Memorial Day open thread

It’s Memorial Day! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about.

{ 403 comments… read them below }

  1. Basement Dweller*

    Does anyone have suggestions for a wall or desktop clock that uses wifi to pull current weather reports instead of requiring a sensor? I need something for my no-window office and can’t set out sensors.

    1. Observer*

      Look into something like a smart clock. I think Lenovo has one that uses Google Assistant. That should give you time an weather. Or something like a Nest Hub – I’m pretty sure that you can configure the screen to show time an weather.

    2. AnonInCanada*

      I’d use a Google Nest Hub for something like that. They’re cheap, use WiFi, gives you a chance to yell Hey Google at it, and will work for just this purpose. Though I would highly recommend setting up a throwaway Google account to associate it with. You’ll also need to install the Google Home app on a phone connected to the same Wifi network to get it set up, but after that, you’re good.

  2. lion*

    My job has a company-sponsored mentoring program that I recently joined. I signed up because I’ve never really had a mentor before, and I thought this would be a good opportunity. I’ve only had one meeting with my mentor so far and she seems great, but I’m finding it hard to come up with specific things to talk about. The program runs through the fall, so we have bi-weekly 30 minute meetings scheduled for the next few months. Does anyone have ideas of topics I can bring up or things that would be good to discuss? On a general level, I wanted to talk about career progression at my company and how to work towards promotion but feel like I need more specific things to discuss on our calls.

    1. cabbagepants*

      Disclaimer: I find company-sponsored mentor programs to generally not be very useful. Relationships that build organically tend to be better because you have a personal investment in each other and can be more candid.

      I’d suggest bringing specific work-place challenges and decisions you’ve encountered since the last meeting.

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        There is a catch 22 where by the time you know what you don’t know and what you need to know, you’re getting to the point of being self-aware enough to not need one.

        1. nnn*

          I don’t think that’s true at all. Mentors can help you build your skills to get to the next level above you, help you solve problems, coach you to be a better manager…. None of that is stuff you don’t need just because you’re self aware.

    2. Not A Manager*

      You could try the opposite. Ask her to essentially mentor you about mentoring. “I’ve never had a formal mentor before. What’s your advice about how to use this time mostly wisely?” – “What are some things you wished you’d known about this company or our profession in general, when you were in my position?” – “If you were me, what questions would you be asking? What should I be thinking about at this stage in my career?”

      Obviously you can’t ask these things in quick succession or spend your whole time on them, but those might be organic conversation starters OR provide areas to research and come back next time with specific issues.

    3. Lucy Van Pelt*

      How about laying out those general topics and ask her what sub-topics are involved? I actually think it’s a good opportunity to talk about the big picture intead of necessarily getting into specific day-to-day things.

    4. Venus*

      Alison has discussed this before and had some really good ideas. I’m not good at finding specific posts so can’t link it, sorry.

      I have had good success as a mentee and variable experiences as a mentor with our company-sponsored program. Most of my mentees seemed really pleased although one rarely had topics to discuss so I felt badly yet she ended up being happy overall and found it useful. My biggest suggestion would be to have a more flexible schedule, where you can cancel meetings if you don’t have anything to discuss. Biweekly is too frequent in my experience! It would be good to keep it in the schedule and cancel at least a few days ahead of time if you don’t have anything in mind. My best mentorship was when I started to take on more leadership roles and I could stop by for a few minutes as needed. “Steve was yelling at Phil in my meeting. How do I handle that before we meet again next week?”

    5. Betty*

      I work in IT at a life sciences company, and I signed up for our company mentoring program. I wanted my mentor to tell me about her career and about the science of what the company does. That’s all I wanted at first, but then other things came up organically.

      My position has more responsibility than I’ve had before, so I talked with my mentor about working well with my manager. I also told her I wanted to join the DE&I committee, but I was wondering if my contribution to the committee would be helpful. My mentor encouraged me to do it, and I’m very glad I followed her advice.

      On a side note, the enthusiasm I’ve experienced personally for our company’s DE&I work from individual company leaders, is very encouraging.

    6. Aspiring Great Manager*

      I have had good luck thinking about the things I’m struggling with in the week or two leading to the mentoring chat and coming up with a question that is a level or two above that in terms of concept. For example, when I had staff call in sick a lot for personal health, and then family health and the work was starting to falter, I was struggling with how to get this person to focus on still deliver the results we really needed from them while also maintaining myself true to my priorities of taking care of staff first and foremost. So at the call, I asked what are your winning strategies on how to support your team members as they traverse hard times but we do still have to deliver on projects? So rather than problem-solve a particular situation, ask for general experience and guidance on the general issue. I have found their insights and discussion after quite useful!

    7. Just*

      “When you were at my stage in your career, in hindsight what would you have wanted guidance on?”

    8. SG*

      I know you are looking to work towards promotion, but how about taking an approach where you ask whether she has any stretch projects you could assist her with? It doesn’t even have to be a vertical stretch — it could be anything outside of your expertise that could help round out your experience and skill/or set. In tandem with that, you could ask her to review your resume and share her observations of skills and/or experience she sees as areas where you could grow or expand. You also might ask your direct supervisor what areas she suggest you work on with your mentor, and also there may be areas where you want to gain experience and could ask if your mentor has a project or opportunity that fits that interest of yours.

    9. SG*

      This has not been my experience at all — it depends on the program and the mentor, and what the mentee makes of it. I had a mentor in a company-sponored program about 6 years ago, and she is still very much a mentor and friend even though she retired a year later, and neither of us are no longer at the company.

      1. SG*

        This was supposed to be a response to cabbagepants. I could have sworn that’s where I clicked “reply”!

    10. Sierra*

      Take this with a grain of salt, because I’ve also had only one meeting with my mentor so far! We ended up choosing a project to focus on for the length of our official mentorship program. We chose something that integrated a few different goals, that is a skill-builder for me, and that is in my mentor’s area of expertise. I’m sure other topics will come up organically, but this gives us a jumping off point.

  3. Frustrated and annoyed*

    I’m not sure if this counts as a work question or a personal question, so I’m glad this thread allows both:

    My sister will not stop complaining about her call center job (she got laid off from her instructional design job last year). She was laid off from her job doing something called instructional design after only a few months months. Her boss told her the layoff wasn’t her fault but because of issues out of my sister’s control. My sister job-hunted and just when her unemployment was about to run out she got not one, but three job offers. Two of them were in offices and one was in a call center. She chose the call center job because the call center closes the week between Christmas and New Years and she had never worked anywhere that automatically gave employees those days off. When she told me about the three job offers and was using me as a sounding board the only thing I said was that she had tried for so long to get out of customer facing/service jobs because she hated them and that’s what she did with getting her instructional design job. Neither of the office jobs were customer service the same as the call center was. But my sister chose the call center and I told her to choose whatever she thinks is best.

    Unsurprisingly, she went back to job hunting almost immediately. She constantly complains about the call center and her career situation. It is beyond normal venting. It has become her entire personality. It doesn’t matter what other people are talking about or if you are having a different conversation with her. You could be talking about the weather, a movie you just watched, a new recipe you tried or anything else and my sister will bring it back to her employment situation and hatred of the call center. A family member just got engaged and my sister hijacked and took over their announcement to talk about how miserable she is at the call center and how she is jealous of other people’s career situation. She had to be told off and to step back. She still doesn’t understand why other family members told her off for hijacking the engagement news.

    She is so miserable she is talking about going to law school, or to graduate school to get a Master’s in human resources and than a professional HR certification. She graduated in 2008 with a journalism degree and this is the first time she’s ever talked about law school or graduate school. I’m not saying people can’t change careers or go to college later in life (my sister is 37). But my sister is only talking about this because she hates the call center. She admits she’s not particularly interested in law or HR but she wants a proper career like her friends have and this would help. She’s worked at a law firm before and she said she knows what being a lawyer is like so it would be fine. But she has literally admitted to no interest in either career.

    I understand people need to vent sometimes but this has become her entire personality and she’s incapable of talking about anything else. I told her people are tried of hearing her complain and she needs to dial it back. She got so mad at me. I can’t help wth the job stuff because I work in the trades and have never had to write a resume or do a formal job interview. But everyone is tired of her constantly talking about it and hijacking every single conversation. It’s literally all she ever talks about. She is so mad and says I’m a jerk who isn’t being supportive. I’m trying but I’m at my wits end. Any advice is appreciated.

    1. cabbagepants*

      Captain Awkward has great advice about this. I’ll link her post in a follow-on comment. To summarize, there are three steps:

      1) Lay it out one more time how the relentless complaining is impacting relationships. Be kind but be clear.

      2) Maintain boundaries that make it hard for her to complain at you, such as having less social time together.

      3) Give yourself a break from giving her situation your mental and emotional space.

    2. DJ Abbott*

      I think working with a therapist would help her, both with her fixation on her unhappiness about the job, and why she chose this job in the first place. It sounds like she’s so focused on her own misery she can’t see anything else. She needs therapy to help her out of that and able to engage with what’s around her. A good therapist could also help her figure out what she needs to be happy.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, this. One way of redirecting her vents is to state that her problems are beyond your pay grade to solve and that she needs professional help. She probably doesn’t want to hear it, but that doesn’t mean the OP has to continue to listen to her.

        People like the OP’s sister are users. They’re counting on the unwillingness of their victims to go no-contact on them. But clearly the sister’s problems are affecting the OP’s mental health, too.

        Frustrated and annoyed, I think that you might also benefit from talking to a therapist of some kind. The right person can really help you in setting boundaries with your sister and feeling good about doing so.

    3. Lucy Van Pelt*

      I’d go into “active listening” mode here and try, once, to really hear her out about what she is feeling (don’t give her advice, don’t tell her to be quiet). Next, maybe ask her what kind of help she would like from you. If it’s just that she needs a place to vent, you might be able to day, depending on your relationship with her, that you will listen to her rant at full volume for, say, an hour a week. Otherwise, you’re going to talk about the weather, the Red Sox, or whatever else. My other favorite advice columnist, Carolyn Hax, has lots of advice on how to deal with situations like this.

    4. Cacofonix*

      I’d turn the tables from listening, suffering, and pushing back to giving her problem back to her exactly the same way every time and cutting off all complaining even if it seems rude.
      Her: I hate my job and here’s every little reason why. She starts in..
      You: (jumping in..) sounds tough. What steps have you taken to get out since you last brought this up?
      Her: well, I’ve applied to more jobs, but I hate the call centre….
      You: Well, as you know I support your efforts at changing but this isn’t my area. I’ve only learned that ruminating over things is unhelpful for getting unstuck. So, who knows, your alumnae network, career counsellor, therapist will be a better bet than me/us. Until then, let’s give air time to other people/topics.
      Her: You’re not being supportive!
      You: Actually I am. We all have been for months. You are the one holding on tight to your misery. We can’t do this for you.

      Next time, every time.
      Her: I hate my jooooob! I….
      You: Wait. What steps have you taken to get yourself unstuck?

    5. I should really pick a name*

      You’ve talked to her about it, and she wasn’t receptive, so I wouldn’t bother trying again.

      If she directly asks for your advice, you can say you don’t have anything new to add.

      How are your skills at redirecting conversations? Throw in a “I’d really like to finish hearing what Jermaine was saying”.

      When possible, just avoid her. If she starts complaining about her job, it’s a great time to go see what’s in the fridge.

    6. RagingADHD*

      Sounds like your sister is having an existential crisis about her life choices. It’s not about the call center, per se, it’s about feeling stuck in life. She’s engaging in magical thinking fantasies about “real jobs” that she doesn’t even like or want, just to get unstuck.

      If you want to help her, try taking her *more* seriously instead of just telling her to knock it off. Tell her she seems stuck and very unhappy in a way that goes beyond just the job situation. It’s impacting her relationships and her ability to connect with people she loves.

      Ask her how she feels about things in the big picture. She’s at the point in life where she can see 40 from here. Is she in a relationship? Does she want to be? Is she interested in kids? Your later 30’s are when a lot of reckoning starts to come down on you, and people often feel like it’s their last chance to shape their life course before it’s locked in forever. (That’s not true, but it’s a very common moment of panic).

      Venting about the job is keeping her from dealing with the bigger issues she needs to address.

      1. DJ Abbott*

        People can make a change at any age. I changed my career 2 years ago at age 59. I look younger than I am, so my new employer probably thought I was around 50.
        I’ve been at my new job for more than a year and I’m thinking about looking for something else because this job still has too much pressure. It’s a combination of the way it’s structured, and the assistant manager’s approach to it. The only thing is, every job has pressure and another job might be worse.

    7. The Shenanigans*

      I’m not sure why you think there’s something wrong with this. Whether or not calling references is useful very much depends on the questions that are asked. They shouldn’t be about mutual friends, general personality, or any other non-work thing. It should be to find out if they have integrity, have done this kind of work before, can learn quickly, etc.

      Whether or not the person is a good culture or personality fit can be easily found out in interviews with that person, if they are doing those right. The candidate can also ask questions about such things. BTW this isn’t inherently discriminatory. It is absolutely to my benefit as a candidate to ask, for instance, “I’ve noticed that the office is very quiet today. Is that typical of how people work?” because there is just absolutely no way I would succeed in such an office.

      Also, good hiring managers don’t just call the people on the person’s list. The person provides people they think will speak well of them, so it makes sense to call around to other people. But that doesn’t mean it’s bad to ask people to provide their own references. In fact, the people they choose can tell a lot about the person eg, are they professional or personal, do even hand-picked references hem and haw, etc.

      I’m sure there are hiring managers out there who use this process to just hire people like them or allow bias to creep in. But that’s an issue with those managers, not the process itself.

    8. lilsheba*

      I can so understand her complaining endlessly about a call center job, I had one for 5 years and it sucked every bit of life out of me and I hated every second of for a bunch of reasons I won’t lay out here. But I don’t believe I dominated every conversation about it. But like I said I can understand the sheer hatred of it. They are soul sucking.

      1. Good Enough For Government Work*

        Same. By the end of my eighteen months in a call centre, I was having three panic attacks per day (once before starting my shift, once in the lunch break, and the last when I finished for the day). I was utterly, unspeakably miserable, and I’m sure I was a nightmare to be around — not because I talked about it, because the only way I could keep going on was by holding everything inside and NOT talking about it, but because I just became this inherently grey, Eeyore-like person and couldn’t take joy in anything.

        (In the end I went to the doctor, was signed off on three weeks’ medical leave by my GP, and spent the time writing as many job apps as I could — one of the reasons I’d got trapped in the call centre was that after an eleven-hour shift, even the day after, I could not possibly face looking at anything even vaguely job-related. Anyway, one of those turned into a middle-management job in the public sector and I’ve never looked back, nor had another panic attack, since.)

        1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

          Jobs bother people more than people think. that reminds me of when I was calling someone for work and they were like ‘ this job has ruined my life’ and she totally meant it! Uh just co signing

    9. JSPA*

      She is allowed to go back to school for something where she feels that the paycheck check is worth the pain–whether or not it interests her, in the abstract.

      She’s allowed to only have thought seriously about going back to school, because she hates her current job.

      That said it might be worth telling her that she’s might launch into education better after dealing with the misery of working a call center job, both through therapy and through finding another job, first.

      As for her picking a job that you thought was predictably not a good idea (not that you… actually said so at the time) because there was time off? That can be a tipoff about stress and burnout, all by itself. ( Think about it: you’re taking the job not because of anything about the job, but because of the time off from the job. That often says, “time off has taken on outsize importance in my life because I really need a break.”)

      Maybe point out that going If to grad school or law school is (by default) really intense! You need to be in a good place / be your best self to apply, get in, and then make the program work for you.

      So again, getting out of the misery and into a different paying job–and doing some therapy or other self care–that’s something to do before going to law school or grad school; it is not something that law school or grad school can offer you.

      1. Rose*

        This is weirdly and unnecessarily critical. They pointed out that she really hated customer service jobs and wanted to get out of those. There’s nothing else to do in that situation. You can’t pick someone else’s job for them. When someone asks for advice, then doesn’t listen pushing them more and explaining why they are wrong rarely ever works.

        You CAN go for a very intensive very expensive graduate degree later in life that will lead to an extremely demanding job that you have no interest in doing, but it’s not a good idea for most people. Law especially is a career trajectory where even people who think they really want to do it often wind up being miserable. Given that we know sister already chose a job that she could’ve easily predicted, hating based on a vacation week is a great sign that she’s not really good at decision making in this area.

    10. Jade*

      Be honest. “Sis I love you. I feel for you. But I cannot talk endlessly about how much you hate your job. What else would you like to talk about today?” You are not a therapist.

      1. Rose*

        This is perfect. Keep it short and simple. If she tries to tell you that you’re not supportive clearly tell her I want to be supportive but that does not and is never going to mean listening to you complain constantly/every conversation we have being about your job/etc. Remind yourself that she doesn’t get to define supportive as doing exactly what she wants.

    11. Heffalump*

      My advice to her would be:

      1) Get something that doesn’t require a whole new degree but suits her better than the call center–after all, she did have two other irons in the fire when she took the call center job.
      2) If she feels a need for a new degree, it should at least prepare her for something that interests her.

      But maybe you’ve already suggested this to her?

    12. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      Yeah, working in a call center is not only nerve-wracking, it can be destructive to a career.

      Many employers put a stigma on call-center workers who apply for other jobs. Use caution.

  4. Pyth*

    I know that in the US (and to some degree in other places as well) it is common to ask for references. I think it’s also recommended here quite a lot. I feel like this might be attracting a specific type of person, especially when the references are supplied by the interviewee.

    I totally understand finding references for managers or higher up, but even asking them to supply their own references seems wrong to me.

    Is there any discussion about changing this practice at all?

    1. Courageous cat*

      I will say, anecdotally, I am mid-level management/senior analyst level and I don’t think I’ve even been asked for references in like 10 years. Even job applications don’t seem to request them anymore. Maybe it’s regional.

      1. GingerNP*

        I recently (like a couple of weeks ago) got an offer for my first NP job and did get a request for four references – but it was run through basically an online survey of skill ratings which they then aggregated the data – so not the same as requesting references write a letter or make time to take a phone call.

      2. Spearmint*

        I think it varies by field and size of the company more than region. It seems like smaller fields and companies do more reference checking.

    2. Gyne*

      It might be field specific but I think reference checking is critical for good hiring. It doesn’t have to be formal “send me your references” -> I call the references -> make offer or not. I’m hiring for an employed position now (another physician to join my practice) and I absolutely would want to talk to mutual friends or acquaintances about the person. But my field is small and contracts are generally at least two years with a 90 day+ notice period. But turnover is expensive in any field so why wouldn’t you want to try to vet someone before hiring them?

      1. Courageous cat*

        Well, from my experience, the candidate usually does provide their own references. They’re going to choose people they’ll be pretty confident will only say nice things about them. Is that sometimes not the case? Sure – but I think largely overall you’re just going to get a biased view from their references, which doesn’t seem that helpful to me.

        This surely varies by field, especially if there’s contracts on the line, but that’s my take

        1. I should really pick a name*

          They’ll provide someone they think will speak well of them, but you can still ask questions that will get you useful information.

          There’s a lot of info that isn’t necessarily good or bad in general, but can affect your decision.
          You can ask what kind of projects they handled, whether they worked in a large or small team, that sort of thing.

        2. Irish Teacher*

          Isn’t there sort of a convention about who you give as references though? I feel that if you didn’t have your last manager (and it’s not a case that you are still working there and don’t want him/her to know you are leaving), that in itself tells its own story. Certainly, in teaching in Ireland, the norm would be to give your previous principal or if you are only just qualified, to give your teaching practice supervisor.

          I also think most people are going to say nice things but…you can probably read a lot into what isn’t said or how adamantly things are said. Like “x’s attendance and punctuality were satisfactory during his time at our company” sort of damns with faint praise. Or if the job involves handling a lot of money and there is no mention of honesty, it would make you think. And then there is the issue of whether the skills match the priorities for the job. Like if the role involves x and y and the reference is focussed on the candidate’s particular love of x and how they particularly excel in that part of the role but the company really needs somebody who excels in y, it may not be a good fit.

          I’ve never been involved in hiring, but I assume there is a lot of reading between the lines in reference checking.

      2. Pyth*

        I agree that checking through mutual acquaintances is a useful thing to do, although even then I’d be wary. I think this could result in hiring more people from within your circle.

        What I am mostly questioning is the asking for references and calling them though.

        1. Gyne*

          Re: hiring within your circle. That’s a good point and is potentially problematic. I do think if you’re mindful of the potential for bias there, you’d mitigate some of that. But I don’t necessarily know everyone I might call to check someone out, sometimes it’s more like, “hmmm, so-and-so works with Dr. X, who finished training at Hospital Y a few years before my colleague Dr. A started there, I’ll see if Dr. A can reach out to her former attendings to get their thoughts on Dr. X”

    3. I should really pick a name*

      Could you clarify what you mean by “attracting a specific type of person”?

    4. Observer*

      I totally understand finding references for managers or higher up, but even asking them to supply their own references seems wrong to me.

      Is there any discussion about changing this practice at all?

      Why? What is wrong with talking to references? And what is wrong with asking them to supply them?

      I do think that not limiting yourself to the references that your applicant supplies is a good idea. But that seems to be not what you are concerned about.

    5. Yes And*

      I’m coming around to the idea that the only purpose of checking references is to verify that your final-choice candidate is who they say they are and has done what they say they’ve done. Qualitative references are less useful because 1) people will give references they know will speak well of them, 2) there are any number of legitimate reasons someone might be unwilling or unable to give their current supervisor as a reference, and 3) more and more HR departments are forbidding their managers to give qualitative references because of liability issues. I think “trust but verify” is a part of due diligence, but “tell me about this person’s strengths and weaknesses” is not helpful to decision-making.

      1. Cordelia*

        yes, ours are facts not opinions. This person worked here in this role between these dates, attendance was XXX, sick time was XXX, no complaints, disciplinary proceedings or grievances against them, they were not fired. They are mostly provided by HR now, and are checked after the provisional offer is made – they are not part of the decision-making. I think this is how it should be.

    6. Csethiro Ceredin*

      I’ve had some surprisingly useful information from references before, so I can see why people still want them. I’m not sure what kind of person is more or less likely to have references to provide, though.

      All it takes is one “I didn’t think it was possible for anyone to complain so much about so many things, including the CEO having a better parking office than them” or “we kept finding them asleep under their desk” to balance out a bunch of anodyne, largely useless reference calls. And there are still instances in which you find out the person didn’t do the job they said they did.

      So usually not much use, but when they are useful they’re VERY useful, I feel.

      1. Csethiro Ceredin*

        parking spot or office, I meant… though I’m sure some CEO’s just park themselves in their office all day….

      2. Prospect Gone Bad*

        People forget that you can also learn POSITIVE things unexpectedly in reference calls. Someone will start rambling and say good things that are mundane enough that the candidate didn’t bring them up. Or the reference says something that would appear completely innocuous but make the think candidate is a super good fit for the job

    7. Rose*

      What specific type of person would this attract? People whose past managers liked them? I’m confused.

      We ask people for references, but we request that they be somebody that the person was managed by. If someone doesn’t want us talking to recent managers, we ask why, and go from there. If it’s some thing like the person has passed away or is it in Costa Rica for three months with no cell service, we take it at face value and try to get a sense from coworkers, they worked closely with. If someone says the manager was awful or won’t have good things to say, we talk to the manager and wherever coworker was provided to try to get a sense of things. Often this is a bad sign, but we’ve had cases where the person’s former manager was put into a mandatory anger management by HR.

      References really aren’t that random and we don’t just accept what we are given. Interviews are really just self assessments and stories that would be very difficult to confirm salient details of. Skill tests and references are much more important and valuable in my opinion.

      1. Reb*

        Some of the questions I ask referees are ones that it’s hard for referees to hedge on. Like, would you employ them again? and were there any complaints against them? And I ask questions like what their greatest achievements were and get the referee talking about what they’d bring to the position. And if I catch a whiff of something negative, I did into that. My hiring’s improved since I got more thorough with referees.

      2. allathian*

        Managers are human like everyone else, and if the person left because they had a poor relationship with the manager that was largely the manager’s fault, they can really sabotage someone’s career if they’re taken at face value. It’s also difficult for a candidate to be frank about that in an interview, because generally people don’t want to badmouth their former employers and hiring managers are generally wary of people who are willing to do so.

  5. Dovasary Balitang*

    Do you think we’ve regressed back to a pre-Covid level of comfort regarding working while sick? Why or why not?

    1. Loopy*

      I personally think having an all in one leave bucket contributes a lot to the temptation to work sick. When I had separate sick hours, I used them as needed. I haven’t had dedicated sick leave in many years and especially when I’m planning my leave for the year it seems very hard to set aside what time I do get allotted for maybe just in case sick days.

      Also being able to work from home makes it more tempting to work sick since no one is risked and it feels terrible to “lose” leave time when sick.

      I really miss having separate vacation leave and sick leave.

    2. Em*

      At my job, working from home went from being a very occasional luxury to the norm due to covid. People still work through illness, but coming to work sick doesn’t really happen anymore (at least as far as I’m aware).

      1. allathian*

        Yes, the same thing happened at my job. Before Covid, I used to WFH about once a month at most, usually because I had to take our son to an appointment in the middle of the day, or he was too sick to go to school and too young to leave at home alone all day. In those cases my husband and I used to alternate WFH and office, depending on our schedules.

        Now I avoid scheduling in office days when I’m feeling a bit sick, even when I’m not too sick to WFH. I’m just glad that there hasn’t been any pressure to go to the office, at least not yet. They’re encouraging us to go at least once a week, but at least our manager hasn’t done any more than that (yet). But we’re a distributed team, and there’s no point in forcing people to go to the office if they’re sitting in Teams meetings all day anyway. I’m glad my manager feels the same way.

    3. Courageous cat*

      I think it varies a lot, both from person to person and company to company. I’d say largely it depends on how lenient your company is. A lot of companies say “don’t come in when sick” but if you have an important role or project coming up, they don’t always necessarily mean it.

    4. RussianInTexas*

      With the disclaimer that I work from home, I have never stopped working while sick, even when I did have covid. I only have 10 days of vacation and 4 sick days that I can use as vacation if needed, so unless I physically cannot drag myself to my chair, I am working.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Ditto, except that I have plenty of PTO – I just also have better things to do with it. If I can work without exposing other people to my germs, I do, and as a result I’ve called in sick once in almost nine years.

    5. ThatGirl*

      At my company, mostly no, but that’s because we have unlimited sick time. People do sometimes wfh while sick but there’s less pressure. I’m sure this varies by company.

    6. Micah*

      I think that depends heavily on your field. Retail only ever followed the law minimum.

    7. Gyne*

      In my field, definitely not. I think this permanently changed. We always had a strong martyr culture in the Before Times. (I once worked 24 hours, caught a GI bug toward the end of my shift, and then went back in to do a short surgery. Another surgeon and I alternated puking in the staff restroom – she had come down with something on vacation and had just come back to town.) Nowadays my partners and I have released any guilt we once had about canceling a full day of clinic or a surgery if I’m legitimately sick. We generally still work with minor sniffles (but we also still mask in the office.)

      As another part of this, though, is my work/pto situation, in that I have no “pto” per se. I’m a partner and medicine is a fee-for-service model, so while I do not get paid if I don’t work, I also don’t report to anyone so I can take off as much time as I want. And my partners and I are all similarly minded in that we’ll generally rally to cover hospital call if one of us is sick.

    8. CTT*

      In my office, I think it’s actually gotten worse. I’m at a law firm, and pre-Covid, most support staff (i.e. paralegals, assistants, billing coordinators) didn’t have WFH capabilities, so if they were sick they typically stayed home, apart from the occasional “hey, your cold is actually much grosser than you realize” incidents. But now that they all have laptops, I’ve noticed a lot more “I’m not feeling well but I’ll be online, call me if you need anything!”

    9. orion70*

      Yes, and in some cases, worse.

      The only thing that’s maybe changed a little is that people who care to not infect everyone around them, have at times some leverage in WFH in those situations. Otherwise, people are coming to work unmasked, actively symptomatic etc. And by “worse” I mean that so many of them also seem to have forgotten that they should even cover a cough at all.

      The messaging coming at people does not help this, from health agencies, to local managers.

    10. The Shenanigans*

      I fully admit that the following is colored by having an autoimmune disorder and being told on at least a weekly basis that my life doesn’t matter to people:

      I think it got worse. I think that the US, at least, has learned absolutely the wrong lessons from the pandemic. In my experience, we’ve embraced selfishness in the name of “freedom” and now care even less about the impact of our actions on others. People are now openly saying things like, “Well, COVID is ONLY killing the disabled, and it’s JUST the already compromised that die.” Besides being demonstrably untrue, it’s an incredibly cruel mindset. Because of this bigotry becoming more mainstream, we see being sick and taking care of oneself when sick as weak. I think this is why we are seeing more and more companies blatantly break the law with regard to FMLA and ADA, firing people on maternity leave, taking away sick time entirely, etc.

      1. Csethiro Ceredin*

        I really feel for anyone with any kind of disability or other health issue (or perceived health issue) an dhow much they’ve heard that their lives really don’t matter to a lot of people. It’s just horrifying.

        1. Felis alwayshungryis*

          “It’s okay, all the people who are dying are old anyway.” Yeah, well, my parents are old but their grandchild still loves them.

    11. Yes And*

      I’ve made it my mission at my job to advocate for policies that encourage people to take stay home when they’re sick. Unlimited sick time is probably a bridge too far for my employer. But eliminating waiting periods, more flexible WFH, and cross-training for absence coverage are all doable.

    12. Csethiro Ceredin*

      Love the user name! I want to re-read those two books.

      Here I think people are less likely to come in sick now. The team that works from home may sometimes still work there if mildly sniffly, when they wouldn’t come in like that.

      But we had very firm COVID rules all along and still mask when not at our own desks, and I think we all became more aware of the fact that a few folks in the office are quite vulnerable, health-wise.

    13. fueled by coffee*

      Echoing what others have said re: not wanting to lose sick time, especially when WFH.

      But I also think there’s another post-covid consequence, which is: “Well, I tested negative for covid, so I’m coming in, even though I am coughing/feverish/otherwise spewing germs all over the place.” Covid isn’t the only illness, and I don’t want your other germs either! (And rapid tests aren’t 100% accurate, either. I was testing negative on rapids for 2 days before it finally turned positive when I had symptomatic covid).

      Obviously the real solution to this is an expansion of sick leave and better access to healthcare (esp. in the US), but this has started to expand into my social sphere too. I don’t want to socialize with you while you are contagious, even if it is just a cold!

    14. Caramel & Cheddar*

      Assuming you mean “sick” as “contagious” , I honestly can’t tell yet. Our company has a hybrid office environment, so I like to think people are choosing to work from home if they’re contagious, but at the same time I recently caught COVID from being in the office after getting a little too lax with my mask usage, so I know someone else definitely came in sick. They may have been asymptomatic, which doesn’t help.

      What I *do* know is that no one is doing any kind of contact tracing or exposure notification anymore. Someone else on my team also had COVID right before me and I only found out accidentally in a passing conversation (not who had it, just that someone did have it). When I tested positive, I let my entire team know so that they could test themselves. I wish other people would do the courtesy of letting me know when they’d exposed me to it.

      1. Caramel & Cheddar*

        I should add that for non-contagious stuff, most of my colleagues seem to be powering through sickness if they *can* work from home. Days they might have called in sick if they had to be in the office in the past become work days at home, which is probably fine in some cases but I hope it doesn’t make people think just because they *can* work from home, it means they *should* work from home. You need to rest.

    15. Sunny days are better*

      Even before Covid, I would have much preferred people to WFH if they had a cold or something – if they felt well enough to work, but not come in to give it to everyone else.

      That part seems to have gotten better now – when people are not feeling well, they take a sick day or WFH.

      I would really hope that people who CANNOT WFH would stay home if they are contagiously-sick and that companies have given people the latitude (and paid sick days) to do so.

      1. orion70*

        Workplaces should have paid sick days but they really also need to have a culture that actively supports people using them. It seems like even in the places with great sick leave policies, employees still come to work sick. That can be anyone from newer employees who fear falling behind or at a disadvantage if they take those days, to more senior employees or managers who have a mentality that the place can’t run without them. It means not just piling the work onto someone else when someone’s sick, i.e. well-resourced positions. It also means not tying performance evaluations to sick day usage, and it certainly shouldn’t mean rewarding people for coming into work sick with kudos etc. Things that are unfortunately seen too often.

    16. Rose*

      In person, no. I don’t think we ever will. It’s now acceptable to WFH so if I feel sick enough to not want to pass germs but not so sick I can’t work, I know I can do that without loosing face. I’ve always wanted to but had work places where days off for any reason were viewed negatively and coming in disgustingly and visibly ill was a badge of honor for many. That’s chilled out at least at my job.

    17. Rara Avis*

      I can’t WFH. I burned 7 of my 11 sick days with asymptomatic Covid (knew I had it because family members were symptomatic so I was testing). It was a few weeks before they cut the waiting time from 11 days to 6. So if I get sick again and I’m negative for Covid, I will probably work through a cold because I need to get paid. The loss of the extra bucket of sick time for Covid (state -provided) makes a difference.

  6. Em*

    I would like to feel more confident in my performance at work (my performance reviews at my current job have always been very positive, and so far every year my managers have given me a higher rating than my own self evaluation) but somehow I am always worried if I make a mistake or don’t appear invested enough. I am not a live to work person, and this feeds my anxiety- my internal monologue about work is kind of along these lines: “should I be putting in more hours? But I don’t want to do more! Everyone says I do a good job… but what do they *really* think??” This is peppered with extreme satisfaction when I do a good job, and major stress over every mistake. I don’t know if this all stems from my dad caring way too much about As on my report card and handling it badly if I didn’t have what he deemed an acceptable result, but man! I’m tired of feeling anxious and would love some tips about how to have a more objective view of my own performance.

    1. Thunder Kitten*

      It sounds like you are over-weighing negative feedback and underweighing positive. Keep a log of your successes – from your standpoint
      every time you completed more than expected, or before deadline, or under budget, or helped someone out of a jam. save and archive all complimentary emails. etc.

      This will also come in handy when asking for raise, or promotion, too.

      1. Em*

        This is *such* a good idea, thank you! Even just reading your comment was kind of an aha moment for me. I realized how often I get good feedback and it just rolls off. I very rarely pause to absorb it, and I usually downplay it. I feel embarrassed if it’s high praise. This is definitely food for thought, extending into my personal life as well. Thanks again!

        1. Betty*

          I keep all emails that are even slightly complimentary because I can refer to them when I need to be reminded that my work is appreciated. Maybe that would be helpful.

          1. Good Enough For Government Work*

            I do this too! It is INCREDIBLY useful when writing my End-Of-Year assessment.

            1. Caramel & Cheddar*

              I saw a TikTok video awhile ago where someone had a folder they call their “brag box” where they stash all the compliments they get for this exact reason.

    2. Oread*

      This might sound like a non-sequitur, but I’d recommend taking up mindfulness meditation. It sounds like your response is being driven by anxiety, specifically linked to fear of judgement by others for your performance. Learning how to ground into the present, where you have everything you need and no one is telling you anything negative, and you are absolutely doing fine, can be surprisingly helpful for learning to stop over analyzing and to just be.

      1. Em*

        This makes a lot of sense, actually. You’re spot on about the fear of judgement, too. I’m aware that most of my work stress is self generated, but I lack the skills to turn that off once it gets going. Thanks for the advice – I am already googling beginner friendly meditation practice :)

    3. mreasy*

      Hi! Also “required” to get straight As by both parents. That pressure has absolutely patterned your behavior at work (and for me, in relationships too). Time and therapy are what have helped me.

    4. Lady_Lessa*

      A mentor of mine used to say “It takes 10 atta girls to make up for 1 Opps” I don’t manage anyone formally, but do try to remember to praise my co-workers to others in the company.

      Another boss used to say “It’s not a mistake until it gets out the door”

    5. Wes*

      It sounds like you have imposter syndrome (I recognise it because I have it too!). What helps me is a) to try and look objectively at the feedback I’m getting – including wondering how much more kindly I would perceive someone else who is getting the results I am getting; b) always try to be learning (not because I have a knowledge deficit but a confidence deficit, and this helps me feel like I know what I’m talking about) and c) always try to catch myself from making self-depreciating jokes or starting sentences with ‘this might be a stupid question but..”.

  7. Yaaarrrgh*

    Last week, I was contacted by a friend from an old job (been gone for months) telling me to fill out a work spreadsheet. I ignored it, because I don’t work there any more.

    Well, it escalated. E-mails. Texts. Calls. Calling up my family members and harassing THEM. “This is due tomorrow!! I need an answer!” “Boss is going to kill me!!” “I saw you online just a few minutes ago! I know you saw this! Answer me!!” “But I was always there for you as a friend!!”

    This was really creeping me out (that job had a lot sketchy about it, and this was some creepy stalker behavior, in any other circumstance), so I wrote back after the deadline that I declined to respond, and blocked everyone from that job on everything.

    I still feel weird guilt about losing the friendship, because she really did seem great, so…tell me I did the right thing?

    1. Not A Manager*

      Since she was a work friend, it might have been kind to respond to her initial email by saying, “I’m sorry I can’t help you with this but best of luck” or something like that. She was completely in the wrong to harass you, but I can see that the uncertainty of wondering if you were going to assist her or not might have exacerbated the issue. You’re certainly not wrong to cut off contact now.

      1. Cacofonix*

        This really would have been the best way to go – a kindness with little effort on your part that may have circumvented some of her anxiety and escalation. She may have cajoled or even escalated anyway. Either way, a person who went to the extent she did to issue demands and harass your family has either a warped sense of norms or would be a creepy friend always, so best left alone.

        1. Observer*

          I don’t see any way that anything the OP could have *reasonably* done would have made any difference. The former CW was being *wildly* unreasonable. Also, they KNEW that the OP was refusing to do what they were being asked. So the OP actually saying those words would not have made a difference.

          1. NeutralJanet*

            Did she actually know that OP was refusing, or would a reasonably socially aware person have known?

            1. Observer*

              Well she told the OP that she KNEW that the OP saw that message and demanded to know why the OP wasn’t answering. And she also told the OP that *she* would have helped to OP. It’s kind of hard to make the argument that she did not understand what the OP was doing (or refusing to do).

            2. LefttwoOverthere*

              That doesn’t even matter, though. The original ask was out of line. The OP no longer Works for the company and hasn’t been there in months!?

              1. Bang Pow*

                See Yaaarrrgh’s comment with details about the original ask. It’s not out of line to send someone a voluntary survey for current and past employees.

      2. Observer*

        It would have been nice to respond to say “I’m not going to be doing this.” But that doesn’t come close to even explaining the rest of the behavior. The OP did nothing to create uncertainty. No response *is* a response, and the most sensible reaction from the former CW would have been to recognize that the OP is just not going to do the work. “I saw you online so I know you saw this” says that they knew that the OP was ignoring them. No uncertainty there.

    2. I'm fabulous!*

      The friend had no business asking you to do their work for them and crossed the line in persisting that you do it. You made the right decision. I speak from my own experience.

    3. Yaaarrrgh*

      Ah, also wanted to add: this was a completely voluntary demographic survey. Literally nothing was going to change if I answered or not.

      1. Not A Manager*

        Oh, I misunderstood. I thought she was sending you something having to do with your previous work, and asking you to do it/help her with it. If this was some kind of information-gathering that she was doing, ignoring it totally makes sense and she is bananas. Don’t feel bad at all.

        1. Yaaarrrgh*

          I mean, it was job related in the sense that this was a survey on current/past employees to return to a grant agency. But the wording on the survey made it clear that your response was optional. So.

      2. Good Enough For Government Work*

        Before you added this, I would have said that the right thing to do would have been a brief “I’m sorry, I can’t help with this – I hope everything at our old workplace is going well!” response, just so she’d know she wasn’t going to get help from you and could look elsewhere.

        Now that I know this, I would like to say that this girl clearly owns a full banana trousseau and should be avoided at all costs. You may have had a lucky escape by only finding this out NOW.

      3. Bang Pow*

        That’s not exactly a work spreadsheet. Sure, it’s her work, but it’s not like she was asking you to do part of her job.

        You kind of went nuclear there. You could have replyied to the first email with, “Sorry, I’m not able to complete this.” or even just, “I’m not able to complete this.” and retained the possibility of maintaining the friendship.

    4. Charlotte Lucas*

      You did the right thing. That is bizarre behavior on her part. The one thing that isn’t clear is whether you responded to the initial request to say that you don’t work there anymore so have no responsibility to fill anything out. (Not sure if it would have made a difference, because she escalated this so much.)

    5. Dovasary Balitang*

      That’s weird AF. Like, she might be in a bad situation if she’s spiraling like this; but none of that is your responsibility. Especially if she’s escalated to harassing your family. That is not okay.

    6. AvonLady Barksdale*

      If she were a “great” friend and colleague, she wouldn’t have asked you to do such a thing in the first place, and she definitely would not have harassed your family members (!) when you didn’t respond. That is not what friends do. That is not what good co-workers do. Shoot, that is not was MEDIOCRE co-workers do. This person either does not respect you or she is having some kind of break with reality that is not your responsibility to handle.

      I mean, personally I would have been wildly curious about why on earth she would expect me– someone who no longer works there– to complete a task for that company, but you’re not required to respond to something that strange.

    7. Wrench Turner*

      I’d ask how to submit an invoice for your time filling out the form, and suggest a 4 hour minimum at an hourly rate your comfortable with. This sounds like work and I don’t work for free, but that’s just me.

    8. I should really pick a name*

      Considering that this was a friend, I would have responded to the initial contact saying I wouldn’t do it, but there’s nothing wrong with your response to the harassment.

    9. Unkempt Flatware*

      You did the right thing. It’s not your problem she ignored your response—no response is a response in my opinion. She should have backed off after the first ask. This is not a friend.

      1. Observer*

        no response is a response in my opinion

        Exactly! What’s more, once she went to “I saw you online just a few minutes ago! I know you saw this! Answer me!!” she loses any plausible deniability. She was not “unsure” if the OP got her message or might be willing to do this. She KNEW that the OP saw it and was refusing to engage. And yet she *demanded* a response.

    10. RagingADHD*

      I really don’t understand why she even wanted you to fill it out in the first place. You don’t work there anymore.

      It sounds like you did the right thing, but personally I would be incredibly curious as to what the point of it was, and why she cared so much. It sounds like you were mistakenly on some kind of list that you should have been taken off of, but why the panic and escalation?

      Very weird, and blocking is a valid choice.

      1. Yaaarrrgh*

        The boss had a poor understanding of her job and was prone to flying off the handle. For example, me telling her that what she was asking was not possible within the constraints of the field led to her yelling for my resignation, which is the reason I left. Not dealing with that! And also, that was the reason I declined to engage with the friend instead of sending a quick note back. Just… needed to be done with that job.

        1. I take tea*

          Another good example of how a bad workplace can warp your sense of what’s reasonable. She was so focused on trying to fix This Thing that she never stopped to think if she was being reasonable. Which she definitely wasn’t. I’m sorry that you had to experience this, but I do feel sorry for her too, and hope she gets out as well and gets the headspace to realize that this definitely isn’t the way to behave.

    11. Anonymous 75*

      Well she was definitely an odd dick sending you the spreadsheet in the first place but I don’t really understand why you couldn’t have just sent a quick line back after the first email saying you wouldn’t be able to help at all. It may have stopped all the drama after or it may not have but it would have been the basic polite thing to do.

        1. Elsewise*

          I’ve only ever seen that typo/autocorrect happen the other way around, this is a rare and beautiful moment for us all.

    12. Your local password resetter*

      She was the one who blew up that friendship. And honestly you didn’t lose much.
      She crossed so many boundaries and tried to manipulate you over such a petty issue. That is not the behaviour of a good (work)friend.

    13. fhqwhgads*

      She clearly went way overboard, but at the first sign of escalation it might’ve diffused it to respond and say “I don’t work there anymore. I’m not doing this.” Hard to say if the escalation still would’ve continued or if was triggered by the absence of a response. Blocking completely after all that was an appropriate respond to what she did. Impossible to know if you could’ve prevented her from doing that in the first place.

    14. JSPA*

      If you never once said, “Sorry, can’t do this as I no longer work there,” that’s on you. (You don’t ghost on friends, even if they’re making an unreasonable request. Especially as some people continue to freelance after leaving a job, and especially as someone above her may have been telling her to contact you, implying or stating that you were, in fact, willing and obligated to do this one last thing.) So she’s…OK, still off-base, to assume, but not necessarily as off-base as it looked, from where you were standing.

      Say you were too snowed under with your current duties to even think about doing extra for an ex-job, but apologize (for real) for not sending her at least a, “so sorry, can’t.”

      1. Observer*

        Why does the OP owe any apology here?

        The whole interaction started with a major overstep on the part of the former CW – *TELLING* the OP to do work for her / the OP’s former manager, rather than asking. It’s not unreasonable that the OP did not want to engage with this, and they don’t owe anyone any reasons or excuses for not doing the work.

        especially as someone above her may have been telling her to contact you, implying or stating that you were, in fact, willing and obligated to do this one last thing.)

        So? That doesn’t obligate the OP in the least bit. In fact, I would say that if that’s what was going on, that would be all the more reason to not engage. This is so unreasonable, that the OP would have good reason not to want to get involved in a “conversation”, or more likely an argument with someone trying to claim that they are somehow obligated.

        The fact that this person both started harassing relatives and explicitly called out the OP for refusing to do the work speaks volumes. The latter says that this was not a misunderstanding of what the OP was willing to do. The latter says that there is no way that a simple “sorry, can’t” would have been received in a reasonable manner.

        1. NeutralJanet*

          Who is saying that OP owed an apology here? “Sorry, can’t help” isn’t an apology any more than “I’m sorry for your loss” is.

          1. Observer*

            JSPA actually does explicitly say that the op should ‘ apologize (for real) for not sending her at least a, “so sorry, can’t.”

            And, no the OP doesn’t owe this person an apology. For anything.

  8. Thunder Kitten*

    How do you respond when your boss or grandboss vents to you about things well out of your domain ? For example when they vent about their interactions with their boss… or performance issues with their direct reports. It is uncomfortable to hear, takes up our limited meeting time, and its impossible to diplomatically get back on track. I know enough to not spread anything they share, but still…

    1. NotBatman*

      “Sorry to cut you off, [boss], but I need to confirm the following…” Or “sorry, I’m a little tight on time, so I need to go over [work thing] while I have you.” Those both worked for me when a former supervisor had a similar bad habit of complaining about how much she disliked her direct reports (5 of whom left within 3 years, for some reason), and so I developed the habit of being a little curt and all-business with her.

      1. NotBatman*

        Clarification: I made literally no comment whatsoever about the contents of the boss’s complaints. It’d just be

        Boss: Ugh, and Elizadora never seems to want to do work!
        Me: Sorry to pivot, but my idea was to manufacture the teapots before we paint them. That work?

    2. RagingADHD*

      Use your words.

      “I know you don’t mean to, but it really puts me in a uncomfortable position when you complain about [superior] or [report]. I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to be privy to that kind of information.”

  9. Trixie*

    I’m looking at move to bigger city (90 minutes away), and looking at various questions when seeing properties in-person. I looked at a few yesterday and asked about non-refundable fees (not deposits) for apartment and pets, monthly pet fee, trash or valet trash, internet/water/electric, maintenance issues after 5m, parking, package delivery, parking, and washer and dryer in-unit. I typically ask about “noise” factor as I currently work partially from home, but also a concern otherwise. The first of two properties at the top of my list was very up front of which buildings to avoid, and those a distance from the pool which will be active in summer.

    I returned the next day to look again at the properties from exterior only. If the blinds were intact or broken, balconies used for sitting or storage/stuff, and what the state of the dumpster/refuse/recycling area.

    What other questions or areas should I ask about? I haven’t been in an apartment complex for ten years.

    1. fueled by coffee*

      I think you’ve got most of it! Depending on the weather in your geographic area, you might also ask about heating/air conditioning (do you control it, or does the building? If no A/C, do you need to provide your own window unit? Who pays for it? – note that it’s most common for you to have to pay for heat if you control it in-unit, but sometimes if heat is controlled by the building it will be included in rent or as a standard monthly fee. If you’ll pay your own heat, is it electric? Gas? This can affect how expensive it is).

      And when you’re doing a walkthrough in person, I like to check the corners for evidence of bugs/mice (because, ew), and make a note to myself about e.g. the smell of smoke/other unpleasant odors in the building (I’m a non-smoker – if this matters to you, you can also ask whether smoking is/isn’t allowed).

      Otherwise, though, I remind myself that while I would like to live there for a long time because moving is annoying, you really just need someplace that is ‘good enough’ for a year (or whatever the length of your lease). Figure out what your non-negotiables are, but beyond that, assume that if there is some issue with the apartment, you can always move again if you need to.

  10. Lucy Van Pelt*

    I really related to the person who wrote in this week about their dream job. I left what had been a dream field for something closely related that made sense at the time, and then, in small increments, got so far away from it that I miss it terribly.
    I am now applying for a job back in the field. The application has several “tell me about a time when…” questions. All of my best stories and most relevant examples are at least 15 years old. The questions ask about generic skills like successful teamwork and persuasive communication, so I will be able to cite some examples from my more recent work, but I will then also have to make the case about how they are transferable to Dream Field.
    How do I highlight my experience without sounding like Rip Van Winkle waking up after a long nap? In my cover letter, how do I explain why I want this job without getting into the regrets I have about leaving in the first place?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I wouldn’t work so hard to avoid talking about those regrets, to be honest. Someone who worked in a field, left it, and wants to come back can be a huge asset. I’ve had some twists and turns in my career and when I was able to get back to my preferred field, it helped enormously to talk about what I missed and why I was applying for jobs that would bring me back. It’s also ok to talk about things that happened several years/jobs ago. You shouldn’t hide your relevant experience just because it’s a little older. Sure, try to use recent examples when you can, but it sounds like you’re trying to shove square pegs into round holes when you have plenty of round pegs that will work much better.

    2. birder in the backyard*

      You may want to look up advice and guidance for folks who are “re-entering” the workforce after a significant hiatus. This was my situation after doing online contract work, consulting, and volunteering for the 12 years while raising kids/eldercare (anybody want a sandwich generation?). It’s a mix of highlighting that you are eager to go toward the new opportunity, your previous roles in the field, the way you amended your skills during your most recent work or time away, and how you envision that mix being an asset as you return to the field. In my experience, it’s about being willing to start back in at a somewhat lower level than you feel qualified for and working your way back through the ranks to a position that matches your skills.

    3. Hillary*

      Try to frame it around the reasons you want to go back. It’s not your regrets about the decision you made then, it’s the things you miss plus the applicable skills you’ve learned while away.

      After fifteen years in farm administration, I’ve realized my true passion is llama grooming. I miss the hands-on work and I’m excited to spend my days in the barn again. I know the organizational skills I learned in administration will translate to more efficient feed management and scheduling systems.

  11. Courageous cat*

    I have worked myself up into a near-panic attack regarding my unemployment, and of course I can’t call until tomorrow. I could use some optimism.

    So I was laid off 2 months ago, and am receiving unemployment. My understanding from the unemployment office is this: I can’t turn any SUITABLE job offers down, at least not without a good reason. I did have a job offer recently – I turned it down because it required too much travel (3-4 weeks gone right at the outset) and they wanted me to work over 40-50 hours. From what I gather, something like these could be considered suitable reasons.

    So I filed my weekly unemployment last week, and when it asked if I had been offered any work as it always does, this time I clicked “yes”. I expected that it would trigger additional follow-up questions, or some sort of internal investigation or note to call me and find out what happened. Like I said, I am not explictly forbidden from turning down jobs.

    I was out of town so I didn’t call them afterward, figuring they’d reach out to me once they needed to to get more clarification. Surely they wouldn’t just see “yes” and then turn it all off. They were very opaque about what needed to happen at that stage anyway. I screwed up on that, clearly.

    I checked yesterday once I got back in town, and my unemployment is 100% completely cut off. Not even “payments on pause, here’s a claim determination, you have this many days to appeal it” – my account just says “here’s where to apply for unemployment!” now. And simply that my last payment could not be paid out.

    I can’t afford to live without that extra income so I am, of course, freaking out. Has anyone had this happen to them? Any advice? Any hope? I am of course going to call tomorrow and tell them *why* I turned down the job, but considering they completely cancelled it rather than just like, pausing payments, I am very concerned they’re going to tell me I’m a moron and obviously they aren’t going to reinstate it.

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Did you check for/find any missed calls or EMs that might have been from the unemployment office?

      If not, sounds like you were expected to deduce you must call them in advance.
      Unless they are callous nit-picking swine, they should reinstate after you explain tomorrow.

      1. Courageous cat*

        I hope hope hope you are right that it’s possible for them to reinstate. No missed calls or VMs, and my voicemail is relatively empty. Sigh.

        Last time there was an issue they just sent out a letter saying “here’s our decision, here’s how you can appeal it” and I guess I had expected something like that this time as well.

    2. I'm fabulous!*

      Maybe explain to them about the travel aspect of this job, that you’re unable to do so? It seems from my experience that unemployment is set up where you’re expectable to accept/take work regardless of what it is? Or can you take something part-time that shows you are working?

      1. Courageous cat*

        No, you are not expected to take it regardless of what it is. Definitely calling them tomorrow to explain that. My concern is that they won’t reinstate it anyway because it’s too late or something.

    3. WellRed*

      I wouldn’t automatically assume they shut it off for this reason. It could be a glitch in the system as state UI offices are notoriously clunky. And in the future, always answer no. It’s not like they are ever gonna know.

      1. Courageous cat*

        Well, during orientation I was told there was some sort of database in which employers put information about the offers they send out, that the unemployment office can reference. Considering it was an official offer sent through ADP from a global company, I figured it was likely that would be the case here.

        They also say that lying on any aspect of your unemployment is fraud, punishable by losing access to unemployment forever/jail/etc, and I’m a rule-follower when it comes to that stuff. As I think a lot of people probably would be.

        1. WellRed*

          You didn’t lie, it wasn’t an acceptable job for you. Are you in the US? I’ve never heard of any sort of database employers feed job offers into. How would that even work? Fingers crossed for you. Even when you do everything perfect, dealing with unemployment is nerve wracking.

          1. Courageous cat*

            Thank you for the crossed fingers. And yes I am! I don’t know personally, but I’ve been told it numerous times. I’d like to think it’s wrong, but honestly not sure.

            Someone else on a different forum, who used to work for unemployment in another state, said the same thing:

            “The (very, very thin) silver lining is that companies report when they offered you a job and you turned it down, so they most likely would have found out anyway if you weren’t honest about the offer and they would have required repayment of any benefits you got in the meantime, which is not fun.”

            1. nnn*

              I’ve never heard of anything like this and we’ve never reported our offers. Who would we even report them to? This is not a practice in the US.

              1. I Play One on TV*

                Yes, it is. Employers are asked to report when someone turns down an offer. Not all employers do this in practice, but when the labor market is tight it can and does happen.
                This used to happen on paper, with the information being faxed or mailed to the state unemployment office, where staff, if/when they had time, compared names/addresses (and only names/addresses, since employers don’t usually get a social security number from someone who turns down a job).
                But state unemployment offices are learning to use these nifty newfangled thingies called computers to gather data from employers, in addition to those on unemployment. Employers are asked to provide info about people who turn down jobs. Some do and some don’t. Some employers seem to delight in reporting every single person who turns down a job, while others can’t be bothered. And not everyone who turns down a job is on unemployment, so there can be a lot of useless information reported this way.
                But the UC office can (and, more importantly, does) compare this information if they have it.
                In cases of fraud, in addition to paying back the benefits you received, you have to pay penalties and interest. And they can take that money out of subsequent unemployment filings.

      2. Courageous cat*

        That said I absolutely hope you’re right, it would just be awfully coincidental timing.

    4. one of the meg murrys*

      That all sounds understandably nerve-racking, ugh! I’m guessing it will be fine once you can get through to a person and explain. I don’t have recent experience collecting unemployment, but state govt stuff is often really rigid and poorly designed, and it sounds like you ran into a gap in the logic. When you get through, I would emphasize that the offer was totally impractical for you (with reasons) and describe misfit/problem in simple stark terms, e. g., “large percentage of travel impossible because of family obligations/health” or “50 hours a week not workable and not standard in my field” or whatever. Emphasize that you are open to all suitable offers, that you want to follow the rules, and ask what to do next time to avoid repeating the loss of benefits: can they tell you what counts as suitable/ unsuitable, and how to answer the form correctly? if you get an unsuitable offer, can you just say “no offers” on the form? etc.

      I get anxious about stuff like this and I’m too honest/ detailed in some of these situations. It seems very unlikely that they can actually follow up with the employer to verify exactly what they offered you. don’t volunteer more information than you have to if it will muddy the waters. hope that helps! breathe and try to take your mind off this until you can get in touch with them.

      1. Courageous cat*

        Lol yes I am definitely too honest sometimes when I probably shouldn’t be, and this situation is teaching me that. Thank you for the commiseration and advice. I appreciate it.

      2. Liane*

        Call or go in, whichever way gets you to a person. In my experiences most of these people are genuinely interested in helping. But do not delay, you only have a limited time to appeal, like a month. Also have a book, phone games, etc. to occupy you while you are on hold/waiting in office because it will take time.

        If this doesn’t work, call the local office of your state legislator. (You can look them up online by district, usually on your state government website.) Their staffers help constituents deal with state agencies and are very good at it. The one time I did this, I got a call 2 days later, on the weekend(!!), from a UI higher-up who was desperate to Fix. It. Now! and did so.

    5. Cyndi*

      I just want to suggest that you should be cautious, when you call, about mentioning that you were out of town! I know when I’ve been on unemployment in my state, one of the things they asked every time I filed was “were you available and willing to work” or something to that effect, and if I admitted to being sick and/or out of town then I wasn’t considered eligible for benefits because I wouldn’t have been able to work on those days anyway.

      1. Courageous cat*

        Oh yes, thank you for mentioning that, I do not plan on saying that at all (even though it was Memorial Day weekend and hardly anyone was working anyway, haha).

    6. Mstr*

      Because there wasn’t space for clarification, I wonder if maybe the question’s intent was to ask if there were any suitable job offers (and unsuitable ones wouldn’t count)? Sometimes these things are as clear as mud.

    7. 653-CXK*

      During the 30 weeks I was on unemployment (and yes, I used all 30 weeks), I had to turn in employment sheets every week to my UI department with the jobs I applied for, interviewed, rejected, and jobs where I had no response. There was a part on those UI forms that stated whether you got hired for a job or not, even if it was temporary. If it was temporary and your assignment ended, you could return to receiving UI payments.

      It looks like your situation was accidental, where your unemployment department thought, “Good! You got a job!” when you hit “yes” and took you off the rolls before you could explain what happened. Most UI examiners will understand what you did (“I hit the ‘yes’ instead of ‘no’ button by accident, and here’s why [insert explanation here]”); the only twist is that they may ask other questions or go to the employer you turned down and ask them what happened. If UI agrees the job was a bad fit and you were right to turn it down, they’ll likely reinstate your unemployment.

    8. Lady_Lessa*

      While this won’t help you with your current question, my experiences may be helpful in the future. I was also concerned about turning down suitable jobs, so one I removed myself from consideration in my thank you note. (There were a number of red flags, including being a woman working for an Asian company.) Another time, CA has you report any income that you earned that week, and your next check would be reduced. I had agreed to work 1 or 2 days for a former boss, but did not trust his honesty. So I worked 1 day, but decided only to the Unemployment when I got the money. I wasn’t ever paid for my time.

      1. Courageous cat*

        Oh my god, I had to do that multiple times. I would come home from the interview, thank them, and immediately tell them I’m going to step out of the hiring process – because I was afraid they’d give me an offer, and they weren’t the right fit.

        THIS one, I had done the exact same thing, except she said “no problem, we understand – your offer is already on the way over to you from ADP so just hit ‘decline’ when you receive it”. Ughhhhhhhh. Honestly kind of screwed me over on that one.

      2. LilPinkSock*

        Can you clarify what you mean when you say that being a woman working for an Asian company is a red flag?

    9. I Play One on TV*

      The first work day of the week is usually a really bad day to call unemployment. Be prepared to wait on hold for a long time, and to deal with a lot of busy signals. If you want to give up close to the end of their working day, that’s the right time to call. Lots of people give up about 30 or 45 minutes before the call centers close. Don’t be one of them.
      Another option is to reach out to your state legislator’s office to see if they can intercede for you.
      Finally, your cut off was probably automatic. The computer saw the “yes” and did what it was programmed to do. A lot of those rules are set by federal law, so the system has to do it. But they do have rules about what qualifies as suitable work. Lawyers don’t have to take work as ski instructors, and there are rules about how long a commute is reasonable, for examples. So even though you did turn down a job, it looks to me like you did not turn down “suitable” work. (I am not, however, currently working as an unemployment examiner, and probably didn’t do it in your state anyway.) When I did, I’d have approved your benefits to be reinstated.
      When you do get to talk to someone, ask them what the rules are for suitable employment. They should be able to point you to the information to keep you from doing this again.

    10. HadToWork*

      Each time I was on unemployment turning down any job offer would automatically disqualify you from continuing to receive unemployment. It didn’t matter how unsuitable the offer was. So be prepared for the worst as it may happen.

    11. Another friendly neighborhood atheist*

      Have you reached out to your local state representative? Usually their office can act as a liaison between you and the unemployment office to help escalate your case. I’m really sorry; this is a really stressful situation.

  12. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

    Firefighter (Metaphorical), I just wanted to say thank you for the LinkedIn Learning links on communication and project management! My boss was out sick the second half of last week, so I doubt he’s had a chance to listen to them, but they’ve already been helpful to me from skimming the transcripts. One had specific, actionable advice on how to get him to delegate more, which is definitely something I’ve been encouraging him to do but haven’t come up with a concrete plan for.

    The good news is that in the meeting we had to talk about communication, he spontaneously volunteered that he either needs to suck it up and accept that it’s his job to have these kinds of conversations around expectations with his reports, or get a different job. As of the wake-up call he got a couple weeks ago, he *does* see that he has a problem and needs to solve it. I’m optimistic!

  13. Courageous cat*

    Unemployment concerns aside, I do have some job stuff in the pipeline still, hopefully. I have an in-person interview for a management position tomorrow (it was originally going to be virtual so hopefully it’s a good sign it’s now moved up to in-person – and also, wow, I greatly prefer in-person anyway).

    Another job I’m “the leading candidate for” has been working on making a decision for weeks now (big global company so somewhat expected I guess) and just emailed me Friday to say they’re revising the scope of the role a little, down from two sites to one, and that we’re on hold till mid-June.

    Kill me. Also wish me luck. Haha.

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Sounds promising, but must be trying your patience.
      Best of luck!

      1. Courageous cat*

        You are very correct!

        It seems mildly weird to do this if you have your leading candidate in mind, like you’d think they’d be worried about me giving up and finding another company (which is hopefully what may happen soon) and would keep me closer in the loop/give me a little further info.

  14. Anonymous Hippopotamus*

    I started a new position that seemed like an amazing opportunity and a big step up. When I got there, I quickly realized that the actual day to day duties of my job were grossly misrepresented. I am doing lower level work than I have in years. I understood there would be *some* of this type of work, but not that I would be responsible to do literally everything except for very basic admin tasks. I effectively have no staff to manage, despite being at an executive level. I am expected to work at a literally impossible pace, and I’ve been working late most nights as well as weekends to try to keep up, but nothing is ever good enough. My boss expressed his displeasure with my performance multiple times, but provided no training until I was already there for several months. He has no empathy, I’ve heard him blatantly lie on multiple occasions, disrespect our clients and suppliers, and blame everything on others while not acknowledging his mistakes in any way. He will berate people, and when you try to defend yourself, he essentially says that’s not a valid excuse and that you’re wrong, e.g., I didn’t realize that was my responsibility because I wasn’t provided any training on our processes until last week. Response, that’s the way that it’s done everywhere (very incorrect) and you really should know this by now. Interns catch on faster than you.

    Soooo I should run for the hills, right? Do I need to provide 2 weeks notice, or is this a toxic enough environment that I should leave the second I have another job lined up? Thankfully, I am well connected and my job is in high demand so it should be relatively quickly, although I may have to step down 1-2 levels and take a pay cut.

    I plan to delete all traces of anything linking me to this company because I don’t want any association with them. There would only be a 1-2 month gap on my resume. Is that OK to do in a situation like this?

    I am so distraught over the situation. Any other advice?

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Yes, it is totally okay to leave. Run, run now. If you can afford it, consider leaving now; this sounds like a position that could warp your sense of normal and/or harm your health.

      Also, none of this is your fault. The company is dysfunctional:
      *Advertised an executive level job the requiring you to do low level work
      *Expects you to read minds
      *The boss lies

      This isn’t a situation you could have predicted.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Exactly this.

        I took a job before OldExjob that was misrepresented to me, and I ended up doing someone else’s work 75% of the time, in a completely different area, with one of the worst coworkers I’ve ever had. I lasted two months before quitting that absolute hellhole. Left it off my resume completely.

    2. Courageous cat*

      I had a situation somewhat like this once. It took a toll on my mental health and after about 4 weeks, I just resigned. No two weeks notice.

      (Like, what would the point have even been? I was still in training! I would have been MORE of a burden on them if I kept working for 2 weeks, because there’s no point in training someone when they’re leaving. Clearly I will never understand why they were mad about that.)

      Anyway, like you, I deleted all traces of it, and have not had an issue with it or with future jobs. I’ve kind of blocked it from my mind.

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      MORE then okay. If I were you I’d email my resignation tomorrow, or if you have stuff there, go and get it, walk out, and then email.

      You don’t owe two weeks notice. You don’t owe them two HOURS notice. You wouldn’t be putting them on your resume or recommendations list anyway, and you’ve got a high demand skill set (which I would guess is what your horrid employer is jealous of and one of the many reasons he’s treating you so badly. If he can wear you down, you won’t leave! Not like the dozens of other people he has doubtless driven from his employ.)

      Spend the day getting your resume and cover letters in shape and start the job hunt process as soon as you can. This kind of toxic stew is only harder to escape the longer it goes on.

    4. Sunny days are better*

      Yeah – GET OUT!

      Look for a new job and give whatever notice you need. However – if you offer to start the new job in less time than would require giving two weeks notice, that might raise some eyebrows at the new place.

      I would just tell NewJob that you would be ready to start after giving your two week notice, and then you could just bail on the old job and take a short break to recharge your batteries.

      Not saying that you did any of this: But when you reflect on this job, were there any red flags that you ignored? I would gently suggest that you make sure that any new job will be a good fit and be sure that you don’t jump from the frying pan into the fire in your desperation to find something better.

      Hugs to you – nobody deserves this kind of treatment.

      1. Anonymous Hippopotamus*

        I appreciate your comment and have reflected greatly… I had 2 family members working in this company (granted, at a lower level) and was told it was a great opportunity. I met with the owner 3 times and had extended interviews I asked around the industry and had little to no feedback.

    5. cncx*

      Leave while you can still leave it off your cv! I stayed at my junior job 15 months and it affected my career and salary. They misrepresented this.

    6. Lizzzie (with the deaf cat)*

      Hi Anonymous, I worked at a company once that was bought out, we were all assured our jobs were safe; it was a lie. I was the last one left in the department and the new boss (specifically appointed to get rid of everyone, what a crappy job) arranged an interview for me with a colleague of his at a small foreign bank office, newly opened. I lasted two weeks, there was no work for me really, and the colleague seemed primarily interested in getting me to set up work processes that duplicated those from the first job, despite their irrelevance and the intellectual property theft aspects of it all.
      I can only assume I was in a state of shock, looking back, as after only a week I was feeling completely hopeless and helpless. Fortunately a friend was in town and we had lunch and I told him how things were, and he said “You know you can just leave, right?” The voice of sanity… I went back to work and gave notice and left that Friday, worked there two weeks in total. The bank just shrivelled up and disappeared as far as I know. I never listed it on any resume.
      So, you know you can just leave, right? It’s a con, a scam, a dishonest business, head for the door. Arrange lunch with a friend and just fail to go back to work. Send a resignation email if you prefer. Call in sick and then resign. Whatever you prefer! When I resigned, the (dodgy) manager said Is it for personal reasons? and I said “Yes” and that was it. Because personally, realising the workplace was Not Right, was enough reason to quit. But my friend’s question was the trigger, because I was stuck, unable to believe things were as weird as they seemed.
      So I hope some internet strangers saying the same thing to you will be a help: You know you can just leave, right?
      Best wishes to you!

  15. Introvert girl*

    My boss is on his way out due to an immense amount of complaints for mobbing.
    He’s not taking the high road.
    We need to tolerate him for a couple of weeks more.
    We’re all working from home. I started doing breathing exercises, but it’s not easy.
    What do you do to stay sane at work? Any suggestions?

    1. Wrench Turner*

      I try to stay far too busy to be involved in anything that’s not the task at hand, and then get the heck out when the whistle blows.

        1. Introvert girl*

          Mobbing, as a sociological term, means bullying of an individual by a group, in any context, such as a family, peer group, school, workplace, neighborhood, community, or online. When it occurs as physical and emotional abuse in the workplace, such as “ganging up” by co-workers, subordinates or superiors, to force someone out of the workplace through rumor, innuendo, intimidation, humiliation, discrediting, and isolation, it is also referred to as malicious, nonsexual, non-racial/racial, general harassment. (source: Wikipedia)

          1. allathian*

            Yes. The difference between mobbing and bullying in English is that bullying only requires one active participant, but mobbing requires at least two who gang up on the victim.

            Is your boss the only bully around or are there more?

    2. Jen (they or she pronouns please)*

      Make sure you can really disconnect from work after the work day is over. Make yourself a little calendar and count down days. Write things down, like in a journal. Unless you’re on (video) calls, he won’t be able to hear you, so feel free to tell the e-mails what you think of the person who sent them. Connect/meet with your coworkers without your boss, if you want to. Find a good friend/family member/etc who you can talk this through with. Good luck!

      1. Introvert girl*

        I’m working on the disconnecting thing. I go to the park after work, get an ice cream, have a nice walk in nature. But when morning comes, I dread the upcoming day.

    3. Hanani*

      Alison has recommended treating the situation like you’re an anthropologist – “hmmm, so this is how the species Manager terriblus responds to consequences, fascinating”

    4. What is even happening*

      Do the minimum, the ol’ work to rule, do what you’re paid for.
      For the other stuff just repeat to yourself “I just work here”.
      Don’t take the bait when he does another shenanigan.
      Remind yourself, he’s on his way out, he doesn’t matter.
      Any shenanigans, document, and report asap!

    5. Manta*

      Find your allies. “Immense amount of complaints” means that many others are going through the same thing and could probably use a friend who gets it.
      Check in on people even if it’s a quick message.
      “How ya doing with everything going on?” “Wtf was that email?!”

      I dealt with this. For me it was vital to keep myself from completely internalizing abuse.

    6. Mm*

      Adult coloring books for meetings where I’m not on camera. I actually get the large print ones because they don’t require much concentration. It helps keep some of my brain engaged so I don’t get too angry/frustrated.

  16. Wrench Turner*

    General question for the audience, have any of you made the purposeful transition from white-collar to blue-collar work, and how did that work out for you?

    I’m on my 2nd career and finding some of the cultural difference between office world and trades world a real challenge. I wouldn’t go back (if I had a time machine I’d have done this decades ago) but wow what an eye-opener. My goal is to open my own company some day and set a new precedent.

    1. Ally*

      I went from lawyer to nurse. I had to google if nursing is blue-collar but apparently it is!

      Anyway, I found nursing much more collaborative and had a much better team spirit. Everyone willing to teach and support new people. I was lucky in the ward I worked on, though, as bullying in hospitals can be horrible. And I’m in a country where Covid didn’t really hit hard, so that helps. But I found it much more focused on the work, and less on people’s egos.

      1. Wrench Turner*

        Nursing is 1000% blue-collar. It’s more difficult, demanding, dirtier and way more high-stakes than any greasy machine or nasty pipes I’ve ever worked on, or grumpy customer I’ve ever worked for.

        1. Gyne*

          Interesting. I don’t disagree (nursing is hard! Physically and intellectually demanding!) but it also requires at minimum a bachelor’s degree which I don’t typically think of as a “blue collar” thing.

          1. Clisby*

            As far as I know, in the US you still can become a registered nurse with a 2-year associate’s degree.

            1. AnonRN*

              Correct, at least in most states. Some will require a BSN within a certain period of time, and in some areas the lack of a bachelor’s degree will limit where you can work (I believe most of the NYC hospitals won’t hire you without one).

              I came from a performing arts/production background and have a BA in artsy stuff, but the production side of things is fairly hands-on (a different kind of blue-collar work in which you often need a degree to get into the field but will spend your days lugging equipment around, working counterweight fly systems, climbing catwalks, setting up truss…)

              Now I’m a nurse and I’d say nursing is a blue-collar niche all its own. In no small part it’s because the gender balance is different than most blue-collar jobs. Literally there are not a bunch of guys with tools on their belts, there are a bunch of women with pens in their pockets and always a roll of tape somewhere. Of course there are nurses of all genders but the workplace still skews female just like trades skew male.
              Also, we work with certain types of hazards and challenges (and the number of nurses with ruined backs is high!) but we are not usually working outdoors in all weather. Like, you’ll never get me to run a jackhammer all day long in the blazing sun or re-fit your steam pipes, but give me a delirious incontinent person who keeps trying to climb out of bed and that’s just a normal day (and would be someone else’s nightmare).

              I guess I think the hallmark of most blue-collar work is “well, it’s not going to fix itself, so let’s get to it.” This is definitely nursing as well as many trades, although the amount of autonomy/empowerment varies a lot. Working with nurses who take this approach is a pleasure: we do plenty of unpleasant tasks but we do them for important reasons.

      2. Melissa*

        I’m a nurse as well. Even though many of us have degrees etc, it is culturally blue collar for sure. Heavily unionized, for one thing. I LOVE it— partly because of the culture. For example, once you leave work, not only are you not expected to finish up work at home, you are explicitly forbidden to do so. For example, the medical records system we use is web-based, so I could log in from home. At times, I’ve been tempted to check on a patient or two when im not working. But I could be disciplined or even fired for doing so (due to patient privacy rules). So, if I’m off, I’m OFF.

        1. Ally*

          I’m not sure if nursing has the cultural issues wrench turner is referring to though? I think it’s quite specific.

          Wrench turner, would be interested in hearing more about what kind of cultural differences you’ve experienced.

    2. Jen (they or she pronouns please)*

      In august 2014, there was an open thread on this, in case it’s interesting for you. Hopefully the link goes through, I’ll send it in a reply to this.

    3. WestsideStory*

      Speaking as someone now on their 4th career, I had a brief foray from one tech exec job to another – got burnt out and spent 3 years in a variety of blue-collar jobs that spoke to my non-work passion, which is gardening and landscaping. This I believe is what made it work for me – I had a genuine interest in honing my skills and finding out what was new in the field. (Yes there are innovations and new tools even for gardeners). I enjoyed working outdoors and weather did not bother me, and I hit pretty fit as a result.
      My suggestion to you would be to find a “blue collar” job that aligns with your leisure interests. Another example is an old friend who got burnt out in the music industry and went off to Africa to build houses with Habitat for Humanity; he’d always had a keen interest in African music and came back with a depth of experiences and language skills – he’s now an exec with a respected music label that specializes in world music.
      I started at minimum wage with gardening and left the field with a salary $15K less that the the exec job I’d left. And currently working on a project that combines gardening AND tech. So again I think the key is finding something fun that compensates for the harder physical work and lower pay, it keeps you learning.

    4. I take tea*

      Just a small comment: I find it fascinating that these terms are still used, when I suppose the colour of your collar isn’t linked to your job anymore. Language is so fun!

      Good luck!

  17. Detective Rosa Diaz*

    Work question:

    I am currently interviewing for a new job. the (last round) interview is on Friday.
    then on Monday I have a one-on-one with my manager at current job – but a bigger deal, like every couple of months we do this 2-hour meeting. how do I handle that when I won’t have a signed offer letter by then but would expect to have an offer that week (if it goes well)? there’s a lot of history and tension but not sure if it matters.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Say nothing. Act as if you are not expecting any offer. Until/unless you have an offer in hand, you are still working at your current job. It’s a regular one-on-one. Now, it may help you to know that there’s a possibility you’re moving on, as in, you can be less personally invested in your current job– but that’s not something you can share. You attend the meeting and move forward as if you’re staying.

    2. Courageous cat*

      Handle it like normal. You don’t have an offer till you have an offer. There’s no reason to treat it any differently.

    3. Wrench Turner*

      Hypothetical jobs don’t matter, and all jobs are hypothetical until they’re definitely not. A good rule I try to follow is “Do your job like it’s your first day, until it’s your last day.” You have this job until you have accepted and done the paperwork for the next one. Tension and history are challenges to be sure, but you’re still here until you start there.

    4. Detective Rosa Diaz*

      Okay, everyone, that’s a very neat consensus! thank you all!
      I suppose I am just dreading it because 100% my boss will be very put off if I put in my notice unexpectedly [real thing that happened: she was also upset that my social transition and name change as a nonbinary person happened just as we had ordered new business cards – a 25-pack i think – by Old Name]. but it’s a her thing, and I agree I don’t want to jeopardize the current job by being honest too soon.

      1. Courageous cat*

        All bosses are put off when you put in your notice – and it’s frequently, if not almost always, unexpected! That’s totally unavoidable, it just is what it is unfortunately.

        You’ll feel much better once you’ve done it, but try not to worry about it until then.

      2. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

        I recently had an annual review with someone in this position — he knew at the time he would be resigning but wasn’t in a position to say anything. I would say that once all the pieces came together, I looked back on that meeting and things made more sense, but broadly it was fine. I assume my feedback was overall useful to him and we were both working with the information we had at the time.

        1. ildrummer*

          I’m going through this right now and want to add that nothing is set until you have a start date at your next job. I accepted a job, waited three weeks for a start date, and then the role was cut abruptly. This whole time, I’ve been working my current job as if I’m committed to the next two years of work and having feedback sessions with my boss as if I wasn’t going to leave shortly. You have to protect the job you have as much as the job you are working toward.

  18. how to look for work*

    60 yr old (F)scientist, with programming skills. Just laid off. Any advice? How to look for remote jobs? I’m probably not competitive for a straight-up dev position, but I’ve done scientific programming my whole career.

    1. Oysters and Gender Freedoms*

      I would look into data analysis or data science particularly in anything adjacent to your area of expertise, but anything really.

    2. Janeric*

      I might look at government work — there are often regulations that require modeling/programming but limited staff who understand it.

    3. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

      If you’re actually interested in a straight-up dev position, you may be more competitive than you think. Depending on salary requirements, how in-demand your technical skills are, and most of all, how motivated you are to self-teach on the job, you might find a hiring manager who’s willing to start you at a lower seniority level and see if you can move up quickly. Lateral moves are extremely common in this field.

    4. Rekha3.14*

      I’m on the soft skills side of genetics (I talk to people), but a ton of labs have need of the software side of things, and some of those positions could be remote. Depending on your science, this could be a place to look? bioinformatics, patient/clinician portal integration, full stack developers, etc. Genomics or healthcare start-ups.

      labs off the top of my head…. Blueprint/Quest, Fulgent, GeneDx, Natera, nextGen, myriad, CooperGenomics, Prevention/Exact Biosciences, revvity… or even suppliers, like ThermoFisher?

      Good luck with the search!

      1. Cedrus Libani*

        I’m a bioinformatician for one of the companies you listed. (100% computer-based, but not hiring remote, alas.) My job is a combination of “support of last resort” and computational methods development – when the bug report and/or feature request starts to shade into research project territory, it’s my team that handles that stuff. I’m not a developer; we have a software team that will step in as needed to re-write our prototype code and integrate it into our customer-facing GUI.

        Think about the sorts of data you’ve analyzed as part of your work. There’s a supplier out there that wants to sell the capacity to generate and analyze such data. They need subject matter experts who aren’t afraid to get down into the messiness of that data, whether it’s for immediate troubleshooting purposes or to find additional ways to use the technology in the future.

  19. Jen (they or she pronouns please)*

    This is not about memorial day (not in the US so that’s not a holiday here), but I wanted to send a short update and thank you for those who answered my question in a friday open thread a while ago (May 12th I think), where I asked about job shadowing. Again, thank you to everyone who answered then.
    The job shadowing itself went okay, the candidate was cleared to do some work if he wanted to by my boss. It was a quite busy day for me, even without someone shadowing.
    He had quite a bunch of questions, and I’ve tried to answer as honestly as possible since I was told by my boss that it’s better if the candidate knows what he’ll get into (though I didn’t know all the answers to the more logistical questions). The only limit I’ve had was that I shouldn’t mention personal data and if questions about working a second job besides came up, I shouldn’t say a final yes or no. Not that I’d ever have done that, I don’t have the authority to make that decision, but there is a bit of a disagreement in management on how to handle a few things, especially since many of my colleagues have tutored on their own before and might still have students.
    In the end, things didn’t work out sadly, so I don’t have a new coworker. I’m still unsure whether it was my fault somehow, as in the end there was no offer made, or if other things stopped the offer from being made. I know I did share feedback that was both negative and positive, but also said that in my opinion, nothing prohibitive happened.
    It was quite interesting to get to see what my boss thought during the hiring process, I’ve figured I could ask for a little more insight in what I could do and she took that to tell me about a few things she looks for in candidates. I’m not sure how much of that translates to other companies, but I’ll certainly keep things in mind for future applications.

  20. I'm fabulous!*

    I know that the past should remain in the past. But my past work mistakes continue to haunt me in getting work done and believing in myself and my career. Not sure how to move past them.

    1. Wrench Turner*

      All you can do is focus on the job here and now, with the skills you have here and now, and do the best you can every single day from start to finish. That’s it. Doesn’t matter how you used to do it, what matters is doing it now. So do your best and be confident in that!

    2. Gyne*

      Therapy and mindfulness training. Do I still rehash mistakes in my mind? Yes!!! But with time and practice you get better and acknowledging the thought and releasing it without spiraling.

    3. Not A Manager*

      Do they haunt you in a practical way, like people remember and you can’t live them down, or do they haunt you in a personal way, like they undermine your own confidence?

      For the latter, I find it helpful to really remind myself of what I learned from the mistakes. I’m not worse off internally after them, I’m better off, because before the mistake I hadn’t learned that lesson and after the mistake I had. I’m not going to do that thing again, and I’m not going to do anything thing-adjacent, either.

      If your anxiety is causing you to procrastinate or avoid certain tasks, you can try some realistic self-talk, like “if I do this task in a timely way I *might* make a mistake and that would suck, but if don’t do this task in a timely way I *know* there will be unacceptable consequences, so I’m going to buckle down right now.” You can also plan for extra time so as to avoid mistakes.

      In any event, the past is behind you and the future is ahead. You absolutely deserve not to get in the way of your own future. If this is really haunting you, it might help to speak to someone who can help you sort it.

        1. Jill Swinburne*

          Consider this: it’s a thing that happened in their past that (probably) doesn’t affect their present. In many cases, we wildly overestimate the lasting impact of silly things we do on other people. So unless your mistakes led to their company going bankrupt and them losing their house, it’s far more likely that it was an annoying phase in their career that they file along with other times work was a pain. Just because they might remember doesn’t mean they’ll remember it in the same visceral way you do.

          We all make mistakes. Reframe it as something you’ll absolutely never do again, apologise one last time if you ever come across them to close the loop (if it wouldn’t be weird) and remember that the impact of most things is finite. Your mistake is a blip.

          But I agree with what was said above – if it’s really haunting you to the point that you can’t move past it, talk to a professional about that.

    4. RagingADHD*

      I find it helpful to articulate (either on paper or talking to a trusted friend) what I learned from it, why I still feel badly about it, and what I’d do differently. It’s particularly helpful to articulate any fears it raises in me, like for example “Am I just too stupid for this job?” or “Will I ever be able to get promoted?”

      Because putting a name on the catastrophic thinking helps to put it in a container. Then I can take the plan of “what I would do differently” and apply it to those fears: “See, I learned something. That proves I’m not stupid. I am growing and learning to manage my emotions. That is going to help me advance in my work.”

    5. Cacofonix*

      I too have made a bunch of work mistakes – we all have, so you’re in good company. I’m a worrier about all these things too. Until one day a trusted mentor and work friend told me this: “If you didn’t feel this way about mistakes you made in the past, I wouldn’t be so confident about working with you. It’s what makes you learn from them and I’ve seen you grow because of it. If I could take away your anxiety about them away I would, but never your focus and ambition to do better. Because you’ve never made those mistakes again.”

      I’ve made completely new mistakes of course and got new anxieties over those. Just when you think you’ve learned everything about your work, more situations come along. But finally, I started getting feedback I was initially shocked by: “you’re always so good at mitigating risk and calm when things go sideways.” That will happen for you too.

      I wrote a different post about how it seemed my past work always seemed better in hindsight than what I’m working on now. Take a look at yours two or three projects or work outputs since that mistake you made but one that is done now. I’ll bet it’s amazing.

  21. “calling in” New Boss*

    TLDR: need scripts to call in New Boss after she tells a story about “driving through the ghetto… the projects” and later compares long hours to “slave labor.”

    Help me call in my new boss. We have a hybrid schedule, and on her first day we went out to lunch with the team that was in the office (all of us are white that were in the office that day). At lunch, she told a story about going to nearby Big City for a concert, and how she was worried about her safety driving “through the ghetto… through the projects.” There’s a way to talk about the tragedy and shamefulness of redlining/ongoing income inequality that causes hopelessness and violence… this wasn’t that. My usual go-to is to cheerfully say “oh, I don’t think we say___ anymore” but I wasn’t sure I could explain “why we don’t say this anymore” in the moment, and resolved to research exactly why so that I could explain it to her.

    But the next day… we were talking about how many hours some people work in unaffiliated offices (not like, somewhere with dangerous working conditions/oppression) and she said of the low wages and long hours, “it’s like slave labor.” And I went “WEEEELLLLLLLL” and she said something like “okay, it’s not.”

    I need some scripts! I can’t control what she thinks, but I want her to stop saying these things to me and to any of our co-workers.

    1. ErgoBun*

      Don’t make it about her being wrong. Try “I’m not OK with that phrase/word” or “That doesn’t sit right with me, could we use X instead.”

      Be prepared for her to over-exaggerate “Oh OOOOOOPS I’m not supposed to say that around OP!” Be prepared for her to make a stink about what she is and isn’t “allowed” to say. You can respond with “Thank you for respecting my comfort.” Even if she obviously is not respecting you and your comfort, you may quietly shut down the performative “correctness”.

    2. Observer*

      she said of the low wages and long hours, “it’s like slave labor.” And I went “WEEEELLLLLLLL” and she said something like “okay, it’s not.”

      That tells me that she can hear stuff, although who knows if it will actually change her thinking.

      On the ghetto thing, I don’t have good advice for you because I have a different issue with that term. I realize that the usage of the term has shifted. But for some of us, the original meaning still resonates because it’s not distant history.

    3. Texan In Exile*

      I worked with a group that was expressing concern about eating in a certain Milwaukee neighborhood. They all lived way out in the suburbs and I got annoyed at their attitudes.

      When I got to the restaurant, there were little kids riding their bikes on the sidewalk. I took a photo and texted it to some of the team. “Is this the neighborhood you’re worried about?” I asked.


    4. JSPA*

      I sometimes go with a statement, then silence.

      “The projects are not what you think they are.”

      “I’ve always felt comfortable there.”

      “it may be more about expectations than actual risk, as I’ve always felt welcome in [area].”

      But if you’re just as uncomfortable being there, but just want to weigh in on language, then instead:

      “That language leaves me feeling like there’s no good will to break down the “us / them” mentality, when in fact I was hoping to do outreach in the area, and had hoped you might even have some good contacts.”

  22. Diatryma*

    A couple weeks ago, someone asked about Bright Horizons as a backup childcare option. New data point from me: we have managed an additional two kid-days with ten days’ notice. I still think it’s most useful as a scheduled backup, as it is now, rather than as an emergency backup, but when they don’t come through for an emergency they do pay us, which is nice.

  23. Cacofonix*

    Has anyone felt that some of your best work was behind you? I’ve been clearing out my office, so it’s top of mind, but whenever I’m working on a project, or mentor someone in my profession, I reach back to previous relevant work and leverage it as I’m sure we all do.

    Almost every time I’m struck at how good it was and how my work now seems not up to the same level. I even remember thinking this 2 projects ago, and now that project is behind me, I look back and am pretty impressed with myself with the deliverables. Maybe it’s the struggle of getting through thorny issues, but whoa, I’m shredding and archiving a ton of documents that represent work I’m proud of. Even having done lessons learned and sharing my knowledge, the reality is all that is going to be dust.

    1. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

      Yeah, I fear that. But then I remember that there are some pretty valid reasons why I haven’t been at the top of my game for a bit, and I try to come up with hope that I’ll wind up back in the pink eventually. Life happens, and sometimes, I guess, I’m in a bit of a lull.

  24. Janeric*

    I’ve read a few things about how people new to the workforce have trouble understanding file locations on personal computers vs shared drives vs online editors — and I think this might be a cryptic cause of some issues I’m having with a coworker. Does anyone know of good resources to explain the variation?

    (Honestly a lot of the issue might be the specific way our office uses these tools, which seems intuitive to me but may not be.)

    1. Thunder Kitten*

      following to see if anyone has good resources.
      the simplest thing would be to turn off the internet and see what is still working.

      1. Ally*

        Following as well! I am currently trying to understand my new work laptop’s structure regarding this!!

    2. InternSupervisor*

      Could you start with your own basic cheat sheet of expectations of where to save things depending on what it is? I’ve had this same issue with staff and finally just said to save everything in one shared place, which is easiest anyway because all our work is collaborative or I’d at least need to be able to see it eventually.

    3. Llama Llama*

      For any new person I have, I explain the locations we save documentation and the type of documents we save for each. Maybe because my company has a clear cut reason why we use each that people haven’t had trouble after I explained.

  25. Soon to be CEO*

    I sent this to Alison over 6 weeks ago and it hasn’t been featured, so I hope it’s ok to repost here to ask for advice.
    I have been with my company for 9 years, working my way up from entry level to COO. I am not in the US.
    I’m now being offered a promotion to CEO (a new position), and I’ve been told I’ll be involved in coming up with what my remuneration package looks like. The problem is, I have no idea what it could look like, so I don’t know what to ask for. I believe part of the package will be a share of profits, currently split between the 3 owner founders.
    What should I consider in how to negotiate this so I don’t seem unrealistic in my requests, but don’t leave money on the table? What sort of things should I consider? There is minimal pay transparency in my industry / location, so researching similar roles doesn’t really help me.

    1. Sunny days are better*


      You are a million times higher than me on the work food-chain, but might it be possible to reach out to some other CEOs in your industry and maybe meet for coffee or something to pick their brains?

      Perhaps you could mention what you are thinking about asking for and getting their feedback?

    2. Bugalugs*

      I would say if it’s a share in profits you’ll want reporting as to what that has been historically and you can factor your salary around that. You’ll also want to look at vacation time and benefits. Check with other CEO types in whatever country you’re in and see if they can give you an idea of what you’re looking at but really without knowing your country it’s hard to give any more guidance than that.

  26. ThatGirl*

    Funny thing. I work in marketing, in house at a manufacturing co. We have a few openings in my dept right now, including one on my team. A friend/former coworker applied for the job on my team. Found out today that an acquaintance of mine also applied for that job, and is probably going to apply for another open position, with my name as a referral. It would be really funny to me if they both got hired, but selfishly I’d rather have the friend get the job on my team.

  27. the bean moves on*

    some advice please! I’m looking to apply to a job, but I’m also going to be without internet access soon after I apply for a week. my resume is ready, im ready and there is no risk of the job closing before i come back, should i risk it or just be patient.

    1. Janeric*

      Risk it! Put an away message if you can, otherwise have a second contact option that will lead to someone with internet access who can be like “the bean has limited internet access for a couple of days, can they contact you on X?”

      1. Indubitably Delicious*

        I’d put an out of office type message on the email you use as a contact, and maybe on your voicemail as well. Just to cover your bases.

  28. orion70*

    Part rant but also for feedback. I think some would agree the a lot of “team-building” or “mandatory fun” workplace activity was anywhere from unwelcome to occasionally near a nightmare for some employees even prior to Covid. But I’d have thought that the pandemic might have changed a few things about how such workplace activities are approached, particularly as a lot of workshops, training etc has moved virtual and so on.

    Being expected to cram into a meeting room with likely no ventilation, certainly no masks or spacing in all likelihood, under the guise of “workplace wellness” seems kind of backwards to me. There is no virtual option.

    1. Janeric*

      That is the worst. The IRONY!

      I am a weird person and I’ve been known to haul around a Corsi-Rosenthal box (one of the smaller versions) to meetings like that. And mask, of course.

    2. Sunny days are better*

      I had to deal with something like this and I was truly traumatized by it. It was a multi-day convention with many hundreds of people and tiny breakout rooms sitting shoulder to shoulder.

      I think I saw a grand total of seven people wearing masks.

      All I could do was wear my N95 mask and not given a fig newton about what anyone thought about me, and went outside as often as possible for breaks. When it was time to eat, I got my food and hid somewhere by myself to eat.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Well, if you’re in an area where all other business practices have gone back to pre-pandemic norms, I’m not sure why you’d expect this to be different. Masking and distancing were never intended to be permanent social changes, and most people who were totally willing to follow special protocols during a long-term health crisis are not willing to continue following them for months and years after all public health authorities – and recently even the WHO – declared the state of emergency to be ended.

      We have a new endemic disease in the pantheon of endemic diseases -some of them quite serious- that have always been there.

      I’d be happy if we just wound up with more people washing their hands.

      1. OpalescentTreeShark*

        If any of you all have kids, especially older kids, they’re getting this type of exposure on a daily basis…

      2. Lady Danbury*

        Covid is not endemic. Even when the WHO declared that the global health emergency had ended, they declared that it was still a global health threat and that countries should remain vigilant. It also explicitly stated that the pandemic isn’t over. Obviously there’s lots of confusing messaging and misinformation out there, intentionally so because many people want to simply move on and pretend that it’s no longer a threat, including those with decisionmaking power. But simply ignoring it or willing it away doesn’t make it go away, we just have far less information to track it (once again, intentionally). We’re still very much in a long term health crisis, but it’s become almost an invisible crisis because of how the messaging has changed, even amongst many healthcare professionals.

        TLDR: The pandemic isn’t over just because we’re over it.

  29. Bitter sweet*

    I am going to hand in my notice tomorrow after accepting an offer at a competitor, and looking for thoughts on how bad it might go, and how to minimise the pain… and, will my employers get angry and think me ungrateful?!


    I am a consultant in a mission driven sector. There is a lot of work and high burn out rates.

    I joined the company nearly 3 years ago to help build a particular area they were quite new to. I do ok- I bring in a lot of work through recommendations, good proposals etc. However, a lot of my projects get delayed. IMO, this is 99% due to bad management. If I need something that is very much in ‘senior management’ territory, no matter how urgent and high stakes, it takes weeks and weeks to get done, with no communication in the meantime. To get things done, I have had to take on big stuff (e.g., legal stuff) with no training or expertise.

    Expectations are also unclear, and despite there being minimal support and delays out of junior staff’s control, you are still held accountable, and can face an avalanche of negative criticism at the end because it doesn’t meet expectations that weren’t communicated in the first place. I kind of fell out with one boss because of this- he was hands off (and actively disruptive) on a project until the end when he laid into the work I’d done (despite, overall, it going above and beyond). A few weeks later he repeated some key recommendations from my work back to me and expected me to be excited for ‘his’ great ideas. I became cool but polite in my attitide, he started cutting me out and undermining my contributions at any opportunity. This is a gut punch every time, however much I try to ignore it.

    A while ago, I applied for promotion because my responsibilities have increased, and by formal criteria, I am working at the level above. I was told I need to run more projects to get it, but the number provided was unfeasible for this newer type of work. I did it anyway and am now burned out. When I spoke to my boss about the expectations, they told me I had misunderstood… but I can’t see how that is possible, given the request was so specific. That took even more wind out of my sails.

    I was also underpaid for quite some time, but coincidentally got a pay rise on the same day my offer came through, but no backpay.

    Generally, I feel unsupported and undervalued.

    Some of this could be improved by better upwards management, but I am burned out and unwell (my heart races at full cardio pace for hours on end when things are particularly stressful), and I’ve lost goodwill to my employer.

    So I started job searching about a month ago.

    It turned out that a competitor who offered me a job last year (which I declined as I wasn’t job searching and wanted to improve things at current job) were still interested. They seem great- much more my kinda thing- so this time I accepted.

    However- 1. I have a non-compete and they might walk me out the door tomorrow; 2. Things are mad busy at my current job and I have a lot of work that needs to be handed over and/or completed if I’m not walked out, and people will get very stressed with taking on my work. 3. I was granted some training which costs money before I started job searching, and I have several work trips coming up, one of which is at employer’s expense and probably can’t be refunded. I think* my employer will be mad because of the training and travel, and recent pay rise. I follow AAM advice and continue at my current job as though I am not looking for a new job, but I ended up finding a job pretty quickly in the end.

    What to do?! What to say?! Do I seem ungrateful? It’s a business transaction, not personal, sure, but employers still end up feeling betrayed and hurt! I am really anxious about how it might go… whether they ask me to leave or not, if they ask me to pay back training costs… whatever happens, the coming few days are going to be … aaaahh.

    1. QM*

      I’m currently interviewing for a role where their internal recruiter reached out to me multiple times to get me to apply (I hate my current job and I am actively looking but this job did seem like a lot of responsibility still and I’m so burnt out) and I’m used to the traditional way of things – applying directly + including cover letter, sending thank you emails to interviewers after, waiting at least a few days between each interview to hear back. This has been different because I didn’t submit a cover letter even though it was optional, got an invite for a phone interview right away, after that interview I got an invite to the next round right away and the company is big enough that I’m mostly emailing with the assistant of the hiring manager or the recruiter, and I don’t even have the email of the hiring manager (their email conventions don’t seem to have a pattern based on who I have gotten emails from) to have sent them a thank you before I’d already received an email from the recruiter about steps for the next round.

      TL;DR – Have you ever moved through interview rounds so quickly and where communication is with multiple different people that you don’t even have time to send thank you’s and if you’ve been on the other side, does that count against the candidate when you know they’ve been recruited and the process is moving quickly to do all the traditional stuff candidates might do after each round?

    2. Indubitably Delicious*

      Some thoughts/reframing: 1) Most noncompetes are unenforceable from what I understand. 2) I think they would have had to notify you if the training would need to be reimbursed, in the employee handbook or on their website/intranet if nothing else. 3) If they don’t have a succession/departure planning procedure, that’s on them.

      4) What is the worst possible scenario, and would that change your decision or your actions in any way? To me it seems like the worst possible situation is that they try to claw back the training costs, that they make your last two weeks uncomfortable because they aren’t appropriately managing their emotional responses, and/or that you might feel temporarily guilty for not being able to manage the best handover possible. Those sound to me like largely temporary problems, most of which you can manage with polite nonresponses. And then — freedom!

    3. WellRed*

      The current job is treating you like sht. If they ask you to leave immediately what’s the worst that could happen For You? As to whether things get left undone, that’s business and no matter how indispensable we all think we are, the work will get done (or it won’t but then it isn’t your problem).

      1. WestsideStory*

        Seconding this. Trust me, they WILL take it badly and one possible answer to that is: “Would you prefer then that I leave today?”

        Act in your own best interest. You owe them nothing, they got their moneys worth out of you. Be prepared to leave.
        Some thoughts on giving your notice tomorrow: if you are in US, and your job pays part or all of your insurance, wait past the 1st of the month so if you have to leave same day, you will have coverage for all of June. If that’s not a concern, make plans to throw yourself a little celebration on whatever is your last day.

    4. Random Academic Cog*

      Unless you have a contract stating you are responsible for some type of training expenses if you leave, I find it unlikely they will even ask, much less be able to enforce repayment. If the upcoming training would still be beneficial (depending on how close the new job is in responsibility), you might be able to talk with your new employer about covering the costs.

      The rest of it is just not your problem. Your old employer will figure it out. The fact that everyone who will be part of taking over is also overwhelmed with too much work is, again, the company’s problem to sort. Those employees can do the same thing you did and look for a job where they are appreciated and treated well.

      Take a deep breath, turn in your notice, and handle whatever comes next as it happens. There’s only so much you can do or plan for in this case. And then you’re going to walk away. If they are abusive in any way, walk away. If they try to “insist” you do a ton of work before you leave, walk away. They have no power over you any longer. Good luck.

    5. Observer*

      I have a non-compete and they might walk me out the door tomorrow;

      The two things are unrelated.

      Check your non-compete and see if they actually can keep you from taking this job. If you are allowed to take then they can yell all they want.

      What’s the worst that can happen if they walk you out the door? Do yourself a favor and take anything that belongs to you out of the office before you give notice. But after that? Unless you have a hard start date before which you cannot start the new job and you absolutely need your full salary (rather than whatever Unemployment Insurance will give you for that gap), why do you care if they walk you out the door?

      Things are mad busy at my current job and I have a lot of work that needs to be handed over and/or completed if I’m not walked out, and people will get very stressed with taking on my work.

      That’s not your problem anymore. Do the handover as best you can, and put it behind you. You can’t put yourself on fire to keep people warm.

      employers still end up feeling betrayed and hurt!

      That’s their problem. Especially since they haven’t done much to keep your loyalty.

      if they ask me to pay back training costs

      Give a look at the policies around training costs and anything you may have signed. If you didn’t sign anything, and there is nothing explicit in the policies you have about training cost repayment, they can ask all they want but you don’t have to pay.

    6. coffee*

      I would be reminding myself that they have not looked after you, you are only doing the inevitable thing that happens to a business (staff will resign or retire! this is entirely within their ability to predict! particularly when they are being bastards to you!), and at the end of the day you get to be free (as Indubitably Delicious said!). Whatever happens will be over soon and you can sail out the door with a smile on your face.

  30. Liane*

    One of my hobbies is 3D art, mostly fantasy, SF, and cyberpunk scenes. Many are character portraits for roleplaying games. Recently a couple friends suggested I start a Patreon for such portraits for some extra money.
    I don’t expect this would make me much, but the idea interests me.
    Does anyone have advice or is able to point me to resources?

    1. Janeric*

      I see a lot of this on tumblr, which might not mean it’s a viable model — but I think an afternoon of uploading art and a couple of strategic Blazes might let you know if there is a market.

  31. Mimmy*

    Can anyone recommend free or low-cost resources for understanding basic web design? I mentioned last week that I was interested in accessibility in postsecondary education and found some courses on web accessibility. However, they recommend being familiar with HTML, which I know nothing about other than the basic formatting tags used here at AAM.

    I’m not looking to be a full-blown website developer; I’m just looking for a basic understanding of how websites and Learning Management Systems (I assume those are like websites?) are developed so that I have an idea of some of the barriers that students with disabilities encounter.

    1. Mimmy*

      I should add that I am familiar with general web accessibility guidelines. Also, my special area of interest is students with sensory disabilities (I currently work with adults who are blind or have low vision).

      1. Just here for the scripts*

        Not sure if this is allowed, but has 14 courses in a folder called digital accessibility…from “introduction…” to “using screen readers,” to “what’s the issue + how to fix it” for the top accessibility errors (formatting, color contrast, alt text,), to manual testing and automated testing.

        They’re not expensive ($4-$5 a piece) easy to understand. They run from 13-28 minutes.

    2. Alex*

      w3schools dot com is awesome. Very simple explanations with interactive exercises to show you how it works. You can hunt and pick for exactly what you are looking for, or go through the whole thing like a course.

      1. Caramel & Cheddar*

        Seconding W3Schools, which has been a straightforward staple for decades now and has a “try it yourself” section on every page.

    3. Caramel & Cheddar*

      Learning management systems are typically software that companies can use to manage onboarding/training of their staff and/or volunteers. If you’ve ever worked somewhere that had any kind of online learning component, e.g. a health and safety video that you can’t fast forward that had a quiz embedded in it, you’ve probably used an LMS. For students, I think these are communal spaces where they can log in and collaborate with other students, write on class message boards, check out their grades, etc. Most of them are web-based at this point, though I’m sure there are some where you still have to download an application to your computer.

      Alex mentioned W3Schools, but once you’ve got a handle on that you may also want to look into ARIA and HTML. I think that would probably be covered in the web accessibility classes, but ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) is the framework for accessibility online and there will be lots of websites out there that can show you examples of what a (poorly coded) HTML page looks like vs one that takes ARIA into consideration looks like and it can be helpful to compare and contrast the two.

      1. Mimmy*

        Thank you so much! I used Blackboard when I was pursuing my recent Master’s degree, so I am familiar with Learning Management Systems–I just never understood if they were just a type of interactive, multimedia website. I didn’t have to download any special software though it was also available as a mobile app.

    4. AccessibilityIsRelative*

      As someone who’s legally blind be aware that a lot of the legal guidelines are designed for people who use screen readers and “accessible” sites/apps can still be extremely difficult for those who don’t. Some issues include:

      – Assuming a minimum screen resolution higher than they use
      – Hard coding fonts/font sizes and not letting user settings override them
      – hard coding minimum sizes or placements for some UI elements so they end up off screen or overlapping

      and many more.

  32. Delta Delta*

    I live in New England and for Memorial Day foods so far I’ve already had a whole bunch of oysters, some squid, a lobster roll, and an ice cream sandwich. Happy unofficial first day of summer and summer foods!

    1. KR*

      Oh I am so jealous of you. I miss New England seafood. I had lots of islander food – mac salad, musubi, egg rolls, fried rice. It was all very delicious but I would love a couple pounds of steamers right about now.

  33. Courageous cat*

    Do you guys think cover letters are dying?

    I haven’t submitted a cover letter in months, and I’ve gotten dozens of interviews regardless (since I was laid off in March). I don’t work in tech or anything where I’ve heard that that’s common, so I dunno.

    But I feel like, more and more, people really just care about your resume/experience (and less about how sophisticated your writing/persuasive abilities are).

    1. I should really pick a name*

      A lot of times they’re not a requirement, but they can be helpful.

      Unless they ask for one, it’s never been a case where no cover letter means no job, it’s just that a cover letter might increase your chances.

      1. InternSupervisor*

        To add to that, it helps especially when you’re applying to roles where it’s not easy to see how past roles translate to this one. It’s your chance to make the case.

        1. Elle*

          I’m hiring now and have passed on several resumes where it wasn’t clear why they were applying. They had too much experience or completely different experience than what I was looking for. Since they came through indeed and LinkedIn it seemed like people were applying to anything. A cover letter would have explained things and might have led to an interview.

          1. InternSupervisor*

            I’ve come across that a lot too. I’m open to a lot of experiences if they just say why they want it or how they think it fits. Definitely a good filter out of the ones applying to anything or applying without looking carefully at the description.

    2. Prospect Gone Bad*

      No. I rely on Reddit too much for work topics these days (open to other suggestions besides that and open threads here). There is a strong, very strong campaign of sorts by mostly younger people to say how “useless” they are and how they don’t say anything. to me, the vehement anti-cover letter stances are downright bizarre. Is it really that hard to write five sentences about why you are a good fit for a job? really?

      I feel like all of these applicants are shooting themselves in the foot and too many people arguing their preferences are the objectively better way instead of just being preferences.

      To answer your question, they are not dying. In my hiring experience, applicants tend to greatly underestimate how generic their experience is. Even if you have very niche experience, there will be a handful of other resumes like yours. You need to tie your resume to the specific job and company and say something beyond the bullet points in your resume.

      This also ties into the fact that most resumes are not perfect and leave a few questions unanswered. So if you’re going to brave the job market without a cover letter, make sure every line item on your resume is spot-on. After reviewing enough resumes, I find most either focus too much on the routine/admin tasks, while others seem to throw in outrageous sounding accomplishments with no context. For example, “saved $5M by implementing new filing process” leaving you wondering if the person actually saved that amount, or if the company was just horribly wasteful and they did save it, but that doesn’t make it a meaningful accomplishment, or whether it was a huge team project and the applicant only did a tiny part. Stuff like that.

      1. Spearmint*

        Well a good cover letter is much more than five sentences. And a conversational and tailored document. It takes an hour or two to really write a high quality custom letter, in my experience, which dramatically increases the time it takes to apply. It’s really burdensome, especially when you’re entry level and may only get callbacks from 1 in 10 jobs you apply for.

        I say this as someone whose cover letter helped them get an interview for my most recent job, by the way.

      2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        It’s because to get a job you must apply to way more places than you might have been used to in the old days. So if you take an extra 30 minutes out for each that’s a big burden. especially if you know people don’t read them.

    3. Voluptuousfire*

      Even though I consider myself an Alison devotee, I only write a cover letter once in a blue moon, usually for a job that sounds really interesting and requires it.

      IME, cover letters matter not a whit. I think once time a cover letter I wrote (that was required) for me got me an interview. Even using my own boilerplate templates, I spend way too much time on them, worrying if my writing is relaying my experience properly.

    4. orion70*

      I miss the days when a cover letter + resume was the application. A few jobs I’ve applied for or even thought about applying for, seem to come with multi-pages long “give examples of how you did this thing, who, why, what, where, when etc etc” It’s like having to write several essays on one application just to get a look in.

    5. RagingADHD*

      I see more than half the roles I apply for have them as optional, but very few required. But the roles I apply to are very big on communication and writing skills.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Same here. I’m applying to business admin without the receptionist duties, but cover letters are great for me as neurodivergent having to cover both a big gap in my CV and a longer-than-planned stay at my current low end job. I found it daunting at first, but when a few roles started coming up where the cover letter effectively wrote itself and those applications at least got responses, I was much happier spending the time to compose one and much more confident that it gets me results.

        I do way better in temp to perm where I can show my skills immediately, but in the UK in particular where notice periods are a month to start off with, quitting to throw myself back into that maelstrom is an option I’d not take lightly. So it’s a challenge for a lot of people but one worth rising to IME.

    6. SB*

      I hate them with a burning passion. When I was a hiring manager I rarely read them & never asked for them. I wanted a one page resume of the last five years of job history as well as proof of registration (I managed nurses) & any additional certification they may hold (vaccination training, cannulation certs, etc). I phoned most applicants & did a mini phone interview to get acquainted & then if I asked them to do an in person interview I requested that they bring contact info for referees & 100 points of ID so I could run a police record check.

      We had an excellent rate of success with this method & retained almost all the nurses we hired under me. They are all absolute superstars & I have kept in touch with most of them since leaving the industry.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, it really depends on the field! Blue collar (pink collar?) jobs like nursing don’t require great writing skills. I work comms adjacent, and in comms jobs writing skills are essential, and so are cover letters.

    7. Chaordic One*

      I don’t think that they’re dying, but I can understand why many people wish they would. When I was younger and the economy was not as strong and employers had their pick of the best and the brightest (at least on paper) a cover letter could make or break getting an interview. I suspect that with the current labor shortages employers can’t be as picky and are now more willing to overlook not having a cover letter.

      I really hated cover letters when I was young and just starting my career. I didn’t have much experience, didn’t know a lot about the positions I was applying for and was just looking for a job, pretty much any job. As I got older and accumulated work experience and became more knowledgeable about the positions I was applying for, I started seeing the cover letter as a means to explain in more detail, why I wanted a particular job and what I could bring to the position. I see them as providing information that can’t be fully explained on a resume.

    8. Lady Danbury*

      I definitely wouldn’t say cover letters are dying. Both as a job seeker and hiring manager, cover letters (or lack thereof) can range from extremely helpful to neutral to downright harmful to your chances of being selected for an interview. In general, the more your resume/experience differs from the preferred requirements for the role, the more a cover letter will potentially help. They can also help if you have experiences, etc that might make a big difference in a hiring manager’s assessment but don’t readily translate into a single bullet point.

      Imo, the jobs where CLs are least helpful are those where you as an individual are likely to be recruited by the company, because company is struggling to find someone to fill the role and/or you’re so well qualified (but not overqualified) for the role that it’s obvious that you should be granted an interview. Obviously there are also company/region/industry variations, but in general it’s far too soon to declare the cover letter dead or dying.

    9. WhatsACoverLetter*

      I’ve never seen any applicant’s cover letter in any of the many times I’ve interviewed candidates. If they existed they were gone well before the interviewing stage.

      In my even more vast experience as an interviewee it’s been clear quite a bit of the time that people interviewing me hadn’t seen my cover letter.

      Some online application systems I’ve used don’t support including a cover letter.

      Unless it’s a really unusual job I use a generic cover letter – one that shows me off well but not in any job-specific context – and assume no one will read it.

  34. Invisible fish*

    The school year ended, and I no longer have to work with my “mentee.” It was bad- she wanted someone to hold her hand and give her lesson plans on a silver platter, which is not how mentoring works. Nothing was ever enough, and “no one ever helped” her with anything. (It wasn’t her first year in the classroom – her mentor during her first year said she’d need a mentor for her *second* year in the classroom.)

    I’m fighting guilt about it, though – when she wanted a caregiver instead of a mentor, I backed off, because attempts at communicating “you’ll need to do z” or “the actual priority is x, not y” resulted in tears. Tears more than once! To multiple people! It was like trying to work with a toddler.

    I’m not sure what I’m asking for here – reassurance that I did what was best for me in a cruddy situation? Forgiveness for having to step back and say “no” when things veered off into Looney Tunes territory?

    I do know what I am looking for here, though: I’m going to get asked to mentor again this coming year, and I just can’t. It’s not helping a new teacher that’s the problem – it’s that the district has these dumb after school meetings that I refuse to attend anymore. What’s the best way to clearly state “none of these pointless meetings and trainings will ever take time away from my family ever again, so please don’t waste my time or yours asking me to to this”?

    Then, they’re going to volun-tell me to do it, because there aren’t enough veteran teachers who qualify to mentor…. How do I professionally say “yes, I understand you’re telling me you’re assigning me this duty, but I’m telling you I will not be able to fulfill this duty since I refuse to attend any of these meetings”? Or would that do it?

    1. Keeley Jones*

      How strongly will they push this?
      If there is wiggle room – as in – we want you to mentor, even if you can’t attend the meetings – would you be willing to do that?

      If you must attend the meetings to be a mentor, then I think your language is perfect. Maybe instead of ‘refuse to attend meetings’ you could soften it to ‘am unable to attend meetings’ – but other than that, I think you’re on the right path.

    2. Janeric*

      You aren’t able to attend the coordination meetings outside of your normal working hours due to other responsibilities.

      If they don’t have enough veteran teachers to mentor new staff (and they kept your prior mentee!) I don’t think they have many viable ways to push back.

  35. QM*

    I’m currently interviewing for a role where their internal recruiter reached out to me multiple times to get me to apply (I hate my current job and I am actively looking but this job did seem like a lot of responsibility still and I’m so burnt out) and I’m used to the traditional way of things – applying directly + including cover letter, sending thank you emails to interviewers after, waiting at least a few days between each interview to hear back. This has been different because I didn’t submit a cover letter even though it was optional, got an invite for a phone interview right away, after that interview I got an invite to the next round right away and the company is big enough that I’m mostly emailing with the assistant of the hiring manager or the recruiter, and I don’t even have the email of the hiring manager (their email conventions don’t seem to have a pattern based on who I have gotten emails from) to have sent them a thank you before I’d already received an email from the recruiter about steps for the next round.

    TL;DR – Have you ever moved through interview rounds so quickly and where communication is with multiple different people that you don’t even have time to send thank you’s and if you’ve been on the other side, does that count against the candidate when you know they’ve been recruited and the process is moving quickly to do all the traditional stuff candidates might do after each round?

    1. Bitter sweet*

      Conventions and expectations can differ I guess- they’re probably not expecting thank yous! I don’t get thank yous as an interviewer, and I don’t expect them.

      I also don’t send them after I go for an interview- I rarely have their email adress after the first or second interview, and tend to assume they’re speaking to lots of people and don’t expect/want an inbox full of lots of notes of thanks… I send a note at later stages after a stronger connection has been built I guess, or if I had a burning need to clarify something after the interview.

      I might be wrong, but I’d guess that they just don’t expect those formalities.

    2. purple polka dots*

      I have hired in a technical field -engineering. Never gotten a thank-you in my life.

    3. EngineerResearcher*

      I had this happen with a recent job interview! I interviewed late afternoon and planned on sending thank you notes the next day, but got a call in the morning asking about start dates and an unofficial offer. I did end up getting the job, so I don’t think it was too detrimental to my candidacy. Obviously thank-you notes are generally a net benefit, but I wouldn’t sweat it too much if the timeline is making it difficult.

    4. Keeley Jones*

      I’m not sure thank you’s are a make or break in this situation –
      but it does sound like you’re seeing red flags and you don’t sound entirely comfortable with the process. Especially since you are already burnt out and this feels like a lot of responsibility.
      I’d suggest listening to your gut feeling and if it feels like it’s moving too fast, there’s a reason they are desperate to fill the role –
      Be cautious.

  36. Bitter sweet*

    What tactics do people use to diplomatically talk about other people’s skillsets? I project manage, and often have to identify the right people for a project. Occasionally, someone will be suggested who has some of the skills needed, but other traits would be harmful to success. I always find it hard to respond in these situations without sounding overly critical.

    I don’t mean when it’s a person who has potential but needs mentoring/training in the role- I can talk about that easily enough. I mean when it’s someone with entrenched behaviours that I have no leverage to change, so their involvement could make or break a project.

    Thank you

    1. AR*

      I’d try to spin it slightly positively, or at least neutrally, that “Joe’s skill set with X and/or working style Y is more suited to Z type of projects and would not be a good fit for this one.”

    2. Sunny days are better*

      I’m not a PM, but I might try saying something like this if “Veronica” was suggested for a project:

      “Actually I think that Betty would be better suited to this because of X,Y, and Z. I think that Veronica is better suited for a project where her skill set(s) of A,B,C, can really be put to good use which don’t apply here.”

      Sort of spin it to mention the things that they are good at and how projects are better assigned when linking to those traits.

  37. Indubitably Delicious*

    I’m burned out on my current job and thinking about looking for a new job — but due to a staffing change back in December (my coworker’s replacement was hired in March, and is still somewhat in training mode), I am painfully behind on my own work. How do I manage this? I’m trying to catch up but without working gobs of uncompensated overtime, I’m not sure how long it will take.

    1. WestsideStory*

      Stop worrying about it, there are only so many hours in a day. And start applying for a new job…if there is work that remains undone by the time you find one and leave, it will become someone else’s problem.
      It’s normal to feel guilty about “unfinished business” especially if your work affects clients or coworkers who might experience hardship if the work piles up. But you are saying the work has already piled up — perhaps that is a management issue that can be solved by hiring extra or temporary staff, changing workflows?
      To repeat, it is not your problem to solve. Do what you can but start heading for the exits….

      1. WestsideStory*

        …and enough with the uncompensated overtime! Save your energy for looking for new jobs and/or different insights. No one at your firm is going to reward you for running on the hamster wheel.

    2. Emma2*

      This is not your problem – the fact that your job was structured in a way that made it unrealistic to keep up is an office/management problem, not a you problem. You are not responsible for fixing this before you leave.
      I would, however, suggest speaking to your boss about this – explain that due to covering the two roles for an extended period of time, it has not been possible to get everything done. You can ask your boss about what they would like you to prioritise. I would do this (1) because this is generally the type of thing you should discuss with your boss; and (2) because if you do end up leaving I think it will be useful to have laid the groundwork for the boss in terms of not being able to expect that everything will be up to date, and having that be separate from your plans to leave (that is likely to leave a better impression with your boss and be good for any future reference from that boss).
      I would say go ahead and look for a new job.

  38. jj*

    Does she definitely know you don’t work there anymore? If not, (or if, in any context, this might have been a reasonable favor to ask, whether or not you wanted to do it) I think it would have made the most sense to just reply and decline. I might be biased because a huge pet peeve of mine is when folks treat silence as the same as firm no. (Silence can be anything from “no” to “forgot to say yes” to “didn’t see it” so in my mind, it’s ambiguous and annoying to not hear back from folks.) Of course, her reaction went way out of line, but before any of that, I just think it would have made a lot of sense to give one firm but kind decline.

  39. Cyndi*

    A friend of mine who works for a stationery store offered to let me use their employee discount to treat myself to some things for the new job I’m about to start, so I sent my new boss an email that said “is there anything useful I should bring on the first day?” and he very kindly said “no, don’t worry about it, the work is all digital anyway.” I’m looking for an excuse to waste money here, new boss! Throw me a bone!

      1. CanadaGoose*

        Lol. You also “need” a notebook with a cover design that makes you happy. Doodle in it, or keep running to-do lists, up to you.

  40. Elaine*

    I have a question for hiring managers out there: Would you still employ a person if they have been unemployed for 2 years? For the past two years, on and off, I’ve been dealing with mental health stuff that’s greatly affected my productivity and finding work. Some past jobs, especially with a supervisor who was racist towards me but denied everything still affects me. As for volunteering, I can only find stuff that’s a one-day event type thing or positions close to having a full-time job and usually these roles are far from where I live (as I take transit). I’m really trying to get back into the swing of things but it’s still a bit difficult and I’m dealing with cover letter anxiety too (yes, I’ve read most of the articles re: cover letter writing on this website). I just want to repair my job history and working again, even if it’s part time.

    TL;DR: Does anyone have advice re: job hunting with a 2 year gap and cover letter anxiety? Thanks!

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      What helped me when I was unemployed was They’re short-term projects and many of them can be done remotelu. On my resume, I grouped it under one header which helped fill in the gap while showcasing my skills and accomplishments, e.g.,

      Freelance consultant (pro bono)
      *Provided XYZ services for clients in various sectors, including…
      *(List of deliverables)

      See if there are projects that would be a good fit for you? And, if you can get to those one day volunteer days, go for those as well; resume builder (use a similar format above), networking, *and* may be good for your mental health.

      On your cover letter, frame it as something like, “Took time off to deal with a health issue. Now that it’s been resolved, finding volunteer opportunities to sharpen skills while transitioning to more traditional work.”

    2. Bitter sweet*

      I am not a really seasoned hiring manager or anything, but for what it’s worth- Yes, absolutely I would! Depending on the role, I’d want to be reassured that you’ve kept up to date with changes in the field, which you should be able to do with research and maybe talking to people in your network; that you can talk about your previous jobs and things you achieved or learned; and I’d be curious about the break and probably ask about it but not probe. Using AAM advice I’d have an answer ready for explaining the break that is unapologetic, matter of fact, and light on specifics. I wish I was as good at Alison at sugesting text…! Then I’d just want to see that you’re enthusiastic and ready to get back in!

    3. Aspiring Great Manager*

      As a Manager, I would IF the person was upfront about the reason for the unemployment and that reason made sense to me, and if it was about a personal setback they were clear about the steps they took to remedy their situation. Basically, present it as any other challenging work situation, but in this case it’s personal yes, in a methodical manner of I faced this problem, here’s how I addressed it, here’s the results of my actions, here’s how my skills are still fresh/refresh-able despite that. No need to go into the nitty gritty details, it’s medical and personal, you can just say I had a medical situation and talk about it neutrally that way.
      Don’t gloss over it or lie, that just sets off all sorts of alarm bells.
      Good luck!

      1. nnn*

        Just to note that with a medical situation, you should not talk about the steps you took to remedy it! TMI.

    4. SB*

      Ex hiring manager here…a two year gap in employment due to illness is not a red flag. Mental illness is just as valid as physical illness & should be taken just as seriously. Good on you for taking the time you needed to take care of yourself. This should be commended, not punished & I hope future employers can see this as a sign of maturity.

      1. nnn*

        And just to note here that you don’t need to specify mental health. Just health situation, now resolved.

    5. Elaine*

      I’ve been a bit busy the past couple days but wanted to say thanks to everyone for their advice!

  41. Caleb*

    I’m currently dealing with a situation and I’m wondering if anyone else has dealt with it before (or if there’s a relevant AAM letter that I just wasn’t finding in my searches). I just got promoted, which came with my first pay raise in the 5 years I’ve worked here. Unfortunately, I’m still underpaid. I just saw an ad for a job with my local government that looks absolutely perfect and pays about double what I’m making now, and I’ve decided to apply.

    The issue: if I want to apply to this job before the deadline, I need to apply today, and my new role technically doesn’t start until tomorrow. So should I put my new title on my resume or just stick with my old one? My new job is very different from my old one (totally different department) and will have radically different responsibilities, so it’s not just a matter of moving from “Program Coordinator” to “Program Manager”—the job duties and title are almost entirely unrelated.

    I’m leaning towards just not listing it at all, but I’m getting caught on the fact that this is a government job and I know they can be strict about work information being 100% accurate, and I don’t want to knock myself out of the running for an amazing job by making a stupid mistake.

    1. Yes And*

      In general, you want to list accomplishments, not duties, on a resume, and you obviously don’t have accomplishments in a position you haven’t started yet. I would list your outgoing title as your title, but as your last accomplishment, list “Promoted to [new title] in recognition of [what makes you awesome].” If you really want to dot your i’s and cross your t’s for This Is Government purposes, you could say “Promoted to [new title] effective 5/30/23.” Then you’re claiming the credit you are due for your promotion, while not saying anything that could remotely be misconstrued as a misrepresentation. Congratulations, and good luck!

    2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      I haven’t worked in government before, so take this with a grain of salt: If you do list the new job, put the *real* start date (i.e., tomorrow).

      That said, I agree with your instinct to not list the, both because you haven’t really started yet and you don’t have any accomplishments to list.

  42. Keeley Jones*

    TL:DR – ex boss offers me a new job after a former employee threatened to kill me.

    I just received a job offer (I’m not currently looking) from a former Executive Director who is setting out to start his own non-profit. (It’s an entirely self-serving ’cause’ of leading tours of Japan – mostly because he likes Japan. I have no idea who he imagines is going to fund this.)
    Shortly before I left that job, he decided to fire our IT manager. HR was working from home, and unable to come in, so he decided that as the Office Manager, I should sit in with him. He was concerned enough about the IT manager being unstable that he called in the police to escort him off the property, after being fired.
    The IT manager and the Executive Director were both former military, both about 6’5 and 300 pounds. They have both been trained in restraints and physical intimidation, which was necessary for this position (working with mentally ill patients who often became violent). I was an average sized, middle aged female office manager, with no particular physical training.
    After being fired, the IT manager was upset, but not out of control. He asked to go to his office to collect his things, saw the police waiting and became very upset. The three of us went up to his office and he was swearing a bit and muttering. The police started to follow us up, but the Executive Director waved them off and explained that he would just be a few minutes. The Executive Director decided that was a good time for him to go check on something and he left me alone with the upset IT manager, out of sight of the sheriffs who were waiting for him outside.
    The IT manager made a point of telling me that he could kill me before the cops even got in the building. I assured him that I believed him, and hoped that he wouldn’t. He said several times I was only alive because he hadn’t decided to kill me yet, and if I tried to leave, he’d kill me. So I stood there for half an hour as he went through his stuff and threatened me. Once he had everything, we went outside and the police escorted him away. I ultimately made a report to the sheriff who stayed behind to talk to the Executive Director – who was hiding in his office.
    So – this cowardly Executive Director calls me to ask me to come work for him in his start up non-profit. I said no, and reminded him of the several horrible experiences I’d had working for him.
    He was disappointed that I was holding a grudge.

    1. Sunny days are better*

      Whoops – I accidentally replied below your original post instead of nesting under it.

    2. Observer*

      He was disappointed that I was holding a grudge.

      Hm. I wonder if the reasons he’s starting a new non-profit is because he finally ticked off the wrong person. That’s a profound level of “You can’t be serious!!!”

    3. SB*

      Ho. Lee. Poopies. What a wild ride. So glad you were physically unharmed & I hope you don’t have any residual PTSD from what I am sure would have been a traumatic experience. Your ex boss sounds like a right bellend & NO sounds like the safest answer for you.

    4. Felis alwayshungryis*

      He left you alone for HALF AN HOUR with a large, military-trained man who was threatening to kill you and could easily have done so.

      Yeah, I’d hold a grudge too.

    5. laser99*

      “Are you intending to hide out in Japan like you did in your office that time?”

    6. allathian*

      You have every right to hold a grudge. Your former manager isn’t safe to be around, even if he’s never threatened you himself.

  43. Sunny days are better*

    A grudge!

    He waved off the police and then hid in his office and left you there alone with a man who threatened to kill you.

    I would personally never believe that he would ever have my best interests at heart in any job and wholeheartedly support your “NO.”

    1. Observer*

      I don’t generally expect my boss to have my best interest at heart. But I do think that not actively endangering your staff is the most basic baseline of decent boss behavior.

      So, I to totally support the “No”. This is not someone you could ever trust to not literally put you in real danger if it ever suited him.

  44. dwreid*

    Today, a c suite member of the company I work for posted a message encouraging us to vote in an upcoming local election. I have no problem with that in general, except that the message also referenced something that implies you should vote a certain way. Another c suite member also mentioned to me how he votes in my first ever conversation with him (he added that his views don’t reflect the company’s, which I appreciated but also thought then why bring them up at all). Maybe it’s just a personal thing that I don’t like mixing work and politics. I don’t have any strong issues with their preferred party and have been on the fence this election, but it bothers me that someone with power over my job may try to influence how I choose to vote. I’m just going to leave it be as I don’t talk to the c suites much anyway and like the company overall, but I’d love to hear any similar stories or different points of view.

    1. SB*

      This sounds dodgy. We have a company policy in place to avoid this. Any “remember to vote” posters have to be downloaded & printed from the AEC website & be completely neutral. The only reason we remind people is because voting is compulsory here & if you forget you get fined!! If there was no fine I doubt we would bother with the reminders.

    2. Chaordic One*

      If you belong to a labor union, the union will usually endorse certain candidates and encourage you to vote for them because doing so is, arguably, in your best interest, or in the best interest of the union. I guess it is kind of expected from them. Still, if I were to receive a communication from a C Suite member of my employer it would bother me and I would think it inappropriate and unprofessional. I don’t think that endorsements from either labor unions or my employer would influence me one way or the other. If you work for the federal government in the U.S. you are subject to the Hatch Act which basically bans you from expressing any political opinions.

      1. dwreid*

        I’m not in a union or in the USA. I think it’s just an assumption based on the company’s culture that most people may lean a certain way. And even though I fit in with the culture it just rubbed me the wrong way in principle.

  45. Young Blood*

    I’ve got a small low-stakes problem that I’d love perspective on. I work in a lab and we’ve hired a new admin about a year ago. She’s doing a great job all-around and is very likeable! She’s developed a habit that drives me up the wall though. Basically, her schedule is always the same while mine changes a lot depending on what experiments we’re doing for what project – and she’s taken to constantly remarking on my comings and goings.

    It so happens that for the first few months after she was hired, I was in charge of a specific process that needed to happen on a tight schedule. Everyday, I would arrive at the same time as she did, and I would also have lunch at 11:30 on the dot.

    But then, you guessed it, that project ended and all of a sudden my schedule was a lot more flexible. For a while I only had data analysis to do, so I could pretty much arrive, leave and have lunch whenever I wanted. That’s when it started: every morning “oh, you’re in late!” or “you’re here early!” or “wow, did you forget to eat?”. For a couple weeks after that I had to stay later than usual to wrap up a specific experiment, and every single evening she would remark on how late I was leaving. During those two weeks, she also screamed dramatically more than once when she saw me in the work area after hours because she was surprised expect me to be there. I tried to have empathy for the fact she might have been genuinely startled, but it turns out I really hate hearing screams in the workplace (and then being jokingly chastised for being “a quiet little mouse” while I’m handling fragile samples).

    I’ve tried explaining to her multiple times that my schedule is highly variable and that she can expect to see me at different times, but it didn’t really help. I’ve also tried explaining the ins and outs of whatever schedule I’m currently on (“late lunch again?” “yes, you see, the teapot quality control project is over and now we’re back on llama optimization research, so I’m centrifugating hair samples from 10AM to 1PM which means I’ll eat anywhere from 1 to 2PM”) but it did absolutely nothing. If anything, it got worse, she also started remarking on what seat I take in the lunchroom and whether I’m drinking coffee or water.

    After that I tried being just really boring every time she’d make one of those remarks (“oh, coffee today again?” “yep”) and keeping a neutral face, but it hasn’t really worked.

    It’s not much but when I hear 4-5 of these remarks in a day I start getting really irritated. Her tone is never overtly judgmental, just surprised, but I guess I’m perceiving it as infantilizing? We’re both women and I’m about 30 years younger than her, which definitely places me on the low end of the curve for my profession. I’ve had numerous comments for other older colleagues about how young I am (often in a “aww look at you” way rather than an impressed way, unfortunately) so at this point I’m cagey. I just wish she’d let me come and go in peace.

    Any ideas on how to achieve that?

    1. WellRed*

      I’m irritated just reading about this. Since being boring hasn’t helped have you either flat out said something to her: “you keep commenting on my schedule. Why?” Or, if you can pull it off, do the opposite of boring and naked stuff up: “you’re late.” “I had to fly to Paris for breakfast this morning but I’m here now.” Better if your responses are a bit wackier.

    2. fhqwhgads*

      “We’ve discussed before that my schedule varies based on the need of the current project. You keep commenting on my arrival times and when and where I eat. Please stop.”

    3. Still*

      Could you just engage way, waaaay less?

      I wonder if she’s saying those things because she doesn’t have any other small-talk and she wants to chat.

      But whatever the reason, I would make those comments as unrewarding as possible. You don’t owe her an explanation of your schedule or really any reaction at all. If you just shrug with a non-committal “hmm” every time she makes a comment like that, maybe she’ll scale back. Or at the very least you won’t be spending time entertaining her.

    4. Jen (they or she pronouns please)*

      Have you tried saying directly “NewAdminsName, you keep commenting on the times I come and go. Are they causing you any problems in your job?”
      If the answer is no, “It’s really irritating that you constantly comment on my hours. Unless an experiment requires strict hours, my hours are pretty flexible and I’ll handle them with BossName. Please stop commenting on them.”
      If the answer is yes, address the issues (to the extent that’s reasonable), and say something along the lines of “If you have further issues, please say something directly. Until then, your constant comments about my hours have gotten really irritating, please stop commenting on them. My hours are pretty flexible in general, and I handle them directly with BossName.”

      Obviously you’d want to adjust the details, but I think that an approach like that might work.
      As someone who often is That Person Who Doesn’t Understand Hints, I’d really want to know if I were inadvertently annoying someone.

      (I’m not sure what to do about the questioning of other details, or the being overly surprised, but I still think a direct conversation saying “if it doesn’t cause you work problems, stop” is a good next step. Maybe you can work some “Actually I’m an adult so stop behaving like you’re my parent needing to always know where I am and that I won’t come home later than at 10pm.” into there too? I’m unsure how to phrase it though.)

      Good luck with your coworker.

    5. Mint Berry Crunch*

      I had a colleague who made similar comments like when I arrived or took lunch or things about what I ate for lunch, if I wore a skirt instead of pants, if I didn’t currently have an acne breakout she’d ask if I was wearing more makeup than usual (for reals). I guess she’s just a very routine person and doesn’t understand that not everyone else is, and that a slight change to their day isn’t worth mentioning. She was also the type to just vocalize any observation she had “wow it’s 10am already, it’s sunny outside, wow it’s noon already, there’s a visitor in the boardroom, wow it’s 3pm already, now it’s raining”.

      Sometimes if she would say something like “you’re here early!” I would just say “not really” because it might have only been 10 minutes earlier than normal. That worked a little bit. But I wish I had been more direct and had been able to say “you pay a lot of attention to what I eat” to see what happens. But I quit, so I hope you have the confrontational courage that I lacked.

    6. coffee*

      Bring up the pattern and ask her why she keeps commenting? The screaming thing (multiple times!) does suggest she’s just going to do her thing, though. :( I would work on reframing the way you react to it, since you can control that.

      I would also, and this is maybe counter-intuitive, add in a bit more small talk with her. I think if she had more interactions with you she wouldn’t feel the need to grasp at every opportunity, plus you’ll build up more relationship leverage with her.

    7. allathian*

      Ugh, she sounds annoying. Given your age difference, it sounds almost like she wants to be your office mom or something. How does she treat your coworkers? Is she as curious about their schedules? If she treats everyone in the lab the same way regardless of age or gender, it’s probably just her way and I don’t know what would shut that down…

      But if it’s just you, maybe calling her out on her behavior would help you feel better about it, even if it doesn’t change her behavior.

      Something like “You’ve been commenting on my comings and goings several times a day for months now. I’ve already told you that my schedule is flexible and I need you to stop commenting on it. Honestly the comments feel infantilizing, but I’m an adult and I manage my own schedule.”

      If she persists, a deadpan “No comment” if you have to acknowledge her at all just might get her to tone it down.

      That said, it sounds like you’ve already tried versions of all of the above without much success. It sounds like she’d prefer more social chat with other employees, but her approach is clearly not working for you.

      I’m afraid that it may be impossible to get her to stop, so maybe just accepting that this is the way she is and there’s nothing you can do about it, while otherwise going gray rock on her, as you have been doing at least to some extent with your boring replies, is the only way to go forward.

      You do say that she’s very likeable, so another way to stop her commenting on your comings and goings might be to switch to the opposite strategy, namely seeking her out on your breaks and sharing something about your life would let you build a closer relationship with her, and maybe her comments wouldn’t annoy you so much if you did that. It would also let you build enough social capital with her that you could jokingly say something like “No (office) mom, I haven’t eaten yet today” when she asks if you’ve gone to lunch yet.

      Because she’s a likeable person, I recommend trying to build a relationship with her rather than risk antagonizing her unnecessarily.

    8. Bang Pow*

      I have a colleague who is similar. It similarly annoys the bejeezus out of me. The thing is, I think this type of talk is how some people connect, kind of their equivalent of talking about the weather, and it will come across as a rejection of her attempts to connect to give some of the “please stop commenting on [thing]” responses here. Now, you don’t have to want to connect with her, and at this point, you probably don’t want to! But you still want to be cognizant of her good intentions in your response. Try to let her down easy, as it were.

      I think you need another conversation with her. Try a concerned tone, as though you are worried that you are making her life difficult or upsetting her. Pull her aside and ask if she can talk for a minute. Don’t make it a drive by conversation. Sit down and focus on her. Tell her you’ve noticed how often she comments on when you come and go and that even though the two of you talked about your new schedule, you just want to check in and make sure nothing is wrong bc the frequency with which she comments makes you think something is wrong. If something is wrong, meaning there is a genuine need for your presence at a certain time or something, then you have a chance to talk about a solution. If nothing is wrong, then reiterate that you will be coming and going at different times and you hope that she will be able to get used to it and stop commenting on it. Whatever she says, validate it back to her and ask her again to stop commenting. “Great, you don’t mean anything by it. I hope you can get used to my hours and stop commenting on them.” Then make a graceful exit. “Thanks for talking! I’m back to my hair analysis, but I’ll catch you later!” Then make an extra effort to make meaningless small talk with her over the next few days to defuse the awkwardness.

    9. Young Blood*

      Thanks everyone for the thoughtful replies! Sorry for not answering all the comments individually, I posted this yesterday before leaving work and didn’t get the chance to look at the site again until now.

      All the advice is very good and I quite appreciate the validation that other people would also find this behavior irritating, haha. Since my coworker is still a very nice and wholesome person aside from those remarks, I think what I’ll do for now is engage with her socially more because she might just be looking to make small talk (but I’ll keep being boring when she asks why I’m arriving early or etc.). If she keeps it up I’ll try to have a conversation with her to gently point out the pattern and ask her to stop but I hope I won’t have to do that!

  46. Gutenberg*

    Does anyone know anything about working as a Simulated Patient Actor (aka Standardized Patient Actor)? SPAs pose as patients for medical and other health care students as part of their training. I am mostly retired, except for occasional research projects, but am on the lookout for interesting ways to supplement my income. Input from anyone affiliated with medical schools or other health care educational institutions is especially welcome!

    1. AnonRN*

      My colleagues who are in NP schools appreciated the simulated patients, even though their interactions with them were very scripted (they’re being graded on how thoroughly they complete their assessment). If you would be okay with having a provider do a complete physical multiple times a day, having a scripted interaction about your health care needs, and then also giving them honest feedback on their demeanor/technique, it could be an interesting experience.

    2. RagingADHD*

      Yes, I used to do SPA work! What would you like to know?

      In my case, it was an annual program that ran for a few days once a year when med students were preparing for boards, so it wasn’t a regular supplement to income. But other places may be set up for more regular work.

    3. SB*

      When I was doing my B. Nursing we had regular sim lab days & the sim actors were so much better than the dummies. Obviously we subbed out the actors for dummies when we needed to practice an invasive procedure, but the sim actor would stay where they were & we would lay the dummy next to them on the bed & continue to address the actor while we practiced the procedure on the dummy.

      All our sim actors just answered ads on the university job ads board, so most were students but when we did our gerontology units the sim actors came from advertising at local community centres. I cannot speak for other universities, but this would be a great place to start. Good luck & thank you on behalf of upcoming students who will gain a better understanding of what it is like to provide care to an actual human!!!!!

      1. AnonRN*

        Aw, in my BSN program we just had to practice on each other! Nothing invasive, just head-to-toe with clothes on. But since many of us were also co-workers it was weird. I don’t normally want my co-workers to look up my nose or listen to my bowels! The standardized patients were reserved for the NP and med students.

  47. SB*

    Happy Memorial Day to you all from Australia. We have ANZAC Day here on April 25th which is essentially the same thing.

    I have a happy work story for you all…we have “Return & Earn” here in Australia for the recycling of drink containers – you get 10c per container back. Anyway, my head honcho manager agreed to let me put some bins around the workshops & warehouse for the many, many cans & bottles the guys finish a day & when I put them through the R&E machine we made just shy of $700 which will be donated to the local children’s hospital for comfort items & entertainment. This was one month of collections for 250 employees – they drink a LOT of soft drink, maybe too much…

    Next month we will pick another worthy recipient (based on suggestions from the employees) for the proceeds & it will be an ongoing project for the business.

    1. Hatchet*

      Yay! That is so awesome – to you for having the idea and being willing to implement it & to your boss for agreeing to it!! Cheers to many more donations!

  48. Pinky*

    I posted in this past Friday’s open thread about the interview with the hiring manager who was rude to me and asked me why I think I was chosen to be laid off. All the replies were helpful, and I’ve decided to withdraw my application.

    In better news, that verbal offer became a written and signed offer Friday afternoon! So my question is when I reach out to HR tomorrow to withdraw my application, should I say (1) I’ve accepted another offer or (2) tell them I’m withdrawing due to my interaction with the hiring manager? Should I play it straight or be passive aggressive about it?

    Original post –
    I wanted to get y’alls take on something. I was laid off earlier this month from a job I had for 3 years. About 6 years ago I was also laid off. I work in the marketing industry, and both of these companies were acquired while I was there, and eventually laid off people in waves. I have about 10 years experience and had a few jobs between that first layoff and this recent one.

    Anyway, I met with the hiring manager for an interview this week. He was a white man, probably in his 50s. He came off as condescending during the interview and gave me insights that he’s probably a micromanaging nightmare to work with. He made a comment along the lines of, “you’ve now been laid off twice, why do you think you were chosen?” I was gobsmacked at such a question. I can be over sensitive, so I’m not sure if I’m feeling defensive at this question, but I felt it was so inappropriate! Both times after my layoffs, all the interviewers were pretty respectful with asking about it and talking about it. Especially with marketing, and more so with mergers and acquisitions, layoffs aren’t uncommon. But I (as a white woman), thought, “are you asking this to everyone?” It just reeked of unempathetic privilege and put a bad taste in my mouth.

    I do not want to continue interviewing, but they wanted to set up a 2 hour interview (to meet with several people), so I did that. THANKFULLY I actually got a verbal offer from somewhere I’m excited about. They are putting together the written one. But I’d still continue interviewing because you never know what will happen. Another weird thing with this manager, was that the position was okayed as “remote”, but he expected the person to fly into headquarters 1x/month! I told him that would be hard to do, but I could do 1x/quarter.

    1. Alex*

      I think I would go with just letting them know you were accepting another offer elsewhere, but if they do ASK why, feel free to let them know your experience.

    2. Observer*

      Whatever you do, play it straight. Passive aggressive won’t do you any good here.

      If you wanted, you could tell them that the interaction with the hiring manager made you realize that you didn’t want the job. But you don’t have to do that. You could just tell them that you are accepting a job elsewhere, so are withdrawing.

      And congratulations on the actual offer you got!

  49. Another friendly, neighborhood atheist!*

    I am wrapping up a part time position than I chose not to extend and am looking for a new part time position. My question is whether or not I should use my current boss (CB) as a reference. CB offered me my current job after I worked with them on a project
    I went in fully aware that they were very difficult to work with, but I decided I could live with it because it would be a good networking opportunity and I wouldn’t have to continue in it past a certain date unless I really wanted to because hours would go way down. Think working at a tax advisement center during tax season, then the workload dropping way off after tax day. CB is perfectly ok with me wrapping up, but I’m a little iffy on what kind of reference they would give me. I was hired because I have a really strong skillset in a particular area, but I struggled in other areas in which I am perfectly competent because I was not able to function well within the systems CB set up. There were VERY particular ways the wanted things organized, certain things I couldn’t have access to, etc, and this can all be backed up by other people who also worked for them and experienced the same thing. Literally no one understands CB’s systems/work methods. So I feel like if I list them as a reference and a perspective employer asks them about how organized I am, they might say I’m not. I have a couple other people I can list, but this was my first foray into a “real” professional environment after several years of being a stay at home parent. It’s been over 10 years since my last, true office job. I feel like I’ve been out of the workforce so long, I don’t really know how much weight references are given. Is it ok to list people that aren’t direct supervisors?

    1. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      These decisions often come down to “how self-aware is your boss?” And it sounds like you may know the answer already. If I can suggest, take a look at Alison’s responses on how to do a good reference check, and think about how you imagine your boss might respond to those questions. The idea that they might call you more disorganized than you are due to how you worked together is pretty telling.

      That said, a reference check that is, uh, nuanced isn’t necessarily a red flag as a hiring manager, especially if you’re able to kind of allude to an imperfect relationship with the person at the interview stage. Something like “CB and I weren’t necessarily a perfect match in terms of x and y, but we completed z well and I think you would get some valuable feedback from them. Just be aware that my preferred work style didn’t always align with theirs. In an environment like this job/more autonomy/now I’ve re-entered the field, I wouldn’t expect to see that same tension”

      The above is too long and imperfect but hopefully you see the idea.

      1. Another friendly neighborhood atheist*

        I love that wording! I think they are reasonably self-aware; they even joke about being a terrible boss. If things worked differently, I would stay on in this position, but it’s most definitely not going to turn into what it has the potential to become. Hence why I decided to wrap up at a logical wrapping up point and see if I could find something better. And I don’t want my norms to get warped by what is ultimately a toxic workplace. It sucks because it was a great opportunity and I did meet some amazing people. And it just fell into my lap, which I was really grateful for since I’m trying to re-enter the workforce. And I will definitely start a thread on Friday about trying to start working again after staying home with kids. That’s a whole other ball of wax.

  50. chloeacd*

    What does one wear to a workplace trip to an MLB game? The game will be on a Friday evening after work, and I am the lone summer associate at a small/medium sized law firm. It’ll be at the end of my second week of work, and I’ve never been to a baseball game, much less one with a crew full of people who are all in charge of me. Please advise!!

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      IIRC (if I recall correctly) this and similar questions have been discussed on the Corporette blog. Try searching their archives or seeing if you can bring up something via Google search for “What to wear for a workplace trip to pro sports game” (or similarly worded question).

      Personally, I don’t know. If I had to guess I’d say aim to look casual but pulled-together, and still professional (e.g. no super-short shorts, cutoffs, sports bras, or crop tops). But you probably know that already, so I apologize for being painfully obvious!

      I’m not a rabid fan, but baseball is a nice, leisurely sport for a summer evening. Enjoy.

    2. Lady Danbury*

      Do you have someone that you can ask? Or try and find pictures of past outings on the intranet? Otherwise, I’d go for a smart casual look: work appropriate jeans (the usual disclaimers such as not ripped, etc), a team t-shirt or smart casual top in the team’s colors and nice sneakers (ie clean and neat, not necessarily fancy). These are all things that can be purchased fairly inexpensively at somewhere like Marshalls if you don’t own them already.

    3. Plait*

      Blue jeans (or other long pants), a casual shirt/top, a sweater or jacket in case it’s cold, ditto gloves and a hat. In other words, casual. Or if you are still nervous, ask one of the lawyers. And good for you for checking! I wouldn’t have known either back when I was a summer, decades ago. Have fun!

      1. Plait*

        p.s. I said “casual,” but I agree with others who said no shorts or anything revealing or too tight (that’s regardless of how you identify). Also, you didn’t ask about behavior, but I would consider not drinking beer there (unless everyone else is and you can hold your liquor really really well).

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My department (medical admin for a large hospital system) does these annually, and generally people wear jeans and t-shirts or equivalent. It’s explicitly casual, though people still are expected not to wear anything with like, cuss words or the like on since they are at a work-sponsored event.

    5. WestsideStory*

      Business casual – khakhis or cotton slacks, comfortable shoes (nothing with a heel if you are a gal, loafers or nice flats) and a short sleeve top plus a jacket or sweater for later if it gets cold. Take a quick look online for some info on the teams playing – you don’t have to be an expert but show an interest. The giant scoreboard is your friend – lots of info and helps keep track.
      Most importantly, as a new junior person don’t drink more than 1 beer if you drink a beer at all – there is plenty of soft drink and soda so stand firm. Even if you are a guy, this is not the time to be “one of the guys” even if the rest of your colleagues are sloshing. Someone WILL be watching you, so remember it is a work event, not leisure.
      Beyond the game, expect a lot of cross conversation and observe how people network. Stand for the national anthem and take your cues from managers rather than peers. Smile a lot! Ask questions, and don’t be afraid to let people know you are new to the game – yet don’t let any one person monopolize your time.
      I hope this helps – I love baseball and heading out to a game tomorrow myself!

    6. SB*

      I do like the suggestion that you should trawl the intranet for pics of past events to see what others have worn!!!

      Failing that, we do this for the footy (Australian NRL) & most people wear jeans & a tee & a jacket as it is winter here. Anyone who is a fan of one of the teams playing will wear their supporter jersey or beanie/scarf. Very casual but still work appropriate (nothing too revealing, nothing with offensive language or imagery, etc). I think about what my my conservative English Nanna would say when I dress for these things & usually hit the nail on the head.

      As for alcohol that was mentioned above, I will have one beer at kick off with the boys (I am the only female who attends these things as they are only open to manager level) then drink water or DC for the rest of the evening as I have to drive home & I limit myself to one alcoholic drink at a work function anyway. Never a good idea to get drunk at a work event.

    7. KR*

      I would definitely check to see whether you will be seated outdoors or if your company is reserving one of those VIP boxes. I know for me, I feel much more put together and at ease if I’m dressed for the temperature. I would go with a polo shirt or a nice tshirt or perhaps a loose button up short sleeved shirt with either nice shorts or pants. Look for casual clothes that don’t have stains or bad tears. Figure out what team most people in your office seem to support and what teams are playing so you know what colors will be considered the “spirit colors”. That way you can either dress to support a specific team or avoid looking like you’re supporting anyone lol. And I would probably do a 10 minute google to see how both of the teams are doing this season so you have context for the sports talk which will probably happen

  51. Bowserkitty*

    I’m in the thick of job-hunting with two months left on my current contract and I’ve just been so stressed out since the year started. My body is breaking down and my mental health has already been hell for much longer. Pleaaaase send me good vibes I get an offer soon. I can’t stand this limbo.

    1. Lizzzie (with the deaf cat)*

      Good luck to you, Bowserkitty, I hope the day will come when you look back on this time and it will seem just like a blink of the eye!

  52. ADHD is my Super Power*

    I just had some good news to share! Last year I took a lateral position that was adjacent to the work I was already doing. I thought it would be a good chance to try something new but without having to start over somewhere with less pay.

    I received absolutely no support in this new position and despite receiving an ‘exceeds expectations’ review at the end of the year I was put onto a HR PIP a month ago. Not sure how you can be put on a PIP for not knowing things if they knew you didn’t know that stuff when they hired you?! I tried to get back into my old field at work but was blocked in every direction I tried. So I applied outside the company.

    Within 2 days of contacting my network of friends and former coworkers I had a phone call with a hiring manager. 2 days later I had an interview with a hiring manager. Then a week later I had an interview with a second hiring manager and a week after that I had an offer. So from HR PIP that was utter BS to more money in 1 month. Plus this is a bigger company and I think it will have a lot more opportunities for advancement.

    As a side note.. I will never tall another manager that I am neurodivergent. That came back to bite me and much of the stuff in the PIP was related to that.

  53. Energiser Bunny lost her zing*

    After a fantastic 6 months in a new job, I have had 2 run-ins in one week…is mercury in retrograde? I jest. But just now I was eating my lunch at my desk in my office and a colleague came in and stood next to me behind my desk, started telling me some new information (but not urgent) and asked me to open up a document so she could explain. My hands were literally full of a messy but delicious sandwich and my hands were sticky. I said I was on my lunchbreak (as if it wasn’t obvious) and asked if could she come back. She said she was leaving for the day and had to show me now. As I started to open up the document with my sticky fingers on the keyboard I asked what if I wasn’t here? She started to storm off and said “well i won’t tell you then” and I said “as you can see i am opening it up for you” and she came back……i’m still annoyed hours later. At no point did she acknowledge or apologise for interrupting my lunchbreak, and I felt she invaded my personal space by coming behind my desk. Yes this is a very minor altercation, and something to move on from, but wanted to ask the audience – Am I being unreasonable?

    1. Bang Pow*

      Feels very “not great, but sometimes annoying things happen and you have to deal” to me. Are you hourly with a literal lunch break that you don’t get paid for and don’t get back if you do work stuff during it? That colors my interpretation more into “wow, really not great, you would have been justified in asking for it to wait until the next day.” Otherwise, in an office environment, sometimes lunches get interrupted bc things come up and you work around it. Nobody loves it, but it’s not everyday (for most of us), so as long as we get to eat something, it’s not a big deal. Again, though, it’s different if your unpaid lunch break is the only time you get to eat.

      About coming behind your desk, with no other information, it makes sense for showing you things in a document. Her responses are pretty overboard. However, you don’t have to do things on her schedule just because she is overboard.

      Overall, you could have handled it better. It would have been fine to say you needed a minute to wash your hands, and then taken that minute to wash your hands, regardless of how she reacted. If you don’t want her behind your desk for any reason at all, you could have asked her to sit on the other side while you turn your monitor so you can both see it (assuming that’s possible). I don’t know what you hoped to accomplish by asking what she would have done if you hadn’t been there. You were there. If you really did not want to interrupt your lunch, and it was something you didn’t need that afternoon, it would have been better to ask her to come back a different day.

      1. NonWorkingLunchIsntUsual*

        Is a real lunch break a thing at your office? It hasn’t been at most places I’ve worked and if you’re in the office it’s perfectly within bounds to expect someone to do a work thing even if they were working. If it’s not a rush and they feel like it, people might ask if you’d prefer they come back in a few minutes but that’s them being polite when they have the opportunity to be so and not a real expectation.

        On the other hand, saying one moment, finishing a bite, wiping your hands, etc are all perfectly reasonable things to do before getting down to the actual work.

        If you want a real, uninterrupted break on a particular day then you’d generally be expected to leave the office to indicate that. But at some companies that’s not the cultural norm except as an infrequent thing. At others it’s perfectly acceptable to do it everyday.

        Also, some companies with lunchrooms have an “interruption is fine for important/time sensitive stuff only” culture if you eat in the lunchroom rather than at your desk but even then it’s still okay to interrupt and if the person was leaving for the day and needed something before they went it would have been fine to interrupt there too.

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