open thread – September 1-2, 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.

{ 838 comments… read them below }

  1. Murfle*

    This week while I was on vacation, two former colleagues of mine messaged me on LinkedIn to ask about getting a referral for open positions with my current employer. One of them, Jane, is interested in only one position, while the other person, Mary, is casting a wider net and is looking at 4 or 5 different roles.

    I’m happy to help, but here’s the catch: one of the multiple jobs that Mary is interested in is *also* the only job that Jane is interested in – and Mary used to be my boss a few years ago.

    Can I refer both to the same job? Can I refer Mary to multiple jobs, even if some of them are a step down for her? I wouldn’t mind working with Mary again, but I’d love to work with Jane again.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I don’t see why you can’t refer both, but I would recuse myself from advocating for one over the other.

    2. Rick Tq*

      If you can honestly refer both I don’t see any reason not to. You don’t control job offers and you are willing to work with both. Mary may not be that interested in OpenJob, it may be just another possibility to her. Jane seems to be more focused.

      Either way, you win by having good coworkers in the future.

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      I agree that you can do it. And unless you’re the hiring manager, you don’t know which one has more of the strengths they’re looking for.

    4. Sara*

      If they’re both right for the job, refer them both! One or both may not like the job the further they get into the process.

      1. Murfle*

        Fair enough. Do you think I should tell Mary and Jane (as individuals, not together) that I’m referring both of them for the one job?

        1. Ally McBeal*

          Not sure why you would, unless you’re concerned that they talk to each other frequently enough that they might figure it out.

        2. Barb*

          I had this happen recently and I just let each friend know that I was happy to refer them and I’d also referred another friend who expressed interest. In this case, they knew each other very well and talked about it later (neither got the job) so transparency felt like the best option.

            1. JSPA*

              Yes, this. “Another friend” is fine.

              And while you can’t tell them whom to hire, I think you can say, e.g., “I’d love to work with Jane again” and also, “I’d welcome working with Mary as a peer, as she was a good boss.”

              That is, you’re not telling them who to pick, you’re telling them that both people are solid for the role, and indicating that you would actively enjoy working with Jane while also welcoming the possibility of Mary.

  2. Elle*

    The letter today about the noisy conference reminded me of a few experiences I’ve had recently were I’ve been in a store or restaurant and had trouble being heard by staff because music was so loud. I felt especially bad for the waiters in the restaurant who had to repeatedly ask every diner for their order because it was hard to hear anyone. The retail experience made an already stressful shopping experience with my teens worse and we couldn’t wait to leave the store without buying anything. So who sets the music in these places? Management who are not on site?

    1. Picard*

      ooof dont even get me started on LOUD MUSIC in restaurants especially. My 90 year old fathers last remaining pleasure is eating out and 99% of the places we go have music SO LOUD that neither one of us can hear each other (well ok he’s totally deaf in one ear and 70% deaf in the other but still) I hate it.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I met up with a friend for dinner and the hostess sat us in a far back booth with the explanation that it was probably the quietest spot/furthest from the speakers. She also preemptively apologized that it was so loud which made me think a) they get complaints a lot and b) the staff isn’t allowed to do anything about it. I suspect whoever sets the volume requirement is not on-site so it can’t be escalated to them at the time. Fortunately it wasn’t as horribly loud as other restaurants have been, but this trend of unreasonable volume levels has got to stop.

        However, I have been to a dozen professional conferences and never had a volume problem like the recent OPs described, so hopefully it’s rare that conference planners are that oblivious about sound levels. I would have been absolutely miserable and also would have walked out. For a conference, I fully expect there to be some kind of comment card/post attendance feedback option and I hope those planners got an ear-ful.

      2. Makare*

        Omg our office manager always puts on loud music at our work events where we’re just trying to chat with each other, and it drives me nuts—I work with mainly Brits and Europeans, and we frequently speak German together as it’s the office language (I live in Germany), and between different accents and the fact that non-Americans are so much quieter, in general, (plus our event space is not the best acoustically) I have a terrible time. Last year at a vendor party it was so bad for me that when I finally found a Canadian in the room, I just latched on to her because I could actually hear her! At the last party I was standing near the speaker, and I finally just turned it down myself. Got several appreciative comments from my colleagues, too, so it’s not just me. Like, we’re here to socialize, not dance!

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        I despise loud music in restaurants, particularly because the latest style of decor is bare cement walls and floors, making the sound echo and bounce around off every single surface. Can’t hear a damn thing.

        1. RagingADHD*

          That’s the thing – acoustics can make even reasonable volumes unworkable.

          Of course, there is such a thing as mixing sound so that the frequencies don’t overlap with the human voice. A lot of newer TVs have a setting to do this automatically. It’s usually called “dialogue enhancement” or something similar.

          I have no idea why restaurants that apparently care enough about ambiance to dictate the music don’t care enough to make modifications like this.

          1. The Shenanigans*

            My pet theory on that is that restaurants are being controlling. THEY want to create the ambiance with the music and decor, and food. They don’t want YOU to create an ambiance with conversation, laughter, and all the things that make sharing food in public actually enjoyable. Sigh.

    2. Ann*

      I feel like I read somewhere that it might make people order more/eat faster because they can’t think straight with all this noise. If that’s the reasoning, it’s very short-sighted. I might clear the table faster in a place like that, but I won’t be back and won’t recommend it to anyone. But places where you can sit and chat without being hassled? I’ll be back with friends or family next time we have an occasion.

      1. datamuse*

        Yes, there were a few articles about it pre-pandemic–I think one of them was in the Atlantic. I guess I get the logic and maybe they don’t want customers who’d rather linger anyway, but the thing is–I spend a *lot* on eating out and can afford to be choosy, and if they don’t want my money then I don’t want to spend it there.

        I feel bad for staff at these places, though. That has to suck to work in for a full shift.

    3. SansaStark*

      We had the same issue for a fine dining restaurant where I used to work and would frequently get asked to turn down the music. Unfortunately it was set by our 20-something manager who didn’t seem particularly bothered that staff & everyone over the age of 35 wanted it turned down a notch or two.

      1. English Rose*

        I was explicitly told once by a young waiter that I was only asking to have music turned down because I was too old and it was a place for young people. I was with a client of similar age at the time (we were both around 40!). I guess it was a good tactic because neither of us ancient crones went there again.

        1. SansaStark*

          Wow, that’s really awful. My restaurant actually did cater to an older (more affluent) and business crowd so it really didn’t make any sense at all. A business dinner doesn’t really need a “lively” atmosphere at 6:00pm on a Tuesday.

        2. circlecitybelle*

          Oh holy smoke. I would have asked to speak to the manager right then and there. I’m 66 years old and my money is just as green as it was when I was “young” (whenever that was), and I have more of it to spend now, including on gratuities. You don’t have to kiss my feet to get a good tip, but if you insult me or judge me by what you think my age is, you will not get the best tip you could have gotten.

          1. Carol the happy elf*

            My money is the same shade of green, honey, but my tip dollars glow and sparkle if the music isn’t so loud it scares the poor little things to stay in my wallet. (BTW- I always tip in ones, and extra tippage when there’s a coupon or discount. The value of the coupon goes to the servers.)

        3. Angstrom*

          If the target demographic is young people, I get it.
          What I don’t understand is when the business is clearly targeting an older demographic and the music is jarringly inappropriate, in both volume and selection. It often appears that the 20-something staff is choosing music they like with complete disregard for their customer base.
          Kids these day, I just don’t know… ;-)
          One can’t entirely blame the staff — management ought to be paying attention.

          1. Golden Silence*

            As someone who works in music, my experience with people who turn up the music too loud in a business setting can be because they have some hearing loss already (super common in musicians who gigged before in-ear monitors existed or people who hunt or shoot firearms or young people who listen to music at high volumes-especially with headphones, or attend a lot of concerts).

            It’s one of the difficulties I’ve had with putting on events and shows-having people complain it’s not loud enough to hear; but the decibels are actually at a safe range and if I turned it up to where they wanted it it would be dangerous for the majority of people.

          2. amoeba*

            Yeah, no. My 20 are not that long ago and I’m 100% sure I never enjoyed that kind of sound level in any place where I actually want to have a chat! Concerts and clubs, absolutely, give me loud music. But I’m not dancing at dinner, I’m trying to have a conversation, and that was the same 10 years ago.

        4. ReallyBadPerson*

          Even when I was young, I hated loud music. Hated it! I would only go to outdoor concerts for this reason.

    4. Alex*

      I’ve noticed this at my gym’s fitness classes–the music is SO LOUD. People have literally left in the middle because their ears were in pain. The instructor refused to turn it down.

      1. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

        I had to leave one because of ear splitting music and strobing lights. I wasn’t expecting headache inducing lights at 9 am

      2. Rara Avis*

        I REALLY don’t understand this in an establishment where the goal is health. (I wear Loop ear plugs to exercise classes because the music is always too loud.) I guess ear health/hearing is disregarded. My gym even has the electronic ear that flashes red when the volume is too loud, but it just gets ignored.

        1. ReallyBadPerson*

          I drove a friend to a doctor’s appointment earlier this week. There was a TV in the waiting room that was so loud I had to stuff tissue in my ears. An older woman asked the receptionist to turn it off (it was on some intellectually vapid show about lottery winners buying houses), and she told the woman she was only allowed to turn it down. A sign under the TV warned that no one was allowed to change the volume or the channel. Why would they have a TV at all, and why must it be loud? This isn’t a restaurant, where there is an incentive to turn tables. You are trapped there until your appointment is done.

          1. datamuse*

            That’s awful. My gyn’s office waiting room is very quiet–they don’t even want you using cell phones in there, which I appreciate. It’s very pleasant.

          2. Pennyworth*

            If the sign didn’t say anything prohibiting turning it OFF I would have done just that, and kept the receptionist so busy handling my complaint about the volume that she wouldn’t have had a chance to turn it back on.

      3. RagingADHD*

        There is one particular class at my gym where the music is so loud you can hear it everywhere. On the floor with the machines, in other classrooms, in the locker rooms, there is no escaping it. It’s so loud it drowns out the music in my headphones. And it’s the kind that uses environmental sounds like whistles, sirens and crashing, too. Nerve wracking!

        I complained at the desk a few times, other people complained, and nothing changed. I finally just changed my workout schedule. I can’t imagine why management didn’t do something.

        1. linger*

          Noise loud enough to discourage clients does seem to fit with the typical gym business model of enticing people to sign up for memberships that most will then underutilise, thus maximising profit while minimising overhead.

    5. Beth*

      I’ve been at so many events, bars, and restaurants lately where the music is just deafening. And then it gets even louder as it gets crowded, because these are social spaces, and people are having to shout to be heard over the music…and once one person is shouting, the person next to them has to shout even louder to be heard over them…and suddenly the entire space is impossible to have any kind of conversation in. I don’t get it! My hearing is fine, I’m not against loud music on the whole (I know it’s bad for our ears but it’s still fun on the dance floor), and it’s still loud enough to drive me nuts and become a general topic of frustrated conversation. Why??

    6. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I have had the same problem at weddings. Why? I don’t know. But I feel like in 4/5 of the ones I’ve attended last year, we will have gotten to the reception area, everyone starts cheerful conversation, and… someone turns on the speakers. And next thing you know you have to shout to make yourself heard. I don’t understand how this is something that people enjoy. It really ruins the whole experience for me and I usually go home early with a headache.

      1. TechWorker*

        I went to a wedding last year where the band were.. invested in being Important Musicians – apparently they’d ended up leaving an earlier wedding because they refused to turn the volume down when asked. I think one of them was friends with the groom, not sure why you’d choose that otherwise! It was deafening.. they were playing in a side room with only a smallish opening to the main dining room, but it was still so loud that a lot of us ended up hanging out outside instead. Once you were outside with a few thick stone walls in the way the music was just about the volume you’d want :)

      2. New Mom*

        Oh yes, I keep earplugs on my keyring for that kind of situation. I was a music major and started doing it in college to protect my hearing at parties. I hate…events, haha.

    7. bird bird*

      former wait staff at loud restaurant!
      – yes sometimes off site management (which is bananapants but so is much of working food service)
      – sometimes control of the volume/sound system is inaccessible to floor staff (so only a senior manager could do it etc) and it’s not common to have a senior manager in every day
      – sometimes it’s just a bad sound system and that’s the quietest option!

      1. Elle*

        Great information! Thanks. I’ve often wondered how miserable staff are in these places and how much control they have in the situation.

    8. Ahnon4Thisss*

      And it’s not even just the music, its how the restaurants are set up now, too. My partner and I have been very disappointed the last few times we’ve gone out because we can barely hear each other over the talking of other diners and the music. Every time we’ve had this problem, it’s restaurants that have booths with low backs, or all regular table seating that is super crammed together.

      We like to go out once a week and we’ve been avoiding it because it is barely quality time anymore.

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        For some interesting comments about restaurant noise levels, may I suggest going through Tom Sietsema’s chats. He is the restaurant reviewer over at the Washington Post, and his Wednesday chats are fascinating to read, even if you live elsewhere and are not a foodie.

        1. Employee of the Bearimy*

          I was going to suggest that as well! He also includes noise levels in all his reviews, which is terrific and more reviewers should do that.

    9. Lalaith*

      There’s a bar in NYC (at least I hope it’s still there) called Burp Castle where they purposely maintain a low noise level. Every once in a while, when conversation starts getting a bit too loud, the bartender will go “Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh,” and everyone quiets down. It’s lovely.

      1. Juicebox Hero*

        Unfortunately, the last time I was there (2018, I think) they don’t enforce the “whispers only” rule anymore. At least there still wasn’t music blasting.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        It’s said that the UK pub chain Wetherspoons was founded partly to uphold the principle of not having any music (I thoroughly tested their mettle and got kicked out of one in my teens for singing). It is extremely popular even as many traditional pubs fall by the wayside; apparently the founder decided on the policy after reading an article by George Orwell, which claimed that a perfect pub would be free from any background music. My local spoons was also quite forgiving, fortunately.

        1. Pennyworth*

          Fun fact about Weatherspoons for those who aren’t familiar with it – the name is from a New Zealand geography teacher, a non-drinker, who told founder Tim Martin that he would never succeed in life.

    10. Yet another Heather*

      I am the on site coordinator for a series of events my employer holds at a specific location each year. We moved to a different hotel several years ago. Last year we started having problems that the music in the common areas was set so loud that it could be heard* in the conference rooms. The person who handled our event booking apologized and was able to turn it down, but also shared that the district manager would come in and measure the decibels of the music in the lobby, halls outside the conference rooms, etc. and make them turn it up! So wild to me that the DM tried to limit them from accommodating their guests.

      *A big chunk of our event is silent work time for participants, so to be fair we may be more sensitive to the noise than some others who book with them. But still!

      1. Elle*

        Why would they want it so unpleasantly loud?!? That’s crazy and seems self defeating. I need more info on this.

    11. Quinalla*

      We actually had to leave a restaurant last year because it was way to live. Their music was particularly loud, but they had concrete floors, metal walls, ceiling was also hard, hard surface. It was so loud I was already getting a headache after sitting there for 2 minutes and knew I’d have a migraine if we stayed. It was terrible!!

      Went to one movie since COVID and not doing that again, the sound was SO LOUD, ugh!

      1. Carol the happy elf*

        I have had to go into the Ladies’ and take paper towels, (sometimes toilet paper, and- once- that seat cover tissue) fold it and roll up a ball and get it wet to stuff in my ears.
        I have used a dusty kleenex (purse pocket) and paper napkins from a burger joint. The beige napkins are less obvious than toilet paper sticking out of my ears.
        Getting the paper wet, then squeezing out the excess works best for muffling noise. I can still hear the movie dialog; that’s too loud as well.

    12. JR*

      When I worked at Abercombie in the mall a million years ago, my impression at the time was corporate dictated everything about the music. Certainly, the playlist was set by corporate; my understanding was that they determined the volume as well. (Though maybe the store manager could have changed it? Whoever opened the store must have been turning the music on…) Moms used to come in and tell us we were damaging our hearing. We were all 18-22 or so and didn’t care!

    13. Artemesia*

      I’m old and many of my peers including my husband are growing deaf. We are moving away from gathering in restaurants for this reason and are now taking turns hosting dinners or take away meals or potlucks in our homes to socialize. We recently went to a new Spanish restaurant and the music was so loud it was like being at a rave — we just turned around and walked out.

      but at conferences? I never encountered this and it is appalling to have this in a professional setting.

    14. Budgie Buddy*

      I always wonder whether the people who insist on music turned up to full volume 100% of the time feel on edge or in pain in a silent room. That’s what they’re asking of other people – take immediate defensive measures such as earplugs, or be in pain for an extended amount of time.

      Do they believe they suffer more in a silent environment than others do in one that’s painfully loud, or is that pain just a kind of weird and uncool pain that doesn’t really count?

    15. UKDancer*

      I went to see one ballet at Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London earlier this year and they actually provided ear plugs on request because the music was so loud and had signs up saying ear plugs were available. I mean I’m not sure why the ballet choreographer and artistic director thought that a ballet needed music so loud that it was uncomfortable (also discordant).

      I just don’t get why people want the volume as high as that. Needless to say I won’t be going to that ballet again because even with ear plugs the music was so loud and unappealing.

      1. Elle*

        This is another example of making the experience unpleasant on purpose. I just don’t get it. You’re pushing away paying customers.

  3. Jess R.*

    Happy Friday! Let’s talk work joys! I love hearing the things that are going well for you or are bringing you happiness at work. Here’s mine:

    At work but not about work itself — We had birthday celebrations for the month of August yesterday, and I came in to see our front desk admin had put up balloons over my desk! And even better, instead of the cake we usually have for birthdays, we had a selection of ice creams!

    About work — I have mentioned before that I had a *huge* pile of stuff left by my predecessor. As of today, I have whittled that pile of 100+ items down to 2, both of which will be resolved in the next 2 weeks once some stuff external to me happens. I cannot *wait* to remove that entire dang sheet from my Excel to-do!

    1. Kimmy Schmidt*

      We had our student research symposium yesterday and I got cake and got to learn about so many cool topics!

    2. DJ advocate*

      I just came back after reduced summer hours and everyone is excited to have me back! I gave my first all-staff training and even though it was the last training after a week of PD, everyone participated and said it was helpful.

      1. DJ advocate*

        and I just went to the staff appreciation picnic where several people approached me, without promoting, to say they really enjoyed my training and found it helpful!

        1. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

          I have this schedule and it’s *amazing*. If I ever leave this job (and I hope I don’t anytime soon), I will have to negotiate this because it’s a life changer.

    3. Irish Teacher*

      First week back at school went really well.

      In particular:

      I got my first choices for substitution hours. The situation is that we have to be available to cover for teachers who are absent for four of our free classes each week (we don’t end up covering more than one or two most weeks, sometimes none) and we have to list all our free classes in order of preference and I got my first choices. They include the final two classes on Mondays, so now I can go home at lunchtime on the Mondays I am not needed for cover, and the last classes on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Last year, I was on first class on Mondays and Tuesdays, which meant I had to be in in case anybody called in sick last minute.

      I gave a talk to the staff on a curriculum we are introducing for students with mild to moderate learning difficulties and it went really well. A couple of colleagues told me afterwards that I had been very clear and it was really helpful.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        We also got ice cream. The school had an ice cream van for the new 1st years and we had some ourselves as well.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      I was new to this job last year and I’m really excited that I’m starting to settle in and feel competent. I also have a new coworker this year that I think I’ll work well with – the previous person in the position was more experienced and a huge help in some ways but we didn’t really vibe personally.

    5. NothingIsLittle*

      My birthday was also this month and we had a kid’s event scheduled for that day. I’ve been saying I had 300 people come to my birthday party! And the kids were all polite and well-behaved, so it was a very pleasant event.

    6. English Rose*

      Is it too mean-spirited to count the departure for another company of a really difficult colleague??

    7. No Longer Gig-Less Data Analyst*

      We have a very large customer who is extremely unhappy with my employer. There are many different divisions that we deal with, and I specifically work with one in my role as a Project Manager. My boss told me yesterday that the division I work with is the only one who gave us high marks in a recent review, and specifically called me out as “outstanding”. I was both pleased and relieved to hear it, because an Account Manager who worked with another large division was just let go for poor performance that caused a good bit of the customer’s unhappiness.

    8. NoName*

      I came back from three weeks leave on Monday and my report had left everything in great shape for me, had even accomplished some tasks earlier than anticipated (I.e. got 100% of people to submit something they are very very inept at submitting, 1 month prior to the deadline!). And according to the shared email outbox he is very much into his upcoming tasks and went above and beyond.
      And I had an email confirming a raise I had asked for! And I work in the public sector where this is really uncommon!

    9. Zephy*

      I’m in higher ed, on the admin/clerical side. Classes started for the Fall semester this week, so last week was orientation/move-in/etc. It was the smoothest Fall start we’ve ever had – our office never had much of a line, I had a few students come in but honestly I spent most of last week playing Sudoku rather than running around like my hair’s on fire, which is closer to what prior year Fall starts have been like.

      1. Zephy*

        Also, while typing this comment I got a text from my mom – she was laid off from her event-planner job at the end of June and was just offered a new EA position that starts in two weeks, so yay mom!

    10. MM*

      I had a difficult HR-related situation that has been a perpetual thorn in my spine for 2+ years. As of this morning, we are officially moving forward with separation plans and I can consider this resolved! Such a huge weight lifted off!

    11. Buffy*

      I enjoy having a really convivial relationship with my team even though we’re all remote! There’s a lively friendly Teams chat with lots of memes/jokes and sharing from our lives and interests, and we have an optional weekly retro meeting with themed questions (like what super power would you have, what’s the one thing you would invent if you could create anything, what’s a tradition your family or friend group has that you enjoy) that’s popular enough that even if folks aren’t available to come to the meeting, they’ll go to the chat later to leave their answers/discuss other’s responses. After reading about some of the social angst in AAM questions and struggles with connecting as a remote worker, it just makes me happy to have the team I do.

    12. Engineer*

      My work has been very sweet since I limped into work on Monday in a boot (injured ankle couple months ago, rolled it over the weekend, so boot for at least next 6 weeks). Our receptionist went ahead and got me a temp handicap placard for our parking lot and my boss has given me permission to work more days from home than typical. And my team has already come up with a plan to take on a little extra of my work so I can go to PT without worrying about my upcoming deadlines.

      I really wasn’t expecting much at all so I’m just touched that everyone is being so sweet.

      1. KittyGhost*

        Its great that your company was able to get you accommodations and your team is working with you to get through this. Foot injuries are hard enough without adding bureaucracy into the mix. Hope your recovery goes smoothly!

    13. Rara Avis*

      My team lead organized a gathering for our compatriots on different sites, many of whom had not seen our new site. It was fun to hang out.

    14. KittyGhost*

      I’ve had a ticket sitting open with our software team for a month and a half to get me the software I need to actually do 75% of my job. I called again to check on it and the helpdesk rep submitted an escalation to his leads. Maybe three hours later I got an email notifying me the software was pushed to my account. I didn’t expect things to move that quickly after the escalation and I’m thrilled.

      Less work related, but my doctor prescribed me Ajovy for my migraines! Everything else I’ve tried so far as been at best expensive candy and at worst has made things significantly worse, so I’m hype to try something with an actual shot of working. (hehe shot, because its an injectable) I’ve already got the first dose and I really hope this is the breakthrough I’ve been needing.

    15. PrettyRocks*

      I’m looking for a new job, but one of the things I do like about my current workplace is being able to talk walks during the day on a pretty college campus. We have lots of trees, and there’s a lot of variety in the routes, plus there is a campus kitty that says hello to me (and gets lots of pets) whenever I go out.

    16. NeonDreams*

      How happy I am with the job overall. I get to do something I love to do (writing) and it gets me out of my shell. My social anxiety is still hard to deal with, but it’s okay. I get to leave feeling like I’m happy with my contribution to society.

    17. Junebug*

      I started a new job in January. Just looking back on that helpless, useless feeling at the beginning of any new job and contrasting it with feeling competent and an integral part of the team now is a huge joy!

    18. allathian*

      I’ve been getting great feedback from the internal customers I serve in my job, and I really appreciate it that they take the time to tell me and my manager how much they value my efforts.

  4. Grateful Mentee*

    How to show appreciation and gratitude for a work mentorship when it’s all virtual?

    I’m taking part in a formal work mentorship with a senior leader at my company. It’s been 2 months and it’s ending soon. I really appreciate the time we’ve spent and all the learning and skills I’ve developed and I’d like to thank my mentor for her time and enthusiasm. But how to do that when we’re based in different locations and it’s all virtual besides just thank you? She works remotely. An e-card seems too simple but a real card mailed out seems too much when I don’t know her home address. Any ideas?

    1. Elle*

      Do you know who their supervisor is? A nice email to the supervisor, CCing the mentor, is a great way to show appreciation.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      In your situation, I would go with a thank-you email that spells out some specific advice she gave and some specific ways her mentorship helped you in your job/career.

    3. Jess R.*

      I think a thoughtful email is best here. You could mail a note to her office location if she ever works in-office, but honestly, it’s the content that matters, not the format. An emailed note expressing your gratitude is plenty and is totally lovely. (Plus, emails are easy to save and look at again when you need a little pick-me-up.)

    4. Policy Wonk*

      Write her a nice thank you letter, include examples of what she did that was so important, sign and send to her. (I recommend print/sign/scan – a real signature is more personal than an e-signature.) I have a file in my desk drawer of all the meaningful thank yous I have received over the years.

    5. Laura Charles*

      What a real card mailed to the office? I’m always going to remember a paper card more—especially at work—and since you’re grateful for a work thing, mailing to work is 100% appropriate.

    6. inv*

      Giftcard sounds like a good idea, are there any establishments she enjoys that you could get her a gift certificate to?

    7. Kiki Is The Most*

      Years ago, my mentee sent a thank you letter like the ones described here that cc’d my boss. That meant so much to me (still have the email) and then sent a bottle of wine to my office. It was not a virtual mentorship but the wine was a thoughtful touch.

    8. Awkwardness*

      I see no problem in asking for an address: “The last months meant a lot to me and I would like to send you some personal greetings as a thank you. Where should I send them?”
      She can give her address our tell if she would prefer the company address.
      Maybe a nice handwritten card and some food? I always like if a business present is about local food (handmade snacks from local company, food typical for your region, special drinks, whatever) or has a packaging that says “Thank you!”

  5. sam_i_am*

    I think I’m getting close to ready to leave my current position. There’s an open position on another team at my workplace that I’m interested in. Since I know the hiring manager, I’m thinking about asking her to coffee to discuss the position and my qualifications for it, but I could use any advice on approaching the invitation to coffee/a meeting, questions to ask, and anything I might be missing here.

    I’m not 100% sure I’m qualified for the position, but I can’t tell if that’s imposter syndrome or a real assessment of myself, but I’ve worked with her team before and they seem to think I could do the job.

    1. Elsewise*

      I’m in a similar position moving to another team! I sent an email telling my contact that I was interested and would love to know more, and would she mind taking some time to chat with me about the job. The actual meeting wasn’t particularly stressful (the person I was meeting with is the supervisor for this position and is SO NICE), but I made sure to ask her what she was most looking for in a candidate, if there was anything I should know that wouldn’t be clear from the JD, and what sorts of deliverables and KPIs she’d be looking at. We also talked informally about some of the people I’d be working more closely with on this new team.

      Good luck!

      1. sam_i_am*

        Thank you for the advice! I’ll also see if I can get a copy of the full internal JD, since the one listed online isn’t as illuminating as I’d like it to be.

        It’s good to know the meeting wasn’t stressful. I have anxiety so I can build these things up in my head.

    2. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      You don’t have to be 100% qualified for the position before taking it, and you definitely don’t have to be qualified before talking with her.

      “I’m interested in your x position, would love to get your thoughts on the details of the role and how suited you think I’d be for it”

      “What is the day to day like? What are the critical quals? What is the promotion potential/long term trajectory (if you’re interested in that)”?

      1. sam_i_am*

        The qualification I’m worried about is that the job might need machine learning experience, which I’ve only had in one class that I didn’t think was a particularly well-run class (so I didn’t learn as much as I would have liked). But I should definitely not get too in my head about that until I’ve confirmed what’s necessary on that end for the position.

    3. Magpie*

      You should read your employee handbook. A lot of larger companies require you to talk to your manager first if you’re considering applying for another job within the company. If your company requires this, it could cause some political problems for you if you reach out to the manager of the other team without notifying your current manager.

    4. inv*

      I think you should go for it and talk to the manager. Sometimes it’s not about having the exact set of skills, it’s about getting along with everyone else on the team.

      1. sam_i_am*

        I looked a little closer at the internal hiring guidance, and it looks like I need to be in my current position a couple more months, but I think I’m going to try to talk to her in the next month or two about my fit.

    5. Synaptically Unique*

      When I’ve had open positions, around half of the internal candidates have reached out to me for a discussion before they submitted an application. In some cases it’s kept them from wasting their time applying for a role that isn’t a good fit or won’t pay enough. In other cases it let me skip the initial screening call and send them straight to the panel interview. Can’t hurt to reach out. And I wouldn’t worry too much about the time thing. Depending on how quickly the job selection process goes, it could easily take a couple of months to get hired.

    1. Yes And*

      Are there any quick wins you can give yourself? Tasks you can initiate, see through to completion, and check off your list? I find that always helps me.

      1. GingerNP*

        This is a great idea – I definitely will add things to my to do list just so I can cross them off. It allows me to see what I have accomplished, which sometimes can help with the funk.

      1. Angstrom*

        Can you do something physical that’s job-related? Even if it’s as simple as cleaning your space, moving boxes, making copies, etc. you still have a tangible accomplishment.

      2. KittyGhost*

        +1. My daily walks during WFH are so hardcoded into my system that my neighbor’s dog knows when I do them.

    2. powerball*

      Ironic mantras. Lol. Whenever I’m having a bad focus day (hello ADHD), I just repeatedly think “Actually, you are focusing very hard and feeling great and taking care of everything you need to get done!” It feels eye-rollingly silly, but somehow it helps me snap out of spiraling.

      1. Sassy SAAS*

        We used to repeat the phrase “love my job, proud of my work” a few times during those moments when you reeeeeally don’t love your job. Helps to get rid of the annoyance at the current, usually bonkers, situation, and would make us laugh a bit.

        A walk, a lunch/snack break, or working on something totally not work related for a minute usually help! I’m WFH so I might go unload the dishwasher or something mindless, just to complete SOMETHING.

    3. Our Lady of Shining Eels*

      When there used to be a pet-store nearby, I would go there on my lunch break and just look at all the animals! Fish are very mesmerizing and soothing to watch.

    4. ina*

      Take a walk outside, stare into space outside, take a few deep breaths, and I hate to say it, force yourself to smile and say “Actually, this isn’t as bad as it could be! I can still do XYZ today and be done with it. I can work a little slower. Work doesn’t *need* to be stressful. TGIF! I’m ordering pizza tonight!”

    5. Zennish*

      A cup of tea and a few minutes watching the Cornell University bird feeder cams at Allaboutbirds . org :-)

    6. WorkNowPaintLater*

      I take my 15 minute break (like I’m supposed to…) and take a walk out of the building. If it’s been a really tough day, I’ll add a stop for coffee. If neither of those is a good option, I’ll at least go find a window to stare out of for a few minutes.

      And virtual hugs to you.

    7. Ann Stephens*

      Watch Panda Cam (Smithsonian Zoo in Washington DC) or Otter Cam at the Monterey (California) Aquarium.

    8. Kiki Is The Most*

      I always look for one of my work friends for a laugh, a treat, a hug, or my favorite “no, you’re not crazy” pep talk.

    9. Buffy*

      Get away from the computer and do something physically disruptive (stretch, take a walk, lay down on the floor or shower if remote) ideally paired with a mindfulness or anxiety release meditation on my phone. If appropriate, complain to an outside friend.

      1. Agnes*

        Pick out the task you hate and have been putting off, and do it. (You’re already in a bad mood, right? Why let it spoil a good mood?)
        Worst case, you’re still in a bad mood and bad task is done. More likely, you feel better because you’re no longer dreading bad task.

    10. Anonymous Tech Writer*

      One day a friend and co-worker said “I am SICK of my job…so I’m going to do my job!”

      I’ve done the same on awful days ever since– put down the urgent bit of chaos wrangling that’s on the top, and do something *I* know will be important in the long term, something that *I* will benefit from having done, and that is on my tasklist if not at the top of the hamster wheel.

      sometimes I just let myself write run-on sentences with bad grammar and no punctuation and pretend I’m don marquis

  6. Chanel Oberlin*

    I’m a few months into a new job as a senior level individual contributor in a marketing role. My coworker, “Boone”, was a junior level contributor and we both reported to “Chad”. Boone was fired last week due to poor performance, he had been with the company for around 5 years. I was very surprised, because from what I saw it’s been very obvious that Chad is way out of his depth and unsuited for his role after being moved into his role last year. As I’m currently in the onboarding process, Boone and I were collaborating on shared tasks, without clear ownership, although I’ve begun taking the lead on certain projects. It’s clear now that I’ve inherited a mess, and I’m a little worried. I’m also nervous at how Boone was fired because it seems like most of the issues stemmed from Chad’s management, although I have no idea what the actual issues could be and I can’t say Boone is blameless.

    Chad was moved into this role when he had no experience with this type of marketing. As of now, he still seems out of his depth and has no idea how to look at things or understand how the moving pieces work, even at a high level of what he should be recognizing or communicating at his level. Every week Chad, Boone and I discussed our priorities and what we’d be working on for that week and Chad was assigning Boone tasks, so I’m thinking, why wouldn’t you communicate to him what he should be doing if he was focusing on the wrong things? Apparently Chad didn’t think Boone was growing his skillsets, but how was Boone supposed to advance if Chad never provided feedback or direction? Especially if Chad didn’t have direct experience with our type of marketing?

    We’re hiring for Boone’s replacement and I’m worried how much I’ll have to do in terms of training. Chad “trained” me, but most of it was me figuring it out for myself, Chad’s been unable to explain direction or strategy. I’m worried that he’s going to push the training of this person on me.

    I wonder if Chad’s boss, “Dean” recognizes how out of his depth he is. We’re actually in the middle of a fire drill right now because something wasn’t caught about a month before I started (and has been going on since). It’s something Boone should have been managing when the issue started, and something Chad should have caught right away. Now that Boone is gone, it’s all on me now. Dean has emailed Chad a few times about it the past few days and Chad forwards the emails to me. All the stuff I say in the emails is stuff I’ve already mentioned in the emails or discussed with him. I’m wary because is he going to shift the blame or ownership to me for this and going forward?

    How should I navigate this?

    1. Picard*

      CYA. EVERYTHING memorialized in emails. Any conversations are followed up by an email saying “per our conversation”. Its really all you can do I think.

    2. Busy Middle Manager*

      I’ve successfully pushed back against Chads in this situation but your big problem is that you are new.

      You don’t have history or capital to expend yet. Once you get some wins under your belt, you can start grilling Chad on what HE is doing or delegating stuff back to him. But if you’re new and in the same department, I think you need to do the work

      Sort of a “lose the battle but you’ll eventually win the war” thing

      Know that there is most likely stuff Chad is still dropping the ball on that will eventually bother his boss. Don’t think that just because you clean up one mess, that chad is now safe and secure for years

    3. Lilo*

      I wouldn’t say anything to your grand boss as that can backfire really badly. I agree with documenting everything.

  7. Marketingmadness*

    Anyone ever worked for a marketing agency? How does it compare to in-house? Trying to compare two opportunities, but I’ve never been agency side.

    1. Sambal*

      I spent many years at agencies. It’s much quicker-paced, (imo) more stressful, and high-level thinking than an in-house role. Also you deal with clients who care about getting more “value” out of you and your work than in-house. But, it is pretty cool to have a bunch of different projects in different industries with different goals. You also learn a lot in a short amount of time, which might be nice if you’re trying to beef up your resume.

      But, in my experience, there’s a lot of disfunction within many agencies. I would go in very wary of the dynamics that might be going on in the org.

      I would personally never do it again, but I do see the value of spending a year or two at one.

      1. Marketingmadness*

        I’m in the “two small kids” stage of my life, so maybe the less exciting in-house role is a better option for me!

      2. Miette*

        To add on to this, a big pro of working for an agency is that you’ve got just the one piece of their business you’re working on and you’re not responsible for the entirety of their branding, PR, etc. If you’ve ever wanted to ditch that side of things, then I say consider it–it’s strangely liberating!

        That said, one thing hard to get used to for me was switching my brain over from thinking about Project A at Client 1 to Project Z at Client 2. It got easier, but was quite frustrating at first. Of course, that would only count if you were working on multiple clients and different types of projects. I have colleagues who only do one thing like SEM or social media, so switching from one client to another is no biggie, but I was in a situation where I was going from working on event logistics for one client to writing a marketing strategy for another, and my brain was like, “LOL, no.” (The pitfalls of being a Jill of all trades).

    2. Yikes on Bikes*

      Not marketing, but marketing research. Most of my career has been on the agency side with a brief stint on the corporate side. While the agency side can be more stressful in terms of deadlines, etc, the culture fits my personality much better than the corporate side does. Corporate was very predictable in terms of hours, etc, but way more stringent on things like “butts in seats” at 9am on the dot, whereas my agency side jobs were more flexible. Plus all the bureaucracy that comes with a large company. Plus a LOT more politics than I was anticipating.

    3. JR*

      I don’t work in marketing but in a pretty closely related industry and have been both in-house and on the agency side.

      Agency side: You learn so much, so quickly, by working on a range of projects. Everyone at the firm is in your industry, so you have a lot of people who are about the same things you do, whom you can learn from, who will be professional colleagues later in your career, etc. You are in a revenue-generating role, which may or may not be true depending on how your in-house role is structure. (My role was very much a cost center in-house.) In my experience, the whole company tended to be made up of people who are more focused on career and professional development, learning, etc. Longer hours, MUCH more deadline driven, leading to higher stress levels. Having a range of projects keeps things more interesting but also more hectic.

      In-house: Basically, the reverse of the above! So much less deadline driven, which generally translates to lower stress. I had to train myself to realize that not every email going out has to be 1000% perfect, that deadlines were (often) about getting work done in general and thus were movable, etc. – at an agency, all of that is part of how you convey to your clients that you’re excellent and reliable, so not having that pressure is great. You’ll likely be surrounded by more people who are there to earn their paychecks, as opposed to build their careers – whether this is a pro or a con is very specific to your goals and stage of life. While you’ll have fewer professional peers (in your area of the company – of course, this depends on the industry), you’ll have the chance to learn about other functions, etc. People stay longer-term, so you may be able to build longer-term relationships. Not everyone at the company will value the work you do, which can be frustrating – you may be reliant on those people to accomplish your goals, but helping you do so isn’t necessarily part of their goals/what they’re measured on.

      If you’re early in your career, I’d encourage you to strongly consider the in-house role. Building a client-services orientation has been incredibly valuable to me (if not ideal for my stress levels – it raised my standards as a professional and really drives my ability to be successful now in mid-career, even in non-client services roles). Building that pattern recognition and industry expertise from having multiple clients and (in my experience, might not be applicable) doing a lot of research and benchmarking work was invaluable.

      But the two small kids thing definitely gives me pause. I did independent consulting in that stage, so similar work, but I did it less than full time. It was totally doable, but I wouldn’t want to have had the experience I had working at an agency in my early 20s while in that stage. But I was only ever entry-level while working in an agency – you might be entering at a level where you’d have more control, or where you’ve just gained the professional skills (and desire!) to set better boundaries.

    4. Karo*

      Currently work at a marketing agency after spending most of my career in-house in very small departments! All things being equal I lean towards working at an agency, but YMMV.

      Agency Pros:

      This is the first time in my career where I’ve been part of a profit-center instead of a cost-center, and I feel like that changes how you’re treated. I’m applauded for doing my work instead of asked for ways to cut it back. (Note: I’m sure the people working directly with the client are asked to cut stuff back all the time, but that’s not my job).
      I work with people that speak my language and I can bounce ideas off of, instead of having to turn to strangers on reddit to talk through things.
      I get to specialize in what I’m good at instead of trying to be a jack of all trades.
      Much more relaxed culture. I’ve worked for some great bosses before but they could still be rigid. I’m currently sitting in a bean bag while working and I have stickers on my laptop.
      Your bosses are more likely to also be production or have been in production, so they’re more likely to have your back if you say “I can’t do this in the time allotted.”

      Agency cons:

      You’re billable, so you have to account for every single moment of every day. There’s no writing off 15 minutes or clocking out early because it’s too late to start something new – you start that new thing and then have to redo it all the next day because you’ve forgotten where you were.
      Very cost-conscious. They spend money on making sure everyone is happy at the office, but not on things like trainings.
      There’s an intense pressure to do as much as you can in as little time as possible so you can prove your worth to the client, so if you don’t have good work-life boundaries, you’ll wind up working on your own time and writing it off.
      Standard tasks will typically have standard times allotted to them, but that means if you go over your time budget you better have a damn good reason why.
      You’ll have to estimate your budget for non-standard tasks. I don’t know if this is an ADHD thing, but I have literally no idea how long it takes me to do anything so this is my biggest detriment.

    5. avocado*

      Context: I started my marketing career at an ad agency (was there for about 2 years), and have been working at my current in-house marketing role for about 2 years now. To be specific, I work in media planning/strategy/performance marketing.

      Agency Pros:
      – Insanely fast paced. You’ll learn SO MUCH in just one year. I started my role with just one (very big) client, but even with just one client, I had multiple campaigns across multiple channels going on all at times. Projects and client fire drills are flying at you left and right. I found that I often took on responsibilities beyond my role just because the team didn’t have enough bandwidth, and certain tasks just needed to be done. The scope of work was so broad that it really forced me to learn at a quick pace, which leads to the second point:

      – Quick promotions. Because you can gain so much experience within 6 months – 1 year, you get promoted pretty quickly. If you can’t get promoted within your agency, it’s fairly easy to get scooped up at a competing agency for a higher level role. [Caveat: Things might be different now given the impending economic downturn. Lots of agencies are doing layoffs]

      – Opportunity to work on different projects & with different clients. This will depend on the agency you work at but generally speaking, because big agencies will have multiple clients, you can hop around to different accounts (aka clients) and gain experience within different verticals. It almost feels like starting fresh at a new company (in terms of the terminology used & experience gained) but without the hassle of interviewing for a new job.

      Agency Cons:
      – Low pay. For the amount and hours of work you put into the job, the pay is incredibly low. I was shocked by how much in-house roles pay for the EXACT same job. But imo, the low pay is also why you get promoted so quickly within agency.

      – Long hours. I found myself constantly chained to my desk purely because of the workload even when WFH. Even when I was done with my tasks for the day, there’d be pings coming in from colleagues and fire drills from clients. During peak busy times, it wasn’t unheard of to work from 8AM-10PM and to work on Saturdays as well.

      – Lack of flexibility. This applies to both the types of projects you work on & how you’re allowed to manage your time. The clients will dictate what sorts of projects need to be completed and when, so not a lot of flexibility there. The other thing is the copious amount of oversight from upper management in your work. For example, our junior media planners will complete a routine monthly billing workbook, which is then reviewed by the senior media planner, and then also reviewed by the manager. Once the manager approves, the junior media planner emails it to the client with the whole team on CC. If the client has questions about it, the team goes through this whole process again. It’s a lot of back and forth in double checking each other’s work before something can go out to the client, which I recognize is important but adds a lot of extra work for the team and limits how much independence you can have.

      – Social work environment. Agency life is really big on fun social events, whether that be internal happy hours or outings (dinners, weekend trips) with your vendors and clients. There’s a real sense of camaraderie especially amongst agency colleagues, built primarily through the OT hours you pull together + the subsequent fun happy hours you get to enjoy. I feel like most people would put this under Pros, but I’m a big homebody (and drinking wrecks my body), so I’m classifying this as a a Con.

      Working in-house has been the completely opposite of agency life. I basically do the same tasks, but am paid almost 50% more, have great work life balance, and have lots of flexibility with how & when I do my work. You’re still responding to higher level stakeholders, but you are much more involved in the decision making and strategy. I’m fortunate to work at a company that’s open to innovation & experimentation, so having the ability to test out different marketing strategies and not be confined within what department leaders want has been really crucial in growing my skills and knowledge. With that said, I’m still really grateful for my time in agency, as I would not have gotten my current in-house job without the agency experience.

      TL;DR Agency is great for starting your career, because it gives you all the skills and experience you need in a quick manner, but imo I don’t think that lifestyle/lack of work life balance is sustainable in the long run.

  8. Ariel*

    I need help! (who doesn’t?)

    Earlier this year I took a new job that promoted me to leading a small team. I love my new company and this role, but I’ve never gotten any kind of training on management and leadership, and I’m struggling to navigate both new work situations and my own feelings on them.

    For instance, I mentioned to my boss that I was feeling a little useless by not doing tasks and just delegating so much to my team, and she said that’s how leadership works, everyone feels that way at first, and that I’m doing a great job. Cool. I had no idea because I don’t have training or a support system on this.

    My company is too small to have internal management training, but I feel like I need something. Can anyone recommend resources or support spaces around this online? (In addition to here, obviously)

    1. Rubies*

      Congrats on the new role! No suggestions about training (AAM is my main source!), but your comment about feeling a bit useless/delegating stood out. As a manager, you will help yourself if you can shift your mindset on achievement a bit. If your team is doing their work well, that counts as *your* achievement too. Not in a horrible “I’m taking credit for their work and doing nothing” kind of way, but more that one of your tasks as a manager is to allow your team to thrive. Set them up so they have clarity on their work, the resources to do it, and the environment to want to stay and develop at the company. If they then do great work, that is partly because they have a great manager and you can feel proud of yourself for that.

      1. A Person*

        Yes! My boss is great at pointing out that if the team is doing a good job and running smoothly that reflects well on me.

    2. Busy Middle Manager*

      Are you leading a team you worked on before, or another team? IMO it becomes organic after a while so can I tell you my approach?

      1) Figuring out a certain amount of individual contributor work that is very messy, or has been going wrong for years. I don’t automatically pass all stuff along, but do use some as stretch assignments
      2) Eventually you start having issues (or opportunities) with other departments. Your people start complaining about things like other departments’ lack of responses, doing things manually that can be automated, or not seeing obvious upsell opportunities, for example. Which leads to conversations and meetings and usually a push and pull with other departments because in general people can be resistant to change
      3) Training – doesn’t happen in the beginning but my month six or twelve, you’ll see patterns that need to be addressed
      4) Arranging difficult or just high level conversations. Do two people just not get along? Is someone taking forever to do basic tasks? Do you need people to cross train eachother so they can go on vacation and have coverage? Is the team looking for words of wisdom about general direction?
      5) Annual reviews. Start mentally prepping months in advance. If someone needs extra training or is going to ask for a big raise, prep them and your boss three months beforehand

      also unless you are really high up, I think it’s no longer normal to delegate everything. That is very 1980s style management. If you feel guilty, you might legitimately be over-delegating. Everyone at my rank I know does at least half a day of higher-level individual contributor tasks. A full day of just managing is maybe at the Director level or above but even they have to do reports and come up with strategies and new products etc

    3. Lissa Evans*

      See if your local public library offers access to LinkedIn Learning – there are a lot of great courses on there about both leadership and management.

    4. TPS Reporter*

      meetings: do you set up enough frequent times to talk to each team member individually about what is going on with them, if they have any questions, how to support them? to check in on the task you delegated? do you also have times with the whole team to relay current topics and provide them an opportunity to ask questions? You could also make time for team members themselves to present on something they’re working on that could benefit the whole team.

      delegation: do you have a strategic plan for what you delegate and why? what kind of support do you give to team members following the delegation?

      audits/oversight: how do you review the team’s work? do they take everything to you, or do most things on their own? if the latter, can you set up spot audits and then discuss the results with the team member at their regular check in?

      goals: do you set immediate, medium and long term goals and check in on them on a regular basis, either to revise, change or add based on current circumstances and priorities?

      metrics: do you have a way to measure your team’s performance and track results over time? if there is not a way now can you work on one?

      Other managers in your department: do you have time with them, to go over how they do their job and commiserate on common issues? and talk about how their team interacts with yours, and go over any issues if applicable?

      trainings: are there are conferences or other trainings in your field where you could get guidance from other leaders?

    5. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      The job: Make sure you understand how much of your job involves individual contributions (reviewing your employees’ work, etc) versus organization and admin. Expect the big-picture stuff of management to be a major part of the role, though when you first start getting to know the personalities and capabilities of your team is likely a bigger part of the job than planning and direction (unless you were brought in specifically to overhaul things).

      Managing, generally: Some books that could help: “The Making of a Manager” (Julie Zhuo), “The First 90 Days” (Michael D. Watkins), if you are a woman try “How Women Decide” by Theres Huston … and AAM is truly a great resource, start thinking about every letter in terms of how you would approach the situation if it were your employee. Even if you aren’t dealing with the same kinds of issues, it really does help you to get into the mindset of understanding what is and what isn’t your responsibility as a boss.

      Goals: for your staff, set clear goals and assess whether they are reaching them, and hitting whatever benchmarks they need to on their way to those goals. Look for the same thing from your manager. What is your team responsible for and are you getting it done. Ask everyone you know what advice they wanted in those early days.

      Peers: Whether at your organization or through a professional organization or in your personal life, find other people at a similar level to you that you can problem solve with. It really is the best way to learn and to help you understand where you need to be in a given situation. Your peer group is different than it was before. Finding a few people to be in your corner and work through problems is everything.

      Cut yourself a break: In my case it was at least three months before I stopped feeling constant anxiety about my role as a new manager, and a good year to settle in fully. Give yourself time, it’s about the biggest work transition there is.

    6. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      One more thing: As a manager, how you shine is by letting your team shine. The accomplishment of the group is what matters. Their success is your success. Changing that mindset from when you were an individual doing your own work also takes time but it can be extremely rewarding.

    7. inv*

      One of my coworkers did a training at a college for a certificate. Could they send you to a training for leadership, or something similar?

  9. Back to School*

    Does anyone here have a master’s degree in public administration?

    I’m returning to school to finish my undergrad in communications and am considering going on to grad school. I’m currently in a program through my job that will ultimately qualify for six credit hours toward an MPA. I’m debating between the MPA or an MA in communications, so I’m planning to take electives during undergrad that would support both of those grad programs (in addition to designated pre-reqs, of course).

    Any recommendations for electives that would be a strong foundation for the MPA?

    Thanks!

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My grad school’s MPA program required a certain number of electives (4 or 5 I think?) in a particular category. Since I was actually going to grad school for an MBA, without having had a business background in undergrad, I had to take a year of graduate-level business pre-reqs before I could start the MBA program, and as it turned out those were one option for the MPA elective set (since they didn’t actually count toward my MBA).

      I had originally been planning just a 4-class PA certificate along with the MBA, and when the instructor (who was also the MPA advisor) found out my situation, he told me that between the business classes and the certificate I was already taking, I only actually needed one more class and a comprehensive final to actually have the full MPA, so I figured why the heck not.

      Any rate, all that to say, I would suggest business courses are a good elective choice for most career plans. :) Right now, the pre-suggested “elective packs” for the MPA programs at my school are criminal justice, information and communication technology, social issues and policy, and urban planning, or you can work with an advisor in the school to select your own.

      1. Back to School*

        Funny you should say that. One of the pre-reqs is economics, and it made me ponder taking additional business classes. Thanks for the recommendations!

    2. MPP*

      I got an MPP, not an MPA, though at my school they were very intertwined and most of my electives fulfilled the requirements for either degree. On the communications side, most of my master’s coursework was related to things like policy memos, which is a very specific type of writing that can be difficult to transition into if you aren’t used to it, so if you can find an undergraduate elective to introduce you to this style of writing, I’d recommend that. I also took electives on crisis communications, so things like press releases, talking points, etc., which I imagine fall across the MPA/MA in comms spectrum, so I’d look for any courses with that component.

      I would say that in my experience, which is mostly government, political and non-profit (with the occasional overlap), an MPP/MPA degree is really not necessary and can actually hinder you depending on your career path (because you end up seeming overqualified), so I just want to put that out there. Your mileage will obviously vary, but you should make sure you have a solid plan of how you intend to use your degree before getting any master’s.

      1. Back to School*

        This (last paragraph) is a good point, and thank you for bringing it up. That’s part of why I’m still considering (but not married to) the idea of grad school. I’ve been working in government for many years and am looking at two different-but-entwined future paths. A master’s would be not required but beneficial for both. And good to know about the policy memos!

        1. Hillary*

          It might help to map out what you want to do with it. Are there roles that you want but need the paper?

          You mentioned business classes – enough finance & accounting to understand budgets, depreciation, etc. can be enormously helpful in managerial roles.

      2. fine tipped pen aficionado*

        Yes! I mean, absolutely make the best decision for your interests and needs and you should go for it if you want. But if your only interest is making yourself a more appealing candidate for a government position, I have a BA in Communications and have worked myself up the ladder from a Seasonal position with no prior professional work experience to working with our City Manager. In one of the administrative roles I had, I was chosen over another candidate who had gotten an MPA specifically to step up from her current admin role.

        There are so many passionate, knowledgable folks in government, but there are also plenty of hangers on and if you’re generally pleasant to be around, have decent judgment, and have any amount of initiative, you can get pretty far even without a Bachelor’s (depending on your location).

        As MPP said, your mileage may vary and if the MPA is something you’re excited about do not let us stop you! But if it’s only a resume thing, just make sure to give it some extra consideration. :) And good luck!

    3. Sparkle Llama*

      I don’t have an MPA but my grad school offered them and I have a related degree. I would highly recommend Econ and research methods and/or stats (needs to teach you stats or SPSS). Those were prerequisites for most programs, but may not be for the MPA. I had to take microeconomics at a community college before starting grad school (or take it from the university over the summer for way more money). I had stats so I was able to avoid taking that required class.

      1. Micro prof*

        I teach at NYU Wagner, and I second this. It’s relatively easy to fulfill the requirements for the more quantitative classes with outside course work, so you can free up more credits with electives. Take other courses if they interest you, just be aware you may not get any official credit for them when you enroll in your MPA program.

    4. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      I also have an MPA!

      I highly, highly, highly recommend the MPA over the MA in Comms, ESPECIALLY if the program is at a university that has some notoriety. (Which, if it’s being specifically marketed as an MPA vs an MA or MS in Public Admin, is likely. The accrediting for an “official” MPA designation is pretty rigorous.) It is just more versatile and transferable.
      One of the things I really liked (at least about my program) is there is a lot of skill crossover with general business/MBA, but with an MPA you have more of a focus on managing programs that don’t have financial bottom lines.

      I don’t disagree with what MPP said below – if you’re already in government/on a trajectory you’re happy with, you won’t necessarily need it as a mid-career person (it is great, on the other hand, for more recent grads to get a foot in the door through internships and networking if you don’t already have a good trajectory in place), BUT I would also say read the room. The program I attended – which is both local to me as well as well-respected – has a LOT of alumni who work in the government sector.

      1. Unkempt Flatware*

        MPA here as well. Best choice I ever made. Great education. MA in comms would be the lesser choice, imo. I use my degree every day in my role as a planner. You can do so much with it.

  10. Reed Weird*

    Why do recruiters email work emails?? I’m looking for something new, so I put my LinkedIn profile as “Open to work”, and my personal email is listed in my profile. I just got an email from a recruiter in my company email with details on a possible position, noting in the first line that they came across my LinkedIn profile! I can’t understand why someone would see a promising candidate’s profile and instead of A) messaging directly on LinkedIn or B) using the email listed on the profile, go directly to C) guessing the company’s combination of first/last names/initials for their work email!
    I’m reasonably certain no one’s paying enough attention to my emails to notice, and the position is interesting so I did respond from my personal email. But why? Why skip two easier contact methods in favor of the one that might get a candidate’s job hunt noticed by their employer?

    1. HA2*

      My guess? It’s an automatic system. They have some form letter that they send to a bunch of email addresses automatically generated from people’s linkedin profiles. It’s an indication that the person never even read your profile, and wasn’t sending a personalized message, otherwise they would obviously go with the easier options.

    2. TX_trucker*

      Do you have your work email associated with your profile in any way – even on the back end? I have a nonsensical “throw away” email address that I basically use for newsletters and any thing that potentially can become spam. That’s the email I use for my LinkedIn login. Even though my work email address is super easy to guess, I still get recruitment emails at my obscure email address that I thought was a secret. My guess is that recruiters can somehow purchase that info.

      1. Reed Weird*

        No, it’s not anywhere near my LinkedIn. I made the profile before I started here, and I keep all my personal stuff off my work email. The only email I’ve ever used around LinkedIn is my personal one.

    3. I'm just here for the cats!!*

      Is your work email anywhere on your LinkedIn profile? If it is I’d remove it. Is your work email public knowledge, that might be how they find you. However, it has been my experience that those emails are usually spam and phishing attempts.

    4. CheerfulGinger*

      This one was new for me – I got a text message from a recruiter based on my LinkedIn profile. My phone number is not on my profile, but I did give it to LinkedIn as a way to recover my account. They must be selling that information? Very frustrating!

      1. But Not the Hippopotamus*

        I have gotten text messages for people with my legal first name and my pre-marriage last name. I haven’t used my legal first name in over five years and my pre-marriage last name in over twenty… they were for someone with that name in a different profession. This taught me that recruiters are using multiple sources for data and combining them (not always well).

    5. JustaTech*

      I don’t know why they do it, but some recruiters are worse and call your *work* phone to offer jobs.
      One time a senior colleague left to work for another company on the other coast. A few weeks after he left I got a phone call from a recruiter there asking if I was interested in moving. “No thanks, why are you calling my work phone?”
      And then I watched as the recruiter called literally everyone on our floor (we got very few phone calls so it was really obvious).

      Even better is the recruiter calling people at my office about jobs at our company. Like “Are you, Senior Teapot Manager, interested in a job as entry teapot manufacturer?”

    6. SnappinTerrapin*

      My cynical side notes that, if you lose your job, you might be more desperate to accept a new one. I doubt they are thinking that far ahead, though.

      Maybe they think you’ll be impressed at how thorough they were in finding your work email address, and they have probably had a lot of prospects ignore their messages through the more obvious channels.

      Again, too clever by half, as my Grandmomma used to say.

    7. Jinni*

      Most of my friends get recruiting calls at work. (Professionals on the website: atty, docs, accountants, etc., so their direct numbers are listed). No one I know associates those calls with ‘looking for work,’ but more, ‘recruiters be recruiting any way they can.’

    8. Nightengale*

      They may be lying that they came across your profile and are just sending that same message to everyone they are messaging.

      I made a linked in account over a decade ago so I could read an article someone sent me. That was 3 jobs and a different state ago and I have not logged in or updated it for years. I don’t even know if I have the password written down somewhere. I got a spammy thing last year from my current city about something prestigious sounding for women in my field, referencing my linked in profile. But nothing in my profile would suggest I lived and worked in my city! I am 100% sure they got my name and e-mail off a list somewhere and reference linked in to make it sound more legitimate. Since most people have a profile that has been updated in the past decade, most people probably wouldn’t have noticed it’s spam. . .

      1. Elinor Dashwood*

        I have gotten the same email from that same group three times! My work email is nowhere near my LI profile, but they claim they got my info from there. They also get my job title wrong, which is correct on LI.

        I figured it out after some digging: my work had a newsletter with my name and an incorrect job title published in the archives of the website, which is available via Google search. I got the person who manages our website to take all of that down and removed my information from the company website in any public-facing way. I still got two more emails.

        I just block and move on at this point.

    9. fhqwhgads*

      The recruiter is scraping your email and autoblasting. They’re not choosing you intentionally after looking at your profile. It’s basically spam.

  11. Kiko*

    Looking to commiserate… has anyone ever been at a role where it took them forever to get you your equipment? I’m crossing 4 months at a new job and haven’t been given my laptop. And yes, it’s a computer-facing role. My boss knows, their boss knows, etc. But nothing can be done. Sigh.

    1. Tea Kettle*

      Not nearly as long as yours (oof, that stinks by the way), but I went from a contractor to a direct employee at a job and didn’t even switch any equipment but with creating and removing the different accounts I had two weeks where I couldn’t log into my computer. Literally sitting at the same desk and everything, had to try to do trainings on things I already knew since it was the same role just paid differently.

      1. FlyingAce*

        I had this happen too! My company was acquired by another company a few years ago; they are now finalizing the process and a month ago I was “laid off” from Old Company and rehired at New Company. Apparently that triggered an automatic account termination request; computer access was sorted out the next day, but VPN access took about 10 days (and I work remotely, so I need the VPN for pretty much everything), and it took 3 weeks to get my full Office license back.

    2. mreasy*

      Four months??? How are you doing your job? If you’re using a personal laptop, can it “break down” and be no longer available for use? This is egregious. A week would be bad.

    3. numptea*

      I’ve never gone that long without equipment, but I have gone months without getting to do more than surface-level work because the roles are highly regulated and training was only being held intermittently (for a minimum number of attendees). Have you been twiddling your thumbs for four months?

    4. Dovasary Balitang*

      At my current job, it took them eleven weeks to get me my laptop. In my experience, IT prefer to hoard hardware like little hardware goblins and will spit acid if you try to, you know, equip yourself for the job you were hired to do.

    5. Marketingmadness*

      Oof, it took me 8 weeks to get a new laptop. I had to get IT to state the current laptop didn’t work, see if the department admin had any spares, and then get approval from our C-suite officer.

      I work at a company that SELLS laptops. Internal bureaucracy is the absolute worst.

    6. Goosey*

      I spent three months teaching an asynchronous online course without a login to access ANY school resources – the class roster, the learning management system where the class should have taken place, nothing. There were like two weeks left in the term when I was finally properly onboarded.

      It took some VERY creative combination of Google properties and old-school BBcode forum building to make a functional class with no resources and without violating privacy laws for students.

      1. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

        This is INSANE. Just INSANE. And I say this as a former adjunct who jumped through (what I thought were) all the hoops.

    7. Ann*

      I asked for a laptop last year and waited for several months. I did have a work computer and a personal laptop at home (very old and slow), so maybe IT felt it wasn’t urgent. Still, a bit surprising that a fairly large company can no longer just order laptops as needed. I don’t even know what they were waiting for…

    8. Not my real name*

      It took 9 months for me to get my actual desktop when I started this job. It was here – it was even in my office, but the IT guy was too busy to set it up so I had a crappy old laptop to work with.

    9. inv*

      it takes people forever to get access to software where i work. we use a software to message the docs and getting the password when i started took a while.

    10. Malarkey01*

      It took 6 months at one job to get me a desk. After 3 days I cobbled together 3 of the short 2 drawer filing cabinets and put my desktop monitor on it and used the top drawer for my office supplies.
      I won an award that year as the Company’s #1 Problem Solver……. At 23 it didn’t seem THAT odd or bad.

    11. talos*

      I used to work at a well-known manufacturer of work laptops that sometimes wouldn’t send new employees a work laptop for 2-3 weeks after they started

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I relocated for a job setting the branch of a company in a neighbouring country, and I think it was getting on for 6 months until we finally got computers. Head office didn’t seem bothered that they were paying us to do nothing.

    12. KittyGhost*

      Geez, and I thought the month and a half I spent without the software I needed to do 75% of my job was bad. Bureaucracy is the worst.

  12. Chidi has a stomach ache*

    An unexpectedly large shortfall in our discretionary funds as my org (and NGO) plans for FY24 means that we’re looking at layoffs for all US-facing divisions within the next month. Since I’m so new, and my role is new (<7mos old), I'm trying to brace myself for the worst. Good vibes appreciated.

    Here's actual questions: 1) this was my first role as a Llama analyst, after making a change from being in high ed/secondary ed. It took me about 8 mos of job hunting to land this role. Will having this role, and getting laid off so quickly, help, hurt, or be neutral for a future job hunt as a llama analyst?

    Question 2: I've trying to get stuff in order — evidence of achievements, positive feedback, etc — for a new resume cover letter. When I was job hunting 7 months ago, it was really common for my role to request work samples ("please include a sample of a report you wrote"). The work I've done in the past 7 mos would be *much stronger* samples than what I was using before (which was from my PhD, so not directly relevant to industry). But they have data that I don't have ownership over, like qual data from our llama groomers, etc. Reports I've written anonymize individual data, but they would include information about our internal systems. There is a policy about not sharing that info in public spaces (eg, linkedin), but nothing about keeping copies for personal portfolios/so you can talk about them accurately in future interviews?

    Those of you who have been in research positions before, how do you figure out what you can use from previous jobs when you need to look for a new one?

    1. SnowyRose*

      For us (nonprofit association) it depends on the funding source. Grant-funded? The final product is public and you can keep the final report in your portfolio. However, other organizations can contract with us to do assessments and unless the work has been made public by the client, we cannot share it or retain it for personal reasons unless we have permission. The draft materials and research data belong to my association, and the final report belongs to the agency that contracted us.

    2. I'm just here for the cats!!*

      Not knowing exactly what your industry is I wouldn’t worry too much about having recent samples. You can always explain that you cannot provide something from this job because of the company’s regulations on sharing reports to outside companies.

      As far as being laid off, I don’t think that will hurt you. People realize that companies will often lay off those newer employees. Also, if this is an organization that is known in the industry/your loction they may know what happened and won’t be surprised. You wont be the only one to have been laid off.

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        Agreed, similar orgs in your field will understand the confidentiality barrier, so even halfway decent hiring teams will understand that you don’t have anything recent to share. And also agree, lay-offs are neutral.

        Who are these reports going to? Are they internal, to a donor, something else? Some donors (like government funding) will publish the reports their grantees submit.

        1. Chidi has a stomach ache*

          Thanks folks! The grant/non-grant distinction is helpful here — this is all internal work, and not grant funded. So there is probably an expectation of org privacy. I’m a little bummed though — the quality of the work I’ve done here is much better and more likely to be compelling to other NGOs than my dissertation.

          But honestly, mostly I don’t want it to come to the point where I need to use this stuff at all.

    3. EMP*

      I would err on the side of not sharing reports. I might keep a copy for my own reference so I could accurately describe them. IME there’s an expectation of not sharing internal info like that during job searches because even if the customer data is obscured, the internal system is a potential “advantage” for your previous company that they don’t want shared with competitors.

    4. Beth*

      Maybe ask your manager about the possibility of using reports as work samples? The silver lining to layoffs is 1) if you get laid off, your manager will know that you’re job hunting even if there’s a severance period where you’re not gone yet, and 2) even if you get laid off, it’s not a reflection on you or your work–your manager has every reason to like you and hope you end up somewhere good in the field. That’s a situation where you can probably just ask straight-up and get a clear answer.

      1. Chidi has a stomach ache*

        I might try this (if it comes to it — fingers crossed it doesn’t). Maybe I can get some version of the work with any proprietary stuff stripped out. My manager has been very positive and impressed by all that I’ve done, even in just 7 mos, so I’m sure I would not only get a strong reference, but he would be willing to help (as he can).

  13. Whyamihere*

    My companies reorganization is happening today but we have nothing yet. No layoffs but I am not sure if I want to stay under the manager I highly suspect I will be under. He is being demoted and there is a very good reason why. I will not sign the new contract if my pay is reduced but they are causing so much worry by not getting it over with.

    1. Whyamihere*

      Update we are not finding out until next week our roles, my entire team is in chaos and one of my co workers left and no one knows where he is

      1. JustaTech*

        I’m so sorry. Surprise re-orgs suck, but the ones where they leave you to dangle in the wind are the *worst*!
        My mom once worked in a place where they let people know a re-org was coming 18 months before they did it, and shockingly all the good people left or retired.

        Hopefully your coworker just decided to start the holiday weekend early?

      2. Chidi has a stomach ache*

        Not quite the same, but I feel this. My division was just warned to expect layoffs (not a total reorg), with a clear deadline of Sept 14 (when our FY24 budget needs approval). The waiting is agony.

    2. Another academic librarian*

      Best advice in this kind of situation I got was from a book Congratulations You’ve Been Fired- its dated -before email and internet use was common BUT, the basic advice still holds.
      Don’t panic.
      Make a plan for time off if you can- did you always want to travel? Is Brandi Carlyle playing in a city you want to go to?
      Copy and save on your home computer work product that will be useful to show in the future interviews.
      Copy and save work email addresses and contact information for net working.
      Update your resume.
      Get your co-workers contact information.
      Make sure you have a clean copy of your present job description.
      Keep track of “other duties assigned”
      DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING.
      That is the only leverage you have.
      Explore out-placement services.
      Look at your savings and have a spending plan if you are laid off.
      Start looking at job openings now.
      Start networking now.

  14. Tea Kettle*

    I recently got promoted at work to supervise a team doing the same work I’d been doing but in a different division. One of the people on the team was also eligible for the promotion and didn’t get it. He’d been at my previous level for longer than me due to advancing more quickly because he had an advanced degree that I didn’t have at the time but do now. Overall though, I have more experience but maybe a year less experience at that level. Now I’m his supervisor and I don’t know how to handle it. He seems okay but I feel awkward and like maybe he doesn’t think I deserve the promotion (I also have imposter syndrome, which doesn’t help).
    To make things either better or worse, not really sure which, my predecessor met with me and told me that this person had previously been spoken to about concerns regarding his work ethic, seeming uninterested, and not doing his job. He’s doing well now though.
    Any tips or advice on how to handle this or even just make myself feel better like I know what I’m doing and I deserve this job?

    1. Decidedly Me*

      I recently promoted my newest person in a role to a team lead position and she’s been fantastic! She had less experience than you mentioned at your role, so there’s been a little more teaching in terms of the role itself on my side, but in terms of what I needed from someone, it’s an amazing fit. All this to say – being newer doesn’t make you less of a fit. The opposite is also true – being in a role longer doesn’t mean you’re a better fit either.

      I’ll also mention that several others applied for the position and while I know they’re disappointed in not getting it, I haven’t sensed any kind of resentment towards the team lead and neither has she.

    2. ina*

      Tough love: Stop being unkind to this individual and mapping your insecurity onto them. You say: “I feel awkward and like maybe he doesn’t think I deserve the promotion” in the same breath as “I also have imposter syndrome.” — where exactly is the part where this person has said or done anything that indicates he thinks you don’t deserve this? It feels more internal than it does anything this person has done or said. Put him out of your mind and leave him alone.

      Whether he thinks you deserve it or not doesn’t matter, the people making choices based on their needs think you are. Just like Alison says in the interview guide, “If they invite you for an interview, they think you’re minimally qualified and they want to hire you.” Well, they *did* hire you for the role. It’s best to focus on being a good manager than focusing on who might not think you deserve it. There are a million and one people who think their boss doesn’t deserve to be the boss (maybe they don’t) and they could do it better (maybe they could) – this isn’t a new occurrence. It doesn’t change reality though. This guy has had performance issues, too, and that probably reflected poorly on his promotion potential. If anything, he’s 1) probably well aware why he didn’t get it and 2) beating himself up because he could have gotten it had he not had performance issues & got his act together. Again, this is a thing for him to worry about. As long as he does his work and does it pleasantly & up to snuff, that’s it.

      Your final question confuses me. “Any tips or advice on how to handle this” (meaning your direct report’s performance issues?) is very different than “[how to] make myself feel better like I know what I’m doing and I deserve this job?” For your direct report, you hold course – there is nothing to handle since it seems his performance issues are corrected now. As for the latter, you might focus on just training for the role and remembering they hired you for a reason. You didn’t sabotage anyone – you just were the best fit. It’s a neutral thing without awkwardness or resentment or *anything* needed. You feeling awkward about imaginary issues will make you perform worse.

    3. Miette*

      Pep talk activated:

      You know what you’re doing, and you deserve this job! They hired you for it over another, evenly-matched candidate. Given the info you provided, my take is that the hiring manager/committee is well aware of the other guy’s past issues and that may be what held him back.

      For now, give him the benefit of the doubt and behave as if you’re both qualified professionals and do the jobs you’re there to do. Treat him with the same respect you’d have shown if he’d gotten the gig instead. And keep your eyes open in case he backslides into old habits, because you will have to manage him through that as well.

      (And if I were a betting person, I’d say he’s likely doing a job search right now over not being chosen, which is fair, but make sure you understand his job/projects as part of your own onboarding just in case.)

      1. Tea Kettle*

        Thanks Miette. I like your point about treating him with the respect I’d shown if he’d gotten the gig instead, because if he had I’d be thinking something like “Oh wow, Josh is gonna KILL IT in that role!” rather than “I can’t believe they chose him over me.”

      2. Artemesia*

        And one of the things you do as a new manager is sit down with each of your reports privately and get their observations about what is working well and isn’t — before you start or get very far along — this is a good time to get his input and build a relationship with him.

  15. Don't perceive me*

    On Wednesday, a recruiter called me several time, left me two voicemails, and sent me one email – all within a four hour period in the middie of the work day. Is this normal behaviour for recruitment companies?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Wednesday was the 29th — could be the recruiter was struggling to hit their monthly quota and was in a cold-call frenzy.

    2. ThatGirl*

      In my experience, bad recruiters do this and it’s often for roles I’m not really qualified for or interested in…

    3. pally*

      Yeah if they are really needing someone to fill the slot.

      This past month has been crazy for me regarding recruiter contacts. I’ve been contacted by multiple recruiters (5 as of yesterday) for the same position.

      It’s all for the exact same job. A high-level pharma position. So you know there’s a big pay day for someone. That’s where the crazy come in.

      One recruiter is so persistent that he refuses to accept ‘no thank you’ from me. He’s emailed several times, called once and we talked once.

      I have no experience in pharma!

      That doesn’t deter him. After everything I say he insists that I must talk to his client.

      I finally explained that he won’t make a good impression with his client if he presents resumes that lack any experience in the industry.

      Still, he insists.

      Clearly, he’s not listening to me.

      1. NothingIsLittle*

        Can you block his contact? It’s obvious he’s a bad recruiter if he’s harassing you like this. Or just send all of his emails to a folder that you won’t look at, haha.

        1. pally*

          Oh yeah. He’s blocked now. Email and phone.

          The level of pushiness really caught me off-guard.

          FYI: Yesterday someone (via LinkedIn) emailed me with a “job opportunity”.
          I have to email her.
          I did.
          The email bounced back. The recruiter-provided email contained a typo.

          So I emailed via LI. With some basic questions. She reiterated the “job opportunity”, did not respond to any of my questions (not even what industry this was in!) and asked for a resume.
          Nope. Bye.

  16. Accounting Newb*

    How to do well in a job that involves accounting when you have no accounting experience?

    I started a new job a few weeks ago for a major chain of stores, and part the job is reconciling deposits and charges to the bank accounts. My background/experience is in records and information, which has sometimes involved working with money, but not actual accounting work. “Double entry accounting,” credits being negative, debits being positive, etc. is totally new to me.

    Does anyone have any suggestions on what I can do to get a better understanding of accounting for my job? Resources or other tricks? Or will all this accounting stuff start to click in a few more weeks?

    1. Anon in IL*

      Do you have a community college nearby? Look for a night class “Bookkeeping I” or “Accounting I”. It will be intense but one class should do it. It’s a hard thing to self learn.

    2. Jess R.*

      The Coursera course on bookkeeping was really helpful for me to understand double entry accounting! They have a 4-course set, but I think the first one alone would go a long way to helping you in this work.

    3. Anon in IL*

      There are also some laminated summaries available on Amazon. Two brands are Permacharts and QuickStudy.

    4. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Like other commenters I would definitely suggest looking into some basic bookkeeping courses, since those will help understand the standard terminology and the underlying concepts that your store’s accounting uses, but my other advice is that to be really successful with these sorts of processes you will want to understand where all the numbers are coming from and what the point of the process is, even if just on a very large scale. If you’re just filling out Number A in Tab B based on Direction C, you run a much higher risk of getting into a muddle even if you are experienced with accounting.

      YouTube is also not a bad resource for learning specific accounting concepts! In particular anything by Becker, Wiley, Ninja, or Roger (CPA exam review course makers) will be accurate, though more likely to be high level.

    5. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Honestly, this sounds less debits and credits and more decent math, attention to detail and good records. Don’t let the accounting aspect intimidate you. Source: CPA, and auditor. Lots of my clients know very little/nothing about accounting.

      For the accounting stuff, there will be you tube or other sources to learn the basics.

    6. Hillary*

      The classes folks mentioned (whether community college or online) are good, and also it will click. If you’ve done records you’ve probably done reconciliation before, just not with numbers. Short term it might help to think of them as objects or data elements that you’re matching up.

      Definitely start with bookkeeping and not accounting . Bookkeeping will be much more tactical for what you need right now, accounting is usually a bit higher level.

    7. kind of accountant*

      You could think of it as matching data instead of working with money – reconciling deposits and charges is less about “money” and more about, like, does this information match the other information. It will start to make more sense the longer you do it, and as someone in an accounting-adjacent role with not a whole lot of experience, the time I spent doing the work was more helpful than the accounting 101 classes I took with a local college’s continuing education department.

    8. JR*

      I once took an accounting class from BYU – long enough ago that the class was on CDs! But what you need to know was covered in the first, like, 3-5 sessions. Just sharing that to say that you don’t necessarily need to take a full course to learn what you need to know.

    9. RagingADHD*

      If you want a lightweight intro, there are some free courses on Udemy:

      Learn Accounting Basics in Minutes for Free,
      Introduction to Financial Accounting,
      Financial Accounting Primer, and others.

      If you want a deep dive, Intuit Academy has a free course on Quickbooks that also teaches you the concepts of double-entry accounting and general best practice for bookkeeping standards.

  17. Bluebonnet*

    I interviewed for a job this week (first round remote interview) and followed up with a thank you note. After sending my thank you note, I noticed a typo (I put a ? instead of a period). Will this reflect on me poorly? I really hope I didn’t shoot myself in the foot!

    1. Clefairy*

      It really depends on the role, the hiring manager, a lot of things. The truth is, especially if attention to detail or communication is really vital in this role, it could. But, it’s also possible that the hiring manager won’t care, or will only skim the note and not even notice. There is really no way to know. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you!

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Eh, maybe a little bit but at a reasonable workplace it won’t be enough on its own to sink your candidacy. Do your best to put it out of your mind and focus on other areas of your job search (or other areas of your life in general).

    3. Sherm*

      I once misspelled the hiring manager’s name on an email that she was on. (And it wasn’t at all an understandable mistake. Think “Jaane” instead of “Jane.”) I still got the job! There’s a good chance no one will notice. Have you ever seen one of those puzzles where “the” is written twice, and the reader is asked to figure out what is wrong with the sentence? Even while knowing that something is wrong, many people can’t figure it out!

    4. Jane Bingley*

      As someone who occasionally hires, unless the core task is copywriting this wouldn’t affect my decision-making at all! Even for a position that writes external copy, I’d treat it more like an example of internal typos than a serious risk.

    5. Laura Charles*

      I work in a field where attention to detail is paramount, and I would still consider it to be not a big deal. It’s not your cover letter; it’s not going to get judged the same way. Even if it doesn’t help your case, it’s 100% not a foot-shooting offense.

  18. CzechMate*

    Should I talk to my colleague about her bizarre intern?

    Background: my office frequently has several graduate student interns every year. When we were hiring grad students last fall, this woman “Jane” started harassing us for a job. I mean, phone calls, emails, NONSTOP harassing communication about when we would start hiring and how her DREAM was to work in an office like ours. This went on for several months. At first I thought she might be just out of undergrad and not realize that’s not appropriate, but nope, she’s actually in her 30’s. We did not offer her a job. The managers in the other departments also agreed they would not hire her. However, a woman in a different department who needed an intern felt she had the strongest resume, and despite everyone else’s reservations, she hired her.

    Earlier this week, I was doing some work in a public part of the office as clients would be coming in throughout the day when Intern Jane came to sit beside me. She introduced herself, and I pretended I didn’t know who she was. After hearing me talk to a few clients throughout the day, she said, “Sorry, I just wanted to say that I LOVE being able to listen in on this. I REALLY want to do what YOU do. I wish *I* could have an internship doing that!” I said something along the lines of, “Oh, you’ll learn a lot of great things with your internship” and she said, “I guess so, but I wish I could talk to clients like YOU.” She then started asking questions about how long I’d been in the field, where I went to graduate school, and who I “reported” to. I think she was trying to suss out if I was the intern who nabbed the job she wanted–I calmly explained that I started graduate school after I got the job, which is somewhat unusual in the field but not impossible (I had a lot of previous experience/transferrable skills). She was VERY taken aback by this and let me know it. She also asked (very suspiciously) what my relation was to the hiring manager who did not give her a call back for an interview. I let her know she’s my colleague and signaled I needed to get back to work. When her shift wrapped up, she said, “It was SO great meeting you, we are SO alike! I hope to do what YOU do one day! Who knows, maybe I can even do it NEXT year in THIS office!”

    So, this is very pushy and weird. I casually mentioned it to my colleagues, who were more alarmed than I was, and they told Jane that she cannot work in the same space as me or distract me from my work. However, I’m wondering if I should also talk to Jane’s manager. If I was a manager, I’d want to know if my intern was being weird, but at the same time, I wouldn’t have hired this woman just based on her conduct when she wanted the job. Thoughts?

    1. Elsewise*

      My instinct: If Jane’s supervisor is on your level, I’d bring it up to her quietly next time you have the opportunity. She should know that her intern is being weird, especially if your colleagues feel they have to intervene to keep Jane away from you. If Jane’s supervisor is technically above you, I’d have a word with your supervisor and let them handle it from there.

      Also, seconding that that’s just a really weird way of behaving in an office.

      1. CzechMate*

        Right?!? Especially for a woman in her 30s. Again, we all initially thought that she was a clueless 22 year old who had just gotten out of undergrad.

        Yes, her supervisor is on my level (I’m younger than Intern Jane but a full-time employee with a few years of experience in the field. It was actually the administrative assistant in our office who was hiring an intern to help answer phones. Part of why we didn’t want to hire her was because she seemed not to understand that it was a very intro-level role and she was NOT going to be advising clients. She then began spamming all of the departments in the office, and the managers all decided we should not hire her. She actually lucked out by getting a more specialized internship reporting to someone at my level in another department, even though it’s not her DREAM job).

        1. Leave Hummus Alone*

          She sounds like she was forcing an informational interview out of you that went way off track with her invasive and rude questions. I would definitely let her supervisor know, especially the time suck and the relations to hiring manager question, since the supervisor is technically trying to show the intern the ropes of what is acceptable in a workplace.

      2. Artemesia*

        This woman hired her over objections; she is likely to try to push to hire her in a full time position. The time to poison this well is now. — And with those above her in a position to approve a hire.

    2. I should really pick a name*

      What would you tell her manager? That you had an awkward conversation?
      I don’t think there’s anything actionable here.

      1. EMP*

        OP can tell Jane’s manager that Jane was repeatedly bothering her about OP’s job, and may need some guidance on workplace norms and/or coaching to focus on Jane’s actual internship job.

        1. CzechMate*

          Yeah, I think I’m concerned that she will continue bothering me about getting an internship in our office, that she doesn’t understand boundaries, and she may behave weirdly around the staff member on my team who didn’t hire her. But at the same time–I think my previous knowledge about her is coloring my perception of this interaction, which I Should Really Pick a Name points out is pretty odd but could be chalked up to being nervous and new.

          1. linger*

            Was InternJane overhearing anything confidential to clients and unrelated to her own duties by coming in to listen to your work? Because that, and her reaction of being “so interested” in those details, would be something to flag, as indicating she would not be well suited to any task requiring confidentiality in future.

        2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          Agreeing with EMP, there is a lot that’s actionable here.

          It’s not accurate to call this an awkward conversation, especially in context of everything else the intern did. This part jumped out at me, “She also asked…what my relation was to the hiring manager who did not give her a call back for an interview.”

          It would be a kindness by New Intern’s manager to coach them on what is and isn’t acceptable engagement in the vast majority of workplaces (i.e., not bombarding them about a job).

          1. AnonymousArtTeacher*

            I agree.

            Jane’s weirdness was such that when I read that she was “taken aback” that CzechMate landed the job before starting grad school, and “asked very suspiciously” about CzechMate’s “relation” to the hiring manager for the internship, my brain went to “wait, did Jane just imply that CzechMate was some sort of nepotism hire???”.

            Which is to say, Jane’s line of questioning sounded insulting at worst, and pushy and unprofessional at best. Jane is an intern, which means she’s there, in part, to learn the norms and boundaries of a workplace in this industry. Her manager should know that Jane was so pesky that some of CzechMate’s peers felt the need to ban her from their office.

            Moreover, since they were “alarmed” instead of just, like, annoyed, I’m guessing there may be valid concerns about Jane’s ability to refrain from inappropriately inserting herself into discussions with clients, or respecting their confidentiality, or accessing information that she shouldn’t. This could blow back on CzechMate and/or the rest of her team, so these need to be flagged for Jane’s manager as well.

      2. somehow*

        An awkward conversation against a backdrop of intern’s previous bad behavior. It’s all in the letter ^^^^^^.

    3. Hiring Mgr*

      It sounds mildly annoying, but unless Jane does something else I’d ignore it.

      You clearly don’t like Jane, but as you said the manager was aware of the red flags and hired her anyway…this doesn’t seem like anything worthy of involving yourself in

    4. RagingADHD*

      Nip this in the bud before she starts presuming to talk to clients or carrying on like this in front of clients.

  19. ina*

    Job hunting is so demoralizing and every interview, despite all the prep, is different enough that you can unexpectedly bungle them (even when you’re a good fit!) No advice needed, just putting it out there for all who want to commiserate. :’^)

    1. Lilith*

      I’m going through it at the moment, so sympathy and commiserations to you as well! Had what I thought was a good interview the other day (rejection received yesterday :( ), but from the outside it’s so difficult to tell exactly what they’re looking for and so how to focus your answers.

    2. inv*

      I need to commiserate too. i’m trying to go from patient access to entry level data analysis. finding something new is hard.

      1. Leave Hummus Alone*

        Sending all the love and commiseration! I’m trying to jump out of the nonprofit sector and into consulting. I got a rejection from a job interview this week because I’m “overqualified.” Blarggghhhh

    3. The Last Cookie*

      Yup. It is good to see this, to remind me I’m not alone in this experience! (Far from alone, I know, but it feels so isolated usually!)

  20. Amber Rose*

    Here’s a shout-out to my company for letting me half-assedly WFH in another province for nearly two weeks while I tried to douse the flaming trash heap that is my personal life.

    I’m behind on like 16 different responsibilities and projects now though, and the overwhelm is real. I have no idea how to pick up the shreds of my schedule while I can’t even pick up the shreds of my life.

    Yesterday I did the thing on the bottom of my priority list just to do something. So that’s one small thing done I guess. Now what?

    1. KathyG*

      Something a counsellor told me once when I was completely overwhelmed by all the stuff I had to do in a short time: “Sometimes, this is what ‘coping as well as possible’ looks like.”

      Yesterday you took a step, however small it may seem. Try to take another step today. It’s like the old saying, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

      You’ve got this.

    2. NothingIsLittle*

      I have ADHD, so I’m not sure it will help someone who doesn’t think the way I do, but I pick just one or two things that must get done in a day and that’s all I worry about doing. It helps manage the overwhelm to give yourself permission to not feel guilty for not keeping up and not catching up immediately, life happens.

      Determine a reasonable timeframe to complete your backlog (and if you don’t have documentation of how long tasks take, double whatever time you estimate) and then schedule that for part of your workday and reserve the other part for current work coming in depending on the workload and deadlines of both priorities. Part of this should probably be talking to your manager to confirm what they need prioritized and if there are any tasks that should be shuffled to another person for the time being. As long as your manager is a reasonable person, they’ll understand you not being on your game for 2 weeks, especially if you go to them with a game plan for catching up.

      Ordinarily I’m a “do it right the first time” type of person, but if you have something you can take a shortcut on to get just the most necessary parts done, give yourself permission to do it badly now and go back when you have more bandwidth to improve it.

    3. Jane Bingley*

      I often find when I’m totally overwhelmed, that’s when I most need to stop working and start thinking things through.

      I’ll set aside a couple of hours to get a list of all my tasks – on paper, in a word doc, or on a tool like Jira if your company uses a project management software. I’ll go through my notebooks, emails, and slack messages until I’m sure every single item is in place.

      Then I’ll make note of the ones that are 5 mins or less and go on a blitz. It feels SO rewarding to get, like, five or ten items done in a single hour. Even if they’re super low-priority, I’m less stressed by the end because they’re not bouncing around in the back of my brain.

      Once that’s done, I’ll see if I can see what the next big thing I should do is. If it’s not obvious to me or if I’m totally overwhelmed, I’ll loop my boss in and ask for their advice.

    4. OtterB*

      I have a similar problem, though my personal life is smoldering long term, not actively on fire. My advice is, don’t spend longer deciding what to do next than you spend actually doing things. I mean, ideally you’d look at due dates and urgency and impact and prioritize things accordingly, but if that makes you want to pull the blanket over your head and give up, then just pick one. Low hanging fruit tends to be well defined, relatively short, and/or things you like. And if something will require input from someone else, shooting off an email asking for the input will make things easier for Future You when you get to that task.

      Anne Lamott’s book Bird by Bird has a story from which the title is taken. Her brother had procrastinated on a report on birds for school and now it was due and he was overwhelmed and didn’t know how to start. Their father advised him to take it bird by bird.

      Good luck with it.

    5. Ann*

      I’m sorry. Are some of these things more urgent than others? Does management know you’re behind? The best thing to do is give them a heads up and see which deadlines can be pushed back. Maybe something can even be reassigned to coworkers.

    6. Busy Middle Manager*

      You may not want to hear this but you need to do the one thing at the top of the list (or in the top 5) or you’re going to drive your team and boss nuts and hurt your credibility.

      And/or alternate PTO and WFH days. It’s nice your job is giving you flexibility but WFH stops working once the lines get so blurred that people aren’t really doing anything while WFH. If you are not able to work, call in sick. If you’re working, hit some items at the top of the list and apologize if anyone was impacted by things sitting.

      The job market is getting very tight and you don’t want to risk losing your job especially if you’re in a period of personal crisis. I’m also struggling to understand the overlap between personal crisis and work. Most personal things get solved later in the day, while most jobs are 9-6, can’t you at least get 3 hours of work in a day? If you are literally solving personal stuff all day, then use PTO. Again, not what you want to hear. But you also don’t want to lose your job as we are likely entering a recession (or at least a frozen job and housing market) and have to send out 500 applications to even get an interview. And then have all day to stew over life problems, when work can be a good distraction

      Good luck

      1. TCO*

        Plenty of employers would never consider firing someone for being less on top of their game, or blending personal and work time, for a few weeks while someone is going through a personal/family crisis. I don’t think it’s helpful to suggest that Amber Rose is at risk of losing her job when she’s said that her employer has been supportive so far.

        I can think of many personal crises that require attention during workday hours, but it must be nice for you that all of your doctors, bankers, lawyers, social workers, and other providers only work evenings and weekends.

        1. Busy Middle Manager*

          I think you are misapplying the “be kind” rule. How is it not helpful to literally answer a posted question? I would wager a huge sum that being behind on 16 projects did not start at the beginning of last week.

          If someone is struggling and asking for advice it’s absolutely relevant and helpful to, you know, give advice and remind them of the larger picture. If they can work remotely they’re in the type of corporate job, the market for which is rapidly freezing, leading loads of people to be confused about why they suddenly can’t get interviews.

          And yes some employers will fire someone (eventually) for being behind on 16 projects).

          Obviously we don’t have all of the details but the point stands, if you’re working remote, you work remote. And that many pending projects need to get worked on and yes some places will put you on a PIP and eventually fire you.

          It’s not unhelpful to point that out. I actually want to help them, help them stay employed and thriving

          1. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

            Because it isn’t actually helpful advice or actually answering the question. It is just piling on the fear factor that almost anyone has when they are in a similar situation without presenting anything useful.

            1. Busy Middle Manager*

              This is a workplace advice blog. If we can’t give advice about work, why are we here.

              Where are you pulling “piling on fear from.” We’re just outlying a situation. Once you get experience as a manager, you realize that sometimes you need to nudge people to either wake up, get themselves organized, or just completely unwind and use PTO. It’s not helpful at all for the person or their coworkers for someone to be running around working-but-not-really, behind on a dozen+ projects and then doing random very low priority work, and not communicating with other people at all.

              Something needs to change, or someone else will change it for them. That is not “fear” that is how things should actually work.

              When you say “similar situation,” how do you mean? Do you think it’s good advice to agree with someone who is behind on 16 projects to just keep pretending to work remotely?

        2. NL*

          The OP asked what to do next! Answering that isn’t unkind and I think AAM would have said something similar (although probably without the job and housing market doomsaying…)

      2. Ellis Bell*

        “Most personal things get solved later in the day” …That’s an unbelievably broad statement! I have definitely been in mid life crisis, the 24hours a day type of crisis, have had to level with my boss that I’m going to be shit at my job in the near future until it’s resolved and have been fortunate enough with a good enough track record that I could ask for some flexibility. There are definitely some jobs where you have to stop working completely if you’re sub par, but if you’re not a surgeon or pilot it can be possible to surf through and prevent more backsliding and keep things on a low simmer.

        1. Busy Middle Manager*

          I don’t see a situation where a midlife crisis makes you unable to work though? This is where it would be helpful for people to include specifically what type of jobs they’re doing and what type of crisis we’re talking about. I know in my circle in finance and business operations, as accepting and liberal and accommodating as many people are, it would be very outlandish for someone to just say they are having a life crisis so that’s that and they will be horrible at their job. You would have to give a bit more information, give specific tasks that you feel you can’t handle, a timeline for when you can handle them again, and get nudged to use some PTO to do specific actions to fix the crisis.

          1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

            I feel like Ellis and Busy are saying the same thing here in different words? In WAY that you “surf through and prevent more backsliding and keep things on a low simmer” (Ellis) is by identifying “specific tasks that you feel you can’t handle, a timeline for when you can handle them again, and [using] some PTO to do specific actions* to fix the crisis” (Busy).

            Anyway, good luck, Amber – this sounds like a really hard transition. It will get better and you have a lot of good advice here I think!

            *such as, in my recent experience, “taking a day off to sob uncontrollably” and/or “cancelling all my meetings to listen to Buddhist compassion chants and sew”.

    7. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      I was in your shoes 7 months ago.

      I agree with another poster that taking a step back and looking at your complete list is going to be really helpful here. When I am in the middle of a really stressful time I find that my ability to hold in my head what needs to be done flies out the window.

      At first it makes it seem even more overwhelming but I rewrite my to-do list in excruciating detail – Instead of just writing “Groom Llamas” I write down Book grooming room for 8 llama sessions. Purchase grooming supplies Groom Betty, Groom Jordy, Groom Rico etc.

      Part of this is to help with panic productivity. What can I accomplish in this moment while I am on hold with the doctor’s office. I can’t groom a llama, but I can be online booking a llama room while I listen to hold music. Being able to cross off tiny pieces to set yourself up to be able to make the most of a solid chunk of productive time later.

      It also helps to see exactly where you can ask your team for help. If you can coordinate A & B would it make sense to ask Jane to do C and then you will do D. Where asking Jane to do A, B C D is too much now you have a discrete manageable task to hand off.

      And I am big on spending a chunk of time each day powering through the less important quick tasks to keep the list manageable.

      Communicate with your boss and your team.

      1. Now I want to go watch Ice Age*

        This is great advice. I would also add – with the step-by-step to-do list – identify what the obstacle is that prevents you moving forward with an item. Online llama room booking system crashing? Place an IT ticket or call them. Got to organise a llama disco, and have never done it before? Reach out to Sid, he’s the guy who does the sloth discos – they’re not always lively but he’d have tips and ideas that could translate.

        And let your boss/team lead know you’re struggling. “I appreciate your patience with me, I’m behind on X, Y, Z and whilst I’m working to complete all of them, I’d welcome your help prioritising.”

    8. Rainy*

      Honestly, pick one thing and do it. If you try to plan you won’t get anything done because trying to create the plan will just end up overwhelming you. Keep a “to-done” list and write down each thing you’ve done and make a little tick mark–done! Pick a next thing. Do it. Tick–done!

      At some point you will either catch up, or you will have done enough that the rest of it isn’t as overwhelming and you can make a plan. But as you did yesterday, just pick a thing and do it. It’ll be okay. You’ve got this.

    9. fhqwhgads*

      Yes. A done thing is always good. It’s off the list, ergo the list is shorter now. Great. Now pick another.

  21. Clefairy*

    I have a long history of facilitating trainings, and I’m really good at it- what I’m less good at because I’ve never done it before at actually putting together a curriculum for trainings, and that is a big part of my new job. I’m keeping my head above water, but I can tell that my trainings aren’t as effective as I want them to be. Training is a brand new venture at this company, so I am the expert, there is no one else I can ask. Does anyone have any thoughts on resources (books, podcasts, websites, etc) that might help me quickly start figuring out how to actually build an effective training?

    1. ferrina*

      Look into teaching resources- there’s a ton of resources out there about lesson plans and curriculum design. Training is just short-term teaching (I’m a teacher turned training lead).

      What kind of trainings are you setting up? How long, and what format?

      1. Clefairy*

        Oh that’s a really good idea! Thank you!

        I train on an industry-specific software externally with customers who adopt the software. They are generally one-off trainings of about an hour focused on individual modules of the software. They are held remotely, and can either be one-on-one or a group setting.

        1. ferrina*

          Ah! Take a look at classroom engagement strategies- I’ve found that teaching adults is similar to teaching kids, you just need to adjust communication slightly. Adults still have different learning types- visual, auditory and kinetic/tactile, so make sure there are activities for all those learners to get engaged. People tend to remember better when they are doing the action themself, so any time that you can have a practice exercise is excellent. Always time out how long each part takes so you know you have time to get through it, and make sure you leave time for questions.
          And one key is to write material that you enjoy presenting. Adding some personality into it is more engaging than trying to make it bland. My internal presentations often have a random appearance by an MCU character.

        2. Lyra*

          Clefairy, sounds like what you’re describing is technical instructional design — a big part of my own role!

          Instructional design (ID) = designing effective learning experiences for adults.
          Technical instructional design is a more specific branch of ID = doing that ^ specifically for learners to gain proficiency in a particular technology

          Learning more about the basics of ID in general will help you a ton. In particular, learn how to write learning objectives (which should always be your first step in designing a training) and how to use the ADDIE model of instructional design.

          I found Devlin Peck’s YouTube videos to be a helpful introduction (although I had prior training as a teacher) to ID. For books, I’d suggest Cathy Moore’s Map It (specifically to guide you through the process of designing training) and Julie Dirksen’s Design for How People Learn (for an engaging overview of learning science).

          Hope that helps! Happy to talk more. :)

        3. Jane Bingley*

          Agreed with the above suggestion of getting people to actually do the thing you’re training them on whenever possible! I’d also add that if it’s doable, sending them away with documents that outline the step by step process you taught them can be a huge help. It’s easy to get stuck at a random stage when you’re on your own, especially if someone isn’t super tech-savvy or the UI isn’t self-evident.

          Also, keep the HALT acronym in mind – people don’t learn well if they’re hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. You can’t control all of those, but you can improve the odds they won’t be by ensuring training isn’t at the very start or end of the day, doesn’t run into lunchtime unless food is provided, either doing one-on-one supported training or pairing people off to practice together, and keeping things as light and fun as you reasonably can for software training.

        4. Sharon*

          Definitely see if you can get information on what the customers need to do with the software and which features they will need to use and create specific examples that align with those goals. For example, you don’t want to spend half an hour talking about how to create new databases to people who will only search the databases, and typically are looking for 2 or 3 specific items.

      2. Sally Too*

        I’m an Instructional Designer, so I create training for a living. This is my process for design ; I learned it in grad school. It’s also the easiest way to make sure you’re training what you need to train:
        1. Figure out exactly what the learners need to be able to do by the end of the training.
        2. Figure out how you’ll assess whether they can do that thing.
        3. Figure out what they need to be able to Do to pass the assessment.
        4. Figure out what they need to Know to pass the assessment AND what they need to Know to be able to Do the things in #3.
        5. Figure out how best to give them the content the need to Know and give them opportunities to practice the things they need to Do.

        A few other useful thoughts:
        * Measure everything you’re thinking about including based on need-to-know versus nice-to-know; don’t include the nice-to-know stuff
        * Find ways to make it as interactive as possible
        * Adult learners want to know how a training will help them do their jobs better
        * Adult learners learn best through problem-solving and hands-on application

        Best of luck! I think instructional design is one of the best jobs there is.

    2. peter b*

      When I was assisting with training development and QI in my old role, I joined my local chapter of ATD (association for talent development). they had monthly virtual meetings featuring guest speakers who shared best practices or useful tools etc and I was able to access their library of recordings, which was very helpful. If you have ATD or something equivalent in your area it may be worth your while.

  22. Shopping is my cardio*

    This is an update on a comment I posted a few weeks. The short version is this: we had a terrible performer in our team and I was paired up with him to document all his shortfallings so he could eventually be fired.
    Fast forward a couple of months and he gets picked for a round of layoffs, with the caveat that he gets to stay in the company for 6 more weeks before his termination. So, of course no work gets done in these last 6 weeks and we are all secretly counting the days until he is gone. Then 2 days before his final day surprise surprise! He has a job offer from another department and not only that, but now he is in charge of some of our side work. To say that we are all dismayed and disgusted would be an understatement. Everyone failed here, our management, HR, the new hiring manager for not checking past issues in the company. Anyway, it goes to show you the amount of BS that you can encounter in corporate America.

      1. Shopping is my cardio*

        It has crossed my mind but my job is secure, pays well and it is remote so I am willing to put up with a certain amount of BS. But I do know the morale in the team is low in general and this just sealed it for a few people.

    1. aiya*

      ugh i feel for you! this reminds me of my previous workplace that refused to fire people no matter what. I never understood it, but I think our HR had some sort of unspoken policy to NEVER fire people. Me, my colleagues, my managers, and our team director all had documented terrible performance from one of our junior employees and urged HR to take action. It was very clear that the this person was not cut out for the job (did not have the hard skills required, did not have the desire to learn said hard skills, and also lacked in soft skills necessary to communicate effectively to both internal & external stakeholders), but instead of putting this person on a PIP or on any path toward termination, HR decided to shuffle them to another team instead. Thankfully, the employee got another job with a different company pretty soon after.

      Funny thing is that I worked on two different teams during my tenure there, and this exact same scenario happened on BOTH teams – which really shaped the way I saw our HR department. It gave me insight that 1) the HR hiring process wasn’t thorough enough/there was a disconnect between what HR wanted in a candidate vs. what the actual hiring team needed in a candidate, and 2) HR didn’t have our back and only cared about maintaining their internal hiring & employee retention numbers. There were other aspects of the work culture that I had concerns about, but the last straw was witnessing how ineffective our HR was, and I left for a MUCH better job very soon after that.

  23. Tired Accountant No More*

    Just curious about what people do in a salaried role when you have to work a day out of normally scheduled hours. A few weeks ago, I had a client meeting scheduled for a Saturday (very unusual, but happens), and my supervisor told me to “feel free to leave a bit early” on that Friday. On a normal basis, if I have a meeting that runs long or an event that is after hours, I don’t generally make it up, as these are part of the job, and I knew that. But, coming up in October, I have a client meeting that will take up an entire Saturday, which again, is extremely rare. My last job was hourly, so outside of tax season, we worked a strict 40 and didn’t get paid over that, so if I worked extra one day, I could take off early on Friday. Would it be normal in a salaried position to take part of a weekday off if I have to work all of a weekend day? I get that it’s part of being salaried that sometimes you go beyond normal working hours, but this involves travel and probably more than even a normal workday.

    1. ferrina*

      Different companies have different policies. At one place I worked, I could get a day of comp time for the weekend day that I worked. At another place, I sort of set my own hours and had maximum flexibility, so I didn’t have an official comp day but I would unofficially take some time off (my manager didn’t care as long as everything got done). At my current place, a little work on the weekend is a normal occurrence, but if there’s a lot your manager will talk to you about what makes sense for your timesheet and workload (leaving early in the afternoons, taking a full day off, etc).

      Ask your manager how you should handle it. Be specific on what information you need/what you’d like to do- “Is it okay if I leave at 2? How should I record that time on my timesheet?”

    2. Lilith*

      In the places I’ve worked, which have generally been smaller less-formal orgs, any significant hours done outside of the usual 9-5 could be taken off during the week (though usually not to a strict 1 hour worked = 1 hour off timeline). It was usually encouraged to take quite quickly just so it’s ‘taken off the clock’ as it were, though maybe split into 2 or 3 short days rather than 1 entire day off.

      Recently, since moving to fully remote work, I’ve seen the move to doing a whole day of ‘light working’ instead of trying to work out what hours could be taken off entirely – in practice, this has meant checking emails a few times and responding to anything urgent, but otherwise being off work.

    3. Marmiter*

      I would take a day and not even think twice. Would frame it to your manager as “since I’ll be working all day Saturday, I’m taking the following Monday off” and let them tell you if it isn’t ok.

    4. TX_trucker*

      If I have a salaried employee working a full day on a non-work day, I tell them to take a day off during the same pay period. If it’s only a few hours, I tell them to leave early on Friday or come in late on Monday. This will vary by company, but in my experience, a “schedule adjustment” within the same pay period is usually accepted.

      1. Parakeet*

        This is roughly how we do it at my organization as well. We have two pay periods per month, and our timesheet needs to show a total number of hours (worked + leave) that comes out to the number of workdays in that pay period multiplied by 8. Normal workdays are Mon-Fri, but as long as we’re around for meetings that we’re supposed to be around for and responsive to each other and others in a timely fashion, we can flex as needed, which includes taking a comp day if we worked a full day on a weekend. This mostly comes up with regard to conferences or other work travel.

    5. Rara Avis*

      With the caveat that education is different, we don’t get comp time for any weekend or evening school events we have to work.

    6. Synaptically Unique*

      Officially we don’t get “credit” for that sort of thing. Unofficially, I tell my staff to take the time in increments without documenting it and I generally do that myself. Come in a couple of hours later, or don’t take leave for a 2-hour lunch. My boss doesn’t micromanage us and handles stuff like that on a “don’t ask, don’t tell” basis.

    7. Quinalla*

      Yes depends on the company, but if your boss is cool with it, pretty normal to take off early on a Friday or something after having something like this happen. Salaried there is sort of normal over 40 expectations and abnormal and when abnormal hits generally at places I’ve worked bosses would explicitly let folks have a half day/full day off with no PTO to make up for it.

  24. office admin*

    People who work in small offices, how does your company handle small-to-medium facilities maintenance tasks? I’m talking anything like changing lightbulbs, putting together furniture, minor toilet fixes, installing a new soap dispenser–anything where it would be overkill to call a handyperson with a 2-hour minimum for hundreds of dollars. Our building management doesn’t handle those, and our contracted janitor won’t handle them either (they just clean the office). As the office admin, I am expected to make sure these tasks get done. But, they are often outside of my skill level as a lifelong renter who has never had to handle my own apartment maintenance. I am decidedly not handy, and it’s definitely not in my job description to use power tools or get up on a very tall ladder (the ceilings are high, so the lightbulbs are inaccessible from a normal ladder). They did not recruit me for that; they were looking for someone who was good at Outlook and meeting notes! When I attempt some of these tasks, I do them poorly and inefficiently, it takes me tons of time to figure out how to do them, and I often have to backtrack because I’ve done them incorrectly the first time. Or, I ask my handier coworkers to help–but it’s not in their job descriptions either and they are all busy with their real work (plus their time is more expensive than mine).

    I sent my boss an email yesterday outlining this problem and haven’t heard back yet. It feels bad to wait for an answer to an email where I basically had to say “we have to make other plans because I suck at this category of tasks that is nominally within my purview”.

    1. Lilith*

      Would it be possible to have a monthly (quarterly? 6-monthly?) half-day of repairs, and pay someone to come in to do whatever has come up during that time? It doesn’t sound like you need specialists so just a general handy-person with their own tools would do.

      I’ve worked as an office manager in small offices, and although I’ve ended up doing unexpected things (lots of re-cabling, dealing with floods, fixing alarms) I would never have considered most of the level you’ve described as being within my remit.

      1. office admin*

        Maybe! I would feel a little bad for my coworkers who might have to go nearly a month with no lights though…

        1. stefanie*

          I mean, changing a light bulb is pretty basic. Maybe learn how to do the basic immediate items (changing the light bulb) and contract out the rest quarterly?

          1. office admin*

            The issue is more the very tall ladder. My boss doesn’t even like me doing that. Her suggestion was to have the electrician do it when he’s coming in for our upcoming project, but we don’t always have an electrical project coming up. :(

        2. Lilith*

          If you do get someone in on a regular basis, they might be able to do preventative work as well – depending on the lights, some of them start to fade/change colour a while before they actually blow out so could be changed at that point? Or get a cheap floor lamp and keep in reserve until needed :)

    2. Generic Name*

      As someone who just left a small company with let’s just say lacking facilities management, I applaud you for thinking about it and asking your boss how they want you to handle it. I think the answer to your question is it’s different for every small company. But overall, I think the options typically are 1) an employee does it, 2) a contractor does it, 3) it never gets done. Honestly, I think the best option is 2, but some small businesses don’t budget for these types of outside services. You might look into some kind of a small maintenance contract. Someone comes out once a month and does all the small fixes at once. Or you wait until you have like 5 things to address, and call someone out to address those things.

    3. Goddess47*

      Like Lilith suggests, do a routine maintenance half day for things that can be saved up.

      Pitch it to your boss as preventive maintenance *and* so that you have someone you can easily call in an emergency (when that wonky faucet finally needs to be replaced because the water is running and not just dripping).

      I’ll bet there are other tasks that are being ignored because it’s ‘only a nuisance’ and not broken that can be addressed — chairs that wobble, doors that squeak, etc. So you can easily fill 2-3 hours of a handyman’s time every month. That way it’s also an anticipated expense and can go into your boss’s budget, rather than being a ‘surprise’.

      Good luck!

      1. Lilith*

        This is a good way of approaching it – having a handyman who’s already familiar with the site can save so much time if it’s an urgent problem

    4. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      If you share the building with others, you might consider asking how they handle these things. Also, maybe you can work together with others in the building to have somebody come monthly and replace bulbs (or other small but can’t particularly wait long) items. You could then save up a few of the more intermediate ones (dripping faucets, etc.) for quarterly or ad hoc when you have enough.

    5. Just a Thought*

      I wonder if you could propose creating a Task Rabbit or similar account for the business, and using it whenever this stuff comes up?

    6. Wordybird*

      That sounds horrible! Ugh.

      When I was an office manager for a small non-profit, we had a paid janitorial husband-wife team (who were also members of the organization) who worked a few hours a week cleaning the facility. If it was a minor repair, they would handle it.

      For larger repairs or projects, we might see if any of our members were capable of helping with/completing the task (for free) or would reach out to our on-call contractor/handyman (for pay). For routine outside maintenance (like planting flowers in the beds or washing the outside windows), the organization would hold a half-day event for their members to complete it all at the same time (for free). They did contract out plowing the parking lot when it snowed but the staff was asked to shovel the sidewalks as needed.

      Some tasks, like changing the can lights at the top of the cathedral ceiling, were simply not done as they required the rental of equipment that the organization did not have the funds for at the time.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m in a garden variety US history 102 class the first eight weeks of the term (which actually started last Monday, so I’m already 1/4 through it) but I’m really looking forward to “Intro to Serial Killers” the second eight weeks. :)

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      Yes (as a teacher)! This is my second year at this school so I actually know my way around, get to teach the same curriculum (not always a given even if you’re returning to the same school), and I’m going in to decorate my classroom today. Last summer I was hired close enough to the last minute that I basically just slapped a poster on the wall and called it good

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Also returning as a teacher. We technically started last Monday, but this week was just meetings, showing our new 1st years around (12 and 13 year olds) and various preparation stuff. Classes start on Monday.

    3. Pam Adams*

      First week of fall term, lots of getting students into classes. My favorite exchange student group from Germany is here, for the first time since the pandemic.

    4. Rara Avis*

      We’re finishing week 2 — 3 if you count teacher training — it feels like I never left. Which is strange, given how much coaching my new students still need in classroom procedures.

  25. Trusty trusty*

    I have a fantastic job offer (shorter commute, better alignment with career goals)….pending public trust granted. What’s the average time? I’ve been told days or weeks (or months, eek!). I already had a public trust and TS equivalent earlier, would that speed it up?

    1. Anon for This*

      Depends more on the workload than on you. Once you get to the top of the pile it should go quickly, the real question is how many are in the queue before you. Good luck.

  26. Age of the Geek, Baby*

    Anyone have any tips for “networking?” And I mean just talking to strangers?

    I’m terrible at this, and worried it’s going to impact my career. We host a big award program in the fall and while I’m doing grunt work (*eyeroll*) my boss is smoozing and talking with people. I’ve never been great at just striking up conversations with strangers….

    Any advice welcome.

    1. Tired Accountant No More*

      Can you look up some information about the attendees ahead of time? I’m not great at networking either, but I find it helpful if I know a bit of background on someone (even if it’s just where they work and a bit about the company), so you at least have something to start the conversation with.

    2. ferrina*

      I got better at networking when I stopped thinking of it as networking and more as getting to know people. Practice a few casual openers: “How are you enjoying the event? What’s been your favorite part so far? This is my first time here- any tips for me?” Then let the conversation take you wherever you are interested. If they aren’t your people, gently excuse yourself to get a drink/grab an appetizer/check in with the staff/talk to someone else/mumble “excuse me” and wander off.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Yeah, I agree with this. In my experience, actual networking is with people you have some relationship with, not people you’re meeting at an event. So at the event, just do some casual small talk and if it doesn’t go anywhere, that’s fine.

        I realize you are saying the casual small talk is what you’re trying to figure out how to do! But I wonder if lowering the stakes might help.

      2. OtterB*

        Also, look for people who are standing alone and introduce yourself. “Hi, I’m yourname and I’m on the staff of hostorganization.” They will almost certainly introduce themselves back and you can follow up with a topic like ferrina suggests. At events my organization hosts, that’s part of the expectation for staff, that we’ll keep an eye out for attendees.

    3. ina*

      It’s so silly, but watching 1950s instructional videos for teenagers on personality and etiquette helped a lot. The prevalent advice hasn’t really changed: focus on the other person. So Tired Accountant No More’s advice is really helpful in getting some talking points and the videos are a great way to open and close a conversation.

    4. Beth*

      There’s a lot of overlap between networking and making new friends. Which I know isn’t necessarily helpful if you don’t like talking to strangers socially either! But there are some easy things you can do to facilitate building any kind of connection.

      A lot of it is just about showing interest. Look at the person–it doesn’t have to be intense eye contact, but avoid looking at your phone or scanning the room or otherwise looking distracted. Find something you have in common and ask their thoughts about it; at the bare minimum, you’re both at this event, you can walk up to literally anyone there and talk about the event. Actually listen to what they say; lots of people fall in the trap of being so focused on planning what they’re saying next that they’re hearing but not listening. Try to keep conversation balanced, so you’re doing a lot of listening but also sharing about yourself. If you’re hitting it off, follow up by getting their contact info so you can stay in touch. Look for something that stands out about them and note it to remember for next time you see them.

      If it helps, nobody is really smooth at approaching total strangers. It’s inherently awkward to walk up to someone you don’t know and say “Isn’t this such a nice event” or “I couldn’t help but overhear, I’m also working on X” or whatever. Even the people whose networking ability you admire aren’t skipping that awkwardness. It’s just about having the confidence to move past it and connect–and confidence is a “fake it ’til you make it” game.

    5. Policy Wonk*

      Talk about things that effect everyone. Since you are at a program you can say something positive about the event “so nice to see Jane recognized” and take a cue from the response. Weather and temperature are benign topics to start with, particularly if odd – “how are you surviving the heat wave?” to someone putting on a sweater/jacket – “it’s freezing in here, isn’t it?”

      And as others have said, ask the other person about themselves. People love to talk about themselves.

    6. MaryB*

      I know that I’m out of practice with interacting with strangers after the pandemic. If you’re in a similar situation, I recommend not having the networking event be the first time you’re talking to strangers in 4 years. I did that and felt so awkward that I don’t think I made great impressions.

      Maybe go to a new meet up group or sit at a bar and strike up some conversations with new people. It was very uncomfortable, but I kept in mind all the general social advice about body language, asking questions, etc. It was lower pressure since I knew I probably wouldn’t run into people again and it let me grease the wheels a bit for talking with strangers. After doing this a few times, the next networking event went much better.

    7. Generic Name*

      You are exactly right that networking is just talking to people. It gets much easier over time. In my 15+ years in the industry in my area, I’ve gone from knowing exactly nobody at events and awkwardly standing around to being a known figure in my industry where people come up to me wanting to schmooze. And I’m someone who identifies as moderately awkward. :) I like to ask people what they’re working on and ask their opinion on recent industry developments. I also have 3 topics of light conversation I go to if I can think of nothing else. For me they are: children, dogs, hunting. I can talk to nearly anyone in my industry on one of those three topics.

    8. Hermione Danger*

      Compliment them. Then introduce yourself. Then ask why they’re attending or how they know the award recipients or anything related to their presence at the function that seems appropriate (think up questions ahead of time).

  27. Mimmy*

    I have my first in-person interview in over 6 years in a couple weeks (all of my interviews in recent years have been virtual). So many questions!

    -Do people still wear suits? I’m getting conflicting advice on whether a suit is absolutely necessary. For context, this is with a state agency that works with people with disabilities. I’m thinking of wearing a nice teal sweater set (it’s actually one piece that looks like two pieces) and beige or black slacks along with black pumps.

    -What should I bring with me? I’m assuming I should bring a copy of my resume, maybe a small notepad to jot down notes?

    -Do people bring a purse or professional tote?

    1. NothingIsLittle*

      I interviewed in person for local government around two years ago and wore a button down with nice slacks and leather loafers. My experience having had many government jobs is that one step down from normal interview attire is completely acceptable, but if you’d prefer to err on the side of caution a suit would not be out of place.

    2. CTT*

      I always err on the side of a suit, but what you described also sounds appropriate. And YES to a purse or tote if you have things that will not cleanly fit in your pockets. I recently was in an interview with a candidate who had her huge Vera Bradley wallet, keys and phone strewn out on the table. There were multiple reasons we didn’t call her back for a second interview, but my first thought was “oh, that’s messy looking” (which was an apt predictor for how the interview went)

    3. Lissa Evans*

      My last several interviews, I have gone with black pants, a non-button shell (button-up shirts do not fit me in any appropriate way), and a nice jacket. I usually wear sweaters to work, but for some reason, a jacket feels like a more appropriate interview choice. Also jewelry (I usually look for a nice necklace since I’m not wearing a typical button-down), and definitely a bag that holds all the normal detritus plus a folder with my resume (just in case) If your purse doesn’t have enough room for a folder, it’s fine to take it and either carry along your resume or leave it behind – after all, they should have it since they decided to interview you.

    4. Generic Name*

      I think your attire sounds just fine. I had 2 in-person interviews (in an industry where people typically wear jeans) recently. I wore black slacks and a shell (carried a cardigan but didn’t wear it as it was too hot) to one, and suit separates to another.

  28. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    I’m tempted to quit my entire field despite that being extremely implausible. What do you do when you get a wild hair like this?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I have a few “day-dream” careers. Occasionally, if I have a rough run at work, those careers/jobs start looking more attractive. When that happens, I start to do some research: what certifications/training/etc. do I need to have to become a llama groomer? What’s the average starting pay for llama groomers in my area? So far, some combination of the requirements, the pay, or the realities of the job that aren’t present in my daydream have been enough to remind me what I like about my current job/career. If they ever weren’t enough, well, then I’ll have some groundwork for switching fields already completed.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        That’s a good plan. I’m in my feelings because I had a stressful week and got a bite* * don’t worry only my feelings are hurt.

      2. EMP*

        This is much more rational than what I did the last time I was tempted to drop everything and run during a stressful job period, which was price out buying a horse and searching for adult riding lessons in my area (I did not follow through with this plan).

    2. ferrina*

      My job is pretty decent to begin with (no big desire to move on), so I usually turn to D&D or video games. That way I can get the fantasy version of other jobs without the hassle of the bad stuff that comes with any job.

    3. Lissa Evans*

      I think it’s really easy to get to a place where you think the grass must be greener. Take some time to remember that all jobs have a lot of the same issues and you don’t escape them by going somewhere new. That said, if you realize you’re really in a field that isn’t satisfying to you, then definitely start looking for jobs that sound great – and then talk to some people in those jobs to find out if you’re being realistic about that. I once decided I just couldn’t do it anymore and applied for anything – had an interview with the IRS for a job I discovered would include knocking on doors to bug people to pay their taxes. By the time I got that offer, I fortunately had gotten through my dark period at work and realized I was better off where I was for so many reasons.

    4. Ann*

      Make a plan? I’m tempted to leave my field too. The last couple of years have been really frustrating, and it’s getting worse. My industry is jammed between snowballing regulations (so we need more people just for paperwork), and problems hiring anyone competent. I don’t see either thing getting better. It’s been a long time but I’m ready to start something new.

    5. EA*

      It sounds like you’re in education or social services-type work if you’re working with kids, and it’s definitely plausible to move fields. I know many people who’ve done it, and I did myself. You just need to start looking and applying. But most of the teachers from my school who’d talked about leaving just complain about it a lot and don’t move, because of the benefits of the teacher schedule, their kids, etc.

    6. Elinor Dashwood*

      I look around, spruce up my resume, and start making cost/benefit analysis lists. I always try to include:
      – How much money could I make doing something else vs. what I am making?
      – How would I feel never doing this job again? (focusing on the things that I love)
      – What are the benefits to moving, and will they be worth the above?

      Then I look at the job boards and try to guess how much I would hate working at each listing. If there is something that looks promising, I store that away in my list.

      I am going through this right now (people across the country have started calling in bomb threats and swatting places like my place of employment. It is causing some stress).

      Good luck either way!

  29. NothingIsLittle*

    Anyone have experience with event sponsors? We have an annual event in the ~50k operating budget range and have had the budget for it eliminated, meaning this year it will need to be fully funded through sponsorships. (We’re a division of local government, so both not-for-profit and also not eligible for most NP grants.)

    I’m not sure if this is relevant context, but I’m an oversharer. Last year we got around ~12k in sponsorship money and ~7k in in-kind services, which is average. In prior years we weren’t very proactive about seeking out sponsorships because the funding was there either way, but obviously that won’t work for this year! Our museums are completely free and we actually cannot accept credit cards, so we don’t think it’s wise to count on substantial donations.

    Are there any sponsorship rewards that you would recommend? Any approach in particular that has gotten you better responses? We’ve increased the number of special tiers (naming of the petting zoo, etc), but my biggest concern is providing an enticing sponsorship offer.

      1. NothingIsLittle*

        Community event. Think local heritage, cultural showcases, and entertainment with free entry. The local community is mostly lower income, but attendees also come from the very wealthy nearby developments. We make no money from this event, anything we fundraise would go directly to the event’s operating costs.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      I implemented the sponsorship programme at our annual conference and have worked extensively with sponsors. When considering sponsorships, companies generally want to get as much value as possible for their money, especially as there is always a lot of competition for marketing funds. I’d recommend searching “sponsor package examples” for inital ideas.

      You should consider the following when putting together potential sponsor packages:
      – What can you give to sponsors that nobody else can? Can you give them additional access to a popular event? Can they get their brand name in front of their target demographic? Whatever is unique about your event, that’s what needs to be your focus. (For example, a previous event that I worked on was the largest gathering of health professionals in a specific region.)

      – What opportunities can you give to sponsors to market themselves? Social media recognition posts, an exhibit table at the event, giveaway items in the attendee bags, their logo on signage, a full or half-page ad in the event brochure, their banner on the stage, their logo on the front of the event brochure (etc.)?
      At our conference, we have a digital display screen with a rotating slide show that prominently displays a slide with sponsor logos. I’ve seen evening events that projected sponsor logos onto a wall. Can you put their name in the title of the event? (Annual Fundraising Dinner presented by Widgets, Inc.) You may be constrained by your organisation regulations in terms of what you can deliver, so always check your internal regulations first.

      – Really drill down into your past attendee details so that potential sponsors know exactly who attends the event. (I list mine by employer – academia and type of company. I also provide a list of which companies and organisations had people attend our event last year in case they ask for that too.)

      – Always under-promise and over-deliver to sponsors. Whatever you have in the sponsor contract, some pushy marketing person will ask for something additional.

      – Having a professional-looking sponsor brochure/sell sheet with photos of previous events and a listing of what is available at every sponsor level will really help to sell your event. Look at similar events in your area to see what their sponsor packages and sponsor brochures look like and to see how competitive they are on pricing.

      – For a 2024 event, make the sponsor brochure available well before the end of 2023 so that any company who has left-over money in their 2023 marketing budget can allocate it to your event before the end of the year.

      – Make sure there is a clause in your sponsor contracts outlining how/when refunds will take place in the event that you don’t get enough sponsorship for your event to go ahead.

      – Finally, let everyone know that you are looking for sponsors! Put it out on social media, in your save the date email and materials, put the sponsor brochure on your website etc.

      I’m around all weekend if you have additional questions. Good luck!

      1. NothingIsLittle*

        Thank you so much for giving me such a comprehensive reply! Our goal is to have a finalized sponsor packet available no later than the end of the month and I’m also making a page for it on our website, so I’m glad we’re on the right track in that regard.

        I hadn’t even considered refunds, but now that you’ve mentioned them it seems obvious, thank you!

  30. Penelope Bates*

    I’m applying for an internal promotion (my direct boss recently became my organizations executive director, so I’m applying for that role), and I’m finding putting together my application, especially the cover letter, to be awkward. Any tips? I work fairly closely with my grand boss, who is the hiring manager for the position, so he knows my work and skill set fairly well. Thanks!

    1. ferrina*

      Assume nothing. Prepare your resume and cover letter like you were applying to a stranger. Often our bosses don’t know our work as well as we think, or they may have forgotten. Even if they are fully aware of what we’ve done, showing that you can showcase your accomplishments is often a great skill in management/more senior positions (where you’ll need that skill to advocate for your team)

      1. English Rose*

        Yes this – sometimes if you are in direct competition with an external candidate who has a great skillset it can be easy for the hiring manager to get a bit excited and forget that you also have a great skillset. Good luck!

      2. OtterB*

        Yes but – providing the specifics that might be forgotten or not known is good, but pitch it in a way that makes clear your understanding of the organization and its activities and how that’s part of the value you would bring to the job. I interviewed a coworker for an internal move at one point and her cover letter didn’t hit on any of that. Fortunately in the interview itself she clearly explained how her experience with Task A, Project B, and Committee C would contribute to her success in the new position.

    2. SansaStark*

      It might help to think about the tone that you want to strike. When I was in a similar situation, I wanted my cover letter to be fairly informal since my boss and I had a relatively informal relationship, but I also wanted to remind him of some things I had worked on with him and some things I had accomplished that he may have forgotten. The cover letter may be shared with other people on the hiring committee so you’ll want to be sure to highlight the big accomplishments, even if you’re positive your boss will remember them.

  31. riverofmolecules*

    I work at a nonprofit and our new CEO is pushing a non-compete agreement. If it were narrowly written, like we can’t steal the org’s fee for service clients, that would be fine. But it is written very broadly, saying we can’t do any “similar” work and we can’t work for any “similar” organizations or any current or former “partners”, including for six months after.

    They sent out a noncompete when the CEO first started and I sent a list of questions to clarify if they mean it as broad as it is written. They said they will rewrite and come back. Six months later, they just sent it again and it’s basically the same.

    I plan on sending a list of questions again to see what they say. I think I will refuse to sign if it’s not narrowed. I don’t get what is the problem they are trying to solve with this. A big problem for me is I do convening work, so I partner with almost all the nonprofits (and govt agencies) that work in the issue area I focus on, so… does that mean I literally can’t work in the same issue area in my city for six months after leaving?

    A noncompete like this just feels so out of line and principle for a nonprofit like this. Do other people at nonprofits have experience with noncompetes?

    1. lost academic*

      Run it by an attorney. It sounds (IANAL) totally unenforceable. My personal practice when faced with these (and I get them all checked) is to laugh internally and sign them because I know they are just trying to limit people’s consideration of opportunities – but it doesn’t make it right.

      1. riverofmolecules*

        I also thought it sounded way too broad to be enforceable, but I don’t want to get into the situation where I would have to go to court to argue that, even if I would eventually win.

        1. WellRed*

          The point isn’t to go to court, the point is to get them to back away from the agreement or, barring that, settle with you out if court if it comes to that.

    2. NonprofitED*

      I have never seen a non-compete for nonprofits. At least not in any of the nonprofits I have worked at. People move around in the nonprofit world sometimes it is the only way to move up to the next level. I started me career as a grant writer and I did have one employer tell me I could not freelance for other non-profits but I pushed back on that in the interview and said they can’t stop me from freelancing outside of work hours but that I would agree to not accept clients that were considered to be direct competitors or in the same service area. I thought I would not get the job by saying that but they still offered me the job. I was never asked to sign anything it was a verbal agreement that the CEO and I made.

      1. riverofmolecules*

        Yeah, I have been asking around and others also say this is a weird practice. (Especially considering our and my work is so much about creating good, equitable workplaces. It feels so “talk the talk but not walk the walk”.) The one exception is my friend who said she just didn’t sign and her work hasn’t forced the issue yet.

        I don’t even really do freelance work much, but I do sometimes get asked. (Say my day job is teaching people how to take care of llamas, I sometimes get asked to present about taking care of alpacas.) So it’s not even like I *need* to be able to freelance, it’s partly the principle, partly if I do look for other jobs.

    3. Jane Bingley*

      That’s absurd. My non-profit has a non-compete clause , but all it says you can’t literally start an identical organization and steal your current clients to your newly launched business for 12 months. That’s the only restriction.

    4. Rick Tq*

      +1 on running it by a labor attorney for review against your state’s laws. Paying them to write a formal letter addressing the legality and enforceability of the agreement is a good investment, they should include potential consequences to the Org if they try to enforce it in the future.

      This sounds like a wish-list from the CEO that nobody was able to derail.

      Is your new CEO a valuable addition otherwise? If the noncompete is just one part of other problems you might send the lawyer’s letter to the board to notify them of their bad judgement.

      1. riverofmolecules*

        My thought on this is I don’t trust the board to not have a similarly corporate approach toward the organization.

        The new CEO is very dynamic and energetic and I think people like them. It’s more that internally, they have a very micromanaging approach, where they don’t like that I have remote work days, they want us to have a rigid 830-5 schedule, they think we aren’t working if we don’t have our calendars full of meetings, etc. I am saying this to say I don’t gel with their approach to the work, but I don’t think people (esp people with a very traditionalist approach) will necessarily think their approach shows bad judgement.

    5. Lilo*

      This is not legal advice. It depends on the state but it sounds potentially unenforceable. Note that any attorney would have to know your jurisdiction and actually see the document to be able to tell for sure.

      1. riverofmolecules*

        Copying my answer to someone else: I also thought it sounded way too broad to be enforceable, but I don’t want to get into the situation where I would have to go to court to argue that, even if I would eventually win.

    6. TPS Reporter*

      I think you’re right to refuse to sign. Assuming it is legal in your state (in some it is) it still seems like a bad omen for how this new CEO will run things. Non-competes to me reek of acknowledgement that they are not going to provide you with as good of a working environment as a similar company.

      I understand of course being barred from taking clients or taking any proprietary information, but non-competes overall are very unreasonable.

    7. Glomarization, Esq.*

      This is very jurisdiction-specific. Depending on where you are, a 6-month noncompete can be enforceable because it’s such a limited time period. But also depending on where you are, your employer may need to give you some compensation in consideration of the noncompete in order for it to be enforceable. Different jurisdictions will have additional rules about noncompetes. It is impossible to determine whether your noncompete is enforceable based on the information given here. You should have a lawyer look at the specific language in the document and analyze your risk based on your circumstances, the text in the document, and local and state laws.

      As always, if you sign something that is not enforceable, and you are sued for violating the agreement, then you risk losing time and money having to fight in court, even if you win in the end.

      1. Lilo*

        There also can be some bright line rules. In the state of Virginia, for instance, non-competes are unenforceable for anyone making less than the average weekly wage in the state, which is about $1,200/week (Department of Labor publishes this statistic).

        But I agree in general you should avoid signing anything like this even if you know it’s not enforceable.

    8. LadyByTheLake*

      I am an attorney but not your attorney. If you already work there, a non-compete is unenforceable unless they give you something extra to sign it (like a bonus you can only get if you sign it). Plus, as others have noted, broad noncompetes are almost always unenforceable, and in a growing number of states noncompetes are completely unenforceable. Ask whether the nonprofit has had an employment attorney review both the agreement and the idea of having existing employees sign it “since I wouldn’t want NonProfit to get in trouble over this”

    9. RagingADHD*

      So, you already work there. What is your consideration in exchange for signing?

      Are they threatening to fire you if you don’t? Because they can fire you, but of course then they still don’t have a noncompete. And if you signed it just to avoid being fired, there’s no way that would hold up in court. Keeping the job you already have is not valuable consideration.

      I’m afraid your CEO might be very confused about what they are trying to accomplish and how they are going about it.

    10. Silverose*

      The last nonprofit I worked for that had a non-compete agreement was only for not working with clients served by our agency for the period of 1 year post-employment. Many of our staff ended up going to provider agencies contracted with our company to provide services – but also contracted directly with the state. It meant their new employer had to be careful which clients were assigned to them for the first year.

      The one you are talking about sounds entirely too broad to hold up in court, but then again, I’m not a lawyer.

    11. Octhex*

      I am working at a nonprofit in the USA and I did sign a noncompete-while-working-there. I don’t think it covered after I leave (though I haven’t left yet). When I asked about what it covers, I was told that it is a very strict definition of “similar work” — so, same sorts of tasks *and* very similar location. I live 45 minutes drive away (without traffic) and the boss clarified that that counted as far enough away that it isn’t covered by the noncompete.

      The idea here is that part of what they do is develop my expertise and they don’t want me working for a competitor at the same time –They’d rather I be bringing in business to them than to someone else. Which makes sense to me.

      I realize that this is a very different sort of noncompete than you are talking about.

    12. Snarky McSnarkerson*

      Sorry so late to respond. If you are in the US, there are recent developments in national law about these. I’m surprised the new CEO is unaware. Or maybe he thinks everyone else is unaware. IANAL, but that’s where I would suggest you go.

  32. Alexis Carrington Colby*

    I posted here about a month ago about having to do daily stand-ups with a large number of people in the greater department of whom I don’t work with on a regular basis. Everyone went around and talked about what they are doing outside of work (what you doing Alexis? how about you Dominique, what do you have on tap for this weekend?). If you didn’t say anything, my boss would call on every person to ask them this so everyone had to talk. Well I have some updates lol.

    Right after I posted this, another coworker in that standup suggested 1 day to do an icebreaker question before we talked about our daily tasks. And then it was like everyone, including my boss, thought this was a requirement going forward for every stand-up. It was as exhausting as it sounds.

    Then a few weeks ago another coworker in the stand-up left the company so my boss deleted that stand-up meeting with everyone and created a new one with just him, 2 other coworkers who also report to my boss, and me. The good news is that these stand-ups are more bearable. Thankfully we stopped with the icebreakers (fingers crossed this holds) and the actual stand-ups are more productive since it’s the only our actual team.

    But my boss will still ask every single day how my night was and then about the weather down here and calls on all of us. It might be an “eating crackers” situation going on, but it’s driving me crazy. I think this is his way of trying to bond but it’s exhausting. I feel like he needs to understand that as a manager, you shouldn’t feel the need to push people to speak about stuff outside of work. What if something bad happened and they don’t want to talk about it?

    Any advice on how to shift my mindset for this to be more less annoyed with the daily weather and personal questions? Everyday my answers are basically, “didn’t really do anything last night/no plans for this weekend so far/yep, it’s still hot out here”. 

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Think of it as an extended “good morning” ritual. Are you annoyed when coworkers say good morning to you day after day? “They said ‘good morning’ yesterday!” “How do they know my morning’s good? It could be a bad morning!” You already have the bland, repeatable scripts down. Try shifting your mindset from “conversation I don’t want to have” to “extended good-morning ritual with [Boss].”

      (And if you are annoyed by “good morning”s and “how are you”s, I’ll link to a letter from the past where AAM pointed out that those phrases are just convoluted ways of saying “I acknowledge you, fellow human” and have very little to do with how good the morning is or how you are actually feeling.)

    2. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      A couple additional options. One, pick a boring response and say it every single time. E.g. Every weekend you are doing “not much.”. Two – say something absurd and make that a little ritual. E.g. What are you doing this weekend? Taking my dragon to the vet for a nail trim.

    3. RagingADHD*

      I mean, in my region greeting people properly is kind of a big deal in terms of showing courtesy and respect. This type of low key social inquiry — how was your weekend, how is the weather — is considered baseline for a civil, professional greeting.

      I used to answer phones at a medical clinic, and people calling to make an appointment would ask this kind if thing, even though they didn’t even know my name.

      From my perspective, it isn’t “pushing people to talk about their personal lives” at all, because the content of the answers is mostly irrelevant, unless you actually give an unusual answer. Around here, skipping it would come off as brusque almost to the point of rudeness. And for a boss to skip greeting their direct report would be very dismissive.

      So maybe that perspective might help your mindset. I don’t know where your boss is from, but maybe this is just the type of routine greeting he is accustomed to, and he wants to show you respect.

  33. Serious Pillowfight*

    My new colleague (whom I outrank but we both have the same boss) is doing more than is expected and it’s making me wonder if I’m not doing enough. For example, they decided on their own, without anyone asking or suggesting, to come to the office on a WFH day to attend an event at which they plan to make connections and distribute business cards.

    While I obviously see nothing wrong with them doing this, we would have other avenues to make these connections. However, because I outrank them, I felt like a) I should have thought of this, and b) I need to go too. I was annoyed about coming in on a WFH day to do something no one asked us to do. But if I didn’t, I’d feel like a slacker.

    I should note that I definitely suffer from a bit of imposter syndrome. In this case I have a degree in our field and coworker doesn’t, although their work is very good. I know I’m great at the main part of our job, but I feel like I’m more passive than I should be and don’t have enough “gumption.” My boss is very pleased with my work and has never said otherwise. Should I be stepping up my game?

    1. ferrina*

      It sounds like this other person might just be really, really good! I think coming in to make connections was a good move- it shows that they think about the needs of the job and put that ahead of planned WFH.

      Should you have thought of doing that? I don’t know, it depends on what your job is.
      Are you interested in stepping up your game? If so, it sounds like this person has some good ideas and can be a good asset. Remember, mentors can come from a lot of places. If you aren’t interested in investing more energy into this job right now, that might be okay too. This person may end up getting promoted or standing out in other ways (sounds like they may be a bit of a rising star?), but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have your own value! Just keep an eye on your boss to make sure that they aren’t adjusting their expectations and you should be fine.

      1. Serious Pillowfight*

        Good point–instead of feeling competitive with this person, I can look to them for ideas. I think I’m getting too hung up on the fact that I have a higher title than them. It makes me feel like I should constantly be working harder. I talked to my boss about this before the coworker even started and she reassured me I had nothing to worry about.

        Did we need to attend this event? No. Could it be fruitful? Maybe. However, most of the attendees already know to contact our department for what we do. Honestly, it wasn’t a hardship for me to attend, and it was actually pretty fun. Going in on a WFH day wasn’t my issue. It was feeling like maybe I’m not showing enough initiative or doing as much as I should be.

        1. M2*

          I wouldn’t focus on your coworker. Focus on yourself. I also wouldn’t copy what they are doing per see focus on your strengths.

          Someone who worked on my team basically parroted what I said and my work (v annoying) while on my team which I discussed with them many times. I told them to focus on their strengths. They did a lateral move after a few years to another department and they keep doing it! My words. My work. Many people have mentioned it to me, especially since this person has moved departments. It is noticed and not in a good way. I know it’s about imposter syndrome, but this person does some stuff really great and should focus on their strengths not copy what others are doing around them.

          So focus on your strengths and get ideas from this person, but don’t copy or mimic them because that will be noticed and probably irk the person and possibly hurt yo ur future advancement.

    2. ina*

      This is the second comment here about someone having imposter syndrome and really coming down on someone else for doing…nothing other than existing! I hate to be “mean” but imposter syndrome is just insecurity repackaged with a nicer name & makes people feel comfortable placing these insecurities on others because others merely existing and operating independently of them is making them feel bad.

      You didn’t need to suggest that or go in. You’re their senior coworker, not their life manager. If they wanted to go in and distribute business cards, that’s for them and their career advancement. It would have been weird for you or others to suggest the coworker go in (on their WFH day!) and distribute their cards/make connections (they didn’t ask for your career advice!) Why is this something that needs suggesting? I understand thinking if coworker should have maybe asked if it would be seen as pushy or awkward for them to be at this event and schmoozing (unless it’s a schmoozing-type of event).

      What you should be doing is dependent on your career goals. Do you need to go to this event and do what this coworker is doing (which they feel might help with their career) or do you need to hit metrics & network with key individuals and not as broadly as someone junior to you? Why are you mentioning your coworker’s degrees vs yours? This doesn’t matter whatsoever. There is no comparison here. You went into the office on your WFH day of your own volition and frankly, on a whim that displays not great judgement…you don’t go to events just because someone else is doing it. When you look in someone else’s lane while driving, you swerve. Did you get anything out of going in office to do this, other than being annoyed?

      It’s best to critically ask yourself: what do I need to do for advancement and what is the best way for me to do it? Is “gumption” valued at your workplace or is this something you value & want to see in yourself? Is this something you need to be striving for? Are there other ways of showing “gumption” other than this (because coworker sounds extroverted to a degree and gumption looks different in extroverts)?

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        The definition has stretched. A problem I have is sometimes people are criticize rightly or wrongly and become insecure and sometimes it’s a total head thing. but within her capabilities the OP could absorb some ways of working she envies such as I try to start my monthly documents early since my work nemesis does

      2. Serious Pillowfight*

        A few things: I’m definitely insecure, and I was coming down on myself here, not my coworker. If I didn’t make it clear, I was impressed/jealous they came up with the idea and kicking myself for not being more like them. I mentioned my degree only to point out that perhaps my impostor syndrome/insecurity/whatever you want to call it is less justified than I think it is, not to imply I’m better than my co-worker.

        I’m aware that no one needed to tell my coworker to do this, but it would not have been strange at all for our boss to do so. She didn’t. Where I’m cloudy is on the line between fulfilling one’s job duties and going above and beyond. Do I want to be a mediocre worker who does the bare minimum? Of course not. But do I want to burn myself out by doing too much? No to that, as well. I tend to focus on doing what I’m assigned versus looking for ideas independently, and I wish I weren’t like this.

        I do appreciate what you said about not comparing and focusing on myself and my own goals. I think that’s my takeaway lesson here. Perhaps I did make too much of it by deciding to accompany my coworker to the event. It’s a little redundant since we both work for the same department.

        1. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

          I wonder if you could think about it in terms of different strengths? If you are less of a people person than your co-worker, you might think of networking events as a more stressful part of life than they do, for example. We tend to think things we do well are “easier” and things we dislike or are less good at are “hard” but sometimes it’s a matter of different skills profiles.

          As others say, your new co-worker may be a superstar and as you get to know them better you can assess how much you really want or need to “step up” to be at their same level. It’s also true that they may feel insecure about a different type of work than the ones that you feel insecure about. As a manager I look to different members of my team to do different things depending on their strengths and it seems your boss may feel the same.

    3. The New Wanderer*

      I think it depends on a couple of things, but neither mean that you have to do anything differently if what you’re doing is working for you (and it sounds like it is!).

      First, is your work environment a place where that kind of face-to-face networking is clearly appreciated and rewarded, or will it seem like most people will just think “oh you didn’t need to miss a WFH day for this”? If your coworker has observed that people are rewarded when they’re more visible, maybe that’s something you should consider too. Doesn’t mean you have to do anything differently, though! Just factor in if it’s something you feel would be beneficial to you. It could also be that your coworker will stick out for being very network-y if that’s not the culture.

      Second, your coworker seems to have a different approach to work, that includes more focus on face time and networking. They may be after something you don’t want, like the fast track to the executive level. I watched someone with similar credentials as me (but two decades less experience!) do this very thing at my previous company – they decided to get right into management rather than do the kind of work our degree trains us for, and have been very successful at getting promotion after promotion. If I still worked there, that person would be three levels above me! But I decided long ago that I did not want that path, because I really truly enjoy the work I continue to do. So, are you happy with your career progress? If you are, that’s great and you shouldn’t feel obligated to keep up with anyone else.

      1. Serious Pillowfight*

        I wouldn’t say our job is the schmoozy type. Honestly, our boss will probably side-eye us and laugh if she finds out we went in for this–not to say she won’t appreciate it. But luckily she is laid-back and very big on work-life balance. I think my coworker just thought it would be a good idea. And it probably is…so I’m over here like, Well damn, I should have thought of this instead of waiting to be told to do something.

        I definitely don’t care about climbing the ladder, and I don’t know if my coworker does. I’m very happy where I am. If my coworker got promoted it would be to…my position. Maybe that’s why I’m freaking out. With that said, though, I don’t expect to be forced out or anything like that since my boss is very happy with my work.

    4. Policy Wonk*

      Unless your office physically doesn’t have enough space, WFH is usually an option, not a requirement. Where I work I often have to come in on my WFH day because of meetings that require a physical presence – that’s a must do. I sometimes come in for opportunities like you mention, where it is important to engage with others in a way you can’t do virtually – those are nice to do. It sounds like you are in control of your schedule, so it’s your call. Personally, I hate “gumption” but I’m not sure that is what’s called for here – you may just need to take opportunities to be visible. If you don’t, even if your work is superior, your co-worker is more likely to get the next promotion.

    5. This Old House*

      I’m not sure what else this new colleague is doing that seems like more than expected, but to me a networking type event is something that might be MORE useful to a newer person than to someone who has been in the role longer and presumably already knows many of the people they need to know. Maybe this is an event that’s valuable for her but not for you, and is a good use of her time but not yours?

      1. Serious Pillowfight*

        Good point. They probably just decided to do this because they’re new.

        Another recent situation that had me doubting myself was when they innocently asked what ideas I was planning to pitch for work to our boss. I gave a non-committal answer but in my head I was like…”I write what our boss assigns me to write. She brings the ideas.” But our boss hasn’t explicitly stated it needs to be that way. And if I did come across an idea, I’d certainly bring it up. But the coworker made it sound like they had all these ideas they came up with on their own, so again, I was thinking, “Well, crap. Should I be taking more initiative?”

    6. EMP*

      Mostly just here with sympathy, I’ve been dealing with some similar feelings lately! We hired a fresh grad a few months ago who’s (a) very good (b) willing to put in about 100% more hours than I am. I’m 10 years his senior and frankly coasting while I approach some upcoming medical leave, and it’s been really hard not to feel like I’m going to look bad compared to him or to mentally put him down to make myself feel better.
      I keep telling myself we’re in different parts of our career, we have different strengths, my experience is its own value, and his skills are a great benefit to the company as a whole. Sometimes it works :P

      1. Serious Pillowfight*

        Thank you for understanding! I’m aware the problem is definitely not with my coworker and I have my own feelings of insecurity and inadequacy to address. And I need to get really clear on whether I’m comfortable with the level of effort I’m putting in, regardless of what they’re doing. Good luck with your medical leave!

    7. Friday Person*

      Oh man, I totally get this. I think that a) new people often come in with a lot of zeal to make a good impression, b) you will drive yourself to distraction if you start viewing everything as a mental competition with this guy but c) it’s a good moment to reevaluate your performance, if there’s room for you to be more assertive in proposing or doing things, etc.

    8. Renee Remains the Same*

      I hired a direct report who was very much a proactive innovator when she first came in. In fact, I told some of my management colleagues that I felt she was poised to run my department in five years (not in a “oh my god, she’s coming for my job” way, but in a “pretty darn impressive” way.) But after the first year, things started to shift. She had to reinvent the wheel for everything. Became territorial about her work and projects. Wanted ownership of things that were not her responsibility. Did not take feedback or support well. (She viewed support as people either telling her what to do or that people felt she couldn’t handle the job). And despite my repeated attempts to tell her that she should not martyr herself for this job and should, in fact, rely on others more to help her when difficult things came up — she hasn’t been able to translate that into her skillset.

      This is all to say, that some people do some things very well. Other people do other things well. If we can learn from each other, then people like me, my staffer, and your colleague and you can learn from each other to be the best professional versions of each other. But that’s only if we take the time to appreciate what the other offers. It sounds like you’re half-way there in appreciating your colleague’s way of doing things. It doesn’t mean that you were wrong for not thinking it. It means you think about other things. Think about what those things are. Leverage them. Enhance them by incorporating what you’re learning from your colleague. Then you win. And if your colleague does it. She wins. And if my staffer is ever able to let go and accept guidance and support, she will win. (I am on the fence about my own winning, but that’s a post for another day)

    9. Synaptically Unique*

      I’ve had staff who do what I ask them to do, and do it well, but won’t step outside of those boundaries. And that’s fine, there’s a place for that. But their promotion opportunities will be limited because in my field (many fields) the higher you go, the more you need to take initiative. That’s not something everyone wants to do and it might be fine with you to watch more junior staff move ahead of you over time. I’ve actually created most of my own promotions over the years by figuring out where things could be better/different and writing a plan to address it before bringing the proposal to my supervisors. Definitely requires thinking outside the box and not waiting to be told what to do. Not everyone’s cup of tea.

  34. Yellow Jacket*

    Following up on my post last week — After a year of telling my staffer that they need to improve in various aspects of their job, I put them on a PIP this week. The meeting went as expected, the staffer agreed with the responsibilities outlined in the PIP, but pushed back about the PIP itself, feeling that they’ve made improvements and also complained about how my department is managed and the environment in which they work best. Fortunately, HR attended as well and our representative was able to further explain that the need for improvement needed to be consistent and progressive and that every job has things people do or don’t like and it’s up to them to determine if this position is a good fit.

    For the next two months I need to have regular, guided meetings with them. (Which I was already doing, this is just more documented). The issue I’m finding is that even in the past week, I’m almost overwhelmed by the amount of guidance and back and forth in preparation of these meetings, in addition to feedback prior to and after the meeting that I have to document (which I realize demonstrates the value of the PIP even more). I manage three other people and am now drowning in review, guidance, support, feedback — in addition to the other responsibilities I have to projects I’m the lead on.

    I’m not sure I’m going to make it through this process. Sorry this was more a vent than a question I think. But if anyone has any kind words, I’d appreciate it.

    1. SansaStark*

      No real advice unfortunately, just some commiseration and virtual support. Sometimes it really annoys me that my struggling staff member is the one who can get most of my bandwidth and the ones who just put their heads down and work sometimes go unnoticed. I’m still trying to figure out how to balance that.

    2. ferrina*

      Hugs! I’m sorry, this is sometimes how the PIP goes. But it’s worth it- in 2 months, the person will have either stepped up or stepped out.

      Can you delegate some of your normal work to others on your team?

    3. FrogPenRibbets*

      Hang in there. Just accept that this is going to be a big part of your job for awhile. At the end you’ll either have a better employee; either the current one on the PIP or a new one.

      Sometimes it’s hard when you something like this is now on your plate, but it’s part of the job. Reprioritize what you can and keep up with what you are able to. Do not let this slide or you will have gone through the pain with no benefit.

    4. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      AAM hugs. You’ll get through it, you will. The PIP process is probably the hardest thing a manager does because you are spending so much effort to try to help someone who can’t always be helped. Other parts of the job slide or become a thing you do at 10 at night because you didn’t get to it.

      Try to remember that it is your most important task right now. And it seems hard because it IS hard. It won’t last forever.

    5. Another academic librarian*

      You are experiencing exactly why it seems “no one can be fired here” syndrome.
      Managing someone on a PIP is a part-time job above and beyond the regular work that must get done.
      I spent evenings and weekends on documentation and catching up on my work, following up on grievance paperwork, at least 4 hours a week in one-on-one meetings, documentation, confirmation emails, and meetings with HR and my supervisor.
      That said, what helped the most was when someone said that there was someone out there who wants and can do this job well and they deserve the opportunity.

    6. New manager*

      I feel this so hard right now. I’ve been waiting for HR to provide feedback on a PIP so we could officially start. I’ve been having weekly performance conversations for months. The meeting goes okay, they acknowledge the need to do better, we set out goals for the next week, then they just…..don’t meet them. Everything. Is. An. Excuse. Now that we are entering formal PIP I know that the documentation will be so much more onerous.

      What helps me to keep going is knowing how much this is dragging the team down and is causing a lot more work for everyone overall.

  35. Sara -H*

    I applied for two internal promotions not expecting to get invited to interview for both… but i did! I had one interview this week and I have an interview for the other role next week. I have a feeling I will be invited for round 2 interviews for the first role. I am slightly nervous for the interview for the second role but am trying to prep well. I had interviewed a few years ago for a role and didn’t exactly nail it.. one of the people on that interview committee will also be on the committee for next weeks interview so i really feel obligated to execute well even if i don’t get the job. All that to say I am nervous and overwhelmed but really excited about the opportunities to grow!! I used to get laughed at a lot by peers when expressing my goals of moving up through our agency and its really nice to now have people in very senior positions who will go out of their way to help me prep for interviews and encourage me in growing within the department.

  36. Oop De Loop*

    Wish I didn’t feel the need to post this, but has anyone ever had their boss deliberately create an environment just unpleasant enough that you wanted to quit? I’m in a situation now where while not the textbook definition of a hostile work environment, I’m deliberately beeing kept out of meetings and getting access to materials that would allow me to fulfill the duties of my position (how convenient, will provide justification to let me go when I don’t meet my goals). It’s a very small organization and no one can make any decisions without the senior manager weighing in, it’s micromanagement on steriods – we can’t even meet to talk about work as a staff without them. I am absolutely looking but if anyone has any coping strategies in the interim I’d love to hear them. Already documenting everything and am an absolute team player – it’s simply not reciprocated because the team has been instructed this way. Here’s to a new job this month!

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I have.

      I just disengaged from her work, focused on my other roles and responsibilities, and because I thought I had the right relationship with her boss (also the small-business’ owner), advised him to start interviewing my replacements.

      It took over 6 months to find another victim willing to work under her.

    2. ferrina*

      I had a boss that was deliberately undermining me so she could make her golden child employee look better. There was a promotion opportunity that was coming up in 6 months- I was the frontrunner and most of the organization knew it, but she wanted to give it to her golden child (who was good but not great, and definitely didn’t do the same level of work I did). She did a lot of things to make sure that I looked bad enough that I couldn’t get the promotion.

      I’m glad you’re already looking- that’s the first and best thing to do! The other thing to do is stop caring. Easier said than done, but when I stopped caring it became less fun for my boss to pick on me (didn’t stop her). It also made it easier for me to say things like “Oh, I wasn’t in that meeting. Who has notes I can review?” because I didn’t care about the social awkwardness. I was just here to do a job and leave.

      My other sanity-saving advice is to not think about work outside of work. I noticed that I had gotten in the habit of trying to verbally process my work trauma all. the. time. and that didn’t leave room in my brain for the things I actually did enjoy. I set a rule for myself that I couldn’t talk about work outside of work. If someone asked- “Work sucks, but that’s not going to change. I’ve actually set a rule for myself not to talk about my work- let’s talk about something else!”

    3. NothingIsLittle*

      Got out of one a few years ago; I feel your pain! It helps that the department got into serious trouble as a result of the actions and policies that drove me away. If they didn’t want me to do my job, then I said “not my circus, not my monkeys” and documented that I had made a good faith effort to do what I was supposed to.

      Good luck! Cheers to a new job this month!

    4. Policy Wonk*

      Yes. I immediately started looking for a new job – felt like I needed one before the performance review cycle where the boss would surely tank my eval and my career. When the writing is on the wall, read it and take it to heart!

      This situation is awful, and I send my sympathies. (Do what I did on Fridays – go home, have an adult beverage and crank up Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive”.) You will get through this. And boss will suffer when they lose you.

    5. Ann*

      My husband had that happen. It was really bad, to the point where it was affecting people’s health when management got to work harassing them out of their positions. The only thing he could do was find another job. He did try to talk to an attorney first about possibly suing re hostile work environment, but she said that there’s no case unless he can prove some kind of discrimination.

    6. Glomarization, Esq.*

      You might talk to an employment lawyer to ask whether you have a constructive discharge (or constructive dismissal) scenario on your hands.

  37. Aradia*

    In the handbook for the University I work for, it states I could get a 5 day bereavement leave after a close relative passes if they live far away. My Grandmother is in her last days and my boss is giving me pushback for when I need to go back to my home state across country to attend the funeral and help with a few things afterwards. I was planning on just taking those 5 days. She’s stating it’s because “we need all hands on deck.” But people ARE around. My job is one that can be done fully remote, despite her saying I need to be in the office 3-days a week– there is another employee who isn’t remote at all that is there every day. We’re a low traffic office in the University. We get maybe one person a week and 99% of the time it’s someone looking for another department. All of mine and most of the other work is done through e-mail or phone. How much pushback do I have for this?

    1. Rick Tq*

      Enough to go over your boss’s head to get your leave approved for the full 5 days. I would not log in remotely either, you are home for family business, not working remotely those days.

      My condolences on your Grandmother.

    2. uncivil servant*

      I’m sorry about your grandmother.

      What does the handbook say exactly? My collective agreement also provides for 5 days bereavement leave and the text says that employees SHALL be granted that leave, in contrast to other forms of leave which are subject to operational requirements.

      I don’t like to get aggressive with management, like ever, but in this case I would reply in a matter of fact way that actually, I will be taking the leave I’m entitled to. C&P the text if required and take it up the chain.

      *I’m assuming this is a new semester blackout period at the university, and not just a manager who is so inflated with a sense of her own importance that she’s decided that your department can never be down an employee, except maybe when she goes on vacation.

    3. kbeers0su*

      Per the above, I think it depends on a few things. Are you a state/public university or private, and are you union or non-union? Regardless, it does sound like this is just your supervisor being weird, and not a University policy, so I’d reach out to an HR rep and confirm the policy. Your supervisor can’t override that.

    4. ina*

      Reach out directly to HR, confirm the policy, and inform the others when you will be gone.

      You have a right to those five days and you should get them. If your boss wants to discourage you, they can try but you’re gonna go anyway (and I hope you do — big hugs to you and I’m sorry for your loss.)

    5. Octhex*

      Push back!!!! The rules are on your side!

      And don’t do work for those 5 days unless you really want to because “leave” means “not doing work, not even remotely”.

      It might be worth it to loop in someone (ombudsman? HR? grandboss? whoever the union contract says is in charge of dealing with internal grievances?) and say “I’m taking this time off per the handbook, my boss says I can’t, but I need the university to follow policy and that’s why I’m contacting you”.
      Caveat: might want to run the best tactic past someone else who knows your university because sometimes my ideas are a little too aggressive.

      1. Octhex*

        And any work you do shouldn’t count as leave. So if you are someone who has to track what hours you work (eg, hourly, or different grants cover different things), make sure that you bill appropriately.

      2. Octhex*

        PPS.

        What I should have said first was “You have my sympathy for your situation”

        PPPS. My caveat applies only to the paragraph immediately preceding it.

  38. third sarah*

    Does anyone know a good way to monitor the comments on a business’s Facebook page that gets a lot of comment traffic? I recently took this over for a coworker who’s on leave and I can’t figure out any easy way to review comments other than clicking on each post and looking at the comments there. But I don’t know if someone left comments on a post from weeks ago or not, unless I specifically go to each post and look. The Facebook notifications are so broad that they’re not helpful.

    1. NothingIsLittle*

      Do you have access to Meta Business Suite? I’m our social media manager and monitor through the “Inbox” feature there.

        1. Mockingjay*

          Don’t feel that way. You are experiencing what hundreds have written to Alison about: “I was assigned a new duty without training.” Even the simplest system needs a walkthrough.

  39. Canned Platypus*

    Here’s a hot take:
    When I apply to a job, I don’t actually want to hear back unless I am advancing to the next step or getting an offer. This goes double for when I have submitted an application online and they are deciding not to advance me.To be honest, silence speaks louder than words.
    Come at me!

    1. LG*

      The worst is when they’re late in sending out the rejection emails, and I’m just going about my day when I get a rejection from a job I don’t even remember applying to several months ago. Just forget it at that point!

  40. Mbarr*

    Rant about HR incoming…

    I’m not an official manager, but I’m responsible for hiring and dotted-line managing student interns. My manager creates the job ID in our HR database, then, after I’ve decided which student(s) to hire, I email HR the job ID and the details that should go into the offer letter. They handle everything else – contacting the intern, doing background checks, etc.

    This has worked for nearly 2 years now, but suddenly it broke down. My new student is supposed to start Tuesday, but I found out yesterday they’re being delayed until the 11th – maybe even the 18th.

    I gave HR the details for the student back in JUNE. Turns out my manager made an error in the Job ID, but HR caught it and was working to rectify it. My manager and I hadn’t heard back from them – the last update we had back in July was, “Oh, we have a solution.” Obviously they dropped the ball. (My manager is away on leave right now, and yet no one thought to reach out to me, the person who sent them the offer details…)

    Anyways, I’m irritated because a) I did my part correctly, b) they didn’t communicate to me (I found out about the delay secondhand from our office manager and the intern themself), c) I don’t like that the intern (who has superstar intern ratings from other companies) is getting a bad first impression of the company, d) I feel bad cause this intern is suddenly missing out on a week or two of potential salary. I don’t know what their life circumstances are, but for all I know, they’re relying on this pay and there’s nothing I can do.

  41. slashgirl*

    Today is the first day of school here.

    I came in to an EMAIL today from the supervisor of my 10 hr/week casual position saying my services were no longer required. I have a FT (which here is 30 hrs/week) LT position in the same board and this was extra time at sub wages. It was at the professional library the board has for supporting staff who work with and students with special needs. They’ve hired someone for Assistive Tech and because there is now going to be AT items in the centre, this person is going to look after it. Good luck with working in the schools with students, looking after requests, cataloguing the remainder of the collection, etc, etc.

    I told her I’d do the transition to the new person, although the room this little library is in is currently packed up and stored in the air handling room of the school we’re because its room was in the reno area. I asked who she wanted me to transfer ownership of the google web based site to, I’ve removed my access to the centre’s email and asked the tech guy who does our library program to remove my access to the centre’s library program. I’ve pretty much disconnected myself from it. After all, I’m no longer working there. If I don’t hear back from her by the end of Tuesday, then I’ll transfer the website to her.

    I also told her that if she wants this new person (and I think I know who it is, but I’m not sure, she didn’t have the decency to tell me) to get training on the library program, that I’ll provide it, but I’m gonna be paid for it–I’m not doing it after school, etc as it’s not a quick 15-20 minute, oh here do this. And that after the training, I’d happily answer any questions as I do for other library staff.

    I’m pissed off (but at least have stopped angry crying). Maybe I shouldn’t be, after all it was a casual position (and it’s extra money that I’ll miss)–but I’ve been an employee here for 25 years, that should’ve counted for some consideration, shouldn’t it? Maybe a bit of respect. I guess I expect too much.

    At least we’ve got a long weekend.

    1. ina*

      They’re not being nice to this new AT by throwing so much at them and they are not being nice to you by telling you on your first day you don’t actually have the job *and* after being so rude & discourteous, they want you to train people…and they’re poorly communicating as you offer assistance. You have every right to be pissed off – they seem like they’re being dismissive of you and your work for them over these years.

      You could very much push that your 10 hr/week casual position is still very much needed to get the AT up to speed as they familiarize themselves to the libraries & responsibilities of the role. You will get extra money and they will have a stronger AT as a result.

      1. slashgirl*

        I agree with you, it’s not nice. And I don’t think the supervisor realizes the mess that’s going to be in that room when everything’s returned. I was talking to the custodian, he and his staff did their best to move things in an orderly fashion, but it fell apart.

        I’m not gonna push back–honestly, as much as I enjoyed doing the work (I love cataloguing books)…I wasn’t really looking forward to sorting things out after the room is put back together. Lack of planning on their part does not constitute an emergency on mine, nor does it mean I should help them more than what I’ve offered.

        And hey, supervisor has made her bed…she might as well let her staff lie in it, instead of me. This is someone who thought I could catalogue 4000+ items in less than 4 months on ten hours/week in addition to circ and shelving. Her grasp of library reality is slim to none.

        I’ll be professional and if they want me to do library training with the AT, I will, but I’ll be paid for it. Unless they offered me the time back for the rest of the year, I wouldn’t do it for a few weeks, that would be worse. Definitely be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

    2. Busy Middle Manager*

      That is bad management. Unless they made it clear they’d email you every year to renew. But it’s still worth a phone call. No excuses. Also at this point, just disconnect and stop trying to transition it. You are invested in it because you seem responsible, but you can’t be more invested in it than they are. Let them come back to you with questions.

      1. slashgirl*

        You’re right that I feel responsible–part of it though, is I’ve had to come in after people that left NO information about the library–yanno, password on a post it on the screen and that was it. So that’s part of my offer to help and part is that the supervisor could end up elsewhere that affects me more directly where she’s at central office. So I’ll be professional and polite about it. The good thing about it, most of the policies for patrons are on the website for the patrons to have (loan periods, etc). Just a few behind the scenes things I’ll make sure the new person knows about.

        Like I said, already removed my access to the email, library access cut off will have to wait for Tues as the dude who looks after it wasn’t in, handed my key to the room into our school secretary. I won’t be emailing the supervisor again unless she contacts me.

        Although I did get some good news today: I don’t have to do outside or lunch period duty this year!!

  42. TootSweet*

    I need advice on how to deal with a coworker who, quite frankly, has been behaving like a toddler for the past couple of years. I work in training at a health care company. Coworker, Elsie, doesn’t work in my department, but she wants to run my department, something she was told “will never happen.” She submitted a plan anyway, which was soundly rejected. Since then, she just tries to assert her dominance over me in other ways. Example: hijacking my part of a management orientation; when confronted in private, she said she just sees herself as a “helper” and had the impression that I was uncomfortable with that part of it (I’m not).

    We received accreditation from a major nursing body, and Elsie is the final word on whether a learning module can offer credit hours. She wants every module to offer credits (even ones that don’t make sense for nurses), but she has taken to relentlessly nitpicking each one. One of our course developers, Ana, is so frustrated that I’m now the buffer between her and Elsie, and Ana is just telling me not to offer the credits at all. (And Ana’s modules often don’t really make sense for those credits anyway; they’re mainly for mental health professionals.)

    There are so many more negative events that I could relate, but I’m not here to write a novel. Most of Elsie’s conduct seems to be an attempt to run a department that she will never officially manage. My boss and grandboss are tuned into this as well. Any suggestions on how to effectively shut down this person? She needs to get off her high horse, but I have to work with her until one of us retires (we’re both nearing retirement age). Thank you for any suggestions!

    1. ina*

      > had the impression that I was uncomfortable with that part of it (I’m not).

      Ugh, this is a bully yellow flag for me. The worst kind — the kind that undermines you while pleading they’re just trying to “be helpful!” If Elsie has the final word, can you schedule a meeting with someone Elsie behaves well in front of to a meeting to decide the final course credit offerings? You can finalize them in that meeting, with your reasoning and cost estimates to offer credits for the courses & Elsie can argue her points, with everyone present and send an email after to finalize the choice?

      The only thing I can think of now to get her in order is to just place her in front of people she is trying to appease rather than people who she wants to dominate. You’re a nice person for being a buffer between Ana and Elsie as well.

      1. TootSweet*

        Thank you, Ina! Ana has several courses that will need updating in the coming months, and I will definitely keep this in mind. Most of Elsie’s stonewalling has to do with older references that Ana uses. I may also need to contact the accrediting body to get more clarification on this; Elsie accepts some but not others and doesn’t give a full explanation of what is and is not acceptable; it seems to be more at her whim, depending on whether or not she gets any pushback on a reference. She also ramps up her general nastiness when we have a meeting with boss and grandboss about manager orientations in which she doesn’t get what she wants.

    2. NothingIsLittle*

      How much are you expected to play nice with her? I’d talk to your manager and confirm that they will back you up if she gets into a snit about being shut down.

      If you can cut her off, a bland, “Thanks Elsie, but I’m going to continue with my presentation/we don’t have time for tangents/we need to keep moving,” or a brusk, “Thanks Elsie, anyway…” should reestablish your control over a meeting. You might announce the next time you’re running a meeting that it’s going to be tight for time so there will be limited time for tangents or however else that would be appropriate to phrase.

      Again, you would need to trust your manager to back you up on this, but just blandly saying, “I hear what you’re saying and I understand [restate her point], regardless we won’t be doing that because [saying that’s ridiculous but politely],” and then saying “As I said, I understand your position, but [manager] said we weren’t prioritizing that/that’s not possible/that doesn’t make sense in this context.”

      1. TootSweet*

        Hello! Grandboss allows me to use her as my bulldog, to a point. But one part of the issue is that Elsie is in a different department with a different boss, Maris. The only thing that I think reached the level of needing a conversation between grandboss and Maris was when Elsie became petulant with grandboss about not getting her way on a particular task. When we got accreditation, we were sent a very nice plaque that Elsie put on her desk. When grandboss rejected one of Elsie’s ideas, Elsie came upstairs, slammed the plaque down on grandboss’s file cabinet, and walked out.

    3. Generic Name*

      She sounds like a bully. I used to work with a similar woman, except she was in charge of a team (and the company was sending her to management training which I guess is good, but it also meant they were invested in keeping her). She kept trying to take over other groups, and she generally treated me like her personal marketing assistant and talked down to me about how I should be doing my job. I don’t mind learning from others with more skill/experience than me, but she had nothing helpful to offer. I just ignored her attempts to mentor me and pushed back when she told me to do stuff that wasn’t under my purview. I had to do it in meetings where it was awkward to basically say, “no, I won’t do that”, but that’s what I had to do. In my case, I didn’t get clear direction when I asked my boss how our roles were supposed to interface/if he could back me up when I set boundaries for my role but maybe you’ll have better luck than I did.

  43. Busy Middle Manager*

    Does anyone have a workaround to this problem, trying to read reviews on Glassdoor?

    It keeps prompting and prompting me to add more reviews and ratings, and then freezes screens.

    I’ve been at the same job for 10 years and haven’t done one interview in three years, so I have nothing to add unless I make stuff up.

    I feel like there should be another solution beyond adding fake glassdoor reviews, in order to keep being able to normally scroll through the website like I used to

    1. Dovasary Balitang*

      Yeah, I find Glassdoor to be completely unusable. Sometimes opening a second browser in incognito mode helps.

    2. Generic Name*

      I just kept adding meaningless reviews when prompted for the same job that I had been at for more than 10 years. They’d ask how the benefits were, so I gave 3 stars with the statement, “Yes, Company offers benefits”. Completely useless to others. I’m sorry future viewers of my former company’s reviews.

      1. Generic Name*

        It also explained why a bunch of reviews I saw were grey generic one liners. The reviewers were probably just trying to use the site.

  44. Juicebox Hero*

    Just venting here…

    Over the summer I had to move from a large corner office which I’d had for almost 15 years to a smaller one (due to a combination of construction, one department being displaced because of the construction, and my boss wanting my old office for herself. She was a major PITA about it the whole way, and now hates it, mwahahaha). I got new furniture, some pretty big renovations were done on the new office (I needed a customer service window because I take bill payments) and also fresh paint and flooring. It’s a nice streamlined setup that’s working very well for me and I like it.

    However, two things are true: it’s about half the size of my old one and has only one window, which looks out of a brick wall of the other wing of the building. Neither of these things bother me because I sit facing the service window, and a small, organized space functions much better than a big, disorganized one.

    August and especially September are very busy months for me and I get probably 100+ walk-in customers a week. And I can count on one hand the number of customers who HAVEN’T said:

    1) You moved! I couldn’t find you! (in spite of the seven, yes, seven signs with arrows pointing the way and a big honeycomb paper pineapple hanging from my wall sign.) “Well, you found me eventually!”

    2) It’s so much smaller than your old one! (usually in a tone of pity, or criticism, sometimes followed with a question about am I being demoted/gotten rid of.) “I don’t mind. It’s a nice setup.”

    3) The view sucks. “Eh, at least I get some daylight in here.”

    I get that to these people, they’re used to going to the old office and inane comments are part of the whole human social interaction thing. In the moment I play it off with some trite and cheerful response because I know they don’t mean to be annoying, but it is So. Very. Annoying.

    I want to scream every time I hear it. I want to write my stock answers on sticky notes and slap them on the forehead of everyone who comes to my window (except the window’s in the way). I want to lead them by the hand to all seven signs and force them to read them out loud and point the way and ask what else do they need, a giant flashing neon sign?

    I can’t do any of those things, so I’m venting here.

    Although I’m very tempted to stick a Pink Floyd poster on the window and see how many people get the joke.

    1. Policy Wonk*

      I remember years ago a football player wore a T shirt to training camp with the answers to all the standard questions on it so people wouldn’t ask them. He got a lot of positive coverage for it. Maybe use that example and put a fun sign in the window

      Glad you found me!
      Yes, it’s smaller, but the layout is better.
      The view isn’t great, but at least I have sun!

      add a couple of cute pictures or emojis to keep it light. Won’t get rid of all he questions, but will help a little and maybe make people smile.

    2. linger*

      Several Floyd options seem suitable, though I’m guessing you want “The Wall” pasted over your window view, rather than “Wish You Were Here” over the redirecting arrows, or “Momentary Lapse of Reason” just because.

    3. Synaptically Unique*

      We moved offices a few months ago but to a MUCH better location than we’ve ever had (I’ve been with the same company/department for 20 years). 1) Wow, I didn’t realize you moved to this location. (We sent notices to everyone, there’s signage that most people walk past daily, and all of our email signature lines were updated.) 2) Too bad you don’t have windows. (An extension was built that covered the windows. My response is that if this great location still had windows, it would have been given to people much higher in the org chart than my office.)

      They’re just making small talk. Try to let it go. But you can mentally roll your eyes as you respond to the same comment for the 10th time today.

    4. Daisy--Duck, not Duke*

      We semi-recently had an office move to a completely new location, and we’re definitely experiencing the same thing, including the “it’s so much smaller!”
      I just give a random bland response like “I love it, it’s a much shorter commute,” “I’m saving a ton since we’re not as close to X store anymore!”
      Or I just say “yes, it is,” and then move on to whatever the topic at hand is. We see most of our customers once or twice a year, so the location and reduced size is new to them, and then there are the frequent flyers who find a reason to stop in at least once a month. They’re the ones who are really grating on my nerves, since they have an inane comment about the move every time they’re here. As a game, my co-workers and I have taken to noting in our database which one they said this time. If we see them coming, we’ll each take a guess of what comment they’re going to make.

  45. Justin*

    It’s always all or nothing for me – I was trying to get my next book off the ground (this is work and/or school, don’t worry), and so I submitted to my old academic publisher as well as a k12 non-academic publisher and, on the exact same day (weds), they both loved my proposals.

    Which means I, uh, have to write two books at the same time in 2024, but I wrote my dissertation while writing my first book.

    Just excited I won’t be a one-book wonder and to also reach both an academic and a non-academic audience.

    1. Reba*

      Congrats, that is so exciting! I can also imagine myself looking at the publishers’ emails being like “oh no what have I done” :D

    2. Generic Name*

      Ha ha! You sound a lot like me. I navigated getting a new job while simultaneously dealing with a litigious ex. Congrats, and enjoy your success!

    3. linger*

      Ooh. Were your proposals different treatments of the same material, or entirely non-overlapping content? (Because the former seems an easier writing workload, but does carry more risk of getting bored with the topic.)

  46. Rook Thomas*

    Looking for advice and what worked well for others in this kind of situation — I was recently diagnosed with cancer (caught it early, surgery went well) and I have an upcoming appt to plan out the next steps (radiation and medication). I have done my proper research (as a reference librarian) and know what I might expect, but I actually really don’t know how much impact some of the next steps will have. I’m thinking the next few months might be a rollercoaster.
    This is my question — I’m on a committee and have a work conference coming up in Oct. I don’t want to tell everyone about my diagnosis, but I’m likely going to have to disclose something because I’m probably not going to attend the Oct conference. For anyone who’s come up against this kind thing — any advice? I don’t want to be seen as wimping out on obligations, especially since there may not be a huge impact on my work — but I don’t want to assume I’ll be at my best. I’ve already had to miss 2 committee meetings due to dr’s appts . . .
    Thanks in advance for any advice.

    1. Jane Bingley*

      White lies are totally allowed here. You can describe it as a “minor medical thing that requires a bunch of appointments”, or leave the medical field behind entirely and say you’ve got a family emergency that’s been eating up all your spare time. Let them know in the vaguest terms that something’s come up and you need to recuse yourself from the committee, you apologize for the inconvenience and wish them all the best, and take the time you need guilt-free.

    2. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      Would it be possible to step back from the committee for a couple of months? Maybe swap with someone not on the committee?

      If you don’t want to disclose the cancer, then you can always just use vague “dealing with an ongoing health/medical issue, I’m going to be fine but might not be at my best sometimes” language.

      I’m glad you’re taking care of yourself.

    3. Irish Teacher*

      Firstly, I’m sorry to hear you’re going through that and I wish you well with the rest of your treatment.

      I “only” had thyroid cancer, so no radiation or anything like that, just surgery followed by radio-iodine treatment. I told the principal and my head of department the full story, but pretty much everybody else, I just told that I was having my thyroid removed as there was a cyst on it that could cause problems in the future (the last part was only if people asked; a lot of people just got “having my thyroid removed”).

      The radio-iodine treatment took place during lockdown. I had it planned for the Easter holidays of 2020, but that didn’t happen. So in case, it’s any help (I know a one-off thing is different from ongoing treatment), I’ll tell you what I did both with the original plan and the revised one.

      Once I got the dates, I asked our principal if I could talk to her and told her I was having this treatment over the Easter holidays and would need to miss the last day of term before them, because I had an appointment to sort out details and might need a couple of days off afterwards, depending on the circumstances. This got a bit amusing, because she said, “oh, to avoid infection?” and I replied with something like, “no, it’s just because I’ll be radioactive and I am meant to avoid contact with children for a while afterwards and that might include our 1st years.”

      In lockdown, I just e-mailed her and said, “my treatment has been rearranged for such a week. I should be able to carry on as normal, but not sure what kind of internet access I’ll have, so might not be contactable.” (We were putting work up online.)

    4. Generic Name*

      I’m dealing with some very unpleasant family court stuff right now. There are days when I’m out at my best, but I’d rather not talk about it at work. I told my boss and Human Resources, but that’s pretty much it.

  47. Staja*

    Just had my 5 year anniversary at work and it’s been chafing at me – this is the longest I’ve ever been at a job and I feel like I’m stuck, because I make above average for the area and my partner HATES his job with the burning passion of a thousand suns.

    The annoying things keep piling up and on their own, they are minor! But together, they’re getting overwhelming.

    I’m most annoyed right now about an internal position I applied for over a month ago (and tried to put to the back of my mind). I got a canned “Thank you for applying” when I sent my resume and cover letter through the system and nothing…and now the job is closed. The hiring manager is someone that my team works with, my manager had told me about the position (so assumingly had said something at least neutral about me) – I wouldn’t even assume I’d be a shoo-in for an interview, but I would have hoped that someone would at least reach out to let me know they wouldn’t be interviewing me.

    This is really frustrating, because the pay is good, benefits are good, I have decent flexibility….I’m just ready for a different job and think I may need to leave to find it. I was hoping it was a transition I could do in my current company.

    1. ferrina*

      I’m sorry, this sucks. It sucks when everything is good except the one deal breaker (i.e., not able to move up).

      Start your job search now. Do it as casually as you want- maybe only 4-5 hours per week. The great thing is that you are in a pretty good place now, so you can be really picky on your search. Definitely start looking now, and don’t wait until you are angry and desperate enough to accept a bad job offer (which is a mistake I’ve definitely made).

    2. ina*

      Is you manager open to you leaving the team? It wouldn’t be the first time a manager has screwed someone over on an internal promotion/transfer to keep them where they’re supposedly needed.

      Can you email the hiring manager directly for a status update? Would that get back to your manager/is this done for internal positions? Can you speak to your manager about growth and new responsibilities?

  48. Pescadero*

    Just finished reading “Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgement” by Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, and Cass R. Sunstein.

    It has a seriously BRUTAL review of the standard performance review system and the validity of standard interviews.

    “performance only has a 20 percent impact on the final performance evaluation” – 80% is noise.

      1. Aggretsuko*

        I presume it’s stuff like “we can’t give anyone exceeds expectations because then we’d have to give them a raise.”

      2. Pescadero*

        “undesirable variability in judgments of the same problem”

        Noise is functionally the opposite of precision in the old “accuracy vs. precision” discussion.

    1. ina*

      I feel this is something people are aware of, but sinks in better in writing and presumably with some data behind it. Life isn’t exactly a popularity contest, but it’s a likeability contest. You get far and your “bad behavior” is tolerated much better if people like you and/or are rooting for you, either passively or actively.

    2. Fluffy Fish*

      oooo thank you for this! my employer has started a very serious DEI push and I’m planning on bringing up how problematic graded performance evaluations are.

    3. SnappinTerrapin*

      Employees need feedback on their performance.

      I’ve worked in organizations with very rigid “performance evaluation” systems, and in organizations that had no formal system. I’ve yet to see it done well, either way.

      With no structure, supervisors get “too busy” to remember to give meaningful feedback.

      If the structure is too rigid, the feedback is stale when received, and the “evaluation” is too often an artificial “stack rating” instead of offering meaningful guidance to employees who want to correct their course, or who want to know they are in fact on the right course.

      Most workplaces would benefit from constructive real-time communication between supervisors and workers, but all too often, they either get nothing or a counterproductive exercise in red tape.

      I’m feeling cynical tonight.

      1. Mimmy*

        100% agreed!

        Where I work, there is a formal performance evaluation process, but it’s only for full-time employees. I’m part-time. So if I want feedback, I have to try to get time with my supervisor, which is not easy.

  49. ShysterB*

    Vent time . Me — older woman equity partner in law firm in one office, him younger man non-equity partner in another office.

    Colleague’s executive assistant is on vacation. He needs a Word version of a .pdf document to make redline edits. I confirm I have no pre-existing Word version of that document but point out he has three options for getting what he needs: (a) export the .pdf to Word and just deal with any formatting issues all on his own; (b) contact our firm’s document services staff to do their magic to give him a perfectly formatted Word version; or (c) contact the outside third-party who sent us the .pdf and ask for their original Word file.

    What followed was an extended awkward series of different ways he said, “Well, it’s just that my assistant is on vacation and I don’t have anyone here …” I became very curt and ended the conversation with, “I heard you the first time. You have two other options for people to provide you what you need and I’m not one of them.” And hanging up.

    Note: Hierarchy is stated above so DaTexan knows up front this isn’t a place for “What would you do if your manager/boss asked you to do this?” (I’ve been asked to do secretarial/administrative/clerical tasks by senior male partners and I might be less curt with them, but I still don’t do them anymore.)

    1. ferrina*

      oh no. I’m not even in the legal industry, and even I know that you don’t call a partner for tech support!! What the what?!

    2. TPS Reporter*

      you already did enough by giving him the options. hanging up was the only way to get him to not lean on you time and time again.

    3. ina*

      Wow. You handled it well and honestly, I would take this up with whoever hired him or is in charge of him or whatever about his awful judgement here. I bet he does splendid in front of woman presenting judges and with woman presenting clients (heavy sarcasm). His very easy to spot gender-based bias needs to be addressed as a work issue.

    4. CTT*

      OMG. And if your DocServices is anything like my firm’s, they literally can do magic and get him a perfect Word version in no time and also it is their job to do that sort of thing!!

      1. LadyByTheLake*

        Holy shirtballs!! This is why DocServices/Wordprocessing departments exist in law firms. And he thought you would . . . what . . . do it for him. Senior female attorney here — that guy would be DEAD to me (and I’d be taking some action internally about it).

    5. Glomarization, Esq.*

      LOL

      That sounds so out of line I can’t even think of the witty, sitcom-like comeback I’d answer with if someone came to me with that kind of call.

    6. Head sheep counter*

      I’m sure some people (side-eye DaTexan) would say why not help? I mean this poor man… its a miracle he got to work with clothes on as he’s so dang helpless.

      Good job on pointing out resources and drawing the wall at being one of them. Your tits didn’t make you his secretary. But your seniority does give you cover to dodge this bullcrap.

      1. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

        “Your tits didn’t make you his secretary.”

        Oh, this is glorious. I don’t know if you won the Internet, but you won AAM. I am so stealing this!

      2. SnappinTerrapin*

        I don’t mean to downplay the gender issues here, but even without that, he shows incredibly poor judgment.

        Weaponized incompetence in the presence of an equity owner of the firm is not a good look for someone who wants to make a career with the firm.

        Incompetence of any kind is not a good look in any occupation, but especially in a profession where it’s pretty important to be perceived as a strong problem solver.

        How does he find his way to the office?

        1. AnonymousArtTeacher*

          Ha… yeah. Back in the ‘80’s, my mother told us a story from someone she knew professionally who was a full partner at a prestigious local law firm. Partner was visibly pregnant, and was chatting around the water cooler with some other folks, about when she was due, etc. A brand new intern came up to her and told her “or one of the other girls” to make copies. She politely directed him to the photocopier.

          Well. Baby lawyer sneered at her, and said that if she “wants to keep this job until the baby comes, she should know that *secretaries* do not tell *lawyers* to make their own copies.”

          Partner smiled sweetly and explained that if *he* wanted to keep *his* job, he should know that *interns* do not order *partners* to make copies for them. Furthermore, she expected never to hear that he had referred to *anyone* at the firm as a “girl” ever again, regardless of their job title. And while she was on the subject, admins in that firm worked for attorneys, not interns, and if someone asked him to make copies it was *his* job to do it.

          He must have pissed off someone else, because he was gone a few weeks later.

    7. Lilo*

      The funny this is, had he grabbed a junior associate, they probably would have done it when though that’s not a good use of attorney time. But an equity partner? Yikes.

    8. Anonosaurus*

      You were remarkably patient with his BS and he should (but won’t) be embarrassed he even asked.

    9. Anon for This*

      There seems to be a retrenchment of sexism in the workplace. I see the same kind of BS where I work. As a senior female I get men who work for me asking me to do stuff for them. Excuse me, I am your boss. Do it yourself!!

      I agree I don’t let my bosses pull this kind of stuff either, though I offer to send in Fergus to assist…

    10. Rick Tq*

      You did fine, and I’d record the event in your private files as something to monitor if he stays aboard. He may not be a candidate for advancement if he thinks having an equity partner bill her rates to the account for something that can be done by Document Service or the group that provided the document in the first place.

    11. Jessica*

      I don’t understand the internal hierarchy, other than you being senior to this guy, but I would take this further if you can. Consider how this guy will treat women who don’t have the seniority, the experience, or the courage to firmly shut him down. I’m not saying it’s a fireable moment, but I do see it as a serious performance issue that deserves to (a) be taken into account when he’s being considered for advancement, and (b) addressed right now by whoever manages this guy. If you’re in a position to spend some political capital, maybe do other women, your firm, and society a favor by pushing back harder on toxic sexist nonsense.

    12. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      In my head, it goes like this:
      him: Well, my assistant is on vacation.. blah blah
      you: (dead serious look for several long seconds). I charge five times my regular rate to waste time on things I have just explained how to do. It is (time) and you are wasting my time. I bill by the minute. Let me know when you are done.

      Probably not something you should say… but I enjoyed it so thought I’d share

    13. Jinni*

      Ooooh…after decades of experience with BigLaw, I have so many questions. But I have to ask who recommended him for partner? What’s your relationship with that person, or his advocates? Is he somehow untouchable (like he has Apple in-house on speed dial)?

      How in the heck does he treat other women???

      My only experience of firms is voting in partners/equity at a single meeting once per year. Whenever he’s up, I’d press your advantage.

      This is me being petty. But after 25 years, I know that if these guys make equity, they’ll be a lifelong hassle/liability.

  50. Trixie*

    Due to change in department leadership, I’m looking for a new job. I can probably stay with current company but since my boss was fired a couple weeks ago, I’m not really on anyone’s radar. Given all the organization changes (firings) or exits (people leaving), it’s probably just as well to move on.

    A recruiter on LinkedIn recently reached out regarding a role similar to my current position. After a phone screening, I’m open to exploring for the right pay but this is raising several questions.

    In my new city, I’m pretty much starting from scratch as far as friends or network. With that in mind, I’m not sure a remote role is for me at the moment. A hybrid or in office position may be the way to go as I acclimate to area and get to know some local folks. I really enjoy working from home but am concerned it may be too isolating in this new setting. For this role through LinkedIn recruiter, the field is completely different than current field and not as stimulating as far as interest goes.

    My concern is if I’m expecting more from in-person role than is reasonable, and if I’ll regret moving away from remote or hybrid role. Has anyone else moved to in-person and it worked out okay? (Or didn’t, and why?)

  51. Aggretsuko*

    I applied for two jobs on Saturday. I have zero hopes. One of them I don’t really qualify for and I don’t like the job itself but liked the employer, so I don’t think anything will come of that one. The other one is at my current organization in another office and I actually somewhat sound like I might line up with it, but I will note that my union rep told me that since I have so many letters about my bad behavior in my HR file, any new employer can look them up and then they won’t hire me, so…yeah. I’m dead in the water as ever. But at least I tried, is what I can say.

    I really, really, hate myself for being such a failure and a bad person here. I try so hard, get nowhere, and in the end it doesn’t even matter, because I *can’t stop failing.* I can’t stop struggling, I can’t stop having problems. This job demands that I be good at my worst things and they won’t stop harping on it and they won’t let me do anything else.

    1. Queen Ruby*

      Your last paragraph sounds like my internal dialogue for most of my life – I mean, like word for word. The only thing that shut it up and allowed me to straighten myself out was being diagnosed with and treating ADHD. I’m not saying that’s what’s going on for you, but seeking out a professional can do wonders. It did for me, anyway.

      1. ferrina*

        Seconding that the internal monologue (“I’m a bad person, I can’t stop failing”) is almost never because you are actually a bad person (like, less than 1% chance). When I had this monologue going on repeat, it was due to a combination of depression, complex PTSD (c-PTSD) and ADHD. Anxiety can also be a common cause, and it’s also a super normal thing for anyone with a learning disability or mental health condition to develop because they spent their childhood “failing” at things that their neurotypical peers could do.

        Ideally you’d go talk to a psychologist to see about a diagnosis, but if you can’t do that, go down the YouTube rabbit hole. How To ADHD is my favorite resource on ADHD, and Patrick Teahan is my favorite for c-PTSD stemming from childhood trauma (including emotional neglect, which is a very real trauma). Find your diagnosis. Self-diagnosises count- many of us self-diagnose, and some of us are more informed than most doctors about our diagnoses (by age 20 I had therapists tell me I knew more about my conditions through my independent research than they did).

        Apply to more jobs. It sounds like you need a fresh start. Re-write your resume and cover letter to *brag*. It will feel wrong and like a lie. It is not. There is good- a lot of good- about you. Just because you can’t see it right now doesn’t mean other people don’t deserve to see it.

        One more thing that helped me- start an accomplishment journal. Each day, write a page of things you did right that day. This can be as little as you want- for me, doing dishes was a big accomplishment. Writing an email was an accomplishment. I could brag about how I said the right thing at the right time. Anything that you felt a tinge of pride for that day. Fill up the whole page. Every day.
        This helps reprogram your brain to see everything you are doing right. Right now your brain is used to seeing things you are doing wrong. You need to teach it how to do things a different way and how to see the things you are doing well. It sucks, but for some of us out here, we need to teach ourselves how to love ourselves. If that’s where you are, just know that I am in that boat with you and I’m rooting for you.

      2. Aggretsuko*

        I got an evaluation a few years ago and was told by my HMO that I didn’t have bad enough symptoms to count as anything diagnosable.

        I also asked the union rep and he said there wasn’t any advantage to getting an ADHD diagnosis on my record, they don’t really do accommodations here, etc.

        I suspect I have it too, but my HMO has plenty of incentive to not diagnose me (they are in the media for having mental health care strikes a lot), so that’s a dead end.

        1. ferrina*

          Diagnosis is about more than accommodations. It’s also about understanding how your brain works, recognizing when your symptoms are striking, and knowing techniques for managing the symptoms. Pharmaceutical treatments aren’t the only treatment options.

          1. RagingADHD*

            The great thing about the non-medication interventions /adjustments is that most of them work equally well for any type of executive function issues, even temporary ones like stress or illness. And most of them you can implement for yourself without needing anybody’s permission.

    2. ina*

      I’m sorry to hear this. I remember you writing a few weeks back about not liking the industry you’re in – could this be the reason for all those “bad behavior” reports? When we’re unhappy in a job, we tend to lash out and be the worst version of ourselves. I hope you can find solace that this is a common occurrence and you’re not alone in this. You are doing the best you can and I sincerely believe this; how much better can you do when you’re forced to work at a “job [that] demands that I be good at my worst things”? This would be like if I was forced to be a sales person — I’d crumble and come home crying everyday, just so out of my element and skill set.

      You can’t “stop failing” because you’re doing something that is just not for you. I really think you should consider taking a pay cut (if you can afford it) for your own happiness and move fields completely — somewhere that doesn’t have your union HR record for on-demand lookup. It’s a fresh start and a chance to find something that brings you happiness.

      What sort of skills do you have and if you don’t mind, what is it that you do broadly already? It might help to narrow down where to look. I worry that staying in this field just isn’t good for your mental health.

      1. Aggretsuko*

        Data entry for money is my only job skill, really. I can’t do math which rules me out of most jobs, I do a lot of artistic things that aren’t worth money. I used to be a professional writer, but that’s a dead end career now and I won’t be trying to do media work any more, for obvious reasons of failing industry + AI.

        I will equate my job to working at the academic version of the DMV. A lot of data entry and records work and surprise! customer service every time they are short on staff, which is semi-frequently. The clientele that comes here is Not Happy. I have mostly run one area of the office alone for years and they’re generally fine with me doing that, but they don’t like anything else I do. I’m very sick of my industry, but it’s a stable one and if I don’t get canned, I’m not likely to get laid off. I’ll never work in a field I care about again because the arts are extremely unstable.

        I can’t say I care about any other industries either. I just don’t give any kind of shit what I do any more as long as it doesn’t involve money or customer service, but that’s all the jobs. I hate my career, I have zero interest in any career, I just want insurance and money so when I inevitably get diagnosed with something awful, I have the insurance. Working here is too good to give up voluntarily, benefits-wise, I’m single and have zero backup or help. I’m on my own, drowning, alone. Also now insurance is paying for my mental health care, so if I don’t have that…

        I’m incredibly stuck. The only way out is dying, getting too sick to work, winning the lottery (yeah right, I’ve never even bought a ticket), and…that’s it. I can’t seem to do any other jobs because all jobs require what I’m bad at.

        1. Cavelo Nero*

          It sounds to me as if you are a great candidate for therapy at the moment, Agretsukko. (I am in therapy myself. It’s a great tool, I think.)

          Because, from the outside, your feelings and opinions seem very, very, VERY influenced by the natural negativity bias that we all have. Way disproportionately so. If that’s what’s happening, it might feel normal to you – I’ve been in a similar place – but from the outside it is glaring. Do you think you might benefit from objective assistance, from someone outside your brain?

          It sounds to me as if you’ve been battling valiently with hard times, and you could benefit from warm care.

        2. ina*

          I don’t see stuck at all, but I do see you needing to reframe things. There are hundreds of jobs out there that you can do if you have experience with data entry — these are skills that translate to attention to detail, self-motivation (to do repetitive tasks), critical thinking (inaccuracies and weird data sleuthing), and organizational skills. You could get a run of the mill office job. As for artsy and writing, graphic design, technical writing, PR, and a lot of other ‘artsy’ jobs are in demand…the money they make varies by firm and what you are actually doing, but if that’s the line you want get a portfolio going. You could also look into library science and archival work. Healthcare data entry, if that’s not already for your line, is huge as is data entry for large clinical trials. You have options.

          I’m confused on why you’re saying data entry is your only skill — seriously? You can learn new ones, too, and it sounds like you have a lot more you’re undervaluing. I mean, even data entry’s soft skills are pretty much most people’s hard jobs. Why do you need to be good with numbers? I am a data analyst and I have weak mental arithmetic skills coupled with a poor sense of estimation and numbers in general. I do math slow and bad. I can do my job just fine, in fact, I do it very well. However, I do this by telling people I will not be calculating things on the spot, but I am happy to get them a report by (date). Thankfully, like most analyst, I rely on programs that actually do the math itself and by having an understanding of what I am asking the program to do rather than calculating things — it’s the theory behind the numbers and that’s a lot easier. However, I double/triple/quadruple check my write-ups anyway and I utilize critical thinking skills more than anything in my line of work.

          You don’t need to want to work — many people don’t wanna work, but it’s a harsh reality that most of us will have to. You’re not unique in this regard, but your hate of working is being massively amplified by doing work you hate. Many of us are alone, too. It’s hard but it’s not what you should be focusing on — if you’re the only person you have to rely on then you need to really emphasize happiness. If you break down, who will take care of you? Only you. You owe it to yourself to TRY to find something to make you happy. Stress is a sickness by itself and chronic stress makes you sicker and sicker.

          You have options but you will not see them until you see a professional that can help you reframe your thought process. I am telling you firmly but gently that this stuck feeling you have is real to you but not objective reality. You have not written anything that says ‘stuck’ here physically or professionally, just mentally. See what your insurance covers in terms of therapy or if your work has an Employee Assistance Plan.

          You are the only person who can help yourself. You don’t need to care about your job or the industry — look at the facts: you hate your current job and industry. So who cares what you care about or if you have my passion for another industry? You don’t like your current situation and you have the power to change it. You’re your only barrier here unless you have some other information beyond your post.

          1. ina*

            After reading some of your replies to others as well, your job sounds vindictive and punitive as well. The part of me that’s overly suspicious makes me think they’re trying to limit your options to get you to stay — and if your work was really that bad, they wouldn’t want that.

            I suspect you’re a very good worker, good at your job, and your job knows this, which is why they haven’t fired you despite multiple write-ups or whatever these letters are. They’re short staffed and overworking you because they think you’re stuck and they have convinced you that you are when you aren’t.

            Having an exit strategy will make the last few months at this place much more tolerable, trust me. Keep applying to other jobs at other orgs. Use friends, family, a coworker you’re friendly with, the person you have a conversational relationship with at work, or whoever you have on tap to be a reference.

    3. Irish Teacher*

      It doesn’t sound at all like you are a bad person. It just sounds like your job is a poor fit for you. That really sucks, especially if it is potentially sabotaging your chances of getting a job that would be a better fit, but…it isn’t a judgement of you as a person. It’s just bad luck.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Came here to say this as well.
        Please see if you can get some therapy to help you out of this! I’m sure you’re not a bad person! It sounds like you’re a round peg person stuck in a square hole job.
        Good luck and we’re all rooting for you!

    4. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Not being able to do your job very well does not make you a bad person. You are just not a suitable employee for this particular job – that’s not a moral failure.
      Did the duties change from the original job description, or didn’t you realise it would be a poor fit?

      However, the phrase “letters about my bad behavior” sounds odd. Do you mean these are describing mistakes you keep making, or is this actual behaviours e.g. lashing out verbally in frustration, or not working the required hours/days?
      If the latter, then you need to correct your work behaviour – show the basic soft skills of polite relations with coworkers – to keep this job or any future job.

      Sounds like a different job within your organisation isn’t feasible with your HR record, but do keep applying for data entry jobs at other organisations that don’t have any customer service or other duties you can’t do – don’t jump into another bad fit. Many AAMers have said it can take ages to find a new job, but keep investing time in a good resume and tailored cover letters when you apply.

  52. Izzy Legal*

    Seeking advice regarding internal mobility.

    I applied for a promotion; it’s on a different team than I am on now. Any insight re: transition time (I have a major product launch in November, my potential new team has their product launch in January), prepping for interviews when the new team is mostly remote, and calming down my line manager who is supportive but also freaking out.

  53. The problem customer*

    For all you customer/public-facing folks, what’s the best way for a customer to raise an issue to a manager without being, well, a “can I speak to your manager” meme?

    We moved out of the apartment complex and our last bill has $200 in late fees even though we paid on time. Every time I call, they say they’ll take a look at it right away or send it to their manager, and then I don’t hear back. Emails go unanswered. I need someone with authority to resolve this, but I don’t know how to say that without sounding like a jerk.

    1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      It’s $200–you’re not being a jerk for asking to speak to a manager about it. This is not you trying to use expired coupons or demanding something that isn’t done.

    2. Busy Middle Manager*

      “I called about this on 8/2, I emailed on 8/12, I called again on 8/25. Is this outside of your job? Can you connect me with the person who can handle this?”

      “It’s me”

      “Oh, OK, so what are you waiting for?”

      If their answer to that question is BS, then feel free to ask for the manager. What are they going to say, “no I want to keep not doing it?”

      1. ina*

        +1 to this. Show your good faith effort first, get a question in that gives them the option of letting you deal with someone else at the very least, and then do the head-on confrontation. I think “what are you waiting for” is a little straightforward. I’d go for “Oh, OK. Could you give me a date when this will be resolved then? It’s been a month already.”

        If they say, “I can’t give you can exact date.”

        Then, “Can you tell me what the hold up is?” / “What are you waiting for?”

        1. Busy Middle Manager*

          also it just occurred to me that OP is framing this as “front line person will be insulted.”

          It is also possible the exact opposite is true. They may be thinking “I’ve been asking my boss to give them an adjustment every day for a month, they’re never going to do it, so let them explain that directly to the customer!”

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      It’s not asking for a manager that’s a problem; it’s how and when some people do it. Just be calm an polite. But get the manager’s name and contact information.

      And $200 is a not insignificant amount. You have every right to get it back.

      1. Angstrom*

        I’ve said, in a friendly tone, “I need to register a complaint, and I know the problem isn’t your fault. May I speak with a manager?”
        People in frontline jobs often have responsibility but no authority. Politely going over their heads should not be a problem.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Sometimes they *want* you to ask for a manager. (Some places have rules against staff offering that as an option.)

        2. mreasy*

          This is a great strategy! I like the phrasing – I say the “I know this isn’t your fault” bit but this is a really elegant way to ask for someone higher up.

    4. Just here for the scripts*

      This is NOT a non-issue. You are NOT being a jerk.

      I would document the attempts to get this addressed (as per Busy Middle Manage) in an email AND cc the people listed as management on the company’s website. If that doesn’t get you traction, I would move into writing SMedia posts and reviews of the situation in Google reviews.

      1. Just here for the scripts*

        And yes, I work in a public-facing role…and am horrified at how you’re being treated.

    5. Decidedly Me*

      It’s fine to ask for a manager, just don’t be rude about it. Had a customer today ask one of my folks to talk to a manager and they were totally in the right to do so!

    6. KittyGhost*

      The one I usually use is “Can you help me with [insert problem here]?” When they say they can’t, I then ask “Do you know who can help me with [insert problem here]?”. That being said, in this situation I think it is worth asking to directly speak to their manager. You have $200 on the line. The “do you know who can help me with this” approach works best if you need to escalate to Someone Who Actually Knows the Answer Or Has The Power to Solve the Problem.

    7. A Frayed Knot*

      It’s hard to say “I’ll take a look at it later” when you are standing in front of them. “I’ve taken time away from my job to get this cleared up. I’ll wait while you look at it now.” (and don’t move away from their desk or allow them to ignore you while you stand there.) If they can’t handle it right now, who is available to help you? After all, you have taken time away from your job; they can at least give you the courtesy of handling this issue promptly.

      One of my life mottos is “No is an acceptable answer. Ignoring my is not.”

  54. Tangerine Protumberance*

    I’m working as a full time contractor in the Accounting world. I have guaranteed hours, PTO, and benefits, and I’ve worked for companies doing everything from basic AP processing to fully revamping and documenting processes and procedures for accurate reporting. Most of my contracts are for 3-6 months and my company has never had a problem placing me immediately.

    I’m neurodivergent and find this job really plays to my strengths: by the time I’m done putting out fires and the job becomes predictable, I tend to get bored anyway, and that’s generally when the company hires a full-time person and I move on to the next adventure with a new set of challenges and puzzles. The one problem is there’s not a lot of room for raises and advancement. My pay is comfortable now, but the increases are small and won’t suit me forever. I don’t want to be a people manager, but I love spreadsheets and creative problem-solving and process improvement. Outside of work I’m socially anxious and the thought of running my own business and finding my own clients/negotiating contracts terrifies me, so freelancing isn’t something I’ve ever seriously considered. Does anyone have suggestions for a job I could move into someday that could pay well and let me do the problem solving I love without permanently settling into the rote daily grind that traditionally makes me want to run?

    1. FrogPenRibbets*

      Hah… If I wasn’t hiding I’d offer up my company as a good alternative for you. Stable company but with lots of fires and aggressive projects :) It’s why I’ve stuck around as long as I have! Seriously there are companies out there that you would probably thrive in, you just have to ride out the boring lulls between the chaos.

      Also people managing tends to add a dash of mayhem into any role, it’s never long before you are onboarding someone, dealing with their fires, or oops forgetting that annual review or whatever is due in a week.

      My other goal in all of my positions is to work myself out of a job, then I can delegate my daily grind and farm myself out to projects and process improvements. It allows me to get the thrill of a challenge while having a comfy home.

      As for the boring lulls, I tend to find work hobbies. I take on extra oddball responsibilities, I take classes in tangentially related things (I became a hobby MS Sharepoint admin and designer), I’m POC for my department and review contract terms related to our area

      Jump into management and you’ll find a lot of opportunity for fun.

      1. Tangerine Protumberance*

        Whoops, accidentally posted at first as a new thread instead of a reply.

        It’s a sensible idea, but I have worked as a manager before and been totally unsuited. I can juggle a lot at once, but I’m generally conflict-avoidant and had to really push myself when I had to give any negative feedback in the past. Granted, I’m sure I’d be better now that I’m older and have had some therapy, but if a path exists that has less “people management”, I’d love to explore it.

    2. OtterB*

      Is there somebody who supervises you at your contracting company that you could talk to about career paths? I’m wondering if there’s a specialty area that you could work in that would let you make more money and let your company charge more for your services. Either a particular industry, or a particular area of accounting.

    3. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      Since you say there isn’t room for advancement, does that mean you’re working for more of temp-agency style firm, where you’re placed as an individual, short term employee? Versus being a consultant in a professional services firm (PwC and Deloitte come to mind for accounting, though smaller might be better). Lots of consulting jobs do what you like, you’d come in as a “fixer” or expert as part of a project team. This could be hiding under terms like accounting and reporting services, management consulting, and HR / workforce solutions. Consulting is great for ND folks who get bored.

    4. Synaptically Unique*

      My first thought was Compliance-related roles. With your background, maybe forensic auditing would be a fit, but any type of compliance (healthcare, research, OSHA, education, accreditation – lots of different angles). Lots of fires, always exceptions based on the specific variables, so problem-solvers are the most successful in those roles. But also stability and career progression opportunies that aren’t necessarily going to involve people-management.

  55. TeenieBopper*

    No real question here, but the link popped up in my Facebook feed as I’m processing the following information.

    My hours are being cut from 5 days a week to 2 days a week with a commiserate cut in pay. I’m eligible for unemployment for those three days. Unemployment doesn’t come close to covering that gap.

    I’m closing on a house in literally two hours.

    I’m freaking out.

    1. ina*

      1) Close on your house! Congrats!!

      2) Apply for unemployment. It might not cover it, but you’re entitled to it.

      3) Do good work at your current job still.

      4) Look for a new job and use those 3 days you have now to break in your new home & clean up our resume and cover letter. And apply to new jobs when you have!

      5) Not sure if you can do side-gigs for extra income, but there is that. Look into where you can tighten the belt (food banks, etc) until you’re back with a full-time job. Now’s not the time for pride or whatever reasons people find more to access services meant exactly for times like this.

  56. This Old House*

    I know this has come up before, but just how inappropriate is it to not wear a bra to the office? In a fairly casual setting but I’ve never noticed anyone else not wearing a bra before (or things that I might imagine would go along with similar decisions, like women obviously not shaving their legs, etc.; I’ve worked at places where those things were not unheard of, and this isn’t one of them). I’m 6 months pregnant, and even having gone out of my way to get bras that fit better now, I’m finding that any pressure from a bra band significantly increases my discomfort (heartburn, nausea, indigestion). I’m also more well-endowed than I used to be, so it would be more obvious! I’m half considering asking for an official accommodation to work from home just so I don’t have to wear a bra. (I could potentially make this request about general discomfort and fatigue rather than naming the bra as the specific reason.) Or I could just come to work and not wear a bra, but I fear that would be obviously out of step in my office.

    1. ina*

      > asking for an official accommodation to work from home just so I don’t have to wear a bra.

      I don’t think you need to do this because…what is there to accommodate? Just stop wearing a bra. If no one says anything, good. If someone says something, go to HR because that’s really inappropriate for them to comment on. If your boss says someone said something, then you disclose why and…you continue to not wear a bra.

      I guess my recommendation would be to get nipple covers, at the very least, as erect nipples are probably the think people ‘clock’ when someone is bra-less. Otherwise, boobs come in all shapes and sizes as do bras so I’m hard-pressed on how or why someone would even be wondering “are they or aren’t they?!”

    2. Alex*

      I think you’re fine, as long as you wear a thicker/loose fitting shirt, or maybe even layers. Can you wear a tank top under a shirt? I find that helps a bit with the obviousness of not wearing a bra.

      If someone makes a comment about your boobs when you are six months pregnant, I think it is perfectly fine to tell them to shove it.

      1. CapyBarbara*

        Seconded – I always wear a tank top under my shirt if I don’t wear a bra. I don’t do it often (thank you, large chest) but on a casual Friday when I know I’m not seeing any clients, I’ll dress comfy. My office is always freezing cold, so tank top underneath shirt, plus sweater/cardigan isn’t noticeable. Or at least, not noticeable enough for anyone to say anything.

    3. EMP*

      I’d buy some silicone nipple covers/pasties and try that instead of a bra. It makes bra-less-ness much less obvious and might bridge the gap between letting it all hang out and “business professional” for you (especially since IME pregnancy can make your nipples more pronounced)

    4. Whomst*

      5 months pregnant here, so I feel you. I’ll go without if my top is thick enough/layered such that nipples aren’t apparent, otherwise I’m not comfortable with it. I probably could go without entirely because my coworkers are all professional and/or oblivious men and I’m never customer facing, but that’s my personal comfort level. We’re coming up on cardigan and sweater weather, so I anticipate that I’ll be almost entirely braless once cooler weather arrives. I find the more women there are in the office, the more likely someone will notice and call you out on going without.

    5. Ginger Baker*

      I haven’t worn one in my very corporate office in over five years now. I wear patterned shirts (bonus if they are a textured fabric) and sometimes a blazer or sweater/shawl over. It’s fine. And I am probably a D cup, with uhhhh fairly noticeable nipples without the patterned fabric. I literally check for Nipple Camouflage Effect when shopping for shirts and all of mine are very effective (asking for a friend-opinion is great for this purpose).

    6. Panicked*

      Others are correct that no one should ever bring up the fact that you’re not wearing a bra. It’s none of their business! If you want a bit of support without a tight band, I’m a big fan of camisole tops with a built in bralette. It’s not tight at all, but it gives a nice “shelf” for everything to rest on. Takes some weight off of your back too!

      1. JustaTech*

        If you’re thinking about a tank with a built in bralette there are also nursing tank tops with the special clips that have a little more fabric in the front for camouflage.
        They might still be snug around the ribcage, though.

    7. No name*

      I started wearing nursing bras or tanks when I was about 6 months pregnant. I don’t know why they’re so much more comfortable than regular bras, but they are. Also, tops designed to accommodate nursing usually have extra layers of fabric and would make going braless very hard to notice.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, this. I love underwire bras because they fit me, but when I was pregnant and my breasts grew enough that I had to buy new bras anyway because the old ones were uncomfortable, I got some nursing bras. Granted, they ended up being too small for when our son was actually born, but I could use them again for a while when I stopped breastfeeding him.

  57. Buni*

    I just…don’t know what employers wants any more. I applied for a job whose main duties were, let’s say, Excercising and Feeding of Llamas. I have 20+ years experience as a llama herder and a degree in Animal Nutrition. Not even an interview.

    The form refection email said they could not enter into correspondance about it; I don’t want to contact them to plead my case, but I’d love to just to ask….what [i]do[/i] you want?!

    1. Hlao-roo*

      There are sooooo many things that go on in hiring that cannot be seen from the outside. A small sampling:

      – they wanted a more junior person for the position
      – they assumed they couldn’t meet your salary expectations
      – they realized they didn’t need the position after all and rejected all of the candidates
      – someone from inside the company applied for the job and they rejected all of the external candidates
      – someone you bullied in high school is the head of the llama department and rejected you as soon as they read your name (this is a callback to a letter to show how things that seem unrelated can affect hiring decisions, not me suggesting you were a bully in high school)

      If it’s just this one application you haven’t heard back from, put it out of your mind and focus on applying to other places. If you haven’t heard back from several* places, the first areas to examine are (1) your resume, (2) your cover letters, and (3) how well your skills and experience levels match the job’s you’re applying for.

      *what number of not-hearing-back/rejections indicate a problem with your applications vs the state of the job market is heavily dependent on what field you’re in, how many companies are hiring, and how many people in your field are looking for jobs

      1. Buni*

        Honestly, and without ego, I suspect it’s mostly your first point. It was only a little casual hourly-paid weekend gig (the pay was clearly stated) and this is a job very like the one I did professionally for many years. I think they wanted more late-teens / uni-students-with-free-time rather than someone looking for a long-term filler…

    2. ina*

      My top five guesses are always:

      1) Some internal applied who fit the bill and employers are lazy. Someone with lots of institutional knowledge and the know-how is a shoo-in compared to 20+ years of general experience. A sub-point to this is that they always had an internal candidate they wanted, but they have some policy to publicly advertise OR they were sincerely looking to hire someone outside if a perfect fit came along.

      2) Someone with more experience or tailored experience or a higher degree applied and they said, “Score! More points for less pay!”

      3) They didn’t think you’d accept what they are paying (if there is no openly displayed pay band — another reason for pay transparency because let the applicant make the choice to see if they are willing to accept what you’re offering!)

      4) Only ONE of the qualifications is really what they cared about and you didn’t have enough of it despite meeting everything else.

      5) The hiring manager spilled coffee on your app and too embarrassed to ask for a new one, sent an auto-rejection (the catch-all ‘humans are in charge so expect some silliness and illogical choices’)

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      All of the possibilities people posted above are real ones, but also sometimes it’s just that you get 100 highly qualified applicants and you can’t interview all of them. Candidates tend to look at it as pass/fail — like either you’re good enough for the interview/the job or you aren’t — but very often employer have dozens (or more) qualified candidates and have to pick and choose who they’re going to interview, and that’s all it is.

      (Alternately, it can be that your materials aren’t representing you as well as they need to.)

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes, sometimes it’s definitely pure weight of numbers. We advertised a fairly junior, admin type job in my company a couple of months ago and got 70 applications. We could not interview everyone who met the requirements of the job or we’d have been there all day.

        I’m sure we didn’t interview some extremely qualified people but we just couldn’t.

      2. fhqwhgads*

        Yep. For the last two jobs we posted we got 600 applicants in less than a week and closed the post since we definitely didn’t need more applications. At least 100 of each were well qualified, but we weren’t going to interview them all. I think the hiring manager picked 20 to move forward to phone screen and technical test? They interviewed 5 of those.
        You might be amazing, but if 20 other people seem just as amazing on paper, sometimes they’re just not gonna get to you.

  58. CakeSniffer*

    Can anyone point me to resources for switching from a supported payroll system (Paychex, specifically) to manual payroll processing? I feel like I need a crash course on payroll since I’ve only ever done payroll with the support of companies that handle that stuff for us. I’m especially concerned about paying our taxes, quarterly reports, and new hire reporting. I’m completely lost and have no idea where to find a list of additional responsibilities I’ll have to take on. I’m fine with the actual payroll processing as we have some support for that but everything else concerns me. How do I become a self-taught payroll expert?

    1. HBJ*

      I do our payroll manually via an excel spreadsheet I created. It was hard to learn at first. I literally googled “how to run payroll.” So those articles were sort of helpful for the basics, but they all said “track hours, withhold taxes, pay employees.” WHAT taxes? All of them are generic. Great, I have to pay FUTA. HOW MUCH IS FUTA? Great, I have to withhold social security. HOW MUCH? Honestly, what helped me the most was literally the IRS tax publications – more helpful than anything else! It took a lot of googling, more than it should have, for me to find where the actual numbers are.

      I recommend downloading (or ordering for free) IRS pub. 15 and reading the whole thing. It has the percentages, dates for when forms are due, etc. I literally printed out the important bits and went over it with a highlighter! Also, pub. 15-t, which is what has the tables and forms for manually calculating federal withholding.

    2. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      Please, if you change, let Paychex know. We get maul for them at our home regularly… and the folks who used them haven’t lived here in four or five years! I gave up trying to get the stuff to them and it doesn’t matter how many times I return to sender.

    3. Daisy--Duck, not Duke*

      To add on to what HBJ said, do the same for your state’s taxes as well. And if you live in a state that allows local payroll taxes or “fees,” etc, you’ll need to do that for them as well. Basically, I would recommend looking at your own paystub and googling each and every single line item on it so that in addition to FUTA you can also see what UC, LST, EIT (or whatever your acronyms are) mean for your jurisdiction.
      Then you have to think about wage garnishment, child support withholding (I believe it’s required in my state), retirement withholding (if it’s offered), etc.
      Are they willing to consider one of the commercially available payroll products? They should have the state information provided. It’s the local stuff I would most concerned about.

  59. Simone*

    I was terminated for the usual “performance” reason, despite my evals all being fine. My leadership also cited things like my “outbursts” in meetings when they announced their intent to break wage laws by withholding pay if you didnt send a timesheet before their deadline.
    I’m confused how HR allows things like that, when it opens the employer up to litigation. they wouldn’t even negotiate on severance, even with the offer of a hold harmless clause for giving in to my offer.
    How do I recover from this, professionally? how about personally since I’m beyond traumatized..

    1. ferrina*

      Personally, know that you are not the only one. There’s a whole field of psychology on trauma and a sub-specialty on workplace trauma. If you can find a therapist to help you process this, that can be a great tool. There are also books, memes, and social media influencers who have made great material on this (there’s some great psychologists and licensed therapists who post on youtube). Be gentle to yourself and don’t try to rush the healing- let yourself acknowledge your feelings.

      Professionally, move to the next place. Are there senior colleagues from your old workplace who can be references? Usually the old company won’t tell interviewers every thing about you- HR will usually just say whether or not you are eligible for re-hire. Unfortunately, they probably said you were not eligible for re-hire, so when it gets to the reference checking stage of your interview, you might want to say “I’d like to give you a head’s up that I was let go from my last place due to raising concerns about illegal compensation practices. I can give you the name of several references who can vouch for that, but I’m not sure what the HR file will say.” You can also have a professional-sounding friend do a fake refence check with the company so you can see what they will say. Ideally you’d also have copies of your review, but you may not have thought to do that (most of us wouldn’t unless we’ve been in this situation)

      Also, talk to a lawyer. This sounds like retaliation for pointing out illegal practices. If nothing else, you may be able to negotiate with them for what they will say to any reference checkers.

    2. ina*

      > withholding pay if you didnt send a timesheet before their deadline

      Are they saying they wouldn’t pay you at all or that your pay would be delayed? If it’s the latter, my (public, state) institution warns about this every pay period if you aren’t a clock-in, clock-out employee or salaried (that is, for all employees who are required to submit hours through their portal for your manager’s approval). A quick google says it’s against the law, but it’s one of those things that might have been better suited for tactful push back…or frankly, this is a “smile while your enemy walks right into their own trap” situation. You can file a claim with the DOL the moment they don’t follow the agreed pay schedule. In ‘right to work’ states, they can fire you for most legal things (not in their best interest), but they probably wrote down “insubordination” or something similar to ‘we didn’t quite like their attitude, ha-rumph!’ As for the ‘hold harmless clause,’ not sure what they’d get out of that from what you wrote, which is probably why it’s not helping in negotiations…

      If you search the site, there are a few letters and advices on how to talk about your firing in future interviews (search “fired” as a start). If it helps, many places I have been applying to right no don’t really bother asking if you’ve been fired from a previous job. Just be careful to not bad mouth your previous employer and be short and sweet about it.

  60. Bluebonnet*

    I am interested in listing myself as “open to work” on LinkedIn. However, I have co-worker contacts on LinkedIn and am concerned about possible negative effects if everyone knows I am looking for a job.

    In your experience, is it more beneficial to have the “open to work” status or stay under the radar on LinkedIn if currently employed? Would changing to the open status attract more recruiters?

    1. I'm just here for the cats!!*

      I doubt they will even notice. It’s highly likely that people are looking at your linkedin page all that closely.

    2. leeapeea*

      In my experience recruiters will contact you if you appear interesting regardless of your “open to work” status. You’d have to judge it based on what you know of the co-workers that use LI. I work in a small office and it would definitely be noticed by the one guy who’s on the board and is on LI a lot. If you don’t think anyone that could affect your current employment would notice, then you’re probably fine to do it.

    3. pally*

      My understanding: The “open to work” settings are either:
      all LinkedIn members
      or
      recruiters only
      So if your co-workers are not recruiters or have a recruiter level subscription in LI, they won’t see the “open to work” setting on your profile.

  61. handfulofbees*

    any tips on dealing with folks who will absolutely steamroll thru a conversation?

    met with a volunteer at my org recently to get some info. this was the first time I’d had a long talk with him, and wow. He kept me an hour while I tried to very clearly extract myself from the conversation – bringing up something new to address right after I said I needed to leave. I know he’s had issues before with talking people into stuff they didn’t want to do – esp women – and I can see why this is an issue bc he’s almost impossible to shut down. it’s difficult enough when you’re working with him, but I can imagine it being a lot worse if he wants something or is disagreeing with you.

    any tips on being able to take more control in a convo with him? it’s going to be hard for me bc I’m agreeable and conflict adverse, but I can tell I’m going to need to step up my game to work with him.

    1. ferrina*

      Walk away. He has shown that he will not stop. You cannot control him, but you can control yourself as an audience.

      Don’t wait for an opening. Interrupt him.
      “Sorry, Bob, I need to run.”
      Start turning as soon as you say “Sorry, Bob,” and be walking away calling over your shoulder as you say “I need to run”.
      Don’t stop if he tries to call you back. Don’t slow down. If needed, call over your shoulder one more time (from 20 ft away) “Sorry!”

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Seconding. It will feel rude to do walk away without answering, but he is the one being rude by not responding to your clear and direct “I need to leave” statements.

        If you’re talking face-to-face, ferrina’s advice is good. If you are on the phone (or a video call), hang up directly after you say “I need to leave.” If you’re in a place with a door, walk him to the outside, then close the door. You’ll probably feel like “oh my god, did I just do that” the first time you hang up on/close the door on someone who’s still talking, and the answer is yes! You did that! You exited the conversation when you needed/wanted to. And Bob is still alive. His feelings may be a bit hurt, but no other damage was done (and this was never going to have a painless ending because either his feelings get hurt or you are frustrated because you spent way longer than you wanted to talking to him).

      2. Unkempt Flatware*

        Agreed. My father does this. Because he’s my dad, I have the agency to say, “oh that’s not when you try to introduce a new topic of conversation” or, “dad when one person says the conversation is over, you have nowhere else to go but away”.

  62. UnemployedInGreenland*

    Has anyone successfully (or not) negotiated more severance pay when they have lost a job?

    So… not a great start to the holiday weekend here. I lost my job yesterday. I was there for 14 months in a senior manager position. It’s a similar story to many, I’m sure. New leadership comes in and wants to remake the department in their image. I didn’t fit the image the new person had, so they trumped up some (truly) ridiculous excuses and terminated me. Moving on.

    They are offering me 4 weeks severance, as long as I sign the letter stating, among other things, that I will not disparage the company. I wouldn’t do that anyway, but I feel like if they want to buy my silence it will cost them more than 4 weeks. They tossed me out on the street in a tough job market – many recent layoffs in my sector – and I am also an older person. It is much harder to find a job at this stage. They are also offering 2 months of paid health coverage.

    Any advice? Should I just take what they offer? Should I try for 6 weeks? 8 weeks? Additional month of health coverage?

    1. ina*

      4 weeks for about a year of service is the standard, I think, but I think it’s pretty weak all things considered. This is especially considering you are senior management. I’d try for 8, settle for 6 (considering it’s a year and almost three months and if they’re tabulating it 1 week per 3 months worked, you’re entitled to at *least* 5 weeks, at this point).

    2. EMP*

      4 weeks for ~1 year tenure sounds about standard to me, but you may as well ask for more if you think you can get it.

    3. WellRed*

      There is no incentive for them to give you additional severance because they don’t need you to stay on for a period of time.

  63. inv*

    okay, i’ve taken everyone’s advice! i’m looking into getting experience with data analysis at my current job with the medical research that’s done by one of the doctors. I also have been researching PGcerts and I have found one that looks good at GA Tech ( I live near Atlanta), it’s in business analytics which is something i’m interested in long term. Any thoughts on the pgcert at ech, thinking i might due it after i have a year or two of experience?

  64. I'm just here for the cats!!*

    So I was reading some of the comments and I just thought of something weird that happened several years ago. So at the time I worked at a call center. We were told in March that the call center in our town was closing in June and we would all be laid off then. We were told that we cannot say anything to anyone, except our direct family members. It wasn’t until end of April that they made it public knowledge.

    What I’m wondering is, what should have people done if they were interviewing before it was public knowledge and they were asked why they were leaving? You shouldn’t/couldn’t say the company was closing. I guess you could come up with something vague.

    1. Bluebonnet*

      I am glad they at least warned you they were closing. My friend worked at a call center that closed without notice and immediately let everyone go. I was sad to hear this since my friend said this center employed a lot of single mothers.

    2. rainyday*

      I’d say that the company was closing. If I got the job, doesn’t matter that I’ve upset my old employers, I don’t owe them anything. If I don’t, they’ll never know. Yes, the truth will be out, but it would be very unlikely to come back to me. This kind of thing gets out anyway, I bet lots of people in the area knew before April.

    3. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      “You shouldn’t/couldn’t say the company was closing. ”
      You could & should have unless you were given money to sign an NDA:
      That company was ending your job. Your loyalty / responsibility to them was to do your work properly as long as you are there, but not to jeopordise in any way your chance at a new job by waffling out a made-up reason for leaving.
      No feasible consequence of answering truthfully in interview – how would your old company even know that you had told someone

  65. AnotherAcademic*

    Looking for wording to suggest that the 2nd-in-charge has too much responsibility.

    I joined my academic department around the same time as many others. I think, in an attempt to ease our responsibilities, the boss (Jimmy) and the guy underneath him (Sam) took on many things that should be faculty responsibility (things like determining which students we admit, approving new courses, etc.). Non-academics may not understand, but under a faculty governance model, faculty ought to be making many of these decisions themselves.

    Now that we’ve built up a good core of experienced, tenured faculty, like myself, I’d like to suggest that faculty take the reins back. But when I’ve broached this, Sam has been defensive and hurt. I think he’s doing an okay job, but it’s not really his job to do! The latest thing is mentoring: he was giving advice to junior faculty members about choosing mentors, but he’s not a faculty member himself, so I see this as over-stepping his role. Further complicating matters is that Jimmy has just stepped down, replaced by Rebecca. She’s still feeling things out.

    Suggestions for how to approach the situation? Should I talk to Rebecca or wait for her to broach things like faculty responsibilities? Would love suggestions for non-confrontational wording as well.

    1. Reba*

      I’m not familiar with a setup where non-faculty chair departments. But, I would suggest that you have a one-on-one with Rebecca as a “new chair getting to know people” thing, and say to her you think it would be good to discuss and rethink roles and responsibilities in the department. Ask her if she plans to or is willing to raise this at a meeting and share out to the department what her approach to faculty governance will be. It’s a natural time to change how things are done when you have new leadership, and the people will want to hear direction from their director!

  66. Lawn care drama*

    Okay, part venting, but if anyone has a suggestion then I’m all ears. Back story: there’s a guy who wandered around our neighborhood looking for lawn care odd jobs and latched onto our house because we had a raggedy looking yard. I put him off for awhile because I don’t generally like having someone else take care of the yard – I’ve got a bunch of baby plants growing that eventually I want to have take over, but we can’t afford a full landscape redo right now, so it’s partly just dealing with grass until there can be no more grass, and I’ve had lawn care workers just mow right over all of the baby plants – but eventually I said yes. He was very skillful with the lawn care and tried to be careful with the baby plants, mostly missed them, and did an amazing job. We had him come back, and he kept doing a great job. Alls well that ends well, right?

    Well, all was not well. One of the problems is that he’s hard to get ahold of and can’t always come. As in, didn’t have a good contact number and just… didn’t show for several weeks. I understand where he’s coming from – he’s got significant health problems and is just doing this because it’s a skill he has and he desperately needs money – but it didn’t help on my end because we had actual lawn care needs (like the need for the grass not to be up to my hip!). The work he does is high-quality, the only reason we kept hiring him, but what we really needed was dependability.

    Then he started doing stuff like stashing his equipment in our yard and on our porch without asking. This culminated in his lawnmower sitting in our back yard for the entire winter. I moved it to a spot under a tree where nothing was growing, but still. Also, despite him having been told that I was the person who decided if we had work for him, and what evenings I was home, he apparently would drop by all the time in the middle of the day and bang on the front door until my housemate (who works in the living room and can be seen from the front door) would come answer it, when he would ask for work.

    This year we bought a lawnmower, and decided we would deal with it ourselves. Said housemate told him shortly that we had a lawnmower now and wouldn’t be needing his services anymore. All was well for awhile.

    But then we decided over the summer to let the lawn go a bit. In our area there’s no rain for most of the summer and so lawns tend to die back; we decided to leave it alone for now because it’s barely growing and start mowing again in the fall. This is normal in our neighborhood. There are a few houses that never mow, and a few that don’t water ever and so their lawns are dead dead and not just dormant, as well as of course a few that do basic maintenance (mowing and watering). But apparently he’s noticed this and has started dropping by again. Once again he’s banging at the door in the middle of the day (when I’m in the office), and apparently not wanting to listen to No.

    So any suggestions on what to do? (Commiseration is also fine.) My spouse and housemate both have my blessing to tell him no, but I really can’t because I’m not here anymore when he comes by (I worked 100% from home due to the pandemic until last fall). I don’t want to call the police because he’s not being threatening, just annoying and persistent, and he’s an older, scruffy-looking Black man and I don’t want to risk how the police might respond to him. I’ll probably give the lawn a good mowing once it starts growing again and that might be the end of it, but I don’t want to be pressured into mowing the lawn for that reason. Any thoughts?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Is there a non-onerous way to solve the “housemate can be seen from the front door” problem? Maybe lace curtains on the front windows (so housemate can still see out the window/have natural light, but he can’t see that someone’s home from the outside)?

      Another thought is to get an internet connected video doorbell. I don’t have one, but I’ve seen commercials where some of them have the option to talk to people on your front stoop. You could tell him through your phone/the doorbell that you don’t need lawn care, so it doesn’t just fall on the people who happen to physically be in the house when he comes by.

    2. EMP*

      TBH I’d start threatening to escalate if he won’t take no for an answer. I wouldn’t threaten (or call!) the police but vague things like “We don’t need lawn care and if you keep bothering [housemate] while she’s working I’m going to have to file a nuisance complaint with the town”. It sounds like he’s very persistent and you’re very nice, and you may need to just be meaner to get him to leave you alone.

      1. Rick Tq*

        If he keeps coming by after you have told him no and to not come again it is completely appropriate to call the police, if only to have a record of how many times he comes to harass you after being told to go away. The police aren’t likely to do much unless he escalates to threats anyway.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have a sign on my door that says “Residents are probably working. Between the dog and the security camera, we know you’re there. Please do not knock or ring the bell, we are set for windows, siding, politics, religion, landscaping and anything else you might be selling, unless you’re a Girl Scout selling cookies.” I’ve had one random passerby who did ring the bell since I put it up (barring the occasional delivery person who legit needed a signature), and that was a kid living in the cul-de-sac who had picked up a dropped keychain in the road and was checking with the neighbors to see if anyone recognized it.

      1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

        Yeah, a “no soliciting” sign might be your easiest next approach. And a “no, we are not interested no matter what our yard looks like, leave us alone or we’ll file a nuisance complaint” if the sign doesn’t work.

  67. LMC*

    I applied for a position at an organization and their interview process included written pre-screening questions. I answered the questions and got the opportunity for a video interview, but ultimately didn’t get that position. They are considering me for a different position, and I’m basically starting the interview process over again. They sent me another round of pre-screen questions, some of them are the same, but some of them are different. Can I re-use the same answers I gave before? Would that come off as lazy? On the other hand, my answers before presumably got me to the next round of interviews. What do you think?

    1. Rick Tq*

      I’d tune any old answers you reuse to address the question in light of the new position where you can, especially if it hasn’t been very long since your last time thru their recruiting process.

  68. kiki*

    How do you handle it when a coworker is complaining about something that is kind of just part of the job? Or honestly, part of any job?

    I am a product owner on a team of developers. Recently, one of the developers has been complaining about our daily stand-up meeting. Not anything specific about the meeting (I’ve asked if he wants to reschedule, if he thinks I can improve its efficiency– he says no), just that we have them daily and he has to attend. I don’t want to invalidate his experience, but generally he has just this one meeting per day (I see his schedule and am in part responsible for scheduling a lot of the meetings he would be in). I also don’t want to bring up my own meeting schedule in contrast (I have hours of meetings per day), but it’s really tiring to hear somebody complain about having to check-in and give an update once per day.

    Any advice?

    1. kiki*

      (This meeting is also remote and cameras-off– it’s really the least intrusive meeting you can imagine.)

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        It could be me in another reality. Stand-up is pretty worthless as a programmer (I know, the Agile acolytes will pull a No True Scotsman in defense of Scrum. We refer to it as Festivus for good reasons).

        If the meeting’s solely for your benefit, can your peer just send you a written summary instead? I know that’d be more useful than the Stand Up ritual, and involve less repeating of one’s self.

        If it’s all above your head, grey rock it, commiserate gently with “yea, but they keep the paycheques coming” and transition into ignoring the ranting from there.

        1. kiki*

          I benefit a lot from the meeting, but the whole team does too, even if this programmer doesn’t recognize it. There have been so many times a dev will give their update and then someone else catches something one dev said that doesn’t match-up correctly to their expectation, they know a faster way to do it, etc. It’s also just 15 minutes per day. We’ve done async stand-ups from time to time and while they’re great occasionally, I have found that we’ve missed some issues because written overviews sent async just don’t allow the same collaboration as a 15 minute sync.

          1. kiki*

            In particular, this dev frequently gets tips and pointers based on his updates stand-up that end up saving him time or get him back on track. I think that’s part of the issue that is especially aggravating to me– he in particular reaps more benefits than others on the team. It’s also, again, just 15 minutes and usually the only meeting of his whole day.

            1. Someone Online*

              Are you in a position where you can point out specific examples? Like, “Well, it was really helpful to hear that Johnson needed more llama pictures on the project so we didn’t waste time on pistachio flavor,” to see if he starts getting the point?

      2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

        How long is this standup? If a standup is more than 90 seconds per person, then it’s not really a stand-up.

        Sola – Your experience is obviously different from mine. We very rarely have to talk about blockers (ie airing of grievances).

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          I try to have fun with it by seeing how short of an update I can get away with.

          My record so far is 6 words.

          1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

            LOL. Quite often our QA folks are
            “Yesterday, build test. Today, more of the same.”

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      I work at a very meeting intensive place, and I would hate a daily check-in, unless my role required that level of f2f contact. (I hate most meetings.)

      If the job just needs that level of checking in, you can say that. But is there another way to do a daily check-in that doesn’t require a meeting, like a dedicated team chat?

    3. Malarkey01*

      I’m all for venting BUT there’s a point where a helpful we are in this together and I validate you complaining becomes toxic. When that happens I like to address it and saying something along the lines of I understand it’s not the highlight of the day, but let’s not beat this dead horse anymore (said lightly and with a smile) and then escalate if that doesn’t work to hey Bob you’re bringing the team down and then to a more serious we need to stop this conversation if one and two don’t work.

    4. Mockingjay*

      We streamlined part of our regular team meeting (weekly, now biweekly) using chat. Try asking everyone to post status by say, 9:00 am (one or two lines should work) for certain days, then have the live meetings on the other days. You can quickly follow up as needed by individual chat, rather than having everyone hanging around.

    5. EMP*

      sounds like you could broken record him right back. I’d give him one more vent to which you reply with a variation on, “I hear your complaint but the schedule isn’t going to change and that’s just the way it is.”

      Then if he keeps going, you just repeat “The schedule isn’t going to change” until he gives up or it’s so routine you stop noticing.

    6. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Tell him the reason we get paid to work is to do things we wouldn’t otherwise do :D
      Explain this 15 minutes is not negotiable so please stop complaining.

  69. Traveling job hunter*

    I have a month long trip coming up in ~3 weeks, a sort of commemorative trip for a country I left 10 years ago and to meet as many friends as I can (all of whom I’ve contacted already and made a tentative schedule to meet). But I’m also job hunting, to little success so far, depressingly. (I’m not currently working.)

    As committed as I am to the trip, I have the unshakeable fear I’ll have to cancel/change my dates if I (finally, miraculously) land an interview (ideally for the “dream job” I applied to end of July) and the start date will be earlier than my return date.

    I’ve been told not to mention the trip until I have an offer, but my anxious brain gremlin is grabbing all the straws, namely: what if they ask during an interview (pre-offer) if their start date works for me and I won’t be here.

    Any advice on dealing with the ambiguity of job hunting and the stress of traveling?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      How long does hiring usually take in your field? In my experience, there’s usually a few weeks between the phone screen and the offer, and most places (in the US) expect you’ll give your current company 2 weeks’ notice, so they generally don’t expect you to start until 2 or 3 weeks after you’ve accepted the offer. 4 weeks from phone screen/interview to offer + 2 weeks for “notice” means if you get contacted for an interview first thing next week, you’ll likely only need to ask for one “extra” week (from the company’s perspective) to accommodate your trip.

      To answer the question you asked: if they ask directly “can you start on October 5?” Answer honestly: “I have travel plans out of the country until [date]. I can shorten my trip and potentially start as soon as [date], if that works for you.”

      My experience in my field is that employers are willing to be flexible on start dates (pushing the start date out by as much as 4 “extra” weeks, or 6 weeks after the offer is accepted).

      1. Traveling job hunter*

        I actually have no idea, the only interviews I’ve gotten “recently” seemed pretty quick for some jobs (like within 1 week sometimes, 2 at most) but one of those was in a hurry to fill the role. I haven’t actually had a job in my field in this country (US), but applying now I get a sense that the places I’m applying to take a month minimum to screen applications. (I wouldn’t get the 2 weeks notice given I’m not currently working.)

        Thank you for the script! I’ll keep it in my pocket just in case.

    2. WellRed*

      If the trip is only three weeks away I think you’ll be fine. You haven’t even gotten the offer, correct? Oh? Have you not even interviewed yet? Unless there’s something very specific to the role:industry I think you are getting way ahead of yourself. Enjoy your trip!

      1. Traveling job hunter*

        Correct, no interview so far, just my anxious brain gremlin. I’m not familiar with the hiring practices/timeline of the places I’m applying to so I’ll keep my fingers crossed and hope for a cosmic alignment in timing…

    3. Synaptically Unique*

      My last hire interviewed over Zoom while they were out of the country. We were happy to accommodate. They weren’t working anywhere and had a set return date, but it took HR so long to finish the offer and then pre-employment stuff that the start date ended up being 2 months after the job was posted/5-6 weeks after the person I hired originally applied. You’ve probably got plenty of time and don’t be afraid to ask for some flexibility. Once an employer decides they want YOU out of all the applicants, they’re often inclined to be considerate unless they’re a heavy-turnover field anyway.

  70. It’s just not it*

    Happy Friday!

    I don’t find many blogs or chat on AAM about entrepreneurship. I quit my job in 2021 to try out my own business and I fell for the trap, y’all. The American myth that I *should* own my own business and it would be so fulfilling, etc. Fast forward to today and I’m dreaming of a 9-5 again. I just don’t think I’m cut out to own my own business full time, and market health insurance is not cutting it.

    I started applying for jobs again but I’m 1) very embarrassed that my business didn’t really work out (or that I didn’t have it in me to make it work out.) 2) unsure what to say about looking for a job on the market and 3) not sure how to approach that I will likely keep my business, but only for very infrequent side work.

    I have heard that people who owned their own business are not desirable candidates. Is that true? How would I address this in an application or interview?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I don’t think what you’ve heard is valid.

      I tried to start my own business (right before 9/11 and the dotcom crash – great timing). Didn’t hold me back one bit from finding a job. And I currently work with somebody who was running his own business, then had to go back to work for his previous employer, because one of his suppliers basically replicated his idea and his customers & revenue dried up. Nobody thinks any worse of him at all.

      Now, maybe there’s a grain of truth in that for somebody who’s run a business for 25 years and then wants to go to work for a salary — can this person handle not being at the top of the hierarchy anymore? But that’s not your situation at all.

    2. EMP*

      The vast majority of start ups/businesses don’t work out! I’d just be matter of fact about it. “I spent 2 years working on a company for X but while that was great experience [I missed contributing to this field/I found I preferred llama grooming to managing a llama farm/it unfortunately didn’t work out]
      I don’t think you have to mention keeping the business unless it could be seen as a conflict of interest for some reason.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I think if there are concerns, they’d be along the lines of “Geez, if this person owned their own business, how will they adjust to not being in charge anymore, are they going to be going off and doing their own thing instead of following our processes, etc etc” so maybe work on an explanation as to how you, I dunno, learned you prefer to be a team player, or prefer to focus on the individual work rather than the management side of things, or whatever makes sense to that end, for if the question comes up.

    4. ina*

      Hard to answer without more information. You can spin owning your own businesses as knowing the challenges of management and everything that goes into it – a sympathetic worker bee or as a manager-to-be yourself. As a business owner, you wore many hats. There are plenty of benign scripts on why you’re going back to being a 9-5 vs staying a business owner.

      Alison talks about it here: https://www.askamanager.org/2009/09/are-employers-wary-of-formerly-self.html and comments may help you develop your script.

  71. Job Seeker*

    I’ve got a job interview and I’ve been told it is a “blind interview” meaning the people interviewing me have not looked at my resume or my application materials. They don’t even know my name! This is for a senior position within my field. I have never experienced a blind interview. Does anyone have any tips for how to prepare and what to expect? (And if you happen to know, at what point do they look at my application? ) I’m a bit thrown and want to get over the mental hump! Any info would be appreciated!

    1. pally*

      They told you that this is what blind interview means? Because my understanding is that they remove all demographic and personal info from the application/resume materials. The idea is to remove bias (including any unconscious bias) from the minds of the interviewers.

      They can’t make judgments about where you live, or your last name, or gender, or school(s) you graduated from, etc.

      1. Job Seeker*

        @pally – yes, the people interviewing have not reviewed any application materials. This was explicitly stated!

        1. Job Seeker*

          I just want to clarify – HR has seen all the materials and one assumes did a basic screening….but nobody else has.

          1. pally*

            But are they conveying any info about you to the interviewers-other than you passed their screening? If not, they are going in unprepared in terms of knowing your resume/application.

        2. pally*

          So basically, the interviewers are going in unprepared. Hmmm. Yellow flag?

          My thought: be ready to talk about everything on your resume to folks who don’t know the first thing about you and your background. You can’t just say, “as you read in my resume, my years of experience at ACME provided me with a well-developed skill set when managing any of our coyote customers.” You’ll have to cite these skills that were in the resume.

          Be patient with them when they ask about the most basic things or about things that are clearly stated on the resume/application.

          1. Busy Middle Manager*

            Isn’t that like half of interviews? They always pull in random people who never looked at your resume and so they ask vague questions like “why are you interested” or “tell me about yourself”

            1. pally*

              Yeah, unfortunately.

              But the candidate isn’t usually told this is the case ahead of time. They discover it at the interview.

  72. The time is now?*

    Hi everyone! If I see a job I REALLY am interested in, but it’s in another state–in which I am planning to move to, but unfortunately not for the next 4-6 months, should I not apply? I’m wondering if it’s rude to do that if I know I can’t be there next month, but I also know hiring processes take a while (and I might not even be a candidate!) Part of me worries that when I do move there and try for other jobs at that workplace, HR will be like “This is that person who wasted our time.”
    I feel like I’m overthinking it…

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      You are overthinking it.

      First hiring processes can take a while. Certainly 4-6 months.

      Second, no one is going to think that because the *timing* isn’t right (ie they need someone to start sooner) that a candidate is wasting their time.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Apply for the job. If you’re contacted for a phone screen, that’s the perfect time to let them know your timeline (as well as the usual phone screen purpose of learning more about the company/position and assessing if it’s a good fit for you). The worst that will happen is the recruiter will say “we’re looking for someone who can start next month, keep an eye on our job board and apply when you’re closer to moving to [location].”

    3. Alex*

      In my field, 4 months is about average from application to start time! That was my current timeline, and I considered it quick lol.

      Say you apply. Maybe in three weeks you get a phone screen scheduled. Then another week out for a first interview. Then maybe two weeks for a second interview. Then probably at least two weeks for a decision. Then you get a week to think about it. Then you accept and negotiate. You get a final offer a week later. Then you give 2 weeks’ notice at your current job, and take 2 weeks’ to move. That’s 14 weeks right there, and that’s all assuming there are no delays, vacations, holidays, third interviews, etc. that make the process even longer.

    4. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      If your resume has your current location, then add in brackets (planned move to new state by date in 6 months)
      In your cover letter, state that that you already plan to move to that state for brief xx reason and say this in the interview too.

  73. I'm being petty about my raise*

    I’ll admit it, I’m being petty about my raise. My organization gives managers enough money to give everyone a 3% raise. If a few go above and beyond, they can get a little bit more, and if a few do not perform well, they will get a little bit less. Last year, I got a 3.75% raise. This year, all my boss’ direct reports (including me) received a 3% raise because he said we’re all doing a good job. I think it’s a crock that your raise is essentially tied to other worker’s performance, but that’s another conversation.

    Here’s the rub. There is some money that can be found to make some exceptions. The EA who works for my boss’ direct report received a 5% raise and now makes a bit more annually than I do. That really is an unheard-of amount for a raise in my organization. She is a very nice person, and I’m very happy for her, but I’m not sure that amount was a direct reflection of the work she did over the past year. I don’t think I can address it because it will just come across as my whining, which is probably exactly what it is, but it still feels crummy.

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      Don’t get caught up in the comparison game. Unless I’m misunderstanding, the EA is not your EA, so you really have limited insight into her work or the justification for her receiving the raise. I also venture that for exceptions, by their very nature, a justification of some kind has to be made.

      You received a higher than normal raise last year. She received a higher one this year.

    2. Alex*

      My former workplace had the exact same system. It was a total crock. I feel you. My boss usually didn’t want to separate the lower and higher performers, even though objectively–even on the forms that she prepared!–there were significant differences in performance across the team. So everyone got the same raise regardless of performance, even though they claimed to be rewarding performance.

      Now I work someplace where everyone gets the same raise, but at least they are up front about it and don’t play games with our performance reviews.

    3. ina*

      Comparison is the thief of joy. However, what if someone had complained last year about your 3.75% with the exact same rhetoric? You can make a case for you receiving more, but to make that case by saying someone else deserves less will not land well.

  74. CSRoadWarrior*

    Any advice on how to handle severe burnout? I have been burnt out before, but never to this level. I still get my work done, but it has been a struggle over the past several weeks. I find myself procrastinating more than usual, and any time I get an email it’s just a bother, which is usually isn’t. Also, every little thing sets me off and forcing myself to get work done feels like torture. In short, I basically hit a wall at this point.

    That being said, I am in the US and Labor Day weekend is coming up, and I do have a weeklong vacation the first week of October which will definitely help. Also, I haven’t taken a vacation this year just yet until this point, which is the most certainly main reason.

    My main question is how do I handle it until then?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      There are 2 things that I’ve done.
      1) Go overboard on checklists – put even the most rudimentary thing on your list, and check them off as you go, so you can see a pile of “that’s done and I don’t need to worry about it again” get bigger and bigger. I deliberately do this with pen and paper so I’ve got something visual in front of me and I have to use different muscles than just moving a mouse.

      2) Decide at the beginning of the day about one thing that’s you’re going to do that will make you happy. Maybe that means wearing goofy socks, or taking a walk at lunch, or rewarding yourself with hot chocolate after you finish the task that you hate the most.

  75. Queer Columbo*

    Hello!

    I know it has been discussed in the past, but I am hoping that “post”-pandemic more people here may have tried it out. How do you (or people around you) feel about WGU, Western Governors University? I have been working in tech for 13+ years with an associate degree but would love to continue to move up and at this point, am kind of looking to check off that bachelor’s box. I’ve done my research, but I’d love to hear more if you have any direct experience with either the school, the graduates, or the general perception of the graduates.

    Note: I would go for a business degree, not one of their more technical/education/health related degrees. Thank you!

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My husband and I both got bachelor degrees from WGU just pre-pandemic – his was a first degree in business administration, mine was a second degree in health information management. For both of us, the goal was just to finish the degree and have the piece of paper to allow us to continue our already-existing careers (supply chain management for him and, well, HIM for me – I needed it to qualify to take a specific certification exam, because the three other degrees I already had and my 15 years of experience in the field didn’t count). We were both fairly dissatisfied with the overall experience – our instructors didn’t teach, it was pretty much all self-driven coursework, and they also weren’t the ones who graded the assessments.

      Example: I had one class with two textbooks, and one question on the assessment was “describe the five steps of the revenue cycle.” One textbook had four steps, the other had six, and there was no overlap between them. I emailed the instructor to ask how I should address this, and she straight up told me “You’ve been working in this field for 15 years, right? Make up something that sounds good.” And in fact, that was pretty much what I did for the majority of my classes — I passed based on the knowledge I already had. If I didn’t already know what I was doing, it would’ve been a completely useless attempt to learn. My husband had a similar situation – he came to me with most of his questions, because one of the degrees I already had was a MBA, and his instructors and class materials were largely not helpful.

      Neither of us has had anything but internal interviews since we got the WGU degrees, so I can’t say how they’re viewed (since we’ve both been known factors to our interviewers), but we have both been promoted. In my case the certification that I got after getting the degree helped, but the degrees themselves have been largely irrelevant to both of us. I at least, based on our experiences, wouldn’t recommend WGU to someone who wasn’t already in the field and just looking to check the degree box.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        But! If that IS what you’re doing, WGU can be a really cost-efficient way to do it, IF you have the time to devote to it. They require a minimum of 12 credit hours per six month semester, which is about four classes, but you can take as many classes (one at a time) as you can get through during the six months – and their tuition is a flat fee, not charged per-credit.

        My husband did mostly do 4 per semester, occasionally 5. They told me my program was expected to take me three years. I did 24-28 credit hours per semester, which is 8-9 classes, and finished it in a year and a half.

        1. Queer Columbo*

          That’s exactly my intention, just to mark that box off. I’ve been in my industry for 13 years! This is really helpful perspective, thank you!

    2. WGU Grad*

      I have two degrees from WGU – an undergrad in business management and my MBA. I really loved the format – it fit my learning style, I had time to spend to accelerate, and it was affordable. I learned a lot and use what I learned. Some of the classes I had prior knowledge for and many I did not.

      I got a job soon after I graduated and have been able to move up quickly in the company (my income has more than tripled in 5 years). A degree was required and there were no issues and questioning of mine being from WGU. The friends that I made while attending have similar stories. I work closely with our hiring managers and we’ve had graduates apply – no issues.

    3. Mimmy*

      I’ve tried applying for jobs with their student accessibility unit but never got an interview (don’t even get me started on their crummy application system and the fact that the jobs were repeatedly taken down then reposted). I know this post isn’t about working at WGU, but it’s interesting to see varied perspectives from the student side.

  76. Training Challenges*

    I’m hoping to get some advice on a specific challenge that I’ve never run into before. I am an experienced trainer, and am routinely at a loss on how to answer my newest trainee’s questions because they are so basic they defy explanation. As an example, we have had the following conversation no less than five times. Me: “The next step is to look at the order form to determine…” Trainee: “Wait, what is the order form??” Me: “…It’s the form that says Order at the top. It’s open in front of you right now. You saved it in your documents as ‘Patient’s name Order Form’. It’s the form with the description of services being ordered on it.” We will end up having that exact same conversation between 5 and 30 minutes later. This person has a lot of these sort of questions where I’m genuinely not sure how to make it more clear – the document says Order at the top! It’s not like this is esoteric knowledge, and we have already gone over the documents in detail. Some of the questions, like the one about the order form can be turned back to the trainee (“Which form do you think is the order form?”) and that has been more effective. However, some of the questions demonstrate a concerning lack of understanding that has to be clarified and yet nothing seems to stick – but only for the simple stuff. On the whole, the person seems able to do the job, which is part of why I’m so lost.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      Some people panic in the moment when doing things, especially when someone else is watching. Is this person otherwise able to do the job? How are they when working independently?

      I was a trainer, and sometimes people struggle in ways that can seem mystifying. Is there another trainer who can step in for a little while (less than an hour) to help and observe?

      Early on in my training career, a more experienced trainer had me help one of his trainers. She struggled early on, and he freely admitted it tried his patience. We realized she just connected with me better, and so I was always there to “help answer questions” when his class was doing live work. (He was a teddy bear but physically could seem imposing to some people. I’m a small woman who dreams of being intimidating.)

    2. Hlao-roo*

      One thing I would try: the second time they ask “wait, what’s the order form?” go through your “which form do you think is the order form?” teaching moment, then pause the training to say “I’ve noticed that’s the second time in [5 min, 30 min] that you’ve asked what the order form is. Why don’t you take a moment to write down a reminder for yourself of what the order form is?”

      I suggest this because (1) there’s research that shows writing things down by hand improves people’s memories, (2) when I was new to the work world, it wasn’t always clear to me when I should be writing things down and my first manager would helpfully suggest “you should be taking notes on this” when I needed to be taking notes, and (3) I have occasionally been this person (not this bad, though!). Sometimes when learning something new, I’ll be so focused on making sure I understand all of the details of the order form (what each line is for, who is responsible for filling out which part, who I need to deliver it to, etc.) that the fact that this document I am learning about is called “order form” will slip right out of my brain and when you say “look at the order form” I will have to ask for clarification. I don’t know if that’s what’s happening with this trainee, and asking multiple times per day (and within the same conversation/training session) is a lot, but maybe pausing and directing them to write notes will help those details stick in their brain a bit better.

        1. Not Jane*

          Exactly, and for me the logic doesn’t kick in straight away, until I’ve been doing the job a while. Then I will say to myself ‘d’oh of course it’s the one with’ order’ written on top of it’. I think for me there’s a element of not wanting to get it wrong, or to make a mistake that will impact on someone else. So I will ask lots of questions at the start to make sure I get it right

    3. CzechMate*

      Does this person seem particularly anxious/stressed while you’re doing the training? Do you get the sense they don’t WANT to learn? (ex. They seem like the kind of person who will continually say, “Oh, I don’t know how to do that.”)

      To me it kind of seems like this person may be anxious/stressed, which is making them forgetful, and it’s also possible that this isn’t an effective training style for them. I personally remember things more when I see someone do an example of the thing and then leave written instructions so that I can do it on my own the next time–when something is explained in the abstract, I’m less likely to remember. Assuming you think this person genuinely wants to do learn to do the thing, could you ask them what would be most effective? Ex. “I’ve noticed that we’ve had to go over this a few times, which makes me think that we should approach this a different way. How have you learned to perform your previous roles? Is there a training method that works better for you?”

      1. Training Challenges*

        I did ask them what was most effective at the start of training. They said that they struggle with shadowing and need to actually do the thing to learn it, so that is what we’ve done. I think the person wants to learn, but is struggling to connect with some of the material.

    4. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I know this sounds really rudimentary, but have you done the stereotypical Army thing?
      1) Tell them what you’re going to tell them.
      2) Tell them.
      3) Tell them what you told them.

      “We have 3 main forms – the Order Form, the Schedule Form, and the Report Form. I’m going to tell you what information goes into each one and what to do with each one.”
      “This is the Order Form. yadda yadda yadda. This is the Schedule Form…. this is the Report Form…”
      “So I just went over the three basic forms – Order, Schedule, and Report. Almost everything you do will use these. Tomorrow I’ll train you on the exceptions.”

      The benefit of this method is that it’s top down and provides context, so somebody who’s really lost has a place to latch on at the beginning, start to get terminology internalized, etc. before they have to actually learn how to DO anything with the information.

  77. Epsilon Delta*

    What’s a good way to decline a lunch meeting with a vendor from a conference?
    I visited a vendor booth at a conference in July. After the conference they emailed me saying I won a pair of headphones and asked to meet for lunch. I didn’t sign up for a raffle, they must have added me when I scanned my conference badge.
    I don’t want the headphones and don’t want to meet for lunch. I don’t want to be stuck listening to a sales pitch and making small talk for an hour.
    I already deferred by saying I was traveling most of August (which was true!) but now they’ve emailed me again. Should I say I’m busy and defer again (and potentially more times) or just be direct and say I don’t want to meet? Or just ignore the emails? Scripts would be great.

    1. Leave Hummus Alone*

      Feel free to edit the response to your needs:
      Thanks for the offer, but I must decline your offer to meet for lunch. I am not the decision maker for my organization but I have shared your contact information with that person and they will reach out if they are interested. I also just got a new headphone set so please feel free to select another winner.

      You can elect not to forward their information to the decision maker, or if you are the decision maker, you’ve already “shared” the info! ;)

    2. mreasy*

      Hi! You could also simply not respond. This is a sales pitch and dozens of people will have received the same message. They’re buying those headphones in bulk.

  78. Tangerine Protumberance*

    It’s a sensible idea, but I have worked as a manager before and been totally unsuited. I can juggle a lot at once, but I’m generally conflict-avoidant and had to really push myself when I had to give any negative feedback in the past. Granted, I’m sure I’d be better now that I’m older and have had some therapy, but if a path exists that has less “people management”, I’d love to explore it.

  79. Leave Hummus Alone*

    Hi friends, I would love your thoughts on how and when to disclose the need for medical accommodations during the job hunt, specifically not coming into the office to covid exposure. I am immunocompromised (transplanted organ, woohoo!) and my doctor has advised me to avoid indoor spaces where masks are not required. I’m job hunting and I recently had an interview for a position where it is hybrid. The HR manager who was doing initial interviews asked me if I am willing to come to the office and I explained that I am willing if everyone is masked, but she said that they can’t force everyone to mask. I asked her if they are willing to make an accommodation to have me work from home 100% of the time and she said that a hybrid environment is earned, not given. Needless to say, I withdrew my application after the interview.

    It’s not that I don’t want to work from an office, but right now I can’t — it’s not worth the risk of losing my transplanted organ and potentially other life-threatening sicknesses, not to mention long covid.

    So when do I ask about this accommodation? After the initial interview? In my cover letter? After an offer?

    1. Alex*

      I would ask after an offer, but also not lie about it in the meantime. So if it doesn’t come up, ask about it during the offer, but it probably will come up earlier, so you will probably need to have that conversation before it comes to the offer. I’m curious if you framed your accommodation as necessary due to medical reasons and could be supported by your doctor? Because they need to enter into an interactive process with you about that–you don’t “earn” ADA accommodations!!

      1. Leave Hummus Alone*

        Thanks! I did ask specifically if they are willing to make a medical accommodation and that was her response about “earning” it. It was too big of a red flag to ignore (along with some other things she said) so I decided to withdraw my application in this instance.

        1. I got LongCovid and it is hell*

          I’m sorry you had to withdraw your application, but it’s good you did. And you are very wise for not wanting to have long covid!

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Next time, don’t frame it as asking if they’re willing to make a medical accommodation — they are required by law to try to make it unless it causes undue hardship (which is a high bar). By asking if they’re willing, you’re opening the door for them to skirt the law. You can say, “I would need an accommodation under the ADA” — but I would also try hard not to raise it until you have an offer, at which point they can’t legally pull it just because you asked.

    2. Alice*

      I have no idea but I just want to say – I’m so sorry you have to withdraw from certain job opportunities because of your disability – or, more accurately, because people have decided that “living with COVID” means “pretending that COVID isn’t a thing.” Good luck, I am hoping for good things for you professionally and health wise.

    3. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Is any office still requiring masks? I haven’t come across this once most of the population was vaccinated (~early 2022) but I’m in Europe so YMMV.

      I recommend you explain your need for 100% wfh accommodation in the interview at the latest, so you don’t waste your time with a bad fit.
      Best to concentrate on applying for remote jobs where they already saved on office space and positively welcome wfh, instead of them being forced into it grudgingly. I don’t know if wfh would still be a required accommodation for covid concerns, but even if it is, you don’t want to be the only one wfh.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Not that I know of, no. But allowing WFH for people with medical needs is really common for a lot of jobs.

  80. icare*

    My office mate is retiring later this year. We do the same job functions, but her workload is more intense. Our manager has a history of not clearly verbalizing or clarifying expectations, and I’m concerned she expects me to shift to that position and the new hire will take on my position.

    I do not want that. Even considering that I could leverage a pay raise, I still do not want the workload of that particular position. I really like the flexibility and the lighter workload of my current position, and feel I get compensated pretty fairly for it.

    Any tips for talking points once the conversation needs to happen?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Say it in advance, and be specific. “I know there’s going to be some changes when Sam retires this fall, so I just want you to know when you’re planning for that, I’m very happy in my current position and working on (thus and such type projects etc) are what I would really like to continue to focus on when all that changing around happens.”

    2. Synaptically Unique*

      When we had some staffing changes, I proactively met with my staff to talk about whether changes needed to be made in how work was handled or allocated. I put everything on the table – processes, projects, tasks. If there was something they particularly enjoyed/hated doing, we discussed what could be shifted to the replacement’s job description vs what couldn’t be separated out. I prioritized the happiness of my existing strong performers and still made sure the new job description was realistic and fair. Since it doesn’t sound likely your boss will do this, go ahead and think it through yourself and see if there’s a more balanced way to approach this while retaining a job you enjoy doing. If your jobs are basically the same role/title/pay only the other person does much more work, any reasonably bright replacement is going to figure that out quickly and be (justifiably) upset about it.

  81. Need to say something?*

    Long story short, I feel like I need to say something about how a colleague of mine behaves towards me. I genuinely can’t tell where they sit on the sliding scale of “BEC” and “serious career-threatening problem” (and feel that sharing too much risks this no longer being anon!) but I do know I’ve felt very tearful because of their behaviour towards me and I’m considering resigning because I can’t take it anymore. I’ve had it pointed out to me that, if it’s so bad I’d quit over it, I really should say something to my boss or their boss (not the same person, which possibly complicates things slightly?).

    I was wondering if anybody had had any experience of handling this. I’d feel a bit uncomfortable bringing it up to them directly but equally haven’t and part of me wonders if I should give that a go first? I wouldn’t feel uncomfortable bringing it to my boss or their boss, but equally wonder if that would make it more of “a thing” than it really is? Advice appreciated and TIA (and sorry for the lack of detail – just really hoping the people in question don’t twig who I am!)

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      Is there someone else in your company that might be able to provide a listening ear/good advice/tell the big wigs directly?

      I used that method when I was having an issue with my boss. One time, I was in tears and ready to walk out the door. (very misogynic)

    2. Fluffy Fish*

      So the reality is most managers/hr will have the expectation that you have attempted to resolve the issue with the other person.

      There can be some exceptions (like the earlier lw whos colleague threatened them with violence’s), but it’s really not an unreasonable expectation. That said it can feel like a lot when you are the person on the receiving end of bad behavior.

      Since you can’t provide details which I understand, my best recommendations would be to search the archives here for letters on confronting coworkers.

      1. Busy Middle Manager*

        I think most managers are fine mediating stuff. We just don’t want to escalate to HR/our managers first thing unless it’s a serious safety issue.

        That being said, “need to say something” really needs to add details. We can’t answer the question without knowing what we’re even talking about.

        I do think people online overestimate the likelihood of being found out. People want to give advice. But if we can’t tell if you’re a pharmacist or bookkeeper, people can’t help you brainstorm ways to improve in your job, for example

    3. Anon for This*

      I took something like this to my boss once and, because I am in a protected class (female) and the issue certainly could be considered discrimination, it was addressed – likely to avoid a lawsuit. While I appreciated by boss’ support, I also started looking for a new job, as I didn’t think the problem was going to go away permanently.

      Sorry this is happening to you.

    4. Generic Name*

      Can you go to your boss under the guise of asking for advice on how to handle the issue? I recently had a situation at work that made me blisteringly angry at my company. I did bring up the issue with my boss and got told, “At some point you will need to move on from this”. So I did. I moved on to a different company.

    5. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      “I wouldn’t feel uncomfortable bringing it to my boss or their boss, but equally wonder if that would make it more of “a thing” than it really is”

      That’s great you feel able to go to either boss with this problem. Since this coworker is making you tearful, it clearly is a major “thing” for you, so go to either and say it is affecting your work – it sounds too stressful to talk to your coworker first, so skip her.

      1. ina*

        +1. Your boss can offer you an accommodation to minimize these tearful interactions. It’s a big deal to you, even if the solution is something as simple as your coworker needing to communicate differently and not being aware of this.

  82. I got LongCovid and it is hell*

    Does anybody here work with ME/CFS or LongCovid with fatigue? How has your experience been? How flexible is your employer when it comes to your needs? Besides pacing, is there some tips you can give to work without getting worse?

    1. New Shoots*

      Hi! I have Long Covid. Yes, I know, it can be hell! Thankfully, my hell stage is over (thank you, thank you, thank you) and I’m recovering.

      Everyone is different, but for me the only thing to do was to stop working for a while. My employer was good about it, so I’m afraid I don’t have advice for what to do if an employer is not good about it.

      The bottom line is: Your recovery depends on you reducing stress. If work is systematically increasing stress, you’ve got to consider if you can stop working for a while. I know it’s totally sh*t and involves recalibrating your sense of sense, your security and your income, but you can’t recover unless your overall stress reduces.
      Of course, some people get better while working. Everyone’s needs are a bit different.

      Two resources I recommend:
      – A Fatigue coach called Pamela Rose (UK based but takes clients from all over the world), who helps with things including pacing and return to work. She has a group course for reasonable money, and one-to-one coaching too.
      – The Curable programme, which is done through an app. Seriously helping me.

      You will get through the hell. You’ll look back and think, “Thank the lord I am through that hell!”

      1. I got LongCovid and it is hell*

        Thankyou so much for answering. At first I tried to work with it but things got worse. I am on extended sick leave and also recovering very slowly.

        I will definetly look into the ressources you recommended me.

        1. New Shoots*

          That is great that you are recovering, albeit very slowly. That is my case too. Verrrrrry slowly. I have been out of work for what seems like a very long time indeed – 3 years. But please don’t take my case as representative. I am much more severely affected than most, in all aspects of Long Covid. I guess I’m telling you how long I’ve been out in order to …to show you that everyone’s journey is different, and to show you that even if someone is very severely affected, they can get there in the end. I have returned to doing a few small contracts in the past few months, and I’m due to start one day a week back at my old job soon. My health is consistently improving, even if it’s slow. (And I know of plenty of other people who have recovered much more quickly, just for the record!)

          Ps. To clarify about the Curable programme: They speak about it as being for people with “chronic pain”, but they actually mean pain, chronic fatigue, various neurological/nerve symptoms, and other related symptoms. So, it’s a lot more than chronic pain, and is very much applicable to Long Covid folk. If you look up Raelan Agle’s youtube channel, she has a video about Curable, and at the end of it (or in the notes, I can’t remember), she gives a code for 6 weeks free access to Curable.

          Here’s to your recovery!

  83. Book club!*

    Does anyone have a book suggestion for our work book club with the CEO of the company? It can be any genre, professional development or not, but needs to be work appropriate. Thank you!

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      Not a book suggestion but a suggestion to find a book….ask a librarian at your local library! They’ll be able to help you for sure.

    2. Lady_Lessa*

      If you like thrillers, may I suggest either book by T.J. Newman. “Falling, a novel” and “Drowning”

      I like her work because even the bad guys are completely bad. And in “Drowning” you didn’t find out about the status of one of the main characters until the last page or so.

    3. ferrina*

      Our COO is a big fan of Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.
      Really fun if you work in an workplace or industry with a lot of introverts

    4. Pie Fight*

      I coordinated a work book club for several years. (A VP who occasionally attended wanted us to always read professional development books, but we chose titles as a democracy and we did read other genres about half the time.) My favorite from that book club was “Bad Blood” by John Carreyrou, about Theranos.

      Some others I remember reading are “The Pioneers” by David McCullough and “The President Is Missing” by James Patterson, in addition to “The Happiness Advantage,” “Start with Why,” “The Phoenix Project” and other business-related books.

    5. My Brain is Exploding*

      The Boys in the Boat. Once Upon a Town (by Bob Greene). Destiny of a Republic and River of Doubt, both by Candace Millard.

    6. Angstrom*

      I’ve found it interesting to explore the reading lists of the various branches of the military.
      Example: https://mca-marines.org/commandants-professional-reading-list/
      One might not expect to find Brene Brown there….

      I enjoyed Nate Silver’s “The Signal and the Noise”, which is about prediction.

      I’m usually underwhelmed by business books. Most seem to have a magazine article’s worth of solid content.

    7. Csweb*

      How about ‘Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness’? I think behavoiural economics to kick things off (work-related but hopefully not TOO related) might be a nice segue before either going full-professional or non-professional.

  84. Upwork*

    Has anyone here has experience with using Upwork for finding freelance work? What has your experience been like?

    1. RagingADHD*

      If you are starting from absolute zero, it’s a place to get your feet wet and build a portfolio. It is also a place to get out of ASAP because the rates are a race to the bottom of the barrel, and the client expectations are completely irrational.

      1. Upwork*

        I’m already noticing the pattern of unrealistic expectations and low rates smh. One post requested a whole research paper for $10 total.

  85. Anon PhD*

    Hello,
    I am a PhD student and have to manage a student worker (lab-based, STEM) for the first time (in terms of work assignments not actual disciplinary power). He is not very far in his studies or working. He does good work but I am struggling on how to give feedback for mistakes that are not bad per se but still a time sink. A lot of these are honestly bc he is young and inexperienced (think: forgetting small parts of assignments, disorganized data presentation that takes a while to parse), but I can feel myself getting frustrated bc when I try to correct them in the moment he does acknowledge and apologize but he does not seem to translate this into strategies on how to do better. It has not been very long ( a month of part time work) so I do not want to have a big picture conversation, but some scripts to use in the moment to get him to see that these are things he needs to actively look out for would be great. My preferred method would be to give a longer-term project that he can do independently, so that he sees the consequences for the next steps himself, but that is not feasible for the next few months. We also have a pretty good working relationship right now but I am very much making it up as I go along bc this is the first time for me being able to just assign away the grunt work.
    Thanks in advance!

    1. Angstrom*

      First, try to accept that he’s going to make mistakes. As you said, he’s young and inexperienced, so mistakes are going to happen. If you can think of managing mistakes as a normal part of your new job instead of an unusual disruption, it’ll reduce your stress level.
      Also try to accept that coaching on strategies to minimize mistakes is part of your new role. Take the time to talk through tasks, plan ahead, and discuss outcomes This is something every manager has to learn — you can’t just “assign away the grunt work” unless you take the time to set your worker(s) up to succeed. A good manager will be thinking “How can I help them help me?”
      I know this may feel like a waste of time and a distraction when you have your own work to do. I suspect that if you accept the responsibility and do a good job you’ll find that it pays off on many levels.

      1. more fires*

        this is all excellent advice. Also: if it takes awhile to parse his data – it that just for you? or to a larger group. If he’s presenting it to others, maybe have a go-through with you first? so you can critique what you see and find better ways to present

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      This seems like something a physical log book could help with.

      He writes the assignment & what he did on the right side, you give him corrections & suggestions, he writes those on the left side. And then you tell him to refer to the logbook **before** doing the task again so as not to make the same mistake twice.

    3. Reba*

      Yeah, part of it is that it is just normal to make mistakes early on. But, since it’s been a month, why don’t you schedule a one-month (or six-week or something) check in, where you can each share how think it’s going. You can give the feedback that he has been coming across a lot of the “things to watch out for” and he should know that these issues will continue to be part of the tasks and ask him to develop some strategies for dealing with them, e.g. checklists, using a good template — can you provide things like that would help him, or is that like a level of hand holding that you didn’t expect to need to do?

    4. OtterB*

      The only thing I would add to what others have said is to be sure to praise the things that deserve it so he doesn’t feel like he’s doing everything wrong.

      You essentially have two jobs here. The main one is to get the work done (which is where a STEM PhD student is naturally going to focus) but the other is to help the student develop. So helping him learn these things is not a distraction from the work, it’s part of the second part of the work.

      Also in terms of “assigning away the grunt work,” I remember good advice on managing being that the ideal thing to delegate was a task that was routine for you but a learning experience for your subordinate. That doesn’t always work – sometimes it’s grunt work for everyone but it still has to get done – but to the extent you can make it true, that may help.

      1. AFac*

        In addition to overseeing this student to get rid of grunt work and helping them develop, you’re also overseeing this student so that you can develop–in your communication skills, in your mentoring skills, in your management skills, in your teaching skills. All these things that are going to be so important for you in the future that aren’t taught in the lecture hall or through your own research. If you go into academia, you’ll have undergrad/MS/PhD students of your own. Even if you don’t go into academia, industry hires at the PhD level so they have experts to be in charge of projects and therefore people.

        Each student is different. The technique that fits this student won’t fit all of them. Your current student may not have the knowledge background to understand what his data means, much less explain it clearly. Undergrads, especially freshman, have never really had to explain things to others; it’s usually been explained to them. They often need help with how to organize their thoughts to best communicate what they want to say.

        I know it’s a time sink and you’d rather spend that time doing your own research. But if you can re-frame the problem as a way to improve your own skills, that might give you more patience and some ideas on what to do.

    5. Alice*

      An early-in-his-studies student should probably be following templates that are set out in the lab’s research data management plan, not creating directory structures and naming conventions and spreadsheets himself. Also, have him read the “Data Organization in Spreadsheets” article. Good luck!

    6. ina*

      > he does not seem to translate this into strategies on how to do better.

      Where do you expect him to get these strategies? He’s an early on in his studies student. You need to take the time and red mark his work with him, pointing out how to improve it and then asking him to restate his understanding. You then need to give him something where he can apply this understanding. Likewise, you can give him a “template” to work with and mimic until he’s more far along.

      This isn’t an issue with your worker — this is an issue with how you are managing and mentoring. You need to shift your mindset — it’s not a ‘time sink’ to help him improve his work at all. It’s an investment in your work’s future, his future, and the lab’s productivity. I started in a lab before moving out to bioinformatics, but the thing that stuck with me was how many mistakes my PI and the senior researchers let me make…and how patiently they explained the mistakes, reassured me, told me to stop apologizing, and gave me the resources and thought patterns and habits to make me a good lab scientist. You need to keep in focus where he is in his journey and where you are. Your method of basically putting him on a boat and watching him sink (giving him his own project and letting him fail/see the consequences) isn’t the best one; it’s just the easiest one.

      1. ina*

        Also wanted to add: if you want someone to hand your grunt work to and have it done neatly & correctly with minimal supervision, you need to hire an *actual* lab tech.

        When you take in a student, you commit to mentorship and guidance that eats into your time. In exchange, you’re getting much cheaper and very valuable labor from the student.

  86. Free Lunch Etiquette?*

    The company I work at provides lunch a certain day each week. A perk/bribe for coming in. Everyone orders their own lunch and it’s labeled by the restaurant. My coworker will frequently order, but no show, have someone put their lunch in the fridge and then eat it the next time they’re in. Okay? Not okay?

    1. OtterB*

      I’d say okay on an exception basis (I ordered, but I have to stay home with a sick kid today), but not okay to do routinely.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      If the perk is just once a week, and coworker is only coming in once a week, and part of the rationale of the perk is for better collaboration, then my feel is not OK.

      They’re getting the perk without actually doing the thing the company values – in-person time with your coworkers.

      If this coworker regularly shows up multiple times per week, just not on the lunch day, then I’m on the fence. Maybe they really don’t like working the same room with lots of other people?

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I wouldn’t do this routinely either. If it’s supposed to be for coming in, I guess it counts if they eat it when they’re in, but it sort of violates the spirit of the perk. If management is okay with it, then *shrug*

    4. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      That’s cheeky of her. If it happens frequently, I’d be surprised if her manager hasn’t noticed, so it may yet have consequences.

  87. Minji*

    A family member of mine is performing poorly in her job (she thinks it is not her fault and her manager’s expectations are unreasonable, but regardless she is not meeting them). She suspects she is going to be put on a PIP soon. I have been advising her that she should really be looking for another job so she can leave ASAP. However she is refusing to do this because she is convinced it is better to be fired so she can collect unemployment.

    Any ideas for what to say to her…?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      1) Waiting to get fired is not good for your emotional balance and gives you bad work habits.
      2) Unemployment doesn’t give you as much $ as a job does.
      3) If you’re fired for cause, you may not be able to collect unemployment.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        4) Your exit strategy from Unemployment is finding the new job anyway, so why waste the job offers you might get in the meantime>?

    2. Policy Wonk*

      Point her to AAM. She (most people, really) won’t listen to family members on stuff like this. She may just want to vent, but in the event that she really does want advice, there is lots of very helpful info in the archives here.

    3. ferrina*

      A full paying job is a lot more money than unemployment. Unemployment is just a fraction of your pay.
      Unemployment is also time limited, so if taking a job takes longer than you think, unemployment will run out.

    4. Turingtested*

      Well the big thing about resigning before you get fired is that you don’t have to disclose getting fired to future employers.

      Forgive me for being blunt but the people who express that view tend not to be career focused.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        The Scarlet F is real. You don’t want any part of it if you can avoid it.

    5. RagingADHD*

      Which would she rather say in an interview — I’m looking to leave my current job for new opportunities or a focus on a different aspect of the work?

      Or I got fired because I couldn’t complete the requirements of my PIP?

      You might also point out that currently – employed candidates are always preferred over unemployed candidates to get called in for interviews.

    6. ina*

      Tell her she should be doing both. You don’t get a job overnight and a PIP usually is one to three months to get improvement. It can take that whole one to three months to get an interview. It’s also easier to get a job while you have one (the irony). She might need to collect unemployment while she’s interviewing and waiting for an offer, so don’t wait until it’s too late.

  88. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

    does anyone have a good rec for a recruiting company in the chicago area?

    i am looking to see what’s out there in terms of other positions (doc processing, something along those lines of the job i originally got hired for but is not what i am doing now, job titles to search are welcome). my job isn’t going great, and i am just now realizing that even if i pass my PIP, i’ll still have a ways to go before i feel “good” at my job. i also do not feel like this job is the right fit for me, and i’d like to see what options there are. there’s also a lot of miscommunication from management/upper management (not as specific to my job, tbh a huge red flag was when i was moved to my current position without being asked), and i would also like to be paid more than i am.

  89. NewKid*

    Looong time lurker, first time commenter here. After having read this blog during college, I’m finally starting my first Actual Real Life Adult Human Job on Monday and as an Anxiety Ridden Human™ I am stressing out. Any general first day tips would be appreciated, especially if they help me hide my panic. I have to drive for the commute which also sends me into panicky tailspins especially when I’m worried about being late, so any tips about managing a car commute would be particularly welcome!

    1. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

      congrats!!! as a fellow anxious human, what helped me on all my first days was remembering just that: it’s my first day, it’s a lot of info at once, nobody expects you to remember everything you learned on day 1, or even week 1! give yourself time to process, ask questions. i personally love to take notes. good luck! :)

    2. Rick Tq*

      Use a mapping app to predict your travel time, something like Waze that gets real-time traffic is best. Plan on leaving 20 or 30 minutes early so you can deal with parking, walking to the office, etc. without stressing you will be late. If you are driving into an area with especially bad traffic add even more time. Chilling in your car for 20 minutes before walking in is better than being 20 minutes late.

      When I was driving into downtown LA for meetings I’d routinely leave an hour earlier than predicted for traffic to deal with parking hassles, walking, building access and etc.

      1. JustaTech*

        And for parking, if your office doesn’t have a dedicated lot, use something like StreetView to look around for where you can park.
        You can even try practicing your route over the weekend when traffic is (should be) lighter so you can concentrate on the route/parking.

    3. Policy Wonk*

      Congrats!!! Bring a notebook and a couple of pens (if you only bring one, guaranteed it will run out…) and take notes. They will likely provide office supplies but, if your office is like mine, you won’t get them until mid-day – first will be paperwork, orientation, etc.

      On the commute, drive it a couple of times this weekend and scope out the parking situation. The traffic etc. won’t be the same as during the week, but you will become more familiar with the route, note if there is any construction, etc. If you have a couple of possible routes that will help – particularly if there is an accident or other traffic issue you need to avoid. One of my local radio stations was a traffic report every 10 minutes – I listen to that so I know which route to take – scout out your local stations to see what they have.

      Good luck with the new job!

    4. Angstrom*

      Congratulations!
      For the commute, drive it this weekend to get familiar with the route. Know that the traffic volume and the time it takes will be different during rush hour, so allow plenty of extra time until you get a good feel for it. It wouldn’t hurt to look at a map and see what alternate routes are available if your primary route is blocked.
      When you get an assignment, take the time to ask questions and have a clear understanding of the task. Asking questions will NOT make you look stupid. Taking notes will NOT make you look stupid.
      If you don’t know how to do something, don’t pretend. “I’ve never done that, but I’d like to learn” is a fine answer.
      There will be a lot of administrative stuff: logins, benefits, orientation, etc. Some degree of confusion and disorder is normal.
      One way of dealing with panic is to acknowledge it up front. “First day here?” “Yes! I’m excited to be here but I’m really nervous.”
      Smile, be curious, be helpful, be willing to try.

    5. Generic Name*

      Drive the route to your new job a couple of times between now and Monday. If you’re in a major metro area, and the commute is via interstate, plan on unexpected delays. My fist day at my new job is on Tuesday, and it’s normally a 30 minute drive, but it’s via interstate, so I’ll be leaving an hour ahead rather than 30 mins ahead. Probably overkill, but at least I won’t be stressed. If you have Waze in your area, I think it’s better than other mapping apps at navigating around traffic snarls.

    6. EMP*

      Congrats!!
      Definitely second the suggestions to plan on driving in early – you can always wait in the car if you get there more than ~15 minutes before your start time

      This is something I wish I knew as a stressed out Good Student:
      – expect to do basically nothing on your first day except orientation, and don’t be surprised if you don’t have much to do for the first week or two.

      Something I’ve seen be a hard adjustment for The First Real Job is when you’re at school, there is usually something to work on RIGHT AWAY, sometimes even before the first actual class. I’m sure this doesn’t apply to absolutely 100% of all new jobs, but in my experience, New Job will take a while to actually assign you things. This is for a wide variety of reasons but it’s nothing about you or what they expect from you, it’s just because Job Time is different from School Time. Do your best not to fret that you don’t have much to keep busy the first few days or even the first few weeks (do be attentive and do what you’re assigned though!)

    7. Nicki Name*

      Bring your lunch on day 1 so you don’t have to worry about finding a place to get lunch. Also be prepared to put that lunch in the fridge if it turns out that team has a tradition of taking the new person out to lunch on day 1.

      (And if you’re starting on Labor Day, many of the food places right around the office may be closed anyway.)

    8. Nicki Name*

      General advice: If people know you’re new there, and especially if they know this is your first adult job, they will understand that you’re dealing with a lot of new things and cut you a lot of slack. And if you’re not sure they know, you can always tell them.

      “Hi, I’m new here, is there a microwave around here somewhere?”
      “Hi, I’m new here, can you tell me what this ‘Llama Dash’ there are posters for all over the place is about?”

    9. Hillary*

      Congrats! In general, hang back a little, observe, and ask polite questions. Ask why they do things that way, don’t declare that they’re wrong. Last year we watched a rotator work through all the stuff the textbook said we should be doing. And there were reasons for every one. The textbooks assume perfect conditions and those don’t exist in the real world. If you’re part of a cohort, make an effort to get to know them. But your relationships may be different, these will be work friends. The main goal is to get along with everyone.

      EMP’s 100% right that it will be slower than school. One of the biggest adjustments for folks I worked with was adjusting their goals. It’s not A+ for a semester, a lot of jobs need a solid B for two years.

      Most importantly, be kind to yourself. No fall break will feel weird, no winter break weirder, and that first June sucks.

  90. Discrimination Lawsuit*

    I’m just curious – has anyone ever filed a discrimination lawsuit against their employer and won? Or what was the outcome of it?

  91. Tarita*

    I have staff that won’t go on their ten minute break when someone shows up to cover them, and then call an hour later asking for their break. I want to give them breaks when it works best for them, but I don’t have the staff to cover their breaks later. I don’t want to illegally skip breaks. What should I do?

    1. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

      could you talk with them directly about why they’re not going on their break when someone shows up to cover for them? is it a workflow issue? could you have the person who needs to take the break let the cover person know when they’d like to go instead (giving, say, a 10 min heads up)? you could explain that it’s a coverage issue if they don’t go when they’re supposed to.

      i used to work at a library where our break were scheduled for us, and it was understood that we would go on them as close to the time as possible (we interacted with the public so it wasn’t always possible to go on schedule 100% of the time).

    2. ferrina*

      You can require people to go on break. This is common in certain industries (it was common when I worked in childcare- you would get written up if you refused to go on your hour-long lunch break. We were hourly non-exempt).

      Make sure you’re giving people breaks at reasonable times (i.e., not 1 hour into their shift) and try to accommodate preferences, but make an announcement/proactively tell people “We can’t do breaks exactly when you want because we don’t have the staff for that. Breaks are scheduled as close to your preferred time as possible. When it is your break time, you are required to go on break because we are legally required to provide you a break.”
      For frequent offenders, let them know ahead of time that refusing to go on break can result in disciplinary action (make sure the tone isn’t “or else!” but rather, “hey, I want you to know this so you can make the best decision for yourself”)

    3. OyHiOh*

      When I worked in call center environment, a supervisor would come by at scheduled break time, wait till I was done with a call (we were in bound/order processing only) and then physically disconnect me from the phone system and watch me walk toward the bathrooms/break room area. If it wasn’t busy, they’d just kind of wander and make sure people were logging out at their scheduled times, but when it was busy (so basically from the Wed before Thanksgiving to the day after Christmas) they physically made sure we took our breaks. Otherwise, it just never stopped.

  92. tomato tomato*

    Just got news of this year’s work retreat, and I’m getting pretty anxious about it – it’s several hours away by car, at a campground of all places, and in the middle of winter in the midwest. It was absolutely miserable last year: cold, very subpar accommodations (barely working showers, broken heating, and really uncomfortable beds), and kids are invited but I’m not much of a kid person so watching them scream and run around got old pretty quickly, and kids around meant there was very little drinking. Oh, and I also can’t drive due to medical stuff, so I have to carpool with someone and make awkward small talk for several hours each way.

    Seriously thinking about faking having a wedding or faking being sick or something, but I don’t like lying about stuff that could blow up on me later. And that won’t get me out of next year’s either. Ughhhh, I seriously like this job in most other aspects, so this probably isn’t a reason to start job hunting again, but man, I really wish we didn’t do retreats.

    1. EMP*

      Is your work not one that will take a non-excused “no” as an answer? “Sorry I can’t make the retreat this year” period end of?

      1. tomato tomato*

        Unfortunately not. CEO’s a super extroverted guy, and it’s a pretty small company (<10 people). He's the type who reschedules the entire thing so everyone can make it – it happened a few times last year. At least it's at a different venue than last year (still a campground, but technically owned by someone else), so I'm hoping there's at least decent heating this year. Just wish it wasn't so dang far away.