open thread – June 2-3, 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.

{ 938 comments… read them below }

  1. PTO Blues*

    My current company has very good PTO and holidays and that is one of my main reasons for staying. We got a new CEO about a year and a half ago and they have made a lot of changes, there have been layoffs, not a lot of change management support and morale is not great at the moment.
    We had an in-person retreat about a year ago where the CEO announced that we would be getting paid Fridays off for the entire summer. We were surprised, there was applause, and as summer is my team’s busy season (liken it to an Accountant at tax season busy) I was wondering how I’d be able to enjoy this new perk since my workload will not change during the summer.
    Yesterday there was an announcement (that was hidden in an email with lots of other information and links) that summer Fridays are starting and that other holidays are being taken away to accommodate them. So we have five summer Fridays and they have now taken away five other holidays we previously had off like the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, the Monday before Labor Day and a few others. The holidays they are taking away I can actually enjoy since they are not during my busy season and the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is quite a blow personally.

    They also announced that our capped holidays will be decreased, so my current cap is 37 days but they are reducing it effective immediately to 30 (I’ve been at the org almost a decade).

    Do I have any recourse? Can I push back? Is this legal? I’m so annoyed, and like I said morale was already pretty low before this.

    1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      I have no advice, but damn. I would be so pissed off if my work did that.

      1. T. Boone Pickens*

        Same. Same. Gosh I would be so chapped hearing that news. And losing 7 days on top of that?!

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Do your coworkers feel the same way? It’s stronger if a group of you reach out to management than if you do it solo. Open it as a conversation, we the employees want to talk about the reasoning for changing the paid holidays from year round to summer only, and we want to know why PTO is capped.

      1. PTO Blues*

        I would guess yes, but with the new leadership people seem really afraid. We’ve had three layoff waves with a fourth one scheduled for later this month. I think people are, rightly, afraid to speak up about things because people are let go so easily.

        There is a lot of not great stuff happening so I am job hunting but I was at least comforted knowing how much holiday and PTO I had so this just another straw being addled to the camel’s back.

        1. Hlao-roo*

          Because you’re already looking to leave, can you just …work 32 hours a week and whatever doesn’t get done, doesn’t get done? This might not work if your job is something that could have negative health/safety effects on other people if not done and it also only works if your whole team buys in (otherwise, your other teammates will be picking up that other 8 hours of work).

          1. PTO Blues*

            My work involves getting money to vulnerable populations so if I don’t work overtime during the busy season, those people will be impacted. I logically know that is not on me, but it still is hard when I have seen what has happened when we can’t keep up with our work.

    3. lost academic*

      I think it’s legal based on all the other advice we’ve seen around employers changing benefits and so on – they can’t do it retroactively but they can announce the change going forward. If the majority of other departments are slow in the summer perhaps it makes overall sense, but it’s always worth pushing back seeing if you can flex the holidays to the ones that make more sense for your workflow and personal life.

    4. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Oh wow. That’s awful.

      It’s probably totally legal but you could ask if there’s any way to exchange summer Fridays for those holidays again for the reasons you listed here (being busy season without a workload reduction and having already made plans for those holidays).

      I bet it’s the CEO’s pet idea that people are scrambling to make work somehow.

    5. Gyne*

      I’d definitely push back on the Fridays. Especially given it is your busy season, can you suggest to the powers that be that you work 4 10’s in the summer (still having Fridays off, but with the same time to complete your work) and then keep the other holidays?

      1. WellRed*

        How is that beneficial to OP? It makes more sense to take the summer Fridays at other times if the year.

        1. Gyne*

          My impression from the post was that the OP was worried about the workload in the setting of reduced hours, wanted Fridays off, but also wanted to retain the other holidays in the rest of the year. Perhaps I misunderstood!

    6. IrishEm*

      I’m sorry I have no advice but if I were in your shoes I’d be updating LinkedIn and the CV. They just reduced your overall remuneration package under the guise of good news you get to work longer hours for fewer days in the summer!

      1. PTO Blues*

        I’m actively applying and actually waiting to hear back from a job but I’m pretty sure I’m not going to get it at this point, but we’ll see.

    7. Massive Dynamic*

      Wow, I’m sorry. If I were you, I’d enjoy the hell out of the summer and then job hunt and be gone before Thanksgiving.

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

      If you are in the US it is most likely legal. There is no laws that I am aware of that say a company cannot change your PTO, as we do not have any federally mandated time off. I would try and push back with your coworkers, especially those in your department since this is going to cause issues for your department since you are so busy. This should be optional. I wonder if the CEO even knows that this is your busy time and you won’t be able to utilize the time off.

      Unfortunately you might want to consider looking elsewhere. I know it sucks but it sounds like the perks of the job are going away. You might be able to find another job that has similar benefits.

      1. PTO Blues*

        I’m actively job hunting but it’ll be really hard for me to interview during our busy season. Also, the CEO would definitely not care that it’s my busy season and I’m losing a perk, they are a bit of a Disney villain at our company.

        1. HigherEdAdminista*

          If that is the case, remember to prioritize yourself. If a good interview opportunity comes up during the busy season, don’t feel guilty for a second for taking it. They are a bad person, creating a bad situation at the company, and you need to put yourself first!

          1. Momma Bear*

            This.

            At this point, the ship is sinking. Don’t be the last rat and don’t care more about them then they do for you. Sounds to me like you have five solid Fridays for interviews now. I would also not work extra hours to make up for the mandated Fridays off. If your office is closed, it’s closed. They can figure it out.

    9. Clobberin' Time*

      I was wondering how I’d be able to enjoy this new perk since my workload will not change during the summer

      You aren’t. That’s the one weird trick. They’re taking away other paid holidays, and pretending that there’s no change because you are getting paid Fridays off – in theory. In reality what this means is that you’ll be cramming M-Th to get the same amount of work in, and/or working Fridays anyway.

      There’s a reason they buried this in an e-mail and it’s not a good one.

      As others have said, this is your cue to exit ASAP.

      1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

        OP can clarify, but I got the impression that this change specifically effects her team in this way, but not necessarily other teams. I may be misreading this, however.

        1. PTO Blues*

          I think that this is a great perk for a lot of my coworkers and I think most will be able to use it. My team, and I’m sure at least 1-2 others, are unfortunately very busy during this time due to the nature of our work.

          The smarmy part for everyone though, is that the CEO presented it like it was a “gift” or an additional perk, and literally got applause and buy-in for their leadership about this. Only to have it not actually be anything new, they are just shuffling our days off around without asking if we wanted that. The CEO has lied about a lot of things but this just really bothered me.

          1. Random Dice*

            Shuffling holidays around while also actually CUTTING holidays.

            Just so outrageous.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Seems to me this is the latest way to get employees to quit and make the next layoff faster/easier/less unemployment to pay.

    10. I should really pick a name*

      I would at least give feedback to your management that you’d prefer the other days off instead of the fridays. If no one says anything, they’ll just assume everyone loves it.

    11. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      It’s definitely legal, but I wonder if it is worth pursuing some sort of solution with your particular management chain. i.e., some kind of floating holiday/comp time situation if you/your team elects to work some of those Fridays to accommodate your workload. (Therein, for example, enabling you to take Weds before Thanksgiving as a floating holiday, if you so choose.)

      Might not be possible, but it is worth asking. I can say as someone who doesn’t typically travel for the holidays I would LOVE this tradeoff but I can see why others are not so thrilled by it!

    12. Gondorff*

      To the PTO piece alone – the legality of that depends on your state and the requirements around paying out accrued, unused PTO. If you’re in a state that requires payout, generally speaking they can’t take those days away from you. That said, they can lower the cap but not take away the days you’ve already accrued, so that you essentially don’t accrue any additional days until you drop below the cap.

    13. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      I would leave over this. Your leadership is horribly out of touch and isn’t going to get better unless they get smacked with mass resignations.

    14. LaBellaLavanderina*

      If it makes you feel better, my place of employment uses the 6-some-odd “federal” holidays as forced PTO. So, we can’t work Christmas, even if we wanted to, but we are forced to take it off AND deplete a PTO day. I say this because you cannot do much in the way of changing policy, unfortunately. But you COULD try banding together as a group. Yes, it’s legal, but crappy. Sometimes, crappy is worse than illegal.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Yeah, that’s unfortunate when any benefits change, but it’s what happens over here in the UK. Annual leave plus bank holidays are written in to our contract and laws, but for most offices the shutdown is absolute, meaning you effectively allocate 8 days per year as fixed holidays. As it happens, my office doesn’t close between Christmas and New Year, but a lot of others do and the norm is that those days count against your vacation allowance. So out of 28 days statutory, 8 of those will be fixed bank holidays that everyone has to take off (if you’re in an industry which doesn’t shut down on bank holidays you get the days elsewhere, but most if not all offices will simply be shut those days) and 3 between Christmas and New Year will be shutdown (the other 3 working days normally counted at that point are bank holidays — 25 and 26 December or replacement days if those fall at a weekend, plus New Years Day or the closest Monday). The relative cultural homogeneity here means the bulk of the public holidays are timed around Christmas, Easter and Pentecost, but we do have civil holidays like in May and August as well. Technically speaking companies don’t have to give us the bank holidays off, and for non-office workers there may be a benefit to having more flexibility with those dates.

        But we just take it for granted we’ll be off at those times and work with the remainder of the holiday as unfixed. If you turn up at the office on Good Friday to work, that’s on you, but you might find it locked, you won’t have anyone for company and you probably would still have to take it as leave, because GF has been a customary holiday in England for centuries and ain’t no-one working that day if they don’t have to. (I worked in Ireland and I was surprised that it wasn’t a bank holiday there and it is in Protestant England. But we had to take it off since the office closed, and it came out of our AL allowance. And having a BH in the middle of the week for Halloween was strange and a bit disruptive. At least St Patrick’s Day was on a Monday so I could spend it trying to get home from a trip to see friends in Poland…)

        What we make up for in generosity we lose in flexibility. Despite being seen as a bit more conservative than some European countries, we’re actually more generous in the UK than on the continent — continental countries often don’t give replacement weekdays when a public holiday falls at a weekend.

        It’s not a huge deal when you’ve been working within that system for decades, but I can see how if you were moving from a much more flexible system it would be harder. For comparison, I’m looking for a new job and if I go to the private sector I’d lose the 29 days plus BHs I have right now in the NHS and may well have to take those three days at the end of December of shutdown as part of my AL allowance. (I work them because there’s noone else at home with me these days and if I’m scheduled, then my mum can’t insist I join her on her yearly cross-country tour of relatives.) Many companies do now offer more than the minimum, and I’m looking for office work so I’d probably keep the fixed BH schedule I’m used to, but it’s just normal to have complete shutdowns at intervals throughout the year. With the general public all taking the BHs even if they have no religious persuasion at all, you’d be hard pressed to even get in if you showed up on those days, and if you started taking them away you’d have riots. (This spring we’ve rarely had a full week in office because there’s already two BHs in May — first and last Mondays, the two Easter BHs fell in mid-April, and then King Charles got crowned so we had another day off to compensate for that even though the actual ceremony was on the Saturday. Combined with us taking strategic AL, my co-receptionist and I have barely worked a full week since the beginning of April.)

        The situation sucks for OP! But companies can reconfigure whatever they need based on their needs whenever they feel like it. It sounds like someone tightening the belt in this case, and so yeah, it may well make sense to start looking around — deckchairs, Titanic, you get my drift.

  2. Starting an agency...!*

    Hi! I’m starting an equal-partnership agency with some former colleagues, trying to focus on the work that we’re really good at (and eschew some of the work-creep that happens at agencies where we have less control).

    Any other collective company owners with advice here? What did you wish you knew or wish you did when starting? Any specific thoughts on how you set up payment structure for the first year or so?

    We have a very good lawyer doing the legal structure with get-out clauses and procedures for every possible scenario, which is what I’m nervous about!

    1. Qwerty*

      Recommend having a vesting schedule on ownership shares. That way if it isn’t working out with someone, you don’t have to worry about buying out their 25% share when they’ve only been there a few months. Seen this as a problem with startups where the partnership didn’t go as planned or one partner just stopped doing work but remained a decent sized owner.

    2. Yes And*

      Negotiate your decision-making process in advance, and write it down. The collectively-run organization I used to work for nearly collapsed because nobody had clearly-delineated authority to take action on anything, and decisions depended on consensus (which became more elusive as the company grew). It matters less WHAT your decision-making process is than that one EXISTS, and that everybody understands and buys into it.

    3. MJ*

      Definitely get legal advice and put a partnership agreement in writing. Ideally, every partner should get separate legal advice.

      Decide on an exit strategy NOW while you are still on good terms. What happens if one partner wants out? Two partners? Several? How will you handle a partner stepping back if they experience trauma in their life? At what point do you throw in the towel and wind up the partnership entirely?

      Hopefully things work out beautifully and you never need to implement the plans, but by working out details now you avoid keeping things going past a reasonable stopping point. And hopefully reduce the chance that an exiting partner feels the terms are unfair, since they weren’t decided in an acrimonious situation.

      Good luck in your new venture.

      1. Starting an agency...!*

        Thank you! I’m really cognizant that we’re all in the “big things can happen” decade in our lives where kids and family-illnesses and who-knows-what are likely to pop up, we definitely need a way for people to take time for emergencies.

        1. Doc McCracken*

          If your goal is to keep yourselves focused on just your strengths, plan now for how you will handle the random tasks that come with being a business owner, because there are 100 different tasks that do require attention! These things will range from paying bills, submitting work comp audits, HR paperwork, payroll, cleaning the office, handling computer and equipment problems, deciding what equipment to buy when you need something, bookkeeping, filing, getting and hanging up your federal and state worker posters, and on and on. Some of these things can be automated easily. For instance I use a service that handles payroll, quarterly taxes, and employee onboarding docs. You will either need to decide what partner handles what or even better, hire support staff to do these tasks. (Make sure there is oversight in place! Many business owners I know have been stolen from or had their money mismanaged!) A VA can be a good way to handle support when you’re first getting started.

    4. Everdene*

      I start a new job on Monday – an internal, diagonal promotion. It’s very exciting!

      However, I have never had an internal promotion before and will be managing people who were previously peers in other departments – so.e of whom applied for this role. Any advice on how to approach this whole situation oh wise AAMers?

  3. Natalie*

    The article from Vox that was posted yesterday, about people who aren’t very busy at work, was super timely for me.
    I work in elementary education, but I’m not a teacher. When I applied and later interviewed for this position, it was for 10 months. Then the school board met and voted to make it an 11 month position. The change had been made before I signed the contract, so I was aware of it. It meant more money (yay!) and 20 fewer days of vacation (boo.)
    The problem is, nothing else has changed for this job. There are lots of tasks that I need to do, but due to timeline constraints, I can’t work on them at this time because I’m waiting on certain decisions to get made or committees to meet, etc. I’m hoping next year, we can restructure some of that stuff, because I can’t do this again next year.
    I’ve literally been making up tasks to work on because I’m so bored, and also it feels yucky and dishonest to be getting paid to just hang out in my office.
    This is day 4, and I’m already really struggling.
    On day 1, I went through my to-do list, and did all the stuff that I could, and wrote next to the rest what precisely I was waiting on. That took slightly under two hours. Ever since then, I’ve been sitting here.
    It feels unethical to just play on the internet and read Ask a Manager and listen to audiobooks on my phone. But I literally don’t have any work to do. HELP! How do people do this??
    I’m at the point where I’m thinking about reaching out to my supervisor and asking if there’s any way to get my position changed back to a 10-month position, even if it means less money. I know my husband would NOT be super supportive of that, mostly because he doesn’t understand why this is hard for me (“you’re getting paid to do nothing! That’s the dream!”) but also because I’m the main breadwinner.
    But I can’t, can’t, can’t keep doing this. I’m going completely banana-crackers here, and it’s only been one week. I have 16 days to go.
    Any ideas?
    What would you do?
    I’ve literally never had this type of problem before.

    1. Just here for the scripts*

      Look for free online training that will benefit you professionally—and maybe the organization—or you personally. Whatever your next step is, use the time to set yourself up for success down the road.

      1. Also Mimi*

        This was going to be my suggestion! You most likely can’t fill 8 hours a day with it, but at least you’ll be moving towards something at least part of the time.

    2. Jen*

      Start a side hustle during your down time? Learn a new work skill that is relevant to this or a future/adjacent position? There may be ways to keep busy that don’t make you feel as guilty!

      1. RetailEscapee*

        I do market research surveys in my downtime because my job is also feast or famine for workload

    3. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      Can you do readings/etc. that might be useful to you next year? Or plan out things that would be useful next year? Or, for the things that you can’t do because they’re waiting on committee/other people’s decisions, can you create a template(s) to make that work go faster after you get those approvals? Or hell, just go ahead and do the work that you think you’re most likely to end up with–if something else gets decided, you’re no worse off than you were, and if they do decide what you thought they would, then that’s something less you have to do. If you have any kind of repetitive work or rote work like prepping bulletin boards or anything like that, can you get parts of that handled (like going ahead and cutting out letters/shapes/etc. or checking supplies, or whatever)? It’s hard to give concrete suggestions without knowing exactly what you do, but anything you can organize now so that you won’t have to organize it next year would probably be helpful to you.

      Can you use this time to evaluate what worked and didn’t work last year, and how you might be able to do it better/faster/etc.?

    4. Jojo*

      My advice: Find learning resources, even if there are none within your job itself. They will keep you busy while equipping you better for this and future roles. Repetition helps information stick, so there is nothing wrong with re-watching (online) training video’s, re-reading books. If there’s any app functions or other skills you haven’t used in a while, refresh your knowledge/skills. It’s better than aimlessly doomscrolling and it’s a productive use of the boss’s time.

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      What would you do?

      Yeah, I’ve been in similar situations, and I’ve done this:

      I’ve literally been making up tasks to work on

      But the tasks I’ve made up to work on tend to be work-adjacent—learning new skills, teaching myself tech that could be tangentially related to what I do. Honestly, even if you just teach yourself skills that aren’t even remotely related to what you do, you’re not just being bored or wasting your time.

    6. Pyanfar*

      I know almost nothing about what your work actually entails, or what options are at your organization, however, I’ve never worked anywhere that didn’t have projects that were the “if we ever have time we are going to… (digitize the paper records/create an annual program for/inventory the archives/research the best way to/have a spring field day)” type.

      Someone there needs something and has no time to do it themselves…maybe volunteer for one of those. Since they aren’t being worked currently, they might be flexible enough to work around your current workload and provide you with a great accomplishment for the resume!

    7. tired*

      This sounds very frustrating! I sympathise – even when my current job is completely bananapants, the most comforting thing I can tell myself is “at least it’s not boring”. Since you think this might be improved by changing the timing of events for future years, I wouldn’t start by asking to just be employed less – I’d raise the issue and look for a solution for now plus work towards a longer term solution for next year, and reassess then.

      I would start by meeting your supervisor, explaining the situation, and asking them if just for this year there is other work you could do to use your time, perhaps to support the classroom teams with end of year things – that might be tedious, not your job tasks like taking down displays or filing or shredding papers, but at least you’d have something to DO whilst waiting!

      Alternatively, is there anything you could usefully learn to do better at your job? There are loads of free courses out there, and maybe there is more you can learn about doing cool stuff in Excel, or about your School’s local learning software, or maybe reading the policies that underpin education in your area might be useful so you have more contextual knowledge. It does sort of sound like busy work, but we can all benefit from learning more (and therefore both being better at our own jobs and better able to help others) and structuring a little course of study for yourself for the next few weeks would let you feel more productive in a relevant way? Reading books or listening to podcasts or whatever about your industry and profession can also be good – there are SO many professional meeting talks on line since COVID, it’s a great resource.

      Personally, one of the ways I plan ahead for quieter times (or honestly weeks when my brain is just not in on mode and I need to be productive anyway) is to keep a running list of “someday” tasks in the back of my diary – all those little things I spot and think “oh, that needs doing but it’s not urgent” – e.g. updating a manual or proceedure notes, documenting some process which I don’t do very often, improving file organisation in person or digitally, going through and scanning/shredding older documents, making templates for emails or letters I send often – as the needs of my role and rules of my organisation change, there are always useful-but-not-urgent things that I spot and can keep in case I need a useful task to do whilst waiting for other people.

    8. Iridescent Periwinkle*

      The first thing you need to do is talk to your supervisor and share that you definitely need more work. Part of the discussion could incorporate the other suggestions but I would definitely have the discussion first.

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

      Oh I so understand your pain. I work as an admin at a university and it is so slow during the summer because there just aren’t as many students who come in for our services.

      As others have said, I’d recommend looking at any type of professional development type training you could do. There are some free ones or low-cost ones out there. But as someone above said, that can only fill part of the time. Another thing you could do is read. I’m currently reading a book that is somewhat related to my work in higher education.

      I would ask your manager or others if there are any tasks that you can help with. Even making copies and putting things together for a meeting. Anything like that would be better than sitting bored out of your mind.

      Good luck!

    10. Tupac Coachella*

      In my job, there are lull periods where I’m basically getting paid to sit around and busy times where I’m working over and/or skipping lunch just to keep up. It’s not really something I can do anything about, it’s the nature of the work as opposed to inefficient processes/systems. Once you’ve worked your way through the other suggestions here like finding professional development, working ahead, and volunteering for peripheral “wouldn’t it be nice if” tasks, if your job is like mine it might be helpful to just remind yourself that it all balances out. You’re basically being paid now for the extra time you put in during the year.

      LinkedIn Learning has some nice options for the soft skills type development that applies to any field. Sometimes when you’re only searching things related to the job itself, you don’t think of things like active listening, leadership, coaching skills, etc., that might help you navigate the workplace better. A lot of it is video based, too. I find that I don’t have time for that noise when I’m busy and prefer written materials that I can skim, but when I’m bored it’s nice to let them set the pace.

    11. Ten Four*

      This sounds difficult!

      I would try to conceptualise it as “paid CPD time”. As in, Continuing Professional Development.

      Once you dig around enough online, you can find trainings that can add to your resume.

      If you’re looking for free, short sessions to start you off, I recommend going on to Eventbrite and using the search tools to find free, live online trainings or webinars about issues you’re interested in. Not all are open to everyone, but lots are.

      On a different note, if you’re relatively unsupervised can you use some time to do an online yoga or meditation class, or similar, to destress? If you have the time, I don’t see that as an indulgence – just sensible!

    12. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      Am I reading that this is your first week on the job?

      Your first few weeks are typically going to be slower, in even the most otherwise busy/fast paced places because your bosses/stakeholders/what have you are getting used to you being the person to go to, and you’re getting used to the office norms/what you can/can’t tackle independently, etc. I wouldn’t stress too much yet! If this is still the case in a month, I’d definitely be more concerned.

      1. Feral Humanist*

        No, I think they are four days into the eleventh month that was added on. So school is out but they are working through June and it’s really slow (I work in higher ed and July is like this for us). My guess is that they are not expected to work in July at all, and originally weren’t expected to work in June, but it got added onto their contract, and there is nothing to do.

    13. Lacey Burrows*

      I don’t have any advice, just commiseration! I’m also in education and this is my slow time of year. I told my husband that there’s only so much time I can spend reading Ask a Manager!

    14. kiki*

      Is there anything you can do to make the work you will have to do go faster when it does come in? Like, can you set up spreadsheets, automate things, draft documentation, etc? And since you’re still very early days, I would hesitate before making changes to the role going forward yet. You might find out later on that there was actually work you could have or should have been doing.

    15. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      I have this exact same situation. I went back to school (online) and am LOVING it.

    16. Bunny Watson*

      There is almost always documentation of policies and procedures that needs to be updated, so you could start there. Re-organizing files so that they are easier to find, both digital and paper. I am always amazed when I ask about piles and no one knows because they have been there so long that they become part of the landscape! Online learning of anything tangentially related is also an option. I would ask your manager if they have a project that they need help with, or other folks.

    17. Stretchy McGillicuddy*

      You are not a factory worker! You don’t need to “work” for 8 hours a day to be valuable. They need your expertise and they are paying you the price they think it is worth. Enjoy being valued. Show up on time and ready to work and, like others said, use the extra time to sharpen your professional skills.

      Heck, Pat Sayjak and Vanna White get paid millions to “work” a few weeks a year.

    18. Pocket Mouse*

      Aside from developing skills, are you able to work remotely during this time – keep tabs on email, and hop on the computer or even go in to the office when there is work to do? Maybe having personal tasks at home available to do when you have no work tasks to do will alleviate the boredom and make it feel more like you have this month somewhat off of work.

    19. Esprit de l'escalier*

      Something I would consider doing in your situation is to start learning a new language — maybe one spoken by families in your school system to make it work-adjacent — but I have always enjoyed learning languages even if I never get to speak them. Learning a new language sharpens up your brain in various ways, which is surely good for both you and your job in the long run.

      In any case, I wish you luck on finding a way to fill that time. Being bored 8 hours a day is not a fun time whether you’re being paid for it or not.

  4. PM options when it's on my dime*

    What do you use for personal project management when you have complicated long-term assignments? (By “personal” I mean “not company-provided”.)

    I was spoiled with intricate PM software at my last few jobs, but my new job uses…nothing. Actual PMs keep notes in OneNote and sometimes paste that into a meeting summary for the group, but there’s no company-wide system tracking our work. Most people ask for progress updates via Outlook, and everyone CCs a huge list of people into an endless e-mail chain. I’m doing my best with the provided MS Office products I have access to, but stuff is slipping through the cracks.

    In the past I’ve used LiquidPlanner, Trello, Jira, etc. I used to grumble at how detailed they were, but now I’m eating my words and desperately want them back!

    1. Jojo*

      If they are for your personal use but within the company, check policies first because they may not allow you to use whatever you choose. In a past assignment that limited me to using Microsoft’s Azure Boards, which I personally liked better than OneNote and Project, and was workable (and selectively shareable) within the constraints of what was and wasn’t allowed.
      Currently I am trying to learn everything there is to learn about Notion because so far I really like the seemingly endless possibilities of it (including project management), so that’s what I mainly use on my personal (freelance) work stuff away from clients’ devices and networks.

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

      So I recently found out that Microsoft Outlook has something called planner. It’s a lot like some other things like Asana or Trello, but it’s linked with Microsoft, so you can share it with others and I think there is a OneNote feature as well.

      1. couldhavebeenanemail*

        Was going to suggest the same, the Microsoft app Planner – works great and integrates with Outlook, OneNote, etc.

      2. Two Dog Night*

        Yeah, I use Planner in Teams. It’s not perfect, but it’s useful for tracking tasks among several people–definitely a step above plain OneNote. Unfortunately I think you have to use Power BI to get actual reports out of it, which is annoying.

      3. Quinalla*

        Yeah, planner is not bad and likely part of your company MS package – I’d start there and maybe you can get others to use it?

    3. Pivot!!!*

      I use the free version of Airtable and love love love it. I’m in a similar situation where the things I need software for don’t exist with what my company uses (Clickup).

    4. English Rose*

      I really like Trello for both personal and team work. I use ClickUp in my personal life which is excellent. If you’re using MS Office, don’t overlook Planner if it’s part of what you have. It’s surprisingly good.

    5. Somehow_I_Manage*

      Assuming you’re tracking scope, schedule, budget- you really just need to set up a good spreadsheet that aligns with the tools/data you have access to. Track your total hours, budget, and expenses, and compare it to scope progress by task. Use average hourly rate to reallocate budgets and make projections for the future.

      Google “Earned value spreadsheet” and look through some of the free options out there to see if they can help you get started.

    6. LuckyClover*

      My team started and loved using the Free Version of Airtable. Previously the team was using Trello.

    7. Hlao-roo*

      I’m not sure exactly what you’re looking for, so I’ll throw out a few things I’ve used on smaller projects that may scale up well:

      – Shared OneNotes. You can create a shared OneNote for each project, or one for your team, or any other configuration that works best. In Outlook meeting invites, there’s a “OneNote” button and if you go through there, your meeting notes for a project will be captured in the same OneNote (if you have recurring meetings set up).

      – Rolling Action Item List (RAIL) in Excel. Typically a few columns: date task is added, date task is due, description of task, owner of task, and status (not started/in process/at risk/complete).

      – Gantt charts in Microsoft Projects (if you have access) or in Excel (if not). It’s a lot more work than the automatically-created one in LiquidPlanner, so you might not put in as much detail.

    8. Unfettered scientist*

      Just adding that Microsoft has a product called lists, which is pretty similar to air table. If you have access to it, you might want to try it.

    9. lemon*

      If you need task management + a place to keep documentation + a place to get feedback/comments from teammates, I recommend Notion.

      If you just need task management, I’d recommend Airtable. It does a lot, but at it’s core, it’s basically an Excel replacement that lets you have multiple views of the same spreadsheet. So if you sometimes want to see your tasks as a filterable list, but also sometimes want it more visual (such as a Kanban board), Airtable lets you do both.

    10. Random Dice*

      I like Microsoft Teams’ kanban tool called “Tasks”. It allows for multiple people to see the status of tasks and subtasks, who’s doing what, with links to documentation, and tagging.

      It’s not project management software, but for chunking out discrete tasks and keeping everyone pointed in the same direction with one source of truth, it’s great.

  5. Ten Four*

    Any zoom interview tips? I’m doing my first zoom interview this week.
    It’ll be 30 minutes long, with a panel of 6. I am a bit nervous about how to be myself and how to make social connection without all the micro social clues that you’d get if you were in the same room as people.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Try to look at your camera sometimes not the screen, makes it feel like you are making eye contact. Hide your self video if it’s going to distract you.

      Test out all your equipment calling a friend on zoom before the interview. If you don’t have a friend you can audio record your screen using ShareX (free) then playback, make sure your mic is working.

      1. Owen*

        One thousand percent support dry running the setup with a friend. Does the connection hiccup? How is the lighting? Should you remove things from the background that distract a viewer? What’s the camera angle like? Etc

      2. T. Boone Pickens*

        Yep, great advice here. Make sure all your equipment is up and running, your lighting is good and you have a neutral background (or just use the background blur feature).

        Given that this is a panel interview, expect some folks talking over each other and some awkward pauses while the panel plays hot potato determining whose turn it is to talk.

        Good luck!

      3. HE Admin*

        The trick of putting googly eyes on either side of the camera for helping to maintain eye contact really works!

        1. tired*

          Since I need to shut my laptop sometimes (& ruined a past screen by having something on the laptop when I shut it) I don’t stick anything near the web camera (built in) – so I have a small stuffed animal who sits on a bookshelf just above the camera, chosen for his beady-eyed stare, and that works well too at ensuring I look at the camera – Cedric the Lizard is becoming very well educated on my specialisms as I’ve recorded a lot of talks and been in a lot of meetings with his aid over the last couple of years!

      4. Anonymous Educator*

        I don’t know if anyone else does this, but I scrunch the application window up to the top of the screen, so it’s as close to the webcam part of the laptop as possible. That way, when I’m looking at the thumbnail of the person talking, it looks as if I’m looking at them instead of above them.

        1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

          I do this too!
          When I’m giving a presentation, my notes go up near the camera too.

    2. Atlantic Toast Conference*

      Put your laptop on a stack of books! I find it’s easier to maintain “eye contact” if my screen is close to eye level– plus, I look better on camera if I’m looking straight ahead and not down.

      1. Zoom camera*

        Second that. More flattering camera angle. The worst angle is the camera below viewing your chin and nostrils.

        1. English Rose*

          Third that! And if by chance you wear glasses, get the camera at an angle so you don’t get light reflection off them.

    3. cleo*

      Besides testing all of my equipment and making sure that my background isn’t distracting, I like to make sure that I have everything I need set up ahead of time – I want to have easy access to the job description and my resume and cover letter, either as print outs or pulled up on my computer. Ditto for having a professional looking water glass, my list of questions and any note taking implements. I may also print out or call up a write up of my answer for “tell us about yourself” and any other notes that I feel like they might be useful. I don’t usually need them, but I find it calming to know that I have them to refer to if I get stuck. I also usually put a sticky note up that says something like “smile, you’ve got this.”

      Right before the zoom call, I take a couple minutes to remember a previous interview (or presentation) that went well, so I can bring that confident energy into the interview (I try to do this for in-person interviews too but something about zoom makes it really easy to do it).

    4. Tupac Coachella*

      If you’re a hand talker, consciously position your hands in the bottom of the frame. It might feel a little odd, but it gives a more complete interaction experience. My camera is about at eye level and my hands are usually active but fairly low, so for me that means lifting them slightly higher than I normally would. If your hands are going below camera and they can’t see it, you’ll only look half as expressive as you intend to be. If you’re normally a BIG hand talker with lots of movement near your face, keeping them low in the frame allows you to still be you without being distracting.

      1. feline outerwear catalog*

        One thing that surprised me going through this recently was the silence. I’m happy people know how to mute themselves but if you’re talking you a group the silence can be deafening. I had to give a short presentation and it felt like I was talking to myself. Some people were off camera. I appreciated not forcing people to have them on but it gave me fewer facial reactions for responses.

        I think it would have been less awkward if I was prepared for that. Also pause a little more than usual between responses to avoid sounding like you’re talking over people if there is internet lag on the call.

        Good luck!

    5. RedinSC*

      The one thing I noticed when I watched recordings of me was that I moved, A LOT, just wiggling around in my seat. It was really distracting when watching back. So, my advice is to sit still, don’t fidget, if you can.

      I’d make a little recording of myself first, just to see how I look, react on zoom.

  6. DisneyChannelThis*

    What are the unwritten rules of microwave use at work?

    Someone at work commented my microwaved lunch smelled bad. It was plain mashed potatoes, the instant kind, you add water then microwave, much faster than doing a whole potato. Pretty much the blandest food ever. Should I stop making that my lunch?

      1. lost academic*

        This.

        On top of that, don’t microwave something that will definitely splatter, clean up any messes you create (don’t forget to check the inside top and sides of the microwave, not just the rotating plate), don’t leave your food sitting in the microwave unattended. Know your office – some places popcorn is fine but the odor is very pervasive and people often feel strongly about it in both directions, plus it’s very easy to burn and that is a very sticky smell.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Ugh yes people at my office don’t always clean up after themselves and the microwave gets gross fast. Not a fan.

      2. Clisby*

        That’s not obvious to everyone – I had no idea some people hate the smell of microwaving fish until I saw numerous comments to that effect on AAM.

    1. londonedit*

      A lot of people don’t like the smell of microwaved broccoli/cauliflower etc, so maybe avoid those as well as the obvious fish, but potatoes should be absolutely fine!

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        Because I am weird, I CANNOT stand the odor of microwaved popcorn, but I would never comment about it either.

        1. Mobius 1*

          Ever since I read somewhere that cheetah pee (or maybe it was leopard?) supposedly smelled like buttered popcorn, I’ve never been the same.

        2. Justme, The OG*

          SAME. I made popcorn daily for four summers at my first job and hate how it smells. But I’m not telling my coworkers to stop making it.

    2. Mockingjay*

      I don’t think it was the potatoes. Office microwaves are rarely cleaned thoroughly; each time you heat something the residue of other meals wafts out. Even if the interior is cleaned, you can still have build-up in the vent.

    3. theletter*

      it’s more likely they were smelling something other than the mashed potatoes – maybe the microwave needs to be cleaned?

    4. KR*

      I think you’re fine – there’s a possibility it was something someone heated up prior to you that was causing the microwave to be a little stinky. I can’t imagine how mashed potatoes would stink.

    5. beep beep*

      I will be honest, most instant potatoes do smell terrible to me, but I’d never say anything about it. As long as the microwave is getting cleaned regularly and aired out, it’s not like most smells linger.

      If you feel like changing things up for a coworker’s request, then it might be a kindness, but I wouldn’t call it a necessity in life.

    6. The Shenanigans*

      That’s the most inoffensive thing I can think of, so I’d say you’re find and your coworker is just weird.

    7. ScruffyInternHerder*

      I’d add in “don’t bring a frozen microwave meal that requires 7-8 minutes of microwave use” if you have one microwave in your kitchen at work.

      Long ago, we had a frequent offender do this. It SUCKS when there’s a single microwave and you’re spending half your lunch break waiting for the microwave.

  7. Dovasary Balitang*

    For the next month and a half, my train ride to work will be about 20 minutes longer due to track maintenance; and my door-to-door commute is already an hour each way. Additionally, people keep stabbing each other on local buses to the point where ridership is being affected. Is this enough to ask for more flexible WFH arrangements? Managers, what would you say to your employee if they brought this to you?

    1. Policy Wonk*

      I made allowances for my employees in a similar situation – they didn’t get full WFH, but were allowed a couple of extra days per week. I do not know your particular circumstance, but in my case there is a real need for in-office presence. I made it clear to my employees who were effected that their colleagues would be picking up the slack on in-office work while they were not there, and they should not expect the expanded WFH flexibility to be made permanent when the track work is done.

    2. lost academic*

      Are you in a locale where public transportation is the norm and the expectation to the point where it would be somewhat unusual if you took a personal vehicle (e.g. NYC)? Does your employer provide any commute support options (parking lot, parking passes, subsidized transit, etc etc etc)? Those will help you know what the expectation is and what might come across immediately as reasonable or too much. If you were in a place like NYC, it would generally be prohibitive to travel in another way and I’d expect a reasonable response from an employer – they might not want to clear a more permanent WFH situation, everyone’s different, but the question wouldn’t feel out of place. A different location where mass transit is available but not the norm, I think it’s going to come across as higher maintenance and you might need to do more explaining as to why other transit options don’t work for you.

      1. Dovasary Balitang*

        It isn’t that they I don’t work for me – I do take the bus as well as the train! So now, in addition to having a not-zero risk of being stabbed, I’m losing the convenient part of my commute; track maintenance could also mean that the train just won’t go to my station and I have to figure it out.

    3. Gyne*

      Really hard to answer without knowing the specifics of your job. Are you already working from home a fair amount? Your manager might counteroffer shifting your core hours if you are currently taking the train during peak transport times. I think it’s a reasonable request but I’d approach it with at least two solutions in hand already.

      1. Dovasary Balitang*

        People do it. We’re equipped for it. It’s just not the preferred way my skip-level likes to operate.

    4. Qwerty*

      Track mainenance – Focus on the 20min increase and that it is temporary for 6weeks. Should be pretty easy to reduce your in-office days on a *temporary* basis. Avoid talking about the hour long part because it could sound like you are using this temp issues as a door to permanent changes which is a bigger conversation

      Stabbings – Well that is alarming! I think that might be a good idea to bring as broader company issue because it is anyone using public transit, not just your personal needs. Might be most effective to bring this up in a later conversation as its own issue or as a group with coworkers.

      1. AnotherLibrarian*

        Yes, this one I would start with. Generally, I consider “getting to work” to be something the employees needs to sort out themselves; however, I am happy to be flexible for short term issues like cars challenges or other travel problems. So, I’d focus on the track maintenance issue.

    5. Zap R.*

      I get the sense we are in the same major North American city and I wish I had a better response than “OMG SAME.” It’s so aggravating. My advice is to team up with other coworkers who take the same train route and ask for temporary WHF accommodations together.

      1. Dovasary Balitang*

        Solidarity! For the most part, I really appreciate our area’s accessible transit; I wish $Transit Company had given us more than two business days’ notice regarding a long stretch of track maintenance.

    6. Momma Bear*

      Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I’d ask for flexibility since it’s (supposed to be) a defined timeframe. If you can’t get a full WFH day, what about being able to WFH part of the day so you can avoid a rush in the morning but still put in face time?

  8. That's for stealing my cookie aka Roger Smith*

    When I was laid off last month, only two “current” coworkers messaged me, and another liked my LinkedIn post about looking for new work. Well, I’m excited to say I start a new gig on Monday! I was actually laid off several years ago too, and there were several coworkers from that company who I didn’t hear from when I was laid off and the couple months afterward. But as soon as I had posted I started a new job, those coworkers I never heard from, messaged me to say congratulations. And these were people I worked closely with. It didn’t bother me then, but I have a feeling it will happen again, where as soon as I post I started something new, I’ll hear from those coworkers (of the company I was laid-off from), when I wish I would have also heard from them sooner.

    I know this is petty, but I’m bothered that I don’t hear from coworkers after I’ve been laid-off but I hear from them as soon as I actually have a job. Does anyone also feel this way? How should I respond to them, if at all?

    1. Irish Teacher*

      I’m guessing they weren’t sure what to say to you when you were laid off – do they offer sympathy? Ignore it? Is it OK to talk about work or would it upset you? – but now they have something obvious they can say to you, so it’s easier.

      That’s not to say I think you are being petty or unreasonable. I can well see how it could be annoying and seem unsupportive on their part, but I do think the most likely explanation is their simply not knowing what to say or not knowing whether or not you would want to hear from them.

      I’d be inclined to just reply as you normally would to a message of congratulations. “Thanks. Looking forward to starting” sort of thing.

    2. lost academic*

      I wouldn’t read as much into it – I think LinkedIn might prioritize people starting new positions in a feed and notifications so it’s just getting a wider spread. I wouldn’t at all think that people made a deliberate decision not to contact you at the layoff but wait for the new position announcement.

    3. Jess R.*

      I know if I were in their place, I wouldn’t reach out because it would feel like I was rubbing it in that I still had a job and my laid-off coworker no longer did. When you announce a new job, though, they have something concrete to say *and* are no longer worried about salt in the wound so much. That doesn’t mean you can’t feel the way you feel, especially if you were close to them. I’m wondering what you might have wanted to hear from them: sympathy for being laid off? leads to new jobs? conversation unrelated to work? None of these are bad or wrong answers, but they’re worth considering as you explore these feelings.

      In the meantime, though, I would respond with something simple — “Thanks! I’m excited to work on X more.” or even just “Thanks!”

    4. Colette*

      You feel how you feel, but I don’t think they did anything wrong. It’s hard to know what to do when a coworker loses their job, and whether contacting them will make them feel better of worse. Some people want the support, others don’t want to hear from anyone from the old place ever again.

    5. Josame*

      I was part of a ‘reduction in force’ at old job. Those of us being reduced had to work 3 months before the end date. So many coworkers avoided talking to all of the ‘reduced’. My last week there, one coworker told me she avoided me because she felt bad for me and didn’t know what to say. I can understand that, but it didn’t make it hurt any less.
      I like Irish Teacher’s “thanks” response.

    6. fish for today*

      I was laid off last month too. I had worked there for a decade. I was surprised and a bit sad by how few people reached out to me. I haven’t got a new job yet (congrats to you!), but I expect not many people will reach out if I do manage to land another job.

    7. I should really pick a name*

      I think that based on your past experience, you shouldn’t have any particular expectations from your coworkers.

      Work relationships are really weird. You spend more time with your coworkers than you do with your friends, but that doesn’t mean you’re actually close to them.

      One thing to consider: if you use LinkedIn, your former coworkers might actually be getting a message from LinkedIn saying “Congratulate Roger Smith on their new job!” and that what prompts a message, while there was nothing prompting a message when you were laid off.

    8. Momma Bear*

      I don’t know about every layoff but sometimes it’s weird. We didn’t get a master list (and TPTB said we would not) so even though you might work with someone, you might not realize they were gone right away and then it becomes awkward when you find out weeks later. I’d just accept the well-wishes and not hold the silence against them. Good luck on the new role!

    9. Random Dice*

      Sometimes I’m really behind on finding out about layoffs.

      If they knew… Some people are really bad about freezing up around bad news. Obviously it’s not the same, but I remember a coworker whose son died and many of his coworkers just ignored it and interacted with him normally. I think of that when I’m feeling awkward – my imperfect “I’m sorry that happened” is better than silence.

  9. Recruiting question*

    Question about recruiters! I work in a somewhat niche field and am working with search firms for the first time in my career. I applied to one job that I’m in the interview process for, but am pretty sure I won’t get. I saw another job that seems like a great (maybe better?) fit, and the search is being handled by the same firm. When I applied and let them know I was applying, they said that they have a policy of only considering candidates for one search at a time, and they won’t consider candidates who work for their clients (the first job is internal). Is this typical?

    1. lost academic*

      It doesn’t sound particularly unusual…. especially the last. You can’t effectively have a lot of clients as a recruiter if they’re worried you’re going to poach their existing staff. The one search at a time seems less common but suggests strongly the firm is about filling openings for their clients and not about finding YOU the best job out there.

      1. Recruiting question*

        Thanks! I guess this is the bummer part of working in a niche field–this firm consults with most of the peer institutions in town, so it sounds like I might be SOL when it comes to finding my next job, since all the institutions use a recruiter at this level!

    2. RedinSC*

      If it’s niche is there anyway to get around the recruiter and send resume to someone you might know at the business? Are there any networking events where folks gather that you could go to and let people know you might be interested?

      Good luck!

  10. Burt Macklin*

    For those of you who have moved for a better job opportunity, how did you get your spouse onboard? I have a job offer that would get me out of my stressful field (teaching), comes with nearly double the salary, and would cover relocation costs including a substantial contribution to a new house. However, it’s about 100 miles away from where we live now, which is down the street from her parents. It would be much closer to my family, and all of my kid’s cousins live in the new location, but our kids are very close with her parents. She’s also concerned about making new friends and finding new activities. She is a full time stay at home parent. Also, I would be working year round instead of having summers off, longer hours, and a longer (but I think manageable) commute. I’m all in but she doesn’t want to go, and I only have a couple weeks to make the decision.

    1. ThatGirl*

      I dunno, man, this is a marriage issue and not a job issue. Why doesn’t she want to go? You should go into a discussion with her trying to understand *her* point of view, and not just change her mind.

      1. Anecdata*

        This is a lot for you and your spouse to figure out in just a few weeks! Maybe let this opportunity go, and start from scratch having a conversation about what /both/ of you want from any next steps as a family.

    2. Anastia Beaverhousen*

      The problem may be is that you are only considering your needs. Talk and listen to her about what she is worried about, what does she need to be more comfortable with moving?

      1. Kittyfish76*

        That could be taken both ways. She is only considering her needs….
        Just a thought.

        1. cabbagepants*

          it sounds like the wife is considering the needs of herself, their children, and her parents. it sounds like op is only considering their own.

          Jobs are great and stuff but relationships are not replacable.

          1. Burt Macklin*

            I believe this would be better for my kids. The schools are better, they would get to see my cousins and their paternal grandparents every week, and it is a safer area for my oldest.

            1. I should really pick a name*

              You believe it would be better. Does she?
              You know what your perspective is. You need to learn what hers is and give it real consideration.

              Remember that you might see some things as benefits that she sees as downsides.
              If you’re coming at this from a perspective of “This is the right decision and I need to convince you”, then I think it’s harder to have a productive discussion.

              Think of it more as “This opportunity is available and I’d really like to take it, let’s discuss if it could work for us.”

              1. Burt Macklin*

                My point was only that I am considering other people’s needs, not that I am definitely right. Obviously I think I am or it wouldn’t be an issue, I would just turn down the job, but I acknowledge that it’s possible I’m not.

                1. I should really pick a name*

                  You’re considering other people’s needs, but your spouse could be considering other people’s needs to0 and coming to a different answer.

                  I think a lot of commenters (myself included) are responding to the fact that you framed this as “how do I convince her” as opposed to “how do we find a solution”.
                  That could very possibly be coming through in discussions with your spouse and make it feel like more of a “you vs her” situation as opposed to a collaborative discussion.

                2. M2*

                  Can you go away for a long weekend and check it out? Have events with family members, attend some open houses, see events, etc? Moving can be stressful especially with kids. As a SAHM can you also look for child care to help if you are working more hours? Will childcare costs outweigh the new salary? What about camps in the summer, etc? I think if you are working more hours and can’t be as involved come up with actual concrete solutions to bring to her (and not all that your parente or family will help). You do the research or ask her to be involved with you – ask the cousins, etc.

      2. RagingADHD*

        Doubling the salary of a single-income household is not just meeting one person’s needs

        1. dwreid*

          That’s a great point. Also 100 miles isn’t terribly far to visit on weekends. And the mental health of OP hopefully having a less stressful job.

    3. Chidi has a stomach ache*

      Just some additional questions to think about from your wife’s concerns: if her parents currently help her with childcare at all, is your family able/willing to step in if she loses those supports? (Even stay-at-home parents need help/respite, especially if your kids are young! That could also be related to her wanting you to have summers off.) Or, conversely, is she concerned about her parents needing help as they get older? Can you have a conversation to better understand why she wants to stay close to her parents?

      Also, has she been to the place you’re moving to? Not just to see your family members, but to the likely neighborhoods you would be looking at moving into. It’s really common to make visits with partners when considering a major relocation like this.

      1. Burt Macklin*

        I really like the visits idea, thank you. I will talk to her about that. Her parents do help her with childcare, which I think is the big sticking point. The new job would let us afford to hire someone to do that, but I get that that’s not the same as having grandparents on call.

        1. HigherEdAdminista*

          Not to mention… what is her relationship like with your family? You may be thinking the kids will do great with their cousins, but sometimes in-law relationships can be tense. Have your siblings/cousins/whomever communicated and spent enjoyable time with her in the past? Has she ever brought up or have you witnessed people excluding/snarking at her? If your parents are involved, is the relationship good or difficult?

          A friend of mine was eager to move her family closer to her family of origin, but she had blinders on about how they were treating her partner. Once she started paying attention, she noticed a lot of critical comments, passive aggression, and exclusion (much of it subtle) being directed their way. She only saw the positives of her family because she was used to their behavior, but for her partner, it was just a tense, lonely experience to be around them.

          I definitely understand wanting out of education; many people want that right now. But it is valid for her to be concerned about missing out on her parents and friends, especially if she doesn’t have any strong connection with your family.

          1. Burt Macklin*

            She gets along very well with my mom, sister, and sisters-in-law. She isn’t a big fan of my dad (I get why, he can be a bit socially clueless, but he’s not mean, angry, etc), and generally likes my brothers but isn’t close with them. The kids have always had fun together when we get them in the same place (normal squabbling for their ages, but generally positive fun experiences).

            Her parents and siblings mostly ignore me and do their own thing when they’re together. There are no cousins on that side and her siblings all live multiple states away.

            1. Rainy*

              Is it possible she’s partially worried that she will be leaving her aging parents with no family nearby if you move?

              1. Burt Macklin*

                That’s possible, I should talk to her about that. Her parents are significantly younger and healthier than mine, so it’s not something I thought about. Thank you for pointing it out.

          2. But Not the Hippopotamus*

            This. I have some cousins that I Can. Not. Stand. So also consider what it would actually be like for your kids, not what you want it to be like or it would ideally be.

            Also, consider that SAHMs can find it difficult to build a social network, particularly when the kids are young. Once they are older, it can be hard to break in to parent networks at school if, say, your eldest is in a class of mostly younger students and most of the parents met year ago. Same applies to families that move in when the kids are older. These are real quality of life things for a SAHM.

            Lastly, when the kids were older, did she have ideas of what she would do with her time? is the new area conductive to that?

            I think there’s tons of room for conversations here.

        2. purple socks*

          you said: The new job would let us afford to hire someone to do that, but I get that that’s not the same as having grandparents on call.

          And, you’re leaving it up to her to manage the new employee/childcare? That seems like extra work for your spouse. How are you helping/mitigating that work? Probably calling her parents doesn’t feel like employee management from your spouse’s point of view. So: you’re trying to move her away from a support network, giving her extra work (childcare management), and you yourself will be less available. If your family is ok on your current salary, there seems to be no advantage to her to move. I’d suggest the two of you sitting down and setting priorities as a family. Eg, you feel that money is a concern, can your spouse get a job in the current location? If you’re looking for better opportunities, how can that figure in?

          1. Burt Macklin*

            I can manage some aspects of those things (hiring, payment, communication, etc) that don’t require a physical presence (e.g., I wouldn’t be available to pick the kid up from daycare). We are not okay, long term, on my current salary, which does not have much room to grow. She has made it clear that she is not interested in getting a job.

            1. Jobbyjob*

              This feels like it changes things for me a bit. If you want her to work and she’s unilaterally said no then I think you have more leeway to make a career decision that is less preferred by her as well. If you have been saddled with all the financial responsibility, your ability to do that is also more of your decision.

            2. Malarkey01*

              I am a woman and have been a SAHM for some period. It absolutely is a job, it absolutely adds value to the family, it absolutely should be respected. The reality though is it does not pay the rent or buy the food. My advice is that if a family wants the luxury of having a SAHP (and it’s a luxury MANY parents cannot afford), then the one job does need to take some significant precedence.

              Definitely talk and listen, make lists, but you’re also talking 100 miles (90 minutes) and not a coast to coast move. The benefit of her staying home does come at a cost of needing money.

        3. Lynn Whitehat*

          I raised my boys without any family support. Paid help is not the same thing at *all*. They’re hard to find and pretty limited in what they’re willing to do. This would be a big downside of moving.

        4. goddessoftransitory*

          How long does your wife need her parents’ assistance? And for what level of care?

          I ask because staying might not be the best solution for child care depending how much longer her parents want to/are physically able to provide it. As they get older they may want to travel, or health issues might limit what they can do.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      I think that’s something you all just need to work out. One time I had to leave my job and take a job across the country because my spouse was going to grad school there. I just prioritized her career, and there wasn’t a huge discussion about it.

      But if you two are at odds, you really need to pros-and-cons this.

    5. Whomst*

      Weighted pros and cons lists, as well as brainstorming ways to mitigate cons. I always prefer to have plenty of independent thinking time, so I’d prefer to have the conversation broken into chunks – that way nothing gets too heated or intense, nor do I find myself persuaded by rhetoric in the moment, so I wouldn’t expect to have one or two conversations and have the decision made. Give plenty of time to the decision making and make sure she feels like her concerns are really understood and considered at an equal level as yours. Most people hate feeling forced or guilted into a decision, so both of you should try and figure out something where it doesn’t feel like you’re making this major one-sided sacrifice for the other where you’re not getting any benefit.

      Here’s an example of some compromise that could be made: Your wife wants to continue to have a close relationship and spend time with her family. You can still move, but you’ll need to make sure that you set aside the time and funds to visit regularly and follow through with that.

      My husband is a flight instructor, with goals of flying for the airlines. We haven’t moved for his job yet, but we’ve had plenty of conversations about the inevitable moves. Making such a big decision on a short timeline is going to be harder, but the principles are the same.

      1. Box of Kittens*

        My husband is about to embark on the journey of getting his pilot’s license and we have also had these discussions, even though a potential move is likely years in the future. I feel like we’re pretty aligned in what we want, and don’t have kids, which is obviously a huge help bc we don’t have to factor that in.

        But I think it’s really important to be aligned on what the main priorities are, what your goals are as individuals and as a couple, and what your absolute no’s are. I also have things I want my husband to remain open to, that aren’t necessarily his (or my) first choice (like staying at his corporate job until he gets his commercial license rather than going part time after he gets his private license) bc career changes/moves are risky, and he has similar things for me. I think one of the most helpful conversations we’ve had and continue to have is career goals – where we are and where we want to go, and why.

        I hope you update us on this, OP!

      2. Wheezyweasel*

        My logical brain seconds the idea of weighted pros and cons – there are several good ones with a web search for ‘vendor weighted scorecard’ and you can replace the feature set with your own data. Work on them separately and compare scores. Your wife may put ‘having mom and dad help with childcare’ as a 5x multiplier. You might put ‘salary increase over 5 years lets us buy a house outright’ as a 5x multiplier. Could also have a neutral party help with the scoring.

        My emotional brain could say that this is a matter of comfort and convenience vs. unknown and change. It could be that your wife is day-by-day managing to the best of her ability, and longer term issues like more financial security as a tradeoff for the unknowns of moving is taking a lot of bandwidth to consider. Or an unconscious emotional reaction of ‘why is husband pushing so hard on this? I’m not feeling considered so I’ll just shut it down and hope it goes away’.

        Also consider how your wife typically makes decisions, or ask her to talk to you more about her preferences in how she considers decisions. In my marriage, I frequently laid out huge plans to my wife, covering every contingency I could imagine, and got mad when she interrupted. It turns out that she likes to consider things one at a time and my having an answer to all her questions was irritating. She also didn’t like to game-plan for things that weren’t immediately possible. I did end up getting a job offer in another state before she was agreeable to having the conversation about it. It made no sense in my mind, but it was how she processed things. She gave up a bit -needing to make a quick decision on whether we were moving or not- and I gave up a bit by going through with the interview process, knowing that I might not take the job at the end of it.

    6. Colette*

      It sounds like you’re thinking “more money, better career, we’ll still be close to family” – but you’re asking her to move away from her entire support system and, since she doesn’t work outside the house, it’ll be a challenge for her to build a new one. (It would be a challenge even if she did work outside the house, for the record.)

      So you get more money and a new field, and she gets the hassle of organizing the move to a place where she has no friends, the kids have no activities, and she will be on her own with the kids for longer each day and all summer.

      What’s in it for her?

      What can you do to mititgate the impact on her?

      Are there similar jobs where you live now?

      1. Sunshine*

        I agree with thinking about the “what’s in it for her?” angle. It sounds like this is genuinely a great opportunity, but your wife needs to give up quite a lot to make it happen. At the same time, you probably feel like currently you’re the one having to do all the compromising – living far from your family and working a job you dislike for a lower salary. It’s a tough situation.

      2. Burt Macklin*

        From my point of view, what’s in it for her is that we could use the more money to take a lot of household tasks off her plate, the new location is much more populous and has more activities available, and is also significantly more LGBT friendly than our current area, which is relevant for at least one of our children. And her best friend from college lives in the new area (they visit each other several times a year now).

        I wouldn’t have to start right away, so I would definitely be doing a large share of the moving organization and execution. There are not similar jobs where we live now.

        1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

          Those are definite bonuses!

          It sounds like this is a situation where it’s a BIG change for her, and while there are a lot of upsides for a lot of reasons, it’s still a lot to swallow. You said the kids have cousins nearby – might be good for her to have a candid discussion with her inlaws (who I realize may have skin in the game, but if they can be trusted to stay unbiased, this might help ease her concerns).

        2. Colette*

          I’m not sure that the money in this situation will make up for the additional time she’ll be solo-parenting the children.

          Are the household tasks that would be taken off her plate things she wants to give up? How will she get time to herself since you’ll be working/commuting more?

          I think you need to have a discussion with her about what her specific concerns are, and evaluate them together to see if there is a resolution.

          1. Burt Macklin*

            The household tasks are things she hates so much she frequently just doesn’t do them for weeks at a time.

            Two of the kids are school age, and I would be happy for us to budget for however much daycare she wants for the younger child so she could have time to herself.

            1. N*

              If she’s just not doing them, she doesn’t care if they get done. Having more money to pay someone else isn’t going to be an incentive to her. Has she explicitly said no, or that she does not want to move?

              1. Burt Macklin*

                Ok, but they are things that have to be done (e.g., the kid’s laundry) and there’s no more room on my plate. I already took over a lot of tasks because she just…stopped doing them.

                She has explicitly said she does not want to move, but is willing to continue talking about it.

                1. goddessoftransitory*

                  From everything you’ve been saying, it sounds like she just kinda wants to freeze things in place. Not move, not change up childcare, not take on more tasks, just…keep going in this one straight line, without considering things like how this life is going to be paid for. Because right now, she doesn’t have to.

                  When you are raising three kids, I can see why that’s appealing! But her wishes aren’t the only things to consider. Besides the money and such, nothing else in your current setup is guaranteed to never change or become less appealing—maybe her parents move away to senior living, or her current friend networks break up as other people move, and so on. Just because things are “good” right now doesn’t mean giving up this job will keep them that way.

                2. Anonymouse*

                  It sounds like there could be something else going on – depression or some other type of mental health concern. That can make it much harder to contemplate change. Not time to address that prior to making your decision, but for future follow up.
                  Did you have any discussion when you were applying/interviewing for this position about what an offer would involve? Was she originally supportive and then changed her mind when an offer materialized? These are discussions you should sort out before you start applying for long-distance jobs. Hopefully some of the suggestions already posted will help you come to an agreement. Is there any chance you can relocate first and come back on the weekends for a while to give her more time to come to terms with a move? Especially if you have family to stay with for a while.
                  Everything you’ve mentioned about the situation may turn it into a going-separate-ways thing regardless. You both go and she’s miserable without her parents and local network (where she presumably grew up or at least has been for a significant portion of her life). You don’t go for her sake and resent the heck out of your life if a local opportunity doesn’t come up soon. You go and she refuses and moves in with her parents.

                3. Hmmmm.*

                  This last comment you made shed a new light on the situation for me. She’s not doing the kids’ laundry for weeks at a time, and “doesn’t care” if it gets done at all? Neglecting important hygiene tasks is something I do when I am really depressed. Just something to think about — perhaps she could use some counseling? I know we are not supposed to diagnose, and I do not mean to, it just sounds very very familiar to me. And personally when I am that depressed I am also paralyzed and find making decisions hard, and would probably find the kind of change you are talking about very scary. Not saying you shouldn’t move! Just that this may add another dimension to the difficulty of it for her. I was already going to suggest maybe getting a couples therapist to help you with this decision, if you can find one in time. My husband and I had a similar important decision to make before we were married, and we were on the cusp of moving 3000 miles when we realized we needed help, stat! We got some emergency counseling, so to speak, and it helped a lot.

        3. M2*

          You plan a trip there with your family and ask your parents/ family to watch your kids at least one night and or day so you both can go out on your own. Show her the area, explore, show her things she likes to do, have her get a surprise with her friend.

          I understand the money issue. You both need to have serious conversation regarding that and if you want her to work explain why especially if you stay where you are living now.

          Also, could you pose it as a pilot program to see if you all like it? Everyone needs more teachers so maybe talk to her about moving there for a year and see how you all feel? You can relook in a year and if people aren’t happy look again for teaching jobs? In my state many teachers make 6 figures with excellent healthcare and pension benefits. They also get sick leave paid out so we have teachers who retire with years of sick leave

          1. Burt Macklin*

            That sounds like a great state to live in. Where I am, if I leave my teaching job and then try to come back to it (or a similar job in a different district), the most likely outcome is that I will start over near the bottom of the pay scale and end up taking a pay cut of tens of thousands of dollars.

      3. Unfettered scientist*

        I think you and your wife have to look at the numbers and tiger try to brainstorm solutions. She can’t just say “no I’m not moving and no I’m not getting a job you have to support me and the kids here forever” and you also can’t unilaterally say “we’re moving”. What’s your financial picture look like? Lay out out and make the problem clear. Does she have ideas for how to make more money? How’s your retirement situation looking? You also must consider what you sacrifice by staying. Also it’s really really important that your kids are safe. I do not see red states getting better in the near future.

      4. Random Dice*

        Yeah but… he can’t pay the bills at the current place, she refuses to work, and also doesn’t want to move to where he can pay the bills.

        Honestly I’m side-eyeing her harder than him, in this.

        1. Endorable*

          I agree that there’s something wrong with the wife here. Reminds me very much of my SIL’s ex. She refused to work and just wanted to keep having babies, and then got mad at him for not being around to help much with them because of the hours he had to work to support them.

          1. Hmmmm.*

            I understand where your comment is coming from, but it’s sort of imputing something “bad” on the part of the wife here. It’s possible, of course, but honestly it sounds like she may be depressed. Not doing the kids’ laundry for weeks at a time, and not caring if it gets done, sounds like something I might have done in some of my really low lows. So something to get help for, not criticize necessarily.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          Me too, honestly. She needs to get that they cannot afford this set up long term, especially with planning for retirement and college costs.

    7. starsaphire*

      Sit down, lay out the issue – “I really want to do this, but I want to hear what you want too,” and then listen. Don’t interrupt, don’t argue, don’t “Yeahbut,” just LISTEN, with full engagement.

      Then, and only then, get out the pen and paper, and create that pros-and-cons chart, IF there’s still scope for discussion.

      And if any of your kids are old enough to get an opinion? Listen to them too, and really weigh what they have to say. Are you going to be scuttling someone’s senior year in high school?

      You *really* have to reframe this from “how do I convince X to do Y?” into “how do we as a family decide what is right for us as a family?”

      1. Burt Macklin*

        Thank you, I appreciate your framing. That definitely sounds more helpful than how I had it.

        Our oldest kid is 9, so while that poses its own set of challenges, we aren’t upending any teenager’s social lives (which I absolutely agree would need to be considered).

        1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

          Funny enough, sometimes that age is just as hard, at least initially. Teens are a lot more independent so it is easier for them to keep some of their supports/social circles intact while almost giving them a pre-college bonus of a clean slate.

          Again – not saying that should make it a no (far from it), but something to consider.

    8. Not my real name*

      Additionally, what is her relationship with your family? Moving closer to them might actually be a negative!

    9. Felicity Lemon*

      Throwing this out there as a potential compromise that worked for at least two couples I know: instead of relocating the whole family, the spouse with the (high paying) job got a place to live near the job during the week (a small apartment/condo), and/or worked from home when they could, and then spent weekends with the family. It’s a middle ground between stay and move, and although it may not work for you, may be worth considering something like that for the right salary/opportunity.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, I was just coming to say this. All of you don’t have to move, at least not at once.

        Can you afford two homes with your new salary? You move for work and visit with your family after work some days, and commute back to your spouse over the weekend. 100 miles is not too far to do that if it works for both of you. A one-bedroom apartment or a rented room someplace would suffice for your weekdays, especially if your new employer’s willing to pay some of the costs.

        Your wife could remain where she wants to be and you could take the new job that seems like a real step up in your career. Seems to me that losing the daily companionship with you would be a compromise she might be willing to make.

        That said, judging by the OP’s other posts on this thread, I’m worried about his wife’s mental health. She sounds very passive and unwilling to make any changes in her life, and that’s not sustainable in the long term. It also sounds a bit worrisome about the household chores that she neither wants to outsource nor do herself, like the kids’ laundry. Separate households aren’t going to work if the wife’s just at home not doing her part, while the OP’s out working long hours and earning the money that they need so that she can maintain her SAHM lifestyle.

        Given how poorly paid teachers are in the US, it seems amazing that they can afford to have 3 kids and a SAHM spouse on a teacher’s salary…

    10. AnotherLibrarian*

      I hope you’ve already discussed this with her long before the job offer, because that’s always how me and my spouse have done this. I would recommend getting a baby sitter, finding a neutral place and settling in for a long “real” discussion about what your priorities are as a family, as individuals and what makes the most sense for you children. You’re asking your spouse to move away from her entire support structure and, depending on the ages of her parents and your children, disrupting multiple lives. I’d also add that I find the approach of “getting your spouse onboard” not really a helpful one. You need to reframe this in your head. This needs to be a conversation about what is best for you and your family. It shouldn’t be about convincing her that you’re right and she’s wrong. Go in with curiosity and listen, really listen, to her concerns. Then you can do the pros and the cons and everything else, but right now, I think you’re in a “she’s wrong and I’m right” mode and that’s not going to be helpful at all.

    11. Temperance*

      It sounds like all the downsides rest with your wife. She’d be away from her support system, would be solo parenting a lot more than she is now, and would only have one friend and your family around.

      Could she possibly get a job as well, so you’d have more income coming in, if that’s part of the concern?

        1. Ali + Nino*

          So what’s her long-term plan? How long does she want to do the stay-at-home mom thing? Are you guys planning on having more children? When – if ever – does she plan on working? I’m just wondering, if she doesn’t want to work outside the home right now, how she expects you as a family to increase your income? Is it all on you?

          1. Burt Macklin*

            It is all on me. When we initially agreed to have her stay home (she hated her job, she wanted more time with the kids), the plan was for her to go back to work after the kids were in school. Since then, she has decided she’s not going to do that, she’d like to volunteer at school and other places. Which I would be fine with if my income could support it. We are not planning on having more children.

            She says I will eventually find a better job here. However, I’ve already interviewed several times and been rejected for administration roles in the major school districts around here, and the ones that are remaining would not be safe for my LGBT child. I am comfortable with our current district because I work in the same building she attends and know teachers in the other buildings, but if I left for another school job I would want her to come with me and it would have to be a safe place. The new area features several very supportive districts (i.e., frequently named the most LGBT friendly places in our state). There aren’t any other large employers around here I’d be qualified to work for, and nothing like the opportunity I have in the new area.

            1. mungojulia*

              This to me should be one of the biggest checks in the pro move column. You currently live in a place where it isn’t safe for your child to go to school without you being in the same building. She may be young but she absolutely has noticed, and I would bet it is impacting her quality of life.

              You and your wife need to make a plan to address this. It may not be this particular role in this particular place, but the current state of affairs is specifically not working for one member of your family.

        2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

          I have a lot of sympathy for your position on this one. While I don’t at all believe the person who earns the money should control family decisions, if there is only one career in the family it IS important to ensure that the breadwinner can continue earning bread — and in your case, earn more bread! My mom left her support system to follow my dad for his job more than once, and each time that made sense for our family because that’s where the career opportunities were that would best take care of us. Unfortunately, a few weeks may not be enough time to have the convos you need to resolve this in a way that feels good to both of you.

        3. Team Leave*

          There is a lot of concern for your wife to preserve everything she likes about her life–no outside work, stay at home mom status, her own side of the family at beck and call, status quo if you will, which requires you to stick to a job you hate that causes you stress you don’t want.

          Obviously thoughts can differ on who is obligated to suffer for the benefit of others, and there may not be a clear answer here, but the answer is also clearly not that you are forever stuck at a job you hate to preserve the lifestyle to which your wife and kids have become accustomed. There is a principle bandied about here that says: if nothing was going to change here, how many more years would you continue to do this–work a job you hate that your wife loves.

          Take the job. Get new experience in new field. Agree to move back/look for new work before oldest enters high school. Or take the job. Leave the wife/family in her cozy situation with GPs for backup, and commute home on weekends. Stay with family or use the extra money and rent. Or take the job but concede whatever compromise is comparable to the compromise your wife is making by agreeing to make the move.

          Frankly, though, no one can insist that you stay in a job you hate. You get to decide.

        4. Lynn*

          Sounds like if a big, thoughtful, considering-her-too discussion still has her at “We are not prioritizing your career, but we need more money and also I’m not going to work”, then you need marriage counseling. Not to force her hand, but to help you two be a team together with goals that you’ve agreed to together. This particular job will probably have to be a No for now, if that happens, because counseling takes time.

    12. The Shenanigans*

      I’d say start by talking about the problems in general that this new job would solve. Like, in general, does your family need more money? Do your kids want to be involved in activities but due to cost/availability, they can’t do them? What about your wife? Etc

      Are you both understanding the situation the same way? A lot of times what’s happened with me and my partner is that one or both of us is missing or misunderstanding some information. For instance, does she get along with your family? Would she much, much rather be near her family? Moving away from family is generally a much bigger risk for women than men, and that goes even more when she’s a SAHM. On the flip side, is she surprised that you want to move near your family because of comments in the past?

      You say you want your kids to grow up with their cousins. But will that make up for them losing their friends where you are? Find out from them. Maybe all your kids loathe their cousins or just don’t connect. Proximity won’t make that better.

      Oh, and you are talking to your kids here, right? If they are old enough to miss Grandma, they are old enough to talk to you about how they feel. Obviously, they don’t get to make the decision. But getting their buy-in will make any change so much easier.

      Basically, The conversation should be about yall vs all the problems instead of you vs your kids and wife. If the job doesn’t actually solve any problems you have, it doesn’t make sense to uproot just on a vague idea of it being “better” somehow. Maybe you find out this job 100% makes sense. Or, maybe this isn’t the right opportunity. But, now, you have all had a chance to talk about this. Everyone has their concerns heard. And, you have a better idea of what needs to change and you can look around for opportunities to support that change from a much stronger position as a family.

    13. RecoveringSWO*

      It seems like everyone has touched on the larger points here, but I did have one thought. Summer’s off + leaving her parents are two issues here. Maybe you could have some sort of summer housing situation that brings your in-laws & wife+kiddos together. Here’s some options off the top of my head:
      -You could sublet a place near your new home for 2-3 months if the grands are willing to come stay for longer periods. (And it’d be driveable for them to go home-and-back as needed).
      -You could stay in your wife’s hometown for the summers. You’ll likely need to stay by your new job during the week, but it might be worth it and you might have some flexibility with summer holidays, vacations, and WFH so that you won’t be apart as often.

      Since you’re rolling right into summer now and looking to buy a new house, you might have overlapping access to your old home and new home anyways. So you could try option 2 and ease the family into your new job & move.

    14. Qwerty*

      how did you get your spouse onboard

      You don’t.

      Sorry, but this type of giant change needs to be a joint decision. I’m not saying it is off the table, but you need to go back to square 1 on the conversations.

      If we could go back in time, I would have told you to start floating the idea with your wife about moving in general before even seriously looking. That way you could find out your wife’s needs/wants in a vacuum before there is something emotionally charged on the table and it gives her time to really seriously think about. Then you would start searching – maybe in a more neutral location than her family vs your family. Not having your wife at least halfway onboard before you applied is a problem – I’m going to assume that this opportunity fell into your lap and moved very quickly.

      This is a trade up for you but a major trade down for your wife. She’ll be losing her support network and starting over in a new city. It will be an extremely isolating experience if she is not enthusiastic about the move. All of her systems for running the household and taking care of the kids will need to be redone. Your availability will be significantly reduced – not just in taking care of kid and household tasks, but actually being present as a spouse and a parent. Your solution in the comments seems to be just paying someone to do housework and/or childcare, but be really careful that you aren’t coming off as dismissive to her concerns. Plenty of people do not want a stranger in their home to clean or have a stranger taking care of their kids when they are used to co-parenting.

      How did you end up down the street from her parents – did they move to be near you? or did you pick it to be near them? Either way, it is a big renegotiation of her life plans with her family.

      Being all-in could be making you blind to her side of things which sounds like is making each of you dig in. You and your wife are team, you have to solve it together. It might not be this job – maybe it means moving later after there is more time to figure out a plan, even if the next offer isn’t as shiny as this one.

      1. Burt Macklin*

        I did not apply for the job, it was offered to me through a mutual connection.

        We live where we do now because when she was still working, she got a job here in a difficult field, so I quit mine and we moved here and I found a new job. Her parents being here was a bonus but not the driving force.

        1. RagingADHD*

          So this is, in some sense, a windfall.

          On the one hand, that’s good, because if you had been pursuing out of town jobs without prior discussion, you’d have a lot more heavy lifting to do to rebuild trust.

          On the other hand, it’s a surprise. How is your wife with processing surprises? Is she the kind of person who kind of reflexively says no when she is put on the spot? Maybe she needs more time to process before she can objectively consider pros and cons.

          Would it be possible to take a trip to the potential job location and look at neighborhoods and schools?

          Is there a possibility of an in-between location that would make it easier to see her parents frequently but not make your commute too onerous?

          What about discussing it with her parents? They might surprise her. Doubling your income and getting the kids in a better school district might make them encourage her to reconsider, and if so, their endorsement might alleviate some of her worries.

          1. Burt Macklin*

            Taking a trip was suggested earlier, I’m going to propose that to her. Great idea!

            Any location that is in between the two locations would be rural and deep red; not safe for my LGBT child. It’s not an option.

            Her parents are adamantly against it, they don’t want less time with their grandchildren. Which I do understand.

    15. Calla Stargazer*

      It is *rough* to be a trailing SAHP. The kids go to school, and have an instant social (meaning just around other people, not that they immediately make new friends) environment and quickly get into a routine that is not unlike their old routine. The working parent goes to work, has an instant social environment and their routine quickly becomes not unlike their old routine. The trailing spouse has to figure out all the new infrastructure like grocery stores, libraries, dry cleaners, malls, etc. Having to figure out the new infrastructure means their new routine takes much longer to establish. They don’t have a built in environment that puts them in proximity to other people who they can get an interaction fix from. They have to work at finding a new environment by joining things–PTA, moms’ (let’s face it, the trailing spouse is usually a woman) groups (and if the trailing spouse is a man, they are the outsider in moms’ groups), what have you–which means they have to find those things to join in the first place. They feel the uprooting of deep relationships much more bc they don’t have the immediacy of interaction from work or school to fill in some of the gap. It’s hard.

      Have that conversation that everyone is recommending and really listen hard without talking. Don’t go in thinking, “the problem to be solved is that my wife doesn’t want to move.” The problem seems to be “our current lifestyle isn’t sustainable on my current salary alone.” Have a larger picture talk about everything you want, like proximity to parents, safe schools for your LGBTQ kid, amount of time at home for you, etc., and talk about how various solutions, like this job, fit into those larger picture wants. If you had more than a couple weeks, I would recommend a marriage counselor to help you have the talk and to prompt questions that you haven’t thought of. Since you only have a couple weeks, I’m going to recommend the Dear Therapist column at The Atlantic. She always has a series of questions about what the options on the LWs’ tables mean to them which knock the problem out of the “do I do THIS or THAT” space and into a more thoughtful space. It’s a great resource to learn how to have a conversation.

    16. Extra anony*

      As a former teacher, I feel like most of the commenters are undervaluing the almost double salary and the opportunity to leave teaching for a good job. Even though non-teaching jobs often technically have longer hours, I used to take tons of work home as a teacher. I have a much better work-life balance now. Another big change was the ability to plan my time off not around a school calendar. Although summers are wonderful as a teacher, if your new job has good PTO you can still spend lots of time with your family. Can you talk through your tentative plans for PTO with her?

      I also think 100 miles isn’t that far – very driveable, she could feasibly come back more than once a month – and that your LGBT child’s safety is a huge point toward moving anyway. I would emphasize both of those points to her.

  11. D.W. Read*

    After my last job, I went above and behind, said yes to everything my boss said and took on extra work. My boss told me multiple times I was the best “llama groomer” (cough, I work in digital media) on the team. Do you know what it got me? When I asked about a promotion, that boss who sung my praises got nasty and defensive (he later apologized), he left soon after, and the new boss that came on lacked the skills, knowledge and interpersonal qualities to manage a team. All that hard work I did was literally for nothing, while another teammates coworker who never did her work and literally did nothing all day was never held accountable.

    As I’m about to start another job, I don’t want to go above and beyond again and want to be more passive. I basically want to just do what I’m told but put in the minimum amount of effort not to get yelled at. Not to toot my own horn, but I’m good at what I do. However, what’s also happened in the past is that managers give me extra work instead of managing the slackers on the team and I get held to higher expectations, but those higher expectations don’t usually lead to a promotion.

    Has anyone done something similar? And tips on back off and do the minimum but also make it look like you are on top of everything?

    1. cabbagepants*

      I did this!

      First, this new job might actually reward people who do really well, so spend some time quietly observing how others on your team are recognized.

      For your own work, get in the habit of asking yourself what “good enough” looks like. You can calibrate this, again, by observing how others on the team behave. What are they assigned, what do they deliver, how does management react?

      Lastly, introspect on your own boundaries. If you can stick within them from day 1 then it’s much easier to set expectations than to try to ramp back once you’ve set a precedent.

      1. Sherm*

        True — As this blog discusses, being in a bad workplace can skew your perspective on what is normal/typical and what is not. In a healthy workplace (and they do exist!), high-achievers are not punished for asking for a promotion, and slackers do not get away with never doing any work.

        I think if you are truly on top of everything, there’s no special trick you need to perform. It will be apparent in a functional workplace.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        I agree. Don’t charge out of the gate and set an impossibly high standard, but don’t bring the totally justified resentment from your last job to this one before you figure out what the rewards system is. You may shoot yourself in the foot without meaning to.

    2. Anon for This*

      Don’t be irreplaceable. If you can’t be replaced, you can’t be promoted. Make sure others can do what you do. Politely decline extra work (my plate is already too full, sorry) if it is because someone else didn’t do their part. But take on extra work that will give you new skills – it’s always good to learn new things – provided you will not be the only one with those skills. Don’t offer to stay late. (Sorry, I have an unbreakable appointment. – You don’t have to tell them the appointment is with a pint of Haagen Dasz.)

    3. Colette*

      I think that neither option is good. Always going above and beyond when it requires you to work overtime/become extremely stressed isn’t good, but doing the bare minimum isn’t either.

      I’d also challenge the idea that because this time you didn’t get a promotion, it’s not worth doing your job at a high level. Jobs aren’t a vending machine; you don’t put in the requirements and get a guarantee that you’ll get the job in slot B9. Sometimes you do; sometimes there’s nothing in the slot because they don’t need someone at a higher level.

      The benefits of doing your job at a high level sometimes take time to show up; sometimes it’s a former colleague recommending you for a job somewhere else, or being qualified for a future job because you have extra experience.

      1. Some words*

        I’ve also been in the position of being the high performer, taking on responsibilities above my job description. Received lots of verbal acknowledgement. I also got low raises (manager never rated anyone better than “meets expectations”) and blocked promotions, with no explanation of what I could do to advance.

        Working to rule at least until one can assess how a new employer rewards (or doesn’t) extra effort is reasonable.

        1. Colette*

          But it’s not just about where you are currently working – it’s about your future opportunities. Will you have more opportunities as someone with a reputation for going above and beyond, or as someone with a reputation for doing the minimum to not get fired?

    4. The New Wanderer*

      It sounds like you want to “meet expectations” and what that usually looks like is doing all the work assigned to you in a competent (but not awe-inspiring) manner, meeting (but not beating) the deadlines, and not volunteering for extra work, except maybe rarely for something you are truly interested in. Be reliable and competent but not a go-getter.

      What you might find is that you’re happiest with the balance you’ve found. And you might find you aren’t satisfied with just that and after a few years you might want to take on more, or more challenging, work. In which case, if you still don’t get rewarded, use it to strengthen your resume and look for a better opportunity.

      IME I think I’ve performed at basically the same level for a whole series of managers (seriously, something like 13 managers in 8 years!). Some managers thought I was truly amazing and would have kept promoting me, a few were just happy someone was doing the work and were happy to talk future promotions, and a couple were not impressed and did not think I should be promoted, possibly ever. It sounds like you got out from a couple of lousy managers but now may have a new opportunity for a better manager. Hopefully after some time, you’ll be able to gauge whether higher quality work gets rewarded or just gets more work.

    5. My Useless 2 Cents*

      I didn’t start a new job but I did scale back at work. My first step was looking at what the “average” work output should be for this position. Then I slowed down so that it takes me 8 hours to do the “average”. Ex. I was producing 8-9 widgets a day but everyone else was averaging 3-4 widgets. Now I limit my work to 4 widgets a day. It makes for a seemingly longer work day as some days can be quite boring and against all logic more mistakes are missed. But I’ve gotten tired of the lack of acknowledgement and appreciation that has never been rewarded by anything but more of the workload.

    6. So Anon*

      I’m doing this now. The only thing hard work gets you in many places is extra work, none of it of the high-profile or important kind.

      A nepo hire without any background or training in the work I do got the position I wanted last summer. So now, I work my 8 hours and take 1 hour for lunch. I don’t work weekends, I don’t do anything after hours unless it’s an outside leadership opportunity, and I never ever ever help Nepo Hire.

    7. Dubious*

      A passing thought: work to rule as you get a sense of how the new place does things. But also, saving energy to go above and beyond when people with more influence than your immediate boss are involved might help to earn some recognition beyond what your boss may provide.

    8. Anonymouse*

      We have an employee who would say similar things (not untrue) about his work ethic and his results, but who is also not likely to be promoted for various reasons. The main one is his passive-aggressive behavior. Work output is excellent, but people tread carefully when working with him. He’s pretty oblivious to the whole situation. He thinks (no joke, he’s said this to me – I’m higher in the org chart but not in his direct line) that he’s not getting promotions or other internal positions because everyone is looking for diversity and his disadvantage is to be a white male. There might be more than one thing going on here.

  12. Achtung, Baby*

    A short cautionary tale for people in roles such as HR…

    For whatever reason, the settings on our corporate Outlook are such that unless you actively make either your meeting or your entire calendar private, they are viewable by anyone in the organization. Which means that our business unit’s HR rep’s calendar is pretty transparent, including interviews with hiring candidates. To which she attaches the candidate’s resume. (She does, to her credit, mark any firing/RIF/layoff situations as private.)

    So if you don’t want people scoping out potential new hires ahead of time, and making fun of their poorly-written resumes, maybe make your whole calendar private.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      I’d be really careful about mocking candidates. That seems like the kind of thing that would get back to HR. As an employee you’re supposed to have the judgement to not access stuff you know you’re not supposed to see.

      1. Achtung, Baby*

        I’m not saying it was the best decision, although there’s almost zero chance it would get back to HR in this case.

        I am saying, though, that HR (and anyone else who has potentially sensitive meetings) should know better than to leave their calendar viewable to anyone.

        1. *kalypso*

          Rather, HR should know not to put candidate’s information where the entire company can access it.

          1. Achtung, Baby*

            Yes, it could have been emailed to anyone who needed it, rather than attached to the meeting.

            Look, I’m not saying calendar-stalking HR is the best idea. But I think it’s on HR to protect info they don’t want to be widely seen.

      2. Unkempt Flatware*

        Right? What kind of person makes fun of someone at all but especially for work documents? I’m also taken aback that someone would say to themselves, “hey! This person’s calendar is open! Let me just root around” and then blame the HR rep.

        OP, does your work place have such people? People who violate boundaries and then make fun of someone? I think there’re bigger problems than the outlook settings. What does your handbook say about accessing materials and private documents?

        1. Temperance*

          You’ve never snickered at a weird resume or out-of-touch email? Ever?

          I wouldn’t go digging like these people do, but 100% I had a good laugh at the weirdo who printed out pages and pages of worthless Linked In recs as proof of his management skill.

          1. Achtung, Baby*

            And just to clarify, this wasn’t anything approaching bigotry – it was a 30something who put his K-12 perfect attendance on his resume. I understand why people think it was a bad idea, but nobody was being cruel.

              1. RussianInTexas*

                I would too.
                I wouldn’t discuss it with coworkers, but I may tell some selected friends.

              1. Achtung, Baby*

                This has nothing to do with neurodiversity. Come on now. Not everything is cruel or ableist.

              2. AmandaBentley*

                Why would you assume this person was ND? That’s a bit of a reach based on pretty much no info. I’ve seen tons of people who put way too much information on their resumes, which could be for a wide variety of reasons that have nothing to do with neruodiversity.

              3. jasmine tea*

                This assumption says a lot about you and nothing about the person you responded to.

                1. RussianInTexas*

                  Yes, is the presumption that a neurodivergent person can’t write a good resume?

          2. Unkempt Flatware*

            To myself? Sure. Outside of my own head? No! I also try to fix my own thoughts if reflection tells me it was too mean.

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

      I would check with IT if that could be changed, at least for those in roles like HR. My company automatically marks everything private and someone has to give you access to their calendar if you want to see the actually appointment.

    3. Feral Humanist*

      I was with you right up until “making fun of their poorly written resumes.” This is clearly a slip-up on HR’s part but there’s no reason to be all high school about it. (And apparently not realize that it reflects poorly on you to the point where you came here to brag about doing it?)

      Also, their resume was good enough to get them the interview, so. Just sayin’.
      .

      1. Unkempt Flatware*

        It makes me upset to see that people are defending the act of laughing at others with friends. Defending behavior because someone wrote something they found childish in their resume shows who the child is.

            1. Achtung, Baby*

              Yes, I understand that you think so. Thanks. This isn’t AITA, but your vote is noted.

          1. Another No*

            Agree with UF, this is horrible. I hope this is a fake post, meant to stir up trouble, because it is ridiculous to have to explain that a resume is a reflection of an actual person. So you are not laughing at a document. You are laughing at the actual person who wrote that resume. And who is coming in for an interview, but whom perhaps will have the luck not have to work with you.

          2. Feral Humanist*

            That’s so incredibly disingenuous. You are mocking the person who made the document, and you know it.

        1. RussianInTexas*

          I vividly remember the whole open threads on the AAM with thousands of comments dedicated specifically to the weird and funny resumes.
          I guess I dreamed that up.

    4. allathian*

      At my organization, public calendars are mandatory, the option to make it private has been disabled in Outlook by IT. I assume that HR flags all confidential meetings as private as a matter of course, I haven’t looked at their calendars even if I could because there’s no need for me to do so.

  13. Katy Katherine*

    I’ve been going back and forth with leaving an accurate, factual Glassdoor review on my last company’s page. I can leave most of the issues with my immediate manager out, except for 1 big one, and can give facts from a wider perspective on why that company is now a sinking ship. I don’t plan to use that last manager as a reference but I think a review would be obvious if it was me given that 1 specific reason. This company also isn’t re-hiring positions who have left (another reason why they aren’t doing well financially), so it’s not like people would get bamboozled into working for them. Competent people would spot the red flags. Since they aren’t doing much hiring right now, I think I might hold off on leaving a review, but the inner devil in me wants to leave an honest review.

    Should I leave one?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      I think the risks (burning a reference) outweigh the rewards (feeling satisfied that anyone who uses glassdoor can know they are a crappy company). I know you don’t plan to ask the manager for a reference, but I’ve had hiring managers reach out to me about former employees even when they didn’t give me as their reference, just because the hiring manager had worked with me before and wanted my opinion on them.

    2. 1,000 Snails in a Lady Skin*

      I’m having a similar problem! I really really really want to leave a Glassdoor review in the hopes that it would spur management into taking a close look at issues (and maybe make other employees feel less alone if they’re also dealing with these issues) — but no matter how I write it, I feel certain it would be recognizable as me (small, 80 person company so hard to mask things).

      If you feel like you have enough references you can ask who wouldn’t care about a Glassdoor review (ie I have peers + a former manager that would still be references who wouldn’t be bothered about anything I said bc I’ve said it to them before) — then you might be ok.

      But typically, my understanding is that if you’re hoping management will change, they probably won’t and it’s not worth the risk.

  14. Not Experienced*

    I was wondering about applying to low level office jobs that I feel I’m qualified for except for not having the preferred/required experience with a specific thing. I.e. I have ten years of different types of office experience, but the job ad says something like “experience with X is preferred” or “1 year of experience with X is required” or “1-2 years of experience with X is required.”

    I guess my questions are: 1) Is it worth applying to these jobs if you have no experience? I’ve applied to and interviewed for a lot of these jobs, but if I get rejection e-mails, they’ll often say they went with someone who already had experience. (And then I wonder why they bothered to interview me if they already had experienced candidates!)

    2) If the job has a wide pay range and I have no experience, should I only expect the lowest pay if offered the job? As an example, I was looking at an automotive title clerk job that requires 1 year of title clerk experience and that pays $18-$27 an hour. $18/hr is less than I get at my current job, so it wouldn’t be worth applying to if that was all I could expect to be offered.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Translate it is as Preferred means Optional.

      For experience if they are asking for X years and X is 5 or less, apply anyway. If they don’t get enough candidates with X years experience they may interview you anyway. Use that as a learning opportunity too, what qualifications are they looking for, what things do they ask after, maybe you can gain some of the skills to increase your chances for the next job.

      For 2, if it has a wide range I’d go for it anyway. you can at the offer stage negotiate. Or if you don’t want to waste time, you can bring it up early in first interview when they ask if you have questions. “I noticed the job ad had a range of 18-27, could you speak as to what qualifies for the higher salary, I am looking to be in a range of 25-27 and I don’t want to waste your time”. Don’t give a specific number, your range makes you look flexible and leaves you room to negotiate still (More PTO for lower salary, etc).

    2. *kalypso*

      It’s always worth applying, and stressing examples where you’ve learned new systems or information quickly and your confidence in gaining that knowledge or have knowledge in similar systems. Sometimes they list things and give themselves leeway if someone’s perfect in regards to soft skills or things they didn’t realise would help until they talked to someone, and sometimes they ask about them in case you have it but didn’t mention it in a way they picked up on. ‘We went with someone with experience’ is sometimes boilerplate and doesn’t necessarily mean you weren’t a fit, just that they felt someone else was a better fit for them at that time for a reason that may not necessarily reflect on anyone’s resume.

      If the job has a wide pay range and you have no experience at all, that puts you at the lower end. If it’s just that you don’t have this one kind of experience, you can negotiate low-to medium range depending on the rest of your experience and if you can do training, you can try to negotiate for something like ‘and a raise to $22 in 3 months or on completion of Cert II in title clerk systems’ or similar – but if you have experience in like, land titles and the automotive title system uses the same structure but you’re searching registration instead of deeds, that’s going to be a lot more like ‘I can figure that out in a couple of days’ and training may not be as relevant, so again, it depends on how closely your existing experience can be applied and interrelates with the other requirements like ‘knows how to behave in an office’ or ‘can process deposits and payments using bespoke accounting software without oversight’.

      1. Ama*

        Yes, this — I used to have a paragraph in my cover letter where I talked about one of my skill sets being a quick learner of new software and office systems, with one of my examples being having to learn InDesign on the fly when a staff departure and the loss of some key files meant I had to rebuild our new employee handbook on a two week deadline. I firmly believe it helped me a job at my current employer, because my department uses a very sector-specific software and it is rare to find lower level employees who have any previous experience with it — I think making the case that I’d be able to learn it quickly helped a lot.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      Based on my experience (both in applying and hiring), they’re just going to try to hire the “best” (obviously not an exact science) candidate they can get. So there may be people who check all the on-paper boxes but don’t have the “soft” skills needed. There may be people who don’t check all the on-paper boxes but do have the “soft” skills needed. There may be people who are just the whole package… but don’t want the job. You don’t always get someone who looks great on paper, is excellent in the interview process, and who wants the job.

      So I would apply if you think you can honestly do the job. Like if there are skills you don’t currently have, they’re ones you know you can pick up, for example. Or if you meet 75% of the “requirements,” apply.

      1. Tupac Coachella*

        I agree with this comment fully. Sometimes hiring managers have to make compromises. Just because someone checks all of the boxes doesn’t mean I’m going to be wowed when I meet them. In that case, I might be willing to give something up for someone great who’s less “qualified,” but could learn. My goal is that the job description is clear: “You MUST be able to do these things to even get interviewed (required). All other things considered, these things will give you an advantage over other candidates (preferred).” Does it always happen that way? No, because bureaucracy. So if you’re reasonably sure you can do the job, apply. Just be brutally honest with yourself. If they want someone who knows six different programming languages and you know none, being a “fast learner” will. not. help. But if you know four really well, kinda know one more, and you have excellent problem solving and collaboration skills, you very well might still be a contender.

    4. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

      This can vary widely, and there’s no way to know from the outside how they mean it. “Preferred” is usually optional but if you don’t have it it may put you at a disadvantage compared to candidates who both have it and check all the same boxes you check. (It may be less important if you check, say, 90% of the other boxes and candidates who have this experience only check 70% of the other boxes.) “Required” can mean “they will compromise for a great candidate who has roughly similar experience and brings all the other skills to the role” or it can mean “it’s actually preferred and they’re just bad at writing JD’s” or it can mean “absolutely required; they won’t make an offer to anyone without it” or it can mean “if we can find any candidates who have this, they will get preference over any candidates who don’t,” or any number of other things.

      Since you have no way to know, apply if you have most of the skills, don’t worry as much about the experience, but make sure your cover letter translates the experience you have to the requirements/skills needed for the role. I.e. try to answer the question, what about the experience and skills you have would make you a great Title Clerk, to use your example? By “skills” I mean things like attention to detail, or ability to work with difficult customers, or strength in a fast-paced environment, or juggling multiple deadlines, or obsessed with hyper-organization, or whatever is crucial to being a successful title clerk. Something more specific than “experience in an office environment,” and demonstrating a knowledge of what being a title clerk entails.

      Re: salary range, it also depends. In the example you cited, if you don’t have 1 year of title clerk experience but you have, say, 3 years of experience requiring similar skills — you can probably parlay that into a higher salary. It’s harder if you don’t have skills that translate into title clerking, or if you can’t articulate how your skills will allow you to deliver more value for the company as a title clerk. In a company with strong compensation policies this might also come down to an internal equity question – are you being paid more for bringing less skill to the job than is generally expected of people at the comparable level/doing comparable work who are already there? And you have no way to know that from the outside.

    5. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      1. Yes, if it is something you are interested in. The worst that can happen is you aren’t considered.
      2. As others have noted, “it depends,” but yes, assume you’d be at the low end. You may even be lower – if you truly have no experience and the job requires, say, at least 3 years, they may see what you have to offer as valuable and want to bring you on, BUT compensation is also often set based on what the requirements of the job are. If that’s decreased, they may need to back out of the salary a bit (with the caveat that in a year or two you can be brought higher).
      (Again, this isn’t everywhere, but something to consider.)

    6. Mid*

      This isn’t quite what you asked, but are you sure you should be applying to low-level (which I’m taking to mean entry level or a step above) positions if you have 10 years of office experience? You might also be getting rejections for being overqualified, even if that’s not what’s being said to you.

  15. *kalypso*

    Talk to your team and push back as a group. Whether it’s legal depends on where you are, but most likely, yes it is, especially if you don’t speak up now. But better to speak up as a group, as if a whole team goes ‘we’re losing our breaks to have extra work in our busy season’ it a) protects individuals from retaliation and b) highlights that it’s a team issue that may have a team-based solution (e.g. teams have floating holidays). The capped holidays doesn’t sound like a cut in entitlements, rather how many you can bank, which is generally sensible from everyone’s POV as the employer doesn’t have to hold as much funds aside for paying leave, and employees take breaks and end up less likely to burn out or get sick. If your actual *entitlement* is being reduced and you have it in writing, that’s different again to the at-will verbal/convention only kind of situation as well as it positions you differently in terms of how far you can push.

    But if this is going to genuinely negatively affect your productivity, you can’t just accept it and you need to raise it, soon, but particularly before you can be said to have accepted the change in your circumstances by conduct.

  16. Rayray*

    Happy to report I accepted a job offer this week! I feel like I’ve been job searching FOREVER. I know I posted an extremely frustrated rant here a few weeks ago. It’s not a salary increase but everything else about it is better. My company has been good to me but it’s an incredibly unstable industry right now so I am shifting over to something far more stable.

    I really liked the people I interviewed with and felt so good about it, I am so excited for this change.

  17. cabbagepants*

    What do I owe the intern I don’t want, didn’t ask for, and who was hired in spite of zero experience in my specialized field, that my boss has pushed on me?

    I know from experience training other people that it would take at least 6 months for this person to be capable of contributing even at a minimal level more than it costs me in training time. I do specialized work where mistakes cost time, money, and customer trust. Imagine if my job was driving expensive equipment to remote villages along dangerous roads, and this intern doesn’t have a driver’s license, mechanical training, or know how to read a map. He’s a PhD candidate so I do feel bad giving him low value paperwork but the alternative is to put aside my own work to basically entertain him.

    I think my boss hired him out of a combination of optimism (we’ll train him!), ignorance (the training is quick, right?), and obligation to the uni this kid is from.

    I know that I need to have a very frank conversation with my boss but for now my boss continues to expect this intern to “help” me.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Yes to talking to Boss. Maybe Boss can move him. In the meantime, is there any part of your job that you could train him in so he’s useful to you? Part of a task not a whole task even, like if the example you gave could you train him to check if the car has gas, and other prep so that the task itself is simplified for you? PhD candidates are used to having to read alot, if you have any journal articles or other written sources about your work you can 100% say here’s 5 articles to read this week.

    2. Policy Wonk*

      Not having any idea what you do, it’s hard to say. But in a similar situation I gave the intern a project to go through files and prepare a report/history of a particular issue we had been having. PhD students generally are good at research and report writing and mine produced something worthwhile.

    3. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Can you point him towards some trainings or licenses to work on while you’re in the field? Or are there any professional exams he’s studying for that you can have him work on? Neither of those are going to be very helpful for you, but they will keep him out of your hair. Alternatively, could you give him a ‘shadow week’? Tell him “for one week, your job is to follow me around, act as my gofer/EA, smile and nod whenever a client talks to you, redirect any questions to me, and then when we’re driving home you can ask me the questions”.

      Most internships, paid or unpaid, provide huge amounts of value by giving people office and job experience. Even giving him low value paperwork is going to start getting him accustomed to the nature of your work, the flow of the office, and the level of experience needed to actually fulfill your job well. Obviously this isn’t the greatest help to you, since it doesn’t prevent him from being a time suck, but in general I wouldn’t feel bad about giving him very low tier work.

    4. Gyne*

      Hmmm… is the intern otherwise a generally pleasant and hardworking person? I think even if they aren’t contributing to lessen your workload, they could still find value in being around and seeing you work. I have a wide range of learners rotate through in my job that vary in their level of training from being able to only shadow me to being able to complete a task from start to finish while I look on. The shadowers don’t really slow me down, I mostly just do my own thing and talk out loud while I’m doing part of it to explain what’s going on. And occasionally ask them if they have any questions. I feel for the intern who probably was oversold on this experience – I think now they’re here you should all try to make the best of it and then also ensure with your boss that this never happens again!

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

      I feel bad for the intern. He is probably expecting more and not going to get it. I’m wondering why they are interning with you/your company if they have no relative experience. If you can, please talk with the boss and say Hey this won’t work because the intern has no relative experience here and I cannot train them because of (reasons). If you feel like your boss would not be open to that conversation, talk with the intern. Ask them what they are hoping to get out of this. If this is part of their requirements to graduate it should be something relevant to their degree. Like if their degree is in psychology they shouldn’t be having an internship with an engineer.

      1. Mid*

        I would also suggest talking to the intern, and seeing why they applied and what they’re hoping to get out of the internship. If this person is a PhD candidate, they’re pretty far into one subject at this point. What was their goal in an internship so far out of their industry? That could also help you figure out projects to work on.

    6. Yes And*

      Is this intern paid or unpaid? If paid, then at a certain point, it’s your boss’s problem if they want to waste the money. If unpaid, it’s more complicated. In the US (and based on your reference to “uni,” I’m guessing you’re not in the US, but that’s what I know about so bear with me), there are strict rules about what can and can’t be asked of an unpaid intern. Among other things, they can’t replace paid staff, and the work they’re assigned needs to be to their benefit more than the employer’s (i.e., no more having unpaid interns do clerical work all day). If there’s no qualifying work to be done on your team, then yeah, I’m afraid your only choice is to push back on your boss.

    7. TX_trucker*

      If you are paying him, I would not feel bad giving him paperwork. Not all internships involve exciting work. And he is free to look for other employment. I work in the transportation industry. If you can’t drive or fix a truck, there isn’t much for an intern to do in my company. Even knowing that, we still host several college interns every year. For many of our interns, this is their first real paying job. Even if they aspire to something other than grunt work, I think there is value for them to learn about having a regular job, showing up on time, and meeting deadlines, even when the tasks are boring and unskilled. For our company, there is value in having a dedicated person to perform unwanted tasks, like the weekly fridge clean-out. Interns also do lots of research for us (and usually excel at this task), such as reading and summarize industry trade journals and proposed legislation.

      If you are not paying him, and this internship is for college credit, then I think you should get some guidelines from the university. And then either provide the intern with the minimum work to meet those requirements. Alternatively, show those requirements to your boss and show how the internship can not meet those requirements.

    8. Feral Humanist*

      PhDs are often very self-motivated and very, very good at teaching themselves how to do things. They are used to supervisors being very hands-off. If there are ways for you to take advantage of that, I think it would work out for both of you.

      I’d also think about having him shadow other people at the organization to learn about what they do, and/or attend meetings to take notes. That can easily take up a few hours each week.

      1. Calla Stargazer*

        Yes, a PhD candidate probably can’t get a driver’s license or mechanical training in the available time frame, but he can absolutely learn to read a map. Remember that a PhD candidate has a degree, maybe two if they got a Master’s and they are just as qualified for full-time work as every other degree holder. Look for those “read a map” level aspects, and get him to do those.

    9. Tio*

      Can you make a list of your job duties, then write out why he cannot do each one? Bring that to your boss.
      Ex. So we have to drive the machine down these roads. He does not have a license. It will cost $5000 and four weeks to get him a license. We also need to juggle glass bottles. Each bottle costs $1000 and he has never juggled before. What is our broken bottle budget to try and train him to juggle the bottles? Also, each broken bottle will delay the juggling show by 3 days, and if we delay it five times Jugglers Inc will fire us.

      List it all out. In doing so, you might find that he has some skills you could use, like organizing the bottles or gassing up the car. Break the tasks down as much as you can. Sometimes doing the prep for a task might not be exciting, but if you can have him do the prep while explaining why he’s doing it, he can still learn something.

    10. Misty*

      We had a similar situation a few years ago. Except ours was undergrad and we needed grad level to be useful in our operational work.

      Found some survey data with questions and open ended responses and comments we’d been gathering and not really analyzing or using.

      Set the intern the project to compile analyze interpret….prepare report and presentation. Needed 3-4 meeting a week for first few weeks as they became more familiar with the data, then just 1-2 week for rest of summer.

      They proved very valuable after all!

  18. Syl*

    About 3 weeks ago, I got yelled at multiple times for asking benign questions of a coworker. Said coworker got in my face, screamed, and included multiple profanities in his rants. Said coworker also has performance issues, which I have been relaying to my manager (since the manager doesn’t know enough about my work to catch the mistakes)

    The following week I met with HR and my manager.

    Had another meeting with the manager this week. Nothing has changed and I feel uncomfortable and unsafe working less than 5 feet from this person. I don’t feel like I can ask them complex questions about the work. Management says they are talking to this person, but they either aren’t doing anything or can’t tell me what’s being done about the performance and behavior issues. The person hasn’t apologized to me or acknowledged they’ve done anything wrong.

    I’m really frustrated. How do I communicate that I’m really disappointed by the companies response to this incident?

    1. Owen*

      I am not an HR expert, but this seems like a hostile work environment situation. Can you ask to be moved away from this person? Explicitly telling HR that you are feeling physically unsafe at work might knock some things loose.

      1. Yes And*

        Owen: “Hostile work environment” is one of the worst bits of HR jargon. It doesn’t mean (as a normal intelligent person would interpret the literal words) a workplace where someone is subjected to hostile treatment. Rather, it means a workplace that enacts or tolerates discrimination or harassment based on an employee’s actual or perceived identity in a protected-status category. If that’s a factor here, Syl didn’t say so.

        Syl: Some managing of expectations may be in order. Disciplinary proceedings and actions are supposed to be private, and if the company were to take action against this co-worker, they probably wouldn’t and shouldn’t tell you exactly what was done. I know that that’s very frustrating – it’s frustrating to HR too, to have information that would appease a wronged party and not be able to share it. But consider if the shoe were on the other foot, if you were on the receiving end of workplace discipline – would you want everybody to know about it, or would you want to put the incident (whatever it was) behind you and do better next time? My point is, just because the company’s actions aren’t visible to you, doesn’t necessarily mean nothing has been done.

      2. Random Dice*

        Instead I’d report it to Security, not HR.

        “I’m afraid of a potential workplace violence situation.”

        This is genuine, those are behaviors of concern.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Frankly, from the description, this is already a violent situation! From the letter it doesn’t sound like the LW was physically hit or touched but it was everything but; the person was screaming, spitting profanities and pushing into her physical space–that is violence.

          1. Random Dice*

            No, I’m sorry, words mean something. Workplace violence isn’t about words, it’s about punching or stabbing or shooting. That’s why we have workplace violence programs, to try to prevent death or maiming. Words are for HR; violence is for Security.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Is your problem named Stephen? I worked with one like that. I quit to not deal with him anymore. That’s not helpful. Can you talk to your manager about temporarily (or perm) changing roles or teams so not work with unsafe guy ?

    3. New Yorker*

      If this is a co-worker, why is it your job to address performance issues? You told manager, it is their job. Why were you asking this person “benign” questions? My guess? This is turning into a they said/they said. Coworker is complaining you harnessed them, HR trying to figure out what to do.

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

        I don’t think the OP was asking the coworker benign questions about performance issues. Just regular questions and the person blew up. I think they put that the other person has performance issues for more detail about what HR and Boss knows. It sounds to me that the OP was asking questions either about work (how far are you on the report) or just general chit chat (how is your family?)

        Even if the op was asking more questions about the person’s performance that does not mean they have the right to get physically into someone’s face, scream and swear at them.

    4. NewJobNewGal*

      I’m hoping that HR is getting ready to remove this individual and you just need to give them time to get the ball rolling.
      I’d stay in communication with your manager, preferably face to face then they can tell you information or hint at information that they can’t officially share.
      I’d save up my questions until I couldn’t wait any longer, then talk to my manager about the list. See how they want me to proceed of if they want to relay the questions.

    5. Purple m&m*

      Look up laws in your state regarding workplace harassment, hostile working environments, etc. Email HR & use the hot button keywords & phrases like, “I feel unsafe at work.” “I am making a formal request in writing for the company to stop the harassment.” HR works for the company, not you. They usually act better when they realize they’ll get the company in trouble by not acting. However, this is a pretty big step & can come with retaliation. But do create a paper trail & write down every incident with the coworker such as date, time, what was said, who was present (important).

    6. Generic Name*

      I mean, finding another job and then saying that your disappointment in the company’s handling of the issue is why you left is a pretty good way to express that you aren’t happy with the company.

    7. cardigarden*

      Have you told you manager, explicitly, “I feel unsafe working next to [name]”? My manager asked me that when I described a combative situation with a direct report, and if I had said yes, I know that would have definitely gotten the ball rolling on things.

    8. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      it might be useful to consider what you want. Do you want an apology? A clear view of the consequences of it happens again? for the person to not speak to you except for work reasons?

      I suggest asking yourself what you really need and go from there. it might be saying, “Hey, HR, I’m having serious anxiety about this person because they were so enraged and they sit so closely to me. it makes it hard to concentrate because I don’t feel safe. How are we going to ensure this doesn’t happen again? What is the plan of if it does?” (note this doesn’t ask about their specific interaction with the coworker, just what the plan is so You can do your job. Or it might be, “I would like to not have to work alone with Coworker because their volatility makes me feel unsafe, what are the options?”

      But think about what you need and go from there.

  19. Seahorse*

    I failed at something this week. It’s not anything career-ending, but still significant. As soon as I found out it went badly, I rushed to redo the Failed Thing, and now I’m realizing I could have handled some elements better if I’d taken another day or two. I guess now I know what not to do when it fails again. Oops.

    Anyhow, now my confidence has taken a hit and I’m trying hard not to freak out about the combo of failing and then reacting imperfectly. What do you do to keep up your confidence when something goes wrong? How do you keep going on a project when you’re demoralized, and/or how do you prevent that feeling from seeping into the rest of your work?

    1. David's Skirt-Pants*

      I sympathize; I’m harder on myself than anyone else ever could be and I do a lot of internal festering over mistakes.

      But see if you can reframe it. You learned two lessons this week: 1. How maybe not to do a Thing and 2. How maybe not to respond to a mistake. We all make them and we learn and do better next time! Whereas a failure seems huge and permanent, a mistake is relatively minor and impermanent in the grand scheme of your career. Even big mistakes can be overcome if you learn the associated lessons, carry them forward and not let them define you.

      The Thing is not Seahorse. The Thing happened once to Seahorse. Seahorse will prevail.

    2. Pam Adams*

      My university has a motto of “learn by doing.” Sometimes, we learn best when we learn something the hard way.

    3. Aelfwynn*

      Aw man. I’ve totally been there. Whether you’re stressed and rushing, or just weren’t looking at a thing closely enough, this stuff happens.

      Try your best to learn from it and not beat yourself up. That’s a LOT easier said than done and I struggle with it too, but the more you beat yourself up, the more mistakes you’re going to make, so it’s ultimately counter-productive.

      Try some self-affirmation statements to keep yourself from sinking, but it’ll probably take a little bit to fully gain your confidence back. Deep breaths. You’ll get through this. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes (even big ones).

    4. Fiona*

      Honestly sometimes I find examples online (old AAM archives etc) of other people who have made huge work mistakes. It just makes me feel like I’m not alone and it’s all bounce-back-able. (Unless you’re like embezzling a billion dollars or something).

    5. cleo*

      I’ve been there!

      One thing that helps me not to obsess about my mistakes and to bounce back is to write down what I learned from the mistake and what I want to do differently next time. Something about having it written down and knowing that I can find it if I need it helps me to move on. And if I still find myself obsessing, I can remind myself that it’s OK because I learned from my mistake.

    6. NewJobNewGal*

      I did this a few months ago and it was eating me from the inside. I had a chat with my manager to say that I understood that this was a big mistake and I was taking it seriously. Luckily, I have a good team and my manager said that he completely understood why I did what I did and sometimes we are pressured to make fast/bad decisions.
      I don’t know if you can have a one-on-one with your manager to put it all out there, but I hope you can! It completely lifted the weight!

      1. 1,000 Snails in a Lady Skin*

        +1
        As a manager, the thing I love is when someone immediately owns their mistakes and explains what they’ve learned from the experience. It actually does build trust for me, way more than someone trying to pretend it didn’t happen (bc then I’ll assume they didn’t learn and it’s a bigger issue than it is).

        I also do this with MY manager – being clear and accountable and transparent are all valued in my organization and I know my manager responds well when I own up to a mistake quickly (and bonus if I can share what I’m going to change for next time, but also ok to just ask for help if needed!).

    7. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      You have successfully learned how to redo The Failed Thing, and have plans and skills in place so that there is no recurrence of The Failed Thing.

      That’s actually a win.

      I give you a virtual gold star. Stick it on your computer and remember that you are a problem solver.

    8. Prospect Gone Bad*

      As a Director I am happy for you. I find too many failures on a regular basis (albeit most are small and don’t ultimately matter), it is very refreshing when someone takes ownership and has a plan, even if its technically a bit too late

    9. Somehow_I_Manage*

      For me, it’s evaluating my performance looking forward. How do I put myself in a position to make the best next decision? You can’t change the past, but you can control how tomorrow goes. I try to be the best person to solve the upcoming challenges.

      Second, it’s having a relationship with my boss where I can share what went wrong, share what I learned, offer them the opportunity to give me feedback and keep me on course moving forward. The sooner you put your failures out there, the sooner others can rally to your side and help you. A good team has your back!

  20. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    I’m about to go on vacation! yay! But apparently I’m supposed to have earlier sessions and not schedule them on Fridays…but my skills of persuasion are trash. People will say ‘ I’m only available at ( late time) or ( Friday). and I’m trying to work around it but it’s not very effective.

    Well back to chasing down a person who hasn’t had their sessions!

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      I’m afraid that won’t be possible.
      We’re unable to meet then.

      Don’t give them room to push back. Justifying and giving reasons sometimes is taken by people as able to push back and change your mind.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        We used to be able to do that but now for no reason we can’t. ( shrugs)

  21. Mimmy*

    Please disregard my post in the short answers thread :)

    My question today is about automated rejections. When you receive a rejection notice from HR after applying for a job, does that mean that your application was not sent to the hiring manager? Is it ever possible that your application was sent to the hiring manager but then rejected by the hiring manager?

    I also have a more specific question. I was invited to apply for a specific job at a major university by Rob, who graduated with the same Masters degree a couple years before me. I received a rejection from HR two weeks after applying. Should I let Rob know that I was rejected? Rob works in the unit that I applied for.

    1. lost academic*

      I would. Especially since maybe there’s a chance he’ll fish you out of the reject pile to reconsider.

    2. Ms. Hagrid Frizzle*

      I’m not sure about the first part of your question, but as for the second I definitely think it would be worth mentioning it to Rob. Not in a “gotcha!” or “correct this error” way but in the interest of maintaining the connection. Something along the lines of:

      “Hi Rob, thanks so much for referring me to the X posting at Y university! I really appreciate you thinking of me for the role. It looks like I didn’t make the cut for an interview this go around, but I’m definitely interested if anything similar becomes available in the future.”*** Depending on his specific role and your relationship, it may be possible to ask if he has any insight on what sorts of skills or experience would make you more competitive for future opportunities.

      ***Alison has way better scripts for this in the archives, this is just my initial stab at it on my lunchbreak.

    3. LadyByTheLake*

      Yes, let Rob know. Do it in a really nice way, like “I received the rejection from Major U this week. While I am disappointed, thank you for thinking of me, and please do keep me in mind if other opportunities arise.”

    4. DisneyChannelThis*

      Yes but phrase it a little sneaky. “Hey Rob, I wanted to thank you for the heads up about job XYZ. Company ABC sounds great. Sadly, I got rejected this week by HR but please contact me again if there’s openings. Thanks for thinking of me!”

      not “Rob can you reverse the decision by HR” which comes off a little entitled and puts Rob in a weird spot.

    5. JMR*

      In all the jobs I’ve worked at, HR handled all the communication between hiring managers and applicants, so whether the hiring manager saw and rejected the application or whether it was rejected before it ever made it to the hiring manager, the rejection notice would still come from HR.

      For the second question, I guess it depends on how close you are to Rob, but I think a quick email or text would make sense. “Just to let you know, I found out that X won’t be moving forward with my application, but if you hear of any other openings that you think I’d be a good fit for, please let me know!”

    6. Jojo*

      Re: automated rejections: there is no fixed one-size-fits-all answer to this. I did HR admin years ago where I would save and organise the applications coming in, merely adding notes for the hiring managers, but the hiring managers would go trough each and decide who to reject. But I also did a similar role where I was really the person making the first selection; some hiring managers wanted me to leave a note on the system with every rejection, others didn’t, and all still had the option to look at the rejected applications (though I have no idea how many of them and how much)

      Re: Rob. I suppose you can send him a thank you note to express your thanks for inviting you to apply, and with the outcome – basic courtesy/networking

    7. Lady_Lessa*

      I’d let Rob know because he might be able to help. One time, when I was job hunting, I was rejected by HR, but a co-worker knew the hiring manager. So I sent my resume to him and I was the one hired.

    8. Ama*

      I absolutely would tell Rob — there’s some good advice here on ways to phrase it so it doesn’t sound like you are asking him to reverse the decision.

      I’ve told this story before, but when I was working in academic administration and helping a hiring committee with filling a kind of tricky admin position, the committee couldn’t figure out why HR kept forwarding candidates that weren’t right. Until one of the committee members asked someone they knew was the kind of candidate we wanted to apply — and that candidate got rejected by HR. Turned out, HR had put in the exact opposite of the criteria the committee had asked for (so everything the committee told them we DID want for the position, they were actually screening OUT). So it’s always worth a very polite notification to the person who wanted you to apply just in case something has gone wrong in the system.

  22. Sidelined*

    Does anyone have any advice for dealing with a manager that likes to hijack meetings with her own (work-related, but either irrelevant, redundant, or sometimes just incorrect) remarks?

    I had two back to back meetings yesterday where I was either project or meeting lead and had her butt in part way through and then not stop to give me airtime until the last few minutes, which meant we didn’t accomplish any of the work that the meetings are intended for (the first meeting felt especially frustrating because this was the second week in a row on that project where this has occurred). In the first meeting I pushed back a bit and made several attempts to refocus on the task but she would just pick right up again. By the second meeting I was feeling more frustrated and only chimed in to correct some false information she gave (out loud, if I could get a word in, or in our chat channel, if not).

    I have spoken to this manager before about this tendency of hers framing it as “hey I notice you tend to take lead on meeting I am already leading or restate information that I’ve already given in meetings, what’s up?” She seemed really receptive to that feedback at the time saying it was something she was unaware of but could recognize as a problem. Things improved somewhat from there but yesterday was such a backslide in that behaviour and I feel like I looked really unprofessional in front my other colleagues in the meeting (sidebar: I wish the other people in the meeting would speak up! She’s my direct supervisor so it’s somewhat hard for me to standup for myself against her, but she’s not theirs!)

    1. T. Wanderer*

      Since you’ve talked to her about it before and she’s been receptive, I’d go back to her today or Monday. “Hey [Manager], I wanted to bring something up. We’ve talked before about times you unintentionally take over meetings I’m running — that happened again with [these meetings], and I had trouble refocusing the meeting. What are some ways I can signal that to you in the future?”

      Maybe you can set up a private-chat keyword with her?

      1. Sidelined*

        This is probably what I’m going to have to do but I admit it makes nervous. The previous conversation felt like I could phrase it gently enough that I wasn’t specifically calling out a failing of hers, but this would have to be more pointed I think.

        1. T. Wanderer*

          It’s scary to point out something like this to your supervisor! If it helps, in this conversation try mentally assigning her a “coworker hat” instead of a “supervisor hat”. This is a collaborative effort — you BOTH want more effective meetings, and by figuring out preventative measures you’re working together with her to do that.

    2. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      Is it possible to have some or part of these meetings without her? Like “oh, I don’t want to waste your valuable time so I’ll fill you in after” or something?

      1. Sidelined*

        Unfortunately she’s a bit too integral to be left out of the meetings (though she does often arrive late and then make us recap everything she missed).
        The last time she was on vacation I remember joking with my partner that we could finally have a productive meeting.

        1. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

          Could you hold a meeting with the other stakeholders first, get everything to the point where all you need is your manager’s input , and then go to her bilaterally instead of inviting her into a group space?

          You could also frame it as asking for advice. Like “I’m having a hard time keeping this project on track because I haven’t been able to get X decision/Y action item/Z input out of this meeting. Do you have any suggestions for how I could fix that?” that also focused on the deliverable you need instead of the behavior she’s exhibiting, which is more likely to elicit “collaborative problem solving” feedback.

    3. Ama*

      I’m so sorry she sounds a lot like my husband’s former boss — we both work from home so I would sometimes overhear the boss rambling in meetings and I used to tell him that I didn’t even know what the meeting was about and I could tell that boss was just going around in a circle and not getting anywhere.

      If it is any consolation, I’m sure your colleagues are fully aware this is a Boss problem not a You problem — they probably aren’t intervening *because* she is your boss and it feels weird to them to tell your boss she shouldn’t interrupt you. (Although do any of the people in the meeting have seniority to your Boss? Because maybe you could ask them to help you with keeping things on track.)

      If you do not have written agendas for these meetings, you can try that — sometimes I find it is easier to redirect a meeting that’s gone off on a tangent by being able to say “ok I’m going to stop us there because we really need to get to these next items before the meeting is over, if we have time we’ll come back to this later.”

  23. Unkempt Flatware*

    A letter this week where Allison said the boss was doing a lot of emotional labor for her employee made me realize what my boss is trying to get out of me is emotional labor for him.

    I’ve written here before about how he calls me into his office and I watch while he sits and stares out into the ether in total silence. He says this is brainstorming. I’m now realizing he needs a lot of help managing his emotions. After every public meeting, he needs at least an hour of my time to discuss his feelings. Never our actual work, just his feelings. He calls in a fit needing to be talked down a lot. I can’t see him doing this with a man. I hate it.

    Recently, while I was sorting his emails for a public records request, I found that he had been forwarding all my predecessor’s PIP information and all personnel records to his wife. We work for a government agency. I think he’s just way out of his element. I have got to get the hell out.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      That is terrible. The records forwarding is most likely illegal or (at least) against policy.

      Is there a way that you can arrange to have meetings/appointments during the time this is likely to happen? (Won’t solve the problem, but could help you a bit.) Or call in the rest of the team for the “debrief”? (Why suffer alone?)

      1. Unkempt Flatware*

        Thanks for the reply. I had no idea how bad it seemed from the outside. He actually does call the whole team in. A team of three women. One is an admin assistant. We have to make his decisions with him as a complete unit or he cannot make a decision. He’s the executive director.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          OMG, leave yesterday. That is an insane amount of hand holding an adult who should be able to handle the basics of his job, PLUS that ringamarole with sending information to an outside party, if not flat out illegal, shows such terrible judgement I honestly couldn’t justify working for the man.

    2. Warrant Officer Georgiana Breakspear-Goldfinch*

      HOLY BANANAS, yes, get out of there, report him to whatever ethics ombudsperson you have on the way out.

    3. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

      The emailing of HR documents outside of the organization (let alone to unauthorized individuals) is shady as hell. Depending on what’s in those files (e.g., predecessor’s SSN?), he’s probably violating the Privacy Act (assuming you are in the US and are working for federal government). You really should find a way to report that.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        If you’re federal, there is a reporting option for failure to protect or misuse of personally identifiable information, and I’m pretty sure this qualifies.

        I would make up any excuse to cut these vent sessions off and leave – pressing deadline, urgent need to use the bathroom, suddenly remembering to make a time-sensitive phone call. If that’s not effective, don’t let him just sit in silence, pepper him with questions about his problems, such as “what are you going to do about it?” and if/when he can’t answer, use that as your cue to say “hmm that’s tough, I’m afraid I’m out of recommendations, and I have some work I need to get back to.” If he’s using you (and the other women) as an emotional crutch, at least make it painful for him.

    4. Purely Allegorical*

      You need to report his forwarding of the PII / records immediately. That is flat-out illegal. Gov agencies have trainings on this all the time, esp if you’re in any type of role that requires a clearance.

  24. GIF*

    I feel like in every office there’s one person who insists on pushing the boundaries of familiarity despite the general consensus otherwise. In my current office we have “Jane,” who campaigned hard for mandatory karaoke at our latest work conference, constantly puts out food (even if it’s expired and opened from her own pantry) in the kitchen, and likes to begin meetings with an original rhyming poem about the topic at hand. At my previous office “Sally” would do things like go way overboard decorating and insisting we decorate our offices for the holidays, and begged for a toaster oven in the break room and tried to force everyone to bake cookies with her in it. At both of these work places everyone else was comfortable adhering to a very buttoned-up, corporate atmosphere. Jane is still at my office but Sally ultimately quit, in part citing a potluck no one signed up for because none of us cook.

    1. Bruneschelli*

      Some song suggestions for mandatory karaoke:
      Quit Your Job. Thundamentals.
      The Job That Ate My Brain. Ramones.
      Don’t Talk to Me About Work. Lou Reed.
      This Job Is Killing Me. The Walkmen.
      Take This Job and Shove It. David Allan Coe

    2. Happily Retired*

      I think you may have to resort to Alison’s frequent advice to regard these people as if you were an anthropologist studying someone from a fascinating (and rare) newly discovered society.

    3. HalJordan*

      Belated, but a breezy, “Not my thing, thanks!” might be enough for the constant food / karaoke-recruiting—for the poems, can you talk to whoever runs the meetings and see if they can redirect? (If Jane is running them and has authority, you have a different problem.)

      And in general, say to yourself “Life is a rich tapestry” and/or stockpile stories of the overreaches.

  25. 2.2 GPA*

    Posting “anonymously” for privacy….

    Anyone struggle in undergraduate, and still successfully go on to graduate school? Or just be successful in their field but not following the conventional order of things?

    Im a tax accountant. I finished college in 2009 with a degree in English and minor in accounting. My plan was to take a break and then go back to school for a second bachelor’s degree in accounting which would have taken only about 2 semesters since I had enough credits; unfortunately my application to reapply to my alma mater for a second degree was rejected and that door was closed to me. Eventually I got my foot in the door, and have been working in tax/accounting since 2011 in various positions and firms.

    Fast forward to now, I learned that I can, in fact, sit for the CPA exams. Not being able to go back to school to get the degree killed the idea of my ever taking the test. But I just learned that I can take the exam and then take classes to fulfill the education requirement. This sequence is really important.

    The best way I can explain it is that I knew this mountain existed, but it was somewhere I would never access it. Well now, this mountain is in my view. But….it’s still a mountain yanno? I never thought this would even be possible for me but now it is and…..it’s a bit overwhelming.

    Career wise, I’ve never been ambitious; I just wanted to earn enough to live a good life. I’ve always been open about not having an accounting degree, and aware of the limitations but up until recently, I’ve always felt insecure about not having it either. I’m scared of going back to school; my grades were atrocious the first time around and it took me 6-7 years to finish up my coursework and I don’t know if I could even get admission to any college for a graduate program with my grades.

    1. Bacu1a*

      This was my brother, he struggled during undergrad but excelled at graduate school. He took several years off in between and his graduate degree is in a different field than his undergrad. He went part time to grad school (his job paid for part of it) and did a lot better taking one class at a time rather than multiple subjects at once. Working for a few years also gave him more confidence going into grad school.

      1. Anecdata*

        Does having this degree open up career opportunities you want and can’t get otherwise? I wouldn’t go to grad school just because you feel like you “should” have an accounting degree, and unfortunately a lot of masters programs don’t really pay off in a lot of fields (but you’ll know much better than me if accounting is one of them)

        But to the meat of your question – yes, absolutely, you can do well in grad school. I would spend some time thinking about why undergrad was hard for you. It might be worth looking into some adult ADHD/executive functioning/developing coping strategies/etc testing if you think that might have been a factor for you in undergrad

        1. 2.2 GPA*

          I would need to go back to school in order to complete the education requirements for the license. The required credits are usually at a masters-level.

          Usually the sequence of events is:
          1. get the Bachelors/Masters (a lot of schools have combined programs)
          2. work and take the exam
          3. get license.

          This was my understanding. But now I’m finding out that I can do step 2 first, then step 1 to get to step 3.

          And yes you’re spot on about ADHD etc. I do have ADHD and I am taking medication and in therapy for it.

        2. HE Admin*

          In this particular case, OP wants to sit for the CPA, which requires 150 credit hours of coursework, with a certain number of those being accounting-specific. As OP has an undergraduate degree, they already at least 120 credit hours so need 30 more. You can do a lot of Masters of Accounting programs in 30 credits, particularly as OP had an accounting minor and so has probably met some prereqs that are common. This is a case where just getting the degree can make sense…otherwise you’re going to have to 30 credit hours of courses anyway and not get a degree out of it, for the same cost. They could also take courses specific to their areas that really can trigger job openings; someone with completed coursework in forensic accounting and a CPA is a lot more likely to get a forensic accounting job than someone with a CPA but not the forensic coursework.

    2. YNWA*

      Yep. I graduated with a 2.5 for BA went on to complete an MA and a PhD. I only ever made Dean’s list once and that was in my MA program. I’m now a college professor.

      I was one of those who didn’t go to class if I was bored with the material or the instructor and I didn’t need to go to my lit classes because I’d read the books before in most cases.

      1. 2.2 GPA*

        How much did your grades factor into getting the MA/PhD? I’m worried about the grades, even though 11 years have passed since I was rejected.

        1. YNWA*

          My undergrad GPA didn’t affect me at all. And by the time I went for the PhD, I had a more respectable 3.4 (or something). They’re looking at so much more than just your grades at that level.

        2. Sparkle Llama*

          You could try talking to the admissions staff at a school or two that you are interested in. Perhaps framing as this is my education and experience, would it be worth applying now or should I take a year to do something to improve my application and what would that be?

          I wonder if it would be worth taking a class or two as a non degree seeking student to show that you are able to be more successful academically now. But that can be expensive unless done at a community college which may or may not have classes available that could help you.

      1. 2.2 GPA*

        Kind of. It’s my first year at my current company. I think my pay is fair for now but I know with earning that license, it could be much better.

    3. Jojo*

      If you can afford to do it, it’s worth at least trying this, even if you’re happy in your current position/status and feel you don’t need it. I struggled in academic environments and dropped out before my bachelor’s, and for the jobs I’ve worked it’s been no issue whatsoever, because I have the skills.

      Still, I wish I had more formal qualifications to prove a certain education level, because the lack of them is throwing up a hurdle I didn’t have when I was younger: I moved countries in my twenties and having only vocational training and an associate’s degree was enough, because I was seen as young and fresh, and while I did have to take a couple of steps down the career ladder initially, I caught up and was back on my previous career level within two years after moving countries.

      Now that I’m older, I can no longer rely on youthfulness and the experience I’ve gained is not so transferrable to another country, it seems. Not having the formal bachelor’s or master’s degree makes me unattractive/less attractive; even if I don’t need them to get a working visa, I’m still not attractive enough to prospective workplaces. Workplaces in my current country also don’t seem particularly keen on anyone seeking a career switch without formal proof of a certain minimum education level (even if that level was attained in a different field, they still seem to want it).

      I don’t have the finances or enough free time available to gain those formal qualifications or certifications, but if I did, I would jump at the opportunity. Because the lack of them is clearly hampering further growth for me and with decades to go before retirement age, that’s a daunting prospect.

    4. Former Retail Manager*

      Before we get to your real question, I have follow-up questions….from a fellow non-CPA tax accountant.
      1. Most states require 150 credit hours before you can register to sit for the CPA exam. I realize there are a few exception states that will allow you to sit with only a Bachelor’s. Have you confirmed that you are in one of those exception states?
      2. Have you submitted all of your prior transcripts to the State Board of the state in which you wish to become licensed to have the transcripts evaluated, and has the state board confirmed that you are indeed eligible to sit for the CPA exam in your current situation? If so, I’d want that in writing, versus a phone call.

      And now maybe some more questions to ask yourself…
      3. What is your ultimate goal in getting your CPA and Master’s? Is it to make more money? Can you make that money without further education?
      4. Have you considered sitting for the Enrolled Agent test, getting that credential, and potentially doing some work on the side that may be able to turn into your own practice eventually?
      5. If it took you 6-7 years to finish a Bachelor’s with a 2.2 GPA, has anything in your life changed since then that would allow you to perform at a higher level and finish school more quickly now? For example, if you were dealing with an ill family member, personal issues, etc while in undergrad, that might explain the time it took, but if none of those factors were present, and you are just not that motivated, then is that still who you are?
      6. How are you paying for this school? Out of pocket or loans? If you are using loans to pay for school, and it takes you another 4-5 years to finish, how much will you owe at that time and will the expected earnings after achieving this allow you to pay off that debt quickly?
      7. Without knowing exactly what size business you work for, and whether you are govt, nonprofit, or private enterprise, it’s hard to say how a CPA certification will impact your future career. While it won’t ever hurt, it also may not be the golden ticket that you believe it to be. If you plan to continue working for someone else, as opposed to being self-employed, there is a cap on how much you can realistically make.

      If you do decide to return to school, I’m sure there is a graduate program out there that will take you. I would make sure they are reputable (many online programs are not) and I would talk to someone at the school before you ever spend any time or money to apply. A personal story can be the deciding factor in some cases. Also, you should be aware that many Master’s in Accounting or Taxation programs require students to maintain a 3.0 GPA.

      My personal opinion is that on-the-job experience and proven performance are worth more than a piece of paper. If you are performing well in your current position, I’d focus on requesting to expand your duties at your current job and consider potentially freelancing on the side. In 3-5 years, with a lot of hard work, you could easily have enough clients for your own bookkeeping and tax practoce assuming that you possess the current knowledge to do so now.

      1. 2.2 GPA*

        2. Have you submitted all of your prior transcripts to the State Board of the state in which you wish to become licensed to have the transcripts evaluated, and has the state board confirmed that you are indeed eligible to sit for the CPA exam in your current situation? If so, I’d want that in writing, versus a phone call.

        Not yet – this is all very very new so still in the “thinking” stages. But this is a good place to start, so thank you! Honestly – if I’m not even eligible to sit for the exam then everything is moot from here on out!

        1. 2.2 GPA*

          I didn’t mean to ignore these but:

            4. Have you considered sitting for the Enrolled Agent test, getting that credential, and potentially doing some work on the side that may be able to turn into your own practice eventually? 

          I have my EA license – that’s what helped me get my foot in the door a decade ago. I have tried freelancing and honestly, I hate it. I’ve no intention of owning my own business. 

          5. If it took you 6-7 years to finish a Bachelor’s with a 2.2 GPA, has anything in your life changed since then that would allow you to perform at a higher level and finish school more quickly now? For example, if you were dealing with an ill family member, personal issues, etc while in undergrad, that might explain the time it took, but if none of those factors were present, and you are just not that motivated, then is that still who you are? This would be worth exploring. Simplest answer is that I just had no direction or focus at that time. I let too many things distract me. I’m now married with a child, medicated, and I like to think I am more responsible, mature, and focused…but I still struggle with feelings of anxiety, lack of focus etc. I am in regular talk therapy but I’m not sure how much they would help with this specific thing. I mean, I don’t expect my therapist to know my industry in detail, and it definitely doesn’t seem appropriate to speak about the emotional/mental side with the ones who do know about this profession (coworkers, former colleagues etc)…so I’m a little stumped with that. 

            7. Without knowing exactly what size business you work for, and whether you are govt, nonprofit, or private enterprise, it’s hard to say how a CPA certification will impact your future career. While it won’t ever hurt, it also may not be the golden ticket that you believe it to be. If you plan to continue working for someone else, as opposed to being self-employed, there is a cap on how much you can realistically make.

          I’m at a mid-size CPA firm, public accounting. I have no desire or intention to be self-employed. But this can be something I can talk about with my boss….

    5. cleo*

      This was my dad. He really struggled in undergad and graduated with a 2. something GPA. Twenty years later he went to grad school (in the same sub field of engineering). He had some trouble getting into the program because of his GPA but managed to get accepted based on his work experience (and probably some good luck – which was probably more common in the 80s). But he did well enough in grad school, much much better than he did in undergrad and went on to have a very successful career as a research engineer – he published a lot and even served on thesis committees for other grad students.

    6. Chicago Anon*

      You may or may not already know this, but some universities will let you take a few classes as a “student at large” (or some similar term, meaning not enrolled in a degree program). This can be a way to establish a track record of performing well in school now that you’re older/ more motivated / medicated / better equipped with coping strategies (pick whatever applies). If you can do this and get good grades in a couple of classes, then you apply to your degree program with these recent successes to demonstrate to the admissions committee that your undergrad GPA is not a good predictor for your future performance.

    7. Full Time Fabulous*

      I was a C+ accounting student in undergrad but then an A student throughout grad school. I recently finished my CPA license as well. Having an accounting degree is not required but it does help in terms of meeting the CPA licensure requirements at least for my state. I would encourage you to decide if the CPA license is your goal and if so, look at what the specific requirements are for your state in terms of total credit hours, business credit hours, and accounting credit hours. This will help you make some decisions about next steps. Good luck!

    8. HE Admin*

      Hello! I work in administering business masters programs, including accounting. At my institution, for graduate applicants who are not coming straight in from undergrad, a solid work history and recommendation letter can do a lot of offset a shaky undergraduate GPA. But what can really tip it over is there’s an essay portion where you can explain anything you feel like is a weakness in your application, why that no longer applies, etc.

    9. MyBiteyPups*

      I’m a CPA in industry and had a non-traditional path to get here. Associates degree in a science related field followed years later by a bachelors in accounting. I worked at a CPA firm for a few years after my accounting degree, then moved into industry. For my state, the graduate degree was not required because I had more than 150 hours without it, making me eligible to sit for the exam.
      I want to say, also, that the CPA exams are as hard as they are reputed to be. As someone who was typically a very good test taker, I had to buckle down and study, A LOT, to pass. I know the test format is changing in the near future, but its something to think about. The post above by Former Retail Manager has some great ideas on what to think about before solidifying your plan. The tests will likely be as big or a bigger challenge than grad school, especially if you’re not highly motivated.

      1. 2.2 GPA*

        Thank you for sharing. I’ve bookmarked their comment. The test is the first hurdle. If I fail that then everything else becomes moot.

    10. Thunder Kitten*

      You are not the same person you were when you started your undergrad the first time around. you’re wiser, and know exactly what you want from your degree.

      That being said, have your plan set up before you start… how long would you take to prep for the exam ? Book a test date – if you wait till you’re ready, you’ll never feel ready enough. when you go back to school, which school ? what admission requirements, what’s the cost ? scheduling of classes around work ? childcare? do you have support (logistical, emotional, etc) ?

      I went back to school in my late 30s. it was hard, but one step in front of the other. The first step is the scariest. If this is something you want, I’m rooting for you.

    11. Cruciatus*

      I don’t know if this is helpful at all, but I can just say what my dad did. He had a BA already but went back to school in his late 30s to get a BS in Accounting at a local college. And his struggle was actually the CPA exams. It took him many tries to get 75 on that legal part–but eventually he did! He was a CPA for 40+ years (self-employed). My nephew just graduated with a BS in Accounting and is using the summer to study for his CPA exams and hopes to take at least 2 sections before he starts his job in October (where he will be making more than me, just starting out, at like $55,000). He has no interest in getting a MA/MS (or whatever an accounting graduate degree is called) because he doesn’t see the need for it. Would getting a BS degree feel like less pressure than a MS (if you feel like you really need to make this next move)?

    12. carcinization*

      I think my undergrad GPA was a 2.78? Granted, this was 20 years ago. But, I did get into graduate school and got an MS, and I’ve been working in the pertinent field full-time since 2007. In my case, I went to a small private Christian university that was still accredited by the appropriate state and national governing bodies for my profession… small as in my graduate cohort in my major was 4 students including me, though now the program has grown so it’s 15-20 students in a cohort these days. Please note that I am not a religious person (at least not traditionally), so it was a bit of culture shock, but it worked for me!

      1. carcinization*

        Oh, and my graduate school gpa was a 3.75… as in, I made one B the whole time.

  26. Thoughtfully Anon*

    Hey, so I’m going through some new/evolving mental health challenges and burnout at work is either a symptom or contributing factor. I’m really struggling with executive function, concentration, fatigue, and emotional disregulation. Thankfully, I have not been weepy at work (although I’ve had a few close calls) but I am constantly dealing with a sense of overwhelm and doom.

    My boss has historically been *very* terrible about ADA accommodations for physical disabilities, and had a horribly insulting response when I unintentionally disclosed my PTSD 3 years ago. But Boss has made some marked and sustained improvements in overall management/communication in the last several months.

    I am mostly comfortable casually flagging for Boss that there may be some weirdness as my doctor and I sort out a new medication. But I’m struggling with identifying whether it’s worth seeking other accommodations and what might be beneficial to ask for if I do, whether formal or informal. I *definitely* do not plan to disclose or confirm the specifics of my diagnosis and would like to keep any dialogue focused on work related impacts/symptoms. Anyone have suggestions/insight?

    1. ferrina*

      I’m so sorry! If you talk to Boss, I’d also recommend talking to HR. Get it done in one fell swoop to have ADA accommodations. Talk to your doctor about what this might look like. It sounds like your Boss may react badly one way or another, and that’s illegal. You may need additional resources (HR and possibly a lawyer) to bring your boss in line. It sounds like your boss may have already violated ADA with your PTSD (IANAL, so check with the pros) Start laying the groundwork in case things go wrong.

      That said….do you need to tell your boss anything? Has your boss noticed or said anything? Are you able to skate by on mediocre performance? This may be one conversation that is better not having; you’re allowed to not disclose things to people who have proven themselves unsafe (or anyone, really. But especially people who are unsafe).

      1. Jojo*

        Here to back up Ferrina’s contribution, because Boss sounds like someone who may not be well equipped to trust them with the details of your diagnosis/diagnoses, whereas HR should be beyond familiar with the subject of workplace accommodations while also having a duty* to you to not disclose any specifics to Boss without your explicit permission. (*Even if in your specific location they have no formal legal duty, there is always an ethical duty you should be able to expect from HR)

        1. Thoughtfully Anon*

          Thanks. Unfortunately our HR coordinator has proven to be incompetent and harmful in other sensitive situations, and part of that is likely down to not having the training/support they need. (We used to have an HR manager, but we’ve been unable to hire a qualified replacement since the last one left.) We’re getting a new HR/Finance VP soon, so if it becomes necessary I’ll work with my doctor and try to loop the new person in if I can.

      2. Thoughtfully Anon*

        I was looking for a gut check, especially since I’m not trusting myself much right now for obvious reasons. I appreciate you pointing out that it’s okay to skate by for now, especially if Boss hasn’t brought anything up. And the reminder that I don’t owe unsafe people information was timely and needed. Seriously – thanks for the validation/reality check.

        I’ve been feeling guilty and beating up on myself for not doing the amount/quality of my work that I’m used to, but what I have been able to do hasn’t caused any issues so far and I’ll try to focus more on that side while I get the rest of things under control.

    2. Hazel*

      My understanding based on my workplace is that you do not owe HR or your boss a specific diagnosis or details of a condition, just a request for specific accommodations at work based on a condition. So a doctor’s note might say ‘my recommendation is that this patient requires a workspace with natural daylight or controllable LEDs not fluorescent lights’. Work doesn’t need to know if it is an eyesight, migraine or depressive disorder, or at least only in extremely general terms. So check out accommodations rules where you are and don’t give them ammo where you don’t need to.

      1. YouNeedToDiscloseInfo*

        This has not been the case any time I’ve formally requested accommodations (at several companies of different sizes/in different industries). The starting point is usually an exact diagnosis, paperwork (usually but not always from a doctor) about specifically why that condition causes me to be unable to X and Y the default way, and sometimes a few other supporting medical details. This information is used to determine if they will engage in accommodation discussions. Only once they decide yes can I make specific accommodation requests for them to consider/otherwise engage in discussions about what to do.

  27. Sandwiches*

    just need to vent – I probably posted here last year when our new mat leave replacement was hired and my colleagues didn’t want to put together a proper training plan for him (among other problems.) I spoke up about what I thought was going wrong and what the consequences would be. My boss half-listened to me. My colleagues didn’t listen at all. Ultimately I washed my hands of it because I didn’t want to have to clean up their messes.
    Fast-forward to 10-11 months later and the S has hit the fan. Almost everything that has gone wrong is stuff I spoke up about. The few solutions we have are all things I suggested we do last year.
    It’s just frustrating that I tried to avoid this exact situation and now I’m in it.

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

      I would just try and do whatever you can but realize that this is out of your hands. If anyone says anything like “why didnt we do X? Or who knew Y would happen” calmly state that you did bring this up to everyone’s attention and was ignored.

    2. MsSolo (UK)*

      Frustrating! I find when something like that happens, the best thing I can do is cherry pick elements that don’t sounds too “I told you so” and create a STAR narrative I can use in interviews for questions like “a time something went wrong at work”, e.g. “S – expressed concerns but was unable to put a proactive plan in place due to imminent mat leave, T – went on mat leave, things went wrong, A – actioned clean up plan I left, R – damage was mitigated to X extent”.

      1. SnappinTerrapin*

        Once upon a time, many years ago, after a controversy went all the way to the State Supreme Court, which ruled in our agency’s favor because of some precautions I took, I had a boss say, “We could have avoided that litigation entirely, if we had followed your advice in the first place.”

        Once in a lifetime, though.

  28. Bunny Girl*

    Okay I have a question regarding some of the applications that I have been filling out lately when it comes to the sections about disabilities. I have two of the conditions that are listed in the section regarding disabilities. They are fairly well controlled and I have never asked for formal accommodations for them though with any of my jobs, although that could change. I don’t really feel comfortable marking “yes I have a disability” on those questions for reasons I can’t really describe, but I also don’t feel comfortable marking “no” because in the future I might need to ask for some small accommodations. I have just been marking “decline to answer.”

    Anyone have any advice?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      If you need to have accommodations especially in the interview process (or if its the reason for work gaps) it makes sense to share on application. (Accommodations that you’d want to discuss before accepting an offer – like if you have migraines with scent and need private office you’d be disclosing that to make sure it’s possible before accepting offer). Or if it’s especially visible and you want to give the interviewers a heads up (wheelchair, they can make sure table has a open spot). Otherwise I wouldn’t.

    2. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

      I think it’s incredibly unlikely that in the future, anyone would go back to your application and see that you marked “no” – and even if they did (which would be super weird), things change with people! People’s health changes, new conditions develop, and sometimes it takes awhile for ongoing conditions to be correctly diagnosed. I think you would be fine marking whatever sits right with you.

    3. Educator*

      These questions don’t usually get considered with your application—at all the places I have hired, they are just for HR’s reporting, not for the hiring manager’s eyes.

      That said, I am in a similar boat and I always decline to answer. That leaves the door open if I need to ask for an accommodation later, but it protects me from sharing more of my health history than I want to in a professional context. I’ve always felt uncomfortable with this question because I don’t like the deficit-focused framing.

    4. WantonSeedStitch*

      I think “decline to answer” is the best option here. I would NOT mention any kind of disabilities during the application process. You don’t want to create the potential for bias.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        That’s where I’m leaning. Especially because the field I’m going into is generally very physical. I just don’t want it to be considered.

    5. The Shenanigans*

      I always hesitate to put “decline to answer” because I always feel like it’s a gotcha “I plead the fifth” kind of answer. But its also possible I’m entirely overthinking that. I just put no, and have never had any problems.

      1. feline outerwear catalog*

        I’ve heard that data goes to the feds, so if it helps, think of it as identity theft protection.

    6. RagingADHD*

      I always mark “decline to answer” on everything except veteran status. Because I have zero trust that that that information will be kept separate or used appropriately.

    7. Nightengale*

      Those questions should be for record keeping purposes and will not be seen by people who interview you, may someday work with you or who might be involved later on if you request accommodations. There would be no impact on future accommodation needs if you select “no.”

      They ask applicants about disabilities at this stage to track the % of applicants who have disabilities and the % of professionals for government programs and other analyses. Generally this information is required to be kept separately from any part of the application that is shared with the hiring team.

      If an application asks if a person needs an accommodation for an interview, that would be different and of course that information should be shared with the hiring team so they can make sure the room is accessible, they have an ASL interpreter, questions in advance or whatever.

    8. IdentifyIfYouCan*

      You should fill those out honestly if you can/it won’t cause you stress to do so. They’re not about accommodations, they’re separately tracked data (not submitted to HR/hiring manager) required by the federal government to track aggregate employment data about people with disabilities. The data gathered is used in various federal programs designed to help disabled individuals find/do work and determine funding for these programs. If the numbers are artificially low it can reduce that funding.

  29. Warrant Officer Georgiana Breakspear-Goldfinch*

    I have a conference next week, and I will be staying in an on-campus dorm suite with some other attendees, including a coworker (yes, we’re in academia). Does anyone have tips for how to balance “professional” with “I have been pretending to be an extrovert for six hours and I need to put on sweatpants and be a blanket burrito for a while”?

    Also, we have a kitchenette, and I’m a little flummoxed about how to handle expenses for groceries, anyone have experience with this?

    1. lost academic*

      Ask your department accountant about the expenses for irregular meals like that. Sometimes it’s a little different. You can always just plan to ignore the kitchenette and act as if you were at a regular hotel for the conference where you’d just be expensing meals or doing a per diem.

      The suites I’ve seen in many modern dorms have separate bedrooms, shared bathrooms, a living room, so you really just need to decide on how you’re going to handle yourself in the shared spaces. If you need to unplug, go in your room and close the door.

    2. Whomst*

      I would imagine that the majority of academics understand that you need to have time to decompress after being around people all day – they presumably have experience teaching and/or are introverts themselves.

      As for groceries, I’d treat it like any other roommate situation – you can share food if you’ve got a good relationship and work out what that entails, or you just buy your own stuff. I’d check with whoever is arranging travel to see how they expense meals to see if they’ll cover shared groceries. My organization just gives people a set amount of money per meal while on travel, but others want receipts and specifics.

    3. NotAHotMess(Yet)*

      Are you sharing a suite (where you have a private room to sleep and shared common spaces) or are you sharing a room with someone else in a shared suite?

      If the former, I’d say something like, “I’m going to review and clean up my notes from the conference, then relax for awhile” and then retreat to the bedroom, closed door, to blanket burrito.

      If the latter, that’s trickier – I would probably say something kind of like: “I need a bit to decompress! I’m going to read for a bit in the bedroom.” and have noise-cancelling headphones to put on (no music, just to signal you’re not up for a chat).

      For groceries, I’d just buy what I wanted or needed for myself and let others fend for themselves.

    4. Seahorse*

      Conferences are exhausting – and I say that as someone who typically enjoys them. Be a burrito! It’s fine to decline doing extras in the evening (or whenever) and to claim some time for yourself. Ideally, if you communicate that up front to your coworker, they’ll understand and give you space. They might even be worried about the same thing. You won’t get much from the sessions if you’re exhausted and need to recharge though.

      If there’s a stretch during the day where none of the sessions look especially interesting, skip them and find a nice quiet place away from everyone. If the weather is nice, explore the campus. I’ve found that making breaks during the days gives me more energy if I need / want to do something with coworkers in the evening. Depending on the length of the conference, I also start sleeping in instead of going to early morning sessions by day three.

      Prioritize a handful a sessions or activities every day (including your own if you’re presenting), and save your energy for those. Otherwise, take breaks when you need them. Find a nice spot near the main event area that you can retreat to for shorter moments of quiet. Don’t feel obligated to attend every single networking opportunity or actively participate all day.

      Food expenses depend on your institution, and reimbursements can get weird, so figure out that process before you go. I’ve bought groceries for myself and submitted receipts before, and nobody thought that was odd or gave me trouble for it.

    5. Squidhead*

      My college campus (long ago) hosted summer conferences and the attendees used the dining halls. It’s worth finding out if this is an option or expectation. Otherwise I’d definitely ask for more details about this kitchenette: are there utensils? Plates and bowls? Pots and pans? I used to re-locate for the summer and it’s so complicated to actually *cook* in a remote location (you need spices and butter/oil and condiments and knives and cutting boards and storage containers etc…)! I would want to either eat out all week (with reimbursement) or plan very specifically for food that is pre-prepared and only needs assembly/warming up.

      I think attendees also had access to some other campus amenities such as the gym, pool, chapel, museum, and library, which (if available) could all be good places to separate yourself from the group for a while.

  30. Qwerty*

    Turns out my professional wardrobe is only suitable for fall/winter. Help on affordable/cheap hot weather versions that can still handle if the AC is on too high?

    The style I’m aiming for is business-adjacent or business-inspired because it is about how the clothes make me feel rather than meeting a dress code. I am having more in-person meetings with higher-ups and in-person networking events with important people lately. I look super young and talk to dudes who are 6ft so the businessy clothes make me feel more confident and give me more of a presence, but I try not to look like I’m on my way to an interview.

    Part of my issue is that my body type is more “Misses” than “Womens” but the Misses department in stores seems to have disappeared. Wearing the boxy styles currently in fashion make me look like a kid in my mom’s clothing. I’m on the skinny side (B to C cup, 25in waist, 32in hip, but legs with muscle/fat) so I’ve mostly been limited to the juniors section of Marshalls. I’m not interested in dresses, business-me is a pants person.

    Jackets – I have one lightweight long sleeve black blazor that I’m wearing and look great in, no idea where I bought it. Are short sleeve blazors a thing and do they look good? Not commited to just suit blazors – my winter business wardrobe has jackets with structure or lovely draping, but are just too hot for summer.

    Pants – I have some Pixie pants from Old Navy in various black & white patterns that feel like “hipper” versions of dress pants. Open to other places since these are kinda old and it wouldn’t hurt to have some solid color nice pants.

    1. Bacu1a*

      I shop on Lands End frequently for elbow length or 3/4 length sleeve tops. They frequently have different items on super sale (even if their color selections can get a bit questionable). I also have a number of short sleeve sweaters, it’s like wearing a t-shirt but nicer. I do like the Pixie and Old Navy Stevie pants, I frequently wear tunic tops with the Stevie pants. I get pants from Lands End too, but I usually have to size up compared to Old Navy. Some of them are not so secretly sweat pants masquerading as work pants, so you need to be a bit careful (but they are all super comfortable).

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      Sheath dresses work with most body types (I am curvy, my sister is skinny – we both look great in a well-fitting sheath) & look professional & classic. They are often sleeveless but look good with a jacket or cardigan, and you can wear a variety of shoe styles with them.

      1. allathian*

        Possibly, but the OP said that their professional persona is a pants person, so dresses are out. Which I get, I’m not showing my varicose-veined, cellulite-ridden, and hairy (because I can’t be bothered to shave) legs in public if I can help it. At home I occasionally wear ankle-length skirts when it’s hot, but not if I’m expected to walk farther than to take out the trash and get the mail because chub rub is a problem I haven’t been able to solve yet.

        1. carcinization*

          Many companies make “chub rub shorts” to wear as undergarments, the only one I can think of off the top of my head is Snag Tights, but I have such shorts from various places.

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      Croft and Barrow brand from within store Kohls sometimes has shirts that fit that style. Lately its’ all weird capped sleeves or midrift baring at kohls tho, most their stuff doesn’t work. I’m blanking on the name but JCPenney has a decent brand too.

      1. Lyudie*

        I love those Croft and Barrow tshirt-esque tops. They’re comfy but nicer than regular tshirt and look good with slacks and skirts or under a blazer. They have new colors and patterns all the time.

    4. Chidi has a stomach ache*

      Short sleeve blazers tend to be very trendy, but I do regularly see more 3/4 sleeve blazers (sometimes with ruching along the sleeve). Getting one or two regular blazers in a lighter color and lighter fabric can be a good summer layering piece (Ann Taylor is where I would look — I’m similar in size to you and I’m also very short, but I have good luck with their petite sizes). Also, I used to use a lot of elbow-length, lightweight cotton cardigans in summer to layer.

      Banana Republic has a slim-cut pant similar to the Pixie. It’s slightly looser than the Pixie tends to be, but I prefer that in summer. If their main store prices are too high, they often have similar versions in their Factory store, though ymmv on quality (some factory items I wear for years and years, and some seams split the 3rd time I wear them).

    5. Policy Wonk*

      It is common where I work for women to wear basic color pants/tops – you can get those about anywhere – and finish it off with a jacket. Most have a range of colorful or muted prints to wear depending on the circumstance. Easy to build a wardrobe around that, and personalize it to your style. In my personal view short-sleeve blazers don’t look professional, but I’ve seen a lot of good 3/4 sleeved ones that do. Check thrift and consignment stores for lower-cost options.

    6. No Tribble At All*

      Short sleeve blazers are not a thing, unfortunately. There are lightweight blazers out there. If you’re comfortable without the blazer, you could go for just the blouse top from the suit/businesswear section. Many are sleeveless & have nice draping or structured fabric. Start at the buissnessy section of Kohls, or go to the suits section of Macy’s. Sometimes you can get tops < $30 on sale. Plus these usually aren't "trendy" tops, they're more classic, a la a v-neck or cowl-neck sleeveless blouse in jewel tones.

      1. Just here for the scripts*

        Respectfully, I believe you’re wrong. In fact I own three. And while I’ve had them for a while, I just googled “womens short sleeved blazers to buy” and got LOTS of results.

        1. No Tribble At All*

          I stand corrected! Fascinating, I don’t think I’ve ever seen these in stores. They truly are just blazers with short sleeves. Can I ask, what do you pair them with so you don’t end up looking like an old-timey sailor?

    7. Just here for the scripts*

      Misses clothing (and petite which depending on the company runs from 5’5″ and down) still exist–and I live in them! Lands End has real summer dresses (not only sundresses), tops and skirts–and you can add a sweater or jacket against the air conditioning. So does LOFT and LOFT outlet (although their dresses are more sundress-y than I like, I’m currently wearing one now in NYC’s 90+ weather today). Also look at Chadwicks, Talbots, and AnnTaylor–all are currently have sales from 40% to an additional 40% on reduced stuff. Dressbarn too!

    8. Overeducated*

      If it’s summer but the AC is on, do you need jackets, or would button up shirts (3/4 or full sleeve) work? That’s my preference. If it’s cold enough for a jacket over a button up, I don’t see why your winter wardrobe would be inappropriate. If it’s more that your workplace is formal enough that a button up shirt on its own in the summer is too casual, well then, I’ll see myself out.

    9. Three Cats in a Trenchcoat*

      I would think about layering – can you find tops / pants in lighter weight fabrics (especially natural fabrics like cotton or linen) that you can throw a blazer or cardigan over at work? I’ve gotten linen pants from J Crew before, that paired with the right top / jacket hit a reasonable “business casual” feel.

      I also have some athletic fabric pants from Athleta that can pass for nice enough (especially in black), and are ideal for straddling that “I don’t want to melt on the way to work” line.

      Here is where I’ve had very good luck on thredup, as you can sort by fabric (not a perfect sort, but you can limit mostly cottons or mostly linens).

    10. Whomst*

      You know, I had always been a pants person, and I generally still am outside of work, but one summer I had surgery and skirts were just easier to wear and I discovered the joys of not wearing pants during hot weather. I have yet to find any equivalently comfortable but still business appropriate sort of pants that aren’t too hot.

      I’ll often include a light drapey cardigan in my summer work outfits to help mitigate when the AC is too high. I also like wearing solid color linen button ups, though if you’re not cool with being slightly wrinkled that’s probably too high maintenance.

    11. AnotherLibrarian*

      My go to places for “professional” clothing are Ann Taylor (or Loft, though it trends younger than I like), Talbots (trends older, but has lot of petite options) and J. Crew,. If you need less expensive options, JC Penney has decent professional clothing, as does Khols. I regularly recommend them to grad students needing to up their game. I’d recommend picking up a linen blazer or one in seersucker.

      1. Qwerty*

        How do you keep the linen blazor from looking wrinkly?? Love the idea of linen clothing but I’ve alwasy been warned away from it.

        1. AnotherLibrarian*

          Linen is going to wrinkle and you just have to accept that as the nature of Linen. I also take off the jacket if I am sitting in my office for a long period and put it back on when I am heading out to something else. I don’t mind that linen wrinkles- I feel like it’s just how linen is. However, your mileage may vary.

    12. colorguard*

      Last summer I solved my issue with Wool& dresses. Because they’re merino, they could handle the subway swelter and office AC, and they’re easy to dress up or down. I was never a dress person before, but I would wear bike shorts underneath and felt a lot more comfortable. Now that’s my office uniform, but with crops or tights depending on the weather. I actually learned about them from AAM because it’s the company that does the 100-day dress challenge.

    13. Cleo*

      Vests / waistcoats are one of my favorite ways to look professional and feel comfortable. They can used the same way as a jacket – throw one over a knit top or button down shirt and everything looks a little more polished.

      I’m also on the skinny side, with curves, and don’t look good in boxy tops – I like the vests that have that adjustable strap thing in the back to get a little more shape.

    14. Anonny*

      I can’t comment too much for pants (I tend to stick to colored jeans), but for tops and jackets, try Liz Claiborne at Penny’s. They’ve got a pretty good variety of fabrics, colors, and styles. I don’t personally care for most of their polyester or rayon tops (sleeveless ones being the exception), but I’ve found several cotton or cotton blends that are t-shirt fit but in a nicer texture and some short sleeved sweaters that I really like.
      (My one caveat with this brand is that while most of their tops fit similarly, occasionally I’ll come across a fit where my normal medium will fit me like an XL – but this has only happened a few times.) Good luck!

      1. pandamonium*

        I’m not sure about sizing since I wear a different one, but if the cardigans that are sort of like tshirt material but nicer are not too casual for you, I recently found short sleeve ones at Maurice’s. They sell a bunch of sizes but check the measurement chart for length, etc. I really like them over tank tops or lighter weight shirts.

  31. ABSC*

    For job seekers: For heaven’s sake, SUBMIT A COVER LETTER. I’m a hiring manager at a university, for a legal/compliance admin department where all the positions are well paid. Currently have 2 openings, and out of 30+ applicants, to date only about 3 have included a cover letter! It’s very evident and quite easy to upload resume, cover letter, etc. Our area of practice is fairly niche and requires experience, but the posted position description is very specific and a good cover letter that shows how experience outside of our area would translate to what we do will certainly get people interviews. A good cover letter would possibly have helped several that will probably not get a second look.

    1. lost academic*

      I agree and it should probably go unsaid, but there’s also something to be said for insuring that the application can’t be submitted without one.

      1. Bexx*

        We have our system set up to require a cover letter, but applicants just upload their resume twice.

        1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

          Seriously?! My automatic assumption would be that candidates don’t submit them because they think it’s optional / unimportant, but they can see it’s a requirement and are actively ignoring it. Which is really dumb!

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I’m glad you specified you’re hiring at a university. In some other industries, a cover letter is not necessary.

      1. The Shenanigans*

        Honest question: What industries are those? I’ve always uploaded cover letters because it can’t hurt and might help. Sure some hiring managers don’t like them but I figure some hiring managers don’t like that my work skirts are in colors other than blue and black. I’ll make myself crazy trying to anticipate arbitrary preferences, lol.

        Now, if the application says ‘Please don’t submit a cover letter’ that’s different.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          In the tech industry, it’s pretty standard to not need a cover letter.

    3. negligent apparitions*

      Feeling the same thing right now. Also a hiring manager at a university and while I’ll glance through the CVs without a cover letter, I instantly dock the application in my mind. All of the positions I hire require passable written communication skills and SOME attention to detail – there is a reason I ask for a cover letter!

    4. ecnaseener*

      Yes — if it’s not blatantly obvious how your experience translates to the job, do yourself a favor and tell us how it fits!!

    5. Bunny Watson*

      Our university has removed the cover letter requirement for all staff positions. Does the job posting say that one is required and they are not following instructions, or is there no requirement and you’re just frustrated that people should “know”? I’d suggest making the requirement clear or request a writing sample or something as part of the process if it’s that important to you.

    6. cardigarden*

      Do you follow up with candidates about missing cover letters? It’s possible that your system is eating them. Our instance of Workday has been known to do this.

      1. ABSC*

        Cover letters are not required. But I would think that candidates would want to do everything possible to give themselves an edge.

        1. Mid*

          Then frankly, you can’t be mad at people for not including one. If it’s something you want from them, you need to require it, or at least state that it’s strongly encouraged. Frankly, your job opening isn’t that special to most people applying. They’re likely applying to a dozen similar positions. Why should they make a cover letter for your job when it’s not required? This is a job seeker’s market in most industries. People aren’t desperately trying to win a company’s favor. You should be wanting to impress them.

          There are plenty of jobs where including a cover letter that wasn’t asked for would be a strike against an applicant.

          If you needed an applicant to be fluent in Portuguese, and didn’t list that as a job requirement, you couldn’t be mad when people applied without being fluent. You’re doing the same thing with a cover letter right now.

          You’re using a secret criteria to judge candidates, which can also lead to bias in hiring. To use the previous analogy, if you required fluency in Portuguese and didn’t list it as a requirement, but rejected everyone who wasn’t fluent, you’d be left with a group that’s very likely to be majority native Portuguese speakers, and excluding the majority of candidates who aren’t from Brazil and Portugal. (Plus a few other countries where Portuguese is spoken.) That means you have a bias in your hiring process, which also means you could be missing out on excellent candidates who could be a better fit for the role, but who didn’t know about the secret requirement for applying.

          All this to say: if you want cover letters, say so, or don’t hold it against people for not reading your mind.

        2. CatCat*

          To be honest, if cover letters aren’t required, it seems weird to be upset they weren’t included. Why not require one if you want one?

          I’m sure plenty of these people have learned that applying to a large bureaucratic organization is like throwing their applications into a black hole. A lot of this is a numbers game for job seekers and your jobs are not the only jobs. Your jobs may not even be a particularly high priority for these applicants. Why devote time on a cover letter that’s not even required? The market is speaking to you.

          You can communicate what it is you actually want: a cover letter. Or work with what you’ve got.

      2. Ama*

        Yup, or if your university is crossposting job listings to Indeed apparently it is very hard to figure out how to attach a cover letter (especially one specifically tailored to one particular job). I started just following up with people and asking them to submit one. You only have to do it once, if people really want the job they will send it and if they were just mass applying to a bunch of things they won’t.

    7. RagingADHD*

      If you want a cover letter, say so in the job listing. You are clearly screening out candidates who don’t submit one, so be honest and state that it is required.

      What is the point of keeping your criteria a secret, and then getting annoyed because people didn’t guess?

      What *you* think is obvious, clearly is not obvious. If it were, the majority would be doing it.

  32. Moosed*

    I am really bored at my job. I came from an understaffed, fast-paced office and was intentionally looking for somewhere slower-paced but I think I overcompensated. The bar for good performance seems to be incredibly low. Since the work I do is so boring, I end up wasting hours of every day not doing it, yet last month’s metrics just came out and I did the most on 2 out of 3 measures out of my entire branch. (I’ve only been in the job 4 months.) Apparently I’m just that efficient (and my trainer thinks the quality of my work is just fine.) I feel guilty wasting all the time, but I’ve seen that my agency only rewards work with more work. I’ll be looking for a new job soon, but I’m a federal employee so I have limited options within my field and commuting range. Anyone have advice on how not to die of boredom? I can’t take on anything outside my assigned area, and my team is only working on one specific project until mid-year and it would be frowned upon to look for new initiative projects until that’s done.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Do you have any personal projects you can work on discreetly? This will feel better than doing nothing, or aimlessly browsing the internet all day. For personal projects, I’m thinking along the lines of write a few scenes of your novel/fanfiction/other writing project (if you have one) or reading through the entire AAM archives from the beginning (or other work-appropriate blog/website).

    2. Overeducated*

      Are there backlogs of things that need to happen – records management? Digitization? Analysis of gaps/needs contributing to long term planning? Surveys of new literature or technology in your area? I’m thinking about things that aren’t entire new projects, but would help fill needs in your office. It sounds like “rewarding work with more work” is something you could use more rather than less of right now.

      1. Moosed*

        The current large-scale project we’re working on is basically going through our huge foundational database and making sure it’s up-to-date for the last 5 years. It’s an annual thing the whole office works on. So that backlog literally is my only project. As an individual contributor, I don’t get to contribute to long term planning. I have a list of things to work on in the future, but due to the nature of the work, it’s all “if event A happens I’ll work on that project” but neither I nor my employer have control over whether event A happens (think world events.) If I speed through the database work that bores me so much, it just hastens the arrival of even more downtime until it’s time for the big annual late summer/fall projects. (I realize that’s at odds with my work=more work comment, but in my defense I’m still recovering from the horrendous understaffing and overtasking of my last job. I would be fine with having more stuff to work on, that isn’t database work. I’m just very wary of becoming the go-to person to do All The Things based on my past office.)

        1. Overeducated*

          I’m just sitting here being super impressed that you have funding and FTEs to take care of updating a database backlog :O I can only dream!

          Could you spend some time running reports on the data in there so far to look for interesting patterns? If you really are stuck with “seek out self-guided training,” this job may not be a great fit….

          1. Moosed*

            Yeah, coming from the understaffed office, I’m impressed that this one has the resources and priority from leadership to do that too. It’s certainly a change of pace. I tell people who ask me how I like the new job: “It’s not interesting but it’s not stressful” and that’s very true. I was incredibly stressed at the old office. Former coworkers keep telling me I was right to get out, even when I complain about being bored.

            Analyzing the data is also part of my job, so… check? That’s the major project in the second half of the year. I don’t think this job is a great fit unfortunately. A former supervisor who worked in the old office and now works in this one recruited me for it; during my interview she claimed it “sounds boring but is actually really interesting!” and to be honest that was the main reason I took the job. Unfortunately due to the nature of government jobs, finding a new one will take several forevers, so I WILL be looking, but it won’t happen fast. I’m just struggling with what feels like the death spiral of “boredom causes lack of motivation; lack of motivation causes more boredom.”

            1. Overeducated*

              Oh man. Good luck. On my really bored days (which for me are when I have to focus on particular detail-oriented QA type tasks), listening to random stuff on Bandcamp is all that keeps me going.

            2. Policy Wonk*

              At-grade transfers are easy – if your agency allows them – no need to go through USAJobs. (Note that for higher-level or supervisory positions you generally have to advertise.) So look around where you work, see if there is something at your level that is interesting. Or ask the boss who recruited you what to do.

              1. Moosed*

                Generally my agency requires people stay at their positions a year before moving internally unless it’s for a promotion. So normally I wouldn’t be able to even start thinking of moving for a while yet. However, the agency-wide promotion eligibility results will be out soon, and I am hopeful… and I’ve also heard rumors that the year requirement might be going away. But I am already familiar with our internal hiring system (I’ve even sat on a hiring panel recently.) It still takes a while though. For my next move I might be waiting a while before a vacancy shows up that actually suits me better.

    3. Jojo*

      Someone else made a similar post and my suggestion is: Seek learning resources of any kind, repeat/refresh past learning, learn new things. They may benefit your current role, they may not, but with a bit of spin you can even add them as a positive above-and-beyond bullet to your next performance assessment. It beats doomscrolling and aimless web surfing. (Example: I haven’t had to do pivot tables/charts in Excel for work in two years, I’d forgotten how to do them; I am currently brushing up on those whenever I get a chance.)

    4. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      I am taking online courses in topics I’m interested in, and I’m also enrolled in a formal degree program (also online). It’s awesome.

      The online courses are short term – one time to 12 weeks – and the degree program is 3 years. So you can flex however you want based on your flexibility.

    5. Happily Retired*

      Retired Fed here. My agency had a leadership development class, applications open to all. We had GS-2’s; I was a 9. I also had a mentor, and (separately a mentee (a GS-3.) This is how you find out about other departments; how you make contacts; how you get yourself noticed by higher-ups, and if you do have to start the dreary application process again, how you make yourself stand out.

      Every department I was in contact with was in desperate need of someone with both analytical and organizational skills. But I think you need to get yourself out there.

      Oh also, if your agency has any Lean Six Sigma/ process improvement program, volunteer for that training and certification. I got lent out to other departments with logjam problems, and it was pretty fascinating!

      1. Moosed*

        Not to toot my own horn too much but I’m not too worried about making myself stand out. I was roped into stuff multiple grade levels above my pay grade for years at the previous office (same agency) and got outstanding performance reviews from everyone who ever supervised me. I need to be careful with my next move to try to get back to “interesting” without going straight into “devastating burnout,” which is what I just escaped. That’s where it’s going to be tricky.

  33. A Lucky Chance Card*

    I recently applied for social security, having reached a certain age, and I received a surprising letter from SSA. Apparently there exists some kind of retirement savings account in my name, with a company I barely remember working for 30+ years ago, in the amount of about $1000.

    I feel like I’ve drawn one of those “bank error in your favor” Chance cards in Monopoly! (Of course I will need to verify this and arrange to get the money, and it was probably my money in the first place.) I recall that the place I worked for was originally owned by one company, then was acquired by the company named by the notice in one year, then sold to yet another company a year later. I completely forgot I was ever employed by that company.

    I’m feeling lucky but it makes me wonder…

    Have you ever gotten a notice like this, associated with your work compensation? (Not inheritance or lottery.)

    Have you ever completely forgotten the name of a company that you worked for? I am stumped to recall the name of the third owner even though I’m sure I cashed their checks for 5 years in the late 80s. (I do remember the actual small subsidiary where I worked, although it too no longer exists.)

    1. Mockingjay*

      My mom did. She worked for the school board for a few years in clerical admin. She didn’t earn very much. Imagine her surprise a few years ago when she got a phone call from the funds administrator who had finally tracked her down; apparently there was some sort of pension fund that she had paid into. She now gets a pittance (<$50) each month, which rather amuses her. I said, "hey mom, this can be your monthly dinner out fund!" Mom: "more like lunch at McDonald's these days."

    2. NotAHotMess(Yet)*

      My husband has worked for SSA for more than a decade, specifically on Title II (which I am assuming you filed for, since you mention a certain age).

      Are you SURE this is legit? Granted, I don’t work for SSA, but with us both working from home during the pandemic, I overheard enough claims that I could probably take a retirement claim myself. I can’t imagine how SSA would ever be aware of such an account, and even if they were, why would SSA be the ones notifying you of that via a formal letter?

      I’m not saying it’s impossible, there is a lot I don’t know, but I would be deeply suspicious of this. SSA has access to earnings records, but I have never heard of them having any information regarding any kind of savings account.

      1. Rick Tq*

        I got one of these letters from an old employer who had changed hands several times since I left. I put a small lump-sum into my roll-over IRA.

        1. NotAHotMess(Yet)*

          Oh yeah, from an employer or the state, or an unclaimed funds organization – that’s not uncommon. Really, from anyone other than SSA, this would be much less suspicious.

          The suspicious part isn’t the found funds, the suspicious part is that SSA was supposedly sending the letter. Again, I don’t know it all – I can always be wrong! – but SSA does not send letters like this.

      2. A Lucky Chance Card*

        It is weird! The letter is titled “potential private retirement benefit information.” It goes on to say “MAY be entitled to some retirement benefits from a private employer.” It makes no promises and it’s funny that MAY is all caps. If you get a chance, ask your husband if this is a thing. At the bottom it says Form SSA-L99-C1 (03-20)

        1. Bunny WatsonToo*

          I’d call the local SSA office for your area. If the letter is legitimate, they will know or know which SS office handles such information.

        2. Actuarial Octagon*

          I work in retirement plans. These letters do indeed exist, but they do not often equate to actual money in the plan. That’s what all that “may” language is about. It’s worth trying to track down though, I don’t recall them usually including a specific dollar amount.

      3. WestsideStory*

        I would be cautious this may be a scam. If it isn’t they will not ask you for your social security number, birthdate, etc – as they would already have it.

    3. Bad Candidate*

      Each state has a clearinghouse where you can see if you have misplaced money. There’s also now services out there that will help you find old retirement accounts you might have forgotten about.

      1. Windfall*

        Yes – years ago on a whim, my mom once checked all the states I had worked in and found one state that was holding something like $1500 on my behalf. It was somehow from employee stock that I used to own from a company that no longer exists (it was acquired, then that company was acquired). The state had never sent me a letter, but it was legitimate and very timely since I was out of work at the time.

    4. Sloanicota*

      I was once contacted by my former employer, several years after I left, saying that they had somehow not met the rules about my retirement account and were going to send me over a thousand dollars. This came up in their audit somehow. I was very surprised!

    5. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      > Have you ever completely forgotten the name of a company that you worked for? I am stumped to recall the name of the third owner even though I’m sure I cashed their checks for 5 years in the late 80s.

      If company information is public / searchable where you are, have you tried tracking through its history that way?

      Try posting on a local Facebook or similar to see if anyone remembers it from some details (date, where the building was, etc)

    6. Generic Name*

      This happened to my dad! He was a longtime fed, and a couple of years before his set retirement date, he was called into a meeting with a bunch of other “graybeards” (his term, lol). Nobody knew what the meeting was about, so they were a bit nervous. Turns out there was an account or pension or something that they all had but nobody knew about. It was something like $30k in it!!

    7. A Lucky Chance Card*

      Well this is interesting; I should have suspected a scam. However, it all looks legit. I sent a letter to get more information from the “plan administrator” but I only included the information that was sent to me. What possible gain could a scammer get , by getting access to information they already know?

      I should have done this at first, but, googling around I find the corporate headquarters of this company matches the address named on the letter. The person listed is also confirmed as a director at that company. The format of the letter also matches others I’ve received from SSA. Of course a good scammer would try to match that format.
      In any case, I’ll let you know how it all turns out. And keep an eye on my accounts in the meantime just in case.

    8. I'm Walking Heah*

      Are they asking you for PII or sensitive info? My dad had a pension he didn’t know about and he was getting letters for years that he thought were a scam. Finally an attorney wrote saying “last chance” or something. He now has over $600/mo for the rest of his life. But those letters came from the employer (who had been sold/changed names) and then the attorney.

      I have forgotten the name of a temp to perm job but I got fired after about a week :) I can remember places I worked that aren’t even around anymore but not something interesting I read last week so don’t beat yourself up over it.

    9. IHaveKittens*

      I also reached that certain age and received 4 of those letters from the Social Security Administration. I was really excited and looked forward to getting some decent living room furniture – finally. Sadly, none of those actually had any money. They were all accounts that I had received distributions on (from LONG ago) so my dreams of furniture will have to remain unrealized.

    10. TX_trucker*

      My sister was a serial job hopper in her younger days, and she got the same SSA letter. Yes, it was legitimate. She actually had several account she didn’t remember. Because as a 20 something, the idea of retirement accounts was foreign.

    11. yourleague*

      I’m not at retirement age, but I was going over retirement plans/savings at my current job, and it occurred to me that maybe I had paid into 401(k)s or 457(b)s at jobs I had in my 20s when retirement was not at all on my mind. I reached out to two companies. One had nothing, but the other had $3300 and sent me a check!

    12. Cork*

      I work for a pension fund, though not in the US, but this sounds very plausible to me. Pension funds are legally obligated to make reasonable efforts to track down members once they hit retirement age so the funds can start paying out their pension. One of our federal agencies has a process where they can reach out on behalf of a fund if they’re struggling to locate a member (eg the member hasn’t updated their contact information with the fund but very likely has kept their records up to date with the agency).

  34. Low Stakes Ethics Question*

    An element of my job requires me to be digitally available during certain times. Think of something like providing customer service chat on a website for two hours at a time. Pre-Covid, I would do this from my office computer, but now I’m on a hybrid schedule and can do it from home.

    I don’t like doing any kind of focused work during these times because I need to respond immediately when a new ticket comes in. During that stretch, my job is simply to be available and then to respond as necessary.

    Sometimes these shifts are quite busy, and sometimes they’re predictable slow. Today was slow, and instead of clearing out emails or doing quick tasks, I set up my laptop in the kitchen and did dishes. When a couple tickets came in, I dried my hands real quick and took care of them. Is that acceptable? A perk to working from home? No different than browsing AAM while waiting for tickets? Stealing time from my employer? If it makes a difference, I’m salaried, current with my other tasks, and unlikely to change my habits ;)

    1. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I’d call it a perk for WFH. If your job is to sit and be available as tickets come in, and that’s what you’re doing, then as long as you’re clearing tickets when they come in you’re fulfilling your job.

    2. Mockingjay*

      I fold laundry during conference calls. There are certain calls in which I have to be an active participant, of course. Then there are those meetings to which everyone is invited but you never have to respond to anything – perfect for doing chores or working on some other work task.

      My favorite calls are the all-day quarterly management reviews. Everyone is supposed to dial in or get on Teams, but only upper management presents the briefs. I dial in and carry around the phone all day while I do a deep clean. Every half hour or so I run back to my office and glance at the screen. (Advance copies of the brief are emailed to us.)

      Right now I’m waiting for my project lead to call. Ask A Manager for the interim!

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      100% ok.

      When I WFH, I have no qualms about taking 5 minutes to go swap a load of laundry or walk to the mailbox. Those 5 minutes would get lost at the office in digging out a new box of coffee pods from the supply closet, or getting caught up in chit-chat with a coworker that I don’t interact with closely.

      The same logic applies to your 2-hour-window where you don’t want to do anything mentally involved so that your focus can be reserved for when those tickets come in.

    4. Rick Tq*

      As long as you met your manager’s expectations for response time I doubt they care what you were doing while you waited for a chat request to come in.

    5. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

      Totally above board and absolutely no different than browsing AAM while waiting for tickets.

    6. Siege*

      Sounds like you’re on call to me, so making it so you can respond quickly is the way to be on call. Yes to washing dishes, no to resurfacing the driveway or taking on tasks that will absorb too much of your attention to respond promptly.

    7. Qwerty*

      As a manager, I think this is perfect.

      If you were in the office during a slow period, you’d be bored and maybe get disengaged with the job. You’ve found a way to be happy during that period and the customer needs are being met promptly. You were probably more mentally engaged with the customers than if you were browsing reddit in the office or watching tv at home.

    8. Stoppin' by to chat*

      100% okay! Good for you for being able to take care of a household chore. Hope that meant you had more time for yourself to truly decompress from work after the workday was over.

    9. 653-CXK*

      You’re fine.

      In my CurrentJob, I do a lot of interstitial things that are not work related while waiting for other things to come in, mainly emails and phone calls (and the occasional panicked Teams message). The understanding is that as long as I’m doing my work, whatever else I’m doing is fine.

      For example, if I’m waiting for a report to come in, I’ll take care of the laundry, answer the doorbell, etc., and then when those items do come in, I’ll set aside time to do it.

  35. Gender Menace (Now Remote!)*

    Last week I accepted a new position that’s got everything I ever dreamed of- a living (ish) wage, full benefits, and for a company I’ve loved from afar for a long time that’s aligned with my values. It seems like it’s set to be a great fit, but the biggest change is going to be that I will be fully remote, and on a different coast.

    The company has MANY remote employees, all over the world, and it’s been built into their company culture since even before the pandemic, so I’m not worried about them- I’m worried about me!

    I’ve been in frontline retail for my entire adult life, and while I’m hyped to finally have a marketing-based desk job that I can build my life into instead of having to work around, I’m struggling with the idea of what “downtime” will look like- I know they likely won’t expect me to be 100% productive for the entire 8 hours a day I’m scheduled. But in retail and in-person jobs, you can tidy a shelf or chat with a coworker- how does that work for a remote position? How do I get over the “someone is watching me through a security camera at all times so I have to look busy” trauma?

    Any and all tips for the mental transition to remote work are appreciated!

    (And tips for more practical stuff like “get a better chair,” but those articles are everywhere and easier to figure out)

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Remote work , figure out the tracking/metrics they use. Slack ours goes from green to yellow if computer not used for set time point. Watch what other people do, do they announce when they step away for a bit or just do it. Taking out the trash, other <10min stuff most people just step away silently but it varies from job culture to job.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      During this transition time, I’d recommend trying to compartmentalize as much as possible. I remember (pre-pandemic) interviewing for a fully remote position with someone who lived in New York, and she said her apartment is so tiny that she basically just designates a corner of her apartment near a closet as her “work” area, and then doesn’t go there when she’s not “at work.” This was great advice.

      So I don’t know what your living situation is (in terms of space), but I’d recommend setting up a desk or an small area or something that’s designated as your “work” space. When you’re working, you go there. When you’re not working, you don’t. You leave your work computer there.

      And then build in some actual breaks for yourself (you can even block out time on your calendar). Definitely put in a lunch break! And when you’re on break, don’t sit at your work computer and eat lunch while reading the news or checking social media. When you’re on break, do something else—eat in your kitchen, go for a walk, sit on the couch.

      1. EMP*

        Just want to add if you can’t have a separate work space, you can still make a shared space into “work mode” and “not work mode”. Like if you work from your couch, put away things like the TV remotes and personal laptop somewhere you can’t see them, and maybe have a special lap desk that’s your “work desk” or one of those back pillows to prop you up more that only comes out while you’re in work mode. I really do think defining “work” vs “home” even in a small way helps a lot!

      2. Just here for the scripts*

        Totally second all this (and I also live/work in NYC, so I actually keep my work laptop in its backpack when I’m off work).

        I also set up my lunch time as a walking date with a neighbor. While we may not make it every day but if we schedule it–with some flexibility–we find we usually meet most days.

        I use: Outlook to schedule work on the tasks I have to do–so it makes sure I have time to actually DO the work, not just meet about the work; Google docs, sheets and slides to collaborate with folks on the work (o365 works, but not as well for real-time collaboration), and Teams to ping, query, and communicate around the tasks/work.

      3. Cordelia*

        yes, all of this. I’d also say, mark the end of the working day – log off, close everything down, move away from the work area and go walk the dog, or do something else. Then don’t get tempted into just checking emails or something, stop for the day.

    3. EMP*

      Seconding everything so far!

      Expect to spend the first few weeks getting to know the culture of how available people are and what the company expects from remote workers. It’s fine to ask about this explicitly as well during on boarding or an early meeting with your manager! And I think it’s also good to ask as you get specific tasks what the expectations are for results/when deadlines are, as you ramp up.

      I’m back in person now but when I was remote, having a small list of goals for the day helped keep me on track without feeling overwhelmed by needing to be busy all! the! time! As long as I was on track for that I knew it was also ok to step out for lunch or walk around the block or whatever.

      Good luck!

    4. Gender Menace (Now Remote!)*

      Ah! Thank you for all the tips about work/life balance- part of the reason I’m excited about this is because I have a dog that’s getting up there in years, and I’m jazzed to be able to walk her a bit more often (which I’ll also use as a brain break)

      Our apartment is pretty small, but we have a side room we use as “The Lair” which I’m cleaning up and turning into my office. I’m also getting a part time membership to a coworking space nearby so I can at work somewhere else once a week.

      Keep em coming yall- this is super helpful

    5. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

      For your first few weeks, I’d recommend focusing on learning the norms in your specific company. Like, a lunch break and a few 5-10 minute breaks through the day are more than reasonable, but I’d hold off on “walk the dog for 30 minutes” breaks until you more clearly understand their culture and the level of flexibility baked in to your specific role.

      This is a great thing to talk through with your manager – questions like “what do most people’s work schedules/hours look like here?” and “what are your expectations around how quickly I respond to emails” and “are there expectations on how available I am on chat? If I need 2 hours of deep focus time, is it ok to mark myself as unavailable? etc.” and “how you expect me to handle requests that come in before/after office hours” etc. Questions framed as “is it ok if I … ” [[thing you haven’t noticed others at your level doing]] might be best to hold off on until you can observe the culture more. Also try to find a couple teammates who you can ask about this kind of stuff, with the caveat that you might want to figure out who seems to be well respected and have a good sense of norms before you start taking colleagues’ advice.

      There might be weird things like “most people take regular breaks and flex schedules a bit, but you have one meeting a week with Very Senior Person who will be horrified if you are not on video and 100% focused on the call, so that is not the time to fold laundry.” Or, for me, one example is “my boss has a meeting once a week where he needs to email me questions and I’m expected to respond within 5 minutes, so I need to be 100% available for that hour. Things almost never come up, but when they do, they’re extremely important and it would be a Very Big Deal if I missed them because I was washing dishes.” It’ll probably take you awhile to learn these quirks for your specific office, which again is an argument to be more conservative with down time when you’re first starting.

      Re: Looking busy – some remote offices absolutely expect you to appear productive 100% of the time. These expectations are ridiculous, but they’re alarmingly common. Others may realistically understand people need occasional breaks but still expect, say, 7.5 hours of productivity in an 8 hour day. Some specific roles are more “you make lots of high stakes decisions so we understand if you need to step away from your computer to think things through” while others are “you’re responsible for producing a certain volume of work, so you need to deliver that volume no matter how much time it takes.” If you’re not in a fairly senior role it’ll probably be closer to the latter. It would be wise to assess your standard workload and how long it takes to complete before expecting tons of flexibility.

      If you truly have nothing to do, there may be expectations that you’ll seek out additional work or at least communicate to your manager/team that you have excess capacity before you sign off early for the day. But again, this varies – at some jobs you really can sign off/go do something not-work related on quiet days.

    6. Nicki Name*

      In addition to a work space, set regular working hours. Don’t check your work e-mails outside of them.

      One thing that’s helped me is having a pseudo-commute where I go for a walk right before and right afterward.

      If you miss interacting with your coworkers during your downtime, get yourself hooked up with the company Slack/Teams/HipChat/other chat app, and find the social channels about pets, movies, games, or whatever your interests are.

    7. Cleo*

      A lot will depend on your specific role, but I’m in marketing / communications and I definitely have a running mental list of things to work on during my downtimes, when I don’t have any immediate deadlines to meet. Most of my downtime projects are things like documenting procedures, updating templates and other housekeeping type things.

      When you’re new, it’s good to use any downtime on getting to know your role.

    8. Stoppin' by to chat*

      Honestly, it will take time to change your mindset. Maybe have a mantra anytime you feel like you’re doing something “wrong,” and give yourself grace that you will eventually be more comfortable with your current set-up. Once you’re more comfortable with what the job entails, you’ll just start to learn when you need to be available, who the key players are, etc. Congrats on finding a different type of work environment, and hope you get to a point where you can really trust yourself to know when it’s okay to take a step back, and when it’s time to be engaged.

  36. Show me the money*

    I received a raise that was supposed to be effective May 1, but hasn’t been reflected in my paychecks yet (we’ve received 3 paychecks since it was supposed to have gone through). HR (1 person department) is being completely non-responsive to my multiple follow ups asking about it, even when my boss is cc’ed. My boss also tried following up with them but didn’t get a concrete answer. Is there anything else I can do? It was a pretty significant raise (20%) and I have the form signed by my boss and the CFO that it was effective May 1. Office politics mean that involving the CFO is A Thing, and I’m not sure if it should be A Thing at this point or not.

    1. Warrior Princess Xena*

      3 paychecks for 20% of your pay? It has become A Thing. I get why your HR person might not be responding but at this point their error is mucking up your pay, which will have knockon effects on both your employer’s taxes and retirement plans (if there is one). Escalate to the CEO. It is time.

    2. Ms. Hagrid Frizzle*

      I would think this situation definitely qualifies as A Thing.

      I’m not sure what the fiscal year is for your workplace, but my employer restarts the physical year on July 1. This is the sort of error that can cause major headaches when wrapping up budgets and transitioning to a new year. Get ahead of it and speak up!

    3. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

      I would see if your boss would be willing to rope in the CFO, rather than having you do it – but the fact that the company had underpaid you on 3 checks is its own Big Thing!

    4. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      It’s definitely A Thing at this point. The longer it goes on, the more backdated pay they’re going to have to fork out (because you still should get that pay!), and the more complicated taxes/etc. become for them.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        And it’s going to mess up their financial results as well! It’s a CFO Thing for sure

    5. I should really pick a name*

      Do you work on site? Is HR in the same location? If so, go see them in person.

      If not, can you schedule a call with them?

    6. WellRed*

      If you’ve been emailing, try calling. If you’re both in the office, walk over. Give this one more shot then ask your boss to escalate this.

    7. fhqwhgads*

      Messing up your pay for even one pay period is A Thing. 3 is a Very Bad Thing.

  37. So angry*

    I am at loss here. My boss has terminated some team members’ employments and turned us into contractors (we are keeping our titles and duties but got stripped of our benefits). We have all been fairly upset but there is not much we can do about it other than looking for other jobs.

    What irks me is that our boss has called everyone affected by this change and told them how valuable they are. Everyone except for me. I have asked to speak with him about the changes but he ignores my emails.
    During our 1:1 today, he didn’t mention it at all. I said that I needed renewed access to the systems now that I am no longer an employee and he just said “oh, um” and continued talking about something else.

    I want to tell him that I am so disappointed in how he has handled this. But am also so gutted by his lack of leadership and cowardice that I don’t think anything good would come out of that.

    Should I bring it up or just try hard to let it go?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Honestly? I’d just spend all the energy spamming my resume to every single opening. He’s not worth your time. What a jerk.

    2. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      I’m sorry, but I think he’s trying to get you to quit. He is hoping his ignoring you plus the overall terrible change in conditions will do his managerial work for him.

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      I hate to say it, but I would stop thinking about it & spend that time looking for a new job.

      Is what he did even legal?

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*

        Depends what country you are in. If you are in the US: the firing & bringing back as a contractor part is legal but I can 99% guarantee that he’s not handling taxes right and that is most definitely not legal. Also, even if he is handling the taxes right, you’re being stiffed. Most contractors charge 2-3 times a salaried rate specifically because they now have to also pay the employer share of taxes, retirement, health insurance, and all the other things a company pays for. You have basically accepted a 40% or more pay cut. Quit and find another job as fast as you possibly can.

      2. lost academic*

        This – it sounds like it is likely illegal. But you’d need to consult an attorney.

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

          Yeah, Wouldn’t OP have had to sign a contract that states what they are expected to earn and what they are expected to do. etc. It sounds like the company is trying to reclaisfy people as contractors instead.

          I wouldn’t do anymore work until you know for sure. Have you heard anything from HR?

        2. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

          I think it may be illegal to do what your boss did to his employees. I mean he CAN do so, but then as freelancers, he can no longer dictate their hours or where they work—that’s the point of being a contractor.

    4. Morning reader*

      Don’t contractors need to earn about double what employees get, to make up for lost benefits? I think AAM has other columns on legal definitions of employee vs. contractor. They probably can’t legally do this (at least not without some adjustments.) While you’re looking for other jobs, dig into that and consider consulting a lawyer. (Wouldn’t all those employees be eligible for unemployment? Probably not if being a contractor is considered a job; however unemployed people I think are allowed to reject jobs that are not adequately compensated so maybe a 50% cut in compensation would be enough to allow you to not take the contractor position.)

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Wouldn’t it be constructive dismissal? I think that is eligible for unemployment.

    5. Lifelong student*

      Boss can’t just change your status from employee to contractor. Those are legal judgements based on facts and circumstances. If your job duties fulfill the actual definitions, you cannot be a contractor. Benefits in general must be available to all employees – although difference can be made between classes of employees in some situations. Talk to an attorney.

    6. Ginger Cat Lady*

      You should check and see if your role is even eligible to legally be a contractor, as it may not meet the requirements. You should know your tax bill will be MUCH higher as a contractor than as an employee as a result of this reclassification. (Look up “self employment taxes” for more info) So unless they also updated your salary, this conversion is also a significant pay cut.
      Personally, I would quit without notice over these changes. You’ve lost all benefits, paid holidays and time off, and taken a big pay cut, all with the same workload?
      I’d walk away immediately.

    7. Zephy*

      First, get out as quick as you can.

      Second, this sounds illegal if he’s still treating you like employees but classifying you as contractors.

    8. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I would be very suspicious if I were you. Sorry to say I think you may be already on your way out of this company.

    9. The Shenanigans*

      I’d find out if that is legal. It’s probably not. So I’d check that and bring it to your office and say something about it. If they don’t listen, go to the feds. Tell the IRS you are being improperly classified.

  38. L. Ron Jeremy*

    I just read an article that AI won’t replace your job, but a human using AI will replace your job. AI will use the collective knowledge gained from experienced and knowledgeable employees to replace them with new hires using AI.
    Goodbye to your career advancement and worrying about your promotion track. A new world in coming and it won’t be good.
    Anyone fearing for their jobs about now? If not, then why not?

    1. Sunshine*

      Yeah, I think it’ll be both. It already happened to me. I’m a marketing writer at a company that doesn’t really value content marketing. I’ve been told to start using AI to write all of our blogs, product listings, etc. I’ve tried showing them my work compared to what AI writes to make a case for NOT using it (which is bad! very generic, nonspecific, repeats a lot of words, occasionally just plain wrong!) and they truly don’t care. I’m leaving soon and they don’t plan to replace me. It sucks. Obviously the solution is to work somewhere that DOES value my work, but it’s hard to find places like that!

      1. Rick Tq*

        Point them at the recent news story of the lawyers who used ChatGPT to write a pleading and didn’t check it. They submitted a document with FAKE case references to the Court. Welcome to a Show Cause court appearance to argue why you shouldn’t be sanctions.

        That, and how about AI creating a bio for an entirely fictional governor of South Dakota, complete with AI-generated ‘portrait’ ?

        AI generates text that is probable. Not text that is correct.

      2. WestsideStory*

        It’s good you are leaving. Content marketing as a field is ridiculous- most of the time the result is not adding value or enlightening anyone. It’s just a longer form of advertising. Let the robots do it and move on to something creative.

        1. Diocletian Blobb*

          What kind of creative jobs would you suggest to someone in this position?

    2. The Shenanigans*

      I dunno. I’ve heard all sorts of pronouncements about all sorts of tech taking over human jobs. I mean, in the 80s, everyone was CONVINCED that robots would take over all low-level jobs by now. AI has definitely impacted jobs, but I think the impact is a lot more complicated than the media makes it seem. I think a lot of companies are just jumping on a shiny new thing without understanding how to use it. They’ll either tank their companies or quietly hire humans again. I’m not all that worried about my job. Whenever websites have tried to use AI to write content more complicated than a “Choose some toast and find out what Succession character you are” quiz, it never goes well.

    3. Prospect Gone Bad*

      As a data guru, I loathe this narrative of AI taking over jobs. I feel like it’s almost purely written by writers trying to either hype stocks, or create narratives for writings’ sake. And no, I am not being defensive about this (as was insinuated on another forum), it’s just that people who push the AI-job-replacement theory need to shut up and listen to what people actually do all day, before they keep screaming that we all get replaced.

      I do so many ad hoc things that connect so many different people and laws that it’s going to be almost impossible to automate the automating.

      And many jobs already automate away stuff, but I keep seeing that framed as AI when it is not.

      I feel like the AI narrative overlaps with what is going on on Wall St. Many tech company earnings are down but since they beat lower expectations, they are using verbal gymnastics to claim it as “crushing earnings” and need to keep the excitement and momentum about their companies going, so now “AI” is the buzz word.

    4. Siege*

      I’m not because I’ve seen the boom-and-bust tech cycle too many times to think AI is all that. And we’re starting to see the very high-profile failures of AI, too, not just the glowing wonderment of it all.

    5. Qwerty*

      My fear is that I won’t be able to find a job within my pay range that I can ethically accept. I’m a very experienced dev and so many job postings are trading on the AI hype. I also quit a job after finding out phase 2 of the product would result in replace a bunch of full time educated workers with outsourced part time gig workers – no AI involved, same number of hours worked, just a shady way to reduce labor costs.

      I don’t think AI is worth the hype. But a lot of damage gets done in the process. The job is not replaced with AI, but with a poorly run AI product that has multiple people behind the scenes working to fill the gaps while claiming it is almost ready. So the steadily working humans all got consolidated to a group of overworked burned out panicking people (mix of tech + low paid hourly workers). Seen this at both startups and corporate.

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        I see you’ve done this before:-). And then you can’t hire help, because the product isn’t making money to support it, and the job would be vague to begin with and essentially be fixing things you need alot of experience to find

  39. Gondorff*

    Do candidates not negotiate salaries anymore? I’m very used to in my previous line of work folks being offered a position and then countering for more money, even when we completely transparent about the salary up front. These days, instead of negotiating or countering, I’ve encountered far more folks who just decline the offer outright when our offer is on the lower end of the salary range listed. Now obviously, there’s no guarantee that we would accept a counter, especially if their expectations for salary are not in line with their skill/experience level, but why not even try to ask for more money (or more PTO or what have you)? Has anyone else run into this? And anyone have any advice for dealing with it?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I haven’t run into this, but I actually love this trend. If enough companies lose candidates when the company isn’t offering enough money, maybe they’ll start offering more competitive compensation (and in a more equitable way). When you reward candidates just for asking for more money, you end up reinforcing existing inequalities.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      They might have other offers, if Job A is offering 82k and job B is offering 110k its not worth negotiating with A at all, they know A isn’t going to be matching B.

      It might also be that the salary was insultingly low, like some listings say 50k-80k and if you get a 55k offer, ouch. That might be offending them.

      Are the candidates similar demographics agewise or returning to workforce after gap? maybe there is new advice about not negotiating out there.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        It’s also possible that there is little or nothing about the offer with lower pay that would make it worth negotiating. If they have two offers that are otherwise equal and one is offering $82,000 and the other $90,000, well, the easiest thing might be to simply decide based on who is offering more rather than asking the lower one if they can match it and then seeing who will negotiate for more or which really seems better with the same salary.

        Or they may have a job and simply be open to moving if the money is good enough, but if it’s not…hey, they already have a job.

        And I do agree with Anonymous Educator that this is probably a good thing if true. There are all kinds of inequalities as regards who is more likely to negotiate. Shy people probably won’t. Men have been shown to be more likely to do so than women and more likely to have it work when they do. People with certain disabilities and those who are new to the corporate world may well not even be aware that negotiating is a possibility or in the case of those new to the corporate world, it is unlikely they would have any idea what was reasonable to ask for. People from middle class backgrounds may be more likely to negotiate than those from working class backgrounds. Immigrants may not be aware of the cultural norms and may not know if negotiating is a thing or not in the county they have moved to.

    3. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Stop
      Lowballing
      Candidates
      That’s the solution.
      Candidates don’t have time for this kind of crap anymore, and when you lowball a candidate, it says something about your company culture. It says you don’t respect employees and will only ever do the absolute bare minimum that you are legally required to do.
      Candidates don’t want to work for cheapskate employees.
      So just start off with a competitive offer.

      1. Gondorff*

        To clarify, our salary range is between $5-10k depending on the position (so like the range listed would be $80k-$85k per year, for instance), is well-advertised on all job postings and is within market rates for our area and for the type of positions. So I don’t see it as lowballing to offer a candidate with 1 or 2 years experience $80k and being willing to negotiate to $82.5k or what have you.

        If you’ list a range and make an offer below that range, or if your range is, as someone notes above, $30k (which is insane, but I’ve definitely seen it), that’s a different story.

        1. I should really pick a name*

          If you are willing to pay them $X but you offer them less than $X, I would consider that to be the very definition of lowballing.

          Why not just offer them $82.5K and hold firm if they try to negotiate?

        2. Ginger Cat Lady*

          Oh it’s lowballing any time you offer less than you’re willing to pay. Period. Make a good offer if you want them. Stop playing games. Candidates are over that.

        3. I'm Walking Heah*

          Are they coming from government of military to the private sector? Those are 2 sectors where negotiating isn’t done, IME. Like others have mentioned, there’s a lot of research to show that women don’t negotiate and it often backfires when they do, so something to be aware of.

        4. The New Wanderer*

          Having a limited range is a good start, it’s definitely more informative and sets better expectations than having a much larger range. The amount in the example is small enough percentage-wise that it probably isn’t going to be the reason a candidate walks away if you don’t budge on the offer. If they’re declining without negotiating, though, it’s likely that they don’t want the job even if you paid the top of the range. And to me, that points to a potentially different causal factor than the proposed salary.

          I suppose one way to get more data is to find out from the interview teams if the declining candidates all had similar questions that might have caused them to eventually turn down the offer. Like, if they all want true hybrid jobs and your company’s definition of WFH is for emergencies only – it’s pretty likely that no amount of negotiating is going to bridge that gap.

        5. fhqwhgads*

          That range is so small as to not be worth negotiating. If the range is 80-85 and maybe they went in thinking they’d only accept if it were 85, and you come out with 80, but they know they’d likely get 85-95 elsewhere (fake example), they’re going to just turn you down because it feels like there’s nowhere to go.

    4. Alex*

      Yes I think some companies are not “doing” negotiations anymore. I think there are a few reasons–more companies are having internal rules about equity, etc., in pay, and so there is less wiggle room. And just general concerns about equity as well.

      Offer what you would expect to be a competitive offer, not “we’ll offer this but secretly expect to pay that.” It’s a dumb game and candidates are in positions where they no longer have to play, so they don’t.

    5. Roland*

      If you are actually open to offering more, and are losing candidates you want who aren’t negotiating… All you can do is offer more from the start and hope they take it. Thinking of what may be causing the change might be interesting but ultimately doesn’t affect your actions.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Yes I wouldn’t assume that a company would offer me more money if I asked… I’d think the price is the price…

    6. EMP*

      Are you sure the salary range is why they aren’t accepting? Are there other benefits that are standard or preferred in your industry that you don’t offer, like vacation time or parental leave?

    7. Fish*

      When I asked what the PTO was at my current job, they answered and stated it was not negotiable.

      I’m in a staff position, so negotiating is probably different for professionals.

    8. Jojo*

      If candidates turn down an offer without even trying to negotiate, perhaps your offers are too low to begin with. If an offer is, say, 10% below my expectation, I will seek to negotiate; but a while ago I received two offers 25-30% below expectation and I felt everyone’s time would be wasted by even trying to negotiate that up to an acceptable level.

      Also, unreasonably low offers make me think that perhaps a company’s pay levels for current staff may fall short of acceptable/competitive market rates. #NotAllWorkplaces but: overall good rates of pay tended to land me in teams with happier colleagues who were good at their jobs, poorer overall rates of pay tended to be indicative of a workplace that only ever managed to attract and/or hold on to those people that proved less than ideal to work with every day…

    9. Somehow_I_Manage*

      How are you discussing salary in the interview? Do you ask their expectations, and then intentionally offer significantly below their price? E.g., if I asked for $100k, and got an offer for $97k…no big deal, I might negotiate on that if I liked the job. But if you offered my $65k, and expected that we’d meet in the middle, that’s really a non-starter, and I’d be disappointed you weren’t more clear on your budget during our interview.

    10. Qwerty*

      When candidates turn down the offers, are they citing the low salary? Have you been able to talk to them about why they turned it down? For all you know it could have nothing to do with salary – I recently rejected an offer without hearing any details because I knew during the final interview it was not a good fit.

      I think you need to flip the script – why *should* they be negotiating? As a society, we have been moving away from negotiating. Numerous studies have shown that it works great for white men but can backfire for marginalized communities like women or POC. If you were willing to pay more for the candidates who turned you down, then why not offer them that money to start?

      The salary you offer shows how much you value the candidate. If they have to fight you on the original salary, that doesn’t bode well for how future raises and promotions will be handled. If Company A offers me 100k and Company B offers me 110k, I’m going to need a strong preference for A before I ask them to meet the higher salary. The only time I negotiate is if I was really excited for the job but the money doesn’t work out, and I always give a reason on why I am worth the higher rate.

    11. Can't Sit Still*

      You’re not offering enough and too many red flags came up during the interview to make it worth negotiating. I would guess that your company hasn’t done any market adjustments for employee salaries recently and that’s what’s skewing your salary ranges too low.

  40. Food Thief revenge*

    I heard a story on the radio this morning about a doctor’s office that kept having food thefts from the refrigerator. Come to find out, it was the doctor who was taking lunches and leftover food since “he didn’t have time to eat lunch because he was busy making all the money to pay everyone’s salaries”. The office manager, staff, everyone tried to explain how that was wrong, but he wasn’t budging.

    The office manager then decided if someone’s lunch was taken, they could order lunch for themselves and charge it to the office. People ordered steak with three sides and dessert, pasta, expensive drinks, you name it. It took about two months for the doctor to catch on and then he started ordering lunch for himself and it stopped.

    1. L. Ron Jeremy*

      I saw the same article. He had someone order him lunch everyday instead- problem solved with low cost solution.

  41. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

    Thoughts on filling an interim role? I am interested in a posted opening at Large Org for a sick leave temporary fill at a high level. It’s a little quirky with the timing – sounds like maybe someone has pre-planned medical leave for one month, then nothing second month, then full time for 4 months starting month 3. I am midway through the interview process but so far Large Org hasn’t said anything about if this is going to be a contract position (in which case I’d ask for my consulting rate) or a temporary employee (in which case should they be offering a salary that is the same as the posted range, or higher [assuming they don’t offer benefits to temporary employees… nor would I want them for this short time])? And should they offer me the interim role, how should I ask for consideration for holding month 2 free in order to start for them month 3? In my line of work, I couldn’t really do other work for just one month.
    I have done interim stints before, with negotiated hours and availability, and at my hourly rate. This one just seems a little odd with the timing.

    1. TheyPayWhenYouWork*

      In my experience companies will not pay you for time not worked, full stop. You should expect to have no income in month 2 if you don’t line up something else. If you haven’t already discussed a rate then take that into consideration.

  42. Millie Mayhem*

    I have a fantastic direct report who really does a phenomenal job. I very rarely ever have critical feedback for her, however I’m wondering what is the right amount of positive feedback I should be sharing with her? I frequently have others tell me how good she is at what she does, how she’s such a positive contributor, how much they love working with her, etc. Usually when someone calls her out specifically I will relay the information to her. I also will let her know if she’s done a great job with something, I write her the occasional thank you note, and I give her gifts when appropriate (for her birthday, work anniversary, etc.).

    We check-in every week and I could very easily find something to praise that often! At the same time, I don’t want to appear to be disingenuous if I’m always saying “wow, you’re doing so great at xyz, you’re such a joy to work with, etc.” I definitely don’t mind going out of my way to make sure she feels appreciated but I also don’t want to overdo it as she is a pretty humble person. Does anyone have advice on striking the right balance here?

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      Wow, it is VERY unusual in my work world for a manager to give an employee gifts for birthday or work anniversary. (Christmas is much more typical.) Also a thank you note (versus an email) is unusual to me. I think you might be going overboard with the personal aspects and crossing the border into friendship…? Would recommend keeping all your feedback in a work format. If she’s doing so great, she’s outgrowing her role and your 1:1s should be about her professional goals and how you support her growth. No need to say “you’re a joy to work with”!

      1. Millie Mayhem*

        Interesting perspective, thank you! At my org it’s very common for managers to give gifts for birthdays and work anniversaries – nothing extravagant but typically a small dessert or flowers or something. My direct report also mentioned early on that she likes to receive hand-written notes, hence the thank you notes. I suppose this kind of thing differs based on the workplace industry and culture.

        1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

          Are you in the US? I am from the perspective of US local government. No gifts for anything but Christmas, and even that is fading.

            1. Elsewise*

              I’m also in private nonprofits in the US, and what you describe sounds pretty normal to me. I’ve definitely had bosses get me flowers, or a gift card, or pot or something for my birthday or work anniversary. Once a boss got me a book I’d been talking about wanting to read. Never anything too extravagant or expensive, just something to go along with the card from the office. Pretty normal, as long as it’s the same or similar to everyone.

      2. Llamas*

        Eh, I disagree with this take. I think a little appreciation could go a long way with keeping a stellar employee happy and maintaining high morale. I personally love receiving hand written notes as they feel more personable than an e-mail. I also don’t think OP said anything that indicates this employee is outgrowing her role? Doing a great job doesn’t automatically mean it’s time to move on to something else.

        OP, I don’t think you need to give her weekly positive feedback during your 1:1 meetings. Maybe focus on recognizing specific wins as they happen and be sure to highlight her positive contributions whenever you have formal reviews.

    2. WellRed*

      Wasn’t there a letter this week from an employee who was feeling her bosses overdo the praise?

  43. Fed Hiring Question*

    My husband applied for a Fed job that closed in January. In Feb, he got the “tentatively qualified but not referred” email. Fine, archive it, move on. Yesterday, he got a *new* email for that same job posting saying he *is* qualified and has been referred to the hiring manager.

    I know Fed stuff is weird, but the posting closed 4 months ago! What scenario is the most likely here? Someone backed out at the last minute? Wouldn’t they have to repost a new job?

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      Sadly, the timing doesn’t feel that extraordinarily long by gov standards. Situation Normal, AFU.

      1. Fed Hiring Question*

        I think you missed my question – he was told he wasn’t referred, then they came back and said he was. The timing makes it more surprising, but I want to know what might cause that reversal.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          They could have made some changes to the role or requirements. I work for state government, & that kind of thing can happen at levels far above the hiring manager’s.

        2. MsSolo (UK)*

          I don’t know if it’s the same in the US, but in my department it would usually be a signed he’s been pulled from a reserve list for a role with the same title/grade/duties, but a different vacancy that might have marginally different requirements (like in Dave’s team they use Tableau and in Marge’s they use PowerBI, but it’s otherwise the same role). Or they just didn’t get any appropriate applications first time around, so rejigged the requirement to see if they missed anyone in the existing pool who actually was appropriate.

        3. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

          No, I read your question. It sounds to me like a two-part qualification process. (I am guessing that) he passed the first part with tentatively qualified and advanced to the second screening. The second screening determined he was in fact qualified. It taking 4 months to get to this point is not notable.

    2. AnotherLibrarian*

      Don’t think to much about it. Federal hiring is bananas and I know they just changed some of the regulations around it. Chances are he was “tentatively qualified” (maybe qualified, but needed to be reviewed by a human to confirm, so at the bottom of the list below people who the system KNOWS are qualified) and then once a human got a chance to look at it, ended up being qualified. Four months is not long in federal hiring.

    3. Policy Wonk*

      You don’t say whether your husband is a veteran – I’m assuming not. What likely happened is the hiring manager was given a cert of those eligible to be hired that was made up of those who had veterans’ preference. None of them was hired, so the HR office then went back to the list of qualified applicants and made up a cert of non-veterans who were then referred to the hiring manager. Your husband made that second cert.

    4. The Shenanigans*

      Oh, that’s nothing in hiring by the feds. A week in Normal Time is a month in Fed Time.

    5. Random Academic Cog*

      I had an applicant who was highly qualified, but the HR person didn’t understand the position or the relevance of the application because she was scanning for (the wrong) keywords. The application was routed to the “not referred” list. I had access to the rejected applications and was able to have HR reroute to my inbox so I could bring the applicant in for an interview. She’s been an excellent employee so far.

  44. Bite Me, Rupert Murdoch*

    Ex-journalist here, fed up with her sputtering low-pay career, who has decided to – as the meme goes – learn to code.

    People who’ve made the switch from unrelated fields to tech: how did you get your foot in the door? Are there credentials I should be trying to get? Portfolio pieces I should be making to prove my skills? Etc.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Sorry for your loss.

      We just had an interview for a coding position today haha. For people coming from non coding backgrounds (no formal schooling) we look for a couple things. How are they learning instead? Do they have a github with examples of their code we can see? Are they fluent in at least one programming language? Even weird ones, once you get one language its easier to learn others. Do they know how to google errors and find solutions, can they tell us about a bug they fixed in their code? Do they have experience submitting jobs to servers and interacting with cloud computing resources (google buckets, amazon cloud, dozens of field specific server resources). If they don’t have that experience, do they at least understand the concept of those resources, we can’t train if it’s too far removed from your understanding. Do they have experience modifying code other people wrote (video game mods weirdly great example of this)? And then obviously expect a skills test of some sort.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        This is all really good advice, especially the Github account, because that is basically your coding portfolio. Get one of those ASAP and make sure to make frequent commits.

    2. EMP*

      I’d recommend looking at actual job postings to see what you should focus on learning – the programming language du jour can change quickly but it will at least give you an idea if what you’re learning has relevance to hiring teams or not.

      And find a way to get some interview practice. Lots of companies use websites like hackerrank to evaluate coding skills but if you can find someone to give you a practice phone/zoom/in person interview as well you may find that helpful.

    3. Policy Wonk*

      If you want to code, more power to you, but please think about government – we can always use good public affairs people! (Yes, as you’ve seen here before, the federal hiring process takes a long time, so be prepared…)

    4. Qwerty*

      Switching while self taught is a hard path. For every success story, there are many unsuccessful ones. I’m sorry for being a buzzkill, I know a ton of very eager bootcamp grads right now who are unable to even get interviews because the tech market is not a safe bet anymore.

      If you are making the switch because you super love coding, then a bootcamp offers more structure and is better than doing it completely alone. You’ll still need to supplement it a lot and graduates are still the underdogs compared to those with a 4yr program + 2-3 internships. Some now have a part time option so you don’t have to quit your job and some offer deferred payment plans (you only pay after getting a decent job).

      If you are just making the switch because it seems like a safer higher paying field, then may I suggest other options? I tell the bootcamp grads to find side doors into coding jobs, because they need to build up their credentials. With your work experience, you could probably just get hired in one of the side door jobs and then learn to code on the side with said company’s dev team as your mentors.

      – Tech Writing – Tech has terrible documentation and it has been a struggle whenever we’ve tried to hire tech writers, especially if we needed them to come into the office. You can write, please help!
      – QA – I know multiple people who made the jump from QA to dev, others who ended up falling in love with the QA role, and more than learned automation testing (like protractor or selenium)
      – IT support (like a junior sysadmin or helpdesk) – Its a different type of coding but if you are an investigative journalist than digging through problems might be your speed. Coding version of this turns into scripting for IT reliability or DevOps
      – Content Marketing Blogger Person – Ok, I don’t know what this title actually is. But the hip thing to do is for a tech company to be a “thought leader” and have their tech people write blog posts about how awesome their tech and coding skills are. Those same tech people who hate writing and don’t want to be bothered. I’ve known some freelance writers who did a great job here – either interviewing the devs for info or researching themselves. One of them now manages a tech team, is shocked by her salary, and never needed to learn how to code
      – Product Management – I’m assuming a journalist knows what people are interested in? And could write a decent product design doc?
      – Project Management – It is surprisingly hard to find a good one

  45. Just here for the scripts*

    Misses clothing (and petite which depending on the company runs from 5’5″ and down) still exist–and I live in them! Lands End has real summer dresses (not only sundresses), tops and skirts–and you can add a sweater or jacket against the air conditioning. So does LOFT and LOFT outlet (although their dresses are more sundress-y than I like, I’m currently wearing one now in NYC’s 90+ weather today). Also look at Chadwicks, Talbots, and AnnTaylor–all are currently have sales from 40% to an additional 40% on reduced stuff. Dressbarn too!

  46. Zephy*

    The building I work in has a fake Starbucks (a la carte food/beverage vendor that “proudly brews” Starbucks-brand coffee), and they’ve chosen to remodel it this summer. Half the offices in my department share a wall with the cafe space. All day, every day, for the last month, we’ve been dealing with the sound of power tools and hammers and whatever they’re doing in there, and they also have all the air vents in that part of the building shut (presumably to mitigate dust contamination throughout the building), which has made the rest of the building significantly colder than it normally is. Sweartagod it better be a full-service cafe when they’re done in there, for all the racket they’re subjecting us to.

    1. Chutney Jitney*

      Sympathies. I live across the street from a former auto shop soon to be new 6 story apartment building. They’ve been hammering and drilling and backing trucks and *loudly* pouring concrete starting a 7am 6 days a week since last summer.

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

      Is there anywhere else that you could move to? You can’t be working your best if you are dealing with that sort of noise all day.

    3. negligent apparitions*

      Many sympathies. Winter of 2021-2022 I lived through a remodel-on-the-other-side-of-the-wall of the only bathrooms in the entire building serving a workforce of ~100 people from different companies. It was supposed to last three weeks over the Christmas/New Year’s holiday. It took three months.

      1. Zephy*

        RIP, that sounds awful. At least our bathrooms are still functional, albeit f’ing FREEZING. Like, do I really have to pee that badly that I want to expose more flesh to these sub-arctic temperatures, hmmm….

    4. Nightengale*

      My empathies. My office in a hospital is directly under construction and has been for well over a year. I have no idea what they are even renovating but for the length of time we have been hearing sawing and drilling, they could have created a whole new building.

  47. Llama Identity Thief*

    TL;DR: Looking for tips for practicing communication skills, for someone who struggles with identifying the right words in the pace of conversation.

    One of my coworkers has been really struggling with communicating herself clearly, especially in meeting scenarios. She seems to struggle with identifying the exact words she wants to use to say the things she wants to say. To quote her directly, “sometimes I feel like the words that come out of my mouth don’t match the words I formed in my head, like there’s a bad interpreter here.”

    In my own opinion, her word choice is…not the most clear thing in the world, but also not a major concern. I find her words easier to parse than I do our boss, for example. However, especially with speaking aloud, it can take her such a long time to decide on the right word to say, that by the time she gets through a sentence or question, myself and it seems the people around us don’t remember what the start of the sentence or question is. This is especially prevalent for comments or questions that generate “on the fly.”

    I asked her if she would appreciate me posting it here and she agreed profusely. Does anyone have suggestions for techniques or exercises she can use to work on communicating more clearly, for settling on what she wants to say and saying it in a quicker timeframe?

    1. fgcommenter*

      “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good.”

      The correct word can convey a great deal of meaning in a concise package, but is it always worth the time to find that word when a less precise one can get out quicker and then be clarified if the implications are not fully understood? Communication already is an imprecise activity that relies on cultural norms to parse the deeper meaning, so not everything strictly needs to be as clear and unquestionable as a legal document.

    2. Chutney Jitney*

      Practicing at home? My husband has ADD and is autistic, and he sometimes says the opposite of what he wants to say because he’s simultaneously holding 2 (or more) thoughts in his head and the wrong one comes out. And he doesn’t realize it until I respond. He also sometimes has the internal editor that’s like – no, that word’s not good enough, must be the perfect word… and gets lost on that train.

      He’s had real success with cognitive behavioral therapy techniques and practicing/imagining scenarios in his head and how he would respond. Also, focusing less on himself (getting the perfect word) and more on it being a conversation with me/others (we’ll let him know if we don’t understand, better to say something slightly imperfect than nothing).

      1. Mimmy*

        I can relate to this. I am very self-conscious about stumbling with my words, though I’d say not as self-conscious as I used to be. I like the idea of focusing on the conversation rather than saying the right words. If I catch myself using the wrong word, I’m getting better at just ignoring that flub and continuing with my thought.

    3. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      Toastmasters.
      But, I don’t know that you should have posted this for her. It feels like, as her manager, you discuss the issue as you see it, as it affects her work, and give her some directions to explore for solutions. I don’t love that you are taking so much ownership of the solution for her.

      1. Llama Identity Thief*

        I am not her manager, just a friendly coworker who offered to post this here. She has the link to this and is viewing the suggestions herself.

        1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

          Sorry, I missed that you are not the manager. Still think it’s a little odd she didn’t post herself if the issue is hers.

    4. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

      Is this an across the board issue? Is this issues related to trying to transfer job-specific jargon or very technical subjects to a non-expert? How important is it that she respond in the moment, or for some of these situations, could she ask to get back to the person later?

      At the end of the day, the most helpful thing would be to practice talking more, and as much as possible, try to mimic the situations where she’s struggling. If appropriate, she may want to develop some scripts if there’s specific concepts that she struggles with describing, so she has some phrases at the ready when she needs them.

    5. Hlao-roo*

      Improv classes? Definitely depends on how much time and effort outside of work she wants to invest, and also depends on if this is something that happens in many areas of her life or just in work-related conversations.

      I think improv could help in two areas (potentially):

      (1) improv is more about saying something now than saying the right thing, so that could help her become quicker at asking questions without pauses to decide on the right word

      (2) practicing speaking and responding in a fast-paced environment may help the “interpreter” become better at their job

    6. Retail is Detail*

      Hi OP and Coworker! Here are a few techniques that have helped me with a similar issue:

      A.) Writing down what I want to say – because I communicate MUCH more clearly in writing – and speaking (even if this means waiting until later to ask a question/make a statement)

      B.) Scripting my question (as much as possible!) with common phrases that I can remember to use while my brain figures out how to complete the sentence, i.e., “that’s a very good question, Sarah, and I’m wondering if….” Or “It sounds like one concern about the TPS reports is X, and it might help if we considered….”

      C.) Don’t be afraid to speak slowly, rephrase a question/answer, or repeat a point verbally! Listeners take in information more slowly than we realize. Speaking at a measured pace helps me stay calm and collected, too.

      D.) Practice, practice, practice speaking in public . Personally, I hated this part BUT it really helps!!! Even if you’re just making a short announcement in a meeting, speaking at a volunteer event, or talking to yourself in the mirror. I went from being tongue-tied 99% of the time to being able to speak off the cuff successfully with practice. It wasn’t easy but it can definitely be done!

      Best of luck from an internet stranger :)

    7. Somehow_I_Manage*

      If I understand you right, this isn’t about public speaking, or about presentations….it’s rather about expressing your opinions in a meeting setting? Likely a junior staffer recently invited to share the table with leadership?

      If it were my staff member, I’d coach them with the following:
      – This isn’t something you’re good or bad at. It’s a skill you practice, and practice takes time. Keep attending, keep trying, watch, and learn. This will improve naturally.
      – You deserve to be there. It can be flustering when the CEO asks your opinion, but the reason we’re asking is because you’ve earned your place.
      – Even if you stumble on the words, we value your input!
      – When someone asks a question, take a half second to think about why they asked it. If it’s unclear, feel free to ask. Often the purpose of a question is to facilitate a decision. If you keep that in mind, you can avoid getting sidetracked getting into the finer details.

      Finally, I’d shower them with praise, positive feedback, and find opportunities in the meeting to give them credit for their work. Overall, the priority is to reinforce their confidence and remind them that there’s a reason they’re in the room.

    8. Anon for This*

      Your friend may need more support than Toastmasters. I had a friend who had an issue like that and got support from a psychology practice – she worked with a clinical social worker who helped with social skills, such as those kinds of interactions. Some of the people in her group had neurological issues, others anxiety issues. If you have an EAP she might want to check in there. In my friend’s case her doctor referred her so her insurance would cover it.

    9. Fidgeting giraffe*

      This bit: “sometimes I feel like the words that come out of my mouth don’t match the words I formed in my head, like there’s a bad interpreter here.”

      Reminds me of my own issues that are disability-related. Possibly look into seeing if there is a diagnosis (mental or learning) related that might give you an insight into the ways that your brain does and doesn’t work well. Because armed with that, it’ll be easier to search out other things that might work well for you.

      Best wishes!

      1. Quandong*

        I would really encourage your coworker to investigate with a professional whether there is something happening in brain function and processing. A neuropsychological assessment may be a good starting point, but speech and language therapists would be able to point your coworker in the right direction.

        Your coworker’s problem sounds like an issue with expressive language (look up ‘aphasia’). Some people experience aphasia when under pressure, and other people experience aphasia due to a neurological condition.

        I would go down this path before joining Toastmasters or improv groups, because depending on what’s going on, adding more performance stress may not be helpful.

    10. Mimmy*

      Following this thread because I struggle with this as well.

      For meetings, what helps me is having notes of what I want to say, especially when I at least have an idea of the topics. If I have questions about any topic, I write those down as well.

    11. Gyne*

      I’m going to vote for therapy and an appointment with her primary care doc. If there is an organic cause, this might be something a neurologist could treat. If there are no neurological issues, is her worry about saying the wrong thing/not forming thoughts coherently getting in the way of communication (hence therapy)?

      MOST people are not great spontaneous orators. We say “um” a lot, ramble, repeat ourselves, and in the flow of normal conversation, that is fine. It sounds like she has a higher standard for herself than her audience and is getting tripped up about it.

  48. A Film by Kirk*

    Question regarding side networking with clients: One of my company’s clients that I work directly with recently emailed my work email from her personal email saying she’s interested in breaking into our industry, and would I be up for a coffee chat so she can pick my brain? 

    Sure I would, but what are the ethics of this as I respond to her email from my work email? What if she’s trying to find a way into my company’s door?

    Should I go, should I disclose it to my boss, or what are other people’s thoughts?

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      This is probably pretty industry-specific, maybe check with your boss. Not as a disclosure exactly, but “this is the first time I’ve gotten this sort of request, what do you think, is this common in our industry?”

    2. MsM*

      I say go, see what she wants to discuss, and use your best judgment on just how detailed to get with your advice, and when to shut down or redirect an avenue of questioning. If you walk away feeling like she has concrete plans to become competition in the not-too-distant future, take that intel back to your boss. Otherwise, it’s just coffee.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      If you like her/respect her, then it would be a kindness to go. Don’t go out of your way to tell your boss– given the situation I would keep things discreet but not necessarily a secret. Maybe she is trying to get into your company’s door, but that’s not (usually) nefarious or suspicious, and presumably she reached out to you because she likes you and respects you and she trusts you not to tell her company.

      If this makes you really uncomfortable, you can say no. I will share that many years ago I applied for a job at a vendor and asked my contact out for coffee for the same reason. She was not only a huge help, she and I became really good friends once I got the job. When it came time to return the favor and write a reference for grad school for her (knowing she’d be leaving our company), I enthusiastically did so.

      I don’t know about your industry, but in mine, it is SUPER common for people to switch from, say, client side to vendor side. This request strikes me as pretty common networking.

      1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

        I fully agree with this, unless there are mitigating reasons why you aren’t comfortable (because you are in no way obligated) you can meet her for coffee without worrying that you’re misstepping. If this potentially means she would be transitioning away from being a client, then it could be delicate, but if she’s emailing from a personal email, I’m assuming she works for the client and is not herself the client.

        If she’s looking for a foot in the door at your company, you can be honest with her about what opportunities your company has and what makes for a quality applicant without making promises of fast-tracking her or anything like that. But it sounds like she’s interested in more general info and trusts you and values your insights.

  49. Happy Hour*

    Are there any jobs out there for people who really just… don’t want to work? I want to stay home with my kids but it’s just so hard to do on one salary. I have a lot of experience in communications/marketing/admin types of work, but the idea of going back to work after being a SAHM is giving me hives. Any suggestions? It feels like part-time remote work is SO poorly-paid and hard to find.

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      I mean, plenty of SAHMs get into education for this reason – you have the same schedule as the kids. If you work for a private school, you get a tuition break, if you work for a “desirable” public school, you get preference for a transfer. Maybe this is the motivation you are looking for! School secretary, anyone?

      1. Gemstones*

        But then isn’t the school stuck with employing a school secretary who doesn’t want to work?

      2. Art Soplo*

        The last thing any school needs is a staff member (even one not actively teaching) who doesn’t actually want to be there.
        And if the OP hates working, they’re not going to enjoy an education job. Tuition breaks for employees are also not guaranteed at every private school. The overall pay is not great (what a shocker). School shootings are still a thing.

        “Work” is called “work” because it’s usually the opposite of “fun.” Otherwise it would just be called “fun.” If you want to do something that isn’t work but still financially viable, then win the lottery or go back into time to marry into a wealthy family, duh.

    2. Irish Teacher*

      Building on Lunch Eating Mid Manager’s suggestion, have ye an equivalent of Special Needs Assistants? People who support students with special needs or who help out in a classroom (I know in some countries they more have teaching assistants, who do more than just support students with additional needs, but I don’t know if those are jobs that require special training/a teaching degree or if you would be eligible).

      Another suggestion, again if there aren’t legal requirements as to qualifications in your country or if the qualifications are easy enough to obtain and you can meet any other legal requirements, is home based childcare, caring for children in your home.

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

        Keep in mind that in some areas special needs assistants need specific training and education. It’s not a job that you can just hop into and learn on the go. You also really need patience and understanding. I had a learning disability in school so I was with the special needs kids a lot (small school so all different levels of special needs) and there were certainly some teacher’s aids that would get frustrated easily. I had one who got angry and yelled at me because I moved ahead on the test. I had already answered the question, but we were waiting for the others to finish. I didn’t need her to read every question for me, I just needed more time, quieter space, and someone available if I did need help with the questions.

      2. carcinization*

        Those are really difficult jobs that are sometimes high impact/dangerous as well, speaking as a different type of staff member in a school with a “behavior unit.” I’m trained to do restraints but luckily don’t have to do them, unlike the paraprofessionals at my school. Not really what I’d consider for a job that doesn’t involve “work” or is similar to a remote part-time job.

    3. EMP*

      My SIL is doing substitute teaching after a few years of being a SAHM. I don’t think it pays very well but it’s extremely flexible (she only takes days when she wants to) and it’s still some extra money coming in. Since it’s so part time something like that may be a good transition getting out of the house, and it’s more varied than a lot of other part time jobs.

    4. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      I will add that if you still have small (pre-elementary age) kids, it’s very hard to imagine the stage when they will be ready to go to school and you will have chunks of the day “free” (I know there is still tons to do at home). I had a friend who was a fellow SAHM during that stage of our lives, who worked Saturdays doing childcare at the Y. She got out of the house, she got a free Y membership, and she got a little cash. For myself, I wasn’t into taking care of other people’s kids while also taking care of my own, and after 4 years of SAHM, did some very minimal hourly work in my old field as a subcontractor. That ramped up to starting my own consulting practice in a few years when both kids were in school full time. There’s lots of ways to dip your toe back into work from SAHM life, and it really doesn’t have to be all or nothing!

    5. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      Since it sounds like some income would be enough, consider freelancing — I’ve seen a lot more of that for marketing/comms compared to part time roles. I’ve gotten work like that through a few avenues: An entry level option is a temp agency like Aquent, the pay is lower (30-50/hour IME) but it’s simpler. The middle path is subcontracting for marketing / communications consultants and agencies that need another pair of hands behind-the-scenes as needed. Those have paid me 50-100/hour. Once you get in with one, there’s usually ongoing work. The hardest level is being a proper business, which may not appeal to you. That can mean everything from project-based consulting work to simple things like ghostwriting / editing for small businesses that need content but don’t have good writers. Direct to client pays the best (100+) but is the most difficult to get and maintain.

      1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        I mention all of this because mktg/comms is well suited to freelance work, especially if you prefer to work fewer hours. You could work half time and get paid pretty well.

    6. RagingADHD*

      There are a number of ways to get money other than working. Most of them are illegal and/or dangerous.

      I feel the situation you’re in, but the gods honest truth is that it’s like asking if you can get your laundry clean without washing it, or raise your kids without having to deal with emotions or body fluids.

      No. Unless you can get someone else to do it, and that doesn’t necessarily get the result you really want.

    7. pb*

      For a while my mom babysat other children while staying at home with her own kids. I wonder if that would be feasible or enjoyable?

    8. Glomarization, Esq.*

      This feels like an existential question drawing from both The Feminine Mystique and The Communist Manifesto. Unless your vocation is early childhood education, SAHM work isn’t particularly intellectually fulfilling (at least, not in my experience). And it can be super dispiriting to look at one’s skills and educational credentials and realize that the job opportunities aren’t particularly remunerative — or intellectually fulfilling.

      Maybe it’s time for a job coach, therapy, and reassessment of your personal self-actualization goals. Then you can plan out a pathway towards what you’d like to do with your life after the kids aren’t so needy.

  50. Elle*

    I’m so excited to being going to my first in person conference since Covid. I used to go to a lot before things shut down and a number have remained virtual only. I’m looking forward to the guaranteed to have chicken/too much coffee and iced tea/the chocolate mousse cake dessert for lunch, being too cold during the sessions, and grabbing pointless swag. I don’t know why I’m so excited about it but I no longer take this stuff for granted. Maybe I need a shake up in the day to day and this is giving it.

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      Me too! I am going to a legit conference in two weeks, away from my family, in a fancy hotel! I am bringing my own fancy swag to give away! Totally can’t wait.

    2. Irish Teacher*

      I have the first marking conference in person since 2019 towards the end of this month. Last year, it was online and the previous two years, the Junior Cert. was completely cancelled. To be honest, logically, going in person is a bit of a nuisance. It’s about a 3-4 hour journey from here for one day. But for all that, I am rather looking forward to it, to meeting teachers from other schools and having an excuse to stay in a hotel, etc on expenses.

    3. Prospect Gone Bad*

      Absolutely! It’s interesting watching the tides shift at work. I used to hate WFH and wanted team meetings and office days. Everyone else was the opposite.

      Now I’m finally getting used to WFH and other people who were staunch “WFH forever” types now want to go hybrid. I keep reading horror stories online about companies forcing hybrid, but ours is going to go hybrid all on its own.

      Pretty sure this isn’t isolated to us, but I think it overlaps with the younger crowd wanting to go back to the office, which is in a nicer downtown area near restaurants and nice places to walk. So it’s not like a punishment to go there:-)

    4. AnotherLibrarian*

      I just went to my first in-person conference in years and it was so much fun. I had missed it so much!

    5. Retired Professor*

      One of the bummers of the end of my career was that I attended my last conference in February 2020 (of course without knowing it was my last conference.) I missed conferences during Covid and then I retired. They always refreshed my mood and my love for my field. Plus I did not get a chance to say goodbye to all my conference buddies. I feel bad about it.

    6. allathian*

      I went to my first post-Covid in-person conference (one day) two weeks ago, and while I was pretty tired afterwards, it was also wonderful to get to do some in-person networking and to listen to a few pretty good and thought-provoking presentations.

      I’m scheduled to go to the next 2-day professional conference for my field in October, and I’m really looking forward to it.

    7. Mimmy*

      You’re probably missing the energy that comes from being around other professionals in your field. Virtual conferences are great for some people, but I went to a few conferences before COVID, and I loved it. I did one multi-day virtual conference during COVID, and it is actually more taxing to sit in front of a computer for 6 hours than it is going from room to room at an in-person conference. If cost and transportation weren’t factors for me, I would definitely attend in-person.

    8. carcinization*

      I went to one a couple of weeks back and felt exactly the same way! Also I won a door prize (it was like, a travel cup, some candy, pens, fidgets, etc., but it still made me happy)! Also I got a giggle out of the sound folks testing the system by playing the uncut version of “Semi-Charmed Life,” that was quite a blast from the past to hear at 8am whilst eating mediocre free pastries!

    9. ThePlagueIsNotOver*

      Please be careful. The hybrid conference I recently attended virtually had Covid diagnoses within the first couple of hours and. y sister just got Covid from a different event (most likely). As much as people want it to be the plague is not over.

  51. Anon for today*

    My company has an intern program every year with interns from an array of colleges spread over several departments. For at least the past 4 years, the widget department’s interns have all been from the same school (the widget department head’s alma mater). I believe this department head interviews multiple candidates but always winds up choosing one from their alma mater. I’m not crazy about this apparent favoritism, but I’m also concerned about possible discrimination – said school is exclusively associated with one religion. I truly believe the intentions of the department head are good and they just wants to give students at their alma mater an internship, even though I don’t agree with them doing this every year, but could this be seen as discriminatory?

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      Is this a hill you are willing to die on? If so, you can bring it to HR’s attention as a “I want to protect the company from any claims of discrimination” way. Just be aware that it’s very likely to get back to Mr. Widgets who raised it.

      1. Anon for today*

        Thanks for replying! I am concerned with Mr. Widgets finding out if I were to complain, since I work with him and he’s great, except for this one thing. And I do want to protect the company. However, I’m angry at them for allowing something like this to happen. I’d understand maybe once every other year or every two years, but EVERY year? The every year part (in my opinion) makes me side-eye the “but they were the best candidate” argument. So I have some thinking to do.
        Thanks again!

    2. ferrina*

      “School attended” isn’t a protected class and doesn’t meet the threshold of discrimination unless there are other factors at play (if all candidates are of the same race, sex, religion, etc.)

      If you’ve got a good relationship with Mr. Widgets, you may be able to bring it up in a jokey way.
      “Are we going to get another You U intern this year, or are we going to try a different school?”
      Don’t argue- he’s not going to be swayed by logic.

      1. Anon for today*

        Thanks for your reply! There’s a good chance that by only choosing students from this school, it could be argued that they are only choosing students who belong to this religion – with this particular school, 99% of the student body are members of the church (from an article on the school’s website). However I may need to just sit this one out, although I may jokingly bring it up with Mr. Widgets in the way you suggested if it feels appropriate. Thanks again!

    3. AnotherLibrarian*

      I’m not sure this reaches the threshold for discrimination. School alma mater isn’t exactly a protected class and while it maybe that the school is religious, it does not always follow that all students there are of that religion. (I worked at a Christian college and we have students of all faiths and no faith who attended.) So, I would be hesitant to make an argument on that basis. I get wanting to get a range of students, but I would be more concerned if there was no other form of diversity in the hiring. For example, if all the students were white women, then that might be more troubling than them all coming from one school. I think ferrina’s suggestion of a joking response might be one way to approach it gently.

      1. Anon for today*

        Appreciate your reply! I don’t think I’ll be pursuing this except maybe in the joking way ferrina suggested. I already mentioned it in my reply to ferrina, but with this school something like 99% of the student body belongs to the church, so I’m concerned it could be argued that by only choosing students from this school they are only choosing students who belong to this religion. Which I don’t think is the intention of this department head, I think they’re just trying to be a helpful alumnus.
        Thanks again!

  52. Roxbury*

    My boss seems upset because I was out sick for one day. It’s not like I’m out a lot either. The last time I was out was in the winter for a medical reason.

    I’m a hard worker yet she seems to always be on my case. Once in a while she’ll thank me for completing an assignment. She plays favorites and they sit in her office and talk about non-work stuff while the rest of us are actually doing the work!

    She gets mad when I don’t respond to emails but she never sends them to me/I’m not copied on them.

    I’m trying to find a new job, but until then how do I stay sane in a crazy, toxic place?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      There can be some freedom in accepting that a certain person doesn’t like you, and that’s about them, not you. Your actions won’t affect her feelings, so do things (work tasks, taking sick days when necessary, etc.) for you, not for her.

      Another strategy is emotionally distancing yourself by pretending you are a biologist narrating a nature documentary. “The bossus favoriticus have gathered in the office to exchange social chatter and cement their status at the top of the hierarchy by demonstrating that they do not have to work.”

      1. ferrina*

        I’m a fan of pretending like I’m in a sitcom or at the start of a way-too-intricate sci-fi novel where aliens will be observing the planet (if I get too annoyed, I imagine bizarre alien technology inserted into the scenario- oh no, Boss went too close to the frazoid machine and she turned green, and now she’s livid and taking it out on us while pretending like she’s not green!)

        Anything you can do to just not care about her. Her weirdness and awfulness is a reflection of her, not of you. You can’t make her happy when she doesn’t want to be happy. Don’t let her take up your brain space. I know, way easier said than done.

    2. MaryLoo*

      How the heck can you respond to an email you never received? What does she say when you tell her that? (Which I would absolutely say to her: “you didn’t send me that email. How was I supposed to reply?”

      Ignore any “seems to be upset” behavior from your boss. If she makes a comment, just say “I was sick”.

      Meanwhile pretend you’re an researcher observing a strange culture. And get your resume out there.

      1. Roxbury*

        I told her that I would check my emails to see if I missed it. I didn’t. She then brought it up AGAIN so I told her calmly yet in a serious tone, “Boss, I don’t have that email.” She then backed off and mumbled something about re-sending it to me.

    3. DefinitiveAnn*

      In the words of Alison, “Your boss sucks and isn’t going to change. I’m sorry.”

    4. Sharkuterie*

      Do the minimum to keep your job and apply for other jobs so you can leave soon.

  53. Not My Money*

    Anyone else here affected by the WGA strike? My project has paused but they’re hoping to come back in August or September. My team might have to take some time off but we’re hoping to keep most everyone on for the duration.

    1. Elder Grad Student*

      Not affected but just chiming in to say I feel for you. I used to work in unscripted TV and I marched when we were trying to get union status.

      1. Jinni*

        I’m still a little (okay a LOT) angry that unscripted got pushed by the wayside. Not to mention the carve outs for streaming.

        I think the whole WGA and writers would be stronger for having stood stronger all those years back. My scripted writer friends are marching (one studio is around the corner from me), and I support them.

        So many ancillary businesses/projects are on hold. I’m not sure what that fallout will be, though. A lot of entertainment and adjacent businesses had barely recovered from COVID before this happened (though the strike was anticipated).

  54. Money, please!*

    When should I ask for a raise?
    I’ve been at my current job (small business of about 40 people) for two years with one raise a little over a year ago, I’ve taken on some new responsibilities and get consistently good feedback, and I believe my pay is at the lower end of the market for my area, all of which suggest asking for a raise now.
    Meanwhile, sales at the company haven’t been great and there is some palpable concern and loss of morale. There are also big changes coming for my department before the end of the year that will require me to step up and learn new stuff. Sales traditionally pick up in the fall into the winter holidays.
    Should I ask now or wait until I’ve handled the changes (hopefully well) and sales have improved?

    1. ferrina*

      Depends. Will the new skills make you more valuable? You can’t ask for two raises in one year, so does it make sense to ask for a raise based on where your skills are now, or do you want to wait and ask for a raise based on where your skills will be. It really depends on what the big changes are and how much that will change your role. It may make a lot more sense to wait until the changes come and then say “My role has changed a lot, and I’d like to talk about how we can get my compensation to reflect that.”

      Unless you work in sales, the sales numbers aren’t your concern. Other people’s work doesn’t impact your value. It can impact how willing your manager is to have that conversation, but you don’t need to wait until the company is completely happy with its finances. That’s not how business works.

    2. EMP*

      Does your company have a regular review schedule? If so, that’s usually when to bring up a raise. If not, it sounds like you’ll have a better case after the changes you mention at the end of the year.

  55. Stevie Budd*

    Hypothetical travel question – you are traveling to attend a meeting and on the way home, your second flight is delayed (but as is, you would still make the next connecting flight). The airline gives you the option to change your next flight, and you can get a direct flight the following day. Rather than waiting to see if the flight will be further delayed, and given that the original flight itinerary kind of sucked with you getting back quite late, you decide to stay the night and fly direct the next day (and enjoy the layover city for the evening). The question is – do you pay for your hotel or does your employer?

    1. Anastia Beaverhousen*

      The employer or the airline, it is a work trip and is not your expense.

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

      Employer would. It’s not like you chose that the flight was delayed, you chose not to take the chance and have to spend your night on the floor of an airport. I would think any reasonable company would understand that.

      Question: does your company have a hotline that you can call when you are traveling. Although I don’t travel for work, I often help arrange travel for others. We have a hotline to call for different issues while traveling. If your company has this it would be a good idea to call and ask what the procedure is. They may have a list of hotels in the city that are approved that you can stay at.

    3. AnotherLibrarian*

      Hmmm… I think this would come down if the second option (the flight the next day) was necessary or a preference. At my work, we can’t change our own travel without approval from our travel office (with exceptions for emergency reroutes done automatically by the airline.) So, if I took the flight on the next day, I would need approval from the travel office. If I had approval, it would be covered by the employer. If I did not, it would be on me. So, I guess depends on your employer.

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

      If its not being covered by the airport I would think it is the company because it is not your fault the flight was delayed and you shouldn’t have to take the chance and be stuck at the airport if the flight is delayed further. Any reasonable company would see it that way.
      Do you know if you have a hotline that you can call for travel questions when this happens? At my place we have a number for travel issues that is 24/7. they may have information for you. Or can you call someone at work if it’s not too late or a weekend? Your boss or whoever does travel?

    5. Hazelthyme*

      My company has always paid for any additional expenses I’ve incurred due to travel delays, and has never questioned any of these expenses. I do my part by including a short note of explanation with my expense report (e.g., “additional overnight in Chicago due to flight delay”), and doing my best to keep the expenses moderate.

  56. Come On Eileen*

    Have any of you taken FMLA for a few weeks/a month to help an elderly parent recover from major surgery? I’m trying to gauge if I need to do this – my 78-year-old mom had bypass surgery a week ago and returned home yesterday. My dad is 84 and has full mental faculties but his body is aging alongside hers and I’m not confident he’s got everything needed to take care of her while she heals. She will have a home health nurse come by but I suspect that is just for wound care, etc. I’m not sure if I should look into FMLA or not. I am remote so could in theory work while taking care of her – that said, I am terrible at mutltitasking and compartmentalizing and fear I’d drop the ball on work stuff if I was trying to get it done while also tending to Mom’s needs. Any advice?

    1. Nesprin*

      You can setup intermittent FMLA and decide not to use it if it turns out that she doesn’t need help. I’m guessing she’ll need help with toileting and bathing and probably will want company- I’d guess that your 84 year old dad is not the one who can help your mom move.

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      I’m not hearing any downsides to taking FMLA, so why not? This is a perfect use of FMLA, it’s available, and it sounds like it would make your life easier.

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        Wanted to add that FMLA doesn’t have to be used in one chunk either – I know my mom used FMLA to be able to look after my grandfather one day a week. So if after the initial recovery you wanted to set up a dedicated caring schedule without completely leaving work, that’s an option too.

    3. ferrina*

      My mom uses intermittent FMLA to look after her mother who has dementia. She’s able to take time for doctor’s appts, etc., while still working. It’s been a good solution for her- she’s able to take time when she needs and otherwise keep a normal work schedule. Definitely recommend looking in to it.

    4. Mockingjay*

      I’ve used FMLA for an adult child who was recovering from a severe illness and hospitalization. I took it for the same reason as you: I couldn’t function effectively at work when I was spending all my time on the phone coordinating care in prep for her return home, and then looking after her those first few weeks. FMLA was a life-saver for both of us. My company was extraordinarily supportive during the paperwork and arranging coverage for my tasks. When I returned after 4 weeks, I was ready to perform again. My daughter was recovering well and I no longer had the mental drain that comes with caregiving.

      Apply for it.

    5. Me*

      I took FMLA to care for my adult daughter after some major surgery. It was emergency surgery that was not planned. My company uses an outside vendor to process those types of leaves, so I just kept my bosses updated as to when I expected to come back. I was initially approve for a month, but only ended up taking 3 weeks. It all went super smooth, except one ‘super fun’ co-worker who made comments about me letting down the team.

  57. Overeducated*

    Anyone else feeling a tension between a summer busy season at work and kids out of school at home?

    Work is crazier than usual because we’ve gone back “hybrid” after being remote for 3 years, so in addition to a cross-country work trip the second week of my kids’ summer vacation, I’m feeling obligated to drive 1.5 hours to the office more than my required schedule to onboard interns and fellows throughout June and July, and support them with “in office presence” and field trips throughout the summer. At the same time, this is the time my kids are out of school, and in camps varying week to week with different locations and pick up time (huge logistics challenge), so I’d rather take more time off to spend with them!

    Any tips on making this work better? How much do others on a regular hybrid schedule alter it on a week to week basis for others’ benefit?

    1. ferrina*

      no advice, just sympathy. I’ve got some major projects + kids end-of-school year activities (why does the end of school activities last for two weeks!?). I’m working some weird hours to get everything done, and I’ve lived in a constant headache for the last week.

  58. Llama Wrangler*

    I asked last week, but in light of this week’s post about the ergonomic chair debacle, what are people’s experiences with companies using third party companies to manage ADA requests?

  59. DEI help*

    Suggestions for meaningful and effective company initiatives for Pride month/Pride season this year? I’m on the recently launched DEI committee for our Canadian/US company and personally feeling… a lot about Pride this year. Not sure but I may be the only LGBTQ2S committee member and want us to handle this well.

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      This isn’t directly related to Pride, but I think it could work for it. My company is big on volunteering and donating, and it offers employees two paid days specifically for volunteering (for any cause and whenever), and matches charitable donations, double matching them for charities the company partners with (all real, local, and good charities) during the annual giving campaign. Could your company do something like that for Pride? It might be a little late to start since it’s already June, but it could be something for next year.

      Empowering/encouraging employees to volunteer and donate (while putting their money with their mouth is by matching contributions) might be a more meaningful/impactful campaign than the typical shallow rainbow-colored efforts a lot of companies roll out this time of year.

      1. DEI help*

        Thank you! That is a great suggestion, and I agree, to just rainbow-wash our logo and put out a LinkedIn post doesn’t sit right with me.

  60. pally*

    It seems that one is not a ‘real’ manager unless one is managing an employee.

    I just got rejected from a job because, even though my job title is “QA Manager”, presently I don’t manage any employees. I do run the entire department. What job title do I use if I am in charge of an entire department, but am not supervising any employees?

    (I did manage one report; however, they left a few years ago and the company decided not to replace this person. So yeah, am doing two jobs.)

    My thought is to use “QA Department Manager” as the job title.
    Or should I put “QA Manager (with zero reports)” as the job title?

    1. ferrina*

      Don’t add the parentheses. It just doesn’t read well.

      Yes, people will assume that a Department Manager manages a department of multiple people. In the interview, you can explain that while you do have management experience, your department is currently a department of 1. If the job you are applying for is a people-manager role, you can also note in your cover letter that while you currently do not oversee a team, you have experience and where you shone as a manager was in ABC.

    2. Prospect Gone Bad*

      I think you are reading way too much into this reject. Many many people have job titles like Operations Manager or Account Manager or Contract Manager or Data Manager and don’t manage people.

      In fact, I assume people don’t manage anyone unless they slip in number of report or something like that into a bullet point

    3. A Simple Narwhal*

      Were you rejected because they thought your job title was misleading/deceptive? Because regardless of how many reports you do or don’t have, your job title is still “QA Manager”, and I’d be hesitant to represent it as something it’s not on your resume. Plus you did have a report, so it’s not like you have a completely non-management role (for example I’m a teapot manager, but I manage teapots, not people).

      I think that company was being weird and I wouldn’t think too much about it.

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

        Yeah I think i remember seing something before on here where the person was a project manager but they managed the project not managing the people doing the project. So I think this is something that happens a lot.

    4. AnotherLibrarian*

      Does the job require supervisory experience? You can’t fix the job title, but you can clarify it if there’s a job title that doesn’t have “manager” in it that’s more common in your field. I don’t love the “zero reports’ option, because that sounds like a negative thing, but maybe, “QA Manager” (Other Common Job Title that doesn’t hint at management). Not sure that was helpful.

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

      Yeah that kind of sucks. You don’t want to change your title or anything. But maybe in your resume you can somehow make it clear that you ran the department. Then also address it in your cover letter. maybe like

      “as a QA Manager I did X,Y Z without any supporting employees.

    6. Peanut Hamper*

      I think you dodged a bullet. There are so many things that can be managed besides people, such as accounts, projects, etc. They were just being weird.

    7. WantonSeedStitch*

      Did you get rejected because of your title, or because you don’t have experience managing employees? If they didn’t make it clear that this was something that was required in the role, the problem is with their job posting, not you.

    8. Qwerty*

      Are you sure that they just didn’t want someone with experience in people-managing?

      Keep your title to match your actual job title. Have your bullet points reflect the work that you do.

      I am a bit confused by how you run a department without anyone in the department reporting to you. Sounds difficult! Maybe practice with a friend on phrasing during interviews to show the leadership items you do have while being transparent about what you don’t have experience in. A phrase that pops up on the dev side is “people manager” to distinguish who is running the tech side vs who is managing the people.

  61. Any UK HR public sector type people around?*

    We have the strangest situation I have come across with an employee and HR aren’t being helpful in how to proceed at all. If any one has been in a similar situation or has knowledge of steps we could take I’d be grateful for input.

    So, this is the UK, and a public sector-ish body which means that there are all sorts of procedures to follow when an employee is on sick leave, employment at will is not a thing here, everyone has contracts, etc. A new employee was hired, was great for the first few weeks, then became ill and has now been off work for several weeks. Where it becomes strange is that despite what is now almost daily contact with the employee, we are no further forward in getting a doctor’s note from them. The employee has told us several times that they have a GP appointment to get the note and then there will be some reason why the appointment was not attended and we are given another date they say it has been arranged to. We are really in the dark and struggling here! I’ve never come across an employee that doesn’t just submit a sick note when they are over self certification days. Work involves using and supervising others using machinery and things like chemical substances so even though they are now saying they want to come back to work (but apparently had internet problems that prevented them from attending a zoom meeting today), there needs to be a back to work plan, etc. There is no probationary period in the contract. I am really just lost now on how to proceed, as is next level up management. HR said “aren’t they back at work” to the last few attempts to get any actual help from them. The employee hadn’t even worked enough weeks to have got in to receiving full sick pay. Is this just a strange story that will one day become funny and is already becoming legend?

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

      I’m not in UK but, is HR aware that you aren’t getting a doctor’s note from the employee? Sometimes there can be a disconnect with HR and so they might not realize the whole problem. I would sit down with HR and explain whats going on and that you need help on what your next steps are.

      1. Any UK HR public sector type people around?*

        Yes, they’ve been kept very fully informed and looped in to things from our end, they’d just rather not get involved and have to offer concrete advice. This is historically how they operate, vanishing and being unresponsive when there are issues their professional opinion is needed on.

        We’ve only had a bit more interest from them this week as payroll has been run, resulting in an overpayment to the employee because of the lack of documentation, which we’re assuming has got someone higher up shouting at them!

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      They are stringing this out for as long as the ‘company’ will keep them on the books – seems to me that they need to be employed on paper for some reason and the sick pay is secondary. Maybe even just avoiding a cv gap!

      Is there any language in your policies about appointing the org’s own doctor or occupational health to assess them – that could be the next thing to explore.

      If they aren’t following the sickness process and there’s no genuine reason (e.g. unconscious in hospital you obviously wouldn’t be calling in, but seems like they have been heard from) I think it is time to start invoking the official capability process.

      1. Any UK HR public sector type people around?*

        They got referred to occupational health two, maybe three weeks ago and as far as we know haven’t engaged with them yet.

        By midweek with the latest missed doctors appointment I’d decided the employee was working a second job while off ill, after todays inability to appear on screen I’d moved it on to they aren’t actually in the country and the background would have been somewhere exotic if they’d shown it…. Or they are just incredibly flakey.

        It’s very frustrating that no issues showed up at interview, in the job history, etc and they were genuinely great the first month.

    3. Cordelia*

      I’m in the UK and a manager in the public sector, but not HR. But our sick notes have to begin from the first day of sickness past the self-cert period – so the employee could self-cert for (I think it’s) 7 days but the sick note will need to start from the next day or they won’t be entitled to sick pay. Are they expecting to get the GP to backdate a note for several weeks? I think that is highly unlikely to happen. So they are not currently entitled to sick pay, but are not coming to work – for us, that would be unauthorised absence, they would not be paid and it would be a reason to terminate the contract – there is probably something about this in your leave policy? I would be very explicit with HR about this situation, escalating within HR if needed.

      1. Any UK HR public sector type people around?*

        Thank you! That gives me an angle to start digging in to.

    4. Jessi*

      The thing is sick pay in the uk is like £147 a week, so pretty much nothing. You could try calling ACAS for advice?

      1. Any UK HR public sector type people around?*

        Public sector, 6 months full pay 6 months half pay, had they actually worked another month before going off sick. As it is they are eligible for half pay.

        I’ll have a look at ACAS, thank you.

    5. Weirdness*

      There are other jobs where a note wouldn’t be required in this situation. Can you just drop the sick more for now and ask them point blank if they intend to come back to work and if so what date? If at that point they no show, terminate? It would be helpful if HR were looped in.

  62. Missing My PTO*

    How do you adjust from having unlimited PTO to 10 days?

    I currently work at a SAAS startup, fully remote and unlimited PTO but crappy other benefits. I’m going to accept an offer with an established financial firm, hybrid schedule with 3 office days, only 10 PTO days until year 4, but amazing benefits in every other way. The trade off in stability and long-term growth is worth it, but I’m already mourning the flexibility of planning long weekends or other trips whenever I want. I don’t even take long vacations, but I appreciate having the option — I’ve never had to hoard vacation days.

    Any tips or words of encouragement for making this adjustment?

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      If you haven’t accepted the new job offer, could you try negotiating for some more PTO? 10 days is pretty lousy in general, so I think it’s worth seeing if there’s any wiggle room there.

      If not, well, I’d try and take as much PTO as possible now before you quit and enjoy it as much as you can!

      1. Missing My PTO*

        I did discuss it with the recruiter once I got the offer, and she was transparent that the likelihood of earning additional days off is low (it’s very standardized and structured). She agrees with me that 10 days is low though, and is checking with the hiring manager to see if she can get more information about what might be possible within that team even if it’s not ~official~ policy.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Have you tried to negotiate for more days? Because that is a HUGE difference. In the days before unlimited PTO I went from 20 days to 10 and I smacked myself super hard for not fully appreciating the difference before I accepted the offer.

      As far as the adjustment… think very carefully. Are they flexible? Are summers slow? How many holidays do you get off? If you’re part of a minority religion, do you have to take PTO for major holidays? Flexibility and summer Fridays honestly make a giant difference, especially if you can work out long weekends around summer holidays like Juneteenth and July 4th (if you’re in the US).

      If you work from home 2 days/week and they let you work from anywhere, that will help– especially if a lot of your work is mobile-friendly. For example, I can check Slack from my phone at any time and any place, and as long as I respond, it all works out.

      1. Missing My PTO*

        I responded to Narwhal above, but I am mid-negotiation! The recruiter thinks extra PTO is unlikely, but is checking with the hiring manager to see what other flexibility is available. She also shared that they operate within flex hours, so at least I have some wiggle room to start and end my day earlier than I thought I did.

        Your last paragraph is what I’m holding on to! In addition to 10 PTO days, I’ll also get 2 personal days, a floating holiday, 10 company holidays, and 6 sick days — so between that sprinkling of time plus the remote days, I think (hope) it will be manageable if they can’t offer additional time.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      I’ve worked at companies that only give a fixed number of vacation days (but usually 15, not 10) and what I do is make a rough plan for the vacation time I want to take at the beginning of the year. For example, one year I might know I need to reserve 5 days for a family trip around Christmastime, I need 2 days to make a long weekend so I can visit a friend in a different city, and 4 days (plus a company holiday) for a summer trip, so that leaves me with 4 days to use for sporadic days off during the year. Your math will look different with only 10 days, but the idea is the same.

    4. MacGillicuddy*

      What are they calling PTO? Are those only vacation days? Does PTO mean vacation and sick? That’s ridiculous.

      Are they counting paid national holidays like July 4th and Thanksgiving in the PTO number (it’s exceptionally sleazy when companies do this).

      Are you sure the added benefits are worth it?

  63. disconnect*

    Any recommendations on new manager training? Google gives lots and lots and lots of results. How to filter? What to look for? What experiences have you had?

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

    Is HR aware that you aren’t getting a doctors note from the employee? Sometimes there can be a disconnect with HR and so they might not realize the whole problem. I would sit down with HR and explain whats going on and that you need help on what your next steps are.

  65. LaFramboise*

    For all you academics out there- when your Dean retires, does your discipline/group/division throw a retirement party for them? And any details on how to do it, if you have them, would be appreciated!

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      We did. We just got cake and did a potluck. We also had a card everyone signed. I assume you mean, really retires, not just stepping down from Dean.

    2. AdademicStaff*

      We do a full academic symposium for all tenured faculty administrator retirements – usually a day and half with panels on a topic of particular interest to the retiring faculty member. And a dinner with all the speakers and the rest of the school senior administrators. It is a whole production but we are a relatively small unit so it doesn’t happen so often.

    3. LaFramboise*

      thanks for your replies. yes, an actual retirement after decades of service.

  66. handfulofbees*

    wanted to thank folks who replied last week re: struggling with full time. nice to know that what I’m struggling with isn’t normal. I do have some sort of sleep disorder that’s been resistant to diagnosis and treatment, so it might be time to try looking into that again.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Sorry to hear that your struggling with a sleep disorder. I hope you’re more successful with diagnosis and treatment this time around!

  67. beep beep*

    Looking for advice and commiseration on being NB at work in… I don’t know, a “quiet” way, I guess? I have no real interest in being loud about it, it’s just my identity and I just want it to be respected by the people I work with every day. That’s already a struggle, but at least I know my team are trying to get it right. But today what brought it up was that I got an email from someone in my organization trying to set up a “women’s forum” for women in the organization. Happy pride! I’m a woman, I guess! I don’t even know how I got on this list, I have myself down as male out of… I don’t know, spite, I guess, in our main employee information system. (There is no NB option.)

    I want to push back, but I’ve never spoken to the woman organizing this before, and I have no idea how she’ll react. I would genuinely be interested in a networking group for people who aren’t men, but not one for women and women-lite, you know? I might not be loud about the fact that I’m not a woman, but I’m not, and it’s important to me that my identity is respected.

    Any tips or scripts are welcome. Thank you.

    1. ferrina*

      That sounds so frustrating! How is your HR? This is something that my company’s HR would definitely want to have a quiet word with the organizer about not assuming gender identities. (and really, they should have a non-binary option in the work set demographics)

      1. beep beep*

        HR is pretty good- when I onboarded there was someone I was introduced to that handles gender affirming care in general and I’ve spoken with her a few more times. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do what felt like making a fuss about it, but she was pretty good about asking me about what I wanted at the time, so I might consult with her.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      I think you would be fine to just delete and ignore the email if you want to just stop there. It’s fine to be “quiet” about it, you don’t have to be a goodwill ambassador for all humankind to be a valid identity. “Not interested, thanks” is also a valid reply that doesn’t need to dive into explaining your gender to someone else. If you wanted to be a little more responsive, you could ask the organizer about non-binary participants, ” Hi Person, I’m beep beep, I actually identify as nonbinary not female. (pronouns if you want to share them). Does your group have space for people like me? Hope your day goes well, Beep Beep.” Maybe add a line something you find optimistic about the group.

    3. EMP*

      I think a kind but factual reply to the organizing woman could be something like “I saw you included me on the woman’s forum list. I’m actually non binary and not a woman. If there is interest in a broader group for all marginalized genders please let me know however if this forum is for women specifically, I’d prefer being left off the list.”

      Also, not to excuse your coworker, I still think bringing up the label issue there is important, but is there a chance the email went out to everyone in your group/company? Might be worth a casual ask to a colleague just to check if it was a BCC list or something.

      1. beep beep*

        That’s probably a good script, thank you. I might modify it some but it sounds very reasonable.

        I don’t think this email is a whole-org thing, there’s a few dozen people in CC and that’s it that I can see (big company)- I recognize all my female team members on it and some women who sit near me in the same org, but I might ask how the list was collated.

    4. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

      I’m an NB person who’s mistaken for a woman a lot more these days (when I was younger I was mistaken for a man… I guess it evens out?) and invited to things advertised as being for women.
      My usual response is to politely ask for clarification, like, “Thanks for the invite to [specific event with “women’s” in the name of it]. Is it meant for women only, or women and gender-minority people, or is it woman-focused but people of any gender are welcome?”
      If they answer one of those, I can respond accordingly:
      Event for women only: “Well, as I’m not a woman, I’d better opt out. I hope y’all have a successful event though” and optionally “If your outreach was meant to target women, I think my name got on the list by mistake. Could you take it off, please?”
      Event for women and gender minorities: “I’m glad you included gender minorities; that means I can accept the invitation. I’m looking forward to it.”
      Woman-focused but anyone can participate: depending on how I’m feeling at the time, either “Thanks for clarifying. I don’t think a woman-focused event would be a good fit for me, and I don’t want to derail your plans, so I’ll opt out” or “That sounds like something I could benefit from/contribute to even though I’m not a woman, but I don’t want to derail your plans; is there anything you want non-women participants to keep in mind?”

      If the organizer’s response is like “it’s for women only but you’d be welcome” — I’ve gotten this a few times– I tend to be cheerfully firm that if it is for women it is NOT for me, and be cordially, willfully obtuse to the implied dismissal of my identity. I don’t *feel* welcome in a circumstance where I’m only permitted as a special exception. And I don’t want to take the focus off some other marginalized group to push for my inclusion in their thing; I’d rather organize a more-inclusive thing for another time.

    5. tired enby*

      This happened to me! except I was added to a private slack channel for women at the company. I am NB and unfortunately people always assume I am female. in my case it was the head of HR who had added everyone so I sent her a private DM. I said something along the lines of “I am nonbinary so I don’t think the women’s channel is right for me, but thanks anyways”. She immediately apologized, thanked me for being upfront with her, and asked if there was anything she could do to support me.
      I think if the person setting this up is a leader or has influence it might be worth it to give them a little more feedback in terms of how they could be more inclusive and better support their gender-expansive employees — if you’re comfortable doing that! If they are just a regular employee, though, maybe simply reply saying that you are not a woman and as such this is not the right group for you. If she reacts poorly, that’s on her, not you! And personally I find it helpful to word these messages in a way that makes it clear I assume the recipient will respond reasonably, the same way they would to correcting a misspelled name or something.
      I feel your pain though. It’s exhausting to constantly correct people on your gender, especially pronouns. I’ve been using they/them exclusively at work for at least 2 years now and it feels like I am still correcting people multiple times per week. At least it’s not every day anymore, I guess…

  68. Health insurance question*

    Hi – I could use some help with a health insurance coverage question. I was seeing a local doctor who sold his practice to one of the big medical conglomerates. During the transition, they sent out a letter informing patients about what was happening, and included a list of plans they would still be accepting. I was surprised to see a plan that included the other local conglomerate’s name but in a different order than my plan (think Cross Blue instead of Blue Cross). I went to my appointment with the PA and asked if they wanted to run my insurance and they hand waved me off. Fast forward a new months and my insurance declined the claim. I called the office and asked them to bill it under the doctor’s name as he was still on the list. Nope. I called the conglomerate’s helpline. Nothing. Now I’m getting billed for almost $450 for the visit, which is a lot.
    Any suggestions as to what to do? I feel like I’m just stuck with a bill I wasn’t expecting to pay, but will if necessary. Thank you!

    1. dude, who moved my cheese?*

      I’m sorry to hear – that’s very stressful! Try posting on reddit in the subreddit r/healthinsurance

    2. mreasy*

      You should call your insurance directly. It could be an admin error on their end.

    3. Interesting…*

      I’ve also experienced errors by the practice. The insurance people can be very helpful in these situations.

  69. Glazed Donut*

    Government employees: The head of my (state) agency is leaving, and with that, most of upper-level leadership is also resigning to give the new head space to bring in a new cabinet and slate of leadership. Within my division, everyone above a specific level is leaving. Right now the only remaining person above me is my direct supervisor, who happens to be out on family leave for a few months.
    If you’ve experienced something similar, how long did it take to settle down/feel normal? Any advice?

  70. Is it Friday yet?*

    My partner is looking to switch out of big law into an in house legal role or go to another firm (bc they’re not going to make partner after 17-ish years, and I guess this is what happens) plus moving cities. Law is very outside my job norms – curious if anyone has tips or advice on having gone through this? Esp how it differs from other job hunts, salary trade offs, or things I’m not even thinking of. Want to be supportive!

    1. uisce chick*

      My partner moved from big law to in-house and it has been a good transition. I don’t have any advice for the job search since he was recruited but many people consider in house to be the dream: no billable hours, no rain-making. There are pluses and minuses, obviously, but he’s home every day by six and just not having the pressure of making budget has been huge. I wish them good luck in their search and sending good thoughts

    2. Jinni*

      1. Recruiters (those you hire). A friend who has moved from big law to in house several times (trailing spouse) always does this successfully.
      2. You didn’t say what department they work in, but MANY big law people go work for clients in house. (I know the most from litigation/labor & employment/corporate).
      3. I went in house from a job posting on ACC (Association for Corporate Counsel). They used to be a pretty good resource. I don’t know now, though.

      Are they committed to in house? Quite a few friends are doing long term contracting directly for corporate or law firms with great money and no need to commit to full-time. We all graduated 20+ years ago, though, and are more concerned with kids/free time, etc., than we used to be.

      1. Is it Friday yet?*

        Sounds like we’re similar-ish ages. 1- didn’t know you could hire a recruiter, good tip. 2- it’s corporate real estate. They’re not definite about going in house vs something else, still exploring what all the options are, even another firm? I’ll check out ACC and share the link, thanks!

        1. Jinni*

          I’m a 1996 law grad and my last job was, ironically, in house corporate real estate. There are some interesting positions for big corporations like McDonalds and oil companies.

  71. Be the Change*

    Does anyone have good ideas for non-wasteful name-tags? I’m hating all these plastic sleeves with lanyards or magnets. (And of course the sticky ones look awful and ruin your clothes.)

      1. Somehow_I_Manage*

        The most common thing I’ve seen is a commitment to recycle and re-use name tag sleeves. To encourage attendees to actually return them, often it’s tied to something they need to pick up at the end of the conference (e.g., parking validation, attendance certificate, etc.).

        1. Little Beans*

          Yeah, every event I go to these days has a box at the door and asks attendees to return their name badge holder at the end so that they can reuse it.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      I recently attended an event which had electronic digital name badges by a UK-based company called Blendology. They are currently better-suited to networking events than longer events like conferences because they’re quite heavy to wear (and for other reasons – apparently the company charges you for every badge that doesn’t get returned, which wouldn’t be ideal for an event where you couldn’t monitor badge returns), but it will be interesting to see how the technology develops in the future.

      The non-digital alternative (though it still involves some plastic) is around-the-neck fabric badge holders, similar to passport holders. These have a clear window for badge inserts and you can get them branded with your logo, though they’re not cheap.

      For our large annual conference, we tell people they can take out the badge insert and return the badge holder, so even though they’re plastic, the holders get used for multiple events.

    2. Be the Change*

      Answering my own question, how about a heavy cardboard one with a braided cotton string or something. Would be a specialty item of course, but for a conference of social justice STEM types, might be super cool.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I have seen these online. They’re some type of shiny card stock and are designed to clip onto a lanyard. They need to be specially printed in advance, though.

    3. WellRed*

      I haven’t received a plastic sleeve in a few years. The lanyard clip’s directly to the card but I don’t know material the card is, exactly. Though then I miss having a place to tuck cards or drink tickets.

    4. WalletBagWithClearPocket*

      One of the conferences I used to attend in before times got a fabric wallet bag with a clear pocket in front that we got to keep as swag. It was awesome. Had room for a phone, small notepad, pen, money, hotel key cards, etc inside but was still lightweight and easy to carry/wear/use. Highly recommend looking for something like this.

  72. Social Ostrich*

    I started with a new company a few months ago, and recently I traveled to another facility with a coworker. He and I drove separately due to separate plans after our trip. The first night of our stay, he took me to the local bar (we were in a small town and he has been there many times before) and we had a great time. We ate and drank and laughed about work and life in general. The next day, I had to teach a training course all day to total strangers, and I have pretty significant social anxiety, so my social battery was drained by the end of the day. I’ve also been battling some digestive issues that make it really hard for me to find safe things to eat, and bar food is just *not* it. By the time we got back to the hotel, I was frazzled and just wanted to spend the evening alone, with some light snack foods for dinner. I told him, “I didn’t sleep very well last night, so I think I’m just going to stay in my room for the evening.” He said, “Well you gotta eat! Do you want to at least grab something?” And I said, “No, that’s ok, I’ll just get something light around here.” I didn’t want to bring anxiety and IBS into the conversation, for obvious reasons.

    I could tell right away that he seemed a little hurt. And he’s been a little distant since then. Just for context: I don’t think there’s any kind of crush going on here. I’m married, he’s in a long-term relationship, and it wasn’t like that at all. It was just really friendly conversation and joking around. I think if he’s bothered, it’s likely because he’s afraid he offended me, or that I generally don’t like him, or that I didn’t have as much fun as he thought I did the night before.

    I’m not sure whether to just let this blow over and assume it will pass, or to bring it up with him. Maybe reassure him that I really had fun hanging out with him, but sometimes when I travel I just need downtime? I don’t want to make a Thing of it, but I also don’t want to lose the great connection we made early on in the trip, because he’s someone I work with closely, and we need to have a great working relationship. Thoughts?

    1. A Girl Named Fred*

      If you work with him pretty closely, I’d suggest making a point to still be your normal level of warm and friendly with him in other interactions. Over time, that’ll best demonstrate that you don’t have anything against him and genuinely needed time to recover, and if he’s reasonable he’ll eventually move past the initial sting he may have felt.

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I think he’s worried he did something to offend you, that you felt pushed into going out the first night, or such like.

      I would bring it up with him.

    3. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

      I kind of think letting it blow over is the way to go, but also that you could facilitate the blowing-over and address it at the same time with an invite to lunch or coffee. “I had a blast getting dinner with you the first night but really wasn’t feeling great the second night. Catch up over coffee soon to make up for lost time?”

      Keep it light and friendly and don’t get too tripped up in trying to figure out what’s going on in his head. Awkward situations happen to everyone despite nobody doing or saying anything wrong, it doesn’t have to be a Thing – you handled the initial exchange fine and you haven’t torpedoed a chance at a great working relationship, but some proactive relationship-building can often go a long way.

    4. Qwerty*

      I think you are overthinking this. Quite likely that you have put more thought into it than he has.

      Odds are that he was bummed in the moment that he got rejected. Maybe was even lonely that night because he counted on hanging out. It’s fine! I think if you bring it up, you risk social anxiety rearing its head and causing yourself to overexplain, which could backfire.

      My recommendation is to casually say that you had fun on the trip with him and leave it there. *If* he brings up the second night, keep the response short and light “yeah, I used up all my socialness on the first night and had to recharge” or “teaching is super draining, I crashed really hard that night”. Needing to recharge is normal!

  73. UrchinTeeth*

    I’m starting a new job search soon and will be looking at out of state jobs for the first time. (I’m in Rhode Island and will be looking at New England states, so not an obscene distance.) I have never looked at jobs in other states before and have so many questions!

    How common is it for places to offer relocation assistance? Will I seem high-maintinence if I try to negotiate it in my compensation? Are there things I should say/not say in my cover letter to convey the “yes, I’ll move asap once I have an offer in hand?” How on earth does someone handle starting a new job and apartment viewing/moving at the same time??

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I have moved states for jobs multiple times! In my case, I all the times I have moved have been multiple states away, so this might not be applicable to all RI-to-other-New-England-state moves.

      Relocation assistance: fairly common, but levels of assistance vary. Relocation assistance I’ve gotten has ranged from a lump-sum of $2,000 to paid-for movers with an additional lump-sum of $4,500 to cover hotels, meals, and any other costs of moving. One company had a policy that they only paid relocation assistance for moves over a certain radius (I think it was 50 mi but can’t say for sure).

      Things to say in a cover letter: I put a line in my cover letters that said, “I am looking to move to [state/area] to be closer to family” because (1) I was, and (2) I wanted something in there that said, “I am serious about moving to [state/area] and I have a reason to stay there once I arrive.” Assuming family doesn’t factor into it for you, I think it is still worthwhile to put in a line about how you want to relocate to [northern Vermont/southern New Hampshire/Western Massachusetts/etc.] so the hiring manager knows you aren’t planning to commute 2+ hr/70+ mi every day.

      Starting a new job and apartment/house-hunting: I got lucky a few times and was able to negotiate for starting the job over a month after I accepted the offer, so I had time to find a place and get the moving process started before I started the job. My most recent move (the one where I was moving closer to family), I had my family find a place for me because it was going to be too much for me to take care of everything in the old city and fly to the new city to look for places. Moving is a stressful time. Tying a move to a new job increases the stress, but it’s definitely still possible. I have found that companies are understanding if you need to take time off in the first few weeks for movers delivering furniture and other move-related activities.

      Good luck with the job search and (possible) move!

    2. MA tech*

      Unless you have really niche expertise I wouldn’t expect relocation assistance for a move within New England (I live/work in Massachusetts and have had coworkers based in NH, RI, and ME so some people wouldn’t even move houses between these states!)

      If you can swing the break in paychecks, once you get to the offer stage I would try to manage your start date to get some time off in between jobs so you can move. Also consider if you can do something short term like an AirBnB in the new location for the first month while you apartment hunt. I don’t know if this is the case in other college towns but around Boston the majority of apartments turn over on September 1st so depending on when you move it may just be take what you can get.

    3. Yes And*

      LOL, there is no such thing as an “obscene distance” in Rhode Island. (I’m from Rhode Island. I kid because I love.)

      Seriously, though – personally, I’ve only ever seen relocation assistance offered when the move is outside of the region. But no reason not to ask! If a company views you as “high maintenance” for negotiating, that’s a red flag that you don’t want to work for that company.

      As a hiring manager who sometimes gets applications from out of state, I do find it helpful when some mention is made of the relocation in the cover letter – if only to reinforce that this applicant understands that this is an in-person (or hybrid) position. If you can truthfully say that you’re excited by the position’s particular location, do. But don’t ask for relocation assistance in the cover letter – that’s for after they’ve offered you the job.

    4. WantonSeedStitch*

      It’s uncommon unless you have a rare and desirable skill set, and it’s probably MORE likely they’d give it to someone coming from farther away, since as MA tech says, some folks commute that distance rather than move, especially if their workplace is in a higher-COL area. But if the ideal candidate were in, say, Oregon for a hard-to-fill role, it might be more possible to negotiate for relocation assistance. You might try to find out instead if it would be possible to work a hybrid or remote schedule, at least to start out, in order to make it easier to deal with the commuting issue while you find a place to move. You can also try to negotiate a start date a little farther out, and quit your current job a couple weeks before that, to give yourself some time to manage a move.

    5. Alex*

      I think relocation assistance depends heavily on your level (highly unlikely for junior or mid level jobs, unless they require difficult to find skills). And especially in New England, people commute all over and think nothing of it–I work in MA and people commute in from RI, NH, and ME (maybe that’s why we have so much traffic!)

      The plus side is that employers probably won’t blink at the fact that you are applying and may not even consider you and “out of stater” unless maybe you are applying for jobs in Burlington VT. But Boston? They will assume you are going to commute.

      1. WellRed*

        I live in Maine and 100% agree. People commute all over the place here. Portland to Boston isn’t unheard of and I imagine it’s the same from providence. And there’s that Yankee thrift factor.

    6. fhqwhgads*

      If you’re looking for relo assistance from anywhere in RI to, say, anywhere in MA, you probably won’t get it since it’s generally considered commutable (even though I know I’d hate some of the possible drives). If you’re talking, say, Burlington or Bangor, relo would may be reasonable if you have a skill they want and aren’t otherwise finding.

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

    Has anyone used Etsy for a side hustle? I have a thought of making some items that people can purchase and then download (think photos, planner inserts,etc). I was wondering does anyone have any experience with these types of things. How do you handle taxes? Would it be similar to self-employed or freelance taxes? Does anyone know of any resources that I could read or watch that would help me.

    I am in the preliminary phase of getting this started, but I hope by September to have things started.

    1. Decidedly Me*

      Etsy would be a 1099, so yes, it would be just like self-employment taxes. I don’t do Etsy myself, but have done eBay and the like. Good luck with your idea! :D

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I’m willing to bet that there are all sorts of social media folks who have put together videos and other resources that would be relevant to your type of business that may have covered the basics. (And check Etsy’s site for guidance as well.)

      I’d encourage you especially to identify your “colleagues” who are currently using Etsy in a capacity similar (but not identical) to your approach — follow them on social media etc etc and when you find one who particularly resonates with you, just bite the bullet and reach out and ask if they have some time to share some ideas with you.

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

        Thanks. i figured someone there has to be something out there on the Etsy page. I’m at the beginning stages of just thinking things through. I got the idea literally last week while talking with a coworker.

  75. nonacademichere*

    Looking for advice from those who have supported a partner during a difficult time finishing a dissertation — or who have been on the other side.

    My partner just found out that they need to make major revisions to their PhD dissertation, after years of work on it. Going from “I should be done at the end of summer” to “I may not finish.” (Long story short, first advisor died, new advisor has very different view of the work so far.)

    I’m devastated for my partner and unsure how to help. I work in a fairly “typical” corporate job and while I did spend some time in an academic-adjacent field, don’t have that much personal experience in this other world. Any advice on how to navigate this, especially how to balance support and with giving space, would be appreciated.

    1. Glazed Donut*

      I think, if possible, one of the most beneficial things you could do to help would be to take the small “to do” items off the back of the mind list. Things like “ah, I need to call the lawn guys to come and add mulch to the beds” or “I need to remember to take the trash cans out on trash day” — little things that clutter the mind and add to the feeling of stress because they’re all so little and need to get done.
      When I was writing my dissertation and others wanted to help, I knew they meant well, but they didn’t and couldn’t actually help me with that. What I would have loved: someone to vacuum/clean the house, run errands, call the people I needed to call for home/planning needs, etc.

      1. nonacademichere*

        Thank you for this! This is such a good point. We kind of had our unofficial division of labor going but now the workload has changed, you’re right, I’m going to pick up more of the big and little chores.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Ask your partner what they want. Do they want to just vent vs do they want feedback. Ask them how you can help, would basically ignoring them and making a writing retreat no interruptions and food left outside the door be a good strategy or do they still want to be involved in regular life and summer plans etc. Everyone is different.