open thread – June 16-17, 2023

It’s the Friday open thread!

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

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

{ 847 comments… read them below }

  1. Collie*

    New manager here! As I expected, one of my growth points is managing my mental/emotional/physical response to difficult/correctional/disciplinary conversations. This is especially the case when I think there’s a chance I might be wrong (which is pretty much always — I’m always fearful I’m missing something or don’t have all the facts, even when I have analyzed whatever the issue is thoroughly). Realistically, my logical side *knows* there’s no reason for the extreme physical/emotional/mental responses like shaking/racing and pounding heart for hours/etc. (Mental illness is fun!) But it’s easier said than done to tell your body/brain to knock it off.

    Things I’m doing: I’m already in therapy (specifically for OCD, so this all tracks for me), read AAM regularly, have a great manager supporting me and coaching me (and taking the reins where appropriate, especially on a current situation that has been going on for years prior to my promotion and has resulted in a direct report refusing to speak with me — HR is involved on that). I also do the whole deep breathing thing, do self talks where I emphasize it’s just business/not personal (even when staff are trying to make it personal like the above), do various self-care out of work, take walks when appropriate at work, and am working on good rapport with everyone to prevent these situations to begin with.

    So, the question: I know a lot of the skills, including these soft, inward-facing ones, will come with time and practice when it comes to difficult/correctional/disciplinary conversations with direct reports. But what resources and strategies do you recommend for someone looking to build those skills intentionally.

    1. Pyanfar*

      Practice! I had a couple of individuals at my level that I was close with, and we did mock situations…we’d agree how the meeting would go ahead of time, like super smooth or banana-pants crazy, then role play the situation. Like desensitization therapy!!

      1. Area Woman*

        Yes! Please use your supportive manager to plan out those difficult conversations. Get feedback from them before going in, I often take the temperature of a situation, am I thinking about this the right way? Does it make sense to an outside perspective to address it this way? etc.

        I also practice with my spouse, and also even type things up I want to address and have notes. This stuff gets easier for sure, but the only way to practice before you actually get to the situations the first time is to do mock-ups.

      2. Just working*

        Some situations are things you should not have to be putting up with! So a direct report who won’t talk to you probably can only be fixed by ending that person’s employment. I can think of any skills or strategies that turn that level of dysfunction into something positive.

      3. Tio*

        Yeah, I practice difficult conversations out loud in the shower. Just having the muscle memory of putting the words out there is a good trick, it helps me get them out when in a higher nerve state. But also, practicing with friends can be great, as they can come up with responses you wouldn’t. Just be careful how much you share with them, if they are talkers.

    2. Rosyglasses*

      I really appreciated reading the book Crucial Conversations and then attending their week-long training. It’s a bit on the spendy side so thankfully my work paid for it, but I found it helped tremendously. I also am a strong advocate for LifeLabs Learning and their individual CORE classes which talk about feedback, coaching, and effective 1:1s. Putting those skills into practice made the harder conversations easier, because I was having regular checkpoints along the way and it was smaller pieces of critical feedback more often (so practicing!) so that when I had a harder one, it felt a bit less anxiety producing.

    3. Elle*

      A number of people in my office swear by Brene Brown and her Dare to Lead book for building those skills.

    4. Another Academic Librarian too*

      What helped me, (same symptoms) was extreme documentation. When I felt like I “was the one in the wrong or over reacting” I could review my notes. I would also share my notes and actions with HR and my supervisor (without editorializing) just to make sure I was NOT over reacting and this was the right course of action.

    5. GreenShoes*

      Imagine what a respected former or current manager would do or say in the same situation. Channel that person until it becomes normal for you.

    6. Not a Pharma Bro*

      Caveats: Of course, only your doctor can prescribe this and it may not work for you, your condition, etc.
      Ask your doctor if you can try a beta blocker, particularly if you can take it on those days that you know you need to have tough conversations. As I understand it, beta blockers block the fight-or-flight response that makes your heart race, scatters your thoughts, etc. I needed one for the heart thing, but it has helped my anxiety and ADHD-related RSD so much that multiple coworkers noted it on a recent 360 review that I had for a promotion (and I got that promotion and am rocking it at work.) Many actors, stand-up comics and just regular professionals that need to do public speaking rely on beta blockers to keep calm & even. There’s no narcotic effect or concern about addiction. So, ask your doctor.

      1. Nitpicker*

        I would be careful about this. I took a beta blocker for afib (atrial fibrillation) and found it slowed me down considerably. My doctor halved the dose and I still felt terrible to the point of extreme depression. Ultimately, I had to switch to a calcium channel blocker instead.

      2. Generic Name*

        On the other side, I was prescribed a beta blocker for anxiety and it’s been great. Turns out you’re not supposed to feel nervous basically all the time. I have almost no side effects. Something to discuss with a medical doctor for sure.

    7. Jess R.*

      First off, I think you’ve got a really great toolbox already with everything you’ve listed. The skills themselves and your comfort in using them will come with time and practice, as you say.

      I’m new to having any kind of authority over others in the workplace, but as I think and prepare for these kinds of conversations, I find myself pulling from hard conversations I’ve had to have in my personal life — from friendship and romantic breakups to leaving commitments to household conflicts with roommates. And most of my facility with those has come from, well, practice, but also reading non-workplace advice columns (Captain Awkward, Dear Prudence when it was Danny Lavery writing, Hola Papi, etc.) and self-help books and slowly integrating good communication practices into my personal life.

      Because I don’t think the skillset is all that different: composure, flexibility, willingness to hear someone out, the courage of your own convictions, kindness, a deep sense of where your flexibility ends and you have to stand your ground.

      I don’t know that any of this is particularly actionable, but it sounds like you’re doing great, and you have the tools and processes you need. <3

    8. Managerista*

      You’ve done a great job of building support systems! Two other things that have helped me:

      1. I have a monthly meetup with people I trust in similar positions but outside my organization who act as a brain trust and sounding board.

      2. I am not my job. I work to have strong, healthy relationships and fun hobbies completely separate from my work. This really helps to set boundaries and give me space from management headaches.

    9. WantonSeedStitch*

      I always practice before I have those kinds of conversations! I will usually write out what I want to say, and if I’m confident enough about it (I have a good amount of experience now), I go ahead and say it after reviewing those notes and mentally rehearsing a few times. But if I feel like I need a check to make sure I’m taking the right approach, I run it by my manager. Sounds like your manager is very supportive, so this would be something you could do. My emails might go something like this:

      “Hi boss,
      I’ve had three people in the last week tell me they couldn’t reach Tangerina at times when she was supposed to be working. They sent her multiple emails that she never answered. I want to tell her that this makes it hard for people to work with her and to rely on her. I’m also planning to say that going forward, I want her to respond to all client emails within 24 hours of receiving them, and that if she doesn’t have an answer for a question she was asked yet, she should at least acknowledge that she received the email and is working on finding an answer. Does that sound appropriate?”

      Then my boss might recommend that I first ask Tangerina if there’s anything going on that is affecting her availability. It might be a case of “hey, if you’re sick, take the time off and set an Out Of Office. That way you can rest and no one will come looking for you. But don’t say you’re available and working when you really aren’t.”

    10. Dotted & Striped*

      Ooo this is so timely for me, I am a newer manager and have multiple under performing employees who I inherited and unfortunately have had to develop these skills fast. In no particular order:
      -low performance should be a continuing conversation not a all of a sudden they are on a pip and we’ve never spoken about this before (unless like harassment) . So everyone should be prepared for this meeting.
      – my first hard performance conversation was with an employee who frankly just needed a wake up call and re-training. I was super nervous but it went well. Which helped me for when I had a much more difficult employee later
      – totally agree role playing is a life saver.
      -I also like to be thoughtful when I schedule these meetings. Ideally no other meeting before (so I don’t risk running late) and no meeting after (to debrief or have a few minutes to collect myself)
      – Any true performance meeting (written warning or PIP) I never attend alone. My manager and/or HR attends too
      – I like to have all the paperwork ready to go before the meeting. Sometimes the paperwork needs multiple approvals so I make sure to schedule the meeting far enough out to get that done (made that mistake once never again)

      Ultimately, some of these convos are REALLY hard. I currently have an employee on a PIP who most likely going to need to be fired. But I can absolutely say she’s had a fair shot to improve and we have not softened the message at any point (which would be easier but not kind).

    11. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

      So admittedly I deliberately started managing in easy mode: I resisted attempts to promote me until I was on a team where there weren’t individuals I had difficulty working with. Because I knew perfectly well that developing that skill was important, but it wasn’t what I wanted to start with; I wanted to lay a groundwork first and work my way up to difficult conversations.

      But! Since you’re already there, here’s my 2 cents.

      I agree with a recent post of Alison’s (May 31) that “discipline” has little to no place in conversations between adults. I prefer to frame difficult conversations as “informational”. First I get information (critical to ensure I’m not missing something! which I usually am), then I give information, then we see where it goes.

      Part of how I manage my frustration with employees who are not performing up to standards is that I tell myself that there are three most common reasons for the behavior I’m seeing:

      a) The employee isn’t getting something (information, support, etc.) they need, and thus they are just as frustrated/stressed/bored/unhappy in some way as I am. Finding out what they need and finding a way to give it to them will clear up the problem.

      b) The employee thinks everything is hunky-dory because they’re missing some critical piece of information. Finding out what they need and finding a way to give it to them will clear up the problem.

      c) There is no reasonable way to give the employee what they need to succeed in this role, meaning the role and employee are a mutual bad fit.

      Step (a), which I’ve observed over and over again, and which I’ve seen managers massively underestimate, really helps with seeing myself and the employee in the same boat, trying to solve the same problem. And that really helps frame the conversation in a way that the employee is less likely to get defensive, adversarial, etc., and is more likely to approach the conversation in a collaborative problem-solving mindset, and that helps lower my stress levels.

      “am working on good rapport with everyone to prevent these situations to begin with”

      This is great, because the best time to solve a problem is before it starts! But since you haven’t elaborated on what you do here, I’m going to break down a bit what I do–and then if you’re already doing all this and that’s what you meant, maybe it’ll be useful to someone else.

      Related to what I said above, building rapport isn’t just about being on good terms with someone when things are going well. It’s about actively collaborating on the tiny issues while they’re still tiny, before they become big.

      So if I’m seeing a behavior that I don’t like or agree with, I try really really hard to avoid leading with “You shouldn’t do X.” I try to remember to lead with, “Why did you do X?”

      I am surprised by the number of times they had a reason that makes sense to me, and problem solved!

      Then the next most likely scenario is X made sense to them, and I say, “I see why you would do that. In future, if you run into this again, the thing you should do instead of X is Y, and here’s why,” and that makes sense to them and again, problem solved. This is an informational conversation, because if they had known Y was a better option, they would have taken it!

      Then there are times when they’ve agreed to do Y, but for whatever reason they keep doing X. I have been known to give mentoring conversations about social capital to employees, saying that, “When you do X, you spend social capital with your coworkers because of blah-blah reasons, and these are the consequences of spending that social capital. When you do Y instead, you build social capital.” This is another informational conversation.

      I don’t know how much this is recommended, but I have been known to give employees a talk saying that I am documenting the number of times X occurs, and that the reason a manager would bother documenting behaviors is so there’s a paper trail in case we need to justify a PIP, which is the prelude to firing. I tell them that most managers probably won’t tell them when they’re documenting behaviors, but I’m telling them because I want them to have a chance to fix this waaay ahead of when they need to be concerned about PIPs or firing.

      Now, obviously that’s for things like performance problems that can go on for a while, not yelling at people or refusing to speak to me problems. And some of those people are in category (c), and you may have inherited that and have to take steps to end their employment in that role.

      But I have seen good people in category (a) whose bottled up frustration was just exploding, and that’s where at least *trying* to approach it from the angle of, “Is this person not getting something they need, and if so, is it reasonable to give it to them?” can still be very useful.

      Hope this helps!

    12. Middle Manager No More*

      “especially the case when I think there’s a chance I might be wrong” One thing that I’ve found helpful is coming to terms that I will be wrong sometimes and expecting that and proceeding as if that is a possibility. So I try hard not to go into hard conversations thinking I have the answer for sure. There are times, of course, when you have to come to a conclusion and say, I’ve heard you out and I’ve consulted my resources/gotten approval from my boss, you are being written up for xyz. But I don’t start there. The first conversation is always from a place of “I’m seeing xyz and it is concerning. Can you give me your perspective on that?” Obviously not for things that are over the top egregious, like refusing to speak to your boss, but works really well for smaller issues and leaves space for you to have missed something without feeling dumb.

    13. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      One very useful tip: It is okay to not know the answer or what to do in a given situation. All of the prep work outlined in this thread is gold, but sometimes all the preparation in the world can’t prepare you for a chronic buck-passer or a bananas personal situation or something you know you will need input from your boss before answering. When that happens, ir if a meeting has been derailed and you don’t know how to get it back on track, you can simply say “You know what, leave that with me/let me get back to you on that/I will know more about that in a few days” and wrap it up.

      It can feel wrong to move on unresolved but in fact that gives you time to regroup and/or to seek out other advice from a boss, trusted colleague or other person in your life. That gets easier with time too and it is a better use of everyone’s time than pretending you know the answer only to contradict yourself later, or keep talking in circles unproductively. It helped my imposter syndrome to remember it is normal to not have every answer on the spot.

    14. Alternative Person*

      One thing that was really helpful for me was imagining myself as the lord of a large domain and the colleagues I was managing were bannermen to my house. Putting it in those terms (in my head) helped me to contextualize the relationship lines/interpersonal issues/chains of authority much more clearly and work out what I needed to say in certain conversations/get information I needed to know/approach conflicts constructively.

      From there I could make notes on what I needed to do/points I needed to communicate to staff members involved and practice them enough to get them out.

      I know it’s pretty ridiculous but it really helped me. Doesn’t have to be a faux medieval hierarchy either, starship captain, leader of a superhero team, any kind of fantastical hierarchical system would probably work.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Things that I ask about because they are important to me:

      – What hours do people on the team typically work? (I am looking both for start/end times that work with my circadian rhythm and also for ~40 hours/week. Regularly working 45+ hours weeks is not for me)

      – How do you give feedback to people on your team? (I am looking for managers who regularly give low-level feedback and for organizations that have a defined annual review process)

      For culture more generally, my first post-college job was at a company I had done an internship with, so I had a three-month evaluation of their culture. Since that job, the interview processes I have done have generally included talking to an HR person, the hiring manager, and a peer. I don’t have any specific questions I ask, but I pay attention to the rapport I have with everyone I talk to and so far a good rapport has been indicative of a good cultural match.

    2. mouse*

      I think for me I’ve tried to get a sense of what the organization’s values are (e.g. if they say they are committed to diversity what reaction do you get when you ask about putting pronouns in email signatures etc.) and tried looking at how the person interviewing me interacts with other members of the hiring panel and other colleagues (are they fairly casual? is everyone very buttoned up?). It is hard, especially for lower-level positions where hiring processes can be very brief and largely at arm’s length, but those are the two areas I’ve focused on in the past.

    3. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      During my job search a couple of years ago, I applied to any job that met at least 60% of what I was looking for. During the interview process, I listened to what was said and what wasn’t, as well as doing a gut check with myself on how I felt.

      My rationale for not doing too much work on researching the org:

      1) It’s not me worth investing more than 30 minutes researching, as I have a high chance of hearing nothing back from an application. Since I can customize my resume and cover letter in about 15 minutes, it’s a better use of time to apply.
      2) Not much info is available to an outsider, so the interview is more useful.

    4. Me*

      For context: I’ve had a number of jobs that sounds great on paper but once I’ve started I hated them. Some issues include: not being challenging enough (the one job required a specific degree, after doing it I hand no idea why), not enough “making a difference” (I had I’ve job where the entire mission was to make a difference but it was such a dysfunctional team…) and of course, team dynamics. I often ask what a typical day is like, greatest challenges and rewards of the job, expectations etcetera. I had ZERO idea that the dysfunctional team was dysfunctional before I started AND it was a department of the company I work for… I’m thinking about switching companies but if I do, I don’t want to make the same mistake!

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        If you have a 2nd level connection on linkedin ask for a introduction to ask what it’s what it’s like to work there. It doesn’t always work but when it does I find people are generally more open to chatting about culture instead of the typical sketchy requests to try and help you get a job. The times it hasn’t worked were where the person never wrote back or wrote back too late.

    5. Alex*

      For my last job, I wanted to know how they thought about change, progress, and improvements. I asked “What do you think this job will look like in five years?” And I really liked the answers I got. I wanted to make sure that we were on the same page about new challenges and valuing progress and innovation, which was one big reason I was leaving my old job.

      I also like to learn about the background of the people I would be working with–like, what their professional paths looked like. I wanted to work with people from different kinds of paths, including non-traditional pathways. That shows me that the organization values different kinds of experiences and not just degrees and certifications on paper.

    6. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      i have found that asking a version of Magic Question usually gives me a good feel for things. I also ask what people’s favorite thing about the company or team is (depending on which I think will impact me more) and what they would like to change if they could. I think this is particularly helpful for potential peers or teammates.

    7. Joron Twiner*

      My job relates to documenting and enacting company processes, so it’s helpful to ask about company structure, how decisions get made, how information flows to my position.

      When interviewing with people who work closely with the position, I think about how easy they are to talk to, how clear their explanations are, does their info align with everyone else’s (meaning they see the position the same way, information is flowing vs. siloed), how do they communicate basically.

      My job can be made much easier or harder based on how easy it is to get clear information from people so using the interview itself as a method has proved well so far.

  2. Counting the days*

    My work has been dragging out endless layoffs and restructuring since the beginning of 2022. The company is in constant chaos, and I am mentally exhausted from the stress. People are quitting left and right, projects are being reassigned over and over, and we’re all just spinning our wheels in the mud.

    I am not fully vested until December 1, which means that if I find another job, I will leave a large chunk of money/benefits on the table (high five figures). I made myself an advent calendar, counting down the days until October 1. As of that date, I will be “safe” for vesting, because they are required to give us 60-day layoff notice per the WARN act.

    I like what I do, and I like my team. But I’m finding it impossible to function in this environment, partially due to the effect it’s having on my mental health, and partly because we can’t get anything accomplished without key people leaving constantly. This is making me chronically unwell (vestibular migraines, sleep problems, GERD flares) and I’m struggling to see how I’m going to make it until the fall. Even if I was willing to give up the vesting (which I’m not, that’s a huge chunk of my retirement) the job market is bleak and I’m not seeing much in my wheelhouse.

    1. Goddess47*

      Take your PTO strategically. If you can do PTO in hourly increments, go home early, come in late, take a long lunch. Whatever you can do to breathe.

      Find one little (and really little) project that you can complete and hang your hat on that. Something that you, and your team, can complete and both tick of your own list but to show the illusion of value so that you’re (hopefully) less likely to get laid off.

      Hang in there… come back here as you need and we can at least provide moral support!

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Wednesdays are also great for PTO as you’re always rolling off or on to a day off.

        1. Ama*

          When I’m in the totally stressed out mental exhaustion place with work, I find Tuesdays and or Wednesdays great days to take a sick day. You have plenty of time to pick up anything that comes in that day and not having to do more than 2-3 work days in a row can be almost as helpful as the day off.

          I’ve also in the past just added one day to any long weekend already built into the calendar — it’s amazing how much more restful a four-day weekend is than a three-day one.

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

      So sorry you’re in that situation. Work stress can be the worst stress when you’re in an untenable situation. When I was in a stressful work situation that was giving me constant panic attacks but that I couldn’t really leave, I required chemical assistance — a year of Lexapro knocked out the panic attacks and made me just care a lot less about the nonsense at work. (It had some not-great side effects, so I don’t think I would take it again, but at the time, it was what I needed to survive.)

      I love the advent calendar idea — you can see tangible progress towards the date of vesting! I wonder if you could pick up some real advent calendars that come with little treats — like, there’s one with little jars of jam — and put the treats in your homemade advent calendars to give yourself a little reward every day for making it through the day for the next 115 or so days?

      And if your work pulls some nonsense like laying you off close to the deadline to avoid your vesting, maybe go talk with an employment lawyer? Good luck!

    3. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      Have you already started the prep work to look for another job? If the job market in your sector is bleak, it’s probably worth it to go ahead and get your resume in order and start looking at applying to jobs, especially if you’re in a field that asks for cover letters. Sometimes focusing on what you’re doing to get out can help you get over that hump.

      But also, if you’re that stressed, do you have some PTO you can use? Or can you shift your hours to help with the sleep problems? Do whatever you can to be kind to yourself.

    4. SansaStark*

      Would it help to radically embrace the idea that you’re not going to get anything accomplished at work? What you ARE going to accomplish is to get vested (i.e. keep this job until Dec 1)? So you’re not trying to get XYZ project or ABC process implemented? You’re just ticking off days and getting done whatever you can get done that particular day? This chaos is unlikely to change and it sounds like you’re just kind of a victim to it, so do what you need to do to just make it through the day until you’re fully vested.

      I also agree with the commenters about doing the prep work to start looking for another job and using your PTO strategically.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        I agree with this. If it will help, read Catch-22 by Joseph Heller and know you’re not alone in dealing with a mind-numbing environment where progress is impossible. It might hit too close to home, so another strategy is to play nature documentary narrator. Instead of “the watering hole has dried up, will the meerkat colony survive?” it’s “the project manager has been laid off and no one knows where the latest files were stored. Can Counting the days find the files, or is this the end of the TPS project?”

        1. SansaStark*

          That’s such a great idea! I read that in a vaguely British documentary-type voice and it was hilarious and may help to take emotion out of it.

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

      For layoffs, and especially if they are asking for volunteers to quit in order to limit their unemployment liability, is there any wiggle room on negotiating a severance? You could try to negotiate early vesting (since it’s only a few months) as part of the deal that you volunteer to leave and not claim unemployment while you look for a new job — if that is your primary concern.

    6. Warrant Officer Georgiana Breakspear-Goldfinch*

      Oh I feel you, friend, I was at a place that was awful for my mental health and I set my browser homepage to the countdown to my vesting date. And I made it! I called my boss at 9:15am on Vesting Day and resigned and it was sweet. I promise you the time will pass.

      I do recommend spending time now on spiffing up your résumé and cover letter so that when you can leave, you can hit the ground running with finding a new job.

    7. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Lying Around*

      I’m in a similar situation, in that leadership has been d r a g g i n g out a change that should have been (in hindsight) a clean break instead. Same chaos, people quitting, can’t get projects done, etc. Like you, quitting would be very, very expensive. I am playing the strategic PTO game best I can, but mostly: I’m trying not to care. I want to care enough to deliver good work and not one iota more. Super challenging. Doing lotsxof breath work.

    8. Qwerty*

      If you found out today that you were going to be laid off, what would you do? Build a plan around that. That way you aren’t in fear or anxious about them – mentally process it ahead of time which makes it easier to ride out the crazy and perform whatever lip service you need to in order to stay employed.

      You are going to drop some balls at work. Knowing that, how do you make sure that you’re catching the ones that important to the higher ups? In a chaotic company, this often is the same as determining which ones are the most important. Your goal is to keep the bosses happy so you can make it to the end of the year.

  3. Me*

    I’m thinking both work: whether it will be challenging but also culture. I find people are hesitant to be honest about culture issues

  4. Elle*

    We must put a stop to virtual two hour meetings that start at noon. When and where am I supposed to eat lunch? My desk is in my bedroom. It’s very disruptive.

    1. Magenta*

      How much do you need to participate? Are cameras required?
      If you don’t need to be on camera you could make lunch ahead of time and grab it just before the meeting starts to eat at some point during the meeting.
      If cameras are required could you push back on either the time or the cameras?

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Cameras are required in smaller meetings at my organization. BUT people have no problem turning them off & typing in chat that they are eating or preparing their lunch.

    2. Triplestep*

      Normalize being off camera. Hopefully you have a laptop you can take to wherever you can eat and stay off mic while chewing.

      1. CheeryO*

        Yep, if you have any capital whatsoever, turn the camera off and if called out, be direct and say that you’re eating lunch and wanted to spare your coworkers having to watch you eat. Your less brave coworkers who are sitting there starving will probably be grateful to see the boundary placed.

      2. Meep*

        I mentioned this below, but if your boss is a stickler for cameras being on, I found sticking a piece of tape over your camera makes your camera look really, really blurry but makes you still “visible”. They won’t want to spend money fixing the camera so they will most likely let you turn off the camera.

        Petty, but sometimes you got to do it.

        1. the cat's pajamas*

          Haha that’s a good one. You could try being on camera at the beginning and then shutting it off a few minutes later and say you’re eating lunch, maybe pause eating and turn it back on later if you have to talk for a bit in the meeting. That can help with feeling connected but not being on camera the whole time. Good luck.

          1. Little Beans*

            I do this all the time, even when it’s not lunch time because I often am not hungry at noon and eat at weird times. If it’s a smaller meeting, I start with camera on for the first few minutes, then just put a chat saying that I’m going to turn off my camera while I’m eating but I’m still here, and then turn it back on once I’m done. In larger meetings, there are usually enough people with cameras off anyway and it doesn’t matter.

    3. Hotdog not dog*

      agreed! Yesterday I got stuck with an 11, a 12, a 1 and a 4. All mandatory, and none helpful in the least.

    4. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      “My wifi is weak so I’m turning the camera off” But also, ugh! My work has a semi-official policy against meetings from 12-2 which I’m grateful for.

      1. There You Are*

        On at least three occasions, I have hovered my mouse directly over the “camera off” button right before I start talking. Then, mid-sentence, I appear to freeze. I hold my open-mouth position for a second or two and then click the “camera off” button. The whole point of having my mouse already over the button is so that I don’t have to so much as flick my eyes a millimeter to make sure I’m in the right spot to cut the camera.

        I then drop off the call and immediately rejoin, saying that my wifi doesn’t seem to be able to handle the camera feed at the moment, and stay off camera for the rest of the call.

        This works best when someone is sharing their screen and all the video feeds of people’s faces are small boxes to the top or the side.

    5. mouse*

      Agreed! I would also like to see a reduction in meetings of that length in general. A lot of the time meetings of that length are filled with bloat and little substance. If they need to be that long there needs to be clear agenda and a chair committed to moving people through it.

      1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

        My sister’s boss like to call 2 hour meetings for 10:30. They often last 3-4 hours. She insists every time that THIS one won’t do that.

      2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        I used to be on a committee with someone who was excellent at leading meetings (I think she is a project manager). Cheerful but firm at cutting off tangents and mission creep, and VERY FIRM about the end time of meetings and arranging the agenda in the right order so we’d get through everything in time.

        Best meetings I’ve ever been in.

    6. ScruffyInternHerder*

      Since I am also over them:

      During the meeting. On camera. They scheduled a lunch meeting, they’re getting a lunch meeting.

      Okay, I do not REALLY suggest doing this, but since a last minute one cropped up on my schedule, I’m in a real mood about this nonsense. ::garumph::

      1. There's a G&T with my name on it*

        Love it! Clear the keyboard out the way and lay a silver service place on your desk. Dine in style and let everyone else look on enviously as you tuck your napkin in your collar and savour your feast.

        (I am also not being serious, but if it ever gets to this state, share the screenshots with us!)

          1. MJ*

            Saw this happen during a Covid lockdown TV interview. The woman being interviewed is married to the actor who played the butler in Downton Abbey. He brought her a drink (tea?) in the middle of the interview, dressed as a formal butler – until he moved so you could see he was wearing casual shorts. :)

    7. Elle*

      Our office has a cameras on policy. And I hate eating lunch before noon. I’m always starving a couple of hours later.

      1. CatLady*

        If you have a cameras-on policy and they make a lunch meeting then simply eat. Leaving the mic on while you chew is optional (and petty but sometimes petty is required). If they complain that you are eating tell them too bad so sad in fun and creative ways. My favorite is – I need to eat or Hangry CatLady will appear and you don’t want to meet Hangry CatLady. So if you insist on scheduling during my lunch then I will insist on eating.

        ….adjust above text according to how much you want to piss the person off ;-)

        1. Triplestep*

          Don’t chew on mic. You’ll be subjecting everyone on the call to it and only one person set the time of the meeting.

      2. J*

        I know my old company had a cameras on policy until a person demolished a sub sandwich vertically on a call. I wasn’t even working there by then but it’s that legendary of a power move that I’ve heard about it from several coworker friends who stayed longer than I did.

    8. Maggie*

      Can you not turn your camera off and eat? Bring the food to your desk, or bring the computer to your kitchen or take the meeting on a mobile device or laptop.

    9. M*

      I’m in a different timezone than almost everyone I work with so sometimes this just happens to me despite everyone’s best intentions. Blocking off everyone’s lunch just isn’t practical.

      I don’t make a stink about eating lunch but by golly I do eat it. With these smaller meetings I’ll say that I’m turning camera off to eat and then turn it back on when I’m done. A bigger meeting I just do it and don’t say anything (in my org there are more people off camera for these meetings than on camera).

      And then when I’m counting my hours I count my lunch as (paid) meeting time.

      1. IT project manager*

        Exactly! I try not to schedule meetings at noon but I’m in pacific time, and work with people in Mountain, Central and East coast time zones, it’s just not possible to avoid all lunch hours, especially when you take into account that some people like to start lunch at 11:30, some noon and some 12:30. I just change my lunch time according to my schedule as do my coworkers.

    10. Meep*

      I had a manager who would trap me in a conference room from 10 am to 3-4 pm to do her work. When we went virtual and she could no longer do that, I stuck a piece of tape over my camera for awhile. Then if she “asked” (demanded) for me to turn my camera on, she usually let me turn it off because it annoyed her more. Allowed me to just be on my phone or do actual work because none of her rants, I mean meetings, were work-related in the slightest.

    11. Llama Llama*

      I have blocked my calendar from 12-1 daily. This has made about a 10% reduction in people scheduling calls during that time. For the others, if it’s within my team, I decline as I wasn’t available during that time. I f they truly needed me, they would have scheduled during a time I was available.

      Signed, someone who literally had 17 meetings on their calendar yesterday and a 1hr impromptu call.

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

      Agreed! But… for my job in higher ed, lunch meetings are pretty standard because that tends to be the time that many faculty members are even available, unless I want to load up my Friday with meetings (nope) because there are fewer classes on Fridays. I don’t think we have a formal policy about cameras, but I’ve noticed that any meeting with more than 3 people, there is usually someone who only turns on their camera if they are speaking and camera off the rest of the time.

    13. DannyG*

      An alternative I’ve developed in 42 years of acute care: the “well rounded lunch”: grapes, cherry tomatoes, olives, cheese chunks, small pepperoni slices, nuts, combos, Reece Pieces, etc. I.E. anything that can be eaten one piece at a time, usually in passing. This will at least keep you going until you can take an actual break.

    14. may spring rain*

      Eat lunch at 11:30 and then have a snack when the meeting is over. Pretty simple.

    15. Nancy*

      Eat at 11:30 and have a snack at 2pm if you are hungry again on the day you have a meeting at that time.

      Sometimes that is truly the best time.

    16. Art Soplo*

      “When and where am I supposed to eat lunch? My desk is in my bedroom.”

      Eat before noon, during the meeting, or after the meeting? Eat at your desk???

      I get that we can’t always control what grinds our gears about work but compared to say, being unemployed or stuck in a truly crappy job…this is very much a non-problem. Do you never have meetings with people in different time zones from you? That “noontime” meeting may be their dinnertime, or breakfast time.

  5. Called Birdy*

    This week I was invited to interview for a federal civil service job 24 hours before the interview and assigned a time slot. Due to a scheduling conflict, I couldn’t make it, so I asked about other interview times. They said that there weren’t any. Red flags to me, but why would the hiring team, or the gatekeeper scheduling the interviews, do this?

    1. Bagpuss*

      Is it the kind of job where they have a panel doing the interview and can only get them together once?
      It sucks that they only gave you 24 hours notice so you had no time to rearrange your other commitments.

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      They do this in our state Civil Service as well. A lot of hurry up and wait and then hurry again built into the process. And often they’ve got someone they want to hire so they don’t make huge efforts to be accommodating. Luckily sometimes virtual interviews can sidestep some of the scheduling issues.

      1. Called Birdy*

        That’s what I’m thinking, that they already had a top candidate in mind and the rest of the interviewees would be filler.

    3. AnonPi*

      My guess in part is they have limited availability when all of the interview panelists can meet at the same time. Still, to have such a rigid schedule and on short notice should not be the norm even for government offices. They may only have 3 time slots and that’s it, but usually they can offer a few options and give more notice than that. I’d consider it at least a minor red flag in how they operate.

    4. Chaordic One*

      This is typical for federal civil service jobs and probably not a red flag. Sometimes it is policy and the HR drones setting up the interviews don’t have any flexibility. It is a take it or leave it proposition. The explanation offered by AnonPi is a very probable possibility. Often the individual members of the hiring team are very tightly and rigidly scheduled with other job tasks and not really available to do interviews at other times.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Yup. It’s also common in the UK public sector. My interview with a hospital last year was scheduled in the same rather abrupt manner as they’d schedule a hospital appointment. I’m currently managed by a government-owned company that is linked with the NHS and they were far more flexible about interview scheduling.

        I also got instantly rejected when I talked to someone at work about an IT helpdesk job and said I would be on holiday on the interview date (like not just having time off but going down to Cornwall with my then-boyfriend’s family for the first time). They couldn’t budge on the date, the discussion was over and I didn’t even apply. It’s just how the NHS works.

        24 hours notice isn’t good, though. I did get a week in the above hospital situation, I have decent AL so could take the day off, and the payoff from doing them all on the same day was that they could get back to me that evening with feedback because they’d done all the interviews on a single day. It took two weeks for the internal interview I attended to get back to me with a rejection and feedback, but I wasn’t too offended by that because they’d been super flexible with finding an interview time, allowed me to do it on Teams and on the clock and even loaning me a laptop since my Reception terminal doesn’t have sound or a webcam and is, like, on the front desk in full view of everyone else, and said up front that they had more interviews that week after mine on the Wednesday. I did have to nudge my contact in recruitment but I’m guessing they prioritized the person who actually got the job rather than those who didn’t and were in the process of circling back.

        So if that was the trade-off it wasn’t a bad one. In my case, I kind of knew I didn’t get it because I’m suffering from a lack of experience and chronic underemployment, and my supervisors at work are being very good but very slow about arranging ways to get me that experience on the job here (since my supervisor and colleague CBA to do anything but coast towards retirement, but I’ve still got a substantial portion of my working life to go and am starting to become depressed by the idleness at work which is exacerbated by an autistic mind which can ruminate on things way beyond my control). I also have another public sector interview later this month for a medical equipment distribution centre (Hampshire County Council) within walking distance of my house. Again, the day was fairly fixed according to the recruiter, but they could be flexible on time.

        I do think you have to be a bit agile when you’re job searching. I’ve decided not to go to my regular scifi con this year because I don’t want to suddenly get opportunities that I can’t take up like with the IT position I went for, and anyway it’s a weekend in November in one of the wettest parts of the UK (one year it was impossible to even go outside the hotel because of a massive storm) that costs upwards of £500 all in, so tbh I’m getting a bit jaded with it anyway. But yeah, 24h notice on a rigidly defined interview is taking the [pfft].

        Good luck with the job search though, OP. Solidarity fist-bump from me, and nil illegitimi carborundum — don’t let the [proverbials] grind you down.

  6. my cat is prettier than me*

    I just took over filling out “paperwork” (it’s all digital) for reimbursements. In order to complete this, I need the receipt/invoice. There are charges that hit at the same time every month, but I have to chase down several different people in order to the invoices. Apparently, that is what the person who handled this before me had to do. Every month. Multiple charges. Multiple people. This is my first month and I’m already going insane. It’s just horribly inefficient and there’s really nothing I can do about it.

    1. Bagpuss*

      Could you send out one group email reminding people of the deadline and then *not* chase? If it’s personal reimbursements, then maybe not getting paid the money and having to wait until the following month might focus people’s minds.

      If they are regulars invoices from outside organizations, could you request they they are cc’d to you at the outset? For instance, there’s one regular bill we get which comes to me, and which I do need to see, but the email sending it is cc’d to accounts who take care of actually ensuring it is paid.

    2. Goddess47*

      Stop chasing. Announce ‘a new process’ (okay, you probably should involve at least your supervisor) and tell the folk that reimbursement requests/paperwork/whatever have to be in by date X and you will process what you have. A couple of rounds of not getting reimbursed will cure 95% of the need to chase.

      And/or see what you can do to have charges sent directly to you. Company credit cards where the billing comes to you can be your friend.

      Talk to your IT folk (if you have an IT). Maybe there’s something in your company software that will help in the automation.

      Use the email to schedule automated reminders… On date X, an initial reminder. On date X+7, a second reminder. On date X+14, a final reminder.

      Good luck!

      1. my cat is prettier than me*

        Thanks! I’m pretty junior in the company, so I don’t really have the power to make a new policy. I am also not in the accounting department. My boss has agreed that this process is ridiculous, so hopefully together we can push for something better.

        1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

          You can be junior in the company and still have power over your own role and your own process. If your boss approves doing this, then you’d be borrowing their power to set the policy.

          Any idea what the barriers are? Is it easy for people to upload their receipts? Could they take a photo of the receipt and send it to you?

      2. debbietrash*

        Hard agree with this. For my job credit card reconciliation looks like this:
        1. I pull the statements and send to the relevant folks, asking for all receipts and invoices by [date] (I say a week before everything needs to be submitted so if I have to chase, I have time)
        2. When receipts are received, I double check everything’s accounted for. If not, I let folks know.
        3. Collate, get signatures, submit.
        4. If things are overdue, I let the relevant folks know. After that, it’s on them to get things to me so their card isn’t locked.
        How each team sorts and handles purchasing/storing receipts/etc. is up to them. I just need them in my inbox by X date. Recently the point person for one team tried to pull me into their staff not providing receipts on time. I pushed back and said “No, this is your circus, you need to get them in line”. The end.

        As for reimbursements, I’m currently working on a soft “how-to” guide that I can send folks so I’m not constantly repeating myself (there’s frequent turnover as I work with students). Maybe a similar project (time allowing) will help you with setting expectations of who does what for reimbursements, timelines, and reduce your headaches.

    3. Lynn*

      It seems if this is now yours, you’d be allowed to find a more efficient system.

      If process change is truly off the table, email templates and a set time each week/month to send them! Then at least it can live in your brain as a single task rather than as the cat-herding kind of process it sounds like it is now.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Yeah, been there done that. I set up spreadsheets for tracking numbers shared between the teams who needed it against my colleague’s perpetual moaning about how she doesn’t understand computers. I was starting to drown in paper that none of the teams involved were collecting and they were unable to access the data in a timely manner (mostly because they didn’t come and collect their own receipts but yeah, we got blamed for letting it pile up so the fault was mutual).

        The thing is that my colleague refused to participate in filling out my spreadsheets and like usual stubbornly went on writing things out. I took a few days off and started worrying that when the teams made a fuss about the numbers not being uploaded electronically I’d be sacked for taking the initiative on this. I’d reached that point where I needed a holiday and wasn’t thinking straight due to exhausting my spoons, but once I was off, my thoughts straightened out a bit.

        So to be sacked here I’d have to go through disciplinary processes. I’ve never been so much as written up so they’d have to start from scratch. Moreover, my supervisor couldn’t do the honours; she’d have to go to our line manager. And what was she gonna say? Gytha created new spreadsheets to streamline an unwieldy procedure that has resulted in a tidier reception, happier internal customers and less paper usage (because we’re supposed to have a paperless goal under our new management, which is an absurdity in itself but a story for another day).

        That was when I could relax. I do have to have peace and quiet to think these things through, but when I could see how absurd the idea of getting in trouble for improving a process was, I relaxed. My colleague still doesn’t bother with the spreadsheet because she’s still an unreconstructed Luddite, but actually her perspective about over-computerisation is part of the diversity of our team and means she’s often the one to connect with people in person, so it works for her.

    4. Pluto*

      See if the vendor can add your email address to the invoice so that you’re not relying on your coworkers to forward it to you

      1. Hillary*

        Yes! Call them, ask for AR, and ask them to add your email to the account for billing purposes. Most of them are very happy to do it, it makes their lives easier.

        Or if their company cards ask if an invoicing email can be created. accountspayable@company dot com or whatever, then call the vendors and get all the email addresses changes. Your internal folks shouldn’t have to deal with this administrivia, really, you’re doing them a favor. ;-)

        Alternatively, if they’re coming in electronically from the same companies every month, ask your internal customers to set up outlook rules to auto-forward them to you. Again, less administrivia for them.

    5. Not SueEllen*

      I was in your situation 15+ years ago. People would stand in front of my desk dumping crumpled receipts onto it & walk away! Often the same day I needed to get the completed, signed forms to payables. It was maddening.

      In the end I reminded people when the deadline was. When they missed the deadline, they didn’t get reimbursed until the next period (every 2 weeks). That solved most problems.

      There were a few diehards that made it into a power struggle but I didn’t play. I just apologized & explained it would be processed “next time”. I also lied about a previous office that wouldn’t even accept expense reports 30 days late & I was really glad not to work there any more.

      Don’t chase people down, let them know when you need it in order for them to get reimbursed. You can be apologetic that their reimbursement is going to be late when they miss the deadline. You don’t have to sweat this out with them.

    6. Llama Llama*

      Is there a possibility to eliminate the middle man and just pull the invoices yourself?

    7. Industry Behemoth*

      Do what you can, but there may be a limit to getting yourself auto-copied directly on invoices and receipts. Some vendors may not be equipped to do that. Or privacy considerations may not allow them to send these to anyone other than the person.

      Even in the technology age, there still will always be a certain level of DIY. With the possible exception of the C-suite, people need to realize that and then do it. If an email was sent to only X and other people need to see it, then X needs to forward it.

  7. GigglyPuff*

    Ugh why does it feel so weird to apply to a place a second time, where you were a finalist with only positive feedback but weren’t selected?

    I know people do this all the time, someone just got hired at my current workplace that applied to multiple open positions. But I’ve never applied to the same place twice.

    Applied for a specialized position at a university, loved everything about the place and people, one of the best interviews I had. Obviously didn’t get the position, then a generalist position was posted and while I don’t have every qualification, going to apply for it. But it feels so weird, especially since some of the same people might be on the hiring committee or having to do another workplace wide presentation (if I get that far again)…

    1. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      It totally makes sense that it feels weird – our brains try to avoid situations we’ll be rejected, and even if the first job application had a great interview, you’d instintively want to avoid the place when you didn’t get the offer. But logically you know it’s actually a good sign. And everything about job hunting is weird and unnatural. Good luck!

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

      I know it’s kinda weird, but please go for it! There may well be people on that hiring committee who were pushing for you the last time or wishing that they could have hired one more person (you!) the last time and who would be utterly delighted if you applied again.

      Having been someone who had a LOT of rejection for academic jobs (as you do in cruddy job markets) before finally landing one, I used to think that not getting the job had something to do with some kind of flaw in me.

      Finally being on the other side on academic hiring committees showed me, however, that there are a TON of wonderful qualified candidates for every job, that we can’t hire them all for one position, that the one we DO hire is generally the one about whom we can best reach consensus on that particular day as the “best fit” for that exact position, and that there is definitely an element of sheer randomness to who exactly gets hired when you’re dealing with that many awesome candidates.

      Go forth and be fabulous! : )

    3. ferrina*

      It’s a really good thing to do. From the company angle, it means that you’re as excited about them as they are about you. I’ve had a candidate apply to a second role after applying to a first one. As hiring manager, I was so happy- he was a perfect fit for the second position, and since I was already familiar with him, it was the easiest hire I ever made.
      Even if this second position isn’t a perfect fit, the company will be happy to keep you in contact for a time when there is the right fit.

    4. SansaStark*

      I totally get that it feels weird but also remember that hiring managers may be looking for different things at different times. Last year, I was looking to fill a position and I knew that I needed someone with Y experience. This year I was hiring for the same position and now that I have Y, I can look for Z to complement the current team. You might be the perfect fit now!

    5. Aggretsuko*

      I’ve tried this but didn’t even get interviewed the second time. I guess I was THAT bad :/
      You can try it, but have low expectations, let me put it that way.

    6. uncivil servant*

      I applied to a job at my current organization. I interviewed and was rejected as unqualified. This is a public sector organization where you can be placed into a pool of qualified candidates even if you’re not hired – and I wasn’t! I was straight up rejected, and it was for a personal attribute, not something tangible like not having the right degree.

      A year and a half later I applied for another position in the same very small section of the organization. I don’t know where I got the nerve other than that in a huge bureaucracy, applications feel very impersonal. Anyway, I was hired, I love it, and my manager loves me. I do suspect that he wasn’t the one who scored me down in the first round of interviews, which is something else to consider – some of the hiring committee members may have been in favour of you the first time round.

      Good luck!

    7. Woop Woop*

      Omgosh, I have applied to our local university SO many times. They just happen to have a lot of jobs throughout the university in my field. In fact, I’ve applied to a single department at least 5 times lol. There’s a lot for my field and they are all very similar positions!

      I was a finalist for a position in that department about a year ago, and just now am interviewing again for a different position in the department. When the HR rep emailed me to schedule an interview, she started it out with “Thank you for your continued interest in [department] at [university]!” I laughed out loud and forwarded it to my husband because I thought it was hilarious lol

    8. Llama Groomer Coordinator*

      As someone who’s staffed search committees, I can say that if you were a good interviewee, chances are that the search committee will be excited to see your application again! Go for it :)

    9. Hanani*

      I’m on a hiring committee right now where multiple candidates have been really strong. Happily, we will actually be hiring for a couple more positions soon, and will send messages inviting those we can’t hire this round to apply. We’re legitimately excited about multiple people, and any of them
      would surely succeed at the job, but we can only hire one of them for this position.

      Apply again! It’s weird, but when you’re a finalist with lots of positive comments, that means they want to hire you.

    10. FaintlyMacabre*

      Been there, done that more than once, got hired once, didn’t get hired more than once. I totally hear you on the awkward, but having had a good interview experience with them previously is a good sign. Otherwise, it’s the same as any other interview. Go forth and apply, and good luck!

    11. Still*

      Of course it feels a little weird, but I actually think it might increase your chances! If it’s some of the same people, you’ve already made a good impression and have build a bit of a rapport. Good luck!

    12. Little Beans*

      Agreed it feels weird!! I once got hired somewhere after multiple attempts, and ended up working closely with 2 people who’d been chosen over me for previous roles. We got along fine but it was always just like 0.1% awkward.

    13. Pam Adams*

      I assisted in interviewing someone a month or so back for position A. They weren’t right for it, but I was really glad to see the announcement that they were just hired for Position B.
      This is common in higher ed hiring.

    14. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      One of the best interviews I ever did was as the external panel member for a position at my previous uni – the candidate came in with a huge smile saying it was great to see us all again, everyone else remembered her fondly, she got the job.

  8. inaquandry*

    Does anyone have a script for asking for support/accomodations at work following a bereavement when I can offer no concrete suggestions to my manager myself?

    I was bereaved at the start of April. My work was very good about giving me time off both before and after the funeral (around 4 weeks total, taken at different times, all paid) and I am having grief counselling.

    The reality is that I have been doing less than phoning it in for weeks now. I am sitting at my desk doing squat day in day out. This is our quiet season and I have the lightest possible workload for my role – a lot of rote administration and simple tasks. A senior manager (not my direct manager) recently talked to me about how far behind I was on one of my routine tasks. He handled it 100% appropriately and it was a fair criticism.

    I know I need to speak to my direct manager about the balls I have been dropping – if for no other reason than to own my mistakes before another person spots them. The problem is I have no solutions or strategies for getting back on track to offer. Just turning up to work each day and getting maybe a hour’s worth of work done feels like the limit of my capabiltiies right now. Ordinarily I would ask for some time off to get my head straight but a) I have had A LOT of time off recently and b) no one else can do my job so the work would pile up in my absence, compounding the problem (this happens during holidays too but with good forward planning ahead of being away I have always kept on top of things). I also don’t feel like I can ask for any of my tasks to be re-assigned as there are currently so few to begin with. It would feel like being asked to get paid while someone else does my job.

    Am I over-thinking things? Are there other solutions that I have overlooked? I don’t want any conversation with my manager to feel like I’m asking for them to manage my feelings rather than my work but I just don’t know how to proceed.

    1. Ali G*

      What about some unpaid leave or intermittent FMLA? You could work on a reduced schedule and only focus on the most important tasks, while slowly working up to full time again.
      If you knew you only had to work 2 days a week and get 5 things done during that time, could you do it? Would that help you get your brain back in shape?

    2. OtterB*

      I am sorry for your loss.

      Would it help and would it be feasible to arrange to be part time for a while? Maybe that would let you get the minimum done so things don’t fall further behind, but still have some more time without demands.

    3. Siege*

      I mean this in the nicest possible way, though I’m certain it won’t come off that way, but if you’re able to do so little at work right now, there’s no harm in telling your boss that actually, you need another week or two weeks off, because you’re basically taking that time off now anyway. Can you talk with your grief counselor and come up with a reasonable plan where you maybe have an extra session or two with her during a week off? Could you file for FMLA (I don’t know whether it covers mental health) to make it feel less like you’re being paid for something you don’t deserve? And can you then work with your boss to create a ramp-up plan with a defined set of steps to get you back to full workload in a timeframe you and your grief counselor think is reasonable? I’m thinking something like “I will take back the *most urgent* tasks by July 1, then have X other tasks back on my plate by August 1, with a goal of being at a full workload by September 1,” or whatever makes sense in your situation.

      I generally find that giving my boss a heads up about something I’m seeing that affects how I’m working is helpful to her (even if she doesn’t see it that way at the time) because she can give flexibility a lot better, due to her personality, if she’s not blindsided by things, and it helps me to start thinking about how I’m going to proceed and what my needs are.

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. It sounds like it sucks.

    4. ferrina*

      Have you talked to a doctor? This might be a situation where medication can help.
      I developed Major Depressive Disorder (depression) after a devastating personal situation. My symptoms were exhaustion and brain fog (I was sad and anxious, but that was a normal response to my situation). I could barely function and by 2pm had run out of energy for the day. My doctor helped me find an anti-depressant that was right for me. It wasn’t a magic fix, but it gave me enough energy to get through the day. It gave me that little boost I needed to deal with the rest of the issues myself.

      A doctor can also help you with FMLA documentation if that’s a good route for you. If you do go on medication, you might be able to go on short-term disability while the medication is starting to take affect (anti-depressants can take a few weeks to work, and it can take a couple tries to find the right one. My doctor found the right meds at the right dose on the first try and I felt the effects in a couple weeks, with about 4-6 weeks for the full effect. Again, not a silver bullet, but it’s like using crutches when you break your leg- a necessary support to prevent further damage while you heal)

      1. Onomatopoetic*

        Seconding this. I had some time off after a bereavement (and a lot of flexibility before that) and thought I was ready to get back to work. Turned out I wasn’t. I ended up crying every day, interspeared with angry outbursts. I didn’t get anything done. I ended up with a lot of minus hours and really bad mental health. My natural grief had turned into a depression. I got medicated and after some more time off it got better.

        I’m so sorry for your loss.

    5. Sharon*

      Accommodations are for when you can do the job if certain conditions are met. However, it sounds like your mental health is such that you are NOT able to fulfill the key responsibilities of your job now, even with accommodations. Explore your leave options, including FMLA or medical leave.

      It might be helpful to think about how you’d handle this if a physical health problem such as a bad accident or cancer treatment meant you were no longer able to do your job for an unknown amount of time in the future, and handle it the same way.

    6. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      First, I’m sorry for your loss. I’ve been there. I almost got fired from my job because I kept calling out “sick” for months after my loss. Don’t be me. Use your words.

      “a) I have had A LOT of time off recently” <– This doesn't matter. If you need it, you need it. That's why leave exists, to be used.

      "b) no one else can do my job so the work would pile up in my absence, compounding the problem" <– This is your company's fault. There should always be a back up. What if you won the lottery and left tomorrow? They'd figure it out.

      "I also don’t feel like I can ask for any of my tasks to be re-assigned as there are currently so few to begin with." <– This is phrased as a feeling, rather than a fact, so I'm assuming it is not true. I mean, either there are tasks or there aren't tasks. Would having even more removed help? If so, ask for that.

      "It would feel like being asked to get paid while someone else does my job." <– This is also a feeling, rather than a fact. You would be getting paid while on leave, which is the same thing that happens if you go on vacation. You already get paid 24/365 although you don't work 24/365. I assume you don't feel guilty about taking weekends/evenings/vacations, so this is some stuff you're telling yourself about how depression/grief doesn't count. I think you need to talk to your therapist about this self-talk. And likely take a block of time off.

    7. Sparkle Llama*

      I wonder if you could accomplish more if you worked half days. It might feel more manageable to only have to physically be there for 4 hours instead of 8 and you might be able to do more work.

    8. GGGGGG*

      I’m sorry for your loss. This is still very fresh and it’s absolutely normal that you are not able to get much work done yet.
      When my first husband passed away suddenly, I went back to work fairly quickly because I wanted the distraction of not being alone in my empty house, but probably didn’t get more than an hour’s worth of work done each day for a while. I think a conversation with your manager stating that you are aware that things are slipping through the cracks and you’re doing the best you can should be enough. I don’t think you need to offer solutions at this point.
      You can also work with your grief counselor on strategies for work. On a more personal note, you may want to consider joining a bereavement support group. I did both a support group and grief counseling, and the support group was extremely helpful in helping to navigate the “new normal”, including at work.

      1. DannyG*

        I also found working with a grief support group helpful when my first wife passed away

    9. Lasuna*

      I agree with other commenters that intermittent FMLA is likely your best option if you are eligible for it.

      I recommend asking your grief counselor for suggestions on other accomodations you could request before going to your manager. If you absolutely have to go to your manager with no suggestions, I would use a framing like, “What kind of accomodations has the company been able to offer in the past?” This gets away from putting your manager in a position of managing your specific symptoms and keeps it more focused on the work.

      I’m sure managers have a range of opinions on this, but personally as a manager I struggle when people come to me needing an accommodation, but having no idea what they need. I have a background in mental health, but my reports are not my patients and these conversations can blur those boundaries, especially when they focus on managing the symptoms, as opposed to the work impact. Having strictly work related (not symptom related) conversations about what accomodations are possible/giving my reports ideas to discuss with their clinician(s) feels much more appropriate to me, so that’s where I recommend focusing the conversation. That said, the right way to handle this will depend on your manager.

      I’m sorry for your loss.

    10. Chipmunk*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. <3

      I’ll second, third, fourth the recommendation for FMLA. Speak with your dr and possibly a psychiatrist and see about adding meds to your therapy and taking FMLA while getting this all sorted out.

      Meds won’t make you stop grieving, but they will hopefully allow you to do more than just the bare minimum in your life.

      There was a study (probably many) that showed that antidepressants are effective for situational depression AND long term chronic depression (which is a chemical imbalance in the brain.)

    11. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

      All the other suggestions here are good ones, but I’m going to add one in case there’s literally no way you can take more time off (though definitely look into FMLA– I have a close friend who recently got a couple months covered by it after losing his mother): bilateral physical movement has a proven effect on helping with recovery from trauma/grief. I know for me after I lost my father quite young, I obsessively swam laps and walked on an elliptical at the gym because it was the only thing that seemed to help give me some peace to make it through the day. If you have access to an under-desk pedaling device, or even a standing desk-with-treadmill, or can arrange to do more work remotely and be one of those slightly insufferable people who attend meetings from the treadmill at the gym, or at the very least schedule a longer lunch break that allows you to get in a good walk (ideally something monotonous like climbing stairs in the stairwell), I feel like anything along those lines might be able to help you get through the day. For me, at least, sitting still and quiet is a recipe for sinking deeper and deeper into the tarpit of grief, and while the physical activity doesn’t make the pain go away, it does provide enough of a distraction that I can regain a little bit of functionality.

      Wishing you the best of luck, and even though I’m offering kinda worst-case advice, by all means I think you should advocate strongly for time off because it’s clear that’s what you need. I think language like, “I want to be able to give you my best work, but I’m not capable of that right now,” might be helpful.

      1. Edna Mode*

        The other commenters have great ideas and I’m going to take it in a different direction. Often we think that once we feel better, we’ll be able to be productive, but sometimes being productive helps us feel better! So, could you instead ask for help getting your work done?

        Potential script: “I’ve noticed how distracted I am right now. I think having a ‘focus buddy’ or accountability partner might help. Is there someone who could work closely with me for an hour a day so that I stay on track during that time?”

  9. Put the Blame on Edamame*

    A few months ago I was here in the comments bemoaning burn out, and now I am doing much better, thanks to a couple of things – seeing an excellent career coach, for one, and then telling my boss I wanted to quit only for him to counter-offer with a reduced schedule and tidied up job role. That, plus some holiday, and the end of The Project From Hell has put me in a pretty good spot. Then I learned my boss has quit, and knew he was leaving when he offered me this sweet deal. Worked out great for both of us I guess!

  10. FaintlyMacabre*

    Encouraging stories of starting off badly at a job but doing well after a time (and hopefully sticking around for years and years)?

    I’ve started off really badly at this new job… I’m really kind of burnt out in general and this job is in a new field with a lot to learn. They’ve been really kind and clear about where I need to be (which definitely makes me want to keep working here) and things have improved, but I hate that my first months have felt like a disappointing slog.

    1. Kat*

      I didn’t fully feel “settled” in my previously job for two full years. I don’t know that I did things badly up until then, but sometimes jobs have a LOT of new things to learn and it’s not possible to be perfect straight away! I did the job for 5 years and it was one of my favourite roles, so it did definitely get better!

      1. carcinization*

        Same, actually… I am in my third year at my current job and it’s the first year that I haven’t been significantly behind and feeling clueless. It’s not that I’m slow, it’s just a demanding and complicated job in a byzantine system.

    2. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      I started a new job in a brand new field at the same time I was put on the pill for the first time, and I was a hormonal wreck on top of being utterly unfamiliar with office culture (never worked in one before) and ten years older than all my peers. It went badly- i cried, messed up a huge training project, cried some more, etc.

      About six months in, I’d adjusted and was working fine. I ended up doing great at the role and stayed for 4 years. The fact that you care is a good sign, and while not all jobs are a perfect fit an initial struggle isn’t always a red flag.

    3. ferrina*

      Oh, this sucks. I’m so sorry. It’s so hard to start a new job when you’re already mentally depleted. New jobs come with so much.

      I’ve seen people go through this and thrive, and I’ve seen people be let go. I’ve seen people go through this and continue to struggle. It all really depends on how good a fit a job is for you. If it’s a steep learning curve but you’ve got unique skills and the office and manager are good, you can get through the learning curve and thrive. This usually means you need to pour a lot of energy into it for a while. If you can, minimize the other stuff going on in your life (let your house get a bit messy, get takeout rather than cook, say no to more activities) for a few months so you can pour all your energy into the job.

      I started a new job in the middle of a really awful personal situation. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the energy to pour into my job and my onboarding was really terrible, so I struggled. Bad. I was put onto a PIP (well deserved; I’d already written my own PIP a month before the official one came down). My boss saw my improvement, appreciated that I was taking a lot of steps on my own. In the middle of a bad situation, my professionalism, dedication and self-awareness (and ability to take initiative in a positive way) was really clear. Unbeknownst to me, my boss was talking to other leaders in the organization and they created a job that was a much better fit for my skills. I’ve been at that new role for a couple years now and thriving.

    4. Voluntoldyouso*

      My job is one that requires a lot of different skills and has a lot of moving parts. I found it wasn’t until I’ve been there 6 months that I really felt comfortable that I knew what I was doing, and it wasn’t until I’d been there a couple of years that I felt I really had a handle on this. I’ve been here eight years now and plan to stay for many more. I’m one of the people that holds the hands of new employees while they’re getting their feet on the ground. They’ve also got me teaching a class during our slow season. You’ll get there. Every time you run into something you don’t know how to do yet and then you learn how to do it you are laying one more tile of your foundational knowledge. Which makes each time that happens not something to feel miserable about, but something to feel triumphant about because you have had a success and are building up to greater triumphs. Good luck! You will do great.

    5. Zap R.*

      The thing about new jobs is that you were presumably an expert at the job you left! It’s always going to be jarring to leave a situation where you had all the answers. Think of it like beating one video game and starting a new one with different controls. You may have been Level 200 and had all the legendary weapons and armour at your disposal when you beat Game #1 but at some point, you were a level 3 noob getting your butt handed to you by cave bats and skeletons. You’ll get good at Game #2 too! You’ve just got to be willing to grind. Kill 200 more skeletons and it’ll feel like you were born to play it.

    6. newbie*

      I started a new role about a year ago in a completely new field, so I feel for you – I felt like I was doing awfully for the first six months or so. I was thinking about quitting all the time because I simply didn’t feel like I was able to do the job. Almost to the day, at six months it felt like something shifted – I finally “got” it. That’s not to say I don’t still make mistakes – I do – but they’ve been much less frequent and I finally feel settled as I approach the one year mark. In my case at least, it got much better, even though I felt so disappointed in myself when I first started. I don’t know specifics, but if you hang in there, things may work out!

    7. Serenity by Jan*

      I left a toxic boss and group for something different that was a growth opportunity that looked good on my resume. My Spidey Sense told me the new job might not be a fit but I went for it anyway. I was totally miserable and it was equally as bad as the situation I left, but in different ways. I looked for a new job almost immediately but I was being very selective with the next move and nothing worthwhile was coming my way. I toughed it out and 1.5 years into the job I landed on a great project with excellent management and colleagues along with interesting work. I stayed at that job for the one year duration of that project then my current job fell into my lap. I wound up leaving on a positive note.

      I was surprised the job eventually took a 180, but it did! Best of luck and hopefully it will turn around for you.

    8. Casey*

      It took me at least 6 months to feel like I had any idea what was going on at my current company, and now it’s two years later and I just got promoted! Some places just have a longer onboarding process or are more of a steep learning curve. Definitely keep at it a bit longer and if you’re comfortable, ask people on your team what helped THEM get up to speed.

    9. flipper*

      I developed a chronic illness right after starting a new job and my performance was seriously lackluster for two years. Once I got better, I asked my manager what I could do to be better at my job. He seemed skeptical, but gave me a list of things he wanted to see like taking the lead in meetings, fielding customer questions, and generally developing a deeper knowledge of the work. I started asking more questions and doing what he said and 6 months later he was regularly giving me kudos and I even got promoted recently. Probably not all managers would be able to see past a rough start, but I think he appreciated that I showed a willingness to improve and backed it up with action.

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

      Well, I certainly wasn’t the world’s greatest teacher when I started, but feedback from students on those dreaded evaluations helped me pinpoint areas where I needed to improve.

      Like, I think my first semester teaching, I got called “boring,” and it made me sit and think about how to make classes more fun. And one term when I was congratulating myself on my nice, organized syllabus, I got dinged for being “disorganized” — I realized that forgetting class materials and having to run back to my office for them was not cool.

      So, yes, it is totally possible to improve!

  11. Moon June*

    Two years ago, the director of my department retired. During the first year of Covid, he made some hiring/firing decisions that my boss is still angry about. Apparently, the director also told my boss “there’s the door if you don’t like it” among some head-butting stuff. My problem is, my boss can’t seem to get past these events. At least once, sometimes twice a week, he badmouths the former director, as well as his own supervisor, who “didn’t speak up on my behalf.” I don’t feel that I can say anything other than, “Yes,” “uh-huh” and “right” or he’ll rain his wrath down on me. If I try to change the subject, he steers it right back again. What can I do?

    1. Ms. Hagrid Frizzle*

      Were you part of your current department (or even the org) at the time these events went down? My boss has a similar habit and I’ve taken to going, “Ahh, that was before my time so I can’t speak to any of that. Anyways, about the X project.” Repeated enough times, and it seems to have diminished the diatribes.

      I’ve also occasionally used “I hear that that was a struggle/frustrating/a let down at the time. Can you tell me more about how that applies to [the work situation we were discussing/had scheduled the meeting to discuss]?” This works only if you use a tone of genuine curiosity, but has been similarly effective in getting Boss to reflect and redirect.

      1. Moon June*

        Yes, I was here at the time it all happened. In fact, my job was affected by the changes. HIS job wasn’t impacted and sometimes I want to say, “Hey, I’m the one who has been put in a less-than-ideal position–not you!”

        1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

          Maybe pretend like he’s saying those things to apologize for the impact on you. “Oh it’s ok, I’ve been able to figure out the new software system and to adjust to x and y being different, but that’s considerate of you to be up in arms on my behalf. I’m okay to let it be in the past, though! I’m looking forward to ___ (pet project or situation your boss likes)”

    2. Ama*

      Ugh. I would be really tempted to politely say “I realize you were upset about how this went down, but he left two years ago, and you still talking about it constantly is making me uncomfortable.”

      But I will admit that I am pretty over it at my current job and do not have a problem speaking extremely candidly. I also have a role that would be very difficult to replace or cover if they fired me so I have some political standing to push back that others might not.

    3. pally*

      Is your boss just venting?
      I’ve curtailed stuff like this by asking:
      Is there something I can do for you to make the circumstances here a little more bearable for you? Please tell me so that I might get started on it.

      While the hiring/firing issue is strong in his mind, he may not realize that he’s -repeatedly- using you to work through it. And that’s not appropriate.

      1. Moon June*

        There’s a thought. I don’t think he’s venting. On the other hand, this is a guy who will talk about the same subjects over and over ad nauseum, year after year. So who knows…

        1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

          Maybe asking him about what he’d like you to do with that information (said in a better way lol, like the commenter suggested above) will help him stop. Like when he starts to vent, start writing on your notebook and say out loud “ok, got it, ongoing impacts from restructuring. How would you like me to address those/what do you see as the first step?” And look up, prepared to write down his guidance on the way ahead.

          Maybe it will jolt him into realizing he’s talking without a purpose if people look like they’re taking him seriously. When he says no I’m just venting, say ah ok, I wasn’t sure /I wanted to make sure I’m clear what you needed me to do with that information.

    4. Dancing Otter*

      Say something to the effect of: “Yeah, thank G-d he’s gone and can’t screw anything else up.”
      You’re agreeing with Boss, while obliquely pointing out that he’s beating a dead horse. The dried up skeleton of a dead horse. The mere memory of the skeleton of a dead horse.

      1. Cazaril*

        I used to work for someone who liked to rant. A combination of this approach along with validating his feelings was sometimes helpful. E.g. “Yes, Joe was an infuriating glassbowl! Thank heavens we don’t have to deal with him anymore!” Every customer service representative knows to validate the customer’s feelings as a calming tactic. Another helpful phrase is “we can’t change that now, but at least…”

  12. RMNPgirl*

    Internal interview advice?
    I am interviewing soon for a high level internal position in my company. It will be a panel interview with the executive team. My previous movements in the company have been into positions that were created with me in mind so the interviews were not real formal. However, this interview has multiple people applying and will be very formal, we had to submit a project ahead of time for it.
    I’d be grateful for any advice on how to do an internal panel interview or any other advice people are willing to share when trying to advance in your company. Thanks!

    1. OtterB*

      Be ready to explain how your experience at the company makes you a good fit for the new position. It’s easy to assume that your interview panel know the company and know you and the connections are obvious, but especially if it’s a formal panel and they will be comparing your responses to the competition, lay it all out. You don’t have to explain your projects as though they have never heard of them, but do be clear about your contributions.

    2. Manchmal*

      I’m not sure how much this will relate to your situation, but here it is: I was one of the panelists on an interview with an internal candidate for an academic faculty position. The person we interviewed had been around for awhile and knew us all well. The interviewee, in my assessment, made the mistake of drawing too much on those relationships and his internal knowledge of the company. They were too casual, too familiar, and used too much shorthand. My recommendation would be to be a bit more formal than you might otherwise, be sure to describe your ideas and achievements fully even if you think the panelists are familiar with them, and to try and show some part of yourself that they don’t already know. People like novelty and are apt to be a bit dismissive of the familiar (in my experience).

      1. Ama*

        I have been witness to a similar situation — internal faculty position, the postdoc already based at our school assumed the job was hers because all the other candidates were external, she didn’t put much effort into preparing and they went with someone else.

        Definitely take this as seriously as you would an external interview — that doesn’t mean you can’t reference that you have experience with any internal systems/processes that are unique to your employer, but don’t assume they will know what *you* know just because you’ve been there for a while.

      2. Lily Rowan*

        I agree with this, from a different context. I’m always pleasantly surprised when an internal candidate is super-prepared like they would be for an external interview. (And actually, they can be even more prepared because they have a good idea of what to expect from our process.)

        Good luck!

      3. Policy Wonk*

        This. Plus, when asked a question, please pause for a second and prepare your answer. In my experience, in addition to being insufficiently formal with the panel, internal candidates often just start talking, rambling a bit about something internal, before landing on an actual answer to the question. When they ask you about experience feel free to talk about your actual experience, but also refer to that project they asked you to do for this purpose. Treat this like the interviewers don’t know you.

        1. Bart*

          I just finished a search where the internal candidate spent too much time pointing out problems in the area rather than how they were ready to improve the area and what skills and experience they brought. Make sure you are explaining how you meet the qualifications in the job description. And if you get the questions ahead of time, prepare your answers! I had one internal candidate confide in me that they thought their answers would be more “fresh” if they didn’t prepare. That was a long and rambling hour!

  13. Voluntoldyouso*

    I’m a volunteer running a small program that is staffed by volunteers. I love Allison’s advice and it has been very helpful to me, but I am running into things that I suspect are unique to working with volunteers. Does anyone have any recommendations for books or sites specifically about management in a nonprofit/volunteer setting?

    1. Marmalade*

      If you haven’t already heard of it, the ISOTURE model might help you. There are lots of resources out there, many from Cooperative Extension services at different land grant universities. It’s the hardest kind of management because they are volunteers and can quit with no consequences other than they get more free time – good luck!

    2. Bunny Girl*

      Volunteer Hub has some great articles and tips for managing volunteers!

      But as someone who has volunteered for years at many different organizations one thing I think that’s really important is managing your own expectations. Yes organizations need volunteers to run but volunteers are investing their time and energy when they might not have a lot of either. I think being flexible and reasonable are two of the biggest qualities I look for when I am going to volunteer my time.

  14. AtticWife*

    This is super low stakes but I applied to a job and two days after the posting closed, my references were contacted and I still have not heard one thing from the employer. Is that weird? I am annoyed that people I know had to take time to write a recommendation letter to apparently no avail.

    1. Zephy*

      It is weird that they contacted your references without even talking to you. Maybe check your spam/trash folders, make sure you didn’t inadvertently miss any communications from them?

    2. pally*

      I’ve had external recruiters check out my references prior to submitting me as a candidate to their client. They made it out like “this is the way hiring is done”.

    3. linger*

      It’s unusual for a hiring manager to check references for every applicant, so unless there was a very small initial pool, it probably means you made some kind of preliminary short-list. They may still be in the process of scheduling interviews. Or not, depending on … how much time has elapsed since your references were contacted; whether they were contacted by an external recruiter, or directly by the hiring manager; and whether or not the job posting suggested any interview timeline that has now elapsed. As usual, you’re safer not to assume anything and continue looking for other opportunities in the meantime.

  15. Em*

    Hi folks!

    A recent job change has moved me from being an individual contributor in a coverage-based (so very tightly scheduled) role to managing a team in a “you do not have set hours, other than “daytime”, just let us know if you’re going to be out for an appointment or something, and get your work done” environment.

    This is an adjustment. Any tips from someone making a similar transition in terms of expectations? I want very much to not fall into being micromanagey by accident. I’ve been honest with my team that this is an adjustment for me and the general environment is very good so I hope they’ll be comfortable letting me know if I fall into old habits, but I want to be proactive about NOT falling into old habits.

    1. mouse*

      Would it help (if possible) varying your own schedule away from what you’re used to? If you used to have to do 9-5 with a set lunch break 12.30-1 every day at your previous job maybe try varying that on a day to day basis? If you can break yourself out of the regimented schedule you might find it easier to adjust to the new culture?

        1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

          Do you feel clear on what deliverables you expect from your team? Make it around that. At 3pm, we are going to discuss the progress on the x report and way ahead. Next Tuesday we will have an 80% draft that consists of the following elements:___. I will review Fergusia’s final draft that adds the remaining 20% and the final elements on x date, make any final revisions and send forward by y date.

          Then you are less focused on how they’re structuring their days, and more on whether you get an 80% product with x y z elements on the interim progress review date as planned.

    2. All knowledge is worth having*

      If there are any boundaries to the flexibility, make sure you are absolutely clear on those expectations with your team.

  16. Myrin*

    I started talking about this in the comments to the “no ambition” update and realised it might make a good topic to talk about in general, so:

    I am always fascinated by how people “end up in” jobs that aren’t a straight advancement from/the logical follow-up to what they’ve done before because somehow, they never talk about what exactly that entails; it’s always talked about like they woke up one day already sitting at their desk at their new job when there must have been a whole process of actions or circumstances or situations beforehand.

    I like seeing the different paths that brought people to where they are now and the endless possibilites intrigue me, so let’s talk about that!

    (I’ll share mine in a reply later, too, I just need step away from the computer for a bit.)

    1. RussianInTexas*

      Lay off, then 9 months of unemployment, here I am, in the job that pays less with fewer benefits than the previous one.
      But realistically, I have no ambition or passion for any type of work. I don’t really care what I do as long as it’s in my abilities, or what kind of company I work for, or their mission or anything. I just want to make some money, have vacations, save for retirement, and not hate my job.

      1. SansaStark*

        Are you me from 10 years ago? Because that’s exactly what happened to me. After a couple of firings, I ended up in a job with nice people doing a job that was “easy” enough for my very bruised self-confidence. It was just administrative support in an industry I didn’t know anything about (which was great bc I didn’t need it to be admin support). I actually enjoyed the industry and have now been in it for 10 years, now at the senior management level. I literally did not know this industry existed 11 years ago and am so glad that I took this easy job with NICE people (at a huge pay cut).

    2. Newly minted higher ed*

      I started in engineering, flamed out spectacularly in thermo, switched to technical writing (because I had the science hours and it was shorter to graduation), realized I would have to move far away, and didn’t. Got married instead. Then ended up in financial aid, which was okay, but not great. Left that job after getting in serious trouble after being set up to fail, got on with a temp company, and enjoyed manufacturing for awhile — but not my strength. Then I got really sick and decided to look up my old linguistics professor because that was super interesting stuff — ended up in a MA program and to pay for it, ended up teaching. I LOVED it. I had considered a two-year education add-on for my state, but wasn’t too interested in the regimentation of high school or being limited to only junior and senior level English (nor did I enjoy literature enough to teach it year in and out). I ended up teaching ESL for a little while, then when my program was outsourced and turned toxic, utilized connections to get into a PhD program in an adjacent field (though still English), and am pretty blissful. I graduated recently, finished out a one-year visiting appointment, had great success on the job market, and am starting a new position. This is only the second move I’ve anticipated so much. In the meantime, I got my chronic illness under control, addressed a few things that flew under the radar, made some lifestyle changes that are good. After feeling like I was drifting and sick most of my 20s, life has been gathering steam and moving forward in ways that make me happy. I’m not super ambitious — I gave a lot at the toxic job and only paid for it, and I won’t do that again. But I’m happy with how things are going. I was actually going to send this in for a Good News Friday post in a few months, once the new job starts!

    3. Sudsy Malone*

      I can probably speak to this a bit! I’m in my tenth year in the workforce, split between two five-year stints at different jobs, and there was a bit of a jump from one to the other. Let me see if I can establish sufficiently analogous anonymizing metaphors…

      Let’s say I’m now the Manager of Llama Shampooing at my big local zoo…and I came into this position without any experience with llamas OR at zoos. Seems like a big jump at first glance. But it made more sense at the time!

      The job I was coming from was the equivalent of being a one-woman Animal Grooming department for a traveling circus. No, I had no zoo or llama-specific experience….but by God, I knew I could shampoo, and I knew I could prove it. And I wanted a job where that was my focus, rather than having to also do haircuts and trim nails all day! So I kept an eye out for any and all jobs that were all about shampooing, and did some shampoo-specific volunteer work that covered different industries than my day job. When a role finally appeared, even though I didn’t have the obvious qualifications on paper, I could make a convincing enough case in my application materials to get me to an interview and a practical demonstration that showed my skills. Got hired as the Llama Shampooer and got a promotion two years later.

      tldr: for me it was all about following the specific skill I loved most, being creative about where I could use it, and having the confidence to put myself in the mix

    4. Cyborg Llama Horde*

      I commented in your thread there, but I’ll say so here, too:

      I graduated just over a decade ago with a degree in humanities and math, with exactly 1 compsci class (and I deliberately decided against the follow-up because the first one wasn’t challenging enough and the proofs we were doing in my math classes were more interesting), but I did work in the computer labs in school. From there I did a service year with a religious organization that was supposed to be doing computer project work, but turned out to be minimal computer project work, a lot of digital literacy teaching, and a bunch of random stuff. (It was in a country that most people in the US know nothing about, and pretty wild in other ways, so it sounded impressive in interviews, which helped.) After that I did another year of digital literacy and professional skills training with an Americorps program, during which I decided that I liked teaching but absolutely did not want to be a full-time teacher.

      After that I got a helpdesk job at a regular sort of company, which was only noteworthy in that it had a fairly small IT team and the hierarchy between helpdesk and sysadmins was not firmly fixed. I still did a lot of IT training. Professional growth after the jump to sysadmin was lackluster, but by then I had my foot solidly in the door and could grow from there.

      There are things that would be easier if I had a stronger technical background, but I have different strengths and have been lucky to find ways and places to use them. I’m in infrastructure as systems, which isn’t as highly-compensated as many developer roles, but it’s still a good job, money-wise, and I enjoy the work. It’s pretty common for people in my field and adjacent fields, who do not have a CS degree, to have started in helpdesk (and, TBH, I like the customer-service-orientation that frequently provides, even for roles that don’t necessarily have a customer-facing component). Though it’s also certainly possible to go into helpdesk and get stuck there, with no real career opportunities. I now work with developers and QA folks who fell into their roles in similar ways.

    5. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      For me it was a very long and meandering process. Got laid off, went back to school, worked some temp jobs, took a job financial advisor job I knew I’d not stay at because the money was good and I had about a year I could ride that one out. But that did help me get the next job as a business analyst for a financial company. I actually owe my career now to the recruiter at that job. I had applied for something else but he said he thought I was a better fit for this BA role. I thought he was nuts. I didn’t know anything about software development, SQL, but he said I could learn that but he said “you’re a problem solver, that’s what they need”. I really needed a job so I gave it a chance and I really wish I had found this path 15 years ago but here we are . All that was about 3 years of my life, and yes there were some pretty dark times right before I found my BA job.

    6. J*

      Graduated college right into the Great Recession. Had an underemployment situation in my field (Marketing) but it was chaos since it was a startup and was prepping for a sale, one I wasn’t going to be included in. I’d been sick in school and ended up needing to quit my job (no benefits) to deal with the fallout of it. I lived off my partner’s salary and went back to school (paralegal cert) for 9 months, had a few bad temp jobs but it was rough. One of those temp jobs was for a government agency handling elections. The boss there liked me, his wife worked for the prosecutor’s office where I’d interned in school and she knew of an opening coming in her department, which was outside the scope of my internship but a start. Finally I was working in law.

      That job had limited career progression so I started looking elsewhere. Ended up at a law firm helping to manage a law office in a coworking space targeting startups. Stayed for over 5 years. By that point, I was doing social media marketing, business development, pricing, pitching and proposals, and considering legal tech from startups to use for our firm in my daily duties. Learned a ton of skills and despite not being a lawyer became kind of a startup expert – corporate docs, IP, some light privacy work, but especially how founders think.

      Pandemic hits, layoffs hit, I switch to a nonprofit and do entrepreneur legal support and manage grants, finances, marketing, comms, that sort of thing. It’s a downgrade but I needed it for a brief period given my health background and the pandemic risk. Last year I got contacted by an attorney I used to work with who had gone in house for one of her healthcare startup clients. I joined her, now I run the legal department, program legal tech, and offer paralegal support on IP and corporate matters.

      So the short version of the story would be something like “bounced between marketing and legal jobs and a nonprofit job before I found myself managing the legal department at a startup” but in reality it’s like each job brought me a little further, even a job that was a downgrade. I never knew where I was going. The narrative I tell is “I started my career working marketing for a startup, pivoted to law and eventually found my niche in the same field where I started – startup law, where I’ve worked from nearly every angle: at a law firm, for a nonprofit, and in house at scaling and exiting companies in tech, biotech and healthcare” – which is true but I couldn’t have guessed that 10 years ago. Likely I’m going to have a very different next job and I’ll need to make up a new part of the story to explain why of course that’s a normal progression and not chaotic, or I’ll just finally go be an entrepreneur myself.

    7. Hlao-roo*

      I’ll share, even though my path has been relatively straightforward so far. I am also interested in the “luck and timing” that was mentioned in the comments from the “no ambition” update so I will try to call out where those played a role in my path.

      I went to college/university for engineering, and because of my good grades in high school, I got into a program where the university gave me a stipend to work in an on-campus laboratory the summer between freshman and sophomore year. This was luck–I didn’t know this program existed when I applied to this college. I think this first engineering work experience made it easier to get internships my second and third summers.

      I applied for a full-time job at the same company where I worked my third internship and I was accepted, so that became my first full-time, post-college job. Again, some good luck that I enjoyed that internship and that the company had a spot for me post-graduation. I was able to make a few internal transfers and try out a few different engineering roles. This was very helpful because I did some modeling/analytics in my initial role and I liked it but when I transferred to a role that was a combination of design and dealing with issues from assembly, I realized I liked that a lot more. I’m currently working at a different company in a similar design + assembly support role.

      I don’t know if I want to be a design engineer for the rest of my career, so I try to take note of other jobs at my company that sound interesting and also of jobs my friends and family have that sound interesting. And I read Ask A Manager, of course, where I get to hear about a lot of different careers. The first step is knowing what’s out there, so if I ever want to make a switch I have a starting point of jobs I may be interested in and qualified for.

    8. Generic Name*

      I’m the only person I know working in a field that I said I wanted to work in at age 12. I remember looking at a long list of jobs in social studies class in jr high and picked “endangered species specialist”. Later, senior year of high school, we apparently filled out job interests and I found a manila folder in some family memorabilia where I noted “Environmental Biologist” as my desired career path. Today I have a BS in biology and a MS in environmental science, and part of my job involves compliance with the Endangered Species Act.

      Was getting here a linear progression? Absolutely not. My first job out of grad school was dealing with environmental compliance in industry, then I taught adjunct for a semester, then I got a job dealing with hazmat stuff before I got my current job dealing with endangered species and stuff. :)

    9. GGGGGG*

      I worked in HR as a generalist/manager for many years. At my last company, they were having trouble keeping an EHS manager (Environmental, Health, and Safety) because they were hiring people who were good technically but couldn’t maintain rapport with the employees. The HR Director asked me if I would consider taking it on. I didn’t have any EHS experience but I already had a rapport with the employees and she thought I could learn the rest. I accepted and have been in EHS every since. I was EHS Manager at that job for 11 years and just started a new EHS Manager job at a different company.

    10. Artist with a day job*

      My path is a bit of a corkscrew, but where I’m at now started because of a question that I threw out to my friends on social media.

      Quick background: I have an art degree, ended up in glass manufacturing because of that degree, and after a dozen years or so I quit and moved cross country without any ideas about what I wanted to do next. I landed another manufacturing job that was a terrible fit in so many ways (industry, role, and culture), and I tried to tough it out because I still didn’t know what to do. Well, I developed medical issues because of that job, and those issues came to a head right when Covid lockdowns started. After spending the majority of the pandemic unemployed and lost, I decided to start digging myself out of that hole by looking for part time work.

      I talked to friends in my art circles, and a few of them suggested modeling for art classes (which were slowly getting back to in-person sessions). One had suggested a school that would be willing to hire beginners, and I applied to them. It was just a few days a month, but the school had a spreadsheet of other places looking for models. So I contacted other schools, got jobs from them, and developed a good reputation amongst instructors. That in turn helped me get more work; they would share contact info with me, and the more experience I gained the easier it was for me to find gigs.

      I will say this for art modeling: it has been the biggest confidence booster and the only job where people have expressed gratitude for my participation. I still need a second job (that’s its own question/post), but I love what I do and what the job has given me in return.

    11. Hillary*

      I didn’t know what I was going to do after college, a temp agency sent me to a small 3pl to do admin work, and I ended up in ops working with customers. After that I mostly looked for roles related to some aspect of my experience that would be a step up, but there was also some luck (both good and bad) in my progression. I went from small 3pl to small reseller, then MBA internship, recession + contracting with earlier skills, translate contracting + MBA into big corporate, then small corporate, then back into large corporate. I quit that job in January and started my own thing fixing industry issues that have annoyed me for the last couple years.

      If there’s a common thread, it’s that my progression has been a combo of both networking and luck. I got my last two jobs through cold applications online, before that they were mostly through second-level connections. One was because I posted on a class board that I’d just given notice and turns out her employer needed a maternity leave covered, I did well enough that they converted me to permanent even though it wasn’t initially planned. My first two post-recession jobs came because the recruiter husband of a former coworker had a role and called me to see if I was available.

      My partner says I’ve been preparing to start my own company for the last 20 years. He’s right, but I never thought of it that way.

    12. This Old House*

      Not long out of grad school, I got my “dream job” at a low-paid but prestigious nonprofit in the field I’d gotten my Masters in. It worked out for a while, but once we moved to the suburbs and started a family, the long commute didn’t work for me and it was definitely not offset by the pay. I quit and stayed home with my kid for a couple years. At some point in there, I got a contract job doing very (VERY) part-time work from home at a local college. It has to be said that this was definitely because I knew people there. Ended up getting hired in an assistant role when the department got a FT position approved. Close to a decade later, thanks to some turnover and some reorganization, I’m now a department of 1, at the same place, doing work that I think I’m okay at, and not exactly passionate about but I like that in some way it makes a difference in peoples’ lives. Higher Ed. administration was not really a path I would have picked out for myself, but it was convenient and available and it works. I used to see myself going back to the sexier nonprofit field one day, but these days I have no desire to shake anything up. I like where I am, and I’d probably have to take a major pay cut, which is less appealing each day!

    13. Raccacoonie*

      I was working as an admin in a small software company, mostly because it was my first permanent job and entry-level admin work is much the same everywhere–I had no particular interest in software or the medical field for which the software was designed. I just needed a job. I was miserable in it, and when I quit, I did so without another job lined up (I’d been there for three years and simply could not take anymore). I temped for a while as I kept looking for another job. I kind of wanted to get into either HR (I’d previously temped in that field) or in publishing. I wasn’t getting any interviews. I landed a temp position in an admin role at a university. It was supporting a fundraiser there. I enjoyed the work (especially when she asked me to find information on prospective donors for her), but while temp-to-perm had been a possibility, the fundraiser decided to leave the university for another role. She recommended I apply for an admin position in the prospect research office, though, and gave me a great reference. I applied and got the position. From there, I moved my way up the ladder to a management role. It’s my career now, and I’m in it for the long haul. I love it!

    14. Tio*

      Right out of college, I applied to do documentation for a shipping company my friend worked at. She recommended me as well. They passed on me for a different recommendation, and out of spite, I applied to a bunch of other logistics companies and got an intro level job. Then I heard them talking about how a license would make a certain manager so much more valuable in her role. I googled around, found out about the license, and looked up the test. I was always good at testing, and I liked being valuable, so I figured why not, and signed up for the test. it was stressful, but I passed on my first go (which is fairly rare!) and ended up managing a couple of the import departments in a couple logistics places, and now I’m a compliance officer for a major retailer. Not what I was expecting when I graduated!

    15. Cedrus Libani*

      Age 7: I read a popular-science article about genetic engineering, and I fell in love. That’s what I wanted to do with my life.

      Age 17: I knew about as much biology as any teenager on the planet, and I had the resume to prove it. The problem? Biology wasn’t enough. I wanted to learn how to make stuff out of biological parts. At the time, MIT was the place to go for that, so that’s where I went.

      Age 22: I was happily working for a genetic engineering startup. Alas, the Great Recession. When the startup folded, I had a scientist-level title, with a whole seven months of post-college experience to back it up. I was broke, and I like sleeping indoors, so I had to expand my horizons.

      Age 23: Finally got a job, processing surgical waste at a local hospital. They also needed a sysadmin, so that became my job as well. Did I want to be a sysadmin? Maybe. This was a stable, career-track option that didn’t make me want to claw my eyes out. I could lean in, get experience, and in a year or two get a real sysadmin job at several times the salary (and no buckets of human meat to dig through, either).

      Age 24: The Olympics were on, and somehow, I was fascinated. What if I tried to qualify? This was absurd; I’m terrible at sports, even by normal human standards. But I couldn’t get it out of my head, so I sat with it, and I tried to figure out where this was coming from. I was bored. I missed having big, hairy, audacious goals that scared me a little.

      I still wanted to be a genetic engineer. Biology wasn’t enough, and neither was engineering. We needed to understand the design patterns that made sense with biological parts. If you wanted to think about that, you were a systems biologist. So, I applied to PhD programs in systems biology.

      Age 31: I have a PhD. It didn’t go well; I failed to prove my advisor’s pet hypothesis, and as you might imagine, there was a difference of opinion regarding whether the problem was me or the hypothesis. So, academia was off the table – and honestly, even if it wasn’t, I’d be terrible at it. I’m not the person who comes up with a 30-year vision of where the field needs to go, and who inspires other people to throw money and time at their ideas. I’m a fixer who matches problems with solutions. I’m awesome at this. Academia doesn’t care, but industry loves it.

      We are still so very bad at genetic engineering. Industry is limited. My paycheck…would also be limited. Might have to move, too, and I don’t want to; I’ve acquired the dreaded two body problem while in grad school. So I changed fields.

      Now: I work for a large biotech company. My group is “the support of last resort”: we handle special requests, as well as anything that’s stumped our front-line support teams. I get to fix things and solve puzzles for a living, and my broad knowledge base is relevant. I’m happy and well paid. Win.

      1. Another genetics person*

        Your story stuck out to me because it resembles mine in some ways. I was also excellent in biology as a teenager and became obsessed with genetic engineering. I spent every summer doing summer programs and research related to genetics, and I chose to study biomedical engineering in college. The curriculum was more focused on medical devices than biotechnology, so my path veered away from genetics at that point.

        After college, I wasn’t keen on being an engineer, so I entered the medical device industry on the business/operations side. That went fairly well, and I had the opportunity at age ~25 to move into investing/VC in the medical device space, which was more interesting than I expected. I got to use my knowledge of medical devices to help my company decide what technologies looked promising and where they should invest. However, when the pandemic hit, my company went through a rough patch, and I ended up making a move to a completely different role in a Big Tech company.

        I missed the biotechnology/genetics space and had always been interested in graduate school, but I didn’t think academia would be a good fit. I ended up, after many conversations, deciding to go the MBA route. I start in the fall, and my goal is to eventually move into another role where I get to help make cool biotechnology a reality (potentially at a startup).

    16. new year, new name*

      I was hired into a role that was 50% one specific thing that I had a lot of experience in, and 50% another specific thing that I had essentially no experience in. My employer was not really expecting to find someone with direct experience in either of those things, so they were excited to get me. After about a year, however, organizational priorities shifted away from the thing I knew before, and I am now 100% doing the thing I previously had no experience in. I like it, though!

    17. There You Are*

      I started out as an admin assistant because a friend of mine in college worked at a payroll company and they had an opening that my friend told me to apply for. I thought that meant I should stay an admin assistant so, when I moved several states away, I applied for another admin position.

      At that job, I actually ended up wearing all the non-specialized hats and realized that I liked trouble-shooting IT problems. I thought a good next step would be an exec assistant job at a software company. (Nope. It was a nightmare).

      Another friend from college had an IT job he wanted out of, and to help convince his boss to move him to a new role (still in IT but more toward coding and farther away from hardware), he told his boss to interview me. I got the job despite being 100% clueless. My friend trained me on the basics and the company sent me to formal training.

      I started dating a guy who was in IT sales and I thought, “Shoot, I’m twice as smart as he is, why am I making half as much?” And so I applied for some B2B IT sales jobs. I got one. It sucked (massive toxic culture) but I learned enough buzzwords to get another IT sales jobs, and then to get hired at IBM.

      All of that was Inside Sales, which is low on totem pole in terms of prestige. So, again, I was like, “Those Outside Sales Reps aren’t any smarter than I am,” and I went to work in outside sales for one of my IBM software partners.

      The shelf life of a software sales rep is 1-3 years, so I bounced around a lot, even putting in 2 years at Microsoft, and then got burned out on sales (especially after getting caught in a round of layoffs at Microsoft during the Great Recession).

      I started dating someone who wanted to be his own boss (extreme untreated ADHD meant that he had trouble keeping traditional jobs) so we started our own small company in residential window cleaning. I learned accounting and legal and payroll, and put my sales experience to work to build the client base, while he and our eventual crews cleaned windows.

      Then I got tired of him and the company and went back to school for a degree in Accounting and became an Internal Auditor. And that’s where I’m at today.

      I had no idea what an admin assistant really did when I became one.

      I had no idea what a data communications tech really did when I became one.

      I had no idea what an IT salesperson really did when I became one.

      I had no idea what outside sales people really did when I became one.

      I had no idea how to start and run a small business when I became a small business owner.

      I just kept seeing people who had “more” and “better” than I did and I kept saying, “Well, hell, if they can do it I can do it,” without ever giving any thought to whether or not I *wanted* to do it. (Probably because I had no real idea what “it” was. :-D )

      I did, at least, have a fairly clear idea about what an internal auditor does, thanks to the grad program that I was in. And, thankfully, I really enjoy what I’m doing now. Way more than any of the other jobs / careers I’ve had.

    18. Anna Badger*

      I don’t think it’s quite as glib as “woke up one day at a desk” but I don’t think it’s actually much more complicated than that – most of the people I know with portfolio careers have a few things in common:

      – wide attentional spotlight: when we’re looking at jobs we don’t just laser focus on postings for our current role and/or industry, we look at all sorts of roles at all sorts of companies

      – willingness to work outside our current job descriptions (within reason): if something needs doing we’ll do it, which means we pick up small amounts of all sorts of odd experience that come in handy in interviews

      – a sort of handwavey “it’ll probably be fine/ how hard can it be?” approach to meeting the requirements in job postings

      when you combine those things it does sort of feel like you just happened to end up wherever you currently are

    19. ECHM*

      I worked for 13 years as a reporter and editor and knew many in my community. After I left the paper I had a couple of jobs, including a wonderful part-time job as an administrative assistant for a church.

      For many years I have attended visitations and funerals for friends and their family members; we have one main funeral home in our small city, and I got to know the owners through my frequent appearances as well as (previously) my ensuring obituaries got in the newspaper. One evening while I was at a funeral, they asked if I wanted to work for them!

      I started out at a few hours a week, but then when the second funeral director left, they offered me to come full-time. It took a while as I loved my other job (I worked mornings at the church and afternoons at the funeral home for a couple years), but I finally came on full-time last October. It has been an adjustment because I don’t know much about the field, but the owners have been good to me and very understanding, and many have commented that it’s a good place for me because of my compassionate heart.

  17. Farts*

    I started a new job this week. I reached out to some stakeholders (my boss said he told them I would be reaching out) earlier this week introducing myself and saying I wanted to set up a 30-minute chat to intro myself and learn more about them and how we’ll be working together. Most responded but a few never replied back.

    Should I (1) reach out to them via Slack to ask if I could set up a good time to meet and introduce myself or (2) just set up a meeting with them?

    1. SGPB*

      If someone did this to me I would def ignore them. No slight, just like, I’m way too busy for this and if we end up working together we’ll get to know each other then. This just doesn’t seem like a productive use of my time at all.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        Wow, really? I wouldn’t even consider ignoring them. I’m busy too, but I consider this stuff to absolutely be part of my job. If I ignored or refused to set up a meeting, my manager would NOT take kindly to that.

      2. Anthology*

        Agreed. Newbie reaches out with a vague request for what sounds like small talk, and wants me to manually reply with time slots, instead of just checking my Outlook calendar himself? This is freshman nonsense and I don’t have time for it.

    2. Magenta*

      I’d probably slack them saying hi and asking when a good time would be/if their calendar is up to date.

    3. Little Beans*

      I’d check in with your boss about when is the right time for this. If I got this request in my peak busy time, I would definitely not want to do it (I’d probably try to reply but it might take more than a week, and it might just slip off my radar entirely then…)

      1. Educator*

        This is good advice—I would love that kind of request during my slow season, and I just might not have the bandwidth during busy season.

        30 minutes also feels like a long time for this type of intro call. If you do follow up, I would frame it as a quick hello, just to put faces and names together, and schedule it for ten minutes. You can still ask how you will work together, but they won’t feel like they need to be ready to explain their whole job.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Give them some time to get back to you– like two weeks– then reach out to them via Slack. When I set these up, I usually say something like, “I’d love to set up some time for us to chat– would it be ok if I put 30 minutes on our calendars this week?” People are usually pretty receptive, just busy. I had a few people move our meetings a couple of times but we eventually found time. Remember that being new and getting to know people/teams is a much more drawn out process than we ever expect, so there’s no particular window you need to work within (unless your boss says otherwise– and if that’s the case, then he needs to step in when people don’t respond).

    5. ecnaseener*

      Definitely not option 2 — you issued an invitation that it sounds like is somewhat optional, so you really can’t interpret silence as a “yes.”

      1. Aquamarine*

        Agree – I don’t recommend just setting up a meeting with them, so reaching out on Slack seems like a better option.

        I would also ask though whether the meetings are really necessary? Their non-response might be a mild way of saying that they don’t want to spend time in an introductory meeting like this right now. It might be better to have this conversation when you actually begin working with them on something.

    6. Murphy*

      This is contrary to some other advice you’ve gotten, but I tend not to respond to these because I feel the burden of scheduling should be on the other person. Just send me a calendar invite, I’ll accept, and then we will meet. I would like to note in my organization this is a pretty formalized process for certain new staff to meet with certain other people in management, so it’s not considered a thing I could reasonably opt out of. Maybe ask your boss to get a better sense of whether this is an optional thing for the stakeholders or expected on their part?

      1. Eleanor Rigby*

        Seconding this one! I think this must be culture-based – at my org people just put time on each other’s calendars for these sorts of intro calls. It’s not a daily or even monthly occurence, but it’s expected, and I would very much be violating norms if I declined to meet completely.

    7. Nocturna*

      I would recommend asking your boss about what the appropriate next steps would be. As you’ve probably noticed from the comments, corporate cultures around this can vary quite a bit (how optional/required are these sorts of meetings, is it presuming or expected to just schedule something directly on the other person’s calendar, etc.) and your boss would know the company’s specific culture around this whereas us commenters don’t.

  18. Tie Dyed*

    Is “Leveraging spatiotemporal data streams” a real thing? I happened across the phrase in a business’s LinkedIn and can’t figure out if it’s corporate hogwash or not.

    1. SGPB*

      It is in GIS related jobs. An example I’ve worked on is getting real time data on the location of the company’s fleet of vehicles and being able to do analysis on their drive times.

      1. lost academic*

        And maybe any data oriented job where you need to visualize, analyze or display data that are changing in both space and time – delivery vehicles, weather, pollution streams, those are just a few I can think of. That phrase seems pretty hypertechnical but on further consideration it suggests someone who’s pretty competent with data analytics tools.

        1. linger*

          and/or is deliberately obscuring their job as (e.g.) an industrial spy. (It’s less the terminology, and more the complete lack of specifics about domain of application, that stands out.)

    2. Amalfi*

      Spatiotemporal data is a real thing. Think of it as a fancy term for video data–you have components that evolve over both area (space) and time. Do a google search on the term for more examples.

    3. Generic Name*

      I love big words if they describe something perfectly, but this is just corporate mumbo jumbo. I’m not saying “spatiotemporal” isn’t a thing, but if they really are talking about GIS or videos, why don’t they just say that? I’m a fan of plain language, and this isn’t it. Some people just like to sound smart, and they think by using big words people will be dazzled. The smartest people I know speak in a way that others understand them.

      1. Amalfi*

        It is not corporate mumbo jumbo. It’s used in specific ways for specific fields, and sometimes there are specific data structures. Video data is just one example of data that has both spatial and temporal aspects. There are other kinds.

        Seriously, Google is your friend here.

      2. Bexx*

        Because GIS is only spatial by definition, not necessarily temporal, and videos don’t really have anything to do with it? For anyone in a related field, this is actually really valuable info because it implies that the candidate has experience with data analysis where the data is collected across both space and time, which often requires different analytical tools versus a data set that only contains one or the other. It matters a lot on things like fleet logistics (you care where your package is AND when that info was logged).

        1. Amalfi*

          “videos don’t really have anything to do with it”

          Object tracking uses spatio temporal analysis on video data. Source: my actual job.

          1. Bexx*

            That’s totally valid! I was reacting to the OP’s comment of “why don’t they just say videos” and was thinking they meant videos in general

          2. Pine Tree*

            Adding a non-video example, my job involves tracking objects with satellite and cell-phone connected telemetry. We have lots of spatiotemporal data streams that we often leverage! Example: one device reporting sea surface temperature as it drifts with a current and another device reporting animal movements – which can then be compared.

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

      “Spatiotemporal data streams” sound like something out of either “Star Trek” (where Data once traveled to the past) or “Doctor Who” (which deals entirely with travel through space and time).

      1. Anna Badger*

        what’s the problem with leveraging? it’s much quicker than saying “get the most value out of a thing with the minimum amount of ongoing work to extract that value”

        1. fhqwhgads*

          It is quicker than saying that, but too often in corporate-speak it’s used not to mean all that, but as a synonym for “do anything with at all”. It is an example of a word with specific useful meaning that gets diluted because it’s thrown around vaguely.

  19. Nonprofit admin*

    I’m an administrator at a nonprofit looking to make a career switch to IT support. I’m currently taking classes to get my CompTIA A+ certification. Anybody in the field have advice, or anything additional I should be doing? I’m really looking forward to no longer making nonprofit wages and would like to make the move as soon as I can.

    1. Rick Tq*

      What kind of IT support do you want to do? Hardware repair? Software support? What applications package(s) do you have high-level experience in? Job postings in your area will give you a good idea what skills you should develop to be a good candidate. Are you the internal support person for any specific software package? If so, that vendor might be a source of a job as a support tech.

  20. Zap R.*

    I’m an Office Admin. One of our client partners recently saw our office, made a big fuss about how beautiful it was, and then asked to hold an event for their company there. My company said yes without asking me and I ended up spending a work day facilitating an event for a company I don’t even work for. (Our employees were also upset that we couldn’t use our own meeting facilities for the day.)

    This is not the first time I’ve felt like my company treats me like an amenity that comes with the building rather then a full member of the team. Am I right to be upset about this latest incident? I didn’t receive any additional compensation.

    1. DiscouragedWorker*

      Did you have to work extra hours? Are you hourly or salary? I suspect whomever agreed to this thinks that being helpful to clients is part of the company’s role.

    2. Magenta*

      Did it mean that other work that needed doing couldn’t get done? Did you need to work extra hours? I think it is fair to push back on things that caused you or colleagues problems, extra work etc but unless there were extra hours etc involved I wouldn’t expect extra money.

    3. Ama*

      I wound up in that position once — although it was our ED who offered the space to someone (and then conveniently was out of town when the event happened so didn’t even have to deal with the after effects).

      I will say that my boss at the time (the Admin Director) was really not pleased how much work we ended up having to do (it went from “oh we’re just loaning them our conference room” to the admin staff having to come in early to set things up for them and manage the catering), and I don’t know what exactly she said to our ED but he never offered our space out to third parties again.

      I think it’s fair to itemize for your boss exactly how much work the event was (and any of your regular work that got delayed because of it), also mention the number of complaints you received from employees because the space wasn’t available, and ask that next time it be made clearer to the third party that they need to cover more of the event facilitation.

    4. Rosemary*

      If it did not require you to work extra hours, nor go against any sort of contract you might have that specifies your job duties (like someone in a union might have), not sure you can argue for additional compensation.

    5. J*

      Oh wow how I identify with this, even if I never figured out how to describe my feelings. I do think that inside of normal business hours, it does come with the territory though I’d log it under items I want to bring to a review. In my industry, we would regularly host clients in an “anything they want” kind of situation. In the meantime, I’d be addressing the issues that did pop up. It sounds like those are 1) availability to facilities, 2) communication to staff who access those facilities, 3) the extra work was all on you, 4) the pathway to booking the event, 5) maybe how it took away from your daily tasks. Then I’d meet with a decision maker to help make a clear workflow on how this works in the future (do you need additional conference space? a hospitality team? a booking system? bring solutions or at least ideas) and talk about how making this more regular thing will affect your daily performance on the things they’ve come to know and expect you’ll do, as well as the quality of event clients receive. I didn’t have success at it in the past and it did contribute to my burnout so please know it’s okay to push back, but they’re going to want to know how you’ll fix that since as Admin you’re job is to solve everything for everyone (not really, but that’s what they think!)

    6. Tio*

      I mean, if the work was regular office arranging sorts of things, this sounds like what I would expect of an office admin if we wanted to do something like this. It would be different if they were asking you to like, be a waiter at the event or something, that’s pretty outside of your job, but otherwise yeah, that’s not really out of whack to me. And while you’re not working for the client, you’re working for your company who does work for the client, and has chosen to spend their money (aka your salary) on.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Yup! We’re doing a similar thing with a clinic that has had to move out of their building into ours in order for the existing building to be refurbished. It’s a bit more work — they have their own receptionist to handle the patient data etc and set up a desk for them, but there are a lot more people visiting the office and being buzzed in and we have control of the door switch. We did have a concern over the seating area being halved in size as some IT people use it for informal meetings with people coming in to get their phones fixed, but in practice it’s quite amazing how many people you can fit into that area, and IT can always take people down into their actual offices anyway (which is what was said when we raised it as an issue to the guy surveying the offices and planning the set up).

        It’s part of your job to cater to the whims and tangents of your employer. We appreciate the increase in workload because it’s been very quiet for a long time now, but even if we were at full occupancy, what the building owner decides to do with the building is their prerogative. Your job is to help facilitate that. We don’t have standing to push back on this sort of thing and you don’t get to do the same with something that your company decides at a higher level for a client who is paying your wages. It just doesn’t work like that at all.

        What might help is if you do the extra now without complaint and show you can be helpful in a pinch, you’ll be able to put it on your resume and talk about it in an interview and leverage it that way. I’ve been doing ‘extra work’ for years now by having taken on responsibility for the franking machine and outgoing post from my supervisor early in my tenure, mainly to be quite honest because I was bored in a very reactive job and looking for more work within the office. It’s paying off now I’m looking for another job: I’m using it time and time again as a way I’ve been trusted with extra duties by being able to go above and beyond and have put my own stamp on my job. It’s not enough to be able to get a job, because reasons, but it’s certainly getting me bites from recruiters and employers for potential interviews.

        Your job is what you make of it. You don’t want to be a pushover or a doormat; my colleague has a different interpretation of things than I do and I’ve increasingly had to rein in her tendency to say yes too much to staff who we don’t report to and should know better than to ask us to do their work for them (including once when someone asked me to effectively break all kinds of privacy laws just to get her laptop charger when she’d left it at the office). But when it’s someone needing something and to whom you do report, you need to make the most of it, not only because it might affect your current employment but because it might make you look better to future employers.

    7. SB*

      This resonates with me…for the past two years a task that used to fall to the wife of the CEO (as part of her charitable foundation work) suddenly became my problem. In the two months leading up to the event I was expected to put in a lot of extra hours ensuring everything went off without a hitch on the night. Last year I was not paid for the extra hours so this year when the emails telling me what was required of me started coming in from his wife I set up a meeting with my direct manager & asked if we can clarify what is in my PD & if I do have to do this, we need to discuss payment. Turns out, the CEO was unaware that I had put extra hours into the task & was more than happy to pay me for the overtime. He has also asked his wife to hire an event planner for next year so I can concentrate on the job he pays me to do, not her charitable work. Glad I spoke up.

  21. JustMe*

    Do I have to ask for a raise?

    I just found out my coworker and I are now going to be required to get a new certification. We are at different levels/pay grades within our org, but we will both need to be certified llama groomers going forward. The org will pay for us to get the certification and it will greatly expand the org’s capacity to work with llamas.

    My coworker is part admin/part large animal groomer, whereas I’m full-time large animal groomer already. She wants to use the certification in llama grooming to ask for more money and to petition to be an exempt employee. Because I am also going to be getting the same llama groomer certification, should I petition for more money along with my coworker? Because of my title, I received an automatic merit increase a few weeks ago and would feel weird asking for more, but I don’t know if my coworker was eligible for one. But I also wonder if her case will be undermined if I receive the same certification and do not ask for anything. Thoughts?

    1. An Australian In London*

      I think the key here is “will greatly expand the org’s capacity to work with llamas”.

      That sounds commercially valuable to your organisation. If they were hiring someone already with this certification, they would expect to have to pay more for them than for someone without it.

      They might counter that they are paying for it by paying for the certification. Is the direct cost of the certification less than the hiring cost differential? I suspect it is.

    2. EMP*

      In your case, does the certification go along with more responsibilities/more work? If it does, I think you may as well bring it up – you can acknowledge your recent merit increase but still mention that after you get this certification you expect your responsibility will increase and want to know if you can expect a promotion/raise to go along with the added responsibility.

    3. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      A merit raise for past work has nothing to do with a new certification. You’d be asking for a raise based on new, valuable skills. This is more akin to a promotion-related raise.

    4. Random Academic Cog*

      We automatically receive a 5% raise when attain our standard industry certification (which our office pays for). If there’s a promotion right before or right after the certification, the 5% is counted as part of the raise (i.e., you might get a 15% raise instead of the 10% you would have gotten).

  22. RussianInTexas*

    A story that I was reminded by the letter from earlier this week, about cards, flowers, etc.
    Yeas ago, coworker’s husband was in the hospital. No idea what for, or for how long at this point. Someone organized a get well card. It was passed around in a folder, and basically passed open.
    About 70% of people, me included, asked “who is it for?”, got a response of “Danielle’s husband”, shrugged, and wrote “Congratulations”, because no one bother to look at the outside of the card.

    1. not a hippo*

      That’s darkly funny.

      Reminds me of when I had to put childhood dog down. It was an extremely traumatic event for reasons I won’t go into but I was full on ugly crying in the lobby of the vet’s office. The receptionist asked if I wanted a tissue. “Yes please,” I blubbered. And so she handed me a single 1 ply tissue.

      I had to laugh bc really, what is that going to do?

    2. Chaordic One*

      Sort of like when Rosemary Clooney had a nervous breakdown following the assassination of her good friend, Robert F. Kennedy. Bing Crosby, also a close friend, sent a bouquet to her in the hospital that supposedly included a note of congratulations. He later apologized, but told her that he thought she was in the hospital having another child. (Rosemary had 5 children.)

  23. Applying to Federal Government jobs in Canada*

    Hello fellow Canadians! Do any of you work in the federal government sector…. I’ve been looking at jobs and the application process seems very time consuming.

    As I completed the job application form online, I went to the “Screening Questions” section to see 21 questions applicants have to answer with 500 word responses on their suitability for the role.

    What in the *high school busy work* is this! It looked so time consuming and I was already tired in the evening before bedtime I paused the application.

    Any tips from current employees in the federal sector on how to navigate this?

    1. Kowalski! Options!*

      Greetings, fellow Canadian!
      Current member of the civil service here, and…oh, you are totally NOT wrong. It is known to be cumbersome, ridiculously repetitive, and take an absolutely stupid amount of time for applications to be processed and decisions to be made. Unfortunately, it’s considered a feature, not a bug – to ensure fairness throughout the hiring process, they try to make it thorough and comprehensive; and though they know that people can and do have a similar reaction to it, there’s little appetite to change the process.
      That said, here’s what I’d recommend:
      a) Check out the r/CanadaPublicServants subreddit. There’s a ton of information on the application process (especially in the FAQs) and how to make it less cumbersome.
      b) Track all of your answers in a spreadsheet or document, so that rather than having to retype similar answers every time you apply, you can use what you’ve written before and adapt the texts to the questions in subsequent application processes.
      c) Consider taking a term or casual position to get your foot in the door. These might be a little shaky if there are cutbacks in the next year or two, but more than one person I know has secured an indeterminate position this way.
      d) If your French isn’t all that great, take advantage of the VERY long lead time to polish up your grammar and speaking skills. That way, if you want to apply for a bilingual position, you’ve got a decent shot at getting the required level on the Second Language Exam.
      e) Don’t give up! I sometimes wonder if the whole rigamarole of applying is meant to discourage people and deter them from applying in the first place, but it can pay off.
      Bonne chance ! Que les chances soient toujours en votre faveur !!

    2. Fran*

      I gave up once- I honestly don’t remember how far I made it now but it was a post-grad recruitement thing for CSIS. I had just finished my masters, looked at the amount of work and went “nope!”

      1. Kowalski! Options!*

        It really defies common sense at times. And I don’t think they really grasp how it’s costing them talent, especially for IT positions, which are much better paid.

    3. GythaOgden*

      This is similar to the UK public sector application process.

      In practice, it’s not that bad — I’ve done it a few times over the last 18 months because it’s how you get a job in the NHS. I found that I could expand a lot more on my skills and background than on a regular cover letter, which is important for me because I’ve had a bit of a chequered career due to mental and neurological health issues. In two cases and in my initial application for the job I’m doing now — for relatively low level jobs — it was a single 1500 word essay, but in the latest application (which I ended up not doing because of other reasons), the questions (wanting 5000-character answers, so pretty much similar length of essay) walked me through the job description and helped me explain directly my experience and qualifications for each thing they wanted to see. It was essentially an interview in written form. Which is highly useful since I could sit and think about the times when something happened rather than have to dig deep on the fly and remember that stuff from previous/side jobs counts as much as stuff from my current job does etc etc etc.

      The reason I’m failing at interviews these days is that my catatonic job is not giving me enough experience on other admin tasks and so on, so to be honest something — be it essay questions or a test task — that allows me to go into more detail about who I am and what I can do than the average interview or my CV is a godsend. It’s the one part of the whole process that is biased towards me, and I’m going to grab it with both hands like a shipwrecked sailor grabs at driftwood.

      I may be biased because being on a business administration reception these days is slow enough to be effectively catatonic, and since no one gives a damn about what I’m doing on the computer and constructive dismissal is thoroughly illegal, I can job search to my heart’s content. It’s easier for me to compose something than it is for someone doing it around another job. But like cover letters, the opportunity to go into detail about who I am and why I think I’m the best person for the job is actually pretty useful. I’ve got the basics down — I write like I’m talking to a colleague about what I do — but as another data point I do find these things useful, because it shows what I can do and augments a pretty bad CV.

  24. Does lack of career progression look bad?*

    I was wondering on the optics of career progression for potential employers….I’ve been in my field for 12 years now post school and I haven’t cracked into a manager or supervisor level role yet. Does that look….bad in the eyes of potential employers that I haven’t had regular growth in my career compared to other applicants? I have switched organizations a couple not times due to bad managers, layoffs, older workers staying on to delay their retirement, and hiring freezes in the government sector that I’m in, haven’t helped.

    1. Amalfi*

      Are you taking on more complex assignments?
      Have you taken on any responsibilities for schedule/budget tracking?
      Are you working with greater autonomy?
      Are you contributing to high-level decision making?
      Have you developed into a go-to person?
      Do you train/mentor other people?

      Those are all examples of career progression. It’s impossible to tell how any given company will view someone who has been in the workforce for 12 years and is not working at a more advance level than they were when they started.

    2. Educator*

      Depends on what they are hiring for! If I am hiring a manager, not having management experience would likely be disqualifying, but if I am hiring for a high-level individual contributor, I really don’t care about management experience. Most hiring managers know that management is a really separate skill set and not the right fit for everyone. I would just want to see that you appeared to be engaged in your work and developing your skills. So I would be looking for innovative projects, ways you had improved things for internal or external clients, proof of growing expertise, etc. If you highlight impressive work on your resume, the progression won’t matter for many, many jobs.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        This. If you can show a progression in the level of the work you’ve been responsible for, even if it doesn’t mean a different title or management responsibilities, that’s good. Like if you have under an early job “participated in a project to XXXX” and then in a later one “led a project to YYYY,” that shows progress. Or if you’ve done any kind of mentorship or training, highlight that: it’s an indicator that you’ve progressed to a level where people trust you not only to do good work, but to help others learn to do good work as well.

    3. The New Wanderer*

      I would say it depends. Switching organizations can read as career progression because it indicates a range of experience with different places, so it’s not like you had one job at one company with no level change for a bunch of years…

      But speaking as someone who had one job at one company with no level change for a bunch of years, I don’t think it held me back. I’m an individual contributor at the senior level now, and I’ve never held a management or formal supervisory role. I think the accomplishments on my resume outweighed any perception of “gee she’s had the same title for 5 years.” I also have primarily applied to jobs that are similar (e.g. other IC jobs, definitely not management), so they expect to see the kind of experience that I have.

      However, if I wanted a management job, I would likely have difficulty getting one now because like Educator said, I don’t have that relevant experience. If that were my goal, I’d put effort into moving into supervisory or lead roles and building some resume content that way.

  25. Deskercize*

    Can anyone recommend a good desk bike or floor peddler? Specifically not looking for a treadmill, only elliptical or bike styles that are used while seated.

    1. RussianInTexas*

      I have Cubii JR2, seating only elliptical. I don’t use it while working because I am susceptible to motion sickness, can’t read/type while moving like that.
      But otherwise I like it enough.

    2. Bunny Watson*

      I also have the Cubii. I use it while taking a thinking/reading break or in zoom meetings where I only need to be in attendance, but not talk much. It takes up a bit of room, so I keep it to one side. But that does mean that when I just want to sit at my desk and not use it, I’m off to the other side of my desk which is limiting a bit. Overall though, I do like it and it helps me “move” a bit more in the day.

    3. A Girl Named Fred*

      I just got a DeskCycle 2 about two weeks ago, and I like it! I’m right at the top of their recommended height range so I do have to finagle it a little to avoid hitting my knees, but it’s really solidly made, was easy to put together, and is basically silent in its operation (I occasionally can hear the tiniest squeak or click, but if I pedal really fast for a second or go backward it usually stops again.)

      If you have any specific questions, I’d be happy to answer as best I can!

  26. Befuddled by change*

    Any tips for starting a new job at the same organisation?

    I am about to be officially offered a new role in my organisation. It’s a slight step up, but mostly a lateral move. I will be managing a project/area that is new for me, some of the basic project and people management will stay the same. Does anyone have tips for how to set myself up for success?

    I feel like I will be in a weird place where I will be expected to know a lot but equally some of it is totally new, with a new area, new office and some new people, so I’m not sure what will be different to starting a new new job and what will be the same.

    Plus any tips for what to do when starting a new job would also be appreciated.

    1. Anon Librarian*

      I am in the exact same position and I would also love some advice on how to navigate this shift, but I have none to offer! Nice to know I’m not the only one though.

    2. Lily Rowan*

      My job does a great job of putting people who are internal moves through the same (good) orientation process as new outside hires, so if they aren’t going to do that, can you do that for yourself? Get some intro meetings with key contacts, etc.? And honestly, just tell people when things are new! It’s easy to forget when you’ve known someone for a while.

      Good luck!

  27. Rigid Job postings*

    Has anyone noticed how….rigid online job postings are? Like they include a minute listing of jobs functions very specific to the organization and expect candidates to completely be knowledgeable and adept at that? And then don’t get me started on how the candidates must know the organization’s policy and practices before working there and are graded on this in the interview?!

    What happened to applicants applying with, let’s say 85 Percent suitability to the job’s functional tasks, in addition to their own experience?

    1. Hanani*

      It sounds like the interviews you’ve experienced also had this level of absurd requirement, but some of the fault may lie with HR. I’m in the middle of a search that we had to re-open because HR kept screening people out for not having x years of experience in our extremely niche area. We don’t need someone with exact experience – transferrable skills are fine here, and there are maybe a handful of people in the country who would be able to say they’d done Specific Thing for x years. Deeply frustrating.

    2. J*

      YES! My past employer was even mocked on an industry website for it (which thankfully actually made them address this). I tend to think they confuse job postings with a job description and the standards you’ll be held to in a performance review. There’s also so much jargon – I don’t know what your AI&IQPR-123 team is so spell it out or list it on your website or link it or do anything other than make it look like your cat walked across your keyboard.

    3. Seahorse*

      When I was job searching a couple years ago, multiple interviewers asked me, “what do you think would be the biggest challenge you’d face in this job?”
      Like… wouldn’t you know better than me? I can speak to my own strengths and weaknesses, but the context of the question always centered around internal policies and politics that an outsider would have no clear way of knowing.

    4. lost academic*

      I’m trying to envision why it happens and I am starting to think it has a lot to do with bad hires and HR saying “but you didn’t put it in the posting/job description so you can’t now expect them to do it!”

      Which I think is silly but it’s out there.

      1. pally*

        Thinking similarly.
        I’m thinking that HR asks the hiring manager to list every. single. task. the new hire will be expected to do. Even if said task is less than once per year.

        The hiring manager dolls up a list of three dozen bullet points thinking that someone will ask that the list be trimmed down into “need to have” and “can train for”. Meanwhile the HR person is thinking this is a comprehensive job description and awaits the One Who Matches All 36 Criteria.

        Hiring manager can’t believe what the job ad reads when it goes live. They spend the first several minutes in each interview explaining to each candidate the subset of bullet points that are essential and what are not. Discovers that no one really meets what they are looking for.

      2. Random Academic Cog*

        Previous job posting said something like “strong computer skills” and our new hire listed Word, PowerPoint and Excel under skills (or something along those lines). Turned out they didn’t know how to do really basic tasks in any of those (and this was NOT an entry-level role). HR said we couldn’t terminate based on that because we didn’t specify any software in the job description. The next job posting was super specific and way more extensive.

    5. Educator*

      Sounds like organizations using job descriptions rather thank job postings—which is like putting up a Craigslist ad with a hundred tiny components that could be assembled into a desk, rather than what the finished desk will look like like. No one needs that level of internal detail until they are actually digging in on the work, and it is off putting to overshare at the wrong phase. Put up a high-level posting that gives an overview of the role.

  28. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

    Hi! I heard my regional manager – basically my boss’ boss – talk about some interviews for a specific position he’s got coming up. I didn’t hear the first part of the conversation, but I heard him say “(my trainer’s first and last name), an internal candidate, she isn’t qualified, but….” He made it sound like it was more of a courtesy interview than anything else. And if he hadn’t said her first and last name, I’d be letting that comment go, but I’m pretty sure my trainer is the only person at our company with that exact name.

    Should I say anything? My trainer and I aren’t close and we’re also virtual. She doesn’t have any managerial duties over me, she’s just showing me the ropes on the job we do (I just want to give context).
    The only reason why I am even debating saying anything is because I’ve had internal courtesy interviews done to me and once I found out that’s all they were (after the fact), I wish I would have just gotten the rejection. Or, had I known it was a courtesy interview and I could use it for practice, something other than making me feel like I had a real chance, practicing and getting nervous like I had a shot.

    Like I said, we’re not close, but on the off chance my trainer doesn’t know, I am debating whether it would be a kindness or just not say anything.

    1. EMP*

      Don’t say anything. You can’t be sure it’s a courtesy interview or what the context was that you didn’t overhear. You just don’t have enough info to pass anything along.

    2. CheeryO*

      No, I definitely wouldn’t share that, especially since you’re not close. What if you misheard (however unlikely), or what if the other candidates don’t end up being as good as they expected? I don’t see the point of letting it get to her head when the best course of action (imo) is to interview anyway and just see what happens.

      1. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        i was leaning towards not saying anything anyway, but i’m glad i posted this, so i could get feedback. you’re right, i don’t know the full story and while if i knew, i might not interview, if she knew, she still might. or something like that, who knows. but it’s not my call to make.

    3. Voluntoldyouso*

      Since you didn’t hear the whole thing , and it sounds like you don’t know what followed that but, I wouldn’t say anything. For all you know it could have been a “… but we think she’s a good candidate anyway.”

      1. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        unfortunately it was not (he has all his calls on speaker). but you’re right in that i don’t know the whole story!

  29. Little Beans*

    I have generally always had really good collegial relationships with my colleagues, but I am struggling with our communications team. We keep having the same 2 interactions: 1) we ask them for help with a project, and it gets really delayed because of their bandwidth and/or ends up not being what we wanted, or 2) we just do something ourselves and after spending time and energy on it, are told we can’t use it. I’m at the point where I’d really rather never have their help if it meant we also don’t have to follow all of their rules (this is internal communications in our group, not like our official company brand or anything).

    1. Glazed Donut*

      Oh man, I can relate. The cherry on top is when an exec says “Why hasn’t ____ gone out yet?” and I get to say “I don’t know, comms has had it for 3 months.”
      I’ve tried to do just SLIGHT sucking up to them so they know we all want the same thing and there are no hard feelings (or the appearance of that). I suppose from their POV, they are just background workhorses –always understaffed– and the personalized touch MAY help. But also it may not! Comms and procurement/invoicing are my least favorite part of the job.

      1. Elder Grad Student*

        Comms person here: always impacted, never enough time, but also tasked with managing brand voice and style, etc. I suggest you draft something and bring it to them with a “here is what we are thinking, can you work with this?” vibe, and that might help.

        1. Little Beans*

          Helpful to have a comms person give input!! I’d love to hear more from your perspective. From our side, it comes across as: “you have to do things as professionally as a person with comms/design skills even though your role does not have those skills, and we won’t tell you in advance how to do it so just spend your time trying different things and failing, but also don’t ask us to do it for you because we’re too busy”.

  30. DiscouragedWorker*

    When our company’s LGBT group started, it had a lot of support from employees. That support has dropped, and it seems to me that a lot of this is from people who while they may support LG, they are bothered by what they feel is unfair treatment to biological girls with respect to sports, locker rooms etc. These issues are NOT part of our workforce (office work), BUT it really seems that people are turning away from the LGBT+ group. It is hard to have discussions on this. Any suggestions???

    1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      like I would only chase people who actually care about the issue. Like if you’re worried about what if 5 kids are on the ‘ wrong’ team why are you even in this affinity group? It’s like going to the black affinity group and saying a bunch of stuff about how you’d support black people ‘ if’

      1. DiscouragedWorker*

        No one is attending group functions and being non-supportive, it is just that attendance has REALLY shrunk.

        1. Fitz*

          In terms of actionable advice, you’d want to see which is the case and go from there. If it’s the former, you can’t really do anything about it, unfortunately. If it’s the latter, making it clear where your ERG stands and offering explanatory sessions for people who are genuinely curious about how being trans/additional testerone/etc relates to sports can help. (The difference between the genuinely curious and not is that the former will actually listen to an explanation for why all the discourse is bogus and how it has a strong relationship to the marginalization of non-white, especially black, women, whereas the latter will just cut off after “it isn’t fair, no matter what you say.”)

    2. Ez*

      IMO the TERFs can show themselves the door; if they’re not supporting the whole community then they shouldn’t be representing it in such a group.

      1. DiscouragedWorker*

        I really do not want to get into name calling. It is not that people are actively supporting the group, just that they no longer show up.

          1. RussianInTexas*

            I honestly thing these things ebb and flow depending on what’s in the news, your organization’s demographic, and people just in general stop doing things without malicious intent. They participated for a while, life got in the way, and now they don’t.
            At some point the women’s group in your organization will reach it’s peak and go down.

            1. MsM*

              I have the same question. If there’s company-wide discomfort with the T part of LGBT+, it seems to me that a small team committed to making sure anyone who falls under that umbrella is able to at least use the restrooms without being hassled is better than a bigger group that’s just going to reinforce that bias. And if leadership support is more contingent on meeting quotas than whether this is an important thing that needs to be addressed, what even is the point of having an officially-sanctioned group?

        1. Fitz*

          Calling someone a TERF isn’t name-calling, it’s descriptive. If people’s anti-trans sentiments (especially in this fraught legislative environment) prevent you from growing the LGBTQ+ employment group, what you’ve found is that either you a) work in an environment where most people are at least somewhat anti-trans or b) you’re trying to please everyone, including the bigots, so obviously true allies or even just members of the community see no reason to show up.

          1. Roland*

            I gotta say that I don’t like how “TERF” has become the go-to for anything related to transphobia. Why do we have to automatically blame all transphobia on women? There’s literally nothing saying that self-identified radical feminists are driving anything in this thread. What’s wrong with just saying “transphobe”.

            1. J*

              I know it’s shorthand but I feel the same way. Many of the TERF-labeled people are misogynist men or tradwife kind of people and TERF is supposed to be more of a callout on those in a feminist space.

            2. Former Hominid*

              I think if these are people who would otherwise support an LGB group but are scoffing at the T then yeah TERF is most likely a correct descriptor because a more general purpose bigot would be against a LGBT+ group as a whole. Also, the descriptor of person who cares (or pretends to care) about LGB but is hung up on the T specifically because of “fairness in women’s sports” (insert eyeroll here) then they’re coming at this from a “feminist” (not at all but they think so) angle. Its unfortunate but we’ve seen it historically that marginalized groups can be turned against other ones by lies that granting rights to one will take rights from another. It’s also important that we call this what it is when we see it.

              1. Irish Teacher*

                Yeah, if they are saying “I am pro-LGBT rights but am leaving/don’t want to join the organisation because I am concerned about the impact on women in sport,” then…it sounds like they are excluding trans women from their definition of women and are speaking from a version of feminism (or what they consider to be feminism) that focuses on cis women only and excludes trans and non-binary women, so it seems like it might be accurate in this case.

              1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

                And I for one would love it if it underwent semantic shrinkage and we just used the perfectly serviceable word “transphobes”! Enough people hate feminists already, let’s not roll in anti-feminism with our anti-transphobia.

    3. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      I think you’re making assumptions based on facts not in evidence. When the group was new, a lot of people joined it. Now people’s participation is dropping. You don’t seem to have asked why, but just decided you already know?

      Why not reach out to the people who’ve stopped coming and ask? Not accusatorily, but to find out if there is something that would draw them back.

      Maybe they just got really busy at work. Maybe they don’t think it’s useful. Maybe they thought there would be content that hasn’t happened and instead of raising it they just stopped showing up. Maybe they had an issue that got solved so now they don’t think they need it.

    4. Anon for This*

      Probably issue fatigue. I have seen this with various affinity groups where I work. The people who really care about the issues form the core group. Allies only have so much time in the day so their interest ebbs and flows. After George Floyd all the DEIA groups flourished. Then interest waned in favor of LGBT+ groups. Now the big interest is the work-life balance group fighting to keep telework. Your colleagues may still be allies in your broader cause, but the controversy over sports may be turning people away no matter which side of the issue they are on – gee, all we do is argue about this thing that has nothing to do with our workplace – and their interest has now shifted to something else.

    5. Qwerty*

      Did people cite sports as why they no longer support the group or did the group just shrink and you are searching for explanations? I’ve experienced the latter, so that’s what my answer focuses on. For the former, you’ll probably need some help from HR.

      My experience with ERGs is that they start off with a bunch of interest which rapidly declines. One women’s group started with enthusiasm from half the company and the meetings quickly reduced to a handful of people.

      You might get a boost from:
      1. Company supported event where the ERG plays a big role/focus, states what it needs from employees, and has company leaders encouraging people to join/volunteer/attend events
      2. Special months like Pride, X-History Month etc. that are used as recruitment / education efforts
      3. Bad events where employees feel a need to show support to a group under a new and shocking attack, especially if company leaders are talking about the issue. This is usually very short lived.

      Reasons people drop out
      – Work schedule
      – It was the Shiny New Object but the shininess wore off
      – People have good intentions but short attention spans
      – New groups started or went through a recruitment phase, so attentions were diverted elsewhere
      – Special season like Summer Break or Winter Holidays
      – Feeling that the group is not making a difference or that *their* attendance isn’t making a difference
      – Feeling that other activities/groups they are in fulfill that support need (maybe their kids’ school has a similar group they work with, or volunteer with a X charity, or their professional society is focused on X issues, etc)
      – Feeling overwhelmed with issues relating to X. During Pride or X-history months, every single group/company/collective is All About X, which can decrease rather than increase membership because it is everywhere
      – Lack of company support for the ERG

    6. Head sheep counter*

      Is it possible to do a survey to find out what folk need from a LGBT group in your work environment with the constraints that work groups have? eg be specific that while the work of such a group here means “we focus on Llama company problems” or if its ok to talk large systematic challenges and create an environment for folk to be “heard”. Work groups can have some issues retaining momentum and interest if they are not clear about what they are and what they aren’t.

    7. Sick of Bigots*

      I don’t have any suggestions, just commiseration and speculation.

      I’m in Texas. It’s dangerous right now for members of the LGBT+ community. Self-identifying as a member of the group or as an ally is dangerous. Like, could-get-you-killed dangerous.

      The old rallying cry of “Be Loud and Be Proud” is hard to do when you’re looking at jail time just for existing or for supporting someone else’s existence.

      Several friends of mine with trans, non-binary, and/or gay children are in the middle of interviewing for out of state jobs and/or packing up their houses after receiving offers to move out of Texas and get settled before school starts again in Aug/Sept.

      Attendance has dropped in our LGBT+ group at work, too, and I suspect it’s because no one wants a target on their back.

  31. What happens after you apply to a job online???*

    What does it look like in this modern era from the HR side ….after hundred of people apply for a job and then the company has all these applications?

    When applications are received currently….does the software like BambooHR sort through candidates and then recommend a subset to the HR staff to review specifically….to avoid Hr staff reviewing hundreds of applications?

    To recruiting staff….is there a concern with AI and automated sorting of job applications that certain…. candidates would be pushed forward based on….perhaps having a more Anglo-Saxon name?

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      We used BambooHR at my old job. The way it worked for us was that every time someone applied, both the HR manager and the hiring manager got an alert that there was a new application. At our leisure, we could go into the system, review all the applicants, and flag the ones we were interested in pursuing. It could be that other companies had a premium version of BambooHR that used keywords or AI or something else to weed through the applications, but for us it was a manual process. (Which often meant that, at some point, we decided our pool was large and talented enough and stopped looking at additional incoming applications.)

    2. Panicked*

      It depends on the set up of the company and the program they use. For my small company, I have screener questions set up to filter out non-qualified applicants. I’m sure larger organizations have a better setup.

    3. J*

      There’s some really interesting discrimination and employment law changes happening re: AI and the application process. I know NYC has a new hiring law this year – tentatively next month (I know links get caught by filters so a quick “NYC AI Law” or AEDT search should find it) and the entire state is reviewing this. More to your question, usually the name itself isn’t exactly the issue but they might screen automatically for some universities and say exclude a HBCU which of course excludes certain racial backgrounds. This is a very gray and new area so it’ll probably be outdated by the time I hit submit, but you’re definitely asking about issues that exhaust lawyers and HR folks but they should be thinking about the kinds of things you’re asking and they likely weren’t before.

    4. Decidedly Me*

      We’ve had knockout questions in the past, but currently don’t except for location (yes, we list the locations we hire in, but people don’t always pay attention to that). We literally review all of them – even when there are hundreds.

      I think AI sorting or certain types of knock outs can be a problem (and have run into issues with them before), but I don’t see them knocking people out based on the sound of their name.

    5. Educator*

      Some HR software actually hides candidate names to help limit bias, which is pretty cool! I like to think of myself as a very inclusive hiring manager, but I still use that function, because why not?

      1. Observer*

        Very much this.

        To me if someone gets on their high horse about why they shouldn’t need to use such a feature, that’s a red flag for me.

    6. Observer*

      To recruiting staff….is there a concern with AI and automated sorting of job applications that certain…. candidates would be pushed forward based on….perhaps having a more Anglo-Saxon name?

      If you’re not worried about this, they you SHOULD be! Not so much the name thing, but there are a lot of other issues.

      It’s a moral, pragmatic and in some cases a legal issue. There are laws in some areas now about how much responsibility you have to make sure that you AI is not discriminating, intentionally or not.

      1. Bart*

        Then there is my workplace. We receive every application and have to use our predetermined matrix to determine who is missing required qualifications. It takes a long time but I think we have a system that errs on the side of keeping applications in the pool. But it is a slow process.

  32. Flowers*

    All, tysm for answering my questions about evals a few weeks back!

    First – everyone raised excellent points. Looking back I do see that my initial post included way too much emotion; I’m glad I posted here so that I could rein it in time. I ended up scoring myself mostly satisfactory or above average in a few things. It’s scheduled for next week so I’m trying to be relaxed about it, practice hte scripts that people suggested (if needed!), and brush up on salary things (question about that below). 

    Second – about feeling excluded and wanting to ask them why they hired me – in my mind they were linked together somehow. In a nutshell, I was hired for one position but ended up doing that plus other things. The team I work with had no idea I was part of their team until months later. So it was like…hey you hired me to do this thing but I’m doing other things and maybe that’s why they don’t consider me one of them? But….ultimately it matters less and less I suppose. The only one who did know was the supervisor who’s been the one to be very exclusive. There were examples of being excluded that affected my work which I didn’t mention previously, but they’ve been resolved since.  So…with all that, a few follow up questions:

    Has anyone ever gone in “blind” to an evaluation with no idea of what to expect only wrt salary? I have an idea based on a few resources I googled but Glassdoor doesn’t have much information on my company and I’m not close enough to anyone here to ask. My pay was/is in the range for what I was hired to do/ended up doing, and given my experience level, I think it was more than fair….but I still have no idea if I should prepare to negotiate or not. The only thing I’m really planning to push back on is a title change. 

    Would it be unusual to take my copy of my review in to the meeting with me and take notes while they talk? I’m not anticipating any huge surprises, but jotting down a few things here and there – I tend to find it challenging to listen and write notes simultaneously..

    If these questions seem odd or too basic…well it’s been 8 years since I had my first eval (and 4 since the last one) and was out of work for 2 years prior to this. I came from a less-than-great environment so I’ve spent a lot of time trying to make sure I didn’t bring any bad habits here.. 

    1. londonedit*

      I can’t speak to the salary, etc, as our yearly appraisals don’t have anything to do with pay reviews. But no, I don’t think it would be weird at all to make notes and/or have your own copy of the review document with you. In fact, that would be completely normal! Do you have a sense of how the review/appraisal meeting is supposed to work? Where I am, the employee fills in the form (which isn’t about grading themselves, it’s about what’s gone well, where you do feel you need more support, do you want any training, etc) and then in the appraisal meeting the employee and their manager talk through the form and add any other info or details that come out of the discussion (which is very much a two-way thing) and then both parties sign off on the final version of the document. It sounds as if you’re expecting it to be a more one-sided affair, where you sit and listen to your manager’s evaluation of you? Of course, it may well be like that, but if it is then I’d suggest your company isn’t doing particularly effective appraisals. It should be an opportunity to talk with your manager about how things are going, what support you might need, and what your aspirations for the future are. So first off I’d suggest getting some more info about the sort of meeting it’ll be. But at any rate, it’s perfectly normal and reasonable for you to bring your own copy of the review form you’ve filled out, and to make notes on it, and also to discuss anything your manager does bring up before it’s added to the final document.

      1. Flowers*

        Your last sentence is a good point I never really considered –

        the way it worked at my last job, we filled ours out and the managers filled out their evaluation of us and they’d have their copy of our self-eval. During the meeting, they’d tell us what they rated us and how it compared to what we rated ourselves. I assumed whatever they put was final.

        From what I’ve gathered, it’s pretty much the same process where I filled my self eval out, my boss is filling out his for me, and I’m meeting with him + 1 partner this coming week. I’m not sure though if it’s a final one and if I get a copy of it – I will make a note to ask.

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      It’s entirely normal in every place I’ve worked to take in a copy of your review to the meeting and write notes on it. In my case, it’s the easiest way to remember what we agreed regarding my goals for the upcoming year.

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      It’s fine to take notes, it shows you’re actively listening to what the feedback is and you want to be able to incorporate it later. A lot of people tie self worth into their job, and so it’s pretty normal to feel emotional about hearing about what you aren’t doing well at work. Taking notes can help you to be able to come back to the feedback in a safe/calm mindset later too.

      Salary discussion isn’t always in eval meetings. Just don’t be surprised if it doesn’t come up. Salary increases in my current job are actually just tied to the score on your eval.

  33. Sara*

    I need a sanity check from the commenters! This is a little long, sorry.

    In November I approached my manager about what I would need to be promoted to a senior level. He said he thought I was ‘ready’ but needed his manager to sign off on it, and suggested we wait to approach him til after the holidays. I was fine with that, no rush. Its a small company, I know the grandboss pretty well. He sometimes calls me to ask random questions related to my current and past role within the company. Its not like he’s unfamiliar with my work. After the holidays, grandboss said he was in agreement but we were selling our company and it was a bad time. All changes were frozen until the close. After March, when the sale closed, we could rediscuss it and they also froze our COL raise until the sale closed too (then backpaid us), so it made sense.

    Now its the end of June and according to my manager, the grandboss is still saying “we love Sara, we definitely want to move her up, let’s talk more about this next week” or during their 1 on 1 he runs out the clock so they don’t get to that part of the agenda. My manager is frustrated, I’m frustrated (and looking elsewhere at this point) but I’m also not sure what a reasonable timeline for this might be. I think my manager is being super passive as well but I am not in the coverstations so I don’t know exactly what is being said, but we’ve gone over his bullet points/my accomplishments so I’m aware of how I’m being presented. It seemed like my manager got promoted to Sr. Manager pretty easily so I trusted the process which seems to be an error in retrospect. The other team my grandboss oversees just promoted two people this week and its reignited my manager’s frustration which he’s communicated with me and said he’s scheduled time specifically to discuss this with grandboss – though the grandboss tried to hijack that meeting to discuss something else and he had to keep redirecting him back.

    I feel like this is too long a timeline and I need to just accept it isn’t going to happen. Clearly grandboss doesn’t want to promote me for whatever reason but refuses to outright say it. (When this was like a couple months in, I asked my manager if it was just a no – I can accept a no, maybe some steps to accomplish first, the limbo is the frustrating part. He said it wasn’t.)

    My manager keeps saying he’s working on it, and it’ll be done ‘soon’. I think at this point I’ve let it go on too long and I can’t approach Grandboss directly about it, its a battle between manager and grandboss. I think I’m just over it complete, but maybe I’m being unreasonable!

    1. Little Beans*

      Well, my most recent promotion took over a year, but I work in an insanely bureaucratic place with an overstretched boss so this didn’t really surprise me at all.

    2. WellRed*

      If they want to promote you, they can promote you. It’s good you’re looking elsewhere.

    3. Random Academic Cog*

      Our promotions are supposed to be in the budget TWO YEARS in advance. Ditto extra staffing unless we take on new responsibilities that justify a quicker timeline. Really depends on your company culture and norms. 4-5 years between promotions is pretty standard in my world.

    4. Tio*

      I would not go to your grandboss directly, but perhaps you could ask your boss to schedule a meeting with the 3 of you to discuss? Would also be harder for GB to hijack in that case.

      The schedule looked normal until after the sale and it stalled out. If the others hadn’t been promoted I would have wondered if the sale had some sort of new roadblocks he was trying to work around, but since other people got promoted, it sounds like that’s not it. I’d say it’s probably unlikely to budge anytime soon now. If they had anything like a reason to deny, or anything they could twist into a reason to deny, I think they’d have trotted it out by now.

  34. MissGirl*

    I was laid off yesterday. Luckily, I saw it coming and prepared my finances and started job hunting, but today I feel so (insert one of five revolving emotions). I was so excited to get this job. While my previous company was stable, I was bored and underpaid. This new company had great ratings, record earnings in 2022, and all its employees sang its praises. I got a 25% pay increase and walked away from interviewing at five other companies to not even last six months. Now I’m job hunting in a way worse environment than last fall.

    And the way they handled layoffs was so bad. We all got called into a meeting at 4 pm and told there would be layoffs the next morning (all in the interest of being transparent, gag). Someone tried to log into their stock options and was locked out. The word spread and we all figured out who was getting the boot from our stock company within an hour. Between this and January’s layoffs, 2/3 of the company is gone. I think they’re stripping it down to sell it. But at least, we saw it coming. January’s layoffs came literally a week after they announced record earnings with bonuses and raises.

    How do you trust to take another offer? How do you feel safe at another company? I feel like every time I make a leap forward in my career, I get slammed backward to start again.

      1. J*

        I’m so sorry. Give yourself a scheduled depression time. I took 2 weeks after my last layoff. Then I created a daily schedule and stuck to it pretty rigidly, from job searching to cleaning to doing self care and tie dying and making soup. Schedule more depression time as needed. I still have not recovered enough to feel safe at another company but I did enough self care to respect myself enough to not take jobs that exploit me, which is a huge step. I went to some really dark places in those early days (layoff + pandemic really doubled it up) and I just realized I could never let a job do that to me again.

        One thing I wish I had done was reached out to others more. I’m at my current job because a contact reached out to me after I’d settled in somewhere else. She said if she knew I was laid off, she would have reached out even earlier. Every time I thought about reaching out, I was filled with shame and blame for myself and the few times I did connect there was none of that. I didn’t want their sympathy but when say I asked a colleague if she’d be a peer reference, she happily agreed when I assumed she’d ignore me at best. I still needed time before agreeing to lunch with anyone (even outside of the pandemic, I was too emotional about that job) but now I’m really trying to choose the relationships I want to keep because I do know jobs aren’t permanent in a way I didn’t before, even as a historic job hopper.

        1. MissGirl*

          Thanks, this answers a question I asked below about publicly posting on LinkedIn. I need to use my network.

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      I’ve been through 6 or 7 layoffs, and my last was a termination.

      What I learned is that you don’t trust them except to act on/for their own best interests. Where theirs and yours align, then things are going well. When they don’t, look to see if there is anything better and/or to change things within the company.

    2. Sko’den*

      I agree with J in terms of structure and letting yourself grieve. Work is a big part of (many of) our identities. I set goals in terms of number of jobs to apply to each week, time spent at the library researching resume tips and job openings (which also got me out of the house). I emailed a few contacts and let them know I was looking and asked if I could pass along my resume.
      Moving forward my advice is to always remember you work for yourself, you’re employed by [employer]. They’re looking out for their bottom line and you need to look out for yours as well. Hopefully you & your employer align but if not, be prepared to do what needs to be done (within reason ethically & legally) to keep yourself happy/above water etc.

      Good luck & know you’re not alone.

    3. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. It’s a crappy thing to experience, and few things make you feel more powerless in this world.

      My only advice is that you’re never really “safe” at any company, so it’s helpful to reframe your thinking on that from “how do I feel safe” to “how do I cope knowing that I’m never really safe?” For me, that looks like always having my resume up to date, and always passively keeping an eye on the job boards. Good luck vibes your way!

      1. MissGirl*

        Thanks for phrasing that better than I did. I worked through the great recession and watched so many companies and jobs crash and burn. How do you get to a level of peace, knowing you are never truly safe? I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

  35. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    Ah! the awkwardness of ice breakers! I saw a pretty bad one this week! Mental health check in! Everyone: my mental health is a 9! One lady: Well I’m almost an 8, but somebody in my family died! me: ….( in my head) what is the point of this bizarre ritual??

    But you guys must have worse ice breakers. please share

    1. Elle*

      Describe your worst date. It got very uncomfortable when people gave too much physical detail.

      1. Alex*

        Wow, that’s super inappropriate!

        That requires people to out themselves if not out….could be about sex, so not cool! Wow.

      2. kiki*

        This one is bad on multiple levels! One of which is that there are certainly funny bad dates, but legit scary things can happen on dates too

    2. Rainy*

      Somewhat apropos of the question post today…I took a public speaking course my first year in undergrad where the first-day “get to know you” icebreakers meant going around the room and offering all your demographic information including religion, so we could “know our audience”. I had just escaped from a cult and was at that point in my personal arc a newly-minted baby pagan, and the instructor felt it appropriate to stop the introductions and quiz me in a really inappropriate and verbally abusive way about why I wasn’t Christian. (She did something similar but less abusively to the one Jewish student in the class as well.)

        1. Rainy*

          She was a terrible instructor in virtually every way. It felt like being back in elementary school with those teachers who super obviously favored the students who were their idea of an “All American” boy or girl.

    3. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      “What is your porn star name?” For a meeting on addressing sexism in the workplace.

      1. Generic Name*

        OMG, I experienced that icebreaker in a “professional” organization meeting. Folks were yucking it up, but it made me uncomfortable.

        1. Rainy*

          The saddest part is that if you want to do an icebreaker like “what is your X name” you can 100% just make one up. Literally any type of name: firefighter name. Yoga teacher name. Used car salesman name. Whatever. Pick some combo of initials, pet names, favourite colours or candies, whatever, put them together so they make a silly name. People will do it! And it’ll be fun and not weird at all!

    4. Irish Teacher*

      Never had a really bad ice-breaker in and of itself but I did have a trainer who handled an ice-breaker in a way that annoyed me.

      I’ve mentioned this guy before; he was training us on restorative practice.

      Anyway, he did an ice-breaker on what we liked about teaching. I gave a list of things I liked, then added that I liked it all really, with the exception of dealing with students with severe behavioural problems and he responded with something like, “oh, I’m sure you find teaching difficult a lot, so.” Which, no, I don’t. I have had maybe three students in my six years in the school who would fall into that category.

      (Part of my irritation might be contextual; he seemed to take any opportunity to interpret any comment anybody made as meaning they were unable to manage discipline issues.)

      Oh, while this wasn’t exactly an ice-breaker as it was to finish the last session, he finished up by asking each of us to mention something we’d learnt and added that what he had learnt was you can’t please everybody (by which he was implying he weren’t grateful enough for his training).

    5. Can't Sit Still*

      I had a department head who required people to describe their most embarrassing work-related moment. If this is sprung on people unannounced, they will likely share their most humiliating experience, which is very awkward and embarrassing for everyone, and yes, some people did lose their jobs over what they shared. I started warning new hires about this requirement, and my manager was very disappointed when he started getting curated stories from new hires. The rest of the department was very relieved, though.

      1. Observer*

        That’s just mind blowing. If these are new hires, then the stories can’t have been about what happened in this workplace. What could someone have said that would justify firing?!

        Also, was this guy just clueless or was he setting people up on purpose?

        1. Can't Sit Still*

          I really don’t know what his malfunction was. He was very difficult to work for, in general. He was the guy who told me he wanted to “break” me. I should have walked out then, but I was young and foolish and had something to prove. It took years to recover from working for him after I finally left. He didn’t get the promotion he was gunning for, so that’s something, I guess.

          As for people losing their jobs, people who were put on the spot would talk about things that showed incredibly poor judgment, for one thing. You know, that story you would never dream of telling in an interview and should only tell your SO, your therapist, or your priest?

    6. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      although this girl right now said ‘ I don’t know. Let me do my work’ on the question ‘whar ice cream flavor is your mood today?’

    7. Annie B*

      One really dysfunctional company I worked for did a staff retreat and made everyone go around and say what bug they would be if they were a bug. My coworker said he would be a dung beetle “because all day long I’m dealing with shit,” then he got up and left and didn’t come back.

      1. Can't Sit Still*

        I have nothing but the deepest respect for your former co-worke, because that is the perfect response to that question..

    8. InsufficentlySubordinate*

      “Tell us something unique about you that no one else knows. ” We had been ordered in on a Saturday because they wouldn’t take weekday time for an all hands department meeting.

      A male co-worker said, “Oh, hmmm, I know! I stripped to earn money for my graduate degree!” A woman hoping to break the dumbfounded silence said, “Oh, that’s where I know you from!” He said, “No, no, honey, you wouldn’t have been at that club.” Our Webmaster, who was next to speak, said, “I’m good! He wins.” And no one else would say anything else.

      And that tells you much about the professional level at that place.

      1. Grandma Mazur*

        This made me laugh out loud! Alison, can you run a(nother?) readers’ thread on worst icebreakers please!

    9. WorkingRachel*

      This wasn’t an ice breaker, but an interview question: they asked me about the worst thing that has ever happened to me at work and how I handled it. The top two or three actual worst things are sad stories that no one wants to hear in an interview and that don’t have satisfying endings: a student having a violent breakdown, having to intervene during someone’s mental health crisis (and that one was in a bog standard office job). For other people the “worst thing” would be downright traumatizing. I think I understand where they were going with it, but it was poorly phrased and made some really naive and privileged assumptions about what happens at work.

      1. Anon for this*

        The worst thing that happened to me at work was doing CPR on someone who died. I guess I could talk about that at an interview but I’d really rather not.

        Worst icebreaker: a training event where the trainer got us to say our names and what children we had. And if someone said “none”, he said “you lucky thing”. I was undergoing fertility treatment at the time.

  36. Alt name for this question*

    (Not posting from usual name for this one!)

    My therapist, psychiatrist and another doctor have offered to submit a recommendation that I take FML due to extreme burn out and stress that is resulting in panic attacks and exasperating existing physical health issues. I could use a little encouragement that I’m not a weak person for using FML/Short Term Disability for mental health?

    Also, has anyone else gone out on FML/Short Term Disability? How did it impact your career when you returned?

    1. Rainy*

      PLEASE TAKE THE FMLA LEAVE! Sorry to shout! Please do it. If you have three health care professionals urging you to take short term leave for health reasons, I think you should do it. You are not a weak person, you sound very strong that you are still going to work despite having panic attacks and physical issues resulting from stress, but you don’t need to “suck it up”, you need to get better.

      I haven’t done this, but I had a coworker recently who had to go out for a few months on short term leave (no idea why, not my business), and we made it work without her and were glad to have her back when she was cleared to return.

    2. Irish Teacher*

      You’re not a weak person at all. Mental health is health; it’s no more a judgement of strength than any other health condition would be.

      And heck, I don’t have a thyroid. If my medication were too low, I could experience depression as a symptom and if the dosage were too high, I could experience anxiety. That I haven’t is completely due to the medication being correct and nothing to do with my personal strength. I think that sort of highlights how mental health is health.

    3. Em*

      You’re not weak. Your brain has a repetitive stress injury and needs a break, just like if you’d screwed up your wrists typing. Taking some time to give it some rest is wise and means you won’t wind up needing to take long-term disability or permanently breaking it.

    4. Pluto*

      Only a strong person would be able to fight against the fucked up culture expectation of killing yourself for your job. Be strong – choose yourself.

    5. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      Sorry to break it to you, but we are all walking meat sacks with a dog’s breakfast at the controls. You are weak in all ways – easy to break, easy to rupture, easy to destroy. But your own brain likes to pretend this isn’t true and that you are STRONG AND INVULNERABLE.

      You can see that this isn’t true for you, just like it isn’t true for anyone else. Embrace it, accept it, have compassion for it. If 3 different professionals all think you need a break, you definitely need a break. How is it “strong” to ignore the facts? Who are you performing strength for? What does being “strong” accomplish if it only hurts you?

      I recommend a chat with one of your professionals about the fear of helping yourself that you are having.

    6. Onomatopoetic*

      I relate to this so much! I’m supposed to handle everything. I have had to take time off for burnout a couple of times and even when I can realise with my logical brain that I should not feel more guilty than for other health issues, my illogical brain still beats me up. Just tell it to shut up, because it’s better to rest when you need to. It’s the right thing to do. It’s not weak, it’s good.

      Do you know Surface Pressure from Encanto? It resonated so well with me that I got tears in my eyes.

      I can say that for me it hasn’t caused any problem with my job or career. But I work at a good place with a supportive boss, that knows people are humans.

      Good luck.

    7. Anon Librarian*

      Take the leave! Please take it. I was on FML for 4 months and it did not impact my work at all. I came back and slid right back into my role. Now, I was out for a surgery, but seriously, take the leave! You have three doctors telling you to take it. You clearly need it. Your health is way way more important than you job.

    8. DisneyChannelThis*

      You are not weak. You are brave. We can’t control what happens to us, but we can control how we respond. Using all available resources is smart not weak.

    9. J*

      Every person I know who took FMLA to deal with their mental health has come back stronger or gained the strength to leave and find something much better for them. I know one who opted to downgrade her job (from teacher to support staff) and one who pivoted industries, moved away and just celebrated buying a house, something she never thought she could do with the depression and burnout of the previous job. And the one still working at the same place, she is still on intermittent FMLA while she manages her health and she’s been there for almost a decade, still doing the same job. I wish I’d known it existed years ago.

    10. kiki*

      You are not at all weak! And from a work-reputation stand-point, it is 100% better to be the coworker who took some leave than to be the coworker who insists on continuing to work but can’t really do their job at an acceptable level.

      I’ve, unfortunately, struggled with extreme burnout and stress twice in my career. The first time, I tried to power through. It only made things worse, my job performance suffered, and my reputation at work was not good for a while because I was not able to consistently deliver the level of work needed. The second time I took leave. I struggled for a little bit at work for a few weeks, but once I realized what was happening, I was able to talk to my manager about it, he understood, and I took 6 weeks off to recover. I came back and everything was fine. Everyone was happy to have me back and we went from there!

    11. WantonSeedStitch*

      Mental health IS health. You aren’t any weaker than someone taking that time for a hip replacement.

    12. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

      Omg. I totally relate to worrying about feeling weak/incompetent/etc, but honestly, please don’t waste your precious time on this Earth trying to prove how tough and strong you are because I PROMISE it’s not going to a) make you happy, b) solve global warming, or c) convince your body that actually everything is fine. If your radiator overheating light goes on in your car you STOP DRIVING. Give yourself the basic level of care you would to used Honda Accord! Take a break!

    13. Gyne*

      I think you should be at least as kind to yourself as you are to others. You wouldn’t say those things about a colleague, don’t treat yourself that way either.

      Psychiatry is a medical specialty just like infectious disease, gastroenterology, and cardiology. Their diseases are just as real as all the others.

    14. Single Noun*

      I haven’t gone on FMLA for mental health, but I did use it for surgery leave at the same time as I was having a mental health flareup, and all my coworkers have been completely kind and understanding, no career impact I’ve noticed yet. I second Mac: if your car is overheating you stop driving, if your computer is overheating you close unnecessary tabs (and aim a fan at it, which I guess in this metaphor is treatment for your physical health issues?) You don’t have to be John Henry, treat yourself with the compassion you would give a dear friend and take the time you need.

  37. Koosh Balls*

    I’m looking for confirmation that my therapist is wrong about my job hunt. (I’m seeing them for debilitating stress from a toxic work environment and a depressing job hunt.)

    My job hunts have always been multiple years long, and I ultimately take the first job offered to me just to end it. I’ve never had a job that fit my career interests, that I enjoyed, etc. (Though I’ve applied to and interviewed for MANY jobs I would have loved.) The longer my jobs hunts go on, the less I apply to jobs that I’m interested in (but don’t fit the requirements for aside from transferable skills), and the more I apply to jobs I have no interest it (but fit the low/generic requirements for). I’m at the point where I’m only applying to jobs I have no interest in again. I dread having to take whatever job is offered to me first, and hate my future.

    My therapist asked, “If you apply to jobs you’re interested in, what’s the worst that could happen?” The answer: Be asked to do a phone screen, then multiple in-person interviews, and get ghosted. She’s like, “But even if there’s a 1% chance that you could get the job, don’t you think it’s worth it?” I think the time, effort, and emotional cost too high.

    So she wanted to know about any jobs I saw recently that I would enjoy. There was an interlibrary loan position that I would have loved, but it requires 2 years of library experience and a bachelor’s degree. I have an MLIS (I usually leave this off my resume, but someone could easily find out about it on Google). My degree concentration, volunteering, and internships weren’t in libraries, so I have no library experience. They’ll reject me outright for the MLIS, and even if they didn’t, there’s plenty of other candidates with library experience that they’d chose over me.

    But my therapist was trying to convince me to apply anyway, and next week she wants to go over ACT and CBT so I can feel better about applying to the jobs I have a 1% chance of getting.

    Someone said insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I feel that continuing to apply to the kinds of jobs I’d enjoy but spent years and years applying to with no success would be insanity.

    Hasn’t anyone else had the experience where you just end up in bad jobs for your whole life, and you have no control over it?

    1. Zap R.*

      I am in a very similar position and CBT has not been remotely helpful. I’m so sorry you’re going through it and I wish I had better advice for you but you’re not alone.

      I feel like I picked the wrong job at 23 and it messed my whole life up.

    2. NeedRain47*

      Do you and I have the same therapist? LOL. No I do not think it’s worth it to spend all my free time working on something that there’s a high chance will get me nothing but rejection. I am very choosy in what jobs I will take the time to apply to b/c I know it can mean investing all that time in the interview process.

      I am also a librarian. In my experience there are a LOT of MLS holders working in jobs that don’t require it. They definitely won’t reject you for having it, they’ll take advantage of having a knowledgeable worker at low pay. This has been the case in both academic and public libraries, that I’ve seen.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        There are way more MLIS/MLS degrees than there are paying full-time jobs for them, especially in libraries, specifically. I’m an archives assistant and have not pursued and MLIS largely because I don’t want to be a librarian, anyway, and I don’t think the job market justifies the loans.

      2. Watry*

        Yes, this. Address it in a cover letter if you feel you need to, something like saying you do have an MLIS but are interested in this job because you’re interested in pivoting to the field and then something specific about the job.

    3. Dust Bunny*

      “My job hunts have always been multiple years long, and I ultimately take the first job offered to me just to end it. I’ve never had a job that fit my career interests, that I enjoyed, etc. (Though I’ve applied to and interviewed for MANY jobs I would have loved.) The longer my jobs hunts go on, the less I apply to jobs that I’m interested in (but don’t fit the requirements for aside from transferable skills), and the more I apply to jobs I have no interest it (but fit the low/generic requirements for). I’m at the point where I’m only applying to jobs I have no interest in again.”

      But also:

      “Someone said insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I feel that continuing to apply to the kinds of jobs I’d enjoy but spent years and years applying to with no success would be insanity.”

      But you have actually been doing the same thing over and over again–getting frustrated and applying to jobs you don’t want that have lower criteria–and getting the same result (jobs you don’t want).

      I don’t know if you’re overshooting or undershooting your job hunts, or applying to too narrow a range of jobs, or if your resume could use an overhaul, or what else might help, but honestly I’d have applied for the ILL position, anyway.

      1. Fitz*


        OP, I think you’re looking at applying at super competitive jobs as choosing unhappiness, but by applying to and taking jobs you don’t want, you’re also choosing unhappiness. It is true that if you work in a competitive field, you have to start becoming okay with rejection (i.e. building habits to make it feel less soul-crushing), which I think is where your therapist is going with this. If that work doesn’t seem desirable, then I think you’ll have to find a third path that doesn’t make you miserable.
        But no, I don’t think your therapist is flat-out wrong based on the details you’ve provided.

        1. Koosh Balls*

          Most of the good jobs I’ve applied to in the past had nothing to do with libraries or my MLIS degree, so they weren’t super competitive. I’m just not a competitive candidate for anything.

          At least if I’m apply to crappy jobs I’m overqualified for, I have a chance at getting a job. I want to leave the toxic job I’m in so I can at least have normal health again.

          1. Fitz*

            I don’t think there’s nothing wrong with taking a non-ideal job to get out a toxic situation. Where I think you might want to reconsider is the “crappy” part. If you apply to just anything you’re overqualified for to get out of a bad situation, you’re a lot more likely to end up in another bad situation. (This is in part because toxicity really affects your sense of norms).
            Is there anything you would be qualified for, that you would describe as “not my preferred work, but it’s a breather” instead of “crappy”? To me, there’s a significant difference there, and I think it’s worth considering what that job might look like.

      2. WellRed*

        All of this! You are doing the same thing over and over again. Do you think it somehow is less burdensome to apply for these jobs you don’t want? And for several years? What is it that you are really afraid of?

        1. Koosh Balls*

          I’m not afraid of anything. It just doesn’t make sense to apply to jobs I’m not qualified for.

          For example, the library job. It’s at a college where I had applied to a job I wanted but didn’t have direct experience with in November. In December, I was asked to do a phone screen. I did a virtual interview in January. I did another virtual interview in February. In March, I did a four hour in-person interview with 12 different people. After a few weeks, I followed up, and they said they’d hired someone with experience.

          That was a huge time investment for preparing for the interviews and doing the interviews. I had to give up lunches for the phone screening and the virtual interviews, and I to take a whole day of PTO for the four hour interview.

          Why would I do all that again for another job where I know they’d pick someone with library experience over me?

          1. Redaktorin*

            This sounds like you’re getting very close to the jobs you think are unattainable, possibly even to the final-round interviews, and you’d stand decent odds of getting one if you persisted in applying.

            1. Please reframe several rounds of interviews as getting close instead of being tricked into wasting maximal time by a universe that has doomed you.

            2. Please consider that this is your life, and when it comes to time and missed lunches, getting work that left you feeling less doomed would be worth the investment.

          2. Joron Twiner*

            Your last sentence is very familiar to me. I struggle a lot with black and white thinking and catastrophizing. “Why should I bother when I know it will go badly?” was always met with “We don’t know what will happen. We don’t know what the future holds.” from my therapist.

    4. EMP*

      Personally I think there’s a middle ground here. Like, you mention you’d be rejected immediately for this library job because you don’t put your MLIS on your resume – but you could put it on your resume for this job. I don’t know you and I trust you when you say you’ve had really difficult job searches, but if this is truly normal for you (not adapting resumes to the job, not applying at all even when you’re qualified), don’t you think that’s a little bit of self sabotage?

      ACT and CBT don’t work for everyone but I did find them helpful for finding my self confidence many years ago. If you’ve never tried it, I think it’s worth trying for a few weeks. One of the most important things I learned over many years of therapy is I don’t know what treatments will work until I try them. Stuff that sounds completely stupid on a surface level has helped me immensely once I actually tried it.

      1. Koosh Ball*

        I’ve read that libraries don’t want to hire MLIS grads for jobs that don’t require it, and there’s tons of people with library experience I don’t have, so I want to stop applying to library jobs. It self sabotage to apply to jobs I know I can’t get.

        I did custom resumes and cover letters for my first two job hunts, but it never resulted in getting a good job.

        My problem is not being qualified for jobs I want. If I was qualified for a good job, I would apply.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          You’ve read that somewhere… but you don’t actually know. It’s not self sabotage to apply to jobs you would like to get for which you are at least somewhat qualified. We tell people all the time to apply even if they don’t meet 100% of the criteria, and the reason for that is because you can’t know whether certain skills/qualifications are prioritized, what they consider nice-to-haves vs. must-haves, etc.

          If you don’t feel like putting in the time to apply/write a cover letter, then ok. But if you want a job and you meet some of the qualifications (or you can make a good case as to why you would be a good fit), then take the chance.

        2. NeedRain47*

          Well, I have 23 years of experience in the field and I’m telling you that’s not true about having/not having an MLS. They do prioritize experience, though, will nearly always choose the person with the most actual relevant job experience.

        3. Library Lil*

          I work in a library and there are quite a few people who have their MLIS but are not in roles where an MLIS is required. It isn’t seen as a drawback to have an MLIS in a non-MLIS role, from what I’ve observed.

    5. Amalfi*

      I found that changing my relationship to my job search vastly lowered the misery I felt from the process. I mean, honestly, getting ghosted doesn’t actually harm you. It’s disappointing, but your life remains the same after an employer ghosts you as it was before.

      To give you a sense of what my job searches are like, it has typically involved applying to 100-200 jobs, getting a handful of phone screens, 2-3 in person interviews, and 0 or 1 offer. If I get an offer, I take it, but I’ve had job searches that I just stopped after a couple years bc I was getting nowhere.

      The calculus is very different if you are job searching while employed or while not employed. When you are unemployed, the impact of an interview that doesn’t result in an offer is much greater. You can still change your relationship to the search and change your relationship to the disappointment to lower the emotional impact.

      So, basically I’m telling you that your therapist is right.

    6. just a thought*

      “They’ll reject me outright for the MLIS, and even if they didn’t, there’s plenty of other candidates with library experience that they’d chose over me.”

      Some great advice from a Stacy Abrams talk: Don’t tell yourself no, let someone else do that.

      You don’t know that you’ll get rejected. You could be the only qualified person that applies and have a 90-100% chance of getting it.

    7. Anon Librarian*

      So, there is nothing more miserable than job hunting. I had nine day long in-person academic interviews before I got my current position over the course of two years. It sucked. It sucked so much. I hated every minute of it. I learned a lot though. If you keep applying and you’re not getting phone screens, then you need to look at your application materials and really work on those. If you keep applying and you’re struggling with interviews, you need to practice those. I practiced my phone screens with two very generous friends. But yes, at some point, job hiring it out of your hands. And that’s a sucky thing.
      P.S. As a librarian and someone who hires library non-MLIS jobs often, I would never outright reject someone for having the MLIS. I would reject someone for having an MLIS and writing a cover letter that makes it sound like they super want to be a Music Librarian when I’m hiring for an Archives Tech job.

    8. The Prettiest Curse*

      You will not want to hear this, but your therapist is right. You are stuck in a negative thought pattern. I’ve been stuck too, and you have my sympathy, because it is horrible.

      I spent much of my 20s flailing around in crappy temp jobs that I didn’t enjoy much because I was dealing with bereavement plus severe depression, and because I thought that I did not deserve anything better. (I’m in my 40s now and have a job that I really enjoy.) It took large amounts of antidepressants, plus some hypnotherapy and CBT to eventually re-wire my brain to the point where I gave myself permission to do stuff that I actually like doing. (This combination is what worked for me – what works for you may be entirely different, so keep trying different treatments if you can and try to keep an open mind going into them.)

      So, back to your job hunt: one of the reasons it’s taking so long is that it’s probably obvious in both your applications and your interviews that you’re not very interested in the jobs for which you are applying. You say that you have no control over the jobs you get, but you have 100% control over the jobs for which you apply. You have 100% control over the job offers you accept. Your brain is trying to convince you that you DON’T have control because your brain finds the negative thought pattern (“I don’t have any control over the jobs I get, so therefore I will be miserable at work for the rest of my life, but it isn’t my fault, because I have no control”) comforting in some way. Your brain may like this pattern and find it rewarding, but it has clearly stopped working for you or you wouldn’t have written this comment. So you need to find a way to re-wire your brain into a better thought pattern. This sucks, and isn’t easy, but being stuck in the negative thought pattern is going to suck a million times worse and be a million times harder on you.

      Your thought pattern is telling you that there are only two types of jobs out there: jobs which you would hate, but can get, and jobs which you would not hate, but could never get. This is not the case. There are jobs out there which might have 10% or 20% or 30% of stuff you like or find interesting. There are jobs that might have duties you don’t like, but a really interesting work environment (or vice versa). So if since your brain has you convinced that applying for jobs that you know you would really like will only end in disaster, don’t apply for thise jobs until you know that being rejected won’t put you into a doom spiral. Apply for the jobs that sound okay but not great. Apply for anything that sounds tolerable. If you think you’re up for it, apply for jobs that have 10% or 20% of the stuff you like, so that being rejected for those jobs won’t seem as bad. Keep plugging away at it until you can re-wire your brain into thinking that you it’s okay to apply for a job with maybe 40% or 50% positives, then 60% and so on.

      If you can afford to do it mentally and financially, take a break from job hunting for a month or two. (July and August are generally quiet months for job postings anyway.) Keep at the therapy. Try anything else that might help, and keep at it until you’re completely sure that it’s not helping.

      Finally, remember that your brain is stuck but you are not. This comment you wrote is the first step in the process of unsticking your brain. Your brain is (sorry for this language) a sneaky little fucker and it will try to fight you. If you want to someday have a job you enjoy, there’s no alternative other than fighting back against the negative thought patterns. (If it helps, think of your brain as a computer that you have to hack into, or a safe that you have to crack.)

      Finally, be gentle with yourself. Your brain wants you to think that you’re stuck. In fact, you’ve started to move. This “please tell me my therapist is wrong” reaction is your negative thought pattern realising that it’s in trouble and its time might be up. Keep moving. Keep asking yourself if this is what YOU want or if it’s what your negative thought pattern wants. The two things are different, and I think you know it.

      1. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

        Yep, this.

        From outside your head, the self-perpetuating self-defeating thought pattern is really, really obvious to someone who’s personally experienced it and come out the other side (some of us commenters) or someone who has observed it in others a whole lot (likely your therapist).

        Whether it’s in job-hunting, or in dating (super common complaint of people who “can’t get a ‘good’ date” who coincidentally pursue mostly people they’re not very interested in) or any other human endeavor that involves risk of rejection, a lot of humans are wired to stick with the dissatisfaction that’s familiar rather than take the emotionally challenging risk of hoping, trying, and and finding out what happens when you make your genuine best effort. It can seem as if it would hurt more to fail/be rejected when you gave your best effort toward something you really hoped for, compared to not bothering to really try for what you really want. But rejecting yourself doesn’t hurt less than being rejected by someone else– it hurts more; if you, who know yourself best, don’t think you’re worth taking a change on, that hits deeper than if any number of strangers happen to pick someone else based on the limited information they have.

        Don’t pre-reject yourself.
        Don’t seek confirmation of limiting, pessimistic, helpless, despairing or resentful thoughts — seek DISconfirmation of those. Seek confirmation of hopeful, empowering, productive thoughts.
        Work with your therapist to identify the patterns your thinking falls into, and how your thoughts/feelings drive your actions, and thus your experiences. Work with your therapists to identify ways you can change your actions and reframe your thinking to obtain different experiences.
        Ask your therapist about DBT ( dialectical behavior therapy) as an adjunct to ACT and CBT. The principle behind DBT is harnessing the power of 2 seemingly-contradictory ideas at the same time, like “I have little hope of getting a job I really want” and “I can apply anyway” or “being rejected is extremely painful” and “I can learn ways to cope with painful feelings.”

        Good luck to you.

      2. BlueberryGirl*

        This is really solid advice. I wish someone had said this to me when I was convinced I would never ever get a job that paid enough and I didn’t deserve to get one.

      3. Generic Name*

        This is quite possibly the best comment I’ve ever read. I agree with everything you’ve said.

      4. Rainstorm*

        I especially agree about trying different treatments. Your job hunting mindset is unusually downcast, even considering how sucky job hunting can be. So, there may be deep stuff to untangle. You’re doing talking therapy and CBT – are they helping? If you’ve given them long enough to be sure, have a look at what else is out there (hypnotherapy, IFS, EMDR…….etc) Well done for being in therapy and for applying for all the jobs – you sound like a hard worker!

    9. Alex*

      Sorry you are in this bad place. Believe me, I know how it feels to feel super stuck professionally.

      BUT, I’d have to go with your therapist on this one. Yes, insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, but also, job searching is insane.

      Think of it this way–the worst thing that can happen is that you go through the process and get rejected and feel disappointment and not get the job. But aren’t you already feeling disappointment professionally? So really, you don’t lose much. Yes, there’s a good chance you won’t get it! But you SURELY won’t get it if you don’t apply.

      Signed, someone sitting here at a job she applied for thinking she probably wouldn’t get it.

    10. Irish Teacher*

      I think it is possible to end up in bad jobs for your whole life and have no control over it, but…I don’t think you can know that before your working life is over. It is possible to constantly be unlucky with jobs, but in this case, it sounds more like there is a mismatch between your qualifications and what you would most enjoy doing.

      Perhaps start by looking at what your degree concentration qualifies you for and see if there is anything in there or related to it that you would enjoy.

      I’m no expert on library jobs or related work, but it seems unlikely to me that your only options are to apply for jobs you are not qualified for and have little chance of getting or to apply only for jobs you have no interest in and which have low requirements. That might be the case if you had no qualifications at all and no previous work experience, but that doesn’t seem to be your situation.

      It seems like you’ve been unlucky in your job searches so far, but that doesn’t mean it will always be the case. If it’s any consolation, I spent 13 years subbing after qualifying as a teacher. I was applying to dozens of jobs each year, most of which I was 100% qualified for, but only getting temporary jobs. Then I applied for a short term job in my current school which turned into a permanent position through a series of coincidences.

      It does sound like you might benefit from making changes to your job searching methods, but I don’t think the change should be “apply only for things you’re not interested in.”

      And honestly, whatever job you apply for, there’s a reasonable chance you will have to do an interview and then get ghosted, just because that happens a lot.

    11. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      Eh I think it’s hard for ‘ normal’ people to see how much it sucks for us to spend 4 hours doing something and failing. The jobs I’ve been at have sucked a lot. Although in your therapist’s defense it’s just as much work to apply to a job that blows as a job that rocks. ( or is it? I need to job search but I always put it off)

    12. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      I had extremely crappy minimum wage jobs in my 20s and early 30s. I took off about six years to be a SAHM – because I assumed I couldn’t make enough money to cover the expenses to work. once my kid was in school, I started applying because we were barely surviving on my husband’s low-paying job. I decided I’d try for some upgrade jobs first because the worst they could do is say no. so I sent resumes for bank teller positions, office clerks, and similar positions. Then I saw a posting for a Circulation Librarian in a membership library. I had one year of college and the only relevant experience was working in that university’s film library for a few semesters 20 years previously. But I re-wrote my resume and cover letter to emphasize tasks in my crappy job experiences to make them as relevant as possible, and I gushed a bit in my cover letter about how much I wanted the job and what I could bring to it. it was enough to get me an interview, and since I didn’t have anything to lose, I was relaxed instead of tense – frankly, I was there just for practice and to have a good time. About three weeks later, I got The Call. I wasn’t their first choice, but that person hadn’t worked out. I wasn’t their second choice, but that person had already started another job. I didn’t give a damn that I was number 3. I took the job and loved it, and was given additional responsibilities and a new title after a few years. Then I got laid off with some other staff after four years total, due to the organization hitting a financial wall. But I’d gained experience and connections there, and fairly quickly got an even more interesting job at a larger institution, where I stayed for a long time. My point is, there’s no reason not to apply to whatever job you want, whether you have perfect qualifications, or you’re vastly under-qualified like I was, or over-qualified like you are. Use that cover letter to sell yourself, and any interview to continue that sales job, and to make them want to have you. You really don’t have anything to lose, but if you go unto the process with a negative or defeatist attitude, why would they want to hire you? You’re turning it into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  38. Pescadero*

    So… I don’t like work.

    I don’t mean I don’t like my job. I mean I don’t like working. Never have, no matter how good my job is been. There is no dream job because, as the saying goes, “I don’t dream of labor”.

    At this point, I’m ~9 years from retiring…

    Any advice for riding this thing out for another 9 years?

    1. costello music*

      I mean, I’m like 40 years from retiring (if I get to at all #ilovecapitalism) but I honestly just focus on the money.

      And, not to sound harsh, but I don’t think most people like working. Unfortunately, us lowly people (not millionaires) have to to survive. If I could swing working a ~25 hour job, I would but I can’t. My MIL has to work because she only just got her citizenship and can really start to save money for her retirement/ability to go part time.

      It sucks. It’s one of the lemons life throws at you. But I take inspiration from Mr. Cave Johnson and make life take back those damn lemons. Enjoy life outside of work. Bask in the moment. I don’t want to work but goddamn if I will let it ruin anything else!!

    2. Anima*

      I’ve got over 30 years left and I don’t like work, too. I changed careers for the third time, to no avail. I have no idea how I can make it to retirement. So, I don’t have an idea, just commiseration.
      (What did make it a bit easier was accepting that I have to do work to be able to spend money in the things that I actually like doing, but still.)

    3. Empress Ki*

      I can’t give advice, just commiseration, as I also don’t like working and I am still 17 years away from retirement !

      Some advice I’ve been given is to teach my hobbies but it doesn’t work for me.

      1. Pescadero*

        I have no interest in doing my hobbies as a job – that would just ruin my hobbies by making them the same sort of obligation that work is…

        I guess at this point I really have just resigned myself to another 9 years of existential dread, to go along with the 25 years of existential dread so far.

    4. pally*

      Is this 9 years at full-time?
      Or can you get to a point within this next 9 years where you can go part-time?
      That might be something to look forward to that is sooner than your retirement date 9 years out.

    5. Amalfi*

      Lots of people are in jobs that they would drop in a heartbeat if a sack of money fell on their roof. Focus on the non-work things that your job allows you to do with the money you earn. Maybe that is hobbies, and maybe that is food on the table and a roof over your head. I try to take moments to really appreciate things like my soft flannel sheets and the balcony of my apartment–a job allows me to have those things. My job allows me to travel and take fun classes, too, and I make sure I take moments to really appreciate that. It doesn’t make the day-to-day any better, that is still miserable. But it does remind me that just up and quitting would deprive me of things that I love, which keeps me going in everyday.

    6. Policy Wonk*

      Do you have interim things to look forward to? Three months until my vacation to (favorite location.) Six months until Christmas, etc. Instead of looking at the long, 9 year slog, you are looking at getting through the next little period until (reward).

    7. Hlao-roo*

      Is there any way to be more specific about what you don’t like? If you resent having a boss, is there any way you can start your own company or be a consultant/freelancer? If you resent giving up 40/50/60 hours a week to do something you don’t like doing, is there any way you can work part time so it’s only 20/30 hours of time “lost” to work?

      If it’s more of an “I don’t like trading my labor for money” situation: are you in a job/career/field where your colleagues like their jobs? (Or at least pretend to like their jobs.) If you are, do you think a switch to a field where people don’t like their jobs will help at all? Maybe it will, maybe it won’t but I can imagine not liking to work would feel worse (for example) in a non-profit where all your coworkers are all “our work is so important and I love my job!” than in a factory where all your coworkers are like “assembling widgets day in and day out is boring as rocks but at least it puts food on the table.”

      If none of the above structural changes work for you (pun not intended), I second Anima’s advice to get really clear on the fact that you are trading labor for money. Just as you may say at a store “$40 for XYZ is expensive, but I am willing to pay that” and then you buy XYZ, you can say “40 hours of labor per week for $X is expensive, but I need $X so here I am, working.”

      1. Pescadero*

        “Is there any way to be more specific about what you don’t like? ”

        Pretty much the obligation of having a job.

        There is no good job… because it’s a job. Just more or less bad.

        1. H*

          I feel similarly in terms of bosses and jobs. I like the field I am in and get a lot out of the work I have done but I don’t think I will ever like a job I have once I hit the 1.5 year mark and I almost always dislike my supervisor. I think it is me lol

    8. Workshy*

      Me neither! There is no dream job for me. And I also have about 9 years to retirement.
      Once I realised there was no dream job, because I didnt want to have to work, it was actually quite freeing. I can move jobs when I want to, when the one I’m in gets too boring or irritating (I am in the lucky position of there being lots of jobs in my field, because I am in the unlucky position of doing a job that will always need doing and most people don’t want to do). I don’t need to think about promotion, or professional advancement, I earn enough as I am, so I tend to take lateral moves and move on when I’ve had enough. And I work for the money. I plan lots of things for the short- to medium term, making sure I always have something to look forward to that I wouldn’t be able to afford if I wasn’t working, while making wild and elaborate plans for my retirement.
      Once I stopped thinking that I ought to enjoy my job it became a lot easier to put up with it.

    9. Generic Name*

      Yeah, working sucks. I’m passionate about efficiently because it means I work less/less hard. You have 9 years left. Is there any way you could cut your expenses so you can save more and retire a bit early? As much as the FIRE movement annoys me (much of the advice is predicated on having at least a 6 figure job in your 20s) but the advice to radically cut expenses if you can to save for retirement is solid.

  39. Tired*

    How do I stay hopeful and emotionally healthy despite working a job contrary to my personality with a quiet quitting boss? I have continually been applying for other jobs for the last two years but am still not making headway either despite my best efforts (please don’t give me job search advice; I’ve heard it all). I just don’t like life right now.

    1. MissGirl*

      Let go of all expectations that anything will change. It might be easier to figure out what you can do to meet your needs once you let go. Focus on building your emotional health outside of work.

    2. Bunny Girl*

      I’m in the same position. I’m in a job that is a terrible fit for me and I just graduated a couple months ago. The career I hope to go into is really competitive so my job hunt is dragging out forever and other people’s advice has been extremely unhelpful because they are blissfully unaware of how hiring works in my field.

      To stay sane at my current job – I just do the barest of the bare minimum. I come in exactly on time and leave exactly at 5:oo. I am polite to the people I’m forced to work with but I don’t go above and beyond for them because they aren’t worth it. I have my headphones in literally all day long. I make sure I do things I enjoy outside of my workday and I look for volunteer opportunities in my field. I treat my job as exactly that – a job. Something I need to go to because I have bills to pay. It’s about as unpleasant as a gyno exam but just as necessary.

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

    I don’t know who posted last week about the chocolate cherry cupcakes but I made them this week and everyone loved them. I can understand why that coworker made inappropriate noises while eating them. I’m going to call them NSFW cupcakes!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        When Cherry Met Sally cake: one box of dry chocolate fudge cake mix, one can of cherry pie filling, the number of eggs the cake mix box calls for. Mix together (by hand, a mixer will smoosh the cherries), bake per box instructions.

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

        1 box chocolate cake mix (I prefer Pillsbury)
        1 can cherry pie filling
        3 eggs
        Combine cake mix, cherry pie filling, and three eggs. Mix until well blended. If you mix by hand, the cherries won’t get cut up.
        Bake in well greased and floured 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 35 to 40 minutes.
        *i did cupcakes and it was 30 minutes. I also had a larger jar of cherry pie filling and needed to add a bit of water. Don’t use the mixer.

        1. Rainy*

          Do you beat the eggs together first and then add, or just dump it all in as is and mush it around until cake batter happens?

          1. Hotdog not dog*

            I’ve made a version of this cake (lemon cake mix, blueberry pie filling) and just tossed in the eggs and stirred it all up until it was cake batter.

        2. Rainy*

          Okay, so I beat the eggs then added eggs and pie filling to the cake mix and baked, and so far so amazing! Letting them cool now and then going to put chocolate frosting on them. :D

        3. Notthemomma*

          Original poster of that recipe- I remember my mom making this in the 70’s, so your moms/grandmas may remember it too?

          I don’t beat the eggs first, just mix everything up then hand mix the cherry filling. It’s done when a knife comes out clean, which may be longer than the box says.

          Enjoy and please, please… serve to anyone who may moan through a piece and report back!

  41. Hopeful Perm*

    I’ve been working as a temp for a large employer in my area for more than two years in different roles. While some positions are potentially temp-to-perm and temps with enough experience are encouraged to apply to open permanent roles it hasn’t happened to me yet—all the roles I’ve filled were openly temp (filling in during leave of absences, pandemic response) and I haven’t found an open position that has the schedule/commute combination I want (which has been discouraging).

    A few weeks ago I started a new temp assignment. I still have a lot to learn, but I could see this position being a great fit for me. It’s the schedule and commute I want and so far things are going really good!

    No one has explicitly told me, but based on some comments from co workers I believe that I’m filling in a schedule hole while they hire a new employee into this role (for what it’s worth I can’t find an open job ad for this position). I don’t want to be presumptuous but I really want to be considered if they’re looking.

    How do I make it clear that I like this job and I’d like to be considered for going permanent without being inappropriately desperate or overstepping? I worry the senior manager, who I don’t see a lot of, is under the impression that i just want to temp right now based on an offhand comment I made during an interview that was sprung on me.

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

      I would talk to the manager and ask. Say that you are looking for something permanent and was wondering if they were hiring for permanent role.

    2. Bunny Watson*

      I’m not sure how often you see (if ever) the manager, but I would just tell them that you are really enjoying this assignment and express interest in any permanent roles. It’s not overstepping to express interest. Overstepping would be hounding them about it, or acting as though OF COURSE you’re going to go permanent.

    3. Can't think of a funny name*

      Did you work with a placement agency? Can you call your contact and ask if they’ve gotten any feedback on how you are doing and see if the recruiter knows if it’s temp to perm and let them know you would be interested.

  42. dying of boredom*

    Any advice on what to do when work is so slow, you get done with your day by 9a and have 8 more hours in the office?

    I’ve exhausted all of my keep busy projects. I’ve asked my boss if she needs assistance with anything, but she always brushes me off. I spent yesterday playing Solitaire on my phone for most of the day bc there’s no work.

    I’m so mind numbingly bored, I can’t think of any constructive projects.

    1. Zap R.*

      LinkedIn Learning or Coursera courses. My company paid for the LinkedIn Learning library and it’s been a godsend when my ADHD hyperfocus makes me burn through everything in the first half of the work day.

      1. dying of boredom*

        I can try that but I doubt my job will put up the cash for any courses :/ Worth looking into though, thank you!

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

          There are a lot of free courses that you can do. And I think LinkedIn does have a free 1 month trial.
          Check with your local library. Mine has partnered with Ed2go and provides free online pre recorded courses.

    2. Rainy*

      My god, that sounds amazing to me right now but I suspect I would also be climbing the walls within 2 weeks of it actually happening. I think I might just start learning stuff–does your company have an internal training platform with random courses? Do you have access to LinkedIn Learning through your workplace or local library? What about learning a new language with Duolingo, or reading e-books on professional topics on your computer? Writing up documentation? Writing a novel? :)

      1. dying of boredom*

        Funnily enough, I just finished working on a training manual and it’s off to the higher ups to vet (unclear how since they don’t know the work but I guess to make sure I didn’t sneak anything about seizing the means of production or something else controversial)

        A lot of our staff speak a specific language so I might be able to convince management to let me do some Duolingo?

    3. Watry*

      Sympathy, I posted a similar question last month and I’m still spending all day reading in my office.

    4. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Ugh, I am going through the same thing but since I WFH I can do laundry and Duolingo during work hours. Any chance you could ask for some WFH days? Before, when I had an in-person job and had nothing to do, I pretty much lost my mind and spent a lot of time on FB.

    5. I take tea*

      If your job won’t pay for courses, look for free ones, as long as they have anything to do with your job. I’ve heard good things about Elements of AI, for instance – who doesn’t need to know more about AI?

      Also, you say that you have asked if your boss needs assistance. Have you tried saying straight that you would like more projects, more to do. Most workplaces have some things that have been put on the backburner.

      1. I take tea*

        I must admit, that in a similar position I still had time to read a ton of blogs and even write my own. That was fun. I also got deep into fanfic. I find proper text to be much more satisfying than scrolling Instagram or similar.

        I actually went to look at some blogs the other day and noticed that The Blogess is still writing!

    6. Tired*

      I can relate. I am very bored at work too. I apply for other jobs, take Cloud Research surveys online to earn spending money, read books, and watch youtube. I also take care of personal online errands as needed.

      Some people think being in a slow job is a dream come true, but I agree that it is a nightmare. It is easy to feel useless and lethargic.

    7. Anon Grad Student*

      Try reframing this privilege as an opportunity for self-reflection, growth, or skills cultivation. There are many people who labor and get paid too little, or labor and don’t get paid at all.

      1. Jobbyjob*

        Agreed that this is not helpful or relevant. If you’ve never had a job like this you just can’t understand the torture this can feel like. I’ll take running around like a chicken with my head cut off busy over this version of boredom hell any day.

  43. ursula*

    I am trying to set parameters for a role I want to hire for. It will be part-time for the foreseeable future, but I may eventually want to expand it to FT. Generally we have found we need to pay a slightly higher hourly rate for PT roles in order to attract good candidates than we would pay for a FT engagement. This makes perfect sense to me and I’m comfortable with it. However, I’m struggling to work out how I would eventually handle this is we wanted to make the person FT. I wouldn’t be able to pay their PT rate for 35 hrs/week, which means taking the FT job would effectively mean an hourly pay cut, even if it overall it meant more secure, predictable work (which would probably appeal to most people). Has anyone navigated this, or have any ideas about how to approach it?

    1. LuckySophia*

      This is actually a very normal/typical situation, in which a PT person is paid an hourly wage, but only for those hours they are actually present and working…they don’t usually have benefits or paid time off. Conversely, a FT person would typically receive a set annual salary as well as some benefits (e.g., a defined amount of paid time off per year, as well as some company-paid contribution(s) towards health insurance, or towards a 401K, or an annual bonus…whatever. )

      The annual value of the FT person’s salary plus benefits, divided by their total number of working hours per year, would be at least equal to, but ideally better than, the value of the PT per-hour wage.

    2. Educator*

      I will just say that in my hiring experience, people are really looking for either part time or full time work, not one that will slide into the other. If they want part time work, it is almost always because they have other commitments in their lives that fill the remaining working hours. So I would cross this bridge with a candid discussion when you come to it, but also accept that hiring a great part timer will not automatically transfer to that person wanting to eventually be full time.

  44. AnonToday*

    I have just been informed that I will be doing a presentation as part of a day long job interview soon. I will find out the topic a week ahead of time. How do I do that without dying?

    I don’t have anxiety about talking to people but I have loads of anxiety about being judged so getting up in front of people specifically to be judged is really hard.

    1. Anon Librarian*

      Is this an academic interview? Because if it is, I’ve done a million of these and I can offer some advice. First off, plan ahead. Bring backup printouts of your presentation in case of technology fail (never had it happen, good to be prepared). Remember that if you have gotten the invitation to the day long, they want to hire you. Because no one, and I mean no one, wants to waste their time with a day long.

      1. AnonToday*

        It is. I used to work for this institution as a staff member and this is for a tenure track position. (I’m reasonably sure they are required to have more than one candidate go through this because state.)

        1. Anon Librarian*

          All right, so generally the max number of people they’ll bring in for day longs is three (I once heard of five, but that was a for a bananas director that you wouldn’t want to work for), so assume three. Since you might know people there, it’s actually more important that you be super professional. It’s harder, because you know the people, but more crucial than you can possibly imagine. If this is a teaching demo, be prepared to state what level you’re teaching to if they don’t tell you. A class for freshmen is a lot different than a class for grad students. If it’s a research presentation, be prepared that there may be grad students in the audience and they tend to ask odd questions. There may be people in the audience who aren’t from your department or field, so be sure to explain terms of art, if you use them, in a non-patronizing, but helpful way. Know that everyone in the audience is rooting for you. Practice a few times if you can. Take a breath. You got this!

          1. ursula*

            On the note of grad students (or frankly, profs) asking odd questions: remember that the people on the hiring committee know their colleagues and they know who has weird behaviours or agendas. If someone asks a strange, unfair, or mean question, shake it off. The hiring team is far more likely to be mentally cursing their colleague for putting you in this situation than thinking you’re a dope. In those situations, the important thing to respond with grace and not get too shaken over the academic strength of your answer.

            1. NeedRain*

              This is good advice about the weirdo questions. I was around the environment long enough to see how this could play out and will plan how to deal when it does.

          2. The New Wanderer*

            About handling odd questions, my best advice from experience is – no matter how odd or tough or confusing the question is, try to project an impression that you welcome collaboration and questions. Either they really want to know the answer out of genuine curiosity, or they’re testing you to see how you handle questions, or they’re showing off their own knowledge/opinion. In all cases, the more receptive to the question and positive-sounding in your response (even if it’s that you don’t know the answer), the more confidence you’ll show. If it helps to smile, do that (I do, otherwise I risk my face betraying some other emotion…).

            Where I’ve seen people fail is when they treat the question like it’s not worth answering, either by pushing back on the question in the first place or not really answering or considering it. If a question catches you off guard, it’s still better to say in a thoughtful way, “Hmm, that’s an interesting point, I’ll have to think about it” than something more blunt like “That’s not relevant” (and I have indeed heard someone use that shut-down to a senior professor before, it was … awkward).

            Also, practice, rehearse, whatever you need to do to be as familiar with the material as possible. I watched an academic interview once where the candidate had memorized the script and it was obvious when the candidate could not digress or handle interruptions. Know your presentation cold and you’ll be awesome!

        2. Hanani*

          If you’re a finalist for a TT job, then you’ve taught classes and/or done conference presentations/posters, right? Channel some of that.

          I learned to speak in front of people via acting, so it might help if you create a role/persona for yourself. Any judgement isn’t on you, AnonToday, it’s on this character you’re playing right now.

          It sounds like you think you’re a filler, but remember that getting to this point is incredibly competitive. They want the search to succeed. They want to find a good colleague. They want you to be successful.

          1. NeedRain*

            I generally panic during formal presentations, I do prepare and manage to get the content in but they could be a lot better as far as me not seeming freaked out (’cause I am). Anxiety isn’t logical.
            But I don’t think I’m a filler at all, I’m a very good candidate. It is not impossible there is someone even more qualified, but I’m quite well qualified myself.

    2. TT/Full*

      Practice Practice Practice.
      Time yourself.
      Do not be casual at any moment. Everything is part of the interview.
      Research the hiring committee.

    3. carcinization*

      I had to do that with about 30 minutes to prepare when I interviewed for my current job… they gave me a flash drive and a computer hooked up to the internet (yes, this was a few years back), told me the topic, and then came back in half an hour and had me present. I actually came up with a decent presentation with slides and everything and was proud of myself. Everyone’s different, I guess!

  45. MrLincoln*

    Does anyone have experience with receiving backpay? I started a new job (same government agency) in July last year but my paycheck didn’t reflect the change for 3 or 4 pay periods. This amounts to a few thousand dollars.
    I’m not super passionate about getting the money back, but I’m also in the same boat as other people who DO care more. The agency keeps saying “we’re working on it” and my old boss has said “ha, that will never happen.” But shouldn’t there be something about getting paid for the work you do? Someone has mentioned legal action/threatening to sue and that makes me nervous.

    1. The Dude Abides*

      Are you unionized? If so, run to your union rep; they’ll have a field day.

      I raised hell after it happened on my first check, and it got fixed on the next. I also looped in my boss, grandboss, and great-grandboss. Great-grandboss was not enthused, but given how much I was shorted (1/3 of my new pay), I did not care.

    2. Amalfi*

      What exactly does “Ha, ha that will never happen mean?” Does that mean, “this agency is so slow that you will be using hell to store your snowballs bf you get back pay”? Or does that mean, “I am not doing anything to make this happen bc I don’t think you are owed that pay”?

      You are legally owed your pay, but government gears do grind slowly. Does your boss have any actual control over the process? Can you just ignore him and go to someone else for updates?

    3. Meghan*

      It should (hopefully) not come to a lawyer. But if he company is dragging their feet, contact your states department of labor. They take payroll problems quite seriously.

    4. An Australian In London*

      A government agency is subject to more governance and audit than many workplaces.

      This is wage theft. You should always be paid correctly for the work you do. They stand to lose far more by *not* fixing this than they do by fixing it. Plus the new job budgeted a full salary for your new role and will have to explain the discrepancy.

      I don’t have specific tactics or scripts for you other than to suggest you act at all times as if it never occurred to you that there could be any other outcome than you being paid correctly for your work. If you weren’t being paid at all would they seriously suggest that you just suck it up and work for free?

    5. Panicked*

      File a wage claim with your state. That’s completely unacceptable; they should be falling over themselves to make it right.

    6. Oysters and Gender Freedoms*

      Threatening to sue is over the top but if there is no union, it makes sense for some of you to go to a lawyer and discuss next steps. It may be that a legal letter citing the correct statutes will be enough to get them to move forward. What you want to start with is the gentle legal nudge and make sure it gets to their legal department, not come out with guns blazing. Good lawyers are all about negotiation.

      1. Observer*

        Threatening to sue is over the top


        It may not be worthwhile and there just may be easier ways to move the process. But it’s an essentially reasonable thing imo, when the employer is months into owing people thousands of dollars with no time frame for repayment.

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

      Check your state labor laws, there may be something there that they have to pay you in full within X amount of time.

    8. The New Wanderer*

      It took me several months to iron out pay discrepancies with my federal agency. At one point I was working with the time card people, payroll, and the agency that oversees payroll, which is different than my agency. While I am in a union, I didn’t end up going to my rep but maybe that is an avenue for you. Don’t give up – you don’t have to actively care about it every day, but do set aside some time each week to keep making noise about this. Since there is a group, keep each other informed on any progress or leads. And good luck, it can be a huge pain but it’s your money and you should get it!

    9. Joielle*

      Also a state government employee here. I’m personally not in a union position but if you are, definitely go to your union rep first. Otherwise, go over your agency’s HR, to the state-wide HR agency (if you have that in your state).

  46. Can't Sit Still*

    One of my execs retired this week, and I had so much fun planning her party. The very best part is that people kept coming up to my boss and complimenting her on what a nice party it was, and she kept telling them she didn’t do anything but show up, while I did all the planning and organizing. It’s so nice to have a boss that gives me credit and sincerely appreciates everything I do.

  47. Pinky Pie*

    Can someone help me with a small script for this situation? I’m moving 800 miles and I have chronic health conditions. I will have to have some routine testing for the health conditions by October as well as get established with a variety of specialists. Couldn’t afford the specialist until insurance is established. I know there is a degree of flexibility with the job but not with the specialists (primary care, oncology, radiation oncology, surgeon, neurology) or the MRI I will have in October. How do I professionally approach this?

    1. Educator*

      “Hey boss, just wanted to flag that I am putting a few PTO days in the system now because I have some routine appointments to establish care in my new city.”

      Establishing care after a move is really normal, and your boss is not entitled to know—and if they are a good boss, does not want to know—any more detail than that. Good luck with the move!

  48. Rusty Tech Manager*

    Looking to crowdsource opinions on what team members want when a new manager gets hired. I’ve seen conflicting views (some people want to learn all about New Manager first like background and working style, others want the conversation to be all about the employee first) so I’m casting a wider net since this crowd deals with more nuance. For context, there were no internal candidates in the department, nobody wants to go into leadership anytime soon.

    Usually I get promoted from within (join company as IC, get promoted to manager later) where I knew my team and company pretty well and our early conversations are about level setting. The last couple times a manager got hired externally above me were obnoxiously bad so I can’t really learn any lessons from them.

    My team members are mostly new to the company (<6months) as well as the teams have been shifting around as the company grows, so there isn't really much of "this is how we do things". Part of my job is stabilizing (not that the place is a mess, just growing pains) everything and setting up normal company processes that come with being a real company (like career plans).

    1. Cedrus Libani*

      Honestly, when a manager tells me about their management style, I’m going to take that as informative but not necessarily accurate. I do want to know about their background, but that’s mostly about communication – what do they know more about than I do, what am I going to have to explain from the ground up, etc.

      I think you can go with your last paragraph – you see it as part of your job to help the company transition out of startup mode, here’s how you plan to go about it, and maybe you’re still in learning mode about other stuff. That’s useful information about your priorities.

    2. Rainstorm*

      Meet everyone one-to-one. Ask each person what’s working for them (probe that a bit – it’s harder for them to articulate what’s going well because they might not even be aware of it). Ask them if anything is not going well.
      Consider emailing each individual these questions, one work day in advance of meeting them, to give them time for the questions to percolate. But not if everyone’s going to confer together on the questions – you want individual answers, not group think.
      Practice “active listening” in the meeting. Take in what they’re telling you.
      At the end, tell them if they think of anything to add, to email you their further thoughts

      Then: When making changes, try to do it with respect to what they told you. Eg, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! And so on.

  49. Not quite Black Mirror yet*

    My company prides itself on mental health support but all that has actually meant is the frantic pushing of an app for mindfulness on us. I’m so over getting emails, stickers on my desk, posters in the loo, and event invites to encourage me to download this bloody app that I’ve gone from neutral “I guess it could help someone even if it’s not my cuppa tea” to a radicalised “corporate wellness is an oxymoron” position on it. Maybe give us human beings to talk to, reduce our workloads, pay us more, and provide more leave instead of…. guided meditations and sleep tips? Ugh!

    At least the rest of my team like clowning on it, “Hey, you have b2b meetings all afternoon and a deadline? Have you considered a mindfulness app?”

    1. kiki*

      Yeah, I feel like a lot of companies are completely missing the plot on addressing mental health support. Mindfullness apps can be cool, but what people really need is less stress at work, real substantial time off, and affordable therapists, psychiatrists, medication, etc.

      1. Zennish*

        They’re not missing it. it’s just that apps and motivational emails are cheaper and easier than better pay, better staffing and actual culture change.

    2. Rainstorm*

      An ex-company of mine wanted employees to come in UNPAID to attend wellbeing workshops. The mind utterly boggles.

  50. Maverick*

    My boss only focuses on what I do wrong or what isn’t complete. She tells me that she knows I’m busy and a hard worker. The projects that I handle are ongoing so nothing is ever “done”.

    I provide updates on what I’m working on and where I’m at, but don’t know what else to do.

    Any thoughts?

    1. Em from CT*

      If you figure out the answer, let me know. My boss constantly gives me constructive criticism or developmental feedback, but rarely (hardly ever) gives any positive reinforcement. It’s probably a 90%/10% split or even 95%/5%.

      I just (last week) tried being upfront with my boss that I could use more positive reinforcement. The phrasing was basically “I really appreciate your focus on constructive feedback and helping me grow! However, I’ve noticed you rarely share information about what you think I’ve done well. I think this would be a great help in helping me be successful, since it would help me understand what to continue doing. Would you consider sharing details about what I’m doing right as well as what might need to be fixed?”

      Time will tell whether it works, but it’s certainly one approach to try!

    2. Goddess47*

      Since your boss wants to know what’s ‘complete’, break your ongoing projects into some reasonable sounding milestones so that reaching the milestone can be ‘ticked off the list’… depending on how often you need to report things, the milestones can be “do X percent of task Y by [DATE]” and, voila! Instant milestone and something that you have completed.

      In reality, you’re just re-framing your ‘updates’ to be ‘steps completed’ so it shouldn’t be too much more work for you. But perception is all… try a small one and see if it helps at all.

    3. Qwerty*

      Have you tried telling her that you’d appreciate feedback on specific things that have gone well?

      The dynamic you have is really easy to fall into. Actionable items tend to be in the “fix this” or “finish this” category. It can be easier to praise low performers than high ones, because with lower performers or junior team members, the praise is an implicit “do more stuff like this”. It is very possible that your boss thinks the vague statements about being a hard worker count as positive reinforcement. Or I’ve known too managers who view “no news is good news” (ugh)

      Something I like doing during team retrospectives is the starfish method of “more of, less of, keep doing, start doing, stop doing” rather than the traditional agile good/bad – what about asking your boss to fill something like that out for your next quarterly check in and phrase it as wanting a more nuanced view of your workflow / how things are going? It turns the positive stuff into actions (keep doing / more of) so you might get more acknowledgement of what is going well.

  51. 1652110*

    Anyone who has frozen their eggs (or gone through similar fertility treatments)—how did you manage it with work?

    I’m an associate attorney at a law firm, early thirty, unpartnered cis woman looking at fertility preservation options. My firm is small without an enforced time off policy, but a strong work-through-it culture. I WFH Thursday-Friday since Covid but have noticed the partners seem to be getting sick of any other WFH requests.

    If I go through with egg freezing, it’s very likely I’ll need to either take a significant amount of time off within a two-four week period or work from home given the number of clinic visits necessary. I’ll have to give some kind of explanation for that request but want to stay away from anything fertility-related (every partner at my firm is male and I feel like they would have a negative impression of it). Any wording that’s worked for you on requesting the time off, or any other tips on how to navigate this?

    1. not a hippo*

      Can you just take PTO and leave it that? Does FMLA cover this sort of thing? (“I’m undergoing a medical procedure that will require multiple visits and will need to X time off or work from home”?)

    2. Catmom*

      You’d be surprised how early in the morning they start appointments – I had a 6:30am appointment at reproductive medicine every other week for a couple months and had no trouble being to work at 8. We didn’t end up doing egg retrieval for IVF and got lucky on IUI, but based on what was explained to us, you might just have to miss one day when they do the actual retrieval and schedule all your other appointments super early or over lunch (and at least the clinic we had talked to about IVF also does them on Saturday and Sunday so if you can time it right, work might never notice) .

    3. Valancy Snaith*

      You may not need to take as much time as you think. Many fertility clinics do the monitoring scans early in the morning (starting as early as 6 or 7am) to accommodate women who work regular office hours, and those are the most frequent appointments. You’ll need a day at minimum for the retrieval (sometimes two depending on whether your clinic does anesthesia), but you may be able to work something out to do shortened days (or start a little later and finish a little later) instead. During my IVF cycles I think I was only fully off maybe two days–the other days I was able to work with the clinic to do early monitoring appointments and coordinate later start times. Speak with your main nursing point of contact, your clinic may be more flexible.

    4. Em from CT*

      Yes, as others have said, you can do the appointments really early! Granted, if your clinic is a bit of a drive (mine was 2 hrs away) the early-morning appointments mean leaving the house really early, but for me it was worth it to not have to miss a lot of work.

      And, frankly, at least for me (doing egg retrieval cycles) most of the appointments themselves were incredibly quick: five to ten minutes, just enough for a quick blood draw and ultrasound and then you’re done. Yes, for the actual egg retrieval day you’ll need to take a full day off (most clinics in the U.S. use anesthesia, so you really won’t be able to go back to work afterwards), but for the monitoring appointments, I often just blocked myself off as “busy” for a half-hour on my work calendar, and then worked remotely from a coffee shop near the clinic for the rest of the day, then drove home after the work day.

      Finally, I found it really useful to basically tell my boss “I have some upcoming doctors’ appointments over the next few months, but I should be able to schedule the majority of them outside of business hours. I wanted to let you know that I might need a few day-time appointments occasionally, but this shouldn’t impact my work schedule.” (Without specifying why/what the appointments were!)

      1. 1652110*

        Thank you all so much, this is super helpful to hear! I have my first consult next week so will be sure to ask about early appointments. From what I was reading online it sounded like a lot of long clinic visits were involved, so hearing that I can likely get to work most days is very heartening. Thanks!

    5. lost academic*

      I don’t know if FMLA would cover this but it is medical procedure and I think you can probably inquire with whatever company you have that handles your FMLA type stuff (I am assuming you have a vendor that does that). You do mention your firm is small so it is also possible FMLA does not apply even if the firm may at times generally follow the principles (which I’m sure you know is not at all the same).

      I think in your case (and at a small consulting firm earlier in life I can extrapolate a bit the nature of the environment and the work), you’re in a position where you do want to tell the senior partner(s) who need to know that you have upcoming medical treatments and your availability will look like X (try and get that pinned down to the extent the clinic can give you) and that you’ll ensure that your billables remain consistent. Definitely don’t give them the specifics and if possible don’t suggest or intimate that this is some sort of voluntary or optional or delayable thing (some people if you give them an inch…) but of course don’t lie to them.

      Emphasize at the end that there won’t be any follow up needs like this (I think that’s true?) so that they can know that it’s not going to keep happening which is probably where their minds are going – signing a blank check for unexpected frequent absence. Make it sound like your only concern is about them and their needs but line up your needs first.

  52. SleepyToad*

    I would love to hear any personal stories of how you managed to turn around a total executive dysfunction breakdown. I feel like I am failing so hard at my admin job, but my manager isn’t very good – he keeps telling me I’m doing great, gives me exceeds expectations on all reviews, etc. But I don’t think he knows the full extent of things that aren’t getting done, and everyone else is getting more and more frustrated with me (and for good reason). I live in a rural area so there aren’t very many other jobs for me without a huge commute.

    1. Someone Else's Boss*

      I don’t think this is good advice, but I’ll share it anyway. I started by making a list of everything that I was behind on, as well as the ongoing tasks I was having trouble managing. Then, I stayed late and worked weekends to get caught up on what wasn’t done. Once I’d done that, I focused on the list of ongoing tasks and tried to identify why I was having trouble. Was I never trained? Was it too fast paced? Was I simply unable to focus? And I started to Google. When all was said and done, I came up with a system of automatic reminders in Outlook to keep me on task and help me get ahead. I also ultimately quit that job because it wasn’t a good fit for me.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Make the quad list, 4 boxes, 2 axis “urgent to not urgent” and “important to not important” , so you end up with: “urgent and important”; “urgent but not important”; “not urgent but important”; “not urgent and not important”. Sort all your tasks into it.

      The “urgent and important” are priority one. Ignore the other boxes for now.
      I then usually tackle “Urgent but not important” next (Put outgoing mail in box before courier arrives). Triage if anything’s quick in there, get it over with while still in category one.
      Then work on “Important but not Urgent” (Make sure George is on the books for payroll in 4 weeks).
      Then ignore the not “important and not urgent” requests until the other 3 are cleared.

      The other great piece of advice I got was to deliberately at the end of each day pick something small and easily doable to put on the first thing on my to do list tomorrow. Brains like patterns, giving yourself an easy achievable task first makes it so much easier to keep going with harder tasks.

      One final sort option – Kanban boards. If you have a lot of tasks that are like “I do XYZ, George does ABC then I do EFG” this is really helpful. 4 column list (to do, waiting, doing, done) move tasks between. Stuff not started in to do. Stuff you will be doing but need something from someone else first in waiting; stuff you’re actively working on in doing. Done is really important too, it helps you see the accomplishments and rewards your brain. We have a whiteboard and post it notes, move it around that way.

  53. JustaTech*

    Looking for some logistical advice.
    My work may need me to go spend a week on-site with a client to learn a new process (hands-on in the lab, not something that you can do remotely). This would be totally fine and normal, except that I’m still breastfeeding my baby. This isn’t a problem at home, I just pump at the office and bring it home, and when my husband and I went away for a weekend I was able to get a hotel room with a freezer and freeze my milk.
    But a week is a *lot* of milk, like would probably completely fill my carry-on bag. And if my work is choosing the hotel the chances of having access to a freezer are a lot lower.
    The weird wrinkle is that my in-laws live in the same city/metro area, so I could ask them to come get the milk from me once or twice and keep it in their freezer (but I’d still need to get it back from them).

    So, do I 1) say no to the trip, 2) try to convince my work to pay for a milk shipping company like MilkStork (expensive!) 3) insist on a hotel with a freezer and pay the checked bag fee, or 4) figure out a way for my in-laws to drive into town several times to be my freezer?

    (Extra fun twist is that I want to do a conference in the same metro area in the fall, but the differences are that it’s 1) much shorter, 2) like a mile from my in-laws’ house, 3) my husband suggested that he and the baby just come with and stay with my in-laws.)

    1. NeedRain47*

      Frame it as “proposing an alternative” instead of “saying no to this trip”, and ask to go to the one in the fall instead?

      1. Observer*

        Yup. These are both perfectly reasonable options, that your company should accommodate.

    2. lost academic*

      Have the company pay for shipping – estimate it at twice in that week perhaps? Find a dry ice vendor nearby (e.g. grocery store) so you can ship it yourself if you’re comfortable with that. Call the hotel and ask for a fridge – even when they aren’t standard, they always have some because people often have medications that need refrigeration too.

      Hotels will not store your milk in the main fridge or freezer because they won’t want the risk associated with the temperature control.

      I’ve pumped through two babies and overall my clients have been the best about supporting my pumping, really much better then my own firm at the time.

    3. Anon for This*

      I traveled internationally with a colleague who was breastfeeding. She got supplies from an organization and hotels were willing to put her milk in their fridge, etc. She had a special box for bringing the milk home with her. Don’t remember the name, something like Moms on a Mission. The world has gotten a lot better – there are solutions. Check some of the organizations near you that support breastfeeding.

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

      Would you be able to bring the baby and have your inlaws watch her while you are at work? Or is there a way that your husband and child could come visit part way through and bring back some of the milk?

    5. Rara Avis*

      Do you need to keep all the milk? I did a week-long trip when my kiddo was 14 months and still nursing. I pumped to keep my supply, but discarded the milk.

      1. JustaTech*

        That’s a good point! The freezer is pretty full and I’m still adding to it every day. I guess I’m still stuck in the early days mindset of “more milk, more milk!” rather than “he’s started solids, you’re good”.

        1. Observer*

          Yeah, in that case, I’ll change my opinion to just “pump and dump”. It will be the easiest thing for you.

        2. lost academic*

          Except…. and not to stress you, but post solids and return of your period usually mean a decreasing supply. With my first, I was great, I built up my freezer stash before I went back to work, and I was staying ahead of consumption so I wasn’t trying to add in a pump or anything. Then after about 8 months it flipped and he started to burn my stash and I got worried. We made it to my end goal of 12 months without supplementing liquid feeds with some left over, but with my second kid I didn’t build up enough and I ended up supplementing just a little at the end to max out the life of the freezer stash (like, a total of 2 sample formula containers). Might not matter to you but for what it’s worth I’d keep it.

      2. GingerNP*

        this was my thought – pump to maintain supply, but chuck it as long as you’ve got a decent stash at home.

    6. EMP*

      Just seconding the suggestion to bring up milk shipping or a hotel with a freezer to your company and see what they’ll pay for. My spouse’s work pays for milkStork for their employees who need it! I know when it comes to stuff like this “it can’t hurt to ask” isn’t really true because there’s so much social stigma around breastfeeding and working, but presumably your company already knows you’re feeding a baby so I would hope bringing it up as a matter-of-fact, necessary accommodation will go over well.

      1. Jobbyjob*

        See if your company will cover MilkStork. A number of them do and it makes it super easy to get your milk home.

    7. GythaOgden*

      Even if your work is choosing the hotel, you can still contact them independently and ask for assistance. We did that with the hotel our scifi convention happens in when my husband needed a fridge for his protein shakes while undergoing chemo.

  54. NetNotWorking*

    Any tips for networking at events as part of your job? I moved into a role that requires more interacting with organizational partners and peers in my industry. I’m not the best at small talk, and trying to build my skills around meeting new people and maintaining casual professional relationships. This is to help me be better at my current job (to boost organizational relationships, learn from peers, etc.), not necessarily to further my individual career, if that makes any difference.

    1. Generic Name*

      First, networking really is just talking to and getting to know people. I have 3 topics I keep in my back pocket that I can talk to literally anyone in my industry/metro area about. They are: kids, pets, hunting. I’m also a really good listener, and I ask questions that keep people talking. I love hearing people’s stories.

  55. Blarg*

    I hope this is on-topic, Alison please remove if not. I’ve been listening to a newer podcast, Lawyers Behaving Badly, and REALLY enjoying it (and I’m not a lawyer). For the most part, they do deep dives on situations where lawyers acted really egregiously in their work — lying to judges, having major conflicts of interest, etc. I was introduced to it because they did a couple episodes that are really helpful on understanding what’s going on with the Sam Bankman-Fried/FTX case.

    Are there other podcasts that anyone knows about that are basically about people being terrible at their jobs, in a serious and yet also irreverent way?

    1. Observer*

      Sounds interesting.

      Let us know if they do an episode on lawyers using chatGPT without any real proofing.

      1. Cedrus Libani*

        I watch the LegalEagle YouTube channel, and they did a video about that a few days ago. Yes, the lawyers in question submitted an entirely AI-written brief in federal court, including plausibly formatted but non-existent legal citations. Would recommend, if you’re looking for a serious but irreverent discussion of why that’s a bad idea.

        If you’re interested in science, try the BobbyBroccoli channel for videos about scientific fraudsters (and failed mega-projects).

    2. Friday Person*

      I started listening to this and it’s great, thank you for the recommendation!

  56. The Wizard Rincewind*

    Real talk: when a company rejects your application but assures you that they’ll keep you in their system for future openings…do they really? Obviously it’s a generalization to say that every company does or doesn’t, but has anyone experienced applying for a job, getting rejected, and then have that same company contact you out of the blue saying “hey, you were in our system and this new opening looks like something you’d qualify for”?

    I’ve been getting a ton of those rejections and I’m bitter, lol. I don’t believe them anymore.

    1. Anon Librarian*

      I’ve never had a company do it to me, but I’ve have done it. Usually the person has to have gotten to the phone screen stage, but yes, I’ve reached out to candidates I didn’t hire about other opportunities if they impressed me and I thought, “this would be a good fit.”

      In fact, I will be doing for a my current search, because one person was not a great fit for the job I am hiring for, but would be a great fit for a job my colleague is hiring for in three weeks. So, it does happen, but in general, I think it’s a formality.

    2. kiwiii*

      I can’t speak to other companies, but having helped with a half-dozen hirings in the last 3 years at our company, I can say: 1) that we definitely do keep applications in our system for the future and have pulled applicants from that group for subsequent hirings, but 2) those applications don’t always make it to other teams, and 3) if an individual isn’t excellent we often end up not grabbing folks out. I think of the various hiring rounds, we’ve pulled about 6 folks out of our little stack of kept applications, and ended up hiring one of them.

    3. Irish Teacher*

      Yes, I have had one or two situations where, in my case, I’ve applied for a job, gotten an interview, been rejected and then had the school call me up some months later to ask, “are you still available? We need somebody to cover…” The jobs I got that way were only subbing; full-time jobs would be advertised but they definitely do keep people who were good but just not the best candidates on file for future possibilities.

    4. HBJ*

      A friend of mine had this happen, except they were never even rejected initially! Their resume just went into the void, and they never received any response at all (except maybe an automated “we got it,” I’m not sure.) Three or four years go by, and they get called out of the blue for an interview because their resume was on file. They got the job.

    5. Generic Name*

      Yes. My company hired one guy, ultimately had to fire him, and reached out to the “second” choice, hired herand she’s been doing great so far.

    6. linger*

      We did it once. At the time of applying, the candidate met all but one of our criteria for the advertised (full-time) position. We suggested she work on that criterion, and kept her CV on file for a lower-level (part-time) position she met the criteria for, then a few years later when she had fulfilled the other criterion, we offered her the next full-time position that came available.

    7. Anon for this*

      I’m sure not all companies do keep applications on file, but I know my current company does. I applied for a position, had 3 rounds of interviews, and was rejected. A year later, the department added a new position, and the hiring manager called me to ask if I was still interested in working for her. (Spoiler: I was.)

  57. Anon Librarian*

    I am going to my first library conference since the pandemic and I have been having horrible anxiety dreams about it. I don’t know why. It’s a library conference (not ALA, a smaller one) and I have friends who are also attending, but for some reason I am feeling very overwhelmed about the idea of it. I think the pandemic and lack of practice has left me a bit frazzled. Also, I will be getting a title change at the beginning of July (post-conference) and I think that’s also contributing. The change is public, but since a beloved person here is retiring, I’ve been trying to not really talk much about it at work or take over any duties until she leaves (long story, this is a political choice). Any advice for managing conference anxiety? Or “new title & duties” anxiety?

    1. costello music*

      I went to our area wide library conference in May and it went very well! Some people were masked, most weren’t, but nobody gave crap for people who did. And depending on the color lanyard you wore, it would note if you were comfortable with hugs, etc.

      You should be able to see if there’s a map online of the center, and scope out a quiet space. Or you could ask other people who are going. I don’t know how your lunch will work (one was a buffet, one was a sit down) but you should still have some time to run off for 5-15 minutes and take some time for yourself, go outside, whatever.

      One thing I love about working at a library is that 99% of people are SO chill. No one is going to judge you for being nervous—I’m sure a lot were when they went to their first conference post-pandemic.

    2. NeedRain47*

      I noticed that ALA is going to have a quiet room for people to retreat to, check if your conference might too? I am a major introvert so I usually try to find a less busy corner or hallway and just sit for five minutes between sessions, or go back to my hotel room during lunch if it’s not too far.

    3. Kimmy Schmidt*

      At ACRL, I gave myself permission to skip an hour each day instead of trying to jampack my day to “get my money’s worth”. The way this worked out for me were different times throughout the week – an hour late, an hour early, and a very long lunch/tea.

    4. Nocturna*

      For me, I’m a planner, so I find that having my schedule planned out in advance (and in writing of some sort, if possible) goes a long way towards helping me feel less frazzled about the conference. Figure out what sessions you want to go to, get a conference map ahead of time if one is available and figure out where the sessions are, scope out where you can eat during the conference, etc.

      Also, one thing that can help me with anxiety around something in general is to plan for worst-case scenarios. So if you can figure out what, exactly, you’re finding so stressful about this conference, it might help to think through what you would do if that worry does actually come to pass and/or any steps you can proactively take to help make sure it doesn’t come to pass.

  58. vacation*

    I’m going on vacation to Europe with some family in the fall, that my aunt is paying for, for just under two weeks.

    Well, I’m also about 2 days short in time off for the vacation and my employers don’t allow you to go in the negative with PTO. Which is really annoying cause I was sick for like a month so I had to dip into my vacation time cause I didn’t have enough sick time.

    I’m going to talk to my manager about making up that time during the weekend (we work with the public, open 7 days a week, remote is literally impossible in my field) as I know at least one other person has done something like that very recently.

    Any tips on wording? My manager says she’s pretty willing to work with us on schedules but I think that’s only 50% true. I think she plays favorites a little, and I’m probably on the neutral side. (Tbf, I don’t think she hates anyone just will give certain people more grace/etc.)

    I’m going on this vacation no matter what, but I really don’t want to lose my job for it.

    1. Turingtested*

      I’d say something like “I have a once in a lifetime opportunity to travel to Europe for two weeks. However I’m 16 hours short on PTO. I’d be happy to make that time by coming in on the weekends prior to the vacation. Is that doable?”

      the once in a lifetime is a subtle signal you aren’t going to make a habit of it, and then you give a plan so the manager just has to approve or not rather than figure out how to make up your hours.

    2. Llellayena*

      Hey boss, I’m going on a family trip from X to X dates. I don’t have control over the dates or length of trip and I’m 2 vacation days short at the moment. Would you prefer that I make up the days on Y weekend or take them as unpaid days?

      This gives boss options but also states that the trip is definitely happening.

  59. Room to improve*

    I got some candid but pretty negative feedback from an employee recently about my management style (too relaxed, not addressing issues). I agree with some of her points and I was already working on improvements on my own, though that has also caused some frustration. I know she is not alone in this. I’ve been struggling with some low confidence and high anxiety for a while, though I do work hard to be a good boss.

    I thanked the employee for her feedback, and I told her it took a lot of courage to talk with me about her concerns. I think there are some other issues going on with morale as well–post-covid stress and changes, negative customers, everyone having a lot of personal problems, etc. I want the employees to know that I am aware and that I’m working on making changes, and that their feedback is useful and valuable. But I’d also like to see if there is anything I can do about complaining and conflict that isn’t productive.

    We’ve always had a very relaxed and hands-off management culture here and it has been a struggle to try to break out of that paradigm. I definitely understand the frustrations, having been in her position before. But I also don’t like getting in the cycle of being too relaxed and then too strict, overreacting to feedback or venting, etc. We get a lot of positive feedback from customers, increasing traffic. I know at times that even this employee has benefitted from a more flexible work environment. I guess I want to communicate to all the employees that we are trying to improve processes but not making them feel like they’ve done something wrong.

    1. ferrina*

      Transparency will help. First, take a couple hours to really set your vision. What are you working toward? What do you want to see? What will success look like? Same questions you ask for any part of the business.

      Then call your team together. Tell them what the goal is. Tell them what your plan is. Then tell them that you’ll be regularly checking in to see how they are feeling. As with any initiative, there is always something unforeseen, and if something isn’t working, you want to know so you can figure out how to course-correct.

      If your team is generally good people, they’ll appreciate this. I’ve done this several times. Most people really appreciate that they know what’s going on, and they feel trusted and valued. Since you are bringing them on in almost a collaborative role, they have more incentive to help the work succeed. They’ll also be more likely to give you some time to adjust (since you’ll give them a rough timeline of when they should expect results)

      1. ferrina*

        Adding- Transparency doesn’t mean saying “I suck at this” or “this isn’t working”
        Focus on what you are working towards (rather than working away from): “I really want to improve X. In the next few months, I want to tackle this through [what your plan is].”

        If you want, you can say: “I know this has been a source for many of us, if not all of us”. Don’t delve into the issues, just acknowledge and focus on how you are fixing.

  60. Two Fluffy*

    A little over a year ago, I left a high-stress job that I was burned out on for a much more sane environment. The new job payed a bit less (about $5K) and the benefits weren’t as good but the company has a great reputation in my very niche field and the president is also the president of our professional society. The company has proved to be exactly what I expected: sane (this was very important because my previous company was bananas), committed to equity, clear communication.

    BUT (there’s always a “but”), the benefits are worse than I expected and I went from managing a team to being more of an individual contributor. I miss having a team and junior people to mentor. The pay cut has also proven to be harder to handle than expected (my spouse lost their job and went back to school this year). So, I’m considering moving on. Part of me feels guilty! The people here have been very kind and my boss is giving me lots of kudos and new projects. The work is interesting! My boss is very influential in the industry and working for them for a few more years would look great on my resume.

    At the same time, my insurance is abysmal and expensive, I have almost no PTO, I haven’t been able to contribute to my 401K (they don’t allow it for a year+ after joining), and I miss the team environment. Get over the guilt and leave or suck it up and stay?

    1. ferrina*

      What about a quiet search? It sounds like you’ve learned a lot about what you’re looking for- you want to have a manager/team lead/mentoring role. You want to build your 401k. You like PTO.

      So start looking. Be really picky. Walk away if a job feels off. Search casually- you don’t need to devote all your time to this, maybe 2-5 hours per week? That way you’re still in an okay place if your job search takes a while.

  61. Ble*

    People who wear some degree of makeup at worn and *don’t* work from home- do you have to refresh/touch up your makeup once or twice a day? Are there any makeup products that don’t require touching up? I’m talking particularly about eyeliner and CC cream or skin tint. Skin tint especially seems to disappear after a few hours.

    Along the same lines, what makeup products make it possible to get ready for work super quickly in the morning? I like my sleep better than doing even light makeup, but I also like to look put-together…

    1. Jujyfruits*

      The products that work for you depend on your skin, if it’s oily or dry. When I am in the office, I do an after-lunch touch-up and I reapply sunscreen. (I have a powder sunscreeen that’s good for everyday travel.)

      My quick routine is a tinted sunscreen, mascara, and lip balm.

    2. Valancy Snaith*

      A lot of how much touching-up you need to do depends on your skin–if you have oily skin you’ll probably find eyeliner and skin makeup fading quicker, so if you’re searching for products, that may hit some keywords. Pencil liners will tend to fade quickest, followed by gel, and liquid longest-lasting. Maybelline Tattoo Studio gel liner is pretty long-lasting and easy to manipulate if you’re not comfortable with liquid liner.

      To be ready quickest…stick with what gives the biggest impact. For me that’s getting my eyebrows threaded and then filling them in slightly with a brow pomade, then gel eyeliner and mascara. I know a lot of women who use a tinted moisturizer or CC cream just after they put on their moisturizer, which takes about 20 seconds. I know other women who maybe just do a little mascara but a bold lip instead. What makes you feel the best will have the biggest impact.

    3. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I use Bobbi Brown’s gel eyeliner (the one that comes in a pot and requires a brush to apply) and have found it stays in place for the entire work day unless I rub my eyes a LOT (like allergy season or something). It takes marginally longer to apply than a pencil, but the same eyeliner also comes in a pencil I believe, if that’s more your speed.

    4. Qwerty*

      Do you wear a mask or touch your face during the day? When I wore masks daily I’d touch my make-up if going out after work because the mask rubbed it off, but otherwise my foundation stays on pretty well, especially brands that have sun protection.

      My make-up routine takes 2-3min
      – Concealer for bad blemishes (Covergirl)
      – Foundation (Revlon Colorstay)
      – Optional: Eyeshadow (Cream eyeshadow by Revlon, don’t know the exact name).

      The eyeshadow might disappear from the overall lid by dinnertime, but usually enough stays to give me the pop of color I need. If I want the eyeliner look, I just put a little eyeshadow on right along my lashes because I never had the patience or steadiness of hand to handle learn real eyeliner.

    5. Fitz*

      Caveat: I don’t wear make-up every day and I rarely wear base makeup like foundation, skin tint, etc.
      I only have to touch-up my eyeliner if I rubbed it, typically. Everything generally lasts all day except gloss.
      When I’m in the mood to look polished, I wear eyeliner, eyebrow pencil, blush, and lip gloss. If you have strong undereye discoloration, you may want to add concealer to get maximum “polished and bright” effect. That said, the only things I almost always wear every day are eyebrow makeup (really frames and sharpens my face) and sunscreen, and that takes all of 3 min.

    6. Southern Soul*

      You could also try a setting spray in addition to the suggestions above. That may help whatever makeup you do last a few more hours.

      1. Damn it, Hardison!*

        Second this recommendation. It really helped my foundation/tinted moisturizer stay fresh. My favorite is Urban Decay All Nighter (I think that’s the name). Also, a good primer can help too. I never did figure out how to keep my mascara from flaking off.

    7. Pivot!!!*

      yes, a skin tint isn’t going to be as long lasting, though you could try a primer and setting spray. I’m very low maintenance with makeup too and use the it! cosmetics foundation. then everything else is in my Salt NY palette which makes it quick and easy to get ready. My makeup lasts too!

    8. Robinette*

      No, I do my makeup at 7AM and it lasts the day. I use a good primer, foundation, setting powder and then setting spray, and it doesn’t budge. For eyeliner, I use Urban Decay 24/7 pencil liner when I need it to last. My usual morning makeup routine takes ten minutes max, but I can get that down to five if I really need to (primer, foundation, powder, blush, brow gel, mascara, setting spray).

    9. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I work from home and I wear makeup 99% of the time– nothing too complicated. I use a liquid foundation (Neutrogena), eye liner (I really like NYX, it doesn’t smudge or run on me), sometimes mascara, finishing powder. My makeup routine takes 5 minutes.

      One thing I learned many years ago– sometimes you don’t need to do a touch-up or a refresh, sometimes all you need are blotting papers. I have combination skin with a shiny forehead and OMG do I love a blotting paper. Putting on more powder just looks bad, but blotting papers do the trick and they’re so quick.

    10. Generic Name*

      When I wore makeup regularly, I never touched it up. Too lazy? Now I don’t really wear it. Maybe mascara. Sometimes lipstick. Those don’t get touched up as well.

  62. Chirpy*

    Any tips on how to get LinkedIn and other sites to stop giving me sales job (or medical job) listings?

    I happen to have both a current job in retail and a minor in something that is definitely not merchandising, but would be incredibly helpful in a tangential way if I wanted to be a merchandiser or sales person. I absolutely hate retail, and don’t want anything more to do with it – it’s a large part of why I want out of this job. I did previously have a job in the field of my minor, but it’s a small field and I can’t focus my job search only on that.

    My college major is in a science, and I think that and a (long expired) lifeguard certification are triggering the medical jobs (which are things like surgeon, no possible way I’m qualified for that!) I have very little (basically no) job experience in that field. It’s also sort of a niche industry with mostly government or university jobs.

    So I think LinkedIn just has no idea what to do with this information, and I can’t just narrow down to one field because I don’t know which one is going to find me a job (the golden unicorn is a job that uses both my major and minor, which exists, but are extremely few and far between). I’m in my 40s, and can’t afford to do part time or seasonal jobs to “get in the door”. Can I somehow screen out these sales or medical jobs at least?

    1. The New Wanderer*

      Commenting to see if anyone has solved this issue, because I have a similar one. I get LinkedIn recruiter messages thanking me for being a certain kind of specialist that I absolutely am not, and my feed is littered with ads targeting that kind of specialist. I know it’s a keyword thing but I can’t remove the keyword because it’s literally in my job titles and degrees. What I’d love is if there were some option to filter by “Keyword NOT Specialist”

  63. RayRay and the Beast*

    So it looks like I can expect an offer from a new job next week. It’s been hell sitting on this because my manager won’t take it well and she will feel I was being deceitful.

    so. I need some scripts.
    I know, after signing the contract at NewJob, I should schedule an in person meeting.
    what EXACTLY are things to say?? I only can find like, general topics and not literal sentences.

    I am leaving after coming back on reduced hours post burnout, been back about 9 mos. there have been no positive changes here, the working conditions just aren’t good, and they do the nonprofit thing of “do it for the clients!!!!!! (and not the low pay and low benefits)”. New job is higher ed, super interesting, also doing good, and better paid with much more time off.

    1. RayRay and the Beast*

      (For the commenters who helped me w my guilt about keeping mum a few weeks ago in the work thread: it’s me, Rosa Diaz! changed username because someone else is using it and I was like… eh.)

    2. Amalfi*

      “Manager, I’ve accepted another position. My last day will be xxx.”

      “It’s been a pleasure working here, and I will always be grateful to have had this experience.”

      Also optional:
      “I have some thoughts on transitioning/documenting my work. Would you like to talk about that now or would you prefer I schedule a follow up meeting to give you some time to think?”

    3. Qwerty*

      Are you asking how to give notice?

      “There’s no good way to say this, but I am giving my two weeks notice for a resignation on X. As you know I am passionate about education so when an opportunity came up I couldn’t say no. I really appreciate my time I have spent on the team and plan to document A, B, C. How about I set up a meeting for tomorrow for us to talk through a transition plan?”

      – Does your boss really know that you are passionate about education? Probably not, but it pulls her into the “of course RayRay went to higher ed” mindset.
      – The vagueness about the opportunity coming up makes it sound like it fell into your lap but also could mean that you happened across the job posting and just had to try for it. Avoid details!
      – Show a bit of an action plan and end on a yes/no question so there is a logical response for your boss to give. Hopefully it will disrupt her mindset so that she answers the question, at which point you wrap up the meeting with a “Thanks for being so understanding!”

      Does this gloss over all the bad stuff? Yep! The goal is to make your life less painful on the way out. You can say more in the exit interview if you feel safe to do so. You don’t need to talk about how much better the pay/benefits are at the new place – it will sound like criticism to your boss that she won’t respond well to.

    4. Panicked*

      I would say something like “I have some news that may be difficult to hear; I have decided to accept a position that better aligns with my career goals. My last day will be X and will spend the next (notice period) transferring and finishing my tasks. I really appreciate the time I have spent here and am sad to go! Let’s talk about what that transition looks like.”

      Remember, it’s a decision that’s already been made, not a conversation. Your manager can think whatever she wants; it sounds as though you don’t need her as a reference. Congrats on the new job!

  64. Daisy*

    Any recommendations on where to find/rent an office with a door that closes? I’m currently crashing at a relative’s house after a divorce and need a reliable place to work, and now that school is out for the summer, it’s not the public library. Due to PTSD and ADHD issues, it needs to be a room just for myself– a cubicle or hotdesking kind of arrangement is not something where I can get work done.


    1. Catmom*

      A long long long time ago, I worked at a nonprofit that rented an office room in a small office building – they billed themselves as an incubator space. It was nice because it had all the amenities of a big office (coffee, microwave, real photocopier) and we just paid rent for our rooms (one at first but two after we hired a third full time person and then a fourth).

    2. Fitz*

      This sounds odd, but I’d consider looking to Craigslist. You’ll probably find some owners looking to rent out a room for a little extra cash, and the fact that you wouldn’t be living there full-time would just be a bonus for them.

      1. Daisy*

        Ah! I tried this, but unfortunately, every single place I contacted was a scam. Maybe it’s better in different areas?

    3. J*

      I wish resortpass still had the abundance of hotel rooms they used to offer back in 2020 for working out of, though a few cities still have it. I’d definitely make some calls to coworking spaces or even check out college libraries. I know my community college has small rooms and no one uses them in the summer except in the evening classes.

    4. Lasuna*

      I have no experience with co-working spaces, so I have no idea what they offer, but in my large city, there are plenty of commercial buildings that would rent you a space. I’m not sure how common renting single rooms is in other areas, but try searching commercial spaces for rent to see what’s available.

    5. Daisy*

      Ah! Forgot to add that this would need to be for just a month or two (until the library situation settles down), not a whole year. I don’t know which city I’ll end up finding a job in, and need to not commit to a long-term lease.

      1. beach read*

        Maybe run it by the Librarian? Maybe there is another local branch with a better suited set up?

        1. Daisy*

          This is the only library branch in easy commuting distance that’s disability-accessible for me, unfortunately.

  65. Picky Eater*

    I feel embarassed to ask, but I need help figuring out work lunches. Previous jobs mostly provided food or had a subsidized cafeteria. But I am on my own and don’t have options to dine out nearby and have a lot of food restrictions.

    What I need is something that I can setup on Sunday night and take into work for the whole week. Doing a daily packed lunch is not working for me – I have ADHD and either forget to make it, leave it in my fridge, on my counter, or in my hot car in the parking lot.

    So far I’ve been getting chicken fried rice to-go on the weekend and taking that, because one container = 3-4 lunches to cover my in-office days. Which was fine for a couple weeks, but needs to go down to just covering one week a month in my rotation.

    Restrictions (it’s a lot, unfortunately)
    – No leftovers, I don’t cook
    – Can’t eat most seafood
    – Can’t handle spicy
    – Can’t eat onions, bell peppers,
    – Salads leave me hungry (plus the lettuce goes bad after one day)
    – Not into raw veggies
    – Not into sandwiches, plus the bread gets soggy if made more than a day in advance.
    – Haven’t had much luck with frozen single-serving meals (either too small or poor quality)

    In the winter I think I’ll be fine because I’ll have warm hearty options like a big vat of soup or stew (I buy pre-packaged mixes…still not a cook…) but its just way too hot for the next 3+ months to make or want to eat those. On a work from home day I’m likely to just munch on a bag of chips or some hummus/naan throughout the day and end up skipping lunch + dinner.

    1. Amalfi*

      What’s your budget? Frozen microwave meals are my go to. I bring one each day and keep it in an insulated bag at my desk until lunch. I pretty much eat the same flavors everyday. Lean Cuisine is a good price point.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      How about larger frozen meals? There’s a… Birds Eye, I think is the brand? They do one-pan pasta-with-protein-and-veg type meals that are literally “dump the bag into a big pan with a half cup of water, cook and stir for about 15 minutes.” I like the garlic chicken variety, but they’ve got a half dozen different flavors. Some of them would probably be pretty decent as a cold pasta salad too.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        or if you like pasta salad — go to the deli counter at your local grocery store and get a container of a couple of different things that sound good, mine does a really good bacon ranch pasta salad with a creamy dressing, or a greek or Italian one that’s more of a vinaigrette style. You can get cooked chopped-up chicken frozen in bags, so defrost a couple handfuls of that, mix it into the different pasta salads and you have cold chicken pasta salad you can eat. I wouldn’t let them sit around for more than a week, but if you do them up Sunday night and keep them in the fridge they should still be fine for lunch by Friday. (Eat the cream based ones earlier in the week to be safe.)

      2. LegoGirl*

        Could you do rice and beans in an instant pot? You can change it up each week with different seasoning packets and add meat if you want sometimes (pre cut up stew meat cooks in the same amount of time as dried beans). I think being not liquidy makes it feel more summery than a stew, but it’s the same exact idea.

      3. Panicked*

        I grew up on that Garlic Chicken, I didn’t know they still made it! Now I’ve got a major craving.

    3. NeedRain47*

      Bring the hummus & naan! A container of hummus can be brought on Monday and left in the work fridge. The bread might not stay at its freshest but should be edible. (I also struggle mightily with work lunches. I do cook sometimes and am good with leftovers, but I don’t cook every day so packet of cheez its from the vending machine is often lunch.)

    4. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      To transition to cooking (because it turns out there’s ways to cook with minimal effort and it may be a good self-development project), I’d recommend checking out the prepared food sections of your supermarket. A rotisserie chicken can be cut up and shared out for the week’s lunches. An interesting side dish made with grains or veg (I’m imagining things like cous cous salads, pasta primavera, etc.) could go next to it. Microwaved potatoes make a great base for random fillings. Maybe a piece of fruit or a container of fruit salad. Mix and match elements and stack ’em up in the fridge to go.
      Learning to make a pot of rice and throwing in your favorite cooked veg with a bit of jarred sauce is a game changer. Or if you’re like me, just dump frozen veg onto the rice (or a baked potato), decorate with sauce and nuke the whole thing to warm up at work.

    5. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Pasta salads with lots of veggies, cheese and meats. Lots of grocery store delis carry pasta salads.
      Rice bowls – Asian, Mexican, middle eastern etc.
      Bring the hummus and naan or chips!
      Or buy a 7 layer dip (refried beans, cheese, sour cream, tomatoes, etc) from the deli and bring that with chips.

    6. ConstantlyComic*

      This is kind of a weird one, but seeing chips made me think you might wanna try just having fixins for nachos available to you? Just tortilla chips and cheese (and most supermarket shredded cheese keeps for a scary long time) and anything else you might want to add to it

    7. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      There are, for lack of a better term, civilian MREs – meals in a pouch that are shelf-stable. Easy to microwave, and lots of them taste perfectly fine at room temperature.

      Since they are shelf-stable, you can bring an assortment of them in and stick them in a desk drawer – no issue with forgetting at home or in the car.

      There are several Indian brands (several of which are pretty low on the spice side) that I buy. Plus all sorts of other cuisines.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        Tasty Bite makes pretty decent Indian style pouch meals. Make some rice, or even get those read cups of rice. Keep a bowl at work. Nuke both things, eat together.

        1. Loreli*

          These were a work go-to. Empty into bowl or giant mug and nuke. put a napkin in top -it splatters)
          I eat them with Trader Joe’s sesame crisp crackers mixed in after it’s hot, as a rice substitute.

    8. RussianInTexas*

      Pasta salad.
      I cheat and get a box. Use pasta, add stuff like broccoli, corn, peas, diced ham or chicken or salami for protein, sliced black olives (good ones), maybe sliced baby corn – whatever mix-ins you want.
      Use the provided dressing mix, but disregard the instructions, instead mix it with the red wine vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice.
      Last in the fridge for few days.

    9. RussianInTexas*

      Also, rotisserie chicken can be few meals. Get some steameable vegetables, rice, piece of chicken, done.
      I may have lived like that for few years.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        If you don’t mind breakfast for lunch, overnight oatmeal might be an option, you can change it up with fruit/nuts, etc. There’s a ton of variations out there but the basic recipe is equal parts oatmeal/milk (or almond/soy/other milk you like), sprinkle of cinnamon, honey or other sweetener if you like. Put in a container overnight and eat cold the next day.

        Microwave mac and cheese cups are a potential back up option, I try to keep a couple in my desk for emergencies/forgot my lunch etc days.

        Make a crock pot meal and freeze leftovers in smaller containers.

        Supplement smaller meals with snacks, like salads or frozen dinners. Bring yogurt, cheese, protein bars, dried fruit etc based on what you like.

        Bring sandwich fixings to work if your fridge is big enough and construct sandwiches at work.

        Salads can be easier if you buy prepackaged ones, or put a paper towel in bagged salad mix. Adding premade chicken salad from the deli counter or rotisserie chicken if you can eat those adds protein to be more filing.

    10. lost academic*

      I’ve seen some ads for places that basically ship you your meals prepped like many people would do on their own on a weekend. You might google around for those companies – I would guess they cater to dietary restrictions. I am sure they aren’t cheap compared to DIY but since that’s off the table, it’s worth a shot.

      It’s going, I think, to be worth your while to just lightly branch out into a little more cooking to support your needs. Your list suggests that you don’t want more complex dishes in the first place so you really just need a few options you can prep and parcel out into containers. There are definitely things that are right on the level of “follow directions of prepackaged mix”.

    11. Anon for This*

      Lunchables and their imitators are good, but need refrigeration. There are all kinds of shelf-stable packaged items available in individual serving sizes: nuts, cheese and crackers, peanut butter and pretzels, tuna salad with crackers, etc. I keep some granola bars, nuts and some protein-based items in a drawer at work for the days when I forget to bring my lunch.

    12. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Lazy meals that last:
      Buy readymade tubs of potato salad or couscous from the supermarket.
      Add a tray of veg you can cook in the oven.
      Then add packets of cooked ham, beef, chicken so you can change it up over the days

    13. MaryB*

      Fellow ADHD’er here who hates cooking (and cleaning up!) I am a huge fan of meal prep. A lot of these are best eaten warmed up, but they feel light enough for summer to me at least. Also, due to my own dietary restrictions, I eat fairly high protein and in practice my diet is fairly meat-heavy. You can adjust portions for your own needs.

      I try to do protein, carb, veg as a general template. I hate cooking, so whenever I do it, I make extremely large portions and freeze. If I’m turning on the oven to bake chicken, why only do two breasts when I can do 5 pounds? I also invested in a few different sized meal prep containers:
      – (~1 oz) for dressings, toppings, snacks, etc.
      – small (~4 oz) for individual meat/carb portions
      – Medium (16-18 oz) for meals with all components or soups/curries
      I avoid using anything larger because I put it in the freezer and then it’s difficult to thaw/separate only one portion. Forcing myself to portion before freezing has been absolutely key.

      Here are some of my favorites:

      Veggies are usually just something roasted or steamed on the side. Steamed reheats better than roasted.

      Carbs: Rice, quinoa, pasta, roasted or mashed potatoes. Portion into small containers, mix and match with meat. Tortillas or tortilla chips.

      Ground beef:
      – I make 3 lbs at a time, put a few packets of taco seasoning in, sometimes a can or two of beans. Then put into small containers.
      – Add to rice.
      – Put into a tortilla to make a burrito, maybe with cheese, salsa, your preferred fillings.
      – Portable nachos: microwaved with cheese then use tortilla chips to scoop.
      – Goulash: pasta, marinara sauce, plain ground beef.

      Chicken: endless possibilities. I make 5 lbs+ at a time when it’s on sale. I season pretty neutrally with salt/pepper/onion powder/garlic powder (you can of course leave out anything) so that I can throw the chicken into any meal. Then I cube some and shred some.
      – The bodybuilder go-to of chicken and rice and steamed broccoli freezes and unthaws really well. It’s also a great template to swap components. Quinoa or potatoes for example or use pork for the meat or any other veggie.
      – Damn Delicious has a recipe for Thai basil chicken bowls (you can google that combo) that’s a great base – I adjust liberally for my preferences and effort levels – I add extra chicken, double the sauce recipe, leave out anything spicy, and swap powder for chopping onions. The fresh basil is essential though, dried doesn’t work. I like to add snap peas to this for veg.
      – If I’m really strapped, I add a couple oz chicken to a sauce based frozen meal to make it heartier.
      – Chicken and broccoli Alfredo: Boil a box of pasta, throw in a bag of frozen broccoli, dump a jar of sauce, top with pre-cooked chicken.
      – Grab a small container of chicken and a small container of carb to make a complete meal a la the chicken and rice template. Sometimes I eat them plain, sometimes I add hot sauce, soy sauce, or curry powder to mix things up.

    14. Lady_Lessa*

      While you have eliminated sandwiches, I do my lunches a week at a time, but freeze my sandwiches and only take them out while I am packing my lunch. (I package my chips, pickle chips, and cookies at the time I prep my sandwiches.) I tend to use firmer bread such as Italian, and use various mustards on them.

      If you don’t cook, maybe crock poting a meal might work. One of my favorites is greens, tomatoes and either black eyed peas or lentils for protein.

    15. new year, new name*

      If the main issue with sandwiches is the made-in-advance-sogginess problem, and you have the storage/prep space for it, you could bring the sandwich ingredients to work on Monday and just make a sandwich each day. I used to do that from time to time and it worked well for me – I kept cheese, hummus, a tomato, etc. in a lunchbox in the work fridge and a loaf of bread in my desk filing cabinet.

    16. BookMom*

      Search Pinterest “Bento box lunch for adults” to get a lot of options. I have a friend who makes five of these on Sundays. Cheese, hummus, crisp crackers, quartered whole wheat pitas, fruits that keep well like grapes or clementines, diced rotisserie chicken, rinsed black or cannellini beans, nuts, Greek yogurt have all made appearances. I find the chopped salad mixes that have cabbage and kale last longer than bagged lettuce and “doctor up” nicely with beans or shredded lunch meat or chicken to be more satisfying. I keep a couple protein shakes in my desk and they’re surprisingly satisfying.

    17. Nancy*

      Why can’t you bring hummus and naan/chips to work if that’s what you eat for lunch at home? Just bring enough for the week. Add an apple or some other fruit if you want.

    18. RagingADHD*

      To make better recommendations, I’d need more info. When you say you don’t cook, is that a lack of facilities or a lack of skill? Because cooking is really just putting foods together and possibly making them hot. It sounds like you do some of that. I just wonder where the parameters are.

      If you were able to stretch even one of those parameters (such as by ordering pre-chopped and measured meal kits that just need heat applied as directed), you would have a lot more options.

    19. beach read*

      Could you keep a couple of easy to prep canned soups at work for those days you forget?
      Some ideas for shelf stable items you could bring in on Monday and keep all week, mixing and matching:
      *Shelf stable chicken pouches. (Also there are salmon or tuna if those were fish you like)
      *Shelf stable rice mixes, some combos have rice, lentils, quinoa.
      *Microwaveable pasta pouches (60 seconds in microwave).
      *Unsweetened applesauce containers.
      * Jif peanut butter individual packs.
      *Microwave Mac-n-cheese.
      If you have freezer space available, Bibio chicken and veggie dumplings, Birds eye freezer to microwave veggie pastas (many different varieties) Morningstar veggie burgers and a pack of burger rolls or sandwich thins.

  66. Elsewise*

    Not really a question, but an update! A few weeks ago I posted in an open thread about my partner’s terrible job (cutting hours and raising responsibilities, safety concerns, refusing to allow employees give references, etc.) and how I was worried about them quitting without notice. The comments section set me straight and pointed out that my partner was well in their rights to quit with cod, much less quit without two week’s notice.

    Well, I’m excited to share that my partner was offered a job this week! Since it’s the busiest part of the year, they did decide to give two day’s notice, so today is their last day. They were scheduled to manage the store alone tomorrow (something they’d previously said they don’t feel safe doing because of several violent robberies, people on drugs with weapons who congregate in the area, and the fact that police in our town don’t respond to most calls), and now it seems like the general manager will have to cover, since no one else can.

    Their new job is lower-status on paper, which has raised some eyebrows from their coworkers, but it pays more, is in a safe area, and opportunities for advancement. They’re really excited! Best of all, they told their new boss that they need to give two weeks, so they have some time off between the jobs.

    Thanks everyone for helping me get over my initial resistance to their plans. I was so stuck on what I thought people were supposed to do that I wasn’t thinking situationally.

  67. Fitz*

    Any process engineers out there? My background is primarily in chemistry, but I don’t really want to do lab stuff anymore, and I’ve been heavily involved in the commercialization/production scaling of products over the last 4 years, so I thought it might be a potential fit. I’m just not sure what technical skills I’d be missing if I were to try and transition. As far as what I’ve done thus far, I have taken professional courses on production scaling and mixing, and I will be enrolling in similar type of professional course for manufacturing engineering this summer.
    I’m just very aware that I’d probably struggle in building something from scratch (like designing piping), though I am used to problem-solving within existing systems. What are your recommendations for bridging the gap?

    1. Amalfi*

      I used to work in semiconductor manufacture, and none of the process engineers had to do anything like design piping. The ones in full production really just had to keep existing processes going, and I think you could do that job right now. Larger companies tend to have a dedicated R&D facility to develop new processes, and even smaller ones will not mix process development with production.

  68. Ginger Cat Lady*

    Anyone seen an uptick in “nontraditional” job application processes? Essays, videos to showcase your personality, logic puzzles.
    Saw a listing for a job this week that looked great, but the application process was “I don’t want to see your resume. I want you to write an essay” about one of our company values and why you are obsessed with it. I want you to write about why you want to work for us. And even more about why you’re the one we are looking for. “Tell us the stuff you feel is relevant. Leave out the stuff that isn’t.”
    You know what’s relevant? MY RESUME. My skills, my experience, my education. Look at THAT and then if it’s a fit we can talk. In an interview. This isn’t high school English. This isn’t even a writing job. I’m not doing an essay for you if you won’t even look at my resume.
    I hate this stuff. Hard pass on all hiring that plays games like that. They think they’re being cool, but they’re ridiculous.
    And “obsession” with company values? Please.

    1. Irish Teacher*

      Looking through, it sounds like for teaching in Ireland, it still tends to be either a CV and a cover letter or an application form and a cover letter, depending on school.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      I think those type of applications are a red flag. You can’t easily compare essays to eachother, you can however easily compare two job histories on resumes to eachother. Their hiring is self selecting for the wrong types.

      1. may spring rain*

        Hard agree. Because then it’ll be “Write an essay on why you should get a raise/promotion/etc.”

        This one definitely deserves scorn, Ginger Cat Lady. I don’t understand these gimmicks, either, other than they are designed to exploit those who are inexperienced with workplace norms, including the application process.

        1. GythaOgden*

          From my perspective with a really mixed CV that has a large gap in it, and a lack of current experience in my present job, I’d jump at the chance to prove myself to an employer beyond a cover letter and CV. The problem is I’m good in a traditional interview but have been effectively underemployed since the beginning of the pandemic, and being able to show what I can do would be something that would finally get me over the finish line (without having to quit entirely and go back to the instability of temping). I’m neurodivergent but that doesn’t mean I’m stupid or uneducated (which is what a lot of these comments about different processes being hard on X minority often come across as saying, because it implies we haven’t had to work harder to get where we are now and are simply stuck in a twilight zone of passive oppression) — it just means more unorthodox methods may actually help people who struggle with the traditional process for a number of reasons.

          Having a range of different methods of giving people a chance means that people who have different ways of working or learning or developmental issues get a chance at a job. To me, that trumps an over-reliance on a process that does end up privileging another set of people over those whose issues are trickier to handle.

  69. ConstantlyComic*

    It’s peak season for my workplace (library summer reading), and I once again have realized that I’ve fallen into my bad habit of stretching myself way too thin. Just this month, for example, I’m coming in on a couple of weekend days where I’d normally be off in order to run programs, which ended up meaning that I’m at work every Saturday this month. Then next month, there’s one day with a couple of programs I’m involved with that’s scheduled in such a way that, assuming my normal schedule doesn’t change, means I’ll be working a 12-hour shift.

    I plan to talk to my direct supervisor about this in a one-on-one meeting on Monday, particularly how to handle the 12-hour shift, but he tends to push working over your scheduled hours and getting comp time over taking time off, so I’m not sure how hard I’m gonna have to push on that.

    I’m just… so stressed, and summer’s barely started. I’ve got a vacation in August to look forward to, but that seems so far away.

    1. ferrina*

      Plan some PTO. “I need to have two days to recharge or I’m going to be a mess. We can do either DATE 1 or DATE 2. Which do you prefer?”

      By giving your boss and either/or, you’re encouraging your boss to choose between two options that work for you. If you leave it up to your boss to make up the solution, there’s a good chance it won’t work for you. Good luck!

      1. ConstantlyComic*

        I’m more concerned about that one specific day (the possible 12-hour one) than I am about taking other PTO. It’s a little tricky to take spontaneous time off this time of year because a lot of my coworkers have time off for vacations they planned for months in advance, and I’ve got so much to do, I’m afraid I’d spend my time off worrying about the stuff I still have to get done.

        1. ferrina*

          Ah. Are you able to handle a 12-hour shift? I’ve worked a couple jobs where there was a certain time of year where a couple 12-hour shifts were unavoidable.

          I can’t tell if this is something you can push back on. If this is just how the job works, here’s my tips:
          1) Say no to any new stuff. This can be a soft no- “I’m completely full until the end of summer. Can you check back with me in September?”
          2) Accept all offers of help. Become the High Ruler of Delegation.
          3) Only work on work in your physical work space. It will help you mentally separate work time from personal time
          4) Limit how much you talk about work outside of work. Sometimes it’s nice, but sometimes it feels like another way work is invading our personal life. Here’s a script if you needed it: “Thanks for asking about my work, but I’d rather not think about it right now! It’s peak season for a couple months and I’m working extra, so I’m enjoying my non-work time by committing to not thinking about work! I’d much rather talk about [random other subject you love]”

          Good luck! You’ve got this!

          1. ConstantlyComic*

            The 12-hour shift is very much not how the job normally works (typical day is 8 hours, we get comp time for anything over) and is a result of my volunteering for scheduled things without realizing that they’re happening on the same day.

            Your mentioning of delegation helped me remember that one of the programs I’m supposed to be running on that day is a joint thing with another coworker, so I might ask if he’s willing/able to handle the day-of stuff on his own if I chip in more with prep. That’d enable me to work my normal schedule for that day.

  70. Anonymous for this question*

    Is it okay to screen calls from my boss? (This seems to be a long rant, sorry.)

    Or, more specifically, my grandboss? My boss is out on leave for a few months and grandboss has taken over as my direct supervisor. While I already knew that grandboss bugged me in a lot of nitpicky ways, I was not aware of their penchant for calling out of the blue. (I suspect grandboss did this to my boss but boss never told me about it. And no, I will not be asking boss if that was true because I will not bother boss while they’re out on leave.)

    Anyway, grandboss has definitely called me every Monday morning for the last three weeks, about things that definitely do not need Monday morning-level attention. We have a standing weekly check-in every week and a lot of these things can easily wait until the weekly check-in meeting, but grandboss seems to really like to talk things over with another person, whereas I like to read about things, think about things, and then report back. So a lot of these calls consist of grandboss asking me a question and me being like, “I dunno, I’ll have to look into that and get back to you.” (And I do, but usually through our team chat or an email.)

    This past week, for example, the question was about a new project that I had not heard anything about. I knew that’s what the question was about because grandboss had posted something about it in a group chat, but I also knew that whatever question grandboss had that was specifically for me was one I couldn’t answer at that time. So I talked to another coworker about it and by the time grandboss called me again in the afternoon I had a MUCH better idea what the project was about and actually had some answers for grandboss.

    I HATE sudden phone calls. I’m fine with it when they are totally necessary, I’m happy to answer customer calls when I get them, but the fact is that grandboss is usually asking me questions that would more quickly and easily be answered in an email or a chat. My boss would always message me before a call to ask if I had a sec before the call; in fact, this seems to be the common MO for all of my coworkers and I think it’s a nice courtesy so someone has context for the call and also isn’t suddenly thrown out of their concentration zone when they are not ready for it. Sometimes also if grandboss asks me a question in any of our many question-asking online methods (which usually happens when grandboss is working before or after office hours), the SECOND I answer the question grandboss will then call me, so I’ve taken to waiting until I’m more in the mood for a call to answer the questions since if I’m online obviously I can’t just “miss” the call.

    But anyway, I still do often “miss” (or legitimately miss) the call, just because grandboss calls me so dang often. Am I out of line to wait until I’m in more of a phonecall-taking mood before I answer?

    1. ferrina*

      I think you need to take some of the phone calls to build good will, but not all of them.

      Can you just mentally block off Monday as a time when you’ll get a phone call? I find that if I mentally assume a call is coming, I’ll be more ready when it comes in. Listen to your grandboss ramble and make sympathetic noises. Do a little bit of emotional labor to give your grandboss a good association with you, then screen the rest of the calls. You’ll usually get a lot more leeway if you can build up a little goodwill first.

      1. Anonymous for this question*

        Grandboss LOVES me (in fact, is one of those bosses who thanks me and compliments me overly much and in a manner that feels to me rather condescending but I’ve learned to tune it out) so I have a lot of goodwill with them already. So I guess what you’re saying, ferrina, is that it’s ok that I screen the calls?

        1. ferrina*

          Totally. I’m on Team Screen. I would definitely have a magical knack for stepping out for a cup of coffee at the exact time grandboss calls- isn’t that an amazing coincidence?

          1. ferrina*

            lol, I’m seeing I’m alone on Team Screen. But I stand by it!

            I’ve worked with quite a few grandbosses who had no clue how my job worked. This was especially true when their job was all about networking and building alliances and political capital so you could advocate for your vision, and my job was about executing highly detailed work that required hours of focus. It was just an incompatibility in our workstyles. Their style may have been great for their role, but it just didn’t jive with the needs of my role. And they were looking too big picture to understand how my role functioned and why I needed hours of focus time. My favorite was when they asked for a status update on the project I was trying to focus on, then spent 20 minutes chatting. By the time I figured out where I was and resumed work, that was at least 30 minutes I couldn’t work.

            It sounds like you’re responsive when you can be, and you aren’t avoiding all the calls- just decreasing the number you respond to. And it sounds like you are doing this for the sake of your job, and your grandboss’s calls are actually working against his purpose. That’s why I think it’s okay for you to quietly screen.
            Sometimes we’re protecting the grandboss from themself…..just don’t tell them that.

            1. Anonymous for this question*

              Thanks, ferrina! The folks who are not on Team Scream did mention that I probably shouldn’t burn capital with grandboss but I neglected to mention that I have a lot of capital to burn with grandboss and also that short of actually yelling at grandboss I doubt anything I did would actually burn that capital. This is more a discrepancy in communication styles I am hoping to mitigate to my own comfort level, knowing that grandboss probably doesn’t actually mind if I don’t answer the phone each and every time that they call me. (Take my word for it, they really don’t mind. I’ve never once been chastised for not answering and whenever I have apologized for it grandboss has said not to worry about it.)

    2. Rick Tq*

      IMO, Yes, you are out of line trying to screen your Grandboss’s calls during working hours. If they call on Mondays that may be a better time for your weekly check-in so you can handle things with one call instead of many. The spot calls may be because your G-boss retains information she has heard better than what she has read.

      After hours is a different case, you may be OK simply not responding until you are on the clock.

      And ‘Mood’ shouldn’t have any part of if you answer your current supervisor’s call, communicating with your manager is a key part of being a working professional.

      1. Anonymous for this question*

        I should say, I don’t screen every call, I just screen some calls when I’m in the middle of something and focusing very hard. And usually I can predict what grandboss is calling about. If grandboss were calling about a legit emergency (not something that really happens but there are occasional issues that do need to be resolved quickly), they can easily message me if I miss the call and say “We need to discuss [thing], can you give me a call when you get a sec?” It’s not like grandboss can’t get ahold of me except by calling, it’s more that grandboss prefers out and out calling someone and I definitely need a bit of a warning before a call or else it messes with my brain.

    3. lost academic*

      No, you can’t just screen your grandbosses’ calls. You can’t do that for your boss either. Hierarchically you don’t really get to insist on this and it’s not going to go over well because it’s going to be obvious that you’re doing it. People a couple levels above you are generally entitled to set the frequency and method by which they get information from you and not liking it isn’t quite enough to push back. They are going to have a LOT more on their plate and sometimes they can’t afford to wait for some input or to not follow up on an item even if it really is better addressed in an email and they need to give you a call immediately.

      Now can you try to shape this more to your liking? Sure. And it’s OK to take the call and have to get back to them (mostly, in some positions or fields it’s your job to be able to respond on the spot about certain things but you’ll get feedback about that if it’s a problem).

      Find a way to politely and kindly ASK if grandboss wouldn’t mind sending a certain question over to you in an email so you can give a better answer (don’t do this for every request) and if the behavior doesn’t change or you get a pretty negative reaction for that much, you have your answer and you should probably desist. But keep in mind they get to set the tone here.

      And since you know these calls are coming Monday mornings… I’d try and make sure you’re catching them. Appearing to not be working or dodging calls on a Monday morning will generally not serve you well at a company.

      I’m very sympathetic to the stress of the unexpected phone call, but try to reassure yourself that it’s temporary.

    4. CheeryO*

      I don’t think it’s worth burning the capital to dodge calls. If you’re at your desk, I would pick up, listen and find out what they need, and then tell them you’ll get back to them if you can’t answer the question off the top of your head.

      I totally get it, and I always groan when I see a call from my supervisor coming in, but it’s not really your place to control how your grandboss communicates with you. The most you could do is ask if they would want to put a second weekly check-in on the calendar to give you more opportunities to connect in a more structured way.

    5. allathian*

      How long is your manager going to be on leave? I take it that her way of communicating works better for you than the calls your grandboss is making?

      I would be annoyed by calls that break my concentration as well, so I get that, but unfortunately your grandboss gets to call the shots here. As long as she accepts your “I don’t know, I’ll have to get back to you on this” without getting angry with you, you’re fine. And it seems that she does, since you don’t mention her reactions. It may just be that as long as you keep following up on her requests, you’re fine not answering directly and don’t have to overthink it.

      If you’re always getting calls on Monday morning, the prudent thing to do would be to mentally prepare for them ahead of time. That way, the call won’t break your concentration so hard because you’re expecting it already.

      I think that the delay in answering IM questions until you’re ready to take a call is completely reasonable given that she always calls you anyway as soon as you do and doesn’t seem to be questioning the delays.

  71. onetofindthegiraffe*

    How do I recover from what feels like a hugely negative year-end review? I.e. how do I recover my self-confidence?

    I had my year-end review last week. I was very candid with my manager ahead of time that I’ve been operating in a state of deep anxiety for the past several months, believing that my job is at risk unless I get a hell of a lot better at a particular skill really quickly. She was shocked to hear that and reassured me that my job *wasn’t* at risk and that she didn’t want me to think that…

    …and then, in the review itself, she spent about ten minutes telling me I do a good job on four particular tasks (despite the fact that she’s decided I won’t be doing three of them from now on) and then spent the remaining 40 minutes talking about the area I need to improve, detailing how I have a poor reputation with colleagues, and then—here’s the kicker—telling me “in the spirit of honesty and transparency” that she finds me really frustrating and difficult to manage.

    The thing is, in other jobs I’ve always received glowing reviews; until now, I’ve had a sense of myself as someone who is a good worker, an asset to a team, someone with a good attitude, and bosses have given me reason to believe all this! I’m by no means perfect, and bosses have always worked with me to set reasonable professional development goals, but I’ve never been blindsided in this way. So this has really thrown me for a loop.

    I’ll be the first to admit that my boss is right that I do need to improve on the particular area she’s identified, and I’m working on it, but it’s not going to be an immediate fix: this is something like “you need to improve your communication skills,” where progress is possible but there’s no quick solution.

    In other words, I can’t just work really hard and put in some effort to rack up some wins and earn back a little confidence.

    It feels incredibly demoralizing to think that my boss sees me so negatively. But I’d like to stay with this organization for a long time.

    So how do I recover my self-confidence when I’m left feeling like I’m a) bad at my job and b) my boss may like me as a person but not as an employee, with the added bonus of knowing that c) my boss is trying to shuffle me off onto another team?

    And how do I possibly set myself up for success with the new manager of the new team, since he already knows all these things from my current manager?

    1. Ez*

      Is it possible that it’s not the right fit for you (the boss or the place itself) and you may be better served elsewhere? It sounds like you’re trying hard and not getting the support or recognition you need and have gotten in the past.

    2. ferrina*

      Wow, your boss sounds terrible. She may be nice in other ways, but she’s a terrible manager. Anyone who berates someone for 40 minutes straight is not a good manager. A good manager would have mentioned this earlier, taken action to help you course correct, and balanced feedback between positive and negative and talked about next steps. And wtf on telling you that she finds you frustrating to manage? What on earth was that supposed to do? That’s not actionable feedback!

      She’s shown such bad judgement in this that I’m already taking her words with several grains of salt. You don’t need to trust everything your boss says. I’ve had several terrible bosses who would tell me how terrible I was, then an hour later add more high-profile responsibilities to my desk (why would you give a supposedly-terrible employee more responsibility? because the employee is actually quite good and the manager is tearing them down for reasons of their own). My favorite was when my boss told me I was too irresponsible to have earned an annual bonus, then less than a week later called me to tell me she’d decided to give me a direct report (too irresponsible for a couple thousand dollars, responsible enough for management?)

      A transfer sounds like a good move. You need to get away from this boss. Stop listening to her. Don’t trust her. Think about the work you’ve done under other bosses. Listen to your own instincts. If you feel like you’ve lost touch with your instincts, therapy can help. AAM is also really help- we’ll happily give you a gut check.

      Hope you can get away soon! Good luck!

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      A manager who isn’t willing to have the hard conversations all along and instead surprises you with them during annual reviews isn’t a good manager.

      You have agency here. Do you WANT to move to this other team? Because it’s perfectly reasonable to decide that you don’t want this other job and start job searching. It’s perfectly reasonable to decide that this has left a bad taste in your mouth and job search.

      If you decide to stay, then treat it as a new job. Because it is. If this other manager is any good, they will also approach you with an open mind.

  72. skirting salary question*

    The good news post above this talks about a “skirting salary questions” in interviews. Any links to that?

  73. Former Freelancer*

    Question about formatting independent/freelance work on a resume. For most of my career, I have worked at organizations, except for a 2-year period when I went freelance / worked as an independent Llama Groomer. I am in a field where the organization you work at is as important as your title, and in some organizations I’ve had multiple job titles. My resume is formatted as:
    ORGANIZATION1 [in bold]
    Job Title [in italics]
    [relevant bullet points]

    Job Title 2 [if applicable, in italics, with bullet points]

    Job Title, etc. etc.

    For various reasons, I want to keep this general formatting — listing organization first — but don’t really have an elegant solution for how to list my freelance work. INDEPENDENT LLAMA GROOMER formatted like the other organization names seems weird, and Independent Llama Groomer formatted like a job title gets lost or could look like another job under the preceding organization.

    Any formatting advice? Thanks!

    1. colorguard*

      I’m in a similar field, and I would just say freelance or contract for the organization, then do the title and accomplishments as normal.
      Traveling Llama Groomer
      – Groomed three llamas who were finalists at the Major Llama Show
      – Contracted to groom for Llama Salon X and Quadruped Salon Y
      – Crafted social media campaign that tripled my number of clients in six months

  74. pb*

    Does anyone have advice for behavioral interviews for software engineers? I really struggle with these because even though I have 5 yoe I have not found my job technically challenging and have had very little decision-making power. I also find my job kind of boring and I’m not passionate about tech for tech’s sake so I don’t exactly remember minute technical details once I’m done with a project, which sometimes interviewers actually do ask about. So I don’t have answers to questions like “tell me about a difficult technical problem you solved” or “tell me about a time you disagreed with a decision”, which are pretty basic. I’ve tried preparing notes beforehand for answers to some questions that might be asked, but there’s always something I don’t know how to answer. Or when they try to dig a little deeper I flounder. I want a more challenging role but I can see why people hiring for one wouldn’t trust me to be able to do it when I haven’t proven that I can yet.

    Sorry if this is whiny – I just had a first call with a company I’m actually interested in but the first interview is behavioral which makes it likely I’m going to bomb it.

    1. Still*

      This is difficult to remember to do ahead of time but: take notes during projects, or at least flag some key emails about the trickier elements, so that you can look through them to jog your memory. I’m the same way, few weeks later and I can’t remember any details. I need to jot it down as I go along.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      I keep what I think of as a interviewing portfolio in my head of good responses to those standard questions. I practice them once in awhile in the shower or while painting the fence or anything else mind numbingly dull. I’ve been doing that since college when a friend won the weirdest interview question asked pool when someone asked them what animal best represents them in an engineering interview. I think most people have a mental file of good examples for interviews and aren’t coming up with them off the cuff. I hear what you’re saying about always feeling surprised by at least one question though. Maybe try reframing it as a bigger set of categories, then just decide which categories example best first the surprise question(s).

      So for the big categories, 1-2 examples each:

      1. Story that tells example of you working well in a team;

      2. Story that tells example of handling conflict (if you disagree how do you work through it just something to show your default wont be a screaming match in the conference room);

      3. Story that tells about supervision skills (high school job shadow kid all the way up to managing people, anything works – goal is to show you won’t go dictator with power);

      4. Story that tells about how independent you are at working (project you did solo, time you noticed and fix an issue before it became a bigger issue).

      5. Story that shows off your skills. (Brag basically, a cool project you did once)

      These don’t have to be anything great either, like my disagreement one is literally just “oh George and I sent each other some articles supporting our views and read them and realized that my application use only matters in XYZ so we’re fine to move forward with George’s spec and made a note that if using it in XYZ manner in future we will need to change this.” you can turn it into a bonus skill category story too, “in the future we will need to change this, so I spearheaded making a documentation guide to track similar parameters so we can more efficiently roll out new parts”. Same story also can work as independent worker example – I reviewed articles in my own and brought them to the group as a way to update the standards.

      You know when you are going to be interviewing, so keep a post it note on your desk and start collecting your stories as you work. Then type it down save it in your job hunting word doc and review it as needed. Or where ever you keep your resume files. Treat it like a task, this week I’m going to mentally turn this project into one of my example stories.

    3. Qwerty*

      What level of position are you applying for? Unfortunately years of experience is not a good metric – one year at company A can yield more experience than 3yrs at company B. Consider if you might need to apply for a lower tier position at the more challenging companies – maybe you have the equivalent of 3yrs for fast paced TeapotTech but 6yrs for slower LlamaCorp.

      Be transparent that you are leaving CurrentJob because you are seeking challenges. It helps give your answers some context, but it also helps if your interviewer/recruiter knows CurrentJob’s reputation. There are multiple companies in my area that I warn junior and mid level devs not to join because they will leave with roughly the same amount of experience as when they enter.

      To prepare for interviews, start going over your previous projects now. Practice how you would talk about them. If you forgot what frameworks or third party libraries you used, look it up for the projects that were at your current job while you still have access to the code. Do you have a friend that you reminisce with about one of the projects to revive memories of when you worked on it?

      I’m betting that you’ll start coming up with answers to these types of questions if you get some offline practice, especially if you can do it with another tech person. Or start going to tech meetups – people start talking about stuff they’ve worked on so you can get practice but in a more conversational way. Remember that the interviewers are just trying to figure out how you work – they don’t need the most difficult tech challenge, just a recent one will do and how you worked through it. Find a side project to expose yourself to something challenging. If you really have never been challenged, disagreed with decisions, or had to make even a small tech decision, then look for junior roles that will introduce to that type of environment. But I’m guessing if you dig a bit deeper you’ll realize that you make a lot of decisions about how to approach a problem or fixed a bug that was tough to find the root cause.

  75. Margali*

    Anyone have helpful hints on getting through a corporate buyout when you work in HR? I’ve been at my small (~125 people) company for over a decade, but we have recently been bought by a very large corporation. The culture shock is HUGE and frustrating. I used to get things approved by popping my head into the owner’s office and getting a thumbs up, now I need three weeks and 5 levels of signatures. We’ve been moved to a whole different resume/application review software, and it is extremely rigid and complicated. I’m not frustrated enough to leave, because there are still a lot of positives here, but the frustration and aggravation is making me have trouble sleeping and feeling like I can’t do my job with the speed, efficiency and quality that I used to be able to demonstrate.

    1. Goddess47*

      It’s a new company, so think of it like a completely new job. It many ways, that’s what it is and you’re in the kinda-normal floundering-and-figuring-it-out stage. Ask more questions, ask for training, ask for (and give) grace when you don’t do something right.

      Be patient and, hopefully, it will come to you!

      Good luck!

  76. Just need to quit*

    Has anyone ever quit a job they liked because you knew the changes the company was making were going to make your life difficult … but they hadn’t actually done so yet ?
    I work a part time job – one day a week – for a well known weightloss company. Recently they made some big changes- closing a lot of locations, eliminating a lot of member services, and announcing the acquisition of a company that provides a diabetic medication used for weightloss. I waited it out because I was sure there was a plan coming with all the changes. Today I attended a training and it’s not good. I can’t get into specifics, but what I found out really upsets me. Members will be seduced into sharing a lot of health info that will likely flag them as candidates for this medication. It feels dirty and underhanded. Of course, the change hasn’t even been rolled out to the public yet so there has been no issue to point to as my reason for leaving. I know how this operation works though and they’re leaving their front facing employees to handle all questions re: these changes and I just know that this will open things up to misinformation and trouble. I gave my resignation today, effective immediately. Part of me feels bad because I liked my coworkers and the members, but I work full time in Healthcare and honestly cannot see this ending well

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      You have integrity. Kudos, and thank you. It’s difficult to have integrity sometimes, but in the end it’s important to be able to respect yoursef.

    2. BellyButton*

      I haven’t been in that position, but I would have done the same thing. I won’t work for or do anything that goes against my morals/ethics.

      Good luck!

    3. Lady_Lessa*

      Good for you, especially since you as a front line worker (guess) would be set up for a fall, etc.

      I appreciate integrity

      Good luck in finding another part time job.

  77. Dragonfly7*

    Thinking back to the letter about wearing a ring to an interview: is it unusual that I rarely notice rings? I don’t even think to look for them and am likely on going to notice if they are large, sparkly, or an unusual color. When I was engaged, I was surprised by the number of customers who would notice and make comments about mine, both good and bad.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      I think there is a category of people looking to date others who do check for rings regularly and it becomes a bit of a reflex to notice if someone has one or not.

    2. Anon for This*

      Different people notice different things – you are not unusual, you are just you. With regard to the customers, they probably noticed the ring was new – while they might not have noticed if you had traded one ring for another, they noticed that there was a change.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      Like you, I mostly only notice if rings are large/sparkly/colorful or if I am (for some reason) looking at someone’s hands. Occasionally when I am bored during a meeting, I will look around to see who wears a ring on their left ring finger. I have only ever commented on friends’ rings (and always positive comments).

    4. Kimmy Schmidt*

      I couldn’t tell you what a single one of my coworkers’ (or friends’ honestly) rings look like. I may compliment the ring if it comes up naturally because I like shiny pretty things, but then it’s out of my head again in two minutes.

    5. lost academic*

      There’s a certain kind of person, and within that, a certain kind of male boss, who is always looking for that kind of thing.

    6. Dark Macadamia*

      It occured to me months after my sister got engaged that I should’ve asked to see the ring when I saw her in person lol. I think the only time I’ve ever noticed rings was working as a cashier I’d sometimes think unusually big and flashy ones were tacky.

  78. Watry*

    A few weeks ago I posted on an open thread that I wasn’t getting training for my new job It’s been four months now and I’m still not–I have had seven total hours. None of this is the fault of the person who is supposed to be training me. It’s a long story, but so far I’ve taken it to my boss, his boss, and sort of unintentionally his boss (who is director level). I’m getting a lot of fantastic reading done, and we have managed to move over two duties to me, but they’re monthly so not a lot of help. I am going insane, but no listing I can find is offering even comparable pay/benefits/etc and I cannot take a cut. Is there an avenue here I’m not considering?

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Oh gosh, that sounds bizarre. It sounds like you’ve done just about all that you can do.

    2. Student*

      I don’t know what kind of work you do, but in a lot of fields you don’t get formal training for the work you’re doing.

      Sometimes there is just no objectively “correct” way to do a task. There’s just you, weighing the options, making the best call you can given what you know.

      Sometimes, there’s just no training. You’re supposed to ask people, try stuff out to see what sticks, and maybe research the relevant problem/policies/etc. yourself. Sometimes this sucks, and you only learn the unwritten rules by breaking them accidentally and getting in a bit of trouble for it.

      All of the post-college jobs I’ve had come with zero training on how to do the vast majority of the job, or specific tasks on the job. When there is any “training”, it’s compliance with a very narrow policy (do not discriminate against protected classes), safety-related (here’s how to not fall off a ladder), or laughably unconnected to my actual work tasks. I spend my time trying to figure out how to make myself useful, and then doing things that get me praise from people who have the power to increase my salary

      1. Watry*

        I am actually supposed to be getting formal training, though. And I don’t even know what all my job duties are! I’m meant to be handling some specific software-related stuff, and trust me when I say I can’t risk breaking that software.

    3. Goddess47*

      You mention ‘not breaking’ the software, but is there a ‘development’ environment available that you can play with… Any reasonable software has a development or training environment that runs parallel to the ‘production’ environment… maybe you can get access to that?

      When the developers are putting new features into the software, it doesn’t go directly into the production environment. And if it does, then they’re more likely to break things than you will!

      Good luck!

  79. Prison of my own making*

    I have a bullshit job – a job where I don’t actually do anything, but somehow get paid.

    I want out. I want a job where I am contributing something, accomplishing something, learning something. I didn’t want this to be a BS job! I wanted a normal job. But I stayed too long; I thought for a while I could somehow change it. Then, frankly, I got depressed and wallowed for a long while. I’ve been here 3 years now. I have nothing to show for it.I barely know my co-workers or my boss. Networking and referrals are not going to be an option for me.

    Now that I’ve stopped trying to fix this job, I need advice about how to handle my current BS job in the context of my job search. My fear is that being honest about this job will just prevent me from moving on, but lying about this job feels wrong and may also come back to bite me.

    I need to put something in my resumes, and I’ll need to say something in interviews. I can’t just leave it off my resume; that’d be really suspicious in my field, and I’ve been here too long. How would you approach it?

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Was the job always a BS job or did you have things to do early on? In any case, if interviewers ask you questions about job accomplishments, you certainly can talk about previous jobs rather than your current one. I can’t really recall a time when an interviewer specifically asked me to comment on my current job vs. previous ones, so I think you’ll be in the clear there. Although if they ask you why you’re looking for a new job you can say you want more challenges, want to be more involved with the day-to-day operations (or whatever) and you don’t have to say a thing about how you don’t have a lot to do. Or you can say that the job was different from how you imagined it would be and you thought you’d be doing X activity that you love doing and you’re glad New Company is looking for someone who loves doing X activity.

      You don’t have to leave it off your resume just because it’s a BS job, just be prepared to explain that it’s a BS job without outright saying it’s a BS job. Good luck!

      1. Student*

        Thanks for the advice! I will definitely take your recommendations for how to handle it in my interviews.

        It wasn’t always a BS job. It’s a combo of me accidentally pissing off my boss, Kate, early in my job, which resulted in her yanking all meaningful work from me to put me in permanent job purgatory with no duties, and a department that doesn’t have a full workload for the number of staff. For a long time, I thought I could earn my way out of purgatory, but it’s very clear my boss would not trust me to make a ham sandwich at this point.

        I know how pompous I sound, but I still think the thing I did to initially piss off my boss was the right call on my part. In a nutshell, someone else got promoted for my work, I called it out, and the other person lost their promotion over it and soon switched jobs. My boss did not like this end result, and I think she took me off all our projects and stopped assigning me work because of it.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Wow, that’s terrible! Any chance you could transfer to another department where Kate has no control over you? Sounds like, though, if Kate has the kind of power where they can do this to you, that this workplace is full of bees and I highly support your move to a new place. Sorry you have been abused for sticking up for yourself.

          But for realz, tho…do you have meetings or what? Is there someone above Kate who is like, How come Prison of my own making is still working here if they’re not actually doing anything? How have you managed to fly under the radar for so long? I am impressed at the incompetence of Kate’s supervisors for not realizing what’s going on.

          Anyway, you’ll do fine, I’m sure, getting a new job if what you want is, in fact, to actually do work.

    2. Alex*

      I was sort of in this position, except I’d been there much longer! Same with “trying to fix it” etc.

      What I ended up doing was getting some skills outside of work and then finagling ways to integrate them into my work. Sort of against my boss’s will, lol. But I did it, and used that as an “accomplishment” to include on my resume. It still took a while to find exactly the right job that would be a transition out of where I was stuck, but I did eventually find it.

  80. Llama Wrangler*

    Has anyone had any luck disputing your insurance’s Reasonable&customary charge for an out of network service?

    My workplace is self-insured, and we have an in-network only plan and a plan that offers out of network coverage, which is $200/month more. My OON provider charges $300 per session (which is in line with rates in the area), and the insurance rep said the R&C charge is only $125. So that means I’d be on the hook for over $200 of the cost of each session still ($125*30% coinsurance plus $175 balance billing).
    Doesn’t seem worth if if I also have to pay $200 a month just to get this!

    1. Llama Wrangler*

      I saw some people online recommended checking out which lists a reasonable and customary charge by service code and zip (which does happen to be $300 in my case) – but I have no idea if the insurance would honor that amount.

      (In a separate comment so it doesn’t get stuck in moderation)

    2. Qwerty*

      Is it cheaper to switch to the in-network only plan and just pay the $300 per session?

      If your company is small and this provider is the only person out of network you see, you might be able to negotiate something with them through whoever at your company handles the insurance stuff. When I was at a self-insured place, the company could override the insurance reps (who are just enforcing what is in the plan). Our process involved talking to the sole HR rep who would make the case to the CEO. Usually this was done to get around insurance requirements like “must try test A and B before we authorize expense test C” when the doctor says A&B are unnecessary and a waste of money for both employee and company.

      1. HoundMom*

        Most of the carriers are paying a percentage of Medicare as their out-of-network charges; not U&C charges as in the past. This was done to comply with federal regulations a few years ago. Another great idea that Congress had no idea of the implications.

        So, it is unlikely that using a usual and customary scale outside of Medicare is going to help you in an appeal. Medicare generally rewards physician visits less than tests or procedures. If this a mental health therapist, the reimbursement will be low.

        When a company makes a change to the OOO benefits, all covered members have to be treated the same way under the same circumstances. So, if this is a therapist visit, then ALL out of network therapists visits would have to have an increased payment. Also, this may result in the company having no protection for those claims as they would be extracontractual.

        The only regular exception to this is if the provider is unique and there is not an equivalent in-network provider. In that case, the broker can often negotiate that the care is treated as in-network, even though the provider gives no discount.

  81. MsG*

    Can I ask for any perspectives from people who have moved from more established(? not sure ow to phrase that!) companies to start ups? I have moved from a very large Fortune 500 company to a company that is about 7 years old – it’s expanding and hiring and growing but there seems to be a lot of turnover, most staff have only been there about 12-18 months. Is this normal? All my previous jobs were with long established companies (not necessarily large ones, but the start-up culture is new to me.) I don’t get any other bad vibes, I am enjoying the work and the people but I’m just curious as to how others have found the move to a start-up, or things i should watch out for.

    1. J*

      It’s normal and it’s also something to watch out for. I would definitely ask for any role why the position is available. Often in the industry we have people who want to launch projects and bounce, but we also have managers with ego issues who will bounce anyone who questions their genius. I encourage LinkedIn stalking past employees to see where they are now, especially for any teams you might be joining. At 7 years old I wouldn’t expect as much turnover unless they’re 1) in a university town or 2) rapidly launching projects/products. I’d also be checking on any financials you can see (are they filing a 1-K?) to get a feeling for stability.

      I know for me, I really value a work infrastructure like a payroll management system, time entry that isn’t a spreadsheet or google form with logged PTO availability, IT infrastructure, a pleasant onboarding experience (access to a handbook is the bare minimum) and some level of training. For a new startup, I’d never expect that but for a company 7 years old I would so I ask about it at interviews. It tends to tell me too that if there’s turnover, is there at least continuity.

    2. BellyButton*

      We are seeing a lot of trends that people who are less than 7 years into their career tend to move jobs around 12-18 mo. It is no longer the days where people stay at a job for 10-20+ years. I would keep listen and see what people are saying- are they leaving because there are no opportunities for advancement or skill/knowledge development or is it more about leadership and direction of the company.

    3. gumption gone*

      I worked for a start up (before I got laid off) and my husband has worked for two different ones. Constant turnover has not been our experience. A good start-up will keep staff. However, they are growing – so, I’d say if the company had 20 employees 6 years ago, and 15 of those 20 are still there, and most of the other employees have been hired recently, that’s a good sign. If most staff only stay for a year or two, that’s weird and a bit worrying.

    4. Prospect Gone Bad*

      It’s normal and depends what you consider “good.” Personally I prefer the smaller orgs. I worked at large ones and even though the names were prestigious I was barely using my brain, while simultaneously getting warned for doing things “above” me or in other departments. It felt extremely limiting.

      At the startups, I can work at my potential and actually get praised for it. Not good if you want to wear earphones and do a routine every day though

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

    How odd is it in your office for someone to be the only person on the floor (in a multi-story building)? It doesn’t even register as odd to me to be the only person here sometimes because the department is 40% permanently remote, 50% hybrid and only 10% in-office. I’m one of the in-office always people, but I was out on vacation for a week and we have a recently new (few months) person who ended up being here alone while I was out and they seem perplexed by that — in the sense that they asked if that’s “okay” and I was like…um, sure? why not? The rest of the building has people, and there’s a security guard in the ground-floor lobby if that was a concern, but the floor is sometimes empty, especially on a Friday. Is this unheard of, or even against policy, where you work?

    1. Decidedly Me*

      It would feel weird to me, but I don’t think there is anything wrong with it. I could understand someone thinking it might not be ok- it’s empty, is this an off limits area?

    2. Angstrom*

      Former job offered “panic buttons” one could wear if working alone after hours. It was a combined office/lab/workshop environment, so more risk of injury than a typical office.

    3. Kowalski! Options!*

      Not unheard of and not against policy. The entire RTO thing at my workplace is so loosey-goosey that there have been days when I’ve been the only one working on my floor and the wing next door. (Seriously, you could host a Rolling Stones concert in the wing next door and no one would be any the wiser.) We do have security guards who patrol the area, but I can go an entire day without seeing anyone, once I sit down at my desk.

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

        Same! There have been times that I feel like I’m the only one in the building (6 floors), but I’m sure that’s not true. Now that my long-time officemate retired, it’s a very quiet floor even when mostly occupied. If it weren’t for the newish coworker, who pops in my doorway at least once a day, I’d likely go days without seeing anyone in-person.

  83. BossBride*

    Low stakes question but I’d appreciate any input from Managers who have gotten married on how to approach inviting coworkers/subordinates?

    My fiancé and I both work for the same company and I am fairly high up at my small branch. Only the owners are above me. I only have one or two people who are my peers, the rest are directly below me or in a chain below me. We’re small enough that I know each person well, know their families, and have a friendly check-in chat a few times a week.

    I am equally worried about someone feeling left out or hurt that I didn’t invite them as I am someone feeling obligated that they have to go when they don’t want to. The thought of them feeling forced to buy me a gift also makes me uncomfortable.

    Any insight? Or, anyone out there that was invited to your boss’s wedding? How did you feel about it?

    1. BellyButton*

      Alison has answered this question many times. She usually advises “all or none”


      1. BossBride*

        Thank you!

        I did try to search the archives for similar but must have missed them. I will look again.

    2. Anon for This*

      This happened to my brother in a similar situation. He is a lawyer, partner at a smallish firm. He did not plan to invite the people he worked with to the wedding – just the partners. Then one day on his way to a meeting he passed by the lunch room and overheard the secretaries talking about how much they were looking forward to the wedding, and how they were going to make a weekend of it, share a hotel room, etc. He hadn’t even considered inviting them, didn’t think they’d want to go, but he could just hear the excitement in their voices. So he felt like he had to invite them! (Which wreaked havoc with their guest list.) I will tell you, those ladies had a blast at the wedding. If there is someone at a lower level that you can trust to suss this out, I’d ask for their advice.

      1. BossBride*

        This is excellent insight! Thank you so much! It hadn’t occurred to me to try to get a ‘spy’ so to speak to get a feel for who would want to come. I’ll put some feelers out.

    3. Student*

      I think the first question is, do you and your fiance want to invite them? If no, then just don’t.

      If yes: invite them and just be honest about this stuff.

      Make a point to say, “Please do not buy me wedding gifts because I am a manager here. I’m just happy to share a special moment in my life with anyone from the office who likes attending weddings, but I want to be ethical about it. Any presents would raise business policy questions, and it would make me feel bad. A card would be very welcome instead. Please also do not feel obligated to come just because I’m a manager – I promise this is just a social invite, with no work connotations or consequences.”

      I had a manager who was super strict about ethics like this. I remember he was extremely worried about the same things when inviting me to a special event of similar importance to him. He just said, “I want to invite people, but I want to be ethical, so here’s the limits. Staying ethical is important to me, so please respect these limits.”

      1. BossBride*

        Thank you for the language, that’s very helpful!

        The only time in my life I was invited to a supervisor’s wedding no one was invited to the ceremony and everyone was invited to the reception on their own property, so no headcount needed. Not something I’ve thought about until now!

  84. Mable*

    Hi everyone! I could use some help with a mildly frustrating problem I run into sometimes when talking to my staff (we are all office dwellers). Occasionally I will ask someone to do something and they will say something along the lines of “oh well, all you have to do is x, y, and z.” I am not asking them for help doing my job, I am asking them to do a part of their job, so I never know how to respond smoothly when I hear that.

    1. BellyButton*

      Whoa! I can’t imagine anyone replying like that! I guess my response would be shocked face and “I do, plus a lot of other things! I appreciate you doing this.”

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

      I think you need to get in front of the problem, rather than respond after. If they are your staff, maybe start using a phrase like, “I’m delegating/assigning [this task] to you…” or “you need to do [this task]” to get them in that mind-set. In either case, make sure you remove any softening or questioning language like, “do me a favor” “can you…?” or “will you…?” If they push back with instructions, then respond, “I’m delegating it to you.” or “I trust you to do it.”

    3. Amalfi*

      What is your relationship to them? Since you say, “my staff,” are you their manager?

      The answer in the moment is some diplomatic variation on, “I’m asking you to do it.” or pretend there is no misunderstanding and say, “That’s great! Let me know when it’s done/get it to me by the end of today.”

      If you have private meetings with them, bring up the larger picture, “I’m noticing that sometimes [note: it might be always, but start soft] when I ask you to do create the TPS report, you answer by telling me I can just pull the data from the TPS database. When I ask for a TPS report, I’m asking you to pull the data and give me the completed TPS report. Can you start doing that?”

      If you are not their boss, none of that will go over well. If this is the case, have you spoken with your boss about how the TPS generators expect you to do it yourself?

    4. Policy Wonk*

      If they work for you, don’t ask unless no is an acceptable answer. Assign it to them. Fergus, I need you to prepare the TPS report – let me see a draft by Friday. If, on the other hand, they are co-workers, ask them when they will finish the TPS report, as you need it to incorporate into larger report. Don’t use the passive voice, or in any way hint that someone else could do it.

    5. Employee of the Bearimy*

      These are people you supervise, right? Then I would probably just say something like, “Thanks, I understand. I’m asking you to do this. When do you think you’ll have it done/Can you give it to me by [insert deadline]?”

      If it keeps happening from the same people, you’ll want to have a larger discussion about job responsibilities, though.

  85. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

    How do you answer the “tell me about yourself” interview question. I have a decent idea about what I should be talking about (talk about my job history, basically), but I’m having a hard time thinking of the right words. Anybody have some good examples I can learn from?

    1. Casey*

      I don’t think my usual spiel is perfect but I usually keep it pretty short! I think of it as trying to answer a) what’s my basic work history and b) how does that relate to my skills and interests.

      “Well, I went to school for hyperdrive physics and I’ve been working on spaceships for about five years now. My first role on the Starship Enterprise was more hands-on, but I was able to work with folks on the bridge and realized that I liked having the systems-level view of how the ship operates. I enrolled in Starfleet University’s distance learning program to get my targeting computer certification and I’m excited about this role because I think it would let me use those skills in a team-focused environment.”

    2. GythaOgden*

      It’s basically you telling them about what you’re doing right now and why you’re applying for the job. That’s all.

      My latest interview asked for something interesting about myself alongside it, so I told them what the subject of my Masters was (Eastern Europe, which is coming back into research fashion much more than it was while I was trying to get a PhD funded ten years ago :(((!).

      So it’s not a life-story, it’s a summary of where you are, what is prompting you to look elsewhere, and why you thought this job looked good. Don’t overthink — just be the sort of self you are at, say, a work drinks reception when explaining what you do and that will be ok. For me, the question came after a few minutes of introduction and chat about the weather (no sun please, we’re British) so by the time they asked it we were reasonably well-acquainted and it was in itself a warm-up question. Plus one of the interviewers was wearing a grey hoodie and looked like she was on a treadmill desk, so it helped me feel like this was a relaxed meeting rather than an interrogation. (I have to ask my mum not to try practicing interviews with me because she does everything short of shining a desk lamp into my eyes and asking me am I or have I ever been a member of the Communist Party? She’s of the old school of interviewing technique and makes the House Un-American Activites Committee look relaxed and non-committal.)

      I tend to get good feedback along those lines (well-prepared, thoughtful answers, etc, but no experience because my current job is five hours of waiting for someone to call or open the door so other people can sort them out, for which pleasure I’m paying about a quarter of my salary just getting to work every day) so I’m trying to get the actual experience through my current job rather than worry too much about interview technique on its own. I’d allegedly be bored at backstage admin because I come across as too energetic and would be good at customer service. I’m not skilled enough for patient or tenant facing CS because I don’t have enough direct experience with the general public in my job — taking someone like a patient or a tenant through the whole process of getting an issue sorted for them rather than just transferring them to someone who can help. I’m not able to get an internal admin job because I haven’t used their systems and we’ve been holding everything together with duct tape for two years because we’re not a priority centre because we’re not patient-facing and again, we just tell the maintenance guys what needs doing rather than having to buy their tools and so on.

      I’ve learned by now that I can keep on doing what I’m doing and just be enthusiastic about the job, answer the questions and relaxed about the whole thing because it’s not what I say that’s a problem, it’s what I don’t have because of the slough of despair that is business admin reception these days. It’s taken me a long time to get there though, and I don’t blame you for being nervous, but just be ‘business casual’ about things and you’ll be fine.

  86. Warrant Officer Georgiana Breakspear-Goldfinch*

    Context: higher ed.

    I went to a conference in Canada and am trying to fill out my expense report. I have receipts for meals; the receipts, obviously, are all in CAD. There’s two “expense items” options I can see that seem like they might be the right choice: “Meals: Travel International” and “Per Diem: Meals International”. If I pick the “Per Diem” option, can I just put the per diem rate from the State Dept in the amount field, one per day, and skip uploading individual receipts?

    (I know, “just ask accounts payable!” I’ve already bugged them with a lot of questions about this trip and want to not get a reputation as The Clueless Person. But I’ve never done this before and I’m trying to get it right.)

    1. KG*

      As someone who has been an accounts payable person for over 20 years, please ask. I would much rather someone ask a bunch of questions on their first report and do it correctly than guess and need me to fix it or send it back. Also, please actually follow what they tell you.

    2. introverted af*

      Definitely ask! If you need to get through everything and save up all the rest of your questions to ask at this point, that might be a good way to do it. But I strongly agree with KG that they would rather answer your questions and get you onboarded with the process than go back and forth to fix it because you didn’t ask.

    3. Formerly in HR*

      Usually these details are included either in the expense policy, or the user guide fir submitting expense claims (on paper or using what system have you). The two categories above are not interchangeable, nor can you claim both for the same day. You either can claim the fixed per diem amount set up by the employer (doesn’t require receipts, covers all meals during that day), or portions of that per diem (our company has fixed amounts for the per diem breakfast, per diem lunch etc.) if you only ate part of that day but cannot claim per diem for dinner and submit a receipt for lunch, or receipts for each and every meal that you had but not use per diem.

    4. VLookupsAreMyLife*

      Longtime Accounting person here… definitely ask, but see if you can find the Travel & Expense Policy first. My instinct is that they’ll reimburse you for the lesser of the 2 options (either itemized or per diem), but it also may depend on if your expenses are billable.

  87. Dr. Doll*

    Anyone know where I can get a “lunch kit” swag? I want to give participants in a multi-day event a branded lunch-box, spoon/fork/knife/chopsticks, water bottle, cloth napkin — and then NOT have a crapton of paper napkins and $&#^$ plastic utensils.

      1. Dr. Doll*

        If you mean, sanitized in a hot dishwasher, then no. If you mean, clean enough to eat with assuming it’s going back into their own mouth next time, then yes.

        Do you know where I can get such swag, which was my question?

        1. Ginger Cat Lady*

          If the only option is wiping them off with…..what if not a napkin…. and not a real soap and water wash, then I’m not eating off them for multiple days. Even if they are “going back into my own mouth next time”.
          Ew. Do you not wash your dishes between meals at home?

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      Three companies I like, in the midst of thousands of promotional product companies who create this kind of stuff, are: Promo Suns, Geiger, and Canary. Of these, Canary is probably the highest-end. Both Promo Suns and Geiger have a large online catalog, but an even larger selection when you email them directly and ask for suggestions.

  88. StellaBella*

    Well how would you handle this? Getting a 1.1 request with urgent red ! from a skip level boss with no agenda in it, and no reply when proposing an agenda, and only to find out that two others and no one else got the same request on a team of 9? The three of us have been having the worst time getting anything from our missing stair colleague (who is their boss, my colleague) and we think it is coming from him (he is the boss pet). I have asked my lead to sit in wth me in this and my thought is I am just going to listen and literally not say anything as this skip level has been aggressive in the past with me. None of us know what this person wants and it came at like 5pm today on a Friday. ugh.

    1. Amalfi*

      I would handle it by stressing out all weekend.

      I think asking your lead to sit in was a good idea. Good luck, I hope it’s not too painful.

    2. ferrina*

      Wow, that’s amazingly crappy. Asking the lead to join is smart, and it sounds like you’ve got a great survival tactic going in.

      I might do a rewrite of my resume so I feel less invested going in. I’ve definitely used the Bitter Revenge Job Application motivation method (fine, think you can get by without me? I’m going to get a better job and we’ll see how well you fare!)

  89. Anon today*

    Can anyone say who their company wellness program falls under? Is it typically HR?
    Ours is struggling right now and there are questions of whether it would be best to just house under HR rather than it’s current department.

    1. Somehow_I_Manage*

      One of the reasons to nest it with HR is that wellness options may be available to negotiate directly through your health care provider. Ideally, the same group negotiating your health plan can consider this to deliver the best total value for the things you want.

    2. ferrina*

      Ours falls under our benefits person. Our wellness program is run by a vendor and is part of our benefits bundle

  90. MissGirl*

    For people who were laid off, did you do the announcement post and public open to work? If so, did you find that helpful? I was laid off yesterday but I’m in final rounds of interviews. I’m debating waiting but if I get an offer, it won’t be for another ten days. I hate to lose the time if it’s helpful but don’t want to lose my ability to negotiate. I have open to work set for recruiters.

    1. ferrina*

      If you think it might be used against you, you can hold off. 10 days isn’t long to wait- it’s pretty normal not to update your status right away (I assume you’re referring to LinkedIn?)

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I didn’t change my profile to publicly open for work until I was about two months into my unemployment. Sounds like you don’t need it right now, so don’t bother.

  91. Work Travel Tips*

    I’ve been traveling a lot more for work and staying in hotels. How do you all tip housekeeping when traveling for work? If I’m leaving a few dollars for one overnight stay, I don’t have a receipt and I normally don’t carry any cash at all.

    1. Anon for This*

      I always carry some cash for this purpose, and usually tip a few dollars for each night. My employer doesn’t reimburse, so no need to worry about the receipt. Hotel maids work very hard and their pay is low, so I figure I’ll give them what I can afford.

    2. Employee of the Bearimy*

      If I’m getting GSA per diem rates, then I put in for the “incidental expenses” amount (usually a few dollars per day) and that covers it. If I’m required to show receipts for all reimbursement, then I just suck it up and accept that I’ll spend a few dollars out of pocket. I try to keep about $20 on me when traveling and the hotel can make change if needed.

    3. Amalfi*

      I plan ahead and carry cash to tip housekeeping. I have the option to just take the full per diem without receipts, so I do that and keep my eating far enough under the limit that the tip is covered. Or, I just eat it bc I make way more than the average housekeeper.

    4. Alex*

      I usually try to get some cash when I know I’m going to be staying in a hotel.

      I’ve never had it be reimbursed by my company.

    5. Decidedly Me*

      I think technically I could expense this, but I don’t bother. I tip like I would if I were on a personal trip and always make sure to carry a bit of cash for this purpose (work and personal).

    6. Educator*

      Some hotels will add it to your bill—just make sure to specify that it is for housekeeping, not anyone else. Otherwise, I have submitted a self-made receipt to my company without issue—on the back of the tip envelope, I write something like “here is $20 to thank housekeeping for their work during my stay at the Dallas Hilton Garden Inn” and take a picture of it beside the cash and upload. Your results may vary, but my finance people approve!

  92. Polaris*

    (School related)

    Does anyone have any decent resources for learning test taking strategies? ND teen struggling with multiple choice exams. Knows the material, has proven they know the material, literally cannot successfully take the exam as is. We’ve approached the school for help….but its summer and I certainly don’t want this to be dormant over the summer break!

    1. Qwerty*

      Book stores usually have a section for subject or grade-specific workbooks. Around this time of year, they’ll start doing displays to get people to buy them as a summer program. I used them until 9th grade, not sure how far up they go before it turns into SAT/ACT prep books.

      See if that section has anything on standardized testing. Or flip through the books for whichever subject they struggle with the most on multiple choice tests – you’ll probably need to get one at a lower grade than they are in to get that practice. I remember reading comprehension ones being useful on teaching me what the question wanted (especially the whole “choose the best answer” when I could make an argument for any answer).

      If your state does a standardized test, look for a prep book for that, even if it is a year or two younger/older than the teen. I remember my AP and SAT/ACT prep materials explaining when and how to make an educated guess, or about making multiple passes through the test to come back to hard questions later rather than losing momentum/confidence.

      Local librarian would probably have more up to date resources?

    2. Casey*

      Does your teen have an IEP? I think that’s where to start! ND can mean so many things and the answer will be different depending on whether the issue is “gets overwhelmingly anxious in the test environment” or “can’t answer in a linear order or keep straight what row they’re on”. It also depends if it’s a school-administered test or a standardized SAT/ACT type situation.

      1. Polaris*

        Yes. Already written in that 1.5x the time limit, modifications made to the test (i.e. on multiple choice question they should be getting a version that has 1-2 options less than the standard set of multiple choice options – and I do not know if that is what was done on the final exam), can take the test in a quiet room, can have a teacher read the questions, and a few others.

        For what its worth, The College Board (AP, SAT, PSAT, etc) have granted time accommodations throughout high school for them.

        I think a good starting point is going to make sure that the IEP is being followed with testing. It was….up until this year. This year, I cannot say with any certainty that any classes other than science did (because the teacher noted it as such in the reports, and referenced the IEP reasons why).

    3. Educator*

      Ugh, I hate that we still assess students through tests that do a better job of evaluating whether students are from a particular demographic group than how well they know the material. I hope the teen in question knows that this is a problem with the system, not a problem with them.

      As a former teacher and administrator, I would honestly recommend working on this with a specialist or the student’s teacher. A lot of the general advice in test prep books is focused on how to better game the test, and not on how to accommodate different ways of thinking. If you want to do something at home, I would recommend exploring a subject in a way that really works for the student, then thinking through some multiple choice questions in a low-pressure way that does not focus on getting the right bubble filled in quickly, but rather on the substance of the question itself. But any teacher would tell you that they need to know a lot more about how this student learns to provide high-impact coaching. You’ve done the right thing pulling in the school. Focus on making summer learning fun!