open thread – August 25-26, 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.

{ 941 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Apologies if you tried to leave a comment earlier and couldn’t — should be working now! (A setting requiring people to be logged in accidentally got checked.)

  2. cardigarden*

    Kind of fitting question, given this morning’s post: gaps on resumes due to having kids, but a smaller gap (like, 2-3 years vs waiting to reenter the workforce once the kids are in middle or high school).

    If you’ve had this kind of gap, did you run into any issues interviewing?

    Hiring managers: how much weight might you give to concerns about rusty skills? I’m thinking about in terms of filling manager-level positions.

    1. LCS*

      I would be less concerned about a 2-3 year gap at a manager level than I would at the front line. Managers typically focus on higher level strategy, planning, people management etc. and the cycle of change in expectations here is a lot slower than what can change transactionally, system-wise etc. for folks performing daily tasks.

      1. cardigarden*

        This is super validating– thanks! I needed a gut check because AnxietyBrain was doing its and I know I can’t trust it.

    2. Generic Name*

      I took 2 years off after my son was born. My first job I had after I went back, I explained the gap in my cover letter. Otherwise, literally no one has asked about it, and I don’t think people even notice it now. I don’t know if it’s because I work in a niche STEM field that’s hard to hire for, or if it just is NBD.

    3. fhqwhgads*

      Not personal experience but someone I know: took 2-3 years completely off, and then did occasional freelance work in their field til kids were in middle school-ish. But the freelance stuff was like, maybe 1-2 projects a year. Basically just enough to be able to realistically claim they’re still up to speed in their industry. And also so industry contacts knew they were still competent, pretty much (so for example references weren’t talking about 10 years ago stuff).

      1. Christmas cookie*

        That’s what I’ve done- I left full time in 2016 when my middle was born. I freelance an average of 10 hours/week (some none at all, almost never 40). I’ve had several jobs offers over the years, stayed fresh. honestly the only areas I felt out of the loop was the way people communicate in office- slack wasn’t a thing when I left, and I had been remote but via WebEx/dial in. It’s all teams now!

        My youngest is going into K and I’m toying with going back full time…but I’m also toying with trying to get more projects instead.

    4. Potatoes*

      I had a gap of about 2 years between full time jobs; my company laid off most of their staff in March 2020 when I was halfway through my pregnancy. In between I was working as a freelancer. I was interviewing last summer and I mentioned that I did have a child in 2020 and had taken a break from working full time for the 2 years. That never came up as an issue at any interview or at my current job.


      I just hired someone who had a 3 year gap because she had to be at home during the pandemic and stayed to home school for a couple of years. It didn’t concern me at all.

    6. Skippy*

      I have a two year gap on my resume, although it was for different reasons. In my most recent job search I ran into a couple of persnickety HR people who were quite negative about it, but the vast majority of people didn’t even ask about it, and even the ones who did ask didn’t seem particularly fazed by it. You never know what people are saying about you when you’re not in the room, though, so it’s hard to tell if it had anything to do with it.

      Personally, I’ve hired lots of people and I’ve never been bothered by gaps. I’m more concerned about whether people can do the job.

    7. Texan In Exile*

      I had a seven-year gap when I started looking for a job in 2012 and found one in six weeks. It was a 50% pay cut – but it was a job. I don’t know if I could have gotten back to my old salary – I moved from Memphis to Milwaukee, which is a different job market.

    8. Twitterpated*

      That depends on the role and how much experience you have otherwise. If I’m hiring for something where technology/software moves fast and you MUST be up to date, then it may be a flag, but I may just give you some kind of assessment to put my mind at ease.

      If you have a lot of experience and there’s a gap for kids, I’m probably not concerned. If you have limited experience then again it’s more of a flag.

  3. I'm sorry, what?*

    I had a new hire this week who, during the space of my two hour presentation (going over our HRIS and benefits) asked me my name 5 times (it’s not at all uncommon or hard to pronounce) and interrupted me 77 times. I know that, because the other new hires were keeping tally marks for how many times she interrupted. They all moved away from sitting with her, and she did not notice at all. She also told me WAY too many details about her personal business, which I don’t need to know, but it did make me sure that she’s either on too many drugs, or not enough. And I say that, because she started telling me all about her doctor’s appointments, and prescriptions, so that’s not conjecture on my part.

    Every time she interrupted, I either told her we would get to it, or answered her question if it was relevant. Or I ignored her, if it didn’t sound like an actual question. But there were some things that we went over SEVERAL times. I told her we’d go through the medical stuff together later this week, and 30 seconds later, she would ask again. It was like nothing stuck.

    On the plus side, all the other new hires in that group for sure know my name, and they were being active listeners that they knew when she interrupted. I’ve had people fall asleep before (insurance is boring) so I’ll take it. And now I’m done with their stuff, so she’s off to her supervisor. Who told the lady who hired this girl that she owes him a Goody powder.

    1. Dust Bunny*


      I’m a terrible auditory processor and also just an all-around anxious person. I’ve never been this bad, but I assume there are people who are. Also, if she’s asking that many questions, she’s probably thinking more about the next question than she is listening to your answers (my dad does this).

      1. I'm sorry, what?*

        Maybe? I think she might just be Like That. At one point, they came in to get locker assignments, and hers is directly across from the room where they had been all week, and where she came directly from. She and the lady assigning lockers had a conversation that went more or less like this-
        Locker Lady- Your locker is going to be in the locker room across the hall from the training room where you’ve been.
        Chatty- Ok, I’ll need someone to show me where that is.
        LL- You saw the locker room when you walked past?
        C- Yeah
        LL-That’s where it is. The lockers are numbered.
        C- But where is it?
        LL- Across the hall
        C- I’ll need someone to show me where it is
        Several people point out to her where it is.
        C- Well, I’ll need someone to show me where it is.

        1. College Career Counselor*

          Oh, my. This person is going to be a lot. How did she keep it together enough in an interview to get hired?

          1. I'm sorry, what?*

            Um, she was able to stand upright, she was breathing, and she could read and write English. That’s really all it takes.
            We don’t have the best process.

            1. CL*

              I once got a job because I had neat handwriting and didn’t interview in a bathing suit. I thought the interviewer was kidding, but then I started working there.

        2. Nea*

          Oh, I have worked with a couple of people like this and it never ended well. The one who didn’t wash out quickly always needed to have his work checked because he’d skip basic parts of the SOP and complain that “no one told him to do it that way.”

        3. NaoNao*

          Oh, I’ll bet she meant “where MY locker is in the room of lockers”, I twigged to this person’s communication style immediately upon seeing this. She’s likely nervous and not getting clear answers (due to her own fault of leaving out key words) is making her more nervous, doom loop.

          1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

            The locker lady did understand — she said “they’re numbered”, which presumes she knew part of the question was where’s MY locker in the room. That’s a clear answer to me, meaning go to that room and follow the numeric order to find your locker. If they need more handholding that that it’s going to be bumpy.

            1. JSPA*

              hmmm…”can’t find a numbered locker” could be as simple as “needs glasses” or as complex as the sort of dyscalcula that manifests as scrambling numbers or as inability to track the sequence of multi digit numbers, with “drugs not working right” somewhere in the middle. It’s not at all impossible that it’s something she can get sorted out (whether or not it’s in time to save this particular job). But if she can get to a point of reasonable competence and comfort, she may stay longer and work more reliably than if she were quicker to adapt to new circumstances. Wishing you both luck (and to her manager, above all, As the acclimation period will be, at best, exhausting).

    2. Sloanicota*

      First of all, it sounds like your other new hires aren’t being very kind. You shouldn’t be encouraging this, and it’s probably just going to make her worse. I always have to think of the parenting motto “they’re not GIVING ME a hard time, they’re HAVING a hard time.” This sounds like someone having a very hard time. What could be done to help her bring it down six or seven notches?

      1. I'm sorry, what?*

        They actually weren’t the ones who told me, the trainer who had them the next day did. They told him, and he told me. She was much better when I had them to do their benefits, so she may have realized she was being over the top, or someone in the class said something to her. If she doesn’t chill out a little going forward, our HR manager (my boss) is going to talk to her. Not in a You’re In Trouble kind of way, but just, hey, you need to bring it down a little bit. Or a lot.

    3. Unkempt Flatware*

      OP, I would have told the group we are taking a 10 minute break when it became over the top and had a talk with her. Sounds like the other new hires got little out of it. I don’t know how they were actively listening when also tallying interruptions.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Or maybe the constant interruptions made it that much harder to follow everything. Seventy-seven times is a whole lot.

        I have told people, “Let me finish this and if you still have questions, you can ask them at the end” (of the explanation; I don’t necessarily make them wait until the end of the whole class/etc.). Most of the time I will answer the questions they’re so eager to ask if they’ll just zip it and let me finish a sentence.

        1. Jaydee*

          77 interruptions in 2 hours would be an average of one interruption every 1.5 minutes. I’m not sure anyone could pay attention to anything except tallying the interruptions at that pace.

          Also seconding building in breaks for questions after each topic and asking people to hold questions for those breaks. Like you said, with this many questions you’ll probably address most of them if she just lets you finish each section of the presentation instead of I terrifying mid-thought.

          1. Seal*

            I had a classmate like this in one of my college classes. She put her hand up so often that I thought it was spring loaded and when she wasn’t called on she’d asked her question anyway. To everyone’s frustration the professor never shut her down, despite the fact that half the students dropped the course after spring break. I made a point of noting her behavior in my course evaluation and after seeing this letter shudder to think what she must be like as an employee.

        2. I'm sorry, what?*

          Yeah, I ask at the end of each section (Medical, Dental, etc) who has questions about those parts, and go ahead and answer. I also tell them (usually) to stop me while we’re going through it if they have a question.
          She was quiet enough and the room was big enough (and everyone had moved away from sitting near her) that they could hear me. I was also on that side of the room, because that’s where the podium is. They could at least hear me, whether or not they could process it. I’ll also mention (and probably should have in the og post) that this presentation usually takes me about an hour, tops. So we still covered all the material, just slower. I get them right after lunch, so I don’t really have a window to give them breaks, and she was not receptive to any sort of “we’ll go over that later.” They’d also been in class with her for a day and a half by this point.

    4. Just here for the scripts*

      Sounds like her insurance coverage had run out and she wasn’t able to refill her medication— which might explain why she was so focused on that part.

    5. Kiwi Leslie Knope*

      sounds like unmedicated ADHD to me, as someone who has previously had unmedicated ADHD. She may not realise that what she is doing is irksome. Could you chat to her about what is and isn’t appropriate, or do you think she’d take that badly?

  4. Coffee Isn't Strong Enough*

    How do you fix tone in text? For example, I get a bit snappy when I’m stressed. I have worked on getting it fixed when I’m in front of someone. I struggle with how to keep it out of emails. Any suggestions?

    1. Jane Bingley*

      Honestly, I think a lot of the rules traditionally taught to women for writing more directly or being more assertive can and should be broken. I use a lot of exclamation marks. I ask instead of telling unless I’m speaking to someone I directly manage. I say please and thank you. I add a brief “I hope you’re doing well!” or “It was great to see you at last week’s meeting!” before diving into the body of the email.

      Because I write most of my male boss’ emails, he now writes much more like a woman. People have remarked positively to him how much cheerier he is and how nice it is not to be ordered around. I think it’s good for everyone to add the nice stuff when they can, regardless of gender.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Or maybe that means the brusque style that men get away with is the thing that needs to be broken.

        1. Parakeet*

          Yep. I used to volunteer on an instant-messaging-based sexual assault crisis hotline, and I got very good at this. Being able to convey a non-directive, unescalated and unescalatory, tone and message is a useful skill and not one that should be devalued in the way that it often is.

          1. Dust Bunny*

            Yeah, I really hate that so often when people talk about “softening” language it seems to mean “weakening” it. Sure, there are times to be direct, but a lot of the time a bit more tact wouldn’t go amiss.

            1. Irish Teacher*

              And I think it contributes to people doing it very badly and even in a patronising way, such as starting with things like “I hope you don’t take this in the wrong way” or adding something positive that is obviously just meant to “be nice.” Like “I can see you tried your best and you did *insert thing that they’ve been doing for years and which is very basic to them* well, but…”

              Which can even make it more hurtful as it can come across like “not only am I having this conversation with you to criticise you, but I also think you are likely to overreact so I am going to find something good to say to you to make you happy so you won’t notice I’m really criticising you”.

              When there are better options than just being blunt and critical or giving that impression or avoiding the issue. And I think calling it “softening language” does contribute to the “saying something critical, then giving them a verbal pat on the head to make up for it”. Tact is more than “but you do stuff well too and to make up for pointing out your mistake, I’m going to list a load of good stuff that isn’t relevant to the conversation and which I’m clearly just putting in so that I won’t sound too critical.”

        2. RagingADHD*

          I think it would behoove everyone to learn how to modify their written tone as needed to match their context and intention. It’s an important work skill that is too often dismissed in both directions as “personality” when in fact every word you write is a choice.

          There are times when those who have been socialized to be highly indirect and self-effacing need to punch it up a bit, and there are times when those who have been socialized to be more assertive need to tone it down.

      2. Hannah Lee*

        Yeah, at least 1-2 times a week I pause when writing an email or text to think through whether to say “Could you please do this thing?” or “Please do this thing”. I use them equally, it depends on the context – who I’m writing to, what the ask is.

        At a previous job, there would have been a third option “do this thing”, and some execs would give flak to people who “wasted people’s time by adding unnecessary words” you know, like “please”. Thankfully I do not work there anymore.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      A few suggestions:

      – Make a point to include openings and closings on all emails (or the first email of every chain, or whatever makes sense). The “Hello [name]” and “Regards, [name]” can have a softening effect even if the meat of the email is a bit blunt.

      – If it’s possible, draft up your emails and let them sit for long enough for you to grab a coffee or work on a different task. Then look at the email with fresh eyes, and you may be able to reword some things or remove some of the snappiness.

      1. Ashley*

        I like Good Morning, Good Afternoon (so I end up not sending emails I am softening around lunch time) along with a Happy Friday etc for a closing. I also find a thanks / thank you or feel free to ask questions where appropriate helps.

    3. Dust Bunny*

      Don’t send it immediately. Write it, breathe, and then go back and re-read it before you send.

      1. MissMeghan*

        Seconded. I get up, walk a lap around the office, sit back down, then send. Let your cool head send the email.

    4. Sloanicota*

      I add an automatic email signature that is warm. “I really appreciate your help with this” or “I know this is a demanding field and we are all doing our best – thanks” – you can always edit them out but it’s a good reminder to end on a kind note and if that signature is totally out of pace with the rest of the email … might be time to go back and reword.

    5. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Depending on your level of rapport with the other person, you could preface your message with “Juggling lots of balls right now so I apologize if this is cryptic”

      1. anon soup*

        I recently ended an email of questions to a board member of our nonprofit with “let me know if I haven’t phrased things clearly enough, it’s Friday and my brain is soup. “

    6. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      ChatGPT. In the prompt write something like “polite email to coworker” and your curt response or the bullet points and it’ll suggest text.

      I wouldn’t use that for all communication because it does sound like someone else wrote it, but it’s a good way to check tone in an important email.

      1. desmond*

        Do not do this unless your employer has specifically approved submitting non-public company communications to ChatGPT.

        1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

          That seems overkill for politely reminding a coworker to have the TPS reports ready by Friday. I guess if you are emailing sensitive or proprietary company info, sure, but most coworker email communication is going to be pretty generic that ChatGPT isn’t going to be a problem. Email is not a secure communication method.

      2. Engineer*

        ChatGPT is not meant to be a tone checker and if you’re constantly using it to check your tone, you’re not actually *learning* how to adapt your own writing. You also end up training ChatGPT to write snappier and anappier because it trains itself on prompts as much as it trains itself on stolen content.

        1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

          Interesting take. Learning is accomplished by interaction and emulation — that’s how humans learn language, and how we’ve programed AI to learn. So if I can’t think of the words to say to a coworker, “I have the authority to do that, but you don’t,” but I want to say that “nicely”, and the AI can give me a sentence based on millions of examples of humans communicating nicely, it’s really not much different than a poster here on this site asking all of us. Do they not learn from our suggestions, and then emulate that in their own communication? I’ve actually found the responses from ChatGPT to be a good starting point for tone.

    7. AnotherOne*

      I take a break from the email. As in- I write the email, save it in drafts and come back to it later.

      Sometimes I realize I wasn’t actually snippy, it just felt snippy because I felt snippy. And sometimes the email really needs to be taken down a notch or 5.

      1. Donkey Hotey*

        Agreeing with the exclamation points!
        There’s a great book called Because Internet that talks about how written communication has changed in the last 30 years. To wit: periods can come across as more brusque in informal writing. (Compare “Thanks!” and “Thanks.”)

        1. Feckless Rando*

          Or even just “thanks”. Especially in instant messaging I’ve just dropped punctuation all together rather than play the “am I being friendly or over the top with this exclamation mark?”

    8. HalJordan*

      Fixing this in person is actually harder than fixing in text, bc in text you get to edit!

      Some suggestions, some specific and some more general:

      – if it’s leaving your office/team and it’s an email reply, start the email with Thanks! / Thank you for your email / Thanks, name. (Internally, “thanks, name” is ideal) It’s an easy way to set the tone and prevents you from launching into vitriol immediately.

      – matter-of-fact isn’t the same as snappish, you don’t need to soften your tone into mush or load it down with exclamations. (though you should maybe note to coworkers you often snap at that you’re aware of it and are working to chill, if anyone particularly bears the brunt)

      – relatedly, focus on the goal, which is not to convey your mood or authentic feelings but to Get Something Done. Snappish puts people on edge and makes them less likely to want to help you, bring you issues, or engage with your emails at all (you know this, because you’re asking, but remind yourself of it every time)

      – draft, wait, reread, send; or use delayed / scheduled delivery for non-urgent stuff (and unless lives are at risk, most stuff can wait five minutes)

      – as above, don’t miss any opportunity to say thank you!

      – don’t use all-caps, don’t use multiple punctuation marks (???), don’t use knee-jerk questions or, as much as possible, single line or single word emails, and try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. This is hard when stressed, but that is why:

      – Most important, apply the same strategies you use for in-person destressing, just imagine that the recipient is sitting across from you. How would you desnap yourself then (breathing, counting to 10, etc?) Do that as well here

    9. A Simple Narwhal*

      I find that if I add a “Thanks!” as my sign off, it takes a lot of the edge out of an email.

    10. WantonSeedStitch*

      If I have a close relationship with the person I’m emailing, I might even acknowledge my stress so there’s context for any snappiness in my tone: “I really don’t have an answer to this right now! I have three urgent projects demanding my attention for the rest of the day and am feeling a bit frantic at the moment, so I may not be able to address this issue until tomorrow. I’ll get back to you then, OK?”

    11. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

      In addition to some good advice already given, here are a couple of my tricks (because I am very much a brusque, impatient person by nature):

      – Look for places where “you” language can be changed to “I” language, and see if that makes it sound less like an accusation aimed at the other person, and more like an explanation of what you need and why.
      – Focus on the future, not the past.

      As an example of the latter, just this morning, when someone still hadn’t gotten something to me that I was hoping for earlier this week (but I had okayed it taking until early next week if absolutely necessary), I rephrased “I polished 142 teapots today, and I could have done more if I’d had more boxes to put them in” to “I polished 142 teapots today, and I can do more per day next week if I have more boxes to put them in.”

    12. MigraineMonth*

      This is dumb, but I switched to signing my name: “Thanks! MigraineMonth” always, instead of only signing it that way when I was thanking someone. It seems to have made me more friendly-sounding.

    13. CL*

      I write my emails first to get facts down and then go back to add the “good morning/how are you?” and take out the snippiness and sarcasm. Yes, it takes an extra review, but it saves the time of apologizing and fixing relationships later.

    14. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      I’ve been going back through my emails to deformalize them – it’s not my colleagues’ fault that I just finished a Masters! I find more casual wording reads as more casual (and less stressed).

      (lol I had ‘verbiage’ instead of ‘wording’ until I just went back and replaced it)

        1. Hmm*

          It does. My manager has a PhD—gosh, I sure am lucky she dumbs down her writing for poor me, her simpleton admin! :-)

      1. linger*

        Yeah, you’re still stuck in academic-style headspace after the last few months of polishing the text before submission. And I totally understand that.
        But as a PSA, from the perspective of a thesis evaluator, I want to gently push back on the notion that theses must be written at a consistently formal style level reflected in every word choice.
        A postgrad thesis has to fulfill three main functions:
        1. document a discovery process used to answer some specific question(s);
        2. present an original argument on a defined topic;
        3. display essential academic skills (including logic; critical thinking; using and referencing sources).
        So content is far more important than style for evaluation purposes.
        (3) does require careful attention to some elements of style, e.g. using a consistent reference format; using hierarchically ordered headings to signal topic relationships; being explicit about the logical relationships between statements; defining and correctly using specific terminology of the field; and adopting a consistently objective stance. But these style limits are all in the service of clarity: they make your writing easier for the reader to understand. They should not stop you using short and simple words to express your ideas.

        N.B. The readership for a graduate thesis includes academics in related (but not necessarily identical) fields. Sure, there’s the supervisor and examiners; but mostly, it should be written for yourself. The key question for deciding thesis style level is: Will you still understand your own research and your own thinking when you re-read the text in 10 years from now? (Because, if not, how do you expect the examiners to cope with it?)

    15. AMG19978*

      I have this issue with tone most of the time. My solution is to let the email sit for a while before I send it, then re-read before sending. I’ve been able to see and correct most of the tone issues if I step away from it for a bit. (An old boss of mine called this letting it “mature.”)

    16. Janeric*

      This is a little corny, but I find smiling while writing it helps? It puts my mind in a space where it wants to make a lot of little word changes.

    17. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      I’ve found it to be helpful to imagine the person on the other end as a human being instead of a the task or inconvenience or stressor that they placed on me.

      Stressors always have context. This person messed up this report AGAIN and I have to save their butt AGAIN? I can still approach it kindly like “let me know if I’m missing some context or if you’d like to get on a call to discuss”.

      1. Danish*

        Yes – it sounds snarky because in customer service I am in theory always doing that, but sometimes just taking the extra moment to actively consider “if this were ME being written to, what email would I respond well to”. Helps with assuming good faith, too.

    18. Cookie Monster*

      I like to use “we” a lot, so it emphasizes we’re on a team, we’re working towards a goal together, etc. So I’ll say something like “Hmmm, I’m not sure that would work. Do you think we could try [x] instead?”

      Or, I try to avoid text and suggest it would be easier to hop on the phone.

    19. Teej*

      Write it on a notepad (Windows), or TextEdit (macOS), and then do something else. Come back to it 5 minutes later, and review it. Once you are happy, and aware of your tone being appropriate, you can copy and paste to respond to that e-mail.

      Never click send when you are angry.

    20. Rabbitgal*

      Thanks for this question. I had it come up today where I accidentally upset a coworker via Slack by overexplaining why some work instructions were in place. I apologized for sounding brusque right after, but I’m currently fantasizing of taking a vow of silence while living in a cave.

    21. Anonymous was already taken*

      I do it by: first, saying ‘thank you’. It’s amazing how much effect that word can have even on your own attitude. Secondly, I imagine I’m writing the text to someone else who I would not want to be rude to eg. CEO, or customer, for example. Then word it in a tone that I would speak to those people in. Assuming we’re talking emails here, if I’m really worried it sounds snappy then I get someone to read it before I send it, or else, leave it a while and read it again before sending.

  5. Jane Doe*

    What are some good sources of online professional development? I am just looking for something for during slow periods at work.

      1. Sparkle Llama*

        In my area it is super common for the county library to have a subscription you can access with your library account so you and your employer don’t have to pay. You log in through your library card account and it takes you to the website on whatever computer you are using. Libraries for the win!

    1. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      I’ve had very good experience with both Udemy and Coursera. Both have plusses and minuses though, depending on your needs.

      Udemy: Pay per course. Lot’s of sales and coupons. I got my entire required project management course for $15.99 and that was well over 40 hours of videos. Lot’s of courses cost less than that, or are shorter. I’d previously taken ones on SEO, Agile, Adobe, and AI that were more in the $10.00 range.

      Coursera: Goes the subscription model, for $49.99 a month you can take as many classes as you’re able to stuff in your brain. It’s more expensive, but they have the Google Certification courses and some subjects seem to lead to degrees. I’m working through one for Data Analytics Certification currently.

      Honorable mention:
      LinkedIn Learning: My company had this subscription (check with yours), and I took a couple of courses. I found them to be ok, but I liked Udemy better for one-offs. Cost is $39.99 month or $19.99 month for the whole year subscription. Personally, I would go for Coursera if you want a certification–to me Coursera felt more robust.

      Free: Check industry associations. The Project Management Institute has many free webinars, so does Hubspot for marketing, etc., and I’m sure there are many other free options depending on your industry and what you want to learn. Also check your state department of labor. I was unemployed for a time and my state agency has a contract with a company called Metrix Learning for free classes.

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

      I’m always looking too! Im an admin assistant if anyone has any suggestions

      1. Sloanicota*

        If I was in admin I think I’d be trying to pursue a PMP, Project Management Professional, certification, as I have seen that this seems to get a lot of respect (I see job postings that ask for it specifically, as opposed to plenty of other certifications I see out there) and I think there are some lower-cost or free resources to get started on that.

    3. Daisy-dog*

      Does your company have an LMS? Many LMS systems have courses available to all customers at no extra charge. They just may not be turned on for all employees to view. If you don’t have access to additional courses, could you submit something to your Development/Training/HR team to get those opened up?

    4. Not a librarian, just a fan*

      Browse your local library’s website. Many will give you free access to online training programs with a library card number.

    5. LuckyClover*

      I access LinkedIn learning and Coursera courses for free via my local library. They often have free PD and learning resources. If you don’t have a local library that provides these, look up libraries that will allow anyone to sign up for a card to access digital services!

    6. Parakeet*

      If by some chance you’re in IT/cybersecurity, I’m loving TryHackMe (and if you’re not, but are just curious or think it would be useful to know how to communicate better with those folks/speak their language, there’s a “pre-security” learning path for people coming in with next to no relevant background).

    7. Pizza Rat*

      Seconding accessing LinkedIn Learning via your public library. I was also able to access Coursera for free through my state’s Department of Labor.

  6. New Boss Blues*

    I have a new boss starting next week. This will be my third boss in as many years (the org is a bit of a mess – we’ve had complete turnover since I started and are now down to four people) and I’m a bit burned out but trying to keep up. I feel like it’s 50/50 whether I’ll be lucky again and have a good relationship with the new boss or end up having to leave, as we will work closely together. What are some great ways to start off on a good foot? I’m thinking about preparing for our first meeting, and how I can show that I’m reasonable and competent even amidst the chaos.

    1. cardigarden*

      Come fully prepped with current project details (summary level) and recent accomplishments. That shows that you recognize NewBoss needs getting up to speed and it gives you a chance to brag about yourself a little. It’s a great way to demonstrate that you’re dependable in the chaos (which she may or may not already be aware of) and that’s the best way for a good start.

      1. Artemesia*

        I was once an acting director and did this when the new director was hired. A sort of here is what we have done, here is where stuff is. He was actively rude and told me he didn’t need me to tell him how to run the department (I swear I was not overbearing about it — and he was a jerk the rest of the time he was in this position). So now in situations like this, I am very careful.

        One way to approach it is to say, ‘You may have some questions about current processes here and since I have been here forever, I’d be glad to fill you in on anything you might want to know. I don’t know how much information you got from the board (the CEO, the COO whoever brought them on board) so I’ll let you take the lead on what you need more information about. I am familiar with XYZ and Q.’ And then pause and let them invite information.

        1. New Boss Blues*

          This is my exact issue. I’m sure she’s going to be completely overwhelmed with new information and my role is fundraising which has a lot of different aspects to consider. There are also several plans to review, some of which I personally think are ill advised, but of course I defer to what this person is going to want (and they probably don’t know yet, and won’t for a while). They also have a huge learning curve ahead of them, so I keep telling myself to pull back on everything I’m contemplating going over with them. But, I don’t want the other members to get their perspective in over mine, either.

        2. Seal*

          I had the same experience with our new director after serving as interim for a year. Tried to politely give them an overview of projects and whatnot and got shut down hard. They were more concerned with making friends with the rest of the staff and didn’t care about what we actually did. Whenever things came up that needed their attention I tried to get them up to speed, only to be told off. Things immediately started falling through the cracks and people got fed up with being told their work didn’t matter when it very much did. To no one’s surprise – except the new director’s – a third of the staff left in the next year. Needless to say, I too will be very careful in similar situations going forward.

          1. New Boss Blues*

            Yes exactly – but what does “being careful” look like to you specifically? This is what’s driving me nuts. Just show up to the first meeting with no real expectations other than getting to know each other (I worry this would make me look like a slacker/unprepared … so many *have* prepared, but don’t assume you’ll get the chance to share anything) and just see what they ask about / follow their lead? Don’t offer too many of your own insights and opinions unless asked? (not my nature but I could try).

            1. WantonSeedStitch*

              You could take a middle road and ask if she wants the information before providing it, rather than waiting for her to ask. “Would it be helpful for me to give you a high-level overview of our main projects right now/last year’s accomplishments/strategic plans for this fiscal year?”

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        I like to ask about style preferences, like do you want instant updates, one big update a week unless there’s an emergency, when is it ok to “bug” you about stuff, what are your pet peeves, do you prefer meetings/phone/email/chat, for quick updates etc.
        Also get some shared expectations and goals in the first month or two.

        1. New Boss Blues*

          Yeah I’d love to ask all this, good point. I’d love to ask how involved she envisions being with my work (it would be legitimate for her to be a 50/50 partner on what I do, or it would be legitimate to say “this isn’t really my area so I see you as the leader here, let me know how you want me to support you” or “I want to hang back in the beginning and observe before deciding”). I just suspect she probably won’t know yet and I’m not sure if I’d be able to answer all those questions if directed at me on my first day, so I’m trying to hang back a bit.

    2. New Mom*

      I’ve had six managers in eight years, so what I’ve done is ask about management style at the beginning. I also tell my style. I also use an adapted version of the Management Center check-in, in a google doc and use the same one each time we check-in, with the most recent check-in at the top so we can go back and find things we talked about weeks prior.

      Week of 8/21
      Updates –
      Questions –
      Thought partnership –
      Decisions (this means a decision needed by boss)
      Action steps for me
      Action steps for manager

      And I make sure to have Updates, Questions, Thought partnership, and Decisions filled out 24 hours prior to our meetings. I think it would be good to have a standing meeting time, and weekly is best. 30-60 minutes once a week has worked well for me.

      1. New Boss Blues*

        Good point about the spreadsheet – I will do this. When you say ask about style / share about style, do you mean like, how you best like to be approached and how often? Like, “I prefer email rather than texts but I also try to check the office Slack at least every hour, I will email you at least once a week no later than Tuesday with all the updates I need by Friday, I am an indirect person who will quit if you yell at me even one time??”

        1. New Boss Blues*

          Part of the reason I’m anxious is because I feel like she’s already off to a bad start LOL. The board apparently hired her without a lot of input, and she didn’t have any interviews with staff, which is insane to me (we’re a staff of four? I interviewed with literally everyone even when I started as a part timer, in a single zoom?). I’d like to not blame her for that since it’s really the board’s error, but I also can’t imagine taking a job as ED of an org without having apparently any curiosity about the people I’ll oversee. Like, I wouldn’t have accepted the job under those circumstances, but apparently she did, so … I’m sure this is going to go well! I’m also worried about how the board may have pitched this job to her and how accurate that was, which is why I’m not sure what to share and how to go about it.

          1. New Mom*

            If it were me in the situation you described I’d go forward with my preferences and see if that works for her, but also ask about her communication style.
            “What has worked well in the past for me is to do a weekly check-in with managers since items tend to pile up if we meet less often. I’ll have a document with all my main projects so that you are up-to-speed on what I’m doing. I know that you’ll have a lot on your plate so, in the past, what I’ve done is manage day-to-day issues on my own, but if there are [budgetary issues, things I need you to sign off on, time sensitive issues] I’ll reach out directly on [g-chat] does that work for you?”

            I would also assume that if she’s an outside hire and will need extensive onboarding, then the first 3-6 months will likely look different than 6+ months.

            Also, are there any things that you are particularly worried about? My fears with changing managers was someone micromanaging when they didn’t know what I was doing, so I tried to create systems where bosses didn’t feel like they have to do it. They always knew what I was up to, but weren’t deep in the weeds.

          2. connie*

            Can you try being genuinely curious about her instead of suspicious? She’s also a human being and has her own side to this.

      2. New boss a-comin' in Sept.*

        Hello! Can you clarify what you mean by “thought partnership” please?

        1. New Mom*

          Thought partnership is when I need advice but I don’t necessarily need them to step in or need them to DO something. It should be higher level things that are complicated/nuanced and may not have a clear “right” answer, not small things. Here are things I’ve had under the “thought partnership” category in the past:

          I had a direct report Nat* who reported to me that her interactions with our Database Administrator Taylor* had become really unpleasant when I was out on mat leave, and that Nat was very anxious whenever she had to interact with Taylor which was regularly. I encouraged Nat to speak with Taylor directly first, but she was a very timid person and Taylor was pretty intimidating so I wasn’t surprised when Nat didn’t want to. Nat also didn’t want me to say anything to Taylor, but the issues persisted. I wasn’t sure what to do since Taylor did not act antagonistically when myself or others were around, so there was nothing for me to call out on the spot. I asked my manager for thought partnership in that specific situation because I wasn’t exactly sure what to do but I had a few ideas I wanted to run by them. I was also concerned HR would need to be involved if it didn’t resolve.

  7. Marketingmadness*

    How do you approach a shift in your role? My team has decided that there’s not enough work for two people, and they want to move my manager to another program, and have me run our current program. That’s fine, but…it would become my sole responsibility to manage all aspects of a large, customer facing program, whereas before I was executing rather than deciding. Do i ask for a promotion/raise? Just wait and see? This is definitely a step up for me and I’ve been considering leaving for a different company to seek my boss’s current title.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Do you want this kind of role?

      If you want it, yes, ask for a promotion. If you don’t, say so and see if it feels like you can decline the position, or start looking.

      (I would very much not want this kind of job, but it sounds like you’re a lot more open to it.)

      1. Marketingmadness*

        I do want this role! I love my work and definitely want the opportunity to have more say in strategy and direction of the program. It’s just feeling like a weird time because budget cuts/ program changes/ economic softness are making me worry I’d look bad if I ask for a promotion and raise.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Ask anyway, but as a fallback position request the title change. That literally costs them zero dollars, but shows on your resume that you were promoted and took on higher-level tasks. Come in with the change you’re requesting so you don’t just get called “senior admin” if you’re taking over for a manager. If they aren’t willing to do that, it seems like it’s not really a two way street.

        2. Kyrielle*

          I’d at least ask for the title, and see if they can produce a raise. If they can’t produce a raise, and if you’re willing to accept the work at your current salary, still ask for the title – it’s valuable in terms of your future resume, and it also could be used to push for a raise in future years if the financial situation gets better for your organization.

          If you’re willing to do without the raise, I’d probably go with soft wording around the money – ask for the title and then add, “I’ll understand if it’s not possible under the current circumstances, but is there also room to increase my salary accordingly?”

        3. Hannah Lee*

          Great! This might be a good opportunity to spread your wings. And definitely ask!

          On the “I don’t want to look bad” front, I hear you. But I remember someone telling me once not to do the company’s thinking for them, and don’t negotiate with myself before I even get to the table.

          Factually, they will be asking you to do higher level, more strategic work, increasing the scope and impact of what you do and your responsibilities. Program development, program management, staff management, strategic decision making … if those things will be your responsibilities in the new role, and aren’t in your current role as someone who executes to someone else’s plan, that should be reflected in your title and compensation. Don’t hesitate to ask for what you think the role is worth, and a title change reflecting your new duties. Don’t assume they will just offer it … if they are juggling a lot of changes, they may focus on appeasing the squeaky wheels instead of proactively bumping up everyone even if they don’t ask.

          So do some research on what that role should pay, bounce it of some trusted advisors (would old boss be helpful here?) dust off your credentials and list of accomplishments (not necessarily to give them an updated resume, but for your own confidence in asking for what you deserve)
          Whatever is going on with the company’s finances, organizational structure, etc is up to the people above you on the org chart to worry about at this stage. They should be willing to address it even if things are tight, they are asking you to take on this new role.

          If it is a place that would hold it against you for asking, advocating to be recognized and paid fairly for the job you’d be doing, in that case, go back to your plan of looking for a new job, confident in the knowledge that your current company recognizes you a ready for the next step, even if they aren’t willing to pay you for it.

          1. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

            I love the advice about ‘not to do the company’s thinking for them’ – the way I’ve heard it that resonated most with me is “don’t be the person to say no to yourself!”. It’s a reasonable ask!

    2. Sloanicota*

      Wow yes you should 100% ask for a raise or at LEAST a title increase if you are taking over your manager’s former role. I’d say do not wait and see, bring it up proactively. You don’t want to give the impression you’ve already accepted and thus lost all bargaining power.

      1. Ali + Nino*

        100%, do NOT start taking on that work until you have an agreement (in writing) from your employer that you are getting a raise.

    3. Glazed Donut*

      I think it’s perfectly reasonable to ask, “Given the change in my responsibilities, how will my title and compensation change?”

      1. Nesprin*

        Given the change in my responsibilities, can we talk on (date) about changing my title and compensation?”

    4. Dinwar*

      1) Ask for a raise.
      2) Ask for a promotion.
      3) Find a mentor.

      Decision-making is usually a high-risk task (at least in my line of work, I could go to jail if I make the wrong call). It’s not a step you should take without the full backing of your higher-ups in the org chart. The way they show that is increased compensation and rank.

      The other issue is, I doubt you’ve gotten much training in this role, if any, from the way you word this question. Not unusual; most companies fail to recognize that management is a skillset (blame it on lean staffing). This means you need a mentor to guide you through the initial “What on Earth am I supposed to actually do?!?” phase. Not just someone you’re friendly with, but someone who has agreed to assist you with learning this new role. There are a LOT of unspoken rules you’re going to need to learn, so merely reading through an SOP manual isn’t going to help.

      If they’re unwilling to do 2 out of the 3 of these, consider whether you want to continue working for this company. They are telling you, in such a situation, that they do not value your contributions.

  8. Twenk*

    I am so tired and feel trapped in my current life/job situation. I want to quit and move away from NYC but I’m not independently wealthy. any recommendations for inexpensive towns near NJ transit/Metro North train lines? lol, I know…

    1. Flak Jacket*

      FEEL THIS. I have family in Maryland and been trying to make a move down there. Easier said than done!

    2. cardigarden*

      NJ: If looking for apartments, I’d look for something east of Westfield (Raritan Valley Line), north of Metuchen/Woodbridge (Northeast Corridor/North Jersey Coast lines), Montclair area (Montclair-Boonton line). I’m not as familiar with Bergen County and other points north of Hoboken.

    3. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I wish you well in this endeavor. I’m in Fairfield County, close to a MNR station, and it’s just outrageous here. On top of Manhattan-level rents, it’s hard to get around if you’re solely reliant on public transit, so now you gotta tack on a car payment. I lucked out an bought a fixer-upper early on in the pandemic when mortgage rates were really low and housing prices were only sort of inflated. My friends in the area who are either trying to buy or trying to find better-priced rentals are having the absolute worst time.

      1. Busy Middle Manager*

        Oh yeah there is definitely a housing and rental bubble throughout the northeast. I thought of moving and most places charge so much right now that there is zero point to it.

        I’m wondering what OP’s budget it. In my experience “grandfathered into a place with decent rent and my landlord sort of forgetting about me” is invaluable right now

    4. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      If you want to move move, anything keeping you in the area? Cause if you want cheap, the Midwest is way cheaper than either coast. My rent is $650 a month, just saying.

      1. CNY/WNY*

        Central and Western NY are cheaper too! And if you are in Syracuse, Rochester, or Buffalo, it’s a short flight to NYC or a long (6-8hrs) train ride if you want to visit.

        You do generally need a car, though I suspect that if you are able to work remotely you could find a neighborhood where not having a car for a while would be OK. I need mine to go see family and friends who are 20min away in the suburbs, but I can walk to a grocery store and pharmacy and museums etc aren’t much further away.

        My rent (2bdrm!) is $1100 but I have friends who pay less and that’s still less than I paid most of my years in big east coast cities. But gas and other car costs definitely eat into the savings.

        1. Pajamas on Bananas*

          Oh I changed jobs last May and almost relocated to Rochester from the upper Midwest. Rochester had a lot of affordable housing stock at that time, like livable homes in the $100K range. You couldn’t, and still can’t, get a livable home in my area for that price.

    5. overwhelmed*

      Not local so I can’t help there, but just wanted to tell you I’m sorry you are going through this. I can relate and I hope things turnaround for you soon!

    6. Ann*

      I’m sorry. In the same boat. We’ve been looking at homes in PA. They’re more affordable if the commute works for you. I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to move for real, because even “more affordable” is a lot and my husband’s job isn’t very portable, but the writing is on the wall that we aren’t staying long-term.

    7. Twitterpated*

      As a local who lives fairly close to a metro north line… how long are you willing to commute? A ton of people around here do it, but it’s a LONG ride (Poughkeepsie area).

      What do you want out of the area you live in? Is it just getting away from the general city grind/grime or are you looking for something specific?

    8. Office Gumby*

      Hugs for you. I feel ya and wish I had some advice upon which you could act. (Alas, I’m too far away.)

  9. Yellow Jacket*

    I have to have a PIP conversation with my staffer. They know it’s coming, it is not a surprise. We’ve been discussing a pattern of issues for months and months and months that isn’t getting substantially better. I also know they don’t entirely agree with my assessment. They’ve expressed they want to resolve concerns, but have also been mildly combative about the issues. I 100% know this is more difficult for them than it is for me, but ‘sakes, I am stressed about it. I’ve literally been rehearsing my opening remarks so I can kick things off smoothly and of course worried, I’ll get to the meeting and just …. choke …

    1. Flak Jacket*

      I’m sorry that sounds tough. I don’t have any advice but from one “Jacket” to another I’m sending you and your staffer positive vibes for a successful resolution.

    2. I edit everything*

      Jot some notes to refer to, if you do choke or you lose track of what you want to mention or get thrown off your rehearsed remarks. Don’t read them outright, but have them someplace you can glance at them as a quick reminder. Bullet points, not paragraphs.

      1. Kiki Is The Most*

        Concur! It’s perfectly okay to have an agenda for this with your own notes to make sure you have follow-through. Also, I’m sure you have ideas for the actions that should be taken by yourself, company, and employee in order to have support and make progress, and I’d make a note to ask the employee their expectations for this, too.

        If you have examples of them not completing XYZ per the timeline or whatever it is they are lacking and they protest, ask them to provide you with their support.

        I know how difficult it is to keep anxiety and emotion out of this but I got better at it because I focused on the actual facts of their performance. Good luck!

    3. All Het Up About It*

      One of my previous bosses told me she used to practice and role play tough conversations with her partner. I honestly think that’s part of why she was so good at them. It’s okay to be nervous, it’s not a fun conversation for anyone. And if you want to practice ALL your lines, not just your opening ones, do it!

    4. basket*

      I recommend reading through your talking points and potential sticking points out loud at least once before. For me in the past there has been something about verbally saying the words that are tough (this will lead to termination if not addressed, etc.) Beforehand that allows me to say them more smoothly in the actual conversations.

    5. Pyanfar*

      Remember, this isn’t about who they are as a person, it is just about behavior at work. Some people aren’t cut out for some work. And some behavior would be fine in one company or role and not fine in another. You are helping them determine if this is a good fit for them long term, and giving them plenty of runway to either land well and continue or take off for a new opportunity.

    6. Corelle*

      One of my bosses told me something that stuck with me – the important thing is that you HAVE these difficult conversations with your people, not that you’re perfectly articulate and smooth and polished the whole time. Focus on your objectives (formally communicating the PIP and explaining expectations and how the process will work and what will happen to them through the process). Understand that your objective is NOT to make them happy or necessarily comfortable during the conversation, it’s a difficult conversation and inherently uncomfortable. When I’m having those discussions, it feels authentic to stumble a tiny bit and also just say “hey, this conversation is hard for both of us and I’m uncomfortable too, but it’s important to talk about because I owe you candid feedback on your performance here and what the company needs from you.”

      One thing that also helped me, that may help you, when you’re dealing with someone who is argumentative, is to resist the urge to rephrase your statements with every objection. If you’ve said what you needed to say, how you needed to say it, it’s okay to repeat yourself using the same exact words if they’re being argumentative and you know it’s not a clarity problem and they should be able to comprehend what you’ve said. With some people, going into calm broken-record mode can take the wind out of their argumentative sails.

    7. procrastinatingrightnow*

      I’ve had to have two of these lately (well, pre-PIP conversations). What helped me was to frame it not as saying you are failing but saying this is how to be more successful. You still have to make clear there may be consequences but it sets up a much more positive framework to put it out there as I want to see you succeed here and this is the way to do it. One of my folks has done a truly amazing job turning it around; the other I am hopeful but it’s too soon to say.

    8. ursula*

      It is genuinely so hard. I’ve only had to do this once but it was awful. My only suggestions:
      – Don’t punish yourself for dreading it. Acknowledge to yourself that this is a temporary discomfort and it will end, and that you’re doing the right thing.
      – At the end of the day, what are the 3-5 things you *have* to say in this meeting, at all costs? Write them down bluntly and clearly somewhere. This helps you get clear on your own priorities and also gives you a bench mark for when you can consider the meeting a success (and over). It probably wont’ feel good in the moment, but at least then you will know that you delivered the message you needed to deliver.

    9. Alice Quinn*

      This is so hard! I’ve had to have a similar conversation recently, but in my case it was a formal disciplinary action due to performance issues that had been discussed many, many times. What helped me was to write down the key points we needed to cover, practice saying it out loud, and making sure I didn’t keep talking to make things more comfortable and risk saying something that could be misinterpreted or that would unintentionally soften the message. You can do this!

    10. WantonSeedStitch*

      Don’t be afraid to sound like a broken record. Keep coming back to the clearly defined reasons why they’re going on the PIP and what improvements you need to see. Don’t let them derail things: if they say “but Bleminda never does X! Why are you telling me I need to do X if Bleminda never does it?” “We’re not talking about Bleminda right now. This conversation is about you, and I need you to do X.” And if they get combative, go back to the things they’ve said about wanting to resolve the concerns: “You’ve said you want to improve. I’m taking you at your word on that. These are the things I need to see from you in terms of improvements.”

    11. Nonke John*

      One very specific thing that may be helpful to practice ahead of time: Something along the lines of “I’m noting your concerns and not dismissing them, but we’ll have to discuss them later. The focus for this meeting has to be the changes you’re going to make in order to succeed in your role from here on.” Someone who’s known to be combative and not to agree with you on what they need to improve is almost certain to try to derail into excuses or blame-shifting. Cutting them off when you both know their job is on the line can feel cruel, but it’s actually kinder to keep their attention on the new behaviors that will help them succeed.

      Along those lines, school yourself to remember that your success criterion is getting your employee to understand what you’re telling them you need. You will not have failed if you don’t succeed in persuading your employee to be happy with your requests.

    12. Diane Remains the Same*

      Wow, I literally just went through this conversation yesterday after many documented discussions about performance. Lots of good tips from the commentariat here. I also practiced what and how I would say beforehand, used bullet points, repeated myself multiple times, got nervous, moved forward, and also stayed quiet at times to avoid being antagonistic or prolonging an irrelevant discussion. It wasn’t easy. My staffer repeated many of their previous complaints to the HR rep who joined us. (I mentioned to the rep that was likely that would happen and what the complaints were). They also doubled down and passively complained about how I manage my team and how it’s structured. But the conversation established the start of the Plan. Whether my staffer is able to incorporate the feedback and guidelines outlined in the plan, is now up to them.

    13. Teej*

      “Well, this sucks, but you probably know why we’re here, so let’s rip off the band aid, and get to work to help you improve yourself.”

      1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        “ and get to work to help you improve yourself.”

        That last bit sounds really patronising…I wouldn’t recommend this intro.

    14. Synaptically Unique*

      You say it’s not a surprise – you might be surprised. We went through a “pre-PIP” PIP (not on purpose – long story) and the employee clearly was not meeting the terms. And was shocked (and livid) when they got the formal PIP meeting invite. I’m not sure what that employee thought was going to happen when they were clearly not capable of doing the work, but apparently “be held accountable for doing the work or terminated” wasn’t on the radar.

      Tips: have it all written down. Don’t get into “you did this, you didn’t do that” if you can avoid it. I focused on exactly what each job duty required, with detailed expectations of what “acceptable” meant for each task or area. I wasn’t debating documented poor performance. We were past that stage. I made sure to add “independently” and accuracy requirement (e.g., 85% or 95% – but realistic and what I expected of everyone) for each task. For all the deflections/arguments/”I disagree with that” comments I kept repeating, “That’s not up for debate/discussion at this time.”

      And be prepared for them to file for FMLA the following day/week. It’s really common advice given to people who are put on a PIP.

    15. *daha**

      Email the plan to the employee ahead of time with note “Please read we will discuss at 3:00 pm.”

    16. Qwerty*

      I had to do this recently and my HR person helped me write a script along with some points to refer back to when the employee became argumentative. It was incredibly helpful! Not just for getting past the panic but also so I couldn’t get drawn off topic when the employee tried to argue. Most of the talking points we put directly into the PIP form that I shared on the screen.

      Follow up the meeting with the PIP in an email and give them time to review it on their own. I tend to give people the rest of the day off after that convo because they are not going to be in a good headspace and it helps show that you care about helping them succeed.

      Since your employee is combative, make sure to have a witness (preferably HR) in the PIP meeting with you. I’ve had those go poorly and having HR see the combative reaction definitely helped in that they could assist in the moment and they saw the behavior for themselves so were able to help with documentation if the PIP was not successful.

  10. Casual Librarian*

    I work in a position where I’m currently assisting leadership and HR in updating our personnel manual. I’m trying to walk the line of what I call the reasonableness doctrine–what policies need to actually say that outline what a reasonable employer and reasonable employee need to do and expect from each other. It helps guide the drafting of policies where old language clearly indicates that one unreasonable person was the result of an entire policy.

    I generally subscribe to the idea that we don’t need a policy for every. single. situation., but I also recognize that policies are important and serve a specific purpose. Does anybody have any guidance or opinions on how to navigate policy drafting that both protects employees and employers while also leaving latitude for the outliers and reasonable exceptions?

    1. Chauncy Gardener*

      My favorite business dress policy (and I forget whose it was) is “dress appropriately for the occasion”

      1. Sloanicota*

        Ugh this is so tough though because the point of policies is to be clear with the 20% of people who have no common sense or judgement. You can point them to explicit rules to make it clear what is and is not acceptable. So if these people were capable of figuring out what was appropriate to the occasion they wouldn’t need a dress code in the first place.

        1. Hannah Lee*

          One approach I’ve seen is to have the personnel manual be a higher level document, that outlines the general policies, guidelines but leaves the nitty gritty to other documents, training. Sure there will be certain employment law topics that should be spelled out, but a lot of other things are more dynamic or context driven and are better documented, managed in department or job specific policies or procedures.

          So for example in the case of a company dress policy, you don’t have to list out every permutation of what is or isn’t acceptable, but to say “dress appropriately for your role and occasion” with a limited list things that are not acceptable in any role, whether it’s clothing bearing lewd images or writing, tube tops, open toed shoes/flip flops; and also things that are universally required, such as must wear recommended safety gear in labs, in production areas, etc based on the company’s work areas. There can be a mention that any questions about proper dress for a employee’s particular role should be referred to the employee’s manager for guidance.

          The more finisse-y things, like knowing to dress a bit nicer when meeting with clients, or that it’s okay to wear short sleeved collared shirts but not t-shirts or what the actual current requirements for safety gear are for the production floor or reagent lab or whatever can be guidance given by the employee’s manager and specified in the specific policies for those workgroups, as opposed to in the company wide manual. An employee who is dressing every day in a walking blanket fort isn’t going to be dissuaded by a line in the handbook forbidding it, that’s better managed by their supervisor explaining why that’s a safety hazard in the paint spray room, or is undermining the department’s ability to function.

          Basically give general guidance, but don’t try to account for every detail. You don’t want to be in a position of having to update the employee handbook every time OSHA standards change the type of protective eyewear required when operating saws or bunsen burners in the workplace, or because you changed the insurance carrier for medical or dental insurance.

      2. JSPA*

        start with core values (non negotiable) then work outwards to standards whose specifics can change with time and situation, and focus for those on the goal, the reasonable holder of the shifting yardstick, whether there should be room for appeal, the reasonable emergency measures (if applicable) and the reasonable consequences.

        the same general question (e.g. “clothing”) is very different if you’re working in an emergency room (and also sometimes being called in when you didn’t expect to be working) vs in a bank (and only when scheduled).

        Thinking, “how would we handle this with a client or outsider” can add clarity (like having a backup jacket or two at the sort of restaurant that requires them). “How can we mostly have people getting it right on their own while also having a plan B to get everyone where they need to be, with no argument and no recriminations” is a good goal.

    2. ErinB*

      I’ve worked on similar policies recently and have tried to avoid exactly what you refer to (enumerating every single thing that someone can or cannot do) by instead making clear what the goal outcome is. So, rather than listing all of the things that an employee cannot do in front of a customer, it would state our goal (e.g., “customers should be served in a timely manner with professional demeanor”) and our underlying principles (e.g., “X does not tolerate behavior that is threatening, hostile, or endangers the safety of [parties]”).

      In theory, this should allow employers to enforce the policy regardless of what specific behavior the person engages in – whether that actually goes according to plan in practice, we will see!

    3. Generic Name*

      I suggest being really specific about dress code. With pictures of good examples of how you want people to dress. And make the dress code gender neutral. For example, don’t just say, “We are business casual” because frankly, no one knows what that means anymore. I would include items such as “no visible undergarments- bra straps, underwear showing above the waistband, etc.”

      1. HonorBox*

        I just had to rewrite ours a) because the previous was VERY outdated and not really helpful for the work we do and b) because there were a couple of employees who were routinely dressing unprofessionally (think gym shorts and a tee shirt on casual Friday). I outlined more in-depth than I thought was necessary because it was obvious that people weren’t “getting it.” It is much better to outline any and all things that aren’t allowed.

        Funny thing… just this week one of the regular offenders came in wearing gym shorts and a tee shirt. Ugh. But I was able to say very directly that it was NEVER allowed.

      2. b-reezy*

        +1 on gender neutral. One department at my employer had its own (ridiculous and outrageous) dress code that was SO gendered and just gross. Every single example of women’s shoes they gave were heels! This was for people who never saw customers or had any reason to dress any specific way other than making sure bits were covered, so it REALLY made no sense. After we sent everyone home in March 2020, the managers of that area tried to get leads to video call employees every day to make sure they were dressed “appropriately” and write them up if they weren’t.

    4. It Might Be Me*

      My major recommendation is to try to separate policy from procedure. I re-wrote an employee handbook that stated, “Answer the phone with a smile in your voice.”

      It needs to be measurable and applicable. While you don’t want to nitpick for everything, it’s also the time to plan for things that haven’t happened. Never had a need for a lactation room? This is the time to write the policy.

    5. HonorBox*

      I think if you put in a statement that indicates that while the handbook is intended to provide policies and general guidance, there will be situations that present themselves that aren’t explicitly covered and management has the right to address them as they come up.

      And as @It Might Be Me said above, policy vs. procedure can be much different. General policies about PTO and regular hours and dress code can be outlined pretty well in a handbook. A specific procedure manual/handout for specific roles or specific departments could be helpful in outlining things that come up in that particular role or department.

    6. Isben Takes Tea*

      It’s not quite the same as in the workplace, but I have a good friend in K-8 school administration who has lobbied hard for a reworking of the dress code. Her guiding principles are: a policy should only set limits you think it’s worth spending time, energy, and relational capital to enforce, and every limit should be a reflection of a clearly stated equitable goal that a reasonable person would agree engenders a positive learning/working environment.

      She was able to cut out short/skirt length and tank top strap width stipulations by saying “underwear cannot be seen at any time,” which is a widely accepted as reasonable, gender-neutral, easily enforceable policy that covers both girls in skirts and evidently the recent trend of middle-school boys wearing longer underwear that sticks out the bottom of their shorts.

      She was able to cut the stipulation about boy’s hair length by saying something like “hair must be styled/kept away from the face,” since her issue is students who are distracted by their own hair.

      Overly vague terms like “professional” or “distracting” are rife with potential for uneven and biased “enforcement,” so the goal is really nailing down what your office’s expectations are in a way that can be equitably applied.

    7. Alexis Rose*

      For policies where flexibility is possible, you can have a catch-all statement about “extenuating circumstances”. So, Policy A is expected to be adhered to, unless the employee has demonstrable extenuating circumstances that make it unreasonable to apply the policy as written.

      e.g. must attend all staff meetings, but an employee has a specialist medical appointment they have been waiting months for and they can’t reschedule. it makes sense to grant an exception to the policy because there is a situation outside of that employee’s control that is preventing them from being able to meet the policy as written. (If it becomes a pattern, then you address that, but one-offs because Life Happens is totally reasonable).

      “All requests for exception to policy are assessed on a case-by-case basis” is another good thing to include in a policy. With that line, you can coach managers/decision makers that its unreasonable to blindly apply the policy and that there will be times when applying the policy does more harm than good. Anyone who says something like “well if I make an exception for you, I have to bend the rules for everyone” is demonstrating an appalling lack of critical thinking and you should question their fit for the role of a decision-maker in the organization. If an employee gets miffed that someone else got a “free pass”, managers need to be able to say “I discussed that with other employee and assessed that an exception made sense in their case, I can’t tell you more than that for privacy reasons. If there is something that is making it difficult for you to meet this particular policy, please set up a meeting with me so we can talk it out and figure out the best options so that you can get the support you need.”

    8. AnotherLibrarian*

      My rule: Policies should be written in such away that exceptions are not needed. By which I mean, if you keep making an exception to the policy- just right the exception into the policy. I really don’t think it’s good practice to write policies and then say, “Well, people can make reasonable exceptions.”

      If the exceptions are reasonable, just write them in. That’s not say you won’t need to revise or update (you will), but that mindset I think helps when writing policies.

    9. Sharon*

      One thing you don’t want to do is write a policy that nobody follows, or that is impossible to follow under certain circumstances (e.g. a policy says “no clients in staff cars” but some employees are asked to pick up clients at the airport as part of their job) . In case of litigation that can be worse than not having a policy at all. It’s also important that everybody is trained on the policy and knows what to do and who to go to if there are questions.

    10. SnappinTerrapin*

      Policies need to provide principles that help employees exercise sound discretion to achieve the organization’s goals. I think of them as landmarks to help people navigate. The degree of detail will vary, based on the nature of the business and the labor pool you draw from.

      Policies are different from rules, which are explicit boundaries that are not to be crossed.

      Assuming that your staff have adequate judgment to perform the functions you hired them for, it makes sense to have a few explicit rules, and a set of broad policies to guide their judgment, supplemented by good training in how to apply the policies to varying circumstances. All of this should be consistent with clear SOPs that help people structure their tasks. The policy guidance should help people apply the SOPs to outlier situations that can’t be anticipated and defined in advance.

      That’s assuming your business isn’t one where every circumstance can be controlled, and where it actually makes sense to define the One Right Way to do each and every task that comes up. I reckon there are a few jobs where that might apply, but I’ve always worked in organizations where the infinite variety of people we interact with means that there is always an unanticipated circumstance.

      I despise working in organizations that write rules to “prohibit” every conceivable bad result. It always results in situations where every option available is prohibited by some policy, which is worse than having no guidance at all. Sometimes the bad result is not caused by the employee, but by the person who deliberately won’t cooperate with your organization’s goals. Those people get to make choices, too, and your employees need to have some support in making reasonable decisions when they have to intuit what would be the least-bad option.

    11. Hazel*

      Can you remain principal-based rather than specific rule based? For example, ‘we use language to promote understanding and be inclusive’, rather than ‘we don’t use slurs, swears, or overly complex words’. You could name them as not-exhaustive examples, but its hard to argue against principal, easier to nitpick on specific things like lists of offensive words.

  11. nope*

    Small work happiness thread!

    My boss always keeps ice cream in the freezer and I’ve discovered that ice cream is the best version of coffee creamer. This is dangerous knowledge…..

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      You’re just having an affogato with a higher coffee ratio – it’s classy! hehe

    2. londonedit*

      There’s a cafe I go to with my family when we’re in Portugal that does its iced coffee with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and it is indeed amazing!

    3. Irish Teacher*

      I have part of my timetable for the upcoming year and so far it looks pretty good. Have a few groups of 3rd years who are probably the nicest year group in the school. It looks like I’m going to have a Maths class which made me a bit nervous at first as I’m not a Maths teacher (it’s a resource class, but I think it is going to be a group of students who are struggling with Maths and are being taken out of their mainstream class to work more on the basics), but now I think it’s going to be an interesting challenge and two of the Maths teachers for that year are people I’m friendly with and who I know will advise me and help me out if I need it.

      1. nope*

        Yay, that sounds like a great win! Glad you’ve got folks in your corner if you need some help.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        I love that! I’ve also just added a touch of vanilla and nutmeg to my coffee for a little eggnog-y flavor.

    4. Jess R.*

      My office mate is extremely flexible about decor so I went to HomeGoods yesterday (any excuse to go to HomeGoods lol) and got some cute nautical decor and put it up on our shared cube shelf. It makes me so happy to look at!

      1. nope*

        Nothing better than a trip to Home Goods and a spruced up space! Glad it worked out with your office mate.

        I recently hung the derpiest picture I have of my cat in my cube and it makes me smile every time I look at it.

    5. ThatGirl*

      A friend of mine met a guy I worked with about 16 years ago (dang) and when the friend mentioned me the guy said “oh, she’s great!” which just warmed my heart that he thought fondly of me after all those years.

    6. KittyGhost*

      My office is theoretically going to get a second freezer in the future, and the moment that happens I’m going to start keeping ice cream in there for this exact purpose. Unfortunately right now the freezer is too full with people’s lunches for there to be any ice cream room.

    7. Llama Llama*

      I rarely go into the office and did today to go out to lunch with my team. We went to a yummy restaurant and had a good time. Then happened to run into a few former coworkers. It was nice!

  12. Application Hell*

    Newly job hunting after grad school and I want to run something a family friend said. That for every 1 offer there will be 30 rejections. Approximately true or bunk? (I’ve racked up 11 rejections so far in GLAM field)

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      FWIW, in my last-but-one job hunt, I applied for 40 or so jobs, got 3 interviews and 1 offer. My last job hunt, 30 or so applications, 3 interviews, 1 offer.
      In both cases, I withdrew from consideration for one of the jobs for which I’d interviewed because my top choice of job gave me an offer.

    2. Tio*

      Depends on what level you are and what your skillset is. I have a very specific professional license; I have only really had two interviews that I didn’t get an offer from since I got it. But when my husband was job searching, he put in way more than 30 apps before getting a new job (although part of that was probably pandemic.) So I think if you’re applying for general positions, they have more applicants and more competition. The higher up, the thinner the herd, so to speak.

    3. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      I wouldn’t take it literally. Any approximation is going to vary wildly based on the field, the candidate(s), the general job hiring environment, location, etc.

      I think mostly the family friend was trying to be encouraging to you and point out that there are often a lot of rejections before you get an offer, and not to give up because it can take time.

    4. Jane Bingley*

      This is SO varied by field but also by approach! Some people want to apply as much as possible and are okay with a higher rejection rate; others are much pickier about where they apply and use the extra time to strengthen their applications. I’ve had more success with the latter in a very closed field (specific denomination religious non-profit circles) but if you’re flexible on the kind of job and your location, you might increase your odds by spreading the wealth around.

      If you’re going the many applications route, I highly recommend finding a way to celebrate your rejections. Track them and give yourself little rewards for meeting a specific goal. You can’t get to 30 rejections and your favourite tub of ice cream unless you apply for many, many jobs!

    5. A Penguin!*

      I interpreted this from the hiring side. Assuming you have only one open position, once you make one offer (and it gets accepted), you have to send/have sent rejections to the rest of the candidates. For some roles that might be 5:1; for others it could easily be 100:1.

    6. Kesnit*

      A lot can depend on timing as well.

      8 years ago, I was looking for a job in the legal field. I was applying to every job I saw and was getting interviews. (However, that is not a good indication because a lot of those applications were to a specific state government agency that had a policy to interview all qualified veterans, which I am.) It took over a year to get a job.

      Fast forward to now. I work for that same state agency and we cannot fill all the openings we have. Smaller offices (like mine) are offering jobs to 3rd year law students (to start after they take the bar exam, but before results are announced) because they are a warm body who knows the law.

      Our Office Manager told me that when I was first job hunting, they would get 10-15 applicants for each position. Now we have 3 openings and 1 applicant.

    7. Widget*

      GLAM is really hard to say because it’s highly variable. If you want to stay around larger cities with MLS/info sci or similar programs, it can be really hard. I’ve heard from others in my class that trying to go into archives is particularly tough, though that was never my area.

      My path went page > bookstore > library assistant > grad school (while still in LA job) > librarian and I was in some iteration of retail/public libraries throughout that. I applied to roughly 10-12 institutions and received interviews with 3 of them after graduation before finding an MLIS position, but I was applying to locations well away from cities with MLS programs. At the library I ended up at, I was the only candidate in the pool with patron-facing experience at a public library.

      In short, it really depends on what niche of the field you’re looking to go into and what the supply vs. demand looks like in the geographic area you want to live in.

    8. All Het Up About It*

      In my experience I probably applied to 40ish places during each job hunt and got a single job offer that I took each time. More might have been forthcoming with other applications/interviews, but they weren’t intriguing enough for me to continue in the process. So the ratio FEELs right, but as others have said, that’s not necessarily true for every situation or field.

      I think there is a post from a few years ago on how quality over quantity can change the ratios. Like you can send out 100 applications and only get 5 interviews. Or you can send out 15 applications for positions and get the same 5 interviews, because when you were sending out 100 resumes you were picking positions that weren’t as good a fit, weren’t tailoring materials to job descriptions as carefully, etc. etc. It’s interesting to think about and could definitely effect the ratios.

    9. overwhelmed*

      It can really vary, so don’t worry too much about the exact number. But it can be a numbers game and you may have to apply to a lot jobs to find the right one. Just know that this type of experience is very common and may not even be a personal reflection on you. Try to learn whatever you can from each experience. Sooner or later, we all get jobs so it will happen to you.

      And I know it can be hard, but try not to compare your experience to your friends and use their success (if it happens) as a ruler for measuring yours. We are all different and so many factors, including some dumb luck can factor in.

      Just do your best and good luck!

    10. Generic Name*

      I think it’s highly industry dependent and also your level within that industry. My second-to-last job hunt took me over a year, but I only applied to maybe a dozen jobs. Got 2 interviews. One offer. At that time I was in the 3-5 years of experience range. My most recent job hunt (with over 15 years of industry experience under my belt) took maybe 3 months. Applied to roughly the same number of jobs. Had 5 or 6 interviews, two of those resulted in “you’re great, and we’d love to hire you, but we are hiring for X specialty and you said you are passionate about Y”, and one offer.

    11. Application Hell (NO LONGER!)*

      I want to thank everyone for their kind words and advice. Because the universe has a sense of humor I WAS JUST OFFERED A JOB!!!! Turns out that putting a spotlight on a problem makes it go away. Truly a good news Friday!

    12. Sparkle Llama*

      First job hunt after grad school was worse than 1/30. Second hunt with some real work experience was probably 1/15, but would have been longer in both cases if I didn’t settle for jobs I was overqualified for. Worked out great in the end since I was substantially promoted from the second position not terribly long after being hired.

      I am guessing after around 20-30 applications in 6 months in my first search I just applied for anything I didn’t think a computer would reject my application. I am not necessarily in a competitive field (most job openings have 5-10 qualified candidates) but there are a limited number of jobs in my area so I just got desperate to work full time in something vaguely related to my degree.

    13. fhqwhgads*

      The context I’ve heard that specific statistic was in a college course, and the context was something to the effect of “If one person cares enough to comment about A Thing you should assume there are 30 who feel the same way but didn’t bother.” So basically, deciding how to weigh public feedback.
      I have not heard that number in the context of applications/rejections, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Or both could be malarky for all I know.

    14. KittyGhost*

      My last job hunt happened right after the Great Tech Layoffs of January 2023 so my ratio of offer to rejection was… not that. I crunched the exact numbers and they made 1 offer/30 rejections look gosh darn optimistic. There’s a lot of factors that go into these things, but in my case I suspect it was 99% timing. Which sucks since timing is why I needed to job hunt in the first place.

    15. AnotherLibrarian*

      GLAM is super-duper competitive. It varies super widely by geographic region and branch. I can only speak to special collections librarianship, my field. So, in that field, I think 30 rejections would be high, because I don’t know that 30 entry level special collections librarian jobs open annually nation-wide in the USA. However, for job hunting in general, you have to get rejections, which I think is the point of the advice. You can’t let it grind you down. If you’re not getting to the phone screens, than I’d look at your application materials. Good luck!!

      1. LAM*

        I felt it was worse when I was in the M side than the L or A side. I originally ended up in the A side because that’s where I had the most bites (but a lot of term positions) until I got my first permanent position a decade ago. Now that I’m settled in my career, I bet I won’t get that many bites from the L even with a lot of reference desk experience. But I do get a lot of records management recruiters now. I usually get at least an interview for postings on the A side in my geographic region.

        If you are geographically limited, the ratio might be less, because there are less frequent postings, but it can take longer a job.

        1. AnotherLibrarian*

          I have heard the M side is even more competitive, but don’t have any personal experience with that field.

  13. Twenk*

    I’ve been wondering whether seeking out a govt job with a pension is a good idea for diversifying retirement accounts — I’m ahead of the curve in maxing out IRA and 401k in low-cost index funds, but what if the market tanks in the future? is having a pension an ideal perk, or is it dumb to pay into a pension given the lack of ability to predict the future of the USA medical/Social Security benefits?

    1. Bacu1a*

      It’s going to highly depend on what government you’re working for. Many states have historically under-invested in their pensions, so their outlooks for future years aren’t great. Additionally, you need to know what the vesting period for the pension is. I work for a state agency where it’s 10 years to vest. I would really love to find another job that less stressful/demanding, but I have less than 3 years to go until I get that pension. So it makes things difficult, I’ve had many coworkers say on bad days “I hope this pension is worth it.”

      There are also a couple of other investment options for government employees only (ex. 457(b)).

      If you can find a pension with a short vesting period, it might be worth it. But I wouldn’t take a government job just to diversify your portfolio.

    2. Helewise*

      You might have a hard time finding a government job with a pension. At least in our area, most places have done away with that.

    3. Government Worker*

      A lot will depend on how the pension is structured. I am in a state that DOES adequately fund their pension plan (and I do not have to contribute to that funding), so I feel solid about that. I got into the job when the vesting period was 5 years (check), and I’ll be eligible to retire when I’m 51 under the 80 and out structure (I am eligible to retire when my age and years of service combined are 80; which changed for folks hired after me). The guaranteed pension benefit I am eligible for is calculated by my length of service as well as my highest period of pay. I do also do additional retirement saving, because I’m not interested in having all my eggs in one basket, but current projections with my guaranteed benefit pension and separate retirement savings (and Social Security, which, lolz will not be around when I retire I’m sure) is that I am on track for like 110% income replacement at retirement. I have the option to work 3-5 years post my original retirement eligibility for a lump sum amount, which would pay off any remaining mortgage/car payments and then sinking the rest into my retirement savings, which would help the budget if I still have any monthly payments at that point (hopefully not). I also have some certifications I plan to maintain through my gov’t retirement so my goal is some remote contracting as needed so I don’t get too bored (although I have lots of hobbies I’m looking forward to devoting more time to!).

      However, I do talk to a lot more recent government hires who worked private sector for a significant period, and they are coming in under a different structure (they have to contribute a percentage of their annual pay to the pension/vesting period is longer/90 and out instead of 80). The pension is still worth it to them but it will not be near as much as mine.

    4. Anonymous Koala*

      I’m on the federal pension plan, and honestly I don’t consider it a major contributor to my retirement plan. The maximum yearly payment I can get is 30% of my last salary, and that’s if I work for fed gov for 30+ years. In my field (and many other technical fields) you can make up to 6X a gov salary in the private sector, so the pension doesn’t really make up for the wage difference. IMO the real advantage of a gov job is the lifestyle – most departments allow some degree of hybrid work and you generally aren’t expected to work overtime.

    5. Retirement person*

      Hi, retirement plan consultant here. I don’t recommend switching to a government job just to diversify your retirement accounts for all the reasons the folks above mentioned. You have no guarantee of what those pension benefits are going to look like when you retire. However, you can get “pension-like” coverage by purchasing an annuity for yourself. That will give you guaranteed income for life in the same way a pension would. Financial planners often recommend having guaranteed income that would cover your basic needs (shelter, food, etc) and if social security won’t be enough then an annuity is a good option. Be sure you fully understand the fees, coverage, and commissions when you purchase it, just like if you were buying another type of insurance.

      Another option if you’re just worried about the market tanking is to invest in bonds or CDs which retain value. That’s not the same as a mutual fund or ETF that holds bonds, those can have negative returns.

    6. Hlao-roo*

      The rule of thumb for retirement savings is that when you’re young, you start off with a 90/10 stock/bond mix or a 80/20 stock/bond mix. More stocks when you’re young, because they are higher-risk, higher-reward. As you age, you can slowly change your asset mix to include a higher percentage of bonds, which insulates you from the risk of a market crash. This all to say, no, I don’t think a pension is necessary to diversify retirement accounts.

    7. Sparkle Llama*

      I work in local government in a state that has a public employee pension for local governments. Our fund had a gap for a while but I believe that was finally fixed this year with a state appropriation. I am not planning on my plan paying out what it says it will (I am 30 with 6 years paying in so far) but I am planning on it paying me something. I am not planning on SS paying anything.

      Some things to consider:
      – how long to vest
      – what options to switch jobs do you have while retaining or converting your pension benefits (I can switch to any local government and stay at my same pension and I can convert my service time into two other pensions for other government workers in the state)
      – options for retirement and working again in the private or public sector (it is super common for high ranking people to retire, start collecting and then work in the private sector)
      – depending on your age and situation consider how pensions are treated in divorce in your state
      – solvency of the fund

      Also, if you are working somewhere with 401k matching, that may be better than a pension depending on the match and your situation. I haven’t encountered an employer with both.

  14. Ali + Nino*

    “You couldn’t pay me to ________.”

    What job wouldn’t you do for all the money in the world?

      1. A Girl Named Fred*

        Thiiiiiiis. I can think of several others (I don’t want anybody’s life in my hands and I don’t want to be available for work 24/7, so news, PR, and the like are also out) but I hate hate haaaaaaate sales and everything salespeople are required to do. My partner is a salesman (retail shop manager) and loves it, it fits his personality well, but it’s completely antithetical to how I am and I ran away screaming when my last job turned out to basically be sales in a different coat of paint.

      2. Frickityfrack*

        Ugh, I just applied for a second job in retail because dental insurance is a joke and this crown isn’t paying for itself, and the sales part is the one I dread. I’m not bad at it because I’m pretty good with people, but I also refuse to lie and push things that people don’t need. I’m hoping if they hire me, I’ll be able to mostly just stick to stocking and customer service.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          I did retail in college and for a bit afterwards. This non-pushy introvert was weirdly good at it. Just be friendly and helpful and listen to what the customer wants, and you’ll be fine. (And make your first goal to be learning where everything is. It will make your life so much easier.)

          1. Frickityfrack*

            Oh, I’ve worked in retail, just not for a long time and I wasn’t sorry to stop doing it. I’m great at customer service, I just have zero interest in trying to pitch a store credit card or stuff that won’t work for whatever the customer is doing, and that tends to be frowned upon. The good news is, the job I applied for is at a store I spend a ton of time in, so I’m already familiar with their various brands and where everything is located, and I’m genuinely enthusiastic about the things they sell.

            1. nope*

              Funny story: my first retail job I got taken off the registers. My assistant manager came by and asked me if I asked each customer if they wanted to apply for the store credit card. I said no and he asked why. I said “We’re in a recession (2008) and the interest rate is 27%”. Turns out I’d had a secret shopper come through my line and they dinged me for that. I was moved to merchandising/apparel and didn’t have to deal with selling any more! I stayed until it was time to leave for college, and my assistant manager was an amazing reference for me for years until I dropped it off my resume.

              1. Frickityfrack*

                You’re a good person – from 2003-2005, I worked for a call center that handled store credit cards for a ton of different retailers, and they’re very rarely a good idea. I worked a seasonal job at Macy’s during the recession and they got annoyed with me for not pushing the card there, too. Like, y’all hired me to gift wrap, you pay minimum wage, there’s zero incentive to bother with something I’m vaguely morally opposed to anyway, so no.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Oh yeah. I’ve worked many different nonprofit roles at this point – you won’t find me within 100 feet of a development office.

    1. Juicebox Hero*

      Teach. Being able to break something complicated down into small parts, then convey that information to someone else without sounding bossy/patronizing/impatient is a real skill and I just don’t have it. And I sincerely admire those who do.

    2. Irish Teacher*

      Lots of things, but the one that springs to mind is firefighter as I have a huge phobia of heights and also a fear of fire!

    3. Juicebox Hero*

      Oh, I just remembered that article from a little while ago about the person who was the household manager for a family of spoiled rich people. The one who had to drop everything to fly four cups of yogurt from the family fridge to somewhere in Europe, and then they didn’t even eat them. I’m pretty sure that’s what awaits me in Hell XD

        1. Penny*

          I think I wouldn’t mind the small children. It’s the adults that come with them I’m not interested in dealing with!

      1. AnonForThis*

        Yes. And I DO work occasionally in daycare. Each of those kids is a delight, but the job of being in charge of a group of them is SOMETHING I WILL SCHEME WITH EVERY OUNCE OF MY BEING TO PIVOT OUT OF.

    4. Tio*

      Medical profession/caregiving. Bless them, but I couldn’t deal with people’s sick and mess, I just can’t

    5. Charlotte Lucas*

      Politician. Or, really, anything where your private life ends up under a microscope. Even my boring life has things in it some people would disapprove of.

    6. PurpleElephant*

      Politician or public service/elected positions. People are absolutely terrible to anyone running for any office. And I wouldn’t want any job that comes with automatic death threats…which seems to be the norm nowadays for any woman running for almost any office.

      1. Csethiro Ceredin*

        I have thought the same, and it’s sad because I do have some interest in politics and advocacy. But it’s just so scary.

    7. Sally Rhubarb*

      Most of them but I know I would be absolute shit at any kind of human care field. Childcare, elder care, I do not have the patience (or the stomach) for it.

    8. we had a bat in my office again last week and i had to deal with it because no one else would and it sucked*

      do animal control. i love animals, i have huge respect for people who work with animals, even HUGER respect for people who work with feral/dangerous/animals in places they’re not supposed to be, but not unless it was the last job on earth.

      1. former animal control officer*

        Ha! I would so much rather deal with feral/dangerous/animals in places they’re not supposed to be than just about any “regular” job.

        1. Tio*

          I think the problem with Animal control is that it’s not just dangerous animals. They also get called for lost animals, abandoned animals, and removing neglected animals, all of which are too sad for my heart.

    9. The Prettiest Curse*

      Anything with heights.
      Anything where people could potentially die if I mess up.
      Any job where people yell at you all day. Running event registration means I get the occasional rude person, but it’s infrequent and thankfully often by email.

    10. Aphrodite*

      Work in a payday loan place. When I was looking for a second part-time job I actually considered this–for less than two seconds. It would violate every fiber of my ethics if I used my (good) persuasive skills to get desperate people to sink into a financial hole they’ll never get out off. I still shudder when I think of it.

    11. t-vex*

      Insurance adjuster. Talk to people on the worst day of their lives and figure out how to pay them as little as possible?? No fing way.

    12. Head sheep counter*

      Generally – care-taking of any age person beyond a check-in

      Specifically, I would prefer to never to commissioned sales. I would prefer not to handled a call center or help desk. I would be surprised if I am at all suited to be one of those personal assistance who basically… do all the things for a person (see general comment).

    13. BellyButton*

      I just got off a coaching call with someone who is an event planner. She was telling me about something that went horribly wrong at an event and how when working with celebrities or politicians you have to pivot and change and adapt to whatever they want. The stress I felt from just hearing about these situations made me sick to my stomach!

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        As an event planner, this is exactly why I don’t ever want to do events with celebrities or politicians! The people who speak at my events are well-known in their field, but fortunately are mostly fairly easy to deal with.

    14. RagingADHD*

      Teach. Well, not below college level anyway.

      I love my kids. I love my kids’ friends. I love my friends’ kids. In fact, I’ve never met a child or teen I couldn’t love or at least feel sorry for. But I absolutely cannot keep up with kids in herds. And they know it, and run roughshod.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        It’s the parents you really need to watch out for these days!

        The general attitude toward teachers is so negative nowadays that I don’t know how anyone stays in the profession.

      2. Angry socialist*

        I have taught at 3 universities and it turns out you can’t pay me enough to do it anymore.

    15. SofiaDeo*

      … something illegal/immoral unless you give me lawyers fees, compensation for mental distress for being in jail, and 2-3 times lost wages. Up front.

    16. Elsewise*

      Flight attendant! I’m terrified of flying- not heights, just planes. I can just about manage it if I’m severely drugged, have a cup full of ice to keep myself from getting sick, have my headphones in, and am curled as close to a fetal position as I can in the uncomfortable horrible seats. If I then had to deal with rude, aggressive, violent, vomiting, demanding, screaming passengers? Someone opening the emergency doors and nearly killing us all because they’re mad about mask mandates we don’t even have anymore? AND you have to be polite? Hell no.

    17. Chauncy Gardener*

      The deli counter at my local grocery store. People are so darn rude to those folks!!

    18. Oysters and Gender Freedoms*

      Prison guard. Military. Police. Coal miner. Oil rig. Pretty much anything with violence, coercion, or heavy labor.

    19. Generic Name*

      Working in oil & gas. I have a skillset that they pay a lot for, but I’m never working for an oil & gas company.

    20. overwhelmed*

      Sadly, work in a school, any school. (And I am a former public classroom teacher.)

      I don’t want to potentially die for my job.

      God bless every single dedicated educator still out there in the field.

    21. Echo*

      Telemarketer/cold call sales. I think I could handle something like B2B sales in a pinch, but if I had to use “hard sell” practices to meet my goals I would crack under the pressure.

      Also, anything where fucking up means someone dies, like being an officer in the military or a surgeon. I have chronic insomnia and I don’t want anyone’s life to depend on how many hours of sleep I’ve gotten.

    22. Csethiro Ceredin*

      Sales, as many have said, and I’d be a bad fit to work with kids due to lack of interest and exposure.

      Anything that meant I’d be famous.

      Also anything I thought was just unescapably morally wrong. My friend’s dad runs a huge, very shareholder and yacht type corporation in a field that I think is destroying the world for money, and he offered me a job once. It was way more money than I was making and for much less responsibility but I just couldn’t.

    23. Miss Cranky Pants*

      Any job in which the primary responsibility is answering a phone. Just no. Any job that requires extensive contact with the general public, especially retail. Unless it’s retail for hobby stuff I like already like plants or horses. Otherwise, neigh :)

    24. Hotdog not dog*

      Recruiting. I can’t tell you how many non-recruitment related jobs I’ve had where things get restructured and someone thinks it would be a good idea to move me to recruiting. How the hell am I supposed to convince other people they should work here when I’m not even sure *I* want to work here!

    25. Alex*

      Any kind of performer or public speaker. I have huge stage fright.

      Or a city bus driver. Driving through traffic all day, buses full of angry passengers, and no bathroom breaks. No thank you.

    26. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Cold calling folks. Anything on the clinical side of medical, either for people or for animals.

      My stipulation to my current boss is that she can put pretty much whatever she wants to on my plate as long as she doesn’t try to make me talk to patients. My customer service muscles are amazing for short time frames, as long as (1) people don’t say stupid things and (b) I can appropriately foist them off on my manager – I did fine as a retail cashier because when people got stupid I could do the “let me get you my manager” dance, but when I AM the manager, it doesn’t work that way.

    27. Dovasary Balitang*

      Work for a right wing political party. If your platform is anti-immigration, anti-AFAB health care, anti-equal marriage (and all facets therein), or environmental destruction / climate change denial, no amount of money would be worth it for me.

      Also, any role where working 14+ hour days is the systemic norm. I’ve grabbed my work-life balance by the scruff and I will not let it go.

    28. KittyGhost*

      Go back into retail. I hate dealing with the general public, but I’d go back into food service if the pay was right. The things you need to do are very straightforward, and parts of the job even have a computerized list showing you what goes where. Retail? Never again. I couldn’t deal with the sheer lack of direction combined with all the worst parts of dealing with the general public.

    29. Some Dude*

      Police officer. I don’t like telling people what to do, I am a wimp, and it would be really depressing seeing people at their worst all the time.

    30. Cedrus Libani*

      Any sort of emotion-wrangler. No social work, no therapy, not at any price. Politics or sales would be rough, but if you’re an eccentric billionaire who would like to make it worth my while, this STEM-brained cold fish would be willing to ride those bicycles…for one million dollars a year, post-tax, and I’m keeping my commissions too. Small price to pay given the likely entertainment value.

    31. I Have RBF*

      There are several:
      * Sales. I can’t sell, and I feel slimed when I try.
      * Call center, receptionist, switchboard operator. I’ve done this work, and I hated it. I don’t care if it’s first tier support, order taking, surveys, insurance claims, or any other job that involves phone calls to or from John Q Public. I can handle it for about 6 months, then I don’t want to talk on the phone at all for five years after it.
      * Retail, fast food, or server. I can’t smile and be servile enough to please all the Karens in the world. I have a lot of respect for those who can.
      * Manual labor. I’m disabled, so for me to get a physical labor job would be a sick joke, on both me and my employer. This includes domestic and custodial stuff. I appreciate the work that people do that I can’t.
      * Work with certain bodily fluids. I have sympathetic nausea. I can’t deal with puke and snot.

    32. E*

      Surrogacy. Not sure if it counts as a job but man was I ill my whole pregnancy (tho very grateful I was able to be pregnant, you could not pay me enough to make it worth it other than the reward of a child of my own)

    33. chocolate muffins*

      I came here to say manual labor, which I expected to see much more of in the replies. I am small and weak.

      Also, +1 to the people saying that they would not work for Republican causes.

    34. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

      I’m starting to think my current one. :(

      Very well paid, but I’m wondering if it’s worth it to be so unhappy.

    35. Anon for this*

      I have a job that elicits this reaction from many people, although they agree it is a very necessary thing and are often sweetly grateful my colleagues and I are doing it.

    36. School Secretary*

      School bus driver – trying to handle two or three classes’ worth of kids at once, while DRIVING A HUGE VEHICLE IN TRAFFIC. School bus drivers don’t get paid anywhere near enough.

  15. Nadja of Antipaxos*

    I’m married to a lovely man, and we’re both in jobs we love – but those jobs are over 200 miles apart. For 4 months a year we live together; for the other 8, he’s away Monday – Thursday and with me for weekends. It’s not perfect, but we’re both happy with this arrangement and with vid calling every night we’re apart.

    However, when we tell people this, responses are… exhausting. Lots of “oh no, how horrible!” and “I could never” and “have you tried getting a remote job?”, etc. It’s to the point where we both dread catching up with family, because of the number of “he’s still away so much? Don’t worry, that job won’t last forever” comments. (Notably, everyone *within* the industry is cool; half of them have the same arrangement.) Anyone have scripts for responding to “you don’t live together?!?”, “are you sure he can’t get a remote job?” and similar such crap, or for forestalling it entirely?

    1. Shoes*

      “It works for us. Thanks.” Repeat every time in a light tone. Move to another subject. You can’t control other people.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Heh– that arrangement sounds pretty good to me, especially since my partner (whom I love) works full time from home, as do I. But “It works for us” is a good one, said matter-of-factly with a smile. For the more obnoxious ones, “Can’t miss him if he doesn’t go away.” If they press, “It’s not ideal [even if this is a lie] but it makes our time together so much more special.”

      1. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

        Haha yes it does sound ideal! (she says, in her 550sqft apartment, never more than 30 paces from my spouse, both working from home…)

    3. Admin of Sys*

      Maybe something like “It’s great having a relationship so strong that we don’t have to be together every moment.” said with a voice full of happiness? And if they continue poking, act concerned about how their own relationships might not be very stable if they wont let their partner out of their sight.

      Forestalling it will be harder, because even if you front load with “it’s so great” people are going to be curious how you manage what to them is a non-standard relationship.

    4. Juicebox Hero*

      There’s always the old standby: “What a strange thing to say. Now, about [whatever you were talking about before, or totally new topic].”

    5. Not A Manager*

      I think it helps not conspicuously not match their energy level. Stay bland, almost gray rock. “yoU DOn’T l1VE toGETheR?!1!!” – “Eh, it works for us.” “I’ll bet it never occurred to you that he could GET A DIFFERENT JOB!!!” – “We’re fine the way things are.”

      Don’t bother explaining why it works or addressing whatever their “concerns” or “suggestions” are. I think if you make it clear that you’re happy, and that you’re completely uninterested in their opinion, they’ll probably move on.

      For family or people that you interact with regularly, you could try one straightforward conversation where you tell them that this arrangement works for you and it isn’t going to change, and that you don’t want to keep talking about it. Then when they bring it up, you can say, “it works for us, remember? Changing the subject, how’s little Timmy?”

    6. Irish Teacher*

      A colleague of mine has a similar arrangement and when somebody asked her what they were planning once they married (they were engaged at the time), her response was something like “carry on as we are. It’s the perfect arrangment anyway, as I wouldn’t want him around all the time and he probably wouldn’t want to put up with me all the time either.” I mean, she was joking, obviously and that might not work from everybody, but a toned down version of something like “we think it’s great. We have lots of independence and freedom to do our own thing and it makes our time together even more special.”

      1. CommanderBanana*

        My parents spent the first 17ish years of their marriage mostly apart (military). It wasn’t until my father was no longer constantly deployed that they realized they actually hated living together and didn’t like each other that much, and that point, it seemed to late to do anything about it. They’re now 42+ years married and completely miserable.

        1. OP Glowing Symphony*

          Saw this when we were dual military, some of our friends are not together anymore because they didn’t realize they weren’t compatible having lived the honeymoon military life for many years. It’s hard for sure. I hate the word resilient, but it can apply.

      2. ferrina*

        No issues with snoring or hogging the blankets!

        I was married to someone who developed sleep apnea 5+ years after we married. He snorted and made all kinds of noises in his sleep. I was a light sleeper. It was hell. I couldn’t sleep if we shared a bed; he got mad and felt abandoned if we slept separately. After we divorced he finally got the sleep apnea diagnosed and got a CPAP.

      3. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

        This suddenly made me remember the friends who finally decided to get married after quite some time of living together, and for the honeymoon, the bride went to another country to help a friend who was about to give birth as a single parent. The groom stayed home.

    7. Meh*

      I think if you just keep your answers breezy and make it clear it works for your relationship. If anyone pushes, flip to confusion why they would be so pushy about something so personal…it’s none of their business for real.

      If you have the talent of making people feel stupid while still being super nice about it then go with that.

      My husband and I have had plenty of arrangements that would not work for other people, including being 2 out of the 3 people in a small kitchen, working full time together and of course living together. Most people balk at that but we loved it and have found plenty of places to work together since then.

    8. Betty*

      For the recurring stuff with family, I’d respond to the question with a breezy, polite, and dismissive “yeah, we obviously wish there was an easy fix, too. Honestly it’s kind of a bummer to focus on it when we’re trying to enjoy time with everyone else, so let’s talk about something else. [Or “I’m sure it gets boring for everyone talking about something that’s not going to change!”] How are Cousin Timmy’s tuba lessons going?”

    9. Dinwar*

      I have a similar living arrangement–only I’m renting a room from another woman, so technically I’m married to one woman and living with another.

      I’ve always been weird, and nerdy, and picked on, and my job has always been a something people have considered appropriate to mock me about. After 35 years, I just don’t care anymore. And since I’m comfortable with my lifestyle, and I give zero hoots about what anyone else thinks anyway, I’m perfectly fine making the conversation SUPER uncomfortable for everyone else. “Yeah, but my wife and I trust each other” is a good one, since most people consider infidelity to be the biggest risk. Or “We could, but I’d have to give up beans and brussel sprouts.” Generally after a few iterations this garbage stops.

      1. Jaydee*

        “We could, but I’d have to give up beans and Brussels sprouts.”

        Lol! This is the best response!

      2. Nadja of Antipaxos*

        I love that! Being a little bit snarky after the third or fourth comment from one person feels well-earned, and the assumption that everyone cheats really is part of their judginess.

    10. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I have a similar arrangement, and it similarly works for us! Also similar are the number of questions I have to field along these lines. I agree with the others that a breezy, “It works for us!” is sufficient. For those who pry, I usually say something like, “This is not a problematic arrangement. We like it and have no plans to change it.” Said firmly, then a change of topic.

    11. 123OLarry*

      My husband is a pilot, and I get similar “how terrible to spend so much time apart!” comments. My scripted response is a sarcastic “oh no, extra time to myself, whatever shall I do?” with a follow up about how sometimes X is a pain when he’s gone and sometimes Y is a pain when he’s here. Your mileage may vary, but I find that it balances expectations pretty well – I like being able to bring it up in conversations about my life whether it has sucked (single parenting shenanigans) or whether it was nice (I ate X thing my husband hates the smell of).

    12. Friday Person*

      This isn’t going to help for family and other repeat offenders, but if you’re telling people for the first time, it might be worth including the sentiments you express here (“not perfect, but we’re both happy”) in your initial explanation of the arrangement to give people a prompt for how you want them to respond. Otherwise, if it comes up in conversation, people are going to feel the need to follow up somehow and are more likely to fall back on commiserating or assuming it’s an unhappy situation.

    13. WantonSeedStitch*

      First, I totally read this in Nadja’s voice and envisioned your lovely man yelling “BAT!” and flying to visit you.

      Second, I was in a somewhat similar situation for several years. We lived together all year, but my husband spent three nights a week at the other end of the state where he had an apartment near his work. “It works for us” was basically what I said. I also found that citing some things I found positive about the arrangement helped: “It’s kind of nice that I have so much time to spend exactly how I want it! If I want to, I can spontaneously decide to head out shopping after work or catch up with friends over dinner.”

      Right now, my husband doesn’t have a full time job and I work at home. We see each other all day, every day. Even though I’m more tied down now that we have a child, I still kind of miss the days when I had more evenings to myself. When my husband goes out in the evening for a fraternal organization event a couple times a month, I relish my couple of hours after my son goes to bed to just be on my own at home. And I’m an extrovert!

    14. ursula*

      Hello, I was in a similar situation with my partner for about 10 years. I found that sometimes people are actually quite capable of ‘getting it,’ they are just surprised at first and looking for a way to relate to you.

      For people who I knew would never understand, I’d shrug smilingly and say, “I know it’s unusual, but it works for us.” That was usually the end of it. If truly pressed, I’d add, “We’re both very independent people. It’s certainly not for everyone. But, again, it works for us.”

      Also if people are going the “I could never” route, choose to interpret those as statements about them and not as judgments on your life. A perfectly good response to “I could never” is, “Yeah, it sounds like you wouldn’t like it at all!” No reflection on you whatsoever.

      1. Gathering Moss*

        Yeah, my partner spent ten years travelling for work more than he was home, and I used to tell people that it was nice to have the chance to miss him. It meant we don’t take for granted the time we spend together, even now.

      2. Armchair Analyst*

        that’s very kind!

        at one point in my life I took “I could never do that!” as a personal challenge and would reply to people saying it, “oh, man – I was just about to make you!”

        your way is definitely more mature

    15. Nadja of Antipaxos*

      I can’t tell you all how much it means to see everyone weighing in with their own positive stories about living apart and assurances that there’s nothing wrong with our arrangement. It can sometimes feel like I must be wrong about having a happy marriage, because I have so many different people telling me all the time how horrible it must be. Thank you — this forum is wonderful.

    16. Louise*

      My wife works in nightlife and I have a 10-6, so we only get one day a week actually together. People are always asking me the same questions like “how can you be ok with this?” and really the only thing I’ve found is to say that it works for us and then talk about what we do like about the situation.

  16. Little beans*

    Is it ok for me, as a manager to be “late” when others are on time? My team is exempt and our organization has never had strict schedules of when people need to be in the office, some choose to come earlier or work later for their own reasons. Because we’re now hybrid, only a few people are in each day and we need to make sure at least one person is there “on time” to unlock the doors. There are a few people in my team who have always chosen to come in earlier anyway, and it’s hard for me to do that consistently (I have an unpredictable toddler and commute). I could get up earlier everyday but that would mean changing my kid’s routine and daycare schedule. Is it ok for me to rely on my staff who choose to come early anyway to be the first ones in, when I don’t reliably do that myself? I do work late and in the evenings, I don’t think there is any question people will think I’m slacking.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Since there are a few people on your team who come in earlier by preference – as opposed to one – I think you’re fine. But I would make sure you’ve stated this explicitly, it seems like right now you’re operating on everyone’s preference. That may be incorrect – I’m not sure how you’re ensuring the door is open on time right now – but if you haven’t said out loud “Tim, Jane, and Mickey, my schedule makes it so I’ll have to be working 10-6 pretty regularly, can you handle openings between yourselves?” I’d have that conversation.

      1. ferrina*

        Seconding. Have the conversation and have back up plans. Make sure that if Tim, Jane or Mickey need to call out on their opening day, make sure there is a someone that will come in (if that needs to be you once in a while, that should be fine for your toddler. Yes, it will suck for that day, but most toddlers will adjust back pretty quick).

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      As a late riser (who is generally willing to work later hours when necessary), I love reporting to a manager who doesn’t expect everyone to be in super early.

      The one exception is the terrible manager who routinely rocked up after everyone else, then got mad when anyone left before her. (A coworker & I discussed it. We came to the conclusion she wanted everyone there when she came in & when she left. She was eventually removed from her position.)

      So, as long as you are flexible with your staff, they probably either won’t care or might even see it as positive (provided someone is around to open the door).

    3. rainyday*

      I think it’s fine, but I think you need to name it with the staff. Check with the early arrivers that they are ok with this, and make sure there is a back-up plan for when they aren’t. You’re not “late”, you all have flexible hours and the staff know you aren’t slacking off – but in a team where everyone works flexibly but there is a certain task that definitely needs to be done at a certain time (unlocking) you maybe need a bit more planning about this task.

    4. Sloanicota*

      I separate out “late when other people are waiting for me” (late to meetings etc) from just reliably arriving on a different schedule. Don’t even think of it as late, think of it as flex hours, and be clear about it. But do be sure you’re putting in enough time, because in my experience as a peon, it’s really demoralizing when you realize the boss is doing 10-3 with an hour long lunch and making 3X your salary :P

      1. Melissa*

        My office is like this but only the manager is exempt. When it became clear some of us are morning people, and others are not, we just formalized that in a schedule. Boss likes it, because they are not an early riser, and they get emails 24/7 with inquiries, that could be forwarded while having breakfast. The answers are ready by the time they arrive in office.

    5. ThatGirl*

      Absolutely, if everyone has flexibility then you should too. It doesn’t sound like it’s customer-facing at all and nobody NEEDS to be there at a certain time. In my office I’m usually one of the first ones in … and I also leave early. Other people come in later due to their schedules and it’s no problem at all.

    6. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Is being there to unlock the door so you can serve members of the public, or take UPS deliveries, or what?

      Unless there’s something like “unlock the safe” that needs to be done at opening, I don’t see an issue.

      1. Little beans*

        It’s because not all staff have keys, so someone needs to unlock the door by 9am for other staff to get in. We are also technically public-facing but we each control our own schedules via appointments, so those of us who tend to come in later just don’t schedule appointments early in the day.

        1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

          Well then you probably just need a calendar of some kind that identifies who the key-holder opener for any given day is going to be. Depending on how many keyholders there are, you might need to assign this with a rotating duty schedule.

          And make sure the non-holders know who’s supposed to be there at 9 so they can call backup if there’s a no-show.

    7. overwhelmed*

      As long as you extend that same grace and understanding to people below you who also may have a legitimate reason to occasionally be a few minutes late.

      It sounds like you are handling it well.

      The thing that really upsets me personally is the rules that only apply to “thee, not me”.

  17. Potatoes*

    How does it come across if a not-so-new junior employee asks the following questions to their boss or supervisor/manager upon receiving a challenging assignment?

    “If you gave this assignment to (name of several high performing/more experienced peers), how would you expect them to approach this?”

    “If you received this assignment when you were starting out, what would you have done?”

    Same question but if asked to peers/non-management? So the first question would be reworded, “If you received this assignment from our boss, how would you approach this?”

    My thought process behind this is that it’s in the same country as the magic interview question Alison has posted before (what differentiates the good from really great – apologies if I’m misremembering this). Except instead of a job candidate, it’s being asked by a junior employee some time into their position.

    There’s not really a lot of personal background to this – just more of a general question that could help now or at a future job etc.

    1. Tio*

      I dunno, the initial way this came across to me was a bit like “Explain to me exactly what you want me to do and I will do that and provide no additional thought.” At least when asked to your boss. I think for the peers, it might be better to go with a wording more like “I got a new assignment I’ve never handled before; do you have any tips for me on how to get it started or things that have worked well on the past?”

      I reread your questions a couple times and I think the thing that’s throwing me off is it’s coming across a bit “Do this for me” rather than collaboratively.

      1. ina*

        I didn’t read it this way, but I can see how someone would could potentially see this as “oh, you want me to road map this for you, huh.” It might be helpful to open with how the junior employee is thinking about the task already and that way asking, “Would you, as someone more senior or who’s been doing this for longer at this org, see anything anything I am missing with my approach?”

        It’s definitely more of an ask for mentorship, but you have to give as much as you get in mentorship to grow. As an interview question, it makes total sense to ask them one-way ‘what differentiates the good from really great’ since you have no insight into the actual day-to-day dynamics of the role. But as an employee with a responsibility to do the task and is being assigned it, you have to show some thought on how you think good vs great looks…and then let others help you understand what great does look like.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      To me, it sounds like you’re trying to apply a hypothetical question to a real-life scenario, which is what happens in interviewing. You’re already in the job, so you need to be concrete. “I just got this assignment and I’m trying to work out the best way to approach it. I think I should do X, Y, and Z– does that sound right to you, or is there something you would do differently?”

      There’s nothing wrong with asking for help. If you were brand new, I would expect a bit of, “I’m not sure what to do here– what would you do?” But if you’ve been there a while, I would be put off by “How would you have approached this?” as opposed to, “This is what I think but I’m curious if you would do something different.”

      Note the key part of what I’m suggesting is that you work out a plan– or try to– first before you go seeking help. If you’re stuck, ok. But you need to do the legwork before you reach out.

        1. Extroverted Bean Counter*

          The key next step is that when you get stuck and do go ask for help, you should outline what you’ve tried so far. A vague “what are best practices, here?” wastes both your and their time – they might tell you exactly what you’ve already done and give you no new information, which means you’re no closer to solving your issue and they just spent time giving you useless direction.

          “Hey there – I’m working my way through Project and I’ve hit a roadblock on the Data Entry portion. I’m unclear where to actually find the data to enter. I have looked in Database 1, Database 2, and Database 3 as well as browsing all the shared drives for Keyword, but nothing seems right. Is there somewhere else I should be looking?”

          That way they can say “the information should be in Database 2, what parameters are you using to search?” or “oh, it’s buried in Folder > Folder2 > Folder 3 > DO NOT USE FOLDER > SubFolder > Folder You Need. Confusing, I know!” or even “what to do mean, where is the data? It should have been sent to you by So and So.”

          Whereas if you asked “how would a senior level person approach Data Entry task?” that would get you a wildly different response.

      1. Donkey Hotey*

        Strong agree. From a new person, this is a script for setting scope of work and methodology approach.

        I disagree with the person who above who suggested that it was so they could do it without additional thought.

    3. searching for a new name*

      I think it could be a good starting point or part of an ongoing development conversation, but at some point you have to develop your own skills and stop leaning on how others would approach the projects or problems. As long as you can do that I think it’s ok to ask the questions. But you want to balance it with critical thinking on your part as well.

    4. ferrina*

      The concept is good, but the wording is weird.

      I regularly do a version of this. I regularly get assigned projects that I have no idea how to do (it’s actually part of my job). I first stop by the subject matter experts (SME) for a brainstorm. I ask:
      – “Here’s what I’m doing. Has anyone tried to do this in the past? If so, what went well and what was challenging?”
      – “Based on your role as an SME in Thingmagig, what would you like to see from this?”
      – “What is your advice for me as I proceed? What warnings do you have?”

      The difference between my wording and your proposed wording is that your propsed wording seems to ask for someone else’s plans for the project. Sometimes that’s fine, but for some roles I would expect that you’d be able to put together your own project plans. It’s one thing to ask for insight on a particular aspect; it’s another to ask someone to put together the whole plan.

      Alternate: You put together a brief outline of the plan, then show it to your boss/SME and say “Here’s what I’m thinking of doing. What am I missing?” I’ve done this approach often, and it also goes over really well. It’s always easier for Boss/SME to review someone’s plan rather than write something from scratch.

    5. ecnaseener*

      I think you would need to give some introduction/context since it’s an unusual question. I also think you would want to bring your own ideas to the table when asking about a third party, because you’re not a candidate anymore, you should be trying to think through it yourself before asking.

      So like, “I’m trying to improve my X and I’ve noticed it’s something Jane’s really good at, so I’m trying to think of how she would approach this – probably A,B,C. Can you think of anything I’m missing?”

      Even that script feels awkward, and I think it’s because you’re asking hypotheticals about a third party when your real question is just “how should I approach this?” — just ask that.
      It’s much more natural in the situation where you’re asking Jane herself what she would do.

    6. Admin of Sys*

      Asking a high performing peer that question would read to me as ‘I know you do really well on this thing, can you help me learn to do as well as you do at it.’ It’s a request for mentoring / training / help, basically – just slightly weirdly worded.
      Asking a boss that just handed out the assignment is a bit more fraught with that phrasing. The first version ‘how would experienced peer do it’ could imply that they want the assignment to go to someone else or that they don’t trust their own skills. It definitely sends a signal that they don’t think they now the best way to do the thing (or they wouldn’t be asking how someone else would do it).
      The second version (starting out) sounds more like either a ‘please be my mentor’ request, or a ‘I want your job’ sort of thing, but both still imply a lack of skill on the employee’s part.

      Regardless, if the employee has had trouble with similar assignments in the past, and can’t figure out what they’re missing, a better phrasing would be something like ‘ has gotten praise from his results with this sort of thing, and I’m not sure why my results aren’t in line with his. Can you give me a run down on what you liked better about vs ?

    7. Hlao-roo*

      In my experience, it comes across better to think about what you think a good first step/approach is, and then to ask “hey, for [assignment], the approach I’m thinking of taking is XYZ. Does that sound like a good path to go down?”

      You can think of the difference between your examples and mine as the difference between a writer looking at a blank piece of paper and a writer looking at a prompt. It will be a lot easier for your supervisor to respond to a proposed plan of action (even if their response is “no, it will be much better to do this instead”) than it is to generate their own plan of action.

    8. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Thanks all – I’m glad I asked here first! 

      There’s not a whole lot of background here. At least, I can’t think of what else to add? Definitely not asking anyone to do anything for me. I do try to do as much as possible myself before going to anyone.

      When I first started, my boss was very “i’m not a micromanager!” and whatever I did, he actually told me many times I was doing a good job and gave lots of positive feedback. But then my annual review didn’t go well at all. He said we’d sit together and come up with a way to help me get better. Since then, he has given me a lot more critical/constructive feedback. Before I go to him for anything, I make every effort to figure it out myself.

      1. ferrina*

        Sounds like your manager is not great at giving feedback. He definitely botched your annual review (if you got surprise negative feedback, that’s usually a sign that your manager messed up)

        I’d take the approach of asking for creating a plan/prototype/draft and asking for “a second set of eyes” or to “pick your brain”. If the manager has hangups about being “micromanagy”, then this approach puts you as an equal while still requesting feedback. I’ve found it helps to have a document to review together- something about that tangible item can really help it feel more like a brainstorming session, yet also invokes editing. Stay upbeat and “awesome, this is super helpful!” the whole time. If he’s conflict avoidant, he may shut down if the mood gets too down. “Hmm, I hadn’t thought about it that way! That’s a good thing for me to spend some time on” is a good phrase for “yeah, that’s not going to work.” I’ll spend time thinking about it- and not approach it the way you just said.

        1. Potatoes*

          Yeah, it was tough – I had already felt like I wasn’t as good as I could be so I didn’t rate myself very highly either but they thought I was even worse than that and that my self assessment was “very far off from what we assessed – and that’s our fault!” It didn’t feel great at all. I’ve been trying my best but anytime we interact (and I could be reading a whole lot into it that I shouldn’t!) He seems annoyed.

          I like the suggestion of staying upbeat and cheerful, he does seem to value that a lot.

          1. Tio*

            If your self assessment and their assessment are far off, that is usually their fault. My boss says that “Nothing on your performance review should be a surprise to you or something you’ve never heard before.” And I agree. Now, there are some people that are Not Gonna Hear It no matter what you tell them, but you don’t really seem like one of them, to me. So they should have been giving you a clear idea of what they thought and whether you were meeting expectations the whole time, and they did not.

    9. Little beans*

      This doesn’t sound great to me. Coming from a junior employee, it sounds a little like: I don’t know what to do but I don’t want to admit it so I’m trying to trick you into doing it for me. I’d instead say something more like: here’s the approach I was thinking of but could I get your feedback on if I could do anything better?

    10. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      This seems to me a way of asking “I don’t know how to approach this, what should I do?” without explicitly saying so.

      1. Potatoes*

        That’s helpful to know. I was going more for “You’ve a lot more experience and are good at what you do, how would you do this?” but that wording itself sounds too awkward to me too.

        1. Still*

          I think it’s because that’s waaaay too open-ended of a question, and it makes the askee do all the work.

          It’s okay to ask for help, but you have to put effort into a) trying to figure it out by yourself first (which you said you’ve been doing, great!), and b) narrowing down your questions.

          “How would you approach this task” is way too open. “I would like to do X, am I on the right track?” is much easier to respond to. Or “I have concerns about A, I’m thinking we could handle it by doing B and C, unless there is a better way to approach it?” Show that you’ve done your homework and give them something specific to respond to.

      2. Someguy*

        Right. If I were asked the question, the answer might not be what they were hoping for.

        “If you received this assignment when you were starting out, what would you have done?”

        If I received this assignment when I was just starting out, I would have (and did) do ABC.

        Under no circumstances should you do ABC. For many, many reasons.

        If you are having trouble getting started, we can talk about that.

    11. Lucia Pacciola*

      If I were the boss or supervisor/manager:

      “Dang, I was hoping Junior Employee had picked up more of how we do these kinds of tasks by now, and would be at the point of coming to me with an action plan. I guess I’ll have to give them the blank slate orientation one more time. And I guess I’ll have to think about whether they’re picking up the job fast enough to be worth retaining.”

      If I were a peer/non-management:

      “I have my own work to do. I can’t keep giving the blank slate orientation to the new hire. I hope this doesn’t end up being one of those situations where I have to re-do all their work on top of my own. Please god let them figure it out sooner rather than later.”

      There’s nothing wrong with asking for advice/guidance from your leaders and peers! I fully support the sentiment, but the way these questions are worded is… not a good look at all.

      You need to open with an action plan that demonstrates how much you’ve been paying attention and already learned about the job, and ask for feedback on that plan. The blank slate question is really best saved for interviews. It’s not like you’re trying to figure out if your boss or peer is a good fit for the job, or see what kind of personality traits they display when given an open-ended question.

    12. WantonSeedStitch*

      I don’t love asking those questions of the boss. It seems an odd way of asking “so how should I do this?” and doesn’t show any initiative. It frankly sounds like the person is saying “I want you to tell me what to do but don’t want to SOUND like that’s what I want.” Instead, I would rather hear the junior employee run some ideas by me about how they are thinking of approaching it. “My thought is that I’ll first do X, then Y and Z. Does that sound like a good approach to you?” It shows more creativity and problem solving. Even if the ideas show they’re not thinking about it in the right way, I’d want to know they were TRYING to figure it out for themselves. It would give me more of an idea of where their skills and knowledge were, and where they might benefit from some extra coaching or training.

      Asking a peer, I would still prefer the junior employee to take the same kind of approach. But if they’re stumped, I can see them saying “I just got this assignment from the boss, but I’m not sure how to begin. Where would you start on this?”

    13. Busy Middle Manager*

      I don’t like these. Are you in a job where you need to be given a step-by-step instruction on everything? It seems like they expect one to figure stuff out on their own, but you want instructions, so are trying to find a way to trick them into giving you play-by-play instructions where that might not be necessary. TBH I’ve managed people like this before and it’s painful. I really wish they focused on the larger picture such as “making report to show where we stand with debt” and not the either unimportant or obvious steps, such as whether a field gets looked up in column D or F when it’s a report we made.

    14. Punk*

      In accounting, tasks are routine enough that you should be able to do most of it on your own and then ask for help if something comes up that you haven’t seen before. Your supervisor and coworkers will know the difference between tasks that you do all the time and tasks that don’t come up very often.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Yes, the vast majority of my core tasks (notices, projections, tax prep, bookkeeping, payroll) I know enough to get started and usually finish to end. When there’s something within those I’ve never encountered and I’ve looked at resources (reviewing prior year information, googling, or asking outside network), and still stuck on, I’ll ask. I’m very conscious of not asking the same questions again and again.

    15. Qwerty*

      It comes across poorly. I’m kinda annoyed by the questions even in the hypothetical for some reason though I can’t put my finger on why.

      I think a big part is the indirectness. If someone is stuck, I’d rather they just admit it rather than try to turn into a hypothetical and basically hide their lack of skill. I can’t fix what I can’t see. My experience when people try stuff like is this is they pretend whatever answer I give is close to what they were planning to do anyway.

      Another part is this junior employee needs to butt out of the business of other teammates. If I were to give the task to Senior Sam, my expectation is that he’d handle it and it keep me informed on any blockers or major decisions and let me know if there were issues or ways I could help. Different members of my team will have different approaches to solving problems, but the results are what usually matter. I would expect different team members to approach things differently based on my knowledge of their backgrounds, skillsets, and personalities, which isn’t really relevant info that Junior Jack needs to hear.

      There is a vibe here of “I’ve done nothing and I’m out of ideas” which I think is why it isn’t sitting well with me. There’s a chance I’d wonder whether Junior Jack has the critical thinking skills or initiative needed for the role.

      As a senior team member who trains entry level juniors, its less of a response because I’m not as responsible. It still is really weird phrasing – I’d probably think of it as just odd the first time but not dwell on it, but after that I’d have concerns.

      I’m not sure how the magic question plays into this. That question is a good way of understanding what the interviewer is looking for and whether you are a good fit for the role and start a good dialog there. Asking the question doesn’t impress me as a hiring manager – but the resulting conversation might allow the candidate to show how they fit what I’m looking for if the interview questions didn’t give them space for that. Trying to use the magic question to get your boss to think you are a better employee does not make any sense to me. If your intention is to use the questions to show yourself as great instead of good – well, that’s probably why they annoyed me, because it kinda feels like a manipulation even though there is nothing wrong with the words themselves.

    16. Yoli*

      You’ve gotten a lot of really good responses, so I’d just add that this literally happened to me (manager) yesterday: my newest team member reached out to say “Today I saw X…based on that I want to do Y on Monday…does that sound like the right thing to do and if not what would you suggest?” I called her and asked for more info on A+B, and based on that recommended modified-version of Y. That’s what I would expect from a new team member who’s on the right track to being successful. (She’s been in the job about a month.)

    17. The Other Dawn*

      If the boss gives you a challenging assignment and you ask others, “How would you approach this/each someone to approach this?”, there is no more “challenge” to the assignment. Part of the challenge is figuring it out on your own how to go about the assignment and then only asking for guidance as needed to complete it.

  18. Apollo*

    What kind of things can you say in feedback for people in positions above you?

    For context, I have to fill out up to three things to continue/stop/start for a 360 review of the Partner for my service line, who I guess is my grand-manager (they line manage my current line manager), but my position would be one of the most junior in the team and theirs the most senior (with 5 or so job titles in between). They were my direct line manager for the first six months I worked here and I’ve done a couple of pieces of work for them, but I don’t really have any opinions that I can turn into useful feedback. I would be perfectly happy if things carried on how they have been.

    1. ferrina*

      Be very diplomatic. There’s always a chance that what you write will be shared directly with the person being reviewed. It shouldn’t be, but plenty of people suck at managing the reviews and will share it anyways (or don’t anonymize it enough).

      If you don’t have any useful feedback, that’s fine. Just share what you do have- I worked with them on X, they did Y, I was happy to work with them and look forward to continuing to work with them on future projects. 360s aren’t necessarily about getting everyone’s opinions- it’s about getting perspectives and experiences, since the boss can’t be everywhere at once and doesn’t know everything that happens.

      1. ferrina*

        I read too quickly and missed that this is continue/stop/start format (not a great format).
        You can caveat your responses with a professional IDK:
        “I’m not sure what to stop- I enjoyed working with this person on X and Y. It would be nice if the client had been more reasonable, but Reviewee did a great job handling them by doing ABC.”

    2. Mulligatawny*

      My 3 coworkers and I had to do a 360 on our micromanaging awful manager (old company was bought, new company did 360s with good rules). We knew our grandboss to be a fair person and trusted to handle our feedback appropriately. This is critical so you’ll need to asses your particular situation carefully.

      We decided we would describe things in observable terms, and only things that happened to each of us personally. BTW I had been in my job for many years, always had multiple assignments with different due dates, my work was always done on time and good quality.

      So in the 360 we didn’t say “Boss micromanages” or “boss doesn’t trust us”. Instead we wrote things like “Boss gave me an assignment that was due in 2 weeks and asked me every day exactly what I had done, which people I talked to about it, what each person said, etc.” or “If I called a meeting with stakeholders of a certain assignment, but didn’t include my boss (common practice in the company) boss came to the meeting and interrupted to ask the same questions that were on my agenda before I could get the words out of my mouth”.

      It took me hours to write and rewrite the 360 so it was strictly “just the facts, ma’am. Coworkers had similar experiences, so it was easy to find examples of boss’s horribleness.

      It was worth it. Boss was duly shocked by her review with grandboss and attempted to reform. It was by no means perfect, and there was some backsliding, but it made a difference.

    3. JSPA*

      continue: setting clear expectations, assigning work in reasonable portions, having a reasonable time-frame for turnaround

      (ie this is where you think about what makes them decent to work for, and boost it)

      sending work my way more often, if & when you have it

      (ie this can be where you say you’d be happy to work with them more)

      (You can leave this blank or “N/A” unless there’s something clearly work related that needs calling out because it’s an actual impediment to the process). Or some small but important adjustment (e.g. “add a day to the time estimate for the customer, to better distinguish internal deadlines from absolute deadlines”)

  19. dryakumo*

    I’m curious what experiences folks have had with brightly colored hair in an office setting. I’m in energy engineering/construction and our office dress code is business casual leaning towards casual. I would love to do some kind of colored ombre (like my natural brown on top with the bottom blue/purple) but I’ve never seen anyone else with interesting colors. I’m going to ask my manager about it but I’d like to hear others’ experiences. I’m a woman in my mid-30s and I don’t have a ton of client contact outside of the occasional video call or site visit.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      This is something that varies so, so much by office culture so checking with your manager is the best step. It’s allowed at my office, though you can always see the CEO clenching her teeth a little when someone does it. A friend of mine just did hers even though it’s explicitly against her dress code with a “beg forgiveness but not gonna change it” mindset (not advocating that but she’s also in her 30s). If you haven’t seen others doing it a pulse check is smart.

    2. T. Wanderer*

      I currently have half-shaved & bright teal hair, and I’ve had absolutely zero trouble with it — and a lot of compliments, from both coworkers and clients! A lot of this depends on your specific workplace, and also where you are, but that you say “casual” makes me think it wouldn’t be an issue. I’m in a major metropolitan area, and work in the tech sector (but client-facing/not as casual as software dev often is).

      Some people will always find bright hair inherently unprofessional, but if you dress and act appropriately…especially in a non-client-facing role, the most I usually get is “wow! I wish I was brave enough for that!”

    3. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      It’s going to depend on your office. If you want to test the waters, you could try just doing a streak or two of bright color; if no one bats an eye, then you could try something else more in your face.

      For the record, I have bright hair colors all the time (blue, turquoise, purple, fire engine red, hot pink and ombres/variations in between), and when I first started, it actually began a bit of an office trend–several of the people above me on the org chart started coloring their hair fun colors, too!

    4. A Penguin!*

      It’s been completely acceptable in my current position as well as the prior two. I think it would have been fine at the others, but I’m not certain. Ultimately it’s going to depend on the specifics of a given office.

    5. Sally Rhubarb*

      I interviewed at my current job with teal hair. But this place is extremely low-key about your appearance, as long as it meets OSHA standards.

      So you can approach it the bold way or the cautious way. Bold way is to show up one day with brightly colored hair with the attitude that what are they gonna do, fire me because my hair is blue???

      Or you can review your employee manual and ask your boss/HR about it if there isn’t anything explicitly against it.

      FWIW, every job I’ve held has been cool with brightly colored hair (but I’ve had to get permission sometimes).

        1. Qwerty*

          It’s less about hair color and more like hair needs to be tied back so it doesn’t catch in machinery. Manufacturing settings might require full pants (not shorts) or long sleeves. I’ve had positions where I had to wear steel toed shoes and bump caps. OSHA cares about people not getting badly injured on the job.

    6. Charlotte Lucas*

      I agree that it varies by culture. In my agency, it’s NBD & can be seen as a positive, making a person feel more accessible to the populations we serve. But I wouldn’t try it if I worked somewhere that was required to promote a more polished (stodgy?) image.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        I work in a fairly conservative fields in a very conservative office, and even there, the dress code is different for people in different roles. I can’t remember what it said about hair color, but it explicitly said that in some jobs, you might have to cover all tattoos at certain times. (Everything has loosened way up since 2020, but we still only have a couple of people with unnatural hair colors.)

    7. Nope not responding*

      I currently have exactly the colored ombre you’re describing (but I have both blue and purple on the bottom!) and it’s fine with my office. My boss was super surprised the day I came in with it done, but she thought it was super cool (and we don’t have an actual dress code). However, I work in academia, and one of our former deans also had blue/purple hair, so there was precedent.

      From what I’ve experienced and heard from friends who also wanted fun hair colors, it’s very much an office by office kind of thing. What’s fine in my situation in academia might be unwelcome at another university. I’d ask your manager!

    8. Kiki Is The Most*

      Ten years ago, I did this and I started with a dark purple fringe layer under my dark brown hair. Had lots of positive comments so I kept top layer dark brown and under layer purple for years. Even interviewed for the next job with it, with no concerns (and got the job!)

    9. Angstrom*

      In my office, brightly colored hair + “normal” clothing would be fine. Brightly colored hair + statement jewelry + unusual clothing would get a “What is she trying to do?” response. Interesting hair yes, office goth no.

      I think most people now understand that you can enjoy having fun with hair color and still be professional.

      1. Dinwar*

        Depends on where you live. People in Red states can easily score political points by banning “unnatural” hair colors. Stupid, but it’s a thing. My wife experienced exactly this (and the person making the call made it fairly clear this was 100% a political move).

    10. Head sheep counter*

      I have pink to orange (think sunset) hair and have been rocking it or other colors for years. But I am in a liberal state in a company that I am not the only one and my hair isn’t even the brightest I’ve seen. I noticed that you said you’ve never seen anyone with interesting colors… which I would take to mean that you’d be… cutting new ground. Start small. Do the underside in back or peek-a-boo. See what the reactions are. Also… small gives you a better chance for you to try maintaining it and your hair to see if it does color well. I started with colored highlights (and basically my color still works that way just now its all over… makes the grow out much easier).

    11. Anon for This*

      I work in a very conservative setting, and brightly colored hair is not common here, but not unheard of. Agree with Angstrom that it depends on the overall look. I think your work performance also makes a difference. One of my high performers has bright green hair, and an overall professional look – she can get away with it. Honestly, the same look on a problem employee might earn them a ding for lack of professionalism.

    12. Generic Name*

      At a small company I worked for doing consulting for the industry you are in (and others), I dyed the bottom quarter of my hair bright purple. Many people didn’t offer a comment, but those that did routinely gushed about how they loved it. I was in my mid-30s at the time. I didn’t ask permission, I just did it.

    13. EUXconsultant*

      AA woman here that works in tech at a very large company. I have 1/2 brown and 1/2 rainbow hair and no one cares. I’ve worked closely with VPs and CIOs and it has never been an issue…in fact I have received five promotions and am now a leader. It boils own to reputation and you delivering strong results. YMMV depending on your office culture.

    14. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have waist-length red hair (think Merida from Brave) and I’ve been dyeing it wacky colors (a variety and always multiples — right now it’s teal, purple and orange) from the shoulders down since 2010. I do it that way so I can put my hair up in a bun and it’s much less noticeable, when I need to. Wacky colors were against the dress code at the places I worked from 2010 to about 2015, but nobody ever noticed because I put it up. (Though for a while our executive director knew me as “the girl with the peacock hair.” She later interviewed me for a manager promotion and approved me, so it doesn’t seem to have been a problem.)

    15. Purple Hair Don’t Care*

      I’m a federal government contractor with bright purple hair. I’d describe the agency’s current average dress as roughly smart casual. My hair was purple when I was hired. Nobody cares. I’m the only one in the office with brightly colored hair, but I’m also the only openly nonbinary person on my team. So lets just say I stopped caring about not standing out a while ago lol. That being said, its a culture thing. I’m able to get away with this because 1.) I’m a designer, so people just have a certain amount of leeway and 2.) the pandemic loosened the office dress code culture.

    16. new year, new name*

      It totally varies! My ex works in the defense/homeland security sector, currently has what I can only describe as crayola-blue hair, and is apparently about to get a fancy promotion.

    17. Not So Little My*

      I’m a software engineer in Seattle (nonbinary but perceived as femme) and having weird hair colors is never a problem. My company is also very progressive on LGBTQ+ issues and environmentalism so that will give you an idea of the culture.

    18. Art Soplo*

      I think this is something that is very office-specific even within your company. For example, I work for a school that’s known for being pretty out there in terms of fashion and design so colored hair on students is no big deal. But the dress code for employees is much more conservative and colored hair on us would be a big no-no.

  20. Data Privacy Please*

    Is it absolutely necessary to have a linkedin profile while job hunting? Yesterday I discovered this website called The Org (I’ll post a link below) which has… written a summary of my work experience? It was SUPER creepy. Is anyone familiar with it? I think it looks at linkedin profiles and uses AI to write a narrative about a person. I have been thinking about deleting my linkedin for a while due to privacy concerns, and this is just one more reason to.

      1. ThatGirl*

        So it looks like it’s trying to put together org charts of various companies? But I looked my own company up and the information is wildly out of date – the CEO they have listed left 18 months ago and it doesn’t even HAVE the newly formed company we merged with on there.

        1. new year, new name*

          I looked myself up on there and it’s amusingly wrong (they clearly tried to structure the org chart based on job titles, but that’s not how it works at my company, and it’s pretty funny who they think my boss is). It doesn’t bug me too much from a privacy perspective; there isn’t anything on my LinkedIn profile that isn’t already online in a variety of conference presenter bios, byline blurbs, etc. But definitely a good reminder about how information gets picked up and reused across the internet!

    1. Alex*

      I have landed two jobs since LinkedIn was a thing, and I’m fairly certain that during each time no one looked at my profile. I’ve never received a worthwhile inquiry or lead on LinkedIn.

      I mostly use it to look up people and be nosy for my own amusement…

    2. ecnaseener*

      Context-dependent, but no, it’s not absolutely necessary in all fields. I’m sure there are some fields where it would hurt you, but in my experience it’s optional – if I can’t find a candidate’s LinkedIn that’s not a strike against them or anything.

    3. Wonderer*

      I got my current job, 100% because I changed my linkedin profile to say I was looking for work. I got an email asking if I could do an interview, ended up getting hired, and I’ve been there more than 5 years now.

    4. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      Simple answer: Nothing is *absolutely* necessary. If you want to opt out, opt out.

      Long answer: Whether or not this has a negative impact on your search might depend on industry and the hiring manager. In my world, it would be remarkable for someone not to be on LI — there hasn’t been a single business contact in memory who didn’t have a profile, and the ones who have semi-anonymous or bare-bones profiles stand out in my mind as being out of step. And yet, I wouldn’t say that someone wouldn’t be hired because of it. It may raise a flag but I doubt it’s a true deal breaker.

    5. Kiki Is The Most*

      I think there is a ‘hide’ option for your profile? That could be an option in case it was required to submit your profile for a position.

    6. RagingADHD*

      I find that Linkedin has better job listings than some other places, so I definitely consider it an asset. I’m not sure it’s a neccessity.

      It looks like the page you linked to has to be set up by your company in order for profiles to be created. So they aren’t scraping Linkedin profiles at random.

    7. Warrant Officer Georgiana Breakspear-Goldfinch*

      Nope! I’ve gotten two jobs in the past six years, and deleted my LinkedIn about …seven, eight years ago? If someone asks why they can’t find me there (I think it’s come up once or twice), I say breezily that I was really annoyed by how many recruiters were contacting me with jobs that clearly demonstrated they had no idea what I actually do, and I’d rather not deal with it. It’s never been an issue. It may help that I have my own website so I am not mysteriously invisible on the internet, but have made a choice to stay out of other people’s walled gardens as a principle.

    8. Hiring Mgr*

      In my experience LinkedIn is very field/role dependent. In some (tech sales, recruiting) it’s absolutely crucial, in others it seems barely used.

      1. Mztery1*

        It’s awesome much more important for new grads — I teach business communication at a local University and I would say 90% of my graduating students have been approached through companies who found them on LinkedIn rather than sending out

    1. Yeah...*

      Why do you “need” a pension? Do you just “want” one?

      I’ve known people who’ve done it because they were close to retirement and needed funds for retirement. They were satisfied with their choice.

    2. Overeducated*

      I think depends on the specifics of the pension: how much it would pay out, how length of service impacts the benefit, how much you have to contribute to it, vs. how much you could afford to save in a 401k-type vehicle without the pension, and how much the employer match would be.

      I think the less you make, the more worth it a pension is, because you’re less likely to be able to invest huge amounts and take advantage of higher earnings growth in the market.

    3. pally*

      If it is a pension where the employer makes ALL the contributions to the pension fund.

      Find out the particulars: like how much $ is put into the pension fund? We were guaranteed 8% of our annual salary each year. In addition, another 0-20% of our annual salary was added in (when profits were good).

      We didn’t have to contribute a cent out of our paychecks.

      Also find out if you can pick how the funds are invested. Companies have a fiduciary duty to minimize risk, so they usually go with low-risk investments. If you are allowed to select how the funds are invested, you can opt for higher risk (with -hopefully- a better rate of return).

      1. pally*

        Oh yeah, find out when you become fully vested in receiving your pension funds. Is it worth it to you to stick around that company for at least that length of time?

      2. Charlotte Lucas*

        I contribute to my pension. But it is also fully funded. Pensions can be great, but do your research!

    4. Admin of Sys*

      Eh. I’ve got one from my previous job that will pay out when I retire, and while I deliberately chose that vs the market, it’s the standard cost / gain of risk vs flexibility. The pension is super safe (assuming the org doesn’t crater) but it’s also a small and somewhat set amount, where as my 401k / 403b / whatever has had the chance to make me a lot more than the pension did or could have dropped like a hot rock depending on the market. But most pensions are based on time in the job, so it also depends on how much you want to commit. It took 5 years for it to vest, and I left at 9+ years before the 10y jump.

    5. Texan In Exile*

      A friend’s husband is about to retire – at age 60 – with a full pension and health insurance – because of his 30 years with a state job. He is already planning all the camping trips he is going to take.

      She says that she wishes she had been smart enough to take a state job.

    6. ina*

      I would say, if you are security-minded, then it’s worth it with a stable org (don’t @ me but yes, the government). It all depends on the terms, where you are with your current retirement plan, and how long before retirement you have.

    7. Generic Name*

      If it’s a company and not a government position, I wouldn’t get a job just for a pension. If you are under 30, and are ok with working for the state or feds for 25+ years, then getting a job solely for the pension might be worth it.

  21. Faithful Reader*

    I have an interesting conundrum, but first some context: I am one of four people reporting to the same Associate VP of Operations. Three of us oversee different departments/programs within our division and all have Director titles. The fourth direct report is the Associate Director of Operations, and this person has one person reporting directly to them who runs a different program. The rest of us have a dotted line to the Associate Director on the org chart, but the AVP is for all intents and purposes, our direct supervisor.

    I just found out via a shared workspace where everyone tracks their ongoing projects that the Associate Director wrote the first drafts of all of our performance reviews and I’m feeling some kind of way about it. I could understand this person providing feedback to our boss since they do work with all of us, but it seems to me that my actual supervisor should be the one to evaluate my performance, not respond to a draft written by someone else and then present it as their evaluation of me.

    Am I off base?

    1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      From my experience with evals, yes, sort of. I get where you are coming from, but it’s rare in my experience that top level bosses take the time to write up evaluations. I’ve almost always written my own self-evaluation and then my Director basically takes what I wrote and adds/subtracts things from it — minor edits usually but sometimes not — then gives it to the VP to make edits — and then it’s all “agreed” upon and submitted to HR.

      1. Faithful Reader*

        Thanks, yes — we all write and submit our own self-evaluations, too; it’s baked into the process. Then our supervisor adds their comments, we meet to discuss the review and make sure we’re aligned, and it’s submitted to HR. (Our evaluation system also has a mechanism for folks to submit peer feedback, which is a great enhancement.)

        What happened here is — I wrote and submitted my self-evaluation, and my direct supervisor basically delegated his part to my peer. Then he looked at what my peer wrote and presented it to me as his own feedback. *That’s* what I have a problem with. What you described above is more or less how I would expect the process to go, but that’s not what happened here.

        Ironically, I would have had no issue with it had my boss just taken a moment to communicate, “Hey, I’m really overwhelmed with my workload so I’m going to delegate the drafting of the supervisor feedback to Casey, and then I’ll review it and add any additional thoughts I have.”

  22. Millie Mayhem*

    Part of my job involves managing our receptionist, who is a young woman. We host a lot of external events in our building with people who we don’t necessarily know. Our receptionist is the first person people see when they enter the building, and she does a great job of being friendly, welcoming and accommodating to anyone who she interacts with.

    We’ve had an external group at our building the past couple of days, and our receptionist let me know that one of the external facilitators, a young man, tried to follow her on Instagram last night. They have had very little interaction and haven’t even spoken directly. I may be overreacting here, but this feels inappropriate to me. If he wanted to connect professionally, I would think he would do that through LinkedIn… right?

    Our receptionist didn’t accept his follow request, and when she told me about this she kind of laughed it off. Unfortunately I think she gets this kind of unwanted attention often, but I want to do what I can to minimize this kind of thing at work. Is this something I should keep an eye on, or should I talk to someone at the external organization about this? Or do something else? I just want to make sure I’m doing everything I can so our receptionist feels safe at work.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I don’t know if I’d go so far as to contact the outside organization. I know a lot of our younger workers connect on instagram vs linkedin – and if he didn’t pester her past the one follow request and she was able to ignore it, then it’s something to have an antenna up about but I’m not sure worth a proactive response.

      However, you can be very clear with her that if anyone ever tries to contact her multiple times when she doesn’t want them to, or says something that makes her uncomfortable, or if she ever needs to remove herself from a situation, then you 100% have her back and will decide with her what action to take. Walk the line between supportive and paternalistic.

    2. CommanderBanana*

      I’d be curious about how he found her on Instagram if he hadn’t spoken to her directly, unless her IG handle is her full name, which isn’t a great idea.

      1. Millie Mayhem*

        Her first name is in her handle but not her whole name. However, it’s a fairly unique first name and her profile picture is a photo that is clearly her.

      2. Maggie*

        Instagram suggests people to follow, so if they have several followers in common, it will suggest based on that. Or it’s possible he searched for her, but that’s not really that weird to me?

        1. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

          I think proximity also helps the algorithm find people you’ve been near for a couple of days, so she was probably extra easy to find.

      3. Rainy*

        I can find people online pretty easily if I know basically any 3 things about them and know what they look like, or if the person who does know what they look like is in the room. And I’m not even good at it–my bff is way better.

        In between meetings a few months ago I found the guy my grand-boss was talking to on a dating app with his first name, a vague idea of a place he’d once lived, and what he did for a living. It wasn’t even an unusual first name. I stopped digging after I found his workplace, professional profiles, and a couple of other things, at my boss’s request, but then a colleague wanted me to do the same thing with a guy she’d been on a date with and it only took me 20 minutes to find out he’s still married and was lying about where he lives. I also found all his wife’s professional and social profiles.

        1. GythaOgden*

          This doesn’t sound like stalking. Otherwise I’d be being stalked by a gardener who lives near my mum and dad and who gives me a lift if he sees me there waiting for the bus in the morning.

    3. Maggie*

      I don’t think this alone rises to the level of needing to contact anyone. He requested, she denied. As long as he remains professional and doesn’t like try to message her a bunch of times on there or something I don’t really see a problem with it. Plenty of people follow people they know through work on IG.

    4. HonorBox*

      I think you can let her know that if something happens that makes her feel uncomfortable or just skeeved out, you’d be happy to help her.

      1. Elsewise*

        Yeah. I definitely wouldn’t contact the other organization without her permission, but just making it clear to her that you’re available if she needs someone to intervene. I used to manage call center staff, and I had a specific training on “how to hang up on people who are making you uncomfortable”, and the feedback I got was that this made everyone feel much more willing to put a stop to unwanted behavior, even if most of them never hung up on anyone. Since it sounds like it’s just her, probably a conversation would be more appropriate, but making it clear that you have her back goes a long way.

  23. Well...*

    Just here to complain.

    I mentioned starting a new faculty job here a few weeks ago & moving back to the US, and the culture shock is real. Especially stuff around gender. I’m used to being one of the only women around, but feeling it in a new/familiar & worse way at my new workplace.

    I miss my old uni :(

    1. Helewise*

      I’m sorry you’re experiencing this. :( Out of curiosity, where are you coming from? I’m curious where things are better…

      1. Well...*

        I don’t know if it’s objectively better everywhere I’ve been, but I adjusted to different norms. There’s also individual variation workplace to workplace.

        That being said, Spain is wayyyyyyyyyy better.

    2. RVA Cat*

      So sorry you’re going through this. Your culture shock is what so many in the US had as a “boiling a frog” experience. It boggles my mind how being a biligerant douchecopter has been normalized.

    3. BellyButton*

      I grew up in the US and left just after grad school. I came back 9 years ago and it was a HUGE culture shock. All the gender nonsense, I forgot how racist it is, and then you add in a certain politician getting elected and I wanted to run back to Canada as fast as I could. I ended up moving to a less conservative state and finding a job with a younger and more diverse culture, those things helped me a lot.

      I am sorry you are having a rough time. I have spoken to a lot of other Americans who left the US and when they came back they realized they no longer belonged here or just straight up didn’t like the way it is here now.

      Good luck!

  24. Glazed Donut*

    I think I’ve decided my job isn’t sustainable because of my boss’s lack of knowledge and experience. Am I expecting too much?
    Background: I have a Phd. I have more than a decade of experience in my field + my Phd directly relates to my current work. My boss has about as much experience in terms of years, but in a different (adjacent) field. Her bachelor’s isn’t related to our work. She has been in her role about a year – the same time as me, as the team was created last year. I feel like I’m constantly explaining policies and laws to her that someone in her position and at her pay scale should know, but because her background is so different, she is unaware of what she doesn’t know.
    She has a lot of room to grow in understanding how our organization works, what laws we follow (and what we can’t make up on our own because it’s NOT in the law), and in general she lacks a ton of content knowledge that I have. She recently was out on FMLA for a few months, and I took over her responsibilities. Now that she’s back, it’s clear how far apart we are in our experiences and understanding of the field. I enjoyed the break from having to teach my boss why we need to do X or why the law won’t allow us to Y, and now we’re back to those conversations. I think I’ve settled on this: she’s a nice person but she’s not someone I can learn from to grow in my field. I think I don’t respect her since I’m constantly teaching her some of the fundamentals.
    Is there a way to view this situation positively? I’m currently feeling like I’m doing a lot of her work and my own. I’ve been applying to other jobs and hope a good offer materializes soon.

    1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      Well, doing a job isn’t just about content knowledge. Being a good boss frequently requires managing people who actually know more than you about the substance of what is being done, because people-managing/admin is a different skill set. My boss could not do my job, but he trusts me to do it right. I would never look to him to teach me how to grow in my specific field, but I would look to his approach to managing others and handling interactions with people higher up in our hierarchy if I wanted a good example of that.

      Instead of focusing on what you can learn from her content-wise, what about what you can learn from her in terms of managing others, or relating to others above both of you, etc.? And if that’s not useful, then at least try to make notes of what you wish your boss knew so that you can look for that in the new roles you apply for.

    2. Tio*

      Hm, that’s interesting. My boss very specifically does not know all the laws or regulations I enforce – I have a professional license for it and he doesn’t. but he’s very aware of that and follows my suggestions with basically no pushback. Sometimes I have to explain things to him that he has to explain to higher ups, but he also is a director over several teams and I would not want his job. Iwas specifically hired as a SME and he is not; we work together though. If it were a different dynamic… I don’t know that I would enjoy it much. Is your boss meant to know as much as you do about this work?

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      I agree with the responses above. My boss has less knowledge, too. Unfortunately, he seems to believe that becoming a manager made him magically smarter, more knowledgeable, & more competent than everyone who isn’t. (Spoiler alert: It did not. I constantly have to explain the same concepts to him, because he won’t absorb information. Then have him talk to me like he is so much more experienced, etc. My grand boss routinely goes to me with questions dealing with my unique role.)

      As a manager, he is an object lesson rather than a role model, & I am currently job hunting.

      If your manager is actually learning from you, & respecting your knowledge & skills, I think this might just be a temporary problem for you.

    4. Magpie*

      Supervisors are not always meant to have the same level of knowledge as their reports. My boss has never done my specific job. She has a high level understanding of what I do but could never do it herself, at least not without a ton of training. She was promoted to manager after doing a different but related job in the same department. She’s still an amazing manager because her role is more high level planning for the department and clearing blockers. She relies on her team to know what they’re doing without her needing to understand every minute detail of how they’re doing everything. She does help with professional development by laying out what I’d need to accomplish to move up in the company and helping me find resources if needed to get further training, but she’s not personally providing any of that training. In my experience, this is how a lot of managers function. Unless your company has different requirements for manager and needs them to have deep understandings of everything their direct reports do, you might look at adjusting your expectations because you’re likely to end up with other manager relationships like this in your career.

    5. Dinwar*

      Not to sound harsh, but how much do you honestly know about her work? The rules and regs are only part of most jobs, but those are all you mention.

      For my part, I don’t know the rules and regs. No one knows all of them–it would take three lifetimes to do so! So I pay people to know them, and it’s my job to reach out to them (they work on many projects, it’s an established role and dynamic in the company I work for). Somewhat ironically, I also wear the “I know the laws” hat, in another role in the company. In that role I have zero expectation that my manager will know the laws at all–I’m happy when they know the laws exist!! They pay me to know them, and to keep everyone from violating them. My manager in those cases is supposed to negotiate with the client(s) and other stakeholders, provide the resources I need (or tell me I’m being unrealistic), and coordinate with other groups within the company.

      So yeah, this happens. A lot. And it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

      1. Glazed Donut*

        We run a new government program (in our area) that is defined by what the legislative bodies have passed. I know that all of her performance objectives this past year were taken from my measurements and a colleagues’ measurements – none that she actually accomplished (other than supporting our work, but then again – she doesn’t know our work so support means leave us alone to do it), and while she was out on FMLA, I had a pretty good idea of what work she did for me to pick up. It was not a lot.
        My role is not law-knowledge-based by any means – there’s no division of labor that would mean I should know more than my boss does.

        1. Magpie*

          Covering for someone who’s on FMLA isn’t necessarily the same as doing someone’s entire job. For FMLA coverage, most companies understand that whoever’s covering the job also has their own tasks that still need to be completed so they’ll only expect coverage for the most critical parts of the job. Longer term projects and less important tasks that don’t require immediate attention can often be pushed back a few weeks or months until the person is back from FMLA and won’t be assigned out to whoever is covering. There might be parts of the job that you’re not aware of because they’re things that don’t directly involve you and that weren’t time sensitive enough to hand over to you when she was out.

        2. Dinwar*

          “I know that all of her performance objectives this past year were taken from my measurements and a colleagues’ measurements…”

          Well…yeah, that’s how management works. It’s not my job to remediate sites, but rather to manage remediation, for example–I’m not out there sweating and augering and injecting chemicals and whatnot. But as a manager I’m still responsible for it, and it’s still on my performance review. The reason is that management is not irrelevant to success of a project. I’ve had to make a number of calls today that directly impacted the ability of people to do work, and today’s been pretty light.

          The thing is, a LOT of that work is invisible to people outside management, even if they do take over for a few days or weeks. Whether a few months is sufficient to see these depends on the line of work–it would be for mine, it wouldn’t be for my wife’s. This is why you see so many people complaining that managers never do anything, or thinking that management is easy (which leads to people not being trained to manage, because it’s easy, anyone can do it! Right up until the point where it’s NOT easy, and it takes effort…).

          Given everything you’re saying, I think it’s worth taking a step back and asking if your resentment is coloring your perception. It’s pretty clear you’re resentful of your boss–for whatever reason, good or bad. Resentment colors your perception of things in ways that are often hard to identify, and it’s worth taking the time to figure out what’s true and what’s mere distorted perception. And it could very well be that this is insurmountable, and that the best option for you is to find another place to work. A business relationship is a relationship, and resentment is like skin cancer, it VERY quickly spreads and kills.

          1. Glazed Donut*

            I think that’s fair – calling it resentment. Definitely not a positive spin but likely accurate.
            I also manage my own team, so I understand quite a bit about how management works – and because this work is new, I was the one to create many of the systems (aligned with law) for how the program operates, and I then taught those to my own team as it’s expanded. So in a lot of ways I am an expert in my team’s work while my current boss is largely removed from a lot of the grunt work that makes the program successful. Thanks for the response.

    6. Chidi has a stomach ache*

      This is actually very similar to a question I was thinking of asking on this thread today. My boss’s background is in change management; mine is in research. He doesn’t really understand what I do, but he generally takes me at my work when I give him timelines, needs, etc.

      I get the frustration, because sometimes it can be hard to get the guidance I feel like I need. Like, recently: we have a ton of data collected that I’m working to analyze. But it’s generative research — so it’s exploratory. I don’t know what my division is most interested in seeing of my analysis, and it was hard to get my boss to help me narrow it down or to understand why I needed help narrowing the research questions.

      But as I better understand his responsibilities, I realize he’s doing a lot of personality management with other directors, in order to pave the way for me to collaborate with other ICs in our division. So I get why he’s in that role (and it gives me a sense of what advancement in this org might require of me).

      It seems like in your case, your boss isn’t taking your expertise at face value, and potentially wasting time needing explanations on what can or can’t be done? Bracket her lack of content knowledge and think about what the relationship would need to be for you to feel empowered to do your work. Can you problem solve to get to that?

      1. Glazed Donut*

        Yes yes to your last point – I feel like any time I try to explain a policy or why we can/can’t do something, we have to go around and around with at least 3 meetings…and she 99.999% ends up agreeing with my initial viewpoint. I recognize that I could explain things better to avoid so many meetings and pain points – but I also, I suppose, have a desire that she would be better able to meet me where I was instead of starting at square 1 each time.
        There’s also a lot of micromanaging going on – which I realize I didn’t include in my initial question. We will both receive an email from someone else in the company, it’s a question based on my expertise, and she will want to “collaborate” on my response before I send it. Sometimes she will want me to write the response so SHE can send it without any edits.
        She is VERY good at asking about my feelings – and I am getting to the point where I just want to get the work done without other hoops. Maybe that is unrealistic. I think it’s a personality clash along with not feeling like my expertise or background is appreciated – perhaps because she was able to get to her position without the expertise, so she discounts the use of it.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          This sounds more like an issue with management style than an issue with her content knowledge. As others have said, you will often have bosses with a different knowledge set than you have, and that’s often intentional.

          One advantage you have here is that there’s a pattern. So if she’s asking about your feelings, be a little honest. “I’m actually feeling pretty frustrated by some of our processes. It seems like when I answer questions about x, we spend a lot of time validating that answer and at the end we end up doing what I suggested in the first place. It would do a lot to empower me in my role if you could respect me as a content expert on x.”

          Or if you’d depersonalize it a bit “I feel like there are a lot of unnecessary hoops to jump through on many aspects of our process and it’s frustrating. Could we sit down together and look at some places to improve efficiency?”

          Ultimately if you’re clashing and unhappy, you certainly don’t have to stay. But I’d try to address it directly first.

          1. Hillary*

            I agree on addressing it directly. It also sounds like Glazed Donut and their manager would benefit from a nuts and bolts conversation about defining both their roles & responsibilities. Revisiting that a year in makes sense regardless.

          2. Snoozing not schmoozing*

            It also sounds like there is some level of degree snobbery that’s coloring the OP’s view of the manager.

            1. Glazed Donut*

              Perhaps! If I have three degrees in economics and my manager has a degree in journalism, there’s likely bound to be some tension there in how we approach tasks, given we are nearly the same age and with the same number of years of experience. Thanks for the thought.

    7. Anonymous Koala*

      I was a similar situation last year – my org hired a new boss with plenty of management experience but no experience in our field. I ended up leaving and I’m much happier now with a boss who facilitates my growth in a way my last manager just couldn’t – because he didn’t have the knowledge to do so, not because he wasn’t a capable manager.

      I think what everyone is saying re: knowing the rules and regulations not necessarily being your manager’s job makes sense. But it also sounds like you’re pretty frustrated with her, and IME that’s worth looking at. If you feel like you can’t grow in your current situation, maybe it’s worth looking at options for internal transfers or positions in other orgs.

      1. Glazed Donut*

        Thank you for this perspective and sharing your experience.
        While she is supportive, I do not think her background or mindset aligns with where I would like to grow and learn. I guess it boils down to this: I don’t think I can learn a lot from her in this role. I’m sure some others would say I could learn about project management or soft skills or leadership, but I don’t see her strengths in those areas either.

    8. Janeric*

      I mean, sometimes managing is more than content management, but that is a LOT of micromanaging for someone who is ten years into a career. It’s a lot for someone who’s three years into a career.

      A lot of people are saying that maybe there’s a lot of behind the scenes stuff you aren’t seeing, but if “a few months” means “more than one and a half months, full time, she didn’t do any part time work” — I’m going to assume you got some idea of what her day to day work entailed. It’s unlikely that she could manage her workload so well that it’s diverted for more than a month.

      1. Glazed Donut*

        Yes, she was out for 4 months. The part of her job I didn’t do, that she came back and immediately started doing, was the “let’s plan for this thing 3 months from now that we may or may not need” (I consider this busy work). She does this a lot and more often than not that work is never, ever used.
        Thank you for validating the micromanagement. It is…a lot.

  25. Confused Healthcare Employee*

    I work for a big healthcare system as an in-house temp. Because I am a temp and move between assignments and locations I don’t have that much knowledge/access to site-specific HR offices, which I am aware exist in (some?) of our hospitals. My orientation (which happened at the height of the pandemic and was truncated) encouraged accessing HR through an online portal where you send tickets.

    I recently sent a ticket to HR and got a confusing answer back that just raised more questions. The ticket was closed so I can’t respond to it as a follow-up. I don’t really know what the correct procedure for following up for clarification is, because all the other companies I’ve worked for in the past were small so it was much easier to speak to specific HR personnel face-to-face or through email.

    Should I just send another ticket, or try to figure out if there’s a way to contact someone via phone/email/in person meeting? I’d especially appreciate hearing from other people that work for large, spread-out companies like this that use online HR ticket portals.

    1. Betty*

      Haven’t dealt with HR tickets before, but most customer service and IT ticket systems I have dealt with have a way to reopen a ticket if you don’t think it’s resolved. Is there any kind of option for that in your system (fine print with a link, or something)?

    2. procrastinatingrightnow*

      If you need to open a new ticket be sure to say there was a prior one (with the number if possible) to avoid duplication of work.

    3. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      Can you open a new ticket and start with – This question was originally raised in ticket #123. I have a follow-up question/need further clarification/whatever. Ask for what you need.

      1. JSPA*

        this. I tend to throw myself on their mercy (after first asking google)

        New ticket:

        looking for clarification on whether “framboozling the jimjam” is

        a) an automatic process or
        b) something I have to initiate

        also is it

        c) something that affects my accrual of frizzle
        d) no effect on frizzle, but cancels frazzle
        e) something else entirely?

        I put in a previous request (#A23B69) asking “can you explain how framboozling the jimjam works here” and received the answer, “don’t worry, we’ve got you,” plus a link to the same PDF I received in my orientation files. I am therefore rephrasing the details of my confusion, in the hopes you can shed light on these terms and processes that are completely unfamiliar to me.


        p.s. The internet is unhelful, as apparently the meaning of these terms differ widely from company to company. Thanks again.

    4. E*

      Can you try to find a human? Someone who knows someone? This worked when I was at a huge govt agency

  26. Greta Earwig*

    People who’ve had in-person job interviews in corporate America recently: what did you wear, and would you wear it again?

    I have two such interviews lined up for September and am curious whether/how the pandemic has changed the interview wardrobe. I am ~30 and female so all the standard concerns for my demographic apply (e.g. skirt vs trousers), unless they don’t anymore! I can’t tell.

    1. Joanne*

      Oh man, I had an in-person interview recently after working from home in my PJs for the past 3 years. I dusted off the old suits, found that they didn’t quite fit (no big surprise) but wasn’t going to buy anything new because if I didn’t get the job I’d just be back to my PJs. None of my skirts fit at all. So I wore dress pants and a decent top, and had my jacket on just to walk in the door (it was a bit snug and I couldn’t have buttoned it up, so I took it off as soon as I walked in). Wouldn’t it be amazing if we all agreed to just wear jeans forever? I’m afraid though that if I go back to an in-office job that I’ll feel it necessary to dress like it’s 2020 (pre-Covid) again.

    2. Watry*

      I’m gov rather than corporate, but earlier this year I wore black slacks, a nice blouse, and a dressy cardigan, with dress sandals, and got the job. I’d definitely wear it again, as I look ridiculous in a suit. For the second round I wore the same pants and sandals with a different top and a suit jacket, but I wouldn’t wear that again because I look ridiculous in a suit, it was just short notice and I couldn’t find anything else.

    3. RagingADHD*

      I had to get a new businessy wardrobe due to doing remote work for about 8 years. It’s a capsule based on navy blue and cream. So for one, I wore navy blue slacks with a colorblocked silk top and a cream blazer. To another, navy-and-cream print dress with navy jacket and red accessories. I mixed it up with a couple of different tops.

      I was slightly overdressed at most places that trend business casual (which I don’t consider a problem), and a bit underdressed at one that turned out to be unexpectedly snooty.

    4. Nea*

      I stopped owning an interview suit well before the pandemic in favor of a black dress with either a very nice cardigan or a jacket over it. Any plain color should do, as long as it has a neckline that doesn’t plunge and a hem anywhere from just above knee to mid-shin.

      Rumor is Eshakti has exceptionally long wait times now; still worth it as you can have the dress tailored exactly to you, it has pockets, and most of them are washable. If you need a dress quickly, I recommend the Svaha onyx Rosalind or Jane dresses (depending on which is more flattering) as they also come with pockets and are washable. Also, they go up to 5x.

      The fit-and-flare Rachel dress also comes in green (chlorophyll), royal blue, and purple (ultraviolet)

    5. Policy Wonk*

      I was the interviewer, not the candidate, but in my recent experience most of the women candidates wore pantsuits or dresses. As we are in summer one can never be sure of air conditioning so even those wearing dresses had jackets on or with them (good thing in one case because the conference room was freezing.) Government tends to be conservative, so depending on industry YMMV.

      1. Greta Earwig*

        Oh, this is actually a very useful perspective, and if you don’t mind I have follow-up questions:
        1) Do you remember the pantsuit-to-dress ratio among women?
        2) So no one wore a skirt? (Have sheath-dress-plus-matching-jacket looks replaced skirt suits?)
        3) What generally was the situation in terms of color? Was everyone wearing trad black/charcoal/navy getups? Or was there a smattering of cream/jewel tones/etc, either in terms of tops or full outfits? (And if so, did that elicit an “oh, that looks nice?”)
        4) Most important – were the women wearing heels? I would absolutely prefer to wear flats if I can get away with it.

        1. Chirpy*

          Following, because I cannot wear heels (foot issues) but don’t want to get “dinged” for being “unprofessional” (when I previously worked in an office I wore “sporty janes” or similar comfortable but cute flat shoes, but that place was not a great example of office norms).

        2. Nea*

          FWIW, I haven’t worn heels in 30 years. There are lots of perfectly acceptable professional-looking flats.

        3. Synaptically Unique*

          Rothy’s are pretty popular among my colleagues. Flats, pretty basic, go with everything. I find myself going for them often, even though they are not the most comfortable shoes I own. They are cute and comfortable enough. They’re also washable. A black skirt or sheathe dress, fitted or swing jacket (I mostly wear shorter 3/4-sleeve swing jackets in summer, fitted blazers in the winter), flats and bare legs are perfectly appropriate in most settings.

    6. NaoNao*

      Just about this time last year I wore a pair of straight leg, partly-elastic waist (hidden in back) flat front full length navy trousers + kitten heel pumps + a matching vest and blazer set (with the vest as the top, basically). The vest is high-cut and covers as much as a blouse would, and the set together looks very sharp. The set is a gray plaid with a very subtle metallic thread in it and the blazer + vest have a slight crinkle effect that comes from metal being woven in the fabric. I did get the job :)

      To me though that’s a slightly off the beaten path outfit. I wanted the org to clearly understand I was a creative, I was not a typical corporate “type”, and I didn’t want to work for a place that wanted/needed very lockstep or conventional people. Sadly, that job didn’t work out, but I’ve worn similar outfits to interviews for similar reasons–it’s a suit/blazer/suiting but not stuffy or conventional.

    7. Generic Name*

      I struggled over this during my recent job search. One in-person interview I wore black slacks and a blouse. It was a hot day, and I brought a cardigan, but didn’t put it on, as the office was quite warm. Another in-person interview, I wore the same black slacks, a black suit jacket, and a shell. The first company was an engineering consulting firm, and the other was an engineering division of a large construction company. I got the job at the construction company, however, I probably could have worn almost anything to that interview, because the hiring manager created a job just for me, and the interviews were more them selling the company to me. :)

    8. K8T*

      31F in a semi-conservative field. In my last interview I wore black ankle pants (I basically live in the Old Navy Pixie Pants), flats, and a nicer cardigan. I throw on some subtle jewelry and am good to go. This seem to straddle the line between offices that are more casual and ones that are full business dress.

      I’ll also 2nd a vote for Rothy’s I saw on this thread – a little $$ but washable/long lasting and for better or worse – recognizable as a “nicer” shoe for people familiar with the brand.

  27. Chirpy*

    How do I find energy to job search? I work a very physical job (retail, with a lot of heavy lifting, also I’m currently alone in a department that should have 4 people because we’re understaffed and several people are out) and I’m clearly at the point of exhaustion. Taking time off is not an option (financially), and I barely get days off so I’m crashing when I do.

    On top of this, I don’t know where to start looking, because LinkedIn only suggests more retail/ sales jobs because of my last 10 years of work, and I’d really like to work in something I actually studied…but both things I’m qualified for are niche fields that have very few openings (as in, the one I have some work experience in has less than 10 jobs in the whole state, and the other is the sort of thing that is mostly government jobs that conservatives love to cut.) Plus most of my LinkedIn contacts are friends who are in a totally different field that I am neither qualified for or interested in. (My best potential work reference is dead, honestly, and I don’t have any good professional references. Just one previous manager who doesn’t do online anything and I’d have to track him down since he moved out of state. )

    I just feel so stuck and don’t know how to find a rope to get out of this hole.

    1. NaoNao*

      I got out of retail through the call center world. It’s not ideal, but it’s one of the few remaining ways from service or labor jobs into the white collar world. The performance bar is pretty low in some places, so showing up on time, doing a good job, being reliable, etc. could lead to promotions or more fun assignments. That’s how I maneuvered-I started off the cuff/casually training coworkers and making cheat sheets, and then parlayed that into a training job overseas in a call center, then moved into a full on white collar “desk job”.

        1. Watry*

          They don’t have to be sales, or even outbound! I also got out of retail through a call center, a very very small security alarm monitoring center. I won’t say there wasn’t the occasional nightmare caller, but most people were fine with hearing from us. My best friend works for a call center where people are expecting to hear from their service, and that goes fine as well.

          I trained new hires there and at my retail job, and took that and the experience with information privacy and got an entry-level government job.

    2. Sloanicota*

      Do you have any friends with interesting-seeming jobs? It is amazing to me how many people end up in jobs because their friends recommend them. Sometimes even really weak ties, like someone you go to church with, someone you chat with briefly at a meetup, or someone who knows someone you dated (!) can end up being the leads you need, especially if you’re sort of up for anything right now.

      1. Chirpy*

        My friends with interesting jobs are all things like theater…which I would be interested in, except I already know how few of those jobs exist even for people with degrees in theater (which I don’t) !

        The nature of retail scheduling (combined with a few other things) means I don’t have a church, I don’t date, and I only have one fun thing I can do a week. The people I know there have jobs I’m not qualified for.

    3. DrSalty*

      I found Indeed to be a much better place to job search than LinkedIn, in terms of internet listings for openings. Good luck!

    4. Confused Healthcare Employee*

      You might look into entry-level patient-facing administrative healthcare jobs like front desk receptionist or unit secretary. I work in healthcare and a lot of our entry-level admin people are ex-retail and ex-food service employees because the managers hiring them value customer service experience. Look for jobs on the websites of your local hospitals. You can potentially get your foot in the door through temping.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Temping would be great if Chirps can stomach a few gaps in their weekly paycheque. I did it to get back in to the working world after a period on disability, but it did mean a month or two of choppy work while I proved myself to various agencies and got some experience on my CV. I happen to be pretty good on picking up new jargon easily, so I was a good audio-typist in offices such as a loss adjuster and a medical clinic, and a private medical experience landed me in the NHS itself. It did take me from December to February to get something longer term and that was a stroke of absolute luck. At least in the UK, I see a lot of temp to perm positions — people are a little cagey at the moment about permanent hiring because it’s not that easy to lay people off when hired as permanent staff. So it might be that you can swing from assignment to assignment quite easily.

        It might be something that helps Chirpy get a leg up into white)pink collar work, and short term hardship may lead to longer term fulfilment. But I’m not in Chirpy’s position so I don’t know how well her finances can hold up under that kind of stress.

    5. Policy Wonk*

      I always suggest government because the number of issues covered is huge – from agriculture to diplomacy to energy and onward. Check out USAJobs and create a profile. I caution that the process can take a very long time.

      Maybe look for something that builds on your retail skills, but is a move in the right direction, such as reception or intake in a medical or insurance office.

      Finding the energy to switch is a real challenge. All I can suggest there is baby steps. I will look at USAJobs/Indeed/Linked In (pick your site) for a half-hour one day this week. Follow it up with two days next week, rinse repeat. Build up your skills like exercising a muscle. Good luck!

      1. Chirpy*

        I have a Natural Resources degree, the problem is, the DNR only seems to hire part time summer people or 10 years of experience…which I don’t have because they weren’t hiring full-time people 10 years ago either…

        1. SophieChotek*

          Do local city/gov parks and rec have jobs? I assumed you looked, but I feel like where I live I have seen FT jobs in that niche.

          I agree with others about call-center jobs (if you can take calling people; they don’t all have to be people screaming at you all day). like mentioned – more niche?

          Good luck. I was able to switch from FT retail/ food service which was grueling and I made less than $20k a year (also had a useless humanities degree); I did have to slog through sales in corporate retail for a while, but it set me up for my next job.

    6. Some Dude*

      I work in a field that is hard to get into, and several staffers started as temps/contractors. That might be a route to take.

    7. Wino Who Says Ni*

      Look at your vendors. Not only are you probably familiar with their companies and/or products, there might be people that can speak to your work and swerve add references. They also may be more sympathetic to scheduling demands when interviewing and might work around that.

  28. Overeducated*

    So – here’s a bit of an internal politics question. Interested in your thoughts.

    I’m in an organization that, like many others, is reducing telework for office-based workers. In two weeks my time in office has to increase by 150%. Unfortunately, I also have a crushingly long commute and responsibilities that make it harder for me to get home late on some weeknights when I don’t have other coverage on the home front. There is a smaller site 10-15 minutes from my house that’s actually one of the large group of sites my job supports, so I work with the people there regularly, but only as maybe 5-10% of my job. I’ve heard through the grapevine they have capacity in terms of workspace.

    Here’s the question. I’d like to ask if I could work some of my in-office days there, but I’ve also heard from my management that they feel we need to put on a show of being “back in the main office” this fall, and maybe they can relax flexibility a little when we’ve been visibly present for a while and there’s less scrutiny at some unknown point in the future. Do I ask now, and risk a straight up rejection because it’s time for face time in MY office, no other office? Or do I not ask, and risk that flexibility never coming, or some formal policy coming out and restricting alternate worksites forever before I can slide in? The latter is what happened with remote work, and I feel the restrictions are going to get worse before they get better. Advice welcome!

    1. Chauncy Gardener*

      I don’t think you have anything to lose by asking if some of your “work from office” time can be in the other location. You have a great business reason to work there and that’s the only thing I would say when asking. Just “hey, I’m doing so much to support these folks, it would make so much sense for me to physically with them.”

    2. rainyday*

      well, risking a “straight-up rejection” isn’t really risking anything, if they say no you are in the same position as you are now. Nothing to lose by asking, surely?

      1. Roland*

        Yeah, if you get a sense that in a few months it’s the time when there might be a little more flexibility you can ask again. “Now that we have more flexibility, I was wondering if it would be okay for me to start working from site X?”

    3. Pizza Rat*

      Ask, but expect a no.

      The cynical side of me says they have no intention of opening up to more flexibility about it later. I’ve heard tales of it going in the opposite direction and they might push for you being back 5 days a week.

  29. Juicebox Hero*

    Inspired by the second question in todays article, about having to roll with problems/glitches:

    When was a time you had to cope with the totally unexpected at your job?

    I used to work in the children’s department of a store. One day a woman came in and said she needed clothes for a MONKEY. I’m sure I had a WTF look because she explained that it was being trained as a helper animal for a disabled person.

    Fortunately, monkeys and human infants both have long torsos and short limbs, and she knew the monkey’s weight, so I was able to help her find some infant-sized clothing that hopefully fit it.

    She never came back, so I never knew if the clothing actually fit, and how things worked out for the person and their helper monkey. That was probably 20 years ago and I still wonder.

    1. Panicked*

      I’m an HR department of one, so I get all the interesting situations. I think the most unique one was a request for accommodation from a new employee who insisted that we put a bed in her office so she could lie down and work. She had back pain and insisted that the only way we could accommodate was a twin sized bed. She worked in a cube! She refused any WFH, standing desk, new chair, extra breaks, etc… It was a bed or nothing. She didn’t stay long.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Yeah…my back was in a bad situation because I do that while at home. I had to buy a beanbag chair for my room because I was getting sore just propping myself up on my pillows.

        That said, we got new chairs a few years ago ourselves and the difference is amazing. I’d ask for a recliner — like a barcalounger or whatever you get over here — if I thought I would get it. I’ve just got myself a chair with a USB powered back massager and I’m desperate for someone to give me a hand putting it up because I want to get going on that sweet, sweet massage. (I tried one of those coin-op massage chairs while I was in America earlier in the year and I’d love one of those for the living room.)

        So yeah, totally inappropriate but I definitely sympathise!

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      Quite a few in my time as an events person:
      – Setup for a fundraising walk event where the big truck with all the event gear got stuck in a big patch of mud. After several hours of watching people try to free it, they concluded that they should just call for a tow, which was successful. (I wasn’t coordinating that event – if I had been, the tow truck would have been called a lot sooner!)

      – another fundraising walk event, bouncy castle deflated with people still in it. Lots of screaming, but fortunately no injuries. I hate bouncy castles with a passion.

      – yet another fundraising walk event, bored teenage volunteers decided to tie each others’ hands together using zip ties and I had to cut them free.

      1. Generic Name*

        These are all hilarious. The third one….I hope you kept their hands tied long enough for them to decide to never do that again. lol

    3. Be Gneiss*

      I once worked for a non-profit. We agreed to accept very substantial donation from a wonderful donor who was the my-money-is-buried-in-coffee-cans” type. He showed up at our office with – as the song goes – “a briefcase full of money and a pistol in his boot.”
      The money was gold coins. Which had to be sent to our bank’s main branch in another state. The only way to ship gold coins is USPS…but you can only put up to a certain value in a package, and the value of the coins fluctuates with the price of gold. And the packages have to be sealed with a special tape from the post office.
      5 of us packed into a vehicle. We had a police escort who stayed with us in our tiny, sweltering, small-town post office while we packed MANY boxes of coins, desperate to finish before the post office closed. I can laugh about it now, but I still break into a sweat when I smell that post-0ffice-smell.

      1. GythaOgden*

        More prosaic, but linked — someone wanted a mass mailing of forty letters sent out recorded delivery, which means each address has to be entered into a book by hand so that the tracking number can be linked back to an individual item of post. It was a few days before Christmas and so there was a big push for everyone to get everything posted before they left for the bank holidays.

        We had the letters by 3 but the post went at 3.40, so I was sat there and had just finished by the allotted time. When I put the final address into the book, the lady who was sending all these letters out came down into the post room with another pile. She understood right away that they would have to be sent the following day, and we were a bit upset about her complete lack of understanding about just how much work her demands needed from us.

        There are plenty of other examples of people being completely out of touch with just what services we can and can’t provide to them and the timeframes we can offer, but this was the funniest. Please, people, learn your systems. Respect the admin and facilities staff. You need us to be able to do your jobs and being that kind of oblivious towards us doesn’t get you very far.

    4. Ama*

      This was definitely the most random situation I’ve ever had to handle at work:
      Years ago, I was the office manager for a grad school that had its own building pretty far off the main campus of the university in which it was based, and as part of this I handled answering the main phone line.

      One day the phone rang and a voice said “uh yeah, we’re the construction crew on your roof and the access door has locked from the outside, can someone come let us in?”

      I was a little confused because as far as I knew we didn’t have a construction crew in the building — but earlier that week there had been someone on the roof fixing the a/c so I thought maybe they’d had to come back and no one told me. So I ran up to our top floor…there was no one there and clearly no one had been up there recently.

      A few minutes later, the guy calls back. “Uh, we’re still here on the roof?”

      I told him I’d gone up and looked and there was no one on our roof so I’m not sure if he had the right building.”

      “We’re on the [university] building at [street on which my grad school was located],” he said. “This is the number the university operator gave me for the building.”

      Now I was really confused because as far as I knew we were the only university building on our street. I explained this to the guy and he got frustrated but he also didn’t know for sure what the actual number of the building was. He hung up to see if he had it on his phone somewhere.

      In the meantime I was explaining to a coworker what was happening, and she reminded me that there was a new building for the medical system connected to our university going up about half a mile down our street. Which meant either the operator hadn’t looked at the hospital listings because the caller kept saying it was a university building and not that it was a medical building, OR that it wasn’t on the directory yet because the building wasn’t fully open.

      When the guy finally called for a third time, having failed to find the building address, I explained he should call the operator back and specify that he was at the medical building on that street and hopefully they’d be able to fix it. He was pretty frustrated (I think he was hoping I would call the building myself but I didn’t have the number available because it definitely wasn’t on the public staff directory yet). But I assume because he didn’t call back a fourth time that someone finally got him off the roof.

    5. Hotdog not dog*

      I work in financial services. On the very first day of my very first management role, we had a surprise audit. I didn’t even know where the files were kept, let alone whether everything was compliant. I was just very honest and told the audit team, “we’ll just have a look, and you can help me start off on the right path.” The bad news- files were not in good order. The good news- everything that was written up in that first audit was corrected quickly. When they came back for the follow up visit, we passed with flying colors.

    6. Admin of Sys*

      The time the ceiling caved in from a water leak overtop of our financial department resulted in some pretty quick reactions, but I’m not sure that’s quite in the spirit of the question. However, that was the job that involved my interviewer asking if I wanted to help troubleshoot a problem in their warehouse that someone had interrupted the interview with. (Having gotten the job, I’m pretty sure that was not staged) So I kind of had the feeling it was kind of chaotic going into it.

    7. Irish Teacher*

      I teach teenage boys so I see plenty of unexpected. Actually, the examples that come to mind immediately are animal related, such as the time a student came in with a dying bird in his hands or one my principal had to deal with rather than me, a student coming back to school after lunch on a horse! Apparently, one of his classmates didn’t believe him when he told them he had a horse so, being thirteen, he decided the way to prove it was to ride the horse back to school after lunch!

    8. KittyGhost*

      I got a ton at my last job (call center) but my favorite was getting a call from a very confused beer delivery driver. We did not sell beer (or anything adjacent). But somehow our phone number was listed when you googled the beer company’s contact information instead of, you know, the actual beer company. He was trying to find someone who could let him into a locked warehouse so he could unload the truck and complete the rest of his day. I was able to make solving that someone else’s problem (the beer company was a client who used our services) but that was an amusing call to get.

    9. Nightengale*

      Every day. . .I work with children with developmental disabilities. They are forever a source of novelty.

      I’m autistic myself and hate change. I can handle the unexpected from my patients – throwing toys or stripping clothing is pretty much a “Tuesday” but cancel a scheduled meeting (even a meeting I hate) or have the computer network go down and my whole day is thrown off.

  30. The Lazy Fisherman*

    I have a second interview in a little over an hour, and I just found out the salary range is $10/hr less than the minimum I gave them. The initial interview was an HR phone screen and they did not say anything when I told them my requirements. I guess my quesstion is do I straight up tell them before we all waste our time that the salary isn’t acceptable to me, or wait and see if things move forward and negotiate from there? Thanks for any and all help.

    1. T. Wanderer*

      Neither! Depending on where you got the information, you don’t know enough for sure yet. So ask: I would say “Before we begin this interview, I learned the salary range for this position is $X/hr. For me to consider the position, I would be looking for an absolute minimum at least $10/hr more than that. Is that something you’d be able to match?”

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I could see kicking things off with a polite, “before we jump in, I wanted to ask a question about the salary range. When I spoke with the recruiting team last time, I indicated my salary expectations were $X, but I’ve just learned your range is $X-10. Is there any wiggle room on your end?” and if they say no, then you can say “Thanks for your candor. I don’t think it makes sense to proceed with this interview in that case, but I wish you the best of luck.”

      So make it more of a conversation than a demand and see where it goes. Good luck!

      1. The Lazy Fisherman*

        Thank you both for your quick replies. This is the tact I’ll be sure to take. There’s no point in wasting all of our time if we don’t need to. I really appreciate the help.

  31. NaoNao*

    I’m 4 months into a job I really like. Great boss, WFH, work is fulfilling, etc. Well…my boss has warned me that at some undetermined date in the future it’s likely I’ll be moved to a different team (essentially to consolidate all the X function under 1 person). While I’m not 100% sure this would create conditions that would make me want to quit, I’m 80% sure, let’s put it like that.

    My resume is already pretty rough due to two <1 year stints in "bad match" jobs so I really can't afford to leave this job unless it's no choice or unbearable (which it may well wind up being, sadly)

    I guess I'm just looking for ways to put this out of my mind/stop stressing and/or make it through the rest of a year if this re-org happens. There's always a chance it may not come to be, or if it does, my worrying is overblown, but any help here is welcome. :)

    1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      With things like that which are completely out of my control and also have no time frame, I remind myself “That’s Future Jaunty Banana Hat’s problem, if it even happens. Current Jaunty Banana Hat is just going to keep on trucking until there’s at least a date to focus on.”

      It’s not easy, but until you have something like a date or other confirmation that it’s happening, you just try to keep enjoying what you do like about the current situation. If it is a helpful thing, you can also try doing some light job hunting, or start setting aside a back up/emergency savings fund so you feel like you have more wiggle room if you need to nope out of there if/when the hammer falls.

    2. Sloanicota*

      Some people might be able to put it out of their minds, but it sounds like that’s not the approach for you. Could you ask your boss a few follow up questions like how long it might be, what the signs are that the time is now, and if there might be any alternatives they could consider? If you don’t want to do this change, it might be worth finding a way to politely bring that up, as presumably your boss might approach things differently if they knew you’d quit over it (but don’t say that, of course). Perhaps there’s another role within the org you could jump to if this unwanted change was on the near horizon? Job changes within an org generally don’t count against you in the same way for job-hoppy-ness.

    3. ferrina*

      Big hugs! This really sucks.

      Why don’t you start a low-key job search? Yes, the series of short stints will make it harder for you to find a job, but that’s more reason to start early. Maybe wait until you hit the 6 month mark, then apply to 2-5 jobs per week. Don’t spend a lot of time applying to lots of jobs- invest more time in recharging and preserving your mental health and doing things you love. But keep putting resumes out there. If a company is interested, be really critical. Don’t be eager to jump ship- make sure it’s a really good fit, not “this could work!” (that’s how most of us get into the “bad fit” situation in the first place).
      Weirdly, time is on your side- the longer your job search goes on, the more you’ve got to counteract the short stint!

      1. ferrina*

        Oh, and give space to not hate this move. At 4 months into a job, you likely don’t know all the political factors at play. The politics makes a big difference. And sometimes just caring less makes a difference- “okay, this is a bonkers situation. cool. I’m going to stay over here and watch this circus from the stands.”
        If you job search, don’t let your job search energy steal from your current job energy. That’s a surefire way to hate your current job.

    4. feline outerwear catalog*

      Sorry to hear that, I’m in a similar but slightly different boat. I was fired, then laid off from a short stint job and have been at my new job for 4 months. I just found out my boss is leaving. My grandboss is good, so I’m ok on the short term and really hoping we don’t get an awful new boss.

      Sending solidarity. Right now, I’m telling myself “at least I’m still employed.”

      1. NaoNao*

        Ugh, same–fired, then mutual “this isn’t a good fit” leaving after just over 6 months, now 4 months into a good-fit job, just let it be stable for a bit, yeesh!! Solidarity to you :)

      2. New Boss Blues*

        Similar here – left a job under weird circumstances, freelanced for a while, got a job that seemed like it was going okay, and now a new boss is coming in and I’m high-key anxious about it. I liked my first boss, made it work with my second boss, but it’s hard to be optimistic about #3. I give it 50% odds that I’m back to job searching in the next month.

    5. Some Dude*

      I do this all the time.

      The future is unknown. Live in the present. The good news is, you need this job, you have this job, the re-org will happen in the future, could be awesome, and even if it isn’t awesome, you’ll likely have been there long enough to not have three <1 year stints AND you have a great reason – there was a re-org and i loved my old boss (and reference) but the new role wasn't as good a fit for my skills or interests.

      But it could also be awesome, or not that bad. so there's that. And change is the only constant.

    6. E*

      Agree w the advice here so far. I hope it won’t come to that, but as a hiring manager, a few short stints aren’t a deal breaker to me as long as the person has a good explanation. And if you leave soon enough maybe you don’t even list the latest one on your resume.

      1. feline outerwear catalog*

        I thought about leaving them off, but then I have bigger gaps with unemployment inbetween.
        2 months unemployment
        4-5 months short term job (5 if I fudge it and count my “official last day” vs the day I was laid off
        4 months unemployment
        If I leave that all off now I have almost a year gap…

  32. Consultant llama-herder*

    Two things if you please, to help me transition from job-huntee to job-successful-hunter.

    1. If I was a consultant (seasonal/temp contract), is it better to list my job as “Education Consultant (Job Title)” or “Job Title” alone?

    2. A very long story (which may end up as a question here one day) short: my last manager was previously very supportive (reviewed my resume, sent job ads) but after shit happened and I stopped working, ghosted me for months. I no longer have any trust in her, but she’s been the managerial reference I’ve been using to job hunt. My previous manager never replied to my email asking if he’d be willing to be a reference, and I don’t know if I should still use my last manager because I’m not sure a) if she’d even answer! b) if she could contradict my employment dates. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!

    1. ferrina*

      1. Job Title alone. If Job Title is unhelpful, then Job Title (Education Consultant). But it can get dicey if a reference checker thinks Education Consultant is part of your title and goes to check it against the company.

      2. What about colleagues? Managers are great, but plenty of us don’t have managers that we trust to give a good reference (I may have not-quite-blackmailed my last manager into giving a good reference). Get 2-3 colleagues who can speak to your work. Reach out to both of your managers one more time- if they respond, great! List them alongside your 2-3 colleagues. Leave their non-responsiveness to be the reference checkers problem (reference checkers deal with this all the time).

      1. Consultant llama-herder*

        Thank you!
        1) I don’t know that checking against the company (a government entity) will give them anything, props to anyone who’d manage to find an org chart with us listed on it but it’s a good point.

        2) I do have 2 lovely and willing coworkers I’ve been using (listed on my resume, even), but you’re right, one more outreach wouldn’t hurt! Didn’t know reference-checkers had this problem but, it makes total sense (sadly).

    2. Hillary*

      For 1, I do Title (contract) It cues why they were relatively short stays, shows that someone else will verify employment, and makes my accomplishments look even more impressive.

      On 2, pretend it never happened and ask. If we assume positive intent, she’s embarrassed she ghosted you and now doesn’t feel like she can reach out. The worst that happens is she doesn’t answer.

      1. Consultant llama-herder*

        Oh that’s a great idea! Though all but 2 of my jobs (2 year contracts) would be that… would that be a plus, minus, or neutral “huh” effect?

        Ah, you’re right, I’ve been so… in my anger/hurt that I didn’t consider she might be embarrassed (that would track personality wise though). I shall email her again and see what happens, thank you!

        1. Hillary*

          It’s somewhere between plus and neutral – two years isn’t really that long. In a few industries moving companies every two years would be job hopping, in many others it would be 100% normal. It means you’re able to get things done without institutional knowledge or political capital.

          You’ve got this! I just finally talked to someone after polite follow ups every couple weeks for four months. :-)

          1. Consultant llama-herder*

            Ah sorry, bad wording on my part, 2 jobs are 2 year long, the rest are 6 months (abroad on visa restrictions), and my llama-herder job was first 4 months and now 1.5 or so years. I’m wary of adding “contract” to the 6 months one as that’ll seem like job hopping (which it was, but forced!). The one time I truly appreciate applications that have a “reason for leaving” box hahaha, but otherwise haven’t specified on my resume.

            Oh wow! Good on you. My weekly polite follow ups never yielded anything until I looped in my coworker (and then it went back to nothing). Gonna squeeze in on that successful wave right there with ya ;)

            1. Hillary*

              adding contract is a good thing on short jobs – it tells them there was a neutral reason it ended. People see contract and assume it was supposed to be a short gig. If I see a six month contract I assume it was covering a parental leave or for a specific project.

            2. Sally*

              Adding contract to the title does NOT imply job hopping – in fact it does the opposite. If you don’t add “contract” people will think you quit or got let go after 6 months. Contracts by definition can be short-term. Put the actual job title first.
              For example:

              Llama groomer (contract) start date-end date

              does the opposite

                1. Consultant llama-herder*

                  Thank you! That’s reassuring to know, even though now I sure wish I knew that a few years ago!! Haha. Here’s to getting less rejections now

  33. inv*

    Is a master’s degree in data analytics recommended? I have two bachelor’s one in exercise science and another in healthcare management

      1. inv*

        I’m hoping to learn the skills that would allow me to eventually become a senior data analyst. I thought it might also be helpful since I don’t have an educational background in computer science or it?

        1. Hillary*

          FYI, data science is a lot more math than it is computer science. I only did very basic coding when I was doing analyst work and the new tools mean that’s less necessary.

          In general those are skills that can be self-taught or learned for cheap online – folks mostly hire in this area for experience. There are a lot of people with degrees who don’t know how to apply the tools to real world problems. Right now I know two folks who did highly respected data bootcamps and can’t find jobs. Masters programs have the same issue.

          Another degree is never* the answer to I can’t find a job. It’s important to take a hard look at the ROI and opportunity cost of any professional degree. Most of the time professional degrees only cost out if they’re top ten or if someone else is paying for it.

          *Never meaning 99.9% of the time. If you were asking about PT school with your background I’d probably say go for it.

          1. Rainy*

            It’s true–getting another degree almost never helps unless you’re talking about something that requires some kind of licensing that the degree is required for.

    1. Rainy*

      Can you comfortably pay for it without taking out loans, and are you going to continue working while you do it?

      Here’s the thing: because of the boom in professional master’s programs in data/data science/data analytics, the market is glutted. The entry-level jobs are hard to get because there are so many people gunning for them with basically the same set of credentials (master’s degree, no experience), and any recruiter looking for data analysts basically just has to heave a brick and they’ll hit a dozen people who will immediately apologize for getting in their way and ask if the job is still open.

      Oh, and professional master’s programs are *expensive* and you can’t (technically there are probably ways, but practically speaking, departments don’t fund their professional master’s students) get funding.

      1. inv*

        Yes i’m experiencing the glutted market as it’s impossible to find an entry level job. i could pay for it without taking out loans and I would work at least part time if not full time while getting it. If so many people are getting that degree, it doesn’t sound like something that’s going to be a huge asset in the job market.

        1. Rainy*

          No. Another degree isn’t going to help, especially if you’re the one paying for it. You can probably learn a lot of the skills online or by taking a couple of strategically selected continuing ed courses if you do better with more structure.

          A better way of moving into something like that is probably going to be finding a position in healthcare data, where they need someone with healthcare/public health knowledge and some basic data skills. Kind of leapfrogging toward the goal from where you are now, eh?

          1. inv*

            I know getting another degree now isn’t a good idea, I meant more for in a year or two? I am working on leapfrogging to something like that yes. I should’ve clarified and asked if I have experience under my belt would a masters increase my pay over a career? If not I don’t need to go back to school. I only want to go back if it’ll increase my pay.

            1. Hillary*

              Generally speaking a masters degree won’t increase salary. There are always exceptions like teaching, but in private industry pay is about the work you do.

            2. Rainy*

              The master’s isn’t going to help much, if at all, for pay increase. The direct experience is what’s going to drive those pay increases.

      2. A Person*

        100% this – as a hiring manager in the field you’re way better off seeing if you can find an adjacent job where you can learn some of the skills (SQL, reporting, visualization software like Tableau or Looker) than getting another degree.

        Even back when I started before the market got like this, I got my entry level job after I had a job that was basically translating sentences in SQL for a few years.

        With the healthcare admin degree or experience, is there a healthcare reporting entry level role you might qualify for?

    2. Busy Middle Manager*

      Depends what job you want but I’ve done well (though not Amazon Silicon Valley well) without one. Your issue now is the job market feels very pre-recessionary. Feels like 2007 when I couldn’t get interviews and people would act like it was a personal problem.

      When I hire people I look for people who can think and see the connection between things and see trends and can think outside of the box, in addition to the coding type skills. There is a lot of “I don’t know what the question is but I feel something is wrong in that area” going on here so I can’t hire someone who needs a step by step for every little thing.

      1. Furret*

        When I hire people I look for people who can think and see the connection between things and see trends and can think outside of the box

        Thank you, I appreciate this nugget of knowledge. This is also something my interviewer mentioned as one of the things which a great hire will have initiative to do.

    3. Furret*

      Hi. After reading the other replies, and having been through two analyst-type job interviews (albeit in same org), my take.

      Practical experience is better. Ability to analyse is assumed (based on previous work/projects).

      So the interview is about soft skills – collaboration, ability to learn, initiative, communication, ability to present info to others. And problem-solving, where the solution may be to change processes.

      To get ahead in the field for better pay would involve being able to communicate good, to get buy-in and collaboration.

      The Masters in data analytics I’ve looked at tends to be great intense experience in using different software and strategies, with small component of presentation.

      If I had money I would do a PGCert as it’s less commitment, to keep learning.

      1. inv*

        a PGCert sounds like a good option. would you recommend doing probono work to boost the resume on websites like catchafire?

        1. Furret*

          I haven’t done it myself (too busy) but if it builds your portfolio and experiences with no downsides, why not?

        2. A Person*

          I’m not sure about probono work unless you make sure you can show it within a portfolio. It’s not a huge leg up, but if you have a portfolio with really professional analysis you’ve done with public datasets, especially including professional looking charts that might get you a foot in the door.

          1. A Person*

            To be clear – my concern here is if you’re doing work for a company the output could be proprietary.

  34. Niffler*

    How do you handle conversations with staff around limiting cursing in the office? One of my staff members in particular has drastically increased their use of the F bomb recently and I need to address it. I have no issue discussing performance/work quality/etc. issues with them as they arise but for whatever reason this topic is daunting to me.

    For additional context, I’m a new-ish manager and all of my direct reports are minimum 15+ years older than me. We work for an organization that is publicly funded. The person that I need to have this conversation with is very vocal about “everything being too PC these days” and can be quite difficult to coach in general. I know I need to talk to them but the potential fall out (for lack of a better term) is daunting.

    1. Sloanicota*

      I say get really clear on what the impact is. If they’re an arguing sort, they’re going to be really focused on that anyway. If it’s that clients can hear and it’s unprofessional, or that coworkers are feeling demoralized, or what? Why does it matter?

    2. Kiki Is The Most*

      I feel like it’s not a discussion but an expectation, and a conversation isn’t really needed.
      As a manager, you might want to present it as a professional expectation to not ‘swear’, regardless of who it might be directed at or who might be in earshot. And then make sure they understand this expectation.
      Outside of my job, I am the f-bomb queen but we just don’t talk like that at my job, as it’s the expectation.

    3. RagingADHD*

      I’d say that if you are aware of hearing a drastic change in his vocabulary, there may be a volume issue as well. Is he being unusually loud? Perhaps you could bring it up as noticing the recent change. Is he particularly stressed? What’s going on? What’s different with him?

      Then that gives you the segue into toning down the language/volume because it’s affecting the atmosphere in the office and/or the public perception of the org.

  35. Optimal Pointillist*

    I posted last month about a project I was sharing with a coworker, but it wasn’t clear who owned the project. A third person wanted to be included because he’s learning our field, but after the first meetings I didn’t want to include him anymore because he kept 1) repeating my thought as though they were his, and 2) taking me aside to explain basic concepts. He said his manager said I needed to involve him, so I wasn’t sure how to proceed.

    I got a lot of good advice that I talk to either his manager, or mine, or both about expectations, and also clarify who owns the project.

    Well. I reached out to his manager, who was surprised to hear what she had supposedly said and assured me that it was not my responsibility to include him in any ongoing projects (and my coworker owns the current project, so bringing others in would be his responsibility anyway). All is well!

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Yes, I expect we’ll be hearing from Optimal Pointillist soon that he is on a PIP because he does these annoying things to other people too. And lying is kind of a dealbreaker so honestly he probably won’t last long if he keeps that up.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Oooh, that guy….what gumption to say that about his boss, knowing that you can full-on just ask the boss if she really said that!

  36. KeyLimePie*

    Hello! Would love to hear from either people who have done this, or from anyone involved in hiring who might have some insight for me!

    I’m currently working with a local gov’t organization that helps people with disabilities find work. I’m coming up on the part of the process where I’ll actually be applying and interviewing at places, and I’ve been uncertain about an aspect of this I get a bit of choice in: I can pick to either be open with potential employers about this org. helping me, or I can keep that private.

    It’s fully up to me, but I’m not really sure what option I want to go with. On one hand, I don’t want to make things more difficult for myself if my future employer knows I’m working with this org. On the other hand, I keep thinking that maybe it’ll help if they know? Like, maybe they’ll be better about accommodations, or I can weed out really bad places right off the bat?

    If anyone has worked with a similar group and feels comfy sharing their experiences, I’d love to hear! And I’d also love to hear from anyone involved in hiring how they’d feel either way about me divulging this or not.

    1. Sometimes hiring*

      As some who hires, I would probably prefer if this wasn’t mentioned. If I know about this, then I know that you have a disability and I would prefer to just not know that. Legally it can’t influence my decision but in practicality we all have bias, conscious and unconscious. If I don’t know you have a disability, I can’t unconsciously let it bias my decision.

    2. ferrina*

      I also wouldn’t want to know. I can’t actually use that information (not legal to consider when hiring), and honestly, I’d be wondering why you chose to share that with me. Plenty of people get help on their job search- my sister edits my resume every time I start a new search. I’d be a little concerned that there would be an underlying message of “well this org is helping me; you need to help me too.” (because yes, I’ve known this kind of people. Both abled and disabled).

      What can be helpful is you saying what you need. “I have a service dog. Is that something that you’ve had at your organization before? How was it handled?” (note that while the hiring manager/supervising manager is best positioned to know about the day-to-day impact of the job, they are also the least likely to be familiar with ADA laws).

      Of course, it’s up to you whether you want to say something during the interview or wait until you have an offer in hand. Even though they aren’t legally allowed to discriminate, that doesn’t stop them from declining due to “fit”. I would generally say don’t say anything, but it also depends on what your accommodations are and how you want to evaluate the company. If you are willing to invest the time in interviewing, I’d wait until I have an offer then reach out to HR- “I actually have a few more questions. I have a disability that doesn’t allow me to X. I’ve found that Y accomodations work best for me. Does that work for you? If so, I’d love to get that documented for ADA purposes.” Make sure to put that into an email- that way you have clear documentation (and HR knows it). If you get the ick from HR when you bring it up, you can always decline the job offer.

    3. Vodas*

      Does knowing add weight to your candidacy or is it more about laying the foundations for accommodations? If it’s the former I’d say go ahead, but if it’s the latter I might be more cautious because employers, unfortunately, aren’t always as accepting as we might hope and there’s a small possibility it would be used against you. Best of luck with your interviews!

    4. Charlotte Lucas*

      I work in a government agency that works closely with a similar group. If your interview is with someone similar, it is meaningful for them, as it shows knowledge of mission. (But we wouldn’t care if you didn’t mention it.) Otherwise, consider it private info, no different than hiring someone to help you prep your application materials.

      Good luck! I am a firm believer in CIE (competitive integrated employment), and wish you all the best!

    5. Warrant Officer Georgiana Breakspear-Goldfinch*

      Keep it private. You can disclose later, but once the cat is out of the bag, you can’t make them un-know it.

    6. Hiring Mgr*

      The only way I can possibly see it helping is if that org has some relationship or tie with the company you’re interviewing with, and that’s how you got the interview. But if it’s just that they helped with your resume or something like that, definitely not.

    7. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I generally recommend disclosing only when getting into the nitty gritty of how the job is actually done. For example, I worked with a customer with a prosthetic leg. He would wear long pants at the interview and no one would have noticed. Then when getting down to the actual work he’d do on the manufacturing floor, he would say “I won’t be able to climb ladders, and there can’t be loose electrical cords on the floor.” And the first wasn’t essential to the job, and the second is a safety thing for everyone. Then he’d explain that from now on he’d be wearing shorts because the pant legs trip him up.

      One of the best things the agency you’re working with can do for you is to help you identify your accommodations, work out the right scripts, and maybe aim you at employers who have been kind to folks with disabilities in the past. And maybe help you navigate your first 90 days as you settle in with the accommodations and make sure they work in the new setting. If you have on-going job coach needs, then they can work with you on how to arrange any site visits for the worker.

      Note that if you’re in the US, there are tax credits for employers who hire and retain individuals with various challenges, including disabilities, previous justice-involvement, people getting off public assistance, etc. It’s nice to have that info in your back pocket to share if you’re feeling resistance. A few thousand $ in their pockets at the end of the year is a pretty good incentive to take a chance on you, especially when you’re presenting as being on top of your specific needs.

      But after the offer is better than before.

    8. Anon for This*

      Does the government provide training or leads on jobs? If so, then yes you should disclose it so the people interviewing you know the background. I worked a similar program dealing with immigrants earlier in my career, and the employer knowing we had done some basic training and setting of expectations was helpful. If not, then it depends on the job. If it is an organization that works with the disabled, yes, I’d disclose.

    9. KeyLimePie*

      Thank you all for the responses! I really appreciate seeing things from the other side of the interview, so to speak. I was mostly thinking that telling potential employers would help somehow with accommodations and such, but it sounds like it might be a bit safer to err on the side of keeping this to myself.

      Thank you again!

    10. SophieChotek*

      Like others have said, I would probably not.

      that said, during my last job search I also worked with a local gov organzation also that helped people with disabilities find jobs – and I was upfront b/c said organization had a relationships with the gov organization and had a very specific DEI process working with local gov org

      But if such is not the case, I’d agree with others

  37. Luigi*

    Question about a situation at work: Grand Grand Boss told people late over the weekend last week that parents could come late because it was the first day of school. So my coworker got to roll in for a half day and I noticed the same with others. FWIW I think it was great that they allowed this for parents. Its a great milestone to be home to see kids off. No complaints with that.

    But now I am a little salty that I didn’t/wont’ get to get a late start as well. Our office has a huge culture problem already to the point an outside company is coming in to do an assessment and whatever. Everyone here is burned out. But leadership has a tendency to not care about equity when it comes to things. I causally mentioned it my boss but he kinda of ignored me. Is this worth bringing up when we have our assessment or a let it slide moment.

    1. Sloanicota*

      If it’s one half day out of 356, I’d let it go. Not every perk is going to work for every person, and there will be other times that you’ll have an advantage someone else won’t – free pizza but someone’s dairy-free, an equity adjustment that doesn’t help the mid-level people, a fun excursion not everybody’s available for (or for parents, they’re probably going to use up all their sick leave dealing with ill little kids while you can save yours up and take a full day for mental health). The “it’s not fair” gene is deeply embedded in the human psyche but this was literally four hours. If it becomes a pattern, I’d be more likely to flag it.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        > If it’s one half day out of 356, I’d let it go.

        That’s a bit disingenuous though as that isn’t really the case, because not all days are working days etc… I think a more apt calculation is “We get 10 days of PTO and these people effectively just got an additional 5% on top”.

    2. Little beans*

      It would have been nice if they had said everyone could take a half-day, or that you could take a different day. I supervise a team on which half of my staff are parents, and half are not (I am a parent as well). The parents are always needing more flexibility in their schedule – I try to make sure that everyone knows that they are welcome to take the same flexibility but the reality is that the parents use it more often than the non-parents.

    3. Head sheep counter*

      Why not take it? Surely your plants need rotating or your pet needs whatever? Celebrate that first day non-holiday. Benefits for one should be benefits for all.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        > Why not take it?

        OP isn’t a parent and presumably ‘the company’ knows that. The half day given to parents, if taken by OP would be treated as going awol.

        > Benefits for one should be benefits for all.

        Yes, but they are not. Your suggestion is an excellent way for OP to get reprimanded, unfortunately.

    4. Rainy*

      Sometimes this happens.

      There are multiple times that doing something extra in my office results in everyone else getting to go home early and take the rest of the day off, and I can’t because nobody thought to notify us first and I booked other meetings or appointments in that time.

      1. Dinwar*

        That’s sort of where I land. Life isn’t always fair. Sometimes one group gets something that another group doesn’t. In a well-run organization it balances out. Like, people in the main office where I work get free food on occasion. Us remote workers do not. On the flip side, we get paid better and don’t need to deal with office politics (there’s a reason many of us are still working on jobsites!).

        If the company was consistently giving parents perks that others weren’t getting, that would be a problem, sure. But a half-day on a specific day that’s already generally stressful? Not worth the political capital.

        Honestly, I’d be very curious what the rate of people taking a partial day off is–this could very easily be upper management simply acknowledging something that’s already happening. I’ve seen that with March Madness, for example–everyone spent time playing it, so when the company formally announced a bracket literally the only change was that the bracket in the breakroom went from unofficial to official. It’s a cheap way for management to build capital with their employees.

        1. Rainy*

          Yeah. It’s super common in my office for parents to take either the full day or a half-day off for their kids’ first day of preschool or elementary school. At a certain point you might as well just acknowledge that parents aren’t going to be around and give them the half-day, really.

    5. Hiring Mgr*

      Don’t say anything, but next year you’ll have to drive your nice to school, or your neighbor’s kid…. right?

    6. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      Definitely a ‘let it slide’ moment. The way to think about this isn’t ‘fairness/equality’ (everyone gets a half day off), but ‘equity’, which is premised around individual circumstances.

      You want the half day off to sleep in, but parents are using that to wrestle children awake after a summer off, and then into clothing and a car and into a classroom where maybe they’ll cry for 20 minutes. When you think about it, no one is getting a half day ‘off’. And, I can’t imagine that those parents want a sleep in any less than you do :P

      (I’m childfree by choice, but in the life stage where my friends all have littles)

    7. ina*

      I agree with this being an issue. In this situation, I would just have let all my staff take the half day – a half-functioning office is already reduced productivity, might as well have a full, well-rested office for half a day. I get others don’t see it this way.

      However, even if you don’t take the day off, half the office is doing a half day. Surely that leaves some room for you to relax a little in the morning to enjoy a coffee as you check your email. I would just insist I am not picking up slack in the morning and that the coworker(s) will manage their own workloads in the latter half of the day, unless it’s absolutely urgent and needs to be done immediately.

      To me, a half day off in a busy, burned out office isn’t really a treat. It’s less time to do the same amount of work.

    8. cleo*

      If it’s part of a larger pattern of poorly thought out, not evenly applied perks AND if you trust that whatever you tell the assessment people won’t be used against you by your leadership, I might mention it.

    9. Ann*

      When you say, come in late, is it on their own time? Are they taking the morning off? If this is on their own time, it’s not quite a perk but of course it still looks unfair.

      Is there a pattern of unequal treatment in general? If there is, would be a good idea to mention the overall pattern when the outside assessment happens.

    10. Furret*

      Siding with the equity lens. Everyone is burnt out. The parents maybe more. If the non-parents get a lie-in (mental recovery) the parents don’t get the same mental recovery time.
      Now it’s still not fair, but to an already stressed subgroup.

    11. Snax*

      Let it go. I assure you those parents were not having a leisurely, relaxing morning for themselves. The relevant thing here is not whether you got to come in late on the same day, but whether you can generally count on the same grace being extended to you if you have an appointment, transportation snafu, or other one-off issue that makes you late occasionally.

      1. connie*

        +1 on this! My kid’s first day of kindergarten was tough! The reality of that change setting in, being on a different routine…it can be tough even at older ages. But even beyond that, there may be things that need to be done at the school, or the cafeteria. These are exactly the kinds of days when things go maximally haywire and then they even out.

  38. Reference Issues*

    My former boss has invited me to apply for a position under him again at his new employer. I’ve decided to apply but the application requires 3 supervisory references be submitted (really common in this field, state government work). My issue is he is both my best reference for this type of work and the hiring manager at the other employer. Can I list him as a reference? or should I list an older supervisory reference?

    1. ferrina*

      Why not just reach out to him? “Hey, I’d love to list you as a reference. Does that sound good? Would there be any issues with that?”

  39. Sally Rhubarb*

    Any advice on how to gently tell a coworker to bloody think for yourself for once instead of constantly coming to me?

    Bit of background: we’re in completely different departments but the nature of things means sometimes our work overlaps. I tend to be the gatekeeper of the knowledge she’s seeking but because I know I have the answers that multiple people need, I document the hell out of everything and make it accessible in logical places that people use. The info can be highly technical and not obvious unless you read the documentation, but again that’s why I make sure to leave clear instructions.

    She never bothers to look in these places, despite my gentle nudging. I fear I’ve created a Learned Helplessness Monster here.

    I don’t want to go ratting her out to her boss because she’s actually very sweet and works hard otherwise. Nor do I want to step on his toes but it seems like her training in certain areas is lacking and I’m often the one to pick up the slack instead of her manager.

    The other problem is if I ignore her requests, it becomes an issue for everyone so I feel a bit stuck.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Just push back. “Have you tried checking X thing?” or “I’m not sure but I’m pretty positive I wrote it down in the Y file” (say this even if you do in fact know) or “what have you tried so far?” still helpful and kind, but add some friction to the question asking and she may stop on her own.

    2. ferrina*

      I’m not sure what you’ve tried already, but here’s what I would do:

      1. Make sure the documentation is easy to find and easy to search. If she doesn’t have access to the file or it’s 10,000 pages long, that’s too much for a lot of people.

      2. Set up 30 minutes to walk her though the documentation. Where it is, what it has. Use examples- “Remember last week when you asked me about X? Here’s how I got that information.”

      3. Email her a link to all the documentation for “ease of access”. Cheerfully state that you recommend bookmarking this.

      4. Next time she reaches out, cheerfully tell her “That’s in the X document I showed you last week. Let me know if you have any questions about the document!”

      5. When she insists you need to do it, go over to her desk or call her to screenshare. She should be the one sharing her screen with you. Have her show you what she did to try to access the information. I like to approach this as a tech glitch or troubleshooting (even when I’m 99% sure it’s user error) “I’m so confused why it’s not showing up for you! Part of my job is making sure that this info is easily accessible, and if it’s not, that’s an issue. Thank you so much for walking me through so I can understand!”
      Do not do anything for her unless it’s a real error. She should do all the screensharing and click all the buttons. She should be the one showing you what she is doing- if you say “Click A then B”, she’ll just learn that she need to call you and you’ll provide instructions. Instead, say “What did you do first? Okay, and when that didn’t work, what did you do next?” Channel your inner Confucious and ask all the questions (and do it in a calm, measured tone). This may take a while- that’s okay. This is an investment in your future as she learns that she can (and must) do it for herself.

      Most people don’t go past Step 5.

    3. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      Stop nudging gently. Just tell her to look in X documentation. “Sorry, I don’t have time to get into it, check X documentation, I know the info is there.”

    4. Kiki Is The Most*

      Similar to what Sloanicota said plus a few more:

      “I’m in the middle of something so I suggest looking for that in the XYZ file or search for that file using thisfilename”

      “I’ve documented that process in this file/book/email/note. Please look there first.”

      You can also refer her to her manager: “Please check with Bob to review that process/policy. He’s a better resource for that.”

    5. Dinwar*

      This was me earlier this year! Here’s what I did, maybe it’ll help:

      1) Take time to make sure your file structure is consistent. I found budget for someone to spend a week doing this (we had a LOT of data). This includes physical and hard copies.
      2) Document that process and distribute it to everyone. Document how files are named, where they’re kept, etc. Email them, put electronic copies in the electronic files, print off hard copies and put them in the physical files.
      3) Any time someone asks for info and doesn’t say “I’ve already checked the electronic and physical files”, reply with “Have you checked the electronic and physical files?” Don’t even bother trying to respond–just scan for those key words and if you don’t see them, send that email.
      4) Repeat until everyone learns to look for this stuff themselves.
      5) If there’s a legitimate need for data, ask for an email listing the data needs. One email, at the end of the day, and say you’ll get to it tomorrow/whenever you think you reasonably can. Things like IM are great for some things, but seriously, people need to stop using them for requests like this. They do it because it’s easy for them, and it’s easy for them because it places all the burden on YOU. Put some friction in the process, and usually by the end of the day they’ll have found what they’re looking for.

      (Unfortunately I couldn’t say “See the manager” because I WAS the PM on the project, so these people were doing exactly that….)

      Took my team about three months to really get into the habit of checking the files first, then contacting me. And unfortunately some of the staff (me included….) aren’t great about uploading stuff electronically, and some work remotely, so I still have to scan and send stuff. But it’s DRASTICALLY reduced the number of requests for data that I have field.

    6. RagingADHD*

      Based on an interaction I just had where someone at work treated me like I should “bloody think for myself” when that is absolutely not the issue, I’d say you should check your process.

      Does your real-world process actually match what the documentation says, or do you (or others) frequently contradict or undercut it? Is there an unwritten policy that Person X or Person Y’s wishes override the documentation?

      My situation may or may not be relevant to yours, but I’d advise you to look at what she’s really asking. The documentation may or may not be helpful if Grandboss occasionally declares out of the blue that it’s Backwards Day, and she might be checking for that.

  40. Gunther Centralperk*

    My sister is 30 and has only worked odd jobs (hostess, retail, fast food) for a couple of months at a time. She had some health issues over the years that prevented her from working full-time and wasn’t able to complete her degree, but she’s doing much better now and able to ramp up and is looking for a career (e.g. data entry, reception). Given the serious gaps in her resume, lack of experience/education, and her age, what’s the best way to approach this?

    1. ferrina*

      Temping. It’s a great way to make connections, show that she’s able to thrive in an office environment, and it tends to have much lower barriers for entry.

      I’d also look into if there’s jobs at a non-profit that focuses on her health issues. Many healthcare non-profits value the “expert through experience” who knows the mission first-hand. She’d still have to meet the minimum job reqs though, so she might want to get some temp/office experience first then look at the non-profits.

    2. Sloanicota*

      Someone said in a previous week that bank teller is the perfect bridge job between retail/food service and white collar office roles, FWIW …

      1. ferrina*

        lol, that was me!
        It looks like you just need a high school diploma/GED to become a bank teller, so if your sister doesn’t have her degree, that might be a great place to start.

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      Data entry covers a broad spectrum, but a lot of places have entry-level positions, and many are part-time. I used to work at an insurance company, and they hired at multiple levels of experience/ability. If she has experience with face to face customer service, a lot of call centers that take incoming calls like that, too.

    4. Furret*

      Good communication skills will always be valuable moving upwards in any career.

      Some of my ex-classmates had a hard time transitioning into office work because they didn’t know how to communicate and collaborate effectively.

    5. RagingADHD*

      I agree with ferrina that temping is a good way to go. I also highly recommend that she look at some job listings and find the required/desired software skills, then do a bunch of short Linkedin Learning or Udemy courses that give certificates. If she is computer literate, they are not hard courses, but those certificates are pretty helpful for entry level or on-ramp level admin type roles (much more so than for technical or specialist roles). You can usually get a month of Linkedin Learning when you take the free trial of Linkedin Premium (then cancel).

      She should probably take her high school graduation year off, and just list the school. She might also list coursework in whatever field/major at the university she was able to complete, if it’s relevant.

      I’ve had good success with a hybrid resume: a truncated list of jobs with a couple of bullet point accomplishments, and then a long list of skills that are relevant to the roles I’m applying for. In terms of accomplishments, anything she can describe that shows good customer service, attention to detail, or overall productivity is going to be relevant for admin.

      1. new year, new name*

        Just a PSA on Linkedin Learning – lots of public libraries now give free access to anyone with a library card!

        1. Throwaway Account*

          Yes! And if your system does not, you might find that another library system will have it. Where I am that might mean a library card fee of $200 but if you know there are a couple of good courses that prep you for an exam for a certificate, it could be well worth it!

  41. FlorAzul*

    This is a lot of what ifs, but where better to ask?
    I currently have 3 applications with federal jobs (all remote). The one that closed first (2 months ago) just recommended me to the hiring manager for that position. I haven’t heard back from the other 2, but one of those closed 1 month ago and the other (same position, different announcement) a few weeks ago. 1st position is intermittent, 2 others are regular. I would rather have one of the regular ones. If I do get an interview with the first, and then hired (lots of what ifs), should I take it and then wait and see if I also get an opportunity for the other ones? And then quit that first one?
    Thanks for any help with clarification.

    1. Sloanicota*

      From what I understand in government work, there’s often a long screening process, so you may have an opportunity to back out before the firm offer arrives. I say pursue whichever one is getting traction for now. It’s also easier to make a transfer once you’re “in” than it is from the outside, if I understand correctly.

    2. Former Retail Manager*

      Yes to what Sloanicota said. I’m a current federal employee with a large agency that is supposedly trying to hire like crazy. Well, it’s moving at a snail’s pace, questions/issues are escalated, but no answers are ever provided. A friend was interviewed in May. Her start date is the end of September, if that tells you anything. So, get your foot in the door wherever you can. Once you are in, then it is indeed easier to move around. You can then apply as both an internal applicant and an external applicant. Never count on anything in govt as a sure thing unless and until you receive a firm offer. Good luck!

    3. m2*

      Also, Biden wants most of the federal agencies to return to office (RTO) so make sure it is actually remote.

      1. KittyGhost*

        ^^ The RTO policies became more set in stone over the last month, which sounds like was after these jobs closed. There are of course some types of jobs that have to be remote by their nature, but I’d bet your bottom dollar that the details of the remote work policies for these positions has changed since they closed.

  42. RMNPgirl*

    How do you handle feeling disappointment in a company?

    My organization just went through a major management restructure. They added quite a few new management roles along with a new tier of management. I applied to one as a bit of a reach and another that I thought I had a really good chance at. I ended up getting neither and was basically told it was because they thought I was in the perfect role for me now (I did not appreciate being told what they think is best for me, not their decision to make).

    The other management roles all went to people from one major operational area of our business and none of them went to anyone who has experience or knowledge of the other major operational area. I originally come from the latter and so for those of us with that operational experience this whole restructure felt like a slap in the face.

    I reached out to my network to see if anyone had openings elsewhere but there isn’t anything right now. How do I continue to work for this company when I’m still angry and hurt about this process? I know with time it will get better, but maybe not because I anticipate lots of issues with the fact that no one in management has any idea what one major half of the operation does. In my current role I basically will just get to sit back and watch the train wreck, but most of my work friends are in the operational area that will suffer.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Ugh, solidarity, this is frustrating. You can either gear up for a big push to be chosen next time (a good strategy for go-getters) and advocate for yourself when you see things going on – use a mentor in a senior role, lean on your colleagues etc – or, it might be possible to go the quiet-quitting route while you wait for a new position to materialize. Both are reasonable approaches and it just depends on what you want right now.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      “they thought I was in the perfect role for me now”

      You have to read that as “they thought I was in the perfect role for the company”

      1. Sloanicota*

        Still, an org that has an employee apply for two opportunities and doesn’t select them for either one, without giving them any encouragement for how they can get there next time, has to be considering that the person is likely to look elsewhere. Apparently they’re okay with that.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          I have always been amazed at the number of employers who are surprised when good, competent employees (often female) leave when it’s clear they won’t be able to move up in their role.

          It’s like the people who take a romantic partner for granted then are surprised when the relationship breaks up.

      2. Charlotte Lucas*

        Once I realized my former employer would never promote me (and they did other unfair things, but your description makes me think someone was putting their own staff/friends/favorites into those management roles), I began my job search (and working to rule). It took a year, but I gave myself a nice promotion into a better-paying and more fulfilling job. Yes, I was fueled by bitterness, and I spent at least one lunch break a week at the nearest library job searching.

        Good luck!

      3. RMNPgirl*

        I absolutely know that’s what they meant. It’s not that I don’t enjoy my current role, but I wanted to move up in the company. I was previously a supervisor before moving into my now supportive role so I thought I could move back into leadership, but it appears not.
        I’m absolutely job searching and just waiting. It’s difficult because I want to stay in my industry and there’s not a lot of movement in the mid to higher level roles so I need to be patient.

    3. ferrina*

      Oh, I’ve been there. It sucks so much. You mask it, do a great job, then when the moment comes, leave and leave them to try to function without you.

      My story:
      I was turned down for a promotion that went to someone that was wildly unqualified. “Boss” had been OldBoss’s golden child, and when Old Boss left, she outright sabotaged me to make sure I didn’t get the promotion (I had the most experience in the industry and with management; I had the happiest clients and brought in the most revenue; and I’d been doing it all solo, since Boss wouldn’t give me the time of day). I smiled and congratulated Boss, then went home and raged. I immediately started looking for jobs, then the pandemic hit and jobs froze. I was stuck. For over a year I smiled to Boss, knowing that if I didn’t she’d find reasons to sabotage or fire me. More than that, I helped Boss with her work. I effectively did her job and my own- I ran her analytics, built strategies and wrote her slides before she even figured out that that’s what she should be doing. “I’m not sure if you’d need this, I just found it interesting.” She’d then pass it off to the VP as her own work. Continue this way every week for over a year. Within a few months she adored me, and it was well known to everyone (but my incompetent Grandboss) that I was shadow-running the department. I built up a fabulous resume with great accomplishments.
      Karma: After 18 months I got a better job that made 15k more than what Boss had made. When I left, several other key people who had been shadow-running different departments also left (we were all sick of the incompetent VPs, and we had been references for each other during our job searches). After I left, it became obvious that Boss had no idea how to do her job. The department fell into ruin, had 80% turnover, and Boss eventually disappeared (no one knows if she resigned or was fired).

      tldr: Don’t let this define you. Be amazing, and make your exit when the time comes.

  43. Water Lily*

    I’ve been in my current job for 7 months. My boss used to supervise my team of two; now I supervise them. My boss frequently goes straight to one of my direct reports with projects, requests, etc and then loops me in. This makes me uncomfortable. Actually, I’ve gone from “uncomfortable” to “annoyed.” I mean, I do get looped in, but I’d rather the boss come to me and let me make the ask of my direct report rather than skipping me and then looping me in.

    Am I being too sensitive? Also, if it happens frequently enough, should I recommend that my direct report get updated and report directly to my boss? I feel like we need to pick a method: either my boss goes through me to my direct report, or we’ve just got the wrong structure and he should just report straight to her.

    Additional info: they are best buds in the office. Not to say that they are rude to me, but they have a warm and friendly relationship that I don’t necessarily have with either one.

    1. Sloanicota*

      This would legitimately annoy me too. I would go to my boss and ask them not to go through my direct report in future because you’re trying to manage their workload better as their supervisor. I would ask nicely and with compassion for the fact that it’s an old habit. Mention it to the report also because it represents a change in what they’re used to. Next time it happens, go back to the boss and kindly point out that they just went through the other person for Y project (because they probably won’t notice it happening until pointed out a few times) and don’t draw the direct report in, as it’s not their fault. Hopefully it’s all good intentions and bad habits and will get straightened out, but I would in fact flag it and try to get it to stop.

      1. Water Lily*

        You make a good point- there’s no malice, no mean intentions. And it is an old habit. The boss hired my direct report at a rough time in the company and they worked together for 6 months in tough conditions so I can see how they have a bond.

    2. Trippedamean*

      It doesn’t sound to me like you’re being too sensitive. Even if they have a good relationship, you need to be able to make decisions on what your direct reports are working on and when. Have there been conflicts in work assignments because of this dynamic? If so, you might start there and let your boss know how it’s affecting your ability to do your job.

      1. Water Lily*

        Good question. There haven’t necessarily been conflicts. It’s more like I manage the person in his regular duties and my boss goes to him for special projects. Those special projects are usually big and sexy so I feel a little like my boss gets to be the cool kid with the cool projects, and then I come along with the “remember to eat your vegetables” kind of work.

        1. Mad Harry Crewe*

          If you have a good relationship with your boss, I think you could also say that when you’re talking about why you want to make this shift. Practically, you should know what’s going on with your team and their time. Additionally, you’ve got to be the bad guy (or at least the boring guy) a lot of the time, so it will help your relationship with team members to also be the one distributing treats occasionally.

    3. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      Does this mean your other direct report never gets to work on the cool projects from BigBoss? Would they be qualified to do them? That would be another reason to push for BigBoss to go through you and not directly to your report.

  44. Dr. Doll*

    I am just under two years until retirement and I’m getting short-timers’ syndrome. I’m sooooo tired of being responsible for other people’s work and other people’s satisfaction.

    I’m extra tired of it this week since my most senior and fabulous team member has pretty much gotten shafted by the organization. The lesson that your organization won’t ever love you back is always, always painful no matter how much you should have already known. Then on top of it, my person came down with covid following a short in-person presentation by our division VP — so now the org not only doesn’t love them back but gave them covid, or at least that’s how they’re feeling.

    I’m working with an executive coach (at my own expense) to get through the next months. Any other thoughts for me?

    1. Sloanicota*

      Rather than an executive coach if you’re focused on getting over the finish line, I wonder if a therapist who could help you make the adjustment into retirement successfully would be more useful? I’m sorry about your colleague. I’ve seen it so many times and it’s amazing how demoralizing it is when it doesn’t even happen to you, just someone you’re observing.

    2. ferrina*

      I’d go for a therapist rather than an executive coach. Might be cheaper, and you can make more use from them.

      Therapy goal: I want to get through my next two years with minimal fuss. I want to mentally detach from work and still put out decent work product while I’m there. I need strategies to do that, and support while I get those strategies going.

    3. overwhelmed*

      Is there any way you could connect with an early career person either at your company or in your field that might want a mentor? I totally understand short timer syndrome and not being appreciated. I wonder if connecting and feeling like you’re contributing in that vein would at least help to balance out some of the other stuff? Just a thought.

    4. Goddess47*

      Make sure you take your PTO… not all at once but over the time you have left. It also sounds like you should working overtime…

      It’s likely early to start but work on documenting your job. Starting now lets you see the value of what you do and makes sure that you leave everything cleaned up behind you.

      Pre-write your employees evaluations for whomever will follow you. Make sure you do whatever you can to make sure that your doldrums don’t affect those working for you.

      Put some time into whatever you plan to do with your time when you do retire. Whatever hobby or travel or what-not you plan to do, do more now.

      And I’m going to agree that therapy rather than a work coach, is better. You need to maintain a healthy balance for the next two years and therapy can help.

      Good luck!

    5. WellRed*

      Take all the time off you can? Plan something special (big trip?) for when you actually retire?

      1. Sloanicota*

        Oh man I love this idea, I’m going to start planning my Big Trip. I mean, I’m almost 40 …

        (Love that OP asked about a career coach and we’re suggesting a travel agent instead :D)

        1. Dr. Doll*

          You are making me laugh, so that’s good!

          I did try therapy and actually the career coach is better. I don’t just want to minimally make it through the next two years, I want to kick ass, take names, and gallop off into my own sunset.

          The 2025 big plans are a walking tour hopefully in Scotland and then having Thanksgiving with my family on the opposite coast for the first time since 2011 (since I refuse to travel at Thanksgiving and can’t take extra days around it).

          Goddess47, thanks for those specific ideas.

  45. Anon for this*

    How do you know when you’re ready to retire? Not in a financial decision way, but emotionally.

    I never thought I would ever want to. Folks in my family pretty much have worked til they die at a ripe old age, in a good way, I promise! I’ve had a succession of high level, high pressure finance roles and am currently in a similar senior role, but part-time. I thought this would be ideal and I could do it, or something similar, forever. It’s a much, much better work-life balance, but I feel DONE and I just don’t have any more hoots to give. Is that a sign that I should retire or just get a different job?

    For more context, I’m early 60’s and could handle it financially, but a bit more money coming in for longer would always be better, especially to cover my health insurance premiums until medicare kicks in.

    1. Kiki Is The Most*

      Just because you retire from your current position/career doesn’t mean that it has to be permanent! It sounds like you’re ready to leave your current gig. Why not figure out next steps after you’ve taken that retirement? After a ‘rest’ period, you might really be enjoying your retirement, or you might feel the need for a challenge, or the need to continue making money and could shift into a new position.

      A grazillion years ago my father retired from his company after 30+ years and thought he was done. Turns out he spent the next 5 years in some part-time gigs with interesting perks that helped financially but that he found were fun and kept him busy.

      I think you’re in a great position to do exactly what you want to do. Good luck!!

      1. Throwaway Account*

        I thought that the last 5 years of employment were very important to your social security benefits, like if you go part-time, it will mean a big decrease in SS benefits?

        1. Mad Harry Crewe*

          Just because you’ve retired from a job doesn’t mean you’re taking your SS distributions.

        2. Budgie Buddy*

          I think they take the 30 highest earning years to calculate SS. So it could make a difference if someone doesn’t have a long work history, or they’re earning very high now but haven’t in the past. But it looks like OP will be ok.

    2. EMP*

      Channeling my mom here, who was afraid she’d be too bored if she retired but gradually ramped down her workload and found volunteer positions she cared about – not giving a hoot sounds like a good reason to retire to me, but is there something you want to do instead? If not, or nothing in particular, I don’t see why not give a new job a change. You probably have a lot of connections you can reach out to and avoid the slog of a real job hunt and there’s no harm in sending out feelers for a change of scene. If you do have something you’ve always wanted to do, maybe you can find more time for it now and that mix of hoots and non-hoots will get you through to medicare?

    3. About to be retired*

      This was exactly me 18 months ago. I am retiring next week after wrestling with this for a while. I am early 60s and although I love my employer org and the people I work with, my heart is just not in it anymore and I am ready to do other things (volunteering). I think part of it is exploring what you might do when you retire – do you have things you want to focus on that are not “work” ? Can you handle an unstructured day/days? You can always go back to part time work later on.

    4. Rara Avis*

      My Dad was really burnt from work + elder care of his mother. He had already let go a big part of his job (academia — was teaching but dropped his research). He knew. However, he remains very active in the faculty emeriti community, which sometimes also is involved in general college life. (For instance, he stayed on as academic advisory to a sports team after retirement.) My mother went a bit longer, but wanting to have the freedom to visit distant grandchildren was the deciding factor for her. (I had my kid pretty late.) They both had significant volunteer projects that they continue to do.

    5. Anon for this*

      Thanks everyone! I think you’ve all reinforced my thought process that #1 if I retire now, it doesn’t have to be permanent and #2 all the things I want to do will keep me busy if I don’t end up going back to work.
      Now my brain can stop noodling on this topic and noodle on when to do it!

  46. Perplexed*


    I work at a European agency and was appointed Continuos Improvement Leader, as one of my tasks. I oversee the work of one continuos improvement specialist who is trained in Lean Six Sigma. Now I’m thinking about more general change management training for myself. What professional development courses can the commentariat recommend? Would you go for a certification? Does anybody here have experience?

    I’d prefer on-site and in presence over online and travelling within Europe for the training should not post a problem.


  47. Trippedamean*

    I could use advice on dealing with meetings, mostly when I’m the one in charge of them. My personality is very oriented towards getting people to tell their interesting personal stories for hours if they want to, which is good for building relationships (which I need to do in my job) and terrible for meetings. I’m also easily distracted, bad at prioritizing on the fly, can’t talk and take notes at the same time – but will forget most of the discussion if I don’t write it down (in short, I’ve got a diagnosis of ADHD), and bad at contextualizing. To make it all worse, I have a hard time speaking up in groups due to some childhood trauma and a propensity for turning bright red whether I want to or not. If I could do everything one-on-one, I’d be fine, but I can’t. Any simple techniques to improve my ability to direct a meeting are appreciated.

    1. Elinor Dashwood*

      Fellow ADHD-haver here! I’ve found that it helps to have a written agenda sent out in advance in order to keep everyone on task (even better if you can budget time for each item, but I know sometimes that is not an option).

      Would it be possible to ask for volunteers to take notes? Or to record the meeting and take notes after? That could enable you to spend more of your limited focus on directing the meeting flow.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Both of these! Agenda-less meetings drive me up the wall! (And they help you decide how much time to devote to the meeting and what key players you need.)

        It is best practice to have a separate facilitator and note-taker once a meeting reaches a certain level of complexity or size. And if it’s big enough, try to assign a timekeeper so you can focus on facilitating.

        1. pally*

          And give the facilitator permission to speak up to move things along. And to suggest if an item should be tabled to a future meeting (like when there’s no constructive discussion occurring and folks are just telling stories). Sure, that’s normally the chair’s role, but sometimes there needs to be more than one person keeping things moving along.

        2. Trippedamean*

          See, I leave out important details too!

          I am the designated note-taker and facilitator. The way our office is set up, there is no one else to do it and it’s usually just me and my boss in these meetings. It’s a government position so our ability to change that is limited.
          We always have agendas, thankfully, but putting times on them is strongly discouraged because often, the discussion NEEDS to deviate from what we started with due to unexpected issues coming up (the external clients we meet with are not good at being forthcoming).

          But I have a hard time even guiding the conversation or indicating that it’s ended.

    2. ferrina*

      Also an ADHDer, but mine comes out in different ways. The talking to people for hours- yep, that’s literally part of my job description now!

      My tips:
      – Make an agenda. Map out how long you want to spend on each item. If your time blindness is bad, you can use this as a gauge to help yourself improve. Otherwise, you can use this to make sure the meeting stays on track- “Sorry, we need to move on to the next item”. Feel free to share the time estimates with the other attendees (again, if you are decent at estimating the time).

      -Make slides. If you are nervous about your red face, give them something else to look at. Bonus if it’s just a word or two or a graphic- DO NOT READ THE SLIDES VERBATIM. That is a super boring way to run a meeting. I’ve made a slide that just had two robots and used it as a prompt to talk about software updates we were making.

      -Designate a note-taker. “Sorry, I’m really bad at taking notes and leading meetings at the same time. Could I have someone take notes and send it out to the group? Thank you!” If it fits with your personality/company culture, buy them coffee or a candy bar to thank them.

      – Don’t worry about the bright redness. It’s not something you can control- if someone mentions it (most people won’t), “yeah, my face does that sometimes. So anyways…”

      – Join a gaming community. This can be great practice for speaking up in groups. You can also practice taking notes in the game, where the stakes are a lot lower.

      Good luck!

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        My face gets red, too. (Public speaking, exercising, drinking alcohol or caffeine, laughing, getting irritated, just existing can all cause it.) I once read that if you try to make your face red, it won’t turn red. Unfortunately, no idea if this has worked in practice, but it does make me feel better to try.

      2. Sloanicota*

        Great suggestion, only comment, ask for a rotating notetaker because “can someone” often means a busy lady is going to do it. So either designate someone specifically in advance for a reason – maybe the most junior person or whoever’s role makes the most sense – or have it rotate.

    3. Nesprin*

      You need to build in frameworks!

      -Make an agenda with topics that need discussion and key people who’d be expected to contribute to each item and send out several days to a week ahead of time to ask for suggestions for anything else that needed to be discussed. Put the most important things first on the agenda. Make sure that everyone who needs to contribute is invited, and no one who isn’t useful is.

      -Pick 2 junior people who aren’t going to be the major focus of the meeting or if possible ask an admin to attend and assign them to be a note keeper and a time keeper. Time keeper’s principle job is to make sure that you stop 5-10 min before end of meeting.

      -At the start of the meeting pull up agenda and start working through. If there’s anything that you cannot finish, table it and move to next thing. You should be thinking of yourself referee and not player for most of the meeting.

      -5-10 min before end of meeting, go back to agenda, cross off whatever can be crossed off, make notes of items that weren’t finished or need input/info from someone that wasn’t there, and table open issues for the next meeting. Assign tasks arising from discussion.

      -Later that day or next day, get notes from note keeper, edit and send out with agenda & todos for next time

    4. Jinni*

      Deputize a meeting runner? A group I belong to does this. Someone is in charge of note-taking and keeping to the agenda. I have no idea how it developed, but it’s excellent for corralling a group of people who act like wild cats…

  48. Downward facing llama*

    Getting together work with past and current co-workers outside of work when one is the former toxic boss.

    My toxic boss left a few months ago. She called me the first Friday after she left probably to see how I was doing but I didn’t answer (on my personal phone). I only know of her status through another past co-worker who happened to share toxic boss’ situation.

    This past co-worker is hosting a baby shower for a long past co-worker. I was hesitant to go knowing the toxic boss will also attend. I don’t want to talk shop, but all the attendees have in common is our past work with the organization (the person of honor has no family in town to invite).

    The past-coworker hosting the event visited to catch up with everyone. I let them know my hesitation. They agreed of the possible tension point and said they’d let toxic boss know of the boundary and they’d hope that all the other babies in attendance would keep the conversation on baby/person of honor and not work.

    All I know is if toxic boss asks, I’ll say “We’re doing well, and I don’t want to discuss it.”

    1. Chauncy Gardener*

      Can you just say “Great! Isn’t that a lovely gift she just opened/I need some more food/drink/restroom…..” and just keep moving?
      Be very noncommittal and neutral. And don’t engage.
      And she’s no longer your boss! Don’t give her any power over you. She doesn’t have any!!

  49. Elinor Dashwood*

    Any former librarians here who moved on to different fields? If so, where did you go and did you need to go back to school?

    I like being a librarian, but I may need a more flexible career in the future that enables me to do things like remote work. I have been in this field for over a decade and don’t know what other industries even allow remote work, or what transferable skills might be valued. It’s hard to picture a move from storytimes to data entry!

    1. Magnus Archivist*

      A friend of mine went from academic librarianship to course design/courseware support and really likes it!

    2. handfulofbees*

      I have a friend who got tired of being laid off by libraries and went to work at a law office. I’m fuzzy on what she does but it involves being a cog in the system which suits her perfectly. At the interview she did have to stress why she was looking outside of library work

    3. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Which parts of library work did you like the best? The customer service/human services bit? The problem solving? The organizing? The education?

      There’s some great transferable skills in there, but if you can pick one key one to focus on, it’ll make it easier to hone in on the jobs that will be next. Then you can start using some of the key words of those skills to search for jobs.

      Try to uncover transferable skills occupations.

  50. SGPB*

    So earlier this week my boss said he is stepping down. He has been the manager for 1 year and he hired me 10 months ago. He wants to go back to an individual contributor role and has decided management is Not For Him. Our big boss has already approached me about filling his vacated position. How do I navigate this dynamic of becoming my boss’ boss?? What are some pitfalls I should be aware of? How do I set boundaries? I know he is a very hard worker and extremely reliable but I think he has been suffering from some pretty severe burn out because he has been working nights and weekends (partially to prove himself and partially because he is bad at delegating). Any advice appreciated!

    1. Chauncy Gardener*

      It sounds like it should be fairly undramatic if he’s thoughtful enough to realize that management isn’t for him and that he’s probably not doing such a great job at it.
      I would just follow all the wonderful advice on this site for managing people and I’m sure it will be fine.

    2. Angstrom*

      Remember that he wants you to succeed! Assume good intentions. A lot of people are happier in supporting roles than in leadership roles. I’d be honest and talk about the elephant in the room: “This is a difficult situation for me. It feels strange to have our roles reversed. Let’s talk about how we can work together and support each other so we both get what we need.” Talk about expectations, responsibilities, and authorities. Talk about workload management to help with the burnout. Schedule regular one-on-ones.
      You’re getting a chance to learn management with an experienced, hardworking employee, who sounds like he has some self-knowledge and emotional intelligence. This could be very good for both of you.

  51. Cj*

    there’s a lot of discussion here on team building activities, and we did one yesterday that was pretty fun.

    there were 45 people from our seven locations there. we drew a Scrabble tile out of a bag when we got there to see what table we would sit at. that prevented people from sitting with people from their own office.

    we we’re supposed to let the person in charge know two unique facts about ourselves, and each table had to guess who it was. each person at the winning table got a gift card, I’m not sure for how much. nobody said really personal things, it was stuff like I like to ride motorcycles, or I once got stuck overnight in an elevator.

    then we had another game where we had to talk to three people from each location and have them answer a question that was on the sheet. they were things like what would you do first if you want a million dollars, and who is your favorite cartoon character when you were a kid. again, nothing personal.

    after that we went on a cruise around the lake in a pontoon. there was an accessibility issue there for one person because they appear to have mobility issues because of their weight. there was no way they would have gotten up the narrow stairs to the upper deck even without mobility issues, due to their weight. they were able to go on the lower deck, but since it was a nice day most people were on the upper deck, and they may have felt left out.

  52. Data entry: legit or not legit?*

    How legitimate are data entry jobs? I’m looking for something that is part-time and fully remote and see a lot of “Do data entry from home” positions listed on LinkedIn. But most of these listings seem to be spam sites. Is there a better place to look for this type of work, or does it fall into the category of too good to be true?

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      You absolutely can do data entry from home. (My old employer was allowing it over 20 years ago.) But I would look on the company’s website to check how legitimate it is. And make sure the company is legit.

      There are scams for pretty much any kind of desirable job, so do your research.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      I would try a different job board (maybe Indeed or Monster?) and I second Charlotte Lucas’s suggestion to double-check on the employer’s website if you can to ensure the job is legit. Unfortunately, there are going to be a lot of scam postings because “data entry from home” is desirable enough to draw in a big enough population that some of the scams will be successful.

  53. Ruth*

    I am a staff trainer at a laboratory in an academic setting. There are some disease hazards in our line of work which I am, of course, open with new hires about. I also teach them how to respond if they do receive a disease exposure. The diseases we are concerned about are vanishingly rare and the probability of disease transmission is very low even if an exposure does occur, but they can be fatal if transmission occurs without post-exposure care. In the over 60 years our institution has been doing this research, we have never had a case of disease transmission for the diseases we’re concerned about, in part because the diseases are quite rare and also because of our commitment to prevention and response. That said, it’s not a job for everybody, and the managerial staff at the lab knows there is an inherent amount of staff turnover among new hires due to that fact.

    I have a new hire who is very concerned about the possibility of disease exposure, to the point where he has had an exposure scare every day he’s been working in the lab. I’ve of course told him each time that he is welcome to take post-exposure precautions (which include a workers’ comp trip to the ER), but I’ve also made it clear that the PPE he’s wearing makes it much more likely that what he is experiencing is his own sweat dripping into the eye, an unfortunately common thing in this line of work (another reason it’s not a job for everyone, haha). He’s opted not to go to the ER each time, but his level of anxiety continues to be the highest I’ve ever seen in a new hire and actually seems to be increasing over time.

    Beyond what I’m already doing for him (connecting him to institutional experts in disease exposure, having frequent conversations with him about PPE and disease risk), it worth having a conversation with him about “If this isn’t something you’re able to deal with, this may not be the job for you, and that’s okay”? If so, is there any wording you’d recommend I use?

    1. BellyButton*

      I think you would be helping him out to have that conversation. Your statement seems fine, I would add something like “I have noticed you have a lot of stress and anxiety around possible exposure and it seems to be increasing….”

    2. SimpleAutie*

      I would recommend exactly that wording.

      “This is the job. This isn’t going to change. Is this a job that makes sense for you, knowing you will need to respond calmly and assess the probability that you were exposed vs the probability that your PPE was doing its job?”

    3. Nesprin*

      I’d start with concerns- what are they?

      Does he know how to check for PPE integrity and does he know how to don and doff his PPE?
      Is there anything about PPE fit or comfort that’s not quite right? Does it make sense to have him retrain with dummy samples to get used to handling protocols in a lower risk environment?
      Is it having someone watch over his shoulder that’s stressing him out?
      Is it possible to have him talk to an industrial medicine doc about whether he’s at greater risk of the pathogens you’re working with or whether he’s less likely to respond to countermeasures? There’s lots of things I’d be terrified to work with if I were say allergic to antibiotics or immunosuppresed, and getting individualized risk info may be helpful.
      Is it possible to just make him go to the ER each time so at least his anxiety is assuaged and can fight his annoyance and boredom at being stuck in a waiting room for like 6 hrs?

      Does he know he can quit and go do something else? Can you tell him about Jimmy who dropped a flask and got kicked out or Susan who decided that alligators were more her speed?

    4. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

      Seconding the comments from BellyButton and SimpleAutie. I used to work in biocontainment labs (BSL-3 and some BSL-4; think of the movie ‘Contagion’). There are absolutely people who are great scientists and laboratorians but who are not suited for that line of work. It’s probably better to have that conversation now.

  54. anon24*

    As an adult college student, is it ever worth joining any of the Greek societies? I just got invited to join my local chapter of Phi Theta Kappa and my first instinct is that it’s pretentious BS and to ignore it, but I’m incredibly ignorant about anything college related and I thought I’d ask all the intelligent people here.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I think for things that are specific to your major, the honor societies can be a good resource and a way to interact more closely with the faculty. I joined Tau Beta Pi (engineering) and Eta Kappa Nu (electrical engineering). Don’t know enough about the one you cite to say whether it’s worthwhile.

      1. anon24*

        I should have clarified. It’s for students with the top 10% of grades in the college. Which on one hand, yay! on the other hand, it’s a community college so I’m not exactly competing against the best and brightest. They claim that members get access to extra scholarships which is the only thing that gave me pause because I need all the financial aid I can get. I’m in that lovely income bracket where I can’t afford college because I’m an adult with rent and bills but make too much to qualify for federal aid or loans. I’m eligible for state grants for as long as I stay in community college but once I move on to a 4 year school any scholarship I can get would be a lifesaver.

    2. EMP*

      In my opinion, no one will care if you were a member except maybe other members. Anything like this can be a good avenue for networking but it’s only as good as you and your connections there make it (like any other group/networking opportunity). Personally I saw people get much more benefits (resume builders, friends, networking) out of service fraternities like APO than “honor societies”.

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      My SO is a PTK member. It looked good when he was applying to grad school. They do have an interesting magazine.

    4. Aglet*

      My SO was offered a full academic scholarship to a 4 year school because he was a member of PTK. This was 30+ years ago. My daughter saw no benefit from being part of PTK, but it was during covid (so no meetings) and she was doing dual credit so many of the scholarships didn’t apply to her. I found lists of 4 year schools that offered scholarships if you were a member of PTK by searching online. Maybe search first and see whether the scholarships will be helpful before paying the membership fee?

  55. This is maybe just a rant about Higher Ed*

    I work at a very small, very poor, very rural college in a red part of a blue state on the West Coast. The students body is relatively diverse, but still very much a predominantly white institution and it has some genuinely problematic history on DEI stuff. Personally, I am a white woman who teaches a subject that deals with issues of race/gender/ethnicity pretty frequently, and I have a lot of education, experience, and genuine expertise in these issues which I’ve been working on professionally since 2013. This actually is one of the reasons they named for offering me this job in 2019. I acknowledge also that I’m personally a bit further to the Left politically than most DEI workers and many of my colleagues, but I try to be collaborative and collegial while also adhering to my own principles and, above all, supporting my students.

    About a year ago, a Latina student wrote a paper in which she mentioned that her friend (another Latinx student) had a really bad experience in one of my colleague’s classes, where she felt racism and xenophobia, especially toward Mexican-Americans, was being stoked and encouraged within the class. I did some more digging (talking to both the essay writer student and the friend) and determined that this was largely a bi-product of the way this colleague was structuring the class. I went to leadership (two women, one white one a WOC) and expressed my concerns, making it clear that I thought this was likely a result of a somewhat outdated pedagogical approach, not that I have any reason to believe colleague themselves to be racist or teaching racist ideology to students.

    Leadership made noises about this being a problem, and invited me to call the colleague personally and tell them what I thought. I felt like that seemed a little aggressive (I am very junior to this person and we barely know each other) and they offered the alternative idea of me running a mini-workshop at a full faculty meeting. Naively, I said yes, ran the workshop, and it was actually quite successful, and a lot of my colleagues have told me that they implemented some of my recommendations. The Faculty Member in Question did not come to the faculty meeting (probably for unrelated reasons. They are senior and just… skip things they don’t want to do, which seems largely fine with leadership). When I circled back to leadership to be like “hey is anyone going to have a convo with Colleague about what happened?” the tone changed and they pretty much said that the original student who complained “Was just determined not to fit in here” and has left the school so it’s fine.

    Today they announced Colleague in Question has received the Prestigious Annual Teaching Award, and 2,000 bucks.

    I assume that leadership had a conversation with this person where their perspective on the original situation changed and they have info I am not privy to, but I do feel a bit demoralized, and my Latina student who wrote the original paper is still here and in my classes and witnessing the choice to award this person in the same calendar year that she brought these concerns to my attention. So far my take-away from this is to focus on serving my students and being an advocate for them, and not to rely much on Leadership, which honestly should probably have been my lane all along.

    To keep this a (relatively light) conversation, what’s the most eye-roll inducing Award or Promotion you’ve seen at your workplace?

    1. ferrina*

      Virtual hugs to you and your students! I am so sorry.

      Unfortunately, the lesson here is that politics matter, and sometimes it’s about the long game. You did make a difference- you educated a lot of colleagues who made changes to their teaching! That’s huge! You didn’t get Questionable Colleague, and Leadership just proved that they don’t really care about DEIJ or minority students (maybe students in general?) But is that a surprise?

      If you wanted that win, you would have needed to play dirty. You say nothing about Colleague, you lead the workshop, then wait until next year when Questionable Colleague has another terrible class, then drop an anonymous tip to the school paper exposing the Awardee of the Prestigious Award as someone who deliberately does not follow best practices. Bonus points if you can show that Leadership know about this. Oh, and make sure that there’s some tie-back to big donors- that will get Leadership’s attention.
      (don’t do that now- it will be too obvious it was you. It sounds like you really are moving your organization in the right direction, despite them not wanting to make that shift. That’s huge that you are improving the organization against their will)

      1. This is maybe just a rant about Higher Ed*

        this is such a kind comment, thank you! The “dirtier” approach would have been a ggod one, but I think I trusted our dean to… care?? the truth is that a sizeable bunch of faculty already know this guy is A Broken Stair, but leadership has a weird, inscrutable affection for him. the struggle continues!

    2. Alex*

      Oh that’s so frustrating.

      Mine is much less serious, but my colleague and I were given similar projects in addition to our regular work. The projects involved a lot of tedious work, which was of course a bit of a slog. I completed mine within a reasonable timeframe, because I buckled down and just did it even thought it was boring. My colleague whined and moaned and complained about it, and procrastinated until the deadline was looming (all the while spending his time on YouTube). My boss then asked me and some other colleagues to pitch in to help him finish. We divided the remaining work up. Once again, I buckled down and completed the work. I also found errors that my colleague had been ignoring, and I had to spend hours figuring out how to fix them (he didn’t help with that). When we regrouped, none of my colleagues had completed their shares, so once again the work was redivided, giving me another share.

      All in all, I probably did at least a third of the project, in addition to my own. But since I didn’t whine and complain loudly about how much work it was, my colleague got an excellence award for doing this “extremely taxing” project, and I didn’t. It was a monetary award. I was PISSED.

      1. Ginger Cat Lady*

        Similar thing happened to my husband with a big project at work. Every sprint, he finished his early, helped others, and tasks were reassigned to him from others. As the deadline approached, he stayed to 8 pm every night while others went home at 5.
        Final day of the project he finished his own stuff days early and was just helping others. He needed to leave at 3, and he got written up for not being a “team player” and staying to finish the project.
        The reason he needed to leave at 3? His brother’s wedding! He got written up for not being willing to miss his brother’s wedding! He’d asked for – and been approved – the whole day but ended up driving separately from me and the kids and rolling up with 15 minutes to spare.

    3. Leandra*

      At a long-ago government employer, someone received $5000 for suggesting that multiple pieces of mail going to the same address — often one of the field offices — be consolidated in the same envelope.

      The agency was located in a very isolated area, with only a couple of other government agency offices nearby. I was awarded $100 for suggesting that employees be informed of basic services available at those other offices (like the full-service post office at one of them).

      That was a year after I’d left the job, and in the pre-Internet/mobile phone era. My former employer needed my SSN to send the $100, the HR employee who contacted me was about to leave her position, and I was temping so we had no way of connecting during business hours. I never got the money.

      1. This is maybe just a rant about Higher Ed*

        WOW everything about this is pretty wild! it’s good that you’re not putting up with that anymore!!

    4. TechWorker*

      Not exciting, but it sure as hell is depressing to see people who are just all out bad at their jobs get promoted :)
      I am a senior mgr, and work with another mgr who until recently was at the same level as me. I REALLY do not rate how he works, his teams are all chaotic and miss project deadlines, he doesn’t seem to understand any of the technical detail (or know how to ask the right questions, which is critical if you don’t), makes bad decisions and his ‘management style’ is just pulling people into meetings with 5 minutes notice (totally ignoring whether they have anything in the calendar) & treating everything like a crisis. His judgement is all out bad. ….and now he’s got a promotion to director :) idk what they’re looking at but it’s clearly not the same as what I am!

      1. This is maybe just a rant about Higher Ed*

        UGH everything else aside I HATE getting yanked into a meeting without notice! it can mess up my whole day!

    5. A nonny mouse*

      This isn’t really what you asked for advice on, but I’ve learned over the years that one way to get people you feel should be awarded get awarded is to make sure you nominate them or encourage them to nominate themselves. I know it’s a pain, and feels like you shouldn’t have to make sure that good people are recognized, but if they don’t get nominated, they can’t win.

      Also, if that means that you have to prompt people to nominate you, then do so. Self-nomination is also a thing you can do. It feels weird to do so, especially if you have been raised with a background where that sort of thing is Not Done, but this is part of the politics of Higher Ed.

    6. Anon for This*

      I had a colleague who had the most negative and toxic attitude of any person I have ever dealt with professionally recently promoted to full professor. It was tough to watch, because they are just the most frustrating colleague. Weirdly enough, students seem to love them, but man… when it comes to anything else, they are so hard to work with. Sigh.

    7. AnonAcademicLibrarian*

      I am so sorry this happened.

      I realize this isn’t really what you asked for, but the thing is- There are many professors in this world (unfortunately) who have been teaching the same classes the same way for a decade or more and regardless of what anyone tells them, they are not going to change. We all know professors like that.

      One of the biggest most toxic things about higher ed is that students leave after four years or six or whatever. So, there’s sometimes very little incentive to address student concerns. And unless you really want to go to war over it (you say yourself that you don’t think the professor is themselves racist or teaching racist ideology to students), than you did what you could do. And you helped a bunch of your colleagues transform their own classes- that’s a huge win.

      You have no power over the behavior of this particular colleague. You can say leadership should do something, but depending on how the tenure is structured at your institution, they might also have a lot less power than you might think. This is just a cruddy situation.

    8. Mad Harry Crewe*

      This is in the spirit of what you’re asking for, if not exactly the letter. I worked at an international travel company, and spent months acting as Product Manager (no pay or title, and on top of my regular job) on the Big Huge Update of our custom software. Multiple people told me they would have quit without my work making the tool usable, and I spent months reinventing wheels (because I am not, in fact, a product manager), getting stakeholder input, testing and reporting bugs, the whole shebang.

      For this herculean effort, I was recognized as Employee of the Quarter and got a $50 gift certificate and my name on the plaque on the wall. Yay.

      THE VERY NEXT QUARTER (!!), the owner spontaneously decided to award the Employee of the Quarter a trip (round trip airfare, 3 nights hotel to any of our destinations), and from there it was tradition that EoQ and EoY received a trip.

      I’m only a little bitter.

  56. Vodas*

    I’m a hiring manager for a small (less than 15 employees) company that delivers in-person services to customers in Europe. It’s very much a candidate’s market in our field and filling mid-level openings has been tough lately across the sector. What we’re finding is that we advertise the job, including the pay and benefits, someone interviews, we offer them the job, and then they come back with a laundry list of requirements that differ from what we’ve advertised. It’s typically not salary, but moreso not wanting to work the scheduled hours/as many hours as the vacancy mentioned, wanting more WFH than we’re able to offer (we have a blended working policy but because of our size and what we do the scope for WFH isn’t very wide), not wanting to wait the qualifying period for certain benefits to kick in etc. Our employee handbook and policies are clear, and what the candidates are asking for would be contrary to what our policies say.

    My issue isn’t really that they’re asking (we all have to advocate for ourselves in the job market) but that if we agree we’d create an unfairness and inequality between the newest recruits and our serving staff team (eg. Jamal had to wait six months for a benefit but Hannah got it right away, or Kim can only WFH one day per week but we let Rohan WFH four days a week because he wouldn’t take the job otherwise). I don’t want to create a culture where staff feel cheated they didn’t get something a newbie did because the market has changed so is there a good way to handle this?

    1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      Is it possible to actually open some of those benefits up to others going forward? Or make policy changes to the things like waiting for certain benefits? It might be worth rethinking why those wait times exist at all.

      Also, it’s worth figuring out if it’s actually unfair, or if it’s part of the nature of the serving staff team and the new recruits having different jobs (can’t tell from this if they’re all doing the same thing or not) that some can have more WFH than others.

      Is there anything you could offer to the more senior staff in the way of perks to help make up the differences? If the newbies aren’t asking for more money but more flexibility, maybe give some more money to the staff that aren’t getting the flexibility?

    1. Former Retail Manager*

      Yes, looks bad. However, I would simply list the name of the company, dates of employment and their HR department or employment verification phone number. I assume that you don’t want them speaking to your prior manager. Most companies are only willing to verify dates of employment and title these days anyway, so I wouldn’t be too concerned about anyone saying anything negative.

      1. N*

        Yes, I don’t want them to speak with my previous manager. I was fired for not meeting performance expectations (was going through a rough time in my personal life, and didn’t handle the stress properly). I’ve taken a couple months off to go over where I went wrong and correct my shortcomings. I’m ready to apply again, but can’t avoid listing my previous employer on some applications b/c they ask if I’ve ever been fired before. For the applications that don’t ask, I’ve been omitting my previous employer in my work history.

    2. AnotherLibrarian*

      Yes, yes it does. However, you can just list the name of the employer and the dates of employment and then a generic telephone number. It’s not usually for a true reference check. It’s just to make sure they can verify employment.

  57. SirBluebird*

    How do you all cope with the weird limbo between getting a new job offer and leaving your old job? I got an offer for a new job that’ll have me starting October 23rd to coincide with a specific training cohort, but that gives me a couple months to cool my heels in my current job, and I’m really struggling to stay motivated. I’ve already emotionally moved on to the new job, and everything bad or annoying about my current job is grating really hard, and my usual patience for nonsense is wearing much thinner. It doesn’t help that I’m pretty phenomenally burned out. I’ll be taking a few weeks in between jobs to recuperate, but in the meantime, how do I keep myself from going insane?

    1. rainyday*

      I started writing “NMP” in notes to myself all the time (for Not My Problem) and found it much easier to let the bad and negative things go – you don’t have to be invested in them any more. Just do what you need to do, prepare the handover, and make a chart to count down the days!

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Yes! One of my favorite expressions that I’ve yet to actually use IRL is “Not my circus, not my monkeys,” but SirBluebird, this is exactly the kind of situation it was invented for (well, one of them, anyway).

        1. SirBluebird*

          Oh my god, you’re both so right. It isn’t my problem, is it? How delightful! I work in a call center for a bank and my main gripe about it is that the bank is a small bank with a lot of redundancies and slow bureaucracies and way too much room for human error so my job is basically apologizing for things my coworkers have messed up and it’s unbelievably demoralizing to be like “yeah sorry I know it sucks. anyway, there’s nothing I can do.” But it’s very helpful to sort of disconnect my sense of identifying with the company during these awful calls!

          1. Slow Gin Lizz*

            Hahaha, if you can get away with it, you should tell all the callers that you know it sucks and that’s why you’re leaving. Hahaha, don’t actually do this, but you can hang up each caller and say to yourself “And that’s why I’m leaving.” NMP, as rainyday says.

        2. SirBluebird*

          Oh my god, you’re so right. I don’t need to care about our institution’s bad reputation and practices, it’s not my problem anymore. That brightened my day! (I work in the call center for a small bank, and it’s a lot of apologizing to people for embarrassingly simple mistakes by coworkers.)

          1. Jinni*

            Now I’m starting to think it may be my bank. I had an actual conversation that went like this.

            Bank rep: It was an arithmetic error by my colleague.
            Me: But your whole job is…arithmetic.

    2. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Oh, man, I feel this so much. I felt this 100% in the last three jobs I’ve left and I’m trying to remember how I’ve coped with it. It didn’t help matters any that the last two were jobs where I had to train others to do the tasks I’d been doing for four or seven years without a lot of redundancy (that is, I was pretty much the only one doing my job in both places). So I was a LOT more busy in the last weeks I was at those jobs, I was very much checked out, and also not interested in answering a lot of questions even though I knew that was the kind and professional thing to do. (The first job I quit, by the by, was a teaching job, so I was definitely burned out on answering a lot of questions, lol.)

      I spent my time preparing a lot of notes on SOPs and how-tos, training the folks who needed the training, and taking more downtime during work than I had previously, given that aside from training and documenting, there really wasn’t anything else for me to do so I felt that I could do a few more non-work tasks and not feel guilty about it. So if you have time, I’d recommend getting out for walks, longer lunch breaks, even leaving early if you think your current place wouldn’t mind too much (or ask your current boss if that would be okay, as long as you get the stuff done you need to get done).

      1. SirBluebird*

        I’m in a call center so I’m taking calls from clock in to clock out, with not a ton of wiggle room. However, I’m a wild overachiever who is always at the top of every ranking of stats, and I might just throttle that back since I’m not going to be here for raise time lol.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Oooh, yes, take your time on calls, ask callers about their vacations or pets, have fun conversations with them instead of just always hustling to get on the next call. Could actually be enjoyable! Do you have to train anyone to learn your tasks or are there people there who already know what to do? (As a former teacher I have learned that I actually also haaaaaaate training people, so that was by far the most stressful thing about leaving previous jobs.)

          1. Mad Harry Crewe*

            Oh yeah, make some small talk, ask how people’s days are going or what they’re doing for the weekend. It will actually help the people on the other end feel better about the issue they experienced (what a nice interaction, LocalBank really hires people who care) and it’ll make your days so much better.

    3. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      Maybe try thinking gleefully about how you won’t have to deal with this again in a couple months. Like “oh man, I am not going miss this!”

  58. overwhelmed*

    Wonderful AAM readers, I need your help- How to do I convince my manager that I am not- Distracted or Neglectful- I am OVERWHELMED?

    If I make a small mistake at work or miss a detail on a task, my manager is very harsh with her feedback and takes a remonstrative tone. I do make mistakes, although if I look at my tenure in this role, the number is not that much higher than previous years. Although, I’ve been a high performer for a very long time, never say no to a new assignment, etc. so I may have unfortunately trained her to expect a lot from me.

    I am struggling with some things in my personal life- heavy-duty health issues (if I wasn’t able to work remote, I would have already probably gone on some short-term disability), my disabled husband was laid off almost one year ago, etc. My manager has known about this for over a year. But lately she is very impatient when I request a sick day (given my health issues, it’s still a rarity for me to take off- working from home I can rest and then do my tasks late at night or early in the morning to make up the hours, these are all tasks that don’t necessitate other people being available) and she has basically asked me if I’m having menopausal forgetfulness (I’m not, but if I was I’m not sure I should have to discuss this with her- work stuff yes, but not my medical stuff). I’ve tried to gently push back when she gives me new work, but now she doesn’t even send things out to the entire team to ask who’s able to take it on. She only sends things directly to me (she might be doing this to other coworkers too) but when she handles it that way, I’m basically being told, not asked to do it. If I’m slow to get that work done, her response is that I said I would do it.

    When I’ve asked for her help at least prioritizing projects she shuts me down, says we’re all busy, and everything just needs to get done. It’s especially galling because she always starts these meetings saying, “what are you working on, what do you need help with”?

    I feel like she is building a case against me, not giving me an ounce of grace, especially when I feel like my efforts have been Herculean given what I’m dealing with. And I really, really want to get her to a point where we can reframe these instances for what I think they are- small, very rare mistakes, that while maybe unusual for me, are understandable given my current situation and not permanent.

    Thank you!

    1. ferrina*

      Your boss is a glassbowl, and you need to get out. Can you still go on short-term disability? If so, do that, and ramp up the job search.

      I’ve had a couple bosses that didn’t give a hoot about bandwidth. They thought my job was to do what they said, and it didn’t matter if what they were assigning required a time machine, an extra 10 years of education or certification, or required me to be Charles Xavier. These are not reasonable people. And you can’t reason with unreasonable people

      Don’t invest your precious energy into this person. Get out. Good luck!
      Side note- her insisting that you have menopausal forgetfulness may violate the ADA. ADA protects also protects people from conditions that other people assume that they have. If you think HR would help, you could loop them in. If that wouldn’t help or might make your boss vindictive, I might not bother.

      1. overwhelmed*

        Thank you!

        I’ve looked in to short term disability and if I can get it approved with help from one of my doctors, I would be eligible for up to 18 weeks at 100% salary, which if I got it would be very generous and could seriously help me improve my physical and mental health. So I’m looking in to it.

        I agree with you about the menopause comment and I had the same thought when she said it. The problem for me is she brought it up on a call with me where- she was clearly reading from notes posted just above her screen (which is not normal), she was very formal in tone (not normal), and kicked things off with a very amatuerish “compliment sandwich”. She’s a very green manager, with no good role models to follow at our company. The following week someone from HR joined our biweekly division call to introduce herself and specifically mentioned she was there to speak with if anyone had issues with their manager (I would never in one million years). So all that to say, I feel like she’d get a slap on the wrist at best and then she’d take it out on me.

        It did make me really, really wish I’d audio-recorded our meeting (it’s legal in my state).

        Thank you for your advice!!

    2. Ann*

      Not much of a manager there, I’m sorry… would it help if you asked for reduced hours? If you’re having long-term health issues, would you qualify for ADA protections so she can’t just fire you? Is there an HR to talk to?

      1. overwhelmed*

        Thank you. I’ve also considered temporarily going to part-time, which a different colleague in another department did do years ago so I know it’s possible.

        I have several concurrent conditions, only one of which would enable me to qualify for disability. (I’m basing this off of Social Security’s list of confit disability retirement, which may not be the right place to look.) Although I guess it only takes one.

        Thank you!

    3. WellRed*

      I realize she’s being ass already but are you sure it wouldn’t help YOU to take more time off rather than trying to power through and around the workload? Or getting disability or fmla? What you are doin sounds unsustainable and yeah, it sounds like she’s building a case against you so what do you really have to lose at this point(not trying to be glib. I know it’s tough).

      1. overwhelmed*

        Thank you. I agree, I’ve got to do something. I feel like I’m completely falling apart. Especially because my income is the only thing keeping our household afloat.

        I am documenting now everything, just in case. And if I can get a little breathing room, I also plan to start job hunting again. It will likely take me 9 or 20 months to find a job (estimate) because I am no longer able to physically travel (the one positive about covid for me was my work there all went virtual) and almost every job in my field requires travel. A management job might not, but it’s a little harder to land that kind of job when you haven’t had direct reports before.

  59. LBW*

    Mostly just venting! My (nonprofit) workplace doesn’t do comp time for salaried staff (ie our regular work day starts at 8am, and if you have a meeting at 7-8pm, you work a 12-hour day, and you don’t get to “make up” those hours – you just work more than 40 hours that week). In my interview, I was told that I would “adjust” my schedule when I had night or weekend meetings, which I took to mean that I would come in late or take the comp hours at some other point in my schedule. Turns out, they meant I would “adjust” my schedule to work 12 to 14 hour days. This is not normal in my field, at all.
    I really don’t mind putting in extra time here and there. But last week, I ended up working a 55-hour week, after a 50-hour week prior, and it really bothered me that I essentially worked 25 hours for free. We don’t get paid great here as it is, so I’m pretty annoyed with this policy.
    At least five of my coworkers have brought up this policy in conversation, since they know I’m affected by it (albeit much less than some others). One of my coworkers recently worked a 70-hour week, followed by a 60-hour week, and was still told she could not take any comp time. Her salary is pretty small as it is, so colleagues got irritated on her behalf. Our HR is usually good, but on this policy, they keep saying that comp time was “abused” in the past and they want to avoid it. I don’t know if I buy this – if it was truly “abused,” it would fall on the managers to ensure it’s being used appropriately. It sends a bad message on how they feel about staff – as one colleague noted, “If they really can’t trust staff and managers to appropriately manage comp time, why haven’t they fired all of us? That’s a pretty big trust issue.”
    If anyone has successfully pushed back against a policy as a group, I would love success stories! Like I said, I really don’t mind putting in extra hours here and there, but I feel like it’s getting out of hand for the pay that we get. Every person I’ve talked to has mentioned that no other organization in our field (that we’re aware of) disallows comp time, but I’m not sure if that point will go over very well with HR.

    1. Ginger Cat Lady*

      I’d say the comp time policy is being abused now. By the company!!
      They’ve set up a policy that abuses workers by expecting extra hours for free.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        That’s my read on it too. Since OP mentions the pay is not great and that’s a lot of hours worked, I second the advice to check whether you’re at risk of being below min wage per hour. If it’s not illegal, just highly irritating, I wonder if all of you can push back on the expectations of starting your day at 8 am when there’s going to be late evening work, or conversely decline meetings that are outside of your regularly scheduled hours.

    2. TechWorker*

      The policy is clearly rubbish, but I can see it might be hard to push back against. How much flexibility do you have in your regular schedule and who is tracking the time? If there was a day I was expected to be in the office at 8am and working til 8pm you can bet I’m taking a long lunch.. maybe not the best advice because it depends on your workplace, but are they actually tracking tightly that you’re doing 55 hrs of work? could you get away with doing some errands during ‘normal’ work hours in weeks you are busy outside of work hours?

      1. TechWorker*

        In other words it might matter less what company policy technically is and more what your manager will ‘allow’ you to get away with.

    3. Sloanicota*

      Hmm, I’ve never been able to use official comp time in nonprofit for extra hours worked within the work week, but I’ve pushed hard to be able to use it if I work weekends or official holidays (this happens a lot in my field). But what I do do when I have a hellacious week is just … quietly book some down time for myself (put a hold on my calendar for “catch up” and plan to take it easy) or book a Friday afternoon webinar that I’m absolutely going to do laundry/cleaning during (if you’re remote). I’d also take PTO leave for a half day or full day of mental health catchup (I use sick leave for this, YMMV) to ensure I don’t work over 40 hours that week. It’s Quiet Comp Time.

    4. Rick Tq*

      Did the long weeks for you or your coworker take you below minimum wage? That may be one way to get management to change.

      I’d also start silently adjusting my schedule directly. A night meeting that is expected to run to 9 PM means I don’t start working before noon, and take a normal meal break at dinner time.

    5. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      Are you all salaried exempt, and if so, should you be? Because one way to fix this would be for you to actually get paid hourly–you can be salaried non-exempt, and when that’s the case, you have to be paid overtime or comp time. If the org had to actually pay you all for those extra hours, they might rethink it.

  60. A small houseplant*

    I mistakenly answered one of the screening questions wrong on an internal job posting so my application went to the reject pile and that’s why I didn’t get an interview and this was sort of the dream job and I am having a freak out. Thanks for listening and please add supportive noises. I need to get out of the self hate spiral. (Also Yes Yes Yes No is a bad pattern to have thanks)

    1. Employee of the Bearimy*

      Ugh, that is the WORST and you have all my sympathies. I did something similar once (accidentally uploaded an old resume that didn’t have any of the experience that qualified me for the job I was applying for) and was just furious with myself.

      Any chance you can create a new profile with a different email address? That’s actually what I ended up doing with the above application, although it ended up not changing the end result in my case (my first application got auto-rejected but my second one also got rejected after a couple of weeks, so at least someone read it).

    2. LBW*

      Oh my gosh, Yes Yes Yes No is just *asking* for people to answer the last question wrong.

      Any chance you could reach out to HR and explain? Just a simple “I think I mistakenly answered a question wrong, so my application is inaccurate. Any chance I could correct the mistake?” It might not work, but it could be worth a shot!
      If not, try to give yourself some grace. I like to use this thought exercise: If your best friend, spouse, mother, father, or child had done the same thing, what would you tell them? You’d probably give them a lot of comfort and love, and understand that these things happen. Extend that same care to yourself.

    3. AnotherLibrarian*

      So, I have reached out to employers when I found out I had done these questions wrong and gotten my application moved into a different pile. Because you’re internal and you might know people involved, maybe consider reaching out? It might be worth it. The worst thing that can happen is they’ll say No. I’m sorry. This sucks.

    4. Donkey Hotey*

      Yup, that’s an easy one to rake yourself over the coals for. Been there, done that. It gets better, I promise.

  61. Only partly selfless*

    Tips for hosting an intern for a weeks unpaid shadowing type experience? This will be my first one to host and want to do a good job, the role is office based (though we have more exciting non office areas on site) and the student will be college age. I have a structured timetable mostly sorted which incorporates tours wherever possible, and each day has a clear theme and purpose. I also have some backup sessions noted down incase they get through what we have quicker than anticipated (or a session drops out), some common abbreviations noted down and some relevant job descriptions so they can compare the paper to the reality.

    Is there anything else I can do so they get the most value from what could be a very dull meeting heavy placement? (And also ideas so I get the most kudos-because I’m not totally selfless!)

    1. rainyday*

      These plans sound great, if only every workplace made this much effort when taking interns! All I’d suggest is a meeting with the intern on the first day to see what their expectations are of the placement, what they hope to get out of it, anything particular they are interested in – then you can make it a more individualised experience

      1. Only partly selfless*

        Good idea-the Monday happens to be very “set” so actually I could make changes during the first day to the rest of the week if needed. I’ve also just thought I might include some of our hypothetical scenario questions we use in interviews so they can see the type of issues we may face and have that in mind for their sessions.

        I would love to take the compliment but they have hit lucky really that my workload is in a slump for a couple of weeks so I have got the time to do it properly.

    2. Quincy413*

      (if the placement is only for a week, this advice might be tricky/less actionable)
      Is there anything accomplishment-based the intern could work on to make things more educational? (Ex. draft a blog post, or copy over a less important spreadsheet for them to follow along with you/learn a few Excel tricks). It might even be a good way to excuse them from a few irrelevant meetings too…

      1. Only partly selfless*

        I would love to but it is only a week and shadowing based only-they won’t have a computer assigned to them so my ability to give them something to “own” is limited. Though any ideas within these constraints would be very welcome!

  62. Employee of the Bearimy*

    I’m looking for advice from the commentariat on changing jobs when you’re at the executive level. I’ve been at my current company for a little under 10 years, and rose from middle management to C-level during that time. Now I’d like to make a change (preferably to CEO, which is the next step up for me), but I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to dealing with search firms for jobs (every other job I’ve had I applied for directly). I’ve had lots of 1st-round interviews but only advanced to the next round a couple of times, despite being careful to apply only to places/positions that I think are a really good fit. Any suggestions?

    1. dusty rose*

      What types of companies are you looking at? What are you bringing to the table?

      I’m not at that level, but there are very different types of companies and CEO plays a different role in all of them. Without experience it would be easier to get a role in a start-up, probably one that’s been around for a bit and is floundering. Your job would be to basically reformat the vision of the company to spin it to something that would raise money, and relatively quickly. The boards of struggling start-ups are looking to not lose their money, and clearly the current CEO isn’t (didn’t) working out, because the board is looking for a new one. I’d say either vague experience in the field or promises that you could raise money fast would be what the board is looking for.

      I suspect the chances of getting a CEO position at a better established, profitable, company are much much less.

    2. E*

      Maybe talk to a few CEOs at orgs of the size / profile you’d be interested in and ask them about their paths ? Particularly ones who you can see from LinkedIn or something came from the outside

  63. PregnancyBrainIsUnfortunatelyReal*

    Any ideas for a softer term than “idiot check”?

    I’m an early career software dev, and when I come up with an algorithm or design, I’ll run it by a coworker if I’m not certain that it’s the right choice or something about it doesn’t perfectly follow good coding/design principles. My coworkers will often do the same thing. Whenever someone needs to get that sort of a check, they’ll ask someone directly or put out a call in the group chat for an “idiot check”.

    Lately, with all the sleep deprivation, physical discomfort, and personal life shake-ups that come with pregnancy, I’ve been asking for idiot checks more often, and the term is starting to feel a little less humorous and good-natured than once it did. (Once a month idiot checks are good to keep you humble, multiple times a week just makes you feel stupid.) But I’m not sure what shorthand I can use. “Review” feels to formal, and I’m having trouble thinking of anything else.

    1. EMP*

      Review sounds fine to me, or “can I get a second pair of eyes on this” is what I often say. “Sanity check” has some of the same long-term connotation issues but that also comes to mind.

        1. The New Wanderer*

          I’ve grown to hate it too, so I’ve been retraining myself to say something like “second look.”

    2. Busy Middle Manager*

      Why do you need a special term for it at all? Just call it UAT. Even if it isn’t officially UAT? “Review” also isn’t that formal.

    3. Magpie*

      We just call them “code reviews” on my team. Using the word “review” doesn’t necessarily make it formal.

    4. TechWorker*

      Agree with ‘second pair of eyes’, or it’s a common turn of phrase where you are I might also use ‘gut check’