open thread – April 7-8, 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.

{ 739 comments… read them below }

  1. Sloanicota*

    I’m experiencing a familiar problem with tiny nonprofits: how are others managing to get the mail and deposit checks in a timely manner? The checks come to a PO box. This was enough of an issue at my last job when we were in an office, but my current job is fully remote so it’s a lot worse. It has zero to do with my role (imagine I’m the comms person), but as the person who lives closest to the box it has become my task to go check the mail at least every week and deal with whatever is in it. This is a terrible role for me, because I’m terrified I’ll lose a valuable check, and meanwhile junk mail that I don’t know what to do with piles up in my house/car. Our current incredibly stupid system is that I sort and then physically mail the important stuff to our office admin, who is part time and lives in another city. I’m terrified they’ll soon decide I should be trained to deposit the checks too – can’t emphasize enough that this has nothing to do with my role, isn’t really a respected task in the org or something that will lead to valued accomplishment for me, and isn’t something I’m well suited to do as a disorganized person. What alternative might I suggest?

    1. Just Another Boss*

      Why doesn’t the company open a PO Box near the office admin? They can even keep the current PO Box open, and have the main forwarded to a PO Box near the admin (or even her house, if they’re using the forwarding method). This is what my company does with our mail and it’s nearly seemless. PO Boxes aren’t usually all that expensive, so it shouldn’t be a huge burden on cost and it might even save whatever cost is currently going towards manually mailing things to her.

      1. New Mom*

        This makes sense to me too, if this is something that the Admin needs to do then they should either hire an admin close by or move the PO Box near the current admin. I’m trying to channel Alison here, but what if something happens that prevents you from being able to do it? Like long term car trouble? Or you decide to forgo having a car?
        “Sorry [boss] but I’ve decided to downsize to just using a bike moving forward so I no longer will be able to support with this after [date]” or whatever story you want to make up that prevents you from doing this.

        This gave me flashbacks of this crummy job I had in college, where I was a student ambassador for a student travel company, and they would mail these HUGE boxes of flyers to me and the other rep, literally too many for how small 0ur college was, and we were supposed to “pass them out”. We tried explaining the population of our college, and that they were sending too much but they refused to adjust the amount. Me and the other rep were basically being paid to litter (because who wants flyers with random information they can just find online?) and then we would have to throw away about 2/3s 3/4s of the box because it was too much.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Talk to your boss. Maybe they can change the address to be a PO box nearer the other people. Maybe boss or admin can make a trip to box instead. Mention that you are worried about accountability with the checks. Mention that they should have a plan in place for if you move/get injured/quit anyway.

    3. Hermione*

      Can you cite other work priorities and/or transportation issues, and ask to have this shifted off of you, since it’s out of your scope anyway?

      They could maybe instead just have the mail automatically forwarded to the admin’s address; I think USPS does this for a fee. Or maybe you could suggest that the PO Box be moved to the admin’s home town, with the USPS forwarding temporary?

      1. Sloanicota*

        I’m sure they don’t want to permanently switch the mailing address because the admin has been making noises about leaving for months and for a nonprofit org changing addresses is a big deal – but I can definitely ask them about forwarding. That’s probably a better solution anyway. This current system is for the birds.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Yeah, if all you do is sort the mail and forward it, they can put a forwarding order to the admin and have her do the sorting too.

          1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

            Exactly, it’s much more efficient for USPS to forward the mail to the admin than the OP to forward the mail to the admin. Less expensive, less chance of losing something, and takes less time.

    4. new year, new name*

      I don’t have any advice, but just want to commiserate. I’m in a leadership role for a small community nonprofit that is 100% volunteer run. Luckily we’re all local and have several trusted members who live close to the post office and can cover for each other if someone is out of town, but processing the mail still involves a complicated system of bringing different things to different places. Really the only thing that is making a big difference is moving to more electronic systems vs. processes that require paper checks and physical mail!

      1. Sloanicota*

        Do you have a banking app that you use to deposit the checks? This is one option I might bring up, although I’ll probably be annoyed at having to put a work app on my personal phone (I don’t even do my own banking by phone). In my old job, there was a lot of accounting stuff around the checks, like scanning and making copies of all the documentation, for our audit, so this also became a whole task – however it’s possible my old job was a bit overboard on that stuff.

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

          But then the OP would be in charge of the checks, which is not their job. It’s just replacing one task (picking up mail) with another (digitally cashing checks). THen they would also have the responsibility of disposing of the checks. They also have to be endorsed by someone, even if they are being digitally deposited. The OP would have to be added as an authorized person to do that.

          Honestly, this is a really bad setup. Why isn’t the director or whoever is in charge of checks getting the mail?

        2. new year, new name*

          I think our treasurer does have mobile deposit now! But the way we do it, the mailbox person gets the checks and brings them to the treasurer, who deposits them and does whatever recordkeeping needs to happen. This just entails some driving around, though, rather than re-mailing anything.

      2. katertot*

        Look into virtual mailboxes— some offer check deposits. We had the exact same issue at my last nonprofit development job, especially as we quickly pivoted our systems in the pandemic (and I was the unfortunate one who had to pick up all our mail at the PO Box.) The DD used a virtual mailbox service at her former job, and said it was the best solution. We didn’t get one set up, I forget the exact reason, but that whole place was a shitshow so who knows.

    5. vv*

      Is switching the PO Box to a different city an option? Maybe not the admin if they are part time, but can you suggest it goes to someone in fundraising or accounting? The current process sounds to me like it may fall under scrutiny if your org deals with auditors. (Granted this was well before Covid, but when handled checks daily in fundraising we were very strict about it – only development staff checked the mail, it had to be opened with one other person present, and was kept in a locked safe until it was physically passed off to our accountant.)

      I would try to highlight to your boss/whomever appropriate that there are too many opportunities for both human error and mailing error (given you have to re-send the mail to the admin) for this to be sustainable for you and everyone involved, and for organizational credibility. This should be true for checks of any amount, but particularly if you have to handle high value ones.

    6. Anastia Beaverhousen*

      Trained to deposit checks? I would think that this is a matter of noting what is being deposited on a form. Junk mail you can toss out or recycle it. Everything else should be forwarded to accounting.

    7. HonorBox*

      Forget losing or misplacing a check. The timing of this system is awful. Even forgetting the idea that you might not go consistently the same day each week, there’s going to be a large gap in time from when a piece is received to when you pick it up. And then you’re forwarding it. Some sort of important deadline is going to be missed because of the second mailing. How many of us have had mail delayed in the past couple of years just getting from point A to point B? Now you’re going from B to C? I’d highly suggest a PO Box nearer to the admin. And if they push back and try to get you to deposit checks, I’d do my best to highlight what else you’d not be doing when you’re depositing those checks. Your time is valuable…show them that.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yeah, the org is really only concerned about checks, but there’s presumably at least some other things in the mail that are important and now this is all kind of “my job” to screen / vet / alert others about, none of which I’m super comfortable with.

        1. Rosemary*

          We recently had an issue with our health insurance…something was mailed via snail mail, no other contact was made about it, and we almost lost our coverage. So there definitely can be important things in the mail besides checks (much to my displeasure because I truly hate mail and am terrible about checking even my own personal mail…would NOT be happy if I had to check work mail too)

        2. Event coordinator?*

          There’s been research about how fast gift receipts should get to donors and the gist of it is donors are much less lively to give again if they have to wait more than a week for their gift receipt. Your boss might not care about your hardship, but they will really care if all this lollygaging is costing the nonprofit donors.

        3. cabbagepants*

          At the minimum your org should sign up for USPS Informed Delivery. They email you scanned images of all your mail, every day, for free.

        4. GiantKitty*

          I wouldn’t even bother sorting it- I’d send everything including junk mail to the admin whose actual job it is to do that.

    8. Forkeater*

      I am treasurer of a tiny volunteer organization and we pay a bookkeeping service to go our mailbox and deposit checks. Then we have a separate accounting firm reconciling these deposits, and then myself as well. So there’s a lot of oversight to make sure nothing goes astray, either accidentally or otherwise.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Oh this is interesting. I am concerned that the admin is about to quit and we will switch to paying a bookkeeping service instead (this may in fact be a great solution for us, the admin was always kind of screwy anyway and I know they’re not paying a very competitive wage for a FT role) – when I asked my boss if the service would handle the checks, she seemed dubious that was an option (which is why I’m concerned I’m going to get stepped up to depositing the checks next). Maybe I’ll look into this option and present it as something that is a best practice. What we do at the moment seems like a terrible practice to me. Nobody would know if I was stealing the checks or if they got lost en route or what.

        1. Gemstones*

          If someone other than the intended recipient was cashing the checks, they’d figure it out pretty quickly…

          1. Sloanicota*

            True, I guess, if they know about it. Maybe I’m paranoid but I can also just imagine a scenario where I mail the checks but they don’t arrive and now I’m the last person with hands on the checks so suddenly I look bad …

        2. Rosemary*

          This really seems like the best option, not just for you but for the organization. Presumably the bookkeeping service has multiple people on staff, in the area, so someone would always be available to get the checks and make the deposits. So there would no longer be the worry of what if the person getting the mail quits, or goes on vacation, or whatever.

    9. Not A Manager*

      Pick up a bunch of usps flat rate boxes. Print out a bunch of postage/address labels. When you pick up the mail, put EVERYTHING, without any sorting at all, into a box and send it to the admin. Do this every week regardless of what’s in the PO box.

    10. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Since it’s not part of your role, I think you can suggest to the org that — as a courtesy, since you’re closest to the box — you are willing make a once per week appointment for yourself to go to the box, drop all the mail into a Tyvek envelope, and send it all to the admin for sorting and handling.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yes I would love to do this at least (still seems like terrible accounting practice to me, but that’s not really my job). Sorting the mail is weirdly stressful to me. I have no idea what any of it is and what’s important, and in theory, I’m there to find checks, I guess on the assumption that the other stuff can probably wait for the admin.

        1. Been There Done That*

          this doesn’t answer your question, but is something to think about. And before I make this statement, I do know that many, many nonprofits don’t have adequate staff to enact this policy, but best practicies is that the person who opens the mail is not the person who makes the deposits and someone else does the reconciling of the bank account. This is to give the organization a system of checks and balances. This might be a point you bring up to one of the higher ups if you feel comfortable doing that.

    11. Jennifer*

      Forwarding mail from the PO Box to the admin is possible but adds a not-small amount of time and risks things being missed. How about suggesting a courier pick up mail once a week and deliver it (or mail it if they’ll do it) to the admin? We use a courier to pick up mail daily and bring it to our office that is pretty close to the post office and they charge $15/day. It is inexpensive because they pick up mail for so many customers every morning then just make the rounds delivering it. I know you are a non-profit, but a once a week service to ensure mail makes it to the admin in a timely manner may be an expense worth taking on.

    12. Somehow_I_Manage*

      Ultimately it is up to the organization to define your role, and up to you to give feedback and react. In small businesses, everyone wears a lot of hats- that’s just the nature of the beast. At the end of the day, somebody needs to do this stuff for the business to run. We all have to do things we’d prefer not to for our jobs. Assuming you have time and resources to support this, it is reasonable for them to request it.

      You’re welcome to ask if they can arrange an alternative. Maybe they say yes, and bring on an admin or accountant to lead this. But if they say no and you want to continue at this organization, you simply need to treat this like part of your job and assert control over the process (set up a structure that works for you). If that doesn’t work for your career goals…time to find a new job.

      1. Somehow_I_Manage*

        /Re-reading this, I apologize for the bluntness. I’m on your side! You should always ask for what you want.

        If for some reason they insist you take this on- and you intend to stay, I really think the best way is to take charge of it and manage it on your terms. Set up a structure that works for your schedule, outline your expectations and needs from others, limitations of yourself, and communicate those terms that to all involved. Then, you can move forward with less stress.

    13. Lifelong student*

      Don’t know the cost or how many checks you receive- but banks offer a service called something like “lock box”. Payments are received by the bank and credited to your account. That is what many businesses do. Now this does not cover what should be done with other mail- but that should be directed to an appropriate person. From a fiscal responsibility and fraud risk viewpoint, the current procedure is ripe for problems. If your organization is audited, you could ask the accounting firm for some suggestions. Deposits should never be made without being entered in the books. Also look into having payments made electronically and insure that there are restrictions on how that is done.

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*

        I was just coming here to say this! This is a very common was I see clients handle paper deposits (I work for an accounting firm). You will have to train your customers to send to the new address but that’s doable.

      2. Cyndi*

        As someone who works in bank lockboxes, I third this suggestion! It sounds like a huge big business thing but we handle payments on all kinds of scales, from tithing at neighborhood churches up to major city utility bills. And we’re held to all the same confidentiality requirements (eg HIPAA) as the client, if the extra pairs of eyes would be a concern.

        1. anonymous security person*

          This is a huge security risk, too. What if you get a po box near the admin and then they quit? Some mail will likely get lost in the transition. I have a personal PO Box, mostly for use as a return address. I occasionally get mail for a previous person who had it. I always write return to sender and put it back in the mailbox, but I suspect most other po box holders are not that conscientious. I also suspect they maybe haven’t changed the combination. I’m not using it for anything financial or high risk, but I’d be nervous if I was receiving checks there and would ask to have the combination changed.

          1. Cyndi*

            I’m sorry, was mine the comment you meant to reply to? You’re right, same as Princess Xena, that there’s some inherent mess in changing your mailing address. But with a wholesale lockbox, the PO box belongs to the bank (or business services company, like my current job) and all mail comes directly to us, where we open it, sort, scan, and process payments to the bank. The location of the client organization or its employees has no bearing at all, and we have procedures in place for handling mail that’s been misdirected in any of the ways you suggest.

              1. anonymous security person*

                Mine is a regular USPS box, the bank ones sound like a good option, haven’t heard of those before now, too.

        2. Retired Accountant*

          Yes, a bank lockbox would be ideal. I was getting panic attacky reading through this thread. Lockboxes address internal control issues that exist when employees open remittances and deposit checks, and the money gets in the bank faster. It’s really a good choice.

    14. Llama Llama*

      Granted I work for a giant corporation but we have a designated boxes where it is essentially mailed to the bank and automatically deposited. it scans any info that went with it and we have daily reports of those deposits.

    15. WestsideStory*

      The nonprofit I work with has an all volunteer staff, big one of the board positions is “corresponding secretary.” It is THIS persons job to collect the mail and route it to the right person – checks go to the treasurer, grant info goes to the fundraising chairs, serious matters to the board President. You absolutely not should be handling financial material in any way beyond handing it over to the financial team. You should absolutely not be doing any banking!! Who is in charge of finance in your organization? You should be shipping all financial materials to them – ask them if they want it sent express/priority mail (US) if they do not want to come get it in person. Should anyone ask you do to banking, decline. Nonprofit Boards have a fiduciary responsibility to their organizations. This is not your job. Period.

      1. Scandinavian Vacationer*

        Also I was told that the USPS has an option called Informed Delivery. They sent photos of the delivered mail. I will plunk in a link next. Then there would be another person with an electronic list of expected mail, when/however it ultimately gets delivered physically (for addtl accounting control.)

    16. CatMintCat*

      I have always tried very hard to avoid jobs (either volunteer or paid) that involve handling other people’s money. Not because I’d be defrauding people left and right, but because I am disorganised and KNOW I would make an expensive (to me and/or the organisation) mistake at some point. This job sounds like every nightmare I ever had come true.

      I hope you can get out of it somehow.

  2. FriYay!*

    I was offered a job this week that would be a 13% pay cut but offers much better benefits. I would go from 10 pto days to 35, seasonal closure at the end of the year, 10% 401k match, advancement opportunities, and a better work environment. I’m torn because the benefits are great but 13% is a big cut. Obviously I’ll negotiate but I don’t think I’ll get the salary up that much. What would you do?

    1. Sloanicota*

      Some of those benefits have a quantifiable value in cash – thinking of the 401K money and possibly insurance, which you didn’t mention. I would also give a lot for more PTO. When you assign them a value in dollars, how close are you?

      1. Relentlessly Socratic*

        Honestly, with the 10% 401K match and the PTO+seasonal EOY closure, I think you’d be coming out ahead!

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Similarly – I’m not a great math-er, so I might be a bit off here, but assuming a standard of 260 work days per year, 13% pay cut is equivalent to about 33 and change workdays. If you’re getting 25 extra PTO days a year (35 vs 10) at the lower salary, your pay cut comes out to more like 3%.

      3. rayray*

        This is my exact though too. Also, how much does each company pay for health and dental insurance? If they paid more than your last company, it might bump your take home pay.

      4. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

        The 35 PTO days might make up for the cut, provided you can actually take them.

        13% is not the worst, but you’d have to weigh whether or not the benefits make up for less cash in pocket. It really depends on your situation.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Also, under similar circumstances I found some reasonably “fun” ways to earn more money during my PTO (I freelance, but it’s something I like doing; something that could never support me full time) so the end of year closure could be a time you find short time other work, if you like everything except the bottom line here.

    2. mreasy*

      If you can afford it, the pay cut could be worthwhile for the better environment alone. That plus the PTO would make the decision for me, and when you consider advancement opportunities it feels like a win win.. I just took a role with a 15% pay cut in order to join a company I feel more positive about and for a better work environment with more job security. I am mid-career, in my 40s, so I’m not as worried about this stunting future earnings.
      tl;dr: yes take it if you can afford it!

    3. OtterB*

      Can you tell what the cost of health insurance would be relative to what you have now? (If you’re in the US.) If, for example, the new job pays a higher percent of the insurance premium, that would counterbalance the pay cut. Are there other benefits that would save you money, e.g. a paid gym membership, professional society membership, etc.? It was something I took into consideration when I took my current job.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I would add the value of the 10% match and 5 weeks of pay to the salary and see how close it is, it’s obviously less than 13% if you take those extras into account. Or, conversely, if you could shell out 13% of your current pay for those added benefits, would you? It sounds like, using the first method, the pay difference would probably be negligible, so I’d probably consider it worth taking the new job for the intangible benefits (advancement, work environment).

    5. Two Dog Night*

      Personally, I’d take it if I could afford it, but you’ll need to figure out if you can manage with less cash. The PTO and 401(k) match have value–and for me the PTO would be enough by itself–but their value isn’t going to help you pay bills. If I were you I’d find out how much insurance costs–assuming you’re paying for it now–and do some serious budgeting to see if it will work.

      Good luck!

    6. HonorBox*

      While I’d agree with others that there is great value in both the PTO and the 401k match, I’d weigh heavily on the better environment and advancement opportunities. The 13% cut is something for sure, but if you have advancement opportunities, that gap is going to likely get made up, too. It would be greater if you could start those opportunities from salary that is even with where you are now, but when you consider everything together, I think you have more long-term benefits even with a short-term negative.

    7. JR*

      A jump from 10 to 35 PTO days would be worth a lot to me. But make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. A friend recently told me she has 30 PTO days, which sounded amazing compared to the 15 vacation days my organization offers. But then she said that these 30 days are in place of paid holidays, due to the nature of her work (my org offers 11) and sick time, unless you take more than 3 days off (my org offers 5). So by the way her organization counts, we currently offer 31.

        1. Gary Patterson's Cat*

          Good point! Is it 35 vacation days on top of federal holidays. Is sick time included in that PTO? Good to ask. Some companies lump it all together to trick you and make is sound good… when it’s not.

          I always wonder about these “unlimited PTO” companies. Do people really get to use it as they will? Like, can you really take a whole month off? I’m betting not.

          1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

            No, you can’t, in my experience and observation. My company distinguishes in the handbook between “schedule change” (say, taking every Friday off), “leave” (say, taking a month off), and what they actually mean by unlimited PTO. That said, my company is way better than most I’ve heard of about unlimited PTO: I think my boss takes off 6 weeks total a year and no one questions it, and I’ve been here long enough (>5 years) that he’s encouraging me to take a whole month off and saying that he thinks he can push the approval through upper management.

            The value of unlimited PTO to me is psychological: I never have to agonize over whether something is worth taking time off for, I never have to second-guess whether I’ll need the time more later, and I never have to resent something unpleasant that comes up and begrudge that the time off to deal with it is coming out of my “fun” time. Unlimited PTO also makes me feel much better about doing what matters to me, which is leaning hard on our flexible schedule day-to-day. I can take an afternoon off on impulse because it’s a nice day and I feel like getting out, without thinking, “But what I if I want to go to Europe later this year?” If I want to take a solid block of PTO off later this year to go to Europe, I’ll do that regardless of whether I took this afternoon off because we had a warm spell. It becomes not a zero-sum game.

            Unlimited PTO means peace of mind to me. Other people’s priorities and trade-offs are different.

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

      I was in a similar position several years ago. It wasn’t quite 13% but it was about $2 less/hour. However, the insurance at the new job was significantly less than my old job. It was so much less that I actually ended up taking home around the same amount I took home at old job. That includes the HSA and retirement contributions which my old job didn’t have.

      I would check what the insurance covers, deductibles, and other costs. If it is a higher deductible or you need a lot of prescriptions that might be an issue.

    9. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

      Based on what you describe, take the job. If higher pay is the only reason to stay, it’s not worth it. Years ago, I took a 17% pay cut just to get rid of a long commute. I never regretted it – one of the best choices I ever made. Chances are your pay will get back to your current level within a few years.

    10. Frank Doyle*

      I would take that in a heartbeat, because I value my own time way more than money. Especially if those advancement opportunities are legit, you’ll make that 13% back in a few years, probably, right?

      Just make sure you are able to actually take all of those PTO days! Seven weeks is a lot. Some people find that they have too much work to be able to be away as often as their PTO would otherwise allow.

    11. New Mom*

      I’m currently job hunting, and I will likely need to take a pay cut because I’m looking for really specific things around job flexibility and PTO. Here are my two cents:

      35 PTO is really good, and I work somewhere that closes three weeks a year (paid) and those weeks are so important. There is no awkwardness of asking for time off, or coming back to a pile of work since everyone else is off too.
      10% 401(k) is also really good for my industry. In nonprofits I usually see 3%-5%.
      Maybe worth asking how much insurance is covered? Is it 100% for you and family. Or if you already get insurance through a spouse, do they offer a stipend for opting out of insurance? I use my husbands insurance so I get an extra $3,000 annually for not using insurance through my employer.
      You can also ask what yearly raises, cost of living increases, and promotions look like because maybe the hit will only be for a year or two.
      I’d love to work for a company that offers some of those benefits! And work environment is so important, I’m currently in a golden handcuffs situation because my PTO is really, really good and I’m paid well for my industry but the environment is just so negative and draining that I don’t want to stay. Good luck!!

    12. Camellia*

      “…pto days to 35, seasonal closure at the end of the year…”

      Make sure that the increase in PTO is NOT because you have to use that in order to get paid for the seasonal closure.

      I had a friend whose company shut down for two weeks at the end of every year. It was unpaid closure. If they wanted to get paid for that time, they had to use their PTO.

    13. The one behind the sweater vest*

      If it helps, I took a 17% paycut when I took a government role, which sucks, but the stability after surviving two layoffs in a row was totally worth it.

      If you know the work environment will be better and you have all those days off, it sounds like you’re coming out far ahead.

    14. Prospect Gone Bad*

      That’s a really high 401K match! I am someone who’s been maxing my retirement accounts for a few years, and I would absolutely love that and that would actually make it possible to take a paycut.

      It also depends where you are starting and how high the taxes are. I found that once I got into the low six figures, my federal and state taxes (on top of SS, medicaid, etc) were getting so high that taking a paycut wouldn’t have a huge impact on my take-home anymore.

    15. Rosemary*

      I personally would do this in a heartbeat – and have considered asking my employer for more PTO in exchange for a lower salary – but I have the financial cushion to do so, and have decided that at this stage in my life my time off is more valuable. I think only you can decide what your priorities are, and what your budget can handle.

    16. Tulips*

      I took a 25% pay cut 8 years ago. Basically same vacation and number of holidays, similar sick policies. The health insurance was basically the same coverage, too.
      But between the new job’s pension vs old job’s 401k, plus the hundreds of dollars a pay I ended up saving due to how much new company contributed to my health insurance, I netted $3/pay less at new job.
      Worth it.
      My wine spending also went down thanks to new job, unfortunately that did not last. I apparently attract interesting people.

    17. Hiphopanonymous*

      I know you mentioned that you’ll obviously negotiate the offer, and I just wanted to propose some language. I was in a similar situation a couple of years ago, where I really wanted to leave my current company, and the great company I got an offer from came in ~8% lower than my then-current compensation. I e-mailed back with basically this language, and while they didn’t quite come up to my full ask, the final offer was ~3% lower and they added a sign-on bonus that would cover the first 2 years of pay differential.

      “Hi Recruiter, I’m incredibly excited to receive this offer! Thank you for all the time you’ve spent guiding me through this process.

      I think the benefits, PTO, etc. are all acceptable. However, I am making [offer + 8%] in total compensation in my current position. Is it possible to raise the salary to be in line with what I am currently making? Thank you for your time!”

      I know that Allison normally recommends not disclosing your current pay, but I think when you are trying to negotiate against a pay reduction there’s a powerful psychological piece to letting the recruiter/hiring manager know that you’d be looking at a pay cut. It makes it very easy to justify an offer increase on the hiring side, since another company already thinks you are worth more!

  3. ThatGirl*

    This might be a really easy, basic question but…

    I currently have a (free) Wix site for my portfolio and to point people to for professional reasons. I’m a copywriter and I work closely with designers, so my portfolio consists of things like webpage captures, print and digital ads, a lot of PDFs and jpgs in other words. On my current Wix site, I have links that open the files in new windows, but there are no thumbnails.

    My question: is there an easy way to make my files have small thumbnails instead of text links? Do I need a different wix layout, a paid version, some other portfolio site altogether?

    1. Morgan Proctor*

      Yes of course, but this is a difficult question to answer in this format. I honestly think you should ditch Wix altogether. I’m a writer too. Wix is just kind of unprofessional. I think you should buy a URL if you haven’t already, and switch to WordPress, which offers a TON of options for portfolio websites.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I am not a freelancer (with very limited exceptions); I just need something to point people to when they’re looking for a portfolio.

        I know I sound whiny and resistant to change, and to be honest I kind of am, but I don’t see what’s unprofessional about Wix; it works well enough and changing this isn’t a major priority for me. I just wanted to know if what I’m looking for is an easy change or not, but it sounds like it may not be.

        1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

          I had the same reaction — Wix is fine! As long as it’s a paid version without the ad footer. In my experience (speaking as a designer) it’s a whole easier to get a professional-looking portfolio site up and running quickly on Wix than WP. WP has great options and i really appreciate that you own it and don’t have to pay a subscription but I found it took a lot of code monkeying to modify WP templates to suit my needs and look as polished.

    2. Lady Alys*

      The Gallery feature seems to have options for a grid of images that can be hyperlinked – is that a paid-account-only feature (I maintain a paid account site so I’m not sure what is and isn’t included)?

    3. Ama*

      With the caveat that I don’t have a Wix site but have built sites in other systems, could you just manually make thumbnails and put them next to the links? For most pdfs you can open them a page at a time in a photo editor and then save that page as an image file and change the size as needed.

      That’s a very old-school way of doing it but sometimes it’s easier if the site builder won’t do it automatically and it gives you a little more control (you could, for example make the thumbnail focus on the most visually interesting part of the file if it isn’t the first page).

    4. Cyndi*

      With the caveats that 1) this was ten years ago, and many sites I loved ten years ago have gotten much worse and 2) I do see you’d prefer not to change from Wix:

      When I graduated from art school I was required to make a portfolio webpage, and Weebly did this very easily for me.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I’m not 100% resistant to change, but it was enough of a project getting things onto Wix, so if there’s a way for me to easily do it there, I’d rather stay. That said – I appreciate the rec :)

        1. Podkayne*

          I support your feeling on this. Also, in my experience, wordpress has a frustrating learning curve. But because so many people *love* wordpress, over the years, I’ve made various attempts to embrace it, and I’ve had to abandon it every time after deep frustration … (My go-to continues to be old-school blogger, which I can manipulate to present as a website and not a blog. (and it’s ridiculously easy to create and maintain.) ….

    5. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

      If you have the option of editing the actual HTML (the “behind the scenes” of a web page), then this would be an only moderately geeky task, because HTML itself “doesn’t care” whether the middle of a link is text or a graphic or both together.

      You make a tiny image to be the thumbnail, upload it, and note the filename & directory of where you put it. Then you find the “behind the scenes” of the page where the text link is now, delete the text in the middle of it, and instead put an img (image) tag specifying the thumbnail’s address that you noted.

      If Wix won’t let you get your hands on the HTML, then it depends what it will let you do.

  4. Cassandra*

    I would love some help on phrasing for my resume for 2 pieces. I work in marketing for reference.

    – There are two junior strategists I delegate reporting and analysis tasks to. They don’t report to me, I just tell them what to do and they help me as needed. Would “project manage two strategists” be the appropriate wording? It’s not really for a project, it’s ongoing. Should I just keep it as “delegate tasks to two strategists regarding reporting”?

    – I’ve worked at my job for the full years of 2021 and 2022. In 2021 overall, I was able to increase annual budgets by X% while maintaining KPI goals. However in 2022, my team got a new manager who basically took over everything and I didn’t really have ownership over this piece anymore. Because of his control, we didn’t hit budget goals. He was able to get leadership to shift from a budget goal to a CPA goal (cost metric; cost of each conversion). So overall with much significantly decreased budgets each month, we were able to meet the CPA goal, however the goal was $230, and we ended up at $220. Which, for what I do, is not great, especially because we were only able to hit the CPA goals because he cut the budgets so much. So in my resume I have the first part specified as “2021 forecast vs. spent”, but then I feel like I should have a 2022 piece as well, but that 2022 piece really isn’t an accomplishment. I could remove the 2021 year, but I want it to have some sort of time frame. I don’t have a similar accomplishment in 2022 compared to 2021, but I feel weird leaving 2022 out

    1. KatieKat*

      For #1 – do you instruct them and/or review their work? If so, I might use ‘oversee’ or ‘supervise’. And keep in mind Alison’s standard advice about noting accomplishments rather than listing responsibilities. So ultimately something like “Supervised reporting tasks completed by junior strategists, ensuring 100% timely delivery to clients satisfaction”

      1. Cassandra*

        For the first one, it’s actually in my description of my role, not listed under my accomplishments. I do have something like this under my accomplishments: “Created new internal processes utilizing scripts for automated reporting and trend analysis. Streamlined team communication by implementing a project management platform resulting in improved workflows and efficiency”

        But yes, I instruct them and review their work. I feel like “supervise” means people manage, which I don’t do

        1. The one behind the sweater vest*

          Marketer with 20 years of experience including paid media here:

          I think you’re selling yourself short a bit on the first bullet. While you may not deal with the HR side of managing staff; delegating, following up on, and reviewing their work is a managerial function. While you can’t say you managed them (which I could see both arguments for), it sounds like you can say you manage their projects/workload.

          For the second bullet, I think you should leave the years off. The point is that you DID manage the paid media accounts, and for a decent amount of time.

          For the accomplishment phrasing, you mentioned you got an increase in budget? That sounds like they saw performance that warranted increasing budget. What was the before and after? For example, if you cut cost per conversion, or click (whatever your KPI is by X%, then say that, and follow up with resulting in decision to increase budget. Or under your management, the paid media boosted sales Y%. I think you can leave the yearly performance out. Managers aren’t looking for a play-by-play of what you did and it’s not like they’re going to log into your Google Ads account.

          I hope that helps.

          1. Cassandra*

            Thanks! So for the first part, should I say “managed the workload of 2 strategists” or “delegated and reviewed the work of 2 strategists”?

            For the second part, I usually like to have time frame for my accomplishments, would ‘increased conversions by X%’ be too broad and not SMART-y?

            1. The one behind the sweater vest*

              To me, managed the workload of 2 strategists just flows better. You will have a basic time frame for the accomplishment because it falls within that specific job.

              It’s a little broad unless it’s a great number (double digit gains). I would add the business-friendly benefit. For example, increased conversions by X% which resulted in $Y increase in revenue. Or, increased conversions by X% which resulted in Z% drop in cost-per-conversions.

              My concern with adding the year is it pigeonholes and begs the question, “well you did that in 2021, what happened in 2022, or 2023?” At least it would for me unless you have something that tops it in a separate category, such as increased social media followers by ###% which resulted in X.

    2. Fabulous*

      Here’s some more ideas for your first bullet:

      > Team lead to two junior strategists; delegate reporting tasks as needed.
      > Lead the delegation of reporting tasks to two junior strategists.

      For the second, I would definitely leave the timeframe. Maybe something like this:

      > Increase annual budgets by X% while maintaining KPI goals for the 2021 calendar year.
      > Shifted focus and achieved a CPA goal from budget goal to to due to significantly reduced budgets in 2022.

      1. The one behind the sweater vest*

        But someone else took over the paid media in 2022, so unless I misread, that wasn’t her accomplishment to take credit for.

        1. Cassandra*

          Technically I still had ownership, but he just took control over it and micromanaged everything.

    3. Somehow_I_Manage*

      #1 – the common term for this is “Task Manager.”
      #2 – I think you should link your responsibilities to outcomes each year. Surely you weren’t demoted after such a great 2021? It sounds like you were shifted into a different role. The KPIs and budget were no longer your charge in 2022. Define the new role in 2021 and measure success differently.

      E.g., 2021 Served as Account lead, responsible for X. Under my leadership, the team exceeded all KPIs while driving increase in revenue.
      2022 Served as Account technical specialist, responsible for XYZ. Led X initiative resulting in ABC.

      1. Cassandra*

        Yeah, I have another bullet that addresses shifting responsibilities. So it includes “took ownership of llama account in March 2022”. I wasn’t demoted, but our boss came in and just took over everything so I had no opportunity to go above and beyond. Upper management is incompetent so they love him. Like I literally did not do anything in 2022, except for lead a complex test, but that was right before he came on. I have leading tests under another separate bullet

    4. Mockingjay*

      For your first question, which aspect do you want to emphasize: supervisory (personnel) or task management (workload)?

      The latter will give you more experience to discuss:
      – Managed reporting and analysis tasks among team. Ensured reports captured current status toward KPI goals through use of consistent/standard metrics. Reports were used to analyze metrics (progress/loss) over time. Etc.

    5. TBDetermined*

      I have a similar line as your first one in my resume and I call it “dotted-line management” and then explain that I delegate tasks, manage workload, mentor, train, etc. Or something along those lines.

  5. What's in a name?*

    I posted a few weeks ago about wanting to go by a nickname professional and personally. I ended up deciding on just going by my middle name lol (think similar to Mary Catherine, going by Catherine). I’m in the process of applying to new jobs but am wondering if I’m submitting my “first name” correctly. I started doing [Mary “Catherine”], but it felt silly, so then I started using [Catherine] in the first name option.

    Now I’m starting to worry, if I get an offer letter, is it legit if it’s [middle name + last name]? Could that cause tax issues with the W2? When am I supposed to tell them ‘Catherine’ is my middle name? For easy purposes, I’d still like [first name + last name] or [first + middle + last] on all the official documents. Or maybe it’s okay? I’m new to this!

    1. Xyz*

      If they ask for your legal name or it’s an official document like a back ground check or W2 you need to put Mary Cathrine Lastname. If they just ask first name or name put Cathrine Lastname. A lot of applications now have a place for legal name which would be Mary Catherine and then a space for preferred name where you would just put Catherine. Unless it specifically asks for a legal name just put Catherine, typically somewhere in your on boarding paper work or background check or when you submitted your withholdings it will ask for legal name.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Do your references know you as Mary or as Catherine? If your references will only know you as Mary you need to have Mary on the resume and forms too. Most forms will have a spot for legal name vs preferred name these days. If not when you are at the interview stage you can introduce yourself, “Hi I’m mary catherine, I go by Catherine”.

    3. Just Another Boss*

      It will be fine. For context, I work in executive search, and have had hundreds of (successful) candidates who go by their middle names. You’ll likely get a verbal offer, before a written one, and you can mention it then if it hasn’t come up yet. If you do want to make sure it’s indicated in writing, it’s pretty common for people to keep their first name as an initial on professional documents (think M. Catherine). I’ve also seen people put their full name on the top of their resume, but sign the cover letter as M. Catherine so make it clear they go by the middle name. An offer letter won’t be an issue, legally, but you would want to clear it up when you’re hired. “My legal name is Mary Catherine Clark, but I just go by Catherine. Could we make sure payroll has my legal name, but perhaps use just Catherine for email and other work related communications?”

      1. LadyByTheLake*

        I think this is most common — my brother and a good friend both go by their middle names and they put F. Middle Last on their professional documents, so everyone knows that they go by Middle.

    4. ThursdaysGeek*

      My spouse started going by his middle name when he was still a kid, and now signs legal documents as ‘middle name-first initial-last name’. It seems wrong to me (his passport and driver’s license still has ‘first name-middle initial-last name’), and there have been a few hiccups when dealing with property (an additional form indicating he’s the same person), but generally, it has worked fine.

    5. new year, new name*

      I don’t think you need to worry about the offer letter at all. Just provide your legal name when they start asking you to fill out official/legal documents and you will be fine. This is really, really common! No one is going to say an offer letter is invalid because it uses your preferred name rather than your legal one.

      If you want, though, you could always put your first name as “M. Catherine” on application forms. I know tons of people who do that – of all genders – and it’s universally recognized as “this person goes by their middle name, so I should call them Catherine but not be surprised if there is a name that starts with M on legal documents.”

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Yes to this. For legal forms, if you’re in the US you will need to fill out an I-9 form (which proves your eligibility to work in the US). This is the stage where you will give your company legal documentation (driver’s license, passport, social security card, birth certificate, etc.) and they will see that your legal first name is “Mary” and all of the systems that legally need your first name will have it.

        Sometime after accepting the offer and before you start filling out paperwork is probably a good time to give the hiring manager/HR a heads up that “My legal name is Mary Catherine Lastname, and I would prefer my email address to be under Catherine Lastname” conversation.

    6. Hermione*

      What about putting M. Catherine Jones on your resume? I wouldn’t overly worry about the offer letter, but you can always correct later – “actually my legal name is…” For the I-9/W2 they usually need your ID with your legal name anyway and can correct later.

    7. Carolina cardinalis*

      I also go by my middle name, and my solution has been to use Mary Lastname on the forms, put in Catherine as middle or preferred if it’s available, and then put (Mary) Catherine Lastname on the cover letter. That usually solves it for me.

    8. rayray*

      I go by my middle name.

      I usually apply for jobs with my middle name – I put it in the First Name field. Some applications will have a spot to put in a first name AND a preferred name, so when I see those, I put my first name in the first name box and my middle name in the preferred box.

      I figure that if it comes time to do a background check or anything, I can then alert them about my legal first name. When you get a new job, fill out all your paperwork with your legal first name but be clear that you have a preferred name.

    9. Isben Takes Tea*

      I go by my middle name. I always apply as Middle + Last, and only mention First when I’m filling out the legal hiring paperwork. I alert the HR rep at this stage (and sometimes the hiring manager) as an FYI, but it has never been an issue.

      I also always use First + Middle + Last on all legal paperwork for clarity between institutions (and for the double reason that my mom has the same First + Last as me!)

      The only difference is I’ve always gone by my middle name, so I don’t have to alert my references, but you’d want to do that to make sure there’s no confusion on their end.

    10. The OG Sleepless*

      A number of people in my life go by their middle names, including my parents, my MIL, and my husband; it used to be very common in the South. Most of them use M. Catherine Smith, or just Mary C. Smith and do a lot of correcting of people when they speak in person.

    11. Rainy*

      I go by a nickname that is a common nickname for a different name (think, Rainy is a common nickname for Rainbow, but my name is actually Rasputina and I go by Rainy), and I just put Rainy Lastname on my resume/cover letter. If something asks for gov’t name and actually needs it (benefits stuff etc) I put Rasputina but on literally anything else, no. The offer letter isn’t a contract, it doesn’t really matter legally what name is on it. Your HR paperwork will have the gov’t name on it, but everything else can have your call name, in my experience.

      I’ve never actually had any problems doing it this way.

      1. Seal*

        Same here. If anyone asks, I say that’s my given name but have always gone by my nickname. It makes for a good trivia question (e.g. what’s Seal’s given name?).

    12. Roscoe da Cat*

      I would put M. Catherine and then it would be obvious that you go by Catherine, but have a legal first name. And put the name in full correctly on tax forms. But presenting your name that way should allow you to get an email address, etc. with your middle name as you main name.

      Frankly, businesses are being very sensitive about names now, so I doubt any of them will make a big deal of it

      1. superstar*

        My SIL’s family is from Mexico, and all the kids have the same female or male name with different middle names. They all go by their middle names. It can also be a cultural difference.

    13. Tegan Keenan*

      I go by a nickname and only use my given name for “official” documents (tax, employment, financial, etc.). I use only my nickname on my resume, but on job applications I use both, similar to: Tegranorio (Tegan) Keenan. For yours, in a first name field, if you have the room, you might do Catherine (Mary Catherine).

      When you get an offer, you may want to remind the hiring manager of this situation, even though it’s on your application.

      When I was hired to my current job, my boss did not notice the given name and submitted my initial HR paperwork with Tegan. It took a little time with HR to get it fixed, but it wasn’t really a huge deal. Mild annoyance. I’ve gone by this nickname my entire life, though, so I’m pretty used to it.

    14. SnappinTerrapin*

      I’m eligible for social security. I have gone by my middle name all my life. My resumes have always been in my used name. Application forms I fill out the way they ask, but emphasize my middle name.

      Payroll paperwork is always in full legal name, but I have never had an employer or potential employer object to the use of preferred name in all other contexts.

    15. Silverose*

      I’ve been going by my middle name for a couple decades now. Resume is first initial period full middle name full last name; I even have my professional email address set up that way. Online application forms, I use my first initial and middle name in the “first name” box – it lets them know I have a first name but don’t use it. HR documents (background check, tax forms, etc) must have the name that’s on your social security card – which, for me, happens to be my full first middle last name.

      Hopefully, you’ll end up working for a company that will set up your company ID badge, email, usernames, etc, in your preferred name, but don’t count on it. Many are set up to only use legal name for all that stuff, and nearly all government jobs are that way.

  6. Fishsticks*

    My kids have the Friday and Monday off of school for Easter weekend, but I have no PTO and my husband JUST went back to work after being out for medical leave for two months following a severe rib injury.

    We’re broke after husband having no income for two months, so we can’t pay for daycare. My in-laws are handling the estate for a recently deceased relative and are too busy to help.

    So here I am with my kids in the office… At least the office is cool with it and my kids are being very quiet for once and not bothering anyone. But ugh, I am so tired of the stress I’ve been under since my husband got hurt in January. I just… need a break.

    Just needed to vent for a second. Anyone else struggling with balancing childcare and work?

    1. OtterB*

      My kids are adults now, but I’ve been there. It is very stressful and having a flexible/accepting office was what kept me from cracking up altogether.

    2. Elle*

      My kids are older and we work from home so we’ve gotten past it but for many years the school calendar was impossible to manage with work. I never had enough vacation days to account for joys like the three weeks between the end of camp and the start of school. Sometimes we had family watch them but not always. I did go without pay for a couple of days because I had no other option.

    3. Gyne*

      I’m glad your office is cool! I am also on this bus – scheduled to work a 48 hour shift this weekend and my husband has some commitments tomorrow morning so the kids are coming in with me until he can pick them up. We have no family in town so have always had to hire out help & schedule it far in advance, thankfully the kids are old enough now they can be left unattended with books and coloring for short periods of time.

      1. rr*

        I can’t even imagine. I don’t have kids, but I have an older parent that I have to go to some medical appointments with. I really should go to them all, but though my office is flexible enough (depending and not without yelling sometimes), going to all of them would be far too much. This may not be the main reason, but I think it is part of the reason I’ve stayed where I am so long. I have my own medical stuff too, so between the two, it just sometimes seems easier to stay. I periodically tell myself that other places are flexible too, but I don’t think it makes a great first impression. I wonder how many other people (primarily women) stay at horrible jobs and make less money because of flexibility? I’d guess a lot.

    4. Justme, The OG*

      Been ther, done that. My kid is a teenager now so it’s not the struggle it was.

    5. Pink Brownie*

      I’ve been there, Fishsticks: hurt husband struggling to find work, small children in need of care, no family nearby to help. I’m so sorry you have to go through this – and, yes, and understanding employer is terrific in this situation.

      Last year, after Hurricane Ian, schools were closed and our house became uninhabitable. The only place that had internet was my office. My husband was dealing with cleaning the house and his own doctor appointments, so I had to bring my kids to work. I tell you, cell phones and tablets! My oldest had a cell phone and my youngest had a tablet. I hooked them up to the office’s WiFi and it was heaven. Separate sides of the office so they couldn’t even look at each other. Peace.

      Hang in there. Better times are ahead, I promise.

    6. Brain the Brian*

      I have a coworker who’s dealing with it on both ends: childcare for her elementary schooler and elder care for her aging parents in another city. And her phone number is the one listed on invoices, so she fields a lot of angry client calls. We really didn’t set this system up well for anyone. Sending strength to you.

    7. Josephine Beth*

      We have 3 now-adult children, and I sometimes wonder how the heck we ever made it work when my husband and I both worked full-time outside the home. Truth is, we just muddled through, and it was awful, so you have all my sympathies! Our youngest has some significant disabilities, so we made the decision a couple of years ago for my husband to be her full-time caregiver, and that’s been a different kind of hard but at least reduced a lot of the scheduling issues.

      Our work culture is not set up to accommodate or even respect the needs of parents or caregivers (and I include all kinds of “caregiving” in there – elderly parents, family with disability, helping friends, etc.). I’m so lucky to be in a flexible position, but I’ve stayed here despite knowing I could probably make more money elsewhere and/or move my career forward because I *need* the flexibility.

    8. WantonSeedStitch*

      Hugs and sympathy. I’m in a luckier situation than you are myself, but I can completely understand how stressful it must be for you. My own difficulty is that pretty much 100% of the vacation time I’ve taken in the past three years has been because my husband was traveling (he works irregularly, but when he does, he’s generally traveling out of state) and I needed to take care of our son (a toddler, not in school, and daycare is only three days a week at the moment and I can’t drive to get him there). So basically, my “vacation” from work is full-time solo parenting. Which is more work than work is.

    9. Scientist12*

      Yes I’m in this situation. We have daycare, but the staffing shortage is so bad that they routinely have to close classrooms. We also don’t have family nearby, so it’s such a difficult situation.

    10. PostalMixup*

      This week has been awful. My spouse and I both have jobs that have a required on-site component (truly, cannot be done from home). The 3yo was sick Monday & Tuesday. The 7yo was sick Wednesday and Thursday. On Tuesday, daycare announced that they’d forgotten to put on the parent calendar that they were closed today, and by the way they also have to close next Friday, too, for a mandatory training session, so sorry for the inconvenience.

    11. A Nap Sounds Nice*

      Just here to say you are not alone and this is a situation where there is no winning, there is only survival. I’m also so sorry for the loss in your extended family, that’s not easy on top of everything else.

      For the last 3 months I’ve been putting in work hours after my toddler is in bed most nights to make up the time lost to all the nearly daily gaps in care (thankfully I work from home, but my spouse doesn’t, so the coverage falls all to me). There is no such thing as rest, it’s go time from 6AM to midnight. “Hobbies” and “interests” are things other people get to have. Most days I’m lucky if I get to eat my kid’s leftovers and nab a second cup of coffee. I would love to believe it gets easier, but as with everything in parenting thus far I think it just gets different, until they’re out of the house.

      This turned into a bit of my own vent, but seriously, know you are not alone. There is a veritable army of us out here with you – in our offices, at our kitchen tables, checking Slack and email on our phones while trying to keep the kid(s) alive and the household functioning for one more day. We’re great parents, and we love our kids. We see you.

    12. Quinalla*

      My work has been extremely flexible around this, during COVID and since, but it is still a headache. I don’t have a husband with medical leave, but work this week he worked late every day so the parts he normally do for kid pickup/dropoff for things were all on me. Not as bad as your situation, but I can definitely relate! Glad your work is being understanding & flexible.

    13. Diatryma*

      I should have checked earlier– I got a call about half an hour after I arrived at work, just after I started a task, saying that my younger child had a fever and some ear drainage and needed to come home from daycare. A bit of task, a bit of dashing out of the no-cell-phone space to coordinate who gets the kiddo, who watches the kiddo during the day, oh hey pediatrician that should happen, and I spent the day at home instead. The people taking calls know that if someone asks for my social name vs my professional name, it’s probably the daycare and I’m probably taking off.

    14. anon23*

      This post epitomizes what is wrong with America. I’m so sorry for what you are dealing with.

  7. Collie*

    I was recently promoted! Yay! I’ll now be managing a group of four that were previously peers. I have an opportunity to set the tone/expectations in an upcoming meeting with all of them and their previous/my supervisor. It’ll be a slow transition both administratively and otherwise until this group is fully transferred to my supervision but this is the beginning.

    I have some thoughts on how I plan to approach personnel management, but any general advice for setting the tone, etc. during this meeting for the whole shebang?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      This might be a little hokey, but it was well received, so I’ll throw it out there just in case. When I took over my current team, I had written out four expectations I have of them, and four commitments I make to them. I wrote mine to correspond with our four corporate values, but my expectations were fairly basic things like “respect and cooperation among all team members at all levels, do your best, etc”. The thing that I got really good feedback on, and the part that was my priority, was my commitments to them, which were paraphrased:

      I commit to be as transparent, timely and clear as I can be with information that is relevant to your work.
      I will never give any of you or this team anything less than my best efforts and intentions in everything I do.
      I will do my absolute best to support you all as individuals and as a team.
      My purpose in being here is to make y’all’s lives easier by identifying roadblocks and addressing/resolving them where I can.

      And first making those commitments, and then KEEPING those commitments, has been really good for my team’s unity and engagement.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        That’s a great approach! It reminds me a bit of the exercise of establishing ground rules for meetings at the start (things like “we agree to keep any discussions in this meeting confidential” or “we agree to assume positive intent from others present”). I might also suggest asking your new reports (ask the question in advance of the meeting to give them time to think about it) “what are the four most important things you need from a manager?” and “what are some things I can do to help us work our best together?” For the latter, I give examples like timing of meetings, communication via email or chat or phone, etc.

    2. Riot Grrrl*


      Going from peer to manager can be extremely challenging. It raises a little bit of a red flag that you speak of a “slow transition”. Can you clarify a bit more what that means? I ask because one of the biggest mistakes people make in changing roles is to try to soft-pedal the change. There’s lots of “Oh, nothing’s really going to change! We’re still buddies!” No. You’re not coworkers anymore, and that needs to be clear.

      I’m not suggesting that you be needlessly mean or strict or cold; I simply mean that there has to be a recognition that your role is changing, which will necessarily change their relationship to you. For example, it’s common that when a person moves into management, they suddenly see the logic behind rules or procedures that looked pointless to them as an individual contributor. Or excuses for poor work are suddenly much less convincing because from your new vantage point you’ll be able to see others who did good work under the same circumstances.

      A lot could change. The more clear you can be that this is indeed a change, the more likely everyone will be successful.

      I wish you well on your new adventure!

      1. Collie*

        The speed of transition is largely out of my hands. This is a new role for the organization and I understand it’ll be the same for all the internal hires (about half a dozen of us). But that said, I think we are on track to go forward as you’re describing. It’s definitely very clear that my role has changed and both I and my manager have been emphasizing this.

        It’s a great reminder, though. I’ll be sure to keep doing this.

        Thank you!

      2. Somehow_I_Manage*

        You are so right. If the plan is to give someone more control, it’s best not to undermine it from the start (e.g., you’re the boss, but above you is “real boss” who actually makes all of the meaningful descisions).

        Shifting to the more positive for the OP. I’d focus this meeting on providing clear structure, answering the following:
        – What is my new role as manager?
        – What are the responsibilities?
        – What are my goals for the team?
        – How does my new role affect each of you?
        – What are my commitments to each of you?
        – How will this role evolve in the future?

        Ideally pair it with an organizational chart. Make it clear who’s evaluating their performance, who’s evaluating their salary, who approves their PTO, who reviews their time sheets, who delegates project work, who communicates with clients – etc.

        /The sooner all of that is clear, the sooner you can all start clicking as a team!

  8. Pink Shoe Laces*

    In interviews, I want to ask potential managers situational questions, including what they would do with poor performers. I’ve had way too many bosses who ignore obvious slackers while giving me extra work.

    But I’m worried that if I have a ton of questions like “give an example of when you had an employee underperform”, would they think I’m the low performer? Like why is this person asking so many questions about it? lol

    1. No Tribble At All*

      You could phrase it as “balancing workloads among your team members”? I agree that’s a tricky one to ask about!

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      I wouldnt use any work like underperform. I would ask about how is the workload distributed instead, who assigns projects, etc.

    3. Just Another Boss*

      If your main concern is getting saddled with someone else’s workload, I think focusing on how work is assigned is a good way to approach it. It’s really not your business how they coach or manage underperformers, but it is your business how that might affect you. Focus on that part.

    4. BellyButton*

      I phrase it like “What is your leadership style? How do you like to give feedback and coaching?”

    5. Somehow_I_Manage*

      It’s a totally reasonable question to ask…and you should feel free. But I’d actually phrase it more like your original intro “How do you address poor performers? I’ve had past situations where management didn’t have adequate tools to deal with poor performers resulting in increased stress on the team and that manager to pick up the slack.”

      But you’re unlikely to get an honest answer from your future supervisor. It would be better to ask “would you be able to introduce me to one of my future peers? I’d love the opportunity to get their perspective on working here.” I’d then ask that person in the right setting. Ideally either a private interview or phone call.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        I’d say more that you’re unlikely to get a *bad* answer from your future supervisor. If they handle such things well, they’ll give a good answer and it’ll be true. If they handle them poorly, they’ll lie, or just say “oh, that never happens here! Everyone is super!”

        1. Peanut Hamper*

          I agree. Good managers have nothing to hide and will admit if it’s been a problem in the past and that they have a way to handle it. Bad managers will deny it’s ever been a problem or just blow it off.

    6. WantonSeedStitch*

      “How do you ensure an equitable distribution of the team’s workload?” “How do you ensure accountability among team members?”

    7. Peanut Hamper*

      You might try rolling it in with another condition, such as having someone out on extended leave.

      “How do you ensure your employees aren’t unduly burdened when a team member is underperforming or is out on an extended absence?”

  9. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    I’m thinking of how to get a feel for my new boss. With my old boss it’s understood that since I work after 7 some days I can just go to the Dr ( I try to schedule for the least impact but…) and I tend to use emails as an external memory ( my memory is poor). I’m anxious about personality too. What I really need from a boss is to have them give me priorities as I can only really prioritize if it’s something obvious. I work very hard but this sometimes I don’t have the energy for the theater of working hard….

    1. Anastia Beaverhousen*

      I would do a 1:1 with them and explore how things have worked in the past and ask what their expectations are. They may be okay with this, they may have different expectations.

    2. Unkempt Flatware*

      I know this isn’t really what you asked but I would love if we could collectively agree that going to the doctor during the workday is as expected as getting paid. I had a job offer recently (Salaried and exempt) from someone who highlighted that going to the doctors was their way of being “very flexible”. I told her that such a thing was so expected by every job I apply for that I wouldn’t even see the need to confirm it just like I wouldn’t confirm that this would be for a paid position.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Yup. logically most doctors offices have their hours during the work day and even if you try for an 830 appointment you are not likely to be seen…

    3. JustaTech*

      Would it be possible to have your old boss do a hand-off to your new boss and say things like “Stuckinacrazyjob is a great worker. Sometimes they work late to make up for doctors appointments and this is their email system.”?

      Just all very matter-of-fact like saying “this is our file naming system and we sort these client files by year, etc etc”.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        That would be great. I do my best but have many ‘ quirks ‘ ( they would be known online as ‘ self accomodations ‘ )

  10. Called Birdy*

    I have an upcoming interview for a job (Job B) that I’m really excited about! The low end of the salary range is low for my area’s high cost of living, but the high end of the range is workable. I have a job offer from another place (Job A) that falls at the high end of the range for Job B. Would it be impertinent to mention in the interview with Job B that I already have an offer and ask if they could match the salary? If not, when would it be the appropriate time to ask?

    1. Cakeordeath*

      um possibly no?

      I am not an expert but I would think that what job A is willing to pay is up to job A and they are unlikely to budge that unless you are the like dream dream candidate and they dont want to lose you. I would worry mentioning already having an offer when they havent even decided if they want you yet will make them think you arent interested or invested in them? I know Alison says you can mention offers as a way of discussing timelines and it may or may not spur them to move forward. But I am not sure about salary wise.

    2. Minji*

      Personally, I would let Job B know that you have another offer ASAP, since hopefully that will make them speed along their hiring timeline (assuming you’re an attractive candidate). If they ask you about salary in the interview, then you could say something like “the other offer I have on the table is in the $X-Y range, so that’s what I’d be looking for here”. Otherwise you could bring that up the negotiating table, but I wouldn’t bring it up in the interview if they don’t ask.

    3. EMP*

      Totally reasonable to bring up your Job A offer, and you can bring it up generically before you have an offer from B. Usually someone will ask what your timeline is, or you’ll have an opportunity to ask about the timeline for next steps – that is a great time to mention you have an outstanding offer from A because it usually will push B to move faster if they’re serious about giving you an offer.

      As for specific salary numbers, I wouldn’t bring up Job A’s number until you have a number from B – because what if they were going to offer you the high end already, and maybe even more than A? But once they give you a number or a range, you have a lot of leverage to push back and say “Job A offered me $X, I would love to work for Job B if you can match that”, or something like that.

  11. Tell me your story*

    Tell me your experiences or any good stories about management babying or enabling terrible employees!

    Some of the worst I’ve seen (1) a lazy coworker went crying to her boss when good coworkers got promoted, she ended up getting promoted about a month later (2) When a boss dumped someone’s work on me because “I don’t think she cares”. Yes, I found a new job shortly after that

    1. Enginerd*

      Had a coworker on company travel crash a rental car into the guard shack. He was arrested after the failed the breathalyzer and was found in possession of cocaine and pills that weren’t his. After getting out of jail he was sent back to the office where he worked another 2 years before being fired for “stealing time” (he’d work 40 hours, put 60 on his time card, but we were salary so no one knows why he was charging OT he wasn’t getting paid for).

    2. Anastia Beaverhousen*

      My boss does my co-workers paper work because he is chronically over six months behind.

    3. Irish Teacher*

      When I worked retail, the supervisor, who I’ve mentioned here before, was incredibly difficult. Anyway, one day the deputy manager was going to a confirmation, so the supervisor would be in charge on the busiest morning of the week (the manager was working the evening shift) and the night before, the manager asked me to come in early the next day (so she wouldn’t complain about lack of staff) and raced around getting some of the work done in advance because “I’m not giving that one anything to be complaining about in the morning.”

      Of course, the next day, she did start complaining to him anyway; I can’t remember about what.

    4. Hotdog not dog*

      I’m in a spot like that right now. We have a newish manager (about 6 months in) who is just horrible! She’s not my manager, but the company’s solution is that I should handle anything she can’t or would rather not do. For context, I am currently a high level individual contributor but I used to be a manager. I chose to move “backwards” because it turned out to be almost the same pay for about half the stress. Initially the plan was for me and another peer to train the new manager and help her until she got acclimated. Thus far she has refused to do parts of her job that she doesn’t like and is really struggling with almost everything. The worst part is that she is very condescending and entitled. Her team can’t stand her; she talks over them, orders people around like servants, and gives (at best) unclear directions. Upper management is aware, but she’s somehow a VIP, so my colleague and I were ordered to just do her job along with our own. (surprise, we are both looking for new jobs.)

    5. *kalypso*

      Toxic environment because of toxic person. When they finally investigated, they brought the bully and the victim in and questioned the victim in front of the bully then declared the issue ‘women’s problems’ and withdrew victim’s professional development funding. Victim was hospitalized, had emergency surgery, bully didn’t notice they were gone for a week despite the victim being their direct report, but when they did, payroll gave out victim’s home address to the bully so they could send gifts – and work. Bully took off for two months, left victim in charge of whole department, came back, and immediately started treating victim as if they were incapable of the work, including undoing their work and sending it to other people to do claiming they’d failed at it, insisting victim needed retraining, and chasing victim into the toilet to scream at them for not being at their desk to answer their phone to confirm they received an email with the fourth instruction to print and file a personal email.
      Victim went from being next in line for promotion to permanently managing the department to on workers comp for stress and refusing to come back while bully was there. Bully ended up resigning – the kicker? Victim had been hired to take over for bully when they left, and was not given or offered that position when it did become available. Bully tanked the victim’s career with bad references (small field, bully nice as pie to anyone outside the org) and still has genuinely no idea they were torturing this person they claimed to think of as family.

    6. JustaTech*

      There’s a classic story from before I started at my company.
      To set the scene, it’s time for a major, major, make-or-break site opening for the company. So they send out their most experienced manufacturing crew to help set up. Sadly, this crew included two dudes (Thing 1 and Thing 2) who, while competent at the job were just the worst as employees otherwise.
      The crew flies out to the new site with expectation of an 18 hour work day the next day. For some reason everyone decides to go to the hotel bar, where Thing 1 and Thing 2 get wasted. Thing 1 then tells Thing 2 he’s drunk and needs to go to bed. Thing 2 responds by punching his buddy in the face so hard he breaks some bones and Thing 1 has to go to the hospital, where he is then judged to drunk to release. Thing 2 is also still too drunk to start work.

      So the crew, which was only exactly enough people to get this super important thing done is now down two people, so everyone else has to work clean though the 18 hours, no breaks (not even to pee). And what happens to Thing 1 and Thing 2? Nothing. Not fired, not reprimanded, not demoted. They stuck around, being trouble until the entire department was let go in a layoff. (They don’t even have a “do not hire” in their HR file.)

    7. kiwiii*

      Our sister team’s old manager was notorious for letting a couple different employees do next to no work (literally less than a quarter of the absolute minimum), and then when we’d start getting complaints, she’d do the rest of the work needed for them to meet the minimum slapdash across like a weekend; repeat every three months or so forever.

  12. Xyz*

    If they ask for your legal name or it’s an official document like a back ground check or W2 you need to put Mary Cathrine Lastname. If they just ask first name or name put Cathrine Lastname. A lot of applications now have a place for legal name which would be Mary Catherine and then a space for preferred name where you would just put Catherine. Unless it specifically asks for a legal name just put Catherine, typically somewhere in your on boarding paper work or background check or when you submitted your withholdings it will ask for legal name.

  13. Sloanicota*

    I want to raise something that came up in this week’s letter about the admin trying to get out of the admin roles. I often hear it asserted that women should stretch and apply for jobs that they don’t meet all the qualifications for, and I’m not saying it’s a victim-blamey thing, but I feel like it’s in the same vein as “women don’t negotiate so that’s a big reason they don’t make as much.” True perhaps but ALSO, women are not rewarded in the same way when they do negotiate, and they may be correctly intuiting this (which doesn’t mean I don’t encourage women to negotiate; I do). My point is that when I apply for higher-level jobs, I am usually shot down, and I’m mostly only successful at getting lateral offers, especially if they have a lot of admin. I don’t think this is because I need to Reach For The Stars And Believe In Myself more. I think it’s at least partially some gendered BS about who is a leader and who has potential etc etc. Thoughts on this?

    1. new year, new name*

      Yep, for sure. I think this is yet another example of “the system sucks, but we still need to get by in the here and now” – that is, yes, we need transformative change to address the underlying issues, and we should work toward that but, also, these interim/individual strategies might help us navigate that system in the meantime.

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      Yes, and this is specifically why more women need to apply for positions like this.

      When the candidate pool is 10 men and 1 woman, it is easy for recruiters to overlook the female candidate. When the candidate pool is more evenly divided, it makes it less easy for them to overlook the female candidates.

    3. Other Alice*

      I agree but at the same time I think it’s a helpful message. At least it was for me. If it’s getting even 1 woman to apply for a role she didn’t think she was fully qualified for, then it’s good. Getting companies to look at all candidates equally is a different matter, also important, and I don’t think addressing one problem means the other problem is less relevant.

      1. Epsilon Delta*

        Yeah, if you apply to roles where you meet 80% of the criteria, you might not get called for an interview. But that’s true when you meet 100% of the criteria too. It’s a numbers game. Maybe your odds are lower as a woman, but it’s still a numbers game. Keep playing.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      Definitely agree that “women don’t negotiate as much” and “women don’t apply for stretch positions as much” often leave out that women aren’t rewarded as much for doing so, but it’s still “nothing ventured, nothing gained.” If men are rewarded with a negotiation twice as often (I’m just pulling this out of nowhere—don’t have the exact numbers handy right now) as women are, you’re definitely never rewarded for not negotiating at all… or not applying for a job at all.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Yes, some numbers for example only (don’t know what the actual stats are on this):

        Jane and Fred both make $50,000.

        Scenario 1: Fred asks for a $5,000 raise and his boss gives him a $4,000 raise. Jane does not ask for a raise. Jane still makes $50,000. Fred now makes $54,000.

        Scenario 2: Fred asks for a $5,000 raise and his boss gives him a $4,000 raise. Jane asks for a $5,000 raise and her boss gives her a $3,000 raise (because sexism). Jane now makes $53,000. Fred now makes $54,000.

        Did Jane asking for a raise solve the pay gap problem? No. But by doing to only thing in her control (asking for a raise), she made the pay gap a little smaller, and is better off than she was before (and than she would have been if she hadn’t asked).

        1. Sloanicota*

          I wonder how often, “Fred asks for a $5000 raise and gets it because his boss perceives him as a future leader. Jane asks for a $3000 raise and the boss is annoyed and holds it against her in future” happens … Fred now makes $55,000 and Jane makes $50,000 for one more year until she’s laid off in the next reorg. Note, I’m not saying Jane shouldn’t ask, and she probably needs to leave this job anyway if that were the case. I just think we tend make a system issue into women’s personal responsibility.

          1. Anonymous Educator*

            It happens a lot. Even when women negotiate for more and get more, it’s held against them. You can’t win either way.

    5. Bunny Girl*

      I think people also don’t talk about how much you are truly pigeonholed. People see administrative jobs on your resume and will just reject you. I can’t even get jobs that are basically entry-level manual labor because most, if not all, of my job history is administrative work. It’s ridiculous.

      1. Chirpy*

        This is part of why I’m still in retail after 10 years. People already assume I’m worthless or “lazy” on a daily basis, it’s hard to convince myself that potential employers won’t do the same. (or that my degree is still relevant at this point)

        1. Sloanicota*

          Which is crazy because front-line public facing work is the HARDEST work I ever had. No flexibility, weird scheduling, crappy benefits and low pay??

          1. Chirpy*

            Right?? I work MUCH harder here than I ever did in an office, and I can still barely afford rent at full time pay. I haven’t had a proper vacation in years. I can’t afford basic health care because the insurance deductible is too high. But I’m somehow “not working hard enough” and “unskilled”. It sucks.

      2. *kalypso*

        Yep, ‘you’re soft because you’re used to an office’ is an unhelpful thing that is a thing.

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

      There is a general employment bias, regardless of gender, against hiring people who don’t already demonstrate work experience or skills for a job; if there is another candidate that has those skills and experience, they win out over a candidate that doesn’t.

      But I agree that there is a society bias that pushes (or keeps) women in Admin roles — as a woman who has never been an Admin, however, I still have to constantly push back against doing Admin things. But some of the biggest “pushers” have been other women who maybe sometimes act like I’m “too big for my britches” when I refuse to do tasks that aren’t what I’m hired to do. I show my solidarity that Admin work is not “women’s work” by not doing it. So I actually don’t think that “Believe In Myself More” is necessarily victim-blamey (Admins aren’t victims and their work is important), because we do have to believe that there’s no shame or blame in standing firm on saying “not my job” when it isn’t. Unfortunately, my experience is that attitude gets punished far more, by other women, than negotiating salary or reaching for higher-level jobs.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I’m not even in admin, but I don’t think the advice “apply for more roles where you only meet 70-80% of the requirements” has worked particularly well for me.

    7. Random Dice*

      It’s a very valid point.

      “Women only apply when they meet 100% of the quals, and don’t negotiate, and aren’t as confident as the average white man” sure feels like blaming women for sexism instead of, oh, men.

      I guess where I land is that even when I, as a woman, understand structural sexism, the only thing I can actually control is what I do.

      And I can control getting out of my own head on what jobs I apply to, and getting professional certs, and asking for a raise (using Alison’s advice).

      It’s not a great answer, but I’m a cog in a rigged system, doing the best I can.

    8. BellyButton*

      This is actually a well studied and documented type of bias. Performance Bias is when the dominate or “in group” is evaluated on their POTENTIAL, where the minority or “out group” is evaluated on their accomplishments and past performance.

    9. Raccacoonie*

      Absolutely true. It can also be more intersectional discrimination: my workplace is generally good in its BDEI efforts, but I’ve noted that one place they seem to fall down is that Black women tend to be hired into low-level admin roles and, while there’s a lot of internal promotion, they rarely if ever seem to be the ones who get promoted.

    10. kalli*

      I’m experiencing it in that I’m admin at my company, but I was hired to do admin overflow+work, but because I do admin I only get admin tasks, the admins hoard their work, and the amount of work I get decreases – meanwhile they cycle through fulltime workers, all of whom are male.

      Part of it is 100% that I am disabled and not seen as capable because there is one narrow part of work I can no longer do without accommodations the industry sees as odd to provide (part time? fine! take off for doctors appts during the day! fine. need a sit/stand desk? fine!) but post-COVID is just given as a matter of course far more often, so the barrier to me doing work full time has evaporated, but I’m still being seen that way.

    11. AnotherLibrarian*

      I 100% agree that there is a lot of gendered BS about who is a leader and who has potential. I work in a female dominated field and still see this. It’s awful. And it sucks. However, I know that I would never have applied for jobs that I was not 100% qualified for if someone hadn’t pushed me to do so and I would never have negotiated a salary, if someone hadn’t pushed me to do so. Sure, there are deep systematic issues at play here, but as an individual one thing I can do is make sure the women I know who are newer to the workforce and maybe don’t know they need to do these things, get mentorship and support to do so. Will it fix the situation? 100% no. But it can make a huge difference for one person.

      1. Sloanicota*

        So it did work for you? Maybe the reason I’m scratching my head is because, after receiving this advice, I started applying for roles where I only met 70-80% of the requirements, and it never worked for me at all. But obviously that’s only one person’s experience, I do assume on the whole it is valid feedback for other women to hear!!

        1. AnotherLibrarian*

          Yes, I wouldn’t have either the job I have or the job I had before if I hadn’t listened to that advice. It radically improved my career. However, the problem is you don’t know which of the qualities listed is the most important- sometimes you are missing the most critical piece of the puzzle, so it doesn’t matter that you have 70% of the rest of it.

    12. RagingADHD*

      I think both of these things are true at the same time.

      Yes, it sucks and is unfair.

      It is also true that you have some chance of doing better if you try, and zero chance of doing better if you don’t try. Some > zero.

      After all, because it sucks and is unfair, not-trying certainly isn’t going to make it suck any less. And for every one that does better, there’s one more chance that person can make change.

    13. Student*

      A lot of this kind of advice is given out because there have been peer-reviewed studies done about it, and it is something within women’s control to partially change.

      Men apply for jobs when they meet far fewer of the listed requirements than women, on average. It was a huge difference, though I’m afraid I can’t recall it exactly for the last studies that I saw. It was something on the order of women, on average, only applied to jobs they met all the qualifications for, while men applied to jobs that they only met roughly 40% of the qualifications for – it was stark.

      I think men get rewarded for this behavior at higher rates than women, so I think you’re on to something there with your doubts. However, having been involved in hiring, I think it’s compelling for a several reasons, and I changed my behavior to apply for more “stretch” jobs because of it.

      First, women will never get jobs they didn’t even apply for. If the hiring committee has to wade through dozens of poorly-qualified men, they should see dozens of poorly-qualified women, too. I don’t think we’ll get rewarded for this at the same rate as men, but I know we won’t get rewarded for it at all if we don’t apply. If it ultimately means I sometimes get jobs where I meet 8 out of 10 requirements, but I still sometimes lose out on that same job to men that meet 4 out of 10 requirements, then it’s still not fair to me – but it’s still a better result for me as an individual than if I only apply to jobs where I meet 10 out of 10 requirements.

      Second, I learned from being involved in hiring that there is virtually no penalty for being a run-of-the-mill bad applicant. Companies do not keep long lists of shitty prior applicants. People on the hiring committee don’t remember you by the time the next job is posted. If you do get blacklisted by a company during the hiring process, it’s because you were exceptionally terrible – like throwing-a-fit level bad – or exceptionally weird, like sending a cake with your face & resume printed on it. Just being a bad fit for a job is so, so unremarkable that no one cares.

      Third, I learned from being involved in hiring that the job posts are usually terrible (in my field). They are rarely accurate or focused on what the job actually needs. So there’s a good reason to treat job posting “requirements” as mere guidelines. There’s lots of reasons for this: hiring managers that are far removed from direct personnel and/or program management, so that they don’t actually know what the job requires but are the person with the decision power; miscommunication between a hiring manager and an HR person who posts the job; poor hiring policies; poor hiring practices.

      Fourth, I learned from being involved in the hiring process that, in my field, the people who make the hiring decision may not actually read (or even receive) the job posting at all. They are going to base their decisions or recommendations around their own personal understanding of the role instead. They put at least as much weight, if not more, on factors I have no insight on from the job post. This includes things like whether they like the school I went to, whether my career path is similar to their own or to their friends, and whether they consider me interesting based on my resume & cover letter.

      For example, I have definitely seen a real person on a real hiring committee recommend hiring somebody for a lab science, non-bread-related job because the applicant had listed an artisanal bread-making hobby that this hiring-committee person wanted to learn more about. This hiring committee guy was a bit of a loose cannon, but considered a respectable professional – and his input on the candidate was taken seriously by the hiring manager.

    14. Skippy*

      I find it interesting that how many job ads in my field include language in their job descriptions encouraging people to apply even if their resume isn’t a 100% match — and yet, when you see who they hire, it’s almost always someone who is a 100% match.

    15. Alternative Person*

      I definitely think that ‘negotiate’ and ‘apply for jobs where you have 80%’ are touted as solutions when it’s more overcoming one hurdle and now having to surmount another i.e. getting through the negotiation successfully and overcoming the interview where other biases are in play.

      I think there’s also a blind spot where women who get a promotion/big shot job have likely overcome more obstacles, visible and not than an equivalent man. It’s not enough for a woman to have the skills, temperament and knowledge, they have to pass a series of obstacles with rules that are opaque and always shifting.

  14. Noah*

    Turned in my notice yesterday, my last day at current job is April 21st. My boss’ response was “we will do anything to keep you, tell me what you need.” While that feels good, he can’t change the underlying issues and this isn’t about money, I’m taking a small cut for a new position at another company.

    I was approached today by someone in another department asking if I would be interested in a role there. I am, actually, really am. However, I have a lot of concerns. Just venting more than anything. I wasn’t expecting anything more than a usual counter-offer of more money or something. So now I’m back to decision making when I thought I had finished that for the moment.

    1. Anastia Beaverhousen*

      What are your concerns? Are they something that can be fixed or is a cultural problem at the company? Changing departments won’t change that.

    2. WellRed*

      You have a lot of concerns about the new department. Do you have a lot of concerns about the new company?

  15. Minji*

    I currently have a senior-level job at a large company that is prominent in my field. For personal family reasons, I’m going to be relocating to another country for six-ish months. I’ve secured a job that’s related to my field just to pay the bills while I’m there, but it is a big step down from my current job (opportunities to work in my field in that country are quite limited).

    However, I do hope to return to the US and return to a higher-paying, higher-level job when those six months are up. My question is: Should I put the six-month stint in this lower-level job on my resume, or will it make me look more junior than I am? Would it be better to just have a six-month gap on my resume and explain in the cover letter that I was traveling?

    1. OtterB*

      It depends on your field, I think, but possibly you could spin your experience in the other country as learning more about the field, broadening your understanding, etc.

    2. Water Lily*

      An excellent question. This happened to me once, but the step-down job was closer to a year. I think you’ve got a few options:

      Keep it on the resume. There’s bound to be something you get from this short-term job that contributes to your career/knowledge in some way.

      Keep it on the resume. Can you cast it as a “fellowship” or a sabbatical or “post-graduate study?” That could go a long way with prospective hiring managers.

      Keep on resume: You found a job in this field in a country where these sorts of opportunities are few and far between? Wow. You must be really smart.

      I feel like leaving it off invites questions about why you left your previous job or others may make some assumptions about taking 6 mos off just to travel.

      Hope you enjoy the six months!

    3. Mazey's Mom*

      How exciting! Use it to your advantage. I don’t think it would make you look more junior if you kept it on your resume and cover letter – it shows that you’re still committed to what you do, and that you’re building up skills in a related area. You’re now getting to see how people in this field operate in a different country, and you can take what you’ve learned to a new job when you get back to the US. Take the opportunity to network with others there. Maybe you become more fluent in a second language – if so, that could be attractive to an employer.

  16. SoVeryAnonForToday*

    What do you say to interviewers when you’ve been at your company a LONG time (15+ years, multiple promotions) and are looking for a new job because it’s apparent our current CEO is ruining the company and it’s not likely to be in business within two years? I’ve tried the “looking for new challenges” and “my growth path has reached its natural end at such a small firm” but those aren’t resonating well for some reason.

    1. Water Lily*

      This was me about 4 months ago. Don’t focus on where you’re leaving. Try focusing on how the job you’re applying for fits your skills. I said something like: “I saw this opportunity come up, and while I’ve done xyz in my career, I’d enjoy an opportunity to do it at a place where [the budgets might be bigger or the team is bigger or it’s a larger % of my job].

      1. SoVeryAnonForToday*

        Oh, thank you! This wording is great – and quite true in many cases because the roles I’m applying for feature more of what I’d like to do.

    2. Isben Takes Tea*

      “The company is moving in a different direction than what excited me in the past”? That could lead into talking about what excites you without necessarily disparaging your current environment.

    3. Glomarization, Esq.*

      “Taking the ‘W’ out of the sign on corporate HQ to make a highly public, crass joke was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me, so I’m looking to take my experience, connections, and skills elsewhere.”

    4. Random Dice*

      Take out the negative answers and focus on what excites you about the path forward or company or position.

    5. goddessoftransitory*

      They aren’t resonating because they know as well as you do that the truth is the firm is being ruined. What it comes down to is: is there any advantage for you in stating the actual reason clearly, or is it going to be screaming into the void at best or harmful to you at worst?

      If it’s either of the latter two, just stick with your replies and a bland smile. If you think saying it out loud might be the “resonance of a pistol shot” that could actually change something or give them something to back up their own conclusions, it might be worth it, if only to encourage other good employees to get out.

    6. irene adler*

      I’m curious: Why are you concluding that your responses are not ‘resonating well’?
      Do they ask follow-up questions that imply they don’t believe you?
      Or do you expect them to ask follow-up questions based on your response?
      It may be that this is a required question and they ask it, you respond and move on.

      Of course, it does not serve either party for you to state: “boss is tanking things”. Unless they are looking for gossip.

      As others have responded, frame your answer in terms of what attracts you to the position you are interviewing for (a growing company, opportunity, a chance to use certain skills, job aligns with your key interests, etc.).

      1. SoVeryAnonForToday*

        “Do they ask follow-up questions that imply they don’t believe you?”

        No, but they are in the tone of “why would you want to leave someplace that seems to have treated you very well and provided an upward growth path until now?” Their assumption seems to be that there’s still an upward growth path and why am I not going for it there. Except it’s the classic small company scenario – the next upward movement is likely my boss’s job and I don’t want it. I probably stayed here too long, but up until the last few months it’s been a wonderful place to work and an engaging and fulfilling job. I’m very sad to be in the position of actively seeking a new role.

        The industries I’m applying in are totally separate for my current one so I doubt it’s gossip they are looking for. Unless it’s the schaudenfraude type.

        I appreciate all the other comments and yours about focusing on what interests me about the positions I’m interviewing for – it’s an good pivot that keeps the conversation positive.

        1. Jinni*

          Can you just say that? I once had a job where the general counsel and associate general counsel had been there 20 years. (Just googled it and they’re at 35!). Anyway, there’s no upward trajectory at all unless someone dies or retires. That’s not a career plan.

    7. Venus*

      “I’m looking for more stability” is often a good expression. I have coworkers who said it when they moved from high-paid contracting “I’m looking for the stability of a salaried position”, and others when they left financially unstable places “I’m looking for stability with a larger company that has more options for my growth”. You can then talk about what you most like about the new workplace. “I’m looking for stability with a larger company with steady leadership” might be too pointed but stability is a phrase that has broad meaning that doesn’t necessarily imply something negative, and it is a very understandable desire.

  17. Hello!*

    I asked a similar question a few weeks ago but somehow everyone’s answers sparked a discussion with coworkers; hence a follow up

    Has anyone worked with a “problem” employee. After they left (fired or resigned) you realized it wasn’t the employee but something with the company…. Training, management etc.

    here’s the twist to my question has former coworkers/ supervisors ever said (unofficially) it was us not problem employee or wow problem employee did more than we realized. Just curious.

    1. Glazed Donut*

      I have worked with someone who was okay-ish to work with. She didn’t have a great attitude, yelled at children a lot as a baseline communication style (we were in education), and milked alllll her sick days she had saved up to the point she worked 4 day weeks for the final months of the school year.
      After she left, I think there was a realization about how management & the system enabled her poor behavior. They tried to have one tough conversation with her, it didn’t go well, and they never tried again.
      I have never worked in a place where someone left on bad terms and the others believed it was their fault, not the employee’s. I DO think that’s wishful thinking from an employee who wants to leave though!

      1. Samwise*

        If she earned those sick days, she didn’t milk them. They are part of her compensation.

        I know that’s not your point, but this is a pet peeve…employees earn sick days and are entitled to use them, subject to supervisor approval generally. Taking sick days, even if it makes life difficult for the rest of the staff, is not poor behavior. Not having enough staff to cover for sick employers is bad behavior on the part of the employer.

        1. Glazed Donut*

          True! It’s more of a problem with being able to roll over months of sick leave over time in an industry that doesn’t flex well when someone is sick (teachers covering the class each week during limited planning time instead of hiring a sub–an admin problem). And then the abuse of sick leave when she wasn’t sick– plans laid out ahead of time + the last-minute call in.

        2. Venus*

          It depends what Glazed Donut meant by milking them. Sick days are meant for sick employees, but it sounds like she might have been using them as vacation. I have coworkers who used them almost like vacation days and that is aggravating to the rest of us, particularly when we had generous PTO.

          1. Katy*

            Teachers get hardly any PTO, though – I think it’s like three or four personal days a year? So there’s definitely an incentive to use sick days as time off.

    2. Ama*

      My finance department has had six employees leave in a year (there are only three employees in the entire department plus the department head who has been there almost 20 years). Most of the people who left were definitely struggling with the work (lots of mistakes, missed payments, sending out payments went from taking two weeks to almost six, etc.) but after about the third one left it became pretty clear to me that the department is both understaffed (they probably need twice the employees they have) and that the department head isn’t giving them enough training (to be fair, she’s had a number of personal life crises in the last year and is both in and out of the office a lot and very distracted). One of the six employees who left (last summer) was the only other long-time employee in that department and it has become very clear since she left that she was what was making the department function as well as it had for so long.

      The most recent one lasted two months and while he was definitely a problem — he would announce his plan to fix a problem without actually getting all the context (sometimes it wasn’t even a problem, he just hadn’t read the relevant info in his own files), I don’t know how long senior management is going to just keep throwing new employees into a no-win situation before they realize the department manager is a big part of the problem. (And again, I’m sympathetic, but she seems like she’s drowning and they are handing her a half-inflated pool toy.)

    3. Snarky McSnarkerson*

      We’ve actually had the opposite problem. Several staff members that we thought were star employees left and it was only then that we discovered how much they were NOT doing.

      1. JustaTech*

        Oh my goodness this. While my in-laws were getting their business ready to sell their longest-term employee, the general manager quit (in a huff). So my MIL comes out of retirement to clean up his files and processes only to discover that the GM hadn’t been doing a lot of the things he was supposed to do (and had hoarded away from the other employees), but because my MIL was retired and my FIL had checked out they hadn’t noticed.
        Thankfully nothing catastrophic, but a lot of work to clean up. (We also learned that some of it wasn’t really his fault, he’d been poorly trained decades before by someone who also didn’t really know what they were doing.)

    4. Gyne*

      Honestly, no – if anything my experience has always been the opposite. After Problem Employee left we have a period of realization of “holy guacamole, I knew they were bad but didn’t think it was THIS bad!”

    5. Hazmat Crew*

      I’ve been living through this since the only other person with my role on my team quit suddenly. Now she was definitely pert of the problem — not following and circumventing important processes, taking over parts of the job herself that are supposed to be done by management, and generally making up her own rules. She got away with it for so long because 1) she could pull together a good final product and 2) management are desperate not to do the hard parts of their job and never fire anyone. BUT in trying to take over her work and talking with her supervisor the rest of us helping realized she had been almost completely unsupervised and really had been ALLOWED to go rogue — of course supervisor is scapegoating her but he was actively not doing his job. Turns out he’s secretly job hunting himself and has been completely checked out for quite some time.

    6. Charlotte Lucas*

      I’m pretty sure I was the problem employee at my last job. But it had more to do with the fact that I had a gatekeeping role & management didn’t like being made to follow proper procedure or federal compliance. And standing up for myself & coworkers also did not win me any awards. (But I was able to convince them not to enact a severe paycut that would have lost them a significant number of experienced staff.)

      I am sure there are people who still think I was terrible, but I know the people who understood my unique role thought I was great at it. And my current employer definitely appreciates me.

    7. Alternative Person*

      Having likely been that ‘problem’ employee, I hope so, but I doubt it.

      My manager liked me because I produced ‘high’ achieving clients but didn’t understand that my clients were only high achieving in comparison to my peers and their clients. Management didn’t like that I would often in their opinion ‘slow track’ my clients, not realizing the ‘slow track’ was what made my clients so good, so they’d move my clients to other staff who would try to ‘fast track’ them only for the clients to hit a wall hard, usually within 6 months- a year. Any attempt to explain this, offer training, materials, etc. was shot down both by management and direct peers.

      I know I wasn’t popular and was bad mouthed very strongly by a lot of people behind my back. The only saving grace was a junior manager at a sub branch who (mostly) listened to me and my recommendations and one junior peer who went on to get a qualification at my suggestion, but the whole industry has a standards/training/mindset problem that is going to take years just to make people realize (admit), let alone fix.

  18. irene adler*

    Just a vent over the new California law that requires businesses to post the hiring salary ranges in the job ad.

    Sure, I love the concept.

    However, I think businesses are maliciously complying by posting salary ranges that are so wide they don’t mean anything. Result: I’m not sure what to make of them. Average the high and low figures?

    Bad Examples for biotech:

    $56K to $153K (yes, nearly a $100K difference!)
    $73K to $140K
    $49K to $89K (This one is almost reasonable-if they stick to the high end of the range.)
    $18 to $32 per hour

    Good Examples for biotech:
    $70K to $80K
    $120K to $160K

    Guess it’s better than nothing.

    1. Some words*

      This has been brought up before and I seem to recall it had to do with the wide range of applicant skill/degree/experience levels. Someone with X years under their belt in the field can command a much higher salary than someone less experienced, though both may be able to do the job.

      But yeah, not really helpful.

      1. KatieKat*

        Well presumably, for a given open role, they do have SOME idea of whether they want a new grad vs. someone with 10 years experience. They’re hiring for specific work that needs to be done.

        Where I’ve seen it get tricky from the hiring side is remote hiring. My company hires anywhere in the US, and customizes the salary band based on local market rate (then places the candidate within that range based on individual experience/skillset, with regular reviews of both the bands and the employee’s performance). But that can mean we would consider a candidate in New York (band $130-140k) or Atlanta (band $70-90k) for the same role. Effectively making the range for the role itself $70-140k. (Inventing those specific numbers but they’re plausible based on what I’ve seen. And, based on current policy we would equally consider the two candidates and not weigh the higher salary as a factor.)

      2. RagingADHD*

        The company knows whether they have budgeted $56k or $153k for a role, or they wouldn’t be able to stay in business. If you’re looking at applicants with that wide a range of skill, you’re hiring for 2 different roles.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Yeah, some of the ranges are ridiculous. I saw a posting for Netflix that was $100k to $500k. That said, I agree it’s better than nothing, as you still get some sense of what they’re looking for, and they can’t claim that the high end of the range is out of their budget (they can claim you don’t qualify for it, but they’d have to make that case, as opposed to “We just don’t have the money”).

      1. mreasy*

        That said, I just applied for a job with a $50k range, which was set up like that because it was a new role with flexibility based on the candidate’s seniority and breadth of experience. I know the top of the range was legit because that is what I was offered.

      2. Here for the updates.*

        The law in NY states that it must be a “good faith” statement of the salary which is supposed to cut down on the ridiculous ranges, but it seems like the law overall isn’t being enforced much yet.

    3. Glomarization, Esq.*

      I think there’s some malicious compliance, but I also think that it can be simply honest, if lazy. The remuneration for one job title really can range $100,000 from lowest to highest, based on any number of factors. A company might clarify and multiply its job titles so that you get a narrower range of possible pay for a particular job. But that takes effort, and not every company has the resources or interest to break down its salary structure to the point where it looks like grading for U.S. federal government pay bands.

      But I’m a person who generally infers laziness, ignorance, etc., before inferring maliciousness.

    4. Other Alice*

      The EU is doing something similar. I’ve had a chance to look at it in action as I was helping a friend with their job search. My current thought is also “better than nothing”… At least I can weed out companies whose range is way below what I’m currently making, or I can mention from the start that I’d need the top end of their range and ask if it still makes sense to talk.

      I just don’t see a way to force companies to be reasonable about it, if they don’t plan to. Which at least tells me something about those companies.

      1. Cei*

        I’m in an EU country where most industries habe binding collective bargaining agreements, so a lot job postings just mention the minimum sallery as per collective bargaining agreement (which is public information) and that they’re also willing to pay more.

    5. VP of Monitoring Employees’ LinkedIn and Indeed Profiles*

      At least they’re not saying “applications not accepted from California, Colorado, or NYC residents” as some employers have done.

      1. Anecdata*

        Yeah, I am in Colorado and it’s… maybe better than nothing. I would say ~1/2 of local job postings I look at include a range now (there is no enforcement for jobs that don’t). It has been more helpful for getting a sense of what market rate in general is, rather than knowing for specific jobs

        The other thing I warn folks to watch out for is, Colorado’s law at least requires companies to post their MINIMUM range, not their good-faith estimate of what the max they would pay is

    6. Hlao-roo*

      Malicious compliance them back? If you apply and get a phone screen and the HR person asks what salary range you’re looking for, say “I’m looking for something in the $130k – $150k range and I was so excited to see this posting was right in line with that!” (Whatever the top $20K of the range on the job ad is.)

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Yeah, they can’t say you’re ridiculous for asking for $500k if that’s part of the listed range.

          1. irene adler*

            Hope not.

            A few years ago, a recruiter got offended when I responded similarly after he’d revealed the hiring salary range. He explained that this is the reason he doesn’t like to divulge salary ranges. Everyone asks for the top end. Further, the top end is for someone who exceeds all of the job description requirements.

            (spoiler alert: I did not advance in the hiring process)

            Which got me wondering: if someone exceeded the job description requirements, shouldn’t they aim higher than this position?

            1. Anonymous Educator*

              He explained that this is the reason he doesn’t like to divulge salary ranges. Everyone asks for the top end.

              He needs to get over it. I used to be a teacher. Every student wanted an A. If you can’t explain why the student didn’t earn it (and what they need to do to get there), that’s on you. If a recruiter can’t explain what type of candidate gets the lower end of the range, what type gets the middle of the range, and what type gets the upper end of the range; that recruiter needs to start doing their job better.

            2. The New Wanderer*

              Offended is such a weird reaction – it’s not the recruiter’s money and if giving a range where part of it is just plain out of reach for 99% of candidates, then isn’t that on the recruiter for making it sound reachable?

              Seems much more reasonable to say “the range is $50 – 150k, with most offers starting at the lower end of the range but with room to grow in the role over time. Rarely, exceptional candidates could start near the top of the range.” Or, you know, give the typical starting salary range and not the entire position range (as Netflix and others have done).

    7. Donner*

      I wonder what those roles are. The pay bands for the engineering companies that I have always worked at are similar. Each pay band has a corresponding number years experience, but 10 years experience that includes lead roles or program management roles will command a higher salary than someone with 10 years of individual contributor roles. Most people will hire into the lower 1/3-1/2 of the payband. For biotech scientists, I’m sure it’s similar.

    8. goddessoftransitory*

      At least the malicious compliers are kind of outing themselves? When you see that spread in the initial posting you know they’re going to yank your chain and lowball you right out of the gate, so why bother applying?

      1. irene adler*

        See, that’s my thought too. They want to pay the lowest end of the range. You gotta have 100 years experience and three Ph.D.s to score the top end salary range.

        But $49K and $56K is mighty hard to live on in San Diego (as is the $18 to $32 per hour wage).

        I should note these are positions for 0-6 years experience in Quality Assurance (specialist, quality engineer, etc.). Prefer a bachelor’s degree. Then a long list of bullet points outlining the job description. The higher salary is for a manager position.

    9. Bar Manager*

      Seeing as how, in general, the nonexempt minimum wage for salaried employees in the state of CA is $64,480 I’d say 49K is not only not good, it’s explicitly illegal.

      1. Donner*

        That’s the minimum exempt salary, not the minimum non-exempt salary. OP didn’t say whether those were exempt or non-exempt jobs.

        1. irene adler*

          Oh- you are correct. My bad.
          My ‘assumptions’:
          if an annual salary is indicated = exempt.
          if an hourly wage is indicated = non-exempt.

          FYI: the job descriptions aren’t indicating exempt/non-exempt.

    10. jackers*

      My company is doing the ridiculous ranges and here is why/how:

      We have job grades like A, B, C, D, but they use those some grades across different roles and the pay range can vary based on the role. So, for example:

      Admin role, grade B: Range of $35K – $50K
      Supply chain role, grade B: Range of $45K – $65K
      Engineering role, grade B: Range of $65K – $80K

      In postings, ANY job that gets posted that is a grade B gets the full range, regardless of the role, so in the above example it will show a salary range of $35K – $80K.

      I don’t agree with it and think it’s a ridiculous and useless way to comply, but I have no standing to change it (not in an HR related role at all).

  19. Title Conundrum*

    How do you handle title realignments on a resume?

    A previous company had a simple system of titles and numbers when I was hired, so for instance llama groomers would be Llama Groomer I through Llama Groomer VI. But then it got bought by another company with more granular title changes from level to level, so I went from from Llama Groomer IV to Chief Llama Groomer I. This looks like a promotion when I note both titles on my resume, when it actually was just a change to the new equivalent title.

    How else could I handle this? I’m in an industry where new jobs sometimes involve background checks, so I’m nervous about listing only the second title for the job.

    1. SereneScientist*

      If it’s too cumbersome to try to detail this in your resume, I’m sure you could speak to the recruiter or hiring manager to explain and perhaps even have them add a note in your candidate file!

    2. Hlao-roo*

      One way to do it is to list all of your accomplishments/duties under both job titles, which will make it seem more like they are equivalent. For example:

      The Llama Company (formerly Llamas, Inc.) 2017 – present
      Chief Llama Groomer I 2023 – present
      Llama Groomer IV 2019 – 2023
      Llama Groomer III 2017 – 2019

    3. Donner*

      Put both titles on your resume:
      Llamas R US 2017-current
      Chief Llama Groomer I 2020-current
      Llama Groomer IV 2017-2020

      or if your activities were the same,
      Llamas R US 2017-current
      Chief Llama Groomer I 2020-current
      Llama Groomer IV 2017-2020

    4. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

      I have a similar problem, which is that my companies all seem to go through acquisitions, mergers, and rebrandings every 2 years, plus which I change or add a title or seniority level every couple years, plus which I often have multiple titles at the same time, and titles get added, changed, and removed every couple of years. So pretty much every year for the last 13 years, there’s been a change in company name, job title(s), or both. Including all of that detail feels like clutter, but pretending I had the same title at the same company for 6 years feels dishonest.

      Furthermore, I took a little less than a year off for FMLA (but did help with one project partway through because no one else knew how to do it), then came back to the same company, and worked part time and gradually ramped up my hours over the course of the next year. I don’t consider that I lost significant skills or experience during those ten months of mostly not working, I was still reading Slack and sort of following along with what was happening, occasionally commenting or answering a question (of my own free will), I kept all my access and my company-provided 401k account, etc., and I was fully planning to come back…so it doesn’t feel like a “year off” to me, the way it would if I had quit and not started a new job. Is it ethical to just list six years of continuous employment at this company, even if one year was minimal work and one was half-time?

      1. Plantfan*

        Theon, you were still employed during the leave, so I wouldn’t call it out on a resume.

    5. Buffy*

      I would use whichever title you prefer or makes the most sense within the structure of your previous positions and do either

      Llama Groomer IV (now Chief Llama Groomer I) OR Chief Llama Groomer I (Formerly Llama Groomer IV)

  20. Rachael*

    I am currently 20 weeks pregnant for a 30 person nonprofit that offers NO paid maternity leave in NYC. I want to try to negotiate with my boss to get some paid time off as part of my leave. Any tips for how others have done this? Scripts? Advice for having the conversation? He is not the most…. sympathetic, and I know that he is annoyed that I will be taking leave, but I am going forward. I am also the first person at this company to take maternity leave, and so there is no precedent of anyone doing this before. Based on speaking to my colleagues in non-profits, 30 days paid seems to be the norm, but welcome any advice about how to do this (email? Let me know what I am asking before a meeting?). I want to make a strong argument, and he has said in the past he thinks its terrible how we treat maternal healthcare but has not made any effort to make our company better. Any advice welcome!

    1. Anony for This*

      Do you have any PTO you can use (sick and vacation, say?). My nonprofit also has no mat leave, just FMLA, which I believe is unpaid (?) so not that helpful, but I might be able to request some pay during FMLA if I have exhausted my own paid leave first.

      1. Rachael*

        We are actually too small for FMLA to apply but we have unpaid medical leave for 3 months. I will have a few weeks of paid leave and am hoping to be able to roll over some additional time as well. Thanks for your response!

    2. corner piece*

      You are probably eligible for New York State Paid Family Leave, which covers 66% of your salary (up to some cap) for 12 weeks. Do you think you could ask your org to top that off so you get your full salary for that time? If you want to ask for more, ask for some period of time paid (maybe 4 weeks) BEFORE you take the 12 NYSPFL leave.

      1. Rachael*

        Thank you! That is pretty much what I am going to advocate for at this point (and if they do not let me, request to have my extra vacation time roll over so that I can use that and then take the NY State leave.) Fingers crossed for some type of paid time off!

    3. BadCultureFit*

      Make it a reputation issue. Organizations NEED to be current on the latest thinking about parental leaves; don’t they want to be known in your field for being employee-friendly?

      Related: my god, 30 days paid is NOTHING. I’ve taken two maternity leaves in NYC, one nonprofit and one not, and both were significantly bigger than that. Please ask for more.

  21. rr*

    Any recommendations for a SQL class online where I can actually practice SQL with defined exercises (I wouldn’t mind an Excel recommendation either)? I started (auditing for free) a Coursea course, but it was pretty theoretical and for me, theoretical stuff for computer work isn’t helpful unless I can practice too. Watching videos doesn’t work for me either. I would (obviously) prefer free, but can do (very) low cost. The course I was doing is no longer available (the link is broken).

    1. Isben Takes Tea*

      It’s been a year, so I can’t find which one I used exactly, but there are a lot of similar inexpensive ($20-30) courses on Udemy. You might have to research into the descriptions and reviews to find the one that best fits your interests, but many come with downloadable sample databases and exercises.

    2. Lady Alys*

      There’s a YouTuber who teaches Excel at a community college somewhere in the US and has essentially his entire course offerings on YT, along with files to download and use as you work along with him. He goes from really basic Excel 101 up to all sort of statistical/financial stuff, plus PowerQuery/Power BI. His YT handle is ExcelIsFun. He’s been at it for a while, so some of his earlier videos are a bit rough, but he doesn’t go too fast and he gives keyboard shortcuts (yay!) whenever he can.

    3. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

      There’s a developer that I started following on YouTube who goes by the name of Amigoscode. I started to follow him when I needed to get spun back up on Java and also learn about Spring and Spring Boot in a hurry. I think his videos are very good, and he definitely has some on SQL and Postgres. He’s good about talking you through installs and explaining concepts, and you can work along with his videos so you’re not just watching.

    4. Rachel*

      Does it need to be a course? I found the book ‘SQL for Mere Mortals’ to be very clear with lots of practice problems. I have seen PDFs of the book floating around online.

    5. Toasty*

      For Excel, I found to be very helpful, especially for learning VBA. I also second PollyQ’s recommendation for SQL resources.

  22. Glazed Donut*

    How do you manage someone who is hitting the data marks but is negatively impacting the rest of the team with her perceived faults/anxieties/lack of trust?
    The rest of the team is smooth sailing, moving when the work gets hard and helping each other out. And then there’s Sam, who tries to do 3x the workload, doesn’t ask for help, tries to instead overextend herself and help others…when pointed out to her, she says she’s misunderstood, she won’t help anyone anymore (very black/white thinking), and generally lacks reflection. Can you force someone to reflect?

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Why does she think she’s misunderstood? That’s worth exploring there.

      Perhaps there is a difference between how she sees the team’s goals/values/workflows and how everybody else does. Perhaps she’s not aware of the tools (physical, digital, or mental) that others are using to accomplish these tasks.

      I don’t know that you can make somebody more reflective, but you can point out to her that what she is currently doing is not working, and that she needs to bring her attitude and workflow more in line with what the rest of the team does. This needs to be a serious conversation, not just a “oh, by the way” conversation. You need to point out the change you need to see and the consequences that will happen if you don’t see it. You can offer some strategies for changing it, but the responsibility for change is ultimately on her.

      1. Glazed Donut*

        She will say “You don’t understand me. You haven’t known me for that long, which is fine.” When I say “Help me understand” or “What am I missing?” her response is “I’ve already said too much” and she essentially shuts down. Probing questions to understand are met with “I knew you’d ask questions” and an eye roll and comment that she’s being treated like a child.
        Probably worth exploring making team goals/expectations and tools more explicit on a regular basis. Thanks!

    2. Somehow_I_Manage*

      In this case, Sam needs more attention. You need to be part of the process and create a space where you can reflect together and reinforce good judgement in real time.

      Ideally, this looks like a weekly meeting where you ask Sam to bring an agenda reviewing how she plans to spend her time this week, and listing any questions she has and resources she needs. You then step through them one by one, and you say: “Sam, this plan is too ambitious, I don’t want you to overextend. Let’s prioritize this, and I’m going to take some off your plate and assign the remainder to David.” You can also be helpful: “The train depot project is going to be tricky- please schedule a meeting with to Chris to download her lessons learned on a similar project. You can update me at our next meeting.”

      This may feel like micromanagement- but it’s the opposite. It’s just management at the interval she needs. By consolidating it into a standing meeting- you’re giving her the structure to engage your support regularly (and also limiting your need to be available at any moment).

    3. Cyndi*

      Is “needs more self reflection” approximately the feedback you’re giving to Sam directly? Because there was a conversation around here recently–I forget what post, sorry–about how people often find feedback like “think about how you’re coming across to others” frustrating and unhelpful without more specifics.

      You say “the rest of the team is helping each other” (positive) but Sam “tries to help others” (negative); would it be useful to work on clarifying the distinction between helping and overreaching? Because you can certainly coach her on that, and asking for help in return, and managing her own workload wisely, which are the concrete issues you’ve named. But I’m not sure if “reflection” is coachable, or the best angle to look at the problem from.

      1. Glazed Donut*

        The feedback she has received has been about proactive communication more than anything. She had an heated comment in a group meeting that left another colleague in tears, with Sam sharing assumptions/jumping to conclusions (“we’re all going to lose our jobs!” with zero evidence to support that).
        Sam tried to help someone else (without asking if she needed to help, or the other person asking for help) and as a result missed a big meeting. She didn’t understand why it wasn’t ok to miss the meeting since she was “helping” someone else (who didn’t need help!). She agreed to ask next time but with a bit of hesitation (‘I’m an adult, I shouldn’t have to ask’).
        We’ve had a few moments where I may say, “Sam, when you did X, Y happened as a result” or “When you said A, I understood that to mean AA” and instead of considering different ways the situation could have gone, or how to approach the next fork in the road, she locks up and said “just tell me what to do.” We work with the public and not everything is clear cut. What I’d like to see–and what the rest of the team does–is replies with “Oh, I didn’t mean it to come off that way/didn’t want that to happen/didn’t think about it like that” and as part of this reflection, improves for the next time. It could be reflection…or accountability the more I think about it.

        1. A Frayed Knot*

          “She didn’t understand why it wasn’t ok to miss the meeting since she was “helping” someone else (who didn’t need help!). She agreed to ask next time but with a bit of hesitation (‘I’m an adult, I shouldn’t have to ask’).” Her coworker is also presumably is an adult who deserves the common courtesy of being asked if help is needed.

          “she locks up and said “just tell me what to do.”” Classic misdirection. I don’t want to tell you what to do, I want you to learn what to do. Here are some ideas…what else comes to your mind?

    4. Serenity by Jan*

      TL;DR based on my experience – depends on the person.

      I had a direct report with some similarities, particularly the black / white way of thinking. He enjoyed the technical part of the job and was a team player, so sometimes he would spend too much time helping out a colleague with a technical problem to the detriment of his other tasks. We are in a client facing role and his soft skills and situational awareness were definitely lacking. He reported to me for almost four years. He became very difficult to manage towards the end and I really tried to help him by trying to line up a mentor and soft skill training but it all fell flat. Any coaching I gave him went in one ear and out the other. He had a lot of talent, but in the end I told senior management he needed to change roles since consulting was not a fit for him. He resigned instead and I was so relieved.

      OTOH, there was someone in my group that also shared the traits of the person you are describing and she did turn it around (before I was managing the group and she was a colleague). It took our former manager to get very tough and direct with her to the point she cried, but it was exactly what she needed and she truly reflected and changed. This person was early career and still moldable, the guy I dealt with was mid-career and too set in his ways. Rigid was the word many people used to describe him.

      Good luck – high-maintenance direct reports take up a lot of time to just manage.

  23. Still Outraged, But Relieved*

    I posted in the thread last week about my company’s owners distributing political propaganda for an extremely right-wing candidate in an upcoming election. Everybody advised me to continue my job search and not quit until I found something else, but… I quit.

    I took the weekend to sleep on it and decided that for the sake of my mental health, I couldn’t stay. This incident was one in a string of similar BS I’d been experiencing throughout my entire time here, and after this I couldn’t compartmentalize it anymore.

    The day I gave my notice was the first time in years that I had been in a good mood on my way into work. And after giving notice I felt extremely relieved. It’s not just that working here has been unpleasant for me, but also that I’ve felt like I have no integrity for working for people who are so actively involved in conservative causes/politics that actively harm vulnerable communities, including my own. I don’t think I had realized how much guilt I’ve been carrying around about that until it was gone.

    I know I’ll be stressed out about money until I find a new job, but I did already get one freelance project through a family connection that should take care of my bills for the next month. I’m very lucky that I have a decent amount of savings and I work in a field where freelance work is abundant, so I was able to do this for myself.

    1. Forrest Rhodes*

      Congratulations, Still Outraged. Yes, it’s scary to take step like that—but oh, wow, there’s nothing quite as great as that feeling of relief when you know your time in the hellhole is just about ended. Also, with your savings as a cushion, AND the fact that you’ve already had a good freelance project appear?
      Yeah, good on ya, and I’m happy for you.

    2. OtterB*

      Good for you. Wishing you the best.

      I don’t think anyone but the person in the job can weigh those intangible tradeoffs. Years ago, my husband was considering leaving a job that had some good things about it and also some toxic qualities. He asked me what I thought, and I said that other things being equal I preferred stability (he’d had several short prior stints through no fault of his own – contracts canceled, etc.) but if it became a soul-sucking slog then it wasn’t worth it.

    3. RagingADHD*

      If this is the one I recall, I think several people, including myself, were only trying to talk you out of quitting because you said you wanted to be talked out of it.

      It’s a good way to get clarity about what matters to you, to hear all the arguments one way and then decide if it really changes anything for you. It didn’t, so you had clarity.

      Good luck, and I hope you find something great very fast.

  24. Anony for This*

    Dicey situation at work. My former boss (the ED of our nonprofit) resigned and went to work for a closely-aligned organization. She is happy because she gets to do the parts she liked but not fundraise. Bully for her. However, the new org is so closely aligned that we still end up working together a fair amount, and I think she conveniently forgets that our interests aren’t perfectly aligned anymore. She still wants to be involved in some work our org does that really doesn’t make sense in her new role, but she’s hoping we can pay for this. I don’t think it’s appropriate. She quit and she should hand off this work now, IMO, or wind it down. She makes us look bad by approaching our funders but with a new org and I worry they might start funding them instead of us. I also don’t want to have to fundraise for her at her new org (through shared grants) when we’re going to need money to replace her in our org. This is all uncomfortable because she still feels like my boss to me, and probably to her too. Help??

    1. OtterB*

      Who is acting in the ED role at your org? Or do you have a good relationship with someone on your board? It seems like those are decisions to be made at the top of your organization (and soon).

      1. Sloanicota*

        The acting ED was her second in command so I feel like she’s in the exact same boat of a) not being used to telling this person what to do and b) hoping we will eventually hire someone whose problem this will become later, so not a ton of incentive to deal with it now.

    2. Anastia Beaverhousen*

      She’s NOT your boss now. You don’t have to help her unless someone in your organization tells you to. Talk to who took over her role and express your concerns.

    3. Sloanicota*

      In these situations, I like to talk about the “endgame” – clearly here the end game is to get this person off this project and replace them with a new person, so let’s collectively vision what that looks like in the next six months to a year – this should establish better shared expectations.

      1. Nope.*

        I’m confused, you added details above like you’re the original commenter, but this is advice to them as well?

        1. Sloanicota*

          Ha that is confusing – no, I know the other commenter, she’s my old coworker. I’m the one who told her about this site! We were talking about her post in slack.

  25. mrs. f*

    I had a promising first interview this week for a position that I would likely take (as long as no red flags appear in the interview process) if offered. Salary-wise, it’s a lateral move, but the work itself and company culture/work-life balance seem much more in line with what I’m looking for than my current position.

    Prior to interviewing, I had asked for a raise. My boss approved it, and it needs to be approved by our CFO to take effect. Our CFO is notoriously tight-fisted and my boss talking to them about a raise for me is him expending a considerable amount of political capital – which would be at least partially presented as a retention incentive (we’ve had a lot of turnover in the past 2 years and I know my boss doesn’t want to lose me). The thing is, even if my raise is approved, I’d still take the other job if offered, even though it pays less.

    However if the other job doesn’t move forward, I would want a raise. I’m feeling torn because I have a great relationship with my boss, and I worry it would go south if I left shortly after receiving a raise, but I’m not ready to tell him I’m interviewing either. Is there a good way to manage this?

    1. Fabulous*

      Go forward with the raise in your current position as planned, then if the other job pans out, I think Alison’s suggested this language in the past, “I know the timing is poor, but this other opportunity fell in my lap and I just can’t pass it up.”

    2. Still*

      I feel like you just have to wait and see how this shakes out. You might not get the job, or the raise may never go through so you don’t want to say anything that might lead to you getting stuck with nothing.

      If you get the raise and then the job offer immediately afterwards, you can be honest about it: you interviewed for the job before the raise came through and you’ve realised it’s an opportunity you can’t pass up. If your boss is reasonable, he’s not going to hold it against you.

      And if he’s smart, he’s going to use it as an argument with the CEO not to drag his feet because it costs the company good people. That’s why you need to pay people well before they have a foot out the door.

  26. Cici*

    I have such a lame question… I work at a small non-profit and once a week complete accounts payable and receivable. Usually I have to go to the bank to make a deposit. The bank is a 10-minute walk from the office. I HATE walking, especially in the summer. I have feet/leg problems and if it’s above 60 degrees I sweat like a pig. I could always take the deposit home with me and then drive it to a different location but I don’t know how to bring it up.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Lots of cash, or mostly just checks?

      If the latter, I think you’d be ok just flat-out asking “Hey, can I put this in the night depository on my drive home?” But if you’re depositing a lot of cash, I think they might have concerns about that.

      For context, I ran a wine bar/retail establishment and made deposit runs twice a week. Usually late at night.

      1. Agile Phalanges*

        If their concerns are about OP potentially stealing, there are measures they could put into place to counteract or at least detect it. (Multiple people count prior to deposit, receipt and then bank statement show that same amount was deposited.)

        If their concerns are more about theft FROM OP, then that may be harder to talk them out of.

        OP, could you drive the deposit to that branch, even if it’s close? If people give you a hard time, just explain that you have health issues that prevent walking (at all, or in hot temps, or whatever you want to say).

    2. rr*

      I don’t think this is a lame question. What I would want to know is why you think you can’t bring it up or uncomfortable bringing it up? If you have feet/leg problems, maybe that falls under ADA? I’m just speculating here. But I think most banks now can do remote deposits with a small machine attached to a computer (we have one where I work) and I’m pretty sure it doesn’t cost anything. Sometimes somebody will still have to go to the bank if there is a problem with a check, but I don’t see why this should have to be an issue with all the technology available now.

        1. rr*

          I get that, unfortunately. There are year-end cleaning up tasks that are part of my job, but that physically I really, really shouldn’t be doing. But it is too embarrassing usually for me to say anything because the people I work with are not pleasant about anybody having any sort of difference. The same where you work? This is why I asked about why. I’m job-hunting, so something maybe for you to think about too? It shouldn’t be uncomfortable, though maybe I’m idealizing.

      1. Agile Phalanges*

        Yes, we have the desktop deposit machine, and I think we had to pay a couple hundred dollars (refundable if/when we return it, I believe) for it, but it’s pretty reasonable. You can’t use it to deposit cash, of course, but if OP’s deposits are mainly checks, that could be a great solution, and more secure for the company, too.

    3. Sloanicota*

      That’s funny, I had a comment above that’s kind of similar. I wonder if this has become a new issue with remote work or something. Every nonprofit I’ve worked with has a banking partner that isn’t very convenient, with only a few locations that aren’t by my house, too.

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*

        From my experience (accountant) this is less of an issue with remote work and more of an issue where small businesses don’t plan for all the tiny little things that come up on their admin side. Most SB owners I’ve met are pretty good at their actual business, but are weak with finance/accounting/IT/HR/admin

        1. Ama*

          I think it’s also that small businesses don’t always get good deals/support from their bank, either. I’m at a smallish nonprofit and there are so many financial processes that are more complicated than they need to be to try to avoid paying a lot of fees to our bank and they don’t provide us with good customer service either (last year on three different occasions they canceled a payment we had sent without telling us they had done so and can’t/won’t explain why). I’ve been pointing out for years that it might be worth shopping around to see if we can get something better elsewhere but I’m not actually in the finance department so no one wants to listen to me.

    4. One HR Opinion*

      I’d start by just asking – Hey boss, I was thinking, it would be more convenient and comfortable for me to do the deposit at the end of the day and take to xyz bank location on my way home. Does that work for you?

      Assuming you mean 10 minutes one way, that’s not a “short” walk for many people and worth asking about.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Yes, a twenty minute walk in hot weather, or rain or snow for that matter, is asking a lot.

        I really don’t think anyone would even blink if you drove or arranged an after work deposit, or even leaving, say fifteen minutes early on deposit day.

    5. Snarky McSnarkerson*

      I agree that this is not a lame question. Is there a more junior person there who’s into fitness? Once you prepare the deposit, send them to the bank. I would approach with the boss as if this is just a small change because it’s physically uncomfortable for you to make the walk. You could even offer this as a second option if they don’t want to allow you to make the deposit on the way home. You don’t have to disclose any diagnosis, just let them know that while you CAN do it, you would just rather not.

      1. Cici*

        We’re a 3-person org, so there’s no one else who would do it (other than the ED). But, I like the phrasing – I CAN do it but I would rather not, and there’s no reason to not make the change.
        I also don’t mind it when it’s cooler and I can stand being outside for longer, but it was 84 degrees this week!!

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I FEEL you. I have bad swelling in my feet and ankles and in hot weather I look like I have two fire hoses for legs. Walking is–not fun.

    6. Twisted Lion*

      When I did the checks for our non-profit people would make the deposits on their way home for the day and just bring back the deposit slip the next day. I dont see why they would have any problem with you doing this.

    7. Well That's Fantastic*

      Could you frame it as a safety/security concern? I would feel very uncomfortable talking a 10-minute walk anywhere with a large cash deposit to make.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        If they for some reason object to her driving (which: why?) this is exactly the argument I would make as well! Hell, it may even interfere with any insurance they have covering theft if the situation was seen as asking her to do something risky when an alternative existed.

    8. Random Dice*

      This may be the only usage of the word “lame” as a pejorative that’s actually kind of appropriate?

      (I’m disabled and still really struggling with getting this word out of my vocabulary – does anyone have a better word?)

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        I took this as a pun!

        I like “inane” as an alternative. (I am not disabled but enough people around me have winced at “lame” that now I wince too.)

  27. Mimmy*

    Networking question: I reached out to someone in my desired field (related to postsecondary education, non-faculty) back in January and had a very helpful informational meeting over Zoom. For anonymity’s sake, I’ll call her Ann.

    At the end of our meeting, Ann asked me to send her my resume. She also offered to connect me with her former boss who had recently retired and was moving to a state I’m also considering moving to and enjoys helping new professionals develop their careers. I sent along my resume and… crickets. I followed up via Messenger (we are connected on Facebook) maybe a week or so later under the guise of “just wanted to make sure you received my resume”. Ann wrote back saying she was very busy with the start of the semester and “other issues”. I have not heard from her since. She did not give me the contact info for her former boss; otherwise, I would’ve considered reaching out to them myself.

    A couple of questions. First, is it common for a connection to seem really promising only to be ghosted? Second, should I reach out to Ann again? If so, what should I say? I want to convey that I recognize that she’s very busy but that I really valued her advice and was looking forward to the additional support she was offering (though I recognize that she may’ve over-promised, which I’ve encountered before).

    1. Glazed Donut*

      If you were to follow up, I think mid-June would be a good time given the calendar of the higher ed world. It’s possible she has your resume but hasn’t seen anything that fits it well (has happened to me before when I got someone’s resume). She could be going through a lot of outside-of-work things…I’d give her the benefit of the doubt and continue to work other angles with other positions or people.

    2. HigherEdAdminista*

      Sadly in life, people do ghost all the time. I’m not saying it is right, but people can seem really eager to do something, and then things change and they don’t have the energy to do it anymore. It would be great if people were upfront about it, but that seems to be increasingly rare.

      Based on your second contact with Ann, I would say it is not worth it to contact her again. She gave you a very closed response; she told you she was busy, and that’s it. She didn’t give you anything to latch onto to hope that the busyness will end and she will resume contact. She didn’t give you the information herself to keep things moving without her. You clearly expressed what you hoped for and she rebuffed you. It isn’t a case of not understanding, sadly; it is case where she just isn’t going to follow through.

      I know it’s really hard when you were hopeful about a lead to let it go, especially when it doesn’t make any sense, but you will feel better in the long run if you move onto the next thing and forget about Ann.

      1. Mimmy*

        I should clarify that she did say she’d be in touch “soon”, so I didn’t see it as a “closed response”. Does that change the advice? I absolutely expect that she would be very busy–especially now with finals and graduation coming up–and my contact with her flew under the radar. Glazed Donut’s suggestion to wait until mid-June is a good idea if I do decide to reach out again.

    3. Niels*

      I would probably act the same way as Ann if the CV you sent me wasn’t very strong and I had concerns about sharing it with my ex-boss and putting my name on the line to do you a favor.

  28. G. Lefoux*

    Any speech therapists in the comments today? Speech therapy has always been one of those roads-not-traveled for me, as someone who loves working with kids and did a linguistics minor. Periodically I think about applying to a grad program, but there are a couple of things I worry would mean I shouldn’t pursue it at all, as it might be frustrating or detrimental to the people I would serve to have to deal with them in a language therapy context:

    1) I’m gradually becoming hard of hearing. Nothing drastic yet, but definitely at the stage where subtitles go on the TV as a matter of course, and if there is running water, forget about me understanding a single thing you said.

    2) This used to happen much more often and is mostly gone now, but my brain occasionally just…doesn’t process a chunk of language. I’ll be talking with someone and they’ll say something like “Anyway, pass me the cheese and [non-linguistics noises that I would struggle to even transcribe because I cannot hear any phonemes in them, in the same way it would be hard to transcribe the sound of wind or birdsong] we’ll circle back Monday, okay?” Repeating doesn’t help, asking them to talk more slowly or clearly doesn’t help, it’s just like my brain is going on strike for a particular chunk of dialogue. I either have to pretend I understood what they said, or be frank about the fact that my brain isn’t processing that chunk of words and ask if they can rephrase.

    Would these kind of things be significant barriers in the field?

    1. saskia*

      I’m not a speech path, but my husband is. So you can take this with a grain of salt, but I’d say yeah, those issues would be barriers.

    2. *kalypso*

      The latter is something that the field handles, so you may find it teaches you some tools to work with it or the right kind of language to use to get a doctor to take you seriously without years of persuasion first, either to get a better assessment or treatment. Audio processing disorder, transient aphasia, transient agnosia etc. It might not be a significant barrier if it doesn’t come back, but if it does it would be.

    3. Prudence*

      Yes, I’m afraid either of those would be significant barriers. Together, they would be extremely concerning. The (possible) receptive aphasia in particular is troubling – have you sought a diagnosis or treatment for this? That would be the most immediate and important concern. If you have not spoken to a doctor about this, please consider doing so.

      1. G. Lefoux*

        It actually hasn’t happened to me in years–it used to happen to me all the time as a kid, but weirdly, after I wrote a story about it in my twenties I noticed it happening less and less, to the point where it’s now been years since it’s happened.

    4. Random Dice*

      My speech pathologist sister has a similar thing with not being able to process words if there are any other background noise sounds. I have to go on mute if I’m going to make any rustling sounds if on the phone. She is a great speech pathologist.

      But all of us need subtitles these days. There are at least 8 articles I know of titled something like “Why we all need subtitles now”, by Vox, Wired, Reddit, Cinemaphile…

      The other… does seem like it could be a problem? Can you get it diagnosed? Then you’d have a toolset to manage it.

    5. Anon Teacher*

      It depends. Both of the problems you describe could be exactly as you perceive them, or they could be better/worse. It might be helpful to get a full audiological evaluation to get quantifiable measure of where your hearing is now and whether hearing aids are recommended. I understand the processing problems aren’t happening any longer, but it would probably be a good idea to mention them.

      Regarding #1, if your goal is to work with kids in an elementary school, then yes, this will be a problem. Many kids at that age need articulation therapy, particularly with /s/ and /s/ blends, and those sounds are frequently the first to be affected with hearing loss. With older kids and adults, you are more likely to be working on language or fluency, but a small percentage of your caseload would still be artic (I.e, post-stroke). I don’t know how much hearing aids would help, though the technology is constantly improving. (You may learn great aural rehab strategies in grad school, though!) Additionally in grad school, you are required to gain experience with both pediatric and adult populations in both language and speech. I would direct your question to the graduate program you’re interested in – I’m sure this has come up in the past, and they could probably let you know what’s realistic. (They may also be an excellent resource for getting a comprehensive audiological evaluation for cheap!)

      Regarding #2, again, you’d probably learn some great compensatory strategies in grad school for speech-language pathology! Yes, this could be a problem, but it sounds like it could be a problem in any profession, not just as an SLP. Specific to speech-language pathology, if you miss what a child says in response, it’s going to be difficult for you to maintain accurate data and records, which in turn will make it impossible for you to track progress and make informed decisions regarding the course of therapy. Additionally, the population you’d be working with will have communication disorders – they’re likely not going to be able to rephrase things for you, write things down, or provide a visual cue if you can’t process what they’re saying. If these incidents are truly rare, you may be ok, or as ok as you’d be in any other profession, but again, I’d advise talking with someone in the graduate program to know what to anticipate, especially if they resume or increase in frequency. It may be easier to function in a job in a school or rehab setting, as opposed to a hospital setting.

      While both of these issues can be problematic, having this first-hand experience with communication challenges can also be an asset to someone in the profession. Good luck!

  29. Queen Ruby*

    Anyone in the US have experience working for a Taiwan-based company? My SO received a job offer from one and the pay schedule is definitely different…the company will hold back 2 months of salary, pro-rated throughout the year, and pay it the following year.
    For example, on a $120k salary, they’d hold back $20k/year, or ~$1670/month. The company would then pay the employee the $20k that was held around the Chinese New Year (so Jan/Feb of the following year).
    Apparently this is pretty standard in Taiwan, but I’m not sure if it’s legal to do it in the US. Any insight would be appreciated!

    1. DistantAudacity*

      Oh – this sounds similar to our vacation pay, in Norway (not Taiwan!). Basically about 12-15% is held back, and then paid out as a lump sump in June, to cover your vacation time (3-4 weeks off in July-ish). Or rather, your total salary is your salary number + the vacation pay.

      Dunno about US legalities, but this is to say it is standard (by law) in several countries.

      Check also how salary is handled for the month of New Year – for is there is some sort structure where the month of July has no formal salary (it’s “vacation month” regardless of when you take the time off), but you are covered due to the vacation pay instead.

      1. Been There*

        Oh, I had never thought about vacation pay as them holding back pay the previous year. We have vacation pay and Christmas pay in Belgium as well, but it’s considered extra on top of your base pay.

    2. TechWorker*

      I doubt legality really comes into it as long as they are paying over minimum wage and are clear about what they expect to pay you. It’s very standard for a company to pay out a bonus that is a percent of salary (though often with other factors applied too); I would treat that logically the same as this. When you’re comparing salaries, treat it as a $100k salary + $20k bonus.

      Have they clarified what happens if you left the company partway through the year? If you get none of the held back money, then it sounds exactly like a bonus, if you would be due it in that circumstance well.. it’s a bit different but not sure it makes a huge difference to how you can treat the money! The regular income is still the $100k and not $120k

    3. AnonAgain*

      This sounds like holiday pay in the Netherlands too :) My SO is Dutch but now living in the US, and they would get a chunk of their pay in late spring so they could book a trip and take vacation.

    4. Llellayena*

      This sounds similar to teacher pay structures in the USA. The salary covers 10 months of teaching so they hold back enough to give an equal paycheck year round, even over the two summer months. Not sure if it’s automatic, opt-in or opt-out, but it is legal. I think you just need to have that pay structure agreed to and you might need a provision for “back pay” if you leave part way through the year.

    5. Mameshiba*

      Just check whether that held back amount counts as a salary or as a bonus.
      Here in Japan, many companies pay twice yearly bonuses that are basically always given out regardless of performance, so often the total including bonus is what people mean by “salary”.
      As a result many expats describe it in terms like “holding back part of your salary to pay a lump sum bonus later”, but technically those are bonuses not salary, and can be reduced in economic tough times or due to poor performance.

  30. AnonAnonAnon*

    Just need a headcheck on something please folks!

    The team I work on is entirely made up of women. Our ages range from early 20’s to mid-40’s.

    Our boss (and basically everyone else in the company) collectively refers to us as ‘the girls’. As in ‘the girls are working on a new alpaca report and it’s going live next week’ or ‘I’ll ask one of the girls to do it’.

    This drives me potty. None of us are ‘girls’. I find it really infantilising! So much so I’m looking for another job where I might actually get treated like the adult I am.

    Am I overreacting? It makes me grit my teeth every time someone says ‘the girls’. Aaargh!

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      You’re not overreacting. Are you senior there? Is someone else (or hopefully more than one person) senior enough to feel they can bring it up to your boss without being dismissed?

      1. AnonAnonAnon*

        I tried because I’ve been there the longest but my boss seemed to totally not hear what I said. It felt like he thought I was just being dramatic, and he’s dismissed concerns I’ve had before about everything from the lights being out in the underground car park (unsafe, and as he’s the head of facilities too he needed to know) to one of the temps we had smoking pot in the bicycle storage.

        I would get more response and reaction talking to my stapler, honestly.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          If he’s dismissing serious safety concerns and drug use on the job, he’s not going to take anything seriously, let alone your “silly woman issue.”

      2. Random Dice*

        I HATE that.

        My response, when I can get away with it, is a blank “oh I started menstruating X decades ago.” Just to really hammer home that “girl” means a prepubescent female. Which I’m not. Remotely.

        At work, I wouldn’t be so blunt unless it were a last-straw situation. I had a male coworker who was hiring multiple women into a very male field, more than anyone else in our org. With him, I knew his heart was in the right place, so when he called them “girls”, I gave him a gentle correction with a warm smile, and he immediately fixed it.

    2. Collie*

      Not overreacting! You’d be totally within your rights to speak up. (If you’re looking for an alternative to suggest “the team” works splendidly.)

    3. Peanut Hamper*

      No, you are not overreacting.

      I’m snarky, so I would raise my hand to my forehead like I’m shielding my eyes from the sun and say “Girls? I don’t see any girls here. I see lots of women, though.”

      But you could also just point out that the proper term for an adult female is “woman” and that is the term that they need to use.

    4. Glazed Donut*

      This happened to me in a very female-heavy field. A coworker would start texts or emails with “Hi girls” — I didn’t even like when it was “Hi ladies.”
      In my case, the irritation was driven by other small things (like being late for meetings you organize, always expecting someone else to fill the Keurig water, asking someone else to walk a package over instead of doing it yourself, etc). I don’t think it’s worth leaving over, but I’d examine if there are other areas contributing to your irritation.
      And, at the very least, if it’s just one person doing this–having a chat to ask if they could change their language to better reflect the professionalism and experience of the group.

      1. rr*

        My boss does this. I used to continually correct him but I’ve given up. It sets my teeth on edge too, particularly when he says “my girl” to somebody else. But I’m never going to change that environment, because it is just a symptom of the larger problems there. Which I’m guessing is the case for you too.

        1. AnonAnonAnon*

          It absolutely is just one problem in an ocean of many, so I want out, but it’s really beginning to grate on me now. My patience with my workplace has worn so thin now that things I could normally tolerate or brush off are getting to me.

          My workplace is dominated by men who are all senior to us (we have a male boss, and then the whole team is the same level and pay bracket, some of us long-timers earn more than the newbies and I’ve almost topped out the pay bracket) so I guess that’s why they call us ‘the girls’. Weirdly we’re all relatively small and petite too, so this probably doesn’t help…

    5. scandi*

      Not overreacting. It’s infantilising and infuriating. Think about it: in the US, men are basically referred to as “boys” under two circumstances. When they’ve done something stupid and/or outright criminal and the speaker wants to make excuses for them, or it’s used against Black men to belittle them. It’s not used in a professional context. Whereas women are consistently “girls” in all sorts of contexts (except when adult men want to justify why they’re attracted to teenage girls and call them “young women”). At work, you should collectively be referred to either as women, or, preferably, by some professional term that makes sense like “the alpaca counting department are working on the new report”.

      1. Random Dice*

        Exactly. “Boy, you done effed that one up good” and “Don’t you backtalk me, boy” (by a racist white person to an adult man with brown skin).

        But women are always girls in too many men’s eyes.


      2. I heart Paul Buchman*

        This is really interesting to me. I’m not in the US and here the term boys is regularly used for any group of men, particularly friends. ‘Come on boys – let’s go’. Similar connotations to lads. It doesn’t have any racial overtone that I’m aware of either. Here there would be other words used in this way but not this one.

        The term girls is also used for groups of women and I’ve always been mystified be the online hate for the term. I work in a highly feminised and feminist industry and we use it all the time. Maybe the difference is the fact that boys is also used differently here?

      1. Ashley*

        I usually joke about child labor being illegal. I have had the big picture conversation with people about why it is gross. The thing I have found hardest is when others in the group don’t mind being called a girl. Alison wrote a great article about this a few years ago that might be helpful to read. I also posted it on my LinkedIn when I was at a place that was heavy users of LinkedIn.
        This has been a soap box issue for me so I have constantly corrected some internal people about that and it did cause problems with the office relationship. However, if you can’t treat me with basic respect I don’t feel the need to be extra respectful to you.
        The my girl is the absolutely worst and I shut that down the hardest because I am absolutely no ones girl.

    6. Still*

      It sounds incredibly annoying but I feel like you wouldn’t be job-hunting over it if it weren’t a symptom of a bigger problem at your company. I find it hard to believe that they refuse to stop calling grown-ass women ‘girls’ but are perfectly respectful and feminist in all other ways.

    7. Emily S.*

      This would bother me too, for sure! It’s not respectful.

      I work with mostly women. Sometimes in email, our (female) grandboss will open with something like “Ladies–” and I like that she says that, rather than “guys” or “girls.”

      Would you ever have an opportunity (and the courage) to say something to the boss? e.g., “Could you please call our group “X Team”, instead of referring to us as ‘the girls’?” If any other members of your team are bothered by this also, perhaps you could approach the boss together — it could be more effective.

      I realize that could just be too awkward.

    8. Girasol*

      Not overreacting. It not only calls you young but it also points out that you are female. Given that so many workplaces have at least some entrenched ageism and sexism, and there are stereotypes regarding “the girls in the office,” it can’t be doing you any good. Perhaps you might suggest some non-gendered alternatives to the boss, like calling you “our team” or saying “I’ll have one of the alpaca staff do it.” Remind her that someday there may be a man on the team and getting into the habit of using more professional terms could save her embarrassment later.

    9. Pocket Mouse*

      Gross. In the meantime, channel Janet and respond with “Not a girl.” No need to follow up with “I’m a woman”, because you might end up with another term applied that is, while more age-appropriate, still gross for them to use.

      1. linger*

        The use of girls in the workplace as a collective for a group of female colleagues almost always is belittling, and carries some measure of sexism: girl(s) is far more frequently applied to female colleagues than is boy(s) to male colleagues.
        Sigley & Holmes (2002) described uses of girl(s)/boy(s) in corpus data from 1961-1991. The 1960s data included some telling mismatches indicating the sexism involved (e.g. “the girls and men who make the … shirts”). There were a few parallel uses of boys in workplace settings (e.g. “I guess I’d better go and break it to the boys in the lab”) suggesting that, in some cases, the use of boys/girls as a collective could function positively as a solidarity marker, especially if used by an in-group member. Nevertheless, if used by an out-group member, the overwhelming function was to reduce the group’s status. So your reaction is entirely justified.
        The use of girl(s) in the workplace appeared, at that stage, to be decreasing. Yet sadly, here we are, another 30 years on, with a boss seemingly still trapped in the 1960s!

        [Reference: Sigley R & Holmes J (2002). Looking at girls in corpora of English. Journal of English Linguistics 30(2): 138-157.]

    10. Teehee*

      When your boss refers to the girls as doing this or that, don’t do this or that because the “girls” are doing it. I’m sure letting some things slip and responding with “Oh, you said the girls were going to do it, so meant someone else, and not us.”

  31. SarahG*

    I’m never here in time for these! Question – once you “accept a verbal offer” is it then too late to negotiate? I was have been in this job more than a year so this is more theory than anything else, but I got a call to tell me I was the successful candidate and was thrilled. I got a run down of the offer – base salary, bonus structure and a vague “also has dental”, so I said “Sounds great, I would be delighted to come on board but please send me the written offer to review the details.”

    I then got an email from the hiring manager saying “Glad you have accepted our verbal offer, we’re delighted to have you on the team”. This might sound hopelessly naive but I thought we were still in negotiations – I had wanted to see the pension matching and do some maths as to the difference in value if they were contributing more or less than my previous employer, especially as the base pay was a few k’s different, as well as see details on the dental and the bonus scheme in writing etc.

    I did email back once I received the written offer asking if there was wiggle room (more professionally than that obviously) but they didn’t budge – I’ve been wondering if I shot myself in the foot a bit and should have negotiated on the spot when I got the call? I would have found it hard to do so on the fly but I would like to know, if there is a next time so I can be prepared.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      You can still try to negotiate, but you have a little bit less leverage now that it sounds as if you’ve probably accepted. That said, I also think they rounded up your “but please send me… to review.. details” to “you have accepted.”

      1. Ashley*

        And you can still walk away if the written offer changes things for you at the end of the day and just reference that issue in the package as the reason.

    2. Somehow_I_Manage*

      Let’s just look forward to next time:

      1) Asking for a full benefits package is a typical follow up question to conclude your interview with if you have interest in moving forward.

      2) In most circumstances, if you receive an offer, it’s best to say, thank you for the offer, may I have until Monday to consult my family and get back to you? You then have time to sleep on it and consider whether you need to or want to counter offer. And let’s be honest- it also gives you a moment to circle back with any other companies you’re speaking with and advise them that your situation has changed.

      3) As always, know your worth, know your leverage, and read the market. If they have 20 qualified candidates all willing to accept that rate you have limited room to negotiate, don’t be foolish- plan to answer quickly. But if you have some leverage, feel free to use it.

    3. WantonSeedStitch*

      I think rather than negotiating on the call, you might have been better served by saying something like, “I’m so pleased to hear you felt like I was a good match for the position! I’m definitely excited. Can you please send me the written offer with details of salary, benefits, bonus structure, etc. so I can review that?” Make it clear that you’re interested in the offer, but not ACCEPTING anything without reviewing the details.

      1. SarahG*

        Good point, as are the points above!

        I was just slightly caught on the back foot as it was the first time I had ever been in a position where I was leaving a role where I was compensated well enough that an offer might have been a step down – I wasn’t really prepared to negotiate at all and fumbled the initial phone call. Which sounds silly, and is silly, but it was just very much outside of my realm of experience; I certainly had a vague idea that I might need to negotiate but didn’t know what that would look like and I didn’t think to have a plan for if the offer was made over the phone rather than email.

        I appreciate the advice though and I will definitely be much more ready next time!

    4. Random Dice*

      You didn’t accept that offer! Your response was positive but noncommittal until they sent the details in writing.

      And they know you didn’t accept that offer. They’re trying to snow you.

  32. Plant Lady*

    Looking for advice/insights into doing a half day of interviews for a Development Associate position at a college.

    I’m scheduled to do four in-person interviews one day next week. I’ve already done interviews with the hiring manager and another person, and I asked a lot of questions. Does anyone have any advice on how to prepare or specific things to ask about? Doing interviews with four more people seems like a lot for such a low level position and I’m not sure what to expect.

    They had actually asked me to do these interviews two months ago, and I had declined at the time because I had just used a bunch of PTO and couldn’t take another whole day off so soon. I contacted them recently when I realized the position was still posted, and they were still interested in me. Does the fact that they haven’t hired anyone in the two months since they originally asked me to do the third round of interviews mean I have a good chance of getting an offer?

    1. Retired Professor*

      In higher education, it is very typical to have half- or whole-day interviews. Most hiring decisions are made by a committee. And other administrators often have a stake in the decision so they want to be involved. For example, you might be the development person representing a major or group of majors. So you would report to the Development office but might represent the College of Business. Expect to have interviews with stakeholders from all groups including donors or alumni.

      You can ask each person or group the same questions, just asking for the different interviewee’s perspectives. I would ask what they think the fund raising priorities are, about the donor base, how the donors respond to requests, how fund raising is done from their perspective, about past campaign successes, etc. And of course the typical questions about your job and expectations from people in the development office.

  33. WhenisRetirement?*

    Hi all! I need advice on 2 things – 1) how to stay engaged and productive and focused while I am waiting for the final details of a job to come through and 2) when to give notice.

    I am switching industries from a deeply toxic gaslighting burnout llama-herding firm that is adjacent to, and serves, clients in 2-3 other regulated industries deeply impacted by the pandemic, to a government position – I have passed all the interviews and internal clearances and now am just waiting for the background check.

    In the meantime, my boss goes out on maternity leave this weekend, we have tons of travel coming up, we are chronically short-staffed, and I feel like I am drowning. I do not want to be booked into any travel for May and June.
    Originally I wanted one week off in between jobs but now I feel like I need 2.

    Was hoping this job would come thru months ago before my boss’ leave but you know, government. I have gotten over my guilt about leaving while I am in charge (it’s the company, not my boss or coworkers).

    I look at my current work (which is supposed to be a mix of creative/supervisory/management/innovative) and my brain feels like it is slogging through molasses.

    I’m very excited about the new position even though it is a 3x a week commute and small paycut but other things are better.


    And who do I resign to? Her boss? Or text her (she keeps insisting she will be reachable).

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Time off in between jobs/when to give notice: when the background check clears and you get a firm offer, talk to whoever is appropriate on the government side (hiring manager or HR person) about setting a start date ~4 weeks out. It’s pretty normal to ask for a start date 3 or 4 weeks out to have a week or two off between jobs. Once you have a firm start date from the government, resign that day or the next from your current job.

      Who to resign to: resign to your boss’s boss. Toward the end of the conversation, ask if you can text/email your boss to let her know you’ve resigned.

      1. Emily S.*

        ^ Agreed about submitting resignation to your boss’ boss — this seems like the best person to receive your letter/email.

    2. Ashley*

      First, you have a assume it isn’t coming through and work accordingly. If it does come through then it is awesome and you will work out logistics at that point. I would try to put off any major scheduling things, but if you have been waiting for months you need to assume it maybe a few more months.

      On the notice, who ever is your current day to day manager is who you should notify. After you do that you can send a note to the person on mat leave, but she shouldn’t be your primary contact if she really is off for weeks. When she is out you can see how others have talked to her but I would probably send an email to her work email to see.

  34. data is cool*

    I’m at a crossroads and would appreciate some perspective. I like my current job, but it doesn’t have room for growth and there’s a high chance I’ll be bored in a year. I’m fully remote and don’t actually want to be, but to work in an office I’d need a hybrid schedule with a lot of flexibility due to a disability that’s not fully under control. My company has a local office, but in practice people aren’t using it, so I won’t be able to get the benefit of working with people here. I’m interviewing for a promotion that would be really great in terms of the work, but I honestly don’t think I want it knowing that I’d essentially have the same work environment I do now. Would I be making a mistake if I turn down the promotion if it gets offered and sit tight for a while? I know it’s easier to job hunt when there’s no urgency (and being disengaged due to boredom could be a serious problem) but I don’t feel ready to look outside the company and the idea of losing FMLA protection is terrifying right now.

    1. Morgan Proctor*

      I’m failing to see the downside of taking the promotion. Whether you take it or not, you’ll still be employed by this same company and in the same working environment, but if you take the promotion you’ll presumably be making more money, and in a position to pursue that same job title at other companies. I think you would be making a mistake if you turned it down.

      1. data is cool*

        That’s true. I guess what I’m really afraid of is how hard it might be to learn the job remotely. I struggle with that and it took a long time to get good at my current job.

        1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          Valid concerns (though I agree accepting the promotion makes sense). A few suggestions to see if there are ways to make this company set more viable:

          *Have you discussed with your boss the possibility of being trained on-site?
          *Is your boss local, so maybe you can ask for in-person meetings for your 1:1’s?
          *Are any of your teammates or colleagues you work with regularly local? If yes, how would it feel to ask them if they want to do an informal “on site” day each week? I imagine you’re not the only one missing some in-person time.

        2. SofiaDeo*

          Can you think if it more like, you won’t be bored learning task/things about the promotion remotely? Instead of dreading the learning challenges, embrace them as something interesting? New things are certainly not boring. Try to turn the struggle to learn remotely as a skill that you want to develop, and get good at. Short term, you will have plenty of time to get your disability under control. Then you can make decisions about wanting an office environment that’s not 100% remote. Remember until the disability is controlled to the level of what you want, going in-office even hybrid may be more of a challenge than you anticipate.

    2. RagingADHD*

      I don’t understand. Why would you need to turn down the promotion in order to stay at your current company?

      The better title and salary you have when you start looking elsewhere, the better position you’ll be in for another bump up.

      1. data is cool*

        I’m afraid I’d be setting myself up to fail in a role that wouldn’t be a good fit considering the work environment (I have a hard time learning remotely and the hiring manager and almost the entire team are out of state). But I may be assuming the worst when I have learned a lot about working remotely since I started this job.

  35. ImNotPanicking*

    Recently something happened at work and I’m trying to gauge how much I should be worrying. My supervisor, Justin, had a planned leave of absence for a few months this summer while his kids are on summer break. We were generally talking about how to cover for his work–our team has highly visible work in a new, highly scrutinized area right now. I am next in line under Justin to manage the remainder of the 12 person office.
    I had been operating under the assumption that while Justin was out, I’d report to Bill, who is Justin’s supervisor. The order goes (my team) me –> Justin –> Bill –> VP –> CEO. Well, apparently when Justin starts his leave of absence, Bill is resigning. The same day. Bill oversees our office and 6 others. So now for about three months there will be a LARGE gap between me/my team all the way to the VP. The VP is incredibly busy managing many, many offices (in total VP probably has 8-10 direct reports and in total 75 employees). I’m worried about the small things (who will sign my paychecks? It’s usually Justin) all the way to the more grounded things (if I need to run a decision by someone, how will I get the time to do so? What if I feel like I need an answer now? Who will sign off on my performance review? Will I get burned out taking on ALL this work?).

    1. Anastia Beaverhousen*

      Ask! I am guessing you would do Justin’s work and VP is higher and would do the rest. Paychecks would be HR though wouldn’t they?

      1. ImNotPanicking*

        Yes, I think in the next few weeks I will put together a list of questions to ask.
        I don’t think VP has any capacity to take on more work — another VP recently left and all her work was pushed onto this VP (because this VP has a long tenure and is one of a few people who could do it).
        Our HR director left a few months ago and still hasn’t been replaced… :) What I need is someone to approve my time so the checks go through–someone has to vouch that I did work X hours that week, approve requests for sick/vacation time, etc…

    2. PollyQ*

      These are all good questions, but the person who can answer them is VP, not us. Schedule a meeting to go over these questions, and try to approach it as practically and dispassionately as possible. It’ll be fine.

    3. Winter Tulips*

      Right now there’s nothing to worry about, because you don’t actually know anything. You just need to get information. So schedule a meeting, make a list of questions you need answered, and ask them.

      (Honestly, 8-10 direct reports for the VP isn’t really that many, and they should be able to take on this for a few months without too much hassle. They may also have plans to put someone else in interim charge between you and the VP. But again, ask.)

      1. ImNotPanicking*

        This is true.
        Bill has another 8 direct reports, so his absence will double VP’s list (and the new ones are much lower-level, which feels like less attention given anyway).
        The culture of turnover in the office means that there’s not another person who could step in who is familiar with any of this work.

  36. Nea*

    Anyone else getting Ask a Manager vibes from this week’s Carolyn Hax reader question?

    For those who didn’t see it, someone wrote in to Carolyn Hax asking for advice because one of her co-workers falsely reported that LW was self-harming at the office to LW’s boss – and even called the report in to her therapist!

    (To avoid getting caught in the link filter, you can find it by searching “Carolyn Hax reader therapist)

    1. Anastia Beaverhousen*

      That’s a crazy story! I am surprised that the therapist didn’t say anything when it happened, I would never not disclose that to a client.

    2. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

      I’ve been chewing over that letter all week. I’m leaning toward “a really big piece of this story is missing.”

      1. Jinni*

        Something has to be missing! When my ex husband started low-key stalking my therapist. She told me immediately – which leads me to think that something is missing.

  37. Help!*

    I am a manager of 4, and I am one year into my job, with a company I’ve now been with for 4 years. I know they don’t pay great, I think it’s partly the industry we are in. When discussing the 5% COL increases we are giving my team this month, my HR person showed me everyone on my teams salaries pre- and post- the 5% increases. I didn’t previously have access to that information. One of the people on my team (a male, 1 year younger than me at 29) is making less than $3,000 less than I am. He’s been with the company for 1.5 years, and holds the same title as I did prior to my promotion to manager. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this.

    I felt uncomfortable bringing it up to HR, but decided to do it because it was really messing with my head. The first thing they asked me was “have you taken past experience into consideration when comparing salaries”, and the next thing he said was “it’s not unheard of for subordinates to make less than their managers”.

    1. Experience – yes, this person has more specific semi-industry experience from past jobs, but I’ve been here for 4 years now gaining that same experience! HR wants my resume again, but it seems crazy to me that my past experience would even matter at this point this far into my time with my company and 4 promotions in that time. I get that he probably negotiated in at a much higher rate (when I was in the same role as him, I was making $13,000 less than he was making when he started the role).

    2. He is an account manager, so while I am his manager, I am also still doing all the same account manager responsibilities for my own accounts that I was doing prior to my promotion. I haven’t given up a single responsibility, so I literally feel like I am doing two full-time jobs and am sometimes working until 10pm to finish everything.

    What do you all think? HR told me to send an email with some salary comps, my resume prior to my 4 years with this company, and basically explain why I feel I deserve more money. I just feel really weird about it all, especially how my conversation with HR went and the things they said. Thank you!

    1. Ashley*

      Instead of focusing on the person you manage, are there other people at your level where you can compare salaries that way?

    2. saskia*

      10pm every night? That sounds like too much work or unclear prioritization on the part of the company. HR may see the pay and the responsibility overload as two separate issues, FYI.

      How about updating your resume to include all the work you’ve done till now (instead of sending the old version you used when you applied)? It sounds like they’re at least willing to listen and might work with you if you come armed with data and concrete positive impacts you’ve had on the business. Be confident. Good luck!

    3. Donner*

      when I was in the same role as him, I was making $13,000 less than he was making when he started the role

      That could be partly bc he negotiated better at the outset, but it’s probably also due to this:

      this person has more specific semi-industry experience from past jobs

      Gather some comps, but this might be an “eyes on your own plate” situation. After all, you started out at a $13k salary gap, and now you have a <$3k salary gap. You are clearly advancing in salary at a good rate. And sometimes direct report make MORE than supervisors bc their technical knowledge makes them better at being an IC than their supervisor ever was.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yes – one of my team leads makes more than I do (by a fairly significant amount) because she has different qualifications than I do.

    4. Random Dice*

      That would definitely get flagged by my company’s HR as a DEI issue. Oh look, female manager whose male direct report makes the same. We have separate tracks for technical SMEs vs managers, but the SMEs report much higher in the org.

  38. small-ish world*

    I was laid off a couple of months ago from a tech startup focused on a pretty niche subfield that I’m really excited about. I’m now in the final interview stages with another startup that’s a direct competitor with my old company. I’m interested in hearing about experiences joining a competitor in a small field after a layoff (especially startups, and sales-related roles) but also wondering about:

    I had stock options for my old company that I was planning to exercise, just haven’t gotten around to it yet… but if I join a direct competitor, that would create a weird conflict of interest and I probably shouldn’t exercise them, right? What if the deadline to exercise them happens before I get an offer? (What if I had already done it before hearing from the new company – when would I disclose that?)

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I wouldn’t worry about the conflict of interest thing for the shares too much. It’s a pretty common thing. Also, check the terms of your options grant, you may be forced to exercise-and-sell-back if the company isn’t public yet, and those options might even expire after being laid off. Check that stuff now!

  39. Chaordic One*

    About a year ago, in my (fairly high-level) CSR job, we had this multi-year quality initiative dumped on us that involves recording customer service contact information, type of problem, length of phone call and various info like that, in addition to all of the other work we do. Basically a long-term study. After the announcement in large group meetings we were “asked” to volunteer to participate in the initiative, and forms were sent out asking people to sign up for it. I’m not sure how many people actually volunteered, but I was surprised that there were as many as there were. Of course, the number of volunteers wasn’t enough and it turned out that 70% of all the CSRs were required to participate, so many people were “conscripted.” Shortly after the initiative was implemented, the person who did the bulk of the work in announcing it conveniently retired.

    It seems that older workers who might retire in the near future were less likely to volunteer and also less likely to be conscripted. Supposedly the study would provide information that “might” help employees do their jobs better in the future. I complained about it to my manager who did a surprising (to me) and eye-opening explanation of possible benefits of the initiative, benefits to employees and things that were not explained in meetings we had, or in any of the emails and documentation employees were provided. (Of course my manager could be guilty of magical thinking.)

    So, it’s been a year or so now, and the initiative is floundering. Employees understandably view it as as irrelevant and as an additional “busy work” kind of distraction. Aside from a lack of “buy-in” from the CSRs, there has also been a lack of “buy-in” from managers which surprises me because my manager strongly supports it, but then she really seemed to understand it and was able to provide a logical and thoughtful explanation of how it could benefit our organization and I’ve never seen anything similar from anyone else associated with it. I suspect many of the results are going to be obvious common things that people complain about every day, and that management refuses to address. Doing all of the paperwork to create data seems to me to be time-consuming and to be more work than it is worth. I wonder if having these problems pointed out in the results of this study is going to change management’s minds into implementing some of the obvious changes we need? I wonder what management is thinking? Do they think there’s some magic bullet?

    1. Janeric*

      Huh. I can see the edges of a deeper cultural divide at your company here — like it might be an excuse to push training on people who have been around longer, if they aren’t meeting metrics?

  40. Anon a Fed*

    Hi! Interesting work question, from someone with no interest in formally managing people. I’ve been covering for my supervisor’s mat leave, and alongside that am an interim supervisor/point of contact for an employee that’s right on the edge of possible PIP territory, by my estimation. I don’t know that I’ve done a good job of balancing an attempt at encouragement for what she’s done well, and also letting her know she’s got a fair amount of room for improvement.

    She’s early career, late 20s, first really professional job; she is TERRIFIED of our boss (the one on leave). To be fair, our boss takes no bull and she’s known outside of our office for “being the bad guy,” but she simply demands a higher standard of work than is generally acceptable in our division (federal gov’t) and is actually far and away the best boss I’ve ever worked for. I do think our newer coworker is doing better, but not awesome, and certainly not where the previous person in her role was after this amount of time in the job (similar situation, new career professional, a little younger, but a real go-getter who had great instincts). We have some issues where she’ll sit on something if she’s not sure what to do, isn’t great at finding information not necessarily obvious but that does exist in our files/intranet/etc if you are looking, and doesn’t have the best common sense response to items without an obvious solution.

    How do you know when it’s PIP time? And as someone with no training in supervising who was only her interim for 3 months, I know it’s not really my job to have decided any of this or anything other than been explicit about the work that needs to be done, but I’m curious what others think. Sorry if this is too vague. Thanks for any ideas!

    1. Glazed Donut*

      I think if you’re the acting supervisor, it’s on you to state the facts clearly. “At this point, we would expect you would be able to do X, Y, and Z independently according to the policies we’ve established. That isn’t happening yet. What can we do to help you get there/what support do you need from me?” and if you have the authority “This may not be the best role for you if X doesn’t improve.”

      1. Anon a Fed*

        Definitely don’t have the authority on the last piece. My boss talked about reviewing where our newer coworker is at with her progress when she returned, which is soon. I’m really asking what I might have done differently, given I’m not a formal supervisor and have had no training – thanks for that first bit, since I definitely fell short of saying that explicit-type statement here.

    2. One HR Opinion*

      My gut feeling is that some of these things don’t come naturally to her and she’s been too afraid to ask her boss about it. I suggest helping her learn how to effectively use some of the tools (files/intranet/etc.) that she is struggling with. I’m surprised all the time by employees at different levels who don’t know how to do effective searches, set up Outlook rules, etc. that are just givens to me.

      As to your, “how do you know when it’s PIP time?” – when an employee has had the training they need to do their job, they have been clearly told what the expectations are, and how they are falling short of these expectations; yet their poor performance continues.

    3. *kalypso*

      Gut check: is this newer coworker just not performing to the higher-than-industry-acceptable standard, or actually failing at meeting the KPIs for the job? Are you measuring them by the KPIs and not previous-now-rockstar coworker?

      PIPs need measurable targets and generally come after ‘this is what we need, can you try doing this?’ and that not happening. In this case the problem doesn’t seem to be performance – there may be an initiative or lateral thinking mismatch in that you think someone in the role should be able to solve problems, and she’s expecting help solving problems. It doesn’t sound like PIP territory so much as ‘why does she not know what to do or how to find what to do?’ territory, where the previous person perhaps set expectations that don’t match the onboarding or PD.

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      I’ve been in situations where I was absolutely terrified to ask for help on parts of my job, and it was often because a boss/supervisor was impatient with me for “not already knowing” things that were clear and obvious to them, but the exact reverse for a new person who was still learning the ropes, let alone all the built in trapdoors and shortcuts the rest of the team used as a matter of course. To try to teach yourself can be seen as “neglecting” your assigned tasks, and asking other people taking them away from their own work.

      It can really feel like playing Portal but you don’t know when a hole is going to open up and someone is going to poke their head out, roll their eyes and say “don’t you even know to hit shift/space/alt to access the stats for 1997?”

      To be clear, I don’t mean someone hiring on and then confessing they don’t even know what Excel is, but is trying to incorporate “how we do things here” into her own workflow.

  41. slowingaging*

    Change from very dysfunctional management . hopefully very functional. How have you handled this and what would you have done differently?
    I have been very blunt with the management a level above and the new local management. I am trying to just look at the current business issues and how to solve them.

      1. slowingaging*

        Thanks, going from a boss who constantly changes the goal and sometimes provides resources. Doesn’t set reasonable expectations. Hopefully, the new boss has specific goals and expectations and timelines. We are kinda in shell shock. I am trying to take the new boss at face value and not based on the past?

        1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

          Not sure if this helps but I am trying to be the new functional manager to a (huge – I’m in academia and oversee 50+ people) team who had one deeply awful manager and one freaked-out interim one. They have zero trust in the institution, they’re exhausted, and frankly they’re kind of traumatised. Making things better is much slower than I had hoped, but several people tell me the culture & leadership is better, so I think it’s getting there?

          From my point of view, what helped/ what I really appreciated:

          – Yes, be blunt, and be prepared to do some storytelling. Your team’s reactions are likely shaped by the dysfunctional manager & may not make sense to the new person without context.

          – At the same time, be future focussed – “here’s the problems and here’s what we need” is a great approach.

          – Go into lots of detail about timelines & resources – not just “we can’t groom that many llamas in a day” but “It takes at least an hour to groom each llama, and if they come from Super Dusty Province it’s more like two, and the brushes sometimes break on the tangles, so we need at least one spare per two groomers”.

          – This sounds silly but a bit of praise/positive reinforcement is awesome – “things are feeling better”, “thanks for making that clear”, “really appreciate the spare brushes”.

          And from the other side, as someone who had a terrible boss & now has an awesome one – be patient, change is slow so don’t make your mind up straightaway. (Either negatively – she might be better than she seems at first – or positively – don’t decide she’s perfect just because she’s Not OldBoss, and then be disappointed.)

          TBH you sound like you’ve got this – giving the new boss the benefit of the doubt & keeping the focus on business issues is all you need. Good luck! I hope she ushers in a new age of peace and serenity!

  42. Psyched Out*

    What recommendations do y’all have for breaking into a field that you are educated in but lack experience in? I have a masters degree in psychology and I would love to work as a crime information specialist or analyst or something similar. I spent a few years working in law enforcement but I ended up in a situation that resulted in a medical termination. Since then, I have been working in an office as an administrative clerk doing general office duties. Most of the jobs I desire want experience but the experience I have is not recent. How can I frame my past LE experience and current office work in an appealing manner?

    1. Glazed Donut*

      Not sure this is all that helpful – but when I was in a similar position (just finished grad school, wanted to change tracks to a related but different area), I found success with a leadership team who was willing to let me try things related and over time increase responsibility in that area. If you’re job searching, you may want to look at a position you can get that has adjacent opportunities for growth, and ask questions in the interview about how people are supported to continue growing/learning in their careers at that company.
      Otherwise, I’d really tailor your resume to highlight the past experiences and keep the focus on what you did at X place that will lead you to what you want to do (ie leave off “kept supply closet stocked at all times” if that’s not part of what you want to keep doing)

  43. Mimmy*

    The letter earlier this week from the OP having trouble getting out of entry level admin work got me thinking. I’m not in admin work, but I have not been able to really get above entry level. I think one of the things that came out of that letter was that the OP was underselling themselves. Hence my question:

    What are your strategies for getting out of the rut of underselling yourself? I know about the common advice to apply for jobs even if you don’t meet 100% of the qualifications. What I need help with is reframing my qualifications. This may require more nuanced answers than can be provided in an anonymous forum, but any general strategies would be helpful.

    1. irene adler*

      A recruiter gave me this advice: Keep a brag book and update it regularly.

      Brag book: a file of all your accomplishments, certifications, work reviews, documentation of any skills acquired, educational achievements, peer review/comments that recognize your work efforts, record of your volunteer work, etc.

      Review the brag book before every interview to remind yourself of all that you’ve done/accomplished/earned.

      (NOTE: you never have to show anyone this file. It is for your use only. So no need to be modest or discount a good review or whatever. Put it all in there! Sure, there will be occasion to show someone a document contained within it. But this book is for you to feel proud of all you’ve done!)

    2. JustaTech*

      For a mindset shift I often find it useful to think of myself in the third person when I’m writing about my abilities/accomplishments/qualifications.
      Like, I might think that the project I took on wasn’t a big deal, but if a coworker had done it I would say it was a really impressive accomplishment. This is often the way I write the first draft of my annual self review, imagining that I am actually Coworker writing about how awesome JustaTech is, rather than writing about myself. (Just remember to switch your grammar back to first person before you submit.)

  44. Callie*

    My manager supervises several departments, only one of which is her area of expertise. She has no experience in the work of my department. Strangely my department is her favorite. She has just enough knowledge to appear minimally competent. But if you look closer, she’s actually damaging the department by putting staff in situations that downgrade their experience. And personally, she has completely lost my respect because she has berated me to the point of tears twice because she thought I was undermining her, but she just didn’t understand something technical about the department.

    A coworker confirmed this week that my boss is passing off many of my ideas as her own in order to look better. I was first incredibly happy that someone else noticed, but after that passed, I got pretty upset—and that’s the feeling that’s staying with me.

    My grand boss just got approval for a new manager position so that my departure is its own entity and not overseen by the current manager. Grand boss wants me to apply.

    So these things are literally best case scenario for having an incompetent manager who takes credit for your work, right?

    However she and I have to work closely together on a number of planning teams. Just yesterday she was mining me for ideas for a shared project that she needed to present to my grand boss, her boss. I doubt she presented them as my ideas. Grand boss has also told her he is creating this new position. She told me how excited she is for me, but her next sentence was essentially 100% undermining the new role and tried to sell me on a job that is essentially what I’m doing now.

    So my questions:
    1. How do I keep collaborating with her? I have to work so hard to keep a respectful tone when we are having planning meetings—there are only so many ways I can avoid saying “that’s a ridiculous idea” while also being aware of what triggers her feeling of being undermined?
    2. If I suspect she’s undermining the new role (or undermined an internal transfer—see below), what do I do about it?

    I am applying for an internal transfer just in case this manager job doesn’t pan out and I am looking at external jobs as well. I do wonder if she did something to undermine the internal transfer since she is on an advisory team with the manager of the team I applied to. I didn’t get offered an interview after the initial screen. This is suspect—I have a contact in that department who told me they are having a hard time filling the role. When my contact saw my resume they were thrilled with my experience. Obviously I could have done something to screw up the phone screen or they did find other more qualified candidates, but from the facts I have now, I’m suspicious.

    1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      Will you still have to collaborate with her if you get the new manager position? And will you then be her peer?

  45. Maid Marion*

    After 3 years of exclusively working from home I have to go into the office 1 day a week starting the week after next. I’m not looking forward to it. The office is in a different location than our old one was. My company didn’t bother renewing its lease a year into the pandemic. Now there are no offices, no assigned desks, it is first come first served and we are not allowed to keep any personal or other items there. No exceptions. The new office is close to the old one and doesn’t really change anyone’s drives to work. The point is to do stuff we can’t do at home and not for collaboration or meetings but I really am not looking forward to an open office and hotdesking, especially since wearing headphones is not conducive to the work. Vent over; but I would love to hear from people who have had to return to work and how you adjusted after being remote.

    1. Prospect Gone Bad*

      FWIW, I am in the same boat as you even as a manager, but this is one of the consequences of WFH. We can’t justify keeping the big office when it’s mostly empty and have money left over for decent raises to combat inflation while also increasing prices for our customers due to our costs going on.

      How I deal with it and how others deal with it is, getting into a rhythm and paying attention to who goes in when. Then TBH I avoid it when the loud chatty ones who don’t pick up on social queues go in.

      you also mention noise disruptions. I feel like in one way my productivity goes up during some hours in the office due to the change of scenery, and not seeing all of the housework I need to do. On the other hand, there are those social disruptions. But I’ve learned to just accept those and bake extra time into my day. The reason why I “wasted” an hour talking was because I used to have brief water cooler chats with those people but now only see them once per month. It is what it is.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, this. I’ve started going to the office about once a week, and even upper management recognizes that most people will socialize more if they go once a week than when they went 5 days a week before the pandemic, with the very occasional WFH days due to school schedules or plumber visits, etc. Some teams have decided on a particular in-office day, but my team hasn’t because we’re distributed and most of our meetings are on Teams anyway. When I go in, I usually spend more time socializing with coworkers I don’t work with regularly.

        We still have assigned desks, but I expect them to go away in the next renovation.

      2. Lucky Meas*

        I have given up on the idea of getting real work done on days I go in to the office, and instead focus on building relationships and enjoying the change of scenery. Then I’m less bothered when I’m distracted by the noisy office.

    2. Prospect Gone Bad*

      Forgot to add that “no assigned desk” has proven to be a completely non-issue. I just realized I’ve never heard one person ever say anything about it or use the term “hot desk.” It really doesn’t matter since you’re bringing your stuff with you. The only time it came up is when someone decided to move because they didn’t yet have an adapter to the second screen on that desk, and they didn’t feel like unplugging and moving the the screen. These sort of concerns are jitters that usually just go away once you are there.

    3. Courageous cat*

      You just adjust. It’s 1 day a week, I promise it won’t be that difficult. I prefer working in the office because it’s good to get out of the house and see people.

  46. MadCatter*

    I just found out that I have only 15 months of payments left to qualify for student loan forgiveness through the PSLF. I left my higher ed position last november for a non-qualifying job that is fully remote with a 20% raise. I’m struggling decide what to do next. Going back to higher ed or other qualifying positions seems like a sure fire way to lower my income potential – but I have a not insignificant amount of loans left. I also feel like while my current job is fairly entry level, I have been receiving really good feedback and may have opportunities for advancement where I am.

    Has anyone else found themselves in a similar situation? What things did you take into consideration when deciding how to proceed?

    1. Ashley*

      Have you done the hard math? What does making no money for two years look like, and can you afford it, for saving $X if you stick it out? If you stay in your current role how much will the loans cost you over the life of the loan by comparison. Being that close, it might be worth the pay cut assuming you can afford to take care of yourself at that salary.

  47. Nonprofit anon*

    Tell me about your experience shifting from a corporate job to a non profit. I know these are both huge categories and there’s a lot of variability on each end, and I’d be interested to hear about all experiences. I’ve worked at medium/big corporations for a decade and will continue to do so for awhile, but am considering shifting to a nonprofit in the far future (5-10+ years).
    Also, does having an MBA impact your chances of landing a job or interview at a non-profit? Is it seen as negative, positive, or neutral? Let’s say for management or technical (IT) type roles. I am partway through an MBA program and it’s so focused on profit maximization, which is part of why I don’t want to continue moving up in a corporate setting. My job is paying for the degree and I have to stay for awhile after I complete it. I enjoy my work and my company so I’m not itching to leave, but I would like to do something that is focused on maximizing a social good rather than maximizing profit with social good as a side effect.

    1. Nashville, you can do better!*

      I’ve never transitioned from corp to non-profit – I’ve always been non-profit.

      1. does having an MBA impact your chances of landing a job or interview at a non-profit? Not really, but it could. Most non-profits like to think their roles are MBA level, but few are and they won’t pay you to have one. You will be wooed because you have it, but you won’t make money off of it.

      We make profit in non-profit, we just put it to social good. We’re as money hungry as everyone else (have to be otherwise we don’t get paid).

      Get your non-profit on by volunteering. There’s plenty of virtual pro bono options or your local organization.

      1. Nonprofit anon*

        Thanks for your comment. I wouldn’t expect an MBA level salary at a non-profit. That’s also part of the reason this would be part of a 10 year plan, so the degree can be paid off and other financial obligations will be less.
        I understand that money is a big driver for non-profits too, but it’s not written into their bylaws that they need to maximize profit in the same way it is for public corporations. It’s getting a little tiring to work for companies that want to chase profit for the sake of profit.
        I appreciate your response and will think on what you said.

    2. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      There are so many different kinds of non-profits. The ones that would be considered as social services or charity work would be looking for certain types of qualifications, and those in the arts and humanities require others. I’d suggest trying to find out about organizations that are large enough to have professionally-run finance offices, or those with PR and marketing divisions. Those positions wouldn’t need to be as aligned with the organization’s core mission (social work/counseling/art/history), but would require more of a business or communication background.

    3. BadCultureFit*

      I left 20 years of corporate (but almost always mission-driven) environments for a nonprofit last year. It’s been an absolute nightmare.

      I expected to have a reduction in workload to match my reduction in pay, and instead I was under-resourced and overworked. I was so stressed I started to get panic attacks for the first time in my life. I lost a lot of confidence in myself, partly due to a bad CEO (who I reported directly into) and a territorial culture. I quit without anything else lined up, though I did manage to get them to offer a retention bonus for me to stay an extra two months.

      Never again.

  48. Random Healthcare Worker*

    I am employed by a healthcare staffing agency, where I do temporary assignments. In the two years I’ve worked there when I’ve put myself forward for open assignments, I usually would know within a day or two–or often a few hours–if I was chosen to fill that assignment or not.

    On Tuesday I put myself forward for an assignment, was asked to provide a resume for review by a third party, and haven’t heard back since. Would it be OK to follow up in a week (next Tuesday)? The staffing specialist I was in communication with regarding that assignment wasn’t my usual person, and I’m torn between “in the wider world it’s normal for job applications to take some time” and “but my usual person gets back to me very quickly!” and “what if I wasn’t chosen and they forgot to tell me?”.

    1. Chaordic One*

      Sure, it’s O.K. to follow up. Alison would probably say that there are all sorts of legitmate reasons why they may not have gotten back to you. (And may be there are.) The job starting date got pushed back, they are considering adding additional duties, maybe the job fell through… Or maybe they did forget to tell you you weren’t chosen. You’ve waited a whole week, you’re not being a pest (you’re not calling them twice a day). Follow up.

  49. Bunny Girl*

    Does anyone have any suggestions on how to deal with B**ch Eating Cracker syndrome at work? I am working at a job that is a terrible fit for me and while I like a couple of my coworkers, a lot of them are super toxic and difficult to deal with and lately they are starting to drive me straight up the wall. My coworker and I have been venting to each other a lot and I know it’s frustrating us both more than helping. I am looking very hard for a new job, by the way but I don’t want to drive myself crazy in the meantime. Besides the couple coworkers I like and chat with, I keep to myself but we are in a very open office environment so it’s hard to get away.

    Any tips?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      If you think your “vent” coworker will be receptive, ask if you can change the pattern of your conversations. Say something along the lines of “I think that venting is frustrating us more than it’s helping. I’d like to try changing the tone of our conversations. Can we talk more about the good non-work things in our lives?” Besides focusing on the good in your personal life/lives, you can also try “for every negative thing we way about a coworker, we have to say a positive one.” So, sure, Stacey always takes three days to respond to any email from you, but her reports always have great data. And Dave is all around terrible at his job, but he’s always pleasant and asks about your weekend. Any positive thing, no matter how small, will help keep your brain away from BEC.

      If your “vent” coworker won’t be receptive, just pull back from venting with them as much as possible and try the positive refocusing techniques in your own head.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Oh, also, if positive is going to be too difficult with this group of coworkers, you can always try the “narrate a nature documentary.” So instead of “look at that bitch eating crackers like she owns the place! how dare she!” your narrative is “Stacey is now removing the crackers from the desk drawer. Looks like it’s snack time in the TPS department. Every day at 10am is cracker time. Analysts need proper energy to keep up their demanding schedule of ignoring their emails.” It’s a distancing technique–instead of expecting your coworkers to behave like professionals and being disappointed when they don’t, you remove the expectation and only observe their behavior, without (or with less) judgement.

      2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        This is great advice! To echo Hlao-roo, dwelling makes it worse, so take back the mental space you’re giving to the negativity.

    2. Random Dice*

      I had a completely toxic job and my whole team complained so much. I knew it was dysfunctional from the beginning but stayed because… reasons that weren’t good. That job took me years to recover from – my own professionalism took such a hit, and I’m ashamed of my negativity and poor attitude. The lesson I learned is to leave when I realize it’s broken, rather than letting it break me.

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

    I am looking for advice on coaching employees who get really stuck on all the shortcomings with management, both (in my view) real and perceived.

    I work as a coach in a field that is typically underpaid, understaffed, and underappreciated by society. I am not a supervisor. I feel the management at our workplace does have some issues, more about being oblivious than malicious, but the staff complain about them a lot. When I had my first one on one coaching sessions with the employees I work with, three of them listed all these problems with management as areas they need support in. Some of these issues do have concrete solutions I can help them with. Some I feel are more about reframing the situation. And I do work with management as part of the leadership team and am doing my part to make some system wide changes, but they will take (a long) time. But it’s not my job to manage or coach management, and I can wave a magic wand and make all of management’s issues go away! One of my coachees I think will be receptive to me asking them to please stay focused on how I can help their practice; the other two I can see getting quite defensive and claiming they can’t improve because of all the organizational and management problems. Any tips on how I can help these folks stay focused on their own practice and not get derailed into all of management’s faults? It also happened in a team meeting with three of them, where my agenda got completely derailed and I felt very railroaded.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      I used to run into this when I was teaching, and I found it useful to not dismiss the “I want this but I know it’s not going to happen” things.

      So I would encourage people to brainstorm a list of things that would help them out and then separate them into “Nice to have, but never going to happen”, “things management can actually make happen”, and “things I can actually make happen” and then help them decide where to focus their energy.

      That “nice to have, but never going to happen” bit–sometimes people just need to vent and get it off their chest before they can move on to things that are actually actionable.

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        Excellent framing. It reminds me of a similar framing:
        *What can I control? My actions, reactions, and responses.
        *What can I influence?
        *Then there’s literally everything else, so I gotta accept it.

  51. CSRoadWarrior*

    Does anyone find themselves making silly grammar mistakes on their email? Because I do, and it makes me feel really silly. I would put a period instead of a question mark, forget to make a word plural, and sometimes repeat a word – just to name a few. I mean, these are basic things even a kindergartener would catch, and I still make them from time to time, especially when I am stressed out.


    When would you like this done. (period instead of a question mark)
    I had 3 document to send out earlier. (“Document” is supposed to be plural)
    Have a nice nice day. (Why did I say “nice” twice?)

    Does this happen to anyone else?

    1. Sherm*

      I’d say it’s near universal, especially those of us who have little time and lots of stress! But odds are that many of the errors go unnoticed. Have you ever seen one of those puzzles that goes something like “What is wrong with the the sentence?” and people still have trouble finding the error, even though they were told there was an error and they’re looking hard for it? I would so not worry about this.

    2. ecnaseener*

      A kindergartner might catch those, but only because they’d be taking a couple minutes per sentence, whereas you are presumably going much faster than that :) Typos happen!

    3. Somehow_I_Manage*

      Outlook has a “read aloud” function that is very effective in helping to isolate these easy mistakes. If you have an extra 10 seconds, it’s useful.

    4. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Yes! Ironically, I’m also asked to copy-edit, but that’s because I take my time with those.

      If it helps at all, unless the message is actually garbled or difficult to parse, it doesn’t matter. At least to me (mid-level manager; sometimes technical, sometimes not).

    5. goddessoftransitory*

      I repeat words SO MUCH; even when I double check I sometimes use the same descriptor two or three times in as many sentences. I think I’ve been a chatbot without knowing it for years!

  52. Cyndi*

    I’ve mentioned before that I’m struggling in my job search because I’m already making the top of the range for financial data entry and can’t afford a pay cut, and in the spirit of yesterday’s “aim higher” conversation I’ve been thinking about what kind of jobs would be a level up from what I do now. It feels like I’ve been seeing a lot of listings for bookkeeping work where I’m well qualified except for not knowing Quickbooks; does anyone have any favorite resources or other advice for learning it?

    Also, what other fields would be a good…diagonal step up, I guess I’d call it, from financial data entry? In all my workplaces, the only place up to go has been into management, which I absolutely don’t want. I once applied for (and didn’t get) a job I thought I’d love, in logistics for a ATM company where I would have to catch accounting errors and trace them back to the source, but “logistics” as a search term isn’t pulling up anything else like that.

    1. rr*

      I am interested in this answer too. Though I don’t have enough accounting experience to do bookkeeping. However, I do use Quickbooks and I think it isn’t…that hard? I pretty much learned it on the job. Granted, I’m sure I don’t use its full capabilities (my job doesn’t require it) and I’ve been told that online Quickbooks and Desktop Quickbooks are different, but I think it is a program that is intended to be user-friendly. Whenever I have a question, I just use google and I find the answer pretty quickly. Maybe not advice, exactly, but I hope this is somewhat reassuring at least.

      1. Cyndi*

        That is reassuring, thank you! I really just want to lie down and whine forever at the thought of actually having to learn something? On my own time?? The injustice???? but it’s only six weeks now until my office moves locations, and the thought of my impending hour and a half commute sure is motivational.

      1. Cyndi*

        Ohhhhh maybe, thank you! I used to do mortgage post-closing and thought “compliance” would be a more general term to turn up that kind of troubleshooting/error-checking work, which it very much was not. QA might be more in line with what I was actually thinking.

        1. beach read*

          How about Insurance Claims, (Rep, Adjuster, title can be different per company) and Banking, (If you don’t mind sales along with Teller and CSR work). Also, I have seen some Drs. offices/Hospital jobs with positions that do seem to highlight more about payment posting, accounts receivable, insurance verification, that sort of thing. More “On the job training” as opposed to classwork perhaps? Best of luck to you!

  53. Cheezmouser*

    Warning: discussion of pregnancy loss.

    I’m currently 21 weeks pregnant. I told my immediate coworkers the news at week 15, but now I’ve received some devastating news from my doctor. We are awaiting further testing, but we know the diagnosis will be either bad or very bad. There will be no easy options.

    I’ve notified my immediate supervisor about my situation and that I will need to take some sick days for further testing, and possibly go on medical/bereavement leave sometime in the coming weeks/months. I just don’t know yet what things are going to look like. I haven’t told my coworkers yet and frankly don’t know what to say. I’m thinking to have my supervisor quietly tell them what’s going on and ask them to refrain from asking me about my pregnancy moving forward. My coworkers have been very supportive up to this point, congratulating me and asking all the normal questions, ie how am I feeling, are we excited, are we planning a baby shower, etc. I don’t think I can answer those questions anymore, even if I choose to remain pregnant for however long this pregnancy may last. Obviously my work this week has dropped tremendously.

    Does anyone have tips for navigating work and colleagues while facing an ongoing personal crisis? I just don’t know what the next few weeks or months are going to look like. Any advice would be appreciated.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Focus on yourself and your needs. Try to not to stress about work. Asking your supervisor to spread the bad news and tell coworkers to not talk to you about it is a valid strategy. I’m sorry for your loss.

      1. Cheezmouser*

        Thank you. I have good relationships with all my coworkers but I’m also a very private person. I know some people would value having people express sympathy and caring to them, but I think I would just break down crying every time and that would be more distressing to me. I think I would rather just not talk about it at all, focus on work-related topics at work, and grieve in private.

        However, one thing I haven’t thought through yet is what message this will send to my team. I’m the second most senior manager on my team, just behind our director, so I worry about creating a culture where people think they can’t be open. I don’t want to do that, but it’s also my personal preference not to talk about this very painful situation. Any suggestions how to navigate this?

        1. One HR Opinion*

          I would have your boss say something like, Cheezmouser asked me to share this upsetting news with you. This is very overwhelming for her, so for the time being she has asked that others not bring up her pregnancy. She knows that you are all very supportive and care a lot about her. It’s just a little too raw right now as she and her family are processing this. Right now this is what she needs from us.

        2. WellRed*

          I’m so sorry. It’s not on you to worry about creating a certain culture. Take care of yourself and I honestly think people will be so sympathetic and also understand your desire for privacy.

        3. Cordelia*

          As others have said, your plan to have your supervisor tell people is a good one. I just wanted to add, re your concerns about the culture you want to create – I think the best work culture is one where people can be open if they want to be, and have their privacy respected if they don’t. That’s the message you are sending to your team here. So please, concentrate on yourself, and don’t add in this extra worry. I’m so sorry.

        4. allathian*

          I’m so sorry for your loss. I hope that you can focus on yourself and your needs for now and for a good while going forward. I like One HR Opinion’s script above.

    2. HonorBox*

      Cheezmouser, I’m so so sorry. Your strategy in asking your supervisor to spread the word and put up a barrier on your behalf is perfect. I think it is very valid to reinforce with your supervisor (who can reinforce this with coworkers who care about you and definitely mean well) that talking about it is absolutely horrible and you’d rather not have to go through that trauma over and over. This is valid in this situation, and equally as valid if someone is diagnosed with ____ or has ______ (tragic situation) in their life. And it is definitely true that it can be additionally exhausting when you’re going through this because you’re managing the feelings of others too. It is impossible for those who are caring and supportive to just look at you neutrally and as though they don’t know something… but if there’s any way to remove any sort of conversation, at least you can shield yourself to a certain extent.

    3. Generic Name*

      Ohhhh, I’m so sorry. Please take care of yourself as much as possible. A coworker had a late term pregnancy loss a few years ago. It’s a small company, and the head of HR actually told everyone in person (or called if they were remote). I think telling your boss and asking them to disseminate the news is perfectly appropriate.

    4. Emily S.*

      I can’t advise you, but wanted to say, I am SO sorry you and your spouse are going through this. What a rough situation. I hope you are prioritizing self-care.

      I liked what an earlier commenter said: “Focus on yourself and your needs. Try not to stress about work.” Amen to that.

    5. Diatryma*

      I went through a similar thing and it sucks. I’m sorry.

      If you have doubts at all about how your supervisor will communicate things, you may want to give them a script or a very clear list of things to tell others. I had asked my supervisor to fill others in, and she didn’t tell anyone, so that was terrible.

      My situation was not ongoing, so this may not help you, but one thing that really helped was to have cards printed up explaining what happened, that I didn’t want to talk about it, and that the recipient could say X. Nonverbal, minimal interaction, could be posted on a bulletin board or just handed to people as needed. Sometimes I wasn’t up for a whole conversation about it, and sometimes I just wanted friends I didn’t see often to know what was going on without making a big announcement at every social gathering with new people.

  54. WorkerJawn*

    Instead of asking a question, I wanted to share a small work win from this week. (I hope that’s okay with the rules for Friday threads!)

    I was asked to lead a meeting this week where I normally act as a note taker. I didn’t feel 100% prepared, but decided to go for it. While making small talk before the meeting, an older gentleman asked if I was still in school, very much implying he thought I was an undergrad. As a young(ish) professional who is treated as a woman, that didn’t feel great. What did feel great was breezily replying “Oh no, I finished my master’s years ago.”

    It completely diffused my own irritation with the question, and I gained some respect from another person on the call! Admittedly a very small moment, but I’m happy about it nonetheless.

    1. Anecdata*

      congratulations! great poised and informative response (and I might steal that line for the next time I get asked how my internship is going!)

  55. Spreadsheet Hero*

    Kind of an odd workplace appropriateness question, and if this was anywhere else I wouldn’t bother asking, but…

    I work in a very tiny, very casual government office in a tiny Colorado town, where I have become known as the good kind of boring. The one who doesn’t mind your extremely boring clerical tasks and is thrilled to pull up Excel and make a spreadsheet.

    Would one of those “freak in the (excel spread)sheets” coffee mugs (think something like this: be inappropriate to keep my pens in?

    1. Generic Name*

      I mean it’s funny, but I wouldn’t only because it obliquely refers to sex. But I may be more on the conservative side when it comes to that kind of talk at work. For reference I work in the Denver metro area.

    2. just another queer reader*

      Personally I would not, because for several reasons (being a young queer woman) I really don’t want to bring up my sex life around my coworkers, even in an indirect and funny way.

      I think it’s a great joke though, and have appreciated this photo with my friends.

      If there’s a coworker whose judgement you trust, maybe ask them how they think it would go over in your office.

    3. Katherine Vigneras*

      I have this mug. It lives at home. I think the freak in the sheets connotation is too much for work, for me.

    4. Anecdata*

      I wouldn’t, partly because you’re in government which could be worth being a bit more careful about (and am guessing a more conservative part of Colorado bc of the small town). But I’d definitely snicker if I saw your mug!

      1. talos*

        There are 2 kinds of Colorado small town…the rural farm town (conservative), and the mountain ski town (probably rich-person liberal). OP hopefully knows which one they’re in.

    5. Jenna Webster*

      There are some really funny non-sexual mugs – I love the Spreadsheet Ninja one the best, but go to Amazon and look up funny mugs excel and you’ll find a lot. I worked with someone once who had something similar once and it did impact how people treated her, whether or not it should have.

  56. Tai*

    Got any general tips for putting together business casual outfits?

    I also have a couple of specific questions. First Q- I need to buy trousers to go with one or more of my blazers. The blazers are navy, black, and grey. Blazers and trousers should be different — non-clashing — colors, right? So can I buy pants in one or more of the same 3 colors (not necessarily the same fabric as the blazers) and then mix-and-match?

    Second Q- it seems to me that women’s fashion was all about the cropped look in recent years and now it’s all about the oversized look. Would you agree? One of my blazers is fitted/slightly cropped. The other two are slightly oversized. Which fit is considered more “current” or preferable right now? I would wear it with slim-fit and/or ankle trousers.

    1. beanie gee*

      I’ve never heard that blazers and trousers should be different colors! But I also tend to define business casual as much more casual than you’re describing. Nice pants + blazer, or maybe not a blazer at all, but not necessarily “business pants” as in suit-like trousers. But I’m on the west coast where everything tends to be more casual!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I think the idea is that if they’re different colors, they’re obviously not trying to be a SET, where if you pick a black slacks and a black jacket that are different fabrics or not quite the same shade of black, it might give the impression that you’re trying to fake a suit with separates and not quite making it?

    2. Alex*

      Unless you work in the fashion industry, I’d choose whichever blazer looks best on you, rather than the absolute latest trend. Both are current enough that it’s fine. Cropped things all look AWFUL on me so I avoid them regardless of the fashion (but they look fine on others–just not me!).

      For navy, black, and gray blazers, it’s great to buy coordinating but not matching pants. It might be nice to mix in some other neutrals–taupe/tan, white, olive, burgundy, or even a checked pattern. I bought a black/white/navy checked pattern pants and was surprised how many of my tops it goes with.

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      I’d watch out with the oversize look lest you end up like Gillian Anderson in the first season of X Files, where she was drowning in her suits. But as long as the look is still “tailored” and not “I borrowed my mom’s jacket for Class Picture Day” it should be fine!

    4. Random Dice*

      I agree, a blazer is a step up in formality from business casual. A casual blazer maybe, with the sleeves rolled up.

      But LW, you might consider sticking in color families. The advice that transformed my wardrobe was to only buy colors that coordinated well enough to be able to get dressed in the dark.

      So navy and grey go together, and black and grey go together – but navy and black don’t. Instead you could choose navy, grey, and a pop color that goes with both (red, or yellow, or turquoise); or black, grey, and white, with a pop color.

  57. EngineerResearcher*

    Maybe more of a rant than an ask for advice (though if you have any advice, please share it), but I am so frustrated with handling bad audio from people in virtual meetings! I routinely have meetings that are not productive because I spend the whole time going “The audio’s bad, can you speak up?” and “Can you repeat that?” and “Sorry, I missed that”. I know it’s on the other end, because nothing about my set up changes and some folks are fine and some are garbled nonsense. I have one supervisor who just will not use a headset and leans away from the computer when they get to talking. Other coworkers use headphones with seemingly bad connections and just occasionally verge on yelling to the point I can understand what is being said. These are usually 1-on-1 meetings too, so there’s no one else to say anything. I’ve tried phone calls to bypass the software audio, and those are still challenging sans headset with these folks. Three years in to virtual meetings being common, I wish we had a better handle on this!

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I have a coworker who is always nervously clicking his mouse when speaking. I have other coworkers who cover up their mouths when talking, or have microphones rubbing against fuzzy clothing, etc. I think it also goes to lack of public speaking training and awareness in general.

    2. JustaTech*

      No advice, just commiseration! My laptop mic has never worked properly, and my work doesn’t provide headsets or external mics, so if I didn’t use my personal headset no one would ever be able to hear me.

    3. The New Wanderer*

      No advice but I share your frustration. Last week I logged off an all-hands meeting after 1.5 minutes, before it even started, because a handful of people on the call did not mute themselves. After 90 seconds of chewing, breathing, and typing, I couldn’t take anymore.

      I do have a funny story though – we hosted a hybrid Zoom meeting where 20 people were in a conference room and another 20 or so called in. Zoom has the auto-closed captioning option, which somebody turned on to help with the dreaded “can’t hear the speaker” issues. The solution was far worse than the problem. The majority of presenters spoke fluent English with strong accents, the meeting was technical in nature and used a number of common acronyms, and the translator program could. not. cope. I would have paid money to see the transcript from the meeting because from what I could tell, it read like a crazy Mad Libs, stream of consciousness monologue. I couldn’t look at it for more than a few lines or I’d start giggling, it was ridiculously bad. Suffice to say, if you didn’t know what we were talking about, you’d have no clue based on the transcript.

  58. Janeric*

    I like my job or HAVE liked my job but. But.

    It’s my little group’s busy season — we have a lot of work to organize and get out the door in the next month and a half with lots of moving parts. This is our first time doing this without a supervisor, so we’re short-staffed (it’s me and one other person) AND figuring it out as we go.

    I was helping another group with a HUGE project because that group was down to one (very talented!) junior employee and it was helpful for them to meet once a week and talk about next steps and tasks accomplished. Then that employee got another job and I took on helping to document their work for the team that would come in after they left.

    Yesterday in a BIG meeting the head of our department was like “oh that’s a BIG project, person who is leaving in four days and Janeric are working very hard on it, we expect it out by ”

    The department head has historically not been responsive to updates on what we’re doing — and honestly, about four months in to not having a supervisor I gave up trying. So.

    I need scripts to say “heeeey do you want me to do Big Project or do you want our group to meet our deliverables for this year because if I really push myself I can achieve ONE of those things.”

    I also need to know if this level of disconnection and poor direction is fixable or if I need a new job.

  59. Indicted? I thought I was Indicated!*

    Rant/Vent: What do you do when you’re recently resigned boss calls to ‘check in on you’? Don’t answer/hang up.

    Said Boss left 1-week ago today, after giving 10 business days’ notice to the team and then taking 4-days of PTO during that time. They effectively left me with a sh-t sandwich and a warm beer to stress over with a few projects while leadership tells me to ‘move on’ except Said Boss legacy rests with me as I read their email, take their phone calls and assume their responsibilities (I’m the lowest paid team member, boss was a VP) while teammates didn’t assume any responsibilities.

    1. HonorBox*

      I don’t think you owe them time unless you absolutely have the time (or desire) to give them. It sounds like Said Boss left you in a bad spot, and I’m sure they realize that, hence the calls to check in on you. But you don’t have to be overly kind or find the time to chat. If you want to maintain a good relationship, maybe give them a call in a couple of weeks to follow up and let them know you were super busy, but wanted to just say hello.

      I do also think it is absolutely worth asking your leadership what their plan is for those responsibilities that you’ve assumed. You’re doing extra work and there should be some sort of plan in place for how and when that is eventually pulled from your task list, or how you’re to prioritize your other (previously regular) tasks, or how you’re going to see your compensation increase. Or a combination of the three.

    2. Zofran*

      I think the anger needs to be at your leadership and coworkers who seem to think it’s fine to pile this on you with no help. Your boss gave two weeks notice and someone ok’d them taking 4 days off during that time.

      I don’t think you have to talk to them at all tho, regardless of how you feel about them!

  60. Mint Berry Crunch*

    I just got a job offer to what seems like a really great company with awesome benefits (yay!). They offered me 2k under the range I gave them but with a roughly 2k annual bonus based on performance (that they said they ensure everyone meets). So really it’s like meeting my minimum ask and there would be profit sharing on top of that. I haven’t given them a decision yet but I’m likely to take the job.

    I’m wondering if I should negotiate. I’ve never been in a position where I felt like I could negotiate before but I also don’t want to blow the job offer because I think it would be great regardless. It’s still a bit more money than I make currently either way but I’m stuck on how to approach them.

    In the meantime I also asked my current employer if they could offer me more but I’ll probably take the new job either way because the culture and benefits seem so much better than where I am now.

    Any advice for me?

    1. EMP*

      Definitely negotiate! Unless you’ve already gone back and forth and they’ve said 2k under your range is the best they can do? But it sounds like this is the first number they gave you. If so, I would respond and say you are excited about the job and appreciate the 2k bonus, but you would really like to see your base pay meet $X, can they do that? Allison has a lot of scripts on the blog here for this situation!

    2. Somehow_I_Manage*

      They are aware they offered below your range. I think that’s an invitation to bring it up. Keep it short and simple. “I am very interested in the the opportunity and am eager to make this happen, but it is below my requested range. Can you meet me at $X?” See what they say.

      /There are ways to negotiate harder, but based on your post, it sounds like you’d be willing to accept the position as is. This is a middle road to advocate for yourself without putting the position in much jeopardy. The reason it works in your favor is you are communicating to them, “if you offer $X, I will say yes.” If I tell my leadership for only $2k more in base salary we can lock this person down today; it’s an easy ask.

      1. HonorBox*

        I’d agree with this 100%. Without knowing all the specifics, if a candidate my company really wanted came back and asked for $2 more, and it was someone we really liked, we’d absolutely meet them there. And by using this suggested language, it’s much less likely for them to read it as something that would cause them to back away.

      2. Mint Berry Crunch*

        Great advice thanks! It feels a bit daunting because in my past job hunting I’ve felt like “please hire me I’ll take anything above min wage to just get my foot in the door!” It’s really nice and weird to not be in that position any more and to get out of that headspace.

    3. mreasy*

      Always negotiate. I have been in a similar situation , where they went lower on the base salary because of bonus structure. I told them I prefer the higher baseline for security, and we met in the middle. (They did not pay the full bonus in 2022, so I’m glad I did this.)

    4. Still*

      Definitely negotiate! They might say no but no reasonable company is going to pull your offer just because you try to negotiate. They expect it!

    5. Roland*

      > So really it’s like meeting my minimum ask and there would be profit sharing on top of that.

      It’s not like that, because raises don’t take bonuses into account. Alison has great resources on negotiating, I found the podcast episode (there’s a transcript too) to be super helpful.

    6. Girasol*

      Negotiate but don’t go back to current boss. Once you’ve said “I’ve got a job offer but I might stay if you pay me more,” your relationship with your manager is likely to be quite different.

  61. I'm fabulous!*

    Due to economics, I’m looking at leaving freelancing and going back to a staff position (which I haven’t had since 2010). My background is in publishing and I’m thinking I would fit in associate role (I possess 25 years of work experience). My problem is that I’m shy and I have been bullied and made fun of by past colleagues so I worry about fitting into an office setting. Not sure how to handle this.

    1. EMP*

      This seems like a prime opportunity for (a) therapy and (b) informal/informational interviews with professional associates who have staff roles. See if you can meet some of their colleagues over coffee and see how friendly they are (I’m sure most of them will be).

  62. AnonForToday*

    I just found out my company is starting regular team building activities that involve something I can’t be around for medical reasons (baking with flour; I have celiac). I’d much rather parlay this into more WFH privileges for myself rather than get the activity shut down. Any suggestions for how to talk to HR about that?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Hello from someone else with celiac! I have a few thoughts:

      1 – It should be easy to get out of the baking activities but might be more difficult to turn it into a WFH opportunity for you. Is the baking taking place in the office? If so, explain that it is better for your health if you work from home on those days to avoid the airborne flour. If the baking is taking place away from the office, explain that you will focus better at home rather then surrounded by your coworkers’ empty desks.

      2 – Is there a specific reason you mention talking to HR about this instead of your boss? In most places, your manager is the person you should approach first but there could be a reason for this at your organization.

      3 – If you’re having trouble being excused from the activity, look into ADA accommodations. Celiac should qualify, but I don’t know what (if any) documentation you would need to have for your company to start the accommodation process.

      4 – Accept that they might change the activity so that you can participate. If I were you, I wouldn’t fight that. If the company wants to bring workers closer together, they should find an activity that everyone can participate in.

      1. AnonForToday*

        hello! The activity is taking place in the office, which is very open (no barrier between kitchen and workspaces). Apparently blenders are used, so I’m sure flour is flung far. I thought flour could stay airborne for 48 hours, so it is a significant risk for me to be in office.

        My boss is based at an external site. HR is based here and hosted the event, so I guess my mind just went there first? But maybe trying the boss first is a good idea, although they don’t know about my diagnosis and HR does.

        I was thinking that it would be a win/win if I got WFH; I get all the benefits of WFH and everyone else gets to keep doing a fun baking event. If getting WFH is a long shot though, maybe I could ask them to prepare the dough elsewhere and bring it in to cook.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I can’t see why WFH would be rejected for this at ALL. One of my coworkers is so sensitive to gluten she can’t work in our phone center because it’s above one of our pizza restaurants and the flour dust gives her terrible rashes. She is wonderful at her job, we all love her, and our manager set her up with a home headset/keyboard instantly rather than lose her.

          If your workplace cannot accommodate your serious medical need for two days they need serious re-evaluation.

    2. *kalypso*

      You’re more likely to get better results by treating those issues separately rather than tying them together. If they’re sold on team-building, they’re going to see you not participating as not being part of the team, and not consider ‘I’m happy to be left out while everyone else does teamwork!’ as a solution to ‘I cannot do this activity for medical reasons’, and it’s also likely they won’t easily understand why just giving you GF flour isn’t going to be a reasonable accommodation.

      Whereas if you can do your job from home and it benefits your performance, you can sell that without tying it to what may come across as ‘I don’t want to participate in the team’ by showing you can work better from home, and still connecting with the team.

    3. Sara Dippity*

      How often will this specific baking team building activity occur? What about wearing a mask so you don’t ingest the flour while participating in the activity? Unfortunately many HRs loathe WFH. It seems unlikely that this would translate to a WFH opportunity unless your manager or HR is extremely flexible and accommodating.

    4. Janeric*

      Hmm. If you have the smallest of rapport with HR, I’d talk to them in person and be really cheerful. Otherwise, do exactly the same with your boss and then follow up with HR about not being able to attend.

      – you have celiac so the airborne flour is a significant health risk for you (find some good sources to share for specifics) so you can’t participate
      – you can’t be in an enclosed space for 48 hours after this event or in any space that shared air vents
      – it sounds fun though, you don’t want to limit everyone else — can they stick you in an office that doesn’t share the same AC system for those three days? You’re also happy to work from home during that if it’s easier to set up.

      Good luck!

      1. Janeric*

        Oh also maybe propose putting the activity on Thursday/Friday to “minimize the disruption to your workflow”.

        And possibly ask if they’ll occasionally have a teambuilding activity that you, with your disability, can participate in. Look wistful.

    5. WellRed*

      Baking! Also, I’m horrified the kitchen has no separation from workspaces in general. Toasters dinging, microwaves beeping, food smells.

  63. HSTeacherToBe*

    Job interviews coming up for me! High school teaching positions in the Bay Area. Suggestions? Do I go fully formal or just my regular teaching outfit (button down and slacks)?

    1. just another queer reader*

      The rule of thumb is to dress up more for an interview than you would for the job. I don’t know your field, but I’m guessing formal attire is more the right vibe!

      1. Spreadsheet Hero*

        The west coast tends to be more casual. I’d say a button down and slacks should be fine — maybe throw on a cardigan/blazer or a funky tie, if you really feel the need to dress up.

    2. Rara Avis*

      Teacher in the Bay Area. Most candidates come in dressed at the nicer end of teacher wear. (Like adding a tie and jacket.)

    3. Irish Teacher*

      I’m in Ireland, so may be different for ye, but here, people usually seemed to be more or less fully formal. Men generally wore suits and ties and women wore suit jacket and skirt or pants (more commonly pants).

    4. HSTeacherToBe*

      Ended up doing a slightly more fancy version of my usual outfit (threw on a black cardigan). Thanks y’all :)

  64. EMP*

    Can anyone share personal experience going from FT software development to either contract work, consulting, or freelancing – NOT in web development?
    I’m considering options that would let me work part time for a while after maternity leave next year, and while I will reach out to my network to ask their thoughts, I wanted to ask the broader AAM community too. The kicker seem to be many of the easy to get roles are focused on app or web development, which isn’t something I have any experience with.

  65. Lumos*

    I was just passed up for a promotion to the job I’ve had to fill in for twice now. I’m the back up for the position and the role is basically my job plus a little extra. They went with someone with more career experience from another division and told me that I lost out because I still make errors when manual entry is a factor. I understand going with someone with more experience, but I sort of resent the feedback that I need to be absolutely perfect with no typos ever. It seems unrealistic and it’s actually a big reason we’ve been pushing to automate a lot of our processes since before I came on. “Never make mistakes ever” feels like unreachable feedback. I basically just want to see how off base I am on this? There are some other contributing factors that have lowered my current job satisfaction, so I’m trying to see if it’s just those things that are affecting me or if this actually is what it feels like from an outside perspective.

    1. HonorBox*

      I don’t think you sound off base, as I think it is pretty impossible to expect someone to never make a mistake. Also, you’ve filled in for the role twice now, so it seems like you’re good enough to do the job for a period of time.

      That said, I wonder if there’s something more to the explanation than just you make errors. It might be worth asking for a meeting with decision makers just to inquire how you might be able to move into this role on a permanent basis. If the answer is “never make errors” you could point out that others also make errors (if they do, and you’re aware of that) and offer suggestions for how you might consider solving for the human element. They’re perhaps going to see you as a forward thinker and not someone error-prone.

      1. Lumos*

        Unfortunately, that feedback was directly from the decision makers. The role that was open is my direct supervisor so I plan to meet with the new person when they start and ask some more questions about that. I spoke with my old boss about the process afterward (she had no input on the hiring at all) and she encouraged me to look at other teams since this was basically the only growth opportunity on my current team. The decision makers don’t get to see a lot of my day to day work and the only time they really were able to peek at it was a particularly chaotic special period, so my old supervisor thinks that may have colored their opinion, but the only thing they told me was what I have listed above.

        1. Girasol*

          Sometimes a hiring manager will make the mistake of imagining that an external candidate is perfect because they know nothing about the person except for the image presented in the interview. They compare the internal candidate, whose flaws they have seen, to the external one, and external one wins. Then the external candidate gets the job and soon disappoints because it turns out that he’s only human too. If you don’t move on your managers may change their minds about your skills later.

          1. Camelid coordinator*

            I was thinking this, too. It may be time to look outside of your group/department/company.

  66. Just me*

    Has anyone noticed a dip in job satisfaction right after employees get a raise or promotion? I supervise a great department of about 25 people on several different teams. We rarely have anyone leave and we make sure everyone gets a COLA every year and additional raises/ promotions and equity adjustments when that is warranted. Our salaries and level of latitude/ creative freedom are at the top of our field and within our larger organization. However I’ve noticed a pretty consistent pattern when people get bigger raises or promotions that they are initially thrilled then they go though a few month period of seeming a little anxious or questioning their career. Then they are fine again and go back to being calm and confident. This also happens when we hire someone and it is a big move up for them in terms of pay or responsibility.

    1. saskia*

      Yes, this is common on my team. And like you said, it usually evens out after a little while!

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Personally, I’ve experienced the realization that the extra money doesn’t make up for the lack of work life balance or the drama my job had. Money apparently doesn’t solve everything afterall. They’ll probably even out in a couple weeks.

  67. Recruitment?*

    I received a “cold email” from a recruiter this morning with a job I would be interested in learning more about. I am (very) early into a job search. Does anyone have a sense as to how legitimate these cold emails are? Thanks in advance for any insight.

    1. EMP*

      It varies wildly. Oftentimes they’re using keywords from LinkedIn or lists they’ve compiled from various sources. But if it seems relevant to your experience, it doesn’t hurt to contact them back and get more information.

    2. Not that kind of doctor*

      I’ve definitely gotten interviews and job offers from leads that recruiters cold-emailed me. Based on other comments I’ve seen on this website, sometimes recruiters don’t have an actual job in mind, they just want to add you to their stable of potential workers, so check out how much detail they give to get a sense of whether they’re actively working on filling a specific role. Personally, I figure it’s worth a phone call to find out more if you’re intrigued. Good luck!

    3. Donner*

      Google a sentence from the job description. You can frequently find the posting from there and know if it’s a legit posting.

    4. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      In my experience, it depends a lot on how they found you.

      Best: they are working with someone who knows you, and asked that person for names of contacts they have who might be good candidates for positions A-D, or even just in general.

      Worst: they have a professional LinkedIn account, saw that you had recent activity (updating your profile or whatever), and just sent an automated message.

  68. WantonSeedStitch*

    Just a little AAAAHHHHH.

    My husband has an interview next week. He hasn’t had a full-time job in several years (he’s been doing armed forces reserve work, but that’s irregular). He’s currently caring for our son full time two days a week while I work, and our son goes to daycare the other three days a week. If he gets this job:
    + We have a lot more money. He wouldn’t be earning as much as I do, especially as I just had a significant market adjustment, but it would be a solid salary.
    – We would have to get a new daycare. The one my son is at now only allows for 8-hour days. No paying extra for a longer day. My son loves his daycare. There’s a significant childcare shortage in my area, too, which would make things hard, especially on short notice.
    + We’d at least have more money to pay for a pricier daycare, which we’d probably need to do.
    – I don’t drive. If my husband has to travel for the reserves or for his new job, I can’t bring my son to daycare unless I can get him there on foot. Paying for three days a week max of a less-expensive daycare when we don’t use it is annoying. Paying for five days a week of a pricier daycare would really suck.

    This whole navigating-childcare thing is hard.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Congrats to your husband!!!

      When I was a kid we were a one car family. I have great memories of first riding on my moms bike and later biking alongside my mom to and from school every day. Depends a lot on your area but there’s some great commuter with kid bike options out there. Might widen your distance for suitable daycares. Carpool is sometimes an option too, might be worth seeing if another family at the daycare would be willing to drive for $.

      Other option have you considered paying a part time carer for those other 2 days? Maybe you can get lucky there and then keep the regular daycare.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        Let me tell you, even though it would mean a wild scamper for new childcare, my fingers are crossed so hard for him with this job!

        I’ll have to look into the safety of biking with a toddler. I would need to get us both helmets–I haven’t ridden my bike in so long that I no longer have one–and an attachable seat. Carpooling is definitely something I would look at!

        1. ErinB*

          Another vote for biking with a toddler!

          The start up costs can be steep, as you note – helmets and kid seats, etc – but the payoff can be so fun. We currently bike our kids to daycare, parks, stores, etc. and it has been so fun. There is something about it that feels like we’re spending ‘better’ time with them than when we’re all in the car (although this is likely just because I dislike driving so much!)

          In terms of getting comfortable, I started by biking alone on the city streets that I’d need to take with my kid(s) and simultaneously practicing with them on my bike on protected/non-road bike paths. Once I felt comfortable with the change in weight and balance from having the kid riding with me, I put the two together, so to speak, biking them for longer and longer distances.

          I went from bike apathetic to (mildly?) family-bike-obsessed in the span of a few years, so I’m happy to chat more offline if that would be useful!

          1. WantonSeedStitch*

            Thanks! I poked around a bit on a very safety-conscious parenting group I’m in on Facebook, and they recommended a child bike trailer. There’s apparently a rather good one available for under $150, which sounds very reasonable. I’m most nervous about the streets and the drivers on them. Also hills, because I am out of shape, and toting a trailer plus kid behind me does not sound easy on a hill!

        2. EMP*

          It increases the cost, but there’s an increasing number of motor-assist ebikes out there too now, a lot of them geared at families with kids!

    2. Just me*

      A lot of people in my town pay a college student to pick up their kids from school and take them home and watch them for an hour or two.

  69. Called Birdy*

    This situation is new to me, so curious about those with experience. If you receive two job offers, how does asking one company to match the salary of the other company work? I’m assuming they simply ask for the written offer to verify the information, but that they would not actually call up the other HR because that sounds crazy…

    1. beanie gee*

      I could be wrong, but I don’t think the two companies ever communicate. I don’t think there’s a “verify” phase – you just treat it as part of the negotiation process. You let the lower offer company know that you’re trying to decide between two offers, and the other company has offered x. That you’d prefer to work for them, are they able to match that offer?

      Good luck!

    2. EngineerResearcher*

      I did once negotiate and have them ask for the written offer from the other organization, sent it along and got a matched offer within a day. They never talked to each other though, just me.

  70. Everything All The Time*

    I commented last week about a coworker who was stomping all over my boundaries for emotional support and, apparently, also financial support.

    We ended up in separate meetings with HR, where it turns out that he had asked several other women in the office for money and sympathy, and they were all appalled.
    it’s also been revealed that HR and our bossed didn’t know that he was driving without car insurance on a couple of work trips. He is currently on a PIP for other reasons but is currently still working here.

    I’m making liberal use of the EAP services provided for the company, and several of my major stressors are resolving next week so I’m hoping I can get back to my regular professional gray-rock but kind self soon.

    1. HonorBox*

      I’m sorry but what? He was driving on a work trip without car insurance and still works there? That’s illegal and even if he’s in his own personal vehicle, the company could have been sued. And then asking coworkers for money? What the heck???

      I’m glad that you’re using your EAP and things are resolving for you. This a crummy situation that your coworker (and bosses) have caused/allowed to happen.

      1. Everything All The Time*

        in HR and my boss’s defense, there were a lot of messages and screenshots of him asking for money to get through, and they only found the one confirming he was begging “for money to retroactively cover his insurance” either this morning or last night, so it’s entirely possible and very likely that on Monday he won’t be here anymore.
        Everyone else he told was verbally, and only one person had “Oh my god you haven’t paid car insurance in HOW LONG?!”

    2. Unkempt Flatware*

      Possible to link back to your comment from last week? I’m currently dealing with a boss who inappropriately uses me for emotional support/labor and I feel really gross about it.

    3. Peanut Hamper*

      I’m sorry, but I saw this today:

      I’m hoping I can get back to my regular professional gray-rock but kind self soon

      and this from last week:

      I have two or three “That’s terribles” left

      and I got a chuckle out of imagining you sitting that at your desk with a jar full of little grey slips of paper that say “That’s terrible!” on one side and “I do not have the energy to help you, please call EAP” on the other, and whenever he comes by, you don’t even look up, you just reach in the jar, grab one of the pieces of paper, and hand it to him, and then just continue on with your day.

      1. Everything All The Time*

        God I wish. Usually I can at least muster the right tone of voice and inflections and words, and that would’ve made it so much easier.

    4. Camelid coordinator*

      I remember your comment from last week, and I am so glad you raised the issue of him asking for money at work. I hope his situation gets resolved quickly (and gets him out of your hair) and that your major stressors resolve happily as well.

  71. Anon for this*

    Wondering if I was being naive or if I was actively misled here.

    So I just started a new job at a large company. When I received the offer, they sent me an overview of the benefits. In the time off portion it said that non-exempt employees get 13 vacation days, and then separately it listed the company’s “winter break” (closing between Christmas and New Year’s Day) as a benefit. I assume this meant that I would get 13 vacation days *and* separate paid time off for the winter break.

    Well, I got more documentation about the benefits when I started, and the policy is employees are required to use vacation days for winter break. We don’t get them as extra days off, nor can we take it unpaid.

    I’m feeling misled by the benefits statement I received when I was offered the job, especially as the number of vacation days for non-exempt employees isn’ great on its own. Am I justified in feeling this way, or was I naive and should have known this is what they meant?

    (Even if I had known this, I still would have accepted the job because the other benefits are good and it’s a huge pay increase. But I’m annoyed because I thought I was only losing one week of vacation relative to my previous job, and now I realize I’ll have two weeks fewer.)

    1. WellRed*

      No I would have thought the same. Plus, that means the amount of vacation is absolutely sht. It was bad enough at 13 days.

    2. rhubarbpie*

      This is definitely misleading! Winter break, as it’s done at other companies is supposed to be extra. Am I correct in interpreting that you can’t choose to work winter break instead and keep those PTO days? That makes it especially bad.

      1. Anon for this*

        Correct, we cannot choose to work during the winter break, so that means for the rest of the year we only have 9 vacation days. I’m feeling bummed about this. While I usually take between Christmas and New Year’s off, I thought I’d essentially have 17-18 vacation days and now realize it’s just 13.

        The company does provide separate sick leave at least, but it’s still a crappy PTO package.

        It sucks too because exempt employees get unlimited PTO, so they can take the winter break and then still take 3-4 weeks off the rest of the year. But for us non-exempt employees it’s not really a benefit.

        1. rhubarbpie*

          The fact that there is a discrepancy this large between exempt and non-exempt makes this even worse! I’m so sorry.

    3. Donner*

      I don’t think you are naive if they actually called those days vacation days. I have always seen shut downs included in benefits as similar to having holidays off, meaning part of pto but not in the same bucket as vacation and sick (I think calling a shut down a paid holiday is also a scam, but at least it doesn’t cut into my vacation time).

    4. HonorBox*

      Because it was listed separately, I don’t think you’re being naive. And if the business says they are closed, I think it sucks to then charge employees for that time. Would you be allowed to work if you wanted to?

      It might be worth mentioning at some point when you’ve been there a bit of time, that the way that is presented is misleading and would be not at all different from them saying “here are our paid holidays… July 4, Labor Day, Thanksgiving” and then charging employees for it. They need to clarify that more/better.

      1. Anon for this*

        I might raise this issue later. I think the issue is they give the same overview to exempt and non-exempt employees, and exempt employees get unlimited PTO, so for them it is a benefit in a way it isn’t for non-exempt employees.

  72. rhubarbpie*

    I think I might be getting a job offer soon — I am at the top of their salary band, and they can’t offer more, but it’s a little less than I was hoping. What other things/benefits can I ask for to sweeten the deal and make me more excited to accept?

    1. WellRed*

      Paid time off, flexible schedule, wfh if possible. Paid for additional training education.

    2. Somehow_I_Manage*

      It’s really opportunity specific. Many places don’t have flexibility on benefits. It’s really hard to advise without knowing what would be outlandish. But, a wide range of examples include:
      – Profit sharing or bonus participation
      – Ownership or stock shares
      – Additional PTO
      – Shorter vesting periods in retirement
      – Corporate lease for vehicle
      – Specific items for your workstation
      – Adjusted or reduced hours (e.g., 36 hours a week instead of 40)
      – Commitment to hire specific support staff for you
      – Specialized software licenses

      /That’s all over the map- but just some ideas.

  73. Angus McDonald, Child Detective*

    Do I have a responsibility to warn someone if I’m going to report them to their manager? I work in an office and one of my tasks is taking calls from customers needing home repairs and passing their details on to the repair person. But one specific person, “John” is notorious for never getting back to customers. I get calls multiple days, sometimes weeks, in a row from customers saying they were expecting a call from him and never got one. Sometimes these customers request to speak to his manager, when that happens do I have to also speak to John and say this customer is so unhappy I’m having to escalate this?

    1. Unkempt Flatware*

      No. Not at all. I’d argue further that he has no right to that information at all even if you were best work friends. The warning should be an internal one from within his own self.

    2. HonorBox*

      Not at all. And if John ever asked you about it and why you didn’t give him a heads up, I’d mention that to the manager AND tell John that you have no idea what is being discussed by the customer and the manager. They could be trading fishing stories for all you know. Your responsibility is to the customer and getting them where they need to go.

    3. Sylvan*

      Nope, just go for it.

      If you talk to him first, he’ll know who talked to his manager and he might try to cover his butt or blame you.

      I wouldn’t say this if he were having minor, rare miscommunications that could be worked out with a conversation with him. But it sounds like he’s just not doing his job on a regular basis. Let his boss deal with it.

    4. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      You’re actually not having to escalate this. You’re not the one escalating – you’re just providing contact info per the customer’s request.

  74. Not that kind of doctor*

    Has anyone heard of a policy banning laid-off employees from being hired back in less than a year?

    My husband got laid off after some talk of moving him to another role and then hitting a hiring freeze that made that impossible. It sucks but these things happen. However, he saw some new job postings this week with his old employer and got in touch to ask if the hiring freeze was loosening and he could talk about coming back. Well… it turns out the company has a policy that he can’t be hired back for a year. Why on earth would this policy exist? It’s like a reverse non-compete – they’re forcing him to join a competitor and preventing themselves from getting his experience back on their team. Any insights?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Sometimes one division will use layoffs as a way to get rid of malcontents and borderline crooks under the guise of a simple headcount reduction – and furthermore won’t tell HR, upper management, or other divisions what the real reason was.

      So the company puts in this policy because they know this kind of thing happens, and they don’t want those people to go through a revolving door and use their inside info to continue manipulating the system, getting revenge, etc.

    2. BellyButton*

      The two most common I know about–
      1. They may have a written and published policy that states if anyone is rehired in under 12 months they are reinstated at their last salary scale and PTO amounts
      2. They are hiring for that position at a lower level and lower pay scale

    3. Girasol*

      I was part of a layoff of several thousand and the rule was that none of us could ever be hired back. The company changed the rule several years later when business improved and they realized that they needed previous employees in the candidate pool.

    4. *kalypso*

      Yes, it happens here and part of it is so people can’t leave and get rehired in different pay bands, and their PTO/long service won’t carry over, creating hassles when entitlements have been paid out but might then accrue at different rates, or inflate entitlements with previous service, or someone might be paid effectively double for their time in terms of beingin receipt of PTO, being paid at NewRole, and accruing PTO in NewRole. Some orgs will do it up to three years, pay out entitlements, and make people sign a release that says they understand they can’t apply for x long and then if they do they will start at level 1 in that band and start from 0 days service, 0 days PTO, 0 sick leave etc.

      Another aspect is actually the protection from misuse of corporate knowledge – they can’t pick someone up who’s worked elsewhere for six months and be seen as using people as spies, or have people move between locations and be the toxic “but at OtherLocation we did this” person. It also prevents people leaving with a degree of dissatisfaction bringing that straight back into the org.

  75. RagingADHD*

    Any job title help available?

    So, I’ve been freelance writing for about eight years, and I could tell last summer that the writing was on the wall for my niche. That downturn has been accelerating since the fall, and my client base just finished imploding this week, when my biggest client announced that they will not be assigning any new freelance work, it’s all going in-house.

    I’ve been job hunting about six months, and I’m sick of writing for other people, so I’m looking to go back to my prior career in executive support and legal secretary work. I’m getting a few interviews, but nothing has stuck except a horrible place that I turned down for my own sanity back when I first started looking. (Of course, now I’m wondering if it was really my best option. A terrible thought).

    I think the freelance writing is a turnoff, but an eight year employment gap would be worse –and not true, I actually have a lot more skills now than when I left the 9-5 workforce, and make much better money (or at least I did make much better money up through this month. After that, crickets). I have been consulting on content strategy and positioning, creating books and social media content, newsletters, done a little grantwriting, and managing long, complex creative projects with overlapping deadlines.

    I think I could emphasize the project-management aspect and make it more appealing, but I don’t know what kind of title to use, since “project manager” isn’t really on point. And I don’t have any project management certifications (though I’m starting a course as soon as I deliver my final manuscript).

    I’m also leery of making up a job title that is cheesy or non-standard, because most of the companies around here who pay well for the roles I want are pretty buttoned up.

    Any suggestions?

    1. Glomarization, Esq.*

      A colleague of mine had some oddball time between undergrad and law school. The time included some home-based business employment, admin assistant positions, freelance writing and editing, retail — a bunch of stuff to pay the bills while they were figuring out their life. The resume I’ve seen them use includes a job entry that looks something like:

      Freelancer, Office Support and Writing
      CityName, 2003-2008
      – Legal secretary and bookkeeper for real estate law firm; duties included X, Y, Z
      – Volunteer administrative assistant for NonprofitName; tasks included X, Y, Z
      – Proofreader and copy editor; representative work/clients included X, Y, Z

      The “X, Y, Z” areas there might be places where you can put skills, certifications, accomplishments, buzzwords, and so on.

    2. LuckySophia*

      Well … I’ve been a self-employed Marketing Comms writer for a couple decades.
      And my first reaction to your post was “If you’ve been making good money from your talents for eight years, that’s a heavyweight success” — and the term “freelance writer” sounds … too lightweight/inadequate to describe your actual achievements.

      If you’re looking for what you can put on your resume, how about something like:

      (Year 1 – Year 8)
      Marketing/Communications: Strategy & Content Developer

      And then bullet your achievements with focus on the project management and strategic thinking aspects. If you don’t want to say ‘Project Management” you could use “Project Coordinator” or “Program Management” or something that describes the type of project, such as “Product Launch Communications Coordinator” or “Sales Training Content Developer” or “Coordinator: Global Employee Stock Option Program Rollout” — or whatever.

      I would think your skills in critical/analytical thinking and ability to plan/organize/oversee complex (multi-moving-part) projects would be immensely appealing to someone seekeing either executive support or legal secretary help.

      But also, I wouldn’t underplay your writing (and presumably editing/proofreading) skills, which should be important in a legal secretary position, right? As well, your experience with social media and/or newsletters should also be valuable in an executive support role (depending on how big the org is/whether they already have an in-house group that handles the exec’s social media).

      1. LuckySophia*

        Gaah…. part of my comment vanished! It was supposed to say

        Name your freelance business operated under (year 1 – Year 8)
        Marketing/Communications: Strategy & Content Developer

      2. RagingADHD*

        Thank you! That’s super helpful!

        Due to a quirk in my local regulations, I never needed a business entity (and it’s eye-wateringly expensive to create one). So I just operate as myself, but I might be able to come up with something.

        My husband and I have a DBA for his digital media work and my fiction, so I could probably use that.

  76. Lucy P*

    It’s Friday (of course) and rainy outside. I wanted to take the day off but manager was in a mood yesterday and it turns out I was needed here for some crucial stuff this morning. Now that the important work is done just finding it really hard to motivate myself today.

    1. Rainy*

      There are a couple of songs that are my go-to work motivators, and often I’ll listen to one or two of them to pump me up for a slow afternoon.

      (Lunchmoney Lewis’s song Bills is one of them.)

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      I have managed to get through my life my telling myself that some days are just going to be like that. (And what I tell people around me is that “some days you’re the pigeon, and other days you’re the statue”.)

      I say just find some tiny little tasks that need to be done, like miscellaneous housekeeping you haven’t gotten to, and just do those. I find afternoons like this are good for mindless, physical labor like dusting behind and under things, or reorganizing the storage cabinet. It helps pass the time, doesn’t require a lot of brain cells, and has minimal or zero impact if you don’t get it done.

        1. Peanut Hamper*

          THANK YOU! I am laughing so hard I can barely type, but I may print this out and post it at the top of my monitor!

  77. AnonDisturbedbyFOMOBOSS*

    Well, last week in the open thread I had a short convo with a commenter here about my FOMO boss. This week things got rally bad. I tried honestly to keep my head down and just do my work. I ended up having to go with them to two multihour meetings. It did not go well. So this week and last 2 days each week left me working til 8pm twice to do core tasks to make up time.

    They ended up telling me after the first meeting that my attitude was terrible, I should probably take some time off if I cannot handle workload (after hijacking me for hours each week for non project work), that they cannot delegate to any of us on the team and they work til 2am. This after also saying they want to take another colleague’s place in a work trip and want to be part of a project I am on too. This is not their role at all. I am deflated.

    Advice needed:
    1. How do I handle the meeting next week with them and the boss? I am good at my job, just got an excellent review, and get good peer feedback.
    2. I have asked for help prioritising from my boss – can anyone suggest wording on this in person meeting that will be next week? I have 5 core parts of my job but random multi-hour multi-day meetings take up a lot of time when I am in crunch mode. I do not want to continue to work 8.30-8. I cannot, for my mental and physical health.
    3. How do you repair a relationship with someone like this who literally is angry (and shows it) who continues to demand things of the team members that are clearly disrupting work days and our workload and ability to do our jobs well because they need to have full team meetings and feel supported because of FOMO and insecurity?
    4. Any reading or resources to suggest? (I found a great letter here that I went thru: “my new boss needs constant reassurance” from Sept 21, 2022).

    1. No Mo FOMO*

      Stop working to all hours to make up for time spent with your manager. Work your normal 8 hours per day/40 hours per week then Down Tools and go home.

      If ‘core tasks’ get delayed them’s the breaks, your manager though it was more important you attend the meetings.

      1. AnonDisturbedbyFOMOBOSS*

        Thank you. While I agree and try to do this there are a lot of deadlines for reports, workshop planning etc right now that is causing me a lot of work but manageable work when I do not have to go to extra meetings. But your point is valid. I do work a lot in these cases, but am efficient and get tasks done well outside of meetings.

        1. No Mo FOMO*

          And that is exactly why you should stop. FOMO manager doesn’t see any impact to their actions so they have no reason to stop pulling you into b*lls**t meetings when you have actual tasks to perform.

          Or, tell them straight out “I have to complete planning for the Alpaca Grooming Workshop scheduled for next week, I can’t attend the meeting with you”

    2. Meep*

      When I had to deal with a manager who didn’t work, pretended to be a workaholic, and constantly wasted my time with useless chitchat while talking about how much she had to do, I found saying over and over again “OK. I will get right on that. Is there anything else?” If she repeats herself, “I understand. I will start on that right now if there isn’t anything new.” Basically, agree to do the action she wants urgently taken right away. Even if she actually has nothing actionable for you to do.

      If she is like my former boss and is always pausing the meetings to be glued to her phone or take personal calls, which eat up meeting time, I found just picking up and looking up my phone snapped her back, because HOW DARE I ignore her.

      There really isn’t anything you can do about her being miserable and angry except for making it unjustified. By that I mean, make her look good to her boss. If she is complaining despite you doing everything you are supposed to do, then it will only make her look foolish and diminish her credibility.

      As for the meeting thing, can you schedule meetings or focus times on your calendar? Mine never bothered with a calendar in her life, but having something to point to that says you are busy and make her not allowed to spring one on you on you helps a lot. You can even use a scheduling app like Calendarly to integrate with your existing calendar and give her the link. People will click on since it is so easy. The problem with this is she could still book up all your time. My former manager used to keep me from 8:30 AM to 3:30 PM trapped in a conference room with her 4-5 days a week so she could dictate out what she needed done (no I am not a secretary in the slightest) so I get the need to work late. The calendar helped her realize how ridiculous she was being. Not because she was a reasonable person, but because it created a record of it, which she hated. You can also add events and event notes to meetings she drags you into without warning so you have a record of how much wasted time she is spending.

      Lastly, I would honestly encourage her to go to more events and travel for business more. Not with you, but instead of. It gets her out of your hair and gives her a chance to interact with clients and business relations who do have the power to complain.

      1. AnonDisturbedbyFOMOBOSS*

        I do have a calendar that I keep updated with tasks and meetings and such. Really good ideas tho that you have like Calendly, never heard of this, will look it up. Good point on travel too. Hmmm. Will have to think about it.

  78. Squawkberries*

    My department is in the middle of a reorg and there are *politics* (which is probably another few posts for a different date). The reorg affects me a bit more than my colleagues because one of my major responsibilities overlaps with a to-be-built team in another dept (B)

    One piece of feedback conveyed to me by grandboss – through her boss that my skills were not up to par to be part of team B. That conclusion is probably fair (I learned on the job with minimal guidance). But the details of the conversation as relayed to me were sufficiently inconsistent that I wanted another perspective so I asked my boss (who was supposedly part of that convo).

    Now I don’t have the strongest relationship with boss, but I was still surprised that he outright said that he wouldnt have even told me about it. Even after I broached the topic myself, I didnt get much info. How would I even approach him for feedback in the future knowing that he might not share info relevant to me with me ??

    1. linger*

      It matters why Boss “would not have told you”, and it matters what you tell yourself about that. It’s healthier to assume that it didn’t arise from personal animosity or disinterest, but from some reasoning that makes sense for Boss (even if it may disadvantage you). There are at least three possibilities that should not seriously challenge your ongoing working relationship with Boss:
      1. If the meeting discussion was unfocussed, inconclusive or internally inconsistent, Boss might well be justified in not sharing any details with you, as nothing would be actionable for you.
      2. Alternatively, could this be a case where Boss wants you to continue working in their own department rather than transferring elsewhere? That would mean you know (i) Boss values your contributions but (ii) you can’t necessarily trust Boss to advocate for your advancement.
      3. A third option (if it’s consistent with other behaviour you’ve seen) is that Boss may simply be not good at evaluating relevance (and likely, as a result, not good at navigating your organisation’s politics). This would also mean you can’t necessarily trust Boss to be able to advocate for you effectively.

  79. steliafidelis*

    I am actively job-hunting after being in a job for only about 4 months because I’ve had a paycheck bounce and I am not confident it won’t happen again (lots of disorganization, and I suspect cash flow issues). I had my first interview yesterday and when they asked why I was leaving, I just said matter-of-factly, “I’ve had a paycheck bounce.” The interviewer looked very shocked but then nodded and said “that’s a good reason,” so now I’m second guessing if there’s a less ~dramatic~ phrasing I should be using?

    Semi-related, on my resume I have management experience in foodservice and took a non-management position to get out of foodservice (about 18 months ago now) and she asked why I hadn’t stayed in management, which caught me off-guard. It doesn’t seem strange to me that when I changed industries I didn’t go straight into management. (I told her I wanted more predictable hours than what I had in food service, although the real reason is more that food service under Covid was a special kind of hell) Any thoughts on what she was looking for with that question, or what her concerns wer?

    1. No Mo FOMO*

      Having a paycheck bounce is pretty rare so your interviewer may never have met someone who had it happen. I guess I’m lucky, in 24 years at my small employer we’ve only had one late paycheck, and that was only by one day.

    2. TechWorker*

      Is the role you’re applying to a non management role? Might it have potential in the future? The question could have been a feeler to see if the answer was ‘I hate management and never want to go back’ or that you weren’t suited to it in some way, or whether you are itching to return to it as soon as possible. I agree it’s not strange if you change industries not to go straight into management.

    3. Rainy*

      I would assume that the shock was because your paycheck bounced not because of how you phrased it or whatever. :)

      Re the management thing, it’s possible that she was thinking that you like management and the reason to switch industries was to do more management, rather than thinking that you don’t like foodservice and the reason for switching industries was to leave foodservice. Now that you know it might be asked I’d be ready with an answer, but it honestly seems like kind of a weird question to me.

      1. steliafidelis*

        Thank you, I feel like there’s probably no non-shocking way to say it but in my post-interview nerves I was second-guessing myself!

      2. Peanut Hamper*

        I agree on both points.

        With regard to the paycheck question, I suppose you could say something like “Since taking this job I’ve discovered that my new employer has a lot of cash flow issues and may not be solvent in the mid- to long-term.” Sounds very professional. But as someone who has interviewed people, I would find the candor and bluntness of “my paycheck bounced” to be refreshingly straightforward. I can’t say all hiring managers would feel the same way, though.

        With regard to the management question, you could always respond with something like “I like management, but I wanted to pivot away from food service. I’d love to be in management in [new industry] but am looking to gain some experience in it first.”

    4. Prospect Gone Bad*

      That’s why you’re leaving your current role, but you need to tell why you want the role you’re applying for.

      you’re leaving one problem and most likely will be finding new ones at any job, so the interviewer needs to make sure you have some other goals or motivation that will help you still around and excel beyond escaping a problem at the other place

    5. Donner*

      I don’t find that strange, either, but some management skills transfer from industry to industry. So I wouldn’t find it stranger if you had gone from management in food service to management in a different field, either.

      As to what she is getting at, some people only understand a certain kind of career progression and don’t get why someone would leave that progression once they have achieved a milestone. So they are looking for a really good reason why you would step back, as they see it.

      Or maybe there was no right answer but she wanted to hear your thinking.

    6. EMP*

      My guess re: management is if you’re applying to a non-management role, she was feeling out if you’re going to be unhappy in that “individual contributor” role, looking to move up/move on quickly, or conversely, if they are hiring into a position with a lot of growth potential, feeling out if you’d be excited about that opportunity or never want to manage someone again. Basically – I think it’s not a big deal and she was just genuinely curious.

  80. Anonforthis*

    I left a very toxic organization a couple of months ago. I stayed far longer than I should have, but I was very worried about my team being exposed. I managed to leave on good terms and left the organization with a road map, and was surprised when I was hearing rumor about upper management wanting to overhaul the department (which was award winning and beloved while I was there). Well, I just found out a couple of my former staff, who I protected from the chaos for years, immediately started throwing me under the bus after I left and it made upper management question everything that was ever done under my management. One of them is clearly trying to take my old role, and is likely angry that I didn’t recommend her for it upon my departure (she is talented but underqualified and emotionally immature). She has her issues with ego and ambition, but I never questioned she’d throw integrity to the side for a promotion. The other person was an underperformer and is angry I left because now he is exposed. The entire program and team is in danger now because of the actions of 2 people and I am so sad. I loved my team and had a wonderful relationship with them, but I guess it wasn’t as strong as I thought with those 2. How do you shake the sadness and disappointment? The program is likely going to fall apart, and half of the department will absolutely quit in protest if they promote the one individual. It’s like the last so many years were all a waste and I just can’t wrap my head around it. I have people calling me from other departments begging me to come back and other former staff begging me to hire them in my new organization. I can’t do anything to help them. How do you shake this? How do you move on?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      The first thing to do is drastically reduce the amount of information you hear about what’s going on at your old workplace. You have people calling you from other departments at the old place to beg you to come back–stop answering their calls. If there could be a non-begging reason for them to call you, set aside a chunk of time once a week to listen to their voicemails and then respond to any of the calls that need your attention. For the former staff who want you to hire them at the new organization: if they are good workers and would be assets to the org, I think it makes sense to take those calls, but tell them you don’t want to hear their complaints of the old org. You’re only going to talk about jobs at the new org that could be a good fit, where to submit their resume, etc.

      It’s tough to let go of something you worked at for so long, and put so much effort into. But out of sight, out of mind is the only way to go, because you can’t fix the problems at the old place.

      (Questions just for you, you don’t have to answer them here) How are things at your new job? Do you like your new colleagues? Are you starting to work on any good projects now that you’ve been there a few months? How are things in your personal life? Do you have anything you’re looking forward to this weekend? I ask these questions because (hopefully) there are a lot of positive things in your life that are separate from what is happening at the old, toxic organization. Remember those things when you’re feeling low.

      1. Anonforthis*

        I know you’re right. Everything in my new role is wonderful and my personal life is great. There is much to be thankful for… and then info comes from my old life and it destroys the whole week. I need to cut it off. It is too much!

        I was hired in my current organization to build a similar program that I built at old organization. I am highly specialized even within my own niche field and my program at old org. is regionally famous. I was originally worried about optics of the program falling apart after my departure, but I guess that just makes old org look bad. New org. is a very healthy environment and everyone is awesome, and they just kind of want me to run with it. There is a lot of autonomy and trust, and endless support when I need it. I didn’t even know places like this existed! I will probably hire one person from my prior team if she interested. She is kind and talented, and a good culture fit for new organization.

        One interesting thing is that, because our field is so small and I have a public reputation, I will likely always be called as a reference for these 2 individuals for anything within the state whether they list me as a reference or not. I wonder if they thought about that before they decided to lose their minds. I honestly don’t think they can see past their nose right now though – that place really consumes you…

    2. WellRed*

      Honestly you need to stop taking their calls and focus on your new job. Not your circus any more. I know that’s easy for me to say, but it’s true. And if those two employees ever ask you to be a reference say no.

      1. Anonforthis*

        So true. I can’t keep investing in them.

        Funny note about references. Our field is very small and burning the bridge with me wasn’t a great choice on their end, but it is what it is.

    3. Peanut Hamper*

      Please realize that part of the toxicity is how over-invested you are emotionally in that place.

      No matter how much you love the people, or the clientele, or…whatever, in the end, it’s just a job. It’s a thing you did so you could buy toilet paper.

      It’s hard, but you’re in a better place now, and that’s where you should try to focus.

      1. Anonforthis*

        True. Part of what sort of woke me up to my reality is that leadership was becoming less invested in the work (providing resources to those in need) and more invested in themselves. I realized they were taking advantage of my emotional investment in who we served to keep me overly invested in the company. It was an all-consuming place and it was strange how immediately relieved I felt – like I could finally breathe again – when I left. That is ultimately what saddens me about the one person in particular – she just threw away a long and valuable professional relationship for a potential promotion at an organization that will expect her to treat the job like it’s all that matters in the world. They won’t settle for less. And she won’t even have time to go buy the toilet paper!

    4. Prospect Gone Bad*

      Two POVs:

      1) I really wish people who are so pro-employee that they become anti-manager read this. The internet outside AAM has been littered with anti-manager sentiment the past few years. Any flaw or question is simply met with “then you are not cut out for management” which always ticks me off because it’s the only job we do this for. We don’t say “you’re not cut out for an individual contributor role” when someone makes a mistake. We tell them how to fix it.

      This write-up shows so many of the pitfalls of being the manager. In particular what struck me was the emotional labor of trying to protect staff from problems, and then realizing it really doesn’t pay off. But yet we still do it because it’s the best for our people. I’ve dealt with this in a slightly different way. I’ve shielded staff from so much hard stuff, and then found myself getting annoyed when they come to me with such petty complaints. Not realizing that I might’ve just saved their career behind their backs in another way.

      2) Few things are permanent. Your time running that department wasn’t a waste of time! Just think about outside of work. I look at my hometown. Yes it’s the same basic place. But well over 1/2 of the people are different than when I was growing up. Some houses have been built, many have been completely renovated. The middle aged people from then are now old, the old people from then are dead. It’s just life. The basic structure of things stays but all of the specifics are not.

      I had this frustration hard until the past few years. Now I realize it’s normal that by the time you become an expert in an area and completely automate around it, that it then becomes obsolete. Customers come and go for reasons beyond your control, products become obsolete, laws change the industry, companies get acquired to save the acquiring company from going under. All of this is just part of the flow of life. It doesn’t mean the work we did back then had no point. That’s basically thinking that nothing has any purpose since we’ll all eventually die:-/

      1. Anonforthis*

        I came out of the role realizing we have a shortage of good managers because the emotional labor is hard to handle and it is a thankless job. I actually took a role where I would have no direct reports for the first year or so just to take a break. I know I will manage again – I value mentorship and building capacity in people above all else – but I’m definitely a bit traumatized by this.

        And yes, things do change. I even expected a good bit of change to occur just based on where the organization is headed, but the outright destruction… it is sad to watch. But to your point, they will rebuild, or they won’t, or they will crash and burn as a company in 50 years… who knows. But I know I did the job well and I did it with integrity (deeply lacking over there), and it was a good experience that led me to where I am now. I just have to hold on to that.

        1. linger*

          The only reason to look back now is if it allows some course correction going forward. I suppose one question to ask, for when you resume managing direct reports, is whether there is anything to learn from the result at OldToxicJob that should change anything about how you support reports.
          1. Is it possible (or preferable) to be more transparent with reports about what you are doing to protect them?
          2. Would those two reports have acted more reasonably if your feedback on their performance had been (i) more accurate or (ii) more actionable or (iii) delivered differently?
          (The answers in both cases may well be “No”, in which case there is no need for regret: you did all you could.)

  81. MiddleManager*

    I’m struggling a lot with focus at work… I’m a mid level manager (team of about 15, not all direct reports). I’m still ‘doing my job’ – I’m ontop of emails, make sure my team isn’t blocked, do the important stuff, support my team and consider their career development. I’m also well aware I’m working below full capacity… I procrastinate (I’m recently engaged and wedding planning is a lot more interesting..), when I do need to actually focus on something for a period of time it’s like I’m out of practice from most of my job being reactive firefighting.

    I’m finding it hard to tell if this is ‘ok’ and just a low motivation patch I’ll come through (I would still jump into action if there’s a fire) or I’m becoming one of the middle managers everyone hates because they don’t actually do any work :s

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Pomodoro technique!

      Set a timer for 20 or 25 minutes (you’ll find what works best for you). Keep a notepad and pen next to you. Focus on the task at hand and if something comes up that could distract your focus, just write it down in 2-3 words on your pad and keep working.

      When the timer is up, take a break for a few minutes, and then repeat.

      I can’t guarantee this will work for you, but it’s done wonders for me.

        1. Peanut Hamper*

          Yep! Any timer will do, but I found a specific app for it really helped my brain focus. It’s amazing the difference it makes!

    2. Jobbyjob*

      I feel like the other replies were less helpful for what you are getting at. Maybe more useful for IC work. Maybe you feel distracted because things are running smoothly and not too much is needed from you this moment? That could be a sign of a well run group. As another middle manager, this job has its ebbs and flows too. It’s ok to lean out a bit at times and then really lean in hard when it’s needed/the next opportunity arises.

  82. Jazzypants*

    Anyone know of good career advice type resources for design/creatives, especially that’s sensitive to DEI issues? Found a couple blogs, but they were very bootstrappy and kinda ableist. Preference for it to be focused on career/w2 job stuff moreso than freelancing/”finding clients”, as I need really good health insurance to be able to afford to manage my disability. I’m having trouble applying common advice to what I do as a creative, but most resources I’ve found for creatives are for absolute beginners or freelancers. Thanks! :)

    1. Anonynonynonymous*

      I’m a designer who has sat on a couple interview panels for design jobs lately and really your portfolio is the most critical thing to get you hired. Edit, edit, edit. You may think that vector art from illustration 101 shows your skills but if it’s not professional level it may actually hurt you. If you want to work in a particular field (publishing, branding, corporate, etc.) and you don’t have much of that in your portfolio, try to either get freelance in that area or even do spec work. My other advice is get digital experience like UI/UX, web design, and motion graphics. I’m an elder millennial who missed that boat and got stuck in print, and it’s for sure limited my options.

      1. Jazzypants*

        I think you misunderstood what I’ve asked for. I’ve heard this generic advice my whole career, it’s vague and unhelpful. I’m looking for a resource that goes more in-depth, and is conscious of DEI. So do you know of a resource that goes more in-depth on portfolio presentation for in-house designers? Platform (PDF? Website? What website platform?), how to write for such a thing. Actually actionable things.

        My job has introduced a new rule that says we aren’t allowed to show our work in our portfolios. However, I don’t have the time nor the energy (again, working full time while disabled) to hunt down a bunch of freelance/spec work just to have something to show. Wondering about the limits and expectations here. Like, am I seriously expected to basically work two jobs my whole life just to have something to show to the next one? I can barely handle 1 between all my doctor’s appointments.

        1. WellRed*

          Ok this particular problem about the work rule sucks and your original question I read quite differently. I’d maybe post question that here as a question as I think it’s come up before and people might have specific, actionable advice. I can only offer sympathy.

    2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      It is hard to find something in between targeting new grads and freelance. I haven’t read this one but it’s come across my radar and it might suit your needs: Design Is A Job, by Mike Monteiro.

  83. Allornone*

    Low stakes question- Should I tell my coworker I can hear her singing?

    The walls of our offices in my building are paper-thin. Occasionally, my newish office neighbor mine sings along with whatever music is coming out of her headphones. Part of me thinks I should tell her I can hear her because if someone could overhear me, I think I’d want to know. But then, I think I shouldn’t. It doesn’t bother me at all. In fact, I think it’s kind of cute. Plus, she doesn’t do it often (she actually mostly listens to true crime podcasts and only listens to music occasionally). And she’s been here a few months where I’m sure she’s overheard a few of my Zoom meetings, so the thin walls can’t exactly be a surprise. Plus, I genuinely like working with her. Her role is new to the organization and in the few months she’s been here, she’s knocked it out of the park. And I like her on a professionally personal level too. I don’t want to embarrass her or make things weird for no reason. She might think it bothers me when it really, really doesn’t.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I mean, you could just say pretty much exactly that — “Just FYI, sometimes when you start grooving to the dulcet tones of Billy Joel, I can hear your rendition of Piano Man. It doesn’t bother me at all, but I wasn’t sure if you were aware you were giving Tiny Desk Concerts of your own, and I figured I’d let you know rather than just start applauding one of these days :) “

    2. Unkempt Flatware*

      As an aloud-singer, dollars to donuts she knows and she doesn’t care or want any attention about it. She loves to sing and doesn’t care who hears it. Perhaps a simple, “I think we have the same taste in music” would work if you’d like to engage with her on it. I sing out as often as possible and I often did the same back when I was a bank teller and singing along to the soft background music. Didn’t care if customers were there but I didn’t do it to get any comments on it. Not that I’d be mad if there were comments.

    3. RagingADHD*

      If you don’t want her to stop, don’t say anything. You’re likely to make her self-conscious, and that would be a shame.

      She may even wonder whether you were being honest about it not bothering you. Ymmv, but the culture where I live tends to be pretty passive aggressive and backhanded, and if someone said, “It doesn’t bother me, I just wanted you to know,” it would mean it definitely did bother them and they wanted you to stop.

    4. Irish Teacher*

      I wouldn’t say anything. Personally, I don’t care if people hear me singing, but I would find it kind of awkward if somebody mentioned it. I’d be wondering are they trying to hint that they want me to stop or do they think I’m such a bad singer that they assume I wouldn’t do it if I thought anybody could hear or are they laughing at this being a little quirk.

      I guess I’d kinda wonder “why are they telling me this?” It’s quite likely she’s aware there’s a possibility of people hearing.

  84. Well That's Fantastic*

    Is there a rule of thumb for estimating how big a salary range is likely to be if they only post their minimum? Saw a job listing that says pay will be “at least $60000/year, but the specific offer will be based on experience and education.” That’s a reasonable salary for someone who barely has the minimum requirements. I have a lot more experience but can’t get a good read if I’m wasting everyone’s time applying by being overqualified. (I’d need at least $75k to consider leaving my current job.)

  85. curly sue*

    A question regarding bank fees and who has to pay them. I receive royalties from an American publisher for a book I wrote, but I live in Canada. Up until now, I’ve received paper cheques twice a year. The publisher is now shifting to an EFT system, but can’t send funds to a Canadian bank that way – I’ve been through this one with them already.

    Now they want to wire transfer the funds, but my bank charges a $15 service charge to receive incoming wires. I’ve requested that the publisher cover this, as they’re the ones who want to make the change. I’m fine with my paper cheques! I’m still waiting to hear back from them on this one. I don’t make a lot of money from this, and it’s naturally dwindling as time goes on – eventually there’ll be a cheque that’s less than the wire fees charged to receive it, which seems ridiculous.

    If they say I have to cover the fees, do I have any recourse? Does this fall under a legal deduction from a paycheque in the US, or can I force them to cover it?

    1. Glomarization, Esq.*

      You probably can’t force them to cover it. You can look at your contract, but it’s likely that there is no language in there that requires them to pay administrative-type fees related to payments to you. Mostly likely, their obligation is simply to pay you what you’re owed. As far as they’re concerned, once they’ve sent the wire, they’ve met their obligation to pay you. The issue with your bank charging you for the wire after it’s received isn’t their problem.

      Have you called or googled around to other banks that might not charge you the $15? Maybe a credit union or a bank that isn’t one of the Big 5? Good luck, though, because that $15 fee seems pretty standard for wire transfers.

    2. RagingADHD*

      This isn’t a paycheck, it’s royalties. You are not an employee of the publisher, and laws about payroll deductions would not apply.

    3. Jinni*

      I know a ton of authors in this position. If the publisher is HarperCollins, they can pay in Canadian $. Other authors I know have some kind of account through Western Union, Payoneer, Wise or some such where they receive payments in US $ and then transfer when they want with very low fees, or they use it to pay US folks for services.

      I don’t know of an author that got the publisher to pay the fees – but I’m in the US and don’t really think much about it except to overhear authors talking about it. If you reply to this, I’m happy to reach out and ask. I was just talking to a friend in Toronto yesterday. She has written dozens of books for all the big five, so likely has a solution.

    4. LJ*

      Honestly I don’t think you’re going to win this battle. The practical approach is to a us bank account and convert the amounts yourself when they add up to a point to be worth it

  86. evee*

    I’ve been trying to break into the IT/data analytics space for about three months. I’m finishing up my second bachelor’s degree in healthcare management within the next few weeks. I have taken several Uemy and Coursera courses on these topics and my capstone for school has a heavy IT focus. I haven’t been able to get any interviews and I’m not sure what else to do. I’m a little more than halfway through my IBM certificate program.

    1. EMP*

      3 months doesn’t seem like that long to break into a new field you don’t have experience in, so don’t give up. How are you presenting your knowledge/work on your resume and cover letters? Can you make IT/data more of a focus?

      1. feline outerwear catalog*

        IT is rough with all the layoffs right now. I wonder if an adjacent area, like analytics for healthcare would be easier, or if you could do some side projects for a freelance gig or upwork to have more concrete experience. Good luck!

    2. Donner*

      Degrees and certificates don’t carry as much weight as projects. Try creating a GitHub account and do some data analytics projects on your own. There are tons of free data sets to play around with–try Kaggle.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      In my experience with our IT team (I’m in healthcare management, but administrative, not IT), they put way more value on experience than education.

    4. Anony B. Mous*

      Late but chiming in as an IT manager that is actively hiring:

      1) experience over education every day all day and twice on Sundays

      2) the industry is rife with layoffs right now

      3) most positions will be hybrid, not fully remote – especially for someone trying to break in.

      So with all that said, I’d start with analytics and work your way in from there. Healthcare analytics and items around that would be a really good niche.

  87. Peanut Hamper*

    Gosh, I wish we really had an update to the “my boss offered me money to film a sex tape with two coworkers” letter. Is it too soon to request that for the December update season?

  88. Excel junkie*

    What are some good scripts for responding when I’m called out for good work in a meeting? I never know what to say and tend to default to awkwardly freezing.

    1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

      One of mine is “I’m really happy we were able to get [outcome],” said cheerfully. For example, if I’ve just been praised for introducing a more efficient teapot-making process, I might say “I’m really happy we can make twice as many teapots now.” It shows engagement with what the other person said, keeps the mood positive, and makes you look like an enthusiastic team player, while more subtly acknowledging the contributions that you as an individual bring to the table (without being obnoxious about it).

    2. Angstrom*

      If it is true, “Thank you! I had great support from my team/team member(s) X & Y”. You don’t want to take credit for other people’s work, and you don’t want to minimize your own efforts. In a healthy work culture giving credit becomes the norm because people know it will be reciprocated.
      Also agree with emphasizing the outcome: The presentation went well, the customer was pleased, etc.

  89. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

    Making out a resume for the first time in years, and the first time since I started reading AAM, and trying to shift from the “responsibilities” to the “accomplishments” model. Does “my boss said I get more done in 20 hours than most people in 40” belong on a resume, or is that more of a cover letter or interview talking point? What if I got the same feedback in nearly the same words from two bosses at both companies I’ve worked at full-time? (6 years each)

    1. Donner*

      Can you quantify that?

      -Issued 12 TPS reports/week (average for team is 6)

      I don’t doubt that your bosses said that, but from the viewpoint of a stranger reading it, it’s the kind of thing that you don’t know if you can take literally or if it just means you’re charismatic and your boss likes you better than they like the other people and therefore perceive you as more productive.

      1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

        Unfortunately for quantification, it’s a very open-ended kind of job where the work is different from person to person and from week to week, and requires creativity because it’s always a new kind of problem to solve. Evaluation is more about the complexity of the problems you solve, how well and how quickly. It’s sort of like comparing people’s research in academia: you can’t really go by number of publications or experiments; you have to evaluate the quality and importance of the research.

        I might leave it off, then, I have enough quantifiable achievements from specific projects.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        My last production-based job has two bullet points under it (I left the job seven years ago and have had two management jobs since then, so I took out a lot), and one of them is “regularly maintained 200% expected production levels while exceeding expectations of 98% quality rating.”

  90. the only Muslim here*

    A bit late but hopefully can get a few replies –

    I’m a bit annoyed about this and not sure if Im blowing out of proportion. A lot of my thoughts are contradictory so please bare with me.

    My office is celebrating Easter & Passover. Our marketing person Organized an activity and posted on social media and wrote Happy Easter and Chag Sameach to all. For background she is very vested in DEI and creating an inclusive culture and I respect her a lot and I think in different contexts we could have been friends.

    With that said – These things absolutely do not offend me and I enjoy participating. But….I am Muslim and it’s Ramadan and no one mentions it. While I can’t fast and I do not (openly) pray, or dress a certain way, I still very much identify as Muslim. I’m also literally the only Muslim/non-white person in my office. I have been the only other almost all my life so I’m used to it. But I also am not comfortable “educating” anyone on anything.

    What’s complicating it (for me) is that I’m constantly feeling excluded in a lot of different ways, professionally and socially, from this person and others. I have lots of examples I can share later if need to. I’m sure none of it is intentional and I’m trying to stay focused and not take it personally.

    On another note this person is very much well versed in DEI and I shouldn’t have to remind them that it’s also Ramadan.

    I think I can separate out the two things (religion vs the other stuff) but I guess if I do bring it up to her I don’t want background resentment coming through. So… suggestions for scripts?

    Or tell me if I’m making too big a deal about this.

    1. Donner*

      “But I also am not comfortable ‘educating’ anyone on anything.”
      “I shouldn’t have to remind them that it’s also Ramadan.”

      So, here is the situation you are in:
      -There is no office recognition of Ramadan
      -You are unwilling to bring it up

      Sometimes framing things as a choice makes them more palatable. That is, framing this as “I could get the result I want by speaking up, but I am choosing not to speak up with the understanding that I will not get what I want” might make the situation more bearable by boosting your sense of agency.

      Just a question–you describe this person as a marketing person who is well versed in DEI. Is she actually a DEI officer? Bc if she is doing these things out of personal interest, it’s a little harder to hold her accountable for not have a complete set of DEI activities.

    2. EMP*

      I wouldn’t make a big deal out of it, only because that will likely harm your reputation more than it will make an impression on the DEI organizer. I think you can send an email with something like “Hi Linda, I’d like to make sure that when we acknowledge holidays we are including those on the Muslim calendar. It is currently Ramadan and I was disappointed not to see that included in the recent social media post recognizing Easter and Passover. Best, Office Muslim”

    3. feline outerwear catalog*

      Oof, I’m sorry to hear that, it sucks. Does your company DEI office have any kind of anonymous suggestion form or something? If so, you could suggest acknowledging Muslim holidays.

      1. Polly Hedron*

        There would be no advantage in making an anonymous suggestion because it would be obvious that that suggestion was coming from “the only Muslim here”.
        So I advise sending a low-key email, as others here suggest.

    4. WantonSeedStitch*

      As a Pagan who’s been slacking on trying to get my usually-very-good-with-BDEI HR person to include my holidays in her monthly emails about various holidays being celebrated by various cultures/traditions during that month, I sympathize.

      IMNSHO, an office should not be celebrating religious holidays. Any of them. We have a party at work in December that’s billed as a “Winter Celebration,” and the words “Christmas” and “Chanukah” are as absent as “Yule.” Decorations are usually snow-related. So I could see holding a “Springtime Celebration” at an office, with floral decorations. I might say something like,

      “I appreciate your organizing events like this one to provide a chance for us to be social and have fun together! But I have to admit to feeling a little left out when I see that it’s focused on Easter and Passover. Neither of those is a holiday I celebrate, and I’m willing to bet there are at least a few other people who don’t celebrate it either. (For what it’s worth, I will be celebrating Eid at the end of Ramadan, and while I don’t expect a workplace to do anything special for that, it does feel a little exclusive when the religious holidays of some religions are celebrated here while others are not.) I would love to see the fun events continue, but maybe without being connected with religious holidays. Seasonal celebrations can be inclusive to all people [you can give examples like the ones I suggest above], and I know you work hard to be inclusive!”

    5. Meep*

      Is it possible she didn’t think to mention it since she doesn’t know anyone is Muslim? Sometimes people get weird about giving greetings/well wishes without knowing it is received.

      In which case, I would just assume it was overlooked and if she asks how your “Easter weekend” was you can say something like “I enjoyed having my family over for Eid.”

    6. JustaTech*

      I would just take a very matter-of-fact approach “hey, just wanted to let you know that it’s also Ramadan now, did you want to add that to the celebration?” Or even just the first part of that, if you don’t want to feel like you’re telling this person what to do.
      It shouldn’t have anything to do with you personally celebrating this holiday, it’s just a piece of information. (You could even frame it with a nod to the fact that Ramadan isn’t always in the same solar-calendar month every year.)

      As for people who work in DEI and the things they should know, well, I once had an HR person (not DEI but tangential) who looked at me like I had three heads when I suggested that not everyone would want/be able to accept a ham as a Christmas bonus. “Who can’t eat ham?” “Uh, Jews, Muslims, vegetarians?”

      1. Tara*

        This is a great suggestion for a script — direct, simple, and matter-of-fact. And ugh, I can’t believe the ignorance of the HR person who wants to gift everyone a ham for Christmas.

    7. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

      Definitely not making too big a deal out of it. she dropped the ball on this one…I’d lean towards a short sentence give in person or email: “since we are acknowledging easter and passover, we shouldn’t forget it’s also Ramadan”
      when I am feeling resentment I finally just need to keep things really short. and you’re right you shouldn’t need to educate anyone or even make this point in the first place.

    8. Enough*

      This is why if it is not business related it should not be part of business. DID should not be we celebrate all religious beliefs. It should be we will reasonably accommodate religious requirements like places to pray and food restrictions.

    9. Tara*

      You are not making a big deal of it at all and I completely understand your feelings of discomfort and alienation. I am not Muslim but I have Muslim family and friends. I can imagine that part of your reluctance to bring it up is because you don’t want to rock the boat or be “that guy,” and that you *especially* don’t want to be “that Muslim guy who complained that we celebrated Passover and Easter but not Ramadan.”

      To give the HR person the benefit of the doubt, it’s possible that she doesn’t know what to do for Ramadan, because observant Muslims do it by fasting and less observant or non-observant ones may simply not do anything or just celebrate Eid. I have family and friends who fall into all these categories.

      As a minority myself, I certainly empathize with not wanting to be “that (whiny) guy/girl/person.” So here’s what I hope is a savvier way you could handle this. Don’t say anything directly to the HR person. But around and during Ramadan, you could casually bring it up in casual conversation with the coworkers you are friendly and comfortable with.

      For example-
      You: Hey, how was your weekend? How did your kids enjoy Easter?
      Coworker: Fun, blah blah, what did you get up to?
      You: The usual, blah blah. It’s Ramadan, I don’t fast, but some of my family are and so we did blah blah.

      Coworker: What are you doing this weekend?
      You: Ah it’s Eid, so I’m doing blah blah / I don’t do anything big for Eid but it was fun exchanging greetings and messages with my community.

      Basically, you absolutely don’t need to educate anyone on anything (and nor should you have to), but it’s okay to normalize these totally normal parts of life. I kind of get the feeling that you’re feeling a bit powerless in this situation, like you shouldn’t speak up but you hate being erased. Opening up a little more to the folks you are already comfortable with will hopefully help you feel less othered. And while the overall situation of the uneven celebration of holidays won’t be fixed right away, making people aware that there are other holidays right now besides their own will itself be a small victory.

  91. feline outerwear catalog*

    I finally recieved and signed a job offer, hooray!!! Thanks all for your ongoing support, and sending good thoughts to the other laid off and still looking folks!

  92. Sabotaged by Manager*

    I work at a nonprofit and I have a contract that ends in mid June. In the beginning of the year, everything was going fine. Then I got a new direct boss. My new direct boss absolutely hates me and is doing everything to sabotage my life. This isn’t an exaggeration- upper management had to separate her from me and she’s not allowed to message me or go anywhere near me without another manager chaperoning the situation. But she’s convinced all of my management team that I am a horrible employee. I’m micromanaged so much more than anybody else who works here. I’m forced to make a 3 hour commute to work, work 11 hour days, they’ve doubled my client workload even though they insist I’m a poor performer, I’m forced to take screenshots of everything I do and CC my manager on everything. I also have proof that my direct boss is contacting others and telling them not to work with me, I have been wanting a promotion with this company since I started and they refused to hire me because of everything going on. This is taking a serious toll on my mental health. I can’t stand going to work anymore. Advice please?!?!

    1. BellyButton*

      Can you end your contract? Can you go to whoever and say “it is clear that my time here should end now and not in June. ” and see what they say? I would even attempt to negotiate pay out for half of your remaining contract in return for you resigning.

      If those aren’t options I would do 1 of 2 things. I would go above and beyond and over board to accommodate their micromanaging. Every time you go to the restroom send an IM or email “I am running to the restroom” then when you get back “I am back.” “I am making a cup of coffee with milk and sugar, do you want one?”

      OR I would do the opposite and quit doing anything they ask me that I feel is micromanaging and when they ask just shrug “Oh sorry, I forgot. It is already finished.”

      Good luck, the entire thing sounds just awful.

    2. irene adler*

      Dang! This sounds horrible!

      Document everything.
      What is the evidence of your being a ‘poor performer’? Is this evidence in your HR file? Might make sure.Or is this your manager’s way to ‘motivate’ you (not that there’s any excuse for such treatment)?

      Are you being singled out for this abuse or is everyone enduring it?
      Where is HR in all this?
      Can you move to another position in this company- away from this manager?

      Is there an EAP program you can access to address the mental toll this is taking? Or are you seeking outside treatment?

      No job is worth the toll on your mental health. From what you write, all the cards seem to be stacked against you. Might be time to get out. I know, you really want to stay. But unless someone can step in and put an end to all this, it won’t get better.

    3. Just here for the scripts*

      I’m so sorry to hear!
      All I can say is to start job hunting—sorry, but this falls under Allison’s “You have a crappy boss and they’re not likely to change” scenario.

      And in the meantime start using your pto and sick time, contact your EAP and/or primary care for a therapist referral. Take care of yourself!

    4. WellRed*

      Can you get an employment lawyer to negotiate you out of the contract, preferably with severance, particularly in light of the whole physical separation thing(assuming she is the aggressor not you). They might prefer to pay you off to be done with the problem (until she finds a new victim).

    5. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Find a new job. Find a new job. Find a new job. And consult an employment lawyer about the whole mess if you can.

      Also, stop working 11 hours days, immediately. You work however many hours you are supposed to and then you go home. What are they going to do, fire you? You’ll get unemployment.

      If you can, take time off work. If you can afford to quit, seriously consider doing so. This is beyond insane.

  93. SoTS*

    so, how do I add to my resume volume stats when most of the document is focused on process knowledge and improvements?

    1. Educator*

      Think about the impact of your actions, rather than the actions you took.

      What were the results of the improvements you made? For example, if you created an online payment system, how many hours of work per week did that save the finance team? If you made customer service more efficient, what was the resulting increase in response volume?

  94. Cruciatus*

    Well, I had my first interview in 6 years. On the plus side, it only took 2 applications to get an interview (which was over Zoom). But I wish I could have stopped myself from underselling myself. Sigh.
    Can anyone who uses SharePoint explain if it’s difficult to learn? Nearly all the jobs (that I’m qualified for) at this potential employer prefer SharePoint knowledge. I use a lot of programs and have never had an issue learning anything new (which I did explain in the interview). But I hate saying I know nothing about SharePoint (and won’t lie about it).

    1. Educator*

      It’s basically a big online file cabinet where everyone can share and edit documents with controlled permissions. Like Google Drive, but from Microsoft.

      Anyone who would rule you out for not having used Sharepoint is not very good at hiring. I’ve explained all the basics to new folks in under twenty minutes.

    2. Loredena*

      SharePoint is my specialty as a consultant, though I’m more broadly O365 now! As a baseline CMS it’s easy to use the basics and complicated to know the intricacies. Which is frankly true of most Microsoft systems. They have some decent intro training material that’s worth reviewing just so you can speak to the basics. I’ve done a lot of training and I think most people pick up the basics quickly

  95. Beatrice*

    Struggling hard this week at a volunteer gig. I’m a lead volunteer, one of four. We work with a couple of (paid) coordinators and a manager. Each lead volunteer oversees a gaggle of entry-level volunteers in shifts for a kids program. We handle issues, make sure everything’s covered, and report problems to the coordinators and manager. Depending on what’s going on that day, there could be one lead volunteer on duty, or multiple, and during big events, the coordinators and/or manager may be there.

    I was leading alone this morning with a handful of volunteers, and Denise, one of our new volunteers, was complaining about the kids being frustrating. Honestly, I don’t think Denise is cut out to work with kids, because the behaviors she finds complaint-worthy are pretty mild. I had a conversation with her that was appropriate for my level (“this really isn’t that bad, please don’t complain about the kids in front of the kids, do you need a break?”). After the event, I texted the program group chat (the other 3 leaders, the coordinators, and the manager), to report it. Denise’s negativity has come up a time or two before already.

    But Pete — another volunteer lead at my level, chimed in and said he’d have a conversation with Denise about it. That is NOT necessary…I’d already talked to her. Down the road, I foresee someone above us needing to have a conversation with her about whether our organization is really the right place for her volunteer efforts, but that’s not an appropriate conversation for Pete to have. I asked him to stop and leave the conversation where I left it, but he’d already texted her….that’s another issue with Pete. He’s always in such a hurry to act that, by the time I tell him not to act, he replies “lol already did it.”

    Pete is a try-hard. He’s made it clear that he wants a paid position in the organization eventually. He does great work but he always over-does everything. He second-guesses me, especially when the org staff are around to see it, which is annoying. He re-does work that does not need to be redone, if I use the team group chat to ask questions he’s always first to chime in with an answer and it’s not always right. We had an initiative a few weeks back that involved sending info to parents who requested it and marking them off a list, and he was so focused on sending as much as he possibly could as fast as he could, that he didn’t keep up with marking requests off, and a lot of parents got duplicate information (but gosh darn it he sent more than anyone else.)

    We had a team conversation about future interest/availability for paid roles, and I spoke up and said I was happy with what I was doing and wanted to stick with volunteering at this level of responsibility, and he chimed in saying that he and another volunteer lead had already let Manager know they were interested in paid roles so she had plenty of people to choose from if a coordinator role opened up and it didn’t matter that I wasn’t interested. The tone was…condescending. Both he and the other volunteer lead who wants a paid role tend to stir up/escalate drama instead of smoothing it over or letting the paid staff handle it. I have experience in roles similar to the Manager’s in other nonprofits and would be a good fit, but I have no desire to do that again…if I’m going to take on that kind of grief, I’ll do it for a public sector salary.

    I think there’s probably nothing for me to do in response to all this, but I needed to vent. I think I’m going to format any solo issue reports to the text group differently, and use more of a “here’s what happened, here’s what I’ve done as a lead, here’s what I think should happen next” structure, especially when I’m reporting “FYI only” type stuff. And if it continues, I may scale back my volunteering or find somewhere else to pitch in. If he ever gets a paid supervisory role, I’m out of there.

    1. Rainy*

      That sounds really frustrating and I’m sorry it’s happening. It sounds like your summary of the situation is correct–nothing you can actually do that will have a positive effect on the situation. And yeah, likely time to start considering stepping back if it’s just going to be a constant annoyance.

  96. KayKay*

    I’m giving 2 weeks notice to leave my job, and I’ll be moving out of state cross country with my partner and our kids right after. (Like literally hopping on a plane after work on my last day.) The problem is my last day will be right before a big project I’m heading up which is due to be presented (by me) to our division president … I’m the project lead and it will not be in good shape to present at that time, whether by me or someone else since I only have a disjointed collection of half-done analyses, nothing nice and tidy to handover to my boss to present herself. This is my fault since I got overwhelmed and just couldn’t pull it together. (Basically I don’t know how to do what was asked of me and didn’t start soon enough or ask for the right help.) I’m so nervous about giving notice, has anyone been in this situation before and how did you explain yourself in a way that didn’t make you look like a total screw-up? Did you make something up? I feel like I had to make something up because I chose to book my flight that day — I could’ve waited to move the next day AFTER the presentation to our division president but our ticket prices increased $500 and I was like no way. Help!

    1. WellRed*

      Are you that sure they’ll expect a presentation once you give notice? I’d give notice and ask them about this and frankly be honest about where it’s at. What do you really have to lose but some stress at this point? I also don’t think one extra day, while helpful($500 a ticket?) would have made this part much easier so let go of that if you can. Deep breaths.

      1. KayKay*

        Yes, $500 a ticket. :-) You’re right, they’re reasonable people and I know my boss is totally fine presenting up herself, I just feel nervous that I won’t have anything good to give her. On the other hand, she’s new to the business and I’m half-scared she’ll say, “Let’s see if we can get on president’s schedule earlier before you leave.” But in either case, I guess the advice is the same, be honest about where it’s at. I’m just so loathe to admit/reveal my incompetence here, I feel sick just thinking about it. Deep breaths. Thanks!

        1. WellRed*

          You’re not incompetent but human and I had a similar issue come up this week. Seriously, fess up and start moving on from this. What’s the worst to happen? Not trying to downplay by any means but you’ve got a foot out the door and you say they are reasonable. Lean into that. Please report back!

  97. Shoeshine*

    Does anyone have recommendations for good non-slip work shoes? My current pair is falling apart, and I’d like to narrow down my search a little.

    1. Rainy*

      Dansko makes a line of non-slip clogs, and I’ve always found Danskos to be well-made and comfortable.

      It pains me to recommend them because I find them INCREDIBLY uncomfortable, but the reason a lot of people wear Crocs in professional kitchens is because they have a slip-resistant line of work shoes, so if you aren’t one of the people who find them both painful to wear and ugly, you could look at them as well.

    2. Jinni*

      Oh, I LOVE Dansko. But go on to Zappos and read the reviews carefully. I know they fit my narrow, shallow-heeled foot well, but I’m not clear on what other types like it – but people are darn descriptive of their feet and how shoes fit. Also since manufacture shifted they are not as consistent across styles – which can be good if you can find a non-slip style that works for you. Lastly, in the reviews, people often list other brands/styles that fit the type of foot you may share. I’ve discovered other shoes that way (Born, Taos).

    3. GiantKitty*

      Just as a counterpoint, I bought a pair of Dansko clogs and they were the most painful shoes I’ve ever worn, bar none. I couldn’t even wear them a full day, and all I was doing was shopping.

  98. Second Breakfast*

    My husband is going through a mental health emergency right now, brought on by a string of extremely stressful events in our personal lives. His health team is trying to keep him out of inpatient as they adjust his medication. As we wait for the FMLA paperwork to go through, he’s taken emergency leave with the rest of his vacation time.

    How normal is it for a manager to be hassling an employee in this type of situation? His boss keeps texting him for clarification around deadlines and wanting to know an exact timeframe for his return. Unsurprisingly, this is exacerbating his mental health crisis. He’s worried that his manager is going to use this to put him on a PIP or dismiss him outright because of it.

    It’s disappointing because he’s worked there for 7 years and has historically been a high performer. Others in his organization have taken similar leave in the past. (It’s a stressful job.) His boss has been fairly obvious about trying to build a case against him since he had a less severe flare up last year. (That didn’t necessitate leave, but his ADHD was worse than usual and he missed a few deadlines on back-burner projects while juggling more time sensitive and critical work.)

    Is there any room to push back in a situation like this? Is he better off just trying to negotiate severance? What is reasonable and professional when it comes to establishing boundaries with a boss during this type of situation?

    1. Educator*

      This is appalling behavior. Once he is on FMLA, it will be FMLA interference, which is not allowed. Focus on getting that paperwork through. In the meantime, is there someone in HR that he can report this to and ask to intervene? I would ask that all communication come through HR so that they can act as a filter for what is reasonable, because this manager clearly is not. Document everything on a non-work device just in case.

      On a purely practical level, it sounds like your husband is truly medically unable to deal with work, which is basically the only time when a partner can intervene. It would be totally reasonable to text “Sorry, husband is unavailable at this time due to a medical situation. I will have him reach out when he can.” Sick is sick–no one would question that if he were dealing with a physical health crisis, like emergency surgery. There is no reason they should with a mental health crisis either.

      So sorry that this is happening to both of you, and sending good wishes for a quick resolution.

    2. WellRed*

      Does his work have HR and you are working with them? If so, that’s where I’d start. And no, I don’t think his boss is being reasonable or appropriate but that doesn’t mean HIS boss or HR won’t stop this immediately. Do NOT at this point, quit the job but your hubs should maybe stop communicating with work if that’s feasible at this point. I’m unclear where you are in the process. Best of luck!

    3. Maple Bar*

      Retaliation for taking FMLA leave is illegal and this behavior is ridiculous, but it’s also extremely common and managers / companies (often via HR) will absolutely hassle you and lie to you about what they can do and what your obligations are.

      If this isn’t something you already know how to fight, and it sounds like it’s not, I highly recommend speaking to an employment attorney and following their advice exactly.

    4. The teapots are on fire*

      This is crummy, but where in addition I’d push back is on pushing through the FMLA paperwork. If the health care team filled it out HR should be able to freaking move on it.

    5. AnonToday*

      Sending healing and care to you and your husband. It will get better. It’s hard to see it right now but it will. I was personally in this boat a decade ago; when I was in crisis and hospitalized.
      My phone was locked up. I would not have been able to start healing without the full disconnect. My parents were my abusive boss’s only contact and they just repeated that I was ill and unable to work, full stop. I also realized the abuse I’d received from my boss was the main reason I was in crisis. When I decided to resign it was a huge weight off. I got better, within 4 months I had found a better job with benefits and an amazing supervisor. I’ve moved on a few times and am in a very good place, job wise and mental health wise and am still great friends with that supervisor. No matter what happens with work and the messy business of life… It does get better.

    6. One HR Opinion*

      People don’t always understand this – especially when they work for crappy companies – but you can start FMLA right away. You are supposed to give 30 days notice for foreseen things (e.g. surgery, etc.) but for emergency situations, you notify the company you are starting FMLA immediately, and then you have 15 days to return the paperwork. You do not have to take vacation/PTO while you are waiting for the paperwork to be returned. As soon as your husband says he is going on FMLA leave, boss needs to leave him alone and if he doesn’t, take it to HR or up the chain if there isn’t HR.

      Good luck to you both.

  99. Jackie*

    Hi everyone!

    I have been an internal recruiter for about 4 years and was an HR admin before that. I have some agency recruiting under my belt yet very little! Anyway, I was part of a large corporate layoff 3 weeks ago and wet soloprenuer and started my own company, got an LLC , clients and boom Im on my own!
    Now to make it all happen on a budget so to speak.

    My question is: What are some inexpensive or free job boards, sourcing platforms, advertising options or ideas ?

    1. tab*

      If you’re in the US, I highly recommend SBDC. They offer free (my favorite price) consulting on starting and running a small business. They are a collaboration between universities and the SBA. They helped me for over a year when I started my consulting business.

  100. Troutwaxer*

    I’m currently looking for work, and got a request for a recruiter which included the following:

    Employment Verification (any of the following)
    Letter of Recommendation
    Previous pay stub
    Past W-2

    They’re also asking for an SS number, and all this was after one very short phone call. I’m concerned that they’re asking for a lot of information way too soon. Any thoughts?

      1. Troutwaxer*

        Thanks to both of you for your opinions. I have replied and let them know I’m no longer interested in the position.

    1. Rainy*

      It’s a phishing scam. We see similar things occasionally, but they’re currently on the upswing. The recruiter angle is interesting–the version I usually see is an offer letter for a job the person didn’t apply for, with a short deadline for acceptance and getting them your W-4 and direct deposit details which will of course have all the ID/bank details needed to rob you.

  101. D.*

    I had three interviews and an assessment last week for a position I would love to take on. I think everything went well and a friend of mine on the inside hasn’t heard of them interviewing anyone else. Everyone has been very warm and responsive. I’m waiting to hear back now, so I’m just trying to keep my wits about me.

  102. Borg Maturation Chamber*

    Hello! My concern is with being in a position of responsibility while dealing with extreme pregnancy fatigue and the liability of making a serious mistake on the job.

    I’m about 9 weeks pregnant, which my employer is aware and supportive of, and the brain fog and fatigue have been significant. I’m also taking high amount of supplemental hormones to help support the pregnancy under the orders of my reproductive endocrinologist, which are also seriously messing up my mental abilities.

    I’m a veterinarian, so I’m responsible for making ongoing serious and potentially life-or-death decisions throughout the day. Since my symptoms became significant about 2 weeks ago, I have caught myself making several critical errors on the job – missing important findings, drug calculation mistakes, etc. Fortunately these were caught by myself or a member of my team before any harm was done – mistakes do happen so we have mechanisms to try and prevent them, which clearly are working, but it’s the old Swiss cheese model. At some point, something will slip through the cracks, and at the rate I’m going, it’s going to happen sooner rather than later.

    So… I’m not sure what the ethical thing to do at this point is. Quit? I’ve raised this concern with both my RE and my family doctor but neither seem concerned, and just reassure me that this is normal. I know it is, but I’m less concerned for myself than for my patients and my future professional career. I discussed my concerns with my boss as well, but her view is that I’m the only one who can decide. She really didn’t seem too concerned either which was odd to me – I wonder if it’s because if something did happen, because of the way the clinic is structured,
    the hammer would mostly come down on me and my license, and less so on the clinic itself.

    I would appreciate any thoughts or options I hadn’t considered!

    1. ShinyPenny*

      Borg Maturation Chamber, my reply to you landed as a new post instead of as a reply. It’s right below your post.

    2. Employed Minion*

      Would reducing your hours be an option? Work part time as opposed to quitting? This would give you more rest, hopefully help you think more clearly on the job. Or could you build in more checks into your work processes?

      I remember the fatigue and brain fog of pregnancy (some get it worse than others). Good luck!

  103. ShinyPenny*

    It sounds like you are clearly saying the patients are not safe, and that you need– but are not getting– help determining effective next steps to address this new reality. Trust yourself, that you are seeing your situation clearly, even when professionals around you are in denial.
    Realistic next steps, like sick leave or a leave of absence, are likely to be disruptive and unpleasant (omg the schedule! the coverage! the cancellations!), so of course no one is enthused. However, between the heartbreak and the liability, it will be much worse for *you* if you wait until a patient dies as a result of a mistake.

    Your boss’s behavior actually seems like a serious red flag. She doesn’t need to be enthused, but she should have a better grip on the priorities. Her denial does not serve you at all.
    If you are risking your license– and thus your future financial well being– your choice should be clear (not easy, but clear), for your OWN sake. Your boss should be supporting you in preserving your career. She should also be prioritizing the safety of your patients! Instead it sounds like she’s pretending there’s no problem here. She’s failing you on both personal and ethical levels.

    Could you approach this incrementally? Could you take an immediate week of sick leave, and then re-assess? Like, just call in sick tomorrow. As if you caught the flu, or broke your arm? Because essentially, you are “not well.” This is a normal part of being a falible human! And taking time to heal is appropriate.
    Maybe your mind and body will achieve a better balance in a week. Or maybe not, and you’ll need to try another week or two. Maybe you’ll reach a higher level of clarity about a different next step, after some time to rest.

    This sound like a very upsetting and difficult situation. I hope your body adjusts and you feel better very soon. But we need to preserve ALL our precious veterinarians! We thank you and appreciate you, and we will need you in the future when you are back to feeling great. So please, take time now to care for yourself.

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