open thread – September 15-16, 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.

{ 942 comments… read them below }

  1. Roxie*

    My director dropped the ball on a bunch of little things which caused 1 massive fire that drew in eyes from leadership. He has been lucky that he’s been getting away with doing nothing and passing the buck off to people for the past year. I get the sense that he’s probably been dropping the ball on smaller things and that his boss is finally taking some kind of action because now he is scrambling with his work and it’s even more obvious he’s unqualified and flailing for survival. Since he tries to get me to do his job for him, he’s now attempting to take me under with him.

    I’ve had it with helping him do his job because he usually gets passive aggressive or disappears when I do need his help. What he likes to do is push for video calls at random (“got a second?”) throughout the day. I’ve tried to say, “no, I’m in the middle of eating” or “can you just send me a Slack message or email”, but he still keeps trying to push for calls. I’m worried now that his boss and leadership seem to be on top of him now, he’s going to try and bring me down to save himself.

    I have no idea how to navigate this! How is it possible to stop covering for him when he keeps trying to get me to do his job? As my manager he has the authority to tell me what to do.

      1. kiki*

        I was also going to recommend scheduling a skip-level to share anything you know about balls he’s dropped and to bring to their attention some of his work your director is trying to have you do.

    1. Anecdata*

      yeah, you can’t just not talk to your boss/refuse his calls

      You can send notes/follow up emails after the call with your summary if you want a paper trail though

    2. cabbagepants*

      I’d make an extra point of complying with his directives as much as possible while documenting everything. Any verbal request gets a follow-up email confirming it. Any weirdness gets an polite request for clarification. Anything you can’t handle gets communicated immediately and without shame.

      Don’t take any hints. Make him say any quiet parts out loud. Be a gray rock regarding any drama from him.

      I would start answering the needless video calls just so he can’t complain that you’re unavailable.

      Start sending out a weekly status update with next week’s plans to him and any other reasonable stakeholders.

      1. M2RB*

        I like this response! Document document document. “I’m emailing to confirm what we discussed just now on a call; please email back if I have missed any details or if you have anything to add.” The weekly update emails are also great – quick summary of what you’ve been working on, quick list of any obstacles/bottlenecks, highlight any achievements/accomplishments.

        1. cabbagepants*

          Honestly the weekly email is so great. It’s CYA, brag sheet, notes to use for your annual review, help request, status update, and to-do list all in one. I was required to do them at my previous job and kept it up because they serve so many purposes.

    3. Fatima M*

      In addition to my regular job task, I head up the DEI efforts at my smallish company. We generally recognized and celebrate things like Black History Month, Pride month, etc. I have had someone ask what we are doing next month for Italian Heritage Month.

      I’m conflicted. I don’t feel like the point of DEI is celebrating people who culturally are seen as white. I know Italian people have a unique history in America, but I just don’t feel like it’s appropriate to put the same energy into this that we do months for POCs and queer folks.

      Thoughts?

        1. Writing inclusive narratives*

          I didn’t find your post elsewhere easily so I am replying here… Take the advice of the Zinn Education Project (Google them and Italian American heritage month). They say “Want to honor Italian heritage? Skip Columbus and learn about these justice fighters.” — What follows is an overview of Italian Americans who have fought for justice (as an alternative to glorifying colonizers).

    4. Busy Middle Manager*

      Since we don’t have specifics, I will be generic: try to differentiate between “doing his job for him” and “being delegated tasks.”

      Your boss can still sink (as you probably want and need him to) even if you do some stuff for him. And helping your boss is just one’s job, not doing their job or doing something extra.

      I’m actually having an issue now with another Director where people keep pushing back when he assigns them work because it’s “his” job. They don’t see his full plate. Yes, he used to do those tasks but his role expanded and he clearly needs other people to also expand their roles.

      Just wanted to offer a bit alternative advice since I also agree with the others saying “document document” and agree boss is probably not good

  2. Anecdata*

    What severance benefits for layoffs are typical these days? Can people share what their comment company has offered, industry, country, year of layoff that their companies have offered recently?

    1. CSRoadWarrior*

      My former company paid severance depending on how long you were there, though I don’t really know how long because I never got it (I voluntarily quit for a new job) – this was for a lighting company and I worked in accounting. I am not sure if benefits were included, to be honest.

      In another example, for my aunt, she got laid off and got a year of severance pay equivalent to her salary as well as benefits at the time of the layoff. But she was there for 20 years, which is quite some time. She was with a pharmaceutical company.

      1. Heffalump*

        Last time I was laid off, in November 2013, I got a month of severance for every year I’d been there. I’d been there 13 years, and I was lucky enough to get a new job within 3 weeks, so it was a real windfall.

    2. Purple Cat*

      Standard policy at my old company – US, Food Manufacturing, was to offer 2 weeks per year of service. But that was for layoffs related to major reorganizations.

    3. Anecdata*

      I’m in tech-but-not-FAANG
      Large company (10k+ )
      And their 2023 layoffs offered no severance at all/no benefits extensions/nothing
      and curious whether that’s “sucks but normal” or is it unusual

    4. Donkey Hotey*

      2017, private family business
      Two weeks of severance for every year worked at the company, maximum of six months, plus cash out for unused vacation. Paid like normal paydays rather than a lump sum.
      (I qualified for six months and found a job after three months, so I legally double dipped for three months.)

    5. Magpie*

      I’m not sure there’s a “typical” severance package. It varies pretty wildly, even within the same company for different roles or for different rounds of layoffs. It depends a lot on how the company is doing financially and how much they care about any negative backlash from not offering much to the people they lay off. To give you an idea of the differences: my husband and I were both laid off from similar industries within about a year of each other several years ago. I was given a lump sum of about a month’s salary and was kicked off the health insurance at the end of the month. He continued to receive his regular paychecks for six months after his last day and also kept his health insurance through that time. There was another layoff at his company a few months later and those people got a much lower salary payout. It’s probably best to not try and anticipate what a severance package will look like because there’s really no way to anticipate it.

    6. ICodeForFood*

      I’m in a tech-but-not-FAANG, very large US company, and our recent (non-union) layoffs have included severance of 2 weeks per completed year of service.

    7. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Tech/data, US, not FAANG, I was laid off in January with 2 weeks for each year plus an extra week, insurance through the end of my severance period, and outplacement services. My current company just did layoffs and I understand the minimum severance was three months but I don’t know about insurance.

    8. Nicki Name*

      Tech, US, laid off early this year.

      – 5 weeks of severance (people who’d been there longer got more, but I don’t know specifics)
      – Official layoff date was the Friday of that week, so I got paid for the full week (very common in tech)
      – Health benefits through the end of the month (also common in tech)
      – 2 months of subsidized COBRA so that the payment was the same as my payment for health insurance during employment
      – Support from a company that gives people advice for their job searches (not terribly useful as their advice was generic to job-seekers of all sorts)

    9. I don’t post often*

      Hi! I work at a large financial institution that announced this week over the next 12-18 there would major reduction in cost to include layoffs (or Reductions in force).
      The severance package is posted on the HR website. It is always posted, regardless of whether layoffs are planned or in the works or what have you. If you work for a large company yours might be posted as well.

      1. Aye Nonny Nonny*

        I think we work for the same bank. They did note somewhere that the severance would be based on pay *before* the company’s minimum wage increase took effect last fall. That may explain why the PowerPoint deck on the investor relations site is saying most RIFs will happen in the next two quarters.

    10. Flames on the Side of My Face*

      My company gave 2 weeks per year of employment recently. A friend’s company did the same.

    11. talos*

      I’m in Big Tech (so FAANG or very close). Severance packages I’ve heard about have varied a little, but 16 weeks’ pay plus 1 week per year of service would be roughly typical here.

      1. Roland*

        That’s what I got in mass layoffs from my (not FAANG) tech company earlier this year, 16+1/yr. Also fully-paid COBRA for up to 6 months.

    12. The Formatting Queen*

      This was in 2020/US – I was in the aerospace/automotive/telecomm sector (at an engineering/testing services company) and received the equivalent of one week of pay for each year I’d been there – 12 years, so close to 3 months of severance. I was laid off right at the beginning of October, and my health insurance and other benefits were good until the end of the month (which meant I also had until then to use the remainder of my FSA balance – and could even spend the money I hadn’t actually paid in yet… the HR rep flat out told me they wouldn’t ask for it back. I ended up getting a free pair of glasses out of that deal). I also had a month of accrued vacation they were required to pay out, plus I got unemployment. Which all helped carry me over since I didn’t get a job till 4 months later.

    13. Tau*

      German labour law is so very different from US that I’m not sure this will be of any help to Americans. But my tech company (Germany) is painfully lurching through a layoff process right now, and they’re offering a mutual contract amendment/dissolution where they put you on garden leave until the end of the year (so, paid a salary but not working), and that if you start a new job during this time they’ll still pay you half your salary for the overlapping period. If you don’t take this deal, they’ll probably do a termination of employment as per contract, in which case you’ll just be regularly employed until the end of the year (contractual notice period). So it’s not really extra money they’re offering so much as vacation time. I get the impression they don’t actually have the budget for an extra severance lump sum, tbh.

    14. ThatGirl*

      March 2017 – got 2 weeks pay per year of service, plus PTO payout (which is a law in Illinois anyway), and “outplacement services” which was 3 months of Right Management services for resume review, interview practice, networking tips, etc. When I signed the severance papers I was also signing away my right to ever be employed by that company again, weirdly. It was a workplace supply wholesaler, I worked in marketing.

      Nov. 2020 – also 2 weeks pay per year of service and PTO payout, health insurance coverage for 3 months. Baking and decorating supply company, still in marketing.

    15. Not Telling For This One*

      Tech-adjacent. Most recent RIF earlier this year.

      Standard package in the USA is:
      – 2 weeks pay in lieu of notice
      – payout of unused, accrued vacation regardless of what state an employee works in
      – if a release agreement is signed, 2 weeks of severance (base) pay for every full year of service (minimum is 2 weeks, maximum is 52 weeks). During the severance period, medical benefits continue at the employee contribution rate; COBRA will kick in after the severance period ends. We also offer outplacement services (package varies by level of role).

    16. Non-techy tech worker*

      My position got eliminated last fall from a US tech company (not FAANG). I was notified near the end of October 2022. I’d been there 1.5 years. I got:
      – A month to look for an internal job to transfer to (didn’t work out)
      – They arranged the last day of employment to be December 1, so I got healthcare the whole month of December.
      – 8 weeks of salary
      – Money to pay for 3 months of COBRA (health insurance continuation)

    17. i put something here because the name field is required*

      Country is US, industry is too identifying (sorry), and layoffs announced recently but will not be taking place until next year.

      Hourly employees are getting 2 weeks per year of service, up to 26 weeks.
      Salaried employees 3 weeks per year, up to 36 weeks.

      Supposedly severance was much longer the last time we had layoffs (2016) but management says they feel we don’t need as much severance this time due to the long notice.

    18. Chauncy Gardener*

      I’ve seen anywhere from one week to one month per year of service. Sometimes you can get a lump sum for x number of months of COBRA.

    19. kalli*

      Location? Some places have minimum severance legislated that you could refer to – eg one week per year for the first ten years, then 12-14 weeks + extra based on age, plus outstanding entitlements.

    20. DJ Abbott*

      When my position was eliminated in Dec 2019, I got one week of pay for each year I was there. This was a hospital owned by a corporation.

    21. Stephanie*

      Big 3 automaker. Wasn’t laid off, but knew several people in the last year. Packages ranged from 1 months’ salary to 9 months’ salary based on tenure. 20+ years and higher got 9 months. Insurance for 30 days after termination.

    1. Momma Bear*

      I think this is where a CYA email might be helpful. Put it back in writing that you’re doing x and y outside of duties ABC. Or ask him in writing to prioritize his special project because if you meet his task deadline, you can’t meet this other one over here, and surely you need to meet this one to do your job…blink blink.

  3. litprof*

    How much information is too much when your boss asks you how things are going?
    Context: I’m a faculty member on research leave this semester. I have occasional meetings with the head of my department because he and I are collaborators on several research projects. Most academics love the freedom research leave affords, but it’s pretty much my worst nightmare. I find research and writing to be incredibly stressful and unpleasant, verging on demoralizing at times. I am grateful for the opportunity to focus on it for a few months because I struggle to move my research forward when balancing other professional responsibilities, but the actual experience has been unpleasant so far. I know I will push through and succeed (after all, I was able to earn a PhD and a promotion), but somehow the anxiety and emotional distress never decrease.
    So, when my boss asks me how I’m doing, or how I’m enjoying research leave, what should I say? I know it would be inappropriate to share my emotions with him (I reserve that for my therapist!), but it feels like lying to say that everything is okay. There’s nothing he can do to help me from a management standpoint, because the stress is all due to my internal emotional stuff, rather than structure, planning, or workload. Do I just say a quick “it’s been a rocky start, but I’m figuring things out?” How can I be honest without crossing boundaries, and how can I answer his innocuous questions when I feel so embarrassed about how much I’m struggling?

    1. MsSolo (UK)*

      Has he taken research leave in the past? You could share something like that you’re finding slogging through the research/writing aspects challenging and ask him if he has any tactics to help. There’s a 99% chance he’ll come back with really obvious stuff you’re already doing (and if he raises it again, more often than you like, you can can at least tell him that you’re doing the things even if you were doing them anyway) but it might help mitigate feeling like you’re lying.

      1. deesse877*

        This is a solid answer. Senior people like to feel they’re helping! And they know, or should know, that leaves/sabbaticals are not relaxing. if it fits with your culture you might also throw in something vaguely positive like “I’m loving the chance to cook more often”– something unimportant that would reflect fewer one campus meetings. You can also pivot by asking him how teaching and service work are going this semester.

        In short, just talk for a bit and keep it moving. His goal is ” check in with litprof, ” not “acquire accurate, real-time data about litprof’s progress.”

    2. MissMeghan*

      #1, you would be surprised by how much everyone struggles and is quietly embarrassed by it, you are not alone! When I was a baby associate at a law firm I felt like the only one struggling, but realized it was because I was working alone and struggling alone. So hopefully you can feel less embarrassed about being a normal person who knows what they’re doing and still struggles through it.

      #2, I’ve been able to get into honest conversations by starting light-hearted. “I’m enjoying the time to dedicate myself to research, but holy cow does it bring back the anxiety of finishing a dissertation!” Maybe your boss will laugh it off and not want to go deeper, but maybe they’ll share their own experiences or have good advice for managing things.

    3. sb51*

      “I’m finding the lack of structure more challenging than I expected”, maybe? Followed either by a request for advice if you think it’d be helpful, or by saying “but I’ve gotten things on track blah blah” if you want to head off advice.

    4. Tired Librarian*

      I highly recommend looking up Carol Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process. It was a study which analyzed researcher’s emotions throughout a research project. The study focused on college students, but the results connect with everyone who does research!

      Basically – you’re not alone! Most people (including your boss!) feel this way throughout a research project. It’s natural to feel highs and lows throughout the process. I know that doesn’t fix things, but I (and my students) have found that just knowing you’re not alone out there helps push you through to the next phase of the process.

      Okay, I’m off my librarian soapbox for the day… probably

    5. taco flavored kisses*

      I think it depends on your boss’s communication style and your relationship, but I think most managers find it helpful to know when there are challenges. So you could say something like “Having such an unstructured working arrangement is new for me, and I’m finding XYZ challenging. But I’m enjoying ABC and recently accomplished DEF.” No need to go into everything you’re feeling. Your boss may commiserate, or he may have some helpful suggestions.

    6. litprof*

      Thank you, all. Your comments have given me some practical things to say, as well as helped me feel better about how overwhelming research can be. I’m glad I’m not the only one! I’m lucky to have a boss who asks these sorts of questions only to be supportive, rather than to judge or check in on me. I’m going to try some of these suggestions at our next check-in meeting.

      1. Dr. Doll*

        Do you know about the National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity, NCFDD? They have a thriving community that’s very supportive.

    7. WantonSeedStitch*

      I’d be honest but not detailed. I would say something like what you recommend or, “well, working on research is not my favorite way of spending my time, but I’m grateful to be able to put other things on hold while I tackle it. I’ll be glad when it’s done, though, to be honest!”

    8. Fierce Jindo*

      You could try something like, “I’m glad to have the time, but to be honest, it’s reminding me that I thrive on the structure [or interaction or whatever is true for you] of teaching and department life! I’m hoping to get a lot of writing done and then enjoy being back in the classroom.”

    9. thelettermegan*

      Honestly, it just sounds like it’s hard work, and you can lean on that. Writing and research is challenging, and sometimes the only thing that will help is encouragement and moral support. It’s ok to express an emotion that is ‘determination to wrestle this research beast to academic victory,’ rather than ‘I sure am doing what I love and it doesn’t feel like work at all.’

    10. DeptChair*

      Faculty member/dept chair here. I found focusing only on research during my sabbatical to be incredibly challenging (and several others in my department have said the same). I think one of the issues is that everyone talks about sabbaticals like they are the dream–and they are in a way, just due to the time and space you have. But I think people are often unrealistic about what they can accomplish. It’s such deep and challenging work you can’t just do it endlessly. So you end up accomplishing less than you thought you could. All this to say, I don’t think your chair would be surprised if you expressed that you are facing some challenges!

    11. linger*

      I have also struggled with unstructured research time during sabbatical, but one thing that did help keep me moving forward was to impose a structure, by volunteering to present at several conferences during the year, with topic proposals matching distinct stages of the research. Having an external audience forced me to keep working towards completing those smaller stages — and also allowed a ready progress summary for anyone asking.

  4. Frosty Chug-a-Freeze*

    ’m a few months in to my new (salaried exempt) manufacturing job. I’m on the office side of things, but my role has a lot of interaction with the production side. I’m in management, but I have no oversight of floor employees.

    Recently there’s been a discussion about expanding our hours, in theory temporarily, to include weekends. The issue is that this will require some kind of supervisory coverage, technically this responsibility falls under a couple of specific job titles, but we don’t have enough people in those roles to cover the amount of time we need covered. It’s already been floated to have some managers cover this. I’m unsure if this time would be comped or if it would fall under that super fun umbrella of unpaid extra hours that are sometimes required for salaried non exempt employees.

    There are a number of reasons I have concerns about doing this. Ranging from the valid (I would be absolutely useless in case of a problem), to the petty (it’s not my job to do this, this never came up at any point when I was asking about work hours etc during the interviews), to the kinda lame/personal (I have plans for a lot of the upcoming weekends and I just don’t want to do this in general). I can’t say I wouldn’t mind if it was occasional (like once a quarter) but I could deal with it. I just think it’s going to end up being more frequent, just based on math.

    I’m new, so I have no capital. I’m young, and child free, and I live close to the office, all of which I’m sure will be strikes against me when this is being considered as we have some people with hour plus commutes (I don’t think it would be intentional, but I can see getting a certain amount of pressure to to pitch in even if it’s only from my own conscience) I’m very worried about how I can push back on this without seeming like I’m “not a team player” or at the very least set reasonable boundaries.

    1. cabbagepants*

      I’m confused. If you’re non-exempt then that means that OT laws do apply to you, so you should be paid for any overtime.

      1. Frosty Chug-a-Freeze*

        Apologies, I am exempt as I said originally, the non exempt later is a typo. And before anyone asks, my salary is well above the threshold :)

    2. Single Parent Barbie*

      You do not have the knowledge or skill to oversee production. Period. There are a 1000 and 1 reasons and that includes what do to do there is a spill or environmental issue, or a machine breaks down, or a raw material is unavailable. Or worse someone gets hurt. (I have worked in manufacturing for a couple of decades.) Any of this can happen at any time. You are only a few months into the role, so you are still getting comfortable in your own job, there are levels of knowledge you would need to keep an eye on production for just one day. Not to mention since the team members don’t report to you, you may have issues with them pushing back on you depending on the people.
      I would push back regarding the compliance issues related to labor, safety and environment.

      1. cabbagepants*

        Agreed 100%.

        Ask what the responsibilities would be of these weekend managers and then state that you are unable to fulfill those responsibilities.

        As much as you should be able to argue that adding weekend hours sucks big time and they’d be absolute bastards to require that, they probably technically are able to do so legally so it’s a weak argument when you are new and don’t have social capital.

        1. Frosty Chug-a-Freeze*

          Yeah, I’m definitely planning to bring up safety concerns and I do think that will be taken seriously, I just also think that there will be a “and we’ll train you on all needed procedures/info” which will kill that argument lol

          1. LCH*

            i mean, how much time do they want between an emergency and you figuring out how to manage it (by looking it up in a manual or whatever). because it seems unlikely they would be able to train you enough in a short period to be able to react automatically to whatever may occur.

    3. Goddess47*

      I’ve read enough AAM to know you shouldn’t say you’re ‘child free’ in this type of a situation… you can bet all the parents will claim “oh, but my kids have…” and get out of it that way. Kids will trump whatever you have planned. It’s not fair, but you wait…

      You now have ongoing, weekly obligations on Saturdays… “oh, it’s a special thing that’s not worth talking about! How about those Mets?” that you have already paid for and are going to go to. It can be a weekly meeting with a fluffy pillow… but unless you are going to be fairly compensated, you should say a firm ‘no’ and you legally do not have to explain.

      (If you’re pushed, it’s a weekly Zoom webinar for a hobby you’ve already admitted to having, in the middle of whatever the shift would be. But, darn, you recently signed up — and paid for it! — and unless the company is going to pay for your time, you can’t work.)

      It’s a lot of fussing when the company won’t be transparent or pay you properly for your time.

      Good luck!

      Hang in there!

      1. Frosty Chug-a-Freeze*

        Ok, first off, how did you know I’m a Mets fan??

        Unfortunately they already know I’m child free, because I never saw a need to hide it, and I feel like it’s one of those things that becomes obvious after a few months unless you want to start faking having kids. I’m hoping I’m overthinking and that that wont enter in in a huge way, because in general I do think that my boss tries to be fair and equitable about this kind of stuff, like I’ve never heard an “oh, but Greg has kids so can you pick this up” or anything like that. I can just see all bets being off when weekends are at stake lol.

        I guess I’m worried that pushing back because I have “plans” is going to be seen as not willing to be a team player. Honestly I wouldn’t want to do this even if they paid me, because I value my time off of work so much.

        1. MJ*

          Or, you have “family obligations” on weekends. Don’t make the mistake so many do of thinking “family” only means your spouse and children.
          Your boss doesn’t need to know WHAT those obligations are, just that you have some. It might be helping parents with home repairs, taking a grandparent for a weekly grocery shop, helping a sibling or cousin who broke a leg/arm, or any number of other things. Heck it could be spending Sat afternoon playing with your cat/dog if that’s what family is to you.
          No kids =/= no family!

        2. Elizabeth Proctor*

          You are now enrolled in a weekly 2-hour “insert hobby that you actually have here” course that meets on Saturdays.

        3. Meh*

          Just offering condolences to you and your fanbase regarding the current baseball season. Hopefully 2024 is better for you!

    4. Guido Dante*

      I have been in your position, and unfortunately, just because it never came up before doesn’t mean it can’t come up, and unless you are in a union, you don’t get to play the “it’s not my job” card.

      I agree that it sucks, but you cannot push back on this. Just make sure it’s a rotation so that everyone has to take part equally.

    5. Chris too*

      How do the production staff feel about doing weekends? It sounds like you’re already short of people – so is it going to be, well, you production workers have to come in no matter what, we don’t care if you have plans for your weekends! They will get paid overtime but I wouldn’t assume they’ll all be fine with it while you’ll be the only one put out, although if they don’t plan to compensate you for this you’d have an extra reason to be upset. Unless this is planned as a *very* short term thing – two Saturdays to catch up on a backlog sort of thing – the company might find it just doesn’t fly at all with anyone.

      1. Doc McCracken*

        In my early career I worked in manufacturing. Many places will run a skeleton crew on the weekends. In some environments it may make sense to create a weekend supervisor position and train some of your best manufacturing production workers for that role. It can be a nice bridge for production folks to eventually move up. They will be paid more per hour plus overtime and a pathway to moving up. Depending on your setup, this can make great sense and be a win win. Plus you’d be a rockstar for suggesting it.

  5. Murfle*

    How much weight do HR departments give to typos/grammatical errors in job applications?

    A relative of mine just applied for a job – a lateral move at their employer, a well-known higher education institution – that they found out about at the last minute. And by last minute, I mean that they first saw the posting only about 3 hours before the deadline, and submitted their application 15 minutes before it closed. They solicited feedback from friends and collated all the suggestions into the final application while busy with work projects and (most likely) sleep deprived.

    The thing is, I got to look at their application afterwards after I expressed some curiosity about the position….and there’s a typo right in the very first sentence of the cover letter. Obviously, if they had more time to prep the application, this probably wouldn’t have happened. But now I worry: how much is that going to stick out? My relative is sure there are multiple typos in the application. Do they still have a chance?

    1. One of the feds*

      Obviously it’s going to vary by field and position, but as someone who has been hired in non-teaching academia and hired for non-teaching academia – 1 typos is a nonissue, especially when they’re clearly the type that the brain is known to gloss over or auto-correct.

      Riddled with them, now that would be another conversation, of course

      1. cabbagepants*

        I agree. One typo is not a big deal. But if the document has many of them then I question the person’s ability to be polished.

        My industry does require a fair amount of written communication, including to customers, and also requires at least a Master’s degree.

      2. Frieda*

        In my cover letter for my current academic job, I realized only after I was hired that I’d misspelled the name of the person to whom I addressed the letter.

        He literally did not notice (long-ish German name that gets misspelled and mispronounced a lot). It took me several years to bring it up and ask, though!

    2. Snark*

      If there’s more than one or two typos, they might be able to very apologetically ask if they can re-upload or re-send a clean version due to a version control mistake or something, but that runs the risk of calling attention to it. I don’t know how much it will stick out, but I’d notice multiple typos, and it would raise questions for me about attention to detail and so on.

    3. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Alien has said in the past that resumes should be perfect whereas cover letter typos (while obviously not ideal) are less of a big deal.

    4. DEJ*

      It also might depend on how many people apply – if they have a lot of good candidates and they have to start weeding people out on ridiculous stuff, it will probably matter. If they don’t have a lot of good candidates, then I think it will matter less.

    5. Mother of Corgis*

      I notice typos, but I don’t count it against the applicant unless its something glaring. Their/they’re, its, it’s, I get that those are common. If they’re misspelling something more important, like the name of the company or the job they’re applying for, I get annoyed, but I don’t reject the application outright. More bothersome for me is terrible grammar or obvious lack of effort. Like sentences that make absolutely no sense, obviously no proofreading at all. I’ve had resumes that list the exact same job duties for every single job, exact wording, typo, and everything. I may reject it if I can’t even understand what point they’re trying to get across, but for a couple typos? No, they would still have a chance if it were me.

      1. Jamie Starr*

        To me confusing they’re/their/there or your/you’re would be more serious. Because I don’t know if you just misspelled the word, or don’t know the difference in the meaning of those words. Whereas something like principle/principal I be more apt to let slide. (Unless you are in finance or education – heh.)

        I would definitely count typos against someone if they were combined with the assertion of the applicant’s “attention to detail.”

        1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

          My job title includes “Principal”. The number of times I appeared as “Principle Groomer” on conference programmes is staggering.
          Do they expect me to groom principles, explain the principles of grooming, or to be e generally principled person?
          The mind boggles.

    6. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

      Depends on the job. If the responsibilities include proofreading or quality control of written materials, yeah, typos on your application materials – where I’d imagine you’d want to showcase your best work – are a pretty big deal. Probably not a dealbreaker, but makes me start looking for other signs that skills in that area aren’t strong enough. If ability to catch typos has nothing to do with the work, I wouldn’t even register them.

      But also, what the typos are can matter. Like, if you’re going to address your cover letter to me, you really gotta spell my name right. Or like, misspelling the company’s name can look particularly sloppy. Again, not deal-breakers except in role-specific contexts, but it is going to get my attention in ways that a random misspelled word buried half way down the resume won’t.

    7. My own boss*

      The answer is probably it depends. I was once a finalist for a job where I used the wrong company name in the cover letter. I seriously didn’t notice it until I applied for their next open position (which I got). When I hire people I don’t nitpick their cover letters because we all make mistakes. Like others have said, a lot of errors will give me pause, but I won’t outright reject an otherwise strong application because of an error, especially if the error is something we have internal systems to catch.

      1. Elitist Semicolon*

        I told the University of Llamaville that I’d like to teach at Teapot University and still got offered the job at UL. Teaching, of all things, writing. (That said, I did not take the job for a number of reasons, including Llamaville not being to my liking, but also including the fact that the interview committee did not let me forget for even an hour that I’d accidentally mentioned Teapot U. in my cover letter.)

        I don’t recommend that strategy, but it’s a mistake that happens often enough that it can slide by IF the rest of your letter makes it clear you’ve done your research on the place you’re applying to and tailored your examples accordingly.

    8. English Rose*

      Slight tangent, but I’m curious to know why with such a tight time-frame they solicited feedback from friends – quite a few judging by “all the suggestions”. That split focus probably contributed to the error.
      Anyway, if it’s just the one typo probably not such a big deal especially bearing in mind it’s a lateral move so your relative will already have a (hopefully good!) reputation with the employer. As others have said though, if there are multiple typos, that’s not so wonderful.

    9. Bagpuss*

      It’s going to depend entirely on the people reviewing the application, they ype of work, the strength of the application otherwise and the number and quality of other applicants.
      It’s likely to mean that they re less likely to be successful than if everything else was the same but their application was free from typos, and does mean that the first impression is going to be affected

    10. Eng Girl*

      Depends on the job. In engineering I typically don’t worry about a couple of typos because we as a group are notoriously bad spellers. I couldn’t care less about some of the more finicky grammatical issues.

      The only caveat to this is if if there are multiple errors and an applicant has described themselves as “detail oriented”. It’s a major pet peeve of mine, but if everything else was strong I’d still interview them.

    11. Busy Middle Manager*

      I m not HR but I hire and I don’t care that much anymore. Of course this is for operations and coding type roles. I recognize that spell check will sometimes change things to the wrong word or “fix” an abbreviation or pick the wrong word or say grammar is wrong when it’s actually correct.

      IME more glairing errors overshadow a typo or two. My pet peeve I actually care about is someone who claims to be expert in dozens of software applications, especially if they had a short career or don’t seem to have had the experience that would warrant advanced level used of said applications.

      But another way, I care about a bit deeper level of logic than just a typo or three. Then again, we write emails using abbreviation language and bad grammar.

    12. Haven’t picked a username yet*

      If I have 10 strong resumes and 1 has a typo, I will likely drop them, if I have 2 strong resumes and one has a typo I will interview them.

      In a strong candidate pool little things matter.

    13. Ally*

      For me it would depend on the type of typo. Something that’s obviously an actual typo- a completely wrong letter or number banged in there- is not as bad as bad grammar or other mistakes.

    14. Csethiro Ceredin*

      I am an English nerd and I still don’t care about the odd typo. For more than that, it depends on the job they’re applying for.

      If the posted job demands writing skills and it’s riddled with errors that don’t look like simple typos, to the point that it seems they have no idea how to write, that is hard to overcome.

      I usually only reject someone for that kind of thing if it’s extreme and they do things like cite “atenton to detalil” (actual example).

    15. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      There’s a good range of responses here but one thing I would say to your relative is that they definitely have a MUCH higher chance of getting the job than if they hadn’t made the deadline! With 3 hours, realistically the choice wasn’t between “perfect application” and “flawed application” but between “flawed application” and “no application”. They made the right call!

      If it’s a lateral move in their organisation, too, hopefully they have enough of a reputation/solid relationships that the selection panel will know how much weight to place on typos vs content.

    16. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      When I was on hiring committees, one typo or other error (I once got a cover letter that called us University of X (our rival) rather than X State University but otherwise addressed the open position they were applying for) wouldn’t eliminate a candidate. As long as they checked all the required boxes on the hiring rubric, they would at least get a phone interview.

    17. GythaOgden*

      I know the interviewer for an internal position that I’m up for next week and her grammar is awful! She’s my regional manager so it hasn’t held her back. Her attention to detail was also pretty keen when she was a sniper in the Royal Navy, so one thing does not necessarily preclude the other.

      That said, I go over my applications with a really close eye. Despite my manager’s gnarly emails, I recognise that I like to send stuff out as clean as possible and it is always worth giving things a quick proofread or even asking someone else to go through it. Accuracy is really important when you’re searching through data and my Excel course emphasised the importance of data hygiene in keeping large spreadsheets manageable for other users. (No joke, my not-tech-savvy colleague has complained in the past that the computer won’t find a name she’s mistyped — because she expects it to think like a human rather than a machine, and we don’t have the search algorithms of a site like eBay where it is to their advantage to have software that recognised mis-spellings.) So whereas my manager has proved herself to others already, I still have to show my attention to detail.

  6. Snark*

    Former frequent commenter, current occasional commenter here with some very good news – I traded my 40 minute commute to a high-stress position managing three to five programs with terrible leadership and two problematic coworkers for a 20 minute commute to a low-stress job managing one big program with 50% remote work and great leadership and coworkers. And they send me to Hawaii roughly quarterly, as I have responsibility over a remote site in Maui. It was a lateral move, but the shorter commute, vastly improved work-life balance, lower stress, made this move a no-brainer and a major effective raise. And did I mention, and I cannot emphasize this enough, Maui. Maui. I just booked my second trip there for October. I still have to occasionally pinch myself.

      1. Snark*

        It absolutely is, and it really hammered home for me how much more there is to the employment transaction than dollars. I’d gained 30 pounds and was constantly irritable and miserable. Even if all the other variables stayed the same, Maui wasn’t in the picture, and I only got to reduce my stress and over-subscription issue, it would have been very worth it.

    1. Dr. Doll*

      Hey! I hope this will give you time to comment here more often, because you are smart and funny and I miss your input! So really, your good news is all about ME! ;-)

      Seriously, congratulations and YAY YOU! ENJOY! And tell us about Maui!

      (God, that’s a lot of exclamation points.)

      1. Snark*

        Why thanks! I’m astonished anyone remembers me.

        I was last on Maui a week before the wildfires, so I assume it’s feeling a little different now, but man, it’s a great place. I wasn’t doing tourist stuff, but I did eat my weight in ahi poke, walked down to the beach with my coffee every morning, and got to explore Haleakala (which is where I work). And it’s just an impossibly lovely, gentle place with soft breezes and salt water, which I was in serious need of.

    2. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Congratulations, Snark
      Paid to visit Maui 4 x yearly – tough work but someone’s gotta do it!

      Work-life balance is genuinely essential to survive our 40-year careers with intact physical & mental health.

    3. Csethiro Ceredin*

      I always enjoyed your posts! Glad things are looking up so significantly.

      And Maui sounds like the platonic ideal of business travel.

    4. Llama Llama*

      Jealous. I work with people all of the world and I often joke that I need to resolve a problem in person when the location is a lovely tropical location.

    5. Arts Akimbo*

      That’s great! I was missing your comments just the other day, in fact. Glad to see your pseudonym around these here internets!

  7. taco flavored kisses*

    I’m in a new job and need a reality check on whether this is normal, because I haven’t encountered anything like it. When we have a doctor appointment, we are expected to post it on the departmental calendar and the team admin sends out a weekly list of events, including who has a doctor appointment when. The announcement part especially rubs me the wrong way because I’m a very private person, but maybe this is common and I just haven’t encountered it before? For context, we are not hourly, none of our work is urgent, and we all have chat notifications on our phones for anything that needs a quick response. And of course I mark my calendar and let my supervisor know. This morning I had an appointment on short notice, and my boss informed me that she had retroactively added it to the calendar after I had already returned to the office.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Why on earth does anyone need to know about their doctor’s appointments? I think just informing people that they’ll be out of the office is plenty.

    1. Elle Woods*

      Nope. Not normal. I think it’s normal to have a department calendar that people can check for who’s available for things but not why they’re not.

      1. nm*

        Yeah, in my office we just put in the time slot “[my name] unavailable” and then people use that info to schedule meetings. But we’re not expected to give details beyond “unavailable”.

    2. One of the feds*

      Do they expect you to specify, or could you just submit it as “Personal Appt” or “Non-work appt” – it’s common in my workplace for some of the frontline and middle managers to include that so people know it’s not just that you’re on a video call and could be pinged, but that you are off campus entirely and non-reachable.

      Barring that, it’s not NOT normal, but only because a lot of work places are invasive. It shouldn’t be normal.

    3. Scientist*

      If the department calendar just says “appointment” with no more details, as a way of keeping track when people are out of the office and completely unavailable, that seems still a little uncommon or unexpected to me, but not crazy. Appointment could cover any mandatory, away-from-work event, from doctor’s and dentist appointments (of any kind, including annual visits), to car maintenance, to a meeting with your kid’s day care, etc. If it’s required however that it specify “doctor’s appointment” (and especially if it required any additional detail) that seems like wayyyy too much and like something like should push back on.

      And why would it be added retroactively? That makes no sense – I can only see it as a way for everyone to see who’s going to be around when they’re PLANNING things for the future

      1. taco flavored kisses*

        I agree, adding it retroactively seems totally unnecessary, although that bugs me less than having it blasted out to everyone in the weekly announcements. From what I’ve seen, everyone specifies their appointment is for (doctor, dentist, which of the children they’re taking to the doctor, etc.) but I’m going to try using a generic “offsite appointment” and see what happens.

        1. LAM*

          I have my team add it retroactively as I use the calendar when reviewing and approving timesheets. I may remember but I might not, especially when it’s less than a days worth of leave. Having it there allows me to self serve for this task.

          Also, if I’m on vacation when timesheets are due, the backup approver can look at the calendar to make this task quick and easy.

          But I explain this to folks in their first weeks and the first few times, so it’s not a surprise. I don’t put the reason, just when people are out or doing a time shift.

      2. AngryOctopus*

        Outlook has coding colors too, for Busy or Working Elsewhere, or Out of Office. Do these not translate when you share your calendar? Because then you should just be able to mark a doc app as OOO, but then if you’re WFH because the plumber is in, then you can mark Working Elsewhere.
        *I genuinely don’t know this, I’ve been acting as if it does, like yesterday I was WFH watching a virtual seminar, marked “working elsewhere” so people know they could still reach me.

    4. Rage*

      No. Well, OK part of that is normal and part is not. I put my appointments on my calendar but mark them as “private” – so you can see I’m off, but not why. I do also give my boss a head’s up that I have an “appointment” at X time (usually a calendar reminder for that morning), but I don’t tell her it’s a DOCTOR’S appointment (or a therapist’s appointment or that I’m going to a business luncheon for my side-work or getting a massage or whatever).

      But the weird part of yours is the sending out of the appointment list. Do you have to specify what the appointment is, or can you just say “I have an appointment” and leave it purposefully vague?

      Still, it seems pretty unusual.

      1. Pajamas on Bananas*

        The list is particularly weird to me. We use a shared outlook calendar with reminders turned on…so no need for a list.

    5. Ole Pammy's Getting What She Wants*

      it’s normal to say that people have appointments and wont be available; but IMO the type of appointment is irrelevant. we do something similar at my office and people choose to share how much info they feel like – i always just put “Pammy’sInitials Appt” on our shared OOO calendar and dont elaborate beyond that, and have never gotten pushback.

      1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        We share our calendars so coworkers can see the topic and location for work events, or just “private”.
        We are hybrid and also traveling a lot.

    6. Snark*

      Not at all normal. It is normal to have your out of office times on your calendar, but I just put “out” for any time I’m going to be out during my normal hours – it’s weird that they would ask for any more detail than that. I think you can push back on that diplomatically.

      1. Lizzie*

        Same. Our VP has a calendar that all her departments that report to her have to put our time off on. But its usually just PTO or if someone is going to be at something work related, they’ll put that. I don’t know, nor do I care why anyone is off, and they don’t either. I will sometimes tell my immediate boss the reason, mainly if its to take my mom to an appt. But other than that, unless it comes up in conversation, he doesn’t know why I take off, nor do I know why he does.

    7. Angstrom*

      Not normal. A reasonable policy asks you to put a generic “out of office” block on the department calendar for the time you’ll be out. Having to post the reason is intrusive.

      1. Csethiro Ceredin*

        That’s all I could think of too. We have to tag our away time as sick, personal, unpaid, or vacation in the payroll system, but that is separate from any internal department calendar and only visible to the manager and to accounting.

    8. CapyBarbara*

      This isn’t normal. Every office I’ve worked, we’ve been expected to put an “out of office” block on our personal calendar, and notify our supervisor, but the calendar event never has to have specific information. All they need to know is you’re out of the office for that time. I’ve never had a shared calendar like that either, everyone just uses their personal calendars.

    9. WellRed*

      We have a shared calendar we put appts on which I hate but we can call the appt whatever we want. Where your office goes astray is announcing the events. I think it should be kept separate.

    10. English Rose*

      Well, sending out the weekly list of events with doctors’ appointments seems pointless and odd if team can check the departmental calendar.
      Having to put ‘doctor appointment’ on the departmental calendar rather than ‘private appointment’ or similar depends on the culture of the organisation and team.
      I’m part of a very small team (4 people) and we always put if we’re going to the doctor or dentist. Our manager does the same. It would ignite far more curiosity to mark an appointment private.
      But I can see that if it’s a team of say 15 or 20 people, some colleagues are going to be closer than others and you wouldn’t want some busybody counting up how many medical visits you’d had in the last two months.

    11. Bagpuss*

      It’s not weird to track who is in or out of the office. I think it’s unusual to record WHY .
      I don’t think it would unreasonable to ask about it and flag up that setting out that you have a Doctors appointment rather than simply recording that you are unavailable during that time period is unusual and that the specific reason for someone being out isn’t really necessary for non-work related stuff, and ask whether this can be reconsidered

    12. Rex Libris*

      Not normal. Your boss needs to know you have a doctor’s appointment (but not what for.) Everyone else just needs to know you’re unavailable, if anything.

    13. Samwise*

      Normal: making sure your “out” times are on a departmental calendar

      Not normal: insisting that you state why you are out, on the departmental calendar.

      Are they insisting that it be that detailed?

    14. Guido Dante*

      For me, they only get to know that I am going to be out. That’s it. I would put “out of office” on the calendar, including the ones with short notice since evidently they even need it retroactively.

    15. Some Dude*

      we do notify the team when we have dr.’s appointments and will be out. Generally these show up in Outlook as Private Appointments so we know folks aren’t available but don’t know why. Sometimes we’ll name it is a doctor or dentist appointment, but not always. I have a standing therapy appointment during the week and it is a private appointment.

    16. I Have RBF*

      So, the adding to the department calendar is fine, even customary. The admin sending it out with all of the others as an announcement is definitely not. The admin should take any sick/pto/vacation/appointment on the calendar and convert them to simply “Out Of Office”, without detail. Anything else is TMI, IMO.

      Otherwise, you might address this by including awkward information so that the admin could realize that they are putting out too much. Or, even better, don’t add details – just use “TFK OOO – Appointment” and nothing else.

  8. Dell*

    I’m getting recruited for an internal role, but something seems off about it. The title is “Lab Coordinator” and the salary is 85-90k. The official job description matches up with this. However, in the informational interview they laid out many, many more responsibilities. You’d essentially be managing two entire labs – fully managing three contractors, scheduling, inventory & purchasing, all building and equipment maintenance and upkeep, all capital expenditures, etc. Am I off base in thinking this seems well above “coordinator” level? I’m honestly more concerned about the title than the pay.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      Personally I don’t get too hung up on titles because unless it’s a regulated profession, they can mean very different things at different organizations.

      1. Dell*

        I don’t ever plan to leave this organization, but my concern is that this title will not help my resume at all. It generally sounds like a pretty entry-level title and I have nearly 15 years experience. I want something that is a stepping stone upwards and an entry-level title feels like it could hold me back for my next move after this.

        1. One of the feds*

          Could it be one of those things that has an “official” title and a functional title?

          My job title on paperwork is Supervisory Llama Groomer, but my functional title is “Llama Grooming Assistant Director” and both go on resumes to make it clear what the recognized scope of my work is.

    2. ina*

      A coordinator with a 85-90k should have been the tip off that it was more a lab manager role. At my former uni, the use of coordinator implied an entry level position (project coordinator was like an admin assistant vs project manager was more what you traditionally think of as a PM).

      I wouldn’t be so focused on that. Is that the world you wanna do at that price?

      1. Dell*

        I am not worried about the salary so much. My husband makes 3x what I do, so another 5k isn’t much change in quality of life for me. This would not be a forever job for me – I picture 2-5 years in that role (I do plan to stay at this company for the rest of my career, and moves every 2 years are quite standard here). My concern is how this fits into my career trajectory overall.

        1. ina*

          Was the written jobs description a lot different than what they said? I am thinking it’s more work, but they described it accurately.

          If money isn’t an object, you can continue to look at something that benefits you career-wise.

          1. Dell*

            The official job posting was VASTLY different than what they told me in the informational interview. For example, the posted job description said nothing about supervising anyone but a big part of the role is fully managing three lab technicians. The informational interview was extremely thorough and I’m confident that accurately reflects the job responsibilities but the title & official description are just SO far off it’s really giving me a weird feeling.

            1. Janeric*

              And when you are promoted out of this position, will the people promoting you access the written job description?

    3. ferrina*

      I’m not familiar with the world of labs, but I’d start by comparing how this internal list of responsibilities compares with what you see at other companies.

      It sounds like one of the big worries is that the written description isn’t matching with what was described in the interview. A little bit of variance is normal- usually it’s things like “actually, we dont’ use that software” or “yeah, that will be a small part of your job”. It sounds like this might be more of a bait-and-switch?

      If the responsibilities don’t align with the pay, I would wait until offered the job then negotiate the pay. It’s fine to say “In my research, other organizations are offering $X for this role. Can you do that?” Mentally, have a minimum number you are willing to take.
      There is always the risk that there will be subtle backlash- use what you know of your organization to guide you.
      It can also be easier to get promotions within your current org than by going external (particularly for your first people management job), but that varies widely by organization and role. I’d be tempted to take the role for a couple of years, then take those qualifications and skills to a company that paid me fairly. That’s just me though- you should do whatever you are comfortable with and aligns with what you want from your job.

    4. Purple Cat*

      “Coordinator” definitely sounds like a more junior role. While your duties sound more “Manager”.
      I would look around at “Manager” roles vs. “Coordinator” roles at other companies to see what matches what they’re actually asking you to do. AND more importantly, if you were thinking $90K is fair for what the written role was, make sure you’re not taking on way more work without the related salary bump. You can’t *really* say it’s about the title and not the money, since the 2 go hand in hand.

    5. J*

      I think I could abide by the title if the salary matched the responsibilities. I know you’re more worried about title than the salary but I have found some companies use coordinator in the weirdest ways, from entry level to one level below VP. I would seek clarification on what the promotional schedule for a role like this and titles for those positions look like, as well as the titles for people you’d be supervising. I also mentioned the pay v title thing but since this job description has some scope creep issues, ask yourself how happy you’d be if those extra responsibilities ate up all your time instead of the expected duties. Would the pay still be okay for those tasks?

    6. Office Gumby*

      Maybe I come from a different world, but where I work, a Coordinator is NOT entry-level. Our tree goes: Officer, Team Leader, Coordinator, Manager, Director, CEO. The description you gave sounds very much in line with what a Coordinator in my tree would be handling (several direct reports, if not two different teams).

  9. Autistic Chili Pepper*

    Happy friday! I’m about to start WFH once a week as an accommodation. I am so darn excited, I’ve wanted this since 2021 and had been afraid to ask, but my psychiatrist was all “I will definitely sign off on this as an accommodation, this would help you a lot.” I have a staff member who will definitely see this as “boss is getting special treatment, this is unfair” and I’m trying to pre-emptively think of how to address this with her, without disclosing why I have this as an accommodation. Ideally I wouldn’t even have to say it’s an accommodation, because her instinct will be “what is being accommodated” and I don’t even want to go there.

    Her position is unable to have any remote work, which she has known since we hired her. It’s also complicated by the fact that I’m getting a laptop to facilitate remote work, and she desperately wants to work from a laptop….and she will, when we have the budget to buy them for everyone 3 months from now. She’s someone who is easily frustrated by perceived inequity (and honestly is very difficult to supervise as a first time manager, but that’s a whole other post) and I anticipate that even if I say it’s an accommodation, she’s going to cause me a lot of grief.

    1. Marie*

      Why do you care what she thinks? You’re her manager, right? If she’s a problem employee she’s going to have a problem ->no matter what you say<-!

      1. Autistic Chili Pepper*

        I think years of me trying to be a people pleaser and go with the flow are not helping me when it comes to being a manager. You’re right, it doesn’t matter what she thinks!

    2. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Wow, yeah, you need to shut that down.

      If you do disclose that it’s a medical accommodation, which you could, what’s stopping you from looking at her squarely and returning awkwardness to sender? “I don’t share medical information at work” kind of answer.

      It makes sense that the boss would have a desirable piece of equipment before their employees. She’s being weird. “I get your frustration. You’ll have one in three months with the new budget” and “This is normal practice, Susan. Your response is verging on unprofessional”

      Also why does she have to know you have a laptop at all? She has too much power here, do you feel hesitant or uncertain of how to shut it down?

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Yeah, I was thinking, but forgot to mention, if it can be avoided, just don’t mention the laptop to her.

      2. Autistic Chili Pepper*

        The fact that I have a laptop will be immediately visible to everyone in the department; open office space, and the only way I can have one is to have it in place of my desktop and get a docking station. I’ll still have my dual monitors and all that fun equipment in the office, but yeah….it’ll be a Thing since my boss doesn’t even have a laptop yet.

        We’re in a hard space. I’m a new manager, who is not great at just about every part of managing yet. She’s a new employee, who came from a place where she was essentially in control of her entire department, to one where she is an individual contributor with little control. We expected her to behave a bit like this, but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy thing to handle.

        1. Shandra*

          If you know and are able to share, I’d be interested in why your report went from a department leader position to an IC. Did she choose that, or was it forced on her in some way (layoff?).

          That’s a pretty big change, but sometimes people do it for a reason. For instance, a divorced mother who went from controller at a small firm to one of several staff accountants at a large firm. She did it for greater financial stability.

          1. Autistic Chili Pepper*

            I actually do know; there aren’t a ton of jobs in my field in this area, which happens to be the place her family lives. She wanted to be closer to family, so decided she was willing (or so she said) to take an IC role if it meant she got to stay in our field.

        2. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

          Yeah, I can relate to that. People with strong personalities who don’t stick to social norms are really tough to deal with, especially when what they’re doing is undermining you and making you doubt yourself.

          It really helped me to read Alison’s advice and scripts – and listen to her archived podcasts! – and practice what I wanted to say, anticipate what I think she might say and clearly articulate that to myself, and then come up with responses to her anticipated responses. Especially the ones that I worry are “too dumb” for me to admit having, or that I was embarrassed about not knowing already.

        3. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

          This is another example where someone says they are fine stepping down in their career, but then find the reality of less power and autonomy to be frustrating.

          She is used to having the perks of your position and in her previous job might have been able to wfh and obtain a laptop before her reports.

      3. ursula*

        I suggest one step stronger than this, since you’re her manager:

        Her: “What’s the accommodation for?”
        You, with sky-high eyebrows: “That’s actually not information you should ask coworkers about, or expect to receive. It’s been approved through our accommodations approvals process. [next topic]”

    3. taco flavored kisses*

      I think you just need to be matter of fact and don’t give her an opening to ask. Inform her that you’ll be working remotely once a week and what that means for her logistically (how to reach you, etc.). If she does ask why, say it’s a medical accommodation and move on with the discussion. If she asks what the accommodation is for, tell her it’s not appropriate to ask questions about other people’s health and medical accommodations are confidential.

      1. leeapeea*

        Seconding this approach. I understand you’re trying to avoid your employees feelings around this because they’re awkward. In this scenario, you don’t really need to stick around for the feelings bit, which honestly is not your purview anyways (which it’s clear that you know). If, however, her feelings drive her to behavior that’s not appropriate for the workplace, you can address that as her manager.

    4. Your Social Work Friend*

      I mean, managers do get perks that others do not. It’s part of the package of being a manager that you get to do things that others don’t, and it’s perfectly acceptable to frame it that way. “Working from home one day a week is a perk of being on the management team.” That can be a whole conversation. You don’t have to justify it to her and, frankly, there will be inequity between management and non-management employees (pay, perks, nicer offices, parking space, laptop, whatever) which should be a general expectation of the work force. If she wants to push the issue, shut it down with something like “we’ve already discussed this. This is how I and my manager have structured my workweek” or “we’ve repeatedly discussed (if you have) that your position does not allow work from home and that is not going to be able to change.” If she continues, maybe that’s a sign for a broader conversation about if the role fits her anymore.

      1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        But it’s not actually a perk (unless medical accommodations are perks) and it’s not related to OP being in management.

    5. Snark*

      Don’t even tell her it’s an accomodation. I think a low information approach, combined with some clear professional boundaries, is going to be your best bet.

      “I will be working from home one day a week starting next Wednesday. That’s on the calendar, but don’t hesitate to call, email, or slack if you need anything.”

      “BUT WHYYYY”

      “That’s my new schedule.”

      1. Snark*

        If she really starts pushing, I think you can escalate to “I hear you, there’s some aspects of my schedule that aren’t clear to you. I’m not making the details public knowledge. This is what *boss* and I have worked out. Can you see your way clear to accepting that?”

        And regarding the laptop? “The rest of the team will be getting laptops in early December.”

        “But I want it noowwwwwwwwww”

        “I hear you. That’s when we’ll have the budget for a tech update.”

        “you have one this is so unfaiiiiiir”

        “Yes, I needed one earlier.”

    6. Irish Teacher*

      Honestly, you are her boss. That means she has to expect a certain amount of inequity. You and she are not equal. I’m not saying bosses should take advantage of their position and hold employees to standards they don’t meet, but there are advantages to being the boss and she ought to realise that.

      I know this is not because you are the boss, but still. Your roles are different and therefore have different requirements.

      I think it would help if, as a society, we stopped seeing WFH as some kind of perk and instead saw it as different roles being done differently. It’s no different from how builders have to work outdoors but the receptionist may stay in the office.We don’t see the receptionist as getting a perk by being able to remain inside. It’s just a different role. Some people prefer to be in the office; some prefer work from home. Both have advantages and disadvantages.

      I know that none of this means she is going to see it this way, as it sounds like she might not be a particularly reasonable person. But I think you should approach it that way with her, not treating it as if you’ve gotten some kind of benefit, but simply mentioning, “I will be working remotely on *these dates*. You can contact me by…” If she says anything about it not being fair that she can’t work from home, just explain why her role cannot be done remotely.

      You don’t have to convince her it’s fair. She doesn’t get a say on this

      1. Irish Teacher*

        I’d also be inclined to describe it as working remotely or “I’ll be out of the office on *insert dates*” because I think “working from home” gives some people a picture of “on the couch in my PJs,” not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it sounds more desireable and more like it’s for your benefit. They mean the same thing, but studies have shown people react differently to different phrasings and I think the word “home” makes people think, subconsciously of the fact you are staying home.

      2. I Have RBF*

        I think it would help if, as a society, we stopped seeing WFH as some kind of perk and instead saw it as different roles being done differently.

        This.

        If I still worked in laboratories or did field work I would not expect to WFH. But I don’t. I never physically touch the equipment I work on – it’s all remote. I specifically trained for this field when I could no longer do lab or field work, because it does not have a “must be present” component, and is all desk work.

        There is no difference between me working in an office versus working from home when it comes to my actual job, except my concentration suffers in an open plan office, and both the office and commuting crank my stress level up to 11.

        It’s not a perk or an unearned privilege. It is how I can work and maintain my health, in a job that absolutely does not require me to go into a certain building at certain times in order to do.

        I have a roommate who works as a gardener. She can’t WFH, and wouldn’t imagine trying, because the job is not suited for it. If she wanted a WFH job she would need to retrain for a field that enabled it.

    7. I should really pick a name*

      What kind of thing to you expect her to say?

      You can explain that you have an accommodation, but if that’s not enough for her, there’s no need to say more. You can shut that down. “That’s not an appropriate question.”

      As she’s one of your staff, she’s really not in a position to give you grief.
      Actually, how would you respond if she was giving one of your other staff grief for this? Often people find it easier to defend other people than themselves.

      1. M2RB*

        This comment about responding to her as if she were giving one of your other staff grief – this approach has helped me so much. If I would shut down a conversation if the speaker were addressing a coworker with this tone or for making that type of comments, then it is fine to have the same response when they are speaking that way to me. You deserve the same defense/standing-up-for that you would give someone else.

      2. Autistic Chili Pepper*

        This is a really helpful way to frame the situation, thank you! I wouldn’t let her talk like that to my other staff, and have shut her down when she started to in the past.

      3. Alisaurus*

        Adding on that this is just like her kicking up a fuss over any other work-related topic. I think the fact that this is a personal change for you is making you see this differently (understandably so), but it’s literally just a departmental process change.

        If you wouldn’t let her give you grief/badger you over, say, the printers being replaced or your team having to shift desks, then don’t let her do so here.

    8. English Rose*

      I actually think that potentially the larger problem is that she doesn’t say anything directly to you but spreads negativity about it to co-workers, so you’re wise to address is pre-emptively.
      You don’t mention how big your team is, but if it’s more than this one nosy person, why not mention this change at your next team meeting. Be very matter of fact and if she (or others) ask, then medical accommodation and shut it down immediately, as ursula and others in this thread suggest.
      Congratulations on the change, so happy for you. You got this!

      1. Anecdata*

        Yeah, and it’s legitimately likely to save you time & effort in the long run for your team to clearly understand if your company WFH policy is:
        (a) Only as part of ADA/medical accommodations process (reach out to HR if you need that)
        (b) by manager approval, open to WFH proposals if it makes sense for your role
        (c) technically not allowed but valued employees can insist on it

        If it’s really (a), you don’t want your team spending time prepping & being disappointed when they pitch you for (b). You can deal with inappropriate behavior from the difficult report when it happens, but assuming the bulk of your team is reasonable professionals,target your main communication to them

    9. RagingADHD*

      She needs to stay in her lane, and if she can’t do that, you need to be managing her out. There is stuff that should be treated gently, and there is stuff that needs to get shut down very firmly. This is the latter.

    10. LB33*

      I can understand not wanting to disclose medical information, but I don’t get the overall secrecy about working from home once a week. Personally I would just be up front and say yes, I have an accommodation that I can work remotely every Thursday.

      Maybe she needs an accommodation too and also is afraid to ask.

      1. RagingADHD*

        It isn’t anyone else’s business if someone else is getting medical accommodation. That isn’t “secrecy.” It’s having appropriate boundaries.

        1. LB33*

          It doesn’t have to be anyone’s business, but it’s also not prohibited either. I’m just saying what I might do in that circumstance

  10. New Mom*

    Our office recently moved into the downtown area of our city, and parking has been a concern since we started the moving process. Our office ended up securing a parking lot two blocks from the office that has no security and our staff is mostly women who have to carry expensive equipment in every day (we are not able to leave things at the office). People complained and now the solution is this:
    They added a gate with a code but the code pad cannot be reached from a car so each morning we have to get out of our car, leaving our car in the street to enter the code, then get back in our car and drive in. We have to do the same when we leave.
    Doesn’t this seem really dangerous? The area is not great and the particular street where we would need to leave our car to enter doesn’t have a lot of foot traffic. If someone was casing the area they would know that every morning about 10+ cars will be entering the lot at a specific time with a solo female driver who has to leave her car for a few seconds.
    Can anyone think of a low-cost solution to this that we could recommend to the very out of touch higher ups?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Dumb idea but why not just put a poking stick in your car, roll down the window and use the stick to hit the buttons?

      1. DisneyChannelThis*

        Alternatively, if 10 of you arrive around the same time, take turns being the gate minder and have one person stay by the box and hit the code for each member of your group so the rest can just drive in.

        1. New Mom*

          People come in anytime between 8:30-10:30 so we couldn’t do this in the mornings, but we definitely will do it as much as possible at the end of the day. Yesterday no one was able to leave at the same time as me, but I did try to coordinate.

      2. New Mom*

        I kind of love this but the key pad is really small so I couldn’t imagine being able to be precise from a few feet away, but I do have a funny visual of me with a pointer stick in the morning!

    2. Rage*

      Somewhat dangerous, but also really pointless. Why didn’t they put the keypad in reach of a vehicle window…like, you know, every other gated place?

    3. Scientist*

      As a small-medium sized female in my early thirties who has lived and spent much time in the downtown area of a major US city for several years, this doesn’t feel at all like something I would worry about. It’s hard to imagine someone “casing” the area, somehow discerning that there’s expensive equipment in the cars (presumably out of sight), and deciding to jump someone in their 10-second window, hoping another car doesn’t arrive while this is happening. Yes, crime is higher in downtown areas than suburbs, but in most places (and granted, I don’t know where you are specifically) it’s not rampant, and most crime is associated with drugs, gang activity, etc. I do agree that having a locked, secure place for the cars to sit during the day while unattended is a great idea.

      Things that may help ease of mind though – you could have them put an obvious camera pointing at the area where you have to get out and enter the code. And when folks are out of their cars, they shouldn’t be carrying anything (like a large bag or purse) that *might* make them a possible target for someone.

      1. sagc*

        Yeah, this sounds like a very normal parking arrangement to me. Is it possible that your employer, New Mom, is significantly less worried about a heist than you are? That’s really the only “danger” I can see here, apart from generally “being downtown”.

        1. New Mom*

          The employer is definitely not worried about it. I think the people who made the decision about the gate are not people who will be using the parking lot. But many of the staff who park and have to walk alone are. We are in a very high crime area, the city is in the news often for violent crime.

      2. Joielle*

        Same here, and I agree that this seems normal. The only annoying thing is having to get out of your car to enter the code, but just because it’s inefficient, not particularly dangerous. A security camera and good lighting in the parking area would probably help, but I personally wouldn’t spend a lot of political capital on the whole situation.

    4. cabbagepants*

      What you are describing doesn’t sound dangerous. It sounds like a very normal situation. Unless there are details you haven’t shared here — high rates of muggings or carjackings, or even street harassment — then this is just normal “existing in society.”

      If there are the things you describe then you should absolutely share that information with management!!

      For the equipment, the simple thing would be to arrange to leave it in the office overnight, and for your office to insure the equipment so if someone steal it, the employees are not stuck paying for it.

    5. New Mom*

      Context: I should have mentioned, but I can’t edit my OP: We work in a high crime, high violent crime city that is regularly on the news for violent crime. I just checked and a local study found there are 1,500 violent crimes per 100,000 residents. I mentioned that “downtown” part because of parking, parking tends to be much more expensive and harder to find in downtown areas and that was the initial concern of the staff but now the concern is safety.

      1. sagc*

        Has anyone at your place of work ever been subject to a violent crime while coming to or from the parking lot? If not, I think you may well be letting the news influence how you’re reacting to this situation.

        1. Sparkle Llama*

          I think it is totally fair to be concerned about safety even if an incident hasn’t happened in this parking lot before.

          That being said, OP it may be helpful for you to do some more digging into the types of crime that occur. Is it domestic disputes/assaults and violence between rival gangs? While it isn’t pleasant to be around that, it doesn’t really increase the risk to you much (yes stray bullets could be an issue if it is a rough boundary between gang territories).

          My guess, based on what I have seen for the communities I live and work in, is that the vast majority of violent crime is not going to put you at increased risk and it may help you feel safer to understand what that crime is. The media does a great job of sensationalism sometimes which can really skew your perceptions. If it does anct make you less safe and you can point to that car jackings are common in this area, that might help spur more improvements.

        2. Lucy P*

          A little bit of vigilance goes a long way. If New Mom works in a high crime area (which she has now said several times that she does), she has every right to be concerned.

          Sometime back the owners of the building that I work in installed a gate on the front of the parking lot. Unfortunately it was one that required me to get out of my car and physically move the 8 ft gate out of the way so that I could park. As a petite woman who usually got to the office long before everyone else, I was definitely wary of having to do this every morning. Had I seen something or someone in the area that looked suspicious (like a car, that I didn’t recognize, idling in the street), I would have definitely driven around the neighborhood and few times and made sure they were gone before going to open that gate. Thankfully for me, the gate didn’t stay long.

      2. working mom*

        Great context… those numbers are quite high (not that I doubted you, but I actually looked this up to see just what cities are that high). I think based on the crime stats, your concerns and the fact that management is not concerned you need to focus on how you want to tackle this and the capital you want to use. You mention the deciders do not use the gate – is it because the higher ups have town cars drop them off and/or onsite parking; or that they do not drive to work. If the deciders are biking/waking/taking public transit in your city to work, you will have substantially less ground to stand on. As they clearly see the city as “safe enough”. But if they basically get to ignore the safety of the location because a driver drops them off and picks them up then maybe you can argue your case with stats.

        If fighting for a better solution ends up dead on arrival – then unfortunately the plan is to work out a solution that lets you and your coworkers feel safe. I work in NYC which is much safer than your city, so please bare with me if I am tone deaf. But certain neighborhood are more dangerous at certain times. Would shifting hours help? Would coordinating a buddy system with your coworkers work out? Is the downtown actually the most dangerous part of your city or actually the “safest”? (This is my experience as woman who has exclusively walked/public transited to work) Are there sides of the street you walk that have more people/visibility that would make you feel more secure? Hopefully you can work out a solution with you job, but if not I hope you can at least get enough flexibility to find a bandaid.

        1. New Mom*

          Thank you for your comment. I’ve lived in or near major cities for the majority of my life with a hiatus in a small, college town for college. I’ve lived in more and less dangerous cities, and there is such a difference between neighborhoods and even blocks.

          I was actually a bit surprised by the comments challenging my feelings of safety but I know how I feel and why. I think there are definitely similarities of our city and New York where block to block can be big. In this particular downtown there are carjackings, robberies, and recently a stint of people people robbed at ATMs throughout the city (people watching as someone went to take out money and then ambushing them).

          The actual street of our office is very nice, which is why I think it was selected. My guess is the big boss is dropped off at the front door every day, but I can’t say for sure. The block that needs to be crossed to leave the parking lot to get to the nice street does not feel safe, and even though I’ve only done the walk about ten times, two of those times I was alone on that street with no where to go with a man that made me uncomfortable (this is coming from someone who has lived in cities since birth).

          But based on the comment responses, I’m now wondering if the leadership may have a similar reaction that the danger is more in our head, and something we need to get over. At the old office (same city about a 5 minute drive away) we had countless car break-ins, someone’s license plate was stolen and one violent incident that involved someone attacking a person who worked in the business next to ours. I just wish I could work remotely, it’s just another cognitive load to carry, you know?

          1. MissBliss*

            I think people are probably challenging your feelings of safety because of their own experiences with cities and their own experiences with biased, and often racist, perceptions of cities. This is not me calling you racist – I’m sure you’re judging your safety correctly! I just wanted to share because as a fellow city dweller in a city with nearly 2,000 violent crimes per 100,000 residents, I hear a lot of “but it’s so unsafe!” coming from people who just… don’t like my Black neighbors. So when I hear other people talking about safety in cities, my gut reflex is that they’re talking about my city, and my neighbors, in an untoward way.

            (I generally don’t worry about crime in my city, but car related crimes are the one exception. We have a lot of carjacking so if I had the same parking situation that you’ve described, I think I would be a bit nervous, too.)

              1. Yoli*

                Is there a front desk/reception that could give access for remote entry if you called from your car? I also work in a big city with a rise in carjackings + ATM muggings, and one of the sites I go to has the same gate setup. I personally don’t ever feel unsafe hopping out and punching in the code, but anyone who doesn’t have it can call the front desk from their car and have them open it remotely.

            1. ArtsNerd*

              MissBliss is saying everything I’m thinking. I’m on a quiet block but just two streets away from a hotbed of gun violence. I’m worried for my neighbors who have to navigate that, but am not concerned about it affecting me directly. But there’s also been a major rise in auto thefts — and carjacking specifically — in my city recently. I would be on edge every time I got in and out of my car for the gate code, and super annoyed about it because I would need to turn off the engine, lock the doors, and take the keys with me instead of just leaning out a window.

          2. working mom*

            Understandable and I think the closest situation I was in was a looong time ago when I briefly worked in Trenton… where 1 block would make substantial difference. If there is a history of violence again employees property – I think there is some value in bringing it up. You could be pleasantly surprised and get something (a camera, an ability to shift hours, permission to leave equipment at work). If it goes nowhere, I would lean on my colleagues to see if you all can come together to create a solution/bandaid. Unfortunately this is a reality for a lot of work issues, creating work-arounds, hopeful your management lists and you get to be the exception to the rule.

      3. Samwise*

        But who are actually the victims of that crime? What kinds of crimes?

        If it’s carjackings downtown, legit worry

        If it’s armed robbery of retail outlets, not something to worry about re parking/walking

        If it’s gang-related shootings — do those happen downtown? If not, not a worry re parking/walking

        I;m not trying to discredit your feeling of unease — I get it! Living in a big city that’s known for violent crime (I lived in Chicago for many years) can create a sense of unease, which is good if it means you are alert. But it doesn’t mean you’re actually at risk of being a victim of violent crime all the time. I lived in Hyde Park when I lived in Chicago, so much more likely to have my car broken into (yep) or stolen (my partner’s), pickpocketing or bag grab when in crowds, that sort of thing, than violent crime on my person. Mugging: not a risk during the day, not too common at night. Shooting, violent physical attack: unlikely. Rape, murder: much more likely to be perpetrated by a known person than a stranger out on the street. I mean, I’ve been walking around the US as a medium sized woman all my life, so I’m always on alert. I’ve had decades of putting up with street harassment. But usually not in fear of violent attack.

        That’s a privilege, I know, because of my class and race, where I live, where I work.

        BTW, if someone does come up to steal the equipment, give it to them immediately and let them run away.

    6. ina*

      They are too scared of letting you leave things at work but not worried about the potential theft of a car lot early in the morning or in the winter afternoons (dark)?

      One solution to make any potential theft less costly is the modify this policy of letting you leave things at the office. Why should company equipment not be allowed to be left at the company, assuming it’s locked and secured? I can’t even begin to tell what they were thinking by making you get out of your car to open the gate…it was safer without the gate.

    7. Mermaid of the Lunacy*

      I carry dog repellent spray and a personal alarm with me. Took a couple of self-defense courses. Nothing is a guarantee of course, but it’s a little added security. Not sure what the policy is on concealed carry where you are.

    8. Busy Middle Manager*

      This hurts my head. Adding this obstacle doesn’t prevent people from robbing you, it just prevents them from being very lazy and driving in behind you to do it. There was a carjacking last year on my “safe” street and someone held up the garage 1/3 a mile down the road last year. He went into the security booth and grabbed a bunch of keys and eventually got one to work and stole a car. Mentioning this because some comments are already trying to minimize the risk of crime. Yes it’s perhaps low when you look at broad statistics, but sometimes you want the risk to be zero. People in my area are also in denial about it.

      do you want there to be a keypad type thing? Didn’t every person who parks there need to get access? If yes, maybe they should all switch to a keyfob style card?

      Or keep complaining and eventually move offices? Sounds like the location is simply an issue in general.

      Or ask them to buy a new keypad panel? Coincidentally, many moons ago, I worked for a manufacturer of keypad entry systems, they come in many styles. Don’t let them act like there was only one choice of panel

    9. Rex Libris*

      I don’t see any realistic solution except moving the code pad so that it’s reachable from the car, or installing obvious security cameras if possible. Maybe if you bring up the safety concerns as a group, the employer response will give you an idea how far they’re willing to go to address it.

    10. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Could the keypad be repaced by one with remote control, so you can just submit the code inside your car?

    11. SnappinTerrapin*

      Your concerns are legitimate, despite the fear of some readers that they might be a proxy for bigotry.

      Most crime between strangers occurs when someone who doesn’t respect other people sees an opportunity to take something they want. You have identified a point of vulnerability that provides such an opportunity to anyone willing to take advantage of it.

      In this scenario, the most tempting material object available is your car. Your wallet and other personal items are the next level of temptation, and your employer’s electronics would come after that. Frankly, a robber probably wouldn’t notice that until after the robbery was over. It would be naive, of course, to ignore the possibility that the motive for crime would be the opportunity for the offender to impose his will on you and gratify his desire to exercise power over another person. That might not be the likeliest scenario, but neither is it far-fetched.

      Like some of the readers, your employers are likely to ignore the risk until the number of employee victims reaches some critical mass. A single incident, no matter how serious, is likely to be dismissed as “random’ and unpredictable. Similarly, they are also likely to engage in victim blaming. It’s easy to say that you wouldn’t have been hurt if you hadn’t resisted. Or, in the alternative, it’s easy to say you didn’t do enough to protect yourself.

      I really appreciate the fact that some readers are affirming the reasonableness of your concerns and are encouraging you to push for your employer to be more proactive about employee safety, but I’m concerned that a couple of readers have sounded extremely dismissive of your concerns and have implied that you might be the problem here. You aren’t. You haven’t shown any bigotry underlying your concerns. You’re being a realist. Not everyone is evil, but there are a few people in every population who are willing to hurt others to get what they want. We have to be alert to those risks.

      And, this isn’t fair, but the risks are greater for women than they are for men.

      Keep up your situational awareness. The stakes are too high for you to convince yourself that it’s somehow unfair to a stranger if you object to him getting close enough to hurt you. And keep encouraging your employer to be responsible about managing risks to employees.

    12. Doc McCracken*

      Your fears and instincts are valid. There is a reason you feel vulnerable, you are in this situation. In the interim, I’d carry pepper spray or a stun gun or anything else you can legally carry to easily protect yourself. I don’t have much advice on getting the uppers to listen except maybe they would be open to having a security person do a safety audit of the situation. My experience is if the higher ups are male, these concerns are not on their radar unless they have a security or tactical background (For example, military or police).

  11. Ole Pammy's Getting What She Wants*

    I work at a small (10 person company) with no IT or tech support; we are expected to do it on our own. I have spent maybe 10 hours this week trying to fix a program i needed to do most of my workload for the week. My boss does NOT like us counting admin time in our forty hours (she is great otherwise! and so is the company! the math just doesnt add up though!) and i anticipate maybe a word or two when she looks at my time sheet and sees 1/4 of my week was spent on “admin” that i had to do to complete to do my job. I wasnt able to progress as far as I wanted this week on a task because of this, but I dont feel it’s fair to me to work overtime to make it up because my company chooses not to have tech support.

    Can other please weigh in – am I out of line? – and maybe give me some verbiage to use if my boss says anything? i have let her know I was having issues and that it was holding up my work, and it’s worth mentioning this work was not for one of my own projects; I was stepping in to help another team, so I feel less responsibility for the project than I normally would.

    1. One of the feds*

      If they don’t want you to log admin, could you just log that time under whatever project you needed that program for?

      1. Ole Pammy's Getting What She Wants*

        I could! i usually do if it’s a smaller IT task, like 1-2 hours, but i feel a little guilty to the client to charge them for 10+ hrs when progress wasnt actually being made. I honestly dont know if this client is hourly or flat fee though.

        1. Parenthesis Guy*

          So, your boss doesn’t want you billing your hours to admin because that means you don’t get paid, but they need to pay you. I was afraid that was the case. Your boss probably doesn’t care so much, but I bet your CEO does and says something to your boss.

          Honestly, if your boss is great otherwise, I’d tell her the situation and see what she suggests.

          1. Ole Pammy's Getting What She Wants*

            boss is the owner, unfort. I am a mid-level designer at a small creative firm and our structure is pretty lateral, so i go directly to her for any general/admin questions. appreciate your insight!

    2. ina*

      What? They basically want free work out of you if you can’t log admin time. It’s needed for you to do non-admin work and it’s cheaper than hiring an IT person — however, you could point out that you can focus on your actual work better if you had that technical support.

      1. Ole Pammy's Getting What She Wants*

        tell me about it ::eyeroll:: this company is pretty much a dream otherwise, but every monday we sit down and talk through staffing for each employee with 0 admin hours allotted and 40 billable project hours. it doesnt make sense. I never follow that outline anyway, just put my head down and get my work done however long or short it takes, but it’s always been like this and when we push for clarity our normally chill boss panicks and sets overly conservative rules and guidelines that directly contradict what we have been told in the past on an abstract level. ive learned not to poke the bear.

    3. ThursdaysGeek*

      I’m in IT, and our bosses expect about 30 hours a week of project time, and the other 10 is admin: reading emails, meetings that are not project specific, and yes, fixing or reinstalling software when that happens. Some weeks are higher than 30 hours, some lower. And all that is normal. All that to say, you’re not out of line at all. As for verbiage…

      Hey boss, you’ll see I had a lot of overhead time this week. I was trying to get my word processor to work again, and I really don’t want to charge the customer for 10 hours of work they didn’t get. Usually they get about 5 chapters for 10 hours, and the time I spent fighting my computer didn’t go towards their product. I know you don’t like charging like that, but this week it couldn’t be avoided.

      In other words, explain what happened, and of course it had to be admin this time. That’s the system they have set up, and those are the consequences. If they ask you to work overtime, it’s a simple “sorry, I’m not able to do that this week, I don’t have the extra time.” (And no explanation, because as someone who is way too busy in my personal time too, vegging on the couch is absolutely important too.)

      1. Ole Pammy's Getting What She Wants*

        appreciate your insight! will work on building up my cajones to say I dont have availability to work overtime…vegging IS important :)

    4. Goddess47*

      Doesn’t help now, but the next time something looks like it will take longer than ‘a simple fix’ document it with your boss.

      “It looks like fixing X is going to take more than 4 hours. How do you want me to do this?” Give options if you have them, one of which is calling tech support.

      And, longer term, if you have the spoons, document how much time you’re ‘losing’ to doing tech support and point out that you spent Y hours doing tech support over the quarter and for the price of Z, you could have more billable hours. That’s relatively straightforward. But then if there’s still resistance, point out that overtime costs M, which then costs the business even more money.

      Good luck!

    5. WellRed*

      As someone completely unqualified to do IT work I don’t think you’re being unreasonable at all. It’s not even an option for me to attempt it.

    6. RagingADHD*

      If you don’t log / flag the amount of time this stupid no-IT-support policy is costing the company, then they won’t be able to see what a waste of resources it is. If people are losing 1/4 of their time to nonsense that an actual professional could deal with in a fraction of the time for a fraction of the cost, that’s such a false economy.

      Get it on record, and specify what it is for.

  12. my cat is prettier than me*

    I posted a few weeks ago about being told that no one at my company would be getting raises this year. Yesterday I overheard a manager telling another employee he would be getting a raise of 15%. I don’t know what happened, but I’m a bit upset and feel like I was lied to.

    1. Ole Pammy's Getting What She Wants*

      what is your relationship with your manager? do you feel comfortable enough to mention it to them? if only to make it clear that you overheard something you shouldnt have, so that manager needs to be more discreet in the future! I would also ask them what you need to work on to be considered for a raise – not that your performance necessarily needs improvement, but in these situations I have always found it helpful to phrase it as “what am i not doing well enough” rather than coming across as whiny or tatte-tale-y.

      1. my cat is prettier than me*

        Her last day was 9/5, so there’s no point in telling her now. We had a great relationship. I suppose I could talk to my interim manager.

        1. Marie H*

          Honestly, I would talk with her anyways if you had a great relationship. And if she’s no longer with the company she may be more forthcoming.

    2. Scarlet Ribbons in her Hair*

      You feel like you were lied to because you were lied to. I’ve heard that even when employees are told that no one will be getting a raise, there’s always someone who will be getting a raise.

      I once left a company because we were told that raises would be determined by a committee, but unfortunately, the committee was never able to meet, because someone on the committee was always either out sick, on vacation, or on a business trip. About 20% of the company left, saying that it was because they were tired of waiting for the committee to meet. (I left in July, and the rest of the 20% had left before me. As of the following March, the committee still had not met.) A few months after I left, a former co-worker confided in me that even though we had been told to wait for the committee to meet, he was given a raise. At the time, I didn’t believe him, but now I’m not so sure.

    3. Bexx*

      Is there any chance that the other employee is getting a promotion or an equity adjustment or something like that?

  13. Highlighters and Post Its*

    What are you supposed to say when you are looking for a new job after just starting a job because your new boss is a nightmare?

    I’m 3 months into a new job. The company is a hot mess: no fiscal plan for 2023 was done, none of the lines of business have goals broken out, and the automated reporting system has been broken for over a year with no urgency to fix it. But what makes it unbearable is my boss. He’s evasive when problems arise (usually caused by him not doing his job), leaving others to deal with the consequences while deflecting blame onto them; he’s very two-faced. I can’t do the job I was hired for because (1) my boss pulls me in different directions (2) I can’t do my basic job due to the lack of financial goals and reporting and there is no plan to fix this. I’ve watched my boss double-cross someone and he’s shifted blame towards me and left me high and dry twice, all within 3 months!

    It would be more workable if it was just the company disorganization but that and having to deal with my boss everyday – I can’t do this long term.

    I’m not looking forward to job hunting again. I don’t even know what to say about why I’m looking for a new job so fast. The one thing I could say is that it’s different from what was presented during the interview, which is true because he has us “collaborating” on his work where he asks me what he should do and it’s hard for me to do my job. I have about 12 years experience and this is the length of my jobs: (most recent):3 years, 2 years, 6 months, 2 years, 1.5 years, 1 year, 2 years. I’ve heard the comment from several years ago that it looks like I’m a job hopper. The 6 month job I left because the job was different than what was presented during the interview. The fact that it’s happened twice doesn’t reflect well on me.

    I know this is all over the place, I’m under the weather rn

      1. Rex Libris*

        You might add “The position also differed considerably from what I anticipated given the information presented in the job description and interview.”

        They probably didn’t describe it using the words “dumpster fire” so it’s definitely true.

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Gosh I’m glad you’re getting out. He sounds awful.

      I would say again (confidently, and perhaps also with a slight tone of professional commiseration) that you were not at all doing the job you were hired for, which seems to be a pattern in the last two jobs, haha, and so you’re excited about this job.

      Also, if you start interviewing and they all tell you no, what have you lost? Get out of there.

      1. Highlighters and Post Its*

        I was at my last job for 3 years, the one before that for 2 years. The 6-month job was about 5 years ago, and it was a completely different job type (think llama groomer to dog groomer).

    2. FashionablyEvil*

      Focus on the facts and use what’s already in your letter: “There’s no fiscal plan and the financial reporting systems are broken with no timeline for repair. Since I would work with those systems daily, it’s just not a workable environment.”

    3. ecnaseener*

      The good news is you don’t even need to mention the nightmare boss – the lack of a fiscal plan or clear business plan is a very understandable reason. So is the fact that the job isn’t what you were told it would be.

    4. MissMeghan*

      To me, if 2-3 years is not a norm in your profession, I think you may need to provide something specific and notable as an example for why the job is not a good fit. Say it professionally, of course, but a vague answer of not a good fit, or not consistent with job description combined with a lot of short tenures could give the impression that you’re inflexible.

      Also, I’d make sure you have a good list of questions to ask during the interview to make sure future employers are a good fit. Are there things with hindsight from these two companies that you think could have been caught and flagged during the interview stage that you can take with you into your new job hunt to avoid getting stuck with a similar situation?

    5. ferrina*

      Focus on what you do want from a job. “I’m looking for a place where I can hit the ground running and work towards company goals. My current organization has no set KPIs- either organizationally or individually- and often shift priorities without shifting resources. I work best when I have either organizational or individual goals to work toward- I love being able to know where to put my energy.”

      Something like this that highlights “I thrive in a normal place”. Highlight your strengths and what kind of place you thrive in (even if that place is “not incredibly dysfunctional”)

  14. Watry*

    Short version of the backstory: Seven months with no job duties or training. I’m looking for a new job, but what do I put on my resume? Seven months feels like too much to leave it off and it’s almost certain to come up in a reference check, since CurrentJob is ultimately for the same employer as LastJob.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Did you volunteer during your 7months off? Did you care for a family member? Did you take any courses or trainings? Be prepared to explain the gap, maybe address in cover letters.

      1. MsSolo (UK)*

        I think Watry is saying that they’re in work, but have been doing basically nothing.

        Watry – if you’ve done any online courses, you could talk about your commitment to professional development (and if you haven’t done any, start now!). Anything where you’ve spent your thumb-twiddling time helping others out with projects can be a willingness to collaborate and learning processes outside of your role.

        Unless you’ve spent 7 months browsing facebook on your phone because they haven’t even given you a log in yet, you must have been doing something during your working hours, even if it’s not work related to the role you were hired for. As Snark says, maybe reference the role becoming redundant, or say the work you expected to take on wasn’t available (I’m sort of assuming a project based role where the project hasn’t gotten off the ground?) and you’re looking for something with more potential for growth.

        1. Watry*

          You are correct, I am employed but have been given literally nothing to do despite heavy pushing from me. I’ve tried courses, but they’re all either about customer service, which I refuse to go back to, or technical trainings for programs I can’t access! Can’t learn about Excel 365 or whatever when your employer is running Office 2009, y’know? There’s one task I’ve been doing for another department, but I can’t help any further or anyone else because either nobody has the time to train me, or because I’m not a Llama Groomer and you have to be to do the work.

          I was hired into a newly created position to centralize some things and take others off of people who no longer have the time to do them. I’ve been at least trying to get the main ones, but there’s some politics going on way above my head. So unfortunately yes, I have spent seven months metaphorically twiddling my thumbs.

          (I took out a bunch of venting, but apologies if this still sounds sharp. It’s not meant to.)

        1. Ole Pammy's Getting What She Wants*

          is there ANYTHING you accomplished that can be (very slightly) dressed up as a bullet point?

        2. Snark*

          I would dress up literally anything you did as much as possible, but for a seven-month job, there’s just not going to be much. I think that’s okay. You could even put “Resigned position due to redundancy.” If someone asks you about it in an interview, I think you can be pretty candid – because the position was essentially redundant, there weren’t many opportunities for you to contribute.

        3. LCH*

          Could you write up what you were hired to do (whatever is in the job description). Then in interviews explain how it actually worked out which is why you are job searching.

  15. DisneyChannelThis*

    Found out my raise is 3.1%. Only way to get higher would be to quit. I’m doing ok at this salary, academia adjacent where I am passionate at this work but quitting for industry would give me easily 20k more a year. Rumor has it hours are worse in industry tho….

    1. Not my real name*

      Depends on the field. Almost everyone in my field has better work/life balance in industry than academia.

    2. Velomont*

      Hours will probably be better or worse depending on the industry, the company, and even the specific project(s) you’re involved with. I work in an extremely successful multinational and, over the last 10 years, I’ve had some two or three week periods during which I’ve had 50 or 60 hour work weeks, and others in which I’ve had 30 hours crammed into a 40 hr week. It’s never been unmanageable over the long term however and it’s been a fantastically supportive company with fascinating work. All that to say that it depends.

      I would say to do your research when/if job hunting.

    3. Spice*

      Every field is different. In my field, industry salaries are slightly higher than academia. However, in academia, there are set schedules for salary increases every year or two. In private industry, especially smaller companies, raises are not guaranteed, not even cost of living adjustments.

      That said, 20k is a big difference.

  16. Off to new adventures*

    Part vent, part thanks.
    So my worksite is being closed. But we got donuts! 500+ remote workers laid off on Teams call. Anyone who doesn’t want to move to one of 4 locations with lucrative tax breaks will be out. Our CEO recently told employees we were spoiled by Covid. Knew it was coming, but with a company that has laid off thousands in past 4 years, you would think they would have the process figured out. No timeline, no severance info, nada.

    Now for the kudos- resume is tight, cover letter is personalized and speaks to accomplishments, and I’m sitting okay- THANK YOU ALLISON!!! And everyone who has put their tips out here.
    I’ve recommended this site to others, and the information is invaluable.

    1. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

      “spoiled by COVID” dang. that all sucks, i’m so sorry.

      i too have also rec’d this site to other people, so thank you, alison!

  17. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

    hello! okay so i def do not mean to keep posting about the job i am in, but it has not turned out like i planned. i am flopping back and forth between sticking out my PIP and then moving to another team, or just trying to find something else and leaving altogether. my hesitation is my references, because this job has been my work for the last year. i don’t talk to former managers, or if i do, it’s been several years since we worked together. (i have my first manager from the job i was in when i was hired, and i could maybe use a coworker who isn’t on my team…..)

    i also don’t know how to address this job in my cover letter. i thought i had good attention to detail, and i do feel a lot more confident now that i have a process down (thanks to my new trainer!). but i also can’t ignore the last several months and the errors i made….

    i can and do take responsibility for how things are playing out, but there’s also been inadequate training, a lot of miscommunication from management about expectations, and then getting penalized for not meeting expectations i don’t know about. because of this, i don’t really trust my leadership team, which is why i am leaning towards looking for something new.

    it also really really sucks to be doing badly in a job i was moved to, a job i didn’t ask for or even want (i loved my old team).

    anyway, thanks, everyone, for your advice on this….process…. so far, and for reading. :)

    1. ferrina*

      Thanks for the update! I remember your previous posts, and it sounds like such a tough situation. It sounds like you’ve been set up to fail. I think you should spend a little time looking- even if it’s just 3-5 hours a week and sending out a couple applications. That’s how I had to do my last job search- 5 hours/wk was the most time I had for it.

      You can absolutely reach out to old contacts to be references. Especially if you aren’t looking to do something similar to this current job, you can select references who can speak to the work you did in the Old Job where you thrived. I would do a combination of more recent coworkers and an old manager. It’s normal for a managerial reference to be a year+ older, since you likely wouldn’t ask your current manager to be a reference.

      1. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        ugh yeah, i’m wondering now if i really was set up to fail. the “pros” outweighed the “cons” for awhile – i FINALLY was able to move out on my own, i have retirement benefits, etc. but now….. things are a lot worse than they were. i’m also a “grin and bear it” type of person, but again, now….

        you’re right though that i should spend even a couple hours a week looking, even if it’s only an application or two. i don’t see things getting better, and even once i pass my PIP (but before i could move to another team) i feel like i’ll be on pins and needles the whole time. just like i am now. which isn’t a great feeling.

        even just the nature of the PIP itself, i had a decent review the day before…! like??? it wasn’t a perfect review and i knew i had things to work on, but there was no indication that the next day i’d be placed on one. even in hindsight, with the meetings i’ve had with leadership (they were mostly asking what i needed, and i didn’t know what i needed because i didn’t know the process played a huge part in why i was making mistakes) this PIP still comes as a shock. i knew things weren’t great but i didn’t know they were This Bad.

        1. ferrina*

          Please get out of there. This place does not sound good. I don’t know if it’s toxic or just a mismatch, but it’s clearly unhealthy for you. You deserve better.

          1. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

            well i just got dinged for something i’m off qc for, but it’s still gonna count against me (i misunderstood some notes and thought i was right in my interpretation but i was not, in fact, right).

            so yeah, i think it’s more than just a mismatch at this point, i know i am not the only one looking to get out (people who aren’t even on my team).

            if it were just that the job was a little boring but otherwise fine, i would deal. but it’s definitely much more than that, and i will be looking for other jobs. i have some time off next week, so i’ll spend some time job searching.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      I want to address this part a little bit: i thought i had good attention to detail

      “Attention to detail” can vary widely depending on the job and the tasks. It could be that someone’s attention to detail is good when they work on one project at a time, and that project requires tracking ~20 details. That same person’s attention to detail could fall apart when they’re working on 3 projects simultaneously that all require tracking about ~20 details each. Or a person may be good at “attention to detail” when the details are tracking numbers in a spreadsheet, but not good at “attention to detail” when the details are finding inventory in a warehouse, or when details are keeping track of which people support project X, which people oppose it, who can be swayed from one side to the other, and the best way to approach them to convince them to support/oppose the project.

      From what I remember of your posts, a fairly big difference in your attention to detail is from not being properly trained at first. Are there other differences between the work you’re doing at this job, and the work you’ve done at previous jobs where you had good attention to detail? It might help to reflect on that a little bit, because that could offer some insights on which types of jobs to apply to in the future.

      1. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        thank you so much for this comment! i needed it, knowing there are different aspects and just because i’m not great at it in this job, doesn’t mean i’m not still good.

        when i worked in a library (a field i don’t want to go back to), part of my duties at one job was to catalog our audiovisual materials – make sure they were in the system and had the appropriate stickers and information on them. the stickers didn’t have to be placed on there perfectly, but they had to look neat and like i put some care into placing them (which i did).

        this job, things have to be perfect. if not, they’ll get rejected and that’ll cost us money and possibly damage our reputation with our clients. we qc really hard in this position.

        but i am not a perfectionist at all.

    3. Rex Libris*

      You can absolutely ignore the errors and negatives in your current job in your cover letter and resume. Cover letters and resumes are self-marketing tools, not confessionals. As long as you’re honest about your qualifications, accomplishments and experience, that’s all that’s required.

      You can ask older managers for references. You don’t have to have kept in touch, they just need to be able to speak to the quality of your work while you were with them. Besides, most of us have been in a place where we’re hustling for references because we’re in a toxic job and therefore the current reference candidates are limited.

      1. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        thank you! should i frame it more as “this job wasn’t what i was hired for and i’m hoping to get back to roles where i’d do x”? i have a better idea of how to handle it in interviews, saying something like that, but for cover letters and initial applications, i don’t know what to say.

        we love toxic jobs……

        1. ferrina*

          In your cover letter, say
          “I was delighted to see your opening for a Llama Therapist*. I’ve got 10 years of experience as a llama therapist, and after working as a Lynx Mancurist for the last year, I am looking for a position that allows me to return to llama therapy. I love llama therapy because…. and let you tell me about some of the amazing things I’ve done as a llama therapist….”

          *Or whatever the title is. I assume the llama grooming market is saturated at this point.

          1. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

            thank you!! (llama therapist sounds so cool.) but even if i don’t have 10 years of experience doing the job i was originally hired for, i could find some way to tie in the experience i DO have in past jobs into the position they’re looking for. :)

          2. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

            not sure if my previous reply went through, but sorry if this is a repeat!

            even if i don’t have 10 years of experience as the role i was hired for, i could draw from the experience of previous jobs that i did that would fir what they’re looking for. like as a librarian, part of my job was to catalog our audiovisual materials, which involved the process of x and y.

            also llama therapist sounds like such a cool job!

  18. TheBeagleWantsCheese*

    I had an interview a few weeks ago at an organization I had interviewed with a couple years ago. The interview panel lead from a few weeks ago was on the interview panel 2 years ago. This person was obviously negative toward my candidacy last time and remarked first thing in this recent one about me applying “again”. The positions, while slightly related, are different and I am a different candidate than i was 2 years ago. My opinion is this person should have recused themself from being on my panel this time. I applied in good faith and wonder if my candidacy was not taken seriously at all, since this person headed my interview panel. I know that there were multiple panels with other participants. This person did not need to be on my panel. Is this a let-it-go situation or should I say something to HR? It’s possible HR was unaware of that history. I don’t want to make waves, so curious what others think about this situation.

    1. sagc*

      You say yourself that it’s a related job – why wouldn’t any given person be on the panel twice? I’m not sure why you think they should recuse themselves, either.

    2. ina*

      It sounds like this job was one that gave you nerves because “why are applying again” is a really simple question to answer. You’ve gained XYZ skills, you’ve clarified the kind of company and mission you’d like to apply them to, you’re a different candidate. I don’t think you need to go to HR – they might listen calmly, but it’s a mark against you with the panelist (and maybe even the broader panel). Also if you were a different candidate, then does that mean you gained more alignment with this correlated role vs last time?

      Chances are this person didn’t really remember you — I think companies keep a record of people who apply for a certain amount of time, so they all likely saw this and he just noticed “oh, I was on the panel for that job.” After all, they interviewed you, didn’t you? I am hoping you didn’t sabotage yourself subconsciously thinking you didn’t have a chance because this person was there. They could have auto-rejected your application this time but they didn’t.

      Lastly, even if you got him off the pane somehow, he still works there.

    3. Sherm*

      I’m sorry that you interviewed only to seem to not have been given a chance :( but it is something to let go. Unless there was a specific conflict of interest, such as the person being your ex-spouse, it would not be a situation to recuse. If it’s any consolation, would you even want the job? This person wouldn’t likely be any friendlier if you worked there.

    4. zanshin*

      There is nothing in the hiring process that says interviewers have to remain impartial; their job IS to be judging applicants based on both hiring criteria and how applicants present. They don’t have to like you and there is no legal or ethical basis for recusal.

    5. TheBeagleWantsCheese*

      Thanks! I really appreciate the down to earth feedback.

      The main reason I felt this person should have stayed off my panel is that they made it clear they didn’t feel I was qualified in either circumstance. Obviously, other people felt differently or I wouldn’t have gotten an initial interview let alone made it through multiple rounds. If anything, I was slightly overqualified in both instances, but still very genuinely interested in the position and in the organization.

      Curious for those who interview, if you personally disliked a candidate for any reason, whether valid or not, and they reapplied a few years later with even more experience aligned with an open position, would you truly give them a chance or would your first opinion stand? Would your previous bias influence you?

      1. safari*

        honestly, having carried out a lot of interviews for a lot of roles, I might not even remember them a few years later, unless they did something truly bizarre in the first interview. But in your case, you are saying that they rejected you the first time because they thought you weren’t qualified, not because they personally disliked you. If I had rejected someone on the grounds of lack of experience or qualifications, and they returned a few years later having gained that experience or qualifications, then definitely I would give them a chance. Interviewers recusing themselves because they have interviewed the candidate before is just not a thing.

      2. HBJ*

        I’m curious why you think “didn’t feel I was qualified” equals “personally disliked.” Personally disliked, to me, is “they look like my ex who ran over my dog” or “that ugly outfit they’re wearing clearly means they’ll be a bad employee,”

        And as far as them having a different opinion than at least one of the other people in hiring, isn’t that the whole point of having multiple people involved in the process?

        1. TheBeagleWantsCheese*

          Based on this person’s behavior in my first set of interviews, where they loudly declared right off the bat I wasn’t qualified and preceding to be dramatic throughout. Sort of middle school type behavior. I’ve never encountered a situation like it again. It would sort of be like me as an engineer interviewing a nurse for a ER nurse position. Let’s say the candidate has 10 years of experience but we ask for 7 and they have all the certifications and everything we asked for. I loudly complain at the start of the interview that this person is clearly not qualified to be an ER nurse and then make unprofessional comments throughout, insinuating how unqualified they are, wasting time, etc. My interview experience was just as illogical. How could I judge a nurse’s nursing credentials when I’m an engineer? This person did something in the same vein. It seemed oddly personal at the time though this person likely treated other candidates in a similar manner. Maybe they had someone in mind who they wanted to get the job? So it was disappointing to see this person again on the interview panel as it was such a bizarre and unpleasant experience a few years ago.

    6. Trotwood*

      I don’t think that having interviewed someone before makes it a conflict of interest to interview them again two years later–it’s really not reasonable to expect the interviewer to recuse themselves on that basis. They are obviously a trusted decision-maker in this organization. If you had evidence they were discriminating against you in an illegal way (like they said “I’m never hiring any women for this job”), that would be something to raise with HR/a lawyer. But if they are just not vibing with your candidacy for some reason, you can’t really convince the company to take them out of the decision-making process even if it feels unfair to you. Their reasons may be nonsense (“I just hate graduates from Oatmeal State University”) or they may be reasonable in a way that’s not apparent to you (“this applicant has no experience in teapot design and I won’t consider anyone without that knowledge”). Unfortunately you may need to accept that roles in this organization aren’t happening for you right now and you’ll need to look elsewhere.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        If they disliked you that much, I don’t think they would have bothered to interview you. Is this person the hiring manager? If so, maybe they’re not worth working for. Would they be on your team? I once had an interview where one of the interviewers was weirdly being hard on me and it felt very petty. I ended up advancing in the process, and they were on another team, so I assume the actual team I would have worked with liked me enough to move me forward. I didn’t end up with an offer because I had another offer before their process was done, but I know I was at least a finalist. It could just be “that weird negative person” that everyone knows is just going to be weird or negative or abrasive no matter what. Good luck with your search.

      2. Hazel*

        Or it’s a way to occupy someone crusty and the other members of the hiring panel ignore him! The conduct is appalling. I have interviewed several people twice, some because I said we couldn’t swing it last time but please apply again or to x job. One who was a bit hopeless – it was 10+ years ago but they didn’t know what social media was. I still gave them earnest consideration, this guy sounds jerky but not necessarily just towards you.

    7. Qwerty*

      Having a repeat interviewer is actually an edge. You already have insight into the type of questions that interviewer asks and what they are looking for. You get to impress them with how you’ve grown.

      I’m not sure why you think it is an HR matter to be interviewed by the same person twice. I’ve been in that situation a lot times – sometimes for the same company, sometimes I interviewed them while at Company A and then a couple years later when I’m at Company B. Sometimes I’m even in two interviews during the same hiring process! Even in that last scenerio, someone might get a soft no from me in round 1 but advance anyway and I’ve ended up saying yes to hiring them after being part of the final round interview.

      If your candidacy wasn’t taken seriously you wouldn’t have been given an interview. Same thing if the lead interviewer was against you being hired from the start – he probably could used facts from the first interview to prevent you being interviewed again.

      I also don’t find it weird that he brought up you applying again. It would be more weird if the two of you pretended that you never met! Usually if I interview someone who has applied multiple times the recruiter will alert me, even if I wasn’t part of their previous interviews.

  19. Parcae*

    I can’t believe I’m still having this problem in 2023, but here goes: about a year ago, I started a new, fully remote job. The job is great, my coworkers are smart and hardworking, and I had over two years of remote work under my belt when I started, so what could go wrong?

    Folks, these conference calls may be the death of me.

    Unlike at my previous job, the culture here is cameras off. Most working meetings are conducted via phone, with separate screensharing software added as needed. I’m not a fan of this, but I’m not in a position to change either the technology or the culture, so I need to adapt as best I can.

    The trouble is that without the visual cue of my coworkers’ expressions, I find myself interrupting and talking over people all the time. No one’s brought it up to me as a problem, but it’s annoying the heck out of ME, so I know it’s a problem. I’m trying to wait longer before jumping into the conversation, but often that means that the topic has long since moved on before I can get a word in edgewise. Also, my coworkers constantly ask me to repeat myself—something that doesn’t happen the rare times we’re on Zoom—and I frequently have trouble understanding *them*.

    Is there a trick to this? Or at least some kind of technology that might help with the audio? I own a great Jabra USB headset that solved most problems at my old job, but here, I need to dial in using my locked-down, work-furnished iPhone 12. Putting everything on speakerphone so that I can take notes cannot be the right solution, but that’s what I’ve been doing. Any ideas? I’ve never used an iPhone before, so no suggestion is too obvious. Maybe a Bluetooth version of my current headset? Pricey, but I could manage it.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Am I understanding correctly that the iphone doesn’t let you just plug in a good headphone/mic to it? (android user here) because adding a good headphone would solve everything.

      Does your living situation have the option for a landline? You can get landline looking phones that run off wireless as well.

      1. Parcae*

        It doesn’t have a headphone jack, no. Just a Lightning connection, and I don’t own anything that uses that.

        I’m not sure I understand how a landline specifically would help. There’s nothing wrong with the connection. Using a personal device (landline or my personal Android cell) to call in would be technically against policy, though I doubt I’d get caught.

        1. DisneyChannelThis*

          Oh I thought the issue was you have a crappy connection sound wise so you can’t tell when there’s natural pauses to interject. So was brainstorming better phone quality options.

        2. MissMeghan*

          Cheaper than a bluetooth version, try a headphone-to-lightning adapter. iPhones came packaged with them for a while when they first eliminated the headphone jack, but I’m sure there’s a bunch of 3rd party options out there that are fairly cheap.

        3. Joielle*

          The wired Apple earpods are honestly pretty good for sound and mic quality, and aren’t too expensive. I think like $20 for the lightning connector version. That’s what I use if I have to take a call on my work phone and have hands free for typing.

          1. Parcae*

            Oh, I like this idea! I didn’t know those existed. A bunch of my coworkers use (wireless) earpods, but the only reason I know that is that they’re always having trouble with them in our meetings. (Disconnecting? Running out of battery? IDK.)

      2. I Have RBF*

        iPhones don’t have a headphone jack – they assume that anyone that can afford what is essentially a luxury phone can of course afford fancy, expensive bluetooth headsets.

        If work wants you to have a luxury phone like an iPhone, then they can provide the expensive bluetooth headset to go with it, IMO.

    2. ina*

      Funny, I’ve been in cameras-on meetings where this is also an issue. Are you sure your coworkers would give you facial clues in this workplace or was this something that you had at your old workplace that you feel would carry over?

      I think a bluetooth headset would solve the hearing issue and might also improve ability to know when to jump in. There is a technique to it — I like Zoom/Teams/etc because of the hand raise function. It eliminates a lot of the angst for me.

      1. Parcae*

        It’s not that interrupting never happened at my old workplace, but it was definitely much less of a problem. It’s also easier to understand people when you can see their lips move. But I think I could deal with cameras off a lot better if we just used Zoom or Teams. I miss the hand raise function a lot!

        I’m putting a bluetooth headset on my shopping list. Every little bit helps, right?

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          If you want a suggestion – I do my meetings about half and half with AirPods (if I’m going through my phone) or Beats3 over the ear headphones (if I’m going through my computer, but my phone also wants to connect to them) and both work really well, I don’t get complaints about issues.

        2. Kuddel Daddeldu*

          I use a Bose over-ear headset (brilliant but pricey and bulky).
          For a trip last week I bought Bluetooth “sports” earbuds for about $28 from Amazon. They have rubber hooks that go behind he ears so they don’t fall out; they work surprisingly well. So there’s no need to spend a fortune.

        3. Armchair Analyst*

          teams has an option for closed captions. you could ask people to use Teams so you can use closed captions and then also use cameras

      2. Charlotte Lucas*

        I also support the hand raise function. And use chat for posting reference info.

        I wonder if accents or talking speed are affecting understanding? I am a fast talker (even for my region), and it can affect understanding. On the other hand, people from the East Coast love how fast I talk.

        1. Parcae*

          Yeah, I really wish there was a hand raise function. Or people would use chat/IMs during our calls. Although that second part– maybe if I just keep doing it, people will catch on? Just steamroll everyone into doing what I want, ha.

          It’s funny you mention the East Coast, since I’m a Midwesterner who shifted to working with mostly East Coast people. But while there are some variations in speed and accents, I don’t think that’s the biggest issue. I don’t have the same problem on the rare occasions we’re on a Zoom call together.

    3. Stuart Foote*

      You can get a USB to Lightning adaptor for $10 on Amazon that will let you use your Jabra headset with your phone.

          1. Parcae*

            Well, no, I need Lightning (male) to USB-A (female) to connect my headset to my phone. But Amazon has some of those, so it’s worth a try.

    4. Replyauto*

      This might sound silly-but try closing your eyes when listening. I have a terrible time with multiple people speaking on a conference call and I can’t always tell who is even speaking. I think I process better when I can see people speak-but until masks during Covid I didn’t realize how much I used lip reading in conjunction with listening. That might work if you have a similar listening style? I’d also recommend noise cancelling headphones to Bluetooth with your phone (I actually really like the Apple AirPods bc you can have them set to noise cancelling or transparency).

      Sometimes I write down what I’m thinking of saying or asking, so if I don’t get a word in, I can ask the coworker or manager or someone later off-meeting.

      And I get it! I have to attend meetings the same way-it’s not the best format.

      1. Parcae*

        Oh, I’ll try that! Yes, I process much better when I can see lips moving. Early Covid was a bit of a mess, honestly, though I’ve gotten better “hearing” people who are wearing masks. Much like dealing with an unfamiliar accent, exposure helps.

    5. mreasy*

      I would at least buy some wired lightning headphones with the mic on the cord. They’re not expensive nowadays since AirPods have launched and I find them much easier than speakerphone.

    6. Astor*

      You might like it best if you buy a headphone jack version of your current headset and also a headphone jack to lightning adapter so you can plug it into your phone. If you already have (or can borrow) a cheaper pair of wired headphones with a mic, I’d recommend buying the headphone jack to lightning adapter first so that you can use them; that alone might stave off your frustration before you make the more expensive purchase.

      If you do get a bluetooth pair of your headset, I recommend checking to make sure you can use them wired as well – and specifically that the mic works when you’re wired. Some of them come with a mic in the removable wire, some require for you to purchase that wire separately, and some won’t work even if you use that wire. The reason why I mention this is that quality is generally significantly better with a wired headset, and you don’t need to worry about charging. But it’s really nice to be free from the wires, too!

      There are usb to lightning adapters so plausibly you could continue using your usb headset, but I’m less sure of the technology and they might need to be specifically designed for it. It might work, it might work for regular audio but not the integrated controls, or it might not work at all. And it might also be complicated by work locking down the phone. But if you can buy and return one, that might actually be the best place to start!

      1. Parcae*

        Someone suggested a USB to lightning adapter upthread, so I think I’ll start by trying that. I like your suggestion of using a headphone jack style headset with an adapter, too. I don’t have very good luck with bluetooth earbuds, so I’m wary of jumping straight to a bluetooth headset.

    7. Just a Minion*

      I have a corded ear bud type headphones with a mic on the cord. I love it for hearing and being heard. You can buy iphone/headphine adapters separately

    8. Policy Wonk*

      Since they are making you use the work iPhone ask if they will provide the appropriate headset. Where I work we are only allowed to use the government furnished headphones with the government furnished equipment – but that is with a laptop where they plug in, so may not be exactly the same.

      Still, I’d ask them to buy (or reimburse you for) the equipment.

  20. nm*

    It’s looking very likely that I’m going to have to leave my PhD program 6 years in, for a reason that seems really stupid.

    My research, teaching, and service records are excellent, but my GPA is 3.6 and there’s a 3.7 cutoff for graduation. My advisor and I are being told basically, just keep re-taking classes until your GPA is higher, or leave! I’m almost certainly going to leave over it, because retaking classes at this stage just seems like a waste of my time!

    If I choose to leave, how do I explain this when job interviews ask why I’m leaving my PhD at such a late stage without a doctorate? Should I tell them about the GPA? Am I just over thinking this because I’m upset about the situation?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      No offense, but just take the classes and raise it. A phd opens a lot of doors, and you’ve invested 6 years into this! Just suck it up for 6 months, take a couple easy As and get that degree!

        1. Snax*

          Wait, what? I have a PhD, and it was pretty much understood that A was the default grade for PhD candidates. If you showed up, participated and wrote a decent paper, that’s what you got. I believe you but I’m pretty astonished that coursework matters so much…in my program, it was just a box to check. But yes, retake the classes!

        2. Nesprin*

          Wait what? Are your research hours not being graded/factored into your GPA? Have you asked your dean about whether this is a hard and fast rule, or whether you can apply for an exception? Have you asked your classmates if there’s a known easy A class?

    2. ina*

      You’re going to leave your doctorate program at 6 years because of 0.1 grade point?? What kind of “set you up to fail” doctoral programs has a 3.7 *minimum*? Even elite universities have less rigidity. They invest a lot of money in you as a PhD student and it makes their grad rates look awful (and their time to completion, too).

      Have you exhausted your ability to petition the Graduate School? Special circumstances? Can you take a research rotation or something similar for credit and there is a tacit agreement that you will be getting a 4.0 between you and that adviser?

      Someone else will be along to give you a job script but I think you deserve that PhD. You’ve invested 6 years of your life in this and it sounds like this is literally the one obstacle.

      1. trust me I'm a PhD*

        I’m going to add that if you actually want to stay in the program, your advisor should be bearing a SIGNIFICANT amount of the petition load here. Your advisor –– presumably a tenured professor, or very close to it –– is the person with meaningful power across the institution; they’re the person who can make things happen. If your advisor isn’t shouldering that burden, consider going to your department (your director of grad studies?) and seeing if you can get another person to advocate for you.

          1. Rex Libris*

            This. Your advisor should be advocating for/with you. There is quite possibly a director or department head that can simply override this requirement.

            It’s obviously a dysfunctional culture and a ridiculous requirement.

            1. ina*

              > There is quite possibly a director or department head that can simply override this requirement.

              There is absolutely someone who could override this. On the strength of Comment OP having taught these courses they got the “bad” grades in, too? They have a strong argument for showing expert knowledge here.

              None of this stuff is real; someone can wave a hand and say “presto!” and it’s all resolved. 3.7 is a weird metric anyway. 3.5 is Dean’s list anywhere else. There are bigger issues in this program.

    3. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Calling it a waste of your time sounds odd and makes me wonder if there’s some deeper hangup, attachment, or assumption there that you may not be aware of on the surface.

      How is retaking a class a waste? You’ve spent 6 years of your life doing it. Retake a class and get over the hump and get it done. If something deeper is going on there, address it.

      Otherwise, tell interviewers that you’re all researched out and looking to move [back] into the X field world, and are particularly excited about X aspect of this position.

      1. nm*

        I guess a substantial hang up is that it’s become very clear to me that grading here is highly subjective, and the differences between a person who gets an A and a person who gets a B often comes down to who the instructor likes better. Another frustration is that some of the classes where my grades “aren’t good enough” are classes that I have previously been assigned to teach as primary instructor. It’s really frustrating that they think I’m good enough to teach the class but not good enough to get a degree for it.

        1. Goddess47*

          Since someone thinks you’re good enough to teach the courses, is there any way you can ask the person, only if you trust them to truly be helpful, for an ‘independent study’ so you can get that grade you need.

          It sounds like more politics than anything, but you can point to the program’s graduation rate if you decide to step out at this point… it is a ridiculous requirement.

          Good luck!

          1. Sitting Pretty*

            I was going to suggest this. A directed readings course or independent study course under the guidance of a member of your committee, on a topic related to your research. Develop a syllabus of readings and response papers together.

            I used to advise PhD students and this was very common in the later stages of the degree, particularly when a student needed to have continuous enrollment but wasn’t yet ABD or had visa issues or whatever. Not a waste of time and energy at all, and almost always a slam-dunk A.

    4. deesse877*

      I think you should research carefully exactly how many classes you need to retake, and which ones are likely to give you the most bang for your buck, and if it’s three or fewer, and they’re offered in the next three semesters, then you should give it a shot. You could also see if you’re allowed to take new classes in related departments instead; they may not permit it, but if you’re sick of your home dept it might be worth a shot.

      I give this advice for two reasons: (1) you are a researcher, so research it to death (as a way of getting out of your feelings), and (2) if you don’t try, and/or don’t have unemotional reasons for not trying, you can blow up your relationship with your advisor…which means not only having to explain not getting the degree, but also having no strong recommendations.

    5. Dr. Doll*

      This is officially fucking ludicrous. Your university has a really, really, really stupid — I cannot say how stupid they are.

      Don’t quit, though. DO do whatever it takes to meet their fucking stupid requirement and get your doctorate, because no one can take that away from you.

      One thought – maybe petition for a grade change in a class, if the grading is that subjective and also (likely) the professor uses a curve because they are so (fucking) rigorous.

    6. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

      can your advisor do an independent study class with you? once we finished our core real classes this is what we all did

      1. The New Wanderer*

        That would be my suggestion too. I’ve never heard of a GPA cutoff like that! I have been the recipient of a B when the professor made it clear it was because he didn’t like me speaking up in class, so grad class GPAs definitely have the potential to be a little arbitrary. But to withhold your ability to get a degree on 0.1 point? There has got to be a way around that.

      2. amoeba*

        Yeah, that or a lab rotation or a “made-up” writing assignment or whatever – if your supervisor has your back, it would surely be possible to find something you’re easily able to get an A on?

    7. ecnaseener*

      That does seem like an absurdly high cutoff, but I think you’ll just have to make something up. Unfortunately I can’t think of a way to spin “the graduation requirements were really stringent so I decided to drop out” that sounds good.

    8. trust me I'm a PhD*

      I echo other commenters in saying this situation is weird, and you should do what you can to advocate for yourself /get your advisor to advocate for you –– either waiving the requirement (many requirements are soft and can be waived for the right set of circumstances) or finding a class that will appropriately raise the GPA, without too much hoop jumping.

      I’m also really weirded out that you’re taking courses where you’ve been the instructor of record –– tbh, I’m surprised those would even count towards your GPA, because I’m assuming (based on my own doc experience) they’re first- or second-year courses. The requirement has lost the plot if you are indeed taking lower-level courses.

      If you are really invested in leaving, e.g. if the experience has sufficiently soured you on higher ed that you’re not willing to deal with this anymore, a few recs:

      Go find the Professor Is Out page over on FB, if you’re on FB. People are there from all over the world who left higher ed during or after their doctorate and are positioned to help you think through this.

      And consider framing your leaving as, the program wasn’t structured in a way that let me focus on my own interests. The “structure” here is the weird GPA requirements; your interests are your research/admin/teaching, which it sounds like you’re being pulled away from by the requirements. So frame it that way.

      1. Llama Wrangler*

        And consider framing your leaving as, the program wasn’t structured in a way that let me focus on my own interests. The “structure” here is the weird GPA requirements; your interests are your research/admin/teaching, which it sounds like you’re being pulled away from by the requirements. So frame it that way. This is a good frame (though agree with all the other comments around alternative solutions.

    9. Feral Humanist*

      I agree that this is really dumb requirement (and not one that I’ve ever heard of before). Have you been able to progress to the dissertation phase at all? How close are you to finishing other than the GPA issue? If you think you could finish in a year, I’d take the classes. But if they have prevented you from starting work on your dissertation until your coursework is “completed” and you think it’s going to be 2-3 years, I understand deciding to leave.

      It’s not uncommon to leave a program after coursework. Will they let you take an MS/MA degree? That would give you something to show for it. I wouldn’t explain the entire situation to an interviewer, but rather say something like, “My progress was being held up by university bureaucracy, and I realized that the work that I want to pursue doesn’t require a PhD. But I did learn X, Y, Z that will help me in this position.”

    10. M2*

      Don’t leave. Retake the classes. I left my PhD program and regret it (and can’t go back).

      Is it possible for you to get a masters with those credits? A friend didn’t finish her PhD but got a masters with her classes so put that down instead.

      Talk to your advisor about who they think will help you get that degree. Is your advisor teaching a class? Who have you an A before? Work your tail off in the class, go to office hours, do extra work, just get that A so you can be done. And get it done this semester!

      Have you written your dissertation yet? Or will you need to write and defend it after your classes are done? If you need to do that after your classes then you should start ASAP. Does your school have a cut off for time? When I was doing mine most people got it in 5 years but you had to get your PhD in 6 years (unless medical accommodation or parental leave then you had an extra 6 months) or you were out. It might have changed with Covid, but I think many programs have a cut off timeline.

      1. Feral Humanist*

        Regret is a highly personal emotion. I know people who regret *finishing* their PhD (or doing it at all). Sometimes leaving a program is the right thing to do. I agree that in this case, the OP should try to find a way to get her GPA up without re-taking classes (which are not a great use of time, 6 years into a program), but if they are looking at 2-3 MORE years (the better part of a decade) on top of the 6 they’ve already spent, leaving is a reasonable decision to consider. That’s close to a decade of making well below market value wages, probably putting nothing in retirement, and both academic and industry job markets vary wildly.

    11. Anondropout*

      As someone who did drop out of grad school after 5 years, I agree with the advice from trust me I’m a PhD and Feral Humanist. Getting an A in grad school was a completely different ball game than undergrad. Retaking classes that far into the program is a gamble that could seriously slow your momentum on your own projects, and I completely understand why it might not be worth it to you.
      As for job applications, I told people that I found academia wasn’t for me and I’m more interested in working outside of it. No one ever asks about it directly in interviews, actually, but I throw in the comment in cover letters. I did get a master’s degree out of the experience so maybe that’s why?
      One other thing to consider – are there any options to transfer to a different program that doesn’t have a GPA requirement?
      I’m sorry your program has this crappy requirement, and best of luck. GPA really says nothing about your competency as a researcher.

    12. manchmal*

      In places I’ve taught, grades are never really final. I would go back to one of the A- classes and ask that instructor what you could do to raise your grade to an A. Can you revise your term paper or whatever. I wouldn’t take the class over again, I’d be petitioning for a new grade or to do more work to earn the A.

  21. Angstrom*

    IT and tech support is a necessity for any modern company. If your employer doesn’t want to pay for a dedicated resource, they should expect to pay the employees for the time required to solve those problems.
    It is their responsibility to provide the tools you need to do your job.

  22. riverofmolecules*

    If you need to do admin work to do your job… that’s part of your job. People who undervalue administrative or planning work aggravate me. Unless it’s specific to particularities of how your job is funded, you are not out of line and it’s hard for me to see how a boss can manage an organization if they don’t understand how an organization works.

  23. Pam*

    I need to write some articles for the company newsletter. They can be on any topic related to the workplace. I have time to research and cite sources for these (the newsletter often uses citations), but I have no idea what topic to write about!

    What should I write about? What would be helpful professional skills/tips that should be broadcasted to the whole company?

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      Our internal comms team does a weekly tech tips post for commonly used software on our discussion board system. Excel and Outlook tips seem to be the ones that get the most engagement – added bonus, people will probably write in with their own tips and tricks, which will give you additional content.

    2. BellyButton*

      Does you company have stated values/competencies that apply to everyone? I use those as a jumping off point each month. For example if “innovation” is one of the core values/competencies, I would write something about that — how does an individual support and drive innovation in their role and on their team. How can managers foster and support innovation. I also usually link to a book summary or a TED about the topic.

    3. Goddess47*

      If you have a friendly contact in HR, ‘interview’ them about an HR program that folk might need to know more about. Unless HR has their own articles, of course!

      Are there professional organizations that your colleagues might join? Local workshops or conferences that are workplace related? Local volunteer opportunities? Interview someone from housekeeping or maintenance or security or IT or the mail room (or any ‘invisible’ support group) that can give some “tips we’d like everyone to know”.

      Yeah, wide-open assignments sound like fun until you have to work with it! But do have fun with it!

    4. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      How to relieve digital eye strain. I literally got this in a newsletter yesterday from my health insurer.

    5. Charlotte Lucas*

      If this will be a regular thing, I’d do a survey asking staff what they’d like to see. Or just a general call-out for topics.

      How big is your organization? If it’s reasonably large, make sure to have articles useful to new staff and articles useful to those who’ve been there a while.

    6. Laika*

      Using your benefits!

      I recently covered for our marketing guy and did the company newsletter for a few weeks. When I was running low on ideas, I reached out to HR and IT and asked if they had anything they wanted to include. HR sent me a write-up about benefits and vacation time that I personally considered quite boring, but to my surprise I overheard multiple different people talking about it/referencing it as a useful refresher, so obviously it was really valuable.

      1. pally*

        When we had a pension program, the CEO was flabbergasted that not one person was interested in selecting the funds their money would be invested into.

        He was doing this for us. And he was going very conservative.

        Turns out, no one knew this was something we could do. We were completely able to select the funds -and go more aggressive if we wanted. Or even more conservative than what he was doing. But this needed to be explained along with a lesson on what mutual funds were all about.

    7. Cool*

      Well heck! Maybe Alison would let you interview her! Also, as to writing about some of her tips (someone suggested this), I would ask her permission first and see how she wants to be credited.

    8. I Have RBF*

      Hmmmm….

      * What some industry specific acronyms are and what they mean
      * How to get the best use out of your medical/dental benefits
      * History of the field your company is in
      * DEI tidbits/information
      * Interesting health and safety matters in your field and how they came to be regulated
      * Writing in active voice versus passive voice – with pointers to tutorials

      Hope this helps

    9. J*

      I work in law so when I was doing a newsletter for a legal office I’d be asking lawyers for them to report industry news to me and then I’d translate it to a “what your clients should know about the new FLSA rules” or something similar. I don’t know your industry but because we were super specific in practice, it really helped to inform in a very high level way how to speak to clients and do a soft pitch while also educating our attorneys. We’d usually use hyperlinks in case they wanted to know more but otherwise the paragraphs I collaborated on were useful as read.

      But the section that always got the most interest was the gossipy neighborhood news. If one backhoe showed up, they knew I’d have an article about the new business that was going in, the debate at the board of alderman about its tax financing, the planned chef who would be running the restaurant inside the office park and even hints of what legal or accounting firm might be moving in as well. I wrote this for help teaching them how to plan networking opportunities. The larger networking section was always a huge hit. I’d include an event, target market, past speakers and sections on how they could engage it as well as bios on key individuals. But my niche here was teaching baby lawyers to be partners so YMMV.

  24. ExplainsALot*

    I am currently being tested for Autism as an adult. I have an appointment next week. We are pretty sure it will be positive. Frankly learning about it and how as a woman it appears differently has explained so much about my life.

    My question is do I reveal this information to my boss? It impacts on my work in that a specific workflow I was put in charge of is very unpredictable and can be really stressful for me. It is also why I dont attend most of the social events. My boss is a social butterfly and everyone else on the team goes out drinking with him. I am the only one and I can tell that it irks him that I dont socialise like they do. The problem is both the overstimulation from the places they go but also the difficulty I have with social anxiety.

    Would it be good to tell them once I know for sure? I live in the UK and know that while my company is overall good, if I ever needed changes that it would be a whole process to arrange as they would send me to occupational health etc.

    1. Cordelia*

      maybe its worth thinking about what kind of changes you would want or need at work. Do you think you are disadvantaged at work because you don’t attend the social events, or is it just that your boss doesn’t like it? Is there anything about the workflow you are in charge of that could be arranged differently? I’d suggest only telling them if there are specific things you want to happen. If/when you get your diagnosis, you could talk to treatment providers about how your work is impacted and what adjustments they could suggest, before discussing with your employers.

      1. nopetopus*

        Agree with this. I’d avoid a big sit down discussion about it with your boss unless you’re asking for something specific. People just really don’t understand autism and most have a very fixed idea of how it presents and what it means, and you don’t always want that floating around people’s heads. It can limit your opportunities and ironically can make it harder in social situations.

    2. NaoNao*

      I would think through to the end game here. I don’t think a Dx in and of itself is going to change your boss’ core nature of being a fun party guy and being irked and feeling slighted that you don’t want to tag along. And if the workflow is chaotic and unpredictable, unless you have a solution on hand that makes sense and isn’t undue hardship, I also think that’s a non starter as far as bringing it up.

      If you have specific accommodations you’ll be seeking and you want to give your boss a courtesy head’s up, maybe.

      Also I suspect that the health care professionals may have some tips for you on how to disclose, who to disclose to, and how to navigate the new Dx.

      Honestly, it could be different in the UK, but in the US, disclosing neurodivergency is almost always a death sentence for that job. I would think long and hard about what you hope to get out of the disclosure.

    3. Anon for This*

      I have a son with Autism. He is doing OK right now, but will likely need some accommodations in his job as his employer wants to have him work from multiple offices, wherever he is needed – this will be a challenge for him. He would likely seek out an accommodation that they be rolled out one at a time so he would not move to site 3 until he is comfortable at site 2. If you need accommodations, you will need to disclose. I would recommend you talk to whoever does the testing to find out if they are aware of the types of accommodations that would be helpful with your particular challenges. There may also be standards put out by medical associations or advocacy groups – look there for things that might be helpful.

      The biggest challenge with Autism is that it doesn’t present the same in everyone. As my son puts it “if you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” You can’t generalize. So if you can get help from outside organizations, they may be able to help advocate for you on what works. Wish you the best.

    4. Ciela*

      No, do not tell your boss about your diagnosis. I made that error, and it was a mess. I was told “stop being autistic at work”. WTF?!?!?
      My diagnosis helped me understand better why I respond the way I do, which has actually helped my cope a lot better.
      Now if you can think about any process / procedure that might improve workflow, sure, talk about improving workflow.
      Unless you are going to ask for a specific change / accommodation that would not possibly make sense without disclosing your diagnosis, don’t disclose. If you can say things like “I just find that I focus better when it’s quiet. Remember info better when it’s written down, etc.,” just say that.

    5. Nightengale*

      There are pros and cons to disclosing – I am autistic and not open about that as work. I also have other disabilities so I am openly disabled. I am also a fan of “partial disclosure” so saying something like “I have difficulty with loud places” rather than “I am autistic.” This works sometimes.

      For an actual accommodation/adjustment you have to disclose. Not going to social events is not actually a formal accommodation/adjustment, just you are hoping the autism explanation will carry some weight with your boss. I am not very optimistic that a boss who hugely values outside socialization would let up if they knew anxiety/autism was the reason. Unfortunately. But you may be able to advocate for more predictability in your workflow process, to the extent that is possible.

      I wanted to recommend the book I just read, Neurodiversity Workplace Rising. The author, Lyric Rivera is autistic and has done extensive consulting to workplaces about making them neurodivergent friendly.

      Welcome (most likely) to the club!

  25. Jessen*

    I have a question some people might be able to help with – how is billing by every 6 minutes supposed to work? With work from home my company is increasingly pushing proper billing, make sure you’re actually working on a project for every 6 minute interval that you put to that project, and so forth. I understand them wanting to make sure people are actually doing work, but the way it’s written it seems like I can’t even make a cup of coffee without adding extra time to my shift – because that might take 4 minutes and I’m not working on a project during that time so I can’t put it on my time card. I’m supposed to be working 9-5 generally and billing every 6 minutes and I just cannot figure out how it’s supposed to work with a normal human schedule.

    1. Donkey Hotey*

      Speaking for myself, if I am working on project A, get up and get coffee, and return to project A, all within six minutes, then project A just got billed for my coffee break. There is a certain level of “ship-keeping” activity that gets folded into accounting for every minute of one’s day.

      1. M2RB*

        This approach is exactly how we were instructed to handle coffee/bathroom breaks at a firm where we billed clients for minutes worked. If you finish preparing a tax return and stop to get a cup of coffee after you drop the file off at the reviewer’s desk, then getting the coffee counts as part of your time on that client. If you are talking to a coworker about how to deal with a client scenario, and the conversation veers off-topic to talk about weekend plans for a couple of minutes, that social conversation counts towards the client’s time.

        We also were allowed a certain amount of admin time. That admin time bucket is where I would code time where the social conversations ended up being longer than the talk about how to handle a client situation or when a bathroom break ended up taking longer than anticipated.

      2. Legal Beagle*

        This would definitely depend on if bills are being passed on to clients! I bill in 6minute increments as a lawyer, and would definitely not charge clients for my time getting coffee.

        1. Jessen*

          So I work for a government contractor here. I believe some bills are being passed off to the government? But also the way my billing codes are set up I don’t have any non-billable codes other than my PTO. The expectation when I was in the office was that I’d generally charge my entire day to my primary billing code (IT support), and others were really only used in a few special circumstances. So I don’t really have a way to not put my time as chargeable and still actually eat lunch.

          1. J*

            You might double check with a manager because often it’ll be defined in the contract. When I worked for an entity as a (local) government contractor, our contract was structured so we had 20% admin time we’d be reimbursed for and the rest needed to be active working time. I’d have felt uncomfortable buffering a coffee break into that other 80% since we did have budgeted admin time.

            I kind of feel less concerned with my in house subsidiary reconciliation when I bill a coffee to Sub1 if the project is taking me 4 hours and I’ll quit at 2 if I don’t get the coffee to keep working through it.

            When I was in Big Law, if it was just going out to grab break room coffee it was okay to buffer in but if you went across the street you clocked off the project. Most attorneys were doing 9-10 hours to get to a range of 6.5-8 hours of billed time between networking, admin, new client intake, CLEs, and firm programs like recruiting.

            1. Guido Dante*

              Nope.
              Jessen has it right.
              Gov’t contracting is analogous to law with the billable hours, but like all analogies, it’s a limited description. We are expected to have 100% “billable” hours. There are separate charge numbers for things like required training, but things like cleaning out your inbox or filing have to be either rolled into your program charge number under the logic that all your emails/documents are program related or done on your own time.

    2. Don’t put metal in the science oven*

      This kind of billing happened in my industry & it’s a way to pay you less. In an office, there’s what seems like non-productive time like discussing with co-workers, getting coffee, etc. When your whole day has to be “billable” you end up working yourself more and actually can become less productive. It gets magnified if you WFH. I just built those micro reset breaks into each client or project 6 minute intervals & spread it around.

      1. Jessen*

        Given my industry, the more likely answer is that the rules were written by congressional committee and no actual thought into how this would work in practice was applied.

    3. Girasol*

      I struggled with this in an old job: how do you account for, say, an unauthorized potty break or for cleaning up the email inbox? A friend told me that he considered his whole day as work. He just estimated the percentage of it that he spent on projects A and B and C, and then divided up 8 hours – or however long he was in that day – accordingly.

    4. CTT*

      Are they truly expecting you to be billing something to a client every minute of the day? I’m a lawyer and previously was a paralegal and we have admin numbers because it’s understood that you are not doing billable work the full 8 hours. My dad’s an engineer and bills his time to clients and there is a similar expectation that there is administrative/life time.

      1. Legal Beagle*

        But you wouldn’t bill that time to a client, right? Wouldn’t you just stop your timer for your coffee break/throw it on a non-billable code if you have a daily hours billed requirement?

        I think OP’s situation is different as it seems like they are non-exempt and don’t have non-billable codes, but I wouldn’t be charging my coffee time to a client as a lawyer.

        1. CTT*

          Right, that’s what I meant by an admin number – it’s a non-billable number to put time for non-billable tasks. Or if they don’t have non-billable numbers, then there should not be the expectation that they are billing the entire time they are clocked on; that was not the case when I was a non-exempt paralegal. And to take it out of the legal world, my dad is an engineer who bills his time for government projects and he has his “chargeable” hours as he calls them that usually make up 6-7 hours or his day and the remainder are non-chargeable hours.

      2. kalli*

        Additionally with jobs that have set tasks and codes for those tasks, there’s often a default correlation between what task should take how long, or how things should be translated to billing units because they don’t always neatly match up with time or between people. The Higher Courts Cost Scale where I live sets one unit as 11 lines of a document, and many firms will have internal guidelines for how many units should be billed for common documents/tasks beyond that. It isn’t just ‘I spent 15 minutes writing this letter, so I must bill the client 2.5 units. I had a sip of coffee and a stretch so I must put the other .5 unit on non-billable’. That letter may be 6 units because it’s a complex document, and the billable target may be well above the actual time worked, while non-billable tends to mean not billable to a client, rather than ‘I have to bill my breaks to a fake file so I look busy all day’. You don’t bill yourself 10 units for a lunch break, you just go to lunch.

    5. I Have RBF*

      I used to work in consulting, and billed like this.

      I had a log book, and would log when I started, stopped, or switched what I was working on, as well as what I was doing. I would “log out” for lunch, but not for bathroom breaks or coffee breaks. Why? Because my mind was still on the project while I was getting coffee, etc. In fact, I would be stumped on a thing, go get a cuppa or go to the bathroom, and the solution would often pop out when I was on break.

      Major context switches I would log the switch – from project A to project B, or writing reports on project A to prepping for another test on project A (different sub-projects.) But working on a report for project A, going to the bathroom, then coming back to continue writing the same report would all be one continuous entry.

  26. Cj*

    does anybody know of good online training classes for quickbooks? the ones I see for free are more training you on accounting, and that’s not what I need. I need to learn tips and tricks on features in QuickBooks that a lot of people don’t know about.

    QuickBooks itself has a training course for $600. that is not out of the question if it is actually the type of thing I need. it is a live 2-day webinar, but I think they also have something for the same price that is more self-steady.

    1. Donkey Hotey*

      Ask your local library if they offer free access to Lynda aka LinkedIn Learning. I recall they had some QuickBooks courses once upon a time.

    2. Annie Edison*

      I just did one on udemy that I think was pretty good? (I don’t really have anything to compare it to. I’m also self employed, which mean I don’t have anyone overseeing what I’m doing to make sure I’ve actually learned it properly, so take this with a grain of salt. But as far as I can tell, it was helpful)

      It was called bookkeeping basics and the instructor was Ron Trucks. If you’re just looking to learn quickbooks, I’d skip to bookkeeping basics 4 and just do that one.

      Be aware that it’s fairly broadly targeted, so there was some tech 101 stuff I skipped over

      I think it was like $80 or something, but they run sales fairly regularly with steep discounts

      1. Annie Edison*

        Oh wait, I just saw that you’re looking for tips and tricks- this might be too basic for what you’re looking for, depending on how much you already know

        1. Cj*

          yeah, I’m a cpa, so I know the accounting and of it. I was talking to a co-worker today and they mentioned something about an accountant’s review copy, and a lot of other things I don’t know about. he is going to walk me through the accountants review copy feature, but I would like to take a class.

    3. Ginger Baker*

      Have you tried Youtube (this is where I have picked up a lot of helpful random Excel/OneNote/Outlook tips over the years) using something like “advanced quickbooks tricks” to search?

  27. Cafe au Lait*

    I moved to a new position within my organization. While I’m not technically the supervisor over my colleagues I managed many of the supervisory details within the department and manage the student employees.

    My coworker can’t make up her mind about where she wants to fall under the supervisory umbrella. She gets pissed when I try to pull her into more supervisory responsibilities (like covering the front desk when she’s not scheduled because a student called out) but she also gets angry when I don’t include her. It’s a no-win situation.

    On top of it she’s very passive aggressive. I’m over the muttered comments about not doing my job exactly how she perceives how my job should be done. I keep gray rocking, and doing my job. But I’m over it. I lost the entire last weekend due to a migraine from the stress of working with her.

    If she continues I’m restarting my job search.

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      The way to address passive aggression is to call it out directly and calmly. “You don’t want to be included in x but seem frustrated when I don’t include you in x. What’s going on?”

    2. Goddess47*

      Get your supervisor involved and ask them the question above.

      “Lucinda doesn’t seem to want to be involved in X but is unhappy when I don’t include her. How do you recommend I deal with this?”

      Good luck!

      1. ferrina*

        100% Talk to your boss about this and plan a strategy with them. If their expectations don’t match what Lucinda has communicated to you, call this out and ask your supervisor to make an official announcement/reminder of what expectations are.

  28. FashionablyEvil*

    Anyone have a favorite piece of work advice they’ve gotten from AAM? I recently came across a piece of advice that I got from a commenter here which was, “Never do anything that feels satisfying when you’re angry.” It was a timely reminder!

    1. Donkey Hotey*

      “When negotiating your salary, all for as much as you can say without laughing.”

      It’s a surprisingly good gauge. When I tried it at home, I found there was a certain level where I couldn’t seriously say “I think I should be paid X” without actually giggling at the thought of it. Next job I applied for, I said that number and they didn’t even blink. Hello, 25% raise.

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      There are a lot, but probably the most useful one is to just be truly unavailable on your days off, unless there’s a genuine emergency. It was a proud moment when my boss said that she was now doing that because I did!

    3. No Tribble At All*

      No specific phrase, but all the “know your rights” sort of stuff about talking about salary, what/when you’re entitled to use FMLA, federal requirements for dealing with pregnancy/nursing in the workplace. A former employer spent tens of millions of dollars on our new HQ and had literally one (1) room that would fit the requirement of “lockable room that’s not a bathroom for nursing” — it was a server closet, and it was full of servers. I mentioned it at a DEI meeting, and had several new moms private message me to thank me. They were too afraid to point it out for fear of retribution. But it’s illegal!!!! And that’s one reason I left before getting pregnant!!!

    4. Llama Wrangler*

      If there’s a problem you’re trying to address (up, down, or laterally), focus on the impact on the work.

    5. Chauncy Gardener*

      “Not my circus, not my monkeys” I think about that all the time when I’m feeling annoyed by something that really isn’t my problem.

      1. Mimmy*

        A coworker says this often, and it is so true. Along similar lines, reading AAM has slowly helped me learn to not get upset about something if it doesn’t impact my job directly.

  29. Marie H*

    I’m looking for advice in career paths that don’t involve management. Does anyone here have experience with this in their careers? What job titles did you have, and what new responsibilities did you take on as you moved up? How much did you have to advocate for yourself versus the path already being laid out by the company?

    I want to continue growing and moving up in my company (and make more money, of course), but I don’t want to be a manager at all. I think there is room for that in my company, but most advancement is in management roles.

    1. Somewhere in Texas*

      Can you look for coordinator roles? Be in charge of a project/program, but not necessarily have to manage people.

    2. ferrina*

      Our Business Development/Sales folks tend to operate independently. A few have direct reports, but most like having the freedom of not managing.

      You do need to advocate for the path yourself. Sometimes you can create the path by just being really good at X and talking with your boss to carve out more time for you to do more with X. Might go without saying, but X needs to also align with your company’s goals and priorities. As your work adds more value to the company, it becomes an easy opening to talk about raises. “I created a process that increased efficiency by 10% and saved the company $X. I’d like to talk about how my accomplishments and contributions to this company are reflected in my compensation.”

      1. NotYourTechSupport*

        Ha, this is actually why I’m looking to get into sales/business development. Good to know I’m on a good track.

    3. WantonSeedStitch*

      One thing I want to work on with my manager this year is creating a path for career advancement that doesn’t involve management, for the high-level individual contributors on my team. We are really having to campaign on this, as other attempts have been shot down by HR. We’ve been thinking about the ideas of managing projects instead of. managing people, and of subject matter expert roles. For example, we’re considering a position for someone in charge of managing all the llama grooming materials and grooming process documentation. They’d have to work with management on approvals for new materials and management would still be in charge of determining process changes, but this person would ensure our manuals are up to date, come up with projects to improve our knowledge base, etc. This would be in addition to other high-level individual contributor work.

    4. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      My company has a dual career model; only the board is outside the grading system.
      I’m an individual contributor and until recently was one grade above my manager (ho caught up now).
      I do manage projects and ad-hoc project teams but I have no reports.
      Works for us; it’s a global knowledge-based organization with over 10,000 employees.

    5. KathyG*

      One company I worked for had a non-managereal stream called Technical Specialists. Basically people who had become experts in a particular area of our work. Their pay was on par with managers with similar years of experience.

  30. Not an HR Pro*

    Hi all – let me first say that I am not primarily an HR person; I am a CPA who is helping out with some HR functions.

    The company I work for is pretty small and has never really had people need to use FMLA. Currently, we have three people who will be out for FMLA, so we are having to catch up on our processes and knowledge. The leave these folks are taking will *not* be intermittent, in case that makes a difference. We’ve been able to iron out the details for things like insurance coverage, but our current dilemma is around vacation time accrual. Should team members who are on FMLA be able to continue accruing/earning vacation time at the rate they would if they were actively working? My inclination is to say no – but again, I am an accountant, not an HR person, and my knowledge of FMLA rules is … not great (I’ve never had to take it, I’ve never had to be involved in administering it, etc.).

    Any information people have would be great, particularly if you have references to valid/reliable guidance that we can use to develop our policy. If this isn’t something that there’s official guidance on, then what has your company done? What has your experience been? Are there any differences between full-time and part-time employees?

    1. BellyButton*

      FMLA doesn’t require you to. Most common practice is that when an employee is on paid leave, accrual continues, but when an employee is on unpaid status, accrual ceases.

      1. Samwise*

        I have been on intermittent and continuous FMLA a number of times over the past 15 years. I work at a university.

        At our U, I accrued vacation and sick leave (and continued with other benefits like employer match for retirement) as long as I was using leave to be out. My first time on FMLA my husband donated his leave to me. I had so much leave that I earned a couple of weeks more leave while I was out.

        Then I was on leave without pay for a some months. We figure that cost us about $25K in lost salary, lost benefits, cost of adding my to my husband’s health insurance…

    2. stunning and brave*

      At my company, we accrue our PTO monthly. If we work any one day during the month, we accrue PTO for that month. If we do not work during that month, no PTO accrual. It’s the same whether it’s paid or unpaid leave.

    3. IrishGirl*

      I dont think they are specific legal requirements to this one but it seems to me that a good place to work for would allow you to continue accruing it. If they are taking unpaid, are you also going to stop paying their health insurance premiums? Stop other benefits? Would you consider that unpaid time not in their “seniority” or toward how long they have worked in that job for promotions? My feeling is that if it still falls under FMLA then yes you should. If its not FMLA or over the time frame, thats a different story.

      I took 2 leaves for the birth of my kids and both had unpaid portions. None of my benefits including my vacation were disrupted during that time. I still accrued my days and didnt go from having 3 weeks to 2.5 weeks due to having 6 weeks unpaid as it is part of my benefits. Payroll played catch up when i got back on all my health ins payments and such.

      1. IrishGirl*

        Also could your policy of not accruing vacation when unpaid adversely impact a protected class? For example, if you have short term disability that pays 6 weeks for a birth of a child, and women take more time unpaid (which they have a right to) than say a man would take for a surgery which would also fall under short term disability. Or the opposite, women take the 6 paid and come back but a father wanted to take 6 weeks unpaid for his child’s birth.

        1. Random Academic Cog*

          While I think it’s great to provide a separate paid leave period for new parents (I’ve seen an extra 6 – 12 weeks for someone giving birth and 2 – 12 weeks for a non-birthing parent in the US), a small company may or may not be able to manage that. If you are in a child-bearing/rearing period, you need to conserve your leave and use it thoughtfully. My youngest child is special-needs and I’m just finally building up leave balances after 20 years at a job with generous (by US standards) leave policies. Is it fair that people without my circumstances got to take vacations instead of hoarding days for therapy and doctor visits and sick “kid” days when I had to stay home for a teenager that anyone else would have left home alone to sleep off their cold? I mean, that’s not my employer’s problem, it was mine to navigate. Life is not “fair” so that’s not a useful metric in many contexts. Figure out something reasonable as a baseline, do what you can to create some carveouts for societal benefit (which is where parental leave falls), and then let people work out their own reality.

      2. M2RB*

        Re: health insurance premiums: for employees on unpaid leave, their health insurance coverage continues, but they have to reimburse the company for their portion of the cost. The company continues paying its portion, but since we aren’t issuing a paycheck that would be reduced by the employee’s portion, the employee must reimburse us.

        I will relay on the seniority question – I don’t know if that has been considered yet.

        Thanks for the feedback!

    4. Random Academic Cog*

      We continue to accrue leave at our usual rate (full-time staff get the maximum monthly accruals and part-time staff are prorated) and get credit for all paid holidays as long as we are on paid leave. Someone taking FMLA at the end of the year, for example, can stretch pay a whole extra week because of all the paid holidays in that six week period. If we use up all of our leave, we can request additional from a donated leave pool (we have maximum carry-over limits and sometimes people will donate leave they are going to lose anyway), but I’ve never been involved with that process on either side and don’t know the details of the transfer process. We also can take unpaid leave, but we no longer accrue any leave and have to pay for our insurance. Something else that comes up is parking. People who are out for extended periods of time (or mandatory WFH during modified operation periods like covid or building renovations) get really pissy about paying for parking they aren’t using, but want their spaces protected when they are ready to come back. It just doesn’t work like that because the infrastructure has to be maintained and there are long waiting lists for all the paid parking. Retirement contributions are paused from the employer and employee side if you’re in unpaid status.

  31. Justme, The OG*

    My boss retired at the end of last month. I applied for the position five weeks ago, the position closed four weeks ago. I know I was the only qualified candidate. But it is taking AGES to actually interview me, so I’m doing my work and my boss’s work at my lower salary.

      1. Justme, The OG*

        I already have. I’ve been told that my interview is coming. It was supposed to be scheduled for last week, and then this week. And now it’s Friday with nothing.

      2. ferrina*

        I did this for over a year. While I was also covering my former colleagues role. So 3 roles for over a year at the same salary.

        Don’t do what I did. Talk to your boss about the timeline for filling the role. Explain that you aren’t able to do the full workload- “I can do X or Y- which would you like me to focus on?” Only do the hours to fill one role. Don’t break yourself doing overtime to fill a gap that you aren’t responsible for. Let them share the pain- it’s amazing how management is more motivated when things impact them.

        I’d give it 2.5 months to fill the role (start to finish). Any longer than that, start a low-key job search. I’ve found that people who want a role filled usually need a minimum of 2 months to fill the role, and up to 4 months (can be faster, but 2-4 is what I usually see). At 4 months, someone is dragging their feet. Start applying. You can always stop the application process if the promotion comes through, and if it doesn’t, you get to go somewhere where you are only doing one full-time role.

          1. Fikly*

            That’s nice. Are you looking to do your job and your boss’s job at your current salary and have them not hire anyone for a year or more?

            It could absolutely happen.

        1. ina*

          Then it’s time to talk to someone above you about the double workload from an employee perspective rather than a applicant perspective. This isn’t acceptable going on one month without a solid timeline to filling the role. ferrina’s advice is solid.

            1. Rex Libris*

              My spouse once interviewed for an academic job (external candidate) and spent literal months being told the hiring committee was unable to meet, the department chair was on vacation, the hiring committee still couldn’t meet, the hiring committee was on fire, whatever, etc. Then radio silence. Finally, 7 months after taking a job on the other end of the country, they wrote and offered the job. Spouse declined.

              So yes, higher ed is not famous for quick and efficient hiring.

            2. ferrina*

              That……explains a lot. I had said in my other comment that 2-4 months is the timeframe to look for, but that’s totally different in academia (I’ve got non-profit and for-profit experience). I defer to the academias here on what the time frame is in that industry.

            3. ina*

              That’s fine, but you still can discuss your workload and how to distribute responsibilities for this job so you aren’t pulling double duty. Because once they promote you, they still need your job done and you’re the best person to keep doing that, too.

    1. Goddess47*

      I’ve seen enough ‘hiring takes forever’ stories here, so that’s one thing. And the ‘they dragged their feet to save money’ stories. You may be caught in one or both of those particular hell-holes.

      One possible option is to talk to whomever you are reporting to, if you trust them enough, and have the ‘I’m frustrated with this’ discussion and see if they can push the process at all.

      Depending on what you know, what capital you have to burn, and who you trust, you can try the option of “X is clearly a boss-position task that I’m not being paid to do and I will [not do it/only do the bare minimum] until I get the position/raise that the task deserves.”

      It doesn’t have to be a challenging statement, just factual.

      I suspect there’s no simple answer. Good luck!

    2. WellRed*

      Drop balls where you can and also maybe take a day or two off. They probably don’t want to pay you to do the work you are doing for free so maybe you should care less about doing it all.

      1. Justme, The OG*

        Not doing it means faculty don’t get paid and students don’t get enrolled. I’m not doing that.

        1. Goddess47*

          You could remind them of that… Document that you are doing X that you are not being paid to do, but I suspect that’s not going to get you anywhere…

          Yeah. Higher education… I worked there all my working life and loved it but I had to retire to see how dysfunctional it was.

          Good luck!

    3. Justme, The OG*

      Y’all, this was really meant to be more of a vent post than an advice post. But I appreciate it.

  32. Laika*

    Any advice for someone dealing with a recruiter for the first time? Maybe just general tips/advice/other people’s experience (successful or otherwise) with the process?

    I’ve had one 15-minute call with the recruiting compnay followed by a 30-minute video chat. I didn’t get any weird vibes from the video chat and the recruiter told me that for my experience I should be making nearly double my current salary. They’ve lined up a 30-minute introduction interview for me at another company (in an hour, wish me luck!), which I’m trying to approach just as an information-gathering session. If nothing pans out from the interview, no harm done, I’m already working and not desperately trying to leave my current role.

    1. pally*

      Every recruiter I’ve dealt with told me similarly regarding salary. They say that they can get me significantly more than my current salary. Would you work with a recruiter who couldn’t do that? So don’t get too hung up over statements like that.

      They are on your side in terms of getting you the most salary & benefits. But if there’s red flags, they may try to minimize them in the hopes you will take the job anyway. You still have to advocate for yourself.

      1. Laika*

        I appreciate you mentioning this and in retrospect obviously that makes a lot of sense haha. I tend to get really sucked into other people’s enthusiasm, so things like that are good for me to keep top of mind.

        After this morning’s meeting, turns out the salary range for this new position is closer to 30% more which is nice but definitely not the same as double my current!

  33. Bex (in computers)*

    How can I (no drama) make it clear if a colleague is promoted I’ll resign, and/or am I overreacting?

    Situation : our IT department’s local manager has resigned to return to her home country. She gave notice at start of year; left in august and company has dragged on replacing her (whole other issue)

    One of my colleagues, Bob, is a project manager for IT projects. At least in theory – since he was brought on over a year ago he’s only successfully closed two projects (one of which I handed over at 75% completion). He’s charming and charismatic – and a liar and miserable colleague.

    I’ve heard him throw every other member of our team under the bus on project update meetings as to why he doesn’t have stuff completed (even if it’s not our job and is squarely on him, such as scheduling end user training or gathering quotes for work). He iced me out for an entire week when I asked him for status on pickup of equipment and he told me I should go ahead and follow up on that, despite the fact I’m operations, not projects, and again, that’s his job. He frequently throws tasks at operations team members who are not supposed to work on projects and who don’t have the time (there is a staff of project professionals he can fall back on, he just doesn’t do it because when he has they’ve made it clear what he’s asking them to do is actually his job as project manager), then blames Ops team when things are not done.

    He also frequently lies about non-work stuff. For example, talking about his Black Ops military work and helicopter crashes he’s been in (nothing he says matches up w records and two former service members in our dept say he doesn’t know basic stuff about the branch he claimed to serve with); claiming he owns property in a Colorado county with the Colorado river going through it (issue: it’s in far southeast CO, the CO River doesn’t run there); claiming relations to European royalty etc.

    If it were just the non work lies, I’d roll my eyes and accept it as someone who puffs themselves up. But he’s now lying MORE, saying our team is rallying behind him to take over as we all adore him (we do not), his PhD’s make him an educated choice (no mention of his education anywhere and checking w university he claimed we find nothing), and as he’s on site every day (he’s been here three days the past two months) he knows how our work flows (he does not).

    The problem is, the people making the decision are all remote – another country remote. And he’s so charming it’s easy to see him working his way in. But I will not work under him for so many reasons.

    How can I make this clear, without seeming dramatic? Or am I being ridiculous?

    1. BellyButton*

      Does your manager or another manager you have a relationship with have influence with the decision makers? I think you can go to someone and say “I have heard Bob is being considered for X position. I have concerns about how he is representing his work and the relationships he has with my team. ”

      Good luck, he sounds like a nightmare!

      1. Bex (in computers)*

        Unfortunately our manager has resigned and while she might put a word in, she’s pretty frustrated with the company for other reasons and I can see her not bothering.

        And yeah – he’s … not great.

    2. FashionablyEvil*

      You’re not overreacting, but I think whether or not you say something depends on what kind of political capital you have and whether you have a close relationship with someone on the hiring team. There’s plenty here that would be concerning:
      -Throws people under the bus
      -Gave you the silent treatment for a week when you asked for something under his purview
      -Doesn’t fairly or reasonably assign work
      -Misrepresents your team’s perspective on him stepping into a leadership role

      You can say something like, “I know he’s thrown his hat in the ring, but I have very serious concerns about his candidacy and ability to lead the team.” Whether or not you add the “I would seriously consider leaving if he is appointed to the role,” depends on how much social capital you have with the person you’re saying this to.

      1. Bex (in computers)*

        Sadly, because we are in a different country and the talent acquisition team is nowhere near us, we don’t even know who is leading the search. We have no one to contact about it, and our former manager is pretty out of touch (reasonable; she left!)

        I don’t have a lot of political capital, but I’ve built a reputation onsite for being the one who can fix everything and there are several dept and division leads who insist on working with me. I also have an in-demand skill set and can get another job easily I believe (I’ve been lazily hunting and interviewing and have had three tentative offers as a result), so it’s not an idle threat.

        But I like the work I do (sometimes) and the benefits and compensation are pretty good, so I’d rather just sidestep the issue.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Can you informally ask any of these division leads who to talk to about this? They might know who to warn about Bob. Because if he’s promoted, it won’t be good for anyone. (Is he even who he says he is?)

          Bob sounds very similar to a manager I once had, and I support you in trying to warn others but getting out of necessary.

    3. Goddess47*

      Document, document, document.

      “Bob said X but [email/billing/etc] shows Y” and “Just to recap, in our meeting this morning, you told me to do Z this way…” and “end-user training is Bob’s responsibility but has not been scheduled” and so on. If you have colleagues that feel the same way (and especially those thrown under that bus), get them to do the same.

      See if you can have a skip-level meeting with your grandboss and present this as fact. If you have colleagues that will go with you, even better. Use only facts. None of his personal life, just what affects daily business, because that’s all grandboss will care about.

      It’s more work but if you want to stay in that position, it’s likely your best option.

      Good luck!

    4. ferrina*

      Are you serious about willing to walk away if he is promoted? If so, you have nothing to lose. Reach out to them and say that you’d like to discuss the open role. If they don’t set up a time to talk, you set it up. Push the issue.

      Come factually. State simply that if Bob is promoted, you will be leaving the company. Your experience working with Bob has been….ABC. Don’t get emotional. State facts. If you have receipts, bring them. Focus on things that pertain to the job he might be promoted into (as opposed to his current role). Say your piece, then let it go.

      Start applying now. My experience is that if the hiring team has made their minds up, they tend to dig in. Hopefully they won’t, but it doesn’t hurt to get a head start on the job search.

    5. Anon for This*

      I participated in an interview panel recently where one of my fellow interviewers agreed that someone we all ranked highly was qualified, but was concerned that the rest of the leadership that would work with their Bob would walk out if he was hired. We interviewed him anyway, and he is continuing to compete in the hiring process. You should pass the word along through someone you trust – and specifics help there, especially asking if they confirmed the degree, as that is common for employers to do – but regrettably it might not make any difference, so polish your resume just in case…

    6. Honor Harrington*

      Could you contact the decision makers and ask if the team that will be managed will be part of the search committee? Or if the peers/close colleagues of the position will be part of the search committee?

      If they ask why, it’s easy to talk about the needs you see for the role. You can even allude to some of the problems with Bob – i.e ” we’ll need someone who define accurate status reports and responsibility.” They’ll be wondering why you bring that up.

      If you’re lucky, they put you on the search committee, which allows you to ask questions or make comments. Even if they put someone else on the committee, so long as it isn’t Bob, they can ask key questions. If it is Bob, Bob can’t really apply to the position.

    1. I don’t post often*

      Following!!!!!!!
      Or, is there any financial institution hiring?
      I have friends at small regionals and things seem to be going really well for those? (That’s what my friends are saying?! I find this hard to believe and I’m even more concerned for them.).

    2. Honor Harrington*

      The big banks always have layoffs. Always. It’s still a great industry to get into, as their pay/benefits tend to be good, and the skills you get in such a big company can make you a very attractive candidate.

      Even if you are sales/admin/call center, you should have skills and accomplishments that you can put on a resume .Banks are so KPI-driven that it makes it a lot easier to cite accomplishments in a resume.

      It seems like almost every industry has layoffs. Banks just get a lot of publicity, as (like FAANGs) they are a sign of how the economy as a whole is doing.

  34. Recommendation Letters*

    I have an employee who will be starting a job search soon ask me for a letter of recommendation. They are a front-line manager in a manufacturing environment. Are letters of recommendation a “thing”? This person says that they are. I have been a hiring manager for over 15 years and I have never had someone offer me a letter of recommendation. References? Sure. But never a recommendation letter.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t think they’re always a thing, but it’s possible the place they’re applying to asking for letters of rec?

      1. Recommendation Letters*

        They told me that “employers sometimes ask for them as a testament to character”. And I’m not aware of that being a standard practice, so I thought I’d ask here.

    2. ecnaseener*

      In some industries (like teaching) yes – but if they’re staying in your field, they probably just got some weird bad advice.

    3. ina*

      Some roles for county and state government have them. My friend’s daughter submitted two recently for an teaching-adjacent role with the local school system.

    4. Laika*

      I think recommendation letters *could* be a thing depending on sector/industry/employer, but if you’re reluctant to commit the time/effort upfront you might get away with telling them “sure, happy to write you a reference letter WHEN you’re asked to provide one”

      1. Recommendation Letters*

        Good suggestion! It’s not so much that I don’t want to take the time to do it. I think that I feel reluctant because they clearly want me to hand it over and have it in their possession. And then what happens if it gets submitted in an application for a role that I wouldn’t necessarily think they were well-suited for? Or am I overthinking this entirely?

        1. Laika*

          No, not overthinking! I do think your point of not wanting to offer a blanket endorsement of the employee is valid, but also I don’t think there’s any point in writing a generic letter that they could send out with any ol’ application. It’s totally normal that you’d want to understand the role they were applying to so that you can speak to their strengths as a candidate.

    5. Anon for This*

      We write them for interns when they leave. The interns often will come back several years later when they have finished school asking for a recommendation for a job they’ve applied for – we pull out that letter and refer to what it says when answering questions. It’s helpful because often it’s hard to remember one specific intern several years later.

      In my experience almost no one wants letters of rec anymore, but many of them have really annoying on-line portals with long Q&A that request some of the info you would put in a letter.

      1. Recommendation Letters*

        I had assumed that they want me to give it to them to use as they please, but are you saying that for your organization, the letters remain with you until someone asks you for it specifically?

  35. Betty Spaghetti*

    My supervisor is being investigated for sexual harassment and has been out of the office/incommunicado during this period. I’d rather not share any details at this point, but does anyone have recommendations or tips for when they are back in the office (if they do return)? I am just not sure how to act, protect myself?, and am a bit afraid of what their attitude will be, the impact on our department, etc. (Yes, I am aggressively applying for jobs!)

    1. BellyButton*

      OOF- that has to feel really icky. Hopefully, your HR department has a meeting and communication with your team. They should communicate with your team about the steps they have taken to address the issue and what they are doing to prevent in the future. They should give people a space to express their concerns and feelings about the situation and the manager returning. They should also be giving a refresher of the SH training that includes information about retaliation.

    2. Whomst*

      Just because someone is being investigated for sexual harassment doesn’t usually mean that they’re any more of a danger to those around them than they were before. False accusations can happen, and if the accusation isn’t false, they’ve probably been sexually harassing people for a long time before this. Obviously I don’t have details and you’re (quite understandably) not comfortable sharing so I could be wrong here, but I think that whatever you were doing before is likely going to serve you well when they come back. Play a nice little game of “pretend nothing happened” until you can get out of there.

    3. ferrina*

      What does your gut say?

      If your reaction was not surprise, then take the steps you need to. Stay focused on work. Say nothing. Remain neutral. If the topic goes personal, excuse yourself to do a work task. Most people won’t hold your boss’s action against your whole team unless they think that you are protecting the boss. It’s okay to say “I don’t feel like I’m in a good position to comment- I still need to do my job.” Don’t advocate for your boss- just state what you need for your job.

      If your reaction was surprise and you are skeptical about the claims (like the LW earlier this week whose coworker made up an accusation), still stay out of it. Don’t comment on the ongoing investigation. Still take reasonable steps to protect yourself, but you can be friendlier with your boss. Offer to take over communications with other teams if that makes sense for your role (again, this is something that you can choose to offer- you don’t need to).

      You said you are a bit scared of this person, so I’d just stay out of it and “happen” to be somewhere where your boss is not. Don’t offer to help, just keep your head down and do the job. Good luck in your job search!

    4. J*

      I’m so sorry you’re in this position. I found myself there twice, one as a low level worker and one as an assistant to the accused. In both situations I knew they’d committed the behavior which added a layer of complexity. I generally did not speak about it. I focused on my job and my duties. In the latter role, the boss did bring it up to me and vehemently deny it and asked if I had any questions which is where I asked about how he’d want to handle press inquiries or any contact forwarded from the public, since both of those things fell in his role as a government official and therefore my duties were to assist. I generally played my role as a “I am here to do X and I will” but I also limited contact where I could and colleagues and I basically came up with a buddy system the best we could.

      In the former case, it got so bad that several employees had to sue for retaliation since he withheld reviews for anyone who confirmed accounts to HR. A settlement happened years later. I transferred to a new job in the same employer but different office, which eventually found me promoted up to the assistant role in the latter case. I left that job and the agency and the location of the government in the end. Bad vibes all around.

  36. brainbetrayal*

    Does anyone have any job-hunting advice for someone struggling with strong depression? I have been trying to search/apply for jobs without feeling intense hopelessness and finding it extremely difficult; my self-worth is incredibly low right now and I am not enthusiastic about my field, but I need something to pay the bills. Has anyone experienced something similar and if so, how did you get through it? did anything you read/watched/heard help? obviously therapy would be the first option but that’s off the table for now.

    1. Decidedly Me*

      Find a reasonable goal that you can stick to. It’s not the whole big thing you need to do, but instead – you need to apply to just 1 job a day (or whatever goal makes sense).

      Sending my best!

      1. brainbetrayal*

        Thank you! I think the goals I have been setting so far haven’t been manageable or clear enough for me, then I start berating myself for not meeting them, then I get exhausted and give up…etc etc. I think I need to reset my expectations of what I can manage in a week.

    2. cabbagepants*

      sometimes it helps for me to imagine myself as a conduit. I imagine unpleasant tasks for through me without getting their unpleasantness on me. So for the job search, it would be about sending in applications in the same detached manner I would scrub the toilet.

      1. brainbetrayal*

        This is something I definitely need to work on. I take everything way too personally, and intellectually I know it’s probably not personal but in the moment I become overwhelmed and forget all good sense.

    3. honeygrim*

      I don’t have a lot of advice at the moment, but I want to send my sympathies. I actually got my current job during a serious bout of burnout-related depression. The only reason I even applied to it was that it didn’t require a cover letter: I had so little self-worth I couldn’t figure out how to market myself in a cover letter. I got really lucky that my resume and application was enough to move me forward, which in turn boosted my self-confidence enough to get me through the interview. I’m still struggling with “imposter syndrome” and self-worth issues here, but I’m away from the awful environment that tanked my emotional health.

      Based on my experience, I would suggest that if you can break down any position descriptions you’re looking at and write out how you meet the requirements/needs, point by point, it might help you get over any “I can’t market myself” block you may be having if you’re struggling to write a cover letter the way I was. I realized after I applied that the very complicated application I had to fill out was, essentially, my cover letter: the questions were structured in a way that my responses would have been what I put in a cover letter, at any rate.

      Wishing you luck!

      1. brainbetrayal*

        I am no longer physically in the environment that had a role in tanking my emotional health but I am having a really hard time letting it go and moving on. I am still carrying around a lot of the negativity from that job and it really made me lose hope that there are better places to be, and that I deserved to be there. I certainly empathize with the self-worth issues, and hope that your new environment is healing!

        I’ll try this approach to cover letters as well. Thanks!

    4. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Applying for jobs after a full scale nervous breakdown and having lived with major depressive disorder for over 30 years here but you have my full support for what I know seems like climbing Everest with broken limbs and asthma.

      What I did, because I could not be enthused about anything, was:

      1. Get a 10 or 15 minute egg timer or stopclock on the phone or whatever. That was my set amount of time per day I’d put aside special for job hunting. Small portions made it less terrifying.

      2. Those 15 minutes could be extended or shortened depending on how I felt that day. Important bit was a schedule locked.

      3. What I searched for depended on the day. Some days it was entry level IT, others it was the more senior level that I actually am.

      4. Rewarding self for having done even a tiny amount is important. I watched the whole of Babylon 5 over that period. Twice.

      5. Likewise, not punishing yourself for missing a day/time slot.

      Basically it’s all about starting a routine, even if it’s just a couple of minutes with a search engine at 3:10pm on day one. That’s fine, you’ve achieved a search.

      The hardest thing with deep depression is finding motivation to do anything at all. But by rewarding self for doing even a tiny step toward it at first and then trying regularly you find the time increases and the results start to show.

      (I went 4 months without brushing my teeth during my worst period. That was how incapable I was of doing anything)

      1. brainbetrayal*

        Oh man depression is awful, isn’t it? I’m sorry you had to go through that and I hope things are better for you.

        Thanks so much for this helpful advice! finding motivation is such a challenge; I have a tendency to dissociate when things are stressful or boring or depressing (basically everything my job search is) so perhaps a better reward system would help. I’ve never seen Babylon 5 but it looks good!

    5. ferrina*

      Set a minimum expectation (seconding commenter Decidedly Me). At one point my goal was 2 applications per week (I had a fulltime job and two small children). Once I hit that goal, I stopped. If I was super motivated I might do a third application, but unless I was SUPER EXCITED! the answer was no.

      Make core materials that are Good Enough. Make a Good Enough Resume. Make a Good Enough Cover Letter. When you don’t have the bandwidth to customize things, send the Good Enough things and be proud of yourself. I also like having a Master Resume that is 4 pages long with a gazillion bullets that I then pare down to the ones most relevant to what I’m applying to. It’s easier to cut material than create material. Same with cover letter- I have six pre-written paragraphs highlighting six different skills, then I pick 2-3 for each cover letter.

      Set a routine. On Monday you look at job postings and pick three things to apply to. On Tuesday you do one application. On Wednesday you take a break. On Thursday you do another application. etc.

      Set time for mental health/things that bring joy. You should not be thinking about your job search all the time. If the brainweasels try to tell you that things that bring you joy are a waste of time (my brainweasels do this to me), remind yourself that happiness is actually an investment. Numerous studies show that happiness increases productivity, creativity and successful interactions. Investing time in joy is actually contributing to your job search.

      Treat the depression. Keep moving toward treatment, one step at a time. For me, meds helped. My regular doctor was about to prescribe me anti-depressants when I had a bout of MDD. It’s not a silver bullet, but it gave me back a little bit of energy which helped me over the hump.

      Accomplishment journal. When my brain got itself trapped in a cycle of derision, I noticed I was constantly pointing out things I didn’t do and ignoring things I did do. In order to counteract this, I started a journal where every night I listed things that I did do. No Didn’ts allowed. Every accomplishment counted- doing dishes was a big accomplishment. This practice helped retrain my brain into a new thought pattern (it took a few months). Your neural pathways tend to retread familiar paths- if you find yourself in negative thought patterns, you may need to retrain your brain to tread new pathways (like cognitive muscle memory).

      Good luck! We’re rooting for you!

      1. anonymous person who also has depression*

        I lost two jobs in a row and just got out of it, here are some things that worked for me. Feel free to take or leave what is best for you. Sending solidarity and best wishes, hang in there.

        I found using/expanding my support network helpful. I found other unemployed people on linkedin in my industry through groups and vented to trusted friends which made me feel less alone.

        I attended a bunch of free webinars in my industry, something I didn’t have as much time for when I was employed. It made me feel more engaged with my industry and ones where you can chat with other guests can sometimes help with networking, too. It was good to have something positive where I could learn something new to contrast the draining aspects of job hunting and rejections.

        I did attend one in person networking event when things started opening up after the pandemic. It was hard to get out of the house but I also wanted to start practicing talking to real people in case I ended up with an in-person interview.

        Make a list of accomplishments, even if it’s just “I got out of bed today,” or “I read through a job listing that looked like a good fit” Checking things off helped me feel a little better.

        Taking breaks and being kind to myself helped, too. I took advantage of free/discounted museum days to get out of the house, went for walks, etc.

        Without getting into actual medical advice on what you should or should not do, if you are being treated medically, it might be worth considering evaluating if the treatment you have is still working. For example, I recently was feeling more stuck than usual and ran it by my dr. I was on the same treatment plan for many, many, years, and it *just* occurred to me I have the option to step back and see if it’s still the best one for me instead of my depression brain making me feel like there’s nothing more that could be done. I did end up tweaking my own treatment plan a bit which has been helping so far.

        1. brainbetrayal*

          Thanks for sharing! museum days are a good idea. I hadn’t considered webinars before, but it’s a great idea for staying current when you’re searching for a job.

          1. anonymous person who also has depression*

            You’re welcome! I really liked webinars because it made me feel more like I was when I was working, kind of like going to a work meeting, and gave me something to look forward to.

      2. brainbetrayal*

        I love the idea of good enough! seems much easier to achieve than ‘amazing’. I have been depressed for many years so my poor neural pathways must be very mixed-up. It gets to that point where it’s almost a pleasure to descend into a shame spiral, because it’s so much easier than fighting it and trying to think about yourself in a different way. I had some adverse side-effects from meds so I am not currently on any, but I am looking at getting back into therapy.

        thanks for all the great advice! the schedule is super helpful (for some reason I can never adequately set my own).

        1. anonymous person who also has depression*

          That reminds me, try to limit the time you spend on linkedin if you use it. I needed to use it for job hunting, but everyone else’s posts either felt like they were having amazing jobs “at” me, or like you’re some kind of total loser who will never get a job if you’re not an influencer who looks perfect all the time and has a million followers etc. It’s not true,and I know that, but it’s easy to get sucked into it when you’re looking at it all day. Linkedin is good for finding jobs but their business model needs more people to share content for its self fulfilling prophecy. Also why it’s good to take breaks.

    6. Past Lurker*

      Same boat. Currently at lunch break, trying not to cry. I plan to take the advice given so far here!

      1. brainbetrayal*

        Oh man sorry to hear that! I hope you find a better position. I think I’ve cried more in the last several years than I did when I was a kid. I cried in the car earlier. I cry on walks, in bed, in the shower, reading, eating, doing yoga. The list of places I haven’t cried would be very short.

  37. Meg*

    I’m in staff in academia and just got notice what my annual raise will be– 1%. Frustratingly enough *every* staff member gets this and there seems to be little to no way to try and get more, despite me truly busting my ass this past year. Has anyone in academic staff ever talked to someone (Who? HR? My boss doesn’t have control over my raise) to get a higher increase?

    I really don’t want to leave my position as I like my job, colleagues and benefits, its just that the pay is always lagging.

    1. CapyBarbara*

      I wish I had advice here, but I’m in the exact same boat. I haven’t bothered speaking to anyone because it’s way out of my boss’s control and Main HR is never helpful.

    2. Academic Minion*

      At my academic institution, the only way for non-teaching staff to get a pay raise other than the small (1-2%) cost of living increase that everyone gets, is to either (1) get a promotion* or (2) have HR do a review of baseline pay for similar positions in the area and find that the baseline pay they are currently using for internal pay rates is too low.

      *Promotion here means either move into a new-to-you but already existing position, or argue that your job has shifted such that more than half of your job is now new, higher-level work not currently reflected in your job description, such that your job description needs to be reworked and it is effectively no longer the same position.

      I have done the latter type of “promotion” because my job is in IT and roles naturally shift around quite a bit. I started by mentioning it to my manager, but then talked with my skip-level manager since he has more info on how all of this works at my institution.

    3. Enough*

      Unfortunately many higher education institutions are hurting from the pandemic. They spent a lot of money they haven’t been able to recoup so their reserves are limited . And with enrollments down they are having trouble covering ongoing costs let alone rebuild the reserves to cover future emergencies and improvements to attract/retain current students.

    4. JS*

      No advice just that I know how that feels- you could get a 4/5 here and barely get 1% and then in years where the University is perpetually broke, you get nothing. I even got re-classified once and barely got anything other than more work. :( I’m sorry.

    5. Bexx*

      My company did 1-2% raises this year, with 3% for extremely high performers who are also promotion-ready, but we don’t have approved positions to move them into. Our budgets this year are extremely tight, so leadership had to decide between small raises or layoffs. They opted to preserve headcount.

    6. Pamela Adams*

      My union based university has “in orange progression,” where you can argue for a raise based on your expapNded/improved skill set. Unlike a bonus, it’s a permanent part of your salary.

    7. Random Academic Cog*

      If a reclassification isn’t justified, we often use “additional duty” raises – not a promotion, but some responsibility or task that justifies an additional job duty on the position description and reallocation of effort (new duty is usually 5-10%). We’ve added things like backup for a separate (but related) program that had only one staffer and recurring participation in institution-wide teaching or service roles. We also get an automatic percentage for earning specific field certifications. They tried to put a stop to certification raises at a lean time and had to back off because 1) massive pushback since it was one of the few chances to increase pay outside COLA or “merit” (never both in the same year, neither some years, and largest increase in 20 years was 3.5%) and 2) people started refusing to get certified which impacted accreditation. These, along with an HR desk audit or equity review as someone else suggested, are all options to check into – but only pursue one at a time. I’ve had my staff hold off on certification for another year if it looked like one of the other ways to get a raise would go through because HR/finance/both will say it was “rolled into the increase” if it happens in close proximity.

  38. Dr. Doll*

    Is there a new practice emerging of using they/them pronouns for everyone who has not actively specified something else?

    My team members have started saying things like “Camille sent their item” or “John said they wanted” when Camille and John have not put pronouns in email signatures or zoom names but in conversation it’s clear that Camille is she/her and John is he/him.

    What is the best practice if someone hasn’t specified?

    1. ina*

      This has been my default for years and others, too, I think. Whenever the 3rd person I am not talking about isn’t there, they’re always a “they/them/their” — I think my brain finds it clearer. If they’re in front of me, I wouldn’t use it unless it’s their pronouns.

    2. Zephy*

      Singular they/them when the gender of the subject is unknown or unspecified is several hundred years old at this point, so no, it isn’t a new thing in English generally.

      Using they/them for a known subject that just hasn’t specified another set of pronouns is newer, and it’s a kind of overcorrection. “They” isn’t any more correct for someone who uses exclusively he or she than the opposite pronoun is – if “he” is red and “she” is blue, “they” isn’t purple, it’s yellow.

      If someone hasn’t specified and it’s generally part of the company’s culture to do so, simply asking the person “what are your pronouns?” is a fine way to do it. You can do it privately, no need to call Camille or John out in the middle of a team meeting or in a public chat channel. If it’s not a well-established part of the culture, then step one is creating a culture supportive of respecting employees’ reported identities regardless of how well those identities match up with the dominant culture’s norms and expectations. If that’s not possible, step one is to let it go as long as everyone understands what is being said. If saying “Camille sent their item” is actually creating confusion you can ask clarifying questions.

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        This. I have seen a few examples of people using “they” in an attempt to be inclusive but actually just misgendering the person – the cases I noticed were a bit pointed because (for example) my “John” is trans and uses he/him pronouns exclusively, so they-ing him could land badly.

        1. allathian*

          They-ing him would be misgendering him, so I hope you can push back on that. Maybe you could ask John to specify his pronouns in his email signature?

          I’m a cis woman, and if anyone they-ed me, I would take offence. I’m fat, haven’t worn any makeup in years, and dress as frumpy as I can get away with at work because I don’t really care about my appearance all that much. I’d be very offended if that made me into a sexless “they” and disqualified me as a woman.

          1. amoeba*

            Hmm, I guess the point here would be that you wouldn’t want to assume anybody’s preferred pronouns if they haven’t specified them? Which for me would be different from consciously misgendering somebody whose pronouns you do know.
            Can definitely see how assuming “but it’s obvious from the way he/she looks!” could play into cis-normative stereotypes…

    3. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      I don’t know if it’s best practice or not. Seems reasonable to do, though.

      Related, the use of singular they has been around for a long time (apparently since the 14th century?? According to a quick internet search). Personally, I think it was in common use well before we started being aware of it.

  39. Mid-West Nice*

    What should I ask for assuming I take a temporary assignment out of my home office at a location about 5 hours away?

    My role is a Program Manager.
    I am being asked to support our Manufacturing facility that is about a 5 hour drive from home. They are asking I be there at least 2 days week for the next 6 weeks.
    The role I am doing would be leading the team in the plant while also supporting the overall project in the home office.
    I am expecting a company vehicle for driving and company paid hotel.
    I am thinking of asking for an extra comp day to make up for the extra travel time.
    Anything else I should ask for?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      meal per diem. You’re going to be in a hotel, not an apartment, so you’ll be spending more on food.

      you should also make sure that you’re going to have good wifi evverywhere so you aren’t paying a surcharge for data on your phone.

    2. Goddess47*

      If you don’t get the comp time for travel, travel on company time. So if you need to drive 5 hours, start driving at 8 am on a workday and when you get there, you get there. Do your 2 days and then drive back during work time. If you have to work on Friday, you have to finish up by noon so you can be home by ‘quitting time.;

      Think about whether you want a separate work phone. Yeah, it’s a hassle to carry 2 phones but keeping the streams separate is worth it.

      And a second vote for guaranteed wireless access. A portable hot-spot can be worth its weight in gold, depending on where you will be located.

      Good luck!

      1. Stephanie*

        I’m usually visiting supplier facilities and am not on my company’s network, but the hotspot can be a lifesaver. Plant Wi-Fi can be spotty.

    3. Stephanie*

      Do you have a company card? Meals (if not on per diem) and gas can add up. Would ask for that just to have the company cover expenses.

      I’d sign up for the hotel chain loyalty. Probably can get some status after 10 nights.

      1. Stephanie*

        If you need PPE, ask if you can expense that. Maybe not a high-vis vest, but prescription safety goggles or safety boots aren’t cheap!

  40. honeygrim*

    I’ve been in my current supervisory role for about a year. One of my direct reports is a classic “earn and burn” leave user (EB). They’ve been known for this since before I started working here, but until recently I hadn’t seen this pattern, though they still call in sick more than some others. I noticed this week that EB has managed to coincidentally call in sick the first day of every pay period for the past five pay periods. My supervisor commented on EB’s pattern the other day, so she at least has noticed the uptick, and I’m guessing others have noticed as well.

    I hate micromanaging leave. I firmly believe that people’s medical needs are none of my business unless they choose to go the ADA or FMLA route. Even then, my responsibility is to work with them and HR to make whatever accommodations are deemed appropriate. But EB hasn’t taken the step of seeking accommodations, even when it was suggested.

    Since our department doesn’t have any desk coverage responsibilities, EB isn’t necessarily leaving anyone in the lurch by calling in. They typically manage to meet minimal performance requirements, so I can’t point to that as a reason for concern over the frequent call-ins. I know that if they didn’t call in so much they could exceed those requirements, but I’ve also seen that EB never tries to exceed the requirements, no matter what. They seem fine with only ever getting “meets expectations” on their annual reviews (honestly, I think EB abides by the Office Space “30 pieces of flair” philosophy of work). And if they’re fine with that, then I’m okay with that as well.

    So, basically, I feel like this is a problem, but I’m not sure how to communicate that to EB. I’m looking for advice for how to frame the issue in a way that EB will understand, or at least, that they won’t be able to easily debate. And if it isn’t a problem, then does anyone have advice for how to communicate that to my supervisor?

    1. sagc*

      You need to figure out *why* you think it’s a problem, because I don’t really see that in anywhere your comment.

      1. honeygrim*

        I think that is my problem. But my boss sees it as an issue, so if it isn’t, I need to be able to explain why.

        1. Academic Minion*

          There are lots of reasonable explanations for why they might be earning-and-burning sick leave with that pattern, most having to do with trying to manage an inadequate amount of sick leave for their personal circumstances. The ones that come to mind are:
          (1) They have regular appointments that would ideally be more frequent, but they can only take them when they have sick time, so they make appointments for the first day they have new leave accrued.
          (2) They end up burning out by working through some illness/etc every pay period because they’re out of leave and need the day as a true sick day.
          (3) They have a kid who is regularly sick, whose other parent takes most of the time off with them, but as soon as leave builds up they take their turn to give the other parent a break.

          Why does your *boss* see it as a problem? Is it because the employee never has any leave built up for emergencies? Is it because the employee is daring to use all their time? Is it because they are looking askance at everything this employee does because of their “just enough” approach to work? Is it actually impacting other employees?

        2. ecnaseener*

          How about “X days of leave is part of our benefits package and we can’t very well penalize people for using all of their benefits” ?

        3. Goddess47*

          Push the boss to quantify their unhappiness. Think of it as asking Allison for a script.

          “I know I need to talk to EB but I’m struggling with terms I can use that are business related. Can you help me with that?” If they can’t come up with business related issues, then maybe (but only maybe) they will see your dilemma.

          At the very least EB does their job. Not everyone wants to be a star and they’re only there for the money. Take it as a (relative) win. You obviously read here a lot and we’ve seen worse.

          Good luck!

        4. The New Wanderer*

          I agree with the others here – I think you’ll have to get your supervisor to lay out what exactly the work-related problem is. Clearly this pattern is working for the employee and it’s within their right to use earned benefits within the rules (which this seems to be). Without more specifics, the best you could do is let the employee know that your boss doesn’t like it. But if you put it back onto your boss, then maybe they can think about this more thoroughly.

    2. BellyButton*

      Are they going over their earned sick/PTO days? As long as they are meeting expectations and not going over their earned time, there really isn’t much to address. They are a bare minimum employee.

    3. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      I’m not able to understand why this is a problem. Basically, you are listing all the ways this isn’t a problem, but then concluding that it is a problem.

      This person, whom you should *not* refer to as EB, is using their benefits. They aren’t affecting their team. They aren’t failing to meet requirements. Suggesting they seek accommodations was wildly overstepping, so I hope that wasn’t you. There is nothing wrong with meeting expectations. It would be impossible for everyone to be above average, but that seems to be part of your thinking here.

      Your boss must not have anything important to do if this is how they spend their time. The way you communicate this to your boss is to explain that you’re fine with it and it hasn’t negatively impacted anything, which appears to be true from what you write here.

    4. Mermaid of the Lunacy*

      “It’s a problem” is based on gut feelings, not reality. Is the person probably not sick the first day of every pay period? Yes. But it sounds like this person is really good at staying juuuust over the line of what’s acceptable vs. what’s not. That might feel yucky, but there’s not much to be done about it unless the goalposts move. If your boss is looking for validation that this is a problem and what are you going to do about it, I’d just be honest. It feels off, but there’s nothing tangible to use against them because of all the possible ways that it could be legit.

    5. Ginger Baker*

      “It’s true that [X] is not a rockstar employee, but she meets all requirements and handles her work reasonably well. We need those kinds of employees, especially since rockstar employees are frequently going to look for promotions/to move on/etc. Plus, we really don’t want to develop the kind of reputation that we as a company penalize people for taking their earned benefits – that will be demoralizing to all our employees, not just [X] and obviously we do not want to suggest that people are not allowed to take their accrued time! :-) Of course, if [X] is ever not meeting requirements, I will follow up on that, but since that is not the case, we are all fine for now.”

    6. ferrina*

      Are you okay with just the basic?
      If it is okay to do the base expectations and not go above-and-beyond, there is no problem. This person is doing their job- no more, no less. Mentally resign yourself to knowing that that is what you will be getting from them. And that can be okay! At least they are consistent!

      Out of curiosity- what happens when you ask them to go above the basic? Do they step up? Do they help out the team? Or do they nope out and say “all I will do is the lowest common denominator”?
      I had one person who worked for me who was just there for the paycheck. She wasn’t ambitious and had no interest in moving up. But she was reliable and did good work. I ended up with a stretch project that I thought she’d do well on- I chatted with her and she accepted it and rocked it. She didn’t take it beyond what I asked her to do, but she did exactly what was asked and did a great job at it.

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        “Are you okay with just the basic?
        If it is okay to do the base expectations and not go above-and-beyond, there is no problem.”

        (Please note, I’m not the OP. Also, possibly off-topic)

        Huh, I’m having an odd reaction to this question. It reminds me of the humorous scene in “Office Space”, about not having enough pieces of flair. Like that scene, if the expectation is to go above-and-beyond, then the base *isn’t* actually the base.

    7. Random Academic Cog*

      Some interesting commentary here, especially the ideas on reasons this MIGHT be legit use of “sick” leave. For many years I burned through my (generous by US standards) sick leave and part of my annual leave to cover care for my special-needs kid and my own few sick days in an average year, but I agree this specific pattern would bug me. I think you put forth a pretty compelling case for why this isn’t an actionable problem right now. At the same time, I wouldn’t have much sympathy if this employee had a significant medical event at some point and had to take unpaid leave as a result.

  41. Butters*

    Any former accountants here? What are you doing now? I’m looking to leave the profession and move on to something else and can’t figure out what is next. I don’t need benefits and a flexible schedule would be preferable.

    1. Sandra Dee*

      I am a recovering accountant. I was in general accounting and finance for 20+ years. I was able leverage my technical skills that I developed over those years of implemeting new finance applications, budget systems, and other product implementations, I am now and IT Manager for Financial Systems, and have been for almost 10 years. I like being able to call on my financial background and knowledge, and work with our technical team to deliver the results that the business is looking for. The business likes knowing that the person guiding their impletations understands their processes and being able to communicate with the IT team is an unusual skill set.

      Prior to becoming a manager, I was a Business Analyst, and my main roles was to write requirements for current and new applications, plus testing and then training end users. Another co-worker of mine moved from an Business Analyst role to our Learning Solutions group, and she now trains all of our new users on how to use our financial applications. This is a large fortune 500 company with over 250,000 employees.

    2. Itty Bitty Petty Tyrant*

      Do you have any interest in doing something accounting adjacent or are you looking for a total departure?

      I work with a lot of SBA small business loan originators associated with banks, and they’re all going crazy these days. Interest rates have had no discernible effect on the demand for 7a loans. Consequently, I’d think there’s a lot of openings in this field. Despite this volume of activity, most seem to have pretty flexible schedules and work from home.

      It’s a mix of number crunching, understanding and keeping abreast of the SBA guidelines, understanding the individual bank’s underwriting rules, lots of following up with borrowers, and some degree of hand holding. My take is that it’s difficult for them to balance the customer-facing, sales-ish role with all the less visible, behind-the-scenes work. I’m probably only see a portion of all that they do, and those that are good at this are very impressive. (And those that aren’t, aren’t. Plenty of the latter.)

      Whenever I tell them that they need an associate or a loan-originator-in training, they heartily agree, but then ask where such an individual can be found.

    3. Bart*

      Have you considered teaching accounting? We are always looking for experts who want to help the next generation while having a much more flexible schedule (although the salary will likely be lower given the typical 9 month contract and higher ed salaries).

  42. Salted Caramel*

    Looking for some help and support with how to position yourself for a promotion.

    Context: I work for a mid-sized organization that is in the non-profit healthcare field. We have been growing and in the two years I’ve been here the org chart has shifted dramatically at least once, we’ve also merged with several other organizations and people who were administrators of those orgs have assumed leadership positions within the org chart.

    Recently, there have been some shifts due to a leadership vacancy but nothing was posted internally and the new structure of certain departments were just announced.

    I’m currently in a fairly specialized role, but don’t want to be here forever and also want to position myself for advancement. Any tips on how I can let leadership know that I’m ready for a change and want to explore other options internally?

    1. ferrina*

      A few tips. I’m guessing that your organization is pretty dynamic (in good ways and bad) and that there isn’t a clear growth path with you. That was my experience at a similar place- sorry if my assumptions are off base!

      1. Identify some areas where you are interested in growing and how they line up with your organization’s goals. They probably don’t have a path for you, so you’ll need to forge your own. Find something that aligns with and supports the organization’s goals. Grow your own skills in this area- I’ve gotten onto some really interesting projects and even a couple roles just by being the go-to person with reputation of being really good at X who also understands company goals (ergo I can come up with new solutions with X that support company goals).

      2. Let your boss know. Tell them that you want to talk about what’s next in your career, and ask about how the team/department are looking to develop and grow in the next few years. It can really help if you come with a few ideas of how you can grow.

      3. Look for scaled growth. It won’t happen overnight. Look for something you can grow into that only takes a few hours of your time. Your boss is more likely to let you experiment if it has minimal impact on your work. Also let your boss know before you intersect with other projects/teams. There can be things going on in the background, and your boss may appreciate a head’s up (I had an employee who went rogue on a growth opportunity- I had to clean up her mess with a certain VP. She did not get independent growth opportunities after that).

      4. Be reliable and communicative. When you are forging your own path, it can make people nervous. When you know the stakeholders and communicate with them, it reassures them that your new skills and responsibilities aren’t coming to their detriment- you are there to help everyone grow together. When you bring others up with you and support others with your work, you’ll get allies and supporters (at a generally healthy organization). I’ve literally created a job this way- I was really good at solving other people’s issues, and they created a role that allowed me to do that.

      Good luck! Healthcare has a lot of interesting things going on right now- hope that bodes well for you!

  43. Lauren*

    I work in a call center (I started in February) and our call volumes weren’t bad at all. Starting in April they’ve ramped up to a ludicrous degree and I barely have any down time anymore. I don’t know why hiring customer service reps takes so long because we need more people on the phones. Is this something I could contact HR about? My supervisor and team lead don’t really know how to answer those questions.

    1. WellRed*

      No. Hiring is difficult these days and no one wants to work call centers. Also, this would be wildly inappropriate of you to do.

      1. ferrina*

        +1
        This is something your boss can pursue, but HR may be doing their best right now.

        I can’t tell if your work is setting unreasonable expectations, but if so, that is something to bring up to your supervisor. Don’t say: “This is unreasonable.” Say: “I’m struggling with X. I can do either A or B, but not both. What would you like me to focus on?” Their job is to help you set priorities when there is too much work.

      2. Alisaurus*

        This. If you’re not the actual hiring manager, it’s not your job.

        Also, if you bring it up to your boss, I’d be careful how you word “I’m struggling with X.” You say you don’t have a lot of downtime anymore. Were you using that to do admin tasks between calls or just relax? Your boss will probably be more receptive to the former and suspicious of the latter.

    2. Honor Harrington*

      The thing about call centers is that they WANT you be on the phone every minute. They don’t want you to have down time – down time means they have too many employees.

      You could ask your manager about how the current call volume compares to the yearly and seasonal averages. Maybe you are in a normal busy season, but wait 2 months, and you’ll have down time again. Maybe this is record busy season, which means they’ll probably try to hire. Or you might find out that the past 6 months have been much slower than usual, in which case you have to decide if the current activity level is something you can tolerate. If not, you will need to job hunt.

    3. Ally*

      When I worked in a call center (a phone line that gave medical advice), we weren’t supposed to have down time.

  44. Fatima M*

    In addition to my regular job task, I head up the DEI efforts at my smallish company. We generally recognized and celebrate things like Black History Month, Pride month, etc. I have had someone ask what we are doing next month for Italian Heritage Month.

    I’m conflicted. I don’t feel like the point of DEI is celebrating people who culturally are seen as white. I know Italian people have a unique history in America, but I just don’t feel like it’s appropriate to put the same energy into this that we do months for POCs and queer folks.

    Thoughts?

    1. pope suburban*

      I agree with you. It has powerful “But when is White History Month? When is Men’s History Month? Straight Pride Month?” vibes. And I say this as someone whose heritage is half Italian, half Irish, and who took a boatload of history courses in high school and college. I understand that my ancestors did not have the easiest time in this country- and I also understand that they weren’t anywhere near being enslaved or living under Jim Crow, and that I have never once in my life experienced any serious negative judgment for my origins. Hell, I don’t think even my grandparents were all that impacted by it. My maternal grandfather has some understandable grudges over off-color jokes and I absolutely consider those to be microaggressions (Not that he’d ever accept that framing, but…that’s another kettle of fish), but like…he was still easily able to have a career, a home, a family, all that. He wasn’t held back or shut out because he’s Italian-American. So yeah, I think it’s good and important to understand the history of where you live, but these things are not remotely equivalent. I also have the ick from this.

      1. Beth*

        Definitely! “No Irish Need Apply” is part of American history, but it’s *history*, not current living conditions. Even at its worst, it was still better than the cultures that *need* DEI inclusion today.

    2. Beth*

      Honestly, I would push back on it — for the reasons you’ve mentioned, and also because, as far as I understand, October is associated with “Italian Heritage” because of Columbus Day. NOT a good connection.

      I mean, I would rather celebrate Indigenous People’s Month in October. Do you think you could make a case for that?

    3. Busy Middle Manager*

      Does everything need a month? Can you just have nothing? Or a day? Or a week? Or a lunch or one hour optional lecture? Or a nice email with some graphics or design that makes it visually appealing and likely to be read?

      I can’t be alone in this, I’ve been getting burnt out from so many holidays and anniversaries and celebrations and they become obligations to robotically go through rather than things you think through. Especially when they last a long time. I enjoy the times of year when there is just nothing and I can do what I want and read what I want and don’t have to go to endless events that take away from other activities. Surely I am not alone in that. Sometimes I feel like things lose meaning if they’re happening constantly.

      I will somewhat disagree with you on your last paragraph though. I do think a huge amount of European history and culture completely gets missed. So much gets missed, just labelling it all as “Europe” since most American-European history is really only England and to a lesser degree France. Which ignores where many other Americans came from. You are correct in a way I guess regarding the “in America” context. But even with that, aren’t you ignoring the history of certain groups being considered non-white in the US, at least for short periods of our history? Can’t you do a brief blurb on that with some pictures from Ellis Island, and call it a day?

    4. Rosyglasses*

      Do you have a DEI mission statement as to what this role, work, department’s goals are? This is where I started – and it helped me head off the “why don’t we post about Flag Day and Easter?” conversations.

    5. mreasy*

      Oh hell no. I have no patience for the folks who are obsessed with how their Italian or Irish forebears were treated poorly. If someone wants to like, bring in Italian snacks to celebrate it, goody for them. But it’s definitely not for the workplace. And honestly the question sounds like it’s teeing up some sort of “reverse racism” claim but I am probably being too alarmist.

    6. Gondorff*

      Ooo this one has the potential to get very sticky, very quickly. I live in an area that’s really trying to steer away from celebrating Columbus Day and has faced fierce backlash from the Italian-American community over it.

      There are a couple of ways you can try to diffuse this. My personal recommendation would be to turn it back on this person and ask if they had something in mind. It could be that they’d be happy with a shout out in the company newsletter (or whatever you’ve got at your organization), in which case it’s frankly not a bad idea to start doing that for other heritage months/days/weeks as well since it’s a low lift. It could also be that they’re the kind of person who will claim racism if you don’t recognize Christopher Columbus’s outstanding contributions to this country (no comment). Either way is good information since it’ll help inform your next moves.

      But also, I think it’s completely ok to tell this person that your particular role is to highlight marginalized communities, and so any recognition of Italian Heritage Month wouldn’t come from the DEI side of things, but they’re welcome to put together something on their own.

      1. WestsideStory*

        This may work.

        Let whoever suggested Italian Month in the first place do the heavy lifting and come up with a plan. Steer clear yourself, it’s a no- win situation as someone, somewhere, is bound to be offended by whatever is cooked up.

    7. ina*

      Everyone has a unique history in America – Chinese Americans and Japanese Americans and Irish Americans and Swedish Americans and everyone who isn’t White Anglo-Saxon Protestant has been affected by varying degrees of Othering and their ability to pass. And all this is directly affected by anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism! I think this could be a great learning opportunity if done thoughtfully.

      You can use it as a way of highlighting structural racism in history, how tiered and “conquer and divide” it is, and then importance of uplifting the most vulnerable and marginalized voices. Because only when you uplift those voices will everyone be free. Intersectionality comes to mind here because even Northern Italians (paler skin, lighter hair and eyes) and Southern Italians (more tanned or olive skin, darker hair and eyes) had very different experiences that can’t really be equated.

      It would not the the heritage month they want, I think. Here is a page to start with Italian Americans solidarity with the civil rights movement: https://www.zinnedproject.org/materials/italians-who-fought-for-justice/

      1. pope suburban*

        I really like this approach, frankly. It’s an opportunity to educate people, many of whom probably did not get lessons on this whatsoever in school. I know I was very fortunate to attend an excellent school in a progressive town, and my teachers there did not shy from addressing racism and bias in American history. Even so, I learned so much in college history and sociology courses that reframed my entire world and mental map. It probably won’t be a comfortable experience, no, but at the same time people deserve the opportunity to learn so they can grow and avoid repeating the same mistakes themselves. Fundamentally, teaching people is a kindness, even if it’s going to feel shitty for a little while. It’s also the only way we will get better and make a better world.

      2. ferrina*

        My work did something DEIJ presentation where someone with Scottish heritage presented on the history of the Scots in America, including both discrimination against Scots and role in founding the KKK. It was an incredible presentation and I learned a LOT.

    8. Mouse*

      I don’t think this will be a popular opinion here, but…I don’t see a problem with this! To me, yes, the “E” in DEI means that more energy should go to communities that need support, but the “D” and the “I” point to celebrating everyone no matter what their background is. I think it’s important to celebrate our backgrounds and cultures, whether they’re minority groups in America or not. Plus, hey, work is hard. I’d rather err on the side of celebrating more things.

      1. WellRed*

        So you want to co-opt the meaning of DEI so some groups of people can eat official Italian pastries? Yeah, no.

        1. Mouse*

          I guess I don’t see how it’s “co-opting” DEI. Inclusion should apply to everyone, shouldn’t it? And diversity means bringing together a lot of people of varying backgrounds. Why can’t we celebrate them all? Yes, I 100% believe that most of a DEI team’s resources should go to lifting up marginalized groups and individuals, but unless the DEI team’s bandwidth is super limited (which would be a separate issue), I don’t see why that means it’s bad to celebrate the unique voices of everyone in the community.

          1. ina*

            The reason we need DEI is because not everyone is included and it’s supposed to be an equalizer. Italian Americans are not underrepresented in American culture – no one is excluding them or even modifying their historical role in the US. That is the key difference. DEI isn’t about celebration – it’s about acknowledging very hard truths about what our society is built on, how they affect the workplace, how your perceive the world, and how racism and bigotry affect people in all walks of life. The celebration here is not a “smile and eat cake” one – it’s an exhausting one. Despite all this, marginalized groups have managed to advocate for themselves and found solidarity with other groups to make advancements that allow them things that others take for granted…however, the systems that were used to persecute them are still in place and people need to be reminded of that because those systems are what we consider ‘normal.’

            When we start directing resources to groups that are already well-resourced, the irony is that this is where those funds end up staying and being amplified. It’s also funds and resources and bandwidth away from uplifting a lot of voices that need more spotlight than groups that are, again, not underrepresented in history books and culture. In more corporate terms, this would be akin to “mission creep.”

    9. CL*

      I grew up in a heavily Italian American community. I know some people who would ask this with a sarcastic attitude of “what about me” because they don’t support DEI. I know other people who would not understand that there is a difference from Black History Month. I think how you say no is going to depend on where the question is coming from. Can you ask they person why they think you should have Italian Heritage Month celebrations?

      1. Elsewise*

        On a similar vein, I’d ask them what they think should be included. If they just want to talk about how achkshully white people have it hardest, then you know they’re coming at it in bad faith and you can dismiss them entirely. If they want to talk about pasta and celebrate their culture, they might be well-meaning but this could be an opportunity to educate them about why we do other cultural celebrations like Black History Month and Hispanic Heritage Month. If they have genuinely good ideas about historical discrimination versus modern privilege (similar to the Scottish talk that ferrina mentioned above), it might be worth giving them a corner in the newsletter or an optional lunchtime seminar for the sake of interest, keeping them engaged, and sharing a bit about how whiteness is constructed and how anti-Italian sentiments from US history tie into modern anti-immigrant rhetoric. But I wouldn’t give them the full month celebration treatment, I just don’t think it warrants that.

        For the record, I’m Italian-American and Irish-American. My grandparents (and to a lesser extent, my parents) faced discrimination. It wasn’t the same as Jim Crow, slavery, Japanese Internment Camps, Native American genocide, or any number of other atrocities other demographics have faced. It still existed. At the same time, as an Irish-Italian-American in the US today, I am white. Just because not every person in my family tree has been treated with the same privilege doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist now.

    10. thelettermegan*

      My gut reaction was that Italian heritage month shouldn’t be an issue, but at the same time I realize it’s counter-intuitive, as heritage months are supposed to hightlight history that was activitely pushed out of text books.

      But at the same time, heritage months can often be more window dressing than a real DEI solution. Some people also struggle with the focus on the history part of it – if the annual celebration is simply a cold recitation of our worst times, led by people who are not in that community, your ROI on the whole exercise might end up in the negative.

      Add in the ongoing frustration with aligning Italian heritage with Columbus, someone who wrecked more than built, definitely wasn’t American, and probably wasn’t Italian either. For the sake of the many communities destroyed back in 1492, I would lobby hard for a new day and a new hero.

      But beyond that, I have noticed a difference between specific ethnic group celebrations and those that are motivated by hate. Healthy group celebrations bring specific cultural artifacts – unique culinary contributions, music, dance, personalities, etc, and a sense that everybody/anybody is welcome to participate. Usually when a group is trying to put together something reactionary, there’s a struggle to present anything that isn’t purely a statement of what the group is not. So the question on a heritage celebration is whether it’s giving everyone an opportunity to enjoy something that fun for everyone, or just being a show of force.

      Anyways, my advice is to push back on all the heritage months, and focus on more pointed DEI efforts like regular anti-harassment/sensitivity training. Beyond the Columbus day thing, I can’t see an issue with people organizing their own ‘heritage’ events, as long as it’s celebrating a specific community and not at the denigration of others.

    11. Emmers*

      Our company has an interesting approach. We have a DEI newsletter each month and we list out *all* of the holidays, national months, weeks etc but we only have events/celebrations for the communities who are experiencing discriminations now in 2023. So for Oct we would list out Italian Heritage month but host an event/speaker for Indigenous People’s Day.

    12. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      Where I worked, many years ago, besides the various events to acknowledge people/groups who fall under what is now DEI, we would have occasional (like every year or so) potluck luncheons where people were encouraged, if they wished, to bring in a food reflecting their own cultural heritage. it was fun and didn’t single out any one ethnicity.

  45. ConstantlyComic*

    More of a vent than a question, but my grandboss, who is generally considered pretty out-of-touch by people on my level, has decided to respond to complaints that staff is feeling underappreciated by management by putting up a bulletin board where staff can write positive things about other staff members. Naturally, management hasn’t touched the board beyond putting new slips on it, and staff has largely left it alone after an initial burst of notes, meaning that many staff members haven’t had any appreciation there at all.

    I have decent capital with my grandboss, and she has told me she values my insight “from the floor,” but I know if I were to talk to her about the board being a bad idea, she would ask me if I had any other suggestions, and I have no idea what to say, since she can’t really address the roots of staff discontent (our pay doesn’t really match cost of living in our area, but there are several levels between her and the people who make pay decisions, and she’s frequently off-site when she’s needed because she’s a single mother).

    1. ecnaseener*

      I think you can say people have noticed managers aren’t writing on the board, without saying the board as a whole is a bad idea. (Who knows if that’ll help or if it’ll just lead to the board filling up with obviously-forced insincere messages, but no skin off your back either way.)

      1. WellRed*

        This. I mean if the whole idea is to feel appreciated by management and management still isn’t doing any the board is pretty useless (it’s useless anyway but that’s obvious to us).

    2. ferrina*

      This isn’t your problem to solve. Anyone who is actually invested in solutions actively checks in on how successful the implementation has been. Anyone who doesn’t care and just wants the issue to go away will do something showy then ignore the problem, and if called out says “But I did the showy thing! I don’t understaaaaaaaaand!”

      Don’t waste your capital on a bulletin board. This is something she can easily figure out for herself.

      Side note- if I were you I’d be tempted to post miscellaneous sketches or memes on the board. Maybe a schedule of healthcare comedian’s next shows.

    3. JustaTech*

      If you want a suggestion of a way people can show support for their coworkers that at least has a small monetary component, you could try Bonusly.
      My company uses it and it’s an online message board where you can award your coworkers points as “thank yous” for stuff that doesn’t rise to the level of an official award, but you think it worth thanking them for. Then the points can be redeemed to gift cards to a ton of stores, or you can donate them to charity.
      Your points to give away refreshes every month, or you can spend the points you already have to buy more. The higher up folks are in the hierarchy, the more points they get every month.
      It does cost money and requires corporate buy in, but if you think your grand-boss would actually be open to something specific, it’s an option.

      1. ConstantlyComic*

        I really like that as a concept, but unfortunately I’m pretty sure our IT department would put the kibosh on it pretty much immediately.

  46. Anon for this*

    I recently started at a new company, and my boss is amazing. She’s a genuinely great manager and also very kind. A few weeks ago, there was a slight issue where a coworker played a prank that I didn’t appreciate (wasn’t mean-spirited or anything, I just didn’t find it funny). Boss noticed and made sure I was okay and (I think) spoke separately to Coworker. In a 1:1 later, she assured me I should let her know if there’s ever anything that makes me uncomfortable because she wants to be sure our team all feels supported at Company. Which is great.

    The thing is, 2 of my other coworkers seem to constantly talk about diet stuff/losing weight/cutting out meals or foods for “health” reasons/etc. And I have an eating disorder. I’m working on it, but having to hear coworkers who sit close to me talking about it regularly is really hard. I’ve tried jumping in and redirecting the conversation, making remarks about it probably not being the most helpful public conversation, etc, but nothing works. I’ve had to get up and leave my desk a few times (can’t wear headphones nonstop during my workday – although I’ve pointedly put on my chunky over-ear ones a couple times)… Part of me thinks I should ask my boss for help navigating it since she left that door open, but another part of me doesn’t want to reveal that medical info about myself to anyone at work.

    Any suggestions or advice?

    1. ecnaseener*

      You can mention it to your boss without revealing your eating disorder! Plenty of people don’t like to hear diet talk at work.

      Definitely ask her not to reveal that it’s coming from you though. If you get the sense that she handled the earlier issue well, without throwing you under the bus, then I would tentatively trust her to handle this well too.

      1. ferrina*

        +1
        If she reacts weird and demands a reason, you can say “a close friend of mine has an eating disorder. This is something that I’ve had to become acutely aware of.”
        You don’t need to mention that that friend is you. Definitely don’t out yourself if you aren’t 100% sure that she’s a good ally.

        1. Anon for this*

          Good points! I hadn’t thought of separating it like that. Guess I’m more aware of it just because of my situation.

    2. Former Retail Manager*

      Is there any way to request to move your desk away from these co-workers and perhaps cite a need for more quiet without mentioning the constant diet chatter?

      I say this without knowing your team/co-worker dynamic, and whether you need to actually work with these people/collaborate, etc. or whether they just happen to sit in close proximity to you, but your paths never cross. If your paths don’t cross, and likely never will, then speak to your manager. She sounds great.

      However, if you may need to work with these people in the future, I’d say try to find an excuse to move. At this point, I’m sure the boss has already talked to someone about the “bad joke.” To now have the boss speak to people about diet chat that is bothering you (they will likely know it’s you) risks your coming across as easily offended/precious and potentially ending up with a reputation as someone who runs to the boss about every little thing that you find offensive or bothersome. As the new person, this isn’t a good look. The joke was done *to you* so your unhappiness with that is understandable, but people having a conversation near year, that doesn’t include you, about a topic they have no way to know is bothersome to you is another matter.

      I’m not saying that perception is fair, but you should be aware that another complaint so soon after the first may cause people to change their perception of you.

      1. Anon for this*

        To clarify, I didn’t actually complain about the joke. I just took it in stride and figured I’d say something if things like that persisted. My boss happened to see it, noticed my reaction, and then talked to me separately to check if I was okay or if it had bothered me. Obviously no one knows I didn’t complain about it, but I didn’t actually.

        As the new person, I definitely am not trying to come in as a troublemaker – which is part of the reason I wasn’t going to bring up the prank to anyone. There’s a lot I like about this job, and I don’t want to cause problems. (But the diet talk is definitely causing problems for me.)

        The issue with moving is that we’re a small team that works in an open floor plan shared with other teams/departments. Moving my desk is not an option, and I can’t just go camp out in a conference room all day. Thankfully we’re hybrid, but the in-office days are full of diet talk almost nonstop.

    3. Choggy*

      You aren’t alone, I actually can’t wait for my cubicle neighbor to retire so there won’t be any more conversations around dieting (at least I am hoping, her replacement is a man) between her and her manager. The person doing the most talking (manager) is someone who has been on every diet and as soon as she loses weight, she starts talking it up, until she gains it back, then she’s quiet until the next one.

      Only 2 more years, only 2 more years…

    4. Jane Bingley*

      I would definitely encourage you to talk to your boss! You don’t need to reveal any personal information – just that diet talk makes you uncomfortable and you’ve raised it a few times but it’s continuing.

      If I were in your boss’ shoes that would prompt me to have an immediate conversation with the employee to say “diet talk needs to stop, immediately, and never return.” It sounds like your boss is very reasonable about making sure people are comfortable at work.

  47. Llama Wrangler*

    This is half vent/ half question… My boss is coming back from an extended FMLA leave next week, and I’m trying to figure out how /when / to what extent to fill them in on how demoralized I feel about my work right now. While they were out, there were a lot of internal changes that have resulted in us getting a pretty clear message that we will be expected to do more (and better) with less this fiscal year, or our jobs will be on the line. 

    Prior to this leave, they played middleman on a lot of interactions with my grand-boss and our C-suite which helped insulate me from some of the more stressful messaging, so it’s possible the pressure will lift a bit once they’re back – but I also think the fundamental reality is true (we lost staff, we will need to increase and improve our outputs to get more money in without replacing that staff, and if we don’t succeed this year our team may be eliminated).

    The other piece that is specific to me is that I have a project on my plate that is a stretch for me. I think I could do it well if it were my main focus, but it takes a lot of mental energy and the more other things that get put onto my plate, the harder it will be for me to complete it well because I won’t be able to give it the focus it needs. There’s not anyone else on the team who could do it, and it’s a new area of work for us, so we don’t have a clear measure of what success looks like, though I have some knowledge of what someone who was more expert than me would do well if they were doing it. And doing it better will make it easier for us to get more money in (but it’s not a 1:1 relationship.)

    As my boss is catching up, I think it’s helpful for them to know what is on my plate, what is going well, and what is challenging me. But I know that they’ll be asking me how I’m doing personally with all of the internal changes, and I don’t know how much of my stress, frustration, and worry to pass to them. At some point in the next 3 months, I could imagine telling them I’m in a place that is pretty close to burnout, and definitely would rather change jobs than work at 125% (time or energy) for the whole year to save this job. But what makes sense to share beyond just the work in the first couple of weeks? 

    1. BellyButton*

      I think you are just going to have them out to see how much and which type of information they are ready to receive and get. Depending on how long they were gone I would ask to set up 1:1s to get them caught up on certain areas– and make an agenda of topics you want to talk about. 1. Internal changes and impact to me and the team, 2. Workload and impact to project, 3. Burnout, 4. Uncertainty if the goals set are realistic.

      Good luck!

    2. ferrina*

      If I were your boss, I’d want to know. Definitely create an agenda (like BellyButton says), also to make sure you say all that you need to say. Try to give your boss a week before you need changes- they’ll be getting back into the swing of things.

      Also- update that resume and start a low-key job search. Even if it’s just 1 application per week. Start working on that exit plan. Where the top leadership is toxic, there’s only so much that middle management can do (I have way too much personal experience in that)

      1. Llama Wrangler*

        Thanks! I’ve only been in this role for a year, and before my boss’s leave (and before the changes), I really liked this workplace – it was a place I could have imagined staying for the long term… So I’m not quite willing to start looking yet – and I think if I can make it even 3 more more months before I start applying I’ll have a lot to say about my accomplishments in my current role that feel a little premature now.

        1. ferrina*

          That’s a good plan! I’ve made the repeated mistake of staying too long in places where they demanded I do more than my role. Just make sure you start the application process before you get burned out or infuriated.

          Hopefully your boss can be the buffer for you!

  48. Braggadoccio*

    One of my coworkers has a tendency to lie or exaggerate about non-work-related things, and I’m not sure what, if anything, to do about it.

    For context, this is someone that I am higher up than in the org chart, but do not directly manage or supervise. My office is situated near his cubicle, so I can hear most of his conversations. The employee (I’ll call him Brian) spends a not insignificant portion of his day talking to the folks in the surrounding cubicles, which I have no issue with as long as work is being done. However, for whatever reason Brian almost always punctuates these conversations with tall tales, urban legends, or just plain fabrications, including and especially things that are easily Google-able! Most recent examples from just yesterday: he talked about how he was almost late to work due to an issue with the train he takes, but the type of issue is something that would have been widely reported, and was not – but an identical issue happened over the weekend when he was not taking the train to work. Then he was talking about Mr. Rogers’ alleged tattoos from his military service, but of course this is an urban legend and Mr. Rogers was not in the military and did not have tattoos. He also stated with full confidence that Samuel L. Jackson was the mailman in Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, which is obviously not true. If I am involved in a conversation where he drops one of these little nuggets of nonsense, I correct him or tell him that I don’t think that’s correct, in which case he’s always joking, or just heard it somewhere, or gives some other excuse.

    I will fully admit that this is someone who I am bitch eating crackers about on a good day, but these obvious falsehoods drive me nuts, especially coupled with the fact that he tends to have a particularly man-splainy attitude about pretty much everything. Since I’m not his supervisor and the lies/exaggerations he’s telling aren’t work-related, I don’t feel like I have a lot of room to say anything (and what would I even say? Brian repeated urban legends about Mr. Rogers?), and the most obvious solution, to just close my office door and not listen, is unfortunately not a great option due to our terrible HVAC system (if my office door is closed for more than 15 minutes at a time, my office turns into a sauna). So if anyone has any suggestions, I’m all ears! Otherwise I’m going to just start collecting the worst of them and share them here for the sake of my own sanity.

    1. Mermaid of the Lunacy*

      My guess is that everyone knows that he’s ridiculous, and he’s seen as a bit of a cartoon character. Sometimes just knowing that others probably think a person is as ridiculous as you do alleviates the annoyance. I keep a notebook near my desk (WFH desk) where I scribble away whenever something frustrating happens. It helps! So yes, I think the idea of writing down the latest stupid story could help! Just make sure that paper is shredded and not seen!

    2. Busy Middle Manager*

      Just call him out on stuff! You can tell him it will hurt his credibility if people think he exaggerates everything (if you have the relationship to say that)

      That being said, I don’t know how trains are where you are, but I’ve definitely seen trains running with huge delays but the “official” version was that everything was running smoothly. So he could potentially be telling the truth with that example.

      1. Cordelia*

        I wouldn’t bother calling him out, just try not to engage in conversation with him at all. These are pretty minor things he is saying, it really doesn’t matter who he thinks was in a particular show, it’s not something you need to correct. Tbh, if I was a coworker having to listen to him, I’d also be getting a bit annoyed with having to listen to you jumping in to correct things and extending the conversation even further. You do seem to be at BEC crackers stage, and doing your best not to listen (headphones?) is probably the best you can do

    3. Goddess47*

      Well, you could ask Allison to have a “lies told a work” column and see if she does! And venting here is a time honored tradition.

      Can you wear headphones/earplugs to ‘mitigate the noise’ at all? Or run a fan to serve as white-noise to at least muffle the conversation.

      Although a casual “I don’t know if you’re aware, but sound travels and, yes, I know you’re getting your work done, but I can overhear your conversations in my office” might get Brian to at least take it elsewhere. Or give the colleagues the excuse they might need to shoo him away. (If it’s annoying you, there’s the likelihood it’s annoying at least one other person and your now giving them the excuse to say ‘hey, remember, Brag can hear you and you don’t want to annoy them.”)

      Good luck!

      1. ferrina*

        Seconding the headphones. This guy sounds painful, but if you are constantly interrupting and correcting conversations you aren’t involved in, it will make you look bad. Keep correcting him in the conversations you are in.
        Ugh, this sounds so awful.

    4. Tio*

      I had a coworker like that! So, some of us started walking around the building for exercise, and eventually he started doing the same. The first week he was doing it, he came back to his desk and told his cubemate he went around the building 4 times. Then, he went over to the copier a little later, and told a different coworker who was also over there picking up papers he did it 6 times! Literally just a few minutes difference. My desk was positioned between the two spots so I could hear both interactions, and it made me laugh inside. He already had a reputation as an exaggerator prior to this so it wasn’t surprising.

      You gotta learn to laugh about it because there’s not much you can do! it’s just a thing. Get a little notebook and write the funny ones down

    5. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      If he’s bothering you, he has to be bothering his other colleagues as well. If it were me, I’d ask the people who sit around him, privately/one on one, if they’ve noticed that his constant non work related chatter is distracting them or interfering with their productivity. Just because “work is getting done” doesn’t mean that this isn’t an actionable problem. If he’s hurting his team’s morale, it needs to be addressed with his manager. And as someone who’s above him in the chart, you probably have standing to bring it up with his manager.

    6. Generic Name*

      I suddenly feel better about the engineers in the cubes near me who love to have conversations involving a lot of bravado about how much they know and how smart they are. :) I just use my earbuds when it gets too annoying.

  49. pope suburban*

    Just some work-related anxiety today. I applied for a job that’s a perfect match for my incredibly-weird, incredibly-varied background (December 2007 grad, so…I did A LOT of temping after my great paid internship evaporated along with the rest of the jobs in December 2008). The culture there seems really great and healthy, I genuinely like everyone I’ve met so far, and it would be the first job where I’m not doing horrible front-desk things (I know that work needs to be done, I just hate doing it and it makes me anxious/sad/mad/tired). I think I did well in the interviews, and I came prepared. I really, really need this. I’m so scared that it won’t happen, and that I will be stuck struggling financially at a precarious job that I hate. I know I would be great there, I know the job is exactly what I’m looking for because there is a defined promotion track, I know I could build a real life out of this. I’m just so scared after so many ghostings, rejections, and jobs that turned out to be total dead ends. I’m going to be on pins and needles all day probably. I want nothing more than to be a Friday good news story, because I used everything this site recommends to showcase myself and follow up. Argh!

    1. pope suburban*

      I did it! I got the job! Thank you so much, Alison, for hosting this site and writing so many great articles about how to get the job. Unsurprisingly, the follow-up email was a big point in my favor. The hiring manager called that out specifically during the offer. I think my resume was a good enough match as it was, but taking the trouble to do the extra step in my own voice was the right call 100%. Aaaah I’m so excited I’m not in front desk territory anymore! I get to do interesting stuff! I have a role with a clear path forward for the first time!

        1. pope suburban*

          Yeah, I was expecting they would call later in the day, because that’s when they’ve tended to get to interview- and hiring-related things. But I knew it was going to be today, since they were looking to hire someone this week. One thing I really appreciate about them is their transparency during the process. They are in the process of expanding and while they didn’t want to be hasty in hiring, they need someone sooner rather than later, and left me with a very clear picture of their timeline. I’m accustomed to looking for red flags in interviews, but this time I made sure to note green flags too. They’re flexible without being wishy-washy, they’re willing to train, they are concerned with people being able to be genuine at work (and not in the creepy “be your whole self” way, but like you don’t need to be a robot), and they’re forthright. I’ve definitely got the pre-job nerves, but I know that’s normal, and it’s coming from within, not because the job has given me any reason to worry.

        1. pope suburban*

          Thank you! I know that reception work needs to happen, but I have simply never been temperamentally suited to it. I’d hoped maybe I’d get used to it, but I haven’t really, and between that and the shift my administration has made to a more corporate service-industry expectation (Not dissimilar to the restaurant supervisor in Office Space; we must be perky and take abuse and so forth), it has been really getting to me. I hope that things change for the better for whoever takes this role after me, though I admit my hopes are not high.

      1. Josephine Beth*

        Congrats on the new job! I know it’s such a feeling of relief to know that you can use your skills and do new, interesting things!

        1. pope suburban*

          I am especially excited about that. I’ve never come into a role that has a clear, defined path before, but this one does. Most of the people in the organization started as educators and moved into other roles as the need became apparent. The finance person did that, and he’s the person I would be intended to succeed; the concept of actually getting on-the-job training is foreign to me and very exciting. He’s actually got a similar background to mine in that we both have English degrees and somehow ended up in numbers. That was a big green flag to me that they care about aptitude and experience, and ability to learn, rather than being rigid unicorn hunters.

      2. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

        You did it!
        Congratulations on your new job. Now you can thrive and progress, doing the work you enjoy.

  50. Arya Parya*

    I’ve finally reported my terrible manager for being a terrible manager. In June my colleague left because of him and it was stressing me out more and more. I’m his only direct report He doesn’t communicate or plan anything. I basically manage myself at this point. I see myself heading for a burn-out if this doesn’t change.

    So now I have reported it and they seem to be taking this seriously. HR is going to bring this to him next week. I’ve also suggested I would be fine with getting someone else as my manager and they are open to that idea.

    I’ll see how he takes it and if it damages our working relationship, but I this point I no longer care if it does. Something needs to change

  51. Jill*

    How do y’all find the right balance between mentoring new employees in your section and feeling like you’re answering too many questions from them? We have a new person in my group and I feel like he asks me anywhere from 1-4 questions a week that require me to get into his case files and have at least a 5-15 minute conversation with him each time. On the other hand, I don’t know how much he’s going to other people, so for all I know he’s making an effort to spread around his questions. He’s good natured when I have to say that I’m in a meeting or don’t have capacity, but it still cuts into my workday and I’m trying to feel out an appropriate boundary there.

    1. Eng Girl*

      I scale my expectations and try to keep track of what they’ve asked me for assistance with before. So if it’s the first couple of weeks, I’ll answer anything and everything without thinking twice. A month in and I start to pick up on patterns that show things like a lack of critical thinking vs a new task. I also try to remember that while task A and B might seem really obviously similar to me to a new person who doesn’t have context they could be wildly different.

      It’s also worth talking to your manager about what level of help they want you to give the new employee as you mentor them. Like do they want you to actually dig in and walk them through things or do they want you to point them towards other available resources? If you haven’t been specifically assigned this person to mentor it’s all good to loop your manager in so they can let you know if they want information about the employees progress.

      1. Jill*

        A big issue is that this person has a mentor but he’s departing, and I’m semi-new as well (but with more experience) so I won’t be assigned as a mentor anytime soon. That’s a good point about picking up on patterns. A lot of times unique or nuanced issues come up in our work, so through that lens since he’s never seen *anything* like this work before all his questions make sense. I’ll start keeping tabs on how many repeat questions I get but so far I haven’t seen any.

        1. Eng Girl*

          Based on this I would definitely talk to your boss! It can be a quick and matter of fact conversation. “Hey, with Barbie leaving, Ken has been coming to me with his questions. I want to know how much of a role you want me to take in training him.” If it’s true you can mention that he asks good questions and seems to be learning or something so your boss doesn’t think Ken’s doing a bad job. It’s also worth making your manager aware of the time commitment from you and how that’s going to affect your own productivity.

          Overall it sounds to me like Ken is just trying to feel his way through a transition period.

    2. Thunder Kitten*

      Less than 1 question a day that take 5-15 min each doesnt seem that horrible for a new employee. Unless I’m missing something.
      Does he retain what you tell him ? Show evidence that he is trying to do it solo before asking others ?

      If so, consider it an investment in your new colleague. Everything you teach him will make him a better part of your team, and thus make everyone’s lives easier in long run.

      1. Jill*

        We’re only able to work 40 hours per week, so him taking 1 hour per week, half a day per month, 1 full day of every two months isn’t insignificant for me, that’s the main reason I ask.

        1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

          1 hour out of 40 per week seems very moderate to me, but I suggest you mention this to your manager to check that this is the amount of time she wants you to invest in helping them.
          (She might even suggest more!)

    3. A Simple Narwhal*

      I could be way off but from what you said he’s only asking for 5 minutes to one hour of your time each week, that doesn’t seem like too much time to put into assisting a new colleague? It will probably wane too as he gets more seasoned.

      But if it’s taking a lot more time than that, or he’s not new enough anymore that he should require this help, or you just don’t have the capacity to do this, I would say something to your manager. It couldn’t hurt to say something anyway even if the impact is minimal: “I’ve been helping Percival lately with questions he may have – I’m happy to do it but just a heads up that it does take time out of my day/week so I won’t be able to do X” or something like that just to point out that this is a work task that has been added to your plate.

    4. Ginger Cat Lady*

      That looks like it’s less than an hour a week. If mentoring him is part of your job expectations, then that’s not too much at all.
      He’s new. He’s learning. It’s very, very likely that over time the questions will be fewer and far between.
      Honestly, I do not think this is a problem at all. New employees need support, not “boundaries” from people who are supposed to be their mentors but complain about <1 hour a week.

    5. Hands*

      Can’t speak to this other than to say I was going to post about a similar problem I am facing with a temp employee. I have another one, who needs much less hand holding. We have the budget for four more months and work we get out of the temps is considered a bonus. The new temp is very sociable, so I feel like the perception if I let her go when anything we get from her is a bonus is a consideration. At least there is an end in sight.

      I’m sharing more what I’m doing in hopes to other can chime in and help both of us.

      It’s more like 15-120 minutes most days for me. She comes from an environment where speed is prized over accuracy and an expectation that she can drop by and ask questions when she is stumped. I think that has made her pick up the habit of asking questions to complete tasks quickly rather than pausing and doing some critical thinking.

      One of the problems is that 80% of the questions she asks are either irrelevant (e.g., why are some coffee pots pink when the assignment is to inventory different types of teapots), repeats of what she has already asked, or in the instructions with pictures. She likes being around people, so she defaults to discussing everything in person rather than sending requested updates in emails. I try to model more via email, but also something to point to when the answer is the same. There has been some improvement, as it was probably 90% two weeks ago, but the frequency and nature is still taking up more time than it did with the other one.

      There’s less dropping by, but it’s shifted to prolong sessions when reviewing her work to ask similar questions. I had her shadow the other temp in case it was due to how I was training or delivering information, but similar patterns emerged (and the irrelevant questions ended up derailing and confusing the better temp as he wondered if he’s been missing something important and ended up making more mistakes a few weeks after).

      I often ask her questions to have her think through problems, such as what do the instructions say or how would you search for the answer, and be most silent. This has prolonged sessions and she has a tendency to shut down when she says she doesn’t know off the top of her head. I admit that part of it may be her nerves, but she gives up trying to use the resources available too soon. I try to be empathetic and lower my expectations as a new job brings a lot changes (just with commutes and family schedules), though something isn’t working and things need to change. And it’s been more than a month at this point.

      We have weekly one-on-ones and I’ve noted the pattern and tried to outline the expectation to be more independent. Part of that involves making fewer mistakes. There’s some check-ins in the process, like tell Hands when you complete step 5 and the steps 7 AND 8. I’ve mentioned that we’ll start with inventorying a manifest at a time until she can follow the process with very little errors (an obvious typo sometimes happens if doing a lot of data entry, but her errors are more critical like missing counting how many green teapots there are) but I’m aiming for her to be able to do batches of three or four at a time like the other temp. It’s results in her mentioning when she finishes each of steps 1-4, but she skips to step 7 and then mentioned completing it in passing to the other temp.

      When I was in call, she went back to her notes and apparently figured it out, so I encouraged her to do that first in the future. I think it helped to have examples when I called out the pattern as well as calling back to it when it comes up again. I don’t think it’s really helping the quality of her work, more that she is telling she she is checking her notes when she has a question and then saying she can’t find it.

      1. Hands*

        I clicked submit in haste, sorry about that.

        Her checking her notes probably reduced repeat questions slightly for one task but not the other, though it’s still occurring more frequently than I would like even with task one. She seems to like a lot of reassurance, so I’ve tried to direct questions on having her think things through rather than just providing an answer. My goal is to figure out what is what she just isn’t understanding versus needing a nudge to show her that she has the tools to come to the right answer.

        It’s a mix of both. Unfortunately, the former will continue to be an issue as we will eventually complete the project and future tasks are more complex versions of what she is working on now. When it’s more the latter, she keeps asking, though seems flustered when she eventually figures it out for that specific scenario. It doesn’t seem to improve her belief that she has the tools.

        I’ve asked her about how she absorbs information and emphasized that I need honesty rather than what she thinks that I want to hear. There hasn’t been much other than our clunky inventory database is hard to use (yes it is, it’s not going to change while she is here, but her assignments are part of reconciling bad data making it hard to read) and she wants one sentence paragraphs in our manuals but all possible information about a scenario in said paragraph to not have to scroll up or down.

        It seems like she knows there is a lot of handholding, and mentions key things to work on from past one-on-ones, like timely communication, though there is a disconnect on what actually happens and how little she is improving. I think she wants to figure it out as well as the environment and that is clouding her judgment on if she currently has the tools to do the job to expectations even with all the hand holding.

        Admittedly, some of the issues may be better addressed by training not available to temps. This would likely minimize handholding involving skills like basic computer shortcuts like Ctrl+X and Ctrl+V (which blew her mind a few weeks ago and again on Tuesday) or tips on taking good notes rather than just taking notes to take notes. Still a lot of handholding, but other training would be available that frees up my capacity.

        As she only has four more months in the contract with the temp agency, I’m trying to improve the situation and keep my sanity. My patience is thinning and my battery is draining faster, so that might be the only way I can convince people that it’s not worth it to keep her. Though a lot of people feel sorry for her due to things happening in her life, so that may not be enough of a reason for key people. My manager would lean toward pausing some of my work to have the capacity to assist the temps as the extensions were unexpected and unlikely to occur in the near future.

        If she were permanent, I’d be looking at the PIP option at this stage of her probation period. Although she is trying and has a good attitude, her skills are not where they need to be and the improvements haven’t been as much as they should be considering the time commitment.

        Something felt off during screening and I knew I was in for at least some more handholding than the other temp by the end of the first week. At this point, I’m not really trying new things in hopes that encouraging her to work more independently, probing her understanding when she asks a question, and directly pointing to resources will help ground her enough to see a meaningful reduction number questions and the amount of my time while improving quality of work. Nothing has stuck so far, but maybe I’m not giving it enough time.

  52. Scooter*

    Today is my last day in this job. I had every intention of busting out of here at 3:00. My boss dropped a 4:30 meeting on my calendar.

    1. Beth*

      Did you have 3:00 as a confirmed time to leave for the day/week/rest of your life? Can you tell your boss that the scheduled meeting is just too late, darn it, cause you’re gonna be gone by then?

    2. Alisaurus*

      I’d imagine it’s a “close the loop” sort of meeting if this is your last day. Most of my prior managers have done the same thing. Could you ask to bump it up a little? “I actually have XYZ at the end of my day/was planning to leave at 3/etc. Could we move this up to 2:30?”

      1. That's me!*

        ha! I had that at a past job, if you have your check already, just bail – if you don’t care. My boss didn’t have much to say other than good luck.

  53. Thunder Kitten*

    I’ve posted before about my new manager sucking and not being sure if this was “new manager syndrome” or “your manager sucks and won’t change”. He’s not awful, but I’m at BEC mode with him which doesnt help.

    In any case, Ive been looking for options, and found an opportunity on a sister team. Reached out to my grandboss about that option, but was basically told “no”, on the premise that reorgs will be happening soon. I never got the chance to mention that manager sucks.

    Further conversation lead to the discovery that the team I would be moved is not the one I want to be on (it would push my career in a direction I don’t particularly want to go). I did mention that to grandboss, but she was legitimately surprised to hear that. Doesn’t mean she will change though.

    While unexpected career changes can sometimes be a great thing, I don’t think this one is. No question, just really demoralized – both by the boss and impending changes. I guess it is time to polish up the resume and start applying.

    1. DistantAudacity*

      Could you reach out to your grandboss again, to reinforce your message on your career direction and do more than just mention it?
      Since she was unaware of it and surprised in the moment, she would have been unable to respond directly but may be able to work something out given a little bit of time since then to actually consider it? Now is still the time to try to get those changes, before (presumably) everything is finalized.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      It’s never a bad idea to keep your resume up to date (I learned that the hard way myself) but I wanted to share a success story from my similar situation.

      During a reorg, I was assigned to a new (and new to me) manager. I knew it was a bad fit going in, which was confirmed by every interaction we had in the first month. Even before I officially started reporting to him, I brought it up to my soon-to-be-previous manager. She recommended a) finding a manager I did want to report to and getting them to advocate for me, and b) talking to grandboss about it. I did both of those things. Grandboss was initially willing to hear me out but non-committal about the change (I suspect he thought if it got out that one could escape awful manager by request, everyone would do so! Or that I should give it a chance, or any of the usual reasons not to mess with a reorg chart).

      But, I was able to make the case that the preferred manager’s group was more in line with my current experience and where I wanted to develop, and preferred manager spoke up for me too. None of the discussions really focused on awful manager’s shortcomings. (I mean, we all knew that was the reason but didn’t talk about it directly.) It took over a month, where I checked in with preferred manager and grandboss a couple of times, but it did finally happen.

      I remember how much it sucked though, not being sure that anything good was going to come of the situation. If I have anything to recommend, it’s that you have nothing to lose by trying again to propose a better team for you while the reorg is still happening.

  54. Cat's Meow*

    My workplace is extremely toxic and dysfunctional. My boss and managers run hot and cold. The smallest things set them off.

    When there’s an issue, the boss and managers talk about it with each other, yet won’t communicate with us about it. (You just hear about stuff through the grapevine.) They usually trash talk us very loudly.

    Stuff like this happens all of the time though with people backstabbing, gossiping, bullying, making fun of you to your face, blaming you for things, etc.

    I was sick and took a day off- my boss texted me asking if I’d uploaded anything to the database because there was a pricing error. She then asked me to send the last file of things that I’ve uploaded. My boss is paranoid though and thinks that I took the day off and was messing with the database or that’s why I was absent or I’m not really sick, etc. (I overheard her saying this/ranting about it.)

    I’m sick of their attacks and trying to defend myself all of the time.

    I can’t leave without another job lined up. How do I cope in the meantime?

    1. NotBatman*

      Something Alison recommended for waiting out a different toxic workplace: pretend you’re an anthropologist here to observe a situation objectively, and are supposed to have no opinions or feelings about it. Rephrasing the ridiculousness (and the horror) in your head can help you gain mental distance from it.

      At my past toxic job, part of what helped was typing out a lot of long vent emails to my sister. She didn’t have to read them all in detail, so it wasn’t as much of a trauma-dump. But I could get out my feelings, get a gut check on things really being that bad, and even get the chance to laugh at things that threatened to make me scream in the moment if she called back to go “your manager really claimed he couldn’t approve your raise because he had to ask the intern’s permission first?” then I could appreciate anew that I really was in bizarroland.

    2. ferrina*

      Like NotBatman said, mentally detatch. You can become an anthropologist, or Richard Attenborough (“observe the Manageria Toxicus in their natural habitat”). I used to pretend I was on a sitcom, or imagine the novel I would (and still might) someday write based on the outrageous behavior. Mentally, pull way, way back on the amount of foxes you give to work. Let those foxes go free to somewhere else that will appreciate them.

      I also stopped talking about work outside of work. For me, I had started talking about it all the time as a way to process. It began to consume all my time and conversational energy. My partner had been encouraging me to do this, I guess as a way to try to process everything, but it ended up getting my brain stuck at work. When I refused to talk about work outside of work, it helped my brain do more with the other things in my life.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        This is really important! It can keep you from dwelling on things.

        When I have been in a really toxic workplace, I also tried to avoid any entertainment that hit too close to home. (The reason I have only watched a handful of episodes of “The Office.”) Look for true escapism.

  55. The411*

    I’m almost out the door of a job due to burnout and am wondering your thoughts on going right into a new job versus taking time off to regroup and hopefully start to feel better. A lot, but not all, of my feelings of burnout were specific to the chaotic environment I’m working in and I kinda hope that once I finish next Friday that my spirits will improve. Financially I can afford to take a few months off, but my head has been turned by a few recruiters as I work in a pretty niche field. Experiences and advice welcome as ultimately I want to feel better and if that means taking a break so be it.

    1. BellyButton*

      I needed the time off in between my last job and this one to get my emotions in check. I didn’t even start applying for jobs until after the first month. I just needed to relax and get in the right headspace. I think if I had started interviewing right away I would have come across as really negative and cynical.

      When I got this job offer I still needed a bit of time and I asked for a 3 week start date. All in all, it ended up being 4 months between the 2 job , and I needed it.

      I think if you are in a niche field and being recruited you will be able to ask for a later start date. Good luck!

    2. Queen Ruby*

      I highly recommend it!! Last year, I left an extremely toxic job (ok, I admit I was actually fired for basically not being dysfunctional enough to fit in lol). I had already accepted a new job offer, and planned to give my notice after my vacation, which started 2 days after I accepted the offer. Instead, I was fired the first day of my vacation, but kept my start date at the new job the same date we agreed on when I accepted the offer.
      I ended up with 4.5 weeks off and by the time the 3rd week rolled around I was ready to get back to work. Had I taken only a week, or less, between jobs, I would not have been in the right state of mind to start the new one.

    3. Eng Girl*

      I say take some time if you can, but start the job hunt now because it may be a while. I’d also say just be upfront about when you’d be available to start with the recruiters and hiring managers. If you want to take a month or so to decompress then say you won’t be available to start until November 1st. If you think you need more time then maybe hold off on applying unless something looks particularly good, but at least start to get a feel for what’s out there and maybe apply for a couple of jobs to get you interviewing and back in the swing of things.

    4. Decidedly Me*

      I wish I took a break honestly. I love my new job (not new anymore lol), but I really could have used a break.

      From the employer side, I’ve seen people come in that clearly had bad things happen in a prior job (burnout, poor managers, poor environments, bad policies, etc) and it’s been a struggle for them to switch to us, sometimes even with a bit of time off. They take more time to get settled, react in ways that don’t make sense (I had someone that freaked out any time I sent a message – they thought they were trouble). One of my absolute best people now almost didn’t work out early on due to things like this.

      If it’s just burnout (not minimizing the impact burnout can have!) – this probably won’t be as much of a concern, but do keep it in mind. If you can afford it, I would really advocate for a break. If there are interesting opportunities coming at you, you could always see about a pushed out start date.

    5. Former PD*

      I think a lot can depend on what you’re feelings are about your old job and the job you are going to.

      August 31, I was a public defender with horrible burnout. September 1, I became a prosecutor. Not taking time off was the best thing for me because it allowed me to move on from my old job without worrying what would happen in my new job.

      Yes, it was (and still is!) really weird to make such a drastic switch in less than 24 hours.

    6. No Tribble At All*

      You said financially you’ll be OK — check your health insurance benefits! Every job I’ve left had benefits run out on the last day of the month you left, and many places don’t have the health insurance kick in until the first day of the month *after* you start. Did I start a new job on the 29th of the month so I’d have continuous health insurance? Yes.

      (Ignore me if you get health insurance through somewhere else or if you’ve included COBRA or something in your time-off estimations!)

    7. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      With your level of savings, I suggest you take 2 weeks off and totally chill, pamper yourself doing the things you enjoy.
      Then tune up your resume and start the job hunt refreshed

    8. Anon Today*

      I negotiated a late start date at my last job and took a month off in between jobs.

      It was amazing! And it definitely helped me start the next job feeling energized. I also spent that time thinking a lot about how to prevent burnout at my next job and coming up with a plan for it. I’ve been following this plan since then and it’s working for me.

      The only problem was I didn’t have health insurance for that month.

  56. Laszlo Whittaker*

    Yesterday, a significant reorg within our small (under 20 people) department was announced. We used to have three units within the department; one is being absorbed within the other two, and my manager and another manager will be leading them. The person who was the third manager will now report to one of them, and her reports are joining my unit. One of them is having her job duties completely changed. I could go on and on about why this isn’t a great idea, but the main reason is that she and my manager have had numerous conflicts in the past. We were all told about this yesterday, and it goes into effect on Monday. My coworkers’ and my heads are all spinning from how quickly such major changes are being implemented. This is really sudden, right?

    1. BellyButton*

      It feels sudden because you weren’t privy to what was going on behind the scenes. If your heads are spinning it likely means they haven’t been transparent in decision making or done a good job of communicating or even having a change management plan.

      We just closed a department that had been losing a significant amount of money for 2 yrs and had to lay off 5 people. We (the execs) have been discussing when, why, and how for 9 months. Part of our how was our communication plan and a very detailed change management plan announcing to those who supported that team how they would be impacted and what their work would shift to.

      Good luck!

      1. ferrina*

        Exactly this. Re-orgs are rarely sudden- they are often at least a couple months in the works. The one time I was privy to a reorg, I’d been working on it for six months without anyone knowing. Reorgs are kept under tight wrap until they are finalized.

        There is almost certainly something you don’t know about that’s going on. There are rarely reorgs without reasons. Stay out of it and don’t get involved in any politics or drama. Feel free to watch from afar. I suspect the pieces may fall into place in time.

        1. Laszlo Whittaker*

          I completely get the reasoning for keeping it quiet while it’s in process. What doesn’t sit well with me is having some people find out on a Thursday that their job is completely changing on Monday. But staying away from politics and drama is certainly good advice.

        2. JustaTech*

          There’s another reason why re-orgs generally aren’t announced well in advance – people don’t do well with that much job uncertainty. My mom’s last job before she retired announced that they were going to do a re-org – in a year and a half.

          What happened in that year and half? A huge amount of politicking, some drama, and a huge number of the very best people (in a *very* niche field) left for new jobs.

          No one likes having a re-org sprung on them, but they like twisting in the wind even less.

  57. Busy Middle Manager*

    I’m torn on this one, actually! What if you say “it’s an accommodation” and she ends up needing one. Do you just say “well your role requires you to be in person so no accommodation?” And just knowing how the rumor mills work at any job, saying medical accomodation is just going to have people hypothesizing about what medical conditions only appear one day per week. Yes, not extremely professional, but it’s the way people are.

    I think this could be an entire letter.

    I don’t get the laptop one though, even though I sometimes experience it. People will complain about their computer and I will say “let’s put in a ticket for your specific issues” and it always dies there, which confuses me. If someone has actual problems with a computer, I will ask for a new one to be purchased.

  58. I'm just here for the cats*

    So I don’t have a specific question but I wanted to put this out here. I am the legal guardian for my aunt who is mentally disabled. She does not live with me but lives in my hometown at an in-home care facility. A few times a year I have to meet with her care team, social worker, etc. My hometown is about an hour away, and the meeting lasts about an our or more, so I need to take the day off. At least once I’ve had to take the day off because she was having surgery and I needed to sign paperwork (and just be there because my family member is having surgery!)
    Although I haven’t had anything specific come up at my current job, I’ve had jobs in the past that have treated this strangely around this. I’ve gotten weird looks when I say I’m going to be out. I’ve gotten a feeling like “why are YOU taking time off for THIS.” Both my grandparents have been gone for several years and my mom made me the second guardian 10 years ago when something came up when she was on vacation and the caregivers needed approval for something.

    To me, being her legal guardian is equivalent to having a child. I don’t take care of the day-to-day things but I am still responsible for her well-being and anything legal and financial go through me.
    I do have to say that my current job is wonderful, even being flexible when a meeting has had to be moved last minute. That’s probably because I work in a mental health related field and a lot of my coworkers are social workers and they get it when I say I have to meet with the state

    I would love to know if anyone else is in similar situation and what your experience is. My thoughts are I think I should be treated the same as if I had a child: If I have to take time for a medical thing I should be able to take sick time if the policy is if you or a family member is sick. (at my current job that is the policy and I didn’t use sick time when she had her surgery, but I don’t think I knew of the policy since I had only been working a month or so and I probably didn’t have the sick time yet).

    1. ecnaseener*

      You’re right that it should be treated the same as if you had a child – the policy about sick leave probably says you can use it for “dependents.” Using that term might help it click in people’s heads.

      1. I'm just here for the cats*

        thats a great idea! I think where I’m struggling is that the policy isn’t super clear and says family members. We’ve had some major turnover in HR and I could see someone say that it means immediate family members (spouse/partner, child, parent) and so wouldn’t cover my aunt. I am super thankful and lucky that if something did come up and I needed to use sick leave and there was any pushback from HR that I know my supervisor and director would have my back and go to bat for me with HR. They have for my other coworkers and such.
        I’m probably just overthinking things (I was looking up another policy in the handbook and ran across the time off policy). I’ve got the best job I’ve ever had, but I’ve had so many toxic work environments that I worry. I also wish i could use my sick time for her annual and semi annual meetings but I know that would never be covered.

        1. Greta*

          Wouldn’t a legal guardian be considered an immediate family member? Would be interesting to ask an HR professional or even a lawyer.

    2. Ginger Baker*

      I don’t see this as any different than when I had to take (pretty extensive and often last-minute) time to be with my mom during multiple health issues in the 5-8 years before her death. I personally think it shouldn’t be anything to feel weird about even if it was “my close family friend who is zero blood relation but lived nearby for decades and is part of my chosen family” but *especially* for an aunt who is therefore “formally” family even. If you feel ever that coworkers might get weird about it, I suggest just saying “I have a family medical issue I need to handle” and zero need to specify who qualifies as “family” for that.

    3. HR Friend*

      Your situation is not like having a child, and I would not frame it that way to your employer if that’s what you’re thinking of doing. I’m not sure why you’ve drawn that comparison, but it’d probably sound out of touch to go that route.

      Your post says you’ve taken 4 scheduled days off in a year. Kids demand much more attention (and usually time off!) than that. Your situation is unique, though, so I’d definitely tell my boss the specifics, if you’re comfortable sharing that and haven’t told them already.

      In any case, your employer allows you to use sick time to attend to your aunt, and they sound pretty cool about the whole situation, so I’m not sure what more you want them to do. You could be eligible for FMLA, if you’re worried that the amount of time off you need in the future may increase and your employer being not so cool about that eventuality.

      1. ina*

        I have to push back on this for the sake of the parents of small kids I work with. They usually don’t take that much time off for kid-related activities. 4 times a year for kid-specific things (sick or what have you) feels right in general. I’ll be honest, your comment irks me a bit as someone who’s raised kids and been a caregiver to an ailing adult who needed more than 4 days a year off.

        I do agree that it’s bad framing because you don’t need to frame it like that at all. You’re entitled to use your sick leave for care of a dependent.

        1. I'm just here for the cats*

          Thanks! I think maybe being a foster parent. You have things like social worker meetings, and maybe court (I had to be approved by the court to be the guardian) or other state-mandated meetings.

      2. I'm just here for the cats*

        I’m not equating it exactly like having a child. But it’s more than she’s just my aunt. I can’t skip her meetings and rescheduling is really hard because depending on the meeting there can be 3-4 different agencies. In the past it has been the house manager, the head of the care facility, the adult day program manager, the county social worker and once a year the person from the state (blanking on the title) comes for her evaluation. These meetings are set up 6 months to a year in advance. I’ve always given my employers as much notice as possible, but there has been one or two times that the time has had to change because someone had a mandatory meeting that came up. It’s way easier for me to change my schedule than for everyone else. And this isn’t something that can be done after work or on my lunch break since she lives in a different city.
        The closest I can think of is that it’s like being a foster parent, where yo

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          The only thing you should need to say (and the absolute clearest way to say it) is, “I am her legal guardian and have to be present for situation X.” Don’t get into whether it’s like having kids or foster kids (I don’t think it is, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be accommodated). “I’m her legal guardian” is accurate and conveys what’s needed.

      3. JustaTech*

        I was thinking it sounds like having an *adult* child, or a child in college – you aren’t providing regular supervision and they don’t live with you, but you are still their closest contact for medical stuff.

    4. Pocket Mouse*

      Agree with others that you’re entitled to use leave to care for a dependent. However, I’d recommend talking to whoever serves as HR about getting set up with intermittent FMLA to ease your mind that this isn’t/won’t become an issue at work.

      1. I'm just here for the cats*

        The medical stuff hasn’t come up in years (thank goodness!) For regular visits for dental and doctors, I don’t need to be there. I sign paperwork beforehand and talk with the doctors when needed. Her house staff is amazing and take care of all of her appointments. The only time I or my mom have had to go to an appointment is when its been more serious. For example, they were considering a hysterectomy at one point so my mom went to the appointment and talked with the doctor. The other time I was with for her planned surgery for gallbladder. For those times we have to be there in case something happens we can talk with the doctor and approve
        So I wouldn’t necessarily need FMLA.

    5. ferrina*

      You might be able to get FMLA for the longer stuff. My mom takes care my grandma, who lives in a care facility in a different city. She uses intermittent FMLA to do things like take grandma to doctors appointments and do things related to her care.

      It sounds like your aunt is your legal dependent. If the policy is that you can take sick time for dependents, then this definitely applies. If you are just saying “I’m taking care of my aunt”, that’s different from “I am the legal guardian of a disabled family member. Their care home takes care of the day-to-day, but I need to take care of doctors appointments and other things.” (Definitely say this to HR and your boss; it’s up to you if you want to say anything to coworkers)

      Do not say that it is equivalent to having a child. Most people associate having a child with having a dependent that lives with you full time and where you do have to do the day-to-day things. In fact, the day-to-day is almost always the greatest burden with children. I don’t complain about making doctor’s appointments- I complain about making dinner ever night and getting whined at about how my dinner is terrible when the kid was the one who demanded that dinner. And the vacuuming! I swear, one day after I vacuum it’s filthy again because someone decided to collect leaves and brought all the crumbling leaves into the house. Don’t even get me started on the Legos everywhere…..
      Point is, don’t use the kid comparison. I guarantee you will alienate people.

      1. I'm just here for the cats*

        I like the idea about saying that she is my dependant. The only problem is she is not my dependant for tax purposes. She get social security, food benefits, and Medicaid, and stuff like that. So there is no financial cost for myself for her care. I can provide her with things but it is not necessary as all her needs are met with anything she receives. I am super thankful that in my home state they have a really good system for folx like my aunt. I’ve moved across the border to another state and it’s not as good. Which is one reason why I would never move her closer to me. Also, I’ve known her caretakers and the management for years and have a great relationship with them and would never want to take her away from the people who know her. They honestly treat their people like family. I’ve never seen a place like this one. I wish they could get all the funding they deserve!

        1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

          As Alison recommends, state that you are her legal guardian, because that is a legally defined relationship with responsibilities..

    6. Llama Llama*

      Speaking as a mama of two disabled, screw anyone who gives you grief for taking care of your aunt. While my situation is different and they are my kids, I treat all my appointments as a matter of fact. I put my kids appointments on my boss’s as an FYI, not a permission request.

      If someone would give me grief (which my former boss sometimes tried), ‘They are my responsibility and I have to be there.’

      To note, one of my kids was in the hospital for 3 weeks during my busiest time of year. I had no problem not having any part of work during that time.

  59. Interview feelings*

    Hello! Last week I asked a question about applying to a job when I knew I couldn’t move to that state just yet (and made that clear — though no one has asked me for a timeline yet.) I interviewed and got invited for a next interview. I asked about the timeline for hiring and they said it would hopefully be within 3 weeks?? I was like woah, well, that’s much faster than my 2-4 month timeline.

    Part of me wonders if I should drop out because of my timeline. I also adjunct teach one class this fall and if I got a job offer, I realized that would mean I may have to drop the class in the middle of semester, which feels awful. Another hesitation was that one person I interviewed with (Big Boss) gave me some really…bad…vibes. Like didn’t read my resume, laughed at one of my responses, and glared at one of the other interviewers until they got very quiet. However, I’m not sure how closely I’d work with them.

    Part of me wants to continue on the interview to find out more. Honestly, if it paid what I wanted, I might really be interested in it. The role would also help me break back into a part of the field I’ve been gone from for about 4 years. It’s my first interview role but after Big Boss’s responses, I’m nervous that this might be my only chance to get back in. But I’m afraid I’m going to be looked at negatively for continuing the interview process when the above hesitations are there. Does anyone have any advice?

    1. ecnaseener*

      I would not worry about the timeline issue. “Hopefully 3 weeks” to make a hire can easily stretch into a couple of months, and then there’s paperwork to be done before you start, etc. If they really do move as fast as they hope, and they make you an offer with a start date before you’re ready to move, you can ask about pushing it back a few weeks. That’s not going to reflect badly on you, you’re not asking for several months.

      As for big boss concerns, yeah keep interviewing and gathering information. I can’t tell what you mean about being looked at negatively for continuing to interview – if you ultimately turn down an offer because of the boss, you won’t tell them that’s why.

      1. Interview feelings*

        Ah, that’s good to know! Ok, I’m feeling a little bit better about that piece of the timeline then.

        I think I’m afraid of being looked at negatively because I “wasted their time” when I wasn’t very sure. I know that’s a little silly, but I do know some people who have thought that way, and the world is small, which makes for an extra paranoid experience :’)

        1. ecnaseener*

          Yeah there’s always a chance of someone going “what do you mean you’re turning down the offer / dropping out of the interview process! Why did you interview if you weren’t 100% sure you would take the job?” It’s annoying, but what are you supposed to do, drop out of everything shy of your Perfect Dream Job? They’re wrong, you shrug it off.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Seconding ecnaseener’s response. On timelines, I was had an interview where the hiring manager told me he’d get back to me in about two weeks. The HR person I spoke to as part of the interview process (same day) told me I’d hear back in four weeks. I heard back after 6-8 weeks (don’t remember the exact timeline now, but both the hiring manager and HR were different levels of “too optimistic”). The company may also be willing to work with you to let you start remotely (so you can finish the class you’re teaching) and move around the start of the new year.

      For your concerns about the Big Boss, definitely do some probing in the interview to find out how closely you’ll work with him. Interviews are a two-way street; you’re assessing how well the job will fit you just as much as the company is assessing how well you will fit the job.

      1. Interview feelings*

        Thank you! I have a feeling they may not be able to have me start remotely (they stated in the interview they’re no longer letting people work remote) but we’ll see! It may just not then be the opportunity for me.

        And yes, I’ll try to do some probing! Are there questions I can ask subtly other than “How does this position interface with *this* person?”

        1. JR*

          Could you teach your class remotely for the second half of the semester? Or even partially remotely, and travel back a few times?

          1. Bart*

            It is nice that you are thinking about your students but if this new job helps you, I say quit mid semester if you must. And I am the person at my institution who handles all hiring! And I would be open to an adjunct finishing remotely if it was that or we have to find a new instructor mid semester.

    3. A Simple Narwhal*

      I say stick with it! 3 weeks for hiring is a pretty aggressive timeline, and there are so many normal things that can slow down the hiring process. I’d honestly be very surprised if they hit it.

      Plus even if they did manage to hire within 3 weeks, it’s pretty standard that the new hire needs to give two weeks notice before they can start a new job, so that alone pushes the timeline out to 5 weeks. It’s also not unheard of to ask to take a week or two after giving notice before starting a new job, so I could very easily see that even if they did want to hire someone within 3 weeks, it could still be ~2 months before that person would start. And that alone gets pretty close to your planned 2-4 month timeline – it’s not like your timeline is a year out, I think the 2 months (while on the sooner side of your plans) is still reasonable.

      And this all assumes that they are able to hire that fast! In my experience it almost never goes that quickly. You’ve been up front about your timeline, I don’t think you have any reason to drop out now when your timelines are actually not that far off from each other.

    4. ina*

      You voiced your timeline, they still invited you. Their 3 weeks is their minimum – which means it can stretch out. Going against the grain though, I do think you should consider both options: if they stick to 3 weeks and are timely AND asking yourself, “How much time do I WANT them to take?” 2 months? 4 months? Assuming they take three weeks, you accept, it might even take another few weeks for HR. Even following their timeline, your start date probably won’t be until ~1.5 months from now, which is close to your 2 month mark. It’s also not unreasonable to ask to give 2 weeks notice at your current job, so you can also ask for a later start date or see if you can’t do as much remotely as possible as you coordinate your move. They know they’re interviewing an out of state candidate; they would be firm with a “when can you expect to be in-person?” question. That’s their work to do, not yours.

      As for Big Boss, did the others seem uncomfy around them? Was it a malicious laugh or just some of those “I’m a big important man so I know that was a naive, idealistic answer…you shall soon learn with us, my child” laughs? (Which is equally bad, but at least this one is more of a…you can learn with us vs ‘how dumb!’) And the not reading resume thing might also be because he has no clue what to look for when it comes to the job and he’s there as a formality or to explain the business mission or to check for the culture they wanna build — did he ask job-specific questions? I am only asking these things because general anxiousness can might be spilling over into this as a reason to say no, along with stress of a potential move.

  60. AnonyMoose*

    When I started at my software job, there wasn’t any real project approval process. We prioritized what was needed/most critical and didn’t worry about internal time estimates or creating our own deadlines. It was far from perfect, but it was streamlined.

    Starting nine months ago, upper management introduced a new process for project planning. We have a meeting to fill out an “intake” document where we say the reason for the project. Then we have another meeting to fill out the “project proposal” document where we give the project a priority rating, some technical details and a time estimate. Then upper management (above my skip-level boss) has a committee meeting where they approve the projects.

    The major problems: 1) They have decided that we need to do this for every project that will take over one week. 2) The upper management committee meeting hasn’t actually ever happened in the 9 months since the new process was created.

    I’ve tried, but I don’t have the political capital to change the process (I’ve been told that they’re “working out the bumps” and trying to schedule that committee meeting). All of my approved projects are either grandfathered-in from before we put the new process in place or were approved unofficially.

    Any advice on how to live with ridiculous management without getting irritated? Or does upper management suck and isn’t going to change, so I should move on?

    1. NotBatman*

      Have you spelled out the exact situation in so many words to your boss? I feel like if they see that math laid out like that, they’ll probably be happy to help you coming up with a workaround for the paperwork and/or kicking it up the ladder.

      1. AnonyMoose*

        Good idea, I’ll bring it up in our next one-on-one. I know they think that it’s ridiculous, but as long as we’re getting unofficial/”fast-tracked” approval for the time-sensitive projects, they seem content to not rock the boat. I’ll ask how strongly they’ve pushed with their boss. I’ve also started uninviting myself from the project intake meetings, since they don’t actually need a developer for those.

        Supposedly, the upper level manager’s meeting is next week, but the last half-dozen have been canceled at the last minute so I’m not getting my hopes up.

      2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        Yes, I agree, spelling it out could be helpful evidence for your manager to use *if* they decide to kick it up.

        My pure speculation: Your boss might not be pushing back because they expect this new process to quietly go away on its own. And since it hasn’t affected the team’s work so far, there’s no reason to speed up the end.

    2. Goddess47*

      Sometimes the phrase ‘malicious compliance’ is useful… do what they want (document, document, document) and when someone asks about the status of project X, you can point to the committee and legit say, “it’s in there somewhere”

      Playing stupid games mean they win stupid prizes sometimes…

      Good luck!

      1. AnonyMoose*

        But doing nothing is so boring! I’d end up spending all my time reading AAM or something…

        Oh shoot, I already do.

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Submit those projects for approval as per the process. If and when they don’t get approved, because that committee isn’t meeting, go to your boss about what your next priority should be since projects x, y and z are waiting for approval. This will get resolved even faster if one of the projects is for someone more senior who isn’t in that committee.

  61. Too many times?*

    How many times can you apply to a company before it gets embarrassing?
    I have applied twice to a large company in my field (think airline company). I applied for project manager roles in different departments of the company, but didn’t get either job.
    I just saw two other positions I would like to apply for. But would it look weird to keep applying?

    1. NotBatman*

      I can’t speak to every company, but I applied to every open position in my husband’s (~200 person) department for over three years, which totaled to at least 10 applications. I was transparent about this in my cover letter, and they ended up making a position for me, because they value my husband and (I hope) I got across “I’m very very very interested in working here, but recognize I’m not entitled to an interview if the fit’s not right.”

    2. safari*

      it probably depends why you didn’t get the other jobs – did you get any feedback? If these new jobs are similar, and you were told you didn’t get the others because of lack of qualifications or experience, then probably not worth applying again until you’ve got the qualifications and experience. But if you just didn’t get them because on those occasions there were other better qualified applicants, then it’s worth trying again. If it’s a really big company, they might not realise you’ve applied before anyway, if its different departments. Not something to be embarrassed about though, and its not weird, just might be a waste of your time

    3. Eng Girl*

      I think if it’s a large company it’s really not a big deal at all as long as you’re thoughtful about the roles you apply to and don’t just spam every opening. I just would apply for identical roles over and over if there hasn’t been a significant change in your resume that would make you a better fit.

    4. Despairingly unemployed*

      I’d think twice is fine (if not more). A friend told me she got comments because she applied to many jobs with one company but the jobs were all over the place and not really similar, so that looked like she didn’t know what she wanted.

      (Now I’m wondering if I should be embarrassed by applying I don’t even know how many times to the same universities (for admin jobs), but because the entire process is automated, I never know why I can’t even get an interview!)

      1. ina*

        I applied to ~10 jobs that were all data analytics at an org I really liked the mission and methodology for and I was worried about the same thing. No interviews (*sob*) despite being good fit and I wonder if their central HR is wondering if I am all over the place since it’s different disease interests for each.

        I am interested in the methods! The analytics! Advantage your mission! I am not a SME! You aren’t asking for that! I can do what you’re asking for!

        1. Despairingly unemployed*

          Yeah at this point I just want to talk to ONE person *sob* T-T I’m competent, I swear!

  62. scared*

    So my workplace has been getting more and more toxic lately, more than I can even list. It’s been bad enough that I’ve seriously considered quittting without something else lined up. Today I got a call letting me know I got the job I interviewed for earlier this week. I finished the call and pretty immediately burst into tears, and not happy tears.

    The little thing that set me off was about reference checks; on the phone my new manager had seemed to think I’d be giving notice at my current job immediately, even though the offer is still conditional on reference checks. I’m in the UK, and after some frantic googling it seems like the standard advice is that you shouldn’t give notice until you have an unconditional offer.

    I’m not sure what’s going on. I should be happy. I called family to tell them the news, was verbally stressing to them about the reference stuff, and got the comment, “I thought you’d be thrilled!” I thought I’d be thrilled too.

    I’m not sure what my question is exactly. Does anyone have experience with getting good news and reacting the opposite way than how you should feel? Is it normal after having been in a toxic work environment for a really long time to just…not be able to feel anything but fear about working, even somewhere that might be better?

    My best guess at to what my crying about is that the manager having really different expectations to what I understand as professional norms set me off, because I have toxic frightening managers at the moment and really can’t go through that again. Plus I’m autistic and not good with big life changes.

    I’m now second-guessing whether I even want this job, even though realistically almost anything will be better than my current situation – on paper I should want it, I thought I wanted it when I applied, but a person who gets news and then cries about it sure doesn’t seem like they wanted that news!

    Anyone have any wisdom for me?

    1. Busy Middle Manager*

      Congrats, in this job market? Still unclear – is the offer conditional based on references, or did references already happen? If they already happened, be content?

      I think you’re experience what we all do as time goes on. You are told things will make you “happy” then it feels like a huge disappointment when they don’t, like there is something wrong with you. There isn’t anything wrong with you. It’s just that while gratitude is great for your mental health, I think it’s also not true that getting a job offer should fill someone up with deep feelings of life satisfaction. Maybe your brain is dealing with that now?

      You may also have some fear that current company will somehow sabotage you. For example, you will be using them as a reference during your next job hunt. So maybe that uncertainty and fear triggered you

    2. ina*

      To them, it might be a formality to have the unconditional offer — I have noticed that many jobs do reference checks to check off a box rather than because they expect to find out anything that will disqualify an applicant. They likely assume they will be able to give you the unconditional offer and that you will be taking a vacation between the end of one job and the beginning of this one. You do not need to follow your new manager’s advice – you can wait until you have the unconditional offer in hand before you put in notice (is two weeks a thing in the UK? They could mean that, too, and they expect to get your references checks and your unconditional offer to you within 2 weeks.)

      >> Is it normal after having been in a toxic work environment for a really long time to just…not be able to feel anything but fear about working, even somewhere that might be better?

      The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t. This is a common feeling — leaving a toxic workplace can elicit a lot of confusing emotions. I hope you can get some breathing room between these jobs to rest and recharge. After toxicity, normality can make you feel unsettled. Defensiveness and mistrust becomes your baseline in a bad workplace; hard to unlearn.

    3. Eng Girl*

      I can’t speak for everyone but I had a similar panicked reaction after I swapped jobs. I got my offer and was filled with overwhelming joy followed by some pretty serious any and dread because of a bunch of what ifs. To be honest I still have moments now where old toxic job haunts me and colors my reactions when I need to do really normal things like take off a couple hours early for a doctors appointment.

      I think you probably just had a weird emotional response/release. It happens to us all from time to time. Try not to let it get to you and definitely don’t put in notice until everything is all wrapped up. Any reasonable employee will understand that, and a lot of them will encourage it.

    4. yesterday's child*

      but a person who gets news and then cries about it sure doesn’t seem like they wanted that news!

      I don’t agree with this at all, it sounds like someone else’s voice in your head. Change is hard. It is totally normal to be unhappy with your job, see the next logical step as “new job”, and then when you get new job be overwhelmed with all the things that need to change. New (frightening) people to meet, new expectations that you don’t know or understand, possible new commute. You may not like the job you have, but it’s familiar and you have developed some coping mechanisms. Who knows what the new job will bring? It sounds like tears are a rational response!

      1. ina*

        > New (frightening) people to meet, new expectations that you don’t know or understand, possible new commute.

        I got a long, sensible chuckle off a meme I saw that said: “Starting a new job is embarrassing for no reason. It’s like joining the main cast of a series that’s on it’s 5th season.”

    5. Honor Harrington*

      Sometimes hope of escape is worse than being stuck. You get almost used to be stuck somewhere horrible. Then you get hope of escape, and it’s terrifying – what if something happens and it doesn’t work out? Then I’m really stuck. That combination of hope and fear is hard.

      Good luck!

    6. Filosofickle*

      Not exactly parallel, but when I arrived in a new city the first night I burst into tears. This should have been a triumphant moment! I was starting a new job in my dream city! I made it across the country! But no. I would have chalked up to a release of stress from the move, but my sibling said something interesting — they sensed what i was feeling was fear this city wouldn’t be better than before. (The previous two places I’d lived never came together for me, I didn’t fit there and wasn’t happy.) That I hoped this would fix things and what if it didn’t? Then what?

      You could also just be reacting to being soooo close then finding out there’s still a hurdle and possibility of having this go sideways as you navigate references and notice and starting new.

      Third option: Emotions are just weird.

    7. kalli*

      Yeah, you’re just reacting to ‘omg big life change’. It’s normal – you got confirmation you’re entering a transition phase with a bunch of unknowns. Just focus on parts that are clearly positive – you’re getting out of your current situation, away from frightening managers, and control what parts of that transition you can, however small.

    8. RagingADHD*

      Crying is a normal response to any big / complex emotion. It is a physical stress reliever.

      Feelings are irrational and a short-term feeling doesn’t necessarily mean anything about what you really want in the big picture. They can give you some insight into making the right choices for yourself, but they also have a very poor signal to noise ratio because they are influenced by so many different elements, from your physical state, to past experiences, to context, etc.

      Lots of noise, not so much signal.

      You’ll feel better when you have a chance to relax a bit and take some time to process.

    9. SofiaDeo*

      You’ve been extremely stressed out & unhappy to the point of considering quitting without a job. Then you got the job offer. Knowing that the end of an extremely stressful time is in sight, can play havoc on an already stressed system. It’s happy stress finfing out you are getting out of the old toxic job, but it’s still stress. So if you are having typical stress related unhappiness/crying at the added stress, it’s normal. Don’t worry about it. Try to realize any fears are due to the fact of the old toxic pkave managing to mess with tou, and there will be a tendency to assume the worst at first, because that’s been your reality at old toxic job. Things will settle, try to calm down, you are getting out of toxic job and the conditioned responses that toxic place did to you will go away. Deep breath, remind yourself of all the great things you bring to the New Job because they want/need what you can do for them! I have a non-work related example of how people commonly go through this. I have a leukemia & am part of a largeish support group. Many if us cry, get uoset, have fears, about “how life will be” once we finish a treatment successfully & get into remission. We intellectually know it’s a good thing, but the change in our old routines & fears around the change upset a number of us. I think it’s a gunan thing a lot of people go through, change can be difficult/emotional even when we want it. You’ll be fine, do things that calm & soothe you until it passes.

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        Yes! My gf and I (both self-diagnosed autistic and trauma survivors so I’m wondering if that’s relevant?) have normalised the idea of “good shock” – just like SofiaDeo says it’s still a strain on the system. We tend to commiserate with each other for good news – “those bastards, they gave you the job?! I’ll make some sweet tea!” – it’s a joke but it’s also not.

  63. Captain Vegetable ( Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

    I’m not sure if it’s a lingering effect of long covid, or potential perimenopause or both or neither… but I definitely have a couple of days of brain fog/inability to concentrate before my period. Is there a good accommodation for this? I have no diagnosis, but I mostly just want my employer to know there’s a few days when my productivity will crater and please don’t fire me…

    Possibly relevant details- I’ve been at this job for 6 months and I work from home.

    1. DrSalty*

      Personally, I would try to work around it on my own before asking for an accommodation. Like be super productive the week before so I can take it easy those days and not have it affect my total output. A couple less than maximally productive days per month is not that bad imo and certainly not a firing offense if the rest of someone’s work quality is good.

      But I don’t know how bad your symptoms are, like if they’re totally debilitating to point where you truly can’t do anything, that would need to be handled differently.

    2. Brownie*

      I’m going through this myself, only the brain fog is now almost 2 full weeks of my cycle as it’s been getting worse the closer towards menopause I get, though I’ve always had 2-3 days of fog before that too. See if you can find a doctor (try gynos first) who has hormone experience and talk to them about options. There’s a lot of options, from HRT of various forms (micro dose T subdermal pellets to 3 day per month progesterone pills) to lifestyle changes which can absolutely help with the brain fog. I use a combo of HRT and organizational skills to get my work done. Checklists, keeping a close eye on how my brain is doing, knowing that bad days mean I either need the adrenaline of “OMG everything’s on fire” or very detailed checklists to follow in order to get work done, that kind of thing. With experience it gets easier to manage and my boss hasn’t ever mentioned any loss of productivity on my side despite me being in brain fog half the time so it seems to be working.

  64. Turingtested*

    I’m middle management. One of my peers, “Dan” basically does everything possible to annoy his coworkers but seems completely oblivious to it. Nothing like harassment or bullying, but all the coworker sins. He calls meetings with the express purpose of calling one person out, and he’s often wrong about their actions. If he doesn’t like an answer to a question, he demands more documentation, and, when the answer is the same, CC’s his director level boss who inevitably says “Dan, it’s clear that the answer is X.” When confronted about incorrect information he’s provided, he cries every time. He takes people’s work, converts it to his own format, screws it up, and expects them to fix it for him. When they push back, tears.

    But he clearly sees himself as the best worker in the company and truly seems to have no idea that he comes across as manipulative and vindictive. I suspect no one has ever told him how inappropriate his behavior is. His boss is located in another country and doesn’t understand the extent of the behavior.

    Is it possible to help in this situation? Or do I just keep my mouth shut?

    1. Goddess47*

      This isn’t something you can solve with a simple chat with Dan.

      I’d talk to Dan’s boss directly (and be ready to take the heat if you get outed for doing that) and talk about Dan being unprofessional… document, document, document. “Dan’s work on X affects business in this way…” and “Dan took document exhibit A, converted it to exhibit B and Lucinda had to spend Z hours making it usable” and “Dan resorts to emotional manipulation in the office, which affects the entire team” and “you were involved in Dan’s incorrect answer on Z, how many of those do you get?” and so on… make it a business problem and if you can quantify that it costs the company money, even better.

      Good luck!

    2. ina*

      > He calls meetings with the express purpose of calling one person out, and he’s often wrong about their actions.

      Oy vey. This is…a character. How bold yet how sloppy.

      You need to document, document, document. Then report to whoever can address this.

    3. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      It’s interesting that you qualify his actions as “not harassment or bullying” and then list out stuff that sounds a lot like harassment and bullying. And TEARS? Not just once, during a tough time, but regularly, as a management strategy? He’s poison. I’d be shocked if he hasn’t already cost your company a significant amount of human and reputational capital.

      You’re within your rights to keep your mouth shut here, but I wouldn’t. I’d be documenting and preparing to file a formal complaint. Get statements from his reports about how his behavior has negatively affected their work. Good luck.

      1. Turingtested*

        Thank you for the perspective. I was taking a very narrow view that if he’s not name calling, screaming or systematically freezing people out it’s not bullying or harassment.

        And yeah I feel a little funny mentioning the crying but it definitely seems like a way to avoid difficult conversations than an occasional but genuine emotional response.

        I feel less like a tattle tale tracking and reporting his behavior.

  65. Former PD*

    Some good news…

    1) I was a public defender for a little over 6 years. I thought I had gotten through the “5 year burnout,” but I have actually been suffering from burnout for the past 2 years. Around the beginning of August, I finally realized I was done with being a PD in the jurisdiction where I worked. (Some of my burnout issues were related to the specific jurisdiction where I practiced.) I did reach out to other PD offices in the area, but they did not have any openings. So I started exploring other options.

    I am now a prosecutor in a jurisdiction not too far from where I used to work. It has been like night and day! The judges are so much easier to work with. I feel appreciated by my coworkers. And other than some jokes about being a traitor or a spy, even the local defense bar are being nice. (Several of the private defense attorneys here also practice where I used to work and I have known them for years. I know a few of the local public defenders because I have been to trainings with them.)

    2) My mother-in-law (who lives with my wife and I) worked fully remote during COVID. In January, my wife and MiL were in a car crash and my MiL was on short-term disability until early August. While she was out, her office started requiring people to go to the office several days a week. My MiL drove herself to and from for several weeks, but it was very painful for her. (About a 30 minute one way trip.)

    Her employer told her that if her doctor signed off that she needed an ADA accommodation, they would let her go back to fully remote. Last week, her doctor signed off on the paperwork. Now we are just waiting for HR to do all their paperwork and she will be done trying to drive for work!

    1. Jinni*

      Congrats to you and MIL. Sounds like everything is better.

      (I burned out on defense work much earlier. The only upside for me was that after I left the jurisdiction, there was a major corruption probe and something like 70 convictions, and a new county charter. Vindicated what I observed).

  66. Qwerty*

    I need to take over finding candidates for open positions on my team because my recruiter isn’t effective and would love advice on how to use LinkedIn effectively. If it is relevant, this is an in-person dev team for a tech stack that is very common for my area – other people in my network have filled these positions easily over the past few months.

    Things I can’t change at the moment and am a bit hamstrung by (higher ranked people are working on these but I can’t afford to wait):
    – Posting a salary range
    – Changing the official job description
    – Alterations to perks/benefits/etc
    – Changing recruiters

    Some general questions
    – Does the Hiring banner on my profile work or just attract spam from external recruiters?
    – Is there a section with more advanced search settings rather than the general search bar or does that require LI Professional subscription to get access to
    – Does using the Hiring banner allow me to see people whose OpenToWork setting is only visible to recruiters? If not, how do I get access to that so I’m more likely to bother people who actually want a job
    – Any tips, tricks, pitfalls?

    My plan:
    1. Post on LI that I’m hiring with a short 2-3 sentence description of my team/tech stack / the role
    2. Add the Hiring! banner to my LI profile
    3. Write up a 1-paragraph script to use when reaching out to candidates
    4.
    5. Reach out to candidate with script + why their profile caught my eye + offer for a phone call to talk more about the role(s)
    6. 15min call where I tell them about the company, the role, and get a slightly better idea of their experience so I can provide an estimated salary range*

    *The dev role is in the awkward cusp where years of experience doesn’t really translate to seniority so I can’t tell from a LI profile. Our internal “secret” range is big and can’t be posted, but I’m allowed to give individual candidates a range and I think candidates should have a realistic idea of compensation before committing to a full interview.

    1. Hiring Mgr*

      It sounds like you’re limited in what you can do, but one thing is i’ll mention is that if you’re reaching out cold to these people, they might not even want to do the 15 min call before getting at least a salary range.

      1. Qwerty*

        An argument I have made many times!! Personally I always ask salary first unless the message is interesting enough that curiousity is peaked. I think we’ll be able to post them in a few months when we roll out more detailed positions rather than “dev” vs “senior dev”

  67. Justin*

    This is both a really good thing and a bad thing.

    I had my midyear review today, and my boss didn’t tell me he didn’t like my performance…. he told me I was way underselling everything I’d done. (It’s a system where we rate ourselves and higher-ups either agree or disagree.) He told me to detail all of my accomplishments in 2023 and when I went back and wrote it all down it was like four pages long.

    The bad part is me realizing that I was hesitant to beat my chest because at my last job they criticized me just for how I moved through the day (why I eventually got diagnosed as neurodivergent) and it really really crushed my already fragile confidence. Post-DX, post doctorate, book published, I should be so proud, but, especially as a Black person, we’re not really “supposed” to be proud like that. But, it helps that my boss is now Black and very affirming so hopefully now that I see this I can really step into owning what I’ve done. I’ve been able to do it in other places (eg LinkedIn, bc that’s what you do on there) but laying out 4 pages of accomplishments where everyone up the hierarchy ladder will eventually see it is a big step for me.

    So, I guess that’s the final remnant of my bad manager still in my system. What was the last thing you finally shed of a bad work experience after you were in a better one? For the record I’ve been in this job about 17 months.

    1. Jinni*

      No answer, but I’m so glad you have an affirming boss. I’ve only realized well into middle age that affirming/encouraging people can make all the difference!

    2. Loreli*

      Just think of this: “no brag, just fact”.

      It can take a while to get past a toxic boss. Hang in there, it will get better. And congratulations on your amazing accomplishments!

  68. PaperLibrarian*

    I just had an interview question that threw me for a loop, and tanked my self-esteem, if I’m honest. Does anyone know how to answer, “Tell me about a time that you received criticism that you disagreed with?”

    I can only think of a few times it happened, and they don’t make me look good if you assume the criticism was actually accurate. My boss passed along criticism from a fellow employee, and didn’t even believe the criticism was accurate, but it seems that inevitably the interviewer would wonder if the criticism was correct.

    1. Ms. Norbury*

      I think the point of the question is more to try to gauge if can handle criticism professionally, even if you disagree with it, than to try to catch an occasion in which your judgement failed you (because really, who hasn’t been there?). It would make sense to briefly share what the criticism was, why you disagreed with it, and, if you have that information, if you eventually discovered whether you were right or wrong. Personally, if I were doing the intervewing, the answer that would most leave a positive impression would be in the line of “Boss criticized the way I did Y, and while I disagreed because of Z, I gave professional response Z and it turned out they were right because of A”. This would indicate that the person can listen to criticism without getting defensive, can disagree in a way that is polite and professional (or hold their judgement and consider another POV), and can admit they are fallible and learn from mistakes.

    2. ina*

      I mean, it sounds like you have the opportunity to tell them why it isn’t accurate and what you did to address the perception.

      I look young for my age, I’m POC, and women presenting. I get a lot of people who form a lot of opinions about me and operate out from those opinions, which leads to a lot of problems and misunderstandings and wah-wah-wah from them that’s easily addressable if they hadn’t been filtering my words and work through a biased lens (always do all my communication in writing as a result and phone conversations are quickly transcribed.) No one is going to assume just because you got criticism that it’s accurate – you being knocked off by the question is the thing I would hone in on as an interviewer, to be honest.

    3. safari*

      I think that’s quite an interesting question, though it would throw me for a loop too. Probably the best way to answer would include that you had considered the criticism, not immediately reacted defensively or as if it was a personal slight, identified the areas with which you disagreed and then acted appropriately – if it was from a member of the public, say, who didn’t have all the facts, perhaps you just smoothed the situation over, helped them with their issue and moved on. If it was from a manager, perhaps you asked for clarification, and for what they would like you to do differently. If from a peer, perhaps you took what was helpful, and agreed to disagree about the rest. So in your example, you could say that the manager passed on XYZ, I explained calmly that the other employee was mistaken and the facts were ABC, and discussed with the manager whether I needed to do anything differently. I doubt I would come up with any of that in an interview though!

    4. Goddess47*

      No one is going to check your answers close enough to know how true they are! Interviewers are looking for you to be self-aware enough to be able to answer the questions reasonably intelligently.

      For any interview, plan ahead with a series of examples (make notes if you have to) about the best thing you did, where you messed up, where you reached outside your comfort level to help a colleague, the criticism question you received, etc… go look for a list of interview questions online (Allison has some, there are a ton out there) and then think about your answers to a number of them. Sometimes you can spin one incident to meet several versions of the same question. (“Oh, yeah, that project I saved? Well, the bad thing I did along the way to get it done was X. I did learn not to do that again!”) You don’t need to have unique examples for every question.

      And they don’t have to be work related, maybe a friend thought your new outfit was tacky but you loved it anyway…

      Intelligent interviewers will know all these things, they are looking to see if you can speak intelligently to the issue and are self-aware enough to give good examples. They will also know that ‘the names were changed to protect the innocent’ so that you will have glossed over details that are too personal or too descriptive of the situation.

      Good luck!

    5. Eng Girl*

      I would say this is a “how did you react, what did you do, and possibly what would you do differently now” question.

      Ideally you handled the situation well, and took the criticism, asked questions, and adjusted your future strategies. If that’s not the case or if you can’t come up with an example where you did that, say what you did do and what you’d do differently with the benefit of hindsight/what you learned.

      What they don’t want to hear is “I was right and they were wrong, and this is how I proved that I was right”

    6. Anon for This*

      As a woman I am often criticized for behavior that would be praised if I were a man. So I turn the question around on the interviewer and use those examples – I have “sharp elbows” when I take a tough negotiating stance. I don’t smile enough. Look for something like that – I can take fair criticism on my work, and am happy to discuss that issue, but you seem to think the interviewer was trying for a gotcha question – those kind of things are an easy way to deflect.

      1. linger*

        Not disagreeing at all with your experience, but turning this question back on the interviewer is seriously not going to land well for any interviewee. The candidate has to assume the interviewer’s focus is on finding out whether the candidate can take, and learn from, fair criticism. It would be unnecessarily antagonistic to interpret it as evidence that this workplace is likely to offer unfair criticism.

        1. linger*

          Hmm… so this turns on unpacking what counts as “fair” to the candidate, and where that intersects with “disagreeing” with the criticism.
          “I am entirely comfortable with criticism relevant to the work product and consistent with facts known to the critic. I generally approach that as an opportunity to learn, whether how to improve my performance, or how to improve communication when interpretations of facts seem to have diverged.” [Insert example]
          And that would normally be a complete answer to the question as asked. But if you’ve seen other red flags that this question could signal the workplace contains a personality difficult to deal with, you could continue:
          “Criticism directed at an individual’s appearance or personality, of course, has to be treated differently.” (But then it would be safest to find an example of how you responded to personal criticism of a colleague, rather than a first-person account.)

    7. Qwerty*

      You don’t need to get super detailed on what the criticism was. The interviewer is asking you how handled receiving feedback that you disagreed with. Did you argue? Ignore it? Pretend to agree but silently seethe? Or did you take it as useful info on what that managers expectations? Or realize that maybe something you were doing was perceived differently than you intended?

      I get why you were caught off guard – it’s a self-awareness question and those can throw people.

      I feel like understand what they are trying to avoid is more helpful at seeing the pattern.
      – The guy who only accepts criticism if he agrees with it so giving any feedback turns into a battle. This type of person tends also be difficult for peers to work with if they disagree on how to do the work
      – The guy who needs to have what he sees as a logical reason to change his behavior. Let’s say the boss wants to be copied whenever the TPS report goes out. Employee sees zero reason for the boss to want or need this report especially because he always sends it out perfectly on time with perfect numbers. He either demands to know why and won’t do it until he has a good reason or accepts it but grumbles about being oppressed and micromanaged.
      – The guy who doesn’t really get along with the team and receives peer feedback he disagrees with. Does not change his behavior or do anything to resolve the interpersonal issues. Decides something is clearly wrong with coworkers who must be jealous of him rather than there being a miscommunication
      – The overly helpful guy who actually makes life harder for someone because he insists that he’s being helpful or doing important work when asked to stop doing something, because he doesn’t have the full picture to know how to do that task

      (sorry for them all being guys – my field is almost all dudes so I was genericizing specific coworkers)

  69. Rose*

    Okay, small and somewhat petty thing. But I work in a small office where our boss is always bugging us about being environmentally friendly. She has signs up everywhere dictating that we must turn off the office and kitchen AC units when we leave to save electricity. The other day she scolded one of us for running the kitchen dishwasher when it was not totally full, for “wasting water”. She will often be like “do you guys need all of these lights on” and try to turn some off.

    These all seem like fine efforts to make, but here is the problem: the AC and lights in HER private office are always on, literally always. Even when she has gone for the day she leaves the AC in her office running on full blast. I have literally never seen her turn her lights off. Sometimes she will even leave the TV running in there.

    Is there a way to like…bring this up to her? Or do we just need to quietly grumble about it? Are we bananas to think that if she is going to enforce these policies, she needs to follow them too?

    1. Goddess47*

      If you have the capital to do so, innocently ‘volunteer’ — “Hey! I see your AC and lights were accidentally left on last night! I’d be glad to go in and turn them off when we close up for the day if you’d like?” and when she says something about your working area, bring it up cheerfully again. Be relentlessly cheerful in volunteering to remind her… “Oh, you’re leaving for the day? Don’t forget to turn off your AC and lights!” and then the regretful, “Oh! I forgot to turn off your AC and lights last night! I’ll have to make myself a reminder to do that!” the next time she grumbles about not-full dishwashers.

      If you have colleagues that will join in, you can share the load…

      But, good luck. I suspect you’re going to need it!