Yes.

      1. ferrina*

        Oh, and track response. I like to track response rates and add threats if the rate drops too low. “We only had 5 people respond, and we need at least 10 of you to answer this (even if it’s just to decline). If we don’t get 10 responses by Friday, THERE WILL BE LIMERICKS

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      If everyone is highly responsive to Teams messages, why can’t you just put the information there in the first place?

      Or why can’t you post the Teams message first, instructing everyone to check their email in the next hour for whatever?

      1. Everything All The Time*

        I’m not the initial scheduler, or the one with final say, and the initial scheduler and person who does the ordering is usually someone in another office. (I hate this and wish OUR admin were the one in charge of scheduling lunches.
        I’m more of the person who’s just outrageous/annoyingly bright and sunny enough to get people to actually pay attention. I’m a designer with all of the safety certifications, so I took the promotion to “follow up with people on mandatory trainings” so that I’d get paid for what I was already doing, and now it turns out to include “making sure people see the emails about lunch meetings with food provided.”

    4. ExplainiamusMucho*

      Well, I once wrote “Free money!” in the header. That was the only time ever I got all receipts and expenses in a timely manner.

    5. The Shenanigans*

      My university department didn’t send out the meeting room or time publically, just responded with that info to the people who sent responses. Sure, people found it later since it was a small building. But it allowed the people who had sent an RSVP to get the first crack at the food. Is that possible where you are? I’ve also been to gatherings where you had to fill out a survey and get a confirmation, and had to bring the confirmation to the gathering as your “ticket”. People without tickets had to wait til everyone else was done. But depending on where you are, that may not be practical.

    6. MaryLoo*

      Is this an email that includes a request to fill out a survey AND place a lunch order? I couldn’t tell from your post.

      If so, send separate emails. For the lunch one, have the subject line “Order your lunch for *date* meeting before Tuesday “ or etc.

      1. Everything All The Time*

        the survey is the RSVP: “are you attending, which office are you in, and do you have dietary considerations”

        if it was an unrelated survey I’d agree with you, but since it’s solely related to the food requirements, they really need to answer.

  50. Lumos*

    My new boss has now started and no one has explained to her that I’m still doing the majority of her job while she’s getting up to speed and nobody but me has tried. I’m pretty sure she thinks I’m just trying to fob work off on her when I’m actually trying to hand back things that are not my job. And everyone else is giving me feedback for stuff to look out for in the future on tasks that are not my job! How do I get these things off my plate and remove the expectation that I will continue doing almost her entire workload while not getting paid for it? It’s only been two weeks so I’m aware things might change but no one is in a rush to do so and this is super not sustainable for me. I have covered the position for the last two and a half months and since they didn’t want to hire me for it I would really like to hand it off and not do an entire second full time job that I’m not getting paid anywhere near the salary for.

    1. Other Alice*

      Stop doing her job. If people give you feedback on tasks that are your boss’s job, redirect them: “I was doing that temporarily after Bob left, but now that Lucy is here she’ll take care of that.” Proceed with the assumption that of course Lucy will take care of that. Have you had a conversation with Lucy where you spell out that your duties are A and B but you’ve also been doing X and Y to cover for her predecessor? But because you’re swamped you won’t be able to do that any more, so how would she like to do the handover? If she really is resisting taking back her duties from you, do you have a grandboss you can go to? If you go to the grandboss you can frame the conversation as “how do I hand back the work I’ve been doing since Bob left”.

      1. Lumos*

        My grandboss is the main offender of giving me feedback for things to look out for in the future, but honestly he has no idea what the difference between our positions even is. He’s very hands off on our team. My new boss is training with my old boss but it’s going very slowly because my old boss is in a new role and doesn’t have much time. I think the plan is that she’ll be getting trained on more things in May but in the meantime she’s very resistant when I bring up that I’m doing things that are her job to do. I bring it up every meeting and she acts confused every single time.

        If things don’t change in May I do think I’m going to try and clearly spell it out to my grandboss how poorly the handover is going .

        1. MJ*

          Can you send an email to new boss, old boss and grand boss listing the tasks you have been covering and asking what the plan (or planned timeline) is for handing them over to new boss?

          I would reiterate in the email that while you were happy to help out short term, it isn’t sustainable and you need to hand them back sooner rather than later.

          1. The Real Fran Fine*

            Do this, OP, that way everyone is aware of what’s going on and can’t act like they don’t know why you continue handing things off to the new manager.

        2. ferrina*

          Is it that she’s confused or resistant? She may be genuinely confused as to what her role is- Grandboss and Old Boss and you may all be giving her different messages. I’ve seen this happen so. many. times.

          If the things are beyond your training/experience or you don’t have bandwidth (and communicated that to her) and she’s still refusing to do anything, that’s a different issue and you’d be more justified in letting things drop.

          1. Lumos*

            Maybe both? She initially seems confused, so I’ll explain how I’ve been temporarily covering the position while we waited to fill it and how X is not something I normally do but that whoever is in that position does. And then she’ll change the subject to something else without saying anything more

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Can you get it in writing? CC grandboss, new boss, and maybe even old boss since the old boss is training new boss. “Hey I just wanted to get some clarifications on the timeline for the transition. New boss, so excited you are joining our team I’m sure I’ll learn a lot from you. Under Old Boss my primary tasks were X Y and Z, with seasonally spending most time on X and 25/25 on Y and Z as needed. (Be explicit, total hours, days/week). When old boss left I took on tasks A B and C. Currently I am prioritizing those task A and using the remaining time to make small progress on X and Y, and neglecting Z. With New Boss joining, do you both want me to continue prioritizing B C over X Y Z? I know New Boss has already taken back task A. Let me know if there’s any additional details I can provide.” The goal is to sound really all 3 of you vs the problem of setting priorities. It’s deliberately not asking “When will Lucy take charge of fundraising” but asking “Do you want me to keep prioritizing fundraising and neglecting community engagement”, making the situation really clear (you can’t do all of the tasks for both roles, some will not get done).

    3. ferrina*

      Your boss has only been there 2 weeks? She probably doesn’t know the workflow yet.

      Schedule a meeting with her to talk about your role (note: YOUR role, not hers). Explain that you’ve been covering and you’re worried about burn out, so you need her help to rebalance the workload. Tell her what you are currently doing, what is not getting done, and how it was under Old Boss. I like to ask questions during this conversation- “Old Boss used to write the TPS reports, and I’d focus on the widget making. What do you think? Would this work for you, or would you like to do something different?” If she says she wants you to do both, say “unfortunately that’s not possible to hit the production goals- if I do the TPS reports, I’d have to decrease the widget output to 3 widgets per month. Does this sound good to you?”

      Often this will provide useful guidance to the new boss about where they fit into the team. It can also let them see how things were before they arrived, so they can be more thoughtful about any changes they want to implement (maybe writing TPS reports isn’t something Old Boss should have been doing, but he just really liked it).

  51. Chief Petty Officer Tabby*

    Currently, I’m a full time petsitter and loving it – but I also want to get a part time, low stress job (I have several chronic medical conditions that makes working really hard), but my resume looks more like an 18 year old wrote it. That’s fine in terms of animal care, because most jobs don’t really require a lot of polish. However, I am a bit more skilled than it shows, and I know that. What are some good ways to explain how my very weird collection of skills (ranging from basic grooming up through minor medical (x-rays, medicating animals both oral and injected) procedures, and reception, and many other things) would be an asset to, say, a doctor’s office?

    1. Thomas Bodley*

      It might be helpful to figure out how that collection aligns thematically? With apologies to any style guide pros and all caveats to check with someone who works in hiring in an environment where you’d like to work, perhaps a “Skills and Experience” section with headers like “Client Management”, “Clinical Experience”, or “Customer Service”, with examples that could capture your range of experience in a way that translates easily.

      1. Chief Petty Officer Tabby*

        Huh… never thought about it that way, Thomas! They are different themes: medical, client management, administration, and what I call “DOG! STOP THAT!” (obviously, that last really only applies to dogs, although I noticed I can herd children the same way when necessary!)

    2. EMP*

      Just brainstorming here, but I wonder if you could format your resume more by skill than by job experience? Like:
      – medical skills
      — x-ray radiography, animal medication, medical reception and scheduling

      – reception and people management
      — managed X phone lines. Manage schedules for Y clients

    3. Hlao-roo*

      Will any of the jobs you apply for ask for a cover letter? If so, that’s a great place to talk about how skills you gained during pet sitting are applicable for a doctor’s office.

      My other suggestion is to look at some job descriptions you are interested in. Highlight the skills you have on the job description, then look to see if those skills are listed on your resume. If they aren’t, add them!

      1. Chief Petty Officer Tabby*

        A lot of them do, I think, ask for a cover letter. These are pretty much entry level jobs, as I honestly have no desire to go beyond that. For me, the job would be supplemental to petsitting. But yes,,I agree that a cover letter is also a great place to emphasize certain skills, too

    4. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      I don’t understand, but maybe I’m being obtuse (not intentionally). Two questions:

      1) What makes your resume look like an 18-year-old wrote it?

      2) Where did you pick up those skills?

      I don’t see why your resume would look different than anyone else’s with a ranfe of skills (most of us have a wide range of skills and experiences). I’m imagining something like:

      Company Name (or “Independent Petsitter”, name of your LLC, etc.), Petsitter
      *Basic grooming accomplishments
      *Minor medical experience description (x-rays, medicating animals both oral and injected) procedures
      *Reception related experience

      1. Chief Petty Officer Tabby*

        Mostly, I feel it lacks polish – could be imposter syndrome, as a client who is also a friend mentioned. She’s known me for years and is very comfortable with both being a reference and recommending me to other potential clients.

        I got my skills from animal rescue work, animal clinics and dog daycare, but no formal schooling at all. I know the experience should count for a lot, but I get the feeling that it won’t matter against people who have gone to school formally, even though the ones who have gone to school often ask me for help with things because I can confidently do most of the things they’re learning.

        I guess what I’m looking for is a way to make my resume shine in a world where youth is more sought after than someone who is older, with physical issues.

  52. Thomas Bodley*

    How to explain the consequences of bad management? My firm works with term staff for a lot of projects and my boss is famous for exhaustive edits and changes up to the last minute, using threats of poor references as leverage to extract every bit of blood from the stone. This only works until someone decides not to care, at which point a poor product gets dropped in my lap to fix with client deadlines looming and it becomes my fault if it’s not perfect. If we provided structure, realistic scope, and a pleasant atmosphere, everything would be easier, but the boss seems happier to think she’s surrounded by ashmoles.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Who are you trying to explain this to? Is this for an interview somewhere else?

      In that case maybe you could just refer to “a lack of documented processes and timelines that caused more work than necessary”.

      1. Thomas Bodley*

        Fair point. I briefly entertained the idea of trying to bring it to Boss as “hey, let’s perhaps consider the outcomes and whether this is the path that’s going to get you what you want” but I should probably take my own advice (and yours).

    2. ferrina*

      Your boss sucks and isn’t going to change.

      Seconding Peanut Hamper- who are you explaining to?
      Your boss? 100:1 odds she won’t listen (50:1 odds she’ll find a way to make it your fault).
      Your boss’s boss? They already know, and if they don’t, that’s because they’re a bad manager. You say your boss is famous for this behavior- if upper leadership cared, they’d have already acted. They don’t care about pain points as long as it’s your pain points and not theirs. Save your suggestions for your exit interview.
      An interviewer? They already know bad management is bad. What they want to know is why you’d be a good fit for their company.
      Your therapist? Honestly, the kind of frustration your boss would cause me would leach into other parts of my life. I’d be reaching for a therapist while I find my exit plan.

      Good luck

      1. Thomas Bodley*

        Well, thanks for the dose of good sense. You’re absolutely right, there’s probably no point in trying to explain to the boss and no one else there is likely to be too worried. Shall breathe deeply and look for ways to move on.

      2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        Seconding everything in @ferrina’s comment. I was in a similar situation (not my manager, but a colleague). Said colleague was terrible at his work, everyone knew it, yet my manager seemed to think it was my job to tell colleague that.

        I guess my manager was also trying? Not sure why I needed to have any input.

        Anyways, only viable solution was leaving, since bad coworker had been there for years and no one did anything.

  53. Joanna Rose*

    One of my direct reports is my age and we were coworkers until I was promoted a year and a half ago. We have some WFH flexibility but there are requirements to be onsite 70% of the time. Because this role requires being in a few different locations, they have more flexibility than most about what constitutes onsite. The problem is that they constantly have issues logging into calls, accessing our files, needing workarounds- that kind of connectivity is important even if it hasn’t directly impacted performance yet, they can’t even get on Jabber, and the requests raises eyebrows. And they are never on camera, which shouldn’t matter but when you’re digitally MIA, it becomes an issue. I don’t want to care but my leadership have made the comment that we never actually know if they’re onsite or working, and it came up during their annual review. I mentioned this last year, I’ve mentioned it this year, nothing has changed, I just get an empty sure thing.

    I get that it shouldn’t matter, but I’m trying to set them up for success and it clearly matters to leadership. They asked why they’re not getting promoted and this was an issue, which they didn’t take well to hearing. What else can I do?

    1. BellyButton*

      You can’t “mention it”, you have to clearly lay out what is wrong- not being able to access things, not knowing what site they are at, and not appearing on camera, and what you need them to change. “Work with IT to figure out what the connection issues are and get them resolved, if you need my help navigating this request, let me know. You need to be on camera for the following meetings…. Set your teams/slack/outlook to state which site location or WFH every day.”

    2. Goddess47*

      Seconding BellyButton. Don’t soften it. Think of it as speaking in ‘declarative sentences.’

      Not: you don’t seem to be on camera a lot. Yes: You must turn your camera on.

      Not: you seem to have problem getting on Jabber. Yes: I need you to resolve your Jabber problem by [date]. I must see IT tickets related to your problem.

      Good luck.

    3. WellRed*

      I don’t get why being on camera matters. Surely you don’t mean the camera is on while they work. But the other stuff absolutely matters. If they can’t get online or access various things offsite, they need to work in the office. That’s an actual requirement.

  54. Autistic Chili Pepper*

    Neurospicy people: I’m a new manager, and currently onboarding my first direct report. I’m also insanely introverted. This whole talking all day every day this week has completely burned me out to the point where I’m having panic attacks before work in the morning. Besides outsourcing parts on onboarding to others, which isn’t an option for a variety of reasons…how do you manage the stress of this?! I have to do it again in a few months and I’m already worried about getting through it without having a complete meltdown. Also, any tips on being a neurodivergent manager in general would be helpful; it’s a topic that there doesn’t seem to be much literature on, which is disappointing.

    1. Queen Ruby*

      I’m interested in this, too. I have ADHD and when I was a new manager, I absolutely hated onboarding people. I simply did not have the attention span required. My solution? Pawn them off on other departments for the morning or afternoon, or even just a couple hours. That way, I got a break and they got to know other parts of the company and their new colleagues. Is it the best solution? Maybe not. But spending an entire workday doing onboarding was going to end up being an even worse solution for both of us.
      I no longer manage people lol

    2. BellyButton*

      Is it possible to break the day up to give yourself some down time? Like showing them the process for X, then having them go sit for an hour and read something or do a compliance course? Do 1 hour chunks together and then 1 hour apart?

      1. Catwoman*

        I second this. As a trainee, I would love this approach too. Onboarding is often like drinking from a firehose, so if you can slow the pace that helps it to be less overwhelming for everyone.

      2. JustAnotherEmailMarketer*

        I was going to suggest this! I’m an introvert and even being on the other side of onboarding is exhausting! It might also benefit your new direct report to have some breaks, too. I think most people can only absorb so much information.

        If there are resources/process docs that are *legitimately useful* for their role and training, Could you give them an hour / couple of hours to go through those and say “review these and write down questions and we can go over them together”?

        I think doing something like that gives everybody a break, but I think it needs to be information that’s actually helpful and that they would theoretically need to learn. I.e. please don’t give them the company directory and tell them to review that or something else that’s busy work.

        I don’t know if this is doable / would work but…could you also stretch out the schedule a little bit? i.e. onboard them over a week and a half or 2 weeks and break it into smaller chunks?

    3. RagingADHD*

      I know you can’t outsource to other people, but can you create onboarding materials that don’t rely on 100 percent you talking all day long? That’s got to be hard for the employees to digest, too. Text, video, quizzes and exercises, something? Then you can do a little of the talky part, give them some time to work on the material independently, and come back for the next segment.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Yeah, the report probably also would appreciate a break from interaction! Are there any guides or manuals or anything they need to be reading?

      2. Peanut Hamper*

        When I did training at my old job, I did this. It was easier on me and it was easier on the trainee.

      3. Autistic Chili Pepper*

        I’d like to say, this is the solution I employed this afternoon! But only because I suddenly had 5 million things happen at once (water leak, delivery drivers saying they won’t unload a 70 box delivery that they are contracted to do, student employees needed work, had to send time sensitive emails, etc.)

        I’m so over this week. I’m going to spend tonight on the couch not moving. I honestly think, once I figure out how to be a manager, I could actually be good at it! But all of this learning and building the department while learning is just exhausting.

        1. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

          My first three months as a manager I was basically in fight or flight mode the entire time. Work hours, non work hours, asleep, awake it didn’t matter. The exhaustion of that is very real. Enjoy your night on the couch.

          It doesn’t last forever. You will never again have to onboard someone for the first time. It could be that even when you get used to it, that particular task is always draining for you — hopefully some of the above ideas work to make it a bit better! It will still get better when you do it a few more times. And if not this task, others that feel hard right now will get easier too so your overall mental load will be lighter.

          FWIW sounds like today would have been a rough one for anyone! So much of the early days of managing is that ALL the tasks are overwhelming ALL the time. It’s okay to be tired and it really does get better with practice.

    4. just another queer reader*

      At one of my jobs, my manager gave me a list of people who I’d interact with in the role and told me to set up 1:1s with each of them. It worked out pretty well.

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        Seconding this, I asked a new hire to do this. In my case, I gave everyone a heads up that New Hire would be contacting them and shared the questions New Hire and I had brainstormed to start the conversation.

  55. Timeline Question*

    Looking for insight on hiring timelines for bigger organizations with more formal processes. I’m in software where there are fast responses and interviewing is done on a rolling basis and you usually hear from a recruiter within a day or two of applying. I’ve recently applied at a few hospitals and universities where most of my applications haven’t been looked at yet according to their tracker, so I’m guessing they follow a more formal approach and do iterative rounds to find the best candidate.

    Is there a typical amount of time that a position remains open before interviewing begins? Or does it wait for a certain number of applications? There are no details about this in the posting.

    I’m a super strong match for these positions though I might be too expensive (no salary posted). If it wasn’t for the massive layoffs in tech, I’d be very confident about getting an interview. These are the only jobs in the area that excite me, so I can artificially slow down the interview process with other places that I’m less interested in if I thought I’d get through these larger processes in time. I’m comfortable financially and would rather wait for something good where I’m happy for 5-10yrs than take something I just feel “meh” about.

    1. Another commenter*

      While this experience isn’t standard, I have personally experienced a timeline of up to six months from resume submission to offer received for nonfaculty positions at academic institutions. A friend experienced similar timelines with some governmental orgs.

    2. Insert pun here*

      I can’t speak to hospitals but I can speak to universities: they are slow. Some will have requirements that jobs remain open for a certain amount of time (usually 2 weeks, from what I’ve seen), then usually a week minimum for a hiring committee to weigh in, THEN they’ll contact you. But that single week might also stretch into months. They also might leave the job up for longer than two weeks to get more applicants. A several month long process is not at all abnormal, in my experience.

      My university department is currently hiring to replace someone who left late last fall. This is a little slower than we usually are but not, you know, a lot slower.

  56. yala*

    So apparently we’re having a workplace assessment soon, with face-to-face interviews. Not sure how I should prepare for this, if I should be worried, or what. Like…just how honest should I be about things that bother me with my department? I don’t want to be The Problem, or seem like I’m a “bad fit” or whatever.

    1. yala*

      Actually, follow-up question, but…would this be a good time to discuss maybe getting a pay increase? I missed out on the past four years of Cost-of-Living increases because of unsatisfactory ratings on my annual reviews, which were largely caused by a combination of untreated/unaccommodated ADHD and by personal friction with my supervisor. With new accommodations, I had a successful review last year, and have continued that success, so I should get my $.50 raise in July(for my assessment from last August), and I know government employment is different about raises and all, but is there a way to maybe ask if my Cost-of-Living increase could…kind of actually be closer to the Cost-of-Living?

      I’ve had mixed experiences with HR, so the whole thing has me nervous.

    2. Goddess47*

      Depends on who is running it and why ‘they’ are doing the assessment. What is the stated goal of the assessment. Do they want to make *your* life better (hey, this is something we should fix so OP can do their job better) or do TPTB want to make *themselves* feel better (look! our employees love their jobs and we’re so cool!)?

      And, no matter what they say, nothing is anonymous.

      Yes, that’s paranoid. But, as you say, no one wants to be The Problem and you should tailor any responses appropriately. Sorry!

  57. RJJ*

    I’m having an issue with two of my employees. Both are members of a religion (Jewish and Seventh Day Adventist) and there was an argument about cultural appropriation over not knowing that Seventh Day Adventist considers Saturday, not Sunday the Sabbath. My Seventh Day Adventist employee was acting in good faith and not appropriating anything. The misunderstanding has been explained bit feelings are still hurt all around. Any advice for how to deal with this? For context I am Hindu and I take religious issues like this seriously and would never want to diminish the feelings of either of my employees. Thank you.

    1. EMP*

      I think Alison has written the good advice in similar situations where you have to keep it focused on behavior at work. It’s fine if they are privately miffed, but if it is impacting their ability to be courteous to their colleagues and do their job, then you have to address the later. After a cool off period if one or the other is behaving oddly or inappropriately or avoiding work due to this disagreement, then you can address the behavior that needs to change while acknowledging they can feel about it whatever they want to feel.

    2. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      Am I understanding that the Jewish employee is arguing and saying that the Adventist employee is appropriating the Jewish religion because they also hold Saturday as the Sabbath? So is the Jewish employee angry at the entire church? Or does the Jewish employee think that just this Adventist employee is just saying that Saturday is the Sabbath, but that the church doesn’t follow that, so he thinks it’s just this one employee who is misappropriating?

      I find this really odd. Like, Judaism and Christians have the same origins and scriptures and even have holidays (Passover is in both Jewish and Christian traditions, but it is much more of a big celebration in Judaism). So of course there are going to be crossovers with the religion. It’s my understanding that the Seventh Day Adventists are going back to the original scripture (Genesis) and interpreting the sabbath that way, the same way Judaism does.

      Are they just having a disagreement or is it affecting work? Is the problem that they both need sundown Friday to sundown Saturday off? Because that should be the ONLY reason why this is coming up and being a problem at work. Is one employee trying to make a report or something against the other? I would say to the employee that this is an established religion and their practice follows similar practice to your religion. It’s not something that should be debated at work, and that employees need to be respectful of all religions, regardless of personal feelings.

      1. Punk*

        I just want to point out that you can support one side of the argument without treading on supersessionism. The idea that Judaism and Christianity are essentially the same leads to the bad logic that Jews are wrong for not “updating,” and it’s often used in the specifically American context of Christians pressuring Jews to convert and just be Christian already. The scriptures aren’t the same (not all of the books overlap and the ones that do aren’t in the same order) and it’s not true to state that Christians celebrate Passover, at least not in good faith (there’s a whole thing with certain Christians demanding the right to have seders, even though seders didn’t exist during Jesus’ time; there was a different Passover observance).

      2. RJJ*

        Is the problem that they both need sundown Friday to sundown Saturday off?

        It should not affect work at all. We do not work on weekends and during the week my employees are done two hours before the earliest time of sunset times of the year. Also these two employees are not the only ones with their title, so if they did both need to leave early there are over a dozen other people still working.

        I found it odd too. There’s no reason it would affect work.

    3. RagingADHD*

      They can feel however they feel, but they can’t keep up a passive-aggressive feud at work. They need to act courteous and collegial.

      If their behavior is a problem, address the behavior. Don’t try to manage their feelings, because their feelings are their own business and they are entitled to privacy about it.

    4. Hiccups*

      The fact this came up at all makes me concerned there are some deeper resentment or religious discrimination happening in the background. Unless you know the person who accused the other of cultural appropriation to be generally prickly and reading the worst into their coworkers I’d try and suss out what else is happening to make the accuser jump to that conclusion.

      1. RJJ*

        Sorry for any confusion. There was no accusation. That exact phrase was used against my Seventh Day Adventist employee. He didn’t accuse anyone of saying it to him. It was said to him in front of witnesses.

        1. Citra*

          Sorry, what exact phrase was used against him, and who said it to him?

          Do you know why it was said? Were they having a discussion about their weekend plans or something?

          I want to offer advice (as I’m sure others here do), but feel like I need to fully understand the situation in order to properly do so. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this!

          1. allathian*

            Sounds like the Jewish employee accused the SDA employee of cultural appropriation. Which in this case would be religious discrimination.

  58. Carpe Manana*

    At the very small consulting business where I work, we definitely need more help, meaning more staff. There’s one problem: Me. I suck at training. Everything is second nature to me, and I struggle to put myself in the shoes of someone for whom everything is new, confusing, and less than obvious. I don’t have the time, don’t have the relevant background, and probably don’t have the right personality for this. Unfortunately, I’m the only one who knows all the ins and outs.

    Our last successful associate hire has been with us for two years, and he had an ideal background in an adjacent field. He’s a rare bird. Even with this, it was a year before he could fly solo. It’s a long learning curve, and the other entry level associates I’ve trained (or tried to train) never got anywhere this far. They tended to use me and my lack of stellar aptitude in this area as their excuse. I acknowledge some validity to this, but our industry offers a plethora of webinars, manuals, and courses to introduce one to the field and hone their skills. They never took advantage of them. What internal documentation I’ve managed to put together is more than what I got when I started. Ultimately, they dumbed-down the position so that they were tackling one-tenth of the job. Given the investment of time it involves for me, I just didn’t see the ROI. All this has made me leery of bringing onboard someone new.

    We advertise this as an entry-level associate position with the opportunity for professional growth. Our starting salary is competitive for an administrative assistant, but low for what a seasoned associate would ultimately make. However, it’s common for pay to be 100% commissioned based. Most entry-level associates don’t see their first paycheck for 18 months, and our offer is better than this. Besides, for the first year or more, a lot of the duties will be administrative in nature. I currently handle them, so don’t see an issue in asking an entry-level associate to share the burden. (This was a problem for one new hire in the past.)

    Keeping in mind that we are SMALL, under resourced business, I’d like to hear from others what made for a good onboarding and training experience. For those responsible for training new staff, are there any tips, tricks, approaches that you’ve picked up over the years that have helped you improve in this role?

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      A few questions:

      1) What have you tried and what worked better/worse?

      2) How did you learn? Can you require they read the manuals and attemd webinars and courses (preferably on the clock, with the company covering associated costs)?

      Some suggestions:

      1) Decide on an onboarding timeline, with goals by the end of the week, e.g.,

      *Week 1: New Hire will know how to file expenses in our system.
      *Week 2: New Hire will know how to initiate a background check for potential clients. Actual background check will be passed onto experienced staff.
      *Week 4: New Hire can complete simple background checks, with experienced staff’s help.

      2) For the training of specific tasks, have them shadow you as you do them. Talk out loud about the steps you are taking and why. Next oppportunity that task needs to be done, give them the five minute review, then have them do it with you watching and offering guidance. Repeat 3-5 times.

      Then, have them do it on their own (while you do other work), then have them show you what they did. You may have to ask them to walk you through it step-by-step if the end result seems off. Repeat 5-10 times, slowly easing off as the results look accurate. Make sure they know to ask when something is different than typical.

      1. Carpe Manana*

        Thank you for the suggestions and particularly the structure. These are relevant and give me a new way of approaching this.

        To answer #1.

        What worked well in the past was a very precise guide I put together on how to screen new clients. It included an outline of steps involved, scripts, questions, sample follow-ups, timelines, and an “if/then” tree.

        A similar but unsuccessful example is a booklet I put together on how to develop automated campaigns in our CRM system. I combined this with having them shadow me a couple of times to see how it was done, and going through online tutorials. It just never stuck.

        At times my boss would claim that my expectations were unreasonable and that I needed to change the job to fit their existing capabilities. His approach, however, was very individual-dependent. If he liked them, they could do no wrong, even if “doing no wrong” meant doing very little. If the honeymoon proved short-lived, they could do no right, no matter how much effort they put into it.

        To answer #2.

        How did I learn? Largely, through osmosis. I got one day of training. When I started, most of the client marketing collateral was rather juvenile and the processes were unnecessarily complicated. I new that we could do better. I studied what others in our industry were doing, what was considered best practices, took templates from other offices willing to share, upgraded them, and also switched us from a heavy on paper to a 100% electronic office. I pretty much changed everything within the first two to three years, and now we’re known as putting out some of the best products within our market in our very niche industry.

        The negotiation component, however, took me years to master, and it’s still not my cup of tea. I don’t expect anyone to jump into that.

        In the past, I might have made the industry resources seem like a suggestion rather than a requirement, e.g., included them under a list of helpful resources. If I came across a new event or course that seemed relevant, I would forward it to them and suggest they attend.

        Setting the expectation that this is a requirement and not just a random idea is something that I can remedy. And yes, we’d expect any participation to happen during normal working hours and would cover any associated costs.

        Thank you again for your guidance. There is much that I can implement.

    2. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      The below is intended to help you reframe so take it or leave it as it applies in your situation. One other thought is to be extremely clear when hiring what the path of this role looks like – the pros and cons compared to the other type of associate position, so they have all the information. Same on what amount of training comes from the org and what they might have to do themselves and whether that is during the workday or a webinar they do on their own time. Finally, do what you can to encourage peer learning in other ways so it doesn’t all fall to you. Can your success story hire mentor the next one? Can you encourage them to join a specific industry group or association? What other resources are at their disposal and make sure they know it is expected for them to use them.

      The reframe: A good rule to remember with training is that it doesn’t feel efficient in the moment. You don’t have time anyway, and now they want you to take an hour to show someone a thing you could do in 10 minutes? That seems bananas! But once another person can do the thing – even if it takes them twice for them to complete the task at first – that means you could take a coffee break to unwind and clear your head. Without leaving the task undone. It makes you more efficient!

      Knowing that, and really leaning into it in the actual moment when you have a million things to do, is so so so hard to do. But I find remembering that it is short term pain for long term gain helps me to not punch a wall with frustration in the mean time.

      1. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

        Also, Tree Hugger’s protocol for showing the task, watching them do the task themselves, etc is perfect.

    3. Lasuna*

      I agree with another commenter that being upfront in the interview about what training looks like may be helpful. It would allow people who know they want or need a lot of hand holding during training, or who expect to be able to jump in and do not want to put the work in to learning, to select out. Personally, if I was applying to the job, I would find more independent training through webinars, manuals, etc to be a plus that makes the role more appealing to me.

      Before going over what training looks like, you should ask about what kinds of training has allowed the candidate to succeed in past roles, how they learn best, etc. This will give you a sense of whether or not the candidate can succeed with the type of training your company can offer. Particularly given that you describe your company as small and under resourced, it is appropriate to consider a candidate’s ability to learn the role with the training you have to offer as an essential qualification. If you had a dedicated trainer whose full time job was onboarding and training new hires, it would be more reasonable to expect training to be tailored to the new hire’s needs, but that is not what you are describing.

      Given what you’ve said about your skills and ability to train, it may be helpful to design training so that you are never the one explaining something new. You could try to design a training program where the new hire is first required to attend a relevant webinar or read a specific manual/section of a manual. Then have the person shadow a relevant portion of your job, taking particular care to explain anything you do differently from the manual and why.

      I do a lot of training and use a four part process that may or may not work depending on the job you are training for.
      1) The trainee shadows me while I talk in detail about what I am doing.
      2) The trainee does the thing themselves while I talk them through what to do. For this step to be most successful, it is important to assume they learned NOTHING from shadowing you. Repeat this step multiple times, providing less feedback each time. Move on to the next step when the trainee can complete the process without being talked through it.
      3) The trainee does the thing independently while I supervise and correct any errors as they happen. Continue this step until errors become uncommon. Given how busy you sound, you could modify this so you only directly supervise the person once or twice, but closely review their work, providing feedback on errors.
      4) The trainee does the thing independently but talks me through it in a reverse of #1. Ask the trainee to pretend that it is your first day and they are training you. This is awkward for a lot of people, but a valuable learning tool. This step gives you important insight in to whether the trainee fully understands the process or has some misconception about how or why something is done.

  59. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

    I’m curious to know what workplace norms people have learnt about through AAM that they found surprising.
    I’m not from the US and I have never heard of sending thank you notes to interviewers outside of AAM and I still find the idea strange.
    What else have people learner about that has surprised them?

    1. No Tribble At All*

      More of workplace rights than workplace norms. I wouldn’t have known anything about ADA accommodations or other non-discrimination stuff, and I wouldn’t have known that companies can’t forbid you from talking about salary.

    2. Green Goose*

      That most Americans only get two weeks off and rarely take more than one week off at a time. I’m American and Danish and I’m more of the European mindset to time off so it boggles my mind that the American workforce brainwashes people into not taking time off.

        1. The Real Fran Fine*

          That part. There are companies out there that barely give PTO – you can’t take what you don’t have.

          1. Green Goose*

            I realized I poorly wrote my comment, I meant people not taking the PTO that they have. I see a lot of posts, or even hear from my coworkers that they let their PTO expire and it really shocks me.

        1. Green Goose*

          I’m sorry, re-reading this is sounds way ruder than I intended. I live in the states and I have fallen victim to it to, I didn’t mean to imply that it was everyone but me. I’ve just seen so many people argue for the case to not take time off when they really need it and when they are entitled to it (myself included in the past) and because they feel so indebted to their jobs, they don’t take it. Or work at a place that discourages people to not take him off, and people just accept that. I work in nonprofits and I hear coworkers and see a lot of commenters say this, and then those same companies lay people off without a second thought.
          We are entitled to our time off, and I think there is a culture (brainwash was too harsh a term, so I apologize) of competitive overworking, and not taking time off and I feel like it’s perpetuated from the top but also by colleagues.

    3. Anon Responder*

      I’m still a bit surprised at what now passes for appropriate workplace attire, but I have learned to keep my mouth shut and my opinions to myself.

    4. allathian*

      I’ve certainly learned to appreciate my privileges as an employee in the EU in comparison to what people in the US are used to dealing with.

    5. Job Searcher*

      I recently learned what to expect in a short screening interview vs a longer in-person interview. Very helpful in my current job search.

  60. Three Cats in a Trenchcoat*

    How do you go about changing the emotional tone of a job choice?

    So, I was interviewing with two different hospitals for similar but not exact jobs, which was very exciting. I ended up getting two offers (so, full contracts to review), which gave me a lot to think about. Abruptly, Job B ended up pulling the offer in a very passive aggressive way, and so I signed Job A. Job A is a good job! I’m excited to finally have a grown up attending job! But it feels really shitty to have made the choice in the setting of being suddenly rejected, even if I know it means I probably dodged a bullet.

    Anyone have any advice on how to lean in to the positives in this kind of situation?

    1. HigherEdAdminista*

      I think I would remind yourself that if this is how Company B treated someone they were trying to recruit, they likely treat their working employees much worse. That behavior would have likely come up for everything from vacation requests to sick days to reporting on any difficulties.

      Not to mention, if they were upset you were reviewing the contract… you have to wonder what in the fine print they didn’t want you to notice!

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Getting rejected always stings, even if you aren’t materially worse off (you still have a job offer that seems like a good fit!). The two pieces of advice I have are:

      1 – Do you have any grief rituals to mourn the loss of Job B’s offer? Possible ideas: print out the job ad for B and ritually burn it or tear it up into small pieces, eat ice cream and listen to break up songs, etc. Acknowledge your bad feelings about B’s offer being pulled.

      2 – After your grief ritual, if thoughts of B ever bubble up, gently redirect yourself from “B rejected me!” to “…but I’m excited to start at A where [I’ll get to use X skill/I’ll learn about Y/there’s a great coffeeshop in the building]!”

    3. Michelle Smith*

      Sometimes things happen that we can’t explain. I have two professional acquaintances (we’re very friendly, but not social, hang out on the weekends together type friends if that makes sense?) who got jobs on a team that I applied to work for. I was ghosted and treated horribly by that organization. They were treated respectfully and welcomed on board. I even helped acquaintance #2 with interview advice and connections to acquaintance #1 in order to get her hired. I to this day do not know why I was treated so badly by them, but I am in a different job now that I enjoy and while I am sometimes disappointed that I didn’t get to work with friends at a place closer to home, I’m grateful that I have a good job doing what I want with a boss I respect. That focus on gratitude can be a game changer.

      I would suggest bringing your thoughts back to:
      (1) the fact that you dodged a bullet for sure
      (2) the fact that the reason for their rejection in such a disrespectful way is not a reflection of you but of them
      (3) the fact that you had another offer to choose from where you were some hiring manager’s/team’s top choice and it turned out to be a great opportunity
      (4) the fact that you will outgrow the job you’re in one day and move on, so even if it’s not perfect in every way, that’s okay and doesn’t mean the grass would have been greener at Company B

      It also is true that job searches, even when they ultimately end in success, can be super draining and can negatively impact a person’s self-esteem. I know I was very depressed during my search, to the point that when I came across some old comments I’d made a year later, I didn’t even recognize that person anymore (I was very dangerously depressed and dropped very concerning statements casually to the point that people were messaging me privately on that forum and sending me safety advice and offering to support me to not make permanently harmful decisions, if you catch my drift). If any of that is happening for you to even the slightest degree of depression or sadness, there are lots of things you can do to help. For me, it was having a career coach as a sounding board, seeking therapy and having that therapist validate my frustration with my situation, and posting affirmations on my wall. Just to clarify, these were not nice words I found on the internet (for the most part). I copied down nice things people said about me and to me in an effort to encourage me and I taped them to my walk to remind me that people cared about me and believed those things about me. I still have them up actually.

    4. RagingADHD*

      I tend to overthink and agonize about making the right choice, especially when they are complex and very similar in a lot of ways.

      Clarity is really valuable, and you got to save all that brainspace for better things.

  61. Call Me Dr. Dork*

    I am planning to retire soon from my IT job. Never having done this before, I don’t know the right amount of notice to give. I don’t think I’ll be let go immediately after telling management (although that is always a risk in IT), but I don’t know if giving several months notice will just mean several months of management folks bellyaching at me and no new resources being brought in for me to train.

    Some details: I am not yet official retirement age, but my financial advisor has given their blessing (and my spouse has already retired). I am on a very small team, and I’ve done loads of documentation in our group’s wiki.

    So, recent IT retirees and managers of recent IT retirees, how much notice do you think is appropriate? And have you found a way to keep people from catastrophizing about it all over you?

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      My boss has a countdown for retirement on his wall, and I’ve told him I’m going to retire at the same time. The countdown started several months ago, and there is still nearly 2 years to go. But that might be excessive. My spouse (not IT), gave several months, to give them a chance to hire and train a replacement.

    2. BellyButton*

      How long does it typically take to fill our position? The higher up and more specific knowledge or skills you have determines how long you should give. Would they hire someone for you to train? Would someone be in line to be promoted to your position that you would train.

      But those decisions and that sort of planning is for leadership to think of. They should have succession plans for everyone who is getting close to retirement age and anyone who holds very specific knowledge/skills.

      The only thing I would take into account, if I were in your shoes, is how long does it typically take to fill a role like mine.

    3. Choggy*

      I feel like I could have written this same post, word for word. We’ve only had two people retire from my (IT) department, others have left in a variety of ways good and bad. I don’t think the transitions went very well. I also work on a small team, so have been telling my boss of my plans and so far, have one person I’m training to be a backup for a specific task only I have done. There are other tasks that will need the same, so they have to find resources pretty much now because it will take months for them to get proficient enough to take over. I have written a lot of documentation, and at this point really don’t want to do any more. I’m happy to train and record the training sessions, but the trainees will have to take any notes and be as proactive as possible.

      I will have 20 years with my company next year, which should cover my being fully vested in my pension once I defer it a couple of years. My husband has been retired for a year, we’re in a great place financially and I’m ready for the next chapter. The only option I would entertain would be to work a little longer as a consultant, but only for training purposes, not continuing to do the work I do now. Oh, one other thing, you can’t control other people’s reactions, just let them know your plans and what you are willing to do and keep looking at the light at the end of the tunnel.

    4. Girasol*

      I gave several months (read somewhere that was proper) and regretted it. Within two weeks my work was reassigned and I was left out of meetings and out of the loop. That last month was very awkward. So I’d say two weeks as long as your documentation is caught up.

    5. Goddess47*

      Your concern about the bellyaching makes me thing you know it will happen. So, yes, do what you can to avoid it.

      I’m going to suggest a month’s notice, although you can do the prep work, quietly, before that. Do the documentation, set up the workflows, and whatnot, so that when you make the formal announcement, if they walk you out the door, you can go with a clean conscious.

      And, it’s a business. Especially for someplace that it sounds like you’ve worked for a long time. Hiring the next person and what happens to the folk you leave behind is not your problem. You can commiserate with your friends, but you can’t solve their problems any more.

      Enjoy that retirement!

    6. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      The longer they have, the more opportunity for catastrophising… Given that you presumably aren’t claiming retirement benefits from the company as such, does it have to be framed as a retirement? Perhaps you are quitting with nothing to move on to (or to become self employed — unfortunately, or fortunately, ‘you’ don’t have any work for ‘yourself at the moment), treat it as any other resignation and give 2 weeks or whatever the norm is.

    7. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      How much notice have your coworkers given when they quit for a new job? Give that much.

      i.e. behave as you would if you were changing jobs instead of retiring. Employers should assume anyone can leave anytime, for any reason. So don’t feel obliged to suffer through months of your notice.

      I’d quietly prepare handover documentation so you aren’t rushed at the end and then give 2 weeks notice, 4 weeks if you’ve enjoyed working there.

      1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

        … and if they can’t brought in a replacement for you to train properly during your notice, it’s not your problem.
        (with 2 weeks being the standard US notice, it presumably often happens that the replacement arrives after the employee has already left?)

        If you have quietly prepared your handover documentation before giving notice, then you’ve done all you need to.

        1. linger*

          Amount of notice is very industry-dependent. 6 months is typical in higher education, for example (since the org has to guarantee availability of suitably-qualified instructors throughout a semester-long course, and since hiring of instructors is subject to many checks, balances, and delays).

  62. Daisy*

    Advice on giving a previous boss as a reference.

    My last boss was TERRIBLE, like, unethical, a complete fraud, has an awful reputation in her field for screwing over the organizations and people who work for her. I didn’t know any of this when I started, but as soon as I wised up and she started asking me to commit fraud, I left.

    I’m leaving it off my resume, even though I was there for seven months. My question is– if asked for prior supervisors, do I ever have to give her as a reference? If so, what do I say?

    1. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      If you are leaving the job off your resume you do not have to include the boss. In fact, references should be people you have talked to that agree to be refrence. You never want to just list people you have not contacted or have not agreed to be refrences.

      I have seen job applications that ask to list your manager and contact info, but this is more to confirm employment info and not an actual reference. So if you are not including that job do not include the supervisor. If you do want to use that job is there someone else that you could use for contact? HR or another coworker?

      1. The Shenanigans*

        I agree they can just leave this manager off a resume. An application might ask for every job you’ve ever thought about having going back to Kindergarten, though. Then you can leave the manager’s name off and explain the situation if asked about it.

        Yes you can and should choose your references, but be aware a lot of good employers call other people listed on the application too. That’s perfectly legal and allowed. It’s also smart hiring, as Alison has said before.

    2. Michelle Smith*

      If it is not on your resume, I do not know why you would provide a reference from that place, as it would raise questions as to why you needed to leave it off your resume. I think if this is a requirement of the application to list all past jobs and supervisors in the past X number of years, you would be required to list someone from the company or not proceed with the application. I would suggest someone from the department that manages hiring and can confirm dates of employment (could be HR, could be someone else like a boss’ boss). However, if it’s asking for supervisors for each job you actually list, just don’t list that job and supervisor. If it’s asking for 3 references open-endedly, you pick whoever you want. For my last job, that’s how most applications were framed and I listed my immediate past supervisor who had left the organization a couple of years before, a supervisor before that, and a peer that I had shared a 4-person office with. I did not include my terror of a current supervisor nor her more likeable but ultimately ineffective boss, who I also worked closely with and who knew I was job searching, because I didn’t think either of them would give me the kind of reference I deserved. In open-ended situations, you absolutely can pick and choose. If you’re asked about it, you have a very good explanation anyway.

    3. RagingADHD*

      If you are asked for a complete job history for a background check, then you have to list it or it will look like you’re hiding something. If it’s an ordinary conversation about work history or a request for references, no.

      Usually if you are asked for a complete background history with supervisor’s contact information, you would also be asked whether they can contact the supervisor and why or why not. Then you can say that you left the job because of the supervisor’s conduct, and they will not provide an accurate or objective reference.

    4. DocVonMitte*

      I have pretty relevant experience in this! I spent 2 years at Theranos which I then left off my resume. For references I used managers and coworkers from my previous job and internships. If this isn’t your only work history, just use references from other places.

      Your reference list (like your resume) doesn’t have to be a full historic account of all of your work ever. If this job isn’t on your resume, no need to include that boss as a reference.

  63. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

    So I was reading something the other day and it made me think of my toxic former job at a call center. we only got two 10-minute breaks for an 8-10 hour shift on top of our 30-minute off-the-clock lunch. At that time I was newly diagnosed with some stomach issues which meant I would sometimes need to use the bathroom outside of my break times. Our call center was extremely strict with time off the phone. Like monitoring if you went over by even a minute and calling you out. My team lead had started to have us sign in and out on paper when we went to break or on lunch. This was on top of the electronic signing-in we did on the phone system.

    I had to get FMLA to make accommodations so that I was allowed to go to the bathroom outside of my designated break time, and to allow me to take time off if I was too ill to work, and not get points.
    My question is, if I had to use the bathroom before my break time I was forced to deduct that time from my break time. So if I went to the bathroom earlier and was gone for 5 minutes, I would only get a 5-minute break. I don’t think that this was legal because my accomodation was extra bathroom breaks or being able to use the bathroom when I needed too.

    It’s too late now, that company was bought out by another one almost 5 years ago and they moved the call center to another state where they could pay the workers even less. But I’d love any thoughts about this from anyone who has experience with FMLA.

  64. delaware*

    Similar to the no social media question, I’d love to hear responses about how much an upcoming college grad needs Linkedin.

    Like, scale of 1 to 10, 1 being “people and hiring in my field literally couldn’t care less” and 10 being “without Linkedin, all you have is the cold wind of the universe,” how much does a good LinkedIn matter?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I’m in engineering, and I think 3. Big caveat that I have never been a manager and
      I do have a LinkedIn, so I could be off-base with my assessment. As a candidate, I have found LinkedIn to be:

      – not very helpful at finding job ads (I prefer Indeed)
      – good for looking up hiring managers and other interviewers before (or after) interviews to get a better understanding of their job histories/experience
      – helpful for keeping professionally connected to former coworkers and managers

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

      I know others will disagree strongly on this, but my thought is that someone who is entry-level needs LinkedIn more than a mid-late career person who has built up a network of IRL people they can use for job searching. So I think, on a scale of 1-10, it’s a 7.

      1. Michelle Smith*

        To add onto this though (as my experience was the reverse), a lot of my IRL network are my LinkedIn network. As I change jobs/schools and people in my network do the same, phone numbers and emails sometimes become outdated while their LinkedIn remains the same.

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

          But if you’re using LinkedIn for job searching, isn’t that more about those contacts that you already have a connection to updating their profile? You could still look up their contact and reach out to them without really putting any effort into your own LI profile.

          1. Lady Danbury*

            Based on my experiences reaching out to people and also having people reach out to me, a reasonably informative LI helps to refresh my memory of who people are and how we were connected. It also helps me to understand where they’re at professionally (especially if it’s been a while) and allows me to be more helpful to them. Garbage in garbage out applies both ways!

    3. Michelle Smith*

      I don’t know about others in my industry, but I would not have gotten my last job without LinkedIn. I honestly don’t remember it playing a role in getting a job after college, but for me that was 15 years or so ago and I graduated into a recession where no one was getting jobs anyway. I am glad though that I already had an existing network on there when I finally needed to use it. LinkedIn helped me reach out to former colleagues from years ago that had taken career paths I wanted to take. I would not have had another way to contact these people. That led to informational interviews both with people I knew and with people I’d never spoken to before. It also allowed me to market myself in a way that I wanted to be seen, so that when people looked me up before an interview (and they did – I paid for Premium so I could see that) they had a very clear sense of my career progression, my personality, and my passions – not all of which would be reflected in a cover letter (from irrelevant volunteer experience and engagement with professional associations that has no room on my resume or cover letter, but that humanize me, to how I write and communicate with others online – whether I’m respectful, personable, knowledgeable, approachable, etc.). I found my career coach through LinkedIn, who is a person I would have been completely lost without. I also found a wardrobe coach (not sure the correct terminology) that helped me step up my appearance and look more professional.

      LinkedIn also has helped me help other people get jobs. I’ve had people I didn’t know or didn’t know very well reach out to me and I gave them advice and pointed them in the direction of opportunities I knew existed that they didn’t. Two of those people followed up with me and let me know they got those jobs. It’s still anecdotal evidence, but suffice to say that I’m not the only person I know who has benefitted from being active on the platform. As long as you have a complete profile (picture, about section, employment history, and headline) and you don’t interact with people in a rude way or post controversial statements on political topics, you at the very least shouldn’t be *hurt* by having a LinkedIn profile. But again, you get out of things what you put in. If you never add your school colleagues on the platform and never sign in to respond to posts or even read your messages, it’s not going to be as useful as if you do those things and build an actual network.

    4. Sunshine*

      I think this really depends on the industry. I’ve mostly worked for smaller marketing agencies and none of the places I’ve worked for have cared whether someone has a LinkedIn or not.

      1. Sunshine*

        (I will say in general that marketing is an industry that lends itself well to LinkedIn, though.)

    5. DisneyChannelThis*

      Like a 4? It’s helpful for validating someone is an actual candidate and not just spam, especially for new grads without much online footprint. At the very least make the profile with your education history on there if not some job history. The skills section you can skip if you really don’t like it. You don’t need to be active on there (liking posts, making posts) it just helps to exist.

    6. Lady Danbury*

      In my experience, I’d say maybe a 7. I’ve had multiple recruiters reach out to my based on my Linkedin profile. It’s also a great way to keep in touch with past colleagues, random people I meet in passing, etc. It’s not particularly valuable for new graduates in terms of job searches because the supply is usually a lot greater than the demand (with some exceptions, of course). However, having a profile from the very beginning will make it a lot easier to start making those connections that you can then build on as you grow your expertise and the supply/demand balance starts to shift. It’s also a way to nurture those connections by commenting on posts from people who you’d like to get to know better. Finally, consistently having an update Linkedin is beneficial when you’re looking for your next role, as it won’t be obvious that you’ve updated it to start your job search.

    7. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Field: Environmental/sustainability
      Experience: About 15 years
      Need: 1

      I use it as a job board, but it’s had zero impact on my ability to find a job. Recruiters in my field don’t use it and I don’t think any hiring committee members have ever looked at my profile (unless they were using the invisible setting, maybe?).

  65. Cookies*

    I am in what was listed as a progressive position- so you’re meant to move up from 1 to 2, 2 to 3, as you gain skills and experience. I have been stuck at 2 for several years, despite repeatedly discussing with my supervisor, my desire to continue on to 3. I feel that I have grown exponentially in my current role and have positive annual reviews. I also now hold several additional certifications that are related to my position. I’ve recently used language I learned on this website to really start putting some pressure on the matter. It seems like my supervisor is now considering my progression (looking at paperwork, scheduling a meeting to discuss, etc), but 1. She’s started piling more work onto my already packed schedule, which I feel are unrelated to gaining more experience to progress and 2. She has started blaming me for mistakes which, frankly, are due to her lack of follow-up. I’m not sure I want to progress with this company anymore. Is there a good script I can use if I decide to decline at this point? I’d like to try and keep things civil, at least until I have a firmer grasp on my future here (or not). thanks!

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      I don’t think there’s any benefit to preemptively turning down progression. Instead, put that energy towards job searching, even if it’s just to see what’s out there.

  66. syncbeat*

    WWYW? I have a final round of interviews at a cultural institution (affiliated with a large university). The job is a marketing/PR role. Would you wear:

    1/ black pants; gold, printed shell; black blazer, and suede wedges?
    2/ or black pants; dusty rose, flowy shirt; dusty rose blazer; and silver ballet flats?

    Black is default in lots of settings, but it can look harsh. I may be overthinking, but would love AMA’s input.

    1. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      I think either outfits would be great. Wear what you feel most comfortable with and what you will be confident in.

      For me, the wedges would be out, because I don’t wear heels often. And you never know if you need to be standing for a while or if they will take you on a campus tour where you will need to do a lot of walking.

      I work in a university setting and my department works with cultural departments similar to what you described you are interviewing with. Often times I see the directors wearing black pants and blazers with colored tops, or other colored outfits similar to what you describe. Black is going to be OK

    2. ferrina*

      I’d go for what makes me feel pretty. Both outfits sound lovely and professional, so go for what gives you that extra spark in your step and makes you happy. That kind of confidence will be remembered more than the outfit.

  67. FancyNameCollege*

    I’m hoping someone can help me figure out how to not sound like a jerk for wanting to get a professional certification from a well-known school rather than the tiny little one in the town my office is located.

    A few years ago I moved from a big city to a small town because I was offered a great opportunity to move into an executive-level position in my industry. I was working in a very saturated market in the big city and having difficulty advancing, so I made the choice to move away for my next step with the intention of returning within a few years – I’m hoping within the next 12-18 months at this point. (Obviously, I haven’t mentioned that part to my current workplace, though I’m sure they would not be surprised.)

    My work is paying for me to get a certification that’s common in my industry, and I’d prefer to get it from a FancyNameCollege a few hours away (where I have family) rather than at the local state school. Rightly or wrongly, my industry cares a lot about where you go to school (at least in the city I am planning to move back to), and it doesn’t matter so much in this small town, but it WILL matter when I move on from this job. Most people at my office go to the tiny local college for their certifications, but in doing research I have found that it costs the same at the school I’d rather go to, and they’re both weeklong intensives that require i take time off. The added bonus is that this particular program attracts people from companies I would be interested in working for down the line. I’m trying to think of how to frame it to my boss, since the program at the local college is fine. I was thinking along the lines of wanting to expand my networking opportunities in my current job, but I would appreciate any scripts/suggestions. Thanks!

    1. Ranon*

      Can you frame it as you’d like to do it at that school as an opportunity to stay with family that week, benefiting the company by having the credential at the same cost but with a shinier name that might benefit their marketing or other opportunities?

    2. Michelle Smith*

      You said most people go to the local college. Does that mean some didn’t? Did the office pay for those people to go? If so or if you’re not sure, I’d reach out to them and ask them directly.

      1. FancyNameCollege*

        Generally folks go to the local school or take online classes because they only cover the cost of the course, not travel. I actually don’t know of anyone who has traveled for a course. However, there’s no rule against it if we’re willing to pay for our own travel.

        1. Michelle Smith*

          Oh, that’s great then! Are you sure you even need to give a reason for choosing that school? I might approach the conversation as “I am ready to work on X certification at Fancy School and understand that since I am choosing to go out of town I will need to pay for my own travel and lodging and am prepared to do that.” I wouldn’t give a reason until asked and like the idea of saying networking opportunities and being able to see your family in the evenings and/or on the weekend after coursework is done.

          1. FancyNameCollege*

            In our environment, I worry more about the optics of “what is the local college not good enough for you, big city girl??” When the answer is no, it’s not, at least not for my particular goals.

            1. RM*

              In that case, lean on the visiting with family angle! If you’re talking to people who stayed in a small town for family and community, that will resonate.

    3. HigherEdAdminista*

      I like the idea of expanding networking opportunities! It doesn’t apply just to when you are in the program, but you will then be in their alumni camp as well, which may mean you have connections that can help your current job.

      You might also frame it that if most other employees have the certification from local college, you are curious if they have any different approaches at Other University that you could bring back to the team.

      1. FancyNameCollege*

        Oh that’s a great idea to highlight that I could learn different approaches! And the alumni part. The office only pays for the certification, not travel, which is the main reason people go to the local college. But I would gladly pay for my own travel to go to FancyNameCollege.

  68. Ranon*

    Big thanks to everyone who chimed in on the “what admins want” thread- this is my first role where I’ve worked with admins (my particular role means I work with several, even) and it was very helpful to better understand from a variety of perspectives what helps. Will definitely be copying mine on more emails more often! (I don’t have input on pay but largely my company does pretty decent on that front)

    Anyone else have takeaways they’re putting into practice?

    1. Industry Behemoth*

      In the last two years, I encountered two government agencies that added 2FA to their user login process.

      I’m no longer at that job, and have yet to encounter this again. The best approach I can see is that the user/boss will have to have the confirmation sent to their email, not their mobile phone. Then they’ll have to either give their admin access to their email, or be available themselves to forward the confirmation to whoever needs it. Suppose someone else needs to use the boss’s login/PW, and the boss’s own admin isn’t there to forward it on?

  69. Bunny Girl*

    Any advise on putting in your notice, when A) you really don’t want to give your company any notice and B) your job is impacting your health? I have been job hunting for about six months and I’m finally starting to get some traction and have a decent amount of interview coming up in the next few weeks. So I am hoping to be able to put my notice in somewhat soon.

    The problem is my job is making me miserable and stressing me out to the point it’s impacting my health. I am getting another stress ulcer, I’m losing hair, I have a splitting headache most days, and I have barely been sleeping the last month or so because I spend almost every non-work hour dreading having to come back. I want to just quit and be done, but I really like my supervisors and don’t really want to screw them over, but I am really, really struggling.

    1. ferrina*

      You’ve got options, and you get to pick the option that works best for you. Some ideas:

      1) You give notice on your last day. “I’m so sorry, but today needs to be my last day. I’ve been experiencing health issues and my doctor says I need to leave immediately.” If your supervisors are halfway decent, they’ll have already recognized that you weren’t doing well and they won’t be jerks about it.
      2) You give notice on your last week. “This needs to be my last week. DATE will be my last day. What is the best way for me to spend my time?”

      You can make it easier on your supervisors by making a list of everything you are working on, what the status and next steps are, who is also working on it and (if it makes sense for your role) who you recommend to take over your role. If you plan to give a week or two-weeks notice, you can also talk to your supervisors about what kind of training that person would need from you.

      The notice period is to give you time to transition your responsibilities to a new person. That’s the only thing your supervisor needs from you when you are leaving (and honestly, this is more on the supervisor than you- they should have contingency plans if someone suddenly leaves because that’s part of being the leader. If you’re doing a smooth transition, that’s doing them a huge favor). If you can do this effectively in 3 days, then there’s no need for you to subject yourself to 2 weeks unless the 2 weeks is necessary to preserve a reference. You aren’t screwing anybody by leaving- it sounds like the company has made it untenable to stay, and that’s on them.

      Congrats on getting out! Good luck!

    2. Hlao-roo*

      How long have you been at your current job and will you likely use them as a reference at some point in the future? The more likely you are to use them as a reference in the future, the more I would advise you to give at least one week if you can.

      The other thing to think about when weighing your options is: how stressful do you expect your (potential) two weeks’ notice to be? If you’ll no longer be responsible for major deadlines and will mostly be working on handing off projects to coworkers, that’s a point for giving standard notice. If your boss or coworkers will hassle you for leaving, give you more work, expect you to meet a major deadline (or several!) before you leave, that’s a good reason to make the day you give notice your last day.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        I have been here for about 8 months. It’s a job not in my field and I just took this job to finish up my last few semesters of college because the pay is decent for the area. As for my last two weeks it will be pretty much like every other week. They can’t really put more work on my desk because the way our work is set up is we just react to what is happening.

        1. Hlao-roo*

          Yeah, based on the information in your follow-up comments, make the day you resign your last day. And good luck with the upcoming interviews!

    3. Sherm*

      The dynamic does change when you give your notice. You are under no danger of getting fired — you have quit! The worst they can do is tell you that today is actually your last day, but that’s still not getting fired. If it’s 5pm and someone says “We need this NOW!” it’s much easier to say “Sorry, it’s 5pm, and I need to go.”

      And giving 2 weeks doesn’t mean you’ve signed away any right to leaving earlier. If you discover that the situation is intolerable, you can say “I’m sorry, although I intended to give 2 weeks’ notice, I’ve found that I need to make today as my last day.”

      But if you need to leave asap, you will be fine! Since you have a good relationship with your supervisors, I think you can be open with them that you just can’t stay any longer because of your health. Perhaps as a “compromise” you can be open to their reaching out for questions for a fixed amount of time.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        I’m actually afraid of how my last two weeks will look. The reason my job is so stressful is because the people I have to deal with on a daily basis are horribly abusive and my entire day is just spent arguing with people or getting screamed and yelled at. If I don’t have anything to lose there is 100% of a chance I’m going to fire off right back.

    4. Goddess47*

      Especially with your last update, pull the ‘doctor says’ card.

      “I’m sorry, today/tomorrow needs to be my last day. My doctor says I need to leave immediately.” You don’t have to explain, especially since the job sounds toxic.

      Good luck.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        Thank you. I appreciate that. I might try to do a combination of everyone’s advise and try to give a week’s notice with the option to bow out when necessary per medical advise (although I’m not consulting a doctor at this time. I’ve just been blessed with enough ulcers to know what’s going on). Or I’ll give two weeks and just fight with people with reckless abandon until I’m asked to leave.

        1. M2*

          Don’t fight with people. It’s not worth it. You never know where you’ll see these people again or if they’ll know someone at a future employer. Anyway you can give notice now or do you not want to roll the dice in case you don’t get another job soon?

          Good luck and I’m sorry you’re dealing with this situation.

  70. Water Everywhere*

    I have a fairly common name with a less common spelling. In random interactions I don’t mind if someone defaults to the standard spelling; however, if a coworker who I regularly exchange emails with misspells my name it does irk me. I’ll correct them once but if the error continues? They get added to my email rule that sends all emails containing my misspelled name straight to my junk folder to be retrieved at my leisure.

    Petty? Yes. Satisfying? Also yes.

    What petty ways do you deal with workplace annoyances for your own satisfaction?

    1. No Tribble At All*

      Wow, I get that name misspelling is annoying, but you can really just ignore emails from random people? None of these people are ever asking you for help or assigning you work? I’d be furious if my request was ignored indefinitely because I typed “Ann” instead of “Anne”

      1. Water Everywhere*

        I did say it was petty. I did also say that I retrieve the emails from the junk folder.

        1. The Real Fran Fine*

          I also use email Rules for annoying people at my job, so you’re not alone, lol.

    2. EngineerResearcher*

      I work in a graduate research group where for some reason (*cough cough*) it always seems like one of the women gets assigned supply ordering duties for the whole group, even though we are peers and all have access to the same ordering system. When I became the most senior (really: longest working) woman on the team, I very politely and with a smile on my face started offering to help with exactly 1 ordering process. I would walk them through it and give them the PDF guide on how to complete the process. Most folks graciously took this info and might email me a question now and then but figured out how to be an adult. One guy (who had been there longer than me but always managed to convince someone to take care of things for him) threw a fit about it and tried to demand I fix his mistakes in the process. My “no” held firm and I still don’t know if he ever got those chemicals he wanted lol.

  71. Nostalgic Wellness Coach*

    Does anyone know how The Work Number works?

    I was offered my dream job, contingent on a background check. I found out that this prospective company is listed as one of the employers that uses The Work Number. I was nervous about the background check, so I pulled a report on myself. Not only does my report show a job I was fired from after three months (so didn’t put on resume or application), but the report also shows paystub dates and amounts.

    Does a potential employer see this entire report if they search for me? Or do they just reach out to employers that I listed on my resume/application?

    1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      Commenting so I can follow. Yikes.

      Googling around a bit to see what it is, and this sounds like good news about the paystub part:

      Who can ask for a verification?

      Not just anyone can ask for your personal information. They have to be credentialed and have a permissible purpose to obtain the information. The Work Number service requires requestors to be credentialed verifiers, meaning they have to go through a credentialing process to prove they have a permissible purpose under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) in order to make a request and receive information.

      In addition, you have to give permission for a verifier to get your income information from The Work Number database. This is called consumer consent, and it’s usually part of an application you complete, for a job, for a lease, or for credit.

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      I have never heard about this site before, but the paystub amounts really worries me. I’m not sure how that is even legal?

      1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        Having read further, by all accounts they collect but do not provide the paystub/income data in an employment verification report, unless you explicitly allow the employer to see it. So, for anyone being checked out by The Work Number, make sure you read the fine print and know what you are agreeing to release! There’s something called a Salary Key that is needed to unlock that, and you have to create the code for it so it should be obvious.

        I do think the report includes all employment data, though, one of the OP’s other concerns. It’s listed as one of the features of the service — uncover inconsistencies or omissions in what the candidate has reported.

        1. Nostalgic Wellness Coach*

          Oh dang. Well, maybe it won’t matter. I see a couple of other previous short term jobs I’ve never mentioned before. If previous employers were checking the report, they must have known about them. I’ve never had an offer pulked from a background check.

          1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

            It may or may not be an issue, can’t do anything about it now except be prepared with answers if they follow up on anything you left off.

    3. DocVonMitte*

      Just so you know, you can freeze your work number (similar to freezing credit). You can Google “freeze The Work Number” for directions.

      Companies will still need to run a background check so you’ll likely need to submit proof of your work history done other way (redacted W2’s are one way). Note: this can slow your BGC down a bit too. But it allows you to control how much info they get on previous roles.

  72. Email Issues Abound*

    I’m wondering if anyone else has this problem and how you have dealt with it:

    I get a lot of emails in the course of my day-to-day and all of them are requests for assistance/information or to tell me about a problem. A lot of these problems are solved by reading the directions I have already given, or by using the resources I will point folks to. Things that are not falling into that category are new tasks to add to my long to-do list.

    This has made me start dreading my email. I get them all answered, but it takes longer than I want it to and I find myself delaying other projects because I am stuck on the things in my email.

    How do you get over the mental wall of answering emails that are creating more work for you, often in a meaningless way?

    1. ferrina*

      Tell your boss. This is eating into your productivity. You need to make an action plan together.

      For the things people should know- does your boss need to do an office-wide presentation? Record a video? Tell folks that they’ll have to complete a checklist before they’ll get individualized assistance? Empower you to do these things?

      For the never-ending to-do list: What can you say “no” to? Or “not right now”? You’ve only got so many hours, and you can’t get to everything. So what is the priority, and what needs to go on the “sorry, don’t have time” list? Your boss should help you set the priorities and strategy to protect your time.

      1. Prospect gone bad*

        Yes. I’m middle manager and part of my job has become larger workflow issues like this. Lots of “so and so is busy but they’re doing things inefficiently and asking people the same questions repeatedly” or “we’re having calls for things that could be emails and emails that should be calls” or “someone on your team labels everything as high priority when it’s not” or “someone outsourced work that could be done internally”

        All this stuff needs a macro approach not just consistently telling people to “do your own work” since they think they are

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Can you set aside specific times to answer emails? Maybe an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon, or whatever amount of time is right for your email load. Assuming these requests are not urgent, it may help to take the pressure off yourself to do focused, problem-solving work and send “check the TPS report instructions on the Y drive” messages.

      When it is email-processing time, send off the quick “follow these instructions emails” and sort the actual problem emails into your to-do list.

      You might also consider a conversation with your boss to say “I spend X time per day answering emails about ‘problems’ when it turns out the sender just didn’t read the documentation.” You can also bring up your to-do list and work with your manager to prioritize which problems to tackle first, and be realistic about how many and how fast you can solve them.

      1. DisneyChannelThis*

        Was going to say basically the same thing. Make a subfolder, manually move or auto move them over so they’re not cluttering your inbox view, and then spend a certain time of day answering those emails.

        Also if you haven’t already take a hard look at your online documentation, is there any reason they are emailing you instead of using it? Do you have an index or other way to search it quickly, etc. Are you just faster to ask instead of searching? Can you make yourself slower lol so they will search.

        For new issues, consider making a ticketing system for yourself. I handle dataset requests, and each request goes into a google sheet with all the details. Then I have a couple columns where I keep track of what’s been done. Easy to sort quickly and see ok that’s 2 weeks old or George has had 27 requests compared to everyone else having one or two maybe we need a better system for George or just teach him to get his own datasets so he’s not constantly waiting on me.

    3. JustAnotherEmailMarketer*

      Caveat that i’m not 100% sure whether this is technologically possible with inbox rules but could you set an autoreply for these types of questions that has links to your directions/resources that you’ve already put together?

      Something like, “Hi, thanks so much for your email. I will respond as soon as I am able. In the meantime, you may be able to find the answer to your question in Resource 1, Resource 2, Resource 3.”

      Some workplaces / roles would be chill about them, some may not so ignore this if it wouldn’t work for your company!

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        Cautiously seconding, if you can filter this properly. Otherwise, it would generate too much extra email.

        An alternative is to create this as a signature, manually put it in for those that it applies to, then (borrowing from upthread suggestion) shove those emails into a subfolder to work on at a dedicated, limited time of your day.

  73. Anonforthis*

    My spouse immigrated to the US about two months ago and is rather urgently looking for jobs in a field she’s eminently qualified for (admin assistant, ideally in a university). She fills all of the basic and “extra” requirements for all of these jobs, has a boatload of charisma, and keeps getting initial, semifinal, and even a few finalist interviews…and then radio silence. Does anyone happen to have any ideas about what could be happening or strategies for how to get past this last hurdle? The financial pressure is very high, and it feels terrible to not know what she could improve (because she hasn’t even been formally rejected by any of the jobs she’s had semifinalist or finalist interviews for, and the ones that happened long enough ago to contact them aren’t responding to her emails, she hasn’t even been able to see if they can provide feedback).

    Side question: is it normal for a job to send benefits package info and require a (paid) notary stamp on a police check without first offering the job? This happened with one of the positions and it really threw us. (I’m a PhD candidate and have essentially no experience with looking for a job outside of academia, so I just don’t know.) Thanks!

    1. m2*

      I don’t know about the side question (sounds weird to me), but I believe higher ed can take a long time to hire. I have friends who work in higher ed and the hiring process can take months. I know someone and the role was posted in November and the person started in March, granted this was a middle- management job. That seems like a long time for an admin. assistant, but I still think hiring can be slow, especially during end/beginning of year/ semester.

      Do the universities she is applying hire temps? Sometimes temps apply to the full-time role and either way it gives your spouse experience and a network within the university.

      You say the financial pressure is high, is there a way for her to get a part time job while she interviews, temping or working at a store part-time?

      I also would only have her follow up with these roles if she has interviewed and has not heard from them in a couple weeks. Don’t send tons of emails or calls as that won’t go over well.

    2. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

      Higher ed is … all over the place right now. There’s so much that could be going on! It could be the funding for the position has fallen through, so they won’t hire anyone. Even with getting to the finalist stage, there could be a LOT of competition (including some internal candidates). Also, the negotiation and hiring process can take awhile, so it could be that the unit wants to keep her as an option in case their first choice falls through, but when the first choice accepts and clears the background check and is finally onboarded, they forget to follow up with their other candidates.
      I can’t offer any suggestions other than to keep applying! I know that doesn’t sound especially helpful, though.
      As to your side note – I’ve never heard of this!

    3. Citra*

      Seconding m2–get her to a temp agency, asap! (And of course, ask around at your school, maybe somebody knows of something there?) At least it will help take some of the pressure off financially, and will give her some US work history as well as filling her time/possibly making her a more attractive job candidate overall.

  74. Justin*

    Folllowing up on last week’s major professional success, I’m getting an intern this summer (and then a FTE in the fall).

    It’s kind of late to find interns but I have some leads. My main question is, it’s not just a job, it’s supposed to be a learning experience. So, what are some of the most valuable things you learned at internships?

    (Paid, paid, we don’t do unpaid, don’t worry.)

    1. ferrina*

      I never did an internship, but I help coordinate my company’s intern program (I’m aware of the irony). One thing that we do is an individual project. They get to spend about 20% of their time designing and creating their own project, with mentorship from more experienced people in the field. (Note: this is not for a client, it’s purely their own design). When they’ve created it, they get to do an internal presentation to part of the company, the same way that they would if they had actually created the work for a client. They love the experience, and they get to use the final product as a portfolio or sample work (since it wasn’t for a client, and I monitor their work to make sure it doesn’t have any proprietary things in the final result)

    2. EngineerResearcher*

      For my undergrad internship the most important things I can think of were 1) exposure to the field/everyday working conditions, 2) a research project I could later use for conference presentations and 3), networking/being able to build a reference list. This was a lab based research internship, so I know that not all internships will have the same project availability for a student to be able to continue to talk about it, but it was super vital in building my portfolio/background in the field.

    3. Somewhere in Texas*

      We are about to rotate out a current intern and welcome a new one, and I’ve been thinking about this a lot. Here are some general ideas:
      – Create opportunities for them to interact and learn from different people in your office. This could be informal lunches or helping on different projects. The main idea is to let them be exposed to different people, jobs, and projects so they learn more AND have potential career paths. There may be positions they’ve never considered that you expose them to.
      – Make sure you address professional norms; such as appropriate attire, prioritizing workload, communication, etc. You are training the next generation of employees and not everyone learns these soft skills.
      – If this intern is good, think about what could help them succeed in their career. Talking with a recruiter/HR to hone their resume. Building out their LinkedIn profile. Attending trainings or conferences. Even if you don’t know that intern will work for your company, this sets them up to be successful and link that back to your organization.

    4. Emily Elizabeth*

      I interned at a children’s therapy facility in college, so not sure if this applies across all fields, but having brief intros and then debriefs with the therapists I shadowed was so valuable, and I imagine the same might be helpful for meetings, projects, etc in other fields. Even brief things like, “heard this from parent about their week, going to start with XYZ strategy today” helped demystify decision making, strategies, priorities, etc. And then reflecting it back on me: “How did you think that session went?” And being able in the moment to then affirm or challenge my perceptions with more experienced eyes.

  75. Becky*

    Just kind of shouting into the void…

    I’ve been hunting for what is essentially my dream job for almost a year, after unexpectedly getting an interview for one of those roles that ended up not planning out. I had to take a new role abruptly last year that isn’t quite what I want, and I’m struggling in it emotionally and, somewhat, the content of the work. I just feel so close to what I really want for my career, and at the same time, so far away.

    I know I’m being picky. I know my current situation is something other people are dreaming of and praying for. But I can’t shake the feeling that I’m so close to something I didn’t even know was possible for me, but it’s just out of reach.

    No question, no advice needed. Just needed to verbalize it to other people who might understand.

    1. Somewhere in Texas*

      Been there and sending the best vibes your way. May your unicorn job come your way soon.

  76. Vicarious Trauma?*

    Hey, anyone else working in a vicarious trauma-filled profession: how do you deal? How do you let go? How do you recover from burnout?

    1. Lily Rowan*

      Honestly, I left and went somewhere much lower-key. It was not for me.

      I guess that means I was in a vicarious trauma-filled organization, but my profession could (and did) travel.

      1. The Real Fran Fine*

        Same. I changed fields and never looked back. However, while I was job searching, I made sure to take as much vacation time as possible and fully disconnected from work doing things I loved (traveling, shopping, etc.). This helped keep me from severe burnout.

    2. SereneScientist*

      I can’t speak for myself, but my wife is a clinical psychologist and works predominantly with queer populations, and we are queer ourselves. For her, it came down to two big things:

      1. Mental compartmentalization. While she obviously cares deeply about her clients, at the end of the day, for her to perform the work as well as she can for each person–she needs to be able to step back from it. I can’t speak to the specifics of “how” she does this internally, but she has a strong support network of other clinicians and friends who are familiar with the demands of this work.

      2. She changed her work environment. One of the more difficult elements in any field that serves communities with high levels of trauma (often from systemic issues) is that the work and workplaces themselves can be trauma-inducing. I learned from my wife’s career path that many community mental health facilities are primarily staffed by unpaid graduate student workers, working with under-served and under-resourced . My wife opted to leave community work in favor of private practice because she burned out after four years and needed something more sustainable. Those types of services are so important and valuable, but they ask a lot in terms of investment, mental fortitude, and stamina from people doing the work.

      1. Vicarious Trauma?*

        Thank you, SereneScientist. I definitely feel like I have the compartmentalization part down, but what you’re saying about switching environments resonates with me. I’m working to get out of my current company and specialization, so hearing how that helped your wife is encouragement to leave.

        Part of what’s hard is I’m visibly queer in a front facing position, and have limited options for dealing with queerphobic community members. Changing to a different environment sounds like the thing to do. Thank you.

    3. epizeugma*

      Have you read the book Trauma Stewardship? It’s one of the books that gets recommended most often for this subject.

      I found that my burnout was exacerbated by vicarious trauma but was primarily caused by the things that cause burnout in any profession—lack of control over my job, being in a chronically under-resourced department, feeling that my feedback was not heard by leadership, etc. I moved into a new role at a different org where I still work with populations that are experiencing trauma, but are usually not in acute crisis while accessing services at my org, and that helped, but the biggest help was just being at an org that was able and willing to support me more.

      1. Vicarious Trauma?*

        I have not, this is the first time I’m hearing of it! I’ve now got it on hold at the library, thank you.

        I’ve repeatedly tried to give feedback to my current org about the ways in which their practices and policies cause burnout, but I’ve repeated gotten “yeah but it ain’t gonna change, byeeeee” responses.

        How do you survive in the meantime?

    4. Jinni*

      I had to switch sub-specialities. (Before quitting altogether). My mentors went drinking every night after work in a bar full of similar professionals. I really didn’t want that to be my future.

  77. Ssssssssssssssssssssss*

    “Productivity at work is part of colonialism.”


    I recently learned this notion, though not quite framed that way, and found a few articles about it. And I don’t dispute that western notions of productivity, when imposed on other countries/cultures can be harmful. And saying “No” more and creating boundaries around home and work life is a great idea.

    But there are times when deadlines do matter.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      It’s certainly part of capitalism. Deadlines certainly matter – they mattered when we were harvesting crops by hand and needed to store up for the winter, they matter when we’re passing legislation, they matter in many cases.

      However, even the word deadline comes from the American civil war – it was a line you would get shot if you crossed it. I know language evolves, but are the TPS reports that serious? Probably not.

      And the western attitudes about work in general, especially in the more capitalistic nations (not just America but especially America) are pretty toxic. So…yeah I’d agree it’s a discussion we should be having.

      1. Justin*

        Sadly, it ain’t that great in the East (see: Japan, Korea) either. As Bong Joon-Ho said, we all live in the same country, and that country is capitalism.

        (and racism, and other ‘isms)

    2. ferrina*

      That’s silly. Corporate metrics of productivity- yep, certainly. Productivity by itself? Nope. Milenia before colonization, farmers were productively farming, fishers were productively fishing, shepherds were productively shepherding, hunters were productively hunting, weavers were productively weaving….you get the point.

      The issue is when we apply blanket statements without considering context (both of how the statement developed and how practical the application will play out in the new setting). This is true of any cultural value. At its heart, productivity of the working class is a key driver of capitalism. So if we value capitalism, we value the productivity of the worker. This is not to say we value the worker- and often we don’t. But we value what the worker contributes to key productivity metrics that allow capitalism to thrive. The worker is a means to an end, and even productivity is a means to an end (the end being that capitalism thrives). This can become a parasitic cycle- capitalism requires evermore productivity to grow, it needs more workers, more markets. Capitalism feeds on colonialism, and colonialism is justified by capitalism.

      Er……thanks for coming to my TED talk.

      1. Justin*

        Exactly. It’s all related to these systems because everything is, but no, you had to do your hunting at certain times, your farming at certain times, etc. This utopianization of pre-capitalism is really myopic, even as bad as capitalism is.

      2. Hlao-roo*

        Milenia before colonization, farmers were productively farming, fishers were productively fishing, etc.

        I did read an interesting article once (don’t remember the name) that compared the effort required to grow rice in China and the effort required to gather the fruit (or nut) of a particular tree in part of Africa. Rice growing: lots of work for much of the year, to build the paddy, plant the rice, flood the paddy, drain the paddy, harvest the rice. Fruit/nut gathering: only takes a few hours every day to gather enough to meet your caloric needs.

        The article discussed how as a result, the rice-growing parts of China culturally value working long, hard hours. And the fruit/nut gathering parts of Africa culturally value community events (along the lines of dances, story-telling, other non-work things) because traditionally the “productive work” they did was very little of their day.

        Yes, before colonization, farmers were productively farming, gatherers were productively gathering, but different cultures had valued productivity differently and colonization was not understanding or respectful of those differences.

    3. Justin*

      I think people take this too far. Nonsense deadlines and butts in seats, yes. Literally getting things done doesn’t really have anything to do with oppression, aside from the fact that people can oppress you in doing so/demanding it.

      I’m a whole EdD with a dissertation about racism and so forth. And this is honestly just an excuse not to do things when we use it in such a blanket way.

    4. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I think there’s also the issue of how people perceive time and punctuality, which is certainly cultural, that gets conflated with ‘productivity’.

      And of course it varies widely even within western cultures, so the whole argument just looks silly then.

    5. RagingADHD*

      I didn’t realize anyone of substance was actually saying this sincerely. I thought it was a meme, used either as deliberate hyperbole to push the discussion forward, or as a strawman by anti-woke scaremongers.

    6. Ormond Sackler*

      This is clearly insane, and part of the trend where people say “[Something universally acknowledged as good] is actually colonialism/racism/sexism (based on some extremely tenuous connection no one would take seriously)”. Clearly people were productive before colonialism, and lots of people who do not come from colonial backgrounds are insanely productive.

      1. ferrina*

        Sort of agree (100% on that last sentence!), but adding a bit more nuance-

        Depending on how productivity is defined, it’s 1) Not universally defined as inherently good- plenty of cultures/individuals see productivity as neutral (for a simplistic example, planting crops isn’t ‘good’, it’s ‘necessary’) and 2) can be part of a cultural colonialism (for example, the Puritanical work ethic can be simplified as ‘the more you work, the more moral you are, and I get to define what work is’…which was also used by ‘moralists’ to promote slavery as “black people are inherently lazy and it is our duty to ensure that they work”)

        Productivity plays into everyday life so deeply that different views and values of productivity have impacted colonialism, racism, and sexism (see: the undervalued work of caretaking and the impact on women- how does one measure productivity in caretaking? There are plenty of ways to measure productivity in caretaking, but it’s often not included in the mainstream cultural conciousness, or it’s shrugged off as “impossible to measure” even as we speak with awe about overly complex crypto blockchains). So “productivity” as a concept has been shaped by culture, and in turn, can shape the things that culture touches (both individuals and systems within the culture, and the individuals and systems outside the culture).

        And yes, I was an sociology major, defining and describing social systems is my day job, and yes, I’m not exactly a barrel of laughs at dinner parties.

        1. Anon Islander*

          100% agree on this, especially that productivity isn’t a universal good. As a Black woman from a Caribbean island, I’ve definitely seen how productivity can be weaponized in terms race, neocolonialism, etc. This often results in certain cultural differences (especially a higher emphasis being placed on family life, work life balance, etc) being interpreted by outsiders as the locals are lazy, don’t want to work, etc.

          While I don’t agree that productivity in and of itself is colonization, the way that “productive” is defined and what forms of productivity are valued certainly can be.

    7. SereneScientist*

      This is an interesting take, but ultimately misses the point a bit in my opinion.

      One of the issues we run into when we try to broaden the process by which we examine social problems is the inevitable but pointless search for some Universal Evil Thing that’s at the root of it all…and it never is that simple. The expansion to the above statement would probably look something like:

      “Productivity is a social and economic expectation under capitalism that applies pressure differentially depending on your race, ethnicity, socioeconomic background and more. Colonialism shares extractative precepts with capitalism, and the exploitation of global regions determined to be “less developed” than Europe.”

      Even that statement is too general to talk about the specificity of how colonialism has influenced the 21st Century. These types of theoretical frameworks don’t offer a ton in terms of:
      1. Personal decisions and day-to-day living
      2. Doing things differently at different levels of society

      But I would say for anyone interested in understanding the sociological and anthropological underpinnings of Work Today? Start with The Protestant Ethic and Spirit of Capitalism by Max Weber. There are very deep historical roots to this Western notion of work as identity and morality. Keep in mind, that does not adequately address the harsh working cultures elsewhere in the world, but it’s a good start.

    8. Irish Teacher*

      Hmm, I’m from a country where independence and anti-colonialism were very closely linked to the Labour movement, workers’ rights, tenants’ rights, etc and yet…I’d be inclined to disagree.

      I do think there are close links between capitalism and colonialism, in the sense that countries that were colonised are often economically dependent on and arguably often exploited by the countries that previously colonised them and yeah, I do think it’s possible that how we define productivity may be Western-centred and that there may be issues there (I don’t really know enough about the working styles in non-Western countries to say for sure, but it seems likely).

      The Irish socialist and independence fighter said something about how if we “raise the green flag over Ireland” but fail to create a more socialist society, England would still rule us, because of the economic imbalance between the two countries and I think that is true about relationships between former imperial powers and their former colonies in general. (Arguably less true for Ireland since Brexit.)

      However, I think it’s overly-simplistic to say that productivity at work is part of colonialism. To say productivity when working for somebody else is part of capitalism, yeah, I could get on board with that and I guess if you are living in a country that was colonised and is still really poor and are working in a sweatshop for long hours at minimal pay with goods being shipped to the former imperial power, then yeah, that is definitely part of colonialism.

      But I’m not sure you can apply it across the board.

  78. Befuddled by ATS*

    What is the best practice for listing relevant certifications in online job applications?

    They are listed on my resume, but most applicant sites I have seen (usually WorkDay platform) do not have a place for certifications/skills – or if they do it is a limited pre-curated subset you can choose from which do not include the ones they specifically ask for in the job posting.

    For example, if you are a certified llama groomer and they ask for a certified llama groomer in the job posting – do you list that in the job description for your most recent job? In the description for the job where you obtained the certification? In every job while you had it?

    I have a board-certified specialization that very few in my field have (legal, US) and wonder if my application is being screened out before a human sees the uploaded resume.

    How are others handling these types of things? It is not really a descriptor of a current role, especially if it was obtained in a prior role (but still maintained and valid now).

    Thanks for any tips/insights! Last I applied for jobs, we used bonded resume paper, bonded envelopes, and stamps…navigating these ATS’s is challenging!

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Could they go into the education portion of the ATS? I don’t have relevant certifications, so I’m just guessing.

      Otherwise, I would keep it in the resume as part of an “Education and Certifications” section.

  79. Oscar OP*

    Hi AAM community! I’m the Oscar OP, I don’t know if you remember me. This is Alison-approved, and I wanted to share that the documentary I’ve been working on was accepted into DocPitch, competing for valuable production funds. I’d be so grateful if you could check out our pitch video and consider voting for us!

    Also you can learn more about my film at and subscribe for film updates. I’m grateful for any community support and amplification. Thank you all!

      1. Oscar OP*

        Thank you Alison <3 I just reread and am still laughing at his nerve.

        Now I'm competing against ACTUAL Oscar and Emmy nominated filmmakers!

      1. Oscar OP*