open thread – September 29-30, 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.

{ 1,091 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Hi! A few people have asked about the “you may also like” related links that appear at the bottom of posts, because they’re no longer appearing on the home page.

    The links are still there if you click through to the individual post. But they’re not currently displaying on the home page, so the only way to see them is to click on the post itself. (The plugin that provides those got updated, and the update broke the home page part. I’ve got to hire someone to fix it.)

    Meanwhile, though, you might also like the Surprise Me button in the top menu, which will take you to a random post!

    1. Hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

      thanks, alison! i noticed this the other day, but wasn’t sure if it was something on my end. thank you for the clarification!

      also i am a hige fan of the “surprise me!” feature. :)

    2. Sloanicota*

      Ooh I love the random page feature of TVTropes, and I’m sure people will spend many happy hours with “surprise me” here!

      1. Hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        can confirm, have spent many happy hours with the “surprise me!” feature. :D

    3. Koala Tea*

      I do love the “Surprise Me” button especially when it takes me to a post with an update or two and down the rabbit hole I happily go! :D

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I got a laugh recently when I was nodding along with a comment before I realized it was one of my first comments!

    4. too many dogs*

      Thank you for letting us know. I really enjoy the links to related posts, and either find a new problem & solution you gave, or re-read ones I’ve seen before and get a refresher course. I just tried the “Surprise Me” button. This might be my new favorite thing.

  2. Hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

    Hi y’all. This isn’t the update I wanted to give. Yesterday I (31/F/Chicago) got placed on my second strike for my performance review (strike 1 happened the literal day after I god a decent mid year review). I was getting better in terms of errors (and thanks to my new trainer), but in terms of mastering basic concepts of the job, I am apparently not doing so great in that area (I think it’s partially due to initial training and lack of support I got when I was first moved to this team). My boss gave me today off so I can do some “soul searching” and decide if this is the right job for me (she wants to touch base next week).

    Option A: stay in this job until I find something new. It gives me benefits and I can afford rent, but it’s soul sucking. And I’m not good at it, and it’s really affecting my mental health. And I’m also pretty sure management wants me out.
    Option B: quit, rely on savings, hope I find something soon.

    I feel like, when I’m applying for other jobs, explaining that I quit because I wasn’t a good fit is a better look than explaining that I was terminated. My coworkers say I should stick it out because it’s a paycheck, and if I quit I won’t get unemployment. (They also say I deserve better and to not cry at my desk a few times a week.) And if my boss didn’t want to do a checkin next week, I’d probably feel better about doing that. But she’s gonna want an answer, and I’m thinking we’ll talk on Monday.

    Mostly up until this week, I genuinely thought all I had to do was get my errors down and I’d be okay. And I’ve been trying really hard. But now, apparently, it’s errors down + the understanding. Is there a professional way of saying “yeah no I’m absolutely not a good fit buuuuuuut I need the paycheck and benefits until I find something else”? I can almost guarantee she won’t let me stay and job hunt on the side, but I am hoping she’d let me stay two weeks until the next pay period (I have a decent amount of savings but I’ll take what I can get). I’ve never been one of those people who could find a job in a week. But I’m not planning on doing a total field switch this time so hopefully it won’t take as long.

    I do plan on reaching out to a few staffing agencies (which, in hindsight I should have done all along but I truly thought things were getting better); but if anyone has one to recommend, or jobs to look for. I really love the regularity of an office job and I thrive on routine.

    But mostly, this is a really sucky situation to be in. I’ve truly never been in trouble like this – personally, but also professionally. It’s also embarrassing that things are this bad, although I do think leadership played a huge role in this. I cried all through the meeting yesterday.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Aww, I’m sorry, that sucks. And it sucks to have to launch a new job search when you’re beaten down and feeling crappy – been there. I wonder if you could negotiate some severance if you agree to quit. I don’t know how much the unemployment insurance matters to you, hopefully others can advise. My fingers are crossed that if you activate your network a new opportunity will open up for you quickly. (I agree that hoping to stick it out there doesn’t seem reasonable at this point).

    2. Cinnamon Hair*

      Option A is probably the more logical choice…

      …but I would recommend Option B. I know how bad a soul-sucking job that ruins your mental health is. I left one a few months ago. I was well-paid, but that was the only perk and it didn’t matter. I was drowning.

      Option B can be really scary, of course, as you won’t know how fast you’ll find something else. So, I would try to plan for the worst-case scenario. Say you run out of savings and you haven’t found another job yet, what would/could you do? Could you stay with family or friends for a little bit until you find something?

      1. Hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        luckily i have enough savings to last me a few months if i need. but hopefully it won’t take a few months to find something else….

        i agree that i should go with option b, even if a is the more logical choice. the thought of quitting is terrifying BUT honestly going to a job i don’t like and am not doing well in is also not a solid option either.

        1. Justin*

          I was sort of in your situation and with a small child I had no choice but to stay as long as I could. I actually did manage to keep my job by, uh, sacrificing time with my baby (not ideal) to cut down errors.

          But if you don’t have to feed a child or whatever, your mental health is probably not worth feeling that bad.

        2. m2*

          Might you ask if you could try to fix the issues and stay another 2-4 weeks and then speak to your manager again? Maybe ask for weekly meetings to discuss your work for that week? If it isn’t feasible use your vacation/sick time so you can keep insurance.

          That way you could really start applying to jobs and will still be on insurance while you look. Does your insurance cover the entire month? If so, maybe you can leave early and just have to find something by November (Cobra is $$).

          Or negotiate it as a layoff (in writing) or negotiate in WRITING what your reference will say. How long were you there? Because if short period maybe this doesn’t matter, but I would get in writing about a reference so if someone does a background check only positive things come up. This might mean they can only confirm employment dates, but it is better than having them talk about issues.

          Do you have vacation or sick leave left? IL pays out vacation I believe but if you have sick leave left, use it. Call out early next week and apply for jobs. If not I would use it before you leave so you have more $ and insurance.

          I wish you luck! Sending positive vibes.

          1. Hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

            unfortunately the issues i am having are kind of key to being able to do my job. we already have weekly meetings and things are not getting better. and honestly this job is stressing me tf out and i don’t want to stay here. i was already job hunting, but was hoping things were getting better enough so i could stay and find something before leaving. but unfortunately that’s not how things are playing out.

            however! i will look into negotiating a layoff and make sure to get it in writing – which is key.

        3. Random Dice*

          The manager is hinting as hard as possible for you to quit. Take the hint, you’re going to get fired. They really don’t want to fire you, they want you to leave.

    3. ferrina*

      I’ve been following your journey every week, and unfortunately I’m not surprised. Sometimes a bad start + a bad fit = you just can’t get up to speed in a reasonable timeline, no matter how smart you are or how hard you work. I’ve been there- it’s awful and it does a number on your psyche.
      I just want to reaffirm that that initial training is crucial. I have visibility into all onboardings at my company, and when someone doesn’t get that foundational training and support, it sets them up for long-term failure. I have seen very bright, very hard working people go on PIPs or let go because their managers failed to give them a half-decent onboarding. Even when the problem was discovered, it was very difficult (if not impossible) to come back from it. I know you feel embarrassed, but you are not the one that should be. The system failed you, and your onboarding manager failed you. You can’t groom a llama when your only tool is a rock- it’s on your onboarding manager to ensure you have sheers so you have a fighting chance.

      You need to leave this job. Staying is no longer an option- management is telling you pretty clearly that they are giving you a chance to set the terms of your exit, but you won’t be staying much longer. Don’t spend you energy fighting this- instead, invest your energy in the future.

      A few thoughts:
      – Is there an internal transfer you can make? You may be able to tell your manager that you are aware that this role isn’t a good fit, but you did really well in your last role and would love to stay at the company and do something similar.
      – Are they willing to turn this into a layoff? I was once let go as a one-person layoff. My manager insisted it was a firing because I made errors (literally 3 errors in one month- that was all she could find), but HR filed it as a layoff because they didn’t repost my role (they also knew my manager’s logic was faulty). I got unemployment, and it didn’t hurt as much in my job search.
      -If you haven’t started looking for other jobs, update your resume and cover letter this weekend. Get that first job application out. The mental battle is very real, and you’ve just used a lot of mental energy in trying to keep this job. Let the job go, and refocus that energy. Jump those first hurdles to give yourself a running start. It will also help you mentally start thinking of this job as being in the past and looking at new opportunities for the future.

      Good luck!!

      1. Hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        you know, i don’t think i’m surprised, either, but i so badly wanted to make this work. i tried really, really hard, but its been rough from the very beginning.

        thank you for this, i needed to hear it (or read it). i do feel like i had really insufficent training. once i started working with my coworker/new trainer, i felt a world of difference. it meant nothing, i guess, but i at least felt like i had a handle on the work, you know? and apparently people move through this training in a couple months, and i can’t help but wonder why nobody did anything sooner, once it bacame clear that something was not working? maybe i could have moved then, or done something different had i known. i also know that a lot of people have left this team in the last year or so, in large part because of the team leader. make of that what you will.

        i did ask about moving to a new team, and they said that the team i am on is pretty “entry-level” and if i can’t master that, i won’t be successful on other teams, because they’re pretty gray. i tried explaining that something more black and white might be a better fit, but it’s a no-go. (i think they were thinking only of options on the unbrella of teams they are on, but i would have been willing to move to a totally different team.) anyway, regardless, moving is not an option.

        luckily i’ve spent the morning applying for jobs. nothing more than a couple, but even just looking at possible options is a help.

        thank you for this comment, it was really comforting to read. i take responsibility, but it’s not all 100% my fault.

        1. Nesta*

          It definitely isn’t 100% your fault. I would say it isn’t even something you are to blame for at all.

          When a brand new employee, who is working hard and is committed to the work, isn’t doing well the organization has failed somewhere along the way. Either their on-boarding and training process is failing, or their interview process failed, or they failed to produce a good job description.

          If you were not given the tools to succeed and people have been fleeing this team because of the leadership… it sounds like the problem is most entirely on them. Don’t let them rob you of your confidence when they are the ones who did the worst job.

          1. Hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

            so the thing is…. i was moved to this team a few months after i got hired. the original job i was hired for was more research-based, and more in line with the job experience i had.

            apparently that team did not have enough work (???) so i was moved to this team by my boss’ boss (who is yet another reason why people are leaving). it was a purely “business” move and i had no say. not related to my job performance on the research team, i specifically asked about that when i got moved. but i don’t think they considered anything beyond “ok, this team needs help, let’s move (my name)!”

            anyway. yes, ultimately i would say leadership is the problem.

            1. My Brain is Exploding*

              so there’s your answer whether you quit or are fired! You were hired to do one job and moved to a different job; in sure Alison has good wording for that.

              1. aiya*

                exactly!!! you were hired to do job A, but then they pulled a switcharoo on you without your input and placed with in job B – a job that 1) you did not ask for and more importantly 2) did not align with your expertise. It’s no surprise that job B didn’t work out! I wouldn’t worry about potential employers betting an eye on firing since you’re able to provide a valid reason.

                1. goddessoftransitory*

                  It’s like hiring a llama groomer and then going oh, wait, we actually need you to feed and polish this basilisk. It’s ridiculous to just assume everybody has the same skill sets, especially when they were clearly hired for Job A, not B, in the first place!

            2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

              I am totally in the same boat and it sucks. I was transferred to a new role because my old one didn’t have enough work and I am NOT a fit for this one. No one is available to train me — there’s no one even responsible for training me up. My boss means well but can’t help me develop these skills. She is super positive about my abilities and thinks I can do it — but every month it’s more and more clear to me that my skills are not transferrable and what I can do doesn’t line up with what needs to be done. It’s absolutely killing me, I’m crying all the time. It’s time to start the exit strategy conversations.

              1. Hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

                heyyyyyy. i get that, 10000%. i’ve cried at and because of work more in the last few months than i have in the last several years. it sucks and i’m sorry.

                anyway, i wish i would have realized (or been explicitly told) how bad things really were for me, that things were not going well and wouldn’t be getting better. i’d have started job searching (or asked about moving again) literal months ago and might have left on better terms than i’ll be leaving on. bc even if i quit/get laid off/fired, it’s still not the way i want to go out.

                again, i’m so sorry. sending you all the good vibes.

            3. kalli*

              this is what you say when you talk about why you left: ‘I was hired for A, a research role, but my previous employer redeployed me to B, a non-research role, and it ended up not working out as well as the research role. Unfortunately they ended up not having any research work for me to do, so I’m looking for something that’s more aligned with my expertise.’ And then highlight how the role you’re looking for is something you know you would be good at.

    4. WantonSeedStitch*

      Oh man, I am so sorry to hear this. It’s truly sucky. I remember feeling much the same in my old job, ages ago. I did end up quitting and doing temp work/relying on savings for a bit until I found something permanent. It was scary and I barely had enough to get me through until I got a job, but then again, I was also in my mid-20s and at an entry level job that had never paid very much. One thing that helped was that I also got paid out for my unused vacation time at the end of my employment there. I’d been unaware that happened, and I was relieved when I saw the size of my final paycheck. Maybe doing some budgeting would help you make a decision?

      1. Hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        i know our vacation is a “use it or lose it” kind of thing, but maybe that’s different if you leave? anyway, maybe i’ll aask about this!

        1. whimsy*

          Building on @WantonSeedStitch’s comment, temp work can be very liberating after a bad job. It is often quite repetitive and low responsibility so there’s less pressure you can put on yourself. Plus, somehow it doesn’t seem too bad if you ask questions. In fact, people often seem to like the temp asking questions as it makes them feel like experts. If you hate the work, you can tell yourself it’s just temporary.

          I was so relieved and grateful to do audiotyping all day after leaving a bad job with nothing lined up.

          Sending you all good wishes. Sounds as though you were set up to fail by people who were paid to do much better.

          1. Hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

            honestly low responsibility and repetitive work sounds truly amazing right now.

            how did you get into audiotyping? or temp work in general, like, is there an agency or job board?

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              Dozens of agencies across the country for everything from factory line workers & entry level office staff to accountants and IT and software engineers.

              Do a local to you websearch and interview them. Ask if they offer insurance to ongoing temos and what the threshold is for being able to buy in.

            2. whimsy*

              I got the temping through a recruitment agency. I’d never done autdiotyping before but I guess I scrubbed up OK because I was placed with a law firm that needed someone to type up letters and reports.

              I’ve seen specialist audiotyping agencies on line. Might be worth a look.

              One surprise benefit of the job was reading about the legal fixes the clients had got into. Whatever questionable decisions I had made, they were small fry compared to those of the firm’s clients. This was strangely good for my self esteem.

        2. ThatGirl*

          In Illinois there is a law that accrued, unused vacation time must be paid out. So yes, you should get a lump sum for that if/when you leave.

      1. Hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        i honestly had not considered negotiating it as a layoff, but i’ll look into this! suggestions on how to do this are welcome. :)

        1. Mztery1*

          I was in a similar position years ago, and explained that I understood it was not a good fit, and I hadn’t written to the challenge, but I did not consider it a firing for Cars. It kind of stopped them in their tracks and I was able to get unemployment. I don’t know where you live but at least you’re in California firing for cause is very specific and just the fact that you weren’t doing a good job doesn’t necessarily bother you from getting unemployment, but I would try to negotiate it before you leave and if you think it would make sense, that would be a larger fight than just laying you off maybe that would work. But you know your manager, and other people better than I obviously am – if you think the soft touch is better than I would just ask for their “mercy” to make it as painless for you as possible.

    5. NewJobNewGal*

      If your boss hasn’t been hostile, then they would likely welcome a negotiation for departure. It’s always a risk, but since your boss gave you the ‘soul searching’ speech, it sounds like they are looking for you to open that conversation.
      I was pushed out of a job and I felt destroyed, but I survived. My next job actually launched me on my current career. If I wasn’t pushed out, I never would have gotten that job that led to the fabulous job that I have now. Not that everything turns into rainbows, but sometimes the universe pushes you where you need to be. Good Luck!

      1. Hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        agreed @ the universe. :)

        obviously i do not love the position i am in, but there is some relief? like, i’ve been struggling hard for a really long time – longer than i realized – and idk, it’s just weirdly nice that there’s some resolution, even if that means i quit (or negotiate a layoff) and rely on savings/temp work.

    6. WantonSeedStitch*

      I’ll also add: I got the job that started me on my current career path (which I love and am good at) through a temp position. I can’t remember the name of the staffing group I was with at the time (early 2000s), but I do remember they had an arrangement where if they didn’t have an open position for you, they’d send you to work with volunteers at a local nonprofit for the day and pay you the staffing firm’s base hourly wage, so at least you’d have something coming in. I guess they got to write that off in their taxes or something.

      1. Hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        that’s awesome! :) i’ll look into temp work, it might be a good mental break, which i think i need right now. especially if there’s an option to make it permanent. i love work that is low-stakes and repetitive.

        1. Majestic Cackling Hen*

          It can also be a good way to find workplaces you like, or learn about new fields that you might not have thought of. I never thought about prospect research before, because I didn’t know it existed. But temping as an admin for a fundraiser was the gateway to a job in the prospect research office there, and that was the first step in a great career that suits me SO MUCH BETTER than admin work.

        2. Tammy 2*

          I am not sure if your screen name means you are currently in libraries, but I just wanted to share that I left a library job due to a family situation in 2007 when the library job market was really tough and I didn’t have any location flexibility due to the family situation.

          I took a temp job working on a client record digitization project at a private services firm, was hired permanently there as the records manager there when the former person retired, and now I run the records program for a large organization.

          I am much happier (I don’t have the patron stress or take my work home in the same way) and I think I am better compensated than I would be if I’d stayed on the library track I was on.

          If this is striking a chord and you think you might want to look into an information governance path, you might want to connect with your local ARMA chapter. This path is a really good fit for people with an affinity for library work.

          1. Hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

            thank you so much for this! i did actually used to be an adult services librarian but left a year ago because of patron/admin stress. your job, and the path to it, sounds awesome and like something i would be into. thank you so much for the suggestion! :D

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

      I feel for you as I’ve been in a similar situation. Personally, I would choose option A.

      Have you talked with your boss about the lack of training and that you think that’s a (major?) contributing factor? Are there any other openings in the company that you could move to that would be better for you?

      Even if you are fired it’s not the end of your career. You don’t have to volunteer that you were fired or anything. Obviously don’t lie. But you can say a very bland general statement. I think there’s probably a post or 2 here on AAM that give good wording for when you’ve been fired.

      1. Hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        can’t move, i wish.

        and i’d love to talk about my training, but my boss plays “favorites” and i think my original trainer is one of her favorites. which means she won’t take feedback.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this site, it’s that some managers are devoted, fanatically, to shooting themselves in both feet.

          If your boss refuses to hear feedback about her favorite, it’s not on you. I might feel bad for her next victim, but sometimes you can say, hey, HEY, YOUR SLEEVE IS ON FIRE and they insist that it’s just toasting their marshmallows, y’know?

    8. JSPA*

      First step: when time is limited, assigning blame (or causality) is effort and attention wasted. Functionally, it changes nothing (except how you feel about yourself, which of course is a big thing…but it isn’t something you can work out in the context of your employment). Plus, any “I was hard done by” vibes will likely set your boss’ teeth on edge, especially if she’s bending over backwards to make this as non-traumatic for you as possible. Which it seems like she is (?).

      Next step: Check in with your boss on the timeline. If they’re ready boot you out in a month regardless, the calculus is different from if they’d be happy with you agreeing to leave in 3 months. Or you might be able to agree on modest severance and a neutral-good reference if you leave in 8 weeks.

      I’d be honest with them as far as agreeing that you’re not a good fit. But perhaps, if the company is large enough, you could add that the company has been a pleasure to work for (whether or not it’s true) and that you wonder if there might be some other role you could be shifted to, that might be a better fit. (If you’re not fully perceiving the misfit, it’s no shame to lean on the perceptions of someone who might have a clearer picture.)

      Next…are you financially in a place where you could (say) temp for a while and stay afloat?

      If (for example) you’re someone who doesn’t tend to near-automatically notice and grasp basic concepts, and equally, evaluation parameters (which often involves the same sorts of awareness) then trying multiple jobs on for size until you find one that does fit your expectations and understanding can be a solid way to deal with that.

      The negative of temping is that you’re always on the entry or the steep parts of the learning curve, which gets tiring. But on the other hand, if you’re the new person, you get cut slack. Plus a job that becomes mind-numbingly routine at 9 months may be comfortingly routine for 5 or 6 months.

      1. Hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        yeahhhhhh i don’t think she’s bending over backwards. i mean, giving me the day off, paid, is really nice, but at this point, it doesn’t change the lack of support or communication issues that have been going on for months.

        moving to another position is not an option, i did ask. and i get the impression if i do quit, i’d be expected to leave in a week or two, if not sooner.

        i also will look into temp work if needed! i’m hoping that won’t be a thing i need, just because i’m going to look for permanent work first. but i would be open to it, thanks for the suggestion!

        1. somehow*

          Also, if you have health-related benefits, get your exams. Teeth cleaning/cavity-fixing, an updated eye exam and new glasses if you need them, updated med. prescriptions, a full physical, etc.

          I’m sorry this has happened to you.

        2. JSPA*

          “Being an effective manager to Hypoglycemic Rage” and “trying to handle a parting of ways as clearly and untraumatically as possible” are two very different things.

          You can of course continue to litigate inside your own head, “what my boss should have given me to help me succeed.” (Some people chew over a single bad fit and firing for years, or a lifetime.)

          But your boss and your company have both moved on from that question.

          You’ll be a much more effective advocate for yourself if you can do the same, and work with them (and negotiate with them) to make the decoupling process work for everyone.

          Basically, good routine or bad, it still pays to stick the dismount. And to do that, you need to focus on the dismount, not on the previous X months.

          1. Hypoglycemic rage*

            you’re completely right! it’s just…. like yes, i am going to leave – hopefully i can negotiate stuff when i leave. but either way, i’ll still be leaving. it just really sucks because this is not how i wanted to go out, you know?

            but you’re right, now i gotta focus on the dismount as much as possible!

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        And many a time a good temp is requested on continual basis, or offered a permanent position! So if you do find a field or company that suits you, it’s something to watch for.

        1. Hypoglycemic rage*

          great to know! and like, if i find there’s something i enjoy, maybe i could look for long-term perm positions, even if that specific temp job doesn’t work out.

          i’ll see what i can do next week. i’ve sent in a lot of applications today and that, combined with the overall stress of all of this makes me want a glass of wine and a good book and my burrito blanket. :’)

    9. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Option 3: Discuss leaving and ask about unemployment. Quitting doesn’t mean you are forbidden from claiming or receiving it. If you are simply a bad fit, leaving is the best for everyone and good companies recognize that. They won’t challenge your unemployment claim, so you can still have some income while you look for a better job for you.
      This happened to me. It was the best thing for everyone. They hired someone who could do the job and I found a new career path.

      1. Hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        we love additional options! :) i didn’t know i could even try and negotiate this, but i welcome feedback on how to do it. i don’t know if i could be like “so can we consider this a layoff” or something like that, i’ve never negotiated anything at work.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          When I was in a job that wasn’t a good fit and got the “soul searching” conversation, I also decided that it was time to move on. I suggested an end-date a couple of months out instead of the standard two weeks, and my manager accepted it.

          On the one hand, I gave up access to unemployment. On the other hand, I had a few months of salary and benefits while I did the minimum at work and concentrated my energy on my job search.

          1. LA*

            I’ve known quite a few people who’ve done this. Probably more than thirty.

            I’m in CA and there’s a lot (A. LOT.) of hiring in law, entertainment, and tech that doesn’t work out. The reasons are usually the same – poor interviewing (picking people from certain schools/backgrounds, but not looking at skills), poor training because of turnover, the companies are not set up for actual training – it’s all trial by fire and that doesn’t work for everyone, and, and….

            All that said, the company/firm is happy to know the ‘problem’ will be solved. They can move on to hiring, which takes a while anyway, and they knew there was an end date for the employee they wanted to let go. Usually two or three months. Basically, the employee didn’t have to ‘work,’ but got paid. So the person could job search nearly full time.

            It was a win/win? Do you think they’d be open to something like that? This was usually the next conversation after the soul-searching three day weeekend.

            1. Hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

              i am not sure they’d be open to something like this, just because of the nature of the job – if they can’t train me on new stuff, that slows the team down, etc.

              but i will look into negotiating a layoff, not quitting or being fired.

              also i – weirdly – love that other people have ALSO had the “soul-searching three day weekend.” :’) just nice to know i am not alone.

              1. LA*

                SO, not alone. It happens all the time. People, I think, just don’t talk about it. If I know more than a couple dozen in just my close friends network, I have to imagine, it’s far more common. That said, I hope you can negotiate something. Just think of it as mature adults coming together to solve a problem in the most compassionate way possible.

              2. Office Gumby*

                I’m also in the camp “Negotiate a Layoff”. You were originally hired for one thing, got moved (against your will?) into another area. That’s on them. I’d use that as part of your justification for laying off–skill mismatch on their part. It’s not like you misrepresented yourself or anything. And you actively tried to meet expectations. It wasn’t your fault you ended up where you are.

    10. RagingADHD*

      Look, this is not the economy you want to quit and rely on savings in. I am really sorry you’re in a sucky situation, but it just isn’t. I had a fantastic resume and a list of glowing recommendations as long as my arm, and it has taken me a *full year* of odd freelance and temp jobs to find a permanent role. It is always easier to find a job when you already have a job, because you don’t have the stench of desperation on you.

      I’d advise you to go to the check in and tell your supervisor that you have done some soul searching and appreciate her giving you the opportunity to consider the things you’re struggling with, and you want to continue to try to improve. Because — insert platitude here about how challenges are good and healthy, overcoming obstacles is growth, etc. Lots of thanking her for support and asking advice on what she’s like to see you do differently.

      In other words, I’d advise riding it out while you job search but not saying so. You don’t have to share everything you’re thinking.

      Good luck!

    11. Cruciatus*

      I’ve been in soul sucking places but I would still go with Option A. I know it sucks, BUT, at least for me, when I am applying to other things I feel like I have a level of control about life, and can remind myself that my current state is temporary and better things are out there. It makes staying until I can leave slightly better (not great. Not even good, but slightly better). I know it’s not impossible to get another job when you’re unemployed, but I think looking while you do have one makes it easier and that is the trade-off. Plus, you’re still getting paid/benefits. But only you can really know what’s best.

      1. NewJobNewGal*

        I’d also mention that choosing to leave puts you in a good mindset. Own it. Be confident about your decision.
        I’m sure it feels scary to NEGOTIATE (aaaahhhh!!!), but once you believe that this is what you want, hopefully you will gain your power.
        Also, it’s not like HR has never done this before. They likely have a standard proposal ready to go. You just need to say what will and won’t work from it. “I have 3 doctors appointments scheduled, I’d like to make sure my insurance will remain active for them.” That sort of thing.

        1. Hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

          yeah, that’s another fair point, i would much rather leave on my own terms, especially bc i do not see this getting any better. i do see it getting worse, and i already am stressed enough, i don’t know if i could handle it getting any worse…..

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            Think of your negotiations as picking up a ring of power. It’s scary and intimidating before you do it, but being seen beaming rays of brilliance is going to totally change the footing of your exit, for you AND your soon to be ex employers.

    12. Double A*

      Oof this sucks, but I think once you leave and get through this you’ll have a huge weight lifted off you!!

      I want to also second the idea of looking into temp work. It doesn’t usually have benefits, but it’s income and it’s usually quite low stress. I temped a lot in my 20s between jobs and I found that being pleasant and promptly doing what I was asked really impressed people. It can also sometimes open up permanent job possibilities.

      I lived near a big public university that actually had its own temp agency, so the jobs we exclusively within the university and medical centers. I’m not sure if that’s normal for big colleges to have something like that, but if you have one near you I’d check into it. Otherwise, I’d just start googling temp agencies near you. Sometimes it can take a little to get into their system.

      1. Hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        you know, it does kind of feel like a weight is gonna be lifted soon! as much as i really don’t want to leave a job without something else lined up, the writing is on the wall. if it were just a job i didn’t love, i’d stick it out. but clearly, it’s waaaay more than that at this point.

        i’ll look into temp agencies, though! something low-stress sounds awesome.

    13. Daisy-dog*

      I quit my last role without a new job lined up a year ago! It ultimately came down to the fact that Oct-Dec are my favorite months of the year and I didn’t want to spend them suffering at work & job searching. It was 100% a worthwhile decision.

      Staffing agencies have been vital for me in multiple job searches.

      1. Hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        did you reach out to them via phone or email? this is my first time working with staffing agencies and i am not sure what the best approach is. i don’t want to cold call but i also would like to make sure i can get hte ball rolling, if that makes sense?

        1. Daisy-dog*

          With the first 2 agencies that I worked with, I applied online through their job postings. And then I had an in-person interview to meet with them and discuss my goals. Those were both for more entry level, administrative type roles. And I worked with 2 because I moved to the other side of DFW.

          I met the most recent agency at a conference. They specialize is HR & finance roles. They helped me get my current role which is pretty specialized.

    14. Velociraptor Attack*

      My husband got laid off at the beginning of June when his company laid off his entire department org-wide. He’s got almost 20 years in the industry, great references, the whole thing. He just got a job offer.

      It’s a rough time right now and I’d be nervous about the possibility of running entirely through my savings. I don’t know if they’ll be willing to classify you as a layoff, especially if they need to rehire the position, but there is a lot to be said about having unemployment as a cushion while you’re job searching.

      I think the fact that you were moved from one job for another also makes it easier to say when asked something about how your role was changed to a different one than you were hired for and ultimately it was clear that it mutually wasn’t a good fit.

    15. thelettermegan*

      so my 2 cents of advice are for today: reach out to friends, family, random acquitances, tell them you’re looking, and that you’re open for anything.

      Then take the weekend off. Grab whatever comfort food/friends/activities and just do that. Whatever it takes to remind yourself that you are loved and valued not for the work you do but because you are a human being who touches others in vital ways just by being alive.

      Come Monday, go in, and put your nose to the grindstone. Be serious, be quiet, and if anyone talks to you, mention you’ve been having some tooth pain. Why tooth pain?

      I’ll tell you why.

      Emergency dental appointments.

      You will have a few of these ‘appointments’ over the next week or so, and anyone who figures it out will probably be happy for you, even your boss. Nobody likes to fire anyone, and she probably feels awful about the poor fit and experience you’re having. As long as you are serenely productive for the time you are there, you should be fine. If she’s weird about it, that’s her problem.

      1. Hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        this is so nice, thank you. :’) i am more than my job and the failures in it.

        i don’t think my boss feels bad, though. when we talked yesterday, i mentioned that this move felt, to me, on a whim, that (before i was told i couldn’t be moved) i’d like to go to something that’s more black and white. my feelings weren’t really acknowledged? like she talked about how my company moves people all the time, that it doesn’t happen on a whim, etc. i don’t think her moving me was her call, i think it was her boss’ decision, but i don’t think she feels bad about how this all went down.

    16. Just a thought…*

      Check your state laws, but we have an option called “resignation in lieu of termination” that enables you to resign, but if they put that as the reason for employment separation on your paperwork with the state, you still get unemployment. Just make sure that they only put that on your paperwork and aren’t going to give it out as your reason for leaving if a future employer verifies your employment. That can be better than a negotiated layoff in some industries or for some kinds of positions.

    17. goddessoftransitory*

      Ah, man, that sucks.

      My advice is: picture this. You magically become perfect at the job and all this crap and bad management and misfitting goes away. Everything about the actual job and your coworkers/management stays the same.

      Do you want the job? Even under these hypothetical circumstances? Speaking for myself I don’t know if I could forgive and forget enough to actually enjoy my work, or move on in this workplace.

      You aren’t wrong, bad, inept or stupid for not being able to fit yourself into this particular job, and staying seems to be draining the energy you could use to find a much better one.

      1. Hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        …..dang this is a solid point! no, i wouldn’t – and frankly, couldn’t – stay here even if everything went away. i was bitter about the move long before all the Bad Stuff started happening, and then that made it worse and i became more bitter. so like you, i can’t just forgive and forget.

        thank you for this, i’ve decided that i’ll be leaving in some form, some way or another – i’ll see if i can get it to be a layoff, or something so i can collect unemployment or whatever, but. yeah. i can’t stay.

    18. Pivot Time*

      As a long-time librarian, I have to say that the initial training and the help of your higher-ups is so important when in a new position. It sounds like you weren’t given what you needed to be successful at this job or in your department and the bait and switch they did on you sure didn’t help. You are trying your best but the fact that your supervisor or leadership won’t even look at how you could be better placed in the organization is a red flag for me. It’s not your fault that they’re being crappy. This job is making you miserable and that’s not ok. To me, if you can give your two weeks, get in with an agency, heal from this traumatic time and then get on with something that will work for you, I’d say that’s the better option. I wish you the best in your future.

      1. Hypoglycemic rage*

        sorry for the confusion, i am not in libraries anymore. the username was from when i was applying to jobs hoping to get out of libraries. i’ll change it going forward haha.

        regardless, this is another nice comment. i’m relieved to know that management actually does have some – or a lot – of responsibility for how things are playing out. it’s not just a “me” problem, you know?

  3. No Deadline No Resolution*

    Please help me, I am struggling with what seems like the most basic office product: how do we get a document “done” ?? Our current process is that someone will ask me to write a draft report or a memo, which I will do, and then share it with the leadership team. Then my boss will go through it and insert comments that are questions, like “should this be in the present tense?” – which, I mean, I wrote it and I thought past tense made more sense, but if you tell me to change it, I’m happy to. Or, “maybe we could reference X thing here” when I don’t know anything about X thing and don’t really see how it makes sense. The other leadership who might know about X thing will either have no edits (although they should), or make a few grammatical changes – but nobody answers boss’s questions and the document floats in a state of semi-doneness for infinity. Do I need to call a meeting now about all these “question comments” ? I can’t just unilaterally reject my bosses’ suggestions as she’s my boss. How can we move things along? Can I talk to her about this in some nice way?

    1. Cinnamon Hair*

      Sounds like an “ask your boss” situation to me. I would phrase it kind of like you did here–and ask her what she wants you to do when the other leaders don’t answer her questions, etc.

      1. No Deadline No Resolution*

        I wish I could tell the boss to either make edits, or don’t make edits, but don’t put questions to nobody in the document. We’re also not really a large enough organization for her to send the document back to me for her revisions – and I’m not a mind reader. Make the edit you want to see, boss!! Just do it!!

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

          Could you make that as a suggestion, but in a more diplomatic way? Like Hey boss since documents aren’t being finished because questions aren’t being asked could you either assign the other person who knows the information to add it or could you add the info yourself?

          The other thing could be do you have the standing to push the other people to add the information or to give you the information to add yourself?

        2. JSPA*

          Writing is not her job, though, right? It is yours. She wants you to consider whether present tense might be more correct (and maybe check Elements of Style or some grammar program).

          But ideally, if she wants you to add something about X thing, and you have no idea what, you’d immediately fire back, “Hi boss, I’ve racked my brains, and I don’t know what aspect of X thing you’re talking about. Give me more to go on…or tell me to send it out as is.”

          As for the grammar thing, you write three options:

          Original: following the fire, we were faced with rebuilding.
          Ongoing present: following the fire, we are faced with rebuilding.
          Combined: following the fire, we were faced with rebuilding, and that process is still underway.

          The first is correct; the second is correct, and emphasizes the current ongoing need; the third is wordier, nevertheless correct, gives more context, emphasizing that rebuilding started immediately, yet there is much yet to do.

          Which is to say, this isn’t necessarily a correction of grammar for grammar’s sake, but a style tweak that affects the reader’s perception of the situation.

          1. OP*

            We are too small to say that writing is my job, but it’s true that I was tasked to produce this document and am trying to produce it.

        3. Random Dice*

          I think your boss IS giving you direction, but isn’t comfortable with giving orders so they’re phrasing it indirectly.

          It took me awhile as a manager to get comfortable with giving direction directly – especially because I’m female. I thought I had to soften it, to make it seem collaborative… But really I wanted them to do it my way.

          So I’d recommend you look at the question as an indirectly stated order. “Should this be subjunctive?” translates to “Please make this subjunctive.”

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      So I have 3 suggestions.

      1) Ask your boss flat-out what she means by those comments – are those just how she thinks through things? Is she asking for opinions from others? Is she telling you to look at that point and then use your own judgement to change or not? You say “I thought about it and decided it should be in the past tense” – but perhaps she doesn’t know that you did that consciously; maybe she’s used to reviewing stuff from sloppier writers.

      2) Put a deadline in. “Here’s the draft of the new Llama Policy document. We need comments and edits by COB Tuesday.”

      3) Forestall the open-ended questions by putting out some metadata/description and asking for specific feedback. “Here’s the draft of the new Llama Policy document. We are redoing this policy in order to meet the new federal organic wool standards, so please read that section carefully. Nancy and Bob, please especially verify that we have the references to the US Code and Federal Acquisition Regulation paragraphs correct. We have a copy-editor engaged for the final edits, so you don’t need to proofread for spelling, punctuation, or grammar.”

      1. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

        Yes, yes, yes to these. This sounds very much to me a situation where the way you and your boss approach document edits is quite different from each other so you should have a conversation to get aligned about where they are coming from. Some people throw out suggestions and are happy for the author to decide while others mean it in a more directed way.

        After talking to the boss, try implementing the process the way that was discussed, and adjust as needed if your boss responds differently than you anticipated.

      2. Quinalla*

        Agreed, you need to get on the same page as your boss on how to approach the questions. Does she want you to give an answer if you don’t make the change being suggested? Does she want you to make a judgement call as the writer and not involve boss further? Something else? Get on the same page here as we can give you advice all day, but what matters is how your boss wants it to work.

        On things like “Should we add something about subject X here?” and you don’t know what X is or how it could relate, those you should ask your boss to clarify.

        And yes, you should have a deadline for edits/suggestions and even send out a reminder a day or two before if that makes sense. Make sure to give yourself enough time to pick up edits, have any back and forths on suggestions/questions and then either send out the final or send for one final approval before sending it out.

        Also, maybe talk to your boss. If boss is the only one giving feedback, would it make more sense for boss to read your first go, you edit and then send to the bigger group for final approval or whatever? That way if they are bothering to read, it’s basically the final version?

    3. amoeba*

      In my case, I’ll just adapt the thing that make sense to me (and quietly drop the ones that don’t, ahem). Depends on your boss though, mine was generally fine with that – if not, you might want to insert a comment on why you don’t take the recommendation. Then either send around one more time “for final review” or, if there’s no more open comments/questions, just send it around again with “hi all, thanks for the suggestions – I adapted accordingly, here’s the final document!”. If you did do a second, final review round, send the final version after that.

      TBH, with most documents I don’t bother with two rounds, but for some things (external manuscripts, for instance) it makes sense.

      1. I edit everything*

        This would be my approach as well. Things like “Should this be present tense?” can be considered and either acted upon or not, as you deem appropriate. If referencing “X thing” seems relevant, but you don’t know enough about it to do an informed reference, then you can follow up with your boss for specifics. Do your final version and send it around. You can add a note to the effect of “Boss suggested adding a reference to X thing on page 3. Alonzo, since you’re the X thing director, could you see if that makes sense and if so, add something appropriate?”

      2. Hell naw*

        This is my suggestion for you too, OP. Your boss sounds like my current manager, a young, inexperienced, not especially talented guy who likes to make comments just to sound smart (or because he thinks they are smart? They’re not, most of the time).

        At first I engaged with the pedantic edits or open-ended questions that added nothing, but over time, I’ve learnt to ignore the ones that really add nothing or aren’t answerable in the scope of the doc, for instance, “we call this a strategy, but should it really be strategic framework?” or similar non-specific thought that goes nowhere.

        I’ll make the changes that are relevant, then close the loop and submit to whomever. If he were to come back to me with questions about what I changed or not, I’d have answers, but I promise you that most of the time people just want docs finished and sent off.

        So yes to the suggestions above: big picture discussion of what boss wants, steer to make them do their own edits (it’s a time saver!), and for the rest, learn to let the tiny pedantic comments go.

        Good luck – I feel you!!

    4. Prickly Hedgehog*

      If you’re working in a shared document, one thing that can help is tagging people—either with a question (e.g. “Person A does this paragraph capture your department’s stance?”) or to flag that you think you’ve addressed it (to your example, “Boss, I added a few lines referencing X. Let me know if you have additional feedback!”)

      Deadlines are also the best! Ask for feedback by a set date and even say that you’ll incorporate feedback by a later date and send around a final version for review x days after that (more or fewer rounds as makes sense for your organization and the level of polish / sign-off needed). This gives a lot of clarity to the process.

    5. S*

      I think what you need here is what we’ll call a Document Review Process. The “nice way” to handle this is to go to her with this as a proposal, and ask for her to approve it. I’d suggest it look something like this:

      1 – you get a request for a document
      2 – you clarify the request with the original requestor, including who should review and approve (google RACI), when it’s due, and *why* it’s due then – best if it’s tied to some real requirement, like if so-and-so needs it for whatever.
      3 – you draft it
      4 – it goes to a group of people (either a standard group, or an ad hoc group defined in step 2) for feedback. Give them a polite deadline for feedback (before it’s due, to give yourself time to implement their feedback) and the why
      5 – a day or two before the deadline, re-send the request and note the deadline and the why
      6 – you implement feedback.
      7 – you go to a single person for approval (again, either a standard person like your boss, or a specific person defined in step 2). Helpful to summarize the process at this point, like “I implemented the feedback I got from these people, these other people did not get back to me.”
      8 – you might have to implement further feedback from the approver, but then you go back and ask for final approval, politely but with an air to marking it as complete. The “why” is your friend here.

      Good luck!

    6. Donkey Hotey*

      First and foremost: deadlines are your friend. When sending a draft, always include a “please provide feedback by end of business XXX XX, 2023.”

      If you don’t receive enough feedback or answers, you can either research it offline with the person who made the comment, or make the obvious revisions and send a second draft with a note calling out “There is a question about X, can (department) please assist? ”

      And finally, I take “should this be present tense?” as “convert this to present tense.” Do it and send it out for a second draft. If they dislike it, they’ll tell you. The bigger picture on this part is: when writing for a corporate setting, it is vital to remove one’s ego from the equation. Boss wants in present tense, boss gets it in present tense. Many new writers treat edits like someone is operating on their children. It’s ephemera. On stuff of that scale, do your best and let go of the need to be right.

      1. No Deadline No Resolution*

        I just wish she would write the comment “make it present tense.” I’m not married to my draft and this wasn’t my idea in the first place, but the question element of it confounds me. “Should it be” – I don’t know, like, morally?? It feel like a big picture question rather than a simple instruction. But you’re right, I think I’ll just try to mentally revise (heh!) what she writes in the comments.

        1. Donkey Hotey*

          Learning to read your editor can be frustrating, no doubt. And unless you have a solid, trained editor who marks it in official style, it part of the nature of the beast.

          Good luck!

        2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

          Is your boss wishy-washy in how she expresses other things too? Maybe this is just a people-pleasing, low-confrontation style that she has.

        3. Feral Humanist*

          As a writer, I consider “should this be…” to leave the answer up to my discretion. But I would probably ask my boss directly at least once to make sure that it wasn’ta conflict OF communication styles (I am accustomed to BRUTALLY THOROUGH editing from a previous position lol).

        4. Mill Miker*

          I don’t do a lot of editing, but I do review code, and one of the biggest challenges I’ve had is asking someone “Why did you use approach Y here instead of our standard X”, and having them come back with “Fixed it.” and they’ve changed to X. And, like, I know they knew X was standard, and I’m assuming they picked Y for a reason. So then I have to ask if there’s going to be any problems with changing to X. To which they’ll either change back to Y or do something else, or say they don’t understand what action I want them to take.

          And all I wanted was a sentence or so answering the question.

        5. DrSalty*

          Reviewing documents for my direct reports is a huge part of my job. I phrase comments as questions when I don’t know the answer and want them to look into it further. If you think it’s right as written and have double checked, then I wouldn’t change it. Especially for grammatical/minor editorial comments. For content issues you don’t know how to address, then you need to follow up with your boss for more details

          1. Beth**

            This. I know I often write comments on my direct reports’ written work as questions. This tends to be when my reaction is that it needs to be changed but I am open to convincing that it could stay as it is. If something definitely needs changing I will write the comment less equivocally e.g. “please use active voice here”.

            But I don’t see it as my job to re-write things for my direct reports. That’s their job.

            I am very open to push back on my comments as a manager if someone has a good reason for doing something a particular way, but I need them to tell me that or write it down or something, not just ignore what I wrote.

        6. Cyborg Llama Horde*

          I agree to ask your boss. I can tell you what *I* would mean if I wrote that, but only your boss can tell you whether her “Should this be present tense?” means “I want this to be present tense; please change it” or “I might make this present tense but it’s your call.”

    7. RagingADHD*

      If it is a thing you can do like change tense, do it.

      If it is a thing you can’t do on your own like fill in the mystery meaning of thing X, meet with your boss to get clarification on why, or what she would want to say, and mention that none of the leaders who know about X seemed to think it was necessary. Pin her down so you can either get info to complete it, or discard it with her.

    8. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      Well hm. I’ve been in your position and it never occurred to me that I shouldn’t answer a question that was left on a document I drafted. For this particular comment I would explain why I thought third person was a better choice then ask if they wanted me to change it. For things that were outside my authority to decide (should we reference X here) I would reply “I’m not familiar with that project. @LeaderA @LeaderB, thoughts?”

      Now I wonder if folks at previous jobs where I was in that kind of role thought I was overstepping.

      Anyway, everyone else has crafted a much more diplomatic response but just replying to ask for what you need is still an option.

    9. Shirley Keeldar*

      Ugh, this sounds maddening. Three thoughts:

      Some editors do edit by questions and it’s very confusing until you figure that that’s what they’re doing. Try a bit of detective work to see if this is what your boss is doing. If he says “What about past tense?” and you say, “Well, I did consider that but I think present tense works better because reasons,” and he says, “No, really, what about past tense?” then he is an Edit By Questions guy. Treat questions as edits and roll eyes.

      Ask your boss to indicate who each question is for. Explain that you can’t always tell which question is an action item for you and which is for somebody else. So it should be like this–OP: What about past tense? Gregory: Do we need something about trout tap dancing here? Annika: Is this part about the flounder regulations necessary?

      Then, as has been suggested elsewhere, do your best with the edits as you understand them, send it out as “revised, please comment by DATE HERE or we’re rolling with this!” and you may actually get to that blissful stage of It’s Done.

    10. mdv*

      I have recently had to make edits to VERY IMPORTANT documents together with contributions from multiple other departments and outside agency. When people make a comment I’m not sure about, I just put clarification questions in a reply to the comment and tag that person, so they know to look at it.

    11. Buffy*

      In my experience of taking edits, “should this be X” means “I think it should be but am open to be convinced otherwise.” Personally, I’d generally go with the edit unless I really felt strongly about it, but it’s up to you to know how much your boss is looking for your writing expertise vs. wanting to have things her way. It’ll vary a lot by person.

      When I get feedback on a piece like this from a group, I’ll make the updates or not as I choose and then recirculate with notes, ie: “Here’s an updated draft of the document – boss, I left that segment in past tense for XYZ reason but I’ll switch it if you prefer. I corrected the grammar tweaks and added ABC. I’m not familiar with X – @Leader, do you have additional clarity on that? Let me know if there are additional tweaks or if we’re good to go.”

      Also strongly agree on including deadlines – I say “Let me know if you have edits by EOD, otherwise I’ll plan to send tomorrow morning.” a lot bc then if they don’t get their thoughts in on time, that’s their problem.

      1. Heather*

        this is the way. OP, if you’ve been tasked with creating the document I would assume you’re responsible for implementing comments and edits (including soft edits like “should this be changed?”) and shepherd the process of obtaining whatever information is needed. if you think you were just asked to draft it and get the ball rolling and it’s just up to a committee of people including your boss, that might be the way your firm does things but I think you might risk people looking at it as you having dropped the ball if you don’t verify that with someone.

    12. Busy Middle Manager*

      Can you do a meeting, and go through quickly, showing every area you’d think there would be an edit?

      “our competitors usually put abc here and I didn’t but nobody flagged that, are we sure that is OK?”

      “I mentions our silver line here, but didn’t mention platinum that we are launching next year, should I add it in, or is it too soon?”

      Stuff like that.

      Some people are lazy but some are just too busy to catch everything. I was pulled in 100 directions this week as a director and could easily miss huge things in a document or miss the entire email chain

  4. Cinnamon Hair*

    I’m a receptionist, and I just need to get this off my chest (even though it’s not directed at any of you).

    For goodness sake, please stop dropping by unannounced to see if the CEO “has a few minutes to chat to see how we can help each other,” and then getting annoyed at me when I say he is not available because he is not going to drop whatever he is doing or come out of his meeting to come and listen to your sales pitch right that second.

    If you must come by, please call and schedule something or make an appointment first.

    That is all.

    1. Corky's wife Bonnie*

      I used to get that in my prior receptionist job and after a while I just got amused by it. No matter what they couldn’t get past me. I even got to blow off a state senator on the Executive’s behalf, that was fun, he even came out after he was gone to ask, how did it feel to blow off a senator?” Tee-heee

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

        you would be so surprised. I used to work at as student support for an online professional development school. A few times a month I would get someone saying they had “an important meeting with Andrew” or “returning a call from Andrew” and to send transfer them to him. Andrew was the CEO and anyone who worked with him for a minute knew he went by Andy. These sales people would call Student Support because that was the only number they could get. Like they expected the lowly phone rep to be able to get them in touch with the CEO! And when we told them no they would get IRATE! I loved saying “well if you did have an appointment you would already have his personal phone number. I’d try that or his assistant’s email.” and then HANG UP!

    2. Call Sign: Shenanigans*

      I kind of have that in fundraising – people want us to come out to speak to their teams for 15-min or 30-min every week. We’re busy. We can’t just wander around town popping into the Crate & Barrel or a gym to share our story when you can get it online or come out a volunteer.

      Your CEO appreciates your gatekeeping.

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      This is hilarious if I imagine that you’re talking about the CEO of a BIG company – the kind where there’s private security and escorts, etc. Like, actual employees can’t get a meeting with the CEO, never mind a random sales person.

      More practically, sales people do this. It’s literally their job (sometimes). Yes its annoying, but they’re going to latch on to whomever they can to try to sell something. I get all sorts of sales emails and I am not the person.

      1. Cinnamon Hair*

        It’s a small company, like less than 30 people, but in a very big and well-known industry (legal).

        I know the sales people are just doing their jobs, but I’m also doing mine by stopping them. Like, my boss has literally told me that part of my job is to keep people like that from getting through because they just waste valuable time. I’m not trying to be difficult by not letting them see someone, but if I do then I get in trouble.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Ooh, you could use that to your advantage. “I’m sorry, but CEO told me that if I let one more unannounced visitor in to see him he would fire me.” And still there will be some salesperson on which that won’t work and you’ll have to call the police or something.

        2. I'm A Little Teapot*

          A salesperson who is reasonable will understand. The ones who are not reasonable have earned what they get. Do not feel bad being the gatekeeper. Start polite, but if they won’t take no for an answer, that’s why we can hang up the phone or call security/police.

    4. Richard Hershberger*

      I work in a very small law office. I sometimes answer the phones. I am endlessly fascinated by the ways sales people try to get past me. My favorites are the ones where they outright lie to me to make me think this is a different sort of call that my boss wants to take. Do they not realize that I give him a summary of what the call is about before he picks up?

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        I had one sales person once claiming he needed to contact “Fergus Smith” about something or other. Unfortunately for him, he had out of date info, because Fergus Smith had been arrested and fired about seven years earlier. If you’re going to lie, scammers, try doing your research first.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          We would sometimes have salespeople call and ask for someone who had never worked for the organisation. And then get surprised when we didn’t put them through to anyone. I’m sure making cold calls by phone is a terrible thing to do for a living and therefore they don’t have a huge talent pool for staff, but I sometimes wondered if they ever sold anything to anyone!

        2. Dead Guy*

          Small family owned company. People would call and ask for Sam. I would ask which one, the would pick and I would be like I am sorry he died. Then they would ask for the second one, and I would get to say he’s dead too. Granted one of them died 7 years before the other one and the second even left a year before his death.
          I also love the calls about how they need to talk to the owner and I keep trying to explain that they actually need me for X activity, but insist on waiting to talk the owner…. and never get to.

          1. Elsewise*

            Oh man, I’ve gotten that a few times in various jobs. Even if you did get in touch with the owner/president/ceo, most of the time they’d just send you back to the peon you were originally talking to, because that peon is the one who took your call for a reason!

          2. mdv*

            It is AMAZING how often people ask for our director, not realizing that I, the person answering the phone, am the person who will actually do the thing they are asking for, not the director. I’ve been there 25+ years, and the director has actually authorized almost everyone in the office to make their own decisions on certain topics… but also, I’m the only person doing a whole list of tasks (I know, that is bad), so I’m THE PERSON anyway!

      2. The Prettiest Curse*

        The sales people that always fascinated me were the printer toner scammers who would get abusive when we told them that we had a contract to buy toner elsewhere. (Luckily, I never had to deal directly with these idiots, but the ops director would periodically send out email alerts about them.) Straightforward scamming didn’t work so you think that threats will? WTF, toner guys?

      3. Cinnamon Hair*

        Are you me? No, really, I thought I typed this for a second lol.

        People outright lie to me too. I’ve had people tell me that the manager just called them and they were just returning the call (he didn’t), or that someone from our company requested more information from the website (no one did), or that they have already been in contact with so-and-so (they have not). Ugh.

      4. Hannah Lee*

        Yeah, I don’t understand the thinking. How does lying about who you are, what your agenda is get you anywhere.

        My favorite was years ago when someone wanted me to give them the names and contact info for all the people who worked in engineering, because she was planning a birthday party for the company’s CEO and wanted to send invites.
        The CEO …. who is married to my sister.

        Me (very curious, knowing BIL is not a big ‘yay! a party!’ kind of guy):
        “oh, how fun! What’s your name? How do you know him?”
        Her: “Oh” she says “I’m Jeanine … I’m his sister-in-law”
        Me: “It’s funny I’ve never heard of you, Jeanine … because I’m his sister-in-law too”
        Her: Dead silence … then Click as she hangs up

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          The one that sticks in my mind is the guy calling from California claiming to be a lawyer needing local counsel in my state. This is a perfectly plausible claim, and definitely one my boss would want to take, so I told my boss what it was and passed the call over to him. The guy was actually pitching a referral service. These outfits are not necessarily bogus, but they are (in our experience) of only marginal value. Had he told me the truth, I would have told my boss and asked if he wanted to talk to them? But my boss certainly wasn’t going to do business with this outfit given the lying. This was the most clear cut example where lying got him past me, but nixed any chance of a sale. These guys seem to focus on the first part more than the second. Does this ever work?

          1. Hannah Lee*

            Not in my experience. It’s a knock out move anywhere I’ve ever worked

            You lied on the approach? Yeah, you’re not someone I ever want to do business with.

            Sometimes even if it’s a service/product I’d otherwise consider, there are other companies out there. And I’ll use that filter with people who repeatedly show up without scheduled … not the first time, but by the second, third time I’m like “if you’re not willing to listen to what I’m saying and respect my time for something as basic as “please contact me to schedule something instead of just popping in” after I’ve asked you to do that more than once? There is no way you’re going to be able to be a partner in defining a product/service that works for my company or working with us for the long haul.

            I’ve got one 401 plan design guy (from a respectable company) who does that last one, invariably showing up when I’m having lunch …why does he always drop by mid day? Which means I have to stop what I’m doing, swallow whatever I’m chewing at the moment, leave the lunch room, go answer the door, try to remember who he is again (while I’m thinking “did I totally space a meeting on my calendar?” which is stressful) explain to him … yet again … that he should call to schedule something. 3 months ago I was thinking of having him and his company review our current plan to see if they might offer a good alternative one. Now? Nope, not going to happen.

          2. goddessoftransitory*

            That’s what gets me–in what universe to lying and threats make the CEO go oh, I cannot wait to give you money!?

        2. Random Bystander*

          That reminds me of a long time ago, when I was working as a temp, and I had one position which was as a receptionist for some kind of non-profit (very small organization, but they were involved in planning some sort of seasonal festival at the time I was doing this assignment). So, at one point, they were wanting to do some very intensive planning on their festival, and I was told that day that I was to hold *all* calls and take messages, and they would get the messages when they took lunch/at the end of the day. So, one guy calls and asks to speak to the head of the organization (I forget what his title was … this was when Bush41 was President). So I explain that boss is unavailable, but I can take a message, and ask for the name and number, and that boss will call back. Guy very sarcastically says his name is “George Bush”. I tried very hard to get his number, but the guy just says that boss would “know who it is”. Later, when the boss did come out to get messages, I mentioned the ‘George Bush’ and he said he had no idea who it might have really been.

    5. Ama*

      Ugh I get email versions of those — I manage a volunteer board of extremely important people in the medical field for my nonprofit and there are pharma industry people who will try to go through me to get to them because they know the VIPs will just ignore a cold call, but if they can claim my org connected them they are more likely to get a response. They know that ethically they can’t ask us to make that connection so they just fish around and see if we will volunteer to connect them (some of them even hint around about wanting us to just send them our contact list which is a hard no).

      I finally made an internal policy with my boss’s blessing to tell them that I get so many requests that I can only schedule meetings if they have a specific project to discuss. That usually gets rid of the people who are just fishing.

    6. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Oh wow. I used to work in a job where everyone wanted to partner with us/sell us their stuff, and I would ask people to send me a meeting agenda with their discussion points and outcomes they were looking for.

    7. Hannah Lee*

      Cinnamon Hair – We see you and here you.

      You are absolutely just doing your job. So never hesitate to gatekeep for CEO exactly how you are doing. And please try to not take it personally or let it ruin your mood.

      As someone who has worked as a receptionist, and who now works at a small company where the front office staff consists of 3 people: the Operations Manager/CFO (me), the President, and the CEO, where any one of us could answer the door and none of us see people without an appointment:

      IME most people dropping in at THEIR convenience aren’t selling anything your company wants (except maybe the person dropping off a flyer for the new pizza place/coffee shop that just opened around the corner)

      And ANY person who is acting rude or annoyed when dealing with whoever is greeting them is someone who has NO legitimate business with the company and is someone the company would want nothing to do with even if their company did offer a product or service we might consider.

      They are trying to bully you into letting them in for one of 2 reasons
      1) they are really bad at their jobs and think this is a good idea or
      2) their product / service is junk/overpriced/not necessary and they know they would never get an appointment if they tried to set one up.

      So a bland “sorry, no, we only see people by appointment here” is all the response they should get. Followed by “do you have a brochure/line card you want drop off before you leave?”

      Feel free to toss anything the rude ones leave.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Also, sales takes an inordinate amount of confidence and you have to be inured to rejection. They are getting nos all day long and have to just keep on ticking; that’s the mindset. It’s not personal to them, although it can feel so to you (nobody has any excuse to be abusive, mind you). But it works for them just often enough that they have to keep pushing.

        1. Hannah Lee*

          Confidence … sure.
          But going door to door demanding to be let in?
          Hounding receptionists and being rude is not anything anyone “has to have to” keep doing.

          1. Sloanicota*

            Not to excuse rude behavior. But pushyness, yes, because sometimes it works. Getting face time with decision makers is how sales happen, and it’s probably happened for these people before. And all sales have to convince themselves “you’re really doing them a favor by introducing them to X wonderful product!!” I think about this all the time because I’m the fundraiser in my current role. A lot of the trainings I’ve been attending are about inculcating this mindset in yourself. It’s been a weird ride. And because of the Board Email letter earlier this week where people were saying the best way to motivate volunteers is to stop people directly in person and ask them “when” they want to sign up, because of course they’re enthusiastic about supporting your cause. But again, not excusing anyone being rude to desk staff, or trying to make light of OP’s concern. It sucks for sure.

    8. RagingADHD*

      If they get visibly annoyed, tell them, “You should know, my job is to protect his time, and he does listen to me about who is worth meeting with. You can try calling to make an appointment if you want. Have a good day.”

      Teacher voice is your friend here. Salespeople who are rude to the receptionist are idiots and bad at their job.

    9. ZSD*

      The last time I was at the optometrist, a salesperson dropped by to chat with the optometrist about their product. The receptionist was doing everything she could to be a gatekeeper, but the salesperson was pushy enough to get through to the optometrist. Who was supposed to be, you know, *examining people’s eyes.*

      1. Nightengale*

        what’s really sad is how often this works, the health care providers willing to leave patient care to meet with reps. Or one time my mother had a medical appointment and there was a rep IN THE VISIT with the doctor.

        I am a doctor who doesn’t talk to reps because usually this would more likely bias me against their product than towards it. I get so angry at the money spent on pharmaceutical marketing that then increases the cost of medications and the branded items everywhere.

        Sometimes representatives drop off material with our nurse and I look over anything written although of course I know the studies cited were all funded by the company. I accidentally walked in on one last week and told him to stop coming. The medication he represents is newish and doesn’t have a generic and so is not covered by insurance unless a patient has tried many other things first. I would love to prescribe it more often because it has a lot of benefits over other options and I have had some good results with the few patients that have tried it. The limitation is insurance. There is nothing I can do about that. There is nothing the rep talking to me or giving me more shiny brochures can do about that. I have all the scientific information that I need. But they think that the stumbling block is not having a personal relationship with the rep, not having enough shiny brochures or not having enough cookies or whatever treats they are still legally aloud to give us?

    10. HonorBox*

      I’m really sorry this continues to happen to you. How freaking rude and presumptuous of people. That said, HUGE KUDOS to you for being awesome at your job. I really hope your CEO understands what you’re doing to allow them to do their job!

    11. Jezebella*

      We have a “no soliciting” sign at the front door. You have to be buzzed in to even get in the door. And yet…. people keep dropping by. I don’t even open the door to people without an appointment any more.

    12. Jo*

      I was in an outwardly facing role who also met frequently with our CEO. So vendors often saw me as a conduit to her. OR – and more often – they’d claim a relationship with her to get some preferred treatment like a spot on a panel or admittance to something already full. So many “close friends”. Then again, she DID have some close contacts that warranted extra care.

      I had jokingly told her one day that she must spend an awful lot on postage considering the number of Christmas cards she must mail out each year with so many close friends! That later became our code phrase: “Is X on your Christmas card list, because they want….?”

    13. ScruffyInternHerder*

      I’m 100% sure that the clowns who think that this work do not read this website.

      Source: have worked for a clown like this, and frequently shot down his brilliant ideas with “that’s not how this works. That is not how ANY of this works. No.” because sometimes said brilliant ideas could have had federal charges brought!

    14. anon for this*

      I work in admin at a large med school. All of our education folks are in a different building than the dean, and I think the applications folks are kept even further back from public access, because no one is determined like someone who thinks they deserve to be in med school (except their parents, occasionally). And yet! Just last week I spent 10 minutes telling two people that they could not just walk in to talk to the dean (I’m working on one of the dean’s special initiatives, and it still takes me a couple weeks to get a meeting!). They were so uninterested in listening to me that I eventually had to ask them to leave reception, and after a few more minutes where they hung around outside, I closed a locked door in their faces.

      What do people think leaders’ days look like? Just quietly staring at an empty screen until people walk into their offices???

    15. Some Dude*

      I love the cold calls where they are like, “I’m going to be in town tuesday so I’d like to meet with madam executive” as if she should be delighted that a rando she doesn’t know is taking time to meet with her in order to sell her something she doesn’t want to buy.

    16. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

      I used to do this job, and yes: sales people and real estate brokers do this. Saunter in and “take me to your leader!”

    17. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I once heard that sort of role referred to as a Door Dragon. Envisioning myself as The Dragon, Guardian of Access to my Boss, amuses me enough that I actually enjoy that part of my job. (I’m still polite, of course. But you aren’t getting past me.). Rude people are still awful though.

    18. goddessoftransitory*

      OMGAHD, I get those calls at work and no matter how many times I say I just take orders, I have no connection to the owner, at all, they do not listen! They want his direct line and his email and everything else I would be fired for handing over.

    19. Knighthope*

      Our family business was named after my great-grandfather. When callers would demand to speak to him, my uncle would reply, “You’ll have to go to Parkwood Cemetary!”

    20. Any old username*

      I used to sit across from the CEO’s secretary. She once took a call where the guy said he was a personal friend of her boss – she didn’t put him through but did take his name/number. The CEO rang him back and said your name doesn’t sound familiar – how do we know each other? The guy said “oh you don’t know me I just said that so your secretary would pass on the message. I have a business proposal I think you’d be interested in”. The CEO said “why would I do business with someone whose first interaction with me was achieved by lying” and hung up. Made his secretary’s week.

    1. Koala Tea*

      I’m currently reading Dare to Lead by Brene Brown and would highly recommend it for anyone in leadership or just life management in general. She took a lot of the tips, tricks, data, how to’s from her previous books and distilled them down into better verbiage with direct action items. It has given me a lot of perspective as well as tools am so glad to have in my toolbox now. The format is also easy to read and absorb in small doses like during one’s 15 min breaks.
      Best wishes in your new role!

  5. rose*

    Wondering how honest I should be with my boss and would appreciate some advice.

    I’m currently overwhelmed in my job. I’ve made changes to help and management has also done some things to make things easier. But while I feel less overwhelmed than I once was, the problem hasn’t gone away. I’ve stopped telling my manager that I feel overwhelmed because his instinct is going to be to give advice and I don’t really want it. At this point I know my current role and I are a mismatch. I’m actively job hunting.

    The issue is that I think I’ll start lagging behind soon- and if I do, it might come as a surprise to my manager since I haven’t told them anything. I can be honest with them now, but I don’t know how that conversation wouldn’t just end up hitting “I’m not a good fit for this role” unless I smile and nod at suggestions we’ve already been over.

    And to be honest, I’m also embarrassed that I can’t keep up with the workload. So many Americans have it worse than me but I’ve tried to do more and my body just starts shutting down.

    I’ll also say that my manager does truly care about me as a person. All the managers on our team have been known to be deeply empathetic. But I honestly don’t know how he would react to me essentially telling him I don’t want this job anymore, it almost feels unprofessional.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Woof that’s tough for sure. Good luck finding a new job soon. Can you tell him you need to take a specific task off your plate permanently? (ideally the thing that will make it most obvious soonest that you are falling behind). Don’t frame it as a whole discussion of your stress and future plans for the role, just explain that you’re not able to get Y Task done and need to create a new plan for that because you’re focused on Z and X task. So then at least if he sees Y task slip, he’s been forewarned about it.

      1. rose*

        The issue is that I have A, B, and C on my plate and if I ask him about removing C, I know his response will be that my workload is in line with expectations for the team. He won’t be able to remove C from my plate without overloading someone else and frankly I have the easiest load on the team right now.

        1. Tio*

          If you did tell him you were behind on C, what do you think his response would be? Is there a scenario where you could not get behind?

          I’d take a couple PTO days if you have them, get a doctor’s exam just in case there’s something you might not know about that could be affecting your performance health-wise, and use the additional time to job hunt and rest. I don’t think you being behind on tasks when you have the lightest workload and it’s a reasonable workload is going to be sustainable for long, unfortunately.

    2. Elle*

      I’ve been waiting for this thread all week. Last week I posted about a poor performing employee applying for a promotion. This week they formally applied and it is truly the worst resume and cover letter I’ve seen. The resume is a list of tasks from an old job description with no further embellishment. Just copied and pasted into the resume. They have never performed some of the tasks listed because we don’t do them any more. The cover letter is full of errors. It takes a lot of chutzpah (or cluelessness) to submit something like this and expect a promotion. Wish me luck as I move forward with dealing with this!

    3. NameRequired*

      I personally would not tell your manager that you are preparing to leave, but I do wonder if you could have a conversation with him about the unsustainable nature of your workload.

      You don’t need to tell him that you feel overwhelmed because he has shown that his response is to give advice and not try to fix the workload, but you can come at it from the angle of “I have too many items on my plate and I would like to problem solve with you about it”

      Also, your body doesn’t know what other people are doing or how bad they have it, it just knows what its limits are! Please try not to feel bad about knowing your limits

    4. ferrina*

      Don’t use the word “overwhelmed”. Talk in terms of bandwidth- “Hey boss, I’ve found that X task takes me 3 hours. I can only get 2.5 Xs done each day, but I’m assigned to do 5 each day. How do you want me to handle this?”

      Pose it as a math problem that you need your boss to solve, because your boss is the person in charge of the variables.

      The problem with the word “overwhelmed” is that a lot of people see that as a mental hurdle that you need to get over. “Overwhelmed” becomes a reflection on you – “bandwidth” is a statement about the physics of time. It’s not your fault you have physical limitations. That’s part of having a human body. You’re smart to recognize that this role isn’t a good match for you. But your boss is only focused on how the work is getting done, so only address that in your conversation.
      Good luck!

      1. MacGillicuddy*

        Agree with this. Don’t say overwhelmed, that’s about your feelings. And I would also avoid the term “burnout “. Your boss does not care, boss just wants stuff to get done.

        So here is another approach: what level of “perfection” is required to consider each task to be done? There is a wide range between “sloppy and with errors” and “absolutely as perfect as possible”.

        Figure out the level of “good enough” that is acceptable. Striving for absolute perfection will take a huge toll on you when the workload is too big but your boss won’t reduce it.

        There’s a saying “Fast, Cheap, Good – pick two”. Your management has chosen Fast (get all of this done, period!) and Cheap (we aren’t hiring more people to reduce workloads). So figure out when each task is Good Enough and move on to the next thing. And don’t feel guilty about it, because you’re giving the boss exactly what boss requires, which is Just Get It Done.

        1. Tio*

          I agree with the “get it done good enough” in general, but above they mention they have the lightest workload of the team and the workload is in line with team expectations. I don’t think this is necessarily the company choosing to refuse to hire an appropriate amount of people or trying to get things done too fast, just a mismatch in roles.

    5. JSPA*

      “I wanted to give you a heads-up that I’m still often feeling more than a bit underwater and risking burnout. I’m actively looking at ways to address it, so I don’t think a pep talk or suggestions will help. I’m holding it together for the moment, thanks to the help you’ve already given me. I wanted to discuss how and when to tell you, if I realize that one of the many, many balls that I have in the air might be about to drop, because having an agreed plan will reduce my anxiety, and make it easier to keep going.”

      OK, I’m wordy…so…edit. But the message is, “how and when do you want to hear about it, if and when anything is going to get dropped.”

      At least once I was surprised and relieved to have a boss say, “dropped balls happen. When your options come down to dropping the ball, or going home by 7 PM, shoot me an email about it being unfinished, and go home!”

    6. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      I think it is important to assess is this a process and procedure problem (e.g. the system is not designed to work in a way that makes things manageable) or is this a personal ability thing (e.g. not having the appropriate training etc). If it’s the first this is workable as process can change, if it’s number two this is also workable as training is available.

      1. rose*

        I didn’t want to mention too much in my original post for anonymity but it’s work based on billable hours. There’s a certain number I need to get done. Training won’t help because how quickly I get things done isn’t relevant.

        1. Quinalla*

          This is hard if you just can’t put in the billable hours expected. If you take more breaks, can you put in the time or is your body just like nope, X hours is my max per day or whatever? I have billable hours expectations at my job, but also have flexibility, so when my body or brain needs a break, I can take 30 m to exercise or 10 min for a walk or do something else less thinking intensive and then I’m able to work the billable hours expected by spreading it out a bit.

          Sorry if you’ve already tried this, if that’s a no go, then maybe just tell your boss you cannot do X billable hours a week/day, but you can do Y. Would it be possible to reset expectations to that level with a proportionally reduced salary? Maybe that isn’t a conversation you can have or you know the answer is already no. I wouldn’t want to just not do stuff and boss finds out when work isn’t getting done, I’d want to give some kind of heads up and that you are working on trying to improve, but this is what you can do right now? And even if you aren’t trying to improve, at least he’ll have reasonable expectations. Ugh, so tough, hope you find something new soon!

    7. I edit everything*

      You mention your body shutting down. Have you seen (or are you able to see) a doctor? It’s possible there’s something physical going on that affecting your energy levels, causing brain fog, or whatever. If so, it’s worth finding out for your own well-being, outside the whole job situation, but also could result in either treatment to resolve or improve it or accommodations at work, current or future.

      1. rose*

        It’s not at the level that a doctor would take seriously honestly. I just start feeling sick if I work too much without enough breaks.

        1. m2*

          I am sorry this is tough. Can you use sick time/ vacation time?

          Are you able to take walks around your office or stretch breaks after a certain period of time?

          A person close to me ended up going on FMLA for two months (she had banked up sick time so it was paid) because of a similar situation, she was able to recharge and now can work again. She is actively looking for a new role, but because she had that time she now can handle work better. That being said she thought she would have a new job after her FMLA, but basically didn’t accomplish anything during her FMLA. Make sure you have support, seeing therapist, friends, etc, because she found that time pretty isolating since everyone was working and she was alone most days. It was a good recharge for work, but caused stress in other ways.

          Can you speak to your manager about switching roles or teams? Could you cut hours and they hire a temp temporarily but you keep benefits?

          Sending positives energy your way

    8. SomeWords*

      Your letter resonates with me so hard as I was in the same position. I was very fortunate in that I was a long time employee with a decent track record. I had a medical episode that left me feeling like I’d lost about 25 IQ points. I couldn’t do my job anymore but wanted to stay with the company. Meeting with my manager led to them speaking with their fellow managers and they were able to shift me to a less demanding position. It’s been about 10 years now. I’m still with the company.

      If your management team is as empathetic as you believe them to be they could help you in a similar way.

    9. EA*

      If you truly don’t want him to make suggestions or try to adjust your workload and just want out, I say don’t have the conversation and focus on job searching instead. If management has already made changes for you and you have the smallest workload, I don’t think he’ll be as surprised as you think if you start lagging. And there’s really nothing positive that he can do with the info that you want to leave your job.

    10. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      You say your body shuts down. Is this because of the speed you have to work at, or do you have to work too many hours, or is the work difficult or a bit beyond your skillset?

      Can you tell you manager that the structure of the job is causing you health issues (genuinely the case) which your doctors have not been able to help so far. That could give you breathing space while you are job-hunting.

    11. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      I am so pleased you are job hunting – good luck and I hope you find a better fit soon.

      Honestly, I think you have handled/are handling this exactly right. You negotiated for what you needed, you’re now in a position to know for sure the job isn’t for you, you’re looking for a new job while protecting your health and giving everything you can to your current employer. The piece you’re asking about… I’m not sure whether there’s a practical element to it or whether you’re taking on the responsibility of managing your boss’s emotions (this is something I do a lot, so it might make me more attuned at spotting it in others… or it might be projection ;-)). You say you’re worried that your manager might be “surprised” if/when you fall behind, but… maybe that’s okay? What would happen if they were surprised? Maybe thinking that through and doing some scenario planning will help you figure out what you want to do.

  6. WheresMyPen*

    Not sure if this is anything you can advise on but if you have any tips or comments please share! I’ve noticed a few times at work I struggle to give critical feedback, and will adopt the ‘everything will work out in the end’ attitude. For want of a better phrase I ‘roll over’ and accept things that aren’t quite right. I work in a creative and project management role (though quite junior) and often have to give creative feedback on things like videos. Recently one video had a problem with sound that I was told would be fixed, but by the final version it was still not the quality we wanted. With prompting from my manager I did query it and it was fixed, but I should have caught it earlier and insisted myself that it was fixed instead of having to be prompted at the last minute. I think part of it is I hate being negative or criticising people’s work for fear of being considered difficult, harsh or critical, and think that they’ll fix it themselves and if they don’t it can’t be done anyway so no point in insisting and rocking the boat. I realise I need to be more aware of this going forward but any tips in particular for giving critical feedback and not just accepting when people don’t do something properly, or is this something I just need to learn as I gain more experience?

    1. kiki*

      Instead of seeing it as criticism, see it as helping them get to a great final product as soon as possible. Also, you don’t need to start in on the issue by treating it as an edict– you can have a conversation. “I notice the sound is not good here– can it be fixed? Is it reasonable to have that done before the week is over? Oh, it’s not because of X– how about within two weeks? Perfect! Send that to me for review in two weeks! Thank you!”

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          This. People want their project to be as good as possible–if there’s a problem, ask about a timeline to fix it! Reasonable people can tell the difference between “X needs a tweak” and “YOU SUCK.”

    2. Decidedly Me*

      Read Radical Candor :)

      But yes, it does also get better with experience. After seeing the consequences of being too nice and indirect, I’ve definitely adapted my style.

      One very important thing to remember – you’re actually doing people a disservice by not giving them accurate, direct feedback. You’re not allowing them understand how to improve, you’re letting the mistakes get bigger, which will only make them feel worse later, etc.

      1. WheresMyPen*

        Ooh thanks for the recommendation, adding it to my reading list :D

        Very true on your last point. It’s in the contractor’s interest to produce the best product they can too to boost their portfolios

      2. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        Yes, seconding Radical Candor (the author says she should have called it Compassionate Candor but worried it would sound too “soft” and hit her credibility, but that title actually gives a better sense of the book’s vibe). A phrase that has helped me too is Brene Brown “clear is kind, unclear is unkind” – the kindness is in giving clear, actionable, accurate info, not in the content of that info.

        I also suuuuuck at critical feedback btw so solidarity, commiserations, & good luck!

    3. Sloanicota*

      Ughh no advice just commiseration. I am terrible at this still and also hope that things will work out in a way that is often counterproductive.

    4. Tio*

      You’re looking at it as being critical, but what does avoiding giving that feedback do in the long run? Because they’re going to have to change it, and now they’ve just lost the time an opportunity to change it to something they can take ownership and be proud of. The sound still needed to be fixed, so you didn’t avoid them having the problem, just made it your problem to fix instead. Also – it reads like you did ask them to fix it and they didn’t? If there’s some fixes like that that need to be done, you can ask them to send you the fixes earlier than when you’re showing it to other people; I think that’s what your boss is getting at.

      As for people fixing things themselves – if they presented you a product at a certain level, and you don’t give them very clear feedback about what is expected, they’re going to think it’s fine. You need to be specific, especially in a creative field. The client dislikes certain colors. You’ve done it in pastels but they want something bold. The music drowns out the dialogue, it needs to be reduced. There’s static in the sound clips that needs to be pulled out or redone. Tell them what kind of things you need so they have actual direction on where to go. It’s not mean, it helps them get to the product they need to deliver faster.

      1. WheresMyPen*

        They fixed it a little but it still wasn’t great, but I’d kind of assumed they’d done the best they could, until I was prompted to push back and then they found a complete fix. I do wonder why they didn’t just do that in the first place, and I guess highlights the importance of not settling. I think I just like to assume they’ve done the best they can when often they do need more pushing to get it done right

        1. Tio*

          This is where more clear direction (aka feedback) would be helpful – maybe they didn’t do the best they could, but did what they thought was acceptable. There are plenty of people where you need to be very clear about the expectations and standards or they just won’t hit it (and some who won’t even if you are, but that’s another can of worms).

        2. Sloanicota*

          Partly I think this happens because if someone complained to *you* about something, you would probably fix it as best as it could possibly be fixed the first time. But a lot of people aren’t so conscientious. Do give yourself a break though, it’s possible your boss knew from experience that a better solution was possible or knew this vendor needs to be pushed.

    5. RagingADHD*

      Perhaps if you frame it that they already know about the problem, and you are asking to hear their plan for addressing it. Like, “so about the sound quality — what is involved with cleaning that up?”

      Then they tell you the steps, and you say, “Okay, great. Let’s do that, because we need it to be very clear in the final.”

    6. Shirley Keeldar*

      I got some good advice early in my editorial career: your loyalty is to the book, not the author.

      Maybe this will help a bit. Think of it (and frame it to others) as wanting to do right by the project. “It’s looking so good but I think the sound quality is not where it need to be and that’s detracting from the impact. Can we do X to get the sound to the same amazing level as the rest of the project?”

    7. Mill Miker*

      Most artists would tell you that they’re their own harshest critic. The team producing the work is always going to see more problems than you will, and in a deadline-driven environment, they’re relying on you to draw the line for what’s “Good enough”.

      It wouldn’t surprise me if they’re listening to the sound and thinking “This isn’t great, but WheresMyPen seems to think its good enough, so we can’t really justify spending more time on this when there’s other things to do”

      They know they’re working with compromises. As long as you avoid criticizing their skills or their efforts (ie. “Can’t you tell this sounds bad” “can you actually try and fix this”), they should welcome direction on what to improve. Also, if you show you can accept a “no” gracefully, and are reasonable with timelines, you can get a way with asking for a lot more.

    8. Not Your Trauma Bucket*

      To build on what others have said, try to reframe it in your mind as collaborative development rather than effectively grading the submission. You’re not looking for what they did “wrong”, you’re looking for ways to improve the current product.

    9. Loreli*

      The entire purpose of a review cycle is to catch errors and make improvements before a product is shipped/finalized. So don’t think of your comments as badmouthing the product or being overly critical. Making comments and pointing out discrepancies is the whole point of a review cycle.

      Of course you want to be diplomatic and not accusatory when pointing out problems. But avoiding mentioning problems because you think “it will all work out in the end” is magical thinking, and shirking your responsibility of contributing to a complete and honest review. Reviewing is part of your job

      The result of not saying anything is having a final product with defects or errors. Or waiting to the last minute to point out errors means a mad scramble to ship/release on time.

    10. Friday Person*

      Ultimately, your role isn’t adversarial – everyone has the same goal of getting things right, and they’re actually relying on you to chime in when needed about fixes, even if it’s annoying.

      That’s still going to occasionally necessitate some awkward feeling conversations, but you can smooth over a lot by building a strong working relationship in general, acknowledging positives, asking questions/inviting their input about the best way of addressing issues and occasionally commiserating when a needed fix is likely to be a huge pain.

      1. Dreaming Koala*

        Agree, good points! I tell myself regularly “I was hired to voice my opinions and share my experience, not just be nice to everyone”. It is a struggle everyday, but if you combine it with positive feedback (“this part of your work was particularly good, because of something-something”), you will feel a bit better. Commiserating part is also quite important!

  7. How to bounce back after being fired?*

    Does anyone have advice for getting a new job after being fired?

    My partner has been really struggling at work and was let go this week. He is honestly relieved that he’s done with the job– the type of organization really just wasn’t a good fit– but he’s very stressed about finding something new. He has held jobs he was good at before this role, but they were all in a completely different industry (think school teacher who transitioned to software development). He’d like to stay in this industry, though he’d like to work at a different type of organization (he was at a small start-up before and would like to work a more corporate job going forward– we both think a corporate culture will be a much better fit for his disposition).

    He’s really worried his firing will be a huge black mark on his record and he’ll really struggle to find something. Does anyone have advice? Especially interested if you’ve been in a similar boat or have hired somebody who had previously been fired.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Can’t speak to the mental part but practically, the typical advise is to have a concise explanation about what didn’t work about the last role, which is ideally something irrelevant to your likely success in the new role. This shows you’ve thought about it, you’re approaching it directly and without bitterness, and you’re well positioned to be successful next time. “Old job turned out to really need someone with more experience in X, while I’m much better suited to focus on Y tasks. That’s why I’m really excited about this opportunity with Z company that is Y oriented and wouldn’t have to handle X.” This may not be the actual narrative if the issue was that his boss was an arse or something, but try to come up with a version that sounds more like this (and that won’t get blown out of the water in a reference check, of course).

      1. How to bounce back after being fired?**

        Thank you! The issue boiled down to my partner not being able to do well with extremely long hours under high pressure. When he interviewed there, the folks he interviewed with said the work-life balance was very good, but I think their idea of good work-life balance skews much more heavily on the work. They said there’d be occasional long nights, which my partner took to mean staying until 9 or 10 once a month or so. But this company definitely meant near-all-nighters for a week straight every time a project is about to close.

        He definitely learned to clarify what good work-life balance means going forward! Hopefully most companies will understand his explanation. Thank you for your help!

        1. MaryLoo*

          Startups are notorious for having no work-life balance and expecting everyone to be on board with this. The founders of the startup are striving to make it work because it their baby. They often think their employees should feel the same way.

        2. 40HourWeeksUsuallyArentReal*

          I’ve never worked at any company that truly had good work-life balance and even those places that made promises like “we’ll hire additional people if the work gets overwhelming” don’t follow through. I had a job where I accepted a pay cut for a 37.5 hour week and a promise that I wouldn’t need to put in overtime only to be working 48-55 hour weeks all the time and infrequently considerably more. Unless you’re hourly and they’d have to pay overtime it’s just part of working life.

          I would be careful about telling prospective employers this was why he was fired and would take anything anyone said about work-life balance with a grain of salt. Even if true at the time, it can change at any moment.

      2. Just a Manager*

        I was fired from a high-level position. It wasn’t a good fit and that’s what I told people when they asked. It took me about seven months to find something and that was at a lower position. It took a couple years but I am now back and beyond where I was when I was fired.

    2. SansaStark*

      It’s not going to be this awful black mark that follows him around forever. As someone who’s been fired before, the hardest job to get will be the next one. As long as he stays there a reasonable amount of time, he won’t have to really worry about this again so that’s the good news. The trickiest part is going to be talking about this particular job in an interview and he should be prepared to talk a little bit in a matter-of-fact way about the cultural mismatch, what he’s looking for, etc.

      As a hiring manager, I wouldn’t have any issues hiring someone who had been fired as long as it seemed like they reflected on why and what would need to be different in a new position (as long as those differences were a match to this job, obviously).

      1. SansaStark*

        Also, 10+ years later, I can honestly say that the day I got fired from a terrible mismatch job was one of the best things that’s happened to me.

        1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

          I remember being panicked about getting a new job but at the same time, when I walked out of these horrible place for the last time it felt like such a relief.

          And it was the best thing to ever happen to me because I learned a lot about what to look for in my next job so I didn’t get stuck in a bad fit job/company again.

          1. SansaStark*

            That’s such a good point about knowing what to look for. I had a weird feeling during the interview of that job and I have always trusted my gut since then.

            1. Johanna Cabal*

              The one job I got fired from I had the same gut feeling not only during the interview but also when I accepted the offer and on my first day.

              Of course, this was 2009 and I’d been laid off and was desperate for anything.

    3. ThatGirl*

      The key is to work out how you (he) talks about his firing. I got fired in 2007 and when the first interview asked me about it I froze up and babbled awhile. Firings are not the end of the world, they are not fatal to finding a new job, but you have to be willing to talk about it in a way that is a) not lying but b) makes you sound reasonable. So saying that it ultimately wasn’t a good fit and you decided to part ways or something like that. He should workshop it a bit and say it out loud a bunch so it feels more comfortable.

      1. Anecdata*

        And to add to this : “we were doing multiple allnighters, before every release, and that wasn’t a fit for me” is so outside of normal, most interviewers aren’t going to dig into it!

    4. NewJobNewGal*

      I agree with Sloanicota about being honest and concise about why the last job didn’t work out. It’s not a deal breaker to be fired, there are many legit reasons why there is a mismatch in a role.
      I’d look into a staffing service if he is concerned about gaps in income. He can get a temp gig to rebuild confidence and make connections.

    5. Sally Rhubarb*

      If it is any consolation, my friend was fired from a “bad fit” job, was able to take a 6 m sabbatical & then found a new job he really excels at

      1. Sloanicota*

        The dream!! It just sucks that most people, even if they do have the savings to get through a short period of unemployment, probably wouldn’t be able to relax and enjoy it since they don’t know when the period will end. At least that was my experience. I finally had the time off, but I couldn’t really enjoy it because I was too worried about how I’d get another income, even though in retrospect it worked out fine.

    6. Some Dude*

      I was fired. I just glossed over it and was able to get a new job fairly quickly. I was technically laid off which helped. He should be succinct and dispassionate: “well, the role demanded working 80 hours a day plus weekends, and while I am willing to work hard and put in overtime when needed, I really need more work life balance and so I parted ways with that job.” Don’t trash the work or his boss, just be real matter of fact, this is what happened, and I need to work 40-50 hours a week not 80-100.

      The hardest thing for me was the psychological aspects. I talked to a therapist and it took me years to get over it. I really felt like a failure and was convinced I was constantly going to get fired. So have him seek mental health help if he can afford it.

      1. Johanna Cabal*

        It might not also hurt for him to reach back to old company’s HR and see if an arrangement can be worked out he is classified as “technically laid off” as well. Or at least see what they’ll say when called for a reference. In hindsight, if I had pushed back at fired job regarding how it was classified, I think I could’ve worked something out.

    7. Velociraptor Attack*

      I think the biggest thing he needs to hone in on is to describe why it was the environment and not the industry itself that was a poor fit. I’m sure someone hiring will have questions about how he can be sure it wasn’t a mismatch with the industry as a whole if this was his first position in it (and he’ll want to do some digging to be sure that it isn’t.)

  8. Potatoes*

    Gut check?

    I’ve been hospitalized for a total of 9+ days now (separate times including emergency surgery and going back for complications). I’ve blown through my PTO and in the negative now.

    I’ve been going back and forth via email with our controller/HR re short term disability.

    I think I have a solid understanding of the process. (it takes me forever to process and understand everything) but it’s also super complicated to me.

    I’m wrong for being annoyed that every single email is copying my boss?

    Whenever I plan to be out, he’s always the first person I email for something like this. But for PTO/benefits I’m not sure I like it – I could be wrong or irrational about this hence the gut check

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Yeah, I think this is weird. HR is the info hub for a reason. They just need to share the final facts. “Potatoes will be out from X to Y.”

      1. Tio*

        Ehhhh, I kinda come down on the other side. If there’s nothing very personal Potatoes would not want the boss to know, it makes way more sense to me to have the boss in copy than leave them in the dark for days or relay separate updates every time they talk to P. The boss needs to plan workload around absences like these, it’s not like he’s not going to get the information?

    2. FashionablyEvil*

      I would say it isn’t wrong, but it is unnecessary. Your boss needs to know when and how long you’ll be out for/when you’ll reassess to see if you can come back. They really don’t need to be cc’d on all the back and forth about the “Could you please explain the elimination period for the disability policy and how that will affect my PTO balance” type discussion.

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

      I can see how it does seem a bit odd. But on the other hand, maybe the boss has asked to be kept in the loop. For example, we’ve had some new folx in HR and it’s been …. difficult to put it mildly. So our department head has asked that if we have problems with HR that they be CC’d on emails.
      Or maybe there is some other type of policy that you’re not aware of.

    4. different seudonym*

      Better to have as much communication as possible up front, because this sounds like a situation where you need to guard your energy and that cc will hopefully save you from going over everything again, miscommunication, etc. In other words, valid feelings, but serious illness and disability require redundant communication to manage well.

      Get well soon!

    5. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      My gut check/gut reaction: A bit annoying (for your boss), maybe a bit odd, but not egregious.

      I think I’m coming from a place of “this is an easy way to keep Potatoes’ Boss in the loop about how long their employee will be out” since it sounds like no one knows.

      I’m sorry you’re having to deal with this health issue.

    6. knitcrazybooknut*

      I worked in HR for 12 years, for context. This may be company policy, to copy your boss on anything involving a leave of absence. I would want to know if my employee was going to be out for a period of time, with all due respect to their medical privacy, which is NOT anything I should know about. It’s also a way to educating your boss on how this type of leave works and what their role is in the process.

      Unless I’m misunderstanding something about the interaction, I think this is completely reasonable, and may be required by your company. I do understand why you might think it unnecessary, though.

      1. Tortally HareBrained*

        Agreed. As a manager for a team it can be helpful to know how this type of leave works and the type of documentation needed. Some people are more comfortable working only with HR, but others will come to me and it’s nice to have some idea of what HR will need from them in order to take care of them in an efficient manner. Especially when scary/emergency health issues are occuring.

        1. Duncan*

          That kind of nice-to-know for managers should be secondary to employees’ desire for privacy on the details (of course the manager needs to know the outcome).

    7. Potatoes*

      Thanks all.

      I think it is just policy. I do keep my boss looped in, again he’s the first one I notify if I’m out.

      I had a call with hr to clear up some things. She said I did this all wrong, and that it wasn’t fair to anyone that I told them I’d be back to work on Thursday but didn’t come in. I was in tears at the end of the call.

      I was discharged Wednesday and told I could resume work Thursday since remote office work. I informed them of that. But I’m back in the ER today. I was never warned that I would need to go back. I explained that I was cleared but…you know.. emergency.

      I’m now stressed that when I go back my boss will say the same thing that I handled this badly and I did too much back and forth with her etc.

      1. HalJordan*

        That sounds like your HR person is being unreasonable, and if your boss says the same so are they. You made the right call based on the information you had, you relayed that to them, and then exigent circumstances intervened. If everyone was supposed to inform their office that they might be out on emergency medical leave because of an emergency they could not foresee, we’d all have to tell our offices that for every single day.

        Getting mad at people and making them cry because they’re not pre-cognizant is a jerk move, take comfort in that.

      2. dude, who moved my cheese?*

        I’m sorry you’re going through this! It’s unreasonable and egregiously unprofessional for the HR person coordinating your medical leave to tell you it was “unfair” to need emergency surgery or even that you did the process all wrong. If your boss says the same thing

        Your job right now is to prioritize your health and wellbeing and do the bare minimum needed to keep your job. HR’s job is to address your health-related work needs clearly, efficiently, and professionally. Did she explain the process in a way that was clear? Is the process complicated or is she making it complicated? Your boss’s job is to make sure your team can function without you, your duties are covered, and to have your back when HR sucks.

        This might be a little prickly but I would be tempted to follow up by email, copying your boss and HR and possibly even whoever the HR rep reports to, if you feel that’s warranted, and say something like:

        “Melinda, I was concerned by your statement on our call yesterday that it was unfair of me to say I’d be back to work Thursday and then call out. I want to ensure it’s on record that when I was discharged from the hospital Wednesday, I was cleared to return to work Thursday, but on Thursday I had to return to the emergency room.

        I am also concerned that I’m not getting clear, correct information about how to apply for short-term disability. (Add more details about things that were miscommunicated, complicated, or “done wrong.”) Right now my main focus needs to be recovering from emergency surgery. (End with a request along the lines of, Jesus Christ can you please tell me exactly what you need from me so I can give it to you and get this approved?)”

        I’m sorry you are having to both manage a difficult health issue and a crappy HR person. Right now, they need to do better for you — you don’t need to do better for them.

        1. dude, who moved my cheese?*

          Whoops. I meant to say if your boss says the same thing, your boss is also unreasonable and unprofessional. If someone I managed missed their return-to-work date because they needed emergency surgery I would do everything I could to take care of the paperwork/administrative burden. If someone I managed missed an extra day because of the *flu* I wouldn’t be like, how unfair of them! So, your HR sucks and I hope your boss doesn’t suck too.

      3. RagingADHD*

        I think, after emergency surgery and a 9-day hospital stay, the doctor was ridiculous to tell you that you’d be ready to work on Thursday. Totally unrealistic, even for remote work, and even if you hadn’t been right back in the ER.

    8. Gyne*

      Sorry to hear you are in the hospital.

      This does not seem weird to me. It’s potentially relevant to decisions your boss needs to make about reassignment of tasks and arranging coverage and probably easier to just cc them on the email thread than for HR to be updating them separately.

    9. kt*

      This seems weird to me, as someone who managed 12-14 ppl through several medical leaves. I don’t need to know any details of your medical stuff. The only things I need to know are “where to press approve” if needed, *or* whether I need to advocate for you and burn someone’s a** in HR — which is actually what might need to happen here.

      This business of “I thought I could resume work on Thursday so said so in good faith but then ended back up in the emergency room” — that stuff happens! That’s why it’s an emergency! No one should be making you cry about this, your HR should be working to support you in taking the short term disability leave you clearly need. That this is *not* happening is the only thing that your boss potentially could be helpful with. It’s absolutely inappropriate to be implying someone is irresponsible and dishonest when they’re experiencing complications of a health condition. Moreover, when you are ill is when you most need help, and HR should be stepping up here.

      Again, as a manager in a fortune 250 company, my point of view is that HR handles medical leave details, they are there to support employees, and if there is an error, I’m there to support my reports by pushing for appropriate action from HR.

  9. Marie*

    Executives at my small company keep pushing “green” stuff to employees constantly. EVs, etc. mind you, an EV is more than half my income a year and I’m one of the higher paid employees. They don’t allow WFH. Execs all live very close to the office. Most of the rest of us have at least 39 min commutes. I’ve politely said an EV doesn’t work for my lifestyle (no way to charge at home as I live in an apt). They keep pushing it. They take tons of long haul overseas flights and most aren’t for business (from what they tell us). Irks the hell out of me. More elitist BS that makes me sick.

    1. Sloanicota*

      That is crazy. Has anyone pushed back and said that option is too expensive but here’s some cheaper environmental practices we can all do?

      1. Marie*

        Yep. They don’t listen. So many people I know have this EV fetish, even for people they absolutely won’t work for or can’t afford them.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Which is funny because on it’s own, I don’t think EV is environmental – you could be powering a car with coal-powered electricity, no? The idea is that ultimately they could be powered by renewable sources like solar but that’s not currently what’s happening.

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

            That’s such a great point. Maybe OP can lookup how electricity is powered for their area (probably coal) and say “I looked into it but being that electricity in this area is powered by coal, it is not environmentally sound for me to replace my car.” I think there’s also problems with the materials to make the batteries too. So although its better its not the perfect solution to normal cars.

            OR you could always sat ” Is the company going to provide power stations at work?” or better yet “Oh! is the company increasing our wages so that we can afford a EV?!”

          2. ThatGirl*

            not all electricity is coal-powered, and even then, the fossil fuel impact is lower, esp without emissions.

            and look, I own an EV – just got it this year – but until there are truly long-range driving solutions and better infrastructure it will never replace gas entirely. Which is why my husband’s next car will probably be another ICE hybrid.

            1. Charlotte Lucas*

              Yeah, there’s a trade-off. But cost and convenience are the main factors. (I live in a city with lots of charging options, but it can be sparse away from town.)

              And living in an apartment is probably even more environmental than the single-family homes I assume your bosses inhabit.

              It seems a strange thing to push. Have they started other (more practicable) environmental initiatives in the workplace? Sounds like they don’t walk the talk.

              Does someone in management own stock in a company that produces EVs?

          3. NaoNao*

            Amusing story here–I was talking to a friend years ago about how “big auto” crushed the budding EV industry in the 90s because of their reliance and support of oil. I mentioned how EV was more “clean” and he asked me where I thought electricity came from. I indignantly answered ‘the AIR’ and he died laughing. He was like “do you think we just run around with really long bent coat hangers and catch it during lighting storms?” I guess I had thought that!

          4. Some Dude*

            Also they rely on intensive natural resources, and they encourage single-occupancy travel. They are more environmentally friendly than cars, but that’s not saying a lot. A true environmental move would be either not making folks drive 1:20 minutes a day to work, or investing in public transit options. However, even in my region, PT is generally 1/2 as fast as driving unless there is traffic.

          5. MissElizaTudor*

            Not to mention the fact that tires cause a LOT of pollution and EVs don’t get around that, and might even be worse. Most emissions from cars aren’t from exhaust, they’re from wear and tear on the road, your tires, and your breaks. Most of the microplastics in the ocean are from tires. EVs aren’t a meaningful solution to the environmental problems caused by cars even if the energy to power them was from nuclear, solar, wind, etc.

            1. Charlotte Lucas*

              I am so Team Hovercraft. I was really hoping that would be a viable option by the time I reached middle age. No tires, and it solves the problem of snow removal on streets. You’d only need it for the pedestrians, which would also keep salt out of the ground water.

              1. Hrodvitnir*

                OK, you’re never going to see this, but me too. NZ is really pushing electric cars and I’m like yikes on a couple of levels. I mean yes, they’re kind of the only remotely feasible alternative right now so fair, I guess? But as usual the measures disparately impact the poorest people, we continue to have inadequate public transport for all councils want to push not driving, and our electricity is privatised.

                So I dream of hovercraft (powered by solar cells, while I’m dreaming.) This is also inspired by the huge problems roads cause for water run off. Could have “roads” made of tough native grasses? My imaginary solution also involves using magnets rather than loud air, but let’s be honest, none of this comes from the brain of any kind of engineer. lol

          6. Cj*

            even if the electricity in your area isn’t coal generated, there are still Environmental issues. if it’s from a nuclear plant, what about the environmental impacts of the spent fuel rods? and there’s concern about Hydro generated electricity because of the lack of water in just about every part of the country.

            been there is the problem of what to do about the EV batteries when they crap out. and from what I’ve read, it cost thousands of dollars to replace the battery.

          7. Random Dice*

            It’s far more likely to be powered by solar and other renewables during non-peak hours when people tend to charge cars.

            The reason why we’ve collectively struggled with shifting away from oil/gas/coal is because we need so much on-demand power generation to meet peak power usage hours, and on-demand means Big Oil. As we keep developing better power storage, that will help a lot, but we’re not there yet at a power grid level.

    2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      As a rude person I’m thinking about how WFH would probably save a lot more carbon than getting an EV. They say you should do boring responses to this annoying stuff like a grey rock. just keep going ‘ oh is that so and now about fat bear week. How is it affecting shareholders’

    3. Prickly Hedgehog*

      (Probably not the best course, but also could be fun): Lean in and say “Wow, so exciting that our company is going green! Let’s do it right and set a Science Based Target (climate target through SBTi) for our organization!” That type of corporate commitment (and action) would be a meaningful way for the company to take ownership of sustainability (and there are options for small businesses that are simpler) and maybe would even push them to think about the cost of different interventions rather than just push EVs as the be-all-end-all.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Or, respond like you think they’re saying they’re going to give everyone an EV as a company car?

        But yeah, lip service to this one thing while not considering WFH/hybrid work or any other reasonable options to reduce pollution should get all the respect it deserves (none).

    4. Zephy*

      What, exactly, will the company do if you just continue to not buy a new car that you don’t need, can’t afford, and couldn’t use anyway? Like, is the messaging “electric vehicles are the future! better for the planet!” or “employees are required to lease or purchase a 2020 or newer chevrolet volt by 12/31/2023 or they face disciplinary action up to and including termination”?

      1. Hlao-roo*

        If the messaging is more “electric vehicles are the future! better for the planet!” can you just make appropriate positive noises and otherwise keep living your life? Saying phrases like “yes, EVs are so exciting!” and “did you hear [Car Company X] is coming out with [new EVmodel Y]?” may be enough for the executives to think of you as a “green” person in general and they may stop specifically badgering you to buy an EV.

    5. JSPA*

      Will they help cover the cost of an ebike or a bus pass? Those are both greener options than an EV. In general, “here’s what you could do instead” is a workable message, and if they go with it, you’ve done something much better for the world than giving yourself a sour stomach by swallowing your words each time you want to shout, “shut up, elitist scum.”

      1. Marie*

        No public transit options and e-bikes are not an option for a 45 min commute. Our climate doesn’t allow that for a good chunk of the year anyway.

    6. Trawna*

      EVs – sigh. Ya, corporations and shareholders raping the parts of the planet they haven’t raped yet.

      I’m all for ameliorating the current car-centric joke of a transportation system that exists outside of major cities with hybrids (rail would be better!). However, full EVs are an environmental and financial horror story waiting to happen.

    7. Chauncy Gardener*

      I hate that! Do they all drive EVs? Maybe start leaving info around the office about the EV batteries and how bad they are for the environment and how there aren’t any real plans to deal with them when they start reaching end of life?
      And those long haul flights drive me nuts. From what I can calculate, they could be doing everything else right and one or two of those will obliterate all their other green-ness.

    8. RagingADHD*

      Have you flatly said you can’t afford it on your salary? There is a point where “home truths” are not out of place, and it sounds like you’re there.

    9. LCH*

      pushing how? just like sending out info or actually saying you must buy an EV?
      because if the first, i wouldn’t even respond. i just read and delete a lot of emails that are sent to all staff (newsletters, whatever).
      if the second, um, yeah, that’s weird. they can’t dictate what you buy.

    10. Can't Sit Still*

      This is super-annoying. Can you reframe it in your mind that if they are pushing “green” on the employees that at least then they aren’t pushing fish or cheese or whatever the management strategy du jour is? Because if they aren’t listening to any employee suggestions about how the company can be more green, they are only doing it for “executive leadership” points and can be safely ignored, just like if they were pushing the 7 Habits or sigma or whatever.

      FWIW, the battle for charging stations both at work and at my condo are INTENSE. By which I mean in security has had to be called in both locations on multiple occasions and our employee handbook now has extensive rules for using the charging stations kind of intense.

    11. miel*

      This is so obnoxious!

      Honestly it sounds like they’re clueless and not going to change. I hope you can tune them out.

      (why the heck do they keep pushing it though? I have questions.)

    12. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      If it’s all-person EMails and video messages, I’d just tune it out like I would annoying insects buzzing.

      If they address you specifically , I’d keep repeating exactly the reasons in your post: An EV is > half your salary and you cannot charge it where you live. (Don’t be embarassed about mentioning the salary bit)

    13. GythaOgden*

      Yeah, this is awful. While we each need to do what we can, this sounds like the company who were pushing someone with a van that accommodated a wheelchair to get rid of it because of car space or whatever. That was totally wild but this is the more mundane version of the ridiculousness in that letter.

      I also can’t stand hypocrisy, although if the nature of the business involves intercontinental travel it sometimes has to be done. Nevertheless, my org in the UK stipulates that intercity travel should be done by train rather than plane (unrealistic for the US but perfectly reasonable for our island nation!) and that they’re also trying to reduce car use in that respect. When I interviewed last week they let me know that a lot of people in the division don’t drive and that it was becoming more common for people not to have cars or licences at all. They also let me expense Uber last year when I went on a recommended training day (anything to get out of the office!!!).

      Pragmatic social, wellbeing and environmental policies involve a lot more than diktats from above about what people use personally. They work best when there are incentives for doing things the right way — preferential reimbursement for public transport, cycle to work schemes (where you can get a bicycle at a discount from your untaxed pay, much like how pensions work) and other initiatives that make it more pleasant to choose the better option. It makes the odd ‘I need to be in Manchester/Tbilisi/Ulan Baator yesterday, get me to to Heathrow in twenty minutes’ long haul flight more reasonable if the company otherwise ensures that everyone is more careful in general.

      Then again, the NHS is really good at things like this and it’s the one place where I can natter with the chief exec of our main customer trust while he signs in for a meeting and he insists on never taking off at the beginning of the month so he can attend the monthly new starter induction day and meet anyone who starts work with them. It is an unusually good place to work and I’m lucky to be in a supportive environment.

      This is just hypocritical BS. I’m never one to say you should be actively looking for a new job, but this place sounds like an industrial-scale apiary. Get out for your own sanity.

    14. Nicole*

      I’m just confused as to why the company would have any input into what personal vehicle their employees own/drive.
      Are they paying for the vehicle? Providing free charging at work? If not, then stay out of my business.

  10. TeenieBopper*

    So, I’m actively job searching for the first time since finishing grad school 8 years ago instead of just leaving my LinkedIn as set to open to recruiters. I’ve got a bunch of alerts set up on LinkedIn for different job titles that line up with my skills. One think that shows up a *ton* are job listing’s by I assume this is some third party company/aggregator, but does anybody have any experience with them? Are they legit? Did you find a job applying to one of their postings?

    1. NameRequired*

      I don’t know about talentify, but I do have to say that LinkedIn got me the worst response rate from job postings. Indeed, sorted by new postings, was the best one, and niche job boards also helped.

      1. TeenieBopper*

        Well that’s annoying. I actually got my current job from a LinkedIn recruiter (and if be happy stay. It’s complicated). I was hoping the easy apply function would make my hunt a little, well, easier. The hoops one has to jump through with the application process is dumb. Fuck off, no, I will not type out my job history when you just had me upload my resume.

        1. pally*

          Please note: the Easy Apply doesn’t always work as you’d expect. If the recruiter is unfamiliar with the settings, they may not realize Easy Apply is the default. So while the recruiter is expecting candidates to go to their website to apply, the applicants are applying via Easy Apply and the recruiter doesn’t know to collect these applications.

          Result: Easy Apply applications go nowhere.

          Suggestion: go to the website and apply directly (if you can do so via from the info on the job listing).

      2. Dido*

        LinkedIn has been great to me… I was job searching last year and had tons of interviews for jobs I applied to through LinkedIn, and the one I ended up taking was an EasyApply job

    2. RagingADHD*

      Ugh, talentify is garbage. Their listings are out of date, and you’ll get fake-job scam emails from having a profile there.

    3. saskia*

      Search the job company and title on Google, find the company website, and apply there. Or if the company uses a specific application site like ADP, apply there. Strive not to apply using LinkedIn, Indeed, or a 3rd party site unless that’s the primary place the job has been posted by the company. Non-primary app sites can mess up your formatting or, worse, prevent the company from ever seeing your application in the first place!

      1. Jazz and Manhattans*

        Agree. When I was job hunting I never used the quick apply on LinkedIn. You have no idea what its doing to your information as it goes into the companies system. I’ve seen what the actual company sites did to my data when I would apply to the company and it would pull in my data from my resume. Every single time I would have to fix it. Imagine what its doing when you have no option to check and fix it! No thank you.

  11. Smellyelli*

    Has anyone ever heard back from a job prospect after the recruitment process has been put on hold ? This is the third time it has happens to me in the last 18months right before the final interview and they all promise to get in touch once the process resume because I’m a “strong candidate”. For what is worth, none have asked me to do presentations or any work so it’s not that they are trying to steal ideas or free work.

    1. Eng Girl*

      I did once. I interviewed for a job, felt good about it, then got feedback from the recruiter that the job had gone “oh hold” while they worked out some stuff on their end. He then called me back in a month to see if I was still available because the position was back on. I ended up taking the job and found out later that the CEO had cancelled the original position, but that the manager had gotten with another department head and had him put in for the exact same role, just reporting to him instead and that that had been approved.

    2. 1,000 Snails in a Lady Skin*

      I’m sorry this has happened to you so much!
      I think the economy / budgets are tough for a lot of companies right now, so just remind yourself it’s not you!
      FWIW my company had to put our hiring process on hold last year — I was the hiring manager and I was assured it was just a brief pause to reevaluate budgets for a few months. I had some candidates I was super excited about and we told them we’d be in touch when we reopened the job. Well, fast forward 18 months later and we’re still in an unofficial hiring freeze and I haven’t been allowed to hire and my team has just been understaffed this whole time!
      It sucks for the hiring manager / team just as much as it sucks for candidates!

    3. KittyGhost*

      One time I got a call telling me that I had a job offer and was signed up for an orientation session- a solid year after I had applied and done one phone interview. I noped out at that point since I had already accepted a different offer. So it does happen, but I think my case was a combo of an industry with high turnover (call center) and not great management on the company’s end (mostly the fact they just assumed I was onboard with this after not hearing from them for a year).

    4. Armchair Analyst*

      when this happened to me, I was younger. if I interviewed and didn’t hear back, I put the hiring manager that i interviewed with on my “monthly job search email” list. I emailed my contacts at the start of every month with a brief email that covered my upcoming availability as if i was looking for projects or part-time work, highlights from last month, like if I had attended any job-related courses or anything, and a brief reminder of what I was looking for. I hid the recipients emails.

      I was younger and assumed everyone wanted to be my mentor, and also that if they didn’t want the email, they could delete it or ask me not to send it. no one ever asked me not to send it. but one company called me back after a couple of months and they said, “this position opened up and your email came on the same day, so we called you.”

    5. Thunder Kitten*

      I cant speak for the last 18mo, but that happened to me in March 2020. Was interviewing – got to 3 end stage interviews, and EVERYTHING hit a brick wall.
      Got called back a year+ later and have been in that role 2.5 years now.

  12. One of the feds*

    Shout out to my fellow feds who are whiplashing between trying to get everything in today that they can, and twiddling their thumbs avoiding setting up meetings to move other things forward because we have no idea if we’ll be here next week!

    1. Constance Lloyd*

      Hello hello! All sorts of handwringing going on in my house where we’re both feds (him directly, me via contract). Sending thoughts and commiseration your way.

    2. NewJobNewGal*

      I’m a gov contractor and we’re figuring out what we can do while our contacts disappear for who knows how long.

      1. Constance Lloyd*

        And of course student loan payments are starting up again regardless! Not to start an off topic debate about those, just feeling the triple whammy of stress over potentially losing both incomes the same month expenses increase.

    3. OtterB*

      My husband is a fed expecting to be idle during the probable shutdown. He was in a different, essential position for the last shutdown. I should make him a honey-do list; he really doesn’t do well with idle time. The timing is unfortunate for family finance purposes as this is my last day full time; I’m moving to an hourly phased-retirement schedule. My job also involves some interface with feds who won’t be available. Oh well.

      Sympathies to those expecting significant impact of whatever kind.

    4. knitcrazybooknut*

      Sympathies to you all. I’m feeling lucky to be working for state government instead of federal right now.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Same! We do work with some federal agencies, but I’ve been off the past couple days, so I have no idea if we’ll see some trickle-down effects next week.

    5. Panicked*

      My husband is active duty. He still has to work, he just doesn’t get paid. It’s fine. Everything is fine. :-/

    6. Mitford*

      My husband’s expecting to be furloughed (he has been every shutdown for the last 25 years). What truly annoys me this time is that, when the pandemic broke out, he was deemed an essential employer and had to mask up and go in after all those years of being told he was non-essential and would be furloughed during the shutdowns.

      At least, after the big 2018-19 furlough of 35 days, legislation was passed guaranteeing employees their missed pay. We used to enjoy watching Congress debate whether “employees should be paid for not working” after the previous furloughs.

      Hugs to all you feds and families out there. We are a two-income family and have savings, but I know that these shutdowns can hit other families really hard.

    7. Over It*

      I work in municipal govt, but my salary is 100% funded by a federal grant, and I manage grants given to non-profit partners that also comes from that same federal grant. So far we have received zero feedback on if/how the shutdown would impact us, even though we’ve been asking the whole week. As if the fiscal year close out wasn’t overwhelming enough without the threat of a shutdown. I am stressed!!!

      1. TPS Reporter*

        a bunch of my colleagues are also paid on federal grants. we’re still going to keep working, we know we can keep spending, we just can’t get reimbursed until the government reopens. It’s not really a risk unless the shutdown goes into the next fiscal year, which would be unheard of.

    8. Not happy for a shutdown*

      Yes! We are here!

      I want the non-working furloughed feds to just sit in the chambers watching Congress all day holding signs that say things like, “the armed forces are working and not getting paid right now, day X”.

    9. No Tribble At All*

      Ugh, yes, huge sympathies to everyone in this situation. It’s ridiculous.

      Mr Tribble is a contractor for the feds but is in an “essential” department. His company negotiated for pre-payment for a month and is hoping to get two. So we’ll be okay? But only half his projects are “essential”. So will he get full hours? Who’s to say.

    10. ariel*

      Very curious – a loved one works for a federal agency and doesn’t know yet if they would be considered essential. They are comfortable with ambiguity, I’d be bouncing off the walls. Hope everyone has and gets what they need, although it’s not looking great right now.

      1. Over It*

        This is me! Totally bouncing off the walls!!! Or more like a small dog vibrating with anxiety. I’m fortunate to have a small financial cushion to get me through a shutdown (unless it’s REALLY long) but the ambiguity is killing me rn.

        1. Overeducated*

          Same! I have already been informed I’ll be furloughed, but just not knowing what to expect is so frustrating.

      2. lin*

        we got our official furlough status emails about 4pm today – we were expecting to get them sometime tomorrow, but the department sent early, probably in another signal of how likely the top officials think it is that a deal will be made in the next 30 hours.

        Hang in there folks! We’ve done this before, and we’ll do it again. The budget showdowns are a tradeoff for some of the other things I like about being a fed. In the meantime, try to make yourself a list of productive things to do and get out of the house to do them at least once a day – even if it’s just pulling some weeds in the yard or taking a walk around the apartment complex.

        Here’s to a short one and getting back to serving the public, like we signed up for!

    11. Trixie Belden was my hero*

      Retired fed, 30+ years, been there, hated that.
      Been thru 5 of them, seen it all and made it through.
      Titled the folder for one ShutStorm2013.
      Took great delight in deleting it when I retired.
      Take care.

    12. Another Anonymous Fed*

      I have to admit that I didn’t take this threat very seriously because I really thought that our government officials would get their act together and get a budget passed. I have a public facing job providing service and information to members of the public. The last week, and today in particular, has been more hectic than usual because people were trying to call us and find things out before we shut down.

      Aside from not being able to serve the public, I worry because every time I’ve been through a shutdown before, like the 2018/2019 shutdown or the 2020 COVID-related shutdown, a whole bunch of people quit and found new jobs, and a whole bunch of older people retired. It was a terrible loss of talent and institutional memory. We’ve never really fully recovered from being shut down during COVID and now we’ll be even further behind.

      Surprising to me and my fellow workers in my work group, we’ve been designated as “Essential Workers,” so we’ll go to work, but not get paid until who knows when. Moreover, all scheduled vacation time has been rescinded until further notice. There were people who planned to take time off from around the 3-day Columbus Day holiday weekend aren’t very happy, but maybe they’ll have a budget before then. (Columbus day is October 9 this year.)

      There are people who were looking forward to being furloughed, because the furloughed people will eventually get paid for the time they’re furloughed, and they’re mad about having to go work while others are getting the time off and will get paid for it. My poor manager scheduled individual one-on-one meetings to explain things to us, and apparently some of my coworkers were quite upset for various reasons.

      Yesterday, on Thursday, our management (comparatively low-level people) had an “employee appreciation” lunch of hot dogs for everyone in my agency.

  13. Justme, The OG*

    Finally got my promotion offer yesterday (I was the only one interviewed, I was trained for the position) and I just emailed to negotiate a slightly higher salary. I’m so nervous. The offered salary was fine but I laid out a few reasons why I would like it higher (about 5%).

      1. Justme, The OG*

        Thank you! I was so nervous. But I also know what the previous person made in the role at retirement so I know my small amount is well under the line item maximum for the role.

    1. Hannah Lee*

      Sending good vibes your way!

      Congrats on the offer and it is worth making the ask, they just go with it or do some sweetening, and even if they can’t right now, you’ve let them know they can’t be complacent about your compensation … you think you’re worth more, so they will hopefully keep that in mind when it IS time for reviews/adjustments.

      1. Justme, The OG*

        I work for a state entity, so raises are up to the pool they’re given. Which is also why I asked for more since I will miss out on the next FY round of cost of living raises.

  14. YetAnotherAnalyst*

    I’m in an employee resource group, and it’s becoming a serious morale suck for me. It doesn’t have a good track record on the things that matter to me (lots of talk but no action), and the things that it does manage to do are frankly a little insulting (talks on about mindfulness and journaling for International Women’s Day). We meet maybe twice a year, sporadically get frustrating emails from ERG leadership, and we sometimes have an active Slack channel… Do I drop it, because it kind of makes me hate my job whenever I’m reminded that it exists? Or do I stay in, because having even an ineffective ERG with a decent headcount is meaningful, and if the ERG falls apart then the folks who don’t think representation matters will have won?

    1. ferrina*

      No, you don’t need to stay in a group that destroys your mental health. Honestly it sounds like this group isn’t moving the needle on representation anyways (if they are “lots of talk but no action”).

      You may be able to find other outlets through your work, but if representation is truly not a priority to the company, that an important thing to know and factor into your long-term plans. IME, ERGs work best with leadership that is already open to feedback.

    2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      I think the fact that the people who don’t think representation doesn’t matter *are* winning, as you’re channeling energy into a fruitless effort. If the ERG was helpful in some way, great. Since it’s not, I’d say it’s detracting from representation.

      Also, don’t let the company have false representation, i.e., They get to tell new hires they have this group and give the false impression that the higher ups care.

    3. Lady_Lessa*

      I’d drop out.

      I chose to do something similar with one of my charity groups at my parish. There wasn’t much for me to do after I started working again. Even though I am not sure it was intentional, I felt like I was managed out.

    4. miel*

      I would leave the group.

      ERGs are notoriously underresourced. They’re difficult to run, even more difficult to run well. But that’s not your problem. If the execs at your company want to actually do something about diversity, they can resource it appropriately.

      If there’s ever a chance to share feedback with the execs, you could say you want more substantial progress on diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

    5. Can't Sit Still*

      You don’t have to put any effort into it if your company isn’t. If it is actively making you angry, I would drop it.

      I belonged to an actively destructive ERG, but kept pushing for improvement because the other ERGs were functional. The company listened and made changes, but it doesn’t sound like that’s likely at your company.

    6. Itsa Me, Mario*

      As the lead of an ERG, even I would say to drop it. If you feel a deep sense of passion about what the group could be doing, it could help to give that feedback, make suggestions, or even take on a leadership role yourself. Sometimes it feels extremely thankless to do all of this leadership and admin work, and then the membership both don’t want to take anything on while also don’t think we’re going in the right direction.

      That said, it’s a voluntary organization. If you’re not getting anything out of it, you have no obligation to stay involved.

    7. Charlotte Lucas*

      Drop it. I would be really tempted to do a mindfulness journal exercise about my frustrations with the ERG, then turn it in as my resignation from the group.

    8. Quinalla*

      The other option if you are willing is to try and drive some meaningful action. Go to the ERG leadership and say “Hey, I want to lead an effort to do X, what resources are available for that.

      But if you don’t want to, don’t feel bad about dropping out. I actually think an ERG that basically does nothing is worse than not having an ERG.

  15. Wordnerd*

    How do you deal with the tiny million and one frustrations in the day to day? Every time I get an email from an entitled faculty member who didn’t read my last email carefully enough, or another small glitch happens in our system that I can’t explain or solve, etc., my instinct is to go complain to my team member or stop working and end up on AAM or something for too long. But I don’t want to be an emotional weight on colleagues or waste time (therefore getting more stressed about work tasks).
    I’m thinking about like, writing ARGH on a piece of paper, crumpling it up, and throwing it in the garbage. Any other suggestions? (They’re too frequent to go take a walk – I’d never get back to my desk…) And it’s not something I can try to systemically change – it’s sort of the nature of the role.

        1. Rainy*

          I have a special moleskine for rage-journaling and on days when I expect work to be frustrating I throw it in my bag in case I need it.

    1. ferrina*

      Bingo board. Check off the annoying thing that happened that day.

      It can be weirdly amusing to realize “oh, that’s a new version of stupidity I haven’t seen before!” or text a friend “It’s a 2 Bingo day! I’m definitely going kickboxing after work”

      1. Wordnerd*

        Oh man I *love* this idea! Like, I get to get myself a root beer from the vending machine if I check off enough annoying things.

      2. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        Seconding this! I did that on my brother’s advice regarding my awful ex as we were divorcing.

        Rather than expecting him to answer rationally or act responsibly AT ALL, my brother told me to pretend I had to get to 100 stupid interactions with him and then we could be divorced.

        So each time he did something crazy, I could be like “that’s another one! I’m at 24 now, only 76 more to go!” instead of being aggravated that he didn’t meet my (very, very low) expectations of being a reasonable human being AGAIN.

        It was still frustrating, but took up less space somehow.

      3. Donkey Hotey*

        Agreed. Finding humor in a situation has always helped me through. For example, I’m child free by choice. I started keeping a “why don’t you have kids” bingo card at my desk. One time, I actually pulled it out and marked a square as the person was standing there.

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      It sounds like you’re at BEC stage. If you can figure out why and then tackle the underlying problem, then all of a sudden the little stuff doesn’t matter (as much). Because the little stuff isn’t going to go away, but your response to it can change.

      For me, this looks like: cutting way back on social media, sit at home on the couch and just relax for a day or 2, reducing the drag on your time and attention from things like chores, etc (no, you can’t stop doing laundry, but you can simplify the laundry process).

      1. Wordnerd*

        Thank you for responding! I admit I’m not in the best place – (our university is facing layoffs and our department is doing to be restructured and probably dissolved) – so I’m for sure at BEC stage but with like, all the things.

        1. I'm an anony-mouse for today*

          Do you work for the same university system that I do?! My university is the only one in our entire state system that is not getting layoffs, people in the state capitol want diversity, equity, and inclusion programs eliminated and are holding our

            1. Wordnerd*

              Yepppp that sounds like the same system – it’s “you” and then a “double you”! (Although I imagine that in a lot of red states, the second part could still be true.)

    3. WorkerDrone*

      Ugh, also staff in higher ed, and I feel you.

      Since these happen so often, I have a whole host of coping mechanisms:

      One, I keep treats at my desk. Faculty member doesn’t read my instructions? Piece of candy. Haven’t gotten a reply to a simple question after thirteen working days and a follow up? Time for a cup of fancy pantsy tea. Lost parent who, rather than accepting directions to admissions, wants me to create their freshman’s schedule? I’m reaching for my expensive lavender oil roll-on.

      This helps a lot to off-set the frustration, knowing a “reward” is waiting.

      Two, if the frustration can be complained about in a funny way – turning a faculty member’s refusal to read an email into a conspiracy theory that faculty member actually did read it but is performing a social experiment on staff – then I’ll find a colleague who also needs a little break and kvetch a bit.

      I don’t do this, though, with “true” complaining – I only do that if I can find a way to make it kind of funny, or entertaining, or something that lightens the complaint.

      Three, for the REAL ones, the ones that I actually get genuinely annoyed or angry about – those I will stop and take a break with AAM, or just get up and walk to the bathroom to get away from the screen for a moment, etc.

      Since I’m posting on AAM, you can tell where I am at this Friday. :)

      1. I'm an anony-mouse for today*

        Yes to this! I like to keep a jar of treats that me and my coworkers can use to de-stress after difficult parents or students.

    4. Sitting Pretty*

      Oh I so feel this. I’m in higher ed admin and it really is death by a thousand (paper)cuts.

      I try to remember that I’m getting the same paycheck whether I get aggravated or not. They’re not paying me any extra to carry the stress on top of the work. So I’m just stressing for free? Absolutely not.

      There’s something in there about accepting poorly designed systems that never sits right with me. I think many of us are driven to improve things, find better ways.

      But if no one is empowering me to do that (or welcoming my input on those things, or paying me for structural change), then I do need to let go and just work within the systems as they are as best I can.

      When you notice you’re starting to carry the aggravation, maybe remind yourself that no one is paying you to sacrifice your mental health.

    5. S*

      I like the “argh”. It won’t feel like enough but it’s way better than nothing. You need to get your emotions OUT in that context.

      I’ve been in a secret rage/anxiety in recent weeks at work, and since I’m on my own in the office I can do something I find useful: scribble angrily and forcefully on a piece of paper, and then take a thick-ish wad of paper and tear it up. The wad of paper is thin enough to tear, thick enough to need force. The action really pushes a button and lets something out. Sometimes it releases even stronger emotion and I have to fume for a minute or two, but I know that’s more sutainable than trying to keep it in.

      What I’m getting at: expressive and physical is good.

    6. Turnipnator*

      This is a little out there, you’d know best if you think this would work for you: what if you tried to gameify those frustrations? I’m imagining some kind of counter (like a filling a jar with marbles) and a significant reward at the end when it fills up. The act of counting would separate you from the frustration a bit by making you observe it to count it, and if the counting is something you find satisfying enough (that’s why I thought of marbles: the physicality of dropping a marble into a jar has all kinds of feedback, from touch to sound to visual, if the marble is pretty) then you get some a small amount of extra brain chemicals as a reward for dealing with the frustration. And then when the jar is full you treat yourself somehow, so that the counting has a purpose as well. You could put in intermediate rewards too if it helps to keep you engaged with the counting and distracted from the frustration.
      The counting ritual could be any number of things that are fairly mindless but also satisfying, ideally small enough they don’t take too much of your time. Maybe you build a Lego set one piece at a time, or add beads to a string, or color one piece of a picture.

      1. Speed River*

        I did this! I put money in a jar for various annoyances – the literal visualization of ‘if I had a dollar…’. There was a scoring sheet so that IT not fixing something they said they had was $1, someone messed up receiving was $.25, etc. When it was full I bought myself a nice bottle of wine – it was nicer than I was planning because I ended up with $40!

    7. Dinwar*

      My office is somewhat private, so I have a crochet thingy that I work on when I get stressed. It’s just a giant granny square, made out of thin thread (not big, bulky yarn). I try to channel my frustrations into that. I figure once it’s done I’ll either use it as an alter cloth (making something good out of it) or light it on fire (releasing the negativity, plus I like fire). It’s a bit weird, but I’m generally considered weird to begin with so it doesn’t surprise anyone.

      My colleagues and I also have a once-a-month night where we each buy a good bottle of bourbon, go over to someone’s place, and talk. Can be about work, or about personal stuff, or about anything really. Knowing we have that release valve does help. And knowing that it’s not just me experiencing some of this helps. (Two things I’ve learned: Good bourbon doesn’t give hangovers as much as cheap rotgut, and drinking about two glasses of water for every double of booze really does help!)

    8. knitcrazybooknut*

      I’m also staff in higher ed. This was our first week of classes, so I FEEL YOU. I like others’ suggestions of gamifying the stress, and in my job, I calibrated my expectations according to what I see around me. Faculty don’t read emails? I will EXPECT them not to read the emails, so I’m really sending them so I can forward them to faculty later as they ask questions. I guess I’m setting up my work processes to account for the expected irritations, and also laugh at them in appropriate company. It is pretty ironic that English faculty don’t generally read the whole email!

      While this may not help in your situation, I also try to reframe it as my work covering their weaker spots. I’m not going to teach a course on climate change in fiction any time soon, so my administrative skills will help them keep their mindset focused on teaching.

      1. Agnes*

        Remind yourself that for every one faculty member who doesn’t read your email, they have 10 students who don’t read their emails.

    9. Too Many Tabs Open*

      When I’m alone in the office or working from home, I improvise little songs about the thing that annoys me.

      For extra irritating situations, I’m partial to humming Alestorm’s “F’d with an Anchor” to myself; it’s an extremely chipper song with extremely coarse lyrics, so it cheers me up in the face of buffoonery.

  16. ILoveCoffee*

    I teach at a community college and one of my students who finished their degree in environmental studies at a 4 year school is interested in eventually working as a zookeeper. This is not my area, so I suggested be speak to his four year professors and told him I’d reach out here to see if anyone has any suggestions. Questions:

    1. With an environmental studies degree, will he have enough science background to be a zookeeper? (my instinct on this one is no – since the handful of people I went to college with who did end up at zoos had ecology/biology/wildlife degrees)

    2. There are programs where you can get a certificate in zoo keeping. Are these programs legit? Worth it? (This is where I have no info). For example, the Animal Behavior Institute in NC has a program where you can “become a certified zookeeper” in 6 months.

    3. If the certificate programs are worth it, will he need to go back and take more bio/ecology/wildlife courses in order to do well in the program?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      My niece has an environmental sciences degree. There is a lot you can do with that degree with regards to conservation, ecotourism, education, and the like.

      Maybe this student has latched onto “zookeeper” as a job title for “everybody who works at the zoo”.

      They’re probably not qualified for actual animal care – especially large mammals and endangered species, but certainly could do a lot of the other stuff that people go to zoos for. Writing the descriptive material, doing programs at the zoo, outreach and educational programs.

      1. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

        agreed. I’m even more concerned because he was studies which is more policy and less science courses than the env. science degree

      2. Cj*

        my, how times have changed! in 1969, my dad, who was a grain and livestock farmer with an 8th grade education (and had to do something else because of “reasons”), applied for and was offered the job of animal caretaker at a zoo.

        he turned it down because it paid $80 a week, he decided he had to have $90/week, and they wouldn’t budge on the pay.

    2. Dinwar*

      Some zoos offer volunteer programs where your student could get a sense of how they’d fit in at a zoo. Plus, it’s a way to get their foot in the door. It’s also a good way to see if this is what they really want. The realities of the job are FAR different from the public perception. One of my kids loves the local zoo, and we’ve become friends with some of the keepers, and they’ve got stories….

      And don’t just look at zoos–I know one zookeeper that got involved through their work with NOAA, on a marine biology research vessel, for example. Working at a zoo is one of those things you can slide into sideways if you plan carefully and keep your eyes open.

      As for the degree, I work with a lot of folks that have such degrees and I don’t think environmental science is going to help. Environmental science is going to be more about ecology and regulatory compliance and wells and the like. Zookeepers are more biology and veterinary medicine. Knowing about ecology and conservation and the like is good, definitely, but it doesn’t help you much when faced trying to figure out how to put a tiger on a diet. What they can do is look at educational programs offered by zoos, though. That’s where an environmental science degree will be more useful.

      1. Armchair Analyst*

        this. I have a friend who became a volunteer at her local 2nd-tier City Zoo (the zoo is 1st tier, but the City is not, like, NYC or LA or Chicago or DC or Boston… a more big rural state with a second-tier city, with a zoo). she was placed with apes and monkeys and on clean-up duty but stuck with it to the point of managing other volunteers (she was in her later 20s at this point) and having many duties. when a position of zookeeper opened up, she was hired over people with Ph.D.s or animal-specific experience elsewhere because she knew the animals and had shown her dedication. could she transfer as a zookeeper to another city’s zoo? I don’t know but that hasn’t come up. she worked really hard at what she wanted and she got it!

    3. Janeric*

      I don’t know about the programs — but I have worked with a lot of wildlife biologists who wanted to be zookeepers and couldn’t find an appropriate job/couldn’t make a living wage despite years of effort. Zoo (and wildlife rehab) internship programs are very good, and excellent experience for other jobs — and I *think* there’s a culture of putting in your time for free and hopefully getting one of the limited paid opportunities — so that would be my first suggestion. (OK my actual first suggestion is “have family money”, that seems to be a common complaint from coworkers.)

      Wildlife biology in general tends to be very focused on the physical and habitat needs of a species, and how to find out what those are and manage for them. There’s usually a strong handling component in degree programs and jobs. Environmental sciences tends to be more about the system as a whole, and less dialed in to managing for specific species. It also tends to be super regional, because ecosystems and environmental protection laws are super regional. There’s surprisingly little overlap in the education programs, but people often cross train in the workforce (so if someone finds a rare turtle on a construction project the person making sure that the wetlands are protected is able to safely move the turtle, and if someone drives through a wetland that supports rare turtles, the person managing the turtle populations knows how to restore the wetland.)

    4. Itsa Me, Mario*

      No answers, but my kid (who is 5) wants to be a zookeeper when he grows up. Because of this, I’ve been curious how people go into that field and what the qualifications are like. I’m sure my kid will have other dreams and may pick a different career, but I always want to be supportive and knowledgeable. Especially because my parents just told me I couldn’t do my childhood dream job, and that nobody does that and nobody knows how to do that. Which is… very much not true. And which sucked.

      1. Study Animal Science*

        Look into studying Animal Science in college. It’s basically pre-veterinary, but a few fellow students ended up in zookeeping. Lots of organic chemistry & hard science but also husbandry animal anatomy & physiology. Opportunities for hands on internships.

    5. Clisby*

      I don’t know about certificates in zookeeping, but Santa Fe (public) College in Gainesville Florida has a 2-year program in zookeeping. I’m not sure if that’s exactly what they call it, but that’s what it is – the college operates its own Teaching Zoo (the smallest zoo accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums – I think it’s only about 10 acres.) The students do a lot of the work of taking care of the animals.

    6. Generic Name*

      I have degrees in biology and environmental science, and a grad school classmate used to be a zookeeper at a major metro zoo. An env studies degree will not be enough. They need an animal science or biology degree focused on animals. Zookeeper jobs are very competitive and pay very poorly. If a love of animals motivates them, they could look into working for US fish and wildlife service. Or get a graduate degree focused on animals, but only do it if they can get fully funded to attend. The zookeeper pay will not make a graduate degree worth it.

    7. ZooProf*

      I train a lot of future zookeepers. Environmental studies probably doesn’t have quite the right prep, but if they were open to working in the education department, there may be some possibilities there.

      The big thing for the zoo world is getting internship experience. Most are unpaid, but more paid internships seem to be coming up every year. If you’re in the US, make sure it’s an AZA zoo. They may need to do a couple of internships/seasonal positions to get their foot in the door. It’s a field where you work your way up and fair warning, the bottom is poorly paid.

      I would be skeptical of anything from the Animal Behavior Institute. It’s not a proper educational institution.

  17. Just a girl*

    Hi all — just looking for info/advice on Self employment Taxes and Healthcare. US based.

    I’ve been considering freelancing for a while now and the two things that scare/intimidate me about the prospect are self employment taxes and finding good health care. My parents are ministers and considered self employed and I have lived my whole life watching them get royally screwed one way or another on these two things. If anyone has any advice, books or blogs, or other information they care share, I’d appreciate it!

    1. ThatGirl*

      My dad was a pastor so I feel this, haha. But the individual healthcare market has changed a lot since the ACA was passed, so it’s not nearly such a crapshoot anymore. It is still often more expensive than employer-provided plans, of course, but not insanely so.

      For taxes, a good rule of thumb is to have a separate account just for those and set aside 1/3 of your income right away. Estimated taxes are paid quarterly. An accountant can help you get that figured out if it seems too complicated. I actually have a friend who’s a CPA who specializes in freelancers and small businesses.

      1. ACACanBeGreat*

        For what it’s worth, my healthcare costs went up in every way when I switched from an ACA plan to an employer plan. It really depends on which plan you pick on the exchange and what your employer offers.

        Also, look at all levels of plans, and consult your accountant – the gold and platinum plans can offer a better deal for many who are self employed because premiums can often be tax deductible for certain types of self-employed individuals and those plans shift more of the costs to premiums (the total out if pocket costs tend to be similar across all the plan levels, the difference is the lower tier plans with lower premiums tend to have higher deductibles/out of pocket maximums).

        Good luck!

    2. NewJobNewGal*

      If you are freelancing on the side of a regular job, then it isn’t too bad. Fill out a Schedule C and done! And you can expense a lot when you file a Schedule C. I was also scared about the extra taxes, but I was able to write off my pc, desk, phone, other odds n ends and that balanced out the extra taxes. And nothing shady either, just the regular stuff that we need to buy for work, but now it’s a business expense.

      1. Just a girl*

        Yeah, that is how I would plan to start; maybe slowly scale up to full time. Thank you – it’s encouraging to hear it’s not a complicated process to start on the side.

    3. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Hire an accountant. Worth every penny, and they can help you get your bookkeeping set up correctly in the first place so you know what you’re doing tax wise. Our accountant keeps us updated on changes as well. Likely not as expensive as you might think, either.
      For health care, there are brokers that can help with that. You can also look into something like a freelancer’s union where you can buy health care as a group with other freelancers. I’ve never done that but I know someone who did.
      Basically the answer is to use professional help.

    4. Kay*

      Lots of this will depend on how much you are making, how much wiggle room you have in income, how healthy you are, etc.
      Everyone seems freaked out by self employment taxes – but I’ve always found the benefits outweigh any “extra” tax I pay. I’ve always been able to write off half of the cost of taxes (pay it in full but half is a business expense if I remember correctly). But keep in mind – you now get to write off your home office, mileage you drive, phone, business lunches, etc., which often aren’t things that change much for someone simply transitioning from employee to a freelancer. You can also contribute to your own retirement savings account to further reduce your taxes. I recommend talking to an accountant.
      I imagine healthcare will likely be your biggest concern. When I was young, healthy and a freelancer I wasn’t too worried because I didn’t ever need to go to the doctor. Obviously your needs and risk tolerance will come into play. Checking, internet searches and local brokers for health insurance will give you an idea of cost.

    5. RagingADHD*

      Seconding the advice to get a CPA to file your taxes for you. If you keep good organized records, you’ll only have to pay for 1 hour of their time a year, and they will save you more than that.

    6. Feral Humanist*

      I signed up for a bank account through Found, which had really great reviews as a bank account for sole proprietorships (there is a “real” bank that backs it and everything is FDIC insured). It calculates my taxes automatically and separates out that money, so that it never feels like “mine.” And it automatically deducts expenses, and I can file my federal taxes quarterly through my bank account. I’ll still have a CPA do them come tax time, and I will have to pay state taxes separately, but I don’t think it will feel like as much of a shock.

      I got my health insurance on my state’s exchange. Honestly, I don’t think it is much more than I was paying through my employer!

      1. Feral Humanist*

        I just wanted to add that some of these benefits (mostly paying taxes through them) is a premium benefit of Found that I decided to pay for. But I used the free version for quite a while, and it still did stuff like calculate my taxes for me and separate out that money.

    7. Washi*

      Healthcare dot gov has a search tool where you can find a navigator or broker in your area! Just from my experience, I would probably start with a navigator (has additional requirements to be impartial) and they will refer you to a broker if needed. Be ready with a list of questions about any services or medications you will need covered. But I think it’s a lot easier to talk to a human and usually they can get you signed up over the phone. Open enrollment is coming up soon!

    8. WestsideStory*

      I’ve been freelance on and off for nearly 40 years now. Let me just emphasize some of the useful advice already give.

      1. Find an accountant who will do your taxes and answer the occasional question the rest of the year. Ask your clients/colleagues for recommendations, as you will want someone with a familiarity with your industry, so they can tell you what’s deductible from your gross revenue – you’d be surprised what a good accountant can safely recommend.

      2. Understand that the cost of the accountant, as well as the monthly premiums on your self- insurance, are tax deductible for sel- employed people. Phone service and in most cases internet service can also be deducted from the gross.

      3. Put away 1/3rd of every freelance payment into a savings account which you will need later to pay taxes. Pretend that money doesn’t exist. You will thank us later.

      4. Keep receipts for all business expenses. Some stash them in a paper file; others use one credit/debit card only that provides a monthly and yearly summary of expenses. This makes tax time easier.

      5. The name of the game in this biased system is to lower your g taxable income by using all the deductions available on a schedule C as well as the 1040.

      So you see why you first of all need a good accountant. Start asking around, best wishes and good luck!

  18. Henley*

    My very white boss is constantly referring to meetings as ‘pow wows’… while wearing an orange reconciliation shirt. Is it worth bringing this up to them? They’re about 20+ years older than me (I’m their kid’s age), so it may be an incidence of being unable to change a habit they refuse to realize is awkward.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      They definitely can’t change the habit if it’s not brought to their attention. I vote yes. But keep in mind you might be spending some capital and make a choice if you have that capital to spend.

    2. PaperclipsPlease*

      I think it’s worth bringing it up to them. It’s possible they didn’t realize how insensitive it was. Or it might not change anything, but maybe if enough people speak up they’ll stop.

    3. ferrina*

      How is your boss generally? Are they receptive to feedback?

      If your boss is generally reasonable and open to feedback, a quick aside is just fine- “Hey, you keep referring to meetings as pow wows. I know you don’t realize it, but that’s not considered appropriate and can be disrespectful to indigenous people. I just wanted to give you a head’s up, since I’m sure you weren’t aware of it.” Then quickly change the subject or find somewhere else to be (so no one has to dwell in the awkwardness).

      However, if your boss takes feedback poorly or is reactive, you don’t need to jeopardize your role to say something. Try to make connections with more senior people outside your chain of command- one of them might feel more comfortable saying something. (Also, just be aware that this type of boss could have an impact on your career, and plan accordingly)

      1. Zephy*

        +1 just matter-of-factly explain why it’s not a good look. If you can draw parallels to something more culturally familiar to him it might help illustrate your point, like explain what a “powwow” actually is and why it’s not just a fun word for meeting.

        1. I'm an anony-mouse for today*

          In the show NCIS, when Tony was in charge of the team while Gibbs was gone he called the little meetings “campfires” because they all gathered around in a circle. That might be a different choice for the boss

      2. Quinalla*

        Yup, and I usually try to do it in an email or teams type message so the person can react in private and then be able to calmly respond because I’d say 80%+ people get immediately defensive (unfortunately I sometimes do too though I’m working on it!), but if they can have that reaction in private, they often will get past it quickly.

        I brought this up with someone using the “Open the Kimono” phrase (ick!) and said in my after hours teams message something like “Hey, I know this is not your intention, but the phrase “Open the Kimono” is very racist/sexist – (Here is a link if you want to know more)” I also went on to offer some alternatives and said not to prescribe what he wanted to use instead but I always hate when someone tells me “Don’t say that!” but give no alternatives. I also appealed to him being a leader and not wanting the language to “catch on” as we were working to try and use very intentional language.

        Because I knew the person well, I went on to give examples of speech I’ve had a hard time changing, but I don’t think that is necessary, made sense with the relationship we had. I find this helps diffuse defensiveness and show that we are both humans who make mistakes.

    4. I should really pick a name*

      That really depends on what your sense of how your boss responds to feedback is.

      One note: phrasing like “X people find this hurtful because Y” tends to work better than “you can’t say that”

    5. Jessica Clubber Lang*

      I think if your boss is generally reasonable you should be ok to mention it.

      I am wondering though if “chief” is similar? Maybe because we don’t always say the word but instead just use CMO, CEO etc it’s ok?

      1. Donkey Hotey*

        Context is everything. If chief is part of the title, then it’s fine. Without the actual title, referring to one’s boss as Chief or Big Kahuna is not fine.

        1. the bat in the office popcorn machine*

          While I get where you’re coming from, chief is a word that just means ‘boss’ to many people and it’s also what it means in general. It’s not derived from an Indigenous word either. I 100% understand Big Kahuna, but I don’t think I get the rationale on the blanket ban on calling someone ‘chief .’

          1. Donkey Hotey*

            I didn’t say blanket ban, I said I wouldn’t use it if it wasn’t in their title. So, C-suite, Navy Chief Petty Officers, and Chief Engineers are all fair game. Beyond that, chalk it up to discretion vs valor.

      2. RagingADHD*

        Chief is an English word from French (chef) and Latin that means the head of an organization or group. Its origins and normal general usage (Chief Financial Officer, fire chief, chief engineer) have nothing to do with Indigenous peoples.

        The insulting / stereotypical use of it, or the association with sports teams, is not easily confused with the normal use.

        1. Jessica Clubber Lang*

          I was thinking more along the lines that a pow-wow is a very culturally significant event , and to use it in a more casual setting like that is inappropriate.

          I’m Jewish so I was thinking of it as if a non-jew used Yiddish terms like Klutz or schmooze. It’s the same word used in the same context but as far as I know most Jews don’t have a problem with that

          1. RagingADHD*

            “Pow-wow” is lifting an important Indigenous term out of context and radically misusing it to mean something else. I don’t think it’s like using schmooze or chutzpa or klutz at all. Those are borrowed words used correctly.

            I think it’s more like if a non-Jew said they were celebrating Sukkot when they were having a picnic in a pavilion.

    6. em*

      I think something like “hey boss, I was really glad to see you wear your orange shirt and showing your support for survivors and Indigenous people generally. Because if that, I wanted to mention something…” and then some of the wording others have mentioned.

    7. the bat in the office popcorn machine*

      You don’t need to explain things – if they’re wearing that shirt, find a source written by someone who is Indigenous on the harm of that phrase and let that do the talking. You didn’t specify that you are Indigenous yourself, and reading one comment here is making me uncomfortable that people not from a group are dictating what is and isn’t awkward or okay. There are Indigenous peoples in the US who are ok being called “Indian” still, some are ok with Native, some aren’t okay with being called anything other than the group they are a part of.

      Seek out their voices so you don’t need to go in with a second or third hand explanation. If you aren’t Indigenous yourself, I don’t know if it’s your place to say it’s awkward outright. I am sure it is and it’s awkward when I hear it, too, but I would rather than someone from that group (and there are MANY doing the unpaid emotional labor of educating people outside their group) make these calls on if I should speak up and how hard (i.e., is this the place where I should spend my energy to enact change?) It also hits a lot different when someone is “in the room” when it comes to changing habits rather than someone 20+ years younger than them (who appears to see themselves as an ally) what’s right and wrong.

      IDK if I am expressing myself correctly here – just something I am noticing about social justice movements is the removal of BIPOC voices that are still out there. If it makes you, personally, un-comfy is different than what the group things or whats socially acceptable in that group. I wanna repeat, I would also say something about this — it might help to suggest alternatives, too.

      Also…a pow wow isn’t really a meeting either. It’s more of a party, or at least, this is how it was explained to me, so he’s not even using it for the right kind of event type. :\

      1. Henley*

        No, I really appreciate this comment! You bring up a lot of valid points. I’ll definitely keep this in mind if I decide to broach the issue.

        1. the bat in the office popcorn machine*

          I am glad to hear that, wasn’t sure if I made sense. I really feel there are situations where it’s so, so clear things are Not Okay and everyone should speak up. But for things like this, my gut is saying “obviously not okay” but I couldn’t articulate it as well as someone who’s personally affected by this language being used in a way its not intended.

          Personal tangent incoming: I feel like I’m coming to the realization that in my own attempts to ‘do good,’ there is potential to unintentionally Other people by saying something that’s rooted in stereotypes and making things that are familiar un-familar…I remember reading the ‘Body Ritual Among the Nacirema’ in college a long time ago and realizing a lot of things are in how we’re approaching them. What is sacred and what is just another way of doing things and how does all of this intersect in the larger context and inform our relationship with each other?

        2. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

          I’m thinking about raising a similar thing at my work – a peer added in an acknowledgment of victim/survivors of gender-based violence to the Acknowledgement of Country at the start of a meeting and I’ve seen so many Indigenous people complaining about this. I’m planning to bring it up with the peer as something I’ve JUST learned about & wanted to share (and also suggest she check it out with her Indigenous 2-I-c, because maybe she’s fine with it, idk!)

    8. Mill Miker*

      Does he talk about reconciliation and stuff like that very often? If he does, I’d be tempted to wait until the next time he does and say something like “Speaking of, I was wondering if we should look in to a better name for our meetings than ‘pow wows’, any ideas?”

      Framing it as something the office is generally doing (even if it is just him) gives him a lot of room to save face, and might make it go over easier. It also saves you from making an explicit argument as to why it’s a problem, so there’s nothing for him to counter against.

      Even if he doesn’t go for it in the moment, if he’s reasonable I wouldn’t expect a stronger counter than “I think it’s probably fine” (to which I’d respond with a pretty neutral “okay” and move on) and then I wouldn’t be surprised if he kind of just phases it out over a few months.

  19. Elle*

    I’ve been waiting for this thread all week. Last week I posted about an under performing employee who was applying for a promotion. They formally applied this week and it is the worst resume and cover letter I’ve ever seen. They cut and paste an out of date job description into their resume. It’s a list of tasks, some that we don’t do any more and they have never done. There’s no embellishment on the tasks. Just the list. The cover letter is full of errors. It takes a lot of moxie? Air headedness? To submit something like this and expect a promotion. Wish me luck as I deal with this!

    1. Rainy*

      I was on a search committee last year that got a lot of really puzzling applicants (we had two really spectacular ones and hired our first choice) and my absolute favourite of the completely delulu applications we got was a packet that had a resume with absolutely zero relevant work experience and a cover letter that he’d clearly used for the last job he was thoroughly unqualified for, as he had changed who it was addressed to at the top to our organization, but said he was delighted to apply to [slightly wrong job title] at [institution in next town over].

    2. ferrina*

      Wow. That is truly terrible.
      If they’re already putting in such minimum effort to get the promotion, I’d hate to think what their work would be like if they got the promotion!

    3. ILoveCoffee*

      I just don’t get this thinking…because it shows NO thinking.
      We often deviate from the lab manual – so we’ll do wood on wood instead of wood on steel. I will point this out to them, ask them to correct it in the lab manual, and then I get the write ups and they talk about wood on steel. I guess some of these students end up as underperforming employees who keep doing things without paying any attention to what they are looking at/copying/writing.

    4. Elle*

      I will be mentioning the resume and letter as part of my feedback for why they didn’t get the job. If this was someone I didn’t know I’d immediately reject the application without even a phone screen.

      1. Capt. Liam Shaw*

        I think if you mention the resume/cover letter, you keep it short and at the end.

        I personally don’t do cover letters for any job. I think they are a waste of for me in my industry. But if the cover letter is poorly written and has typos and other errors, then address that part of it for sure.

    5. Hannah Lee*

      That almost provides a great example of sloppy work to use when discussing their performance issues.

    6. Tio*

      I got a referral passed on to me for someone who claimed to have experience in my area, applying for a specialist position. I agreed to an interview since it was a referral, but it was very clear very quickly that he had never groomed a llama, so to speak. I have no idea why he chose this particular position to apply to, other than hoping he could bluff his way in?

    7. Tio*

      Ooof. I recently granted an interview for a specialist position because it was a referral, but just looking at the resume didn’t seem like they had any experience in what I was hiring for, but said they did so I figured I would let them explain in person because of the referral. It became very clear very quickly that they did not have any experience grooming llamas, so to speak; no idea what equipment to use, what styles to do, could not answer basically any of my technical questions. Not sure why they thought this particular position, a specialist position, was what they should go for. I think they maybe thought they could talk their way into it?

    8. noncommittal pseudonym*

      A long time ago (long enough that I feel comfortable giving some detail) I once served as the external DEI member of a search committee for a Religious Studies department (not even close to my field). They warned me that there was some local guy who applied to EVERY job ever advertised in that department. However, a) he had no academic training at all, b) his only qualification that he listed was “reading the Bible through 5 times”, c) he kept talking about bringing the students closer to Jesus. Unfortunately for him, this was a broad-based Religious Studies department in a secular school that had something of a focus on the archaeology of early Judaism. Apparently people had tried to talk to him several times, but he was convinced that, one day, God would give him a job there to carry out God’s work.

      They hired a very nice Biblical archaeologist.

  20. t-vex*

    For some reason I’ve been thinking a lot lately about that old movie What Women Want, where Helen Hunt is hired to shake up a marketing firm with a misogynist bent (embodied by Mel Gibson of course), to bring a more female perspective. None of the staff is happy she’s there. Her first act as the new boss is to call a meeting and hand everyone a box containing female-oriented products like pantyhose and nail polish, and asks for impressions about how to sell them. Nobody knows what to do with the items and sexist jokes abound. She says “See this is why I’m here!, now go home and play with the stuff and come back tomorrow with ideas.” No criticism or fireworks, just clearly demonstrating the need for change and prompting critical thought and action.

    I saw that movie in college just as I was about to join the professional world, I remember being so completely blown away that THIS was how to be a boss, and that scene been in the back of my head my entire working career.

    1. Plate of Wings*

      I probably won’t rewatch this movie (which I enjoyed at the time!) because it is probably better in my memory. But I had forgotten about this scene, so THANK YOU!!!

      I work in an extremely male-dominated role that is balancing out way more slowly than other specialties for some reason. And I am NOT one of the boys. I don’t give into a single ounce of pressure to emulate masculinity to be successful, and I am lucky, because I am quite successful.

      So I love this scene because it’s classic ridiculous 90s movie writing, but it’s also a pure camp version of me.

    2. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      I remember a bit where Gibson paints his nails and paints across the width rather than along the length, and being annoyed with seeing that. Now I wonder if it was a subtle acting indication that he was unaware of how to do it properly. However I doubt that was the case…
      I know that different things are terrible in the workplace now, but thank ceiling cat that some of the repulsive everyday behaviours towards women in the workplace have changed since the 1970s!

  21. Yesteryear*

    I’ve been in the process of negotiating a title change and expanded responsibilities for several months now, and yesterday, my manager let me know that it’s going to be effective October 1! Very exciting. But then he added that he doesn’t know if HR will give me a salary increase or not, which caught me by surprise since I had assumed a salary increase would be obviously included in a new title and expanded responsibilities. Now I’m trying to prepare for if HR comes back and says they won’t give me an increase… How should I handle that conversation, or should I just suck it up?

    1. ferrina*

      ugh….I’ve been there.
      It really depends on how compensation is generally. Sometimes an adjusted title is a promotion; sometimes it’s just a new descriptor.

      It sounds like you aren’t going to turn down the title and responsibilities either way, so I’d ask HR about how they came to that decision and what factors would be considered for you to get an eventual raise. They may have really sound logic, or it may sound like “we realized we didn’t have to pay you more, so we’re not”.

      In your first year in your new role, gather evidence about how your value to the company changed. Did you improve efficiency? Make more money for the company? Quantify whatever you can. Focus on the factors that HR points out to you. After a significant amount of time (at least 6 months, maybe a year), go to your boss and HR with these numbers and ask for a raise. It may also help to have some comps with you- how much people with your job title and/or responsibilities are being paid in your region. Also consider how much experience you have- if it’s less than a year, don’t ask for the salary of someone who had been doing the role for 10 years. Then see what they say.
      If HR still refuses, that is a clear statement that they intend to underpay you for the duration of your stay with the company. You can decide if you are okay with that (like if the benefits and perks outweigh the pay gap) or if you want to start your job search. Your shiny new title and accomplishments will definitely help with the job search, if that’s the direction you take.

      1. Yesteryear*

        Yeah, experience really is the sticking point here. The title itself is a promotion from my previous one but I do lack experience (though my boss made it clear that the experience more has to do with future growth and internal equity than any comment on my skills, hence why I’m getting the promotion). I did research and prepared a document with equivalent salary information from both my organization and industry peers, but I worry that will be too aggressive if they weren’t planning on giving me a raise at all…

    2. WellRed*

      Why is it up to HR? Not your boss? Don’t let him pass the buck. Be very clear about the increase in responsibilities to make your case fir a salary increase.

      1. Yesteryear*

        Do you think I should open that discussion directly with him or HR? Because the way he said it made it seem like it was HR’s responsibility, not his.

        1. ferrina*

          Different companies handle this in different ways. The three most common things I’ve seen are 1) the boss is given a staffing budget to disperse as they see fit; 2) there are clear and direct salary bands and HR and the boss have to compare the job description and other factors, like experience, against (often these salary bands are developed with an outside consultant); and 3) HR gets to set the salary in consultation with senior leadership (and your boss may not be senior leadership).

          You can ask your boss directly about how the raise process works and what you would need to do to be considered for a raise. Approach it as gathering information, not as a given that “all I do is X, and I get money.”

        2. Hannah Lee*

          HR may have pay ranges/bands for different classes of positions that they are going to use to determine pay rates for a particular position, experience level, sure.

          But your boss should advocating for you to them on your behalf. If he’s happy to be able to assign you more or higher level work, he should also be willing to go to bat for you to be paid for that increased role, responsibility.
          So I would open the discussion with him, first. Even if the reality is he won’t have the final say, you want him to be part of the team trying to get you a yes*

          *and just from a pragmatic/cynical dealing with people perspective, people will often take the path of least resistance. It’s easy for him point to HR as owning the hard decisions. But if you take it up with him first, it becomes something he has to deal with, that he knows is an issue for you and then has to weigh whether having you in his department feeling under-compensated, seeing you everyday, knowing you’re going to ask about it again squeaky wheel style, is less of a hassle for him than just dealing with HR once to see that you get an increase. It’s not that you need to be annoying about it, you’re going to be professional and straightforward about it. It’s just that you don’t want to make it easy for him to simply pass you off to HR without owning that he’s doing that.

  22. Sage*

    Does someone here have experience with getting back to work after a long time absence due to Long Covid?

    I know it should be no different than being back after having had cancer, but I’m a bit affraid of stigma and people pretending I’m just crazy (I wish I was).

    If you also have LC and could go back to work, how was it? Did you face any problems? Or maybe was something surprisingly good?

    1. Magpie*

      Have you already told people at work that’s why you were out? If not, and if you’re worried about their reaction, you don’t have to go into details about your medical problems with anyone at work. You can just say you were dealing with a medical issue and give very general responses if they push for more details.

      1. Sage*

        I wish I hadn’t told anyone. But my situation is a good example on why you should keep your medical information private.

      2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        For me, if a colleague came back from an extended absence, I would be thinking, “Oh, wonderful, Magpie is back! :)” and move on with my day. Or, if we worked together regularly, “Oh, wonderful, Magpie is back! Ah, I should catch them up on X, Y, and Z.”

        I’m not thinking about the specifics of what illness you had, because I (like most people) am a bit self-centered.

        1. Sage*

          That is a good point. I’m also self centered, as you say like most people, and I also wouldn’t put too much thought on other people’s illnesses. I guess it will be best to stop thinking too much about how others will react on me coming back with manageable Long Covid.

    2. Sitting Pretty*

      No advice, just commiseration and lots of well wishes. I just started an extended medical leave due to LC and I’m trying not to get too focused on what the return will look like in January.

      I hope you get all the support you need (and deserve).

      1. Sage*

        Thank you. I’m employed in a good company, and the people in HR have been genuinely supportive. But sometime I’m afraid that as soon as I get back, this will change. Or my boss will believe I’m just weak or it’s all in my head (I really wish it was). On the last months I have seen far too many doctors that thought it was just anxiety, and it doesn’t exactly help that one of my early LC symptoms was anxiety (although it has gone away on its own).

    3. Birdy*

      I started back a few months ago, in nursing. I have no advice. I’m still wondering if the Long Covid label is causing stigma, and it’s hard to tell. I would much prefer to have a different label, and I am certainly afraid of stigma (though not sure if it’s happening.)

      My mood plummeted at the start when I went back. I felt demoralised to just be going back to the same old bs that had helped make me sick in the first place! But I worked with a therapist who helped my mind unpick the threads causing the depression, and that helped a LOT.

      1. Sage*

        Thank you for answering, and especially for the warning. This is something that could happen to me and I didn’t think about that.

        1. Birdy*

          The therapist said that depression is your system’s way of protecting you from something it interprets as danger. By slowing you down and preventing you from doing things or engaging emotionally, it cushions you against perceived threat. So we worked through what it was – about going back to work – that my unconscious might be seeing as unsafe.

    4. Mountain goat*

      Not me but my colleague returned from LC a couple of months ago and it’s been positive for everyone. We were happy to have her back and definitely no stigma or even really too much mention of why she’d been away, other than to express sympathy.
      One thing I found helpful was our joint manager telling us what my colleague would find useful on her return. If you have any particular concerns you think could be helped with easy changes then I’d consider bringing them up to you manager or colleagues, if you think they would respond well.

      1. Sage*

        Thank you. I guess it’s better to make a list now about what I need from my employer to function. It should make things easier.

    5. KathyG*

      Sometimes nominclature matters. Medical professional have started to use terms such as post-COVID-19 syndrome (PCS), or post-acute sequelae of COVID-19 (PASC), rather than Long COVID, to indicate that this is a recognized medical condition.

  23. Justin*

    Just had a really great week at my company offsite, and it’s clear I have a lot of respect in the organization not just for doing good work, but for what I bring as a person (specifically referring to energy and ideas). It’s a really nice feeling I haven’t had both of – I’ve been good at jobs but not valued as a person, and also valued as a person but really underpaid – in my career before. No idea if it’ll ever happen again so I have no plans to leave the job. I actually want to be one of those decades-in-the-job person.

    In other news, I am going to receive two separate book contracts next week (one academic, but non-ac non-fiction) which will mean I need to write two manuscripts by March 1, 2025. It’s a lot, but I know no other way.

    1. RagingADHD*

      Awesome, good for you! If it were March 2024 I’d be hyperventilating for you, but March 2025 is very doable for 2 manuscripts. You got this.

      1. Justin*

        My fellow ADHD people know that we move extremely fast when conditions are right. I call it the “bullet train” – I will crash without a track but when I’ve got one? Zoom.

        1. RagingADHD*

          My current personal record is 65K – clean and ready for the editor – in 21 days, but I don’t recommend it. It took a while to decompress from that.

  24. AnonFed*

    Fed here. Looks like for the second time in my career we’re facing an extended shut down. Last one I was pregnant and worried about the affects on my healthcare and ability to pay for things for a new baby. I have to keep working but I have restrictions on what I can do (Like I can’t take any leave or work any OT or comp time). And I probably won’t get paid on time.

    Just a reminder many of us are still working to avoid any giant messes. The shutdown is full of feds doing their best trying to mitigate the consequences. If everyone was truly shut down it would be a complete horrific disaster, so a lot of people end up working without pay.

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Fellow fed (active military). Yeah. I was around for the 2013 one also.

      My current agency is 99% civilians so the military folks will be taking up what we can of their workload. My (dual military) husband’s orders now won’t be cut for the new fiscal year, so he’ll… drop off healthcare? be able to go on mine? We don’t know.

      We still have to come to work even if we aren’t being paid, though there’s a bill (not yet passed) introduced to still pay us.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Non-fed here to say “thank you.” I know I can’t even comprehend what a disaster it would be if all federal employees stopped working. Thank you for those who continue working without pay during a shutdown, and I’m sorry about the whole situation.

    3. Milton's Swingline Stapler*

      I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this! And thank you for the work you’re doing. I work for a State HHS agency and I’m beyond enraged on your behalf and for those who rely on services like WIC — we all feel totally helpless and angry that some whose job it is to govern are so openly hostile to the people they serve and the civil servants who choose to work in the public interest. I’m crossing my fingers and toes that the shutdown can be avoided, but I can’t say I’m feeling at all optimistic.

      1. Constance Lloyd*

        We’re a two fed household and as tough as the shutdown will be for us, I’m furious for folks who use WIC. We will be anxious but fed and housed. We have family who can help if our savings disappears. I’m not worried for us.

    4. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      Wishing you and your fellow Feds a short shutdown with minimal long term impacts. During the 2013 shutdown, I was at a university where faculty did a lot of research with Feds (e.g., USDA and NOAA). The university folks stepped up in some cases to take care of the animals the Fed employees had responsibility for. Can’t let the llamas go untended just because Congress is full of idiots.

    5. JelloStapler*

      I fully believe most of the people are trying to avoid this while Congress dicks around (since their pay is dictated and in stone). I’m thinking of all of you.

  25. OP Glowing Symphony*

    Non-profit hiring business professional for development director role.

    Update: Last week I wrote we were interviewing a 25 yr business professional from a service field we use for fundraising (but not the company we’re in contract with). They have adjacent fundraising experience as a vendor, but not ‘in’ fundraising itself. I asked how to help them transition over. Well, that was for naught.

    They had an initial screen, an interview with C-suite, then a meet/greet with staff they’d be responsible for and work with, and finally a facility tour. * Every step reiterated the salary range * which they said was fine, until the offer.

    We made an offer. They countered with $25k over published salary range. They said they’re going to have to do a financial shift in order to just take this job and they wanted to counter with something that would make it easier on them. We might have been able to flex $5k, probably not $10k. But dude – we’re a non-profit. We don’t have capacity to go over our budget once it’s in place except for emergencies. Yes, we did a market comparison with our HR consultant and we have an CHR on staff, as well.

    Red flag? Avoided a problem? Perhaps. We have a modest expense budget (that I know is too low for some of our work and would like it increased, as well) but I suspect that candidate would have tried to push the envelope on that, too.

    So, we’re back to square 2 – we’re hiring a search firm to do the recruitment using the job description on hand. We might be out a fundraising director for 8-9 mos if we can get someone by Nov. I don’t know if we’ll be looking at a business/for-profit professional again.

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Oof, yesh…

      Sorry that happened. I’m…not surprised really. I think the jump from for profit to non-profit is bigger in some ways than people realize. And they don’t understand how they’re experience doesn’t translate 1:1.

      I mean…he didn’t have direct fundraising experiencr and his only reasoning for wanting a higher salary was it was going to create a financial burden on him? That reasoning wouldn’t hold much (any?) weight with a for-profit employer either.

    2. Ama*

      I’m sorry, I’ve had pretty much the exact same experience — I’m not in development but the last time I was hiring for my department we found this amazing person who was in the private sector but had previous nonprofit experience (and stated she was looking to move back), we were very honest upfront about how high we could go on salary (we even found a little more wiggle room than we were planning since she was such a great fit for the role)….and once we made an offer and she crunched the numbers she realized she couldn’t afford to take the pay cut from her private sector job.

      In her case, I really think she thought she could make the lower salary work and when she actually did the math she realized how much a cut she was taking. I can’t say if that was the same with your client or they just didn’t realize how little room nonprofits sometimes have to negotiate.

      I will say the person we did end up hiring did come out of the private sector as well, but the consulting firm she had been working for was shutting down and she was actually looking for a job that was a bit less travel intensive (which ours was), so the salary cut was less of a problem.

    3. m2*

      This is very annoying especially when you are upfront about the salary.

      Some people think they are so special and you’ll magically have extra money to pay them.

      Hope you find the right fit.

    4. SalaryCanBeFunny*

      It can go the other way too. I took a huge salary hit when I went to a non-profit, thinking that was normal and better benefits/work-life balance would make up for it only to find others were making more money than I was for less senior/central roles and to have the promised work/life balance disappear.

      A promotion and a raise later I am finally making slightly more than I made 10 years ago, still 20-30k less than the going rate for my more jr position on the open market when I took this job.

      So there’s that. Sometimes people have the wrong expectations of what’s normal. Also, how are the benefits? $X + great benefits is a whole different prospect from $X + lousy benefits. Plus I’ve had jobs where I thought $X might be reasonable until I learned more about what they really wanted and realized I wouldn’t do it for less than $X + $Y. Of course, I’ll try not to give a number or will say something like I need to know more or similar and when the company gives a low number I’ll say so I eyeing like that was lower than I was expecting but I’m willing to learn more about the job.

      Also, to be fair to the candidate, most companies don’t mean it’s set in stone when they publish/state a salary range. I’ve successfully negotiated over a stated high salary several times. 25k more is a bit obnoxious, though.

      1. Bart*

        I do a lot of hiring and have had many similar experiences. I am in a non profit organization that has a system for salaries that means I can’t negotiate. I make sure this system and the candidate’s salary is stated prior to the phone screen and during the on site interview and repeatedly explain why I cannot negotiate on salary. Lately some people have said nothing about the salary until the offer, at which point I get a lecture about how low the salary is and the requests are for $25,000 or more than what I told them throughout the hiring process. It is a waste of everyone’s time. And I simply reiterate that I have been telling them the truth about our salary process and my inability to negotiate so this shouldn’t be a surprise. So frustrating.

  26. JustaTech*

    If you knew that right this moment you could stop working forever and still live a very comfortable lifestyle for the rest of your life, would you quit your current job?
    Would you quit working forever?
    What would you do with your time?

    I know the idea of retiring early sounds like perfection to most people, but I just can’t fathom what I would do with myself all day, besides slip into a scary funk and be lonely. Does it make sense that some people keep working after their financial needs are met because they need structure and human interaction and intellectual stimulation?

    1. PaperclipsPlease*

      I would absolutely quit my current job. I’d love to spend my time working on art, traveling, volunteering for causes I care about. I can think of plenty of ways to spend my time without having to have a job in the traditional sense. I can also fathom getting some kind of part-time gig I really enjoy that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford now. That would give me a little fun money and keep me occupied without being stressful, and I’d only work there if it was something I love to do.

      1. Cookies for Breakfast*

        Yes, this exactly. Working on art and traveling, for sure. Also, there are many creative fields I’d love to retrain in but can’t afford going back to school or taking a pay cut for. I love to think that, if I was in this kind of situation, quitting my current job would give me the time and headspace to try at least one without the fear of not making a living if I fail. And then, if I fail, I could move on to the next and still be doing something I love.

        The more I work, the less spending most of my life pursuing a traditional career makes sense to me (and “for” me, personality-wise – when it comes to setting career goals, managing up and moving up ladders, I’m the proverbial square peg trying to fit into a circle just so I can pay my bills). Then I look to the future and see I have at least 30 more years of this ahead of me, and…UGH.

    2. Rainy*

      I can honestly say that if I became independently wealthy I’d probably stay in my current role until I retired–and I’d advocate the whole time for my entire unit to be paid commensurate with the work we do, something I’d be much better able to do if I weren’t always gauging how much real talk I can get away with before pissing off someone who could fire me. As much as some of the nonsense I have to deal with bothers me sometimes, I love the work I do, I like to think I’m good at it, and I’m making exactly the kind of impact I want to in the world. But when you are grotesquely underpaid for the area you work in and will never be able to buy a home in a reasonable commute of where you work, it really magnifies everything else annoying about your job.

      Although early retirement does sound delightful, I don’t know how long I’d last before I was working or at least volunteering somewhere part-time. (The rest of the time I would be doing yoga and hobbies.)

    3. ThatGirl*

      Would I quit my job? Probably, because as much as I do enjoy it most weeks, I’m not just doing it for fun. But I would definitely need to find ways to fill my time – volunteering or working part time, finding some new hobbies, maybe taking classes or traveling more. I am not good at sitting around doing nothing for very long.

      My grandpa was an anxious sort who liked nothing more than feeling useful. After he retired he did various part-time and volunteer jobs including driving a minibus for a retirement home and being a CASA (court appointed special advocate). He also did a lot of woodworking and he and my grandma traveled a lot until their health declined.

    4. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      Wow would I ever. Just doing art, reading books, out in nature . You wouldn’t be tired from work so youd have skills out the wazoo

    5. FashionablyEvil*

      Oooh, yes, I would absolutely quit and not look back.

      What would I do with my time? Garden, read, travel, go to yoga every day, spend more time with friends, go to concerts, movies, shows, volunteer at my kids’ school and synagogue.

    6. ferrina*

      I love this question.

      I would stay at my current job. I really enjoy it and I make a big impact at my company.
      If I opted to quit, I would probably pick up a part time job at an indy bookstore or a living history site. Something I love doing that I wouldn’t care much about the money. I’d work on some passion projects on non-work days and take lots of classes- there’s some amazing nature and art classes in my area that I would happily do on a very regular basis.

    7. Magpie*

      I agree with you, I would have a really hard time quitting my job. I love what I do and even when I take a couple weeks off, I start getting antsy to get back to work towards the end of the time off. I have no idea what I would do with my time if I didn’t have a job to go to every day. My kids are in school all day, and I have some outside interests but they wouldn’t take up enough time to fill my days. Maybe I’d consider going part time but would likely not quit completely.

    8. Angstrom*

      I do know people who retired and filled their calendar with volunteer commitments “to give me a reason to get up in the morning”. I understand the desire for some sort of structure.

      I can see doing something part-time that would feel *useful*. It would not be a 40-hour week at an office.

      There are plenty of things in my “someday” file that could be addressed with time and money. :-)

    9. londonedit*

      I would absolutely quit – I enjoy my job and it’s probably the best job I’ve ever had, but I’m definitely a work to live person regardless of how good the job is! I wouldn’t quit straight away, but I’d talk to my boss and we’d come up with a plan for me to leave at a good time. And then I definitely wouldn’t work for at least a year. I’d just spend a year or so enjoying myself and spending time with family and travelling, and then I’d see where I was. I’d set myself up with a nice place to live, and then I’d think about whether I might like to do some sort of work – maybe part-time or freelance, but the sort of thing where there’s no pressure.

    10. Anonymask*

      I would quit my current job, for sure. I’d probably spend a lot of me-time doing hobbies, going on day trips with my partner, visiting friends, get back into physical sports, etc. But I would probably look for something to do outside the house as well, so I’d probably go back to school or volunteer with causes I feel strongly for (or work part time with them).

    11. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Your question makes total sense.

      I know there are several things I would do that would take up good chunks of my time, but am always concerned about sliding into a funk like you describe. I’d want a good external forcing function to prevent procrastination too. One of my hobbies is gardening, so the turn of the seasons is a good forcing function.

      I’m afraid I’m no help on the intellectual stimulation part, though, because one of the things I’d do is spend hours in the library every week!

    12. Panicked*

      I would 1000% quit. I would love to give more time to volunteering to non-profits and groups that are close to my heart. PTA needs help on a teacher workday? I’m there. Need someone to help register voters on a Tuesday afternoon? Count me in. Library needs someone to help shelve books? I’ll be there with bells on.

      I would stay socially active while still being able to prioritize my own wants. I’d love that and cannot wait for retirement to actually do it.

    13. Justin*

      I really like my current job. I’d be pretty board. Would definitely force us to hire a couple more staff as we do a lot of work.

    14. I should really pick a name*

      In a second, and I like my job.

      I’ve got loads of hobbies I could commit more time to.
      I volunteer with an organization. I could do more with them because I’d be available during work hours.

    15. Still Monty and Millie's Mom*

      I would quit my current job, but would like to work with animals, so would work for our volunteer with an animal rescue instead. I can’t afford to do that now as the pay is generally not good, but that would be a dream!

      I’ve often thought that I’ll need to volunteer or something if/ when I retire. I need human interaction, and I like routine.

    16. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

      Depends what “very comfortable lifestyle” would mean! If I’m not working, then I would want to do a lot of traveling … a lot more than I can currently afford to do! I definitely would need something to fill all that time and provide a lot of structure, and I get a lot of satisfaction and intellectual stimulation from my current job.

    17. Donkey Hotey*

      Would I leave? In a heartbeat.

      What would I do? Sorry answer: I have spent the last 30 years being unable to do stuff for lack of time. I have a list.

      Yes, eventually I might volunteer or tutor, but quite frankly, I have 70 books on my TBR list, a stack of cross stitch projects, and a garden that needs to be put to be for winter. I feel zero guilt about taking time to do those things.

      1. SansaStark*

        A friend and I were just talking about how sad it is that we probably will never really finish our To Read lists and I agree. I like my job and my coworkers a lot, but if I had real security, I’d quit and never look back. I have so many things I’d rather be doing with my time!

        1. Donkey Hotey*

          I began 2022 with 60 books on my TBR list. That year, I read 40, and on January 2023, I had 70 books on my TBR list. I don’t see it as sad, I see it as a challenge.

          1. SansaStark*

            My problem is that new books keep coming out faster than I can read everything on my list! I’m glad I prioritized some of the longer ones on my list (Count of Monte Cristo, the LOTR saga) when I was unemployed and reading the majority of most days.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          ” The one thing I regret is that I will never have time to read all the books I want to read.”

      2. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        My gf & I have a lot of friends who retired in the last 10 years, and I would always ask them how they were spending/planning to spend their time. My favourite answer was: “Doing all the things you don’t have time to get around to at the weekend when you have a job”. Living the dream!

    18. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Would I quit my current job? Definitely.

      Would I stop working? Heck no, but I might not take paid work. When I was between jobs, I was pro bono consultant and I really enjoyed that. Right now, I’m starting to join more volunteer groups, so I’d spend more of my time and energy doing there as well.

    19. ecnaseener*

      I’m definitely a person who needs some amount of structure/schedule and intellectual stimulation to be mentally healthy, so I wouldn’t quit my job immediately. I quite like my job. Maybe I would go half-time or something (I’m valued enough that I think they might go for it, at least for awhile) and spend some of the extra time and energy on theater… I haven’t had the energy even to try out for community theater since college. Eventually I’d get bored enough with that job to leave it I’m sure, but I’d still want a mentally stimulating job part time.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Yeah, I’m in a similar boat. My plan for my eventual retirement (or if I suddenly become fabulously wealthy) to gradually step down from (1) working full time to (2) working part time while starting a volunteer gig and perhaps picking up new hobbies to (3) not working at all, using the volunteer gig for structure, and spending the rest of my time on hobbies/friend and family/travel/etc.

    20. Turnipnator*

      Yes! I’d probably start a small market garden. I have been dream-prepping for this already, I have a vague timeline of what I’d need to get running (starting with some specific volunteering and education). I spend a lot of my free time gardening but also reading and watching videos about garden businesses.
      The only thing stopping me is that my career is lucrative but not enough that I have the savings to start a business venture or even to do the hands on learning required to be confident my farm business would succeed. Plus there’s the time limit of ‘my physical ability to do farm labor’. If business viability were not a concern I’d basically start immediately.

    21. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I’d go part time. I like what I do, I like the company I’m at, I like the people I work with. As for what to do with yourself, you’ll either figure it out or you won’t. You need to have something to retire to. Otherwise, you’ll be miserable.

    22. ENFP in Texas*

      Yes, I’d quit my current full time job as soon as I reasonably could without totally screwing over my coworkers.

      I wouldn’t quit working forever, though. I would find something that was part-time, volunteer, or seasonal, so I could travel.

    23. pally*

      For me, I’d like a chunk of time without work to pursue some projects-additional schooling. Maybe 6-12 months in total.

      After which, I would like to have a job part time or 3/4 time – in my field. I don’t want my brain to turn into silly-putty

      I might volunteer for a professional organization.
      But, yeah, as I ponder retirement, I’m wondering how I’ll spend my time.

    24. Meg*

      I was worried about this when my mom retired, because she was such a workaholic. BUT she really seamlessly slid into doing more of her hobbies, traveling extensively (they have an RV), volunteering (food bank and library), and exercising (Pilates and boot camp). Once you have the time, you find ways to fill it.

    25. Texan in exile on her phone*

      Unemployed/retired here.

      Mr T and I volunteer in local, state, and federal politics (we live in Wisconsin, where every election feels like life or death), doing doors and phone banking for our candidates. I have done the communications for local candidates, which is what I used to do for money.

      I register voters with the League of Women Voters and I volunteer as a poll worker. In 2020, I volunteered at my city elections commission, processing voter registrations and absentee ballot requests.

      We volunteer at the food bank. I just rolled off a three-year term on a city board.

      And we travel and goof off and do not get up to an alarm.

      We don’t eat at restaurants and one of our cars is 20 years old, but it’s fine with me.

    26. Ama*

      I think I would do exactly what I’m currently planning to do, which is quit my current job and work as a freelancer in the craft industry. The main difference would be I’d quit earlier (I’m planning on next summer, I’d probably quit end of this year) because I wouldn’t have to stress as much about getting my startup costs covered while I’m still working full time and building up savings.

      But I really enjoy my creative side gig and I think it would be even more enjoyable if I didn’t have to worry about how many clients I was booking — and it would help me make more connections within my chosen craft community.

      I’d also probably do more volunteer work in my city since I wouldn’t have to fill all my hours with paid work.

    27. Too Long Til Retirement*

      I would quit in a HEARTBEAT! I have been so burned out pretty much since I started employment out of college, and it’s been 12 years since then. I can count ONE TIME where I have felt perfectly relaxed in that time frame.

      What would I do instead? So many things!! I would create some sort of daily schedule that would consist of: wake up whenever my body wants to, play with/feed my cat, do a workout, eat breakfast, read coffee while journaling, read for a bit, work in the garden, do a chore of some kind, eat lunch, and then spend a couple hours in the afternoon on whatever hobby I want to do. Then I would make/eat dinner, and end my evenings with a walk, a movie, and more reading.

      If I eventually got bored and ran out of hobbies(HA!), I might freelance a bit with the skills I have. I might also get back to making YouTube videos because they are fun to make and I would feel like I was helping people. Volunteering would also happen, the reason I don’t now is lack of time.

      1. Too Long Til Retirement*

        I also didn’t even mention travel. I would do SO MUCH travel that I don’t do now, because I would take advantage of the cheapest times to fly and stay in hotels, i.e. Mon-Thursday in random places. There are a lot of ways to travel on a dime, but most of them involve traveling when I can’t currently take time off or when it feels like a waste of days off if I can’t also loop the vacation in with a weekend or holiday.

    28. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      It makes perfect sense! I struggle just with weekends because I find the structure of going to work so supportive.

      That being said, I would quit in a heartbeat and take classes. I want to learn everything and if I was financially comfortable then I’m paying to audit some classes at the local college. I’m signing up for every program coming and going at the library and the community center. I’m joining every book club at the bookstore and I’m going to every trivia night or board game night. I’m joining the table top gaming group at my friendly local games store.

      I think a lot of us (ie me) never learn how to build community for themselves because we spend so much time stuck in a pre-built one by necessity (school & jobs). I learned how to do this with online communities, but joining my local community has been much harder! If I had more time and money, though…

      Anyway, you’ll be fine. There are days you’ll be depressed and lonely and feel adrift, but I would honestly be shocked if you don’t have those now too. Be free, JustaTech! And if it doesn’t work for you, you can always give away your labor for free.

    29. Irish Teacher.*

      No, I wouldn’t, just ’cause I love my job. I would probably try to do a three or four day week but I wouldn’t quit completely.

      I think it makes perfect sense that some people would keep working for structure, human interaction and intellectual stimulation even when their financial needs are met. Look at some wealthy actors or singers. You have people still acting in their 70s and 80s and yeah, I know a lot of actors probably have to because not all are well-paid but I’m talking of those who have made millions and just love being on stage or a filmset.

      1. Too Long Til Retirement*

        The part about actors and singers is so true. But what isn’t talked about is how often they simply DON’T work. I was listening to Adam Grant’s WorkLife podcast a month or so ago, and he was interviewing Tom Hanks. Adam commented on how much work Tom does and wondered how he is “so prolific.” Tom said “Yes, I work hard. But then after I’m done I take 6 months off and do whatever I need to recharge.” That’s the part that is key: the freedom to take as much time off as you spend working.

        I think we would all still work even longer if we could set up our work lives NOW to be in balance with the rest of our non-work lives. It’s the grind of it all that makes it so we burn out and want to quit altogether.

    30. Joielle*

      I’d probably quit, but do some pro bono consulting in the same field. There’s a lot of good that could be done if someone from the inside could help people from the outside figure out the system. Unfortunately, the people who need that help can’t afford to pay for it, and nobody can afford to do any meaningful amount of it for free.

      And I’d travel more! I usually go abroad a few weeks per year, but I’d spend a few months away if I could.

    31. Cyndi*

      I like my job a lot but I would go down to working half time, at most. I would have MORE options to socialize with my schedule freed up. I could hang out with my dog more. I would…probably never catch up on my knitting WIPs or video games or podcast queue, but I would certainly be less backed up!

      I don’t know anything about your work or life situation so feel free to ignore this totally unsolicited advice: your comment implies that right now there’s nothing going on in your personal life that provides structure, human interaction, or intellectual stimulation. It might be a good idea to try out a hobby, or anything really that will let you find those things outside of your job?

    32. Beth*

      For what it’s worth, the happiest retired people I know still work! They just work mostly on a volunteer basis, for organizations they believe in and enjoy being part of, and they only commit to an amount of time that feels sustainable and balanced with the rest of their lives. It gives them a schedule to differentiate their days, social connections, and a sense that they’re contributing to the broader world; in return, their work is pretty crucial for some organizations that are chronically underfunded and under-resourced.

      Based on their example, I fully expect that I’ll be doing some kind of work until I’m too frail to reliably leave the house. I’m hopeful that I’ll someday be able to retire and focus on the kinds of work that are personally meaningful to me–plus, I’d love to hit a point where economic security and health insurance aren’t forcing me into a 40+ hour work week. But I don’t think retirement is supposed to be a total withdrawal from the world. People I know who have treated it that way mostly don’t seem very happy with it.

    33. Rusty McCornfed*

      I’m self-employed and truly love what I do, so I wouldn’t quit–but I would work at a much more measured pace, be far more selective about what projects I take on, and probably allow myself considerable break time between projects–weeks or even months, instead of days. In other words, I’d maximize all the best things about my job while minimizing the worst.

    34. Girasol*

      I was saving for retirement when I got the last straw at Toxic Job. I recalculated where I stood, decided it was enough, and retired. It took some getting used to: having my whole life to myself after being where I was supposed to be and doing what I was supposed to do since about kindergarten, minus a few too-short vacations. Now I volunteer a lot with an organization where I once volunteered a little, go places, get out for all the physical activity that I was always supposed to get but never had time for, meet with friends, try new crafts, and work on my writing. Where dust bunnies once roved in packs through the dining room, repair jobs were procrastinated, and the garden abounded in weeds, I’ve made a little home paradise. Life seems almost too busy now. But the best thing is that I sleep until I’m done sleeping (unless I volunteered for something early) and enjoy a quiet cup of coffee and a newspaper before deciding when I’m ready to get going on the day’s plans.

    35. EA*

      I would definitely keep working but probably not fulltime hours. I like my work, the intellectual challenge, and feeling like I’m contributing to society. I think I’d just have more room to make demands to guarantee a great lifestyle.

    36. The Dude Abides*

      When the Powerball or Mega Millions lotteries get big enough (no, we don’t do a pool), my department often makes the joke that if one of us hits, the direct boss will get a text with the double bird as a notice of resignation.

      To more directly answer the question – abso-freaking-lutely I would quit.

      I would probably alleviate some of the burden on Dudette’s mom, who is retired and during the day is the primary caretaker for our 4yo.

      Beyond that, I have a number of hobbies/interests that I have had to put on the back burner; I would probably set aside blocks of time every week towards those.

    37. Double A*

      I think I would work about 9 to 2, 4 days a week if I could find something that wanted me for those hours. So yeah, half time. That would keep enough structure to my week but allow me time to do everything else I wanted/needed

    38. Itsa Me, Mario*

      I would open a bookstore. It is my current retirement plan, but if I had unlimited money I would do it sooner, in a more ambitious way, and with less concern about profitability and business model.

    39. Mill Miker*

      I like my current job and I’m in the middle of some projects I definitely want to see through, so I’d only quit if I couldn’t get my hours severely reduced.

      I’d invest time in my hobbies and making things I want to make. Possibly open some kind of local foot-traffic-based business, if I can swing it.

    40. WantonSeedStitch*

      No way in hell. At least, not at this point in my life. I actually like my job. My career has led me to discover strengths in myself that I never knew I had, and putting those strengths to work is so, so satisfying. Could I find ways of putting them to work in a life without a job? Possibly. But I would have to do significant volunteer work with a nonprofit. I’d have to have something job-LIKE. Right now, if I quit my job, my days would be endless childcare and chores, and I would lose all sense of myself and sink into depression.

    41. Itty Bitty Petty Tyrant*

      I’d retire without a second thought, if for no other reason than to have stress-free time off. I’ve been at the same job working for a very, very small business going on 12 years now. While I (mostly) love the work, the professional growth, and the two other folks I work with, getting time off is impossible. I’ve only had one week off in the entire time, and it was a week that we all took off. Some years, I got a long weekend, but if I’m gone for more than two days, my phone/text/email goes bonkers with one looming disaster or another. That may sound ludicrous, and I admit that it’s mostly self-imposed, but that’s the joy of life in the itsy bitsy business world.

    42. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My husband and I had a discussion a while back when we bought tickets for a ridiculously high lottery jackpot and agreed that in the highly unlikely event that we somehow came into a gazillion dollars, we would
      1) Tell nobody, 100% nobody, except a lawyer, a financial advisor and an accountant, within the first year. No family or friends. (We would also claim through a trust set up by said lawyer rather than in our own names as our state does not allow anonymous lottery winners.)
      2) Not make any major life changes within the first year – no quitting jobs, buying extra cars, going on crazy around the world vacations. We would do some house maintenance and upgrades that were already on the list and pay off all our current debts, but nothing else major until a year had gone by and we knew that all the administrivia of taking in a great whomping sum of money had been addressed and, importantly, that we were at least mostly past the NEW AND CRAZY stage and could settle down and be fairly responsible with our newfound gazillions.

      After that, I would probably quit my job, but I would give a fairly extensive notice because I would be difficult to replace, not to toot my own horn. (I also love my job.) I would have been planning some really nice vacations during Year One, to be take in later years :) I would pay other people to do my cleaning, and possibly some of my cooking, and all of my yard work (and boy howdy the yard would be redone), and I would volunteer at a couple of different places, and maybe finally consider applying to one of the PhD in the History of Medicine programs I’ve been sighing wistfully over for ages.

    43. waffles*

      Absolutely I would quit my job. If I didn’t have to exchange my labor for money, here’s what I’d do: a lot of travel, probably take hourly or volunteer positions in things I really enjoy but are not historically easy jobs to make a living with (like seasonal park employment for example), I’d be way more engaged civically, I’d learn new hobbies or pick up old ones again (like the piano), learn new languages (and use them while I travel), and visit with my family and friends a lot (and also be available to help out if people need it – like after injuries or new babies or major celebrations). If I got bored, I try one of the probably 10-15 other career paths I’ve always been curious to try and could easily give a go if money were no object.

    44. JelloStapler*

      Yes I would, I would volunteer at various places and work in a dog day care instead. I love what I do but the industry and our particular organization is getting ridiculously toxic and stressful.

    45. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      I retired at 63 and the years since then have been the happiest of my life. I wish I could have retired at 25! (But I had to earn the pensions & savings for a comfortable retirement)

      I definitely don’t need work for the structure or social life. I have never had any problem filling my time with things I enjoy and I have always been happy in my own company – that’s probably key.
      So I walk 10km per day along the Rhine, go to the gym 6 days per week, try new courses, read hundreds of Kindle Unlimited books per year, binge watch Amazon Prime freevee and BBC.
      I just chill and it’s wonderful!

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        I am counting down the (12) years till I get to do this! Except the Yarra instead of the Rhine

    46. the bat in the office popcorn machine*

      I’d love to do temp work. I enjoy learning new things (bonus if it’s a temp job where I can work with my hands and they’re willing to teach the basic skills) and meeting new people — but I’d like to work when I want, not on a fixed schedule, and be able to leave when I want.

    47. Too Many Tabs Open*

      Totally makes sense. There’s other ways to find the human interaction and intellectual stimulation, but if you have trouble making structure for yourself, work is one way to get it.

      If I won the lottery and never had to worry about healthcare costs again, I might well quit my job, but I have plenty to fill my time. I have hobbies, both solitary and social; I have a volunteer gig that I could cheerfully spend more time on. Right now I don’t want to be stuck at home because I live in a small house with my family, but with a lottery win I could afford to move to a house better designed for private space, or to build a studio space in the back yard.

      I could also see myself staying at my job for a few years, though; I like what I do and find it satisfying.

    48. Busy Middle Manager*

      I would’ve said no a while ago, but lately? Sometimes it feels like time to give someone else a chance. Also financially it would make sense to move somewhere LCOL with savings rather than deal with good salary and HCOL.

      I’m also going to burn out due to the amount of change. Every week feels like cramming for the LSATs because there is too much change to manage. I won’t make it past 52/53 at this work pace. I miss the days of people being bored from the routine. Obviously industry dependent

    49. beep beep*

      Hell yes I’d quit my current job. Not forever, though. I’d definitely get bored. But I’d have time to get my life in order and finish my degree and figure out more what I actually want to do by trying more things instead of hang onto this well-paying job with white knuckles. I’m pretty young, but I’m pretty sure the structure and human interaction and intellectual stimulation are still essential.

    50. goddessoftransitory*

      In a hot second. I like my job okay, but I get more and more tired of the crap (YES, IT IS REALLY THAT LONG FOR DELIVERY ON A FRIDAY) and the thought of never, ever, ever having to talk to a customer again is sheer bliss sometimes.

      As for what I’d do? Honestly not a lot–read, watch movies and probably redecorate and such. I really don’t have any ambitions, at all.

    51. retired3*

      I did this at 60. I spent 20 years hiking, volunteering, and actually working part time. No regrets. I am now having mobility issues and am content. Work cannot give you what something like hiking gives you (including volunteering for a national park). Work cannot give you what volunteering gives you (stopping a massive destructive development in a rural area, meeting and coming to care for people you would not have known). And the part time work I fell into pays obscenely well (involves writing skills) and keeps my brain going. Work is such a small part of my life when I look back…I had some important jobs and did some good things, but the non work stuff has given me totally new satisfactory dimensions to my life and made “post-work” a new and interesting life.

    52. WorkingRachel*

      That makes sense to me! I hustled to retire early in my 20s and early 30s, and then transitioned to a “dream job” that paid way less. In that job, I had summers off and learned that I really don’t like having that much unstructured free time. I live alone, so didn’t have a spouse or kids to hang out with. And I’m in my early 40s, so most of my friends are working, busy with family, etc., so it’s not like I could hang out with them every day. Some of my regular activities “took a break” for the summer right when I most needed the structure. Volunteering was hit or miss, too–it was challenging to find regular volunteer gigs that felt “meaty,” and if I was relying on those for my social interaction for the day, it sucked when they got cancelled for one reason or another.

      Some of those summers I found big projects to fill my time (moving, getting divorced, big trips), and other summers I really struggled with my mental health. I wouldn’t want to go back to that. Now, though, I’m pregnant, and I think with a kid in the picture it would be a whole new ball game and I could easily be content without working.

    53. carcinization*

      My husband and I have a recent dream of opening up a bakery in a certain somewhat-remote town that we went to for a vacation awhile back. So I guess that’s the answer, I mean, we could have very limited hours for the bakery if the premise is that we’d have enough money otherwise to live comfortably, so that leaves a lot of time for reading and doing yoga and all of that.

    54. Nightengale*

      No but I would hire an assistant/second person so I wasn’t working 60 hours a week trying to keep up. (Work in health care in an underresourced field. I love my work but I would love to be doing a bit less of it.)

    55. allathian*

      I enjoy my job. I like being valued for my professional skills. That said, in my area taking a month off in summer and occasional days otherwise is the norm, and I’ve never been bored enough during my long vacation to be antsy to get back to work…

      But if we could afford it financially and I didn’t have to worry about retirement contributions to my future pension payouts, I’d definitely switch to a 4-day week (29 hours in my case).

    56. Wordybird*

      I would quit without a moment of hesitation and never look back.

      I would continue to volunteer with the 2 organizations I work with now + add a couple to the list. I would write a book or two. I would visit all 50 states and all 7 continents with my husband. I would take my kids on the African safari they’ve always wanted to do. I would become a foster/adoptive parent. I would become more involved in my church. I would travel to visit my close friends who live out of state. I would design the backyard of my dreams. I would plan out and fund renovations to my house. I would throw parties and plan outings with my friends. I would take all the lessons: singing, language, cooking. I would buy a house in the mountains on a lake and live there part-time.

      I can think of a hundred more things I’d like to do or try if I didn’t have to work full-time.

  27. Rusty McCornfed*

    I have been fortunate enough to be self-employed in a creative profession for most of my adult career–fifteen years now. However, the reality of any creative profession is that, for the majority of us, this can change at any time. At this point, I feel I’m still good to stay afloat for at least a couple of years yet, but some recent conversations and events have really struck home to me how much has changed in office work since I did it. If I ever DO have to return, honestly, I’d be kind of screwed. (I only learned what Slack is through this site; I still have no idea what that even looks like on a screen.)

    So I am curious: What has changed the most in office work over the past decade or so? What practices and technologies should I try to learn about? How would you advise someone who’s been out of the workforce for a while on, not the big-picture elements of a career, but the literal nitty-gritty of daily technological life?

    1. ferrina*

      Remote interactions are critical at my office. Being able to forge professional connections via IM, email and virtual meetings (no one uses phone calls). Also being able to learn or get up to speed virtually when you aren’t seeing people go about their regular work- knowing who to contact and what questions to ask.

      1. Sun on the side*

        These really are skills. I’m starting a remote job now. Do you have any advice on how to go about doing these things?

        1. ferrina*

          Set up lots of virtual coffee meetings. These are casual, but also work related. Some questions I ask:
          -I know your job title, but what is it that you spend your days doing?
          -How does your role interact with my role?
          -What’s one thing I can do to make your life easier, and what’s one thing I could do that would make you hate me forever? (for example, give you every report a day late, CC you on every email, etc.)
          -What’s the best way for us to communicate? caveat: I obviously can’t do this all the time, but I do try when I have the option (always add the caveat, because sometimes people give you answers that aren’t feasible)

          Keep your camera on for the first month. Yes, it’s exhausting, but it also helps people think of you as a person and not a disembodied voice. Smile easily- cameras don’t show our bodies so people can’t read how you’re feeling from your body language, so you need to show more through your face. The smile is really helpful.

          Ask questions! Caveat it if you need to, but be proactive in asking. One of my favorite caveats- “Sorry if you’re the wrong person for this- if you’re not the right person to answer, who would be a better person to go to?”

          Take advantage of remote social networks. If there’s a social channel in your company’s Slack (or Teams or whatever), post there! Reply to other people’s posts! It’s a great way for people to get to know you, and it can become it’s own community.

        2. Beth*

          Go out of your way to talk to people. Pay attention to the mediums your company uses–slack messages? video calls?–and try to fit into those norms, of course. But no matter what their system is, reach out to people regularly! Ask questions, ask if you can shadow someone as they do task X, ask how someone’s weekend was, ask whether the cat in their slack picture is their pet, etc. Some of that will be useful work stuff; others are just ways to connect to coworkers.

    2. WellRed*

      I haven’t left office work but we were acquired by a corporate entity and then had to switch from a Mac environment to PCs and Teams and all that nonsense. It’s all very interconnected (a bit creepy fir me) and frankly exhausting (thus may be partly a company thing). And so much paper has just gone away! I’m finally getting used to things like invites and online calendars but I don’t love it. (I’m 53, semi creative professional role).

    3. Angstrom*

      Remote work tools, such as Zoom or Teams. Being comfortable screen-sharing and working together online.
      Cloud-based sharing of documents and files, such as MS OneDrive.
      Wireless connections to screens in conference rooms. Instead of wasting time looking for the right video cable adapter, we now waste time figuring out how to log in to the correct display. :-)

    4. Beth*

      I’m in my first Slack-using role now (very late to the game!) and have found that it’s not hard to pick up. It reminds me a lot of Discord, which I’m at least a little familiar with–plus, there are plenty of Youtube videos and other online sources for how-to tips, and my coworkers have been very kind about sharing their favorite optimization strategies.

      I think a lot of the nitty-gritty daily stuff is similar. Yes, it means you’ll have a larger learning curve if you return to an in-office role, just because you’ll be trying to pick up the little things at the same time as you’re learning the broad strokes of that new role. But none of the little things are actually hard–they just add up. Take them one at a time, be in the mindset of “I can figure this out with a little google skill and a little advice”, and it’ll all fall into place.

    5. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      The shift from email to slack is definitely one! My whole world is slack now, I get like 5 emails a day and they are all calendar invitations. I also have WAY more meetings working in a regular job than I did in 20 years of being a self-employed creative, lots of zoom. (On my own, I did most of the work with maybe a couple of partners/collaborators, which necessarily made the projects more narrow in scope. In a regular agency environment, teams and scopes are much larger so there’s more to coordinate.)

    6. Midwest Manager*

      Getting yourself familiar and fluent in Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) and Google Suite (Docs, Sheets, Forms, etc.). If you’re not currently using email regularly for professional things, brush up on how to sound professional in email communications. Time management skills, as they relate to daily task management and meeting schedules.

      So much of our communication today is through email, instant messaging (Teams, Slack, etc.), and video calls. Get familiar with video conferencing software: MS Teams, Zoom, Skype. Understand how to do basic things like share windows (not full screen!), mute, turn camera on/off, and add/remove people in calls.

  28. Skills shortage*

    Ideas for self-teachable skills to improve one’s employability?

    I’m feeling very stuck in my current job. The company does things its own unique way; things are automated or use totally custom-built software or are the sole preserve of the owner. Upshot is I lack multiple skills you’d normally expect someone with my job title to have, and the skills I have acquired are VERY company-specific. And unlike my teammates I don’t have recent college experience or past jobs/careers to draw upon.

    Professional development is often promised but never delivered, so clearly I need to DIY. I’ve started with Excel but I’m stumped what to do next. The obvious choices are statistics (one of the should-have-but-don’t skills) or data analysis (semi-adjacent to what I do now). But I never liked or felt competent at math in school and everyone and their grandmother is on the data bandwagon already.

    Any suggestions? No particular direction in mind so feel free to throw out any & all things I could learn and practise with the internet and/or books. (Kinda hoping if I dabble in enough random stuff I’ll find something I really enjoy. Or at least cure my boredom.)

    1. Alex*

      I’d start browsing job listings at places you’d like to work and see what jobs appeal to you. Look at job descriptions and see if you find yourself thinking, “Yeah, I think I could see myself doing that.” Then look at the skills required and see where you are lacking (or not! You might be surprised.)

      Practicing skills without a goal may leave you feeling at loose ends and without purpose. It’s hard to learn most things without a project or vision of how you’d use it in the real world–at least, it is for me.

    2. 867-5309*

      Can you tell us any more about what interests you?

      Short of that –

      Coursea is about $50 per month and gives you access to hundreds of courses for a variety of different universities. That would be a great starting point if you have the budget.

      Another place is look is the continuous learning division of ivy league and similar schools. They often offer free online classes. I often check out the listing from Harvard Professional and Lifelong Learning.

      Marketing-specific, which is my field, Google and HubSpot certifications (all free), Sales and HubSpot CRM certifications, organic search classes through SEMrush and similar tools, Optimizely and other CMS certifications (which is great for marketing and website development). General business, you are on the right track with Excel. I include Excel and PPT training in required onboarding for my new team members, even if they have worked with them before, because there is SO MUCH you can do that people don’t realize. Check out training for both Google and Microsofts suite of serves just so you understand both. Some of these will be expected (e.g., that you know you to use Word, if another company has Microsoft or Slack if they use that) so not resume-building but def confidence building if those tools are not familiar to you.

      Good luck!

    3. Napoleon's Skills*

      1) Check with your local library. They may have a free subscription to Linked In Learning (aka Lynda). Poke around and see what appeals.

      You never know where stuff can lead. Years ago, the instruction manuals at my job were terrible. I poked around and discovered this thing called Simplified Technical English. I used that to rewrite the manuals to great success. A little later, I saw a tech writer position that listed STE as a job requirement. Hello, new job.

    4. Alternative Person*

      Have you tried futurelearn?

      It’s a website with lots of free courses than can serve as good introductions for a wide range of topics that lean towards self-study. There’s a premium option available, though I’ve never paid for it. I’ve found it a bit iffy in places, but the knowledge is solid enough and comes from what seem to be reputable sources.

  29. Aggretsuko*

    Did anyone see the bottom of this NYT article?

    A noncitizen woman of color is getting sexually harassed but is afraid to report it to HR because she’s highly likely to get harmed if she does so. Roxane Gay advises the white woman manager to report it to HR anonymously. Honestly, I don’t know if this is a good idea or not. I agree that the guy is NOT GOING TO STOP, but if the woman is going to get harassed/possibly lose her job/lose her ability to live in the country, an “anonymous” report to HR probably means she’s still found out that she’s the victim here :( I would be PISSED if my manager reported it for me if I could still be found out and harmed. What do others think?

    1. Alex*

      I think this is tricky. On the one hand, it would be absolutely wrong to jeapordize someone’s livelihood without their consent. On the other hand, this woman isn’t the only one being harassed and I think a manager has a duty to try to stop workplace harassment and protect current and future employees.

      In the manager’s position, I would do anything I could to get the consent of other victims who may not be in as precarious a position, and work on getting this guy removed without bringing this one person into the mix.

    2. ferrina*

      I didn’t read the article, but I think a manager is obligated to report sexual harassment. Some workplaces (including mine) require a manager to report any harrassment they are made aware of. Because it’s not just about this woman- it’s also about women that will be harassed by this guy in the future, and coworkers who know what is happening and are losing trust in the company, and even future perpetrators that see this guy getting away with it and think “well, everyone is okay with what he’s doing, so I can do it too”. I would give the woman a head’s up that I was reporting it so she wasn’t blindsided, then I’d call it in. I’d also take steps to support this person against harassment or retaliation- physical things like walking with them, checking in on them, or setting up ‘meetings’ so they could be in a work space with another person, but also provide resources like where they can find an employment lawyer, if there are pro bono immigration lawyers in the area, etc. Talk them through some options and let them know what ways you can support them (reaching out to lawyers? doing research and giving them some names they can reach out to?)

      1. Ama*

        Yup, mine is like that too — our current training even involves a situation where an employee confides that she’s being harrassed by a coworker but says she doesn’t want us to tell anyone, and the “correct” answer is to report it even though the training module shows the employee being upset that we did so.

        1. Cyndi*

          Those make me so angry, and basically any of the mandatory trainings about reporting misconduct, because they always go “you’ll be safe from retaliation because retaliation isn’t allowed :) ” like that solves it. Neither is harassment! Neither is fraud! Why should anyone believe that a colleague who’s already behaving unethically is going to miraculously draw the line at retaliating against whoever they think reported them?

          Also the last one I had to do regurgitated a lot of the inaccurate “bystander effect” crap about Kitty Genovese and I found it extremely upsetting.

          1. ScruffyInternHerder*

            Had an instance where I opted not to report someone for blatant misconduct because the reporting mechanism had no way to anonymize myself. It was in youth sports, and the person who I was reporting had verbally abused a young referee post-game. The person I was reporting was a team manager. He was suspended by our club after a hearing as the incident was in public, but what could he have done to my kid (answer: fair amount as youth sports is very politics driven) if I couldn’t do higher level reporting anonymously? That was my question to the sanctioning body.

            There were a very limited number of persons with access to his national sportsball registration information, which was required, in case you’re wondering how they’d have known whodunit. I’d have been on a very short list of people who could have reported him.

    3. WellRed*

      If a manager knows that someone is a serial harasser they kind of have a duty to report it which it sounds like the OP did. I always wonder why people bring up issues like this if they neither want to take action (understandable in this case) or have anyone else take action.

    4. the bat in the office popcorn machine*

      I agree with you — you don’t act on behalf of someone for their own good. You talk with them about their options. This woman has every reason to think she has to tolerate this…I agree this sets the guy up to harass other women, but her real life is effected by this hypothetical future harassment, too. The boss needs to take steps to talk to HR about 1) the procedure for reporting sexual harassment — because often it leads to the victim needing to reveal themselves (I roll my eyes, but it’s the reality in some offices), 2) what goes into an investigation? what testimony is needed?, and 3) find legal resources.

      The undocumented woman has nothing to gain from reporting and everything to lose. This advice is so reckless without the proper legwork. Can the manager not intervene with a threat to go to HR? Talk to the harasser’s manager? What steps can be done to protect this woman, show this behavior won’t be tolerated, and that he’s on watch? If he’s a creep in this office, getting fired will only get him to be a creep in another. And no offense, companies do a shoddy job with sexual harassment claims. A slap on the wrist and a course on workplace etiquette if there isn’t more than he said-she said. If protection is the angle being used to support this, then be very sure that’s what will happen. She could lose her job and that harasser might be there to stay anyway.

    5. Busy Middle Manager*

      I feel this article is more about the general idea than logistics. A small company will know you’re here illegally. A large company is going to have the complaint fragmented from things like you’re benefits signup paperwork and application, and won’t notice if you’re immigration status is wrong.

      I don’t get the situation where a complaint will make someone say “let me see if they have a green card.” This is just not how management or ADP or HR works IME

  30. Humpty Dumpty*

    Can I just share how much I hate it when recruiters approach you and ask for your expected salary before they have even told you what job vacancy they have or the company where they have the vacancy?


    My standard reply is: I would love to hear more about the role and would be eager to hear what salary range DOE the company has budgeted for it.

    That usually works but anyone else as frustrated by this as I am?

    1. ferrina*

      Yep. Especially because I fully expect that my salary will vary based on the responsibilities that I am asked to do. That is how salaries work- you set them based on what the job responsibilities and requirements are.

    2. Past Lurker*

      I’m still annoyed about the time a company recruiter informed me during our first interaction that candidates *have* to provide an expected salary. That company simply doesn’t provide salary information, and won’t allow you to continue if you don’t give them your range. If your range doesn’t match theirs, they’ll tell you and “you can decide if it’s worth continuing” the process. Basically, you have to magically know their range without knowing any of the job specifics! There were several other red flags, but this just blew my mind.

  31. Always Bring Pickles to a Potluck*

    My husband and I both work for the same Fortune 100 company in different departments. We have both been banned from saying anything negative about the company to anyone inside or outside the company. Him for complaining to coworkers about the sale of his department to another firm; me for telling coworkers that I was working while puking in the trash can at my desk because I was on a formal warning for absences and if I left, even though I was actively vomiting, I would be fired. Also that if I got COVID I would have no choice but to come into work because I would be fired if I didn’t.

    Am I correct that both of our managers are violating the NLRA? Both of our managers are smart enough to only do this in verbal conversations so we have no concrete evidence. I’ve actually approached an attorney about this and was told that even with hard evidence the company was too big and likely nothing would happen.

    I’m not asking for legal advice; I know this isn’t the appropriate place. But does anyone have any personal experience with pushing back on a company about this kind of thing?

    We aren’t in a union. We work in mortgage banking and to my knowledge this is a pretty un-unionized profession.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Not legal advice, but from my HR perspective I’m coming down on mmmm maybe. It’s a gray area. You’re allowed to discuss your working conditions. But I would definitely not frame them as “complaining”. Typically to be protected as a concerted activity, the communication has to exist “for a group’s mutual aid or benefit”. So it can’t just be about you (and probably can’t be about you and your husband since you work separately and a spousal unit can be legally indistinct from an individual). Now if you framed it as “I’ve been told I have to come in no matter what and am concerned if I got COVID I’d be forced to come in and expose the rest of you, that’s more defensible. It sounds like a distinction without a difference, but legal rulings are full of those.

      So a lawyer is smart, and I’d be careful not to describe these things as complaining about your individual circumstances as much as possible.

      1. Always Bring Pickles to a Potluck*

        But not being allowed to say anything negative isn’t a violation? I realize what we originally said May not be violations but surely it’s a violation to say no negative comments whatsoever?

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          These policies have gone to court before and both won and lost depending on how they’re worded and implemented. It’s just not as straightforward as it seems like it should be.

          1. Cj*

            but this isn’t a policy. they were only told this verbally, so there isn’t any “wording” for a judge to make a ruling on.

            I am most definitely not a lawyer, and I know that this doesn’t totally fit the definition of an NDA, but would they have to be compensated in order for it to be enforceable, since it’s not an actual policy?

            what was said to the coworkers about being fired if they went home sick even though they were puking in the wastebasket, or would have to come to work with covid or they would be fired, would obviously make the company sound terrible. so being forbidden to say anything about the disciplinary action for attendance seems really bizarre. they received a formal warning because of attendance issues, and if coworkers knew about this, most would realize that being fired would be the normal action for a company to take in this situation. I would be really curious to know if the OP just had a run of bad luck and has been sick a lot, or if there were unjustified reasons for their poor attendance.

            I wish the spouse’s situation was explained better, also. their problems started when they were complaining to coworkers that their department had been sold to another firm. Has the sale not been closed yet? did they transfer to a different department still owned by the original company? in other words, how and why are they still with that company if their department was sold to another firm? if they are now employed by that other firm, I don’t see how the original company would have any say over what they can or can’t do unless they signed an agreement.

            1. Always Bring Pickles to a Potluck*

              My absences were mostly because my son was sick and I had to stay home with him. (Other teams are allowed to work from home when this happens, but we aren’t, even though we’re hybrid.)

              My husband’s team has been sold but it won’t close for another couple months.

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Big picture, there’s one of two things happening here. Either the company is terrible and acting unreasonably, or you are way out of line and the company is acting reasonably. Because I can see a terrible company trying to do image control to extreme lengths, or I can see an employee who really needs to fundamentally change their behavior and outlook. I don’t know which scenario applies, but regardless it sounds like you’re not happy with this company so look for a different job. It can’t hurt to look.

      And come up with some appropriate non-complainey reasons to be looking for a new job.

    3. ferrina*

      This is not a negative statement:
      “I was on a formal warning for absences and if I left, even though I was actively vomiting, I would be fired”

      It is a statement of fact. If the company finds that the facts are negative, that is the perception that the company is giving it, not necessarily the individual speaker. They are putting a subjective spin on an objective statement.
      Say this in a chipper, peppy “But I don’t understaaaaaand” kind of voice. Channel the most obnoxious busybody relative or neighbor you have that always “doesn’t understaaaaaaand” why what they did stomped boundaries because they were “just trying to help”. No one likes that person, and I’ve had more than one senior-level bully walk away from me rather than try to engage further.

      But seriously, this place sounds toxic. My vote is for you and your spouse to start working on an exit plan. Doesn’t need to be immediate, but don’t put up with this indefinitely.

      1. Lainey L. L-C*

        I thought that too – coworker sees OP actively vomiting and asks, “Why are you still here?” and OP says “I am on a formal warning for absences and if I left, even though I am puking, I would be fired.” – that is a statement of fact. I don’t know what to say if the facts are negative…maybe ask them? Seriously, if manager yells at you for being negative, ask them how you would like them to word it then to avoid sounding negative when those are the facts.

        1. Always Bring Pickles to a Potluck*

          I was told I wasn’t allowed to mention my disciplinary record to other employees.

          1. Lainey L. L-C*

            OK, how do they want you to word it if someone asks why you are still there when you are visibly sick? (The puking). The fact still remains that you can’t leave even if you are visibly sick or will be fired. I guess if asked, “I am unable to leave even though I am sick” is factual and not mentioning disciplinary records.

            1. HalJordan*

              “I’m sorry, that’s a question for [Manager]”, said with an apologetic smile if you can, solves the problem nicely. You’re not saying anything negative or even anything at all, and your manager then has to deal with other employees asking them why Pickles is an active biohazard (sorry).

            2. Cj*

              that’s the bizarre part. mentioning their disciplinary record isn’t disparaging the company, it’s disparaging themselves. and most coworkers wwould understand that if you received a formal warning for attendance, missing work again, especially if it’s soon after the warrning, will probably result in you being fired.

              unless, of course, the warning about attendance was bogus in the first place. it seems like the OP would have mentioned it if that was the case, though.

          2. GythaOgden*

            Probably for the best tbh. They don’t need to know and they’re not really able to hear the other side of the story so you may be coming across really badly. I know my team got broken up over the summer, because my previous supervisor was being directly obstructive to my personal development needs because she doesn’t like the new management. When I was off sick there was an incident that involved a disciplinary warning and it was because they wouldn’t communicate with the people above them. They spend half the time complaining everything and while some of it is justified, it just drags everything down with them at a stage of my career when I’m trying to get on with the rest of my life. Every time I try to do something to improve systems, contact others proactively etc etc, they ask ‘why would you want to do that?’, even when it’s something that could be solved if they just sent someone a quick message on teams.

            Having a coworker who is upset all the time or maybe not pulling their weight as they ought to — for whatever reason, even some pretty valid ones — can be demoralising. Maybe they could be more understanding, certainly about illness, and with the two people on my team I get on well with them when they’re not complaining about stuff. I love them and would defend them on any major situation, but at the same time constantly hearing negative stuff can be really frustrating for other people and you probably need to get this straightened out with TPTB before loading your issues onto your colleagues.

    4. Rosyglasses*

      The latest ruling from the NLRB is pretty limiting in what employers can do or not do:

      Under Section 7 of the NLRA, employees have “the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.” Section 8(a)(1) of the NLRA makes it an unfair labor practice “to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees” in their exercise of rights protected under section 7.

      Board held that the non-disparagement clause barred activity that was protected under the NLRA and was therefore facially unlawful. The agreement’s non-disparagement clause was broad in scope. Under the clause, an employee could not make any statements that which could “disparage or harm the image of [the] employer.” It was not limited to matters related to employment, contained no time limit, and extended the non-disparagement protection to entities related to the hospital. The clause would conceivably include the existence of organizing and discussing unfair labor practices with other employees.

      IANAL, but the way I have understood the rulings in the past is that if you were verbally told, and if you then were fired or had a retaliatory action taken against you because you were “talking negatively” about the company, you could likely sue that you were being retaliated against for protected activities.

      1. Rosyglasses*

        Also – the NLRB doesn’t just protect unions – the whole point is to protect speech and actions of employees that are trying to exercise their rights with other employees, because they might want to unionize.

  32. I Love Hawks*

    I’ve been job searching for several months for a middle management-type position in higher ed IT. I found a job at a university that is fully remote, and the pay range was listed as like 130k-180k/year, depending on qualifications AND location. I am in a different state than the university (I’m in TX, the university is in CA). When I submitted my app, there was a required question for salary, and I probably should have put in “zero” or “n/a” but I put in 150-160k, because I feel that is fair for the role.

    So the hiring manager emailed me for an interview (yay!) but said the range for my location in TX would be 130-140k (not yay). He asked if I was still interested. I responded that it was “doable” and I was still interested in discussing the position. Did I shoot myself in the foot with this response? While that range would be a very slight pay bump (provided they gave me the top end), I would still consider the job if the benefits were good and the job sounds like a good fit – I am looking for fully remote positions, and it’s at a prestigious university so it would be good for my resume. But I’m not thrilled about the salary and I don’t like the whole “it’s based on your location” thing. While I’m in TX, I’m in one of the most expensive parts of TX, and it just doesn’t feel fair to base a salary on location rather than the actual value of the role.

    Any thoughts/guidance are appreciated.

    1. Justin*

      It’s fair for you to have that standard but that practice is fairly normal. My company pays well and then gives a slight bump for Bay Area and NYC

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I have one thought on framing.

      Your last line is “it just doesn’t feel fair to base a salary on location rather than the actual value of the role”

      But they are probably actually making this decision on a 3rd criterion: supply & demand. They’re setting those rates based on how much it takes to get a good candidate from whatever region. Now maybe they should be more reasonable about the diversity of COL in a given state, especially one as big as Texas. But overall their logic is “If we offer $X to people in California, and $X – 10% to people in Texas, we get people with the same level of qualifications and experience”, and it’s hard to fault that from a strict bang-for-the-buck calculation.

      1. Polly Hedron*

        “If we offer $X to people in California, and $X – 10% to people in Texas, we get people with the same level of qualifications and experience”

        Then why not offer $X – 9% across the board and hire the best people regardless of location?

    3. Magpie*

      I work for a Fortune 200 company with offices across the country. Most positions involve some in office work but IT went completely remote during the pandemic and has stayed that way so we can hire people from anywhere. However, they limit remote IT positions to low COL areas as a money saving endeavor. They can find highly qualified people all over the country, so they figure they can hire two senior level engineers in Des Moines for the cost of one similarly qualified engineer in Seattle. It’s a fact of life that location dictates acceptable salary so they wouldn’t be able to find a highly qualified engineer in Seattle by paying a Des Moines salary, but if they pay Seattle salaries to all their Des Moines engineers they can’t afford to have as many people working for them.

      1. I Love Hawks*

        Thank you, that makes sense. Does that mean if one of your staff moves from Des Moines to Seattle they would get a pay adjustment for the higher COL? That’s another consideration for me….my family and I want to move to Washington State at some point in the next five years, and where we end up might have a much higher COL. Is it reasonable to expect an adjustment if a remote employee went to a higher COL environment?

        1. Magpie*

          Some companies might do a salary adjustment. Ours does not. They figure you were hired to work in a lower COL area and accepted your salary on those terms. If you’re making the choice to move somewhere more expensive, that’s a personal decision you’re making and there’s no benefit to the company to have you in that location vs. your previous one so there’s no reason to pay a higher salary for that. People who are transferring to another city for a position that requires in office work would get a salary adjustment since the company understands they need that person to be living in that location in order to do that specific job effectively so they need to pay accordingly.

      2. GythaOgden*

        Also if they pay Seattle salaries to Des Moines employees, the Des Moines economy gets warped by that excess money and things like gentrification and so on start happening. We’re already seeing some of that happen with LCOL areas and the 70-80% of the workforce who can’t work remotely get screwed when the 20-30% who can start using their HCOL salaries to buy property in LCOL without additional investment in the LCOL areas to bring everyone up to the same level.

        It’s a bigger version of what happens when rich people start buying second homes in beauty spots which then starts to price out poorer locals. The transplants tend not to be that supportive of rural economies either (or IME cognisant of what country life is actually like rather than what their romanticised view told them before they moved in) therefore sucking the life out of places. The problem is endemic to rural and seaside areas in the UK and it needs interventions to rebalance the economies.

        If this isn’t done at a sustainable pace with additional actual investment from businesses into LCOL. areas, it has a really bad effect on everyone else. Money is a tool and while we all want more of it, it is generated in specific ways and too much of it in an economy is not actually a good thing if it only feeds inflation or gentrification and doesn’t actively improve local economies as well.

    4. MigraineMonth*

      I worked for a company that had offices in different parts of the country and based the pay rate on what was competitive locally. The Bay Area office paid about 30% more than my Midwest office, but the COL difference was so much greater that moving to the Bay Area would have been an effective pay cut for me.

      So do your research before deciding it’s a rip-off! You said you live in a very high COL city in Texas; you might be able to use that information to negotiate a higher salary than other Texas employees.

      1. HighIsRelative*

        Be careful,though. People who don’t live in SF, Boston, or NYC (consistently the three most expensive places to life in the US in some order) have no idea just how much more expensive they are. And there are “very high for the region” cost of living places that would be considered low cost of living places in other parts of the country. So you can try a “the cost of living here is much higher than the Texas average” but be prepared to get pushback if you’re talking to someone living in a place that’s still a lot higher (I don’t know if that would be the case or not).

        1. carcinization*

          Weird, for me, Boston is showing up as the 12th or so most expensive place to live in the U.S. based on several searches, though most of the other places in the top 20 are in CA. Austin, TX is around #25 on the lists, btw.

    1. Not happy for a shutdown*

      Prepared but anxious.

      Have a to-do list for work in case government is open on Monday and a to-do list for home in case it’s not.

    2. AnonFed*

      We keep working. I’m honestly so annoyed. All those people who cheerlead don’t understand how many people would be seriously harmed if we actually shut down.

      1. GythaOgden*

        I can’t do very much to reassure you and I’m in the UK, but one public servant to another, I’m sending you all the solidarity in the world along with lots of hope that it can be averted.

  33. Rodstar*

    I’m in a little conundrum today with one of my client…
    For the sake of being quick, I’m a website developper. The way we function is that we have “contact points” with clients, who then open tickets and work with us and more or less translate the needs of their team in actuel actionnable actions we need to take for their website. This particular client is a somewhat smaller business than what we usually handle and are with us because of a long-standing history. We only have one contact with them, their “head of web”, which I’ll call Jane. This person has an abrasive perosnnality and it took time to build trust between her and us but we’re somewhat happy to be where we are now.
    Now, that business is downsizing, and our contact point will most likely be let go in some months and they know that. The next contact would be the head of marketing, which is ALSO being let go (how an e-commerce website would work without marketing nor website handler is beyond me but I digress) It has been decided that a somewhat lengthy takeover of Jane’s duties will be done by Fergus, the head of accounting. Jane is in a full blown battle with her employer and is causing quite a bit of trouble by not wanting to pass over informations, contacts and the like. (We had to open a second ticketing hub for her project so that “her” tickets can’t be seen by Fergus) She’s also more privately warned us about Fergus and his less than stellar personnality and work achievements.
    The problem is that… she’s right. We had two very brief contacts with Fergus and doing the job of Jane is clearly not a part of his skillset, despite him being certain that “it’s not that hard”. He was even more confrontational than Jane at the start and all but called us liars and crooks to our face. In a fifteen minutes call with the only item being to introduce ourselves. They also started to give us contradicting orders, each trying to ascertain their “dominance” over the project, I guess.
    I’m not in a position to be able to limit my interactions with either or them or to delegate contact to my managers, but I’m also pressed by them to do “the utmost to not have any burned bridges on out hands”. I’d like to know if some of y’all have any advice about this kind of situation, what to do when the client is explosive ?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Sounds more like the client is implosive, and you should just count on them not being in business within a year. I think the burning the bridges concern is moot.

    2. MigraineMonth*

      Why does your company have such a commitment to not burning bridges with what sounds like a failing client? Your boss needs to realize the amount of wasted time/effort this client is costing and be comfortable with the idea of losing (or firing!) this client, which may be on its way to dissolving anyway.

      I think you need to get approval from Jane and Fergus’ boss for every request or–even better–insist that both Jane and Fergus sign off on any changes. That should guarantee you don’t have to make any changes at all!

      In the meantime, you’re a captive audience for the Feuding Webmaster show between Jane and Fergus, so you might as well make popcorn and collect anecdotes for your stand-up routine.

    3. Turnipnator*

      Oof, I’ve been a software developer at an agency in situations where the client relationship is falling apart, it’s really no fun. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this, and it sounds like your managers don’t have your back. It does also sound like you mostly will need to hang on until the client dissolves.

      The next step is basically full CYA mode. Here’s what I would do; YMMV:
      1) If at all possible, get a regular check in about this client with one of your bosses. Ask at least three times if they don’t agree immediately. The last thing you need is for them to ask why you didn’t escalate issues. You will have things to escalate – plan to have a regular cadence to talk about them in advance. If they won’t get on board, email them updates on a regular cadence.
      2) If you’re solely in charge of client meetings and communication do your utmost to both keep the clients on task and limit the time they take. Have a hard stop, build in time to take notes about every meeting, and don’t lose sight of the things you need to do your job (even if you need to follow up for those things after the meeting is over). Even if you’re not their only contact but have clear boundaries for the amount of your time you let them take up while still being available to them. If you can, decide on your boundaries and be upfront about what they are before they start pushing on them. Try to spin it as you carving out explicit time for them from your busy schedule so that you can be consistently responsive. If you don’t have these already, explicit time-to-respond agreements can help a lot.
      3) Don’t rely on your client for requirements. It’s a bit hard to parse from your description of the process, but it sounds like in the past they submitted tickets and you acted on them. I would adjust the process on your side to be something like: listen to their needs with as much empathy as you can (either in meetings or by reading their tickets), turn those needs into items that are actionable by you and present those actionable requirements to them for explicit approval with as much layperson-translation as necessary (but let them see the tech jargon also). A request for prioritization with an approval request can go a long way to keeping them feeling in charge if you have multiple items. With approval, create appropriate tickets to act on and link their requests and your communication about them in those tickets. Approval in writing is best; follow up with an email if you get verbal approval. The gist though is that you take more of an active role here, and diligently document the process. OVERdocument the process.
      4) Hold firm when you need clarification from the (this is where a pre-defined escalation path to your bosses will probably help the most). Remember that if you need to ask for clarification it does not reflect badly on you, and be persistent until you understand them. You do not need to read their minds. I’ve found this to be the hardest part. You need to have as much humility as you can but you do not need to let them question your expertise, even if you have to ask for clarification multiple times before you understand. It is far worse to proceed on a misunderstanding than to take the time to get on the same page.
      5) Last but not least – be persistent when asking for help. I have a personal adage “ask three times”. Asking for help can be really hard, and if you don’t get the help you need immediately don’t give up, but ask again. You might not have the same difficulties I do here, but I’ve found making an explicit commitment to myself to be a squeaky wheel if I’m blocked helps me a lot.

      Good luck! I hope this client can sort themselves out or get out of your hair as quickly as possible :)

      1. Turnipnator*

        I’m gonna TL:DR my own post:
        1) Get an escalation path or protocol in place in advance with your bosses.
        2) Put boundaries in place around client communication and communicate those boundaries before the client even tries to cross them.
        3) Don’t expect clear requirements from them, but translate their needs into requirements and reflect their needs (and your requirement translation) back to them for explicit (written) approval and prioritization. Document this process extensively.
        4) Be positive you completely understand them before proceeding with implementation and remember that needing clarification does not reflect badly on you.
        5) Be a squeaky wheel when you need help.

    4. Rodstar*

      Thanks you very much for your replies !

      We need more or less to keep this client (until the business goes down) just to keep my boss happy, the founder (now deceased) of the client was a longtime friend, so uh…

      But yup, we’re in CYA mode since we know about the layoffs on their side. I will defintely enforce hard stop for time in meetings and deadlines, but we don’t have that much contact with Jane and Fergus’ bosses (they don’t know much about the way the site is run, and trust their team to handle it) so it will be difficult to keep accountability.

      I’m out of a meeting with my colleagues about the state of the project and the last point was particularly well received : we asked some more senior managers in our end to check on the project “to support them during the transition”. Time will tell how it goes, but yeah, I don’t see their business getting back in the green anytime soon so hopefully I will be free of them next year or so.

      Once again thank you for your time and have a great week-end !

      1. Cj*

        do Jane and Fergus’s bosses know about Jane not passing over information and contacts, having tickets that Fergus can’t see, and them giving you contradictory instructions?

        the bosses don’t need to know or understand how the site is run in order to understand that this is a disaster waiting to happen. you say that they trust their team to handle it, but even if they could trust them in the past, they certainly can’t now, and that should be obvious if they know about these issues.

  34. Lost: My Motivation*

    More of a vent, but I ended counselling over my crap job, and I’m forgetting the positive lessons I learnt. I know that’s its okay to be stuck in a boring job, I know that most people are unfulfilled like me. I get good pay, flexibility and benefits that I would struggle to turn my back on. But my god I don’t know how I can do this for another 35 years. Even 25 years (and retiring at 55 broke AF but still with glee) seems like an impossible target after a shitty week.

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      I think the most effective thing with a job like that is to focus on creating things outside of work that you look forward to. Not only does it give you things to look forward too it gives you mentally someplace to go.

      I hope too that you are still continuing looking for another job. Lots of jobs pay well and have flexibility and benefits. I know its exhausting to be constantly job hunting – so job-hunting light is an option. It means you’re not putting insane efforts into looking/applying – more like signing up for weekly emails from job sites that fit your skills and scanning that once a week or deleting it if you’re not in the mood.

    2. RagingADHD*

      You probably won’t wind up doing the same job for 35 years. There are always new opportunities out there that could be a good fit for you in the future.

      Human beings need goals to look forward to and work toward. You can always work toward something you’d rather be doing, and whether or not you actually make the jump next year or in 3-5 years or whatever, the process of planning and learning benefits you as a person.

    3. saskia*

      You need to continue reinforcing the positive lessons and changes you learned in counselling. These are not self-reinforcing; you need to do personal maintenance and work towards your own goals. It’s concerning that you say you’re unfulfilled. I mean, it’s fine to be dissatisfied with where you currently are, but your job shouldn’t be the totality of your life. Consider what you’re doing outside it and how you can utilize your good pay and flexibility to help you live the life you want.

    4. Hlao-roo*

      But my god I don’t know how I can do this for another 35 years.

      You (most likely) don’t have too! Like Fluffy Fish says, job hunting is an option. It’s worth doing some reflection before you start sending out applications though. Good questions to reflect on are:

      – Are there specific things about this job that you find boring and demotivating? Or is it the general concept of work? (I’m thinking of the “I hate work, all of it, with a passion” letter from 2015)

      – If there are specific things about this job, write them down so you have a handy reference when you’re perusing job ads and can hopefully avoid jobs with similar pitfalls.

      – If there are specific things about this job, brainstorm what motivating things you want in your next job. Write these down too, to reference when reading job ads.

      – If it’s all work, in general that you can’t stomach, I recommend looking into the FIRE (financially independent, retire early) movement. Mr. Money Mustache and Our Next Life are good starting points. I recommend starting at/near the beginning of both blogs, so you can see what choices they made while they were still working to financially prepare themselves for retirement.

  35. Panicked*

    Anyone have any cheap/free employee engagement ideas? I’m doing an event in a few weeks for my small organization, but the budget is low and being spent on a waffle bar and non-alcoholic drink bar. I can’t give out any WFH or PTO, unfortunately.

    1. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Let’s get our employees to be super engaged, but let’s not invest anything in them in return!
      I know it’s not you who sets the budget, so this isn’t directed at you, but at upper management who does set budget. No wonder you’re panicked.
      Honestly, companies need to realize that if they want engaged employees, it takes RECIPROCITY. You cannot demand engagement from employees if you don’t invest in them! And better pay, adequate staffing, affordable health insurance, flexibility with WFM and PTO are the ways to do that. Not “town hall” meetings where you don’t take any questions and have a drawing for candy bars at the end (where 5 people in a room of 75 win one….) etc.

      1. The Dude Abides*

        Keep in mind that in some industries (like gov’t), the budget is what upper management is willing/able to spend from their own pocket.

    2. Ashley*

      Not sure what your goal for engagement is, but this time of year a pumpkin carving contest can be fun for team building.

      1. Watry*

        Or a pumpkin painting contest! If it absolutely must be free, someone might be willing to donate their kid’s old paints/brushes, at least.

    3. Ama*

      What is your engagement metric? A waffle bar would be enough to get 95% of the people in my office to show up, if just participating was the only metric. If that doesn’t work at your office you may have some morale issue that are more serious than a waffle bar will solve.

      If you do want to have some kind of activity along with the snacks, I would make sure everyone knows it is completely optional. My office once planned a scavenger hunt (running around in teams out in the city, shutting down the office for the afternoon) for team building and a couple of us were planning to call in sick that day because we hated the idea so much. Thankfully a major heat wave hit the day the hunt was planned so they just gave us the Friday afternoon off, which was much more appreciated! (And I think that feedback got back to senior management because they never attempted a scavenger hunt again and became more likely to give us extra time off when they wanted to show appreciation.)

    4. Elsewise*

      See if you can get a group volunteer event going! Gets people out of the office and doing something different, but still working together. Look at environmental organizations doing clean-ups, food banks, that sort of thing.

    5. Sally Rhubarb*

      Regarding the food, have you considered everyone’s dietary restrictions? I can’t have egg or dairy, so if I was forced to go to a work event and wasn’t able to eat anything there, all the engagement wouldn’t mean squat.

      1. Panicked*

        I have Celiac, so I *always* ensure everyone can safely eat at the events I do! I have a separate waffle maker for vegan and gluten free waffles, which covers everyone in my org.

    6. NancyDrew*

      Just a remider that employee engagement isn’t about giving free food to employees! It’s about creating a work culture where leadership is transparent and genuine, where all employees feel they can have a voice, where there are real opportunities for meaningful feedback, where the company’s values are infused into every part of the business/work, and where people understand how what they do day-to-day ladders up to the broader mission/goal.

      1. Cj*

        this. free food and team building events, even ones that everyone participates in and enjoys, won’t increase employee engagement if the things you mentioned aren’t also in place.

  36. Cyndi*

    I haven’t had a question for a bit, because everyone in here was so good about giving me advice through a really unpleasant job search + last few months at my old job. But here I am again!

    I’m assisting a solo practice lawyer, so the firm is strictly speaking just him and me. Lately he’s on a real marketing/growth kick about refining our intake process, networking more, visibility to potential clients, all that kind of thing, and looking more closely at how other law firms handle those things. Sales/marketing is very much NOT my thing, though? Obviously I recognize that this is an important and necessary side of the business, but my natural tendency is to be suspicious of anyone whose job is to teach you how to finesse customers into giving you more money. Like for example he’s got this model weekly schedule he got from somewhere where one of the weekly time blocks is called “personal development/consume content” and something about the whole thing makes my skin crawl a bit, but I don’t know how to articulate why, or whether or not there’s actually a valid concern in here somewhere that I should maybe bring up to him.

    So I’m wondering, does anyone have any insight on how to distinguish between useful business advice and grindset bro BS?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Well, personal development is something that any professional should do. “Consume content” is a pretty clunky, tech-influenced way to describe it, but it’s not wrong. When I was a young professional, I built a couple hours into my week to read all the trade magazines, so I could get up to speed with industry trends, terminology, etc.

      I think also your “finesses customers into giving you more money” is not the right way to think about it. It should be either “get more customers” or “get customers who are willing to pay more because my lawyer boss offers them something better”. If the business model really is “lowball the customer, then load them up with a lot of hidden fees after the fact”, then that’s a strike against the ethics of your boss in general.

      1. Cyndi*

        It’s both “get more customers” and “get customers who are willing to pay more”! It’s not like a stereotypical greasy car salesman kind of situation, I know, it’s one where people have a genuine need and the fix (us) is often alarmingly expensive. But the thought of being pushy? assertive? about this at all is out of my comfort zone so I really appreciate the gut check.

        Also we’re (as best I can tell) very up front about our fee structure, but I did bring up this week that a lot of people might not actually understand what a retainer payment is–I didn’t understand it correctly until I started here! My boss has just been assuming his whole career that everyone knew, and he’s gone full shocked Pikachu about this and is going around asking people about it at random.

        1. Tio*

          Sales in general, for all industries, tends to be really pushy. That’s why certain types of people do great and certain types run screaming.

        2. kalli*

          At my firm we don’t call it a retainer, we ask clients to put money in trust to cover our fees and tell them that when we’ve done X amount of billables we’ll check in with them to discuss finances. We might ask them to put $1k in trust and check in with them if we hit $2.5k, and at that point we’ll talk about how much of that we’re likely to be able to claim out of a settlement, where the $1k has gone (expert reports etc. or we still have it in case we need to commission a report) and if they still want to go ahead.

          We still get a lot of people confused, but that’s more over how they don’t understand that they gave us money but we’re not billing them until the end, or why we aren’t charging them directly at the end (because we can take it out of the settlement so it’s not the same as paying us then getting the settlement). Nobody knows what a retainer is still. But we can say ‘we need to pay for this report, we’ve taken it from trust, here’s a statement for that’ and that works out eventually.

      2. GythaOgden*

        At a very low level in extremely backwater retail, after the Saturday morning rush I had plenty of time to sit and read The Grocer, which my employer ordered but never opened. It was fascinating how much I learnt about the corner shop industry just from the slow parts of my job.

    2. ferrina*

      I’m fluent in Jargon, which is extremely helpful for this kind of nonsense.
      Jargon is annoying, especially if you are someone who likes plain speech. But some Jargon does serve a purpose and has useful words we don’t use in colloquial speech, and if it’s the culture of your industry, it can be useful to speak Jargon. It also just helps some folks formulate their thoughts more clearly.

      As for “personal development/consume content”, that’s actually just setting time aside to read articles and try to figure out what the landscape of marketing looks like. It’s like a personal study time, except in business jargon. I’m weirdly not mad at this one and I kind of like that he is blocking time to figure out what’s going on. That can be the hardest part. I’ve seen much stupider names for this.

      One litmus test is the Obfuscation Test. Does the Jargon have a practical purpose, i.e., is it defining a particular term, or is it just trying to look fancy? If it takes more words to describe the Jargon in a colloquial term, the Jargon is useful. (for example, “pipeline” is much better than “the process through which our clients find us, learn about our services and decide whether or not to hire us”)
      Another test is the Readback Test. If you readback the jargon in colloquial terms, what is it actually saying? Is there an actual methodology that it’s describing, or is it saying “Not alienating your customers is good!”
      There’s also the ROI test. What are they asking from you? Are they asking you to pay for a training that is solely focused on how to use their services (which you also have to pay for)? Or are they suggesting ways to schedule your time? That doesn’t cost anything, and you can test it out for a week or two before you decide whether to keep it.
      Finally, the Common Sense Test. Is it just plain stupid? Does it fit with what you already know about your client base? Does it fit with what you’ve heard elsewhere? It’s the same process teachers make their students do- find at least three sources for your foundational information. As you get into very detailed information, make sure that it fits within the paradigm of the foundational information. If it’s contradictory, why?

      1. Cyndi*

        Thank you very much, I appreciate the gut check! I’m coming from an art background originally so the unironic use of the term “content” tends to get my back up by default; it has really impersonal, mechanized connotations to me. But the way you’ve reframed this stuff is really helpful.

        1. WellRed*

          There was an article in the NYTIMES this week about how insulting the word content is. As a writer, it really resonated with me.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Attorneys really need to keep up on legislative and court news, and do Continuing Education to keep their licenses. The jargon is just making it generic to any industry.

      FWIW, the attorneys I’ve worked with in the past grew their visibility / referral network by writing articles for industry publications, participating in legislative review / advisory committees, participating on well-established nonprofit boards or community initiatives related to their field of expertise, and participating on Bar committees or speaking on panels at Bar section meetings. It’s not like generic sales and marketing, which is probably why some of those initiatives feel cheesy. It’s more about demonstrating deep knowledge and community engagement to enhance credibility with discerning people, rather than blanket name recognition.

    4. LA*

      I used to be a solo and have a couple of friends still doing this. I’m not sure how much information you want or how much you want to learn about the marketing side of this, but there are some great FB groups by women on this topic. Search for Boss Lady, Esq. and Lawyer on the Beach Group. The group names aren’t descriptive.

      Basically, they really talk a lot about solo practice in terms of streamlining intake and marketing. Flat fees vs. retainers and all that jazz. Their terms aren’t nearly as tech bro-ish, but give some really solid tips on these two areas.

      BTW I’ve never heard of his phraseology, but the lawyers I do know set aside time to learn more about both these processes as it’s REALLY changed a lot with various apps, payment processes, intake apps, etc.

    5. fhqwhgads*

      If it didn’t say “personal development/consume content” and instead said something like “read articles/watch webinars”, would it feel less ick? Because that’s what it likely boils down to.

  37. Lost in Translation*

    Advice for job seekers: If you are not a fan of driving for long periods of time, check IN PERSON your commute before accepting a job! I’ve been looking for a while, got an offer for a PT and even if the hours were scarce (less than 20 a week), the pay for those few hours was good. GPS said it would be 1 hour each way, I was willing to work with that until finding something else. First day it was 1.5 hours each way; second day it took me 2 hours to get home! Back to the drawing board.

    1. I'm an anony-mouse for today*

      I would add to drive the route during the time you would be going to work and coming home. The time of day can make such a difference on the commute!

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Yes! You can also add the time to Google Maps (probably other apps too) to get a more realistic estimate, but it’s definitely a good idea to actually drive the route at the commuting time. There’s a big difference between seeing “45 min” on the app and being in stop-and-go traffic for 45 min (or whatever the time is).

        1. Ama*

          Waze is pretty good for tracking the differences in how long a given route will take at particular times, I have found.

    2. Cj*

      the navigation program I use on my phone tells you estimated time based on current traffic, detours, etc.

      if you aren’t able to drive the route during your commute time before you accept the job, I would check the navigation tool during the time of your commute to see how long it says it should take.

      remember to use the route from your office to home for your commute home, because traffic flows at different rates in different directions at different times.

  38. Farts*

    Does anyone have any tips on navigating office politics? I’m just really bad at it. I’m great at my technical skills and collaborating work-wise across teams, but I watch people schmooze or not do any work, and they are able to coast for years. Throughout my career, it seems like the best method is to be passive and don’t speak up.

    I know it shouldn’t be how it is, but every time I’ve spoken up (no matter how professionally) or proposed solutions, it either (1) gets me more work without a promotion (2) give me work from other people (3) puts a target on my back as a scapegoat.

    In my last couple of jobs, it seems like a good tactic is to just talk to others about what you are doing and using lots of buzzwords, without actually doing anything.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      You may want to check out these past letters:

      Letter #2 from the “how to play office politics, leaving an internship early, and more” post on August 20, 2013

      “how can I navigate office politics when I hate hierarchy and authority?” from August 22, 2019

      I’ll put links in a reply comment.

    2. Fi*

      I struggle with the same exact thing.

      I am tired of having a target on my back so I’m making a big effort to be more passive, less solutions-focused, less forthright, less useful, more of a suck up. It’s depressing but I feel I have to do it.

      I have found it useful to read Gorick Ng’s book (google him and you’ll find it). He has pointers about navigating office politics. For example, he says that your purpose at work is not really to do your job to your own high standards but to validate your manager’s concerns and fit their world view.

      I am bleakly proud of myself because today, instead of contradicting factual inaccuracies made by a powerful co-worker, I bit my tongue and nodded.

      So completely depressing! Hopefully I will find a happier way to get by, in time…

      1. Fi*

        Following up my own comment to say that I’ve just read the “How Can I Accept Office Politics” letter and comments underneath it, and I’ve found the comments wise and helpful. There’s a range of perspectives and pieces of advice, but here’s a phrase that made me lol:

        “If they want me to make a sh*t sandwich, I will make a sh*t sandwich, and I will make it the best sh*t sandwich it can be, but I’m also not going to lose any sleep over the fact that it’s still going to be a sh*t sandwich when I’m done.”

        I’m less depressed now.

    3. Mimmy*

      I can completely empathize because I struggle with this as well. Similar to Fi above, I’ve been focusing on not speaking up so much during meetings even if I feel the comment or question would be warranted. I’ve learned that it’s best to keep my head down and just worry about anything that would directly impact my work. One of my coworkers likes to say, “not my monkeys, not my circus” (or is it the other way around? lol). Management does solicit feedback sometimes, but I don’t know how genuinely well it’s taken.

    4. BellyButton*

      Maybe reframe your thinking from “office politics” to “how can I have more influence?” In my leadership development programs I have an entire section about gaining influence. If you search “gaining influence at work” you will find a ton about it.

    5. Xavier*

      I don’t want to be unkind but your comment betrays that you don’t have a lot of respect for your coworkers. People generally don’t like people, however good they are at their job, if they don’t feel respected.

    6. Alternative Person*

      I really struggle with this as well as I try to be conscientious and fair but it seems like the workplace is full of people trying to skate by while I get more work for little reward.

      But, a few tips that have helped me.

      -Make a point to talk to people casually. You can start with ‘How was that meeting last week?’ or similar and go from there. Try to keep track of what’s going on with them and follow up (I use my page a day diary for this but my brain is soup). And not just people in your department, lots (or a few to start with) of people. I’ve made some great friends this way and it’s helped me to find people who have my back as well as keep up with what’s going on in the company.

      -Try to have an idea of what’s going on/what’s coming up (goes back to my first point in some ways). Things can feel much more manageable when you know they’re coming. Think back to any issues the previous year and be ready for them.

      -With your work, pick one or two areas to focus on and stick to them as much as reasonably possible. People want a solution for A and/or B? Great, you’ll pitch in. They want something for C, smile say you’re focused on A and/or B right now or you have no good idea (or whatever is appropriate).

      -Document. This is where my page a day diary comes in handy. Some of it definitely serves as a rage journal (which is good for quieting my brain some days) but it has also been a good way to keep track of what I’ve done over the year so I remember everything come review time. Apply the appropriate e-mail variant for meetings/conversations with colleagues.

      -Consider job hunting. If you’re getting higher level work and you’re not getting a promotion then it might be time to move on. Sure, you may encounter the same problems in a new place, but you’ll hopefully be getting more money for doing it.

      -Occupy your free time. I know I think about work too much (not helped by the fact I’m writing a dissertation about a work component at the moment) but I make myself go on walks and play video games and hang out with non-work friends.

  39. :(*

    Hi all, I’ve got a sticky situation I’d like your thoughts on.

    I have business that I contract with that is not going to have their contract renewed at the end of the year. The organization I work for wants to give them 60 days notice of this, so late October/early November. We just finished our busy season with them, and they are asking for a meeting to go over the season to improve for next year. I don’t want to meet with them because that would feel like lying because I know the contract isn’t getting renewed, and also I’ve been directed not to spend the time meeting with them because leadership doesn’t feel that it’s a good use of time, since we’re not moving forward with them. Is there a way to decline this meeting gracefully, without spilling the beans about the contract before I’ve been given leave to?

    I know it might sound crappy to not just tell them now, but we need them to finish out the contract and we have reason to believe they’d just walk off the job if I tell them now.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Hi Contractor, Unfortunately I’ve got pulled into another project and cannot meet immediately. Let’s each take reminder notes now separately and touch base in November. Thanks.

    2. Alex*

      Just put them off. “I can’t meet to discuss next year before the end of this month due to other items on my plate.”

      One item on your plate is the fact that you aren’t renewing the contract.

  40. Emmers*

    In a bit of a dilemma with my promotion. Option A: Take a lead senior trainer role with a 5% raise within my current team, stay in the union, keep my guaranteed annual raises (3-7%) OR Option B: Take a team managers role with a 4% raise overseeing my current coworkers (4 full time staff, 65 very part time), get out of the union and move to merit based raises (uncertain, could be 1% a year, maybe 3%, rarely 10%)

    With how the team functions my workload and role won’t actually change much between these two roles because whatever the promotional role entails I’m already doing about 90% of it now since our manager left more than a year ago. If I was a manager I’d add some HR paperwork to my current role but that’s about the only real change.

    If I was never going to leave this state and job I’d plan on taking the senior trainer role and ride it out in the union where we can often make more than leadership because of union longevity. This is also the advice I’m getting from three folks who had to make this same choice, granted they are not looking to leave anytime.

    But the field I’m in is incredibly niche (there are at most maybe 10 people who do this in most states, maybe more in NY , CA and TX) and these managers roles don’t come around often at all. It’s also my belief that the manager title is important to future job prospects. But it will lead to less money while I stay here (and yes it is crazy pants that management is paid less than staff) and I don’t know for how long.

    I’m just not sure what is best with so many what ifs.

    1. saskia*

      How long are you planning to stay in this job? If only 1-2 years, take the management role. If longer, do you have a concrete medium-term plan to move?

      1. Hlao-roo*

        To put some numbers behind this (for simplification, I assumed a current salary of $100,000 and steady annual raises of 5% with the senior trainer role and steady annual raises of 2% with the management role after the initial 4% raise):

        After 2 years, the trainer role will pay $110,250 and the manager role will pay $106,080. You’ll have lost out on $5,170 in pay over those two years if you take the manager role, which may be worth the opportunity for future jobs.

        After 5 years, the trainer role will pay $127, 628 and the manager role will pay $112,573. You’ll have lost out on $26,240 in pay over those five years if you take the manager role.

        After 10 years, the trainer role will pay $162,889 and the manager role will pay $124,290. You’ll have lost out on $71,880 in pay over those ten years if you take the manager role.

        1. Tio*

          I really like that you laid out the numbers, Hlao-roo.

          OP, what’s your idea of the next step? You say “probably” you’ll move in the next five years, but what if you don’t? Do you want to stay in this role until you move, or will you start looking in a year or two no matter what? What is it in the management title that you think will transfer better to your imagined next step? Do you want to do management long term or no? Do the future jobs you are considering need management experience, or is it just the idea that the title looks better?

    2. Lemon*

      I know you highlight 65 “very part time” staff, probably meaning they engage in 2 hours/week or similar…but as someone who manages a team of “very part time” staff, it’s still A LOT. that’s a lot of availability to balance; minor issues to ammend; people to chase for various annual renewals of relevant qualifications…add 4 full timers into the mix, that 4% payraise is not enough.

    3. The Dude Abides*

      Stay in the union.

      I jumped four titles to a non-union manager position, and got a 50% raise, and still on some days I question whether it was worth it.

  41. DisneyChannelThis*

    I’m having some issues with a food drive at work, not enough people donated, management is sad and making blanket statements about our department vs other departments. I’m academia adjacent, food pantry is for current students at the university. It’s well used. It’s just food is pricey as heck right now and most people don’t have a little extra to spend. I think part of the upset by management is the potluck today was well participated in, but the food drive bin is still less than half full and today is the last day.

    1. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

      As someone who works in academia, I think it’s icky how often I’m asked to financially support institution initiatives …. I love my job, but I know I’m underpaid, and on top of that, I’m paying a lot to park.
      If management wants to support initiatives, then they should make it possible for people to provide labor or service on the clock, i.e., coming out of management’s budget.

      1. DisneyChannelThis*

        Thanks for this idea! I will recommend this. I know spending a day working the food pantry instead of doing work work would be excellent for me. And omg the parking is insane, its university property that we work on, and we have to pay 700 a year for the chance to park there (later arrival has to park even further away and shuttle in)….

    2. saskia*

      I will say, as a manager, who gives a crap? You’re being asked to donate food to students at the university?
      So weird. Most universities have gobs of money. The cost for unlimited meal plan at my college was $8k, and that’s only for 9 months out of the year. How does that even make sense? Maybe the school needs to enact food waste-rescuing initiatives, cut down its spending elsewhere and use its power to actually help its students. No idea why the responsibility should fall upon you.

      1. OP Glowing Symphony*

        “No idea why the responsibility should fall upon you.” Because a community takes care of itself despite what’s occurring at management level.

        I work in food bank fundraising.

        1. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

          I can guarantee you that whatever institution OP works at, the institution is making very deliberate choices not to provide additional funding to the food pantry and provide funding elsewhere.
          Do you want to know how this is being handled at my institution? My unit head is allocating additional funds to the food pantry out of our unit budget, since we know the student sub-group we oversee is the sub-group that uses the food pantry the most. My unit head has not once asked for employee donations.

        2. saskia*

          But it may not be efficient to rely upon each member of the community equally when some have many more resources than others.
          For context, I spent a period of my life volunteering at a food rescue operation whose founder forged relationships with huge companies to collect their older food they normally throw away. This ‘old’ food was completely within expiration date, still good, amazing quality (think Whole Foods or Pat LaFrieda) but just needed to be cleared to make way for new stock. We worked in a warehouse pushing pallets around on jacks and sorting giant bins of vegetables. So I know what it’s like to work for my community — don’t really need a lecture. And if you work in food bank fundraising, I know you know that money has more power than a couple boxes or cans of donated food. The university has that money and power, not random people that work for it.

      2. DisneyChannelThis*

        After first year food plan is not mandatory and most students do not use one. I know at our institution about 30% of students will use it at some point, especially the graduate/phd students. Food cost is one of the things that creates inequality in students, rich background students can afford food,housing etc and focus on studies. Joe Schmoe the first in 4 generations to go to college is working 3 jobs and trying to study. Food pantries really make a big difference in the lives of students. If you’re hungry you cannot focus well. I don’t know about elsewhere but I know at least here the university is kicking money monthly to supplement the food pantry, it was part of their actions to address poverty in students.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Once we decided to run universities “like a business,” suddenly the top people got tons more pay, tuition got unaffordable for middle class students (do they even exist anymore), and students started needing to use food banks. (I know some always have, but they were more likely to be exceptions.)

          Don’t even get me started on what happened to hospitals once they started being run for profit instead of by and for the communities they served.

    3. OP Glowing Symphony*

      “I think part of the upset by management is the potluck today was well participated in, but the food drive bin is still less than half full and today is the last day.”

      Perhaps the messaging or ask isn’t resonating. Employees are aware of the pantry, who uses it, how many students are using it, ideal donations (pasta, dry meals, canned food?) All the pertinent information to make a donation?

      Yes, it seems a bit mis-aligned that the potluck was engaging, but no one could be bothered to bring a food item. I work for a food bank, yes, food costs are hard for many, but if they can muster a potluck, they can muster a can of food for the students – their community.

      We’re asked to give to our food bank, too, and a lot of us shop our pantries 1x month and bring in food.

      “most people don’t have a little extra to spend. ” They do. We have donors who are on strict budgets, and they give $5 month with a note saying how this cut into their lives, but they do it because we feed so many people.

      However, management needs to settle down and not make it a competition. That’s misplaced effort and doesn’t feed the students.

      1. kalli*

        Plus potlucks you can make extra of a regular meal and use less than you might have to be donating; with donating ingredients you have to buy or cut a whole packet out of your stores, which can be more impactful on you than making a full pot of pasta carbonara and boxing half to take in to work for the potluck. They’re different asks (with different benefits – workplace capital at the potluck, and company CSR points for the food drive; you’re going to put in something at the potluck if it makes your job easier or at least less hard because you’re not seen to be not participating, but the company CEO getting to take a picture with a full box? affects everyone regardless of personal input), and higher up people aren’t always used to thinking that way.

        Another example: I make a week’s risotto at a time and my dad takes half of it for his lunch and I eat my small meal every day out of it. I can make 5 batches of risotto from one packet of arborio rice, three onions, one packet of cheese, half a packet of vegan butter, 5 cloves of garlic and maybe 1/100th of a jar of basil. If I was to donate a packet of rice that would be 1 month of food, and if I was to donate enough for 5 batches of risotto I’d need 2kg of onions, 3 packets of butter (or 2 larger ones), a packet of cheese and a full head of garlic and jar of basil. That’s going to be 2-3 months of food.
        Obviously I don’t always or only have risotto, but that’s how the maths ads up. I can make one lot of risotto and take half to a potluck, have my serving separate and free from contamination, and it costs me less than it would to donate even one ingredient, and if that’s a difference I need to quantify and assess, then I’m going to approach it differently, either by donating money separately and not from my food budget, or giving my time to another organisation I can quantifiably help.

        That said, often with food drives/donation drives, they go a lot better if the company sets a budget and says they’ll match donations up to X. It gives everyone an idea of what their ‘share’ should be, and makes people feel like their small donation is more helpful because it means the company has to give that much – all the same tricks companies use when they use ‘we’ll double it’ with customer donations work on employees to some extent. :/

    4. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      I would just make an observation about how the impact of inflation can be seen everywhere, including at the food bank.

      If you want to make a comment about inflation outpacing (your) salaries you could do that too, but it depends on what tone you want to set.

    5. miel*

      I think management needs to reevaluate a few things. Asking employees for donations, even for a very good cause, is always dicey.

      Also, food pantries can typically buy food in bulk for pennies on the dollar. If given the choice between spending $5 on groceries to donate, vs donating $5 to the food pantry directly, the cash will go a LOT farther. (Of course, asking employees to donate cash is even dicier than asking to donate food.)

      Ultimately, unless you’re management, I don’t think this is your problem to solve.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Cash is SO important. Our local food banks often have to turn down badly needed food from outside their immediate area because the cost of loading and transporting it is more than the cost of the food itself.

    6. Sutemi*

      I never give food in canned food drives. I give significant dollars to the local food bank, they have better purchasing power in bulk and know what needs to be filled in (dry goods, menstrual products, fresh veggies, regional foods). Maybe those in your department decided to give in ways that aren’t as visually obvious?

    7. Loreli*

      Many food pantries/food banks can use money instead of food donations. This is because they are able to buy in bulk. Given economies of scale, the food bank can get more food items if 100 people donated one dollar apiece, than if those 100 people individually bought a food item for a dollar and donated the item.

      Sometimes drives like this are more “group building activities” because giving a food item feels more personal than giving cash. But the goal of supporting the food pantry should be to maximize the results of the donations.

      Check with your local food bank on this. Get info. Make a sign like “With $50. of donations, our food bank can purchase 10 pounds of , , 25 cans of ” etc.

  42. semi-corporate moth*

    I work in a muli-use, somewhat open-plan office that’s been converted from an event space in the middle of a campus. In our suite, students (20-50 at a time) use it as a flex space to eat, work, study, spend time with friends, and have informal meetings. It gets L O U D. There’s no sound baffles in the space at all, but even with the carpeted floors, I can hear people’s entire conversations. Our big boss said it was too expensive to install sound baffles and kind of laughed it off when I suggested them. We’re also not allowed to close our doors/wear noise canceling headphones unless we’re in a meeting or on a call, since we’re expected to be available and answer the office phone. I’m also wary to contact HR, since it would be obvious who did so from my previous request.

    It’s nearly impossible to focus on deep work that I’m required to when I can’t even drown out conversations/laughs/echoes with a white noise machine. Is this a reasonable environment to work in? What would you do?

    1. RagingADHD*

      Where I come from, anyone who is senior enough to have a door is also senior enough to decide when they need it closed. This is a bluff worth calling.

      I would close my door and put a sign on it that says “Please come in – I am available.” If you are doing good work, they are not going to fire you over this. And if they are stupid enough to do so, then at least you’re out of a ridiculous situation and collecting unemployment.

    2. BellyButton*

      UGG it is my worst nightmare. If there are multiple people who are responsible for answering the phones or whatever else prevents you from wearing headphones, can you each cover for a couple of hours so you can have focus time with headphones or closing the door?

      It’s the only think I could think of.

    3. Reba*

      I would hate this.

      Possible compromise with boss, you can close your door, but add a sign that can be switched between “on a call, do not disturb” and “Available, please knock!”

      The wrinkle in this plan is that people don’t read signs. But I would present it (or maybe just start doing it?) with the explanation that you are struggling to focus and want to try this as a strategy to see if it helps you be more efficient or whatever measure would make sense for your work. Sometimes if you present something as an experiment it is more palatable as a change.

    4. Ama*

      I would absolutely hate this. I bet my former office wasn’t even half as loud as yours and getting to move to work from home was a revelation (I sat right in front of the staff breakroom and I would bet at least 50% of my workplace stress was trying to focus with the noise level). But I didn’t have an office, just a cubicle — I was allowed to use headphones, though.

      I’m also confused about the door — if the main office line doesn’t ring at your desk, it shouldn’t be that hard to make it do that. And all you need to do is stick a sign on the outside of your closed door that says “Please come in if you have a question,” or something if your boss is worried people will think you aren’t available.

  43. Anonymoose*

    Was there an update to the letter a little while ago about Tom, Arthur, and Tom lying about Arthur sexually harassing him? I hope it’s okay to ask, because I’m really hoping things worked out for Arthur and the OP.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      The original poster wrote a comment under the name “OP Here” No other update so far, but the letter was just posted two weeks ago. I’ll link to the OP’s comment in a reply.

        1. Anonymoose*

          thanks. I was wondering if there was a further update, but I guess not. I hope things worked out okay.

          (BTW I love your screen name, Pipkin!)

  44. Turingtested*

    I need an internalized misogyny check please.

    Let’s say I’m head of llama grooming. one of the groomers went on leave and we hired a temp. Temp didn’t have direct experience but verbally stated that she wants this to be her career.

    We had a fantastic opportunity to meet with some of the finest llama groomers from across the globe. Due to time differences, the meeting was at the very start of our work day. I invited her and used the words “good for your career development” and made it clear that this was a Big Deal.

    She missed the meeting, no call or text, because her child forgot a daily use item.

    I’m not upset with her, but I have decided she doesn’t really take this seriously as a career. If it were something that wasn’t used every day, or an emergent situation I wouldn’t see it that way. Or if she’d communicated with me.

    However, I’m concerned that I’m not giving grace to a parent or somehow being sexist. To be clear I’m not out to get her, I just mentally shifted her from “wants to advance” to “regular worker.”

    1. Ginger Cat Lady*

      “I’m not upset with her” but I’ve fundamentally resigned her to a track that she’ll be an utter failure because of one issue.

      1. Turingtested*

        In all seriousness, you don’t think missing an opportunity for career development with 0 communication indicates anything bigger?

        I certainly don’t think she’s a failure! I just think maybe she’s telling me what she thinks I want to hear versus actually having a passion for the work. most people don’t have a passion for their job.

        1. ferrina*

          Is it bad if she doesn’t have passion for the job? You can still be good at your job and have a great career without feeling a ton of vigor or passion. Most of us would rather be doing something else with our time, but we’ve made our career where it is, and as long as we’re here, we’re going to do well at whatever our job requires. I’ve given promotions to people that weren’t passionate, but were very, very good at their job and who added a lot of value through their work.

          1. saskia*

            Being good at your job usually means you don’t no-call, no-show to important meetings.

            OP, have you actually spoken to her in depth about this and reviewed the issues? Do you have any sense of her aptitude for this job other than her saying she wants this career? How is her work outside of this incident?

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

          How else is her work? You can’t just allow one thing to cloud your judgement here.

        3. Annony*

          Missing a single career development opportunity means absolutely nothing. You could talk to her about the lack of communication if in general she needs to let you know when she is late, but she probably thought missing a meeting that she was not essential to did not require a heads up. But getting on the same page about expectations when she is late and deciding she doesn’t want career development opportunities are very different things.

        4. Fluffy Fish*

          I think she’s a temp and maybe just getting back into the working world who deserves some grace.

          Whether you realize it you sound like you’re being judgmental based the “daily use item”. You don’t get to decide how she parents or what she feels is important and I highly doubt you know enough about either her or the child to make any kind of value judgement on whether she needed to handle it or not.

          By all means talk to her about it. You may feel you we’re crystal clear about it being a big deal but as this blog constantly shows us, what’s we think we’re saying and what people are perceiving don’t always line up.

        5. Eldritch Office Worker*

          No, it doesn’t. Sounds like she didn’t handle a specific incident ideally, but that happens to all of us – children or no, serious about our careers or no.

          I take my career very seriously and this kind of meeting wouldn’t necessarily feel urgent or unskippable to me. “Good for your development” often signals “we don’t need you here” so she may not have felt like she needed to give a heads up. I’d let it go.

        6. Ginger Cat Lady*

          No, it indicates that something came up that morning.
          My whole point is that you claim you’re not upset, yet you’re jumping to the worst possible conclusion about what it means.
          Face it. You are upset, and you want to punish it for her because you are *assuming* it “means something bigger”
          You just want people here to tell you that it’s okay.

    2. Box of Kittens*

      Are there other issues you’ve seen from her besides this incident that are influencing this mindset shift? If so, I feel like your reaction makes more sense. But if this is the only thing that caused this mindset shift, I would lean toward thinking that maybe this is influenced by some internalized misogyny. That said though, have you talked to her about this and given her a chance to explain herself and talk about whether she’s still interested in trying to move up at this point? I would do that before you stop thinking of her for career advancement opportunities.

    3. ferrina*

      I’m not upset with her, but I have decided she doesn’t really take this seriously as a career.

      Um….what? It’s a pretty big leap from “missed a meeting because Kid Stuff” to “she doesn’t take this seriously as a career”. There’s a lot of levels in between these. I probably wouldn’t invite her to this type of meeting again for a while, but I wouldn’t say “you clearly are subpar!” She’s new in this field, and this is a newby mistake. Is this how you treat all your newbys?

      Kids have needs. They forget things, even things that they remember 99% of the time. Sometimes parents need to do an emergency run to make sure kids have things (teachers frown on kids not having things like, say, food or other essentials). It’s weird that you say it’s a bigger deal if the kid forgot something that wasn’t used every day, because usually the things that are used daily are the things vital in what you do. Things I use daily: car keys, credit card, phone.

      Did Temp handle it well in this situation? No. But compare this to what you’ve seen of her in other situations. Is this a pattern of behavior where she talks a big game, then doesn’t step up? Or is she usually reliable and going above and beyond, and this was an anomaly? How is her work quality? If she does stupendous work, it’s silly to relegate her to “regular worker” because of one misstep. Now I would have a conversation with her about it so she knows this Wasn’t Okay. But I’d also be looking for how she reacts- does she apologize and understand why this was not okay? Does she change her actions in the future so she doesn’t repeat this? Or does she blow you off? (Also, make sure that you don’t include language about her kid- this should be explaining how you want her to handle things if she needs to cancel due to an emergency).

    4. 867-5309*

      I would miffed by this, also. Especially since she did not communicate at all. I think it’s fair to ask her what happened and pay attention if this is a pattern.

      1. Lainey L. L-C*

        That’s where I’m at. It would be completely understandable if she texted/called, “Hey I’m not going to be able to make the meeting, Kid forgot lunch/laptop/soul and I have to run it to school.” Things happen. To not call/text and just blow off meeting, doesn’t seem that interested in the job.

    5. Alex*

      What does your gut tell you you would think if she were a man? Would you have the same reaction?

      I think one small incident–a meeting that would be good for her career, but not one that was counting on her to progress–is too little to make this sweeping assumption about her. Yes, it would have been better if she let you know, but if this isn’t part of a pattern I’d let it go.

      1. I'm Just here for the cats!*

        Also, it doesn’t seem like the OP explained the importance of the meeting. inviting her and saying its “good for your career” is not the greatest unless he explained more. Like did he say ” this is good for your career because most new people don’t get to meet this level of experts in the field. This is really a rare opportunity.” If she’s new she might have thought that this type of meeting was a regular occurrence and there would be another opportunity.

        1. Turingtested*

          Oh I went on at great length about who the meeting was with and why it was important and Temp seemed genuinely excited! I spoke about how it would help in the future, the impacts of what we’d discuss etc. Not a drive by hey maybe think about this.

          1. I'm Just here for the cats!*

            Ok thanks for the information. It wasn’t clear in the original post.

            I know a lot of comments seem to be gaining up on you and I don’t think that’s fair. I think you doing good because you asked for a gut check on this.

            Since she seemed really excited about it I would have a conversation with her. Maybe something has come up (besides the kid thing) that has thrown her off. Like maybe her husband broke his leg and she had to take care of the kids or something else. Check in with her and don’t degrade her to another “Regular worker.”
            also what does that mean? Like do you not treat your “regular” workers the same and give them opportunities? Even if someone has said in the past they are fine with their job and don’t want to expand, you should check in with them and see if anything has changed. You never know when an employee will want to change

            1. Turingtested*

              In my mind, regular worker is satisfied with their job and perhaps wants to become higher level at it but isn’t interested in climbing the corporate ladder. They are the people who make the world go round and are valuable! Temp talks like she wants to aggressively climb the ladder.

    6. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

      I am someone who very much wants to advance in my career. I simply cannot do 8 a.m. meetings due to dropping off my children. No matter how “good for [my] career development” something is, if it’s scheduled for 8-9 a.m., it just CAN’T happen.
      Did you even have a discussion with this person about whether it was actually reasonable realistic to expect them to attend? Or did you just expect they would magically “make it happen” without knowing what support structure or options they had at their disposal to make sure everything got taken care of with their kid?
      You are upset at her. You are upset because she didn’t treat this with the same level of importance that you did … because she has a kid, and she is likely the default parent, and there may not be anyone else to take care of the kid in the morning.
      It’s okay to feel upset, but it’s not okay to decide based on this one thing that “she doesn’t really take this seriously as a career,” and it definitely would not be okay to withhold opportunities in the future based on that.
      Next time, have a two-way discussion instead of assuming she is coming away with the same understanding and/or assuming she is able to take advantage of these opportunities in the same way as you can.

      1. Turingtested*

        Prior to the meeting I had a full conversation. We’re flexible with start times and I spoke about it being earlier than usual, made sure it worked with her schedule. If she’s responded like you, I would’ve checked with all the teams to see if there was an opportunity for a meeting at a time that works with everyone.

        Given the very divided responses I’m getting, I think this is just a difference in approaches to work.

        1. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

          Another thing to consider – since this person is a temp, is she perhaps returning to the work force after some time away? Or, perhaps her previous employment was not in an office setting? This could simply be a situation where someone needs a refresher or overview on all the “unspoken rules” of professional etiquette.

          1. Fluffy Fish*

            I said something similar.

            Also if she’s by chance temping through an agency, often they are instructed to contact the agency if they are going to be late/out as the agency is their actual employer.

            If this is the case then there’s a possibility she did notify someone and it wasn’t passed along.

            Additionally if work has flexible start times and you’ve never instructed her to contact you if there’s an issue and she’s running late then she very well could have not even thought about checking in.

        2. Alex*

          Another thing to consider is that you pitched this as something being good *for her*. Maybe she was putting herself last–maybe she had other things to do that day for work that was for the company, not herself, and so this is the one she let drop so she could tend to her family. I’m having a hard time imagining one meeting–in an observer role nonetheless!– that would be a make-or-break career moment, so maybe she thought that on this particular day, her career development needed to take a backseat to other needs, including both her other work and her family. I don’t think that kind of thinking would be that unusual or indicative of apathy about the job.

        3. SuzzieQueue*

          People are saying you jumped to an unreasonable conclusion, and think it is inappropriate on your part to make HUGE assumptions about this person based on a SINGLE situation. It also appears that you have not discussed the issue of not calling in with this person.

          And yet every time someone posts the above, you come back with all of your reasons you were right in the first place. This makes you sound judgmental, someone who insists they are always right and does not care about finding the rest of the story, gaining context, or who has any sort of empathy for people whose situations are different from yours.

          Differences in approaches to work? Nope. Arrogant boss who thinks they know better than everybody else? And if an employee makes one mistake, that’s it for them – they’re on your sh!t list forever? Sounds like it to me.

          I’m glad you are not my boss.

    7. I'm Just here for the cats!*

      You are definatly in the wrong here. Just because she missed the meeting does not mean that she is not taking her career seriously. And kids are so flipping forgetful. They FORGET SHOES for crying out loud.

      Maybe she should have let you know that she was not going to make it, but she could have been overwhelmed by the morning. You are unfairly judging her.

    8. Hlao-roo*

      After she missed the meeting, did you talk to her about how (1) the meeting was a Big Deal and (2) you expect/require at least a call or text if she’s going to miss a meeting?

      To me, this sounds like a one-off personal situation that wasn’t handled well (on her end). So be clear about how personal situations should be handled better in the future, but I don’t see how “not handling a personal situation well” is equivalent to “just a regular worker who doesn’t want to advance.”

      1. Turingtested*

        I’ve been sitting on it because I wasn’t sure if my initial response was off base. This was recent and I’m going to reflect over the weekend and talk with her next week.

        1. NancyDrew*

          You are not at all wrong here, Turigtested. For the temp to not contact you is unacceptable and would absolutely render me to stop giving her extra chances.

    9. RagingADHD*

      Whether or not she takes the career seriously doesn’t really matter. Did you tell her she was expected at the meeting, or did you tell her she could come if she wanted to? Because if you told her she was expected and she no-showed, no-called an important external meeting of this magnitude (international participants), that is a big time flake-out.

      The reason being about a child has nothing to do with it. Her gender has nothing to do with it. She missed an important meeting for a non-emergency (not a car wreck, not taking anyone to the hospital) *and* didn’t call or text. Last time I checked, neither my lady parts nor my kids prevent me from using my phone. If she were clearly expected, this would make me not promote a temp to a permanent position.

      Now, if you gave her the impression that this meeting was optional or that she was being invited as a favor solely for her benefit, my answer would be different. That’s really the crux, to me.

    10. pansies*

      So, by definition the temp isn’t used to working. So, probably she hasn’t worked out a system with her spouse, if she has one. Also “daily use item” … I have no idea. The only thing that comes to mind is lunch or a raincoat. And, you’re right that giving that to the school after the big meeting would have made more sense. Your temp worker probably has a bit of cognitive dissonance between “really interested in advancing my career” and “Need to do all the childcare things because it falls on me”. It would be a kindness to point this out to her – that you were taking them seriously about career advancement but missing this meeting left a bad impression, so the temp worker needs other systems in place.

      1. RagingADHD*

        I don’t understand where you’re getting that the temp worker “by definition” isn’t used to working?

        Lots of people who are extremely used to working take temp contracts due to a layoff, or moving to a new city, or in a career transition, or because (like Hopeful Ex-Librarian upthread) they felt they had to quit a toxic situation. OP said the worker didn’t have direct llama grooming experience, not that this was their first job.

    11. Capt. Liam Shaw*

      It is only sexism if you would treat a man differently on this.

      What jumps out to me is this is a temp employee.

      If I were a temp and I had my boss say something likeminded “good for my career” I would make sure I made it to whatever.

    12. NaoNao*

      These kind of “hobnob with Ultra Shiny Best in Class Experts” opportunities don’t really translate into easily-understandable, actionable, concrete steps in career development, though. Especially for a newly back to the workforce *temp*.

      I think next time spell out exactly WHY and HOW it’s a good opportunity “You’ll have a chance to ask So and So about their career path, certifications, and what professional development opportunities they made use of to get where they are” or “you know how you said you were interested in U/X? Well, this is a great chance to see some of the best in action and things like this will be a solid checkbox item when temp to perm time comes around.”

      Or whatever. Honestly, listening to World Renowned Experts pontificate is one of my least favorite activities, and I 100% get why she declined to go as a temp–I’d be tempted to decline as a FTE!

      But not giving you a clear heads-up that she’s not going isn’t cool, I get that.

    13. Busy Middle Manager*

      I manage a team that is almost all men and deal with the literal same situation, so feel your pain (this is my largest pet peeve as a manager since it’s so awkward, wondering if they’re going to show up). I don’t see the sexist slant at all. Tell her what you wrote here and extend opportunities a few more times and see if it’s a pattern. Also sometimes beginning of day is bad precisely for this reason.

    14. the bat in the office popcorn machine*

      She no call, no showed. That’s a bad impression, kid or no kid. Plenty of people miss meetings for all sorts of reasons — they typically call or text or email. She could have shot a quick message. It’s basic communication and it’s a yellow flag to me with the information that it’s not an emergency. It would make me feel that if I was gonna invest resources into this person, I’d been to watch a little more closely than I would want…just put me on edge until I can find my footing again or see if it’s a pattern. Did you talk to her about this and how it makes you feel in terms of putting time into mentorship and their career development?

      However, you can’t know if she’s serious. This isn’t a job interview, it’s a call with other professionals that sounds like it was gonna happen whether she is there or not. I’m more concerned on why misogyny came into this.

      1. Turingtested*

        Thank you.

        I’m concerned about misogyny because I’m a working mother who spent 15 years getting my ducks in a row before having a child. I didn’t want non emergency situations to interfere with work and they haven’t. I’m concerned that I’m potentially judging someone for not being like me, rather than on the basis of work. But given the responses, it seems like half the people think I’m being outrageous and half understand so I don’t think it’s a gender thing.

        But yes, I’m trying to figure out if it’s worth sinking extra resources into this person or not. I like the idea of extending a few more opportunities and seeing how it goes.

    15. Rach*

      Imagine the temp was male in the exact same scenario. Do your feelings shift?
      Would you have thought “ugh he missed a great opportunity, but he’s such a good dad!”
      Or “there will be other chances for him to network”
      Bottom line- if it was a man, would you think he wasn’t taking his career seriously?
      If so, that’s a clue that your reaction might be misogynistic.

      If you truly think you’d have had the same reaction regardless of gender, then I think there’s some larger views you should work on reframing here; such as having empathy and emotional intelligence.

  45. Anon is looking for a job*

    I am starting a new job search after 5 years and I have a question about cover letters. Yes, I know many people hate them and don’t want to do them, this question is not for you! I *want* to do a cover letter as I want to take a slight shift in my next job. Think: I’m an apple picker and have been a darn good one for 20 ys but I want to shift into apple picking that focuses on sorting and cataloging. Due to that I want to highlight that I have been doing that. Yes, my resume does have this info but a good cover letter can discuss more. My problem is that the newer application systems, while are awesome that they are so streamlined, some are only allowing a resume. What I did in my last search was to create one PDF that had my resume as the first 2 pages and the third page was the cover letter. This way they see what they requested and then have the additional info of the cover letter afterwards.
    What are thoughts around doing this? Bonus points if you are a hiring manager to give your thoughts.

    1. ferrina*

      I’m a hiring manager that loves cover letters for exactly this reason. I require them because 1) it tests the applicant’s ability to read and follow basic instructions and 2) it gives the applicant space to tell me things that the resume won’t.

      I think what you are doing is fine. Obviously it’s not the best option, but it’s the best that the software will allow.

      I do recommend some analytics- track how many applications you do this approach on and how many you get a call from. See if that percentage is lower than your overall percentage. When I apply for jobs, I keep a spreadsheet that tracks all this kind of stuff- partially because I’m a nerd, partially because it gives me data to help tailor what I’m doing.

      1. Anon is looking for a job*

        I love data and tracking things and will do this! I will add this to my tracking sheet (which I also have!).

      2. RiskyBusiness*

        Your cover letter would get thrown out at every place I’ve worked – I’ve interviewed hundreds of candidates at many different companies and never once seen a cover letter from a candidate. If you sent it attached to your resume when a resume was requested you might get dinged/tossed out for not following instructions or they might just remove that part before passing it on. Some places would have assumed it was a three page resume and tossed it without reviewing it for violating norms that resumes not go over two pages.

        Clearly there are some folks who would like it based on the other responses, but I would consider it risky. That said, if you feel your resume would not be sufficient to get you an interview on its own it may be a risk worth taking.

    2. Decidedly Me*

      Also a hiring manager. We request cover letters, but won’t auto-reject if there isn’t one. However, for people that are looking to switch careers, don’t have clearly related experience on their resume, etc. a cover letter is a must. I have plenty of candidates that I can see relevant experience for, so if I can’t see that and there is no cover letter explaining it, I’m going to pass.

      As for formatting, you’re doing exactly what I would do if there wasn’t an option to upload two files.

    3. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      When hiring I am happy to have PDFs that include cover letter and resume because I want the cover letter too! Some of these systems make it hard to do it separately and I am a fan of any system that gets me the info that I need to decide if I’m moving the candidate forward in the process.

    4. GythaOgden*

      I have a short blurb at the top of my CV that states what I’m doing right now and what I want out of a job. Like receptionist with ten years experience in public healthcare admin looking to advance into a more clerical role. My mum (someone who’s been a hiring manager) wanted me to put on a bit about why I’d stayed so long in my current job because of personal stuff, but a colleague looking over my CV for me told me to cut it. It’s not more than a hundred words or so if that, but it is a standard part of most CV templates out there for UK users at least and it helps to have it front and centre on the applications from job websites that only wanted a CV or where you could one-click apply as long as your profile is complete. I’ve also had recruiters call me directly after uploading it.

      For me with a choppy work history due to neurological challenges and personal issues getting in the way of career development, it’s really important for me to have that tool because my CV alone isn’t that impressive. It’s hard work to get it right but I’ve found that if the job is the right thing for me, I’ve had very little trouble writing something that gets me an interview.

  46. 867-5309*

    Without getting into all the background of how I landed here, I am so excited to share that I finally did it: I was laid off and the thought of getting another executive-level corporate position was giving my panic attacks. However, so was the thought of paying my nearly-$3,000 a month rent. My landlord let me out of my lease early, I put all my stuff in storage, found a part-time freelancing gig + signed up for Task Rabbit, and now I am traveling the next 12 months. By eliminating the expense of a household, it frees up my income significantly. I know I am privileged in this way as I am not married and do not have kids (not that I wouldn’t like both!) and my friends and family are super supportive so I can couch and guest room surf to supplement staying at KOAs, cheap Airbnbs and the occasional hotel.

    Sometimes, I panic, thinking about how much I could me making and why did I blow up my life like this, and I see a VP or CMO role that is perfect… But I am so exhausted from feeding the capitalist machine for the last +20 years.

    I felt like this crew would understand more than most the burn out that led to this path and I also wanted to share in case those who are wondering if they are losing their mind stressed out if there is a light at the end of the tunnel to say there is.

    1. Square Root of Minus One*

      I do understand and I do envy you.
      I don’t nourish the capitalist monster, but in government I need to have faith we’re not heading to the wall and I’m losing that faith. I feel useful, but I feel sabotaged and I’m tired to beg for pennies.
      Last month I told my partner I needed a break. He shut it down directly. We have to pay rent, too. It made me cry. We talked, and he’s more open to figure out a way. It made me feel better.
      I’m still there but burning out… and looking elsewhere. A job that doesn’t drain me, so I can start to pursue other dreams, like finally being a writer.

      1. 867-5309*

        I am not sure if you work for the US government but if so, I am just sorry. It is a cluster of epic proportion and my family members are so stressed out about the pending shutdown.

        Even if not Federal, government generally is tough in our country right now.

        All I can say is that… for me, I had to completely blow up my life and accept the uncertainty because what I’ve been doing is not working for my mental and emotional health. Check out the book and/or movie, “Nomadland.” It is a searing look at the realities of what is happening to the middle class and a pretty interesting look at people who should be retiring and instead made the hard decision to give up their home (the biggest expense) and travel looking for work. Both unfortunately and frustrating, but also a testament to what we all have inside us to make life work. Hang in there.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Thanks for sharing! Very cool that you’re making this work. I appreciate the reminder that there are more options out there than just “9-5 grind, paying a mortgage/rent.”

    3. RagingADHD*

      That sounds exciting! After having just come off 8 years of freelancing, I don’t miss it and am super happy to be back in a nice stable situation. But I’m glad I did it, and glad you have figured out a way to make it work for you.

  47. Optimus*

    Is there any legal protection for an employee whose coworkers are complaining about her pumping at work? Not complaining about her being unavailable for a minutes but just complaining because a pump is there in her (not shared) office, and it upsets them to see it?

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Complaining TO her? That could certainly be considered harassment depending on the frequency and content. Either way HR or their manager should shut it down immediately.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            +1 and should not be telling her, IMO. I could hear other thoughts on that, but I think it’s one more thing a pumping mother shouldn’t have to think about. But if it does have to be shared I’d share it in the context of “this is handled, you don’t need to do anything different, but I didn’t want to keep you out of the loop about a conversation that regards you.”

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Even complaining about her, especially if it could get back to her. I can’t speak to the legal aspect but it doesn’t seem like it would be. But it’s definitely an issue for HR or management!

    2. 867-5309*

      I will let the attorneys weigh-in on the legality but… Are they just seeing the pump or seeing it in-use?

        1. 867-5309*

          That is so bizarre. It reminds me of the letter writer who got in trouble because coworkers so tampons or something in their car.

    3. Fluffy Fish*

      Well generally speaking, she’s legally protected to pump at work. However I doubt there’s anything legally speaking that prevents coworkers from expressing they don’t want to see a pump.

      That said – an employer has every right to tell employees to knock off bad behavior (and in this case to grow-the hell up).

      I’d probably say something along the lines of – Allowing for pumping at work is a legal mandate. You don’t have to like it but you need to cease commenting on it.

    4. Schrodinger's Cat*

      Are you their manager or a fellow coworker? I think I’d tell them she is legally entitled to have and use a medical device that happens to be a pump at work and to lay off the complaints because it makes them sound like middle schoolers. If you are their manager and you hear about more complaints then you can escalate further.

      I am rolling my eyes so hard at this one – when I was pumping I overheard one of my coworkers complain because he saw a small cooler in the fridge. Yes it had breastmilk in it, but it was a closed cooler, for goodness sake. I lost a great deal of respect for him in that moment.

      1. Optimus*

        Oh, I wish I were a manager or coworker, I’m just a friend. Manager actually informed her that because it’s making (anonymous) people uncomfortable, she needs to do a better job of hiding the equipment. Friend pushed back but I doubt she will have a lot of support. No idea if her HR is the type who will nip this or will side with manager.