my predecessor comes back every year to celebrate her success, team lead spends hours venting to us, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My predecessor keeps taking over the event that’s supposed to honor my work

I’m in year 2 of being a support clerk with my city’s planning office. Every year we celebrate the huge numbers of applications we’ve processed. The very extroverted person who held the position before me created the role from scratch and was very effective. Therefore, she has been invited two years in a row to attend our celebration dinner. The problem is that she takes over the dinner and praises all of her past work accomplishments and very little, if any, space is left for me to be given credit for the work I’ve done keeping everyone on track since (which includes modernizing all of her paper-based processes). Trying to speak up for myself at this event or prior seems like being petty as she’s retired and was a staff favorite. Am I just being a small person here? Could this mean I’m not as effective as I think in my job and should just suck it up and accept that this party will forever be a downer and leave me questioning my value there?

I wouldn’t take this as any indicator of your own performance; it sounds like it’s about her, not about you — and she’s being allowed to run roughshod over you, possibly because of the strength of her personality or possibly because people are just happy to see her and aren’t thinking too deeply about it beyond that. (It’s also possible that a third year of this will start to seem strange to people, who knows.)

Can you take some control of the agenda ahead of time? Approach your boss or whoever organizes the event with a list of the program’s achievements that you want to make sure are recognized at the event (you can call them “the program’s achievements” even if they’re all yours; there’s an event being held to celebrate the work, so it’s completely normal to frame it that way). Frankly, if you have decent rapport with your boss, you could also say, “The last two years, Jane ended up running the presentation and focused on the work she did while she was still here. Since we have two years of new accomplishments to talk about now, I’d like to propose we do X this year.” (X could be you running the event, having a set list of speakers that doesn’t include a long-gone employee, having a slideshow focused on this year’s achievements, or anything else you think would work well.)

And ideally someone would be ready to intercept Jane if she does try to take things over and/or to tell her in advance that the program for the night will be X and the org will be hosting her as a guest but not a speaker since the focus will be on more recent work. Arranging that would require a pretty candid conversation with your boss, but if you have the kind of relationship with that allows for that, it’s a very reasonable thing to raise. It’s not petty in the least to point out that the event should honor the team’s current work.

2. My team lead spends hours venting to us — but tells our boss he’s training us

After being at my job for one year, things have started to go sideways. I recently rotated to a new team with a different team lead, Henry. Henry will video call me without notice and without asking if I’m free to chat. He is an absolute chatterbox! One of these unscheduled video calls will last around 30 minutes to an hour, usually multiple times a day. The meetings turn into a vent session for Henry while I sit there quietly until he stops talking.

We bill our clients and set a budget before we start an assignment, but with these unscheduled, long, irrelevant meetings, my work has been severely affected. Unfortunately, Henry “cold calls” each of us on the team (there are 3 of us) and our budget is severely dwindling.

Due to the budget problems, Henry mentioned to my manager that the reason the assignment is taking so long is because “there are three new people on this team who ask a lot of questions.” I feel like Henry is completely throwing the team under the bus and not realizing that his ineffective meetings are part of the problem. My manager is unaware that Henry is conducting these calls to each of us. The other two people on my team are new as well and we are afraid to mention something to our manager. Should we say something or are we overreacting?

Whoa, no, speak up! Frankly, you should talk to your manager about Henry’s calls even if he weren’t throwing you under the bus, simply because they’re so numerous and distracting. But with him claiming the budget shortages are due to your training needs, you really need to say something. (And if you’re worried about being believed, your manager probably already knows Henry is a talker and it’s likely to ring true.)

You could say, “I feel awkward raising this but Henry calls so regularly to chat — usually multiple times a day, for up to an hour each time — that it’s significantly slowing down my progress on the X project. These calls aren’t for training or to answer questions, and we don’t accomplish any work during them. I can see how much it’s slowing down our work, but I haven’t been sure of how to handle it.”

Read an update to this letter. 

3. Hiring externally when staff expect an internal hire

I am in charge of youth services and have one direct report, who has been here since before I was hired but will soon be moving on. This means I will need to hire for the first time since starting. After working for a number of years with a youth services assistant who has no experience working with children (and has frankly stated that they don’t like kids), I have a clear idea of the experience I’m looking for in a new hire and how I’d like the position to evolve, both of which will be the biggest factors when I interview.

My organization has a very strong culture of promoting within — in the six years since I started, the only external hires in my department have been for part-time entry-level jobs and a position that requires a specialized degree. The general rule is that if someone within the department is interested in an open position, they get the first opportunity to apply and interview before we open to external hires, which makes sense most of the time and almost always results in an internal hire. My issue is that there is no one in my department who has the skills or experience that I am looking for in this position. Normally, we would hire internally even if they don’t have all the requisite experience and then train them up to the level we need (that’s how my current assistant got their job). However, my service area works heavily with children and families and I can’t train people into having experience working with kids and parents or enjoying that type of work. (My director agrees with me that no one in our department would be a good fit for the position.)

I’m hoping people will self-select out, given my service area, but I’m afraid that the desire to move up within our department will cause people to apply even if they aren’t interested in family programming and don’t have the skills needed. We haven’t announced the open position yet, but most of the potential internal applicants work in the same service area and every time my soon-to-be-open position comes up in our management meetings, their supervisor makes a point of talking about internal applications and how great their reports could be at this position. If they do apply, I would be obligated to give them an interview, but I don’t want to make anyone feel bad about not getting the job, especially since I know I don’t plan on hiring internally.

How can I temper my coworkers’ expectations that I will hire internally, when I know that I definitely won’t? Besides being very clear in the job description and in my expectations for the position, is there anything I can do to keep people from getting their hopes up about this job opening?

Being very clear in the job description is the place to start, including explicitly labeling specific skills and experience as “required.” From there, be similarly clear with anyone who approaches you about the job (“I want to be up-front with you that I’m committed to hiring someone with XYZ experience, which could mean an external hire if we don’t find that experience already on staff”) and in those required interviews (“you probably saw that the position requires XYZ and I want to be up-front with you that that’s an obstacle for your candidacy — would you like to talk more about that?”). You should also fill people in on your thinking at those management meetings when it comes up — let them know you’re holding a high bar on XYZ and haven’t been able to find that in internal applicants.

Read an update to this letter

4. How to quit when my two jobs are related

The short version: I work two jobs and I want to quit one of them. The sticky part: Job 1 introduced me to Job 2, and they sometimes work together on projects (but sometimes are competitors).

I’ve been at Job 1 for almost two years, and it’s … fine. It was a nice place to land after leaving a toxic job with a mercurial boss. But I’m a contractor with zero benefits and my hours are the first thing cut when times are lean. Which brings me to Job 2. When Job 1 had to halve my hours recently, they asked if I might want to go help out at Job 2, where they needed someone with my talents.

Job 2 is amazing. I’m an actual employee for the first time in my life, with some benefits even as a part-timer. There’s a real culture of appreciation there — bosses and coworkers constantly thank me and praise my work, even though I’m the lowest-level employee there. They also praise each other’s work and strengths. I keep being given more responsibilities and interesting tasks to work on. I feel like my opinions and ideas are respected and like I’m seen as a whole person, rather than a tool to get tasks done. While Job 1 has kept my hours reduced for months, Job 2 is happy to give me as many hours as I want, while remaining flexible about Job 1’s needs and my personal needs.

Every sign in the universe is pointing to me needing to quit Job 1. My spouse thinks I should quit. My friends ask why I haven’t quit yet. I got a tarot reading for the first time in my life on a lark, and even the cards said I should quit my job.

But again, Job 1 and Job 2 are friendly. They work together. I often get info from Job 1 for Job 2 and vice versa. I read enough advice columns to know I can’t control how other people react to things and sometimes there’s no way to not hurt feelings. But do you have any advice to help soften the blow for Job 1 when I leave them for their cooler, more successful counterpart?

It sounds like Job 2 is willing to offer you full-time hours or at least consistently more hours than you get from Job 1, so that’s the easiest explanation to lean on — “They’re able to offer me full-time work, which I really need.” That’s a very clear, easy-to-understand reason and people will understand the need for more hours. Plus, any job that halves someone’s hours is well aware that it means the person might seek work somewhere else, so they’re unlikely to be shocked.

5. Why are recruiters asking about where I am in my job search?

I am not aggressively looking for a job at the moment as I’m currently employed, but have recently had a few exploratory recruiter calls. They each ask some version at the end of “where are you in your job search?” or “are you actively interviewing/fielding offers that we should be aware of?” For the most part I’ve been honest: I’m still in my role currently, just starting to look, but no real urgency on my end. But what are recruiters looking to learn by asking this question, and what is the right answer for someone in my current position?

They want to find out whether you’re in the final stages with other employers/expecting an offer imminently/already have offers, so they know if they need to try to expedite their process with you. Your answer is completely fine.

{ 246 comments… read them below }

  1. Observer*

    #2 – Chatterbox team lead.

    Of course you need to talk to your manager. But also, is there no way for you to get off the call sooner? Either start doing that immediately, or make sure to talk to your manager ASAP and tell him at that point that you want to start getting off the pone faster, and get his backing on this.

    1. Carl*

      It’s SO HARD to get off the phone with these people. I welcome suggestions. (I’m a lawyer who deals with individual clients, but same rules apply.) My only successful strategy is to start every called by saying that I have another call that’s a hard stop starting in 15 minutes. But eventually, given a month or two, people kind of catch onto that.

      1. John Smith*

        Totally agree. My manager spends hours on the phone or engaged in email ping pong discussing things that have no practical real world relevance or outcome or arguing the toss (“mental masturbation” is a term a colleague uses) and its utterly infuriating. My strategy is to pick a point a couple of minutes in a conversation to say “so sorry, got to go/ call of nature/ someone’s at the door” and just hang up (emails get either a very short response or ignored). He’s managed to piss off virtually every department he has contact with due to this behaviour. Sadly, senior management are well aware of this behaviour and choose to do nothing, despite the number of complaints received. I wish I had other solutions that don’t involve me spending time in prison…

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          I had a boss who someone described as having “diarrhea of the mouth” and often with people like that, they don’t seem to breathe or pause in their talking. The only way to say anything is to interrupt and talk over them, which is hard to do when you’ve been taught that interrupting is rude. Harder if they’re your boss.

          1. Recovering Interrupter*

            I used to be married to someone like this and interrupting is really the only way to excuse yourself in these situations. It feels rude in the moment but being lectured at for minutes or even hours feels much worse. Unfortunately I’ve now developed the bad habit of interrupting in everyday social situations and I’m having to relearn how to listen and discuss without cutting people off.

      2. Jackalope*

        For the OP, is it possible to set yourself on do not disturb? I don’t know what system you have, but the ones I’ve had at work provide that as a setting so calls and texts get blacked. That may or may not be acceptable to your employer, but it’s worth a try.

        To Carl: instead of saying that you have another call, can you just say that you have a hard stop in 15 min? If people figure out that you always say that, maybe look at it as you training them that you have short windows for phone calls. I’m guessing that’s in fact true: you have lots of things to do, and can’t let any one phone call take up too much of your tome. They might not like it, but as long as you are fulfilling your responsibilities to them as a client they can get used to it.

          1. Mockingjay*

            There are some callers I’d like to blacklist…

            But, to assist OP2, first, talk to your manager using Alison’s script. Next, when Chatterbox calls, try interrupting and redirecting: “that sounds doable/interesting/etc. Can you send me an email on it? Thanks! Gotta get back to the grind!” Repeat. And Repeat.

        1. Tio*

          DND technically works, but could be hard to explain when someone who is technically your superior is trying to get hold of you. If I had a report who was always on DND and not taking my calls, that wouldn’t be okay. Very likely the lead will look at it the same way, and eventually they’d have to explain themselves. (And while the lead may not be their reporting boss, they clearly have some kind of authority over them.) I’d say talking with the boss is the best strategy right now

      3. Richard Hershberger*

        Do you bill by the hour? If someone wants to pay your rate to chat, I don’t see the problem.

        1. Ariaflame*

          I suspect they aren’t tied to any particular account that can be billed. And probably shouldn’t be.

          1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

            Carl said it’s a client; clients can be billed. It might be possible to use that, though–you could say “well, don’t want to run up your bill.” Other than that, mix up reasons–another call, a meeting with someone else in the firm (if applicable), an urgent email you have to send, etc.

        2. Snow Globe*

          Clients who pay for work by the hour do not want to pay for staff to chat about other things, and will be very unhappy when their bill is twice what was expected.

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            Who said anything about staff? It is Carl, Esq., and his client. And while the client will undoubtedly be unhappy about the bill, that is the goal. Yes, it is possible that the client will fire Carl and go find a lawyer who won’t bill for chitchat. The calculus for Carl is whether this is a bad thing. If time spent with chatty client is cutting into the billables, chatty client may not be worth keeping.

        3. EPLawyer*

          Because lawyers rarely have just one client, having a chatty one can be a problem. It means you are not working on whatever needs to be done.

          I solve the problem by not taking unscheduled calls. Then I block out the time for that call on my to do list. That way at least my day is not all messed up. If you can’t do that, make it clear the call will be X amount of time only. If they start wandering off, you need to drag them back on topic.

          For LW2 – if you can’t just — not take the call and then IM them with, sorry I was busy is it important, then when they start just venting say, I need to get back to X, is there anything I can help you with?

          Although the petty part of me would like say — since you told the boss these are training sessions, I am going to start recording the calls so I can refer back to them later. DO NOT DO THIS.

          1. *kalypso*

            We tell clients to email if they have anything. They have to email to ask for a call and the lawyer gets to decide if it’s worth a call or not.

            And they get an itemised bill with email reading time.

            If a client gets all handholdy over email we let the referrer know – in our niche of our field most of our work is by referral and the referrers can handle basic stuff for or alongside us so we get to go ‘this client is emailing six times a day telling me how to do my job’ and the referrer can step in and go ‘you know we have to pay the lawyer for reading all your emails’ at them and redirect, go handhold at meetings that don’t need lawyers etc. which isn’t something that can happen in all fields, but in our part it’s a thing. Other fields just go straight to sending a monthly statement with ‘reading email from client’ ‘reading email from client’ ‘reading email from client x3’ and sticking contact procedures in the client agreement.

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

          It’s not the client that is chatty, its the team lead. It sounds like they have X budget from the client to get project done in Y amount of time but the team lead is taking hours a day talking with people, and it doesnt sound like its really training or going over the project. Because he his taking so much time talking they are not able to complete the project and so are running out of the budget and may have to work longer hours or something with less pay.

          1. New Jack Karyn*

            Richard was replying to Carl, a lawyer talking about his own clients. Richard wasn’t addressing the letter.

      4. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        Start a running list of things to do at the start of the meeting. Keep referring back to the list out loud, which brings attention to the purpose of the meeting. When the client starts meandering, turn their idea into a succinct list item and ask if it’s correct. (“So what you’re saying is that you want me to look into previous llama cases more?”) When you think it’s about time to wrap up, list everything on the list and ask if they have any more. Most people blank out at that point, but if they really did have an additional thing they can say so.

        1. NZDoc*

          I’m a GP, which means I really do have only 15-20 minutes before my next patient is at the door, and this is exactly what I do if I’m struggling to close things. I always start the conversation with “what do you want to talk about today… anything else… anything else?” regardless of whether I think it’s going to be long or short, and then I refer back to that list with “so the plan for a is… plan for b is… plan for c is… are you comfortable with that?”
          It works. It doesn’t work every time, but it does work. But I do have a very real hard stop afterwards, so that probably helps me to stick to it.

      5. Beth*

        If you can set up a buddy system with a fellow sufferer, that can help. After five minutes/ten minutes/whenever, you text your buddy the established SOS, and they call you on a different line. That’s a Vitally Important Call that you Absolutely Must Answer, sorry Henry, another time (not).

        It’s reciprocal, of course.

        Depending on circumstances, if you and your buddy are in the office, they might knock on your door instead with a Vitally Important Question. If you’re working from home and you have a spouse or partner, they can even ring the doorbell as long as it’s audible from where you’re sitting.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          This is a brilliant solution. Since all three of you on the team are dealing with this, you can be each others’ help net. But really you should talk to your manager (all three of you!) and tell manager what’s going on. I’m a little concerned that manager isn’t aware of what’s happening, but I guess if manager believes what Henry’s been saying then manager doesn’t realize that something else is happening.

          1. Ama*

            Henry may be just be clueless (is he new to being team lead?) but it’s also entirely possible that with everyone else on the team being new, Henry is counting on all of you thinking you can’t do anything about it because he’s team lead. I have unfortunately run into a few colleagues in my career who would take advantage of new employees not knowing they can push back or that they were being asked to do something they weren’t actually expected to do.

            1. Hills to Die on*

              He doesn’t sound very smart – like nobody would figure this out or say something eventually.

      6. Critical Rolls*

        A strategy that I learned in retail is to ask if there’s anything in the specific actionable field we can do for them, and if no, get the heck off the phone. This gets it back on a business footing and usually gives you an off-ramp.
        “Wow, quite a story. Bob, is there anything else Big Store Inc can assist you with today? Okay, have a great day!” *click*
        Also feel free to tell a version of the truth, such as “I have some deadlines to make today” or “These briefs aren’t going to write themselves!”

        1. CV*

          Agreed. I have a lot of success with interjecting something like, “what do you need from me right now?”

        2. Insert Clever Name Here*

          Yeah, a “goodness what a story! I’ve got to get back to things, have a nice afternoon” and then hanging up works for me with a chatty coworker.

      7. Starbuck*

        “Hey, sorry Bob, I’ve got to go now!” and hang up. He’s not their boss!

    2. ButtonUp*

      What about avoiding the call in the first place? I guess it depends on culture, but at my workplace it would be totally reasonable to chat “sorry in the middle of something, what’s up?” or wait until later “sorry I missed your call earlier, anything I can help with?”. At least that would cut down on the frequency.

      1. Daisy Daisy*

        Yeah, unless it’s wildly out of the norm for your workplace, I would suggest putting your status to “busy” or “do not disturb” and missing calls, maybe returning the message via chat later. or even just not picking up in the moment, and IMing, “Sorry, I’m in the middle of X, is it urgent?”

        But absolutely, this is something you need to tell your boss about, egregious enough in the first place but now your lead is misleading your boss!

      2. MsSolo (UK)*

        “Oh, sorry, I had the headphones plugged in but I wasn’t wearing them, so I missed the notification! What did you want to know?”

        (an actual, real reason I’ve missed a bunch of calls, because I’m not spending 9 hours a day with headphones squishing my ears against the arms of my glasses)

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Henry: Got time to chat?
        OP: No.

        He lied to management about why he’s on the phone with y’all so much. He’s lost my sympathy for whatever he’s venting about.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          Exactly – if he asks, say no! Don’t just sit there and listen to someone ramble and complain for hours a day. If you have work to do, interject and say, “I’ve got to run, that alpaca report isn’t going to write itself! I know Bob is expecting it today.”

          And who is monitoring this billing that the project is nearly out of money and little has been accomplished. Isn’t the billing coordinator wondering why Henry has hours of time per day for training one person constantly? That’s either a billing problem or an employee performance issue.

      4. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Yeah, OP, you could just not answer and say you were away from your desk when Henry called. My boss is currently out on leave so I’m reporting to my grandboss who calls me for every tiny little thing even when a chat would be 1000 times quicker and easier, so I’m starting to screen calls from grandboss when I’m in the middle of something that I don’t want to be distracted from. In OP’s case, I wouldn’t chat back to Henry right away but maybe later a pointed “Do you have a question for me?” would signal to Henry that you’re not really available for a long talk (although I somehow doubt that would stop Henry). In my case, when I don’t answer grandboss’ calls, they will just chat or email me whatever they were calling about and it saves me a whole ton of time.

        1. AngryOctopus*

          In my last job, I would ask the lead chemist questions such as “do you have the numbers for the appropriate controls for this group?”. He would then try to call so that you could “go over it with him” which consisted of him scrolling through the list and figuring out which controls were needed. After the first time I wouldn’t answer when he called. I don’t need to waste my time watching you look through a list because you’re not organized enough to do this up front (when the group is made). I’d always message later “Oh, I just need the list so I can put these together”–it sadly never stopped him trying to call, but I’d just repeat that I only needed the list, and it wasn’t a discussion. OP, maybe you can try skipping the calls, and then asking later what he needed by leading with “sorry I missed your call, was working on X. Do you need something before I start on Y/Z?”. Try to make it clear (not always clear to a Henry, but you’ll have a paper trail for the higher up) that you’re not inviting a call, you have work to do, and just need to know what he wanted.

          1. Ihmmy*

            Some people need to process their thinking outloud, which is totally valid, but perhaps they should look into rubber duck debugging instead of a call with a real life person who has other obligations as well

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              My husband and I both have literal rubber ducks on our desks for this exact reason.

              1. AnonForThis*

                I’ve tried rubber-duck debugging, but talking to inanimate objects just doesn’t feel right. I’ve tried talking to my cats, but they get super judgey when I’ve forgotten a step.

                Instead, I start an email and explain the issue and which steps I’ve taken to fix it. Half of the time I’ll remember an additional thing to try; the other half of the time, I’ll have an email ready to send.

            2. Ama*

              Yup I had a boss who would do this — she’d stop by my desk sometimes multiple times a day to walk through her own to do list. Some of the items it was helpful for me to know about …once, not several times a day with no real change in status.

              I didn’t understand about verbal processing until I left that job (I am the opposite of a verbal processor in that I think better typing things out)– I think it would have given me better language to push back than the vague hints I gave about interruptions making it hard for me to get my work done, which didn’t work at all.

            3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

              I rubber duck for my boss all the time, but there’s plenty of time for it in my schedule so … quack, I guess?

        2. LoV...*

          While I would definitely talk to your boss to clarify the situation, I agree with the solution to just not answer the calls. If they have no value, it seems easier to just come up with an excuse – Sorry, didn’t see the call; I had stepped away for a moment; I’m on a tight deadline and couldn’t talk at that moment; I was in the bathroom; etc etc etc. At some point, it sounds like Henry would just go and talk to other people.

    3. Chrissssss*

      Once I managed to end a call with a (difficult, often rude) chatterbox by telling him I need to work. Depending on the culture it might be a bad idea, but it also implies that the call is a waste of time.

      But I would go for the missing calls first.

      1. RunShaker*

        I too would screen Henry’s calls. I’ve done this in past….tight deadline, had a last minute huddle/meeting, stepped away for bio break, etc. Also if Henry likes to call around certain times, I would set my status to away, busy, and/or do not disturb at various times. Be random about it. And when I do answer, I’ll say, have X coming up in few minutes but can answer quick question Henry. But yes, speak to your manager. I wouldn’t want my manager to think I’m behind and/or not fully trained.

    4. Well...*

      I’ve never experienced this at work, but my dad does this soooo bad. Can you try getting something else done in the meantime? Like, turn your video off, and work while he’s venting. If he’s monologuing and not letting you get a word in edgewise, might as well let him monologue to the void.

      If he has minimal social awareness, the calls will be less satisfying for him. If he’s like my dad, he’ll never know the difference, sigh.

      1. Well...*

        Also, avoid the calls if possible. But if you end up stuck on the phone with him, this can help minimize the disruption in the short term, while hopefully in the long term this problem gets solved and he stops these calls.

    5. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      By my math, all this team lead does is vent to his team–3 members, 1/2 hr to an hour, 3 times a day, is pretty much most or all of his time.

      1. EPLawyer*

        I noticed that too. Like when does this guy do any WORK. Surely the boss noticed his work is failing too. Not just the budget is dwindling but so is productivity. Why isn’t the boss exploring why so much alleged training is needed.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Yah, I seriously doubt Henry does any work whatsoever. Llama’s math is the same math I did and it doesn’t leave much time for actual work (because for sure Henry needs an hour long lunch break, right?). The boss should definitely have noticed this but if not, then OP should definitely speak up.

          1. AngryOctopus*

            It feels like Henry is getting away with this right now because he’s claiming “Training”–thus covering 1-why he’s not getting work done and 2-why his reports aren’t getting things done. LW needs to do some ignoring of calls and documenting that when they say “do you need anything before I start on X?” Henry has nothing concrete to ask, hopefully this, if nothing else, gives them something to take to the manager!

    6. morethantired*

      I would think that since these calls bill to the client that the OP should be able to at least nudge Carl on this. My time is billable and if a meeting is unplanned or goes off-topic, it is normal to say “to clarify — will this time be billed to the client or are we now having a non-billable meeting?” or “I only have X hours with this client this month, so let’s keep this call to 15 minutes if possible.”

      It may even be worth saying to Carl “A lot of my client time has been devoted to our daily ad hoc meetings. How do you think we can reduce the time we spend in those?”

    7. Lacey*

      It’s hard when your manager or team lead is being chatty. I do think the OP could maybe get off the call by saying, “I’m so swamped, I’ve got to keep this short” which would be true, but some people are such steam rollers its hard to even get that in there.

      1. Esprit de l'escalier*

        This needs to be a two-part response: “Henry, I’m swamped, I’ve got to keep this short” immediately following by “Talk to you later”-hanging up. It’s okay that that’s a bit of a non sequitur. Henry isn’t listening to LW anyway.

    8. tw1968*

      This might not be possible if Henry initiates the video call but can you record it? Then you’d be able to give an excellent example of Henry wasting 30-60 minutes of your time. And if he’s billing someone for that time, that’s a major issue that you’d have proof of.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        Depends on your local (state, province?) law on consent to record. If you’re in a two-party consent jurisdiction, it would be illegal to record without telling Mr. Logorrhea.

    9. Hexiv*

      I am wondering if it’s possible to just decline video calls? I’ve never encountered this in a professional setting (I am disabled) but in a social setting, when I receive an unexpected video call, I decline and text back with a question. In my case that’s usually “I wasn’t sure if you hit the button on purpose” because I get a lot of butt-dialed video calls, but it seems like in OP’s case it could be “Hey, sorry, I had my hands full there, what were you calling to talk about?”

      Of course, this won’t help if Bob has a habit of giving a work pretext to segue into unrelated venting, but it sounds like he’s not even doing that right now. I know the LW is in training, but surely they can cite /something/ that they’re supposed to be doing rather than talking to Bob, if Bob can’t give a specific work reason he needs to talk. Even if it’s only going to the bathroom or cleaning up spilled coffee.

  2. learnedthehardway*

    OP#5 – Recruiters are asking so that they know how to manage your candidacy, and also how to manage their hiring managers’ expectations. If you are at or close to an offer, the recruiter may be able to tell you that they can move you ahead faster in their process (if the hiring manager is willing to make a rapid decision or doesn’t feel the need to see lots of candidates), or alternatively, they may tell you they can’t do that and that you should make your decision on the offers you have in hand (ie. without waiting on their process).

    I’ve done both these things. Sometimes I’ve used the information to light a fire under a hiring manager. Other times, I’ve told the candidate that we can’t meet their timeline but to come and talk to us if they turn down the offer they have in front of them.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      Given the description of these calls as “exploratory,” I would take the question as being is it worth the recruiter’s time for them to pursue this lead. If you are in the final stages of getting hired elsewhere, probably not.

    2. 1,001 Snails in a Lady Skin*

      +1 that as a hiring manager, whatever your answer is won’t make a decision in the hiring process. Saying you’re looking at multiple places typically won’t make us magically move faster, but we’re not going to move slower either.

  3. learnedthehardway*

    OP#3 – make your position requirements quite specific to what you are looking for. Eg. if you are looking for someone who has experience CREATING youth programs, list that, rather than just listing “experience with youth programs”. Be even more specific, if you’re looking for particular types of programs – eg. “Experience creating, developing and implementing mental health programs for youth at risk of suicide or self-harm.” That will weed out the internal applicants whose youth program experience is limited to putting together soccer teams, kwim?

    Also, being specific will give you a chance to interview internal candidates fairly – you can ask them about their experience doing X, whatever specific thing X is. Those who don’t have X will know they don’t have it and will be more likely to understand why you need someone with the skill set. You may also find out that an internal applicant does have X, and you just didn’t know about it. At that point, you can evaluate them against your external applicants and choose the best person for the role. You may decide that the internal person – despite having X – is not the right person, but it will be because of a good evaluation process, not because you were unaware of their X-related background. That will be easier to defend and for people to accept.

    1. Chilipepper Attitude*

      I second that but be careful not to weed out potential candidates (especially women and people of the global majority) by being too specific as they often do not apply if they do not have 100% of the requirements

      1. L-squared*

        Unfortunately I think she may have to risk that here. If she wants to go against all previous company protocol by not promoting someone from within because she wants very specific things, then she needs to list those specific things and stick to it. Because what she is doing is going to piss off a lot of people she works with, so in this case, it may be better to have that smaller applicant pool of people she knows will have what she wants, than to have a bigger more diverse pool. If she is going to be willing to tell everyone at her company that she won’t hire someone without X, Y, and Z, then she then shouldn’t try to make it more appealing to women and miniorities who DON’T have X, Y, and Z.

      2. Fish*

        I would also be careful not to make the job description so specific, that it sounds like it’s written around a particular individual.

        Sometimes that happens in government, when the manager wants that particular individual for the job and government HR rules would block or at the least delay hiring the person.

      3. MF*

        I think if the OP wants to weed out those candidates, then causing them not to apply is a good outcome. The key thing is that the requirements listed in the job description need to be *actual* written-in-stone requirements, not nice-to-haves.

      4. Momma Bear*

        While this is often true, I also don’t think job postings should be overly squishy when clarity is needed. It is not OP’s job to entice people to apply by omission. That is something that the applicants need to work on as well. I would rather have a role clearly defined than get there and find out that there’s a significant expectation I do not want or meet. If there are key things OP needs, OP should lay that out upfront. If there are things that are Nice To Haves, sure, leave those out or lower the years of service expected.

    2. Snow Globe*

      Thanks for mentioning that it is possible an internal candidate might have the requisite experience that the LW doesn’t know about. I get why the LW doesn’t want people to think that the job will definitely go to an internal candidate, but don’t automatically discount all of them. You never know whether someone from another team might have prior experience doing something very similar to what you’re looking for.

      1. ferrina*

        Exactly. Being super explicit with what you need is 1) going to make it easier for you to weed out candidates that don’t have that experience and 2) make it easier for candidates that do have that experience to mention it. My career has been quite eclectic, and unless you say what you’re looking for I don’t know what to highlight. fwiw, every internal interview I’ve had, the interviewer has been surprised by my experience.

    3. ursula*

      I wonder if it’s worth saying something about this to the other team leads. If one of them is hyping up their people to apply every time it comes up, it might be a kindness to mention to them that you really need XYZ and there’s a good chance you’re going to need to go with an external hire. It’s not really helpful for them to be sending misleading messages to their team.

      1. Random Academic Cog*

        In this type of environment, it’s also difficult to manage underperformers out. Part of the reason various supervisors are hyping their own folks may be that they want to move out someone who’s a poor fit in the hopes they could then recruit their own great (potentially external) candidate.

      2. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

        I would focus on managing expectations by saying things like: “great to hear your enthusiasm about Bob, that speaks well of him. And does Bob have direct experience designing youth programmes? That’s going to be a key job requirement. I look forward to seeing his application and hearing more about his experience.”

        That’s as opposed to focusing on the likelihood of hiring an external candidate. I don’t think you’d want to make it sound like you’ve already decided this. That could create legal issues (e.g. if Bob is part of a protected class and you can be seen to have decided against him in afvance) as well as general internal hostility.

    4. Smithy*

      While all of that is good, I just want to say that provided the OP’s director already agrees with supporting the OP – then using descriptors to get good external candidates is more important.

      Because my feeling of internal candidates applying for reach jobs and being disappointed at rejection is that it’s not necessarily a bad thing. In many ways, being in a job environment where there’s a system for you to practice interviewing regularly and get feedback is actually a good part of professional development. And the OP and their leadership taking the time to actually think through the concrete reasons why the junior staff aren’t qualified and then giving that feedback, is far more beneficial than writing a confusing job posting that will do more to shrink the external job pool.

      If you really need people with experience creating and leading youth programs for those at risk of suicide or self-harm – then that will inevitably shrink the job pool. Whereas, if experience in creating and leading youth programs for at-risk populations will suffice…. it feels like there’s greater risk to having a tiny external applicant pool when you still may have to deal with unhappy internal candidates anyways.

      1. Kelly*

        Great point about internal candidates applying for reach jobs and being disappointed when they aren’t interviewed or selected for the position. One coworker applied for an internal position that would have been a reach even if it had been posted internally before being made available to external hires. He was encouraged to apply for this position by our direct supervisor and her supervisor, which was interesting because our direct supervisor should have had enough awareness of his work to know that he wasn’t qualified for this role. Most people with enough self awareness after getting a performance review that put as areas of improvement the parts of the job that were directly related to this job posting would know that the encouragement is not sincere in promoting their professional development.

        He met the bare minimum of the required qualifications, but none of the preferred ones, which is what my workplace uses to decide who gets phone interviews. For this reason in a very strong applicant pool, he didn’t even get a phone interview. Instead of taking this result as motivation to improve, do better in his current role, and work on how he could make the next application better, he’s now angry and resentful at our supervisor, the hiring committee and likely the person who gets this role. He seriously thought that his decade plus of doing the bare minimum in an entry level role would get him the edge over people who seemed to be more proactive, enthusiastic and willing to create change, albeit with less time in their roles. He’s trying to play the age discrimination card as well, which is complete BS.

        He was contributing to a toxic work environment before and it’s only getting worse. It’s bad enough that I’m looking to get out and willing to look at positions that may not have the schedule I have now.

      2. Flax Dancer*

        EVERYONE who’s rejected for a they really wanted will be disappointed – there’s no getting around that! But something is seriously wrong with an internal promotion policy that results in an individual who doesn’t even like kids being promoted up the “chain of command” in an organization that works with the very kids that said promotee dislikes. Imagine yourself in the position of those kids: vulnerable, troubled and in desperate need of help from an adult who cares about you. Would YOU want to be “helped” by someone who disliked you? (And no, people CANNOT hide their dislike for others nearly as well as they think they can!)

        This is extremely troubling, and is all the more reason for the LW to look outside their agency for job applicants who DO like the people that that agency is supposed to be serving!

    5. Totally Minnie*

      There’s something else I wanted to bring up about this letter.

      For my first full time job, I was hired as an external candidate when there were several internal candidates in the running. Most of the staff were pulling for one specific internal candidate to be hired, but my past part time jobs provided me with experience that person didn’t have and I was selected for the position. From my first day in the job, people were really cold and standoffish and I couldn’t make friends or find my place in the social hierarchy. I didn’t know for almost a year that it was because the perception was that I “stole MaryAnn’s job.”

      If you’re going to hire externally in a company that usually promotes from within, you need to do two things. First, tell your selected candidate what the situation is so they’ll be aware of any potential hard feelings, and second, keep an eye on your new hire’s interactions with existing staff. If it looks like staff are freezing out the new person or behaving resentfully in any way, you have to squash that.

      1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

        I was hired to manage a team of two where one of them had applied and been rejected for the job. To be fair, my boss did tell me that when making the offer but I was naive. It was a total disaster and I wouldn’t ever want to be in that position again.

      2. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

        I’m not sure about telling the new hire the situation! Wouldn’t that make them feel… kind of weird?

        I’m wondering if it would be better to focus on managing any nonsense from colleagues, and leave the new hire to assume people will behave like normal professionals.

        Colleagues treating a new hire coldly because they “stole” (!) someone else’s job is absolutely appalling and if that’s at all likely it speaks to a much wider cultural issue in the organisation which needs sorting out.

    6. Tangerina Warbleworth*

      Totally Minnie describes this perfectly. I would add that once you hire a person, and if that person is an external hire, you as the manager need to be vigilant of her coworkers, and, as Minnie says, squelch that as soon as you see it. If you have to involve HR, do it. You would not believe how invested some people will get into “but she STOLE Yolanda’s JOB!!1!!11”, even two, five, seven years down the line. It might not happen, but be prepared for the worst.

  4. Capt. Liam Shaw*

    1. Don’t interview folks who you know you’re not going to hire.
    2. Expect some folks to leave over this. The staff has seen a place that promoted from within shift to a place that just uses people in their role with no upward mobility. Be graceful when they leave. Sounds like if they don’t move up with this job they really won’t move up with your organization. That never goes well with staff.

    1. Happy meal with extra happy*

      Wherever did you pull most of your conclusions from Part 2 from? There is one role where there doesn’t appear to be qualified internal candidates (and from what OP has written, the qualifications that they’re looking for are reasonable). Nothing from the question logically extrapolates to the organization now having zero internal growth opportunities. Just because people may see this role as a chance to move up, it doesn’t mean it’s the only role where they can move up.

  5. JG*

    OP #2 – if your video call system has history tracking enabled (or if your IT team can access it) it could be very enlightening/amusing to share some stats with your manager…. even just keeping a written log for a day or two could be very revealing if your system does not track the call history.

    1. Myrin*

      I was thinking that – hard, quantifiable facts are generally worth more than more vague expressions like “a long time” or “often”.

    2. Anon for This*

      This. If you have shared calendars I recommend you start logging this: 10:00 – 10:45. Received call from X. Not chargeable to clients. (If there actually is training in your schedule be sure to label it as such so the difference is clear.)

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      I agree with this. Back when I had to track hours very specifically, I used my calendar as a log, too.

      I would also ignore the calls & reply with a text asking what’s needed. Do you have team meetings? Phone etiquette (messaging first or scheduling calls ahead of time) seems like a good agenda item.

    4. ferrina*

      Absolutely. This is something tangible you can point to- “I spent X hours this week talking to Henry on non-project things. Going forward, how should I handle this?”

      Definitely ask your manager for guidance. That way if Henry gets huffy when you decline his chats, your manager is already prepared for it.

      1. Jerusha*

        I would actually modify that phrasing slightly. Instead of “I spent X hours talking to Henry”, could you say “Henry called and spent X hours talking to me”? That makes it clear who initiated and directed the conversation. If you just say “I spent X hours”, I could see the response being “Well, don’t spend your time like that. Instead spend it on Y and Z”, where the whole problem is that you’d love to spend your time on Y and Z rather than on Henry, but Henry keeps butting in and you need help butting him back out.

        1. Petty Betty*

          Instead of “talking to me”, could it be rephrased to “talking AT me”? Because I’m not sure that a venting session (as the OP characterized it) means that OP is actually getting much talk of her own back in, so she really is just being talked at and expected to be a human sounding board for whatever Henry wants to purge from his soul at that moment, and she seemingly cannot get a word in edgewise.

          I do agree with others that if this is a video chat, turning off the camera is a good idea. Or, be blatant about it and just continue working while he blathers on and don’t even pretend to pay attention to him. Let him prattle while he becomes background noise to your actual work.

  6. lovecraftindc*

    LW3: In addition to what’s been said, maybe give those people an actual chance if they do have the experience? You don’t necessarily know what experience they have outside of the workplace, or from a past job. You can use your knowledge of an existing employee’s skills to bolster them or frame your decision, but you should be as open to new information about current employees as you would be to information about external employees.

    1. lovecraftindc*

      In addition, you need to talk to the manager who is setting those expectations. That’s unfair to their team.

    2. Jackalope*

      I had this thought too. You may genuinely know that none of the internal candidates have the needed experience, but it’s possible that there are things in their background that you are missing. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll hire them, but it’s good to think about.

      1. AlsoADHD*

        Yeah, I mean, I guess it’s possible that none of these folks have the required skills and experience, but I had a hard time understanding how LW3 knows none of them like or have experience in areas that work with children EVER. I’m maybe not understanding what LW would put in the job ad but it sounded like the qualifying criteria they didn’t think people had was one that would be hard to know, from the limited information we have and a lot of this issue is more a reaction to how things have been hired before and the bad fit of the current worker and pressure to got from within if they’d fit (or even like) the job or not? But it’s possible LW know for sure they wouldn’t work out, I’m just not clear what job requirements LW 100% knows they don’t have orc if that’s more a general “not a good fit” feeling, the latter of which it’s harder to address and maybe requires some actual consideration whereas the former means not to interview them at all ideally.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          I think it depends on what they mean by “experience of working with children.” If they are OK with things like babysitting or a teenage summer job in a summer camp or something, then yeah, I’d agree it’s unlikely they would know but if they want somebody with a qualification and experience in a role like teacher or social worker or daycare worker or child psychologist, it is very unlikely that anybody working in say an admin role would have that kind of experience. They are just two very different career paths.

          I sort of assumed that by “experience working with children,” they meant they wanted somebody who was a qualifed teacher or early childhood educator or social worker or childcare worker or somebody in a related field and who had significant experience in that role and they didn’t want to specify too finely because they are roles they might not think of like paediatrician or child speech therapist, but that they were assuming most people in the types of role available in their company either weren’t such professionals or had some good reason for choosing a role outside that profession. I would be quite surprised if I were working in a company that did not hire people with specific qualifications in those areas and I was looking for somebody with such experience and it turned out that somebody in the company had actually spent 5 years as a teacher or a social worker. It would just be rather a coincidence.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Let’s assume the OP knows the situation better than we do (per commenting rule #6). It’s fine to suggest that she make sure she’s open-minded about candidates, but that’s been done and I don’t want it to take over the page since it’s not useful for the OP to come to a comment section full of, “But are you really sure about the facts in your letter? I think you are wrong even though you are far better positioned to know than we are.”

      2. ferrina*

        Yep. I had really robust experience in Industry A before I switched over to Industry L (a completely different, non-related sector). In Industry L, I worked in a really weird role for several years before going to a more conventional role.
        When I applied to my current company, I focused on the more conventional experience I had. Then they had a role open up where all of my unconventional experience and Industry A experience suddenly became very, very useful. The hiring manager had no idea how much experience I actually had until the interview.

    3. bamcheeks*

      It’s also worth thinking about if you know there are other reasons not to hire them. You don’t want to hang your whole process on “must have experience with children” only for Jane to suddenly tell you that she was actually an elementary school teacher for three years, when you really don’t want to hire Jane because you know how disorganised she is. Make sure you’ve clearly spelled out ALL the things you need!

      1. DataSci*

        Necessary is not sufficient. Requiring experience working with kids doesn’t mean they’ll hire anyone who has, and soft skills like organization are rarely spelled out in job descriptions.

        1. bamcheeks*

          Really? They certainly are in ours! And if you think there’s a chance it’s going to be a contentious hiring, the clearer the criteria are the better.

        2. Grith*

          Normally I would agree. But we need to take LW at her word – culture at her company is that internal candidates with the required skills are usually offered the job, and it would be a visible and disruptive deviation from the norm if someone ticked every box but then wasn’t promoted and the search then went external regardless.

          The way around the problem as presented is an airtight job description, both in terms of hard and soft skills. They need an undeniable point-at-the-piece-of-paper reason to turn down every internal candidate, and the best way to do that is with a really precise job description and requirements.

      2. Smithy*

        Yeah, I think of these types of mandatory internal interviews as actually being part of decent internal professional development – and it’s to the organization’s benefit to actually give genuine feedback why each applicant isn’t qualified.

        Lots of people I know who languish in a job they are angry/frustrated in, do so because their resume/cover letter isn’t ready to submit anywhere, and they haven’t interviewed in a while. A system with regular opportunities for internal applications, means someone can be regularly updating their resume and practicing interviewing. And when done well, can get feedback on what they’re doing well and what needs improvement.

        Telling someone that their resume/interview makes them seem really strong at database management but weaker when it comes to creating and leading youth programming may feel like a waste of time to the OP for filling this position. But for the applicant, can be genuinely helpful. Either to double down on moving forward around database management of youth programs or learning what they need to change if that’s not what they want.

        1. Lenora Rose*

          I work for a place that tends strongly to internal hires for as many roles as possible, leaving most external hires in obvious starter / low end roles… and yet I don’t think there’s been any of this kind of resentment over the roles, even upper end, that did end up having to be posted externally.

          I mean, I can see it happening, because we’ve had some bonkers letters and at least one sober warning about a person “frozen out” in a similar position on this very one, but… it’s ONE role. Once. It’s not a sea change, it’s a single time, and if it wasn’t this one now, it would happen later with another role. Why are people so?

    4. JSPA*

      Adding, even if you’ve seen their past resumés and chatted with them informally, remember that resumés are tailored to the job, and that many people keep a lot of outside stuff private.

      Someone can very well not mention that they coach two sports teams and run an after-school scifi club, when applying for a bookkeeping job, or working facilities maintenance.

      That said, you may also need them to demonstrate pre-existing familiarity and commitment to current best practices; or philosophical alignment with your organization’s approach towards mentorship / leadership; or certain sorts of background check and certification. Those are all things to list.

    5. ecnaseener*

      Yes, I think even if LW ends up being correct that none of the internal applicants are qualified, it’s important for them to keep an open mind about that during the interviews. If they’re seeing these as courtesy interviews with zero chance of a hire, that will come through and it’s not fair.

      Maybe do 15-minute screening interviews with the internal applicants to ask about this main qualification.

    6. Observer*

      In addition to what’s been said, maybe give those people an actual chance if they do have the experienc

      I was thinking that too. Especially since the OP also says that it’s not just about skills and experience, but about “enjoying working with kids.” I get that this is a really important issue, and the OP should certainly dig on that, but how can they know in advance how anyone feels about this unless they have declared their dislike of kids? The only way the OP can tell is by asking some pointed questions. Not just “Do you enjoy working with kids” but more behavioral stuff that will help you get a sense of their attitudes.

  7. Carl*

    #4 – a professional colleague handled a similar situation recently, and I thought she did so with grace. In this instance, it was a firm that split up, and colleague for a period of time continued doing her HR role for both firms. Then at some point, she cited that it just wasn’t workable to do both roles, felt like she was over-stretched, and needed to reduce to one. (Which, if so happens, was the newer.)
    The key was being very complementary to everyone, not saying anything bad about firm #1, bc if they work together, they will value that relationship too and won’t want any burned bridges. When people are in the same small circle, it’s interesting the steps everyone will sometimes take to live the same lie. “Jane was just so busy and she so amazing but it was just too much for one person even her, so it just made sense.” “Bob was very passionate about llama brushing and of course our focus is llama hair curling, so he had a much better opportunity at X. It was on mutually good terms and we wish him the best.” “Xander needed to reduce his commute so he decided to move to Y. We miss him but understand.”

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I’d go with a very similar approach as well. But I’d add as step one making sure that Job 2 can pull you on for as many hours as you need without it being a problem first.

      Then wax poetically as possible about how much you have loved your time at Job 1, but you are just stretched so thin and the moment and don’t feel Job 1 is really getting their needs met so for the good of that project you’re going to transition out so they can find an employee who can devote the energy and attention to the project it deserves. Maybe even be willing to answer a few more questions than you normally would, since they are related jobs in the interest of harmony*.

      *This isn’t something I would normally do – but the goal here is gracefully keeping the peace between the former and current job while getting down to just one job, since it’s a small group per OP.

      1. LW #4*

        Job 2 has already made it clear they’re happy to give me more hours, and I currently have less-urgent tasks piling up that I would be able to tackle if I was there for more hours per week. I honestly probably would have quit Job 1 sooner, but I wanted to wait and see if it felt like Job 2 would have steady work for me, or if there was just a lot to do at the start that would later taper off!

        I have also considered offering to do a small amount of work for Job 1 until they get a new person up to speed, and I do think that would soften the blow.

    2. JSPA*

      As a contractor worth variable / limited hours, do they even need to quit outright? Seems to me they could be increasingly unavailable, until it makes sense to both parties, to detach.

      Though what LW sees as a plus (inside info, from companies that are sometimes competitors) can be really problematic. That’s creating a risk of being accused of stealing proprietary information (or of, well, actually doing so).

      Which in my mind also creates the question whether the letter writer will be as valuable to company # 2 if they are no longer a pair of eyes at. Company #1.

      I’d suggest that they sound out company #2, about their intentions to pull back “considerably” from #1, to better focus on the work at #2. If #2 seems awkward about that, maybe try going down to 1 day a week (or less) with #1, and be scrupulous to keep your eyes off of anything proprietary that would not otherwise be disclosed to #2.

      With intellectual property theft, as with insider trading, you don’t need to know that what you’re doing is even slightly iffy, for it to be highly, “large fines and jail time” illegal.

      1. *kalypso*

        This is more complicated because Job #1 and Job #2 have partner arrangements sometimes – so the information moving between them via LW may be proprietary but a wanted and allowed contact, whereas if LW wasn’t that bridge, they’d have to build one. Both jobs are clearly okay with the current arrangement, it’s just that they’re both okay with it because they’re getting at least part of their partner needs managed by the one person being in the same role at both, so nobody has to share information specifically – the person who needs it magically just has it, and if there is any conflict then it’s being massively outweighed.

      2. LW #4*

        The info I provide from Job 1 to Job 2 is nothing too proprietary. Essentially if I was not at Job 1, the procedure would be to email whoever was doing my job and wait for them to provide the info. My ability to hop between Job 1 and Job 2’s environments and know where everything is just makes this more efficient, because I know exactly what Job 2 is asking for and why they need it, and exactly where Job 1 stores it (if it’s not already on my computer).

        But yes, one reason why I want to leave in the nicest way possible is so that there’s no hard feelings that could lead to scrutiny as to whether I did violate my confidentiality agreement on the way out, y’know?

    3. Venus*

      I think OP has a huge advantage in this situation because firm 1 suggested firm 2. I almost wonder if firm 1 knew that this was a likely possibility and they thought highly enough of OP’s work to encourage them toward a more reliable job with better benefits.

      It is important to say wonderful things about firm 1 at the end, in large part because they supported OP working in both places, and explain that it’s all about needing reliable hours. As JSPA suggests, if it’s also possible to do a bit of work for firm 1 when they really need extra help then that might be something to consider, but it might also be hard to continue working for two competitors.

      1. spiriferida*

        In this case the LW did say that while they’re competitors, they also occasionally work together on projects – which is something they could also leverage to keep the relationship amicable. “While I’m moving on from my role as [x with Job 1], I look forward to continuing to work with you on [Project Y/Hypothetical Future Projects.]”

    4. LW #4*

      Thank you for sharing how your colleague handled it, I feel like that’s a really good model for how I want to handle it too! And being “stretched thin” is often how I feel somedays. Even though I’m not working too many hours, having Job 1’s unfinished tasks in the back of my mind while at Job 2, and vice versa, can be really wearing some days!

  8. Extra anony*

    OP3: I would have a “Minimum Required Qualifications” section of the job description. If an internal candidate meets those then I think you should give them a chance. I would also de-emphasize the enjoyment of the work aspect of the job qualifications and get more specific about the technical skills or experience needed. It’s a lot harder to judge how much someone is truly passionate about work with youth, than it is to look at years of experience and justify your decision that way. It sounds like you’re affected by the current employee, who oddly doesn’t like kids when in a youth-facing role, but I think that’s unusual.

    1. WS*

      Yes, a lot of people can convince themselves they will “enjoy” a particular position, so being very specific about what skills and qualifications are needed is a good way to weed out people more interested in a promotion than the actual work.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’d also suggest you retitle the position when you rewrite the description. off the top of my head, if it was assistant, bump it to coordinator or administrator. I know this can be tricky especially when there are pay bands–but by your description the expanded role you’re envisioning is already at a higher level. You may get more skilled applicants you want with increased title and/or pay.

      1. Snow Globe*

        That’s a good idea! It’s one way of communicating to people that you are looking for someone with a different background than the person who currently holds the position.

      2. umami*

        Seconding this. It won’t always make a difference, but it can’t hurt! I did this when reorganizing after losing some staff to promotions elsewhere in our organization. It helped a lot with a lot of folks, although there are still a few of those who say ‘when X was here she took care of Y and Z’ to which I have to remind them that this is not the same position X had, we redesigned the position for current needs.

    3. NotAManager*

      Based on the language LW 3 used, I’m going to tentatively assume that this is a library-related job and, unfortunately, I have seen a lot of people go in for Youth Services positions who do not have a knack for working with kids (or indeed, appear to actively dislike children) just for the chance to have full-time work or get a pay increase from a previous position.

      I would emphasize the importance of being comfortable and enthusiastic about working with children being an essential part of the job. One way of ensuring this in the job description without potentially alienating candidates who might not have a lot of work in the field (to keep the hiring process as equitable as possible) is to include among their preferred skills, in the job description, a history of working successfully with kids. Doesn’t need to be in the current field OP is working in, working at a summer camp or YMCA or after school program could be applicable.

      1. Totally Minnie*

        Yeah, I’m former library, and there are a lot of people who see youth services jobs as an easy stepping stone to the job they actually want. One thing I always did in hiring was a skills test. Something like “choose a picture book out of this stack I pre-selected and read it to me as if you’re reading to a room of kids” or “if you were planning an art program based on X theme, what kinds of projects would you select for the kids to do?” Those kinds of questions and tasks are great at showing which candidates have spent time around kids and which just vaguely think they might like it.

      2. Sleepy Snoopy*

        Yep, I’m getting library vibes from this as well. I think Totally Minnie’s advice is solid, but LW will have to make sure to do that with ALL candidates, not just the internal hires.

        I’m wondering if this is about the degree and LW is assuming none of the internal hires have their MLS, and therefore are not qualified.

      3. Flying squirrel*

        Also assuming library, as a corporate librarian who stayed far away from working with kids! I love children’s libraries, got into the field because of my love for the library as a child, but also realize that I work better with adult professionals.

        I would say that it needs to be a required experience, depending on the hiring procedures, or OP might be pressured to find an internal candidate qualified as it’s just a preferred skill. And they should probably specify leading activities with kids, because I was quite successful at being a day camp assistant at my old museum job but when someone got sick and I had to run one it was a shitshow. :) But yes, it would be equitable to not insist that the person had already been a library assistant in a children’s room.

        It’s also really easy to overestimate skill in working with kids. I was all like “I’m now an expert in kids books!” because I have a toddler who loves books. But my knowledge of children’s literacy development stops at 2 years, and is specific to one child. Being a parent or babysitter isn’t always sufficient experience.

  9. Allonge*

    LW1 – would you have someone (maybe newer in the org who did not work with your predecessor or very little) who could be your ally in this?

    I agree that three years in the whole thing may just be too weird for everyone, but if there is someone who saw this last year and could mention it to your boss that it was a bit strange that the recognition event was all about someone who retired some time ago and not the recent achievements, that could help.

    I am not saying that you would not have to speak up to your boss, to be clear. And I really don’t think you are petty! This would be very annoying to a lot of people, myself included.

    1. Chauncy Gardener*

      This is such a strange situation! I would be weirded out as well. I’m a little at a loss as to why the manager would keep allowing it
      OP, this is not you being petty!

      1. Maggie*

        Thanks guys – this was my question. I respect her and the fact that she built this position from nothing but it’s getting increasingly awkward every year. I will take everyone’s comments into consideration including those from Allison – thanks very much for publishing it. I welcome other suggestions.

        1. BetsCounts*

          Reading the letter, I was getting vibes of ‘Leslie Knope productivity, Tom Haverford self-aggrandizement’
          Allison’s suggestion of modifying the event to make it more difficult for her to take over the speaking is a good one. One question- are you sure you **have** to invite her? Could you (or whoever is in charge of staff events) arrange a ‘reunion/homecoming’ potluck or something a few weeks before the celebratory dinner, including her and other separated members of the department ? This would give other staff the opportunity to interact with Jane/Leslie/Tom separately from the celebratory dinner, and would make it easier to limit the attendance at the dinner to current employees. Also no one is saying the reunion/homecoming needs to be an annual event- I think if you are able to break the cycle of her attending the celebratory dinner it would be weird to invite her again.

      2. Qwerty*

        If it is like the celebration dinners I have been to, most people aren’t really focused on the reason behind the dinner. They go “yay, free food!” and have a good time. Then it is “yay, Jane is here! Haven’t seen her in a year” and turns into reminiscing.

        Seconding the suggestion for an ally or two who can help direct the conversation back to the OP because I’m guessing this is mostly related to cluelessness + one person’s outgoing personality.

  10. Brain the Brian*

    LW4: Job 1 may actually be relieved if you leave to work full-time at Job 2! They introduced you to a job that they presumably knew could be a good career move for you at the same time they needed to cut your hours. Perhaps it’s a budget strain for Job 1 even to keep you at half-time — you can’t be sure — and I’m sure they would rather you leave to go to a partner than a competitor. Take that full-time position and run with it!

    1. Magpie*

      If Job 1 truly didn’t want to continue employing her, they would just stop employing her. She’s a contractor so it would be very easy for them to end her employment if it was a budget strain or they no longer needed her services at all.

      1. MsM*

        Eh, I’ve worked places that kept contractors on longer than necessary because they felt guilty about letting them go. It was never a good idea – the contractor either kept stretching things out because they didn’t want to lose the gig, or felt equally guilty about leaving – but it happens.

    2. LW #4*

      Job 1 does still need me, and they specifically spun it as “We need to cut your hours but we’d still like to keep you because we need someone to do XYZ, and look, Job 2 also needs someone with your skills, so they can make up for your lost hours.”

      A big problem for me is that some weeks, it feels like Job 1 still wants me to get the same amount of work done I did before, but in half as many hours, and then other weeks, there’s almost nothing to do, and this sort of feast-and-famine scheduling is harder to handle when I have a second job so I can’t be as flexible!

      1. Brain the Brian*

        Thanks for responding! Do you know anyone with a similar skillset whom you could recommend to your managers at Job 1 as a replacement for yourself? I’m sure they would gladly take your recommendation if they liked you so much that they recommended you get a job with a partner organization!

  11. Pam Troglodytes*

    LW2- I really feel for you! This is really demoralising. Unfortunately, it’s quite likely that this is not the only thing he is misrepresenting. I have a Henry as team lead too. Some techniques we use are: i. rotate who chairs meetings and sets agendas so disruptive manager only has control every few weeks; ii. Develop strong relationships with the managers above boss so there is direct communication with them rather than relying on boss; iii. Politely bring meetings back to the point at hand- smile and be friendly when doing this, saying things like ‘Woah, that sounds rough! I have to do X in 10 minutes so could we talk about y?’.

    Also, on the budget thing, next time he calls/derails, could you directly raise the fact that you’re concerned that lots of meetings are blowing the budget, and suggest minimising them? Again, be friendly when you say this.

    1. coffee*

      Since Henry is aware of the budget problem and has opted out of responsibility, it does give OP a clear opening for bringing the meetings back on point.
      “As we all know, we’ve got a really tight budget for this project, so let’s make sure we really press on through the agenda today.” and then as the meeting goes on: “I’m quite conscious of our tight budget, so let’s get back to talking about X.”

      1. Random Dice*

        People like this never leave an opening for others, so they would need to literally talk over him. That’s uncomfortable to do to a manager.

  12. The Prettiest Curse*

    #1 – Part of this bad event planning, and I would feel mortified if an unscheduled speaker took over one of my events like this, never mind two! If you help in planning the event or know who does, ask them to make sure the focus is on the current work of your team. Given the contacts your predecessor has in your department, I’m assuming it’s not possible to just “forget” or “lose” their invite to the event, or to hold it when they’re out of town. (Though not being invited – even “accidentally” – might make them show up and behave even worse.)

    Additionally, if there’s anything you can do to make sure that your predecessor is on the list of people who are absolutely allowed to get hold of the mic, that will be helpful. If possible, the event should be emceed by a professional or someone who has a strong personality and is good at keeping things on track and handling interruptions. Finally, as Alison said, this issue will likely dissipate with time – it’s going to seem really strange if this person is still showing up 5 years from now.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        You’re welcome, and that should of course have said “absolutely NOT allowed to get hold of the mic”!

  13. Ferret*

    I might be misreading #1 but I didn’t take the LW to be describing the kind of event that Alison is discussing including an agenda, presentation, slides etc. I assumed it was just the equivalent of some kind of team dinner or drinks and that Jane is dominating the conversation/event by enthusiastically and loudly reminiscing about how great she was, in which case it feels like Alison’s advice might be overkill?

    1. Maggie*

      Hi, this was my comment. Thank you for your comments. Yes this is usually a pizza dinner but we only do it once a year and there are usually a couple of impromptu speeches by the supervisors and management, but no slides, agenda or official event. It is though, my main opportunity to get yearly recognition for my contribution to the team.

      1. Ferret*

        I very much get the frustration, I think you can still approach your manager ahead of the event but just in a more casual way. Maybe you could ask if a particular team achievement that you contributed to could be highlighted, which might make you more comfortable raising it/ look less selfish – to be clear you are perfectly entitled to want the recognition and resent having the spotlight hogged by your predecessor but it might help make it easier to raise?

      2. Optimus Prime*

        I suggest that you focus less on what Jane does and think about ways to put yourself forward during the event. Can you make an impromptu speech about all the people you support or all the people who support you? That would be a nice thing to do, and it also gets you a speaking role in front of management. Or speak after she does (or after someone speaking about her) and talk about how happy you are to have taken on this role and how much you have learned taking the paper-based system online. Again, it puts in a speaking role in front of management.

  14. Planner*

    Letter 1
    I am a city planner and wanted to throw in that celebrating the number of applications processed seems like an odd thing to me. That seems like you are highlighting meeting the bare minimum of the job of the department rather than the unique challenges faced or changes made. I have never experienced or heard of an end of year celebration like this. I think dinner or lunch paid for by my boss is the closest thing we have had and we aren’t talking about work, it is just social with a brief 30 second acknowledgment by the boss that we worked hard and did a good job.

    As far as how to potentially improve things without ruffling anyone’s feathers too much, I would be wary of proposing a list of accomplishments that are all you since the planners probably have accomplishments too. My current admin is great and does a lot to keep things on track, but she isn’t the one having to navigate a neighborhood being opposed to a project that the city is legally obligated to approve or negotiating with a difficult developer or writing a long needed code amendment. So while if I were planning this event for my department my admin would certainly have accomplishments included, it would just be a piece. Could there be a way to solicit accomplishments from the whole team?

    1. Hannah Lee*

      Thanks for offering your perspective, that makes a lot of sense. Thinking about how you’ve seen appreciation events handled in that field, I wonder if there’s an opportunity for LW to advise changing up how they do this every year.

      For example, maybe celebrate the accomplishments by updating a page on the city/department’s website, which could focus just on more recent things, and then have a department luncheon which could be social and still include the retiree, but no presentations he could hijack.

      It depends on the culture, as some communities, government groups really value those annual events as an opportunity to schmooze, see and be seen, have the mayor or department head make a speech. But even if that’s the case, maybe LW can lean into THAT and encourage revamping the event to maximize that stuff, still have a focused “we did good, didn’t we?” bit, perhaps presented by a senior person in a way retiree can’t hijack, but then move on to things that integrate others, make it more dynamic in a way no one person can pull focus. There’s a good chance more than a few regular attendees will be appreciative of a change in format.

    2. WellRed*

      I thought the same whole thing was odd, too and don’t understand the point. And why do they keep bringing back the previous person? Time for everyone to move forward.

      1. Flying squirrel*

        It sounds to me like the party is not really for the position, it’s for the former team member who held it. I understand that it would be sad to see someone else getting a party thrown for them just doing the job that you do every day, but sometimes these things just happen when strong personalities are involved.

        I would probably try to bask in any reflected glory and then just understand that these things happen when former team member finally moves on with her life and the parties stop.

        1. Planner*

          Another option if people like seeing the former employee is to have a non department sponsored lunch like just an email to everyone who might be interested saying Jane is coming to the area for lunch if anyone wants to join. I think that is totally common for retirees. And then don’t invite her to the end of year thing. LW could potentially pose it as a question to the boss of do you want me to invite Jane this year or should I coordinate a separate get together for lunch or happy hour?

        2. Maggie*

          Hi, this was my comment. The event is not for the previous clerk, it’s to celebrate the planners and their hard work but she becomes a big part of the event as she is invited and has taken credit for putting them all on track – they graciously let her. The reports submitted to City Hall were always late and she did put them on a schedule.

          1. Rick Tq*

            I’m a bit lost, if this person retired 2 years ago why are she still invited to a work-centric event? Attending after her last year of work made a bit of sense, but she’s will be gone 3 years for the next one, so any ongoing success should be fully credited to the team who keep the ball rolling, not her.

      2. Sparkles McFadden*

        This sounds like an odd celebration to me too, so I am guessing that the former person who “created the role from scratch” also said “We should have a party to celebrate how well this turned out” or someone else who was appreciative of the role creation did so. Everyone liked it the first year, so it became A Regular Thing.

    3. Previous City Planner*

      I was struck by this too, Planner. At one point in my government career, I had to fight against nonsense statistics like “number of variance applications processed” when doing headcount budgeting. Trying to explain that “number of variance applications avoided” would be a better statistic fell on deaf ears.

      For non-planners out there, it’s a fine art to dissuade a constituent from filing a variance that will almost certainly be denied….it’s a far better outcome to take the time on the front end to work with the constituent on a plan that won’t require a variance. But “variances avoided” wasn’t a deemed a legit measurement for budgeting)

      1. Planner*

        That is 100% true! Also applications take wildly different amounts of time. We don’t charge per hour, so I don’t track my time but you can have two applicants for the exact same thing and one takes no time and the other calls with questions every other day for a month.

    4. Maggie*

      Hi, this was my letter. The event is to celebrate the planners not myself. For many years planner reports did not make it in time for publication for public meetings and the person in my position got them all on track. It’s just something they’ve chosen to celebrate every year – “12 yrs of on this me reports”. Her role in it is just a small part of the meeting, but a part where I get some brief acknowledgment for my contribution. This is definitely not about me, I’m just bringing up that portion that I feel invalidates my small contribution. Hope that helps to clarify things.

      1. Planner*

        Gotcha, that makes more sense! Still out of the norm I have experienced but is probably a nice gesture to make people feel appreciated.

        I do think after 12 years you can maybe stop celebrating that you get your reports done on time now! When that was new, sure, but after a couple years I think that is overkill. That shouldn’t really be an accomplishment but it sounds like you have accomplishments in process improvement to share – which totally should be celebrated.

        1. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

          I think that’s what LW is trying to do – move the focus to the latest achievements, not the old ones.

  15. Bored Lawyer*

    For #1, I’d be so tempted to be passive aggressive and petty about this. When they go to schedule it next year, say something like “That’s Jane’s thing, schedule it with her. I don’t know that you need me for it.”

    1. JSPA*

      I see no utility in undercutting / defeating yourself–why???

      Just so you can feel that nobody else did it to you???

      Look, it’s human nature that we give extra praise to people who visibly make incredible efforts. As a result people who automate things, thus negating the need for incredible efforts, tend to be under-praised.

      (It also happens that there are some people who enjoy inefficiency, if it lets them break for a coffee and a chat, every time someone has to go get a paper file.)

      Once the LW gets their head around that, and stops undercutting their own sense of self worth, they can absolutely have a “that was great then, this is great now” prepared.

      They’re so grateful to their Predecessor for having done a super human job, “back when updates required digging through physical files, and took 3 times longer” or “back when we only served 700 clients a year, and could just barely keep up with the paperwork.”

      And then you segue into the current numbers, and the additional value offered to your clientele (turn around time! extra time for individualized support! Cost savings that have allowed you to continue X, even in the context of Y!).

      Seriously there is no reason to go negative, especially when the letter writer has not yet tried any positive intervention.

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I got the impression the people inviting her don’t know she’s retired… and she hasn’t corrected that impression as she seems to like going to this event and being recognised!

      I would just turn down the invite next time.

    3. pope suburban*

      I mean I would genuinely like not to go, but then again I cannot stand this kind of thing in general. I’d actually prefer to do my own lunch thing/have dinner not with my coworkers, so this was my first thought too. But I recognize that I skew farther to one side of the work-life balance preference than many, and that one would have to be very careful about this to avoid the appearance of it being a passive-aggressive move rather than a “Hey! What a great best-fit solution!” I’m also wondering, being a long-time government employee myself, if this isn’t a symptom of some wider dysfunction in the agency/department, so maybe it does bear working on in furtherance of broader improvements. But yes, I did get a chuckle out of the idea that they could just…happily go their separate ways for this one event!

      1. Bored Lawyer*

        Exactly, this is more of my point. I get no gratification or value out of my job beyond money and do not want to spend more than 1 second on it than necessary. I’d rather not go. If they want to honor this superhuman predecessor, have fun, you don’t need me for that.

  16. Caroline*

    LW4/ the thing to remember – and this is very important and took me many years to really, fully understand – is that you are of use to the people you work for. Now, it sounds like job 2 is a really great one, flexible, enjoyable, properly compensated, all of that, while job 1 is… less so.

    You must look out for number 1 here, and number 1 is you. As Alison has said, explaining that you really do need to get stable, full-time hours *all the time* and really also want the benefits that go with that is in no way an insult or being awkward. You have very normal, totally reasonable needs from the sale of your time and skills, and job 2 is placed to meet those. It’s not at all personal when you think about it. Yes, it’s obviously a nice work environment, with good people, but it doesn’t sound like job 1 was ”bad” or people were horrible. It’s simply you looking out for your own best interests, just as the businesses concerned look out for theirs.

    1. LW #4*

      Thank you for this very insightful comment! That’s the thing, Job 1 *isn’t* that bad and I wish everyone there well. I would have probably happily worked there for another couple of years, if I hadn’t seen how much nicer things could be. If it was a bad job or if my boss was horrible, it would be an easy decision! Because I could technically keep working both jobs, I feel obligated to, even though I’m not happy doing so and would ultimately come out ahead, financially, by replacing Job 1’s hours with more work at Job 2.

  17. Listener*

    LW2: My advice for dealing with people like Henry in general is to just continue with whatever you’re doing and every now and than say things like: “uhu”, “mhm”, “yea”, “I can understand that’s not very nice.”

    People like that just want to rant and usually don’t even notice if people aren’t listening. If he does notice it, just say something like: “I’m sorry, but I have to finish XYZ today. So (if you don’t mind) I have to continue working on my tasks.”

    1. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

      This works if LW2’s job is 100% sitting by their desk (or if they have wireless headphones that will work everywhere they need to go), and if they don’t have to focus super hard on it. If this isn’t the case, then even passive listening is a big interruption.

    2. cabbagepants*

      I would actually advise to not respond at all! The only thing that has worked for me to defeat workplace blabbers is to literally stay silent. No “mhm,” nothing. If they put me on the spot like asking if I heard them, I’ll just say the minimum (“yes, I heard you”) and then resume silence.

      99% of blabbers want some kind of social release or validation and even the smallest indication of interest reinforces the blabbing.

      1. Coffee Bean*

        Yeah – I was thinking the same thing. Can OP just not answer when Henry calls, then send an email to Henry saying “sorry – I am in the middle of sonething labor intensive, and I can’t talk right now. Did you need anything specific from me? If so, I can spend about 15 minutes discussing this at X time”.

  18. Chilipepper Attitude*

    Collaborate with the other 2, book a weekly “training” meeting with Henry and send him an email or message: Hi Henry, we’ve noticed that you told our boss that your frequent calls are for training, We would like to formalize this and have booked a weekly meeting with you. Looking forward to talking then!

    And then duck all his calls but send a message you can chat at the meeting.

    Then tell your boss this is how you three have handled the constant calls that are keeping your billing low and ask boss if they recommend another way or was this ok?

  19. Random Dice*

    #2 Chatterbox boss – definitely talk to your grandboss.

    Your boss’ actions are reflecting on you, and you will end up holding the bag if you don’t speak up. He’s already shown he’s happy to lie and throw his subordinates under the bus. This isn’t someone to trust, or offer loyalty to. Go to the grandboss and tell them what Alison said.

    Grandboss needs to know why the team budget is being frittered away and a whole team under their oversight is not able to do their jobs.

    I was on a project, years ago, where there was a big problem with a manager who was actively sabotaging our grandboss. Grandboss was hearing from lying manager that we worker bees were the problem. Grandboss pulled worker bees into a meeting to ask us what was going on, but none of us felt comfortable speaking up. Shortly thereafter, all of us worker bees were fired.

    Honestly, I had grown so accustomed to the toxicity that I hadn’t been able to leave on my own, so it was a blessing in disguise to be fired. But it worked a number on my self-esteem for a long time.

    Lesson learned from that experience: if there is a problem manager who’s messing up the work dynamic, tell the grandboss, even if it’s uncomfortable.

  20. I should really pick a name*

    I agree that you really need to go over Henry’s head at this point, but have you tried cutting the meetings short?

    After 10 minutes (or whatever your tolerance is) say “I have to get back to X”.

    1. High Score!*

      Not to long ago, I was in a hybrid meeting. 3 of us in a conference room while the meeting leader and several attendants were virtual. The meeting got detailed and was no longer productive for us. One of my colleagues just hung us up! “They’ll notice!” I told him. And he replied so? And we got back to work.

      1. bamcheeks*

        Yeah if you’re feeling super passive aggressive about it, they’re always the old, “oh Henry, you e frozen… Henry? Henry? … ok, doesn’t seem to be coming back, I’m going to end the meeting— if you can hear me Henry, good luck working out the llama schedules!” Or, “Hi Henry, just to warn you, my internet seems to be a bit unstable at the moment, so if I cut out it’s— Henry? Henry? Oh bother.”

  21. L-squared*

    #1. I think I’d really need to see this to have a good understanding of how bad it is. I understand how YOU feel, and those feelings are valid, but to an objective person, it may seem like not that big of a deal. From my reading, it sounds like it could easily be a thing where you are just feeling like you are never getting out of this super well liked, extroverted person’s shadow. And sometimes, that happens. Especially in jobs where the team has very little turnover, so one person leaving is going to be a hole for a while. If they are only seeing this person once a year, it also isn’t super surprising that people are excited to hear from her. Is the issue that YOU want more attention, or that you want her to not be a part of this anymore? Or maybe some combination of both? if she is a well liked person, the latter may not really happen. Also, if you are just pushing for more attention for yourself, that may come off a bit… needy. Is there a newer person who doesnt’ have the same relationship with your predacessor, who you could discuss this with and find out if they find it weird? That may help calibrate things for you.

    #3. I’m going to echo what others have said. It sounds like you are hell bent on NOT hiring someone from within and are using experience as a cover. But there is no way you really know all of their experience. You know what they have told you. Maybe you have seen their resume for that job. But you may not know what they didn’t list on a resume, or what relevant volunteer experience they may have, etc. I think you should interview people with an open mind. And if they don’t have that experience, then fine. But don’t just make assumptions. Because right now you are looking to make a huge change to the structure there that people will be hired from within, and I’m betting there are people on the team that are like “well at least one of us will get this”. That will not make you popular, especially if people feel they weren’t given a fair shake.

    1. HonorBox*

      I think the calibration is coming from Alison and others who also think this is weird. It IS weird. Someone who retired can surely attend, but has no reason to take over. Frankly, no reason to even speak.

    2. MsM*

      I think large amounts of back-patting inserted into the programming of a high-profile public event for someone who’s no longer with the organization is objectively weird once it starts stretching into year 2. Maybe (hopefully) it’s been long enough at this point that Jane actually is ready to move on and it won’t be an issue, but I don’t think OP needs a gut check to start being proactive about refocusing the event on what’s ahead rather than rehashing past triumphs.

    3. Artemesia*

      If there were someone on staff who was likely to be an inspiring leader of a new youth program you’d probably know it. Some ‘experience’ 5 years ago at camp may meet the minimum but not bring the new enthusiasm, ideas and energy the OP is looking for. I have no trouble believing that her programs are stagnant because they prioritize promoting people from within rather than bringing in new ideas and energy.

      1. Happy meal with extra happy*

        I agree. I don’t think it’s odd or unlikely at all that OP would be aware as to whether or not her colleagues have the necessary experience. We’re not talking about a volunteer camp position in high school – we would be talking about a whole second career that OP is competent unaware. (Yes, it’s possible, but it’s highly unlikely.)

    4. Snarky McSnarkerson*

      But are they making a huge, organization wide change? I didn’t read it that way. I saw that she wanted to hire outside the org for this ONE position, not for all positions forever.

    5. Isben Takes Tea*

      1. I would say that in my experience, no matter the scale, having an ex-employee attend a team’s end-of-season celebration is objectively weird. To have them be featured is weirder. To have them do this multiple years in a row is definitely a big deal.

      3. I wouldn’t describe them as “hell-bent” on anything. But, I would agree that the smoothest way to do it would be to follow the procedure and open it up internally first. If the OP’s interpretation is accurate, then nobody that meets their needs will surface, and they can proceed to an external hire.

  22. Other Alice*

    “Plus, any job that halves someone’s hours is well aware that it means the person might seek work somewhere else, so they’re unlikely to be shocked.”

    In a perfect world this is how it should go, but a shocking amount of employers fail to notice the obvious and end up doing a shocked pikachu face when the employee resigns. See also: employers who cut people’s pay, remove their bonuses, mandate return to office/wfh when the employee has expressed a strong preference not to. I would say employers *should* be aware that you may look elsewhere. If they look blindsided when you leave, that’s on them! But they may be genuinely blindsided by this outcome, and it’s worthwhile to prepare for that.

    1. Random Dice*

      This OP is already worrying WAY too much about the feelings of people who routinely cut her employment in half. That’s unusual.

      She needs to worry way less, and adopt a steely matter-of-factness that of course it’s reasonable to go with a job that offers full employment.

      1. LW #4*

        The OP worries way too much about everything, she can’t help it :) Appreciate the infusion of matter-of-factness from the commentariat!

    2. Artemesia*

      this. The OP is a contractor. That alone is reason to leave for the full time job with benefits. Job 1 may have actually assumed that would happen. I would as boss in this situation.

      1. I have RBF*

        This is my take also. Contractor vs regular employee? Regular always wins.

        My fanfic is that they were needing fewer hours of work from the LW, but really liked the LW and wanted them to succeed, so they referred them to a partner company who had a full time role open. They are probably figuring the the LW will taper off of the contract role (reducing the hours) and ask the other organization if they can come on full time, then be available to work partner jobs because they know and are known to both orgs.

        If I had a contractor that I didn’t have full time work for, but they needed full time hours, that’s how I would try to help them out if I could. YMMV

        1. LW #4*

          Job 2 isn’t looking for full-time help and I’m not looking for full-time hours at this stage in my life. I DO think Job 1 likes working with me (they gave me such a glowing rec that Job 2 didn’t even ask for a resume) and wants to keep me around and felt like this was a way to make sure I didn’t leave entirely. I suspect they probably thought Job 2 would also bring me on as a contractor and so didn’t think benefits and stability would come into play so much!

  23. HonorBox*

    OP1 – Your feelings are valid and understandable. I’m guessing that others who attend are also feeling like it might be time to move on, too. They may not have the exact same reasons for wanting to move on, but after two years of someone who has retired hijacking an event and praising themself, I’d be annoyed… even if the retired employee was beloved and loved, there comes a time when someone needs to point out that it is time to move on.

    OP4 – If job 2 can give you hours and benefits, you needn’t worry about what job 1 might think. You’re not leaving on bad terms and should be able to continue a good working relationship. If job 1 won’t work well with you, that’s on them

  24. Trek*

    OP 2 When he calls you if its not convenient don’t answer and wait 30 min and IM him and ask him what he needed? If he starts complaining and droning on say What are you doing to remedy the situation? Do you want me to set up a meeting with the manager to discuss these issues? Are you going to set up a meeting with manager? This needs to be dealt with sooner than later. What I have found is when you keep pushing for the person to take action they stop complaining to you.
    Track all meetings with him and keep general notes of what was discussed and how little you spoke. Set up a meeting with the manager and state I dread his calls because they are not helpful, he is not training us, and he seems really unhappy at this company and I cannot fix that for him.

    1. Hannah Lee*

      Something like the first part might work or at least help somewhat with the calls. It basically would be a way to make it less satisfying/rewarding for the boss to call LW. Boss will no longer get immediate satisfaction, it will be less likely they will be able to drone on without “getting an action item” or being pressed to resolve whatever they are complaining about it.

      It sort of like when a friend has had a bad break up or an unrequited crush that they want to talk about over and over again. After a few rounds of being a sympathetic ear, if you refuse to engage or change the subject when they keep trying to cover the same ground, they will be less likely to seek you out when they want to scratch that itch.

      Of course, just getting boss to reduce the frequency, length of the calls won’t do anything about the fact that boss can’t be trusted and will willingly lie, through staff under the bus when he feels like it. That alone may make it a good idea to loop in grand boss to what is happening. (maybe take steps to discourage the calls first and then follow up with GB, that way you can point to the ways you’ve tried to manage the issue on your own, but now feel you need to escalate it because it’s negatively impacting progress on xyz.)

  25. AnonInCanada*

    LW1: It sounds like OP’s coworker is the type of person who would wear white to her sister’s wedding and announce her getting engaged during the reception speeches. In other words: She’s hogging the spotlight and taking it away from you. People should recognize her for who she is: rude and self-centred. Take solace in that fact, since there’s really not much more you can do except let your actions speak for themselves.

    1. Hiring Mgr*

      I don’t think you can say she’s rude and self centered – someone is inviting her to these events, presumably for a reason. I don’t think LW is being petty but I also don’t think a once a year dinner is that big of an issue either.

      I do agree with the advice that LW may want to talk wiht the boss or whoever is in charge of this dinner, but I couldn’t tell from the letter if Jane is giving a formal presentation, or if her talking is just at their table or while socializing..

      1. HonorBox*

        I think it is reasonable to suggest that the retired predecessor is exhibiting rude and self-centered behavior. They may not even realize it. If Jane is not self-aware enough to realize that she’s no longer in charge, in the spotlight, in a speaking role, someone should say something to her.

        At my workplace we held our annual event where our CEO highlighted accomplishments from the past year. We invited others who had served in that CEO role previously and you know what none of them did? Made the event about them. They were acknowledged and thanked, but none of them got mic time. And none of them would have considered it. Jane may be well-liked, but she doesn’t read the room well, and there may need to be consideration for not inviting her in the future.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Yep, agreed. We have former employees around all the time, and this is not normal behavior. They catch up, swap old stories, talk to the people now in their roles (maybe just to chat, maybe to help contextualize old things, maybe to learn how the role has evolved), and observe where the organization is now. Sometimes other people will put the spotlight on them at appropriate moment in order to hype up their past accomplishments.

          This amount of grandstanding just sounds like someone who is struggling to move on and – consciously or unconsciously – being really inappropriate in how they handle that.

        2. AnonInCanada*

          Agreed. There comes a time when the former employee whose been giving all these accolades should realize she should step back and give the people now doing the work the praise they deserve. That retired co-worker is being rude and self-centred, albeit subconsciously. I’m not sure what OP can do other than ask her boss about perhaps not inviting the former employee to next year’s event, but seeing as she’s so well-liked, that may not go well.

          1. AnonInCanada*

            given, not giving. This is what happens when the caffeine hasn’t kicked it yet. :-P

          2. Hiring Mgr*

            That’s what I was trying to get at – the boss (or someone ) is inviting Jane. Maybe Jane should voluntarily take a back seat, or just not attend, but it sounds like her presence is welcome. If others are asking her to talk about her track record, not sure what she should do. LW should still get accolades for their contributions, but that’s on the bosses, not on Jane

            1. Maggie*

              Hi everyone, in the thread above, thank you for your comments. This was my question. Yes she is very much liked and she’s also getting on in age and spent over 16 years in my position. I would not feel comfortable asking that she’s not invited as it is my boss asking her back. This is not a formal event but rather a pizza thing and although there are some impromptive speeches by supervisors and management, it is the only event we have in the year where the planners get some recognition and, the clerks in passing.

  26. Eldritch Office Worker*

    LW3: I think you should be candid with these other managers about what you’re looking for, and (if you can) that you’re not planning to interview internal candidates that don’t meet minimum qualifications. There may be internal policies that mean you have to – I don’t like those policies for the record – but it’s a waste of your time and the candidates’ if you know you aren’t going to hire them. Managers should be helping you temper those expectations.

    Also be open to pushback if it’s warranted. Maybe people have different experience than you realize. Who knows. Don’t throw up an arbitrary wall around an external hire. But do not accept “but this is how we’ve always done it” pushback.

    Going against established culture is hard. Good on you for looking for quality in your hiring knowing it may be an uphill battle.

    1. HonorBox*

      Very well said. There’s going to be pushback I’m sure. But as long as the OP is open to speaking to an internal candidate who DOES meet the minimum requirements, even if their experience isn’t what you initially thought it to be, and giving them fair consideration, then whatever comes of the situation should be acceptable to everyone.

    2. Hannah Lee*

      That’s why it’s important that LW work up a clear job description as well as clear qualifications for the role in terms of experience, skills, qualifications etc. And do that prior to doing any candidate screening. That way LW can use that as a screening tool for all applicants equally and the discussion can focus on comparision with requirements of the position, instead of about any one candidate or pool of candidates.

      As far as whether or not to interview internal applicants, I’ve seen it handled well sometimes where there’s a case where a candidate is not a match for the current opening, but are asked to do kind of an informational interview. It becomes more of a conversation about career paths, skills the employee might want to build, what opportunities might be available down the line, but with no expectation that the candidate is in the running for the current position. (I’ve also seen it handled really badly in both directions by managers who were disrespectful of internal candidates or employees that had an overblown sense of their qualifications/entitlement.)

  27. DisneyChannelThis*

    #3 – I’d def start soft and set expectations with the other teams supervisors. Since the director is on board, it’s fine to say something like “I look forward to seeing [Their Direct Report] ‘s application. [Director] and I was discussing though and we really need applicants with strong skills and experience in XYZ. If anyone on your team has those skills encourage them to apply. We may need to go external to get that experience since it’s a new take on the program”

  28. Addison DeWitt*

    Letter #1 is like a lot of letters at AITA—there’s going to be a graduation party for child X but child Z is the golden child and things always turn into celebrating Z and ignoring X. To continue the analogy, I’d just say to my boss, I’m not really interested in attending Ex-Boss’ latest self-congratulatory party, but if you want to do one just for our department, let me know!

  29. *kalypso*

    LW#4 – Job one telling you to go to Job 2 isn’t a platitude; they openly told you they’re good with it.

    1. LW #4*

      Job 1 specifically sold it as “They’ll make up for the hours we had to cut and you can keep working with us!” so I don’t think they will be *good* with it. I’m just hoping they’ll understand it!

  30. Anonymous Pygmy Possum*

    It’s not 100% clear from the letter if LW1’s celebratory dinner is a formal event with speakers and such and a presentation that the retired coworker is presenting, or if it’s a more informal thing (just dinner) and the retired coworker is monopolizing the discussion. If it’s the latter, I don’t know how applicable Alison’s advice would be. I wonder if they could ask their Boss to specifically mention the stuff they did in a toast to the successful year?

    1. MsM*

      If it’s the latter, I think that opens up even more opportunity to have a conversation with Boss or other appropriate stakeholders about what the purpose of the dinner is really supposed to be and whether there’s a better way of accomplishing that, or why Jane needs to be there when she’s not directly involved any more.

  31. introverted af*

    For #3, you seem certain that no one on staff has the experience/skills you need, so I trust your assessment of the situation. However, it might be worth finding ways to be sure if someone applies that they aren’t qualified before you deny an interview, and to look like you are open to the possibility that someone does have that experience.

  32. GreenShoes*

    OP 2:
    If you get trapped on a call with Henry. Just be straightforward about ending the call or start working while he’s dithering in the background.

    Henry: blah blah omg the paperclip sorting project is blah blah blah
    OP: Oh wow…that reminds me I need to get that binder clip response out. Gotta go

    Really I’m not sure that it has to be anything important, just bring up whatever you’re working on and say “Oh look at the time, I need to get back to X”

    I suspect there will be little to no fallout from Henry by doing this. He seems the type that traps you in conversation that you have to be blunt with to get away. If nothing else if you aren’t a ‘willing’ participant it may train him to bother someone else.

    Ok…nevermind I just reread the OP… Henry isn’t their manager only their lead. Yes they should go to their manager with this! And no they shouldn’t feel like they can’t ‘untrap’ themselves from these calls. In fact I’d just not answer then later send a “Oh I saw you called,
    did you need something. I’m kind of busy with X right now but if it’s important I can spare 5 minutes”. Bonus points if you wait to send this when you can see he’s on another call.

    1. GreenShoes*

      Oh and here’s a trick if you use teams and need some space (and plausible deniability of not noticing notifications). Use the ‘meet now’ function and start a meeting with yourself. Then share your screen (or an unused application).

      You’ll show as “Presenting”

      I’m guessing your coworkers similarly affected by Henry wouldn’t mind also joining this meeting with you. You can trade off the ‘presenting’ duties as needed.

  33. MissMeghan*

    LW1 I agree you really shouldn’t take this as a reflection on your work in any way and others might not be thinking too deeply about it. You’re attending an awards ceremony, and your predecessor is attending a reunion of sorts. Like a high school reunion where the old quarterback talks about that one game or the theater kid talks about their lead in the play, she is focused on what she did, not the fact that work goes on without her. And for the people who worked with her maybe the reminiscing is fun and it goes no deeper than that.

    I don’t need to re-tread Alison’s good advice here, but try not to overthink any reflections this would have on your work.

  34. 15 Pieces of Flair*

    LW2- Here are some additional strategies you should consider:

    1. Interject and tell Henry you’re working on an important deliverable.

    2. Set up “focus time” on your calendar. When he calls, ignore the call and message him asking if it’s urgent.

    3. Listen for a few minutes and then stage a convenient interruption like other commentators suggest. You’re getting another call. Someone is at the door. Your phone or headset needs charged. You need to let your dog out.

    4. “I really need to focus right now. [Manager] said I need to get this done ASAP.”

  35. Milfred*

    Not hiring from within.

    I would wager that one of the selling points the organization used when hiring its current employees was that they “promote from within.” It’s a tool used to develop loyalty and encourage hard work.

    If you start hiring from the outside you are blowing that policy up. How many people will say to themselves: If I can’t get promoted, why stay?

    You may also find the grass isn’t greener on the outside. When you have a laundry list of skills, it’s hard to find someone with all the listed qualifications.

    And if you do bring in someone with many, but not all the qualifications, how would that affect the morale of the current employees who have many, but not all of the qualifications and were passed over?

    I’ve notices a few ads lately that include something along the lines of “Don’t have all the requirements? We encourage you to apply anyway, as we know no candidate is perfect.”

    1. GreenShoes*

      I think most managers would give preference to an internal candidate (with the required skills and in some cases the internal business experience can outweigh skill deficiencies), but there are times when you just don’t have the skills you need or want from internal candidates.

      While what most of what you say is true, at the same time, it’s also true that a healthy organization brings in fresh perspectives at an equal rate to internal promotions. Otherwise the very real risk of stagnation occurs. It has to be balanced. It is also true that roles need to change and evolve, so that the core responsibilities may need new to the organization skills and experience.

      As to having all the requirements, again this is a good point and often times you are able to train certain requirements to an otherwise well rounded candidate. But in the OP’s case I’m not sure how true this is. Child and family experience is not like learning how to create a power point.

    2. Totally Minnie*

      I’d agree with you if this was a change in the company’s overall pattern, but it’s not.

      It’s perfectly reasonable to decide that for one specific position, they really truly do need someone with specific experience and specific training. That doesn’t mean no one in this organization will ever get promoted again, it just means that for this one position, they had to hire externally to get the skills they needed.

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      I think that’s overstating the fact that one position isn’t getting promoted from within.

      I think too a lot of people in these comments are upset about not hiring from within, but maybe aren’t considering that hiring externally allows new candidates to enter the field at higher levels (if a new candidate has an advanced degree why should they have to join company as an assistant and work their way up internally???), supports diversity (if traditionally company is primarily white males, and only hires internally for higher spots its going to stay white male in leadership roles), supports salary increases (how many times has a worker made 10-20% more salary switching companies instead of accepting the 3% raise staying in one company), and more.

      1. MsM*

        Yeah, personally I’d be more frustrated and inclined to job hunt if leadership selection was based more on “whose turn is it for a promotion?” than “who can actually do what this job requires?”

        1. Qwerty*

          Been at a job like this. Our manager got replaced with the person who had been there the longest, despite being one of the worst performers (which he acknowledged and embraced). End result was that I did most of his job for him. HR and the execs really struggled on what to do the next time a manager position opened up because it wasn’t my “turn” but I was more qualified than any of the existing managers and my team would fall apart if my manager had to actually manage his own team.

          Spoiler: I left.

  36. Milfred*

    Quitting your job.

    Put this in relationship terms:

    Person-1 only wants to hookup and has made it clear that’s as far as it will go. You’ll never be more than friends with benefits.

    Person-2 has asked you to marry them.

    No explanation other than “I want something more permanent” is needed.

    1. LW #4*

      Honestly, as an avid romance reader, this analogy really works for me, thank you :D

  37. PhyllisB*

    When my daughter was getting a divorce, her attorney’s office asked for some paperwork, which I delivered. I was handing it to the receptionist when the paralegal heard me and called me back. (We were casually friendly from attending church together in the past.) She started asking how the kids were doing, if hubby was okay, ect. It took me 30 minutes to get away from her. THEN she had the nerve to bill me for an office visit. I not only didn’t pay it, I gave them an earful about it. They removed the charge.

  38. Optimus Prime*

    LW4–Have you already talked to Job 2 about going full time with them? I know you said they give you all the hours you want, but I would be crystal clear that being their full time employee is what they want from you before quitting Job 1.

    1. LW #4*

      I’m not looking to go full-time. However, when I had recently had to work some extra hours that led to me getting close to what we had discussed as my max weekly hours, I checked in with my boss to see if they wanted me to warn them if I was approaching X hours, or flex these extra hours later in the month, and they explicitly said “We’ll take as many hours as you’ll give us.”

  39. Looper*

    LW4- I’ve been in a very similar position and what ended up happening is that I took the better job which ended up working out best for “Job #1” in the end. They didn’t have to try to give me hours they couldn’t afford, but I still could help out on a contract basis when they were in a pinch. Everyone was happier and had the staffing they needed.

    1. LW #4*

      Thank you! I don’t want to be on the hook for contracting for Job 1 forever (honestly one reason why I want to leave is to make our taxes simpler by not having a contractor position!), so ideally I’d be freeing Job 1 up to find someone else who has a flexible schedule and maybe whose skillset aligns a little better with what they need right now, too.

  40. Margaret Cavendish*

    OP4, I’m curious about your hesitation, when Job 2 clearly has so much more to offer than Job 1. It sounds like you’re worried about how Job 1 will react – is this something you’ve experienced in the past, that they’ve treated people poorly when resigning? Or did your previous toxic job and mercurial boss treat people poorly when they resigned, and you’re worried it might happen here as well?

    I’m just speculating here, and whether it’s that or something else, none of what you’re feeling is wrong. It just seems a bit…disproportionate, from my outsider’s perspective. If you’re a contractor with no benefits and the possibility of your hours being cut at any time, Job 1 is probably *expecting* you to move on (unless they’re unusually horrible people, which is always an option!) It’s a really, really normal thing that you plan to do – people leave jobs all the time, and a lot of the time their new jobs (or organizations) are similar or related to their old ones in some way. And 99% of the time, it’s totally fine for everybody.

    Again, I’m not saying you’re wrong about any of this, because obviously your feelings come from somewhere! And I certainly don’t need you to answer any of this out loud. I’m just suggesting you dig into the “why” of your feelings a bit. What are you worried might happen, and what is likely to actually happen? What will be the impact of whatever happens, and can you live with the impact? Hopefully this exercise will help you see things more clearly. Good luck, whatever you decide!

    1. LW #4*

      Thank you for your kind and insightful comment! For sure, I imagine some of what I am feeling comes from how my toxic boss treated me when I left and how I saw him treat the many people who left before me. Some of it is also that I am a chronic worrier with social anxiety and limited workplace experience, so I’m concerned about putting my foot in it. I don’t want to do something that would sour the relationship between Job 1 and Job 2, and honestly, our industry is such that probably at some point I’ll end up working with people from Job 1 in some capacity or another down the road.

      But really, the way you put it makes me realize that because none of the people involved are my toxic ex-boss, probably what is likely to happen is some disappointment on Job 1’s part, which would fade with time. The stakes are likely not as high as my anxieties would like me to think they are.

  41. Rachel*

    #1: do not attend this year.

    I don’t think you will be able to turn this boat around without sacrificing too much work capital. And I, personally, would not be at all interested in congratulating somebody who hasn’t contributed in so long.

    It’s extremely weird to come back after retirement.

  42. MCMonkeyBean*

    OP4–If the people at job 1 are even remotely reasonable they will understand why you would quit a contractor gig with diminishing hours in favor of a full-time job with benefits! I’d think of this as kind of a professional version of “people who mind don’t matter and people who matter don’t mind.”

    1. LW #4*

      Thank you! Although the work is actually part-time — but honestly, that makes it even more accurate. How often do you find part-time work that provides any sort of benefits?

  43. HeatherNotFeather*

    OP#2 – I worked with a “Henry” at my last job (and he was a training lead for my department and sales). He had a habit of spending the day talking about how busy he was rather than just doing his work and was very self-important. He also would come into my staff’s shared office and would distract them while and answer their questions (which were directed at me usually). Staff finally started complaining about him because he wasn’t properly training anyone, and I eventually took over training for my team on top of everything else I was trying to do. I was in a position where he and I were on the same level, so I finally called him out and told him about the complaints. He never fixed his behavior and works somewhere else now, where I am sure he’s still doing the same stuff.

  44. Orange You Glad*

    #2 I work for a Henry. Every quick call for a simple piece of information that he doesn’t need to call me for turns into 45+min conversations about everything else. Also, he only calls our (personal) cell phones, never Teams, Webex, or any other communication tools our company provides. I’ve worked for him for a while so I know how to work around his calls but I could understand how someone new may feel intimidated or unable to just not answer.

    If you are comfortable not answering his calls, ignore them when you are busy. If you go this route I recommend following up later when you are not busy. “Hey sorry I missed your call earlier, what can I do for you now?”

    Absolutely talk to Henry’s manager about this. You don’t have to make it about his representation of the billing issues, just address it as an issue that affects your work and ask for advice. Most likely he’ll recommend limiting or dodging Henry’s calls too.

  45. Need a good default*

    For LW5. I’ve worked with a few recruiters and there are a few other reasons.
    They don’t want to submit you to a job at Company A if you’ve already applied for that job at Company A. Or at least can know where you were at with Company A.
    I once had 5 recruiters reach out to me for a job at a company. They knew I was looking so they reached out. You don’t want the same position at a company to get your resume from 5 different recruiters. That will more likely eliminate you from contention.

  46. Recovered Corporate A**hole*

    Response to #2 re: Chatterbox

    At my first job, I got put on a PIP for using PRE-SCHEDULED 1:1 time with my manager/colleagues to vent a few times when things were getting really chaotic. Now, I understand why this wasn’t professional even though the workplace was toxic. It’s disruptive and disrespectful of your colleagues’ time. It’s time for a reality check for “Henry.”

  47. JelloStapler*

    LW, as someone who overthinks, I’m giving you the all clear that you’re overthinking and Alison’s advice is spot on. you need full time steady work with benefits right now.

  48. Hell in a Handbasket*

    LW1: How about taking your question (“Could this mean I’m not as effective as I think in my job?”) to your boss? I agree with Alison that that isn’t the true interpretation, but it gives you a non-aggressive way to bring it up. You could say that you’re worried that your performance is not up to expectations because all the celebration dinners are focused on work that happened before you started, and hopefully that would trigger your boss to realize that the focus needs to be changed.

  49. DJ*

    LW#1 yes your achievements should also be recognised given this is an annual celebration that includes your role. I also notice LW#1 is in a support role. Often the very important work undertaken in these roles is not noticed, not appreciated and undervalued. And then those roles are vulnerable to layoffs but the work still exists meaning someone else has to pick up on it and that person is now out of a job. Therefore the annual celebration is a great way to highlight the work of that position so Allison is spot on suggesting LW1 approach their manager to dedicate an agenda item to LW’s achievements. Thus a good idea to discuss altering the agenda.

  50. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

    I have a senior colleague a bit like Henry with the talking. “Oh, while I’ve got you…” and then you’ll get ages of rambling with tangents and all sorts.

    Thankfully my boss, his boss, and ultimate Top Boss are all aware of this and other issues.

    One thing they did was set up a Teams channel with me, him, his boss, my boss, and another manager with a similar issue, to bring these issues into a transparent place.

    So I can message in the Teams, “sorry to miss your call, what do you need?” Or “that sounds frustrating, shall we flag it in the Teams channel, that’s what Boss requested we do”. Or “Hi Henry, you mentioned that we need training time [or equivalent claim]; to confirm, I have no questions this week on the projects. Is there anything you want to raise, and if so, when shall we schedule in 10 minutes to cover it off?”

    It was worked quite well so far (as part of a wider mix of measures to address a range of behaviours.)

    He isn’t as intentionally dishonest as Henry though; he’s just oblivious about how long he rambles, and takes credit/mansplains over people as a natural habit.

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