open thread – May 12-13, 2023

It’s the Friday open thread!

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

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

{ 1,048 comments… read them below }

  1. Roxie*

    Has anyone been laid off and taken a job that was at a lower pay? I was laid off last Friday. Back in March during my performance review, I got a $2K merit increase, and my boss made a point of telling me how the company didn’t do well last year and how my salary was on the high-end for the company. When I was part of a layoff about 7 years ago, I found out later that those of us who were laid off then, it was also due to salary. Now I’m just like, is it even worth it pushing for a high salary if it puts a target on my back for a layoff?

    Now I’m considering jobs that are $10K lower than my ending salary. I think the lowest I would prefer to go is $15K lower. I do not want to do anything $20K or more lower, however I’m worried that if I’m selective about it, it could take me longer, and then I still might end up getting something that is $20K lower.

    I work in marketing. For context, for my skills and experience, the range is about $30K lower than my final salary all the way up to $20K higher than it. My ideal target range starts at $9K lower than my final salary.

    1. Nikki*

      Different companies make different decisions during layoffs so it’s not necessarily the case that higher salaried people are the first to go. Case in point, my company had a round of layoffs earlier this week. There were some higher salaried people in that group, mostly management roles, but of the individual contributor roles, the ones that were cut were almost all lower level and therefore lower salary. I think the reasoning is that higher level people can contribute at a higher level so a few higher level people can produce the same output as many more lower level. So I wouldn’t target lower level jobs just because you speculate a lower salary will keep you safe from future layoffs. That may not be the case wherever you land next. I think a better way to look at it is what salary are you comfortable taking? If a job sounds like a good fit and the salary is workable for you, go ahead and take it. If a salary sounds too low and you have enough of a cushion that you don’t need to take the first job you’re offered, maybe it makes more sense to wait a bit and see if something comes along that better fits your requirements. Good luck!

      1. Cj*

        I would try to get as much information as you could on the salary before you’re actually offered the job, because if you refuse a job offer you will be in eligible to collect unemployment. if the salary is going to be below your requirements, you should withdraw from the process before the offer.

        in my state, you can wait for a comparable job to what you had, but I don’t know if there’s a specific amount below your previous salary that they consider to be reasonable that you would refuse the offer and you can still get unemployment.

        1. JSPA*

          Varies state by state, but I believe in most that you can argue a job is unsuitable if doesn’t use your skills, or pays a substandard wage (for either the job description or your skill level). Roxie isn’t holding out for current pay, so I find it unlikely that it would be a problem, very early in the process. If its been some time, And it’s getting harder to argue that a properly-paying job will pop up soon, I suppose that could change.

    2. Lilith*

      I’m currently looking at a role that’s just over 10k less than my salary was in my last job, but it does look interesting – I don’t know if I’d go for if it was both badly paid and boring.

      On the other hand, I’ve been made redundant a few times and I don’t think any of those times were to do with salary. One of those times, I was actually the lowest paid person in the org at the time, and I was still bundled in with the other redundancies. So I guess my viewpoint is that the reasons for layoffs are so many and varied, I don’t think it would be worth going for a lower-paid job just to prevent something that might happen for other reasons anyway.

    3. J*

      I took a 50% pay cut after my Covid layoff, despite having some other options. Specifically I did it because I needed a safer workplace and that job was guaranteed remote for a specific period under a grant. I also was seriously burnt out and hoped the new job would help me find balance and I was very passionate about the work and would deepen my network of community contacts, something I wanted to do given my long tenure at the company that laid me off.

      I was very privileged in some ways to be able to take the cut, but I’d also just been promoted up weeks before the pandemic (and like you my salary change was a reason) so I’d had no time to really build that extra income in before it disappeared. It was more like a 20% cut from my salary. It did for a time help with burnout, I did make a huge network of contacts and surprisingly gained some skills and just a deeper knowledge of the industry as a whole. I’ve since left (immediately following that safe workplace becoming not so safe) and I immediately was very close to my old salary and have since increased it.

      Now I know I’m actually above the market standard rates and I’ll likely have no choice but to take a lower salary if I want to stay in my field. Because of this, I do try to stay aware of typical salary ranges and live off of that income versus my actual income. Every time I get too high, I know I’m at risk for a layoff so I save enough to live off my savings or a lower income. Good times me subsidizes bad times me (or recovering me). I kind of hate it but it has worked out to be a net positive over the years and my average salary across time is actually higher than the mid-range for my experience and skills.

    4. laid off twice*

      I was laid off twice, and neither were because of my salary. The first time, the next job I took was lower than my previous salary, but that’s just because I got a little desperate. But then I left that job for a much better one. Then that one ended too, and I got another at a lower salary because it was a different area/lower cost of living. None of that was intentional. I would highly suggest just to shoot for the most money you can get. Don’t lower yourself just because you’re afraid that it’ll put a target on your back. That doesn’t happen all the time. Know your worth, ask for raises, etc.

    5. Decidedly Me*

      I wouldn’t take a pay cut just as a way to avoid being a target in a layoff. If layoffs are your concern, then I would do additional research into the company and how it’s doing to identify companies that are less likely to have a layoff. High salaries are not always the target of a layoff either – it can be based on seniority (in either direction), performance, redundancy, etc.

      There is nothing wrong with taking a pay cut if it’s what you want to do. I would take one for a job that really interested me, strong benefits, etc.

    6. CadLady*

      I did – first time I was laid off in 2003. Took me 9 months to find a job and it was a step-down in pay (I forget how much but it hurt). I got fortunate – 6 months later a more senior guy retired and I got his position – nice pay bump to well above where I was before.

      If you gotta pay the bills, you gotta pay the bills and its easier to find a job if you have a job.

    7. ThursdaysGeek*

      I’m finally back up and past where I was 11 years ago when I was laid off. Unemployment was running out and I accepted a job at $15k lower. The only redeeming factor is I really like this job, my boss, my co-workers, the work.

    8. Regina Philange*

      I have taken a job that was a pretty significant difference in salary (about 25K less). However, the new role also gave me ‘normal’ working hours, a much-less stressful and laid-back environment, and the healthcare & 401K benefits were excellent. It was still a very livable wage that did not affect my ability to pay the mortgage or other bills, which was obviously part of the consideration. It’s been 8 years (same company) and I’m just about back to the salary I was making before, but I have no regrets about accepting the job. Ultimately, you need to factor in what you can afford to live on, the benefits, and the work & work environment itself. If you can avoid it, don’t accept something just because it’s offered if you aren’t ‘feeling it.’ I’ve been there too and regretted not listening to my gut. Good luck!

    9. Jiji*

      I was laid off last year (tech) and ended up taking a job with about 10K less pay. For the work I do, there is no way I was going to find another role that paid me as much as my tech job did, so it really does depends on which industry you’re in.

    10. Random Dice*

      Don’t sell out your security today for an illusion of control.

      Take the money now, so you can use it and maybe even sock it away, rather than hoping that removing a bit of it will give you job security.

      Job security is something we (US Americans) crave but can’t actually have – these bargains we make in our heads are just illusions of control.

      That said, if you need to take a pay cut to get by, do what you gotta do. But don’t build a cushy velvet couch in your brain for a self-limiting belief that doesn’t serve you.

      1. Chutney Jitney*

        Oh, thank you for saying this. OP, do *not* pre-undercut yourself.

        Truly, if you are worried about future layoffs, then plan for them to happen. Save money, make a plan, always be networking, whatever. But don’t hurt yourself now for a possible negative future you may never see.

        1. Cj*

          exactly. she’s talking about taking a *huge* pay cut. it doesn’t make sense to take a $20,000 pay cut now to avoid the possibility being laid off in, let’s just say, 5 years. save that $100,000 extra, less taxes of course, and you’d have an excellent cushion to tide you over if you do get laid off again.

    11. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Don’t accept a below-market offer unless you must find a job very quickly.
      That pay cut would accumulate considerably over a career unless you can quickly get back on track.

      Generally, people are chosen for layoffs either because their job is no longer needed, or because their value for money is less than those of other employees.
      It can happen after someone threatens to leave and forces a high counteroffer. They are high on a layoff list not just because of their salary though, but because they are considered a leave risk.

      You might have been laid off if your salary was higher than coworkers doing comparable jobs at a comparable standard, e.g. if your merit rise was partly due to good negotiation / your boss liked you, rather than superior performance, or if your performance became no longer better than comparable coworkers.

      However, that is just your relative value within that one company.
      Was your salary within the general range for the market in your field and location? If so, negotiate normally.

      A lower salary doesn’t bring job security:
      It could give you lower status even with the same job title as a coworker. It would likely affect your chances of promotion.

      An employer offering below-market salaries may well be doing so because their finances are rocky. Or their finances will become NOK if they only hire people who’ll accept below-market pay.

      Best to check company finances and layoff history before applying, rather than shortchange yourself on salary.

    12. RedinSC*

      having been in the decision stream to decide who is being laid off and who is not, salary really isn’t the top question. It’s skills, primarily. Can someone do two things while another person only does one? That one is going to be the one let go.

      So, my thoughts are, when looking for a new job, don’t limit your salary, OR undersell yourself. Get the appropriate wage for that job and your experience.

      1. feline outerwear catalog*

        Technically, yes. However, I tried working in another field that was more lucrative. I was unfortunately laid off less than a year later. The new field has been oversaturated and I went back to my old field for now. Salaries overall seemed lower when I was looking than the last time I was heavily looking a couple years ago. I’m still making a decent amount for old field, and it is a much less stressful environment, so not great but not terrible.

    13. DJ*

      Could you temp whilst you’re looking. Then you will still be earning an income to pay your living costs. You have the bonus of being able to pick and choose jobs whilst not having to really justify why you would be leaving a job after a short period of time as it’s more acceptable if the stop gap job is temp.
      Also it comes down to other aspects ie better benefits, less hours, more flexibility and if the new job is WFH then saving on travel and meal costs , even corporate clothing.

    14. LayoffsHappen*

      I’ve taken less money for better benefits or when working in industries that traditionally pay less (academia, non-profits). However, I wouldn’t do it because you think it makes you safer from layoffs. I’ve been laid off from most of the jobs I’ve had including some contracts (tech – what are you gonna do?) and only once it was because of money. My first layoff was because I was hired in anticipation of getting a govt contract they didn’t get. I’ve been laid off because the company was bought, because the company grew too fast, because they realized they needed a different mix of personnel/roles, because my name was drawn out of a hat (yes, one company put all staff-level employees into a lottery because they didn’t want to choose), because a company decided they were going to stop using contractors, because a company closed the office I was working from, because of a post 9-11 crash, because the company decided to axe a product I was working on, because they decided not to use remote employees anymore (pre-pandemic), and probably for a few other reasons I’m forgetting. Layoffs are a part of working life for most people and have been for decades now.

      So if you can get paid what you think you’re worth, do so. If you’re offered less but there are other benefits for you consider it. But taking an artificially low salary to avoid layoffs is not likely to be a successful strategy.

  2. Networking with former HR Director*

    I was laid off from an organization almost 5 years ago. They just posted a role I am suitable for. However, since they are a Union, they prefer internal candidates or might already have some internally in mind.

    I was thinking to reach out to the former HR director who was really sympathetic in my layoff (and I think she’d remember me as layoffs were rare). But how should I approach it, if at all! Should I ask a question about the role (even though the posting is explanatory)? Should I tell her I am interested and will apply to the role, but want to reach out to say “Hi”? Or not contact her at all? Ideally, I’d like to get an idea if the role is ear-marked for someone already and the posting is just a formality.

    1. Clorinda*

      Reach out and tell her how you loved working at the organization, and with her, and you saw this and are interested. What do you have to lose? She might not be able to tell you if the role is already earmarked for someone, although she might hint around at it.

      1. Miette*

        Exactly – it doesn’t cost anything to ask in this case. Phrase your ask something like, “I’m not asking you to reveal anything you don’t want to or can’t, but I also know it’s likely that an internal candidate may have already been identified. Do you know if that’s the case here, because I sure would love to throw my hat into this ring.”

    2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I’d reach out to put your name forward, but understand she is unlikely to tell you if it’s just a formality. Email, say you saw a listing that’s a good fit, you’d love to work there again and ask her to keep an eye out for your name. You could also ask if there’s anything you should know before applying, or if there is anything you should do beyond applying to the portal — that’s a soft ask that does give her an opp to share info or send to her directly.

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      Keep in mind that if you were in the union before, that might still be in your favor, unless they have strong internal candidates. (But some places post internally first, then externally if no one applies or is qualified.)

  3. Not Lazy!*

    When can I start using the flexibility that I was told was part of my new job? I started a new job about a month ago. During the interview process o was told that my position had a certain amount of flexibility as long as I kept generally normal hours. My last job was a very “butts in seats, make up any time you miss no matter how small, and no matter how many extra hours you put in” type of place. This place seems to be a lot more “look, you know what you need to do to get your job done, and as long as you’re not taking advantage of it you know when you need to stay and when you can cut out early”

    I set hours that both I and my boss are happy with, but so far I’ve needed to stay late (15-75 min, but usually about 30 min) 1-2 days per week. A lot of this has been last minute meetings that I would have no way to plan for to adjust my schedule, but there have been huge chunks of time during the day where I’ve had nothing to do because the people training me have been doing their regular jobs, so I’ve basically considered this a wash. I’ve also been consistently staying until the end of my scheduled day, even if I have nothing to do for the last half hour or so, just in case someone stops by and has something to discuss with me.

    I’m starting to have much fuller days now though, so that “extra” 1-2 hours a week will start to actually be “extra” (quotes because I’m salaried exempt) and I’d like to be able to plan to take off an hour early for an appointment or cut out 15 minutes early on a Friday because the weather is nice. There’s a day in July I’m planning to potentially ask to leave a couple of hours early because I’m going away for the weekend and I’d love to beat traffic.

    For what it’s worth there have been several times that others in similar positions have left early, come in late, or had to take a long lunch and no one’s had an issue with it so I don’t think it’s an issue for this company at all, I just feel like I need to find the point where I won’t come across like all I care about is time off

    1. Fiona*

      I think you can start that around 3 months at the earliest (6 months would be better) but I wouldn’t do it beforehand. Like AG says, people don’t have a ton of data on you yet so I wouldn’t leave early just yet for reasons like “the weather is nice.” Something like leaving early because of a trip is fine, but I would ask permission first. It can feel annoying to stay late on things and not get that time back, but if you’re exempt, that’s just part of the job. As people start to see you as reliable and you have stability, you can definitely start to take advantage of the flexible nature of the job.

      1. 1,000 Snails in a Lady Skin*

        +1 to 3 months. In my field / company, first 3 months are really all ramp up so it’s better to keep your nose to the ground during that time. Then once you’re settled in, go for it!

        But things like leaving early a day in July — you should definitely do that and block off your cal! Don’t feel like you can’t take advantage at all (especially during the summer), it’s more about limiting it until you have your feet under you.

    2. ferrina*

      What you’re looking for seems pretty normal. I work a flexible schedule. If I’m ducking out to run an errand, I just put it in my calendar so folks know I’m not available. I adjust my hours to account for busier days and quieter days- if I’m really busy one week, I won’t duck out at all, but then in a few weeks I’ll be quieter, and I might take more time. It’s also pretty normal for me to answer a quick email or such in the evening, so I’ve got a really reasonable turn-around time for my work.

      Every company is different, so I’d just check in with your boss. The day in July sounds like a great opportunity to talk a little more about what flexible hours means for this team.

    3. L. Bennett*

      ThredUp has second-hand clothes, and have good name brand/designer options, if that’s what she wants. I buy almost all my clothes from them and as long as you’re buying “new with tags” or “like new”, they’ve generally worked well and if they don’t then I haven’t paid much for them.

    4. JSPA*

      if you see there’s about to be down time and it’s nice out, let the boss know that you’re stepping out for a walk, but will be turn and come back in if you’re needed for anything.

      If they do the “why are you even telling me this” wave, or say “good idea!” you’re golden. If they say, “oh, I was hoping for help on X,” then you’re no longer sitting there with nothing to do.

      People who come from a flexible setup and go to a flexible set up often use that flexibility from day one! You’ve got a learning curve on exactly how your office does flexibility, so it makes sense to ease in. But don’t wait until you really really need to be elsewhere for 2 hours.

    5. Purple Cat*

      Since you’re still new and training and your trainers are often busy, I think staying in your seat for the “entire” day for now is probably the right call, if there’s no compelling reason to leave early. But 15 minutes on a nice Friday is a compelling reason in my book! Most companies with flexible hours exhibit a lot more flexibility in the summer. Make use of it.

    6. House On The Rock*

      It would be totally appropriate to simply raise this with your boss, especially since it seems like the culture of your new workplace supports it. Ideally your boss would have addressed it during onboarding, but if not, it’s fine to say “if I have an appointment during normal hours, how should I handle that?”.

      When I orient new staff I make sure to tell them the norms around flexing time during the workday/week and assuring them that it’s fine to do so. As a manager, it wouldn’t bother me if people started doing that immediately if needed, and if I saw it as being an issue I’d address it with the specific employee.

      The one maybe yellow flag in your situation is the “last minute meetings at the end of the day’. Maybe these are necessary and valuable, but it also wouldn’t hurt to start setting some early boundaries like “sure, happy to hop on this call but I tend to have after work commitments starting at X time”. Honest I’d want to know that so that I don’t get someone building resentment.

      1. Not Lazy*

        Sorry, that may have been misleading. Last minute to me because people only think to add me at the last minute because of my newness, not last minute to the already established team. It’s fine if I can plan, because I’ll either come in a little later or take a longer lunch (I take half an hour but I’m allowed an hour, so I’ve flexed that option a couple of times when I knew I’d be here late)

    7. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      I recommend you ask your boss:

      Ask first if it is ok to say leave early on Friday if you have worked late 1-2 days during the week.
      She may then reply with more detail about how she wants flexibility to work

    8. Quinalla*

      Once you are out of the training stage, I’d say go for it. If you aren’t sure if you are out of the training stage yet, ask your boss. For your day in July, I’d put it on your calendar now and give a heads up to your boss now and your team when appropriate – depending on coverage needs, culture, etc.

      For our office, folks generally start taking advantage of the flexibility quickly, once they are out of the intense training (first few weeks) and moreso after the less intense training (first few months). But really as long as folks are communicating, it is not a big deal here.

  4. Helena Troy Baker*

    I’m in a weird situation. My direct report can’t afford new shoes based on her current salary and other expenses (we’re not in our salary review cycle until the fall), so she’s had to wear brightly patterned CBGB-themed doc martens to work for the past couple of weeks. My boss is telling me this is unacceptable and against our business casual dress policy. My report admitted to following the Vimes Boots Index Theory and isn’t interested in buying new work shoes until she can afford something long-lasting and professional. I don’t feel like I have any right to push back on this. Any suggestions?

    1. Annony*

      You do have standing to push back. There is a dress code and she is violating it. It is not that she can’t afford shoes. She can’t afford the shoes she wants. She needs to figure it out or face whatever the standard consequence is for not following the dress code. Just clearly state the consequences and let her make her own decisions.

      1. Random Dice*

        Agree. She’s pointing to a useful theory, and it has validity as a theory… but in reality, at this very moment, she’s risking her ability to buy ANY boots, and risking her professional reputation.

        She can buy secondhand shoes if she feels so strongly about not buying cheap crap. I make a good amount of money, and I buy used shoes and clothes all the time.

        In my own theory of the world, I believe it’s environmentally sound, and financially frugal, to divert perfectly good used things out of the trash stream, and not adding additional problematic labor practices to the world. (I like to paint leather shoes*, and am really good at it – so I also upcycle.) But in my application to reality, I make sure the used things I buy are workplace appropriate, by being 1) good quality, 2) good condition or easily enough restored, and 3) brand names I trust.

        *Angelus makes the best leather paint, $6 for the small bottle that will last for several pairs… but you also need the deglazer and the re-glazer (finishing coat). A perfectly fine cheap version is to take off the existing glaze with acetone nail polish, then paint with DecoArt ($4, I like the shiny patent ones, but admittedly am a magpie).

        1. Random Dice*

          Having heard the rest of the story, I hope Helena starts wearing neon punk boots too, in solidarity. That poor worker, she was screwed hard by Helena’s jackass manager, who suuuuuucks.

      2. GythaOgden*

        Yup. Just because one adheres to a particular philosophy doesn’t mean that you can’t compromise — we all have to do that. What she can do is buy a cheap pair and wear them in the office, then use the Doc Martens to walk to and from the office. It’s what I have done for years now, and I did start off in cheap-crap shoes to begin with but was really pleased the day I was able to get good shoes for the office as well as wearing supportive trainers outside.

        Because of a basically permanent injury to my ankle I get the dispensation to wear soft-soled shoes in the office, but they do still have to be black ones — and my organisation is a facilities and maintenance company so if anything their dress code for the people who do the actual work is much less formal than that of the administration.

        Besides which, designer/customised Doc Martens are pretty expensive on their own. My Hoka running shoes, which do give my feet proper support, cost me £150+, and they’re worth their weight in gold, and I sympathise because the cheap crap I’ve worn in the past can be terribly uncomfortable. However, offices are more forgiving on the feet than outdoor activities, so as long as she can actually get a pair of decent shoes, she only has to wear them indoors.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      I got a pair of black flats for $5 from a secondhand store when I was in grad school. I understand her wanting to have good shoes, but I think that doesn’t mean she shouldn’t be getting an interim shoe now. Standing out in a bad way (ie neon doc martens in a conservative office where the big boss has already commented once) will hurt you more in the long run (fired) than wearing a cheap secondhand shoe for 2 months while you scrimp and save for better shoes.

      I’d also consider if *you* could afford to get her 40buck amazon slip on shoes as a gift since you know she’s extremely struggling right now. You are by no means obligated, but if you want to support her you could offer. (Or you could talk to your boss about setting up EAPs for funding such things).

      My city also has a secondhand suit shop, designed for when you are homeless but need something to wear for interviews, people donate and mend donations specifically for this charity shop. It has a lot nicer items than regular ones.

    3. Clorinda*

      She can afford shoes. She just doesn’t want to wear the shoes she can afford. Your boss is telling you to enforce the dress code, so, do it.

    4. ferrina*

      While I’m a big fan of Captain Vimes in general, your direct report needs to get new shoes. This is a standard business requirement, the same way that paying for your own commuting expenses is a standard requirement. There are cheap places to buy shoes, from second-hand stores to fast fashion places (yes, the shoes won’t last long, but she can keep them at the office and only wear them there- this is really normal to change shoes when you get into the office, and wear other shoes in the rest of your life).

      1. Siege*

        Yeah, this is an inaccurate application of the theory, because the actual conditions in this example are: buy a pair of cheaper shoes for short-term use that will keep me in my job OR not buy a pair of cheaper shoes for short-term use and risk my job. The theory as presented is making a comment about poverty as a trap. I would say that buying cheaper shoes and keeping one’s job is the correct application of the theory, because it’s about poverty, not objects.

        1. Random Dice*

          And more to the point – this job is the antidote to the poverty trap. $5 – $10 for used or cheap shoes is part of the deal.

    5. cardigarden*

      Are the docs the only pair of shoes she owns? Are they actually against the dress policy (or does your boss just not like them)? If this is the hill your boss is going to die on, your report should probably go to a thrift store and just find something to tide her over. Otherwise, if she has literally any other pair of shoes, she should just wear those.

    6. Lady Lynn Waterton of Bellashire*

      I guess multiple thoughts here…I absolutely respect VBIT and appreciate her being aware of it. I’ve also never been in this situation so I may be totally off, but why not goodwill some $10 shoes for the meantime? Depending on community, she may or may not have someone she could borrow from. But ultimately, whether you should push back or not is a different question. If you’re in a business casual workplace, that seems pretty far out of the norm and fall is pretty far away. Is she external facing? What are the actual business implications? I’m also conflicted.

      1. I have RBF*

        Okay, I may be the odd one out here, but I was raised never to buy used shoes (because fungus and other issues.) I often have reservations about renting shoes at a bowling alley, even. I actually feel guilty if I send my older shoes that I can’t use any more to a thrift shop, because that implies I’m expecting someone else to do what I won’t.

        The thought of getting shoes from a thrift shop makes me twitch.

        Am I weird in this?

        1. Tio*

          I mean, to each their own, but you can clean old shoes with powders and stuff that make them safe. Bowling alley shoes are a bit different, because you’re not in charge of/able to clean them, but secondhand shoes should be fine. However, this is the sort of low-stakes thing that you don’t really NEED to change your thinking on.

        2. I*

          No. I’m with you. And to add something other than fungus…depending how worn the shoes are, they have gained the imprint of someone’s foot. And that might not exactly match the buyer’s. That can cause problems too.

          I avoid used shoes.

        3. GythaOgden*

          No. After being worn for a while shoes mould themselves to someone’s feet, and to be frank, I’ve had one instance where my outdoor shoes literally fell apart on my feet.

          Mine have had to cope with my wonky feet, wherein I was born with hypermobile joints (actually a feature of neurodivergence, in my case autism, causing issues with my wrists as well and causing the trademark flappy hands) and my left foot in particular was at 45 degrees to where it should have been. It wasn’t noticed and corrected when my bones were still able to be reset without causing issues, and I was able to walk properly on it. I got an assessment after a cruise, where you’re regularly walking from one end of a gigantic ship to the other and going on additional walking tours every other day, and my podiatrist officially showed me just how oddly I was actually walking. (For context I was 36.)

          My mum suggested I got it corrected right away, but I told her in no uncertain terms that the podiatrist — the actual doctor — had said it would cause more problems than it solved, in that resetting adult bones would leave me with a permanent limp. My friend, who does a lot of running and knows all there is to know about foot care as a result, took me to his running shop where they helped me find good supportive shoes that would last

          Fast forward five years, my left ankle actually snaps in two, and my podiatrist’s concerns about having the foot reset come true — I have metal pins in there and can only walk with a cane because I can put very little weight on it and as a result my hips make a fuss if I don’t use a cane. Two years on from the accident, I’ve started to have wish-fulfilment dreams of going out without the walking stick. Even my good Hoka shoes need replacing every two years or so; the Skechers I bought for the office when I was asked to wear black shoes are very comfortable doing short walks around the building and I survived wearing them to an interview where I was going straight there and straight home, having taken the day off entirely. But I’m not sure how good they’d be if I regularly wore them outside.

          So after all that, my shoes are worn until they wear out. They don’t generally get worn once and given away.

          It’s not hygiene that stops me buying secondhand shoes — it’s that most of the time the shoe has been pulled and pushed in various directions and probably won’t be terribly comfortable after being used for any length of time. I’ve tried them on in charity shops but since I know what I need on my feet these days, I just don’t consider it when buying shoes. Fashion shoes that don’t get much wear before or after the secondhand sale might be really cool to buy that way, but ordinary shoes that someone has worn day in, day out, are necessarily now shaped to fit the wearer’s feet rather than being new and ready to be shaped to your foot.

    7. Tex*

      If she really can’t afford it, there should be a Dress for Success or similar non-profit that helps with corporate outfits.

    8. Dust Bunny*

      OMG eBay or Poshmark. I can afford much better shoes now that I’m willing to buy them gently used. An *astonishing* number of people wear expensive shoes like once and then resell them.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Also, CBGB-themed Docs–and I love my Docs–are far enough out there that I have to think she’s sort of intentionally pushing the margins on even business casual. I wear Docs to work but they’re the brown T-straps, not the 17-eyelet boots. This sounds a bit like “I don’t wanna” more than pushing back on an unreasonable business dress expectation.

        1. Siege*

          Yeah, we have no dress code at my current job, and I would maybe wear the ones that say CBGB on them; I would not wear the screenprinted ones at all at my job, and I do intentionally push boundaries with dress.

      2. Cyndi*

        Yeah, I have crap feet, like “I need a bunch of surgery I can’t afford to fix this” crap, and an extremely short list of shoe brands that “work” for me! but I get almost all my shoes from eBay, Poshmark, or ThredUp and can’t remember the last time I paid over $30 for a pair.

      3. Texan In Exile*

        I have several pairs of Ferragamo heels that little old ladies wore once a week to church and their heirs sold for $40 on eBay.

    9. Helewise*

      I assume you’ve checked that she doesn’t NEED to wear expensive shoes for her feet but that this is a preference – my mind went there first because I have bad feet and cheap shoes mean I can’t walk.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Docs aren’t that great on the inside. If she can wear those, there are lots of other shoes she can wear.

        –person with high arches and weird feet

      2. UrsulaD*

        I was wondering that too, I have a weird (really small) size and professional shoes just largely aren’t made for children.

        1. Dasein9*

          Me too. I’ve had surprisingly good (and cheap!) results from Florsheim Kids. I’m fat, which puts more wear and tear on them than kids’ shoes are generally made for, but this brand has worked well.

    10. Chirpy*

      I don’t know if it really helps, but for me, quality shoes are an actual necessity- I have some foot/knee issues (flat arches and prone to plantar fasciitis, old knee injury that can be exacerbated by foot issues) and wearing cheap shoes or the wrong kind of shoes for as little as a day can sometimes leave me in pain for weeks. I also prefer to buy one pair of quality shoes instead of multiple cheap pairs that will fall apart and hurt my feet, because Vimes was right. Maybe you could mention to your boss that the right shoes really are important, because not all shoes work on all feet? Or see if they could do a footwear stipend?

      1. Tio*

        The “right” shoes are probably not some themed patterned shoes; it doesn’t sound like there’s any sort of medical accommodation tied to these shoes, just that she doesn’t want to waste money on cheap shoes that will fall apart soon. Which is understandable, but still not optional.

        I think she should look into thrift stores or non-profit assistance as mentioned above.

      2. NeedRain47*

        same, same, same with the foot problems and I wear a size 11 1/2 wide womens. GOOD LUCK! finding shoes under $100. If I could find ones under $40 I would shove some insoles in them temporarily but no, I can’t just buy some, it’s absolutely not that easy at all. (and I feel super strongly about this, shoe shopping is a night. mare.)

        1. Chirpy*

          Yeah, one of the side effects of low arches is having wide toes and narrow heels. I have a pretty average shoe size, and still can’t find shoes that fit. The wrong shoes are absolutely not doable.

      3. Random Dice*

        I have the same. That’s WHY I buy shoes on eBay. I get much better shoes that way.

    11. Cyndi*

      The VBIT is great as a general theory of how economics works. It’s not a personal behavioral philosophy and it isn’t reasonable, or workable, to just never buy budget-friendly versions of things because you “follow the VBIT.”

      1. Jaydee*

        Right. It’s a great way of understanding the trade off between price and quality, the economic burdens on lower-income people, and that often you’ll end up paying more in the long run for a cheaper item now. But it can’t be a personal financial philosophy to never buy things until you can afford the highest quality possible thing. Sometimes you just can’t wait that long. Other times it actually makes more sense to buy multiple of the cheaper thing even if it ends up being slightly more expensive overall. You can make “buy higher quality items” a value, but you have to have some flexibility.

      2. Uranus Wars*

        Or, I guess, if I were only going to invest in one pair of really good boots/shoes to go with everything I would get something that was more neutral. Not to stifle someones personality, but it just seems more practical to me?

    12. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I’m not sure what sort of price point she’s working with at the moment, but I’ve got a pair of simple women’s flats I got from Sketchers that are well into their 3rd year of life. The only reason they will likely soon be consigned to the great shoebox in the sky is because I managed to trip and fall and tear one of the toes in a way that will be hard to patch. Those didn’t cost me more than $55 or so at the time new out of the box, not counting any sales or coupons. I’m not sure what level of shoe index your report is looking at, but even something from a relatively low shoe level should still last you for a few years in a business casual office (it’s not like she’ll be going hiking with them!).

    13. The Person from the Resume*

      She needs to stop violating the dress code. How she chooses to do so is up to her.

      She could cover up the bright pattern on her Docs with paint or marker. That is not cost effective in the long run, but it’s cheap and expediant. She can also buy cheap professsional shoes now and needs them only to last only long enough to save up for quality long-lasting pair. Thrift stores are a great suggestion.

      How she chooses to spend her money is up to her, but she is the one that managed her life and money that she ended up not having work appropriate shoes required for her job but does own a pair brightly patterned CBGB-themed doc martens. And let’s be honest, Docs are long lasting but a lot of its cost is for the esteemed brand name; there are cheaper quality, equally long lasting boots avaible that just aren’t quite as cool as Docs.

      Her choice at this point is spending money on less expensive shoes or losing her job.

      1. Meep*

        This comment is really unkind and short-sighted. Life happens. You can go from affording Doc Martens to not. Or they could be a gift. There are a dozen reasons, but instead you are making assumptions and attacking her. Shame on you.

        1. light*

          If she can afford the dress code, she can include dress code shoes. What’s unkind is to accept her excuses for not following the dress code, particularly with all the second-hand stores around. In the real working world, we follow standards; as long as they aren’t harmful or criminal, there is nothing wrong with doing so. People aren’t owed fulfillment of their excuses. If she doesn’t like the dress code, she’s free to leave.

        2. Random Dice*

          But it was a reasonable comment, that one of the options available to her is to paint her Docs.

          If that’s all she can afford, then how can she make them work for the dress code?

          Because not having a salary is far worse than not expressing one’s hobby in an office setting.

      2. Chirpy*

        I can buy thrift store dress pants for $10. I once bought a two piece women’s suit, a blouse, and an office appropriate overcoat for $30 TOTAL. I cannot get the same quality of shoes for that price.

    14. Helena Troy Baker*

      Thank you for the replies, everyone! There are some really good suggestions here.

      She did mention looking on ThredUp (she’s generally a thrifter, but not for shoes) but the cost to ship to our country was $20.

      Some background information – our manager is newer than her, and has made a lot of dress code changes over the past few months. She’s not customer facing but has add to acclimatize to the changes and buy a lot of new clothes. He also cut her promised moving stipend in half — she moved cross country for this job and was told that she’d be fully reimbursed for her moving expenses after a solid year of employment, but the manager reviewed the budget for the fiscal year, advised that was infeasible, and offered her half the promised amount as an olive branch. I’m really worried this will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. To the person who pointed out that these specific shoes may be somewhat of a statement of pushing back; I somewhat agree with you but I find it hard to blame her.

      1. Betty*

        Wow, your manager sucks. Refusing to honor an agreement to reimburse thousands of dollars??? And then having the gall to make her footwear a hill to die on?

      2. Nomic*

        I’m sorry, he did what? Reneged on a promised moving expenses! That’s pretty indefensible IMO.

        It sounds like all of these are new, unexpected business expenses, and on top of absolutely screwing her over (also known as LYING to her about promised payments), I’m moving to her corner in this fight.

        1. Helena Troy Baker*

          It wasn’t an intentional lie, to be fair. Our previous manager was very hands off and made big, inadvisable promises, such as this one. Our new manager has to carry that and try to make everyone happy.

          1. Disabled trans lesbian*

            Then new manager has to make it clear that those changes only apply to new hires. Boss is indefensibly in the wrong here and honestly I hope your report finds a new job with a boss who does not leave people in the hole for thousands of dollars.

          2. Random Dice*

            Please don’t defend the new manager. IT IS THEIR LIE, even if it wasn’t originally their promise. I mean – would you in a million years ever do this to anyone? You wouldn’t, because it’s monstrous.

            Please promise us that you’ll write back to us when she quits and tell us aaallll about it.

            #TeamCBCGboots

          3. Chirpy*

            She accepted the job in good faith that the conditions/benefits/pay would be as stated. The old manager may have made a poor choice, but the company still has to uphold those conditions for her. You can’t change someone’s pay retroactively.

          4. Enai*

            “Our new manager has to carry that and try to make everyone happy.”

            Well, your dress – code – bucking employee isn’t happy. Make that the manager’s problem or lose her. I don’t mean fire your employee – she’s going to leave as soon as she realizes that the new boss sucks (and doesn’t honor agreements) and will not change.

            Also: if new boss doesn’t honor this agreement, what is the next thing that’s just not feasible? Taking pto? Health insurance? Free weekends? Is your company even solvent for daily expenses?

        2. The Person from the Resume*

          Not really defending this guy, but it sounds like the old manager wasn’t going to make good on his promise to pay moving expenses after 1 years employment either.
          (1) New manager reviewed the budget for the fiscal year, advised that was infeasible i.e. it was never budgetted for in the first place. Our previous manager was very hands off and made big, inadvisable promises,
          (2) It wasn’t a legally binding contract agreement so the old manager just said stuff and didn’t do anything to back it up by putting it in his budget.

      3. The Person from the Resume*

        That certainly puts a different spin on it. But the new manager is the manager, and I think it helps her if you have the talk that she needs to comply or work on her exit plan (ie job hunt).

        And you do have to wonder if she have no other shoes that are less ostentacious and closer to the dress code than she’s been wearing even if it’s only long enough for her to find a new job.

      4. ursula*

        Oh wow, no wonder she’s pushing back on spending more of her own money on your company’s timeline for items that aren’t really consequential for how she does her job! Your company literally owes her money, and possibly a lot of it. (Not sure you can unilaterally amend contractual agreements like “If you come work here we will give you this moving stipend as part of your compensation,” but ok)

        I generally think that when it comes to making employees spend their own money for work purposes, you should be as gracious and flexible as possible (within the limits where it impacts the organization). I think you have a boss problem more than an employee problem.

      5. Busy Bee*

        Offering half of the promised amount is not an olive branch, it’s a slap in the face. Was this promise made in writing?

        Your boss has a lot of nerve to want her to change shoes after screwing her over.

        1. Busy Bee*

          Replying to myself, does your grandboss (and someone in finance) know the promised reimbursement was cut in half? Something is hinky.

        2. JSPA*

          I should have read this part first! Is this even legal??? Even in an at will state, agreements are binding (and an agreement does not have to be a written agreement to be a binding agreement– This sounds like something multiple people knew about, not a he said / she said situation.)

        3. Zap R.*

          Yeah, this is wild. Like, if the promise was made in writing, she may have legal standing to get your boss in big trouble here.

      6. WellRed*

        Well with this new information, I don’t think you should make her buy new shoes. She’s just been treated awful by the new manager so, 1. Eff him and his dress codes 2. She’s probably looking to leave the job.

      7. CommanderBanana*

        “He also cut her promised moving stipend in half — she moved cross country for this job and was told that she’d be fully reimbursed for her moving expenses after a solid year of employment, but the manager reviewed the budget for the fiscal year, advised that was infeasible, and offered her half the promised amount as an olive branch.”

        Yeah, I’m not taking anything this manager tells me seriously.

        1. Donkey Hotey*

          Yeah, with this piece of information, I’m willing to risk the conjecture police and suggest this is her push back against getting taken advantage of. She’s done a ton of compromising, lost a lot of money promised to her, and the boss is still harping on her boots? To borrow from John Scalzi, that’s “FU, Pay me.”

          1. Margaret Cavendish*

            Yeah, I”m glad I read the additional context before commenting! I’m solidly on Team Docs in that case.

            Helena Troy Baker, you might want to say something like this: “Grandboss is the biggest turd in the world; I agree with you that he’s being ridiculous about the boots; and you should know he might actually fire you over this.” (*assuming those last two parts are true, of course – I think we can all agree on the first one.)

            Just so she knows what the stakes are, so she can make an informed decision about how hard she wants to fight this battle.

      8. Chirpy*

        Oof, in this case, yeah, I think maybe the boss needs to hear the connection between breaking that promise and screwing her over on pay/moving costs, because she’s really out a lot of money right now. I wouldn’t want to spend any money at all if that was the case, either. Let her wear the Docs, it’s small price to pay for this big of a slap in the face.

      9. Zap R.*

        Okay, this changes things a little. Your manager sounds like a goof and I think the refusal to change her shoes is more about your coworker’s (very reasonable!) frustration with your manager’s goofery.

        That said, are Dr. Scholl’s Fast Flats an option? They’re relatively cheap at the drugstore and fold up into a little bag. If your coworker wears them only at work, they should last until she has the $200-odd bucks for more conservative Docs.

      10. Rex Libris*

        Your manager sucks, but it sounds like they suck in exactly the sort of way that will consider this insubordination if it isn’t addressed, now that they’ve made it an issue. Tell your report to get a $30 pair of black canvas anything to wear in the office until they can afford what they actually want. Shoes will be even more out of budget if unemployed.

      11. Siege*

        That changes things significantly. I stand by what I said about this being a misapplication of the VBIT, but … your manager has a stick somewhere in his anatomy, and it’s not her problem that a previous manager made a promise that she relied on and the current manager has chosen to renege on it after she relied on it. I hope she has it in writing and the laws of your country allow her to take action on it.

        1. Unkempt Flatware*

          I’d seriously start wearing boot guards like construction workers do inside your house. Problem solved. Stop looking at my damn boots.

      12. Justme, The OG*

        Your manager sucks and if I were your employee I wouldn’t buy new shoes either.

      13. Random Dice*

        Oh my gosh WHAT?!?!

        She might want to contact a lawyer.

        That’s utter horse(bleep).

      14. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

        Your company has reneged on a promised payment that is likely thousands of $.
        And changed to a formal dress code.

        She is likely job-hunting and doesn’t want to sink more $ into a bad job.

        I’d still warn her if you think the shoes put her job in jeopardy – she may be broke after her unexpected moving expenses and would want to stay in this job until she finds a better one.

      15. Cyndi*

        This is a completely different and much worse problem than the way you originally described it, and I would probably react to it by wearing obnoxious boots to work every day, too.

    15. This Old House*

      I wonder if you could ask your boss for a grace period of X amount of time to allow her to continue saving. I suppose you could insist on this as a violation of the dress code – and will have to if your boss says so – but it seems counterproductive. It sounds like your direct report did have acceptable work shoes until a couple of weeks ago, so I’m guessing she had done exactly what everyone recommended and bought cheap shoes and then they fell apart. Insisting she buy more cheap shoes just means she’ll be in the same position in another couple of months. (And to each their own on used shoes, but I’m a hard no ever since I got a miserable, intractable, and expensive case of athlete’s foot from a pair of used shoes, and I never recommend them.)

    16. L. Bennett*

      ThredUp has second-hand clothes, and have good name brand/designer options, if that’s what she wants. I buy almost all my clothes from them and as long as you’re buying “new with tags” or “like new”, they’ve generally worked well and if they don’t then I haven’t paid much for them.

    17. Alex*

      Are brightly colored boots really against the policy? I guess I don’t really understand what is wrong with them. I never heard of them before and I just looked them up. They look like solid boots to me, just brightly colored. As far as I can tell there’s nothing offensive about them–they are just brightly colored. If these were more “conventional” brightly colored shoes, like a brightly patterned flat, would that be against the policy? Or is it that her overall “vibe” is punk-ish and your grandboss is just focusing on the boots because she doesn’t like them?

      1. Helena Troy Baker*

        Her vibe is punk-ish. She’s done great work since being hired and has acclimated without complaining to the dress code changes up until now. Our previous manager didn’t care; our new one does. I personally didn’t care when she came into work with ripped jeans and in graphic hoodies, because she sits in a back office all day.

        1. Dasein9*

          Yeah, this sounds like the manager is being unreasonable – your report accepted a job on certain terms, including corporate culture and dress code expectations on top of the moving expenses, and the company has reneged on a lot here.

          Yes, companies change and requirements change, but this is quite a lot of change to expect an employee to just roll over for.

    18. JSPA*

      She has options. Thrift store. Or $8 shoes, until she can afford the good boots. I mean… if she’s also sleeping in her car and using the food bank, I’d push back against your boss. But if her income isn’t meeting her very tailored life plan for only buying $300 shoes or $600 boots? Tough.

      1. Rainy*

        This employee might be able to buy shoes at a thrift store or $8 shoes (I couldn’t do either, but luckily for the rest of you, you aren’t me), but at this point it sounds like she’s underpaid, spent most or all of her savings to move for a job that didn’t reimburse her, and then was told that the dress code has changed and she has to buy a bunch of clothes.

        If I were in that spot and I had boots that had been perfectly acceptable until a sudden unfunded mandate about what I wore on my feet, I’d be pretty mad about it.

        You’re acting like this employee is being a diva about this, but it sounds to me more like the commenter’s manager is an asshole and this employee is sick of it.

        1. Siege*

          I couldn’t either. I used to be able to just squeak by with a 12W women’s but my cardiac edema put an end to that and I prefer the fit of a 13W women’s.

          Strangely, they are never on thrift store shelves!

          But, with that said, the average foot size is a lot smaller than mine, so I’ve just taken the thread as “not all people can eat sandwiches” and not worried about it. If the employee had really unusually-sized feet, OP would probably have led with that because it’s a significant problem. Most people don’t become hobbyist cobblers.

          1. Rainy*

            I think the thing that bothers me is that I can imagine being told “just buy some shoes at a thrift store, or get some $8 flats”, and while I could afford either of those options as a monetary cost, I cannot afford what it would do to my body, and the absolute *ableism* of it is just infuriating.

            1. Chirpy*

              This, I once had a flare-up of plantar fasciitis from wearing bad shoes at work, and when mentioning to my boss that my feet hurt he just countered “everyone’s feet hurt at the end of the day”. I couldn’t get him to understand that this was “my feet are molten bricks of pain below the ankle, I can barely stand up” type pain, not just “my feet are tired”.

    19. My Useless 2 Cents*

      Looks like I’m taking an unpopular position but if it is not a safety issue, then the company can either wait until she can buy the shoes she wants or gift her with the “proper” shoes (and deal with any “but, but, but I had to buy my own shoes” comments coworkers make). A dress code should not beggar an employee, nor should it force an employee to make a disability disclosure against their will and mere aesthetics shouldn’t trump even the possibility that is the case. Other than cost, you don’t know why employee is making due or holding out for the “right” shoes.

      **Yes, I’m in the crowd of people commenting with feet problems where the wrong type of shoe for a short time could leave me limping around and effects my mobility for weeks on end. Also, part of my feet issues originated by wearing shoes from a second hand store. I do not advocate anyone getting used shoes, even for the short term.

      1. My Useless 2 Cents*

        reading further comments, changing the dress code mid stream and reneging on thousands of dollars in reimbursement are additional reasons the manager should get over it. It’s starting to sound like manager is singling out coworker for bullying!

        1. fgcommenter*

          Even without the additional context later provided, your position was the correct one.

      2. Rainy*

        We can be unpopular together. I don’t wear used shoes for the same reason my shoes tend to be very expensive–I have some foot issues, anatomically, that mean that shoes that have been broken in by another person are a no-go, and cheap shoes absolutely destroy my feet and then inevitably aggravate my joint problems. I also can’t wear shoes made of plastic (vinyl, PU, what-have-you).

    20. Helena Troy Baker*

      Further update: She gave her four weeks notice. She’s sticking around long enough to complete the final touches on the project she was hired to manage and then she’s out. Thanks for all the comments, we ended up reading them together in my office this afternoon. She was particularly horrified at the suggestion she paint over her boots! (They were a gift and don’t really reflect her typical spending habits.) But then we had a really fun discussion on VBIT and left early for a Starbucks run. I’m going to miss her but I’ll probably end up looking for a new job myself in the coming months, this whole thing was pretty eye-opening.

      1. WellRed*

        Woo hoo! Excellent update for her and I love that you and she bonded over the comments today. I’m willing to get these changes from the new manager are the start of a downward spiral for your company. Also, any chance these changes affect women disproportionately?

        1. RetailEscapee*

          I hope your boss is proud of themself, losing a good employee over a pair of shoes after effing them out of big money and relocating them. Great job.

  5. Bored Newbie*

    I recently started a new job at about 50% of the responsibility of my old job, really even less right now as I’m still learning the company. I feel like there’s a lot of opportunity with this position but I’m kind of hamstrung at the moment because it’s a new company, a new market for me, and a shift in position from what I’ve known my entire professional career. I find myself spending too much time in my office scrolling through Reddit or reading a book on my phone because there isn’t a ton for me to do right now until I’m up to speed on things, but I can only spend so long reading training material. I also apparently have someone from corporate coming out to talk to/train me in the next month or so and in theory I’ll have more grip after that, but I feel super unproductive right now.

    1. Lady Danbury*

      This is the perfect time to cram in all of the online training courses that you’ve been meaning to do but haven’t had time for. Since it’s a new market, I would look for industry focused training as well as stuff like coursera. I would also look into general business/career development resources as well as “fun” stuff that isn’t necessarily linked to your specific training path. I also have a loooooooooong reading list of career/business books, so that could be productive as well. And for the optics, I would read on your computer, not your phone.

      1. Bored Newbie*

        I have no idea how you manage to read business/career books lol. I’ve tried a couple of times and I can’t get into any.

        1. GythaOgden*

          Probably best to treat it as an assignment for work. Or if you can do them on work computers, more interactive courses like from Udemy would be a good idea — they’re business-like but engaging and impart good quality knowledge.

    2. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Was this a nesting issue or a separate comment? If so, I’m curious what the feeling of being unproductive feels like to you. Do you have a sense of that?

      1. Bored Newbie*

        It’s mostly that I feel like I should be DOING something all the time and the amount of downtime I have right now is insane. For example today I’m probably going to be actually working for about 3-4 hours out of an 8 hour day because I just have so little to do. Today is kind of extreme, but usually I’m probably only working for about 6 hours a day.

        I’m readjusting my metric because at my old job I barely stopped moving and was incredibly burnt out, so I know that some downtime isn’t bad, but this feels extreme.

        1. Willow*

          Six hours a day seems pretty reasonable for me, if you consider spending eight hours at work and take out time for breaks, chatting with coworkers, etc.

        2. Too old*

          I am in the same position, and almost a year in. it is a Huge adjustment! I taught myself a lot of excel and now into podcasts. I have asked for and been given some extra things to do and that helped. good luck!!

        3. Miette*

          I hate when this happens. Also, there’s only so long a person can do training modules online, man. Usually when I’m in this kind of position, I’d ask my manager if they’ve got anything for me to do.

          Just poke your head in and say, “I finished the Pederson file, and won’t be super busy again until Jane gets it back to me–is there something I can take off your plate?” I know you may not be trained up enough for some of the work, but maybe not all? Bonus: Not only will you now have something to do, but your boss will think you’re very conscientious.

    3. Regina Philange*

      I think this is a normal part of starting a new job in many places — there is a period while you are still learning what, exactly, you need to be working on, you don’t know where anything is, and you don’t yet have a backlog of “I’ll work on this when things are slow” projects. For me, it’s the most frustrating part of starting a new job! I usually spend a lot of time exploring network files (you can find some good information that way!). You’ll miss this downtime later on!

      1. Bored Newbie*

        I keep reminding myself of that lol

        I think the other thing that’s getting to me is that I’m used to being an “expert” in my role. Like I’m used to having people who were at my company for 20 years come talk to me because I was the one with information (for the record I was there for about 6 years and just got to really dig into things). It’s weird not to know the answers to what feels like basic questions.

        I’ve been digging through old stuff and while some of it is great a lot of it is gobeltygook because it’s information without context. Things like “Rob to follow up on deliverable with Gene” but Rob and Gene don’t work here so I can’t decipher it. Or old spreadsheets that I think would be really really useful for a project I’m working on, if only the data had labels.

        1. linger*

          It seems like part of what you need to find out is who, if anyone, holds that kind of institutional knowledge at your new org, and how much of that you need to absorb for your new role. Knowledge transfer can be very time-consuming, especially if (i) no detailed and up-to-date documentation exists, and (ii) management is unclear on what knowledge is held where, and (iii) management is unclear on what is needed for successful performance of, and/or development in, a role.
          So: does your management have a clear plan for what information your role requires, and where/who you can obtain it from? Or do you feel you’re being left to work that out for yourself too?

    4. Spearmint*

      I’m in a similar boat right now, but I think it’s pretty normal. So many teams have very poor documentation, and so the only way to learn so through trainings and osmosis, which take time. My boss even told me he didn’t think I’d be able to work fully independently until I’ve been here for 6 months.

      I am spending a decent amount of time on Reddit and AAM, but I’m also trying to do some professional development (in my case, practicing coding using company data).

  6. Reached dead end in Government Job*

    So my whole career so far post school (10 years) has been in Government or Government adjacent roles. My role is usually a mid-entry level, I get projects done, work with other departments to address problems, etc.

    But in my current role, I’ve realized there isn’t any way forward, in moving upward, with hiring freezes and virtually no salary cost of living adjustments.

    For background, the department is tiny, with a director and a colleague at my level, as well as an administrative assistant.
    Our department is a more niche role compared to other more technical departments, and I don’t mind as I’m not too technical myself.

    I have a Project Manager role in title only, but actually was so bored in Project Manager seminars I took, as it was common sense, or didn’t really apply to my line of work (i.e. Gantt charts wouldn’t make sense in my work environment).

    I’m at a crossroads now….I think Communications would be interesting, and I like corporate governance (how companies function), and working with external partners, but don’t know how to get how out this career rut.

    Had anyone else experienced this situation and made the move to leave a government job?

    1. Overeducated*

      You could look for other government jobs since you’d be an internal hire, even outside your department (unless your entire city/state/agency is under a hiring freeze…that’s rough). Sometimes it’s easier to switch jobs within a sector than try to make two big jumps at once. Communications, public affairs, partnerships – governments have those roles! For areas somewhat analogous to corporate governance you could look into workforce and business planning, compliance, and risk management/internal controls.

      Also, I too do project management, and that’s the reason I find project management seminars and training boring as well. It’s basically learning jargon for making the common sense stuff we already do day-to-day sound more specialized. That doesn’t mean I find the work itself boring, though. So maybe if you found a higher level project management role in an area you’re interested in, that would be worth applying to.

      1. Chutney Jitney*

        Yeah, this was my suggestion as well. First, switch to a different agency, then move out of government if you still want to.

  7. ERG leader*

    I am an Employee Resource Group leader at my company. I am frustrated that others at my company feel entitled to my time and energy.

    I get quite a few emails saying “can you come speak/ table at X, it would be great exposure for your group!”

    It’s frustrating! I’m busy – I’m doing this entirely on top of my day job. But I think my biggest issue is people’s attitude of entitlement. It’s not “would you possibly be available?”, they expect me to be. (And I get that some of this just comes with the territory – some of it I’m super happy to do! – but showing up to five different events in a month is more than I can do.)

    I thought about making a form where people can request the group’s time and expertise. In the form, explain that while we’re all passionate about furthering inclusion, we’re all doing this on top of our day jobs and we can’t accommodate every request; we need X lead time on requests; if we can’t help you, try Y and Z outside organizations. I don’t know if making people use this request process would just make things harder/ more fraught, though.

    Any ideas on how to deal with this?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      I think you should talk to your whole group about how to handle this. Your group needs to decide what your policies are, is it first come first serve with a cap of X events per month, is it applications then we pick X events per month, is it we seek resources to expand, is it we don’t attend more than X events but we do send flyers to all other requests, is it making an online resource with business cards pointing to the site, etc. Also talk to whoever founded your group, does the company have resources to further spread the employee program?

    2. Chestnut Mare*

      Are there consequences for saying no to requests? If not, I would just do what you can/want to do, and politely decline the other requests.

      I also don’t see an appreciable difference between “can you do this?” and “would you possibly be available?” and don’t see the former as entitlement, just casual language.

    3. Jaunty Banana Hat*

      A form might make the people who are just throwing an email at you pause before proceeding forward–often when people have to take an extra step, they’re not always going to take that step. And it would give you something to respond back with.

    4. RecoveringSWO*

      I think you definitely have the right idea. I’ve seen a couple ways to tackle these types of requests and while a uniform response/policy helps, a request form works even better. A simple google doc would suffice, but the key is that you’re requiring more effort from the requestor to explain how the event would fulfill your goals. This helps prevent a “good idea fairy” from expecting a response to their short email requests of your time and reiterates the idea that appearances are limited.

      So in practice, you have a saved response to all email requests that links the requestor to a google doc where they have to fill out information about the event including a paragraph on why it would be beneficial. State that appearances are limited and picked from those submitted. Also think about including a deadline (x days before event) for submissions.

    5. I should really pick a name*

      Would it help if regardless of the language they used, you interpreted it as “would you possibly be available?” and responded as if that’s what they said?

    6. Qwerty*

      This is a pretty strong response – are there other things at your job that you are frustrated with? Or do you feel like the rest of the ERG is not pulling its weight?

      These requests are really normal. I don’t see entitlement – it sounds like they are trying to engage with the group!

      You can decline in a friendly manner. You can spread out the event among other group members (doesn’t even have to be leadership members!) Personally I’d have some form response thanking them for their interest and that I’d discuss it with the group at the next meeting and have a response for them by X. Then at the meeting, divvy up the requests or ask for volunteers and tell people “Jane will be representing us at Y” or “sorry, we had a lot of requests this month so scheduling didn’t work out”

      While I like the idea of a form, all of the caveats and explanations aren’t going to go over well. It would be more professional just to present it as aggregating requests to a shared email address so they can all be reviewed in a timely manner. It also will not stop people from emailing you directly.

    7. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      People may not realise this is on top of your day job.
      I’m surprised a responsibility like this doesn’t have a certain number of hours per week allocated.

      Your idea is good to start a system for requests and explain it is because these are extra hours you are volunteering.

  8. Uhhh*

    I was already looking for a new job when I was let go due to a re-org this week. I had a second-round interview with the hiring manager of a Series D start-up. However, I have noticed a few things that concern me. I actually have more experience in our field than the hiring manager (me: 11 years, her: 5) and she used to do the role I’m interviewing for.

    I didn’t have time to ask her more about her management experience, but I have a feeling it’s her first time being a manager. She asked a question about a specific detail that I had that exact detail and information on the first line of my resume. When I asked her something regarding dates of 1 month, 6 months and 1 year, she gave me her answers in 1 month, 60 day and 90 day timestamps instead. When I asked about monthly KPIs, she admitted sometimes they are not met due to seasonality and that she can make not meeting goals more of a catastrophe than it needs to be.

    Despite my reservations, I plan to continue with the interview process. However, if I still had a job, I would not pursue this opportunity. I do not want to accept the position just because it is the first option available, as I have several other phone screenings scheduled and have applied for ten other jobs this week. While I do need something quickly, I do have several months of savings.

    Can anyone offer advice on how to handle this situation?

    1. Jisoo*

      If you get an offer, I’d see if you can reach out to any of her current employees (or if you can’t get any of them, maybe someone who has worked for/with her in the past_ to see what their experience has been like working for the company. I agree that this doesn’t necessarily sound like someone who would be great to work for just from the interview, but maybe you will gain more insight from talking to some folks.

      If you decide this isn’t a job you’d really enjoy, whether or not to take it will depend on how confident you are you can find another job that you like more in the next few months of savings you have. That’s really only something you can determine from the specifics of your situation.

    2. Cyborg Llama Horde*

      I wouldn’t read much into the specific detail on your resume or the timelines. Would she ideally have seen that on your resume? Yes. But I don’t think it’s a huge red flag that she asked about it. And for the timelines, I could easily see her thinking, “Applicant is asking about onboarding timelines; I will give them the information about the first three months that we have made plans for.” If the one-year info specifically is important to you, I think it would have been fine to follow up with something like, “And what do you see further from that — six months or a year?”

      In terms of being a new manager, you could ask for more details on her career history and management style, and decide how bad that’s going to be.

      Catastrophizing about KPIs does sound unpleasant, and if you have a follow-up interview you could ask about that directly: “You said that you have some tendency to overreact to not meeting KPIs due to circumstances outside of the team’s control. Can you talk more about how your handle that and what you’re doing to change? I don’t like being penalized for things I don’t have any control over.”

    3. Parenthesis Guy*

      Frankly, I don’t see any issues with her behavior based on what you described.

      1. Rosie*

        The one issue I see is “she can make not meeting goals more of a catastrophe than it needs to be”. That sounds like it could potentially be a big pain in the neck come deadline time. I would definitely probe into what she means by that more (if you haven’t already).

        1. Parenthesis Guy*

          “When I asked about monthly KPIs, she admitted sometimes they are not met due to seasonality and that she can make not meeting goals more of a catastrophe than it needs to be.”

          I understood that to mean that she’s going to have your back if you really can’t meet your KPIs due to valid reasons. I see others have understood that sentence differently, so maybe I’m misreading it. I agree that could be a potential issue with the company (although it’s a startup so that’s part of the territory) but not with the manager.

  9. LinkedIn is Facebook now?*

    I’m kinda annoyed with LinkedIn and how it’s like Facebook now. Like the silly pet posts, or the inspirational kid post, or the fawning over someone posts.

    Does anyone have LinkedIn Pro (the version you pay for, whatever it is called)?

    Like, does it help with networking (which I’m horrible at)? What’s the advantage compared to the basic version?

    1. mreasy*

      The only difference when I had premium (work paid) was that I could message people outside of my connection network. When I was in biz dev, this helped me reach people whose email contacts I didn’t have. I haven’t renewed it as I’m no longer in that type of role. The feed content was the same though!

    2. rayray*

      I absolutely hate so much what LinkedIn has become. I signed up back in 2010 or 2o11 when I was in college, and the whole point in the website was for networking and job postings. Now it’s a bunch of people trying to be a “LinkedIn Influencer” posting gag-worthy posts, most of which are probably fictional – so long as they include buzzwords like “work hard” “determined” “never give up”, they’ll get likes and show up in your newsfeed.

      I really wish these people would stop doing that, I just want to see posts where people can post about job openings or post if they are looking for work so that we can help each other out. My feed is about 95% dramatic stories about hiring a pregnant woman and begging for a pat on the back for doing so or wannabe-influencers begging for engagement or followers.

      I have used LinkedIn premium a couple times on free trials. I wouldn’t pay for it honestly.

      1. L. Bennett*

        Not to mention all the recruiters with BS stories and “inspirational” posts about how they fight for candidates when the reality is they probably are ghosting candidates and sending out mass mailers to people. By it’s nature, LinkedIn is about self-promotion, but it’s at a level right now that is so cringe.

        1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

          The “I took a chance on someone that no one else would hire” posts are the worst. Second worst: anything written in the broetry style.

      2. Mimmy*

        I just want to see posts where people can post about job openings or post if they are looking for work so that we can help each other out.

        Oh god YES!! The career services at the school I just got my masters in really pushes LinkedIn. In the virtual training I attended a few months ago, they talked up how it can really help if you comment on others’ posts or share posts yourself. All I see in my feed is posts by the pages I follow or people in my network reposting others’ posts, most of which are interesting but not really useful. Job postings and posts from people seeking work just get buried.

    3. Anna O'Connell*

      I did have Facebook Pro while I was last in a job search. It was absolutely NOT worth the money to me.

    4. LCH*

      I recently tried out Premium through the free trial. I can’t say I see a difference other than I can see who looks at my profile.

    5. Jaunty Banana Hat*

      Just want to say that I agree! It’s all sorts of stuff that I have no interest in seeing…

    6. Lady Danbury*

      I absolutely abhor what linkedin has become. I mostly pop in to search for jobs, then pop back out. I don’t even use facebook anymore, so I definitely don’t want FB on LI. Premium doesn’t nothing to refine your feed, so I wouldn’t pay for it if that’s your goal. I’ve done a few trials and I honestly don’t think it really helped, other than allowing me to browse people’s profiles anonymously (you can do that with a regular profile, but then you can’t see who’s browsing yours).

    7. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      Pro is not really worth it, IMO. But there’s usually a free trial so you could test it out.

      But yes, it’s become a hotbed of overt humble bragging. Lest we forget the Resume Cake woman and her poor Instacart delivery driver. The number of people who thought it was a brilliant idea was disturbing.

    8. Purely Allegorical*

      I used the Pro version for a while during a job hunt. Some features were useful, like being able to see who the hiring manager was for specific jobs, or reaching out to more people you’re not connected to, or seeing more data about who is interested in your profile or how you stack up against other applicants.

      It also gives you access to LinkedIn Learning — there was a specific cert I wanted that someone had put up a lot of training videos about.

      So I would rec it ONLY if you have a very specific thing you need to get out of it for a short period of time. Dont get it just to get it.

    9. Ashley Armbruster*

      My “favorite” (arrrggggg!!!) part is how people put things like “Father”, “Dog Mom”, etc. in their headlines. The worst I was “Twin”……………………..

    10. Dark Macadamia*

      Paying for the premium version isn’t going to change what people choose to post!

      I basically only have a LinkedIn profile so there’s something work-appropriate and identifiably me in search results.

    11. Donkey Hotey*

      I read recently someone say that “If they list their astrological sign, it’s Twitter; if they list their Meyers-Briggs, it’s LinkedIn.” and that summed it up pretty well for me.

    12. WoodswomanWrites*

      This is an interesting thread to me because what I see on LinkedIn sounds much different than others. LinkedIn is an important tool for my profession, and I don’t see posts about people’s pets, personal stuff, etc.

      Maybe it’s because of the field I’m in? Or whom I connect with? I don’t know.

      I will say that almost without exception, I only accept invitations to connect with people I have met either in person or virtually. Likewise, I invite people to connect if I’ve already had a professional interaction with them, with the exception of a few friends.

      I typically post to LinkedIn a couple times a month, either announcing job openings or highlighting an accomplishment of my organization, press we’ve received, etc. I only post if I think the topic will be interesting to a large portion of my 900+ connections and generally have widespread views and responses.

      I’m curious about why my experience is so different than what’s described here.

      1. Ned a good default*

        It really comes down to what other people are sharing and posting.

        I have a few HR friends and they would share the inspirational bs stories.
        I friended a few recruiters when I was job hunting and they would share the “Helping out the down trodden person looking for work.”

        I started clicking ignore on many of these posts and sometimes just unfollow people if they buy into the silliness.

      2. Fungible token*

        Same- I find a lot of great events and articles related to issues my nonprofit deals with- I don’t get any kittens or inspirational quotes- thank god.

      3. WestsideStory*

        I don’t see the barfy posts but do see a lot of posturing. Some in my field seem to desperately want to be LI influencers so I’m starting to see more posts of people attempting Deep Thoughts On Our Industry, rather than actual news they could share.

    13. Little Sushi Roll*

      I have a LinkedIn question for those who have posted jobs through it.
      When I search “sport” in the jobs section, I get up to 200 results back per day – with about 20 legitimate sports jobs, 40 sports-adjacent roles (sports retail roles, etc), and then the rest is so irrelevant that I’m puzzled how it got there.
      Ignoring promoted roles, I’m guessing there’s a tick box for “broadcast my job in front of people who identify/search for X topic”?

    14. Nonprofiteer*

      I work in a biz dev-type role, so have to use LinkedIn daily. One small thing that has improved my feed is blocking the major cringe influencers, so I don’t see any shares of their posts about hiring the guy with no head when no one else would take a chance.

      Sadly, the paid versions do not offer filtering on your feed.

  10. Susan*

    I’m a manager and I have a few employees who frequently miss work due to sick kids or spouses. I generally give people the benefit of the doubt and don’t question their time off, but it can put us in a bind.

    One employee called in sick at the last minute this morning and last Friday because her 6-month-old baby had a fever. Her unplanned sick days were a problem because a lot of employees like to take vacation days on Fridays, so we ended up really short-handed. Another employee often calls in sick to take care of his young children when his wife (who is a stay-at-home mom) gets sick.

    My employer recently started providing a benefit to all employees that includes 10 days of free “backup care” (either in-home or at local daycare facilities). It is through a company called Bright Horizons, and as far as I can tell, the point of it is to handle situations like these. This benefit is paid entirely by my employer and provided to all employees. Would I be out of line in suggesting that my employees register for this service? Should I make it a general reminder to the whole department, or discuss specifically with the employees who frequently take time off due to sick family members? My employer does send out info on benefits periodically, but I suspect most people ignore stuff like that.

      1. Kayem*

        They said the benefit was either in home or at local daycare. And in the case of the employee calling in sick when his wife is sick and he’s taking care of the kids, it wouldn’t be sending sick kids to daycare.

      2. Susan*

        Of course not. The backup care service provides in-home care for kids who can’t go to daycare because they’re sick.

        1. Binky*

          My experience is that it’s next to impossible to get in-home care through Bright Horizon on short notice, sick child or no.

          Bright Horizon is great at getting you through planned school closures, not last minute stuff.

        2. constant_craving*

          Have you confirmed with the company that they’re actively providing this service currently and what the parameters are on this are? This company told us that they (at least in our area) no longer provide sick care due to COVID and that when they did, it was only for mildly ill children (i.e., no fever). They didn’t make any effort to inform the company contracting them that they don’t provide this- you only get told if you actually try to arrange services.

          Even still, most sick kids will not do well left with a stranger and most parents won’t be comfortable with this arrangement. We were only willing to try using it because my husband works from home and would be around while working, but it doesn’t really matter since they don’t offer it.

          1. Susan*

            I don’t have any dependents, so I haven’t personally tried to use the service, but for information-gathering purposes, I created an account and looked at the information about the services that are being provided to my company’s employees. Based on the info I’m seeing, it looks like these services are available, but I guess no one will know for sure unless they try to use it. I understand that even if this service is great, it might not be what someone needs in a specific situation, but I just want people to consider trying the service instead of defaulting to assuming they can’t come to work just because their spouse or kid is sick.

            1. constant_craving*

              Yes, the form will look like it’s an option. You would have to actually submit to learn they’re not.

              If you want to suggest it as an option, I would first give a call to them and explicitly discuss if all services are on hold, their rate of success in filling requests in the past 60 days, etc. That will help you know if it’s even worth suggesting.

    1. Kayem*

      I would make a general reminder first, then follow up later with individual employees. That’s generally what I’ve found to be helpful, especially for anyone not reading the periodic benefits info. I always remind my direct reports of our sick leave benefits when we start a new project because it’s easy to miss the info in the monthly newsletter that few people outside of managers read.

    2. Nikki*

      I think you can make a general reminder to the entire team that this benefit is available, but it would be a bit out of line to speak to specific people about it. They might already be aware of it and have their own reasons for not using it. As a parent, I would definitely be wary of leaving my sick child with a caregiver I’d never met and hadn’t vetted myself, which is how it sounds like this service works. I would instead make every effort to stay home myself if at all possible.

    3. Jaunty Banana Hat*

      From experience I can tell you that Bright Horizons has (or at least 12 months ago HAD) very strict sick kid policies that were constantly changing. I really don’t think they’d accept sick kids, particularly with a fever (!!!!)

      Unless it’s some kind of other service they provide where they send someone to your house, but I’m not aware of them doing that.

      1. Susan*

        Yes, they provide in-home care for kids who can’t go to daycare because they’re sick.

        1. Jaunty Banana Hat*

          Cool, I didn’t know that. Their daycare was super strict on sick policies.

    4. Darcy Smith*

      I think a general email out to everyone reminding everyone of the benefit would be beneficial. if you or someone else you work with would have a little time to research the company a little, you might be able to provide a little reassurance to your employees. something like if the caregivers are background checked, if the company has liability insurance, etc.

    5. Lizzie*

      Is this backup care specifically for sick kids, or just if their normal childcare falls through? if its not for sick kids, then no. Daycares have strict rules about sick kids, and when they can come back, etc. And how often do your employees or their kids get sick? While its stinks when you don’t have coverage, it doesn’t sound like they are doing anything wrong. Your employee with the 6 month old with a fever probably had no choice but to stay home. Not only that, a lot of people are uncomfortable leaving their child with strangers vs. their normal child care.

      1. Susan*

        It’s both. I believe they have spots in local daycares for when regular childcare falls through (e.g., the nanny is sick), but they also have in-home care for instances where the kid can’t go to daycare due to illness. The whole point (and the reason the company pays for it) is so employees don’t have to miss work just because a family member is sick.

    6. kbeers0su*

      I would certainly make sure that employees know about this new benefit/service and how to sign up for it. But I would also be careful about seeming to push it too much, because in some of the situations you’ve described it probably won’t work. For instance, the employee who called off to stay home because the stay-at-home partner was ill- if I were the ill partner, I most certainly wouldn’t want a stranger in my house caring for my child while I’m sick myself. That would be…too weird. And, generally, while I understand it might be nice to have an emergency service, if that service doesn’t know my kiddos/my kiddos have never met these care providers…I’m not going to feel super comfortable with that.

      1. Cj*

        but in that situation, the kids will be able to go to the daycare site because they aren’t sick themselves.

        1. Firecat*

          There’s no way I would use a service like this when my spouse is too sick to care for our child. I’d take PTO vs carting my, potentially exposed and soon to be sick kid off to a strange unknown daycare for the day.

    7. FashionablyEvil*

      I would make a general announcement along the lines of, “We’ve just added this great service! Contact Fergus in HR for more details about signing up.”

      One thing to keep in mind is that it may not solve the issue depending on the company’s sick kid policy.

    8. Llama Llama*

      FWIW by employer offers stuff through Horizon too but there are no Horizon centers near me that offer care for my kids. AND usually they don’t accept sick kids.

    9. Not Elizabeth*

      A reminder that the company offers free backup child care sounds worthwhile (at least for the ones whose problem is that their spouse is sick and their healthy children need care), but I think the real problem is that you’re letting so many people take Friday as a planned day off that you don’t have flexibility for unplanned sick days. If you can’t be short-handed for a day, the solution is to limit how many people can take a vacation day, not to complain about the people who need a sick day.

      1. Lady Danbury*

        Definitely this. People calling in sick as a known unknown. Even if they utilized a child care service, there’s a risk of employees being sick themselves. Since this is a known and ongoing issue, your vacation approvals should take it into account.

      2. Susan*

        So I should deny vacation days for people who plan and request in advance just in case someone else calls in sick at the last minute? That would basically encourage people to call in sick at the last minute.

        1. kbeers0su*

          But I think that’s on you and how you frame these denials. If you were proactive now and told employees that your practice for approving days off is going to change moving forward, and why you’re doing it, then they’ll be better prepared to make their requests further in advance if they really want the time off. You can also have a meeting with your team, name the problem, and see if they have other possible solutions to suggest (but I’d also be super careful about this, because if you have any grumps or kid-haters or your team isn’t generally supportive of one another it could go south quickly).

          1. Tio*

            Yeah, we always had a limit on how many people could be off in a day, and part of that calculation was “what if someone calls in sick that day”. So set up the policy that a maximum of X people can request this day off, making coverage the number of people you’d need staffed +1 for sick coverage, and that’s just the policy. And you don’t have to present it that way either – just tell them the policy is only X number of people can be off one day (first come first serve, seniority, whatever your hierarchy for requests is), please schedule accordingly. You’re not denying because anyone planned well or poorly, you’re denying because that’s what your coverage needs are.

        2. Gatomon*

          Well, yes. If you need 5 people to operate, but can make do with 4 in a pinch (for examples), then you close vacation requests when you’re down to 5 people, or possibly 6 if it’s really frequent that you’re down a person or two. Make it clear this is the policy moving forward and encourage people to request vacation in advance so they get approved. I’d also suggest a shared OOO calendar that lists planned vacation or appointments for transparency.

          Now, if you have someone who has a pattern of calling out or leaving sick on Mondays/Fridays and you suspect it’s not legitimate, that can be addressed by requiring a doctor’s note above X absences a month, or after a certain number of days in a row, however you set the criteria.

          I personally believe calling in sick (of work) is legitimate and healthy occasionally, but if it’s a regular need then it needs to be addressed.

        3. Cyndi*

          I mean…yes? If you need a minimum amount of people for things to keep ticking, it’s totally cromulent to limit how many people can take a given day off to that minimum plus a margin of a few people in case of sick days. Just as long as you’re clear that’s how the policy works. As far as I recall that’s how it’s been done most places I’ve worked. It sounds like you feel like maybe this is punishing people for planning ahead, and it isn’t; it’s just the practical reality that the business needs people there.

          1. Be Gneiss*

            And I think it depends on whether this is happening often, or if it’s happened twice. And if it’s a situation that being short an extra person makes the day completely unmanageable, or if it’s hectic/frustrating/annoying. If it’s happened a couple times and it sucks but you can deal with it…that’s one of the downsides of hiring living human people.
            If it’s happening with some regularity, and your business can’t operate, then you change the policy so you have a cushion in terms of coverage.

        4. Chutney Jitney*

          Yes. Think about what you’re asking: “So I should deny vacation days for people who plan and request in advance just to make sure Company’s work gets done?” Just like you would not allow every single person in your department to take the same planned Friday off.

          Your thinking on this needs to shift a bit to see that you need to take action to ensure coverage – you should always plan to have at least 1 person out unexpectedly, then add on the planned days.

      3. Overeducated*

        This is legitimately tough if there are vacancies or there isn’t the budget to build in backup staffing, though. I’ve worked in persistently understaffed places for years, and refusing vacation with no end in site is a recipe for losing your current employees too.

        I’m not saying to deny sick days either, though. What happens if the place has to close for a day? Or if it’s not public-facing, operations get delayed until Monday?

    10. Qwerty*

      Treat it like any other new benefit for now and discuss it with the team as a whole. Ideally HR would do a session explaining what it is, how to sign up for it, etc. Adoption will probably be slow at first and pick up once people start talking about good experiences with the service.

      I could see a parent feeling uneasy about leaving their sick kid with a stranger. Is there any form of system for employees to vet or get to know the backup care options? Or can they use one of the free days when there is no emergency, just so the kid can experience the day care or the parent can watch/teach the in-home helper?

      It might be helpful to look at advice regarding when/how to recommend EAPs – I feel like a lot of it could apply since they are both sensitive topics. I feel like tone here could be tricky and would be easy to *sound* like you are chastising people for taking care of their kids vs “new benefit to make your life easier!”

      In the meantime, when planning coverage for people on vacation, it would probably be helpful to have one extra person on-site than you think you need in case someone gets sick. These recent instances were caretaking outages, but if those employees had been sick themselves you’d have the same coverage issue

      1. constant_craving*

        Unfortunately, you can’t vet the backup care options ahead of time. You’re not likely to get the same option twice either, so there’s no teaching the person or getting to know them.

    11. Marketing Ninja Unicorn*

      First of all ‘unplanned sick days,’ is kind of how they’re meant to work, unless you’re taking time off because of a doctor’s appointment or known surgery or something.

      Second of all, as a mother of a six-month-old, babies get sick, and I’m not sending my sick kid to his actual day care LET ALONE some other day care with providers I don’t know and children I don’t know and people *HE* doesn’t know.

      People get sick. Kids get sick. Kids who go to school and/or daycare OFTEN get sick because those places are petri dishes of germs. It’s how kids build their immune systems, and that’s just something you have to deal with if you employ humans who have lives.

      Also, I don’t know what ‘in-home’ back-up daycare looks like, but you and your employer are out of your ever-loving minds if you think parents are going to drop a child off at some random person’s house just because their employer has contracted with them for child care.

      My job is the thing that gives me a paycheck. My children are precious to me, and I will 100% choose to do what is best for my child every time.

      1. Susan*

        In-home daycare is when the agency sends a caregiver to the employee’s home to provide care for the ill family member. Of course no one is expecting employees to take sick children to daycare.

        1. Be Gneiss*

          But the idea of leaving my sick baby with a person that I’ve never met – even if it’s through a service – is hard to swallow. It’s not like booking a stand-in dog walker through an app or something.

        2. Constance Lloyd*

          I wouldn’t be comfortable with this option, either. I have sick days, I’m not letting a stranger in my home. It sounds like Susan is only asking about reminding her staff it exists, which is perfectly fine. Following up with staff who choose not to use it would be too much.

          1. Susan*

            Yeah, people seem to be jumping to a lot of conclusions here… I never said I want to force anyone to use or sign up for this service — just remind people that it exists. My employer just started providing this in 2023, so not many people have had the opportunity to use it yet. I have a feeling that people don’t think about this as an option when family illnesses come up because this wasn’t previously available. And I think they have to pre-enroll, so if they wait until the day they need it, they won’t be able to get care that day, so it might help to remind people before they need it so they’re already enrolled when they do need it. This is beneficial to the employees, too, because they can save their sick days for when they’re actually sick.

            1. Mollie*

              As a parent, would whole heartedly look into the option. My husband and I sometimes have the option to work from home, but working while taking care of our sick child is the worst, and we don’t have family in a position to help. If someone could be there while we’re there to take that off our plates, it would be phenomenal.

              Since it hasn’t come up, I take it there’s not an option for people to work from home in this situation.

        3. Marketing Ninja Unicorn*

          I don’t want some random person I’ve never met IN MY HOME, CARING FOR MY CHILD, while I am not home.

          Nope. Nope nope nope.

          Look, sick days are a benefit you provide to your employees as part of their overall compensation package. Unless you think someone is abusing it (REALLY AND TRULY ABUSING IT–calling out sick the day after a vacation to extend their holiday), how your employees use it is none of your business. Using sick time to care for a sick child is one of the ways sick time is meant to be used.

          It’s frankly kind of paternalistic for your company to say, ‘Here’s this service so you can still work while your kid/family member is sick! The company is so nice because we made it easier for you to work while not caring for your sick child.’

          I understand that your company means well, I really do, but all of this rubs me the wrong way as a parent and if I were an employee and getting push-back on using my sick time to care for my sick child I’d be looking for a new job.

          1. Be Gneiss*

            I sort of get the idea – for NON-sick children – that having spots held in daycare for when your daycare shuts down for a week, or your nanny has to quarantine, or your school closes unexpectedly could be a real benefit to people still navigating daycare shortages and covid- or RSV- or flu-related closures. Those were really hard and put a lot of people in a tight spot. I just can’t wrap my head using it for sick children.

          2. Gyne*

            I think it’s a false equivalent to say a vetted, licensed childcare provider is a “random person” as if you just opened your front door and hollered at the first person who walked by to come watch your baby. We have a service similar to this in my town and all the caregivers have had background checks, basic first aid training, and the company is liable for their actions when they’re working. it may not be your preference to do this, and that is fine, but I used a service like this when my children were little and it was a lifesaver.

            1. Magpie*

              There’s a reason most parents interview potential caregivers and tour potential daycare centers before making the decision to leave their child in someone’s care. Being licensed is not the same thing as meeting a specific parent’s requirements for care of their child. Maybe the caregiver has different opinions about medication than the parents and would give the child something the parents didn’t approve, or maybe they would refuse to give the child something the parents requested. Maybe the caregiver keeps the TV on something that would be upsetting to a child. Maybe the caregiver is distracted by something going on in their life and is not paying as much attention to the sick child as necessary. Or any number of other possibilities. Licensing and background checks just check for the big stuff, not for more nuanced things that parents would still find harmful to their child. Unless I personally knew the caregiver or knew someone who had left a child in their care, I would absolutely see them as a random person regardless of how many background checks had been run.

              1. Gyne*

                I mean, okay, sure. You can choose your own childcare provider, and probably have the privilege to do so, or use your sick time/pto/whatever if you can’t find anyone suitable at the last minute. Not everyone does. I personally used a service like this early on in my career, it was fine, my kids are fine. All the pearl clutching about the fragility of your children watching something on TV they don’t like is just not something I worry about.

                1. Ellis Bell*

                  I think it’s really important to hear that sometimes these services are reliable and can work out! I think one that you found in the context of your own town, on your own, is however a bit different from one that your employer is pitching to you, after you’ve taken a bunch of family related sick leave. That is going to require a whole bunch of diplomacy to avoid making people feel pressured. If a neighbour says: “You should use these and I can vouch for them personally as a parent” then you can freely say something back like “Oh god no, my child has autism and we’re only just getting their panic attacks under control; a strange caregiver would never do” in a way you might never want to disclose to your employer. Or you can just make polite noises and forget about it, or else look into them in your own time. Also, kids are very different. There’s plenty of kids who would do fine with a new person, even when sick, but kids are way too different for that to be a blanket expectation.

                2. Magpie*

                  It’s not pearl clutching if it’s something that could be genuinely harmful to a child’s well-being. Some children are not affected at all by things on TV. Some are very prone to nightmares and watching news coverage of the shellings in Israel would trigger a week of no sleep for anyone in the house. It’s great that you had a good experience with these services but I hope you can understand that they don’t work for everyone and it’s not just because the parents are being too precious.

                3. constant_craving*

                  The things most parents worry about with an unknown childcare provider are not what the child might get shown on tv. Surely you know that.

                  It’s great that it works for come people and that you had good experiences! But reducing people’s concern for their children to pearl clutching about tv is not a good look.

      2. light*

        Are the all caps and the “out of your ever-loving minds” aggression really necessary? I thought calm discussion is what this blog promotes. Ironically, I wonder if it’s my comment that won’t be printed, while the aggressive one will stay up.

    12. Anna O'Connell*

      It’s not quite the question you asked, but it is something I think you should know. Having 3 (now grown) kids and an employer that also offered a “backup care” benefit, you should absolutely not expect that the backup care offered by your employer will actually be available to your employees when it’s needed.

      In 7 attempts over 4 years to use backup care for one, two, or all three of my kids, I actually got a caregiver to show up less than an hour past my normal start time at work only once. One other time I got a backup carer, but that person couldn’t come until after lunchtime the first day of what turned out to be 3 days of care needed.

      With the caveat that the backup child (or elder, if your company offers that too) care MAY not be available, especially in the current extreme shortage of child and elder care of any kind, a reminder that employees can register in advance to potentially get short-notice help in meeting their caregiving responsibilities.

      1. Overeducated*

        Haha, yes, this. I live 50 miles away from work (it’s not ideal but dual income households have to make these choices sometimes). I’d be very surprised if a backup caregiver contracted with my company would come to my house. It’s worth checking out, but may not result in 10 full days of ACTUAL care for specific employees.

        Also, if I had sick days, I’d rather use those first and use the backup care as more of a backup/emergency feature, because I want to be there for my kids when they’re sick. So please don’t introduce this and expect employees to stop using sick days until they’ve run through the benefit.

    13. Manager Mom*

      I think it would definitely be okay to make sure your employees are aware of it, preferably via general reminder, but keep in mind that it isn’t a magic ‘one size fits all’ solution. In your first scenario, where the employee’s 6mo had a fever, most reputable daycares have strict rules around not allowing sick kids to attend so it wouldn’t help in that situation at all. There may also be other factors you’re not aware of as well – do their kids have care requirements that make outsourcing that care difficult? Some kids don’t do well with unexpected changes to routine or new environments, so suddenly having to attend a new daycare isn’t a simple matter.

      From my own experience as a working mom, my employer offers a similar program but I never felt comfortable using it since I didn’t know the care provider – I hadn’t met them or vetted them myself, so I didn’t trust them with my kids. That’s not a responsibility I was okay handing over to my employer.

    14. I should really pick a name*

      Are they using more than their alotted sick days?
      If not, I would treat it as if it was a day when they themselves were sick.

      If were advising the employees, I would tell them to say “I’m taking a sick day” without getting into the specifics.

      I don’t think there’s a problem with publicizing the service, but I would not direct it to specific employees. And ultimately, it’s up to them if they use it or not. Some people may not be comfortable with a service that they didn’t select themselves.

    15. Be Gneiss*

      Have you talked to anyone at your company who has actually used this service, and asked about real-life availability of both the in-home option and the spots in local daycares? I’ve heard of this kind of thing being “available” as a benefit, but when the time came for employees to actually use the services, there were never any openings or caregivers that were actually available.
      Your employees’ experience with the company you are using might be very positive, and it’s always nice to remind people about benefits they might have forgotten are available, but I would ask about what kinds of experience employees who have used the service have had.

    16. Ellis Bell*

      I think it’s going to come across as really clueless if you suggest with any pressure that people should park their sick children with a random stranger. Even a trained childcarer is at a bit of a loss with a kid they don’t know. I think the strongest you could go is a genuinely open minded discussion with your team about how you’ve noticed it’s unpopular, ask whether the benefit is worthwhile to them and if there’s anything better the company could do for them (they’re going to say they appreciate flexibility with sick leave and not making parents feel like they’re dropping the ball though!) I honestly don’t understand how so much vacation time is allowed that there’s no leeway for something that should be as expected as unexpected sickness. It’s a feature of life for all employees, especially where young kids are concerned; are parents a minority or a new feature in this industry or something? Because this isn’t strange and should be planned for. You won’t know who it will be, but it will be someone. Either take that into account with vacations or accept you might be short handed.

    17. Magpie*

      Caregiving for a sick child requires a lot more than day-to-day caregiving. In addition to all the usual stuff, the parent is probably also trusting the caregiver to administer medication correctly and to identify when a call to the doctor or a visit to urgent care is needed. I can see that a lot of parents would be nervous trusting a stranger with this and making the decision to stay home themselves even if the benefit of emergency daycare is available.

    18. CityMouse*

      As a parent who has had a kid in a Bright Horizons center (not in a year or so) I don’t recommend this. One, as above no center takes a sick kid. Availability is spotty.

      Two, my kid’s current care requires a kid to see a doctor when they pop a fever. So I use that sick day to take him to the pediatrician.

      Three, I don’t want to leave my kid with a stranger when he’s sick. Last time my kid had a fever he popped scary high (over 104F) and I both had to administer a higher dose of medicine (under guidance of his doctor) and give him a cool bath. He screamed the whole time. No way I want a sub caretaker in that position.

    19. constant_craving*

      My husband’s work offers this back up care through the same company. It’s almost never worked out for us. They can’t place our kid and they can’t tell us that until last minute (sometimes at like 11am the day we requested coverage for). Once they officially told us that they couldn’t place him so we made other arrangements- then called and said they actually fond a spot. When we explained we’d already made other arrangements, we were told we’d be charged if we didn’t use the care they found. They also have told us that they cannot currently provide back up sick care due to COVID- only back up care for typical care being unavailable.

      Even if it did work functionally, no, I don’t think it’s advisable to tell people to use care they may not feel comfortable for for their sick children. There’s a lot that can go wrong with childcare- people really have to feel ok with where they’re leaving their kids. I would treat this as you would if the employees themselves were getting sick.

    20. Rex Libris*

      Assuming that they’re following policy in requesting and using their sick time appropriately, if it’s causing massive upheaval whenever someone calls out, you’ve got a staffing problem, not a calling out problem.

    21. working with sick kids*

      I think it’s worth sending a general FYI announcement to your direct reports about the benefit and direct them to the HR link. But my experience with Bright Horizons as back-up care has been hit-or-miss. You don’t have control over who comes to the house for in-home care and I know multiple people who received caregivers who had no infant experience but were there to watch an infant. It’s a little better for backup center care but I haven’t used that since before covid and you do have to register in advance.

    22. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      My kid would never tolerate being left home with a stranger, especially while sick. As a parent I am not going to feel comfortable leaving my child in my home with someone I’ve never met – even if I trust the company’s background check process and training for their employees, it’s my home! It’s probably not in “guest” condition if I’ve been dealing with a sick kid, I have pets who go crazy when strangers are over, the caregiver doesn’t know my kid’s routine or what they will eat, not to mention where to find those things in my house. I think it’s fine to send a general reminder to the entire staff but please, please take a step back and recognize that your employees have lives and for most of them, being there for their sick child/spouse will come before anything less than a work emergency.

      Also, as others have said, I highly doubt it’s as easy as you think to obtain last-minute care for a sick child. Even companies that claim they provide sick care, or perhaps did in the past, no longer do after the last 3 years.

    23. Vanessa*

      I would be really uncomfortable handing my child over to someone I have never met before. Childcare is a very sensitive topic. Finding someone who you feel comfortable with is challenging. I left several centers near tears(I was admittedly pregnant and emotional) at the thought of leaving my child there. I’m lucky to have found generally good childcare.
      This is a lovely idea to support families but we have sick days for a reason. In my opinion, it would make more sense for there to be a limit on Friday pto days so there is a cushion.
      Lastly. Pats on the back to the guy using him sick days to support his family and being an active partner. Let’s not disparage stay at home moms. She deserves a sick day too.

    24. JelloStapler*

      You need to be able to let your employees take care of their families without having to have a stranger come to the house. I would never feel comfortable with that. Are the people that are always taking off on Fridays reliable or do you need to keep an eye on them?

    25. JustaTech*

      My husband’s company has started offering this, and while our baby isn’t in daycare yet (and won’t be going to BH) we are planning on signing up for it, just to have in our metaphorical back pocket.

      It’s probably most useful for either planned daycare closures or for older kids (elementary school) who need someone to watch them at home but aren’t seriously ill, but knowing that it’s there is nice to have (assuming that the service is actually accessible).

      So yes, do send out a reminder, but no, it probably wouldn’t be helpful for those specific situations.

    26. Redaktorin*

      Hi, I have this benefit and have tried to use it many times. I am *always* informed that they can’t find someone for me. Occasionally, a confused person whose actual job is elder care gets sent to my house because the system doesn’t distinguish between elder care and childcare. One company would claim every single job I tried to put in there then either cancel at the last minute or send over a completely different person from the one I booked (also an elder care worker who had no familiarity with kids).

      In conclusion, what you’re missing is that this service sucks and doesn’t work.

    27. Diatryma*

      This is the service my enormous employer uses, both for the on-site childcare (that is hard to get into, outside covid-times) and for backup.

      I recommend people sign up for it and put in for every day they expect to stay home, not because they’ll get a spot in a daycare when theirs is closed for moving or cleaning, not because they’ll get someone in-house to watch a kid on a 24-hours-no-fever ban, but because our particular agreement says that if they can’t find someone, they give us $100/kid/day.

      That’s enough to pay someone we know, or get a half-day of backup, or just to make it suck less that the baby is fussy and feverish and just barely sick enough to have to stay home two days.

      We have put in for care… a lot. They have provided two days (two kids, two days), and more than two thousand dollars to friends and family who can fill in.

  11. Lilith*

    Apologies for the really general question, but could anyone speak about their experience of going into coding as an older / non-grad person?

    I’m working as a project manager at the moment, but have had a few years of career kerfuffle (due to bad luck with shambolic companies, nothing to do with me personally) so am kind of flailing about and looking for other directions I could go in. I think I would enjoy coding, and I wouldn’t be aiming to be one of the £100k-a-year whizz kids that invent new stuff, but much of what I’m finding online is aimed at teenagers. If you got into it older, what path did you take? The impression I get is that courses and learning on the job are more important than formal qualifications, does that seem to pan out?

    1. fueled by coffee*

      Can’t speak to getting a career in tech/data/etc., but if you’re just looking to get started with coding, Edx has a lot of online/free introductory courses with various programming languages (I think if you pay you can get some kind of completion certificate, but idk how useful that is for employers). Since it’s free and mostly self-paced it’s not a bad way to find out whether you enjoy coding in the first place before investing more time/money into it, and would give you a starting point to work off of if you do decide to continue further.

    2. Nikki*

      A word of warning that getting a job in coding as a newbie is TOUGH right now. The market is flooded with people who enrolled in coding bootcamps during the pandemic and those people are competing for fewer and fewer jobs as tech layoffs continue to roll through. Not to completely discourage you if this is the career path you see yourself in long term. It’s still possible to get into the industry, it’s just much harder than it used to be.

    3. Qwerty*

      I have worked with people who made a switch and used software as their second career. Most went through a bootcamp that was 3-6months and had partnerships with companies to help students get their first job. Not all bootcamps are created equal! Research the good ones that teach how to succeed vs how to get hired. Udemy has a ton of courses – keep an eye out for sales rather than paying full price. EDX was popular a few years ago, haven’t been on there recently.

      I’m sorry, but I’m going to be a bit of a buzzkill today. Feel free to skip the rest of message. The short version is that the switch is not as easy as it has been made out to be.

      1. Timing – The tech market is flooded with devs right now. I feel really bad for the bootcamp grads! So many are unable to find a job or got laid off. I saw an article that hundreds of thousands of tech jobs were lost in the past year. I know several people who were laid of at least twice in that time frame. Jobs are going to be uncertain for a while – there’s a lot of similarities to the dot com bubble bursting.

      2. Qualifications vs Learning on the Job – People say this, but that doesn’t kick in until a few years into your career. Tech values experience and early career devs got that experience in school. The top talent coming out of a good 4yr school often had 2-3 summer internships and a capstone project that might have partnered with a company. I have had roles training bootcamp grads who were super dedicated, teachable, and had high potential and it took years for them to catch up to most of our college grads. Certifications are generally ignored because there isn’t a rigorous system for them to mean anything – Microsoft used to have some good ones that were supposed to represent having certain levels of experience but then “review” courses showed up that basically taught how to pass the test with zero experience.

      3. Newbies are a Negative Resource – I love training new devs, but when they arrive they are a huge time suck. Good companies look at this is as an investment period. Blah companies just give newbies boring easy work and don’t bother to teach them – I have interviewed so many people 1-3yrs into their job who learned almost nothing due to lack of mentorship. Bad companies force everyone to just work harder and end up training people on bad habits, bandaid fixes, and shortcuts. In the current climate, I don’t see as many companies dedicating time to teaching and building up their pipeline though they might hire on people as cheap labor.

      4. Hustle, Hustle, Hustle – The self taught folks that really did well and are the poster children for “formal qualifications don’t matter” were incredibly dedicated and self motivated. They worked twice as hard as everyone else to learn their skill and constantly are aware of their weak points or blind spots so they can improve. Do you have a passion for tech? Coding is easy, engineering is hard. I’ve also noticed that all this extra work gets downplayed – the best self-taught person I know never mentions that he had formal training in the military that built a foundation for his self-taught phase, great mentors at laid back jobs, one of which paid for him to get a masters degree, and his idea of fun is staying on top of all the tech developments – his version sounds like he spent a couple months on the internet easy peasy.

      1. Prospect gone bad*

        My industry as well, so I’m going to add to being a buzz kill. But not everyone trying to get into it is a good applicant. Like, I understand the attraction of high-paying work from home jobs. I’ve interviewed people who seemed like they needed instructions for everything and don’t think outside of the box. That may have been OK in a coding job in 2002, when companies were still automating huge amounts of basic tasks. But I’ve noticed that the coding projects the past few years have gotten more in depth and complicated, and require people who think outside the box or a little bit bigger picture and also small picture at the same time. There are almost no more basic coding projects for newbies, this is a problem in trying to hire entry level people

    4. Linda*

      I took coding classes at the local university when I was made the switch to a different career. They definitely helped me get a job as a tech-oriented person in GLAM, but the classes by themselves didn’t make me at all competent at coding outside of course assignments. I use Codecademy now for professional development, which I like a lot. There’s a free version, so you can test it out and see if it suits your learning style, but I recommend the paid version since that comes with small projects to practice on. It’s often on sale.

    5. It Takes T to Tango*

      I had informal IT experience, did a bootcamp, went into tech support then server administration then DevOps (Development + Operations).

      In general, I’d suggest freecodecamp.org first. It will get you experience in html/css/js (aka websites) fairly quickly. Even if you don’t want to do website creation as a career, it’s useful because it will quickly let you know if you enjoy coding and once you understand one programming language, it’s easier to pick up other languages. They have training on backend technologies and a lot of tutorials on YouTube as well. w3schools.com is a good supplement for that. Udemy.com has a lot of coding classes in various languages as well as other IT topics. They run sales very frequent where courses are ~$15 – $20 so don’t buy at full price. YouTube has a lot of programming channels, some of which are quite good.

      I’d strongly advise that you get some additional training besides just coding languages. DevOps is a big thing right now so learning the basics on the Operations side will help a lot. Learn the basics of Linux and/or Windows Operating Systems (which OS depends on which language(s) you want to specialize in) including command line (bash or PowerSHell). Go through the basics of Networking and MySQL/MSSQL as well. Learn how to use GitHub (code storage and change control) and make a code portfolio for potential employers to look at.

      BTW, you’ll have a better chance at getting a job in coding if you can tie your current job experiences to places you apply. Knowledge of the business side will often give you an edge over other junior programmers even if they have a bit more programming experience.

      Hope this helps.

    6. Random Dice*

      My friend did it. She used to work in horse stables, and did a coding bootcamp, and now makes what she calls “stupid” money… enough to buy a place away from the city where she can have her own horses.

    7. Lilith*

      These are all really helpful tips and ideas, thank you! It’s really helpful to get the ‘bad news’ as well, as so much of the general attitude is still ‘learn coding! There’s millions of jobs about!’ without taking into account the changes from the last few years.

    8. SpringIsForPlanting!*

      Check out Software Product Manager roles! Your project manager skills will be really useful and a little bit of coding knowledge will go a long way.

  12. Jen Barber*

    How do you list past companies on your resume when a company has since been acquired or goes by a new name?

    Currently I have on my resume something like –
    Reynholm Industries (acq. by Douglas Internet Inc.) : I worked at Reynholm, which was acquired by Douglas Internet after I worked there
    Alice’s Company (formerly TelAmeriCorp) : I was hired at TelAmeriCorp, but we had a merger and are now Alice’s Company
    Bluth Company (now Lucille Austero Houses) : I worked at Bluth Company, which had a name change to Lucille Austero Houses after I worked there

    I’m wondering if I should just shorten them to only include what the names were while I worked there for more white space? I’ve been including them because years ago I worked at a data company where there was an in-depth background check, and your resume had to match the name of the company and dates, or you could fail. The background checks I have had since haven’t been to that degree, but I’ve had it that way out of habit since.

    1. Newly minted higher ed*

      I have the same situation. My old factory division was acquired by a whole ‘nother Corp a few years after I left, 20 years ago. I list the name it was when I was there with (acquired by company Y) (it’s a big company so there is name recognition, and for a long time people used the old name anyway. In fact in some recent interviews I used the old name, and someone in the interview who would have only ever seen the new name recognized specifically which mill I was talking about.)

      I think as long as it’s clear you were employed by who they were, but they can verify records with the new company now, it matters less how it’s recorded (though I’d do each the same way).

    2. A Penguin!*

      On a resume I’d either write it how you have been, or if I needed to save space then just the current name. I wouldn’t write just the ‘while you worked there’ name, because I’d expect people to be less familiar with the ‘old’ name.

    3. Kayem*

      Related to that, how does one list a job on a resume when the business no longer exists? I’ve worked for a few small businesses that folded after I left. Especially businesses that don’t have a web presence or even Facebook page.

      1. Lady Danbury*

        The same as a business when the business was in existence. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do otherwise.

      2. Cyborg Llama Horde*

        If the business no longer exists, just list it on your resume the same way. You worked there; it’s not your fault that they have since folded. The place I would note it is when providing references:
        Manager at SmallBiz (now-defunct) – Susan B. Anthony, personal cell phone: #######
        Or
        SmallBiz is now defunct and there is no longer a way to contact them.

    4. Llama Llama*

      Right or wrong, I put my current companies name. But at least in my instance, my start date was the start date of the former company. I do clarify in interviews though.

    5. Emmie*

      It depends on the amount of time that has passed. For companies who were acquired in the last three years (or whatever you decide is appropriate), I usually do: Acme, Inc. (formerly Madix Applied Sciences). I’ve worked for companies with brand recognition in my field. I’ve used this while the new name takes hold in the field and the corporate rebrand does it’s thing.
      If enough time has passed, I’d reach out to whomever does references to find out what name they use. My last company works with a third party vendor.

    6. Lady Danbury*

      My resume has CurrentComp (formerly PastComp) for all companies in that situation, regardless of the reason for the name change. I think it’s helpful to include both names, both from a background check perspective and also for name recognition, if applicable.

      1. Elsewise*

        That’s what I do. One of my former workplaces, a university where I also got a graduate degree, had a merger and changed its name to something that sounds significantly more impressive. This was after I worked there and finished my degree, but I list it in both places as “ImportantSounding University (formerly OtherUniversity)”. I figure no one’s going to get too tripped up by it when they look at my resume, and if they have questions they can either google it or ask me. I haven’t gotten any questions.

    7. Tio*

      I think the way above is fine, assuming you’re not including the full sentence after that. Those seem kind of redundant

    8. starsaphire*

      Similar to the above. I have “Groomer at LlamaCorp (now part of BlueLlama Inc.), 2002-2007” and they can ask any questions they have if they get that far.

      (I was fortunate, though, that I still had one old co-worker who had stuck through all the acquisitions and become Managing Groomer, so I did have a live reference there.)

  13. Career Coaching*

    Would anyone recommend a career coach (in the Greater Toronto Area)? Or a virtual one? I’m looking to swap industries, maybe get some one-on-one interview feedback.

    1. ursula*

      If she’s still taking clients, Kathryn Meisner is Toronto-based and really excellent. She offers both supported course work and individual coaching.

  14. Ellie Williams*

    TW Pet Loss

    I’m not someone who cries easily at work. This week, I had to unexpectedly say goodbye my 9 year old dog. I asked my boss for the morning off for the euthanasia appointment, explained why I needed it so last minute, and said that I planned to come into work after that because I didn’t want to sit at home, that I’d be a bit weepy but still able to work. My boss was extremely understanding, granted me the time off, and even brought in donuts for when I came to work after the appointment to cheer me up. But it made me recall a similar incident 10 years ago with my very first office job.

    My family had to say goodbye to my childhood dog, she was old, so it was not unexpected, but it was still very hard. Similarly, I came to work afterwards, slightly weepy, but still able to do my job. My job was not completely customer facing, but I was one of several substitutes for when our front desk person who answered the door and the phones was out. This happened to be a week he was out, and I was supposed to cover for him all week. I asked my boss if one of several other substitutes in our team could take over the front desk instead, so I could still do my work in my office while getting teary-eyed when I needed to and not having to interact with customers. My boss said yes but then only let me off for the morning. She came to get me to cover for lunch because she and all the rest of our team were going out for a group lunch (which I was the only one not invited). I reiterated that I was not feeling up to being public facing, and I had asked not to be placed in that situation. She insisted because they were all going out to lunch and that if I couldn’t do it, I should go home for the day. I did it because I was young and thought just saying that I would take the rest of the day off was unprofessional (I realize now I should’ve just done that) and so I sat at the front desk trying to keep it together for 2 1/2 hours because they took a nice long lunch (which is a can of worms all by itself). I talked to my boss the next day, saying I was disappointed that she hadn’t been able to accommodate me for just one day. She just shrugged and said I should’ve taken the day off if I couldn’t work.

    So I guess it got me thinking, when I’ve had one boss who I think treated me unfairly, and one boss who was extremely kind about everything, in these circumstances of personal loss, is it wrong to come into work and just admit you’re going to be a little weepy for one day? Obviously, when I face the loss of a family member, I always take the bereavement days. But for pets, I am sad, but still want to keep my daily life going as much as possible. I’d prefer to be at work than just wallowing sadly at home. In both cases I was not sobbing loudly, just welling up with tears now and then. Obviously crying at work is disruptive and shouldn’t be done repeatedly, but I think asking for one day under particularly sad circumstances shouldn’t be a big deal.

    Thoughts?

    1. J*

      I’ve had…an excessive amount of grieving to have to accomplish in the last several years. Including the loss of a pet. I’ve become really into reading about grief, talking to people about it, etc. All that to say, there is no normal. I’m so sorry. Some of the deaths you are describing might fall under disenfranchised grief, which might be making this harder because there’s even fewer “rules” and normalcy around it. I know in my own experience, the disenfranchised grief hit me harder every time than cases that fit into some mold.

      In a lot of ways I’m like you that I don’t just want to sit at home and grieve. I made the mistake of going in while my dog was passing though and my general weeping was too much, I can say in retrospect that it wasn’t fair to my coworkers and it wasn’t healthy for me. Recently I did have a weepy day around an anniversary and ahead of that I planned a special project, all by myself, that I could do in peace and also not disturb anyone. Inventory, file organizing, cleaning, document recording, those are perfect hide and cry tasks. I realized too late I shouldn’t be covering a front desk on those days but I could find coverage, especially if I’d be on call should they need my assistance. I knew I’d be good 80% of the time but that 20% might hit me when I couldn’t plan for it.

      I think I had seen those days as binary choices – either I need to be at work to get my mind off things or I needed to be at home and wallow or feel the emptiness. There were a lot of other options regarding time off and places to go but the stress and anxiety of grief just closed me off to them. I also had bosses who wanted to dictate my grief on a schedule and it took me years to be the person to say “I lost someone. I will be taking this entire week off. I will update you this Wednesday after time with my family to determine if/when I’ll be taking additional time for a service or additional processing. I know our bereavement policy covers x so please coordinate with HR on docking my PTO for anything outside of that.” and logging off. I wish I’d done it several deaths earlier.

    2. Jaunty Banana Hat*

      I’m so sorry about your dog. And I’m sorry your other boss kinda sucked in how she treated you when you asked for a very reasonable 1 day accommodation.

      I think it’s going to depend on your work and stuff, but generally, I think being misty-eyed/teary is okay for a day when in those circumstances. If you’re going to have trouble doing your job, then I think you should definitely stay home if possible, but I also understand wanting to carry on as normally as possible.

    3. Jaunty Banana Hat*

      I’m of the opinion that you shouldn’t need to tell anyone why you need time off, though I understand providing justification if you’re in an understaffing situation and you feel like you need to show that you really need the time off. So I think it’s fine to take off for this.

      I went through this recently (14 year old dog, but the first time I’d gone through that with my own personal pet) and once I made the appointment, I just sent an email that said I needed Friday off to deal with a personal matter and no questions were asked. I returned on Monday and was fine, but that day I was an absolute wreck and would not have been productive.

      1. Jaunty Banana Hat*

        Apparently I’m not the only one who thought this would be a good username!

    4. Ellie Williams*

      I should clarify that at both jobs, if I was in my office, I was separated from everyone. I had an office to myself and so no one would have seen even my silent tears unless they came into my office. It wasn’t like I was in a cubicle farm or shared office where people could see me.

      1. Jaunty Banana Hat*

        I mean, even if you were where people could see you, tearing up silently should be okay if it’s a one-off/rare thing. Loud sobbing, buckets of tears wouldn’t be great in an open area, but you’re human. You can have quiet emotions on a difficult day.

    5. Dust Bunny*

      I think you get to do what works for you.

      When we put our last dog to sleep (mercifully, at a very advanced age) I knew when I took care of her that morning that this was it and my parents handled it while I went to work as usual. But we had had months to get used to her decline and had pretty much let go already of the dog she had been. I think if it had been sudden I would not have been in any shape to go to work, although I might have gone to the park or something to avoid being at home with the empty space.

      But if it felt easier to be at work with the distraction, go for it. I’ve also done that when my mother had a series of pretty serious surgeries so I wouldn’t be at home fretting.

    6. Seahorse*

      I’m so sorry about your dog.

      In my experience, some non-pet people can get very judgemental about grief around animals. Even when they’re not trying to be harsh, the “it’s just a pet?” sentiment still hits hard when you’re grieving a furry family member. I’ve stopped telling coworkers about it when I need to deal with these things, and just take a sick day or PTO as necessary.

      Should bosses accommodate a one-time bad day and respect that people can grieve over different things? Sure, but they don’t always handle it well in reality, and I’m no longer trusting someone else not to be callous when I’m already in a rough emotional state. If someone prefers not to be at home, maybe they could take the afternoon to run errands, go for a hike, or do something that doesn’t put any public-facing demands on them. At least I’d prefer that over trying to work while the sadness is so fresh.

      1. cncx*

        Yes. When my cat died a few years ago, my coworker said if I called in, my job would be in trouble because it would cause a coverage issue, mainly because he wanted to take off for something else. My boss never said that my job was on the line.
        It was drama I did not need, truly. I also worked every Christmas for ten years at that job and the one time I needed December 26th (26th!) off same coworker was put out…it was annoying.

    7. miss_chevious*

      I did exactly what you did when I was fairly new at my job — let my boss and any regular co-workers know so they wouldn’t be worried about me (or think it was job related) and just kept it pushing. Like you, I am not generally customer facing, but if I had had to be, I would have taken PTO. It’s one thing to let regular co-workers know and another for members of the public or clients to see.

    8. Cj*

      it’s a little ridiculous that they said to go home if you can’t cover the front rather than stay in your office, because obviously if you want home you couldn’t cover the front desk then either. but I wouldn’t say they were actually unfair, since they didn’t insist that you stay at work. although there’s the question of if you had gone home, would you have gotten paid for it? I’m kind of assuming you would have, but would have had to use PTO.

      when I was a supervisor, I gave one of my reports the entire day off without using PTO when a coyote killed their cat. she was appreciative of the fact that she could even tell me what was actually going on, but she heard me talk about my many pets frequently, and knew I would understand.

    9. Ellis Bell*

      Your old boss sucks; if she was okay with you leaving the desk and going home, then why wasn’t she okay with you leaving the desk to go back into your office? Did she even have a plan for covering the desk if you went home, and if it didn’t matter, why was she dumping you there? As for taking everyone on the team out but you for lunch while she shrugs at you for having a heart …. she sounds truly lovely.

    10. Siege*

      It depends too much on your office. I lost a pet back in March and I told my boss as soon as I knew that was the direction we were going because I’m the only person in my role and my role is currently more load-bearing than necessary. Since I’m still working from home I was able to basically strong-arm her into letting me Zoom into a meeting that was supposed to be in-person (another coworker was sick so it was already going to be hybrid) and I could cry as needed. But it was entirely dependent on a lot of very personal factors and it probably wouldn’t have worked for it to be our front-desk person.

      In general, I agree with you, though.

    11. petfriend*

      I’m so sorry for you loss. You might find the book, “The Pet Loss Companion” comforting. I certainly did when both my pets died last year.

      I think it’s completely reasonable to want to take leave, and also completely reasonable to want to have some normalcy in your life when grieving. Everyone’s grief differs, and grief can look different for different losses.

      When my spouse’s pet died, I worked a day or two after to finish a big project, and then I took a week to grieve with my spouse. It was an unexpected loss, and I think stress and burnout compounded it.

      When my own pet died 6 months later, I didn’t take any time. I had a new supervisor whom I didn’t know well and didn’t feel comfortable explaining why I suddenly needed a week off. I muddled through working from home, doing as little as possible.

      I regret not taking the time off, and I think it made healing harder, but I am so glad I didn’t say anything to my new boss. I later learned my boss doesn’t like their own pet, and I don’t have the same rapport. It’s unfortunate, but I made the best of the situation.

    12. My Useless 2 Cents*

      I lost one of my dogs (11 years old) after a two year cancer battle and was able to work just fine the next day but then about 8 months later unexpectedly lost my other dog (13 years old). I tried going in as worked helped after 1st dog but I couldn’t do it and had to go home. The combo of unexpected & so soon after 1st just hit me really hard. So, I can very much relate but I don’t think crying at your desk is ever a good thing. If there is no other obligation/requirement keeping you at work (like no personal time or a work deadline you just have to make), and your options are crying at your desk or going home for the rest of the day, you really should go home for the day.

    13. Manders*

      Good for you for going to work after. I’m not much of a crier generally, but 9 years after the death of my first cat and I still tear up Pavlov-style whenever I hear or even think of his name. I’m fine, and I realize it’s completely ridiculous. I’m tearing up writing this. 100% I’m fine, but I sure as heck wasn’t that day, or for quite some time after (especially if someone said “I’m so sorry to hear about Tango” – boy, did that open the floodgates!

    14. GythaOgden*

      Gonna be tough here: I’ve been in the same public-facing situation while my husband was in hospital, and trying to hold down my job. It’s tough for you, but — especially when a non-human is involved — other people have other needs and if you are having to be in but not doing what other people need you to do…well, the best thing from their perspective is to let you go home and get someone else to cover.

      For context: I work front line reception and my husband was dying one summer. I wanted a 10 minute break on a day my colleague was off, so had to go and ask my supervisor for it, but she was in the middle of (metaphorically!) fighting another fire somewhere else and so told me just to go home. That was the best thing to have been told to do and I did it (while struggling with letting our line manager know and getting into more of a state). My bosses supported me every inch of the way through my husband’s illness and death and beyond into the pandemic, but they had one rule: don’t get upset in public.

      Their reasoning was this: If I’m at the counter with tears pouring down my face, people don’t know what’s going on. It actually rebounded on them (do you not care about Gytha?) and it was uncomfortable for everyone involved — and there’s nothing non-public I could do (and that’s why I’m moving on now). They called me into a meeting and offered me a six month break from work to deal with my husband, but if I was ‘on’, I needed to be all there. I compromised — I took sick leave signed off by my doctor for the following week while hubby spent his last week at home, got him into hospital for the last week and had previously negotiated Fridays off so the Friday he went into the hospice (to die on Saturday morning) I was there without having to be signed off.

      As for coverage, that’s the part of the job they needed right then. If you can’t do your job, you need to take off sick. I don’t think it’s easy for anyone in these situations, human or canine, but the people around you need some certainty that the job functions will be covered — they’re not the ones in grief and life is going on for them; things don’t stop. My bosses were more like your current people than the former people but, tough love time here: they wanted you to put up or shut up. You can’t do a public facing or coverage job in a tearful state, and it’s quite possible there wasn’t much you could do backstage, or in order to justify getting someone else down to do the job they needed you to do, they would have had to show you couldn’t have done the job yourself, by way of being absent. They offered to let you go home, and I think you probably got a good deal there.

      The thing to remember is that the business has needs and everyone else is at arm’s length. I completely agree with sticking around in order to work through the pain — I took about 3 weeks sick leave after my husband’s death but got bored well before the end of my note so went back in the September (he died in early August). But in the moment, it is often a binary choice because of the needs of the business and those who are on the outside of your grief — and honestly, having lost a husband, I think it was easier to be sympathetic in my situation but I still couldn’t do my job in a state and hadn’t got any other use as an employee. Sitting around unable to do a key part of your job will inevitably be a burden on them, and you actually might feel better than you might assume being out of that environment rather than trying to struggle on.

      I know this sounds harsh but having been there and listened to the other perspective after the fact, I think it is important to make sure you take the opportunity to have a break even if it’s only for their sake rather than yours.

  15. HR Development*

    If you’re in a small HR department (or perhaps your own HR department of one), how do you prioritize your personal development?

    I do webinars, try to stay up to date with what’s going on in the sector, love the AAM comments, etc. But lately it’s been getting to me a little that my company has this really robust mentoring system that I can’t benefit from. There’s no one else who knows the intricacies of my role or has the skills that I might want to develop to move further in my career. I get support working through tricky situations, but I have to push for it. I don’t get consistent feedback so I don’t even necessarily know what skills I should definitely focus on building.

    I love my job. I’m not planning on leaving soon. But when I think about being here for another 5 or 10 years I’m not sure if my skills will grow or stagnate. Or maybe even my bad habits will get ingrained since I don’t know what they are. I’m at a point in my career where I feel like I could be mastering a lot more if I had guidance or support, and the only real drawback of my position right now is that I don’t have those things.

    1. Rosyglasses*

      I block out a couple of hours each week for administrative time / learning time. I joined HackingHR which has a built in community and loads of courses. I am part of three or four HR slack groups where I can build connections, and I try to go to panel webinars where it’s a bit more informal.

      I also went through the SHRM certification course (in person, for 13 weeks) and was able to build network connections through the class and the study group we formed, and I learned a TON about HR that I never had insight to because I didn’t go to school for it.

      I found a small group that meets once a month where we talk about challenges as HRs of 1.

      All that to say, I also worry about stagnating or not getting exposure or experience in my current company – but I feel grateful to have found these outlets and built some good connections of folks I can call when things get spicy!

      1. Rosyglasses*

        By the way, if you’re not familiar with them, both BambooHR and Lattice offer free all day HR (virtual) conferences and there are tons of great lectures and I usually walk away with a couple of new connections on LinkedIN by the end.

  16. Hanging with My Gnomies*

    The people that I work with are very competitive. My manager asked me a question and another manager answered for me. It wasn’t about anything important- it was a question about which staff member was in which department, but it still annoyed me because I started to answer and was then cut off.

    Other times coworkers will point out your mistakes in front of others, instead of pulling you aside and/or telling you when no one else is in the area. It seems like they want the attention and are trying to point the finger away from themselves.

    We work in an office environment that is fairly laid back- I would understand this type of personality more in a high stakes environment, but it isn’t.

    Any tips for dealing with these types of people and how to not let them get under your skin?

    1. Anastia Beaverhousen*

      For the person answering for me I might say “Wow, NAME (which isn’t theirs), thanks for the input” and then proceed with my own answer in a joking manner. Sometimes people don’t know they are doing something obnoxious and need it to be brought to their attention. If this is a “dog eat dog” environment this may be the only way to set a boundary with them. If this is all the same person it may be a way for them to overcompensate for their own perceived inadequacies.

    2. Water Lily*

      Hi- I’m going to watch this comment because I struggle with the same thing. Here’s the best advice I’ve got:

      -For the person that cut you off, here’s how that’s going to go: One day, they will be wrong, and you can correct them, and that will curb their interruption. “Actually, it isn’t that way and hasn’t been for a while. It’s this way.” Or you could be a tad cheeky when he interrupts and say, “Oh, I guess there are two [your name]s here today.”

      -For the mistakes being pointed out publicly: It can happen in a laid-back office environment. I found it to be just a function of the fact that these people have worked together for ages and just like my mother-in-law may comment that I’ve gained weight, my coworkers will point out when I forgot a comma. Whatever.

      I think you’ve already gotten part of your answer: their comments/criticism aren’t about you. It’s more about them.

      The long-game strategy, I think, is to be yourself. At first, I was just as petty and competitive as everyone else. That took too much work. So I just decided to let them be petty and not even match them note for note. One snarky way I combatted some of my critics was to focus on the larger issue rather than trip up with the note. “Ah- Bob pointed out that we needed a comment here somewhere, but I think our real win is that this campaign did 250% better than the last time. We’ll get that comma next time, Bob, you dumb bag of hammers.” Oh wait. Maybe say that last part just in your head.

    3. TheGirlInTheAfternoon*

      Honestly, the best way I’ve found to deal with this is cheerfully thank or affirm them – there’s no joy in winning a competition that no one else is competing in. It becomes its own little joy to set those Oblivious Meters to maximum. At best, coworkers stop doing it; usually, it just becomes less annoying because you get to push back a bit in a way that makes you seem unflappable and confident.

    4. Ellis Bell*

      It depends what you want; do you want to advertise your annoyance or to not feel it at all? A third option is to just say whatever you would have said when interrupted to make it clear they can’t answer for you, or behave as though their corrections are comically indifferent. The first one (being annoyed) feels like a risky strategy sometimes, but it’s worth considering and practicing. Think of that person in every office who is outspokenly tetchy. No one ever messes with them! However I can’t pull it off myself, and I’m not saintly enough to not feel any annoyance at all, so I go for option three of continuing on with my answer after the interruption, or behaving as though the correction is humourously self important. So, a blandish poker face is needed and scripts are something like: “Yes I was about to answer that, thanks Paul. He’s right Michelle, it is Gibb in that department.” Just repeating what you would have said or, or else going “Yes, and I can sing without moving my lips too!” For public corrections, nothing is more confident than behaving like it doesn’t matter: “Really, is that so?” or “Thanks!” and just pity them the rest of the time; it’s no way to live.

    5. Random Dice*

      You might try talking to them, privately. “Hey X, you’ve answered a couple questions that were directed at me. Can you tell me a bit about why you’ve been doing that?”

      Do it in a calm, curious way, but also let them flounder for a bit if needed to let them correct themselves.

  17. Mimmy*

    Two questions today! First one is a quick resume question.

    If you know a previous employer has moved offices since you were employed there, do you put their current city or the city they were in at the time you worked there? I just realized that I’ve had a previous employer from 2009-2010 listed as being in Anytown. They have since changed office locations twice. Could that reflect poorly on my application?

      1. Annie*

        What do you put when an application specifically asks for the location, i.e. if you worked for the company while it was in Anytown and has since moved to Cityville, do you put down Anytown or Cityville?

    1. Lady Danbury*

      No, reasonable people understand that businesses change locations sometimes, especially in the past few years!

    2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      I’d put their current location.

      I’m confused why any application needs that info. Maybe it’s might be to verify employment? That’s why I suggest using their current info.

    3. GythaOgden*

      Current address. I do this with my first employer out of uni. The only potential issue is that it was in Ireland and not the UK, where I’ve spent the rest of my career, but that seems to be good enough for the forms that my public sector employer asks us to fill in. They moved literally just after I left — they were showing off the new offices at the time I was working out my notice — but even so they are easily googleable. I also had to look up the name of a temp employer recently — it’s been literally a decade since I worked there and I remembered the street where they were but not the name.

      Probably best to give them what they want if at all possible. Ultimately, having the complete information benefits you quite a lot.

  18. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

    Navigating long covid at a new job?

    I got covid in 2021 and while many of my symptoms improved, I still get chills. And they can be fairly intense- full on body shudders. I started a new job and am remote, thankfully, but when I’m having bad chills I get distracted and short tempered. Stress definitely makes them worse and my supervisor has said that my work is good but slow.

    And even if I do bring it up, I don’t know how understandable it is to someone who hasn’t experienced this- just from previous attempts at explaining to family and friends, it sounds unpleasant but not serious. I guess I don’t know if I should disclose the issue or try to work through it.

    1. HigherEdAdminista*

      If you choose to explain it, would it help to change it from the word chills to something like spasms or tremors? I don’t think you should have to change your vocabulary for anyone, but I also know that there are some people who are inclined to take things less seriously and they might hear “chills” and think of their own experience. It makes them think you can just put a sweater on and have a cup of tea and you will be right as rain.

      Would it be possible to have accommodations for this? If they understood that the reason you work is a little slower than they might like is because you have to manage a health condition… if they aren’t total jerks, it might help them have more realistic expectations.

      1. Mrs Marple's Favorite Niece*

        I agree that rephrasing the symptoms would be helpful- I personally would struggle to understand the reason why “chills” would slow down your work unless explained more. I would also leave out that they make you short-tempered and keep it focused on actual effects on your work to avoid any negative connotations.

    2. Chutney Jitney*

      I think you should skip talking about symptoms at all. I think Alison usually advises talking about what accommodation you need, so what do you need to make this better/more tolerable?

      Like I might say, “I have long Covid from when I caught it in 2021 and I can’t work in long sprints. When I’m having a relapse, I sometimes need to take a 15 minute break to focus and come back to my desk” or whatever is true.

      1. Redaktorin*

        This is the answer! My weird long COVID-19 symptom is that I have had a painful sneeze stuck since December 2021. Some days, I’m fine, but some days, even the corticosteroids my doctor gave me to squirt up my nose do nothing and I tear up and rub my face a lot and can’t see my computer screen as a result.

        However, “have to sneeze” is not a symptom people have heard of or care about, so I just tell them I have long COVID and leave it at that.

      2. Random Dice*

        Seconding this. I have an autoimmune disease, and my accommodation is working remotely and having the freedom to lie down when needed (so long as I can get the job done).

  19. Spanish Prof*

    I would really appreciate any advice former academics have on taking an CV and turning it into a regular person resume. I’ve been in academia for pretty much my entire career, and I cannot figure any way to format it that isn’t skills-based, since things like “university academic affairs committee” have very little meaning to anyone outside our context. We also wear so many hats and do so many things that trying to make a separate line item for each one would be ridiculous (and repetitive), so that’s why I’ve settled on a skills-based format. I claim X, Y, Z skills, and then pull from the various elements/accomplishments of my academic career to support each as bullets. But I feel like I’ve read here and elsewhere that those resumes are frowned upon. What advice do folks have?! Thank you in advance!

    1. fueled by coffee*

      I have had this exact same issue when applying to non-academic jobs (out of a PhD program, so not a super-long career). Basically, I ended up trying to divide the numerous tasks I had into separate job titles, even if I was doing them simultaneously. So my resume looks something like this, and I tailor it to the specific job, leaving out things that are irrelevant:

      Doctoral Researcher, University of X (20XX-20XX)
      *research skills that line up with the job ad, resulting in X peer-reviewed publications
      *successfully obtained competitive grant funding totaling $X to support Y task

      Lecturer, University of X (20xx-20xx)
      *Teaching stuff

      Committee Member, Llama Wrangling Committee, University of X (20xx-20xx)

      Basically, I think this format keeps my resume from being one big block with a zillion bullet points under it, while still having the typical list-skills-by-job format.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      I’ve never had a CV, so take this advice with a grain of salt:

      I suggest a master resume. Look up resume samples to see how resumes are usually structured:

      Name + contact info
      Work Experience
      Education

      With jobs in reverse chronological order in the “Work Experience” section. For the master resume, keep in all the repetitive bullet points.

      When you’re applying to specific jobs, start with your master resume and whittle it down. You wear a lot of hats right now, but each individual job you apply for will probably ask for fewer areas of expertise/experience. Your aim is a one- or two-page document.

    3. TheGirlInTheAfternoon*

      Hi Spanish Prof, I’ve done this for myself and for others! If possible, I’d avoid a skills-based resume. I like the advice from both of the other commenters, and I’d also be happy to talk separately about this, if you like. I think I even have a sample CV-to-resume doc I drafted for a former job that I could share, though I’ll have to dig around for it.

    4. I've jumped that ship!*

      I would recommend grouping by “like” work to create a few different sections on your resume, then then focusing on what you did/accomplished in specific roles. This will help tailor sections by skill in a format that’s more standard and easier to ask follow-up questions about than the purely skills-based format I think you’re referencing. I had sections for my research roles, curriculum development roles, and teaching work. Within those sections, highlight the skills/accomplishments for the roles you want to foreground, without repeating (unless it’s to show something like escalating responsibility over time).

      1) You’re right that University Academic Affairs Committee doesn’t mean much abstractly, so what did you *do* through that committee? Show your impact.
      2) A resume is NOT an exhaustive list of everything you’ve ever done. (I know a CV isn’t exactly that either, but… it sort of is, especially for more junior folks?) A resume should highlight what makes you most competitive for the job at hand. Don’t feel compelled to include all the responsibilities or even all the roles.

      Good luck!

  20. Julia*

    Hi everyone! I’ll make this quick:

    So I recently got rejected from a job and the hiring manager offered to schedule a 20 min. call to provide feedback. And that’s in about an hour… and I’m still not sure what to ask.

    Right now my only question is “Do you have any suggestions for how I could make myself a stronger candidate?” but I’m sure there’s a better way to take advantage of this opportunity. Does anyone have any ideas?

    1. NameRequired*

      The offer to provide feedback probably means that you were a strong candidate! I would ask about which areas gave other candidates an edge and what the hiring manager would recommend as you search for more jobs.

      Also make it clear that you are disappointed but professional about the rejection and that if they know of any jobs in a similar area you’d be interested in applying.

    2. Clorinda*

      If they OFFERED this, it means they probably have something highly useful to tell you. Your questions sounds great. And then really listen to the answer. If the conversations seems to go well, maybe ask if there are any openings coming up that you might be suited for?
      This sounds like a beneficial but uncomfortable conversation. Be sure to take notes so you can review later.

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      Start with your first question, it’s good. If conversation dies off you can try: Was there anything specific that stood out poorly in my application? or Are there any qualifications you feel like I am missing for this type of role? Wrap up with like thanking for time, mention how much you did like specific thing about company mission, ask to be considered for future roles.

      It’s rare they offer feedback, so I’m thinking it’s likely they have another role coming up you’d be good for, or it’s a kindness because like you misspelled something egregiously on your resume and they want to let you know.

    4. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Yeah! That’s a great question. Also maybe a riff off Alison’s magic question “I’d like to position myself more strongly in the future. When you think back to the candidates you’ve had in the past, what stood out about the ones who were good compared to the ones who really wowed you/were really great?”

      1. Julia*

        Hi! So for background context: this was sort of a stretch role for me because I don’t have very much experience in event planning (which is around 75% of the job), but I got an interview anyway.

        Positive feedback:
        Enjoyable interview
        Hard-working, great communicator
        Good culture fit for the organization
        Good interview responses, especially to theoretical questions (e.g., “how would you approach X which you haven’t done before?”)
        Asked really insightful questions
        Drew upon relevant personal experience (even if was outside the context)

        Negative:
        My resume and the application itself (which involved filling out answers to a few short questions about the role) wasn’t very specific about my interest in event planning
        I seem like a generalist but because this is a temporary, very critical role, they’re looking for someone who can stick to one type of role and specialize
        They’re looking for someone who can work with a specific population (I wasn’t very explicit about my background in this)
        My interview answers could have been more detailed (people have said this before, maybe I should end my responses by saying something like “let me know if that’s good, or if you’d like to hear more detail”)

        All that to say: she really enjoyed meeting me and hopes to see me in future application pools. All in all, I thought it was really useful feedback! And I’m being detailed here because I would love to receive advice on any of these comments from the lovely people here :)

        1. Tio*

          Are you doing a tailored resume or cover letter? I think linking your answers back to the job itself is some really good feedback

          1. Julia*

            Both! Although this specific application didn’t ask for a cover letter but instead asked me to provide short answers to a few questions (IIRC, what is your experience in event planning, what is your experience in non-profit operations, what is your experience working with this specific population)

            1. Julia*

              Although TBH, I just don’t have very much experience in event planning, so at the end of the day, this is always be a stretch role for me and it’s hard for me to get as detailed as they’d like. But I still very much appreciate their feedback!

        2. Clorinda*

          I see a theme of “needs more details and specificity upfront in the resume that reflect back to the exact requirements of the role.”
          That’s great actionable feedback. Next time, make a copy of your basic resume, and see where you can tailor it to a particular application. If you keep all the copies, pretty soon you’ll have a portfolio of resumes and the process will be faster.

  21. My Useless 2 Cents*

    I was listening to an episode of the Dear Prudie Podcast and the first letter was from an introvert frustrated that their extroverted manager kept pulling them away from their one-on-one conversations and forcing them to “join” large group discussions at a company-wide networking event. They ended up snapping at their manager to “go away” and now things were awkward between them. I thought the advice Prudie and her guest gave was just awful… basically apologize profusely to manager then polish off their resume.
    A couple of things I thought might be interesting to hear from the comments here:
    1. The first thing that struck me was the reserved/outgoing topic. Prudie & Guest really focused on the fact that OP didn’t want to join large groups but would instead break away for one-on-one conversations. It really seemed to me that if you were not “the belle of the freaking ball” you were “the awkward wallflower standing in the corner making people uncomfortable” and that type of thinking just makes me more frustrated the older I get. 1-3 people is my ideal, much more than 4 people in a discussion and I tend to shut down and feel uncomfortable and “on display” if I try to participate. A meeting I have no problem with that feeling, a conversation…not so much.
    2. I thought OP should speak with their manager. Apologize for snapping at them but explain how uncomfortable they made them at the event and discuss how to handle networking events in the future so they can both be happy.
    Anyone want to chime in?

        1. The Dude Abides*

          I initially missed Yoffe, then when the controversy came out re: the anti-trans mother in Missouri, that feeling went away instantaneously.

        2. Dark Macadamia*

          Every time an archive post ends up being Emily Yoffe I don’t even bother reading it. I don’t think Danny was great but every Emily response I’ve read is terrible advice spiced up with terrible puns lol

          1. Jinni*

            Ooof, I wanted that too, and they have that now with Harris, but her advice is the worst I’ve ever read in any column. She’s a people pleaser, and can’t spot abuse from a mile away. I had to stop reading for my own sanity.

        3. allathian*

          Yeah, me too. I liked Mallory Ortberg but not Daniel Lavery and quit reading after his transition. Apparently I can’t take advice from men. Admittedly I missed the Yoffe trans issues, though.

      1. Cookie Monster*

        My issue with Daniel was that he clearly did not have much (any?) typical office experience and so his answers about job-related questions were way off (no, you don’t go to HR for every little problem). But he was great with personal questions.

    1. kbeers0su*

      I agree this doesn’t make sense. Being an introvert is not wrong and should not be treated as such. And (we) extroverts need to start understanding that not everyone wants to be part of a large group all the time. Plus, there is great value in one-on-one conversations, especially in business. I don’t know why this boss would push this employee like they did, and I also don’t agree with Prudie’s answer.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      I haven’t seen/heard this one (auditory processing fail; I don’t really do podcasts) but I would wonder if the small groups actually served the same purpose as the large group. I’ve had a couple of coworkers who were happy to talk to me about ideas one-on-one, but the ideas were ones that really needed to be brought to the department, or at least our supervisor. But they were uncomfortable doing that and I finally got the feeling that they were hoping that I would do the presenting work for them. I hate getting stuck “translating” someone else’s ideas so I never bit, and the coworkers seemed frustrated that the ideas that they were unwilling to share weren’t somehow getting implemented, but . . . I’m not sure what else they expected.

    3. Tio*

      I listened to that episode and I think the main problem was that the OP did not try and take their manager aside, explain they were trying to get some one on one time with some people and build individual connections with extra time, and can you please let me spend a little more time with people? Instead of talking, they saved up the irritation and then exploded, and at someone higher up the food chain than them that they have to work with frequently. That would be hard to come back from, because they’ve now colored their boss’s first impression with that. While the manager was a bit rude or misguided by dragging OP around to new groups, it wasn’t a huge bad thing imo and could have been resolved with a quick conversation/explanation, NOT an explosion. OP does need to learn to handle their emotions better and may have poisoned the well there, which is where the job seeking advice came in.

      I’m not a huge Jenee fan, although she comes off better on the podcast than on the column, but I don’t think this one was terribly off base.

    4. RagingADHD*

      I haven’t heard the episode, but on the face of it, if someone publicly blew up at their manager and told them to “go away” in the middle of a networking event, I think profuse apologies and brushing up the resume are both good advice.

      The introvert / extrovert framing is a red herring. Being an introvert has nothing to do with being able to behave politely and professionally. It sounds like that person just has a bad temper and poor self-regulation, which is completely separate from introversion.

      1. Nela*

        “It sounds like that person just has a bad temper and poor self-regulation, which is completely separate from introversion.” – true, and I have all of the above (plus auditory sensory processing issues which make group conversations overwhelming) so I can empathize with the OP for sure… I never told my boss to go away, but I have snapped at people in the past when I got too overwhelmed or frustrated. It’s embarrassing, and it’s better to avoid it (=speak up early before frustration can build), but that’s a skill one needs to learn and get used to… Which takes time.

        In this situation, I’d apologize for snapping and try to explain what made me so frustrated, and hope that the boss has enough empathy to give our relationship another chance. People can absolutely recover from embarrassing incidents. The next step depends entirely on the boss’s reaction.

        1. GythaOgden*

          I think if you want your own issues accommodated, you have to be able to accommodate what others need. You’re probably not the only one with processing issues and being inflexible about how you work with other people will only really get in your way rather than in anyone else’s.

          Source: am neurodivergent and so introverted that I’m almost a hermit when I can be. Nevertheless, the world does not revolve around me or my needs, and if I do something as rude as what Prudie’s OP did, you bet I’d apologise and try to work better with them.

    5. fgcommenter*

      A quick and sharp “go away” is a good response to cut off constant interruption and harassment. It’s much like two recent letters about someone who was constantly being approached and confronted about visible physical damage: the cause of the problem is ignoring signals to stop insistently engaging, “snapping” is a valid way to go from “signal” to “direct”, and the burden of apology falls on the one who created the problem with constant interruption and harassment.

  22. Mimmy*

    Question two: customizing cover letters

    I know Alison says to tailor your cover letter for each job you apply to, but how specific do y’all really get? Her samples make it seem like you literally write a whole new letter for each job posting. That can be very time consuming, especially if you’re applying to multiple jobs at once. I know you have to at least not send the same exact letter to every employer–and I’m trying to not do that–but I’m finding it hard to bring myself to write a unique letter for each job I apply to.

    1. NameRequired*

      I have tried tailored cover letters and generic ones that I alter a bit for each job, and everything in between.

      My best time spent to results gotten ratio was from cover letters with polished language about previous experience that stayed pretty much the same, but with new language about what made the particular job exciting and how I thought my experience applied.

    2. Jaunty Banana Hat*

      I kind of have categories of language or points that I want to make. Right now I’m applying to managerish jobs and also just more individual contributor jobs. I’m playing down the language regarding my supervisory experience (though it’s still on my resume) and talking about my contributing experience more for those types of roles, but reversing that to accommodate the role. So it’s not a brand new letter every time, but it’s not the same exact letter.

    3. Sunshine*

      I think in an ideal world the letter would be unique to each job application but I don’t have time for that. If I’m applying to a bunch of very similar jobs, I normally keep the midsection of my letter the same, talking about how my experience is related to the job posting. Then I’ll add a few details in the intro paragraph that are custom to each company, and in the last paragraph I’ll say more specifically what about the company’s mission appeals to me and how I’d be an asset.

    4. Lady Danbury*

      I have a general format (intro, main body, closing paragraph) that I use for my cover letter. Instead of starting from scratch, I will usually tweak a CL from a similar job that I’ve previously applied to. The changes that I make incorporate the differences in the companies/roles, as well as my own research into the company (for example, highlighting an aspect of their culture that aligns with my own management style). It can range from only a few tweaks to completely rewriting examples of my experiences and/or the aspects of the role/company that I discuss, but the general format stays the same.

    5. Qwerty*

      It depends on how different the job postings are. If the job is similar to one I’ve applied for before, I copy that and tweak it – new cover letter in <10min. Even when I start fresh on a new cover letter, I pull up a couple old ones for reference and reuse a lot of sentences. Occasionally a job will be very different (like developer vs manager) or there will be something special about a posting that makes me want to start fresh.

    6. Tio*

      The higher up a position is, the more specific I would be. If it’s a fairly low level or generic position, then the cover letter would be a template with a few specific details. If it was something managerial or a position I really, really wanted, then I went much more in-depth on trying to pull the description and the cover letter together with specific examples.

    7. RagingADHD*

      If the job descriptions are nearly identical, I just update the info about who I’m addressing and what listing it is in reference to.

      If there is some specific information about the company or role that I can make a relevant connection with, then I’ll massage the language to include it, or swap out different pre-written sections.

      But most of them are so standardized, there’s nothing new to say.

    8. BadCultureFit*

      My cover letter strategy:

      -I work in communications, which has several specialty areas within it. I have a templated letter that talks about all of the areas of comms, but I edit the letter to highlight (or remove) certain experiences based on the specific job description.
      -As part of my template, I have a list of bullet points of accomplishments — and I will move the order of those around depending on the role I’m applying for. (Similar to above.)
      -I’ve worked in a variety of industries, so I’ll highlight the relevant one to match the role I’m applying for.
      -Sometimes I apply for a role I have a personal connection to — say, it’s a nonprofit with a mission I’ve supported via volunteer work. I’ll add that kind of personal touch when relevant.

      Having a long base template is what makes this easier — I end up cutting components of the letter for each job description, and only adding something if it is super specific to that particular role.

    9. GythaOgden*

      It’s not actually that bad. I’ve been doing it recently (to good effect) and creating a template is more time-consuming than doing it from scratch. Doing it from scratch also reduces the risk of not covering what’s in the job description or leaving in artifacts of previous applications, and even when I’ve had a saved template on our internal jobs networking page, every job is different and so the way I approach the raw material is different. The saved template is so different once I’ve finished the cover letter that I might as well have just started from scratch anyway.

  23. traveling while trans*

    I am a trans person in a city that feels safe to me, working for an organization that is supportive. However, we work with a lot of groups in areas that have been passing anti-trans laws, and I will be traveling to some of these areas.

    So, I’m looking for advice from other trans people: have you ever faced transphobia while working as a representative of an organization? What’re your strategies?

    (I know how to deal with things when not at work, but I’m not sure about while I am being professional)

    1. mreasy*

      No advice, I’m just so sorry you have to deal with this actual nightmare. Anti-trans bigotry and the legislators who target the trans community are scourges.

    2. Purely Allegorical*

      This might be an interesting q to take to your manager, if you feel they are open to a discussion. If the course of your work is taking you into spaces that are potentially unsafe for you, the org should be aware of that and have some policy guidance. Or at the minimum be able to give you some reassurance of how they will support you if you experience hostility/safety issues in carrying out your work.

      Not quite the same situation, but I have a friend who is a social worker for the mentally ill homeless. Her org has an order of operations for what to do should something go awry (which it has several times).

    3. Mynona*

      I am not trans, so feel free to disregard, but I live in MO, which is in the news for passing anti-trans laws. Be aware how the new laws might effect you and have a plan in place, like where to get medical care in an emergency. But know that the laws don’t change the locals. In my blue city, in my liberal field, the laws have only made people more outspokenly pro-trans, if that’s a thing. Know where you’re going.

  24. Vicarious Trauma?*

    Burnout survival tips? Small manageable things you do to make it through?

    Please help. I work a physically, emotionally, and mentally draining job. Like, top 5 field for burnout and vicarious trauma. I cannot leave yet because I’m waiting to pass some credentialing that will open up career opportunities for me. I need help getting through the next few months.

    What is the best thing you have done for yourself when experiencing burnout?

    1. Generic Name*

      I just took 3 mental health days off. I have a vacation planned in a couple of months. I’m trying to only care about what I can control, and not worry about other stuff.

    2. Eng Girl*

      A lot of this depends on your personal situation, but here are some things I’ve done. Keep in mind I am both single and child free, so generally speaking any time I’m not on the clock is genuinely my time.

      1.) Do your best to separate home and work. I was in the habit of checking my emails all the time. Like literally, if I woke up randomly at 2am I’d check my emails before I went back to bed. Eventually I cut myself off and said that when I left the car in the evening I was leaving work behind as much as possible. Sometimes it meant I sat in my driveway for half an hour, but it helped.

      2.) Find a neutral space that makes you calm. Part of the burnout for me was that I’d come home from work and then look around my house and get stressed all over because of all the work that also had to be done there. I like a manicured garden so I found a place semi-nearby where I could go and read a book for a while and just kind of zen out

      3.) Plan a day out of your weekend to be completely unproductive every now and then. I personally am a fan of champagne Saturdays where I would wake up put on a movie marathon and have mimosas.

      4.) find a hobby you can do with your hands and let your brain turn off. I took up crochet, and I have many many boring but colorful blankets I’ve made while watching Bravo.

      1. kbeers0su*

        Loving and seconding this advice.
        1) I take long walks with my dog on a trail near my house. There is nothing to stress me out there.
        2) As someone who was trained to ALWAYS be productive I’ve also adopted the practice of not feeling guilty for doing nothing on certain nights/weekends. It stressed me out the first few times I tried it, but I kept telling myself I deserved it and this is what normal people do.
        3) I paint stuff. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s utter crap. But it’s fun.

    3. Needanewcareer*

      I’m so sorry you are going through this and I can relate!

      I took a mindfulness meditation and gentle yoga class. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea and I honestly wasn’t sure it would help me. I’ve always been a meditation skeptic. But having an instructor guiding helped me.

      It mostly helped me with my sleep, dealing with intrusive stressful thoughts, and getting my brain focused off my work stresses during my off hours. The gentle yoga helped a little with physical tension.

      I also worked with a personal trainer doing strength and resistance training. And previously medical massage. If your job is physically taxing you may need more of the soothing, restorative physical movements. (I have a desk job.) Maybe even just sitting in a hot tub if you have access to one.

      These have costs associated but there are many free online resources too. Actually, almost too many so you may want to dig around to find what’s best for you.

    4. TPD Specialist*

      Vicarious trauma, compassion fatigue, and burnout are very common in my industry (correctional health care). First, do whatever you need to do to leave work at work! Second, if you feel like you’re trapped in your current job, you’re probably already at the point where you need to speak with a professional. Find a therapist, whether on your own or through your employer’s EAP. Third, do some low- or no-cost things that will improve your mood: listen to some favorite music; take a walk in a pretty place; sit outside somewhere, close your eyes, and listen to the birds; whatever is pleasant to you. Fourth, consider finding a yoga or tai chi class or even learning and doing those through YouTube videos. Finally, make sure you’re taking care of yourself physically by eating right as often as possible and exercising. I hope things improve soon!

    5. J*

      I had a friend who used FMLA leave to deal with it. I think she was smarter than me, who just waited until a layoff and had to deal with burnout recovery during the new job search.

      In general, how I fight it now is to 1) keep a firm end time at my work, 2) have robust hobbies and stop giving my best self to my job, 3) take jobs I’m overqualified or that are overstaffed for so I can have down time at work. My current job has a seasonal nature and we staff for peak so I do have downtime each quarter. It’s fantastic and did more for my mental health than attending lunch seminars my old job put on. I moved from a firm to in house legal support and I also had a big paradigm shift of what’s normal at one place doesn’t have to be the normal.

    6. Manders*

      Also realize what the stress does to you physically, and try to counter that. Whether it’s yoga, simple stretches, walking, full-on cardio – whatever feels good to you an relieves the physical stress you carry in your back, neck, etc, do that. It’s amazing to me what a few cat-cows and cobras can do for me before bed when I’m stressed (and I’m not a yoga person).

    7. Random Dice*

      Read the Nagoski book Burnout. It talks about biological ways to complete the stress cycle.

  25. Kimmy Schmidt*

    I’ve looked through the archives, but can’t seem to find an answer for a situation quite like this. I have a coworker who keeps trying to get me (and others) to take on more work that should fall within their purview. This coworker has a history of pushing work off onto others. I’m looking for some language to push back and set boundaries.

    The catch – working with this person and in this capacity kind of is within my role, and for any other coworker I’d be happy to help. I’m a librarian and there’s an expectation of collaboration and committee work for any shared duties, which this technically is. I can’t give a hard no, but I also should be end up doing roughly 5% of the work, while I think this coworker wants to push me closer and closer to doing the majority of it.

    1. cardigarden*

      Do you have enough other work that you can enforce boundaries like “I don’t have the bandwidth for x, or y, but I can do Z”?

      1. Lady Danbury*

        This. If possible, it might be helpful for you to create a set of rules of things that you will and won’t push back on. I wouldn’t share it with her, but sometimes it’s easier to enforce boundaries if you already have a plan that you’ll help with A and B, but never with C.

    2. kbeers0su*

      If the expectation is that you be involved as more of a consultant, then call it that. “I’m happy to share my thoughts and opinions on X with you.” If they try to push work onto you, I’d push back with something like “While I’m always happy to be a sounding board for X, I can’t take on the tasks myself because of my other responsibilities.”

    3. Goddess47*

      Document, document, document… So you have something concrete to discuss with your (I assume) shared supervisor. “Lucinda asked on [dates] if I would do X, which I thought was her share of the work, since I have already done/will be doing Y”

      And talk to your colleagues to do the same. If everyone is keeping track, and I’m assuming you have to do regular status reports, having a history of what is done by whom will, umm, encourage your supervisor to at least keep an eye on Lucinda.

      If nothing else, you are not being a ‘snitch’ for making sure your supervisor is aware.

      Good luck!

    4. Myrin*

      I’m quite sure I remember at least one letter dealing with these kinds of boundaries and telling colleagues that they should be doing something themselves but I can’t seem to find them right in this moment. I’ll keep looking and reporting back!

      1. Myrin*

        Okay, I found two!

        “how to tell someone “this is your job, not mine”” from Sept. 5 2017
        “how to say “that’s not my job”” from Aug. 18 2015

        I don’t think either of those are what I had in mind but I can’t find anything that matches my blurry memories. But maybe these will be helpful regardless!

    5. Ellis Bell*

      I think you’ve got two options: 1) Be really clear about the boundaries and give examples of how much you can do. Stress that you’re extremely busy right now, but in a similar situation with Lucinda, you did X, while she did y and z. You can do something similar, but no more. Or 2) If you think that option one would be giving an inch to someone who’d take a mile, give them the runaround. Be unavailable, while using phrases that stress that it’s their purview: “If I can think of anything that helps with YOUR issue, I’ll pass it along” Avoid in-person discussion and ask for it in email form. Email back asking for specifics of exactly what they need from you and say in writing exactly how much is reasonable for you to help with (their purview). People are more reluctant to put it in writing when they are trying to push work onto others.

  26. Over Doing Good*

    Hi all! Long time listener, first time writer. I’ve been in nonprofit fundraising for the past seven years and would like to pivot out of it. I’ve pretty much “done it all” when it comes to fundraising—writing, marketing, gifts from $100 to $100,000. But I don’t really want to go into sales and I feel like that’s the only thing people see when they see my resume. Any thoughts? Thanks all!

    1. Julia*

      Hi! I have literally no firsthand experience with this, but maybe investor relations? I imagine your relationship-building skills would translate well. I’m not sure how sales-y it is but I’ve heard it described as another form of PR.

      1. Over Doing Good*

        I literally didn’t even know this was a thing! This seems really promising, thank you!

    2. Decidedly Me*

      If you’re not doing this already, tailor your resume to the job you’re applying for. Applying for a marketing role? Highlight your marketing achievements with a lesser mention towards the sales ones.

    3. gsa*

      Grant writers make 10% of the grants that are approved, at least in SE USA.

      I was with my father-in-law when he dropped off a $50,000 check to a grant writer who helped the nonprofit win a $500,000 grant.

      gsa

      1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

        That is…not correct. Fundraising code of ethics prohibit fundraisers from being paid a % of what they bring in. Either there is a miscommunication about what that $50k was for, or that organization is hugely unethical. Grants also have strict parameters on how they can be spent and they have to report every penny back to the funder, and funders categorically will not agree to spend 10% on admin costs in general, not to mention just the single grant writer…

        1. gsa*

          Tina Belcher’s Less Cool Sister,

          All I know is they paid grant write $50,000 because they were able to get the non-profit org a $500,000 Grant.

        2. abcdef*

          I want to echo what you said here. Grant writers on staff do NOT get paid a percentage of the grants that they successfully bring in. GSA is incorrect (or their father-in-law is engaged in some super shady nonprofit practices).

        3. Yes and nope!*

          I’ve very occasionally seen the “take a cut” model posted in job ads for small/new nonprofits that are seeking an independent contractor to be a grant writer and don’t want to spend money they don’t have to hire said grantwriter. It is very likely illegal (flouting the letter of nonprofit tax law and the spirit of minimum wage laws) and very much not the norm.

    4. gsa*

      Grant writers make 10% of the grants they win, at least in the SE USA.

      The nonprofit, my father-in-law volunteers for just one a $500,000 grant. The writer got $50,000.

    5. Purely Allegorical*

      I would also search ‘strategic partnerships’ or ‘partner relations’. Lots of foundations or think tanks or other orgs rely on building strong relationships with like-minded individuals or other orgs, which often means having them contribute money. These roles can be very highly paid! And I think the skillset would transfer well. Focus on your ability to build strong and enduring relationships, with repeat donors/customers.

    6. Jinni*

      My friend who did this for years has done two things: communications – playing on her skills as a writer (for grants, marketing/fundraising materials), and second, program development. Her nonprofit experience was mostly charter schools, so there was an opportunity to observe how programs were developed from grants received, and she parlayed that into a different job. (She returned to grant writing/fundraising between these forays).

    7. Sarcasm Required*

      What do you want to piviot into? There’s a ton of stuff out there for career change job searching (and some things for figuring out what’s right if you don’t really know) but the jist is that you emphesise the skills and experiences you want to keep using, and down play (or leave off) those no longer relevant to your new dream job.

  27. Jaunty Banana Hat*

    Do job applications not ask for references anymore? I’ve filled out 7 applications this round of job searching and none have asked for references. I’ve had to provide names of supervisors but that’s it. I feel like in the past I’ve had to provide that information upfront when applying (even though they’re not contacted unless you’re a finalist). Do they ask for it later in the process?

    1. A Penguin!*

      They definitely do, but not universally. I haven’t been asked for my references for quite some time, probably not until 4 or 5 jobs back. BUT I know it’s still a thing because I’ve been called (in the last year-ish) as a reference for several of my former employees, by people who would have only known to call me if said employee/now applicant had provided my name (ie I didn’t have any connection of my own to the reference-checker).

    2. I should really pick a name*

      I can’t remember the last time I was asked for references at the application stage (note: I’m in Canada, not sure if that makes a difference)

      I’ve had to provide names of supervisors but that’s it.

      What more would you expect as part of a reference request?

      1. Jaunty Banana Hat the second*

        I’ve had multiple supervisors at my current job and I’d rather provide those names than previous supervisors at jobs that aren’t relevant. They can actually speak to my work in this field, how I work on a team, how I supervise my team, etc. My job prior to this I was a team of one and my job mostly ignored me. He wouldn’t be a strong reference and wouldn’t know anything about my current expertise.

        I also don’t want them to call my current supervisor because I’d rather she not know I’m job searching. It wouldn’t put my job at risk, but it would make things awkward.

        1. Jaunty Banana Hat the second*

          That should say “My job prior to this I was a team of one and my boss mostly ignored me.”

    3. Lady Danbury*

      I don’t think I’ve ever included references in an application, in almost 2 decades of applying in 3 different countries. I’ve always been asked for my references in later rounds, which is still the norm in my current job search.

    4. Tio*

      They don’t always. And I got my current job, a fairly high level position, without any of the references I did provide being contacted at all.

    5. JelloStapler*

      My experience in HigherEd is that they do it later in the process after interviews.

    6. RagingADHD*

      Must depend on the company. I’ve filled out a number of reference requests in the last week, but overall in the last few months I’d guesstimate it’s less than 10 percent of applications.

  28. Applesauced*

    Instagram and coworkers – to follow or not?

    I’m at a small company (15-20 employees) and know that a few of my coworkers (peers, not managers) have Instagrams. Is it weird to follow them / allow them to follow me?
    I post very infrequently and nothing scandalous (vacations, my dog, sometimes food)

    1. Kayem*

      I always err on the side of never following coworkers and not letting them follow me (even to the point of blocking coworkers pre-emptively). But I had early experience with office drama that was made worse by connecting with coworkers on social media, so I’m extra skittish. I would say it depends on your office culture and the overall vibe. If you’re unsure, you could talk about it in conversation without asking them directly, just to get a feel for where people stand. Some might not want coworkers following them, some might be ok with it.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Weigh the pros and cons. Having them follow you seems low stakes, given what you generally post. But think a bit harder about following your coworkers. What do you expect to gain by following your coworkers? What problems might arise?

      Questions I would ask myself (to gauge potential problems):
      – How would I feel if I saw they followed (or like a post by) a political figure I don’t like?
      – How would I feel if I saw them going on fancier vacations than me?
      – How would I feel if I saw them post beach photos the same day they took off sick?

      For me, personally, the answers are:
      – less inclined to be outside-of-work friends but still able to have a professional relationship
      – don’t care
      – assume they are posting old photos from their sickbed

      If your answers are similar, I think you’re in the clear.

    3. I should really pick a name*

      Unless you’re actual friends with them, I wouldn’t.
      It just feels like it opens up opportunities for complications.
      What would be the benefit of following them?

    4. Lady Danbury*

      I’m firmly in the NOT camp. I don’t have anything to hide, but I prefer to have more of separation of my work life and personal life. The only exception is coworkers that I am genuinely friends with (as in plans outside of work friends, not just friends during work).

    5. Donkey Hotey*

      I have a very strict “no current coworkers” policy for social media. The good news is that when I change jobs, I get a whole new wave of friends. Of course, it’s always entertaining to see who runs away screaming after they see my political posts (At my last job, I was about as far to the left of center as most of my coworkers were to the right of center. Imagine their surprise when they learned the friendly, helpful guy was *gasp!* a liberal.)

      1. I have RBF*

        LOL!

        I have a personal policy on not following coworkers on anything but LinkedIn. Former coworkers? Sure, I’ll follow them on places like Twitter with my wallet name account.

        1. Donkey Hotey*

          I don’t know if you’ll ever see this as I’m late in replying, but I love the term “wallet name.”

    6. J*

      My rule is no current coworkers, except if I’ve hung out with them outside of work (and not just work happy hours). I also let them add me first. I keep a public profile so I know it’s out there but I don’t invite the closeness. For me, nothing I do online is shameful but I don’t overlap work and personal very often and I view social media under personal. I’ve done a soft block when people I’m not comfortable with have followed me (you block and then unblock them so it makes them unfollow you) but even that might invite attention.

    7. Tio*

      No one current is allowed on my socials. Because if I found they did something I was really against, like politics or MLMs or anything else off putting, while I could be professional, it would still color my opinion of them. And it just makes life easier to NOT have that knowledge in my brain.

    8. Too Many Tabs Open*

      I follow and am followed by some of my coworkers on Instagram; our workplace culture and general field is one where that’s not a weird thing to do. However, I also only post things I’m okay with work knowing about — craft projects, photos of local flora and fauna, objects with interesting stories, books I’m reading. If I’m posting photos about a trip, it’s one my workplace knew about and it’s after I’ve gotten back.

  29. Breezey*

    Looking for advice from people who went on FMLA for mental health issues.

    I started using FMLA a few weeks ago (still going to work, but working less hours) after suffering from insomnia for almost two years.

    A major source of stress for me is my boss/job, and I thought that’s what led to the insomnia. But I realized I’m constantly worrying and dreading other things too, and I feel worthless, like a failure and hopeless, so I think I may have developed anxiety and/or depression at some point. I’m trying to get an appointment with a mental health professional. (The first one I called just got back to me and said she’s not accepting new patients. Ugh!)

    I worry about my boss asking me when I’m going to start working full time again.

    Is it okay to keep using FMLA until I feel like I’m actually getting better (what if that takes a few months?). I feel awkward about not having a specific date in mind for returning to full time work.

    Should I tell my boss that I’m seeking mental health treatment if they bring up my FMLA? How much detail would I have to go into? Should I tell HR if I start seeing a mental health professional? Or would I not need to tell them unless they wanted to stop my accommodation? (I think I do have to “renew” it after a certain number of weeks.)

    1. FashionablyEvil*

      I would say something like, “I’m working on figuring out some health issues, but it’s taking some time to get appointments with the right specialists. I’ll keep you posted as my care team and I figure things out.”

      In the meantime, do you have a PCP who might be able to help with documentation?

    2. Robert Smith's Hair*

      Hang in there, friend. You aren’t worthless. Have you tried BetterHelp and/or Talkiatry? I use BetterHelp for talk therapy and Talkiatry for my meds (anxiety and depression). BetterHelp is out of pocket, but Talkiatry goes through insurance. All are telemed as well. For BetterHelp, switching therapists is super easy – you don’t have to tell them you’re changing, you just do it. Anyway, I’m rooting for you.

    3. Three Cats in a Trenchcoat*

      How much detail you give is likely going to depend on whether or not you are using any short or long term disability leave, and what your organizational FMLA forms may look like. I am a clinician, so I fill out a LOT of these kinds of forms, and they vary wildly from company to company / insurance company to insurance company in how much information they require. Personally, I always default to giving the least detail possible, you can always clarify later if more is required.

      As far as finding a clinician, if you live in an area large enough, there may be psychiatric residencies or psychology training programs, and often their wait lists are shorter.

    4. The teapots are on fire*

      Maybe look to see if you can go to an IOP (intensive poutoatient therapy) program. You’d miss more work but might get a big kickstart on treatment.

    5. Double A*

      I had what used to be called a nervous break down and could not go back to my job. The issue was largely caused by my job. My therapist did indicate the diagnosis (now called “adjustment disorder”) on their letter they wrote putting me out, but I had almost no contact with my job when I was out and didn’t talk to anyone about why. I also didn’t return to that job and the issue resolved.

    6. Once too Often*

      My doc sent a letter to my employer’s HR saying he was pulling me out of work, on medical leave, without stating why. That’s all they needed for FMLA. Doc sent another letter to extend it.

      (My employer ran FMLA with short term disability, as they don’t pay us for FMLA. Was grateful to have some money coming in.)

      Please take care of yourself. Your employer will manage.

    7. anxiousGrad*

      Please consider bringing up the insomnia and anxiety/depression with your GP in addition to seeking mental health care. When I had these issues I went to a psychologist and didn’t bring any of it up with my GP until later I became very sick. It turned out that I have hypothyroidism, and my mental health is sooooo much better now that I’m on thyroid medication. Therapy was still a really important part of improving my mental health, but I wish that I had brought these issues up with my doctor sooner. A lot of physical health problems can cause mental health issues and sleep disturbances.

    8. Recently Retired*

      I attempted to find a psychologist in February 2022, but couldn’t find one I liked and just buckled down again. Things continued to get worse over the year and I found myself too stressed to work 40-hr/week, using up my PTO, even after successfully interviewing and starting a job/promotion with another department of my division (appx 8,000 employees in this city).
      I considered unpaid PTO and STD, but ended up getting paperwork for me to take intermittent FMLA. My company permitted intermittent FMLA, with appropriate recommendation from Dr.
      I found a psychologist who was accepting new patients and was willing to meet in person, but she didn’t want to deal with the insurance paperwork. (FMLA and STD were from the same insurance company.)
      I had met with my PCP for my annual, so I made an appointment asking him to do the paperwork. He didn’t see how I would want to be okay working 3 days/week, when I had been crying in frustration in his office the month prior.
      Anyway, after calculating my financial situation (just turning 62, no kids, upcoming final spousal support payment to my ex-, influx of money from my mother’s estate, new roommate who agreed to do 80% of cooking), I decided to bail before the end of the year. I could feel the stress leave through the tips of my fingertips. My FMLA was approved in November. HR for new management hadn’t even gotten my transfer and promotions activated in the three months I worked for them. I cancelled my second appointment with the psychologist because all I had discussed at our first visit was the positive, retirement news.

      I wish you luck in your FMLA. The only relevant advice I can give you is to find out exactly how many hours of FMLA your company allows and how many months you have to use it in. I think that my hours were the equivalent of 6 weeks of 40-hrs/week (240 hrs) to be used over a maximum of 6 months.

  30. Justin*

    Since “school” is part of this thread, and my side hustle is, uh, being a public-facing academic, I took part in a filmed discussion about racism, ableism, and subways (for, uh, reasons that are in the news) and since I was on the channel of a popular youtuber, it’s the most exposure I’ve ever gotten. This is a very odd feeling to know how many people are seeing my work now (since it’s all linked below the video).

    But taking a moment to appreciate this moment since there’s never a guarantee it’ll happen again.

    To turn this into a question…. How do you celebrate unexpected professional wins? Not like a promotion or a new job since people kind of know how to celebrate those.

    1. debbietrash*

      Congratulations! To quote Parks and Rec: Treat yo’self! It can be as simple as a fancy coffee or fancy pastry (or both??). Or taking yourself out for drinks or a nice meal. Just do something to mark the occasion and celebrate yourself in a concrete way.

    2. statcat*

      Save documentation, etc about them in a folder for when you need a confidence boost! I think the unexpected ones are particularly good for that. Also, update your resume and enjoy how good it looks!

      1. Thunder Kitten*

        Keep a copy of it that someplace where you can access it if the youtube channel owner ever closes the account, or the video becomes unavailable.

  31. 1,000 Snails in a Lady Skin*

    I have an underperforming employee who’s struggled with deadlines and attention to detail for YEARS and I’ve been working with HR the whole time, but have seen no improvement overall. Finally was given the ok to terminate, but at the last minute HR said they want to put them on a 30 day PIP instead.

    The employee has STILL failed to complete work while on a PIP, but now as we’re nearing the end of the 30 days, HR is saying we need to extend the PIP by a few weeks “because it’s best practice.”

    Now I’m really frustrated. I’ve been struggling to get my other work done because of trying to manage this employee — and paying even closer attention than usual during this PIP is extremely draining and time consuming. Thankfully I have the support of my boss who is aware of everything going on, but still have aggressive goals to meet.

    Is this normal to have HR let things drag on so long? I welcome any thoughts and support!

    1. cardigarden*

      Does your employee have behavior or attendance issues beyond this? Because with my situation, my HR department was far more responsive to those rather than performance. (I say responsive… he had a combative episode that was witnessed by HR that only resulted in a written warning, whereas performance issues had them initially making sure with me that I didn’t have too high expectations for someone of a low administrative rank even though he’s been working at the company for just about as long as I’ve been alive.)

    2. Rick Tq*

      Who in your hierarchy has the authority to overrule HR, and can you get that person’s support?

      If your direct boss can do it they should step up and make the current PIP the end of the process. No soi-disant ‘best practice’ extension so HR doesn’t have to do the unpleasant part of their job.

      1. pally*

        Might check the employee manual regarding PIPs, discipline, terminations and such. HR ought to be abiding by what’s in the employee manual. Unfortunately, some employee manuals are written so vaguely that it allows HR to make up the rules for specific situations.

        Sounds like HR just doesn’t want to terminate this employee. Maybe they fear something (such as a lawsuit, or there’s nepotism at play here).

    3. Robert Smith's Hair*

      Can you just say…no? Provide all the documentation over the years and say that’s enough, let’s not prolong this as it’s affecting morale and productivity.

      1. kbeers0su*

        This. If you told the employee the PIP was the last straw, it’s the last straw. HR needs to stand by their word or they will have no trust from the rest of the organization. Employees talk to one another and others are going to get wind of this.

    4. Random Academic Cog*

      This is basically my experience with HR as well and it’s beyond excruciating because of all the extra work – the work the employee was supposed to be doing, the work of documenting every-freaking-thing for months so you have what you need to take to HR in the first place and then the follow-up, and the extra work of meeting with HR over and over (and over). After going through the entire process, I get why so many people don’t bother and just find workarounds for the slackers. I have a lot more compassion for those managers than I used to, for sure! That said, there’s no way to lawsuit-proof your decision. Especially if your useless employee happens to fall into one or more protected classes. You document everything, make fair and consistent decisions, and trust that it will all stand up in court if it comes to that. Good luck!

  32. Needanewcareer*

    Help! What am I qualified to do?

    I am burned out on my current job, which I’ve done for many, many years. I am at the point where I just want to quit, even though I cannot (my partner has been out of work for months and we’re both in our 50’s and 60’s and physically disabled). I’m hoping the wisdom and diverse experience of Alison’s readers might be able to help me.

    I work as a meeting and event planner in a sales & marketing organization. This was not a dream job or a job I sought out. I happen to be very organized so I got pulled into it and early on I really enjoyed learning all the in’s and out’s of the work. I was also young, physically able to lift/stand/do air travel, and single so traveling all the time was not a minus for me.

    But the truth is, I hate the “let’s conquer the world and sell, sell, sell” corporate environment I work in. Our company doesn’t make the world a better place. I’m not a competitive person so none of this vibe is motivating to me. I much preferred our company in the early days when we were slower paced, smaller, and I knew everyone.

    I’m not a Luddite and in many ways in my personal life I use and enjoy the fruits of the digital world. But at work, I really don’t. I can and do learn new productivity tools, but I don’t go along with the ideas that *just* because a tool is shiny and new, it’s great. I still want it to work well and I resent having to do a bunch of workarounds when it doesn’t. I’m a weird analog, pen and paper, talk to someone face to face (phone maybe) kind of person. I feel like I don’t fit in at all.

    So except for the money and benefits, nothing about my current job is good for me.

    Knowing these things, are there any jobs out there I might be a good fit for? I have decades of meeting and event planning experience. I have lots of other related marketing type experience, but I don’t enjoy that work. What other careers might be a good fit for me?

    1. Sunshine*

      I worked in the student affairs department at a university and there was a LOT of event planning. I believe the title of the more event planner-y role was Program Coordinator. You might enjoy that! It takes so much time for ANYTHING to change in academia so you won’t have to worry about constantly hyping up new technology or anything like that, and you’re doing it to help the students which can feel like a noble cause (except when they act like spoiled brats, but that’s another story)!

      The university I worked at had its own “temp agency” that I found through the university job board. It was easy to try out several jobs to see what I liked, but I don’t know if that’s common or not!

      1. Needanewcareer*

        That’s a great suggestion, thank you! I wondered if transitioning to the academia field might fit.

        1. Lily Rowan*

          My impression is that Student Affairs pays REALLY poorly, but there are lots of events-type roles in academia, in alumni affairs, at conference centers, etc.

          1. kbeers0su*

            Lily is correct. Positions do not pay well in higher ed, except at some outlier institutions. There are a lot of “administrative” roles that also handle this kind of function for a department- like an executive assistant but for a group of faculty/staff. Some are in Student Affairs (so more student contact) and some are for academic faculty/staff (so more faculty contact). Just know that raises are almost non-existent in these worlds, and unions have a big impact on hiring (preference for internal candidates).

            1. Nope!*

              While the pay is often poor, the benefits are often quite good. My siblings, who both make very high 5 figures, are jealous of the retirement match at my university. Granted, the dollar amounts work out to be about the same, but it’s costing me less of my paycheck than it costs them.

    2. Goddess47*

      Event management is a specific form of project management… you may want to see if there is an active Project Management group in your area that you could join and use for networking. They may also be suggest ways to ‘spin’ your skills into other areas.

      Good luck!

      1. Ali + Nino*

        I agree project management could be a good fit and the great thing is it’s a role that’s needed in a lot of different industries.

        My other thought is executive assistant – for assisting very high-up execs these jobs could pay very well with very good benefits. Organization, familiarity with tech, and being on top of stuff – all very important.

    3. BellyButton*

      My Learning Coordinator does a lot of event planning, booking rooms, ordering supplies, ordering catering, sending invites, planning celebrations. She does have to use some systems and programs- outlook, Excel, the Learning Management Software- all those are fairly basic and I would assume anyone could use them and learn the basics of the LMS which aren’t difficult.

    4. Tangential Tangerine*

      Sending solidarity. My purpose-driven self is currently in a place that is very capitalist / digital / ambitious / fast, and it’s crushing me! Everyone here is excited about making the next food ordering app or grabbing more customer data and it makes my skin crawl. I just want to do thoughtful work. :(

    5. The Prettiest Curse*

      A lot of my event planning experience has been in nonprofits (currently I’m in higher ed), and they tend not to have the budget for snazzy new software. The work is more meaningful and less corporate – but the downsides are lower pay, more potential for burnout due to lower staffing levels and the constant, crushing pressure to fundraise. So you really have to decide whether those potential trade-offs might work for you.

      If you’re interested in a move within the events world, you could consider working as a venue manager, an association of events professionals or for a tourism/meetings bureau. I’ve never worked in any of those environments, so can’t speak to the technology situation, but your skills would probably translate over well.

      1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        I worked as an event planner for a not-for-profit, and I never had to do any fundraising. I was in the same division as the fundraisers, as were our membership managers/coordinators, but they were separate jobs. It might depend on the size of the organization.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          In both of the nonprofits I worked in, the big fundraising events (galas etc.) were planned by the fundraising staff, and if an event didn’t hit the financial target, they were expected to resign. (Luckily, I planned trainings and educational events, so this didn’t affect me as much.) I’m sure that arrangement isn’t typical of every nonprofit, though.

  33. Cj*

    I have a lot of issues with AI, like lack of accuracy and people not being compensated for the use of their work, but I have a couple specific questions regarding the use of AI in a business setting, and I’m curious about other people’s opinions.

    there’s been a lot of discussion about AI taking jobs away from people. obviously, if this affects you or a loved one, you’re going to be concerned about this. but, as a society, this is something we should be terribly concerned about? when cars were invented, people were upset because it meant livery stables would go out of business. there were no PCs when I was in high school and college taking accounting courses, and everything took at least four times as long to do manually as it does now, but there are still plenty of accounting jobs. we may need government programs to retrain people, but that’s been done before.

    the other question is regarding students using AI to generate papers. if the accuracy issues are solved, and businesses start using AI regularly, should it be okay for students to use it? if that’s what they’re going to be using at work, should they actually be using it in school so that they learn to use good prompts to get the type of information they need? obviously, they wouldn’t be adding anything new, but I’m talking about a report on something like the rise of the Nazi party and Hitler, that you would use existing sources for too write your report anyway.

    totally off this topic, but does anybody have any idea why using speech to text is not capitalizing the first word of my sentences? there is an issue while back where it was only happening on AAM but this is happening no matter what program I’m using.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      I thought you meant Adobe Illustrator and I had concerns about whose typing whole papers in illustrator LOL

    2. Hlao-roo*

      there’s been a lot of discussion about AI taking jobs away from people… but, as a society, this is something we should be terribly concerned about?

      I’m inclined to think “no,” for all the reasons shown by your examples of past disruptive technologies. In the short term, some jobs/skills will be less in demand (and some, more) so some people will be laid off/have to find a different career path. In the long term, I don’t think this will cause mass employment any more than automobiles or computers did.

      should it be okay for students to use it?

      I think something like ChatGPT is similar to a calculator. It’s a tool we can use to do math/writing better and faster, but we still teach students arithmetic because it’s important to know what the calculator is doing. Similarly, I think students should be taught writing, both at the sentence diagraming level (understanding subject-verb-noun, etc.) and at the essay level (creating an argument and supplying evidence to support your stance). I don’t have a strong opinion on if or how much ChatGPT should be used in classrooms, but I do think students should learn how to write without it before they learn to write with it.

      1. Lady Danbury*

        Completely agree with both answers. I remember when I was taking an accounting class, I asked a family member who was an accountant for help with my homework and she responded that she never did those kind of problems because they had computer programs for that. That doesn’t mean that new accountants shouldn’t have to learn the basics of accounting. Understanding fundamental concepts is still important even if they aren’t used directly on the job. At the very least, the fundamentals help you to understand what the computer programs are producing.

      2. Kayem*

        Agreed regarding ChatGPT. Plus if they’re going to use it to write their papers, they need to know how to write so they can edit out the mistakes and glitchy writing (at this point in time).

        Related: I showed ChatGPT to my mom earlier this year. I was using it to write silly things like odes to random objects.* Then I decided to have it generate a history paper about the thing she worked on her whole career. It spewed a lot of incorrect facts and just made up some stuff that wasn’t even close.

        * ChatGPT sure loves sonnets and ode styles with classic meter but it can’t seem to handle poetry formats outside that. My efforts to get it to write a poem about mac and cheese in the style of T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land failed miserably.

    3. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      Eh the truth is that it seems like a big scam. Have a machine put out crap, have humans ‘ edit’ it,pay the humans less. and are you in the US? what training? lol

      1. Sunshine*

        This. Not to mention, as a marketing writer, there’s a lot of “why” behind the way I write that AI doesn’t (yet) grasp. It’s not just putting sentences on a page. AI can only regurgitate what else is out there, which is not the mark of high-quality content. It’s not even very useful for me as a research tool because there’s no guarantee that it’s accurate.

        I wonder what it will be like in a few years when the Internet is flooded with AI-written articles. I’m imagining that there will be a Google algorithm update penalizing AI-heavy websites as low-quality and everyone will have to scramble to rewrite it all, just like when keyword stuffing went out of style.

        1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

          Yes I really appreciate a well written sentence or an insight that I didn’t have before so AIis a turn off on articles. for the writing I do for work you have to know what is important, have a good memory of what has happened and write it way less concisely than I do lol

        2. Kayem*

          I’m already seeing a crapload of AI written articles, especially when I’m trying to find information comparing two things or a status update on something. I’m also seeing a lot of help articles written by AI. A whole lot are easy to pick out because they regurgitate the same information multiple times. And not in a I-need-to-pad-the-word-count way, it’s nowhere near that clever. And it’s often within the same paragraph or the exact sentences are used in the next paragraph or section. It’s aggravating because it clutters up the results.

    4. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I suspect this is going to end up as one of those situations where how it turns out depends heavily on how it’s handled. In the US, it’ll be handled terribly (unless there is dramatic and significant change in how things are done, but honestly that would likely be something like a revolution or civil war).

      It doesn’t have to go terribly. Tons of people don’t have to be hurt in the process. But it very early can go that direction.

    5. Kayem*

      One of the tasks in my job is to help train an AI that will (theoretically) eventually take over major tasks of myself and my direct reports and (theoretically) our current jobs. Which is kind of weird, slightly unsettling in a way but overall, I’m not worried. As it currently stands, the AI, while good at what it does, has enough issues that we still need human evaluation of its output. Though even where the AI is pretty great, we have adapted our processes so that our results are even better than before while If anything, we’ve increased our need of humans as a result of AI.

      I can’t go into specifics, but say we have 10,000 teapots and they need to be categorized by color. We hire humans to categorize the color of each teapot. Some teapots are going to have patterns or be multicolored, so we have to decide which color best represents that teapot. The more complex the pattern or more colors, the harder it is to pick one color. So to make sure humans are being accurate, we spot check by some teapots randomly getting categorized twice. Which works well enough but can be time consuming if we have a lot of teapots. And with only some teapots being cross-checked, there’s errors that can slip through. There’s also sometimes teacups and broken teapots in the mix, which can’t be categorized and have to be handled by managers, which can put a stop to the whole process.

      With the AI, we have multiple things we can do with it. We can tell it to identify all the teacups and broken teapots and put those somewhere else. Managers still check to make sure it’s all teacups and broken teapots but with those set aside, we have fewer burps slowing us down. We can tell it to identify all the unpainted teapots, which helps cut down on clutter so humans can focus on evaluating the others. We also can have AI categorize all the teapots first. Then we have the human evaluators categorize all the teapots. Now all the teapots have been cross-checked instead of just a percentage and we can ensure accuracy is much higher.

      How the AI gets used depends entirely on our clients. Some will only use it to look for unpainted teapots, some want the whole package, some don’t want an AI anywhere near their teapots. Even before the AI was put into use (pushing ten years now, I think?), clients would pay for varying levels of teapot color categorization. A client who doesn’t want to spend much money was always going to want as few humans hired as possible, a client who wants the full shebang requires hiring extra humans.

      I’m sure at some point, the AI will get good enough that our human evaluators may no longer be doing the job they are today. Most likely, the task of sorting teapots by color will be taken over entirely by the AI and the humans will be doing adjacent tasks, along with new positions being created to help accommodates new processes.

      So I think that’s likely the case in general (emphasis on “in general”) when it comes to AI “taking jobs.” It’s less of robots putting humans out of work and more an adaptation to a new paradigm and adaptation in what’s needed. Like with your example of automobiles. Sure, now we don’t need wheelwrights as much as we used to, but now everyone needs an auto mechanic.

    6. Dark Macadamia*

      As an English teacher, the point of student writing is for them to learn the CRAFT. The content doesn’t matter as much as knowing what to do with it. It’s like when my students think they’re getting away with something when they use spell check or Grammarly – great, those are tools! Do you have the knowledge to use the tool effectively?

      1. Cj*

        yes, you definitely need to learn the craft of writing. otherwise, it’s like me getting annoyed with people that use QuickBooks with no bookkeeping training, thinking that the program will do all the work for them, when it’s actually garbage in garbage out.

        I was thinking something more along the lines of a history class like the example I gave on writing a report on Nazis, not being used in an English class.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          History writing also requires writing skills! If anything it’s more rigorous because of the added need to be able to gather and assess research sources.

          1. Cj*

            assessing the research sources is a good point. I can draw a parallel from that to when I look up tax information, I need to make sure that I trust the source, because there’s a lot of inaccurate information out there.

            1. Cj*

              I wanted to add, hraven help me when AI starts writing tax articles, because it is going to be drawing from all those inaccurate sources.

        2. ampersand*

          I would ask: what’s the point of having AI generate a paper? The purpose of writing a paper for a class is usually to demonstrate writing, research, or critical thinking skills, and/or to learn more about the topic.

          Far as I’m aware, AI isn’t (yet?) good enough to generate quality papers–and I feel fairly confident saying that no one who is using AI to write a paper for a class at this point in time is then fact-checking the AI. They’re trying to get out of writing a paper.

          But let’s say AI gets good enough to spit out something that’s accurate and well-written: what’s the student learning then besides maybe demonstrating that they can properly use AI? Why bother with requiring a paper if there’s no actual work/writing/critical thinking involved in the process? I can’t come up with a good argument for using AI to write a paper; it defeats the purpose. I can see it being useful in other contexts–just not this one.

      2. Tessera Member 42*

        Seconding the idea of teaching AI as a tool for writing, not a replacement for the process. I had my college composition students use ChatGPT this semester as an idea generator for their argumentative essays. They prompted AI to generate number of opposing arguments for their thesis statements, which they then used for counterargument paragraphs. So the students still had to do the work to come up with effective rebuttals for those opposing arguments, support both the opposing argument and the rebuttal with research, etc.

        I had the students use AI after brainstorming opposing arguments on their own, and asked how many found that AI had generated ideas they hadn’t thought of themselves, and about half indicated that AI had given them new – and in some cases, better – ideas to use in their essays.

    7. Sherm*

      No one really knows for sure, but you may be right about the job impact of AI. Plus, as was discussed on the post about remote work a few days ago, most people’s jobs actually don’t primarily involve writing at the computer, however it may seem that way in cyberspace.

      As for whether it’s okay for students to use AI, I think it depends on whether it is homework or an exam in class. For homework, some help from AI may be okay, but there would need to be strong checks in place to ensure that the student didn’t have AI write the whole thing. For in-class tests, unless it’s open book, the students should continue to rely on their minds alone, which I think will continue to be valuable and needed.

      Sorry, I can’t help with your speech-to-text issue. Maybe AI has a ways to go :-)

    8. Admin of Sys*

      In regards to AI and students, there’s a difference between having the AI explain something to you and using that information to write a paper, and getting the AI to write a paper for you. Primarily the difference is that learning to reword and analyze information into new coherent papers is the point of writing papers. Homework isn’t to churn something out, it’s to develop a skill. And while learning how to prompt an AI is a useful skill, much like learning good google techniques, it’s not the skill the classes are trying to teach. Using an AI to generate a paper is like using a computer to filter a photo instead of painting something in a watercolor class. Sure, you did something that involved skills, but they weren’t the skills you were taking a class in.

    9. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I am a medical coder, and people swore up and down that when we switched to electronic medical records and computer assisted coding, the machines were going to do it all and the people would be useless. I’ve been using both for 20 years, and while they are getting better, they’re still not smart enough to replace a coder’s actual judgement and we have to correct them all the time.

      Example from this morning, the medical record said “Patient is not experiencing headache, nausea/vomiting, or shortness of breath” and three guesses what the CAC wanted to code as symptoms.

      We have a team who’s primary purpose is to review coded claims before billing that hit errors in our scrubber system and make appropriate corrections, and 90% of their work comes from the 20% of our claims that are actually coded by the CAC and never touched by an actual human coder before it gets to that scrubber system.

      So personally, I’m pretty skeptical about the notion that AI is going to knock entire fields out of commission.

      1. Fushi*

        I agree with you in the sense that AI is not actually good at doing a lot of jobs that they’d be replacing, but I’m not sure that will be enough to prevent it from driving certain professions into the ground. Like, I can verify that machine translation is hot garbage, and even hotter garbage when working with languages that aren’t closely related to begin with, but plenty of clients still use it because they don’t understand the value of a good translation or even know what one looks like. You’re probably safe with something that even a complete goon would inherently value highly, like accurate medical records, but professions like writing that are already devalued can definely see rates driven so low by cheap machine alternatives that there’s basically no point in trying to do the work as a human.

    10. Qwerty*

      Jobs
      What happens when there are no “unskilled” or “low skilled” jobs? Will you pay for those people to have a fulfilling lifestyle while unemployed for the rest of their lives? (I dislike these skill-based terminology, but it is currently the standard language that I’ve heard)

      There are major issues with job retraining programs. Some of them are logistical like displacement factors. One big one is actual potential. Most of the people I know whose careers would be eliminated by major automation invasion would not be able to find a job again. I know some people who are only able to maintain a job when it is very basic like restocking shelves or moving stuff in a warehouse where they aren’t expecting to do any problem solving. I know others that couldn’t pass the remedial math class in their job retraining.

      A counter point to your examples of unreasonable panic over automation is farms. Automation machines help make the food cheap for all of us. But family owned farms got squeezed out and the percent handled by corporations who blast pesticides and damage land to get a quick buck increases every year.

      There were some good articles after the 2016 US election explaining how automation getting rid of labor jobs like farm hands, factory jobs, etc, was the fuel that made MAGA party so dangerous. When people are feeling left behind and disenfranchised, all it takes is a public speaker to claim to part of the same group and blame X demographic to unleash a dangerous situation and whole lot of bigotry.

      How AI is used

      I work in AI / Automation. The big issue is that most people are targetting the really easy stuff, partly because it is easy to program. Do you know how they sell these tools? By specifically saying the potential customer can lay off X people. Replacing humans is the business model.

      When they do go after a skilled job, the “job retraining” which is promised results in a significantly worse cost of living. Jobs paying $30-40/hour get eliminated and less than half the people get retrained and hired back on at $15/hour to run/support the machine. Do you want a 50% pay cut when your job gets automated away?

      Where AI and automation can thrive is when it does the stuff that humans are not good at or do not want to do. Work with the people in the industry you are disrupting – they’ll tell you where the AI would truly be helpful and grow the business rather than just trying to cut out a section of the labor force.

      Personally I think most of this is overhyped, but I do worry what damage we can do. If humans are approving loans and credit card limits, not allowing the humans to see demographic data like gender or race is used to prevent discrimination. But when AI does it, they access all your information and effectively end up making decisions based on gender or race because they are comparing you to their golden data set that was probably a white man. (Lots of articles on this when the Apple card came out)

      This is already a book so I’ll skip my comments on schoolwork

      1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

        Exactly.

        The new jobs available in practice tend to be fewer and much lower paid than the old jobs, less unionised, fewer benefits & protections.
        A feature, not a bug.

        The small number of new well-paid jobs created are often not something the displaced workers can do, even with retraining.

        We’ve seen this in the past as new tech comes in and destroys old jobs. sometimes leaving swaths of previously prosperous towns in poverty.

    11. The New Wanderer*

      There are some research areas on the misunderstood role and limitations of automation, particularly as a replacement for humans. “Ironies of Automation” and “The Substitution Myth” are two articles/chapters that come to mind. The general takeaways are: the expectations around automation and what it can do for us don’t match the realities, and rather than reducing staffing/training requirements it actually increases both in many cases. The increased complexity introduces all new sets of risks, too, so while automation might fix one problem, now you have a bunch of new ones you didn’t plan on.

      There are also a lot of real world examples of what happens when people think automation is fully capable of solving a problem for them (let’s say driving) and oops, suddenly it didn’t, but the sense of complacency interfered with a time-critical response.

      I think the LLM AIs are going to have a big impact on some fields, for sure, and change the nature of many jobs. But they’re not general, or human level AI, just extremely good predictive text algorithms. Because it’s dealing with language, the more the AI sounds like a person the easier it is to start believing that it can “think” like a person and give it more human-like attributes (or worse, responsibilities) than are appropriate for the actual AI capabilities. The AI still “hallucinates” and it will get harder to identify when it does. It still goes back to garbage in-garbage out and human experts will continue to be needed.

      1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

        Employers will bring in AI if it reduces labour costs
        i.e. the aim is fewer and/or lower paid jobs

    12. Irish Teacher*

      the other question is regarding students using AI to generate papers. if the accuracy issues are solved, and businesses start using AI regularly, should it be okay for students to use it? if that’s what they’re going to be using at work, should they actually be using it in school so that they learn to use good prompts to get the type of information they need? obviously, they wouldn’t be adding anything new, but I’m talking about a report on something like the rise of the Nazi party and Hitler, that you would use existing sources for too write your report anyway.

      As a teacher, I would say students should definitely not be using AI for things like that. If AI becomes something many people are going to use at work (and that does look likely), then yes, students should be taught to use it, but that doesn’t mean it should be used for everything and school is not primarily to prepare students for work.

      It has a number of roles and when teaching about the rise of the Nazi party, one of the main ones is to teach children to recognise things like propaganda and to understand how the Nazis rose to power in order to hopefully, prevent such a thing from happening again. The point of getting students to write an essay on it is to test whether they have read the topic in detail, thought about it, in the older years, thought about it and come to their own views and understanding about it. An AI generated report is not going to tell the teacher that the student has that understanding, only that they can type the correct prompts

      And yes, they probably should be learning but that is for a Computer Studies class, possibly an English class, not history class. The point of history class is to gain an understanding of the past and how that has contributed to the world that exists today and the point of a report is to prove that they have gained that understanding.

      I teach Digital Media Literacy and that probably should be offered to all students and things like learning to give AI the correct prompts could well be included in a class like that, but that doesn’t mean it should be used in every context. It depends on what is being tested. If the test is to see whether people can find accurate information, then using it seems reasonable. If the test is to see “do you understand the factors that caused the Nazis to rise so that you will recognise them if they happen again and hopefully will not respond by voting for extremists?” then…I don’t think using AI will show that understanding. Equally, if the test is to evaluate comprehension by see if a student has truly grasped the themes and issues raised by a novel read in class, using AI…will not necessarily prove that either.

      We’re not testing “can students find the information?” but rather “have they read and understood the information and thought about it enough to give a personal view on a topic like ‘what were the most important factors causing the rise of the Nazis?'”

      It’s like computers. We use computers at school sometimes, but kids still obviously aren’t generally allowed to use them in the State examinations. Or even textbooks. Again, while books are important, students obviously aren’t allowed to take textbooks into the State examinations.

      1. Cj*

        all excellent points. as a none teacher who hasn’t been in school for decades, this was a good reminder of why teachers have you write those reports in the first place.

  34. dark helmet*

    Hello! I’m a long time lurker, but never posted before. I have a friend who is trying to change careers to one that is adjacent to what they currently do but “the other side’ of things. They have a lot of overlapping skills, and some of the work overlaps as is. They saw an internal position that they, on paper, qualified for perfectly. Since it was internal, they contacted the hiring manager (this was something HR encouraged) and the hiring manager gave them an overview of the job and expectations. Friend thanked the manager, expressed enthusiasm, and applied. They were not selected, and also did not get to the interview stage. Would it be appropriate to ask the hiring manager what friend would have to do/what skills they would need to be considered for a similar role in the future? I normally wouldn’t consider asking, but since it is internal, maybe the norms are a little different?

    1. Needanewcareer*

      That sounds like a very reasonable ask and pretty normal. The only things to remember would be to make sure it doesn’t come across as questioning the hiring decision (puts people on the defensive) and frame it as you want to keep working there for many years and grow your career and just want some advice for how to do that. Good companies and good managers will understand and want to help.

      Good luck!

      1. 1,000 Snails in a Lady Skin*

        Agreed! Very normal to ask things like: how could I be more competitive next time? what skills should I be looking to improve at that maybe I was weaker at? any feedback for me about the overall process? etc

        For internal candidate, as a hiring manager I would very much expect to give this feedback, as I’d be more committed to helping grow someone’s career if they’re coming from inside the company!

        1. dark helmet*

          Thank you both! I passed the advice along and they plan on sending an email to ask what skills they can improve upon or work towards to be considered in the future

    2. Random Academic Cog*

      As long as it’s the person who applied asking, yes, that’s fine. I’ve had higher-ups (not my own reporting line) asking me why I didn’t interview an applicant who has a connection to them and it’s quite awkward and uncomfortable, even though I’ve always been in a position to bring every qualified applicant in for interview (niche field, but so niche most applicants don’t understand why they AREN’T qualified).

  35. Jisoo*

    I’m applying for a visa to work abroad (I’m a US citizen) and I’ve been told I need to get my previous employer to send me proof of employment. Does anyone know how to do this? I assumed I’d be able to email the request generic HR emails but I cannot find those on any of my previous employers’ websites. Should I be trying to dig up names/emails of individual HR employees? (My previous manager does not work at the company anymore so I assume they are not an option.)

    1. Foxgloves*

      Is phoning an option? You could call the main switchboard/ reception and ask either to speak to the HR department or for a generic email for them?

      1. MaryLoo*

        Instead of asking for a generic email for HR, ask to speak with someone in the HR department. Tell them you used to work there, you need proof of employment, and ask them how you would go about getting that.

        This way the HR person can tell you what to do, or send you to the proper person where you can make your request. Depending on the company, you have to include specific info when you make such requests.

        Sending your request to a generic email address without talking to an actual person makes it difficult to follow up.

        Also, the visa application might require a former employer to send them the proof of employment directly. In that case, ask your former employer to also send a copy of the proof to you.

      1. Rosie*

        No, it’s a government thing so there are a whole bunch of super specific documents they need.

  36. Irish Teacher.*

    Slightly random, VERY low stakes question: I was reading Alison’s description of exempt and non-exempt and she said teachers are always exempt. Does this mean there are no teachers who are paid hourly in the US? Or just that the rules on overtime for hourly staff don’t apply to teachers?

    In case anybody is wondering in reverse, here we have short term substitution where you could be subbing in a school for a couple of days and then you are paid hourly. I think even some maternity leaves are paid hourly.

    You can also have a mix of both. My first year in my current school, I had an 11 hour contract, so I was paid for those 11 hours even if I didn’t work them (we’d a half day, the class was on a trip, etc), but they usually gave me substitution work, up to another 11 hours that I was paid for by the hour.

    Teachers who are hourly still only get paid for the time they are standing in front of a class and not for planning time, correction time, time spent on discipline, helping with extra-curricular activities, etc, but like if there is snow and the school is closed, they don’t get paid.

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I audit school districts in one state, and teachers are salary, so exempt. They may get stipends or have hourly components of their pay, but the base pay is always salary. If not, it’ll be an audit finding. Interestingly enough, paraprofessionals are hourly (non-exempt) in this state, and there may be stipends as well. Both groups are not paid enough for the importance of their work and the amount of BS they have to put up with.

      Stipends are flat amounts paid for certain things – a required training, specific duties (like lunch monitor), etc. However, those same items often could be paid on an hourly basis, depending on how the district has things setup.

    2. Jen (they or she pronouns please)*

      Hourly and salaried are different from exempt/non-exempt, so it’s at least possible to have hourly teachers even if they all are exempt. However, I don’t know whether it happens since I’m not (or not really) a teacher, and not from the US.

    3. Peanut Hamper*

      Public school teachers in the US are generally exempt, although most of the governmental control for this exists at the state level, so what happens in one school district may not happen in one ten miles away that happens to be across the state border.

      Also, each district has a contract with its teachers’ union, and so things can vary by district. The last time I was teaching, the contract called out minimum amount of hours you have to be in the building, start and stop times, and that’s about it. There are also pay schedules for extra-curricular activities, although not all of those activities are paid. We do get paid for snow days, but our state only allows so many snow days per year, and then any beyond that are added to the end of the school year.

      Some contracts also provide comp time, so that if you attend a training during a Saturday or during the summer, you can take time off without penalty, but that is pretty rare. The last time I did a summer training (a week of eight-hours days) we were provided lunch and a small stipend that basically covered transportation.

      I have seen the situation where part-time teachers (who receive part-time exempt pay) then substitute for other teachers, but it is not part of their regular duties. In those cases, they received the going hourly rate for substitutes, but it was paid by the district, rather than by the substitute service. (Around here, all substitute teachers are managed by a third-party, for-profit business.)

      I have also seen full-time teachers cover other classes during their prep period, but this is generally an emergency situation (teacher is out sick at the last minute; no substitutes are available) and they don’t get any additional compensation for it.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Thank you (and to Jen and I’m a Little Teapot as well). That’s really interesting. It’s all very different here (which I guess is not surprising, as cultures differ), not least because teachers are generally paid by the government here, including substitute teachers (and most teachers in private schools too for that matter).

      2. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

        Well, not every teaching population has the luxury of a teacher’s union. That’s going to vary state-to-state, or even district-to-district, too. (I’ve taught in multiple states where there were not teacher’s unions to do any negotiating, so it’s always a bit frustrating to me to have people assume that we all have them).

        When I did substitute teaching (before I was a teacher under contract), that was a set amount per day. So sort of hourly, but not? It was also done through a third party temping service.

        And it’s super normal for teachers to not get paid for extra hours spent on the job, even if it’s not in the contract–things like bus duty, game day ticket sales/booth manning, after-school tutoring, etc. Though often if a teacher coaches a sport, there is a small stipend for that.

        1. Buni*

          I did a lot of supply (subbing) in the UK and it was always a) a flat day rate, and b) through a private agency. I signed up with about 3 different agencies to maximise my chances. You could negotiate with the agency as to what your day-rate would be depending on e.g. experience, longevity, travel time, reputation (both your’s and the school’s!) but it was only ever really +/- £10-25 either way.

      3. Flower necklace*

        Teachers in my district get paid if we cover during our planning, but that was only instituted in the past year or two due to the shortage of subs and teachers.

  37. Sleeping Sun*

    Any advice on how to remain calm and professional around someone with whom you are at BEC level?

    I have a colleague that is driving me nuts (I think this will be obvius with the context, but I’m a woman): doesn’t listen, tries to tell me how to do my own job, wants to give input in every project or conversation even if he doesn’t know anything about it, mansplaining… you know the type.

    Talking with our boss won’t help (already tried), I’m job searching for this and other reasons and expecting an offer in the next couple of weeks from a company that I’m excited about, so I just need to keep my head down, have civil interactions with him and if/when I give my two weeks notice will let HR know about the issues with this person.

    1. Robert Smith's Hair*

      I asked an exec coach about this and she told me not to let my behavior be determined someone else’s. You rise above/remain professional so you can look back on the interaction and be proud. You own your own behavior, make it worth it.

      1. Sleeping Sun*

        I try to do that, every time we are both in the office, but at this point am running out of coping mechanisms from not letting it bother me.

        1. Robert Smith's Hair*

          Can you make it a game? Like a ridiculous bingo card? But mostly….I’m sorry. I totally get it and it’s so frustrating.

    2. Alexis Rose*

      You don’t need to be positive/upbeat/cheerful, but you do need to be neutral and civil, at the very least. Keep in mind that YOU know the whole history of your interactions with this person and why they are driving you up a wall, so getting frustrated or snapping or otherwise demonstrating that you aren’t on the best of terms with him makes sense in YOUR head, but no one else has that history and you risk being labelled as difficult or unprofessional, even though you are having a normal emotional response to something really aggravating. It can impact your reputation, even if you are not the cause of the conflict or the instigator.

      Every time you interact with this person, coach yourself to be neutral. Try not to vent about them to other coworkers, is is a greater than 0 chance that it could backfire on you. Try to reframe this as “I’m being neutral and civil for myself and my own benefit, not for the BEC.” Making yourself look good, especially when someone else is behaving badly, is the best revenge.

      One thing you could consider is documenting things that are particularly overstepping, weird comments, etc. (date, what was the situation, was anyone else around, what you did about it). This serves two purposes:

      1. you can vent (to yourself via the documenting) about the annoying person and their behaviours in a way that doesn’t hurt your professional standing.
      2. if things escalate, go beyond just BEC and into inappropriate behaviour/toxic workplace levels, you’ve already started documenting to be able to show the pattern of your history with this person.

      Given that you might be leaving for a new job soon, it might not be worth the effort, but if you end up staying its not the worst idea to have a log of “ugh, wtf” moments that happen.

      1. Sleeping Sun*

        This is a great take on the issue. I’m pretty sure about where I stand and how much capital I have here but you are right, it’s not worth to waste it all in mantaining my (really good) reputation.

        For now, since we have to be 3 days in the office I try work from home on the days I know he will be here, still there is one day when we both come in, and it’s the day I have the most meetings in conference rooms (see a pattern?) and that leaves just about 4 hours a week in the same space (open office, assigned seating, he is next to mine) and it’s enough to make me want to punch him.

    3. Goddess47*

      Whether you get the new job or not, the next conversation with your boss probably should include some form of “there will come a point where Fergus will push me over the edge and I will have to go HR/grandboss to discuss the issue” — make it a declarative sentence, you are not asking permission. It may or may not help but you’re on the record.

      And… document, document, document. “Fergus did X on [date]” – especially if it’s work related. “Fergus told me to do X on project Y, which he is not a part of.” So you have specific issues to talk to HR/grandboss about. And, as you say, it helps with the venting.

      If you’re up to it, be obvious. Keep a journal. So the next time Fergus does something annoying, bring out your notebook, overtly look at a clock, write the time and date down, and start taking notes — all while he is going on and on. If/when he asks, tell him “I’m taking notes on what you’re telling me.” Which will be true. Keep it factual, so when Fergus goes to HR/grandboss, as you know he will, you can share it. “Fergus told me to do X on project Y, which is incorrect because of Z.” or “Fergus spent 15 minutes explaining X to me, which I have been doing successfully for Y months/years.”

      Good luck and hope you get that new job!

      1. Sleeping Sun*

        Would love to do that… the thing is he is really good at managing up, just a few minutes ago I asked my boss about something Fergus told me yesterday that was completely wrong and the answer I got “it was probably a miscommunication and he meant that we need to review that X document is not publicly available in our website, which is what I told Fergus”.

        No boss, Fergus told me that I needed to delete several documents from our website, he didn’t even mentioned X (which, by the way, is not public).

      2. Sleeping Sun*

        Would love to have that conversation, but Fergus is really good managing up, just a few minutes ago I had to ask my boss about something he told me yesterday and it went like this:
        Me: Hey boss, Fergus told me that we must delete several documents from our website because they shouldn’t be public, is this correct? FYI publishing these documents is one of the biggest reasons we climbed over a hundred places in (industry rating).
        Boss: No, I told him that we need to make sure X document specifically is not public
        Me: Oh, that makes sense, it is not public we made sure of that when we published everything else. So maybe Fergus didn’t understand what you told him.
        Boss: I’m sure he understood, you should ask him about it.
        For more context, our boss is relatively new in the company, the documents were published before he arrived and I was the one who coordinated it with our communications team.

      3. SpringIsForPlanting!*

        Yesss document. The way Goddess describes, but also another category of “get the other person to put in writing the dumb thing they say”. Actively avoid phone calls or in-person interaction in favor of email or chat (if your chat system keeps a log). Where you have to have out-loud interactions, immediately send an email or chat afterwards to That Guy that summarizes what was said. “Hi That Guy, just to make sure I understood: you asked me to put the llamas on top of the refrigerator so that they can eat better. Please confirm or clarify, thanks!”

    4. whamalamadingdong*

      I have always enjoyed the advice to treat the other person like they’re from another civilization and just visiting our world/planet for the first time. It helps keep you more in the mindset of “how different their behavior is from my norm” and less “why does this person not act normal.” I also find myself being much gentler/kinder in my responses even if it’s along the lines of “Oh, I guess you’ve never had a job before, so let me explain to you that telling other people how to do their job is very much not the thing we do as professionals.”

      1. Sleeping Sun*

        Hahahahaha this made me laugh out loud… but your suggestion could work, he is so out of the normal for this office that treating him like that makes sense.

      2. Tio*

        Similarly, I’ve treated it like a game, to see how long I can just smile and say “no thanks” and grey rock them before they get bored. Lots of staring blankly and one word answers.

    5. DefinitiveAnn*

      Can you engage your manager in the conversations during rather than after? “Fergus, I’m pretty sure that’s wrong, let’s go ask BossMan.”

      1. Sleeping Sun*

        I’ve done that a few times, but our boss spends so much time promoting himself that he rarely has time for a conversation if it’s not scheduled and sometimes not even then (another reason for the job search).

        The saddest part is I really like this company, but this last year I’ve seen so many not so great changes that it worries not just me but a lot of people who had been here more than two years.

    6. Too Many Tabs Open*

      When I’m dealing with someone this awful, I sometimes put my hands in my pockets or cover one hand with the other so I can make a rude gesture without it being seen. I’ve found it surprisingly helpful for keeping my face and voice neutral.

      (I also recommend the song “F*ed with an Anchor” by Alestorm. NSFW, NSFpublic listening, but a perfect cheerful song to have running through your head when you’re dealing with someone like this guy.)

  38. Buri*

    I’m about a year into my first job out of undergrad and recently started working on a new project under a team lead I haven’t worked with before. He seems to be consistently surprised when I produce good work or take any initiative (i.e. I was assigned specific slides for a presentation while he was on work travel, I finished my portion and also did a first pass on the other slides because I had the time.)

    It’s always a “good” surprise but it’s starting to bug me a bit. I have been trying to take it as a compliment that what I produced exceeds expectations but it feels like his expectations for me are… really low. I am also a young woman in a job and industry that is predominantly 40 year old men with PhDs so I can’t help but wonder if that’s a factor.

    Should I just keep doing my work and not say anything? Mention it? Stew quietly?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Ouch. Maybe it’s ageism/new grads/gender/previous string of bad employees. But regardless, your boss having super low expectations can really mess with you long term, you start thinking bear minimum effort is amazing, skews your perspective. I’d give it a little time to see if he adjusts his expectations as he sees your consistent good work. Maybe seek out some mentors in your field, so you’re getting additional feedback.

      1. Buri*

        Good points! It hasn’t been very long so I do think he’ll get a better idea of my skills with time its just annoying to get a surprised good job for like… doing what I said I was going to do.

        1. Buri*

          Forgot to add, also good point on making sure I don’t set my own bar too low. Luckily I generally work on short term projects with different leads so there’s less risk of that but it’s a very good thing to keep in mind!

    2. fueled by coffee*

      Honestly I would probably assume that whoever had your job before you just had a very poor work ethic, tbh. This happened to me once – I had a very boring entry level summer job involving a lot of filing and photocopying, and my supervisors were consistently praising how efficient I was at doing what I assumed were the minimum requirements of my job. I later learned that their previous intern routinely showed up late and spent a lot of time messing around on social media, so my work by comparison looked good.

      I don’t want to minimize the possible age and gender related dynamics here, but given that you said you’re straight out of undergrad I’m assuming you probably replaced someone who was similarly junior-level.

      1. Buri*

        Honestly there’s one other person in the same junior level as me in my department and I haven’t worked with her but I get the sense that she might need some handholding so you may be right!

    3. Kw10*

      Could it just be that person’s personality? I know some people who ALWAYS reply with almost profuse thanks for doing pretty basic parts of my job, and I’ve come to realize they’re just trying to be super nice and they’re like that with everyone!

    4. Random Academic Cog*

      As someone who is making similar comments to a new employee, I would guess there’s some work trauma behind it. I can say that suddenly having a superstar when you’ve dealt with crappy employees for a while is a huge adjustment and one (me, I’m “one”) can definitely overreach in the praise department from sheer relief.

  39. Amber Rose*

    I’m in charge of the system upgrade (first time) and our provider is so unhelpful. They basically just told us to document whatever we’re testing in the sandbox in a shared Excel sheet, but did not advise us on how to go about testing or what to do.

    Yet another thing I have to teach myself somehow. Are there like, default testing checklists that might help?

    In sillier news I bought new steel toed boots and I’ve been walking around funny. Like when you put booties on a dog. They’re so weird feeling.

    1. ferrina*

      You need to ensure that your testing mimics the real-world usage. And not just how you want people to use it- plan for people to make mistakes and do weird work-arounds. I’m a big fan of talking to people, so I like to have a series of meetings with key stakeholders to learn about what they need and how they use the software. You want to talk to the people that do the most work in it (or should be doing the work- if they avoid the software, you want to know why).

      Once the upgrade is ready, have a small group of frequent users try using it the same way they normally would. They will help find the bugs. You also want a couple people who are unfamiliar with it so that they can make mistakes and press all the wrong buttons- having people who are inept at software will really help give you a real-world look at your users.

    2. Goddess47*

      Since you have a provider, I’m assuming they have other clients. Ask to speak to someone at another site who has done the upgrade you will be doing. Hopefully, they will have documents they used or, at the very least, someone to talk to. Even if they tell you that you have a ‘custom’ install, there will be basic commonalities. The tech folk you work with may not share that info but I’ll bet the sales people will be willing to hook you up with another customer…

      Even better, if the systems are large enough, there may be an end-user community — lean into that hard.

      And this is a good point to get your end users to document their business processes. What do they do every day, weekly, monthly, only as needed? It’s those ‘only as needed’ things that will come to bite you in the a** six months after the upgrade.

      Good luck!

    3. Pocket Mouse*

      Try every possible action you can take on a page/screen. Make sure inputs that are supposed to work work, and inputs that shouldn’t work don’t work. Get really basic with it: see what the ‘back’ button does, double-check that ‘save’ saved, see if a DOB in the future (or the year 223) get rejected. Everything you come across, try to break it. Assume people will make typos, so see what happens when typo-type values are entered. Check all functions you will need, not just the most common scenarios.

      And to be honest, I’d ask some very direct questions to your provider about what *they’re* testing before handing it off to you. From experience, I recommend when they say they’ve fixed an issue, go check it again because they may not have understood what the issue was.

      1. Recently Retired*

        And check that entering the data in a non-sequential way still works. I had one that *totally* messed up the calculations when you entered fields 17 & 19 prior to 14 & 15.

  40. UrsulaD*

    At work we have a subsidized cafeteria (we pay about 4$ for a meal). Kitchen workers fill your plate with a main and sides, and the salads, soup and dessert are self serve. I usually skip salads and dessert, but it’s still so much food. Can I bring a takeout box for my leftovers? On the one hand, it’s kind of bad form because of the self-serve part (you can take 4 bowls of soup and 3 plates of salad if the mood suits. Some desserts are limited) on the other hand, it’s such a waste of my money and their food to not pack it. Thoughts? Is there a difference if I take more than 1 of anything (like 2 oranges, nothing too crazy)?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      What do people around you do? Does anyone else have boxes? Do other people grab multiples? This is work culture, it’s going to depend on your location. Do you have any friends at work you could ask?

    2. Decidedly Me*

      I agree with deciding based on what others are doing. Without that info, though, I wouldn’t take away things are self-serve, as it comes across as grabbing more specifically to take home.

    3. Dust Bunny*

      I’d just bring a container and I wouldn’t load up too much on the self-serve items.

      1. Cordelia*

        I think I would load up my plate or tray with the salad and dessert as well as the food I am planning to eat, sit down and eat then put the rest into a takeout box once I’ve finished. To me – illogically, I know – this seems better than loading food from the salad bar straight into the takeout box. It would probably get you fewer surprised looks anyway, if taking food home really isn’t the done thing

        1. Dust Bunny*

          I meant that I’d take only the self-serve items I meant to eat, and load up the leftover food that had been over-served by the cafeteria staff.

          1. UrsulaD*

            Yes, I wouldn’t take any self serve food, of course. I just don’t imagine anyone’s actually watching my plate enough to see that I’m packing half a hamburger and 3 potatoes, but I ate all my salad.

    4. rayray*

      I don’t really see anything wrong with bringing a tupper-ware to save what you don’t finish eating. I just would be mindful about how much I take each day, but no sense in wasting any food.

    5. Sleeping Sun*

      I usually just told the people serving to please give me less or none of X item, so I could have some salad and not waste other food… I never thinked about bringing a container.. as other have said, this is specific to your office, in mine, people would have looked at me as if I had three heads or something like that.

    6. Bagpuss*

      could you ask for smaller portions of the stuff the staff serve, so if you want a dessert you can eat one?
      Otherwise, I think it’s a company culture thing. (And check if there are any specific policies)

      1. UrsulaD*

        Sometimes that works, but a lot of stuff is a large hamburger or sandwich, a large (precut) piece of chicken (like a quarter of a chicken, the dining room staff don’t have cleavers).

    7. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      I wouldn’t use a take away box unless I see at least a couple of other people doing so.
      You could look very out of step and grabby.

  41. Paper Notebooks*

    Hi! A thread on this week’s “Ask the Readers” post made me think you all might have some useful input on a question I have about paper notebooks (electronic notebooks that feel like writing on paper). I’m starting law school in the fall and am looking for a good way to organize my notes. I know I retain a lot better when I handwrite rather than type, but I also want to have a good way to organize my notes electronically so I can more easily review them later. I also have pretty questionable handwriting, and while I’m generally pretty good at knowing what I meant to write soon after I’ve taken the notes, I’m not so good at that weeks or months later.

    For those reasons, I’d like to get a paper notebook that has good organizational features and decent handwriting-to-text conversion, so I can convert my notes shortly after a lecture (when I know what I meant to write and can fix any issues that arise from my handwriting). I’d also ideally like the option to have the handwritten notes stored alongside the converted/typed notes, so if it makes sense to draw diagrams or something like that, I still have access to those.

    I’ve been torn between the Remarkable 2 and the SuperNote. Remarkable seems to have good handwriting conversion while SuperNote seems to have better organizational features (and more integration with other programs – I use OneNote a lot and probably want to continue doing that) but I’ve heard the handwriting conversion isn’t as good. Does anyone who has experience with one (or both) of these tools have any advice or suggestions?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Are you specifically set on one of those two, or do you want info about the Rocketbook as well?

      1. Paper Notebooks*

        Definitely open to other options! Those are just the two I’ve researched the most.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Rocketbook is more like a traditional spiral bound notebook, but you have to use specific styles of pens. Pilot Frixxion — They’re not hard to find or crazy expensive, I’ve gotten them at Target and Amazon both before, in multiple colors. The Rocketbook has fewer pages than a traditional notebook and also, depending on the style you pick, different templates – calendar, agenda, grid paper, lined paper, etc. Each page has (6?) symbols, and in the app you set up a destination for each symbol (“Google Drive, Evernote, Slack, Dropbox, Box, OneNote, OneDrive, iMessage, iCloud, Trello and email”). You put an x on the symbol for each page, then snap a picture of it in the app on your phone and it sends a scanned version of the page as well as a handwriting-to-text translation (depending on your settings) to the destination you x’ed. Then – as long as you used the special pen – you wipe the page clean with a damp rag or napkin and have a fresh clean notebook for the next thing. (You can wipe it clean up to 30 days after writing on it, beyond that it gets a little dicier and you may have ghosties.)

          You can also print Rocketbook templates on plain paper for one-time use (that doesn’t require the specific pen), OR you can get the special wipe-off paper on Amazon if you want to create your own reusable template for something. I knew a guy who printed the bottom section of the Rocketbook page, the part with the symbols, laminated it, and just lay that narrow strip over the bottom of his class handouts so he could scan his instructors’ handouts into his class information.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Their website is (get rocketbook dot com) no spaces, and if you want to try it, you can print off a couple of free PDF templates from their website and download the free app and just play with it a bit before actually buying the notebook.

            1. Paper Notebooks*

              This is super helpful, thank you! Especially the option to try it out for free. I’m definitely going to look into it :)

              1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

                Good luck! I did two masters degrees on an iPad with Notability, which does the handwriting part but not the “like on paper” part.

    2. Paper TABLETS*

      I can’t believe I wrote this entire post about “paper notebooks” and went so far as to make it my name when I absolutely (and, I hope, obviously) meant “paper tablets” or “electronic notebooks” *FACEPALM* So, to clarify, looking for advice on paper TABLETS. I promise I normally know what words mean.

      1. Unfettered scientist*

        what is a “paper tablet?” Do you mean a physical electronic tablet like an iPad or a paper notebook or something with eink like a kindle or a software based notebook/note-taking app like Evernote or good notes ? I feel more confused by the clarification post.

      2. Workerbee*

        You’re fine, you had enough context in your original post. :) And Red Reader got it too. In fact, it makes me really interested in investigating these myself!

    3. Hatchet*

      Just here to second the Rocketbooks that Red Reader mentioned. I bought mine (Rocketbook Smart with lined pages) on a whim when I saw it at a good sale price on Amazon. I use it mainly for taking notes at conferences, and have been really impressed with the product! Good luck!

      1. Hatchet*

        *ETA – just checked – mine is a RB Core, not RB Smart, if that helps you at all

  42. Wedding Shower Protocol*

    Question about wedding showers at work!

    I am getting married in June and my workplace is throwing a wedding shower for me (which is very kind). My partner is also invited to the wedding shower, which is during work hours. Is that normal? My partner has met some of my co-workers once or twice but not in any formal way (quick introductions if we meet outside of work), and we are not friends outside of work with any of them.

    My industry is very passionate about the work we are doing, and the separation between work and personal life is not as strong as it would be in other areas. My partner and I are discussing if they should come to the shower or not, but I wanted to get a feel for how common this is, or if this is just an example of looser boundaries in my industry.

    1. FashionablyEvil*

      My colleagues invited my husband to the work wedding shower they threw for me. I was not really friendly with people outside work and my company has pretty good boundaries. Our solution was that he just showed up at the tail end to have a piece of cake and thank everyone. Worked well.

    2. ferrina*

      I think this is semi-normal. I’ve seen it done at a couple companies that I’ve been at. But it’s totally up to you and your partner about whether Partner wants to attend- if there isn’t the interest, it should be just fine to say “Partner can’t make it, thanks though!”

      1. Lady Danbury*

        This. I’ve been to showers where the partner was present the entire time, showed up at the end or didn’t attend at all. There’s nothing wrong with him joining if you’re both ok with it but don’t feel obligated to do so.

      2. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

        Yeah, this. If your partner wants to come, then they should come–if they don’t, then it’s totally normal for them to not be able to. After all, not everyone can get out of work to attend something like that at a different office.

    3. RagingADHD*

      I have seen spouses invited to a shower about half the time, so I’d say it’s normal but not universal.

  43. 1on1*

    There’s been some turnover in my team and wider department recently, and my boss has scheduled a catch-up with me on Friday. He’s out of the office at a conference until then. When we scheduled it, he was saying broadly he wanted to check in and make sure I’m happy.

    I am currently waiting to hear back from an interview I had last week. If I receive an offer before Friday, I’ll use that meeting to give my notice. If I don’t, I have some concrete actionable things the team can do that will make everything run more smoothly.

    My concern is around being asked if I am happy and/or if I have been looking elsewhere. I hate to lie but know it’s unavoidable sometimes. Any advice on how I can answer or play off questions about staying/moving job, internal career progression etc?

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      There was a post on here about that a while ago….let me see if I can dig it up or you can search for it. Something like ‘how to answer if your boss asks if you’re job searching’.

      1. 1on1*

        thanks – found the post “what should I say if my boss asks if I’m job searching?” from 2017 which should be helpful!

    2. ferrina*

      If your boss is generally reasonable, you can say something ambiguous that confirms your concerns. The goal here would not be to hide that you’re looking to leave, but to make it feel farther away and not set in stone.
      Boss: “Are you looking to leave?”
      You: “Well, I am concerned about XYZ. Can you tell me the future about that?”
      Boss: “We’re thinking about ABC. Would that make you stay?”
      You: “I really enjoy the working here, and I’d love to continue to grow here if these issues can be resolved.”

      If your boss is unreasonable, say whatever gets you out of the conversation.
      Boss: “Are you looking to leave?”
      You: “There would have to be some insanely good offer to make me leave!”
      Then a week later you can shrug and say, “sorry, it was an insanely good offer.

      1. 1on1*

        That sounds sensible – there are some issues I definitely want to raise with my boss, so I suppose I can pivot to those fairly easily if I’m asked (although they’re not necessarily the reasons I’m looking elsewhere). Thanks!

  44. Robert Smith's Hair*

    I’m a grandboss for the first time in my career – what do I need to know to help my staff succeed?

    1. Angstrom*

      Never shoot the messenger. Your staff has to know that they can come to you with bad news or concerns without fear of personal reprisal. If people are afraid to be honest with you you’ll never really know what’s happening in your organization.
      At the same time, don’t be afraid to be the boss when you see problems with performance or results. A small correction early is much better than telling someone out of the blue that they’ve been doing something wrong for the past six months.
      Schedule regular meetings, so being called to see the grandboss isn’t a rare and scary thing.
      Work with your team to devise metrics that are useful and will drive desired outcomes. Be willing to change if they are not useful.
      Don’t tolerate unprofessional behavior among members of your team. They have to be comfortable working together.
      Take serious proposals and questions seriously. Team members will understand if you disagree as long as they feel that you listened with an open mind.
      Understand the big picture of what the larger organization is doing, and be able to communicate how that affects the daily work.

      1. I have RBF*

        I love the fact that you mention regular skip-levels. These actually are valuable for helping socialize the organization’s goals and find out gotchas before they actually become roadblocks.

    2. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      If the managers under you are managing well, let them continue to do that. Step in when needed, but don’t micromanage how people work unless it is affecting their work. But definitely be responsive if multiple people are having issues with a manager.

      Ask for input before making big, sweeping changes–there might be some aspect of it you don’t understand/know about that you need to take into account. Also, don’t get caught up in the idea that you have to make big changes to make your mark or show how you’re in charge–changes are hugely disruptive and unsettling if they’re not necessary. If they *are* necessary, make sure people know why. Most people will be fine if they know there’s a reason.

      Also, remember the power dynamics when you’re interacting with people who work under you–don’t make jokes about firing or the work environment or taking perks away, and don’t jokingly ask for things that are impossible. And give your employees space with you (be available) *AND* away from you (probably don’t go to every happy hour or stay the whole time for work social events).

      (speaking from experience on those first three paragraphs, unfortunately)

      And if you can’t do something for the people under you that you know they need, don’t give up after one try. Have their back, and let them know you will continue to try and advocate for what is needed. Do what you can.

    3. Goddess47*

      Adding–

      –there will be things you can’t talk about but offer clarification on big-picture things when you can…

      –share the intricacies of the budget process will help everyone deal with the realities of purchasing and dealing with ‘out of cycle’ requests. (There’s nothing more frustrating than the minion that proposes a brilliant but costly idea a month after the organization has closed the budget for the year — an idea they’ve been nurturing for months.)

      –share the realities of pay raises/promotions, again as you can. Especially if you’re in the US, folk can talk about their pay, so there really should be no huge surprises about raises from year to year.

      –depending on how many people there are, find a reason to ‘hang out’ on an occasional basis so you can have those occasional off-the-cuff conversations. (It saved my bacon years ago when I knew the grandboss had grandkids he adored. Knowing to ask “How are Fergus and Lucinda” gave us something to briefly talk about on the occasions I found myself next to him at a function.)

      –As a variation, have an “ask the grandboss questions” session quarterly. Folk can write anonymous questions on index cards (or send them to a trusted rep) as well as ask in person. And it’s okay to say, “That’s not something I can discuss, sorry” and be firm about. If the answer is “I have to check, let me get back to you” make sure someone is taking notes so you do get back.

      –Be on time to meetings. We had gotten sloppy about starting/stopping routine (but necessary) meetings and when grandboss was there on time and we weren’t, we straightened right out. But if you are honestly running late, send a message.

      Good luck!

  45. Hopeful New Hire*

    How much follow up is appropriate when waiting on information for a new job?

    This is a position within city government so I understand this process can be a lot longer than what I’m used to coming from the nonprofit world. I was told March 22nd that I was the preferred candidate for the position pending completion and approval after onboarding processes. I’ve completed the background checks, fingerprinting, and paperwork. On Monday 4/10, the HR person I’ve been communicating with said they were waiting on the background check and fingerprints to be clear and were hoping to have an update by the end of the week. Monday 4/24 she reached out again and said she was hoping to have approval by the end of the day. Later that day she said she would send the offer letter and benefits new hire guide shortly. I then heard nothing and reached out this Monday 5/8 checking in, with no response to today.

    When would it be appropriate to follow up again? It sounded like we were close to the end of the process but I also don’t want to bug her if she’s waiting on approval outside of her control. I am emotionally preparing myself for this to fall through, but any perspective would be helpful!

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      I’m not in government, so don’t know how helpful this will be:

      Given the HR contact has been pretty proactive, I say wait another two weeks (so, May 22). One week for the internal processes and a second, bonus week (so she can recover from the imaginary cold I’m making up in my head).

    2. Random Academic Cog*

      Unfortunately, two months to onboard an outside hire isn’t especially outside the norm for a government position. Reaching out a week after a missed checkpoint isn’t unreasonable. If you don’t get a response from HR within a day or two, as the hiring manager I might be able to push from my side, so make sure you are keeping your new boss in the loop.

  46. Paloma Pigeon*

    Hey everyone, I’ve developed a friendship with an individual in the UK (I’m in the US) who has been GOING THROUGH IT at their job. I’ve told them to check out AAM but every time they drop a nugget of the shenanigans they’ve endured, I feel helpless because I don’t know UK labor rights at all (in the US, the employer would almost certainly be liable for creating a hostile work environment based on a protected class). If there is any good clearing house or website for UK labor rights (medical leave, hiring/firing, documenting PIPs, etc) please share. Cheers!

    1. Hedwig*

      Acas is the body that covers work issues in the UK. They should contact their union, if they are part of one

  47. Tacobelljobfair*

    I apply to Chocolate Teapots. I get a phone call from them. They do phone interviews and they usually start off with how far away do you live from Chocolate Tea pots? I tell them the city I live in. Then they say “ok x minutes away” Then they ask do you drive. Some of these interviewees are really insistent on this question. The problem is I don’t drive. Here public transit is ok, not horrible. You can sort of get around. But driving is the norm.Should I just lie to them and say I drive?

    1. Jaunty Banana Hat the second*

      That’s weird that they’re asking that, if that’s not a part of the job I’d be honest and say that you don’t, but you’re very comfortable with public transit.

    2. fueled by coffee*

      Well, if you accepted a job offer, you’d figure out a way to make it to work, right? I’d just dodge the question and say something like “I have reliable transportation,” which they will interpret to mean that you drive and you in your head will understand to mean that you will take transit/bike/rideshare/carpool or move to be closer to Chocolate Teapots.

      1. fueled by coffee*

        Echoing what Jaunty said above, though, that this only holds if driving is not a requirement of the position. So you could also ask a question to clarify whether driving is part of the job, or if they just want to know whether you can make the commute to work.

    3. ferrina*

      It sounds like they are asking if you have reliable transportation to work.

      Don’t lie- that’s a surefire way to get yourself into trouble. But you also don’t need to answer the exact question.
      “Do you drive?”
      “What an interesting question! If you don’t mind, why do you ask? Does this role require a car, or are there quirks about the commute I should know about?”
      Answering a question with a question is still an answer.

      1. rayray*

        I agree that they could ask if the role requires a car, but the “What an interesting question!” might come off kinda weird. I know people here love a script of acting confused, but I don’t know if their questioning about transportation is that deep.

        1. ferrina*

          I like to use “What an interesting question” as a way to buy myself time. I can also say it from a place of genuine interest. But you have a good point- if it’s not natural to OP’s regular way of talking, don’t force it.

    4. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Don’t lie.
      If found out, you can be fired and get a terrible reference.
      Just say you have reliable transport to the work site and ask if any work might be needed at another site.

      They may want the occasional option of sending someone by car (business car or rental) to deliver or fetch something / perform a task elsewhere / transport someone to or from airport etc

      OR they may want to discriminate against non-drivers as a proxy for other forms of discrimination.
      If so, they may ask to see your driving licence.
      Because people who discriminate against certain groups can be very determined to do so.

  48. Llama Wrangler*

    Yesterday, my new-ish junior male colleague (the youngest person on the team, and our newest team member) gave mother’s day cards and chocolates to all of the women on our team who are mothers, which happened to be everyone who was there yesterday besides me. (There’s one other woman who is not a mother, but she is on vacation. There are two other men on the team but they were also out when this happened.) Obviously it would have been much worse if he had given me a card as a non-parent, but I felt ick-ed out in any case.

    I don’t think this is something I would act on in any case, but curious whether anyone can help me articulate why I am so annoyed by this happening at work? As context, I tend to be kind of a mother’s day skeptic in general (I would NEVER wish someone who wasn’t my own mother a happy mother’s day) so maybe other people think this is fine?

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Because . . . why on Earth would anyone do this *at work* for women who a) are not their mothers and b) might not be mothers at all?

      It’s way overly personal, outdated, and weird.

    2. ferrina*

      Is he planning on giving all the men a father’s day card? If not, this is blatant sexism.

      I would casually drop by his desk on June 15 and ask what he’s planning to do for the men for father’s day. When he says “nothing”, you can be horrified and tell him that he could get written up for gender discrimination if he only does this for the women and not the men. The best solution is to do something similar for the men (men like chocolate too), and then either do it for all the genders or none. That’s how you avoid gender discrimination.

      Also, yeah, I’d be totally squicked out by this.

    3. FashionablyEvil*

      Omg, my eyebrows nearly flew off my face they shot up so fast.

      I would take him aside and say that while you know the gesture was kindly meant it’s calling attention to gender in the workplace and that it’s not something he should do. It’ll definitely be awkward, but less so than him doing this every year.

      (Also, if anyone at work did this to me, I would just be baffled. I’m not your mom…? It’s super weird that you would think of me in this way.”)

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I really hope some of the recipients talk to him and explain that 1) he’s not their child, and 2) their status as mothers is irrelevant to work, so he needs to not do this again.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      He’s openly advertising the fact that he sees his COLLEAGUES as mommies before he sees them as peers/coworkers/humans.

    5. Anonforthis*

      absolute ick. And potentially very distressing for people. If this happened at my workplace, he wouldn’t give me anything, because he wouldn’t know that I once was a mother but my child died. He wouldn’t know that my work friend isn’t a mother because of fertility problems but that she desperately wants to be. Mothers Day is hard enough for many people as it is, we don’t need it forced upon us at work too. He meant well but I do think someone needs to tell him gently how inappropriate this was, or it will happen again next year.

    6. Hlao-roo*

      Other commenters have covered the gendered part of why this is inappropriate and annoying. I want to add:

      The person who started Mother’s Day very intentionally placed the apostrophe so it refers to a singular mother (yours). There’s a reason it’s not Mothers’ Day (a day for celebrating plural mothers, all of them). I’m not writing that because I think all people should only ever celebrate their own mom(s) on Mother’s Day but because I think it helps show why you are annoyed: your colleague is bringing a non-work relationship into the workplace.

      Imagine how weird it would be if you worked with a married couple, and he brought in a gift for them on their anniversary. He’s not a part of the relationship that’s being celebrated. Super super weird. It’s just as weird that he’s giving Mother’s Day gifts to people who aren’t his mother.

      1. Random Dice*

        Ha ha that’s awesome.

        It’s like a lesser version of the “call my boyfriend Master” letter.

    7. Em*

      I wonder if it feels weird because it’s a completely non-work-related thing. I give a Mother’s Day card to two people: my mother, and my sister who is a mother. Generally-speaking, life outside work is only really to be acknowledged in a formal manner (small talk’s one thing, actually giving people stuff) in the context of a newsletter and usually only if you’ve done something pretty cool (“hey everyone, you might know that Doris from Accounts does community theatre! She won “Best Actress” at the national community theatre awards last week, well done Doris!”). Being a mother’s difficult and an accomplishment, but it’s also not particularly unusual. I also don’t give my colleagues wedding anniversary cards, and that’s about on the same level of personal-ness.

    8. Turingtested*

      Inappropriate for work for sure. I grew up in Pennsylvania and live in Michigan and mother’s day is a huge freaking deal. Everyone wishes women a happy mother’s day, down to clerks in stores. if he’s generally a nice person I’d educate him on workplace norms. if he’s shown other signs of sexism that’s different.

      personally every one at work has wished me a happy mother’s day today and it feels cultural not gendered. I’m not saying you’re wrong!

    9. Bex (in computers)*

      Very inappropriate. One of my colleagues just brought up in our team meeting that it was this coming weekend, and wished myself and our boss a happy MD.

      I know it’s small, but I’m not a mother. I’m a guardian to my sibling. The fact that I’ll never biologically be a mother kills me (I’ve actually been having some heartbreaking dreams recently about it), and when colleague said that, it made my throat close for a moment as I tried to deal. Good thing I’m in a mostly private office cause I ended up crying for a few.

      It’s not that I don’t appreciate the sentiment. But it is fraught and not to be done at work.

    10. RagingADHD*

      Because it’s overly personal, highly gendered, and not appropriate to the relationship.

      I’m a mom, and if I got mother’s day stuff at work, especially from a random coworker, I’d be ticked off.

    11. Llama Wrangler*

      I appreciate everyone’s responses. My coworkers who were on the receiving end expressed appreciation to him, and another colleague on a different team posted a message on our org-wide chat wishing a happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers and “mother figures”. So as the one person who didn’t get something from him, I don’t think I am necessarily well positioned to tell him why this is a bad idea. But I am glad I am not the only one who would have been troubled by it.

  49. FancyRocks*

    I work in the IT division at a large university, and we are about to undergo some restructuring. My boss mentioned that I may be absorbing another team that has 3 full-time employees (and one vacant full-time spot). There’s a possibility I may have more people added to my group, but I’m not sure yet. In any case, would it be reasonable to ask for a raise because of increased responsibilities? Right now I manage 8 full-time people, with two different areas of focus (4 admins, 4 developers), and I would be gaining 3+ analysts. So not more of the same, but a different area of focus, though it still is in support of a general service offering.

    Supervisor titles and salaries are all over the place here, so I don’t know if this is an “okay” thing to do. There are other supervisors here with fewer people and fewer areas of focus, but they make more and have titles like “assistant director,” and there are others with way more than me but with the title “manager” and making less than I do. I suppose it never hurts to ask though. What would be a good way to bring it up? And is taking on 3+ people truly worthy of asking for a raise?

    1. cardigarden*

      Definitely you should ask for a raise, doubly so if you’re going to be taking on more direct reports. You’re already managing 8 people and it could increase to 11+? Ask for that raise. Just be aware that if your university is anything like mine, you may have to wait until the next FY or review season.

    2. Goddess47*

      Thinking of it as 3+ people doesn’t sound like a lot.

      Thinking of it as managing 50% more people is a better way to think about it.

      Go for that raise!

    3. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      Definitely ask for a raise and a title change, because taking on a new area of focus should at least net you an increased title change. If you’re at a public university, you should be able to look up what literally everyone else in that university is making and what their title is, so you can use that info to bolster your case for a raise, *and* see what’s realistic to ask for. If your university has salary ranges/levels, pay attention to that and see if a title change might automatically bump you up in salary–in my experience, the easiest way to get oneself a raise while working in a staff capacity at a university is to move up into a job title that comes with a higher salary level than what you had before.

      If your university is like mine, the fiscal year should be rolling over soon, and it would be the right time to make this ask anyway. The worst that can happen is they’ll say no and you’ll be exactly where you are now.

      1. FancyRocks*

        Thanks! My university does have ranges/levels, but they only apply to non-supervisory staff. They class supervisory staff a different way. There is no standardization for those roles, and also not much transparency about why they are the way they are….which is definitely not good for equity. However I think that’s a relic of our old HR VP and I’m hoping the new one will address this.

  50. names at work?*

    I’m about to graduate college and start working at a workplace where I interned last summer. I’m nonbinary and use they/them with friends. Strangers tend to assume I’m a masc woman and mostly use she/her for me, which isn’t a big deal.

    My workplace is pretty liberal, though I don’t know of any other trans employees in my department. Over the summer, I didn’t outright correct people on my pronouns, but I was honest if someone asked me about it, saying something like “I use they/them for myself, but I don’t really mind what people call me.” When I worked there I went by my birth name, which is feminine.

    Recently, I’ve started trying out a different, traditionally male name- it begins with the same letter as my legal name, but isn’t a direct nickname/shortening of it. I’m debating whether I should bring this up at work. I could just keep using my legal name at work. But I’m worried it might be confusing, for example if I end up being social outside of work with coworkers. And I want to be able to use the name that I feel better represents my identity.

    If I do ask my coworkers to use my new name, I’m not sure how to do that professionally. How do I phrase the request? Do I send my boss an email before I start, mentioning that I’ve picked up a nickname over the past year and not saying anything about my gender? Or do I explicitly use the language of “preferred name,” implying that this is an identity thing? I don’t want to make a big deal of this, and I don’t want my coworkers to think of me for my gender before they think about my work or personality. But obviously I can’t have it both ways. If anyone has experienced this, please advise!

    1. ferrina*

      “I’ve actually started going by NewName. Please call me that from now on”

      That’s it. If you want to talk about your gender, you can, or you can not say anything. If someone told me their name, I’d start calling them by that name, no questions asked. Some people may try to ask questions, but you are under no obligation to answer or educate them- there’s plenty of other resources if they are actually curious (if your work has a DEI group, point them toward that). For gender, you can put your pronouns in your email signature (I’m assuming that’s okay at your work, since it’s fine/encouraged at many liberal workplaces).

      And yes, it is very reasonable to tell your coworkers your name and pronouns and expect them not to make a big thing out of it. Will they do it? I don’t know. But it’s very reasonable to have that expectation. If they say “but of course I’m curious”, that’s them trying to blame you for their bad behavior. What you are asking for isn’t new or novel- people change their names all the time (shortening of legal names, getting married and changing names, going by a nickname because there are 2 people with the same name in the small office), and asking for preferred pronouns isn’t new anymore.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      No direct experience with this, but I would, at the very least, email your boss to say let them know you’re now going by [Name] and to please let your coworkers know too. It’ll be a lot easier to make the switch if, in the lead up to your return, your boss is saying “Remember that Max is starting next week,” instead of “remember that Margaret is starting next week.”

      You can mention your pronouns in the email, too, if you also want to make that switch. Or you can keep the email just about the name, and handle pronouns however you want to when you actually start. Good luck!

    3. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

      Names at work? I’m in a similar position to you (liberal-ish workplace, nonbinary trans, gendered natal name, people tend to guess pronouns and a binary gender and while that’s inaccurate it’s also not a big deal to me from casual/business acquaintances if they’re not being overtly obnoxious about it), except that I made made my previous nickname legal several years ago.

      I switched among friends first to make sure it was really comfortable and going to stick, then I switched at work starting with work friends I might interact with socially, then other colleagues, then scraped up the money and had it changed legally. I told people: “I’m going by [nickname] now. Please call me [nickname].” And then when the name change paperwork was completed, “[previous nickname] is my legal name. Please call me by my actual, legal, name, thanks.”
      It took a few reminders for some people, and one or two people were resistant/careless/late adopters. I wouldn’t have felt so confident correcting them as many times as it took if I wasn’t confidently attached to that name as permanent, and eventually legally validated. One person who took the longest to get with the program themself had a legal name that’s more commonly considered a nickname around here, and I finally told them if they couldn’t recognize my nick-looking name as my real name, I wouldn’t recognize theirs either. “Billybob, if you don’t stop calling me Nicholas Namicus, I’m going to start calling you William Robert all the time.”

      My spouse and one friend both go by different names in professional versus personal contexts, plus most of our large friendgroup have aither ingroup-specific nicknames, and there are enough children that everyone is also Mama, Daddy, Ankle (what one friend’s kids call someone who fills the same kind of role but isn’t an Aunt or Uncle) or whatever. Nobody seems to be confused about what to call anyone in various circumstances, or which one is meant when some kid calls for Dada. Occasionally there are some slipups, but usually corrected with no fuss. I think different names for different circumstances is normalized enough that few people struggle once it’s explained to them “I go by X at work and Y with friends.”
      (Getting pronouns right when the person’s gender doesn’t match one’s implicit assumptions seems to be harder, but if you’re fortunate enough to not be too bothered about pronouns as long as they get your name right, I think your chances are good.)

      1. methionine*

        Thank you for your advice! If the world were perfect, I’d love for all my coworkers to know and use my pronouns, and to make no judgements, and we all get free healthcare and unlimited vacation… but since that’s not the case, changing my name seems more reasonable than showing up to meetings with a bunch of older, more experienced people and being the only one to share my pronouns unprompted. It feels safer to just stay a name and let people think what they want- if they perceive me as a masc woman with a male name, that’s not entirely accurate, but it’s closer to the truth than me being Sarah the cisgender lady.

    4. I have RBF*

      I feel you. I’ve been non-binary for years, but only in the last couple have I brought it to work. I’m a pretty butch AFAB, but I want out of the gendered expectation-go-round.

      I am using my initials as a “preferred name”, and all my sigs have they/them.

      But since my voice is in a high range, I get she/her a lot, even though I’m remote. I get it even worse in person, because I have these unfortunately big boobs that no amount of binding will hide.

      Your preferred name should be respected, mine is where I work. I just use “Oh, $femName is my wallet name, I go by $andrgoynousName for regular stuff.”

      I wish I had a better answer for you.

    5. Rara Avis*

      There is an advantage to starting with your preferred name so no one has to relearn it. My non-binary kid had been considering a new name; actually made the change before starting high school, so all their new teachers and classmates didn’t know the old name. Easier all around.

    6. Random Dice*

      You can do whatever makes you feel safest / most comfortable. Ask a Manager’s gift is to say things directly and matter of factly. That’s your goal, if you choose to speak up.

  51. MicroManagered*

    What to do with unwanted holiday gifts from my boss?

    This might seem like an oddly-timed question since it’s May, but my manager always gives us really nice holiday gifts… that I unfortunately don’t really want. It feels very uncomfortable and rude to say “no thanks” in the moment, so in the past I’ve politely accepted and then simply donated the item. This year, the gift was a “smart” travel mug that charges over USB and is temperature-controlled with a phone app.

    I will just… never use this. It’s currently sitting, unopened, in my donation box. I guess the reason for my question is that in the past, for other items, it was easy to say “Oh yes it’s great, thanks!” and fib about using the item if I needed to (I’ve never actually needed to do this). This one has an app for my phone and I’m assuming some setup, etc. I am worried if my manager ever asks how I’m liking my travel mug, it will be obvious that I’ve never used it in a way that would be different from a simpler household item.

    1. Do I just donate it and not worry about whether it will ever be asked about, since it hasn’t been for several months?

    2. Do I think of an authentic response for that question that lets him know I didn’t have a use for it, so I donated it?

    3. Or do I open the package, set up the travel mug and app on my phone, use it once, so I can successfully lie about loving it? Then donate it?

    #3 sounds ridiculous to me, but it’s also somehow the one I lean toward — hence the question.

      1. RagingADHD*

        This.

        If you were going to lie about loving it, I fail to see how going through the trouble of unboxing it would make any difference.

    1. Rick Tq*

      I go with #1. Unless you see the gift mugs all the time at work I wouldn’t worry about being asked about it out of the blue in the future.

      1. Tio*

        +1 to option 1. I have never really thought about a gift I gave a subordinate after I gave it unless I happened to see them using it and went “oh, that’s nice” in my head

    2. Just Another Boss*

      You’re overthinking it. Your boss is not going to ask you about the travel mug. If they do, you can say “that was so unique and cool!” They will not give you the third degree about your use of the mug and if they do, you would be well within your rights to excuse yourself from the conversation.

    3. ferrina*

      Weird and prying question– how were gifts treated when you were a child? Were you obligated to use and be genuinely grateful for something? Or has your boss specifically had a weird response toward gifts or favors that they’ve given?

      Option 1 is a normal response (and can be accompanied by a white lie if needed), so I’m wondering why you feel like you need to go out of your way so you can honestly say that you used a random unwanted gift.

      1. MicroManagered*

        Weird and prying question– how were gifts treated when you were a child? Were you obligated to use and be genuinely grateful for something?

        Ahhhhhhhhh yes. Bless you. I think you cracked why I’m overthinking this so much!

        When I was a kid, the adults around me expected me to act over-the-top appreciative of every gift I received, even if it was something I didn’t want or that kids just don’t usually get excited about–like the bunny suit from Aunt Clara in A Christmas Story.

        Anything short of that could cause a blow-up followed by endless fishing for reassurance that I liked the gift. (See? Don’t you love the new bunny suit now? You got so wound up about not liking it at first because it wasn’t a Red Rider BB gun, but don’t you feel silly about that now? Aren’t you so much happier with your bunny suit? etc.)

    4. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      Option 4–does anyone else you work with use and love theirs? Maybe they want a second one, in which case if the boss asks, you can say “well it’s not really something I used, but *name* loved theirs, so I gave them mine so they could have one at home/have a backup when theirs needs washing”.

      But really, option 1 is perfectly normal and fine. (and if no one else at work openly uses and loves theirs, then option 1 is DEFINITELY the way to go)

    5. mreasy*

      If this is an Ember, I would see if anyone you know wants it. They are expensive and also amazing for not coffee drinkers! If it’s not corporate branded, it would also be a good regift.

  52. Heather*

    I recently looked for a new job after calculating how much I could afford to drop in salary. My alternatives were not just range of salary but removing a long commute, gaining back 2 hours of driving time each day, a lower stress level overall, and potentially making headway into a field I had less experience in but wanted to pursue.
    After calculating, I realized I could take a nearly 15k pay cut and still be close to where I am today and have more personal time, less wear and tear on my truck, and opportunities to gain new experiences and connections.
    LW, you should pick what is best for you based on your own personal circumstances, not the fear of being fired.

  53. Out of Office*

    Happy Friday! My partner and I work at the same company and have the same boss and we’ve planned a mini vacation for a month from now. I’m just wondering how appropriate it is to mention my partner in the email I’m sending about this, as in “Partner and I will be taking off from dates X-Y.” Boss knows about our relationship, and we’re intending on sending emails at the same time, so would it be weirder to acknowledge our relationship or not?

    1. Just Another Boss*

      It’s not weird to acknowledge the relationship, but I wouldn’t say “Partner and I are taking off from dates X-Y.” Even though your partner will send a separate email, it reads like you’re asking off for both of you. Instead I would say, “I’ll be taking off from dates X-Y. Partner and I are traveling to X.” That said, I often encourage people to be nonspecific in what they share with their work. Presumably your office knows you’re dating and that’s not forbidden, but the more you make your relationship a part of work, the more people may subconsciously feel they have a role in it. I recommend just alerting your boss to the dates via email, and let the plans be a part of casual conversation, if you want to.

    2. Robert Smith's Hair*

      You wouldn’t put it in your out of office if your partner wasn’t at the same company, so I think leave it off for that reason.

  54. Tired caregiver*

    For the past 4 years I have been helping care for my mom who has a progressive illness. Last week she was put in hospice and we were told she only has a few weeks to months (at most) left. We’ve been having all the hard conversations about her final wishes, taking care of legal stuff, etc. It really sucks.

    My mom has decided she doesn’t want a traditional funeral or anything, just a small service later on when my sister (who is currently pregnant, and lives abroad) is able to travel again. My work offers 3 days of bereavement leave and I have been thinking of… going to lay by a pool somewhere for a couple days after my mom passes. Is that super tacky? I know this isn’t what bereavement leave is for, but we’ve already taken care of most of the logistical/legal stuff we need to. I’m just really tired.

    1. Just Another Boss*

      Actually, that is exactly what bereavement leave is for. It’s time for you to grieve. Grieving doesn’t have to mean crying, having funeral services, visiting with loved ones, etc. It’s time for you to process. Process on a beach. If you’re worried what people will think, don’t tell them. It’s not anyone’s business how you grieve.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      Not tacky. Also 110% nobody else’s business. Do whatever brings you some comfort/relief.

    3. methionine*

      As I understand, bereavement leave is for the purpose of grieving as well as making logistical/legal arrangements. This absolutely includes resting, taking care of oneself, etc. Laying by a pool sounds like a wonderful way to do that. I don’t know how anyone at your workplace would figure out that is what you’re doing with your time off, but if someone somehow did and made drama about it, they’d be the tacky one. Your workplace has no control over where and how you grieve.

    4. rayray*

      Not tacky at all. Bereavement is there to give you time off while grieving loss. We all handle grief in our own ways, and laying by the pool to simply breathe and not be bothered by work matters sounds nice. Many people will spend time during bereavement spending time with family or for travel.

      I’m really sorry about your mom. Please take the time you need to mourn, you’ll need more than three days for sure but allow yourself that time away from your regular responsibilities .

    5. Alex*

      That is exactly what bereavement leave is for. Not tacky at all, but also no one needs to actually know what you are doing. “My mom died and I’ll be taking A, B, and C days for bereavement” is all they need to know.

      Take care of yourself! It’s important. Best wishes to you.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I fully cop that I may be being pedantic here, but — bereavement leave isn’t “time for grieving” because calling it time for grieving is what leads to people going “How am I supposed to grieve this loss in 3 days?”

      Bereavement leave is time for you to do what you need to do to address a death. For many situations, that’s administrative – planning or attending the funeral, handling the legal stuff, etc. For you and your situation, that’s taking a couple of days to breathe after an anticipated loss. That’s 100% okay. Good thoughts to you and your family.

    7. Bagpuss*

      IT sounds totally reasonable. Allowing yourself some time to cope with the mental and emotional exhaustion is totally reasonable.
      ANd you don’t need to tell anyone at work that that’s what you are doing , if you feel they won’t understand

    8. Tea*

      Adding to the chorus to say – that is an absolutely valid way to process your grief and use your bereavement leave. Also — just 3 days? Is that short of a leave typical? Take more days if you can. Heck, take a whole week. You’ve been through the wringer for the last 4 years and you need to recoup.

      1. Cj*

        in the US I think three days paid bereavement leave is pretty typical. you’re generally allowed to take more time, but would need to use PTO.

        in the circumstances described, I would probably just take three days now, and save my PTO for when the sister can come. given that the sister lives overseas, they probably don’t get to see each other often, and personally I’d rather have more time off then.

    9. SnappinTerrapin*

      I’m sorry for your impending loss.

      Do what you need to do to manage your grief and adjust to the changes in your life.

      It doesn’t matter whether others agree or approve. We each have to handle our grief in our own way. There isn’t a “wrong” way to be bereaved.

    10. GythaOgden*

      Go!

      I lost my husband in 2019 and while I did want to turtle a bit, my mum’s way of coping (she was after all grieving a son in law) was to bring her family over and get out for a few days after the funeral. Some of it felt a bit tacky to me personally — like hey let’s go to a museum about a shipwreck and have a grieving widow look at pictures of drowning men! — but I could just go and sit in the cafe if I wanted, and at least I was around people. And my mum really was hurting inside — as a churchwarden in the church I got married in, she couldn’t bear to work on weddings that autumn and was actually quite relieved when they had to stop the following summer due to the pandemic so she could take a breather on that kind of work. (And I was totally the opposite — I was very happy for people who got married or had a baby during that period. It was comforting to see that the world hadn’t ended.) She just finds it much easier to keep busy in these times than I do, a bit like a more complicated game of The Floor Is Lava, I guess, but she finds that activity actually is healing to her and I found the right balance between seeing my family and getting their very welcome support while also having my own place to retreat to afterwards.

      I also had a side gig with tighter deadlines and found it easier to connect with them in the very short bursts of activity I was being paid for rather than sitting on reception all day at my day job.

      Bereavement leave isn’t meant to be your single allotted time to grieve and you don’t have to behave like a latter-day Queen Victoria. It’s more like leave for things like a funeral or on the day of a death or whatever. You may have to add some PTO onto it — in the UK doctors will sign you off for a few weeks as a matter of routine, and I’ve actually found with mental health leave that having an official note makes it easier with my employer to establish why I’m not at work, given that we have a fairly robust reporting culture anyway even when self-certifying. While the statutory sick pay is a bit miserly, my employer does pay us generously, so that’s an incentive to use the time.

      So IME that’s a perfect way to use any kind of bereavement leave, official or unofficial. I had a trip to Disneyworld earlier this year as a memorial trip — we were both into Star Wars, met at a sci-fi club, and it’s the only big sci-fi property I can enjoy without hubby there. So I spent a day in Hollywood Studios going on all the Star Wars rides as a ‘what he would have wanted’ trip. Right before the pandemic, like literally the week before the UK went into headless chicken mode, I went the other direction, east to Rīga on the Baltic, and climbed the highest tower there to overlook the sea where we’d spent our honeymoon cruise. Doing those things now means more to me than they did before.

      Like I said, you’re not Queen Victoria, nor do you live in her achingly stuffy world. Do what you need to do.

  55. softcastle*

    Happy Friday! I wanted to ask if anyone had advice on opinions for potentially switching from a corporate environment to a start up.

    I’ve been working in corporate retail buying for my whole career, but am looking for a switch after years of tumult and a difficult merger. I just feel like my growth there is stagnated due to red tape/lots of process changes/dramatic leadership and philosophy shifts. A fast-growing retail company’s CEO reached out to me about a position on their team–it is right up my alley, would play to my strengths and give me the opportunity to do things I really missed doing in my current position. However, it’s a super tiny company (think, 15 employees vs a Fortune 500).

    Has anyone ever made this change? I’m so worried because it will be a HUGE change for me, but the opportunity seems very cool. Any specific questions I should ask/flags to look out for?

    1. Rick Tq*

      I’d want to know where they are in terms of funding rounds, cash burn vs capital, and how the company will operate until it starts turning a profit. Basically, does the new business have enough resources to make it out of the incubator. You could have the coolest job in the world but if the company folds in 3 months, oh well.

      With such a small company you will have to be a LOT more flexible since there will be few to no hard policies in place and even fewer documented processes to follow.

      Good luck, going from a walking pace to a sprint can be invigorating.

      1. softcastle*

        Thank you so much, this is incredibly helpful. I was wondering about how “tactful” it would be to ask these sorts of questions in interviews, because they’re not as standard in corporate interviews, haha!

        Thank you for the vote of confidence.

        1. pally*

          Given the start-up doesn’t have product on the market, it would be wise to ask how they are funding things (including burn rate). And what the plan is for funding until they are viable on product sales alone. That’s showing an interest in the company’s future. (Of course, you don’t want to join a company that doesn’t know how they are going to pay the bills a month from now.). Part of being a start-up is having source(s) of funding and that’s part of the normal discussion.

          If they are seeking investors, you might try to find their SEC submissions (10-K) that will give you a feel for how they are doing (check the company website). The 10-K is an annual document filed by companies who have investors. It is an accurate rendering of the good and bad of a company: sources of funding, threats to the products or company, areas of opportunity, plans if launch of product is delayed, etc.

          Also, get the highest salary you can from them. Start-ups, even the best ones, won’t always give COL or merit raises annually. There may be lean times where salary freezes will occur. They may also offer stock in lieu of a big salary. I’d be wary of that.

          Also there probably won’t be a formal HR dept. So nowhere to go to complain about any issues with an employee. Most likely you’ll not need to worry about this because everyone will work professionally together as you are a small group. YMMV

        2. Rick Tq*

          I don’t think you should have to ask, they should go through that information at the beginning of the interview. Since that kind of funding data is not public I wouldn’t expect the CEO to answer those questions via email before an interview, and don’t be surprised if you have to sign an NDA at the beginning of it for the same reason.

        3. Constantly Learning*

          Just thinking out loud, that it could be uncomfortable to ask those types of specific questions, so you could start the conversation by raising the question/issue about moving from a Fortuon 500 co to a start-up generally and see what kind of response you get. (Green flags then if they acknowedge the concern and give you the info mentioned above without you needing to ask specifics.)

          If there are only 10-15 people, I’d want to meet at least 4-5 of them to get an idea of culture and workplace environment.

    2. Hiring Mgr*

      I’ve made this switch – there are many considerations, and others have mentioned some important ones.

      One practical thing to think of (assuming you’re in the US) is health insurance. If you are at a F500 now you probably have excellent benefits and healthcare options. That’s not necessarily the case with a small startup. The coverage options may be worse and the premiums may be higher.. Depending on your age, health, family status, etc this may or may not be a concern, but at least something to consider.

  56. Cruciatus*

    Ever have those times during a job search when you feel like you’re never going to get out (at least to something better)? I’ve been at my current job 6 years, and my employer almost 8 (academic university). Jobs in my city suck but there’s one employer (in insurance) with pensions and professional development and the whole nine yards. I get to the interview stage quickly with some of the applications, but then have been “regretted” (their term for “we’re not hiring you”). I don’t think it’s necessarily me but rather that I’m competing against tons of other applicants, but oof, I just got my latest “regret” 20 minutes ago and it’s just starting to feel futile. Sigh. (And leaving this area isn’t of interest at the moment due to family reasons). I just want out of my current place–it’s getting toxic–but there aren’t enough good jobs to apply to elsewhere either.

    1. Jaunty Banana Hat the second*

      I’m right there with you. It’s a niche field that’s largely gone remote since COVID. There’s not a ton to apply to and the applicant pool is large when you’re willing to hire remote. Every time something happens at my current job I’m just like “why can’t I get out already??”

    2. rayray*

      I can empathize. Job hunting sucks right now. That feeling of dread when you see the email from somewhere you applied to and knowing it’s a rejection, ugh!

      There are very few jobs worth applying to, there are fewer postings overall but so many are grossly underpaying compared to COL or what the title should be paid.

    3. Voluptuousfire*

      Yes. I felt that way in 2021 when I was looking to escape from my old job.

      Right now it feels like 99% of applications i out our are just going into a black hole or I get an interview but am ghosted/timing isn’t right/I don’t have X factor they need.

      I haven’t had the motivation to really put knockout resumes together. What I’ve been sending out is good but I lack the juice to do better right now.

  57. Muffin Madness*

    Some comments in a few threads this week had me thinking about this:
    What is the most ridiculous reason you or someone you know has been fired?

    1. Muffin Madness*

      Not me, but my sister was fired from a job once for delivering the wrong muffins.
      She was in no way involved in the ordering of the muffins. She was told to go to *Restaurant* and pick up order for *Name*. She picked up the correct order, but the contents of the order were wrong. Not sure if the order was placed incorrectly or filled incorrectly but my sister was the one fired for the mistake. As I’m sure you can guess, it was a terrible place to work and now that its many years in the past she can look back and be grateful to be out of there.

    2. ferrina*

      “You had 3 typos in the last month”

      Note that this wasn’t a copy-editing job or anything that would expect perfect error-free communications- editing wasn’t even in the job description. Two typos were on internal emails that had gone to just one or two people. The third typo was on a public-facing document, but it was a document that had been reviewed by the Editing team as required, and the Editing team had missed the typo as well (which is their job).
      Actual reason for the firing: A new boss had come in and the person being fired was well-known and well-liked. The running theory was that boss felt threatened by this person.

    3. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      once my boyfriend was fired for being too grumpy when he was asked how are you. in his defense his father was dying and we were both sick

    4. Jaunty Banana Hat the second*

      I was fired and was told “We’re not legally obligated to provide you with a reason.” So…maybe it was a stupid reason?

    5. TPD Specialist*

      While attending a trade school, my daughter had a job in the bakery dept. of a local grocery chain. The bakery dept. closed at 9:00 p.m., and she went to the back to clean some tools. The lights were off in that area. When she went back out front to put the tools away (20 minutes after the dept. closed), a person was standing there and asked to have something written on a cake from the open area. My daughter apologized and explained that the dept. closed at 9, then went on doing more work in the back. The person called the store the next morning to complain, and my daughter was fired. For not writing on a cake this person had picked from a bin after closing. One thing they said to her was that they have too much competition from Walmart. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think Walmart would have done this writing at that hour of the night either.

    6. L. Ron Jeremy*

      Coworker just could not arrive on time for the 9:00 am Friday team meeting and was warned that he would be fired if he missed one more time. He did and was fired.

      He said he just couldn’t make it because of reasons.

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      “If we told you why we were firing you, you wouldn’t be eligible for unemployment.” Um, okay.

      Then they contested my unemployment ANYWAY, but lost because they never told me why they were firing me and I didn’t have any sort of disciplinary record or anything – in fact, they fired me about two and a half weeks after they’d promoted me, and I was still in training for the new position, so I had been doing fine in the old job and hadn’t been in the new one long enough to screw up. :P

      1. Cyndi*

        Last time I got fired I spent weeks stressing out and trying to collect what scant documentation I had to justify getting unemployment–I’d been fired due to attendance issues but they were caused by migraines, which in theory should have qualified me for benefits! But it’s hard to provide formal records for “I had to stay home in bed because I had ocular migraine and couldn’t see well enough to safely go anywhere, never mind do my job, and also the migraines were triggered by fatigue because you made us work mandatory six-day weeks for like two months straight :)”

        Anyway I worked myself up into a lather, called in to be weighed and judged and etc., and the unemployment agency said “Oh, you have nothing to worry about, we called your ex-employer repeatedly for their side of the situation and they never bothered to call back, so your benefits are approved.” The company had always been extremely slow to respond to me when I needed anything whatsoever, so it was really satisfying that in the end their incompetence worked to my benefit.

    8. Industry Behemoth*

      Some BigLaw firms will drum out attorneys who they want to transfer to another office, and the attorney doesn’t want to make the move.

    9. Manders*

      My colleague Fergus, back in 2004 (before the dumpster fire that the US is currently in terms of shootings) walked up to my other colleague Frank and proclaimed “You know how people go to their workplace and just start shooting? Those people never really hit that many coworkers. I think if I came in here I could kill a lot of people. You, I would have to chase for a while, because you are fast (Frank was a runner and ran miles at lunchtime with other employees several days a week), but I think I could get you eventually.” Yeah, out of nowhere. That comment went from supervisor to supervisor, and by the end of the day he was “laid off” (because nobody was going to fire him!), along with this poor other guy, George. Poor George had a female supervisor who was extremely vocal about only wanting to work with women and absolutely had very real, clear anti-male bias. He really got the short end of the stick on that “firing” (I worked closely with George and he was a good employee with a terrible boss).

    10. Unkempt Flatware*

      I was fired just once. It was my second day on the job at a coffee shop. I was about 3-5 years older than the highschool girls that worked there. It was one of those places where the baristas were required to holler out “HI WELCOME IN!!!!” to every single person in a high pitched squeal. These girls basically got into a cheer formation once each quarter hour. I was pulled in and fired for not being a good personality fit.

    11. Enough*

      For taking the work schedule and hiding it from the supervisor. She had left it at the service desk and no one told her it was there. It had been there for a while. She was not well liked.

    12. Diatryma*

      I interviewed for a job we all knew I’d get (I’d been doing it for a while, interview was a formality) and one of the questions turned out to be based directly on a former employee being fired. We worked in a community-based program for young adults with special needs, through the school district, and the employee had helped a student register to vote at a table in the library. The student’s family were pissed because that was An Important Milestone or something, and the employee was fired.

      So: helping a client register to vote.

  58. I Reported Bullying - Now What?*

    One of my coworkers at a different location recently disclosed some bullying she’s been experiencing at her branch. What she described was super petty and pretty egregious (a lot of appearance-based bullying and digs at self-esteem). She’s been avoiding the office and has cried over it. Due to the way our work is, I have a standing meeting with our head of HR, who doesn’t directly oversee my coworker’s boss but is a level above him on the org chart. This coworker is fairly timid and hasn’t reported anything due to fear of retaliation from these other people who are bullying her. What she described sounds serious enough that I mentioned it to the HR head in our meeting. I can’t undo that now, but I’m low-key second guessing myself. So my question is, should I have done that, and more importantly, I feel like I need to give my coworker a head’s up that I did this. How should I do that??

    1. ferrina*

      You absolutely should have mentioned it. It’s good that this is now being looked in to.

      If you are worried about retaliation, I’d say to coworker “I just want you to know that I told HR about this. I didn’t mention your name in any way [or if you did, tell her what you said]. HR is looking into this. I’m sorry I didn’t give you a head’s up; I was torn, but I realized that this is the kind of thing that HR expects to have reported to them so they can investigate. If you feel comfortable, I strongly encourage you to set up a meeting and tell them what you are seeing. Don’t worry if it feels weird or you aren’t sure what is important- just tell them everything, and they’ll be able to sort out what is important.”
      This is all assuming that your HR is good and able to protect her from potential retaliation.

    2. kbeers0su*

      Definitely let your coworker know that you shared that information with HR. You don’t want them to be blindsided if HR calls/contacts them or if something happens to the perpetrators.

      But also, be careful about the use of the term “bullying.” Going back to an update letter from this past week, if “bullying” is occurring related to one’s appearance there is a good chance this is gender-based harassment. (I.e. if she is a woman and is having comments or actions directed at her or having actions taken against her because she does not live up to the perpetrator’s idea of what it means to be a woman/feminine, that is gender-based harassment.)

      The term bullying still has a very juvenile connotation to it, whereas the term harassment feels more serious, often helps victims feel more willing to come forward and report, and makes management/HR more likely to sit up and take notice.

  59. Anon for this one*

    As a manager of a small team – if you are getting a sense that the company is in a bit of trouble and may be looking to make cutbacks. Hiring freeze etc. Is it OK to start looking outside the company for a new role knowing that I would be leaving the team with no manager or real direction – or does a manager have more ‘obligation’ to go down with the ship so to speak?

    1. Jen (they or she pronouns please)*

      You don’t have any obligation to go down with the ship – in fact I’d say not looking outside in your situation would be a bit stupid. You’re not obligated to accept any offer if you get one, but if you get laid off you’ll be happy you’ve started looking.
      If you can do so without getting in trouble, try to give your staff information about the situation, too, to the extent that you can. Not in an “you’ll be laid off” way, but so they are informed and can make the best decision for themselves, too.
      Good luck!

      Caveat: I’m not Alison or an expert in the field, so if this sounds way off-base, ignore it please.

    2. Rick Tq*

      You have no obligation at all to go down with the ship, and if a group is left without management or direction that is a problem for remaining management.

      You owe your team your best efforts while you are their manager but that doesn’t mean you must put your career development on hold.

    3. rayray*

      Just my 2 cents (someone who has never worked in a management position)

      Look out for yourself. My company has had a few rounds of layoffs, and if I learned anything, it’s that no one is truly safe. I was shocked at some of the people who were let go, many were in management or department head positions.

      If you do get a new job, your company will figure things out one way or another. Put yourself first, you need to be mindful of your own needs not the company’s.

    4. ferrina*

      You can go.

      To do right by your team:
      1. Be transparent about the state of the company. Don’t tell them that you are looking to go, but don’t pretend everything is okay. Give them the information they need to make an informed decision for themselves.
      2. Set them up for long term success. Document their achievements and talk about their success to your boss and people outside their team. Write SOPs as needed. Think about what you’d want to lay out for success if the company was doing well and you were leaving because you won the lottery.
      3. Wish them luck on your way out, tell them they were amazing, and offer to be a reference, whether that’s next month or next year.

      I left my small team. My company wasn’t on the verge of collapse, but wasn’t doing well and hadn’t given me a pay adjustment in 3 years (even though they had significantly increased my responsibilities- the equivalent of two promotions without the title or salary). I did the right thing for me, and my team ended up following me out the door- within a year, almost the entire team was gone. I think if I had stayed, they would have stayed, and that wouldn’t have helped any of our careers.

    5. Llama Llama*

      Unless you are the owner of a company, you have no obligation to go down with the ship.

    6. RagingADHD*

      Unless you are the literal captain of a real-life ship, you have zero obligation.

      1. allathian*

        Even captains of real-life ships are allowed to abandon ship as long as they aren’t the first person to do so.

  60. Jen (they or she pronouns please)*

    Hello!
    I’ve been notified by my boss that I’ll have an applicant shadow me for an hour next week, and that I should give them an overview. (That’s a totally normal step in my company, they offer it to every finalist. It’s not 100% required but they say you really should do it if you can find the time, I know coworkers who skipped this though. Also, finalist = 99% certain you’ll be offered the job.)
    Obviously I’ll answer any questions as good and honest as I can, but it’s my first time actually being included in anything related to hiring (on the hiring side) and I’ve been wondering if there’s something I specifically should (not) do? Also, do you think I’ll be asked for feedback by my manager or would that be weird?
    For reference, I’m tutoring students in small groups, in case that’s important.

    1. ferrina*

      You should be asked for feedback on the candidate. You are the last step before an offer- if you see any red flags about the candidate, you need to speak up. If they interact with the students at all, relay to your manager how the candidate was in that interaction.

      For what to do- be honest. Obviously avoid smack-talking the company (this is easier to do at some companies than others), but otherwise, be honest in your representation of what the day-to-day is like. The person needs to know that to make an informed decision.

      1. Jen (they or she pronouns please)*

        Thank you! I have to admit I’m a bit nervous about it, so it’s good to get some information. Maybe I should ask the boss whether there’s a specific thing the shadowing is supposed to give feedback on or so, I know that when I did it it felt like a formality and not like an actual assessment of me.

    2. Lasuna*

      Make sure you are really clear on what shadowing is supposed to look like, and what the candidate is supposed to do and not do. Go over that with the candidate at the start of shadowing. In my experience, people are eager to jump in and prove themselves, or just get bored and want to DO something, but the places I’ve worked did not want applicants to do anything when shadowing. They were there to observe and get a feel for the work. Also they weren’t background checked yet, so letting them do anything was risky. It sounds like at your company shadowing is mostly about letting the applicants decide if they want the job – if so let the applicant know that, especially if they want to help.

      1. Jen (they or she pronouns please)*

        Oh, that’s something I hadn’t thought about much yet, thank you for the reminder! When I was hired, my boss said it was so I knew what to expect, and that I should feel free to ask the person I was shadowing any questions I had. The boss should be available for questions though, so if anything comes up I can ask her.

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Make sure you are clear on what you are and aren’t “allowed” to show them or answer. (Depending on what the job is) the potential for industrial espionage is strong with a setup like this.

      1. Jen (they or she pronouns please)*

        I don’t think I really handle any secrets (tutoring/teaching, so the worst I have to handle is peoples’ grades when it comes to data protection), so I don’t think I have to worry about them. But it’s good to keep it in the mind in the future, thank you!

  61. Art3mis*

    How do you apply/interview for jobs that would be a big step back? I just can’t do the job I’m in now. It’s too much for me. I’ve been looking at jobs I’ve done before and I know they would be a big pay cut. I’m OK with that, but I’m sure they will ask why I’m trying to go back to that type of work. How do I word that? I assume I can’t just say that I’m not as smart as I thought I was.

    1. Angstrom*

      In my experience that’s not unusual — I’ve seen people with good technical skills be promoted into management, then ask to go back to the lab because management wasn’t what they wanted to do. Sometimes a move “up” requires a completely different skill set, and it might be one you don’t have or don’t want. Personally, I have no desire for any kind of management position, and am happy being a good team player when competently led.

    2. Sunshine*

      If it’s work you’ve done before, I think all you have to say is that upon reflection, you enjoyed it a lot more and would like to get back to it!

    3. Goddess47*

      The others are good. If you want a positive spin, find a way to say something like, “I was hoping to do X, but the position required a lot of Y. I discovered I am not interested in doing Y. I’m hoping to do X with your company.”

      Good luck!

    4. Qwerty*

      Is the role you are applying for one that you have done before? If so, it’s easy to talk about why you preferred being a Teapot Painter and want to go back to that.

      Otherwise, make it about what role you want to move into. It’s also fine to give a vibe of “I thought I wanted X but it wasn’t as enjoyable as I thought it would be”. If you are moving down the leadership ladder, it’s really easy.

      Manager -> Individual = Prefer hands on work to management and getting to spend less time in meetings
      Director -> Manager = Prefer getting to work closely with your team members executing company initiatives over coming up with strategic moves.

    5. Jen (they or she pronouns please)*

      Make sure they know you’re aware it’s a step back and are okay with that, if I were you I’d address it in the cover letter.
      Maybe try saying you’re looking for a job that’s (for example) less stressful? Or that you were happy to give managing [or other part of the old job that’s not in the new one] a try, but learnt you prefer being an individual contributor [or whatever the new job is instead of the old one]?

  62. Confused*

    I’m in a role where I’m required to be in office five days a week and when I took the job I was fine with that arrangement. Unfortunately when I started working with a new therapist a few months into the job she only had Friday afternoons available for in person. (I don’t have any privacy at work or home so I can’t do virtual appointments). I explained the situation to my manager and she was very supportive (I’m thankfully in a workplace where mental health isn’t stigmatized) but I think she was expecting this to be a short term arrangement and is now realizing it’s going to be long term. She seems less okay with it as time goes on and has made some aggressive comments. Has anyone experienced needing an accommodation like this? How did you handle it?

    1. ferrina*

      It depends on what your role is. If being in office is critical to the job, well, this may be an issue. If being in-person is not essential, this may be more negotiable. Does your manager have any tangible complaints? Are they valid? Is there work getting dropped or being passed over to other teammates because you are not in the office? Or does she just not like the lack of face-time?

      If your manager is generally reasonable, I’d call it like it is. “Hey, I just wanted to touch base on my ongoing Friday appointments. It looks like I’ll need to have this standing appointment for a while. With that in mind, here’s how I’m going to make sure that this doesn’t impact my work [be clear about how you plan to cover your work]. What do you think?”
      You might also add “Will HR want me to file an ADA accommodation for this?” (assuming this is for a condition covered by the ADA- if you aren’t sure, you can talk to your therapist and/or regular doctor. I know some primary care doctors can diagnose depression, but may not be willing to diagnose other conditions). If you are covered by the ADA, asking about the filing may be a way to both be collaborative with your boss while reminding your boss that this is a health condition need that has certain rights attached.

    2. My Cat’s Human*

      Intermittent FMLA may also be an option. You’d need to confirm if FMLA applies – you’re in the US, company is big enough, you’ve been there long enough, you work more than X hours/year.

      Also mine has had FMLA (when you need to take off X weeks for personal or family illness) since it became law, but only recently said people could do intermittent FMLA (when you need random or regular days/times off for personal or family medical issues).

      FMLA itself isn’t paid leave, but often (usually?) companies will let you use your own existing leave to cover the time.

      A big benefit of FMLA is that it is (supposed to) protect your job in various ways.

      Your company will likely have its own request form. I don’t know if a therapist can fill it out, or if it needs to be a doctor.

  63. Career transitioning help*

    Hi y’all,

    I took a couple years off for family reasons after getting my PhD. I’m hoping to transition from higher ed (teaching and research in literature and some social sciences) into editing or publishing. I’m totally willing to start at the entry level, but I’m having problems with some openings that require a portfolio.

    I feel like this is a shamefully basic question, but I’m sure academic writing is not going to look like a good fit, so how do I mock up a portfolio of more publishing, marketing, or generally non-academic jobs?

    1. Goddess47*

      Write things. All the things. Stories, editorials, PR pieces, fluff pieces, even academic pieces.

      For pieces that can be submitted somewhere, do that. Submit stories to journals. Submit editorials to the local paper. Actually getting published is secondary; it’s having material to submit that is the goal.

      Join a writing group and get feedback on your writing. Find a local group and become their ‘publicist’ — write about [the local neighborhood watch group] and their local meetings will go a long way for them and for you.

      The goal is to create a portfolio of works you can curate to the job you are applying for. Not just ‘mocking’ something up, but pieces you’ve worked on and thought enough of to try to get published.

      Good luck!

  64. UK Work Clothing?*

    Looking for resources for purchasing work clothing (mostly business casual) in the UK, specifically London. In the US, I normally do the bulk of my work shopping at places like Marshalls and Nordstrom Rack, supplemented with department store basics, but TKMaxx’s website is absolutely useless for work clothes. I’m hoping in store will be better, but in the meantime I’m looking for resources outside of M&S and Next.

    1. frida*

      Uniqlo and Arket for nice classic pieces, Monki and Stradivarius for trendier things, Muji if you like minimalist style, H&M for blazers/dressier pieces that aren’t crazy expensive, Unfolded for nice versatile pieces (they are online only but match H&M sizing in my experience).

      Not sure if you’re in London yet but TK Maxx is often more effort than it’s worth – I’d rather spend a Saturday at Ikea than try to find a single cute thing in my size at one of those clothes pits!

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      The John Lewis website has a wide range of brands, way more than they have in store. Monsoon have a decent (but not huge) selection of workwear on their website. On the more expensive end of the scale: Hobbs, Jigsaw, Boden (mostly online) Ted Baker and Reiss.

    3. Nope!*

      Boden has some very nice things. It’s not inexpensive, but they do have some good sales.

  65. New to edu*

    Private sector person applying at a university and looking for advice (I’m US based). It is for an ED of a new department that wants someone from the private sector. Most of the job description is about how the city and university are a wonderful place to move to and there is almost no public info on the new department – just an announcement that it is in the works and no news articles.

    1. What exactly is an Executive Director? I’ve been a director at private-sector companies, but whenever ED’s come up with respect to non-profits it sounds more like a CEO. The job description is light on details and is 80% match for my background, but the title is giving me pause.

    2. How do you figure out what salary to ask for? EDs at that university make $85k – $600k, I can’t find an equivalent position at another university

    3. Is a CV the same as a resume for people who aren’t professors or researchers? Is there stuff I should add or expand upon in my resume? Does it just mean that I get to be less concise about previous jobs? Currently all my jobs are on my resume and my 15yr history barely fits into 2 pages so I’d be happy to expand to a third.

    My plan is to apply even if I turn out to be very unqualified because it sounds like a good learning experience even if I get rejected. But I do want to at least make a good showing!

    1. another academic librarian*

      Put your resume in a CV format because that is what they understand. Mine is 16 pages
      This means EVERYTHING goes on it.
      Resume- selected essays in national professional journal.
      CV- Listing every publication publication dated.
      Resume- selected speaking engagements
      CV-EVERY speaking engagement comic con 2013 NYC. Invited speaker title of talk.

    2. M2*

      Is there a salary scale on the job description? Google salary scale grade X university name and see what pops up. $600k for an ED role at a university is VERY high. I know Harvard pays most EDs mid/ upper 100s- mid 200s. Maybe they’ll pay more because they want someone from the private sector to run it (this does happen).

      $600k is usually for the SVPs and occasionally Deans of big schools of the university, but maybe I’m wrong? If they ask you to put desired salary don’t put $600k! Do research to see if you can find a salary scale or if you know anyone at that university. Most have salary scales or grades on the job description.

      ED usually oversees day to day operations, strategy, planning, finances, and the staff, but again depends on what the university views as an ED.

      1. New to edu*

        No salary data in the job description. The scale I gave came from that university’s site based on current EDs. I think I’m mentally using the salary to judge the size of the department as a proxy for learning more about the job. The crazy high salaries concerned me, but I also don’t want to take a 50% pay cut.

        I figure it is better to put in too low than too high? I’m thinking of just putting in my current salary ($175k). I wish I could just leave it blank!

  66. frida*

    Thinking about a letter this week from a college student about campus career centers and the general theme on AAM throughout the years that college career advisors tend to give awful advice and should be ignored. But I’d love to hear theories as to WHY! Is it just that the industry tends to circulate the same bad advice? Is it an issue of age/lack of knowledge of how job hunting works these days? I’ve met lots of people throughout my career who attended lots of different colleges and never heard a positive word about any college career advisor. Why do they suck so much?!?

    1. Alex*

      My theory is that people who work at career centers, by nature of the fact that they work at career centers, don’t have tons of actual hiring experience. This is probably driven by the fact that career center employees probably aren’t paid much, and so why would someone with a ton of hiring experience and the actual best answers to “how to get hired” work there?

      1. kbeers0su*

        This is 100% the case. Typically, career centers are staffed by folks who get graduate degrees in higher education. They work as a part-time employee while getting said degree. Then they find a full-time job doing this role. They almost never have outside experience. And because most college career centers are general/universal to all majors, there advice is general/universal (and bad). Unfortunately, because it’s a self-perpetuating cycle where the heads of career centers (who went through this process) believe this is what it takes to work in a career center, they’ll only hire folks who follow the same path. So it’s an endless loop of the blind leading the blind.

    2. Seahorse*

      From my limited experience, they tend to be staffed by people right out of college who don’t have much career experience beyond campus jobs or summer stints in food service. I had a couple friends get hired into their college’s career centers despite having zero (!) work experience outside the uni library.

      Also, I suspect one of my schools had some kind of deal or got kickbacks from an online “portfolio” company. We had to make one to graduate, the career center made a big deal of how important it was, and I literally never used the thing ever again.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      My college career center was decent! I think there are a few reason why the advice can be lackluster or off-the-rails:

      – Employees don’t have a lot (or any) direct hiring experience.

      – Their clients are students with little or no professional experience, so advice to write a formulaic cover letter is better than students writing no cover letters at all. Of course, being overly rigid (like with this week’s letter writer) and insisting that all cover letters must be formulaic is off-the-rails, but generally giving students the tools to write a formulaic cover letter is lackluster advice for most.

      – Employees don’t have a lot (or any) experience in certain industries. For example, I was an engineering major and the career center employee I worked with had never been an engineer. She did advise only engineering students so she had picked up on some of the jargon and some of the qualities/skills engineering hiring managers look for, but there were some things she didn’t know. That said, she was very helpful with resume formatting advice and practice interviews.

    4. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      I think it is generally the lack of actual hiring experience. Also, a lack of understanding how wildly hiring practices can differ depending on the industry–usually they’re decent with advice for jobs in academia or local industry that relies heavily on their university/campus for recruiting, but terribly for industries outside that.

      There can also be a dependence on student employees, which only exacerbates the issue, because hiring a student employee is often a very different process from hiring for a full-time entry-level or higher position, and obviously the student employees have not had any experience hiring.

      I think they’re best used as a tool for catching typos in resumes/cover letters, and helping provide basic templates to students who have absolutely no idea where to start.

    5. Industry Behemoth*

      Alex’s theory is interesting. I dealt with a recruiter who ultimately ghosted me, after an initially promising prospect fizzled because their client obviously decided to start over and search for cheaper candidates.

      About 6 months later I tried looking her up online, and according to Google she’d become a career counselor at a trade college.

    6. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      In my experience they tend to be staffed by people who are young, inexperienced, and work there because they either have a connection with the university (are alumni themselves) or students (coming out of a different field of student affairs). They haven’t personally had much experience in hiring/being hired outside of the notoriously quirky field of higher ed, and the advice they’re giving has been produced by a director of career services who either left 6 years ago or has been there for 25 years and hasn’t changed a thing in all that time.

    7. Jinni*

      At my schools, the career center folks had only had jobs at…career centers. As in their whole career had not included work outside of a career center. Every announcement of new hire was like – Joe has been in the career center of Harvard! NYU! Now they’re here. But my experience of professional school professors was the same – they’re teaching a job they’ve never done. It was the oddest thing – and felt very academia specific.

    8. kiki*

      I think in part because good job career advice is actually really tricky to give. It’s also so variable based on industry. Additionally, very rarely is a career center staffed by folks who really have been hiring managers in all the types of industries students are applying to. So I think career advice from campus centers tends towards an outdated, boring mean. Your application won’t necessarily be stellar, but it also won’t be immediately thrown out. And for some students, that’s actually helpful because left to their own devices, their application may have been thrown out for being way outside expectations. But for a lot of others, the advice will make a good cover letter more stilted and less enticing.

  67. Confused State Employee*

    Has anyone left a job you loved for a job you felt ambivalent about (or generally expected to like less than your former job)? What were the main factors that led you to accept the new job? And, how did you feel about the decision once you were in the new job?

    Context: I’m a public sector employee and expect to receive an offer for a role that’s opened up in the department where I currently work. The role would be a promotion and the salary increase would likely be in the 20-40% range. The problem is… I love my current job! But there isn’t room for advancement in my current division (unless my boss leaves), and I want to move into management eventually (the new role would have 2 direct reports, while I’m currently an individual contributor). The new role would also function as a policy advisor to the department’s director, which on paper is exactly the kind of role I’d like to move into. However, the division the new role is in is also a lot more dysfunctional, and I feel that the work I do now is more meaningful/impactful.

    I’d take the new job in a heartbeat if I liked my current job less. With that said, I don’t see myself staying in my current role for more than another year or two… so I do expect to move on in the short to medium term. The question is… do I take this job offer or hold out for something better? I feel like I’ll have regrets regardless of whether or not I accept the offer. Interested in hearing from anyone who had to make a similar decision!

    1. Sad Fed Employee*

      I am a government employee who had a somewhat similar experience. My office reorganized and I was moved to a new team with the offer of a promotion to management. My new team could be characterized as “dysfunctional and less impactful” compared to my old team, though I think the work is as important, we’re just less effective for institutional reasons.

      I loved my old job as an individual contributor and I really wanted to stay on my old team, but the office needed someone with experience to lead the new team, and I was the only person who could be moved. I didn’t want the promotion, but I took it because I thought it was better to be the team leader in this position than an individual contributer.

      It’s been okay. After a year and a half, I’m still grieving my old job, though I’m feeling a bit better about it as I grow accustomed to my new team and boss. I have to participate in hiring for my old team and I find that pretty upsetting—seeing someone less experienced than me doing the job I want to do hurts. But there is no way I would be allowed to move back, and I can’t imagine who would fill my current role competently.

      I will add, my new boss is not a great manager and it has been exhausting and stressful to have a new boss and try to learn how to manage on my own. That said, my boss is relatively happy to delegate more to me, so I’m getting more exposure to the next level up, which has career benefits.

      I think I would have found the change easier to take if I’d made the choice instead been forced. In your place, I’d be thinking about the relative trade offs of staying in a comfortable job v the opportunity for growth/a new challenge, the appeal (or lack) of more money. I’d also consider how you feel about work life balance. Moving to management has been exhausting and I’m just now starting to reclaim my work life balance. From your description, it sounds like you are outgrowing your current role and would be ready for a challenge, so a move that stretches your abilities might be just right.

    2. cncx*

      I left a job where I loved the people because my headcount (and only my headcount) was going to get permanently moved. This wasn’t intentional to run me out, there was a global restructuring of service positions from which my coworkers fell under a different branch, but together. The guy who would have been my boss has Thoughts and Feelings about women in tech and called me “too expensive.” My reputation company wide was such that I would have been protected up to a point, but I realized I was in a situation where the best days of that job were behind me and riding it out a few more years would have been fine from a coworkers and job flexibility point of view, but otherwise career suicide because new boss was never going to allow me to grow and advance. Staying would have been very comfortable until it wasn’t. So I quit before new boss had enough to nitpick and destroy what I had spent ten years building.

      I cried when I resigned to the CEO and I took a job mid pandemic that was good enough and…it sucked and I left 15 months later. Pickings were slim due to Covid and I thought I could make it work. I didn’t make it work at that particular employer but in the meantime I’ve ramped up in a foreign language and earned three extra certifications that wouldn’t have been possible under old job’s new boss.

      My point is, I had to leave for my career even if i wish at least weekly even a few years later I could be back with my old colleagues. And even if I am still not where I need to be because of that sucky first job. At some point it is about making the move that serves you professionally , even if it is uncomfortable and even if you make a false move at first, like I did. I hated the drama of that first job and beat myself up a lot for being stupid enough to take it, but talking with my mom recently- everything I’ve achieved in the past few years simply wouldn’t have been possible at Old Job, so that’s my advice- do what you need to grow.

  68. Jaded Millenial*

    I’m just frustrated with rust belt government salaries. I want to move to a particular Great Lakes city, but I’m 2.5 years from public service loan forgiveness, and I’m ten years into my career and don’t want to take a 30% paycut for a job that’s not even hybrid. Just ugh.

    1. Esmae*

      Appalachia, but same. I’ve been in this position eight years, I should be able to pay all my bills.

    2. GigglyPuff*

      Same, Southeast. Been here 8 years and worse off financially in my mid-30s than I was in mid-20s and still rely on a parent to fill the gaps.

  69. Hanani*

    @21st of September, this is a somewhat late response to your request from a few weeks back to hear about how my “how to work together” conversation went with my colleague Dreamer Jim.

    It went really well! We created an agenda with some major topics to address, but deliberately scheduled it to be a 2.5 hr meeting to give us plenty of time to drift to other things. It was really important to me to spend some time beforehand thinking about my way of working as “just one way of working” and have some of the drawbacks or frustrations of it top-0f-mind, because otherwise I can get stuck in a space of “my way is obviously best, but I guess I sometimes have to accommodate worse ways”. This is untrue, but it’s where my head can go.

    Some of the conversation was about specifics (what platform to use to communicate, particular practices to institute at the beginning of each meeting), and a lot of it was about the thought processes behind how we approach things. Part of that thought processes conversation was just about contextualizing reactions and reasons, and a lot of it was to help us strategize different things we could do in response to work together better.

    We concluded by recognizing that we will need to regularly manage our working relationship, but we have some strategies, we have a foundation, and we know more about one another that we can shorthand-identify “oh, that specific tension we talked about is coming up here”.

    Happy to answer any more specific questions if you’d like!

    1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      It wasn’t me that asked but I am really pleased & interested to hear this, so thanks for taking the time to update! I may have to go to mediation with someone at work so am interested in hearing about successful resolutions to difficulties in a working relationship. Sounds like you did a great job and I love the 2.5 hour meeting idea!

  70. Mad Harry Crewe*

    My tech company (~150 people) was acquired at the beginning of the year (new company is ~1000 including us). It’s been four months and it feels like my team is just flapping in the breeze. We’re doing our jobs, and doing it well, but there’s no connection between us at the individual contributor level and the rest of the org, which is one of the things I liked about my original company – I felt like part of a team at the team, department, and company levels.

    I know things are still very much in flux and this is not permanent, but I would appreciate hearing from anybody who’s gone through an acquisition – did you stay? How long did it take for things to feel settled?

    1. Kay*

      I don’t have any real advice, but am going through something similar-ish right now and just want to say that you’re not alone! Best of luck

    2. WellRed*

      We were acquired four years ago and it’s been a long, still ongoing process but I never felt we were flapping in the wind.

  71. She doesn't report to me but would be on a PIP if she did*

    Super vent- long
    April 2020 a colleague (director level so theoretically above me in the hierarchy, academia) in an adjacent department (fundraising) announced at an division wide meeting that one of her goals for the coming year was to raise money for an endowment for my department that I manage. (without any consultation with me)
    I was upset at the time because hey- pandemic, social unrest etc etc. I was told accept the help.
    Many meetings with a lot of talk but nothing happened.
    A year went by, said colleague is moved to a new supervisor (who didn’t know anything about fundraising) I came here and expressed dismay. It actually felt like both were “set up to fail”
    Advice from AAM, do your job, be supportive.
    My direct supervisor supported me and said not your circus, not your monkeys.
    I did whatever I could to support including recruiting international names to be the face of the campaign, produce a website, and create a development statement and a pitch. (and many, many non productive meetings with the colleague)
    I kept asking for a project plan. None was forthcoming.
    Fall 2022 meeting that included the dean. Reboot of the campaign. I express a concern. Dean tells me to stay in my lane, keep my eyes on my own plate.
    Seven months later. Nothing happening.
    Colleague presents at a meeting with my stake holders yesterday afternoon (on zoom)
    Presents MY development statement that had attributions to our campaign chairs as if it was something she JUST wrote! (from summer 2021)
    This isn’t a PR thing where you just reuse stuff and it doesn’t matter. Attribution matters.
    Many ohhs and ahs by these outside stakeholders.
    I am beside myself.
    Three years of this bullsh@#!
    I had a private meeting afterward with a stakeholders and two staff people who said yes- we remember this.

    I am resentful and angry. How do I get over this?

    1. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

      I have no advice but I bet I’ll be seeing more of this. we keep hiring Assistant vice presidents to “come up with ideas ” except so far they are using old ideas and, not talking to people on the ground.

    2. Mad Harry Crewe*

      Just based on what you wrote here, it seems like there are a few different issues – it might help you to really pick apart the different threads and focus on the ones that matter, or the ones you can change. For instance, it doesn’t sound like you’re going to get her off this project, whether she should be there or not. However, if this project is taking up a bunch of resources and not producing any output (resources like your time, effort, budget, goodwill of the contacts you got to be the face of the fundraiser, etc), then you could probably push back strategically by raising those specific concerns or just not having any more of that resource to draw on.

      For reusing the development statement without attribution – that seems like a pretty specific thing that you could try to tackle. I’m not sure where to start, but you might talk to your boss or the colleagues whose work was also used without attribution. Have realistic goals – it’s unlikely that the record will be corrected for everybody who was on that call, but if you can get to the point where, internally, everybody’s clear that, going forward, she will provide appropriate attribution for other people’s work.

      1. Academic glass half full*

        Thank you.
        Thank you for teasing this apart.
        I got a call this afternoon from one of the stakeholder who did remember that she used the exact wording from 2021.
        I am not worried about my reputation any longer.
        I had ceased speaking to her supervisor about her. When he complained I quoted the Dean, “that I was to stay in my lane.”

        1. Academic glass half full*

          For reusing the development statement without attribution – that seems like a pretty specific thing that you could try to tackle.
          Sigh. I guess this is about me again.
          At this stage of the game, this isn’t a hill to die on.
          In playing the long game, this is just a burr in my saddle.
          My position is an amazing one with lots of flexibility and extremely rewarding.
          I just need to “care less”

  72. Kiki*

    My husband has been struggling since the pandemic to change his career. Previously, he worked in event production and catering which went away overnight in March 2020. He realized how much he did not like this line of work and saw it as an opportunity to change his career.

    His transition has been bumpy. His background is an actor and that has been a struggle too. He never had a plan B so never worked in offices and had a 9-5 job. He first got a license selling insurance. He is not a good test taker, so it took him a few tries to pass but he did. He took the first job he was hired for and lasted about 6 months before they let him go because he wasn’t hitting his sales quota. He got another job right away, but the firm closed a few months after he was hired. Needless to say, his confidence was shot and it was heartbreaking. He then tried Real Estate and it took him almost a year to pass the test after failing many, many times. It was crushing. But he has been working with a real estate office for a year, listed and sold one house (a family friend), and is keeping his head up.

    We have had two close friends of ours buy and sell their houses since he became an agent. One told him upfront that they were going with another agent. While he was disappointed, he got over it and understood. A family that we have been very close with over the last three years (vacations together, kids are best friends, trusting with our problems, etc.) just bought a house and will be selling theirs. They never told him and didn’t give him a chance. I got a call from the one parent who told me and said how guilty they felt, that they were just looking to see what was out there and what they could sell their house for and it happened so fast. But it was already done. They said that they sought after a realtor from a different agency so it wouldn’t get back to my husband. I told them that I understand that buying a house is probably the most expensive investment a family will ever make in their lives. They have to do what’s right for them. However, my husband will feel a certain way about it. He’s trying to build his business and if his friends don’t trust him or think he is not worthy to even give a chance, then what does that say about our friendship? The other parent also reached out to my husband and they got together to chat a few days later. My husband is crushed, but we were hoping to move on, but now they have pulled away from us, not inviting us to things (all of our mutual friends are there!).

    We did nothing wrong. We are hurt. We expressed our hurt and now they are pulling away.

    My questions are – how are we supposed to feel about this and how would you move forward? If you put yourself in their shoes, what would you have done? They witnessed my husband’s struggles with taking the real estate exam, but he’s been at his agency for a year and his team has excellent resources. There is no doubt the agent they chose has years of experience, but if they say they were “just looking,” couldn’t they have at least given him a chance? If we are such good friends? If they didn’t want to mix friendship with business, then why weren’t they up front with that? Obviously, we are very hurt by this and really want to move forward. Thanks

    1. Alex*

      I think it is a mistake to rely on your friends to build your business for you. Your friends weren’t trying to hurt you–but they also aren’t obligated to take a chance on someone just because they are a friend, when it is something so big and important as a real estate transaction. What if things had gone wrong? That also could have blown up the friendship.

      You’re always allowed to feel what you feel, but I don’t think it is fair to your friends for you to hold their choice of real estate agent against them. Your partner needs to build his business with clients who may not know he’s a newbie, and get support from his office to do that.

    2. Temperance*

      You’re looking at it as “giving him a chance”, but they stand to lose thousands or tens of thousands of dollars if they’re not using someone who is an expert. You yourself admit that he struggled with the exam. Imagine how that looks from the outside.

      I would probably do the same as they did, honestly. It’s not a personal insult to you or to your husband, but thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in real money on the line. It became personal when your husband approached it that way, and that’s why they’re stepping back from you both. You put them in an awkward position.

      1. Kiki*

        Maybe I wasn’t clear – he told them that he understood and there were no expectations or hard feelings. I said the same. We understand how it looks from the outside and do not want to burden friendships with expectations that are wildly out of touch. It’s the pointedly keeping that information from us (they were telling all of our mutual friends and intentionally not telling us) and then when they did tell us it was with a lot of guilt. I am not sure why they did this. It just feels like they made an assumption about how we’d feel and when we said we understood why and congrats (it was genuine we are really happy for them), we are still being pulled away from. It’s like they are expecting us to behave a certain way and we are not! Thank you for your perspectives though. I appreciate the honesty.

        1. Temperance*

          I think the subtext and where you talk about giving him a chance might have come through in your interactions, because that’s honestly not how I interpreted your comment at all. It sounds to me like you and he were hurt that he didn’t get their business.

        2. Kiki*

          Thank you again. I am realizing now how this looks from the outside. Hopefully we can move on and patch this up. I would not want expectations on me as a friend.

      2. New Mom*

        I agree with this OP. But I’m also sympathetic to you and your husband and I’m sorry that he is having such a hard time.

        This is a really big ask of friends, and if something went south with it, that would have also caused issues with the friendship. We bought a house a few years ago and I only wanted to work with an experienced person because there are soooo many little details, and even a small mistake can be very costly. And people are funny about real estate agents, I’ve recommended our agent to multiple people since we had such a positive experience with her and none of my close friends have ever gone with her, they’ve always opted to find their own person. I thought it was odd, but definitely a trend I’ve seen, so I just shrugged it off. Maybe they also felt that since it’s such a huge expense they didn’t want to go with someone I recommended in case it went south and then may impact the friendship.

        If your husband has a network of people who want to buy/sell has he ever considered trying to pair up with an experienced realtor so he can bring business in (they win) and then he can learn from them (he wins)?

        If you want to patch things up with this couple, it might be good to apologize for putting them in an awkward situation, and be very genuine and not “sorry but…” and then never mention it again.

        I have a friend who started her own coaching business and then every time we would talk she would try to get me to sign up for one of her expensive coaching classes. I just stopped reaching out to her after a while because it made me uncomfortable.

        1. Kiki*

          Thank you for replying honestly. I really appreciate you taking the time. You make points that are right on and gave really good advice. Thank you.

    3. ferrina*

      He’s trying to build his business and if his friends don’t trust him or think he is not worthy to even give a chance, then what does that say about our friendship?

      This isn’t what happened.

      I know it feels this way. You two have had an extremely hard last few years. Your husband had a horrible string of bad luck with his career. That hurts so much. And it can make you feel so powerless. On the one hand it’s nice to know that it’s not your fault, but on the other hand, if it was your fault, at least you could do something to fix it! That kind of powerlessness is terrifying. You sometimes feel like you keep taking leaps of faith hoping you won’t get too badly hurt when you fall. And your husband did take several leaps of faith into careers that didn’t work out- the sales job that fired him, the firm that folded. But finally he found a career that looks promising. And that can be scary- the others looked promising too. You just have to try your best and make what you can from every opportunity.

      That’s enough to make anyone emotionally raw. Even typing that I can feel the drain of emotional energy. Living that is just emotionally exhausting. And doing it over and over again in the span of a few short years, with no real recovery time.

      But that’s not on your friends. It’s not their job to build up his career. Yes, friends should support you, but they aren’t required to support you like this. This isn’t buying a $20 t-shirt; this is a large sum of money. Lots of money/financial risk + friendship often is a bad combination. You know this. You even say: “They have to do what’s right for them.

      Then why are you blaming your friends for making a normal decision? You say several times that you were hurt, but why? It’s not somehow a betrayal of friendship to not include you in a business transaction. Having your husband as their real estate agent shouldn’t be a requirement for friendship. You say that you are “hurt”, but that is not their hurt….you are hurt that after years of struggle, it feels like there was an opportunity that is so close that could help so much, and it probably feels like one more door closed in your face. But what if that door was never open to begin with? What if it was just a picture painted on the side of a rock, like a trick by Wile E Coyote. Your friends didn’t make the economic situation what it is. Your friends had nothing to do with your husband’s career, and they still don’t! Your grief isn’t caused by your friends, yet you are directing all your hurt to them.

      And then you “expressed our hurt”. Eep! Did you really tell them “You didn’t let us be responsible for a big financial transaction and allow us to pull your finances into the middle of our friendship in a way you clearly weren’t comfortable with! It hurts me that you don’t find us worthy or trustworthy, because that is clearly the only thing that would stop you! I am taking your financial decision as a reflection on how you value us!”
      Sure, you didn’t use those words. But that’s the underlying message.

      How to fix it? Apologize. Send an email apologizing for what you said. Explain that you said it in a fit of despair and frustration at your husband’s career prospects. Promise to never talk to them about his career again (and hold to that!). No excuses, no defensiveness- be self-aware and hold yourself accountable for your own actions.
      If you’re lucky, you’ll get another chance.

      But also- separate yourself from your husband’s career. Find a way to take an emotional break and let yourself rest and heal from the last few years. I hope this incident isn’t reflective of how you’ve always been and is just a reaction to the extreme stress you’ve been under. But it is your responsibility to find a way to move forward to a better mental place. If possible, I’d say therapy- it can be so gratifying to talk through this with a neutral third party.

      1. Kiki*

        This. All of this. It’s been so hard. I am more hurt that they kept it from us. Anticipated that we were going to be upset. But they probably didn’t get there without us indicating that we would. I’m not this person. I don’t have expectations on people. I am understanding. I have had the opposite so many times and that sucks. That was the first thing I said to them-